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Updated: 2017-04-26T21:04:17+01:00

 



‘I tried to stop stab attack on boyfriend’

2017-04-26

A woman has told a murder trial that she tried to intervene while her boyfriend was being stabbed to death by two men.

A woman has told a murder trial that she tried to intervene while her boyfriend was being stabbed to death by two men.

Sharon Kelly was giving evidence in the trial of two men accused of murdering 31-year-old Shane Murphy at The Grove, Pallasgreen, Co Limerick on April 30, 2015.

Dylan Hayes, aged 22, of The Crescent, Kilteragh, Dooradoyle, Co Limerick, and Ger Hogan, aged 33, of Raheen Square, Ballinacurra Weston, Co Limerick, have pleaded not guilty.

Ms Kelly told Paul Burns SC, prosecuting, that she and Mr Murphy had been a couple for about three months by the end of April 2015. 

On the day that Mr Murphy died, Ms Kelly and Mr Murphy were at her home with Ailish Flood and Jodie Byrnes, and one of the accused, Mr Hogan. 

Ms Flood and Ms Byrnes went to a local shop to get alcohol and came back with Druid’s Glen cider and beer. At that point Ms Kelly, who was not drinking, said the atmosphere in the house was “fine” but when Ms Byrnes told her Mr Hayes was on his way over, Ms Kelly told her he would not be allowed in.

She said that Mr Hayes knocked on the door and entered with a man she later found out was named Graham Kelly. The witness noticed Mr Hayes had a gun in his hand, but she did not know if it was real. 

Ms Kelly told Mr Burns she was “very unhappy” about Mr Hayes being in the house.

“I told them to get out,” she said, but Mr Hayes said he wanted to speak to Ms Byrnes and he wanted to “sort out” a man named Wayne. 

Ms Kelly had already given evidence that a neighbour named Wayne had arrived at the house the previous night and got into bed with Ms Byrnes while she slept. 

Ms Kelly said Wayne had been was drunk and did not know what he was doing and left when told to go.

She said that, normally, Mr Murphy and Mr Hogan got on “like a house on fire” but when Mr Hayes arrived the atmosphere changed.

“They were slagging each other off,” she said, before she intervened and called Mr Hayes a “junkie”.

“Dylan headbutted me,” she said. 

Then Mr Murphy told Mr Hayes to “cop on and have a bit of respect” before telling him to leave. She said Mr Hogan was “egging Dylan on”.

“I said to Shane: ‘I want them to leave,’ so he stood up to tell them to go once and for all but as far as I can remember that is when he got stabbed first.”

She said she tried to get in between Mr Murphy and the two men but she was pushed out of the way.

“They were both stabbing him,” she said. 

She said Mr Hayes was using a screwdriver while Mr Hogan used a knife. She said the attack felt like a lifetime but probably only lasted about four or five minutes. By the end, Mr Murphy was on the floor covered in blood. 

She wrapped him in a blanket but Mr Hayes and Mr Hogan came back and started stabbing him again.

“I tried to stop them,” she said. 

“I tried kicking and screaming to try and stop them.”

She said she got stabbed in her hands and back.

As the attack happened, Ms Byrnes called the emergency services and when Mr Hogan and Mr Hayes left the scene they tried to instruct Ms Kelly on how to give CPR and to stem the flow of blood. 

At one point, she said Mr Hogan came back again and said: “Ah, he’ll be all right.”

By the time the ambulance and gardaí arrived, “Shane was gone”, said Ms Kelly.

She will return to giving evidence at the Central Criminal Court tomorrow.

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Leo Varadkar ‘overstated’ amount saved by anti-fraud measures

2017-04-26

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has been accused of massively overstating the amounts saved by the State in anti-fraud measures.

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has been accused of massively overstating the amounts saved by the State in anti-fraud measures.

Last week, to much fanfare, Mr Varadkar launched a major anti-fraud campaign calling on members of the public to report those they suspect of engaging in fraud.

At that stage, it was claimed that over €500m was saved through a range of anti-fraud and control measures in the Department of Social Protection.

However, Eoin Ó Broin, Sinn Fein TD for Dublin Mid-West, said the actual amount recouped relating to fraud was far lower, just €41m.

He said that, after examining figures given to him from Mr Varadkar’s department, it appeared the total amount of over-payments to welfare recipients was also much lower than the €500m figure quoted by the minister.

He added that it turns out that the figures quoted include estimates of what would have been saved over 52 weeks for some welfare types and 136 weeks in others, rather than what was actually saved.

“These numbers are a joke and a blatant attempt to gain exposure ahead of a leadership race rather than a genuine attempt to tackle fraud,” Mr O’Broin said.

In response to the Mr O’Broin’s criticisms, Mr Varadkar told the Irish Examiner: “Sinn Féin’s opposition to the anti-fraud campaign is unsurprising. 

"It’s central to that party’s strategy to convince their political base that they should get everything for free, and that it should all be paid for by someone else through general taxation.

“We all know what that means. General taxation is the far-left’s code for higher taxes on the middle class. 

"These are your tax euros that Sinn Féin would happily allow to be squandered on someone else’s waste and fraud, rather than those in genuine need.”

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Man told bank teller he had bomb in ‘harebrained’ robbery attempt

2017-04-26

An American who was down on his luck in Cork walked into a bank and passed a note to the teller saying he would set off a bomb, killing them all, if he did not get cash.

An American who was down on his luck in Cork walked into a bank and passed a note to the teller saying he would set off a bomb, killing them all, if he did not get cash.

Geremy Justus, aged 38, of no fixed address, went to AIB on St Patrick’s Street on March 27 and handed a note to the employee.

Inspector Adrian Gamble said the note stated: “This is a robbery. I have a bomb in my bag. Give me the money or I will kill us all.”

Justus pleaded guilty to attempted bank robbery.

Frank Buttimer, solicitor, said that half an hour after the ill-fated crime, Justus gave himself up at Bridewell Garda Station and confessed to what he had done. 

Mr Buttimer said that with no disrespect to his client, it was clearly a harebrained attempt at a robbery.

“He ended up in Cork, he ran out of money, not least because of his alcohol addiction. And he came up with this most unusual idea. It could never have been successful,” he said.

Mr Buttimer said that apart from passing over the note, there was no physical confrontation and Justus left empty-handed.

He said Justus had been psychiatrically assessed during his remand in Cork Prison. 

He had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of violence witnessed as a child and suffered from alcoholism.

Judge Olann Kelleher adjourned sentencing to Friday so the victim could have an opportunity to describe the impact of the crime on her.

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Headshop drug treatments fell 50% after ban in 2010

2017-04-26

The number of people treated for abusing former headshop drugs dropped dramatically following the introduction of laws effectively banning the trade, research indicates.

The number of people treated for abusing former headshop drugs dropped dramatically following the introduction of laws effectively banning the trade, research indicates.

The research, the first national study on the impact of the laws, found average treatment rates for new psychoactive substances (NPS) fell by almost 50% in the two years after laws were introduced in 2010.

“Over the two years after the enactment of prohibition-styled legislation targeting NPS and headshops, the rate of NPS related addiction treatment episodes among young adults declined progressively and substantially,” concluded researchers.

They said during the same time period — 2010 to 2012 — there was no similar trend in relation to the treatment of other drugs, which remained stable.

The study was carried out by consultant psychiatrist Bobby Smyth of the Department of Public Health at Trinity College Dublin, Suzi Lyons of the Health Research Board, and Walter Cullen of the School of Medicine at UCD.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Dr Smyth said: “From a public health point of view, to get a 50% reduction is very substantial and significant.

“It supports the view that the action taken by the government then was a reasonable course of action.”

He said that, among young people who never sought treatment previously the drop was greater, at 66%.

Between 2009 and 2010, there was a major increase in the number of headshops, peaking at 102 stores by May 2010, some of them operating 24 hours a day.

The then government extended a legislative ban on NPS, adding 100 substances, in the Misuse of Drugs Act in May 2010.

The Psychoactive Substances Act was introduced in August 2010, banning the sale of any such substances and effectively closed down headshops.

The number of shops fell to 10 by October and, by year’s end, gardaí reported that the remaining shops were no longer selling NPS.

One review claimed the laws were excessive and driven by “moral panic”.

The latest research, published in Drug and Alcohol Review, examined data from the National Drug Treatment Report System.

This documented 58,251 treatment cases over the four years, including 849 where NPS was the problem drug.

Some 756 (89%) of the NPS cases involved young adults, aged 18-34. These cases soared from nine in early 2009 to 122 in mid-2010. Thereafter, it dropped to a low of 38 at the close of 2012.

Dr Smyth said the continued, although significantly reduced, use suggested that users were getting the drug elsewhere — through criminal networks or online.

He said the issue persisted as a particular problem among heroin injectors.

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Abortion legislation: Vote urged on entire findings by Citizens’ Assembly

2017-04-26

A Government minister is urging the Dáil and Seanad not to block the abortion recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly, saying that providing there is no “legal impediment”, the findings should not be “interfered with”.

A Government minister is urging the Dáil and Seanad not to block the abortion recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly, saying that providing there is no “legal impediment”, the findings should not be “interfered with”.

Minister of state for skills and training and Independent Alliance TD John Halligan made the comment, adding there must now be a referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

Speaking to reporters at the launch of a €6.7 million joint research investment by Science Foundation Ireland and the UK research council, Mr Halligan said it would be wrong for politicians to prevent the proposed legal changes.

While emphasising that he has “the utmost respect for arguments on both sides”, he said voting on the recommendations that have been made is “the only way you are going to settle this”.

The assembly has recommended allowing for abortion in Ireland for a range of circumstances and has given the Oireachtas a mandate to now debate this and the possibility of a referendum on the issues.

Mr Halligan said: “I happen to be pro-choice but I know there are other people who are pro-life, and I think the only way you are going to settle this is not that it would be settled by politicians but settled by the people of Ireland. Let them have a referendum or a vote, and that’s it, whatever way it falls it falls and we have to accept it.”

Asked if he agrees with a 2018 referendum date, Mr Halligan said: “The sooner it’s held the better.”

He acknowledged that legislative procedures will have to take place on the back of the Citizens’ Assembly’s recommendations, but insists that politicians must not block its findings: “I don’t think that [blocking or watering down the findings] can happen, because the Citizens’ Assembly was set up essentially to make recommendations and they would be the judges of what would come before the people of Ireland. 

"Providing that it doesn’t interfere with the constitution or there’s not a legal impediment, I don’t think they should be interfered with.”

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone yesterday also echoed other comments from ministers and said she believes a referendum should go ahead next year: “I think first of all it’s now over to the politicians to respond to what the Citizens’ Assembly, the advice they have provided to us, and we need to do it as quickly as possible. 

"So the ad hoc special committee needs to be established, to get moving, for the recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly, and I see no reason why we can’t have a referendum as early as the spring of next year.

“It will be difficult, but one of the reasons I recommended we did have a Citizens’ Assembly initially is that some of the issues would not only be aired but that our citizens would be able to engage with the experts and on the basis of that make decisions and recommendations to the politicians.”

Fine Gael parliamentary party chairman Martin Heydon said he did not know which way he would vote in any referendum. 

Mr Heydon said a lot of people wanted to know how “liberal” a regime for terminations might be before deciding how they would vote in a referendum.

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Simon Harris: Month to save maternity hospital project

2017-04-26

Health Minister Simon Harris is seeking a one-month national maternity hospital reprieve in a bid to rescue the crisis-hit project from the brink of collapse.Health Minister Simon Harris is seeking a one-month national maternity hospital reprieve in a bid to rescue the crisis-hit project from the brink of collapse.Mr Harris announced the move as the hospital itself became embroiled in a fresh scandal over its attempt to remove board member Peter Boylan by text message over his criticisms of religious involvement in the site. As St Vincent’s Healthcare Group separately published the new national maternity hospital’s legal independence assurances and said will carry out any legal procedure - potentially including abortions - once it opens, Mr Harris attempted to cool tensions surrounding the controversy. In a statement, he said the facility will not receive planning permission before autumn and he wants to spend the next month meeting all groups in a bid to clarify the exact legal and clinical independence issues at stake. “The minister repeats his request that some time be allowed for the detailed work that is necessary. He intends to report to Government on this project at the end of May,” said a spokesperson for Mr Harris. The attempt to calm the controversy came as Cabinet meets today for the first time since the concerns emerged and as the hospital itself faces a divisive board meeting which may see the removal of an outspoken critic of the Sisters of Charity’s involvement in the site. On Sunday, Holles Street board member Dr Boylan was told in a text message from current master of the hospital Rhona Mahony and deputy chair of the board Nicholas Kearns that he should resign. The request — which came after Dr Boylan texted Dr Mahony and Mr Kearns to say “both of you and the minister are inextricably linked in this and you will either sink or swim together” — was rejected by Dr Boylan, who said: “I have no regrets. I am glad I did [speak out]. I’ll resign when I’m ready.” Holles Street clinical director Declan Keane told RTÉ’s Six One News that although he would have “liked more consultation on it [the resignation call]” he believed Dr Boylan’s texts “made it very difficult to continue”. Prof Keane said the stand-off would be discussed at a board meeting today which, in an unusual move, will be chaired by Lord Mayor of Dublin Brendan Carr. A spokesperson for Holles Street - who failed to say how many board members were consulted about the resignation call - stood firm on the demand last night. Separately, St Vincent’s Healthcare Group statement lashed out at the “entirely false” claims the new hospital will not provide services without religious interference, publishing the 25-page memorandum of understanding for new hospital outlining its legal independence assurances. However, minister of state John Halligan defended Dr Boylan, saying: “I just hope he’s not being asked to resign because he has an opinion, particularly on a maternity hospital”. Mr Halligan said the hospital must be “entirely in the control of Government”. Meanwhile, it emerged last night that Mr Harris was not told of serious concerns about religious influence in the new national maternity hospital despite the issues being raised directly with his department’s secretary general Jim Breslin. In a May 2016 meeting with the HSE’s Ireland East Hospital Group chair Tom Lynch, a department spokesperson confirmed that Mr Breslin was handed a document outlining “potential resolutions of the difficulties that had arisen”. In addition, Mr Lynch spoke directly to Mr Breslin about canon law influence concerns due to the proposed hospital’s base at the Sisters of Charity-owned site. While the department rejected Dr Boylan’s claim[...]



Maternity hospital row: Health official did not tell Simon Harris of concerns

2017-04-26

The Department of Health’s secretary general failed to tell Health Minister Simon Harris of serious concerns over the independence of the new national maternity hospital when they were raised in May 2016.

The Department of Health’s secretary general failed to tell Health Minister Simon Harris of serious concerns over the independence of the new national maternity hospital when they were raised in May 2016.

The fresh controversy emerged last night as St Vincent’s Hospital Group published the 25-page legal independence document for the hospital and Holles Street’s clinical director said it will perform any legal procedure when it opens, potentially including abortions, despite ongoing fears it will fall under religious control.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland, Holles Street board member Peter Boylan — who will refuse to resign over his criticism of the hospital site at a board meeting this evening — claimed the department was warned of the religious interference concerns a year ago.

Citing a letter from 2016, Dr Boylan said Department of Health secretary general Jim Breslin was told of the concerns by the HSE’s Ireland East Hospital Group chairman, Tom Lynch.

Senior department sources later insisted no such letter exists.

However, the department last night confirmed that Mr Breslin was informed of the concerns in a formal meeting about a number of issues with Mr Lynch in May 2016, during which he was handed a document on “potential resolutions of the difficulties that had arisen” at the site.

The Irish Examiner separately understands that Mr Lynch also raised the religious interference concerns in a conversation with Mr Breslin at the same meeting.

However, it is understood Mr Harris was not told of, and is still unaware of, any issues raised at that time.

Meanwhile, the St Vincent’s Healthcare Group has again attempted to address concerns that the new national maternity hospital may be subject to religious interference by insisting it will perform any legal procedure when it opens.

In a statement last night coinciding with the publication of the new hospital’s previously leaked 25-page memorandum of understanding, St Vincent’s lashed out at “entirely false” claims by Dr Boylan and others.

The statement said the clinical independence of the facility will be enshrined in the memorandum, and specifically noted the legal independence assurances of its deal, which include:

  • A ministerial “golden share” veto to protect its autonomy;
  • “Agreed reserve powers” to ensure services “without religious, ethnic, or other distinction”;
  • Guarantees that St Vincent’s Healthcare Group will be the sole “owner” of the new company governing the maternity hospital and will fall under the influence of the State.

Speaking on RTE’s Six One News, Holles Street clinical director Prof Declan Keane went further, saying the new hospital will provide any legal procedure, saying “absolutely, absolutely” when asked if this will potential include abortions.

The Holles Street board will meet this evening to discuss the ongoing controversy and calls for Prof Boylan to resign for criticising the chosen site.

Prof Boylan yesterday said: “I have no regrets. I am glad I did [speak out]. I’ll resign when I’m ready.”

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Minister Simon Harris to give children’s hospital green light

2017-04-26

Minister for Health Simon Harris is expected to confirm today that the green light has been given for construction of a new children’s hospital.

Minister for Health Simon Harris is expected to confirm today that the green light has been given for construction of a new children’s hospital.

Government sources confirmed the issue would be discussed at Cabinet and that the long-awaited €1bn project would finally be approved.

Projected costs have shot up. The aim is to have the facility up and running for 2021. 

It is expected that it will amalgamate Temple Street, Our Lady’s Hospital Crumlin, and the National Children’s Hospital in Tallaght.

The main hospital will be seven storeys high but most of the structure is expected to be four storeys.

The turning of the sod on the new construction will be in the coming weeks, sources said.

The facility will also include on-site accommodation for parents.

Cabinet will hear more details today as Mr Harris outlines the first stages of the new construction.

While there is opposition to the use of a site on the existing St James Hospital campus and grounds, the choice of location has been a point of debate for a number of years, ever since former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern originally suggested the facility should be at the Mater Hospital.

Nonetheless, the site is still the subject of debate, with the Connolly for Kids campaign demanding that Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown be chosen instead.

It is expected that equipment for the new facility will have to be funded separately and that this may add hundreds of millions of euro to the final bill.

Planning for the facility was granted in April last year. Over €60m has been spent since 2013 developing the project at St James’s Hospital.

Under the plan, the development should bring services currently at the three Dublin children’s hospitals under one roof with 473 single bedrooms.

A memo from Mr Harris was due to be tabled at Cabinet in recent weeks but was deferred as the Department of Public Expenditure further examined costs for the proposal.

Due to the continuing delay, costs for the project are set to rise and completion dates may change.

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Street artists urge help in stopping vandalism in Cork City

2017-04-26

Volunteers who have helped revitalise parts of Cork’s inner city with vibrant street art and guerrilla gardening have appealed for help tracing vandals who have defaced some of their projects.

Volunteers who have helped revitalise parts of Cork’s inner city with vibrant street art and guerrilla gardening have appealed for help tracing vandals who have defaced some of their projects.

Lord Mayor Cllr Des Cahill has appealed for those responsible for the vandalism to divert their energies towards something positive.

He took to Twitter to support the work of the volunteer urban and community art groups, including MadAboutCork and Reimagine Cork, and said: “Spray paint artists have a great opportunity to work with two great groups. Please use your energy to improve rather than vandalise our city.”

He made his comments after the MadAboutCork team highlighted a spate of recent vandal attacks on some of their projects — most recently on a giant mural on Coleman’s Lane.

One repeat culprit, who uses the tag Aero, has spray-painted several murals on other historic lanes. 

The tag has also been spotted on bus shelters in Ballinlough; electricity transformer boxes on St Patrick’s Hill; and historic buildings in the Shandon area. Some of the group’s public planting schemes have also been damaged.

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Artist Alan Hurley said: ‘This fella goes against everything we do and work towards.’

Artist Alan Hurley, who is involved with the volunteer group, said: “We love the city, we love helping it, and we’ll continue to do so. But this fella goes against everything we do and work towards.”

He said the volunteers work with charities, special needs groups, and schoolchildren who get great satisfaction from completing murals. 

Mr Hurley said it is heartbreaking to see their reaction when they are defaced by vandals.

“This person goes against all that. He’s on every street, every few shop walls, footpaths, doors, windows, and postboxes. He’s causing huge damage to the city. 

"We need to find him. We’d be willing to talk to him about the work we do and encourage him to divert his artistic energy in a more positive way.”

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Some of the vandalism that has hit Reimagine Cork and Mad About Cork’s works across the city.

The MadAboutCork volunteers have been working since early 2016 on projects to rejuvenate derelict and unused spaces around the city, including Coleman’s Lane, Kyle St, Patrick’s Quay, and Douglas St.

They have created street art pieces across the city celebrating all things Cork — with electricity box tributes to the Frank And Walters; camogie star Ashling Thompson; Daniel Florence O’Leary; Mary Elmes; and Game of Thrones’ King Joffrey Baratheon, played by Cork-born Jack Gleeson.

Other projects include the portraits of the 1916 rebels on Kyle St; the Grand Parade mural outside Bishop Lucey Park; and the Coleman’s Lane Street Art project.

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Facebook to advise on cyber watchdog

2017-04-26

Social media and tech giants, including Facebook, Twitter, and Google, are to meet the Government about plans to set up a cyber watchdog for online abuse and bullying.

Social media and tech giants, including Facebook, Twitter, and Google, are to meet the Government about plans to set up a cyber watchdog for online abuse and bullying.

Communications Minister Denis Naughten will meet with two other cabinet colleagues to decide who will create the role of the digital safety commissioner.

One of the functions of the new watchdog would be to fast-track disputes over privacy, online harassment, and defamation.

The Irish Examiner understands Mr Naughten will hold formal meetings with the heads of major social media operators here, as well as with search engine Google, which runs Youtube.

Proposals are for the new watchdog to get statutory powers that would compel social media players, such as Facebook and Twitter, to remove abusive material.

Minister Naughten wants to talk with the CEOs of the tech giants and seek their input into the setting-up of the new commissioner, especially given that the companies have their European hubs here.

Minister Naughten will outline his concerns and plans this week, when he attends a child-safety conference being hosted by Google in Dublin.

However, he has to also meet Justice Minister, Frances Fitzgerald, as well as Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone, so it can be decided which department will have responsibility for the new watchdog.

This meeting is expected to take place after the Dáil reconvenes, in early May.

One of the key questions for the new digital-safety commissioner position is what powers it will have to compel powerful companies, like Facebook or Twitter, to remove online material.

Minister Naughten has highlighted cases of parents seeking to have harmful posts, and social media chatter, about their children taken down.

A number of suicides of young people have also been linked to online bullying on different websites.

The new commissioner will promote digital safety and will work with schools and young people. This would be similar to the system in Australia.

A guideline or code on agreed take-down procedures by online publishers would also set the agenda, when decided by the minister overseeing the new digital safety office.

Under initial proposals, if a social media operator refused to take down offensive or harmful material, the company could be forced to do so, if the new commissioner makes an application to the courts.

This process would be fast-tracked, because concerned families often complain about the length of time it can take to remove harmful social media posts.

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Glamping pods to make a splash in Co Clare

2017-04-26

While it’s not quite the high seas, glampers will be on the crest of a wave following this week’s decision by Clare County Council to grant planning permission for the instillation of two, space-age floating “pods” at the Kilrush Marina in Co Clare.

While it’s not quite the high seas, glampers will be on the crest of a wave following this week’s decision by Clare County Council to grant planning permission for the instillation of two, space-age floating “pods” at the Kilrush Marina in Co Clare.

This is the first time planning permission has been granted for the construction of these wooden pods on the Atlantic Ocean here. 

The Kilrush pods will be installed on a floating pontoon in the Kilrush Marina and are expected to be occupied by holiday makers during the summer tourist season.

The pods, which are 5m and 3m wide, can fit a double bed and contain a microwave, a wash-hand basin, a wardrobe, USB chargers and connections as well as a large, front-deck area.

While some models of the pods do contain full toilet facilities, the two to be installed on the Kilrush Marina come without a toilet. 

Glampers staying in the pods will have to use the nearby land-based facilities at Kilrush Marina.

Planning permission has been granted for Kilmihil company, L&M Keating to installs the pods.

Chris Canning of Podcamping Ireland, who provided the floating Kilrush pods, said: “These two pods are the first ones which will be located on water, so we are very excited about that. 

"There will be no difference at all in how these work, compared to the pods on land. These pods are really taking off, big-time. The day of the tent is over.”

Planning permission for the two floating holiday pods was granted by planners at Clare County Council this week despite objections from An Táisce, which claims the development represents a “change of use” for the pontoon at Kilrush Marina, as the pods should be deemed as residential.

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Marketing executive sacked over dirty company car

2017-04-26

A marketing executive’s job was gone in 90 seconds after his boss sacked him for having a dirty company car.

A marketing executive’s job was gone in 90 seconds after his boss sacked him for having a dirty company car.

In a case at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), the executive said that, on July 6, he was on his way out of the office to have lunch when the managing director asked him to join him in his car “for a chat”.

The managing director drove the car 20 yards to where the worker’s company car was parked.

The managing director told the worker his car was not clean and that he “did not give a shit about the company”. 

He then told him he was being “let go” with immediate effect. The managing director then reversed up the 20 yards and told the worker his brother and operations manager would drop him home and that all his notice pay and a good reference would be sent out by post.

The worker said that “the whole process took about 90 seconds”.

The WRC awarded him €2,000 in compensation for breaches of fair procedure and natural justice.

Eugene Hanly, the adjudication officer, said: “I find that nobody should have their employment terminated in the manner that took place in this case.

“I find a marketing executive should not have to be told to clean his car given that it has the company logo and brand on it. I understand the annoyance of the managing director in such circumstances.

“However, I find that the termination of employment was a wholly inappropriate response. I find that the punishment did not fit the crime.”

The sacked employee had starting working with the firm in November 2015. He told the WRC

he felt humiliated in front of co-workers and was upset at having no chance to defend himself.

On the evidence of a representative from the company, the WRC stated that “it is accepted that much of the facts are not in dispute”.

The representative said the managing director had spoken with the executive three times about the company car’s uncleanliness.

The company stated that the managing director had consulted colleagues before deciding to terminate employment.

It said the man did not have 12 months’ service so was not covered by the Unfair Dismissals Acts.

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Driver pointed gun at man and later joked of scaring him

2017-04-26

A Kerryman pointed a .22 rifle at a man having a sandwich outside his workplace in Cork and later joked about the fright he caused him.

A Kerryman pointed a .22 rifle at a man having a sandwich outside his workplace in Cork and later joked about the fright he caused him.

John Jameson, aged around 60, of Cloontarrive, Gortatlea, Tralee, Co Kerry, could not see why he had been prosecuted in the first place. He said during an appeal yesterday: “It wasn’t loaded. It might as well have been a hurley.”

When Garda Sharon Sweeney caught up with Jameson and put to him the allegations made by Pereton Okudu, he had a different version of events.

As he was leaving the guard following an interview, he turned around and commented: “I’ll tell you he needed plenty of Daz because he fairly shit himself after he saw me.”

When Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin reminded him at Cork Circuit Appeals Court of this comment, Jameson added to the initial remark and said: “He must have.”

In cross-examination, Frank Nyhan, solicitor for the State, said to Jameson: “I don’t think it was a joke.”

Jameson said he did not think it was just a joke when Mr Okudu said to him that he would mind his truck for him for €50.

Mr Okudu said he had only said that as a joke.

The whole incident occurred at Marina Commercial Park, Centre Park Rd, at lunchtime on November 18, 2015. 

Mr Okudu has been working at a premises there for the past eight years and had popped out to eat his sandwich in the fresh air.

Jameson drove in to get some paint at one of the shops.

Mr Okudu said the man walked towards him. Mr Okudu asked him if he was looking for somebody but said the appellant ignored him and said nothing. He said Jameson started cursing and swearing at him.

Jameson said it all started when Mr Okudu looked for €50 to mind his truck.

Mr Okudu testified that the man returned to his truck and drove it over towards him.

“I thought he was going to give me the finger,” he said. “I saw a gun and I ran. It was pointed towards my direction. I reported it to the guards.”

Jameson denied producing the gun and pointing it at Mr Okudu. He said the gun was on the floor in the cab of his truck.

Judge Ó Donnabháin said Jameson should not have been driving around Centre Park Rd “with a Kalashnikov”.

Jameson said he only had the .22 rifle in the truck because he was bringing it to a gunsmith in north Cork to repair it. 

Asked who this was and where he lived, Jameson said he was an Englishman whose name he could not remember and he did not know where the house was.

The judge said: “This court is in Cork, not on the other side of the county bounds. Fairy stories might be OK in Tralee — you had a gun for a man you don’t know and you don’t know where he lives.”

Jameson said he had kept licensed guns and dogs for years without any problem.

The judge affirmed the €200 fine on him for having the firearm in his possession in Cork on November 18 2015. 

Referring to €200 fines imposed at the district court for producing the gun and being threatening, the judge said he would take those into consideration instead.

“In my view you should never have a gun again,” said the judge.

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Childminder denies causing harm to 10-month-old baby

2017-04-26

A professionally trained childminder has gone on trial charged with causing serious harm to a 10-month-old baby.A professionally trained childminder has gone on trial charged with causing serious harm to a 10-month-old baby.The child’s mother told the trial of Sandra Higgins, aged 36, her daughter was “fine” on the morning of March 28, 2012, when she brought her to the defendant’s home. Ms Higgins, of The Beeches, Drumgola Wood, Cavan, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to intentionally or recklessly causing serious harm to the baby at her home. Alice Fawsitt, prosecuting, told the jury they would hear evidence that when Ms Higgins presented the child at Cavan General Hospital the baby was suffering seizures and had extensive bruising around the face and head. Opening the State’s case, Ms Fawsitt said a medical expert would say “shaken baby syndrome” was the most likely cause of these seizures and retinal haemorrhaging and a detached retina.  She said they would hear evidence these injuries could not have occurred accidentally. The child’s mother told Ms Fawsitt she travelled to the hospital after receiving a call from Ms Higgins.  “Sandra told me that my daughter was sitting down on the floor playing when she vomited and had a seizure,” she said. Dr Alan Finan, a consultant paediatrician at Cavan General Hospital, told the court two of his colleagues briefed him as to the child’s condition on admission. “She was unconscious, actively seizing, her limbs were jerking, she was pale and not responding as a normal 10-month-old would. She was not responsive and had no interest in her surroundings,” he said.  He said the child was given oxygen and medicine for convulsions. Dr Finan described what he termed “extensive bruising” to the child’s face and head, on both sides of her forehead, and a significant underlying swelling on her hairline.  He also referred to bruising in her groin area and left buttock and described multiple small “fingertip” bruises on her back. He said it was his “conclusive view” the injuries happened on the day the child was hospitalised. He said this was the only credible explanation. However, defence counsel Remy Farrell told the court that in the doctor’s initial report, dated April 2, he stated that “precise dating of [the] injuries is not possible at this time”.  In the report he said this dating could be made upon further evaluation. The baby’s mother said Ms Higgins kept a diary each day which was handed over during the Garda investigation.  She testified that she believed some of the entries about injuries and illness had been changed or added after March 28.  Mr Farrell put it to her the notebook had been forensically examined and there was no evidence entries had been made after the fact. During yesterday’s hearing, the court was told that in early 2012 there were incidents of the child having bumps and bruises. The mother recalled that on March 5 she noticed her daughter had a black eye. The defendant said the child had hit her head off the leg of the table, the witness testified.  A few days later the mother said she noticed that the bruise seemed to have “grown in size”. She said the defendant told her the child had fallen for a second time. The mother said she was becoming increasingly concerned and discussed the matter with her husband and her friend.  She testified that on a number of occasions Ms Higgins had recorded that the child had vomited after eating her tea. “I began to wonder if maybe my daughter had v[...]



Man uses hypnosis to recall start of attack

2017-04-26

A witness has told a murder trial he went for hypnosis to try to remember how a fatal assault began in his home.

A witness has told a murder trial he went for hypnosis to try to remember how a fatal assault began in his home.

However, Colm Campbell says he still cannot remember what “kicked off” an assault by 34-year-old Gary Walsh on their 62-year-old friend, Cathal Sweeney.

Mr Walsh, with an address at The Watercourse, Orwell Park, Templeogue, Dublin, is accused of murdering Mr Sweeney on February 8, 2014. 

The father of one has pleaded not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter at a flat in Ashdale Gardens, Terenure in Dublin. He went on trial at the Central Criminal Court on Monday.

Mr Campbell testified yesterday that he was an alcoholic and that both the accused and the deceased had drink problems. He said both men were at this flat that afternoon to have a few drinks and watch Ireland play rugby.

“The next thing I remember was noise coming from the bedroom,” he said. 

“There was an argument ensuing between Mr Walsh and Mr Sweeney. I heard what I believed were slaps or thumps and shouting.”

He said he did not do or say anything.

“Gary came out of the room, sat down, probably had another drink, smoke and then went back into the bedroom,” said Mr Campbell. 

“I heard that noise starting off again.”

He said he then went in.

“I saw Cathal Sweeney sitting on the bed with his hands covering his face. I noticed there was blood coming down his face and through his fingers. There was a fair amount of blood.”

Mr Campbell said he tried to intervene.

“I shouted for Mr Walsh to stop, which he did. I got him back into the sitting room.”

He was asked if anything was said in the bedroom.

“I believe I heard Gary demanding money from Mr Sweeney,” he replied.

He said he had seen the accused punching Mr Sweeney in the head.

“I also saw what I believe, he was using his elbows, coming down on the torso,” he continued. 

“I then saw Mr Walsh taking Cathal Sweeney by the ankles and pulling him off the bed. He kicked him in the head.”

He said he coaxed Mr Walsh back into the living room but they later became concerned when they heard no sound from the bedroom.

“We entered into the bedroom and Cathal was lying motionless,” he said, describing him as immobile, unconscious, with his face swollen, bruised, and cut.

He was asked if he knew how blood had got on the couch in the living room.

“No,” he said. 

“It has been suggested to me that that’s where the initial assault started, but I swear to God I’ve no recollection of that.”

He said he could have fallen asleep or have been in a blackout.

“I tried to get hypnosis and everything like that to see if I could get any recollection of what happened, what kicked it off, what started it, because I don’t remember.”

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€30k award for woman distressed by videoing of birth in CUMH

2017-04-26

A €30,000 award was made yesterday to a woman who sued Cork University Maternity Hospital for distress caused by the videoing of procedures for medical research when she was giving birth.

A €30,000 award was made yesterday to a woman who sued Cork University Maternity Hospital for distress caused by the videoing of procedures for medical research when she was giving birth.

Laura O’Neill, of 29 Hillcrest Avenue, Blarney Rd, Cork, gave birth at the hospital on April 8, 2014, but she said she was very distressed to find that the birth was video-recorded.

Judge Gerard O’Brien found in her favour yesterday and made an award of €30,000 against the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The judge said the doctors involved in the educational research, which required the filming of a procedure, did not do anything wrong. He also said that such educational processes were vital in the education of young medical professionals.

However, he found fault with the system used for giving the patient an opportunity to consent to having a procedure video-recorded.

The judge said the procedure to be filmed related to the application of an epidural. 

The woman giving birth could only opt for the epidural during the process of labour and was only asked for her consent to be filmed after this was requested.

Judge O’Brien said that because of a patient’s level of stress at this time, she may not be in a position to give a calm, reasonable decision on giving consent.

“I must find for the plaintiff. I make no criticism of the doctors,” the judge said.

The defence in the case was that the patient was asked if she consented to the videoing and that she did consent. This was disputed.

Judge O’Brien recalled during the judgment yesterday in the civil action at Cork Circuit Court that as soon as it was brought to the attention of staff that Ms O’Neill was unhappy about the video recording she was told there was no problem and that it would be deleted immediately as she always had the authority to withdraw her consent.

The plaintiff’s barrister, Denise Mulcahy, said that no written consent was given and that if — as the defence contended — she was asked if she consented when she was in the labour ward, then she could well have been confused and distressed and that this would have been a totally unsuitable time to ask for consent.

Ms Mulcahy argued it was not sufficient for the doctor to say he perceived she had the capacity to give consent.

Anaesthesiologist Colm Lane said the only time the epidural could be requested was in the labour ward on the day of the birth. The medical study was concerned with procedures related to epidural.

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GRA conference: Policing body to get interim breath-test report

2017-04-26

An interim report into how gardaí seriously overcalculated roadside breath tests is to be given to the Policing Authority tomorrow, Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has said.

An interim report into how gardaí seriously overcalculated roadside breath tests is to be given to the Policing Authority tomorrow, Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has said.

She said it was too soon to say when the final report — being compiled by Assistant Commissioner Michael O’Sullivan — would be completed, but the interim report “will give pointers” to how an extra 1m breath tests were wrongly said to have been carried out.

The commissioner has said there is a collective responsibility for the miscalculation, but the Garda Representative Association (GRA), which represents frontline gardaí who undertake roadside breath tests on suspected drink drivers, has maintained it is not responsible for the miscalculation, claiming it is down to Garda management mistakes.

Ms O’Sullivan said it was important to “find out how it happened and when was the failure”.

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald declined to get involved in the blame game when she attended the GRA’s annual conference in Salthill, Co Galway, yesterday.

Ms Fitzgerald said “everybody [garda management and frontline gardaí] needs to work well together” and she added that when things go wrong they affect every part of the organisation.

The GRA has said the force has become “a political football” over the years and it is not happy with that.

Ms Fitzgerald said recently in the Dáil — in response to a Fianna Fáil motion — that political interference in our police force throughout the history of the State has damaged An Garda Síochána.

“So, I welcome your renewed call to remove politics from policing,” she said.

“It has been my overriding goal and approach since the day I was appointed and I want others to share that approach. That is why I prioritised the establishment of the independent Policing Authority, led by Josephine Feehily, which is making a very real and profound impact.

“Other parties pay lip- service to this, but the reality is that, at every opportunity, they seek to politicise policing for their own gain. That is corrosive and we must continue to resist it.”

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GRA conference: Gardaí fear they are not equipped to handle terrorist attack

2017-04-26

Frontline gardaí fear they are not equipped to deal with a terrorist attack and that the country’s busiest airport may be vulnerable unless armed security is beefed up.Frontline gardaí fear they are not equipped to deal with a terrorist attack and that the country’s busiest airport may be vulnerable unless armed security is beefed up.Garda sources said they are concerned about the lack of firepower at Dublin Airport should it be attacked and are also worried, in general, about the lack of training for frontline gardaí in the event of terrorists striking in other parts of the country. These fears are being discussed by delegates attending the GRA conference, along with concerns that, compared to other police forces in Europe, gardaí are poorly equipped on a number of fronts to meet the challenge of modern-day policing. The GRA is calling for tactical counter-terrorism training courses to be held for all frontline gardaí at least twice a year. Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan said she is conscious of the need for more training. “Like any other organisation when a recession hits and when there are serious reductions in funding training, unfortunately right across the globe, and certainly right across organisations, something gets hit and An Garda Síochána is no different.” She conceded the Garda “have a lot of catch up to do” with training that is provided to gardaí both in terms of continuous professional development and in-service training. “We have committed in December of last year to setting up the armed support unit for Dublin City which gives us an additional armed response capability.  "We have also committed to making sure our regional support units, which are the armed response capability right around the country, are augmented and that we can provide by the end of this year 24/7 capability.” Ms O’Sullivan said a strategic and tactical operational command is being set up. “What we need to do is have a tiered response, not just simple firearms response but have a tiered response. That actually means... we will have all of our firearms capability in one area and on-scene command and our other tactical deployments and what that will look like — we will have that in place by the end of June,” she said. Ms O’Sullivan said there was a need for “awareness training” of potential terrorist threats. “The environment in which we operate is changing all the time and the face of terrorism has changed, is changing, and will continue to change. We have to make sure we have the agility and the responsiveness to be able to deal with whatever the type of attack is.” The GRA said gardaí are poorly equipped compared to other police forces and should be issued with bodycams and Tasers and have satnavs and lifejackets in their patrol cars. GRA delegates also said uniforms and boots are outdated and not suitable for modern policing. Garda Jack Kelleher, Sligo division, said little had changed in terms of uniform and equipment since he joined the force in 1993. He said satnavs should be in all patrol cars, especially as they would enable gardaí to get to incidents in rural areas faster. Garda Ben Lynch, also based in Sligo, said “you’d be afraid of the police abroad with the amount of gear they’re carrying”.[...]



GRA conference: I was assaulted on duty too - Nóirín O’Sullivan

2017-04-26

Nóirín O’Sullivan says she wants to hear from any gardaí who feel they were not treated properly after assault.Nóirín O’Sullivan says she wants to hear from any gardaí who feel they were not treated properly after assault.Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan has said that during her career she has been “bitten, spat at and assaulted” on a number of occasions, once leading to “a dislocated shoulder.” The country’s most senior garda said she can empathise with frontline members of the force who claim the number of attacks on gardaí is on the rise. The commissioner said she also realised that the families of serving gardaí were constantly worrying about them getting injured while on duty. “I can empathise with all of our members who go out every single day to do a good job,” she said. “I can empathise hugely with their families who wait to see do they come home safely. I know what that feels like. We treat every single assault on every single one of our members extremely seriously.” She made the comments after members of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) called for mandatory one-year prison sentences for anybody convicted of assaulting a member of the emergency services. The GRA has claimed that force management do not take assaults seriously and that very few perpetrators end up in jail. “If there are individual members who feel they have not been treated appropriately by their local Garda management, we want to hear about that because we want to do something about it,” the commissioner said. She added that, in her case, some of the people who assaulted her were prosecuted and others were not. She said mandatory sentencing for assaults on members of the emergency services was a matter for legislators. Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald maintained that legislation on assaults on gardaí was “already strong”, but said she was looking at legislation in use in Scotland. She said she received advice that mandatory jail sentences might not be the answer in all cases. Meanwhile, the GRA conference in Salthill, Co Galway, heard that one in five gardaí suffer from severe stress because of the nature of their jobs. GRA president Ciaran O’Neill said extensive research confirmed that the pressures of law enforcement puts officers “at real risk of high blood pressure, insomnia, dangerous levels of destructive stress hormones, heart problems, post traumatic stress disorder and suicide”. He said the practical impact of the job’s demands and responsibilities on stress levels in the force resulted in 32% of gardaí experiencing above-average levels of stress, whilst one fifth suffer from “severe” stress levels. Garda O’Neill added that shift work is itself detrimental to health. He said academic research showed it gives rise to increased risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease and an elevated risk of breast, bowel and prostrate cancer. “When coupled with occupational stress, life expectancy and quality of life are diminished for police officers.” Delegates attending the conference said many of their colleagues injured on duty simply did not bother reporting assaults as they knew management would do nothing about them. Garda James Morrisroe from the Cavan/Monaghan Garda division, said bodycams had been introduced to great effect by many police forces in Britain and they should be used [...]



55 tonnes of litter collected in a day along Co Kerry roadsides

2017-04-26

More than 55 tonnes of roadside litter was collected in one single day in 2016 by thousands of volunteers in Co Kerry, according to a report on litter and illegal dumping.

More than 55 tonnes of roadside litter was collected in one single day in 2016 by thousands of volunteers in Co Kerry, according to a report on litter and illegal dumping.

It was found that passing motorists and pedestrians accounted for 90% of the plastic, paper, tin and other items strewn at the sides of the roads in Kerry.

More than 300 surveys were carried out across 16 towns in the county in 2016 and the single biggest cause of litter pollution was found to be “passing motorists and pedestrians,” the new litter pollution report states.

However, a call by the mayor of Kerry Michael O’Shea to erect litter warning signage along all national secondary, primary and some regional routes asking motorists not to litter has been rejected because the signs themselves would amount to litter and be unsightly, officials said.

The council would continue with its no dumping signs at known dumping spots but while necessary “this signage in itself detracts from the appearance of an area,” Mr O’Shea was told.

Covert cameras and mobile CCTV is also being rolled out at litter blackspots, particularly at fly-tipping and recycling sites where dumping of household waste is being detected.

On April 2, 2016, 3,600 volunteers took to the roads for a Kerry County Clean Up day and collected over 55 tonnes of waste on that day alone. 

It is expected a similar volume of material has been collected on the county clean up April 8 this year.

Separately, more than 24 tonnes of fly-tipping rubbish was collected, down from 30 tonnes the previous year.

The reduction has been attributed to increased vigilance by both council workers and the public.

Some of the dumping was on such a scale and the items so large, that council crews and equipment had to be brought out to clear the sites, in forests and bogs and generally alongside roads.

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Aid donors head for Chernobyl to mark 31st anniversary today

2017-04-26

Chernobyl crusaders Adi Roche and Ali Hewson are taking several core donors who helped sustain their charity during the recession on a fact-finding mission to the nuclear disaster-affected region today.

Chernobyl crusaders Adi Roche and Ali Hewson are taking several core donors who helped sustain their charity during the recession on a fact-finding mission to the nuclear disaster-affected region today.

As the UN marks the first UN Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day today — the 31st anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear disaster — Ms Roche and Ms Hewson will host a two-day whistle-stop tour of areas in Belarus and Ukraine to show the donors how Chernobyl Children International (CCI) has spent their money over the last decade.

One of the donors is a wealthy Irishman who is now based in Detroit. Another is also based in the US.

Ms Roche, CCI’s founder and voluntary CEO, and Ms Hewson, a long-time director of the charity, said it is one of the most important donor missions they have led.

“At the height of recession here, when our funding dropped by up to 60%, these donors stepped in and allowed us to continue our work,” said Ms Roche. 

“They invested their faith as well as their money in us and we want to show them the fruits of their efforts.”

In the conflict zone cities of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine and in the capital Kiev, they will meet members of an Irish-funded “flying doctors” mission where international cardiac surgeons are this week performing life-saving operations on babies and children suffering from congenital heart defects as a result of inherited radiation exposure.

Ms Roche said the UN’s remembrance day has given her renewed energy to continue her charity work.

The donor visit comes as President Michael D Higgins welcomed the UN remembrance day which was designated following Ms Roche’s landmark address to the UN General Assembly on the 30th anniversary of the nuclear accident last April.

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Low uptake for free BowelScreen service

2017-04-26

Bowel cancer rates for men are double that of women yet fewer men than women are using the free detection service, it has emerged.

Bowel cancer rates for men are double that of women yet fewer men than women are using the free detection service, it has emerged.

Despite BowelScreen’s success at discovering cancer at an early stage, just 40% of eligible men and women are participating in the programme.

First round results from BowelScreen also reveal a gender imbalance with more eligible women (44%) than eligible men (36%) taking part.

The clinical director of BowelScreen, Prof Diarmuid O’Donoghue, said low uptake of screening is worrying given that bowel cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in Ireland.

“We are particularly concerned about men, given that the cancer detection rate among males is twice as high as it is for females.”

BowelScreen’s report on its first round results for 2012-2015 shows just 196,238 of 488,628 people invited to participate were tested.

There were 521 cancers detected — a rate of 2.65 per 1,000 people screened.

The head of screening at BowelScreen, Charles O’Hanlon, said three out of four cancers detected were at an early stage, so there was a high survival rate.

Almost 13,000 adenomas were removed during the first screening round. Adenomas are abnormal tissue growth that can become cancerous at a later stage.

“The removal of adenomas greatly reduced the possibility of subsequent cancer development, making BowelScreen a truly lifesaving programme,” said Mr O’Hanlon.

Marcella Corcoran Kennedy, the minister of state for health promotion, who launched the report, said efforts must be redoubled to increase uptake for the free service, especially among men, and welcomed efforts by BowelScreen to work with organisations to address this.

The Irish Cancer Society is hopeful that the positive results will encourage more people in the eligible 60 to 69 age group to get tested.

As well as working with BowelScreen to improve the uptake, it will be campaigning for the programme to be extended to those aged between 55 and 74.

The society’s head of services and advocacy, Donal Buggy, said the results showed that screening catches cancer early.

“It is disappointing that more people haven’t availed of the free screening programme, but that’s something we can work on.

“I’m sure the positive results from the first round of BowelScreen will encourage much more people to get involved,” said Mr Buggy.

Every year in Ireland 1,000 people die from bowel cancer, making it the second most deadly cancer. 

About 50% of bowel cancers are diagnosed at a late stage, reducing survival rates.

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Average metered home uses up to 383 litres of water per day

2017-04-26

The average household is using up to 383 litres of water per day, according to the latest figures provided to the CSO.

The average household is using up to 383 litres of water per day, according to the latest figures provided to the CSO.

The CSO requested information from Irish Water to compile its figures — the latest data relate to 2015 usage.

According to the CSO, “the average consumption per meter per day in 2015 varied from 274 litres to 383 litres”.

This average varied because of a small number of households which consumed large amounts of water.

“Typically high consumption is due to a leak,” states the CSO report.

A total of 96.6% of metered consumers used 69% of the total water consumption in 2015.

These customers all came under the threshold of using less than 1,000 litres per meter per day.

However, at the much higher threshold of use, of up to 10,000 litres per meter per day, 99.7% of this group used 88% of the water in the higher bracket, meaning 0.3% accounted for 12% of total water consumption.

This higher threshold relates to areas where there were leaks.

However, when all data for 2015 is included, the median of daily meter consumption varied from 245 litres per meter per day at the 1,000 litres threshold to 252 litres per meter per day.

In a set of data, the median is the figure in the middle, where half the numbers are lower and half the numbers are higher, whereas the average is the total divided by the number of items in that set.

In this case, the difference between the average and the median water use gives an indication of the extent of high consumption because the median is less influenced by the small number of meters with high consumption.

In relation to what was included in the data, only metered use was covered. Apartments, many group water schemes, and abstractions from wells were not included.

Furthermore, throughout the course of the year, the number of actual water meters fluctuated as more were being installed across the country.

Nationally, there were 519,781 domestic water meters in January 2015, and by December 2015, that figure stood at 764,319.

The CSO also gave a breakdown of usage by month and by county.

The average monthly consumption varied from 368 litres per meter per day in November to 402 litres in March.

When it came to counties, Cavan had the lowest monthly average of 288 litres in March 2015 while Longford had the highest monthly average of 474 litres in June 2015.

In Cork, the average consumption in litres per meter per day was 427.

The CSO also carried a table comparing the trends in usage between 2014 and 2015.

In both years the median consumption was 246 litres per meter per day.

There was a small increase in mean consumption from 381 litres in 2014 to 383 litres per meter per day in 2015.

The data used to compile the average and median use figures were received by the CSO from Irish Water in response to a request made under the Statistics Act, 1993.

Irish Water then provided monthly files of meter readings to the CSO.

Water meters were “typically read using drive-by technology”, the CSO pointed out.

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Trinity management tool to aid response to disasters

2017-04-26

Emergency services in Ireland and elsewhere could turn to Facebook and other social media to tackle natural and manmade disasters.

Emergency services in Ireland and elsewhere could turn to Facebook and other social media to tackle natural and manmade disasters.

An online emergency management tool developed at Trinity College in Dublin has already been adopted in Italy and is being tested in Germany and Britain.

Trinity researchers have led development of a prototype social media monitoring system that aids emergency response agencies during disasters, using content from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Flickr.

The Slándáil Emergency Management System — Security System for language and image analysis — integrates social media input into disaster management control room software, incorporating advances in text and image analytics to aid response teams during major emergencies.

The system works in three languages — English, German, and Italian.

Slándáil was developed by a collaborative group led by researchers from the School of Computer Science and Statistics in Trinity.

It is the fruit of the three-year ‘Project Slándáil’ sponsored by the EU’s Framework Programme 7.

Project co-ordinator and professor of computer science at Trinity, Khurshid Ahmad, said that he and his team are delighted with its success, explaining that the internet enables the rapid dissemination information via social media. 

He said that warnings about major disasters and efforts to recover from them would involve the use of textual, visual and audio information.

“The excellent work carried out by national disaster and emergency management experts and operatives relies on teams of people examining and synthesising information from vast numbers of documents on very short, sometimes evolving, time scales,” said Prof Ahmad.

“Yet monitoring the sheer volume of information propagated via social media exceeds the limits of any possible unaided human professional. 

"We have produced a prototype solution that allows these teams to drown out the unhelpful ‘noise’ and instead systematically capture useful information spread via social media to assist disaster management as efficiently as possible.

“Whether they are responding to a flash flood or a dangerous man-made disturbance, the rapid provision of critical information from ‘eyes on the ground’ should help save lives.”

The system has been successfully evaluated by the gardaí and the PSNI as well as the German armed forces in Saxony and civil protection authorities in Italy. 

It has also been tested by Irish media communications experts Stillwater Communications.

Emergency management teams in northern Italy are using a prototype version of the social media monitor, and the objective is to carry out live tests with Irish emergency management agencies by the end of 2017.

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