The latest from the election trail and all the rest of today's news in our liveblog

Steven Carroll Fri, May 16
LIVE: Elections

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  • 09:22
    Good morning and welcome to today's liveblog on irishtimes.com. It's Steven Carroll here with you on this sunny Friday morning to guide you through the day's news.
  • 09:23
    Polling day in the local and European elections is this day week, so I'll be keeping you up to date on the latest from the campaign trail as well as goings on outside the world of politics.  
  • 09:27

    First things first and An Garda Síochána is in the news again this morning, with the Garda Ombudsman investigating an incident outside the home of a senior garda in Co Waterford in which a teenager died.  

    Conor Lally and Barry Roche have the latest on the story here  

  • 09:31

    Still on the Garda beat. newly appointed Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald makes the lead in today's print edition, saying the  oversight mechanisms put in place in the force after the Morris tribunal exposed serious corruption have failed.

  • 09:35

    Tánaiste and Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore, in an interview with political editor Stephen Collins, has said he may step away from the foreign affairs portfolio when the cabinet deck is reshuffled later this summer.  

    “I am not wedded to any particular department. What matters in Government is that we do a collective job of work,” he says in the interview, which you can read here.  

    Gilmore also hints at changes in cabinet personnel, saying a Government seldom goes full term with the same ministerial team.  

  • 09:40

    The Jackie Kennedy letters, first published in The Irish Times earlier this week, continue to make the news with All Hallows College insisting the documents belong to it.

    There was action over the letters in the High Court yesterday with auction house Sheppard's being granted injunctions restraining Owen Felix O'Neill, a rare book expert, from representing himself as the owner of the cache.  

  • 09:42
  • 09:42
  • 09:47

    A recent story by our colleague Tom Lyons about a Harvard professor being paid $70,000 to come to give the HSE a two-day masterclass on value in healtcare got a lot of people's backs up.  

    Prof Robert S Kaplan was in Dublin to do the deed yesterday and his expensive message appears quite a simple one - "cutting spending and employment in healthcare in Ireland is the wrong way to go about reforming the system"  

  • 09:48

    You can read Fiona Gartland's report on Prof Kaplan here

    And, for backround, here's Tom's piece on his fee

  • 09:51
    Turkey continues to make the news with the death toll from a mining disaster passing the 300 mark and 140 others still trapped underground. The image of an advisor to prime minister  Tayyip Erdogan kicking a protestor as he is held by special forces will also live long in the memory. Stephen Starr's report is here
  • 09:53
  • 09:56
    Miriam Lord has been making her way around the local and European election campaign trail in recent days, with the latest  piece focusing on how the ghosts of squabbles past are haunting Eamon Gilmore.
  • 09:57
    Good line from Miriam's piece - "He continues through gritted teeth to support  Phil Prendergast, the party’s sitting MEP and troublesome candidate in  Ireland  South. Her unique selling point is that she thinks Gilmore is a terrible leader and should be replaced."
  • 10:05
    I've written this piece for today's paper on the local election race in Co Carlow, where much has changed since the 2009 contest. There are now two rather than five electoral areas, 18 rather than 21 seats and two town councils being sent to oblivion.  
  • 10:10

    Fiach Kelly has a piece on some Fine Gael internal issues in north county Dublin, where sitting Cllr Tom O’Leary (58) is fighting for ground with prospective candidate JP Browne (35), added by party HQ after he lost out at a selection convention.

    HQ said Mr Browne, a barrister, had been approached by Fianna Fáil.

  • 10:13

    Former Olympian Eamonn Coughlan, a senator contesting the Dublin West byelection for Fine Gael, has been getting some attention after an appearance on Vincent Browne's TV3 programme last night where he gave a lengthy description of an interaction with a would-be constituent.  

    You can watch that here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuAlksupTgg

  • 10:22
  • 10:25
  • 10:28
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  • 10:34

    Colm Bergin has written this piece for today's Irish Times on how to increase voter turnout.

    "A striking statistic for the Seanad Abolition Referendum last year is that only 39 per cent of people voted on how their country should be governed. Even more worrying, this was not the lowest turnout in an Irish referendum."

  • 10:35
  • 10:37
  • 10:39
    Love/Hate actor Leroy Harris  has been shot in the leg in Dublin in a suspected case of mistaken identity. His injuries are non-life threatening. Life imitating art?
  • 10:42
  • 10:46

    Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have lowest percentage of female local election candidates, according to this piece by  Noirín Clancy, Claire McGing & Fiona Buckley.

    "People Before Profit (38.6 per cent), the Green Party  (32.6 per cent), Sinn Féin (31.6 per cent) and the Anti-Austerity Alliance (30 per cent) have all met or surpassed the key 30 per cent threshold."

  • 10:55
  • 10:59

    Election canvassers and people looking forward to getting out of work take note, Met Eireann says to expect a dry and bright day with sunny spells and  temperatures of 17 to 20 degrees.  Temperatures to fall to 15 or 16 degrees later this evening with a chance of patchy rain.


  • 11:01
  • 11:07

    Lauren Murphy has a piece today on One Direction ahead of their Croke Park gigs.

    “These shows were in planning for more than 18 months,” reveals Rory Murphy of MCD, the promoter staging the gigs. “Site preparation and stage build takes five days. There’ll be 400 local crew, 1,200 stewards and security, 160 medical staff – including a paediatric consultant – and four paediatric nurses, as well as up to 1,000 stadium personnel involved in making this event happen.”

  • 11:11
  • 11:20
  • 11:28

    The Labour Party's European election candidate for the Midlands-Northwest region Lorraine Higgins has said the Jackie Kennedy letters should be kept in Ireland and used as a tourist attraction.  

    The archive is expected to sell for more than €1 million. Who's buying, Lorraine?  

  • 11:33
    The race to be the next European Commission president is also on and Jean-Claude Juncker is one of those in the mix. His schedule for the next few days shows he'll be clocking up quite the carbon footprint with visits to Porto, Lisbon, Athens, Hamburg, Brussels and Luxembourg among other spots.  
  • 11:35
  • 11:40

    You'd nearly think they were trying to impress somebody. Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn is in Co Clare today to open a new €6.7 million school in Ennis.  

    Ennis is the local election area with the highest number of candidates (27) in the State.

    I wonder if the two Labour men in the mix, Seamus Ryan and Dermot Hayes, were on hand to greet the Minister?

  • 11:41
  • 11:46

    The majority of the Cabinet appears to be on the road today with the Dáil in recess now until after the election.

    Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton is in Leitrim opening a new Local Enterprise Office, while Taoiseach Enda Kenny is in Cork doing same. Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore is in Tralee. Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney is at an animal welfare conference at Dublin Castle. Minister for Children Charlie Flanagan is in Limerick to open a youth centre in Rathkeale

  • 11:55
    The loss of medical cards seems to be an issue popping up across the country for local election candidates, particulalry from the Government parties. One TD, Fine Gael's Catherine Byrne, has issued a statement today  calling on the HSE to write to an alternative contact or next of kin of medical card holders if they do not receive a response to their review request, in order to avoid unnecessary cancelling of medical cards where there is an entitlement.
  • 12:04

    Simon Coveney has announced a number of measures at the aforementioned animal welfare conference such as that dog micro chipping will be compulsory from January 1st, 2016.

    The Minister has also announced a stallion castration initiative -  with a view to bringing about more sustainable breeding - and a review of the Control of Horses Act. A draft code of practice is also being drawn up around the keeping of circus animals.

  • 12:08
    My colleagues Harry McGee and Daragh Bambrick have been on the campaign trail with Gerry Adams to see how Sinn Fein is fairing and if his recent arrest/questioning over the abduction and murder of Jean McConville is posing a problem for a party on the up in the opinion polls. Here's a video of when Harry met Gerry
  • 12:14
    Opposition candidate Narendra Modi looks nailed on to be the next prime minister of India. Counting trends showing the pro-business Hindu nationalist and his party are headed for the most resounding election victory the country has seen in thirty years. More on that one here
  • 12:16

    Sepp Blatter has said the awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar was a mistake but that the decision was not bought.  

    “The Qatar technical report indicated clearly that it is too hot in summer, but the executive committee with quite a big majority decided all the same that the tournament would be in Qatar,” he said, adding that the tournament will probably take place during the European winter.

  • 12:17
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  • 12:41

    Here's something for lunchtime - see what you remember from the week's news with with our weekly quiz.  


  • 12:44
  • 12:45
  • 12:48

    Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore’s strong signal that he will leave the Department of Foreign Affairs in the upcoming Cabinet reshuffle has been welcomed by Labour colleagues.

    Westmeath TD Willie Penrose said he hoped his party leader would take up a domestic ministry shortly after the local and European elections.

    “I certainly personally would like to see him closer to home. My own view is that there should be a substantial reshuffle,” Mr Penrose said.

    Mary Minihan reports  

  • 12:57

    The Europa League came to an end on Wednesday night with Sevilla pipping Benfica to the title on penalties. Uefa has announced its player, goal and unlikely hero of the tournament - who is none other than Irish Times soccer correspondent Emmet Malone.  

    "With Fenerbahçe SK unable to compete in this season's tournament, the UEFA Emergency Panel decided a draw would determine which losing team from the play-off round would be reinstated. Emmet Malone, a journalist from the Republic of Ireland – a country with no clubs in the group stage – was invited to make the draw, and drew APOEL FC, little realising the reaction that was in store.

    "One of the Cypriot side's fans tweeted that he would name a pub after the Irishman, while another named his son after him. Offered a complimentary trip by the club to watch a game, Malone suggested "that one act of complete randomness might most appropriately be repaid by another". APOEL obliged, paying for 11-year-old Dublin boy James Mohan, who loves football but cannot play because of a heart condition, his younger brother Thomas and their mother Brenda to visit Nicosia for the visit of Eintracht Frankfurt."

    Fair play to him

  • 13:04

    You really would think it's election time: The Tanaiste has told the Impact trade union conference in Co Kerry that the next time the Government discusses pay with public service unions it will be with a view to increasing, not cutting, wages.  

    Martin Wall reports from Killarney  

  • 13:05
  • 13:07
    Interesting interactive  graphic on the Guardian website about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights around the world
  • 13:16

    Guardian also reporting on the case of Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore who is in increasingly hot water after sending sexist emails from his work account.

    The emails, between Scudamore and Nick West of law firm DLA Piper, referred to women in derogatory terms, contained sexual innuendoes, and made jokes about “female irrationality”.

  • 13:24

    Fine Gael members working hard to downplay a story in this morning's Irish Independent suggesting the Universal Social Charge (USC) could rise by up to €700 per year for a family with a single-income of €40,000 annually.  

    Fine Gael TD and chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children Jerry Buttimer has criticised the story as "Fianna Fáil fuelled media speculation" which he said was "irresponsible and wrong".

    “Fianna Fáil designed the USC so that the special low rate of 4% for certain categories including older people would lapse," Buttimer said in a statement. "By comparison, we are very clear that everyone aged 70 and over will continue to benefit from the lower 4% rate of USC rate on all income below €60k."

    Minister for Finance Michael Noonan is on the News at One also blaming Fianna Fáil for spinning the yarn, but his defence about the party setting timebombs and walking away is wearing a little thin at this stage.  

  • 13:24
  • 13:32

    Reuters reporting that a 31-year-old woman has been arrested after several months posing as a teenage student at a private high school in Texas. Woman claimed she had been homeschooled and was taken in by a family after saying she had escaped a violent upbringing.  

    Full story here

  • 13:33
    Here's a picture of that '15-year-old' student, Charity Johnson (31)
    Here's a picture of that "15-year-old" student, Charity Johnson (31)
  • 13:39

    Things appear to be getting no better in Ukraine where UN monitors say human rights violations have escalated in eastern areas and serious problems are emerging in Crimea.  

    More on that here

  • 13:40
  • 13:45
  • 14:06

    Not quite the Wolf of Wall Street here:  

    Colin Fan, the co-head of Deutsche Bank's investment arm, has taken the unusual step of sending out an internal video with a severe warning to traders about their online behaviour -    boasting, vulgar comments and indiscretion are “not OK”.

  • 14:11

    Former Barcelona player Luis Enrique has stepped down as manager of Celta Vigo, who he has steered to eight in the league, increasing speculation that he could be the new boss at the Nou Camp next season.  

    Despite criticism of a poor season, Gerardo "Tata" Martino could well lead Barcelona to the title this weekend if they beat Atletico Madrid on Saturday in what is a straight up league decider.

    A draw would be enough to secure a first title for the best part of two decades for Atletico, who have let a commanding position slip in recent weeks.

  • 14:12
  • 14:13
    Libyan irregular forces backed by helicopters and led by a retired army general clashed with Islamist militias in the eastern city of Benghazi, killing at least two people, security and medical sources have told Reuters.
  • 14:16

    Independent Midlands Northwest European election candidate Senator Rónán Mullen has called on  both Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Minister for Health James Reilly "to stop playing politics with our most vulnerable citizens" after meeting a family of a boy with special needs who lost a medical card.  

    "It is appalling that special needs children are being deprived of medical cards  when it ought to be more than obvious that  health and welfare needs of particular children cannot be met without State support," he said.  

  • 14:23

    In the second of our local election county profiles today, Lorna Siggins has been looking at Mayo, where Fine Gael swept most rivals aside in 2009 taking 17 of 31 seats and 44.4% of the first preference vote.  

    The party is already a man down after sitting councillor and Mayo football star Séamus Weir withdrew his name at last January’s selection convention in Ballina, and declared his intention to run as an Independent. The reason - pylons.  

    More from Lorna here

  • 14:24
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  • 14:36

    Nigel Farage was accused of being a divisive racist in a car-crash interview this morning that his most senior aide attempted to halt, the Daily Telegraph reports.

    People “know” which foreigners make good neighbours, Mr Farage suggested, as he struggled to justify his opposition to European immigration while being married to a German.

  • 14:40
  • 14:42
  • 14:47

    Malachy Clerkin wrote this  cutting piece about the welcome extended to Donald Trump at Shannon Airport earlier this week.

    Minister for Finance Michael Noonan - who along with a harpist and violinist was among the welcoming posse - says he saw nothing wrong with it.  

    “Would there be criticism if it was an IDA factory that was going into West Clare with 300 jobs? This man says he’s going to spend at least double the purchase price for investment down there.”

    Mary Minihan has more here  

  • 15:04
    Veteran British broadcaster Stuart Hall was cleared today of raping two young girls but he was convicted of one count of indecent assault. The 84-year-old  is currently serving a 30-month jail term after he pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting 13 other young girls, one as young as nine, over a period of nearly 20 years.
  • 15:05
  • 15:07
    Sinn Féin now weighing into this story about USC rising. European election candidate Matt Carthy (Midlands Northwest) says the rising rate represents "a disgraceful attack" on struggling families. "It is austerity in action," he says, adding that a USC reduction for higher earners would be a further "kick in the teeth".
  • 15:09
  • 15:09
    A bit of electoral Russian roulette there.  
  • 15:10
  • 15:21

    This piece from the Daily Telegraph suggests that women waste £180,000 on unused beauty products in a lifetime. £180,000. That almost €221,000.

    "In fact, of the 840 moisturisers, 360 nail varnishes and 300 lipsticks females buy over an average lifetime, we only use 10 per cent of what we buy."  

  • 15:28

    The Department of Finance has taken the unusal step of transcribing an interview with Michael Noonan from Newstalk this morning (about this would be USC hike) and publishing it on its website  here

    He says: "Fianna Fáil are trying to frighten elderly people, and Fine Gael have a very good record on tax issues, particularly personal tax. And as I've said a number of times that my intention in the budget, if there's any scope at all, to reduce personal taxes on people."

    "It's a bit like the VAT last year, the 9% one was coming to an end at a certain date. And if the Government didn't act it would automatically go up to 13.5%. So this is exactly the same."

  • 15:30

    The Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) has called on classified adverts website DoneDeal to remove its animal section, saying it facilitates an unacceptable volume of puppy trading, writes Dan Griffin.

    DoneDeal says no dice and that the removal of the section would drive the practice underground.  

  • 15:32
  • 15:40
  • 15:48
    BREAKING: The strike by air traffic controllers in France has had "no effect" on air traffic in Dublin airport, according to a DAA spokesman.
  • 15:51
    Reuters reporting that EU ant-trust regulators are poised to approve the  Hutchison Whampoa (company behind 3) takeover of the o2 mobile phone business in Ireland.  
  • 15:56
  • 16:00
    From NBA.com: The Los Angeles Clippers’ season came to an end last night with their loss in Game 6 of the NBA's West Coast semifinals to Oklahoma City Thunder. With the basketball playing done in LA, the issue that has dogged the Clips since the first round — the ousting of owner Donald Sterling — will undoubtedly heat up. According to SI.com’s legal expert Michael McCann,Sterling has hired a lawyer and is looking to sue to the NBA himself for its decision to remove him as owner.
  • 16:03
    Tit for tat over this USC story.  Fianna Fáil finance spokesman Michael McGrath has said Michael Noonan should allay the fears of low and middle income families with medical cards by ruling out any hike in the charge rather than lashing out at Fianna Fail for highlighting the matter.  

  • 16:03
  • 16:06
    More here on that case whch saw a  man was jailed for two years after he threatened to rape and kill a garda, shoot her colleague and blow them both up.
  • 16:09
    A terrible grasp of the English language is displayed in this note to students of the Millenium College language school which has closed down today.
  • 16:13

    The HSE has unreservedly apologised to a surgeon who sued arising from the carrying out of reviews of surgical services at Our Lady’s Hospital, Navan, Co Meath in 2005 and 2010.  

    At the High Court today, the HSE said Joseph McGrath “is a surgeon of the highest integrity and reputation”. It has also agreed to pay him damages, plus his legal costs, under a settlement of his action in which he alleged the reviews unfairly impacted on him and caused him damage.

    More here from Mary Carolan

  • 16:31

    Channel 4 News says it has obtained a letter about Ukip leader Nigel Farage, from his days as a schoolboy, in which teachers are quoted as accusing him of being "racist" and "fascist".  

    More on that here

  • 16:34

    Ok folks. I'm going to call it quits for today. As always keep an eye on irishtimes.com for breaking news.

    We'll be back with you on Monday morning to take you through the final week of the local, European, Dublin West and Longford-Westmeath election campaigns. Thanks for reading.