The endorsement of a children’s charity by the homegrown heroes of The Young Offenders is entirely in keeping with their character: hard chaws with soft cores.

And so it was that the cast and crew of the hit TV comedy turned out in style for a red-carpet screening of the series’ season finale in the English Market, as a fundraiser for Straight Ahead.

The charity funds surgery for children with severe orthopaedic deformities, for whom waiting is not an option.

It was set up seven years ago by Cork native, paediatric orthopaedic surgeon Pat Kiely, in an effort to reduce unacceptable waiting times for children with scoliosis, a curvature of the spine, and has performed more than 125 operations to date.

Breda Martin and Der Edwards, Lehenaghmore, Cork enjoying the screening of the final episode of TheYoungOffendersTV series at The English Market Cork on Saturday 10th March 2018. Pic: Larry Cummins
Breda Martin and Der Edwards, Lehenaghmore, Cork enjoying the screening of the final episode of The Young Offenders TV series at The English Market Cork on Saturday 10th March 2018. Pic: Larry Cummins

The work of the charity, with surgeons operating pro bono at weekends, as well as the provision of an extra theatre at Crumlin Children’s Hospital, the hiring of another orthopaedic surgeon at Crumlin and the formulation by the HSE of a scoliosis action plan, have all helped reduce the waiting list.

Latest figures from the Children’s Hospital Group show 167 children awaiting scoliosis-related surgery as of February 23, including 43 waiting in excess of the HSE target of four months.

The figure of 43 does not include patients who are suspended for outsourcing, and procedures that will not require theatre capacity. Also excluded are patients who have a planned procedure with indicative date beyond February 23.

Mr Kiely, who works in Crumlin and who was among the 800 plus fans to attend The Young
Offenders special screening on Saturday night, said there have been significant improvements in the hospital’s waiting lists.

Louise and Marie Lordan, Enniskeane enjoying the screening of the final episode of TheYoungOffendersTV series at The English Market Cork on Saturday 10th March 2018. Picure: Larry Cummins.
Louise and Marie Lordan, Enniskeane enjoying the screening of the final episode of The YoungOffenders TV series at The English Market Cork on Saturday 10th March 2018. Picure: Larry Cummins.

“It’s about half of what it was compared to this time last year. In 2016, our target was 58-60 major surgeries,” he said. “Last year it went up to between 85-90 and this year the target is 120-125.

“In effect, over a three-year period, we are doubling the number of surgeries. It’s a huge step forward in terms of national capacity.”

The situation would improve further if the theatre in Crumlin was operational five days a week, instead of the current three.

“I think we are halfway to where we ultimately need to get to,” said Mr Kiely.

“We would expect for the size of our population to do 200 cases a year. When I started in 2007, it was about 30 major cases a year. I was often putting two to three children on a list per week and God knows what happened to those kids and if they were ever treated.”

The weekend fundraiser for Straight Ahead was sold out in minutes. Among those to attend were Alex Murphy (who plays Conor MacSweeney), Hilary Rose (Conor’s mum Mairead), and director Peter Foote.

Director, writer and producer Peter Foott with co-lead actor Alex Murphy (Conor) attending the screening of the final episode of TheYoungOffenders.
 Director, writer and producer Peter Foott with co-lead actor Alex Murphy (Conor) attending the screening of the final episode of The Young Offenders.

Murphy said it was “hard to wrap your head” around how successful the show has become.

Fans watched the season finale on two large screens in the English Market, which opened for the occasion, with traders providing refreshments.

Ireland’s oldest indoor market features prominently in the series, as Mairead works at Kay O’Connell’s fish stall.

At the screening, Rose said: “It ends on a cliffhanger, but I can’t tell you what it is.”

The final episode of The Young Offenders will air on RTÉ2 on Thursday at 9.30pm and on BBC One on Friday, after The Graham Norton Show. A second series has already been commissioned.


Lifestyle

Overshadowed by its giant neighbours it may be, but the smallest of the main Blasket islands, Beginish, is no less impressive in its own right.The Islands of Ireland: The miracle of Beginish

‘The days of our years are threescore years and ten — Psalm 90How to tell an animal’s age in a heartbeat

We often hear how nature will do well, even come back from the brink of extinction, if given a chance and some human help.Birds of prey on the rise

In our country we still have places that bear no evidence of disturbance by man, that are in their pristine state and rich with all the elements that feed the spirit and deliver us into the world beyond the skin of the time and circumstances we live in.Unique ambience of Dursey Island under threat

More From The Irish Examiner