Saturday, December 21, 2013

Worthy causes getting just 10pc of some Christmas card sales


JUST €1 out of every €10 spent on some of the country's most popular charity Christmas cards goes towards the work carried out by the charity.

Purchasers of charity cards, often more costly than regular Christmas cards, don't know how much of their cash goes directly to the worthy causes because most festive cards on sale in shops fail to state the proportion given to the charity.

In some cases cards produced by third parties for well-known charities result in as little as 10pc, or less than €1 of the the price of the packs, going to the charity whose name is displayed on the package.

The festive sales result in a five-figure boon for charities, and many say they are "delighted" with the vital income from little expenditure at a tough time of year.

Charities say the best way of buying the cards is to purchase them directly from them, and most of the sale price will go to the charity. They also point to the fact that they reach a wider market through the high street stores, and incur no costs when they sell through a third party.

The National Consumer Agency states there is "no consumer law" that requires the trader to include the percentage going to charity on the packaging.

"Consumers have the right to clear and accurate pricing," a spokeswoman told the Sunday Independent, adding that the agency would be in favour of "greater price transparency" to allow consumers to make more informed choices.

Dunnes Stores' €2.50 packs of cards state 10 per cent, or 25c, goes to St Vincent de Paul, while Marks and Spencers' packs also inform customers that 20 per cent of its €7 packs is split between Focus Ireland and the Marie Keating Foundation.

Clothes chain Next's packs state that 15 per cent goes towards Make A Wish and beagle christmas cards.

Other major retailers such as Arnotts, Clerys and Easons sell Christmas cards for charities including the Irish Heart Foundation, Irish Cancer Society and Barnardos but don't indicate on the box the amount going to the charity.

Card manufacturer Lantz Stationery has stated that it has donated more than €450,000 to Irish charities since 2004. But the percentage gifted is not on the box of the cards it manufactures.

In Easons and other stores, the Special Editions Cards clearly state they deliver 63c per pack of €6.50 to Temple Street Children's Hospital, with the same packs also selling for Focus Ireland.

Aid charity Oxfam Ireland took in €100,000 from its cards last Christmas -- which only retail in their 51 shops -- with 70 per cent of the price going towards "life-saving work". Concern pointed out that its online card and catalogue sales raised €9,472 with 73 per cent going to its work.

Both Temple Street Hospital and Trocaire, which took in €4,000 last year, are trialling the sale of there Christmas cards through independent retailers for the first time, where they will receive 10 per cent of the cost.

Focus Ireland, which gathered €30,000 last year, pointed out that the amount it received was clearly stated on the Special Editions Cards, and there were no production costs. The Marie Keating Foundation was "delighted" with the €16,000 it raised last year, and said it felt it reached more people through the high street stores and had to do "little or no work for it".

The Irish Heart Foundation and Irish Hospice Foundation incurs no cost and hopes to raise €20,000 from the sale of charity Christmas cards through a third party, while children's charity Barnardos sells direct but also feels it reaches more people by selling through a third party in shops.

Irish Independent

Monday, December 9, 2013

NFL Playoffs: AFC Ins and Outs

With Week 14 of the NFL 2013 season about to go into full swing on Sunday, positions for the playoffs are beginning to solidify for fans and all the teams fighting for a spot. A handful of teams are on the cusp of being in, while another handful of teams are now officially out of playoff contention for the year. The division leaders became obvious earlier in the season. In the AFC, the Denver Broncos are projected as 1st seed at 10-2, with the New England Patriots a close 2nd seed at 9-3.

The Broncos first loss of the season came at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts lead by second year quarterback Andrew Luck. There was an enormous build up to the game, as it was the first time since his release that former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning returned to the stadium his leadership made possible. Manning's loss at the hands of his replacement was a hard-fought battle and proved Luck was a genius pick by Colts owner Jim Irsay.
However, that genius was tempered by the fact that Manning himself told Irsay that he was "crazy" if he did not take Luck in his absence.

Their second loss to the New England Patriots was another 60-minute war that ended in overtime with a Patriots field goal. The Patriots' earlier losses to the Cincinnati Bengals (13-6, Week 5), the New York Jets (30-27, Week 7) and the Carolina Panthers (27-17, Week 8) put them behind the Broncos in the playoff race. Neither has clinched a spot but this Sunday's games should crystallize positions for the division leaders.

The Broncos are scheduled to host the Tennessee Titans (5-7) this week, a team in the hunt for a playoff spot. The Patriots are playing the Cleveland Browns (4-8), also trying to muscle their way into post-season play. Losses by either or both the Patriots and Broncos would not knock them completely out of playoff contention; it would simply diminish their chances at a bye or home field advantage. For the Browns and Titans however, a loss puts them closer to the final curtain call for their 2013 season.

Outside of these two teams, we have the AFC Wild Card contenders. This is comprised of teams that may or may not move forward into the playoffs. It all depends on wins and losses this Sunday and next.

The Indianapolis Colts hold the best chance for 3rd seed in the AFC. Their 8-4 record puts them ahead of the 9-3 Kansas City Chiefs, projected 4th seed, and the 8-4 Cincinnati Bengal, projected 5th seed, because of divisional wins and losses between the three teams (see table below). The reigning Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens round out the AFC Wild Card teams with a surprising projection of 6th seed at 6-6.

With Luck at the helm of the offense, the Colts have put up impressive numbers and won games they were expected to lose since the young quarterback slipped on the horseshoe emblem. Luck fully established himself and his team as serious contenders for the playoffs with Indy's victory over Manning and the to-that-point perfect Broncos, but another team fell to the Colts that popular thought did not expect.

The Colts are the only team to beat the Seattle Seahawks (34-25, Week 5) this season. They solved a puzzle no other team has managed to crack against the 1st seeded NFC team. That win put them in the mix for playoff contention and the victory over the Broncos cemented it. As long as they are in top form against the Bengals this Sunday, they should continue their march into the postseason.

The Chiefs are bewildered as they try to work their way back from a third loss in a row. Manning and his Broncos handed the last undefeated team in the league their first and third losses of the season. In between, the Chiefs managed to fall to the 5-6 San Diego Chargers, 41-38.

Quarterback Alex Smith is still careful with the ball and continues to read the coverage as well as he did in the beginning if the season. Looking at the Chiefs' wins and losses and Smith's stats for each game, there is no glaring stat that jumps out to explain why KC is suddenly getting handed marks in the "L" column. Over the course of these three losses, Smith was sacked a total of six times by Denver and San Diego. He threw 2 interceptions over the three-game losing streak, and only fumbled once. Whatever is going on with the Chiefs, it is not their quarterback.

In recent weeks, KC has seen injuries at key positions. On defense, linebacker Tamba Hali has been dealing with an ankle injury and his counterpart, Justin Houston has been dealing with an elbow injury. Between them, these two combine for 20 of the Chiefs 34 sacks. Hali has been in full practice this week, but Houston has not practiced and is listed as out. On offense, Donnie Avery, who has been so effective throughout the season, is probable with a shoulder injury. He has been in full practice and he is listed as probable.

Running back Jamaal Charles still leads the Chiefs in rushing and receiving yards and has not slowed his stride. He has 219 carries for 1011 yards and nine touchdowns; on receiving he has 55 catches for 452 yards and two touchdowns. Of four fumbles he has only lost two all season.

The Chiefs have not won since their bye in Week 10. This week, they are on the road to face the Washington Redskins. Considering the recent debacle that is Washington, KC probably has a chance to get back on the winning side of things on Sunday. The trick is staying there. If the Chiefs recapture their mojo, they can come out of the Wild Card race with a playoff berth.

The Bengals are one of the surprises of the season at 8-4. They were the first team to beat the Patriots this season (13-6, Week 5) and they did beat the Colts in preseason, 27-10. Quarterback Andy "Red" Dalton has wide receivers A. J. Green and Marvin Jones to work with. Together they have 14 receiving touchdowns. Dalton also has running backs Giovani Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who are carrying the running game in impressive fashion. Between them these two workhorse players have scored all eight of the Bengals rushing touchdowns.

Filling out Dalton's arsenal are tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert, each contributing two and one touchdowns to the scoring drives respectively. There's also wide receivers Brandon Tate, Ryan Whalen and Mohammed Sanu, each with significant catches and scores. Green (groin) and Eifert (knee) are both probable with injuries this week but both were in full practice on Thursday and Friday. Offensively speaking, the Bengals could not be more prepared to make a run for the playoffs.

Defensively, they lost their captain, defensive tackle Geno Atkins in Week 9 to injury as well as cornerback Leon Hall in Week 5 for the year. Their replacements are holding firm, of course, but as banged up as the Bengals defense is, they may have some trouble with the Colts energetic offense. The other side of the Atkins coin is linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who is dealing with an ankle injury. Like his offensive teammates, he was in full practice and is listed as probable.

As long as the Bengals can pressure Luck and keep him unbalanced they have a chance to advance. They also need to capitalize every offensive opportunity with a score. The Colts are far too good at getting the lead and keeping it to depend on a last minute comeback.

The Ravens were effectively "gutted" on offense and defense after their Super Bowl win last season. Emotional and defensive leader Ray Lewis retired. Safety Ed Reed moved on to the Texans and then the Jets. Running back Ray Rice has had perhaps the most lackluster season of his career, and quarterback Joe Flacco simply has not recaptured that same magic that ran him 11 games without an interception last year.

The Ravens were devastated on opening day by Manning's record-setting seven touchdowns in a loss that it seems they have not yet recovered from (49-27, Week 1). Their wins have been sporadic and their play spotty. No one is quite sure why the Ravens are not running the table on the teams like the Buffalo Bills (L 23-20, Week 4) and the Cleveland Browns (L 24-18, Week 9), except to say that they have become unfocused. The fire that drove them to the championship has burned low and it may not flare back soon enough to lift them past .500 and into serious postseason contention.

This week they play the Minnesota Vikings (3-8-1), who are on the verge of elimination from the playoffs. With quarterback Christian Ponder back in charge and firing on all cylinders and running back Adrian Peterson on pace to match last year's numbers, the Ravens may be closing down their season far sooner than they expect this year.

The list of teams that are definitively Out of playoff contention is clearer, at this point, than the In list. As of today, only one AFC team has been eliminated from playoff contention. Holding a disappointing record of 2-11, the Houston Texans are no longer in the race.

They are playing now for pride and draft picks. With their 11th loss on Thursday Night Football to the Jacksonville Jaguars (4-9), the Texans front office decided to release Head Coach gary kubiak stats Kubiak. General Manager Rick Smith sat beside owner Bob McNair at a press conference announcing the end of Kubiak's 8-year run with Houston on Friday.

As they finish up the last three weeks of their "nightmare season" the Texans will be under interim Head Coach Wade Phillips. Speculation on who will step into Kubiak's vacated spot is already running through the league. Names like former Chicago Bears' coach Lovie Smith (2004-2012) have been thrown around, but McNair has not specifically named anyone except Phillips and Smith at the current time. Whether Phillips will remain as head coach or step aside and continue as defensive coordinator is also a question that remains open to speculation.

The remaining contenders are all fighting to survive another week. They are listed in projected order of rank as of Week 14 and sorted by win/loss record in the table. Each of the teams "In the Hunt" is facing almost certain elimination this week or next week according to their schedules. They must win or go home.

For the AFC, the playoffs are still up in the air. The divisional leaders are almost guaranteed to go forward in the playoff race but they still need to win. All the Wild Card teams are jostling for position and are in must-when situations. None of the teams are in or out for the AFC as yet, but this week's games should shuffle out the chaff and further reveal the final cut for the playoffs.

By Brandi Tasby

AFC/NFC Breakdown NFL Standings AFC Photo Gallery

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Portarlington news


The residents of Oakdale Nursing Home invite you to a special Christmas fashion show/mulled wine and mince pie reception on Friday December 6 at 7pm. Local businesses giving you some Christmas present ideas will include Mary Miller No. 57, Eamon Bracken's Menswear, Lyle's Footwear, Earley's Fashions, Monasterevin, and Portarlington Pharmacy. Why not treat yourself to a make-over or new hairdo? Kids face painting, spot prizes and much, much more. Super draw, All proceeds from this event in aid of St Vincent de Paul Portarlington.

Drama Society

The Portarlington Drama Society is holding a social night on the Friday, December 6 in The Anvil Inn. It is a themed night to come as your favourite James Bond character. Tickets from in The Anvil for €10. The Society will be presenting The St Vincent De Paul with a cheque from our proceeds from our last production the Aquinas Moth last May. SDVP Christmas toy collection on the night.

The Society is also in production for our Christmas play of Ebony Scrooge in collaboration St Paul's Church on Saturday, December 21 at 4pm in St Paul's Church. All proceeds to their renovation funds.

Community Awards

A great night in the Heritage Portlaoise on Wednesday November 27 last at the Laois Forum Awards. Great community groups from all over Laois. Portarlington was well represented. Meals on Wheels were runners up in their category. Donie Molloy and the 4th Laois Scouts Portarlington received 1st place in their category and the Coder Dojos were runners up in their category. In the Unsung hero awards with 33 people from around the County nominated, Portarlington had 3 people nominated. They were Gerry Conway, Lillie Champ and Ann (Bourke) Dunne. The calibre of people who do great work and have been doing it all their lives was amazing and it was wonderful to see Ger Lynch from Mountmellick receiving the award. Ger Lynch is a great example of a great community worker. Working for Mountmellick town for over 50 years. A big well done to Killenard Tidy Towns who were also acknowledged on the night.

Christmas Extravaganza

A fundraising night takes place in the Heritage Hotel Killenard on Sunday December 15 at 8pm. Mulled wine reception at 7pm. The night features the Irish Midland Concert Orchestra and local musicians and singers. All proceeds go to Portarlington Lions Club and St Vincent de Paul. Tickets on sale for €10. Contact Kim at 086 3751604, Lillian at 0872213591 and Ann Dunne at 087 4116101. A great night is assured.

On The Move

The Portarlington Community Development Assoc (PCDA)/Love Port office have now moved to the Catholic Club Main St. The phone number and email address remains the same. Phone 085 8568801, or You can also check out our website Opening hours Monday to Thursday from 9.30am to 1pm and from 2pm to 4pm. Fridays 99am to 1pm. Come in and see us at any time.

Arch Club Dancing

Dancing takes place in The Gandon Inn, Emo every Monday night from 9.30 till midnight. December 9 music by Donie O Sullivan, December 16 music by John & Terry. Christmas party on December 23, music by Twice Shy. December 30, music by Black Lace. Come along for a great night out. Admission only €5.

Car Boot Sale

Portarlington GAA monthly car boot sale on the first Saturday of every month at McCann Park. To book a pitch contact 086 2712121 or email

Christmas Sale

Port GAA Christmas sale on December 7 from 10am until 2pm. €10 per stall. Contact or call 086 2712121 for details.

Port GAA Lotto

Results for November 26. Jackpot €2,700. No winner. Numbers 3-9-19-28. €50 went to Niamh McElwayne c/o Rose McCann and Canice McCarthy c/o C McCarthy. €25 each to Darragh Ward c/o C Ward and Emily Kelly c/o Rose McCann. Promoters prize to M Lawlor. Jackpot next week €2,800.

Arlington Lotto

There was no winner of the recent Lotto jackpot. Letters drawn were A-J-X-Y. €25 winners were Eimear Connolly and Morgan Hennessy. Sellers prize to Ter Lawlor. Next draw takes place on Tuesday December 3 in the Barrow Lodge. Jackpot is now €10,000.


Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann proudly presents the Bridge Ceili Band in Concert in St Paul's Church, French Church St on Saturday December 7 at 8pm. The night is supported by All Ireland musicians and singers, with guest artists, Balladeer, Michael Ryan and Aoife and Mairead Good. Admission €10. Proceeds in aid of St Paul's heating fund.

Irish Guide Dogs

On sale now, Christmas cards, calendars for 2014 and gift black lab christmas cards baubles. Discounts available. Please contact Anne Allman at 087 9177324. Also on sale in the Parish Office.

Charity Football Game

The annual St Stephen's Day charity game in Courtwood GAA Club will feature a Laois/Courtwood over 25 selection against a Laois/Courtwood under 25 selection.

There will also be a few guest appearances from neighbouring clubs and a lot of the current county players are also expected to line out. A large sum was raised for charity last year and, weather permitting, it is hoped that this year's game will be every bit as successful. All are welcome along to Courtwood GAA grounds from 11.30am.


The 2013 AGM of Courtwood GAA Club will take place in the clubhouse on Saturday December 7 at 7.30pm.

Men's Shed

Portarlington Community Men's Shed. Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 6pm at ALERT Forklift and Safety Training Unit at Botley Lane Business Park. Contact Darren (co-ordinator) at 085 7434884.

Port GAA Lotto

Results for November 26. Jackpot €2,700. No winner. Numbers 3-9-19-28. €50 went to Niamh McElwayne c/o Rose McCann and Canice McCarthy c/o C McCarthy. €25 each to Darragh Ward c/o C Ward and Emily Kelly c/o Rose McCann. Promoters prize to m lawlor. Jackpot next week €2,800.


Portarlington GAA are launching their History of Portarlington GAA book on Thursday December 5 in the GAA center at 8pm. The book is packed with over 400 pages of photos and details of the past 125 years of the club. All are welcome to attend the night. Guest speakers include Liam O'Neill, president of the GAA and the author Joe Dwyer.