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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Irish Independent: 1916 snapshot view of things (Little has changed since)

                                                        Aftermath of the 1916 rising

Lest We Forget 1916 and the Irish Independent's views of the men who fought for Irish freedom then. Little has changed since.

The editorial in the first issue of the Irish Independent after the rising in 1916 that had included Michael Collins, headlined with this: Criminal Madness. It continued: “No terms of denunciation would be too strong to apply to those responsible for the criminal and insane rising of last week.”

By the 9th of May of that year, the British had already executed 13 leaders of the rising and James Connolly lay gravely wounded while waiting for his own execution with Sean Mc Diarmada who was still a prisoner. The Irish Independent then called for more blood to be spilled, their blood: “If these men are treated with too much leniency they will take it as an indication of weakness on the part of the Government (A British one)…Let the worst of the ringleaders be singled out and dealt with as they deserve.”

Two day later the Irish Independent were getting impatient and wrote this: “A certain few of the leaders remain undealt with, and the part they played was worse than that of those who have paid the extreme penalty. Are they, because of an indiscriminate demand for clemency, to get off lightly, while others who were more prominent have been executed?

The next day the Irish Independent's wishes were granted: James Connolly and Sean Mac Diarmada were shot the at the break of dawn. Michael Collins survived just a little longer.

Barry Clifford

Leak by Islamic State defector ‘goldmine’ for spy agencies

A disillusioned former member of Islamic State has passed a stolen memory stick of documents identifying 22,000 supporters in over 50 countries to a British journalist, a leak that could help the West target Islamist fighters planning attacks.

Leaks of such detailed information about Islamic State are rare and give Britain’s spies a potential trove of data that could help unmask militants who have threatened more attacks like those that killed 130 people in Paris last November.
A man calling himself Abu Hamed, a former member of Islamic State who became disillusioned with its leaders, passed the files to Sky News on a memory stick he said he had stolen from the head of the group’s internal security force.

On it were enrolment forms containing the names of Islamic State supporters and of their relatives, telephone numbers, and other details such as the subjects’ areas of expertise and who had recommended them.
One of the files, marked “Martyrs”, detailed a group of IS members who were willing and trained to carry out suicide attacks, Sky said.

Richard Barrett, a former head of global counter-terrorism at Britain’s MI6 Secret Intelligence Service, said the cache was “a fantastic coup” in the fight against Islamic State.
“It will be an absolute goldmine of information of enormous significance and interest to very many people, particularly the security and intelligence services,” Barrett told Sky News.
Sky said it had informed the British authorities about the documents which were passed to its correspondent, Stuart Ramsay, at an undisclosed location in Turkey.

Western security sources said that if genuine, the files could be gold dust in helping identify potential attackers and the networks of sympathizers behind them.
Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for the November 13 attacks in Paris and the October 31 downing of a Russian passenger plane over Egypt’s Sinai region that killed 224.

The defector, a former Free Syrian Army fighter who switched to Islamic State, said the group had been taken over by former soldiers from the Iraqi Baath party of Saddam Hussein, who was ousted in 2003 after the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Some of the defector’s Arabic documents, posted on the Zaman Al Wasl Syrian news website, were forms issued by “Islamic State in Iraq and Sham, the General Directorate of Borders” and displayed personal details of each fighter, according to a review of some of the documents by Reuters.

Guy Faulconbridge

No Means No!!!!!

The pen is indeed mightier than justice itself.

Three years ago the Legal Aid bill dumped on the long suffering taxpayer topped €47 million. Head individual wigger or counsel got €7,127 for the first day and €1562 each day thereafter, and this is supposed to be a service for the poorest in our society while yet, a very rich one for the chosen few.

Senior counsel received a daily brief fee of €1,716 in the circuit court with a subsequent daily fee or refresher fee after the first day of €858.

Junior counsel received a daily brief fee of €4,752 for a murder trial at the Central Criminal Court along with a refresher or daily fee of €1,041, while junior counsel received a daily brief fee of €1,144 in the circuit court along with a refresher or daily fee of €572.

Solicitors received a brief fee just for one day of €7,127 for a case in the Central Criminal Court along with a refresher fee of €750 for each subsequent day while solicitors received a daily brief fee of €1,144 for cases in the circuit court along with a refresher fee of €418.

Ken Murphy  of the Lawless Society, sorry, I meant the Law Society, said then that Legal Aid work was the “thinnest of cats” believing obviously that better potions of meat that could be tore of the gullible public lay elsewhere. He added: "The reductions that practitioners have suffered have been savage and have caused huge pain to lawyers.” Pass the tissues round and bless his bleeding heart.

That can only mean the above figures were after the cuts then. Since that time the bleeding has long since stopped and very much started for the taxpayer for the fees have only gone one way since-up!  This, I believe, is nothing short of legal robbery but robbery all the same. If you want justice, go watch a television series for that is normally as good as it gets and the actors are never as good as the ones in a real life courtroom. The pen is indeed mightier than justice itself.

Barry Clifford

Supreme Court overturns drink-driving conviction

Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman delivered judgment on the case days before his death

The Supreme Court has overturned a man’s drink-driving conviction due to a judge’s failure to give reasons for refusing to allow an expert to inspect an Intoxilyser breath-testing machine.

The Supreme Court has overturned a man’s drink-driving conviction due to a judge’s failure to give reasons for refusing to allow an expert to inspect an Intoxilyser breath-testing machine.
In what was his last judgment, delivered days before he died on Monday, Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman of the Supreme Court noted no laws have been enacted to address the “unilateral abolition” in most cases of an opportunity for independent analysis of evidential breath specimens.

He said that this was despite the Supreme Court having previously identified such opportunities as “critical to fair procedures and Constitutional justice”.
Evidential breath specimens are specimens used in court that were taken from a drink-driving suspect in a Garda station and analysed using an Intoxilyser.
They have a different status from roadside breath specimens, which are used for screening purposes only.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Hardiman criticised “needlessly complex and confusing” statutory provisions concerning drink-driving offences.
He said the way in which the relevant provisions are amended and substituted makes the law “positively misleading” and tended to make “a nonsense of the important legal principle that everyone is deemed to know the law”.

Case details
The case arose after the man was convicted at Roscommon District Court of drink-driving on July 21st, 2008, at Elphin, Co Roscommon.
After losing his challenge to his conviction in the High Court, the man appealed to the Supreme Court.

The man’s solicitor had asked District Court Judge Geoffrey Browne to allow an expert on his side test the Intoxilyser and also sought documents relating to operation and maintenance of the machine itself.

Those requests were refused.
Mr Justice Hardiman ruled there was “uncontradicted evidence” the judge gave no reasons for the refusal.
The obligation to give reasons for a District Court decision has been well-established since a Supreme Court decision some 20 years ago, the judge said.

Mr Justice Hardiman ruled the man was entitled to have his conviction quashed over the failure to give reasons.

Mary Carolan

Ireland 'has appalling record tackling white-collar crime'

So-called 'white-collar' crime is costing the country more than gangland crime, according to Transparency International Ireland.

The group said it is often seen as a victimless crime because it is not as visible as gangland crime.

The comments come as gardaí raided the homes of 10 criminal gang members this afternoon in Dublin's south inner city - seizing thousands of euro in cash, jewellery, drugs and GPS trackers.

John Devitt, chief executive of Transparency International Ireland, said that Ireland has a poor record in tackling white-collar crime.

"It’s that kind of white-collar crime that largely goes either undetected or uninvestigated or is often not prosecuted," he said.

"In contrast to many other jurisdictions like the US or Hong Kong, Ireland has an appalling record in investing in tackling this problem."

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Giving traumatised children a chance to thrive - creative arts therapy

A creative arts therapy service in Limerick can’t keep up with the demand for its help from schools, social workers and even the courts

Volunteers from Our Lady of Lourdes National School, Patrick Nolan (8) on guiro, Ciaran Bannon (8) on djembe, Zoe Malone (8) on drums and Lee Nolan (8) on guitar, attend the Blue Box creative therapies.

TV news was reporting on a major hurricane in the US the Friday afternoon Aisling blew into Clare’s life as an emergency foster care placement. She remembers turning to her husband later that night and saying, “What about the hurricane that turned up on our doorstep today?”

That is exactly what she was like, Clare recalls. Constantly on the move, she had no routines, no sense of boundaries and no fear.
“Even though she was four, it was like having a baby handed to you: emotionally, this child was way back.”
From what Clare knows, the little girl had witnessed a lot of domestic violence. “This child to me was like somebody who was constantly on red alert. Always waiting for something to happen.”
She couldn’t communicate her feelings. “It was anger and aggression, and that was all she knew.”

The average kid her age would have outbursts of tears. “This child would grind her teeth and clench her fists and would hit and punch you. She was a small little thing but there were occasions she could give Katie Taylor a run for her money.”
Bit by bit, she started to disclose a little of her experiences, particularly when Clare was putting her to bed and reading her a story in their Limerick home.
At times “she would physically hit herself to display to me the extent of what she was trying to tell me,” says Clare. “It was very distressing to see. Such a little person carrying all that.”

As foster parents, they knew the love and support they could give Aisling would certainly help “but, with the level of trauma she was suffering from, we had to reach for outside help.
“We didn’t have the expertise to deal with it. She would have had a lot of night terrors and sleepless nights. The only emotion she seemed to be comfortable in expressing was anger; an awful lot of anger.”

Coming up against a two-year waiting list for the child and family psychological services in Limerick, Clare contacted The Blue Box creative therapy centre, so named from its origins as a youth project in a blue freight container. Then, with a referral from Aisling’s social worker, she was soon accepted for therapy at the centre, now in the Limerick Enterprise Development Project (LEDP) building in Foxboro.

As Aisling had such poor concentration, Clare thought she would probably run out after five minutes, and she also wondered how she would deal with the male therapist. But she stayed for nearly all of that first hour-long session.

“When she came out, all she was talking about was all the different coloured paints,” says Clare. Over the weeks, as Aisling brought bits of artwork home, “the Freud in me was looking at these upside down and sideways”, trying to read meaning into them. “But you can’t; they were for her, on the day, whatever she does.”
What Clare loves about the Blue Box is that when Aisling goes in, “it’s space for her, it’s time for her and she gets total freedom of expression. There is no agenda, and she has absolutely thrived on it.”

Emotional block
The essence of the work at the Blue Box is using creative arts psychotherapy to remove the emotional block that stops traumatised children from learning, says its chief executive, Bernadette Kenny. The children may have suffered domestic, environmental, emotional or sexual abuse, or maybe bereavement, but a common result will be the biological “fight, flight or freeze” response to the stress.

“When a child is traumatised, they can’t learn,” she says simply. The brain stops as it goes into a state of hyper alert.
“It’s no good telling them off for not learning, or shouting at them, or giving them extra homework; it just is not going to work.” Creative therapies help to promote emotional stability and self-regulation and to build relationships.

What makes the Blue Box the only service of its kind “not only in Ireland but also in Europe”, says Kenny, is that “we are the only creative arts psychotherapy for children that is non-profit, that goes into schools and are the referring agency for social work”.
Sitting in one of several small pre-fab offices housed within a former Krups factory, Kenny is looking forward to moving within days into a new centre the Blue Box has built with funding from local benefactor JP McManus’s Invitational Pro-Am golf classic in 2010, topped up by its own fundraising. A mound of packed boxes are ready to be transported to the new premises, just on the other side of this LEDP building.

There, a series of vibrantly coloured, spacious therapy rooms – blue for music, red for play and yellow for art – are a world apart from the previous dingy, cramped conditions. Physically it heralds a bright future, but expansion of Blue Box services will depend on an increase in funding.

With a mission to help vulnerable children in the city’s marginalised areas such as Moyross, Southill and King’s Island, the therapy team works mostly in schools, but as referrals from social workers grow, they hope to be able to see more children “in- house” too.

Having worked in disadvantaged communities in the UK and the US for many years before returning to Limerick, Clare-born Kenny says there’s always suspicion of authority in such areas. On top of that, in Ireland little is known about creative arts therapy.

By bringing therapy to schools, they are getting around that barrier and not depending on parents to bring the children to them. Last year Blue Box worked with 140 children in 13 primary schools, 41 in six secondary schools and 15 “inhouse”. It has also started a programme in two preschools, working with child-parent pairings.
While more than half of the children attending the Blue Box centre are in State care, about one in four of the children they see in schools is in care too.

At the end of June, some 295 children in Limerick were in care and 594 in the HSE Mid-West region as a whole, according to figures released to the Limerick Leader.
“There is a lot of neglect in Limerick and it is not talked about,” says Kenny, who reckons many more children would be brought to the attention of social services if schools were to report every child who meets the criteria for “neglect”. These are outlined in the Children First guidelines as “where the child suffers significant harm or impairment of development by being deprived of food, clothing, warmth, hygiene, intellectual stimulation, supervision and safety, attachment to and affection from adults, and/or medical care.”

Schools can be reluctant to give details of family background in written assessments of children they are referring to the Blue Box, but will outline them in face-to-face meetings.

“There is an element of fear,” says Kenny. “It is no secret that there is a criminal element that can get quite angry about what you say about them and their kids.”
However, she stresses, “most parents are just so grateful. They beg for our services; they know their children need help and support.”

Fine line
The Blue Box walks a fine line between wanting to be transparent about its work – and thereby highlighting the needs out there – but at the same time keeping the community’s trust.

As children may not have the language to talk about their experiences, creative therapy offers them different art forms, such as music, dance, play and visual art, to express their feelings, within defined, professional boundaries.
It is child psychotherapy using arts as a medium because play and movement are the first language of a child,” says Kenny. When a child comes in initially, there’s an array of materials in the therapy room.
“In the first few sessions they may flit from one thing to another and then they start working in the sand tray, or in music, painting or clay, in a certain way that starts to go deeper into expression of what needs to come out,” says Kenny. “They can make more sense of their world and get support for what is happening in their world from their therapist.”

Funding determines how many children the Blue Box team can see and the numbers have dropped as its income has fallen, although demand for its services is increasing. Last year it operated on a budget of just under €300,000, of which roughly 75 per cent came from State bodies such as the  Child and Family Agency (Tusla), the HSE and the Department of Education, and another 25 per cent from fundraising.

Kenny is the only full-time employee, while two therapists work four days a week, another seven or eight do sessional work and then are about four qualified counsellors working as interns, as well as a part-time secretary. In addition to schools and social workers referring children to them, “even the courts are referring to us and what isn’t coming with that is the money”, she remarks.

Call for funding
Wayne Dignam, a local businessman who spent much of his childhood in care and has recently joined the Blue Box board, is urging Tusla to increase funding for such vital support for foster parents who are looking after traumatised children.

“It is impossible for a child to go to school and try to learn, and to fit in with a family, if they are suffering from trauma,” he says.
“When children need this kind of intervention, it does pay off. They can flourish, develop properly and do better in school. There is a greater likelihood of the foster placement succeeding and the kids becoming functioning adults.”
The Blue Box’s services are in great demand “because we have such successful outcomes”, says Kenny. So how do they measure results?
“Children are referred for a reason: they are disruptive, or they’re quiet; they’re not doing their work; they are depressed; they are acting out or they are very silent; and they may be suicidal.”

After the initial assessment the therapist sets goals. But at stages in the 30-week programme during the academic year, teachers and parents are asked what changes they have noticed in the child, as well as the therapist recording them each week.
Pamela, who has fostered children for many years, has seen significant improvements in the teenage girl currently in her care, since she started attending the Blue Box. The teenager feels abandoned by her parents and is full of anger.
Now she controls that anger better, says Pamela. “She cries and gets upset but she isn’t damaging property. She is calmer.”

Not one for doing anything she doesn’t want to do, her foster daughter “loves coming up here”, says Pamela. Before that, she was sick of being brought to “stupid places”. “She can express how she’s feeling in art and music therapy, without sitting down in a chair and being bored off her head.” Youngsters don’t really want to talk while they are face to face, she adds, “but if they are doing something they like, they will chat away”.
Clare has also seen a significant shift in Aisling’s behaviour. “She started to be that bit calmer in herself. A lot of the aggression was replaced by tears; healthy stuff. She started crying instead of grinding her teeth and punching people.”

She has “come down” from her constant hyper state, something her school has noticed too, and she is interacting better with other children.
“Because she was given the freedom to express herself through the art and there was nobody censoring her, or giving out to her, it gave her time and space to connect with herself. And in there she developed a bit of courage and began to bring it outside.”
Now Aisling is chatting and laughing, doing all the things that everybody else takes for granted with their kids, Clare remarks.

“Every glimpse of it gives you some kind of hope that at least you are on the right path,” on what is going to be a long journey, she adds. “The hurricane is down to a tropical storm.”
Sheila Wayman

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

No sign of the Nama scandal going away

                                                                    Mick Wallace

ONE of these days, somebody somewhere in power is going to finally say “enough is enough” and initiate an investigation into Nama.
So far, the signs are that the scandal bubbling under Nama is going to continue to be ignored, but that can’t go on forever. As new nuggets of information continue to tumble out the smell is growing. And that’s before the new Dáil sits and Mick Wallace gets stuck back into it.
The matter at issue is the sale of Nama’s portfolio in Northern Ireland: around 850 properties were sold as a bundle to a US investment firm, Cerebrus for €1.3bn in June 2014. The sale has since become mired in controversy.

Wallace told the Dáil last year that €7m had been diverted into an offshore account as a backhander to some who had facilitated the deal. These included businessman Frank Cushnahan, who served on Nama’s advisory body in the North and would have had access to confidential information. Mr Cushnaáhan denies any impropriety or receiving any money. It has emerged, however, that €7m had been diverted to an Isle of Man account but was later retrieved.

The sale to Cerebrus went ahead after a previous bidder, Pimco, informed Nama that it had come to the company’s attention that somebody was due to receive monies in an improper fashion. Pimco then withdrew from the process, or were asked to leave by Nama. The entities differ on their parting of ways.
There have also been allegations that €15m was to be paid to three public and business figures in the North for facilitating the deal. Cerebrus has denied making any payments, and Nama’s position is that anything that may have been planned or paid occurred on the buyer’s side of the deal and has nothing to do with Nama.
Then last week matters took an interesting turn. The BBC’s Spotlight programme broadcast an investigation into the affair that included covert recordings of meetings. In one of these meetings, Mr Cushnahan appears to confirm that he was due to receive a fixer’s fee for the deal. There have also been reports of contacts between some of the business figures involved and senior people in the DUP which haven’t been satisfactorily explained.

Frank Cushnahan

“So what?” some might say. Smoke can be generated without a fire, and while there may be some embers in this story, explanations other than sinister can be forwarded for much of what happened.
That might be sustainable if nobody else was interested in it. As it happens, there are currently three separate investigations into the deal. The policing body for the US stock exchange, the Securities and Exchange Commission, is investigating the matter. So also is the UK’s National Crime Agency, a body that is described as Britain’s equivalent to the FBI. The BBC confirmed over the weekend that the NCA had been in contact over the programme and in particular the covert recordings that were broadcast.

There is also an inquiry under way by a committee of the Northern Ireland Executive, which has heard from a number of witnesses, but crucially not from the main people in Nama. That inquiry is likely to be short circuited by the elections to the executive scheduled for next May.

Three different bodies are now conducting criminal, regulatory and political inquiries into a deal which, if it was untoward, most likely resulted in citizens of this State being the victims. None of those inquiries are being conducted by agencies of this State or any instrument appointed by the Oireachtas.
This matters greatly because the shortage of public money over the last eight years led to severe hardship for some and a drop in living standards for many. In such a scenario, it is imperative that the citizens have full confidence that nobody has been benefiting from their pain.

So far, Nama’s stance of “Nothing to do with us, gov” has been backed up by the outgoing government. The agency says that the best result was achieved for the agency in disposing the assets as was done.
The Department of Finance has largely echoed Nama’s position. Minister for Finance Michael Noonan did not instruct Nama officials to co-operate with the inquiry by the North’s parliamentary committee inquiry. To a large extent, the attitude appears to be to keep the head down and play dumb.
Yet the questions will not go away. If there is any suggestion that monies were due to be paid to somebody for fixing a deal, why would that have been arranged unless there was an advantage to some parties? And how could such an advantage accrue without there ultimately being some cost to Nama, and by extension, the citizens?

Why was the sale process continued and completed so quickly after a problem was identified with the previous bidder? And why was there such a rush to dispose all the assets in one bundle in a property market which was expanding?
There is no suggestion that the principles in Nama, the chairman and chief executive, were engaged in anything untoward. The integrity of Frank Daly and Brendan McDonagh respectively is not up for grabs.
But a suspicion remains that the reluctance to have a proper investigation in this jurisdiction is driven by the fear that whatever tumbles out will ultimately result in embarrassment at the least for either Nama or its political masters.

We have been here time and again. Prior to the establishment of any number of tribunals or commissions of investigation over the last two decades, there were repeated attempts to drag feet and keep the head down, in the hope that the issue will go away or be buried with time.
The most recent example of that approach was in the run-up to the establishment of the commission of investigation into matters pertaining to IBRC, the State entity winding down Anglo Irish Bank.

The trajectory of the suspicious elements involved in the sale of Nama’s northern loan book is taking on a similar character. And it’s not going to run out of steam anytime soon. Wallace has already indicated that he has more information to introduce under Dáil privilege because it’s not being dealt with by the State.
There is no sign of this going away.

In the meantime, it reflects poorly on the State that it is willing to sit back and watch agencies in other jurisdictions investigate the matter on behalf of Irish citizens.

Michael Clifford

Monday, March 7, 2016

Justice indeed is a sorry word.

Charles Ingram, the man who won one million pound on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, with the help of a fellow cheat that had a well timed cough to coincide with wrong answers, is still doing a bit of cheating fourteen years on without a break. Of course most good cheaters need a little help and in his case it is the court system itself, full of the usual stock characters of legal dealers that wear dodgy wigs, high accents and a lot of mumbo jumbo as double speak. 

Charlie boy was fined only 25,000 pound initially for his indiscretions but has only paid 1,500 of that so far and is very unlikely to pay any more for in that time the dodgy wig brigade has managed to land their own bill on the British taxpayer for defending at every turn Charlie’s defence of ‘inability’ to pay little or anything (This has not stopped Charlie from sending his children to private schools and living in a rather posh house) That legal bill makes Ingram’s attempted swindle look like kid’s stuff for they collected a whopping 8 million pound so far that makes the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire pantomime a rather poor affair. 

Now, that is England and Ireland is not playing catch up in these sordid legal issues but is intending to take over entirely for a young man in Dublin, who was a victim of mistaken identity for trying to evade a taxi fare, was landed a bill for over €1,600,000 (not a miss- print) by 'his' legal defence team. He had been hanging out in Japan when the incident happened and they are now trying to take his parents home to help pay the bill. Justice indeed is a sorry word.

This is what justice is all about and ever really was. Learn the law before it crushes you as it is not the minor car accident you may be in or other that will land you in their clutches, but it is the law itself and their useful minions that is the proverbial accident waiting to happen!

Barry Clifford  

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Repossession orders increased by over 20% in 2015

Legal sources say numbers would have been even greater if not for conflicting judgments

The number of repossession orders granted last year increased more than 20 per cent compared with 2014, the latest figures show. 

The number of repossession orders granted last year increased more than 20 per cent compared with 2014, the latest figures show.
A total of 1,284 orders for repossession were granted in the State’s 26 circuit courts last year, up from 1,063 in 2014.

At the same time the number of applications by banks to repossess homes fell almost 40 per cent from 8,164 in 2014 to 5,021 last year.
Of the orders granted last year, 918 were for primary homes with 366 for buy-to-lets or other dwellings.

The data from the Courts Service shows the highest number of orders – 170 – was granted in Cork, of which 123 were for primary homes and 47 for other dwellings.
This compares with a total of 84 orders granted in Cork in 2014.
Some 160 orders were granted in Dublin last year – down from 253 in 2014 – of which 113 were for primary homes and 47 for buy-to-lets or others.

In Wexford 80 orders were granted last year, 40 for primary homes. In Tipperary, 77 orders were granted, 65 for primary homes.
There were 72 orders granted in both Laois and Louth with 58 granted in Meath and 57 in Wicklow.

The fewest repossession orders were granted in Longford where there were 10 – four for primary homes – followed by Sligo where there were 11, three for primary homes.
Though the numbers increased last year, legal and industry sources say increases would have been greater had it not been for conflicting High Court judgments at the end of last year which saw thousands of repossession cases, particularly affecting buy-to-lets, adjourned or withdrawn.

Thousands of cases will be re-entered later this year once the Court of Appeal clarifies the matter. The cases will be heard “later this year,” say sources.

Confusion centres on the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court to hear certain repossession cases.
In May 2015 Ms Justice Murphy ruled the Circuit Court did not have jurisdiction to hear a case concerning a primary home, but in November Mr Justice Séamus Noonan ruled the Circuit Court had the authority to hear a similar case involving a buy-to-let.

Both cases concerned the “rateability” of the dwellings due to their age, the time when the mortgage was drawn down and the time-frame in which repossession proceedings were initiated.

A property must have a “rateable” value to come within the jurisdiction of the court.
A significant number of repossession cases had already been either adjourned following the May judgment while lenders reassessed their options, or had been struck out as lenders went back to reissue proceedings.
The November judgment caused further confusion, particularly in the repossession of buy-to-lets.

One lawyer described the case on its way to the Court of Appeal, as being of “national importance”.
The impact of the confusion can be seen in the figures. Just 210 orders – or 16 per cent of last year’s total – were granted in the last three months of 2015.

This compares with 419 orders in the last quarter of 2014, which is some 39 per cent of the year’s total.

Kitty Holland

Irish Independent apologises to Gerry Adams for ‘gunpoint’ story

THE IRISH INDEPENDENT has apologised to Gerry Adams for its reporting of a speech he made at a 2014 fundraising event in New York.
A report published in the paper on 6 November 2015 claimed that the Sinn Féin leader had “openly joked about holding the editor of the Irish Independent at gunpoint”.
Adams’ solicitors had argued that his remarks, which referred to the actions of Michael Collins in 1916, were taken “entirely out of context”.

A transcript of the speech in question showed the Louth TD had said:
Mick Collins’ response to the Independent’s criticism of the fight for freedom was to dispatch volunteers to the Independent’s offices. They held the editor at gunpoint and then dismantled and destroyed the entire printing machine! Now I’m obviously not advocating that.
The Irish Independent conceded in a clarification today that the comments referred instead to “an historical event which occurred almost a century ago during the War of Independence”.

“We apologise to Mr Adams and we are happy to clarify this,” the paper said.

The Press Ombudsman last year upheld Adams’ complaint about the article because it said readers could “reasonably be expected to assume that [his] remarks as reported referred to the current editor of the Irish Independent”.
The paper should have clarified that he was speaking about events in 1916, it said.
In a statement today, Adams called the apology a “very significant” development.
Negative media coverage of the party has had “an insidious and deeply corrosive” effect on journalism and the coverage of politics in this state, the Sinn Féin leader said.

“I sincerely hope that [the clarification] furthers the cause of fairness and objectivity in political coverage in the Irish media,” he added.