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Tánaiste expresses sympathy to Buckley family

Written By doni icha on Kamis, 16 April 2015 | 22.40

Tánaiste Joan Burton has expressed her sympathy on behalf of the Government to the family and friends of Karen Buckley.

Speaking in the Dáil, Ms Burton expressed particular sympathy with Ms Buckley's parents John and Marian and her brothers.

She said: "It's every parent's nightmare what has unfolded in the past few days."

The Tánaiste added that Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan, Minister of State Sean Sherlock and the Consulate office in Scotland are doing everything they can for the family.

Her sentiments were echoed by Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald and Fianna Fáil's Éamon Ó Cuív.

Mr Flanagan earlier expressed his sympathies to Ms Buckley's family after police searching for the missing student found remains on a farm near Glasgow.

He said he was greatly saddened by the news emerging from Scotland.

"All of our thoughts and prayers are with Karen's parents, John and Marian, and with all of her family and friends at this tragic time."

The Glasgow Caledonian University released a statement saying the university community was deeply saddened by the news.

The 24-year-old, who had worked as a nurse, began studying occupational therapy at the university in February.

The university said thoughts are with Ms Buckley's family, friends and classmates at this very difficult time.

Support services have been made available for students.

Ms Buckley had previously studied nursing at the University of Limerick and it also expressed its sadness about the developments.

It said: "Karen was a very valued member of the UL Community as well as the wider nursing and medical communities in Limerick, having spent time working in both the University Hospital Limerick and the University Maternity Hospital.

"The thoughts of the entire UL community are with her parents and family and her wide circle of friends as well as her UL classmates and medical colleagues."

Meanwhile, a fundraising page for Ms Buckley's family has raised more than £40,000 (€55,000) since it was set up yesterday.

More than 2,000 people have so far donated to the 'Help Find Karen' gofundme.com page, many of them anonymous.

The page, which had an initial target of £5,000, will close at 9.30pm tonight.

It was set up by Ms Buckley's University of Limerick classmates "in the hope of raising funds to help Karen's family in any way possible during this difficult time".

The funds will be used to pay for the family's accommodation and travel expenses, and for the upkeep of their farm in Cork.

This morning, police in Glasgow searching for Ms Buckley discovered human remains on a farm north of the city.

This afternoon they confirmed that the body was that of Ms Buckley.

A 21-year-old man has been arrested in connection with her death.

Ms Buckley, from Mourneabbey near Mallow in Co Cork, moved to Glasgow earlier this year.

The local community and people elsewhere have been responding to the developments in Scotland.

A special prayer service was arranged in Ms Buckley's home village in north Cork last night for people to show support for the family.

The Mass of Hope was held at the Church of St Michael the Archangel in Mourneabbey.

Bishop of Cloyne William Crean led the prayers.

"On my own behalf and on behalf of the faithful of the Diocese of Cloyne, I wish to offer prayerful support to the family of Karen Buckley at this painful time as they await the safe return of Karen," he said.

Mourneabbey Community Council has said its thoughts and prayers are with the Buckley family.

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O'Donnell application to annul bankruptcy refused

The High Court has refused the applications of Brian and Mary Patricia O'Donnell to annul an adjudication of bankruptcy.

The O'Donnells accepted that they borrowed in excess of €65m over a period of years in the 2000s.

However, they argued that their borrowings were with Bank of Ireland Private Banking and not Bank of Ireland.

Ms Justice Costello said in her judgment: "There was no fraud or abuse of process by the bank at any stage ... I refuse the applications in each case."

Mr O'Donnell said they will be appealing the ruling.

The O'Donnells have been living in the former family home in Killiney since the end of February.

The Court of Appeal ruled yesterday that they must vacate the Gorse Hill property, but it granted a stay on the order to allow the couple to appeal.

They were also ordered to pay the costs of their case. The couple owes more than €71m to the bank.

The O'Donnells argued that Bank of Ireland was not a creditor of either of them, they said all their borrowing were with Bank of Ireland Private Banking.

They also said that BOIPB was not a licensed bank and that it was a criminal offence for BOIPB to carry on the business of a bank.

Ms Justice Costello said she rejected the submission that the bank concealed the true identity of the lender from the O'Donnells and said she found it extremely difficult to believe that people borrowing such very substantial sums would not consider very carefully all documentation.

She said in any event they clearly had an obligation to do so and cannot escape the consequence of their own failure in that regard.

She said there was no fraud or abuse of process by the Bank at any stage in the various hearings in courts here and in England, where the O'Donnells first petitioned for bankruptcy.

The application to annul their bankruptcy was rejected.

Before Ms Justice Costello finished delivering her judgment Brian O'Donnell stood up telling the High Court that he had to be at another court hearing and excused himself, before telling the court he would be appealing the judgment.

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Possible supplementary budget for free GP care

The Government has not ruled out a supplementary budget to implement the proposal for free GP care for all children under the age of six towards the end of the year.

Speaking in the Dáil this morning, Minister of State at the Department of Health Kathleen Lynch said a supplementary budget may be needed. 

She was responding to Fianna Fáil's Billy Kelleher, who asked where the money would come from as it had not been identified in the original estimates.

Minister Lynch said: "We may need a supplementary budget towards the end of the year - right now we don't need it".

She assured the house that any supplementary budget would not come out of any other area of health.

The Irish Medical Organisation reached an agreement last week on free GP care for children under six.

However, the Executive Council of the National Association of General Practitioners has decided to reject the GP contract, that was agreed between the Department of Health and the IMO.

It is now up to individual GPs to accept or reject the new contract.

Meanwhile, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has called on Hospital Managers and Chief Financial Officers get a grip of budgets.

Speaking in the Dáil this morning, he said in January and February this year, the number of people attending Emergency Departments reduced.

"What happened", he said, "was that hospitals spent more money, hired more staff and saw fewer patients."

Minister Varadkar said such a situation was not acceptable.

"It's important that hospital managers and chief financial officers understand and get a grip on that over the next few months", he said.  

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41 missing in new Mediterranean boat tragedy

As many as 41 migrants drowned after a small boat carrying refugees sank in the Mediterranean, Italian media have reported, days after up to 400 were lost in another shipwreck.

Four survivors told Italian police and humanitarian organisations that their inflatable vessel sank not long after leaving the coast of Libya for Europe with 45 people on board.

According to the men picked up by the Italian navy vessel "Foscari" after they were spotted by an aircraft, the old inflatable boat quickly began losing air forcing the migrants into the water.

The four- a Ghanaian, two Nigerians, and a man from Niger- arrived in Trapani in Sicily today with 600 other migrants picked up by the Italian navy and coastguards as they tried to make the perilous crossing.

The new tragedy happened as Italian police said they had arrested 15 African Muslim migrants after witnesses said they had thrown 12 Christian passengers overboard following a brawl on a boat heading to Italy.

The victims were "of Christian faith, compared to their attackers who were of Muslim faith," police said in a statement, saying the 15 people arrested were accused of "multiple aggravated murder motivated by religious hate".

An estimated 10,000 migrants have been brought into Italian ports in recent weeks.

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Jury in Nash trial retires to consider verdict

The jury in the trial of a 42-year-old man accused of murdering two women eighteen years ago has retired to consider its verdict.

Mark Nash, who has last addresses at Prussia Street and Clonliffe Road in Dublin, has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to the murder of 60-year-old Sylvia Shields and 61-year old Mary Callanan between 6 and 7 March 1997.

The trial has heard the two women were living in sheltered accommodation in a house attached to St Brendan's Psychiatric Hospital in Grangegorman at the time.

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Police confirm Irish student's remains found

Police have confirmed the remains found at a farm in Glasgow are those of missing Irish student Karen Buckley.

A 21-year-old man arrested following the disappearance of the Cork student is due to appear in court in the city tomorrow.

Officers and firefighters searching for Ms Buckley, who was seen leaving a nightclub at the weekend, found the remains at the farm outside the city in the early hours of this morning. 

It remains sealed off this afternoon.

Specialist police divers, a helicopter crew and search dogs were all involved in the search for the qualified nurse from Mourneabbey in Co Cork.

She had moved to Glasgow in January to study occupational therapy at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Yesterday, the focus of the search moved from Dawsholm Park in Glasgow, where Ms Buckley's handbag was found on Tuesday, to High Craigton farm, to the north of the city.

Officers cordoned off land around the farm and near Windyhills Golf Club on a country road between Milngavie and Drymen and a number of support vehicles and fire engines were moved to the scene.

Earlier yesterday, officers had been searching a flat in Dorchester Avenue in Glasgow where the student was reportedly last seen.

Detective Superintendent Jim Kerr, who is leading the hunt for Ms Buckley, has said it is his "absolute priority" to find her.

Ms Buckley's family travelled to Scotland on Tuesday.

At a press conference, her mother Marian Buckley, 61, said: "We just want Karen home safely, we are desperate. She is our only daughter, we love her dearly.

"If anybody has any information, please come forward, we would dearly appreciate it."

Ms Buckley arrived at The Sanctuary nightclub with friends at around 11.45pm on Saturday and at around 1am she told them she was going to the toilet. 

She failed to return and did not take her jacket.

Her father John Buckley, 62, said the disappearance was "so out of character".

He said: "We are extremely concerned for her. We are desperate to get her back and safe with her family. She is our only daughter, we love her dearly and just want her to come home safe and sound."

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Criticism of establishment of SUSI grant system

Written By doni icha on Rabu, 15 April 2015 | 22.40

The Comptroller and Auditor General has recommended that the Department of Education revise its approach to planning for change, especially when it comes to complex and large-scale projects.

In a report published today, the C&AG is critical of aspects of planning prior to the establishment of third level grant application system SUSI.

It said more testing should have been conducted prior to its setting up and a deferral of its launch may have resulted.

Grant applicants experienced significant problems and delays during the first year of SUSI's operation.

Student Universal Support Ireland was set up in Autumn 2011 to replace 66 different grant awarding agencies.

A central aim, according to the Department of Education, was to save money by utilising significantly fewer staff and more efficient administrative practices.

However, the Department has told the C&AG it is not possible to evaluate whether or not SUSI has achieved the savings hoped for because both staffing and outsourcing levels required were significantly higher than first envisaged.

The C&AG is also critical of Co Dublin Education and Training Board, which administers SUSI, for departing from guidance and good practice in the outsourcing of work related to the scheme.

Cork-based company Abtran was contracted to provide call centre and document management services.

The report finds that while Abtran commenced work in January 2012 following a tendering process, the contract for service provision was not signed until more than a year later, in February 2013.

The C&AG said the receipt of, and payment for, services without having a signed contract in place exposed Co Dublin ETB to legal and financial risks.

It is recommended that the ETB strengthen its procurement and contracting processes.

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Protester disrupts ECB news conference

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi's news conference was disrupted this afternoon when a woman jumped on the podium.

"End the ECB dictatorship," she shouted as she showered Mr Draghi with what appeared to be confetti.

The woman was then escorted from the building by security staff.

The news conference resumed shortly afterwards.

The ECB earlier left eurozone interest rates unchanged, holding them at record lows as it rolls out a money-printing scheme to lift the economy.

The decision to leave the cost of borrowing at record lows was widely expected after the ECB cut rates to rock-bottom levels last September.

Mr Draghi said at the time that rates had hit "the lower bound".

The ECB left its main refinancing rate, which determines the cost of credit in the economy, at 0.05% at its meeting today.

It also kept the rate on bank overnight deposits at -0.2%, which means banks pay to leave funds at the central bank, and held its marginal lending facility - or emergency overnight borrowing rate for banks - at 0.3%.

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EU charges Google with market abuse

The European Union has accused Google of cheating competitors by distorting internet search results in favour of its Google Shopping service.

The commission also said it is initiating a competition inquiry into its Android mobile operating system.

Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the US tech giant, which dominates internet search engines globally, had been sent a Statement of Objections - effectively a charge sheet - to which it can respond.

"I am concerned that the company has given an unfair advantage to its own comparison shopping service, in breach of EU antitrust rules," she said.

"If the investigation confirmed our concerns, Google would have to face the legal consequences and change the way it does business in Europe."

Responding in a blog post, the California-based company said that it "respectfully but strongly disagree" with the EU's statement of objections and would make the case that its products have fostered competition and benefited consumers.

It also defended its Android operating system, saying it was "a key player in spurring this competition and choice, lowering prices and increasing choice for everyone".

The commission, whose control of competition matters across the wealthy 28-nation union gives it a major say in the fate of global corporations, can fine firms up to 10% of their annual sales - or a penalty of over $6 billion for Google.

If it finds that companies are abusing a dominant market position, the EU regulator can also demand sweeping changes to their business practices, as it did with US software giant Microsoft in 2004 and chip-maker Intel in 2009.

Of the formal investigation into Android, used on smartphones and tablets, Ms Vestager said: "I want to make sure the markets in this area can flourish without anti-competitive constraints imposed by any company."

She announced the moves on the eve of a high-profile visit to the US, following five years of investigation and abortive efforts to strike a deal with Google by her Spanish predecessor, Joaquin Almunia.

However, the focus on the ranking of searches for shopping sites - Google has its own service called Google Shopping - did not address all the complaints lodged with the commission by competitors, large and small, in Europe and the US, who say Google has hurt their business.

Google initially has ten weeks to respond to the charges and can demand a hearing.

A final resolution, quite possibly involving court action if Google does not choose to settle, is likely to take many months and probably years.

Google's critics welcomed the decision to pursue the US giant, though many industry experts believe the action is unlikely to markedly shift existing business their way.

But by firing a hefty shot across Google's bows, it may favour competitors in new areas as technology develops. 

That has been a priority for the new European Commission led by Jean-Claude Juncker, which wants to promote a more dynamic digital market in Europe and foster home-grown enterprises.

Mr Juncker is also pressing for a free-trade treaty with the US to bolster growth and Ms Vestager has stressed she is not seeking to penalise US firms or large companies, merely to avoid abuses of dominant market positions.

US President Barack Obama accused the EU in February of taking a protectionist stance against the US tech industry.

US domination of the internet and other new technology sectors has prompted a mixture of admiration and anxiety in Europe.

Germany, backed by major companies in the EU's biggest economy, has been particularly vocal in pressing the commission to act against Google, although major US rivals including Microsoft and Expedia also lodged complaints.

Google has put forward three proposals to resolve the case.

Most recently, just over a year ago, it offered to give competing products and services bigger visibility on its website, let content providers decide what material it can use for its own services and make it easier for advertisers to move their campaigns to rivals.

Almunia initially accepted that deal, only to reverse his decision six months later and demand more concessions, leaving the ultimate decision to his successor.

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Glasgow police search sheds and canal for student

Police in Glasgow are searching sheds and a canal close to the apartment that missing Irish student Karen Buckley travelled to on Sunday morning.

Specialist teams have searched the area near the canal, which is close to Dorchester Avenue.

They have sealed off an area there and carried out searches between some old wooden sheds.

Police say they are "gravely concerned" for the wellbeing of the 24-year-old from Mourneabbey near Mallow in north Cork.

She has not been seen since the early hours of Sunday.

Detective Superintendent Jim Kerr said: "Our absolute priority is to find Karen Buckley.

"We have a team of specialist search officers from the west and east working in the area as well as additional patrols in the west end and north of the city."

Officers are being supported by the air unit, marine policing underwater unit, specialist crime division, police search dogs and operational patrols.

Ms Buckley's handbag was found inside a bin in Dawsholm Park yesterday afternoon.

A police spokeswoman said inquiries are continuing and there had been a good response from the public to appeals for help.

She said: "However, we are still encouraging people to come forward with any information that will assist in us finding Karen."

A specialist search team has also been examining the garden area of a taped-off block of flats on nearby Dorchester Avenue, where an officer has been standing guard today.

Searches are also continuing in an area called Milnagavie and Drymen, 24km north of Glasgow.

Police are trying to trace a silver or grey car believed to have been in the area between 11am and 3pm yesterday afternoon and inquiries are continuing today in the west of the city. 

They have once again appealed for information and asked anyone who may have seen Ms Buckley or noticed the grey or silver car to contact them.

The qualified nurse moved to Glasgow in February and is a first-year occupational therapy student at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Mass of hope planned for Buckley family

A mass of hope will be celebrated for the Buckley family at the Church of St Michael the Archangel at Analeentha in Mourneabbey this evening.

Parish priest Fr Joe O'Keeffe described the mass as a simple, meaningful celebration.

He said it was an opportunity for the community to support the Buckley family in spirit and prayer.

Ms Buckley's parents Marian and John are in Glasgow and will be joined by their son Kieran, who is travelling from Australia. 

Detective Kerr said: "Karen is a lovely girl, close to her family and popular with her friends.

"She has only been in Glasgow a few months, and if staying out will always let her friends know - hence the real concern here."

Ms Buckley's parents appealed for information at a news conference yesterday.

They said they are "desperate" to get her back and safe with her family.

The 24-year-old arrived at the Sanctuary club on Dumbarton Road with friends at around 11.45pm on Saturday.

At around 1am, she told them she was going to the toilet, but failed to return and did not take her jacket.

She was then seen on CCTV outside talking to a man and then walking westwards away from the city centre towards Church Street.

A Facebook page - Please help find Karen missing in Glasgow - has been set up urging people to look for her.

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