Archive | June, 2011

Waterford: Over Half-A-Million Visitors Expected At Tall Ships Festival

30 Jun

A Tall Ship en route to Waterford was involved in a collision with a yacht overnight.

 
Yacht - Mast broken in collision

Yacht – Mast broken in collision
 
 Tall Ships - Yacht involved in collision

Tall Ships – Yacht involved in collision
 

One of the Tall Ships on its way to Waterford collided with a yacht overnight.

The Class B vessel, ‘Irene’ with five crew members and 12 trainees on board was in collision with a 25-foot yacht near Kilmore Quay.

The yacht’s mast was broken and it was towed to Rosslare Harbour.

The ‘Irene’ is continuing on its journey to Waterford.

The Coast Guard helicopter, based at Waterford Airport, was called out, as well as other emergency services but nobody was injured.

45 Tall Ships, from the largest Class A to smallest Class D, are arriving in Waterford for tomorrow’s official opening.

NEWS UPDATE:

MORE than half a million people are expected to flock to Waterford over the next four days for the Tall Ships Race 2011, which kicks off today.

The internationally acclaimed annual competition brings over 1,000 crew members from around the world to Waterford and 100 young Irish people will join the ships alongside their international peer as trainee crew members, for the first leg of The Race.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will officially open the event today at 3.15pm on the riverside at William Vincent Wallace Plaza to a performance by a choir of 250 Waterford voices.

A performance by Waterford-born renowned illusionist and television presenter Keith Barry will follow Mr Kenny’s opening.

The four days will also feature artists such as Sharon Shannon, the Waterboys, Damien Dempsey and Waterford band O Emperor.

The Tall Ships Race was previously held in Waterford in 2005 and was a huge success attracting 450,000 people to the city.

Organisers believe they can easily exceed that number this year, given greatly improved road and rail links.

“We certainly anticipate a much bigger crowd this year. There is a higher level of entertainment with great artists headlining the event. The volunteer effort has been significant in terms of magnitude,” said organising committee member Rachel Sherry.

The return of The Tall Ships to the South East region will be celebrated with a festival programme of Irish and international acts, street theatre, fireworks, music and food.

The festival is costing €3 million to stage — coming from sponsors including €600,000 from Tourism Ireland — but organisers say the outlay will be returned many times over, with half of all visitors coming from outside the county.

More than 45 tall ships will be on display along the city quays — and event organisers estimate it will generate €35m worth of business for Waterford city.

Waterford had to compete against 23 other cities to stage the event this year, while Dublin is set to get its chance to host the event in 2012.

Meanwhile one of the Tall Ships on route to Waterford collided with a yacht on Tuesday night.

The vessel Irene had five crew members and 12 trainees on board when it collided with a 25-foot yacht near Kilmore Quay.

The yacht was towed to Rosslare Harbour and continued onto Waterford. All members arrived safely and no injuries were reported.

The festival will draw to a close on Sunday with 45 vessels participating in a glorious Parade of Sail along the Waterford and Wexford estuary.

Most ships will be open to the public from Thursday through to Saturday, from early morning to late evening and admission is free.

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Dublin Port: Customs Officers Seize Cannabis Worth €1m Man Arrested: UPDATED

30 Jun

 

Herbal cannabis with an estimated street value of one million euro has been seized by customs officers

Herbal cannabis with an estimated street value of one million euro has been seized …

Herbal cannabis with an estimated street value of one million euro has been seized by customs officers.

The 91kg of drugs were concealed in a consignment of chocolates and sweets that had arrived in Dublin Port from the Netherlands.

An Irish man in his late 20s has been arrested and is being held at Ballymun Garda Station.

The seizure is a result of a joint operation between Revenue and the Garda National Drugs Unit as a result of profiling by officers at Dublin Port.

The man is being questioned under Section 2 of the Criminal Justice Drug Trafficking Act 1996, under which he can be detained for up to seven days.

NEWS UPDATE:

Two men have been arrested in connection with money laundering after €100,000 was recovered in Dublin.

The money was found when officers from the Garda National Drugs Unit stopped and searched a vehicle in west Dublin yesterday evening.

A man in his 30s was arrested at the scene, while a second man, who is in his 60s, was arrested during a follow-up operation in Kildare.

The men are being held at Blanchardstown Garda Station on suspicion of money laundering.

Gardaí believe they have broken up a significant financial logistical supply and support operation for organised criminal gangs here, following the arrest of the man in his 60s, a suspected leading figure last night.

Gardaí believe the man was the main organiser of an operation which involved the transportation of cash to the continent on behalf of a number of criminal gangs, where it was used as downpayments for drug shipments back into this country.

NEWS UPDATE:

A man has been charged in connection with a seizure of cannabis in Rathcoole, Dublin, yesterday evening.

Rathcoole - Estimated value of €2.4m

Rathcoole – Estimated value of €2.4m

A man in his 20s has been charged in connection with a seizure of cannabis in Rathcoole, Dublin, yesterday evening.

The drugs were discovered when a van was stopped as part of a planned operation by the National Drugs Unit.

The cannabis has an estimated street value of €2.4m.

The man was remanded in custody pending a bail hearing.

Separately, a man in his late 20s has been arrested following a drugs seizure at Dublin Port this afternoon.

Customs officers found 91kg of cannabis in a consignment of chocolates that had arrived from the Netherlands.

The man was brought to Ballymun Garda Station where he can be held for up to seven days.

www.garda.ie

Louth/Meath Gardai Seize Drugs Worth €150,000 During Car Search

27 Jun

Gardaí have seized drugs worth €150,000 following the search of a car in Co Meath.

As part of an ongoing operation targeting the sale and supply of controlled drugs in the Louth-Meath area, officers stopped and searched a car at Donacarney shortly after 9pm last night.

The driver of the car, a 38-year-old man, was arrested after a quantity of diamorphine was seized during the search.

He was held under section two of the Drug Trafficking Act and is being questioned at Navan Garda station.

The operation was carried out by the Garda National Drugs Unit with assistance from the Laytown Drugs Unit, a spokesman said.

NEWS UPDATE:

A man is being held after Diamorphine (heroin), with a potential street value of €150,000 was seized in Donnycarney.

1 of 1 Navan - Man being held

Navan – Man being held

A man is being held after Diamorphine (heroin), with a potential street value of €150,000 was seized in Donnycarney yesterday evening.

The seizure was made after gardaí stopped and searched a car.

The 38-year-old man, who was the driver of the car, is being held at Navan Garda station.

The operation was carried out by the Garda National Drugs Unit, assisted by the Laytown Drugs Unit.

Related

Headshop drugs ‘for sale online’ | 27/06/2011

Gardai question eight over drug find | 23/06/2011

Two held after drugs found in van | 25/06/2011

Eight held over 50kg cannabis find | 21/06/2011

Ecstasy seized at Dublin airport | 24/06/2011

An Garda Siochana

Dublin: HIQA Concerned About Patient’s Safety Throughout Tallaght Hospital: UPDATED

27 Jun

The Minister for Health has described as ‘significant’ a HIQA investigation into the Emergency Department of Tallaght Hospita.

 
The Adelaide & Meath Hospital - Inquiry into Emergency Department

The Adelaide & Meath Hospital – Inquiry into Emergency Department
 
The Minister for Health has described as ‘significant’ an investigation into the Emergency Department of Tallaght Hospital, which was announced by the Health Information Quality Authority.

HIQA said it had concerns about the quality and safety of care provided to patients requiring acute admission and receiving care at the Emergency Department of Tallaght Hospital, which is also known as Adelaide and Meath Hospital, incorporating the national Children’s Hospital.

The investigation report and recommendation will be published when the inquiry is completed.

Dr James Reilly said the results of the inquiry will be studied intensively by all those concerned.

A spokesman said the Minister understood that all involved will fully co-operate with the investigation to allow for a speedy conclusion.

HIQA has been in correspondence with Tallaght Hospital for over a year regarding concerns about the quality and safety of care.

The main focus of the inquiry will be the adult Emergency Department but the investigation will not exclude the children’s Emergency Department.

A statement from the board of the three hospitals operating at Tallaght said the hospital will fully co-operate with the investigation and that it is fully committed to delivering the highest standards of care to its patients.

The board added that the hospital is funded to look after the health of 350,000 people but in reality looks after 500,000.

NEWS UPDATE:

SAFETY concerns expressed by the state’s health watchdog about the country’s busiest hospital do not stop at its emergency department, it has emerged.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) have launched an investigation into the quality and safety of care given to patients at Tallaght Hospital in Dublin.

It is now understood that HIQA is concerned about the entire patient journey through the hospital system.

The authority has had concerns for some time in relation to the quality and safety of the care provided to patients requiring acute admission to the hospital and care at its emergency department.

It had previously sought assurances in relation to how the board and executive of the hospital were governing and managing these risks.

“We have serious concerns about a patient’s journey, not just at acute admission, but how it is managed throughout the hospital,” a spokesperson for HIQA said yesterday.

On Friday night the board of the authority decided to launch a statutory investigation in accordance with section nine of the Health Act 2007 into the quality, safety and governance of the care of patients requiring acute admission to the hospital.

The terms of reference and membership of the investigation team will be published when finalised, a process that is expected to take up to 10 days.

As was the case in previous investigations by HIQA the terms of reference are expected to be broadly based.

It is also expected that the authority’s final report will not just focus on Tallaght but on the provision of acute hospital care nationally.

The spokesperson said it was not yet possible to say when a final report on the investigation could be expected.

Last year, the hospital was subject to another investigation after it emerged that thousands of X-rays had gone unreported to consultants while many referral letters from GPs had not been processed.

The hospital admitted that one patient had died as a result of a delayed X-ray diagnosis.

Last week, a coroner said Tallaght sounded like a very dangerous place to be for anybody, let alone a sick patient.

Dublin county coroner, Dr Kieran Geraghty, was responding to comments about conditions at the hospital by an emergency consultant at the inquest into the death of a patient who had been left in a corridor because of a bed shortage.

Dublin: Headshop Drugs Banned By Law Available To Buy Online: Report: UPDATED

27 Jun

A report has found that many psychoactive substances, which were banned last year, are available for purchase online.

Illegal substances - 'Vigilance is needed' to monitor new substances

Illegal substances – ‘Vigilance is needed’ to monitor new substances

A new report has found many psychoactive substances, which were banned last year, are available for purchase online.

Researchers found curiosity and availability were the main reasons people consumed products bought in head shops.

The National Advisory Committee on Drugs says vigilance is needed to monitor new substances, which may come onto the market.

Since legislation to counter the sale of psychoactive substances last year, over 90 head shops around the country have closed.

This report examines what was in the products being sold in these stores, what was known about their effects and possible responses to the issues surrounding supply and use of the substances.

Users tended to have a history of illegal drug use. While many reported negative side effects, just 1.5% of respondents sought medical or psychological help as a result.

Researchers at Dublin Institute of Technology have found many banned substances are still readily available for purchase over the internet, with some now being sold as food products.

Many claim to be legal, but when analysed were found to be illegal here.

NEWS UPDATE:

The number of high street stores selling psychoactive highs has fallen from 102 early last year to 11, experts sayEnlarge Photo

The number of high street stores selling psychoactive highs has fallen from 102 early …

Irish and British authorities should work together to fight the sale of illegal headshop drugs online, experts have said.

The number of high street stores selling the psychoactive highs fell from 102 early last year to 11 after a wide-ranging ban but there is a vast internet business supplying users, a review has found.

The National Advisory Committee on Drugs (NACD) said online sales are much bigger out of the UK but warned that it has uncovered a young and vibrant community of users in Ireland experimenting and discussing the effects on internet forums and chat rooms.

The anti-drugs body called for awareness groups to target users directly and dynamically through social media to highlight the dangers and side-effects of banned headshop drugs and new chemical highs.

Dr Des Corrigan, chairman of the NACD, urged the Irish Medicines Board and Customs to get together to crack down on shipments of drugs from overseas.

“While the number of headshops decreased significantly as a result of Government action, a challenge still exists in terms of the monitoring of online outlets for the sale and supply of new psychoactive substances,” he said.

“There are a vast number of online retailers, many of which deliver to Ireland. The report found that while these online products may claim to be ‘legal’, the products which were analysed all contained illegal substances.

“In order to address this issue efforts could be made to examine existing models to curtail such trading, for example, through the co-operation between the Irish Medicines Board and the Customs authorities to monitor the sale of counterfeit medicines.”

The NACD said many recreational users of cocaine, cannabis and ecstasy opted to use headshop drugs in 2010 before a ban out of curiosity and thanks to the availability. It said Ireland and Britain’s close proximity and cultural ties should allow the two countries to collaborate to crack down on online supply.

Roisin Shortall, junior minister in the Department of Health, said state agencies would be brought together to try to tackle access to the drugs.

Dublin: Ireland Among The Worst In Europe For Drug Deaths: UN REPORT: UPDATED

23 Jun

Ireland has one of the highest levels of drug-related deaths in Europe, according to a United Nations report on the global drug market.

It shows that Ukraine, Iceland and Ireland experienced some of the highest mortality rates in Europe, with over 100 drug-related deaths per  million inhabitants aged between 15 and 64.

These figures are twice the European average, although the report says some countries may be significantly underestimating the number of deaths.

The World Drug Report 2011 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime also shows that while the heroin problem is stabilising in most European countries, prevalence rates appear to be increasing slightly in Ireland and Sweden. However, opiate use is still more prevalent in the UK and almost twice as prevalent in eastern European countries such as Latvia and Estonia.

Ireland also figured prominently when it came to cocaine use. Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the UK were listed as having the highest rates of prevalence of the drug.

Health Research Board senior researcher Dr Suzi Lyons said the figures on drug deaths accurately reflected the problem in Ireland. However, she said one of the reasons the Irish rate was significantly higher than many other countries was because their monitoring systems were not as comprehensive.

Dr Lyons also urged caution in interpreting the figures for drug prevalence, noting that some information related to data collected up to five years ago.

The UN’s figures also show dramatic differences in the price of drugs across the world depending on the distance it has travelled and how many times it has changed hands. It was most expensive in Australia and the US, although there are major difference within Europe. In Ireland the typical cost of a gram of heroin in 2009 was €147, compared to €48 in the UK and €23 in Belgium.

In general, the UN report indicates that between 3 and 6 per cent of the world’s population used illicit substances at least once during the previous year.

Cannabis was by far the most widely used illicit drug consumed in Ireland and the rest of the world, followed by amphetamine-type stimulants like ecstasy and opiates such as heroin.

While there were stable or downward trends for heroin and cocaine use across the globe, the report said this was being offset by increases in the use of “legal highs” and prescription drugs. There was a significant reduction in global opium production in 2010 as a result of disease in opium poppy plants in Afghanistan.

Officials also say there was a significant decline in potential cocaine manufacturing, reflecting falling cocaine production in Colombia. This was offset by increases Peru and Bolivia.

The production of amphetamine-type stimulants and cannabis is more difficult to estimate because they are produced in dozens of countries.

Most cannabis seizures in Europe originated primarily in Morocco, but there has been growing evidence of production closed to home. Some 29 European countries – including Ireland – reported domestic cultivation of cannabis herb during 2008.

In contrast to most parts of the world, non-medical use of prescription drugs has not been regarded as a major problem in Europe so far. The highest levels of non-medical use of prescription opioids – drugs with morphine-like effects – have been reported from Northern Ireland.

Other countries in Europe reporting a substantial proportion of treatment demand for sedatives and tranquilisers are found among the Nordic countries, such as Sweden, Norway and Finland.

School pupils’ drug use ‘increases’ | 23/11/2006

Drugs death-rate fourth-highest in Europe – report | 06/11/2008

One in 25 people use cannabis | 16/10/2009

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

NEWS UPDATE:

By GEORGE JAHN, Associated Press George Jahn, Associated Press :

VIENNA – World opium production decreased sharply last year due to a blight in Afghanistan but is expected to rebound, and coca growing and cocaine production also fell, the United Nations reported Thursday.

Still, the United States remained the biggest market for cocaine in the world, and European cocaine demand was rapidly catching up, the Vienna-based U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime said in its annual report.

Global coca cultivation fell by one-sixth in 2010, accompanied by a significant drop in cocaine production in Colombia, a major supplier.

The agency said nearly 5 percent of the world’s population took illicit drugs at least once in the previous year, with many users turning from traditional opiates to synthetic and prescription drugs.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon noted the ties between the world’s illicit drug market and terrorism and world unrest in a statement accompanying the report.

“The $61 billion (euro42.4 billion) annual market for Afghan opiates is funding insurgency, international terrorism and wider destabilization,” Ban said. “In West Africa, the $85 billion (euro58 billion) global cocaine trade is exacerbating addiction and money-laundering while fueling political instability and threats to security.

“Every $1 billion (euro695 million) of pure cocaine trafficked through West Africa earns more than 10 times as much when sold on the streets in Europe.”

The report listed cannabis as the most widely produced and consumed illicit drug, saying up to 203 million people — about 4.5 percent of the world population — took it at least once over a 12-month period.

Opium production declined 38 percent last year due to the blight that wiped out much of the harvest in Afghanistan. Making up for some of the shortfall was Myanmar, where cultivation rose about 20 percent in 2010, giving that country a 12 percent share in world production.

While poor yields resulted in a 45 percent decline in global opium production between 2007 and 2010, that reversal appears temporary, the agency said. Agency chief Yuri Fedotov predicted a likely “rebound to high levels in 2011.”

For cocaine, the United States remained the biggest market, with consumption estimated at 157 tons in 2009 — equal to 36 percent of the global share. Europe, particularly Western and Central Europe, were second in terms of market share, with an estimated consumption of 123 tons.

The U.N. agency noted “massive declines in recent years” of overall world cocaine use. Still, it said consumption in Europe had doubled over the past decade — with the estimated value of the European cocaine market at $36 billion (euro25 billion) a year, approaching that of the United States at $37 billion (euro25.7 billion).

With many nations fighting drug production and trafficking, users are turning to so-called “legal highs” — substitutes for illicit stimulants such as cocaine or ecstasy. The use of highly addictive methamphetamine is increasing in East Asia and figures from 2009 also show a rebound in North America after several years of decline.

Methamphetamine contributed to a record in synthetic drug seizures in 2009, with nearly 16 tons of that substance discovered by law enforcement agencies compared to less than 12 tons in the previous year.

“Drugs cause some 200,000 deaths a year,” said Fedotov. “Since people with serious drug problems provide the bulk of drug demand, treating this problem is one of the best ways of shrinking the market.”

U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske emphasized the positive — reduced use and production of some narcotics — in his comments, while urging continued international cooperation to fight trafficking and addiction.

“Today’s report confirms that comprehensive efforts to reduce drug use and its consequences have a tremendous impact on making our communities healthier and safer,” said Kerlikowske, the director of U.S. national drug control policy.

“Confronting the global drug problem — including the prescription drug abuse epidemic — is a shared responsibility that requires a sustained and comprehensive approach.”

Dublin: Irish & Russian Criminal Gangs Flooding Country With Smuggled Counterfeit Cigarettes

23 Jun

Ireland’s organised crime gangs have joined forces with Russian criminals to flood the country with counterfeit cigarettes, it has been claimed.

Illegal cigarettes smuggled from China, the Middle East and countries bordering the EU account for about a fifth of tobacco smoked in the country.

The black market industry is costing the economy 250 million euro in lost revenue each year, as well as job losses in the retail sector.

The head of an EU task force on tobacco smuggling revealed it was a significant problem in Ireland, with criminals importing small amounts frequently.

But Austin Rowan, of the European Commission‘s Anti-Fraud Office, said there was no proof Ireland was a gateway for smuggling cigarettes from China to mainland Europe. He revealed several eastern European led gangs, particularly from Russia, are working in co-operation with gangs in Ireland.

“Everybody is making money and everybody is great pals. That’s the whole name of the game,” he said. “Any criminal gang in Ireland can make contacts very easy with the eastern European gangs.”

Ireland’s growing problem with cigarette smuggling was highlighted by leading European policing figures at the annual Retailers Against Smuggling conference in Dublin. A total of 54 million cigarettes, with a retail value of approximately 22.5 million euro (£20 million), have also been seized in the Republic so far this year.

The Revenue Commissioners – who led the detention of seven containers of cigarettes, including two in Northern Ireland and one in Antwerp, Belgium this year – plan to mount a series of ‘blitz’ operations across the country to target smugglers.

Tom Talbot, principal officer, said up to 40 million cigarettes a year are seized from air passengers travelling from eastern Europe and the Canary Islands, where people can “buy low and sell high”.

“Every form of smuggling is being used,” he said. “It ranges from individuals in the airports all the way up to serious organised crime, and everything in between.”