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A rolling look at today's events

Colin Gleeson Mon, Mar 31
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  • 09:08
    Good morning and welcome to today’s Daily Wire. It’s a nice fresh morning out there for now, although Met Eireann has said it will be a mixed day weather-wise.
  • 09:09
    My name is Colin Gleeson and I will be bringing you today’s events as they occur between now and 5pm.
  • 09:09
    The lead story in the Irish Times this morning is by Geraldine Kennedy who reports that Attorney General Maire Whelan ordered the Garda not to destroy the tapes of the secret recordings.
  • 09:16

    The Attorney General took this decision around noon on Thursday, March 20th, on learning that the legal affairs division in the Garda Commissioner’s office was seeking permission from the Data Protection Commissioner to destroy their archive of recordings.

    You can read the whole story here.

  • 09:25

    Also on the front page this morning is a major new report on climate change which is warning that – among other things – millions of people will go hungry due to the adverse impacts of global warming on agriculture.

    Melting Arctic sea ice, bleached coral reefs and multiple dangers to human security from heatwaves, and flooding are other issues flagged by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is releasing its report this morning in Yokohama, Japan.

    The main story on the report is here.

  • 09:34

    Incidentally, it's also Al Gore's birthday today, who of course starred in  An Inconvenient Truth – the documentary warning of the dangers of global warming.

    He is 66 and what a birthday present it would be for him if today's report compelled world leaders to do a little more on the subject.

    I doubt it will happen somehow.

  • 09:52

    The most read story on at the moment is a report on escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula.

    South Korea has returned artillery fire after North Korea lobbed shells over the two countries’ western sea border.

    The exchange of artillery fire comes after North Korea yesterday said it may conduct a “new form” of nuclear test, and before US defence secretary Chuck Hagel’s visit to the region later this week.

  • 09:55
    The North Koreans won't like that.
  • 10:07

    Irish people spent more money per head on fast food than 19 other European countries in 2012, according to market research firm Euromonitor International.

    Defining fast food as food bought from counter service for immediate consumption, it calculated that we spent a whopping €322 per head on this food, compared with the next-most enthusiastic fast-food aficionados in Finland, who spent €294.50. The UK came next at €278.80.

    You can read Alison Healy’s report here.


  • 10:10

    The picture at the top of this blog by the way is of a property tax form.

    It may be incredibly uninteresting – but it’s there because today is the deadline for homeowners who have yet to pay their local property tax or household charge to avoid any interest or penalties.

  • 10:16

    A new study produced by Social Justice Ireland for Caritas Europa reveals “disturbing levels of poverty and deprivation” in the seven EU countries worst affected by the economic crisis: Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Romania and Spain.

    “The prioritisation by the EU and its member States of economic policies at the expense of social policies during the current crisis is having a devastating impact on people, especially in the seven countries worst hit,” according to Social Justice Ireland director Dr Seán Healy.

    The report, “The Economic Crisis and its Human Cost - A Call for Fair Alternatives and Solutions", outlines the policy measures and trends across the seven countries and documents the growing number of people struggling with poverty and social exclusion.

  • 10:24

    Today is D-Day for Dublin’s three county councils – Fingal, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and South Dublin – who will today vote on whether to permit the mayoral proposal to be put to a plebiscite of Dublin residents on May 23rd.

    Dublin could be just one councillor’s vote short of the numbers needed to allow a public ballot on whether there should be a directly-elected mayor for the capital, reports Dublin correspondent Olivia Kelly this morning.

  • 10:27

    That comes as Paris elected its first woman mayor yesterday.

    The French capital's voters chose Socialist Party candidate Anne Hidalgo (54) over her rival Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, a 40-year-old, conservative right, former minister.

  • 10:33

    More on the escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula.

    North Korea fired more than 500 rounds of artillery in a drill and about 100 of them landed in the water south of a disputed maritime border off the western coast of the peninsula, South Korea's defence ministry said.

    The South returned fire with more than 300 rounds aimed at an area north of the so-called Northern Limit Line, ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said, calling the North's action "a test of the South's determination to defend the naval border".

  • 10:44

    Stephen Ireland has apparently indicated he is ready to return to playing international football for Ireland.

    Asked if he had spoken to Keane or Martin O’Neill, Ireland said: “I’ve had some brief contact with them, but nothing major about my future or returning.

    “That’ll be in the near future. It’s something we can have a chat about, we’ll have to assess it then.”

    Asked if he felt ready for an international return, Ireland added: “Yes, I think so.

    “The more I play for Stoke and the more consistency I get, the more I can start looking at those options.”

    Praise be to the Lord. That’s very good of him.

  • 10:50

    There is a very interesting report by Patsy McGarry in today’s Irish Times, which recounts the story of Setsuko Thurlow, an 82 year-old a mother of two and grandmother of two, who survived the Hiroshima nuclear blast of 1945.

    She was at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin for a conference organised by the Department of Foreign Affairs, UCC’s history department and the Japanese embassy.

  • 10:54
    On that note, it was on this day in 1958 that the US Navy formed the atomic submarine division.
  • 10:58

    Also on this day, this time in 1959, the spiritual leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama, crossed the border into India after an epic 15-day journey on foot from the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, over the Himalayan mountains.

    There had been no news of his safety or whereabouts since he left Lhasa on March 17th with an entourage of 20 men, including six Cabinet ministers.

    Many thought he had been killed in the fierce Chinese crackdown that followed the Tibetan uprising earlier in the month.

  • 11:12

    Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and several members of his government are visiting Crimea today.

    He is the most senior Russian figure to the region since its annexation by Russia earlier this month.

  • 11:17

    Manchester United defender Rafael is a doubt for tomorrow’s Champions League quarter-final first leg tie against Bayern Munich after he missed training this morning.

    The right-back came off at half-time during United’s 4-1 win over Aston Villa on Saturday with a thigh strain and he did not feature in the 15-minute training session open to media at Carrington.

    United are big underdogs to progress to the last four of the competition at the expense of the reigning European champions, who won the Bundesliga last week with seven games to spare.

  • 11:18

    The International Court of Justice has ruled that Japan’s Antarctic whaling programme is not for scientific purposes and has ordered a temporary halt.

    Australia had sued Japan at the UN dispute resolution court in the hope of ending whaling in the Southern Ocean.

    Reading a judgment by the court’s 16-judge panel, presiding judge Peter Tomka, of Slovakia, said Japan has not justified the large number of minke whales it takes under its programme, while failing to meet much smaller targets for fin and humpback whales.

    The court ordered a halt to the issuing of whaling permits until the programme has been revamped.

  • 11:30

    I strongly suspect they are trying make me the victim of a premature April Fool’s stitching up here, but Domino’s Pizza’s PR company have just emailed me to announce that they have today unveiled the world’s first edible pizza box.

    “Dubbed the ‘Edibox’, pizza lovers will be able to tuck in to the latest mealtime innovation nationwide from tomorrow,” they say.

    “Both functional and delicious, the new Edibox is a world first in ‘snackaging’ or edible packaging that’s set to take Ireland by storm. Simply munch your way through the new Edibox and savour every last bite.”

    They have, mind you, provided a picture of it.

    I’ll let you make up your own minds on that one.

  • 11:31
    The Dominos Edibox
    The Dominos Edibox
  • 11:38

    It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been duped by the oh-so-witty world of PR.

    A couple of years back, I was halfway through writing a story about the AA’s introduction of jetpacks so as to get to the scene of breakdowns quicker, when I noticed the accompanying picture of a man in the jetpack, and the penny dropped.

    In my defence, I had been asked by a news editor to write it.

    Mortifying all the same. Thank God I didn't file it.

  • 11:51

    The garda press office has just issued a release on the publication today by the Central Statistics Office of crime statistics for the fourth quarter of last year.

    Interestingly, the release includes a statement by new Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan on the statistics. It’s the first time I’ve seen a release from them in which a commissioner has been quoted.

    She says:

    “The decrease in crime rates in 11 of the 14 crime groups reflects the commitment and hard work being carried out by the dedicated members of An Garda Siochana throughout the organisation every day of the week. Such a reduction would not have been possible without the close partnership we are fortunate to have with communities. It is absolutely vital that we do all we can to maintain and enhance our close connections with communities so as ensure they are kept safe.

    “We know that crimes such as burglary, property damage and public order are a major concern for people as they can impact on their quality of their daily lives. That is why we put in place successful operations such as our anti-burglary Operation Fiacla.

    “So it is particularly pleasing to see large reductions in the Burglary and Related Offences (down 7.2%), Damage to Property and the Environment (down 10.7%), and Public Order and Other Social Code Offences (down 17.1%).

    “Similarly, it is heartening to see that our ongoing road safety messages and enforcement measures have helped lead to a reduction in the number of people driving dangerously over the limit, which is reflected in the decrease of 15.5% in the Dangerous and Negligent Acts category.

    “At the same time, the rise in Homicide Offences is due to increases in dangerous driving leading to death so it is critical that An Garda Siochana, the Road Safety Authority, statutory and voluntary bodies, and the public continue to work together to make our roads safer.

    “In addition, the fall in Weapons and Explosive Offences (down 9.9%) and Controlled Drugs Offences (down 6.4%) confirm that our on-going efforts to tackle organised crime and subversive activity are working and are necessary to continue to help protect citizens, communities and the State.

    “However, we must remain vigilant and we are constantly monitoring emerging crime trends and patterns so that when increases in crime groups occur we can put in place targeted and co-ordinated measures to reduce them.

    “For example, when it was clear that Theft and Related Offences were increasing, we ran a very successful National Crime Prevention Day of Action in December highlighting the growth in smart phone theft and how people could protect themselves from having their phones robbed. This information campaign, which provided crime prevention advice through, our social media channels and the media, ran in conjunction with a range of enforcement measures.”

  • 11:56

    Boylesports are offering odds of 100/1 on Manchester United to win both legs of their European tie with Bayern Munich.

    That’s pretty embarrassing.

  • 12:04

    There were a total of 25,000 child visits recorded by the Northern Ireland Prison Service during 2013.

    The scale of child visits to jails was reported by The Detail, an investigative news website based in Belfast, after it requested a breakdown of visitors to the three main prison sites in the North.

    You can read the Irish Times coverage of the figures here.

  • 12:49

    China has called for calm and restraint on the Korean peninsula after the artillery exchange.

    Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Hong Lei made the remarks in a daily briefing today.

  • 13:01

    Two men have been arrested in the investigation into a Dublin cash-for-transit robbery in October of last year.

    A man in his 60s and another in his 20s were arrested this morning and are being detained under provisions of Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act at Tallaght Garda station.

    The robbery was carried out at Fortunestown Way, Tallaght, on October 21st, 2013, at about 11.45am.

  • 13:15
    Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has been quoted this afternoon as having said he is concerned that former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan knew about the unlawful recordings back in November but did not tell the Minister for Justice at that point.
  • 13:23

    A group of six anti-austerity activists are occupying the Revenue Commissioners’ offices in Dublin’s Cathedral Street, off O’Connell Street.

    The occupation began at about 11.15am today when the five men and one woman began a sit-down protest in the Revenue offices as people dealt with their tax affairs - some making their Local Property Tax payments ahead of the deadline.

    Gardaí were called to the scene and the offices were closed to the public at about 12.10pm.

    Patsy McGarry reports.

  • 13:24

    That news comes as the deadline for homeowners who have yet to pay their local property tax or household charge has been extended.

    The deadline was planned for midnight tonight, but the Revenue Commissioners announced today it has been extended until 5pm on Wednesday.

  • 13:36

    I just joined Twitter there so you can tweet me @ColinGleesonIT if you would like to comment on anything that’s going on today.

    Was meant to that ages ago but there you are.

    I only have one follower.

  • 13:39

    A traffic warning from the AA informs me that there is loose pig on the M8 Dublin/ Cork Rd in the median between J11 Cahir South and J12 Mitchelstown North.

    Hopefully the relevant authorities can save his bacon before an accident happens.

  • 13:47

    The economist David McWilliams has just posted a blog comparing Manchester United fans with Irish property investors.

    As a United fan myself, it was with some trepidation that I clicked on to it.

    His thesis is that “when United beat some Greek outfit at home and Wayne Rooney manages to lob an off-form West Ham keeper, the Stretford Enders rally around each other singing Glory, Glory Man Utd, dreaming of former glory when the reality is they have just beaten two second raters”.

    He continues: “Similarly, the Irish property investors, the ones who are not bankrupt, see a few months of slightly rising prices as being the signal that the new boom is under way.

    “Like the United fans, they tend to be driven by memory, rather than reality. Aided and abetted by the forces of hype, the banks, the estates agents and the property pornographers in the media, the entire property apparatus whips itself into hysteria.”

    Thanks for that.

  • 13:48
  • 14:14
    The Government’s plan to introduce free GP care for children under age six from this summer is “not achievable” given the lack of progress to date, the Irish Medical Organisation has said.
  • 14:26
    Bloomberg are reporting that French President Francois Hollande is set to reshuffle his cabinet after his Socialist Party was trounced in local elections and his government missed its 2013 deficit target.
  • 14:27

    North Korea's recent actions, which include firing of artillery rounds into South Korean waters, are "dangerous and provocative", and the country's threats and provocations only isolate it further, a White House official said today.

    "We remain steadfast in our commitment (to) the defence of our allies and remain in close coordination with both the Republic of Korea and Japan," White House National Security Council spokesman Jonathan Lalley said.

  • 14:29

    Ha, apparently the Russians are also "urging restraint".

  • 14:36
    I don't think Russell Crowe is a very nice man..
  • 15:04

    Lufthansa has cancelled 3,800 flights for April 2-4, or virtually all of its operations, due to a planned walkout by pilots, in what would be one of the biggest strikes ever to hit the German airline.

    Vereiningung Cockpit, the union representing most of Lufthansa's 5,400 pilots, last week said it was calling for a three day strike from April 2 over plans by Germany's largest airline to scrap an early retirement deal.

  • 15:20
    US and South Korean marines participate in an annual Combined Joint Logistics over the Shore (CJLOTS) exercise during the Ssang Yong (Double Dragon) exercises against a possible attack from North Korea, in Pohang, 360 km southeast of Seoul, Sout
    US and South Korean marines participate in an annual Combined Joint Logistics over the Shore (CJLOTS) exercise during the Ssang Yong (Double Dragon) exercises against a possible attack from North Korea, in Pohang, 360 km southeast of Seoul, Sout
  • 15:25

    Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins has called on Minister Alan Shatter to “immediately” publish the letter that was sent from Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan on March 10th asking that the Minister be made aware of the Garda recordings issue.

    “While our motion of no confidence is based on a multi-layered analysis of Alan Shatter’s mishandling of his portfolio, clearly the issue of Garda station recording systems and the Government’s response to it is a major source of public concern,” he said.

  • 15:29

    Tipperary hurling fans may be slightly disappointed with news that the two Allianz Hurling League semi-finals will not be played in Thurles, but as a double-header at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick on Easter Sunday, April 20th.

    The four Division 1A sides won through to the semi-finals after Sunday’s final round of league games, including defending champions Kilkenny and last year’s beaten finalists Tipperary.

  • 15:46

    The annual Union of Students in Ireland (USI) Congress began at noon today president Joe O’Connor’s delivered the opening address in which he said this is a time of “significant hardship” for students across Ireland.

    “We have only touched on the work that needs to be done,” he said. “We are in the midst of a Higher Education funding crisis and at a crossroads as to whether we view it as a public good or private commodity. We believe that Equity of Access to Higher Education can only be achieved through a system devoid of financial barriers and commercial influence.

    “USI has been driving social change since 1959 and will continue to do so in the future. The student movement needs strong leadership and direction, so let’s continue to drive our economic recovery and shape our future society. Together we are stronger.”

  • 15:58

    Russia is withdrawing a motorised infantry battalion from a region near Ukraine's eastern border, the Russian Defence Ministry was quoted as saying by state news agencies today.

    The United States says progress on resolving the East-West stand-off over Ukraine depends on Russia pulling back troops massed on the border. It was not clear whether other troops would pull back or had already withdrawn.

    The Defence Ministry said it was pulling forces out of the Rostov region near Russia's border with Ukraine after month-long military exercises.

    "The battalion ... has completed its field exercises at the Kadamovsky training grounds in the Rostov region and is beginning its march to its permanent base in the Samara region," the ministry was quoted as saying.

    A battalion numbers between 300 and 1,200 troops.

  • 16:13

    Russia have announced plans to nearly double retirement pensions paid to the elderly on the Crimean peninsula, raising them to the average levels paid in Russia.

    President Vladimir Putin signed a decree raising pensions and another increasing salaries for public sector workers like teachers and doctors, according to a statement posted on the Kremlin’s website today.

    Officials also announced a number of new investment plans and tax breaks for Crimea. The New York Times has the story.

  • 16:27

    Oh dear.

    A guest at the society wedding of Lucy Meade and Charlie Budgett in Gloucestershire on Saturday apparently turned up wearing the same outfit as Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton.

    I would have done a runner myself.

  • 16:38
    Remember the voting for whether there will be a public ballot for a directly-elected Dublin mayor is taking place today. The main stumbling block was said to be Fingal County Council and councillors are currently debating the matter.
  • 16:45
  • 16:49
    Local media in France is reporting that French President Francois Hollande is set to name centrist Interior Minister Manuel Valls as his prime minister later today, replacing Jean-Marc Ayrault a day after ruling Socialists lost local elections.
  • 16:55

    Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore held talks with Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers today.

    Speaking after the meeting, Mr Gilmore said: “The Secretary of State and I discussed recent political developments in Northern Ireland, including the resumed political talks among party leaders on the Haass Proposals, the ongoing impact of legacy issues on the day-today politics of Northern Ireland and the role of the two Governments in supporting progress in dealing with the past.

    “We are agreed that Northern Ireland urgently requires a new way forward on dealing with the past that can command public confidence. We are agreed also that the early successful conclusion of the political talks represents the best opportunity to make progress across all three important areas of parades, flag and identity issues and dealing with the past.

    “Both governments will actively support the talks in the interests of an early agreement being reached. Maintaining the status quo in relation to these issues is not a feasible or satisfactory option for any constituency.”

  • 16:57
  • 17:01

    A pipe bomb has been discovered on a golf course in Northern Ireland.

    The device, found near the Irish border in Strabane, Co Tyrone, has been made safe and police believe the intention was to attack officers after drawing them into the area.

    Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) chief inspector Andy Lemon said it could have caused death or serious injury.

    He said: “This device comprised nuts and bolts packed with explosives into a pipe. While police may have been the intended target, golfers, ground staff or members of the community passing by could have been killed or maimed.”

    The security operation followed information received by police that a device had been left in the Ballycolman Road area.

    The senior officer added: “This bears the hallmarks of an attempt to draw police into the area. But this was an attack on the community as much as on the police.

    “I believe that the vast majority of people in Strabane do not want this type of incident and I would call on them to give us their assistance in bringing those behind it to justice.”

  • 17:03
    That's where we will leave it for today on the Daily Wire. We will be back up and running tomorrow at 9am. Thanks for joining me and have a nice evening.