By Stephen McKinley
Bring on all those metaphors about politics being full of pregnant pauses, labor parties and gestation periods: Fermanagh-South Tyrone Member of Parliament Michelle Gildernew of Sinn Fein is having a baby.
She is the first Northern M.P. to become pregnant in office since the former Mid-Ulster MP Bernadette Devlin in 1971.
Gildernew says that she and her partner, Jimmy, are both delighted.
“I’m very happy about it. It’s a bit of a surprise,” she said.
Gildernew’s election in June was a narrow victory over Ulster Unionist James Cooper, who later went to court alleging irregularities at certain polling stations that could, he said, have swung the election in favor of Sinn Fein.
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The Impartial Reporter announced the news with the headline, “Michelle to have baby in the Erne” — for non-locals, this doesn’t mean that she’ll be giving birth in Lough Erne. It’s the local Erne Hospital.
WHEN I GROW UP
Disgraceful behavior in Carlow led to two young men appearing before a judge in the district court last week.
Charged with engaging in offensive conduct, Jonathan Kenny and Joe Kelly were found carrying plants down the main street in the early hours of the morning. Kelly was also charged with being intoxicated to the extent of being a danger to himself and to others.
Garda Claire Cullen told the Carlow Nationalist that she met the two defendants, both from Kilkenny, on the street with plants in their hands and she noticed that they were very intoxicated at the time.
Judge Mary Martin adjourned the case until Dec. 19, ordered them to undertake an alcohol awareness program and pay _50 each to the local Tidy Towns committee. They were also ordered to write an essay entitled “When I grow up.”
A TINY HEROINE IN MEATH
A County Meath girl has been chosen as one of Ireland’s bravest children, after she saved the life of her 2-year-old sister. Alanna Graves, 5, of Ashbourne raised the alarm when a game the sisters were playing almost ended in tragedy.
Colleen, her little sister, fell through the steps of a tree house and was caught by her head and could have strangled. Alanna held the little one and asked a friend to get help. But he froze in shock and so Alanna left him holding up Colleen and ran for help.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern presented Alanna with her award at Dublin’s Burlington Hotel on Sunday.
“She had went through the steps backward, but her head wouldn’t go through and her bodyweight was left hanging. She would have been strangled if Alanna hadn’t acted so fast,” said the girls’ mother, Christine.
“I don’t know how she knew what to do, but we are so thankful and proud that she did,” she told the Meath Chronicle.
CORK PLOWS TO TOP
A Cork man won the 48th annual World Plowing Championship last week, and four Irishmen finished in the top 13.
Dane Henry Thegan came in first, and David Wright of Northern Ireland and the Republic’s Charlie Bateman of Reenascreena, Rosscarbery, in West Cork, came in fourth and fifth, respectively.
David Gill of Northern Ireland finished in eighth place, with Laois plowman Pat Brandon, competing for the first time, in 13th place.
Denis Keohane of Ballinascarthy, a director of the National Plowing Association and secretary of West Cork Plowing Association, was team manager. Eamonn Tracey of Bagnelstown, Co. Carlow, was reserve team member.
The site for this year’s event presented favorable plowing conditions in a sandy soil, but it rained a lot during the competitions. Due to the foot-and-mouth disease scare, the English team did not attend.
LITTLE ISLAND PROTESTS
Also in Cork, a Little Island resident has made a formal complaint to gardai after she was struck by a truck during a protest, claiming that the County Council has failed to deliver an improved Courtstown Road, now heavily used by commercial vehicles.
“There was a garda present, but while he took a statement from the truck driver, he refused to take one from me. I now intend to go to the garda station and make a statement. I just could not get safely out of the way at time,” Ann Kelly told the news website Inside Cork.
“After three years we finally got them to agree to have a formal opening of the new flyover bridge, named Crompan Bridge, last weekend,” Kelly added.
“Yet on Friday they had not even erected a plaque. After several calls to the officials, they finally arrived down with something resembling a plaque, which they stuck on with silicone. It is already slipping off the bridge. That tells us enough of what they think about the residents of Little Island.”
Waterford County Council has attacked the Bank of Ireland over the bank’s alleged treatment of personal account holders.
The criticism has been sharp enough for council members to recommend that the council not deal with the bank in the future, according to the Muster Express.
Tom Higgins of Fine Gael said that the bank’s move to get ordinary customers to conduct more of their business via the ATM, rather than in-branch, would hit elderly people with sight and other physical problems. Personal account holders would have to go out into the cold and rain and use ATM machines, while the holders of business accounts would have the sanctuary of thebBank. It was a two-tier system, he said.
Dungarvan Labor councilor Billy Kyne said other banks are watching this new development by the Bank of Ireland. The Council should write to BOI’s national, regional and local managers and tell them what was proposed was wrong, he said.