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Updated: 2017-06-25T13:17:56+01:00

 



From rock bottom to Mayor of Co Cork

2017-06-24

There was genuine warmth in the way councillors congratulated the new Mayor of Co Cork, knowing he was at rock bottom four years ago.

There was genuine warmth in the way councillors congratulated the new Mayor of Co Cork, knowing he was at rock bottom four years ago.

Declan Hurley (Ind) nearly lost his 60-acre dairy farm during the fodder crisis of 2013 when he couldn’t afford to buy in feed for his cows.

He spoke publicly about his anguish at the time.

He said he had a very tough time when the crisis struck and, like many small farmers, didn’t get the help needed from the government and financial institutions.

He said that, fortunately, his dairy business is now “recovering slowly, but surely” and then joked: “By the way can you mention that I’m single and available?”

The Dunmanway man was elected mayor through a pact between the Independents and Fianna Fáil. He defeated Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) by 26-8 votes. Fifteen Fine Gael members abstained from the vote.

“I’m absolutely privileged and honoured at being elected mayor. I was first elected to the council in 2009 and this is way beyond my expectations,” said Mr Hurley.

On a more serious note, he laid down a marker to those who want to see a vastly expanded city boundary.

Mr Hurley said he wouldn’t allow this to be to the detriment of his beloved West Cork and rural areas of the county in general.

“This proposed pillaging (of county council rates) is making me even more determined than ever to protect rural communities,” said Mr Hurley who is chairman of the Dunmanway Family Resource Centre and works closely with the charity Co-Action.

Outgoing mayor Seamus McGrath (FF) said his term in office had been an eventful and exciting one, outlining the number of events he was involved in, both at home and abroad.

He said there is a need to increase the profile of the county mayor and suggested to council chief executive Tim Lucey that newly elected mayors be given full-time drivers. “This is a huge county to get around and there is a serious health and safety issue there,” he said.

Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) pointed out that the Lord Mayor of Cork has a full-time driver “and you can cycle to most parts of the city in 10 minutes”.

Cllr Ian Doyle (FF), from Charleville, was elected deputy mayor of the county without a vote.

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Tensions mount at Aer Lingus amid cabin crew rostering row

2017-06-24

Tensions are mounting at Aer Lingus with longstanding issues around cabin-crew rostering.

Tensions are mounting at Aer Lingus with longstanding issues around cabin-crew rostering.

Workers’ union, Impact, sent out ballot papers for ‘industrial action up to strike’, but has now parked that, while the sides go into mediation at an internal Industrial Disputes Resolution Board (IDRB).

One of the primary issues is the staffing of the larger, A330 transatlantic flights and the use of more cabin-crew members, and fewer cabin-crew seniors, than agreed.

The union has said that is deliberate by Aer Lingus management to avoid promotion of its members.

Those promotions could be worth up to €6,000 for some staff.

But with 300 new crew members taken on in the last year, the company has been paying crew members allowances to act as seniors, while the senior positions are still to be filled.

A further issue is what the union describes as “extremely aggressive” rostering policies. Crews are rostered almost right up to the legal limits. Impact says a 5-on, 3-off roster would resolve many of the schedule problems and an internal IDRB recommendation, in 2016, would have advanced that.

However, it says the company is dragging its feet.

An Aer Lingus spokesman said: “We have not received notification of any planned industrial action and do not anticipate disruption to our schedule.”

This is the first public sign of any industrial unrest at Aer Lingus since it was taken over by IAG, owners of British Airways, in 2015.

The company and its unions are in the midst of a process in the Labour Court around pay. It is understood the court asked the unions to desist from any industrial action until that process is complete.

That means that if cabin crew were to revert to the ballot for industrial action, it would not take place until after the summer, at the earliest, given that the Labour Court process will only resume in July and would likely take at least a couple of months, by the time recommendations are issued and ballots completed.

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Defences Forces training Malian army in ‘difficult mission’

2017-06-24

In a west African country where militant and terrorist attacks are “entirely unpredictable”, Irish soldiers are helping to train the Malian army to enforce the rule of law.In a west African country where militant and terrorist attacks are “entirely unpredictable”, Irish soldiers are helping to train the Malian army to enforce the rule of law.The security threat facing the 18-strong deployment, part of a UN-authorised EU military training mission, EUTM Mali, has worsened after a terror attack last Sunday on a hotel in which five people were killed, including a Portuguese solider attached to the EU mission. Two Irish soldiers were in the Le Campement Hotel at the time, but were unharmed, in an attack that the government of Mali has reportedly blamed on jihadist terrorists. Lt Col Bernard Markey, who returned from a six-month tour of Mali last March, said the security situation in the country is difficult. He told the Irish Examiner: “The problem in Mali is that it is entirely unpredictable where or when an attack will happen and who is behind it — a militant group, an ideological group or a purely criminal group.” Lt Col Markey is an experienced hand at overseas missions, with 16 tours to date, including four in Africa: Rwanda in 1994, just after the genocide; Darfur, Sudan in 2004-2005 (two tours) and Mali: “I’m not new to Africa, which can be a little intimidating if you are not familiar with the environment.” The average temperature in Mali is 51C. “I would call it a robust mission. The facilities are basic, it’s extremely hot, the conditions are rural, very isolated, and basic military food. It’s a tough six-month slog.” On top of that is the general hostile security situation: “Where we go, we go in armoured convoys with maximum security protocols. No soldier moves unescorted from camp. There is no question of people going into an unknown or unsecured area.” EUTM Mali was established in 2013 on the request of the Malian government to train the Malian Armed Forces, build their capacity and help secure the country’s territorial integrity. “We have come in to try and assist in training their army and improve the government’s capability to resist the growing number of vicious militias around the country. We also train them in humanitarian law and to have a responsible approach to unarmed civilians and minors,” said Lt Col Markey. Of the 18 personnel from the Defence Forces, 11 are trainers in the sprawling Koulikoro Training Centre north of the capital Bamako, where the remaining seven serve in the mission headquarters. “The military trainers teach them infantry skills, such as tactics, being a platoon commander, how to handle weapons and how to co-ordinate with other units,” said Lt Col Markey. However, he emphasised: “We are not training people to act in an uninhibited manner. We teach them the concepts of proportionality and restraint.” He said Africa is “full of stories of atrocities by military and militia” and that he saw this first hand in Darfur, which he said was the “most difficult” of tours he served. EUTM Mali has trained an estimated 10,000 soldiers so far and Lieut Col Markey said the mission is a credit to the EU. He said the mission takes the safety of its members very seriously. “We are fully geared up and constantly exercising security drills and taking preventative measures. We have very strict medical protocols and have the ‘golden hour rule’ — that you have to be off ground and in the field hospital within one hour.” He said Mali is huge. The southern part is the size of Spain and the northern part is the size of France: “The country is enormous, the communication structure is negligible, there are few roads and no railways into the north and minimal electronic communication.” Lt Col Markey said the main threat to the country is in the nort[...]



Man who found human remains in garden living in 'own horror movie’

2017-06-24

A man who lives next door to a cemetery says he fears finding hundreds of human remains in his front garden.

A man who lives next door to a cemetery says he fears finding hundreds of human remains in his front garden.

Frank Taaffe, who lives next to Monknewtown cemetery, near Slane in Co Meath, never knows what he will discover next when he leaves his house each morning.

He has recently discovered various body parts, including fragments of a skull on his lawn, after part of the dividing wall between his house and the graveyard collapsed.

He is now worried decomposed bodies could come tumbling on to his property at any moment.

According to Mr Taaffe, the problems began almost 20 years ago but has worsened recently.

“That was when it all started, there was seriously heavy and prolonged rainfall and the ground was completely saturated which pushed the wall out,” said Mr Taaffe.

“At that point Meath County Council were in touch to say they would rebuild it, but the next thing I was told was the funds were diverted to a different project at the other end of the county and I have heard nothing since.

“It has got progressively worse since then as part of the wall has fallen, exposing human remains and bones, we had to pick a large piece of a human skull up off our garden the other week, and as far as I am concerned it’s only a matter of time until the graves start moving, it’s like living in my very own horror movie to be honest about it.”

There is also a dangerous element to what is fast becoming a farcical situation.

“That wall could collapse at any time, and when the grandchildren are around in our house we can’t let them out to play, it could easily come down on top of them before they could react,” he said.

“They can see the funny side of it and they knock great fun out of looking at the bones when they do come tumbling down, but there is a serious side to it as well.

“I just want the council to fix it, I would do the job myself but if I did anything wrong the council would be down on me like a tonne of bricks.”

Meath County Council were contacted but did not make a comment.

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HSE has no plans to give details of care death

2017-06-24

Eleven years after an elderly, vulnerable patient choked to death at a nursing home in north Cork, the HSE has confirmed it has no plans to ever release the full details of the circumstances surrounding her death.

Eleven years after an elderly, vulnerable patient choked to death at a nursing home in north Cork, the HSE has confirmed it has no plans to ever release the full details of the circumstances surrounding her death.

Hannah Comber, a 74-year-old patient with schizophrenia, was found dead at Heatherside Hospital, near Buttevant, on June 22, 2006.

Ms Comber died as a result of asphyxiation, occurring when she slipped in her sleep after being placed in a chair with a restraint belt.

A HSE report was carried out into the circumstances surrounding the death of Ms Comber, reportedly at a cost of up to €90,000.

In response to a request made under the Freedom of Information Act, the HSE refused to release this internal report, citing ongoing legal proceedings relating to the case.

A judgement was handed down in the High Court in January in legal proceedings taken by two individuals who were involved in the incident against the Nurses and Midwifery Board of Ireland.

The HSE refused to say whether it was aware of separate legal proceedings currently underway with a third party.

The HSE also refused to release the full report into Ms Comber’s death under the Freedom of Information Act as information gathered during the investigation was given in confidence.

In a statement, the HSE said: “Unfortunately the HSE does not expect to be in a position to publish the report in full because the investigation was carried out under a process called ‘trust in care’.

“Under that process, which has been agreed with staff representative bodies, those taking part are entitled to expect confidentiality.”

“We will shortly publish the report recommendations and its terms of reference, which is as much as is open to us to publish.”

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Irish Water to carry out major repairs in Cork

2017-06-24

Irish Water plans to cut off water to large areas of Cork city overnight on Tuesday to repair a critical mains pipe at risk of bursting.

Irish Water plans to cut off water to large areas of Cork city overnight on Tuesday to repair a critical mains pipe at risk of bursting.

The company has identified a section of old water main, close to the site of a burst on Wednesday last which left 40,000 people without water, as being in poor condition. However, it said because of the location and nature of the repairs needed at Rose Hill, just north of the city’s Lee Road waterworks plant, it will have to cut water to parts of the city supplied from the Cork Lower Reservoir from 11pm on Tuesday until around 7am on Wednesday.

The disruption will affect about 35,000 people in roughly the same areas affected by Wednesday’s burst, including the city centre, Douglas Rd, South Douglas Rd, Boreenmanna Rd, Blackrock Rd, Ballinlough Rd, Barrack St, Bandon Rd, Sunday’s Well, Leitrim St, Gerald Griffin St, and Great William O’Brien, and surrounding areas.

The company said it will liaise, along with Cork City Council, with all “vulnerable customers”, including hospitals and other large users of water, to ensure the impact on them during the repairs can be managed and minimised.

“By carrying out this work in a controlled manner at night, Irish Water aims to minimise inconvenience to homes and businesses, while also preventing a situation similar to that which occurred during the week,” a spokesman said last night.

Wednesday’s outage hit the hospitality sector hardest, with dozens of pubs, restaurants and hairdressers forced to close for several hours. Fire crews had to deliver water to the Mercy University Hospital’s storage tanks and production at the Heineken Ireland brewery was disrupted.

Despite calls from business leaders, Irish Water has ruled out discounts for affected commercial customers. Traders including Claire Nash of Nash 19 restaurant, and Pat O’Connell, of O’Connell’s Fish in the English Market, reacted angrily to the company’s stance.

Ms Nash had repairmen on site yesterday and she said she has asked fellow restaurateurs to compile a list of repair costs they face arising out of damage caused to equipment, including coffee machines, filters, and refrigeration equipment, following the loss of water.

Mr O’Connell accused Irish Water of having a “blasé” attitude towards its customers in the city, adding: “If this happened in Dublin, there would have been war. It’s just not good enough when you’re paying for a service. You have to respect your customers.”

In a statement last night, Irish Water apologised in advance for any inconvenience that may be caused as a result of Tuesday’s work.

Company operations lead for Cork, Jim Fitzgerald, said: “Our priority in carrying out this essential work is to keep any disruption to residents and businesses to an absolute minimum.”

Customers are urged to run their cold tap until the restored water is clear, and before operating washing machines, dishwashers, and other appliances.

Irish Water said it is investing more than €15m to replace more than 27km of ageing water mains in the city to provide a much more secure and reliable water supply.

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Award lauds Sonia O’Sullivan’s role in Irish Olympic effort

2017-06-24

O’Sullivan was honoured with the accolade of Outstanding Contribution to the Olympic Movement in Ireland at the inaugural Olympic Council of Ireland Awards last night.

O’Sullivan was honoured with the accolade of Outstanding Contribution to the Olympic Movement in Ireland at the inaugural Olympic Council of Ireland Awards last night.

The 5,000m silver medal-winner at the Sydney Games was recognised not just for her achievements on the running track, but for work behind the scenes, including her stint as Chef de Mission for the London Games.

Cork rowing brothers Gary and Paul O’Donovan, along with coach Dominic Casey, received a ‘Spirit of Rio Award’ for their exploits at the 2016 games.

“Not only did they win an Olympic silver medal in Rio, they captured the imagination of the Irish people with their attitude to sport, to competition and to the community from which they came,” organisers said.

Mr Casey was recognised “as a cornerstone in driving these values in not just the O’Donovan brothers but also in the whole of the Skibbereen Rowing Club”.

The brothers did not attend the ceremony in Dublin as they were down south preparing to compete in the Cork Regatta at the National Rowing Centre.

The O’Donovans, who have just returned from Poznan, Poland, where they won silver in the World Cup II, race each other in the Men’s Division 1 single sculls today, and then come together to take on the rest of Ireland in the Men’s Division 1 double sculls tomorrow.

Gary and Paul were looking forward to meeting old rowing friends and rivals.

“There is a great buzz around the rowing centre,” said Gary. “All our friends are here and it is nice to catch up with them at regattas. It is also great that the domestic racing calendar fits in neatly at the moment with what we are doing abroad.”

The night also saw Ronnie Delany honoured as the first inductee into Ireland’s Olympic Hall of Fame, in recognition of his gold medal win in the 1,500m at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

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Report ignored call for joint Cork planning body

2017-06-24

Authors of a report on the proposed extension of Cork City’s boundary ignored a request from Cork County Council to recommend the creation of a governing body which would oversee all strategic planning for the whole region.

Authors of a report on the proposed extension of Cork City’s boundary ignored a request from Cork County Council to recommend the creation of a governing body which would oversee all strategic planning for the whole region.

The omission has been heavily criticised by the outgoing Mayor of County Cork, Seamus McGrath, who is also seriously concerned that his local authority will lose so much revenue from the boundary extension it could become a non-viable entity.

In a submission to the Mackinnon expert advisory group, the county council suggested that both local authorities could run their own day-to-day services, but that reserved powers and functions would be assigned to the combined governing body for strategic policy.

Mr McGrath said fears have been raised in County Hall that without the presence of a governing body, the massively expanded city council would take control of all development, leaving some towns and villages in what remains of the county at a distinct disadvantage.

The Mackinnon report proposed Cork Airport, Ballincollig, Blarney, Glanmire, Little Island, and Carrigtwohill be ceded to the city.

It is expected that close to 80% of future development in Cork is likely to occur in the extended city boundary areas. In a letter to Eoghan Murphy, the minister forhousing and local government, Mr McGrath said a governing body “would add significantly to overall governance and management of local government in Cork”.

The county council told the Mackinnon report authors it is totally opposed to any situation that would result in an extension to the city boundary without the creation of this body, which it suggests calling the Cork Economic Development and Planning Board.

“Rural Co Cork needs to be supported in such way as to guarantee that it too will benefit from the significant increased development and growth that is expected to take place in the revised city council area in the years ahead,” said Mr McGrath.

He said he also has serious concerns about compensation being paid by the city for the loss of county council rates and local property tax revenue.

“While the report allows for compensation in relation to lost income currently, it will not make provision for the loss of income from the substantial development into the future in the area that is to be transferred,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Irish Examiner has learnt that the county council is carrying out an examination of the projected amount of money it may lose in the coming years if the boundary extension proceeds. It stands to lose €400m over the next 10 years. It’s expected the council will compile a report showing the total loss of earning potential up to 2050.

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Harder stance likely on vacant houses

2017-06-24

Bold initiatives which may involve beefed-up powers for the new housing minister are being considered to free up the vast level of vacant housing stock and sites around the country.Bold initiatives which may involve beefed-up powers for the new housing minister are being considered to free up the vast level of vacant housing stock and sites around the country.Newly promoted Minister for Housing, Planning, and Local Government Eoghan Murphy is also considering introducing an affordable rent scheme for professionals in Dublin City, mirroring a system operating in London. In an interview with the Irish Examiner, Mr Murphy said every option was on the table to solve the housing crisis, including a “big stick” to force action on vacant sites and properties. He admitted he was a little surprised to have been given the housing portfolio by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, but he had been advised by him that no idea was too radical or too big to discount. One of his first priorities is to come up with a way to make the best use of the estimated 189,000 vacant housing units around the country. He said he is still considering what measures he can bring in to address the crisis, but he is conscious that whatever budgetary changes he might bring in could have legal ramifications. “I am going to come up against property rights, but we do have a new attorney general, so I have to talk to him, as well,” he said. The Irish Examiner understands that property owners who have a second home or idle property may be offered enticements, such as grants or tax incentives, to modernise rooms or units. If these are ignored, penalties could be applied, under ideas being considered. Mr Murphy said it is too early to provide any specifics about what measures he might introduce, but he promised radical action that may involve increased powers. “They will be bold interventions, they will be something that hasn’t been tried before, so it might require new powers, but I think that’s what we need,” said Mr Murphy. “It’s going to be a carrot-and-stick approach and it is going to be a big stick. “There are sites, there are houses, there are stranded assets that aren’t even being used for housing that need to be used. “Housing is the challenge, the crisis of our time, and we are in it right now. We need to find what new powers we need to make sure we get the supply-side measures in place and we get these new vacant sites into play.” Earlier this week, economic think-tank the ESRI said the number of new builds required per year to meet basic demand has gone up from 25,000 to between 30,000 and 35,000, whereas only around 13,000 are actually being constructed. It suggested some homes built during the recession were only being connected to the ESB grid now, which means official completion figures may be much lower. The new minister has also come under fire after admitting that a pledge by predecessor Simon Coveney to end the use of hotels for housing the homeless by July 1 would not be met. Mr Murphy also said he is examining how to make affordable rents more of an option for professionals working in cities, along the lines of a system in London. “I’m in discussions with other parts of government on an affordable rent, to bring on-stream as quickly as possible cost rental models that either a council would manage or someone else would manage on behalf of the council, to make sure people can rent at an affordable rate,” he said. Councils could lease lands or build units and let them at market rates or with discounts, under plans being considered. “So instead [in Dublin] of being fleeced at €2,000, that might be paid today for a two-bedroomed anywhere near the city centre, you [the professional tenant] could find a more affordable rent valu[...]



Attacker had hoped to work in childcare

2017-06-24

A 24-year-old man who had hoped to work in childcare was jailed for three years for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl couch-surfing overnight at a friend’s house and a similar attack on a 19-year-old three years later.

A 24-year-old man who had hoped to work in childcare was jailed for three years for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl couch-surfing overnight at a friend’s house and a similar attack on a 19-year-old three years later.

Christopher Twohig, of Banteer West, Co Cork, was sentenced to one year for the first sexual assault at Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday and a concurrent four years for the second crime with the last year suspended.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said any one these crimes merited a jail term but he said it was very troubling that there were two such crimes that were very similar in nature, one in 2011 and the other in 2014.

The first sexual assault was committed between August and October 2011 when the injured party was 15 and the accused was aged between 18 and 19.

She was visiting a house and decided to stay the night. She fell asleep on the couch with her legs in front of her on a coffee table. The defendant, whom she knew, was sitting beside her watching television when she fell asleep.

At around 5am, she woke to find the accused interfering with her. She froze and pretended she was still asleep as she did not know what to do.

Her legs were at this time across his lap. Over a period of about 15 minutes as she pretended to sleep he fondled her breasts and put his fingers inside her vagina.

Around Christmastime in 2014, the second victim was staying in a house were a number of friends were staying. She went to bed alone and woke to find Twohig lying behind her with his fingers in her vagina.

Twohig pleaded guilty to both sexual assaults. He had no previous convictions. Donal O’Sullivan, defending, said Twohig was educated to third level and had hoped to work in childcare but that this career was now denied to him because he would not get through Garda vetting for such work.

The victim of the 2014 assault did not wish to make a victim impact statement. The victim of the 2011 assault did give evidence yesterday.

“Those 20 minutes made my life shatter because I almost disconnect myself from that 15-year-old girl,” she said. “When I think back at what happened I can’t help but feel sorry for that 15-year-old. I put all the blame on myself and carried it with me for many years.

“He saw me as dirt and used me for his own benefit. This challenged my relationship with my family and every other relationship I ever had.

“I struggled in college and school. I didn’t think I was worth enough to do as well in life as everyone else. I was damaged and just something for people to use.

“I have been bullied and shamed for speaking up.”

The victim thanked her family, gardaí, and Support After Crime Services.

The accused cried during yesterday’s sentencing hearing. He got into the witness box to apologise to the two young women he sexually assaulted.

“I am extremely sorry. For what they have had to go through over the last few years I am extremely sorry,” he said yesterday.

Mr O’Sullivan said the defendant came from a well-respected family who were devastated by this. He said the defendant and been getting help for his difficulties and was also dealing with an alcohol problem.

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RTÉ stands over university spending probe

2017-06-24

RTÉ is standing over an investigation on spending and governance at third-level colleges as it prepares responses to complaints from two universities.

RTÉ is standing over an investigation on spending and governance at third-level colleges as it prepares responses to complaints from two universities.

University College Cork and NUI Galway have submitted complaints over its May 25 RTÉ Investigates programme, Universities Unchallenged.

The programme detailed a range of issues at various colleges, including severance packages at University Limerick to former managers and how it handled two whistleblowers’ allegations about expenses.

UCC corporate secretary Michael Farrell told the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC) this week that the university is not satisfied at how it was represented in the programme.

It featured details about the acquisition last November of the Irish Management Institute (IMI), in a deal that saw UCC pay €20m for the Dublin campus of the institute it took over.

A UCC spokeswoman declined to elaborate to the Irish Examiner on the details of its complaint, saying it awaits RTÉ’s response under the complaints process.

“It will be open to UCC to consider their response and to make a complaint to the Broadcasting Authority, if necessary,” she said.

RTÉ News and Current Affairs said it endeavours to reply to all complaints within 20 working days, which will be July 7 in this instance.

It did not comment on the substance of the complaint or another received from NUIG, on which it says a response will issue by a deadline of next Tuesday.

“RTÉ stands by its programme and refutes any breaching of broadcasting regulations,” it said.

The programme reported that the Higher Education Authority instructed UCC by email last November not to proceed with the IMI acquisition, pending final checking of due diligence. As reported by the Irish Examiner last month, however, UCC had subsequent HEA approval before completing the deal.

It is understood that this information was given to RTÉ Investigates within the timeframe given to UCC to respond before broadcast.

However, RTÉ News and Current Affairs did not respond to this, saying the correspondence and complaints process are confidential at this point.

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Final batch of students sign off on Leaving Cert

2017-06-24

Leaving Certificate 2017 only ended yesterday evening for around 3,500 students of applied maths and religious education.

Leaving Certificate 2017 only ended yesterday evening for around 3,500 students of applied maths and religious education.

Tony McGennis, applied maths spokesman for the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI), reported that many students reported the higher-level paper as being difficult.

Although there should be few complaints about questions on relative velocity of projectiles, connected particles, or rigid body rotation, an acceleration question requiring knowledge of circular motion was one of two more tricky questions.

A differential equation question about a spacecraft moving towards Earth required students to know quite a bit about gravitation.

For ordinary-level students, Mr McGennis said there were no major issues, apart perhaps from a question on relative velocity.

ASTI’s Caitriona Smith said the higher-level religious education paper had a broad range of topics from the curriculum. Some questions had quite challenging language, particularly in the world religions section.

Stephen O’Hara, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) subject spokesman, said the standard did not stray much from that of other years but students had to pay close attention to the nuanced wording of some questions. He said a question about just war theory was interesting in the context of current events.

He said ordinary level was not quite as challenging, but was fair and reasonable. Ms Smith said it had a nice and wide range of questions but some students could have been pushed for time due to the many parts in a lot of questions.

More than 1,500 students were entered for the morning’s technology papers that ASTI subject spokesman Seamus Walshe said would pique the interest of a neutral observer in the subject’s innovative nature.

A demanding higher-level exam contained no surprises, and had an emphasis on sustainable and alternative energy. Mr Walshe said a question about wearable technologies was a good example of the subject’s cutting-edge feel.

TUI subject spokesman Gavin Berry particularly liked a question on renewable energy and wearable technology. However, he thought a question about gears might have been better illustrated in colour, and one about application control systems was text heavy.

He said the ordinary-level exam also had a nice wearable devices question and a particularly nice one on ICT. Mr Walshe considered it probing, but thought it nicely linked questions to real-life technological situations.

For around 500 students of Italian, ASTI’s Robbie Cronin thought the higher-level exam fair, despite being tougher than recent years. the ordinary-level paper was deemed student friendly with interesting articles.

Most of the 300 students taking Japanese sit higher level and Gretta Daly, a teacher at Coláiste Daibhéid in Cork City, said they would have enjoyed the first question about Pokemon and gaming. An essay about the home might have been tricky, unless students had prepared on that topic for their oral exam.

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Six Dublin drivers clamped over 50 times in four years

2017-06-24

Six motorists in Dublin have had their vehicles clamped over 50 times over the past four years, costing them at least €4,000 each in parking fees.

Six motorists in Dublin have had their vehicles clamped over 50 times over the past four years, costing them at least €4,000 each in parking fees.

The vehicles of another 55 motorists were clamped between 21 and 50 times since 2013.

New figures show there are more than 2,000 other persistent parking offenders in the city representing around 3% of all motorists who had their vehicles clamped last year.

The annual report by Dublin City Council’s parking appeal officer reveals that 2,048 motorists have been clamped between five and 50 times since 2013.

A further 11,608 vehicles were clamped between two and four occasions over the same period.

The parking appeals officer, Bill Kielthy, said it was clear that for the 2,000-plus motorists who had been clamped more than five times that current clamp fees were not an effective deterrent.

“The six most persistent offending motorists were each clamped, on average, once every three or four weeks in the 48 months,” said Mr Kielthy.

The standard release fee for a clamped vehicle is €80. Motorists must pay €160 to have their vehicle released if it was removed to the city pound.

Mr Kielthy said he believed there was a strong case for updating the regulations to allow for a tiered system of fees to target persistent offenders.

“For example, cars clamped more than say three times in the previous 12 months could face clamp release fees of €160,” said Mr Kielthy.

He added: “If that did not work then the council should have the right to increase this fee further for these types of offenders.”

The role of the parking appeals officer in Dublin will be abolished after the National Transport Authority it recently assumed responsibility for the oversight and regulation of all public and private clamping in the Republic.

Draft regulations proposed by the authority will impose a cap of €100 as a maximum fine for parking infringements.

Mr Kielthy has repeatedly called for the standard clamping fee in Dublin to be increased to €130 as the existing €80 charge has been unchanged since 1998.

Motorists will also be entitled to a grace period of 10 minutes from the expiry of their parking ticket or from the time a parking enforcement officer finds their vehicle has no parking ticket before their vehicle can be clamped.

In his final report, Mr Kielthy said the appeal service had played a key role in improving the quality of parking enforcement in Dublin Overall, the figures show the level of parking offences are relatively low given there were over 24m on-street parking “events” in the capital last year.

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Former FF senator Des Hanafin to be laid to rest

2017-06-24

The funeral Mass for former Fianna Fáil senator Des Hanafin will take place tomorrow in Thurles.

The funeral Mass for former Fianna Fáil senator Des Hanafin will take place tomorrow in Thurles.

Mr Hanafin died on Thursday aged 86. He is survived by his wife Mona, daughter and former Fianna Fáil minister Mary, and his son John, also a former Fianna Fáil senator.

Mr Hanafin was born on September 9, 1930, in Thurles, Co Tipperary. In 1955 he was elected to North Tipperary County Council and subsequently served as chairman of the Council.

He was elected to the Seanad in 1965 and retained that seat until 1993, when he lost it by one vote.

Mr Hanafin regained the seat in 1997 and finally retired from politics in 2002. He was unsuccessful in two Dáil elections for Tipperary North in 1977 and 1981.

On his election to the Seanad, then Taoiseach Jack Lynch put him in charge of party fundraising and in control of party accounts.

This position put Mr Hanafin into conflict with Charles J Haughey who, when he won the party leadership, wanted Mr Hanafin removed from his position.

In an era where most toed the line, Mr Hanafin resisted the change and insisted he would only hand over control once an audit on the accounts was done.

Outspoken and combative, the deeply conservative Mr Hanafin was a leading advocate for the 1983 Eighth Amendent and he also opposed the divorce referendum in 1995 and mounted an unsuccessful challenge in the Supreme Court to overturn it.

Despite retiring from active politics in 2002, he continued to support efforts to retain the Eighth Amendment and pledged to support that campaign. He also opposed the marriage equality referendum in 2015.

Mr Hanafin spoke in his later years about how alcohol almost destroyed his political career, as well as his business interests.

Leading tributes to Mr Hanafin, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin expressed his sadness at Mr Hanafin’s death. He said: “Des was a man steeped in politics and community.”

He added that “seeing both his children achieve high office was a source of great pride to him”.

Mr Hanafin’s remains will repose at Hugh Ryans’ Funeral Home, Slievenamon Rd, Thurles later today from 5pm to 8pm before arriving at the Cathedral of the Assumption, Thurles at 8.30pm.

His requiem Mass will take place tomorrow at 12pm with burial afterwards in St Patrick’s Cemetery, Thurles.

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Less than third of Brexit roles filled

2017-06-24

Less than a third of the staff needed by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation and its agencies to deal with Brexit-related issues have been recruited.

Less than a third of the staff needed by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation and its agencies to deal with Brexit-related issues have been recruited.

In the last budget, an extra €3m was secured to be specifically targeted to assist in the department’s response to the evolving Brexit scenario.

It was to enable the agencies, including the IDA and Enterprise Ireland, to recruit some 40 to 50 additional staff to supplement existing staffing numbers.

The additional €3m was allocated to: Enterprise Ireland (€1.7m); IDA Ireland (€750,000); Science Foundation Ireland (€150,000); the Health and Safety Authority (€150,000), and the department itself (€250,000).

In response to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fáil’s Stephen Donnelly, Jobs Minister Frances Fitzgerald said 12 positions had been filled to date in Enterprise Ireland, with 19 more advertised and the recruitment process ongoing.

“The remaining eight job specifications are being finalised with a view to advertising them in the immediate future,” said Ms Fitzgerald.

Just three Brexit-related posts have been filled to date at IDA Ireland. Again, the department said the recruitment process for the remaining seven is ongoing. The minister said IDA will fill the remaining Brexit appointments “at the earliest possible opportunity”.

“Additionally, IDA Ireland has sought a further 21 staff resources in order that it can meet the jobs and investment targets set out in its Strategy — “Winning Foreign Direct Investment 2015-2019” — and to meet the global challenges of 2017 and beyond, with Brexit key among the identified challenges,” said Ms Fitzgerald.

In respect of Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the minister said the recruitment process to fill three Brexit-related posts was underway and successful candidates are expected to be in place in the coming months. She said a number of current SFI staff also have Brexit-related responsibilities.

The Health and Safety Authority “hopes” to commence the process of recruitment in July for two Brexit-related posts.

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Roy Keane drops in on guide dog fundraisers

2017-06-24

Soccer legend Roy Keane has praised schoolchildren whose heroic fundraising efforts for the Irish Guide Dogs (IGD) have helped transform lives.Soccer legend Roy Keane has praised schoolchildren whose heroic fundraising efforts for the Irish Guide Dogs (IGD) have helped transform lives.The former Manchester United great, and assistant manager of the Republic of Ireland team, was speaking during a surprise visit to a Cork school with staff and dogs from the charity. Gaelscoil Uí Ríordáin in Ballincollig won the VIP visit after taking part in the IGD’s Heroes appeal in April to mark World Autism Awareness day. Students Colin Ó Maolalaidh , 13, and Fionnuala Ní Mhurchu, 12, whose families are supporters of the charity, sold ‘hero’ dog pins and wristbands in the school, raising over €1,700. Keane, a long-standing supporter of the charity, said the money will make a real difference to people who need guide dogs and assistance dogs. “We take a lot of things for granted — simple things like walking around town,” he said. “But these dogs give people an opportunity for independence. It’s good raising money but it’s nice to know what exactly it does.” He was accompanied by Judy McGrath, and her son, Seán, 15, who was diagnosed with autism, aged three. Seán, a second-year student at Kinsale Community School, got assistance dog Dexter when he was eight, and said he has helped him develop social skills and independence. “When you’re different, people don’t talk to you as much,” said Seán. “If you see someone different, you kind of step back to give them the space they need but at the same time, that ends up making you very lonely. “But when you have a dog, people love dogs and will come up and talk to you. On rare occasions, they won’t talk to you, they’ll just talk to the dog. But most of the time, they talk to me and the dog. “Before I had Dexter, I didn’t care what we were doing. I just kept my head down, held mum’s hand, and just went wherever we were going. “But when I got the dog, a kind of responsibility came over me. I began to think ‘where am I meant to take the dog?’ and I became interested.” Judy said autism makes life that “extra bit hard” but Dexter made it “extra easy”. “He made it so that Seán could do what all of you guys do every day — with no stress,” she told students. “There are some kids with autism who can’t do what we’re doing today, and we want to be their voice, to tell you how beneficial Dexter has been for us.” The IGD, which offers it services for free, will spend €5.2m this year helping 200 people across its service areas. State funding makes up 15% of its income, which is ringfenced for visually impaired services. Even though the charity’s €1.2m assistance dogs programme accounts for more than half of its dog partnerships, it gets no state funding. Charity CEO Padraig Mallon said there is huge demand for this service but they can help fewer than half the families in need. “We have an incredible team and programme and would love to do much more,” he said. It takes two years to train a guide or assistance dog and around €38,000 to breed, train and support a single working dog partnership for its eight-year working life.[...]



Watchdog to oversee garda appointments

2017-06-24

The Policing Authority is implementing a key part in the reform of An Garda Síochána as it oversees the appointment of gardaí to key management positions.The Policing Authority is implementing a key part in the reform of An Garda Síochána as it oversees the appointment of gardaí to key management positions.Almost 180 gardaí have applied for vacancies at senior ranks in the organisation — at chief superintendent and superintendent levels. This is the first time that these appointments have been conducted by an external body, which is considered fundamental to ensuring that promotions are seen to be based on merit and are conducted in an independent, fair, and transparent manner. Figures from the authority show that 96 people have applied for vacancies at the rank of superintendent, while 79 officers have applied for vacancies at the rank of chief superintendent. These ranks form the management spine of the organisation. As superintendents and chief superintendents they are, respectively, the district and divisional officers around the country or they run the organisation’s various specialist units, with some of them based at Garda Headquarters. Over time, subsequent promotions to ranks of assistant commissioners and above will be drawn from this pool. Of the 175 applicants, those who are successful through the various stages will be placed on a panel, from which vacancies will be filled. The panel for superintendent is expected to be chosen by the end of this month, while the panel for chief superintendent is due to be in place by the end of July. According to the estimates from the Garda Commissioner’s office, at least 13 vacancies are expected to arise by the end of the year. Seven of these are at superintendent rank and six at chief superintendent level. However, further vacancies could also arise. The authority has already run its first competition — for the position of assistant commissioner — and has appointed three people to those positions: Michael O’Sullivan, Pat Leahy, and Barry O’Brien. Mr O’Sullivan has been appointed to the highly sensitive role as head of Crime & Security, which became vacant with the retirement of John O’Mahoney last week. Mr Leahy has taken over the Dublin Metropolitan Region and Mr O’Brien is in charge of the Northern Region. Meanwhile, Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan is set for yet another testing questions-and-answers session when she appears before the Policing Authority next Thursday. As part of its private session, the authority will question her further in relation to escalating concerns over financial irregularities at Templemore Garda College. The commissioner revealed to the Public Accounts Committee last Tuesday that she had referred a specific matter in relation to suspected fraudulent activity involving a secret garda bank account to the Garda Ombudsman. Members of the PAC have expressed shock at the intensity of divisions within senior garda management, particularly among civilian managers, serious concern at what they see as continuing efforts to hide and contain controversies within Garda HQ and significant frustration in getting the commissioner to answer their questions. Policing Authority chairwoman Josephine Feehily later told PAC that she was “disappointed and alarmed” at what had emerged.[...]



‘Gang fight has prepared Limerick for terror threat’

2017-06-24

The successful fight against feuding gangs has prepared Limerick well to deal with the threat of Islamic State (IS) terrorism, community leaders have been told.

The successful fight against feuding gangs has prepared Limerick well to deal with the threat of Islamic State (IS) terrorism, community leaders have been told.

Chief Supt David Sheahan, head of the Limerick Garda division, said: “Limerick is probably ahead of the game as already we have the Regional Response Unit here as a result of major serious crime we have dealt with in the past.

“I have a disproportionate number of people trained in the use of firearms, compared to other places and that is a positive.

“And our ability to respond to terrorist attacks would be enhanced. We have moved towards preparing our own people. We have to be vigilant and the community needs to be aware and become aware of suspicious activities and I would implore them to contact the gardaí so we can assess any threat.

“We have worked very closely with the Muslim community in the past number of years and to alleviate their fears and the rest of the community and we are in a good position to deal with anything,” he said.

“I hope it never comes to pass that we would be targeted. We have multiple facets of society now and I am confident we are in a good position. We have been up-skilling and briefing in what to look out for.

“It is a different world. But Limerick is in a very good position because of its past history of crime and can deal with a lot of incidents and we rarely have to go looking for national [Garda] units because we have built up that capability over the past number of years. My own people can deal with major investigations to the very highest standards.”

The senior Garda was at a meeting of the Limerick Joint Policing Committee and responded to Labour Councillor Frank Daly, who asked how safe Limerick was in the event of any terrorist attack in the light of recent atrocities in Britain.

One of the three London Bridge IS terrorists spent some time in Limerick, according to former associates.

Chief Supt Sheahan also revealed that a major fight against crime in rural Co Limerick is to commence with the installation of up to 300 CCTV cameras in every village and town.

Niall Collins TD welcomed the move: “This will be a huge boost to crime prevention and detection of gangs who have caused huge fear throughout rural communities.”

The CCTV system is being installed in conjunction with Limerick City and County Council. Chief Supt Sheahan said the cameras will be in operation before the end of the year and most will be placed in rural locations.

All of Limerick city centre and many estates in the city already have CCTV cover.

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Top architectural award sheds its image

2017-06-24

A group of sheds that have been transformed into the new O’Donoghue Centre for Theatre, Drama and Performance at NUI Galway has been selected for a top architecture award.

A group of sheds that have been transformed into the new O’Donoghue Centre for Theatre, Drama and Performance at NUI Galway has been selected for a top architecture award.

The centre, designed by Taylor Architects in association with Richard Murphy, won the Public Choice Award at the annual RIAI Irish Architecture Awards.

It is the second time in five years that Taylor Architects has taken the top prize. The centre was one of 60 projects on the shortlist and all were designed by RIAI-registered architects.

More than 14,000 people voted online for a building of their choice, and over 20% chose the winning project.

Second place went to the Central Bank of Ireland at Dublin’s North Wall Quay, originally intended to be Anglo Irish Bank’s headquarters.

In third place was a Cork project — Child’s Play Tower, designed by architect Neil Kane for his daughter, Ailbhe.

RIAI president Carole Pollard said the tree house was a project of passion that captured the public’s imagination.

“The architect said his six-year-old daughter was as demanding as any corporate client could be,” said Ms Pollard.

Speaking on RTÉ radio, Ms Pollard recalled that Ailbhe wanted the tree house to be painted yellow, not pink.

“It looks like a simple structure but is actually very sophisticated in its design,” said Ms Pollard.

She said the new Central Bank building was probably the most public building in Ireland.

She said the concrete frame that had stood by the quay for so long a represented all that was rotten at the core of Ireland’s financial collapse.

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The building was designed by Henry J Lyons Architects. Ms Pollard said they took the “concrete skeleton” and clad it using the highest technology of office construction.

She said the O’Donoghue Centre was the overall winner by “a long shot”.

The protected structure was a bleach and flax mill in the 1850s and had also served as a munitions factory.

More recently it had been used as the college’s engineering laboratories before the construction of the new engineering building.

The centre is a 120-seat theatre space and allows for multifunctional use and accessibility. There are studio spaces, a classroom, a workshop and a rehearsal room.

It has received generous philanthropic support from Galway businessman, Donagh O’Donoghue who graduated from the university with an Arts and Business degree in the 1960s.

Ms Pollard said while there was a great selection of projects this year — areas that were missing were multiple housing schemes and social housing and that needed to change.

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Documentary to uncork U2’s elevation

2017-06-24

U2 might be regarded as a Dublin band, but a new film will trace the importance of Cork to the group’s early development.

U2 might be regarded as a Dublin band, but a new film will trace the importance of Cork to the group’s early development.

U2 Agus An Arc, an Irish-language documentary, will be broadcast on RTÉ One next month, and will trace U2’s development in the context of the thriving music scene on Leeside in the late 1970s and early 80s.

That scene was centred around the Arcadia Ballroom — a venue U2 played about nine times.

Being able to attract regular crowds of about 1,000 enthusiastic punters in Cork — more than in their hometown — meant the band would use the Arc as a showcase venue for visiting record labels and British journalists.

Famously, U2 recruited their sound engineer, Joe O’Herlihy, and other Cork members of their long-serving road crew, while playing these gigs.

The new documentary is the work of Forefront, a production company based on Douglas Road in Cork.

Documentary director, Tony McCarthy, was a regular attendee at the band’s gigs at the Arcadia, while his father Joe worked with RTÉ from the early days of television in Ireland, and was a cameraman at U2’s famous ‘secret’ gig at the Lee Fields in Cork in 1985.

“It was a great time for music in Cork, and we wanted to tell that story, as well as showing U2’s part in it. It was also a good opportunity to give recognition to Elvera Butler, who organised so many of those gigs,” said Tony.

Ms Butler, who features in the documentary, was the Thurles woman who set up UCC’s Downtown Kampus at the Arcadia, and had a major hand in nurturing the local scene, as well as bringing major acts to Cork.

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Pic: David Corio

While no footage of U2 at the Arcadia exists, the documentary makers were able to use rarely-seen pictures from a number of local sources, as well as from famed British music photographer David Corio.

The NME music paper had sent Corio to Cork for a piece by Paul Morley, who also contributes to the film.

Among the footage that is included in the documentary is of U2’s Lark by the Lee gig in 1985.

“That was organised by Joe O’Herlihy and the band partly to say ‘thank you’ to Cork,” Tony McCarthy said.

“It was kept secret because they couldn’t set up an official gig in the city at the time, and they didn’t want too big a crowd showing up at this.

“I knew about it because my dad was going to be filming at it.”

U2 Agus An Arc will be broadcast on RTÉ One on July 20.

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