Why 85 is the new 65 in an ageing Irish workforce

Working past the traditional retirement age of 65 is becoming a growing trend in Ireland.

Almost 60,000 people aged 65 and over were listed as working in 2016, an increase of a third since 2011.

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London bridges blocked by environment protest, 70 arrested

LONDON (REUTERS) – British police said they arrested more than 70 people at an environmental protest on Saturday (Nov 17), after demonstrators blocked five bridges across the River Thames in central London.

Organisers of the “Extinction Rebellion” event said they wanted to put pressure on Britain’s government to take greater action to slow climate change and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

The protest centred for several hours on Westminster Bridge, near Britain’s parliament, but there was also disruption to traffic on four other bridges.

Hundreds of people protested near Westminster, carrying banners with messages including “Stop Climate Breakdown”,”Fossil Fuel Era Over” and “Rebel For Life”.

“This is an act of mass civil disobedience. This is the start of an international rebellion protesting the lack of action on the ecological crisis,” one organiser, Gail Bradbrook, told reporters.

Police said demonstrators had mostly been arrested for obstructing the road, and had no immediate information on charges or the total number of protesters.

Organisers said more than 6,000 people had been involved.

“The demonstration is having a direct impact on others across London who wish to go about their daily business – and (stopped) the emergency services from using the bridges to travel around London,” police superintendent Waheed Khan said just before the bridges reopened.

Britain reduced greenhouse gas emissions by over 40 per cent between 1990 and 2016, and the government has committed to a total reduction of 80 per cent by 2050.

The Extinction Rebellion campaigners are calling for emissions to be reduced to zero on a net basis by 2025.

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University students targeted in tax refund scam

A large number of Queen’s University Belfast students have been targeted in a tax refund scam.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said that students across the UK were being targeted by scammers with fake tax refunds in an attempt to steal money and person details.

HMRC confirmed that a large number of scams had been reported involving students at Queen’s.

The scammers are using seemingly legitimate university email addresses (for example ‘@uc.ac.uk’) in order to avoid detection.

HMRC said that it was the largest direct attack on students it had ever seen with thousands of fraud attempts reported in the past few weeks.

Often HMRC related email scams spoof the branding of GOV.UK and well known credit cards in attempt to look authentic. The recipient’s name and email address may be included several times within the email itself.

Fraudulent emails and texts will regularly include links which take students to websites where their information can be stolen. Between April and September this year, HMRC requested that 7,500 of these phishing sites be deactivated. This compares to around 5,200 requests during the same period in 2017.

Sinn Fein further and higher education spokesperson Caoimhe Archibald said that the scams were of growing concern.

“Attempted telephone and online scams are an ongoing and increasing problem, with the scammers always attempting to devise more sophisticated and plausible ways to try and secure your personal computing and online banking details,” the East Londonderry MLA said.

“I would urge people to be constantly vigilant and to make sure to warn elderly family members in particular to the wide variety of attempted cold call scams that are going on.“

Director of Action Fraud, Pauline Smith urged students to remain vigilant.

“Devious fraudsters will try every trick in the book to convince victims to hand over their personal information, often with devastating consequences. It is vital that students spot the signs of fraudulent emails to avoid falling victim by following HMRC’s advice,” she said.

“Together with HMRC, we work tirelessly to stop fraudsters in their tracks and to prevent unsuspecting members of the public from falling victim to fraud.”

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Street spat dad 'minding his own business' when row began out

A father-of-two who got into a row in the street with five other men started shouting and cursing at them to go away, a court has heard.

Gavin Mangan (41) told the men to “get the f**k away from me” before gardai arrived and he was arrested.

Judge Dermot Dempsey fined Mangan €100.

The defendant, of Brecan Close, Balbriggan, admitted threatening and abusive behaviour when he appeared before Swords District Court.

Gda Aidan Marks said he was on patrol on Drogheda Street, Balbriggan, shortly after 4pm last June 30 when he came across Mangan involved in a dispute with a number of other men.

Gda Marks said Mangan was shouting and repeatedly telling the men to “get the f**k away from me”.

He also told them “would you f**k off”.

The court heard he had 71 previous convictions and had most recently served seven years in prison for a drugs matter.

Defence solicitor Fiona D’Arcy said father-of-two Mangan was released from prison in January 2016 and had stayed out of trouble since.

He was on anti-psychotic medication because he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as he had spent his childhood in an industrial school.

Ms D’Arcy said Mangan also had difficulties with alcohol and cocaine when he was younger and had suffered a gunshot wound to his arm.

On the day in question day, Mangan was minding his own business when he got into a row with five other men.

Ms D’Arcy said Mangan was trying to assert himself to protect himself against the other men, but accepted he should not have spoken in such a manner.

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Social media updates in courts to be restricted to journalists and lawyers

Live social media updates are set to be banned in courts for all except journalists and lawyers involved in the case.

Chief Justice, Mr Justice Frank Clarke, made the announcement as he spoke about the difficulties that some use of social media is having on court cases.

He made his remarks as he addressed a seminar of journalists in Dublin today.

Emphasising the right to a fair trial, the Chief Justice described social media as “all pervasive in society”, and while recognising the courts “do not operate in isolation” from the world of communications, he said guidelines are needed.

He announced a new practice direction limiting the use of live text and message based communications from court – to bona fide members of the media and lawyers in a case.

“It is clear that there needs to be guidelines regarding the ‘who, when and what’ of using social media in courtrooms,” he said.

“From this month on a new Practice Direction – signed by the Presidents of all the Court jurisdictions – will limit the use of court based data messaging and electronic devices, to bona fide members of the press and bona fide lawyers with business in the courts.

“Both sets of professionals know the limits of what they can report and when.

“Others in court will be unable to text or message from the courtroom – in any form.”

He added, that “if the experience of the operation of this practice direction provides evidence that it needs to be reinforced by new legislation, we will ask for this to be considered”.

The Chief Justice said that the key legitimate concern is to “ensure the integrity of the trial process and the maintenance of a fair trial system”.

“The potential for unregulated social media to have an impact on the fairness of the trial process itself is, in my view, a legitimate and particular concern of the Judiciary,” he said.

“To date it has been rare that courts in Ireland have had to use contempt of court laws to curb inaccurate and disruptive online communications about cases.

“But it would be extremely naive of us not to plan for the future in this regard.

“In recent times it has become apparent that there is a need for guidance and rules on use of social media and digital devices in courts.

“This extends to the use of social media by observers of a case, and to a lesser extent the use of same by jurors.”

Chief Justice Clarke said the new rules will come into force in all courts in the State on Monday, November 26 next.

He said that the huge upsurge in social media use as a means of communication had not been entirely negative and, indeed, the court system itself are now using the medium for some communications regarding the administration of the courts.

It was important to take action to mitigate the potential harm that can be done to trials and the administration of justice by the inappropriate use of social media. The Chief Justice remarked: “Social media is a genie that is out of the bottle and it won’t go back in.”

The Chief Justice paid tribute to the print and broadcast media today as having given “very little cause of concern” in how they report and comment on court cases.

“In general they do so honestly, diligently and with great skill,” he said.

But he said some concerns over social media are “both widespread and real”.

“There are genuine concerns over the dissemination of false and malicious claims – which damage social debate, learning, and understanding,” he said.

“Such false claims can come just as much from the organised and powerful as they can from the single contrarian in a basement, or a ‘hobby journalist’ in a court room.”

Seamus Dooley, Assistant General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists, told the seminar on the new court directives today that the new directives will be warmly welcomed by working journalists.

Bone-fide journalists manage to provide comprehensive analysis of complex cases on a daily basis. Referring to non-journalists tweeting from courtrooms, he said “You simply cannot summarise a nuanced submission or judgement in 260 characters.”

Mr Dooley said he was proud how well these tasks were performed by members of the NUJ.

“The role of the much maligned mainstream media is becoming even more significant as the source of authoritative information delivered calmly, soberly and for a journalistic purpose,” he said.

The new restrictions come in the wake of several incidents regarding the use of social media and court cases.

During a trial last year involving six people charged with offences arising from a water protest in Jobstown, Tallaght, there were concerns about prejudicial material being published online.

One of the defendants, Solidarity TD Paul Murphy was forced to delete several of tweets, including material related to evidence in the case, towards the end of the trial following complaints by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Judge Melanie Greally had the power to hold him in contempt of court, but opted not to take further action when she was told the tweets were being taken down.

Also near the end of the trial Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger used social media to say the defence legal teams were challenging what the judge had said in her charge to the jury.

The post was made even though it is forbidden to report anything that happens in the absence of the jury.

Culture Minister Josepha Madigan has welcomed the ban on the public Tweeting and texting in court.

Minister Madigan introduced a Private Members Bill, the Contempt of Court Bill 2017 in October last year, which included measures to give judges powers to direct social media companies to take down posts that could risk prejudicing a criminal trial.

The Fine Gael representative said: “The Supreme Court first called for changes in this law in the early 90s while legislation was first introduced in the UK in 1981.

“My Contempt of Court Bill was the first attempt in this country to legislate for contempt despite Judges, legal experts and journalists all calling for legislation in this area for some time.

“This move is a welcome first step. It will help prevent injustices from being done, protect the administration of justice and guarantee the right of every citizen to receive a fair and impartial hearing of their case.” 

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Sainsbury's launches £1.50 edible insect range in UK supermarket first

Barbecue-flavour roasted crickets are being put on sale in 250 stores across the country from Sunday.

The Eat Grub’s “smoky BBQ crunchy roasted crickets” are described as “crunchy in texture with a rich smoky flavour”.

Packets of the insects will cost £1.50.

The grubs have been on sale from online supermarket Ocado for at least five months, with mixed reviews.

One poster, who gave the product one star out of five, said: “My hubby… said they didn’t taste at all of BBQ… he could taste was fish sauce? Way too expensive as well.”

But another, who gave the full 5/5, said: “Tried the final flavour in this selection from Eat Grub and LOVED this – much tastier than a bag of crisps without the calories. Couldnt stop eating them!”

Sainsbury’s suggests the crickets can be eaten as a snack or used to garnish dishes such as tacos, noodles and salads.

Eat Grub was formed in 2014 by Shami Radia and Neil Whippey to enable people living in Western countries to try a food source that is commonly available in some other parts of the world.

Mr Radia said: “Currently, insects are eaten and enjoyed by two billion people worldwide.

“We’re on a mission to show the West that as well as having very strong sustainability and environmental credentials, they are also seriously tasty and shouldn’t be overlooked as a great snack or recipe ingredient.”

Sainsbury’s and EatGrub say insects are more popular than might be expected, with a survey finding that 10% of Britons have tried them and more than half of those have enjoyed them.

Eat Grub says dried crickets contain more protein per gram than beef, chicken or pork – with 68g of protein per 100g, compared to 31g of protein in beef.

Edible insects are also said to be more sustainable than other meat, taking up less land and requiring less animal feed than livestock.

Food policy manager at WWF Duncan Williamson said edible insects could help reduce shoppers’ carbon footprint.

He said: “As the population increases, we urgently need to look at alternative protein sources to make the most of land available for food production.”

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Jobseeker: Macron should help me find work

An unemployed gardener has hit back at Emmanuel Macron after the French president told him he could find him a job “just by crossing the road”.

Jonathan Jahan, whose exchange with the president on his quest for a job went viral at the weekend, said Mr Macron’s words had stuck in his throat.

When he said he had sent out letters and CVs, Mr Macron said there were jobs to be found in hotels and construction.

“I felt like telling him, in that case come with me and look,” he said.

“I’ve got no problem with that. If there is work, he should come with me up to Montparnasse,” he added, referring to an area of the capital teeming with bars and restaurants.

Speaking on French radio on Tuesday, Mr Jahan, 25, said he was disappointed by Mr Macron’s attitude. He repeated a jibe by the president’s opponents that he came across as out-of-touch.

“He’s totally wide of the mark, he’s still in the land of the Care Bears,” he complained, referring to a children’s animated TV series. “He’s president but he doesn’t bother with people who are out of work.”

Why Macron’s exchange went viral

Mr Jahan’s comments on Europe 1 radio came after the president told him finding a job in Paris was simple, if he went to Montparnasse – triggering a wave of anti-Macron mockery.

“There are loads of jobs, go on,” he said. “Hotels, cafes, restaurants – I’ll find you one just by crossing the road!”

VIDÉO – Macron à un jeune chômeur qui peine à obtenir un travail : "Je traverse la rue je vous en trouve" #JEP2018 pic.twitter.com/clfFlBuL52

End of Twitter post by @arthurberdah

His remarks were ridiculed partly because they chimed with earlier controversial comments in which he had suggested that French people hated reform or were “Gauls” resistant to change.

His popularity has fallen, and two ministers have left their jobs in the past month. In a new twist on Tuesday, one of his closest colleagues, Interior Minister Gérard Collomb, said he was leaving the post in 2019 to run for his former job as Mayor of Lyon.

President Macron has also struggled to dent the high rate of unemployment. When he came to power in 2017 he pledged to bring the jobless rate down from 9.4% to 7% by 2022. But the number is still stubbornly high at 9.1%, with 3.46 million people out of work.

In the gardening sector in particular, some 5,000 jobs have gone in the past seven years.

What next for the gardener?

In his exchange with Mr Jahan, the president indicated that he should look beyond gardening if he wanted to find work quickly.

Mr Jahan said he had already worked in the restaurant trade, but his experience was of rejection.

“I get up in the morning and tell myself: Why get up at six am to look for work when I already know what will happen?”

However, the French gardening federation said the media focus on Mr Jahan’s story had produced a stream of job offers and appealed to him to get in touch. The head of the federation joked that the office had turned into a job centre.

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'Heartbreak, heroism and abiding friendship' – two years capturing New York's police

New York, New York – home to 8.6 million residents, with 63 million people visiting it every year.

The challenge facing the 36,000 members of NYPD in making the city safe is something most of us can’t begin to comprehend.

Irish Independent photographer Mark Condren has documented their work after spending two years embedded with the NYPD. He was tasked to do so by NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill. The result is his new book NYPD: Behind the Scenes With the Men and Women of the New York City Police Department.

The book was officially launched by Commissioner O’Neill last weekend, garnering publicity on NBC and Fox News.

“There are images of heartbreak, heroism and abiding friendship; of melancholy and surprising beauty. One page might remind me that being a cop here can be the hardest job anywhere; the next makes me think that there isn’t a job in the world that’s half as much fun,” the Commissioner said.

It’s not Condren’s first experience documenting a police force. The son of a retired garda sergeant, he is married to serving garda Michelle. The couple have three children – Ben (12), Aaron (9) and four-year-old Emma.

Ben has Type 1 diabetes – and in 2009, Mark decided he wanted to raise funds for Temple Street Children’s Hospital who had been treating his son for his condition.

“With this in mind, I approached the gardaí and asked them if I could do a book with them.”

In 2011, Mark’s book The Guards: A Year Behind the Scene with the Men and Women of An Garda Síochána was published, and marked the first-ever photographic portrait of gardaí by a photojournalist.

“So I was embedded with gardaí for two years, then we brought out a coffee table book. It was the Christmas No 1 that year, selling 7,500 copies in two weeks. It was a massive success,” he says.

“I was in New York after the book was released, and I was just wondering what it would be like to be an NYPD officer.

“Anyway, I was lucky enough to know someone in Ireland who is a cousin of Pat Sullivan, a lieutenant in the NYPD.

“So I contacted him – and he managed to get me a meeting with Commissioner James O’Neill. It took a year to get the meeting but it happened.

“I gave the garda book to the commissioner – that book was my business card.

“Even though the commissioner didn’t know me, he saw the book and said we had to do the same for the NYPD. And that’s how it started.

“And so I started flying back and forth to New York over two years – while still working full-time. It would be a few days here and there. I would be embedded with NYPD officers on patrol.

“I wanted to try and capture everything. It was not about kicking doors down, or blood and guts. It was about capturing as many aspects as I could in the life of an NYPD officer.”

Clad in a bulletproof vest, Mark was put in a patrol car with an officer, following official units to calls.

So was he nervous while out on patrol?

“There were times I would have been nervous – there were a couple of times when I had to run after people. But I always felt safe as I had somebody with me at all times. When it came to gun calls and stabbing, you just have to keep your wits about you. It’s not like what it is in the movies – I didn’t just take my camera out and start shooting. You have to be discreet and precise – I was very aware that I could put officers in danger by carelessly taking out my camera. I had to be very aware of my surroundings and the situation facing officers, and make the right judgment call or we could all be in trouble,” he explains.

“One night when I was out on patrol, we were at a call for a problem in a nightclub, then we got a call for an officer who needed assistance at a stabbing, and after that an hour is a blur. Everything moves so fast – New York just doesn’t stop for police officers.”

One image where Mark admits his adrenalin is pumping is of two officers, armed with guns, clearing a stairwell in a residential block of flats as they answer a gun call.

“The tower block was roughly 12-storeys high. Officers have to clear each stairwell as they progress through the building so that is what this picture captures. Officers do not know what’s around the corner and where a suspected gunman could be, so they have to exercise huge caution for their own safety and safety of civilians in that environment,” he explains.

“The camaraderie between the officers is amazing – they have each other’s back. Like they do in every police force, but in New York, when they roll out, they roll out big. There’s no messing”.

While they deal with serious crime, there are other matters which must be managed – like the safe removal of beehives.

“One day, a call came on the radio saying there was a beehive on a water hydrant in the middle of Manhattan. I then heard on the radio that the beehive unit was en route. The beehive officer is in the Emergency Support Unit and he arrived on the scene in beekeeper gear, and safely removed the hive from the water hydrant and took it away to another location.

“The Mounted Unit is another busy unit – they have their own mobile farrier. His name is Tommy and he’s from Co Clare. He goes around the city all day in his van, changing hundreds of shoes of NYPD horses,” Mark says.

Mark admits he was surprised by the amount of first generation Irish people who are NYPD officers. “I met a girl from Swords at their training academy. And I was out with Officer Brian O’Donnell, who is from Banagher, Co Offaly, and was seriously injured by someone wielding a meat cleaver in 2016.

“Some of the Irish I met there have this fascination with the NYPD and that’s why they came to New York – but I suppose it’s the biggest police force in the world, so why wouldn’t they?”

In terms of policing, Mark says policing in New York and Ireland have much in common with one another.

“Policing is a vocation. It is not an easy job – the shift work is not easy. And while many of us do shift work, the scenarios and situations police officers can find themselves in the course of their work are often not easy.

“Policing is the same in both Ireland and New York – but there is one major difference. The NYPD has so many dedicated units with officers assigned to them. In Ireland, you could be a uniform garda but still take part in raids, man checkpoints, go on patrol – your assignments could vary every day. You wouldn’t have the same day-to-day variety in New York, where you are assigned to a dedicated unit.”

From the outset, Mark decided he did not want his book to be focussed purely on serious crime. “I wanted the images in the book to flow and be of a certain standard. I was thinking of my kids – I don’t want to have to hide my book in the house because it has dead bodies. I want children everywhere to be able to see this.”

So he aimed to capture every facet of life in the NYPD.

His images show officers playing with children on a hot summer’s day.

“The fire department turn on the water hydrants during the summer – NYPD officers will often turn on the sprinklers and cool the children down as they play on the street during peak summer time.

“It’s more of a tradition than a health thing, but the kids love it and it c

ools them down. It also helps build a positive relationship between the NYPD officers and children,” Mark explains. “Overall, NYPD officers enjoy an excellent relationship.

“I often heard people telling them to stay safe and ‘thank you for protecting us’. The pubic admire them,” he adds.

Mark shows the other extreme in his book – with an image of two very stern looking officers from the Counter Terrorism Unit outside Trump Tower (on the Review cover).

“They are outside Trump Tower 24/7 and have been in place since President Trump’s election to the White House in 2016. They won’t have any real interaction with members of the public – they are required to be 100pc focussed on the job at hand, and are armed with the most powerful of weaponry available to NYPD officers,” he says.

The book will be launched in Ireland by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar next month and will be on sale in Irish bookshops from December 10. Mark Condren has been named PPAI Photographer of the Year on four occasions, and has won numerous awards for his work which has taken him all over the world.

  • ‘NYPD’ is available to order at markcondren.com

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Baby 'lucky to be alive' after home circumcision, court hears

A father of six has been accused of carrying out a “crude” circumcision on a 10-month-old baby boy who had to be hospitalised and was “lucky to be alive”.

Philip Ogbewe (54), calling himself “Dr Philip” but without any medical training, injured the infant while performing a home circumcision with a surgical blade, it is alleged.

He was refused bail at Dublin District Court after gardaí objected.

Mr Ogbewe (54), a Nigerian national of Greenlanes, Drogheda, Co Louth, is charged with assault causing harm to the infant at an address in the midlands on a date in December 2015.

Garda Sergeant Paul Carney told Judge John Coughlan that, when charged, Mr Ogbewe replied: “I am sorry I committed such an offence.”

Objecting to bail, Sgt Carney said it was alleged the accused performed the circumcision at the child’s home.

The infant required surgical intervention at Mullingar and Crumlin hospitals, to correct the bleed and receive a blood transfusion.

Surgical blades, Vaseline and cotton wool were found in his possession and seized, along with a mobile phone that had the number used by the alleged victim’s mother to communicate with the accused before and after the circumcision, Sgt Carney claimed.

Mr Ogbewe had been living in Ireland for 20 years and had three children with his current partner and another three with his ex-wife, his defence barrister Niall Flynn said, applying for bail.

Gardaí had no evidence that he would flee if granted bail, Mr Flynn said, adding that the accused was presumed innocent.

“The child in question is very lucky to be alive due to intervention at Mullingar Hospital,” Sgt Carney said.

Mr Flynn said if granted bail Mr Ogbewe would undertake not to perform any circumcisions or contact any witnesses.

Mr Ogbewe had co-operated with the gardaí, Mr Flynn said.

Sgt Carney agreed there was never any manhunt or search to source the accused’s location.

Mr Flynn accepted it was a “very sinister alleged offence” and the court would be concerned by the evidence but the accused was in the country 20 years and was prepared to abide by strict bail conditions.

Judge Coughlan refused bail and, granting legal aid, said it was a “unique, very unusual case and a very serious case”.

The court heard the offence carried a maximum potential sentence of five years on conviction and the DPP was considering further serious charges.

The accused has not yet indicated a plea.

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'Tragic case' of gay couple hinges on claims of abuse

The case of a pensioner accused of murdering his partner is about the “fundamental human right” of a person to “defend themselves from attack”, his counsel has told a jury.

Closing statements have been heard in the trial of Desmond ‘Des’ Duffy (70).

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