A portion of the millions of euro seized from criminals, including the sale of John Gilligan's Jessbrook Equestrian Centre, should be ploughed back into the local comm-unities most affected by the scourge of illegal drugs, according to Emer Costello MEP. She has called on Justice Minister Alan Shatter to commit to the social re-use of seized criminal assets in advance of the European Parliament vote on the Seizure of Criminal Assets Directive next Tuesday.
She said she believes at least a portion of the €54m seized assets and €137m recovered taxes, should be invested into the communities damaged by organised crime. Ms Costello, who has worked on the European Parliament's Committee on Organised Crime, Corruption and Money Laundering, said that one of the key areas where she would like to see social re-use of the proceeds of criminal assets is in youth development and support. "Disproportionate spending and quality interventions are needed at an early age to give children in disadvantaged communities the skills and opportunities to desist from criminal activity," she said.
"Regeneration, better housing and investment in community safety are all desirable, but meaningful programmes need money and commitment behind them. The scale of the investment required by some of Ireland's most damaged communities goes far beyond the capacity of the current Exchequer."
Ms Costello wants the directive, if passed, transposed into Irish law so that a percentage of the funds from confiscated assets will be ring-fenced for damaged communities.
ROBINSON TO BE HONOURED IN BIRTHPLACE
Lennox Robinson (1886-1958) Abbey playwright, pacifist and patriot, will be honoured in his birthplace, Douglas Village, Cork, next weekend, during the first Lennox Robinson Literary Festival, February 28 to March 2.
The son of a Church of Ireland clergyman, Robinson became an ardent nationalist after seeing WB Yeats's Cathleen Ni Houlihan at the Cork Opera House in 1907. He went on to write scores of popular plays for the Abbey Theatre, notably The Whiteheaded Boy, Drama at Inish and The Big House.
The festival will be opened by Eoghan Harris, with readings by Ronnie McGinn, Billy O'Callaghan and children from St Columba's and St Luke's schools. The Lord Mayor of Cork, Catherine Clancy, will unveil a portrait of Robinson by London-based painter, Bernard Canavan in Douglas Library on Saturday, March 2 at 11am.
PLANS FOR CHORAL FESTIVAL ARE UNDER WAY
Plans for the 2014 Navan Choral Festival are well advanced. Entries for piano, solo singing, primary, secondary schools and adult choir competitions are now being processed. Closing date for entries is March 31.