News Ireland daily BLOG Monday

Monday 4th November 2013

Girl now identified 

Teenage girl found on O’Connell Street identified by Gardaí tonight

Gardai have released photographs of a young girl who found in a distressed state on O’Connell Street in Dublin on October 10th. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times 

Officers will be liaising with the Australian police after assistance from the public

Gardaí said tonight they have identified the girl found on O’Connell Street in Dublin last month .

They are now following a definite line of enquiry after assistance from the public.

While they have not released the girl’s name or where she is from, they say they will be liaising closely with the Australian police and the HSE to “finalise the matter.”

Gardaí today released a photo of the girl after reaching “an impasse” in their enquiries.

The High Court last week granted Gardaí permission to release information about the teenager, believed to be aged 14 or 15, who was found in a distressed state outside the GPO on October 10th.

One line of enquiry is the possibility that the girl may have been trafficked into the country.

Superintendent David Taylor said today gardaí have established the clothes she was found wearing were purchased in “major Irish retailers”.

The girl is described as 168cm (5ft 6in) in height, of slim build, and having long blonde hair. When found, she was wearing a purple hooded top, tight dark coloured jeans, flat black shoes, and a grey woollen jumper.

“We understand that the clothes were purchased in major Irish retailers,” said Supt Taylor. “We have carried out extensive enquiries but we have been unable to determine when these clothes were bought.”

The girl has been fitted with braces on her teeth and gardaí said they have canvassed paediatric orthodontists acrossIreland for information. “Maybe she got treatment in another jurisdiction so we’re hoping some professional might come forward and say they treated the child,” said Supt Taylor. He added there is “nothing particularly characteristic” about the braces.

Gardaí have “engaged” with the girl, who has limited English, but they have been unable to identify her or her country of origin. Specialist child interviewers have been utilised by investigators.

Supt Taylor said the Garda investigation into the matter – dubbed Operation Shepard – had been “huge”. It has involved over 2,000 man hours and been conducted in collaboration with a number of agencies including Interpol, the Garda National Immigration Bureau and the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit.

Some 115 lines of enquiry have been followed up on, including the canvassing of airports, ports, and train stations. Guesthouses and B&Bs in the city centre have been contacted and checked for individuals who made bookings and failed to turn up.

CCTV footage from the area the girl was found as well as from around the city have been trawled through – while the Garda Pulse system and missing persons list have also been examined.

As a result of these enquiries, 15 possible names were provided to investigators – but all of these were checked and proved fruitless.

“The child’s welfare is paramount,” said Supt Taylor. “We don’t take [releasing the girl’s photo] lightly. We conducted a huge investigation – engaged with everybody – but we’ve come to the point where we’re unable to identify her.

“Obviously the child is in an interim care order with the HSE at the moment. Anybody who comes forward, a full investigation will be conducted to confirm the veracity of information.

The HSE was against a picture of the girl being published. Its lawyers said professionals who have been working with her believe publication could have “a disturbing effect on her”.

Gardaí now publish the photograph of the unknown 14-15 yr old girl found in O’Connell St. Dublin

Gardaí investigating the discovery of an unidentified girl on O’Connell Street in Dublin last month have released a photograph of her.The girl was found in a distressed stated on October 10th.Despite several weeks of investigation, and following 115 lines of inquiry, detectives have yet to identify her. It is believed she is either 14 or 15 years old and European. She has been taken into State care.

At a press briefing today, Superintendent Dave Taylor said she has limited English and has drawn some sketches in an attempt to communicate her ordeal, which remains a mystery.

“This investigation has involved over 2,000 hours, engaging with all the relevant authorities and all the relevant specialists in this area, but unfortunately we have been unable to identify her,” he said. “At the moment we need to find out who this child is.”

The High Court last week granted gardaí permission to release information about the teenager.

On Friday afternoon, Mr Justice George Birminghamgranted gardaí an order under Section 31.2 of the 1991 Child Care Act allowing them, in the excercise of their operational discretion, to release information concerning the girl to print and broadcast media.

On Thursday, lawyers for the Garda Commissioner, in seeking the order, told the court the investigation had “hit a brick wall”.

Gardaí had reached “a deadlock” in their efforts to identify the girl and every possible avenue had been exhausted.

Despite their intensive efforts gardaí were unable to establish who the girl is, where she comes from or who her family are.

They believe that a criminal offence has been committed against the girl, who is currently receiving treatment and is in the care of the HSE.

The girl’s court-appointed guardian supported the Garda application. Felix McEnroy SC on behalf of the guardian said it was in the girls best interests that steps be taken to identify her.

The HSE was against a picture of the girl being published. Its lawyers said professionals who have been working with her believe publication could have “a disturbing effect on her”.

New €125 million fund to boost Irish small and medium businesses


The funding will assist businesses that need capital for expansion.

An investment fund of €125 million for small and medium businesses was announced today by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton.

The capital fund aims to address the equity gap for companies that need capital for expansion and will be managed by the London based MML Growth Capital.

Enterprise Ireland has committed €25 million under the Government’s Development Capital Scheme, with AIB, the European Investment Fund, Gold Point Partners, and two United States subsidiaries of the Cigna Corporation making up the balance.

Create and innovate

The Irish Software Association (ISA) welcomed the funding announcement stating that while the fund will not solve the funding gap, it will help tech businesses “create” and “innovate”.

Edel Creely, ISA Chair and Managing Director of Trilogy Technologies, said it will give some SMEs access to funding to finance potential new revenue streams and to export globally.

She said it also gives a strong signal to Ireland’s SME community that the government recognises the potential of the SME sector to deliver jobs and an innovation-intensive economy.

Minister Bruton said that today’s announcement will mean that the first funds under this scheme will now start flowing into the market which will mean that more companies will be able to access the required development capital, enabling them to expand into export markets and create new jobs.

Early to bed kids could help towards preventing obesity


Putting children to bed earlier may be a simple way to keep their weight down, research has shown.

Childhood obesity is not only caused by poor diet and lack of exercise, the findings suggest. Lack of sleep also appears to be an important factor.

Scientists made the discovery after adjusting the sleep patterns of 37 children aged eight to 11, more than a quarter of whom were overweight or obese.

For the first week of the study, children were asked to sleep their typical amount. During the second week, they randomly had their sleep time either reduced or lengthened. Over the course of the third week, they were given the opposite sleep schedule.

When children increased their sleep, they reported consuming an average 134 fewer calories per day and 227g in weight.

Tests revealed lower fasting levels of the hunger-regulating hormone leptin.

“Findings from this study suggest that enhancing school-age children’s sleep at night could have important implications for prevention and treatment of obesity,” said Chantelle Hart from Temple University in Philadelphia. “The potential role of sleep should be further explored.”

The findings are published in the journal Pediatrics. Now, Dr Hart is working on a follow-up study to find if increased sleep produces significant changes in eating patterns, activity, and weight.

“Given all of its documented benefits, you can’t lose in promoting a good night’s sleep,” she said.

Connemara Mining group awarded 10 licences to look for Gold etc.


John Teeling’s Connemara Mining Company to look for gold in Donegal

  Connemara Mining Company has been awarded 10 prospecting licences covering gold, silver and base metals in the Stranorlar region of Donegal. The mining company, which is led by executive chairman John Teeling, founder of Cooley Distillery, will focus its exploration on gold.

According to the company, the Donegal ground was selected by Connemara’s geologists following a “rigorous review of gold opportunities in Ireland”. Historical records of the Donegal area show certain anomalies consistent with gold while the geology shares similarities with the major gold discoveries by Dalradian Resources and others in Tyrone, Northern Ireland.

“The geology of Donegal lies within the highly prospective Dalradian terrane which is also home to the Curraghinalt Gold Deposit in Northern Ireland and the Cononish Mine in Scotland. Traces of gold have been discovered in earlier exploration in Donegal. We were delighted that the Tellus data issued in recent days re-enforces our findings. This is early stage prospecting but the potential is good,” said Mr Teeling, adding that Connemara is “actively involved in the gold renaissance in Ireland”.

Irish School inspectors find weakness in teaching of Irish language and maths


Significant weaknesses exist in the teaching of Irish, and to a lesser extent, math’s, have been found in Irish schools.

Communications with parents is another area where schools must do better, according to a new report.

The most comprehensive picture ever of what is happening in Irish schools was published today.

The Chief Inspector’s Report 2010-12 gives a detailed overview of the quality of teaching and learning, based on visits by inspectors to 93pc of primary and post-primary schools over the period.

It also includes the findings of surveys of parents and pupils on their experiences of the system.

The report expresses particular concern about the teaching of Irish at both primary and post-primary level.

It also points to weaknesses in maths teaching at post-primary level – but there is a hope that the new Project Maths syllabus will overcome those problems.

Department of Education chief inspector Harold Hislop said a “very significant” 24pc of Irish lessons in primary schools were less than satisfactory.

Similarly, in post-primary schools the quality of teaching was “satisfactory or better” in only 72pc of lessons, and in some cases teachers’ own skills in the language were deficient.

It found that the quality of learning in Irish was problematic in 32pc of cases – as many as one in three students.

The report also highlighted issues around maths in post-primary schools.

In 20pc of schools there were deficiencies in planning and preparing for teaching the subject, the quality of  teaching was only “satisfactory or better” in 77pc of classes and the quality of learning was less than satisfactory in 26oc of lessons.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said while the report acknowledged all the good practices taking place on a daily basis in schools, it also showed a system “screaming for reform” in some areas.

Trophy Hunting of Wolves and Bears Is Changing Their Behavior and Habitats


A top predator that must constantly look over its shoulder for fear of human hunters may not be a top predator any more.

Humans have probably been hunting big, scary predators for as long as we have been human, and for the obvious reasons: They are big. They are scary. And they are competition. The fear goes deep in our culture— the Big Bad Wolf was appearing in folk tales in the early middle ages. When I spent a little time on foot in lion habitat a few years ago, the fear felt even more deeply rooted, down somewhere in my gut. Hunting helps restore our precious illusion of control.

Even today, and even among people who may privately loathe the practice, trophy hunting of top predators can seem like a useful tool. The theory is that trophy fees—$10,000 for a lion, say—help pay to protect habitat and keep out poachers. These fees can also provide economic benefits to local communities. In theory, that increases tolerance among people who still live with large, dangerous animals outside their garden gates. Hunting some species may thus serve as the means to increase their numbers— killing predators in order to save them.

But a new study in the journal Biological Conservation asks whether what’s actually happening is the opposite: These methods may be saving large carnivores numerically, but altering their role as apex predators. A top predator that must constantly “look over its shoulder” for fear of human hunters, Andrés Ordiz and his co-authors suggest, may not be a top predator any more. And the effects of that subtle shift can reverberate through entire ecosystems.

As hunters tend to know too well, even white-tailed deer or Canada geese know what to do and where to avoid when hunting season starts. It’s the same for predators, according to the new study: Brown bears tend to shift their daily foraging and resting routines when human hunters arrive. So do lions. Wolves may actually relocate their breeding sites.

These animals’ natural ecological function as predators is to instill “the landscape of fear” in their prey. But they become victims of that landscape instead, spending more time and energy being vigilant, and less out hunting. That means they may not be as effective at controlling numbers of prey species like moose or elk, according to Ordiz and his co-authors. And that can lead in turn to overgrazing and a cascade of other effects on the habitat.

Over the long-term, persistent hunting may also make the predators themselves less big and bad. The long history of hunting and persecution in Europe may be one reason, the study suggests, that European brown bears are not nearly as fierce as grizzlies in North America, though they are the same species, Ursus arctos. “Long-term, human-caused selection may explain the reduced aggression of brown bears towards people, their nocturnal behavior, and their higher investment in reproduction,” the authors write.


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