By Patrick Markey
Mean-minded thieves conducted a Wicklow break-in recently and nabbed hundreds of pounds which had been collected for the victims of the Omagh bomb tragedy.
But the members of Woodenbridge Golf Club rallied from the setback and succeeded in netting a further £2,700 for the cause at a weekend fund-raiser, the Wicklow People newspaper reported.
Members of the South Wicklow golf club were stunned recently to discover that burglars had broken into the premises on the previous night, and had taken the proceeds of a week-long collection for the Omagh victims.
"It is hard to fathom that someone could do such a thing," said event organizer Brian Hurley.
"The words ‘Omagh Fund’ were printed clearly on the side of a bucket into which we had been accepting donations, and there is no doubt but that they must have known what they were doing," Hurley said.
Never miss an issue of The Irish Echo
Subscribe to one of our great value packages.
The thieves entered to the clubhouse through a window in the early hours of Sunday morning. They snatched the bucket and a number of other items, and fled the scene within minutes. But club members refused to be demoralized by the setback and held one of their most successful ever fund-raisers later that day.
"Everyone at the club were utterly sickened to find that the money had been taken, probably about £300," Hurley said.
"People were absolutely fantastic when it came to the events of that day, however, organized by club captain Richard Stapleton. We raised around £1,500 with our golf scramble, and we collected a further £1,200 with a fund-raising auction that night," he said.
Dundalk rent-a-boy bust
Gardai have broken up a rent-a-boy racket in Dundalk in which investigators believe they have identified a number of men who paid teenage boys for sex.
Gardaí are also investigating allegations of rape and pedophile activities in the town, reports the Examiner newspaper.
The public toilets used for the activities were demolished recently following complaints from residents that men regularly prowling the area to pick up younger men. The male prostitutes would also solicit in the Mulholland Avenue area of the town.
Because the acts took place among consenting adults, no charges will be pressed. But gardaí hope to prosecute a man who is alleged to have raped one young man. Extra patrols have been placed in the Mulholland Avenue area and a major investigation has been under way for some time into the activities of men picking up youngsters for sex.
A senior garda source confirmed half a dozen men were identified from information gathered by gardaí who visited the homes of the male prostitutes to make them aware their activities were known.
Some of client had traveled from Cavan and Monaghan while a number are from the general Dundalk area. The majority of them are believed to be over 50, married and some have children, the paper reports.
Gardaí confirmed one youth, who admitted he had been paid for sexual acts by a number of men, has said he was raped by a Dundalk man. The alleged perpetrator has been interviewed and the director of public prosecutions is preparing to file for charges. It is expected that a recommendation will be included to prefer a charge of sexual assault.
The garda inquiries have led them to interview a number of younger boys who may have been interfered with sexually, which could be considered a pedophile offense because of their age.
Not so sporting in Newry
A football referee scarred for life after "a vicious assault" by a player recently said he hoped the 7-month prison sentence imposed on his attacker would encourage other victims to report acts of violence.
Raymond Victor Thompson, 37, from Newry, was sentenced to seven months in jail at Banbridge Magistrate’s Court yesterday for the attack on Patsy Finnegan during a football match, reports the Andersontown News.
The injured ref has undergone two major operations to repair three fractures in his left jaw. During the second operation surgeons cut open his skull and peeled forward his face to insert a steel plate held in place by eight pins before closing the wound with 53 stitches.
That plate will remain inside his head for life.
Finnegan, who has been involved in football as a player, manager and referee for more than 25 years, said he does not know if he will ever referee again: "Any person who decides to referee should not feel in fear of their life going on the field. I personally believe that the organizations which run sport should protect their officials better."
The incident occurred during a Carnbane League fixture between Barcroft United and Rockview Rangers in April. When Finnegan sent Barcroft player Thompson off 15 minutes from the end of the game, the player became verbally abusive before striking the referee twice.
In his defense, Thompson’s lawyer, John Kearney, said that his client acknowledged the seriousness of his offense. Thompson, who pleaded guilty to the charges and expressed "true remorse" for his actions, is to appeal the sentence and has been released on bail.