The man convicted of murdering two soldiers at Massereene Barracks in 2009 will die behind bars, his defense team have conceded.
At a tariff hearing at Belfast Crown Court last week Brian Shivers' barrister admitted that there were few redeeming features in the case.
Addressing Justice Hart he said: "There is nothing I can say to mitigate the seriousness of these offences and the consequences for all the victims, especially the bereaved."
He added: "Mr Shivers' life expectancy, according to the most eminent expert in the field, is four to five years.
“This means that effectively he will never see the outside of a prison save perhaps that he needs hospital treatment or compassionate leave in extreme circumstances."
O'Connor said that, in some cases, limited life expectancy can provide 'significant mitigation'.
However he accepted that Justice Hart will be bound to impose a minimum term which is longer than Shivers is expected to live.
“We cannot overcome that disparity," he said.
Shivers (46), from Magherafelt, suffers from cystic fibrosis. He was granted bail on medical grounds after his arrest in 2009 until he was found guilty of murdering Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey at a non-jury trial in Antrim last month.
(Source: or Antrim Guardian)s
Belfast High Court heard last week how pensioners’ homes were targeted in burglaries carried out by an organized gang.
Four raids were carried out on the same day throughout Down and Armagh. The court was told jewelry was stolen from a property in Dromore belonging to a couple in their 60s.
An hour later three men using false identification to claim they were from the Water Service gained access to the home of an 87-year-old woman on the Greencastle Road, Kilkeel. They left after the victim became suspicious and checked their vehicle.
Later the same day an 81-year-old man at Mill Street, Tandragee refused entry to two men claiming they were in the area to rent property.
Less than half an hour after that, a 97-year-old woman let a man into her home at Ballymore Road in the village.
Although hearing difficulties prevented her from understanding the man, the court heard he went into a bedroom before a second man appeared.
When the intruders left the pensioner noticed her handbag and £200 in cash was missing.
Five elephants went for a stroll around town last week and were so impressed they even had a look at the local property market.
The elephants are in town as part of the Courtney Brothers Circus and were brought on an impromptu walkabout last Tuesday afternoon.
Men, women and children were shocked and delighted to see the larger-than-life animals parading through the streets of Carlow town. And there was plenty of laughs as the elephants stopped to have a look in the window of McCormack Properties on Tullow Street, maybe setting their sights on a permanent home here.
(Source: The Carlow Nationalist)
The former Cavanman in London columnist with The Anglo-Celt has caused quite a stir following the publication of an article in which he claims he was sexually abused in the De La Salle national school in Cavan town but declares 'it did me do harm'.
John McEntee told The Anglo-Celt that he had received quite a bit of reaction to the piece, which was published in 'The Oldie', Richard Ingrams' humorous monthly magazine in Britain. He claims that he, and a few friends were "fiddled with" by a brother (Francis) in the school in the 60s.
McEntee emphasized that he was not trying to trivialize sexual abuse and concedes that what happened to him and others in the class "was wrong" but explains that he was far greater affected by physical abuse at the hands of another brother (Cyril) in the school.
"We were battered around the classroom, it was far more frightening," he said. "It's just another perspective. We had this older brother for Irish in the afternoon and I would go home and be banging my head against the wall and be covered in lumps and telling my mother that I had a headache to try and get out of the class," recalls John.
(Source: The Anglo Celt)
The Cliffs of Moher outperformed the country last year when it came to the percentage increase in tourist numbers.
Between 2010 and 2011 the number of people visiting the North Clare attraction went up by more than 12% compared to a national increase in tourist numbers of just 7% in the same period.
“Part of the reason for this increase in numbers at the Cliffs was that the overall number of tourists visiting the country grew and that might have been down to the exchange rate and also the fact that we have seen some improvement in the global economy,” explained Katherine Webster, director of the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience.
“The fact the Cliffs of Moher received publicity from the New 7 Wonders campaign as well as from a number of movies we have been involved in, including Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Burke and Hare and Leap Year which although it was not filmed at the Cliffs, everyone said it was, so all of those factors would have tied into driving additional visitor number.”
(Source: The Clare Champion)
It has emerged that there were problems with one of the two engines on the passenger plane which crashed in Cork in February 2011.
Ireland's Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) has released an interim report on the crash.
Six people died when the plane being used by Manx2 crashed on approach to Cork airport after flying from Belfast.
The AAIUI have said they cannot yet issue a final report on what caused the crash.
The interim report gives more detail on the operation of the plane's engines. The aircraft was a 19-year-old Fairchild Metroliner.
It says that no pre-accident defects were identified in the plane's engines.
However, the report notes that: "There was a mismatch between the torques being delivered by the two engines."
The torque delivered by the number two engine on the plane exceeded that being delivered by number one engine by up to 5%.
Source: (BBC News)
A preliminary investigation hearing is to take place at Magherafelt Magistrate’s Court in Co. Derry next month to determine if there is enough evidence to prosecute a priest who is charged with a number of child sex abuse offences.
Fr. Eugene Boland (65) faces four charges of indecently assaulting a female child. He’s alleged to have committed the four offences between June 28, 1990 and June 30, 1992, while he was ministering in a parish in Derry.
Fr. Boland, whose address was given as the Parochial House, Killyclogher Road in Omagh, stepped down as parish priest of Killyclogher last year when a child welfare investigation started.
(Source: Derry Journal)
Five hundred and thirty seven people bought cars in Donegal in January this year. The Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) has released the January car sales figures which show a 1.5 per cent increase on last year. January is crucial period for the motor industry as 50 per cent of new car sales occur in the first quarter of each year.
There were 21,313 new cars sold in January, an increase of 314 on January 2011 (20,999). 3,057 of which were bought under the Government Scrappage Scheme, which ended last June. Donegal ranked in eleventh place nationally in relation to car purchase followed closely by Louth and preceded by Kerry.
(Source: Donegal Democrat)
A house in Saintfield, County Down has been named BBC Northern Ireland's House Of The Year.
Drew and Pamela Wylie's Contemporary Barn picked up this year's overall title, beating off tough competition from 11 other homes across Northern Ireland in the grand final shown on BBC One Northern Ireland last Monday night.
The couple received their bespoke locally designed trophy at a ceremony hosted by series presenter, Laurence Llewelyn Bowen, in the BBC's Blackstaff Studios in Belfast,
(Source: BBC News)
Dublin gardai arrested seven men in connection with separate seizures of drugs worth a combined €1.64m last week.
In Ballyboughal, North Co Dublin, detectives from the Garda National Drugs Unit raided an industrial unit and discovered a cannabis cultivation facility.
Gardai seized about 1,500 cannabis plants with an estimated street value of €600,000 and freshly harvested herbal cannabis worth €240,000.
A man in his 20s, two others in their 30s and a man in his 40s were arrested and detained.
Separately, detectives from the GNDU carried out a search of an apartment in Inchicore in the south city area.
During the operation, some 60,000 ecstasy tablets herbal cannabis, cocaine and heroine worth an estimated €650,000 were seized.
Two men, aged in their 30s and 50s, were arrested.
(Source: The Evening Herald)
Police are trying to solve the mystery of how a runaway raccoon more commonly seen on the beaches of South America has ended up in Co Fermanagh.
Rocky, as he has been nicknamed, was discovered last week on a farm in Derrylin.
He's a ring-tailed coati, which is a member of the raccoon family - and despite his cute looks and friendly demeanor he is classified as a dangerous wild animal.
(Source: UTV News)
Four out of 10 third level students in Galway said they knew someone who had been a victim of domestic violence in the most comprehensive study of its kind undertaken in the city.
But, with 87% of those surveyed believing that abuse would never happen to them, charities working with victims on the ground believe that there needs to be far greater awareness of the extent of the problem in the city.
Local charities have noticed a “significant increase” in the number of physical, emotional and sexual abuse cases in Galway since the onset of the recession and believe there is a long way to go before people realize the full extent of the problem.
(Source: GalwayBay Fm)
An Irishman is still claiming disability benefits in the UK after winning over $16 million in the lottery.
Michael O’Shea, who grew up in Co.Kerry and resides in Nottingham, made headlines in October 2005 when he and his wife Jean won £10.2million on the Euro millions lotto jackpot.
Since becoming a millionaire overnight, the father of three has been paid almost $50,000 (£31,500) in disability benefit, the Daily Mail reports.
However the 72-year-old retired builder is doing nothing illegal, as the allowance is not means-tested.
"We've nothing to hide. I worked for 40 years and I'm entitled to it," O'Shea told The Sun newspaper.
When the lucky couple scooped the jackpot over six years ago, they told the media, “we’ll never be any different, no matter how much money we have.”
(Source: Irish Central)
A Newbridge woman who opened her front door to a child who seemed to be “distressed and crying” was later horrified to discover that she had been the victim of a robbery.
The incident occurred at The Grange on Friday evening 3 February at around 7.45pm and, while the woman was at the door speaking to the child, her son came downstairs to find a man in the kitchen. The man then fled, taking a small amount of cash with him.
(Source: The Kildare Nationalist)
An elaborate cannabis-growing operation was discovered by gardai in Freshford last Wednesday morning.
After a lengthy surveillance operation gardai from Waterford and Kilkenny swooped on the growhouse and seized an estimated €28,000 worth of cannabis plants.
The two-storey house was described as a ‘ cannabis cultivation factory’ by an investigating garda. The cannabis c facility together with sophisticated watering, heating and lighting systems were uncovered at a house in the rural, remote townsland of Scart in Freshford. A number of cannabis plants at various stages of maturity were discovered at the property.
(Source: Kilkenny People)
There is the potential to create an additional 1,500 sustainable jobs in the Portarlington area in the next eight years.
That was the message sent out last Thursday night at the launch of the Portarlington Vision 2020. For the past number of months, Portarlington Community Development Association engaged in extensive consultation in the area, gauging the reaction of people as to how they could generate local employment.
The findings of their views were harnessed and launched in their vision for the area for the next eight years.
(Source: Leinster Express)
Leitrim County Council has recently unveiled the North West’s very first Public Charge Point for electric vehicles. The charge point is located alongside the wall towards the rear of the Council Headquarters, Carrick-on-Shannon, opposite the entrance to Carrick Craft.
This Charge Point will provide electric vehicles with full charge, which takes between 6 to 8 hours, depending on the type of vehicle. It can charge two vehicles simultaneously and is the first to be put in place in the North West.
(Source: Leitrim Observer)
Staff at Limerick City Council work an average of 34.17 hours a week, a new survey has shown.
Despite last year’s deadline forcing public service workers to increase their hours under the Croke Park agreement, staff based in City Hall are still working less than 35 hours a week, according to a survey commissioned by the Irish Independent.
In comparison, staff in the private sector work a 39-hour week.'
There are around 400 staff still working at City Hall.
(Source: Limerick Leader)
A well known Co Longford Irish dancing school teacher has told of her horror at returning to find her home robbed just hours after appearing on popular RTE gameshow ‘Winning Streak’.
Susan Bransfield said she could not believe her eyes when she discovered raiders had made off with some of her most prized personal possessions on the same day she won over €50,000 in cash prizes.
The mother of four also spoke of how the events of the past week have left her two youngest children, Shannon (15) and Conor (10) living in fear.
“They won’t stay in the house now on their own,” she candidly revealed. “I have tried, but how do you tell a 10-year-old they (raiders) won’t come back?”
(Source: Longford Leader)
It has been reported that glamour girl Louise Kavanagh, who has strong roots in Dundalk, is to relinquish her Playboy outfit after a year working as a ‘bunny’ in London.
Louise spoke last year about how much she was looking forward to her new job, but she has been offered a new carrot with a career as a DJ.
The buxom brunette said she loved her new job last year. She shot to fame after earning the accolade of Boylesports Bikini Babe in 2009 for being the most pictured Irish model in a bikini in the national press that summer. But she insisted that the Playboy uniform was quite tame.
The 25-year-old is daughter of former Dundalk Democrat journalist Conor, now a producer on Pat Kenny’s radio show on RTÉ and niece of Blackrock-based photographer Paula Kavanagh.
(Source: Dundalk Democrat)
Speculation is growing that Mayo could play host to one of the celebrity weddings of the year - that of English footballer Frank Lampard and TV star Christine Bleakley.
There have been repeated rumors around the county since before Christmas that the wedding reception of the famous pair will take place in Ashford Castle in Cong.
And when The Mayo News contacted the hotel for comment, they refused to deny it.
“We really couldn’t comment either way. That is all I can say,” said a tight-lipped Ashford Hotel Manager, Catherine Kenny.
(Source: The Mayo News)
Navan's failure to secure a share of €23 million Smarter Travel sustainable transport initiative funding has caused bitter disappointment in the town, which spent €80,000 on its bid for the competition.
Navan Town Council learned last week that its bid was unsuccessful and the towns of Westport, Limerick and Dungarvan will now share the €23 million prize over a five-year period on sustainable travel initiatives.
The entire community in Navan had got behind the Smarter Travel bid which was submitted in April 2010, and a record was set by local primary school's for Ireland's longest 'walking bus'.
Navan was one of 11 towns shortlisted under the National Competition for Smarter Travel funding. Funding for the program initially was €50m, but due to the economic climate, this was reduced to €23m.
(Source: The Meath Chronicle)
A jury was ordered by a Central Criminal Court judge to acquit a man accused of taking part in the gang rape of a pregnant woman in Co Monaghan.
Two other men are still charged with raping and imprisoning the woman in her home and beating her boyfriend unconscious.
All three had pleaded not guilty to all counts.
The attacks are alleged to have taken place between November 15th and 19th, 2010.
(Source: Irish Times)
A little Offaly boy could get his wish to walk this week as he prepares for a life changing operation in the USA.
Oran Molloy from Birr arrived in the county last Friday. This week he will undergo the operation, which could see him stand, walk or even ride his bike, at the St Louis’s Children’s hospital on Valentine’s Day February 14.
The four year old suffers from a condition called Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy, which means that the young boy can’t stand or walk without assistance.
The family first contacted the hospital in July 2011 to see if their son would be a suitable candidate for a Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy [SDR]. By August, they had been advised that he was accepted for the treatment.
It was then the family began the mammoth task of fundraising the €50,000 for their son’s operation as neither medical insurance or the Health Service Executive [HSE] were in a position to contribute to the huge cost of the operation, which involves the sectioning of some of the sensory nerve fibers that come from the muscles and enter the spinal cord.
And all going well for Oran on Tuesday, he will be in hospital for five days and after that he will visit the hospital twice a day for three weeks for intensive physiotherapy.
. (Source: Offaly Express)
A serial fraudster who drove a stolen car with a garda holding on to the bonnet for 500 meters was jailed for three years last week.
Conman Frankie Shanley, 36, told Ennis Circuit Court that he wants to move on with his life.
“I am in a situation for the first time in my life that when I do get released, I have nothing over my head and I can move on with my life – which is all I want to do.”
Judge Carroll Moran imposed Shanley, of Co Roscommon, with a three-year jail term for the incident, where he drove a stolen black BMW with Sergeant Joe Fallon on the bonnet. Sgt Fallon, who was not in uniform, had been chasing the crook.
Shanley was arrested on 2 March last year in east Clare, ending a two-year, nationwide trawl for him.
e pleaded guilty to taking a car without the owner’s consent, dangerous driving, giving a misleading statement to gardaí and refusing to stop the vehicle when asked by a garda at Cappa, Whitegate.
(Source: The Roscommon Champion)
Almost fifty years after the Ard-na-veigh housing estate had been built, it still has not been taken in charge, the Borough Council meeting heard.
Councillor Matt Lyons said he was "astounded" to learn this was the case.
Proposing that a report on the condition of the estate be prepared with a view to taking it in charge, Clr. Lyons stated that the 'first road' at Ard-na-veigh as it was known was built in 1963.
The Borough Council had never carried out any repairs on the estate over the years and a concrete road and footpaths would continue to deteriorate further if nothing was done.
(Source: The Sligo Champion)
The general level of crime around has dropped, according to figures released by Supt Bob Noonan to Nenagh Joint Policing Committee last Monday.
Supt Noonan told the committee that “we can talk about the statistics all night, but at the end of the day it all comes down a lot of good being done. But we can’t succeed on our own”.
Crime across all categories was down last year, with the exception of break-ins.
While stating that property crime, in general, was down 12 per cent, a drop of 52 such incidents, break-ins was the one crime that increased.
(Source: Tipperary Star)
Lawyers have asked a judge to dismiss the case against two men accused of attacking a referee after the controversial 2010 Leinster football final because he has withdrawn his complaint.
Martin Sludden had been confronted by Louth fans after he allowed a goal to Meath in the closing seconds of the crucial match at Croke Park.
The Co Tyrone-based referee later admitted he was wrong to award the score, which cost Louth the Leinster Championship.
Joseph Conlon (23), and Paul Grimes (50), have denied charges of assaulting Mr Sludden at Croke Park on July 11, 2010.
(Source: Irish Independent)
A one-year-old mare died as a result of severe malnourishment, despite the best efforts of Waterford Animal Welfare and a vet who battled to save her life.
WAW received a tip off of a horse in a weak and emaciated state in fields close to Tesco Ballybeg on Sunday week. On arrival at the scene they were distraught to find the horse in a totally dehydrated and emaciated state. The horse was so weak it couldn’t stand to its feet and it took four people to move her into a trailer.
(Source: Waterford News & Star)
Two men have been arrested in Co Westmeath following the discovery of cannabis plants worth an estimated €500,000.
Gardaí investigating the cultivation of drugs in the midland region made the discovery when they raided an industrial unit on the outskirts of Mullingar last week.
The search uncovered “a grow house” operation, a Garda spokesman said.
(Source: Westmeath Independent)
A major Garda operation that lasted for more than 20 hours was brought to a conclusion last Tuesday in Co Wexford when armed gardaí forced their way into a house where a man had been holed up. The man, in his 30s, was arrested and questioned.
The incident began at about 6pm on Monday, February 6th when the man shut his parents out of the family home at Old Boley, Barntown, Co Wexford.
His parents became concerned for his welfare and rang gardaí.
(Source: The Irish Times)
A Wicklow company is among the 15 businesses nationwide awarded funding under Enterprise Ireland's Competitive Start Fund.
Steven Lock of Monford Ag Systems was present at the announcement made last week by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD.
Monford Ag Systems have developed a smart phone application which allows farmers to monitor grass growth and grassland management. It also helps to carry out analysis on herd management, milk output and other important farming aspects.
The purpose of the Competitive Start Fund is to accelerate the growth of start-up companies that have the capability to succeed in global markets.
(Source: The Wicklow People)