Saturday 20 December 2014

Banking inquiry compromised by bids to oust MacSharry, warns FF leader

Published 08/06/2014 | 02:30

Fianna Fail Senator Marc MacSharry
Fianna Fail Senator Marc MacSharry

FIANNA Fail leader Micheal Martin has warned that the credibility of the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry has been "seriously compromised'' by attempts to reverse the shock appointment of FF senator Marc MacSharry to the inquiry.

In a major blunder, the failure of Labour senators Susan O'Keeffe and Lorraine Higgins to attend the Seanad Committee meeting last week, which nominated the Seanad representatives, meant that Mr MacSharry, rather than Ms O'Keeffe, was selected.

This means the Government will not have a majority on the inquiry. Mr Martin said the attempt to remove MacSharry, "once again laid bare the partisan approach of the Coalition''. "Why is there such concern over the need for a Government majority in a committee that, we are told, is engaged in findings of fact?" he asked. "Such a committee doesn't need to be politicised."

Mr Martin said the Government position appeared to be "informed by controlling hands from on high''. Though FF, for now, will continue to co-operate with the inquiry and is anxious for it to succeed, said Mr Martin, further Coalition interference may have serious consequences.

Analysis, Willie Kealy, Page 24

BOY, 10, KILLED IN FARM TRAGEDY

A 10-year-old boy has died and his father was last night fighting for his life after a farm accident in Co Antrim.

The 51-year-old man and his son were overcome by slurry fumes while working on a farm near Dunloy, Co Antrim. Emergency services attended the scene, but could not save the boy. The father was rushed to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, where he was reported to be in a critical condition.

VODAFONE REVEALS PHONE INFO REQUESTS

IRELAND'S largest mobile operator has revealed that the authorities applied more than 4,000 times to it for information as to the location, identity and other details of customers' phone activity.

The revelation is part of a new initiative by Vodafone to inform people of the extent to which governments seek access to detailed information about their customers' communications.

Vodafone also revealed that 29 countries tap directly into its network infrastructure to listen to calls and read messages. However, the operator said it was not allowed to say how many times Irish authorities listened in on our phone calls or read our messages because the Justice Minister warned it not to.

"While local laws do not expressly prohibit disclosure, we asked the Irish authorities for guidance and have been informed that we cannot disclose this information," said a spokesman for the company.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice said that its guidance to Vodafone was a request and not a mandate.

NO WINNER OF €2M LOTTO JACKPOT

THERE was no winner of last night's €2m Lotto draw. The numbers were 10, 19, 20, 24, 30, 39 (bonus 8). The Lotto Plus 1 numbers were 3, 4, 26, 34, 37, 42 (bonus 25) and the Lotto Plus 2 numbers were 9, 17, 22, 25, 27, 33 (bonus 30).

VARADKAR PLEADS FOR AER LINGUS TALKS

TRANSPORT Minister Leo Varadkar yesterday admitted that threats of two more Aer Lingus strikes were "a matter of grave concern". The minister pleaded with the airline and trade union Impact to return to the negotiating table.

He said: "The State's industrial-relations machinery remains available to both sides and should be utilised if direct negotiations have proved unsuccessful. This dispute can and will only be resolved through negotiation."

Impact said earlier that it would issue Aer Lingus management with notice of two one-day strikes on Monday, June 16, and Wednesday, June 18, after talks had broken down on Friday over the roster arrangements.

The union said management had issued a "take-it-or-leave it" proposal in the long-running dispute over proposed roster changes, which it said management knew would be unacceptable to staff.

SINN FEIN TURNS DOWN AMNESTY INVITE

Sinn Fein has said it will not give evidence before a Westminster committee investigating amnesties for republican fugitives.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said that, although the party had nothing to hide, officials would decline invitations to attend a Northern Ireland select committee hearing in London next week.

The committee is investigating revelations made earlier this year that three UK governments since 2001 provided 228 IRA on-the-runs with letters stating they were no longer wanted for past crimes.

DOPE SMOKERS RISK INCREASED INFERTILITY

CANNABIS can reduce a man's fertility significantly but alcohol and cigarettes won't make much difference, a new study has found.

The study, published in the medical journal Human Reproduction, found that smoking cannabis can alter the shape of male sperm, reducing fertility.

The research, conducted in the University of Sheffield, investigated the lifestyle of more than 2,000 men across Britain and found that cannabis smokers will find it harder to father a child and are more likely to need IVF assistance. The study also found that while alcohol and smoking cigarettes were unhealthy, they had little effect on sperm quality and so were not seen as hazardous for those trying to conceive.

CODING WHIZZKIDS SHOWCASE SKILLS

CODING whizzkids across Ireland came together yesterday for the CoderDojo Coolest Projects Awards in Dublin.

More than 250 young coders showcased their skills as they submitted projects to be judged under a range of categories including websites, apps, HTML games and advanced languages.

The tech event, held yesterday at the Helix in Dublin City University, was organised by CoderDojo, a global, volunteer-led organisation.

FORMER NORTHERN CHIEF HAIN TO RETIRE

THE FORMER Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Peter Hain, has announced he is to step down as a Labour MP at the next UK general election.

Mr Hain is currently the representative for the Welsh town of Neath and said he made the decision to step down following a series of talks with party leader Ed Miliband.

FIRST PUBLIC PORT OF CALL FOR €50M SHIP

IRELAND'S newest Naval Service Patrol Vessel, worth €50m, is open to the public for the first time today.

The LE Samuel Beckett docked at Cork City quays on Friday ahead of its formal twinning ceremony yesterday evening at Cork City Hall. The ship is open for public tours between 3pm and 5pm.

CYCLE ENDS WITH SUICIDE HOTLINE LAUNCH

CONSOLE, the national suicide prevention charity, yesterday held its first ever East-West 200km cycle.

Around 250 people took part in the cycle, which began in Celbridge, Co Kildare, and ended in Galway.

The aim of the event was to raise funds for Console, which launched its 24/7 free helpline: 1-800 247 247.

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