Thong protest goes viral after Cork rape acquittal

 Protestor Naoise Griffin Richardson in Dublin’s O’Connell St. Picture: Niall Carson/PA

Protestor Naoise Griffin Richardson in Dublin’s O’Connell St. Picture: Niall Carson/PA

Hundreds of people protested in Dublin city centre on Wednesday to highlight concerns over how rape trials are conducted in Ireland.

A recent case in Co Cork sparked outrage after a defence barrister referred to the 17 year-old complainant's underwear during the trial, in which a man was acquitted of rape.

Organised by a number of feminist organisations, demonstrators held up sets of underwear and signs that read "Stop victim blaming in courts" while chanting "Clothes are not consent".

People Before Profit TD Brid Smith told the crowd that they must organise and fight back against injustice.

"Consistently we see in court where women's bodies have been violated and women are made to feel like it's their fault," she said.

"Prejudice is at the heart of the system itself, no matter where you come from and who you accuse - there is a lack of justice in this country for women.

"This is a nasty unjust system - why are the government not bringing legislation forward to stop this happening in court?"

 Ruth Coppinger TD outside the Dáil where she raised the issue of victim blaming in rape trials.

Ruth Coppinger TD outside the Dáil where she raised the issue of victim blaming in rape trials.

The case was brought to wider public attention on Tuesday when Irish politician Ruth Coppinger held up a thong in the parliament chamber to highlight the outrage felt by some sections of the public.

"Why is nothing yet being done to stop the routine use of rape myths in trials, and how concerned is this Government about the chilling effect this is having on victims coming forward?" Ms Coppinger asked the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as she held the underwear aloft.

Present at the march, Ms Coppinger said it was clear young people will no longer stand by when they believe something is wrong.

"You're always a bit nervous when you do something like that in the Dáil because of the strict rules, but also I wasn't sure how it would go down. I wanted to do it with sensitivity" she said.

"I've been amazed at the response, a massive reaction.

"Normally you get some abuse, but the reaction has been incredibly positive.

"People are sickened by this type of society, sexism, racism or whatever is used to divide people and people are anxious to change that.

"It's reflective of the last five years in Ireland. It's been building, changing attitudes towards the position of women in society, particularly among young people.

"The idea that this could happen in 2018, that what you wear somehow justifies any kind of sexual violence, it's backward."

A popular social media campaign was sparked by the fall-out from the case with women from Ireland and abroad posting pictures of their underwear with the hashtag #Thisisnotconsent.

'I thought he was going to change', says accused killer

 David Walsh and his killer, former fiancee Cathrina Cahill who is now awaiting sentencing.

David Walsh and his killer, former fiancee Cathrina Cahill who is now awaiting sentencing.

A Wexford woman who killed her fiance in Sydney has told a judge she did not leave the "controlling and fairly unpleasant" man as she loved him dearly.

David Walsh said he would change but would revert back to his bad behaviour, Cathrina Cahill, 27, told her sentencing hearing.

She was giving evidence on Tuesday in the New South Wales Supreme Court after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of Mr Walsh, who she stabbed once in the neck in the early hours of February 18, 2017, at their home in Padstow, south-west of Sydney.

"I honestly thought he was going to change. He was someone I did love and adore," she told the court.

Cahill, whose guilty plea was based on diminished responsibility due to an abnormality of the mind, previously gave evidence about repeated violence by Mr Walsh.

This included punching strangers and biting her all over her body, while he also accused her of her sleeping with other men and deleted texts from her phone, the court heard.

She had packed her bags many times to leave him, but Mr Walsh would tell her everything was going to be different, Cahill told the court.

She said: "He would be making me dinner, buying me flowers, buying me a teddy bear, but after two to three weeks it would go back to the way it was."

She agreed with Justice Peter Johnson that her evidence revealed a "pretty stormy relationship" and that Mr Walsh might be seen to be a "controlling and fairly unpleasant person".

But she said she stayed with him as she "loved him very dearly".

The fatal attack occurred when an intoxicated Mr Walsh launched an unprovoked attack on a man invited into the home by Cahill and the two other female housemates.

Cahill, who also had been drinking, was punched by her fiance when trying to stop the attack, before she took out a "large, very sharp, bladed knife" from the cutlery drawer and stabbed him.

Cahill's barrister James Trevallion said there was no evidence his client had ever struck Mr Walsh without any provocation and noted she was smaller than him.

He submitted she had no intention to kill, the stabbing had involved a single blow and Mr Walsh was the one who initiated the violence.

Justice Johnson, who said the case involved "unusual features" such as a "type of two-way domestic violence", will sentence Cahill on December 12.

Working holidays can now stretch to three years

 Regional farm work is key to extending your working holiday visa.

Regional farm work is key to extending your working holiday visa.

The Australian Government has announced changes to the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa which will allow backpackers to stay in the country for up to three years.

The changes, which came into force on November 5, come on the back of a relaxation of the age limits for Irish and Canadian WHM applicants who are now eligible up to the age of 35.

The more recent changes to the WHM visa program include:

• Increasing the period in which subclass 417 and 462 visa holders can stay with the same agricultural (plant and animal cultivation) employer, from 6 to 12 months and

• The option of a third-year for subclass 417 and 462 visa holders who, after July 1, 2019, undertake six months of specified work in a specified regional area during their second year.

According to the Australian government, the changes have been introduced to “provide farmers with immediate access to workers in key parts of regional Australia”.

Employers will be able to retain trained and experienced employees doing agricultural work for up to twelve months, rather than the previous six.

This work includes harvesting and/or packing of fruit and vegetables; pruning or trimming vines and trees; crop work; processing of plant products; maintaining farm animals as well as shearing, butchery, packing and tanning work.

Currently, WHMs can remain in the country for up to two years on that visa.

My fiance bullied and threatened me, killer tells court

 Cathrina Cahill, who killed her fiance David Walsh in February, 2017.

Cathrina Cahill, who killed her fiance David Walsh in February, 2017.

An Irish woman who killed her fiance in Sydney has told a judge of his repeated violence, including punching strangers and biting her all over her body, and how he accused her of sleeping with other men.

Cathrina Cahill said she could not look at other men when she was out with David Walsh, nor could she look in the mirror when driving as there might be a male driver behind. If she did, she said Mr Walsh would say: "I hope you got a good look, slut".

The 27-year-old was giving evidence in the New South Wales Supreme Court on Friday at her sentencing hearing for the manslaughter of Mr Walsh, 29, who was stabbed once in the neck in the early hours of February 18, 2017 at their home.

The couple shared the property in Padstow, south west of Sydney, with two other Irish nationals. Cahill, from Wexford, was originally charged with murder but the Crown accepted her plea to the less serious charge on the basis of substantial impairment due to an abnormality of the mind at the time.

When asked about the death by her barrister James Trevallion, she said: "There is not a day that goes by when I don't think about David's family. I loved him so much. He told me no matter what I did I would never get away from him and if I ever got with anybody else he would make my life hell."

She testified that Mr Walsh blocked people from her Facebook account, deleted texts and numbers from her phone and was convinced she was having an affair with her boss. He would come to her work to wait for her and make a gesture - which she demonstrated in court - of running a finger across his throat, she said.

 David Walsh was violent and possessive according to his former fiancee Cathrina Cahill.

David Walsh was violent and possessive according to his former fiancee Cathrina Cahill.

Cahill told the judge of a string of incidents when Mr Walsh punched men - including his friend, Paul Mulligan, who had just arrived to stay at their house.

"I was in my bedroom and David came and out of nowhere started accusing me of being with Paul Mulligan which was totally untrue," she told the court. "David came out and just hit Paul", who then moved out.

The court was told of an incident when Cahill was with a female friend at a hotel when a man started talking to the other woman.

"David came in and hit the guy so hard he landed on the floor," she said. "He said 'he won't look at my missus again'."

Mr Walsh punched numerous holes in the house walls, threw a glass bottle through a new TV and "would constantly break things in the house", the court heard.

He would grab her face "and constantly bite me, that was his thing", she said.

A former housemate testified that she saw Cahill stab Mr Walsh in the back of his head on October 3, 2015. But Cahill said they had argued in their bedroom and she went to the door, but he blocked it and had a knife in his hand. She went to grab it, he ran out and she cut the back of his head with the knife, the court heard.

Prosecutor Nanette Williams suggested Cahill was lying because she knew the housemate's evidence was very "damning" about her purposefully going downstairs to get the knife and attack her partner in the head.

"That isn't true," Cahill replied.

The hearing will continue on November 9 before Justice Peter Johnson, who said he expected to sentence Cahill before December 14.

Court hears evidence of Irish woman's violent past

 Cathrina Cahill has admitted to killing her former fiance David Walsh.

Cathrina Cahill has admitted to killing her former fiance David Walsh.

A newly-engaged Irish woman who has admitted killing her fiance in Sydney stabbed him in the back of the head more than 18 months before his death, a judge has been told.

Former housemate Isobel Jennings testified that the couple were arguing before she saw Cathrina Cahill come up the stairs with her hand behind her back and then suddenly stab David Walsh in the head three or four times.

Ms Jennings was giving evidence on Thursday at the New South Wales Supreme Court sentencing hearing of Cahill, from Wexford.

Cahill, 27, pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to the manslaughter of Mr Walsh, 29, on the basis of substantial impairment.

She had originally been charged with murder but the charge was downgraded.

Cahill, who is known as Tina, admitted unlawfully killing Mr Walsh - who was also from Wexford - between February 17 and 18 last year in the suburb of Padstow.

She gave psychiatrists a history of being in a traumatic relationship with Mr Walsh, hallmarked by physical, emotional and verbal abuse over a period of time.

Under cross-examination from Cahill's barrister, James Trevallion, Ms Jennings denied lying about the incident in which she said Cahill had stabbed Mr Walsh in October 2015.

The court was told Cahill was charged with one count of reckless wounding of Mr Walsh in relation to him being injured after she threw a large candle at him in November 2015.

She was convicted of the offence in her absence and placed on a two-year bond in April 2016 at Waverley Local Court.

According to the agreed statement of facts, the couple argued on the night of February 17 2017 when they were drinking with others.

They parted, before Cahill, two female friends and Matthew Hyde, a man they had socialised with at one of the pubs, arrived back at the Padstow address where Mr Walsh was either asleep or partially asleep on a couch.

Soon after, Mr Walsh repeatedly attacked Mr Hyde wanting to know who he was and, during the ensuing chaos, Cahill screamed: "Stop it Davey, get off, get off ... he's with Grace."

She tried to get a grip of her fiance's arms when he swung his arm back and she fell to the ground, the facts said.

She moved towards him and punched him in the face with a closed fist, before Mr Walsh pushed her again and tried to punch her in the face.

Eventually, "the offender opened and closed the cutlery drawer quickly taking out a large, very sharp, bladed knife".

One witness said over and over again "put it back" but Cahill replied: "No, he needs to be taught a lesson. It's not fair. Look at poor Matthew."

The hearing is continuing before Justice Peter Johnson.

Working holiday visa age limit increased to 35

backpacker.jpg

From today, the reciprocal age limit for Irish and Australian citizens to get a Working Holiday visa has been increased to 35.

Before today, applicants had to be no more than 30 years old to get a ‘backpacker’ visa.

The increased age limit for Australia in only available to Irish and Canadian citizens.

Australia’s Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman said the new arrangements will strengthen Australia's close and long standing ties with Ireland.

"Both Canada and Ireland have been part of Australia's Working Holiday Maker program since it began in 1975, so it is fitting that they are the first countries to become eligible for the extended age range," Mr Coleman said.  "Last year, more than 16,000 citizens from Canada and Ireland were granted Working Holiday visas for Australia, with many of them living and working in regional and rural areas during their stay."

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said the change would “not only allow a more diverse group of people to avail of this scheme, but also help to strengthen those links between our two countries even further”.

Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan, who is visiting Australia on official business, added: “Since the Working Holiday Programme began in 1975, it is estimated that more than 275,000 young Irish people have spent up to two years in Australia under this scheme. In 2017 alone, some 8,653 visas were issued to Irish citizens under the Working Holiday Programme. The agreement to extend the age eligibility on a reciprocal basis underscores the wide-reaching success of this programme to date.”

The Working Holiday visa (subclass 417) is a temporary visa for young people who want to holiday and work in Australia for up to a year. You must be outside Australia when you apply for your first Working Holiday visa and when the visa is decided. If you apply for a second Working Holiday visa, you must be in Australia when the visa is granted. If you apply outside Australia, you must be outside Australia when the visa is granted. You can generally only work six months with one employer but many Irish nationals use the visa as a stepping stone for employer sponsorship and eventually, permanent migration.
 

 

A victory for hope over fear, says re-elected president

 President Michael D Higgins and his family celebrate his re-election.

President Michael D Higgins and his family celebrate his re-election.

Michael D Higgins has welcomed his re-election as president of Ireland as a vote for hope over fear.

The 77-year-old poet, professor and campaigner secured his second term in office with a landslide margin of more than 55% of the vote.

Speaking in Dublin Castle after he was re-elected, Mr Higgins said: "The people have made a choice as to which version of Irishness they want reflected at home and abroad.

"It is the making of hope they wish to share rather than the experience of any exploitation of division or fear."

He said his version of Ireland is one which draws on traditional genius and contemporary creativity.

"The presidency belongs not only to any one person but to the people of Ireland.

"I will be a president for all the people, for those who voted for me and those who did not.

"I am so proud of this country, I am proud to be a president for all of you and with all of you, and I look forward with joy and hope to all that we will achieve together."

Mr Higgins, who has served at almost every level of politics, is a fluent Irish speaker and a long-time campaigner for equality.

He made history in 2014 when he became the first Irish president to undertake an official state visit to the UK.

There were loud cheers as the father-of-four embraced friends and supporters as he celebrated his victory.

Ireland's premier Leo Varadkar hailed Mr Higgins's re-election as an "historic victory".

"You secured 822,566 first preference votes which is the highest first preference vote by any candidate," he said.

"That is an extraordinary endorsement of the last seven years of your presidency and a really strong mandate for the next term of office over the next seven years."

Businessman Peter Casey, initially an outside contender whose last-minute surge in the polls following critical comments about the Travelling community saw him propelled into second place, got 23% of the vote.

In his speech, Peter Casey congratulated President Higgins.

"It's been amazing, it's been a real experience the past six weeks or so," he said.

"I'd like to congratulate President Higgins and wish Sabina a wonderful seven years.

"I'm sure the sentiments you described so wonderfully there, I'm sure they are shared by everyone here - wishing you all the very, very best."

Gavin Duffy, who gained just 2% of the votes, said: "Was I disappointed? Yes. Did I have regrets? No."

Sinn Fein faced a disappointing result, with candidate Liadh Ni Riada gaining half of the support achieved by the late Martin McGuinness in 2011.

After receiving 6% of the vote, she said it was important the election was held, rather than allowing Mr Higgins to return to office unchallenged.

"The people of Ireland spoke today and spoke with a resounding yes to put Michael D Higgins back in office," she said, congratulating the president.

Mrs Ni Riada also said she hopes voters in Northern Ireland would soon be able to vote in Irish presidential elections. A referendum on the issue is anticipated next year.

In her speech, Joan Freeman, who received 6% of the vote, singled out the president's wife Sabina.

"I'm so happy for you Sabina," she said.

"The people who voted for me - thank you for that."

In the longest speech of any of the defeated candidates, Sean Gallagher, who gained around 6% of the vote, expressed pride in the campaign he and his team had run.

"Together we put forward ideas that can shape the future and today is not the end of those ideas," he said.

Mr Higgins has long championed an ethical Republic and has repeatedly addressed issues surrounding memory, commemoration, identity and the conflicting traditions on the island.

The refugee crisis in Europe and the plight of migrants has been a favourite topic, as well as the importance of the arts and Ireland's great literary tradition.

Murder charges against Irish woman downgraded

 Cathrina Cahill and her fiance David Walsh who she has admitted to killing while under substantial impairment in February 2017.

Cathrina Cahill and her fiance David Walsh who she has admitted to killing while under substantial impairment in February 2017.

A Wexford woman has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of her fiance in Sydney, after the charge was downgraded from murder.

Cathrina Cahill, 27, pleaded guilty in the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday, on the basis of substantial impairment “by abnormality of the mind”, to the stabbing manslaughter of David ‘Daithi’ Walsh between February 17 and February 18 in 2017 at Padstow.

Her barrister James Trevallion referred to the need for the judge to be aware of the “extent of the provocation and controlling behaviour” by Mr Walsh, before her sentencing hearing was set down for November 1.

Cahill remains behind bars where she has spent the past 20 months. Members of her family were in the court to support her.

ABC Australia has reported that doctors’ reports tendered to the court indicate that she may have been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder at the time of the incident. 

Cahill admitted to unlawfully killing David Walsh – who was also from Wexford – between 17 and 18 February 2017 in Padstow. 

David Walsh, who was a father of three young girls in Ireland, was stabbed to death at his home.

He was pronounced dead at the scene after emergency services were called to the house on Watson Road.

According to AAP, Cahill’s barrister James Trevallion said the abnormality of the mind was caused by Walsh’s conduct towards her, stating that the judge needed to be aware of the “extent of the provocation and controlling behaviour” by him. 

The crown prosecutor told the court, ABC Australia reports, that she would need time to allow Walsh’s brothers and three children, who are in Ireland, to provide victim impact statements to the court. 

Speaking outside the court, Trevallion said Cahill was “doing ok”.

Australia wants more immigrants to go bush

 Most immigrants, including the vast majority of Irish nationals, settle in the larger cities.

Most immigrants, including the vast majority of Irish nationals, settle in the larger cities.

The Australian government is considering banning some immigrants from settling in big cities.

Minister for cities, urban infrastructure and population Alan Tudge said his government wants to cut the number of immigrants moving to Sydney and Melbourne in a bid to reduce congestion in Australia's two biggest cities.

Mr Tudge said placing conditions on visas that force immigrants to stay in less popular centres for several years would increase the likelihood that they would settle in those places permanently.

"Nearly every visa has conditions attached to it, so it wouldn't be unusual to have a geographic attachment to a particular visa," Mr Tudge told the ABC.

Australia is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world, but has long had a high proportion of its population - currently 25 million people - living in cities. Around two in every five Australians live in Sydney and Melbourne alone.

The government is considering banning immigrants from settling in Sydney and Melbourne for five years after they arrive in the country.

Australia has the fastest population growth of any advanced Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development country other than Canada, growing 1.6 per cent a year.

But the population of Melbourne grew last year by 2.7 per cent, while the population of the south-east corner of Queensland state around Brisbane and the Gold Coast grew by 2.3 per cent, and Sydney grew by 2.1 per cent.

The main driver of population growth in Sydney and Melbourne was overseas migration, with 87 per cent of skilled migrants to Australia and almost all refugees gravitating to those cities.

 NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian wants a cut to visa numbers.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian wants a cut to visa numbers.

Premier of NSW Gladys Berejiklian, the daughter of Armenian immigrants, said that she believed Sydney needed “a breather” from high immigration numbers.

“It’s time to tap the brakes and take a breather on immigration levels to this state. We should return to Howard-era immigration levels in NSW,” she said.

“I’m the daughter of proud immigrants myself, but it’s clear that successive federal governments have allowed the rate of immigration to NSW to balloon out of control.”

Growth in the Brisbane-Gold Coast region reflected higher levels of population shift within Australia and a higher birthrate.

Mr Tudge said some categories of immigrants would be exempt from geographic blocks.

Migrants who were sponsored by employers - which is the visa pathway for many Irish - would be able to work where employers need them, and those on family reunion visas - typically a foreigner marrying an Australian - would also be free to live where they chose.

Sponsored employees make up 25 per cent of Australia's immigrant intake and family reunion visas make up 30 per cent.

Marion Terrill, an expert on cities and transport from the Melbourne-based Grattan Institute think tank, said governments need to improve infrastructure in major cities rather than curb population growth.

"People are voting with their feet, they want to be in cities and so I think the job for government is to ensure that cities work and that people can get around rather than to try to get people to go where they don't want to go," Ms Terrill said.

Melissa Montero, an immigrant advocate and chief executive of the Sydney-based community migrant resource centre, said immigrants need social support, language services as well as jobs to successfully resettle.

Carla Wilshire, another immigrant advocate and chief executive of Migrant Council Australia in Canberra, suggested the government should invest in services outside Sydney and Melbourne to make smaller towns more attractive to immigrants.

Mark Morey, secretary of Unions NSW, which represents trade unions in New South Wales state, said the government's plan would leave immigrants isolated, with fewer job options and with less pay than they could hope for in big cities.

Irish-born Sinead Diver wins Melbourne marathon

 Sinead Diver

Sinead Diver

Mayo-mum Sinéad Diver has won the Melbourne Marathon in record time.

Diver, who moved to Melbourne in 2002 and now calls Australia home, set a new course record with a time of 2:25:19 making her the fastest ever Australian female athlete to complete the 42.195km distance in Australia.

It’s also the second fastest marathon ever run by an Irish woman after Catherina McKiernan’s record of 2:22:23.

“Today was the best marathon experience I’ve ever had. It’s really special to get a PB in my hometown. Finishing in the ‘G’, with all my family and friends cheering me on was so emotional,” said the Irish Australian.

Diver is a three-time World Championship representative, and has a spate of wins to date including the Launceston 10, where she broke a course record and ran the fastest 10km road race by an Australian since 2006. 

Diver’s best performance came at the Sunshine Coast Half Marathon where she ran 1:09:20, the fastest time by an Australian in eight years and second fastest ever recorded in Australia. 

She now sets her sights on the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

 Sinead Diver crosses the finish line at the MCG.

Sinead Diver crosses the finish line at the MCG.

Melbourne to host global Irish famine event

 Dr Val Noone next to the Famine Rock at Williamstown.

Dr Val Noone next to the Famine Rock at Williamstown.

The famine monument at Williamstown in suburban Melbourne will host this year’s International Commemoration of the Great Famine, the Irish Government has announced.

It is the first time Melbourne has hosted the event which takes place in a different country each year.

The ceremony will take place on Sunday, October 28 and Melbourne Irish Famine Commemoration Committee’s chairman Dr Val Noone said he and his team were “honoured” to be chosen.

The Williamstown Famine Rock was erected 20 years ago to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of 191 Irish orphan girls into Hobson’s Bay aboard the Lady Kennaway.

The impoverished girls from Irish workhouses were brought out to Australia between 1848 and 1850 to become servants and wives under the Earl Grey Emigration Scheme.

Dr Noone said descendants of the orphan girls’ will attend this month’s commemoration which will also include Irish music and song, flower-laying and speeches.

“We pass the microphone around and give them a chance to tell us who they are descended from, what age they were when they came, and what ship they came on,” he said.

“When you think of what it was like for those girls, many of them only 14 or 15 years of age, to step ashore in Melbourne, 20,000 kilometres from home facing a terrific challenge.”

Irish Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan said some 1700 of the 4000-plus young Irish women who came to Australia under the Earl Grey scheme first landed in Melbourne.

“This year’s commemoration represents an opportunity to not only honour the work of the Irish community in Melbourne in preserving its history but also to pay special tribute to the memory of those young women and their contribution to their adopted homeland,” she said.

Sadly when the girls first arrived, some of the local press whipped up anti-Irish feeling. 

The Melbourne Argus newspaper was particularly harsh, describing them as “ignorant creatures, whose knowledge of household duty barely reaches to distinguishing the inside from the outside of a potato”.

Dr Noone said they would have needed “courage and determination” to deal with the discrimination, prejudice and racism they encountered.

“It is moving to think that those girls, scorned and libelled by the local press when they arrived, are being remembered and honoured,” he said.

Irish studies Professor Elizabeth Malcolm is a great-great granddaughter of Margaret Cooke from Co Kildare who came to Australia on the Earl Grey scheme when she was just 16.

“I have often taught the Famine to students, so I am very familiar with its horrors,” Prof Malcolm said. “When I discovered I had an orphan ancestor, it was exciting at first, but, on reflection, I found it very sad. Margaret must have had a pretty terrible early life.”

Dr Noone said they’d been having annual community commemorations at Williamstown since the memorial was first erected 20 years ago.

Expat Dub’s Grandpa yarn a big hit with little readers

 Children’s author Paul Newman.

Children’s author Paul Newman.

A DUBLIN author living in Sydney has followed up his best-selling debut children’s book with a second story which aims to help children deal with fear of the dark. 

Grandpa’s Space Adventure by Paul Newman sees a grandad teaching his young grandson that he does not need to be afraid of the dark, with the help of some ‘tall stories’ brought to life by award-winning illustrator Tom Jellett. 

Paul Newman, originally from Portmarnock, told The Irish Echo: “The first book is a grandfather trying to get his grandson to swim and he just tells some real tall stories in order to get his grandson into the pool. 

“It was amusing to me but I went off to work that day and I came in that evening and read it again and thought, ‘this is not a bad little idea’.

“In the second book, the kid is afraid of the dark. Grandpa says: ‘we’ll go camping in the backyard tonight. You have to have the dark, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to see the stars or the moon and if you can’t see the moon, you can’t go to the moon’.” 

Grandpa’s Big Adventure became a bestseller in Australia and was last year shortlisted for the Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Award. It also attracted praise in the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards.

“I think one of the reasons that the schoolteachers like it is because they can ask kids: ‘Is there anything you are afraid of? Are you afraid of swimming?’  It is nice when you hear that it is used as a teaching aid. Reviews are all saying it’s nice because it’s not sentimental and adults will get something out of it reading it for kids. 

“There’s always a little line in there for the grown ups or maybe something thrown into the illustrations.”

Newman has lived in Australia for 30 years and now calls Sydney home. He is the father of 16-year-old twins and says his experience of being a parent informs his writing. He is also the author of the novel, Fin Rising, a mysterious, dark Irish comedy.

He says he is very keen to continue his series but “that’s entirely up to the people at Penguin”. 

Grandpa’s Space Adventure and Grandpa’s Big Adventure are both published through Penguin.