Archive | January, 2011

Dublin: Brian Cowen Not Standing In The General Election: UPDATED

31 Jan

Taoiseach Brian Cowen has announced he will not contest the general election.

Mr Cowen tonight said he had come to the decision following talks with his family and newly elected Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin.

He said the Fianna Fáil organisation in the Laois-Offaly area had wanted him to contest the election, which is expected to take place on February 25th.

Mr Cowen said it was time to give the new party leader and frontbench team he appointed earlier today “a break”.

He said Mr Martin had not asked him to stand down.

“Everyone in the Fianna Fáil party wanted to see me stand again,” he told Midlands Radio 103.

Mr Cowen said he would remain strongly supportive of Mr Martin and the party.

He believed the party’s new leader could lead Fianna Fáil into a very good election effort.

In a statement, Mr Cowen said he was humbled by the messages of support he had received. “The genuine decency and warmth of people in this country is one of our finest traits and long may that be so.”

A Fianna Fáil meeting took place in the Tullamore Court Hotel at 6pm this evening to make arrangements for selection convention scheduled to take place in the constituency tomorrow night.

Mr Cowen will dissolve the Dáil tomorrow afternoon and the election date will then be set. 

The Dail will reconvene at 2.30pm with a statement from Mr Cowen and expected remarks from the leaders of Fine Gael, Labour, Sinn Féin and the Greens, who pulled out of coalition the day after Mr Cowen resigned as Fianna Fáil leader.

The Taoiseach will then attend Áras an Uachtaráin in the Phoenix Park to ask President Mary McAleese to formally dissolve parliament.

NEWS UPDATE:

Taoiseach Brian Cowen has announced he will not be contesting the General Election.

 Brian Cowen - Made decision after discussions with family
Brian Cowen – Made decision after discussions with family

Taoiseach Brian Cowen has announced he will not be contesting the General Election.

Mr Cowen made the announcement on Midlands 103.

Read Brian Cowen’s statement here

He said he had full support in the county and the preference of his team was that he run in the upcoming election.

He said the issue for him in making up his mind was what direction he wanted to take in life now and also to recognise that he held the highest office in the land during a very difficult three years.

He said he made the decisoon after consulting with his family over the weekend.

A cumann meeting took place in the Tullamore Court Hotel at 6pm to make final arrangements for tomorrow night’s selection convention and to discuss the party strategy.

There has also been increased uncertainty about whether or not the Fianna Fáil TD in Laois John Moloney will run for re-election.

Last night, Donegal North East TD Niall Blaney said he would not be contesting the election, citing personal reasons for his decision.

Cork North Central TD Noel O’Flynn said he would not run in order to maximise the chances of his constituency colleague Billy Kelleher.

The two men were the latest Fianna Fáil TDs to say they would not be contesting the election, with several ministers announcing their retirement in recent weeks.

Full list of TDs not standing in the General Election

Ringsend, Dublin: Bright Young Barrister Standing As Sinn Fein Candidate In Dublin-South-East

31 Jan

Sinn Féin fields young barrister as general election candidate in Dublin South East

Sinn Féin has selected Ruadhán Mac Aodháin, a 27-year-old barrister and a legal adviser in the Pearse Doherty by-election case, to contest the general election in the Dublin South East constituency.
 
Ruadhán is a fluent Irish speaker and has previously worked for the Sinn Féin team in the European Parliament.
He was a legal adviser involved in Pearse Doherty’s succesful High Court challenge which forced the Government to hold the Donegal South-West by-election that Fianna Fáil tried to avoid.
Ruadhán has also worked in the Dáil where he co-authored a major report on inequality for a Joint Oireachtas Commission.
Speaking following the selection convention at the weekend, Ruadhán Mac Aodháin said:
 
“Between them, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have ruled since the foundation of the state. The arrogance of power and privilege over justice and equality needs to be broken.
 
“After over a decade of uncontrolled growth we now have one of the most unequal societies in Europe. I have watched friends from college emigrate in their droves due to the lack of employment opportunities here.
 
“We need to rebuild our economy and give people hope of a new start, jobs and a future.
 
“Sinn Féin has a costed programme, critically evaluated by economists, to stimulate the economy, retain existing jobs and create new ones.
 
“There is a better way.”

http://www.ruadhanmacaodhain.blogspot.com

London: New Measures To Break Gang Culture Now In Force

31 Jan

New measures aimed at breaking down gang culture in the UK have come into force.

New powers to tackle gang culture Enlarge photo

Under the new powers gang members could be banned from wearing distinctive colours, entering rival territory and walking aggressive dogs.

The gang injunctions will not lead to a criminal record if breached, but are designed to tackle a higher level of criminality than anti-social behaviour orders.

Launching the scheme last month, Crime Prevention Minister James Brokenshire said: “Gangs cause significant and lasting harm to our communities through fuelling violence, creating an atmosphere of fear and drawing young people into criminality.

“These new powers will help police and local authorities tackle local gang problems by placing tough conditions on the behaviour of individuals involved in gang-related violence and providing strong support to those who want to leave violent gangs.”

The Home Office said that under the powers, police and local authorities will be able to apply for the injunctions – which will be issued by a county court and last up to two years – for adults who have been proven to have engaged in, encouraged or assisted gang-related violence.

Dublin: Rich Man Keeps At A Good Distance From Poor Man As 620,000 Face Into Poverty

31 Jan

CHARLIE TAYLOR: THE IRISH TIMES:

New research published today shows the gap between rich and poor has widened significantly since 1987.

The research, which was compiled by campaign group Social Justice Ireland, reveals that the top 10 per cent of Irish households receive almost a quarter of total disposable income, up 1.3 per cent since 1987.

In comparison, the bottom 10 per cent of households receive just 2.2 per cent of all disposable income, almost 11 times less than that of those in the richest households.

The research indicates that 620,000 people, equivalent to 14.1 per cent of the population, are at risk of poverty and says this figure would be much higher if it wasn’t for social welfare payments.

The group claims that without the welfare system, Ireland’s poverty rate in 2009 would have been 46.2 per cent.

The figures show that during the past decade, over 213,000 people have been lifted out of poverty. Furthermore, over the period from 2004 to 2008, when there were significant increases in social welfare payments, over 170,000 people escaped poverty.

Over 140,000 people are now long-term unemployed – the highest since the late 1980s. The risk of poverty in rural Ireland is 6 per cent higher than in urban Ireland, the study shows. In Dublin, about a tenth of the population in poverty. The figures rise to twice this rate in the midwest, southeast and the midlands.

Disposable income is the amount of money households have to spend after they have received employment/pension income, paid all their taxes and received any welfare entitlements.

The minimum disposable income required to avoid poverty in 2001, according to Social Justice Ireland, is €228.18 per week for a household with just one adult, equivalent to €11,585 on an annual basis. For a household containing two adults and two children the minimum disposable income needed is €515.46 per week, equivalent to €26,877 annually.

The lobby group says cuts announced in the last Budget will put additional pressure on households and likely lead to a rise in the poverty rate.

“Recent policies have begun to target the poorest in our society and their implementation will drive poverty up.” the organisation said. “It cannot be acceptable that Ireland’s poorest be condemned to even deeper poverty in the year ahead.”

The group has outlined a number of steps that must be taken in order to reduce poverty rates. These include benchmarking of social welfare payments, refundable tax credits, a cost of disability payment, and a reversal of the cut in the minimum wage.

Social Justice Ireland spokesman Fr Sean Healy: warned Government policies will drive poverty up.

Related

Division of budget ‘hit’ unfair, says social justice chief | 03/12/2010

Working poor, carers and the sick will ‘take the hit’ | 09/12/2010

Warning of rise in poverty among elderly | 30/11/2010

‘We have no money, so I went begging’ | 05/01/2011

Household incomes down over 6% | 25/11/2010

External

Social Justice Ireland

Dublin: CSO Crime Figures Show That Incidence Of Drug Cultivation Or Manafacture Almost Doubled In 2010

31 Jan

There has been a significant increase in robberies, highjacking and extortion offences according to the annual crime figures released by the Central Statistics Office today.

Gardaí – Crime figures show drop in murder and manslaughters, but rise in robberies.

There were over 3,000 robberies, more than eight a day, recorded last year, an increase of over 28%.

There were also increases in thefts from shops, people and handling stolen property, and the incidence of drug cultivation or manufacture almost doubled, with an increase of 97%.

There were over 4,000 cases of drug dealing and 14,000 cases where people were caught with drugs for personal use.

There was a drop, however, in the murder and manslaughter rate and the number of shootings was down by over a fifth.

Murder and manslaughters dropped from 60 in 2009 to 56 last year but gangland murders increased from 17 to 19.

There was also a dramatic increase in sexual offences but the CSO says the increase is due to an ongoing Garda review of reported cases.

There were over 2,300 sex offences, more than six a day, recorded last year, an increase of over 60%.

Related Stories

Decrease in levels of serious crime

Crime figures show murder increase

Egypt: Seventh Day Of Revolt Begins As President Mubarak Still Clings To Power

31 Jan

Demonstrators in Egypt have begun the seventh day of protests in Egypt by chanting slogans against the country’s leader, who shows no sign of releasing his grip on power.

Video: Vigilante Law Takes Hold Across Cairo

Mubarak Holds On As Egypt Protests Continue Play video

Video: Mubarak Holds On As Egypt Protests Continue

Groups of protesters, who camped out in central Cairo overnight, say they are determined not to leave until Hosni Mubarak goes.

They are taking to the streets once again in a peaceful bid to oust the president of 30 years.

All eyes are now on the country’s army, which has been drafted in by Mubarak to take over control of the city’s streets from the police.

Many believe they hold the key to Egypt’s fate – and behind the scenes, generals are thought to be considering their options.

In Alexandria, where more demonstrations are planned, the military presence increased overnight with several trucks and other army vehicles seen on the city streets and soldiers setting up checkpoints.

Streets are said to be piling up with rubbish as shops and hotels run out of basic supplies as infrastructure breaks down due to the unrest.

Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt has told Sky News it is “impossible” to tell whether Mubarak’s time was up or what might happen in the next 48 hours.

A general strike has been called for today, but now appears not to be going ahead. A march billed as the “protest of the millions” is due to take place tomorrow.

More than 100 people have so far died during six days of unrest.

There were further mass demonstrations over the weekend in Cairo as residents complained of a deteriorating security situation and tourists and expats continued to flee the country.

Several tanks were deployed in city centre and the suburbs while jets made multiple passes overhead.

However, troops made no attempt to break up the protests.

Leading Egyptian opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei was among those who defied the curfew and addressed the crowd in Tahrir (Liberation) Square.

He is heading an opposition coalition that includes the mass Islamist movement the Muslim Brotherhood and is calling for a national unity government to be set up.

US President Barack Obama has called for Mr Mubarak to initiate an “orderly transition” – Egypt is a key ally in the Middle East and a recipient of billions of dollars of aid.

Mr ElBaradei said: “It is better for President Obama not to appear that he is the last one to say to President Mubarak: ‘It’s time for you to go’.”

British Foreign Secretary William Hague has also urged Mr Mubarak to “initiate a transformation”.

Looting over the weekend – prompted by police withdrawing from duty – has added to unease and an exodus of tourists and expats.

Reports said 34 members of banned Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, walked out of a prison near Cairo after guards left their posts.

Impromptu neighbourhood watch groups have been set up, checking cars and people entering some suburbs of Cairo.

Extra troops have been sent into cities to restore the security situation.

Many countries – including Britain – have urged their citizens not to travel to Egypt unless absolutely necessary.

Foreign Office advice for British tourists is being updated daily and people are asked to check the website.

Derry: Tens Of Thousands March For A Last Time To Commemorate The 14 Victims Of Bloddy Sunday

31 Jan

IN ONE of the largest demonstrations ever seen in Derry, tens of thousands of marchers have marked the 39th anniversary of Bloody Sunday by completing the original march route to the city’s Guildhall.

Fourteen people were shot dead by the British army on January 30th, 1972 as they rallied against internment without trial. Another 13 were shot and injured.

The commemoration is intended to be the last such rally following the publication of the Saville report on June 15th last year which overturned the original investigation by Lord Widgery and exonerated the dead and injured.

However, some of the victims’ relatives broke away from the main demonstration. Relatives of William Nash, rallied at Free Derry corner, a short distance from the scene of the shootings by the Parachute Regiment, and vowed they would return every year. Linda Nash denied the relatives were split, insisting that there was a range of opinions among 27 different families.

The march was headed by relatives who carried a large banner with the word “vindicated”.

Pictures of the victims, also bearing the claim, were carried. Behind them were thousands of supporters from Derry and beyond as well as republican organisations and representatives of international conflicts from Palestine to the Basque region.

The procession took about 45 minutes to pass the junction of William Street and Rossville Street where the previous commemoration marches diverted to protest at the scene of the killings.

This time, the march continued to Guildhall Square where they were welcomed by a platform party led by John Kelly, a key spokesman of the families. Alongside him where Foyle MP and former SDLP leader Mark Durkan and Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams. Also present were representatives of the Ballymurphy campaign, which is seeking exoneration of those shot dead by the same parachute regiment in west Belfast in August 1971.

Addressing the good-humoured crowd in Guildhall Square, Mr Adams said Bloody Sunday was a turning point in Irish history. The Saville report had overturned the Widgery findings which, Mr Adams said, “had tried to blame the marchers, tried to blame the IRA and tried to blame everyone except the British army”.

He commended British prime minister David Cameron for apologising in parliament to the people of Derry but contradicted his claim that the shootings did not define the British army’s presence in the city. “Bloody Sunday is the defining story of the British army in Ireland,” he said.

Calling for the truth to be established in relation to the Ballymurphy killings and other disputed cases, he appealed for an independent, international commission.

Mark Durkan described the rally as “possibly the last march, but not the last stand” in relation to truth and justice.

He said the Saville report was detailed in relation to the victims’ innocence, but light in relation to responsibility and demanded a “proper follow up” which would establish “full responsibility”.

NEWS UPDATE:

Thousands of people took part in what is expected to be the final march in Derry to mark the anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

 Bloody Sunday - British soldiers shot civilians
Bloody Sunday – British soldiers shot civilians
 
 Bloody Sunday March - Last ever protest
 Bloody Sunday March – Last ever protest

Thousands of people turned out in Derry today for what is intended to be the last ever Bloody Sunday protest march.

Many lined the route of this afternoon’s parade from the Creggan area to Guildhall Square in the city on what is the 39th anniversary of the atrocity.

Fourteen people were killed when British paratroopers opened fire on a civil rights march in Derry’s Bogside area on 30 January 1972.

Organisers say they believe the event should now come to an end following the publication of the Saville Report last year which exonerated those killed and injured in the shootings.

The inquiry held that the actions of British soldiers in Derry that day were ‘both unjustified and unjustifiable’.

Relatives of the victims are now considering a number of options regarding how future anniversaries should be marked.

Families attending the march today held banners which read ‘Vindicated’.

  • Bloody Sunday relatives call for prosecutions
  • Bloody Sunday relatives seek legal advice
  • NI investigating ‘perjury’ at Saville Inquiry
  • Saville: Bloody Sunday killings unjustifiable
  • Timeline of events on Bloody Sunday