Entries in Ireland (24)


Ireland Pledges to Clarify Abortion Laws After Death of Miscarrying Woman

PETER MUHLY/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The death of a 31-year-old woman who was denied an abortion during a life-threatening miscarriage has prompted calls for clarity in Ireland's abortion laws.

Savita Halappanavar was 17 weeks pregnant when she arrived at University Hospital Galway in Ireland, complaining of back pain, her husband, Praveen Halappanavar, told the Irish Times. Doctors told
Halappanavar she was miscarrying, but they reportedly refused to terminate the pregnancy as long as there was a fetal heartbeat, because, they said, Ireland was a "Catholic country."

Halappanavar's death provoked protests outside the Irish Parliament, where Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore said Thursday the government would act "to bring legal clarity to this issue as quickly as possible."

"The discussion must be a reasoned, reasonable, dignified one, and it must be focused on what it is we need to bring legal clarity to sets of circumstances that have been outstanding for a long period and that are very real," he said, according to the Irish Times.

Abortion is illegal in Ireland unless continuing a pregnancy would endanger a woman's life. But Gilmore said certain circumstances cloud the interpretation of the law.

"Essentially, they center on what happens in a set of circumstances where a woman's life is at risk and medical professionals may not be entirely clear on where the lines of their responsibilities and duties lie," he said, as reported in the Irish Times.

Even as medically necessary abortions remain a contentious topic on this side of the Atlantic, doctors in the United States said Halappanavar's death was preventable.

"I don't do abortions, I'll tell you right now. ... But I'd have to tell the mother, 'Your baby doesn't have a chance and to save your life, I have to do this,'" said Dr. John Coppes, the medical director at Austin Medical Center-Mayo Health System in Minnesota.

At the Galway University Hospital, Halappanavar's fetal heartbeat stopped nearly three days after she arrived on Oct. 21. Doctors evacuated Halappanavar's uterus, but she died of septicemia, or blood poisoning, on Oct. 28, according the Irish Times, which cited the autopsy report.

The Galway Roscommon University Hospitals Group confirmed that Halappanavar was a pregnant patient who died in its care. It released a statement extending its sympathies to Halappanavar's husband, explaining that it would be reviewing the "unexpected death" as per the national incident management policy of Ireland's public health care provider, Health Service Executive, or HSE.

"The process of incident review seeks to ascertain the facts relating to the incident, draw conclusions and make recommendations in relation to any steps that may need to be taken to prevent a similar incident occurring again," HSE said in a statement, adding that it would seek an external obstetrician to join its team of investigators.

Coppes, who has never met Halappanavar, said that when a woman's water, or amniotic sac, breaks during early pregnancy, she is at risk for infection because the barrier between the baby and the outside world is broken. The fetus's environment is also no longer sterile, putting it at risk for "horrible malformations."

Coppes said the fact that Halappanavar's husband reported she was ill and vomiting suggested a serious infection had set in, and it's possible that it spread to her blood, resulting in the septicemia that killed her. When asked how long it takes for an infection in the uterus to spread to the blood, Coppes said it can vary.

"Let's put it this way, the clock starts ticking when the membrane ruptures," he said. "It can be pretty fast. That's why you don't sit and watch."

Halappanavar's husband told the Irish Times the couple had repeatedly asked doctors to end the pregnancy, and were refused even though his wife's cervix was fully dilated and her amniotic fluid was leaking. The night after the fetal heartbeat stopped and doctors cleared the uterus, he got a call from the hospital.

"They said they were shifting her to intensive care," Praveen Halappanavar told the Irish Times. "Her heart and pulse were low, her temperature was high. She was sedated and critical but stable. She stayed stable on Friday, but by 7 p.m. on Saturday they said her heart, kidneys and liver weren't functioning. She was critically ill. That night, we lost her."

Dr. Bryna Harwood, a gynecologist at the University of Illinois in Chicago, said Halappanavar's story was more nuanced than it appeared on the surface. Although the ruptured amniotic sac could have led to an infection that caused the septicemia, it was impossible to know from published details whether Halappanavar's infection was related to her pregnancy, she said.

The septicemia also could have come from a kidney infection or an appendicitis, both of which can be harder to detect in pregnancy, can be exacerbated by immune system changes in pregnancy and can cause pregnancy complications. They would also cause the back pain Halappanavar's husband described.

"You treat based on the source of the infection," Harwood said, adding that if the infection's source is the uterus, terminating the pregnancy can be part of the solution.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dozens of Puppies Rescued from Cars in Ireland

File photo. BananaStock/Thinkstock(DUBLIN) -- In a sort of real-life version of the Disney classic 101 Dalmatians, up to 50 puppies were recovered from the back of two cars stopped by Dublin police on Tuesday.

The dogs were discovered in boxes in the rear of the vehicles when police searched the cars. The breeds included Cocker Spaniels, Springer Spaniels, Terriers, Beagles, Labradors and 25 Jack Russell terriers.

It is suspected that the dogs were brought into the country from the U.K. and were intended to be sold on the black market for several thousand euros.

Two males were arrested at the scene in connection to the investigation. One man was in his 20′s and the other in his 30′s. The two men were taken to the Coolock Garda Station in Dublin and will appear in court next month.

Officers from the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have taken the animals into quarantine.

This is an animal cruelty case and the investigation is ongoing, according to the Dublin police department.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Lucky Irish Family Could Be Double Lottery Winners

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(LETTERKENNY, Ireland) -- The luck of the Irish could be shining down on one family after two winning lottery tickets were sold in shops less than one mile apart.

The town of Letterkenny in County Donegal, Ireland, is abuzz with mystery over who the town's newly rich neighbors after two 250,000 pound, or nearly $400,000, jackpots were won in Ireland's Lotto Plus 2 drawing Saturday night by two tickets that matched all six numbers.

One $6 ticket was bought at Mac's Mace on High Road in the town on Saturday, while another $18 ticket was bought on the same day at The Paper Post on Main Street, just half a mile down the street from Mac's Mace.

The proximity of the two stores and the close timing has locals and Lotto officials predicting that two members of the same family are both in luck.

"Neither were quick picks so it rules out the possibility that one might have just been a lucky dip," National Lottery spokeswoman Paula McEvoy told the Irish Times. "Both people used these numbers on purpose. Chances are it could be a husband and wife or a mother and daughter but we can't say just yet."

Even before the possible history-making winners come forward, the sale of the two tickets alone has already made history, the first time that two winning tickets had been bought so close together, according to McEvoy.

Adding to the pot, the Lotto Plus 2 contest does not require that winners share the prize, so each winner will get the full 250,000 pound payout for their ticket. If it is two family members, then, the family doubled their winnings to 500,000 pounds.

The winners have 90 days to come forward with their tickets.

"The theory at this stage is that one family member went off to do the lottery on Saturday not knowing that another family member had also done them," Mac's Mace store owner Eunan MacIntyre told the Irish Independent. "We just don't know who bought the ticket in our shop…but we think it would be too much of a coincidence for two people to choose the same numbers."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Queen Elizabeth II Shakes Hands with Former IRA Leader

TOBY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images(BELFAST, Northern Ireland) -- In an event that was once considered unthinkable, Queen Elizabeth II shook hands on Wednesday with Martin McGuinness, a former commander of the Irish Republican Army who was once her sworn enemy.

McGuinness, now Ireland's deputy first minister, was a deputy leader of the IRA when it assassinated the Queen's cousin back in 1979.  The paramilitary fought against British rule for three decades.

Wednesday's historic handshake in Belfast is perhaps the symbolic end to one of the longest running sectarian conflicts in history.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Aung San Suu Kyi Receives Amnesty Award at Concert in Dublin

PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/GettyImages(DUBLIN) --After accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Burma’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi touched down in Dublin on Monday to attend a concert organized by Amnesty International and accept the organization’s most prestigious honor, the Ambassador of Conscience award.

Suu Kyi took to the stage at Electric Burma, facing thousands of spectators, supporters and activists as U2 frontman Bono presented her with the honor awarded to her in 2009.  She also finally signed the Roll of Honorary Freedom of the City of Dublin awarded to her 12 years ago.

“This trip is very important for Amnesty International,” Salil Shetty, secretary-general of Amnesty International, told ABC.  “It’s a big celebration, but it’s also a reminder of the cruel fact that are so many prisoners of conscience and political prisoners still behind bars.”

Shetty called Suu Kyi a “symbol of hope” in a world full of “grim realities.”  He said that the Electric Burma concert was proof that the work of Suu Kyi and Amnesty bears fruit and inspires human rights work worldwide.

The head of Amnesty International Ireland, Colm O’Gorman, also underlined the importance of hope and inspiration.

“It’s a celebration and it needs to be a lot of fun, but I think it’s more about inspiration,” said O’Gorman.  “It’s a moment we have to use to refocus our efforts, to make sure we continue to champion human rights, democracy and freedom in Myanmar or Burma, or anywhere else in the world where they’re under threat.”

The latest Amnesty International briefing on Burma, based on a mission to the county last month, outlined the persistence of two main issues -- the continued detention of political prisoners and the treatment of ethnic minorities.  Conflict between the Burmese army and various ethnic groups, such as the Kachin, Karen and Shan, has been taking place for years.

Suu Kyi first began championing human rights in her home country in 1988, after brutal military crackdowns on peaceful protests, demanding the establishment of civilian elected government.  She was under house arrest until late 2010, for 15 out of the last 24 years.  This April, Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy won 43 out of 44 parliamentary seats.

“I am very excited, I never imagined I would see her in Dublin, you know?” said Eung Sen Phyo, a Burmese native who left the country almost 25 years ago, and who’s 12-year-old daughter presented Suu Kyi with a bouquet of flowers at Dublin airport.

“I would love to go and see the change happening in my country,” he added.  “Hopefully this is just the beginning.”

Hundreds of so-called prisoners of conscience remain in Burma, defined by Amnesty as people imprisoned because of their political, religious or other beliefs, usually in the absence of any kind of legal protocol.

In her Nobel address, Suu Kyi had said that “one prisoner of conscience is one too many,” and her message, that, despite recent developments, a lot of work in Burma remains to be done, was the theme of her address to Dublin crowds: “Troubles are not yet all over, and I’m confident that you will continue to stand with us.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Irish 'Terror Network' Busted As Queen's Visit Nears 

TOBY MELVILLE/AFP/Getty Images/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BELFAST) -- Six alleged members of a dissident Irish Republican network have been arrested on terrorism charges in Northern Ireland since last Saturday in a joint operation by the Police Service of Northern Ireland and MI5, the U.K.'s Security Service.

Though dissident Republican groups are often characterized as splinter operations with little public support, the arrests occurred in cities across Northern Ireland. British authorities also invoked two criminal charges rarely used in Northern Ireland, "directing" terrorism and "acts preparatory" to terrorism.

The arrests come just weeks before Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Ireland, and two months before up to 900,000 visitors converge on London for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Security preparations for the summer games have included a stepped-up police presence and surface-to-air missile batteries atop residential buildings.

Three men were arrested on Saturday, May 11, and three more were arrested on Monday, May 13. The three men arrested Monday morning, aged 41, 42 and 47, were charged with conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to cause an explosion, preparation of terrorist acts and collecting information of use to terrorism. The 47-year-old was also charged with directing terrorism. They are due to appear in court tomorrow morning, at which time their names will be made public.

"Police have charged three men with a number of serious offences linked to a proactive investigation into dissident Republican terrorist activity in Northern Ireland," said the PSNI in a statement. "Officers have worked closely with colleagues in the Security Service and, latterly, with the Public Prosecution Service to reach a point where charges have been brought." The Security Service, also known as MI5, is the lead agency in terrorism investigations in Northern Ireland.

In recent years, dissident Republican groups have mounted both bombing attacks aimed at law enforcement and so-called "punishment" attacks against alleged drug dealers and criminals. Splinter groups have improved their bombmaking skills and now have the capability to detonate devices by remote control, say police.

According to U.K. press accounts, a 600-lb device found on the outskirts of Newry, Northern Ireland on April 26 "could have been set off by someone in the area with a transmitter." Police said that the device, which was left in a white Citroen Berlingo van, was "ready to go." They added that it was designed to kill and was to be detonated with a remote transmitter.

Earlier this month, the dissident Republican group Óglaigh na hÉireann is believed to have left a milk-churn bomb found on an island in Phoenix Park, Dublin. Anti-terrorist officers told the media that they believe the bomb "was hidden there in a panic as Gardaí [Irish police] carried out a major search and disrupt operation following the discovery of the Newry van bomb."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Oklahoma City 911 Dispatchers Save Woman in Ireland

iStockphoto/Thinsktock(OKLAHOMA CITY) -- A 911 team in Oklahoma is being lauded during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week for saving the life of a woman 4,000 miles away.

During the early hours of March 2, the distressed woman called the seven-digit, non-emergency number for the Oklahoma City dispatch.

“She was suicidal, had a gun and said she was going to kill herself,” David Shupe, director of 911 services, said. “Her biggest concern was making sure someone was contacted so her child would be OK.  She said repeatedly she was trying to get out of the life of prostitution.”

Shupe said he had no idea how the woman got the number for emergency services or what, if any, her familiarity with Oklahoma City was, but his dispatchers knew they needed to help.

Because she called the seven-digit number instead of 911, dispatchers were unable to track her location. “We managed ultimately to keep her on the phone for 30 minutes,” he said.

During that time, the 911 supervisor contacted AT&T, which traced the call to the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. The supervisor then contacted their police department, which, in turn, was able to trace the call to Dublin, Shupe said.

Police visited the woman’s home where they found her with a stab wound to the arm. She was transported to a hospital for treatment.

“This was a pretty interesting piece of work from our perspective,” Shupe said.  “We don’t typically get involved with overseas departments. It was pretty innovative how the supervisor handled it.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Irish Priest Accidentally Flashes Gay Porn During First Communion Meeting

Image Source/Thinkstock(POMEROY, Ireland) -- A Catholic priest in Northern Ireland has found himself in hot water after he accidentally displayed a series of pornographic gay images during a presentation to parents of children preparing to receive First Holy Communion.

Father Martin McVeigh projected 16 “indecent images of men” on a projector screen during a March 26 PowerPoint presentation to a group of 26 parents at St. Mary’s School in Pomeroy, Ireland, the BBC reports.

McVeigh has said he had no knowledge of the images.  Parents in attendance told the BBC the images appeared on the screen from a memory stick the parish priest had inserted into a computer before the presentation.

“He was visibly shaken and flustered,” one parent said. “He gave no explanation or apology to the group and bolted out of the room. The coordinator and the teachers then continued with the presentation.”

McVeigh returned to the room twenty minutes later, parents said, to finish the presentation but made no reference to the images.

Irish media outlets are also reporting that at least one child, said to be an eight-year-old, was at the meeting.

The head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, confirmed the incident and said an investigation opened by the Police Service of Northern Ireland determined there was no immediate evidence a crime had taken place.

“Inappropriate imagery was inadvertently shown by a priest at the beginning of a PowerPoint presentation, causing concern to those present,” Brady said in a statement. “This was immediately removed from the screen…The priest has stated that he had no knowledge of the offending imagery.”

Father McVeigh defended himself in remarks to the Ulster Herald newspaper last week.

“I don’t know how it happened but I know what happened,” he said.  “There are people making innuendos who weren’t even there but in this day and age these stories grow.  All I can do is let the incident be investigated and be open to that investigation so that what happened can be legitimately explained.”

The investigation by the church into the matter remains open, Cardinal Brady confirmed in his statement. He added that Father McVeigh is “cooperating.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


About 'Effin' Time: Facebook Recognizes Existence of Irish Town

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(EFFIN, Ireland) -- Facebook gave an Effin Christmas present.

Effin, a parish in County Limerick, Ireland, could be listed as a hometown on Facebook profiles as of last month, the Irish Independent reported.

The company’s software previously hadn’t allowed it, and Ann Marie Kennedy, an Effin woman who had complained publicly, thought it must be because the name coincided with a common euphemism, making it “offensive,” the report said.

“I’m a proud Effin woman, and I will always be an Effin woman,” Kennedy, who works at the University of Limerick, told the Independent during her campaign.

Facebook ignored Effin not out of censorship, but because it was a parish, not a village or town, according to Silicon Republic.

Indeed, F***ing, Austria, is welcome on Facebook.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Woman Wants Hometown Effin Recognized on Facebook

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(LIMERICK, Ireland) -- Ann Marie Kennedy loves her hometown of Effin, Ireland. She just wishes Facebook would recognize its existence.

Kennedy told the Irish Independent that she was unable to list Effin, in county Limerick, as her hometown on her Facebook page. She believes it might be because Facebook finds the name of the village “obscene or offensive.”

“I’m a proud Effin woman, and I will always be an Effin woman,” Kennedy, who works at the University of Limerick, told the paper.

Facebook is looking into the issue -- which may have more to do with how small a place Effin is rather than the wholesomeness of the name.

“From time to time, we are alerted to oversights such as this in our mapping system. We will look to correct it to ensure places like Effin can be ‘liked’ on Facebook,” said Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes.

Kennedy isn’t the only Facebook user who is frustrated at the site’s geography. On the Facebook page “My hometown is not listed -- is yours?” a number of site users raise similar issues.

“Facebook admin please add Putaruru NZ,” pleads New Zealander Simon Arrowsmith.

Effin does appear on Facebook in another form -- the Effin GAA page (for friends of the Effin Gaelic Athletic Association, which promotes traditional Irish games like hurling) has more than 950 friends.

And Kennedy has started a “Please get my hometown Effin recognised” page, where some scenic pictures of the village have been posted.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio