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Updated: 2017-10-20T12:08:15+01:00

 



Bail for man, 60, accused of sexually assaulting four women in Cork

2017-10-20

A 60-year-old man was accused of sexually assaulting four women in separate incidents in the Douglas area of Cork and gardaí wanted a bail condition that he would have no physical contact with “females”.

A 60-year-old man was accused of sexually assaulting four women in separate incidents in the Douglas area of Cork and gardaí wanted a bail condition that he would have no physical contact with “females”.

Judge John King said such a bail condition would be too broad and instead said that he attached a condition requiring the defendant to have no contact directly or indirectly with the alleged injured parties.

Patrick Vaughan, of Oaklodge, Douglas Rd, Cork, was arrested by Detective Garda Donal Cashman and brought before Cork District Court.

Mr Vaughan was charged with four counts of sexual assault. The charges relate to four different injured parties on different dates in May, namely May 22, 26, 27, and 31, and all related to alleged offences in the Douglas area. The complainants are aged between 20 and 34.

Judge King imposed a reporting restriction against any identification of the four complainants. He said this restriction did not extend to any prohibition on identifying the defendant.

Inspector Daniel Coholan said the prosecution was not opposed to bail being granted to the accused. However, bail conditions were required.

Det Garda Cashman outlined the first condition, a curfew between 6pm and 8am. Judge King said he could not impose such a curfew as the legislation did not allow him to do so. He said the earliest curfew he could impose was from 9pm and that it had to be until 6am.

The second condition sought was for him to avoid any physical contact with women. The judge said this condition was too broad and he changed it to refer to prohibiting contact with the complainants.

Mr Vaughan must also sign on daily at Anglesea St Garda Station.

Insp Coholan said the DPP had directed trial at Cork District Court. Judge King said he would leave it to Judge Olann Kelleher to decide on the issue of whether or not he would accept jurisdiction to deal with the case.

The case was put back until November 2 for jurisdiction to be decided by Judge Kelleher.

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HSE to explain why it paid 600% drug price rise

2017-10-20

Health Minister Simon Harris has asked the HSE for a report following revelations it bowed to demands by a pharmaceutical company for a 600% price increase for cancer drugs.

Health Minister Simon Harris has asked the HSE for a report following revelations it bowed to demands by a pharmaceutical company for a 600% price increase for cancer drugs.

Mr Harris said while he did not know the specific circumstances of the case, he was concerned about what was reported.

“I’ve long been of the view that this country has at times found itself being held to ransom by drugs companies and particularly, being a small country and a small market from a pharmaceutical point of view, that we’ve ended up having to pay over the odds,” he said.

The HSE has confirmed it was told by Aspen Pharmaceuticals’s Irish agent that prices for four lifesaving cancer drugs were increasing and it agreed to those price rises in March 2013 worried that supply of the drugs would be stopped.

Aspen is under investigation by the European Commission’s Competition Directorate for price gouging after evidence was provided by several countries it was imposing “significant and unjustified price increases of up to several hundred percent”.

The HSE said yesterday it had agreed to the increases to keep supplies of the drug flowing as there were no alternative suppliers.

“The HSE made clear in its interactions with Aspen’s then Irish agents that the price increases demanded were being reluctantly accepted,” the executive said. It said there had been no further price increases since March 2013.

Mr Harris said he wanted to examine the case further.

“I’m asking the HSE for more detail in relation to that. Obviously, I would be very concerned if anyone was trying to, in any way, hold to ransom cancer patients and our taxpayers,” he said.

The HSE has had a series of difficult negotiations with pharmaceutical firms over the prohibitive cost of new and recently-trialled drugs such as Respreeza for emphysema, Orkambi for cystic fibrosis, and a number of highly specialised cancer medications. However, the drugs at the centre of the row with Aspen were well established and widely used here.

Under the new supply deal with Aspen, the HSE agreed to pay 240% to 600% more.

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River Lee’s first new bridge in decade installed

2017-10-20

The first new bridge over the river Lee in more than a decade has been installed.

The first new bridge over the river Lee in more than a decade has been installed.

Work began on the grounds of UCC yesterday to secure the pedestrian bridge over the river’s south channel in the hope it will open early next year.

The bridge is a key element of UCC’s privately-funded Environmental Plan which focuses on the quality of the external environment through the development of new pathways, courtyards and soft landscaping spaces.

Contractor L&M Keating lifted the structure, the 29th bridge in the city, onto sloping concrete buttresses built on the opposing river banks on Wednesday. Arches have been designed into the buttresses to allow for the passage of flood water.

The 25m bridge, supported by glued laminated or ‘glulam’ timber beams, now links Perrott’s Inch on the channel’s northern bank to the lower grounds on UCC’s campus below the Aula Maxima — midway between UCC’s main entrance and Gaol Cross.

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UCC president Prof Patrick O’Shea and Mark Poland, director of buildings and estates, examine the new pedestrian bridge from Perrott’s Inch to the Lower Grounds on UCC’s campus. Picture: Clare Keogh

The bridge, which will connect with a new campus entrance off Western Road, is the centrepiece of an overall scheme to open up Perrott’s Inch as a landscaped space for student, staff, and public use. The project design team is led by award-winning architects, O’Donnell & Tuomey, and is managed by UCC’s Buildings and Estates Office.

Mark Poland, head of the university’s buildings and estates office, said it will be a wonderful addition not just to the university’s infrastructure, but also to the city.

“There are provisions to create a pocket park at Perrott’s Inch which will be open and available to the public as well as students,” he said.

The bridge, which is tapered towards the campus side, has been installed at a slight angle to provide easy east-west pedestrian flow across the river at this point.

It has been positioned to connect the confluence of four pathways in the university’s lower grounds on the southern bank, and facilitate the extension of these riverside walks across the bridge, and along Perrott’s Inch to the car park near Gaol Cross. New pathways, trees and landscaping will be included.

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A crane working on UCC Perrott’s Inch glulam pedestrian bridge. Picture: William O’Brien Group

UCC previously installed a bridge to link its Western Gateway Building on Western Rd to its Brookfield campus, and also provide land for the construction of the Millenium Bridge near North Mall.

Cork City Council is hoping to begin construction work next year on the 30th bridge over the river — another pedestrian bridge — this time over the Lee’s northern channel to link Merchant’s Quay to St Patrick’s Quay, where it will land at Harley St alongside the Metropole Hotel, where plans for a €50m revamp, including an extension, the development of a retail arcade and the development of an adjoining hotel called the ‘M’, were recently lodged.

Councillor John Sheehan has called for the bridge to be named after a woman and for the public have an input.

Talks are under way within City Hall to determine an agreed process by which the naming of the new bridge could be managed.

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Drink driver caught for 11th time is jailed

2017-10-20

A motorist who was caught drink driving for the 11th time was jailed yesterday.

A motorist who was caught drink driving for the 11th time was jailed yesterday.

During the mitigation plea prior to sentence Judge John King asked when he was going to stop drink-driving.

“Does he have to kill someone?” Judge King asked.

Eddie Burke, solicitor, asked the judge not to jail Uyi Lanky Agho, of 10 Poplar Avenue, Fota Rock, Carrigtwohill, Co Cork, for this latest offence.

Judge King said he had to impose a five-month jail sentence on the 40-year-old and ban him from driving for six years.

Inspector Daniel Coholan said the accused had 10 previous drink-driving offences including the actual offence of drink driving, refusing to give a blood or urine sample when stopped for suspected drink-driving, and being drunk and in control of a car.

Insp Coholan said there was a mandatory alcohol testing checkpoint at Lower Glanmire Road, Cork, on July 25, 2016. The accused drove up to the checkpoint and, when he was tested, failed the breath test.

He was later brought to the Bridewell Garda Station where a doctor took a blood sample which showed a concentration of 133 mgs of alcohol per 100 mls of blood.

A suspended five-month sentence was imposed on the defendant for driving without insurance on the same occasion.

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Hiqa boss was asked by care home to keep report offline

2017-10-20

The chairman of Hiqa has confirmed he was asked by a nursing home operator to stop an inspection report from appearing on the health watchdog’s website.

The chairman of Hiqa has confirmed he was asked by a nursing home operator to stop an inspection report from appearing on the health watchdog’s website.

Brian McEnery disclosed the encounter when he appeared before the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee to defend himself against accusations he was involved in a conflict of interest given his role as chairman of the Hiqa and his private role as a professional who advises nursing homes on financial matters.

He was asked to appear before the PAC after a story was published in a Sunday newspaper about a meeting he spoke at in October 2015.

He had been invited to the meeting by the chief executive of Nursing Home Ireland, Tadhg Daly.

Mr McEnery, who was appointed the chairman of the board of Hiqa in 2013, told the PAC he advised nursing homes, hospitals, and primary care centres but only on financial matters.

He said the board did not get involved in executive decision-making.

The way Hiqa was legally constituted meant that he, as board chairman, could not, did not, and would not intervene or even have information relating to Hiqa inspections.

“I have on one occasion, been asked to personally intervene by a nursing home operator who sought that a Hiqa report would not be published on the Hiqa website. I refused to intervene,” he said. “In the follow-up correspondence, I was informed that the disappointed party intended to inform Oireachtas members of my professional role. I say this as I wish to provide members with all of the relevant information regarding my role.”

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald said that Mr McEnery’s recollection of the event two years ago was “at variance” with the minutes provided to the PAC, but Mr McEnery said he believed the minutes contained inaccuracies and he was taking legal advice on it.

Later, Ms McDonald said that for Mr McEnery to give advice or insights at a meeting the subject of which was the boycott of the Fair Deal scheme was, to her mind, “absolutely untenable and quite frankly outrageous”.

Hiqa’s director of regulation, Mary Dunnion, told the PAC she was “unequivocal” that at no time had the chair or any member of the board sought to question or influence any decisions and so she had no experience of any conflict of interest.

Nursing Homes Ireland was invited to the meeting, but Mr Daly in a letter to the PAC said his board had directed him not to attend.

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Tracker scandal may face garda probe; Banks accused of ‘cartel behaviour’

2017-10-20

Gardaí could be asked to launch an investigation into the tracker mortgage scandal after the country’s biggest banks were accused of “cartel behaviour” and of committing “grand theft” against at least 20,000 customers.Gardaí could be asked to launch an investigation into the tracker mortgage scandal after the country’s biggest banks were accused of “cartel behaviour” and of committing “grand theft” against at least 20,000 customers.The Central Bank revealed the Garda involvement as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar threatened banks with new laws, taxes, and penalties if they fail to compensate those affected within weeks. Speaking before Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe holds crunch meetings with the banks on Monday and Wednesday, Central Bank officials said they have been co-operating with gardaí. At an appearance at the Dáil finance committee, which heard chairman and Fianna Fáil TD John McGuinness describe what has happened as “grand theft from thousands of people”, Central Bank financial conduct official Derville Rowland said the scandal has already been discussed twice with gardaí. Ms Rowland — who also said banks have informally threatened legal action if any measures are taken against them — told TDs she “could not say” if a criminal probe would be launched into the controversy, which occurred when at least 20,000 tracker mortgage holders were incorrectly moved onto more expensive loans. However, she confirmed the Central Bank has also been in contact with the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, and that further action is likely. The view was repeated in the Dáil by Education Minister Richard Bruton, who, speaking on behalf of Government, said gardaí may be asked to get involved. During the latest Leader’s Questions debate, Mr Bruton said that the Coalition will “ruthlessly pursue” banks warning. “Given the appalling trauma in our economy and our society caused by bad bank lending and poor regulation, there is now an absolute obligation on banks to fulfill their responsibilities to their clients,” said Mr Bruton. “The Central Bank has made clear that it is engaging with other statutory bodies, including the Garda Síochána, so there is no flinching from pursuing this.” Mr Varadkar warned banks to resolve the issue, saying that they will be hit with new laws, penalties, taxes, and bank levy hikes if they do not compensate customers immediately. Repeating a threat first made in yesterday’s Irish Examiner, Mr Varadkar said he wants banks to “get on with it and sort things out”. “We’ll see what happens next week [when banks meet with Mr Donohoe],” he said. “I’m certainly open to new laws and new regulations, and additional taxation. “The banks have it in their power to sort this out within a matter of months. “Legislation and new sanctions would take longer and I really think the banks have prevaricated and dragged their heels for far too long now.” While the Government is taking a tough stance on the issue, it is understood the Coalition is still of the view the matter could be resolved by banks previously bailed out, compensating victims. However, it is unclear if this will take place, with the Central Bank confirming banks have unofficially threatened legal action if any moves are made against them by the financial watchdog. Fianna Fáil finance spokesperson Michael McGrath said the issue is “one of the greatest consumer rip-offs in state history”. His party colleague, public expenditure spokesperson Dara Calleary, went further, telling the Dáil that the Government risks allowing banks to “slither and slide” away if they do not act to address the scandal now. The view was rep[...]



Country braces for Storm Brian as crews battle to restore power

2017-10-20

With thousands of people still without power and water due to Storm Ophelia, the country must now brace itself for 130km/h winds courtesy of Storm Brian.

With thousands of people still without power and water due to Storm Ophelia, the country must now brace itself for 130km/h winds courtesy of Storm Brian.

Met Éireann has put orange weather alerts in place for seven counties for tomorrow — Cork, Kerry, Waterford, Clare, Mayo, Galway, and Wexford. With the strong winds comes the potential for significant flooding, particularly in coastal areas.

Yesterday, the country was hit by torrential downpours, followed by strong winds, which led to spot flooding in a number of areas in the south. Despite those dreadful conditions the ESB, with the help of a team of almost 3,800 — 2,500 staff, 1,000 contractors, and 250 crew from the North — has now managed to restore power to more than 340,000 homes and businesses.

Nonetheless, 50,000 ESB customers were still without power — the majority in Cork. And it is forecast that, in Cork, Tipperary, and Kerry, a small number of customers may not get their power back until early next week.

According to the Government’s National Emergency Coordination Group on Severe Weather, water has now been restored to more than 101,000 customers — at one point 109,000 customers were without supply.

Homeowners and businesses in low-lying areas in four Co Cork towns are now being warned to secure their buildings as high tides are likely to cause flooding when they peak at around 6pm this evening.

Cork County Council crews and Civil Defence units will be on standby in Bantry, Clonakilty, Youghal, and Midleton to help with the operation.

The Defence Forces has engineering and transport units which will also be ready to be deployed should they be needed to bolster local authority personnel in both the city and county.

County council depots will open this morning to supply sandbags to people in the four towns expected to be hit.

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Flooding on Centre Park Road, Cork, yesterday as the country prepared for wet weather and stormy conditions with the arrival of Brian. Picture: Larry Cummins

In Cork City, there is a minor risk of flooding at Morrison’s Island, South Terrace, and Wandesford Quay from 5.30pm to 7.30pm due to high tides.

Motorists experienced travel chaos last night as many roads in and around Cork City, Cobh, Midleton, and Mallow flooded. Severe flooding was also reported on roads in the Castlemartyr area and on the Youghal bypass and in several rural parts of West Cork.

Council crews battled to free drains and gulleys to alleviate the situation.

Meanwhile, contractors had to a cut up a large number of trees which had fallen into the swollen Glashaboy River, in Glanmire, to prevent bridges being clogged with debris, in the hope of preventing a repeat of June 2012 flooding which severely damaged nearly 80 homes and businesses in the area, many of which are now uninsured.

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Budget day commercial property sales fetch 2% tax

2017-10-20

All commercial property sales signed before midnight on budget day will be liable for the lower 2% stamp duty rate, the Finance Bill has confirmed.

All commercial property sales signed before midnight on budget day will be liable for the lower 2% stamp duty rate, the Finance Bill has confirmed.

Medical card holders whose income does not exceed €60,000 will remain exempt from the univeral social charge until the end of 2019 as a result of the bill published yesterday. The measures extends the arrangement by two years.

The bill contains 78 sections, the majority of which implement the changes announced on budget day together with a number of small amendments including the U-turn on stamp duty for farmers.

The bill, as expected, provides for the Government’s move to increase the rate of stamp duty on commercial property transactions from 2% to 6%. It states the old rate will apply to all transactions for non-residential properties signed prior to October 12.

The hike on commercial stamp duty has raised concerns as industry lobby groups have warned Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe will struggle to achieve its projected €376m yield on the new 6% rate.

The industry says the projections are based on the volume of business conducted in 2016 and have suggested that will not be repeated.

As expected, Mr Donohoe reversed the steep increase in stamp duty for non-residential land for a small group of farmers inheriting land from family members, amid strong concerns from within Fine Gael and from farm lobby groups.

In last week’s budget, Mr Donohoe announced that non-residential stamp duty was to increase from 2% to 6% with immediate effect.

Qualified farmers aged under 35, as well as those inheriting land from relatives aged 67 or younger, already receive exemptions or concessions on the tax.

The difficulty has been caused for farmers who are not under 35 and are receiving a farm transfer from a relative aged over 67. Until last week, they paid stamp duty of 2% but under the change announced by M r Donohoe they would have been liable for a duty of 6%.

The Finance Bill, which gives legal effect to the various taxation measures announced in the budget, provides for the increase in the excise duty on cigarettes by 50c as well as the introduction of a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks.

The bill also contains details of the tapered extension to the mortgage interest relief as well as the proposed hike in the vacant site tax to 7%.

Tech start-ups and other small businesses will be allowed to offer tax-efficient stock to attract staff under new measures in the bill.

Details of the Government’s Key Employee Engagement Programme mean employees are currently liable to income tax, USC and PRSI when exercising their share options.

However, under the Government’s new scheme, they will now only be liable for capital gains tax at a rate of 33% upon the sale of their shares.

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Pension anomaly again in spotlight; Government loses key vote after Fianna Fáil opposition

2017-10-20

The Government is facing mounting pressure to address the State pension gender discrimination case after losing a Dáil vote on the issue.

The Government is facing mounting pressure to address the State pension gender discrimination case after losing a Dáil vote on the issue.

The defeat of its counter-motion opposing a Fianna Fáil bill saying the pension ‘anomaly’ be addressed immediately, by 44 votes to 85, came on a damaging day which saw two other Dáil vote defeats on local authority boundary changes and animal welfare — but previously announced water charges changes passed.

In the aftermath of the outrage last week over the fact some women are €35 per week worse off due to a long-standing flaw in existing rules linked to career breaks and related matters, on Wednesday Fianna Fáil put a bill to the Dáil to address the issue. The bill, proposed by Fianna Fáil social protection spokesperson Willie O’Dea, called for the pension ‘anomaly’ be corrected, changes made in 2012 affecting women to be reversed, and that men and women’s pension contributions are treated equally.

However, it has been noted that the bill does nothing for women affected in the same way by the 1960s and 1970s marriage ban, with any legislation to address this related issue likely to cost at least €200m more.

While accepting that reforms are needed, Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty and other government ministers said it is not possible to immediately change the system due to the €70m-plus cost a year.

Although suggesting it would bring forward proposals on how to address the issue by the end of the year, it was noted last week that such moves would not come into effect until 2020 or 2021.

While the Government has not backed down from this position, with Ms Doherty defending the argument during a radio interview on Wednesday and saying Fianna Fáil cannot be trusted, its bid to win Dáil support for a more staggered set of reforms was dashed yesterday.

The Dáil vote decision means the Government is now under intense pressure to address the controversy immediately, and is likely to face further calls to row back on some its budget plans to pay for the reforms.

However, a Government spokesperson said at a post-cabinet briefing on Tuesday that the Government may not formally have to accept the vote defeat immediately, meaning it is likely to continue with its December reform proposals plan.

The pension Dáil vote defeat was one of a trio of embarrassing losses for the Government yesterday, with the coalition also losing in votes on city and county council boundary changes and animal welfare rules.

The boundary changes vote was based on a private members’ motion tabled by the Rural Independents technical group that asked for boundaries to be protected, the appointment of an independent assessor and an examination of Cork County Council’s “vague” compensation package.

Amendments meant the motion also sought the return of town councils and a directly elected Dublin mayor. Both Government counter-motions were defeated, including the boundary changes vote by 44 to 49.

The Government did succeed in passing the water service bill vote, which secures previously announced plans for the repayment of charges and future excessive water usage fees.

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WRC talks hoping to avert bank holiday rail strike

2017-10-20

Rail management and unions were locked in talks at the Workplace Relations Commission late last night to try to resolve a pay dispute which threatens to stop all services over the October Bank Holiday weekend.

Rail management and unions were locked in talks at the Workplace Relations Commission late last night to try to resolve a pay dispute which threatens to stop all services over the October Bank Holiday weekend.

The sides were far apart going into the talks. Unions had demanded increases of 3.75% without productivity measures in previous discussions at the WRC. That is on a par with the amounts given to Dublin Bus and Luas workers last year on the back of strike action.

Those negotiations broke down when the company, claiming it was on the verge of insolvency, said it was only prepared to offer 1.5% accompanied by a range of demands on staff designed to make them more productive.

Those included outsourcing of work, loss of contracted hours, relocation of staff, closure of booking offices, and new performance management systems.

The unions have said workers, who have not received a pay increase in almost a decade, are no longer prepared to subsidise an under-funded public service in which subvention had been cut by 41% between 2008 and 2013.

Sources said the fact they were still in talks after almost 10 hours was positive.

However, it is understood that unions are determined that any talks on productivity will have to be for another day and they want the pay issue to be sorted out first.

It is thought unlikely that unions would be willing to even put a figure of less than 2.5% to their members for ballot.

The unions are due to count a different ballot, one for strike action, today. If that returns a result in favour of strikes, it could be activated by next weekend just as Irish Rail is busiest with holiday commuters.

Before this round of talks began, National Bus and Rail Union general secretary Dermot O’Leary warned the company that if it tried to engage in a futile exercise of kicking the can down the road in WRC, it would lead to widespread disruption to all rail services, inclusive of Inter-city, Commuter and Dart “within a matter of days”.

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Bid to throw out robbery cases over delay rejected

2017-10-20

Two Corkmen accused of carrying out three robberies, four burglaries, and stealing two cars in Cork and Waterford applied to have all charges struck out because of delay in the case.

Two Corkmen accused of carrying out three robberies, four burglaries, and stealing two cars in Cork and Waterford applied to have all charges struck out because of delay in the case.

Defence solicitor, Michael Quinlan, said that he was instructed by David Cronin, aged 51, of 17 Maglin Rd, Togher, Cork, and James Hogan, aged 33, of 1 Lissard, Lotamore, Mayfield, Cork, to apply to have the cases struck out.

Mr Quinlan submitted at Cork District Court that both men had been in custody since July and that there was no progress in the case.

Inspector Daniel Coholan objected to that application and said the file had been sent to the DPP and that it consisted of over 50 witness statements that had to be gathered in the course of the investigation.

Judge John King refused to grant the defence applications to strike out all charges against them. He remanded the two accused in custody until November 2 for the purpose of obtaining directions from the DPP.

Mr Cronin and Mr Hogan are both charged with robberies at Topaz in Fermoy, Centra in Watergrasshill and Glenmore Stores in Knockraha, all alleged offences taking place on July 18.

The two men are also charged with carrying out burglaries at Boothouse Bar in Glanmire, and at houses at Newline in Brooklodge, Glanmire, Co Cork, Ballysaggart in Lismore, Co Waterford, and Grange Vale, Pinecroft, Grange, Cork.

They are also accused of stealing cars from outside the houses that were allegedly burgled at Newline and Pinecroft.

During a previous bail application, it was alleged that Mr Hogan took a black-handled knife from a block of knives at his partner’s house and that this knife was allegedly produced during the robberies.

The charge sheets state that €400 was robbed at Glenmore, €35 at Topaz and just over €1,000 at Centra.

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Sexual violence victims ‘silenced’ due to funding cut for national data collection system

2017-10-20

Victims of sexual violence are being “silenced” following the State’s decision to cut off funding to a national data collection system, rape crisis agencies have said.Victims of sexual violence are being “silenced” following the State’s decision to cut off funding to a national data collection system, rape crisis agencies have said.The Rape Crisis Network of Ireland said it was not in a position to publish its annual figures for 2016 because it no longer had the resources to ensure the data was of the necessary standard. The network said this was the direct result of the decision by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, to remove 70% of RCNI funding in 2015. RCNI executive director Clíona Saidléar said this risked the “dismantling of database infrastructure” across 15 local rape crisis centres and that they had now run out of money to keep it going. “They took the decision to remove funding and collect the data themselves in 2015 and, at some point, realised they couldn’t as we had told them,” she said. She said the RCNI had to wait 18 months for Tusla to set up a team to deal with the issue. “We kept our database open, hoping through engagement with Tusla that it would increase their understanding. But we have run out of resources and couldn’t bring the 2016 data to a necessary standard.” Ms Saidlear said they had been producing the national figures since 2005. “This data is important,” she said. “We know so little about sexual violence. Often what you hear is distorted and comes from the courts, which is a minority.” She disclosed that 65% of people coming to the RCNI centres do not talk to gardaí or social workers. “They don’t get heard publicly,” Ms Saidlear said. “We give them a voice and their experiences are turned into evidence. “This evidence, and ours is a national data set, gives us the evidence base to transform policy and practice and turns them into agents of change. If you lose that you silence that powerful tool and you silence them.” She also pointed out RCNI data was of a high standard and was promoted as best practice by the official EU agency, the European Institute for Gender Equality, to other member states. Ms Saidlear said she hoped Tusla would come to the understanding “that there is too much to lose here”. She said: “We have available here the best resource, the best system. It’s not acceptable that we can not come to an agreement.” She said they needed a “full-time post and some more” in order to support the network of data collection officers. “This is to guarantee the accuracy and integrity of the data and to do the analysis,” she said. Ms Saidlear is concerned that the weakened data collection means the sector will struggle to reach EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance. Tusla, meanwhile, said it provided funding to 58 frontline organisations which support survivors of domestic and sexual violence — and that this funding rose by €1.5m this year. “Tusla gathers anonymised, summary, data on an annual basis from funded services to allow insight into, and understanding of, the services delivered and the needs of survivors,” a spokeswoman said.“All data gathered undergoes an extensive process of cleaning and validation. Tusla is satisfied that its data collection methods and processes meet all required standards including compliance around data protection. “Tusla is fully cognisant of its responsibilities in respect of data protection and is actively preparing for the introduction of the GDPR which will come into force next year. &ldquo[...]



Homes still without water and power as Storm Brian arrives

2017-10-20

Irish Water is working to restore services to thousands of homes and businesses around Cork who still don’t have a supply.

Irish Water is working to restore services to thousands of homes and businesses around Cork who still don’t have a supply.

The utility has deployed tankers and static tanks in a number of locations where supplies are still out, while council crews are still taking bottled water to people living in remote areas.

It comes as the county braces for flooding today as Storm Brian arrives on the south coast this evening, while key transit routes in the county remain blocked.

Irish Water said the situation is getting better as power is being restored to more reservoirs and pumping stations, but thousands of households and businesses around the county still don’t have a supply.

Customers without water should contact Irish Water on 1850278278, or consult their website for the most up-to-date information.

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Flooding on Centre Park Road, Cork, yesterday as the country prepared for wet weather and stormy conditions with the arrival of Brian. Picture: Larry Cummins

Meanwhile, the main road between Midleton and Dungourney (R579) remained impassable last night after more than 20 trees fell on it and severed powerlines. Council and ESB crews hope to have it reopened today.

The main road in Glandore (R597) was also blocked with debris, although diversions were in place.

The R605 in Dunderrow was also being cleared and the council removed some remaining debris on the R602 in Bandon.

Diversions were also put in place on a number of rural roads due to flooding yesterday.

While the ESB has restored power to thousands of homes throughout the county, there remain a number of rural pockets around Bandon, Dunmanway, Carrigaline and Fermoy where outages continue.

An ESB spokesman said once major repairs are completed, lines to smaller groups of customers and individual homes will be restored, but this could take up to the middle of next week at best and may be further complicated if Storm Brian unleashes more destruction.

The ESB is also working with the council on clearing downed cables and trees on a number of minor roads, many of which may not reopen for several days.

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Flooding near Knockraha Co Cork yesterday. Picture: Eddie O’Hare

A number of county council offices and depots still remain without power or phone connection.

A council spokeswoman said people experiencing difficulties contacting their services should ring their incident line at 021 4800048, which will remain operational for at least the next 48 hours.

Because of the predicted further adverse weather the council is advising motorists to drive with caution because of remaining debris on the roads, surface water and the possibility that more trees could fall.

The local authority said it will continue to tweet updates (@CorkCoCo) as well as publishing them on CorkCoCo.ie.

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Towns brace for flooding as Storm Brian nears

2017-10-20

Towns along the south coast are braced for flooding as Storm Brian is set to batter the country. Towns along the south coast are braced for flooding as Storm Brian is set to batter the country. As ESB and Irish Water crews braved atrocious weather conditions yesterday to restore power and water to thousands of customers still reeling from Ophelia, wind speeds of up to 130km/h are forecast for tomorrow. A storm surge and heavy rain will combine with high tides this evening to increase the risk of flooding in low-lying coastal areas along the west and south. Met Eireann has triggered a nationwide yellow wind warning but has issued an upgraded orange wind warning for counties Kerry, Cork, Galway, Mayo, Wexford, Clare, and Waterford for tomorrow. About 50,000 ESB customers are still without power — the majority in Cork with areas of Bandon, Dunmanway and Fermoy worst hit. Flooding on Centre Park Road, Cork, yesterday as the country prepared for wet weather and stormy conditions with the arrival of Brian. Picture: Larry Cummins Crews from Northern Powergrid in England, and 1 Engineering Corps soldiers from Collins Barracks, Cork, backed by the Air Corps were involved in the repair work around Dunmanway yesterday. About 18,000 customers in Co Wexford are without power, with Enniscorthy, Wexford town, and New Ross areas worst hit. Crews from ERDF were to board a ferry from France last night for Rosslare where they will be deployed in Enniscorthy today. The ESB said its crews are working field by field, tree by tree, and pole by pole to restore power, and expect to use the equivalent of three months of supplies in the restoration effort — 3,000 poles, 700km of conductor cable and 500 transformers. Cork County Council has now warned of potential tidal flooding in low-lying areas of Bantry, Clonakilty, Youghal and Midleton from 6pm today. Sandbags will be available at local council depots this morning. More than 30mm of rain fell in Cork yesterday morning, triggering widespread flash floods, and severe localised flooding in the city. However, council engineers said the city centre should escape major flooding this evening. With heavy rain expected, there is a minor risk of flooding at Morrison’s Island, South Terrace and Wandesford Quay from 5.30pm to 7.30pm due to high tides, with the main impact affecting traffic movement only. No tidal flooding is expected on Saturday. Rector Robert Ferris opened Blarney Church of Ireland yesterday to help people without water and electricity by providing tea, coffee, mobile phone chargers, water bottles, and desks for people who needed to work or do homework. Carrigaline soccer club and Ballincollig rugby club are among the sports clubs who have made their dressing rooms available for people who need to shower or fill water bottles. The Vienna Woods Hotel has made rooms available for people and the Ballygarvan Community Centre also opened last night to allow people boil kettles, or fill water drums or flasks. Meanwhile, local authorities have pleaded with people to stay out of public parks which have been closed for health and safety reasons. Cork County Council said work is ongoing to deal with damaged trees in the Regional Park, Ballincollig, where a large number of other trees are vulnerable. Fianna Fáil councillor Daithí Ó Donnabháin said: “Whereas this may be an inconvenience for some people the health and safety of park users is our concern.”[...]



Storm Brian’s winds to be weaker ‘in general’ than Ophelia

2017-10-20

Met Éireann is predicting that “in general”, the winds which Storm Brian brings to the country this weekend will not be as severe as Ophelia.

Met Éireann is predicting that “in general”, the winds which Storm Brian brings to the country this weekend will not be as severe as Ophelia.

Nonetheless there are Status Orange wind alerts — the second highest status — for Galway, Mayo, Wexford, Clare, Cork, Kerry, and Waterford tomorrow.

Gusts of up to 130km/h are again predicted at times in coastal parts of Munster, Connacht, and also Wexford, with Met Éireann saying there is a risk of coastal flooding as Storm Brian tracks eastwards across central and southern parts of the country.

The orange status applies to Galway and Mayo from 6am until 6pm tomorrow while in the other four counties, it begins at midnight and lasts until noon. The whole country is under a yellow wind warning from 10pm today until the same time tomorrow.

In an overall weather advisory, Met Éireann said: ”A rapidly deepening depression in the mid-Atlantic (Storm Brian) is expected to fill as it tracks over parts of Ireland overnight Friday and early on Saturday. In general, the winds in most parts of the country will not be as severe as on Monday. Various parts of the country will experience strong winds at different times during this period, with northern counties probably not encountering peak winds until Saturday afternoon.”

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Flooding on Centre Park Road, Cork, yesterday as the country prepared for wet weather and stormy conditions with the arrival of Brian. Picture: Larry Cummins

Cork City Council said heavy rainfall is expected throughout today in the city and it asked motorists to exercise caution: “There is a minor risk of flooding at Morrisons Island, South Terrace and Wandesford Quay from 5.30pm to 7.30pm due to high tides.

“The situation will continue to be monitored and another update will issue in the morning after 11am. It is expected that the main impact of any tidal flooding will only be on traffic.”

For tomorrow it said: “People should travel with care because many trees and buildings remain damaged and unstable following Hurricane Ophelia. Heavy rain may result in localised surface flooding. No tidal flooding expected on Saturday.”

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Defibrillator group honours Corkman who died playing football

2017-10-20

A group formed following the untimely death of a Corkman have vowed to continue their efforts to raise awareness of the undiagnosed condition that led to his passing.

A group formed following the untimely death of a Corkman have vowed to continue their efforts to raise awareness of the undiagnosed condition that led to his passing.

Fermoy man Kevin O’Flynn was just 34 when he collapsed and died while playing football with his friends in 2015.

It was later discovered that he had an undiagnosed heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, in which the walls of his heart were thicker than usual.

“It is a thickening over time,” Kevin’s brother Shane explained. “And then when you’re very active the body suddenly can’t pump blood. He just dropped suddenly.

“He was a fully fit guy, he had run 10k the day before he died.”

Shane and others who were shocked at Kevin’s passing formed a group that looked to fundraise for a defibrillator for Fermoy, a goal that was achieved with the device’s official unveiling on Wednesday night.

The group have raised more than €3,000 to date. An annual Kevin O’Flynn Memorial Cup football competition due to be held tomorrow was postponed until early 2018 due to the damage caused to the pitch by ex-hurricane Ophelia.

Kevin worked as a porter at Cork University Hospital, and his former colleagues did a sponsored walk last June 21 — a short walk on the longest day — in his memory.

The defibrillator is located on the external wall of the AIB branch in the town square, and the bank also provides power to the cabinet housing the device.

The group has thanked the bank, builders, and others who provided their services to make the defibrillator a reality.

However, Shane says they still want to achieve more.

“When Kevin died, no one knew what to do,” he said. “By the time a defibrillator would have got to him it was too late. What we have learned now is that CPR needed to be done straight away.

“Our next big thing is to create a culture of awareness of how to perform CPR and chest compressions. We’ve started training nights, and had eight people in the Fermoy Youth Centre in January.

“But we want to go further. We want to get it into schools so young people will know what to do. People need to know what to do if someone drops in front of them, to not be afraid and to know that doing something is better than doing nothing.

“Ring 999 or 112 for help, but in the meantime start doing compressions and ask for a defibrillator.”

Shane also wants more screening for heart problems such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and awareness that fitness has no bearing on such conditions. He points to the ex-Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, who retired from the game after he was found to have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy during a routine medical.

“Who knows, if it was picked up before, Kevin may still be alive,” Shane said.

His brother’s legacy lives on, however, in the plaque that adorns the wall above the new defibrillator in the centre of Fermoy.

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UCC researchers want to hear about people's movie memories

2017-10-20

Did you see Mad Max in Macroom? Or Footloose in Fermoy? If so, a team of researchers from University College Cork want to hear your movie memories.

Did you see Mad Max in Macroom? Or Footloose in Fermoy? If so, a team of researchers from University College Cork want to hear your movie memories.

Rural moviegoers have been asked to give their accounts of going out to the pictures as part of a project aimed at documenting the role the cinema has played in small town life in Co Cork.

The project, titled ‘Movie Going Memories’, will record interviews with filmgoers for a web-based archive and a short documentary that will be premiered at the Schull Short Film Festival in May 2018.

While Cork City’s storied history of cinemas, such as the Imperial, Lido, Savoy, and the Pavilion, is well documented, this project aims to document theatres in towns across the county of Cork.

“We’re particularly interested in hearing from those that have memories of going to films in rural areas of Cork,” said the organisers of the project.

“We want to explore the role of the cinema in small town rural life, its cultural and personal importance, and how that might have changed over the years.”

Potential participants will be invited to UCC’s campus to be interviewed for the project. The project has received funding from Cork County Council, through the Creative Ireland initiative, and from UCC.

Those interested in getting involved are asked to contact team leaders Gwenda Young, co-head of Film and Screen Media at UCC, and Dan O’Connell, practitioner in residence in Film and Screen Media at UCC.

They can be reached on moviememories.cork @gmail.com, and more details are available on ucc.ie/en/filmstudies.

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Central Bank ‘failed in duty’ over tracker mortgage

2017-10-20

The Central Bank has been accused of a “dereliction of duty” after advising customers in dispute with banks over the tracker mortgage scandal to contact the financial services ombudsman or take legal proceedings themselves — despite believing the banks in question are in the wrong.The Central Bank has been accused of a “dereliction of duty” after advising customers in dispute with banks over the tracker mortgage scandal to contact the financial services ombudsman or take legal proceedings themselves — despite believing the banks in question are in the wrong.Governor Philip Lane told the Oireachtas finance committee that he expects to see more people affected than the 23 previously confirmed to have lost their homes because of the scandal, with 79 more buy-to-lets lost. Mr Lane said 13,000 customers have been confirmed to be wronged, up from 9,900 it confirmed in March — adding that he expects the number to grow. Approximately 60% of these cases arose as a result of customers not receiving a tracker product, Mr Lane said. The remaining 40% relate to them not receiving the correct tracker margin. The scandal occurred when banks incorrectly charged tracker customers higher rates for their loans. The financial adviser who exposed the scandal, Padraic Kissane, said he expects the number to be more than 30,000 when the review is complete. Cases date back to the financial crash of the last decade. The watchdog’s review includes an examination of 2m mortgages across 15 lenders. Just 3,300 customers have been repaid the money wrongly charged to them, as well as compensation. Some €120m has now been paid, up from €78m in March. The €120m is in addition to the €36.8m redress and compensation provided by Permanent TSB and €6.2m by Springboard Mortgages before the tracker examination began. Mr Lane said if the watchdog itself initiated legal enforcement proceedings against banks guilty of wrongly charging tracker holders since its own powers were beefed up in August 2013, it could be “too cumbersome” and would lead to lengthy delays in the overall scandal being unravelled fully. Mr Lane said “the reality of enforcement powers” mean “a lot of delays” if it is to build a case against a bank disputing a tracker mortgage case. Furthermore, the Central Bank has no power to order compensation for cases pre-August 2013. Most cases date to before that date. He said it would be “much better to persuade banks” to resolve issues with customers instead of engaging in an adversarial process, and that he hopes “moral persuasion” and public perception will suffice. This is despite Mr Lane admitting some of the banks within the Central Bank’s review of the tracker mortgage scandal are not as forthcoming with the watchdog as others. Mr Lane said: “We have two enforcement cases open, two more are in train, and I expect more to follow. We will continue to provide updates to the public on our examination and enforcement actions as this work continues.” Mr Lane said 26 staff of the Central Bank — it has more 1,600 in total — are working on the scandal, described by TD Michael McGrath as “one of the biggest consumer rip-offs in the history of the State”. TD Pearse Doherty said it is “shocking” and a “dereliction of duty” that the Central Bank is advising customers who may be affected to take legal proceedings instead of the watchdog: “It is a terrible signal to lenders. It’s like a dog that [...]



Government to pursue banks over scandal, vows Richard Bruton

2017-10-20

The Government will ruthlessly pursue banks for their failures to address the tracker mortgage scandal and may increase the bank levy, create new taxes or ask the gardaí to become involved if necessary, says Education Minister Richard Bruton.The Government will ruthlessly pursue banks for their failures to address the tracker mortgage scandal and may increase the bank levy, create new taxes or ask the gardaí to become involved if necessary, says Education Minister Richard Bruton.He issued the warning and said the Coalition “will not flinch” despite Fianna Fáil claims that the Government was allowing banks to have “slithered and slid” away from the escalating crisis. Speaking during the latest Dáil leaders questions debate and as fresh calls were made for those affected to be immediately compensated, Mr Bruton — standing in for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who is in Brussels — said what was happening to tens of thousands of homeowners was unacceptable and must end. Echoing Central Bank governor Philip Lane, he said banks breaching clear rules would be ruthlessly pursued, and said bank levy increases and Garda investigations may be sought. “Any failures by the banks should be ruthlessly pursued. We have no truck with behaviour that brings people to the state of frustration and dismay we have seen. “The Taoiseach was very clear yesterday that any powers the Central Bank needs will be provided and that the Government will not be afraid to take other measures, including enhancing the bank levy which is set to raise €750m between now and 2021. “The Government takes this extremely seriously. Given the appalling trauma in our economy and our society caused by bad bank lending and poor regulation, there is now an absolute obligation on banks to fulfill their responsibilities to their clients. “The Central Bank has made clear that it is engaging with other statutory bodies, including the Garda Síochána, so there is no flinching from pursuing this,” he said. However, despite the strength of the comment, Fianna Fáil public expenditure spokesman Dara Calleary lashed out at the Government for its response, claiming it has done little to act and is allowing banks to have “slithered and slid” away from the issue. Hitting out at the situation, Mr Calleary said that while “everybody will agree the way the banks have treated those on tracker mortgages is abominable, to say the least”, the Taoiseach’s sudden interest in the issue does not mean “it just happened today”. He said the “last-minute attempts by Government to threaten banks to fix it or face a levy” will fail to hold anyone accountable, and that banks have simply “slithered and slid away from what they were supposed to do legally, financially and morally”. “Banks have caused enough stress in this country. They brought the country to its knees and, given that experience, they should have woken up to their corporate responsibilities, their social responsibilities and their moral responsibilities,” he said. Mr Calleary said the Government must put new laws in place to address the scandal, and questioned if Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe’s meeting with banks next Monday and Wednesday to “admonish” them will lead to any concrete solutions. “The people affected do not need tea and sympathy but action, compensation and, most important, justice,” he said. Social Democrats TD Catherine [...]



Victims of the Wangiri phone scam warned they are 'responsible for their own usage'

2017-10-20

Victims of the Wangiri phone scam who are worried about their next bill should contact their provider but have been warned that they are “responsible for their own usage”.

Victims of the Wangiri phone scam who are worried about their next bill should contact their provider but have been warned that they are “responsible for their own usage”.

In recent weeks, thousands of Irish mobile phone users have been hit with the calls, which is a common form of fraud worldwide.

While many mobile operators block the numbers once identified, customers have also been warned that they are responsible for all calls they make and will be billed accordingly.

The scam involves a fraudster calling numbers — often using an autodialling machine — from another country. The call will hang up after one ring in the hope the person who gets the missed call will ring back. If the person does so, the objective is to keep them on the line as long as possible in order to generate revenue for the fraudster. The victim of the scam will suffer the consequences on their next bill.

Three is advising customers not to answer or return calls to numbers they do not recognise. However, it also warned customers that they are ultimately responsible for the calls they make.

“If a customer has been affected by this we would encourage them to contact us to report it. Customers are responsible for their own usage,” said a statement.

Eir said the scam is an “industry-wide problem” and advised customers not to answer or return calls to unknown foreign numbers.

“There is no charge incurred when people answer calls from these numbers, only when they call back, and the longer someone stays on the phone the higher the charge will be,” it said. “Eir proactively prevents customers from calling known fraudulent international numbers and we block new numbers as and when they become known.”

Vodafone has issued the same advice and is blocking fraudulent numbers.

ComReg said victims who are worried about the impact their error will have on their bill should contact their phone operator: “If a customer has a concern in relation to their bill they should contact their provider. The mobile network providers are also aware of the scam.”

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Leo Varadkar hopes 8th Amendment debate will meet deadline

2017-10-20

The Taoiseach is hoping a cross-party committee examining Ireland’s abortion laws will meet a December deadline on a decision after the members voted, by a majority in favour of not retaining the Eighth Amendment “in full”.The Taoiseach is hoping a cross-party committee examining Ireland’s abortion laws will meet a December deadline on a decision after the members voted, by a majority in favour of not retaining the Eighth Amendment “in full”.Leo Varadkar said the vote has reassured him that the tight deadline will be met despite growing tension within the committee, and amid a likelihood at least two dissenting reports may be released by some committee members. Furthermore, a witness who opposes repealing the Eighth Amendment is expected to say she will not attend a hearing of the committee next week due to an alleged pro-choice bias. On Wednesday, the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment voted in favour of not retaining article 40.3.3 of the Constitution in full. The 15 to three vote, with two abstentions and one non-appearance by a Fianna Fáil member, was based on a proposal put forward by Sinn Féin’s Jonathan O’Brien and seconded by Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher. It means the committee has now formally accepted the public will need to be asked to change the Constitution to some extent in relation to abortion laws, and the committee can further begin examining what this means in detail. Arriving at the EU Council summit in Brussels yesterday, Mr Varadkar welcomed the committee’s initial vote. Asked if he is confident the committee can reach its conclusions by mid-December, he said: “I’m aware of the decision that the committee made and my objective obviously, what I’d like to do really is to wait until the committee comes with its conclusions in December. “I am confident though the committee will be able to come to conclusions and I think the fact that they had a vote and started making decisions yesterday gives me some assurance that they will be able to come to conclusions by the end of December which the Government can then take forward in the new year. “We would like to have as much and as broad consensus as is possible and I want to give them the opportunity to hear all the evidence before coming to their final viewpoint.” Meanwhile, consultant psychiatrist Patricia Casey pulled out of a planned appearance before the committee, labelling its work “biased” and “unbalanced”. In a statement yesterday, Prof Casey, newspaper columnist and co-founder of the religious think-tank the Iona Institute, said she is “unwilling to participate in a process that is so deeply imbalanced in respect of those invited to present evidence”. “It has become increasingly clear that the process of the committee has been so arranged as to reach a pre-set decision without balanced consideration of any evidence that runs contrary to this pre-determined outcome,” she said. The view was repeated by lobby group the Pro-Life Campaign and Independent senator Rónán Mullen, who clashed with Fine Gael TD Kate O’Connell yesterday, claiming the vote showed the committee’s bias. However, Ms O’Connell, the National Women’s Council of Ireland, and others welcomed the initial vote. It is believed that Mr Mullen and Independent TD Mattie McGrath may publish an alternative version of any of the committee&rs[...]



No opt-out for religious if abortion laws liberalised

2017-10-20

Public hospitals will be obliged to provide abortion services if they are legalised here, regardless of their religious ethos, the HSE and the Minister for Health have both said.Public hospitals will be obliged to provide abortion services if they are legalised here, regardless of their religious ethos, the HSE and the Minister for Health have both said.They were responding to comments by Peter Boylan, former master of the National Maternity Hospital, that some hospitals with a Catholic ethos might try to opt out if next year’s planned referendum and any subsequent legislation paves the way for terminations to be performed here. Health Minister Simon Harris described Dr Boylan’s testimony to the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment as “very powerful” but he was in no doubt about the duties of hospitals. “I believe that if the Irish people make a decision to make a health service available then that should be available in the public health service,” he said. He said there was also a view in advance of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act that some hospitals would not provide terminations even in the very limited circumstances provided for in that law but he said there was no evidence of this to date. “Hospitals in this country operate under the law of the land,” he said. “Hospitals in this country are funded to operate under the law of the land and to deliver our public health services.” That view was echoed by Peter McKenna, clinical director of the HSE’s National Women and Infant Health Programme, who said the HSE would respond with the services required to meet any changes that may result from the referendum. “Our role then would be to implement whatever the law of the land is, as safely as possible,” said Dr McKenna. “We don’t have a role in influencing what that law will be and we wouldn’t have an opinion on that because we are here purely to implement, as an arm of the State, what the State decides to be legal.” He said, however, that it was too soon to plan for providing abortion clinics or other facilities. “We will have to see first of all what the question is [in the referendum] and then what the answer is and then design a State service around that,” he said. The doctors were speaking at the publication of the long-awaited implementation plan for the National Maternity Strategy, which was published in January 2016. Under the as-yet uncosted strategy, an extra 100 midwives have been hired and the recruitment of 100 obstetricians is being targetted over 10 years, along with additional sonographers to perform ultrasound scans and other specialist staff including experts in addiction counselling, perinatal psychiatry, breastfeeding support, and investigation of infant and maternal deaths and other adverse incidents. Mr Harris said confidence in the country’s maternity services had been rocked by a succession of deaths and other incidents and he said his thoughts were with those families whose tragic experiences had helped shape the strategy. “It is as a result of their experiences that we have said as a country and as a health service that we want to do better, we must do better, we will do better,” he said.[...]



‘Engineering, science struggling over funding shortfalls’

2017-10-20

Engineering and science programmes have been struggling to cope with funding shortfalls, the acting president of Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) has said.Engineering and science programmes have been struggling to cope with funding shortfalls, the acting president of Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) has said.Barry O’Connor suggested new funding approaches to incentivise lifelong learning and collaboration between colleges need to be considered. He said there is now a realisation that specific shortfalls have been felt in all areas of engineering and applied science education. Mr O’Connor was referring to changes to how provision of science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) is funded, saying that it does not match the weighting allocated to those areas before the increases to undergraduate fees that now stand at €3,000 a year. “As the single biggest engineering school on the island of Ireland, CIT has had to work hard to stay true to the State’s mission of developing a strong engineering, technology, and ICT sector,” he said. Mr O’Connor was speaking to science and engineering graduates at the first of four days of conferrings at the college yesterday. However, he said his concerns were not restricted to STEM education, as he said that CIT has had to cope with similar funding deficiencies in music and art. CIT operates Cork School of Music and Crawford College of Art and Design (CCAD) in the city centre. “It is a credit to all CIT staff that these areas have continued to thrive in terms of student numbers, initiation of new programmes, improved student experience, academic success, and retention rates, all in the teeth of probably the most significant funding crisis ever to hit higher education,” Mr O’Connor said. He said the development of a new apprentice programme in manufacturing engineering was a good example of the kind of lifelong learning championed at the Unesco learning cities conference hosted by Cork last month. Such models of apprenticeship, he said, mark a start towards implementing flexible pathways to higher education. He said the State could help widen that flexibility in the delivery of third-level education with a credit allowance scheme like that used in other countries, where each learner would be supported. Students who have completed some of the joint degrees awarded by CIT in partnership with University College Cork will be conferred at this evening’s ceremony. The colleges introduced the first jointly-awarded degrees in the country in the biomedical science area, and have subsequently partnered on architecture, art and design, and a new industrial physics degree whose first students were enrolled last month. “If the State were to effectively encourage inter-institutional academic collaborations, as it incentivises collaborative research, it would release a large portfolio of innovative programmes by partnering complementary teams of hitherto unconnected academics designing and delivering new degree programmes on a regional or national basis,” said Mr O’Connor. “The new model of industry-based university-level apprenticeships shows a certain move in this direction, which is very welcome.” CIT was one of 11 institutes of technology to be told this week that its capital projects are being included in a $200m public-private partnership announced by the Department of Education. It will provide a learning re[...]



Judge won’t reject drink-drive cases

2017-10-20

A judge has refused to strike out approximately 45 cases of alleged drink-driving because of an ongoing delay in hearing them.

A judge has refused to strike out approximately 45 cases of alleged drink-driving because of an ongoing delay in hearing them.

The cases were due to be mentioned at Letterkenny District Court in Co Donegal yesterday.

They have been delayed for a number of months following a challenge being heard in the Supreme Court.

As highlighted in yesterday’s Irish Examiner, the legal challenge was taken by a Romanian man, Mihai Avadanei, over his 2014 prosecution for alleged drink-driving in Dublin.

The case is being taken on claims that the print-out from the intoxilyser machine operated by gardaí should be in both English and Irish, as written in the Road Traffic Act, 2010.

Up to 30 similar cases were struck out last week in Dungarvan after Judge Terence Finn said a considerable amount of time had passed since the legal matter was before the courts and it would be unsafe to now hear the cases.

Solicitor Ciaran Mac Lochlainn raised the issue on behalf of one client and asked Judge Paul Kelly to strike out the case because of the delay in hearing it.

More than 45 cases of alleged drink-driving were due to be mentioned.

However, Garda Inspector Michael Harrison,head of the Donegal Traffic Corps, said that, in most of the cases, justice has not been delayed.

He added that the decision by the Supreme Court is a matter of public interest.

Mr MacLochlainn said there was the issue that the delays were costing clients money in dealing with their solicitors on the matter.

However, Judge Paul Kelly said that was an issue between defendants and their solicitors. He said he was not acceding to Mr MacLochlainn’s application and he adjourned all cases until December 21.

He added: “These adjournments have been facilitated by the courts and it would be unfair to simply strike them all out at this stage.”

Gardaí did strike out one pending case after it was found that the accused had since passed away.

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Ministers launch text mobile location rescue service

2017-10-20

The emergency services have launched a service that will enable some mobile phones to send the exact location of those calling 999 to emergency services.

The emergency services have launched a service that will enable some mobile phones to send the exact location of those calling 999 to emergency services.

The service has been heralded as a significant development that will improve response times to emergencies in rural locations, and potentially save lives.

In most cases, the advanced mobile location service will give the emergency services a person’s location within 50m of where they are making the call, with pilot testing finding the estimated average accuracy is within 25m.

Advanced mobile location works by automatically finding a phone’s GPS co-ordinates and sending a text message to the call centre when a 112 or 999 number is dialled. The co-ordinates are immediately passed to the emergency services in responding and dispatching emergency personnel to callers.

However, the service is only available on Android phones. When an emergency call is made with an advanced mobile location-enabled smartphone, the device automatically activates its location service during the first 25 seconds of the call and attempts to establish its position.

Google’s built-in location services, used by apps such as Google Maps, are used to determine the phone’s location using GPS information, nearby wifi signals, and nearby mobile masts. Once a location is known, the device sends information via automatic text to the Emergency Call Answering Service, which answers all emergency calls in Ireland and connects callers to the requested emergency service.

The advanced mobile location is made available to the emergency services when the emergency call is connected to them. The advanced mobile location service automatically kicks in when a 999 or 112 call is made, and there is no need for the caller to do anything extra to activate the process. Furthermore, there is no app required for the service. It is present in Android phones with the 4.4 ‘KitKat’ operating system that has version 9 of Google Play Services.

The Department of Communications, Climate Action, and Environment launched the service yesterday, and said advanced mobile location locations are transmitted directly to the Emergency Call Answering Service and are available to the emergency services on a call-by-call basis only.

Communications Minister Denis Naughten said Emergency Call Answering Service receives, on average, 4,000 mobile calls per day and that Android market penetration stands at over 50% here.

“This means the new system will be a huge benefit to people in need and to the emergency services across the country, but particularly in rural areas,” he said.

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