Theresa May set to step aside as British PM

Theresa May is expected to resign as Conservative Party leader on June 10.

Theresa May is expected to resign as Conservative Party leader on June 10.

Theresa May is under pressure to set out when she will quit Number 10 after a Cabinet revolt over her Brexit plan.

The Prime Minister will meet the leader of backbench Conservatives, Graham Brady, today (Friday) to discuss her future after her authority was left in tatters following the backlash against her "new Brexit deal".

Senior ministers set out their concerns in "frank" talks with the beleaguered premier as Downing Street delayed publication of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) which sets out her Brexit plan in law.

The Prime Minister's private meeting with Mr Brady, chairman of the powerful 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, could be the moment that Mrs May sets the date for her exit from Downing Street.

A 1922 Committee source told Press Association they expected June 10 to be the day Mrs May chooses.

"Hopefully what will happen is she will stand down as Tory leader I think on or before June 10, and she will hopefully remain as caretaker Prime Minister until such time as a new Tory leader is elected," they said.

"My feeling is that she will stay until June 10."

The source said a new leader would ideally be in place by the end of the European summer to get a Brexit deal through parliament before October 31, the date currently set for the UK's exit from the EU.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney pictured with Boris Johnson in 2017. Mr Johnson, a committed Brexiteer, is among the favourites to succeed Theresa May as British PM.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney pictured with Boris Johnson in 2017. Mr Johnson, a committed Brexiteer, is among the favourites to succeed Theresa May as British PM.

In Ireland, there are increasing fears that Mrs May’s departure will increase the chances of a hard Brexit, especially if she is replaced by a committed Brexiteer like Boris Johnson.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has ruled-out any renegotiation of the Withdrawal Agreement, which maps-out Britain's exit from the European Union, if Theresa May is replaced as British Prime Minister.

Speaking on RTÉ's This Week, Mr Coveney said: "It's not up for renegotiation, even if there is a new British prime minister...the personality might change here, but the facts don't."

He described Mrs May as "a decent person" but strongly criticised Conservative MPs at Westminster - branding them as "impossible" on the issue of Brexit.

Ireland among most expensive places for expat workers

Dublin is becoming a more expensive place to send expat workers.

Dublin is becoming a more expensive place to send expat workers.

Ireland is now one of the top 20 most expensive locations to send expatriate workers, according to a new global survey.

ECA’s annual MyExpatriate Market Pay report surveys the cost of benefits, salaries and tax treatments in countries around the world in order to assist companies with benchmarking their expatriate packages when relocating staff. Benefits include the allowance to cover essential costs such as accommodation, international school fees, utilities or cars.

The UK has overtaken Japan as the most expensive location to send expatriates, with the average expat pay package rising by £44,688 to £311,240, according to the survey.

Oliver Browne, Remuneration Manager at ECA International, said the tight Dublin rental market had contributed significantly to the costs.

“Similar to the trend we saw in the UK, benefits costs have increased notably due to the rise in accommodation and rental fees,” he said.

“Expats in Ireland are more expensive for companies despite average net salaries for expatriates actually dropping by two per cent (€965) since last year. This was more than offset by an average rise of 14 per cent (€8820) in the cost of benefit provisions that companies had to provide their overseas staff,” Browne explained.

ECA’s recent rental accommodation report revealed that rent in Dublin entered the top five most expensive in Europe for the first time, averaging €3406 per month for a mid-range, three-bedroom apartment.

As expensive as it is, Ireland (18th) is less costly than Australia (9th).

Middle Eastern nations Saudi Arabia and UAE continue to offer the best salaries for expats, with the nations now offering an average of £71125 and £69280 to mid-level expats respectively.

Browne explained: “The Middle East has always offered extremely high salaries to overseas workers, and 2018 was no different. However, the benefits offered in these nations are not among the most costly for an employer, and the average value of benefits offered actually dropped in both locations last year, while the lack of any personal tax means that the overall package works out to be a lot lower when benefits and tax are both taken into account.”

Trump confirms Irish visit in June

US President Donald Trump and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Washington DC in March.

US President Donald Trump and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in Washington DC in March.

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will visit Ireland while on a visit to Europe in June, a White House spokesman has said.

Mr Trump and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will hold a "bilateral meeting" on June 5 in Shannon.

The trip has already been subject to reported controversy over the venue of the talks.

The president's visit to Ireland is set to be largely private, with Mr Trump expected to base himself at the golf resort he owns in Doonbeg, Co Clare.

Rumours of a disagreement have been reported that focus on whether the meeting with Mr Varadkar would take place on Mr Trump's property at Doonbeg - the president's apparent preference - or on more neutral ground.

Irish authorities reportedly preferred nearby Dromoland Castle.

But Simon Coveney, Ireland's deputy premier, said reports of a stand-off over locations were exaggerated and not true.

On Monday, it was reported that Mr and Mrs Trump would join the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall for afternoon tea while on a three-day visit to the UK, which begins on June 3.

The couple will also be guests of the Queen.

The president's formal visit follows a working trip to the UK last summer that sparked demonstrations across the country.

Campaigners are again hoping to fly a blimp, depicting the US president as a nappy-wearing baby, over London, after it was hoisted in Parliament Square during protests against the US leader's last trip.

The protesters have been accused by former Tory chief whip Lord Jopling of "mindless idiocy".

The visit to Ireland and the UK are part of Mr Trump's wider trip to Europe, which will include events in France to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

Mates make sure grieving fiancee gets 'Frankie's car'

Broc Nicholson pictured recently with her Irish fiancee Francis Shanley who died earlier this month.

Broc Nicholson pictured recently with her Irish fiancee Francis Shanley who died earlier this month.

Friends of an Irish tradie killed in the M4 crash worked round the clock to finish a car he was working on as a surprise for his heartbroken fiancee.

Francis Shanley’s colleagues from Vaughan Civil in Sydney worked in secret to renovate a Subaru WRX so they could present it to Broc Nicholson at a celebration of their mate’s life on Tuesday.

The 36-year-old’s fiancee was “over the moon” when she was surprised with the car which has custom Frankie plates in honour of her partner.

Francis Shanley, from Bornacoola, Co Leitrim died when his car was hit by a beer truck in a pile-up involving eleven cars on the M4 motorway in Sydney on May 9.

A-53-year-old man has been charged with dangerous driving causing death after police allege he changed lanes and then stopped causing the fatal crash that killed Frankie.

‘Frankie’s Car’ - The Suburu WRX which was presented to Broc Nicholson by mates of her late fiancee.

‘Frankie’s Car’ - The Suburu WRX which was presented to Broc Nicholson by mates of her late fiancee.

Jamie Morrissey said his mates at Vaughan Civil “worked round the clock for the past nine days” to get the car ready for today’s ceremony at Macquarie Park Cemetery where it was presented to Broc.

“All his close friends came together to work on it –people who knew nothing about cars came to work on it because they wanted to do it for Frankie.

“It was good for us as well –it kept our mind off things.”

Frankie loved to buy cars and fix them up and he was working on the Subaru WRX when he was killed.

The car was “fully stripped” in his work yard with hundreds of parts everywhere so it was no easy feat for his mates to fully restore it in nine days.

“Frankie was an outstanding person. He was a gentleman and that’s why we did it. If it was any one of us, he would be the first person to step in and help so we thought it would be a fitting tribute to Frankie.

“He would do anything for you. Today is a very sad day for Broc but we hope we can bring a smile to her face when we surprise her with the car,” Jamie explained.

Francis Shanley’s workmates from Vaughan Civil who restored the car.

Francis Shanley’s workmates from Vaughan Civil who restored the car.

Broc Nicholson said Frankie would be “so proud” that his friends had finished the car for her.

She said: “He would be so proud and so am I. I know he’s going to be so jealous when I’m driving it instead of him.”

Family and friends of Francis Shanley who gathered for a special celebration of his life at the Camellia Chapel were told that he lived life with “love, honour, integrity and a sense of humour.

Celebrant Brett O’Brien said: “He was alert and alive. He made people laugh. He had a fearless enthusiasm for life and our world is poorer without him.”

His Australian fiancee Broc paid a beautiful tribute to Frankie.

“You’ve touched our hearts beautiful…You always knew how to make me laugh, listen to my problems, make me feel better when I was sick,” she said.

She poignantly read the vows she had written for their upcoming wedding. The couple were due to get married in August.

“You are my world. You are my rock. You are the reason I am the person I am today.

“I will hold you, honour you, respect you, cherish you and most importantly love you.

“To the most charming, funny, handsome person – I will always love you.”

The Suburu before its transformation.

The Suburu before its transformation.

Frankie’s younger sister Ruth Shanley said his family in Leitrim were heartbroken to lose him but had “beautiful memories” of their time together.

She said: “Frankie always used to look after me – he always had my back.

“He always put a smile on my face with his silly sense of humour and his cheeky smile.”

His close friend Gary Hart was friends with Frankie for over 20 years after meeting in school in Leitrim.

“There was never a dull moment when Frankie was around. Frankie was horrid craic. He’ll be sadly missed in this country and in Ireland,” he said.

Frankie is survived by his fiancee Broc Nicholson, his parents Christine and Basil Shanley and his siblings Mark, Ruth and Catriona Shanley.

He is also mourned by hundreds of people from across the globe who loved him particularly in the communities of Co Leitrim, Western Australia, Darwin, Carmila and Sydney.

Love/Hate star for Australian stage debut

John Connors is bringing his one-man stage show to Australia.

John Connors is bringing his one-man stage show to Australia.

John Connors, the award-winning Irish actor best known for his role in the hard-hitting Irish TV drama Love/Hate and the movie Cardboard Gangsters, is coming to Australia with his one-man show, Ireland’s Call.

Examining issues of class, religion and identity, this new play is described as “an unflinching exploration of the Irish psyche, bringing Ireland’s collective guilt’s, secrets and flaws to the surface”.

Ireland’s Call follows the lives and family histories of three young men as they grow up in Coolock on Dublin’s northside and examines what shapes them and entices them to a life of crime?

The play was hit at the Dublin Fringe Festival and earned glowing reviews from critics.

The Irish Times’ Mick Heaney, for instance, wrote that “the charismatic Connors brings vivid life to his character, whether consumed with anger and despair, or unleashing profane asides with verbal vim. And for all its bleak worldview, it’s a drama with a dogged faith in people, not least the flawed but appealing James.”

John Connors first came to public attention in the hugely popular RTE hit series, Love/Hate.

John Connors first came to public attention in the hugely popular RTE hit series, Love/Hate.

Ireland’s Call could be seen as an extension of the actor’s role as an advocate, not just for working-class people, but also for his own Traveler community, which he said is the most oppressed of Ireland’s minorities.

“The most discriminated against by a wide, wide margin,” he told the Guardian recently.

His advocacy begins with the forthright telling of his own story.

When Connors was 8, his father committed suicide and at 20, that “viable option” loomed for him.

“Seven and a half years ago,” he said, dedicating his Irish Film And Television Awards (IFTA) best actor gong (for Cardboard Gangsters) to his dead father, “I was sitting in a little box bedroom in the darkness, contemplating suicide.”

His brother reached out at that moment. The two googled “acting classes” and “Dublin” and somehow John Connors talked himself into an advanced class at the Abbey Theatre.

He is now widely considered one of Ireland’s most compelling screen actors.

Ireland’s Call will be performed at the Alex Theatre in St Kilda on Thursday June 20 and at Bondi’s Pavillion Theatre on Saturday June 22. For more details and bookings, click here.

Wicklow climber missing after scaling Everest

Wicklow climber Seamus Lawless is missing on Mt Everest

Wicklow climber Seamus Lawless is missing on Mt Everest

The Irish government will offer any support it can to help efforts to find a missing climber on Mount Everest, the Tánaiste has said.

Seamus "Shay" Lawless, from Bray, Co Wicklow, fell as he descended the peak on Thursday having just achieved a lifetime ambition of reaching the summit.

Simon Coveney said he had spoken to Mr Lawless's wife Pamela several times over the weekend and had discussed how the authorities could help.

The Trinity College professor's family have launched a fundraising campaign to help finance expensive search and recovery efforts.

His relatives, who said Mr Lawless's insurers were not assisting in the search, have asked for the public's help to raise the money needed to gather a team of Sherpas to find him.

A GoFundMe page set up by the family with a target of raising €750,000 had passed €250,000.

“At this moment in time we have little to no information about what happened on Thursday 16th May, nor do we know the current location of Shay,” a post on the page reads. “It is our priority to locate him and bring him home and we appreciate all the support that can be offered as we face this hugely challenging situation.”

The GoFundMe page set up for missing climber Seamus Lawless.

The GoFundMe page set up for missing climber Seamus Lawless.

Mr Coveney said the authorities in Ireland would help in any way possible.

"I have spoken to Pamela his wife on a number of occasions over the last 24 hours," he told RTE on Sunday.

"She is a remarkable woman and she is going through a nightmare that many of us simply can't imagine."

He added: "We are willing to offer any support we can, either financial or organisational, she knows that."

Mr Lawless's colleagues at Trinity College organised a vigil on Saturday evening.

The climber was an assistant professor at the university's School of Computer Science.



President of Ireland pays tribute to Bob Hawke

The late Bob Hawke pictured recently with current labor leader Bill Shorten.

The late Bob Hawke pictured recently with current labor leader Bill Shorten.

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins has added his tribute to the late Bob Hawke, who died on Thursday.

"I have learned with sadness of the death of Bob Hawke, Australia’s 23rd Prime Minister, former leader of the Labor party and trade union leader,” the president said in a statement.

”Bob Hawke inspired great enthusiasm and faith among Australians of all generations in the power of politics to make meaningful changes in society, to the benefit of those often excluded. His emphasis on consensus-driven change and social partnership arrangements left an important legacy.

“He will also be remembered for the international leadership he gave, as trade union leader, in his opposition to the Apartheid regime in South Africa. On behalf of the people of Ireland, may I express condolences to the people of Australia and in particular to his family, friends and colleagues.”

Ireland’s ambassador to Australia Breandán Ó Caollaí with Bob Hawke.

Ireland’s ambassador to Australia Breandán Ó Caollaí with Bob Hawke.

Mr Hawke, who was 89, was Australia's longest-serving Labor Party prime minister.

In a tweet, Ireland’s Ambassador to Australia Breandán Ó Caollaí described Mr Hawke as a “great friend of Ireland”.

In October 1987, Mr Hawke became the third Australian Prime Minister to visit Ireland after Bob Menzies and Gough Whitlam.

But he became the first Australian Prime Minister, and only the third foreign political leader after John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, to address a joint sitting of the Oireachtas.

In that speech, he described Ireland as “the head of a huge empire in which Australia
 and the United States are the principal provinces”.

“It is an
 empire,” he said, “acquired not by force of Irish arms but by force of
 Irish character, an empire not of political coercion but of
 spiritual affiliation, created by the thousands upon thousands
 of Irish men and women who chose to leave these shores or
 who were banished from them, to help in the building of new
 societies over the years.
“

“It is true that more of your fellow-countrymen and forefathers
 became American than Australian. But it is true, too,
 that the Irish form a greater proportion of the Australian
 population than of the American. Indeed, almost one-third
 of Australia's population proudly claim Irish ancestry.


Bob Hawke (right) during his visit to Ireland in 1987. Also pictured is Jacqueline O’Brien, Taoiseach Charlie Haughey, horse trainer Vincent O’Brien and Maureen Haughey.

Bob Hawke (right) during his visit to Ireland in 1987. Also pictured is Jacqueline O’Brien, Taoiseach Charlie Haughey, horse trainer Vincent O’Brien and Maureen Haughey.

He also paid tribute to the “seminal role” of the Irish in the establishment of the trade union movement and the Labor Party itself.

“A number of my predecessors as Labor Prime Minister including 
the incomparable John Curtin and Joseph Benedict
 Chifley were of Irish extraction. In the way Curtin devoted
 himself to the task of leading Australia through the Second
 World War, the Irish attributes of dedicated and selfless
 commitment, determination, character and courage shine
 through.

“It is equally easy to see an Irish-derived compassion
 and vision in his successor Chifley's sweeping reconstruction
 of the Australian economy to equip it for the challenges of
 peacetime.

“Among today's generation of Labour leaders, the Irish
 tradition is still strong and if you looked at a list of my
 Ministers you would see enough names like Bowen, Keating,
 Hayden, Kerin, Walsh, Young, Ryan, Duffy and Kelly to
 satisfy even the most nationalistic among you. indeed, half of my Ministry claims Irish origin so now you may understand 
even more clearly why I feel at home [here].


“Australia is very much the richer for having been able to
 draw on the generous influx of Irish aspirations, Irish traditions,
 and Irish spirit. We would not be the country we are
 today were it not for you.”

 

Skilled migrants facing tougher path to residency

Australia’s political leaders are nervous about immigration levels.

Australia’s political leaders are nervous about immigration levels.

Skilled workers looking to get sponsored by Australian companies face a more treacherous path to permanent residency no matter who gets elected this weekend.

Both Labor and the Coalition are promising further restrictions to temporary skilled visa holders and stricter rules for businesses looking to sponsor foreign workers.

Labor are under pressure from the union movement to protect Aussie jobs. The coalition has linked congestion problems in Australia’s biggest cities to high immigration numbers.

Labor has pledged to increase the minimum pay rate for foreign workers on skilled visas from $53,900 to $65,000 “to ensure it is not cheaper to bring in an overseas worker than pay a local worker.”

Immigration expert John McQuaid said this measure would hit workers in the hospitality industry hardest.

He said: “Unsurprisingly, the parties are not pandering to those on temporary visas because they can’t vote.

“With the raising of income on 457-styles visa, areas like hospitality and the service industry would be hurt most because they’ve been historically lower paid.  Café and restaurant staff and managers will find it tougher to get sponsored if this happens.”

The number of Irish workers applying for skilled visas in Australia is falling.

The number of Irish workers applying for skilled visas in Australia is falling.

A tightening of immigration rules and the ending of the 457 visa programme last year has made it more difficult for skilled workers to get sponsored by employers.

Figures from the Department of Home Affairs show 1,470 primary applications for a skilled visa were granted to Irish people up to June 30, 2018.

This was a 22 per cent fall on the previous year when 1,900 Irish people were granted a skilled visa.

The coalition government introduced Labor Market Testing to ensure Australians are always given priority for local jobs.  Employers can only bring in overseas workers if they can not find a suitable local candidate.

Businesses who hire a foreign worker must also pay upwards of $1,200 into a training fund for Australian workers.

If elected, Labor says it will clampdown on employers who “artificially inflate salaries” by offering foreign workers substandard accommodation and inflated overtime hours.

It also plans to “restrict temporary work visas to jobs where there is a genuine skills shortage” and to introduce what it calls the Australian Jobs Test to prevent labour agreements from being entered into unless they create jobs for local workers.

It will also crack down on “unqualified temporary workers” with mandatory off-shore testing of foreign workers skills before a visa can be issued.

Extra funds will be used to increase workplace inspections and investigate employers who breach work visa regulations.

Would-be migrants prepared to live and work in rural areas for three years have a more linear path towards permanent residency.

Would-be migrants prepared to live and work in rural areas for three years have a more linear path towards permanent residency.

While these measures will make it more challenging to get sponsored, a new regional visa programme offers new opportunities for Irish people willing to move to rural areas.

Unveiled by the Liberal government in March, the new scheme offers 23,000 visas for skilled workers who are willing to live and work in regional Australia.

After three years of regional work, visa holders can apply for permanent residency.

Skilled migrants will be priority processed and can access a larger pool of jobs on the eligible occupation lists compared to those who live in major cities.

John McQuaid said the regional visas, which will be available from November 2019, offer new opportunities for Irish people who are willing to look beyond the big cities.

“There’s going to be additional occupations on the list for people willing to apply for regional visas. It will open up options for some people who previously didn’t qualify,” he explained.

“It could also be an attractive option for Irish people who grew up in rural Ireland who are much more at home in rural Australia than in the big cities and there’s plenty of promise in regional locations.”

While the regional visas offer a possible new pathway in, the Liberals have reduced the permanent migration cap by 15 per cent from 190,000 to 160,000 for the next four years.

Labor also believes an intake of 160,000 permanent migrants each year is “about right”.

Scott Morrison also hopes to attract more students to study in regional Australia with $15,000 scholarships being offered to 1,000 domestic and international students.

International students who study at regional universities can apply for an additional year in Australia on a post-study work visa.

Animated Irish movie treat for Sydney, Melbourne

Captain Morten and the Spider Queen features the voices of Brendan Gleeson, Pauline McLynn and Tommy Tiernan.

Captain Morten and the Spider Queen features the voices of Brendan Gleeson, Pauline McLynn and Tommy Tiernan.

The forthcoming Children’s International Film Festival, be be held in Sydney and Melbourne, will feature an star-studded Irish animated movie.

Captain Morten and the Spider Queen, which was co-produced by Telegael (Ireland), Nukufilm (Estonia), Grid Animation (Belgium) and Calon (Wales), took out the Best Animated Feature award at the Schlingel Festival for Children and Young People held recently in Chemnitz in Germany.

Produced on a budget of €10 million, Captain Morten and the Spider Queen is the first feature length stop-motion film to be animated in Ireland.

The all-Irish cast includes Brendan Gleeson, Pauline McLynn, Ciarán Hinds and Michael McElhatton, stand–up comedians Mario Rosenstock, Jason Byrne, Tommy Tiernan and Neil Delamere as well as young up and coming Irish talent Cian O’Dowd and Susie Power who play the roles of Morten and Eliza.

The movie is focused on ten-year-old Morten who spends his days building a toy ship and trying to avoid the ire of his reluctant guardian – a mean ex-ballerina named Anna – while his father is at sea.

Morten hopes to one day be a Captain just like his dad. After a chance meeting with the inept magician Señor Cucaracha, Morten is magically shrunk down to the size of an insect and trapped aboard the deck of his own toy ship as the room around him floods! With a wicked Spider Queen and Scorpion Pirate already on board, being Captain is going to be harder than he ever imagined.

For screening details, click here.

Labor plan to relax grandparent visa scheme

Labor have promised to make it easier and cheaper for immigrants to bring their parents to Australia.

Labor have promised to make it easier and cheaper for immigrants to bring their parents to Australia.

Labor has promised to make it easier for immigrants to bring their elderly parents to Australia.

The new 870 visa allows older parents to “reunite” with their children and grandchildren in Australia for extended periods.

If elected on Saturday, Labor has promised to reduce the cost of a five year visa from $10,000 to $2,500 while a three year visa would decrease from $5,000 to $1,250.

The ALP has also pledged to remove the current cap of 15,000 visa places which would allow expat families to ‘sponsor’ both sets of parents instead of being restricted to just one set under existing visa regulations.

The Sponsored Parent Temporary Visa 870 was introduced last month by the Coalition government to allow Australian citizens or permanent residents to move their parents here for extended periods.

The 870 visa allows elderly parents to live here on a three or five year visa for a maximum of 10 years but does not allow them to work.

There is no minimum or maximum age limit for parents who wish to apply but they must show they have sufficient funds to support themselves whilst living here.

Those wishing to avail of these visas will need to take out private health insurance as they will not be covered by Medicare.

The child who is sponsoring the visa also commits to covering any health or age related expenses that may be incurred by their parents whilst living in Australia and must first be approved as a sponsor before a parent being can apply for the visa.   The sponsorship application fee is $420.

The sponsor must undergo police checks and have a minimum household income of $83,454 to qualify.

The new 870 visa allows Australian residents to ‘sponsor’ their parents to come to Australia for up to five years.

The new 870 visa allows Australian residents to ‘sponsor’ their parents to come to Australia for up to five years.

Applications from sponsors opened on April 17, and if approved, parents can apply for the 870 visa from July 1.

Unlike other parent visas, the 870 visa does not require the parent to meet the Balance of Family rule.

But the parent must have a child who holds Australian citizenship or permanent residency.

Immigration expert John McQuaid said the visas are attractive for Irish families who have permanent residency and would like to bring grandparents over to spend more time with grandchildren

He said: “It’s very attractive for couples in Australia who are starting to have children and would like to bring the grandparents out to help mind the children or just to spend quality time with their grandkids.

“The downside is there are no work rights for the grandparents and the family have to be able to show they have financial capacity to look after the grandparents while they are here.

“It’s a big financial commitment not to work for 3 or 5 years but it does suit some older grandparents who are retired and have good pensions.”

McQuaid said the new parent visas are in “big demand” and urged anyone who is interested to apply immediately as the quota will be filled quickly.

Applications for parents to apply (once their child has been approved as sponsor) open on July 1 and once filled, it will not re-open again until July the following year.

It’s very attractive for couples in Australia who are starting to have children and would like to bring the grandparents out to help mind the children or just to spend quality time with their grandkids.
— Immigration expert John McQuaid

The Liberal party has branded Labor’s proposal to remove the 15,000 cap if elected as “completely unsustainable.”

The Productivity Commission has estimated that the cost to taxpayers of a permanent parent visa holder was between $335,000 and $410,000 per adult.

John McQuaid has warned voters to take election promises on immigration with “a pinch of salt.”

He said: “When it comes to election time, immigration is a real political football –both parties love to shout about how they are going to fix the immigration situation.  Its electioneering. 

“If they (Labor) uncap the parent visas, Australia would be flooded with old people and it’s highly unlikely that would happen in my view.

“I think they might increase the quota but I can’t see them totally removing the cap.”

More details on how to apply for the 870 visa are available here.

Irish beauty blogger jets in for Bondi event

Irish beauty blogger Louise McDonnell.

Irish beauty blogger Louise McDonnell.

Top irish make-up artist and beauty blogger Louise McDonnell is on her way to Sydney for a one-off ‘masterclass’ event.

McDonnell, who runs LMD salon, is an established influencer in Ireland’s cosmetic industry with a robust social media following.

“I have been in Australia twice before and love the lifestyle there,” McDonnell told the Irish Echo from Ireland. “I have many friends who live there. With my large Australian following online, I decided it was time to bring one of my make-up masterclasses to Sydney.”

The masterclass event, to be held in Bondi Junction, will be unapologetically “girly”, she said.

“I love to create events which are a fun-filled girly days out. I provide lots of make-up expertise, tips and tricks along with a bit of craic. I cannot wait to come to Australia to sprinkle a bit of LMD magic on Sydney.”

McDonnell’s talents have attracted the attention of TV celebrities and she lists Katie Price, Chloe Ferry from Geordie Shore, Lauren Goodyear from The Only Way Is Essex and blogger Suzanne Jackson among her clients.

“I find celebrities very easy to work with, they are just normal people like me and you,” she said.

The masterclass event, which will be presented in association with the Irish-owned Headoffice hair salon, will take place at Easts Leagues Club on Friday, May 31 from 7pm. Tickets are $130. To book, click here.

Shorten pledges fresh vote on republic

Labor leader Bill Shorten campaigning on the NSW Central Coast. Picture: Lukas Coch

Labor leader Bill Shorten campaigning on the NSW Central Coast. Picture: Lukas Coch

Bill Shorten has promised to hold a vote on Australia becoming a republic if Labor wins the election.

In its budget costing plan released on Friday, the Australian Labor Party has put aside $55 million to stage a public vote on the issue in 2021-22.

It plans to first hold a national plebiscite to gauge the level of public support to replace the Queen as head of state with an Australian.

If that vote achieves enough support, a referendum would then need to be held to change the Constitution.

In a referendum, the change is only passed if it wins the support of the majority of voters and more than half of states and territories.

In 1999, a public vote on the issue failed with 55 per cent of Australians voting to keep the British monarch as head of state.

In a bitter campaign, many republicans voted against the move as they wanted the new head of state to be directly elected - similar to the Irish model - instead of one appointed by parliament as was proposed.

The Queen, who has recently turned 93, last visited Australia in 2011.

In an opinion piece written for The Age website in 2015, Mr Shorten laid out his commitment to holding a vote on Australia becoming a republic if elected to power.

He said: “We should go to our region and the world proudly independent – declaring that we are no longer going to borrow a monarch from another country on the other side of the world. 

“Our constitution came into being as an act of the British parliament – 114 years later, our nation has changed, our place in the world has changed, and our constitution should change with it. 

“The republic debate is a chance for all of us to bring our constitution home, to vote our national birth certificate into existence as an Australian document, for our times.”

The Liberal/National coalition has no plans to change the current constitutional arrangements.

Irish movie treats at Sydney Film Festival

Holliday Grainger and Alia Shawkat in Animals, which will be screened at the Sydney Film Festival.

Holliday Grainger and Alia Shawkat in Animals, which will be screened at the Sydney Film Festival.

The forthcoming Sydney International Film Festival will feature several movies with an irish connection.

The Nightingale, directed by Jennifer Kent, is an Australian feature which has won praise in Europe.

Set in 1825, Clare, a young Irish convict woman, chases a British officer through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. On the way she enlists the services of an Aboriginal tracker named Billy, who is also marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past.

It stars Dubliner Aisling Franciosi in her first lead role and won the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival.

Dubliner Aisling Franciosi in The Nightingale.

Dubliner Aisling Franciosi in The Nightingale.

Animals is another Irish Australian feature set in contemporary Dublin.

Directed by Australian director Sophie Hyde and based on the popular novel by Emma Jane Unsworth, Animals stars Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development, Whip It) and Holliday Grainger (Cinderella, My Cousin Rachel).

Criticizing the minutiae of female friendship, Animals focuses on two untamed, party-crazed roommates living it up in Dublin whose friendship is tested when one of them falls in love.

Papi Chalo, directed by Irish filmmaker John Butler (Handsome Devil), stars Golden Globe winner Matt Bomer (White Collar, Magic Mike) as a gay lonely TV weatherman who strikes up an unusual friendship with a straight middle-aged Latino.

A Dog Called Money is a documentary about Grammy Award nominee musician PJ Harvey.

Irish director Seamus Murphy, whose film A Dog Called Money screens at the Sydney Film Festival.

Irish director Seamus Murphy, whose film A Dog Called Money screens at the Sydney Film Festival.

Directed by Irish filmmaker Seamus Murphy, it is a glimpse into the writing and recording of the 2016 album The Hope Six Demolition Project in a London recording studio.

For details of screenings and venues, visit www.sff.org.au



Fiancee's tribute to 'lucky charm Irish boy'

Francis Shanley was on his way to work when his ute was struck by a truck.

Francis Shanley was on his way to work when his ute was struck by a truck.

The fiancee of a 36-year-old Leitrim man who died in yesterday’s major road accident in Sydney has paid tribute to her “lucky charm Irish boy”.

Francis Shanley from Currycramp, Bornacoola, Co Leitrim, who lived in the Sydney suburb of Wenworthville, died following an 11-car pile up on the M4 in Sydney’s west.

His fiancee, Broc Nicholson, paid tribute to her partner on Facebook.

“Most of you have heard the devastating news of our beautiful, strong head, lucky charm Irish boy Francis Shanley has sadly passed way today,” she wrote.

“He will be forever in our hearts and sadly missed. Going to be a long road ahead getting back on our feet.

“Fly high my beautiful angel, I love you forever and always.”

The tradie, who the Irish Echo understands had lived in Australia for ten years, died at the scene of the accident after his citybound utility was struck by a light-rigid truck carrying beer kegs, about 5.50am on Thursday morning.

Mr Shanley’s family is receiving consular assistance.

The Church Street exit where the crash occurred is the final opportunity for motorists to leave the motorway before distance-based tolls apply.

Police are investigating whether a last-minute bid to exit before the toll could have been behind the crash, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

"It is a part of the roadway which can cause problems with people leaving the motorway to then go into the Church Street off ramp," Police Chief Inspector Adam Phillips told the paper.

Dylan Moran returns for national tour

Dylan Moran returns in October for his first Aussie tour in four years.

Dylan Moran returns in October for his first Aussie tour in four years.

Dylan Moran returns to Australia for a national tour in October.

It’s the hugely popular Meathman’s first Aussie tour in four years.

Moran will once again offer his unique take on love, politics, misery and the everyday absurdities of life in his new show Dr Cosmos.

The Sydney show, at the Opera House, will be part of the Just For Laughs Sydney Comedy Festival.  Tickets go on sale Tuesday 14 May at 9am.

Moran, who like fellow comics Tommy Tiernan and Hector Ó hEochagáin was born in Navan, has been called the Oscar Wilde of comedy for his deadpan, witty and lyrical style.

He first came to prominence in 1996 at the Edinburgh Fringe, becoming the youngest ever winner of the Perrier Award.  He went on to co-write and star in Black Books which won two BAFTAs. 

Other notable screen roles include Notting HillCalvaryShaun of the Dead and Run Fatboy Run.

Moran, who now calls Edinburgh home, has toured the world many times, including versions of his show as far afield as Kazakhstan, Ukraine and across the US.  

His last tour, Off the Hook, took in 149 dates across the globe and was the second biggest comedy tour in Australian history after Billy Connolly.

For tour dates and venues, visit www.abpresents.com.au