News Blog

Childcare conditions, the new EU economic plan - and an earthquake in the Irish Sea

Dan Griffin Wed, May 29
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  • 09:22
    Good morning,

    The fallout from last night’s RTÉ investigation into crèche conditions in Ireland is set to dominate today’s’ news agenda as it emerges childcare facilities in some parts of the country have not been inspected by authorities for up to four years, despite hundreds of complaints from parents.

    The European Commission is set to give a clear signal that it is moving away from a crisis response based on austerity when it issues a broad and long-awaited set of recommendations later to most member states on how they should manage their economies.

    And an earthquake in the Irish Sea has been felt in Wales over an area of 140km by people who reported “intense shaking”.
  • 09:23
    I’m Dan Griffin and I’ll be pushing the buttons on the Irish Times live news blog until 5.00pm this evening.
  • 09:24
    Last night’s RTÉ investigation into crèches highlighted mistreatment of young children in three childcare facilities and raised concerns about the quality of inspection regimes nationwide. Minister for Children and Youth Affairs said the programme was “dreadful to watch” and raised issues which were “deeply distressing and absolutely unacceptable”.

    She said she felt she witnessed “the emotional abuse of children” on the programme last night, and added that the childcare inspection regime needed to be strengthened and required a greater amount of follow-up inspections.
  • 09:25
    The European Commission will further shift the EU’s policy focus from austerity to structural reforms to revive growth when it presents economic recommendations for each member state today.

    In its annual assessment as guardian of the EU’s budget rules, the Commission will say that while fiscal consolidation should continue, its pace can be slower now that a degree of investor confidence in the euro has been restored.
  • 09:28
    More than 100 reports from people who felt an earthquake in Wales have been received by the British Geological Survey (BGS).

    The BGS said the majority came from within a 100km radius of the epicentre in the Irish Sea. “This was a larger than average earthquake," said the BGS.

    “People have reported hearing an initial loud banging, followed by rumbling, and intense shaking."
  • 09:30
    Meanwhile, Pat Shortt has been talking to Miriam O’Callaghan this morning about his West End role in Martin McDonagh’s The Cripple of Inismaan.
    He co-stars with Daniel Harry Potter Radcliffe who, apparently, learnt the lyrics to The Breakfast Roll Song during the course of his research.
    Shortt said London is now thronged with Irish actors, much like it was with Irish builders back in the 60s and 70s.
    He also complained he can't get any decent sausages there.
  • 09:37
    Staying with London, the Irish soccer team will take on England in Wembley this evening in the first friendly match between the sides in 18 years. The last time they met in congenial circumstances was at Landsdowne Road in 1995, when the visiting supporters began early refurbishment work on what would become the Aviva Stadium. Frank McNally remembers.
  • 09:54
    Those who could bear to sit through the sustained  tantrums,  schreeching and crying that made up last night's Vincent Browne show on TV3 might be relieved that the Alan Shatter garda saga looks to be drawing its final breath. Independent TD Mattie McGrath, Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan and Browne all shouted across one another about the ins and outs of the garda discretion matter but, after yesterday's confidence vote, it seems this surreal interlude is over.
  • 09:58
    And here's Emmet Malone with a preview of tonight's clash at Wembley: Ireland have the form but England have the star quality.
  • 10:00
  • 10:17
    Now, the papers:

    The Irish Times leads with Pre-schools left uninspected for up to four years.

    The Independent and the Examiner both cover Alan Shatter's comments in the Dáil yesterday. The Examiner also finds front page space for that kettle that looks like Hitler.

    The Irish Daily Mail asks, 'Why does the HSE let these creches stay open at all?'

    Alive! Baby flushed down the loo, shouts the Sun.

    The Irish Daily Star leads with developments in the Dean Fitzpatrick case.

    As does the Herald.

    And the the Mirror.
  • 10:20
  • 10:29
    Moving away from Ireland for a while.

    Russia has voiced loud criticism at the European Union decision no to renew an arms embargo against the both the regime in Damascus and forces trying to topple it, writes Michael Jansen

    Details also emerged of the scale of a massacre of some 300 peopole earlier this month by armed forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
  • 10:40
    Dan Keenan has an interesting piece in today's paper about how Fermanagh is being spruced up before the arrival of the G8 visitors in a few weeks' time.

    Ramshackle buildings have been painted over to appear as thriving businesses, while other areas are getting a quick tidy and a blast of a power-hose.

    But, say locals, the makeover only hides a deeper malaise which US president Barack Obama, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and French president Francois Hollande and others will not get to see. 

    Elsewhere in Northern Ireland, the hexagonal basalt columns of the Giant's Causeway are due to be screwed back into place today having been removed to the Netherlands for cleaning last week.
  • 10:55
    The European Week Against Cancer conference has added its voice to the growing number of groups campaigning for a ban on alcohol advertising and sponsorship, saying Irish drinkers "consume 700 times the recommended amount of alcohol needed to prevent cancer".

    "Alcohol, a known carcinogenic or cancer causing agent, causes one in 10 cancers in men and one in 33 cancers in women – a total of 900 new cancer cases each year in Ireland," according to a statement from the conference.   
     It goes on to say: "From a public health perspective, the Irish government should legislate against alcohol advertising and sponsorship as has been the case for tobacco."

    So it's been a bad week for guilty indulgence, as Ireland gets ready to become the second country in the world to introduce plain packaging of cigarettes. Well plain in a sense, they will carry horrific images of the consequences of smoking.

    The Minister for Health James Reilly expects the tobacco industry to challenge the plans in the courts.
  • 11:03
    Look at the foot. Photo: Niall Carson, PA
    Look at the foot. Photo: Niall Carson, PA
  • 11:04
  • 11:19

    Just before the 2005 Leaving Certificate biology exam, someone I knew stuffed the course textbook down the back of a radiator in the boys' toilet. During the test he excused himself from the exam hall, had a look over the chapter on cell metabolism, I think it was, and returned to finish the paper. Luckily for him that transgression didn't make the national papers, unluckily for Trinity student Tom Lenihan...

  • 11:25
    Are you more likely to buy a product if it's being held by a woman in a bikini?

    "If the Irish PR industry's enduring love affair with photoshoots featuring models in bikinis is a joke, then I don't get it," writes Jennifer O'Connell today.  

    "Whenever I see a faintly blue-skinned model in a bikini shivering on Stephen’s Green, I picture the PR agency hoisting a huge, neon sign over their product which says: 'We can’t think of any decent reason why you’d want to spend your money on this, but have a look at it anyway.'"
  • 11:33
  • 11:35
    A newspaper editor has been convicted of outrage to public and religious morality for publishing photographs of the body of Michaela McAreavey, reports the BBC.
  • 11:50
    The Times of London today reports that Japanese dogs are being pampered with snacks made from endangered whales.

    North Atlantic fin whales caught by icelandic hunters are being turned into dog treats by Michinoku Farm, a pet-food manufacturer based just outside Tokyo.

    The meat is "luxuriously lean" according to the producer's website and has "crispy texture".
  • 11:51
    John You need to be pushing that Dunphy appearance on Second Captains, brilliant stuff.
  • 11:52
  • 11:55
    Is internet English debasing the language? Not IMHO, writes Steve Poole over at the Guardian.
  • 12:02
    There has been strong reaction in the Dáil to the RTÉ creche exposé, writes Michael O'Regan.

    Legislation which would establish a child and family support agency is to come before the Cabinet within the next four to five weeks, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

    He said the Government would co-operate with Opposition parties to ensure the Bill was put through the Oireachtas.

    “I think there is an opportunity here that the image, brand and culture, around for a very long time, can be smashed by the setting up of the new child and family support agency,’’ he added.

  • 12:13

    Also in the London Times today is a fashion spread on "the biker", featuring no less than 13 pictures of celebrities wearing little black leather jackets. "A biker," the headline reads, "the little black jacket everyone should own". But in my experience fashion writers are always on about "the one type of thing everyone should own," suits, ties, dresses, plimsolls, etc. I may not be entierly sure what I'm on about here. 

  • 12:13

  • 12:15
    As many as 90 Afghan nationals are being detained in a holding facility at Camp Bastion, the main British military base in the country, the British Defence Secretary admitted today.
  • 12:22
    Brace yourselves:

  • 12:46
    Today, according to the Irish Traditional Italian Chippers Association, is National Fish and Chips Day, "an annual phenomenon reflecting the 127 year old tradition of fish and chips".

    The ITICA website says this year "you could win two trips to the European Championships". Presumably that's the European Fish and Chips Championships, if that, indeed, is even a thing.
  • 12:54
    Hull City are the new Wolves, according to Emmet Malone, and Stephen Quinn’s return to the international squad this week brings to four the number of Steve Bruce’s promotion winning side that will be involved, to one extent or another, in this evening’s game at Wembley.
  • 12:56
  • 13:00
  • 13:05
    Taoiseach Enda Kenny has rejected a plea to change the law to allow the family of a terminally ill woman to end her life, RTÉ reports.
  • 13:11
    Olivia Kelly has more reaction to last night's childcare investigation, including new statements from some of the creches featured on the programme.
  • 13:15
  • 13:20
    The latest Private (swivel) Eye
    The latest Private (swivel) Eye
  • 13:34
    The Chinese baby that was rescued from a sewage pipe fell in accidentally, the baby's mother has said.

    The BBC is reporting that the mother told police she unexpectedly gave birth on the toilet and the baby slipped into the sewer.
  • 13:37
  • 13:50
    Tom Curran, partner of terminally ill multiple sclerosis sufferer Marie Fleming attended the Dáil today, as the couple continue their fight for her right to die after being refused by the courts.

    More here on the Taoiseach's comments today that the Government will not legislate for assisted suicide.
  • 14:02
    The winning numbers for tonight's midweek lotto jackpot will be: 
    15, 06, 25, 30, 37, and 46 

    The bonus number will be 38
  • 14:02
    Apple boss Tim Cook has denied the company has a “special tax deal” with the Irish Government.

    Mr Cook also rejected accusations the iPhone maker was engaged in “tax gimmicks” to avoid paying tax on sales of its products outside of North America.

    “We have no special deal with the Irish Government that gives us a 2 per cent flat tax rate,” he said in an interview at a technology conference in California.
  • 14:05
    A postmortem on the body of murdered British soldier, Drummer Lee Rigby, has established the cause of death was “multiple incised wounds”, Scotland Yard said today.
  • 14:06
  • 14:06
  • 14:26
    Facebook has bowed to pressure and said it will review how it deals with "controversial, harmful and hateful" content, adding that it needs "to do better" in the area.

    The company will begin rolling out changes immediately after it became "clear that our systems to identify and remove hate speech have failed to work as effectively as we would like", Marne Levine, Facebook's vice president of global public policy, said.

    Emma Barnett, from the Telegraph, explains how a campaign led by Laura Bates of the Everyday Sexism Project, writer Soraya Chemaly, and Women, Action & the Media founder Jaclyn Friedman made the social networking site change its mind about content moderation.
  • 14:45
    Work related to Anglo Irish Bank investigation is likely to be a “significant and continuing” feature of the work of the Director of Corporate Enforcement, the director said.

    Publishing his annual report for 2012 today, Ian Drennan, said his office’s work on the Anglo investigation was “substantively complete

    Significant and continuing
  • 14:59
    Russian scientists have discovered a fully-grown female mammoth, with blood still in it, trapped in ice in Siberia. As you'll see from the photo in this story, it looks a bit like a squashed elephant and is also somewhat reminiscent of all those leathery bogmen they keep in the National Museum.

    Researchers say she was pushing 60 when she died. Now they'll probably clone her, although they haven't said that.
  • 15:09
  • 15:26
  • 15:27

    And here is a re-enactment of 1993 cult favourite Falling Down, featuring a disgruntled goat in the Michael Douglas role.

    The man in the horizontal stripes at 1:06 is brave enough to kick its bell. This only makes it angrier. 

  • 15:31

    A “flashmob” of mountaineers has gathered to mark the 60th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary and and Tenzing Norgay’s historic ascent of Mount Everest.

    Former and current celebrated mountaineers joined the sons of the first men to reach the summit at the signing of a newly-released book on the expedition.


  • 15:44
    The Government said today that the State's childcare inspection regime needs to be strengthened in the wake of last night's RTÉ Prime Time programme, which highlighted the apparent mistreatment of children at three crèches.

    A grainy screen grab with subtitles, Sir? Yes please.
  • 15:46
  • 15:57
    Una Mullally's blog entry today looks at Daithí Ó Dronaí, the young Irish fiddle prodigy whose 'Chameleon Life' could be this year's song of the summer.
  • 16:08
  • 16:21
    Keep the space bar pressed down and you get a quantitative easing helicopter, via the Wall Street Journal. "Beware the expanding inflation fish in the top right hand corner".
  • 16:22
  • 16:31
    The British and Irish Lions pouring water on their faces, training in Hong Kong ahead of their tour in Australia. Click here for our gallery.
  • 16:46
    It’s being billed as France’s “marriage of the century”. The two grooms will wear suits, the vows will be simple and refer to two “spouses” but the normal wedding room at Montpellier town hall won’t be big enough for the 200 friends and family, 300 guests from activist associations, 130 journalists from across the world and one government minister present so it will decamp to a larger function hall.

    At 5.30pm in the southern French city of Montpellier, which describes itself as France’s most gay-friendly place, after months of divisive national wrangling, numerous street demonstrations, 172 hours of heated parliamentary debate, and a warning of a 30 per cent rise in homophobic acts, Vincent Autin and Bruno Boileau will become the first same-sex couple to marry in France.
  • 16:59
    Well that's it for today. We'll sign off with this photo of show gardens on display at this year’s Bloom, the annual gardening festival, which starts tomorrow and runs until Monday.
  • 16:59
    Bloom in Phoenix Park. Photograph: Bryan O'Brien/IRISH TIMES
    Bloom in Phoenix Park. Photograph: Bryan O'Brien/IRISH TIMES