Whenever I write anything about drugs I am always a little nervous in case I somehow trivialise the use of the so-called soft variety such as cannabis. Most people understand that heroin and cocaine is damaging if not lethal but there is an ongoing argument about whether or not cannabis is harmful. Personally, I believe regular use can be detrimental to one’s health but, either way, the consequences of being prosecuted and convicted for possession of cannabis is a serious matter.

My advice to any young person is to stay well clear. Alcohol is also a very dangerous drug if abused but the hard fact of the matter is that if a young man or woman is walking down the street, even with a reasonable amount of booze on board, they are breaking no law as long as they behave themselves. On the other hand, a person could be minding their own business, be completely sober and not bothering anybody but, if they have as much as a cannabis butt in their pocket, they will be prosecuted and will have to endure all that an appearance in court entails. It is probably an unfair and unjust situation but, until somebody changes the law, it should be a no- brainer to come to the conclusion that use or possession of cannabis is simply not worth the risk.

The reason I mention this is because the recession is affecting almost everybody and even the Poor Box at special sittings in Portlaoise District Court has registered a big downturn in contributions to its charities.

It is one particular avenue of revenue that has mainly been affected. Every year, special courts are held to deal with people prosecuted at The Electric Picnic Concert, mostly for possession of cannabis. For the most part, if the defendants have no previous convictions, they are usually dealt with by way of the Probation Act and a contribution to the Court poor box in accordance with the defendants’ financial circumstances.

Last year, the Poor Box benefited by more than €80,000 from the festival but, following almost two days of hearings last week, only €35,000 had been donated to the court charities. Defendant after defendant told the court that, unfortunately, they were now unemployed and their only income was the Jobseekers’ Allowance.

At the end of last year’s festival, which attracted 30,000 people to the 600-acre estate in Stradbally, a garda spokesperson said there had been no major public order incidents. Pointing out that the people who attended The Electric Picnic were of a more mature age and very easy to police, the spokesperson said the main job the gardai had at the festival was to prevent criminals taking advantage of the fans!

Tesco’s new tomato

I can’t make my mind up whether or not it is a good thing but Tesco have reportedly come up with a tomato that retains its juice thus doing away with sandwiches that leak! Apparently, growers have been experimenting with different varieties for quite some time on behalf of the company in an effort to create a tasty tomato that is ideal for sandwiches. Now they say they have succeeded and the new tomato has a more dense internal structure that retains more of the juice. If it tastes good and cuts down on the shirt and blouse staining then, I guess, they are on to a winner.


Last orders at The Three Counties

The Three Counties Pub in Maganey, on the borders of Carlow, Kildare and Laois, is well known to many Waterford people, especially those who have followed the fortunes of the Deise footballers. In business for 140 years, the famous pub is owned and run by the Harris family but, for personal and business reasons, they have now decided to call it a day. Dolores Harris admitted last week the business was neither viable nor profitable. She said there was no point opening the doors from Monday to Friday and it wasn’t possible to survive on the takings from Saturdays and Sundays. I guess it is just another sign of the times and the closure is being repeated in many other parts of the country.

However, subject to planning permission, the premises will continue to offer a service to the community when it opens next September as a Montessori school, crèche and after-school facility under the management of Siobhan Harris.

Parents step up pressure for Educate Together schools

A postcard campaign is currently underway in Waterford Educate Together National School calling on local representatives to support Educate Together’s move to second-level. Postcards asking for support in lobbying the Minister to confirm Educate Together as a patron at second level as a matter of urgency and will be available for signing at the school and will then be sent to local councillors, TDs and MEPs as part of a nationwide lobbying blitz.

Educate Together already has an enviable track record in Waterford, with the thriving Educate Together primary school now in its seventh year.

An Educate Together second-level school would not pose an extra cost to the system. Recognition would mean that families at local level could be provided with a modern, holistic, multi-denominational, learner-centred education suitable for second-level students in the 21st century.

A dual purpose, wonder product!

A Tramore man was driving home from Waterford late one night last week when, just beyond Katie Reilly’s Kitchen, he ran over a rabbit. There was nothing he could do as the little animal raced out in front of him from a hedge and he had no opportunity to avoid the impact. The man was extremely concerned and stopped his car and went back to see what state the rabbit was in. Unfortunately, the bunny was as dead as a doornail and, because he was an animal lover and was still in shock, he broke down in tears. He was still wiping his eyes when a car pulled up beside him. “What’s the matter”, said the beautiful, blonde, woman driver who couldn’t help but notice the man’s distressed state.

“I shouldn’t be making such a fuss”, replied the man, “but I’ve just knocked down and killed this little rabbit and I feel awful about it.” The woman’s warm smile disappeared as she sympathised with the man in his predicament. But, then, her eyes lit up and she smiled broadly. “Don’t worry”, she exclaimed, “I think I have the answer to your dilemma.”

She returned to her car and he could see her rummaging about in her handbag for a couple of minutes before she returned with a small spray-can. “Stand back”, she said, as she sprayed the contents of the can over the dead rabbit. Within seconds the rabbit began to stir and in less than a minute he began to hop gingerly away from where he had lain. To the Tramore man’s utter amazement, the rabbit kept turning around to wave his paw back at them. Eventually, the rabbit disappeared into the undergrowth from where he had come but not before he stood up on his hind-legs and gave the pair of motorists one last, lingering wave.

“My God, what is that stuff you sprayed on the rabbit”, asked the man, his eyes wide open in astonishment. “It’s nothing, I should have thought of it straight away”, replied the woman flashing a broad smile as she held up the can for the man to read the label. It said: ‘Wonder Hair Spray – Restores Life to Dead Hair – Adds Permanent Wave’.