News Blog

A rolling look at today's events

Dan Griffin Tue, Jun 4
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  • 09:01
    As Leaving Cert students rub their hands with glee at the prospect of English Paper 1 tomorrow morning, the weather, as it always seems to in early June, has taken a turn for the better, with clear skies and sunshine across the country.
  • 09:03
    Good morning, Dan Griffin here on the Irish Times news blog for June 4th 2013
  • 09:06
    Today's main stories from the Irish Times:

    Complaints over home help show older people at risk of abuse.

    US voices concern over Turkish unrest

    And the increase in the number of students choosing higher maths will cause an increase in CAO points
  • 09:14
    Vulnerable older people are being exposed to the risk of abuse and mistreatmentdur to an absense of home help inspection, unpublished records show
    Reports on complaints over home help show cases of older people being left in bed because staff did not show up, poor standards of intimate care and allegation of theft.

    The US last night called for an investigation into the political violence in Turkey and urged restraint on all sides following the fifth day of escalating nationwide protests agains tth erule of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    Upward pressure on the points needed for third-level courses looks set to continue given a sharp increase in the numbers of students taking higher maths in the Leaving Cert this year, Dick Ahlstrom writes.
  • 09:24
    Elsewhere, US actor Alec Baldwin has called Irish documentary maker Phelim McAleer a "lumpy old gas whore".

    Since moving to America, McAleer has directed a number of films challenging environmentalists. Baldwin, an anti-fracking advocate, isn't particularly keen on them. 

    The pair becam involved in an online spat when Baldwin objected to McAleer's presence on a panel at the Hamptons International Film Festival next month to discuss the film Gaslands 2.

     "A dreadful filmmaker," and a "laughably stilted industry valentine," is how Baldwin described McAleer through Twitter.

    McAleer says the actor has since blocked him from his Twitter feed. Which is about as serious as it gets, I suppose.
  • 09:31
  • 09:46
    The Department of Foreign Affairs is getting set to flog about 700 bottles of wine after the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore decided to clear the departmental cellars at Iveagh House, according to the Irish Independent's front page.  

    Gilmore decided it was inappropriate for costly wines to be bought or drunk at the expense of the department, so about a third of the 2,343 bottles in the cellar.

    They're hanging on to bottles worth €30 or less so visiting dignitaries will have to get used to more modest plonk on their trips to Ireland. But then, of course, after the first bottle it's all much of  a muchness anyway.
  • 09:48
    "It’s a costly business promoting Ireland’s image abroad, as DFA costs show.
    Wine: €51,764. Gifts: €16,612. Dinner held in honour of the Chinese vice-president in Bunratty Castle: €8,324. The promotion of Ireland’s image abroad: priceless," wrote Pamela Duncan in December 2012.
  • 10:00
    Sticking with the subject of Irish hospitality, let's not forget the Bishop of Southwark Rt Rev Tom Butler's emotionally tiring ordeal following the Irish Embassy in London's annual Christmas knees-up a few years ago.

    From the Telegraph:

    Witnesses say he [the Bishop] ended up in Crucifix Lane, a largely deserted street next to railway arches near his cathedral, at 9.30pm where he clambered into a stranger's Mercedes and started throwing toys on to the road.  

    The owner of the car, Paul Sumpter, inquired as to what exactly the Bishop was at.  

    "I'm the Bishop of Southwark, it's what I do," Butler replied.
  • 10:05
  • 10:13
    The trial of South African athletics star Oscar Pistorius for the alleged murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp has been postponed until August 19th at a brief hearing at a Pretoria court this morning.
  • 10:23
    We also have a Forbidden Fruit gallery here. And Orla Tinsley here on yesterday's mini-marathon: "It was love, sweat and cheers as more than €12 million was raised for over 700 charities," she writes.
  • 10:38
    Today marks the start of the International Federation of Journalists world congress, which is taking place in Dublin this week.

    "If journalism is to be a public good just like education or public health, why not discuss with governments giving print newspapers tax subsidies?" Jim Boumelha, the federation's president asks in today's paper.
  • 10:42
    "This would be ideal in the spare room."

  • 10:43

    Giovanni Trapattoni made it clear yesterday he expects James McCarthy to travel to New York this weekend with the Italian suggesting that if the midfielder is not injured it would be unacceptable to let down either the supporters or the rest of the team as the Republic of Ireland take on the world and European champions Spain at Yankee Stadium, writes Emmet Malone.

  • 10:50
  • 10:56
    Brian Mooney on Pat Kenny show now talking about the Leaving Cert. "Everyday there are people who fail to meet papers because they oversleep," he says. Also, stress is normal, "if you don't feel stress you're in trouble," a possible link there then.
  • 11:02
    "Slap on the suntan lotion folks," urges the front page of the Irish Daily Mirror, "because today is going to be HOTTER THAN GREECE."

    "Ireland will be hotter than Greece today as the country bakes in glorious 24 degree heat," the article continues.

    "And it will leave the Greek island of Corfu, which will only muster 21 degrees, in the shade."

    Yeah, up yours, Corfu.
  • 11:05
    Meanwhile, the worst flooding in a decade has hit central Europe.

    Swathes of suburban Prague were under water today after floods which have killed 11 people swept across central Europe, and the deluge moved towards Germany where more than 10,000 people have been forced from their homes.

  • 11:14
    The mother of stabbing victim Dean Fitzpatrick was unable to attend his funeral this morning due to illness.
    Audrey Fitzpatrick became unwell last night after attending her son’s removal at the Church of the Holy Trinity, Donaghmede, north Dublin, Jason Kennedy reports.
  • 11:16
    Travel writer Paul Theroux on the radio now talking about how he'd like to die: with a drink in his hand, beside his wife, on a Hawaiian island.
  • 11:34
  • 11:55
    United Nations human rights investigators said today they had “reasonable grounds” to believe limited amounts of chemical weapons had been used in Syria.

    In their latest report, they said they had received allegations that Syrian government forces and rebels had used the banned weapons, but that most testimony related to their use by state forces.
  • 12:07
    Interesting article in today's Financial Times on "sensory ploys and the scent of marketing".

    "From the reassuring clunk of a BMW car door to the subdued lighting in some shopping outlets, many sensory experiences are no accident," writes Robert Budden. "They are often the fruits of extensive market research."

    Budden goes on to say that Singapore Airlines has a signature scent which is worn by its flight crew and sprayed on to the steaming hot towels provided for passengers.

    Deodorant brand Lynx, meanwhile, "has spent considerable sums perfecting the sound of its aerosol can to amplify its brand message of strength and effectivness."  

    Perhaps Lynx should also think of pumping some of those "considerable sums" into figuring out a way to improve the toxic pong of their spray.
  • 12:24
    One hundred years ago today suffragette Emily Wilding Davison was fatally injured  when she ran out in front of King George V's horse during the Epsom Derby. The BBC has a nice piece here on how one Northumberland town is paying tribute.
  • 12:30
  • 12:36
  • 12:39
    The boom is getting boomier:

    Residential property prices outside Dublin increased for the first time in four months in April, rising by 1.2 per cent.
    The average price of properties in the capital also rose during the month - but at a far slower rate of 0.2 per cent. 

  • 13:01
  • 13:11
  • 13:28
    A 24-hour-concert virtual concert—“the biggest online-only event of its kind”, according to the Reuters copy which has just landed in our inbox—will take place later this month.
    The 24-hour virtual concert is set to kick off at 7 p.m. EDT on June 19 and will feature performances by more than 50 bands and artists spanning rock, indie, pop, R&B and folk. Acts include Hanson, Atlas Genius, Labrinth, Langhorne Slim and Kate Nash.
    Happily, concert goers “won’t have to leave their homes” to enjoy all that, because the performances “will be streamed live from Viacom's offices in New York, Nashville and Los Angeles”.
    Music networks MTV, VH1 and CMT are involved and seem to have some form when it comes to superlatives.
    “At the first O Music awards in Las Vegas in 2011, rapper Chiddy of rap duo Chiddy Bang set a Guinness World Record for the ‘longest freestyle rap’ and ‘longest marathon rap’ after performing for more than nine consecutive hours.”
  • 13:33
    A prisoner on hunger strike as he awaits trial over the murder of rugby player Shane Geoghegan was brought to court today half naked in a wheelchair.

    John Dundon was pushed in to the non-jury Special Criminal Court wearing only a pair of shorts, where he was due to stand trial for the murder of the Garryowen player in 2008
  • 13:34
    Coldest spring in thirty years in some parts, according to Met Éireann. "A dull and windy spring."
  • 13:39
    Vincent O'Shea tells Sean O'Rourke on Radio 1 that the max temperature record for the year was broken about an hour ago and it looks like this fine settled weather is going to last "about as far as we can see ahead".
  • 13:52
    Tourists’ standard of driving in particular is being targeted in a concerted effort to contain rising death tolls on Irish roads, writes Dan Keenan.
    The Road Safety Authority and senior gardaí have called for a concerted effort on the issue in a year when nearly seven million tourists are expected to visit the Republic.
  • 13:59
    And here's more on that cheese and sweets advertising business that's been doing the rounds today.
  • 14:11
    Oh, actually, spring this year was the coldest in 62 years in some areas.

    Temperatures fell to as low as minus 7.6 degrees at Markree, Co Sligo, in March, the coldest month of the season, according to the latest figures from Met Eireann.
  • 14:16
  • 14:36
    "Citizen scientists," whatever that's supposed to mean, are now using a smartphone app to track the progress of jellyfish along thousands of miles of Mediterranean coastline,  according to the Guardian.

    Apparently global warming and overfishing in the Mediterranean has allowed jellyfish to prosper, and numbers have shot up in recent years.

    Worryingly, jellyfish experts have detected a surge in one of the most poisonous species, the mauve stinger or Pelagia noctiluca, along the coast of Catalonia and Valencia.  

     It's bad news for tourism as around 150,000 people are treated for jellyfish stings around the Mediterranean each summer (including this reporter who was felled by a particularly bellicose specimen during a swim off the Israeli coast in 2010.)

    They are cute though, the jellyfish.

  • 14:41
  • 14:53
    Minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton has sought to distance herself from comments she shared on her official Twitter account comparing the prospect of European countries providing weapons to the Syrian opposition to arming al-Qaeda, the IT’s foreign affairs correspondent Mary Fitzgerald writes.

    On May 27, the day European leaders met to discuss a British and French push to lift the EU’s arms embargo to allow weapons supplies to rebels battling president Bashar al-Assad, Ms Creighton retweeted a tweet from Irish political commentator Richard Waghorne to her 10,000 followers. In the tweet, Mr Waghorne wrote: “The European Union's proposal to arm Syrian rebels may as well be a proposal to arm al-Qaida. Seriously short-sighted.”

    Ms Creighton’s Twitter account does not feature the commonly used disclaimer that retweets do not constitute an endorsement of what is shared. However, when asked about the retweet, a spokesman for the minister said: “A retweet is not an endorsement. Many governments, including Ireland, have serious reservations about arming rebels in Syria because of the numbers of groups operating within the country, some with very different aims.”
  • 14:58
  • 15:13
    "The plane was left with trays strewn across the aisles, bread rolls and foil containers lying on the floor and pillows littering the carpets. But it was extreme turbulance, rather than a violent brawl, that caused the mess," said the Telegraph in the accompanying words for this picture gallery of a bumpy Singapore Airlines flight.

    Imagine if it had been a violent brawl though, a real boozy, mid-air slobberknocker  involving just about every passenger on the plane and one of the pilots. That would have been good.
  • 15:16
    Former X Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos was arrested today on suspicion of supplying class A drugs, sources said.
  • 15:18
    An area close to the centre of Belfast was sealed off this afternoon as police investigated a report of a gunman in a building.

    PSNI armed response officers were called to St Anne’s Square, not far from the city’s Cathedral district.
  • 15:32
    An American tourist was gang-raped by a group of men in a hill resort in northern India, police said today, in what is the latest in a series of attacks that have thrown the spotlight on women’s safety.

    Three men have been arrested.
  • 15:40
  • 15:59
    They were replica guns.

    An area in central Belfast has reopened after police discovered replica firearms in a building where a gunman sighting was reported.
  • 16:16
    Young disaffected people vulnerable to the influence of dissident republican and loyalist paramilitary groups are being targeted by the International Fund for Ireland (IFI) as part of a three-year strategy to promote reconciliation in Northern Ireland, writes Gerry Moriarty.
  • 16:19
  • 16:32

    A “radical” restructuring of Royal Bank of Scotland, which is largely owned by the UK taxpayer, could see it transfer control of its Irish operation, Ulster Bank, to the Irish government.

    Fiona Reddan has more.

  • 16:52

    Now, more from the frontlines of the great English badger cull:

    "The fight against the badger cull is being waged in the fields of Gloucestershire and Somerset – and also on global social media networks," reports

    "Thousands of anti-cull campaigners sent the tag line “badgermonday” to be the top trending phrase on Twitter yesterday, while the saboteurs who pledged to disrupt the cull have been using the social network to co-ordinate their actions."

    Background:  Nightime badger shooting parties have been authorised as a way of curbing turerculosis in cattle.

    Hard rock legends Slash and Brian May as well as BBC wildlife grandee David Attenborough are against it.

  • 16:54
  • 16:56
    There's also a song, the Badger Swagger.

     "Some things are black and white/ Come on we gotta win this fight."

    It's not great.
  • 17:06
    We'll leave you with this: a male Osprey flies with a fish from a nest at the Loch of the Lowes today in Dunkeld,  Scotland. The female Osprey which has been migrating from West Africa to breed at the nature reserve for 23 years hatched what is
    We'll leave you with this: a male Osprey flies with a fish from a nest at the Loch of the Lowes today in Dunkeld, Scotland. The female Osprey which has been migrating from West Africa to breed at the nature reserve for 23 years hatched what is
  • 17:10

    Righto, we'll leave it there for today. Conor Pope will be at the controls bright and early tomorrow morning.