Wednesday 22 November 2017

Kenny to make debut Seanad address 16 months after election as Taoiseach

Just over one year, four months and two weeks since he was elected Taoiseach, Enda Kenny will next week finally speak for the first time in the Seanad he plans to abolish.

The failure so far of the Taoiseach to attend the second chamber has been a source of some anger among senators.

However, Mr Kenny's own attitude to a chamber whose abolition appears to be one of his few core political values will not have been improved by a series of embarrassing government defeats.

The open rebelliousness of the Taoiseach's personal nominees, the Labour senators and the somewhat more subtle dissent of his own senators mean relations between the Executive and the Seanad are at an all-time low. However Mr Kenny will, just before the summer recess, address the house on the issue of the EU summit deal.

Lest the Taoiseach expect too warm a welcome, the mood among government senators, let alone the opposition, was epitomised by one comment of: "It will almost be as exciting as the Queen's speech but he'll get a warm welcome from us. We just hope he doesn't get lost trying to find us. It has been a long time.''

Thieves strip €5,000 of church copper

Thieves stripped thousands of euros worth of copper from a church roof in Connemara.

Gardai have appealed for witnesses following the raid on Realt na Mara church in Lettermullen, Co Galway.

Raiders made their getaway with the copper sacristy roof in the early hours of Thursday morning. An estimated €5,000 worth of copper was removed.

Howlin to close pension-perk loophole

The Minister for Public Sector Reform Brendan Howlin is to abolish a secret €2,400 per annum pension perk enjoyed by retired Taoisigh and former ministers.

In 2011 the pension entitlements of all current public service pensioners earning more than €12,000 per annum were reduced by Mr Howlin.

However, a loophole meant ex-taoisigh and ministers who receive separate ministerial and TD pensions were able to claim that, as these were two separate pensions, the first €12,000 of both pensions should not be reduced.

The effect of this was that -- unlike other public sector retirees -- the first €24,000 of these pensions escaped any form of cut. Those who are entitled to the benefit include multi-pensioned ex-politicians such as Ray Burke, Bertie Ahern, John Bruton, Brian Cowen, Charlie McCreevy, Dermot Ahern, Noel Dempsey, Padraig Flynn, Martin Cullen and Mary Coughlan.

Given that the cut by Mr Howlin in the top rate of public service pensions was 20 per cent, this meant the gross value of yet another perk for multi-pensioned retired office holders was over €2,400 per annum.

Speaking on the matter Mr Howlin noted it was "a far-reaching provision'' which will affect many people and "ensure everybody is treated in the same way''.

The minister also confirmed, when asked for practical examples by FF's Sean Fleming, that the provision would apply to both old and new entrants and would therefore apply to "Bertie Ahern or anybody else''.

Talks on barracks-to-campus plan

Co Cavan Vocational Education Committee (VEC) and the Department of Defence have begun talks on a possible acquisition of the former Army barracks in Cavan town. The Dun Ui Neill barracks were shut down earlier this year and personnel transferred to Dundalk and Athlone.

Cavan VEC chief Colm McEvoy said yesterday that the takeover would depend on agreement on the site's value. The VEC hopes to transform the site into "a further education and training campus" for up to 1,000 students.

Two years ago, Monaghan VEC acquired a former Army barracks that had closed in Monaghan town, and work is now under way on a new education complex on that site.

€40,000 stolen in cash-in-transit raid

Gardai are hunting for an armed raider after €40,000 was stolen in a cash-in-transit robbery in Walkinstown in Dublin yesterday afternoon.

A man, armed with what is believed to be a shotgun and wearing what was described as a "ski mask", targeted a security firm employee carrying the cash box from a service station on the Long Mile Road to a security van.

No shots were fired and no one was injured in the raid -- the fourth armed robbery in the area in the last two days.

One winner of €3m Lotto jackpot

THERE was one winner of last night's €3,084,281 Lotto jackpot. The numbers were 13, 25, 26, 41, 42, 43 (bonus 8).

There were two Match 5+bonus winners who each get €25,000; 31 Match 5s (€2,381 each); 103 Match 4+bonus (€180); 1,732 Match 4s (€66); 2,655 Match 3+bonus (€29); and 29,812 match 3s (€5 scratchcard). The Lotto Plus 1 numbers were 14, 16, 22, 39, 41, 43 (bonus 35) and the Lotto Plus 2 numbers were 1, 4, 5, 18, 26, 29 (bonus 16).

And in the UK Lotto draw for £6.4m the numbers were 13, 27, 29, 42, 43, 46 (bonus 28).

SF calls for troika to back off HSE

Sinn Fein Health spokesperson Caoimhghin O Caolain TD said the Cabinet sub-committee on health must tell the troika to back off on its demands for more cuts.

"The latest report from the troika targets the HSE deficit and there is a drive to impose even more severe cuts in our already struggling public health services," he said. "Cuts imposed in Budget 2012 are unsustainable and the targets set for reduced spending are not realisable.

"The Cabinet sub-committee should tell the troika to 'back off' the health budget. If the Government fails to do this then we can only conclude that the target of health cuts was identified for the troika by the Government itself, making the Government even more culpable in its pursuit of its futile and punitive austerity programme."

New car dealership to create 40 jobs

A new car dealership has announced plans to create 40 new jobs in Cork. Lehane Motors are opening a showroom in Bishopstown next month, representing the Toyota brand. Twenty new jobs will be created immediately and it is hoped 20 more positions will be created by 2014.

Garda Commissioner leaves €90,000

The former Assistant Garda Commissioner and retired UN Police Commissioner Stephen Fanning, who died on December 15, 2011, left €90,667 in his will which went to probate in Dublin last week. Mr Fanning, of Walnut Lawn, Courtlands, Dublin was a native of Roscommon.

Other wills: Elizabeth Tracey, Saval Grove, Dalkey, Dublin, €1,319,921; Margaret Linnane, Albany Road, Ranelagh, Dublin, €1,033,143; David Lineen, horticulturist, Williamstown, Wexford, €917,558; Marcella McKenna, nurse, Carlanstown, Kells, Co Meath, €872,608; Mary Costello, New Inn, Ballinasloe, Co Galway, €734,321.

The value of wills includes property, including the family home, and should not be regarded as cash amounts.

Sunday Independent

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