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Around IrelandDonegal mom gets time for brutal beating

February 15, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Patrick Markey

A Donegal mother of six was jailed for seven years recently after she was convicted of attempting to murder and rob an 85-year-old neighbor two years ago.

According to the Donegal Democrat, Margaret McCole, 43, of Drung was convicted last January of attempting to murder elderly neighbor William Harrigan. She also pleaded guilty to four other counts of attempted robbery.

The crime shocked the tight rural community after the pensioner was discovered nearly beaten to death with a claw hammer. He was forced to spend nearly 200 days in hospital. Garda investigating the crime scene called it horrific, with blood spattered on the walls and ceiling of Harrigan’s home, and pieces of his scalp found in different parts of the room.

Passing sentence on McCole, a local judge called the crime “extraordinarily savage” and inexplicable, considering that McCole was known as an excellent mother and a kind neighbor.

McCole had looked after her victim the morning of the attack, making him breakfast and lunch and helping him collect his pension. The court heard that McCole and Harrigan had discussed how he was going to be looked after in his old age. Harrigan told his neighbor that he had entrusted _5,000 in his will to his niece. After getting the money entrusted to her, McCole spent all but _20 of it in fear that her robbery would be discovered, the court heard.

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After the sentencing, Harrigan told the paper that he did not want to see his attacker go to prison, “I feel very sorry for her,” he said. “I didn’t want to see her get any time at all.”

Kerry’s smelly tale

Dingle businesses are being forced to close for hours at a time because of the foul odors emanating from the region’s _5 million sewage plant, the local Kerry council admitted recently.

According to The Kerryman newspaper, the council has been investigating ways to beat the stink, which has been cutting into the business of local stores and restaurants, many of which have had to shut their doors.

A local Chamber of Commerce official said that the smells could have long-term detrimental effects on local business. Scenic Dingle relies heavily on tourism.

The stench was so bad, said one local restaurant owner, that at times it was impossible to serve food.

“Shops and restaurants closed for six hours at a time because of the terrible smells – it’s embarrassing,” he said. “There is no way you can serve food with that smell.”

The sewage system was opened three years ago and was designed to cater to the 6,000 population and to allow for the high number of tourists in the summer. Some locals argued, however, that the system could not cope with the discharges from the local fish-processing plants.

Galway blood shortage

A shortage of blood supplies for transfusions has left University College Hospital Galway with no choice but to turn some patients away after canceling their surgery.

The Connacht Tribune reports that the hospital recently turned away two elderly men who were scheduled for operations, but were told by their surgeons to go home.

The local health board said that a number of procedures had been canceled because of the need to keep the hospital’s blood supply at a certain level in case of an emergency.

“Because of the scarcity of blood supplies, some elective surgery had to be canceled because of the need to preserve supplies in case of emergency. This was purely a safety matter and the issue has arisen because of what we understand is a national shortage in blood supplies,” according to a Western Health Board spokesman.

The Blood Transfusion Services Board confirmed that recently the blood supply situation “was critical in most areas of the country.”

Blood stocks were down to half a day compared to the normal two days’ worth of supplies, officials said. Plans to avert the crisis include importing blood from the Netherlands and starting a national blood drive campaign to boost supplies. Board officials said that the recent crisis over Hepatitis B infections in transfusions had cut into the public’s confidence of BTSB.

Superloo redux

Heated debate has erupted in Letterkenny over where the local council should position the town’s latest acquisition – the superloo.

Letterkenny’s new toilet, equipped with everything from piped music to plush design, became the center of a row over where the modern “jacks” should be placed, the Courthouse or the Markets area, reports the Donegal Democrat.

The solution, it appears, was simple: buy two toilets.

Originally, the council had ordered just one of the self-cleaning facilities, but a dispute broke out between councilors over where it should go. Now council officials believe they have negotiated a deal of two toilets for the price of one and a half. But there’s a catch: one of the loos is secondhand.

At _23,200 for two, the council says the facilities will probably cost about 20 pence a go. Figuring in the running costs, says the paper, that means more than 22 people an hour to break even.

The town’s old public toilets were closed and bulldozed because of “anti-social” behavior. No details were available about that.

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