by Pat Brosnan


Statutory Regulation Needed


By all accounts Fine Gael Dáil Deputy Dan Neville who is also the President of the Irish Association of Suicidology has called for regulations to be introduced in order to prevent unqualified people setting themselves up as mental health counsellors or psychotherapists and apparently there is no legislation or regulation to prevent them from doing so. According to Dan Neville anyone can put up a sign without any knowledge, qualifications or experience in the field of mental health and charge €80 per hour for a service for which they may not be qualified.  This practice, as Dan Neville is reported to have stated, could be extremely dangerous to vulnerable people. There is little doubt that those who are suffering from what is commonly known as “nerves” or any other form of mental illness are liable to chance anything to find a cure, so it is there unqualified practitioners find a ready demand for their so-called services. Mental illness is a very complex condition which even top highly qualified psychiatrists or psychologists find it often difficult enough to diagnose or treat, but one can imagine how a person with little or no experience of mental conditions are far less capable of dealing with it. So there is no doubt that Dan Neville is perfectly right in calling for a regulation on unqualified people who profess to be able to treat those with mental illness and charge fees for doing so. Any proffered treatment by some of these dubious people where money is the motive should be treated with suspicion and caution. On the other hand, however, there are some very reputable voluntary organisations providing help for those who are mentally afflicted such as the Samaritans who listen to people’s problems without being judgemental or intrusive and are doing a great service in assisting those who ring them up particularly those who may be in the process of contemplating killing themselves or possibly someone else. Unlike those who pretend to treat or cure unfortunate mental patients for money, the Samaritans do not provide their services for financial reward, but out of a sense of charity and commitment to their less fortunate fellow citizens.  They and other similar charitable organisations who provide help and consultation to mentally disturbed people in their time of need deserve the highest praise. We were glad that our own youngest girl Breda was a Samaritan volunteer during the years back in the ‘90’s when she worked in London several years ago.  Even those of us who have had many years experience of working in psychiatric hospitals never considered setting ourselves up as mental health counsellors or psychotherapists in our time and taking money from patients who would come seeking help for their condition.  While naturally we would give whatever advice or help that we could to those who might by physically or mentally unwell demanding payment for this particularly by unqualified people would surely be morally wrong and Dan Neville’s suggestion that legislation should be enacted to bring in proper regulation would surely be the proper way forward.  In the meantime if this is not done there is going to be a lot of disappointment among mental patients and their families if they continue to consult and depend on unqualified operators to either treat or cure their condition.


Late Nora O’Sullivan

The death has occurred recently in England of Nora O’Sullivan (nee Harnett) who was a sister of the late Maureen Barry of Cratloe West and an aunt of the Barry family there. Nora spent much of her life living in England in the Coventry area where her own family are situated, but she came back to live in Gortnagross for some time but returned again to England some years later.  Nora was a religious person, a devout Catholic and a member of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association and used regularly attend Pioneer meetings in Athea when she lived in Gortnagross. She used also attend daily Mass very often. Sympathy is extended to her family, her nieces, nephews and other relatives. ‘May her soul rest in peace’.


Cutbacks Hit Protestant Schools

According to recent media reports the Church of Ireland Bishop of Limerick, Killaloe and Ardfert Rt. Reverend Trevor Williams has drawn attention of how recent cuts in Department of education grants have had a highly disproportionate effect on Protestant Schools. The Bishop is patron of ten Primary schools out of eleven that serve the Church of Ireland and Protestant Community in Limerick, Kerry, Clare as well as parts of Galway and Tipperary often in isolated areas. Changes in transport arrangements have apparently hit the scattered Protestant communities hardest because some of the latest cuts which have included the withdrawal of transport subsidies means that it is now more difficult for families to get their children to schools of their own religious ethos unlike the Catholic Schools which are more localised and more convenient to the pupils attending there.  This is grossly unfair to the Protestant people who want their children educated in schools of their own denomination. Then, of course, transport is only part of the problems there are, as in all other schools around the country cutbacks and reductions in the teacher/ pupil ratio and the cutbacks in the resources to provide Special Needs Teachers for Church of Ireland schools. While all those cutbacks in the Department of Education grants and subsidies are having an effect on all schools and colleges Primary, Secondary and 3rd Level it looks as if at Primary Level anyway these are having a particularly devastating effect on the Protestant Community in our country.

By all accounts Bishop Williams recently called a meeting of School Chairpersons and Principals at Adare to discuss the projected budget cuts.  Also it appears that Dr Ken Tennelly, Secretary to the Church of Ireland Board of Education pointed out that some 65% of 174 Church of Ireland Schools in the State are affected by the Retention Schedule and will lose a mainstream class teacher. 40 schools have less than 24 pupils and 38 schools will become 1 teacher. 90 schools have between 26 and 86 pupils.  The Bishop is also reported as having stated that Church of Ireland schools will see a reduction in the capitation grant of 6% over the next 4 years and that they stand to lose a teacher and have the class size increased. So while the Irish Protestant Community are likely to have to endure most from the education cutbacks it is also going to affect everyone else. One wonders if the Minister for Education has any interest whatsoever in the promotion of the religious ethos of the schools both Catholic and Protestant, or does he prefer to see religious teaching phased out in these seats of learning. Did anybody ever tell him of the immortal saying of Padraig Pearse “Educate that you may be freed” and as far as equal treatment in education for the Protestant Community is concerned the 1916 ideal “cherishing all the children of the Nation equally” is also relevant . It is certainly time that Minister Quinn and his Department of Education got their act together and woke up to the realities of 2012 whether it concerns the administration and teaching of religion in the schools or indeed any other learning subject.