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Updated: 2017-05-25T03:56:47+01:00

 



Nóirín O'Sullivan ‘inherited a poisoned chalice’ with An Garda Síochana

2017-05-25

There would be calls for the head of the Garda commissioner regardless of whether it was Nóirín O’Sullivan or someone else, the chair of the new policing commission has said.There would be calls for the head of the Garda commissioner regardless of whether it was Nóirín O’Sullivan or someone else, the chair of the new policing commission has said.Kathleen O’Toole said this was because Ms O’Sullivan and her management team “inherited a poisoned chalice” when they took over. Ms O’Toole, a US police chief and former head of the Garda Inspectorate, made the comments to the media after the first meeting of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland. When questioned about the constant calls for the head of the commissioner in recent months, Ms O’Toole said: “I don’t think it would make a difference if it was Nóirín O’Sullivan or someone else. “I think this management team inherited a poisoned chalice and I think we need to get beyond the finger-pointing and the name calling.” She added: “We’re certainly not going to engage in that. We are looking to the future.” The chair of the commission acknowledged there was a “crisis in confidence” in An Garda Síochána. However, she said she hoped the 12-person commission would facilitate a fresh start: “It’s been a very very difficult time and I think that and I hope we can shift the commentary to a constructive dialogue about the future of policing in this country. “Certainly there are others focusing on performance issues and historical inquiries. Our role is to strike this new beginning and press the reset button and engage in a good constructive dialogue.” Ms O’Toole, flanked by seven of the 12 members, said there was a crisis in confidence in police forces elsewhere, including in the US. She said she believed the “average” person in Ireland supported their local guards and that they were concerned about “systems and management issues”. She added: “On a human level people want to support the police here. They are overwhelmingly supportive of the police.” She said gardaí “must be very demoralised” and said the commission wanted to show them “some light at the end of the tunnel” and create a policing model that both “they can buy into and that will also restore public confidence”. The commission is tasked with extensive terms of reference, covering everything from: Recruitment and training; the structures and management of the organisation; separating security from policing; culture and ethos; oversight structures; the laws around policing, and an examination of policing models from abroad. She said it might sound like a “Herculean” task, but said it need not be so. Ms O’Toole said there was now a sense of urgency: “I’m convinced the Government is prepared to accept and implement changes. If I didn’t believe that I wouldn’t be here.” She said the commission would be holding community meetings and taking submissions. She said they would be assisted by an estimated 10 support staff — similar to what the Patten Commission had. She pointed out that her commission also had four additional members compared to Patten. Asked how many hours a week members would be able to give, she declined to say but did state that members had “made a commitment to do whatever it takes to get this done”. On the issue of taking security and/or intelligence away from policing, she said there were “very mixed views” on that in Ireland. She said they had “no pre-conceived notions” on it and would make “sensible recommendations”.[...]



Brothers contradict HSE evidence on Grace case

2017-05-25

Evidence given by the HSE to the Public Accounts Committee as to when it knew about allegations of abuse involving the Grace foster home has been sharply contradicted by the Brothers of Charity.

Evidence given by the HSE to the Public Accounts Committee as to when it knew about allegations of abuse involving the Grace foster home has been sharply contradicted by the Brothers of Charity.

The HSE has been called to clarify “the significant anomalies in evidence” by a former PAC vice chairman, John Deasy, who has been to the fore of exposing the abuse scandal.

In documents given to the PAC in December 2015, it was claimed the South Eastern Health board first knew of allegations around the home in 1992. However, a new statement from the Brothers of Charity, which is to be discussed at the PAC today and seen by the Irish Examiner, shows they knew as early as late 1990 and early 1991.

The whistleblower in the case is to appear before the PAC in private session.

The Brothers stopped sending people to the home for respite care in 1990 on foot of concerns and claim they told the health board in writing of those concerns.

“In preparations for our summer scheme in 1991, there were concerns following a social work visit to the foster family in the south east that we understand is at the centre of the current controversy,” the statement says. “These concerns, which were conveyed in writing to the then SEHB, related to a breach of trust with the family as incomplete information was given by the family to the social worker regarding the number of people then residing at the foster home.”

But the clear contradiction is also significant in relation as to how the case of Sarah, another young girl with disabilities who resided in the foster home until 1992, particularly as to how her case was investigated.

Both Grace and Sarah, were subjected to the most horrific and savage sexual abuse, according to their families in the foster home.

A spokesperson for the HSE said: “As the HSE has not seen the statement from the Brothers of Charity, we are not in a position to make any comment. In any case, matters such as this, are the subject of the commission of Investigation which has already commenced its work.”

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Seán FitzPatrick Trial: Failure to tackle white-collar crime is ‘demoralising’

2017-05-25

The Sean FitzPatrick judgment highlights the “difficulties and challenges” in investigating and prosecuting white-collar crime, according to a legal expert.

The Sean FitzPatrick judgment highlights the “difficulties and challenges” in investigating and prosecuting white-collar crime, according to a legal expert.

Professor Shane Kilcommins of the School of Law at the University of Limerick said there was a “fragmented” approach by a myriad of state agencies in tackling this type of crime.

He said there was no centralised governance and “no unifying strategy” as well as sparse “accountability structure”.

Despite the challenges of tackling white collar crime, Prof Kilcommins warned that failure to do so would have a ‘demoralising effect’ on society and potentially “make a mockery of the notion of equality for all citizens before the law”.

The Dublin Circuit Criminal Court directed the jury to acquit MrFitzPatrick — who was charged with misleading Anglo Irish Bank auditors about millions of euro in loans.

Judge John Aylmer said he was making his ruling because of real concerns that the defendant was being denied his constitutional right to a fair trial.

He said the investigation by the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement was flawed by witness coaching, contamination of witness statements and shredding of evidence. Prof Kilcommins said, on one hand, the judgement reflected the need in Ireland’s criminal process to ensure the quality and integrity of information emanating from an investigation.

As well as accuracy, this was to protect individual freedoms, basic fairness and check abuses of power.

“When these safeguards are breached, it is difficult, if not impossible, to stand over the integrity of the investigation process,” he said.

He added: “More broadly, the judgement also, to some extent, reveals the difficulties and challenges posed in investigating and prosecuting alleged white collar offences.”

He said this is for a number of reasons.

“To begin with, the line between poor business decisionmaking and criminal activity is far from clear- cut. It is also the case that proof is difficult in these cases, and often resource intensive.”

He said white-collar crime was difficult to detect “because it often occurs in private, behind closed corporate doors”.

He said another difficulty was the “expansion in agencies” with the power to investigate white-collar crime and to bring prosecutions.

“They have increased dramatically in Ireland in recent years,” he said.

“They include: the Revenue Commissioners, the Competition Authority, the Director of Consumer Affairs, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Health and Safety Authority and the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement.

“This enlargement in scope, however, is fragmented in nature, occupying diverse sites and modes of operation.”

He said there was no centralised governance and no unifying strategy.

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Quick-thinking gardaí save life of little girl in Limerick city centre

2017-05-25

A Limerick toddler is alive thanks to the quick thinking of two Garda detectives who kept her breathing during a medical emergency in Limerick city centre.

A Limerick toddler is alive thanks to the quick thinking of two Garda detectives who kept her breathing during a medical emergency in Limerick city centre.

Detectives Denise Moriarty and Barry Moylan were on routine patrol when they saw Sylwia Pietrasik and David Moya on the junction of Gerard Street and O’Connell Avenue as Lorena went into convulsions.

They quickly realised that the child aged 20 months was in serious medical distress and intervened immediately.

Det Garda Moriarty, a native of Kilcummin, Killarney, Co Kerry, said: “That’s when it just kicked in. I didn’t think much really, we just did what was needed.

“Shortly after 8.20pm we were coming from Wolfe Tone Street when we saw Lorena’s parents on the roadside. Lorena’s mother was clearly distressed at her child’s condition,” he said.

After identifying themselves as gardaí, the two detectives took Lorena into their patrol car, along with her parents, and opened her airway.

Finding a weak pulse, they kept the airway open as they drove to University Hospital Limerick while maintaining contact with the control room at Henry Street Garda Station. This ensured that Lorena could be handed over to a waiting paediatric team for further intervention and care.

The two detectives said that they were “both relieved and thrilled” to hear that Lorena had recovered later that night.

Det Garda Moriarty said: “We called out, just out of courtesy, to the hospital the next day and there was Lorena sitting up in the bed of the Children’s Ark playing with her toys and happy out. She was a different child. Her mom was so thankful to us but we were just happy to see all was well.”

Sylwia told the detectives afterwards that she is in debt to them for their fast action which saved Lorena’s life.

One week later, Lorena was bustling around the quayside in Limerick with her parents, full of the joys of life and oblivious to being at the centre of attention.

Chief Superintendent Davie Sheahan said “Det Gda Moriarty and Moylan must be praised for their interventions here and for stepping up the mark in their community. This child is alive today because of that. I am very proud of them.”

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Bid to avert closure of 11 beds at child mental health unit

2017-05-25

Talks will take place today between the HSE and the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) in an effort to avert the closure of half the beds in the country’s newest inpatient unit for children with mental health disorders.

Talks will take place today between the HSE and the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) in an effort to avert the closure of half the beds in the country’s newest inpatient unit for children with mental health disorders.

Linn Dara, a 22-bed unit in Cherry Orchard, Dublin, only open since December 2015, is due to close 11 beds by June 1 unless staffing issues can be resolved.

At the time of its opening, Anne O’Connor, national director, HSE Mental Health, said the unit would “enhance the provision of accessible and appropriate services for young people who are experiencing mental health difficulties and the families that support them”.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was asked in the Dáil during the week to intervene to prevent the bed closures.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said he had emails from parents of patients at Linn Dara “who are under enormous pressure”.

“Children who were admitted two weeks ago as being in emergency situations, at high risk and in need of emergency admission are now being discharged early,” he said.

The HSE issued a statement saying all discharges from Linn Dara “are clinical decisions and are planned discharges”.

“Nobody is being discharged in order to allow a bed to be closed,” the statement said. The bed closures are expected to last for up to three months.

Fianna Fáil’s mental health spokesman, Jim Browne, said while the Government’s mental health blueprint, Vision for Change, highlights the need for at least 100 beds for child and adolescent patients, the figure will reduce from 63 to 52 with the Linn Dara closures. Vision for Change is under review.

He said: “The HSE must clarify whether Linn Dara is currently operating over-budget as many suspect that this is the real reason for these bed closures.”

Mr Martin said there had “clearly been a lack of strategic planning” on the human resource side of mental health services for some time.

The HSE has invited the PNA to today’s talks at the behest of Helen McEntee, the mental health minister.

A spokesperson for the PNA said they will put forward “a number of proposals” in an effort to resolve the crisis. The spokesperson said just 17 out of 34 nursing posts at Linn Dara are currently filled. Staff are providing cover by doing additional hours, overtime and through use of agency staff.

More than 80 posts remain unfilled across community mental health services that cater for children and adolescents with severe mental health disorders. Earlier this week, children’s charity, Barnardos, said a survey of 242 parents found one quarter said their child had been waiting more than two years to be assessed by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and more than 35% have been waiting more than two years to receive treatment.

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Hopes small door will lead to a big future in Hollywood

2017-05-25

It’s a small door, but it could lead to a big future.It’s a small door, but it could lead to a big future.The red doorway on Schull’s Main St might not seem very Disney, but for the open casting of Artemis Fowl, maybe it was perfect — the seemingly innocuous doorway opening the way to a world of fantasy. As a summer job, it’s pretty good. Wanted: An Irish boy for the title role in Disney’s adaptation of Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl, directed by Kenneth Branagh. Must be criminally good. And so they came to Schull and the Fastnet Film Festival yesterday for the first of two days of open casting for the lead role of Artemis, one that requires a boy aged nine to 13 who is inquisitive, perceptive, warm-hearted and in tune with a character beloved of millions of readers. Many had already applied but some, like Conor O’Reilly had — in the words of his mother, Catriona — “just rocked up”. Conor O’Reilly, 12, ‘just rocked up’ to the casting call, and loves performing. Conor, 12, had travelled to Schull with his mum and his twin brother, David, from Wexford town. “It’s really just that I have loved performing for a year or so,” Conor said. Catriona said it had started with the school play which more recently had resulted in Conor playing the young Simba in a production of The Lion King. “I’ve been hooked ever since,” he said. His brother, David, had read the first Artemis Fowl and Conor is also flying through it. As for the audition? “I think it went well.” There were no thoughts of bamboozling the casting agents by sending in David as well — and as Catriona explained, he’s more into playing the saxophone than acting. The O’Reillys had set off early, and so had Thomas Doonan and his dad, Hugh - all the way to Schull from Cavan. Thomas Doonan, 12, came from Cavan Town to West Cork, and says he likes acting and has done several plays. Thomas, aged 12, said: “I like acting. I’ve done a few plays.” Hugh explained how an uncle in the family had played in Cavan’s all-Ireland winning side in the ‘40s and a play about his life had led to Thomas taking a part. He already has the enigmatic interview responses down to a T. Does he want to be an actor when he grows up? “King of,” he said. Hugh was happy for him to get the initial call following the application process and for them to enjoy the day out. “If you don’t take a chance on anything in life you won’t get anywhere,” he said. Setanta McLaughlin from Clonskeagh in Dublin hadn’t travelled quite as far. “I am very prepared,” he said, adding that he’d read the first Artemis and liked it. He was accompanied by his mother, columnist and TV panellist Amanda Brunker. Setanta McLaughlin was all smiles on the day, saying he felt prepared for the audition. “He should have curly hair and needs to look different to every other Hollywood kid,” she said of Artemis while referring to her son’s head of tumbling curls. They were coming from all quarters and in the case of Naoise O’Driscoll, from literally down the road. The eight-year-old lives in Schull and attends the gaelscoil in Skibbereen and following yesterday’s audition, he was enjoying a well-earned packet of Chewits. Naoise O’Driscoll, 8, from Schull, felt his audition went well. The character is aged between 9 and 13 and is loved by millions of readers. How’d it go? “Good.” His mother, Ciara, said they’d been listening to the audio books. “I also like how it’s all about magic,” Naoise chipped in between sweets. Maybe the red door is a magic door? Who knows where it’ll lead.[...]



Fatal Limerick city knife attack linked to Manchester Arena terror attack

2017-05-25

A racist remark over the Manchester suicide bombing may have led to a fatal lunchtime attack in Limerick city centre yesterday. A Romanian national, in his late 50s, died from stab wounds. He was rushed to University Hospital Limerick at around 1.30pm.

A racist remark over the Manchester suicide bombing may have led to a fatal lunchtime attack in Limerick city centre yesterday. A Romanian national, in his late 50s, died from stab wounds. He was rushed to University Hospital Limerick at around 1.30pm.

A Limerick man, also in his 50s, from the Garryowen area, was being held at Roxboro Road Garda Station last night. A weapon was recovered at the scene at Roches Row which links Roches Street and Thomas Street. The deceased lived in the area.

According to sources, an argument broke out with a relative of the dead man and a third party and may have involved comments about the Manchester bombing.

Words had been exchanged and the man, now deceased, arrived and attempted to intervene to calm matters.

He was attacked and sustained stab wounds. His grey hat, with gold headband trimmings, lay at the scene. A man was arrested a short time later.

A team of medical technicians applied CPR before the victim was removed by ambulance. He was pronounced dead shortly after being admitted to UHL. Last night gardaí were trying to contact the man’s family in Romania.

A postmortem is likely to be conducted today.

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Child’s medicine request from HSE staff member was on back of envelope

2017-05-25

HSE staff who assessed a child with a mental health disorder wrote a recommendation for the medication she needed on the back of an envelope — instead of using a HSE letterhead.

HSE staff who assessed a child with a mental health disorder wrote a recommendation for the medication she needed on the back of an envelope — instead of using a HSE letterhead.

Dr John Sheehan, a Cork-based GP, said the child’s mother had presented at his surgery with the recommendation “literally, on the back of a brown envelope”.

“Normally, a letter or fax from the HSE in relation to medication is on HSE-headed notepaper, signed, and dated. This was neither signed nor dated,” he said.

“When the HSE is communicating in this way it is a clear sign that the service isn’t functioning.”

The girl, 14, had been referred as an outpatient to the HSE’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHs) in Cork. Dr Sheehan said it was standard practice, after assessment, for the HSE make a recommendation in relation to the patient’s treatment.

This could be a recommendation to start drug therapy or to increase or decrease a dosage. This recommendation would then be formally communicated to the GP by way of a HSE letterhead or a prescription pad. However, in the case in question, the back of an envelope was used.

Dr Sheehan said he had acted on the recommendation “because the mother was reliable and they had an appointment for follow-up” with CAMHs. However, he said such lax practice was proof the “system is understaffed and overstretched”.

Last month, the Irish Examiner reported that an out-of-hours on-call CAMHs assessment service for youngsters presenting at Cork City’s two emergency departments had been suspended indefinitely due to a staffing crisis. The service remains suspended.

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Seán FitzPatrick Trial: Enforcer blasted for ‘systemic failure’

2017-05-25

The State body charged with prosecuting white-collar crime was subject to scathing criticism from across the floor in the Dáil yesterday, in the wake of the acquittal of ex-Anglo chairman Seán FitzPatrick.

The State body charged with prosecuting white-collar crime was subject to scathing criticism from across the floor in the Dáil yesterday, in the wake of the acquittal of ex-Anglo chairman Seán FitzPatrick.

The Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, which led the investigations into Anglo, was guilty of a “catastrophic systemic failure” which has “shattered public confidence” in the body, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said.

“The State’s capacity to investigate serious white-collar crime has been shown to be inept, negligible wasteful and virtually redundant,” said Mr Martin.

Responding, Taoiseach Enda Kenny evidenced his visible annoyance at the failed case and said he agreed with Mr Martin’s comments.

“Despite all the criticism of and cynicism about politics, at least there is political answerability [sic] in the sense that a Minister in charge of something like this would face instant dismissal,” he told the Dáil.

“I agree with Deputy Martin. The taxpayer takes up all the costs involved. The judge did point out that the most fundamental error was the way in which they went about taking evidence from the auditors of Anglo, who were both from the firm of accountants involved.”

He said Jobs Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor has demanded a full report from the ODCE which she will present to Cabinet on Tuesday. He said she will come before the Dáil to make a full statement on the matter.

Mr Kenny also suggested the Government is willing to accept a proposal from Social Democrats leader Catherine Murphy to establish a statutory body in the Dáil to deal with white-collar crime.

The matter is due to be raised at Cabinet by the Taoiseach next Tuesday.

Mr Martin said the “dogs in the street knew about the impending disaster” in terms of the case, referring to previously collapsed trials involving Mr FitzPatrick.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams sought to undermine Mr Kenny’s expressions of frustration, saying resources to the ODCE have been severely cut.

“Last year, in 2016, there were 35 staff in the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement. They were assisted by five gardaí. This gives an insight into the State’s attitude towards white collar crime and corporate enforcement. Under the Taoiseach’s watch the staff of this office has been cut from 42 to 35,” he said.

“This lack of resources was highlighted by a senior barrister in 2014 who said “it is enough to make the tin-pot dictator of a banana republic blush”. That was not a Shinner but an expert in white-collar crime and a senior barrister.”

Labour leader Brendan Howlin expressed his outrage at what he called the “manifest incompetence of the ODCE”. He said those failures “beggars belief”.

Mr Howlin said he never received any request to increase the funding of the ODCE during his time as public expenditure minister.

Fine Gael leadership contender Simon Coveney said the collapsed trial of the former banker will “anger” and frustrate the public and that the corporate watchdog made a “mess” of the case.

Editorial: 12

Analysis: 13

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Labour wants all companies to publish employee salary rates

2017-05-25

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said it would be welcomed if all companies published what they paid their staff in wages.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said it would be welcomed if all companies published what they paid their staff in wages.

Mr Howlin was speaking at the launch of a Labour bill aimed at delivering wage equality between men and women.

But when asked, he said it would be beneficial if all companies, public and private sector, published figures, saying people should have nothing to hide.

“Yes, it should all be known. It would be useful if they did. In the UK, we have seen a shareholder revolt demanding transparency in relation to executive pay. I don’t think has anything to be afraid of. If people are paid extraordinary high salaries there should be a reasoned argument as to why they were,” Mr Howlin said.

The proposed bill aims to close the earnings gap between men and women in Ireland was debated in the Seanad last night and is not being opposed by the Government.

Under the terms of the Gender Pay Gap Information Bill 2017, medium to large-sized companies would be required to regularly publish wage transparency surveys that would highlight any difference in pay between their male and female workers.

Mr Howlin added: “Equality and fairness have always been at the core of the Labour Party ethos, and while Ireland has come a long way on this front, women are still on an unequal footing in the workplace.”

He said that by requiring companies of 50 or more staff to regularly report on their pay scales, Labour’s Bill, which is based on legislation in other EU countries, will help to drive down any gender-based wage discrepancies. It’s not enough to simply hope that organisations will volunteer this information, Mr Howlin said.

At present rates, it would take up to 170 years before the gender pay gap is fully closed, he said.

“We in Labour believe that Irish women, and Irish society, cannot afford to wait that long, and we call on the Government to support this important and progressive legislation,” said Mr Howlin.

Senator Ivana Bacik told reporters: “Women here currently earn around 13.9% less than men –that figure equates to women in full-time employment working for free in Ireland for about one month of every year.”

“We passed equal pay legislation in Ireland more than 40 years ago, in 1974, and yet women have still not achieved anything close to pay parity with our male colleagues,” she added.

“Despite positive moves towards greater gender equality generally, the rate of change in pay levels has become stagnant — over the past 11 years, the gender pay gap has narrowed by only four percentage points.”

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Files claim Garda college link to offshore accounts

2017-05-25

Records set to be revealed today will claim the Garda college in Templemore may be linked to offshore bank accounts and bonuses connected to the laundry account at the facility.

Records set to be revealed today will claim the Garda college in Templemore may be linked to offshore bank accounts and bonuses connected to the laundry account at the facility.

The files are due to be examined at a detailed private meeting of the Dail’s cross-party public accounts committee this morning. The documents allege that the scandal hit garda college may be linked to offshore bank accounts in the college’s name.

In over 400 pages of documents sent by An Garda Síochána to the PAC, it is also claimed a laundry service bank account linked to the college was used in part to pay for bonuses, staff loans and funding entertainment and sport expenses.

The Garda college has been engulfed in scandal since March when a highly controversial audit revealed it had been renting out land it did not own and was running 50 previously unknown bank accounts.

The controversy has led to calls for both Garda commissioner and Justice Minister to resign.

The files given to the PAC last night include internal letters from the Garda audit team saying there have been internal allegations that the depth of the problems at Templemore would lead to people being taken away in handcuffs.

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Sexual assault accused uncle ‘suffers erectile dysfunction’

2017-05-25

The man accused of having a sexual relationship with his 12-year-old niece said that not alone did he not do it but he could not have done so as he suffered from erectile dysfunction.

The man accused of having a sexual relationship with his 12-year-old niece said that not alone did he not do it but he could not have done so as he suffered from erectile dysfunction.

While he did not give direct evidence, he said through Elizabeth O’Connell, defending, that his wife made up the story after a row.

The defendant pleaded not guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to 15 separate counts — eight for defilement and seven for sexual assault in the latter half of 2011.

He said he had erectile dysfunction since 2009, not alleviated by Viagra. He said that not alone did he not do what was complained of but he said he could not have done it, Ms O’Connell said in her closing speech to the jury yesterday.

His wife testified he had been able to have sex with her in the months before the alleged incidents complained of by his niece.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin reminded the jury of this evidence.

Ms O’Connell said each leg of the stool of the prosecution case was unreliable and could not be used as the basis for a conviction.

The complainant, who is now 18 years old testified earlier that her uncle had sexual intercourse with her every day or every second day for a couple of months.

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‘No one sober’ on night of alleged sexual assault

2017-05-25

No one was sober on the night of an alleged sexual assault by a 53-year-old man on another male, aged 44, a female witness, one of the three people in the bed, told the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee yesterday.

No one was sober on the night of an alleged sexual assault by a 53-year-old man on another male, aged 44, a female witness, one of the three people in the bed, told the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee yesterday.

The man denies the assault at a house in Killarney, Co Kerry, on May 31, 2015 .

The woman said when they returned to the house for a fry-up and nightcap, the accused placed his hand up the jumper of the complainant who asked him to stop, “please”. He did it a second time and again was asked to stop and when he did not, the complainant moved seats, she told Tom Rice, prosecuting.

There was only one spare bed in the house. She was under the duvet, with all her clothes except her shoes on; the complainant was over the duvet with his clothes on, and at some stage, she “vaguely remembered her sister coming to the room to say the accused was in the bed too.

“My next recollection is the sound of a belt being opened and I remember [the complainant] saying “will you stop... will you leave me alone. Will you eff off…!” the woman said.

“And I turned around and said what are you talking about? And [the complainant] said “who’s that?” And I said it’s me!” The complainant then said “Who the fuck is behind me and he jumped out of bed”, she continued. When she looked over she could see the accused’s “naked” buttock.

“I saw his bum. I could see that,” she insisted under cross-examination by Mark Nicholas, defending. She knew both men a long time — what had occurred was out of character for the accused, she agreed. She said “there was none of us sober... when you have drink taken, you are not sober.”

The man was arrested and interviewed by appointment, accompanied by his solicitor on June 16 at Killarney Garda Station. The transcript was read by Mr Rice. The accused said he did go to the bed where two people were already asleep and he got in around the side of the bed. But “he did not do any of the other stuff.” He also said he removed his top but kept his jeans on. He had not been drinking since the previous December and had gone on a “big bender” on the night. He had had 12 pints between 9pm and midnight, and was buying two pints for himself every time he went to the bar. He had two glasses of rosé in the house; and was on various medications also. He admitted he was intoxicated — but he did not sexually assault the other man.

He had no previous convictions.

In his closing argument, Mr Nicholas said “this is a curious type of case”. While still under the umbrella of sexual assault, he said this involved “a group of friends who got on well, “drank a lot”, and “crashed out in the house on the night in question”.

The trial, presided over by Judge John Hannan, is expected to conclude today.

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Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary backs ‘more risky’ Leo Varadkar

2017-05-25

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said he’s strongly backing Leo Varadkar and not fellow Corkman Simon Coveney to become the new Fine Gael leader because he believes that the country needs a fresh change.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said he’s strongly backing Leo Varadkar and not fellow Corkman Simon Coveney to become the new Fine Gael leader because he believes that the country needs a fresh change.

Saying he was expressing a personal preference and not talking on behalf of “non-political” Ryanair, Mr O’Leary said Mr Coveney represented something “of the old guard Blueshirts”.

“My personal opinion as someone who was born in Cork and went to Clongowes, I would strongly favour Leo Varadkar for leader of Fine Gael,” he told reporters.

“Simon Coveney is an excellent candidate given that he was born in Cork and went to Clongowes” but Mr Varadkar had nonetheless achieved more in his political career, he claimed.

“Leo Varadkar has accomplished more in his ministerial portfolios. He was in transport, health and currently social welfare which is a little bit more challenging than Simon’s portfolios, which were marine, defence God help us, and agriculture.”

The Ryanair boss said the way Mr Varadkar had organised his campaign from the start was “very impressive” because both contenders had 12 months’ notice of the leadership campaign. Mr Varadkar’s bid for the Fine Gael leadership appears to have it “sown up almost straight out of the blocks and seems to have left Simon standing somewhat”.

“I think that, you know, the country needs change and I think Leo Varadkar represents probably [a] slightly more risky candidate but more of a change from what has come before.

“Simon is probably a little bit more of the same, of the old guard Blueshirts.”

Predicting an election in the next two months, Mr O’Leary said Mr Varadkar “will do better against Micheál Martin than maybe Simon would”. A Cork-only fight for taoiseach featuring “Simon and Micheál” would be something of a local contest.

“At least with Leo you are getting a kind of Dublin v Cork. And as you have seen in football in recent years Dublin tends to do better than Cork, much to my shame and horror.

“So, I would strongly endorse Leo Varadkar,” he said, adding that in Ryanair’s dealings with Mr Varadkar as transport minister he had fought hard to scrap the travel tax three years ago despite facing opposition from civil servants.

“Ryanair is non-political and doesn’t express political opinion.”

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Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney go head to head in first hustings

2017-05-25

The race to be the next taoiseach will heat up this evening as rivals Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney go head-to-head in the first of four nights of hustings for the Fine Gael leadership contest.

The race to be the next taoiseach will heat up this evening as rivals Leo Varadkar and Simon Coveney go head-to-head in the first of four nights of hustings for the Fine Gael leadership contest.

Dragons’ Den star Gavin Duffy will oversee proceedings and put questions to the two ministers in front of an audience made up of members, councillors, the general public and media.

While the four debates in Dublin, Carlow, Galway and Cork, will not be televised, they will be streamed live on Fine Gael’s Facebook page.

Party members have also been asked if they would like to submit questions for the two contenders to answer and there will also be a question and answer session from the floor after both have debated topics.

Dragons’ Den judge Gavin Duffy explained: “These events are traditional-style political hustings where each candidate is afforded sufficient and equal time to detail their qualifications, experience and ambitions for the party and the country.

“I want to commend Fine Gael for the open and transparent manner in which the election of the leader is being conducted.”

Votes for the contest are weighted in accordance with the Fine Gael electoral college rules, with the 73 members of the Parliamentary Party (PP) accounting for 65%, almost 21,000 party members accounting for 25%, and 235 local representatives (232 councillors and three Údarás na Gaeltachta members) accounting for the remaining 10% of the vote.

Following an introduction by Mr Duffy and the chairman of the hustings, Simon Coveney and Leo Varadkar will deliver a 10-minute opening speech each. They will alternate the order in which they speak over the course of the four hustings.

A question and answer session will then be convened by Mr Duffy after each speech, followed by an open forum to allow for questions from Fine Gael members.

Queries for the four debates can be submitted through Fine Gael and question cards at the venues on the night.

Voting will start at 28 stations around the country on Monday through to Thursday next week before the final parliamentary party vote on Friday when the winner will be declared.

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Wife of Rescue 116 pilot Mark Duffy issues public thank you for help

2017-05-25

The wife of one of the pilots killed in the Rescue 116 helicopter crash off the coast of Co Mayo last March has issued an open letter thanking the public for their support.

The wife of one of the pilots killed in the Rescue 116 helicopter crash off the coast of Co Mayo last March has issued an open letter thanking the public for their support.

Dundalk native Captain Mark Duffy was one of the four crew members who died when the Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 116 crashed into Blackrock Island, off the Mayo coast.

Captain Duffy’s remains were recovered from the sea, as was the body of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, while the bodies of crewmen Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith have yet to be found.

In an open letter to the public, Captain Duffy’s wife, Hermione Duffy, expressed gratitude on behalf of herself and her two children Esmé and Fionn for the assistance and goodwill shown by the public since the crash.

“I would like to thank the people and communities of Blackrock, Dundalk, Cooley, Louth, Newry and Warrenpoint, south Armagh and Down, nationally especially Mayo and beyond, sincerely, for your kind, generous and compassionate actions since Mark’s tragic loss with the crew of Rescue 116,” Ms Duffy wrote.

“To the families of Esmé and Fionn’s many friends thank you for helping your children be their friends during this time. Thank you especially to the vice-principal and staff of St Vincent’s Secondary School, Dundalk and the teaching staff of St Francis National School, Blackrock; the gardaí of Blackrock and Dundalk. The Clogherhead Coastguard unit who kept watch over us while the search to bring Mark home continued.

“Blackrock Tidy Towns and all the business owners in the village and Dundalk, thank you. From the vigil in those first days to closing your shops during Mark’s funeral.

“Thank you to the local businesses who supplied food to us and the Irish Coastguard crew daily.

“On behalf of Mark’s mother Sheila, and brothers Gavan and Donard, along with Mark’s uncle Fr Stephen Duffy they extend their gratitude to you all.

“We are grateful for the kindness, gentleness and compassion shown to us by Fr Padraig Keenan, PP, and Father Brian White, CC, Blackrock. We chose to live in Blackrock to be beside the sea, close to Mark’s work, near great schools and we live in this community which has given us immeasurable support and kindness which is greatly helping us in adjusting to our life now without Mark.

“The respect we have been shown gives us great pride to know the esteem Mark was held in by you all. To everyone, friends and others who offered their sympathies, personally and with cards, thank you for your support, gifts, flowers and help.

“To all the emergency services staff of the Irish Coastguard and the volunteers of the RNLI, your unique selflessness has been high-lighted nationally by this tragedy may you always be acknowledged for your wonderful work.

“To the co-ordinators, crews and divers of the search and the volunteers who supported them in Blacksod, Belmullet and beyond, who still search for Ciaran and Paul, thank you seems inadequate for all that you did and continue to do.

“Thank you.”

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Pensions on table during public pay discussions

2017-05-25

The thorny issues of pension contributions and restoration of pre-financial crisis hours formed the basis of the latest installment of talks between the Government and unions on a new public service pay deal.

The thorny issues of pension contributions and restoration of pre-financial crisis hours formed the basis of the latest installment of talks between the Government and unions on a new public service pay deal.

The Government wants an increased contribution to their pensions from public servants to coincide with the unwinding of the pension levy.

No details were given by the Government in the latest discussion on how much of a contribution it will seek.

However, the pension levy is worth €720m to the exchequer and when talks intensify in the coming days, it is expected that the Government will look to continue to take in as much of that total as possible, while the unions will want to restrict contributions.

The Workplace Relations Commission, which is mediating the talks, has told the sides there are a number of complex issues around pensions which will need to be the subject of intense discussions.

The sides also discussed working hours yesterday, with the Government telling unions the additional hours which public servants have been working since the recession are worth €583m — rising to more than €620m when future employees are taken into account.

The Government has previously indicated that the retention of those hours is a red-line issue.

Sources have indicated that, while the restoration of hours is important to public sector workers, the best the unions can hope for on behalf of their members is a deal which would see workers able to choose to take reduced working hours in lieu of wage increases as part of the deal.

The trade unions which form the Public Services Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions will not be involved in the discussions today.

Instead the Government will meet with Garda representatives and the Alliance of Retired Public Servants. The latter is looking for pension restoration for 140,000 retired public servants. At this stage restoration is due to take place in 2021, but the alliance wants that brought significantly forward. It also wants the Government to address the situation whereby pensioners on low pensions — €12,000 or less — have not had an increase since 2007.

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Irish shoppers choose homegrown brands

2017-05-25

Irish shoppers are choosing to buy homegrown brands despite the continued rise of own-label products.

Irish shoppers are choosing to buy homegrown brands despite the continued rise of own-label products.

The top four brands in the country are Avonmore in number one position, Brennans in second, Denny in third, and Jacob’s in fourth.

This is according to the fifth annual fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) report by Kantar Worldpanel, which is a global expert in shoppers’ behaviour.

Its report measured which brands are being bought by the most consumers the most often.

In the number one slot for Ireland’s most popular food brand, Avonmore is purchased by 73.4% of Irish shoppers 28.8 times a year. This is the fifth year in a row Avonmore has held this position.

In second position, Brennans is chosen by 75.6% of Irish shoppers 27.5 times per year.

In third place, Denny is bought by 70.8% of us on average 16.3 times throughout the year.

Both Brennans and Denny remain in the same ranking as last year.

However, Jacob’s, which came in at fourth position climbed one rank, with 82.7% of Irish shoppers purchasing their products 12.9 times a year.

These rankings come during a period of challenge for brands, as consumers are choosing own-label products more and more.

There has been a growth rate of more than 6% for people buying own-brand goods, while there has been a decline in shoppers purchasing branded products.

David Berry, director of Kantar Worldpanel in Ireland, said retailers have responded to these changes by improving their own-brand goods.

“Brands across all sectors are finding the Irish retail landscape more challenging. Traditional retailers have responded to a more competitive marketplace by expanding and improving their own-label lines — and brands and manufacturers are feeling the impact,” said Mr Berry.

“While own-label is growing by almost 6.2%, the proportion of the population buying the top 10 branded products is down by an average 2.8%.”

Mr Berry said customer behaviour is changing rapidly and brands need to respond to their changing needs.

“Consumer behaviour is changing at a rapid pace. To keep up, brands and manufacturers will need to recognise consumer needs which aren’t being met or demographic group which are underperforming and come up with innovative new products and experiences that can successfully tap into these markets,” he said.

This year’s biggest success story in terms of ranking was fish specialist John West. It rose 16 places to 37th position in the overall Irish ranking.

It achieved the highest penetration (number of people purchasing their goods) increase of any brand in the top 50.

The brand’s success was driven by customers responding to new products such as its steam pots range, which aims to meet the growing demand for convenient food options.

Food 10 food brands

  • Avonmore
  • Brennans
  • Denny
  • Jacob’s
  • Knorr
  • Muller
  • Heinz
  • Coca-Cola
  • Tayto
  • Birds Eye
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Arrests after €1m cyber scam is foiled

2017-05-25

Gardaí are set to recommend charges are brought against two men in relation to a sophisticated cyber attack involving the attempted theft of more than €1m.Gardaí are set to recommend charges are brought against two men in relation to a sophisticated cyber attack involving the attempted theft of more than €1m.The scam operated across Europe and involved the cyber criminals redirecting a payment from a Danish company to a Romanian firm into a bogus account in Ireland. Two African men, living here, were arrested this week by specialist gardaí from the Economic Crime Bureau (ECB), following a surveillance operation. ECB detectives managed to recover more than €900,000, thought to represent a majority of the stolen funds. Members of the ECB’s Money Laundering Investigation Unit (MLIU) searched the men’s house in Dublin and removed digital devices and documentation. The men, who were detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act on Monday, were released early yesterday. Garda bosses are now preparing a file for the Director of Public Prosecutions. It is expected the file will recommend charges be brought. In the scam, the cyber criminals accessed emails between the targeted companies and could see that money was owed by the Danish firm to the Romanian business. In what is known as “invoice redirection fraud”, the cyber criminals sent the Danish company an email purporting to be from the Romanian company, using an email address that differed slightly. It requested the Danish firm to send a Vat payment due to a new bank account, which the Danish firm did. In a statement, gardaí said: “It is believed that the database of the company, who were due to receive payment, had been the target of a malware attack that allowed the issuing of a request to change details of the true recipient’s banking accounts.” Money was paid from the Danish account, based in Germany, into an account in Ireland. The cyber criminals dispersed the funds both within and outside the country. The entire process was monitored by the MLIU. In a co-ordinated operation with the ECB’s Financial Intelligence Unit and a financial institution here, they managed to recover more than €900,000 of the stolen cash. Sources said that invoice redirection fraud was a very common means of targeting businesses. “Criminals go into your emails or mine, they see we are trading and that money is owed,” said one source. “They send you an email purporting to be from a client, saying ‘when you are paying, we have changed bank account’ and your accounts department notes the change and pays.” He said that once cybercriminals here had the “wherewithal” to access emails of companies, they could target companies anywhere in the world “be it New York or Taiwan”. Sources said a huge problem for the criminals, however, was cashing out the funds. Banking and Payments Federation Ireland has previously warned businesses about the scam and urged firms to check requests from clients for payments to be sent to new bank accounts. They advise accounts departments to go back to their files on the client, use a phone number and make a voice call — and not use details on the last email. For businesses that do not fall for such a scam, gardaí said they should still ask themselves had their computer system been compromised by the criminals.[...]



Petrol and diesel prices fall to their lowest this year

2017-05-25

Petrol and diesel prices are at their lowest levels this year, after falling for a second successive month.

Petrol and diesel prices are at their lowest levels this year, after falling for a second successive month.

According to the Automobile Association (AA), petrol prices fell by an average of 1.5c in the past month, while diesel prices are down by 2.5c per litre.

On average, a litre of petrol now costs 135.1c while a litre of diesel will cost 123.5c, down from April’s prices of 136.6c and 126.0 per litre respectively.

Commenting on the price falls for the last two months, the AA director of consumer affairs Conor Faughnan said they only go so far in counteracting other increases in the cost of motoring in recent months.

“Compared to this time last year, the average motorist is paying 6c more for every litre of petrol they use, with drivers of diesel-powered vehicles paying over 10c more.

“All this means that motorists are now paying just under €10 more per month for petrol than they would have 12 months ago, or forking out an additional €15 per month compared to last year’s prices if they own a diesel vehicle,” he said.

The costs of petrol and diesel are both at their lowest levels in 2017.

However, they remain a long way off the “rock bottom” prices of January 2016 when the price of diesel fell below €1 for the first time since 2009.

A service station in Ballina in Mayo hit the headlines early lst year after it dropped the price to 99c per litre for diesel. The average price for diesel at that time was 112.8c per litre while the average price for petrol had been 126.5c per litre.

In March of this year, fuel costs reached their highest level since August 2015 after six successive months of price rises.

The AA continues to monitor prices on a monthly basis.

The motoring organisation, however, has expressed concern over the tax levels imposed on fuel spend.

Mr Faughnan said the AA’s fuel prices’ survey found taxes accounts for 63.67% of the current price of a litre of petrol and 59.10% of the price of a litre of diesel.

“For many people in Ireland, driving is a necessity due to an absence of reliable public transport, particularly in rural areas, or because the nature of their employment requires that they have access to a car. These people should not be punished by way of excessive taxation because they need a car to get to commute or access reliable employment,” he said.

Mr Faughnan added that, during the recession, the tax on fuel was allowed to rise in response to the emergency situation but that, despite the upturn in the economy, motorists are still being taxed “to emergency standards”.

In line with fuel prices dropping on average nationally, the AA report noted a significant decrease in the cost of a barrel of oil, a key trend in setting fuel prices. Currently, a barrel of oil costs $53.34 down from $55.85 per barrel in April 2017.

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Father protests fatal crash inquest

2017-05-25

An inquest into the death of a man who died in a road traffic crash is set to go ahead today despite strenuous efforts by the man’s father to have it delayed because he says it was never properly investigated.An inquest into the death of a man who died in a road traffic crash is set to go ahead today despite strenuous efforts by the man’s father to have it delayed because he says it was never properly investigated.Joseph Holten, aged 27, died on March 11, 2014, after his motorcycle hit the central barrier on the South Ring Road in Cork. His father Tony claims the crash has never been properly investigated by the gardaí, and says he has not been informed as to the status of the investigation. The crash was investigated in 2014 and a motorist who was present was interviewed. A file was sent to the DPP which ruled that no prosecution should take place. After submissions from Tony Holten, who is a retired engineer, the original investigation was reviewed but it came to the same conclusion as the original investigation. Mr Holten then wrote to the Garda commissioner demanding a full reinvestigation and the case was referred back to the office of the assistant commissioner in the south region. Mr Holten says he has never been informed as to the outcome of that referral. He has detailed a number of points about the crash which he alleges were not addressed in the investigation, including: Some of the collision site measurements were not taken. The driver was not breathalysed at the scene. The road was not closed and an inadequate site map was provided to the DPP. The driver of the vehicle was not questioned at the scene but allowed to make an unchallenged statement a week later. The motorist was not questioned during the review even though the reviewer noted a sparsity of detail in the motorist’s original statement. The issue of what actually caused the collision was not properly addressed. In his letter to the Garda commissioner, Mr Holten stated that “as both the original investigation and the review thereof have failed to establish the facts of our son’s death, I am requesting you initiate a full and proper reinvestigation into the causes of the actual fatal collision. This investigation should not be predicated upon Garda and witness innuendo, hearsay, and conjecture, but based inter alia on facts.” Mr Holten contacted the coroner requesting the inquest be delayed but got a response this week that despite the points he had raised the inquest will go ahead this week as scheduled. “I’m gobsmacked at the various arms of the justice system in failing to deal properly with this,” Tony Holten told the Irish Examiner. “Through the case of my son’s death I have been in contact with the road safety body PARC, and our long-term aim to have some forum established for families who find that there has been an inadequate investigation into the death of loved ones.” A spokesman for the gardaí said that the DPP had recommended no prosecution and Mr Holten was given the outcome of the two investigations and was supplied with all material requested. Tony Holten was also critical of the delay in the enactment of the Coroner’s Bill which gives greater rights to the bereaved but which has been dormant since 2007. On Tuesday, the minister for justice Frances Fitzgerald announced that a new Coroner’s Bill, including provisions from the 2007 bill, is to be given priority status.[...]



Brian O’Driscoll and Amy Huberman lodge plans to restore home

2017-05-25

Brian O’Driscoll and Amy Huberman have received the all clear from their new next-door neighbours for the revamp of their €1.8m dream family home in south Dublin.

Brian O’Driscoll and Amy Huberman have received the all clear from their new next-door neighbours for the revamp of their €1.8m dream family home in south Dublin.

Last year, the couple, who wed July 2010, in purchased a Victorian property on the tree-lined Palmerston Road in Rathmines.

The €1.8m that the couple paid for the red-brick home — built between 1863 and 1870 — is less than half the €4.3m the previous owners paid in 2006.

In December, the couple successfully secured permission for an extension to the five-year planning permission attached to the property.

However, the pair have now hired Dublin-based Tyler Owen Architects to lodge completely new plans to restore the protected structure to a single-family residence. The application includes a new three-storey rear extension to replace the existing “non original” two- storey extension and a new single-storey side and rear extension.

The couple and their planning advisers attended a pre-planning consultation meeting with Dublin City Council planners in January.

A handwritten note by a council planner from the meeting states that the return of the building to family use is welcome by Dublin City Council “as it is currently a property which is at risk”.

A report drawn up for the couple by Hughes Planning and Development Consultants confirms that the couple’s new next-door neighbours are “on side” with the plan.

A decision is due to be made on the application in July.

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Toddler, 2, who pleaded ‘no creche, no creche’ awarded €23k

2017-05-25

A two-year-old child suffered terror on almost a daily basis for five months while in the care of a creche exposed by RTÉ on its A Breach of Trust documentary in 2013, a judge heard yesterday.

A two-year-old child suffered terror on almost a daily basis for five months while in the care of a creche exposed by RTÉ on its A Breach of Trust documentary in 2013, a judge heard yesterday.

Barrister Michael Connellan told Circuit Court president, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, in the Circuit Civil Court that when being taken to the Giraffe Childcare creche by her parents, Emilie Kiely used to plead with them: “No creche, no creche.”

Mr Connellan, who appeared with Carley and Connellan Solicitors for Emilie and her parents, John and Caroline Kiely, said Girraffe Childcare — which was responsible for the running of Belarmine Childcare in Stepaside, Enniskerry Road, Co Dublin — had offered Emilie a damages settlement of €23,000.

Counsel told Judge Groarke that Emilie, now aged six, suffered personal injury in the form of stress and emotional upset and terror over a five-month period between September 2012 and January 2013 in the toddlers’ room.

The court heard Emilie had been under the care of a certain individual who was abusive towards the children in her care.

Emilie showed signs of behavioural changes of anxiety and distress and when collected each evening was often withdrawn, red faced, tired, and would fall into a disturbed sleep.

Mr Kiely, in an affidavit to the court, said he and his wife discussed the problem with Emilie’s carer who reassured both of them she was receiving an appropriate level of care under her supervision. A month later, Emilie’s demeanour improved when she was changed to a new room.

Then in May 2013 he and his wife learned of RTÉ’s programme A Breach of Trust and viewed it in June and, while their daughter did not feature in any video footage, it showed the minder they had previously confided in behaving angrily and screaming at children.

Afterwards they made alternative arrangements for Emilie’s care and took out a claim for compensation on Emilie’s behalf.

Two years ago, Judge James O’Donoghue rejected a settlement offer of €15,000 from Giraffe Childcare.

The court heard Emilie first attended the creche at the age of eight months and was all right for the first 13 months. It was in September 2012 when she was transferred to the toddlers’ room that her personality changed after having been introduced to a harsh childcare regime for five months.

Judge Groarke, who was assured there was no serious risk to Emilie’s future psychological development, approved the €23,000 offer.

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Nurses want concern over Limerick A&E addressed

2017-05-25

Nurses have expressed serious patient safety concerns ahead of next week’s move to the new emergency department at University Hospital Limerick.

Nurses have expressed serious patient safety concerns ahead of next week’s move to the new emergency department at University Hospital Limerick.

Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, who work in the hospital’s old ED, are insisting that their concerns must be addressed before the planned move takes place.

The INMO wants the old ED to be turned into a separate area for patients. Management said it has not rejected any proposal on this issue from the INMO or anyone else. The organisation also expressed concern about the skill mix in the new unit, particularly the lack of staff with an ED qualification available to work in it.

There were 23 patients on trolleys in University Hospital Limerick yesterday, according to figures published by the INMO.

St Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny, had the highest number in the country, with 44. It was followed by University Hospital Galway that had 38.

The INMO counted a total of 438 admitted patients on trolleys, more than the 356 counted by the HSE.

The health authority pointed out that 179 patients were waiting more than nine hours, with 42 waiting more than 24 hours. According to the HSE, the number of patients on trolleys was up 41% on the same day last year when there were 252, with 91 waiting over nine hours.

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Caranua paid €100k to Church-funded counselling service for clerical abuse survivors

2017-05-25

Caranua paid almost €100,000 to a Catholic Church-funded counselling service to provide support to abuse survivors over the last two years.Caranua paid almost €100,000 to a Catholic Church-funded counselling service to provide support to abuse survivors over the last two years.The revelation is contained in documents sent by Caranua to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), following its appearance before the committee last month. Caranua was established by the Residential Institutions Statutory Fund Act 2012 to oversee the use of cash contributions of up to €110m, pledged by the religious congregations, to support the needs of survivors of institutional child abuse. In the documents, Caranua outline details of €94,648 it paid to the Towards Healing counselling service in respect of 59 individuals in 2015 and 2016. The bulk of this, €87,263, was paid in 2015, with the remainder paid the following year. Towards Healing provides a face-to-face and telephone counselling service to people who experienced abuse in institutions managed by religious congregations on behalf of the State, clerical sexual abuse, and to others impacted by such abuse. According to its website, it is funded by way of a €3m budget every year, which comes exclusively from the Catholic Church. In its submission to the PAC, Caranua said it initially advises anyone seeking support to avail of counselling, free of charge from Immigrant Counselling and Psychotherapy (ICAP), National Counselling Service, and Connect, which are all funded by the State, and Towards Healing. It also said it outlines the services, their origins, and the sources of funding to survivors. However, unlike other counselling services, Towards Healing introduced a cap of 80 on the number of free sessions that an individual could avail of. It then approached Caranua to enter into an arrangement whereby a person who had reached this cap and required further treatment, could apply to Caranua for support. Caranua said the concern that the cap was introduced in order to avail of funding from the abuse fund was discussed by the board. “This matter was considered by the board over a number of meetings during 2014 and a number of meetings were also held between the chair and CEO of both Towards Healing and Caranua (19th March, 5th June, and 15th July). “The concern that the cap had been introduced in order to avail of funding through Caranua and that this payment from Caranua for services to Towards Healing would, in effect, be a subsidy from one fund supported by Catholic bodies to another, was raised and considered by the board. A decision, in principle, to enter into an agreement with Towards Healing was made by the board at its meeting on 19 June,” Caranua wrote to the PAC. Caranua told PAC the board was of the opinion that the agreement would help ensure the continuation of services to those who had been clinically assessed as needing those services, while at the same time removing the necessity for individual applicants to provide Caranua with quotes and receipts. Last week, the Irish Examiner revealed that concerns about an increasing “level of aggression” aimed at Caranua CEO Mary Higgins by abuse survivors at public meetings were raised by board members last year. The revelation is contained in minutes of a board meeting at the River Lee Hotel in Cork in April of last year.[...]