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Updated: 2018-04-27T07:56:56+01:00

 



Up to 200 may have had cancers missed

2018-04-27

Tánaiste apologises for ‘shameful’ events in Phelan case.Tánaiste apologises for ‘shameful’ events in Phelan case.Up to 200 women who later developed cervical cancer had the same missed smear test as Vicky Phelan, it was admitted last night. In the wake of the Phelan case, Health Minister Simon Harris yesterday ordered Cervical Check to write to the doctors of the women to ensure they communicated the error, where cancer indicators were missed. Health Minister Simon Harris has said that up to 15 women a year since 2008 should have had their cases escalated in the wake of a smear test but did not. Mr Harris and Tánaiste Simon Coveney apologised to Ms Phelan for the abject failure in informing her of her condition. Mr Coveney said: “This is a shameful series of events, particularly in terms of information flow. The tragedy and challenges Vicky Phelan and her family are facing now have been made all the more difficult because of the failings in terms of the passing on of information. And for that I want to apologise to her and to her family.” Mr Harris said the doctors in all of these cases would have been informed of the misdiagnosis but the letters are to ensure patients are told. “What we know is that, since 2016, doctors have been receiving the results of the audits in relation to the smear tests of their patients,” he said. “It is absolutely essential that we establish that those doctors told their patients of the outcomes of those audits. Today, Cervical Check will write to those doctors and ask those doctors to confirm that they have informed their patients.” To date, since the screening programme began a decade ago, there have been 3m scans performed and a total of 1,400 confirmed diagnoses of cervical cancer. Responding to the public outcry following Ms Phelan’s €2.5m settlement with the company which examined her smear, Mr Harris said the doctors would be called on to ensure all women affected were told if they have not been already. Secondly, he announced a new policy to ensure patients are told about such mistakes in a timely fashion automatically, as opposed to leaving it to the discretion of the doctor. Ms Phelan was diagnosed with cancer three years after her smear test results of 2011 were incorrectly reported as clear of abnormalities. By the time she had another smear test in 2014, she had cervical cancer. Ms Phelan, of Carrigeen, Annacotty, Co Limerick, along with her husband, Jim Phelan, has sued the HSE and Clinical Pathology Laboratories Inc, Austin, Texas, over the smear test taken under CervicalCheck and analysed in a US laboratory. She was given six to 12 months to live in January this year. The case was raised in Dáil during leaders’ questions. Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary asked: “What will change as a result of what we know now as a consequence of the bravery and courage of Vicky Phelan?” In response, Mr Coveney said there will be changes as a result of what has happened. He also stressed the importance of maintaining confidence in the national cervical cancer screening service. Two separate investigations are to be launched into the circumstances of how Ms Phelan was not told of her mis-diagnosis for three years. Mr Harris has said an external review is to be conducted by the director general of the HSE. “I envisage the review will be external, I envisage it will involve international expertise but I will ask the DG to further clarify that,” he said. “But I think what we should do with our screening programme, we should look to ensure we are following absolute best international practice.” Meanwhile, the Public Accounts Committee is to investigate any potential breach in policy and financial loss to the taxpayer because of the mishandling of the Phelan case. The Dáil’s spending watchdog is to write to the HSE, the Department of Health and CervicalCheck to examine what happened in the Phelan case.[...]



Gangs of burglars who target vulnerable in rural areas face 14 years in jail

2018-04-27

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Gangs of repeat burglars who target the vulnerable in rural areas could face up to 14 years in prison, the Court of Appeal has indicated.

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Gangs of repeat burglars who target the vulnerable in rural areas could face up to 14 years in prison, the Court of Appeal has indicated.

Yesterday the court increased sentences handed down to two cousins, Michael Casey and David Casey, for a “fatal burglary” at the home of a 62-year-old after finding that their original three-and-a-half-year jail terms were too lenient.

During the hearing it was referenced that, earlier this year, the DPP asked the Court of Appeal to set guidelines or sentencing parameters for the offence of burglary.

Counsel for the DPP, Thomas O’Malley, submitted a number of factors that would put a burglary into the mid-range and upper end of the mid-range category. Those were:

  • Planning and premeditation;
  • Two or more participants acting together;
  • The targeting of residential properties, especially in rural areas;
  • The targeting of residential property because the occupant was known to be vulnerable due to age, disability or some other factor;
  • The taking of property which had a high monetary value or high sentimental value.

The DPP also identified factors that would tend to place a burglary in the most serious category including ransacking of a home; entering a home during the night knowing the occupant to be alone; the use or threat of violence; the cause of significant injury, whether physical or psychological, or serious trauma.

To that list, Mr Justice George Birmingham said the Court of Appeal would add the presence of relevant previous convictions as an aggravating factor.

Furthermore, a confrontation with an occupant of the dwelling would be also an aggravating factor. The more aggressive the confrontation the greater the aggravation.

He said the presence of a number of these factors would place the offence in the middle range “at least” and usually above the mid-point in that range while a considerable number of the factors or, if individual factors were present in a particularly grave form, would raise the offence to the highest category.

Mr Justice Birmingham, in a judgment with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice John Edwards, said the Court of Appeal would suggest mid-range offences to merit sentences (pre-mitigation) in the range of four to nine years and at the highest end, sentences (pre-mitigation) of nine to 14 years.

“While a consistency of approach to sentencing is highly desirable, it is not to be expected that there will be a uniformity in terms of the actual sentences that are imposed,” he said.

“There are just too many variables in terms of the circumstances of individual offences, but even more so in terms of the circumstances of individual offenders, for that to happen. Again, the court recognises that there is no clear blue water between the ranges.”

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Boy, 13, forced into sex act minutes after downloading gay dating app on phone

2018-04-27

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A 13-year-old boy downloaded gay dating app onto his mother’s mobile phone while she was out and within hours was forced to perform a sex act on a 30-year-old man.

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A 13-year-old boy downloaded gay dating app onto his mother’s mobile phone while she was out and within hours was forced to perform a sex act on a 30-year-old man.

The boy’s mother left the boy at their rural Donegal home with his siblings while she went out for a couple of hours.

She gave her son her mobile phone in case he needed it.

The boy downloaded the Gaydar app and put up a profile of himself claiming to be 19.

A man contacted the child a short time later and was told the boy’s mother would be out for two hours.

The man, who was aged 30 at the time, arranged to travel to the boy’s home.

He showered and drove there.

The man has appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court where he pleaded guilty to the defilement of a child under the age of 15 years.

The offence occurred on April 13th, 2015.

Garda Malcolm Hooks told the court that while the boy’s Gaydar profile said he was aged 19, another part of his profile read: “I’m not a porn star, I’m a 13-year-old.”

The garda said that when the boy was interviewed by specialist interviewers, he claimed that the man forced him to give him oral sex.

The boy’s mother came home unexpectedly and witnessed the sexual encounter.

In a later interview with gardaí, the man admitted that when the boy answered the door to him, he thought he was aged “16 or 17”.

The accused man’s sister gave evidence that, up until this incident, her family never knew he was homosexual.

She added he is deeply ashamed of what had happened and is willing to accept any punishment that came his way.

Colm Smyth, defending, said his client is from a very respectable family who is shocked by what had happened.

He said a report from a forensic clinical psychologist found the man to be immature and introverted and that he has difficulty recognising his bisexuality.

However, the psychologist added that he found no evidence of any interest in paedophilia.

The man told the psychologist: “I’m not that kind of person and I’m disgusted with myself. If I can fix this in any way, I will.”

Judge John Aylmer adjourned the case to hear evidence from the boy.

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Minister wants dedicated mental health phoneline by end of year

2018-04-27

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A dedicated mental health phoneline similar to the 999 system is to be established by the end of the year, Fine Gael TD Jim Daly has promised.

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A dedicated mental health phoneline similar to the 999 system is to be established by the end of the year, Fine Gael TD Jim Daly has promised.

The minister of state for mental health has committed to establishing a single phone number that would act as the access point into mental health services.

It comes as a damning report published by the all-party Oireachtas committee on the future of mental health care highlighted chronic staff shortages and waiting lists, over-reliance on medicating patients and a failure to provide services at night.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner Mr Daly said: “I want to establish a single dedicated phoneline with an easily identifiable number as easy as 999 that everyone will dial.”

Mr Daly said €55m has already been allocated for new mental health initiatives and the phoneline will be part of this.

“I hope to be in a position to establish that before the year-end,” said the Cork South-West TD.

“It will be a referral pathway so we would have a directory of all the services in the country. The HSE has just put together a directory of every single mental health service in the country.”

Mr Daly also said a “much more appropriate” referral system is needed for young people with mental health issues. He said there are too many referrals of young people to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services which has resulted in long waiting lists.

“The mental health equivalent of trolleys is the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services waiting lists,” he said.

“There are much lower levels of intervention and that’s what needs to be happening in mental health. Not everyone needs to be referred to the consultant psychiatrist and if you go into Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, you have to be seen by a consultant psychiatrist.”

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100 extra searches in child image inquiry to be conducted this year

2018-04-27

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Up to a hundred more searches are expected to be conducted this year in relation to a major investigation into child abuse imagery, garda bosses have said.

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Up to a hundred more searches are expected to be conducted this year in relation to a major investigation into child abuse imagery, garda bosses have said.

Three further phases are expected to be carried out in 2018 as part of Operation Ketch, which saw 31 searches of homes in 12 garda divisions in its first phase last February.

Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll, who is head of Special Crime Operations, said that “in excess of 100,000 images” were seized two months ago.

He told the Policing Authority this was the first of four phases in an operation by the National Protective Services Bureau and there was no indication “any less searches” would be conducted in the next three phases.

He pointed out that the images have to be examined in detail by the Garda Cyber Crime Bureau. Mr O’Driscoll said “fortunately” none of the children pictured in the imagery seized in February was resident in Ireland.

He was part of a management team, led by acting commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin, who appeared before a public meeting of the Policing Authority yesterday.

This was a special session on children and policing, although the meeting also dealt with the garda report into the policing of the anti-water charge protest in Jobstown in November 2014.

The recent Garda Inspectorate report Responding to Child Sexual Abuse highlighted a range of concerns, including continuing delays in the examination of child abuse imagery.

Mr O’Driscoll said there had been delays of up to six years, but that they have significantly reduced that and expected to clear the backlog by the end of 2019.

The garda team was also questioned about serious issues regarding the Youth Diversion Programme for child offenders following an internal Garda report last year.

The internal audit found a series of problems, including lack of action against an estimated 7,000 juveniles who were not taken into the Youth Diversion Programme and whose cases were referred back to districts for possible prosecution.

Other issues include the timely referral of cases to the Juvenile Liaison Office and referrals getting “stuck”.

Assistant Commissioner Pat Leahy, head of Community Engagement, said that 20,000 cases were being reviewed.

Authority member Judith Gillespie said some of the cases involved “high-risk offences and offenders”. She said that individual officers had not done their job and that potential disciplinary action could arise.

Mr Leahy said this would “not lead to a happy ending” and that there would be “no free passes” for gardaí involved and that divisional officers were going through the cases. He said that where they see a disciplinary investigation was required they were going to “have to conduct that”.

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€15m in grants for recession-hit towns and villages

2018-04-27

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Recession-hit towns and villages will get access to millions of euro in grants to help support local projects such as hubs, employment initiatives and rural growth schemes.

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Recession-hit towns and villages will get access to millions of euro in grants to help support local projects such as hubs, employment initiatives and rural growth schemes.

Rural Affairs Minister Michael Ring will today announce the release of €15m in grants and funds, with proposed projects able to draw down the funds later this year.

The move comes amid claims that rural Ireland has been left behind in the recovery, with urban centres such as Dublin and Cork benefiting more than other parts of the country.

The Town and Village Renewal Scheme funds can be applied for via local authorities, with the final selections of winners made in July.

Proposed projects must have positive economic impacts on town and villages, stimulate growth or show links to other schemes in certain areas, including heritage, arts, culture, vacant premises or energy efficiency schemes.

Up to 80% of the total cost of a project under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme will be provided for any individual project. The minimum grant which is available is €20,000 and the maximum is €100,000. A higher limit of €200,000 will be considered for a limited number of projects.

Mr Ring will say today that some €30m was spent under the town and village renewal scheme over the last two years. It is expected that this new round of funding will benefit up to 200 towns and villages

Previous projects which received the funds have included the Ludgate Hub in Skibbereen which hosts more than 35 local business ventures and which received some €150,000.

The restoration of the old butter market in Granard, Co Longford, has since also become a focal point for community events, including a farmer’s market after receiving €43,000. The renovation of the old courthouse in Boyle, Co Roscommon was also supported with a €62,000 grant.

Mr Ring said: “The scheme will again be administered through the local authorities, who will be required to work closely with local businesses and local communities to develop and implement ideas that can make a real and sustainable impact in revitalising rural towns and villages across the country.”

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Varadkar: Canney has ‘decision to make’ on party

2018-04-27

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Sean Canney has “a decision to make” over whether he will stay with the Independent Alliance in Government, said the Taoiseach.

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Sean Canney has “a decision to make” over whether he will stay with the Independent Alliance in Government, said the Taoiseach.

The Independent Alliance called off a conference due to be held today as a simmering row between Mr Canney and other members rumbles on.

Mr Canney is understood to be considering whether he will leave the group after a significant rift emerged. He had a private meeting with the Taoiseach earlier this week, leading to speculation that he is trying to cut a deal to support the Government from outside the grouping. The Independent Alliance have given the former OPW minister until the weekend to make up his mind.

A row erupted in the group after it was decided that Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran should remain as Minister for the OPW. Tensions mounted further when Mr Canney moved to vote against the Shane Ross’s Road Traffic Bill in the Dáil on Tuesday and did not appear when it was again voted upon on Wednesday night.

Mr Canney was seen talking to Mr Moran in the Dáil chamber yesterday but it is understood they spoke solely about flood prevention measures and housing and not the disagreement.

The group had arranged to hold a conference in Athlone today to review their performance in Government and to assess what their priorities should be for the remainder of the Dáil term.

The five elected TDs, including Mr Canney, had invited Independent Alliance councillors to the meeting, which has now been called off. The letter said the conference was being held to coincide with the second anniversary of the Alliance entering Government.

Mr Canney has remained tight-lipped over whether he is planning to leave the Alliance. However, his private meeting with Leo Varadkar suggests that he is trying to hammer out a deal with the Taoiseach to remain in Government as an Independent.

Speaking in Belgium, Mr Varadkar moved to play down the private meeting but hinted that he expects Mr Canney to make an announcement soon.

Mr Varadkar said: “The meeting I had with Sean Canney during the week was private. It’s certainly not the first time I met Sean Canney. We would be in touch by phone or by text regularity and of course we meet every couple of weeks. He is, after all, the assistant Government whip.

[quote]But it was a private meeting. He has a decision to make. It’s his decision to make and when he does make it, I think it’s really up to him to make that announcement.[/quote]

Sinn Féin leader Mary-Lou McDonald claimed the spat is simply a consequence of the makeup of the current Government which saw ministerial positions “being handed out like baubles”.

She said: “It just seems to me to be terribly inappropriate for doing your job at a senior or junior level. We don’t have new politics, we have very unstable, old- school patronage parish pump politics I don’t think serves people very well.”

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O’Donnell: Rural TDs cost lives by delaying road safety bill

2018-04-27

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The head of the Road Safety Authority (RSA) has hit out at “disgraceful and self-serving” rural politicians who, it is claimed, are delaying the passage of stricter drink- driving laws and therefore “costing lives”.

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The head of the Road Safety Authority (RSA) has hit out at “disgraceful and self-serving” rural politicians who, it is claimed, are delaying the passage of stricter drink- driving laws and therefore “costing lives”.

The criticism from RSA CEO Liz O’Donnell comes after several rural TDs this week continued to object to proposals to introduce mandatory driving bans for first- time offenders.

The bill is being brought by Transport Minister Shane Ross, who was the subject of stinging criticism from a host of rural TDs this week.

During one debate, Kerry TD and publican Danny Healy-Rae said “a pint and a half of beer “never made anyone drunk”. Mr Healy-Rae and his brother Michael spoke of the potential damage to rural Kerry if the stricter driving laws are passed by the Dail.

“Why are you trying to criminalise hard working people who just want to be left alone?” Danny Healy-Rae asked of Mr Ross.

“Everything that is being done is hurting rural Ireland. How have Fine Gael let you do it?”

Those opposed to the bill this week were called to their feet to declare their position. Among those who rose was Independent Alliance colleague Sean Canney and ex-Alliance member Michael Fitzmaurice.

However, Ms O’Donnell, while not naming anyone, yesterday fired back at rural TDs and claimed their objections were potentially costing lives. She described as “disgraceful and self-serving” the behaviour and tactics employed by a minority of rural TDs.

A statement on behalf of the RSA said the passage of the Road Traffic Amendment Bill had descended into “farce and filibuster”.

“Clearly unhappy with this behaviour, a number of other deputies raised ‘on points of order’ the extensive filibustering by these deputies, which is clearly designed to delay the passage of this bill,” said the statement.

“It is also having a knock-on effect in delaying all other important government legislation.

[quote]This is an unprecedented situation and the delaying tactics being employed by these deputies is putting at risk the introduction of important measures to save lives on the road. Quite simply, it’s costing lives.[/quote]

“These deputies are showing utter contempt for road safety and are not reflecting the views of the vast majority of the people of rural Ireland. It must be heart-breaking and offensive to the bereaved families left to rebuild what is left of their devastated lives.”

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Improved recording shows hate crime rise

2018-04-27

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There has been a “dramatic” increase in hate crime in recent years after changes in recording practices by gardaí, according to an international report.

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There has been a “dramatic” increase in hate crime in recent years after changes in recording practices by gardaí, according to an international report.

The research, which examined the situation in five EU countries, found levels of hate crime recorded in 2016 were the highest since similar figures were gathered since 2006.

However, researchers, garda civilian statisticians, and civil groups believe the figures still “under-represents” the real level of hate crime in the country.

The 216-page report Life Cycle of a Hate Crime recommends specific legislation on hate crime in Ireland, concluding that the lack of it was limiting both the investigation and prosecution of such offences.

The report seeks aggravated sentences for hate crimes.

Other recommendations include inclusion of cyber hate offences, regional specialist garda hate crime units, a public awareness campaign, specific guidelines from the DPP, a requirement on judges to consider the hate element of all offences, and training for gardaí, lawyers, and the judiciary.

Recorded figures on hate crimes show there were more than 300 recorded offences in 2016, compared to just over 100 in 2014 and a yearly average of around 160 between 2006-2014.

The report said there had been significant improvements in garda recording of hate crime since 2015, with a specific update to the Garda Pulse computer system introduced that November.

This expanded five relevant categories to record hate crimes to 11.

“The number of crimes as recorded as having a discriminatory motive increased dramatically following the introduction of Pulse 6.8: from 114 in 2014 to 308 in 2016,” said the report, carried out by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties.

Authors Amanda Haynes and Jennifer Schweppe said their findings supported the view that the figure “underrepresents the real figure in Ireland and that both underreporting and underrecording remain a challenge”.

The 2016 figure includes 152 crimes of racism, 38 of ageism, 31 gender-related, 28 homophobia, 25 anti-Traveller, and 13 anti-Muslim. The 308 figure compares to an average of 158 crimes annually between 2006 and 2014, ranging from 114 in 2014 to 233 in 2007.

The report said that the Central Statistics Office advised caution in interpreting the data in 2016, given it was the first full year under the extended Pulse system.

The CSO also referred to its own reviews and those of the Garda Inspectorate, the latter finding that around 16% of crime reported to gardaí was not logged on Pulse.

The report found there were few prosecutions for hate crime in Ireland, in part due to a requirement to prove the perpetrator intended to stir up hatred.

The report recommends the introduction of legislation, incorporating aggravated offences and sentencing provisions specific to hate crime.

It called for reform of the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989, to include cyber hate and protect more groups.

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Planning granted for floating hotel at Cork quay

2018-04-27

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Ireland’s first floating hotel could launch before the end of the year after planning permission was granted for the permanent mooring of a river cruiser at Cork’s Penrose Quay.

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Ireland’s first floating hotel could launch before the end of the year after planning permission was granted for the permanent mooring of a river cruiser at Cork’s Penrose Quay.

An Bord Pleánala has upheld the decision by Cork City Council to approve the novel accommodation facility on the northern bank of the River Lee next to the Michael Collins bridge.

The ruling clears the way for the developer, Sick and Sore, to open the hotel and restaurant on the 105m vessel which previously operated as a luxury cruise ship on the River Rhine. It has three decks containing 87 cabins, lounge areas, a sun deck and restaurant.

Sam Corbett, the businessman behind plans for the so-called boatel said it would provide an alternative and unique dining and accommodation experience in Cork. He claimed similar facilities in other European cities are successful and add to the character of an area.

The council’s granting of planning permission had been appealed by a local resident, Brian O’Mahony, who claims it runs contrary to the North Docks Local Area Plan which provides for new pedestrian and vehicular bridges further downstream from the hotel’s mooring berth.

He said the amenity of the ship’s bedrooms would be compromised as the vessel would be moored directly against the quay wall.

Mr O’Mahony also claimed the set-down area is inadequate to accommodate hotel guests and well as goods and services vehicles, while its location would obstruct plans for a cycle path along the quay.

Mr Corbett said he expects that some of the hotel’s biggest customers would be backpackers after he signed a deal with Paddywagon Tours for the vessel to be used as a stopping point on their round-Ireland tours.

The businessman is also behind another novel project — an escape boat — located in a converted barge in Dublin’s Grand Canal Dock where players try and escape from a room in a game inspired by the Crystal Maze, a hit TV show in the 1990s.

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Farranree school closed due to pest infestation

2018-04-27

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A primary school in Cork City has closed for a week, due to pest infestation.

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A primary school in Cork City has closed for a week, due to pest infestation.

Last week, the parents of pupils at Scoil Íosagáin, in Farranree, were told that the school would close on Friday, April 20.

Subsequent alerts told parents that the school would be shut until Wednesday to facilitate a deep clean of the premises, on the advice of the HSE.

However, they were later informed that the school would remain closed until next Monday, April 30th.

Teachers are scheduled to return to the premises today, ahead of the reopening.

The board of management at the school confirmed that it had a “pest-control issue” and that the school closed following consultation with the HSE.

“Following a pest-control issue, reported to management last week and acting on the advice of the HSE, Scoil Íosagáin closed temporarily, while remedial action to monitor and deal with the situation was undertaken.

“The school will re-open to pupils on Monday, April 30th.

“The board of management would like to acknowledge the patience and understanding of parents and guardians, pupils and staff, at this time,” the statement read.

Scoil Íosagáin is an all-boys primary school, with 360 pupils. The school has been given DEIS Urban Band 1 designation by the Department of Education, in recognition of its disadvantaged location.

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Ireland failing on threatened habitats, report says

2018-04-27

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Ireland is failing to fully implement European directives aimed at protecting a range of threatened species and habitats, according to a new report.

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Ireland is failing to fully implement European directives aimed at protecting a range of threatened species and habitats, according to a new report.

The report, which received input from Environmental Pillar members in Ireland, gave 18 member states a scorecard for their performance in implementing the Birds and Habitats Directives to protect Europe’s most precious natural areas, wildlife and habitats

Overall the report found that Ireland is doing well in the transposition of the Birds and Habitats Directives but is failing to fully implement them and “effective conservation of threatened species and habitats to be achieved on the ground”.

The scorecard shows Ireland is failing on:

  • Management of protected sites;
  • Protection of our endangered and threatened species;
  • Connecting important landscapes and biodiverse areas across the country;
  • Tackling non-native invasive species;
  • Genuine engagement with stakeholder and facilitating public participation.

The study found Ireland could do better in a number of areas including the disturbance of species and implementation of appropriate assessments, funding and resources, the promotion of research and the monitoring of habitats and species monitoring.

It also finds the Government is not providing adequate funding to cover Natura 2000 needs.

Natura 2000 is a network of core breeding and resting sites for rare and threatened species and some rare natural habitat types which are protected in their own right.

It stretches over all 28 EU countries and covers 18% of the EU’s land area and almost 6% of its marine territory.

Action plans to safeguard the majority of Ireland’s protected species are “out of date now” while others are being implemented “in a piecemeal fashion”, the report finds.

It also finds that species monitoring is poor, with long-term data “lacking” for over half of bird species assessed in 2014. Some habitat types are also found to lack monitoring.

The report calls for a national action plan to be developed to tackle invasive species and states that invasive species in the marine environment are “potentially problematic”.

Conservation policy spokesperson for the Environmental Pillar Oonagh Duggan said “a lack of political will” to protect Ireland’s threatened species and habitats is condemning Irish nature to loss and decline.

“We have amazing internationally important species, habitats and protected areas for nature in Ireland but the report shows that the Irish Government is sacrificing this natural heritage and letting down the Irish people who take great enjoyment from nature,” she said.

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BoI could shed up to 200 jobs as it closes support centres

2018-04-27

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Bank of Ireland has announced that it will close 27 “operational support centres” around the country which employ 419 people.

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Bank of Ireland has announced that it will close 27 “operational support centres” around the country which employ 419 people.

The centres, which are usually above or connected to the bank’s branches and carry out administration and project functions, will be wound down by the end of 2018. As many as 200 people could leave the company.

A spokesman said the move was as a result of “streamlining our organisation, and increasing our focus on customer facing roles”.

At the same time, the bank said it is looking to fill 160 roles in its branches and contact centres in order to improve direct services to customers.

The spokesman said the company will seek expressions of interest from those people being let go from the operational support centres for those roles.

He said otherwise they will be able to apply for other roles across the company or take voluntary “parting” or early retirement.

Services in the company’s 250 branches will not be impacted by the closure of support centres. The spokesman said one-to-one meetings will be held with affected staff over the coming weeks.

However, the Financial Services Union said it was opposed to the closure of the 27 service centres.

It said that while there will be opportunities for a proportion of staff to redeploy, “their future is unclear and this is a major concern for FSU and their members”.

“Our primary concern is for our members continued employment in the counties and communities they have loyally served for many years,” said FSU industrial relations officer Maeve Brehony.

“FSU have been challenging the bank on staffing levels throughout the retail network for a considerable time now. We simply do not accept that a significant number of job losses is tenable.”

The union’s general secretary Dermot Ryan, said: “We have an agreement in place with Bank of Ireland that any redundancies will be on a voluntary basis. However, this shouldn’t be taken to mean that we will accept any level of redundancy once it adheres to that agreement.

[quote]A narrow focus on short-sighted cost reductions is bad for staff, bad for customers and bad for the communities they serve.[/quote]

"Achieving commercial goals, in a profitable bank like Bank of Ireland, need not entail closing service centres and proposing significant job losses. In the coming weeks our Union will be making this clear to Bank of Ireland and we will be fighting to retain our members’ jobs.”

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Mental health failings ‘are abuse’

2018-04-27

Health bosses have been accused of “abusing” children with mental health issues by neglecting their needs.Health bosses have been accused of “abusing” children with mental health issues by neglecting their needs.Senator Joan Freeman made the accusation at the publication of an excoriating report on mental health care by the Oireachtas committee she chairs. “I want to say on behalf of the Government I am so sorry to those parents and, in particular, to the children who are actually receiving abuse. Abuse comes in many forms. Neglect is one of them,” she said. Her criticisms followed publication of a report by the Oireachtas committee on the future of mental health care which details multiple failures in the care of children and adults with mental health issues. It found chronic staff shortages with staffing levels as low as 47.5% of what was recommended in some regions — depriving people of vital services. The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) had only 56% the number of staff meant to be employed. In total, there were more than 700 sanctioned new positions unfilled and, on any given day, 600 existing positions vacant. Ms Freeman, founder of suicide prevention charity Pieta House, said the HSE had simply accepted the shortages. “They shrug their shoulders in a helpless gesture,” she said. The committee, comprising 21 TDs and senators from all parties and independents, heard from 60 witnesses and studied submissions from 33 patient groups and service providers before producing their unanimous report. Their 35 recommendations include ending the over-reliance on medication — a treatment route they said was chosen because there were hardly any public counselling or psychology services for GPs to refer patients to for talk therapy. Out-of-hours services are also flagged as urgently needed to prevent patients turning up at Emergency Departments because there was nowhere else to go when EDs often had no way to care for them either. “Mental health needs cannot be shoe-horned into convenient hours,” the report says. A review of funding is sought as the proportion of the health budget spent on mental health has fallen from 14% 30 years ago to just 6%. In tandem with that, the committee wants full accountability for spending after being told by HSE managers their IT system did not enable them to give a breakdown of what was spent on each aspect of mental health. “When we asked how the CAMHS budget was spent, they said they did not know,” Ms Freeman said. “The HSE offers a smokescreen in order to divert questioning.” The report is also critical of the Department of Health for repeatedly reviewing services without actually implementing them. An oversight group appointed by the department is reviewing the ‘Vision for Change’ plan drawn up in 2006 to overhaul mental health services. A quarter of its recommendations have been implemented. “Securing meaningful engagement proved difficult and continues to prove difficult,” the report says. Kieran Moore, a consultant psychiatrist who addressed the committee during hearings, told the launch that health managers should be accountable to regulatory bodies in the same way that doctors and nurses could be subject to sanction by the Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Board. “I have six children at the moment who are all very unwell and I’m speaking to the parents every day and they need to be in-patients in hospital,” said Mr Moore. [quote]We have to look at how we’re structuring the management. The people who make the decisions have never seen a patient in the vast majority of ca[...]



Funding for enforcement urged on dog fouling issue

2018-04-27

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The Government has given almost €900,000 to councils around the country to tackle litter, graffiti, and dog fouling.

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The Government has given almost €900,000 to councils around the country to tackle litter, graffiti, and dog fouling.

However, in Cork, the Labour Party’s Peter Horgan has warned that the funding will be of little use in preventing dog fouling if the money is used for an awareness campaign instead of enforcement.

Mr Horgan has called for a new by-law that would fine anyone with a dog in public without any means of cleaning up their mess.

Environment Minister Denis Naughten yesterday announced the allocation of €884,000 from the Environment Fund to 31 local authorities under the 2018 Anti-Litter and Anti-Graffiti Awareness Grant Scheme (ALAGS).

The minister singled out dog fouling as “a particular bugbear”.

“Dog fouling is perhaps the most intrusive type of litter and a constant source of annoyance for us all on our streets, in our parks and on our beaches,” he said.

“I welcome any initiatives that will increase awareness of this nuisance litter and the many public health risks, particularly for children, that is associated with dog owners not picking up their dog’s waste.”

However, in Cork, Mr Horgan, a Labour party local area representative, said the city council’s allocation of €36,000 must go towards enforcement rather than just awareness campaigns.

“People are aware of dog fouling, we can be guaranteed of that,” Mr Horgan said.

“I am speaking to people week on week who are encountering it right around the city in all places with their children at particular risk. Rather than another ad campaign, the council should take this allocation and ensure litter wardens are allocated overtime to patrol problematic areas in a sharp campaign with fines issued.

[quote]The main problem remains that the burden of proof of dog fouling is too high. A simple by-law stating that anyone in control of a dog not carrying a bag or instrument to clean up will be subject to a fine.[/quote]

“We can’t continue to have the lip service on this matter when the health implications are so high. Council could enact this by-law by the end of May if it wanted and co-ordinate the enforcement campaign at the same time. I believe it would have far more impact than another round of ad campaigns.”

Meanwhile, Dogs Trust has invited Tidy Towns committees to apply for its ‘Big Scoop Award’, which will be given to the community that demonstrates the most creative and sustainable way of dealing with the issue of dog fouling in their community.

A recent Behaviour and Attitudes survey found that seven in 10 people claimed to have walked in dog excrement on the street, 60% in a park, 44% in the house, 43% in the local children’s park, 24% rolled a buggy through it, 20% rolled a bicycle through it, and 10% rolled their wheelchair through it.

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Civil fraud in sale of home by siblings

2018-04-27

Two siblings committed a civil fraud in selling their late father’s Dublin home, on foot of a death certificate for a woman with the same name as their stepmother, the Court of Appeal has ruled. The stepmother was alive at the time.Two siblings committed a civil fraud in selling their late father’s Dublin home, on foot of a death certificate for a woman with the same name as their stepmother, the Court of Appeal has ruled. The stepmother was alive at the time.The stepmother, Maureen Moore, had married John G Moore, a widower, in 1971, and they had bought a house at Mount Tallant Avenue, Dublin, in their joint names in 1975. Ms Moore left there in 1983, due to her husband’s allegedly violent behaviour. Her solicitor wrote to her husband four months later, in connection with her interest in the property, but got no reply. Ms Moore moved to Belgium, suffered from cancer, and returned, in 2002, to live with her mother at Laburnum Square, North Road, Drogheda. When she later discovered her husband had died intestate in 1996, and that the house at Mount Tallant Avenue had been sold in 2002 by his children, John and Maria, she took proceedings. Ms Moore was 71 when her case opened at the High Court, in 2010, but died after evidence concluded. A personal representative of her estate continued the case. In late 2010, the High Court rejected the claims the stepchildren acted fraudulently by getting a death certificate in Maureen Moore’s name and found that arose due to a mistake. The certificate related to a different woman of the same name, Maureen Moore, of Kilamcud, Dublin, who died in 1995. John Moore, aged 43, Woodstock Park, Knocklyon, Dublin 16, and his sister, Maria Byrne, aged 41, of Oakdale Crescent, Ballycullen, Co Dublin, both denied fraud or that they knew or ought to have known the death certificate was not that of Ms Moore. They said they were unable to locate her, and believed she was dead. They also denied she was forced out of the property years earlier. The High Court held there was no evidence of fraud by the siblings. It held that because their mistake had resulted in Ms Moore being unable to take out her legal share of her late husband’s estate, she was entitled to damages. It dismissed an application requiring Nadine Chetty, who bought the Mount Tallant property in October, 2002, but who lives in the Middle East, to deliver up the property to Ms Moore. An appeal was brought by Ms Moore’s estate and, by a two to one majority, yesterday, the appeal court allowed the appeal concerning the siblings, but dismissed the estate’s appeal against the High Court finding in favour of Ms Chetty. Mr Justice Paul Gilligan, with whom Mr Justice Gerard Hogan agreed, said he accepted that when the siblings got the death certificate, in 2000, they made “no effort whatsoever” to ascertain whether it related to their stepmother, when any number of avenues would have revealed it did not. While they said they believed it did relate to their stepmother, the reality was, in the civil sense of fraud and the particular circumstances, they behaved recklessly and carelessly as to whether the death certificate was truly their stepmother’s, when they proposed to rely on it to regularise title of the property, which they sold for some €254,000.[...]



Gambler stole €40,000 of jewellery

2018-04-27

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A gambler snatched €40,000 of diamond engagement rings from a jewellers in Fermoy, Co Cork.

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A gambler snatched €40,000 of diamond engagement rings from a jewellers in Fermoy, Co Cork.

Yesterday, he was given a five-year suspended jail term.

Roman Costica, aged 44, of 1 Cannonbrook Avenue, Lucan, Dublin, was sentenced at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

Costica pleaded guilty to theft at Barnes Jewellers, 44 Patrick St, Fermoy, Co Cork, on August 15th, 2017.

The stolen jewellery consisted of 14, 18-carat, white-gold diamond engagement rings.

Judge Gerard O’Brien imposed the sentence, which he suspended in full.

Detective Garda Denis Ryan said the defendant stole the tray of rings last August. The accused has never worked in Ireland and has been living here for 22 years.

A Romanian interpreter was assigned to assist him for the case.

Judge O’Brien said the case came in the middle to upper range for such offences. Aggravating factors consisted of the premeditation by the accused in carrying out the crime and the high value of the jewellery.

Detective Garda Ryan said the premeditation was clear from the fact that Costica had gone to the jewellers a number of days before the theft. He said the insurance premium of the owners had increased since this theft.

The judge noted Costica had shown remorse and that he was extremely sorry for committing the crime.

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Department of Justice failed to examine ministers’ devices

2018-04-27

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The Department of Justice has admitted that officials never examined any private email or mobile phones belonging to ministers or their advisors during its search for files linked to the disclosures tribunal.

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The Department of Justice has admitted that officials never examined any private email or mobile phones belonging to ministers or their advisors during its search for files linked to the disclosures tribunal.

Acting Secretary General Oonagh McPhillips confirmed the failure to review the potentially key records despite saying that it has co-operated fully with the tribunal to date.

Speaking at the latest Dáil Public Accounts Committee meeting yesterday, Ms McPhillips said she and her department have at no time attempted to hide or conceal information which may be of interest to the ongoing inquiry into how Maurice McCabe was treated by the state.

However, asked several times by Labour TD Alan Kelly, she eventually admitted that the private emails and phone records of former justice minister Frances Fitzgerald, other former ministers and senior officials have failed to be examined.

“There are 30m records held in the department, but phone records and private emails are not covered. The trawl took place under guidance from the tribunal. I can confirm what the deputy was asking,” said Ms McPhillips.

The comment was criticised by Mr Kelly, who noted that serious concerns have previously been raised over unrelated incidents involving other politicians who have conducted official business on private emails.

Mr Kelly also hit out at the situation as it is in contrast to what the department promised the Dáil Justice Committee it would do in a meeting last December.

Meanwhile, at the same PAC meeting yesterday, the Department of Justice was criticised for spending almost €4m on a facility on Wolfe Tone St in Dublin City.

The building was meant to be used by the Probation Service, but was ultimately stalled because of a lack of planning permission after more than €1m was spent on fitting costs, leading Fine Gael TD Kate O’Connell to note: “You spent €1.068m in 60 days? It’s not physically possible, unless you were wallpapering it in gold.”

Fianna Fáil TD Marc Mac Sharry raised further concerns about the amount of money spent on the building, saying it was a failure on the part of the department as it did not ensure the planning permission was in place before it began its work.

Ms McPhillips admitted the department was at fault for the error, but said under questioning no official has lost their job over what happened.

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Kerry council seeks funding for Flesk flooding

2018-04-27

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Kerry County Council is seeking funding to prevent flooding along a stretch of the Flesk river, on the main N22, near Killarney. Twenty houses have been cut off by annual flooding in recent years.

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Kerry County Council is seeking funding to prevent flooding along a stretch of the Flesk river, on the main N22, near Killarney. Twenty houses have been cut off by annual flooding in recent years.

For the first time, the council is seeking major funding to clear 6kms of the river banks, running from Loo Bridge into the village.

Residents have persistently called for vegetation along the river banks to be cleared and have rejected proposals from the National Transport Authority about raising the road.

An initial application, for funding of €99,000, has now gone into the OPW for works along a 6km stretch from Loo Bridge south to Glenflesk.

The mayor of Killarney, Niall Kelleher, said this was a result of the flooding last week and the pressure put on the council. The minister with responsibility for the OPW, Kevin Moran, has given a commitment, the mayor said.

Charlie O’Sullivan, director of services for roads with Kerry County Council, said the application was submitted to the OPW yesterday, for funding under the Non Coastal Minor Works Flood Mitigation Scheme, “for the clearance of vegetation along a 5.6km section of the River Flesk, between Curreal Bridge and Loo Bridge”. The works also include a treatment programme for the eradication of Japanese Knotweed, over a three- to four-year period.

However, there is concern among residents that clearing only part of the river will actually exacerbate the problem, bringing the water more quickly into the affected area.

Damien Switzer said last week was the third time Glenflesk had been flooded in recent months and that residents along the main national primary route felt they were living on a small island.

“It’s flooded three times in the past two months. Only three or four feet, but enough to close the roads and leave residents stranded,” he said, suggesting that the solution was to clear the river all the way to the lakes and beyond, a stretch of around 12km.

A public meeting is taking place today in Glenflesk.

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Kerry scan review shows 100 extra patients recalled

2018-04-27

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A fresh update on the review of the scan procedures conducted at University Hospital Kerry showed a total of 374 patients were recalled for repeat imaging — over one hundred more than was previously confirmed.

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A fresh update on the review of the scan procedures conducted at University Hospital Kerry showed a total of 374 patients were recalled for repeat imaging — over one hundred more than was previously confirmed.

And 11 people had been misdiagnosed, one more than previously stated, it emerged.

The review of errors uncovered was completed in February last and involved some 46,235 scans relating to almost 26,000 patients.

Quality checks are currently being completed and a report is expected in a number of weeks.

In yesterday’s edition of Kerry’s Eye newspaper, a consultant radiologist at the Kerry hospital, Dr Martin Schranz, said public patients faced serious health risks due to clerical delays in assigning them a patient number, to permit a scan at the hospital.

When a patient is referred to the hospital for a scan they had to be assigned a number by clerical staff and delays were occurring, he said.

The consultant said he was unable to scan a patient which GPs were anxious about, as a number had not been provided.

He said the only option for public patients, in a hurry for a scan, was by access through the emergency department which was creating delays in that department.

Meanwhile, the recall at the Tralee hospital had been the biggest-ever such review undertaken in Ireland and included X-rays and ultrasound.

The likely errors were said to be the work of a single consultant over an 18-month period between March 2016 and July 2017.

The review began in October and was completed in mid-February by a team of external radiologists.

A spokesperson for the Tralee hospital yesterday said the look-back of the images of 26,756 patients saw a total of 374 patients recalled for re-imaging.

“Eleven patients with diagnostic errors have been identified,” the hospital said.

The quality assurance examination of the audit, meanwhile, is continuing and is expected to finish in the coming weeks.

“University Hospital Kerry acknowledges the understanding of those patients involved in the process and the patience and courtesy shown to staff members at the hospital," it said.

The review was ordered after a small number of serious cancer diagnoses came to light in July last. However, the severity of the problem only became public in December.

However, by February 15th, all of the images of the 26,756 patients had been audited by the clinical subgroup which had involved external radiologists.

At the time, it was reported 10 patients were identified as having a missed or delayed diagnosis and 272 patients were recalled for repeat imaging.

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Harris orders review of screening service

2018-04-27

CervicalCheck is to undergo an external review following revelations that it took three years to notify a woman with terminal cancer of missed abnormalities in her initial screen.CervicalCheck is to undergo an external review following revelations that it took three years to notify a woman with terminal cancer of missed abnormalities in her initial screen.The national screening service is also writing to the doctors of women who may have had cancers missed by the US firm that analyses smear tests on behalf of Cervicalcheck. The doctors are being asked to confirm that the women, estimated at 15, have been informed that they were part of a review following a cancer diagnosis. The review examined their screening history and found initial screens had failed to pick up precancerous abnormalities. CervicalCheck began writing to these doctors yesterday. A 2014 audit identified that the initial screening result for Limerick woman Vicky Phelan was incorrect, and abnormalities that led to terminal cancer were not picked up in 2011. In 2014, the 43-year-old mother of two was diagnosed with terminal cancer but it was another three years before she was told the results of the three-year-old audit. Ms Phelan took legal proceedings against both the HSE and the US laboratory, and settled in the High Court this week against Clinical Pathology Laboratories in Texas for €2.5m. The case against the HSE was struck out. It emerged in court that up to 15 other women may have been given incorrect test results — but CervicalCheck could not confirm if all the women had been told. Amid a public backlash at the manner in which Ms Phelan’s case, and the other cases, were handled, Health Minister Simon Harris yesterday instructed HSE director general Tony O’Brien to conduct a review of the national screening service. The Irish Cancer Society (ICS) said an external review “needs to take place to make sure that processes for communicating information about missed abnormalities or missed diagnoses are put in place, and that the responsibility for who must do that is made absolutely clear”. In addition, the society said there may be a need to legislate for a duty of candour in state bodies, “so that patients get the information relevant to them and to stop the same problems happening again and again”. Séamus O’Reilly, consultant medical oncologist at Cork University Hospital (CUH) had earlier warned on RTE radio that failure to conduct a review could jeopardise the screening service. “I would be very concerned if we don’t have a review of the service which is transparent and open that women will not trust the service,” he said. [quote]And that’s not good. We know that that screening saves lives and I think that we are going to jeopardise the service by not being transparent about it.[/quote] Prof O’Reilly also said there should be a transparent structure in place “so that if someone is on the screening programme and they are diagnosed with cervix cancer, there should be an automatic look back in a timely manner. “I would say 3-6 months looking at their previous smears, and then an open disclosure meeting with them at the end of a prescribed period of time where they would be told whether there was something there or not”. Since 2010, the screening history of women diagnosed with cervix cancer is reviewed and the results sent to her doctor, with advice from Cervicalcheck to use their clinical judgment to communic[...]



O’Connell urges smear tests amid Phelan fallout

2018-04-27

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Fine Gael TD and pharmacist Kate O’Connell has said she booked herself a smear test in the wake of the Vicky Phelan case, and encouraged other women to do the same.

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Fine Gael TD and pharmacist Kate O’Connell has said she booked herself a smear test in the wake of the Vicky Phelan case, and encouraged other women to do the same.

Speaking yesterday at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing, Ms O’Connell spoke of her concern that the missed-diagnosis scandal could lead to women choosing not to get tested.

She said the public must have confidence in the system and stated clearly that the scandal gave her reason to get checked.

“Clearly there was a systems failure here,” she said.

“The tragedy here if things did not happen, as they appear not to have happened in the appropriate time frame, the key thing with cervical cancer is the three, six and nine years.

"The disease progresses quickly and it is in young women and it tends to be aggressive and it tends not to be diagnosed early.”

She said because of the misdiagnosis, she felt it wise to have a smear booked with her GP.

“I myself booked in an additional check this morning because people need to have confidence in the system. It is very important,” she added.

The committee is to investigate any potential breach in policy and financial loss to the taxpayer because of the mishandling of the Vicky Phelan case.

The Dáil’s spending watchdog is to write to the HSE, the Department of Health, and to the sub-contractor Cervical Check to examine what happened in the Phelan case.

Sinn Féin’s David Cullinane called for the committee to examine any failure in process and members agreed.

“This was a clear breach in process but doctors were told, there was a circular, which said clinicians must use their judgement in cases where it is clear that discussions of the outcomes could do more harm than good. I find that extraordinary, I really do,” he said.

“We had an examination around the Grace case and that was about process and procedure,” he added.

Independent PAC member Catherine Murphy echoed the points made by Ms O’Connell. “

We have talked about this on numerous occasions but we are supposed to be moving to an open disclosure culture.

“We have a massive contingent liability and I know we are to discuss this with the HSE but the slowness of all of this needs to be tackled. This poor woman had to go through the courts system rather than a wrong being admitted,” she said.

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People have mythical beliefs about causes of cancer, says study

2018-04-27

Many people have “mythical” beliefs about the causes of cancer.Many people have “mythical” beliefs about the causes of cancer.They incorrectly identify stress, food additives, genetically modified foods, and electromagnetic fields as causes. They have poor awareness of a number of known cancer risk factors, such as obesity, and eating red or processed meat or drinking alcohol, according to a Cancer Research UK-funded study. Experts from University College London (UCL) and the University of Leeds said that the public’s endorsement of mythical cancer causes has risen over the last decade, possibly due to changes in the way people access information through social media and the internet. Researchers surveyed 1,330 people. Participants were asked how much they agreed that items on a list — including known risk factors and “mythical” factors — can increase a person’s chance of developing cancer. The study, published in the European Journal of Cancer, found that a quarter of people incorrectly believed that using a mobile phone was a risk factor for cancer, while more than two in five people think stress or food additives may increase their risk. More than a third (35%) incorrectly said that electromagnetic frequencies were a risk factor, while three in 10 falsely believe that living near power lines could be. Aerosols, cleaning products, and artificial sweeteners were all also incorrectly identified as cancer risk factors. Meanwhile, people also failed to identify known risk factors, including drinking alcohol, not getting enough fruit and vegetables, low levels of physical activity, and being over the age of 70. Two in five failed to identify being overweight or obese as a cancer risk factor. “Obesity was also poorly recognised, which is concerning, considering it is the second leading preventable cause of cancer,” the authors wrote. Dr Samuel Smith, from the University of Leeds, said: “It’s worrying to see so many people endorse risk factors for which there is no convincing evidence. Compared to past research, it appears the number of people believing in unproven causes of cancer has increased since the start of the century, which could be a result of changes to how we access news and information, through the internet and social media. “It’s vital to improve public education about the causes of cancer, if we want to help people make informed decisions about their lives and ensure they aren’t worrying unnecessarily.” UCL’s Dr Lion Shahab added: “People’s beliefs are so important, because they have an impact on the lifestyle choices they make. Those with better awareness of proven causes of cancer were more likely not to smoke and to eat more fruit and vegetables.” Clare Hyde, from Cancer Research UK, said: “Around four in 10 cancer cases could be prevented through lifestyle changes, so it’s crucial we have the right information to help us separate the wheat from the chaff. “Smoking, being overweight, and over-exposure to UV radiation from the sun and sunbeds are the biggest preventable causes of cancer. [quote]There is no guarantee against getting cancer, but by knowing the biggest risk factors, we can stack the odds in our favour to help reduce our individual risk of the disease, rather than wasting time worrying about fake news.[/quote][...]



Tánaiste in Dáil apology over Vicky’s misdiagnosis

2018-04-27

Tánaiste Simon Coveney has apologised to a dying mother over her cancer misdiagnosis as he confirmed that health chiefs are checking if more women were left in the dark over inaccurate test results.Tánaiste Simon Coveney has apologised to a dying mother over her cancer misdiagnosis as he confirmed that health chiefs are checking if more women were left in the dark over inaccurate test results.Fianna Fáil deputy leader Dara Calleary raised in the Dáil the tragic case of Limerick mother of two, Vicky Phelan, who had her cervical cancer misdiagnosed after a screening in 2011. The Mayo TD said the attitude by health personnel in the case has been “cruel and bizarre in the extreme”. In January, Ms Phelan was given between six and 12 months to live. This week the 43-year-old settled a claim against the HSE for €2.5m. The shocking case dominated Dáil debate yesterday. The Tánaiste said it has been a “shameful series of events”, particularly where information flow is concerned. He said sorry to Ms Phelan and her family: “The tragedy and challenges that Ms Vicky Phelan and her family are facing now have been made all the more difficult because of the failings in passing information on. For that, as Tánaiste, I want to apologise to her and to her family.” All efforts are now being made to check if other women have not been informed of inaccurate cancer test results, the Dáil heard. “It has now been decided that patients will be advised as part of the process in the future. That will not be optional. It will be automatic. "A process is also under way to identify any other women affected in the same way as Ms Phelan, to ensure that they are informed as is necessary.” However, there is now concern that public confidence in cervical cancer screening could fall. Mr Coveney outlined how 250,000 women get such screening annually and that the CervicalCheck service has found more than 50,000 pre-cancerous changes in women, leading to early treatment. It is regrettable that Ms Phelan had to take a court case, added the Tánaiste, and it is also regrettable that patients do not have automatic access to test result changes or audits, he suggested. However, Mr Calleary lambasted health officials for withholding the audit results and information from Ms Phelan in the first place, telling his counterpart: “I know the Tánaiste would agree that it is beyond words that Vicky had to face the prospect of terminal cancer, and the fact that information was knowingly withheld from her and her doctors makes it completely inexplicable and frankly absolutely unacceptable.” In response, the Tánaiste told the chamber that quick changes are being made to give patients automatic entitlement to information, as opposed to relying on the judgment of a doctor to pass on details. Work is also underway to establish whether there are other women in the same category, he said. Sinn Féin’s Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire noted that had Ms Phelan’s cancer been detected in 2011, she would have had a 90% chance of being cured.[...]