The Daily Wire
A rolling look at all today's news events with Colin Gleeson
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08:56Good morning everyone. It's a nippy one out there. MET Eireann reporting "a cold and frosty start to the day across most areas".
They're right you know. It's freezing.
08:57My name is Colin Gleeson and I will try not to sink the good ship Daily Wire between now and 5pm.
09:03I'll be bringing you the news of the day as it breaks along with various bits of useless but hopefully interesting information.
You can comment at the top of this blog.
The lead in today’s Irish Times is about Government plans to open up Irish Water to Freedom of Information requests for a limited period.
It appears this is designed to quell public anger at the whopping €50 million the semi-State company has spent on consultants.
The Cabinet will discuss the controversy at its first meeting after the Christmas break later today.
Irish Water is also expected to fully detail how it spent €50 million on consultants at an Oireachtas committee hearing.
Get the popcorn ready for that one.
“Obviously, I would have expected that the same open-minded approach would apply to others. Maybe it doesn’t.”
Lucinda’s not happy.
The off-lead in today’s Irish Times is a story about how a number of independent TDs and Senators have spurned an invitation to attend the first Reform Alliance conference.
Lead figure in the group is Lucinda Creighton who still thinks the event will be a success.
I hope they come up with a new name though. “Reform Alliance” won’t be winning any awards for imagination.
I’d love for someone to form a party and call it the “Just-Keep-Things-Ticking-Along-As-They-Are Alliance”.
Two inquiries are under way into the circumstances surrounding the death of a three-year-old boy who became trapped in a lift shaft in a Galway city centre building yesterday afternoon.
The three-year-old, of Nigerian parentage, sustained fatal injuries in the incident which occurred at about 3pm in the lift shaft of the multistorey Hynes Building in Augustine Street.
09:40The other story that is still dominating the news is that of the killing of Tom O'Gorman in Castleknock during the early hours of Sunday morning.
Saverio Bellante, a 34-year-old Italian, appeared in court yesterday charged with murder.
Friends and colleagues of Mr O'Gorman also spoke warmly about him as a more complete picture of his persona materialises.
Conor Pope is reporting increases in the sales of sparkling wines by as much as 30 per cent compared with last year.
Apparently we’re adapting to the recession not by drinking less but by drinking cheaper.
National Off-Licence Association chairwoman Evelyn Jones said members were reporting big increases in the sales of sparkling wines, but also “a trading down in quality” because of a “double taxation” on bottles with a wire closure.
Conversely, one of the country’s best known rural pubs has closed due to the recession.
An Bonnán Buí in the north Tipperary village of Ballinahinch was made famous as “Jacksie’s” watering hole in the RTE television series Killinaskully.
It closed its doors for the last time at the weekend.
10:05New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s is being investigated for improperly using Hurricane Sandy relief funds to make tourism adverts featuring him and his family.
The governor, a former frontrunner for Republican presidential candidate, was last week embroiled in the “Bridgegate” scandal which saw the cultivation of politically-motivated traffic jams near America’s busiest bridge.
Seems pretty unlikely he has any chance of getting the nomination now.
Such conditions not ideal for the players with this year’s Australian Open underway.
The extreme heat at Melbourne Park caused a ball-boy and men’s player Frank Dancevic to collapse during his first round loss, and the Canadian later slammed organisers as ‘inhumane’ for not suspending play.
Temperatures are forecast to exceed 40 degrees Celsius (108 Fahrenheit) for the next three days until a cool change on the weekend.
10:29Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo was last night crowned World Player of the Year for the first time since 2008.
He was up against Barcelona's Lionel Messi and Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery.
The award is bestowed through a vote by managers, players, and some journalists.
Ireland manager Martin O'Neill voted for Messi while captain Robbie Keane went for Ronaldo.
Paul Kelly, who holds the Irish media vote, went for Ribery. Can't say I understand that one.
Now I've heard it all.
Monkeys at a zoo have been banned from eating bananas - because they are too unhealthy.
Amy Plowman, head of conservation and advocacy at Paignton Zoo in Devon, said: “Giving this fruit to animals is equivalent to giving them cake and chocolate.
“Compared to the food they would eat in the wild, bananas are much more energy-dense, they have lots of calories, and contain much more sugar that’s bad for their teeth and can lead to diabetes and similar conditions.
“It can also cause gastrointestinal problems as their stomachs are mostly adapted to eating fibrous foods with very low digestibility.”
Irish Water have issued a statement claiming all contracts awarded by Irish Water and Bord Gais in the establishment of Irish Water, were “fully compliant” with EU public sector procurement guidelines.
“Bord Gais and Irish Water have been scrupulous in the awarding of contracts. To ensure value for money and transparency, all contracts have been awarded in line with the guidelines set out at EU level for public sector procurement.”
The Irish Times has details of the breakdown of the spending by Irish Water on consultants and outside contractors.
Irish Water will tell the Oireachtas environment committee today it expects to spend just over €80 million on consultancy or outside contractor costs by the middle of next year.
Briefing papers sent by the company to the Oireachtas environment committee this morning reveal the vast majority of this, €44.8 million, will go to IBM.
A further €17.2 million will go to Accenture, with Ernst & Young getting €4.6 million.
McCann Fitzgerald solicitors will get €970,000 and A&L Goodbody will receive €2.9 million. KPMG will get €2.2 million, while the briefing document also says another €13.3 million is “covered by another 18 contractors who were procured”.
11:37The lead story on today’s business pages is a court report detailing how criminal proceedings arising from the investigation into the 2008 collapse of the former Anglo Irish Bank could run for several years when the right to appeal is taken into account.
Gardai in Finglas investigating the circumstances surrounding the discovery of the body of Vincent Maher in an apartment on Wellmount Road, Finglas on January 11th arrested a man in his early twenties last night in the Dublin area.
He is currently detained under the provisions of Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act 1939.
Gardaí are investigating if Mr Maher, who was 29, was fatally attacked at a party at his rented apartment.
They believe a number of people had gathered there and had been drinking when a dispute broke out and Mr Maher was attacked.
A post mortem revealed he had suffered blunt-force trauma.
12:13Everton Football Club has confirmed that England midfielder Ross Barkley has a fractured toe.
There are reports emerging that Hull have agreed a fee with West Brom to sign Ireland striker Shane Long.
The forward, whose contract expires at the end of this season, has maintained he is happy to spend the rest of the season at the Hawthorns but admitted the decision could be taken out of his hands.
The 26-year-old has been at The Hawthorns since joining from Reading in what was a club-record deal in August 2011.
One Irish resident was among more than 200 people who died by assisted suicide services last year, according to the Swiss- based organisation Dignitas.
According to the organisation, 202 people were recorded as having an “accompanied suicide” last year, the highest number since its foundation in 1998.
The Irish resident brings to eight the number of people known to have travelled from Ireland to take their own lives since the organisation began offering assisted suicides in 1998.
Pamela Duncan reports.
The debate around childhood obesity and participation in sport goes on.
Recent proposals to tackle the problem by making Physical Education an examinable subject is backed by some 80 per cent of Irish secondary school teachers, according to a new survey.
Aviva Health carried out a study of 205 secondary schools which it says is a representative sample of the views of teachers in the country.
Students at Oxford University have been left red-faced after an email was circulated by college staff identifying students who had performed the worst during Michaelmas collections.
The email contained an Excel document singling out almost 50 students who had achieved a 2:2 or below in the previous term’s collections. Details of the students’ percentage mark and subject were shared along with the students’ names. Amongst them, nine lawyers and six engineers were named.
The college attempted to recall the mistake email in a follow up message asking students to “please delete the [email] previously sent out as it contained inaccuracies”.
One of the students affected said: “I would sue but there are apparently no decent lawyers at [Oxford]”.
Another student said: “They may as well have gone the whole hog and just released all health records of students whilst they were at it”.
At least they have a sense of humour about it.
Jenny Lauren has apparently claimed she was not drunk during her air rage meltdown on a transatlantic flight that was forced to land in Ireland. She has also denied pushing anybody.
That’s a turn-up for the books given she pleaded guilty in court and the last time she spoke about it she blamed having mixed medication and alcohol.
In a statement to the New York Post however, she has said: “I would never hurt anybody. I was not intoxicated. I did not push anyone.
“I stood up for myself to one stewardess who was rude and unkind and the next thing you know, they were landing the plane.
“I was rushing up to see my friend in first class when they said they were going to land the plane. They threatened me.”
She must be confused.
13:54You may have noticed we've changed the picture at the top of this blog from a frosty morning (to reflect this morning's chilly conditions) to a dripping tap (to reflect the Irish Water story as the issue of the day).
Imaginative stuff eh?
14:04Friends of Saverio Bellante, the 34-year-old Sicilian charged with the murder of Dubliner Tom O’Gorman, have expressed incredulity that the Palermo man is accused of such a horrendous crime.
Paddy Agnew reports.
Related to the childhood obesity epidemic talked about earlier, Olympic gold medallist Katie Taylor has been chosen as catering company Aramark’s health and wellness ambassador and the public face of the Aramark Right Track Pledge campaign.
The campaign involves members of the public pledging to do something to have a healthier lifestyle in return for a donation from the company.
Taylor has been going around the country promoting healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle. “People need to get out and do some more exercise especially children who are stuck inside with computers. That’s a huge factor now,” she said.
Marie O’Halloran reports that a new organisation has today formally registered as a political party, calling itself the National Independent Party.
The organisation has reached the 100-members threshold required to formally establish a political party and run local election candidates. Its next target is a 300-member threshold to run as a party for election to the Dáil in 2016.
The party favours abandoning the euro and returning to the punt but its European election candidate in the new South constituency Peter O’Loughlin said only when all euro zone countries abandoned the currency.
The party also opposes economic migration and Mr O’Loughlin said there is “no sense in having 500,000 of our own citizens unemployed and still bringing in economic migrants”.
He stressed it was “simply a question of numbers, not of ethnicity”.
When it was put to him that the party was akin in its policies to the UK Independence Party, Mr O’Loughlin said “there are similarities”.
Sounds like some pretty radical stuff. You can make your thoughts known on the matter by commenting at the top of this blog.
Bad news on the job front.
New job opportunities for Irish professionals decreased 22 per cent last month, according to the latest Morgan McKinley Irish employment monitor.
The research found that the number of new professional job openings declined from 8,704 in November to 6,785 in December, a decrease of 22 per cent.
An MP is promising to wear a tiger-striped onesie to vote in the House of Commons if enough people donate money to a hospice in his constituency.
Alec Shelbrooke, the Conservative MP for the West Yorkshire constituency of Elmet and Rothwell, is aiming to raise €5,000 for the Martin House Children’s Hospice in Boston Spa, which provides care for young people with life-limiting illnesses and support for their families.
If he hits the figure, Mr Shelbrooke says he will go through the division lobby of the House of Commons wearing the onesie, in support of Martin House’s Good Night’s Sleep appeal, which aims to raise €120,000 to fund respite stays for families of children using the hospice.
15:19You can watch a live feed of Irish Water managing director John Tierney currently being questioned by TDs at this afternoon’s Oireachtas Environment Committee hearing. The figure spent on consultants has risen to €85 million.
Quite a number of water-related puns making it into the letters being written to the Irish Times on the Irish Water story.
The floodgates have truly opened.
It’s fair to say it never rains but it pours for the beleaguered politicians who will have to answer to the public about what appears to be some pretty wasteful spending.
They’ll just have to try and soak up as much of the pressure as they can.
Irish Water managing director John Tierney has insisted the organisations at the centre of the consultants’ fees controversy were brought in out of absolute necessity.
“These service providers have joined our team temporarily to help us build a hugely valuable asset,” he said. “We did not bring in experts to tell us how to build Irish Water.
“We brought in contractors to help us build the systems and processes necessary to run the business. This is standard practice in utility businesses.
“In our case, we simultaneously built five major systems and procured global specialist expertise to ensure that the most efficient industry practice is being deployed.”
The United States today rebuked Israel for comments attributed to Israel’s defence minister, suggesting US secretary of state John Kerry’s quest for Israeli-Palestinian peace is “messianic and obsessive”.
“The remarks of the defence minister (Moshe Yaalon) if accurate are offensive and inappropriate especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel’s security needs,” US state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a brief statement that constituted a rare rebuke to close ally Israel.
Moshe Yaalon’s spokesman declined comment on the account in Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s biggest-selling newspaper.
“Secretary of state John Kerry - who has come to us determined and is acting out of an incomprehensible obsession and a messianic feeling - cannot teach me a single thing about the conflict with the Palestinians,” Mr Yaalon was quoted as saying.
“The only thing that can save us is if Kerry wins the Nobel Prize and leaves us alone.”
16:17France president François Hollande is currently facing the media amid claims he has been having an affair with actor Julie Gayet. Some 600 journalists were expected to attend.
Hollande was asked by a journalist: “The publication by Closer of stories about the president’s private life has caused a very considerable commotion among the French and abroad ahead of your planned visit to the US. Is Valerie Trierweiler still France's first lady?”
Hollande replied: “I understand your question. Everyone in their personal life can encounter difficulties. They are tough moments.
“But I have one principle: private matters should be treated in private. This is neither the time nor the moment to do this. But if I will reply to no question on this subject today, I will do so by the deadline you have mentioned.”
The Oireachtas environment committee has heard the Department of Environment took up to three months to approve €180 million in establishment costs, which included estimated spending on consultants, for Irish Water.
The committee also heard this afternoon that the department queried the costs, including spending on consultants, but ultimately allowed them.
Irish Water managing director John Tierney said he never spoke directly to Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan about the costs.
Mr Tierney said Bord Gáis, Irish Water’s parent company, made the Government aware of the need for external consultants from the beginning.
17:07A suspect has been arrested after a shooting at a middle school in New Mexico. Roswell police said the suspected shooter was arrested at Berrendo Middle School, but authorities have not said if there were any injuries. The school has been placed on lockdown. Police say parents can pick up their children from a nearby shopping centre.
JUST IN: We’ve learned three students are being treated for injuries in that Roswell, NM school shooting.— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) January 14, 2014
17:13That's where we'll wrap it up for today.
Thanks for reading and the Daily Wire will be back with you tomorrow at 9am.
Keep an eye on irishtimes.com for the latest on the Irish Water appearance before an Oireachtas committee.
Hopefully they can flush out the truth about what's gone on there.
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