Archive | December, 2009

Happy New Year To ALL My READERS 96,600 Hits Thank You

31 Dec

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL MY READERS AND THANK YOU ALL FOR 96,600 HITS.
Best Wishes From
J. P. in DUBLIN: IRELAND
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CALIFORNIA: Missing British Teenager Urged To Contact Police After The Arrest Of Her 45-year-old Boyfriend

31 Dec

POLICE APPEAL:

A British teenager missing in California is being urged to contact police following the arrest of her 45-year-old boyfriend.

Leona Dawn Perryman, 19, thought to be from Poole in Dorset, was last seen at around midnight on December 18 in Venice, Los Angeles. She had travelled to the United States with boyfriend Paul Atkinson, who reported her missing.

Atkinson then disappeared and did not return police phone calls, prompting a public appeal for help to trace him as a "subject of interest". He was apprehended on Wednesday at a restaurant in Venice after a member of the public spotted him.

Atkinson was arrested on suspicion of possessing a knife and Sergeant Jay Trisler, from Santa Monica Police Department, said tonight that he was still in custody.

The couple arrived in the United States on October 13 and planned to leave on January 7. Miss Perryman was staying at the Pacific Sands Hotel on Ocean Boulevard and left with a backpack, leaving her suitcase in the hotel.

Sgt Trisler said Atkinson was not arrested in connection with Miss Perryman’s disappearance.

"We still believe that there is no foul play here. We believe that she is out there somewhere and we are trying to get her to contact us or her parents," he said.

"We are basing that on Mr Atkinson’s statements and during their stay here this has happened before."

Miss Perryman has visited cities in Los Angeles including West Hollywood, Venice and Santa Monica.

Sgt Trisler said detectives were liaising with Dorset Police who were in contact with Miss Perryman’s family. A message on Miss Perryman’s Facebook page posted on December 22 from her mother said: "Leona ring home now when you read this xx mum."

BREAKING NEWS: Belfast: Cardinal Cahal Daly Dies At the Age Of 92: UPDATED

31 Dec

BREAKING NEWS:

CARDINAL CAHAL DALY HAS DIED IN BELFAST:

The former Catholic Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Cahal Daly has died in Belfast.

Aged 92, he served as a bishop for almost three decades based first in Longford, then in Belfast and finally in Armagh.

He became the hierarchy’s foremost theologian and its most trenchant critic of politically-inspired violence.

In 1996 when he turned 79, he resigned on age grounds and returned to writing and the study of philosophy.

As a child in North Antrim, Cahal Daly saw the IRA burn his home in an attack on police billeted next door.

Twenty years after ordination, the Queens University philosophy don became an advisor to the Second Vatican Council. At 50, he was made bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise.

During the troubles, he emerged as Maynooth’s most trenchant critic of politically-inspired violence. In 1979, he helped craft Pope John Paul’s Drogheda appeal to the IRA to embrace peaceful methods.

He was promoted to his native Down and Connor shortly after the hunger strikes began boosting Sinn Fein’s popularity.

Further promotion in 1990, to Armagh, saw the new Cardinal dogged by clerical child abuse scandals, beginning with the Fr Brendan Smyth case.

He responded that he had approved an approach to the RUC by a diocesan social worker about the sole allegation he had received against Smyth.

As the scandals multiplied, he said all Irish bishops were committed to immediately reporting allegations to the civil authorities. Months after guidelines to that effect were introduced, he resigned on age grounds.

He died believing that lasting peace was possible in Ireland.

Cardinal Seán Brady said Cardinal Daly died peacefully at the City Hospital in Belfast in the presence of family and friends.

He paid tribute to his predecessor, saying it was difficult to do full justice to the significance and achievements of his life, but his legacy to the ecclesiastical and civil history of Ireland will be seen as immense.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said Cardinal Daly strove tirelessly for peace and sanity in the midst of great turmoil.

Cardinal Daly is survived by his sister Rosaleen, his brother Paddy and sisters-in-law Barbara and Mavis, his nieces and nephews, and extended family.

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UPDATE:

The death has taken place of the former Catholic primate of all Ireland, Cardinal Cahal Daly. He was 92.

Dr Daly, Ireland’s most senior cardinal, was taken to the specialist coronary care unit of Belfast City Hospital on Monday. He passed away there this evening.

Dr Daly had served as bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise as well as Down and Connor before being appointed as Archbishop of Armagh and primate of all-Ireland. He retired in 1996, but continued to study and write since leaving Armagh.

Cardinal Daly was born in the village of Loughguile, on the edge of the Glens of Antrim, on October 1st, 1917, the third of seven children. His father was a primary school teacher originally from Keadue in Co Roscommon while his mother was from Co Antrim.

The cardinal was educated at the local national school and at St Malachy’s College, Belfast, where novelist Brian Moore was a contemporary.

He took a classics degree at Queen’s University and then moved to the national seminary at St Patrick’s College Maynooth. He was ordained in June 1941 for the Down and Connor diocese. He had said he does not remember any time when he did not want to be a priest

He received a doctorate in divinity from Maynooth in 1945 and in the early 1950s did post-graduate studies in philosophy at the Institut Catholique in Paris. He has had a lifelong affection for France and spent most of his holidays there.

Back in Belfast he became classics master at his old school, St Malachy’s, for a year before being appointed lecturer in scholastic philosophy at Queen’s University in 1946. It was a job he was to hold for 21 years. He became bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise in 1967 and was appointed to the diocese of Down and Connor, which includes Belfast, in 1982.

He was made archbishop of Armagh in November 1990 and elevated to cardinal the following year. He retired from Armagh in 1996 to be replaced by Archbishop Brady. Cardinal Daly took part in the conclave to appoint the current Pope Benedict in 2005 but did not vote on account of his age.

He wrote extensively on philosophy as well as on the conflict in Northern Ireland and continued to study after his retirement. He was prominent in the Irish Catholic bishops’ delegation to the New Ireland Forum in 1983 and contributed to the work of the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation, established after the first IRA ceasefire of 1994.

He is also believed to have been the author of Pope John Paul’s Drogheda speech in September 1979 appealing to the IRA to end its violence.

In a statement tonight, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said he was saddened to learn of the passing of Dr Daly. "Cardinal Daly was a man of great intellect and humanity. He made a huge contribution to both the Catholic Church and civic society in Ireland," he said.

Dr Daly was a trenchant supporter of peace, the Taoiseach added. "He was an outspoken critic of those who used violence to achieve political objectives. He gave strong backing to the emerging peace process in Northern Ireland and determinedly used his influence in every way he could to bring about a peaceful solution."

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said Dr Daly was a celebrated ecclesiast who "strove tirelessly for peace and sanity in the midst of great turmoil in the North".

The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, The Most Revd Alan Harper, said Dr Daly was a distinguished scholar as well as an outstanding leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland. "During the most challenging of times the Cardinal gave wise and courageous leadership both as Bishop of Down and Connor and subsequently as Archbishop of Armagh. He was a fearless and forthright champion of peace and justice, always speaking out unambiguously on community issues during the darkest days of the Troubles."

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OBITUARY: Cardinal Cahal Daly:

By PATSY MCGARRY and ANDY POLLAK:

Cardinal Cahal Daly was born in the village of Loughguile, near the Glens of Antrim, on October 1st, 1917.

He was the third of seven children. His father, a primary school teacher, originally came from Keadue, Co Roscommon, while his mother was from Co Antrim.

The family background was happy and devout with a strong emphasis on education. As a boy he was educated at the local national school and St Malachy’s College in Belfast, one of Northern Ireland’s foremost Catholic schools. Novelist Brian Moore was a contemporary there. He took a classics degree at Queen’s University under a man he greatly admired, the Presbyterian nationalist Professor of Latin, R.M.Henry.

Cahal Daly then attended the Catholic Church’s national seminary at Maynooth. He was ordained in June 1941 for the diocese of Down and Connor. He said he did not remember a time when he did not want to be a priest.

In 1945 he received a doctorate in divinity from Maynooth and in the early 1950s he did post- graduate studies in philosophy at the Institut Catholique in Paris. It was the beginning of a lifelong affection for France where he spent most of his holidays in later life.

Back in Belfast he became classics master at his old school, St Malachy’s, for a year before being appointed lecturer in scholastic philosophy at Queen’s University in 1946. It was a job he was to do for 21 years.

In the early 1960s he attended the Second Vatican Council, firstly as an adviser to Bishop William Philbin of Down and Connor, and then as theologian to the then Catholic Primate, Cardinal William Conway.

By then he was already establishing himself both as an authority on Vatican II and as one of the Irish Catholic Church’s foremost intellectuals, with a particular interest in social studies and moral philosophy.

He also showed an early interest in the media, becoming a member of BBC Northern Ireland’s religious advisory committee, the British Independent Television Authority’s advisory committee and then an RTÉ Catholic television interim committee.

In 1967 he was appointed Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, a midlands diocese covering parts of seven counties including Longford where St Mel’s cathedral and the bishop’s house is located. St Mel’s was badly burned in a fire on Christmas Eve. It was while he was based there that Cardinal Daly become one of the hierarchy’s most outspoken and widely-quoted members, producing a addresses on subjects as varied as emigration, industrial disputes, socialism, abortion, education and the gap between rich and poor.

But in 1969, with the outbreak of violence in Northern Ireland, he turned to the theme which would dominate the rest of his clerical career, political violence in Ireland.

One typical such year where this pre-occupation of his was concerned would be 1972. In his New Year’s Day address that year he urged a more balanced reading of history which would do greater justice to the contribution made to Irish freedom and democracy by peaceful and constitutional movements for change.

In May he spoke on a related theme, which he would emphasise again and again over the years, the impossibility of coercing nearly a million Northern Ireland unionists into a united Ireland. He believed, however, that they could be persuaded, although it would be a "demanding, slow, difficult" task.

In August he said British and world opinion, which in 1969 had been convinced of the injustice of the Stormont regime, were by then sickened and alienated by the ruthlessness and intransigence of the IRA’s campaign of violence. Such forthright denunciations of the IRA were to make him something of a hate figure among republicans.

In that same address, however, Cardinal Daly also showed the same strict orthodoxy which always marked his position on socio-sexual questions in the Republic. He rejected arguments for removing the constitutional ban on divorce and opposed any change in the law banning artificial means of contraception. He also forcefully argued against any secularisation of education in the Republic.

When it came to any controversy involving faith and practice in the Irish Catholic Church, Cardinal Daly stood out as it’s most forceful and coherent spokesman. He always stressed that his primary concern, in his condemnations of republican violence and sexual permissiveness, was the dangers of moral degeneracy and corruption among his flock.

This compass, however, would fail him when it came to the emergence of the clerical child sex abuse scandals towards the end of his period in office during the mid-1990s.

Still, in 1974 he said there was "probably no greater factor of de-Christianisation at present at work in Ireland than the continuing violence”, adding that the Provisional leaders were dragging Irish republicanism into the gutter and making it "a synonym of shame’.’

Such scathing and indeed courageous denunciations did not prevent him from being at the receiving end of bitter criticism from unionist politicians and the British media. An instance occurred in August 1976, when, during yet another appeal to the IRA to end their violence, he said they were not psychopaths or criminal types, but were sincere, and had shown courage, endurance and ability.

The Cardinal always emphasised the importance of ecumenical dialogue. In 1976 he was co-chairman, with former Methodist president Rev Eric Gallagher, of the inter-church working party which produced the report Violence in Ireland. It proposed some practical ideas for improving inter-community relations, such as a committee to examine ways of improving contacts between the North’s religiously-divided schools.

In 1979 he wrote an open letter to Northern Protestants in which he appealed to them "to believe that no community in Western Europe is likely to be as sympathetic and supportive towards your Protestant religious beliefs and principles as are Irish Catholics. Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants can and must help one another to stay faithful to Christ in a world where more and more people walk away from him.”

However, he spoke with the authentic voice of Roman Catholic orthodoxy when he restated firmly the Church’s opposition to women’s ordination at the world Anglican Lambeth Conference in July 1978. His address came barely a week after a report by a working group of senior Anglican and Catholic theologians had not excluded the possibility of progress towards mutual understanding on this issue.

By then Cardinal Daly was widely recognised as the main intellectual force behind, and usually the actual writer of, the Irish Bishop’s most important statements. And it is widely believed it was he who wrote the Pope’s appeal to the IRA to lay down their arms during John Paul’s Mass in Drogheda in September 1979.

In February 1982, Cardinal Daly suffered a heart attack, necessitating several months rest and recuperation. It did not prevent his appointment the following September to succeed Bishop William Philbin as Bishop of Down and Connor, which takes in most of the Belfast region.

He said at his first press conference that ecumenism would be one of his dominant pre-occupations in the post. The All Children Together group, which advocated shared schools for those Catholic and Protestant parents wanting them, expressed the hope that he would see the need to provide a Catholic chaplain to the North’s first integrated secondary school, Lagan College. It was not to happen.

Bishop Daly’s most publicised political intervention came in 1984, when he presented the Catholic Bishops’ submission to the New Ireland Forum. Among others to accompany him there, as part of the Catholic Church delegation was President Mary McAleese.

Cardinal Daly told the forum that the bishops did not seek "a Catholic state for a Catholic people”, but re-emphasised the Bishops’ opposition to divorce and again rejected the view that joint schooling could contribute to a solution in the North. At one point he raised cheers from the assembled nationalist politicians when he said the bishops would resist any constitutional proposals which might endanger the civil and religious liberties of Protestants in the North.

In the late 1980s, his calls for political dialogue between Northern Ireland’s politicians became increasingly frequent and urgent and the British government started to listen very carefully to him as one of its principal barometers of Northern Catholic opinion. It is known, for example, that his strictures about the heavy policing of IRA funerals persuaded the RUC to adopt a lower profile on several such occasions.

During his time in Belfast he was also the prime mover behind a Catholic Church-inspired initiative to try to bring jobs to the unemployment blackspots of north and west Belfast. Taking advantage of the Northern Ireland Office’s anxiety to channel money into community employment projects with no republican involvement, he encouraged priests and Catholic businessmen to set up a network of job creation and training schemes which were generously funded by the British Government.

In December 1990 he became Archbishop of Armagh and spiritual leader of Ireland’s then 3.7 million Catholics in succession to Cardinal Tomas O Fiaich, who died suddenly. At 73, he was the oldest Catholic primate for 170 years, and just two years away from the usual retiring age for bishops and archbishops.

His stature as by far the Irish Catholic Church’s most outstanding spiritual and intellectual leader meant that most people expected the Pope to keep him in Armagh well beyond that date. In June 1991 he was made a cardinal, and his high standing with the Vatican was underlined by his appointment to three of its congregations, those dealing with evangelisation, ecumenism and the clergy.

In the event, he was to preside over the Irish Catholic Church’s most testing and difficult period this century. The two developments which would dominate that period would be the IRA ceasefire and its aftermath in Northern Ireland, and a series of scandals starting with the resignation of Bishop Casey and continuing with an eruption of clerical child sex abuse cases throughout the island.

The Belfast priests who were involved in mediation efforts with Sinn Féin and the IRA through the early 1990s, particular Fr Alec Reid and others at the Redemptorist congregation’s Clonard monastery in Belfast, kept Cardinal Daly informed of the changing attitudes of the republican leadership.

By early 1992 he was beginning to change his tune about the republican movement, saying that if the IRA called off its campaign of violence, Sinn Féin would be entitled to a place in talks about the country’s future.

In December 1993, two weeks before the Downing Street Declaration, he was telling British parliamentarians that for the first time in 20 years a realistic peace was attainable in Northern Ireland, with the Irish Government accepting the continuance of the North’s constitutional status unless it was changed by the democratic choice of a majority there.

In August 1994 his information appeared once again to be superior to that of the politicians when, on the eve of the IRA ceasefire, he said that the goal of taking the gun out of Irish politics "may now be very near” and the opportunity to achieve it should not be missed.

In January 1995, he made his own striking gesture to the cause of reconciliation between Britain and Ireland. Invited to become the first Irish Catholic Church leader to speak from the pulpit of Canterbury Cathedral since the Reformation, he used the occasion to ask the British people for forgiveness for the wrongs and hurts inflicted upon them by the Irish people. He also warned British politicians that political expediency should not be allowed to jeopardise the peace process.

Despite the end of the IRA ceasefire in the following month he continued, in public and behind the scenes, to urge politicians in the strongest language to engage in dialogue, warning that to miss this historic opportunity for a permanent peace would be an "unforgivable political disaster”. Similarly, he urged the IRA to reinstate its ceasefire so Sinn Féin could enter talks.

However his frustration was evident after the failure of Church leaders to mediate a solution to the Drumcree Orange parade stand-off in July 1995. Using language of anger and betrayal, which he has always tried to avoid, he said the decision to force the parade down the Garvaghy Road had "totally shattered” mutual trust and confidence between Catholics and the RUC.

In parallel with the rise and fall of hopes for peace in Northern Ireland, the Irish Catholic Church was experiencing its own deep crisis. It began discreetly, with nearly all dioceses on the island following the lead of the then Archbishop of Dublin Kevin McNamara who took out insurance against possible claims by clerical abuse victims in March 1987.

Then in May 1992 there was the resignation of Bishop Eamonn Casey following revelations that he had a 17-year-old son in the US, which Cardinal Daly knew nothing about until days before the story broke.

A little over two years later came the jailing of Fr Brendan Smyth, a Norbertine priest, on charges of sexually abusing children for 24 years, and revelations that the head of his order had known about Smyth’s propensity to molest children for many years. Although Cardinal Daly, as Bishop of Down and Connor, had approved the rapid reporting of the first allegations against Smyth to the RUC, there remained a public perception that more could have been done by senior churchmen to bring Smyth to book. That would become a familiar story.

At Maynooth in November 1994, Cardinal Daly said he did not remember in his lifetime "a more painful, a more worrying and distressing time. We feel the hurt of all those who have suffered, who have been hurt, and all those whose trust in priests or religious has been abused".

Court cases and media revelations about priests sexually abusing children followed and continued. Cardinal Daly issued public apologies and expressed his distress and horror at the crimes of a small number of priests. A year later he was warning that experience abroad showed that the Irish church could expect another two or three years of "very, very difficult and distressing experiences”. It was a most optimistic forecast.

The summer of 1995 saw another blow to the traditional and usually unanimous moral authority of the Catholic hierarchy with an unprecedented public clash between Bishop Brendan Comiskey of Ferns and Cardinal Daly over the former’s comments about the need to keep open the debate on clerical celibacy.

For many Irish people their lasting memory of Cardinal Daly from this period was his unprecedented extended appearance on a Late Late Show devoted to the problems of the Catholic Church in November 1995. During it he was publicly challenged by Fr Brian Darcy on the Church’s handling of clerical child sex abuse allegations. He came over as a defensive elderly man out of touch with an audience which occasionally heckled and hissed at him.

He continued as Catholic primate until October 1996, when he was 79. He was succeeded by Archbishop, now Cardinal Séan Brady.

If Cardinal Daly’s numerous public interventions made him by far country’s best-known cleric in Ireland at the time, the private man was hardly known at all. His spare-time pursuits were almost entirely intellectual. His early single-minded devotion to his studies set a workaholic pattern for life. Indeed contemporaries have said it was not so much his intellect which set him apart as his work ethic.

He had no real hobbies. His idea of relaxation was a serious intellectual conversation or to settle down with a book of philosophy, poetry or a novel by Dostoyevsky or John McGahern. He was a also a regular attendee at the annual International O’Carolan International Harp Festival in Keadue, Co Roscommon, where his father had come from.

He ate little; keep to a rigid regime based on boiled chicken and fruit prescribed by his doctor after heart surgery in the early 1980s. It may have been why he has such a long life.

However, in retirement he has suffered ill health, missing the funeral of Pope John Paul in April 2005 on the advice of doctors for instance. But he attended the subsequent conclave which elected Pope Benedict. He was ineligible to vote as he was over 80 by then.

In retirement he continued to give talks, take part in discussions and write. He published his last book The Breaking of Bread: Biblical Reflections on the Eucharist in 2008.

"Cahal’s a bit of an old saint," the former Archbishop of Tuam Joseph Cassidy, was heard to remark. Fellow bishops and priests never claimed to know him well. Some of them remarked in the past on how appropriate was his nickname in Belfast, that of ‘ET’, with its connotations of a strange, other-worldly, but in the end rather likeable old wizard.

Civil Servants Told To Wrap Up & Save Energy

31 Dec

BE HAPPY IN YOUR WORK:

CIVIL SERVANTS were asked to use a maximum of one bar on electric heaters and to wear warmer clothing to work to save costs and energy, newly released State documents reveal.

The instruction might sound like a secret addendum to the recent Budget. In fact, it was a money-saving initiative promoted 30 years ago, declassified State papers show.

A Department of Foreign Affairs staff notice from November 1979, which appeared to have been circulated to other departments, recommended a wide range of basic measures to reduce energy costs at a time of rising oil prices.

And 30 years before the lavish use of chauffeur-driven cars became a symptom of the Celtic Tiger; civil servants were urged to curb their use of hired transport.

There was an “increasing tendency to use chauffeur driven cars (provided by Murray’s) for journeys in Dublin”, a notice to Foreign Affairs staff in 1979 revealed.

A total of £4,650 was paid to Murray’s for hire of cars for officers at the department, not including hire for foreign visitors, the memo noted. Officers were also urged to cut the number of overnight stays they made.

The other, more general memo on cuts read: “We have been asked for our co-operation in the saving of fuel and electricity . . . The steps would reduce the possibility of power cuts in the coming months”.

Electric fires should not be used “except in exceptional circumstances” and when possible “one bar should be used instead of two”.

Staff should wear “a reasonable amount of clothing” as “wearing additional clothing will make lower temperatures tolerable”, the memo instructed.

Staff at the Dublin office faced a sweltering summer as they were told to keep ventilation (window and door openings) to a minimum, while fans were only to be used “when essential”.

“Only those lights necessary for reasonable working conditions should be switched on” and lights should be switched off when going for lunch or at the end of the day, the memo said.

Civil servants were also asked to switch off electric typewriters and electric office machines when not in use. However, “as photocopiers take some time to warm up those in constant use may be excluded from this instruction”, the memo read.

The use of kettles and stoves should be arranged to avoid waste and hot water was to be used sparingly. Staffs were told to “never wash under a running tap”.

A person was to be appointed in each building to monitor these instructions and make sure that they were implemented.

The cost-saving measures came in a year when oil import prices increased by 60 per cent and the budget deficit was forecast at £500 million (£200 million more than budgeted for), according to a Department of Foreign Affairs briefing note in December 1979.

New Public Service ID Cards For Over 16’s To Be Introduced In 2010

31 Dec

THE GOVERNMENT is to spend almost €25 million on a new public services identity card which will be distributed to about three million people over the age of 16 from next year.

The card will contain the holder’s name, photograph, signature and public service number, which is used to access welfare benefits and other State services. In addition, personal details such as a person’s date of birth, former surnames and the mother’s surname are likely to be electronically encoded on the card.

The details have prompted concerns from civil liberties groups that the information requested could form the basis for a controversial national identity card.

Officials have rejected this and say it will help cut out form-filling and red tape when dealing with government departments and help tackle social welfare fraud more effectively.

A spokeswoman for Minister for Social and Family Affairs Mary Hanafin has confirmed that an initial figure of €7 million has been allocated next year to begin the card’s roll-out. It is intended to issue the first cards in the second half of 2010.

She said the final costs would not be established until the procurement process for production of the card was completed, but it was estimated the cost of the contract would be about €24 million.

After a public procurement exercise, a preferred bidder for production of the card was identified and negotiations with the bidder were nearing completion, Ms Hanafin’s spokeswoman added.

Issuing a card will entail a new registration process involving collection of a photograph and signature.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties says safeguards are essential in the piloting of any new card. Given the State’s “piecemeal privacy and data protection laws”, it warns that it is vital there are safeguards over who has access to this information, and how it will be used.

The information that can be stored on the card is prescribed in law under the Social Welfare and Pensions Act (2007). The legislation provides that the person’s name, personal public service number, photograph, signature and the card’s issue number and expiry date may be inscribed on it. Any other information that may be deemed necessary may be either inscribed or electronically encoded on the card.

Identity fraud has become increasingly common in recent years, mainly because of improved technology for replicating identity cards.

Officials hope the cards will help the Government in meeting its target of saving about €533 million in social welfare fraud next year.

This follows two consecutive years where the Department of Social and Family Affairs has made significantly less in fraud savings than it had anticipated.

Measures to crack down on social welfare fraud yielded about €100 million less than expected during 2009. The department had estimated it would save €616 million by the end of this year. Latest figures indicate it would save just over €500 million.

Use of cards for access to public services has been increasing in recent years.

There are more than five million cards in circulation at present, including the social services card, drugs repayment scheme card, medical card, Garda age card, EU health card and free travel pass.

The aim of the public service card is to replace these cards and to act as a key for a range of such services, as well as identifying and authenticating individuals where required.

Dublin: Southside Dart Service Still Suspended

31 Dec

DART services between Lansdowne Road and Dún Laoghaire will stay suspended until this afternoon, according to Iarnród Éireann.

Trains are not running after overhead wires at the Merrion Gates were damaged by a truck yesterday morning.

Work to repair the wires was suspended due to poor weather.

Dublin Bus will accept rail tickets for DART customers affected by the disruption.

Services are operating from Howth/Malahide to Lansdowne Road
and from Greystones/Bray to Dún Laoghaire.

Iarnród Éireann says the Dublin to Rosslare/Gorey services will operate with bus transfers between Dublin and Bray.

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Iarnród Éireann for more

UK: Two Million ‘Boomerang Children’ Returning Home To Live Off Their Parents

31 Dec

Parents are being forced to withdraw thousands of pounds from their savings in order to support their grown-up children, research has shown.

One in five people aged between 18 and 24 has either moved back in with their parents during the past year, or delayed plans to move out, according to high street bank Abbey.

Around 6% of 25-to-34 year olds and 5% of 35-to-44 year olds have also returned to the family home.

Overall, the group estimates there are nearly two million grown up children who are currently living with their parents.

But the return of members of the so-called Boomerang generation to the family home has put increased pressure on parents’ finances.

The average person with grown-up children has withdrawn 18% of their savings during the past year, the equivalent of £2,142, to meet their rising expenses.

Savings in tax-free ISAS have been particularly hard hit, with one in 10 parents of grown-up children withdrawing all the extra money they needed from one of these accounts.

Andy Smith, spokesman for Abbey Savings, said: "The return of grown-up children to the family home can be a shock for parents who have no doubt become used to the quiet life.

"While many parents can live with more noise and a bigger laundry pile, many may be unprepared for the financial impact of their return home.

"Everyone knows having children is an expensive business but we generally associate these costs with the first two decades of our children’s lives, at which point we tend to expect financial independence," he said. "The effect of withdrawing large sums from their savings is significant for those parents who are preparing for retirement."