|THE IRISH EMIGRANT :: May 10, 2010||| Print ||
|Monday, 10 May 2010|
Issue No. 1214 - The complete edition
May 10, 2010 Issue No.1,214
The free news service for the global Irish community
Editor: Siobhan King ©2010 Irish Emigrant Ltd
Shares plunged and the euro hit a 14-year low as European leaders moved to convince fearful markets that the Greek debt crisis won’t spread to other countries and derail the EU’s currency and economic recovery.
Further disruptions to air travel occurred when an ash plume from Iceland’s volcano moved towards the country and Irish airspace was declared a no-fly zone for much of the week.
Sean Quinn has announced he is to step down from the board of Quinn Group as the future of Quinn Insurance hangs in the balance.
Tributes continued to pour in for broadcaster Gerry Ryan as hundreds of mourners gathered at St John the Baptist Church in Clontarf for his funeral on Thursday
Sean Quinn to leave Quinn Group board
Seán Quinn and his wife Patricia have announced they are to stand down from the board of Quinn Group Limited to focus attention on the family’s interests outside of Quinn Group. In particular, he referred to “the interaction of these interests with Anglo Irish Bank” to which Mr Quinn and his family owe Anglo €2.8bn. Talks have been ongoing between Quinn Group and Anglo Irish Bank on the terms of a possible re-financing deal, aimed at releasing Quinn Group from guarantees which prompted the appointment of provisional administrators to the insurance division.
The Administrator appointed to Quinn Insurance Ltd will spend this week developing a thorough business plan plus a detailed examination of the company finances before presenting a set of proposals to the Financial Regulator on the future direction of Quinn Insurance. Quinn Insurance was allowed re-enter the UK motor insurance market on the advice of the Administrators but a decision on re-entry into other insurance markets will be made next week. It is feared up to 900 jobs will be cut at the Cavan-based insurance business
Eurozone debt crisis threatens Irish economic recovery
The prospects for Ireland’s economic recovery faced a setback this week as anxiety about the success of the €110bn rescue plan for Greece sent the euro, commodities and equity markets plunging around the world. While the ISEQ index of Irish shares had been one of the best performers in 2010 following a disastrous performance last year, it fell by 4.2 per cent this week. The euro hit its lowest level since April last year and market confidence was shaken regarding high deficit EU countries as Greeks staged violent strikes against the implementation of €30bn in austerity measures resulting in three deaths.
The European Commission forecast the Irish economy would grow by 3% next year and the latest Exchequer figures show tax revenues were higher than expected last month. While all indicators point to the Government’s four-year budgetary plan being on track, it could all be undermined if the Euro crisis is not resolved and borrowing costs climb for struggling European economies.
Concerns are growing that in spite of the rescue package, to which Ireland will contribute €1.3bn, there remains a danger that it could default on its debts and then try to restructure them. In the case of Greece defaulting, bond holders all over Europe are likely to take the view that other countries like Spain, Portugal and Ireland might ultimately follow suit. Nerves were further rattled after ratings agency Moody’s said it was likely to downgrade Portugal’s credit rating following a three-month review. It warned that banks in Britain and Ireland, Spain and Italy also faced challenges and were in danger of being downgraded.
EU leaders have insisted that the Greek financial crisis is the result of bad fiscal management and does not apply to any other eurozone countries. They said the rescue package should contain the problem by giving Greece three years of support before it has to look to the markets again.
The main crisis facing eurozone economies is the breakup of the single currency and countries reverting to their old national currencies, which would have a devastating effect on the Irish economy.
In a bid to re-establish financial stability in Europe, the 27-member commission met on Sunday to discuss new plans to stem the “contagion” in sovereign debt markets by urging the European Central Bank to buy up government debt from euro zone members.
Broadcaster Gerry Ryan laid to rest
Hundreds of mourners, including his RTE colleagues and President Mary McAleese, gathered for the funeral Mass of one of Ireland’s best-known media personalities, Gerry Ryan, on Thursday. The broadcaster was given a traditional wake in the house where he and his estranged wife Morah had raised their five children ahead of his funeral at St John the Baptist Church in Clontarf at 11:30am, which was broadcast live on 2FM radio station. Dedicated fans began to gather outside the church from 9:00am, some travelling from outside Dublin, before a host of Ireland’s best known personalities began to arrive to pay their last respects.
In his homily, Fr Brian D’Arcy, a friend for over 30 years, said he thought Gerry would have “been absolutely shocked at how popular he was”. Gerry’s two eldest children, Lottie and Rex, paid tributes to their father who was warmly remembered as “the definition of a cool Dad”. His brother Manno gave what he called “a quick canter” through Gerry’s early days and finally Morah spoke of how proud she was of her children and how thankful she was for Gerry’s radio success. Mr Ryan’s partner Melanie Verwoerd attended the funeral with her son and daughter.
After communion, Westlife sang ‘You Raise Me Up’ as well as a specially made recording of U2’s ‘With or Without You’ opening with the line: “Calling from New York on the Ryan Line, the Ryan Line is now open”. Scores of fans gathered outside applauded the remains of the late presenter as the hearse made its way to a private burial in Dardistown Cemetery where Mr Ryan’s mother Marueen was laid to rest three years ago.
The host of radio station 2FM’s popular ‘the Gerry Ryan Show’ was found dead at his apartment on Friday, April 30. A post-mortem examination was completed on Tuesday but details of the preliminary results are not being disclosed while the results of toxicology tests are not expected to be known for several weeks. Initial indications suggest that the 53-year-old suffered a massive heart attack.
DJ Ruth Scott has picked up the vacant 9:00am to noon slot while DJ Colm Hayes and chat-show host Lucy Kennedy are the short-term replacements for Gerry Ryan.
Limerick man returns home after solo Atlantic crossing
Sean McGowan, who last week completed a record-breading solo crossing of the Atlantic, was reunited with his family when he arrived into Cork Airport on Friday. The Limerick-based Dell manager, who began his epic voyage in his boat Tess from La Gomera in the Canary Islands on January 4, is the first Irish-based oarsman to row the Atlantic unassisted.
Initially part of the Woodvale Ocean Rowing Race, he started out with 29 other boats but his chances of winning the race were over within two weeks when a freak wave damaged his boat. The 42-year-old rower spent the remainder of the voyage nursing his boat across the Atlantic until he reached English Harbour in Antigua after completing 2,500 nautical miles during which he lost 53lbs in weight. The father of four faced gruelling challenges on the 118-day journey, especially when huge waves threw him into open sea. The oarsman said the mental strength for such an undertaking was helped in no small part by daily calls to his wife Lorraine and messages from well-wishers, family and friends on his Facebook page. Sean raised over €12,000 for the Irish-South African charity Soweto Connection through his journey.
Travel chaos predicted for summer as ash crisis continues
Airline passengers are facing a summer of uncertainty over travel plans as continued volcanic activity in Iceland and northerly winds will drive ash over Ireland for months to come. As travel chaos resumed this week, with drifting clouds of volcanic ash causing flight cancellations, the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) said it could not rule out months of disruption in air travel and no-fly zones across Ireland and Europe would become a feature of travelling in the near future.
A no-fly zone was imposed over Ireland, Northern Ireland and parts of Scotland on Tuesday as a result of forecasts from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) in London. Nearly 30,000 Ryanair and Aer Lingus passengers were forced to rebook flights after 200 flights were grounded between 7:00am and 1:00pm. The IAA lifted imposed further restrictions on Wednesday as northwesterly winds continued to push the ash plume down towards Irish airspace. All Irish airports re-opened on Thursday but the threat of the cloud encroaching on Irish airspace along the west coast of Ireland forced the IAA to impose further restrictions at Shannon, Donegal, Sligo, Knock, Galway and Kerry airports from midnight on Thursday until 1:00pm on Friday. Further disruptions are predicted for this week and authorities said intending passengers should continue to contact their airline's website to establish the up-to-date position on flight schedules.
Consumer groups have warned that airlines did not have sufficient staff to cope with the rising number of claims and that settling the estimated 300,000 claims will be slow.
Concerns for the future of tourism were raised by Minister for Tourism, Mary Hanafin, who predicted increased disruptions could be “very damaging” to the tourist industry. Last month’s airport closures cost hotels here in the region of €17m in lost revenue.
Meanwhile, EU transport ministers at an emergency meeting held in Brussels to discuss the fallout from the flight disruption, estimated that it cost the industry between €1.5bn and €2.5bn. Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey told the Dáil that the Government could not afford to provide compensation for the aviation industry following the disruption.
Every ash cloud has a silver lining, however, as the two main ferry companies reported an upsurge in bookings following the announcement on Monday of limited flights.
Life sentence for youth over murder of two Polish men
A 19-year-old man from Drimnagh, Dublin has been sentenced to life in prison for the brutal murders of two Polish mechanics on February 23, 2008. Pawel Kalite (30) and Marius Szwajkos (29) were both stabbed in the head with a screwdriver by the then 17-year-old David Curran in what Mr Justice McKechnie described as a “brutal, savage and could be described as sadistic” attack. The Central Criminal Court jury took almost six hours to reach the majority verdict following a trial that lasted three weeks.
The court heard that Mr Kalite was involved in a row with a group of teenagers outside a chip shop near his home on Benbulben Road in Drimnagh shortly before 6:30pm. Mr Kalite was knocked to the ground and punched and kicked but walked off when the owner of the business broke up the row. It emerged in court that David Curran received a call from one of the girls involved in the fracas and he and another teenager, Sean Keogh, approached the house Mr Kalite shared with his sister and brother and the other victim. Mr Curran, who had been drinking and taking drugs for much of the day, attacked the two men by stabbing them in the head with a screwdriver when they emerged from the house. Mr Curran then attempted to establish an alibi for himself and pin the murders on Sean Keogh. Mr Keogh (21) from Inchicore was found not guilty of the double murder but guilty of assaulting one of the men and will be sentenced this week.
Victim impact statements, on behalf of both families, were read aloud by the former employer of the two men, Alan Kennedy, in which it emerged that the two men planned to move home to Poland later that year.
Bits and Pieces
Your country needs YOU
The ‘Your Country, Your Call’ initiative launched by President Mary MacAleese has attracted in the region of 9,000 entries by its close at the weekend. The programme, which seeks ideas and schemes to reinvigorate the economy by creating opportunity and employment, will award two prizes of €100,000 for the best proposal. The winning ideas will be announced on September 17 after the submissions have been pared down to five finalists by a judging panel chaired by DCU Chancellor David Byrne.
Irish emigrants to US up by 12 per cent
The number of Irish people emigrating to the US increased by 12 per cent last year with 1.637 Irish people granted legal permanent residence there according to the latest figures. The rise in emigration to the US also reflects increase in emigration to Britain, up 7 per cent, while Canada and Australia experienced 13 per cent and 25 per cent increases respectively in the number of residence visas issued to Irish nationals. The number of people travelling to the US for tourism, on business or on J1 student visas fell in 2009. It is estimated that 100,000 will leave Ireland over the next two years.
CAB seizes €500,000 in assets from Traveller gang
The Criminal Assets Bureau has seized more than €400,000 in property and cash following an operation targeting a Traveller criminal gang which carried out burglaries and robberies, mainly on the homes of the elderly, all over the country. The High Court directed that CAB confiscate a house in Newbridge, Co Kildare, and other items from married couple Andrew and Ellen Wall who are part of the Traveller criminal family known as the 'Cock Wall' gang. During a search of their home at Piercetown in Newbridge, an 18-carat diamond ring worth €6,100 was confiscated, as well as €14,000 cash, a Volkswagen Passat worth €15,000 and the couple's house valued at €240,000. CAB also found a receipt for €8,000 for cosmetic surgery on Ellen Wall's nose.
Public supports proposal to rename Merrion Square Park
A proposal to rename Dublin's Archbishop Ryan Park in Merrion Square has received overwhelming public support in light of criticism of Archbishop Ryan in the Murphy report. Two Labour Party councillors proposed the change as they said the park should be renamed as a gesture to those who had suffered clerical abuse. Of the 567 who responded to public advertisements in national newspapers by Dublin City Council, 554 were in favour of renaming the park while 13 were against. The most popular choice for a new name was Oscar Wilde Park or Gardens supported by 219 respondents.
Earthquake shakes up northwest Clare residents
Residents of northwest Clare felt their houses shaking and heard loud bangs as a mini-earthquake, measuring 2.6 on the Richter scale, hit the area at around 11:30pm on Thursday night. Seismologists said the tremor was ten times more powerful than the one that occurred in Donegal earlier this year and is the first time a tremor has hit the west of Ireland since records began. Liscannor resident, Martin Doyle, said he felt the whole roof shake and thought the roof was collapsing. Baffled by what was happening, he said his neighbour called to see if he had fallen down the stairs.
Man arrested over Dublin shooting
Gardaí in Dublin have arrested a 26-year-old man in connection with the fatal shooting of Wayne Doherty in Dublin on July 4, 2009. A 32-year-old father of two, Mr Doherty died after he was shot outside his parents' home in Hartstown, after reportedly confronting a group of men. Detectives now believe he was a victim of a row in which he had no involvement.
Slain gangster hailed as role model
Eamonn Dunne, a gangster suspected of ordering more than a dozen murders, was described as a great “role model” in a tribute delivered at his funeral in Stoneybatter, Dublin on Tuesday. The father-of-four was gunned down at a birthday party in the Faussagh House pub in Cabra on April 23. His brother David received a round of applause from mourners when he said he aspired to be like his elder brother from a young age.
National Lottery Winning Numbers:
The outcome of the British general election resulting in a hung Parliament raised concerns that a weak government may be unable to reduce Britain’s high budget deficit quickly. The pound fell against both the euro and the dollar after expectations of a Conservative majority market failed to materialise. The FTSE plummeted over Friday night and the value of sterling fell below $1.50. What worries the markets is the ability of a minority Conservative government to deal with the huge deficit running in excess of 11 per cent of GDP, a level close to that of Greece. The incoming government will have to quickly announce a clear plan for public finances to assuage the markets’ fears. However, ratings agency Moody’s said the outcome of the election would not affect Britain’s credit rating.
The Democratic Unionist Party won eight seats. It was the loss of the party leader’s East Belfast seat that he held for three decades that caused a political sensation, plunging into doubt the future of Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson. Sinn Fein obtained five seats with no seats gained or lost in any constituency while the SDLP held its three seats. Sinn Fein took the largest number of votes in the election, collecting 171,000 to the DUP's 168,000. Reg Empey, meanwhile, looks set to step down as leader of the Ulster Unionists after the party failed to win a single seat.
Lithuanian men sentenced to 20 years for murder
Two Lithuanian men who last month were convicted of murdering Dungannon supermarket manager Shaun Fitzpatrick each received 20-year sentences at Belfast Crown Court on Friday after which they are to be deported. The pair, Andrius Dunauskas of Lisnahull Road, Dungannon and Ramunas Balseris, of Altmore Drive, Dungannon had subjected the victim to such a brutal attack that paramedics thought he had been shot in the head. The court heard last month that the pair had ambushed the openly gay Spar manager and dragged him into an alleyway off the Donaghmore Road in the early hours of March 23, 2008, where he was brutally assaulted and killed. Both men had blamed each other for the murder. Mr Dunauskas had to be forcibly removed from court when he hurled abuse at Mr Justice Hart after sentencing. He later attempted suicide by cutting his wrists in a holding cell and was taken to hospital for treatment.
Man to stand trial over killing of soldier
A 59-year-old Armagh man is to stand trial for the murder of SAS Captain Robert Nairac, who disappeared from the Three Steps Inn, Dromintee, in south Armagh in 1977. Kevin Crilly, of Lower Faughill Road, Jonesborough, who allegedly confessed to journalists about his involvement in the disappearance, is to be formally arraigned this week. He is to be charged with the soldier’s murder as well as two counts of false imprisonment and two charges of kidnapping. Six men have already been sent to prison in connection with the soldier’s disappearance.
Nine-year term for Portadown man over pensioner attack
Martin Leo McNally (20) from Wood Green in Portadown received a nine-year sentence for an attack on a 71-year-old pensioner who died three months later having never regained consciousness. The Portadown man was under the influence of drink and drugs when he attacked Francis Gerard Lyttle in an alleyway as he made his way home on November 1, 2007. Mr Justice Hart, addressing Craigavon Crown Court, said that the case was made all the worse because the victim was vulnerable and was kicked in the head while he lay defenceless on the ground. Mr Lyttle was left deaf, dumb, blind, paralysed and unconscious as result of extensive brain injuries and died in hospital on January 23, 2008 of pneumonia. A previous court heard that Mr McNally had indulged in a drugs and drink binge to celebrate Halloween on October 31 but had continued taking ecstasy and cocaine into the following day when he happened upon the defenceless pensioner.
Man arrested in UK over 1986 Belfast murder
David Mayberry Wallace was arrested in the Manchester area of England on Tuesday in connection with the murder of a 65-year-old man in Belfast over 20 years ago. The 50-year-old man, originally from Northern Ireland but with an address in Shaw Street, Bury, in England, appeared at Belfast Magistrate's court on Saturday charged with the murder of Stanley Close, who was found strangled in his home in the Willowfield area of east Belfast in August 1986. It is understood that Mr Close had served a 10-year prison sentence for shooting dead a 30-year-old man in a bar in south Belfast in July 1971. A PSNI detective told the court that they yet had to establish a motive for the killing but confirmed that the accused knew the dead man.
Life sentence for murder of Limerick man
A 24-year-old man has been handed down a life sentence at the Central Criminal Court for the murder of Limerick man Roy Collins last year. James Dillon, from the southside of Limerick city and a member of the notorious McCarthy-Dundon criminal gang, pleaded guilty to the murder just before his trial was due to start on Tuesday. The court heard that five years before the murder, a member of the Limerick McCarthy-Dundon gang was refused entry to one of the pubs owned by the victim’s father Stephen for being underage. Wayne Dundon was later convicted of threatening to kill the family member who had refused his sister entry and subsequently Stephen Collins had received an armed garda escort to and from his work place. On April 9 of last year James Dillon and another man went to the pub and amusement arcade run by the Collins family in the Roxboro Shopping Centre and fired one shot, killing Roy Collins. In a victim impact statement to the Central Criminal Court, Roy Collins' father, Stephen, said his other children were now terrified of what could happen to them. Gardaí are believed to be targeting a second gang member who drove the getaway car from the murder scene and may also have involvement in the murder of Shane Geoghegan in November 2008.
A 69-year-old Galway man, Padraic Walsh, has been sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, at Galway Circuit Court, after attempting to extort €5,000 from Fianna Fáil councillor, Michael ‘Stroke’ Fahy. The court heard that the former ship operator of Friar’s Hill, Taylor’s Hill, Galway made a series of phone calls to the councillor claiming to have tape recordings of other politicians planning to take his council seat by setting him up in a “honey trap” or having him assassinated. The prosecution barrister described the case as having the plotline of a cheap B-movie.
Mr Fahy was convicted in 2007 on charges of using council funds to erect fencing on his land and sentenced to 12 months in prison and a fine of €75,000. This was reduced to a suspended sentence along with a €30,000 fine in a December 2008 appeal. This is currently under appeal. Mr Walsh, masquerading as a Department of Justice official, claimed he had recordings of people who could exonerate Mr Fahy in his appeal.
A surveillance operation was launched by the gardaí after being contacted by the councillor and an arrangement was made to hand over the €5,000 for the tapes. Mr Walsh was arrested in April 2009 when the two men met in a car park in Dublin.
Convicted former teacher receives 12-month sentence
A former teacher who sexually abused young boys at a national school in Sligo was sentenced to 12 months in jail on Tuesday but walked free from court after the judge said he had effectively served his sentence from a previous conviction, which was subsequently overturned on appeal.
Christopher Cosgrove (66) of Ballyhaunis Road, Claremorris in Co Mayo was found guilty by a jury last February on 35 counts of indecently assaulting four pupils in his classroom at St John's National School in Sligo between 1968 and 1977.
Mr Cosgrove, a former Marist brother, had previously been convicted of abusing the boys in 2005, but the conviction was overturned and he was released from prison and a retrial was ordered.
Judge Patrick McCartan said it was one of the most difficult cases he had ever presided over in terms of sentence as the defendant was especially fearful of going to prison due to having his throat slashed during his last prison term. He imposed a 12-month sentence on four counts of indecent assault against each of the four victims and ordered that the sentences run concurrently but told Mr Cosgrove he was free to go as he had already served 11 months in jail.
The victims in the case said their lives had changed irrevocably because of the abuse. Some had relationship difficulties, while others had problems with alcohol abuse and one had attempted suicide.
Defamation case settled against Ryanair CEO
A defamation case taken by the head of the Airline Pilots’ Association against Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary has been settled in the High Court. The case arose out of a RTÉ Prime Time programme broadcast in October 2006 in which Mr O'Leary described Evan Cullen as a “failed Aer Lingus pilot”. Senior Counsel Martin Hayden read an apology on behalf of his client Michael O'Leary, which said: “I wish to apologise unreservedly if my remarks caused Mr Cullen embarrassment or have damaged his professional reputation in the eyes of viewers of the programme in question. I accept that Mr Cullen has an excellent flying record and is qualified in every respect to carry out his duties as a commercial pilot.” In a statement, Ryanair said: “A charitable contribution was agreed at a level significantly below the legal cost of spending a number of days in court.”
Employment & Industrial Relations
The European Commission has approved €2.57m in assistance for 598 workers made redundant last year when Waterford Crystal went into receivership. The contribution will pay for 598 workers to undertake retraining and explore new business opportunities. In addition, the Government has pledged to provide €1.3m in support. In approving the application, László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion said: “The crisis has hit Waterford particularly badly because the fall in consumer purchasing power led to a drop in demand for luxury items like crystal glass. The globalisation fund will help cushion this dramatic change by helping workers better prepare for and find new opportunities”.
Union to recommend pay deal
The largest public service union, Impact, is to recommend acceptance of the Croke Park pay and reform agreement which will call a halt to the industrial action undertaken by Impact members in the health sector. For three months, HSE administrators belonging to IMPACT have refused to process crucial financial data as part of their campaign against Government pay cuts. However the union's Central Executive Committee reversed its position following the issuing of a set of clarifications of the Croke Park deal by the facilitators of the agreement Kieran Mulvey and Kevin Foley. The deal has also confirmed the guarantees of jobs for life given to Impact members in a 2004 agreement when they transferred from the Health Boards to the HSE. IMPACT had feared that the Croke Park pay and reform agreement might dilute the effect of those guarantees.
Politics & Politicians
As Brian Cowan marks two years in office this week, the Government won a Dáil vote on a Fine Gael motion calling for an end to the payment of ministerial pensions to serving politicians. The motion was carried by a margin of two votes, and the practice will stop after the next election. All but two TDs said they would surrender their pensions or donate them to charity. Fianna Fáil's Noel Treacy, a former junior minister, told the Dáil he was prepared to donate his ministerial pension to charity. Earlier, Minister Mary White of the Green Party described the payment of pensions to serving politicians as “downright reprehensible”, but that the Government had been advised that legislation to bring in an immediate change was a “legal minefield”.
Beaumont Hospital to cut 52 beds through lack of funding
Dublin's Beaumont Hospital has announced that it will close 52 beds over the next two weeks because of lack of funds. The hospital said that while it received an allocation of €241m this year, it has a budget deficit of €19m. There will be cuts in all areas but neurosurgery, transplant or cancer services will remain unaffected. The hospital said that since the introduction of the Fair Deal nursing home scheme, it has managed to free up 50 out of 140 beds that were occupied by patients who no longer needed an acute bed. The hospital hopes to generate another €2m by increasing the number of private beds.
Final section of Cork to Dublin motorway to open in June
The last section of the M8 motorway linking Dublin and Cork is due to open in June. The section linking Portlaoise and the M8 outside Cullahill will bypass the towns of Abbeyleix, Durrow and Cullahill. The final section will link the M50 in Dublin with the Dunkettle Interchange in Cork with 250km of motorway which is expected to reduce the driving time between the two cities to two and a half hours.
Underground DART delayed until 2018
The completion date for Dublin's Underground DART link has been pushed back three years to 2018 and work is now expected to start on the €2bn project in 2012. The project - a public-private partnership and part funded by an EU Commission agency - will involve linking Docklands with Heuston Station and Inchicore through underground stations at Pearse St, St Stephen's Green and Christchurch. Iarnród Éireann said that planning applications took longer than anticipated and the increased capacity is set to treble the number of rail passenger journeys to 100 million annually.
Air crash investigation team call for airfield closure
The Air Accident Investigation Unit has issued an interim safety recommendation instructing the owner of Powerscourt Airfield to suspend all flights pending the results of an investigation into a fatal air crash on April 10 in which two people died. A 69-year-old pilot, Michael Slazenger, and his passenger, 66-year-old Noel Whitney died last month when the left wing of the single engine Super Falco hit a tree near the end of the runway and crashed to the ground during a landing attempt. The aircraft took off at 1:30pm and was returning to the airfield after a 30-minute flight when it struck the upper branches of a tree and caught fire after hitting the ground twice and turning upside down. Mr Whitney died at the scene, while Mr Slazenger died in hospital two days later. The owner has ceased all operations while the AAIU is investigating the suitability of Powerscourt for light aircraft operations.
U2’s Adam Clayton plans to apply to a New York court for a freezing order on the sale of an apartment by his former personal assistant claiming she had misappropriated money from him. Mr Clayton brought High Court proceedings against Carol Hawkins, from Dublin, over allegedly taking considerable amounts of money without authorisation. Seeking the permission of the High Court to take proceedings in another jurisdiction, counsel for Mr Clayton, Emily Egan, told the court that Ms Hawkin’s had acquired a number of assets with the rock star’s money. Ms Egan told the court that Ms Hawkin’s principal asset was the New York apartment she bought in 2007 for $465,000. The former employee admitted that she had taken money without authorisation but disputed the sums involved and denied that she used the money to buy property and other assets.
Separated Irish twins discharged from intensive care
Recently separated conjoined twins, Hassan and Hussein Benhaffaf are on the road to recovery after their release from the intensive care unit at London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital. The twins’ parents, Angie and Azzedine, were able to hold the babies on Wednesday for the first time since the 14 hour-long surgery to separate them last month. The babies, from Carrigtwohill, in east Cork are breathing unaided and being bottle-fed. Their medical team said, however, they face a long period of recovery.
Couple refused bail over death in Tenerife
A Dublin couple, 19-year-old Keith Burke and 27-year-old Sara Stuart, have been remanded in custody without bail in Tenerife as authorities investigate the homicide of a young ferry worker on April 30. The couple, who moved to Tenerife last month to look for work, have not been charged with any offence but are being formally investigated for homicide. Abraham Baez Rodriguez (25) was beaten to death outside a hotel in the popular resort of Playa de las Americas and the couple were arrested shortly after he was found with severe head injuries. Suspects can be held in Spain for up to four years without being charged.
Italian man jailed for seven years over Irish hit-and-run deaths
A 33-year-old Italian man has received a seven-year sentence in relation to the hit-and-run in Rome that killed two Irish women on St Patrick’s Day in 2008. Elizabeth Gubbins from Limerick and Mary Collins from Kildare were holidaying in the Italian capital when they were struck at a pedestrian crossing in central Rome by a car that fled the scene. The owner of the car, Friedrich Vernarelli, claimed that he was not driving it at the time of the incident. However, Mr Vernarelli was convicted of manslaughter, driving while drunk, leaving the scene of a crash and ordered to pay almost €1m in compensation. His lawyer has said he will appeal the verdict.
Limerick man loses damages case against NY surgeon
A Co Limerick man who sued for $12m damages after his wife died while having cosmetic surgery in the US has lost his case. The six-person jury found that the anaesthetist and nurse caring for Kay Cregan had not adhered to best medical practice but it also declared that this had had no significant contribution in causing her death. The cosmetic surgeon at the centre of the case had already reached a settlement of $2.1m with Mr Cregan but did not admit liability in the case. Mother of two Mrs Cregan travelled to New York for the surgery in 2005.
Conservation & The Environment
Scrappage scheme fuels 95 per cent increase in car sales
A 95 per cent increase in car sales in April is credited to the Government’s scrappage initiative that rewards motorist for changing to newer models with lower emissions. The latest Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) figures reveal that more than 50,000 new cars were registered in the first four months of the year, an increase of 38 per cent compared with 36,816 for the first four months of 2009. Cars in the lowest emissions bands (A and B) now account for 75 per cent of all new sales and diesel engines are out-selling petrol at 69 per cent compared to 27 per cent. SIMI claims that the move to greener cars has generated an extra €60m in VAT and VRT and already saved 20,000 in CO2 emissions this year so far.
Eagles threatened by spate of poisonings
Efforts to reintroduce the White Tailed Sea Eagle to the Killarney National Park area took another blow over the weekend when another male eagle was found poisoned in the foothills of the Macgillacuddy Reeks. Toxicology tests revealed the poison involved is Carbofuran, a banned pesticide used in traps by farmers to poison foxes and crows during lambing season. Another male white-tailed eagle released in Killarney National Park in 2008 was found in the River Laune near Beaufort on April 4 and a second male white-tailed eagle released in 2007 was found on land in Beaufort on April 14. Other protected birds, including three Red Kites, a golden eagle, three buzzards and a peregrine falcon, were found over the past few weeks around the country. An investigation is ongoing by the Department of Agriculture and gardaí in Killarney.
Junior cert reform under review
A radical overhaul of the Junior Cert is likely as officials in The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) are closely studying school systems in other countries. The system of lower secondary education where a curriculum is followed for three years and assessed almost entirely by exams is likely to be replaced by a greater emphasis on continuous assessment and an exam element consisting of three or four core subjects. There is a consensus among education officials, teachers and students that too many subjects are involved in the curriculum, with not enough emphasis placed on learning key skills such as literacy and numeracy. One of the most radical NCCA proposals involves the freedom for schools to devise some or all of their own courses. The education officer attached to the secondary teachers’ union ASTI said teachers would be open to reform, but she said that the changes must by properly resourced. The switch to a new junior education system would represent the biggest overhaul in second level education in over twenty years.
Some of Ireland’s best-known musicians held a fundraising gig at the home of Clannad in Gweedore, Co Donegal on Monday night to protest the construction of an overhead power line across the county. The event was held at Leo’s Tavern, owned by Moya Brennan’s father, and featured Paul Brady, Mundy, Mairead Ní Mhaonaigh of Altan, and Glen Hansard. The proceeds of the first in a series of concerts, which will culminate in a large event in September, will go to the Alternative to Pylons (ATP) group. ATP is calling for the 102km line to be put underground, claiming it will cross some of Donegal’s most scenic landscape. Work on the power line is due to commence this summer.
Bono pledges €5m for music tuition programme
U2 frontman Bono is to contribute €5m to the National Music Education Programme, an initiative designed to give young musicians access to tuition. Speaking at the fund’s 35th anniversary celebration in New York this week, Bono revealed one of the big disappointments of his youth was when a piano was taken from his grandmother’s house but that he was fortunate to go on to a school with a dedicated music facility. He said he hopes the NMEP, which is co-funded by the international charity The Ireland Funds, will inspire Ireland’s young musicians, who might not otherwise get access to valuable teaching.
Shannon Airport faces bleak future
Dr John O’Connell, an aviation expert based at Cranfield University in the UK has warned that Shannon Airport would be deserted in the near future if current trend continues in the way the transatlantic route is operated out of Ireland. Since 2006 Shannon’s share of transatlantic traffic has dropped by over 42 per cent and now accounts for only 21 per cent of the transatlantic route. Dr O’Connell said that since the Open Skies agreement in 2006 US airlines have transferred most of their capacity to Dublin and will continue to do so over the coming years. Shannon’s hopes may rest with Aer Lingus and the fact that the State owns 25 per cent of the company. Keeping the Shannon-US route open could hinge on political pressure being brought to bear on Aer Lingus to keep the route open.
Companies failing at alarming rate
According to the website InsolvencyJournal.ie, four companies went bust every day during April. The website operated by Insolvency firm Kavanagh Fennell logged 147 insolvencies in March but this figure dropped to 125 in April. Construction firms are the hardest hit. Some 42 per cent of the insolvent companies were in the Dublin area. Among the other sectors hit were the motor trade with eight insolvencies and another eight in the manufacturing sector. If present trends continue then 2010 will exceed 2009 and its total number of insolvencies of 1,406.
Irish economy forecast to grow in 2011
In spite of this week’s euro zone crisis, the EU Commission has forecast that the Irish economy will grow by 3% next year, one of the highest levels of growth predicted for the coming year. However, the Commission says the economy will fall by 0.9% this year, which is an upward revision from a previous forecast for a 1.4% fall. The Government reported a €6.96bn deficit for the first four months of the year, down on the same period of last year when the deficit was €7.3bn. Tax revenues for the period fell to €9bn from €10bn the previous year, but was more or less on line with Government estimates. Income tax yielded €3.5bn for the period but this was 2.5% below target. All other tax categories were in line with predictions except corporation tax which was 22 per cent above target at €307m and stamp duties were 20 per cent below target at €187m. Alan McQuaid of Bloxham Stockbrokers said that if the Government can continue to move in the direction it has taken then there are grounds to be optimistic that the public finances can be stabilised over the coming years.
Anglo moves loans to NAMA
Anglo Irish Bank began transferring €10bn of loans to the Government vehicle NAMA over the weekend. The nominal price of the loans that NAMA paid was in the region of €4bn. This translates into a ‘haircut’ of roughly 55%. The first phase of loans transferred will belong to the top 10 borrowers from Anglo, who are being asked to submit detailed business plans to the agency soon. The first phase will see €16bn worth of loans moved and NAMA expects to discount these loans at up to 49%.
Diageo finds Irish market “challenging”
Diageo, the London based drinks manufacturer, announced this week that they recorded better than expected sales worldwide for Quarter 1 but went on to describe the Irish market as “challenging”. Diageo, which owns the Guinness brand as well as Smirnoff vodka and Captain Morgan rum has put on hold their €650m investment in new Irish facilities. This means that the breweries in Kilkenny and Dundalk that were due to close will remain open for the time being. Action on the new investments will not now be made until there is some recovery in the economy.
Uncertain future for Eircom
Stevie Fitzpatrick, General Secretary of the Communications Workers Union, warned that there is a real possibility that Eircom could collapse within six months due to the “perilous” financial position of the company and the continued loss of its customer base. Mr Fitzpatrick said the Eircom’s new owners, Singapore Technologies Telemedia (STT) had to service a debt of over €4bn and that the Government need to support the company. Members of Mr Fitzpatrick's union are among the beneficiaries of the Employee Share Ownership Plan (ESOP) which owns 35% of the company. Eircom, which employs 5,500 people, said in a statement that they had reduced operating costs by €130m (17 per cent) since 2007/8 and that they were confident that they would service their debt appropriately.
Monday provided a promising start to the week with sunshine for the most part and temperatures in the mid teens. Tuesday was mainly cloudy and dry overall although the drop in temperature to 10 degrees made it feel distinctly more wintry than recent days. Wednesday was mostly cloudy with occasional patches of drizzle but mostly dry overall with a few bright spells. Temperatures were a little higher than recent days, with highest values between 12 and 16 degrees. Thursday started out wet and while there were a few showers during the day, the late afternoon and evening provided bright weather. Friday was a much cooler day and it felt quite chilly in a moderate to fresh northeasterly wind.
Latest Temperatures: Day 14C (57F).................Night 6C (43F)
Ladies Football NFL Division One Final
Cork 2-10 Galway 1-9
Airtricity Premier Division
Bohemians 1 Drogheda 0
Dundalk 2 Shamrock Rovers 1
UCD 1 St Patrick’s Ath 0
Galway Utd 0 Sligo Rovers 0
Sporting Fingal 1 Bray Wanderers 0
Bray Wanderers 0 UCD 6
Drogheda Utd 1 Sporting Fingal 1
Shamrock Rovers 2 Galway Utd 0
St Patrick’s Ath 1 Dundalk 0
Sligo 1 Bohemians 2
Ospreys 42 Dragons 10
Scarlets 32 Glasgow 37
Ulster 41 Connacht 10
Cardiff 13 Munster 12
Leinster 37 Edinburgh 28
AIB League Division One Final
Cork Con 17 St Mary’s 10
At the Italian Open the only Irish player to finish the weekend was Gareth Maybin. He finished on -2, which was 14 shots behind the winner, Frederick Anderson Hed.
Meanwhile at Sawgrass Rory McIlroy was brought crashing down to earth as he missed the cut along with Padraig Harrington. The best of the Irish was Graeme McDowell who finished -5.
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