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News From Ireland

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern apologized to family of man shot by police

By Frank Shouldice, Contributor
October / November 2006

Taxi drivers in Ireland are targeting the Ryder Cup in their efforts to secure a fare rate hike from regulator Ger Deering. The three main taxi unions voted in favor of going on strike during the international golf tournament which will take place from September 22-24. As the venue in Straffan, Co. Kildare is not accessible by public transport, the cabbies feel they can use it as a pressure point in negotiations. The unions are already in dispute with the regulator over changes to the fare structure proposed to come into effect in September. They have already held two one-day stoppages and now see the prestigious Ryder Cup as part of their strategy. . . .

DONEGAL TD Niall Blaney finally returned to the fold of the Fianna Fáil party after his family spent 35 years estranged from the organization. His uncle Neil Blaney had been expelled from Fianna Fáil in 1971 following a crisis in which Blaney was embroiled in an effort to provide arms to embattled nationalists in Northern Ireland. Despite the expulsion, he continued to run his seat as an Independent Fianna Fáil deputy until his death in 1996. His brother Harry Blaney then assumed the seat before passing it on to son Niall. Taoiseach (Irish prime minister) Bertie Ahern made strenuous efforts to end the 35-year estrangement, and with Fianna Fáil facing a general election it is assumed that the leadership wanted to secure its hold in Donegal northeast. . . .

OVER 100,000 Polish nationals are now living and working in Ireland. The other EU accession states make up a smaller number, although there are significant numbers of economic migrants from Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Most arrivals are aged between 18 and 50 and although many have found employment, some have been hampered by poverty and language difficulties. The Polish embassy in Dublin estimates that over 600 Poles are now depending on charity institutions for assistance. The Irish government introduced legislation in May 2004 to prevent non-nationals from coming to Ireland to avail of social welfare benefits. The recent influx has strained the resources of charity agencies that provide food and shelter. “Because there is no safety net for them they are expected to be self-sufficient from the moment they arrive,” said Kieran Stenson of Focus Ireland. “The vast majority are [self-sufficient] but those who aren’t are forced into homelessness.” . . .

STRINGFELLOWS lapdancing club closed its doors after trading for just six months in Dublin. The club, which drew local opposition from residents in the Parnell Street area of the north inner city, was an Irish branch of the London-based operation run by Peter Stringfellow. Protests against the venture had continued through its short life. Although protestors celebrated the club’s demise there is no shortage of lapdancing clubs around the city in what appears to be a very lucrative business. . . .

TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern made a public apology on behalf of the state to the family of John Carty, the 27-year-old Longford man who was shot by gardai at the end of a 25-hour siege in the town of Abbeylara. The tragedy occurred six years ago, but an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident – Carty was armed when fatally shot – was highly critical of garda handling of a very tense situation. In a month when the garda force was castigated by the Morris Tribunal, a report compiled by Justice Barr stated that Carty, who suffered from bipolar depression, should have been more sensitively approached by negotiators. The report described the operation at Abbeylara fraught by “gross negligence and incompetence” which led to Carty being shot by officers from the Emergency Response Unit.

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