News Ireland daily BLOG Friday

Friday 6th December 2013

John Gilligan warned his life in danger after gunman failed to find & shoot him dead


Gardaí chase gunman on motorbike through Dublin suburb and recover pistol

Gardaí have warned convicted drug dealer John Gilligan that his life is in immediate danger after what they believe was a failed attempt to shoot him dead when gunmen went to the wrong pub.

A senior Garda officer said providing him with an armed escort to prevent any future attempt on his life did not arise.

While the Garda at times provided protection to people under threat from gangs, such as witnesses in court cases or journalists, it did not offer that service to convicted criminals.

Dubliner Gilligan (61) was drinking in the Hole in the Wall pub on Blackhorse Avenue beside Dublin’s Phoenix Park on Thursday afternoon when two armed men arrived at the Halfway House in Ashtown less than 1km away.

After they were unable to find him they left on a motorbike. They were chased by gardaí and threw their gun away. It has since been recovered.

Garda sources said they were treating the incident as an attempt to murder the gang leader, adding that, aside from the information on Mr Gilligan’s whereabouts being wrong, the planning was elaborate.

“You’re talking about robbing a bike, sourcing a gun and getting the money to pay two guys willing to do it. A lot of work went into that,” said one source.

Other sources said it was unclear if the motive behind the botched attack was related to a dispute Mr Gilligan had while in Portlaoise Prison or whether he had crossed rival drug dealers since his release in mid-October after 17 years in jail.

Gardaí were alerted to Thursday’s incident when both customers and staff in the Halfway House rang 999 to report that a man wearing a black motorcycle helmet had walked into the pub with a handgun just before 4pm. He shouted “where’s Gilligan”, before being challenged by a staff member and fleeing on realising his intended victim was not in the pub.

The armed man got back on a waiting motorbike outside driven by an accomplice, and as they drove away they were seen by armed detectives in an unmarked car who had sped to the scene.

They chased the two men on the motorbike down River Road towards Finglas, and at Ratoath Road in the north Dublin suburb they failed to bring the bike to a stop. A 9mm pistol was thrown or fell from the motorbike, and the two men managed to escape. The gun was found and has since been taken for ballistic and forensic analysis.

Mr Gilligan was in the High Court in Dublin yesterday for a hearing related to the seizure of land and houses the Criminal Assets Bureau claims are the proceeds of his crimes.

Gardaí approached him in the precincts of the courts and formally warned him his life was in danger, as they are legally obliged to do in such circumstances.

Irish Banks given June deadline over mortgage arrears problem


Central Bank tells lenders to have ‘sustainable solutions’ to 75 per cent of cases

The Central Bank of Ireland has told lenders that it expects them to have provided “sustainable solutions” to 75 per cent of their mortgage arrears customers by the end of June and “concluded solutions” to 35 per cent of them by that date.

These targets form part of the regulator’s attempt to address the significant mortgage arrears problem that exists with Irish banks.

The targets apply to AIB (including EBS), Bank of Ireland(including ICS), Permanent TSBKBC Bank Ireland, Ulster Bank and ACC, which is withdrawing from the retail market here, and apply to customers who are 90 days or more in arrears.

The regulator announced its first set of targets in March his year and has been ratcheting them up since then.
Potential problemsFigures published last week showed that lenders have succeeded in meeting the Central Bank’s most recent targets for dealing with mortgage arrears, but potential problems have emerged in the nature of some of the solutions proposed, according to an audit.

The Central Bank review identified “issues” in checking facts such as a borrower’s income or the value of a property, and in following up so-called “legal” cases. The number of mortgage accounts for principal dwelling houses (PDH) in arrears, fell from 142,892 (18.5 per cent of total stock) to 141,520 (18.4 per cent) in the three months to the end of September.

PDH accounts in arrears of more than 90 days at the end of September amounted to 99,189, an increase of 1,315 on the previous quarter. This increase was driven entirely by accounts in arrears over 720 days, with all other maturity categories declining.

The number of these accounts in early arrears of less than 90 days declined by 6 per cent during the quarter. There was a total stock of 80,555 PDH accounts classified as restructured at the end of September, reflecting a quarter-on-quarter increase of 1.5 per cent.

Investigation into intellectual disability services body


Concerns of neglectful or abusive practices raised by students on placement at Stewart’s

The HSE said last night that its head of operations of disability services of its social care division had been in discussion with Stewarts Care on the issue.

An organisation providing services for persons with intellectual disability in the eastern region confirmed last night it has established an investigation into allegations made about the standard of care provided to some of its clients.

The Stewarts-Care organisation said that it was “in receipt of reports/observations that contain allegations of neglectful or abusive practices in relation to the way services are delivered to a number of service users”.

Stewarts provides services for persons with intellectual disability and has a main campus in Palmerstown in Dublin as well as other ancillary facilities in west Dublin, Kildare and Meath.

It is understood concerns were raised by a number of students from Trinity College Dublin who had been on placement in its intellectual disability services that some of the situation’s they witnessed could constitute abuse.

Highly placed sources said that allegations made by the students included shower doors not being closed while a person was being showered, persons being locked out of their bungalows and clients being spoken of as if they were not present.

It is understood the incidents highlighted by the students were alleged to have taken place at the end of last year and in the early part of 2013.

In a statement issued to The Irish Times last night Stewarts said its management had informed the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa)and the Health Service Executive it had received reports of alleged neglectful or abusive practices.

It is understood that some parents of young people with intellectual disability have also been told by Stewarts about the allegations which have been made.

Stewarts confirmed in its statement that “an investigation process has been initiated and further developments will be predicated on the outcome of this”.

The HSE said last night that its newly appointed head of operations of disability services of its social care division,Marion Meany, had been in discussion with the service provider (StewartsCare) yesterday on the issue regarding the concerns raised by the placement students “and has been fully briefed as to their action plan”.

Stewarts was established in 1869 in Dublin to provide for the education, training, and maintenance of children with a mental handicap from across the island of Ireland.

Stewarts provides extensive on-site and community-based services for clients.

The organisation supports over 300 residents, and provides wide-ranging services for some 600 clients including children and adult day attenders.

Stewarts also offers a full range of pre-school services for two- to five-year-old children with a developmental delay.

Minister Noonan hopes Moody’s may lift Ireland from Junk status in Early 2014


Ireland’s Finance Minister Michael Noonan said he hopes Moody’s Investors Service will raise the nation’s credit rating from non-investment grade as the country exits its bailout program and plans debt sales.

“We’re hopeful that Moody’s will have another look at us early in the New Year,” Noonan, 70, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in London. “The mood from all the rating agencies is positive at present.”

Ireland’s Finance Minister Michael Noonan said, “We’re hopeful that Moody’s will have another look at us early in the New Year.” Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Dec. 6 (Bloomberg) — Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan talks about the country’s banking system and the planned exit from its bailout program. He speaks with Guy Johnson and Francine Lacqua on Bloomberg Television’s “The Pulse.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Ireland is preparing to exit the 67.5 billion-euros ($92 billion) aid program it entered in 2010, after its financial system almost collapsed. Irish government bonds, which slumped as the nation took a bailout, have returned 11.5 percent this year, amid signs the economic outlook is improving.

Moody’s, which gave Ireland its top Aaa grade in 1998 before the euro was introduced, cut its rating on the nation to non-investment grade, or junk, in July 2011 after a real-estate market collapse.

“Moody’s difficulty seems to be with the European Union and the euro zone, rather than with Ireland specifically,” Noonan said. “That’s what they’ve told us.”

A junk rating cuts out some money managers, whose investment criteria stop them buying low-rated securities. Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings, rank Ireland at BBB+, three levels above non-investment grade.

Cash Buffer

The yield on Ireland’s 10-year bonds was little changed at 3.56 percent at 1:30 p.m. London time, leaving the yield difference, or spread, over similar-maturity German bunds at 1.70 percentage points.

Noonan said Ireland will exceed its budgetary targets this year and the government has a cash buffer of more than 20 billion euros.

“We’re in a good place,” he said in a speech after the interview. “We decided to exit the bailout and do it cleanly without any precautionary programs or any dedicated credit lines. We’re not jumping out of the plane without a parachute. We have cash buffers in excess of 20 billion. That funds up to the second quarter of 2015 if we never entered the market.”

Anglo Irish

The Irish government injected 64 billion euros into lenders including Anglo Irish Bank Corp. and Allied Irish Banks Plc. This week, the state sold 1.3 billion euros of preferred shares in another firm — Bank of Ireland — to investors at a 4.75 percent premium. That was beyond Noonan’s expectations, he said.

“A lot of people want to buy our paper,” Noonan said. “We’re not junk, we’re doing fine.”

There’s no evidence that the country’s lenders need more capital, Noonan said. He’ll “take time and see” what to do with Ireland’s 99.9 percent stake in Dublin-based Allied Irish, which is probably worth between 5 billion euros and 7 billion euros, he said. He said he’s still “hopeful” on the government’s campaign to win retroactive recapitalization of the banking system.

Private firm plans the first controlled landing on lunar surface in 40 years

its Back to the moon


  • MX-1 will blast off in 2015 on a mission ahead of plans to mine the moon
  • Designed by Moon Express, it was unveiled in Las Vegas last night
  • It will scoop up rock samples from lunar surface to be ferried back to Earth 
  • Moon is a gold mine of titanium and platinum and other rare minerals
  • The last time America landed on moon was with
  • Apollo 17 in 1972
  • America is to pay the moon a visit for the first time since Apollo 17 touched down there more than 40 years ago.
    • The privately-owned MX-1 will blast off in 2015 on a reconnaissance mission ahead of plans to mine the moon for minerals.
    • The unmanned spacecraft, unveiled last night at the Autodesk University show in Las Vegas, will scoop up rock and dust samples from the lunar surface to be ferried back to Earth for testing.

The moondirt brought back by mankind’s first moonwalkers, Gene Cernan, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, contained an abundance of titanium, platinum and other rare minerals and Moon Express plan to plunder that gold mine ‘for the good of humanity’.

‘The MX-1 is the ‘iPhone of space,’ said Bob Richards, co-founder and CEO of manufacturer Moon Express. ‘[It’s] a platform capable of supporting many apps including our core plan of exploring the Moon for resources of benefit to humanity.’

Fuelled by hydrogen peroxide, the ‘microlander’ can deliver up to 130 pounds of cargo to the surface of the moon, or act as a sample return vehicle or a ‘space-tug’, he said.

Moon Express is introducing the MX-1 as the first of a series of robotic space vehicles based on a scalable patent pending design to operate in Earth orbit and deep space destinations.

The last time a U.S. spacecraft touched down on the moon was on December 17 1972 when astronauts brought home 110kg of moon rock.

Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt spent about 75 hours on the Moon in the Taurus-Littrow valley, while colleague Ronald Evans orbited overhead.

Apollo 17 was the sixth and last Apollo mission and the last time that humans walked on the surface.

The mission returned to earth on December 19, 1972.

The team carried out a series of experiments including seismic profiling, atmospheric composition analysis and lunar sampling, orbital and biomedical experiments.

The crew spent 22 hours on the lunar surface in total.

Last year Nasa released an image taken by Cernan as he and Schmitt roamed the valley floor.

The image shows Schmitt on the left with the lunar rover at the edge of Shorty Crater, near the spot where geologist Schmitt discovered orange lunar soil.

The Apollo 17 crew returned with 110 kilograms of rock and soil samples, more than was returned from any of the other lunar landing sites.

Now forty years later, Cernan and Schmitt are still the last to walk on the Moon.

Moon Express is just one of many private companies planning space missions.

Tourism, orbiting hotels are among the areas explored so far – but none has exploded more than the moon. Astrobiotic Technology is also vying to mine the moon.

Meanwhile, Bigelow Aerospace wants to sell property there, a Japanese firm suggested a solar panel power ring, and on Monday China launched the Chang’e 3 lander, which should touch down on the moon in mid-December.

It has even been claimed China wants to turn the moon into a ‘Death Star’ by planting missile silos on its surface.

It will be the first controlled landing since the Soviet Union’s Luna-24 mission in 1976.

‘Nine billion. That’s how many people will be alive on the Earth as soon as 36 years from now,’ Dennis Wingo, a space entrepreneur and author of the book MoonRush, told Fox News. ‘The moon and beyond is an extension of our earthly society, with vast resources in metals and a place to expand human activity.’

Moon Express is yet to pick a place to land in 2015.

Richards said he is considering a spot in the Southern Hemisphere, near Surveyor 7 – the last robotic mission, which the U.S. soft-landed on the moon in 1968.

‘It’s iconic to have the first private robotic lander resting next to the last government robotic lander,’ he added.


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