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Friday, November 13, 2015

Video shows garda using baton in property-auction melee

Video has emerged of a confrontation between gardaí and protesters at a property auction in Gorey, Co Wexford, in which a garda is seen using a baton during the melee.

It is understood some of the properties being auctioned at the hotel in Gorey were secured on NAMA loans and are in the control of a receiver.
In the four minute-clip, a garda is seen explaining to a man that an allegation of assault had been made against him. The garda asks for the man’s name and address.

The man, encouraged by fellow protesters, asks to be told the specific section of the law under which he is being asked for his name.

The garda confirms the act and section in question (Section 2 of the Non Fatal Offences Against the Person Act), but the man insists on having it quoted while he is being asked for his name.

The garda tells the man he is “now placing (him) under arrest” and the crowd becomes agitated, with a number of people shouting “Illegal arrest”, “peaceful protest” and “Arrest one, arrest all”. A number of scuffles break out.

Later in the clip (3.48 mins), the same garda is seen using a baton while facing another protester, who falls to the ground.

A melee ensues, and the clip shuts off.

A spokesperson for the Garda Press Office said today they do not comment on video posted by third parties to social media, and referred further queries to the Garda Ombudsman’s Office, GSOC.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Banks seek to repossess nearly 4,500 homes

More than 7,000 dwellings targeted by lenders up to 2015, says Courts Service

Some 889 applications for repossession were refused by the courts so far this year. Photograph: Getty Images

Banks have sought to repossess almost 4,500 homes since the start of the year, the latest figures from the Courts Service of Ireland indicate.
These are in addition to the 7,100 dwellings lenders had already moved to repossess by January 1st, 2015.
The figures, covering the first nine months of the year, show lenders lodged 4,440 civil bills for repossession across the State’s 26 circuit courts.

Home repossessions Jan-Sept 2015
Circuit Court orders granted for repossession of primary homes 
2015 Q1
2015 Q2
2015 Q3
Created with Raphaël 2.1.2
Carrick on Shannon
Source: Courts Service

Some 3,638 (82 per cent) of these are for primary homes, 89 (2 per cent) are for buy-to-lets with 713 (16 per cent) for “other” dwellings.
However, the number of bills lodged is down compared with the same period last year when 6,420 bills were lodged, indicating a possible levelling off in repossession activity by the banks.
The data, released to The Irish Times, also shows 1,088 repossession orders were granted by the courts in the first nine months of the year, almost 70 per cent more than the 644 granted in the same period last year and 350 per cent more than the 240 granted in the period in 2013.
Of the 1,088 orders made, 758 were for primary homes, 131 were for buy-to-lets and 199 were for “other” dwellings.

Large increases
The highest numbers of repossession orders this year were in Co Cork, where 153 were made between January and September, compared with 38 in the same period last year – a more than 300 per cent increase. Of Cork’s total so far this year, 112 were for primary homes, four for buy-to-lets and 37 for “other” dwellings.

Counties close to Dublin also had large increases, with 78 repossession orders made in Co Wexford, compared with 21 last year. This year, 39 were for primary homes, five for buy-to-lets and 34 for “other”. Co Wicklow, where there were 14 orders last year, saw 41 to the end of September.
Co Meath has had 63 repossession orders this year, compared with 32 to the end of September last year. Co Laois, which also had 63 orders, had just 29 in the same period last year, while Co Louth had 59 orders this year, compared with 21 in the period last year.

Foreclosure clause
However, the trend in the capital, which recorded the highest number of repossession orders in the State in recent years, appears to be slowing.

Some 127 repossession orders were granted in Dublin to the end of September – 86 for primary homes, 20 for buy-to-lets and 21 for “others” – compared with a total of 148 in the same period last year.
A spokesman for the Court Service said the statistics did not necessarily refer to actual repossessions.

“It is a matter for the person or company who obtained the order for possession to pursue its execution,” he said. “Also, these cases are not the only circumstances in which a financial institution is foreclosing. The vast majority of mortgages contain a foreclosure clause which becomes operative, without the need for a court order, if there is any failure in payment of instalments.”

Some 889 applications for repossession were refused by the courts so far this year, while other cases may also have been struck out, or withdrawn by the lenders as they come to voluntary arrangements with borrowers.

The highest number of bills for repossession lodged this year were in Dublin (849), followed by Cork (367), Meath (349), Galway (307) and Kildare (244).
Kitty Holland

Islamic State and rape

Q: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female slave who has not reached puberty?
A; It is permissible to have intercourse with the female slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse; however if she is not fit for intercourse, then it is enough to enjoy her without intercourse.’
Excerpt from a pamphlet of ‘rules’ governing the treatment of slaves, published by Isis in December 2014.

THE Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) first originated as Jama’at al-Tawhid wa’l-Jihad in 1999, pledging allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2004, from which time it became known as al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). Isis (also Isil, Islamic State, Daesh) is a self-proclaimed Islamic state and caliphate, consisting mainly of Sunni Arabs from Iraq and Syria.

The group participated in the Iraqi insurgency which followed the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In January 2006, it joined other Sunni insurgent groups to form the Mujahideen Shura Council, which proclaimed the formation of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in October 2006. In April 2013, ISI leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the merger of ISI with al-Nusra Front, with the group to be renamed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), also Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis).

The leaders of al-Nusra and al-Qaeda, however, rejected the merger, and after eight months, al- Qaeda cut all ties with Isil, criticizing some of their actions as being “too extreme”. In June 2014, Isil proclaimed itself to be a worldwide caliphate, and renamed itself Islamic State. In March 2015, Boko Haram swore allegiance, giving Isis a presence in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon. As of June 2015, Isis had official branches in Egypt (Sinai Peninsula), Libya, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Nigeria, and the North Caucasus.

The United Nations has held Isis responsible for human rights abuses and war crimes, while the group has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United Nations and the European Union, as well as the United States, India, Indonesia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other governments.

Amnesty International has reported ethnic cleansing by the group on a “historic scale”, while there has been widespread destruction of religious monuments and artefacts. Isis is believed to make more than $10m (€9.3m) a month through extortion, “taxes”, oil, and looting.
Muslims worldwide have rejected the authority of Isis, and of its claim to have established a worldwide caliphate. They claim that Isis favours selective reading of the Quran in order to pursue its own agenda. Further, they claim that Islam is a peaceful religion, and reject the wanton violence favoured by Isis.
Then there is the attack on Mount Sinjar in August 2014, when Isis fighters invaded villages on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq, home to the Yazidis, a tiny religious minority. At first the advance appeared to be an attempt to extend the territory controlled by Isis, but the truth was far more sinister.

According to witness accounts, men and women were separated almost immediately. The women, girls and children were taken away in trucks, while the men and older boys were brought to nearby fields and executed. In addition to the city of Mosul, women were transported to the Iraqi towns of Tal Afar, Solah, Ba’aj and Sinjar City, where they were held in a prison compound, schools, and municipal buildings. There, they were held for days or months until being transported to Syria or other locations in Iraq, where they were bought and sold for sex. Others were given as “spoils of war” to Isis members.

What Isis was effectively carrying out was the systematic rape of the Yazidi female population.
They even composed a price list for the sale of women and girls at market. Prices ranged from $75 for 30 to 40-year-olds to $172 for one to nine-year olds. In August 2015, 19 women were executed for refusing to engage in “sexual jihad” with Isis fighters.

According to Zainab Bangura, the UN’s special envoy for sexual violence in conflict, “the girls get peddled like barrels of petrol... One girl can be sold and bought by five or six different men... Isis have a machinery... They have a manual on how you treat these women. They have a marriage bureau which organises all of these ‘marriages’ (to Isis soldiers), and the sale of women... they have a price list”.

Isis claims that the rape of slaves is justified and indeed is to be encouraged. Survivors have told how soldiers pray before and after rape, seeing it as bringing them closer to Allah. The following is an extract from an article published in the New York Times in August 2015: “In the moments before he raped the 12-year-old girl, the Islamic State fighter took the time to explain that what he was about to do was not a sin. Because the pre-teen girl practiced a religion other than Islam, the Quran not only gave him the right to rape her — it condoned and encouraged it, he insisted. He bound her hands and gagged her. Then he knelt beside the bed and prostrated himself in prayer before getting on top of her. When it was over, he knelt to pray again, bookending the rape with acts of religious devotion.”

The Research and Fatwa Department of the Islamic State published a pamphlet online in December 2014 detailing best practices on the treatment of slaves.
The following are exerpts from that pamphlet, which takes a question and answer format:
Question 1: What is al-sabi?
A: Al-sabi is a woman from among ahl al-harb [the people of war] who has been captured by Muslims.
Question 4: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female captive?
A: It is permissible to have sexual intercourse with the female captive. Allah the almighty said: “[Successful are the believers] who guard their chastity, except from their wives or (the captives and slaves) that their right hands possess, for then they are free from blame” [Quran 23:5-6]
Question 5: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female captive immediately after taking possession [of her]?
A: If she is a virgin, he [her master] can have intercourse with her immediately after taking possession of her. However, if she isn’t, her uterus must be purified [first].
Question 6: Is it permissible to sell a female captive?
A: It is permissible to buy, sell, or give as a gift female captives and slaves, for they are merely property, which can be disposed of as long as that doesn’t cause [the Muslim ummah] any harm or damage.
Question 13: Is it permissible to have intercourse with a female slave who has not reached puberty?
A: It is permissible to have intercourse with the slave who hasn’t reached puberty if she is fit for intercourse; however if she is not fit for intercourse, then it is enough to enjoy her without intercourse.
Accounts from victims have been harrowing. Rape has been used not simply as sexual gratification, but as a weapon of war.

In raping the Yazidi women, Isis has sought to divide the once close-knit community. Rape has also been used as an effective recruiting tool for Muslim men, who in their own deeply conservative societies, cannot date or partake in casual sex.

What follows are victims’ quotes from the aforementioned New York Times, from an article published in the Daily Mail and from a report from Human Rights Watch: “They laughed and jeered at us, saying ‘You are our sabaya’. I didn’t know what that word meant”, she said. Later on, the local Islamic State leader explained it meant slave. “He told us that Taus Malik” — one of seven angels to whom the Yazidis pray — “is not God. He said that Taus Malik is the devil and that because you worship the devil, you belong to us. We can sell you and use you as we see fit”.
Bushra, who tried to kill herself when she was sold to an Isis extremist, said: “The man who had bought me took me to hospital. He told me he was going to rape me that same day, however ill I made myself. He took me home, tied up my hands and feet, and raped me. He raped me about five times a day. My sister was barely 14 when they raped her... I could hear her screaming but couldn’t do anything”.

Jalila, age 12, spoke of the Isis fighter who “selected” her, then slapped her and dragged her out of the house in which she had been held when she resisted: “I told him not to touch me and begged him to let me go. I told him to take me to my mother. I was a young girl and I asked him, ‘What do you want from me?’. He spent three days having sex with me.”

The wholly inadequate response from the international community has not just failed the Iraqi and Syrian people, but has arguably exacerbated the situation and bolstered Isis’ domination of those peoples. From mass rape, public beheadings, decapitations of women and children, burning alive of victims, summary executions, and gay men thrown from buildings, Isis seems intent on its march towards ever increasing decadence and barbarism.

From a western standpoint, it is difficult to understand the mindset of Isis, much less their tactics. One thing seems sure — Isis will not desist until it has created a Sunni-dominated Islamic state and has conquered not just Iraq and Syria, but also surrounding countries in the Middle East. The only solution would appear to be military intervention on a massive scale, and to eliminate Isis entirely.

In the meantime, hundreds, perhaps thousands of Iraqi and Syrian women and girls continue to be degraded and raped, with many seeing suicide as the only escape. As thousands of refugees swarm Europe’s shores, it is sooner, rather than later we may realise the true significance of what is happening.
Ken Phelan

Photo Minute: The world around you

Religious Order reported 80 more infant deaths to State than on records

The religious order that ran the Bessborough Mother and Baby Home reported significantly higher numbers of infant deaths to state inspectors than it recorded privately.

An Irish Examiner investigation can reveal that between March 31, 1939, and December 5, 1944, Department of Local Government and Public Health (DLGPH) inspector Alice Litster was informed that 353 infant deaths occurred at the institution. The figures are contained in a inspection report from 1944 obtained by this newspaper. However, the Bessborough Death Register, released under Freedom of Information, reveals the nuns recorded just 273 infant deaths in this period — a discrepancy of 80.
A year-by-year comparison of the records reveals that, in all but one year, the State was told that a higher number of children were dying in Bessborough than the nuns recorded privately.

In her report, Ms Litster stated the figures for 1939 to 1941 “were furnished by the Superioress” while those for 1943 and 1944 had been “checked and verified and their accuracy can be vouched for”. The DLGPH report reveals the following number of infant deaths for each year ended March 31:
1939 — 38 deaths
1940 — 17 deaths
1941 — 38 deaths
1942 — 47 deaths
1943 — 70 deaths
1944 — 102 deaths
April 1, 1944 to December 5, 1944 — 41 deaths
The numbers recorded in the Bessborough Death Register for the same dates are as follows:
1939 — 38 deaths
1940 — 8 deaths
1941 — 22 deaths
1942 — 43 deaths
1943 — 55 deaths
1944 — 76 deaths
April 1, 1944 to December 5, 1944 — 31 deaths

The order confirmed to Tusla via its solicitors this year that the death register was the only one in existence and it “does not hold any other death register”.

The discrepancy in the recording of deaths comes just months after the Irish Examiner revealed that an unpublished 2012 internal HSE report raised concerns that death records were falsified in Bessborough Mother and Baby Home so children could “be brokered in clandestine adoption arrangements” at home and abroad. The report highlighted “epidemic” infant deaths rates at the home and said: “The question whether indeed all of these children actually died while in Bessboro or whether they were brokered into clandestine adoption arrangements, both foreign and domestic, has dire implications for the Church and State and not least for the children and families themselves.”

The Irish Examiner asked the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary for an explanation for the discrepancy. In a statement, it said it was dealing “directly with the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes on all such and related matters — and it would not be appropriate to enter into communication, other than with the commission at this time”.
By Conall Ó Fátharta

Photo Minute: The Liberation of France 1944 and the American GI continued (original color)