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Tuesday in the Dáil

Credit: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

By Aoibhinn Bryant

It’s a quiet Tuesday in Leinster House, the bustle comes from raucous school children clambering their way through the narrow blue hallways, politicians and journalists alike worming around them. The merriness brought on from Pancake Tuesday stops short at the doors to the Dáil Chambers as the handful of TDs get ready for Leaders’ Questions.

The murmuring in the Dáil chamber comes to a stupor as the Taoiseach makes his way to his seat. With the go-ahead from the Ceann Comhairle, Fianna Fail leader Míchael Martin springs up to attention and lunges the political hot potato of housing to Leo Varadkar. Varadkar defends his minister’s actions, reaffirming his governments’ desire to that everyone has the right to shelter.

When its thrown back to Martin, his tone gets more and more heated as the Ceann Comhairle has to remind him a total of four times that “time is up”. Martin lambasts the government’s fanfare as they “prance around and not look at the real world”.

Varadkar replies back that it is in fact, Martin who is “prancing around and wagging his finger” while the government has been trying its best efforts to solve the housing crisis. This is met with unanimous shaking heads from the deputies from Fianna Fail, resembling a group hypnotism.

Next up is Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou MacDonald who brings up Saint Vincent de Paul’s recent report that has found poverty levels for lone parents has doubled in the past five years. MacDonald reiterates that the majority of these are working parents who “wake up at the crack of dawn”. Varadkar’s brows furrow and his frown deepens at the jab on his “people who get up early in the morning” campaign statement which attracted controversy at the time.

After a heated back-and-forth between the Fine Gael and Sinn Fein leaders, it’s time for Irish Solidarity-People Before Profit’s leader Paul Murphy in his jeans and runners to prove that he isn’t a part of the Dáil bubble. He raises the topic of the student’s strike for climate change and if the Taoiseach will listen to young people and their worries about the environment and if there is any initiative to make public transport free.

Varadkar says he will listen and there has been efforts to improve the public transport, mentioning the plans for Dublin Bus and MetroLinks. Michael Healy Rae looks up from his phone for the first time this session.

“Only in Dublin!” he barks before returning his gaze back to his screen.

Murphy retorts that Varadkar’s support for the student strike has given the green light for every child to walk out at school next Friday. While the chamber guffaws at his statement, a young girl in a pink dress presses her face against the window of the Press Gallery.

Just outside the doors of Leinster House, there is a noted absence of protesting crowds demanding for government action on a variety of different topics. Instead there is one man in pyjamas and a grubby t shirt perched on a chair, blasting ‘The Stone Roses’ from a small speaker and a sign on his lap. His name is Michael Wee and he’s here to champion veterans’ rights.

From Monday to Wednesday, Wee spends his entire time outside Dáil Eireann including sleeping out during the night. Next week, he plans to up the anty and dress as a Leprechaun, playing the tin whistle.

“I’ll be the Pied Piper, pushing the rats out” he gestures to the Dáil entrance.

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Concern chief praises Ireland on Syria refugees

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By Sabrine Donohoe

Concern Chief Brid Kennedy praised Ireland’s contribution to the Syrian crisis at a Dail Committee meeting today.

Kennedy, Regional Director of Concern, was responding to Fianna Fail TD Niall Collins and Fine Gael TD Sean Crowe, who questioned the ability of Ireland as a “small country” to influence change in Syria.

Head of Ethics and Compliance at Goal Mary Van Lieshout commended Ireland as one of the top 20 donors in humanitarian aid to Syria.

Van Lieshout claimed that Goal is supporting people in the Syrian district of Azaz, but not yet to other parts of Syria.

The Committee board suggested that Ireland meet its target of taking in 4000 Syrian refugees and use its influence in Brussels to push the UN to engage with the government in Syria.

Senetor Ivana Bacik said however that Assad has had a “de-facto victory”, with the “aspirations for support no longer tenable” after Russian and Iranian intervention.

Kennedy claimed later on that Concern would do more for Syrians to support themselves by re-building agricultural and business in Syria.

Women in “bread-winning situations” whose husbands may have passed away or otherwise will be a key focus of the charity.

Independent TD Maureen O’ Sullivan emphasised the resilience of Syrian refugees in rehabilitating to their hometowns after the destruction they suffered.

O’ Sullivan, called on all parties to hold accountability for the war crimes Syria has endured.

Ireland committed to accepting 2622 refugees in 2015, but has accepted 1022 Syrian refugees from Greece as of December 2018.

More than 5.6 million Syrians have fled their country since the civil war began in 2011, according to UNHCR figures from last year.

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Taoiseach slams “eco-socialism”

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By Marianne Foody

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar rejected claims from socialist TDs in the Dail today for the government’s failure to tackle environmental issues saying, ”socialists are no friends of the environment”.

People before Profit TD Paul Murphy raised the case of 16 year old climate activist Greta Thunberg whose recent efforts have gained her global attention.

Thunberg’s #FridaysForFuture school strikes initiative saw over 30,000 students globally take to the streets every Friday and Murphy maintained that the government needs to listen to the Irish youth who will strike on March 15th.

Varadkar stated that eco-socialist policies are not what Ireland needs and although he is inspired by the children of Ireland, he said socialists need to listen too and pointed out that PBP objected to water charges and a carbon tax saying,

‘’Without a carbon tax we cannot achieve our targets’’.

Murphy accused Varadkar’s government of ‘‘greenwashing’’ and using climate change to implement a carbon tax although, he said,

‘’It’s the larger companies who are at fault here.’’

‘’Ireland is the third worst in the EU for renewable energy. 90% of corporations are responsible for 63% of global emissions – these students should be joined by trade unions to enable the just and rapid transition that we need. We need eco-socialist policies,’’ said Murphy.

When Varadkar confirmed that he supported the children who will strike on March 15th around the world, Murphy described it as great, as long as it wasn’t just a ‘’patronizing pat on the back’’.

The PBP politician argued that free public transport in Ireland would be an effective policy to implement costing the State €600 million per year, the same amount Ireland will be fined annually by the EU for failing to meet renewable energy targets and cutting emissions by 2020.

An Taoiseach confirmed that free public transport would not be a possibility as it is already ‘’at full capacity’’ and thusly can’t be used anymore than it already is.

Ireland has committed to an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050 but we are not set to meet those targets and as it stands our emissions are rising.

In fact, the States own appointed Climate Change Advisory Counsel (CCAC) outlined in its 2018 report that Ireland’s trend of rising emissions was ‘‘disturbing’’.

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90 year old farmer did not die from injury impact, court hears

Credit: Gabija Gataveckaite

By Gabija Gataveckaite

The autopsy of the murdered 90 year old farmer showed that he did not die on impact from blasts to the head with a blunt object.

The trial also heard this afternoon that some of Paddy Lyons’  injuries were from a potential fall on his right side.

Mr Ross Outram (28) has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Mr Paddy Lyons (90) at Loughleagh, Ballysaggart, Lismore, Co Waterford on a date sometime between February 23rd and 26th, 2017.

Giving evidence to the trial today, state pathologist Professor Jack Craig stated that Mr Lyons’ autopsy indicated survival for some time after the injuries were sustained.

Mr Craig explained that axonal injuries found in Mr Lyon’s brain showed that he did not die on impact from injury.

Under cross examination by John O’Kelly SC, prosecution, Mr Craig explained that Mr Lyons was alive for sometime between 30 minutes to several hours after sustaining injuries.

The trial heard that Mr Lyons’ autopsy showed that he had ‘ill health’ and had a fractured hip, osteoporosis,  lacerations to the skull and face, bruising on the scalp as well as fractures to his ribs among other injuries.

Potential fall

The pathologist explained that injuries to the right side of his body may be explained if Mr Lyons had a fall to the hard concrete ground.

In this case, injuries to the right side of his face, lower jaw, right ribs and the hip would be explained. He stated that it was ‘unusual’ for a hip fracture to be caused by a blow to that area.

Under cross examination by Michael O’Higgins SC, defence, Mr Craig added that the fall could have been a ‘spontaneous event’ or Mr Lyons may have been ‘pushed to the ground’.

“If he had fallen over for whatever reason, fractures of the hip are very common in elderly people,” he said.

Mr O’Higgins then told the judge that there is a ‘fork in the road’ as to whether Mr Lyon’s potential fall was a spontaneous event, or if he had been pushed to the ground.

After his fall, Mr Lyons would have not been able to bear weight on his right hip, and so would have crawled to his armchair, where his body was found.

“He could have crawled a short distance,” Mr Craig told the jury.

A ‘material that looked like ash’ was also found on Mr Lyons’ knees during his autopsy, which may have adhered to his legs after he fell.

“When he was initially assaulted, he was capable of movement, he fell and crawled to the chair, where he eventually died,” said Mr Craig.

Concussion

The jury later heard that Mr Lyons enduring a concussion from injury to his head is ‘purely speculative’.

Giving evidence to the jury earlier in the trial, assistant state pathologist Margot Bolster stated that Mr Lyons ‘almost certainly’ sustained a concussion after blows to the head.

However, Mr Craig told the jury that a concussion is found on someone who is alive, and not a pathological finding.

He added that “shock associated with injury is a very considerable factor in a fatal outcome”.

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Top Irish athletes back on form

Credit irishtimes.com

By Joshua Freeman

Two Irish athletes who faced career threatening challenges are bouncing back and looking stronger than ever.

On Sunday night Glasgow became part of Irish athletic history when both Mark English and Ciara Mageean picked up bronze medals in the men’s 800 metres and women’s 1500m respectively at the European Indoor Championships.

It spared Ireland another poor showing at the event and gave both their careers a timely boost in the right direction.

It could have been a very different story had they not battled back to their best after being plagued with misfortune over the last number of years.

It was only three years ago that Letterkenny native, English suffered a serious freak injury during a run with UCD. He ran over a pothole and damaged his foot.

It was an injury that meant missing that year’s World Indoor Championships and shattering his hopes of a good finish in the Rio Olympics, where he bowed out in the semi-finals after a lack of preparation.

It was a bitter pill to swallow following his bronze medal at the 2014 European Championships and a silver in the European Indoors of 2015.

Mageean’s story followed a similar pattern. Formidable at youth level, breaking Sonia O’Sullivan’s underage records before having three years filled of medals on the national and international stage between 2009 and 2012.

Similarly, to English, injury took its toll as she was diagnosed with a Calcaneal Spur on her left ankle; an injury which left her out of action for over two years through surgery and rehabilitation.

Her journey took a different twist to Mark English as she came back stronger breaking the 1500m Irish record with a run of 4:08.66-minutes upon her return along with a bronze at the European Athletics Championships.

The 2016 Rio Olympics is where their two stories intertwined once more, when the Portaferry native earned an Olympic semi-final berth only to see her form drop drastically after.

While English fought injury curses, Mageean fought form issues eventually breaking down after a series of poor performances.

That was the final straw for a determined Mageean who joined coach Steve Vernon in Manchester at Team New Balance in order to reignite her stuttering career.

At national level both athletes began shining again with Mageean becoming the first woman to claim the 800m and 1500m double since O’Sullivan in August 2018. With English claiming the 800m title in the men’s in both 2018 and 2019.

On Sunday, their hard work was rewarded with their respective medals, which also saw English become only the second Irishman to hold more than one medal at the championships. The other being David Gillick.

Even after Mageean’s race there was hunger that was lacking before as she said “I am very disappointed I don’t have a silver right now,” as she was pipped to second by Poland’s Sofia Ennaoui.

The pair have almost parallel patterns and with English only being 25 and Mageean 26, it appears as though the best is yet to come for these Irish warriors.

The pair claimed Ireland’s 19th and 20th medals at the championships since its inception, a tally which would seem certain to increase if their current form continues. For now, we not only have to be happy for the weekend but be thankful that we will hopefully get to see more proud Irish days on the track.

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Spike in violence against women in 2019

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By Cait Caden

Three women were murdered in Ireland by men they knew before the end of the third month of 2019.

Cathy Ward was murdered by her husband in early March, Elzbieta Piotrowska was killed by her son in January and Jasmine McMonagle was killed in her home by a man also.

“Women are actually safer staying in an abusive relationship,” said DCU lecturer and researcher of domestic violence and abuse Melissa Corbally,

Corbally added that women who leave an abusive relationship are more at risk of being murdered.

221 women have died in Ireland in 23 years and 56 per cent of the people who commit these murders are the partners or the ex-partners of the female victims, however the majority of women murdered in Ireland knew their killers personally.  61 per cent of the victims were also murdered in their own home.

Corbally believes one of the main problems in tackling domestic abuse is the lack of collaborative and unified data collection in relation to physical abuse towards women.

The rates of domestic violence are not often accurately measured, according to Corbally,

She stated that frequency is one of the main things which can lead to confusion in relation to the rates of domestic abuse. For example, some reports state that a victim was hit by her attacker. However, this does not specify how many times or the time period that the victim was hit.

As a result of this “lack of comparable data,” Corbally stated it is difficult to create policy to accurately deal with the rise of women being murdered as a result of domestic abuse.

The Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2016 – 2021 was a strategy launched by TD France Fitzgerald which aimed to tackle this issue.

However, since that strategy was launched, some of the most brutal attacks on women took place in Ireland.

Landmark cases happened in 2018 in relation to women being violently murdered by men. One was the murder of Clodagh Hawe and her and children by her husband. He used a hatchet and his bare hands.

The second was the abduction and assault of Jastine Valdez.

“Things are going in the right direction,” said Corbally on what is being done about the rate of domestic abuse in Ireland. She added that there is a lot “more to be done.”

Seven women were murdered in 2018 and eight were murdered in 2017, according to Femicide Watch Reports done by Women’s Aid.

Women’s Aid also found that although seven women were violently murdered last year, only 7 per cent of those who suffered domestic abuse rang a helpline.

Women’s Aid could not be reached for a comment before publication.

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Moonlight witness unaware of water shortage

Credit irishtimes.com

By Ian Brennan

Witness Gary Cunningham was unaware of a water shortage at the Fawnagowan farm of murderer accused Patrick Quirke during the time he was working there, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

The Court had previously heard that the reason the accused went to the tank where the body of Bobby Ryan was found to draw water from it was because he knew there was no water in the open tank he would normally use.

Cunningham was working for the accused on a placement since February 2013 for 15 weeks, and worked for a further two weeks afterwards while he was obtaining a degree from CIT in agricultural science.

Quirke pleaded not guilty to the murder of Bobby Ryan, a DJ that goes by the name of Mr Moonlight, saying he was celebrating with his wife the weekend Mr Ryan went missing

Cunningham told the court he would visit the Fawnagowan farm to bring back silage to the accused’s home farm in Breanshamore every day.

Cunningham went into detail with the prosecution counsel David Humphries BL about the practise of agitating slurry, saying it was common in farming in order to draw silage from a pit to be spread on fields.

Cunningham said he was unaware of the tank where Ryan’s body was found and couldn’t recall what was in the area around the tank.

He was not working the day the body was found as he had been injured after being kicked by a cow the Friday before. He had sent a text to the accused saying he would be back working and returned to work the morning after the body was found.

Cunningham said that he and the accused only had one quick conversation about the body being found, where Quirke had mentioned rumours that a group of Polish people had been involved with the murder of Mr. Ryan.

A second witness was called before the stand, Emmet Kenny, had worked for the accused since February 2009 on a three-month placement while attending agricultural college, before being hired to work for the months of February, March and April for the years since, including in 2013.

Mr Kenny said he was aware of the tank at the back of the farm where the body of Mr Ryan was found, saying he thought it was “an old septic tank”.

The witness told the court that Quirke took the June Bank Holiday in 2011 to go away, and that the accused had told Kenny of his plans two weeks in advance.

Mr Kenny told the court he had never spread slurry in either Fawnagowan or Bearnshamore farms, saying that separate contractors were responsible for doing that.

After the arrival of Gary Cunningham in 2013, the workload was divided between the two men and Mr. Kenny decided to work part-time.

The trial is ongoing in front of Justice Eileen Creedon and a jury of 12 people, six men and six women.

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Facebook backs minister over new child protection legislation

Credit: Breakingnews.ie

By Ellen Fitzpatrick

Facebook has broken their silence to back Minister Bruton’s proposal to police the internet

The minister is proposing new legislation to protect children online.

Facebook say that they already have a set of community standards where, when violations occur, the offending content is immediately removed.

They also said their current practices already reflect much of what the minister is proposing.

The new legislation will introduce several changes that will protect Irish residents using the internet.

Facebook is the first social media organisation to welcome the new legislation saying they support its aim to maintain a safe and secure social networking platform for all ages.

“Our priority is to make Facebook a safe place for people of all ages, which is why we work closely with safety experts, including the National Anti-Bullying Centre at DCU, and have spent many years developing a range of tools to help people have a positive experience on Facebook,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

“We very much welcome the consultation Minister Bruton has launched and support its stated aim of achieving a proportionate and effective approach to dealing with harmful content online. We also welcome his focus on defining “harmful” communications in such a way that does not curtail legitimate freedom of speech and freedom of expression online,” they added.

The ministers initiative comes after a school in Newry had pornographic material put on their website and the momo challenge scare that went viral on Whatsapp last week.

“Police received a report of an incident in relation to a website in the name of a school in the Newry area.  On further police investigation it was established that the lease for this website had expired and it was legitimately purchased by another user,” a police spokesperson said.

“While it would be impossible to remove every danger from the internet or from the adaptation of new technology, what we need to do is to ensure that parents and children are better equipped, that the state can provide regulation and enforcement, and that online platforms take responsibility,” Minister Bruton said in a speech to Saint Brigids Girls National School,  Glasnevin.

“The danger of not providing a clear definition is that we would unintentionally restrict legitimate freedom of speech and freedom of expression, which are core values,” the Minister added.

There has been no reaction to this proposed legislation by Instagram and Twitter as of yet.

The definition of content that is considered harmful, according to the Minister, include anything that has potential risks of self harm or suicide, threatening, humiliating or intimidating forms of cyber-bullying and content that has an “effect of exposing a person to risk of death or endangering health.”

Although it is a requirement that anything that is a criminal offence must be removed under Irish and EU law, this new legislation would regulate the content that children are exposed to daily.

“While there are many very good initiatives going on across the government to promote online safety, particularly by WebWise, the Online Safety Commissioner can be a single online access point through which all available Online Safety resources can be accessed by parents, teachers and children. This could build on the government’s Be Safe Online portal,” the Minister said.

There are two ways in which this legislation aims to regulate online safety and institute an Online Safety Commissioner, to establish a media commission or have two regulators.

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Three suspicious packages discovered in London

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By Gerard Grimes

Security alerts involving suspicious packages are being investigated at three major transport hubs in London.

The first incident, at Heathrow Airport, occurred at 9.55am this morning and has now been made safe.

“At approximately 09:55hrs police received a report of a suspicious package at The Compass Centre, Nelson Road, Hounslow.

“The building was evacuated as a precaution. Specialist officers attended and the package was made safe,” Scotland Yard said in a statement.

This is the second incident of its kind at Heathrow this year. Police were called to Terminal 2 of the airport after reports of a suspect package on January 6.

On that occasion, the package – an item of luggage, was assessed by police and the terminal was later reopened.

There are currently two other suspicious packages being investigated, at Waterloo Station and London City Airport.

British Transport Police were called to Waterloo Station at 11.40am this morning following reports of a suspicious package.

Specialist officers are currently on scene, assessing the package. Cordons are in place but train services are operating as normal.

Police were then called to London City Airport Aviation House, Royal Docks, Newham at 12.10pm.

“Specialist officers are at the scene. The building has been evacuated as a precaution. Enquiries are ongoing,” a statement from Met Police read.

A statement from London City Airport read: “We can confirm that the airport is operating as normal, flights are not impacted and the DLR is fully operational.”

Officers are now investigating if the there is a link between the three incidents, but have said it is currently “too early” to say.

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Leader’s Questions: Live Blog

By Catherine Gallagher

Micheál Martin – Fianna Fail:

2.03:

Raises issues of Mortgage Loan Scheme

“I don’t know what planet the Minister is on. Why did the Department not make an annoucement.. the public deserve to know. People are still applying. Why can’t the government and the Minister be honest?”

2.06:

Taoiseach:

“Everyone has the right to shelter and the right to buy their own home.”

“Take for example the Help to Buy Scheme, 10,000 people have benefited from it.”

“What we have to consider is to increase the cap of 200 million and we also have to consult with the Central Bank…

2.09

Micheál Martin – Fianna Fail:

“The Taoiseach said in December there would be no problem”

“Why didn’t the Minister say he was going to be approaching the Central Bank?

“Why can’t you be upfront with people?

“We are all going through this charade of ‘we must get this note from here'”

2.11:

Taoiseach:

“When it was announced, it was capped at 200 million and it would run for three years. It was a huge success.”

2.12:

Mary Lou McDonald – Sinn Fein

Raises SVP report on lone parent families

“The report finds that the the living conditions are the second worst in Europe… that’s shocking, Taoiseach”

“These families are like others, they get up at the crack of dawn and struggle.”

“These people who have the modest aspiration for a decent life, how could they when they are in the here and now?”

“It’s not good enough Taoiseach to brush this over as you often do .. these are families that need not a hand out, but a hand up”

“What do you propose to do in the here in now? When will you introduce a living wage?”

2.15:

Taoiseach:

“In terms of what we are doing, we are increasing welfare payments and jobs. We have introduced the Family Working supplement. We are reducing the cost of childcare. We are increasing pay. We are reducing the cost of medicines.”

“I have immense respect for SVP but I don’t think it tells the full picture.”

2.19:

Mary Lou McDonald – Sinn FéinL:

“It’s not unexpected but it’s depressing the measures you are taking.”

“Many of the interventions you mention are subsidies for low-paid employment. I am not going to trade statistics with you. I am telling you what you should already know; people are struggling

Taoiseach:

“You don’t want to trade statistics because you don’t want to know the facts”

“There is a living wage in UK and Northern Ireland, it is actually lower than the Minimum Wage that we have here.”

2.22:

Paul Murphy – People Before Profit

“At the the rate we are facing a 4 or 5 degree increase in temperature. The 15th of March has been named for a global school strike for Climate Change.

A masss movement on Climate Change is needed.

“Will you listen to the school students

“Do you believe we should get people out of cars and we should make public transport free?”

2.26:

Taoiseach:

“Yes, of course I will listen. As you aware we have major proposals in public transport.”

“These are students saying to all of us to get our act together. Among the people who need to listen are people in parties like you, who don’t believe in climate tax charges”

2.28:

Paul Murphy – People Before Profit:

“The systems and the policies you approve are incompatible with change.”

“Using climate change as a green washing exercise to introduce more tax will not work with people.”

“Free public transport, it would make a huge change on emissions in our second biggest sector.”

2.30:

Taoiseach:

“No, we are not going to introduce free public transport free. Instead of investing 600m to make public transport free, we should improve it to encourage more people to use it.”

“Socialists are no friends of the environment, you opposed water changes”

2.32:

Michael Harty – Independent TD

“Taoiseach, we cannot reform the health service from current spending.”

“The HSE service plan for 2019 it will struggle to maintain 2018 services.”

“Unmet need will continue to grow. The capacity of our service is at the maximum and this is recognised internationally as unsafe”

“We educate our graduates for export”

“Is this going to be the legacy your government leaves behind? Are you planning an extrodinary

2.35:

Taoiseach:

“We are investing in primary care centres. We are investing in a 10 year capital budget.”

“We are increasing bed capacity; 200 last year and 200 this year.”

“The next step is contractual reforms for GPs.”

2.38

Michael Harty – Independent TD:

“We do not have the manpower to underpin general practice. We are losing our GPs from urban practices, let alone rural practices.”

“Your government is failing general practice.”

Taoiseach:

“We are in negotiations with the IMO to restore funding in general practice.

3.05:

Mary Lou McDonald – Sinn Féin:

“Can I ask if you plan to introduce a redress scheme for those affected by defects in housing?”

Eoghan Murphy – Minsiter for Housing:

“In 2014, the controls around housing were greatly improved. The difficulty we have is it poses a tax risk for the government accepting liabilty for each individual houses.”

3.11:

Brendan Howlin – Labour:

“I would ask all of us in the house to support local media. The debates in this house should be presented free of charge.”

Taoiseach:

“I agree with you”

3.12:

Richard Boyd Barrett – People Before Profit:

Raises issue of affordable housing

“Are not the proposals for affordable housing not a complete hoax?”

Eoin O’Broin – Sinn Féin:

“We have a situation where 136m of this fund is just sitting there.

“Does the Minister appreciate know the limbo that applicants are in and how long they have to wait to know if their applications will be drawn down or not?”

Eoghan Murphy – Minister for Housing:

“We are only a year and a month and we have seen hundreds approved and drawn down. The lag between approval and being drawn down is not always a local authority’s issue.”

Ministers says he is in negociations with Department of Finance and Public Expenditure.

3.17:

Danny Healy-Ray – Independent

“Will the government reverse the the new drink driving bill in light of the anger in rural Ireland?”

Taoiseach:

“I think there is a degree of misunderstanding. The new law has changed the penalty, not the limits.”

Peter Fitzpatrick – Independent TD

“People in rural Ireland cannot build on old lands, can you say if this is coming to an end?”

Eoghan Murphy – Minister for Housing:

“It is not fair to say that we do not have houses being built based on local need. We are waiting on new guildelines but local authorities are still operating on 2015 guidelines.”

3.41;

Mary Lou McDonald – Sinn Féin:

“In the event of a No-Deal Brexit, that means a hard border – how do you plan to tackle that?”

Taoiseach:

“A lot of people have come up with alternative arrangements but all we have written down is the terms written in the Backstop.”

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Lunchtime round-up

By Catherine Gallagher

#UNEMPLOYMENT – The rate of unemployment has fallen to 5.6% in February, according to figures released today from the Central Statistics Office. Unemployment stood .2% higher this time last year.

#DENIS O’BRIEN – The Supreme Court has ruled that his privacy was not breached during a Dáil debate about the sale of Siteserv.

The came following O’Brien’s appeal of the High Court Finding in May 2017. The businessman argued that his privacy was breached by Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty and Social Democrat’s Catherine Murphy.

#MURDER – Laura Kenna (37) has been found guilty of attempting to murder a civil servant Fionnuala Burke in Dublin two years ago.

#PSNI – The Northern Ireland Policing Board has been warned that they could face legal action in the event of politicians involved in the appointment of the next PSNI Chief constable.

The warning comes in light of Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald stating that she does not believe any current senior PSNI officer is up to the job.

#WEATHER WARNING – A status yellow rainfall warning has been issued for Munster and Leinster. It is due to commence today at 3pm until tomorrow at 6pm

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10 at 10

By Catherine Gallagher

#DENIS O’BRIEN –  The Supreme Court has dismissed Denis O’Brien’s appeal over statements made in the Dáil about his banking affairs.

The decision will be made this morning on O’Brien’s appeal on the High Court finding that the courts had no power to intervene on issues raised by him. He claimed that Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy and Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty revealed information about his banking affairs.

#POVERTY – A report released by the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) has found that poverty among single parents has more than doubled between 2012 and 2017.

In 2017, 45% of single parents said they experienced a heavy financial burden due to housing costs. Also, 84% stated that they were unable to meet unexpected costs.

#CENTRAL BANK – The Central Bank may be forced to take action if there is no improvement in diversity, according to Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe.

The Central Bank’s diversity and inclusion assessment found that 80% of men between 2012 and 2017 filled senior roles.

#BREXIT – Britain’s Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and Brexit Secretary are resuming talks in Brussels today. Downing Street said that negotiations are a at a “critical stage” as Theresa May presses for concessions from the EU to persuade MPs to back her Brexit Deal in next week’s crucial Commons vote.

#NORTHERN IRELAND – A primary school in Northern Ireland has reported that pornographic material appeared on their school website. St Ronan’s Primary School in Newry was alerted to the matter on Sunday.

The school said they believe the site was hacked. They have been in contact with the domain hosts and the police to try to resolve the issue.

#US – The US intends to scrap a trade status granted to India and Turkey which would allow certain products from the two countries to be imported duty-free.

In a statement, the Office of the US Trade Representative said the two countries “no longer comply with the statutory eligibility criteria” for the programme.

#FINE GAEL – Fine Gael’s newest European Parliament election candidate Mark Durcan for Dublin was unable to name any streets in Dublin or stations along the Metro line.

Durcan, who is a former SDLP leader from Derry said he won’t be moving to Dublin if he wins a seat in the EU Parliament.

#MORTGAGE SCHEME – Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy is being asked to clarify if a Government-backed mortgage scheme will be delayed as it has run out of funding.

A document from the Department of Housing, released to RTE’s Morning Ireland under the Freedom of Information states how further approvals are not currently being processed for the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan.

#HIV Treatment – A HIV-positive man in the UK has been cleared of the AIDS virus following a bone-marrow transplant from a HIV-resistant donor.

He is the second known adult worldwide to have benefited from successful treatment.

#REZONING – Up to 20,000 homes could be provided in plans to rezone industrial land in Dublin’s city centre.

Up to 270 hectares has been marked on four key growth sites in Jamestown Business Park, Dublin Industrial Estate, Glasnevin; sites near the Malahide Rd, Coolock and a tranch of land along the Naas Road from Inchicore to Cherry Orchard.

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Party for Animal Welfare launches in Dublin

Party For Animal Welfare (PAW) held a media event on Tuesday 26th February where they talked about their goals and plans for the future.

A new political party that advocates for animals rights in politics are looking for people to stand as election candidates around the country

Some of the party’s main aims are to ban fur farming, ban fox and badger hunting, ban life hare coursing and ban greyhound racing. They also want to put a stop to puppy farming and fix the equine issue in Ireland

They invited the public to come to their launch to find out about their party. They were also encouraged to volunteer to become a member and pay an annual fee, and to put themselves forward to become an election candidate for the party in local elections.

Councillor Jane Smith, the deputy leader for the Animal Welfare Party (AWP) in Cheshire, UK was in attendance on the day. She was AWP’s first ever elected councillor.

Smith gave a speech about the importance of having parties whose sole purpose and concentration is about the welfare for animals. These parties “give a voice to animals in human politics”.

“The sweeping changes for the better that can be made when animals are fairly represented in human politics,” she said, “this country already has some very, very committed advocates and the times now come to bring it all together to make real political change for animals”.

Smith was joined on the panel at the launch with Chairperson of PAW Gerben Uunk and Caroline Rowley, spokesperson for Compassion in World Farming.

At the launch they showed videos of members from some of the other 18 political parties for animals in the world, who were wishing PAW luck and inviting them into the “family”.

Towards the end of the talk they allowed for the members of the public who had come to the launch to ask questions and talk about the issues that animals face and why they should be stopped.

Two women at the launch stayed back to organise with Uunk to start meetings for the party in Dublin, they organised to meet once at the start of every month to try promote the party and invite more members to join them.

PAW is part of a growing animal protection movement. The first party for animal welfare was the Dutch party got the Animals, since them many other political parties have been launch worldwide.

By Rachel Halpin

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No signs of assault at victim’s house, Mr Moonlight trial hears

There were no signs of assault where ‘large amounts of blood’ were spilled in Mary Lowry’s bedroom and living room, the Mr Moonlight trial heard this afternoon.

Giving evidence before the jury, forensic scientists stated that did not find ‘large amounts’ blood in the living room and master bedroom of Ms Lowry’s house.

While many swabs of potential blood spots were taken from the master and living rooms, none of these resulted to be sufficient DNA evidence.  

Patrick Quirke of Breanshamore, Co Tipperary has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Bobby Ryan, a truck driver and part-time DJ known as Mr Moonlight on a date between June 3 2011 and April 2011.

Last week, the trial heard that the post-mortem examination of Mr Ryan’s body showed evidence of assault.

Swabs were taken from the crime scene on May 3rd, 2013 by forensic scientist Martina McBride from Ms Lowry’s house. These included an area behind the headboard of the bed, a shelf in the wardrobe and ceiling. Samples of the mattress and carpet, as well as the chandelier from the living room, were also sent for examination.

The swabs and samples were then investigated by Dr Hillary Clarke, who also gave evidence at the trial this afternoon.

However, she explained that she found no suitable DNA samples which could have been appropriately discriminated to determine their original source.

Hair clip

Under cross examination by Lorcan Staines SC, for defence, Dr Clarke outlined that she had ‘interest’ in the hair clip which was found in the run off from the slurry tank.

Dr Clarke described the hair clip to be ‘pieces of plastic’ and explained that it had broken into four parts, and its hinge mechanism was missing.

The wife of the accused, Ms Imelda Lowry, was accompanied by a young male at the trial this afternoon.

Justice Eileen Creedon read out the case for the search warrant of Ms Lowry’s house later on at the hearing. She stated that the search warrant for the property was lawful.


By Gabija Gataveckaite

Image credit: The Irish Times

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Protesters take action against price increase on food supplements

Protesters stood outside Leinster House today to call on Minister Paschal Donohoe to take action against the price increase on all food supplements sold in Ireland.

The revenue commissioners are applying 23% VAT to all food supplements on Friday. This statement was announced last December.

“If Minister Donohoe wanted to introduce a tax as a responsible stakeholder, we would consult and negotiate with him, but this decision has been made by the Civil Servants in Dublin Castle.” said Irish Health Trade Association (IHTA) General Secretary, Phil Costigan.

She also said that, Minister Donohoe refused to meet and, “we are asking Minister Donohoe and his Government to take charge on policy and not allow a tax to come in unmarked.”

“I’m not surprised that we have over 75,000 petitions here.” Costigan said.  Since 1973, most food supplements in Ireland have been supplied at the Zero rate of VAT, in accordance with guidelines published by the Revenue Commissioners.

For the past 40 years food supplements have been sold at a 0% rate, including products like Vitamin C, Cod Liver Oil, Omega 3, Probiotics.

According to the IHTA it threatens 1,800 jobs and 200 independent health stores and with the U.K. exiting the EU, Labour leader Brendan Howlin said, “Now is the time for Government to support small businesses, and to reinforce the viability of towns for shopping and services.”

76 per cent of Irish people take supplements all year round. It is predicted that this number will decrease due to the added VAT, as people may not be able to afford them. It is also said to have an impact on Irish businesses and effect jobs.

Ireland is only one of two countries in Europe who currently have no VAT on their food supplements, but prices are already high without tax.  “I actually bought my last supply of vitamin B in Germany and it cost me €3 compared to €7 for the same amount here.” said DCU student Ciara Byrne.

She continued to say, “I take vitamin B complex and vitamin D because I’m vegetarian and miss out on those for the most part in my diet, I don’t think vat should be added as it’s important for people who need them to have access. If vat is added I may take them every second day instead of every day as they are expensive as it is.”

Jessie Byrne, a nurse working at Dublin City University said that “It’s a massive problem.”

She expects to see more students in the waiting room due to the VAT increase. She stated that probiotics in particular are expensive and things like irritable bowel syndrome are already expensive to treat without this price increase.

She highlighted that supplements are necessary for vitamin D and vitamin B in particular. She dwelled on the need for vitamin D and how irish students struggle to get it between the months of October and March. She said that due to the lack of sun exposure, it can impact the immune system, bone formation and heart deficiency.

By Amy Donohoe

Image Credit: Amy Donohoe

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Flanagan open to submission from family of Clodagh Hawe

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has asked the family of Clodagh Hawe to provide a submission to Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan to open an inquiry.

A 2017 inquest found that Alan Hawe took his own life after the unlawful merders of his wife and their three kids, Liam (14), Niall (11) and Ryan (6).

Mary Coll, Clodagh’s mother, and her sister Jaqueline Connolly appeared on Claire Byrne Live last night on RTÉ 1 after their legal request to access copies of Garda files on the case was officially refused.

Leader of Fianna Fáil Micheál Martin today asked the Taoiseach if a second inquiry into the case will be commissioned, to which Varadkar replied that laws had already been passed, including the Domestic Violence Act in 2018.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou MacDonald went on to ask the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan if he would be willing to meet with the family.

MacDonald questioned Varadkar on the specialist Gardaí reviews that take place when a murder has happened in a domestic setting, noting that the UK, and soon Northern Ireland, prefer to adopt a multi-agency approach.

The National Women’s Council of Ireland released a press statement where they support the family of Clodagh Hawe in their attempts to have their questions answered.

The NWCI called on Flanagan and the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to “complete and publish the findings of the ten-year domestic homicide review, promised to NWCI and Women’s Aid after the death of Clodagh Hawe.”

As well as this they join MacDonald in support of multi-agency reviews for homicides in Ireland in a domestic environment, saying they would provide families with answers.

Another benefit of multi-agency reviews, according to the NWCI, “improve risk assessment and management and to identify gaps in policy and practice, following such crimes” as well as providing women protection in the future.

By Ian Brennan

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“He was a battler”: Longest surviving lung transplant recipient dies

The longest surviving lung transplant recipient with Cystic Fibrosis passed away yesterday in the Mater hospital.

Brendan McLaughlin (51) from Stranorlar, Co Donegal underwent the transplant in 1992 in Newcastle and had a kidney transplant in 2002 in Dublin.

His funeral will take place in Stranorlar, Co Donegal and his remains will repose this evening and tomorrow, Wednesday in the home of his brother and sister-in-law.

Philip Watt, CEO of Cystic Fibrosis Ireland reminisced over McLaughlin’s life and described him as “quite a character”.

“We will definitely miss him and we will be celebrating his life tonight,” said Watt on his way to the repose in Stranorlar. “He was a battler.”

“He was a fairly small guy and the donor’s lungs were too big so they only put one lung in instead of two. I had never seen that before,” Watt said of McLaughlin’s transplant.

McLaughlin also spent some of his life as a carer for his sister Frances who unfortunately passsed away from CF. He was on oxygen for the past while before passing away and lived in a nursing home near Beaumont.

“He was quite a character and you never heard him complaining,” said Watt.

McLaughlin campaigned for the rights of people with CF throughout his life. He is survived by his father Seamus, his partner and three brothers.

Donations to Cystic Fibrosis Ireland are being requested if desired in lieu of flowers.

Cystic Fibrosis Ireland and the Irish Kidney Association have paid tribute to McLaughlin on Twitter expressing their sadness over his passing.

Orla Dwyer

Image credit: RTÉ

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Protests continue against the demolition of Markievicz Pool and Gym

A protest against plans to demolish the Markievicz Leisure Centre on Townsend Street to make way for the MetroLink begins this evening at 5pm.

This follows the Department of Transport’s decision to abandon the Luas Green Line link up plans with the Metro following protests and revelations that it would disrupt the line for up to four years.

A demolition of the Markievicz Pool and Gym to build an underground station underneath was proposed but has been met with protests from local residents.

John Dean, chair of Save Markievicz Pool & Gym, has said around 150 inhabitants will be affected by the the MetroLink proposal. According to Deane, not only will homes be uprooted but it will lead to less leisure resources.

“It is the only 25m public pool located in the city centre and it is the only accessible swimming pool in the city centre”.

In the Markivecz community pool, over 65s are allowed in for free.

“It has a historical significance too, with many residents learning how to swim at the pool and teaching their children how to swim there. Leisure resources are already underrepresented in the area”.

Eoghan Ó Ceannabhain, People Before Profit candidate for Dublin Rathdown, has said this is “another sign of social cleansing of the working class” by the current government.

“Just down the road from Markievicz, the old Moss Street flats have been seized up by the private sector for hotels. They want to push the working class out of the city centre”.

Ó Ceannabhain also mentioned the gym and pool were refurbished not long ago, costing around €1 million.

Green Party leader Eamonn Ryan believes that the “devil is in the detail” of the planning of the MetroLink within the southside.

Ryan believes that the government should look into alternative proposals “more urgently” and to be “more ambitious”. Ryan suggested metro routes extending out to places like Rathfarnam and Tallaght, a place “lacking public transport options”.

The protest begins at 5pm outside the Leisure Centre at Townsend Street and will make its way to Dáil Eireann by 6pm.

By Aoibhin Bryant

Image Credit: likealocalguide.com

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Government Fails To Tackle Child Homelessness

An F grade was given to the government for their performance relating to child and family homelessness, in the annual Children’s Rights Alliance Report Card.

In 2018 and 2017 government received an E grade for their work on child and family homelessness however that standard fell to an F in the 2019 Report Card.

“Between 2017 and 2018, the number of children entering homelessness accommodation increased by 500,” said Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance Tanya Ward.

“We now have 3,800 children in homeless accommodation at the end of 2018,” she continued.

Ward stated that that “more public housing must be provided rather than over-relying on the private rented sector” to effectively address the housing “crisis.”

However, during an Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Anti-Eviction Bill Tom O’Brien from the Irish Property Owners Association stated that supply is the real issue that is not being addressed in relation to the housing crisis.

He added that reports from Daft.ie showed stock continuously declining and therefore “there’s a shortage of accommodation” which continues to grow because of landlords selling.

O’Brien told the Committee of a case in Dublin 9 where north of 50 of 72 calls enquiring about getting accommodation where because a landlord was selling the property they were living in.

He continued to say that a solution to fixing the housing crisis would be to provide tax incentives for people to invest in properties which “has been proven to reduce rent.”

The Children’s Rights Alliance Report Card was to grade the government on “its commitments to children,” added Ward.

 The Alliance gave an overall D+ grade to the Category: Right to an Adequate Standard of Living. This is the same grade they received last year.

“The right to a home is a basic human right that one would think of in terms of being a sort of Constitutional right. The need for people with families to have homes is an absolute,” said Justice Catherine McGuinness who was at the panel discussion on the Annual Report Card.

Another figure to come from the Report Card was 2,250 children are waiting for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS) appointment and “7206 children last September where waiting for a first appointment with a community psychologist,” said Ward.

The lowest grades on the report card, except for child and family homelessness, were children’s mental health under ‘Right to Health’ and traveller and Roma children under ‘Right to Equality,’ which both received a D-.

The overall grade given to the category: Right to an Adequate Standard of Living, stayed at D+. Child and family homelessness falls under this category.

The best grade on the report card was an A- for the Government’s involvement with LGBTI+ children and young people which came under the category: Right to Equality.

The Alliance gave the Government and overall C grade, taking into account all categories, for 2019 in this year’s Annual Report Card.

By Cait Caden

Image Credit: Cait Caden

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Dáil set to start process on Omnibus Brexit Bill

The Dáil will sit late for the next three days in order to start the process of passing legislation in order to deal with the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

The Government published their initial Omnibus Brexit Bill on Friday, and hours have been set aside to discuss it this week.

TD for Dublin Nort-West Noel Rock spoke in the lead up to Theresa May’s anticipated statement in the House of Commons earlier today.

“This is one of those things that has to happen. We have to be prepared in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Ideally that would not happen, that’s not a good thing for us, for the UK,” he said.

Rock went on to say occasionally the Government have to sit late in order to pass urgent or important legislation and that this issue is both urgent and important.

Rock continued to state that the Government would sit late tonight, Wednesday and Thursday, with Friday also being a day to sit late should it be needed.

“We need to make sure we’re in as good a position as possible to be best prepared for a no deal Brexit.” Rock said.

The Bill needs to be signed in by the 29 th March, the date the article process ends, unless that process is delayed. However, that possibility is not necessarily a given.

“She can’t unilaterally announce that she’s delaying Brexit, it’s still subject to the remaining EU Member States agreeing it so that isn’t necessarily a given. It’s likely that will be the case but you can’t assume anything in this regard,” The Fine Gael TD commented.

Rock commented on the possibility of the date the article process ends being extended, saying, “I imagine the EU would want to see in exchange for an extension in article 50 a reason why it’s being extended cause there’s no point in simply adding two months to it and then having the exact same
process, or the exact same chaos in two month’s time.

“It’s pointless if there’s still no prospect of getting it through Westminster. At the end of the day the British Government has agreed a deal.

“The problem is that the British Parliament can’t get it past their own Parliament, that’s where the hold-up is. It remains to be seen exactly how that impasse will be resolved.”

DCU Brexit Institute were contacted but refused to give a comment.

Ian Brennan

Image Credit: Flickr

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Clontarf man pleads guilty to burglary and car theft

A man has pleaded guilty to 31 counts of burglary at a number of homes in the Clontarf area, where various cars were stolen.

Kevin Coughlan of Clontarf admitted to each robbery and stated that he was responsible for the car thefts that had taken place from May 2016 to October 2017.

A total of 14 cars were stolen by the accused, three of which have been recovered by Gardai. Coughlan stole a number of laptops and two engagement rings during the burglaries.

The final car that had been stolen, belonging to Patricia Moran of Clontarf, was spotted a number of weeks after the incident and caught on CCTV footage.

A number of perpetrators were also caught on the footage and Coughlan was then identified to Gardai. 

Gardai in Clontarf then issued a search warrant for the home in which Coughlan was staying in although it was not his own home.

The warrant was executed and on October 4th 2017, Coughlan was contacted by Gardai and by October 9th if that year he presented himself to them.

Gardai have said that he was cooperative and compliant, showing no difficulty towards them when being interviewed and during arrest.

A number of the stolen items have also been recovered by both Gardai in Clontarf and Swords.

Coughlan is yet to be sentenced.

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#BREAKING: Man hospitalised after Drogheda shooting

A man in his 30’s has been rushed to hospital after a shooting in Drogheda this afternoon.

The shooting occurred in the M1 Retail Park, in Mell shortly before 3pm, with several shots reported to have been fired.

The man was transferred to the nearby Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, he is in a critical condition and is believed to have suffered a gun shot wound to the neck.

A section of the car park, where the drive-by shooting occurred, in the M1 Retail Park, has been sealed off by Gardai with an investigation now underway.

 Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Drogheda Garda Station on 041 9874200.

By Gerard Grimes

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Protest supports terminally ill midwife’s battle against HSE

A protest was held outside the Dail today for terminally ill midwife Philomena Canning who has battled the HSE since 2014.

Ms Canning is suing the HSE over what she considers a serious injustice. Her indemnity insurance was cancelled without notice in 2014 when two cases involving safety risk had come to the attention of the HSE.

The case has dragged on since 2015, despite Ms Canning’s persistence to have it brought to court. She was forced to sell her home because she couldn’t make repayments. Last year, she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, which has now become terminal.

She believes that her only hope is access to the immunotherapy drug, Pembro. It costs €6,000 per treatment and now she wants the case settled so she can access money for the drug that may help prolong her life.

 

“I had her for my three home births, she was amazing. Philomena is the kind of lady who wouldn’t ask or accept a settlement unless she felt that she had no other option now”, said Jane McLoughlin outside the Dail today.

One of the cases involved a post-partum haemorrhage, a loss of blood soon after childbirth. The news was a major shock to Ms Canning as neither of the two mothers had complained.

Both mothers only became aware that the midwife was under investigation when they were informed months later. At the time of the suspension, she had up to 30 expectant mothers at different stages of pregnancy

Ms Canning’s practice was never referred to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, which investigates capability to practice. The systems analysis was carried out by an administrator and physiotherapist. It was overseen by the official who had suspended Ms Canning.

A settlement was offered in 2015 but she rejected it. “I wanted money to compensate me for my loss of earnings but it would be known publicly what they did in my case”, Ms Canning said.

“I believe a serious safety incident was covered up here for which I was to be blamed”, she added. The HSE has not conceded liability in the case Philomena Canning is bringing against it.

Sinn Fein politician Louise O’Reilly pleaded with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Dail today to intervene on the grounds of compassion. “She does not want to spend the last days of her life battling with the HSE”, she said.

“The information I have is that a settlement has been offered” the Taoiseach said. When contacted over the phone, the Department of Health would not give comment.

By Clara Caslin

Image Credit: Clara Caslin

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The Four at Four

  1. #BREXIT: In a speech to the House of Commons, UK Prime Minister Theresa May has stated the government  will continue with a no deal “if we have to”. May also raised the possibility of extending Article 50 until the end of June if the house was unable to agree on a Brexit deal. Last night, Jeremy Corbyn voiced his support for a second referendum if Britain was faced with a no deal exit.
  2. #DIVORCE: A referendum on the constitutional restrictions of divorce is to be held in 2020. Currently, divorce laws in Ireland permit that spouses wishing for divorce must have lived a part for the past four years.
  3. #SHOOTING: Gardaí have arrived at the scene of a suspected shooting in Drogheda, Co. Louth. The alleged shooting occurred at the M1 Retail Park just after 3pm. Micheal O’Toole of the Irish Daily Star has tweeted that one person has been injured, but the victim is still alive.
  4. #ISLAMICTERROR: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said Ireland will not revoke citizenship of former extremists who left the country to fight for terror groups such as Isil. Varadkar’s comments come after the UK’s decision to revoke the citizenship of Shamima Begum, who left the UK at fifteen years old to join Isil. The Independent reported that Varadkar stated, “I think it’s bad practice to revoke somebody’s citizenship and render them stateless and leave them to be somebody’s else’s problem”.

By Aoibhin Bryant

Image Credit: Clipart library

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Gardai search for culprits of 800-year-old decapitated mummy

Gardai are searching for the culprits who decapitated an 800-year-old mummy known as The Crusader, after they broke into a crypt in St. Michan’s Church in Dublin, before fleeing with the head.

A tour guide made the discovery shortly before lunchtime as they were opening the church for visitors on Monday afternoon.

The incident is believed to have happened between 7pm on Saturday 23rd and 8am on Sunday 24th.

The body of a nun, in the crypt for over 300 years, was also vandalised, with her head being turned around. A separate skull to that of The Crusader is also missing.

St. Michan’s is one of the oldest parishes in Dublin, having being established in 1095. The church is a popular tourist attraction due to the underground vaults housing preserved bodies.

 “Visitor numbers last year were about 26,000 – 27,000 people, quite considerable for a small little church.”

“The revenue alone helps the parish tick over. I’m not really worried about the revenue, I’m more worried about the desecration that’s happened. I’m just so saddened,” The Church of Ireland’s Archdeacon for Dublin, the Venerable David Pierpoint, told RTE’s LiveLine.

The vault vandalised at the weekend contained the remains of mathematician William Rowan Hamilton.

There will be a parish meeting to decide if the vaults will be reopened, with opening just for services and people just visiting the church itself, a possibility.

This is not the first time St. Michan’s has been vandalised, with mummified human remains previously destroyed in July 1996.

Around forty corpses were taken from sealed coffins and piled as the vandals looked for valuables in the vaults.

A further forty corpses and coffins were irreparably damaged by water used by the fire brigade to put out the blaze that had been started.

By Gerard Grimes

Image Credit: Metro News

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The taming of the Beast from the East

Average February temperatures increased by over two degrees Celsius across Ireland between 2018 and 2019, according to Met Éireann data.

However, the 2019 temperatures are only a 0.15 degrees Celsius rise on the average temperature for February 2017. Late February and March of last year were ravaged by Storm Emma and the Beast from the East, a stark contrast to the warm temperatures of late.

“Scientifically, at this point, it is difficult to directly attribute this year’s mild temperatures to anthropogenic/man-made climate change,” said Barry O’Dwyer, lead researcher of climate change and adaptation in University College Cork.

“It is consistent with what we would expect in terms of Ireland’s changing climate.  Temperatures in Ireland have increased by almost a degree on average over the last century and this is in line with global temperature increases.”

The researcher said that projections indicate these changes will continue and future years will show similar above average temperatures.

Yesterday was the warmest day ever recorded in February or any winter month in the UK. A town in Wales had the highest temperature of 20.6 degrees Celsius. The highest temperatures on 25 February in Ireland was 17.3 degrees Celsius in Roscommon.

Last February, lowest temperatures were recorded at -7 degrees Celsius in Cork airport on the night of 28 February.

Memorable events from this time of weather flux include the looting and destruction of Jobstown Lidl in Tallaght by a stolen JCB on 2 March and the empty supermarket shelves cleared of bread.

By Orla Dwyer

Image Credit: Orla Dwyer

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Almost 30,000 cigarettes seized at Dublin Airport

Cigarettes and tobacco with a retail value of €20,000 were seized at Dublin Airport yesterday.

Revenue officers seized 29,400 cigarettes and 3kgs of tobacco when they stopped a passenger arriving from a flight from Abu Dhabi.

The tobacco products seized were branded ‘Chesterfield’, ‘Pall Mall’, ‘Marlboro Gold’ and ‘Amber Leaf’ and represent a potential loss of €14,000 to the Exchequer.

A 34-year-old Lithuanian man was arrested and appeared before Judge Dermot Simms in the Dublin Metropolitan District Court on the same day.

He is to be remanded in custody to Cloverhill until Friday next, 1 March, when he will next appear before the court.

A total of 5,237 seizures and detections of tobacco were recordecd in 2018, according to the Revenue’s Headline Results for the year.

The 2018 report, which give preliminary reports for the year, show that €42.21m in tobacco was seized last year.

By Gerard Grimes

Image Credit: Revenue

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May sets out key dates before Brexit deadline day

Theresa May has put forward three dates as part of the next stage before the Brexit deadline on March 29th, in a statement to the House of Commons today.

A vote will be held on March 12th to leave with a deal. If this vote is rejected by her government a second vote will be held the next day on whether the House would accept leaving the EU with a no-deal.

A third vote will go ahead should the British Parliament refuse to leave with a no-deal, on the 14th of March on whether the Brexit deal should be delayed.

“So the United Kingdom will only leave without a deal on 29 March if there is explicit consent in this House for that outcome,” May told the House.

May also stated that if Article 50 be delayed beyond the end of June then the UK would need to take part in EU elections, saying, “What kind of message would that send to the more than 17 million people who voted to leave the EU nearly three years ago now?”

May finished off her speech by stating that the UK would have to either leave the EU with a deal, leave the EU with no deal, or not leave the EU at all.

In the wake of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn supporting a second Brexit Referendum, May called out the opposition party for going against the will of the people, saying that a second referendum would be divisive and send the country back to square one.

While a no-deal is now very unlikely, May believes her Government could make one work. “I believe that, if we have to, we will ultimately make a success of a no deal,” May said.

Corbyn responded that Labour has a credible plan that could “Bring the country together, provide certainty and protect jobs and industry.”

The leader of the Labour party also claimed that The Tories want to weaken worker’s rights with this deal, saying what May promised on workers’ rights was “way short of dynamic alignment.”

Chair of the Home Affair’s Committee Yvette Cooper joined Corbyn in criticising May for promising votes to happen and then pulling them. May had promised votes for December, January and February, with only the January vote happening, which was comprehensively defeated. 

Theresa May addressed Jeremy Corbyn’s announcement yesterday that The Labour Party would support a second referendum.

“He (Corbyn) has gone back on his promise to respect the referendum result and now wants to hold a divisive second referendum, that would take our country right back to square one.” the Prime Minister said.

The Journal took to the streets of Dublin and asked what they thought of a second Brexit referendum.


By Ian Brennan

Image Credit: Hiiraan Online

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LEADERS’ QUESTIONS LIVEBLOG: Clodagh Hawe and MetroLink

2:36pm:

Leaders’ Questions has been concluded.

2:34pm:

Deputy Ryan asks to stop scoring political points, Ryan says he fought hard for his transport policies while in government.

Ceann Comharile quells the uproar.

“Would you ever shut up once, yeah?” says Fine Gael Fergus O’Dowd

2:32pm:

Varadkar says the Green Party has a poor record in implementing transport plans.

“There is a public consultation underway on both Bus Connects and MetroLink”.

Varadkar is determined to see these projects through.

2:30pm:

Deputy Eamon Ryan of the Green Party says there are three options for MetroLink:

  • either connect to the green line.
  • Connect to Rathfarnam and Tallaght, an area of Dublin lacking transport services.
  • Or connect it to UCD and Sandymount.

Ryan pleads to not abandon the southside of the city. And whatever happens on the southside, do not delay the northside.

“We fundamentally stand with bus connects, our transport emissions will increase by 30 per cent when we need to decrease”.

2:26pm:

Howlin: “Where stands Metro now? Is it the original, is it modified?”

“We always seem to plan but never deliver”.

Varadkar says is impossible to cost MetroLink at this stage, but will be a multi billion investment.

“Public consultation is under way”.

2:23pm:

Taoiseach Varadkar mentions how many of his constituents from Dublin West spend 2 hours on the bus every day.

Varadkar wants to implement project Ireland 2040, hoping to grow areas out of Dublin in order to solve congestion.

“I doubt anyone regrets the Luas is built now” Varadkar refers back to how many protested against the extension of the green line.

The MetroLink will disrupt sports centres and parking spaces.

Deputy is asked to stop yelling by Ceann Comhairle.

2:20pm:

“As Minister for Justice has indictated, he is very welcome to receive a submission from the family”.

Deputy Brendan Howlin for Labour raises the anxiety around the two major transport projects, MetroLink and Bus Connects.

“123 years ago Glasgow opened its first subway, we are still planning our own”.

Minister for Transport has seemed to distance himself from Bus Connects, according to Howlin.

“Will the government provide for a full and complete debate in this house to test its plan for transport provisions?”

2:17pm:

Deputy MacDonald wants each of the statutory organisations to not only be horrified but to learn “why, so we can take preventative action”.

MacDonald is told that time is up.

2:15pm:

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says that the Gardai can learn from awful cases “such as this”.

The Gardaí are carrying out a review on domestic violence homicide.

2:12pm:

Deputy Mary Lou MacDonald also mentions the “heartbreaking story” of Clodagh Hawes’ murder.

“They need answers to questions surrounding Clodagh and her sons’ murder”.

“Domestic homicide reviews take a multi-agency approach. Bodies such as Woman’s Aid have long advocated for the introduction of these reviews in Ireland”.

MacDonald asks if the Minister for Justice will meet with the family to discuss the matter.

2:10pm:

Martin says many valid points were made last night, that it was too easy in cases of familicide to throw a blanket over cases, blaming it on depression psychosis.

Martin asks to commission research into familicide in Ireland.

Varadkar responds that the budget for National Suicide Office has doubled.

2:05pm:

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says the murder of Clodagh and her three sons was beyond “anyone’s worst nightmares”.

“We cannot imagine their pain, very little we can say or do here to ease their grief and suffering”.

Varadkar says laws have been made already, highlighting the Domestic Violence Act that passed in 2018.

“The family have asked us to review the succession and coroners act”.

2:00pm:

Deputy Míchael Martin brings up Clodagh Hawe’s story on Claire Byrne Live last night.

“Many questions still remain unanswered, for far too long”.

“There are serious child protection issues at stake, profound issues relating to mental health and psychiatry”.

Martin says there are clearly lessons to be learnt from the murder.

Martin puts a question to the government if another inquiry will be commissioned.

1:58pm:

Leo Varadkar makes his way down the steps to his seat.

Mary Lou MacDonald and Míchael Martin enter the chamber.

Leaders questions are set to begin soon. Brexit will undoubtedly be a hot topic, as well as VAT tax.

Aoibhín Bryant

Featured

LIVEBLOG: NO DEAL

Theresa May: 

“We gave made a clear and firm commitment from this government that we will bring those votes to the house. The decision will not be entirely ours, it will be the decision of the other 27 states in the European Union”.

Yvette Cooper:

“Will the government argue for no deal or argue for extension?”

Theresa May:

“Being no majority, have to face up to the fact that either he must vote to remain in the European Union, which betrays the trust of the British people or vote for our deal”.

“There is no majority in this house in favour of leaving the European Union with no deal, whether its March, June or October”.

“If we are going to have an extension to Article 50, what does the Prime Minister intend?”

Theresa May:

“Because we are taking this time to negotiate the changes required by this house”.

“We are in talks with the European Union, and we are talking about the issues this house requires”.

“If he wants to end uncertainty and deal with the issues he raised in his response, then he should vote for a deal. Simples”

Jeremy Corbyn:

“The Prime Minister has promised a vote in December, January, February and now March. She has only managed to put a vote once, when it was comprehensibly defeated.”

There is a real life consequences of Prime Minister’s cynical tactics, factories are relocating abroad, investments being lost. Thousands are fearing for the worst. This responsibility relies exclusively on the pm and her government SHAMBOLIC handling”.

Theresa May: 

The PM has stated that the house will “make a success of a no deal”.

She has presented the House with three options, with a vote on the deal on the March 12th at the latest. If that vote is defeated, on the 13th of March, she will table a motion “asking this house if it supports withdrawing from the EU on the basis of a no deal”

If that motion is defeated, on the 14th the government will bring forward a motion to extend Article 50.

By Aoibhin Bryant

Image Credit: Flickr

Featured

Former Dublin tenement residents recall the rare old times

People who used to live in Dublin’s tenements were invited to share their memories in a former tenement building on Tuesday 26 February.

The event is part of 16 in total being held from January to April by the team of historians and guides at 14 Henrietta Street museum, a former tenement building. These discussions with former residents and their families will later be included in an oral history project.

“Rather than collecting objects, we want to collect intangible things like peoples’ stories and memories,” said Head of Engagement at Dublin City Council Culture Company Aalia Kamal.

People are invited to these events over the next few months to sit down and discuss their memories of the tenements with historians and guides at the museum and around the city. Events are being held in Ballymun, Finglas, Drimnagh and Darndale among others.

“We are trying to have relaxed and open conversations with people and we are recording peoples’ voices and their memories,” said Kamal. 

“Every conversation you have, it illuminates the place in a different way and adds value,” said Kamal.

There is no end date for the project but the informal discussions will finish on April 30th. Each event has seen an average of 20 to 25 attendees depending on the day and location. Within the first half hour of event at 14 Henrietta Street, seven people had come in to tell their stories.

“The word sort of got out a bit and people have been great in coming along or approaching us on the phone line,” said Kamal.

The phone line is especially important because a lot of people are elderly and may not be able to make it out to the events around the city. The museum workers ensure that people know exactly what the project is and where their memories will be shared.

The building dates from the 1720s on Henrietta Street in Dublin’s North Inner City. 100 people were living in 16 rooms in the building at its peak. Families continued living in the building until the late 1970s.

14 Henrietta Street took 10 years and €4.5 million to restore before the museum opened up last year.

For more details on the oral history project, visit www.14henriettastreet.ie.

By Orla Dwyer

Image credit: Dan Butler

Featured

Brendan Rodgers Looks Set to Swap Celtic for Leicester

Brendan Rodgers looks set to become the new Leicester City manager.

Celtic have given permission for Rodgers to speak to Leicester.

“Brendan has indicated to the club that this is an opportunity he wishes to investigate further and therefore, very reluctantly, the Club has granted him permission to speak to Leicester City,” read a statement on Celtic’s official website.

Talks of the move began after Claude Puel was sacked from Leicester following the clubs 4-1 defeat to Crystal Palace on Saturday.

The results of this loss leaves the club 12th in the Premier League.

The Celtic manager is said to move to Leicester along with Chris Davies and Kolo Toure.

Former Celtic and Hibernian manager Neil Lennon is said to take charge of Celtic until the end of the season.

Leicester City have pursued the move in order to make Rodgers their new manager with immediate effect.

Rodgers has had great success with Celtic since 2016, the club has 22 consecutive cup tie victories and it is the first time in thirty years that Celtic lifted the league cup for 3 seasons in a row.

By Nicole Cassidy

Featured

The 11 at 11

  1. #CLODAGH HAWE: The family of Clodagh Hawe have called for a new and full inquiry into the murder of Clodagh and her three children by her husband in 2016. Mary Coll and Jaqueline Connolly, the mother and sister of Clodagh appeared on Claire Byrne Live last night where they opened up about their heartbreak and the questions that remain.
  2. #BREXIT: British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has said they are prepared to back a second referendum on the UK’s decision to leave the European Union if their withdrawal plan is rejected this week. Meanwhile, Minister Margot James has threatened to resign from government if Theresa May fails to rule out a no deal Brexit.
  3. #CORK: A body of a man in his 50s has been found in a house on the southside of Cork city. Gardai have initiated an investigation into the death where the man was pronounced dead at scene. Gardaí have stated they are keeping an “open mind” in regards to cause of death.   
  4. #BORDER: The US House of Representatives is to vote today in an effort to halt Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to build a wall on the US-Mexico border. Democrats have come forward, stating that the declaration if unconstitutional and will use a provision in the National Emergency Act to terminate the president’s efforts.
  5. #BRENDANROGERS: Football manager Brendan Rogers is in talks to become Leicester’s new manager following the dismissal of Calude Puel on Sunday. Rogers is set to leave while Celtic is eight points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership. Puel was sacked after Leicesters 4-1 home defeat to Crystal Place.
  6. #ICELAND: Missing Icelandic man, Jon Jonsson, reportedly lost €4000 in a poker game the night before he went missing, according to a report from the Independent.ie. Jonsson, aged 41 has been missing since the 8th of February.More than 50 people have volunteered to search for him.
  7. #VATICAN: Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican treasuer, has been found guilty of child sexual assault. The decision was made in a Melbourne court on the 11th of December but due to a suppression order, could only be reported on now. Pell has been charged with five cases of child sexual abuse. Pope Francis has yet to comment on the verdict.
  8. #DÁIL: The Parliamentary Budget Office has found that a no deal Brexit could push the government’s budget into the red for another five years. The risks of a no-deal Brexit could be worse due to the Budget 2019’s assumption that there would be little trade friction between the UK and the EU. Employment, company profits and and consumption would hit below predicted forecast in the case of a no deal Brexit.
  9. #CHAGOSISLANDS: The United Nation’s highest court has ruled that the United Kingdom is illegally occupying the Chagos Islands. Judges at the International Court at the Hague have said that Britain must ends its administration “as rapidly as possible”. This advisory opinion is not legally binding.
  10. #SHARPOBJECTS: A woman has been attacked with scissors in a Centra in Dublin. A video of the gorey incident was posted on social media. The attacker then threw a pineapple at the woman as she lied on the ground.
  11. #BEACHBABY: Trip Advisor have announced the top 10 Irish beaches for 2019. Inchydoney in West Cork has taken the top spot, but Kerry proves victorious with six beaches making an appearance in the top 10 list. All beaches were on the west coast except for Portmarnock beach in Co. Dublin.

By Aoibhin Bryant

Featured

Family give emotional statements about missing person Jón Jonsson

Fiancé of missing person Jón Jonsson spoke about of how he is a good man and is “like a father” to her two children.

Jonsson who disappeared on February 9th at 11am, is originally from Iceland and was on holiday in Ireland with his fiancé Jana Guðjónsdóttir when he went missing the day after he arrived.

“This is really out of character,” said Jón’s sister Anna who added that “people would expect me to disappear not him.”

He is 41 years old, 6 ft with short brown hair and was wearing a black padded jacket while walking in the Whitehall where he “was last seen on camera at the hospitals” in the nearby area, according to Jana.

He is known as a loving father to two girls aged 14 and 16 and was waiting to get his license to become a taxi driver.

His family arrived in Ireland on February 12th and have set up the gmail account findjonindublin@gmail.com  where people can contact them and help with the search. Around half a dozen volunteers from Dublin have contacted the family to help with the search and are handing out Missing Person fliers.

Jón’s other sister, Thorunn, posted an emotional statement on Facebook describing Jón after she received messages from many people stating that the public needed to know more about her brother.

When I graduated from college he bought me my graduation dress because I couldn’t afford one,” she said.

“The police have been looking for him, but they have so little evidence,” said Jana who stated that “dogs, a helicopter and CCTV footage” have been used by the Gardai to try and find Jonsson who has been missing for just over a week.

Gardai confirmed there are no further updates on the search.

Trump in Trouble

Trump Administration sued by 16 States for declaring a National Emergency to fund the Mexican border wall 

Image credit: Kayla Velasque via Unsplash

Donald Trump’s government is being sued by 16 U.S. states for declaring a ‘’fabricated’’ National Emergency to fund to fund the Mexico border wall. 

President Trump filed a lawsuit on Monday in a Californian district court, in order to bypass Congress after he was refused the $5.7 billion needed for the wall promised in his election campaign.  

The lawsuit contradicts the U.S. Constitution which defines Congress as the final arbiter of public funds and some of Trumps own party have warned that the move could spur an influx of future presidents calling on the act whenever they fail to get their way with Congress. 

California has led the way in this case along with 15 other states including New York, Oregon, Hawaii, Virginia and New Mexico. 

Catherine Connolly, U.S. foreign policy specialist of the DCU school of Law and Government said, 

‘’While the case might be successful in California, which is where he filed the suit, it’s very likely that the case will end up going to the Supreme Court.’’ 

‘’Because Trump has framed the building of the border wall as a national security issue, that could work in his favour. If it reaches the supreme court, which I imagine it probably will, it could very well go in Trump’s favour. Of course, we can’t say for sure what will happen, but given past history on national security questions, generally the court will give deference to the President’’. 

‘’On the national emergency question itself, the idea that there is a national emergency in terms of the Southern border is essentially fabricated. Numbers of people apprehended at the Southern border are at their lowest since 1971 I believe, so it’s essentially a manufactured crisis of unlawful immigration. The President can declare an emergency, but he can’t create one.’’   

Connolly maintained that the only other way to stop the national emergency and the appropriation of funds would be for Congress to pass a vote of joint resolution. 

However, the President could potentially still veto this, 

‘’If every democrat was to vote to end the national emergency declaration, they’d still need four republicans to vote with them, but the President can veto this.’’  

As well as draining $6.6 billion from mainly the Defence Department budget, the Mexican border wall that Trump is proposing will have potentially catastrophic effects on species such as the already endangered Mexican grey wolf and the jaguar.

By Marianne Foody.

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