Archive | December, 2008

Restrictions On Romanians And Bulgarians To Remain

31 Dec

By J. P. Anderson:

WORK RESTRICTIONS on Romanian and Bulgarian citizens are to be renewed by the Government tomorrow for a further three years due to the economic downturn.

The UK, Germany and Austria have in the past week also confirmed they are to retain labour market restrictions for citizens of both states despite a recommendation from the European Commission that they be lifted.

The Government’s decision, which was confirmed at the final Cabinet meeting of the year, means Bulgarians and Romanians will be required to secure a work permit in order to take up a job here.

However, Minister of State for Labour Affairs Billy Kelleher said their permit applications would be given preference over those from non-European economic area states.

While the Irish experience of immigration had been a positive one, Mr Kelleher pointed to the "considerable challenges" raised by the global economic downturn as one of the main factors behind the Government’s decision.

It also took into account the views of trade unions and employer groups, as well as other EU member states.

The Romanian and Bulgarian governments had lobbied to have the restrictions lifted, and argued that they were discriminatory and treated them as second-class EU members.

The European Commission took a similar line. In November it published a report which concluded that the overall impact of post-enlargement mobility had been positive.

Migrant workers had helped to meet higher demand for labour in the receiving countries and contributed to economic growth without significantly displacing local workers or driving down their wages, it suggested.

The report called on the EU’s western member states to remove remaining labour market restrictions on workers from the newer member states "as quickly as possible".

"The right to work in another country is a fundamental freedom for people in the EU.

"Migrant workers move to where there are jobs available and this benefits the economy," said employment commissioner Vladimír Špidla.

"Lifting restrictions now would not only make economic sense but would also help reduce problems such as undeclared work and bogus self-employment."

(Editor’s note: At a time when Ireland cannot accommodate it’s own native population with jobs, education, health, housing and many other services, it is most unlikely that we are going to invite into our country ‘more beggars’ to litter the streets of our cities and towns.

The matter of inward migration into Ireland will be a major stumbling block to government success in the proposed second constitutional referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

Other related issues that will impact on that referendum will be the now serious involvement of West African Gangs in the importation and supply of drugs such as heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine into and through Ireland.

Yet, other related issues of migrant involvement in different types of trans-national crime including drug-trafficking and people-trafficking are issues which may well see a ‘NO’ vote being returned in the proposed second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

Domestic considerations in addition, directly related to the current recession ‘which may well last for a decade or more are unlikely to endear voters to the idea of ‘adopting’ more overseas migrants to act as additional ‘yellow pack workers’ or/and beggars, junkies and a general criminal class of kite, which will lay claim to jobs, health services, houses and education that are not available to the native Irish population.

The departure of Ireland from EU membership could indeed be now on the cards).

Accused Husband Granted Bail In Celine Cawley Murder Case

31 Dec

By J. P. Anderson:

THE HIGH Court has approved bail conditions for a man charged with the murder of his wife in Howth, Co Dublin, two weeks ago.

Eamon Lillis (51) was granted bail in his own bond of €150,000 during a High Court sitting at Cloverhill Court in Dublin yesterday.

Mr Lillis, of Rowan Hill, Windgate Road, Howth, is charged with killing Celine Cawley (46) at their home on December 15th.

Judge Patrick McCarthy consented to the terms of bail agreed between Mr Lillis’s representative Michael O’Higgins SC and barrister Gráinne O’Neill, for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

During a brief hearing, Judge McCarthy consented that Mr Lillis be released on his own bond of €150,000, of which €75,000 was to be lodged. An independent surety of €50,000 or two sureties of €25,000 were also sought under the conditions of bail.

The conditions also stated that Mr Lillis must reside at his Howth home or at an address agreed with gardaí, and that he must sign on at Howth Garda station between the hours of 9am and 9pm daily.

It was requested that a copy of the bail order be made available by 10am today as Mr Lillis’s representatives wanted him to be committed to bail as soon as possible.

Ms Cawley, a mother of one, died as a result of injuries she received during an attack at the rear of the family home. A post-mortem on her body concluded that she had died of head injuries consistent with being hit a number of times with a heavy object.

Detectives investigating the murder believe a bloodstained brick found near her body was used as a weapon.

Ms Cawley was the founder and managing director of Toytown Films, an independent television company producing advertisements for major global brands since 1990.

Mr Lillis, a television producer, was arrested in Howth on December 20th and taken to Clontarf Garda station for questioning, and the DPP directed that he be charged with the murder the following morning. He was remanded in custody for two weeks following a hearing at Cloverhill District Court on Tuesday last week.

Cork: Public Alert Issued Following Meningitis Death

31 Dec

By J. P. Anderson:

THE HEALTH Service Executive has warned parents to be on the lookout for signs of meningitis following the death of a two-year-old girl from the disease in Cork over Christmas, writes Barry Roche.

The girl from Glanmire was rushed to Cork University Hospital on Christmas Day, but died shortly afterwards. Her death is the second from the disease in Cork in 2008.

There have been 29 confirmed cases of bacterial meningitis in Cork and Kerry in 2008 compared to 15 last year. Of these, 13 were in Cork county, 11 were in Cork city, with the other five in Co Kerry.

HSE South consultant in public health medicine Dr Fiona Ryan urged parents to be vigilant for signs of the disease, which can affect children and adults as well as babies. “Babies may have a high temperature, be fretful or difficult to wake, have a high pitched or moaning cry and have cold hands and feet, and they may have a rash of red or purple spots or bruises.”

Symptoms in children and adults include headache, vomiting, drowsiness or a dislike of bright lights.

Kilkenny: Gardai Probe If House Fire Mother Was Strangled

31 Dec

By J. P. Anderson:

THE FUNERALS of a young mother and two children found dead after a house fire on Christmas Day are to take to place tomorrow.

The bodies of Sharon Whelan (30) and her daughters Zsara (7) and Nadia (2) were released last night from Waterford Regional Hospital, where they had been the subject of lengthy post-mortem examinations.

Gardaí are now investigating the possibility that Ms Whelan was strangled before fire swept through their isolated farmhouse about two kilometres from the village of Windgap, Co Kilkenny, on Christmas morning. Garda technical experts were still examining the remains of the farmhouse yesterday and the road past the house was sealed off because of a gable in danger of imminent collapse.

Officially gardaí have not upgraded their investigation to a murder inquiry, but marks on Ms Whelan’s neck suggest it may not have been a tragic accident as was first thought. A series of toxicology and other tests have been carried out on her body over the last few days.

Ms Whelan’s family have been anxious to have a funeral for their daughter and two grandchildren since their deaths on Christmas morning.

A private Rosary will be held at Molloy’s funeral home in Callan tonight. The removal from Molloy’s and funeral Mass will take place tomorrow morning at St Nicholas Church in Windgap, with burial afterwards to the adjoining cemetery.

Ms Whelan’s uncle, Pat Hayes, said the release of the bodies would be a help to the family.

"It’s a big, big relief. It’s been very hard for Christy and Nancy [Ms Whelan’s parents]. They can move on a bit now and get to the other side of this," he said.

Mr Hayes said the family knew no more about the status of the investigation than what appeared in various media over the last couple of days.

"Gardaí won’t go any further but to tell us that is all speculation," he said. "It is a bit irritating not being told anything. Every newspaper is suggesting there has been an upgrade in the investigation, but the gardaí are simply telling the family that everything in the paper is just speculation.

"When you go from a tragic accident to saying that they are keeping an open mind, it does suggest that something serious has changed in the investigation," he said.

Four Knife Crime Deaths Over The Christmas Period

31 Dec

By J. P. Anderson:

THE KILLING of a 22-year-old man in Co Kilkenny yesterday brought to four the number of people who have died following stabbing attacks in the Republic over the Christmas period.

A fifth man was seriously injured after being stabbed in Dublin city centre yesterday afternoon.

In response to the attacks, Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern has said he will bring forward new legislation to outlaw some weapons and upgrade some knife crimes.

Michael "Blunt" Brennan from Church Avenue, Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny, died after being stabbed at his uncle’s house in the town at about 3.30am yesterday.

An 18-year-old woman was arrested in connection with the death.

Stephen Quigley (24), originally from Kilkerley, Dundalk, Co Louth, was found dead in a laneway off Avenue Road in Dundalk just before midnight last Saturday. He had been stabbed repeatedly in the neck and heart.

Also on the same date, Ali Ibraham Lal, a 17-year-old Somali national, was stabbed to death at a refugee centre in Limerick, the Sarsfield Inn Hostel on Sarsfield Street.

Farah Redouane (21), a Moroccan national with an address at the same centre, was charged with his murder.

On Christmas Day, a 29-year-old man from Lithuania died from multiple stab wounds at Summerhill in Nenagh, Co Tipperary. He has not yet been named. Egidijus Kiaulakis (28), also from Lithuania and with an address in Nenagh, was charged with his murder.

In Dublin yesterday, a 25- year-old man believed to be from Blanchardstown in west Dublin was attacked on George’s Quay near Tara Street train station shortly after midday. He was taken to St James’s Hospital and is currently in a serious but stable condition.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Ahern, said he intended to bring forward proposals as soon as possible in the Criminal Law Miscellaneous Provisions Bill to further strengthen legislation in relation to knife crime.

"Specifically, I am developing proposals to increase search powers and outlaw items such as Samurai swords," Mr Ahern said.

He said he also intended to provide that less serious offences involving knives, such as possession, which can only be dealt with summarily at present, can also be dealt with on indictment – thereby incurring heavier penalties.

Fine Gael spokesman on Justice Charlie Flanagan said the use of knives has become a badge of honour among some young men. "The law needs to take a stronger line on carrying knives without justification," he said.

In a Private Members Bill presented to the Dáil last month, Mr Flanagan proposed a sentence of up to seven years in prison for carrying a knife in public without lawful reason.

He has also called on the Government and Garda to introduce a "crackdown" on knives and offensive weapons particularly in known crime hotspots. He said samurai swords were available in Dublin over the counter for as little as €70.

In Belfast, three men were also stabbed during an attack yesterday. They were taken to hospital after a confrontation in a bar at Cupar Street Lower, off the Falls Road in west Belfast.

Gardaí are tonight continuing to question a woman (18) who was arrested in relation to the fatal stabbing of a man at a house party in Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny.

The man (22), who was from the area, was discovered after emergency services were called to the house at around 4am. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Gardaí arrested the woman at the house and took her to Killkenny Garda station where she is being questioned under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.

The house was sealed off by the Garda Technical Bureau and the Deputy State Pathologist Michael Curtis carried out an initial examination before the victim’s body was taken away.

Gambia: Prison Sentence On Missionaries An Outrage Against Human Rights

31 Dec

By J. P. Anderson:

Two British missionaries who pleaded guilty to sedition charges have been sentenced to one year in prison with hard labour in Gambia.

David and Fiona Fulton were arrested last month in the West African country after allegedly sending a letter to individuals and groups criticising Gambia’s government.

The pair pleaded guilty and were sentenced and also fined £6,250 each.

Mr Fulton, 60, worked as a chaplain in the Gambian army and his wife, 46, looked after terminally ill people and visited women in their homes and in hospital.

The pair were arrested at their home in Kerr Sering, an hour’s drive from Banjul in the African bush.

"We are seeking clarity as to what hard labour means in this context. It is a decision for the Fultons with their legal representative as to whether they appeal this judgement or not," a spokesman for the Foreign Office said.

"Mr and Mrs Fulton have not raised any concerns over their welfare with us. Consular staff in the Gambia will continue to visit Mr and Mrs Fulton whilst they are being detained.

"If Mr or Mrs Fulton raise concerns over their treatment, we can take these up with the relevant authorities."

Mr Fulton, a former British Army major originally from Troon, Scotland, and Mrs Fulton, originally from Torquay, Devon, were arrested on November 29.

The pair were held separately following their arrests and were not granted bail.

Mr Fulton was detained at high-security Mile Two prison outside the capital Banjul. It is described as a "tough" former colonial jail built during the days of the British Empire.

Mrs Fulton was held with their two-year-old adopted daughter Elizabeth at a police station in the capital.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said consular staff in Gambia checked the welfare of the Fultons’ daughter.

He said: "At no point was she under arrest. She was being kept with Mrs Fulton at Mrs Fulton’s request. Mrs Fulton made alternative arrangements for her and she is being cared for by a family friend in the family home.

"It will be a decision for the Fultons to make about who should now care for their children. We will help to ensure they have the information they need to make this decision."

Gambia is a former British colony and has been ruled by the same regime after Yahya Jammeh claimed presidency following a military coup in 1994.

The president’s record on

human rights and civil freedoms has been questioned after a crackdown on government critics.

(Editor’s note: Please copy).

Big Rise In Homeless Male Migrants Sleeping Rough

30 Dec

By J. P. Anderson:

They came here seeking their fortune but life in Ireland didn’t live up to the dream. Ruadhán Mac Cormaic reports

TADEUSZ DOESN’T say as much, but his story of a lifetime spent revelling in the journey and the prospect of open roads offers a knowing counterpoint to the life he lives now.

A former ambulance driver from western Poland, he tells fondly of the years spent crossing the continent as a lorry driver, and of the decision to pack it in and come to Ireland in 2004, when thousands of his compatriots were doing the same.

"Every man likes travelling – the journey, the discovery – all of this," he says in his calm, deliberate way.

"Before coming here, I looked for information about Ireland and Irish people. I knew there would be good jobs and a good future. But I had some bad luck and everything I found is just problems."

Work came quickly in Dublin, but the cash-in-hand lorry driver’s job he landed in the first few weeks paid a paltry €5 an hour and lasted no more than a few months.

Tadeusz hasn’t been in steady work since, and it’s now almost three years since he started sleeping on the streets.

At first, he tried some of the homeless hostels, but too many of the men he met were drug addicts and he didn’t fancy the atmosphere.

So for over a year he camped in the Phoenix Park, hiding his tent in some bushes each morning while he searched for an employer who would take a chance on a man with no address.

None did, and before long his tent was stolen and he had taken to sleeping in sheltered doorways and alleyways in the city.

He showers once a week and takes meals at some of the homeless support centres that operate walk-in services in the capital.

When night draws in, he explains, the important thing is to find a patch of dry ground protected from the wind and rain.

"I just put some paper on the ground to insulate, then my jacket, that’s all. Everyone tells me it is very cold, but not for me. Much more important to me is that it’s quiet, peaceful and calm," he says.

Most of his days are spent walking the streets, one of his few possessions a tattered plastic bag bulging with copper coins collected from ticket machines and pay-phones, or picked up from the street.

Tadeusz and his wife divorced years ago, but he speaks with the children – his son is 20, his daughter 14 – from time to time, and hopes one day to raise enough money to bring them over for a visit.

Tall, lean, a few years short of his 50th birthday, he has about him a disarming calm and self-awareness; his voice never rises and he rarely sounds bitter.

At the morning drop-in service run by Trust, a charity that provides food, showers and basic medical care to homeless people in Dublin, meanwhile, Arthur and Witold are cupping soup in their hands, chatting with the other Poles who have come this morning.

(Almost half of the men in the room are from central and eastern Europe.)

Their stories are variations of one another’s, each replete with dashed hopes, broken marriages and an open space where plans might lie.

"I haven’t got anybody in Poland," says Arthur, an electrician whose badly injured foot has kept him out of work for years. He returned home last spring to visit his mother’s grave, but there was nothing to keep him there.

"My parents have died. I don’t have any family. I don’t even have a dog there."

Arthur has known only struggle in Ireland, but for Witold – a middle-aged builder from Gdansk in northern Poland – there first came the sort of success that most of his compatriots have enjoyed here.

A job on the M50 extension works gave him a steady income and covered the rent on a comfortable house he shared in Rathcoole.

But since that ended and his savings ran dry, he has been sleeping rough and visiting homeless services every day.

He has two sons, aged 23 and 17, but like many of the men here, he has all but lost contact with them, and it pains him to think of it.

"One of my sons got married and didn’t tell me. I’m a grandfather but I have never seen the child.

"And I don’t know if my parents are alive or not."

Some names have been changed at the request of individuals

FOREIGN NATIONALS accounted for 38 per cent of rough sleepers in Dublin this year, compared to 9 per cent in 2005, a dramatic increase noted in a report by the Homeless Agency Partnership this month.

This shift is at odds with the general trend, with the number of adults reporting that they are sleeping rough having fallen by 41 per cent over the same period. But it confirms anecdotal evidence from homeless organisations of a significant increase in the numbers of foreign nationals availing of their services.

Alice Leahy, director of the charity Trust, estimated that up to 50 per cent of Trust users were now non-Irish, with large numbers of men between 30 and 50 years of age using its services.

"We hear terribly sad stories of people who have lost their jobs, lost their partners, and many of them have been badly treated," she said.

Among Trust’s foreign clients are many who speak no English and ran out of savings before they could find regular work.

Immigrants’ entitlements are limited by the habitual residence condition, a measure introduced by the Government in May 2004 due to fears of "welfare tourism" among citizens of the 10 states that joined the EU that month. It means that, in general, foreign nationals cannot claim unemployment benefit or other social assistance payments unless they have been resident in the State for two years.

Although the system was reformed in 2006 to provide supplementary welfare payments to those who have worked previously, and officials have been given some discretion in deciding on applications, support groups claim the condition partly explains the increase in homeless figures.

"While community welfare officers have been given discretion, discretion isn’t really enough because some of them exercise it in a parsimonious way. That’s why so many people end up getting stuck in homelessness," said Tony Geoghegan, chief executive of Merchants Quay Ireland, which provides services to homeless people and drug users.

Those who do not satisfy the criteria for the habitual residence condition are also denied access to some emergency and long-term housing said Noel Sherry of Focus Ireland. "So what happens to them next? What happens to them, more and more, is that they turn to friends and sleep on sofas, but sooner or later that stretches itself and they’re getting closer and closer to hitting the street."

Some 50-60 per cent of those who avail of the breakfast service run by Merchants Quay each morning are foreign nationals, but the organisation is also seeing a cross-over into drug use, with increasing numbers of foreigners visiting its needle exchange.