The new, worldwide head of the Dominican Order is Fr Bruno Cadoré who visited Ireland last week. His mother is French and his father from Martinique in the Caribbean and last September he was elected Master of the Dominican Order. Fr Cadore is 57 years old and joined the Dominicans when he was 25. Before entering the Order he was a medical doctor and had spent a short time working in Haiti.

Angry hen owners

Hen owners all over the country are angry about new regulations that require all owners to be licensed even if they have only one bird!

The regulations apply to everybody but rural based people are particularly angry about the situation because there is a great tradition here of people keeping a small number of hens in their back gardens to provide eggs for their own tables.

A department of Agriculture spokesperson said regulations were being tightened in a bid to combat dangerous diseases such as Avian Flu and it was in everybody’s interest to battle against such infections. However, many people are not impressed declaring that common sense has gone out the window with regulations that are too heavy handed.

“There has never been any evidence of damage being done to a human being by free-range eggs, it’s in the factories that the potential problems arise,” said one embittered hen owner.

The multi-million business that is First Holy Communions

There were new calls this week for an end to the element of a child’s First Holy Communion that has become a cash extravaganza of enormous proportions.

Both The Church and the Department of Education are being urged to introduce compulsory regulations that would seriously reduce the cost for parents as, for many families, loans for First Holy Communions were the first steps into a spiral of debt.

The cost of the day can average out at €1,000 per child and Ulster Bank has estimated that, countrywide, 60,000 youngsters received the Sacrament this year and that, between them, they made €30m in contributions of which about €13m was salted away in saving accounts.

Overall, the First Holy Communion industry creates an annual spend of about €57m, according to the financial experts. Nobody can stop parents spending money they don’t have on things they don’t need but many people strongly believe that schools and the Church could play a bigger part in decreasing the pressure.

Drug addicts saving up to go abroad

Disturbing reports last week that drug addicts living in this county are now saving up to have treatment in England such is the inadequacy of our local services. The startling claim was made by a representative of the Merchants Quay Drugs Project who asked not to be named.

According to the Project member, one of the biggest problems facing addicts was access to treatment centres and many were saving up to travel to England for treatment. It seems that addicts here can access methadone but, in England, an alternative called Subsutex is available which is much easier to detox from.

Another professional who works in the area of drug addiction said she could not understand why methadone was being used as a long-term tool to fight addiction. She criticised the fact that some rehabilitation centres insisted on patients being free of drugs before they were accepted. “It’s like telling an alcoholic that they will receive treatment but only after they have giving up drink,” she said.

The woman also stated that drug education should be available in primary schools as she had come across children as young as 10 and 11 who were already experimenting with illegal substances. It is certainly food for worrying thought.

A hard tune to be learned

An officer on one of the Tall Ships in Waterford port last week had only been married for three weeks before he had to return to duty. The happy couple made arrangements that the wife would fly into Waterford Regional Airport and meet up with her husband when the ship berthed for the Tall Ships Festival.

They spent ages kissing goodbye on the dockside and the wife confided to her new husband that she was a bit worried as there were lots of beautiful, female cadets on board his ship. “There will be lots of temptation put in your way,” she said tearfully.

“My darling, I am head over heels in love with you and I wouldn’t dream of even looking at another girl,” her husband said earnestly. “Well,” she said with a smile, ”to keep you company on those long, lonely nights, I’ve bought you a harmonica which you can learn to play while you are away.”

Last Thursday, a month to the day since they parted, his Tall Ship sailed into Waterford and he was thrilled to see his wife waving frantically from her bedroom window in The Granville Hotel.

Once all the business of berthing the vessel was complete, the dashing young naval officer made his way quickly to the Granville where his wife was waiting to greet him with open arms. “I’ve missed you so much, my darling, I can’t wait to get you into bed and make mad, passionate love,” he gushed.

“Me neither,” said his wife, “but first, let’s see how well you got on with that harmonica.”