25th November, 1999
The Noticeboard


LEGALISE CANNABIS?

Cannabis is classified as a 'soft drug', and apparently its addictive nature is psychological rather than physical. Emmet Stagg is presently playing devil's advocate in the Dail, in putting forward a motion for legalization. One would have to be congenitally naive to think that legalization won't bring along its own fair share of problems. However, many feel that decriminalization [as opposed to legalization] should be examined carefully as a possible option. Rather than understanding cannabis, it's clear that a lot of Irish people fear cannabis, and as usual it's the fearful among us who decide for the rest. Fear should not be confused with caution though. Caution serves us well very often, and that should be respected and not ignored by any means. Decriminalization means taking the user out of the system, the logic behind this I would defend emphatically. If the powers that be were to arrest and charge anyone who has ever, or does smoke ‘gange’, then only the fans of Gay Byrne, Marty Whelan and Mary Poppins would escape unscathed.
I firmly believe hash can be smoked in moderation as a recreational drug, and I have absolutely no difficulty with it in this regard. There are areas for concern also though teenagers smoking pot, the idea of cannabis being a gateway drug [theoretical for the most part but carries a logic], dangerous if you have a bad psychosis etc. However these problems will always be there, they will never be eradicated, whether cannabis is decriminalized or not. Do we ban drinking because we have alcoholics? There will always be people who fall through the net regardless should the many be denied by the few?
Cannabis use can be traced back several thousand years and its uses were predominantly medicinal for the most part. Although by today's standards the recreational use is more widespread than medicinal, it doesn't take from the fact that countless doctors still advocate its use and recommend it to their patients consistently. It can serve many purposes, particularly for people in pain [multiple sclerosis is a common example], these people should not be denied because of bigots. There has never been a single recorded death from overdose of cannabis. Why do we choose to ignore this? If you are a pot smoker then you will know that the effects are immediate and this lets you control the amount needed. The same cannot be said of alcohol. There are many myths surrounding cannabis, and this mythology is now being exposed as absolute rubbish, as the barriers fall and cannabis becomes less and less of a social taboo. Some of the people who want cannabis to remain outlawed are in effect keeping the problems behind closed doors and are simply brushing it under the carpet, like so many atrocities we have seen in this country in recent years. People will eventually make up their own minds on whether they want to smoke pot or not, and all the evidence shows that in reality the amount of pot smokers is increasing. You would be a fool to think that keeping pot illegal will solve the problem. It won't and it never will. However, you'd be as a big a fool to think pot is good for your health but that choice should be yours. What pot smokers need is a voice a well-structured lobby group. It may prove futile or it may not. The 'in your face' attitudes of certain pot smokers has to stop if the issue of decriminalization is to be taken seriously. The Gardai must not be blamed for enforcing the law either, and fortunately they seem to be hitting the dealers more so than the user as is obvious in the light of their recent seizures. Why waste valuable court time on someone who had just a ten deal anyway? What purpose would it serve for Christ's sake? The most they'd get is a small fine - 10 or 20 quid? It's a farce and a disgrace that a conviction for pot smoking [for your own use] can damage future job prospects and have repercussions. Both the user and the Gardai must bare this in mind, and I think by and large a lot of them do to be fair. Pot smokers are even more diverse in background than drinkers, and anyone who has a stereotypical view of them would want to think again, because you couldn't be further from the truth.
The media only seems to show one side of the story and has been effectively ' brainwashing' people. Has the media any ability to be impartial or even balanced on these issues? I have serious doubts and as of yet have seen little or nothing to disprove these theories. If the media sees itself as an educator then it must address these issues fairly. I am not advocating that the media promote pot smoking or the like, I would just like them to bare in mind that they have a responsibility to show both sides of the coin. Likewise, our local politicians in Douglas couldn't be more out of touch with young people if they tried and I wouldn't even bother asking them to do anything about it. Many people under 30 flout the law erratically anyway, but pot smoking is not confined to this age group by any stretch of the imagination. If the government, courts or people in the medical world think they can confine, contain or combat this issue then serious questions must be raised. I'm not crusading for a 'free for all'. But your way isn't working and nor will it ever. 'It should be our choice not yours' are the sentiments of a lot of pot smokers toward the ban on cannabis. Vast amounts of people now equivocate having a joint with having a pint. For the most part they are responsible adults and should be treated as such. Let them decide for themselves. If politicians want to see young people at the polling stations then they could sit back and watch them flocking in if this went [as it should] to the electorate.
Niall O' Sullivan, Douglas.


GRAND VARIETY CONCERT

On the 2nd December from 8pm - 10.30pm there will be a Grand Variety Concert held at Douglas GAA Hall. Admission is 5 (Adults), Concessions 3 and 1.50 for Children. There will be a monster raffle and all proceeds are in aid of Douglas Community Services (under the auspices of Douglas Community Assoc), St. Columba’s Restoration Fund, Seamus McGuires ‘Christmas Special’ Fund and Cricklewood Homeless Concern (who cater for Irish Nationals).
This concert, which has been organised by Patricia Simkin who is an executive member of Douglas Community Association, will feature:
O St. Columba’s Hall Choir. Conductor Patricia Kelleher.
O Carrigaline Youth Group. Conductor Donal Power.
O Irish Dancers from the Miah Walsh School.
O St. Patricks Church Choir. Conductor Nicola Cooke.
Martha Malone, a member of Douglas ICA, will perform, with others, her one Act play, “A Perfect Day”.
Solo performers are Francie McCarthy, Pat McCarthy, Agnes Dwyer, Patricia Doyle, Michelle de Foubert (Singers), Lean Flynn (Violinist), Hannah McCarthy (Harpist), Sally McCarthy (a poem), Hannah Griffin (Comedienne), Stephanie Barry and Daisy McCarthy (Flautists).
Background music by Owen O’Callaghan and Patricia O’Mahony, Co-ordinator Pat Flynn, B.A.
Complimentary use of piano courtesy of Griffin Pianos, Togher, Cork.
Accompanists: Annette de Foubert, Anne Flynn and Patricia Simkin.
Do come along on the night and bring your friends, to support these worthy causes.


WATCH THIS SPACE

Another huge disappointment to all star gazers as the bad weather made it impossible to view the Leonoid Meteor storm on Wednesday night, Thursday morning last. Eclipse weather all over again. To answer the many queries we have received about meteors, this week we are going to concentrate on meteors and meteor showers.
On any clear night you will see quick streaks of light race across the sky, commonly known as shooting stars. All that they are is a piece of space debris the sizes of a grain of sand burning up as it enters the earth's atmosphere. Some that you may see last much longer and are much brighter, are only the size of a pea. Larger meteors even land on the earth's surface, these are known as meteorites. Meteorites are known to put on a really spectacular show but we have never been fortunate enough to experience them. All the members of a meteor shower appear to diverge from small area of sky known as the radiant. The meteor shower is named after the constellation in which it's radiant lies; the Perseids appear to radiate from the constellation of Perseus, the Geminids from Gemini and so on. When watching for meteors from a shower, do not look directly at the radiant, but look about 5 degrees to one side of it. A list of the year's main meteor showers is given in the table overleaf. Note that the maximum number of meteors will be seen only in dark conditions, when the radiant is high in the sky. If the radiant is low, or the sky is bright (for instance from moonlight), the number of meteors visible will be very much less.

Name of Shower - Date of Maximum - No. Visible per Hour
Quadrantids - January 3-4 - 100
Lyrids - April 21-22 - 15
Eta Aquarids - May 5-6 - 40
Delta Aquarids - July 28-29 - 20
Perseids - August 12 - 60
Orionids - October 21 - 20
Taurids - November 3 - 12
Leonoids - November 17-18 - 10
Geminids - December 13-14 - 60


Valda Furlong


KEEP THIS POOL OPEN!

Douglas based member of Cork County Council, Deirdre Forde, today called on Cork Corporation to reconsider the proposed closure of the Gus Healy Swimming Pool.
“I have received many phonecalls from people living in the Douglas-Carrigaline area who are dismayed with this news. The Douglas swimming pool is a valuable amenity and its closure would result in many competitive swimmers losing a suitable training venue.
The Pool has over 140 children who train competitively. Presently one young lady Ms. Lee Kelleher, who is only a few seconds off qualifying time is endeavouring to gain a place on the Irish Olympic Swimming Team. There are also two boys Colin Hederman and Maurice Kelleher who are on the Irish National Water Polo team. There are 14 on the Irish National team and over 30 on the Minster squad. In addition, Water Safety and Lifeguard training is taking place and very many schools from all over Cork City and County use the pool.
It is ironic that while I am lobbying strongly at Cork County Council level for improved amenity and sporting facilities in many cases, Cork Corporation are now comtemplating closure of this pool. I am aware that the Corporation has incurred substantial losses at the pool, but it is my contention that the facility requires upgrading, not closure.
In my capacity as a member of the joint Cork County Council - Cork Corporation Committee, I will be impressing upon the City Manager, the concerns of those who have made representations to me.
Deirdre Forde.


TRAVELLING LIGHT

If you are planning a break in the near future, and are expecting a Christmas bonus or a pay rise then you can lighten your tax burden by getting part of your increase in income in the form of a bus or rail ticket.
Before April 1999 employees were liable to pay Income Tax on the value of the benefit (benefit in kind) similar to that paid by company employees with company cars or preferential loans. The current tax regime allows you to receive monthly or annual travel passes from your employer without paying any benefit in kind. The tax concession does not apply to daily, weekly or 10-journey tickets.
Depending on the cost of your travel ticket, savings could be substantial. For example, if you travel to work in Dublin and believe it or not some people do.


RELIGION?


Religion can act as both a conservative and revolutionary force in societies throughout the world. Secularization refers to the declining influence of religion, but this is very difficult to measure because many dimensions of change are involved. Catholicism runs at a different pace in many countries, from the first to the third world. In some regards this possibly makes it very difficult for the church to make sweeping changes throughout the world for fear of upheaval this I can accept to some degree. To many people in Ireland Catholicism continues to be a powerful influence and both their lives and attitudes reflect this. Although I have a certain amount of resentment toward our church, I wouldn't blame it for any lack of faith in God that I may have. However, in some aspects the ways and workings of the Catholic Church, both past and present, bares little resemblance to its teachings.
With the stranglehold of the Catholic Church being forcibly released somewhat in recent times, it becomes blatantly obvious that the church was little more than an authoritarian, dictatorial institution whose trademark was instilling fear through brutality. To this day the Catholic Church remains a powerful and wealthy organization lurking around every corner, I see it as a parasite. Most of us had no say in whether or not we wanted to make our communion or confirmation. We were drilled with this imagery of Jesus in school before we could think and it's merely conditioning. Nothing more, nothing less. We were forced to go to mass, as most young people still are, up to what parents consider a reasonable age to let their children ' decide for themselves'. Decide for themselves! At this stage they have been brainwashed. How can you ram something down somebody's throat and expect him or her to like it? I remember my confirmation vividly, we were forced week in week out to learn off questions [page upon page] and answers to questions we didn't understand in the first place. Is this how to get people to appreciate religion? It's a sad state of affairs that religion is compulsory in many secondary schools also. It should be optional not compulsory. With many people coming to Ireland to live and settle down, other denominations will soon become much more prevalent and established. In the US religion was ousted from many schools because there were so many varying religions and they could not be catered for collectively. Why has the Catholic Church so much control over our educational system? On almost every school board you'll find priests.
There are countless areas I would take issue with the church on. Not least is the churches Hierarchy and its stance on persisting in formally endorsing and supporting inequalities in gender. The Christian movement was born of what was in a sense a revolutionary movement; yet in their attitudes towards women they are the most conservative organization in society. In 1987 the Anglican bishop of London, Graham Leonard, was asked on a radio programme if he thought the Christian notion of God would be affected by seeing a woman regularly up at the altar. He replied: 'I think it would. My instinct when faced with her would be to take her in my arms…' What a load of rubbish. Is that the best excuse he can come up with for keeping women out of the church? Pathetic. It's beyond me that the Catholic Church also doesn't recognize women with equality while at the same time mouthing off about the church being 'open to everyone'. Hypocrites. There are many good priests out there that want reform. As a young person I find the Catholic Church repulsive as an institution, but at the same time I recognize wholeheartedly the attempts of individuals striving for change within the Church. I could never see the Church recovering from the scandals of recent years and in many respects I'm doubtful about its future. Separation of Church and state? Separation of Church and God in my mind.

Niall O' Sullivan, Douglas


INDOOR GARDENING - FANCY PLANTS

A novel idea for a hallway or conservatory is scented-leafed pelargoniums. These are available in citrus (lemon), mint, apple, or pine scents although the lemon is most common. These are best placed in an area where they will be brushed past or in a seating area in your conservatory, where they can make the most of their scent. They can become straggly but if you pinch out the growing tips and flower spikes occasionally and take care not to over water them, they will remain active all the year round.
Hanging baskets, most of us confine our ideas of hanging baskets to summer; they do make a pleasant diversion and can be planted up permanently or with a colourful temporary display. If you vary the planting during the year, you can take advantage of seasonal displays: Christmas cactus in winter; fuschias in summer. Permanently planted baskets are easy to manage, especially if they are used for a single large plant. The common spider plant needs very little maintenance and thrives in a conservatory. For an attractive arrangement plant it with asparagus fern. Plastic coated wire baskets will drip onto the floor. But some rigid plastic containers have drip saucers to catch any excess water.
Cacti: There are two broad categories of cacti: desert and Forrest types. Forrest types like shade; desert cacti need sunlight. But most cacti have shallow roots and reform well in containers. In shaded areas try Christmas cacti, which we have already mentioned for hanging baskets. These do not need high maintenance. They also provide that welcome splash of colour in winter. Other cacti that can work well in conservatories are the clambering Selenicereus and some of the hylocereus species. Desert species you could try include the old man cactus (cephalocerus senilis) and bunny ears (Opunta microdasys). And don't forget if you are using the spiny succulent species keep them out of the reach of children.
More next week.


WHAT 'CHA CALL IT?

We all live in the 'nineties and a decade ago we lived in the eighties. And before that the 'seventies etc. But what are we going to call the next decade? The zero's, the noughts? The O's? What do you our readers think? Why not let us know? Send, fax, e-mail, ring write or call, your suggestion to us and we'll see what can be done with it. Maybe this is the opportunity for a Douglas Weekly reader to lead the world.


A LITTLE BIT OF ?

Fresh fruit and vegetables can cost less, taste better and offer the best quality if you buy them when they are in season. So before you plan your meals for Christmas and the New Year check our little guide to what is in season in the coming months. In season now are stable vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, carrots, onions, potatoes, and cauliflower. They are readily available and are good value. Other seasonal produce you might like to add to your shopping list includes Beetroot, Kale, Leeks, Marrow Parsnip, Swede and Turnip. Broccoli, Celery and Scallions are just going out of season, so make the most of them this month. All-year relliables include butterhead lettuce, cabbage and mushrooms. Fresh Irish Apples, both eating and cooking are plentiful throughout the winter months. Berries are in season in the summer and into the autumn so if you didn't stock your freezer you era going to have to pay through the nose for them over Christmas and the same for other fresh produce. If you want fresh herbs, Parsley, Sage, and Thyme are in season from May to December. Other herbs if available fresh, will be more expensive. If you want to get more information and would like some recipes and a seasonal calendar why not phone An Bord Glas ' 01 661 4105.


PUBLIC MEETING FOR TIDY TOWNS COMMITTEE

Douglas Community Association Ltd. are holding a Public Meeting at the Rochestown Park Hotel on Monday 29th November at 8.p.m. This meeting is to facilitate the setting up of a Tidy Town Committee for Douglas.
It is hoped that sufficient interest will be expressed on the night and that people will volunteer to be part of the team to bring Douglas to the forefront of the National Tidy Towns Competition in the future.
The Speaker will be Mr William A. Houlihan, Senior Executive Architect, Cork County Council. Mr Houlihan has been actively involved in many such successful projects in Kinsale and Clonakilty and elsewhere over the past number of years.
All local Businesses, Sports Clubs, Schools, Community and Residents Groups, Media and interested Individuals are invited to attend.


TRAFFIC IN DOUGLAS

As resident of Frankfield my family and I have to make many trips each week down to Douglas. This is due to the fact that there is inadequate provision of a bus service from the Frankfield area. I am sure that the daily congestion of our roads here are caused by parents bringing their children to school and by people working in the city who by no choice have to use cars because of the failure of Bus Eireann to provide adequate transportation for all residents. As we just heard on the news last week, our government says money is not the problem. I ask myself, what is the reason that we have no adequate bus service? To help alleviate this problem I was wondering if a one way system might help as the build up of traffic is due to the cars wanting to turn right into Church Road. A suggestion: West Douglas St from Church Rd to Church St. one way towards the city. Church Street one way from West Douglas St to Carrigaline Road. Having removed the Bow-Wow Bridge Carrigaline Rd. a one way street to Church Rd. Church Rd. a one way street from Carrigaline Rd. to West Douglas Street. This would mean the Bow-Wow Bridge would have to be relocated, possibly to some area in Douglas, the city or in a museum due to its historical nature. It would appear that the bridge has already had an extension due to changes in traffic.


Sunday’s Well Swimming Club are holding a Christmas Social ‘Splash’ Supper and Disco on Friday, 3rd December at Blackrock Hurling Club, Blackrock at 9.00pm. Tickets are 7.50. Please Support this Fund-Raising Event.