Saturday 11th July 2015
Ireland’s environment Minister Kelly’s life ‘threatened by dissident republicans’
Ireland’s environment Minister Alan Kelly has revealed that he has had threats to his life from dissident republicans.
Speaking about the Irish Water controversy on RTE on Saturday Night with Miriam, Minister Kelly (39) said: “It’s not very nice when your local superintendent has to find you a couple of weeks ago to tell you that there is a threat to your life from dissident Republicans.”
The Tipperary North TD added: “I expect to be challenged on RTE, In Leinster House and on the street by people, but this is different. There are a small group of people who just want anarchy which has nothing to do with Irish Water.”
Minister Kelly also revealed that threats had been made against his office staff and members of his family saying it had been “a difficult time for his parents”.
While he accepted there had been mistakes made in the setting up of Irish Water, he added that it had been “the right thing to do to ensure water supply into the future”.
He also revealed that after a board meeting this week Irish Water will reveal how many people have paid their bills.
“The figures when revealed might surprise some people,” he said.
Tensions rise ahead of Orange Order parades in Nort. Ireland
The PSNI will have some 1,500 officers policing main and feeder parades in Belfast
The PSNI will have 1,500 officers specifically assigned in Belfast to try to ensure that Orange Order parades pass off peacefully on Monday, senior officers have said.
In all, 3,000 officers will be policing the 18 Orange Order and one Independent Orange Order parades that take place throughout Northern Ireland on Monday with the biggest PSNI presence at three flashpoints in north Belfast, east Belfast and close to the city centre.
With the Twelfth of July falling on Sunday, the annual Orange celebrations, in line with the institution’s sabbatarian traditional, are being held on Monday.
Senior police sources said “tensions are high within the PUL (Protestant unionist loyalist) community” and that they are concerned about how Monday will unfold.
As usual, the biggest focus is on the return parade of three north Belfast Orange lodges on Monday night. The lodges, as happened in the past two years, have again been banned by the Parades Commission from returning along the Crumlin Road at the Ardoyne shops, at the interface between the Catholic and Protestant communities in north Belfast.
Instead, as happened in the past two years, the commission has determined they cannot go beyond the junction of Woodvale Parade and Woodvale Road, which is about 300 metres from the Ardoyne shops.
The return parade last year passed off peacefully after the Orange Order, with the support of senior loyalists linked to the UVF and UDA in north Belfast, carefully marshalled the parade. There was serious violence at the police lines on the Woodvale Road in 2013, but, as a result of the heavy Orange and loyalist stewarding, those parading and protesting dispersed peacefully last year.
That peaceful parade was predicated on an Orange Order and loyalist expectation that the dispute over the return parade by the Ardoyne shops would be resolved by this Twelfth. However, as that failed to happen, there is now concern among senior PSNI commanders that the same level of stewarding won’t be provided this year.
Loyalists have been protesting nightly in the area since the summer of 2013 when the return parade was banned, with those demonstrations centred on the Camp Twaddell protest site at the top of Twaddell Avenue close to the Ardoyne shops. Policing those protests have cost £17 million, police said on Friday.
Police also have a concern that dissident republican paramilitaries could try to stage attacks over the Twelfth period. In the past two years, dissidents exploited the Camp Twaddell protests to mount five attacks on police officers. No officer was killed in those incidents.
There is also particular police concern about two other parades, at Donegall Street beside St Patrick’s Church in central Belfast and on the Newtownards Road close to the Short Strand nationalist enclave, which have been the scenes of trouble in recent years.
Senior PSNI sources have appealed for calm. One commander urged the Orange Order to provide the same level of marshalling as was present last year to try to ensure Monday concludes peacefully.
The Orange Order in a statement on Friday called for a peaceful Twelfth period, despite what it termed republican intolerance and provocation. “Anyone who responds with violence to such provocation only does a disservice to our cause and undermines all that we stand for,” it said.
As the pre-Twelfth “Eleventh Night” bonfires were being lit in different parts of Northern Ireland over this weekend, residents beside one of the bonfires at Chobham Street in east Belfast were leaving their homes because of safety concerns. The bonfire is one of the largest seen in recent years, which resulted in the North’s fire service warning residents of the dangers.
The land is owned by the North’s Department of Regional Development, whose employees have helped residents board up threatened properties.
Alliance Assembly member Chris Lyttle said “it is unacceptable in 2015 that a government department has allowed this bonfire to progress to the stage where residents are living in fear for the safety of their homes”.
30 children trafficked in Ireland for sexual abuse in years 2013-2014
At least 30 children were trafficked throughout Ireland for sexual abuse and exploitation between 2013 and 2014, a Dáil debate seeking Ireland’s first ever laws specifically targeting child grooming has heard.
Fine Gael backbencher Marcella Corcoran Kennedy and Fianna Fáil justice spokesperson Niall Collins revealed the “shocking” figure as they urged renewed action to ensure children and teens of all backgrounds are given the protection they need.
Speaking during the morning debate on her private members bill which is seeking to specifically outlaw child grooming, an issue which will now be subsumed into the Government’s imminent wider sexual offences bill, Ms Corcoran Kennedy said despite high-profile cases most people are unaware of the scale of the crisis for some children in Ireland.
She said “shockingly” Gardaí are aware of 30 children “detected over a two-year period” between 2013 and 2014, and that the general public is in the dark about the number of minors “who are being moved around our own country to be sexually exploited”.
Noting the paedophile ring crisis in Rotherham, Britain, last year which saw a group of men abuse more than 1,000 girls over a number of years, the Fine Gael TD said there is a clear threat to children and teenagers from grooming which cannot be ignored.
After raising the same concerns, Mr Collins said there is a “very sinister part of our own society” which is putting children at risk.
The comments came as all parties backed Ms Corcoran Kennedy’s bill to make child grooming a specific crime which could see offenders jailed for up to 14 years for contacting children online or by text – even if no physical meeting takes place.
Other changes called for in the bill – which will be subsumed into the Government’s wider sexual offences bill, due to be published in the coming days – include the right for gardaí to arrest Irish citizens here who travel abroad to abuse a child.
While paedophiles who groom children can be arrested under the existing 1998 Child Trafficking and Pornography Act, this can only be done after “two or more” online contacts and when a physical meeting takes place.
In addition, concerns have been raised over the fact the use of this law means child grooming is not specifically outlawed under its own legislation in Ireland, leading to the UN’s human rights committee ordering Government two weeks ago to address the gap within four months.
During the same Dáil debate, Sinn Féin TD Sandra McLellan said there is “significant concern in child protection sectors” that “resource issues” are preventing gardaí from adequately examining cases.
A number of high-profile cases and near misses in recent years underline the link between grooming and serious assaults:
In February last, 33-year-old high-risk sex offender Sean Johnson from Derbyshire in Britain was jailed for 10 months for holding talent shows to gain access to children in Galway and Cork.
In May 2014, Eamon Coughlan, from New Street in Corofin, Co Clare, was jailed for two years for befriending a boy in Cork through Facebook before physically travelling to his town to have sex with him.
In March, 2013, 44-year-old accountant Liam O’Brien, from Valley Park in Co Galway was jailed for three years for assaulting four young girls while they waited to play video games at his home.
Drinking daily cups of tea makes women live longer,
A new study finds
Turns out all us tea obsessives are on to something.
A new study has found that drinking tea daily might make you live longer, finding that women in their 70s and 80s lived longer if they had, on average, 2 cups of tea per day.
Australian researchers studied the health records of 1,000 women over the age of 75, tracking their diet as well as their tea and coffee consumption. Over the course of the study, 88% of the women were still alive, and those who drank 2 cups of tea in an average day were 40% more likely to have survived.
The researchers say that this is down to flavonoids; compounds found in tea that work to boost health. They’re also found in chocolate and red wine, but the study found that tea made the biggest contribution to the surviving women’s flavonoid count, with two cups of tea providing the recommended daily flavonoid count of 350mg.
Women who drank daily cups of tea were less likely to die from heart disease and cancer – currently the two biggest killers of women over the age of 65.
Basically, let’s all raise our mugs (or teacups, if you’re feeling fancy) and get to drinking.
Scientists predicted that sea levels could increase by 20 feet
Because of ice melting & Carbon dioxide levels rising
In the past decades, rising sea levels are measured by inches, but scientists warned that they could increase for more than 20 feet if efforts against global warming failed to curb the 2 degrees Celsius level of greenhouse gases.
If global temperature continues to rise, people living in coastal regions from New York to Miami to Bangkok are at risk to increased flooding and storm surges. Even the space agency, NASA, fears its launch pads could be submerged in water because of climate change.
Many of these coastal regions are already experiencing increased water levels. Studies from United Nations indicated that the rate of global sea level has intensified since the global warming level doubled in 1990s.
Researchers pointed out that this increasing sea level is due to the melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.
Anders Carlson, geologist from Oregon State University, said, “It takes time for the warming to whittle down the ice sheets but it doesn’t take forever. There is evidence that we are likely seeing that transformation begin to take place now.”
Peter Clark, paleoclimatologist and co-author of the study, said that they are not sure about the time frame of rising of sea levels, because the Carbon dioxide level in the Earth’s atmosphere continues to rise.
He added that maybe it would take many centuries to a few millennia to witness the full impact of melting ice sheets.
The study imposed a challenge on looking ahead to better understand how the ice sheets respond to these temperature increases, according to the authors.
Andrea Dutton, geochemist from University of Florida and lead author on the study, commented that it is important to guide policy makers to have a solid plan to slow down the rising sea level.
She added, “We want to know will sea levels rise gradually as ice sheets retreat or will they rise very suddenly due to rapid ice sheet collapse?”
In December, leaders from around the world would gather in Paris to find consensus on reducing carbon gas emissions.