THE IRISH EMIGRANT
July 7, 2008 :: Issue No.1,118
The free news service for the global Irish community
Editor: Liam Ferrie :: Copyright 2008 Irish Emigrant Ltd
It was another week dominated by the economy and all the news was bad. The most serious issues were the shortfall in tax income and the growing numbers of people being put out of work.
There was good economic news for a few as a 16-strong syndicate from Co. Carlow shared a Lotto jackpot of almost €19m. Later a Euromillions ticket bought in Co. Tipperary won €15m, but the holder either isn't aware of his or her good fortune or is lying low, more likely the latter.
New laws that affect motorists came into force on Tuesday. No longer can a learner driver drive unaccompanied and the purchasers of new cars will pay VRT based on the CO2 emissions of the vehicle. Road tax rates will also be determined by the level of emissions.
The discovery of toxic waste on the site of the old Irish Steel plant on Haulbowline remains a major issue for those living in the surrounding area, despite the assurances given by Green Party leader and Minister for the Environment John Gormley.
From bad to worse
Following last week's gloomy economic forecast from the ESRI, we had more negative news this week. First it was the Exchequer returns which were every bit as bad as predicted. Later unemployment statistics seemed to catch everyone on the hop as no one had suggested that the increase in the number out of work would be the largest on record.
On Wednesday the Government announced a shortfall in tax income for the first half of the year of 7%, or €1.45bn, just short of the €1.5bn that was being predicted by analysts earlier in the day. While income tax held up reasonably well, there were major deficits in VAT, stamp duty and capital gains tax. Government spending was €205m lower than budgeted.
Speaking after the publication of the figures, Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan said that the Government now expected the economy to grow by just 0.5% this year, compared with the original budget forecast of 2.8%. He anticipates that the tax shortfall for the full year will be €3bn and is now forecasting a budget deficit of €5.2bn. Brian Cowen, as finance minister, had constructed his Budget based on a deficit of €1.8bn. In an attempt to put the situation in context the Minister noted that economic output this year will be 30% up on 2002.
Just over 19,000 people lost their jobs in June, bringing the total number on the Live Register to 220,811. Seasonally adjusted the increase was 10,100, the highest ever recorded in a single month. The difference between the actual figure and the seasonally adjusted figure is largely accounted for by temporary staff within the education sector who have been let go for the summer. The standardised unemployment rate is now 5.7%.
We were frequently reminded that more people on the Live Register means more money paid out in unemployment benefit and other welfare payments, putting yet more pressure on the Government's diminishing finances. Just what the Government will do in response to this economic downturn will be revealed on Tuesday.
Other data published during the week confirmed the problems facing the economy. On Monday the Central Statistics Office revealed that Gross Domestic Product in the first quarter fell by 1.5% compared to the same period a year earlier. The main problem was in the building and construction sector, with new house completions down by 30%. Manufacturing output was also down.
Thursday's decision by the European Central Bank to raise interest rates was seen as unhelpful. While some economists agreed that it might eventually have its desired objective, others felt that the bank members acted because they felt they had to be seen to do something in response to the problem of growing inflation. In the short term it is likely to push it up, as the first thing to be hit will be mortgage repayments.
The Dublin Stock Exchange lost 3.65% of its value on Wednesday when the the ISEQ index fell below the 5000 mark for the first time in four years. Over the week the index lost more than 8% and closed at 4863.23.
Amidst all the debate of what needs to be done and what can be done to turn the economy around, talks aimed at reaching a new national pay deal seem to be going nowhere. At a meeting on Monday both employers and unions maintained their stance that mandatory union recognition, or the absence of it, was a make or break issue in the negotiations. The unions also made it known that a pay freeze, even in the current economic climate, was a non-runner. Nevertheless the talks continued and there was at least one other meeting which took place on Friday. There was no indication that the sides had come any closer together at that session. It is now anticipated that Government officials will be in contact with both sides over the next two weeks, after which a decision will be made on whether there is any point in proceeding.
In the current climate it was hardly necessary for IIB Bank and the ESRI to conduct a survey to find that their Consumer Sentiment Index was at an all-time low in June. At 42.2, it had fallen 6.6 points since May and is around half the figure of a year earlier.
I could now write as much again about what Opposition politicians had to say about the situation but it could be summed up as an indictment of the Government for squandering the good times of recent years. Government spokespersons had less to say and those that did comment were at pains to explain that the picture is not nearly as black as is being painted.
Recession holds no fears for some
Huge lottery prizes made news twice during the week, first when Carlow found itself with 16 new millionaires and later when it was learned that the Euromillions jackpot of €15m was bound for Co. Tipperary.
The winning ticket in last Saturday's record Lottery payout of €18.96m was held by a syndicate of 16 employees of Carlow concrete products company Dan Morrissey Ltd in Bennekerry. Each member of the syndicate received €1,184,215.06 after they turned up in force to collect the winning cheque on Tuesday. A day earlier they weren't sure when they would collect it as they wanted everyone to be present, but one member of the syndicate, Audrey Kearns – the only woman - was in Calgary. As soon as she heard the news she caught the next plane home, having spent just eight hours in Canada.
Audrey's father Pat and her uncle, Tommy Kearns, were also members of the syndicate. Others with more than one family member becoming a millionaire were John Doyle and his son Aaron, at 22 the youngest of the group, and brothers Michael and Brendan Morrissey. All plan to remain in their jobs after taking a short holiday.
On Friday the trans-Europe lottery had a jackpot of €15m and the single winning ticket was sold on that day in the Abbey Stores in Carrickbeg, Carrick-on-Suir. There is no indication as to who the winner might be but it was noted that a number of guests attending a wedding in a nearby church came in to buy tickets during the day.
July legal changes affect motorists
From midnight on Monday all drivers holding provisional licences, now known as learner permits, must be accompanied by a qualified driver with at least two years' experience. Until now learners holding a provisional licence for six months could drive on their own, and traditionally gardaí turned a blind eye to any learner who was unaccompanied unless another offence had been committed. Other changes in the pipeline will restrict learners to reduced speeds and car horsepower. Learners and those who have recently passed their test will receive additional penalty points for breaches of the Road Traffic Act.
Changes to Vehicle Registration Tax, announced in the December Budget, also came into effect on Tuesday. The VRT rate on all new vehicles is now based on CO2 emissions. At the top level a 36% rate will apply, while cars with the lowest emissions will attract a rate of 14%. These same vehicles will be subject to new emissions-based road tax rates. These range from €100 to €2,000 per annum.
Dún Laoghaire is the first town in the country to take a practical interest in promoting the use of electric cars. Last week it put on display prototype chargers and electric cars while it finalises plans for positioning four charging units.
Toxic waste concerns unabated in Cork
Minister for the Environment John Gormley's assurances that the toxic waste on Haulbowline is being managed properly and does not present a health hazard, failed to reassure locals. The presence of chromium six in a waste dump at the old Irish Steel plant on the island prompted local radio station Red FM to contact Erin Brockovich, who gave her view on the airwaves. Ms Brockovich became famous for highlighting the presence of chromium six in drinking water in a southern Californian town and for pursuing the utility company responsible. She told the people of Cork to pursue the government and all responsible until they are satisfied with the answers being given.
Whether taking her advice or not there were those, including politicians, who ensured that the matter remained in the news. At the weekend there was further concern when it was claimed that high tides and gale force winds caused some of the waste to enter the sea.
By now there are parents who are refusing to allow their children to enter the sea or go out sailing.
It was also reported during the week that the incidence of cancer in nearby Cobh is considerably above the national average. This generated many questions but experts tried to calm things down by saying that deprived areas, and Cobh apparently falls into this category, generally have higher cancer rates. They also said that there would need to be a cluster of a particular type of cancer before a link could be made to the environment. Studies are now underway to establish if there might be a link.
This week on our website
Bits and Pieces
Viking longship on return journey to Denmark
The replica Viking longship which sailed from Denmark to Dublin last summer is now on its return journey with a crew of 65. The Sea Stallion of Glendalough, which has spent almost a year on display at the National Museum in Collins Barracks, last Sunday sailed down the Liffey, commencing a 2,200km journey that will take it round the south coast of England. To reach Ireland the vessel was sailed via the north coast of Scotland. The "Havhingsten fra Glendalough" (Sea Stallion from Glendalough) is a replica of a vessel excavated in 1962 which, according to tests, was made in 1040 from Irish oak grown near Dublin.
More than 10% of population are immigrants
On Monday the Central Statistics Office released data from the 2006 census which shows that more than 10% of the population are non-Irish nationals. The largest group are from Britain, with 112,548, followed by Poles (63,276), Lithuanians (24,628), Nigerians (16,300) and Latvians (13,319). While the report reveals that people from 188 countries are living in Ireland it focuses on the top ten, which also includes US citizens (12,475), Chinese, Germans, Filipinos and French, by looking at age, education, marital status, living arrangements, location in Ireland, length of time here and other data.
Minor restrictions on drink advertising
New restrictions on the advertising of alcoholic drinks came into effect on Tuesday but probably the only one with any significance is a ban on such advertising during televised sports programmes. The aim is to restrict the exposure of young people to alcohol advertising. Among its other measures are a ban on alcohol advertising during breakfast-time television, and in programmes where more than 25% of the audience is under 18.
James Doorly, assistant director of the National Youth Council, accused the Government of just "tinkering" with what were industry agreed guidelines. He described it as "merely a PR exercise designed to give the impression that action is being taken". The Irish Times notes that more restrictive rules were proposed but in the end these were watered down as the Government negotiated a voluntary code of practice with the alcohol industry and the advertising industry. Organisations such as the NYC were not consulted.
The Drinks Industry Group of Ireland claims it will find it very challenging to abide by the new rules.
Why walk for five minutes when you can drive in 15?
It takes two minutes to cycle or five minutes to walk between Limerick County Council's two offices in the Dooradoyle area of Limerick city. It seems, however, that staff prefer to drive although, because of traffic congestion, this option can take 15 minutes. In an effort to persuade staff to abandon their cars the council is now offering bicycles, as well as helmets and high visibility jackets, to those willing to cycle while those who are prepared to walk can have an umbrella.
Sophie Toscan du Plantier's body exhumed
In France on Tuesday the authorities again exhumed the body of filmmaker Sophie Toscan du Plantier (39), who was murdered near her home outside Schull in west Cork in December 1996. The investigating judge who ordered the exhumation insists that he is precluded from giving his reasons. There is, however, widespread speculation in the media that further DNA evidence is being sought. No one has ever been charged with the murder.
The story was the lead in Wednesday's editions of the Irish Examiner and the Irish Independent. Both referred to Ian Bailey who has acknowledged that gardaí suspect him of the murder but who insists he is innocent.
Increased cost of Lansdowne Road described as bizarre
Fine Gael spokeswoman on sport Olivia Mitchell has described as bizarre the omission from the original quotation of such amenities as an underground car park and improved catering facilities at the new Lansdowne Road stadium. Her comments arose after it emerged that the projected cost has risen by €101m, a fact explained by the provision of these additional facilities. In a statement the company formed to develop the stadium said that the original plan had been to find alternative funding mechanisms for these and other facilities.
The cost of the stadium became a political issue when it was revealed that the price tag had risen from €365m to €466m. With the Government making it clear that it would not increase its agreed contribution of €191m, the future of the project was thought to be in doubt. Assurances have, however, been given that the FAI and the IRFU have made arrangements to fund the entire project.
60 take part in Bayer 100-hour mountain challenge
Sixty people this weekend undertook the Bayer 100-hour challenge which saw them attempting to scale 26 mountains in under 100 hours, in support of charity. Fifteen teams of four began their climb at Carrauntuohill in Co. Kerry early on Wednesday and finished yesterday on Errigal in Co. Donegal. Among the organisations taking part in the event were Nike, Bayer, Quinn Direct, AIB, Microsoft and the Defence Forces.
"Give Us the Night" campaign protests at Leinster House
The "Give Us the Night" campaign, protesting about the Government plan to close a loophole which allows a 3:30am closing time for nightclubs, made their presence felt outside Leinster House on Wednesday when several hundred DJs, music promoters and nightclubbers held a noisy gathering. They believe that the later closing time helps to regulate the eruption of people onto the streets, easing problems with taxis and fast food outlets. At the moment the clubs are entitled to apply for the later closing time by obtaining theatre licences.
The Government has also increased, from today, the fees for the special exemption orders which allow pubs to remain open until 2.30am. A three-fold increase, from €100 to €300, will have the twin benefits of increasing revenue to Government and reducing late-night drinking, by reducing the number of exemptions sought. The cost of renewing a pub licence is also to increase, by 35%.
Garda Commissioner calls for community co-operation
Speaking of the feud in Crumlin and Drimnagh which has been linked to ten deaths over the last eight years, Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy has said that the force needs community co-operation to catch the criminals. The Commissioner emphasised the success achieved by such units as the Organised Crime Unit and the Emergency Response Unit, with a total of 410 firearms seized this year but expressed his concern about the escalation of the violence in south Dublin. In a separate report it was suggested that at least some of those involved in the shootings and grenade attack of the previous week have fled the country.
Government broadband policy published
Minister for Communications Éamon Ryan published the Government's next generation broadband policy and has asked for public comment. Key goals are to make broadband available throughout the entire country by the end of next year; to deliver 100mb links to every second-level school in the country; to require all public infrastructure projects to install ducting at the construction phase; and to ensure that new premises install open access fibre connections.
Genealogist drafts Bill to release 1926 Census details
Michael Merrigan, general secretary of the Genealogical Society of Ireland, has drafted a Bill which would see the 1926 Census returns given "special heritage status", thus allowing their release before the statutory 100 years has elapsed. Mr Merrigan believes that, since the years between the 1911 and 1926 censuses were of such historical and cultural significance, and since so many returns have been destroyed, it is important that the 1926 returns be made available.
Old AIB documents discovered in landfill
The discovery of old AIB customer documents at a closed landfill site, at Glounthaune near Cork city, received inordinate attention from the Irish Examiner and the RTE newsroom. The documents, which date from the 1970s and were mostly illegible, were uncovered during a controlled excavation of the site which was already under 24-hour security.
This is a follow on from the discovery of medical documents at the same site when excavation work was taking place to prepare for the new Cork-Midleton commuter rail link.
Drug seizures in Finglas, Mallow and Waterford
Garda on Thursday seized 25,000 ecstasy tablets, with an estimated street value of €250k, and 3kgs of herbal cannabis valued at €20,000, when they searched houses in the Finglas area of Dublin. Two men, aged 22 and 47, were arrested and the older man has since appeared in court. Media reports suggest that gardaí were acting against a family involved in extensive drug dealing.
Also on Thursday, gardaí in Mallow discovered a quantity of cocaine and arrested a man in his 30s during the search of a house in the north Cork town. The drugs had an estimated street value of €45k.
A day earlier gardaí in Kilkenny arrested two Indonesian men after seizing cannabis resin to the value of €270k from a vessel at Belview Port, Slieverue. Slamel Widodo and Jantje Pelapelaphon have since been charged in relation to the find.
Former Obama advisor Samantha Power marries in Kerry
Samantha Power, former advisor to US Presidential candidate Barack Obama, married law professor Cass Sunstein at Mary Immaculate Church at Loher, near Waterville in Co. Kerry on Friday. The couple met while working on the Obama campaign in January of this year. Ms Power's uncle and aunt are GPs in Waterville.
A 23-year-old Irish woman gave birth to a daughter while sailing on the cruise ship "Thompson Destiny" on the Mediterranean last Sunday. The ship made straight for the nearest port, Naples, where mother and daughter were said to be doing well in a local hospital. The woman claims not to have known that she was pregnant.
It was announced on Wednesday that the number of gardaí using mountain bikes will increase from 130 to 489. Bicycle patrols will be expanded throughout the Dublin Metropolitan area and will be introduced into Cork, Limerick and Galway over the coming year.
Justice Kevin O'Higgins has been nominated by the Government to the European Court of First Instance, replacing Judge John Cooke who is returning to Ireland. A High Court judge since 1997, Justice O'Higgins will serve a six-year term at the European court.
A single shot was fired but no one was injured when at least two armed robbers held up security staff delivering cash to an ATM on Howth Road in the Dublin suburb of Clontarf on Thursday. The raiders escaped in an SUV-type vehicle with an estimated €170k.
The Irish Times reports that residents of the Limerick suburbs of St Mary's Park, Moyross and Southill are charged an extra €50 to have digital television installed in their homes. The additional fee is to have someone look after the installer's van while he is in the house.
Paddy Costello (51) was wounded in the knee by a shotgun blast as he slept in a chair at his home in Dundalk, in the early hours of Thursday. Gardaí are investigating the possibility that he might have been the victim of mistaken identity.
A 21-year-old man was critically injured when a lone gunman opened fire on him as he sat in his parked car in the Darndale area of Dublin on Friday evening. A child who was in the car at the time was uninjured. Gardaí have since arrested a 24-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman in connection with the incident.
Ireland Today: Rules were made to be broken
In Ireland it is an offence to park a car on a double yellow line at any time of the day or night. Similarly it is an offence to park a car on the pavement, even if two wheels remain on the road. That doesn't stop people ignoring both laws right outside the Garda Station in Galway, as can be seen from the photograph on our website. The garda Station, by the way, is adjacent to what at the time was a half empty car park.
National Lottery Winning Numbers:
Wed: 4, 8, 16, 27, 32, 38 (30) – one winner of jackpot of €2m.
Sat: 6, 11, 19, 35, 36, 38 (42) - jackpot of €2m was not won.
John Hume among humanitarian leaders on Bogside mural
John Hume was recently honoured in his native Derry when he appeared on the latest Bogside mural. The four-part mural also includes Dr Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela. Speaking of his pride at being included in a mural of humanitarian leaders the Nobel Peace Laureate said, "I am truly honoured that the Bogside Artists have decided to depict me alongside some of the most inspirational figures of the past century on this mural. I think it is very significant that this image has been unveiled on the 40th anniversary of the Caledon housing sit-in because for many people that protest saw the start of the civil rights movement".
Canadian jailed for year for air rage incident
Canadian national Michael Roy Shick (40) of Vancouver has been jailed for a year at Antrim Crown Court following his earlier guilty plea to six charges of abusing passengers and crew on board a Zoom Airlines flight from Vancouver to London. Three of the charges related to assault. Shick, whose behaviour was blamed on intoxication through alcohol and drugs, was removed from the aircraft during a scheduled stop at Belfast International in March.
Airlifted to Scotland to give birth
The Irish News reported on Monday on twins who should have been born in Ireland but were born in Scotland instead. A shortage of hospital beds for problem births resulted in west Belfast woman Andrea Hanna being given 45 minutes warning that she was travelling by air ambulance to a maternity unit in Dundee on the east coast of Scotland. Her babies were delivered some hours later, before her partner or any other member of her family could join her in Scotland.
This all happened four weeks ago and the good news is that Andrea and her identical twin sons Lorcan and Ordhran are doing well.
Three jailed for killing Derry musician
Anthony Fahy (20), who pleaded guilty to murdering well-known Derry blues musician James Gilchrist, was jailed for life, with a recommendation that he serve a minimum of 13 years. Fahy, of Northland Avenue in Derry, and two accomplices attacked and robbed the 62-year-old as he cycled home late at night in September 2005. Instead of leaving him lying unconscious, Fahy claimed sole responsibility for pushing Mr Gilchrist into the River Foyle and allowing him to drown.
Justice Séamus Treacy expressed surprise at the prosecution's decision to accept pleas of guilty of manslaughter from Daryl Quigley (21) and Daniel Young (21). They each received ten-year jail sentences.
Hints of change in DUP attitude on devolution of policing
Remarks by First Minister Peter Robinson early in the week were interpreted as a softening of the DUP attitude to the devolution of policing and justice. He seemed to indicate that his party could countenance such a move provided it was assured that responsibility would not go to a Sinn Féin minister. Similarly there is little chance that Sinn Féin will allow the DUP to take control of policing and justice. The issue was discussed privately by Mr Robinson and deputy First Minister at Stormont on Monday.
Murder inquiry launched in Bangor
The PSNI launched a murder investigation after the body of Billy Spence (69) was found in the guesthouse he owned in Bangor, Co. Down at 7:30am on Tuesday. Initial reports suggest that he had been beaten and stabbed. By Sunday the PSNI had announced that a 19-year-old youth had been charged with the murder of Mr Spence. The accused is due to appear in court today.
Man being questioned about six murders in Co. Down in 1994
A 45-year-old man, who was arrested in southeast England early in the week, was questioned for a number of days at Antrim PSNI station about the murder of six people in a bar in Co. Down 14 years ago. In June 1994, UVF gunmen entered O'Toole's Bar in Loughinisland and shot indiscriminately at the mostly nationalist clientele who were watching the Ireland v Italy World Cup match on television. The suspect has since been released without charge.
Report on Omagh fire deaths published
In the North a review has concluded that various official bodies and individuals had failed to share relevant information about Arthur McElhill who last year is believed to have set fire to the family home in Omagh, killing himself, his partner Lorraine McGovern and their five children. The report found in particular that social services were at fault in failing to carry out a risk assessment after the PSNI had informed social workers last September of Mr McElhill's record as a sex offender; he had two convictions for sexual assault, one for burglary and had once attempted suicide. Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has pledged to implement the 63 recommendations contained in the report.
400,000 Northerners hold Irish passports
It was reported during the week that in the ten years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement a total of 402,658 people with Northern addresses applied for Irish passports. This includes people renewing existing passports. The Agreement acknowledged the right of people in the North to hold either Irish or British passports, but in fact Northerners were always entitled to obtain an Irish passport.
British Army responsible for 1996 Derry death
An inquest into the death of Dermot McShane (35), who died when an army Saxon vehicle knocked down a wooden hoarding behind which he was sheltering, found that the army was responsible for the death. Mr McShane died during riots in the Little James' Street area of the city and the inquest jury found that driving procedures were not correctly followed by those in charge of the Saxon.
The Irish News reported that the Public Prosecution Service will not oppose former Sinn Féin publicity director Danny Morrison's latest appeal against his 1991 conviction for false imprisonment. The case is back in the Court of Appeal, having been referred there by the Criminal Cases Review Commission. The reasons for the referral have not been made public.
When the Assembly met at Stormont on Monday the DUP's Iris Robinson was questioned about her controversial remarks on homosexuality. She denied reports that she had suggested that homosexuality was a mental health issue but went on to repeat her assertion that it is an "abomination". She added that psychiatrists could help young people struggling with their sexual identity.
Plans for a waste-to-energy incinerator at Glenavy, Co. Antrim are meeting with the same hostility that proposed incinerators received in the South. Some of those who addressed a public meeting in nearby Crumlin issued all sorts of dire warnings as to what will befall the people living for miles around if the incinerator is built.
Belfast's Sinn Féin Lord Mayor, Tom Hartley, on Tuesday laid a wreath at the war memorial at Belfast City Hall to mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. However the ceremony, during which he was accompanied by a number of his councillor colleagues, took place two hours before the official wreath-laying ceremony which involved the British Army.
The latest Nationwide House Price Survey, which reports an average 4% drop in house prices in the UK, reveals that house prices in the North fell by 18.6% year-on-year in the second quarter, as against 3.4% in the first quarter. Over the course of the year the average price of a house in the North fell from £215k to £183,476.
A drop in orders has prompted a major down-sizing programme at a Co. Down company that makes toughened glass panels, mainly for the transport, construction and furniture sectors. Toughglass of Kilkeel is laying off 60 of its 130-strong workforce.
Taoiseach Brian Cowen, First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness attended the official opening on Wednesday of the new Northern headquarters of RTE in the Centrepoint building in Belfast. For the past 40 years RTE has broadcast from Fanum House, which is now to close.
Garry Meenan (18), from Bishop's Street in Derry, has appeared in court charged with the murder of Emmet Shiels (22), who was shot dead in the Creggan area of the city on June 24. A PSNI officer said that, while he did not believe that Meenan had fired the fatal shot, he was part of the group responsible for the killing. Meenan was remanded in custody.
Yesterday's Orange parade to the church at Drumcree outside Portadown passed off peacefully, as it has for a number of years. Once again, however, the Parades Commission had banned the marchers from returning via the mainly nationalist Garvaghy Road.
Michael Lynn has created a spin-off legal industry
Hardly a week goes by without the courts having to deal with cases involving disgraced and absent solicitor Michael Lynn. On Monday alone two separate hearings took place in the Commercial Court. In one, Permanent TSB was seeking to recover some €8.5m from solicitor Fiona McAleenan on the basis that she had been a partner in the legal practice used by Lynn to obtain loans. The bank appears to accept that her signature had been forged on undertakings relating to the loans but is not allowing that to deter it.
Separately two insurance companies were seeking to have declared void all policies relating to the operation of the legal practice. The insurers allege fraudulent misrepresentation and non-disclosure of material facts when the policies were taken out. To date the two companies have received 250 claims amounting to many millions of euro.
Ennis nears conclusion
The conspiracy case known as the Ennis "hitman trial" is coming to a close. All the evidence has been heard, prosecuting and defence counsel have made their final submissions and Justice Roderick Murphy has started his summing up. He is expected to conclude today and send the jury off to consider their verdict.
Sharon Collins (44), of Ennis, Co. Clare, is charged with attempting to hire Egyptian–born Las Vegas poker dealer Essam Eid (52) to kill her partner, widower PJ Howard, and his two adult sons. Eid is charged with conspiracy to kill and with attempting to extort €100k from the Howards to cancel the contract
During the week Collins took to the witness box and faced stiff cross-examination from prosecuting counsel Una Ní Raifeartaigh SC. Ms Collins denied being the author of emails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org from the email address email@example.com. Ms Ní Raifeartaigh suggested that Collins would be of an age to be familiar with the Eagles song "Lying Eyes" and pointed out that the lyrics were about a young woman moving in with an older man and cheating on him. According to the accused she preferred to listen to Justin Timberlake. Collins was also questioned about a letter sent to the Gerry Ryan Show in which she sought advice claiming her life was "unbearable" as her partner had sex with transvestites and wanted her to work as a prostitute. She agreed that PJ Howard had behaved in this way so it was unclear why Gerry Ryan and at least one of his colleagues had to appear as witnesses to say that they had no recollection of actually seeing the letter.
INLA member jailed for ten years
Danny Hamill (49), originally from Armagh but with an address in Donnycarney, was jailed for 12 years, with two suspended, following his recent guilty plea to the armed robbery of €700k from the AIB branch in Crumlin. The INLA member, and his accomplice who has since jumped bail, were acting on their own behalf when they carried out the robbery. A garda who came on the scene was threatened with a loaded 9mm pistol.
Hamill would probably have had a larger portion of his sentence suspended had he co-operated with gardaí and told them how he came to be in possession of the three keys necessary to open the front door of the bank.
Estranged couple to share proceeds of house
In the High Court on Thursday Justice John Edwards ruled that Marie Sheehy (64) and Thomas Talbot (71) should share equally the proceeds of the sale of their house in Malahide. The court heard that the couple had lived together since 1990 and had moved into the house in 1995. Since that time their relationship had deteriorated and they decided to live apart. However Mr Talbot was claiming a 70-30 split in his favour due to maintenance work he had carried out. His claim was rejected and the court ordered that the property be sold with joint carriage of sale shared between their separate solicitors.
Ideally this should have been the ultimate love story. The couple had been an item for a year in the early 1960s but parted and didn't meet again until 1990 when they were introduced by a mutual friend.
Judge criticises multiple firearms legislation
Justice Peter Charleton, upholding a decision by Sgt Peadar Kearney of Letterkenny to refuse a firearms licence to Ronan McCarron, spoke of the increase in the number of pistols being licensed for private use. Mr McCarron had applied for a licence for a .40 calibre Glock model 22 pistol for target practice, and this had been refused. Justice Charleton quoted figures which showed that between the years 1972 and 2004, only a handful of licences were issued for weapons above .22 calibre. However the policy was relaxed last year, leading to the licensing for private use of some 1,600 pistols.
An action taken by David Gibbons (36), a test case for a number of similar proceedings, has been rejected by the High Court. Gibbons, who was serving an eight-year sentence for robbery, was claiming damages for not being offered legal advice when punished by withdrawal of privileges for having a mobile phone and drugs in his cell.
At a court sitting in Dundalk a 61-year-old man was given an 11-year sentence for the rape of his two daughters when they were aged four and five in the early 1980s. The man, who had an alcohol abuse problem, was earlier this year sentenced to 2.5 years for the sexual assault of three sisters from another family.
Catherine Goad (52) of Ballynacally, Co. Clare has taken a High Court action against the charity Enable Ireland for damages relating to a stress-related illness caused by her workload and conditions. Ms Goad began working for the charity in 2001 and two years later was advised by her GP to remain out of work.
The trial is continuing of former doctor Pascal Carmody (60), of Killaloe, Co. Clare, who is accused of obtaining €80k under false pretences by telling terminally ill cancer patients that they could be cured, or at least their lives could be saved, through photodynamic therapy treatment.
Employment & Industrial Relations
Avocent shedding 57 jobs at Shannon, seven in Dublin
US multinational Avocent is to reduce the workforce at its Shannon facility from 160 to 103 under a restructuring programme. A further seven jobs will be lost with the closure of an office in Dublin. The ICT company is moving some R&D work back to the US and transferring Asian support to its new facility in Singapore.
Coca-Cola plans new €190m Wexford plant
Coca-Cola has submitted a planning application for a new €190m combined flavour manufacturing and innovation facility at Wexford Business Park. It is expected that the facility will create about 60 jobs after a year and over 100 after five years of operation. Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mary Coughlan viewed the decision as "a very strong endorsement of Ireland's attractiveness as a location for strategically important and knowledge-dependent activities from a world leading company". The company has major facilities in Athy and Ballina. Last year it closed its plant in Drogheda, Co. Louth with the loss of 256 jobs.
Pfizer sale failure threatens jobs
The falling through of the proposed sale as a going concern of the Pfizer plant at Little Island in Cork has led to the fear that some 160 jobs may be lost. The pharmaceutical company is also looking for a buyer for its site at Loughbeg, which employs some 300, and this has attracted a number of interested parties. Pfizer still expects to create 100 jobs at a new biologics facility at Shanbally, Co. Cork, as announced in May.
Politics & Politicians
Open Day at Leinster House
Ceann Comhairle John O'Donoghue was the instigator of a new departure at Leinster House last weekend by arranging an open day. He announced his plan a few weeks ago and tickets were snapped up within hours. Initially it was to take place on Sunday but such was the demand that it was decided to extend it to Saturday.
The 8,000 people who had tickets were given a tour of the Dáil chamber and were also provided with a variety of entertainment in the grounds of Leinster House. At different times performances were given by African acrobats, jazz musicians, a Swedish magician, a traditional Irish music group, an Eastern European folk group and circus acts.
Mr O'Donoghue was delighted with what was seen as a very successful venture, although very few of his political colleagues bothered to put in an appearance.
New mayors for Dublin, Wexford, Waterford and Co. Clare
The new Lord Mayor of Dublin is Councillor Eibhlin Byrne of Fianna Fáil. A pact between her party and Labour ensured her election on Monday night. A previous pact under which Fine Gael and Labour rotated the position collapsed when a dissident Fine Gael councillor broke ranks.
Elsewhere Labour Councillors were elected to the post of Mayor in both Wexford and Waterford. Ted Howlin, brother of TD Brendan, is the new mayor of Wexford town and Jack Walsh is mayor of Waterford city.
Councillor Madeleine Taylor-Quinn has been elected Mayor of Co. Clare and becomes the first ever Fine Gael member to chair the council.
FF supports Civil Partnership Bill
In a debate occasioned by a motion from Senator Jim Walsh, that called for the maintaining of the special status of heterosexual marriage within the Constitution, the Fianna Fáil parliamentary party gave broad support to the proposed Civil Partnership Bill. The Bill will give gay and lesbian couples rights over pensions and inheritance, and the issue will now be considered by the party's justice policy committee under Wexford TD Seán Connick.
Row over marine rescue stations continues
The senior civil servant who drew up the report which may lead to the closure of the marine emergency co-ordination stations at Malin Head and Valentia Island, was given a rough time when he appeared before the Oireachtas Committee on Transport. John Fearon was asked to explain why he stated that only "about half" the workforce in Valentia actually lived in Kerry when 14 of the 16 staff live in the county. He also suggested that spouses would have difficulty in finding employment is such remote locations, while all but two of the spouses of the Valentia staff had jobs. It was pointed out to him that his claims of problems with the electricity supply were rejected by the ESB. Other claims made by Mr Fearon, relating to the quality of the existing buildings, the educational opportunities available to the children of staff and the existence of shops and leisure centres, were all debunked by politicians present.
Committee members recall former Minister of State Pat "the Cope" Gallagher saying in June 2006 that the two stations would remain in existence while a plan to locate one in Dublin had been dropped. Mr Fearon claims that the minister told him three months later that either Valentia or Malin would close and a new station would open on the east coast. There are to be further hearings on the issue.
MEP denounces German TV report
MEP Kathy Sinnott was one of a number of MEPs filmed by a German company as she queued at 7:00am on May 23 last to claim €284 in daily expenses in Strasbourg just before leaving the city. The film was subsequently made available on YouTube. Ms Sinnott has posted a response on the same website, making the point that she had been working all night and her claim for expenses was quite legitimate.
Public servant cost State agency some €700k
The Dáil Public Accounts Committee on Thursday questioned Eddie Ward, CEO of the National Education and Welfare Board about a senior staff member who benefitted by colluding with a supplier to buy goods and services which were either not delivered or were surplus to requirements. The former IT manager purchased almost €200k worth of computer equipment which was not needed and authorised the payment of an estimated €270k for IT services that were not provided.
When it came to light that something was amiss the board brought in outside help to assist in the investigation and ended up with a bill for €228k in professional fees. The former IT manager also received an unauthorised merit payment of €19k which he subsequently agreed to return, but no one followed up and it is not clear if the money can now be recovered.
Bertie's new website profiles his speeches
A new website launched by former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern carries videos of some high profile speeches, including those delivered in Westminster and to the United States Congress. Also featured is a video entitled "Path to Peace" detailing 30 years of The Troubles in the North. Media speculation is that the purpose of the website is to launch the former Taoiseach's speaking career.
SDLP in Dublin to discuss its future
Members of the SDLP had separate talks in Dublin on Thursday with representatives from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Labour Party on the future development of all-island politics. Led by chairman Éamon Mullan, the delegation met Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern, Enda Kenny and Fergus O'Dowd of Fine Gael, and Labour party leader Eamon Gilmore and Ruairi Quinn. Speaking afterwards Alasdair McDonnell MP and MLA said that he felt the parties in the Dublin were too engrossed in the economy and the outcome of the Lisbon Treaty referendum to give much thought to possible political alliances.
Poor showing in Consumer Heart Index
In the Euro Consumer Heart Index, produced by a Swedish healthcare monitoring organisation, Ireland was ranked 16th out of 29 European countries for its heart healthcare. While we scored highly on same-day access to doctors for chest pain, our rankings were not so good for fruit and vegetable intake, compulsory exercise in schools and obesity. In the top four places were Luxembourg, France, Norway and Switzerland, with Bulgaria, Latvia, Poland and Romania at the bottom of the list.
Management reforms at Health Service Executive
The much criticised central management structure in the Health Service Executive is to change, with a number of regional directors being given budgetary responsibility for their region. It is they who will decide on the allocation of funds between the various sectors, such as hospitals, primary care and mental health.
The change, which is not being viewed as a return to the old health board format, has been generally welcomed.
Care village for older people opened in Co. Meath
Minister for Health Mary Harney was in Trim, Co. Meath on Friday for the official opening of Knightsbridge Village, a privately operated care village for older people which features a 102-bed nursing home, 28 single-storey houses and 41 apartments. The village also provides a number of services including a hair salon, a village hall and a bowling green. The apartments range in price from around €300k to €360k while the houses cost up to €435k. Residents also pay a service charge of up to €2,900.
Travel & Tourism
No Budweiser, but no recession at the Curragh
Not being a betting or horsey man, the Irish Derby almost passed me by last Sunday and I neglected to give it a mention in last week's edition. It however attracted the usual crowds and more than its share of celebrities and politicians, including the Taoiseach. According to the Irish Times' report there was no sign of a recession with the noise of helicopters drowning the sound of popping champagne bottles.
The race itself was won by 16-1 chance Frozen Fire, ridden by Séamie Heffernan and trained by Aidan O'Brien. Jockey and trainer combined to win last year's race and it was in fact three-in-a-row and six in total for the Baldoyle trainer.
This year the €1.5m race was sponsored by Dubai Duty Free, Budweiser having stood down after many years of association with the event.
Road safety campaign targets young women
A new road safety campaign, aimed at saving the lives of young women, has been launched by the Road Safety Authority. Using the slogan "He Drives, She Dies", the aim is to encourage young women to refuse to get into the cars of young men whom they know to drive dangerously.
An analysis of road deaths over the ten years to 2006 showed that 1,444 females were killed or seriously injured in cars driven by males. It also emerged that the vast majority of female passengers in the 17 to 24 age group, who were killed in road accidents, were travelling in cars being driven by males in the same age group.
Only Heathrow is worse than Dublin for flight delays
Heathrow is the only European airport which has a worse record than Dublin Airport for flight delays. Figures published by the Association of European Airlines show that in Dublin one aircraft in three is delayed by more than 15 minutes. The figures do not include Aer Lingus flights, although its own figures are broadly similar. Ryanair, which is not a member of the AEA, didn't appear to comment but regularly proclaims that it is the most punctual of all European airlines.
The sun comes out for launch of urban beach
After a miserable week weatherwise the sun shone for the opening of Ireland's first urban beach, located on George's Dock close to the Custom House in Dublin. With 240 tonnes of sand brought from a quarry in Wexford, palm trees, deckchairs and beach umbrellas, the illusion was completed by girls in shorts and bikini tops and some people in swimming togs. Aerobics, chess and boules were on offer at the free venue, while between now and July 20 a range of evening entertainment has also been scheduled.
The Irish Abroad
Death during plastic surgery due to heart failure
An inquest into the death of Pierre Christian Lawlor, who died while undergoing plastic surgery in Colombia in September last, has found that his death was due to heart failure. The 33-year-old of Stepaside, Co. Dublin had travelled to South America with his Venezuelan wife Andrea Galleana and their son Zachary, where he had arranged for the liposuction procedure to be carried out.
Ms Galleana told the inquest that her husband had ignored the doctor's instruction to abstain from alcohol prior to surgery and, she said, he had indicated that he had used cocaine a day earlier.
Mr Lawlor's parents and sister were unhappy with the verdict; they believe that he did not die in the manner described and want a further investigation.
Honeymooner drowns in Cyprus
Éamon McGlinchey (38), from Coalisland, Co. Tyrone, drowned while swimming in Cyprus where he was on honeymoon with his wife Sinéad. The accident happened on Tuesday, ten days after the wedding.
Troops may remain in Chad after March
Minister for Defence Willie O'Dea told the Dáil on Wednesday that the Irish troops stationed in Chad might remain after their March 2009 deadline if the UN peacekeeping mission isn't ready to replace them. A mid-term review will be conducted next month to decide the deadline for the 400 members of the Defence Forces at present serving in the African country.
Another Irish backpacker dies in Australia
Rory McMenamin (25), from Newtowncunningham, Co. Donegal has died in a workplace accident in Australia. The young accountant was backpacking and had taken up temporary work in a tyre depot in Brisbane. On Tuesday he was changing a tyre on a truck which collapsed on him.
Irishman shot dead by police in Oregon
An inquiry is talking place in Oregon in the US into the circumstances which prompted a police officer to open fire and kill Andrew Hanlon (20), a native of the Dundrum suburb of Dublin. The incident happened in Silverton, a small town about 14 miles east of Salem. The officer involved was responding to a report of a burglary at the time but local police are refusing to provide any further details. The family do not believe that Andrew was armed and say that he was hit by seven bullets.
Andrew had been in the area for the past year, having arrived on a visit to his sister, Melanie Heise, who lives in Silverton. He eventually moved out of his sister's house and for the past six months was living in the States illegally. In recent months he developed some form of psychiatric disorder and his sister was trying to make arrangements for him to return home for treatment.
Stay on deportation for Donegal priest
Fr Cathal Gallagher from Gaoth Dobhair, Co. Donegal, who was due to be deported from the US during the week, has had a stay placed on the order by the Department of Homeland Security, until July 14. Fr Gallagher has ministered for the past ten years in South Dakota. A misunderstanding about his Green Card status left him in the 'out-of-status' category for a number of weeks, a situation which usually results in deportation.
Australian murder accused had Irish passport
John Walsh (69) who, according to the Irish Times, emigrated to Australia on an Irish passport some 30 years ago, has been charged with three counts of murder and one of attempted murder. Walsh allegedly used an axe to kill his wife and two grandchildren, boys aged five and seven, at his home in the small town of Cowra, about 300km west of Sydney. He later also attacked his police officer daughter with an axe, leaving her with serious head wounds. Walsh was subsequently arrested as he checked into a motel some 400km away. According to reports he became very withdrawn about six years ago after his son, an army officer, committed suicide.
McGuinness and Alderdice on peace mission to Baghdad
The North's Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, spent the weekend in Baghdad trying to persuade representatives of the rival Sunni and Shia groups to follow a non-violent route, using the Mitchell Principles which helped bring peace to the North. Also in the delegation were the former speaker of the Stormont Assembly, Lord Alderdice, and political consultant Quintin Oliver. They were joined by South African representatives at talks involving more than 30 Iraqi politicians within Baghdad's high security green zone.
Conservation & The Environment
Ringsend sewage plant costs additional €35.6m
The controversial sewage treatment plant at Ringsend in Dublin is back in the news following the revelation that Dublin City Council is to pay the operators of the facility an additional €35.6m. While the council is not commenting on the story, it is reported by RTÉ that the additional payment probably arises from the fact that the plant is treating almost 20% more waste than its official capacity. The Irish Times suggests that the operator had to be compensated for measures taken to remove the odour, which is the usual reason for the plant being in the news.
On being made aware of the situation, Minister for the Environment John Gormley launched an investigation into the design and operation of the facility. At least one city councillor, who said he and his colleagues were being kept in the dark about the situation, expressed surprise at the need for an inquiry as the Department had been a partner in the development from the start.
Work to start on first municipal incinerator
After eight years of battles with the planning authorities and the courts, Indaver Ireland has announced that construction work will start next month on its planned waste incinerator at Carrenstown, Co. Meath. When it commences operations in early 2011 the €130m waste-to-energy facility will be capable of providing enough electricity to power 20,000 homes. Some of those who have been fighting the plan since it was first announced still have hopes that Minister for the Environment John Gormley will intervene.
An Bord Pleanála is due to decide shortly on a planning application for a second incinerator in Co. Meath. If granted, the facility at Nobber will have the capacity to process half the meat and bone meal produced in the country each year. A spokesman for the company said that the electricity generated would reduce national carbon emissions by 1%.
Monsanto urges farmers to demand right to use GM products
Biotechnology company Monsanto has urged farmers to demand the right to use genetically modified seeds and products to avert the further decline in farming and the production of Irish food. Monsanto's business manager, Patrick O'Reilly, was addressing the Oireachtas Agricultural Committee and further stated that the Government's anti-GMO stance was "misguided, unsustainable, and counterproductive".
Entertainment & The Arts
BCC upholds complaints against Dustin and Kielty
A complaint about remarks seen to be offensive to members of the Travelling community has been upheld by the Broadcasting Complaints Committee. The remarks occurred during the Saturday morning children's programme "The Once a Week Show", presented by Sinéad Ní Churnáin and Dustin the Turkey, and featuring comedian Patrick Kielty. Travellers were referred to as "tinkers", and "knick knacks" in an exchange which was described by Pavee Point Travellers' Centre as "seriously offensive". RTÉ, on the other hand, claimed the comments were made in a "gentle non-threatening way" in what was a humorous non-threatening show.
"Giant Man" proposed for Point Village
Having seen a similar structure at the University of Leiden in The Netherlands, developer Harry Crosbie is hoping to construct a 110ft "Giant Man" as part of his Point Village project. The structure will provide visitors with the opportunity to walk around inside and learn about the workings of the human body. It is to be one of the centrepieces of the €850m development of the area, which includes the extension of The Point theatre to including seating for 14,000.
And that will be an end to the use of the name The Point, at least officially. In what has been described as one of Ireland's biggest sponsorship deals, mobile phone operator O2 has agreed to pay €25m to Live Nation and developer Harry Crosbie to have its name on the extended theatre, which will be known as The O2.
Death of fiddle player Paddy Canny
The death took place on June 28 of fiddle player Paddy Canny of Co. Clare. Born in 1919, he was one of the most respected figures on the traditional music scene and was a founder member of the legendary Tulla Céilí band and an uncle of Martin Hayes, one of the most accomplished traditional fiddlers of the modern era.
Road deaths in Counties Dublin, Kerry and Roscommon
The cyclist who was killed in a collision with a bus in Dublin early last Sunday was named as Ben Doherty (67), a native of Limerick who was living in Dublin.
James Broughall (40), from An Daingean, Co. Kerry, was fatally injured shortly before 5:00pm on Monday when the car he was driving collided with a truck near Lispole on the Dingle Peninsula. His wife Clare (37), who was injured in the accident, died in hospital on Wednesday. Mr Broughall, who was known as David, was originally from Kilcullen, Co. Kildare, while his wife was a native of Cork city. They had no children.
An 18-year-old youth lost his life in a single-vehicle accident at around 10:00am on Saturday, when the car he was driving went out of control and crashed into a ditch at Curraghboy Road, Athlone, Co. Roscommon.
Massive gold reserves in Co. Monaghan
It was announced on Tuesday that massive gold reserves have been confirmed near Clontibret in Co. Monaghan. Conroy Diamonds and Gold estimates that one million ounces of gold can be recovered but the gold is of low grade and will be expensive to extract. Professor Richard Conroy believes, however, that with recent increases in gold prices, the proposed mining operation can be highly profitable.
Property developer loses €20m in sale of Aer Lingus shares
There was a high level of interest in the decision of leading property developer Liam Carroll to sell more than 31 million shares in Aer Lingus on Wednesday. While he would have received more than €40m for his holding, he is believed to have incurred a loss of some €20m. He refused to talk to the media about the sale, leaving the Irish Times to note that, in the current difficult financial situation, the banks have been pressurising some property developers to reduce their debts.
New guidelines on insurance offers to the elderly
Following Financial Services Ombudsman Joe Meade's serious criticism of existing practices, a new series of guidelines have been issued to insurance brokers by the Professional Insurance Brokers' Association. The guidelines refer specifically to the selling of inappropriate investment products to elderly and vulnerable clients.
One of the cases highlighted concerned two insurance salesmen pressurising a bachelor farmer into agreeing to an unsuitable health policy. When the man did not have a cheque book one of the salesmen drove him 12 miles to an ATM while the other remained at the farm.
The number of general complaints made against banks, building societies and insurance companies in the first half of the year has risen by 30% over the figure for the same period last year.
Minister will not provide financial support for hauliers
Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey has reiterated that he will not provide financial support for hauliers, despite any hardship they experience due to the increase in fuel prices; Mr Dempsey has suggested that the hauliers might introduce a surcharge similar to that imposed by the airlines. He has, however, agreed to an initiative to uncover rogue hauliers in a series of spot inspections that will also focus on driver time and the use of untaxed agricultural diesel.
Three days of sunshine, and thankful for it
Monday was overcast and windy with showers and, while we had more rain on Tuesday, we also saw something of the sun. The forecasters promised more rain for the remainder of the week but for the most part the sun shone over Galway until late on Friday afternoon. It has been pretty miserable since and will remain so for at least the next four days. There is just a chance that conditions will improve on Friday.
There has been much comment on the amount of rain which has fallen in recent weeks but, unusually, we have fared best. While we have more rain than usual, slightly further east 200% of the average has fallen and the normally sunny southeast has experienced 400% of its average.
Latest Temperatures: Day 16C (61F).................Night 11C (52F)
S P O R T
Munster Senior Football Final
........Cork 1-16........Kerry 1-11
Leinster Senior Hurling Championship Finals
........Wexford 5-21........Kilkenny 0-17
Hurling All Ireland Qualifier Phase Two
........Galway 1-26........Laois 0-9
........Waterford 6-18........Antrim 0-15
Intertoto Cup Second Round First Leg
Sun:....FK Riga 1........Bohemians 0
Eircom League Cup Quarter Finals
Tue:....Derry City 4........Bohemians 1
........Galway Utd 3........Bray Wanderers 0
........Drogheda Utd 0........Cork City 1
........UCD 1........Wexford Yths 2
Eircom League Premier Division
........Cork City 3........Galway Utd 2
........Drogheda Utd 2........UCD 1
........Shamrock Rov. 0........Cobh Ramblers 0
........Sligo Rovers 0........Derry City 0
........St Pat's Ath. 5........Finn Harps 1
TV3 wins Uefa Cup rights
TV3 has successfully bid for the exclusive terrestrial rights to the Uefa Cup from September of next year. Outbidding RTE, the company is believed to have paid some €750k a year for three years to show 16 live games.
British Open Qualifying:
A number of Irish players were in action last Monday attempting to qualify for this year's British Open; however it was a day to forget for the Irish hopefuls as Darren Clarke fired a 70 and 74 which was not enough to claim one of the 18 places up for grabs. Clarke’s only chance now is a top five finish in the Scottish Open.
Other Irish competitors were Michael Hoey, Colm Moriarty, Gary Murphy and Paul McGinley who all failed to qualify.
At the European Open there was a strong Irish contingent with Graeme McDowell finishing in third place. He went into the final round three shots behind Ross Fisher although he had been two shots in front midway through round three. After dropping four shots in the four opening holes he rallied and finished on –12, eight shots behind Fisher.
Rory McIlroy was next best on –4 in tenth place with Paul McGinley and Padraig Harrington both on –2 sharing 17th spot. Darren Clarke missed the cut.
Irish Emigrant Publications