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“In a town like Killarney, betting is rampant”

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In an interview on RTÉ Radio One last Sunday, President Michael D Higgins said he was in favour of banning the promotion of betting in sports.

“I'm very concerned about gambling for example, which if I had my way, I wouldn't have advertising of any access to gambling platforms in sport at all,” he said. “I really worry when I read cases of people who have come through [gambling problems].

“I visited the Hope House in Mayo recently who have been a great assistance to some people who have got over what is, hopefully, a terrible temporary problem. I think in a way we should protect our sports by keeping them free from this kind of stuff.”

A couple of days later, a Kerry councillor admitted that he has been battling a gambling addiction. John Francis Flynn from Killorglin opened up about his betting and alcohol problems this week in the hope that others might learn from his mistakes.

A number of high profile athletes have done the same in recent years but despite all these case samples highlighting the perils of gambling, and all these pleas for reform, the situation in this country seems to be getting worse, not better. Online gambling has made it so easy to get sucked in and once you're in, it can be difficult to get back out.

Sports and betting are intrinsically linked and being involved in sports my whole life, gambling is something that's always been there in the background. And in Killarney, which is such a sports mad town, betting, and talking about betting, is rampant.

“Who are the favourites?” is a question I've heard asked, and asked myself, in the build up to countless games down through the years. From a young age there's an understanding that the bookies are a reliable source of information when it comes to analysing sport (which perhaps shows how foolish we are in thinking that we can beat them).

I wouldn't be a big gambler myself but I do enjoy the odd bet on a soccer or football game. My betting would be sporadic and the sums involved small. It can add another element of excitement to the occasion and it’s nice when you get it right but, realistically, the house always wins eventually.

Casual gambling like that might not seem like a big deal but, as with anything, some people get hooked. A fiver on a soccer accumulator can quickly turn into 20, which can turn into 50, and next thing you know you're talking about hundreds or even thousands of euro.

From the outside it's easy to say, "Jesus, that's mad money," but it's like telling a fella he's drinking too much. It's a genuine problem and it's not something that’s easily fixed. There is definitely a culture of betting in Ireland and there are people suffering as a result.

Ads for betting sites are everywhere: TV, online, on billboards and on jerseys... Everywhere you turn you're being urged to put on a bet. This normalisation of something so problematic is wrong in my eyes. How can you tell a young person to avoid gambling when their favourite player is running around with a betting company plastered across his shirt?

We’ve reached the stage where up to the minute prices are displayed on electronic advertising hoardings at Premier League games. Even if you have no interest whatsoever ever in gambling, you can't get away from it. For some people all it takes is one bet to set the wheels in motion. And for those who already gamble heavily, the last thing they need is further invitation to put on a bet.

Gambling advertising isn't as highly regulated as alcohol and tobacco advertising but the president is right, it should be. The effects of smoking and drinking might be more conspicuous but gambling addictions can be just as harmful. I don't think removing ads from sporting events is the silver bullet but it would be a step in the right direction.

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Shoebox appeal is biggest yet for Faha kids

By Michelle Crean It’s no wonder Faha pupils have a big smile on their faces as this year’s Team Hope Shoebox Appeal is their biggest yet! The children happily packed and wrapped 140 shoeboxes which will be sent to children in need throughout the world. The school has been doing the Team Hope Shoebox Appeal […]

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By Michelle Crean

It’s no wonder Faha pupils have a big smile on their faces as this year’s Team Hope Shoebox Appeal is their biggest yet!

The children happily packed and wrapped 140 shoeboxes which will be sent to children in need throughout the world.

The school has been doing the Team Hope Shoebox Appeal for approximately six years when parent, Margaret Scully, initially contacted one of the SNAs, Delia O’ Shea, wondering if they’d be interested in taking part. Since then the appeal has been wholeheartedly supported by the pupils, staff and extended Faha NS community.

“This year has been the biggest yet with 140 shoeboxes collected and many more donations online,” Jerry Fitzgerald, Principal of Faha NS, said. “It is a learning experience for the children to realise that there are children just like themselves who may not be so fortunate and they really enjoy being given the opportunity to help out. They have great suggestions as to what to put in the shoeboxes and really put a lot of thought into it. The boxes are wrapped in Christmas paper which is also very exciting both for the children doing the wrapping as well for the children receiving the boxes.” However, he added that last year the COVID-19 pandemic brought about big changes and the physical shoeboxes were not collected. “Instead the children were able to do virtual shoeboxes or donate money. This cloud had a silver lining as this year people have both options and it makes it easier than ever to donate. The shoebox appeal always marks the start of Christmas at Faha NS and we are delighted to be able to help out. We are already looking to smash our record next year! Thanks to everyone who donated. The staff and students of Faha NS would like to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and a safe New Year 2022.”

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More than  38,000 homes, farms and businesses across the country without power

Gale force winds associated with Storm Barra, with gusts of over 130 km/h, are continuing to cause damage to the electricity network, currently affecting more than  38,000 homes, farms and businesses across the country. The damage is mainly attributable to fallen trees on overhead lines as a result of the high winds. ESB Networks’ crews will […]

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Gale force winds associated with Storm Barra, with gusts of over 130 km/h, are continuing to cause damage to the electricity network, currently affecting more than  38,000 homes, farms and businesses across the country.

The damage is mainly attributable to fallen trees on overhead lines as a result of the high winds. ESB Networks’ crews will continue to work late into the evening to restore power to those affected, where safe to do so, but unfortunately, some customers will remain without electricity overnight.

Since early morning and despite challenging conditions, ESB Networks have continued to restore power to customers across the country.
With the storm still crossing the country, more damage and interruptions to supply can be expected. ESB Networks reminds the public that if you come across fallen wires or damaged electricity network, never, ever touch or approach these as they may be LIVE and extremely dangerous.

All internal resources and contractors remain on alert and are responding to electricity outages once it is safe to do so. With a Red weather warning in the Southwest in effect until 9 pm tonight, and Co Clare until 1 am on Wednesday morning, some of our crews may not be mobilised on the ground until the worst of the severe weather passes.

We are advising all those impacted by outages that they should prepare to be without electricity overnight and into tomorrow, with some customers potentially without power beyond that. It is very important that any customers who use electrically powered medical devices should contact their healthcare professional to make alternative arrangements if necessary.

In addition to safety procedures associated with power restoration, crews continue to work under all national Covid-19 protocols with respect to hygiene, social distancing and PPE.

Customers without power can check for updates on when their fault is expected to be repaired at www.powercheck.ie

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