Maura Harrington jailed for 30 days with recommendation for Psychiatric Assessment

March 12, 2009

Wednesday, 11 March 2009 22:30

Shell to Sea protestor Maura Harrington has been jailed today. She appeared before Belmullet District Court charged with assaulting a member of the Garda Síochána on Mc Grath’s Pier in Poll a Tómáis in north Co Mayo on 11 June 2007.

She was found guilty and ordered to pay a fine of €1,000 and another €1,000 to the garda benevolent fund. Maura Harrington was also found guilty of another public order offence on a separate date and ordered to keep the peace for 12 months.

Harrington refused to sign the bond and was therefore found to be in contempt of court. Judge Mary Devins jailed her for 28 days for the garda assault, and a further two days for being in contempt of court, to run concurrently.
Judge Devins also recommended that Ms Harrington should get a psychiatric assessment.



OECD offer to mediate in Corrib Pipeline dispute

March 12, 2009

The ORGANISATION for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is to offer to mediate between Shell and the north Mayo community over residents’ health and safety concerns over the Corrib gas project.

OECD representatives in the Netherlands and Ireland have made contact with both parties, following confirmation that a complaint lodged by community group Pobal Chill Chomáin is admissible.

The complaint, lodged in 2008 by the local community group, claims that Corrib gas developers Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil Hydro and Marathon Oil have violated OECD guidelines for multinational companies.

The OECD guidelines comprise voluntary principles and standards for “responsible business conduct” by multinational companies. They are non-binding, but have considerable moral authority in the 30 OECD member states.

The complaint was lodged with OECD national contact points in both the Netherlands and Ireland, as Royal Dutch Shell has its headquarters in The Hague.

It is the first time that the Irish national contact point of the OECD has handled a complaint at this level. OECD contact points in Norway and Britain have also been notified by the Dutch and Irish representatives.

The OECD intervention has been welcomed as “very significant” by Pobal Chill Chomáin while Shell EP Ireland made no comment. Pobal Chill Chomáin spokesman Vincent McGrath said that such mediation promised to be far more extensive than that offered late last year under “confined” terms of reference by the Government.

“The key issue with this project is that it has to be examined in its totality in relation to its environmental impact, which the Government has failed to do so far,” he said.

To date, the key community groups have not participated directly in the forum established late last year by Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan and Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív, due to concerns over the terms of reference. It is understood that direct talks with the Ministers may take place in late March.

The Corrib gas developers have recently submitted a revised application for an onshore pipeline route to An Bord Pleanála and are also seeking planning permission for a beach valve station at Glengad, along with relevant ministerial consents.

Earlier this week, Shell EP Ireland also applied to Mayo County Council for a further amendment to original planning permission for the gas refinery at Bellanaboy.

The company plans to lay its offshore pipeline linking the well-head to the landfall at Glengad this summer. It had secured agreement with the Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association last year in relation to discharges into Broadhaven Bay.


Further Information on the case can be found at:

(Courtesy of

Barracks Closures in Border Counties Questionable

March 11, 2009

On January 30th 2009, Longford Barracks was closed. The closure proceeded despite protests by locals, who expressed concerns about the economic impact of the closure on the locality. In January, barracks in Lifford and Letterkenny were closed with Monaghan Barracks also being shut.

The closures were announced on budget day 2008, the four barracks were to be shut by 31 January 2009 and St. Bricin’s Military Hospital in Dublin 7 is to close at a later date. The personnel affected have been re-deployed to other barracks. The total number of personnel involved is approximately 650 military plus 40 civilian personnel.

Gerry Rooney, PDFORRA General secretary stated: “The closures will cause disruption to the soldiers stationed at the barracks concerned and will see between €6 million and €12 million lost to the local economies in north Donegal, Longford and Monaghan. In PDFORRAs view the closures are not necessary and will not contribute any additional money to the Government. Indeed, in the short term it will most likely see an increase in spending to up-grade barracks to accommodate those who are moved as a result of the closures. “

‘The closure of St Bricin’s Hospital and its relocation to the DFTC could see the Defence Forces Medical Corps lose the specialist’s medical services provided by St Bricin’s which would undermine support for Defence Forces operations and the personnel who provide them.’

The main question is, however, given the deteriorating security situation, why four large barracks on the border were closed in the first place. They should be re-opened to ensure effective border security as has been done in the past.


An Bord Pleanála to consider Meath Electricity interconnector plan

March 10, 2009

An Bord Pleanála will today begin a hearing on Eirgrid’s proposals for a 500 megawatt electricity interconnector between Ireland and the UK.

It is proposed that the high voltage line would connect to the UK national grid at Deeside in north Wales and come ashore at Rush in Co Dublin.

The line would then run underground along the road network to Woodland in Co Meath.

Local people have expressed concern on health grounds with large-scale protests taking place in 2008.


Development of National Museum Shelved

March 7, 2009


Long-delayed  plans to develop phase II of the  National Museum project at Collins Barracks, have been suspended because of budgetary restraints. Collins Barracks was assigned to Museum use in 1994 with Phase 1 of the planned exhibitions space opening in September 1997.


 Minister of State for Finance Martin Mansergh stated that the project to extend the museum’s exhibition space has been suspended.  In the Dail, nevertheless,  the Minister insisted that progress on the project was at an “advanced stage”.

He said the Office of Public Works (OPW) was currently finalising tender documents, which would be ready by April 2009. “However, given the current budgetary situation, it will not be possible to progress this project at the present time. The project will proceed as planned when the overall financial situation improves,” he said.

Fine Gael’s spokeswoman on tourism, Olivia Mitchell, said the suspension of the project was a blow to the tourism sector. She said the Asgard yacht, which carried guns used in the 1916 Rising, was due to be a centrepiece of the completed exhibition space. “This is a short-sighted cutback that will end up costing Ireland more in the longer term than it will save immediately,” she said.

“Alongside the financial folly of scrapping revenue-generating projects, there is also the issue that planning permission for the exhibition space will lapse at the end of this year and it is unclear as to how many hoops would have to be jumped through to receive it again.”

Ms Mitchell claimed the plan to develop the project had been “abandoned”. However, an OPW spokesman stated that this was not the case.

It would be unfair to put contractors to the expense of preparing bids without the expectation that the project would proceed immediately or in the short term,” a spokesman said.

Meanwhile, work that will enable Dublin’s Natural History Museum to reopen will be carried out this summer, according to the Office of Public Works (OPW). The museum closed to the public in July 2007 after a staircase collapsed.

An OPW spokesman said the work was now expected to be completed by September 2009.

In December 2008 it emerged that a major renovation plan for the National Museum building had been put on hold because of cutbacks. Some €15 million had been earmarked in the National Development Plan to upgrade the 150-year-old building.

An OPW spokesman stated: “We are preparing a set of works that will be undertaken to get the museum opened.” He elaborated that the OPW were “looking at options that can enable the museum to be open again to the public this year”.


Shares in both AIB & BOI shares fall today despite Government Recapitalisation

February 12, 2009


Market reaction to the Government’s €7 billion recapitalisation of the State’s two largest banks AIB and Bank of Ireland has been muted with shares in both lower today. Some brokers have already questioned if the Government’s capital will be sufficient.

At 3.40pm shares in Allied Irish Bank (AIB) were 7.5 % lfell to 99 cent, having earlier fallen by 15 %. Bank of Ireland (BOI) stock was 8 % to 56 cent.

Under the Government’s plan it will pump €3.5 billion into each bank and get warrants giving it an option to buy a 25 % stake in the lenders. Both banks have welcomed the decision.

Kevin McConnell, head of research at Bloxham Stockbrokers, said the capital injection is “good news insofar that there is a sizable capital injection .. “However, without clarity on either an insurance scheme or the creation of a bad bank, there is still uncertainty over the size of the impact of bad debts on capital levels.”

Davy Stockbrokers analyst Scott Rankin said “investors believe that this will not mark the end of Irish Government intervention and believe it is highly likely that the state will proceed with a bad-bank/insurance scheme in order to fully deal with the problem.”

The Government statement indicates that it is going to further investigate “proposals for the management and reduction of risks”. It is unclear if this will involve further recapitalisation of both banks.

Mr. Rankin went on to state that the recapitalisation was welcome and would give comfort to bond investors and liquidity providers alike, ”it may not represent the end of the government’s involvement.”

On the same day as the announcement of the € 7 billion recapitalisation injection, BOI announced a revision of its impairments forecasts on property loans over the next three years from €3.8 billion to €6 billion, citing the worsening economic climate and rising unemployment.

Bank of Ireland also said it will make a fiscal second-half loss, without giving details, as it increases the amount of money set aside to cover bad loans.

Speaking on RTE’s Morning Ireland the Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan said he believes the Government had correctly judged the required capital level for AIB and Bank of Ireland: ”In terms of capital, I believe we got it right”.

The preference shares issued by AIB & BOI as part of the Government’s recapitalisation will pay a fixed 8 % dividend.  This is lower than the 12 % the Royal Bank of Scotland Group is paying the British government, when the British Government recapitalised in late 2008.

Mr Lenihan stated that he has discussed “management change” at both banks and that the boards of both lenders will retire before their annual general meetings and go forward for re-election. He said it would be “premature” for him to comment on the possible composition of a new board and that the appointment of chief executives at the lenders was a “matter for the board.”

Mr. Lenihan also stated that:

“I’m quite prepared to discuss schemes for assessing and eliminating risk for the bank, but would involve careful protection for the taxpayer.”

Source: Irish Times – February 12th 2009 – “Muted Market Reaction to €7bn racapitalisation plan:

Finance Minister insists that he has behaved in a competent manner in relation to Anglo-Irish Bank

February 12, 2009


Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan has said he has no plans to step down after coming under intense political pressure following his admission that he only learned about the transfer of €7 billion to Anglo Irish Bank last month, even though his department informed the Financial Regulator about the issue last October.

Speaking this morning the Minister said: “I certainly am not considering my position because I have done nothing wrong. “I have behaved in a competent manner as Minister for Finance.”

Mr Lenihan told the Dáil last night that information about the transfer of €7 billion from Irish Life and Permanent (IL&P) to Anglo was contained in a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers to his department last October.

He said his officials had then referred it to the Financial Regulator but had not informed him about it. Stressing that he only learnt about the issue last month, he said the money transfer was not identified as a risk factor in the 720-page report.

This morning Mr Lenihan said: “I wouldn’t fault my department for not telling me at that stage”.

“They did tell me subsequently when the matter came into sharper focus when a subsequent due-diligence exercise was analysing the deposit base of the bank,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland . “I don’t believe my officials should be scapegoated on this matter.

“But I’m not convinced if I had read the passage that its significance would have jumped out at me at that stage because the focus of the report was on risks associated with the loan book of the bank not on accounting matters of accounts transferred between banks”.

The explanation offered is that this €7 billion transfer to Anglo-Irish Bank helped to bolster the bank’s financial strength before its year end last September following deposit withdrawals of €4 billion during the month.

The transaction remained in place for just several weeks and enabled the bank to sustain its deposit levels and disguise the dramatic levels of withdrawals suffered by the bank during the  financial upheaval last September.

The Opposition claims that Mr Lenihan’s credibility had been undermined by his admission. Labour leader Eamon Gilmore stated that he has “no confidence” in the Minister.

“These were the consultants that he appointed to go and find out what was going on in the banks, he didn’t read the information and more importantly didn’t give the information to Dáil Éireann before he proposed that one of the banks Anglo Irish Bank be nationalised,” he said.


Irish Times: Thursday, February 12, 2009: ‘I have behaved in a competent manner’, Lenihan insists