News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Saturday 9th April 2016

‘I am the man in the hat’ says arrested Brussels suspect


Mohamed Abrini is pictured in this undated handout image. 

After nearly three weeks of frantic searching, Belgian authorities announced on Saturday they had finally arrested and identified the elusive “man in the hat” spotted alongside two suicide bombers who blew themselves up at Brussels Airport on March 22.

In a terse evening statement, Belgium’s Federal Prosecution Office said recently detained Mohamed Abrini – the last identified suspect at large from the November 13 Paris attacks – had confessed to being the vest- and hat-wearing man whose video image had been widely circulated by authorities.

“After being confronted with the results of the different expert examinations, he confessed his presence at the crime scene,” the statement said.

The revelation that a Paris suspect escorted two of the Brussels bombers to their deaths at the city’s airport is among the strongest signs yet that the attackers who struck both cities – killing a total of 162 people – were intimately linked.

Abrini was one of four suspects charged Saturday with “participating in terrorist acts” linked to the deadly Brussels suicide bombings that killed 32 people and wounded 270 others at the airport and at the city’s Maelbeek subway station.

The prosecutors’ office said Abrini threw away his vest in a garbage bin and sold his hat after the bombings. He had been arrested Friday in a Brussels police raid.

In this Belgian Federal Police hand out picture the third suspect of the recent attack on Brussels airport is shown during his escape from the airport after the blasts. (Belgian Federal Police via AP)

Abrini, a 31-year-old Belgian-Moroccan petty criminal, has been coming into as one of several links between the squads that brought mayhem to two European capitals four months apart.

Surveillance footage placed Abrini in the convoy with the attackers headed to Paris ahead of the November 13 attacks there that left 130 people dead and hundreds wounded.

In this Belgian Federal Police hand out picture made available Thursday April 7, 2016 he third suspect, of the recent attack on Brussels airport is shown, indicated in box, during his escape from the airport after the blasts. (Belgian Federal Police via AP)

He was a childhood friend of brothers Salah and Brahim Abdeslam, both suspects in the Paris attacks and he had ties to Abdelhamid Abbaoud, the attackers’ ringleader.

His fingerprints and DNA were not only in a Renault Clio used in the Paris attacks but also in an apartment in the Schaerbeek area of Brussels used by the bombers who blew themselves up in the city.

Abrini was also believed to have travelled to Syria, where his younger brother died in 2014 in the Islamic State’s Francophone brigade.

One European security official said he made multiple trips to Birmingham, England, last year, meeting with several men suspected of terrorist activity.

Abrini and three others – identified as Osama Krayem, Herve B M and Bilal E M, – were all charged on Saturday with participating in “terrorist murders” and the “activities of a terrorist group” in relation to the attacks, prosecutors said in an earlier statement. Two other suspects arrested in the last couple of days were released “after a thorough interrogation”, it said.

The developments follow days of arrests and raids in the Belgian capital and could give investigators new insights into the Islamic State group cell believed to have carried out both the attacks in Brussels and the November 13 attacks in Paris.

Osama Krayem, identified by prosecutors only as Osama K, is known to have left the Swedish city of Malmo to fight in Syria. The prosecutor’s office accuses him of being the second person at the attack on the Brussels underground station and of being at a shopping centre where the luggage used in the airport bombings was purchased.

Krayem had earlier been identified posting photos from Syria on social media, according to Magnus Ranstorp, a counterterrorism expert at the Swedish National Defence College.

“He also tried to recruit people in Malmo,” Mr Ranstorp said.

Swedish officials had no immediate comment on Krayem.

The prosecutors” statement described Herve B M as a Rwandan citizen arrested at the same time as Krayem who is accused of offering assistance to both Abrini and Krayem.

The attacks in France and Belgium were the two biggest carried out by IS in Europe over the past year. The arrests may help investigators unravel the links between the attacks and IS, the radical Muslim group that controls territory in both Iraq and Syria.

The detentions were a rare success for Belgian authorities, who have been pilloried for mishandling leads in the bombings investigation. But despite multiple arrests, Brussels remains under the second-highest terror alert, meaning an attack is still considered likely.

“There are perhaps other cells that are still active on our territory,” Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon told RTL television on Saturday.

The majority of Irish workers are not taking their full holiday entitlement’s


“Eight out of 10” 80% of Irish workers don’t take their full holiday entitlement’s, new research has shown.

Despite Ireland being among the countries with the lowest annual leave allowances in Europe, staff still aren’t taking all the time off they are allowed, according to the CPL Employment Market Monitor.

CPL Resources director Peter Cosgrave said the monitor may show how dedicated Irish employees are to their jobs.

“However, with so much research indicating the benefit of time away from the office, should employers be doing more to ensure that employees are well rested?”

Meanwhile, the number of jobs posted in foreign direct investment (FDI) sectors has doubled over the last five years.

The biggest surge in job postings has been in the science, engineering and supply chain sectors.

Trinity College assistant professor of economics Ronan Lyons said the number of jobs in the area is entering its fifth year of growth.

“Nonetheless, this growth was more muted in early 2016,” Professor Lyons said.

“It will be interesting to see in future reports whether this reflects one-off considerations such as the timing of Easter holidays or the start of a longer term trend,” he added.

Other findings from the monitor showed a third of Irish firms are ignoring their online reputation with 5pc of those who do pay attention to it saying they would try to remove negative comments.

“Online reputation management is a very new area for companies, and even established corporates struggle to get it right,” Mr Cosgrave said.

Mrs Brown’s Boys to record a one-off live special for the BBC


Mrs Brown’s Boys is set to record a one-off live special for the BBC in July.

The popular TV series, created by Brendan O’Carroll, will film a live episode that is said to be one of the highlights of the BBC’s summer schedule.

According to the Herald, the station is hoping to have the same success as Eastender’s 25th anniversary live show, which attracted almost 19 million viewers.

Doing it live: The Mrs Brown’s Boys gang will record a live episode | VIPIRELAND.COM

Mrs Brown’s Boys star Eilish O’Carroll, who plays Agnes Brown’s witty neighbour Winnie McGoogan revealed that the cast are looking forward to the challenge of a live episode.

“We’re doing a live recording in July for the BBC. They’re putting on a comedy festival. Then in October for two weeks we’ll be doing the Christmas special,” she said.

The actress also opened up about the second much anticipated Mrs Brown’s Boys movie, which is currently being written by her comic brother Brendan, and revealed that they hope to film scenes on Dublin’s Moore Street again.

“If we lose Moore Street, we lose a very, very important part of Dublin and Dublin’s history and I think it would be the saddest thing that could ever happen,” she added.

You apparently don’t have to shower every day, according to a science study?


You apparently only need to shower once or twice a week, according to experts and showers are pretty much a part of everyone’s daily routine – whether you like them or not.

Some people even have two or three as they consider themselves more ‘clean’ if they do.

But you may not need to have your daily shower, according to this survey.

How many times do you shower a week?

  • Once a week

  • 2-5 times a week

  • 5-7 times a week

  • I don’t. Ever.

Some Britons go as many as three days without a proper scrub – and they’re fine.

According to Dr Elaine Larson, an infectious disease expert at Columbia University School of Nursing, you only need to shower once or twice a week.

She told Time: ‘People think they’re showering for hygiene or to be cleaner, but bacteriologically, that’s not the case.’

She added: ‘Bathing will remove odour if you’re stinky or have been to the gym. But in terms of protecting you from illness, washing your hands regularly is probably adequate.’

Showering too much could lead to more problems.

It’s already known that if you have too many showers, it could in fact lead to more problems.

For example, cracked skin could allow germs to get in while constant showers could strip away healthy oils and good bacteria.

Dr. C. Brandon Mitchell, assistant professor of dermatology at George Washington University, says he tells people who shower daily not to cover their whole bodies.

‘Hit your pits, butt and groin, which are the areas that produce strong-smelling secretions. The rest of your body doesn’t need much soaping.’

But If you want to avoid some nasty stares on the train, it’s probably best you stick to at least a shower every other day. For our sake.

The grave of Sligo born RIC man is now restored


The final resting place of a Sligo born RIC constable killed during the 1916 Rising has been restored in County Meath.

Twenty-five-year-old James Gormley of Ballintogher, County Sligo, was killed when his RIC patrol was ambushed at Ashbourne, County Meath on 28 April 1916.

During what became known as the Battle of Ashbourne, which lasted approximately 5 hours, 13 men died which included eight RIC officers, two Irish Volunteers and three civilians.

The Navan & District Historical Society, grant aided by the Meath County Council 1916 Centenary Community Grant Scheme recently organised the restoration of the grave in St. Mary’s Cemetery where the four RIC men who were killed, Sgt. John Young, Const. James Hickey, Const James Gormley and Const. Richard McHale were buried.

Gormley joined the RIC in September 1912 at the age of 21. His brother was an active member of the Ballintogher Irish Volunteers.

It is recorded that “nearly all the people including the local Volunteers, turned out to attend a Requiem Mass for the dead constable and to sympathise with his widowed mother and family.”

A Catholic as was the majority of the RIC rank and file, he served most of his career in County Meath listing postings in Slane and Enfield.

In April 1916 James was stationed at Longwood until ordered to report to Slane as part of additional security measures demanded by the Marquise of Slane as a result of the Rising. While at Slane he was attached to the motorised column assembled to intercept the 5th Battalion commanded by Thomas Ashe.

A group of Irish Volunteers on their way to Batterstown, Co. Meath, came upon an RIC barricade and the battle that ensued came to be known as the Battle of Ashbourne.

Up to 70 members of the RIC and about 37 Irish Volunteers engaged fire. James was buried with full military honours two days later on the 30th of April in the RIC plot in Navan.

At a requiem mass held later in his Sligo birthplace it was noted that almost the entire community turned out to pay their respects.

‘A giant rat’ claimed to be two foot long found in UK family home in Lincolnshire


Not long after the “monster rat of Dalston” shocked people around the country, another giant rat has been photographed in the UK and posted on-line.

SWAT Total Pest Control owner Jeff Sullivan, 58, confirmed the rat is the largest one he’s encountered in his 18 years working in the sector.

The rat apparently measures two feet long and was found in a home in Grimsby, Lincolnshire.

Sullivan said: “There is a lot of misrepresentation with guys taking photos of rats with mobile phones and holding it out at an extreme arms-length to create the illusion that it’s bigger than it really is.

“But this is the real deal, it’s the largest rat I’ve ever seen.”

He warned that rats are “bulking up” by eating high-protein food, and becoming resistant to poison, so they cannot be easily killed.

The exterminator explained: “Infestations like this are a serious public health issue.

“Rats carry around 35 diseases such as leptospirosis and rat bite fever and urinate as they travel.

“Due to their tolerance of shop-bought poisons the only real way of tackling the problem is to contact a fully qualified pest controller.”

In March, a large rat was found in Dalston.

It was claimed that the rat was four foot long – but a mathematics expert revealed the creature was more likely to be two foot, due to the angle it was being held to the camera at.

Experts believe the animal was a giant cane rat, which are eaten as a delicacy in some African countries.

There have been incidents where grasscutter rat meat has been illegally sold on London markets near to where the large rat was found.

In 2012 the illegal rat meat, which is a delicacy in Ghana, was discovered being sold on Ridley Road market in the Dalston area of Hackney, east London, and in Brixton.


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