Judge welcomes rare ‘good news story’ in case of disabled woman
Cataract procedure allows non-verbal woman to communicate with her eyes

Cataract procedure allows non-verbal woman to communicate with her eyes

Cataract procedure allows non-verbal woman to communicate with her eyes

Cataract procedure allows non-verbal woman to communicate with her eyes

Cataract procedure allows non-verbal woman to communicate with her eyes

Cataract procedure allows non-verbal woman to communicate with her eyes
Cataract procedure allows non-verbal woman to communicate with her eyes
  • 2020-01-14 17:10:07 1 months ago
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An elderly disabled non-verbal woman who uses her eyes to communicate now has a “good life” following a successful court-sanctioned cataract procedure, her sister has told the High Court.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly, who was also was told on Tuesday the sister considers the woman is receiving excellent care at a HSE residential unit previously subject of investigation and controversy, said it was a rare “good news story”.

The sister had strongly supported the HSE’s application for the eye surgery, saying she did not want her sibling “to live in a dark world”. The woman was waiting three years for the surgery but, while offered it twice previously, could not take it up for health reasons. A further appointment was scheduled after her physical condition improved and she had the surgery last month after the court sanctioned it in November.

The case was before the judge on Tuesday for a follow-up report.

The woman has been in the care of the HSE since she was aged 10, has a range of disabilities and mainly uses her hands and eyes to communicate. The HSE’s application for orders permitting the surgery was made in the context of intended wardship proceedings, taken with a view to vindicating the woman’s rights arising from alleged earlier mistreatment of her in the residential unit. A decision on whether the woman should be taken into wardship will be made on a later date. The woman’s sister attended the November hearing to strongly support the surgery.

Although the sister could not attend Tuesday’s hearing because of a long-awaited hospital appointment, Katherine Kelleher, solicitor for the HSE, said she had sent an email thanking all involved.

Mr Justice Kelly said the email was “very generous”, extending plaudits to all involved in the woman’s care, and describing the surgery as having made an enormous difference to the woman’s life. “It’s a good news story, we don’t have many of them here,” he remarked. The sister said the cataract procedure had been a huge success and the woman’s quality of life had improved immeasurably because she can see her family members and used her eyes to communicate needs, including for food, choice of clothing and Christmas decorations.

The sister said the woman now has a “good life” because of the improvement in her sight and described the woman’s care as excellent, attributing that to the good care being provided by staff in the residential unit.

Counsel representing an advocate for the woman said she had engaged well with the advocate and, when asked how her eyes were, had “smiled and nodded”.

Arising from the alleged earlier mistreatment, the advocate is considering how her rights should best be vindicated, counsel said.

Consideration was being given to briefing senior counsel and the advocate wanted disclosure of the woman’s records. Mr Justice Kelly said there was no issue about disclosure being permitted but he would defer that pending finalisation of the wardship application.

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Cataract procedure allows non-verbal woman to communicate with her eyes

Cork council plans to reduce traffic speed in estates, villages and outside schools

Cork council plans to reduce traffic speed in estates, villages and outside schools

A new blueprint has been drawn up by Cork County Council designed to reduce traffic speed in estates, villages and outside schools.

In future developers of new housing estates will have it as a condition in their planning permission that they must provide adequate traffic calming measures, such as chicanes which will reduce speed considerably.

New schools will also have to provide safe pick-up and drop-off points for pupils and any new village enhancement schemes will have to include traffic calming measures.

The blueprint has been drawn up by members of the county council's Roads & Transportation SPC (Special Purposes Committee).

Cllr Declan Hurley, who is head of that committee, provided details of the new policy to fellow county councillors at a meeting in County Hall.

He said the document contains 16 basic criteria which will act as guidelines for new and retrofit traffic calming.

The scope of the document is aimed mainly at traffic calming on regional and local roads through towns and villages.

Many councillors have in recent months highlighted safety issues in particular around schools.

The document states traffic congestion around schools at drop off/collection times is very often an issue.

It affords guidance on some measures that can be taken to address this issue.

However, it also says school authorities need to be proactive in dealing with this congestion by measures such as providing off-road parking for staff and staggering times for classes.

It also says set-down slipways should be a feature of all new school design and retrofitted to existing schools where feasible.

Council engineers say these work very well, especially for secondary schools where parents can ‘drop and go’ but perhaps less efficiently for junior schools, where parking and accompanying of young pupils into class is a feature.

Cllr Kay Dawson said while the document was welcome there has to be more speeding enforcement carried out by the gardaí.

Cllr Gillian Coughlan said "We need dedicated funds for traffic calming.

"School traffic calming is very important and we need dedicated money for them from the government."

Cllr Danielle Twomey said all school should have raised pedestrian crossings outside them and they should be equipped with flashing beacons.

Cllr William O'Leary said a clear funding stream will have to be pushed for in the council's next budget.

Cllr Bernard Moynihan maintained that the use of more physical impediments, such as ramps, was needed rather than signage to slow down traffic.

Cllr Seamus McGrath said speed limit reviews across the county currently happen every four years, but should be done every two instead.

Boy from West Cork town sent to Oberstown after failed lunchtime drugs test

Boy from West Cork town sent to Oberstown after failed lunchtime drugs test

A teenage boy has been sent to the Oberstown Children Detention Campus after he failed a lunchtime drugs test ordered by a judge, having come before the court for continuous breaches of bail conditions.

The 15-year-old, who lives in a West Cork town, had been placed on strict bail conditions including a nightly curfew when he appeared before the district court on November 28 last.

But Judge James McNulty heard that he has been missing from his home on a spate of occasions recently as gardaí checked to see whether he was adhering to those conditions. The judge also heard the boy had gone missing from his home address for four days at one point.

The arresting Garda said he had arrested the youth on foot of a bench warrant and brought him before the court in Skibbereen.

Sgt Paul Kelly told the judge that there had been “continuous” breaches of the curfew which meant the boy should be at home between 9pm and 7am.

The conditions had been relaxed temporarily over Christmas to facilitate a visit to see relatives but Sgt Kelly said when Gardaí checked at his home at 10.40pm on December 30, there was no answer.

Between January 1 and January 5 the teenager left his home for four days, Sgt Kelly said. Then when Gardaí checked at 2.30am on January 5 there was no answer.

On January 7 he did not return home until 5am, and on January 8 he was not there when Gardaí checked at his home at 9.15pm and again at 10.20pm.

Sgt Kelly also said that the teenager was to sign on daily at his local Garda station, but had not done so since New Year’s Eve.

The boy’s solicitor, Ray Hennessy, said he had been aware of the situation following discussions with a probation officer.

Judge McNulty said: “If he is to be released on bail it will be on the basis of random oral drug fluid testing.”

He then ordered a test to be conducted over the next hour, at a Garda station.

The judge was told the boy's mother was not available and he asked the probation officer in court to check on the availability of a remand bed at Oberstown, indicating that the boy was likely to be sent there.

After a break for lunch Sgt Kelly said the boy had tested positive for cannabis.

He said the state was objecting to bail and seeking a remand in custody, while Mr Hennessy said he knew the probation officer was also keen to have the breaches of bail terms addressed.

Judge McNulty said: “In view of the repeated, continuous and continuing breaches of curfew and having regard to the oral fluid drug testing done during lunchtime, this 15-year-old should be remanded to Oberstown.”

The Judge also directed that a psychological assessment be carried out but that it does not need to be ready by the time the teenager next appears before court.

The boy was remanded in custody to appear before Clonakilty District Court on January 21.

The teenager is currently facing a number of charges, including in relation to an assault on another young person.