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Updated: 2018-03-24T16:08:58+00:00


Remembering the Tuskar Rock tragedy of 1968


Fifty years ago today, 61 people were killed when an Aer Lingus plane crashed on a flight from Cork to London, and left many with questions on what caused the tragedy, writes Caroline O’Doherty.Fifty years ago today, 61 people were killed when an Aer Lingus plane crashed on a flight from Cork to London, and left many with questions on what caused the tragedy, writes Caroline O’Doherty.The migratory swans that overwintered in Ireland took their cue to leave from the rising temperatures of spring so they were in no hurry to depart in the early months of 1968. February and March had been colder than usual and like the weather of recent weeks, many areas were affected by repeated falls of snow. But eventually, the pull of the breeding grounds proved too strong and in the latter half of March, the Bewick’s swans began setting off for their summer home in Siberia and the whoopers for Iceland. Their route took them across the south and east coast of the country where they stopped to feed at coastal wetlands, packing on weight for the long journey ahead. The report of the investigation into the loss of Aer Lingus Flight 712 on a bright, clear Sunday morning 50 years ago today stated: “There seems little doubt that swan migrations from Kerry, Shannon, Galway etc were on collision courses with the track of EI-AOM.” EI-AOM, the official registration of the Vickers Viscount aircraft, St Phelim, went down close to Tuskar Rock, about eight miles off the Wexford coast while on route from Cork to London, killing all 61 people on board. Many theories have emerged over the years to try to explain the crash, the most intriguing and enduring of all being an accidental missile or drone strike from the Royal Air Force baseat Aberporth in Wales,perfectly positioned along the St Phelim’s flight path. Bird strike was in the mix too, and it remains on the list of possible causes in the last official investigation report from 2002, although there is no hard evidence to support it. Lack of hard evidence or, some would say, lack of will to find it, has hung over the tragedy for the last 50 years. Cork woman Celine O’Donoghue was a 14-year-old schoolgirl when she witnessed her mother’s heartbreak at losing her sister and two young nieces in the crash. Celine’s Auntie Eileen and her cousins, Marion, aged 16, and Paula, just two years old, all members of the Gallivan family, were among the 47 victims whose remains were never found. “They got Paula’s coat and doll but there was no other trace of them,” she recalls. There would be criticism later that not enough effort was made to recover the dead. Local trawlers that came to help were turned away from the crash site in case their nets disturbed the wreckage which was not located for some months and never fully recovered. Transport minister Erskine Childers would tell the Dáil in answer to questions in May that year that he was satisfied “the best available methods and equipment are being used in the search” and that “everything reasonably possible is being done to locate the wreckage”. But a review in the year 2000 of the original investigation completed in 1970 noted that the State did not have a sufficiently equipped naval service to carry out the search and rescue operation and stated: “The lack of a financial commitment to indefinitely fund the search and salvage operation may have contributed to its limited success.” From today’s perspective, it seems unthinkable not to have thrown everything at the salvage effort, but Celine says questioning authority was not part of the culture at the time. “Not in the Ireland of 1968. We were still nearly fairy and leprechaun country at that point. People were lucky to have landline phones. Computers hadn’t even started,” she says. “Anything was possible in those days because nobody had any way of knowing otherwise. You can not talk in the language of 2018 for 50 years ago.” Ultimately it was not another language[...]

NAGP defends financial position amid viability concerns


The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) has had to defend its financial position amid concerns about its ongoing viability.

The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) has had to defend its financial position amid concerns about its ongoing viability.

At its AGM in Cork yesterday, outgoing NAGP president Dr Emmet Kerin said members had voiced concerns in a number of areas,  including the association's financial viability; it's relationship with MSC Eurocare, an organisation that helps patients get medical treatment abroad, and use of its "fighting fund" , money collected from members to fight legal cases.

Dr Kerin said he wanted to address these issues as the NAGP had as its genesis a desire "to be different in terms of being transparent and upfront".

He said an emergency meeting had taken place, at which all members of the NAGP national council were present, and they had come up with a plan of action around what needed to be done. He said some of this had been communicated to members.

He described the issues raised as "very serious". He said the organisation had produced audited accounts to show that it was solvent "so there isn't an issue there".

In terms of the NAGP's relationship with MSC Eurocare, he said national council had taken the view some time ago that it should champion the EU Cross Border Directive on Healthcare to give access to patients on waiting lists for procedures such as cataract removal or knee replacements. He said their relationship with MSC involved giving advice on what hospitals the NAGP thought were appropriate for people to attend.

"And in that capacity, members of the NAGP went to hospitals and looked at them." He said while accommodation and travel expenses were covered, and GPs did endorse certain hospitals, "there wasn't any fee or money taken in terms of gratuity". He said it was "above board".

In relation to the NAGP's "fighting fund", he said they had raised 168,000e from members - well off its one million euro target-   and had ended up spending 220,000e, "mostly on the under sixes case". The NAGP launched a legal challenge to the HSE's plan for free GP care for under sixes. It wanted the scheme postponed until the NAGP had the opportunity to negotiate on behalf of its members.

However it withdrew its challenge following advice that it was likely to fail and the association would be liable for costs.

Dr Kerin said they also took advice on a number of other legal cases. He said they had commissioned "an independent case study of this and we can bring that detail to you as to where that money went."

Referring to four resignations from the national council and national executive, including incoming president Dr Yvonne Williams; chair of communications, Dr Liam Glynn, and GPs Dr Lucia and Dr Shane Corr, Dr Kerin said serving on the council was a "fulltime job" and "you can appreciate that there can be frustrations in that".

"We did lose members and that's a regret," he said.

The AGM continues today. The chairman's report and the CEO's report - Dr Andrew Jordan and Dr Chris Goodey respectively - will be put before the members.



Judges bill is ‘a dog’s dinner’, says AG


Appointments bill ‘in poor state’ over amendments by oppositionAppointments bill ‘in poor state’ over amendments by oppositionTransport Minister Shane Ross’s controversial bill to overhaul the appointment of judges is a “dog’s dinner” and needs significant work, if it is to be viable, Attorney General Seamus Woulfe has said. Mr Woulfe, speaking at an event in Dublin, said the bill — which was the cause of a major row at the Cabinet, earlier this week — is in a poor state, because of amendments made by opposition TDs at committee stage. Mr Woulfe said that many of the amendments made by the opposition were “contradictory, inconsistent, and unconstitutional”. “Among a whole myriad of amendments, which they made, which make the bill a complete dog’s dinner, at the moment, because a number of the amendments are contradictory, inconsistent, and unconstitutional,” he said. Tensions are escalating within the Cabinet at the slow progress of the bill, despite it being in the Programme for Government and despite a commitment from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that it would be fast-tracked. As a result of the amendments, Mr Woulfe indicated that Mr Ross’s demand that the bill should be introduced to the Dáil next week is very unlikely to be met. “Therefore,” Mr Woulfe said, “it makes it a challenge to get the bill to report stage, very soon, and tidy up all that. “I am sure, under new politics, a deal will be done, involving various government ministers and opposition parties, and we await, with interest, over the next few days, how that will pan out”. At an event for the Association of European Journalists, Mr Woulfe talked about the role of the attorney general and how, traditionally, it has played an important role in the selection of judges. However, at committee stage, opposition TDs voted to remove the attorney general from the process, which Mr Woulfe described as “an absolutely crazy thing to do”. “The attorney has a role in judicial appointments, as being a link person with the bar and knowing the people, knowing the candidates and the judges. Under the new Judicial Appointments Bill, the opposition decided to abolish me at committee stage, by 5-3, to knock the attorney out. Widely thought, not just because it is me, to be an absolutely crazy thing to do, down in the legal system,” he said. “Because, hopefully, the AG is a good link person, and knows something about the candidates. But 5-3 went the votes, including my good friend, Jim O’Callaghan, who voted, along with Clare Daly and Mick Wallace and two others, against the three Government people,” Mr Woulfe said. As attorney general, Mr Woulfe does not often speak in public and his comments are sure to be met with some shock and hostility by the Independent Alliance, which is demanding swift movement on this bill. A Fine Gael party supporter, he was appointed by Mr Varadkar last summer. As revealed by the Irish Examiner, three judicial appointments were only approved by Cabinet last Tuesday, following “an almighty dust-up” between Fine Gael and Independent Alliance ministers. Mr Ross and super-junior health minister, Finian McGrath, became embroiled in a heated row with colleagues, especially Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, according to sources, and threatened to block any further appointments, unless the bill was pushed through the Dáil and Seanad. Mr Ross, who is the chief sponsor of the bill, was “up in arms” over the delays, while Mr McGrath strongly reminded his Fine Gael colleagues that it is a priority in the Programme for Government. The Independent Alliance has said its support for the appointment of any future judges is dependent on progress on this bill and it cannot be guaranteed. Mr Flanagan has said work on the bill is progressing and should be back in the Dáil, for enactment, “within a few w[...]

‘Significant rise’ in homicide stats after review


There will be a “significant increase” to previous homicide statistics when the CSO resumes publication of crime data next week.

There will be a “significant increase” to previous homicide statistics when the CSO resumes publication of crime data next week.

The rise follows an in-depth review by the CSO of homicide data going back to 2003 and an examination of 41 cases by gardaí between 2013 and 2015.

There have been no official crime statistics for a year after the CSO decided to defer publication over the quality of homicide figures.

The CSO said it has now decided to publish homicide figures “under reservation”, meaning it continues to have concerns over their quality.

The CSO will next Wednesday publish a table of previously recorded homicide figures and along with that produce updated data.

The move by the CSO is separate to a review by the Policing Authority and the Garda Síochána regarding the classification and investigation of homicides.

Olive Loughnane, a CSO statistician, said the new data will show a “significant increase” to previous homicide statistics, and that the change is “quite stark”.

Ms Loughnane said this was due to two sets of changes, the first being the Garda review of 41 cases between 2013-2015 that resulted in 12 crimes being upgraded to homicide.

She said that when the CSO learned of this internal review, they started conducting a detailed examination of homicide incidents, and identified separate issues.

Ms Loughnane stressed that the homicide figures were being published with a heavy caveat: “There is a public interest in resuming publication, but it is important to state that they are being published in a new category of ‘under reservation’ — that there are serious deficits in the data.

“We have taken the decision to publish the best available data in order to address the information void.”

She said there had been a lot of co-operation with the Garda Data Quality Team.

She said there was an ongoing review by gardaí of homicides going back to 2003 which could result in further revisions.

Meanwhile, a Garda public attitudes survey has found that only 35% of people thought the Garda Síochána provided a world-class service (down 5%) and just 38% believed it was well managed (down 7%).

In contrast, 87% thought members of the force were friendly or helpful, and 88% had mid-to-high trust in the organisation.

Some 70% were satisfied or very satisfied with the service provided by the force.

Some 72% perceived national crime to be either a serious or very serious problem, but only 19% said the same about their locality.

Satisfaction rates among victims of crime who reported it to gardaí fell 7%, to 55%. Deputy commissioner John Twomey described that particular finding as “very concerning”.


Basic high-rise fire safety not tackled in draft report, says taskforce member


The staff firefighter representative on the taskforce set up to examine fire safety in high-rise buildings has rejected the draft report of the body, pointing out that it does not address basic fire safety issues.

The staff firefighter representative on the taskforce set up to examine fire safety in high-rise buildings has rejected the draft report of the body, pointing out that it does not address basic fire safety issues.

The taskforce was set up by Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy in the wake of the Grenfell Tower blaze in London last June in which 71 people died. Its final report is due to be published before the end of April.

The staff representative on the taskforce has informed chairman Sean Hogan that he and others feel compelled to write a minority report over their serious concerns.

In a letter to Mr Hogan, Tom Daly says alleged shortages of resources in recent fires in “medium to high-rise buildings where the public had to be evacuated from their homes” have not been considered by the taskforce.

“This matter has been raised continuously at the task group meetings,” states Mr Daly.

“It has been made known to the chair of the task group that there have been a number of fire incidents in high-rise buildings in Ireland since the Grenfell Tower fire. The chair of the task group has failed to request this information from each fire authority.”

The letter points out that the title of the draft report — Fire Safety In Ireland — may “mislead” the minister and public into believing the report is about more than what was looked at, which was high-rise buildings and particularly in relation to the cladding of high-rise buildings.

“As noted by some members of the group, we have not looked at fire safety in buildings below the height of 18m,” states Mr Daly.

“As was pointed out at the meeting, continuing to have this title could ultimately call into question the whole credibility of the task group.”

The letter says questions not adequately addressed by the report include:

  • Whether the various fire authorities around the country are suitably resourced for an emergency response to deal with a fire in medium- to high- rise buildings;
  • What is the department’s emergency response and evacuation strategy for residents living in high-rise apartments;
  • What advice should be given by staff who take the emergency calls by residents in high-rise buildings when they call in reporting a fire.

The letter was sent earlier this month before the fire in the Metro Hotel in Ballymun in Dublin on Wednesday.


Port company appeals against €160m docklands scheme


Plans for the first urban residential development in Cork’s docklands have been hit by a last-minute appeal from a commercial semi-state company.

Plans for the first urban residential development in Cork’s docklands have been hit by a last-minute appeal from a commercial semi-state company.

The Port of Cork Company confirmed yesterday that it has lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanála against the decision made by Cork City Council last month to grant permission for the €160m HQ scheme at Horgan’s Quay.

The appeal was lodged on Thursday just hours before the 5pm deadline.

The mixed-use HQ project, proposed by BAM and Clarendon, has been earmarked for a six-acre north docks site, next to Kent train station and overlooking the port’s quays.

It includes some 400,000 sq ft of office space, with capacity for up to 3,500 employees, more than 240 apartments and a 136-bed hotel across eight buildings.

City planners gave it the green light late last month.

But the port company, which is involved in a legal battle with BAM Civil Ltd over the tender process on part of a massive port building project in Ringaskiddy, confirmed it is appealing the decision.

“The Port of Cork has no further comment at this time, however, as the developer involved has indicated a willingness to address the Port of Cork’s concerns, the Port of Cork may be in a position to comment further depending on the outcome of these discussions,” it said in a statement.

However, the Irish Examiner understands that the port company has, among other things, insisted the HQ developers provide mitigation measures to ensure that future occupants of the offices, apartments and hotel will not be adversely affected by nearby activity and port-related logistics, including rail freight.

The port company was among those who made observations during the initial planning process.

It described Horgan’s Quay as a busy, operational port area, handling up to 100,000 tons of cargo annually, and which will remain in active use in the medium term.

It said the area is used by all sorts of vessels, including ferries, container vessels, cruise ships and fishing boats, and that cargo operations here can be intensive, and run 24-hours a day.

“Fishing vessels routinely land their catch on Horgan’s Quay,” one document says. “The types of cargo may have a residual odour, acceptable in the context of a working port quayside, but which is incompatible with adjacent residential or commercial uses.”

The port’s planning consultants argued unsuccessfully with city planners that the development of residential and commercial uses next to a working port quayside is premature, pending the identification of alternative suitable quays and a clear timeline for the relocation of the port’s city quays activity.

It is understood the port company wants the developer to ensure the port’s operations around Horgan’s Quay are “not constrained or negatively impacted” during either construction or the operational phases of the HQ development.


Fine Gael plans for six-week Eighth campaign


Fine Gael is preparing to run a four- to six-week referendum campaign targeting undecided voters.

Fine Gael is preparing to run a four- to six-week referendum campaign targeting undecided voters.

Party sources told the Irish Examiner that its campaign is unlikely to begin until after Easter as, separately, a number of pro-life TDs downplayed suggestions they will join any cross-party pro-life platform.

It is understood while the referendum bill has now passed through the Dáil and will be voted on in the Seanad next week, Fine Gael is reluctant to put in place any formal campaign structure until all parts of the bill are passed.

This is because until then, the exact date of the referendum will not be known, and because the party’s national executive council is unlikely to meet to finalise who it wants to lead the campaign as national director of elections until that point.

Although Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has confirmed he will campaign in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment, as have a number of other ministers, the role of director of elections has yet to be decided.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe, Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty, and others have been mooted as options.

Fine Gael sources say that when this decision is made, the party will prepare for a four- to six-week campaign in the final stages of the referendum campaign, during which it intends to target undecided voters.

Pro-life TDs in Fianna Fáil and other parties have downplayed reports they may join an informal cross-party platform of similarly minded supporters of the Eighth Amendment.

Despite reports yesterday suggesting such a move is being considered and an admission that individuals from different parties have spoken about how they will vote, several Fianna Fáil TDs insist they have not heard of the cross-party platform and are not in favour of it.

Fianna Fáil TD for Carlow-Kilkenny Bobby Aylward told the Irish Examiner he does not know anything about such a platform and that “no one has approached me about that, to be honest”.

He said he is “not really in favour of it” and that “if anyone approaches me about some kind of cartel or anything like that, I don’t want to be in it”.

Meanwhile, Cork East TD Kevin O’Keeffe said while he has discussed the referendum on a regular basis with Independent TD Mattie McGrath, he does not know of any plans to form a cross-party pro-life platform.

Pro-choice Fine Gael TD Kate O’Connell has backed Independent Alliance TD and Junior Minister John Halligan’s claims that those who voted against the referendum bill are “an affront to democracy”.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Today with Sean O’Rourke programme, Ms O’Connell said “I would pretty much align myself to where he stands on it” and that, “for me, John Halligan is definitely right”.

Ms O’Connell noted that “there is nothing complex about just letting democracy happen”, saying she believes it is wrong that 32 TDs — including 21 Fianna Fáil TDs — voted against the referendum bill allowing a referendum itself.

On the same programme, Fianna Fáil TD Darragh O’Brien said while he has “reservations” about the referendum and will vote to retain the Eighth Amendment, he supports the referendum bill “because people have a right to have their say”.

“We should never fear the public having a vote and respecting the public having a vote,” said Mr O’Brien.


‘This court does not believe a word out of the plaintiff’


An All-Ireland winning professional road bowler got an award of zero plus costs against him yesterday arising out of a road accident where the judge said he did not believe one word of the bowler’s evidence about his injuries.An All-Ireland winning professional road bowler got an award of zero plus costs against him yesterday arising out of a road accident where the judge said he did not believe one word of the bowler’s evidence about his injuries.William Hogan, aged 35, of Kelleher’s Buildings, Dillon’s Cross, Cork, appeared at Cork Circuit Court yesterday claiming compensation for injuries he said he suffered while travelling as a back seat passenger in a car driven by his partner, Jennifer Cronin, of Brookville estate, Riverstown, Glanmire. Ms Cronin and another passenger, Rebecca O’Regan of Annalee Grove, Mayfield, settled their actions on undisclosed terms when Judge Brian O’Callaghan found liability for the accident against Neil Lynch, an off-duty garda, from Sallybrook, Glanmire, who believed he had sufficient time to emerge from the Hazelwood junction in Glanmire on December 27, 2015, but accepted that he did not have as much time as he believed at the time. There was disputed evidence between Ms Cronin and Mr Lynch on the moments before the collision but Judge O’Callaghan found that Mr Lynch was responsible for the collision. After lunch yesterday, the judge was told Ms Cronin and Ms Egan settled their claims on undisclosed terms. Mr Hogan’s claim for compensation went to hearing on the basis of an assessment of damages only, as the liability issue had been determined. At the end of Mr Hogan’s claim, Judge O’Callaghan said of the witness: “This court does not believe a word out of the plaintiff about his injuries. Not one word. "He expresses his concern about his four-year-old son yet he brings his son into a car with three dangerous tyres and expects the court to be impressed by his concerns about his son. It is a pity he did not have concerns before he got into the car with his son.” The judge said there was one medical report where the doctor had to rely only on the plaintiff’s description of injuries but there were no clinical findings of injuries. “It is this court’s strong view that this plaintiff suffered no injuries at all. If any they were absolutely insignificant. This court assesses damages at zero.” The judge acceded to an application to have costs awarded against Mr Hogan. Mr Hogan said in evidence that he was a professional road bowler who had won two All-Ireland titles. He told his counsel John Devlin that road bowling was his hobby and his life. “I am still not back road bowling — you are running, spinning your back and I am not comfortable doing that.” Donal McCarthy, defending, complained that in the plaintiff’s pleadings there was no document containing a reference to road bowling and he objected to the evidence being given in court. The plaintiff testified during the part of the case dealing with liability that after the accident he was not too happy about it and called Mr Lynch names. However, he denied going further or threatening “to do him in”. When gardaí from Mayfield arrived at the scene of the accident so too did an ambulance and four fire trucks. Mr Lynch’s father was at the scene and could not say who made the comment — Mr Hogan or another man in the back of the car — but he clearly heard someone call out using the slang word, “shade” for a guard: “Money is going to be made out of this because he is a shade.”[...]

Whistleblowers slam report on UL


Two whistleblowers have criticised an independent report commissioned by the Higher Education Authority into concerns they had raised about financial expenses and other HR issues at the University of Limerick.

Two whistleblowers have criticised an independent report commissioned by the Higher Education Authority into concerns they had raised about financial expenses and other HR issues at the University of Limerick.

The two women said they were “absolutely stunned” that the report by Richard Thorn, a former president of the Institute of Technology Sligo, contained no negative findings about how their cases were handled.

They have now requested a meeting with members of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee which has been examining a series of staff and payment controversies at UL.

The women pointed out that a UL official investigating their complaints had dismissed vital evidence, while another official who adjudicated on their appeal against his findings had not met or contacted them.

While the HEA indicated it was concerned about such issues, the whistleblowers said they had not been addressed in the Thorn report.

In a letter to the PAC they said: “We are not sure what to believe from the HEA. We have been promised and promised so much that did not happen and have been led to believe that there would be proper scrutiny.”

One of the whistleblowers, known as C, said she had informed Mr Thorn of a vital witness whom she claimed had overheard UL staff plotting to submit false information about her and make her appear a bully. However, she said the witness had not been contacted by Mr Thorn.

C claimed he also failed to contact another witness whom she had told him would provide evidence about a bullying culture within her department.

The two whistleblowers questioned how he could make findings without speaking to all relevant parties, including a trade union official who had assisted them in their grievances with UL.

The women said their relationship with UL became worse after they refused to accept several offers of a severance package which they had never sought nor wanted. Again they criticised Mr Thorn for making no reference to that in his report.

They also complained that their evidence was not afforded a narrative in the report unlike other witnesses, some of whom had made allegations against them.

The whistleblowers said it appeared that UL was using a deliberate strategy to get people to suggest all the problems arose from “interpersonal difficulties.”

The women also said they were shocked by Mr Thorn’s finding that they were unwise to have pursued a Garda complaint against the partner of a work colleague who had threatened them with foul and abusive language at a Christmas party in the Strand Hotel in 2014.

C said it was hard to grasp that he could say that when some people were afraid to report matters to gardaí because of “victim shaming”.

They claimed the report left unanswered their queries as to why UL appeared determined to get rid of them.

Mr Thorn described the issues in UL’s accounts payable office, where the two women were based, as “complex and emotive.”

He concluded that at least one allegation the women had made about the rehiring of recently retired staff was sustained while also finding they were correct to raise queries about other issues.

Following publication of the HEA report last November, UL president Des Fitzgerald lifted the suspension of the two women, who are taking a High Court action against the university.


Homeless man Paul ‘was so respectful and so quiet’


The brother of a homeless man who died while sleeping on the streets of Cork said there is a grieving family behind each of these tragedies.

The brother of a homeless man who died while sleeping on the streets of Cork said there is a grieving family behind each of these tragedies.

Gerard Sheehan spoke out yesterday a day after his brother Paul’s funeral to tell people his family did what they could to help him and were driving the streets looking for him on the night he died.

Gerard said his “gentle soul” brother struggled with alcohol addiction from an early age, had been through treatment, and had turned down several offers of help, preferring to spend time on his own.

“He was in treatment six times. He did try. He had a bed, he could have come in with us, but no drink. And drink comes first with an alcoholic. Simple and plain. Before love and before family,” said Gerard.

“If you are an alcoholic you will get drink. He would never ask you for anything. He was so respectful and so quiet. He wouldn’t harm a fly.”

Paul Sheehan, 53, a father of one originally from St Mary’s Avenue, Cathedral Rd, on the northside, was found dead on Wandesford Quay, near the city centre, at around 7am on March 18.

In a lengthy interview with the Neil Prendeville Show on RedFM yesterday, Gerard said: “To see your younger brother with a blue blanket thrown over him. All of his family tried and Paul tried very hard. He loved his son.”

He revealed the often brutal conditions his vulnerable brother, who walked with the aid of two sticks and who slept regularly in a doorway on Washington St, had to endure while living on the streets.

“Most people were very good to him. But people would come along during the night when they were drunk and kick him. They would take money. It goes on. He was beat with hatchets. He was beat with hammers. That man never hurt anyone in his life,” he said.

Gerard said when he saw Paul laid out in the coffin during the week, the look of pain had left his face.

Gerard paid tribute to Cork Penny Dinners, where Paul ate almost daily, and singled out Catriona Twomey for special praise.

“Penny Dinners was the only place he knew he was safe. He was a respectful man. Thank God drink never took that from him,” he said.

Meanwhile, a Mass of Remembrance will be celebrated at the Holy Trinity Church today for another homeless man, Dublin John, who died some weeks ago. His mother and sister are bringing his ashes to Cork. Cork Penny Dinners will host a get-together afterwards.


‘Hug your kids that bit tighter... appreciate what you have got’


Tonight, at 10.15pm, it will be a week since the last confirmed sighting of Elisha Gault.Tonight, at 10.15pm, it will be a week since the last confirmed sighting of Elisha Gault.Despite numerous garda appeals, searches of the river, reported sightings, door-to-door inquiries, and internet campaigns, herparents and sisters do not know what has happened to the 14-year-old. Elisha’s disappearance from her home at Carrick-on-Suir has caused widespread shock, sadness, and puzzlement, both among her family and friends and in the wider community. The search has continued all week, from the first missing person appeal, last Sunday, to today, when more emergency service personnel and voluntary teams will again be out trying to locate Elisha. The latest Garda appeal has focused on reports of a young girl believed to have been seen in the area of the old mart, on the Faugheen Road, in Carrick, in the early hours of Sunday, just a couple of hours after the last positive sighting of Elisha Gault. Supt William Leahy, who is leading the investigation from Clonmel Garda Station, on Friday asked for this person, described as being tall with blonde hair, to come forward, so that she can be eliminated from inquiries. The description issued on Sunday, of Elisha, is that of a 14-year-old girl, between 5ft10in and 6ft in height, with dyed blonde hair and blue eyes. All week, the gardaí have been following up on various reports of possible sightings of the teenager, with nothing positive to report, as yet. They have also been calling to houses and businesses in the area to try and find anyone who may have seen Elisha since her last-known sighting, on Dillon Bridge, heading towards Carrickbeg, at 10.15pm on Saturday. Elisha is a pupil of Comeragh College, in Carrick, and an air of sadness hung over the school yesterday, as students broke up for their Easter holidays. Elisha’s mother is originally from Belfast and the family lived for some time in Piltown, just over the Tipperary/Kilkenny border from Carrick-on-Suir, before she moved with her mother and sisters to New St, in the town, over a year ago. Yesterday on Facebook, Grainne Gault saidthe family are “broken-hearted”, with still no news of Elisha’s whereabouts. She appealed to anyone with information, no matter how seemingly trivial that information, to get in touch with the gardaí or with the family. “If you know of her whereabouts, tell her she isn’t in trouble, she won’t be forced to come home if she doesn’t want to, we just want to know she is safe and well and we can call off all the search efforts and myself, her daddy, and her three sisters love her very much, no matter what.” Mrs Gault paid tribute to the efforts of all of the state agencies, voluntary groups, and others who have taken part in the search and supported the family since last Sunday. These include the gardaí, civil defence, fire service, sub-aqua units, Waterford Marine Search and Rescue, Carrick-on-Suir River Rescue, Nenagh Search and Rescue, Mallow Search and Rescue, and others who have been visible along the river Suir all week. Numbers out searching are expected to increase over the weekend, as volunteers who have been working during the week make themselves available. Anyone with information should contact the gardaí on 0526177640, or the garda confidential line on 1800666111, or any garda. “Hug your kids that bit tighter tonight; appreciate what you have got,” is the last line on Grainne Gault’s latest post.[...]

Broadband still ‘pie in the sky’ for many rural dwellers


Broadband remains “pie in the sky” for many people in rural Ireland with less than 60% enjoying a high-speed service.

Broadband remains “pie in the sky” for many people in rural Ireland with less than 60% enjoying a high-speed service.

Significant differences in broadband availability between urban and rural areas were highlighted in a survey by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg).

Almost three quarters (73%) of people living in built-up areas have fixed broadband, compared to 58% of rural residents.

ComReg’s 2017 Communicates Survey

shows most SMEs (95%) have online services available, but less than half trade online. Trading online is more common in the services and retail sectors.

Around one in six (16%) consumers are likely to switch their existing telecommunications bundle from one provider to another over the next 12 months, and 38% expect to make a cost saving of over 5%.

While instant messaging apps have reduced the use of SMS services, they have not replaced them. Almost a third (31%) of those using apps still send the same number of text messages.

Meanwhile, half of the households in rural areas rely on Saorview, the national digital terrestrial television service in Ireland, compared with just a quarter in urban centres.

More than two out of every five households use Netflix but 95% of those with streaming services say they still watch live TV, with 44% disclosing live TV viewing has remained unchanged.

Consumers, however, expect their use of smart technologies to rapidly increase. To date, 29% of households have a smart TV, and many others (56%) expect to own one in five years’ time.

Most consumers know EU roaming charges have ended and 78% of the 1,500 surveyed are now more likely to roam in another EU country.

Some consumers still use traditional communication methods. In the six months prior to the survey, 3% used a public phone box while17% used a printed telephone book and 15% sent or received a fax.

Facebook is the most popular social media platform for SMEs — 60% have a Facebook account and about one third use LinkedIn or Twitter.

Bundling of services has increased over the last five years, with 67% indicating that they bundle two or more services together. This practice has increased from just over half of SMEs in 2013.

SMEs are also moving away from traditional telephony. While 70% of SMEs never use voice over internet protocol — a technology that delivers voice communication and multimedia sessions, one in 10 uses it once a week.

In the six months prior to the survey last November /December, 12% of SMEs used a printed telephone book and 28% sent or received a fax.

Meanwhile, the survey also showed ownership of petrol or diesel cars is expected to fall from 84% to 72%, with a growing preference for hybrid, fully electric and autonomous vehicles.


‘After All’ and a trip to London to play on ‘Top of the Pops’ with Paul McCartney


The Young Offenders have revived interest in the Frank and Walters’ classic hit. Here, the band recall their eventful journey in 1993.The Young Offenders have revived interest in the Frank and Walters’ classic hit. Here, the band recall their eventful journey in 1993.It has to go down as one of the great comedic moments on Irish television: a brilliant acapella rendition of a 25-year-old hit single, led by a psychopath in a vest, whose knife doubles as a microphone and a conductor’s baton. Billy Murphy, lovable headbanger from the hit TV series The Young Offenders, has single-handedly brought ‘After All’ to number one on one of the iTunes charts, generating extensive airplay along the way, in an age when digital downloads are two a penny and competition for the top spot has never been as fierce. The performance of ‘After All’ by Billy and his co-stars — after he hijacked a bus by default — and the subsequent surge in downloads, is proof, says the song’s composer, Paul Linehan, of the enduring power of music: “The great thing about it is, it can still have legs 25 years later.” The Frank and Walters, Paul’s band, were riding high 25 years ago, when they appeared on the world’s most prestigious chart show, Top of the Pops, in January 1993. ‘After All’, about a previous girlfriend of Paul’s, was charting at number 14. Whitney Houston was at number one, with ‘I WillAlways Love you’. “It was a great occasion — a career high. When I was a young fella, I always wanted to be on Top of the Pops. It was a huge deal. The show was on on a Thursday night, and I remember crashing my bike on the way home one evening, I was in such a hurry to see it,” Paul says. Dan Linehan, Irish Examiner photographer (no relation), was assigned to cover the Frank and Walters’ Top of the Pops appearance, which was front-page news at the time. “It was my first trip away from the office and the Frank and Walters were huge, they were really out there in terms of indie rock. I was delighted to be covering it, but when we arrived at the BBC’s Elstree Studio, we were told ‘no cameras allowed’.” “I had to get a picture so I had a camera hidden under my coat. I was sweating like a pig while everyone else was dancing around. It wasn’t very rock’n’roll.” The Frank and Walters with Paul McCartney at the BBC studios for Top of the Pops in 1993. Dan tried to take pictures of the band on stage with the camera lens poking through his jacket, but he wasn’t convinced he’d done enough for a page-one. As luck would have it, on the way out of rehearsals, they came upon the iconic EastEnders set. “I said ‘Lads, everyone knows Albert Square’ and I got them to pose by the red post box.” Security arrived to escort them off the set, but Dan had his page-one picture. The highlight for the Frank and Walters was performing on Top of the Pops the same night as Paul McCartney, whose dressing room was directly across from theirs. Not everyone can boast of sharing a stage with a Beatle and even fewer can boast of being ahead of a Beatle in the charts. “I remember he was number 30 at the time with ‘Hope of Deliverance’ and we were number 14.” The band got to meet Paul and his then-wife Linda, and his daughters, including fashion designer, Stella. “I remember Linda trying to convert us to vegetarianism. She said ‘Do you know an animal died so that you can eat burgers?’ The Frank and Walters (Paul Linehan, Niall Linehan and Ashley Keating) on the set of EastEnders after recording their appearan[...]

Chemical pipe cleaner used on children in dental clinic


The experience for 43 children treated inadvertently with a chemical pipe cleaner at a HSE dental clinic last October was “devastating”.

The experience for 43 children treated inadvertently with a chemical pipe cleaner at a HSE dental clinic last October was “devastating”.

That is according to the HSE who yesterday apologised for the harm caused to the children and their families over the pipe cleaner, ‘Red Streak’, containing the Potassium Hydroxide 5%, contaminating water used to clean the mouths of children during dental procedures at the HSE-run Ennis Dental Clinic.

In a 37-page report on the incident over October 4 and October 5 last, the HSE found 15 of the 43 children exposed to the poisoned water suffered “adverse localised symptoms ranging from mild burning sensation to blistering and ulceration of the mouth”.

The report reveals a parent alerted clinic staff to an adverse reaction suffered by her daughter, but the ‘Red Streak’ source wasn’t identified for another four and a half hours and at least one other child had been exposed to the contaminated water during that time.

The HSE acknowledged the treatment experience of the children “may have a psychological effect on them and their families, and in their confidence in the dental service going forward”.

The HSE investigators were unable to identify the source of the bottle of Red Streak and could not establish when and by whom it was added to the water supplying the dental equipment.

The HSE investigators have, however, found internal security within the dental clinic was poor; domestic cleaning products were not stored securely; there was a lack of written standard procedures, and that staffing in the Central Sterile Services Room was not adequate to ensure safe work practices.

Head of primary care with HSE Mid West community healthcare, Kate Duggan said: “Our investigation as to how this happened is inconclusive but it is obvious to us that four incidental findings will now greatly reduce, if not eradicate, the possibility of this happening again.”


Rolling Stones tickets on resale sites despite not selling out


Tickets for the Rolling Stones’ gig in Croke Park have appeared on ticket reselling sites for multiple times their face value — despite the May gig not selling out.

Tickets for the Rolling Stones’ gig in Croke Park have appeared on ticket reselling sites for multiple times their face value — despite the May gig not selling out.

Tickets for the rock stalwarts’ only Irish show of the year went on general sale from Ticketmaster yesterday at 9am, ranging in price from €70.45 to €181, not including booking fees or VIP packages.

Ticketmaster’s own Seatwave website, which sells ‘second-hand’ tickets, opened its market for Rolling Stones tickets at noon, and within an hour there were hundreds of tickets for sale, some at multiple times the face value cost.

General admission tickets for the pitch, with a €70.45 face value, sold out but appeared on Seatwave with prices ranging from €135.96 to €449 a ticket.

Upper-section seats — which were still available on general sale for €90 or €131 depending on their location — appeared on Seatwave yesterday for prices ranging from €163 to €599.

Lower-tier seats in the Cusack and Hogan Stands were still on sale on Ticketmaster for €181 last night, but Seatwave had listings ranging from €220 to €599.

None of these Seatwave prices include the website’s own fees for facilitating the transaction.

On rival resale website Viagogo, which has an office in Limerick, 10 standing tickets, with a face value of €70.45 were advertised for €879 each.

A single ticket from this seller at that price would come to more than €1,200 when fees are added.

Fine Gael TD Noel Rock, who has introduced proposed legislation that would ban selling tickets second hand at prices above face value, said such instances feel like Groundhog Day and that the touting of major events seems to happen on a weekly basis.

“If the companies charged with selling tickets wanted to stamp out this practice, they could easily have done so,” he said.

“Belgium has already successfully introduced legislation in this field. The Irish people are overwhelmingly in favour of legislation — with a recent Ireland Thinks poll showing 89% of people support this.

"The precedent is there, the support is there, now we need to step up and make this happen.

“This situation cannot continue: The ticketing industry cannot be relied upon to regulate itself.”

It is understood powers banning touting are still some way from coming into force.

Mr Rock said officials have been tasked with finding a solution. “They’ve raised concerns regarding the bill as stands. We’re working on solving it but progress is slow. We really wanted to have this done for March and thought we would, but realistically it’s now the goal to get it over line before June.”

The Irish Examiner understands that frustration at the delay in introducing the bill is growing to the point that Fianna Fáil may use private members’ time to push through legislative changes.

Wicklow TD Stephen Donnelly had worked with Mr Rock to bring through proposed legislation, and together they met with Department of Business officials last month on the issue.