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Updated: 2017-12-16T10:53:39+00:00

 



Jerry McCabe’s garda son successfully appeals assault conviction

2017-12-16

A member of An Garda Síochána yesterday successfully appealed a conviction on a charge of assault causing harm to his ex-girlfriend.

A member of An Garda Síochána yesterday successfully appealed a conviction on a charge of assault causing harm to his ex-girlfriend.

Garda Ross McCabe — son of the late Garda Jerry McCabe — appealed a €750 fine and conviction imposed on him earlier this year by Judge Marie Keane at Cork District Court.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin heard the case at Cork Circuit Appeals Court yesterday and allowed the appeal.

Garda Ross McCabe totally denied Caroline Ford’s claim that he punched her in the face as he drove his car during a heated argument.

He said she yanked the steering wheel, causing him to brake hard and she sustained her injuries against the dashboard of the car as she had previously removed her seatbelt.

Judge Ó Donnabháin said: “This is a case where there is a complete and total conflict of evidence in and about an incident.

“Undoubtedly it was a heightened, problematic, and dysfunctional relationship.

“There was an extraordinary number of phone calls (from the complainant prior to the disputed incident).

“It is not up to the defendant to prove anything, but if it causes me a doubt of a reasonable nature, he is entitled to the benefit of that doubt.

“In the circumstances of this case, he has raised a doubt.

“He is entitled to the benefit of that doubt. I allow the appeal.”

Garda Ross McCabe is a son of the late Detective Garda Jerry McCabe, who was shot dead as an IRA gang carried out a post office raid in the village of Adare, Co Limerick, on June 7, 1996.

Ms Ford said she and the appellant began a relationship in September 2015 and this disputed incident occurred when they met and argued when he finished a night shift at Gurranabraher Garda Station at 7am on Saturday, April 15, 2016.

Ms Ford said they met at the car park of the Country Squire pub in Rathpeacon. She got into his car and he drove towards his apartment in the Whitechurch area.

“It got really heated. The next thing he attacked me. He put his left hand into a fist and punched three times like this,” Ms Ford said.

Frank Nyhan, state solicitor who prosecuted the case, said the witness was gesturing a backwards motion with her fist.

“He connected with my mouth and my eye. He busted the insides of my mouth, inside my lip was cut. I went into a state of shock. I was crying hysterically,” she said.

Donal O’Sullivan, defending, said she had made 28 phone calls to the garda between 3.45am and 5.52am that morning. She said he had told her to keep checking in with him.

Garda McCabe testified yesterday that in one call she said she was driving around drunk and that he told her to pull in to the Country Squire car park and that he would meet her there after work. 

He said that later, in his car, a row developed when “she started acting aggressively. She grabbed the steering wheel out of my hand and pulled it to the left, causing me to hit the brakes and causing her to go forward pretty hard.”

He said he tried to record her actions with his phone but she knocked it out of his hand.

Ms Ford denied this evidence. She said she drove to Limerick to Ross McCabe’s mother, Ann, with whom she got on well.

“I wanted her to see what her son was after doing to me,” she said.

Ross McCabe testified in his appeal: “I never put a finger on Caroline. It is completely fabricated that I hit her. She was physically assaulting me.”

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‘Electrical appliances a fire risk when you’re out of house’, says senior fireman

2017-12-16

A senior fireman has warned that electrical appliances should not be left on when the homeowners are out.

A senior fireman has warned that electrical appliances should not be left on when the homeowners are out.

Senior Co Donegal fire officer Frank McDermott revealed how his own house could have been destroyed by fire when his own dishwasher caught fire.

He is now warning people not to put on their appliances when they are leaving their homes this Christmas.

Mr McDermott put on the dishwasher after lunch in his home in Rosebank, Moville, and left to return to work.

However, by the time he had reached the bottom of his housing estate, he had received a call from his wife, Celemma, saying the dishwasher was on fire.

“I went straight back to the house and there was smoke pouring out of the dishwasher,” said Mr McDermott.

“I opened it and slightly burned my hand. I wasn’t expecting it to be so hot, but I could see the flames inside. This wasn’t just smoke. The thing was on fire and it took off within a matter of minutes.”

Mr McDermott put out the fire using water in his house, after his wife had turned off the electricity.

“Thank God Celemma was in the house,” said Mr McDermott. “It was quick thinking on her behalf to turn off the power, as the electricity was generating the heat to get the fire going.

“Things could have been so different. There is no question that if she hadn’t have been in the house, it would have been on fire.

“It would have taken a few minutes for the kitchen units to go up. Then, the house would have been next.”

The father of three is now urging people not to leave their homes after putting on appliances, such as dishwashers, washing machines, and tumble dryers.

“Look, we’ve probably done this 100 times before, put on the dishwasher and left the house, but we are urging people not to do that,” said Mr McDermott. “In the run-up to Christmas, we are all using our appliances more and more.

“We’ve more dishes and we’re using the tumble dryers more, because we can’t get the clothes dried outside.

“Tumble dryers are probably a higher risk of going on fire, given the heat they generate and the clothes fibres inside them.

“Our dishwasher was older, but I’m sure there are a lot of people out there with similar dishwashers.

“We are urging people not to leave these appliances on when they leave the house, and, if it all possible, don’t put them on at night and go to bed — there is a huge risk if you are in bed.

“I know we all have fire alarms, nowadays, but if an appliance goes on fire when you are in bed, it will take time to get everyone organised and out of the house.”

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Defilement left vulnerable teenager ‘in a very dark place’

2017-12-16

A West Cork man aged 53 who plunged the life of a girl of 15 into a very dark place through prolonged defilement, leading to sexual intercourse, was yesterday jailed for four years.

A West Cork man aged 53 who plunged the life of a girl of 15 into a very dark place through prolonged defilement, leading to sexual intercourse, was yesterday jailed for four years.

Ray O’Driscoll of Ballyhilloe, Leap, Co Cork, was sentenced to seven years’ jail with the last three years suspended, at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said the Court of Criminal Appeal wanted judges to rate the seriousness of cases and commented: “I can only say this one is between the ceiling and the roof; you cannot get much higher.” 

Evidence that would identify the victim is not published.

Garda Joe Lee said the defendant developed the relationship between himself and the girl, who was only 15 at the time. When she was a passenger in his car he would drive to a remote location and get her to perform oral sex on him. Two of the defilement charges relate to this sexual activity. The third defilement charge relates to full sexual intercourse with her at his home.

The sexual aspect of the relationship was maintained through text and social media communications where O’Driscoll sent her photographs of his penis and got her to send him pictures of her, including images of her breasts and vagina, Garda Lee said.

The garda said the teenager was a vulnerable person, suffering anxiety and depression, and she had difficulties at home prior to meeting with the accused.

Speaking of the impact of the crimes on her yesterday, she said: “I was a shy, innocent 15-year-old girl. He befriended me, gained my trust and then he abused me.

“Before I met my abuser I had just finished my Junior Cert and was doing well academically. I was admitted to hospital for mental health reasons.

“Had it not been for the abuse, I would be living my life like a normal teenager instead of being in and out of hospitals struggling to get out of bed most days.

“Sometimes I’m convinced that I can see him and feel him at the end of my bed. 

“At the time of the abuse I knew I hated what he was doing to me and what he was making me do, but I wasn’t aware of the extremity of it, how much it was affecting me or how much it scared me.

“While logically, I know that the abuse wasn’t my fault, emotionally I still blame myself every day and consider the what-ifs.”

“I was forced to grow up too quickly and learn what a truly horrible, dark place the world really is.

“Instead of being surrounded by family and loving friends, I had to learn to adapt to a new, scarier way of life that involves therapists, social workers, and guards.

“I felt and still feel disgusting and ashamed of myself. I felt like I had the word victim written across my forehead every time that I left the house.”

Defence barrister Sinead Behan said: “Mr O’Driscoll is accepting that he was a thousand per cent in the wrong here today. 

“He asked me to convey his absolute regret and shame and remorse at having engaged in this conduct. He would like to acknowledge the hurt. He appreciates this was difficult for her.”

Judge Ó Donnabháin said: “This man has deprived this child of her innocence, spoiled her youth, interfered with her educational progress, and substantially disrupted her life. On any reading, this girl has been put in a very dark place by this man’s behaviour.”

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Minister Eoghan Murphy supports Eighth Amendment reforms

2017-12-16

Eoghan Murphy follows Regina Doherty in backing abortion recommendations.

Eoghan Murphy follows Regina Doherty in backing abortion recommendations.

Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy has become the second Fine Gael minister to publicly back an Oireachtas committee’s recommendations to repeal the Eighth Amendment and allow unrestricted access to abortions in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Mr Murphy mirrored the views of Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty — and those believed to be held by Health Minister Simon Harris, Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone, and Independent Alliance TDs John Halligan and Finian McGrath — as European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said they are also open to reforms.

Despite Taoiseach Leo Varadkar continuing to decline to outline his own views, Mr Murphy said yesterday that he supports the committee’s recommended reforms.

“We all have our own personal views on this and I won’t have a problem accepting the recommendations of the committee from what I understand to date,” he said.

“For me, I think it’s an issue between a woman and her doctor and I look forward to looking at the report’s recommendations in detail, but from what I understand, I’ll be supporting.”

Mr Murphy’s comments echo those of Ms Doherty, who yesterday said that after travelling a “journey” in recent years, she is now “comfortable in my own skin” in supporting unrestricted access to abortions up to 12 weeks pregnancy.

They also came as Ms McEntee told reporters in Brussels that “we have to trust our women” and that “a lot that was voted on by the committee this week I would agree with”.

Mr Donohoe said while he is in favour of abortion in some circumstances, he would like to take time to examine the recommendations, while Mr Coveney repeated his call for a calm and respectful debate.

The decision by a number of Fine Gael ministers to speak publicly about their views is likely to place further pressure on Mr Varadkar to explain his own position, with the Taoiseach yesterday only saying his views have “evolved”.

Meanwhile, the Government has been warned not to make any attempt to avoid a Dáil and Seanad vote on the Oireachtas committee’s report after Mr Coveney and several Coalition officials said a vote is not yet certain.

After the decision by the committee to vote in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment and a series of liberalising law reform moves this week, the group’s report is due to be formally published by the Oireachtas on Wednesday.

As outlined in long-standing plans, it is then due to be discussed by the Dáil and Seanad in January before a vote is taken on whether to send it to the Cabinet to assist with next year’s referendum wording.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Today With Sean O’Rourke, Mr Coveney said a decision to hold a Dáil and Seanad vote has not been made, a view repeated by a number of Oireachtas and Fine Gael officials.

However, Sinn Féin health spokesperson and committee member Louise O’Reilly last night told the Irish Examiner such a move “is not acceptable”, would “send the wrong message”, and make a mockery of the committee’s three months of work.

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Protest over guesthouse use as asylum centre

2017-12-16

A protest is to take place on at noon today in Killarney near a former guesthouse where some 55 men seeking international protection are to be housed.

A protest is to take place on at noon today in Killarney near a former guesthouse where some 55 men seeking international protection are to be housed.

Some of the group began arriving to Linden House at lunchtime yesterday.

Previously a restaurant, the house had also served as an asylum accommodation centre for a short number of years but has lain vacant for four years.

There has been strong criticism of the Department of Justice by public representatives because of lack of consultation with locals or with the county council.

Michael Healy Rae said he has been inundated with calls from locals concerned about pressure on the housing lists and about the proximity to primary schools: “We have questions that need answering. Surely someone in the Department of Justice could have contacted the county council.”

Donal Grady, a town-based councillor, who is organising the protest which will take place opposite Holy Cross Mercy primary school, said Killarney already has two state-owned asylum accommodation centres catering for around 120 people: “Charity begins at home. We have up to 1,700 on the housing waiting list in Killarney. I am dealing with a number of homeless families at the moment.”

He had previously called for the building, which is privately owned, to be leased by the council and used for local homeless persons.

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Planning appeals likely at Cork's Good Shepherd  convent

2017-12-16

Plans for a residential development at the Sunday’s Well site of the former Good Shepherd convent in Cork City are likely to be the subject of planning appeals after considerable local objection.

Plans for a residential development at the Sunday’s Well site of the former Good Shepherd convent in Cork City are likely to be the subject of planning appeals after considerable local objection.

The scheme, which was permitted this week by Cork City Council, has already been the subject of objections from dozens of local residents and public representatives. 

The main concerns are about the impact on the l community, whose population they said would be significantly increased.

The number of units originally proposed was 234 but this has been reduced in revised proposals by Moneda Developments Ltd following initial consideration of the plans by the council. 

The company had also changed the plans from apartments-only to include some houses to provide a more suitable mix for family living.

The site backs onto the Blarney St area, where residents are concerned about the impact on their homes. 

Other issues have been raised about the increased traffic that will be generated by the additional new homes, and the impact on other road users in the area.

The final permission is for 182 homes, to be provided through a combination of refurbishment of existing buildings and some new construction on the site. 

Cork City Council has told the developer it must omit a planned five-storey apartment block and move another one 5m north to protect the site’s landscape character, and in the interest of the area’s visual and residential amenities.

A limit of 206 car parking spaces has been set, and a mobility management plan must be agreed with the council before any residents occupy the scheme, in the interest of traffic safety.

Any third-party appeals would require the entire application to be reconsidered by Bord Pleanála, with a report from a planning inspector likely to take several months to compile.

The Good Shepherd convent and Magdalene home at Sunday’s Well were first occupied in the early 1870s, followed soon after by an orphanage and industrial school building.

Within a decade, more than 170 women were living there, and the laundry operated until the late 1970s, when about 40 women lived there.

Having been owned for a short time by University College Cork in the 1990s, it has been in the ownership of a number of development firms since then. 

A decade ago, a scheme was permitted for around 200 apartments and townhouses but the works never went ahead.

On the city’s southside, meanwhile, Cork City Council also granted permission to a large student accommodation scheme which has been the subject of significant opposition from local residents.

The project proposed by Lyonshall (Bandon Road) Ltd would see 44 apartments built with 322 bed-spaces. 

It is planned to develop the scheme on a two-acre site between Lough Road and Bandon Road near UCC.

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Catholic loses discrimination case over wreath ceremony

2017-12-16

A Roman Catholic has lost his discrimination action against a local authority that refused to stage a wreath-laying ceremony to mark the deaths of Christians murdered by IS.

A Roman Catholic has lost his discrimination action against a local authority that refused to stage a wreath-laying ceremony to mark the deaths of Christians murdered by IS.

The man took the discrimination action on religious grounds, against the un-named local authority. He wanted the wreath-laying to be part of a flag-raising ceremony for Pope Benedict.

The man made the request after the council staged a flag-raising and wreath-laying ceremony in the summer of 2016 to commemorate the members of the LGBTQ community murdered in an Orlando nightclub.

In the attack at Pulse nightclub, a security guard murdered 49 people in June, 2016.

The man taking the discrimination case said that he wanted the ceremony celebrating Pope Francis to also commemorate the massacre of Christians in the Middle East and the murder by IS of a priest in France.

Following the council refusal, the man alleged that he was treated less favourably, in similar circumstances, than the LGBTQ community, because of his religious beliefs.

In his ruling, WRC adjudication officer, Roger McGrath, stated that the man failed to adduce any evidence to demonstrate that he has been treated less favourably than another religious group.

He stated: “Rather, the complaint has compared his position, as a Roman Catholic, to that of members of the LGBTQ community. He has erred in doing so: the LGBTQ community does not constitute a religion: it is a social group that may/can consist of many different religions.”

The local authority refuted any allegation of discrimination made against it and submitted that such allegations “are unfounded, misconceived, and lacking in factual foundation”.

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Wishbone restaurant’s takings for one day to go to charity

2017-12-16

A restaurant is to give all its takings on Monday to the homeless.

A restaurant is to give all its takings on Monday to the homeless.

Wishbone, a chicken wings restaurant in Dublin city centre, confirmed that all money taken in on that day will go to charity.

“Having been open for over a year and walked from Pearse station to Wishbone day and night, I’ve seen first-hand the sad reality that men, women, and children are suffering at the hands of living on the streets,” said Wishbone’s James Stimpson on Facebook.

“I don’t have to tell you how cold it is out there, so on Monday, December 18, we will give all money taken in for the day to go to a homeless charity, to be confirmed. Please like and share and come down, day or night on December 18 and spend, spend, spend. You can also drop in a donation.”

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To see this post on Facebook, click here

Mr Stimpson posted the comment to Facebook and customers began suggesting charities.

The popular restaurant then confirmed that all takings on that day will go to Inner City Helping Homeless.

Its CEO Anthony Flynn thanked the restaurant for the “unbelievable” gesture.

Meanwhile, more than 300 volunteers have signed up for the annual Christmas dinner in Dublin’s RDS. This will be the 93rd dinner to be hosted in the RDS.

Around 500 people will be served a traditional three-course dinner in the RDS and a further 3,000 meals will be dispatched.

“The demand for the takeaway dinners has increased significantly over recent years, reflecting the difficulties experienced by families living within our community and the difficulties experienced within sheltered accommodation to make food available on Christmas Day.

“We invite all those in need to attend the RDS to celebrate Christmas Day with us,” said a spokesman for the event.

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Homeless becoming ‘economic refugees’

2017-12-16

The Government has been warned thousands of homeless children and families are being turned into “economic refugees” because the housing crisis is forcing them to travel up to 50km for emergency accommodation every day.

The Government has been warned thousands of homeless children and families are being turned into “economic refugees” because the housing crisis is forcing them to travel up to 50km for emergency accommodation every day.

Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey hit out at the situation during a debate on child homelessness on the final day of the Dáil before its month-long Christmas break. The debate was attended by just 19 TDs and only one Government minister.

Speaking after latest figures showed that 3,194 children are now homeless in Ireland and a month after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar claimed the national homelessness rate is “low”, Mr Casey said the Government is blind to the crisis.

Describing what he claims is an increasingly regular scene at his family’s hotel in Glendalough, Co Wicklow, Mr Casey said homeless families with children are travelling 50km from Dublin because nowhere else is available.

“In over 40 years in the hotel business, through three recessions in the 1970s, 1980s, and the most recent crash, I never witnessed until this year what I am about to outline,” he said.

“The Glendalough Hotel is located in a very rural part of Wicklow, 50km from Dublin City, which we all know is the epicentre of the child and family homelessness crisis. On several occasions this year, my hotel has accommodated families with children a little embarrassed about arriving not as tourists but economic refugees.

“It makes all of us at the hotel ashamed that this is the Ireland we live in.

“Glendalough is a place of inspiration, tranquility, and a reminder of the historic achievements of Ireland’s ancient past. Sadly, it is now about part of our story of modern Ireland’s shameful present.”

Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster became emotional as she recounted her daughter saying to her “Mam, he was crying”, after giving money to a homeless man on O’Connell St, Dublin.

“He felt that no one gave a damn about him,” she said. “I want the minister to think about those children over Christmas and about every single person who is waiting to be housed by the State.”

Stressing that he understands Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy is genuinely trying to address the matter from within his political perspective, Solidarity-People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said Mr Varadkar’s recent claim that some people want a “free home” comes from “utter ignorance and detachment from reality”.

Green Party TD Catherine Martin said the Government must stop spinning on the issue, while Labour’s Jan O’Sullivan said that “our focus today and as we enter the new year must be on action, what we can do rather than what we can say”.

Mr Murphy told the Dáil the Government is doing everything it can to address the homelessness crisis. He pledged to ensure that every rough sleeper has a bed this Christmas.

Fine Gael TD and housing committee chair Maria Bailey said she understands the anger and concern over the crisis, but said “rhetoric will not build houses”.

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Pensioner narrowly avoids being homeless for Christmas

2017-12-16

A man aged 71, who was five days away from becoming homeless, has received accommodation.

A man aged 71, who was five days away from becoming homeless, has received accommodation.

Named ‘Frank’, he broke down a number of times as he told his story on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland yesterday.

“I pay €1,250 per month, my pension is €150 per week so I have to go out and work, whatever I can get — a few odd jobs here and there.

“Whatever I get is to pay the rent and anything else covers food, electricity, and whatever else I need,” said Frank.

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“I’m running to stand still, some weeks I don’t have work and other weeks the weather is against me,” he added. Now, after more than seven years in his two-bedroom rented home, he is being evicted.

He had engaged with Dublin City Council and the charity Alone, in an attempt to find alternative accommodation as prospective landlords chose not to take him on as a tenant due to his age.

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty heard his story and said she would personally contact the pensioner.

“I am going to engage personally with ‘Frank’ this week because it is not acceptable to anybody that a 71-year-old man should be put out of his home on Christmas week,” Ms Doherty said.

However, later yesterday, chief executive of Alone Sean Moynihan said that Frank had been “sorted” for accommodation.

However, he emphasised that there are many more people like Frank in Ireland.

“A total of 22% of older people do not own their own house.

He added: “Private rented accommodation isn’t the answer.

“If we don’t plan for this, the housing situation will be worse in five years’ time,” Mr Moynihan told the Irish Examiner.

He pointed out that most people have short-term lease arrangements and are therefore only 200 days away from homelessness.

“You get a long-term lease if you’re renting a shop. In accommodation you don’t have this — you are 200 days away from homelessness,” said Mr Moynihan.

He said it is unfortunate that Frank had to go public with his story in order to find safety and security, but acknowledged his bravery in doing so.

“He was five days away from going into emergency accommodation.

“But this isn’t a Christmas story for us, this happens to people like Frank in January, February, March and June,” said the Alone chief.

The pensioner had previously lived and worked in England and had been divorced for 25 years.

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Britain will suffer losses after Brexit, says Leo Varadkar

2017-12-16

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has warned that Britain will suffer losses when it exits the EU as a historic deal was agreed for Brexit.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has warned that Britain will suffer losses when it exits the EU as a historic deal was agreed for Brexit.

EU leaders meeting in Brussels yesterday agreed guidelines for phase II of Brexit, including a special clause which prevents Britain from backtracking on a deal for a frictionless border in the North.

The agreement allows the Brexit talks to move on from the divorce phase and eventually onto Britain’s future relationship outside the EU.

Britain will have two years to exit the EU. Under guidelines, it will have to comply with all EU laws during that period and talks on a new trade deal with the union will begin in March.

Mr Varadkar, speaking after the summit, made it clear that Britain will lose many benefits as it could not expect to have the benefits of a status quo relationship in trading down the line but still leave the EU.

“One thing is certain: That if you do leave the Customs Union and the Single Market, it is not possible to retain all the benefits of the Customs Union and the Single Market,” he said.

“It is a sad reality as Britain knows, in that position, they are going to lose things, they are going to lose some of the access they have currently in the European market.”

Mr Varadkar admitted there are diverse views among member states on the future relationship and trading arrangements the EU may have with Britain.

While Ireland wants this relationship to remain the same, Mr Varadkar said it is difficult to see how that “circle could be squared”. This is especially so if Britain wants the North to keep its existing EU relationship on trade and borders but it also wants to leave the union.

Mr Varadkar confirmed that special protections for the North, including a promise of no hard border, would be “stitched into” the final withdrawal deal for Britain.

Each parliament, including the Dáil, will vote on the final deal, he said. This could be a “challenge” as there are diverse views on Brexit.

Under the guidelines agreed in Brussels, Britain cannot renege on its promise to allow the North retain its existing open border and alignments with the Republic as well as with mainland Britain.

Under the Brexit transition deal, Britain will also remain bound by rules of the Customs Union, the Single Market, and the European Court of Justice, and continue to pay into the EU’s budget for two years.

Talks on the EU-UK relationship next year would be “tricky”, said Mr Varadkar.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said: “The second phase will be significantly harder than the first and the first was very difficult.”

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Cannabis user remanded for attitude to probation

2017-12-16

A man was effectively remanded in custody because of his attitude to the probation service, a judge said.

A man was effectively remanded in custody because of his attitude to the probation service, a judge said.

However, when the case was mentioned yesterday Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said he was prepared to release the accused, Richard Cullinane.

“This was an unusual case,” said the judge. “He found himself in custody because of his attitude to the probation service. In his time in custody, he has somewhat amended his attitude. He has a 30-year-long addiction.”

The accused was released on bail until February 15. When previously questioned for growing cannabis two years ago, it emerged he was continuing to smoke the drug.

Cullinane, aged 47, of The Chalets, Dunnycove, Ardfield, Clonakilty, County Cork, pleaded guilty to cultivating cannabis at his house on July 7, 2015.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said last month he was not happy with what was contained in the probation report about Cullinane.

“He is up before the bench for a drugs offence,” he said.

“His attitude is ‘I am smoking dope for the last 30 years, I can’t do anything about it’. This guy is not at the races. Someone better put him in the stalls.”

Defence barrister Peter O’Flynn said the defendant was about to start a rehabilitation programme with Arbour House.

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Surge in passport demand continues for past year

2017-12-16

The surge in demand for Irish passports from people living in the North and Britain as a result of Brexit has continued in 2017.

The surge in demand for Irish passports from people living in the North and Britain as a result of Brexit has continued in 2017.

According to new figures, applications for passports from people with Irish heritage in Great Britain are already 28% to 81,287 ahead for the entire total for 2016.

According to figures provided by the Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney in a written reply to Fianna Fáil TD Daragh O’Brien, they show that passport applications from people living in the North are also already far ahead of last year’s total.

To date this year, 80,964 applications for passports have been made from people in the North, against 67,563 applications for 2016.

In a response to Independents 4 Change TD Tommy Broughan, Mr Coveney said: “Between January 1 and December 7 this year, the Passport Service received 781,716 passport applications, which represents a 12.4% increase over the same period last year.

There are currently 29,652 applications in progress. These are applications that are going through the normal checking process rather than a backlog.”

In response to the seasonal spike in demand and the general increase in applications, 230 temporary clerical officers were recruited into the Passport Service this year.

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Custody extended on cannabis charge

2017-12-16

A man caught with thousands of euro worth of cannabis in his car-boot and thousands more worth of the drug in a follow-up search at his home was remanded in custody for a further two months until February 13.

A man caught with thousands of euro worth of cannabis in his car-boot and thousands more worth of the drug in a follow-up search at his home was remanded in custody for a further two months until February 13.

Noel McCarthy, aged 37, of Ballyknock, Whitegate, Co Cork, pleaded guilty to having the drug for sale or supply and cultivating it at his home and he was remanded in custody last month for sentencing yesterday.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said one month is not enough time to consider the sentencing. He remanded McCarthy in custody until February 13, 2018. 

Last month, the judge said there could be no guarantee about how the case would be dealt with on the adjourned date.

Garda Mathew O’Mahony testified at Cork Circuit Criminal Court that he approached a car parked at Sunmount, off Winter’s Hill, in Cork city and noticed a strong smell of cannabis coming from the car.

Garda O’Mahony asked the man if he had any cannabis and the man handed over a small amount of cannabis. Asked if there was any more cannabis in the car he said there were two half-kilo bags of cannabis herb in the car-boot.

Following this drugs seizure, a search warrant was obtained for the defendant’s home at Whitegate. Officers found a further three-quarters of a kilo of cannabis herb and eight mature cannabis plants being cultivated at the property. 

The drugs found at Sunmount had a street value of €20,000 and the drugs found at Whitegate were worth €15,000.

Brendan Kelly, defending, said the accused is from West Cork originally and moved to East Cork. Mr Kelly said: “He had a long difficult history with drugs.”

Garda O’Mahony said the accused told gardaí he had a serious addiction to drugs and also had a drugs debt and that this was why he became involved in the drug trade.

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Just 19 TDs in Dáil for debate on child homelessness crisis

2017-12-16

Politicians accused of caring more about their Christmas break.Politicians accused of caring more about their Christmas break.Charities have accused politicians of caring more about their month-long Christmas break than the child homelessness crisis after just 19 of 158 TDs, and only three Government members, attended a two-hour debate on the scandal. The Peter McVerry Trust, Simon Community, and Inner City Helping Homeless lashed out at the attendance rate, insisting TDs must care more about the nearly 3,200 children at risk of living on the streets. Speaking at the start of the debate just a month after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was criticised for claiming Ireland’s homelessness rate is “low” by international standards, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy said the Government is doing everything possible to help and that all rough sleepers will have a bed this Christmas. Fianna Fáil TD Pat Casey said families are being turned into “economic refugees”. Sinn Féin TD Imelda Munster broke down while explaining how her daughter said, “Mam, he was crying”, after they passed a homeless man on the street.
TDs had known since last Friday that the Dáil was to hold a two-hour debate on child homelessness yesterday morning. However, despite knowing since last Friday that the Dáil would hold a two-hour debate on child homelessness yesterday from 10.30am until 12.30pm, just 19 TDs turned up at any stage to discuss the crisis. The 19 politicians — who included 13 present at the start to ensure a Dáil quorum of 10, reduced earlier this week from the usual 20, would be met, and just one minister — were: Fine Gael: Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, housing committee chair Maria Bailey, and Kate O’Connell; Fianna Fáil: Housing spokesman Barry Cowen, children’s spokeswoman Anne Rabbitte, Pat Casey, Eugene Murphy, John Lahart Declan Breathnach, Mary Butler, and ceann comhairle Sean Ó Fearghail; Sinn Féin: Housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin, justice spokesman Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, and Imelda Munster; Labour: Housing spokeswoman Jan O’Sullivan; Solidarity-People Before Profit: Gino Kenny, Richard Boyd Barrett, and Mick Barry; Independents4Change: Joan Collins Greens: Catherine Martin. A number of parties said it was likely that TDs were watching the debate online, with the Social Democrats saying Róisín Shortall was watching from her office as the party did not have a speaking slot because it is grouped with the Greens. Friday Dáil sittings often have a lower attendance, as many TDs travel back to non-Dublin constituencies. Campaigners lashed out at the attendance rate, accusing politicians of caring more about their Christmas break, which began yesterday and ends on January 16, than helping those in need. “Given the number of people in homelessness, the turnout was terribly disappointing,” Niamh Randall of the Simon Community told the Irish Examiner. “The attendance on the day doesn’t look great. I don’t know why it was so low but I’d like to hope that it was because politicians were out in their constituencies working on the issue. We’re talking about people who can’t go home for Christmas.” The Peter McVerry Trust said the attendance is “a sad [...]



GDP growth could set  scene for 2018 election

2017-12-16

CSO figures showing a rapid pace in economic growth will likely extend through next year and could set the scene for a general election, a leading analyst has said.

CSO figures showing a rapid pace in economic growth will likely extend through next year and could set the scene for a general election, a leading analyst has said.

Merrion chief economist Alan McQuaid said the so-called feelgood factor was missing for voters at the last election but that strong growth since would boost the economy through 2018.

The CSO said that, under conventional GDP measures, growth surged by 4.2% in the summer quarter from the spring quarter, and soared by 10.5% from a year earlier.

Ireland is again an outlier in the international growth league, with an economy ostensibly growing at almost twice the pace of Romania, the second fastest-growing in Europe, and by more than eight times the rate of the eurozone average.

The underlying figures also showed strong numbers — a modified figure designed to strip out some of the purely accounting effects of the multinationals still posted a 2.9% expansion in the quarter and a rate of over 9% in the year.

Mr McQuaid said that, no matter which measure was applied, Ireland will likely remain top of the European growth league next year.

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Gardaí probe suspicious death of elderly woman

2017-12-16

Relatives of a pensioner found dead in her Limerick home yesterday were said to be “distressed and shocked” after gardaí confirmed they were treating her death as suspicious.

Relatives of a pensioner found dead in her Limerick home yesterday were said to be “distressed and shocked” after gardaí confirmed they were treating her death as suspicious.

Gardaí sealed off Rose Hanrahan’s home at New Road, Thomondgate, and officers removed the 78-year old’s car from outside her house to a Garda lock-up where it will be forensically examined.

The widow was described by neighbours as a “pure angel”.

Friends said she had lived alone for the past five years following the death of her husband Mike, a former member of Limerick Civic Trust, which is responsible for conserving and preserving historic local landmarks.

Ms Hanrahan’s body was discovered by a relative in the front hall of her home at around 1.30pm yesterday afternoon.

Garda sources would not officially comment on speculation that signs of a break-in were discovered at the townhouse bungalow.

Officers from the Garda Technical Bureau were due to begin a detailed forensic examination of the interior and exterior of the house.

An autopsy, due to be carried out today by deputy State pathologist Michael Curtis, will determine the course of the Garda investigation into the widow’s death, gardaí said.

Dr Curtis was expected to carry out a preliminary examination of Ms Hanrahan’s body at the scene, prior to conducting a full autopsy to take place at University Hospital Limerick.

Superintendent Derek Smart, who is leading the investigation, appealed for anyone with information which may help gardaí in their enquiries, to contact them in confidence.

Gardaí were also actively seeking any CCTV footage from nearby homes and businesses as part of their investigation.

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Waterford Greenway a runaway success

2017-12-16

A quarter of a million people have used the Waterford Greenway since it opened earlier this year.

A quarter of a million people have used the Waterford Greenway since it opened earlier this year.

Since March 105,639 people walked the greenway and 141,906 cycled it.

The 46km off-road trail runs along an old railway line between Waterford and Dungarvan.

A total of 94% of the 247,545 people who used the greenway, rated is excellent or good.

In terms of safety, 78% rated the safety of the greenway as excellent, whereas 66% said the conduct of others was good.

Most of the visitors who were surveyed came from within the county, and one third came from elsewhere in Ireland. Just 2% gave addresses overseas or in Northern Ireland.

Aside from accommodation, the average spend per person along the greenway route was €28.50.

The survey also revealed that most visitors brought their own bike with them as only 27% of users needed to hire one.

A quarter of visitors said it was their first time on the greenway, whereas 15% use it daily and 27% use it weekly.

The route takes in viaducts, a disused tunnel and coastal stretches and most people said that the landscape was the biggest draw.

A total of 70% liked the scenery and nature along the route, 51% liked being away from traffic, 36% said it was peaceful and quiet and 21% were interested in its features

Waterford City and County Council chief executive Michael Walsh said the greenway has had a major impact.

“Developing the greenway was a significant but a very worthwhile investment that is having a major economic and social impact across our county, not just during the peak tourist months but throughout the year.

“Waterford is the jewel in the crown along Ireland’s Ancient East and the Waterford Greenway has not just drawn visitors into our county but it has helped us all to take stock and appreciate the fantastic natural amenities we have on our doorstep.

“Again and again, visitors, I’ve met along the route comment on the friendliness of locals and the varied landscape that stretches from the city to the mountains and down to the sea,” said Mr Walsh.

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Chef refused to be paid ‘under the table’

2017-12-16

A head chef who claims he was fired after refusing to be paid “under the table” has been awarded €10,000 for unfair dismissal.

A head chef who claims he was fired after refusing to be paid “under the table” has been awarded €10,000 for unfair dismissal.

The chef had been working in the unidentified restaurant for more than a decade when it passed over to two new owners last December.

He told the Workplace Relations Commission that after about a week, one of the owners came into the kitchen and told him that from then on, he would get paid for 30 hours “on the books” and the balance would be cash under the table.

He said the reason given was that the PRSI was too high and this way they could make a saving.

The chef said he was asked to sign a form but that he refused, saying it was illegal.

The WRC summary of the chef’s complaint notes that he said the owner told him to “fuck off, then” and “so he did”. 

He claimed he received no payslips from the owners and that two payslips produced at the WRC hearing were fake and the figures were wrong.

The owners’ evidence was that the chef left his employment; that they did not ask him to accept a sum ‘under the table’; and that he was merely asked to sign a tax credit form. 

They also took issue with his performance, saying he was late for work and left early, though they conceded he was never disciplined for this.

They claimed that all of the PRSI, USC, and income tax deductions were made and said he wasn’t given a payslip at the time as the owners didn’t have his tax details.

The court said the owners stated that following a conversation about the chef’s timekeeping, he just walked out.

“The respondent was adamant that its payment methods were totally above board. However, I note from the two payslips produced, that no income tax was deducted from the complainant’s salary,” said the adjudication officer.

“I can find no credible explanation as to why the complainant would simply walk out of his job, a job he loved, merely because the respondent had a word with him about his timekeeping.”

She said it was more likely he left because he was told to “fuck off”, adding that the payslips produced corroborated the chef’s evidence that “all was not above board in relation to the respondent’s tax affairs”.

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Ryanair tells union to call off strike

2017-12-16

The chances of Wednesday’s 24-hour strike by Ryanair pilots being called off narrowed significantly last night after the company said it would not be in a position to meet unions until that day.

The chances of Wednesday’s 24-hour strike by Ryanair pilots being called off narrowed significantly last night after the company said it would not be in a position to meet unions until that day.

The Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association, part of Impact trade union, had insisted on a meeting before calling off the strike by its pilot members in Ryanair in order to “clarify issues and make progress”.

However, Ryanair said in a statement: “The Impact union promised to call off the strike if Ryanair conceded recognition. They’ve gotten our offer of recognition in writing and we’re happy to meet them next week, which itself is the first act in recognising Ialpa.

“The sensible course of action is for Ialpa to meet with Ryanair next Wednesday, but call off the unnecessary threats of disruption to the Christmas flights of thousands of customers.”

There was widespread surprise that a company so vehemently opposed to unions would issue a statement yesterday morning in which it said it had written to the pilot unions in Ireland, Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Portugal inviting each of them to talks “to recognise these unions as the representative body for pilots in Ryanair in each of these countries”.

It did add the proviso that it would require unions to establish “committees of Ryanair pilots to deal with Ryanair issues, as Ryanair will not engage with pilots who fly for competitor airlines in Ireland or elsewhere”.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said the airline wanted to remove any worry or concern that they may be disrupted by pilot industrial action next week.

“If the best way to achieve this is to talk to our pilots through a recognised union process, then we are prepared to do so,” he said, adding that recognising unions “will be a significant change for Ryanair”.

Mr O’Leary said management “will now deal with our pilots through recognised national union structures and we hope and expect that these structures can and will be agreed with our pilots early in the new year”.

Impact trade union, through the Ialpa, represents those pilots directly employed by the airline who were threatening to strike next Wednesday.

On the back of the correspondence from Ryanair, it insisted an immediate meeting between management and the union was now necessary.

“Impact has indicated its availability to meet with Ryanair management today — or at any time over the coming weekend — to discuss these matters,” it said, just hours before Ryanair confirmed its determination that there would be no meeting before Wednesday.

Yesterday, Ryanair’s shares dived by more than 7.5%, meaning €1.5bn was instantly wiped from the airline’s value — as investors tried to get to grip on the costs implications for Ryanair.

However, in the context of Ryanair still being valued at around €18bn even after yesterday’s shares plunge, the effects may be limited, according to Brian Lucey of Trinity College Dublin.

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Cork Airport smiling as it ranks second for happiness

2017-12-16

Cork Airport has been voted the world’s second happiest airport with most people choosing a smile rather than a frown as they pass through the terminal.

Cork Airport has been voted the world’s second happiest airport with most people choosing a smile rather than a frown as they pass through the terminal.

The results have emerged from data compiled from the “smile” machines placed in 160 airports across the globe. 

Passengers walking past Happy or Not machines can hit buttons ranging from a beaming smile to a deep frown depending on their experience in the airport.

Cork Airport scored a happiness ranking of 88.45% and was only pipped by Exeter Airport in England which achieved 88.66%. The average value across the globe was 76.52%.

Cork Airport’s head of communications, Kevin Cullinane, said: “We are delighted with the findings. 

They confirm our ongoing efforts in providing the best of customer service, facilities and ease of travel to the over 2m engers that travelled through Cork Airport in the last year.

“A happy passenger is as a result of a collaborative effort from the entire Cork Airport team, from the moment a passenger enters the terminal to when they depart.

“The findings of the airport report will also prove invaluable in terms of developing our already superb and consistent customer service and state of the art facilities here in Cork Airport.”

The results show overall that 9am (85.7%) is the happiest time for travellers and 2am (71.3%) the unhappiest. 

Tuesday is the day when passengers are most likely to hit the smile button while the weekends see the smiles fade the most.

Unsurprisingly, given the stress of trying to get themselves and their families through the journey and get to their holiday destination, passengers are least happy travelling in July. They are more relaxed and content flying in October and November.

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