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Updated: 2018-02-20T16:21:00+00:00

 



Bessborough mother and baby home: Delay in seeking details of burials

2018-02-20

Adoption campaigners have queried why the Mother and Baby Homes Commission has taken three years to issue a public call for information relating to the burials of children who died at the Bessborough home.

Adoption campaigners have queried why the Mother and Baby Homes Commission has taken three years to issue a public call for information relating to the burials of children who died at the Bessborough home.

It comes as an Irish Examiner investigation revealed that children from the Bessborough Mother and Baby Home, some of whom died as late as 1990, are buried in unmarked graves in a Cork City cemetery.

The three grave plots are located in St Finbarr’s cemetery in Cork City. Two of the plots are unmarked, while another records just one name despite containing the remains of 16 children. Five of the children are connected to the Bessborough Mother and Baby Home.

The plots are owned by the now-closed St Anne’s Adoption Society and the St Patrick’s Orphanage in Cork. The third plot is a non-perpetuity plot indicating that it is unowned.

Earlier this month, the Mother and Baby Homes Commission made a public call for information relating to the burials of a “large number” of children who died at the home between 1922 and 1998.

Susan Lohan of the Adoption Rights Alliance said that Minister for Children Katherine Zappone must now ask the Commission why, “in three years of research, it has either not reported, or worse, has not even discovered, the basic facts that a single journalist with a far smaller budget was able to unearth in a few weeks”.

“Minister Zappone will no doubt be aware of the intense disquiet, which greeted her predecessor Dr James Reilly’s flawed terms of reference for the commission announced in January 2015, which survivors and campaigners correctly predicted was a ploy to treat Tuam as an isolated case of mismanaged burials when in fact the greater human rights abuses concerned forced adoptions, illegal vaccine trials, enforced labour, illegal incarceration, extraordinary rendition of Irish women and girls from the UK back to Ireland and wholesale trafficking of non-marital children to the US for adoption,” said Ms Lohan.

She also said the connections between the Bessborough home and St Anne’s Adoption Society must now be fully investigated.

She also alleged that complaints of “wholesale criminality” by survivor and campaigning groups have been “completely ignored” by successive government ministers and the Adoption Authority.

Paul Redmond of the Coalition of Mother and Baby Homes Survivors said he was “appalled” by the revelations and called for a Garda investigation into the operation of the former mother and baby home.

“We are outraged by these latest revelations concerning Bessborough Mother and Baby home,” said Mr Redmond. “We are appalled by the casual attitudes of the order to the deaths and burials of babies and children since 1922 right up to 1990 at least.

“Altered and missing records mean that the full truth will never be known about the notorious Bessborough Mother and Baby home and the hundreds of deaths that occurred there. It is long past time that the gardaí were called in to investigate these matters with a view to prosecutions.”

In a statement, the Sister of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary said: “As indicated previously all records relating to Bessborough were passed to the HSE in 2011 and are now in the possession of Tusla. We will continue to deal directly with the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes on all such matters.”

Similarly, the Sisters of Mercy said they would “deal directly with this Commission on all related matters”.

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Department of Justice ‘critically conflicted’ over relationship with An Garda Síochána

2018-02-20

The Policing Authority has said the Department of Justice is “critically conflicted” in its relationship with An Garda Síochána — both supporting the service on a daily basis and holding it to account.

The Policing Authority has said the Department of Justice is “critically conflicted” in its relationship with An Garda Síochána — both supporting the service on a daily basis and holding it to account.

The authority said it was evident the department and minister for justice were a “very strong presence in the day-to-day thinking and culture” of the gardaí, which historically has had “unwelcome consequences”.

The authority said the Garda oversight structure was “operating in silos” and was “too complex and cumbersome”.

In a detailed submission to the Policing Commission, which is drawing up a blueprint for Garda reform and oversight, the authority said:

  • The security function of the gardaí should be subject to external oversight, either by the authority or a new body including members of the authority;
  • Garda promotions are often viewed by members as being based on favouritism over merit;
  • The rapid increase in recruitment is placing pressure on training and supervision and the authority has a concern it might “compromise” the standard of training;
  • There is an “urgent need” to ensure the force reflects wider society and the single entry rank, closed training and formation had created a “closed culture”;
  • There are “serious deficiencies” with the Garda disciplinary process and it needs “root and branch review”, including public hearings
  • Garda Internal Audit Unit and a new Risk Committee should report directly to the commissioner.

In its 56-page submission, the authority said that despite externally-imposed changes, it could be argued that the Garda service has “changed very little institutionally, structurally and culturally”.

It said there was limited evidence that the “silos” of community policing, specialist units, and security service worked dynamically.

“The Department of Justice and Equality is critically conflicted because of the dynamics of its day-to-day engagement with the Gardaí, as well as being a direct part, on behalf of the Minister, of the accountability framework for the Garda Commissioner,” it said.

It said there was a “deeply held belief” by garda members and staff that political influence was “present in operational policing decisions” and in Garda appointments and promotions.

It added it was “evident” to the authority that the minister and the department were a “very strong presence” in the day-to-day thinking and culture of the service and that, historically, that had “unwelcome consequences”.

It said that when the authority was established the department “did not conceive that its role had changed in any material way”.

The authority said the inclusion of the security function with the Garda appeared to have “negatively impacted culture, accountability and transparent oversight”.

The authority said continuous professional development should be an “urgent priority”.

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TD’s office vandalised as signs removed

2018-02-20

The office of a Fianna Fáil TD has been vandalised by what appears to be members of the pro-life campaign.

The office of a Fianna Fáil TD has been vandalised by what appears to be members of the pro-life campaign.

Vandals targeted the constituency office of James Lawless in Maynooth, Co Kildare, over the weekend, spraying black paint over a sign of his face and details.

It comes as the Cabinet are due to discuss the wording of a referendum on the Eighth Amendment today.

A ‘save lives, save the 8th’ sticker was also placed on a sign for his office, while the number eight in his phone details was crossed out.

Mr Lawless said: “It’s frustrating and disappointing to see this type of element creep into the debate, up to now the debate has been widely respectful. Hopefully this is a one-off and other TDs won’t be targeted.”

Mr Lawless added that the vandalism of his office was “really bizarre”, as he said he has been a quite moderate voice in the discussion of the Eighth Amendment.

Mr Lawless said he had reported the incident to the gardaí.

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Vandalism to James Lawless’ constituency office.

Meanwhile, large billboards showing a heavily pregnant woman and foetus erected by the Kerry Right to Life movement are illegal and have to be removed, a spokesman for Kerry County Council said yesterday.

The signs advertising an “information meeting” had twice been removed already but had been re-erected.

A variety of large signs have been erected in and around the main towns of Tralee and Killarney in recent weeks and some have been removed, though the council said the removal had nothing to do with their content, but rather with a general crackdown on unauthorised signs in a tourist county that closely safeguarded its scenery.

Three large billboards which had been erected on the main Killarney to Tralee roads and on the Ring of Kerry, posing the question if abortion was healthcare to advertise the meeting, were taken down by council workers last week.

The removed billboards were re-erected later. They were taken down again and re-erected and will now have to be taken down again, a spokesman said.

The chairman of Kerry Right to Life, Fianna Fáil councillor John Joe Culloty, said last week his group were supporting the meeting and they had erected the signs. He felt he had permission and been given the go-ahead by the council. Mr Culloty called for clarity from council engineers and the roads department on the issue

The meeting on February 25 in Tralee is to be addressed by psychiatrist Patricia Casey and obstetrician John Monaghan, and is chaired by Killarney GP and UL lecturer Andrew Regan.

Kerry County Council has confirmed it had twice removed the billboards.

The content of the billboards was not the issue, the council spokesman said. It was not necessarily because people had complained — the council workers themselves were vigilant about unauthorised signage.

“The policy in Kerry is the permission of the local authority is required for all signage. The signs put up in recent days did not have such permission.

Mr Culloty said he now had clarity and did not feel it necessary to take down the large signs — which he said numbered just three — as he was applying in writing to retain them.

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Figures show that Leo’s health kick is inspiring TDs to get in shape

2018-02-20

He’s made no secret of his enthusiasm for trying to keep in shape through jogging and regular morning exercise routines.

He’s made no secret of his enthusiasm for trying to keep in shape through jogging and regular morning exercise routines.

And now it appears Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s well-publicised dedication to his personal fitness has rubbed off on some of his colleagues, after figures revealed a sharp increase in visits to the Dáil gym last year.

TDs and Senators visited the taxpayer-funded Oireachtas gym 390 times in 2017 — a surge of more than 40% [41.3%] from the previous year’s figure of 276.

However, a closer analysis of the new data shows that our elected representatives are continuing to snub the free-to-use facility far more than other Leinster House staff.

Just over 8% [8.23%] of the total 4,740 gym sessions recorded in 2017 were by politicians, while more motivated workers at Leinster House made up the remaining 92% visits to the state-of-the-art leisure facility.

Unsurprisingly, last August — throughout which the Dáil was in recess — proved to be the slackest period of the year, with not one single visit by a politician recorded to the fitness room.

Dáil deputies were also reluctant to work up a sweat in September when just 14 visits were registered, while the temptations of the festive season appear to have proved too much for our elected representatives, as only 15 visits were recorded in December.

However, despite it being the shortest month of the year, February was the period when politicians’ interest in shedding a few pounds and toning up peaked, with 66 visits to the facility.

Data released under the Freedom of Information Act reveals that taxpayers were billed a total of €45,582.87 for running the Oireachtas fitness room. The figure included payment to Dublin-based firm Inspire Limited to provide two part-time staff at the 60 sq m complex and for other professional services, including a once-weekly yoga class and two weekly supervised group training sessions. Cavan-based T&T Fitness was also paid by the Houses of the Oireachtas to maintain the gym equipment.

The Kildare House-based gym is fitted out with cardiovascular equipment, including four treadmills, two cross-trainers, two rowers, and two exercise bikes. It also has resistance training equipment, including leg and abdominal machines, free weights, and chest, back, and multi-functional rehabilitation machines.

The gym is open every weekday, with four separate sessions throughout the day on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. On Thursdays, the gym has three separate opening times, with two on Mondays and just one two-and-a-half hour lunchtime slot every Friday.

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Life through a lens: Images of lost Ireland caught on camera

2018-02-20

In his poem Dark Ireland, Patrick Kavanagh speaks about the Irish as a “dark people, our eyes ever turned inward”. In his poem Dark Ireland, Patrick Kavanagh speaks about the Irish as a “dark people, our eyes ever turned inward”. It was those words of the famous Irish poet that inspired photographer Richard Fitzgerald to look not just inward but backward on an Ireland of the recent past, evoking memories of the kind of rural life that has all but vanished. The images in his book Dark Ireland: Images Of A Lost World, capture the unique landscape of Ireland but they are also intimate portraits of the inhabitants of that landscape as they worked, played and prayed. As our selection from Dark Ireland reveals, the Waterford-born photographer has brought together a remarkable book of moody monochrome photographs, which he fondly describes as “revealing the dark underbelly of Irish rural life”. A nun battles the wind on a hill in Tramore, Co Waterford in 1987. His striking images form a narrative thread with the not-so-distant past. His camera focuses on the back roads of the countryside, and records intimate moments of people in their cottages and farms. Nuns, rosary nights; confessions, coffins, and currachs are captured along with horse fairs and peat harvesting. His 1970 photograph of an elderly couple and their daughter making hay on a farm in Co Mayo could easily have come from a century before. The hand-made haystack, the two-pronged pitchfork, the crude wooden ladder to the side, and even the clothes they wear speak of an Ireland of a long-forgotten past, yet taken less than half a century ago. It was evening and the light was beginning to dim when Richard photographed the man in Co Waterford milking a cow. He learned that the man frequently allowed his cows to graze on the lush grass by the roadside, known as ‘The Long Acre’. Haymakers hard at work on their farm in Co Mayo in 1970. Some of the images reveal the harsh reality of scraping a living in rural Ireland. The cover of the book shows two Connemara men returning home from working the bogs. It was taken in 1970. Years later, he could still remember how pitiful they looked, too weary to speak to each other as one of them sheltered under a sodden overcoat while their equally hardworking donkeys trundled along with their heads lowered. “My memories are steeped in Irish country life,” says Richard. “I worked on the land. I ploughed fields, milked cows by hand, made haycocks, planted potatoes, and took horses to the forge. But all too soon it was over and I joined the ranks of thousands of other Irish emigrants bound for a new life abroad”. Playing the tin whistle to a captive audience in Co Kerry, 1970. He claims he was thrown out of Ireland at the age of 14, wrongly accused of stealing a bottle of lemonade. It was an event that ultimately led to his early departure from Ireland. In London, unable to get into college to study photography, a stroke of good fortune landed in his lap when he rented rooms from a retired portrait photographer who had been working with large wooden cameras and glass plate negatives. He became Richard’s personal tutor in photography for many years, allowing him free use of a studio and darkroom. After travelling the world as a ship’s photographer in the late 1960s, Richard returned to London and set up his own photographic studio, photographing rock and roll stars, and actresses and actors from the silver screen. Milking time in Co Waterford, 1990. He has enjoyed 40 years of working with various magazines and newspapers; his photographs have been published in innumerable publications around the world. But he has always held an enduring love of his homeland and he continues to photograph Ireland to this day. Dark Ireland: Images of a Lost World is published by Currach Press. €24.99[...]



Philip Lane bows out of ECB bid

2018-02-20

Ireland yesterday bowed out of the race to take one of the top jobs at the European Central Bank.

Ireland yesterday bowed out of the race to take one of the top jobs at the European Central Bank.

The Government was forced to withdraw the name of Central Bank Governor Philip Lane from the race to become vice president of the European Central Bank.

Prof Lane was proposed a number of weeks ago by Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, but has returned to “business as usual” given the decision to withdraw his candidacy.

He was one of two candidates for the role, alongside Spanish finance minister Luis De Guindos.

The former Trinity College Dublin academic is highly regarded and is still considered to be a top candidate for a future vacancy on the ECB’s six-member executive board.

The role of chief economist will be available next spring, and the Irishman is believed to be a leading contender for that role.

In what is clearly a blow to Mr Donohoe, the decision to withdraw from the race means Ireland remains the only founding member of the ECB never to have held a top post at the bank.

Announcing the decision, Mr Donohoe said Prof Lane was “an exceptionally well-qualified candidate who would make an ideal person to serve on the executive board of the European Central Bank”.

He said he had received “very positive feedback and expressions of support in relation to the candidacy from many member states who acknowledged how well qualified Philip would be for the position”.

However, the minister said he was withdrawing the governor’s nomination as it was in the interest of the ECB that the position was filled on the basis of consensus. Mr Donohoe told reporters, on entering a meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Brussels yesterday that will decide on a joint candidate, that he would withdraw Prof Lane’s candidacy so that there was one candidate only chosen by consensus.

“Today, I confirm we will not put forward his candidacy for a vote this evening,” said Mr Donohoe. “We believe that given how important a role it is as the vice president of the ECB, that the decision be made on the basis of consensus.”

A spokesperson for Prof Lane said that he welcomed the opportunity to participate in the process and now returns to business as usual at the Central Bank of Ireland.

Reacting to the news, Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said he was disappointed at the defeat of Mr Lane’s nomination for the position of ECB vice-president.

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Government faces Dáil grilling over €116bn plan

2018-02-20

The Government is facing into three days of Dáil questioning on its Ireland 2040 plan unveiled on Friday.

The Government is facing into three days of Dáil questioning on its Ireland 2040 plan unveiled on Friday.

The €116bn plan to “re-imagine Ireland” will invest in infrastructure, housing, health and the environment over the next two decades.

It includes a €2bn urban regeneration and development fund, €1bn rural development fund, and €500m climate fund. However, the Government has been harshly criticised for not seeking a Dáil vote on the plan, which addresses how the country will cope as the population increases by one million in the next 20 years.

The high-profile launch in Sligo IT and a publicity campaign around Ireland 2040 has also been slammed by opposition parties.

Speaking ahead of the debate which begins tonight, Fianna Fáil spokesman on public expenditure Dara Calleary said: “If the Government were confident about the plan they would have announced it without spin and glitz in the Dáil. But they needed the spin and the glitz.”

He pointed to the €1bn which had been set aside for rural regeneration under the plan which he said contained only “vague promises”, adding that this and many other elements of the framework would have to be teased out in the Dáil.

However, Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring said money set aside for rural regeneration “is a game changer” for those living outside of urban areas.

“Let me make it clear that the rural regeneration fund represents €1bn in additional government investment in our rural towns, villages, and outlying rural areas to be administered by the Department of Rural and Community Development,” said Mr Ring.

“The additional investment under the rural regeneration and development fund will commence in 2019 and will ramp up incrementally over the first four years before reaching a steady level of investment. This will see a 60% increase in departmental funding next year and a doubling of expenditure within four years.”

Fianna Fáil housing spokesman Barry Cowen said the plan is “not what it says on the tin” and would be scrutinised by the opposition this week.

Separately, Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone is to bring changes to Cabinet to ensure the rights of children are fully protected in the courts.

Ms Zappone has already put forward new legislation which will see legal guardians appointed to vulnerable children who are affected by court cases.

However, she will ask her cabinet colleagues to approve further changes to the new rules that seek to tackle shortcomings in the system, which Ms Zappone has previously said is “not fit for purpose”.

The Department of Children hope the legislation will come before the Dáil before the summer recess.

The current Child Care Act 1991, does not set out the basic criteria for appointing guardians.

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Finance Minister ‘can’t sit on fence’ on loan sale

2018-02-20

‘Not acceptable’ to wash hands as 20,000 TSB mortgages sold

‘Not acceptable’ to wash hands as 20,000 TSB mortgages sold

Fianna Fáil has said it is “not acceptable” for Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe to wash his hands of the proposed sale of 20,000 mortgages by Permanent TSB, given he is the majority shareholder.

The party is demanding that unregulated foreign vulture funds are brought in under the control of the Central Bank.

The prospect of a full-scale row between the two parties escalated yesterday as both sides entrenched their positions.

Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath said State-owned, main street banks should not be allowed to sell on loans to unregulated vulture funds.

He said the minister’s consent is required for the proposed sale and while he cannot dictate to the bank, should he oppose the sale the bank could hardly ignore him.

“He will have to be consulted and will have to form a view,” Mr McGrath told the Irish Examiner. “He cannot sit on the fence and hide behind the framework. He will have to adopt a position and express it.”

In response to a threat by Mr McGrath to invoke the confidence and supply deal in a bid to stop the sale, the Department of Finance said that the planned sale does not require the permission of Mr Donohoe before proceeding.

However, the relationship framework drawn up between the bank and the minister does require that he be consulted in relation to any transaction worth €50m or more.

Mr McGrath said it was “unfair” that vulture funds could buy up mortgages at significant discounts but borrowers in arrears could not buy their loans at similar discounts.

The Cork South Central TD said the confidence and supply agreement with Fine Gael included measures to strengthen protection for mortgage holders whose loans are sold.

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said the Government has had a “relatively hands-off approach” in its dealing with the banks bailed out by the taxpayer.

“The regulatory arrangements that were made by the supervisor mechanism board between Irish banks and the State since we had to bail them out, were as such that we would have a relatively hands-off approach,” she said.

Asked about claims by Mr McGrath that the Government were rolling out the red carpet for vulture funds to buy up distressed mortgages, Ms Doherty replied: “That’s facetious of Michael, to be honest, I think he is better than that. Anybody who would have their loan book moved from one institution to another could have concerns.”

She said the Government were willing to listen to Fianna Fáil’s concerns.

In response, the department said: “Decisions in respect of loan book sales are the responsibility of the board and management of the bank.”

Permanent TSB’s non-performing loans are at 28% of its total loans, which is five times higher than the average in the eurozone.

Chairman of the Oireachtas Finance Committee, Fianna Fáil’s John McGuinness, said the minister’s position of refusing to intervene was “not acceptable”.

Business: 14

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Dad tells of being forced to leave dead son on roadside

2018-02-20

The father of a teenage cyclist who was struck by a drink driver has described having to leave his son’s body at the side of the road to get home to break the news to his daughters before they found out on social media.

The father of a teenage cyclist who was struck by a drink driver has described having to leave his son’s body at the side of the road to get home to break the news to his daughters before they found out on social media.

Stefan Cooper, 18, died after he was struck by a car driven by Seán Collins at Barley Hill, Roscarberry, Co Cork, in March 2016.

Collins, who had a previous drink drive conviction from 2006, pleaded guilty to driving a car with excess alcohol — 140 mgs of alcohol per 100 mls of blood at a time when the limit was 50 mgs.

The 70 year-old, of The Bungalow, Threegneeves, Leap, Co Cork, also pleaded guilty to charges of driving without due care and attention causing Stefan’s death.

Yesterday, he was given a one year suspended jail term, a €500 fine, and was banned from driving for five years.

In a victim impact statement read to Cork Circuit Criminal Court, Stefan Cooper’s father Christy told how he had to identify his son’s body on the side of the road. He then became concerned that his daughters might find out about the tragedy over social media.

“I had to make the most difficult decision of my life, whether to stay with Stefan and risk my girls finding out about his death from someone else or to get home to them before this happened,” he said. “Eventually I had to leave my son on the side of a wet road in the company of strangers to protect my daughters.”

Stefan’s sister Michaela described the impact of her brother’s death. “I honestly never realised how cosy our house was — full of joy and comfort — until he died. Now it just feels empty, lonely, and big.

“His [Collins’] life will never be the name again, nor his family’s, but because of him, my brother does not have a life to live and that, at the end of the day, is unimaginably painfully unforgivable.”

His other sister Emelia said: “Losing my brother at 15 messed up my life beyond repair. I’ve lost the only brother I had. It is unforgivable that he is gone. He is gone because someone couldn’t follow the rules and it is beyond unforgivable that he has ruined our family.”

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Two-thirds of ministers will campaign in favour of abortion; Cabinet majority backs 12-week limit

2018-02-20

Almost two thirds of the Cabinet have confirmed that they fully support legalising abortion up to 12 weeks and will publicly advocate and campaign to achieve it, the Irish Examiner can reveal.Almost two thirds of the Cabinet have confirmed that they fully support legalising abortion up to 12 weeks and will publicly advocate and campaign to achieve it, the Irish Examiner can reveal.The news comes amid growing ministerial fears the referendum could be rejected. There are also outstanding differences within the Cabinet over the proposal to legalise abortion in all circumstances up to 12 weeks. Cork-based ministers Simon Coveney and Michael Creed have stated their concerns about the 12-week limit, and such concerns are known to be shared by other rural ministers such as Heather Humphreys and Denis Naughten. Ministers meet today to discuss the draft heads of the bill to provide for a referendum on abortion before agreeing a final wording on March 6. Those who are committed to campaign for repeal and to advocate and campaign for the 12-weeks limit are: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, Health Minister Simon Harris, Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, Culture Minister Josepha Madigan, Childrens Minister Katherine Zappone and Transport Minister Shane Ross. Super junior minister Finian McGrath, who also sits at the Cabinet table, said that ministers have a duty to sell the proposal at national and local level. “Every Cabinet minister has a responsibility to campaign actively both nationally and in their local constituencies. I personally am a member of the repeal in Dublin Bay North but ministers must go out and campaign as this is closer than people think,” he told the Irish Examiner. Mr McGrath called on his colleagues to read the report of the Oireachtas committee on the Eighth Amendment and see how and why the 12-week limit came about. Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has expressed his deep concerns and opposition to the proposal to allow abortions in the first three months of pregnancy but sources in Government have said he is unlikely to campaign against his colleagues. “He is unlikely to be in the vanguard in this debate as he has the scars of the 1983 campaign,” a source said. A spokesman for Mr Coveney said he fully supported the move to repeal the Eighth Amendment and would campaign for that. “He has some reservations with one aspect of the committee’s report, but ... Mr Harris’ job is to prepare legislation in line with the report and the Tánaiste’s opportunity to change legislation is in the Dail,” his spokesman said. Communications Minister Denis Naughten is said to be in favour of the referendum but is awaiting the wording of the legislation before he decides what to do further, his spokeswoman said. Business Minister Heather Humphreys is adopting a similar wait and see approach as is Education Minister Richard Bruton. Junior Defence Minister Paul Kehoe, who sits at Cabinet, told the Irish Examiner he is still considering what he called a “deeply personal and emotive issue”. “As I have already stated, I support the decision of the Government to put this issue to the people. I’m conscious that this is a deeply personal and emotive issue for people. I intend to give full consideration to the proposed legislation when it is published,” he said. Neither Rural Affairs Minister Michael Ring nor his adviser Daniel Rowan responded to several queries from the Irish Examiner yesterday. Ms Doherty, speaking yesterday, said those ministers advocating repeal would be out campaigning for a yes vote. She also strongly suggested the referendum could now be held in June as opposed to late May, which is the preference of Mr Harris. &ldq[...]



Coveney: 25% of Cork yet to be built

2018-02-20

A quarter of Cork’s footprint has yet to be built and the next 20 years will bring the biggest change to city and county since independence.

A quarter of Cork’s footprint has yet to be built and the next 20 years will bring the biggest change to city and county since independence.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney delivered that message to hundreds of business leaders in Cork, saying the city and county had to see a huge chunk of the €116bn national development plan in order to reach its potential and cater for a 60% rise in population.

He said Cork’s docklands was key to unlocking the city’s potential, as was constructing the M20 motorway between Cork and Limerick, and the eastern side of the Northern Ring Road to open up the northside of the city.

Buildings to rival Ireland’s tallest, the Elysian, could become commonplace, he said.

“In my view, the Elysian will be pretty commonplace along our quaysides in terms of setting a benchmark for height,” said Mr Coveney. “In fact, we may well go above it in terms of many of the new plans currently in train.”

He also said going back to the drawing board on the National Broadband Plan was not an option.

The plan has been under a cloud since Eir pulled out of the tendering process, leaving Enet as the sole bidder.

“What we are not going to do, because Eir pulled out, is start again. If we start again, we will be here in two or three years’ time in the same position we are in today. We will get to 100% coverage — it will be expensive but it is worth doing,” he said.

“We hope by September that the tendering process and the legals around it will be finalised so we can get on and spend in and around €300m-€400m. I expect to actually pay for or subsidise putting fibre into the ground in isolated or rural parts of Ireland to ensure we don’t have an urban-rural divide.”

News: 3

Business: 14

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Man blamed ‘white van’ for attack on teen girl

2018-02-20

A man claimed he was concerned about a suspicious white van in Macroom and this was why he grabbed a 16-year-old girl and dragged her into a building.

A man claimed he was concerned about a suspicious white van in Macroom and this was why he grabbed a 16-year-old girl and dragged her into a building.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin described the case as bizarre as he imposed a three-year jail term, with the last year suspended, on Shane O’Neill, aged 45, of Shanacashel, Kilmichael, Macroom, Co Cork.

O’Neill pleaded guilty to a charge of assault causing harm to the girl. Following his arrest on this charge, he tried to escape and assaulted gardaí in the process. He later pleaded guilty to charges arising out of that.

The judge said: “The circumstances of the assault on the girl were quite bizarre and worryingly there was no reason and no explanation.

“Months after the assault, he went to the Probation Service and he gave an explanation in relation to white vans in his head and convoluted this into the incident with the victim.”

Sgt Katrine Tansley said O’Neill was interviewed at length about the attack on the teenage girl. who was dragged around in the office building until she managed to escape. The sergeant said O’Neill never said anything about the white van.

Sgt Tansley said O’Neill cried twice and would talk about everything and anything rather than the matter under investigation and did not refer to the white van at any time during interview.

The defendant pleaded guilty to three additional charges namely attempting to escape from lawful custody at Macroom Garda Station on July 26, and assaulting Garda Carmel Nash and Garda Kieran Cremin at the garda station on that day.

Sgt Tansley said O’Neill asked to be taken to the bathroom and when at the sink he threw water at gardaí and pushed them out of his way. He ran into the yard at the back of the station and was re-arrested after a violent struggle.

Judge Ó Donnabháin imposed another one-year sentence on O’Neill on these charges but suspended the sentence.

The total prison sentence was two years, backdated to July.

Peter O’Flynn, defending, said the actions of the accused were out of character. He said the accused had come off a 12-hour shift and he believed that, two days earlier, the driver of a white van had tried to drive him off the road.

The victim in the case made no reference to the accused warning her about the danger from a white van.

She said he asked her the time and she told him it was 5pm. He repeatedly asked her the time until she showed him the time on her phone. He then accosted her, grabbed her by the arm, and forced her backwards.

She managed to escape and run up the stairs of the office, screaming for help. However, he caught her again, grabbed her by the arm and waist, and dragged her towards the door.

Sgt Tansley said the victim felt that he was trying to abduct or take her and she was highly distressed.

The victim said O’Neill scared the life out of her and since it occurred she was very nervous of strangers.

Judge Ó Donnabháin said the accused had little insight into what happened and accordingly may be a danger. He said that issue was unresolved.

“This was a terrifying incident, not properly explained by Mr O’Neill,” the judge said.

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Paedophile’s victims say abuse was known of for years

2018-02-20

Victims of paedophile basketball coach Bill Kenneally say they have evidence that gardaí suspected him of abusing children at least eight years earlier than has been acknowledged to date.

Victims of paedophile basketball coach Bill Kenneally say they have evidence that gardaí suspected him of abusing children at least eight years earlier than has been acknowledged to date.

They say officers who detained a child in Waterford over a juvenile matter in 1979 used the opportunity to ask him what he knew about Kenneally, who lived locally.

They also say they have learned that Kenneally was interviewed about an attack on a child in 1987 (for which he was not responsible) five months before the first formal complaint about him. Gardaí say they knew nothing before this complaint.

They have called for the commission of inquiry agreed by the Government in the wake of Kenneally’s conviction to begin without delay. Kenneally is appealing a 14-year term given in 2016 after he admitted 10 sample counts of indecently assaulting boys in Waterford between 1984 and 1987.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan has said an inquiry can not take place until criminal proceedings end.

A number of victims, who waived their anonymity, claimed this was a “cop out” and said the “substantial and systematic” cover-up of Kenneally’s activities by State agencies, the Catholic Church and local people of influence should not be delayed any further.

Jason Clancy, one of the group, said the truth needed to come out.

“We are not here for ourselves anymore,” said Mr Clancy. “This is about our children, this is about everybody’s children. Any child, if something happened them, should be able to go into a garda station and tell their story and have it dealt with properly whoever the accused is and that is still absolutely not the case.”

The group are supported by local Fianna Fáil member Kieran Hartley, who called on party leader Micheál Martin to make a statement detailing what he knew about Kenneally and when he was made aware of it.

Bill Kenneally’s cousin, former Fianna Fáil TD and minister of state Brendan Kenneally, has admitted he was told of abuse allegations in 2002 but did not report the matter to gardaí. Mr Hartley said the matter had brought Fianna Fáil into disrepute.

Fianna Fáil and the Department of Justice have been contacted for comment.

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UCC to invest €500k in Opera House partnership

2018-02-20

Student internships at Cork Opera House and a new postgraduate degree are part of a new partnership that will see University College Cork invest more than €500,000 in the cultural institution.

Student internships at Cork Opera House and a new postgraduate degree are part of a new partnership that will see University College Cork invest more than €500,000 in the cultural institution.

The funding from UCC’s non-taxpayer revenues will be spread over eight years and the university will get its name in lights over the Cork Opera House, replacing the Toyota signs that were recently removed at the end of a 30-year-old sponsorship deal.

One of three large signs showing the Cork Opera House and UCC logos, either side of the words “creating together”, has been erected on the fly tower above the city-centre building. It will be lit from below at night, like the Toyota sign that preceded it, and two similar signs will be placed on the tower’s north and west facades.

In return for its €60,000-plus-VAT annual investment, UCC will get to send students on internships with the theatre in areas including management, marketing, business development, and the more creative side for skills like lighting, sound and costume design.

An MA in Arts and Cultural management is being developed and is due to admit the first students from next year in a collaboration between Cork Opera House and UCC’s school of music and theatre.

The head of the school, Jools Gilson, said the partnership brings two worlds together and provides a missing piece of the puzzle.

“We have a scholarship, lively debate, exploration, and a great deal of practice-based learning in the performing arts, but we can’t replicate what it means to run a successful venue,” said Prof Gilson.

“This collaboration offers our students this practical hands-on opportunity to intern in a lively opera house in areas from stage management to marketing.”

Cork Opera House chief executive Eibhlín Gleeson said the new partners want to create a city where the arts can thrive, and she believes the deal will have a long-lasting impact on the arts scene.

“We are developing and mentoring the people who will become the producers, arts managers, technicians and heads of arts institutions in Cork and beyond,” said Ms Gleeson, herself a UCC graduate.

The creation of a theatre artist-in-residence role will see development work being done at the Opera House which will inform his or her contribution to teaching at UCC. The university will be given preferential rates to use the 900-seat auditorium for student events and conferences which, it said, would give the city a major economic boost.

A PhD research programme will be jointly funded by the two institutions to explore the Opera House’s impact on Cork and the region. This will initially support one researcher but that may be expanded later.

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Pensioner killed when garden wall fell due to building work

2018-02-20

A West Cork pensioner was out enjoying his garden on an autumn day when a block wall fell on top of him, killing him outright.A West Cork pensioner was out enjoying his garden on an autumn day when a block wall fell on top of him, killing him outright.The construction firm which was doing extension works for a neighbouring pizza restaurant was before Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday. Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin imposed a €25,000 fine on McCarthy Greenbuild Construction Ltd, which entered a plea of guilty to the charge of exposing a member of the public to risk contrary to health and safety legislation. The charge stated that, on September 15, 2014, at the rear of Padraigín’s Pizza on St Patrick’s Quay, Bandon, Co Cork, McCarthy Greenbuild Construction Ltd failed to manage and conduct its undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that in the course of work activities, namely the building of a structure at the rear of this premises, an individual, namely William O’Driscoll, was not exposed to risks to his safety, health, or welfare, and that, as a consequence of this failure, he suffered personal injury and died. The late Mr O’Driscoll’s widow, Nell O’Driscoll, said in her victim impact statement: “The initial shock and the continuing sense of loss is with me since and still persists to this day. Billy loved his garden and treasured his time in our garden and his workshop. Every time I look out or venture into the garden there is a constant, never-ending reminder of this terrible event which caused such tragedy. “We were married for 50 years and we were both enjoying the peace and tranquillity of our retirement and the companionship which we all take for granted until it is wrenched from us.” Judge Ó Donnabháin said that one does not have to be an engineer or a builder to appreciate how potentially lethal the piece of work that was being undertaken. “It is 40 years since I had a shovel in my hand, he said. “Even to me, it was manifestly dangerous.” Health and safety inspector Frances Murphy gave evidence of the background to the accident. Ms Murphy said construction work was being undertaken to extend storage areas at the back of the pizza restaurant. She said that in-fill material was being loaded against the wall on the restaurant side and the wall could not withstand the load. Two lorry-loads of material had been piled against and a third load was being unloaded when the wall collapsed. Ms Murphy reported that it was a difficult site to work on as the area was tight and very sloped. Judge Ó Donnabháin said the wall was in no way sufficient for the load going against it, taking account of the slopes. “You are tossing in-fill into an ordinary brick wall,” he said. “It cannot withstand it. This was never going to work.” Donal McCarthy, defence barrister, said the wall was not on to a public roadway. Ms Murphy said: “It was a boundary wall with this gentleman’s garden.” Mr McCarthy said the job was probably beyond the means of a small company, which only employed one person — a small company doing a small job in an Irish country town. “He is not trying to excuse himself,” said Mr McCarthy. “He is the one who is most upset. He accepts in hindsight he should have done more. “He is not trying to explain or excuse what happened. He is horrified by what happened.”[...]



Minister denies confusing repeal issue, says vote may be held in June

2018-02-20

Employment Affairs Minister Regina Doherty denies that Government figures are “muddying the waters” over the referendum on the Eighth Amendment and has also suggested that the vote might now go ahead in June.

Employment Affairs Minister Regina Doherty denies that Government figures are “muddying the waters” over the referendum on the Eighth Amendment and has also suggested that the vote might now go ahead in June.

Clarifying comments where she said the Government could lose the referendum, the Fine Gael minister said those ministers advocating repeal will be out campaigning for a yes vote.

However, the Irish Examiner understands that no official decision has been taken by Fine Gael about campaigning or funding for a referendum position, with just weeks before the wording is published. Officials with Fine Gael’s national executive have not discussed this and no funding has been set aside for any campaign.

Ms Doherty played down her weekend comments to reporters yesterday after she warned that with the current mixed poll results that the no side could win.

She said she is fully supportive of repeal and of the proposal to allow abortion without reservation up to the 12th week of pregnancy — the position adopted by the Government after Oireachtas Committee recommendations.

“On the basis of the poll yesterday [Sunday], there are obviously a very large cohort of people in this country who have a problem with 12 weeks,” said Ms Doherty. “I think unless we provide them with factual, medical, and clinical evidence that was presented to the Oireachtas committee and the Citizen’ Assembly, they won’t know where we came from with the 12 weeks.

“So there is a body of work that needs to be done here between now and the referendum, whenever it is in May or June, or it’s not going to pass itself.”

Ms Doherty also said she thinks her comments are being “jumped on”.

“We haven’t started the campaign yet,” she said. “Every time I seem to open my mouth, people jump on it because it means something other than what it actually means.”

Asked if Fine Gael or ministers will take a lead in the campaign, she replied: “I think you will see some Fine Gael people expressing the views that are supporting the Government position or some Fine Gaelers who have different views, that just reflects Irish society.”

However, some ministers have expressed reservations about the 12-week proposal. This may divide Cabinet members when the campaign begins. Asked if their positions are muddying the waters for the vote, Ms Doherty said: “I reject that, I don’t think there is anyone creating problems or muddying the waters. You have people reflecting their own personal views which is what we are accepting with a vote of conscience with no [party] whip in here. I wouldn’t expect anybody with personal views to campaign for something they don’t believe.”

She also suggests the vote could go ahead in June, later than expected and a situation which could likely see fewer younger people vote as colleges will be closed.

“The campaign is not going to be starting in earnest until a number of weeks before the referendum,” she said. “A date hasn’t even been set yet, it will most likely be June.”

Meanwhile, the Cabinet will discuss the wording for the referendum today.

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Investment needed to speed up journey times, says Bus Éireann manager

2018-02-20

Significant Government investment is needed in Cork to build more dedicated bus lanes to speed up journey times which are grinding to a snail’s pace at peak hours.

Significant Government investment is needed in Cork to build more dedicated bus lanes to speed up journey times which are grinding to a snail’s pace at peak hours.

That is according to Bus Éireann regional manager, Martin Walsh, who says surveys show the average speed buses achieve during peak hours in bus lanes is around 22km/hr and where there is no bus lane it drops to 2-3km/hr.

Mr Walsh said that, each day, there are 2,637 bus movements through the city and 972 through the highly congested Patrick St. He said there are 25 pinch points in the city and suburbs which are holding up services.

“There needs to be serious investment in creating additional street space for bus lanes,” said Mr Walsh.

He said the percentage of missed trips rises between September and December, mainly because of an increase in schools and college traffic.

He made his comments at a meeting of the Ballincollig/Carrigaline municipal district council, where he addressed local public representatives who raised a number of issues about buses which are often late and sometimes do not turn up at all.

“The main issue is traffic congestion,” he said. “Cork [bus passenger] growth is greater than anywhere else in the country, including Dublin. We’ve hired over 100 drivers in the last four years.”

Mr Walsh said fares were also cut last December in a large part of Cork, which is adding to passenger levels.

He added that Bus Éireann is having to use more contractors and has notices up in depots asking its drivers to do overtime.

Independent councillor Marcia D’Alton said a park and ride facility should be created at Shannon Park, near Carrigaline to serve the thousands of employees working in Ringaskiddy. Mr Walsh agreed with her, but said it would not work unless a dedicated bus corridor is created along that road.

He was told that some recently-lengthened bus routes, which cover west-east and north to south suburb journeys, and vice versa, are leading to delays. Fine Gael councillor Derry Canty said this is particularly the case with the Ballincollig-Carrigaline service and people often miss vital connections. Fianna Fáil councillor Seamus McGrath said he got many complaints from people who missed exams or important appointments as a result.

Mr Walsh said the frequency of the 220 and 220x which serve the Carrigaline area will be increased later this year to every 15 minutes from the current 30 minutes.

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Cork City’s skyline set for dramatic transformation

2018-02-20

A quarter of Cork’s footprint has yet to be built and the city centre will look dramatically different in 20 years to what it does now.A quarter of Cork’s footprint has yet to be built and the city centre will look dramatically different in 20 years to what it does now.That is according to Tánaiste Simon Coveney, who was speaking to business leaders in Cork about the €116bn national development plan’s impact on the city and county in the next two decades. At Cork Chamber’s sold-out ‘Future of Cork’ event at the Clayton Hotel, Mr Coveney said Cork’s population will grow 60% by 2040, with 2m people living in the South. In order to make it more livable, a viable alternative to Dublin, and to “dramatically change the face of the city”, Cork needed the major investment promised under the national plan, he said. “At the end of the next 20 years, with the redrawn boundary, we’ll have somewhere between 320,000-360,000 people,” said Mr Coveney. “That is the kind of change Cork City has not seen since independence.” The Docklands will be a huge part of the solution, and €90m being spent on the redevelopment of the Port of Cork in Ringaskiddy is key to that. “It clears the way for significant Docklands development over the next 10 years,” said Mr Coveney. “It creates space, growth and oxygen for the city to grow outwards and upwards.” An artist’s impression of the completed Maldron Hotel on Cork’s South Mall. There will be major building upwards in the coming years, with green spaces and amenities within the city centre protected when the boundary is extended, said Mr Coveney. The tallest building in Ireland may not hold that record for long under the new plan, he added. “We need to drive the vast majority of our new development, still within the current city boundaries, even though we will of course still see population growth happen outside of that in the broader city area also,” said Mr Coveney. “Just because we draw a boundary that actually brings in a whole load of new green areas into the city, that have an opportunity for development, doesn’t mean we fill it with houses. “That would fundamentally undermine the sustainability of the city we all love. Instead what we are going to see is a lot of new buildings along the quaysides, and much higher buildings. Buildings that can follow the lead of the Elysian. “In my view, the Elysian will be pretty commonplace along our quaysides in terms of setting a benchmark for height. In fact, we may well go above it in terms of many of the new plans in train.” A side view of how the office scheme proposed by John Cleary Developments for Cork City’s South Mall will look on completion. Cork’s road network will have to be upgraded to prove “all roads don’t lead to Dublin”, said Mr Coveney. Cork’s northside will finally be an area of major focus, he added. “We are trying to create other networks between Cork, Limerick, Galway, and Sligo that can try to rebalance the road network away from a hub and spoke mechanism where Dublin is the centre of everything. This is about trying to create growth centres outside of Dublin. A very important element for many people on the northside of the city, and for businesses, we are going to do half of the Northern Ring Road. The Eastern half. That will link the motorway from Limerick to the motorway from Dublin, and is the important side to get done first. “The Northern Ring Road is[...]



800 on housing list don’t use Cork website

2018-02-20

Nearly 800 people on the housing waiting list do not log onto Cork County Council’s online system, which offers vacant houses to new tenants, because they do not have access to the internet or do not know how to use it.Nearly 800 people on the housing waiting list do not log onto Cork County Council’s online system, which offers vacant houses to new tenants, because they do not have access to the internet or do not know how to use it.Nearly 800 people on the housing waiting list do not log onto Cork County Council’s online system, which offers vacant houses to new tenants, because they do not have access to the internet or do not know how to use it. A survey, carried out by the local authority on its Choice-Based Letting (CBL) system, has highlighted why people on the waiting list are unable to access the online system. The council puts up details every week of houses which become vacant, and it asks people on the waiting list to register their interest in them. Council officials carried out a recent survey of those who had not logged onto the system. The officials found that 500 respondents do not know how to use CBL and a further 299 do not have any internet access. Nearly 300 more said they had lost their CBL user ID number, and so it was resent to them. Internet connectivity seems to be a more significant problem in rural areas. A breakdown showed that only 65% of eligible applicants had logged into CBL in West Cork, while the figure was 68% in North Cork. However, in the southern Cork division, which primarily covers a number of large towns on the periphery of Cork City, the figure is far higher, at 77%. A number of councillors said internet connectivity is a major issue in rural areas and many older people are not computer-literate. Some 7,190 CBL user ID cards were issued to housing applicants. To date, 5,137 of them have logged onto the system. The largest number of log-ons has been in the southern division, numbering 2,733. North Cork has 1,215 log-ons and West Cork is bottom of the list, with 1,189. While there remain teething problems with the system, council officials say they are happy with CBL, as usage is increasing. To date, 246 properties have been advertised online, of which 245 have been given to new tenants. Fifteen people who had been offered houses turned them down at the last minute. Council officials told a meeting of the northern division, in Mallow, that there were 231,412 online expressions of interest for all the properties advertised online so far. Cllr Kay Dawson said she knows of a number of elderly people who could not cope with computers and are, therefore, at a disadvantage. Cllr June Murphy agreed with her and said that she had helped a number of people with logging onto the system. She said that this was more prevalent in rural areas. Cllr Noel McCarthy said that broadband connectivity was also a major issue for people living in rural areas. Council officials said they were open to training people to use CBL and that this could be provided in their divisional offices in County Hall, Mallow, Clonakilty, and some other venues. The council also has CBL-accessing computers in these venues, which can be used by people who do not have access to the internet. Officials said they would provide training on a one-to-one basis, if so required. They told county councillors that if they know of people who need training, they should get them to contact their local council office and arrange an appointment.[...]



One Big Switch aims for energy discounts for consumers

2018-02-20

A campaign that aims to get discounts for consumers via collective bargaining says it will now look to encourage energy companies to reward loyal customers as well as new account holders.

A campaign that aims to get discounts for consumers via collective bargaining says it will now look to encourage energy companies to reward loyal customers as well as new account holders.

One Big Switch uses a group switching strategy to sign up thousands of consumers and then offers their custom en masse to whatever provider offers the best deal.

It says it needs 10,000 new registrants to bring their membership to 130,000, which it will then offer as part of its Big Energy Switch campaign for cheaper electricity and gas.

For the first time, One Big Switch says it will demand that energy providers looking to service the campaign’s members must also make the deal available to its existing customers.

The campaign said that utilities can offer discounts worth up to €400 to new customers that are not available to existing account holders, amounting to a ‘loyalty tax’ on those who don’t switch providers.

“Irish energy is up there with the most expensive in Europe, just ask the families out there paying for it; it’ll come as little surprise,” said David Liston, One Big Switch’s director of campaigns.

“What is surprising that four in every five of those families are still paying a loyalty tax by sitting on base rates, paying far too much for their electricity and gas.

“We want the Big Energy Switch campaign to work again and inspire a retailer to not only offer a great group-discount to new customers, but to their current loyal customers also. We need 10,000 more members to give us the immediately critical buying power to do this.”

Members of the public can join the Big Energy Switch without cost or obligation by visiting onebigswitch.ie

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35 die of measles across Europe as outbreaks increase 400%

2018-02-20

Measles cases escalated across Europe last year, with significant outbreaks affecting one in four countries, it has emerged.

Measles cases escalated across Europe last year, with significant outbreaks affecting one in four countries, it has emerged.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said 21,315 people were affected by measles and 35 deaths from the disease last year. The surge follows a record low of 5,273 cases in 2016.

The WHO’s Regional Office for Europe said the disease had “rebounded”, with a 400% increase in measles cases, compared to 2016.

“Over 20,000 cases of measles and 35 lives lost in 2017 alone are a tragedy we simply cannot accept,” said Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO regional director for Europe.

She said every person affected by measles was a reminder that unvaccinated children and adults, regardless of where they lived, remain at risk of spreading it to others who might not be able to get vaccinated.

“Elimination of both measles and rubella is a priority goal that all European countries have firmly committed to, and a cornerstone for achieving the health-related sustainable goals,” said Dr Jakab. “This short-term setback cannot deter us from our commitment to be the generation that frees our children from these diseases once and for all.”

The increase in cases last year included large outbreaks (100 or more cases) in 15 of the 53 countries in the region, including Britain where there were 282.

There were 21 confirmed cases of measles last year in Ireland, but already this year there have been 28, according to latest statistics.

According to the WHO, Romania was the worst affected last year with 5,562 cases, followed by Italy with 5,006 and Ukraine registering 4,769.

Meanwhile, figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre show that, over the first six weeks of last year, there was just one confirmed case of measles reported in Ireland.

However, the HSE is currently working to control a measles outbreak in Limerick. Most of those affected are children under four years of age.

The health authority reported last week that 13 cases had been confirmed — 12 in Limerick and one linked case in Dublin. Other possible cases are being investigated.

People who have not been fully vaccinated with the measles mumps and rubella (MMR) two-dose vaccine or those who have not had measles in the past are most at risk of getting the disease that can kill or cause long-term damage.

One in every 1,000 children affected develops encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain that can cause deafness or learning difficulties.

Editorial: 10

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Victim’s family hit out at drink driving culture

2018-02-20

The heartbroken family of an 18-year-old cyclist who was fatally injured by the careless driving of a motorist have been left to wonder how any driver could go on the road after drinking.The heartbroken family of an 18-year-old cyclist who was fatally injured by the careless driving of a motorist have been left to wonder how any driver could go on the road after drinking.Sean Collins, aged 70, of The Bungalow, Threegneeves, Leap, Co Cork, pleaded guilty to charges of driving without due care and attention thereby causing the death of Stefan Cooper at Barley Hill, Roscarberry. Collins also pleaded guilty to driving a car with excess alcohol — 140 mgs of alcohol per 100 mls of blood at a time when the limit was 50 mgs. He had a previous drink-driving conviction from 2006. At Cork Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin imposed a one-year suspended jail term for the careless driving causing death, a €500 fine for the drink driving, and a disqualification from driving for five years. Defence barrister Donal O’Sullivan asked the judge to consider the dependence of the defendant’s housebound wife on him. Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said: “This is a very sad case where a young man was killed on the road. This man collided with him on a dark, wet, miserable night in March 2016. The boy on the bike had neither lighting nor visibility jacket. He was wearing dark clothing. Attention was brought to him being on the road by other road users. The others saw him [the cyclist] but avoided him. This man [the defendant] obviously was not keeping a proper lookout. “That, to me, is the kernel of the case. The fundamental, basic duty on all car drivers is to keep a proper lookout.” The judge noted from the deceased’s father’s victim impact statement that no sentence on the defendant would ameliorate the suffering of the Cooper family. Giving the background to the incident, Detective Garda Mark Curtis said one motorist who passed the man shortly before the accident saw that he was about a metre out from the hard shoulder and he turned his car to go back to offer him a lift home. However, the fatal accident had occurred before this motorist made it back. Stefan’s father, Christy, said: “I had to identify the victim of a road traffic accident on Barley Hill as my 18-year-old son, Stefan. Once I had done this I knew that, before long, this information would be on social media and Stefan’s two sisters were at home on their own. I had to make the most difficult decision of my life, whether to stay with Stefan and risk my girls finding out about his death from someone else. Eventually I had to leave my son on the side of a wet road in the company of strangers to protect my daughters. “A short time later, I was once again the bearer of bad news that would change our lives together.” Stefan’s mother died in October 2007 from cancer. Stefan had been studying horticulture in Bantry and his family recalled that he was never happier than when he was working away in his polytunnel. “Stefan was an outgoing, happy, talkative young man, who worked with me and accompanied me on most journeys when not at his course. I miss him terribly,” Christy said . “Stefan was a fit, handsome, intelligent, funny, decent and kind young man who never got the opportunity to fulfil his undoubted potential. Our lives are shattered. Our hearts are broken.” Mic[...]



Kinsale takes ambitious step to eliminate single-use plastic

2018-02-20

A town which was the scene of a pivotal battle in Irish history has declared war on plastic.

A town which was the scene of a pivotal battle in Irish history has declared war on plastic.

The community initiative launched in Kinsale, Co Cork, aims to reduce unnecessary plastic use and increase recycling rates as part of an ambitious drive to eliminate single-use.

The brainchild of archaeologist Madeleine Murray and environmental scientist Tara Shine, the Plastic Free Kinsale project will host its first public event, a recycling workshop, on Thursday.

Ms Shine said some plastic is unavoidable but they hope the initiative will reduce usage of plastic packaging — especially single-use plastic items.

“We all see the plastic washed up on our beaches and get frustrated with the amount of plastic packaging we end up with when we do our shopping,” she said.

“Hopefully Plastic Free Kinsale can help to empower more of us to make a difference through our actions.”

Ms Murray said they hope to play a small part in making sustainability smarter and more convenient.

“We are giving the right information in a user-friendly way. It is great to see the positive reactions we are getting around the town and further afield,” she said.

The town’s plastic-free initiative was launched after a focus group of local householders and businesses who said they wanted to reduce waste and live healthy, sustainable lives, but felt overwhelmed and frustrated by the information available around recycling options.

The campaign, targeting homes, business, clubs and schools, offers three simple tips on how each can reduce their plastic waste.

Workshops, presentations, beach cleans and family events will be organised throughout the year.

Ireland is one of Europe’s top five producers of plastic waste — producing 61kg per person, per year. China, which accepted 95% of Ireland’s plastic for recycling in 2016, has signalled that it will no longer accept our waste.

Thursday’s workshop takes place at the Kinsale Friary at 7.30pm.

You can find out more
about the initiative on
plasticfreekinsale.com

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‘Extra teachers needed for religion alternative’

2018-02-20

Education Minister Richard Bruton is under pressure to provide the extra staff to allow students to be offered alternative subjects, in place of religion, at hundreds of second-level schools.Education Minister Richard Bruton is under pressure to provide the extra staff to allow students to be offered alternative subjects, in place of religion, at hundreds of second-level schools.Despite his insistence that a directive to give some second-level students an opt-out from religious instruction would not require extra staffing, representatives of schools and teachers said there will be resourcing implications. The Department of Education has told 300 second-level community and multi-denominational schools, managed by education and training boards (ETBs), that children must be allowed to opt out of religious instruction. However, instead of being told they should instead sit in the library or at the back of a classroom, any students availing of the option must be offered an alternative subject. The department told the Irish Examiner last week that the process was not about adding further subject choices to the timetable. However, yesterday, Mr Bruton told RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke radio programme that schools would have to provide the extra choice without additional staff. “We’re not providing extra resources, as part of this, because it’s really about reconfiguring their offering. It’s a question of extending the hours of some subjects and reducing the hours of others, or reducing the amount of timetabling for other subject areas, depending on demand,” the minister said. His comments were rejected by Michael Moriarty, general secretary of Education and Training Boards Ireland (ETBI), which represents the 16 ETBs. Their schools, Mr Moriarty said, would survey parents, as required by the department. However, he said that there would be a high demand for students to opt out of religious instruction, particularly from senior-cycle students, who may wish to take an additional Leaving Certificate subject. “The circular [letter from the department] looks for alternative, parallel teaching of another subject and that’s going to have resourcing implications, no matter what the minister says,” said Mr Moriarty. The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) also said it had serious concerns over the failure of the minister to provide resourcing for this measure. “Other subject options will have to be provided at the time that religion takes place. “Quite clearly, this will require the employment of additional teachers in schools,” the union said. The TUI said that offering extra hours in some subject areas would add to severe difficulties around the recruitment and retention of teachers across a growing range of subjects, an issue the union said is due to pay inequality. The question of teacher shortages will be addressed this afternoon by TDs and senators, when they meet with representatives of schools, teachers, and other education bodies. The issue was discussed at a consultative forum, last week, organised by the Teaching Council. The latter will be represented at a hearing of the Oireachtas education committee. The committee will also hear submissions from the ETBI, Catholic Primary Schools’ Management Association, and organisations representing primary- and second-level principals, and the boards of special schools an[...]



€9m contract signed to provide 49 council houses

2018-02-20

Cork County Council has signed a contract worth over €9m to deliver 49 council houses in one of the country’s largest commuter towns.

Cork County Council has signed a contract worth over €9m to deliver 49 council houses in one of the country’s largest commuter towns.

The scheme in Kilnagleary, Carrigaline, is one of a number in development as the local authority looks to reduce a waiting list that stood at over 4,500 at the end of 2017.

The development of two, three and four bedroom two storey houses will be built by MMD Construction (Cork) Ltd following the signing of a contract by its director Cormac Smith, county deputy mayor Ian Doyle, and council chief executive Tim Lucey.

The €9.2m development of a greenfield site forms part of the council’s social housing capital programme which, it says, will make 570 additional units of social housing available in 2018, and over 3,000 dwellings by 2021.

Mr Doyle said the council has an ambitious housing construction programme.

“The Kilnagleary development will provide much needed social housing in areas of high demand,” he said. “This is indicative of the great progress being made in the delivery of high-quality housing, in requested areas, to the highest of design standards.”

Mr Lucey said the programme will meet targets set by the Department of Housing, Planning, Community, and Local Government’s ‘Rebuilding Ireland’ plan.

“The Kilnagleary development is the latest in a number of schemes that will be progressed this year,” said Mr Lucey. “Construction is already underway on a project in Macroom and developments will shortly commence in Cloyne, Kanturk, and Blarney.”

Last month, it was revealed that the council’s housing waiting list had risen by 8% over 2017.

The total number waiting for housing increased by 350, from 4,241 in 2016 to 4,591 in 2017. Figures released to Fianna Fáil TD for Cork South-West Margaret Murphy O’Mahony showed the number of people waiting for a home for over seven years has grown by 7.3%.

Last week, Cork county councillors backed a motion calling on the Government to create a national emergency committee to tackle the housing crisis, after it emerged that 83 of the 4,591 on the waiting list are classified as homeless.

The council said the Kilnagleary housing scheme has been conceived as “an outward looking scheme, facing onto existing boundaries, each of which has a public activity, including public roads, schools, a tennis club and a GAA pitch”.

“The layout is made up of three distinct clusters, each arranged in a pinwheel of terraces of houses,” said the council. “The pinwheel form is emphasised and characterised by the four gables of each cluster.

“The terraces are limited in size such that the scheme achieves a sense of scale, providing a sense of community and unity of place.”

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