Articles in Category: National Interest

Cyclist lucky to escape neck-high barbed wire ‘booby trap’ on Co Wicklow trail

A mountain bike rider had a fortunate escape from what he describes as a barbed wire “booby trap” on a trail in Co Wicklow.

The cyclist, who wishes to remain anonymous, was taking on the trail at Downs Hill, Willow Grove, near Delganey when he came across barbed wire stretched between two trees at neck height earlier this month.

Yesterday he told Stickybottle.com - a website dedicated to Irish cyclist enthusiasts - that while the track is not an official mountain bike trail, it is known locally to be used by cyclists.

A close up of the barbed wire at the scene in Downs Hill. Picture: Stickybottle.com

Posting on his social media account the cyclist said he was “absolutely raging” over the incident.

“Absolutely raging at some evil bastard who decided to booby trap some local mountain bike trails on Downs Hill,” the cyclist said in the post.

The cyclist shows the barbed wire at Downs Hill, Co Wicklow. Picture: Stickybottle.com

“It started with a few sticks etc and has escalated to a point where I narrowly missed barbed wire strung across the track at neck height at a jump.”

A picture of another booby trap on the trail. Picture: Stickybottle.com

Gardaí have said they are yet to receive a report on this incident, however they have asked the public to contact them if they come across acts of this type.

* Pictures courtesy of Stickybottle.com

 

 

Just four of 1,420 complaints over water are upheld

By Paul Melia

Just four of 1,420 complaints made to the regulator about water services have been upheld, new figures show.

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The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) has revealed that a total of 31 complaints about Irish Water made in 2014 and 2015 warranted further investigation, and that of the 16 complaints processed to date, just four had merit and were upheld.

The regulator is responsible for overseeing delivery of water services, and said that a total of 1,420 complaints - which it calls 'queries' - have been made to date.

Of these, 790 were made in 2014 and 630 in 2015.

But the vast bulk were from the public complaining about the imposition of water charges, disagreements about how the charges were structured, and general inquiries.

However, a small number of cases - 31 from the total of 1,420, or just over 2pc - were classed by the CER as being "complex complaints" which required investigation.

"An example of a complex complaint would be that a customer would have claimed that damage had been done to their property during an installation of a water meter and the CER would have investigated and resolved this claim," it said.

Last year, the regulator investigated 389 complex complaints but just 16 (4pc) related to Irish Water - the remainder involved the energy sector.

Most of the water complaints (60pc) involved meter issues, such as a lack of notice surrounding meter installation or damage caused while the meters were being fitted.

Other areas for complex complaints included water and pressure flow, billing and account issues and connections.

"In terms of complaint resolution, 25pc of the 16 complex complaints closed during 2015 were upheld in favour of the customer while 50pc were not upheld," the regulator said.

They added that the remainder could not be investigated because the complainants were not registered or were not Irish Water customers.

The regulator said it processes around 5,500 queries every year from across the sectors under its remit in safety, electricity, natural gas and water.

All suppliers have their own customer complaints processes that customers need to engage with as the first point of contact.

Killer dragged from house fire as shotgun rounds found in bag

A convicted killer was dragged from a house fire in Kildare and promptly arrested in relation to a discovery of ammunition which may have been linked to an earlier shooting in Meath. By Ken Foy and Conor Feehan

Stephen Penrose (34), who has just completed a jail term for manslaughter, was being questioned at Leixlip Garda Station last night after a night of mayhem which began in Dunboyne, Co Meath at the weekend.

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Gardaí are investigating if Penrose was the gunman responsible for an attack at 11.30pm on Sunday in which two homes in the Woodview Heights estate, Dunboyne, were shot at.

Gardaí, who were given details of a car that was seen fleeing the scene, later observed this car as they responded to a house fire in Clonuff, Broadford, Co Kildare, at 12.45am yesterday.

Penrose and a female associate of his suffered smoke inhalation in the fire.

After spotting the car that was allegedly used in the earlier gun attack, officers searched a bag which Penrose had in his possession which contained a number of rounds of ammunition. Penrose and the woman were brought to hospital. However after being discharged they were immediately arrested.

Top IRA man shot dead in crowded city pub

A close associate of one of the Regency Hotel gunmen was blasted to death in a north inner-city pub last night. Ken Foy and Alan O'Keeffe

A close associate of one of the Regency Hotel gunmen was blasted to death in a north inner-city pub last night.

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Distressed members of the public gather at the scene of the shooting at the Sunset Hous, inset, the flat capped gunman at the Regency Hotel

A lone hitman entered the Sunset House on Summerhill Parade at 9.15pm and shot the 34-year-old three times, at least once in head. He was pronounced dead at the scene

The victim, named locally as Michael ‘Mickey’ Barr, was a dissident republican who may have been supplying weapons to the Hutch mob, sources said last night.

It’s understood he was an associate of the shooter at the Regency Hotel in February, who has been nicknamed ‘Flat Cap’.

Barr, who was originally from Tyrone, had been living on Dublin’s northside and was a major target for the Special Detective Unit.

Sources said that Barr’s house was raided by gardai last week.

Detectives are now probing whether the shooting is linked to the bitter gangland war between the Hutch mob and the Kinahan cartel.

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Members of the Gardai beside the scene of a shooting at the Sunset House Pub in Ballybough, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Barr was due to be sentenced on Thursday at the Special Criminal Court for handling stolen property.

Originally from Tyrone, Barr had reportedly began to work as a bar manager at the Sunset House pub in the last few months.

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Members of the Gardai beside the scene of a shooting at the Sunset House Pub in Ballybough, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Gardai are investigating reports that Ross Hutch – a nephew of Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch – was also drinking in the bar last night, but sources said the shooting was not believed to be a case of mistaken identity. Last night, there were scenes of distress as crowds milled around outside the garda cordon.

One woman was wailing as she crossed the road: “He’s gone, he’s gone.”

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Members of the Gardai beside the scene of a shooting at the Sunset House Pub in Ballybough, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Local sources said that there had been a threat against the man’s life in recent months.

A 42-year-old woman who lives close to the murder scene told the Herald local people were terrified.

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Members of the Gardai beside the scene of a shooting at the Sunset House Pub in Ballybough, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

“People are scared for their lives. These killings are getting closer and things are getting worse and worse,” she said.

“People are very afraid in this area now. Something has to be done.”

A young woman from the area shook her head and said: “It’s crazy, just crazy, crazy.”

Earlier this month Barr pleaded guilty at the Special Criminal Court to handling stolen electrical equipment.

Barr, of Premier Square in Finglas, admitted before the three-judge, non-jury court to the handling of electronic equipment at Finnstown House Hotel, Newcastle Road, Lucan, Co Dublin on July 18, 2014.

In November 2014, when charged with the offence, Barr was also charged with membership of the IRA, also on July 18, 2014.

However, after he pleaded guilty to the handling of stolen goods, the State dropped the IRA membership charge.

Local Independent Cllr Nial Ring, standing at the cordon around the crime scene, last night told the Herald that the shooting was “devastating”.

“There’s a lot of shock in the area. This comes on top of two other killings in recent weeks. Eddie Hutch Snr was shot, an innocent victim, at the other end of this road down in Ballybough and another innocent victim down around Sheriff Street.

“The whole area is in shock and people are wondering just what is going to happen next? And can they go out and have a drink and watch a football match?

“It’s devastating. I know my own mam is living nearby and at 81-years of age she is almost afraid to leave the house.

“There is just an air of fear around the whole area, and something has to be done about it.”

“Apparently, a guy came into the bar and there were three shots. There was a special needs chap in the place having a pint and he’s in a terrible state. The shock of it,” said Cllr Ring.

“And a lot of young mothers were there and there was a big match on the television and it was nearly over when this happened.

“It’s unacceptable what has happened in this area.”

“Obviously, we’re praying for Mick. He was a nice guy,” he added.

“He was from Tyrone and he lived locally. He was a barman in The Sunset House – he was just a nice guy doing his job.

“He had been attracting new customers and was doing up the place. Yesterday, we had a huge celebration around here for the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising. He would have been part of that.

“He lived locally and had a girlfriend living locally. We’re just devastated.”

Temporary CCTV installed just days ago may have captured the shooters’ escape, according to North Dublin TD Noel Rock (FG).

“The car, which was dumped at the foot of Walsh Road, yards from my home, is in an area which is covered by temporary CCTV erected in recent days by coincidence,” he said.

Mr Barr was the sixth victim of the Hutch/Kinahan feud – which appears to show no signs of stopping soon. The first person to die was Gary Hutch (34), who was shot at a Spanish apartment complex in September.

A revenge attack for Hutch’s murder then took place in February of this year, when a hit-squad stormed the Regency Hotel and David Byrne (33) was killed. Daniel Kinahan was the chief target of the shooting, but he managed to escape.

Two masked gunmen, armed with AK-47s entered the reception and opened fire while a shooter in drag and another man in a flat cap burst in through the rear of the building.

Three days later Eddie Hutch Snr (58) was shot dead at his Ballybough home.

Eddie is a father of Ross Hutch and a brother of Gerry Hutch.

In another fatal shooting believed to be ordered by the Kinahan Cartel, a former business associate of Gerry Hutch was killed at his Meath home.

Noel ‘Kingsize’ Duggan was shot dead as he sat in a car outside his home on March 24.

Innocent father Martin O’Rourke (24) was gunned down on Sheriff Street in Dublin city centre in a case of mistaken identity on April 14.

 

'Suicide pact' blamed after couple found 'black and rotten' in rural house

The decomposing bodies of a fraudster grandmother and her innocent partner were found "black and rotten" by a group of Travellers, who broke into a house in rural Limerick and discovered the two corpses writes David Raleigh.

Gory details of the discovery of the bodies of Julia Holmes (aged 63), and father-of-two Thomas Ruttle (aged 53), last year, were heard at their inquest today.

Medical evidence from a pathological report into the couple's deaths could not confirm how they died, however Coroner Antoinette Simon, said she accepted all of the evidence pointed to a "suicide pact".

Holmes, from Tyrone, was wanted by the FBI and the PSNI for a series of property frauds.

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Julia Holmes 

She had served time in jail in Texas for a $500,000 fraud.

Holmes, who was married to two other men when she tried to marry Mr Ruttle, had falsely claimed she had cancer.

She ran up debts of €70,000 with builders in West Limerick who had performed improvement works at the Ruttle home.

Mr Ruttle had no involvement in any of Holmes crimes.

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Julia Holmes and Thomas Ruttle

The Coroner said she was satisfied Holmes and Mr Ruttle both died of "an asphyxia type death due to carbon monoxide poisoning".

The deadly fumes were caused by burnt charcoals in three buckets that were set alight on top of a steel plate in the bedroom, the court heard.

Gardai said the chimney was blocked with aluminium foil, and, the only window in the bedroom was also locked.

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A towel had also been placed at the only entrance to the bedroom, to block any fumes from escaping, the court heard.

"The bedroom was deliberately staged to induce carbon monoxide poisoning," Ms Simon said.

No third party was involved and there was no sign of trauma to the bodies.

Sergeant Gearoid Thompson, gave testimony that "members of the Harty family", a Traveller clan from Askeaton, told him they had been "looking for scrap metal" at the Ruttle farmhouse but instead they "found two dead bodies".

Sgt Thompson said Pa Harty told him the bodies were "black and rotten".

When Sgt Thompson went to the house he said he noticed a strong "smell of dead bodies".

He found the bodies lying next to each other on a double bed.

State Pathologist, Professor Marie Cassidy noted Mr Ruttle was "lying on his back with his right leg hanging over the bed".

She said his leg was "resting" on a .22 rifle, which was loaded with two cartridges.

The rifle had not been fired, nor had another shotgun -also found in the bedroom - the court heard.

Prof Cassidy noted "mould" on Mr Ruttle's beard, face and hands.

She also noted the presence of "maggots" around both bodies.

Julia Holmes, whose family did not attend the inquest, was located "face down" on the bed and "dressed in pyjamas".

Mr Ruttle's sister, Jane Gardner, wept as she listened to the last moments of her beloved brother's life.

Her husband John Gardener thanked the jury and the Gardaí.

The Coroner said it was "the most tragic of circumstances and saddening of situations".

Suicide notes left at the house were not read out.

Mr Ruttle's children, Ian (aged 18) and Kelvin (aged 16), who are studying for their Junior and Leaving Certificates, shed tears as they listened to the shocking evidence.

They were accompanied by their mother Lian, and grandparents Ted, and Pauline Knight.

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Pauline and Ted Knight

In a heartbreaking moment during the inquest, Mr Ruttle's ex partner Lian Knight asked the coroner if it was possible to determine who had died first.

She politely nodded as Prof Cassidy told her it was, "impossible to say".

Speaking afterwards, Ted Knight described the events as "horrific" and said Holmes had been a "vile person".

Families on housing estate left in terror by rats 'the size of dogs'

Residents of a Dublin housing estate have expressed concern for their health and safety as rats "the size of Chihuahuas" continue to swarm outside their homes and back gardens. By Laura Larkin

It comes as Cork residents were warned to be wary of rodents after an elderly man was bitten by a rat while using the toilet.

Locals in Kilcronan Court estate in Clondalkin say the estate has been overrun with large rats for nearly a month.

Residents are growing increasingly frustrated at the slow response to the problem. The estate is managed by the housing agency Cooperative Housing Ireland.

Local woman Marianne Maughan said she had seen a rodent the "size of a Chihuahua dog" in the estate during the day.

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"One of the residents has caught 25 of them in her garden and there was up to 60 swarming around a bin near some apartments recently," she said.

Families in the estate are concerned about the health and safety of their children due to the ongoing problem.

"We have kids out on the street playing and we are terrified that they will be bitten and contract a disease," Ms Maughan said.

Earlier this year, there were reports rubbish had accumulated at a childcare facility on the estate. However, the housing agency has now removed this.

Ms Maughan said that she did not think that was the source of the problem but that it had just added to it.

Angry residents spoke with the 98fm 'Dublin Talks' show to highlight their concern yesterday.

A spokesman for Cooperative Housing Ireland said that it had contacted the local authority and HSE in relation to the rats and placed mechanical traps in the area.

"As a result of the escalation of the issue, independent contractors have been appointed to advise on the best course of action. We will carry out whatever actions are suggested," he said.

The agency has also asked for help from locals to tackle the issue of ongoing waste in the area.

"Illegal dumping is a serious and ongoing issue in the local area that exacerbates the problem. The co-operation of the local community in identifying those responsible for dumping would assist in managing this challenge," he said.

Meanwhile, in Cork an elderly man was bitten as he used a toilet and had to be rushed to hospital, according to a councillor.

"I would advise homeowners to keep their toilet seats down when not in use, and to watch their posteriors," Cllr Noel Collins said.

He asked the council to consider flushing rat poison through the sewerage system to tackle the problem.

 

Irish woman killed by cow in England while out for walk with her family

Family have shared their story to prevent other families going through such a traumatic experience

Marian Clode was born and raised in the Rosemount area of Derry City before moving to the Greater Manchester area in England a number of years ago.

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Marian Clode

She was on a holiday with her family in Belford, Northumberland on April 3 when she was charged at by a herd of cattle, which included several calves.

The 61-year-old had been walking along a public bridlepath with her husband Christopher (63), daughter Lucy Rowe, son-in-law Kevin and her two grandchildren Oliver and Charlotte.

When suddenly one of the herd became aggressive, approaching Mrs Clode and repeatedly head-butted her.

An ambulance was called and both the family and paramedics attempted resuscitation before Mrs Clode was airlifted to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle but died two days later.

Her daughter Lucy told Sky News her mum was "flipped like a rag doll over the fence".

"The consultant said the injuries that my mum sustained were the worst they had ever seen, equivalent to those of a high-speed crash.

"She did not stand a chance against that animal. My mum went blue when I looked, the cows were staring at me, her lips went blue. I was screaming her name."

SDLP Councillor John Boyle said the woman still had family who lived in Derry including her elderly mother.

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Marian Clode with Grandchildren and Lucy Rowe

He told the Belfast Telegraph: "I'm a councillor for the area that she originally came from and where her mother still lives. It's a dreadful tragedy to the woman and all who knew her.

"It has come as a shock to many. She was born and reared in the Rosemount area which is a very close knit community where near enough everybody knows everybody.

"It has come as a shock to many that she has died in such terrible circumstances, by all accounts what seems to have been a freak accident.

"Thoughts of the community are with the wider family and I certainly share those thoughts and concerns."

The family have engaged Gordon Cartwright of JMW Solicitors to help guide them through the legal process to come, which will involve an inquest - a hearing likely to involve both Northumbria Police and the British Health and Safety Executive.

Mr Cartwright said: “The family’s main reason for sharing their story at this terribly distressing time is that they want to prevent other families going through such a traumatic experience.

“The family are also aware that there is likely to be an inquest in the coming months and have asked that we help guide them though that process.

"The strength and dignity they have shown in the face of this tragedy is admirable and I am proud to support them at this difficult time."

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Marian Clode's family - son-in-law Kevin, daughter Lucy and husband Chris

Shannon air traffic control saved jet that was minute away from Kerry mountain crash, probe hears

A private jet was a minute away from crashing into a mountain after pilots became confused over flight instructions, air accident investigators have found.

The Florida-registered plane was carrying three passengers and two crew when it took off from Kerry Airport on June 16 2015 on its way to Gander in Newfoundland, Canada.

A quick-thinking air traffic controller in Shannon spotted the jet levelled off too low to cross the Slieve Mish mountains near the Dingle peninsula.

The jet was about 800 feet below the highest peak as it flew into clouds shortly after take-off.

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Experts from the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU), which classed the incident as serious, said the pilots stopped climbing contrary to advice given to them while on the runway in Kerry.

The inspectors also said the crew misinterpreted instructions for the early flight path and did not try to clarify it with air traffic controllers.

The 32-year-old captain with 4,000 flying hours told the AAIU that they were confused over what altitude they should level off at.

"As we began to climb we had some confusion as to what the altitude clearance limit was as we were unsure what level 200 meant. We levelled at 2,000 feet to ensure we didn't exceed any altitude limits," the commander told the inquiry.

As the BAe 125-800B jet, known nowadays as a Hawker, was flying over Castlemaine the pilots contacted low level operators in Shannon's air traffic control centre.

Within 30 seconds the controller had asked the pilots three times for their altitude and confirmed they were at the wrong height.

The controller warned them of the high ground ahead in the Slieve Mish mountains and ordered them to climb to 4,000 feet with disaster less than one minute away.

The AAIU investigation also revealed that special radar to closely track flights from the control tower in Kerry airport was due to be in place in mid-2014 but was still not operating a month after the incident.

It said the lack of such a monitoring system was not a factor in this incident.

But the inspectors warned that the radar was first recommended in 2010 after a previous incident out of Kerry and they had no certainty when it would be up and running.

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) said the monitoring systems have been operating for the last two months.

"The IAA is committed to ensuring the highest levels of safety across the entire aviation system and we will ensure that all safety recommendations are implemented as expeditiously as possible," a spokesman said.

The AAIU called on the IAA to review how it monitors progress on safety recommendations in accident reports.

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Tributes to Irish 'superstar' nun who gave up acting to work with the poor

An Irish "superstar" nun died "in the line of duty" in an earthquake, friends and family members have said. By Greg Harkin

Sister Clare Theresa Crockett (33), from the Brandywell area of Derry city, was among more than 350 people who died when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck in Ecuador at the weekend.

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Sister Clare Theresa Crockett with a pupil at the Home of the Mother order school in Ecuador. Photo: Home of the Mother order/PA

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Home of the Mother order school in Ecuador. Photo: Home of the Mother order/PA

A second Irish nun, Sr Therese Ryan (36), who was born in Limerick but lived in Monaghan, was the first pulled from the rubble in their building in Playa Prieta with a fractured ankle.

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Sister Therese Ryan

Sr Clare had been with her order for the past 15 years, entering religious life when she was just 18, after giving up plans to be an actress. She had appeared as an extra alongside actor Jimmy Nesbitt in the Paul Greengrass-directed film 'Bloody Sunday'.

She gave guitar lessons to children who attended a school run by the nuns and was known for her love of music.

"She was a superstar. Everybody loved her," said her cousin Emmet Doyle.

"She died as she lived, helping others."

Her spiritual director and personal friend, Derry priest Fr Roland Coulhoun, said her death had devastated all who knew her.

He said she joined the order in Spain, had gone to the US and returned to Ecuador a couple of years ago for a second time.

"The terrible news has devastated everyone who knew her," he said.

"This is a young girl who gave her life to God and died for the Gospel. She literally died in the line of duty. She was a joyful girl, I've known her since she was a teenager. She was a beautiful person.

"I'll remember the joy that she brought to her youth group and the enthusiasm she showed for her vocation to religious life.

"It's counter-cultural to join a religious order for a young girl and she embraced it. We'll remember her with such affection. She was 33 but had the vitality of a teenager to the end.

"We're devastated she has lost her life in such a tragic way."

Sr Clare joined the order almost by accident after going to Spain for what she thought was a holiday when she was 18 and it turned out to be a pilgrimage.

"I liked to party a lot. My weekends, since I was 16/17, consisted of getting drunk with my friends. I wasted all my money on alcohol and cigarettes," she wrote later. "I tried to get out of it, but my name was already on the ticket, so I had to go.

"I now see that it was Our Lady's way of bringing me back home, back to Her and Her Son," she added.

Sr Theresa, the head of the Order, based in Cantabria in northern Spain, said last night: "Sr Clare had spent nearly 15 years of her life in consecration to the Lord.

"She was a generous sister with a special gift for reaching out to children and young people."

She said the nuns had been working on helping flood victims in recent weeks.

Sr Clare became a nun in 2010 after eight years' study. Her friend, Sr Kristin Tenreiro, said: "When she was asked to work in Ecuador, she knew that there were dangers, but, despite that, she saw it as God's will. She gave herself to God and to the poor and the needy. I will remember her with a huge smile on her face, singing, writing songs and I will remember her jokes.

"She was a very funny sister and wherever she was, the entire group was laughing."

Five postulates - or trainee nuns - also died when the building collapsed during Saturday's powerful earthquake. They were named as Sisters Jazmina, Mayra, Maria Augusta, Valeria and Catalina. Two other nuns were rescued.

An order spokeswoman last night said Sr Therese suffered a broken ankle but had been released from hospital and was "recovering well".

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Cheese with Listeria-causing bacteria found in Tesco

Tesco Ireland has been forced to recall a batch of cheese after a bacteria that causes Listeria was found in it.

Tesco Ireland has been forced to recall a batch of cheese after a bacteria that causes Listeria was found in it.

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Listeria Bacteria

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSA) said today one batch of Brewers Gold semi-soft cheese was affected.

Listeria can cause vomiting, weakness and fever and can be present in foods made from raw milk and a variety of processed meats.

The affected batch of cheese was sold by Tesco between 6 and 8 April. Point of sale recall notices are being displayed in stores.

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Irish soldier (24) who travelled to Syria to fight Isil is arrested in Iraq as he tried to come home

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan is being kept informed on efforts to secure the release of an Irishman arrested after fighting Isis in Syria. By Luke Byrne

Joshua Molloy (24), from Ballylinan, Co Laois, travelled to the Middle East region in April 2015 to fight against Isil with forces allied to the Kurds.

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Mr Molloy is originally from the village on the Laois-Kildare border

He is believed to have gone to school at Ardscoil na Tríonóide in Athy, Co Kildare. He joined the British Army after leaving school and served with them for around four years. However, he left due to the lack to military action.

He is believed to have fought against Isis with a Kurdish group. Over the past 18 months, hundreds of Westerners have joined Kurdish, Assyrian and other military units in the fight against Isis.

Before leaving to fight, Mr Molloy told his family he was going to Turkey to undertake humanitarian work. His parents are now understood to be concerned about him and want to secure his release.

He was arrested by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) last Friday along with two Britons, Joe Akerman and Jac Holmes, as they tried to return home.

Mr Molloy and his friends had allegedly entered Iraq illegally from Syria.

The KRG had closed the Iraq-Syria border.

The group was promised help from the KRG, but when that didn't materialise they allegedly tried to make their way across the border on their own.

According to the 'Sunday Times', the men had been fighting with a Syriac Christian group, the MFS, which is allied to the Kurdish YPG in the fight against Isil.

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The Department of Foreign Affairs is working with British counterparts on the case.

Irish diplomats are understood to have decided it would be best if the British Foreign Office worked for the release of all three men.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office told the Irish Independent they were engaging with officials on the ground in Iraq to secure the release of the men. Mr Flanagan will keep a watching brief on those attempts.

"We are aware of the case and we stand ready to provide consular assistance. Minister Flanagan is being kept fully informed," a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said.

Mark Campbell, a British-based activist for Kurdish rights, said he had spoken to Mr Molloy's parents and that they were very worried.

"Joshua's parents would like to appeal to the KRG to release him and his friends," he told reporters.

He last spoke to the men last Wednesday, when they had arrived at the town of Sinjar, on the Syrian side of the border, waiting to cross.

Pictures on Mr Molloy's Facebook page show him posing in camouflage battle dress with an Isil flag.

The young man was interviewed just after he arrived in Syria for the first time, almost exactly a year ago.

He said he was motivated by disgust of the Islamic State - which is trying to establish a global theocracy.

The KRG was formed in 1992 in northern Iraq, when Kurds in the region democratically elected a parliament.

Two bodies recovered in Galway in search for missing men

Gardai have confirmed that one of two bodies recovered from the sea in Co Galway this weekend is that of missing Private Ben Garrett.

The 21-year-old's body was taken from the water at Galway Docks this morning.

Earlier: Gardaí have confirmed that two bodies have been recovered from the sea in County Galway, where searches have been taking place for two missing men.

The body of a man was taken from the water at Galway Docks this morning.

Meanwhile, yesterday the body of a man was taken from the water at Galway Bay.

The identities of the men have not yet been established, however searches have been taking place for Private Ben Garrett and Anthony Henehan who went missing in Galway last month.

21-year-old Private Garrett was last seen leaving a nightclub in Galway on March 31 and Anthony Henehan from County Roscommon went missing on March 10.

The bodies have been taken to University Hospital Galway, where post mortem examinations will be carried out.

Ben Garrett

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Anthony Henehan

 

Derry nun confirmed dead in Equadorian earthquake

Sister Clare Theresa Crockett was based at Holy Family School in Playa Prieta with the Home of the Mother order.

More than 200 people were killed in the powerful earthquake which hit the south American country on Saturday. Before the earthquake hit, the nuns in the area said there had been serious torrential rain and flooding, which had led to the declaration of a state of emergency.

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Sister Clare’s family have asked for privacy.

The Home of the Mother order confirmed on social media this morning that Sr Clare’s body has been recovered.

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Significant increase in abuse at nursing homes according to HIQA

The number of allegations of suspected or confirmed abuse of older people in nursing homes jumped by almost 20% last year.

According to the Health Information and Quality Authority’s  2015 overview report of nursing home inspections in 2015, some 424 notifications of allegations of abuse were received, compared to 357 in 2014 — an increase of almost 19%.

Some 967 notifications of an unexpected death of any resident were received — up from 625 in 2014.

HIQA received 4,155 reports of an injury to a resident that required medical and/or hospital treatment in 2015.

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This case broke my heart, says ISPCA inspector

“Sometimes I wonder if I’ve become tougher having seen cruelty regularly in this job for the past nine years — but what I saw in this case absolutely broke my heart.”

Those were the words of The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) inspector for Cork, Lisa O’Donovan, after finding three dogs on the brink of death having been left in squalid conditions at a house in Youghal recently.

The ISPCA is Ireland’s largest national animal welfare charity and Ms O’Donovan said she came across such scenes on a regular basis but that the little Yorkshire Terrier and two Chihuahuas were in such atrocious condition during the visit, that she found herself on the brink of tears.

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On arrival, Ms O’Donovan discovered the dogs living in a filthy back garden, littered with debris and faeces, with no access to clean water or food.

The only shelter available to the dogs was a cage with a dirty duvet inside.

Inspector O’Donovan visited on a rainy day, and found the duvet was soaking wet.

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The male Yorkie was found with an intensely matted coat, in a state of collapse and barely moving.

One of the Chihuahuas was severely emaciated and the other pregnant.

The three dogs were seized and transferred for immediate veterinary attention.

The Yorkie, now named Benjamin Button, was found to be just a step away from death.

He was severely dehydrated and emaciated, and underneath his matted coat was just skin and bone.

The two Chihuahuas, now known as Bonnie and Clyde, received immediate care for dehydration and poor body weight.

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Ms O’Donovan told the Evening Echo: “I nearly missed the Yorkie as he was curled up, terrified. My heart went out to him. To treat a little dog like that is beyond comprehension. It was horrendous.

“The smell was something like I’ve never experienced. I’ve seen a lot in my time but this really got under my skin.

“I want justice for dogs like this. They need to know that there are better days for them.”

Ms O’Donovan said the Yorkie was named Benjamin Button because of the fictitious character who ages backwards.

“We thought he was 15 or so, he looked so ancient and weak. It turns out he’s only five or so.

“We are seeing a couple of dogs a day like this. They come in all shapes and sizes.

“They deserve much better.”

Ms O’Donovan urged members of the public to consider adopting rescued animals.

“I would love to see all mistreated dogs get a second chance in life. Benjamin Button is like a different dog now, he’s already dancing. All three are healing.”

To report cruelty to an animal, contact 1890 515 515.

This story first appeared in the Evening Echo.