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News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)
November 07, 2004
News 11/08/04 - FG Rejects Rip-Off Ireland Is Myth
News about Ireland & the Irish
IT 11/08/04 FG Rejects Declaration That Rip-Off Ireland Is A Myth
IT 11/08/04 Dublin May Learn From North On Policing Plans
IT 11/08/04 Wildlife Service Says No Evidence Of Seal- Clubbing
TE 11/07/04 Pub Smokers In Scotland Face Fines Of £3,600
IT 11/08/04 Monasterevin Bypass Opens Today –V
IT 11/08/04 Dublin To Cork Motorway Target To Be Missed
IT 11/08/04 Lavery Painting To Go On Public Display In June
BN 11/08/04 Farrell: Pierce Is Just Messing With Me
FG Rejects Declaration That 'Rip-Off Ireland Is A Myth'
Mark Hennessy, Political Correspondent
The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Mr O'Donoghue's
declaration that "rip-off Ireland is a myth" has been sharply
condemned by Fine Gael, who accused him of not knowing the reality.
Speaking in Killarney, Co Kerry on Friday night, the Minister said
charges that tourist prices in Ireland are too high are endangering
the country's international reputation and could hit the Irish
"It's going to have international repercussions. No tourism
industry in the world runs itself down," Mr O'Donoghue said at the
opening of the Â25 million Brehon Hotel.
However, Fine Gael TD, Mr Phil Hogan rejected the Minister's
declaration: "He has shown a stunning lack of awareness of the cost
of living challenges that face ordinary Irish households every day.
"What chance has the consumer got if this is what a front line
Minister is saying about rip-off prices?" said Mr Hogan, Fine
Gael's spokesman on enterprise, employment and trade.
"Sticking your head in the sand is not an appropriate policy
response from Government. When faced with the clear cut facts that
Ireland has become one of the most expensive economies to live and
work in, the Minister wants us all to simply pretend that it just
"The 50,000 visitors to the Fine Gael consumer website
www.ripoff.ie could easily explain the reality behind the
Between 1997 and 2001, the Republic of Ireland went from being 3
per cent cheaper than the European Union average to being 15 per
cent dearer: Irish customers, in all areas of the marketplace, are
"The Government and the trades' unions agree increases that can
fuel increased local charges and prices," he said. "There is nobody
directly representing the ordinary consumer," he added.
Fine Gael, he said, wants all Government-controlled price increases
kept to the rate of inflation or below "so that the Government is
not part of the problem."
© The Irish Times
Dublin May Learn From North On Policing Plans
Dublin City Council and the Garda are in talks over the
introduction of new community policing measures that would target
public disorder and anti-social behaviour in the city.
Discussions over the move are taking place through the Lord Mayor's
Commission on Crime and Policing, which will today meet the vice-
chairman of Northern Ireland's Policing Board, Mr Denis Bradley, to
see whether community policing models in the North could be applied
The Dublin Lord Mayor, Mr Michael Conaghan, said the newly
established commission had already met Garda management and the
Minister for Justice, Mr McDowell, and both had signalled support
for the introduction of formal community policing arrangements in
Mr Conaghan said there were three "ah hoc" community policing
initiatives in Dublin at present - in the north inner city, Rialto
and Cabra - but "they vary a great deal in composition and
In addition, such measures tended to "rise and fall on the basis of
the energy or commitment of a local superintendent".
The commission, which was established by the newly- elected city
council in September, is to make recommendations to the Minister
next month, not only in the area of community policing but also on
the possibility of introducing 24-hour courts to act as a deterrent
against street crime.
Mr Conaghan said a delegation from the commission planned to travel
to New York next February to see how round-the-clock community
courts worked there.
Community policing measures in Wales and Northern Ireland are also
to be scrutinised by the body, which comprises elected
representatives, city management and outside experts in
In proposing changes to policing structures in the capital, the
commission hopes to shape the final outcome of the Garda Síochána
Bill, which is due to be published by the Minister shortly.
Mr Conaghan said he had already had two separate meetings with Mr
McDowell, who had appointed a liaison person to the commission. The
body has also met the Garda Commissioner, Mr Noel Conroy, and
Assistant Commissioner Mr Al McHugh.
"The overall impression I have is that the Minister and the
commissioner are keen on partnership," Mr Conaghan said.
The commission is also meeting business groups, publicans, youth
groups, residents and members of the legal profession, including
judges - headed by Judge Peter Smithwick, president of the District
Court - to get their input into discussions.
Mr Conaghan said the commission wanted to hear from the public,
especially those adversely affected by anti-social behaviour.
"Our intent is to influence the final content and shape of the
Bill, and the ethos of the Bill, so that it takes into account the
concerns of local people."
Submissions can be sent to the Mansion House (or emailed to
© The Irish Times
Wildlife Service Says No Evidence Of Seal-Clubbing
Anne Lucey & Lorna Siggins
The regional manager of the National Parks and Wildlife Service
in Kerry, Mr Paddy O'Sullivan, has warned about "jumping to the
wrong conclusions" in the case of the deaths of over 40 grey seals
on an island off Kerry.
There was no evidence of disembowelling, clubbing or the kind of
"sadistic" attack on the seals on Beginish Island, as suggested
initially, he said.
A number of the pups had died of starvation, others of unattributed
causes, and others had been shot, he believed.
There was no evidence "that there was any of kind of sadistic
attack on these seals", Mr O'Sullivan said.
Holes thought to be bullet holes had turned out to be made by gulls
in a number of cases.
"We are going to investigate this thoroughly and comprehensively.
But I want people to stand back and allow the situation to be
assessed properly. We didn't find any evidence of seals being
However, the Irish Seal Sanctuary said it was standing by its
claims of barbaric slaughter, and that the prompt post- mortem
results on three animals sent to UCC for analysis had supported
Initial findings, released yesterday, were that one seal had been
shot, one had an instrument driven through its eye, and one had
The shocking images of bloodied seals have caused widespread
However, it has also emerged that gulls and decomposition may have
been responsible for much of the bloodied carcasses and ripped-open
Mr O'Sullivan said seal pups would naturally have fallen prey to
Fishermen have been calling for a cull, because of the quantities
of fish that seals eat, and the damage they do to nets.
A Cambridge study found that the mammals can consume 7.5 kilos of
fish a day to meet energy requirements.
The Irish South and West Fishermen's Organisation (IS&WFO)
condemned the reported killing of the seals.
The organisation said it would be "very surprised" if any of its
members were involved in the incident.
Ms Pauline Beades of the Irish Seal Sanctuary said it was not
attributing the blame to the wider fishing community.
It would continue to work with the authorities and wanted justice
for wildlife and for fishermen, she said.
Initial claims by the sanctuary of widespread disembowelling and
bludgeoning have been denied also by the gardaí.
According to one expert investigator who visited the scene, but who
did not wish to be named, a large number of the seals had no
physical injuries. All had their eyes removed by gulls.
The claimed disembowelling of the pups was the result of damage by
birds, he said. "Because when the gull pulls at the stomach gut,
the whole stomach opens," he said.
Investigations are being led jointly by gardaí and the National
Parks and Wildlife Service. Local veterinary surgeons and the
Department of the Marine are also involved.
Mr O'Sullivan has appealed for information on the shootings.
Seal pups naturally have a high mortality rate, and in some cases
mothers do not return to feed their young.
Mr O'Sullivan said a number of avenues were being explored,
including, in some cases, the possibility of a virus.
An empty bullet shell was found on Beginish, it is understood.
It is an offence to hunt seals under the Wildlife Act, 1976.
The Blaskets are one of the main breeding grounds for grey seals,
up to 20,000 of which migrate from Scotland annually. No precise
figures are available for abundance, and an Irish-Welsh EU Interreg
study on the marine mammal four years ago called for a proper
island-wide census before any "sustainable management" strategies
could be considered.
© The Irish Times
Pub Smokers In Scotland Face Fines Of £3,600
By Tom Peterkin, Scottish Political Correspondent
Smokers who flout a ban on lighting up in restaurants and pubs in
Scotland face fines of up to £3,600, it emerged yesterday.
The amount was disclosed shortly before the Scottish Cabinet is
expected to outlaw smoking in public places. Although a formal
decision has yet to be taken, it is understood ministers believe
they cannot have a fine that is any less than the 3,000 euros or
£2,096 imposed in Ireland.
Penalties for smoking in pubs and restaurants should be the same in
Scotland as they are in Ireland
Heavier fines up to £3,600 would be handed out for those publicans
who repeatedly allow smoking in licensed premises or smokers who
offend several times.
On Wednesday, ministers are expected to push ahead with the move
that will see Scotland become the first part of Britain to follow
Ireland's example by spring 2006. In England and Wales, the
Government will publish a White Paper this week which is expected
to propose strict limits on smoking in public places but stopping
short of a total ban.
Levels of fines to be imposed for breaching the restrictions have
not yet been set out. Despite moves north of the border, evidence
of opposition has emerged in a poll commissioned by the Scottish
Executive. It found most people are opposed to banning smoking in
Although more than half of the 1,000 polled wanted to see new
measures introduced to cut down passive smoking, two thirds still
wanted smoking permitted in pubs. Critics of the ban, which has
become closely associated with Jack McConnell, the First Minister,
were angered by the scale of the fines.
A spokesman for Against an Outright Ban, a pressure group supported
by the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said: "This seems very
severe and draconian when you think about some of the punishments
handed out to yobbos with knives.
"It is like taking a sledgehammer to crack a walnut."
The Scottish Executive would not comment on claims that ministers
will be unable to enforce the ban in private and social clubs. Mr
McConnell indicated he was in favour of an Irish-style ban during a
fact-finding trip to Dublin in September, arguing that dramatic
action had to be taken to improve Scotland's dismal health record.
His spokesman said yesterday: "Ministers will have research studies
on deaths caused by smoking and economic impact assessments. Public
health matters are clearly devolved," added the spokesman.
"Scotland is a nation that can make that decision and there is a
difference between Scotland and England in terms of the number of
people that smoke, the level of illness caused by smoking, the
different licensing arrangements and a different hospitality
industry." The licensed trade association has called for a more
moderate approach that would see smoking restricted to certain
areas of licensed premises.
It claimed that an all-out ban would see business fall by 25 per
cent and cause job losses. When Mr McConnell was the guest of
honour at the association's annual dinner last month, he listened
to Stuart Ross, the association chairman, denounce the Scottish
Executive's consultation exercise on smoking in public places as a
"sham". Mr Ross said his members felt "very concerned, angered and
frustrated" at the way in which business interests were addressed
during the process.
See video at:
Monasterevin Bypass Opens Today -V
One of the country's worst traffic bottlenecks will be cleared
today with the opening of the new Â140 million Monasterevin bypass
by the Minister for Transport Mr Cullen.
The official opening takes place at 11 a.m. near the Montague Hotel
on the Portlaoise road, with the bypass expected to be open to
traffic after lunchtime.
The new 17.5km M7 Heath-Mayfield motorway has been completed almost
a year ahead of schedule.
From today, as a result, drivers on the Dublin/Cork road will not
have to face the familiar tailbacks at Monasterevin.
It is the latest in a series of by-passes built on the Dublin-Cork
road in recent years.
The National Roads Authority (NRA) has said it is delighted the
road has been finished 50 weeks ahead of schedule.
"The contractors just got on with it. They had good weather all
last summer and they got the job done," said NRA spokesperson Mr
When the Kildare bypass was opened in December last year, traffic
delays in Monasterevin got worse, especially at the weekends.
The Kildare project was initially delayed due to concerns about the
safety of a rare snail. However, an innovative protective membrane
was installed under the motorway and the road was completed at a
cost of Â160 million.
It was completed four months ahead of schedule.
With the opening of the Monasterevin bypass, up to 16,000 vehicles
a day will be removed from the town.
Spokesmen for businesses and residents have welcomed the relief
from the traffic jams.
The contracts for the construction of the M7 Heath- Mayfield
motorway scheme were signed by Kildare and Laois County Councils in
February 2003 with Roadbridge Sisk taking on the project.
© The Irish Times
Dublin To Cork Motorway Target To Be Missed
When the Monasterevin bypass opens today it will be the last
stretch of the Dublin-Cork road to open for the next three years
and the target of linking the two cities by motorway by 2008 will
not now be reached.
Acknowledging that the Government's target for "substantial
completion" of the route by 2008 would not now happen, the NRA said
at the weekend that the next road opening on the M8 would be the
Fermoy bypass in mid-2007. After that, all remaining sections would
be finished by 2010 barring delays.
The Galway motorway will now also take until 2010 to complete, the
However the Minister for Transport, Mr Cullen, has said he is not
overly concerned that both routes will not make the 2008 deadline
set by his predecessor, Mr Brennan. The Minister told The Irish
Times yesterday that he was concerned an over-emphasis on
completing motorways, one after the other, would slow down progress
in inter-regional routes.
Signalling a change in direction of the programme, the Minister
said inter-regional routes, such as the Galway to Limerick road,
were "tremendously important" in terms of regional development. Our
motorway programmes are like "jobs corridors" that help the regions
to exploit their potential, he added.
The Minister also emphasised the importance of bypasses of towns
and villages to relieve traffic congestion.
In Waterford, he said the proposed city bypass would make a
tremendous difference to the business life of the city, and he was
hopeful that construction work on this route would start early in
the new year.
While the Ennis bypass in Co Clare was already under construction,
he said the link to Galway should be a priority as it was
identified by foreign direct investors in the west as being of
crucial importance in their ability to access Shannon Airport.
Similarly he said the development of a western "arc" linking the
west with Cork and the south-east was also a priority.
On the subject of tolls being used to finance additional road
building schemes, Mr Cullen said he did not favour putting tolls on
existing roads, as suggested by the NRA in the past. But he said
recent experience had given him optimism that the NRA could deliver
significant time savings on the building of the main routes and
that the "map" of the remaining four - from Dublin to the cities of
Galway, Limerick, Cork and Waterford - "will look very different in
a few years time".
© The Irish Times
Lavery Painting To Go On Public Display In June
A major early work of Sir John Lavery The Return of the Goats has
been acquired by the National Gallery of Ireland from a private
collection in Oslo and will go on public display next June.
The picture, an oil on canvas signed and dated l884, depicts an old
farmer herding his goats and was painted in the French village of
Grez sur Loing, an artists' colony near Fontainebleau, during
Lavery's period in France.
It was first exhibited at the Paris Salon that year and its
importance according to Prof Kenneth McConkey, a Lavery authority
and author of a book on the artist, lies in the instinctive way the
painter grasped the central tenets of what was then avant garde
French "plein air" naturalism. This was the belief that a picture
"should represent lived experience, should simulate an encounter
and should address the material texture of life".
Lavery once said that his stay at Grez was one of the happiest
periods of his life.
Sir John Lavery l856-1941 was born in Belfast, the son of a wine
merchant and became the first Irish painter to gain international
recognition as a society portrait painter.
Orphaned at an early age, he began his career in Glasgow as an
artist's retoucher and was commissioned in l888 to record the visit
of Queen Victoria to the Glasgow International Exhibition, an event
which launched his career.
Best known for the many alluring portraits of his stylish wife
Hazel - she appears in some 40 paintings - he was commissioned in
l927 to paint her as the image of Cathleen Ní Houlihan which
appeared on Irish banknotes from 1928 to l975.
Early Lavery paintings have been achieving high auction prices.
Birds at Grez sold for £1.2 million in December l998 and at
Christies Scottish Sale on October 28th, his picture The Goose
Girls was sold for £400,000 to a private bidder.
This painting had never been seen before and was discovered in a
cottage in south west Scotland belonging to a woman in her 60s. A
film documentary on Lavery is currently in production by BBC
Northern Ireland and is due to be screened on BBC2 in 2006.
© The Irish Times
Farrell: Pierce Is Just Messing With Me
Big News Network.com Monday 8th November, 2004
Irish actor Colin Farrell says he doesn't believe countryman Pierce
Brosnan is serious about him taking over the James Bond franchise.
Brosnan's recent announcement that he would not reprise his most
famous role has sparked a flurry of predictions about who will be
the next actor to play the popular film character.
Brosnan was quoted in the media last week as saying he would like
to see the Dublin-born Alexander and Phone Booth star headline the
next Bond film.
I think Pierce is just messing with me, causing me a lot of grief,
Farrell told UPI in a phone interview Sunday. I was doing a job in
London last week and I arrived on the set every day and everyone
was (humming the 007 theme song.)
So, would he consider playing the suave super spy if asked?
I don't know, Farrell replied. Nah. They would never offer it to me
anyway, so I wouldn't even go there.