'Praying no one is hurt' – emergency services tackling house fire as commuters warned of 'extremely heavy traffic'

Emergency services are tackling a blaze this morning which commuters have been warned has caused “extremely heavy traffic” in the area.

The fire started at a house in the Milltown area of Dublin in the early hours of this morning.

A garda spokesman confirmed to Independent.ie that emergency services are at the scene.

AA Roadwatch has advised motorists to expect “extremely heavy traffic.”

They said in a statement: “A stop/go system is now in place on Milltown Rd, as emergency services deal with a building fire.

“This has caused extremely heavy traffic to build up on routes in the area, including Churchtown Rd, Dundrum Rd and Milltown Rd itself – especially coming from Dartry. Avoid the area if you can.”

A concerned woman shared photos of the blaze on Twitter, as she said: “House fire milltown main road @DublinFire on way praying no one hurt.”

More to follow…

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Garda probe into fire that destroyed landmark pub

Investigations are continuing to find the cause of a blaze that destroyed a Finglas pub.

Fire crews battled to prevent the blaze at the landmark Bottom Of The Hill bar from spreading, but the building was extensively damaged.

The blaze broke out shortly after 1am on Thursday in the pub which is situated at the end of Finglas village.

Four units of Dublin Fire Brigade from Finglas, Phibsboro, and Tara Street were at the scene all night.

The fire service only departed at 7am yesterday having fought the fire for six hours.

A metal roof on the building began to peel back because of the heat of the flames, and emergency crews removed a section of it in order to make the building safe.

A specialist turntable ladder was brought in from Tara Street fire station to fight the flames from above.

Flames could be seen rising from the popular pub’s roof, and it is believed a strong breeze fanned the flames making it more difficult for the emergency crews.

The building is also occupied by a fast food takeaway at ground level on one side, and a Chinese restaurant at first floor level on the other side.

There is also a betting shop on the site.

Gardaí have preserved the scene and a technical examination was carried out to determine the cause of the fire. All aspects of the site will be examined to establish where the fire started, and whether it was in the pub itself or one of the other businesses.

Members of the Garda technical bureau spent hours at the scene yesterday gathering evidence.

There was no indication the fire was anything but an accident, but a forensic examination is part of the investigation protocol for a large blaze.

Local councillor Noeleen Reilly said it was “very sad” but “the main thing is that no one was hurt”.

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Fraudsters cost insurers €90m ever year in fake accident claims

Fradulent road traffic accident claims are costing insurance companies an estimated €90m a year, a spokesman for the industry has claimed.

Cyril Moloney, on behalf of Allianz Ireland, was speaking after a Latvian national, described by a judge as “a liar” and a man not to be trusted, had lost a €60,000 damages claim for injuries he allegedly suffered in a road traffic accident.

Barrister Grainne Larkin, for Allianz Insurance and its insured, Stuart Scott, of Clonuske Park, Balbriggan, Co Dublin, told the court that when asked in writing prior to the case if he had been involved in any previous accident, Edgars Peka had confirmed he had received €6,500 for an accident in 2013.

In evidence in the Circuit Civil Court, Peka told Ms Larkin that this had been the only accident he had been involved in apart from the one before the court for which he was seeking €60,000 damages.

However, the court heard he was involved in another road traffic accident in 2015, and had received compensation of €10,000.

Ms Larkin had told the court that liability had been admitted in the September 2014 accident, but the defendant was questioning the extent of Peka’s injuries and his credibility.

Peka, with an address at Belfry House, The Oaks, Ridgewood, Swords, Co Dublin, had claimed €60,000 damages for injuries arising from a rear ending at a roundabout near the Pavillion Shopping Centre Swords in September 2014.

Judge Jacqueline Linnane, in dismissing Peka’s claim and awarding costs against him, said she had been satisfied he had brought a fraudulent claim. The judge described Peka as a liar and a man not to be trusted.

Exaggerated

After her judgment, Cyril Moloney, on behalf of Allianz, issued a statement in which he said the outcome of the case vindicated Allianz Ireland’s ongoing zero tolerance stance with potential fraudsters who may either have exaggerated their case or made spurious claims.

“Insurance fraud has grown with one in 10 road traffic accident claims in Ireland now thought to be spurious or exaggerated,” Mr Moloney said.

This year alone Allianz had challenged more than 1,500 court claims, he said.

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Curtain comes down for the much-loved 'king of cabaret'

Legendary cabaret singer Sonny Knowles has been described as “a great dad and a great man” after he died yesterday aged 86.

The Dubliner died peacefully at his home surrounded by his family, ‘Liveline’ presenter Joe Duffy announced.

Knowles grew up in the Liberties and started out working as a tailor before he found a career in showbusiness.

He played the clarinet and saxophone in the Dublin Musical School and quickly fell in love with performing.

He rose to prominence during the showband era, performing in the Johnny Butler Band, Earl Gill’s Band, the Pacific Showband and Dermot O’Brien’s showband.

Songwriter and broadcaster Shay Healy paid tribute to his old friend, highlighting his kind nature and charming sense of humour.

“We all enjoyed him for what he was. He was a very funny character. He was an honest performer in that he gave great value for money,” he told the Irish Independent.

“Back in those days, there was no line of demarcation between a showbiz singer and an accountant. You’d all be drinking in the same clubs.

“He was a very nice guy. He was very entertaining, a great man for stories.”

The singer is survived by his wife Sheila and children, Geraldine, Aisling and Gary.

Speaking on ‘Liveline’, Geraldine told how she and the rest of the family were by his side when he passed away.

“It’s wonderful to hear [the tributes]. I’m very grateful. He passed away this morning,” she said.

“He went downhill very quickly since Monday but it was very peaceful and I know he’s in a better place now.

“We were able to spend time with him this morning and he went peacefully away.”

Geraldine lives in Australia where, she said, her parents had spent considerable time in recent years.

“He used to forget how hot it would get out there. They used to come out and spend three, four months at a time with us. He did like it,” she said.

“I have grandchildren now too and he has great-grandchildren out there. He was a great dad, a great man.

“I looked at him this morning shortly after he passed away and I thought, ‘how lucky were we to have you?’ I’m very proud of him.”

Geraldine added that she believed her mother was in “a state of shock” in the wake of her husband’s death.

“They were 65, 66 years together. God love her, it’s very sad to watch,” she said.

DJ and singer Maxi, whose real name is Irene McCoubrey, spoke of the sound advice Knowles imparted to her when she was a member of girl group Maxi, Dick and Twink.

“He was so proud of [his family]. He said to me one time, ‘Everything is a turning point chicken. It’s just a turning point, just keep going.’

“He showed a great example for everybody. ‘Learn something else, there’s always something out there. It’s a crazy business, that’s what you sign up for.’ Generous with his time. I had to pull in and have a good cry [when I heard the news]. I’m heartbroken. What a gentleman.”

Dublin woman Veronica Hearst (72) had met the iconic singer several times over the years after he worked with her mother Angela and aunt Deirdre in Polikoffs factory.

“My grandfather would have been his boss. My grandfather said when they were singing, they were working. In the 40s in the factories, they would sing all day,” she said.

“That was the way it was. Sonny and my aunt used to do duets together. They would have been the same age, they would have been mid-teens at that stage.

“He asked her out for a date and she wouldn’t go because he’d no overcoat. This was the story my mother told us and I half-believed it. We met Sonny several times and he said, ‘Oh yes, I remember it well.’

“We met him at cabarets and he always came over to my mother,” she added.

Joe Duffy said he knew Knowles for years and spoke fondly of him throughout the programme.

“I led the campaign to crown Sonny Knowles the king of cabaret. Above all, he was a gentleman. Deeply saddened at his passing. A great musician, singer, friend, husband and father.” he said.

“I idolised him. One of nature’s gentlemen. My condolences to Sheila, Geraldine Gary and Aisling, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

RTÉ’s Ronan Collins said: “A very sad day, he was just a superb person. It was always a joy to work with Sonny, musicians were his friends on the stage and he made them feel like stars.

“He was an extraordinary man. He was a master.”

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Man (50) shot twice in head at housing estate becomes 19th victim of vicious gangland feud

A 50-year-old has become the 19th victim of the Hutch-Kinahan feud after being shot twice in the head in a Co Kildare housing estate.

The man, who was named locally as Clive Staunton, was shot in the Glen Easton housing estate in Leixlip at approximately 9.15pm last night.

Mr Staunton was originally from the Greek Street flats in Dublin’s north inner city but had been staying in the Leixlip area recently.

He had no previous criminal convictions but had some Hutch family connections.

A white car was seen fleeing the scene of the shooting and was later found burnt out.

The scene at Glen Easton Way was sealed off last night with a strong Garda presence.

The victim’s body remained at the scene outside a house last night.

A post-mortem examination is expected to be completed later today and the scene has been preserved.

Gardaí are probing whether Mr Staunton, who is believed to have been a street trader, might have been at the Aviva Stadium for the Ireland versus Northern Ireland match last night and then went home before the fatal shooting.

Neighbours reported hearing a sound “just like fireworks” after nine o’clock.

One neighbour said she was used to hearing children on the street and assumed it was some fireworks left over from Halloween. She added that area was very safe.

Another young woman was seen walking along the road near the scene in a distressed state.

The latest death in the feud is likely to lead to increasing tensions in the inner city.

The last person to die in the deadly feud was Jason ‘Buda’ Molyneux, who suffered six gunshot wounds to his chest and stomach in January. His murder in Dublin’s north inner city came just days after Derek Coakley Hutch was gunned down outside Wheatfield Prison on January 20.

Mr Coakley Hutch was a nephew of Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch, and was the fourth member of the family to be shot dead in just two years.

The feud between the Hutch family and the Kinahan cartel erupted in September 2015 when Gary Hutch – another nephew of Gerry Hutch – was murdered in Spain.

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Brexit deal: Who wants to be Britain's next prime minister?

LONDON (REUTERS) – Prime Minister Theresa May’s position as leader of the ruling Conservative Party is under assault by eurosceptic lawmakers who reject her EU exit strategy and want a more pro-Brexit leader.

May has vowed to fight on to the next election in 2022, but if enough lawmakers demand her resignation she will face a confidence vote.

Below is a summary of some of those who could be in the frame to replace May:

BORIS JOHNSON, 54

The former foreign minister is May’s most outspoken critic over Brexit. He resigned from the Cabinet in July in protest at her handling of the exit negotiations.

Johnson, regarded by many eurosceptics as the face of the 2016 Brexit campaign, set out his pitch to the membership in a bombastic speech at the party’s annual conference in October – some members queued for hours to get a seat.

He called on the party to return to its traditional values of low tax and strong policing, and not to try and ape the policies of the left-wing Labour Party.

JEREMY HUNT, 52

Hunt replaced Johnson as foreign minister in July and has urged the Conservative membership to set aside their differences over Brexit and unite against a common foe: the EU.

Hunt voted to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum. He served six years as Britain’s health minister – a role which has made him unpopular with many voters who work in or rely on the state-run, financially stretched National Health Service.

JACOB REES-MOGG, 49

A flamboyant millionaire who cultivates the image of an English gentleman from days gone by, Rees-Mogg has developed a cult following among those who want a more radical departure from the EU than May is proposing.

Rees-Mogg, the head of an influential eurosceptic group of lawmakers, announced he had submitted a letter of no confidence in the Prime Minister the day after she unveiled her draft Brexit deal.

But does he want the top job? Asked immediately after saying he had submitted his letter to depose May, Rees-Mogg said he would not be putting himself forward for the job.

DOMINIC RAAB, 44


Dominic Raab leaves Downing Street in London on Nov 14, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

Britain’s Brexit negotiator quit May’s government on Thursday in protest at her draft exit agreement, saying it did not match the promises the Conservative Party made at a 2017 election. Raab served only five months as head of the Brexit department, having been appointed in July.

He was seen as a relative newcomer to the top table of government, but had served in junior ministerial roles since being elected in 2010. Raab campaigned for Brexit ahead of the 2016 referendum on Britain’s EU membership and is a black belt in karate.

SAJID JAVID, 48


Sajid Javid arrives for a Cabinet meeting at Downing Street in London. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Javid, a former banker and champion of free markets, has served a number of cabinet roles and scores consistently well in polls of party members. A second-generation immigrant of Pakistani heritage, he has talked about having a portrait of former Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher on his office wall.

Javid voted “remain” in the 2016 Brexit vote but was previously considered to be eurosceptic.

MICHAEL GOVE, 51


Michael Gove arrives at 10 Downing Street, London. PHOTO: REUTERS

Gove, one of the highest-profile Brexit campaigners during the referendum, has had to rebuild his Cabinet career after falling early to May in the contest to replace David Cameron, who resigned the day after losing the 2016 Brexit referendum.

High-energy, and seen as one of the most effective members of cabinet in bringing forward new policies, Gove has become a surprise ally to May and so far backed her Brexit strategy.

Gove teamed up with Boris Johnson during the 2016 Brexit campaign only to pull his support for Johnson’s subsequent leadership bid at the last moment and run himself.

DAVID DAVIS, 69


David Davis (centre) listens to Boris Johnson speaking at a fringe meeting during the Conservative Party Conference. PHOTO: REUTERS

Davis, a leading eurosceptic, was appointed to lead Britain’s negotiations with the EU in July 2016, but he resigned two years later in protest at her plans for a long term relationship with the bloc.

He has been touted as a possible interim leader.

PENNY MORDAUNT, 45


Penny Mordaunt leaves 10 Downing Street, in London. PHOTO: REUTERS

Mordaunt is one of the last remaining pro-Brexit members of May’s Cabinet, where she serves as international development minister. Many had expected her to join the wave of resignations that followed the publication of May’s draft withdrawal deal.

ANDREA LEADSOM, 55


Andrea Leadsom arrives to attend the weekly meeting of the Cabinet in Downing Street. PHOTO: AFP

Leadsom, another pro-Brexit campaigner who still serves in May’s cabinet, made it to the last two in the 2016 contest to replace Cameron. But, rather than force a run-off vote against Theresa May, she withdrew from the contest. She currently runs parliamentary business for the government.

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Garda investigation launched after man threatened at knife-point in aggravated burglary

Gardai are investigating an aggravated burglary during which two men kicked in the front door of a home and threatened the owner at knife point.

The shocking break-in happened in the Ballina area of Mayo on Monday night at around 9.30pm.

It is understood that two men broke through the front door of the property before threatening a man – aged in his 40s – with a knife.

A small amount of valuables were taken but the victim was not physically injured during the burglary.

Gardai based in Ballina are following a definite line of inquiry in relation to the break-in and at this stage no arrests have yet been made.

A source said that the incident is being investigated as a targeted burglary and that damage was also caused to the door.

A garda spokeswoman said: “Gardaí are investigating an aggravated burglary which occurred Monday November 12, 20118 at approximately 9.30pm at a house in Ballina, Co. Mayo.

“A man in his 40’s was threatened. No arrests have been made and an investigation is ongoing,” the spokeswoman said.

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'A cruel paedophile': Officer guilty of raping 13-year-old girl

Ian Naude was a student officer at Cheshire Police when he assaulted the teenager in October 2017, raping her in his car and filming it on his phone.

He started working for the police in April 2017 even though he had been named as a suspect in a child grooming case in a neighbouring force in the months leading up to his appointment.

During a two-week trial, Naude was described as someone who was obsessed with taking the virginity of teenage girls – and the court heard that he had joined the police with the intention of meeting vulnerable victims.

A jury at Liverpool Crown Court found the 30-year-old guilty of rape, sexual assault, and four charges of attempting to arrange the commission of a child sex offence. He was also found guilty of arranging a child sex offence, relating to five complainants aged between 12 and 15.

Police believe there may be more victims who are yet to come forward.

Judge Clement Goldstone, who presided over the trial, warned he faces a “very significant sentence indeed”.

Naude admitted having sex with the 13-year-old girl, who he had met while on duty, but said she had consented.

He met his victim in October 2017 after being called to a domestic incident at her home. He contacted her on Facebook days later.

He exchanged sexual messages and images over social media before taking her out in his car and raping her.

The court heard Naude would gain the trust of young girls by posing as a 15-year-old called Jake Green on social media.

The father-of-one also had an account under the name Bruce Ian Wayne, a Batman reference, and a Snapchat account named King of the North.

Naude would persuade his victims to undress and sometimes perform sexual acts on camera, before sending them pictures and video of himself masturbating, the court heard.

In some cases, Naude threatened to send the photos to other people on the victims’ Facebook friends list and on one occasion told a victim he would harass her friends unless she sent him pictures.

He admitted two counts of engaging in sexual communication with a child, 14 counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and one count of taking indecent photos of a child.

He also admitted four counts of making indecent photos of a child, six counts of causing a child to watch a sexual act, two counts of misconduct in a public office and one count of possessing indecent photos of a child.

However, he denied attempts to arrange to commit child sex offences – and claimed messages sent to girls asking them to meet were just fantasy.

Naude was accidentally copied into a police email which revealed the plan to arrest him after the victim came forward to report the rape.

When his phone was seized, officers found 756 images had been deleted from it. A laptop and another phone were found in a field in Market Drayton, after he gave a hand-drawn map of their location to his cellmate.

Martin McRobb, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Ian Naude claimed his victim had consented to sex. But the disturbing video of the incident on his phone did not show the face of a consenting woman. It showed the face of a sad, scared and abused 13-year-old girl.

“She had been groomed by a police officer who had a history of manipulating, pressurising and blackmailing young girls into performing sexual acts for his perverted pleasure.

“Ian Naude thought he could get away with it but, thankfully, his victim found the courage to tell her family what had happened.”

Naude was arrested the day after the teenager came forward, and was suspended, disciplined and removed by Cheshire Police.

Acting chief constable Janette McCormick personally apologised to the victim’s family and said the force had changed its recruitment and screening process.

But an investigation by the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) found there was no case to answer for misconduct from any individual officer linked to his recruitment.

The teenage victim had been receiving specialist support from Cheshire Police.

He will be sentenced on 13 December.

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‘Phallic’ owl statue mocked in Serbia

A recently erected owl statue in northern Serbian has drawn mockery for its allegedly phallic shape.

The 2.4 metre (8ft) terracotta sculpture was created to celebrate the town of Kikinda’s status as a bird-watching hub for the world’s largest roosting population of long-eared owls.

But shortly after it was raised, critics decried it as obscene.

The original Facebook post on the town’s page to celebrate the statue received dozens of mocking comments.

“This is great,” wrote one. “I just can’t figure out what it reminds me of”.

Да ли сте приметили да полако стижу наше драге гошће, сове?
Није ни чудо, јер стигао је и Совембар! 😊🦉🍂

Аутор статуе:…

End of Facebook post by Град Кикинда

“I love owls and I love the city but this sculpture is pure failure,” another said.

There was also anger, with some speaking of the “shame” it has brought to Kikinda.

“Now everyone will make fun of us,” one Facebook user commented.

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The statue’s creator, Jovan Blat, told Serbian newspaper Vecernje Novosti that he was prepared to make a new sculpture in light of the criticism.

The statue was not intended to be “a copy” of an owl, but rather a “stylised sculpture” with “an elongated, tubular body”, he said.

“It is clear… that everyone does not understand contemporary art,” he said, while admitting he may have “some technical limitations”.

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French ex-minister cleared of rape

A French court has cleared an ex-government minister of rape and sexual assault charges made by two former employees.

The women alleged that Georges Tron – then mayor of Draveil, a town outside Paris – and a female councillor, Brigitte Gruel, had assaulted them between 2007 and 2010.

Ms Gruel has also been cleared of all charges. Both denied any wrongdoing.

Mr Tron resigned as a junior minister when the allegations surfaced in 2011.

“I’ve had seven extremely difficult years. I think of my family. I know my fate is in your hands,” Mr Tron told the court before the decision to clear him was made, Europe 1 reported.

Prosecutors had called for him to be jailed for six years and for Ms Gruel to get four years.

Their accusers, Virginie Ettel and Eva Loubrieu, had alleged that they were pressured into taking part in reflexology sessions, some of them conducted with Ms Gruel.

The sessions began with foot massages, but developed into assault by penetration, the former employees said.

After the verdict Ms Loubrieu, 44, said she was “very disappointed” but said she would “not give up the fight”, AFP reported.

In 2010 Ms Ettel quit her secretarial job after two years and tried to commit suicide, French media reported. Ms Loubrieu, who was hired in 2007, was sacked for alleged theft in 2009, the reports said.

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