Soldier in Trouble

An Irish soldier bit off part of a man’s nose in a dispute over urinating outside a takeaway shop, the High Court heard.

But Barry Fitzgerald, who has served on peacekeeping missions around the world, denies any racial element to the incident in Derry, his lawyer stressed.

The 24-year-old, with an address at Foxhill in the city, faces a charge of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent.  He was granted bail on condition that he stays out of Derry and surrenders his passport.

Prosecutors claimed Fitzgerald launched his attack after being challenged about urinating in the street near Waterloo Place on April 14.

It was alleged that he leaned into a car and bit the victim on the face and back.

A judge was told part of the nose was bitten off and had to be surgically reattached.
During a subsequent struggle Fitzgerald allegedly punched the injured man’s head up to 10 times.

According to a prosecution lawyer, he admitted to police having bitten the victim, calling him a “foreign c***.”

The lawyer confirmed officers were treating the attack as racially motivated.
Fitzgerald made a counter-allegation of having been threatened and assaulted.

His barrister, Paul Kearney, said he suffered hearing loss and tinnitus due to punches received.
Kearney confirmed Fitzgerald accepted carrying out the biting but emphatically denies making any racial comment.

He revealed that his client has been in the Irish Army for seven years, following on from his father and grandfather in a line of family service.

Fitzgerald is currently suspended from duties, with his military career on hold until the case is dealt with.

“This is a man who has served in war zones and peacekeeping missions all over the world.  He has been committed to all sorts of nations, creeds and colors,” said Kearney in rejecting the racist claim.

Granting bail, Justice Treacy described the alleged offence as “dreadful” but ruled that any risk of interference with the case can be avoided.

The judge ordered Fitzgerald to live at an address just across the border in Co. Donegal.  He also imposed a £1,000 cash surety and a ban on any contact with the alleged victim.
- Derry Journal

Brilliant Brothers

Limerick's youngest multi-millionaire brothers, the Collisons, came back home from Silicon Valley this week to launch their online payment services business, Stripe, in Ireland.

Valued at $500 million by technology analysts in the U.S., Stripe is backed by Peter Thiel, the first investor in Facebook and a founder of PayPal.

However, the former Castletroy College students, who shot to prominence in their teenage years, said they have no plans to sell the company, which currently employs over 60 people, and want to focus on expanding their international operations.

After leaving places in prestigious American colleges -- at MIT and Harvard -- to work on their start-up firms, they went on to sell their first company, Auctomatic, to Canadian firm Live Current Media in 2008 for $5 million.

“We were lucky enough where we had the experience of selling a technology company pretty early in our careers and we saw what that is, and I guess straight afterwards you want to get back to solving meaningful problems with people you admire and enjoy working with. That’s what we get to do with Stripe,” said Patrick Collison.

The 24-year-old said it is impossible at this time to put a true value on their company, which allows businesses to easily accept cash online, as it is still in its infancy.

“Internet company valuations tend to rise as well as fall, so this very much remains a hypothetical number,” he said of the company’s reputed $500 million worth. Earlier estimates put the company at a $1 billion valuation.

“We’ve been very lucky, in that we’re coming up to the second anniversary of our public launch and there has been a huge adoption of Stripe at a much faster rate than we expected. It’s not because we have any kind of slick marketing or clever way of selling it to people,” he said.

The company is based in San Francisco, but Ireland is the first euro zone country in which it has officially launched the service.

It is already available to businesses in U.S., Canada, U.K. and Ireland, while it is in beta testing in a number of other countries, including Australia.

While PayPal offers a similar service, Collison said “it never really advanced since the last Internet bubble”.

The long-term goal is to make Stripe available in every country in the world, many of which have no good options for merchant online transactions other than banks.

He said when they started the company he and his brother John, 22, worked “all day, every day,” which he feels is not sustainable in the long term.

He said they are not motivated by money “but love working with people building new things and exploring new ideas.”

On the day of its Irish launch, John Collison said they got the idea for Stripe while working in a 100 square foot office in the Technological Park in Limerick on their first web venture.
“The next ten years of Irish tech businesses will be really exciting to behold,” John Collison said.
- Limerick Leader

Shannon Rats

“Rats the size of cats” are causing issues for residents in various parts of Shannon.

A meeting of the town council last week heard of one case where a child could be let play on a lawn because of the amount of vermin. The size might be a slight exaggeration but the scale of the problem isn’t.

The matter was raised by Councilor Cathy McCafferty, who called on Clare County Council to “take urgent and immediate action to address the rodent problem in Aidan and Finian Parks that is a cause of much concern for residents.”

She said several people have contacted her about the issue. “Over the summer, we had a number of complaints over the rat infestation in Aidan and Finian Parks and nothing appears to have been done.”

The councilor wasn’t impressed with the response shown by Clare County Council.  “I understand that one of the engineers responded to a complaint, but his solution was to tell residents to keep their windows and doors closed. This is an acknowledgement that there is a problem, but it is not the solution residents want or deserve,” McCafferty said.
- The Clare Champion

Unhygienic Hospital

AN overflowing sanitary waste disposal bin, dirty emergency department dressing trolleys and a “generally unclean” emergency department greeted Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) inspectors who visited Tullamore hospital last May, it has emerged.

A new HIQA report highlighted a number of issues raised by officials who made an unannounced visit to the Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore in May.

The hospital, along with hospitals in Mullingar and Portiuncula, is the main medical center for people from the Westmeath region.

Inspectors found a patient with a suspected transmissible infection being cared for in a room with no hand washing facilities, and found hand hygiene practice lacking, reporting that 19 out of 25 hand hygiene opportunities were taken during the visit.

As a result, the report stated that a culture of hand hygiene practice at the hospital is “not embedded at all levels” and posed a minor risk of the spread of infections.The visit found that unclean equipment and an unclean environment in the hospital’s emergency department that put patients at a moderate risk of healthcare associated infections.

While the hospital’s orthopedic (trauma) ward was deemed “generally clean” by inspectors, the emergency department was deemed “generally unclean”.

The report includes details of an overflowing sanitary waste disposal bin in an emergency department toilet, and unclean emergency department dressing trolleys.

Inspectors also found a patient with a suspected transmissible infection being cared for in a room without hand washing facilities and the door of that room being open directly to where other patients were being cared for, linen not secured prior to disposal to minimize the risk of cross contamination during the collection and laundering process and a heavily soiled dustpan in the clinical area of the emergency department.

The hospital was also noted for several good practices, but has been asked to develop a quality improvement plan, which must be published on the Health Service Executive website within six weeks. HIQA will also monitor the hospital and will undertake a follow-up assessment within the next six months.
- Westmeath Independent