Chaos in the Longford chamber `disgraces the flag'


The festive spirit was sadly absent at last week's meeting of Longford County Council. "Chamber chaos" ran the lead story headline in the Longford News, which recounted the "furious scenes" when a meeting of the authority was adjourned during a debate on plans to refurbish Longford Courthouse.

The council chairman, Seamus Finnan, called a halt to proceedings when Mickey Doherty declined to refrain from making further comments on the issue. In the row that ensued a "clearly emotional" Philo Kelly condemned the arguments from both sides of the chamber. Fighting to compose herself, the paper reports, Ms Kelly said it was "a disgrace to the flag and the many men who represented this council" that such scenes were taking place.

Before the outbreak of hostilities, Mr Finnan had said the future of the courthouse was now before a third minister for justice. Of all the courthouses requiring renovation in recent years, Longford's remained the only one waiting for repair.

The Carlow Nationalist was in triumphalist mood, reporting in its main story that Bobby Molloy, Minister of State with responsibility for housing, had done a "complete U-turn" on the controversial Shaw Park housing schemes in Carlow town. The Minister's decision to grant approval for the schemes, reversing his earlier refusal, followed a public outcry led by the Nationalist, the paper modestly proclaimed. Fine Gael deputy John Browne said the Minister's "climbdown" was a victory for democracy.

Not triumphalist but certainly victorious was Tom Parlon, whose landslide win in the IFA presidential election was front-page news in the Midland Tribune and the Nenagh Guardian. Both papers gave the contest the air of an Offaly-Tipperary championship clash, the Tribune reporting that "the Coolderry man defeated his Tipperary opponent Michael Slattery" by 721 branch votes to 204.

The Guardian said that Parlon "beat off the challenge of Clonoulty-Rossmore's Michael Slattery". Even all farming politics is local, it seems.

A woman who described herself as "a lady" at Headford Court in Co Galway talked herself into a jail sentence and a tongue-lashing from Judge John Garavan.

Rita Leonard from Tonemace, Corrandulla, who was charged with public order offences on three separate occasions last summer, claimed she was the "most peaceful woman in this court" and was known as "a lady inside a 40-mile radius", who did social work for destitute people, the Connacht Tribune reported.

Her glowing self-assessment was not shared by Judge Garavan, who told the woman she was "neurotic, raucous, obsessive, vicious" and had a "viper's tongue", the paper said. "The longer you are in the witness box the more of a mess you are making," he told her, before jailing her for three months.

Mystery surrounds an incident near Strabane, Co Tyrone, involving a bus taking up to 50 members of the Donegal Youth Orchestra home from a recent Sunday-night engagement in Ballygawley, the Donegal Democrat reports.

An unnamed adult who was on board the bus said a petrol bomb was thrown at the vehicle after it was confronted by four masked individuals, one of whom brandished a gun. But another witness, Mr Jim Rafferty of Glenties Comprehensive School, said the incident was nothing more than a few youths involved in a prank. As far as he could see, the device thrown at the bus was merely some kind of firework or sparkler.

Petrol bomb or firework, the incident left little impression on the young musicians, according to the unnamed witness. "Most of the students were so busy singing, they missed the whole thing."

The Western People reports that "miracle man" John Garbutt, from Hartlepool in the north of England, has returned to the House of Prayer in Achill to give thanks for a "cure" experienced on a visit to the House last October.

Mr Garbutt said he knew "nothing on Earth" could have cured the damage that was done when he received back and neck injuries in an accident involving a horse three years ago. He had lived a life of "pain management" since then and had been occasionally confined to a wheelchair, but was now "literally floating on air".

He had come here initially to test the Guinness and the Jameson, but now had no desire to do so. "All I want to do is spend my time in prayer and thanksgiving."

Mr Garbutt's story was not the only possible miracle featured in the People. The same paper reported that the Government has invited "the President of France, Francois Mitterand", to visit Killala next August for the 1798 rebellion commemorations. The report added that while Mr Mitterrand's office had yet to respond, "hopes are high that President Mitterand will be in a position to visit".

President de Valera, presumably, will be there to greet him.