Subscribe: IrishExaminer.com
http://www.irishexaminer.com/rss/irishexaminer_top_rss.aspx
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade A rated
Language: English
Tags:
child  children  cork  crime  euro  fine gael  government  ireland  kenny  ldquo  man  people  rdquo  time  victims  year 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: IrishExaminer.com

Irishexaminer.com



Join us for a refreshing take on the latest news and views from Ireland and around the world



Updated: 2017-02-22T11:35:35+00:00

 



Rental market watchdog sees spike in landlords wrongly driving up rents

2017-02-22

The country’s rental market watchdog has seen a spike in cases of landlords wrongly trying to drive through rent hikes in anticipation of capped rates rolling out in areas under new government measures.

The country’s rental market watchdog has seen a spike in cases of landlords wrongly trying to drive through rent hikes in anticipation of capped rates rolling out in areas under new government measures.

Details from the Residential Tenancies Board were released as one Government TD warned that some tenants had months of “hell” to live through as they “lived in fear” of rent hikes being imposed.

Fine Gael’s Fergus O’Dowd was questioning why areas in Louth, such as Drogheda and Dundalk, had not been included in recent rent pressure zones (RPZs) — despite rents there spiralling in recent months.

The Louth TD said he remains “unconvinced” about statistics that contributed to a decision not to designate the county or its towns as RPZs.

A document given by Louth County Council to the Housing Agency showed that rents are “not sustainable or affordable”, said Mr O’Dowd, noting that rent for a two-bed in the county is €1,000.

Average rents in recent months are above the national average, he added, therefore the county should have qualified for RPZs alongside areas in Dublin and Cor, said Mr O’Dowd.

Housing assistance payments are also higher in the areas and this is another reason the 4% rent cap under RPZs should be adopted there, the TD argued.

(image)
Fergus O’Dowd

Fianna Fáil TD Martin Casey raised concerns about Greystones in Wicklow not being designated a zone, noting that the cheapest two-bed accommodation available is for €1,500 a month.

Blessington and Kilcoole in the Wicklow constituency equally need to be designated zones, said Mr Casey.

AAA-PBP TD Ruth Coppinger claimed that rents have gone up by 50% since Fine Gael entered government in 2011. One in three tenants in general are now struggling to pay rents, she said.

Ms Coppinger questioned why the Government is waiting for all towns and areas to reach “crisis levels” of rent rates being demanded in Dublin. She also questioned if landlords are in fact complying with the new 4% rent cap rules imposed.

Committee chairwoman Marie Bailey noted how, under the new RPZ system, 55% of tenancies, or 178,000 tenants, would see rent caps introduced, after the current freeze period for rates ends.

However Residential Tenancies Board director Rosalind Carroll told the committee that since rent caps started to be implemented in December, there has been a huge rise in complaints to the board.

(image)

These pertained to rent hikes being wrongly imposed on people, the committee heard, within the current 24-month rate freeze ahead of the new caps coming in.

There has been a 135% increase in contacts to the board over rent problems since December, the committee heard.

The board had found that the majority of these attempts to increase rent had been declared invalid.

Mr O’Dowd said that his constituents in Louth are living in “hell” and in fear of rent hikes for several months before the next review of potential RPZs takes place.

(image)



Man burned out car and garden shed ‘to get a buzz’

2017-02-22

A pyromaniac caught setting fire to properties in Douglas, Rochestown, and Bishopstown in Cork City has been jailed for six years.

A pyromaniac caught setting fire to properties in Douglas, Rochestown, and Bishopstown in Cork City has been jailed for six years.

Labelling Paul O’Donovan a high risk to the community, Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin was critical of psychiatric services for not admitting him to a psychiatric ward. “I would have to ask, who is running the asylum?” the judge asked.

O’Donovan of 33 Woodview, Pinecroft, Grange, Cork, admitted arson at Melbourne Court, Bishopstown, Cork, and related offences on July 10, 2016. He carried out similar offences around the same time in Douglas and Rochestown.

The court heard O’Donovan left his girlfriend’s house at midnight and then set fire to a car on Model Farm Rd “to get a buzz”.

Because he did not get enough of a buzz from that he then set fire to a garden shed which was burnt out, also damaging the conservatory of a neighbouring property. His appetite still not sated, O’Donovan broke into a house and tried unsuccessfully to set fire to it.

Asked about the two women who were in the house at the time and the risk to them, O’Donovan said he did not care and that that was someone else’s problem.

Det Garda Bugler said there wasn’t a huge amount of damage in these crimes but added: “It was more the potential, it was all about the potential, of what could have happened rather than what did happen.”

The judge described this evidence as chilling.

Judge Ó Donnabháin said: “I have probation reports, I have psychiatric reports. This man has been under the care of one arm or other of the State for some time. It is not as if his proclivities are not known.

“We are a great country for providing reports but active action — that department seems to be permanently unavailable.

“O’Donovan said he was feeling very distressed, he was setting fires as a way of relieving distress. Two psychiatrists would not admit him to a psychiatric ward as he did not have a psychiatric illness and they returned him home. I would have to ask, who is running the asylum?”

Judge Ó Donnabháin said there was a serious risk to the community.

“Psychiatric services want him dealt with in the community but there is no one to care in the community,” he said. “He has had two forensic assessments — generating reports, wonderful; effective plan, zero.”

Gareth Fleming, defence barrister, said that the accused did not seek out victims, he lit fires without intending to harm anyone in particular and he co-operated with the investigations.

As well as the six years imposed for arson, the suspension of a two-year sentence was revoked. That related to a case where he put a knife to a shopkeeper’s chest and said he intended to use it until the victim produced a toy gun and O’Donovan ran from the scene.

(image)



Desmond Connell was ill-suited to deal with avalanche of child abuse

2017-02-22

When Pope John Paul II elevated Desmond Connell to the archdiocese of Dublin in January 1988, he was far from being the first choice.When Pope John Paul II elevated Desmond Connell to the archdiocese of Dublin in January 1988, he was far from being the first choice.In fact, it took nine months between the death in April 1987 of his predecessor, Archbishop Kevin McNamara, and his appointment. During that time, at least four others were considered before Dr Connell got the nod. His appointment would not have been possible without the all-important approval of the then papal nuncio, Dr Gaetano Alibrandi, the most powerful figure in the Catholic Church in Ireland since the dreaded Archbishop John Charles McQuaid, who had ordained Dr Connell in 1951. Dr Alibrandi didn’t want an archbishop who was too liberal, too well liked by diocesan priests, or overly friendly with parishioners. Dr Connell ticked all those boxes. Relatively unknown, he had served as professor of general metaphysics at UCD and in 1983 became the dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and Sociology at the university. What finally swung the deal in his favour for Dr Alibrandi was Dr Connell’s extreme conservatism, taking orthodox stances on divorce, homosexuality, women priests, birth control, reproductive technology, and abortion. Desmond Connell celebrates Mass on April 7, 2002 Born on March 24, 1926 in Phibsboro, Dublin, he received a Jesuit education at Belvedere College, was ordained for the archdiocese of Dublin on May 19, 1951, and held a doctorate in philosophy from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. He was appointed archbishop of Dublin in 1988 and created Cardinal by Pope John Paul II at the Consistory in Rome on February 21, 2001. Shortly after becoming archbishop, he surprised many by speaking out on social issues, expressing concern for Travellers, the unemployed, and refugees and asylum seekers. He established the Parish of the Travelling People in order to respond to the pastoral needs of that community. Sympathy for the disadvantaged was a central theme of his early years as archbishop but he failed to bring that sense of social engagement to bear when he later met with the victims of paedophile priests. Unlike his boss, Pope John Paul II, Dr Connell was not possessed of an easy charm, nor did he have any pastoral experience, save for six months as a chaplain to the Mater Hospital in the 1950s. He exhibited few diplomatic skills either, as evidenced by his public rebuke of president Mary McAleese for taking communion at Christ Church Cathedral and his insulting description of his Church of Ireland counterpart, Archbishop Walton Empey, as not one of that faith’s “high flyers”. He was particularly ill-suited to deal with an avalanche of child abuse when it came his way. Even before his appointment, the extent of clerical abuse was beginning to emerge to the extent that in 1986 Catholic dioceses around the country began to take out insurance to cover them against responsibility. In 1994, the full horror began to emerge when Fr Brendan Smyth was sentenced to four years in prison for abuse of children in the North. Archbishop Connell’s inability to confront the full extent of the scandal emerged the following year when Andrew Madden became the first victim of clerical child sex abuse to go public, saying that he had received a compensation payment in respect of his abuse as a child. Archbishop of Dublin Desmond Connell with President Mary McAleese and Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin Walton Empey in 2000, both of whom he criticised. Picture: Marc O’Sullivan In response, Dr Connell said that the archdiocese had never paid compensation to any victim of clerical child abuse, explaining that the money was a “loan” from the archdiocese to his abuser, Ivan Payne. But not even his fellow bishops were convinced. The most devastating critique of Dr Connell’s failings emerged on RTÉ in October 2002, when Prime Time broadcast [...]



Locals plan tribute to late homeless busker

2017-02-22

A homeless man has died in Tullamore, and locals in the Co Offaly town are planning to play tribute to him at an event tonight.

A homeless man has died in Tullamore, and locals in the Co Offaly town are planning to play tribute to him at an event tonight.

Conor O’Hagan, 25, had been living in the town for around five months and regularly busked with his guitar on its streets.

Ken Smollen, leader of the Irish Democratic Party who is also involved in a local Food Appeal, wrote on his Facebook page that Mr O’Hagan had been hospitalised recently “due to the effects of sleeping outdoors”.

He later told local media that he had spoken with Mr O’Hagan once, to give him a sleeping bag and some food.

Local sources told the Irish Examiner that Mr O’Hagan had been homeless and that this included sleeping rough. It is also understood that he had slept in the station in the town on a few occasions.

Efforts were also made to try to access services for him. The cause of his death is not known.

Yesterday, local people who had got to know Mr O’Hagan said they would stage a commemorative gig in the town.

One local, writing on Facebook, stated: “As you may know, Conor who has called Tullamore his home for the past few months, has sadly passed away.

“As a busker, he was well known playing his guitar beside Boots. Please join us this Wednesday at O’Connor Square in a farewell tribute to him.”

A number of local musicians are involved in the initiative. It’s understood some of those involved were also performing in memory of Mr O’Hagan at a bar in the town last night.

One local said yesterday that the 25-year-old was “a gentle soul” and a “free spirit” who also had a heart condition. It is understood he had been in a serious condition in Tullamore General Hospital recently and that he had been supported during his illness by his father.

It is understood that Mr O’Hagan had attended Clonakilty Community College in Co Cork. However, it is believed much of his family now live in Manchester in England and that he also has relatives living in the North.

Some of his family were due in Tullamore last night to attend the weekly ‘Acoustic Tuesdays’ event in Joe Lee’s pub, at which he had previously performed.

(image)



Council risks EU fines for not building 'fish path' to aid migrating salmon at River Blackwater

2017-02-22

Hefty EU fines could be imposed on Cork County Council which hasn’t the money to build a ‘fish path’ for migrating salmon.

Hefty EU fines could be imposed on Cork County Council which hasn’t the money to build a ‘fish path’ for migrating salmon.

A hands-on approach to dealing with migrating salmon may be needed again this year it is feared. The salmon need help getting over a weir because the fish path has been destroyed.

It’s estimated it will cost in the region of €2m to purchase land and build a new fish path at the River Blackwater weir in Fermoy town.

The council is writing to the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources seeking the €2m needed.

It also has to cap the weir and put in protective boulders to prevent it from again being damaged by trees which were swept downriver in previous floods. The council has enough money to do that, but not buy land and install the fish path.

The issue was raised at a meeting of the council’s Northern Division in Mallow by Fermoy-based Cllr Noel McCarthy. He said last October people, waded into the river to physically pick up salmon and take them to the upstream side of the weir.

Cllr McCarthy said it was believed that fish which weren’t picked up died: “I’ve met several people who are very concerned that this will happen again this year. We need to speed up the process and make sure there are no more delays in getting this work done. It’s totally unacceptable.”

(image)
Cllr Noel McCarthy

“We were told at one stage that we could face fines from the EU if this work isn’t done. We were also told originally that Lagan (contractors) would do the work as part the flood relief scheme,” said Cllr Frank O’Flynn who added that he knows a landowner who is anxious to sell the land needed for the fish path.

Council officials said they are in negotiation with a landowner and their legal department is progressing the transfer. However, they admit that they don’t have the money to pay for this part of the project and are in behind the scenes negotiations with the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

“The structure of the weir is compromised. Capping must be done and their funding in place for that. This work could be progressed in the coming year,” one council official said. It had been hoped that capping would be undertaken in conjunction with the building of the fish path.

But assistant county manager James Fogarty said this couldn’t happen.

Councillors then agreed to write to the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources asking it to immediately release the €2m for the project.

(image)



Parents fret their kids will be poorer and have more financial stress

2017-02-22

Most Irish parents believe their children will be poorer as adults and suffer more financial stress than they did, a new study shows.

Most Irish parents believe their children will be poorer as adults and suffer more financial stress than they did, a new study shows.

A campaign by Irish Life reveals growing concern amongst parents for the financial legacy they will leave to their children.

The research, conducted on behalf of the insurance company by RED C, shows that two thirds of parents believe that, despite having lived through a recession themselves, their children will face even more financial difficulties than they have.

An even larger majority (71%) of parents surveyed confirmed they are concerned their children will struggle financially as adults.

The research also shows that parents are starting to take steps to future-proof their children’s finances. Almost three quarters (73%) say they save for their children’s financial security while 60% have opened a savings account and 10% have put money aside for a wedding or house deposit for their offspring.

Irish parents are also educating their children in financial matters, with 69% showing them shopping bills to teach them about budgeting, and 59% encouraging them to budget their pocket money throughout the week.

When it comes to parents’ priorities for their children’s happiness, the research reveals that the most important things are completing their education, followed by financial security.

However, their children’s personal happiness trumps home ownership aspirations, according to the research — almost half (45%) say it is very important to them that their children find their soulmate and 38% say having a family of their own. This compares to just one in three (34%) saying home ownership is very important.

The survey is part of a campaign by Irish Life, which is owned by Canadian multinational Great-West Lifeco, to encourage parents to take out life assurance.

(image)



Travel chaos looms as bus talks fail - Open-ended strike by Bus Éireann workers ‘imminent’

2017-02-22

Commuters face travel chaos and an all-out bus strike after talks between Bus Éireann and unions collapsed.Commuters face travel chaos and an all-out bus strike after talks between Bus Éireann and unions collapsed.It comes amid warnings that the bus firm could be broke by May if it does not take emergency action, including €12m of pay cuts. Pensioners, third-level students, and commuters who travel to work by bus are set to be left high and dry as an open-ended strike by Bus Éireann workers now appears imminent. Unions said they will have no choice but to bring the country’s bus service to an indefinite halt if management implements a number of cost-saving measures which they had announced earlier this year, but had suspended pending the talks. Both sides blamed each-other after discussions at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) broke down during their third day. There are now fears that industrial action could spread to other sectors within the CIÉ group, including Irish Rail and Dublin Bus. Bus Éireann said it could be insolvent by May if it does not shave around €12m off the pay bill and needs to save around €30m in total. The company entered talks with a document containing a list of cost-cutting proposals and claimed there is significant scope for savings in overtime, rotas, spare driver arrangements, hiring buses, sick pay, bonuses, expenses, and flexibility. However, unions representing bus workers claimed they would not entertain any of the suggested cuts and were only willing to engage on the area of ‘efficiencies’. Leaving talks, acting Bus Éireann CEO Ray Hernan said immediate savings are needed to stop the company going bust in the coming months with the loss of around 2,600 jobs. Three routes — X7 Dublin- Clonmel; 021 Athlone-Westport and 833 Dublin-Derry — are to be axed as part of emergency measures which would achieve savings of €1.1m. Other routes could see frequency of services stripped back and the company has said all routes would be kept under review, especially the loss-making Expressway. It has been indicated that strike action could cost around €500,000 a day which would only exacerbate the financial crisis at the bus company. Mr Hernan said: “What we need is immediate savings and we have already identified savings that will be achieved through the closure of a number of routes. We have also identified a reasonable number of non-payroll savings. “However, there was going to have to be pain taken by our staff, I am sorry to be saying that but that is the inevitable situation that we were faced with.” Siptu said its members are now set for strike action after “the failure of management to present a competent and credible plan”. Siptu sector organiser Willie Noone said: “If Bus Éireann tries to force through cuts our members will have no option but to take strike action to save their jobs and protect public transport services. “It is well past the time that the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, and other shareholders sat down around the table and accepted their responsibility to avert the destruction of our public transport service.” Shane Ross This was echoed by the National Bus and Rail Union general secretary Dermot O’Leary who said the “responsibility for major disruption across the transport network resides with the absentee minister and his department”. A spokeswoman for Transport Minister Shane Ross last night said he was very disappointed that talks had been unsuccessful. She added: “The parties involved now need time to reflect. At the moment it’s between the management and unions.” Mr O’Leary said National Bus and Rail Union members had been put on notice to immediately engage in an all-out strike if the company does go ahead with pro[...]



Potential successor to Kenny fails to rule out a Fine Gael leadership contest finishing by Easter

2017-02-22

Enda Kenny could remain on as Taoiseach until mid-April after a potential successor to him failed to rule out a Fine Gael leadership contest finishing by Easter.

Enda Kenny could remain on as Taoiseach until mid-April after a potential successor to him failed to rule out a Fine Gael leadership contest finishing by Easter.

Housing Minister Simon Coveney also said he hoped no disagreements would break out in Fine Gael if Mr Kenny did not outline specifics about stepping down at a party meeting tonight.

Chances of a heave diminished after party TD Pat Deering withdrew a threat to lodge a motion of no confidence against Mr Kenny — as long as he quits after St Patrick’s Day.

The developments suggest pressure may be easing on Mr Kenny to step down in the immediate weeks ahead.

Mr Coveney, speaking yesterday in Ballymun, Dublin, said he would not favour any leadership contest beginning before St Patrick’s Day, when Mr Kenny will be in the US.

This would suggest the minister, a top contender to succeed Mr Kenny, is willing to let him stay on for a period, especially as any Fine Gael leadership process may last for weeks.

Mr Coveney said he hoped no disagreements would break out if Mr Kenny fails to give specifics about his resignation this evening at a Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting.

(image)

“I think and I hope the party will trust the Taoiseach to put in place a process that will then, presumably after St Patrick’s Day, put a process in place that can allow for an orderly and well-managed transition,” said Mr Coveney.

“Don’t forget we have to have the interests of the country first and foremost in our minds, because Fine Gael is in government, as well as the interests of the party.”

However, asked by the Irish Examiner if the leadership process was something that could run into the Easter period, Mr Coveney replied: “I don’t know, that’s an issue for the Taoiseach.”

If Mr Kenny was still Taoiseach by Easter Monday, on April 17, this would bring him within three days of claiming the title of longest serving Fine Gael Taoiseach, a distinction held by former Taoiseach John A Costello.

A busy schedule in the lead-up to Easter could also delay any formal resignation or the beginning of an election contest.

Mr Kenny’s St Patrick’s Day trip to Washington DC between March 15 and 16 will take place during a trade mission that may last over a week. He is scheduled to attend a meeting of EU leaders in Rome between March 25 and 27, followed by a meeting of the European People’s Party in Malta in late March and an EU leaders’ Brexit meeting in early April.

Meanwhile, senior ministers, including Mr Kenny’s supporters, say the Taoiseach has “gone dark” since the weekend and has told no one as to his intentions. Some have taken that silence as to mean Mr Kenny will give a definitive statement as to his likely departure date.

READ MORE: Details of ministerial St Patrick’s Day ’trade missions’ revealed

(image)



Man handed himself in to gardaí over child porn

2017-02-22

A man who downloaded images of child pornography was not detected but presented himself at his Garda station with the hard discs of two computers containing the material.

A man who downloaded images of child pornography was not detected but presented himself at his Garda station with the hard discs of two computers containing the material.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said of the accused at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, “his disclosure makes this case unusual to the point of unprecedented”.

Tim Cronin, aged 33, of 97 Main Street, Midleton, Co Cork, pleaded guilty to a charge of having 67 images of child pornography on one hard disc and 48 such images on a second hard disc.

The judge said a one-year suspended sentence was appropriate.

Another unusual feature of the case was that it dated back to October 20 2010 when the accused was living at Lakeview Midleton. That was the date on which he presented himself at Midleton Garda Station with downloaded material at a time when no one was aware he had it.

His barrister Ray Boland said Tim Cronin could have thrown the hard discs into the tide nothing would have come against him. And it took the Garda forensic analysis until now to bring this 2010 matter to court, as a result of staff shortages. Sergeant Gerard O’Shaughnessy said the accused had no previous convictions.

Mr Boland said of the defendant: “He was something of a loner. He did access this material late at night under the influence of alcohol. He would get an adrenaline kick and then wake up feeling ashamed. On foot of advice from a counsellor he went to the guards.”

Judge Ó Donnabháin said the accused had alcohol and mental health issues but had apparently stayed away from such images in the meantime and invited gardaí to inspect his computers at any time.

The judge said he was also taking into account how long it had been since the offence was committed.

(image)



Ex-boxer faces €20k bill after withdrawing injuries claim

2017-02-22

A 29-year-old former international amateur boxer and champion bare-fist fighter faces a €20,000 legal costs bill after withdrawing a Circuit Civil Court claim for personal injuries allegedly suffered in a road traffic accident.

A 29-year-old former international amateur boxer and champion bare-fist fighter faces a €20,000 legal costs bill after withdrawing a Circuit Civil Court claim for personal injuries allegedly suffered in a road traffic accident.

Martin Stokes, who has won four national gold medals as a super heavy weight, claimed damages of up to €60,000 against Robert Czarnocki after their cars collided on January 29, 2012, on Naas Rd, Dublin.

Mr Stokes, a carpenter with an address at Oldcastlepark Green, Clondalkin, Dublin, alleged that Mr Czarnocki failed to brake in time and rear-ended his car.

He claimed he suffered headaches and pain in his right shoulder and lower back and had attended the A&E Department of Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown, Dublin.

He alleged he had suffered soft-tissue injuries to his shoulder and back and had needed to have several physiotherapy sessions. He claimed that his work and social and recreational activities had been disturbed.

Mr Czarnocki, of Drogheda, Co Louth, denied liability and alleged the accident had been caused by Mr Stokes’s driving.

Mr Czarnocki claimed Mr Stokes was driving in an erratic and unpredictable manner and had stopped his car “for no good traffic management reason”. Circuit Court president Mr Justice Raymond Groarke was told by barrister Bernadette Kirby that Mr Stokes was withdrawing his claim.

Ms Kirby said the case was a personal injuries matter relating to a road traffic accident and liability was being contested. She said Mr Stokes was a man of personal limited means who would not be able to pay legal costs. She asked that no order for costs be made against him.

Barrister Michael Murray said Aviva Insurance had come to court to fully defend the case and had invested time and expense in investigating the claim. Liability was fully in issue.

Judge Groarke awarded legal costs, estimated at over €20,000, against Mr Stokes.

(image)



Man guilty of raping former partner

2017-02-22

A Cork man has been found guilty of raping his former partner two months after he sexually assaulted her and then beat her up in front of their crying toddler.

A Cork man has been found guilty of raping his former partner two months after he sexually assaulted her and then beat her up in front of their crying toddler.

The 30-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded not guilty to raping his former partner at their Cork City home on September 8, 2013.

He pleaded guilty in the Central Criminal Court to one count of sexually assaulting her by forcing her to give him oral sex and to assault causing harm at the same address on July 10, 2013.

Following a week-long trial, the jury returned a guilty verdict on the rape count after nearly four and a half hours of deliberating.

After the verdict was handed down, the jury heard the man has 16 previous convictions, including several convictions for rape, aggravated sexual assault, and sexual assault. He is currently serving a 12-year sentence.

Mr Justice Paul Coffey will sentence him for these offences on May 8.

At the start of the trial, Thomas Creed SC, prosecuting, told the jury that the couple met in 2010 and had a son together a few years later.

The woman, 26, said that, on the night of July 10, 2013, she and her partner went to bed as usual, with their 15-month-old son sleeping in the next room. She said she was drifting off when, without warning, he grabbed her by her hair and forced her head between his legs, shouting “suck my cock bitch” repeatedly.

“I was terrified,” the woman said. “I had gone from sleeping in my own bed to being completely attacked. I didn’t know what was going on.”

The man forced her to perform oral sex, before she managed to escape to the bathroom. However, after hearing her son crying, she ran into his bedroom. The man followed her in and assaulted her, hitting her head off a bed in the room while their son cried in his cot.

Afterwards, she struggled to comfort the child.

“I was so scared and so terrified. I couldn’t even sing ‘Twinkle Twinkle’ to calm him down,” she said. “I couldn’t get the words out.”

The couple broke up and on the morning of September 8, 2013, the woman and their son went to the man’s home so they could work out a maintenance and visitation agreement.

The woman told the court the boy had fallen asleep in his buggy and they were discussing the agreement when the man said: “Can we just fuck and I’ll sign whatever agreement you want?”

She became “uneasy” and said she wanted to leave, but the man told her: “You’re going to go upstairs, you’re going to strip off and we’re going to fuck.”

The woman said she begged him not to do it and asked him: “Are you actually going to rape me?”

“Some part of me thought if I said that to him, it would shock him out of doing anything,” she told the court. “But he didn’t even flinch.”

During the attack, she vomited twice, but each time the man led her back into the bedroom and continued to rape her. Afterwards, she said, he made her a cup of coffee before walking her and their child outside to meet her parents.

The man told gardaí the woman asked him to have sex with him to help her get over the July incident.

(image)



Woman wins right to enter PIA over mortgage debt

2017-02-22

A mother of two has won an appeal over a financial institution’s objection to her entering a personal insolvency arrangement to pay off a €220,000 debt on a house she and her husband bought in 2007 for €300,000.

A mother of two has won an appeal over a financial institution’s objection to her entering a personal insolvency arrangement to pay off a €220,000 debt on a house she and her husband bought in 2007 for €300,000.

The woman, who has since informally separated from her husband, engaged the services of an unaccredited insolvency agency called Money Bloom which, she said, told her in 2014 that an agreement had been reached with the lending institution to restructure her debt.

This turned out not to be the case and the founder of Money Bloom was later convicted of fraud in relation to a separate matter, the High Court heard.

The woman found out that Pepper Finance bought her loan from AIB/EBS. Pepper ultimately passed resolution of her debt back to AIB/EBS, which brought proceedings seeking repossession of her home.

Ms Justice Marie Baker said the engagement of that firm unfortunately cost the woman more money in trying to deal with her arrears. It also involved a loss of time and effort in her attempts to rationally resolve her debt.

The judge overturned a Circuit Court order from November last refusing to allow the woman enter a personal insolvency arrangement (PIA). Such arrangements were introduced under new laws between 2012 and 2015 to help debtors avoid having to file for bankruptcy.

Ms Justice Baker said that, after the woman realised no restructuring arrangement had been made by Money Bloom, she resumed monthly payments of €700 on her mortgage, less than she was supposed to pay, but relatively substantial in the context of her earnings. She also made an application for a maintenance order against her husband in relation to their children, of €120 per fortnight.

Under the proposed PIA, the existing secured debt of €322,000 would be written off to €220,000. It would be split into two parts — a live mortgage balance of €140,000 and a “warehoused” loan of €80,000. Warehousing involves that part of the debt being addressed only if circumstances improve or it could be paid off at the end of the term by a person trading down or using, for example, pension funds to pay it off.

The term of the main mortgage was also to be extended to 27 years at variable interest rates under the PIA. Her monthly payments would be €684, which would increase after six years to €1,104 when the warehoused amount would be brought into account.

The woman argued the PIA would allow her retain her family home and give a better return for creditors than would be achieved through bankruptcy.

AIB/EBS argued there were insufficient grounds to show she could meet the terms of the PIA.

Overturning the Circuit Court’s refusal to allow her enter a PIA, Ms Justice Baker said the sale of the house at current value could achieve €160,000, which would mean AIB/EBS would get 50 cent in the euro if she was bankrupted. Under a PIA, it would be 68 cent.

(image)



Long wait to replace Kenny will raise Fine Gael tensions

2017-02-22

Despite hopes tonight’s statement by Enda Kenny to Fine Gael colleagues will clarify when the race to replace him officially begins, the reality is his remarks may mark only the start of the complications.

Despite hopes tonight’s statement by Enda Kenny to Fine Gael colleagues will clarify when the race to replace him officially begins, the reality is his remarks may mark only the start of the complications.

If, as expected, Mr Kenny pointedly avoids giving a specific date and instead merely confirms he will start a transition ‘process’ on his return from the White House next month, hopes of a speedy handover will fall by the wayside.

Instead, unless a controversial motion of no confidence is put back on the table, the official commencement of the leadership race could be delayed for at least a month, with the growing possibility that Mr Kenny’s diary commitments may even drag out the firing of any starting gun until April.

This situation will mean no new leader will be in place until May, causing fresh problems for the factions within Fine Gael.

After tonight’s Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting, Mr Kenny is likely to be given until after his White House visit next month to begin his formal removal from power, partially because a motion of no confidence in him is not guaranteed to succeed.

Such a time-frame means he will be in place when British Prime Minister Theresa May triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on March 10, and will also allow him to travel to visit US president Donald Trump.

While this latter meeting will occur on St Patrick’s Day, the visit is expected to include an eight-to-10-day trade mission to US cities, meaning Mr Kenny will, realistically, not return to Ireland to begin the leadership race until the final week of March.

That is, if he returns immediately at all. Mr Kenny has previously travelled straight to EU events after White House meetings, so the commencement of a leadership race could be delayed.

EU leaders are due to hold a three-day informal meeting in Rome on the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome on March 25-27, which Mr Kenny may attend.

Similarly, straight after the Rome meeting, the European People’s Party (EPP) — the umbrella group of which Fine Gael is a member — will hold a two-day congress in Malta on March 28-30, a meeting Mr Kenny is likely to also wish to attend.

Should Mr Kenny choose to attend the EPP meeting, which ends on the final Thursday of March, the next possibility of beginning a leadership race will be the following Tuesday, when he announces his departure in the Dáil.

However, given there will be a special EU leaders Brexit strategy meeting in Brussels that week, it is possible the Taoiseach will defer any move until after this meeting.

The Easter break is on the horizon the following week and, with the personally-coveted April 20 date marking the moment Mr Kenny replaces John A Costello as Fine Gael’s longest-serving leader within touching distance, it is likely the taoiseach will remain in situ until this point.

As Fine Gael leadership-change rules state the party has 20 days to hold a leadership contest once the race is officially announced, this means that, despite tonight’s statement, leadership candidates may be waiting until May to know their fate.

(image)



We spend more money on sport, but less time participating

2017-02-22

Despite spending more on sport (€2.5bn in 2016 vs €2.4bn in 2014), Irish people are spending less time on participating in sport or activity.

Despite spending more on sport (€2.5bn in 2016 vs €2.4bn in 2014), Irish people are spending less time on participating in sport or activity.

According to the latest Philip Lee Sport Report, while the average active adult spends over two hours a week in physical activities, participation has fallen on average by 16 minutes since 2014. Men spend more time than women on sport and exercise, while older people spend more time than younger people on activity.

Walking (55%), fitness (28%) swimming (23%) and running (22%) are the most popular activities, largely unchanged since 2014, while Irish people spend over 20% less time watching live sport on TV compared to 2014.

The average sports fan spends around €260 per annum on matches, heats and finals, a figure that is down significantly from an average of €340 in 2014.

On the 2023 Rugby World Cup, 68% said they agree or strongly agree with the Government decision to bid to host the event, with 76% believing hosting such a large event would have a positive economic impact.

Just over 85% said greater participation in sport by children when at school would help reduce the incidence of childhood obesity, with video games and digital devices blamed as major distractions to activity.

(image)



Heart disease number one cause of death in Cork

2017-02-22

Heart disease is still the number one cause of death in Cork.

Heart disease is still the number one cause of death in Cork.

Consultant cardiologist at the Mater Private Hospital in Cork, Dr Ronan Margey, said that the incidence of the disease continues to grow because of the county’s ageing population.

Dr Margey presented the first of a series of cardiology master classes to GPs from Cork and Kerry in Killarney, Co Kerry, yesterday.

He told them that there is a substantial and growing number of patients living with cardiovascular disease.

“Despite marvellous improvements in heart disease mortality over the last 30 years — mostly shaped through improved preventative care at primary care level — cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of mortality in Irish society,” he said.

Dr Margey is one of four consultants from the Mater Private Cork to lead master classes over the coming weeks.

They will cover several themes around the structural heart, rhythm management, and coronary artery disease.

The master classes will update primary care physicians on latest developments in cardiovascular science, focusing on diagnosis, prognosis, and the latest in cardiovascular drug therapeutics and interventions.

The remaining three master classes will take place at Randles Hotel, Killarney on Thursday and on March 2 and 9 at 7pm.

Meanwhile, scientists have found that heavy drinking increases the risk of heart disease by ageing the arteries.

They looked at the link between arterial stiffness, a significant indicator of cardiovascular health and alcohol consumption over time.

A stiffness of the arteries occurs when the walls of the blood vessels lack elasticity, which can negatively impact the artery’s response to variations in blood pressure.

The longitudinal study, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, followed almost 4,000 British civil servants over a 25-year period with ages ranging from 30 to 60.

The researchers found that heavy drinking increases the cardiovascular risk, especially in men.

However, the exact way that alcohol causes arteries to lose elasticity remains unknown said the study’s lead author, Darragh O’Neill, an epidemiological researcher at University College London.

Dr O’Neill said it had been suggested that alcohol may increase the good cholesterol, or decrease platelet stickiness.

“Conversely, heavier alcohol intake may activate certain enzymes that would lead to collagen accumulation, which could, in turn, exacerbate the rate of arterial stiffening.”

For healthy men, drinking more than four drinks on any day or 14 per week and for healthy women having more than three per day or seven per week, fall under the category of ‘heavy drinking’.

According to the study, former male drinkers were also at risk as compared to moderate drinkers who were in early old age.

Dr O’Neill and his team want to further investigate the relationship between alcohol and other markers of cardiovascular health.

(image)



Coalition is ‘failing vulnerable children’ - rights groups give Government's efforts D+

2017-02-22

Children whose parents drink to excess, along with children who are homeless and others who are victims of crime are not being looked after by this Government, say children’s rights groups.Children whose parents drink to excess, along with children who are homeless and others who are victims of crime are not being looked after by this Government, say children’s rights groups.Little improvement is being made either in the lives of children living in poverty or those stuck in the asylum and refugee systems. Furthermore, just one 24-hour state service for victims of sexual assault under the age of 14 exists in the country. The service in Galway had to shut temporarily, twice in the last two years, due to lack of funding. In its annual ‘Report Card’, the Children’s Rights Alliance examined how well the present Government is implementing promises made around children in the Programme for Government. It found the Government’s record is poorer than previous administrations with a panel of experts awarding the Government a D+. Chief executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, Tanya Ward said: “While there has been progress in a number of areas, overall this is the lowest grade in six years. This needs to change.” The big wins for children in the past year are Minister Katherine Zappone’s affordable childcare scheme and the sexual offences bill which provides a legal definition of consent and recognises new forms of sexual abuse and exploitation of children like child grooming. Tanya Ward Another marked improvement for families is the introduction of two weeks paid paternity leave for fathers. The Children’s Rights Alliance (CRA) expert panel found unnecessary delays in introducing the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill and in introducing the McMahon report recommendations around direct provision. “And, a child who has been sexually or physically abused or is a witness to serious abuse often has to wait up to six months before being interviewed for court proceedings. “Six months is a long time in the life of a child. For a vulnerable, and at risk child, six months is an eternity,” said Ms Ward. Child victims of crime also face significant delays in accessing counselling support services. One support service in Dublin, the CARI Foundation has reported a 200% rise in families on its waiting list since January 2015. The CRA called on the Government to speed up the divestment of schools from religious patronage. The Government had set a target of transferring 18 schools per year from religious to secular patronage but in the past five years, just 10 such schools have opened. While welcoming the extension of free GP care to under-6s, it said moves to extend this right to children under 12 had stalled. Child mental health is not being resourced properly either with 2,080 on waiting lists to access Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). ‘Report Card 2017’ combines data from national policy documents and statistical research as well as from CRA member records to paint a picture of the status of children’s rights in Ireland. Up to 100 different groups are members of Children’s Rights Alliance including education, child advocacy and social work groups. Alliance wants homeless families with children prioritised The Children’s Rights Alliance has called on homeless families with children to be prioritised when houses are being allocated. In its report card on Government action on children, it awarded an ‘E’ grade to the Government because of the “horrific reality” in which many children live. Th[...]



Victims of crime suffer from fear, isolation and despair

2017-02-22

Fear, isolation and despair are among some of the effects of crime upon a person, according to the Irish Crime Victims Helpline. 

Fear, isolation and despair are among some of the effects of crime upon a person, according to the Irish Crime Victims Helpline. 

As part of figures compiled for European Day for Victims of Crime, it is estimated that 75 million people become victims of crime every year in the EU.

In the last year in Ireland, there have been about 120,000 crimes reported to gardaí, according to the most recent crime statistics.

Some of these relate to crimes such as assault, burglary, theft, homicide and sexual assault.

Executive director of the Irish Crime Victims Helpline, Michele Puckhaber said, that people can end up feeling vulnerable and alone as a result of experiencing a crime.

“Every day on the helpline we hear about people’s sense of fear, isolation, frustration, even despair, as a result of becoming a victim of crime,” said Ms Puckhaber.

“The helpline offers a calm and supportive space for people to talk over what has happened, to discuss the difficulties they are facing, to access support locally, to get information about the justice system, to benefit from a ‘listening ear’ at a time when they are feeling vulnerable, confused or alone,” she added.

Victims of crime, the helpline warns, do not just have to endure the crime and any subsequent injury, but also a “prolonged process in the criminal justice system”.

For most people, it is a first time experience and they are at a loss as to how the justice system works.

They also face the slow pace at which the courts system operates, states the helpline.

In terms of Irish legislation around victims of crime, we have yet to transfer an EU directive into our law. On November 15, 2015, all EU member states were to have transferred the EU Directive on Crime Victims’ Rights into domestic law.

The directive establishes minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime. Ireland has yet to transpose this directive.

Ms Puckhaber stated that the helpline hopes that Ireland will have transposed the directive by EU Day for Victims of Crime 2018.

“It is our hope that by the next EU Day for Victims of Crime we can say that Ireland has fulfilled their obligation to victims of crime by passing legislation that will put their rights, support, and protections into law,” she said, n The Crime Victims Helpline freephone number is 116 006. To text contact 085 133 7711. The email address is info@crimevictimshelp line.ie.

The helpline is manned Monday from 10am to7.30pm, Tuesday to Friday from 10am-5pm and on Saturday from 2pm-4pm.

(image)



Proper funding needed to add computer science to Leaving Cert

2017-02-22

The time and level of training required to introduce computer science as a Leaving Certificate subject next year needs significant investment if it is to be a realistic option for all students, a teachers union has warned.The time and level of training required to introduce computer science as a Leaving Certificate subject next year needs significant investment if it is to be a realistic option for all students, a teachers union has warned.Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) education officer, David Duffy, said Education Minister Richard Bruton’s ambition to offer it as a subject choice to fifth-year students from September 2018 is achievable. But, he said, while the curriculum itself can be designed and finalised relatively quickly, additional spending needs to be committed by the Department of Education to ensure teachers and schools are equipped to deliver the course. “The department has the ability to make this happen in partnership with the profession, but an awful lot of training is needed if you’re upskilling existing teachers. You’re not talking about taking people out of school for a short course of five or six days,” Mr Duffy said. His comments come after a report to the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) this week said more detailed research is needed on the teacher professional development requirements. It described the experience in several countries of introducing computer science at second-level or revising existing courses, including difficulties with the short two-year turnaround in New Zealand between a decision to introduce computer science and when it began to be taught. Mr Bruton wants the NCCA to lead plans that will see an implementation plan in place by the end of the year to see computer science being taught in just over 18 months’ time. He announced earlier this month that he is bringing forward the timeframe for its introduction by a year from the previous target. Richard Bruton Mr Duffy said the question should be asked whether this can be done on an equitable basis, to ensure the subject is a choice regardless of where a student is going to school. “The reality is that some schools have access to funds, through parents and local communities, that others don’t have for the required hardware and other materials,” Mr Duffy said. “We also need to make sure that it isn’t a gendered subject, because the international evidence shows that computer science is taken up far less by girls,” he said. Concerns about Mr Bruton’s timeframe are even stronger from the head of a college department which is interested in delivering whatever teacher training course is deemed necessary. Padraig Kirwan, head of computing and maths at Waterford Institute of Technology, said he does not think 2018 is a realistic start date. While the curriculum could be drawn up relatively quickly, he said, teachers in the new subject “would need to do a one-year full-time course or a two-year part-time course to be sufficiently skilled in computer science.” WIT is already involved in delivery of upskilling courses for second-level maths teachers, which run for one to two years either full-time or part-time. The college plans to devise a teacher-training course in computer science, and started offering coding lessons to local second-level students last year. Consultations on making coding available in primary schools are to begin later this year.[...]



Caesarean birth rate in Ireland about three times the recommended figure

2017-02-22

Greater support for mothers to achieve natural births is “urgently needed”, experts have advised.Greater support for mothers to achieve natural births is “urgently needed”, experts have advised.The caesarean birth rate in this country is about three times the figure recommended by the World Health Organisation. A maternity care conference held yesterday heard the rate in 2015 was 32.3% for women having their first baby and 30% for women having their second or subsequent baby. The WHO states that when the C-section rate goes above 10% there is no evidence mortality rates improve. Trinity College Dublin and NUI Galway took part in a European study called OptiBirth that aims to increase the rates of vaginal births after a C-section through better and more women-centred maternity care. While most women would be able to have a natural birth after having a C-section, the reality in Ireland and many western countries is that rates of natural birth after a C-section remain small. The study’s authors developed a programme to improve rates of natural birth after a C-section. It was tested in 15 hospitals across Ireland, Germany, and Italy, with mixed results. The Italian hospitals that used the programme increased their rates of natural birth after a C-section from 8% to 22%. The co-ordinator of OptiBirth, Trinity Professor Cecily Begley, said the study clearly shows that women who understood the risks and benefits of a C-section and a natural birth were “strongly motivated” to plan a vaginal birth. “Change took time here in Ireland and clinicians now need to take this cost- effective and safe support and information programme on board and work with women to reduce unnecessary caesarean sections into the future,” said Prof Begley. She said the rate of vaginal births after a C-section in Ireland fell further during the study because there was a lot of negative media reports about maternity care at the time. “The C-section rate has shot up in the last two years, and that affected vaginal births after a C-section as well.” Prof Begley said the study shows the programme worked when people were motivated and wanted to change, and the environment was conducive to reducing C-sections. “Women need to educate themselves about childbirth because sadly in Ireland and in many other countries clinicians don’t always tell women the full facts. “I think that some women have this idea that a C-section is easier, quicker, and safer. It’s not. It is a very safe operation but, to be absolutely blunt, C-section is more dangerous for women, in particular, and sometimes for babies as well, than having a vaginal birth and there are knock-on effects for years afterwards.” The principal investigator of the OptiBIRTH study in Ireland, Declan Devane of NUI Galway, said a C-section could be life-saving but that, overall, this operation led to higher maternal death and post-natal problems. “The risk of death for babies born naturally after a previous C-section is higher than for those born by repeat C-section, but it is the same low level of risk that all first-born babies face,” said Prof Devane. As the women’s conference today, the Association for Improvements in Maternity Services Ireland will launch an easy-to-read handbook on the facts surrounding caesarean birth.[...]



New planning permission may be needed for Cork events centre

2017-02-22

The developers of Cork’s stalled event centre may have to apply for new planning permission after it emerged that they need to build a bigger venue.

The developers of Cork’s stalled event centre may have to apply for new planning permission after it emerged that they need to build a bigger venue.

The latest twist in the saga comes less than 24-hours after BAM told city councillors the project needs an extra €12m in public funding — double the amount already committed by Government - to ensure the 6,000-seat facility is built on the former Beamish and Crawford site.

The State has already committed €20m to get the project off the ground — €12m from Government and €8m from Cork City Council. However, councillors were told during the course of an almost two-hour private meeting with BAM executives on Monday that the Government will now have to double its investment to ensure the project is delivered.

BAM chief executive Theo Cullinane said that while the outline cost of the venue has increased from €53m to at least €65m, the final costings have yet to be signed off. He said cost consultants have recommended that the company make provision for a €6m contingency. Mr Cullinane said the increased costs have arisen from design changes sought by venue operators Live Nation which came on board after the original tender for public funding was awarded to BAM over two years ago.

The original design proposed a 10,000 sq m venue but following a year of detailed internal design work with Live Nation, a 13,500 sq m building has now been designed to provide enough mode flexibility to make it commercially viable.

(image)

It is understood that BAM had to sacrifice one office block in its proposed Brewery Quarter regeneration to facilitate the larger event centre. Informed sources close to the process said given the significance of the changes, the larger venue will require planning permission. However, they said that, despite the expected planning application, the imminent request for extra public funding, and the value for money process it will be subjected to by Government, BAM’s proposed September start date is ambitious but achievable.

Cork Chamber CEO Conor Healy said it is vital now for Government to recognise the importance of the project to the city and wider region.

“Clearly, the delays have been a disappointment,” he said. “It would have been much better to understand the position we are in now, ahead of time. But we are where we are. We must remember that no public money has been spent yet — it’s all private funding to date. We do have a shortfall of €12m but this project will deliver an enormous return to the exchequer. The focus now should be on ensuring that the extra funding is found. The government must continue to recognise the merits of the project. It’s important that it moves ahead.”

(image)