Break from the bank

A Co. Limerick father of four has told Kilmallock Court that he can't afford to pay the €200 per month sought by ACC Bank. The court heard that the Hospital man owes the bank €12,000, and ACC made an application for an installment order for €200 per month.

But the man told the court that he could not afford this sum at present as most of his wages went on heating the house and on basics for his young children.

The court heard that he is a married man with four children aged four, five, six and seven. He is in full time employment and the family has a net income of €680 per week.

The man's solicitor, Audrey Browne, asked him what his main outgoings were.

"We live in a very old house in Hospital. It's a cottage over a 100 years old and has no central heating," he said.

The majority of their money is spent on coal and gas, "basic stuff for the kids" and insurance for their car.

They had two cars, but one was repossessed because they couldn't afford the payments.

The court heard that the mortgage on their house was in arrears, but they were in talks with their bank about getting it extended.  Browne said her client spent no money on luxuries.

"They don't go out. They have four very young children and everything they do is for their children. They literally have no money," said Browne.

Judge Aeneas McCarthy asked the man how much he could afford.

"Fifty a month, and in time when we get on top of things we can reassess the situation," he replied.

McCarthy accepted this offer.
- Limerick Leader

Fake fire costs

Malicious pranksters who make hoax calls to the fire service in Meath are costing the county council in excess of €40,000 a year.

As the fire service approaches its busiest time of the year at Halloween, firefighters and council officials have warned that those who make malicious calls could be putting lives in danger and could face serious penalties as all calls are recorded and are traceable.

Meath Fire & Rescue Service’s senior assistant fire officer Padraig O Longaigh said that, every year, 20% of calls to the service are false alarms, although most of those are from well-intentioned members of the public who believe a genuine emergency exists.

However, there is also a problem with malicious calls being made to the service, and there were 40 such hoax calls last year.

There have also been two cases where firefighters were injured when attacked when they answered calls to “deliberately engineered” fires.
“Thankfully, incidents where violence is used against firemen is rare, but the malicious calls are very frustrating and are a huge waste of resources,” he said.

He warned those involved in making hoax calls that all cases will be investigated, the calls are recorded and are traceable.

“The culprits will face heavy fines and the substantial fee for calling out the service,” he said.

O Longaigh appealed to those responsible to stop and to think of the people they are putting at risk. “They may have called us out for nothing, while there is a serious crash somewhere, where people need our help,” he added.

He said that, at Halloween, station officers will travel ahead of fire crews to check that calls are genuine, but he warned those making the hoax calls to think again.

Meath County Council director of service, Brendan McGrath, pointed out that it costs up to €1,000 a time to roll out a fire tender, money that could be used for other services.  
-Meath Chronicle

Indian summer

People all across Northern Ireland have been making the most of the glorious autumn sunshine.

Anyone who could took the opportunity to get out in the fresh air and feel the sun on their skin on Monday, while bookworms and dog walkers made the most of the mild weather in Ulster's parks and green spaces.

Women taking part in the Belfast Telegraph Runner event at Stormont over the weekend remarked how lucky they had been to get such dry and bright weather for the race.

Gemma Plum, a forecaster with Meteogroup, said the maximum weekend temperature of 21 Celsius was above average for this time of year, but things are now set to fall in line with more typical October weather.

“The week ahead looks to be quite dry with some cloud and just a few spots of rain.

“Today (Tuesday) there will be a maximum temperature of 17 Celsius, but as the week progresses this will drop down to about 14C.”
Unfortunately, the gorgeous autumn weather isn’t set to last, as the rain is set to make an unwelcome return next week.

Ms Plum added, “From the beginning of next week Northern Ireland will start to see persistent rain.”
-Belfast Telegraph
File sharing okay

A landmark High Court judgment has found that laws to identify and cut off Internet users illegally copying music files are not enforceable in Ireland.

The court found it was not possible for Internet service providers to stop people illegally downloading music despite claims from the record industry that it is losing €20 million a year.

In their action, five record companies -- EMI Records (Ireland), Sony Music Entertainment (Ireland), Universal Music Ireland, Warner Music Ireland and WEA International -- said it wanted Internet service provider UPC to operate a system that would cut Internet access from users illegally downloading music.

Mr. Justice Peter Charleton said f he could have granted the injunction to crack down on access to sites such as Pirate Bay, he would have done so. But he said Irish laws did not allow him to as they were not in full compliance with EU directives.

UPC, the country’s third-largest Internet service provider, had said it was a "mere conduit" and could not be held liable for the actions of those using its services.

In his judgment, Charleton said, "I do not accept any of the evidence from UPC as to its unawareness of this process."

But he said, "I cannot grant the injunction because I have no legal power to do so."

Following the ruling, a spokesman for the Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA) said it had not ruled out a Supreme Court appeal, and the companies reserved the right to seek compensation from the state for past and continuing losses.

Director general of IRMA Dick Doyle said, "We will now look to the Irish government to fully vindicate the constitutional rights of copyright holders and we reserve the right to seek compensation for the past and continuing losses from the state."

One of the groups mentioned by the judge in his ruling, rock band Aslan, said they lost out on 30,000 album sales to online piracy. Billy McGuinness of the band said, "It’s a sad day."

Eircom, the country’s largest Internet service provider, agreed an out-of-court deal last year to tackle music piracy. It is understood 5,000 notifications have been sent out to Eircom customers every month since a pilot phase began last July.

A spokesman for Communications Minister Eamon Ryan said he would be seeking to resolve the issue alongside Enterprise Minister Batt O’Keeffe. "The minister will be inviting representatives from the music industry and internet service providers into his department to formulate an agreed approach,” he said.
-Irish Examiner

Racist abuse

A black Dublin bus driver told a judge that racist remarks from passengers were a "normal and daily experience" on the buses.

Olayinka Egbesakin told Dublin Bus solicitor Gerard O'Herlihy that one woman passenger had described him as "a monkey" after he had asked her if she had over-ridden her stop. He told the Circuit Civil Court he felt bad on the day it had happened and later, mistakenly, had asked another passenger, Maria Davis, if she had been on his bus earlier when the incident occurred.

He told Judge Jacqueline Linnane he immediately realized his mistake when Davis, of Cabra West, Dublin, told him she had not been on the bus. "I was mistaken and I immediately apologized but it is part of my job to keep a check on fares," he said.

He told the court the woman who had called him a monkey earlier that day had been wearing a dress similar in color to the outfit Davis was wearing.

Egbesakin told O'Herlihy he had not accused Davis or her friend, Caroline Laney, of anything.

Davis had sued Dublin Bus in a €38,000 claim for defamation of character. She said she felt people on the bus believed she was a fare evader.

Judge Linnane dismissed Davis's claim with costs against her.
-Evening Herald