By Patick Markey
A seriously injured County Kildare engineer and his fiancee, who were lost for days on a desolate South American mountain, discussed their wedding plans to keep their hopes of rescue alive as they struggled on.
Brendan Timmins, from Newbridge, Co. Kildare, proposed to his Australian girlfriend, Su Yin Lee, after the two became separated during a particularly dangerous climb in the Andes of Argentina, reported the Examiner newspaper recently.
On the fourth day of their 12-day nightmare, Timmins plummeted 90 feet to the bottom of a ravine, breaking his knee cap and suffering severe cuts and bruises. Almost out of food after five days sharing rations and waiting to be rescued, Lee set off alone to find help. She returned exhausted three days later, having met nobody.
The desperate couple then decided to make a last bid for escape together. With Timmins’s leg splinted with tent poles, they hiked for three days, hobbling 10 paces at a time between rests, before finally finding a manned mountain ranger hut.
Trouble came soon on their four-day trek in the Nahuel Huapi National Park in Patagonia, while on a break from jobs in Australia. After they pitched their tent the first night the clear weather shifted to snow, rain and mist.
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Rangers looked for them the next two days when bad weather persisted. Officials checked at a number of huts and hostels but as no one reported them missing Rangers presumed they had left the area and called off the search.
Timmins was critical of the rangers and the guidebook, both of which failed to warn them of the route’s difficulty. Upon reaching safety the couple learned that only around 50 people did the trek each year and there had been 10 recent deaths.
"Seemingly we were the first injured party ever to make it safely through," Timmins said.
The couple, nevertheless, were in good humor as they recovered at a local hospital and hope to marry within the next year.
Olympic boxer Francie Barrett has suffered another setback in his struggle for mainstream acceptance when he was ejected from a Galway nightclub because he is a traveler.
The Examiner reports that he has become a rallying point in the battle over discrimination against travelers and other minority groups.
Touted for another national title and the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Barrett could face more discrimination as no restaurant will accommodate his family’s victory celebration dinner.
Last year in Dublin delegates to an international conference on discrimination got the similar treatment when two hotels canceled dinner on learning that travelers and gypsies were involved.
Despite plenty of hype and a recent award-winning documentary surrounding Francie’s fairytale as he boxed his way to the Olympic quarterfinals, his story illustrates how anti-traveler racism lurks deep in the Irish psyche, the paper reports.
"When I was 13, I was called a knacker," he said.
"I just turned my head and walked away. The only other time I came up against discrimination was when I was refused admission to the nightclub in Salthill. They claimed it was a mix up and invited me back. But I won’t go."
Ironically, for Barrett and his wife Kathleen, the insult was compounded as they are both non-drinkers and non-smokers.
"I probably don’t experience discrimination as much as some other travelers. The drink causes problems for some of them," he said.
Ulster child abuse
At least two children were raped every week in Northern Ireland last year, according to shocking new statistics released recently.
The report, compiled by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, also reveals that nationally, 26 percent of all rape victims are children and every week at least one child is killed through abuse or neglect, according to the Belfast telegraph.
The NSPCC recently launched a £250 million campaign in Belfast’s Waterfront Hall calling for an end to cruelty to children.
At any one time, the NSPCC in Northern Ireland is working with more than 800 children who have been or are at risk of abuse or neglect.
The report shows that in Northern Ireland: at least two children were raped every week; there were 10 indecent assaults recorded against children under 16 every week; children as young as 2 years old have been sexually abused; there are organized pedophile rings in operation; in total there were almost 900 sexual offenses recorded against children under 16.
The NSPCC’s Full Stop Campaign aims to change attitudes in making the care and includes a hard-hitting £3 million TV and poster advertising campaign.