Ireland's Eye - a round up of top Irish news stories


Ready to Run

The Bare Your Soul Nearly Naked Run for Valentine’s Day was launched last week in Dublin, in aid of, an online mental health community providing peer and professional support, and The Irish Heart Foundation.

A Cold Court

A reading of minus one Celsius was recorded in Athy District Court on Tuesday of last week after Judge Desmond Zaidan called a halt to proceedings for 20 minutes and ordered Gardai (police) to bring back a thermometer.

Zaidan rose from the bench to allow all present to go and warm up with a hot drink while Gardai went in search for the thermometer.

A reading of minus one degree was recorded inside the courthouse at 12:45 p.m. by Inspector Jim Doyle despite a sophisticated underfloor heating system installed in the landmark building.

“The reading is minus one from the thermometer,” he said. “It’s actually warmer outside than it is inside.”

Zaidan said to work in such conditions was “unacceptable.”

“It is unacceptable to work in these conditions and especially for members of the public to work in these conditions. It’s freezing.”

He also said his chamber was colder than the main body of the court, but he refused to adjourn the whole sitting and later in the afternoon the temperature went up one degree.

He added that there had been an issue with the timer on the heating system, and that the court caretaker had done his best.

Meanwhile members of the public, solicitors and the press wore their hats, scarves and kept their coats on throughout the day.

-Leinster Leader

Tragic Avalanche Death

Tributes have poured in for the Coleraine junior doctor who died in an avalanche in the Scottish mountains two weekends ago.

Una Rachel Finnegan, 25, was killed with three of her friends when an artificial cliff of snow and ice gave way underneath them on Bidean Nam Bian in Glencoe. The four climbers were swept 1,000 feet down to the bottom of the mountain, where they were smothered by ice and snow.  One other man escaped with minor head injuries and a woman remains critically ill in hospital with severe head injuries.

News of Finnegan's death was met with shock when her name was released as one of the climbers who had perished in the freak accident.  Finnegan, described by her former vice principal as a "very bright and talented young student," was a keen climber, and the group she was with were said to be experienced winter walkers.

The daughter of retired Causeway Hospital consultant Dr. Owen Finnegan, she had been living in Edinburgh, where she was following in her father's footsteps by working as a junior doctor in the city.

-Coleraine Chronicle

17 Convicted of Benefit Fraud

The scale of benefit fraud in Dungannon, Cookstown and Magherafelt was made clear last week as new figures revealed over £150,000 was falsely paid to claimants convicted of benefit fraud in the last year.

A total of 17 people were convicted of fraud. Among those convicted was a 30-year-old woman from the Dungannon area who claimed £26,381.27 in income support despite being in work. For the offence she received a two year prison term suspended for three years.

In April last year a 50-year-old man from Mid-Ulster received a nine month prison term suspended for two years after being convicted of falsely claiming £29,988.11 in incapacity benefit when he was working.

Other cases include a 34-year-old man from the Cookstown area who falsely claimed £14,439.67 in Income Support while working, and a 32-year-old woman from the Dungannon area who received 200 hours of community service plus an order to pay court costs of £58 after claiming benefits worth £8,287.95 while in work. 

Throughout Northern Ireland there were 592 convictions for benefit fraud in the time period. The total amount fraudulently claimed was £4.5 million and may have accumulated over a number of years.

Sinn Fein's Bronwyn McGahan said that some people could be falsely claiming benefits as a result of the recession.

“Benefit fraud is illegal and should not be happening, but I believe that many people who are normally law abiding are been forced into taking this action more due to need rather than greed," she said.

“The current dire economic situation and the Tory welfare cuts are putting people into poverty and some are unfortunately taking a chance to claim monies that they are not entitled to.”

-Tyrone Courier                      

Student Intimidated by Twin Bullies

A student at Davitt College in Castlebar is allegedly being so intimidated by twin brothers that he can’t sleep at night.  The horrifying ordeal suffered by the teenager was outlined by Councilor Michael Kilcoyne at a meeting of the Castlebar Joint Policing Committee (JPC).