Archive | September, 2008

Public Can Report Drug Dealers Anonymously On Free-Phone

30 Sep

By J. P. Anderson:

Members of the public have been urged to call a free-phone number to report drug dealing or suspected drug dealing in their localities.

Under the scheme, members of the public can call 1800 220 220 and report drug dealing anonymously. The individual will not be asked for their name, address or any other information that might identify them.

The information gathered is passed directly to the Garda.

The roll-out of the campaign follows a pilot project run by the Blanchardstown Local Drugs Task Force in 2006 when the State’s first ever non-Garda confidential phone line was used to collect information on drug dealing in the Dublin 15 area.

The "Dial to Stop Drug Dealing" initiative was unveiled this morning by Minister of State John Curran and Assistant Garda Commissioner Al McHugh.

“I am calling on any person with information on drug dealing in their local area, be it first or second hand information, to call,” said Mr Curran. “I would urge communities involved in the campaign to make the most of this service and to take control of the future of their communities. We cannot let the dealers determine the lives of future generations.”

Assistant Commissioner McHugh stated court actions were pending because of the success of the campaign in Blanchardstown.

“This national initiative is about getting at the big dealers who are targeting our young people and destroying communities. People can reclaim their communities by using this safe and confidential mechanism to pass on their information," he said.

The campaign will be rolled out in a series of local campaigns in a number of local or regional drugs task force areas around the country. Phase One areas will include: Tallaght, Blanchardstown, Co Kildare (Celbridge, Naas, Athy and Newbridge), Dublin North East area (including Coolock, Donaghmede, Kilbarrack, Clarehall, Clonshaugh and Howth) and Dublin’s north inner city.

A poll published at today’s event revealed 64 per cent of people identified drugs as a main social problem in their area. Some 56 per cent of people reported they were very likely or somewhat likely to call a non-Garda confidential telephone number to give information on drug activity in their area.

1800 220 220 – www.garda.ie

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Dublin: Palmerstown Murder Victim Named

30 Sep

By J. P. Anderson:

The man whose body was found in west Dublin last week, and who had been stabbed a number of times, has been named by gardaí.

David White was 35 years old, single and from New Cabra Road in Dublin.

His body was formally identified last night after gardaí made a fresh appeal for information.

The victim was not named until all his relatives had been informed of his death.

Mr White is believed to have worked as a security guard and was not previously know to gardaí.

He had been attacked in a derelict cemetery behind Stewart’s Hospital off Mill Lane in Palmerstown and stabbed a number of times.

His body was found there on Friday evening by a local man walking his dog.

However, a post-mortem examination indicated he had died between 24 and 48 hours prior to that.

Gardaí say he was probably killed at the scene.

No one has yet been arrested in connection with the death.

www.garda.ie

Irish Government Place Unlimited Guarantee On All Bank Deposits

30 Sep

By J. P. Anderson:

The Irish Government has placed an unlimited two-year guarantee on all deposits and certain debt in six Irish banks in a move designed to “safeguard the Irish financial system”.

The move effectively removes the deposit protection limit of €100,000 introduced by the Government just two weeks ago and comes after yesterday’s record losses for Irish financial stocks with Anglo Irish Bank shares falling 46 per cent. Banking shares fell 26 per cent on the Iseq yesterday.

The measure has had an immediate impact with Irish banking shares rising sharply in the first hour of trading today. At 8.40am bank shares were up between 10 and 28 per cent, with Irish Life and Permanent the highest gainer. The Dublin market was just over 3 per cent higher.

Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan explained the move was designed to “secure the stability of our banking system” as it was becoming increasingly difficult for banks to secure funds on world markets.

“If funds are not secured by the Irish banks it would be a very, very serious matter for economic life in this country. I think every, business, every worker knows how short those funds have been in the past year. If they dry up entirely that is very, very serious for Ireland,” he told RTÉ radio.

The Minister added the Government has “drawn up contingency plans for every scenario” or difficulty that Irish banks may face, but he declined to elaborate.

He denied the measure was a “bailout” of Irish banks, saying the facility was subject to a charge or a levy. The level of that charge will be set by the Central Bank, he said.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Fine Gael Finance spokesman Richard Bruton, said: “There are huge lessons for regulation that have come out of this. Those lessons have to be applied, and they have to be applied in the medium term because now with the State acting as guarantee on these deposits, Ireland has to have . . . a different regulatory system.”

Commenting on the cost of the guarantee to the banks, Mr Bruton said: “The basis upon which charge will be calculated is an important question that needs to be answered in the course of the day, and the Government, in my view, had to make this move.”

“The move seems to be having a steadying effect, but we have to make sure that it has also protected taxpayers and to make sure that this doesn’t become licence for poor lending practices in the future – that means there has to be regulatory change with immediate effect,” he added.

In a statement, Labour spokeswoman on finance Joan Burton said that the Dáil and public will require "far more information" than what was the "brief statement" from the Department of Finance before judgment can be passed.

"This is by any standards an extraordinary development that may result in an exposure of as much as €400bn for the Irish taxpayer," she said.

Ms Burton added: "The speed with which the Government has moved to rescue the banking sector is in stark contrast to the blanket refusal to assist other sectors of the Irish economy that have been in trouble and in particular to their total indifference to the plight of the 70,000 workers who have lost their jobs in the last year alone."

The Labour TD said Mr Lenihan had to come into the Dáil today to outline full details of the plan.

Siptu president Jack O’Connor said the move by Mr Lenihan "essentially represents an exercise in shoring up the pyramid" but added that the "gilt edged guarantee" will build confidence.

"However, there is an aspect of this that is particularly objectionable to ordinary people. It entails guarantees to those who have insisted for years on a ruthless free market for everyone else but are not able to play by the same rules themselves," Mr O’Connor said.

"Instead they are relying on the blackmail of potential economic catastrophe to be given an each-way bet at the expense of ordinary taxpayers."

He continued: "There should be no golden parachute for profligacy, and financial institutions should be obliged to pay the Irish taxpayer at a premium rate for this gilt edged guarantee.”

The Government was guaranteeing liabilities of about €500 billion compared with the country’s national debt of €45 billion, estimated Scott Rankin, an analyst at securities firm Davy. Irish GDP is about €190 billion.

"This is a massive step by the Government to alleviate financial stress in the domestic system,” Eamonn Hughes, head of research with Goodbody Stockbrokers, wrote in a note.

"This presumably puts the Irish banks in better shape to seek funding compared with other non-guaranteed banks in international capital markets.”

Ireland’s decision follows action by governments worldwide to prevent more bank failures amid the freeze in credit markets.

The Government said the guarantee extends to Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland, Anglo Irish Bank, Irish Life and Permanent and Ppermanent tsb bank, Irish Nationwide Building Society and the Educational Building Society.

It will also extend to subsidiaries of these banks, following consultation with the Central Bank and the Financial Regulator.

It does not extend to deposits in National Irish Bank, ACC, Rabobank or Ulster Bank which are subsidiaries of large international banks.

All deposits are covered by the guarantee including retail, commercial, institutional and interbank deposits, as are bonds, senior debt and dated subordinated debt.

It also covers all money borrowed by Irish banks from other financial institutions. The guarantee takes effect immediately and will expire at midnight on September 28th, 2010.

“The decision has been taken by Government to remove any uncertainty on the part of counterparties and customers of the six credit institutions,” the Department of Finance said in a statement.

It said the unlimited guarantee was designed to “remedy a serious disturbance in the economy caused by the recent turmoil in the international financial markets”.

On September 20th, the week that US investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed, the Government raised the State guarantee limit on deposits to €100,000 from €20,000.

Childhood Tasting May Cause Alcohol Dependency

30 Sep

By J. P. Anderson:

PARENTS who introduce their children to alcohol in the hope of encouraging responsible drinking might instead be turning them into heavy drinkers, new research suggests.
A study found drinking before the age of 15 increased a child’s risk of becoming a heavy drinker.
The results challenge the belief that giving youngsters small amounts of wine at home will enable them to grow up with a more mature attitude to drink.
A teenager’s fast-developing brain becomes programmed to link alcohol with pleasure, experts believe.

The study, from the US government’s alcohol research unit, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, examined the age at which 22,000 young people first tasted alcohol.
Research shows by the age of seven most children will have tasted alcohol.
Those examined were divided into three groups: those who had their first drink under 15, those who did so between 15 and 17 and those who waited until they were 18 or over.
Those that had their first taste of alcohol before the age of 15 had a much higher risk of alcohol dependency in later life.
This link remained even when they took into account factors like duration of alcohol exposure, family history and a wide range of other risk factors.
Research also shows the likelihood of developing alcohol-use disorders in adulthood is about 50% higher for people who start drinking before the age of 15 as for those who abstain until they are 18 or older.
Deborah Dawson, research scientist at the institute, said: “We can see for the first time the association between an early ‘age of first drink’ and an increased risk of alcohol use disorders that persists into adulthood.”
Howard Moss, also of the institute, said the study showed it was important to delay the onset of drinking as late as possible.

ONE in five Irish people drink “excessively” every week, with a significant number of the population drinking far more than international health recommendations.
Research by the department of general practice at UCC shows that despite the vast majority of Irish people believing they have normal consumption levels, our unwanted reputation as a nation of drunks continues to have a grain of truth to it.
According to the research — based on the responses of 115 UCC students and 133 graduates to questions about their weekly drinking habits — a series of “dramatic changes” in recent decades has led to young people consuming far more alcohol than recommended.

While graduates felt that a weekly drinking level of 18 units was acceptable, the study has shown that students will consistently consume in excess of 26.5 units of alcohol per week.
Highest graduate consumption levels reached the outer parameters of World Health Organisation recommendations.
The WHO recommends women limit alcohol consumption to fewer than 14 units of alcohol per week and men to fewer than 21 units as part of a healthy lifestyle.
With alcohol consumption increasing per capita by 41% between 1989 and 2001, the researchers have concluded that Ireland’s drink problem now means our adults are among the highest consumers of alcohol in Europe — drinking an average of 14.3 litres of alcohol per year.
Despite high profile health warnings, the researchers have warned that “Irish people continue to drink excessively”. This situation, they added, “raises questions about the level of awareness of what constitutes an excess alcohol intake and potential effects of alcohol on health in the Irish population”.
A single unit of alcohol roughly equates to half a pint of beer, allowing for a drinking level of seven pints a week for women and 11 for men according to WHO guidelines.
However, the researchers have found that students are regularly drinking 26.5 units of alcohol a week — equal to about 14 pints.
“The report of the Strategic Task Force on Alcohol, from September 2004, recommended the provision of information and education to promote an understanding of alcohol use and its potential risks… From the above results we can conclude that the fulfilment of this aim is crucial,” the researchers noted.
“There is a definite awareness that as a nation we are drinking too much alcohol and to this end the campaigns are succeeding.
“However, the message is not registering with people at a personal level. Almost half of the people found to be drinking excessively in this study did not realise they were doing so.”

Flirting Rape Victims Blamed Disturbing Report

30 Sep

By J. P. Anderson

Almost one in two students in Northern Ireland believe women who flirt have only themselves to blame if they end up getting raped, according to new research by Amnesty International.

Amnesty said the attitudes of the students polled were disturbing.

In the study carried out by the human rights body Amnesty, 46% of the young people interviewed said rape victims who flirted with their attacker were partially, or totally responsible for what happened to them.

Nearly a third of those polled also said women who wear revealing clothing are also effectively inviting rapists to target them.

These figures are significantly higher than the findings of a similar UK-wide study.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty’s director in Belfast, said the survey showed there were some extremely disturbing attitudes swirling around our university campuses.

Amnesty has launched an awareness campaign in student unions and urged university heads to do more to tackle the problem of violence against women.

UK: System Failure As Millions Of Children ‘Face Poverty’

30 Sep

By J. P. Anderson

Millions of children are being "failed by the system" and living in or on the brink of poverty, it has been claimed.

Research by the Campaign to End Child Poverty found that in 174 of the 646 parliamentary constituencies across the UK, more than half the children live in poverty or are in families struggling on low incomes.

Pockets of the UK were in "turmoil" and millions more children than previously thought were being left behind, the campaign said.

Of the 13,233,320 children in the UK, 5,559,000 – more than a third – live in low-income families or families in poverty.

The research was compiled from Government statistics and also includes the numbers of children in families on Working Families Tax Credit.

Some 22% of children, or 2,895,000, are in families claiming the tax credit while 22% or 2,664,000 live in workless families.

In individual constituencies, Birmingham Ladywood came top with 81% or 28,420 children coming under the two classifications. The area is represented by former Labour and now independent MP Clare Short.

Within Ladywood, the ward of Aston has 87% of youngsters struggling to get by, the campaign said.

In his Labour Party Conference speech, Prime Minister Gordon Brown pledged to enshrine in law the Government’s ambitious target to end child poverty in the next 12 years.

He used his speech to the Labour conference to announce plans for "ground-breaking legislation" to end child poverty by 2020. It has been predicted that the government is in danger of missing its target of halving child poverty by 2010. The plan was announced by

Tony Blair in 1999.

UPDATE:

CHILDREN EXPERIENCE the worst outcomes in relation to poverty and deprivation because lone-parent households and those with large numbers of children are the most vulnerable to becoming dependent on social welfare.

That is the conclusion of a report published today by the ESRI, which explores the impact of poverty at different stages of people’s lives. The Life Cycle Perspective on Social Inclusion in Ireland, by Prof Christopher T Whelan and Bertrand Maître, uses 11 different sets of "lenses" to view the impact of poverty based on information such as age, marital status and presence of children.

This "life cycle" approach to viewing poverty was adopted in the national partnership process to better meet the needs of those at risk of poverty through planning and delivery of improved public services.

The research shows welfare dependency has the biggest impact on children, because other at-risk groups, like older people, can draw on other financial resources. Children in poverty, however, are more likely to be rooted in highly-deprived families, such as lone-parent households.

The latest official figures show 11 per cent of children experience consistent poverty, where they are deprived of essentials such as winter clothing or proper meals. A total of 20 per cent of children are "at risk" of poverty.

In contrast, adults under-50, living with a partner and without children, are the most advantaged group and are the best insulated against poverty. Other groups of working-age adults are at a much greater risk of poverty, such as lone parents and those living alone.

The picture for many older people is positive. Older people aged 65-plus and living with a partner are significantly below average levels of consistent poverty, the report shows. They report low levels of economic stress, but have a high probability of reporting health problems.

However, older people living alone are less well-placed than other older groups and are much more likely to be deprived, or at risk of poverty.

Overall, the report says these life-cycle perspectives draw attention to the multi-dimensional nature of social exclusion.

There are major differences in the extent of poverty among different groups when issues such as low levels of education and unemployment are factored in.

The main objective of the new study was to develop an understanding of the role that life-cycle factors play in shaping patterns of poverty and social exclusion in contemporary Irish society.

It says the ability of policy-makers to further develop the potential of this life-cycle perspective will be greatly enhanced by major studies such as the Growing Up in Ireland study and The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing.

A National Economic and Social Council report in 2005 on the developmental welfare state first drew attention to the need for policymakers to recognise the varying needs and expectations of individuals at different life stages.

It has called for new thinking in relation to income supports and public services at different life stages, and for the development of tailored support.

UK: Tories ‘End Walk_On_By Society’ As Man Is Murdered

30 Sep

By J. P. Anderson

The Tories will outline a plan to combat what they call Britain’s "walk-on-by society" today.

At the

Conservative Party‘s conference in Birmingham, shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve will accuse the Government of encouraging the public to avoid intervening to prevent crime.

In recent years, some have-a-go heroes have faced charges – leading to the suggestion that people now walk on by – because they are afraid they will be arrested for getting involved.

A TORY government, he will say, would encourage more citizens’ arrests by amending guidance to lawyers so that if a person acts "in good faith" to stop a crime they are less likely to be prosecuted.

Another announcement tackles what the shadow home secretary calls the health and safety culture in the police – driven by government "regulatory zeal".

One example he uses is the decision of Kent Police officers not to break up an illegal rave in May – because it was dark.

Mr Grieve says the Tories would amend the Police Reform Act so that "the risk to the public is prioritised above the risk to individual officers".

BUT:

Detectives are hunting for the killer of a top banking executive who died from head wounds after trying to break up a street fight.

Frank McGarahan, 45, who worked for Barclays Wealth, intervened in a brawl in Norwich city centre at 3am on Sunday.

Norfolk Police said Mr McGarahan, of Hertfordshire, had enjoyed a "quiet evening out" before the attack as he visited the city to attend a family christening.

He died on Monday in Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, from his injuries.

"The investigation into the incident continues and officers are reviewing closed circuit television footage from around the city centre area and following up a number of lines of inquiry," said a Norfolk Police spokesman.

A Barclay’s spokeswoman confirmed Mr McGarahan was chief operating officer of Barclays Wealth, which employs 7,700 staff in 20 countries and manages assets worth £133bn.

Detective Superintendent Chris Hobley said: "Norwich City Centre is generally a safe place and there were a number of people in the vicinity of the incident.

"We are very keen to hear from anyone who may have seen something or has any information."

:: Anyone with information about Mr McGarahan’s murder is asked to contact the major investigation team at Norfolk Constabulary on 0845 4564567 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.