Daily Archives: May 18, 2014

Donie’s news Ireland BLOG

Saturday/Sunday 18 & 19th May 2014

Fr. McVerry warns of a tsunami of homelessness in Ireland


Campaigner says that rising rents and housing shortages are ‘beyond a crisis’

Social justice campaigner Fr Peter McVerry has warned of a “tsunami of homelessness” as rising rents, housing shortages and home repossessions worsen over the coming month

Social justice campaigner Fr Peter McVerry has warned of a “tsunami of homelessness” as rising rents, housing shortages and home repossessions worsen over the coming months.

He said the traditional routes out of homelessness – social housing and the private rented sector – were out of reach for many in need of support.

On top of this, the scale of buy-to-let mortgages in arrears meant thousands of additional people may also be forced to find accommodation in the near future.

“In all the years I have been working with homeless people; it has never been so bad. We are, even I would say, beyond crisis at this stage,” he told RTÉ’s Sunday with Miriam radio programme.

“There are six new people becoming homeless every day and that’s the official figures. It may be more than that”.

The output of social housing has fallen by 90 per cent over recent years, despite a near-doubling in the number on social housing waiting lists.

“There is a dearth of social housing. In the cities and in Dublin in particular, the private rental sector is out of reach for homeless people because the rents are escalating, they are going through the roof…

“The demand for rented accommodation far exceeds supply, and not only can homeless people not get into rented accommodation; but people already in rented accommodation are losing it. So, the people in rented accommodation are losing their accommodation and becoming homeless,” he said.

The fact that there were an estimated 40,000 buy-to-let mortgages in arrears means that a “torrent of water is coming, and there’s no way out”.

“Ultimately, because of the changing nature of homelessness, these are ordinary people who will vote, and their families will vote, I think this whole issue of housing and homelessness could bring this Government down,” he said.

“There is a dearth of social housing. In the cities and in Dublin in particular, the private rental sector is out of reach for homeless people because the rents are escalating, they are going through the roof”.

He called on the Government to immediately buy or rent out an additional 1,500 homes to prevent housing shortages spiralling out of control.

Daniel O’Donnell in mourning as his mum Julia (94) dies


Singer Daniel O’Donnell is in mourning today following the death of his beloved mother Julia in the early hours of this morning.

A heartbroken Daniel (52) broke the news to fans that his 94-year old mother had passed away at 3.50am as her family kept a bedside vigil.

“It is with great sadness that we have to announce that our dear mother Julia passed away peacefully in the loving care of the staff of Dungloe Hospital surrounded by all her family on Sunday, May 18 at 3.50am,” said Daniel.

“My siblings John, Margaret, Kathleen, James and myself would like to thank you all for the kindness you have shown to her down through the years. May her gentle soul rest in peace,” he added.

Daniel’s wife Majella also revealed the news to her Twitter followers.

“It is with sadness that I announce the death of Daniel’s mother Julia, rest in peace…” said 54-year-old Majella.

The Donegal singer rushed home earlier this week from gigging in Scotland as his mother took very ill.

Friends of the star have been posting messages of love and support this morning.

“RIP Julia, a great woman,” wrote one.

“You will all remain in our thoughts and prayers. Love to you Daniel,” another friend posted.

“Our thoughts are with you,” said another.

Julia, a native of the small island of Owey, Co Donegal, moved to Kincasslagh when she married Francie O’Donnell.

The couple went on to have five children, the youngest Daniel. Julia was widowed prematurely in 1968 when Francie died from a heart attack aged just 49.

“When (my father) died, my mother lost her partner in life and was left alone to shoulder the responsibility of rearing us. The love and admiration I hold for my mother knows no bounds because she ensured we never wanted for anything,” said Daniel.

Daniel was only six years old and he fondly recalls how Julia raised her five children single-handedly.

“I suspect people have the impression that my mother kept me hanging on to her apron strings when I was a kid, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“She wasn’t at all overprotective. I had great freedom, a terrific childhood the same as everyone else in our area. I was always in and out of neighbours’ houses when I was a child and I was full of news,” said the performer.

In recent years Julia went to live with Daniel’s sister Kathleen and her family in Kincasslagh before moving to nursing home care in Dungloe.

Dublin priest named as new Bishop of Elphin


A priest from Dublin (right pic.) has been appointed the Bishop of Elphin in the midlands and west of Ireland. He moves from his Donnybrook parish to the Sligo based Diocese.

Kevin Doran, 61, was named by Pope Francis to succeed retired Bishop Christopher Jones at the head of the Elphin diocese.

The bishop-elect secured the promotion after serving as secretary general for the 50th International Eucharistic Congress, which saw 150,000 Catholic pilgrims come to Dublin in June 2012.

In a ceremony at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Sligo, Bishop-elect Doran said: “I must confess to being a little surprised to find myself here this morning.

“Two weeks ago, we finalised a development plan for the parish, and that was the only plan I had in mind for the foreseeable future. I have learnt over the years, however, that vocation is never static.”

The diocese of Elphin, which stretches from Westmeath to Roscommon, Sligo and Galway, has 37 parishes, 90 churches, and a Catholic population of about 70,000.

Bishop Jones, who set up the Catholic Church’s crisis pregnancy agency Cura in 1977, retires after 20 years leading the diocese.

The senior cleric had been responsible for leading the church’s formal opposition to the Government’s plans to legislate for termination of pregnancy if a woman’s life is at risk.

Bishop Jones was criticised by some politicians for his approach, with some describing his language as offensive and disturbing in submissions to Oireachtas Health Committee hearings on the laws early last year.

The child protection work in the diocese during his final months was praised last year following a review by the Catholic Church’s watchdog.

Cardinal Sean Brady praised Bishop-elect Doran for his work organising the 50th International Eucharistic Congress.

“His advocacy and championing of the right to life of the unborn child, and his work in promoting vocations to the priesthood, are but two of the many talents and gifts which Bishop-elect Kevin has shared during his priestly ministry for the good of the Church and of our society,” the Cardinal said.

“As their new bishop, I know that he will receive all the necessary support, cooperation and be received enthusiastically by the laity, religious, priests of the historic Diocese of Elphin.

Green sea Turtle’s chances soar with prosthetic fin modelled on wings of a F-22 Raptor


The green sea turtle swims with a prosthetic fin at the Sea Turtle Rescue Centre in Michmoret, Israel. 

A badly injured sea turtle’s prospects are looking up, thanks to a new prosthetic fin designed by an Israeli team and modelled on the wings of a US fighter jet.

The green sea turtle, named “Hofesh”, the Hebrew word for “freedom”, was caught in a fishing net off Israel’s Mediterranean coast in early 2009. With his two left flippers badly injured, rescuers had to amputate, leaving him with a pair of stumps that made it difficult to swim.

Yaniv Levy, director of Israel’s Sea Turtle Rescue Centre, said Hofesh was initially fitted with a diver’s fin, but it provided little relief and he bumped into things as he tried to swim.

The prosthetic fin is modelled on the wings of Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor warplane, a US fighter jet

Shlomi Gez, an industrial design student at Jerusalem’s Hadassah College, read about the animal on the internet and wanted to help. He designed a prosthetic based on a fish’s dorsal fin. The contraption provided some improvement, but Hofesh still had trouble breathing and rising to the surface.

Then, inspired by the design of Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor warplane, Gez designed a new prosthetic with two fins. The device, somewhat resembling the aircraft’s wings, was strapped on to Hofesh’s back on Thursday, allowing him to move easily around his tank.

“I discovered it worked better than one fin on the back,” Gez explained. “With two fins, he keeps relatively balanced, even above the water.”

Levy said that Hofesh will never be able to return to the wild.

But he shares a tank with a blind female turtle named Tsurit, and researchers are optimistic the pair will mate, potentially adding to the local population of the endangered green sea turtles.

He said it was difficult to say exactly how old the two turtles are, but they are estimated to be between 20 and 25, and approaching the age of sexual maturity.

“We have great plans for this guy,” Levy said.

“They will never go back to the wild, but their offspring will be released the minute they hatch and go immediately into the sea and live normally in the wild,” he added.

Huge pod of dolphins in Cork Harbour makes for a spectacular marine show


Do you want to see whales and dolphins in their natural environment? then you need to go no further than West Cork to catch a spectacular marine show.

Every few months, videos seem to crop up of whales and dolphins doing spectacular things off the south west.

The latest Video taken on Wednesday afternoon by Richard O’Flynn from Baltimore sees a huge pod of common dolphins swimming near the local harbour.

According to Padraig Whooley of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG), the whole of West Cork and even parts of Kerry have become world class whale watching locations.

“Well, the first thing is this is not something peculiar to Baltimore. If you look at our website you will see whale and dolphin sightings all across West Cork in the last month. It’s really a Cork thing and even up to Kerry.

For example, we had a large number of Minke whales off Slea Head and basking shark sightings which lots of people like to see as they are the second largest fish on the planet,” he said.

Mr Whooley said this year had been “unseasonably good” for whale watching as a result of the storms experienced during the winter.

The savage winter storms resulted in nutrients being released into the sea, running off from the land and through streams and rivers. It led to a phytoplankton bloom which consequently attracted smaller fish to feed on. This, in turn, brought larger predators like the sharks and whales we are seeing now,” he said.

Mr Whooley said whale watching in Cork now ranked up with some of the very best in the world.

“We have been saying this for 20 years. Our whale watching potential, including dolphins, in places like Cork, and west Cork in particular, in the right season and with the right weather is world class.”

“I think there is finally a realisation that whale watching has a not insignificant contribution to make to marine tourism in this country. I think Fáilte Ireland are realising that and the promotion of the Wild Atlantic Way is highlighting our marine tourism potential,” he said.

The IWDG said in the weather we are currently experiencing, people don’t need to own a boat to enjoy the spectacular shows marine life put on off the coast of Cork.

“The entire West Cork area and even into Kerry, people can have the most wonderful encounters with Minke Whales, common dolphins and basking sharks. Plus you don’t have to go out in a boat to see it. In this weather, in particular, you can go out to your local headland with a pair of binoculars, a flask of tea and some sandwiches and have some stunning encounters.”