Couple who defrauded State of more than €44,000 given suspended jail sentences
Martin Stokes, 26, and his 25-year-old wife Margaret, who were arrested on EU warrants, yesterday admitted dozens of benefit fraud charges at Donegal Circuit Court.
Judge John Aylmer was told the fraudulent claims were made in Ballybofey and Letterkenny.
Martin Stokes admitted 39 charges between 2007 and 2010 and his wife pleaded guilty to 20 offences spread over two years, after she moved from England to marry him in 2008.
The investigation into their offences was led by Det. Paul Lynch and Social Welfare Inspector Kathleen Stewart.
Most of the offences were committed when the couple shared at an address at Convoy before moving to their latest address at Lagan Court, Manorcunningham.
Judge Aylmer said he regarded the offences as “a very serious fraud” on the State in which Margaret Stokes was pressured into her crimes because her husband was feeding a drugs habit.
When their marriage faced breakdown Martin Stokes “took the necessary steps to wean himself off drugs.”
The court heard that the couple were repaying a small amount per week off their debt to the State and money put up by their family, including €20,000 cash for Martin Stokes’ bail, was available to repay most of the rest.
The judge said a total of €9,900 was outstanding. He ruled that this be repaid in eight quarterly sessions over two years.
He imposed a jail term of three years, suspended for three years, on Martin Stokes.
Margaret Stokes was given 18 months, suspended for 18 months.
The abolition of roaming charges in border areas of the EU has been postponed until June 2017
This announcement will come as big blow to people in areas like Donegal who are regularly hit by the higher charges, sometimes incurred without realising it.
The issue has also been topical in the North. Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has expressed frustration as the decision. She said: "Roaming charges are a thorn in the side of the thousands of individuals living along the border corridor and who commute across the border to work.
"Whilst we welcome the commitment that the charges will be removed eventually, it is regrettable that they will continue until June 2017.
"For those commuting regularly across the border, this results in a further penalty of an increased phone bill. It is also places a barrier for start-ups and cross border co-operation."
The twin sister of Mary Boyle who went missing in 1977 will visit Westminster Tuesday next for a series of meetings let by MP Jeffrey Donaldson to address Garda failure and cross-border crime.
A number of families have been invited to London to discuss the issues.
It’s believed Ann Doherty will also reiterate her claim to know the identity of Mary Boyles alleged killer during this meeting.
Mary Boyle went missing from her grandparents farm at Cashelard near Ballyshannon on the 18th of March 1977.
Ninety four community organisations and childcare providers across County Donegal shared in more than €23.7 million in grants administered by Pobal on behalf of Government, the EU and other bodies according to a new report.
Pobal’s annual report launched this week by Minister Anne Phelan TD outlines how total funding of nearly 340 million euro was allocated on projects across the country.
The funding provided additional supports to enhance social inclusion and equality for those individuals, groups and communities most marginalised.
In Donegal, the report shows that over €8 million was spent on the Rural Social Scheme which enables low income farmers and fishing families to engage in part-time work; more than €7.7 million was allocated to the county under the Tús programme; an initiative which provides long term unemployed with a 12 month work placement while Donegal workers were paid almost €3 million in wages under the Community Service Programme.
The HSE paid 2.4 million euro to employ temporary staff at Letterkenny General Hospital in the first six months of this year, the highest bill in the country.
Nationally, the bill is 14 million euro across the 18 hospitals to the end of July.
A shortage of nurses and trying to keep on medical staff have been cited as the main causes for the high bill for Letterkenny General Hospital.
Gardai have issued a crime alert warning for the Ballyare / Ramelton area.
A white transit van has been reported to be acting suspiciously in the area earlier this afternoon.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Milford Garda Station on 07491 53048.
New figures from the Road Safety Authority show more than 500 disqualified drivers were involved in collisions causing serious injury or death in recent years.
Data from between January 2013 and March of this year in today’s Irish Times, shows there were 521 such incidents.
However the RSA says new measures giving Gardai powers to arrest dangerous drivers on the spot are helping to make roads safer.
The numbers come just days after it was revealed that just 40 percent of drink driving cases in the District Courts resulted in convictions nationally, with that figure falling to 35% in Donegal.
The Minister for Sport has announced around 41 million euro to sports clubs and facilities across Ireland.
A total allocation of 1.065 Million euro has been approved for Sporting Organisations in County Donegal.
The big winners include Carndonagh GAA club, allocated E120,000, Keadue Rover E100,000 Bonagee FC E90,000 and St Eunana GAA club – E80,000. The full list is printed below.
Minister for Sport Michael Ring says the funding will be spread evenly across the country.
A Donegal County Councillor is expressing fears that cancer services at Letterkenny General Hospital could be further diminished if a private hospital offering cancer services is built in the area. Councillor Dessie Shiels says that with the economy in recovery mode, a private hospital which was proposed for Donegal during the Boom could be back on the agenda. He says with people travelling elsewhere for treatment, the main focus should be retaining and enhancing services within Letterkenny General Hospital for all cancer patients across Donegal.