Flights Suspended In Irish Airport After Fire Guts Runway

A picture released to AFP courtesy of Jack O’Shea shows firecrews attending an Omni Air International aircraft on the tarmac at Shannon Airport in County Clare, mid-west Ireland, on August 15, 2019 after an incident.  Jack O’SHEA / AFP

 

Flights were suspended at Shannon Airport in western Ireland for several hours on Thursday after a fire broke out on the undercarriage of an aircraft on the runway, an airport spokesman said.

The Boeing aircraft is owned by Omni Air International, a US charter carrier that specialises in military and government transport flights.

The airport resumed flights a few hours later, with delays expected to continue for the rest of Thursday.

“Airport emergency services are currently on the scene and earlier extinguished an external fire to the undercarriage,” a spokesman for the Shannon Group said in a statement as the incident unfolded.

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“All passengers and crew have disembarked safely and are currently in the terminal building.”

Images from the scene on social media showed the plane surrounded by numerous fire engines.

“The Omni Boeing 767-300 aircraft rejected takeoff and was safely evacuated,” Omni Air said on Twitter.

“Initial reports indicate no serious injuries to passengers or crew.”

Shannon Airport declined to say whether the plane was transporting troops.

Omni Air International did not respond to a request for clarification, whilst the US Department of Defense said it did not presently have information on the matter when contacted by AFP.

The Shannon hub is controversial in Ireland for facilitating the movement of US troops, providing logistical support to operations abroad.

According to the Irish government, 24,500 US troops passed through the airport between January and March of this year.

AFP

Irishman, 99, Competes At World Tango Championships In Argentina

Tango dancers perform during the Tango World Championship in Buenos Aires on August 14, 2019. RONALDO SCHEMIDT / AFP

 

A 99-year-old Irishman competing at the World Tango Championships in Argentina has received an ovation for his performance from aficionados at the Buenos Aires venue.

“Tango brings me a lot of happiness,” James McManus told local newspapers through an interpreter. “Dancing is very important socially.”

Tango fans in McManus’ native Ireland raised money for his transatlantic trip. The fit nonagenerian said he only took up tango in 2002, when he was already in his 80s.

Dressed in a white jacket, black trousers and tie, he danced in the first qualifying round with an Argentine partner, Lucia Seva.

The couple won the biggest round of applause from the knowledgeable audience at the Argentine capital’s Usina del Arte venue.

The 2019 edition of the world championships features 744 couples from 36 countries.

Journalist Killed In Northern Ireland ‘Terrorist Incident’

Police secure the area where a journalist was fatally shot amid rioting overnight in the Creggan area of Derry (Londonderry) in Northern Ireland on April 19, 2019. Paul Faith / AFP

 

A journalist was shot dead during riots in Northern Ireland in what police Friday were treating as a terrorist incident following the latest upsurge in violence to shake the troubled region.

“Lyra McKee was murdered during orchestrated violence in Creggan last night,” Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said in a statement.

McKee had earlier posted an image that appeared to be from the riots in the Creggan housing estate in the city of Londonderry, also known as Derry, accompanied by the words “Derry tonight. Absolute madness.”

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Images of the unrest posted on social media showed a car and van ablaze and hooded individuals throwing petrol bombs and fireworks at police vehicles.

“A single gunman fired shots in a residential area of the city and as a result wounded Ms McKee,” said Hamilton, adding that police believed the gunman was a “violent dissident republican.”

“We are treating this as a terrorist incident and we have launched a murder enquiry,” he added.

Journalist Matthew Hughes earlier identified the dead woman as one of his friends.

“I just received the heartbreaking news that my friend @LyraMcKee was murdered tonight in a terrorist incident in Derry,” he wrote on Twitter.

McKee had written for The Atlantic magazine and Buzzfeed News and was named by Forbes Magazine in 2016 as one of their “30 under 30” oustanding figures in media, according to her literary agent Janklow & Nesbit.

Leona O’Neill, a reporter with the Belfast Telegraph, said she had been next to McKee when she was shot.

“I was standing beside this young woman when she fell beside a police Land Rover tonight in Creggan #Derry. I called an ambulance for her but police put her in the back of their vehicle and rushed her to hospital where she died. Just 29 years old. Sick to my stomach tonight,” she tweeted.

 Good Friday Agreement 

The violence came in the run-up to the Easter weekend, when Republicans opposed to the British presence in Northern Ireland mark the anniversary of a 1916 uprising against British rule.

A car-bombing and the hijacking of two vans in Londonderry earlier this year were also blamed on a dissident paramilitary group.

Michelle O’Neill, the deputy leader of Irish republican party Sinn Fein, condemned the killing.

“My heart goes out to the family of the young woman shot dead by so-called dissidents,” she wrote on Twitter.

“This was an attack on the community, an attack on the peace process and an attack on the Good Friday Agreement,” the peace deal that largely brought an end to violence on the island exactly 21 years ago, she added, calling for calm.

Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Union Party, which is in favour of Britain’s presence in Northern Ireland, described the death as “heartbreaking news”.

“A senseless act. A family has been torn apart. Those who brought guns onto our streets in the 70s, 80s & 90s were wrong. It is equally wrong in 2019. No one wants to go back,” she wrote on Twitter.

The Good Friday Agreement in 1998 largely brought an end to three decades of sectarian bloodshed in Northern Ireland between republican and unionist paramilitaries, as well as British armed forces, in a period known as “the Troubles”.

Some 3,500 people were killed in the conflict — many at the hands of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Police have blamed a group called the New IRA for the flare-up in violence in recent months.

Some have expressed fears that recent attacks could be a sign that paramilitaries are seeking to exploit the current political turbulence over Northern Ireland and its border with the Republic of Ireland caused by Brexit.

Londonderry was the scene of one of the darkest episodes in the Troubles in 1972, known as Bloody Sunday, when British troops opened fire on a civil rights demonstration and killed 13 people. A 14th victim later died of his wounds.

A former British soldier was charged with murder last month over the killings.

AFP

Harry And Meghan To Visit Ireland On First Overseas Trip

 

Britain’s Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, (R) and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, (L) leave Windsor Castle in Windsor on May 19, 2018 after their wedding to attend an evening reception at Frogmore House. PHOTO: Steve Parsons / POOL / AFP

 

Prince Harry and his new wife Meghan will make their first overseas engagement as a married couple when they visit Ireland in July, their Kensington Palace office announced Tuesday. 

“The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will visit Dublin, Ireland on Tuesday 10th and Wednesday 11th July,” it said, adding that the trip was requested by the British government.

The pair “are looking forward to learning more about Ireland’s history and experiencing its rich culture, as well as meeting the people who are shaping the country’s future,” said the statement.

Harry and Meghan have already announced that they will visit Australia, Fiji, Tonga and New Zealand later this year for their first overseas tour as a married couple.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who were married at Windsor Castle last month, have timed their trip to coincide with the Invictus Games in Sydney in October.

Harry, the second son of heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, set up the global sports championship for wounded personnel after a decade in the army.

All four countries on the tour are members of the Commonwealth, the 53-nation grouping for which Harry is a youth ambassador.

AFP

Abortion Stigma Is Gone, Says Irish PM

Yes campaigners hold posters calling for British-ruled Northern Ireland to liberalise its strict abortion laws, as campaigners wait for the official result in the Irish abortion referendum vote at Dublin Castle. PHOTO: Paul FAITH / AFP

 

Ireland on Saturday voted to erase the stigma and burden of shame from hundreds of thousands of women who secretly had abortions, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said.

Speaking after a landslide referendum in favour of repealing the republic’s ban on abortions, Varadkar said Ireland had emerged from the shadows and come of age.

“Today is an historic day for Ireland. A quiet revolution has taken place,” he said in a speech at Dublin Castle, where the referendum result was declared, showing 66 percent had voted to repeal the constitutional ban on abortions.

“We as a people have spoken. And we say that we trust women and we respect women and their decisions.

“No more doctors telling their patients there is nothing that can be done for them in their own country. No more lonely journeys across the Irish Sea.

“No more stigma. The veil of secrecy is lifted. No more isolation. The burden of shame is gone.”

Varadkar, 39, was given a rock star welcome by cheering crowds packed into the castle forecourt to hear the final result of the referendum.

He said Ireland would now provide compassion and medical care for women in crisis pregnancies instead of turning a blind eye.

He told No voters feeling cut adrift that Ireland was the same country they knew, “just a little more tolerant, open and respectful”.

 ‘Wrenching pain’ of mistreatment

Ireland’s constitution was amended in 1983 to ban abortions. Saturday’s referendum result will likely see the amendment repealed before the year is out.

“For 35 years we have hidden the reality of crisis pregnancies behind our laws. We have hidden our conscience behind the constitution,” said Varadkar.

“This majority decision changes all that.”

He said Saturday would be remembered as the day that historically deeply socially conservative Ireland”stepped out from under the last of our shadows and into the light.

“The day we came of age as a country. The day we took our place among the nations of the world.”

He ended his speech saying: “The wrenching pain of decades of mistreatment of Irish women cannot be unlived. However, today we have ensured that it does not have to be lived again.”

Varadkar, Ireland’s first gay prime minister, came to power last year in what was seen as another major milestone for diversity in Ireland. He took over as leader of the centre-right Fine Gael party, leading a minority government.

Born to an Indian father and an Irish mother, Varadkar was a hospital doctor before becoming a family doctor in 2010.

He changed his position on abortion after hearing of two particular cases during his time as health minister from 2014 to 2016, which convinced him terminations should not be banned in the Irish constitution.

As he left Dublin Castle, he stopped for selfies and chatted with the handful of Yes-supporters still in the forecourt.

AFP

Ireland Overturns Abortion Ban In Landslide Vote

‘Yes’ campaigners celebrate the official result of the Irish abortion referendum at Dublin Castle in Dublin on May 26, 2018 which showed a landslide decision in favour of repealing the constitutional ban on abortions. PHOTO: Paul FAITH / AFP

 

Ireland voted by a landslide to ditch its strict abortion laws in a landmark referendum that Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said had finally lifted decades of stigma and shame.

More than 66 percent of voters in what has been a traditionally staunchly Catholic country backed repealing the constitutional ban on terminations, triggering scenes of tearful jubilation in Dublin on Saturday after a divisive and often emotional campaign.

Hugging, celebrating, singing and cheering wildly, thousands crammed into the courtyard of Dublin Castle, where the official result was declared, chanting “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

“Wonderful, wonderful, today is wonderful!” said 65-year-old Eileen Shields, who had been ostracised for falling pregnant outside of marriage when she was 18.

The crowds cheered and popped champagne corks as the result was announced. Women and men wearing “Repeal” tops and “Yes” badges waved Irish flags and placards reading “Thank you”, with love hearts on.

Speaking through tears, Stasia Clancy, 64, said: “This is like an explosion of the repression and the suppression of the last 100 years.”

At Dublin’s RDS count centre, 40-year-old nurse Ruth Bowie wept at the results.

She told AFP: “I had to leave my country to get the healthcare that I needed when I was told that my baby wouldn’t survive outside the womb and I’ve told my story over and over again just in the hope that this day would come — and it’s finally come.”

 ‘Veil of stigma lifted’

The final results of Friday’s referendum showed 66.4 percent voted for removing the constitutional ban, while 33.6 voted against.

Some 1,429,981 votes were cast for Yes. The turnout was 64 percent.

Among the 40 constituencies, the pro-choice vote peaked at 78 percent in Dublin Bay South, while rural Donegal was the only one to vote against liberalising abortion, by 52 percent.

“A quiet revolution has taken place,” Varadkar said in a speech at Dublin Castle.

“No more stigma. The veil of secrecy is lifted. No more isolation. The burden of shame is gone.”

He said Saturday would be remembered as the day Ireland “stepped out from under the last of our shadows and into the light. The day we came of age as a country.”

His government proposes allowing abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and between 12 and 24 weeks in exceptional circumstances.

Varadkar said he wanted the law in force by the end of the year and Health Minister Simon Harris told AFP that the cabinet would meet on Tuesday to approve the drafting of legislation.

Crumbling church influence

The result is another hammer blow to the Roman Catholic Church’s authority in Ireland, coming three years after referendum voters backed legalising same-sex marriage by 62 percent.

The Church’s influence has crumbled in recent years due to a series of child sex abuse scandals.

The referendum comes three months before Pope Francis visits Ireland for the World Meeting of Families.

An exit poll for The Irish Times newspaper suggested 70 percent of women and 65 percent of men voted to overturn the ban.

People over 65 voted 60 percent against. However, all other age groups backed the proposal, with support at 87 percent among voters aged 18 to 24.

Ailbhe Smyth, 71, co-director of the official Together for Yes campaign, said real-life testimonies from women affected by the ban had helped swing the vote.

“The stories, the experiences, women’s voices, women’s and couples, it was a central part of our strategy,” she told reporters.

The Love Both official pro-life campaign said regardless of the result, “our work will continue to protect unborn babies and their mothers”.

“Our campaign does not end with the referendum, but when the government properly supports the mother and child,” it said.

Abortion is still banned in some 20 countries worldwide, while others have highly restrictive laws in place. In the European Union, predominantly Catholic Malta is the only country with a total ban.

‘The North is next’

Ireland introduced a constitutional ban on abortion following a 1983 referendum. Terminating a pregnancy carries a 14-year maximum jail term.

The law was tweaked in 2013 to allow terminations if the mother’s life is at risk.

The ban has led to thousands of women travelling each year to neighbouring Britain, where terminations are legal, or increasingly turning to abortion pills sold online.

Since 1983, around 170,000 Irish women have gone abroad for terminations.

In the UK, abortion is legal on the British mainland, but remains outlawed in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Fein’s party leaders from both sides of the border held up a placard at Dublin Castle reading: “The North is next”.

AFP

Gaza Killings: Ireland Summons Israeli Ambassador

South Africa Recalls Ambassador To Israel Over Gaza Deaths
Tear gas is fired at protesters during clashes with Israeli forces near the border between the Gaza strip and Israel, east of Gaza City on May 14, 2018, following the the controversial move to Jerusalem of the United States embassy.                                                            THOMAS COEX / AFP

 

Ireland summoned Israel’s ambassador to Dublin Zeev Boker on Tuesday to protest after Israeli forces killed 59 Palestinians during clashes along the Gaza border over the US embassy opening in Jerusalem.

Foreign Minister Simon Coveney “summoned the Israeli ambassador to Ireland… to express Ireland’s shock and dismay at the level of death and injury yesterday on the Gaza Strip,” the ministry said in a statement.

Coveney also asked for “restraint from Israel in the hours and days ahead,” the foreign ministry said.

“The ambassador has been informed of Irish demands for an independent international investigation into yesterday’s deaths led by the UN,” it added.

The ministry said Irish officials in Ramallah reported that health services in Gaza, already stretched because of a lack of equipment and essential medicines, were “overwhelmed with the level of casualties”.

“As well as the death and mass injury, Ireland is also very disturbed by the injuries suffered by health workers as reported by the WHO (World Health Organization),” the statement said.

It said there were 211 recorded attacks against health workers in Gaza and 25 ambulances had been damaged.

AFP

Ireland Expels Russian Diplomat Over Britain Spy Poisoning

FILE COPY Russia’s President,Vladimir Putin

 

Ireland ordered out a Russian diplomat on Tuesday in the latest in a wave of expulsions around the world following the poisoning of a former spy with a nerve agent in Britain earlier this month.

“The attack in Salisbury was not just an attack against the United Kingdom but an affront to the international rules-based system on which we all depend for our security and well-being,” the foreign ministry said in a statement announcing the expulsion.

AFP

Ireland Will Bounce Back From Denmark Defeat – O’Neill

Ireland Will Bounce Back From Denmark Defeat - O'Neill
Irlands’s national football team manager Martin O’Neill attends a press conference at the Telia Parken Stadion in Copenhagen on November 10, 2017. Anders Kjaerbye / Scanpix Denmark / AFP

Martin O’Neill has vowed that the Republic of Ireland will bounce back from the worst defeat of his four-year reign when they begin their quest to reach a third European Championship finals in a row.

After holding Denmark scoreless last Saturday, Ireland were crushed 5-1 on Tuesday before a home crowd expecting a first World Cup qualification since 2002.

Ireland now have a long wait until their next competitive fixtures because the qualifiers for the 2020 European Championships do not begin until March 2019.

“We’ve lost a play-off game and we’ll come back again,” O’Neill promised.

“This is hard work and we’ve only been beaten four times in 24 competitive matches since I came in,” added the manager.

O’Neill received plenty of flak of leaving Wes Hoolahan out in order to put the returning David Meyler back into a midfield diamond formation which played to the strengths of Denmark’s hat-trick hero Christian Eriksen.

“We were well beaten in the end. Although we got off to a great start by scoring first, a second goal for us might have made a difference,” said O’Neill who lamented the poor defending that enabled Denmark to take control of the second leg.

“We gave away two sloppy goals in the space of a few minutes and it was a long way back after that,” said O’Neill.

“For their first goal, Harry (Arter) got beaten but we still be able to clear the ball and the second goal is just a comedy of mistakes.

“The whole mindset changes because six or seven minutes earlier, we could have been two goals up.

Denmark boss Age Hareide admitted he was hoping Ireland would adopt a diamond formation, and paid tribute to Tottenham midfielder Eriksen.

“I’d like to thank to you to Ireland,” he said of O’Neill, Hareide’s former teammate at Norwich City.

“Although they shut Eriksen out in Copenhagen, I couldn’t believe the amount of space they gave him to exploit here in Dublin.

“The World Cup is about teams but also great players. It is beamed to a worldwide audience and Christian deserves to be on that stage showing the people what a world-class talent he is. Christian led the way tonight.”

The Norwegian-born manager said he was always confident his team would recover from conceding an early lead to Shane Duffy’s header.

“Our players kept their heads after going a goal down and their work paid off,” he said.

“Conceding in the first five minutes is far better than conceding in the last five minutes… we had plenty of time to come back.”

AFP

Over 10 Nations Support Nigeria’s Northeast Rehabilitation Project

IDPs-Camp-Bomb in northeast NigeriaNigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo has welcomed the offer of support from Ambassadors from several nations who are based in the country in the rehabilitation of the nation’s devastated northeast.

In a meeting on Monday with several Ambassadors, heads of mission and diplomats from the United States, Japan, Turkey, Canada, Australia and eight European nations, the Vice President thanked the envoys and their countries for their attention to matters of the north-east.

He also commended them and the so many international bodies and agencies who have acted and expressed their wishes to offer assistance.

‘The Critical Issue’

The Vice President said the issue of the rehabilitation of the northeast was a “matter close to the president’s heart”.

A statement by the Vice President spokesman, Laolu Akande, said Professor Osinbajo also pointed out that he was also very active in the overall coordination of the efforts.

According to him, the coordination of the rehabilitation plans is now the critical issue, expressing the expectation that the envoys would work with the Presidential Committee on the North-East (PCNI) headed by General T.Y. Danjuma.

He explained that the PCNI was now the new structure President Muhammadu Buhari had put in place to coordinate the efforts, clarifying that the PCNI now encompasses the Presidential Initiative on the North East, which was the former body in place.

According to the statement, the PCNI now also includes the Victims Support Fund, VSF, headed by Danjuma and Safe Schools Initiative formerly in the federal Finance Ministry.

“Like-Minded Ambassadors”

Professor Osinbajo added that his office would actively and directly be involved in overseeing the new structure in addition to his office’s responsibility to supervise the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, another active agency in the process.

The group of ambassadors called “Like-Minded Ambassadors on support for the North-East” was led to the meeting with the Vice President by the United States Ambassador, Mr James Entwistle, who expressed the interest of the international community to partner with the Federal Government in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the North East zone of the country destroyed by the Boko Haram insurgency.

“The group was at the State House to meet with the Vice President, to compare notes and make sure that we understand each other on the scope and size of humanitarian challenges and how we can coordinate when the time comes for the internally displaced to go home,” the United States Ambassador to Nigeria told reporters.

He also said the group had come to discuss the upcoming workshops and seminars and for the diplomats representing different countries to know areas where they could help, as some of them were already helping.

The Ambassador/Head of the European Union Delegation in Nigeria, Mr Michel Arrion, also said that the EU had set aside a trust fund he described as a basket fund, from which funds would be drawn to offer assistance, especially in addressing the root causes of crisis in the Sahel region.

The EU nations represented at the meeting include Britain, France, Germany, Ireland, Denmark, Switzerland, Netherlands and Norway.

Rugby World Cup: Ireland, Argentina Qualify For Quarter Final

rugbyArgentina have secured their place in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals as they subdued Tonga’s physicality and flair, to claim a 45-16 bonus-point victory in Leicester on Monday.

The win lifts the Pumas above Tonga to second place in Pool C, with the Pacific Islanders yet to play group leaders and defending champions, New Zealand, while Argentina need only beat Namibia to seal their passage to the last eight.

Argentina fly half, Nicolas Sanchez, proved the difference, tormenting Tonga with the boot and ball in hand, weighing in with 25 points from four penalties, four conversions and one of the Pumas’ five tries.

Also, Ireland have secured their place in the finals, but were far from convincing in their first real test of the competition, squeezing past Italy 16-9 to move on to a group decider against France.

After trading early penalties, Keith Earls was slickly put through to become Ireland’s record World Cup try scorer, but the Six Nations Champions were sloppy throughout the half and Tommaso Allan’s boot kept the tireless Italians within four points at the break.

Idowu Fearon Appointed World Anglican Secretary

idowu fearonThe Archbishop of Kaduna Arch Diocese, Most Rev. Josiah Idowu Fearon, has been appointed as the new Secretary-General of the Anglican Communion worldwide.

The appointment followed the resignation of former Secretary-General of the church, Kenneth Kearon, who was appointed Bishop in Ireland early this year.

Bishop Idowu Fearon was selected from initial field of applicants from Oceania, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.

This is the first time an African is occupying the position.

Briefing newsmen on his new appointment, Bishop Fearon expressed excitement to take up the post and gave an assurance to serve the church diligently.

The Bishop said that his appointment would assist Africa, Nigeria in particular, in tackling some of its security challenges, poverty and diseases currently ravaging the country and Africa as a whole.

He added that his appointment would not influence the Nigerian Church and Africa in adopting same sex marriage as being practiced by some churches in Europe and America.

The Anglican Communion is an international association of churches consisting of 80 million members worldwide.

Bishop Idowu Fearon has been Bishop of Kaduna since 1988 and currently, he is the Director of the Kaduna Anglican Study Centre.