Daily Archives: May 31, 2014

News Ireland daily BLOG Saturday

Saturday 31st May 2014

McGuinness says the Disappeared one of the worst legacies of the Troubles


Deputy north’s First Minister attended Windsor Castle banquet as it was the “decent thing to do”

The IRA practise of ‘disappearing’ people they executed in the 1970s was terrible, shameful and one of the worst things that happened during the Troubles, Martin McGuinness has said

The IRA practise of ‘disappearing’ people they executed in the 1970s was terrible, shameful and one of the worst things that happened during the Troubles, Martin McGuiness has said.

Northern Ireland’s deputy First Minister also said Britain’s Queen Elizabeth had a “very genuine commitment” to theNorthern Ireland peace process.

In a wide-ranging interview with Marian Finucane this morning, Mr McGuinness said he had voiced his opposition to the IRA practise of “disappearing” people – burying the bodies of people they had executed in such remote places that, they hoped, they would never be found. To him there was “no rationale” for the practise.

The IRA has admitted being involved in the ‘disappearing’ of nine people during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The most high profile of these was Jean McConville, a mother-of-ten from west Belfast who was murdered in 1972 and buried on a beach in Co Louth. It was claimed she had been passing information to the British Army in exchange for money though an investigation by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland rejected this claim

Asked why the IRA ’disappeared’ people ather than leaving their bodies – both as a ‘warning’ and to allow their families to have funerals, Mr McGuiness said he believed it was because Republicans in the1970s wanted the public focus to be on the conflict between the IRA and the British and not on how they dealt with informers.

“It was something they didn’t want to be publicly associated with, and that was the public execution of people from their own community who had been in the employ of or who had been agents for the British forces. I don’t accept that argument and I said that at the time.”

He said of the practice: “Terrible. Absolutely terrible and shameful and very, very wrong, in my opinion. It was awful. I suppose in the context of a very bitter conflict where terrible things were happening on all sides, this was one of the worst things that ever happened. “

He was asked about shaking the British monarch’s hand during her visit to Belfast in June 2012. “I made the argument that this was an opportunity to reach out the hand of reconciliation through her to the Unionist community and I believed it would have been a mistake not to meet with someone who obviously herself was making an effort. And so the handshake happened. There was a lot of discussion within the party before it.”

On accepting the invitation to the banquet in Windsor Castle on the occasion of the State visit to Britain by President Higgins, Mr McGuinness said the thing that “rankled most” with Republicans was his wearing a white dress suit.

When he had to stand for God Save The Queen and toast the queen, he said he thought to himself: “’This is a first’.

“To me it was the decent thing to do. I was there, alongsidePeter Robinson, to represent the Northern Executive and I wasn’t up for a half-baked approach to it. Isn’t that what equality is all about? The queen of England knows that she is not my queen and she knows the President of Ireland is my President, but I show due respect to both of them.”

He said he had no doubts that the queen was a person “who really, absolutely believes she has a role to play in the process of reconciliation” and she had a “very genuine commitment to the whole process”.

He said of the fragility of the peace process: “I think that things are difficult at the moment, mostly because of the failure to get a comprehensive agreement on the past, parades and the whole issue of flags and identity.”

He said there was a short window of opportunity, now the elections were over, to resume negotiations at the Hass talks, before the marching season began in July

The Irish Medical card battle is from being over,

say irish patient support groups


Minister of State for Primary Care Alex White, acknowledged yesterday the Government had been “too slow” to move on the issue of discretionary medical cards.

HSE says it is not possible to restore cards to people who lost them under review

Patient-support groups have vowed to keep up pressure on the Government to reinstate medical cards taken from sick children over the past two years.

The HSE yesterday said it was not legally possible to restore medical cards to people who had lost them during the review process. It also refused to give a guarantee that people making new applications would not be refused a card pending the introduction of a new eligibility system.

However, Jonathan Irwin, chief executive of the Jack & Jill Foundation, warned that the medical card “battle” was far from over and the Government had not gone far enough.

“What about the children with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions who have lost their medical card already over the past two years?

“They are no better off today and are still without their medical cards. These children must have their medical cards reinstated immediately.”

New applications

He also queried the position in relation to new applications on behalf of children whose parents would be forced to go through the application process from the start.

“How long will this take? The reality is that children denied their medical card may pass away while waiting for this system to change. They need a fast pass to their medical card, and they need it now.”

John Hennessy, HSE national director of primary care, said the basis on which medical cards were granted needed to change. He promised the expert panel to decide which medical conditions would be counted for assessment of eligibility for a card would be appointed in the coming days, and would include GPs and other doctors.

He said initial findings would be available in time for the Estimates process over the summer, though “serious legislative challenges” were involved in the move to medically-based assessment.

The suspension of reviews would also apply to people currently in the review process, he told RTÉ Radio, but there would be no retrospection for people who have lost their cards as this was not legally possible.

Minister of State for Primary Care Alex White, who announced the policy change in the Dáil on Thursday, acknowledged yesterday the Government had been “too slow” to move on the issue of discretionary medical cards.

‘Probity measures’

He said the budget target of saving €113 million from so-called probity measures was never considered “realistic”.

“These decisions are made at Cabinet in budget time, and I do think the Government does have to take responsibility for not reacting as quickly as it ought to have done to the likely impact of these budgetary policies on ordinary people and that is what we have done

New UPC phone service aims to disrupt the Irish market

  Ireland Chief Executive Officer Magnus Ternsjö and UPC brand ambassador Craig Doyle.

UPC Ireland Chief Executive Officer Magnus Ternsjö and UPC brand ambassador Craig Doyle

UPC is to launch a new mobile phone service in Ireland with its chief executive promising to “disrupt” the Irish mobile phone market.

The move comes after the broadband and cable TV giant signed a deal with 3 Ireland to use its network here.

“Our mobile service is going to disrupt the market here,” said Magnus Ternsjo.

He said they were now well-placed to offer a ‘quadplay’ package – offering broadband, television, home phone and mobile service in one.

The new mobile phone service is expected to launch early next year, according to Mr Ternsjo.

The move had been expected after the European Commission said that 3 Ireland would have to facilitate two new mobile operators here if it wanted permission to purchase O2 Ireland in a €780m deal.

While Mr Ternsjo declined to give further detail about pricing or services, the new mobile operator is likely to offer aggressively generous data allowances as the terms of its deal with 3 Ireland give it guaranteed access to large amounts of broadband capacity.

The move could spark a new data allowance war, with unlimited mobile internet and download usage for ordinary packages.

However, Mr Ternsjo said that UPC may not become a ‘full’ network operator, owning its own expensive infrastructure in Ireland.

This could come as a blow to the European Commission, which based its decision on allowing 3 Ireland to buy O2 Ireland on the sale of wireless infrastructure to UPC and another future virtual operator.

Meanwhile, the decision that sparked the entry of UPC into the market has drawn sharp criticism from Vodafone, which has said it is considering legal action over the issue.

Vodafone, which is Ireland’s biggest mobile operator, said that the move was an “inefficient and ineffective use of spectrum, will distort competition and will discourage investment in mobile networks in Ireland”.

NASA scientists measure the moon’s dancing tides




Shall we dance? Earth and the moon tug on each other as they whirl through space. The moon’s tug causes rising and falling tides on Earth, but the tidally locked moon must flex rock – and the bulge moves as Earth does.

Illustration of Earth, as seen from the moon. The gravitational tug-of-war between Earth and the moon raises a small tidal bulge on the moon. The position of this bulge shifts slightly over time.

And one-two-three and one-two-three… Earth and the moon are whirling around the sun like dancing partners. Earth leads, while the smaller and lighter moon follows gracefully. Like the best dancing partners, Earth and the moon are attracted to each other – in this case, gravitationally. The tug between the two bodies stretches them both, causing many interesting effects, including the rising and falling tides of Earth’s oceans.

The pull goes both ways, and since the moon doesn’t have oceans, the rocky lunar surface must bend and flex in response to Earth’s tug. In fact, neither the Earth nor the moon is a perfect sphere (nor even a perfectlyoblate spheroid): both are a bit egg-shaped, with their ever-so-slightly pointy ends facing each other.

How big are these tides? It’s easy enough to measure ocean tides here on Earth, but watching the lunar tide come in is a bit more complicated.

“The deformation of the moon due to Earth’s pull is very challenging to measure, but learning more about it gives us clues about the interior of the moon,” said Erwan Mazarico, a scientist with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., in a press release.

To measure this very small tide – less than two feet high – a team of scientists performed some very clever analyses using data from two NASA orbiters.