Tuesday 24th February 2015
Jailed water protesters can get out of Mountjoy Prison if they agree to court orders
Judge says ‘door to this court is open’ for four protesters who left him with no alternative
Protester Kenneth Hanlon outside Mountjoy Prison during a demonstration over the imprisonment of water charges demonstrators.
Jailed water charge protesters can free themselves simply by undertaking to abide by court orders not to interfere with meter installers, a High Court judge has said.
Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said the “door to this court is open” to the four protesters who had left him with no alternative but to jail them.
He was speaking after a fifth man, jailed in his absence because he is in the Canary Islands for health reasons, wrote agreeing to abide by the orders.
A stay was put on the committal to prison order against Michael Batty (64) of Edenmore Avenue, Raheny, Dublin, until Tuesday as he was abroad for health reasons.
When the matter came before Mr Justice Gilligan on Tuesday, he adjourned it again until March 9th after the court heard Mr Batty was now agreeing to abide by the court orders.
Mr Batty was one of five people who the judge ordered last week should be committed to prison for breaching orders not to interfere with water meter installersGMC Sierra.
In a letter from Mr Batty handed in to the judge Tuesday by his solicitor Cahir O’Higgins, Mr Batty apologised for not appearing in court last week as he was a chronic asthmatic who had gone abroad to a hot climate with financial help from his family.
He could not afford to change his March 6th return flight date, but was prepared to give an undertaking to sign a bond not to breach any injunction.
Mr Justice Gilligan said in view of Mr Batty’s attitude, it was only fair the court should hear further submissions on the matter after he had returned from abroad. He listed the matter again for March 9th.
Mr Higgins said he felt he had to bring to the court’s attention that three of the other four people jailed last week for contempt, spent three days in 23-hour lock up.
While the reason given for this was that they had to be processed, Mr O’Higgins said this was, along with their loss of liberty, an additional punishment which was not sanctioned or fair. While it was not malicious, it had stopped when he wrote to the prison authorities.
He was not making any application to the court in relation to it but it was important the judge in the case should know.
Mr Justice Gilligan said this was not a matter for the court but for the prison governor.
The judge said as Mr O’Higgins had made a statement, he too wanted to make a statement in view of the widespread publicity and discussion about this matter and to clarify the situation.
The four people in prison were “not there as a result of peaceful protest” but because the court had made an order which they breached.
“It was open to them to appeal that order if they were dissatisfied”, he said.
He hoped they would see from Mr Batty’s case the options open to them.
“It is important people in the general community know that it is open to them to apologise for their contempt and give an undertaking to abide by the orders”, he said.
They had effectively left the court with no other choice but to impose sentences for contempt.
However, if any of the four wished to adopt the same attitude as Mr Batty “then the door of this court is open to them”, he said.
Landlords given just weeks to forward names of tenants to Irish Water
The numbers registering in the rental sector are significantly less than among owner-occupiers
Elizabeth Arnett: “Landlord and tenants can confirm details at any time.”
Landlords, including local authorities, have been warned that they have just weeks to contact Irish Water with the names of tenants or they may be held liable for all water charges on whatever properties they own.
The utility was forced to issue the warning after it emerged that the numbers registering for the service across the rental sector was significantly less than among owner-occupiers.
While roughly 30 per cent of would-be customers of the utility would be expected to come from rental properties, the number of completed registrations from that sector currently stands at just 17 per cent. The remaining 83 per cent of those who have registered are owner-occupiers.
Irish Water has said it is now in a position to contact landlords directly after being given the green light to act by the Data Protection Commission (DPC).
The utility’s spokeswoman, Elizabeth Arnett, said earlier this month it had been cleared to seek the names of tenants, including those who live in local authority housing. She told The Irish Times the DPC had confirmed that “once we have gone through the processes correctly and allowed all occupants ample time to come forward then we can approach the landlords”.
She stressed that all landlords – including local authorities which control the bulk of the rental market — would be treated the same when it came to billing. If more than one person is named on a lease, it will be up to the landlord to provide the name of just one tenant. Irish Water will then engage directly with the named individual “and provide them with an opportunity to confirm their details”.
Ms Arnett stressed that it would be in tenants’ best interests to contact the utility directly as failure to do so would mean they could not avail of the Government’s €100 water conservation grant. She said single-adult households would also run the risk of being hit with annual bills of €260 instead of €160.
“Landlord and tenants can confirm details at any time. However Irish Water would encourage an early response to ensure details are as accurate as possible in advance of billing,” she said.
She said some 1.22 million of the 1.9 million homes across the State had contacted Irish Water with almost a million responses coming from among the 1.5 million households on the public network, a response rate of two-thirds.
Irish motorists warned about stolen NCT certs
Irish motorists have been warned to be on the lookout for stolen NCT certs.
Vehicle history expert CARTELL.IE has issued an image of one of the stolen Certificates, and says it fears that ‘unscrupulous’ individuals may be using others lie it on cars they have for sale.
Cartell said that an armed holdup at an NCT centre in Drogheda in October 2013 resulted in the theft of 850 official certificates.
Jeff Aherne, Director, Cartell.ie, said the certificate was one of the 850 certificates stolen in a raid in 2013.
‘Understandably, these certificates will look completely authentic, as they were stolen at source, but the numbers on the certificates are not in official circulation.
‘The consumer is encouraged to verify the numbers on the NCT Certificate with the official records to authenticate the certificate. Verification of the official NCT number with official records held by the Government is one of the many services provided by Cartell.’
These stolen certificates may be displayed in the window of vehicles offered for sale in the market. It is also possible that unscrupulous individuals are offering these stolen certificates for sale and buyers may not be aware that purchase and display of these certificates constitutes an offence.
Using a motor vehicle without a valid NCT Test Certificate is an offence contrary to Section 18 of the Road Traffic Act 1961 as amended by Road Traffic Act 2006, section 18. Conviction for this offence carries five penalty points and Courts may impose a fine of up to €2,000 and/or up to three months’ imprisonment.
Ireland moves up 2 places to 9th in EU’s digital economy index
Ireland moves up 2 places to 9th in EU’s digital index
The latest European Union (EU) Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) is out and shows improvement for Ireland having risen two places to ninth out of the 28 EU member states.
The findings released today compiles data from each country to determine its level of connectivity, its internet skills and how intertwined digital technologies – particularly services including cloud, e-commerce and e-invoices – are developed and was sourced using data obtained between 2013 and 2014.
According to these new figures, Ireland has scored 0.52 out of a score of 1 on the digital performance index putting it at slightly above the average of the cluster of medium performance countries at 0.51, and ahead of the EU Average of 0.47.
This marked a minor improvement on last year’s figure which saw Ireland ranked eleventh with an overall score of 0.49 – just above the cluster countries (0.47) and above the EU average (0.44).
From their findings, during the past year, take-up of high-speed broadband in Ireland has increased considerably with subscription numbers increasing from 30% to 40%, while use of internet services has also increased with 71pc of Irish people using video on-demand, 63% using social networking, 62% using online shopping, 60% using online banking and 56% of internet users using eGovernment actively.
The report goes on however, to say that more progress is needed in Ireland on increasing digital skills with only 53% of the population having digital skills at a level to operate effectively online, down from 56% in 2012.
The best-perfoming country in the EU was found to be Denmark who scored an index of 0.68, while the worst performing country overall is Romania with an index score of just 0.31.
There no fools? A survey finds out
Dogs do know when people are lying
Japanese researchers find dogs learn to distrust people after being deceived.
Don’t try to fool your dog with that trick of pretending to throw the ball but actually keeping it in your hand — he or she will not only know you’re lying, but will actually stop believing you when you are telling the truth.
A new study from Japan finds that dogs can quickly distrust a human who is not being truthful and can hold onto that distrust for some time.
“Dogs have more sophisticated social intelligence than we thought. This social intelligence evolved selectively in their long life history with humans,” lead study author Akiko Takaoka of Kyoto University told the BBC.
Takaoka tested 34 different dogs by presenting them with two containers, one full of treats and the other empty.
In the first round of testing, the researchers would stand between the boxes and point to the one filled with food, which the dogs happily ate.
In the second round, the same researchers pointed to the empty box, confusing the poor animal.
Then, in a third round, the same person would point at the container with the food, but the dogs would not go to that container.
Takaoka suggests that experience had taught the dogs not to trust the person doing the pointing.
To test that theory, another individual was brought in to point at the full container. This time the dogs jumped at the box and ate the food.
The researchers say the behavior shows dogs are able to distinguish between a “good actor” and a “bad actor” and learn not to trust the person who deceived it.
Takaoka tells the BBC she was surprised that the dogs “devalued the reliability of a human” so quickly.
Maybe that’s why Eclipse the dog took to riding a Seattle bus.
Buddha statue reveals the remains of a mummified monk inside
The mummified remains of a monk have been revealed inside a nearly 1,000-year old Chinese statue of a Buddha.
The mummy inside the gold-painted papier-mache statue is believed to be that of Liuquan, a Buddhist master of the Chinese Meditation School who died around the year 1100, researchers said. It’s the only Chinese Buddhist mummy to undergo scientific research in the West.
The statue was on display last year at the Drents Museum as part of an exhibit on mummies. It was an cited as an example of self-mummification, an excruciating, years-long process of meditation, starvation, dehydration and poisoning that some Buddhist monks undertook to achieve enlightenment and veneration.
When the exhibit ended in August, a CT scan at the Meander Medical Center in the Netherlands revealed the seated skeleton. Samples taken from organ cavities provided one big surprise: paper scraps printed with ancient Chinese characters indicating the high-status monk may have been worshiped as a Buddha.
The finding was first reported in December but did not get wide notice. Irish Archaeology carried a report over the weekend, which apparently started the news ball rolling.
But the revelation is not, as some reports claim, “a shocking discovery,” The History Blog notes: “It was known to be inside the statue all along . that’s why it was sent to the Drents Museum in the first place as part of the Mummies exhibition.”
The mummy’s existence was discovered in 1996 when the statue was being restored in the Netherlands, Live Science reported, explaining what was found, how its age was determined and when the first detailed skeletal imaging was performed.
DNA tests were conducted on bone samples, and the Dutch team plans to publish its finding in a forthcoming monograph.
Researchers still have not determined whether the monk mummified himself, a practice that was also widespread in Japan and that was outlawed in the 19th century. If he did, the process was gruesome, as Ancient Origins explained:
“For the first 1,000 days, the monks ceased all food except nuts, seeds, fruits and berries and they engaged in extensive physical activity to strip themselves of all body fat. For the next one thousand days, their diet was restricted to just bark and roots. Near the end of this period, they would drink poisonous tea made from the sap of the Urushi tree, which caused vomiting and a rapid loss of body fluids. It also acted as a preservative and killed off maggots and bacteria that would cause the body to decay after death.”