News Blog

A rolling look at today's events

Dan Griffin Thu, Jun 20
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  • 09:03
    The Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013 will be introduced in the Dáil this morning

    Developer Séan Dunne has said he is not 'au fait' with his wife's business affairs

    And Sopranos star James Gandolfini has died
  • 09:04
    Good morning, Dan Griffin here on the Irish Times news blog today, Thursday, June 20
  • 09:11
    The Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill, which will allow abortion in limited circumstances, will be introduced in the Dáil this morning. Three Fine Gael TDs have said they will vote against the legislation. Last night FG TD Peter Mathews failed in his attempt to get a free vote for FG TDs on the Bill.

    The official administering the US bankruptcy of developer Seán Dunne yesterday expressed incredulity at Mr Dunne’s claim that, since the transfer of assets to his wife, Gayle Killilea, he was not au fait with her investments, writes John McManus.  

    James Gandolfini, the burly actor best known for his Emmy-winning portrayal of a conflicted New Jersey mob boss in the groundbreaking cable TV series “The Sopranos” died yesterday vacationing in Italy at age 51.
  • 09:15
  • 09:28
    Fiona Daly speaks the truth & Kenny doesn't like it. What a smart & down to earth woman. She is wide awake & roaring
  • 09:50
    So then, it appears Minister for Justice Alan Shatter's steamy novel has prompted him to transfer responsibility for censorship out of his department.

    Laura: A Story You Will Never Forget  tells the fictional story of a middle-aged TD who has an affair with his secretary and goes on to father a child with her. Shatter wrote it 23 years ago as a backbencher and although it has since been widely forgotten the Minister described it earlier on Morning Ireland as a "very good read".  

    The reason he has transferred responsibility for censorship to the Department of Arts is to avoid a possible conflict of interest after a complaint to the Censorship of Publications Board alleged the novel was obscene.

    Thankfully the Censorship of Publications Board hasn't been particularly busy of late, it hasn't even had to sit in five years, according to Shatter. However, if they agree with the complainant and ban Laura--which, incidentally, is due to be re-published shortly--the Minister will find himself among illustrious literary company including the likes of Liam O'Flaherty, Edna O'Brien and John McGahern, all of whom have had novels banned in Ireland.

    Shatter said he found it "quite odd" that a book which was published 23 years ago, and is available in most libraries, had only now become the subject of such a complaint.

    Curiouser and curiouser, eh readers?
  • 09:56
    Here's Stephen Collins, writing in today's paper about the Shatter novel.
  • 10:09
    Galway FG TD Brian Walsh said yesterday that there was still a chance Taoiseach Enda Kenny would allow a free vote within the party on the abortion Bill. A chance? Yesterday, at a meeting of the parliamentary party, Peter Mathews couldn't even get someone to second his motion to allow a free vote, let alone vote for it

    Walsh, Mathews and Senator Fidelma Healy Eames have indicated they will defy the party whip and vote against the legislation. Speaking to RTÉ yesterday Walsh said as many as 10 members could oppose the bill.
  • 10:14
    Independent TD Clare Daly says she has been "inundated" with messages from "ordinary citizens" who are happy someone challenged the "unquestioning slobbering" over the Obamas on their recent visit.

    She's talking to Myles Dungan now, so is junior Minister Michael Ring. He said he was "disappointed" with her comments. Yesterday Enda Kenny said her remarks were disgraceful.
  • 10:15
  • 10:31
    England prop Alex Corbisiero was the surprise inclusion in the British and Irish Lions team named for Saturday’s opening Test against Australia.

    Read more on the Lions team here.
  • 10:41
    "A stunning victory for people power and public protest," is how People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett has described the Government decision to shelve plans to sell harvesting rights of Coillte's forests.

    The proposed sale had been forecast to raise up to €774 million, but a report found the sale would cost €1.3 billion and Coillte would remain liable for maintaining forest lands.

    Alison Healy has more.
  • 10:47
  • 10:59
    Three stars for The Cripple of Inishmaan (currently playing in London's West End) in today's Financial Times. Daniel Radcliffe, of Harry Potter fame, plays cripple Billy, giving a "fine and touching performance" in Martin McDonagh's dark comedy. "Pat Shortt, is a joy as JohnnyPateenMike."

    But for all that, the play's "style becomes self-limiting and predictable, and it starts to feel repetitive and hollo, so that even mutliple plot twists can't stop it runing out of steam".
  • 11:27

    An "eternal flame" taken from the grave of former US president John F Kennedy, has arrived in Dublin ahead of the 50th anniversary of his visit.
    The flame disembarked an Aer Lingus plane this morning in the steady hands of Minister of State at the Department of Defence Paul Kehoe.

    Minister of State for the Gaeltacht Dinny McGinley was on hand to meet the flame and welcome it to Ireland, as were the charge d'affaires from the US embassy John Hennessey-Niland and the Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Lt General Sean McCann.
    Then, in a ceremony, the flame was passed from the Defence Forces to the Irish Naval Service. The Navy, of all people, have been trusted to take the flame from Dublin to New Ross on board the LE Orla.
    JFK's daughter Caroline Kennedy and sister Jean Kennedy will use the torch to light an "emigrant flame" in New Ross on Saturday.

    The flame has been mooted as a possible contender for the position of Ireland's next cultural ambassador, a role which has been vacant since Gabriel Byrne stepped down two years ago.
  • 11:33
    Paul Kehoe TD carrying the flame, which appears to be inside a sort of gold-plated carriage clock. At least the pilot looks pleased.
    Paul Kehoe TD carrying the flame, which appears to be inside a sort of gold-plated carriage clock. At least the pilot looks pleased.
  • 11:35
  • 11:41
    For the first time information on rare terminations will become available because of abortion legislation, Minister for Health James Reilly tells the Dáil.

    "If this Bill is abused I will have the power to suspend it and I will not be afraid to use that power." 

    He says it will provide, for the first time, legal clarity to medical professionals on the issue of abortion.
  • 11:52

    The debate on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill 2013 is due to adjourn after opening speeches--which are currently taking place, view here, The first vote is expected at the conclusion of the second stage next week.

  • 12:01
    "Pairing Alun Wyn Jones and Paul O'Connell was a no brainer, although you'd hope that the former didn't peak a week too early."

    Read Gerry Thornley's take on the Lion's team.

  • 12:03

    "This [abortion Bill] is about clarifying the law for the women of this country who need to use our health service so that they are in no doubt as to what is available to them and what is legally available to them," Reilly concludes in the Dáil. 

  • 12:09
    FF health spokesman Jerry Buttimer says there is no chance of Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill leading to "abortion on demand" because of existing constitutional safeguards.
  • 12:13
    Moving away from that for a while now, the controversy over how millions of euro in State funding ended up in a bank account controlled by two individuals associated closely with Siptu has caused damage to the trade union and hurt its members, its general secretary has said.
  • 12:27
    Unsurprisingly, 'Sopranos' star James Gandolfini dies is the most popular story on our site today. The actor's death is top of the trends on Twitter too.
  • 12:29
  • 12:31
    James Hopefully Parling didn't peak a week to early either...
  • 12:50
    The Daily Mail has apologised and agreed to pay libel damages to a TV psychic who it falsely accused of using a hidden earpiece to trick an audience during a performance in Dublin, the Guardian reports.

    An article by the magician Paul Zenon claimed psychic Sally Morgan used a hidden earpiece during her performance to receive instructions and relay them on stage as if they were messages from the spiritual world.

    Morgan's solicitor told the high court the article casued his client "enormous distress". The solicitor for the Mail said the paper accepted the claim was untrue and apologised unreservedly, helpfully explaining that the piece appeared in the paper "in the context of a general attack on psychics as being charlatans".

    Morgan, like the young lad from The Sixth Sense, says she can "see and hear dead people". Whatever about her ability as a medium, her obvious success as a litigant gives us no reason to doubt the veracity of this claim.

    The Mail will pay her  £125,000 (€146,000) in damages, which, one hopes, might go some way to easing her "enormous distress".
  • 12:53
  • 13:05
    "Live news pages, also known as live blogs, have become one of the most engaging formats for news online. They are increasingly prevalent on news sites, including,, and BBC News online, and are receiving more visitors for longer periods of time than conventional articles or picture galleries," from the Press Gazette.

    Apparently live blogs can enhance reader engagement. Most of the reader engagement I get tends to be about typos.
  • 13:07
    Aer Lingus pilots have voted for industrial action in the case of a breakdown of talks with the airline.

    Read more 
  • 13:16
  • 13:17
    Argentinian football messiah Lionel Messi, who plays for Barcelona, is expected to be in court for tax fraud on September 17, according to the Galway Advertiser.
  • 13:18
    Obviously the introduction to the Dáil of the abortion Bill earlier today is top of the news agenda this lunch time.
  • 13:35
    Wickolw County Council has pleaded guilty to breaches of health and safety laws in relation to a fire in which two fireighters died almost six years ago, RTÉ reports.
  • 13:41
    An international drug dealer who was extradited from Ireland to face charges he imported almost £110 million (€128 million) worth of cocaine and cannabis into the UK has been jailed for 18 years.

    Passing sentence at Liverpool Crown Court, Judge David Aubrey QC said "it was a trade and an empire and you [Philip Baron] cared not for the lives of others... you were only concerned with yourself and leading a lavish lifestyle."

    Looking at the photo that accompanies this report, you'd be inclined to agree.
  • 13:54

    "Photographs posted on Chinese social media showed traumatised students clutching their faces, a policeman clambering on a barbed wire fence and one bloodied officer prostrated on the ground with blood gushing from her nose and mouth."

    This is what happens when David Beckham comes to Shanghai, via The Telegraph. 

  • 14:00
    Sticking with retired footballers:

    Brazilian soccer great Pele has called on thousands of protesters demonstrating over poor quality public services and corruption to leave the streets and focus on football - an appeal that was quickly met with derision on social media.

    "Let's remember how the Brazilian squad is our country and our blood," Pele said, obviously unperturbed by the increase in public transport fares.
  • 14:09
    There were heated exchanges and persistent heckling in the Dáil today when Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore told the House there were no cuts in the allocation of resources for children with special needs, Marie O'Halloran writes.
  • 14:10
  • 14:26
    Taoiseach Enda Kenny is over in Austria today where, Derek Scally writes, he delivered a blunt warning that EU leaders will undermine their credibility if they delay further agreement on detail of a year-old decision to allow recapitalisations of European banks.
  • 14:40
  • 14:57

    Nama has sold €500 million of treasury bills, reaching the target set for the sale.


  • 14:57
    Liam Mc Cabe Anybody who is concerned about typo's should be reading and analysing the broad sheet version of the IT's
  • 15:18

    Wow, Julian Assange is still in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. I suppose that shoudn't come as much of a surprise, I hadn't heard anything to the contrary but, good lord, he must be going out of his mind.  

    It's a year since he sought sanctuary with the South American country's embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sex crime allegations. Now he says he won't emerge even if Sweden drops the case.

    "If I walk out the front door I could be arrested in relation to the United States," the wikileaks founder said yesterday.

    What does he do to fill his time you'd wonder? Probably busy sending diplomatic emissaries across the road to Harrods to pick him up pots of gentleman's relish and the like.  

    Ecuadorean foreign minister Ricardo Patino says he's prepared to stay in the embassy for five years but Assange--and no doubt some of the diplomatic staff--hopes it won't be that long.  

    Police are stationed outside and in the lobby constantly in case he makes a dash for freedom--so far the operation has clocked up a bill of £3.8 million (€4.4 million).

    The police actually sound a bit like the suitors waiting about trying to woo Penelope as Odysseus makes his way back from Troy. There's a play in their somewhere.

    Anyway, here's more.  

  • 15:30

    An article here on Wicklow County Council pleading guilty to health and safety violations in fire deaths trial.

  • 15:43
    Siptu has voted in favour of the revised public service pay deal, Genevieve Carbery writes.

    Members voted 76 per cent to 24 per cent in favour of the Haddington Road agreement, paving the way for the Government to implement new public sector savings.
  • 15:58
    The JFK 'Eternal Flame' is now aboard the L.E. Orla, folks, and is, by all accounts, doing just fine.
  • 16:10

    Good to see the sunshine making a welcome return these past couple of days, well, in Dublin at least. It's real sandals and socks weather now.

  • 16:15
  • 16:30
    Ireland is "an exceptional case" and should be granted retro-active recapitalisation by the European Stability Mechanism, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said this afternoon in Luxembourg.
  • 16:35
    Here's a bit of style for you now: Ladies' day at Royal Ascot gallery. One of them is Queen Elizabeth II, another is a labrador wearing a fascinator.
  • 16:55

    People frequently say, 'You know what we need? We need a new political party, a party that represents modern Ireland, a party that blah blah blah...'

    Well, here's the Enterprise Party. Come December 6th, 2021, it'll be the main party of Government, according to its website.

  • 16:56
  • 17:09
    That's enough for one day I think. Thanks for reading. We'll leave you now with a little bit more on that infernal flame: How do you carry a flame on a plane.