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Updated: 2016-12-11T14:17:57+00:00

 



Treasure trove of artifacts found under Cork street

2016-12-11

An archaeology dig in Buttevant, Co Cork, by a team of archaeologists during a €5m makeover of what was dubbed the worst main street in Ireland, has uncovered 2,788 artifacts.An archaeology dig in Buttevant, Co Cork, by a team of archaeologists during a €5m makeover of what was dubbed the worst main street in Ireland, has uncovered 2,788 artifacts.It was always envisaged that archaeologists would be busy during the revamp of the main street in Buttevant, Co Cork, but the scale of the town’s history resulted in 16 of them being employed on the project, along with support staff. Construction on the new road surface and footpaths got underway in February 2015, but its completion was delayed due to the scale of the archaeology uncovered. Discoveries included a suspected northern gate tower and associated town wall opposite the convent, building foundations and layers of cobbled street surfaces. In addition, archaeologists also uncovered animal bones, pottery, tiles, bone combs, numerous coins, buttons, buckles, pins and clay wig curlers. One of the layers contained a gold posy ring inscribed with the date of 1713. Gold posy rings, some dating from 1713, were found during excavations Buttevant was a defensive walled town in medieval times. Historians believe it was originally built around 1208 by William de Barry. It was initially populated by craftspeople, artisans, and other suppliers around a site to the north of the castle and church. In 1234 David de Barry, William’s son, was granted permission to hold a weekly market and a yearly fair at his ‘Manor of Botavant’. Archaeologists think the formal town pattern was designed in the 1230s, but only fully completed in the late 1250s or early 1260s. The street was excavated as part of a €5m makeover. In 1317 a grant was released to the town “to enclose it with walls”, although it is not known to what extent, if any, the town was walled prior to that. Another grant, in 1375, makes reference to a “north gate”, remains of which may have been unearthed during the archaeological excavations. It was during the 16th century that Lombard’s Castle, on Richmond St, was constructed and it is recorded there had been several other small “castles” in Buttevant, although of what age is unknown. A horseshoe found in excavations The town was sacked in 1569 and more devastatingly in 1691. It remained in a state of stagnation through much of the 18th century, and it was not until the actions of John Anderson (who acquired Buttevant Castle from Richard Barry) and later his son, James Caleb Anderson, that the fortunes of the town were revived. The €5m revamp was funded by Cork County Council and Transport Initiative Ireland. The project included reconstruction of the main road, drainage works, new footpaths, public lighting, and the ducting of cables underground. Finds included this ceramic wig curler. Councillors in the Kanturk/ Mallow municipal district and representatives from the voluntary and business sectors in Buttevant set up a town partnership in 2015. They worked together identifying issues and solutions to develop and progress the social, environmental and economic development of the town. To date, with the assistance of Cork County Council’s town development fund, the entrance roadway to the Muintir Na Tire hall has been resurfaced, the installation of CCTV for the town is under way, and there are many projects at development stages. This copper alloy buckle was found during works The population of today’s town value their history, but also value getting their street back after such a long wait and are planning to mark it with a big event today.Cork County Council is aiding Buttevant Community Council’s ‘Christmas Celebration Party,’ which will take place from 3pm to 6pm. The street will be packed with market stalls for the afternoon. Music will also be laid on and there will be fireworks in the evening.[...]



In the shadow of gunmen: Unsolved shootings in Cork

2016-12-11

Gardaí investigating the brutal murder of dissident republican and former Real IRA leader, Aidan O’Driscoll, in Cork on Wednesday face a difficult task bringing his killers to justice.Gardaí investigating the brutal murder of dissident republican and former Real IRA leader, Aidan O’Driscoll, in Cork on Wednesday face a difficult task bringing his killers to justice.Witness statements, CCTV footage, forensic tests on two partially burned-out cars, and ballistic tests on four bullets and casings — one casing recovered from the scene, and four bullets from his body — will be crucial to their investigation. Gardaí yesterday repeated their appeals for help tracing the movements of three vehicles they believe were used by those involved in the shooting of O’Driscoll in Blackpool on Wednesday. However, securing enough hard evidence to secure convictions in these kinds of killings is notoriously difficult. Despite detailed and exhaustive Garda investigations into six fatal shootings in Cork since 1995, all of which were linked to drugs and suspected dissident republican paramilitarism, the killers in each of the cases have never been charged. Several suspects were identified. Some were arrested and questioned. All were released without charge. In some cases, files were submitted to the DPP. However, in each of the cases, there just was not enough hard evidence to secure a murder charge. The cases remain open; but gardaí admit that unless witnesses come forward with new information, or unless there is a significant breakthrough in each of the cases, it is unlikely that anyone will ever face charges. However, Supt Mick Comyns, who is leading the investigation into Mr O’Driscoll’s murder, said gardaí will be using all of their resources to track down those responsible. An investigation team based at an incident room at Watercourse Road Garda Station is co-ordinating the harvesting and examination of CCTV footage from businesses in the area. They are also co-ordinating the identification and interview of witnesses. House-to-house enquiries are being conducted, and checkpoints were set up in streets in the Blackpool village area around 5pm on Thursday in a bid to identify potential witnesses who may have travelled the same way on Wednesday, around the time of the shooting. Supt Comyn confirmed that Mr O’Driscoll was known to gardaí but that they had no information that his life was in danger. “We have no idea why this shooting took place. Mr O’Driscoll is a son, a father, and we will be using all our resources to solve this murder. We will consider anything that comes from the investigation,” he said.   Gun victims Michael Crinnion was shot dead on Barrack St in 1995. April 8, 1995: Widely regarded as the first fatal gangland-related shooting in Cork, Michael Crinnion, 35, was gunned down at the door of the former Clannad pub in Barrack St on the southside of the city. An enforcer for a southside drugs gang, he died in a hail of bullets fired from across the street by a hitman armed with a .38 revolver. Ballistics tests showed the weapon had not been used in a previous shooting in this country. Detectives believed it may have been imported for the hit, and that the killer was brought in from outside the city. There may have been a botched attempt to kill Crinnion two months earlier when shots were fired into a pub on Shandon St, where he was known to drink with associates. Nobody has ever been charged with the murder. Gardaí say their investigation remains open but privately they acknowledge that unless someone comes forward with new evidence, a conviction is unlikely. Kieran O’Flynn, shot in Dublin Hill in 2001. Picture: Provision June 7, 2001: Crinnion’s brother-in-law, Kieran O’Flynn, 38, was shot three times by a masked gunman as he opened the door of his home at Thorndale, off Dublin Hill. It is believed the gunman knocked earlier, only to be told by O’Flynn&r[...]



Colleges to lose funds over gender inequality

2016-12-11

Only colleges tackling academic gender inequality will be eligible for a slice of an annual €230m public research fund.

Only colleges tackling academic gender inequality will be eligible for a slice of an annual €230m public research fund.

The measures aimed at getting more than 20 publicly funded institutions to take gender equality in research careers more seriously will take effect from the end of 2019.

Only those with the minimum bronze accreditation under the Athena Swan gender equality scheme — requiring a successful phase of self-assessment, data collection, action planning, and peer review — will be considered for funding from the Irish Research Council, Science Foundation Ireland, and Health Research Board.

However, from the end of 2023, funding from these agencies will not be available unless the college leading a proposed research project has reached silver, or intermediate level, accreditation.

The UK-based Athena Swan Charter recognises work in most academic disciplines to address representation, work environment, student progress into academia, and the journey through career milestones.

The new rules being announced today by the funding agencies, with combined annual research budgets of €230m, were recommended in last June’s national review of gender equality in the country’s third-level colleges. It was carried out for the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and chaired by former EU research commissioner Máire Geoghegan Quinn, who said gender balance in leadership roles will not happen in our lifetimes if we just wait for change to naturally occur.

The review found that only seven of 26 colleges, including publicly funded teacher training colleges, had 40% or more women on their executive management teams. There were no women at senior management level at two ITs .

Women account for only 19% of university professors, despite half of lecturing staff being female. Nearly half of academic staff at institutes of technology are women, but they account for just 29% of senior academics.

“A lot of colleges are behind the mark because they are such big organisations with many types of employees,” said Gemma Irvine, HEA head of policy and strategic planning. “This will be about putting structures and processes in place to ensure change across an institution.”

In about three years, State-funded colleges will risk cuts in their core budgets if they do not meet gender equality targets now being finalised.

The seven universities, 14 ITs, and the Royal College of Surgeons signed up to the Athena Swan Charter in 2015 and will be covered by the new requirements.

UCC, the University of Limerick, and Trinity College have already achieved bronze accreditation.

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Cork beggar back on his feet after job offer from stranger

2016-12-11

A man begging on the street was so desperate he tried to break into the collection box of a candle shrine in a church — but, thanks to the kindness of strangers, his life may be about to change.

A man begging on the street was so desperate he tried to break into the collection box of a candle shrine in a church — but, thanks to the kindness of strangers, his life may be about to change.

Christopher Jones, 24, had been getting into difficulty with gardaí for repeatedly begging on the streets to pay for his heroin addiction. He was facing sentencing yesterday for criminal damage to the coin box at Farranree church on March 21.

However, a stranger he met on the street gave him his first job and Jones is now due to get his first pay packet on December 22. He is also starting a methadone treatment programme.

Jones asked if he could tell Judge Olann Kelleher about the breakthrough.

“This man comes up and says: ‘I will give you better than money, I will give you a job.’ It was just a fella on the street, you wouldn’t believe how generous people are on the street. He has his own business and gave me a job.”

The judge asked him if he likes the job at the car valet business, and Jones said: “I love it. I love cars.”

Judge Kelleher replied: “That’s a great story.”

Solicitor Eddie Burke said: “To be fair to the man, he is doing well, he has come a long way.”

Jones, who is also back living in the family home, said: “It is going good at the moment.”

The judge said there had to be a penalty, and fined Jones €100. He then said to Jones: “Best of luck. Have a good Christmas.”

Jones replied: “Thanks. Same to you.”

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EIB to invest €200m in housing

2016-12-11

Ireland is to receive around €200m with which to build social housing next year from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Ireland is to receive around €200m with which to build social housing next year from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Thousands of houses are set to be built across the country using the off- balance sheet financing and the bank has committed to allocating similar amounts over the next decade if the first round of funding is successful.

It comes ahead of the publication of the Government’s rental plan, which is due to be released by Housing Minister Simon Coveney next week.

EIB president Werner Hoyer yesterday said the institution is aware of the acute housing crisis and would be providing funding to build thousands of homes next year.

Speaking at an event to mark the opening of a branch of the EIB in Dublin, Mr Hoyer said: “The challenge for Ireland is huge and you have a growing population.

“But I think we are going to make a first deal at the beginning of 2017 of around €200m for social housing, both in Dublin and the surrounding areas.

“I think if that runs successfully and, if it is implemented wisely, then this will be a product type for the next decade.

“This is a first step. I think the housing challenge for Ireland will remain for the next decade and we will be there.”

The bank has already helped to fund a number of significant infrastructure projects including Luas Cross City, Dublin Airport’s Terminal 2, and Dublin Port’s Alexandra Basin Redevelopment.

EIB, the world’s biggest international public bank, also announced it would be providing a €50m loan to the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

The bank will now have a permanent office in Dublin.

On water charges, Mr Hoyer said that the bank is waiting on a decision on the matter and “then we will be able to assist”.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Finance Minister Michael Noonan, and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe all attended the announcement in the Shelbourne Hotel yesterday.

Mr Kenny said that the strengthening of the relationship between Ireland and the EIB is “particularly important at this critical time in our recovery”.

He added: “The Government and companies based in Ireland will need to focus more on capital investment in the years ahead.

“The EIB will have a significant role to play in helping to finance many of these new investments.”

Earlier yesterday, Mr Noonan was in Limerick where global medical company Becton, Dickinson and Company announced 100 research and development jobs at the National Technology Park at Plassey.

The total workforce at the company will then number 200.

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Respiratory drug may be withdrawn

2016-12-11

The challenges posed by pharmaceutical companies seeking massive reimbursement for life-changing drugs has led to a second situation this week where patients face losing access to vital treatment.

The challenges posed by pharmaceutical companies seeking massive reimbursement for life-changing drugs has led to a second situation this week where patients face losing access to vital treatment.

The threat by drug firm CSL Behring to withdraw Respreeza, described by respiratory consultant Gerry McElvaney as “the only treatment for genetic emphysema in my lifetime”, follows a decision by the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomic Evaluation (NCPE) not to recommend State reimbursement of the drug.

The decision has led to calls for Health Minister Simon Harris to intervene on behalf of those with genetic emphysema, known as Alpha-1.

Earlier this week, Mr Harris told the Seanad he is collaborating with other EU health ministers to try and force drug companies such as Vertex to introduce viable pricing. Vertex has developed a breakthrough CF drug called Orkambi but is reported to be seeking reimbursement of up to €160,000 per patient per annum, which the HSE is not prepared to approve.

Both the HSE and Vertex indicated last night that they would meet on Wednesday for further discussions.

“The HSE and Vertex are committed to finding a definitive solution that provides rapid access to Orkambi for people in Ireland,” said a spokesperson for Vertex.

The Alpha-1 Foundation is now calling on the minister to review the process for assessing new therapies and to consider the implementation of outcomes-based models of access.

It is also calling on CSL Behring to reduce the price of Respreeza, reportedly around €84,000 per patient, excluding Vat. Currently, 21 patients are in receipt of the drug on a compassionate basis, 19 of whom took part in a clinical trial between 2006 and 2014, for which Prof McElvaney was principal investigator in Ireland.

Prof McElvaney has been treating genetic emphysema since 1986 and Respreeza was “the first time we’ve ever shown we can slow it down”.

Studies have shown the drug reduces the severity of chest infections in patients, and associated hospital admission. Another 40 patients here could benefit. Alpha-1 Foundation CEO Kitty O’Connor has called on CSL Behring to lift its January 31 deadline for withdrawing the therapy — it has been available while the NCPE deliberations were under way.

“These patients have been told by the pharmaceutical company a number of times over the last six months that supply was being stopped — the latest information is that at the end of January, patients will be told whether the treatment will continue,” Ms O’Connor said.

Prof McElvaney said patients are “terrified” of losing access.

“They have been on this drug for almost a decade and it’s been very beneficial. It will be very traumatic for them if it’s withdrawn.”

The HSE received the NCPE report on Respreeza yesterday. A spokesperson said it will “consider the NCPE report carefully in advance of deciding on the next steps and in advance of progressing through the HSE decision-making processes”.

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Women’s portraits in 230-year-old academy for first time

2016-12-11

Women’s portraits have been hung on the walls of the country’s leading academic body for the first time — 230 years after its foundation.

Women’s portraits have been hung on the walls of the country’s leading academic body for the first time — 230 years after its foundation.

The members of the Royal Irish Academy (RIA), founded in 1785, are the top scholars in their respective disciplines. However, while women were only legally entitled to be members after a 1919 act of parliament, it was another 30 years before the academy elected the first females.

Four of the five portraits unveiled this week are of those first four female RIA members, as depicted by artist Vera Klute. Their relatives were present when the artworks were revealed, along with the subjects of a fifth painting, in which Blaise Smith portrays eight of today’s top Irish female scientists.

The Women on Walls campaign was the brainchild of professional services company Accenture which has been very active in efforts to promote careers for women in science, technology, engineering, and maths. It commissioned the portraits after executives at a meeting in the RIA noticed the absence of women among the portraits in the halls of Academy House.

“We have long been committed to tackling gender inequality and increasing the profile of women within Accenture and throughout the business community,” said Alastair Blair, Accenture’s managing director in Ireland.

“In this centenary year, this initiative was a natural extension of that work. After all, you can’t be what you can’t see.”

RIA chief executive Laura Mahony said the hope is for members of the public to visit Academy House to see the portraits and find out about the women and their work.

The first four women elected to the RIA, the country’s highest academic honour, include Sheila Tinney, who died six years ago. The pioneer of mathematical physics became a member in 1949, along with art historian Francoise Henry, inventor and plant virus researcher Phyllis Clinch, and classical Irish literature researcher Eleanor Knott.

Their portraits were unveiled by Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, who said that sometimes the most powerful and effective ideas are the simplest.

“Most importantly, this campaign challenges us to ask where are the women across all aspects of Irish society,” she said.

The areas of expertise of the women in Ms Smith’s portrait include human aging, solar panels, and bio-medical engineering. Among them is University College Cork palaeobiologist Maria McNamara, who worked on the 2014 study which found evidence that the first plant-eating dinosaur had both scales and feathers.

Editorial: 18

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Seán Keating’s painting of his own family fetches €130k

2016-12-11

A painting by Limerick-born artist Seán Keating, featuring his wife and children, sold at auction for €130,000 — almost three times original estimates.

A painting by Limerick-born artist Seán Keating, featuring his wife and children, sold at auction for €130,000 — almost three times original estimates.

Portrait of an Aran Woman and her Children 1946 by Seán Keating was expected to fetch between €40,000 to €50,000 before it went under the hammer at Mealy’s in Kildare.

“It didn’t surprise me at all that the painting shot up above the auction price,” art historian and Keating biographer, Dr Eimear O’Connor, said; adding that she believes the painting fetched such a high price due to the models Keating used.

The biographer identified May Keating, the artist’s wife, as the woman depicted in the painting; as well as his two sons Justin, seated in the centre of the painting, and Michael, lying down. “Paintings of May are incredibly rare and his children even more so,” she explained.

May was a political activist and an “incredibly interesting woman” Ms O’Connor said, adding that a whole chapter of her biography on Keating, Sean Keating — Art, Politics and Building the Nation, is dedicated to his wife.

As well as acting as the personal secretary to suffragette Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, Ms Keating was also heavily involved with Noel Browne’s Mother and Child scheme, operating the initiative out of the Keating household.

“Incredibly interesting woman, yet only a model in Keating’s paintings. She never wanted to be depicted for her politics,” Ms O’Connor said.

Keating’s two sons also sat for the painting; Justin Keating went on to become a minister and Michael became a well-known engineer, a profession that his father had originally wanted to pursue, according to Ms O’Connor.

Ms O’Connor said she believes the last time the painting was exhibited was in the 1940s — making the appearance at the auction this week its first public exhibition in years.

As Keating paintings are enormously popular with collectors both here and abroad, the buyer of the painting could be from anywhere.

The sale of the painting makes it the eighth highest bid a painting by the artist has sold for. The auction house’s winter sale fetched more than €580,000, with 70% of its lots purchased.

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Norwegian airline considers secondary US airports for Cork link

2016-12-11

The airline poised to launch low-cost flights from Ireland to America next summer has confirmed it is considering landing at secondary US airports — each up to 100km from Boston and New York, respectively — to keep costs down.

The airline poised to launch low-cost flights from Ireland to America next summer has confirmed it is considering landing at secondary US airports — each up to 100km from Boston and New York, respectively — to keep costs down.

It follows reports from the US earlier this week that Norwegian’s Irish subsidiary, Norwegian Air International (NAI), which finally secured regulatory approval last week to fly from Ireland to the US, is no longer considering Boston’s main airport, Logan International, for its direct Cork to Boston service using a Boeing 737.

Norwegian already operates a Boeing 787 Dreamliner out of Logan on its London route.

But the airline said the cost of operating a single-aisle 737, which carries 150 fewer passengers than the Dreamliner, from a main US city airport on the proposed Irish routes would be much more expensive given that the smaller aircraft type limits passenger numbers.

Aviation industry sources reported earlier this week that NAI’s parent company, Norwegian, is set to choose between New Hampshire’s Portsmouth International Airport and TF Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island for NAI’s Cork to Boston flights.

Portsmouth International Airport, also known as Pease International, is about 60 miles (nearly 100km), or an hour’s drive north of Boston.

It served as a hub for Pan Am from 1998 until 2005, and it was once one of seven launch abort sites, and one of 18 emergency landing sites, for Nasa’s space shuttle.

Green Airport in Rhode Island is about a 60-mile, 70-minute drive south of Boston.

It has also been reported that Norwegian has opted to establish NAI’s New York base at Stewart International Airport in New Windsor, New York — 60 miles north of Manhattan — rather than at the larger New York City airports.

A spokesperson for the airline said it was too early to comment on which US airports it will use on the direct Cork-US routes.

But he confirmed that secondary airports are being looked at.

“A number of airports are being looked at while we finalise our plans but secondary airports in the US present us with an opportunity to offer some truly ground-breaking fares to passengers in Ireland and the US.”

The airline hopes to offer introductory price offers of around €69 one-way, with normal fares expected to be in the region of around €160 one-way, and around €300 return.

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Get your photos in before our readers’ pictures competition comes to a close

2016-12-11

The Irish Examiner Readers’ Pictures competition is drawing to a close.

The Irish Examiner Readers’ Pictures competition is drawing to a close.

Here is a selection of pictures taken from our shortlist of 2016 weekly winners.

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We have had a great response again this year with more than 4,000 entries so far.

The overall winner will walk away with €1,000 worth of photographic equipment, while two runners-up will get a €250 voucher each — all compliments of Barker Photographic, our sponsor this year.

Last date for entry is December 28, so there is still time to clinch a spot as a weekly winner from which we will make our final selection.

Log on to irishexaminer.com/photos for full competition details and to upload your entry.

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