Ireland

Varadkar flags possible Brexit deal after Johnson meeting

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his British counterpart Boris Johnson have said they can "see a pathway" to a possible Brexit deal, breaking the deadlock on the Northern Ireland backstop.

Following more than two hours of "detailed and constructive" talks at a country manor on the Wirral, the two leaders said it was in "everybody's interest" to get an agreement which would allow the UK to leave with a deal.

Mr Varadkar said he hoped the progress they had made would be "sufficient" to enable intensive negotiations to resume in Brussels ahead of next week's crucial EU summit.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay will meet the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, in Brussels today when they are expected to assess whether there are the grounds to move forward.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Wirral on Thursday.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Wirral on Thursday.

Mr Johnson almost certainly needs the EU leaders gathering in Brussels on October 17 and 18 to sign off on an agreement in order to be able to take Britain out of the EU on October 31 with a deal.

Speaking to reporters at Liverpool Airport before his return to Dublin, Mr Varadkar said while there were still issues to be resolved, he believed it was possible to meet the Halloween deadline.

"I think it is possible for us to come to an agreement, to have a treaty to allow the UK to leave the EU in an orderly fashion, and to have that done by the end of October, but there's many a slip between cup and lip," he said.

"In terms of how long it will take, I can't predict that with any certainty, but I think all sides would like there to be an agreement next week at the council if possible.

"Obviously there's a further deadline after that which is the 31st of October, so I would say a short pathway rather than a long one, but it's impossible to predict that for sure."

Earlier in a joint statement, the two leaders said they would "reflect further" on their discussions while their officials would continue to "engage intensively".

"Both continue to believe a deal is in everybody's interest. They agreed that they could see a pathway to a possible deal," the statement said.

Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union on October 31.

Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union on October 31.

Mr Varadkar refused to be drawn on any "concessions" made by either side, while British sources refused to be drawn on Irish press reports suggesting "significant movement" by the UK.

The meeting at the 19th-century Thornton Manor - now a luxury wedding venue - was seen as a last chance for Mr Johnson to get his hopes of an agreement back on track.

In their statement, the two leaders said their discussions had concentrated on the "challenges" of future customs arrangements and "consent" in Mr Johnson's Brexit blueprint.

The Irish and other EU governments have objected to proposals to take Northern Ireland out of the EU customs union - along with the rest of the UK - meaning the return of customs checks on the island of Ireland.

They have also voiced strong concern about proposals in the plan for the new arrangements to require the consent of the Stormont Assembly, effectively handing a veto to the DUP.

The unexpectedly upbeat statement comes at the end of a week marked by acrimonious exchanges between London, Dublin and Brussels in which the negotiations appeared close to collapse.

I think it is possible for us to come to an agreement, to have a treaty to allow the UK to leave the EU in an orderly fashion, and to have that done by the end of October, but there’s many a slip between cup and lip
— Taoiseach Leo Varadkar

Briefings by anonymous No 10 sources accused Mr Varadkar of backtracking on previous commitments to try to find a deal and of refusing to negotiate. And following a heated telephone call between Mr Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday, they claimed the EU was making it "essentially impossible" for Britain to leave with a deal.

Time remains tight, however, if there is to be a deal. On Wednesday, Mr Barnier told the European Parliament there was still no basis for a fresh agreement. He said the UK had yet to put forward an "operational, legally binding solution" to replace the Northern Ireland backstop - intended to prevent the return of a hard border with the Republic. And he said Mr Johnson's proposals for a trusted traders scheme, with any physical customs checks taking place well away from the border, were based on a system "that hasn't been properly developed, that hasn't been tested".

If there is no agreement, Mr Johnson will face demands from opposition parties to comply with the so-called Benn Act which would require him to go back to Brussels and request a further Brexit delay.

The Prime Minister has said that while he will abide by the law, he is determined to leave on the Halloween deadline come what may. Government sources have said ministers are preparing to hold an emergency Saturday sitting of Parliament on October 19.

Many British MPs believe that if he cannot get a deal, Mr Johnson will use the occasion to lambast them for thwarting an agreement, laying the ground for a "people versus Parliament" general election, possibly as early as next month.

Votes for Irish abroad referendum to be delayed again

The referendum to decide whether Irish citizens living abroad will be allowed to vote in presidential elections looks certain to be pushed back to next year.

It is the second time the referendum has been delayed. The vote was originally expected to take place in May alongside the local and European elections. It was then expected to take place later this month or in November but the Irish government has yet to name the date despite publishing the Bill last week.

While the Irish government has refused to offer an official comment, it is understood that the uncertainties of Brexit have scuppered plans to have the vote this year.

The Irish Times has reported that government sources had said that more work needed to be done to prepare for the referendum, and sources expected it would not be completed in time for a November poll.

Ireland’s Minister for the Diaspora Ciaran Cannon, during his visit to Australia in May, revealed that the government was worried about a ‘no’ vote.

If successful, the referendum will pave the way for Irish citizens living abroad to vote in presidential elections. The 2025 presidential election would be the first in which Irish citizens not resident in Ireland could vote.

Many expats travelled to Ireland to have their say in the same-sex marriage and abortion referenda even though, as non-residents, they are officially denied a vote.

Many expats travelled to Ireland to have their say in the same-sex marriage and abortion referenda even though, as non-residents, they are officially denied a vote.

Under the proposed change, all Irish citizens of voting age would be eligible to vote but only in presidential elections.

The government estimates that there are 3.6 million Irish citizens outside of the Republic. This figure includes the total population of Northern Ireland (approximately 1.8 million) as well as those who have not reached voting age.

Online registration and postal voting would be used to extend the franchise, according to reports in Ireland. The campaign period would also be extended to accommodate a global electorate.

Also read: Emigrants should be the focus of new diaspora policy

Votes for Irish Citizens Abroad (VICA), the primary lobby group to extend the franchise to non-resident Irish nationals, welcomed the publication of the Bill which proposes to amend Article 12 of the constitution.

“Great news that the Irish government has tonight published the bill on extending presidential voting rights, ahead of a referendum on the issue,” VICA said in a tweet.

The referendum had been originally due to take place in May, alongside the divorce referendum and the local and European elections.

However, the Cabinet in February opted to delay the presidential vote.

The Taoiseach said the possibility of the vote being contentious and the uncertainty of Brexit were factors in the decision.

Speaking at the time, Leo Varadkar told the Dáil: "It will involve a good deal of planning, it needs a good campaign and we want to win it."

Ireland is almost unique among western democracies in denying its citizens abroad a vote.

Turnout in the 2018 Irish Presidential Election was as low as 30 per cent in come constituencies.

Turnout in the 2018 Irish Presidential Election was as low as 30 per cent in come constituencies.

Countries like France have global constituencies for its citizens abroad and elected representatives sit in the French parliament. Australia allows its citizens abroad to vote for up to six years after leaving the country. However, you must be first registered to vote while resident in Australia.

In 2016, a Convention on the Constitution voted in favour of extending the vote in presidential elections to Irish citizens living abroad

The possibility of citizens abroad being allowed to vote in Dáil and Seanad elections or referenda was not even considered by the convention.

When the government originally announced plans for the referendum earlier this year, there was an almost immediate backlash against the extension of voting rights.

Radio presenter and journalist Ciara Kelly wrote: “It's my view that many of the diaspora look back at the old sod with green tinted glasses and see us largely stowed in moth balls at the point at which they or their parents or grandparents left. But that is not who we are. We are a young, vibrant, outward looking, progressive, liberal country. I'm not sure that is truly recognised by our ex-pats.“

She went on: “I would stick to the old rule - no representation without taxation. No vote unless you have to live with the consequences of that vote.”

Special Killeavy homecoming for Sydney Irish family

An Armagh couple who left Ireland for Australia more than 50 years ago has been drawn back by an unbelievable family feat.

Michael and Pauline Boyle’s son Mick has lived out his fantasy of restoring a castle estate in Killeavy, which has opened as a luxury country retreat.

It was a grand homecoming for the parents, who were invited to cut the ribbon at the hotel’s opening in their home county.

Mr Boyle Snr said his son’s venture would share the magic of the area to visitors from far and wide.

“South Armagh has always been a special place for Pauline and I, and we are so happy to be able to return to open this hotel that will showcase its beauty to the world,” he said.

Michael and Pauline started their family in South Armagh before migrating to Australia in the 1960s when Mick Boyle Jnr was just five years old.

A proud Pauline and Michael Boyle officially declared Killeavy Castle open for business.

A proud Pauline and Michael Boyle officially declared Killeavy Castle open for business.

After falling into disrepair, Killeavy’s 1836 castle was purchased by the Boyles for £1.3million six years ago, with the younger generation embracing the chance to honour their origins.

The castle has since undergone extensive restoration.

The 350 acre estate is an hour’s drive from Dublin, featuring a spa, restaurant and event space, and the extensively renovated castle at its centre.

It is hoped the 45-bedroom venue will become a destination for both international travellers and those holidaying within Ireland, as well as a popular choice to host weddings and corporate events.

Earlier Story: Expat businessman’s fairytale castle project complete

Owner Mick Boyle relished in the opportunity not only to restore a “significant historic building”, but also to create local employment, with nearly 100 staff recruited.

Mick Boyle Jnr, Robin Boyle, Pauline Boyle and Michael Boyle Snr have re-established family ties to South Armagh.

Mick Boyle Jnr, Robin Boyle, Pauline Boyle and Michael Boyle Snr have re-established family ties to South Armagh.

Despite only recently opening the establishment, Mr Boyle’s wife Robin said the hotel had its sights set firmly on the future.

With the hotel situated adjacent to the Slieve Gullion Forest Park, Ms Boyle said they were committed to improving Ireland’s environmental conditions and embracing the nature surrounding the site.

The restaurant’s menu features ingredients foraged from the woodlands, and the owners have extensive plans to improve the vitality of the forest cover.

“We are talking with the Woodland Trust and Northern Ireland Forestry Service about a scheme we have developed to plant…an additional 100 acres of broadleaf woodlands.”

“What a gift that would be for future generations.”

Meath singer Sibéal to perform at Sydney's Zone Out Festival

An up-and-coming Irish songstress has released her debut album ahead of a trip down under.

County Meath native Sibéal Ní Chasaide will perform repertoire from her self-titled work at Sydney’s Zone Out Festival at the end of September, joining an international line up with her fresh take on Irish folk.

Sibéal is an unexpected star in the 2019 music scene, introducing audiences worldwide to sean-nós, the traditional and emotive style of singing in Ireland's Gaeltacht.

Sibeal_Press_2.jpg

The 21-year-old has said of her unique sound, “I like…bringing the contemporary edge to sean-nós singing.

“That’s who I am essentially, I’m not just a one-dimensional person.”

She also performs songs in English with Blackbird and The Parting Glass nestled among the tunes sung as Gaeilge, ensuring the eponymous album’s universal appeal.

Sibéal rose to prominence as a school student when renowned composer Patrick Cassidy heard her sing and invited her to perform vocals for a centenary documentary, 1916: The Irish Rebellion.

Sibéal discusses her journey to success.

Her live performance of Mise Éire - the moving centrepiece of the score - with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra cemented her status as one to watch.

She has since recorded at the iconic Abbey Road Studios and shared her voice with audiences in the United States, Canada and the UK, accustomed to the touring life after spending her childhood travelling with her father and uncles’ Irish folk band.

Sibéal has been called a young woman of the new Ireland returning Irish music to the international arena.

The Zone Out Festival features international and Australian neo-classical artists, yoga sessions, panel discussions and film screenings.

The event takes place at Carriageworks on Saturday, September 28.

Sinéad Flanagan wins Rose crown for Limerick

Sinéad Flanagan from Limerick is the 2019 International Rose Of Tralee. Picture: Dominick Walsh

Sinéad Flanagan from Limerick is the 2019 International Rose Of Tralee. Picture: Dominick Walsh

Limerick doctor Sinéad Flanagan has been crowned the 2019 International Rose of Tralee.

The 27-year-old was chosen from 32 young women who travelled from all over the world to the Kerry town for the annual festival.

She told host Dáithí Ó Sé: "I think you can tell by me I'm a bit shocked alright!" 

Flanagan described the experience as "amazing".

"It's Limerick's year," she said backstage. "We've had the All-Ireland, the league, the Munster final and now the Rose of Tralee.”

Sydney Rose Rebecca Mazza on stage in Tralee with host Daithi Ó Sé. Picture: Dominick Walsh

Sydney Rose Rebecca Mazza on stage in Tralee with host Daithi Ó Sé. Picture: Dominick Walsh

The new Rose grew up in Mungret and now lives in Adare, Co Limerick. After qualifying as a physiotherapist at University of Limerick, she studied Medicine in University College Cork and graduated in 2018.

Melbourne Rose Jordan Balfry on stage at the Tralee ‘Dome’. Picture: Dominick Walsh

Melbourne Rose Jordan Balfry on stage at the Tralee ‘Dome’. Picture: Dominick Walsh

South Australian Rose Simone Hendricks Buchanan on stage in Tralee.

South Australian Rose Simone Hendricks Buchanan on stage in Tralee.

Australia sent three representatives this year. Perth, Queensland and Darwin were not represented in 2019 after organisers limited numbers by introducing a rotation system for the first time.

Sydney’s representative was 24-year-old speech pathologist Rebecca Mazza. Born and raised in Perth, she moved to Sydney to pursue her career after completing her masters.

Limerick-born Jordan Balfry represented Melbourne. The 28-year-old occupational therapist is a recent arrival in Australia having moved to the Victorian capital two years ago.

South Australian Rose Simone Hendrick Buchanan was also born in Ireland but moved to Adelaide aged 11. Cork-born and raised in Dingle, Hendrick Buchahan is studying to be a primary schoolteacher.

Arizona Rose Kayla Gray made history during the pageant after becoming the first Rose of Tralee contestant to get a tattoo backstage during the televised finals.

There was controversy ahead of the televised event after Newstalk radio presenter Susan Keogh criticised the show’s host Daithi Ó Sé who claimed the Rose concept ‘empowered women’.

Ms Keogh said she had “never heard such bulls**t” and that the idea it empowered women was a “complete oversell”.

She asked: “Where is the body diversity. Will you see any fat roses?”.

Keogh also questioned where were the Roses from the Travelling community, the homeless and from direct provision. “It does not represent modern Ireland, “ she said.

She also asked why the women who do not have degrees are not represented in the live final.

But 2018 winner Kirsten Mate Maher fiercely defended the festival, saying: “I don’t have a degree, I haven’t set foot in college yet”.

The Waterford Rose is from a diverse family background. Her father is a former Zambian army officer; her mother is from Waterford.

“She (Ms Keogh) is attention-seeking ... I think it is really nasty and her views are wrong,” she said.

Victoria Cross returns to heroic Irish-Australian's homeland

A Victoria Cross medal awarded to an Irish-Australian soldier will be put on display at Dublin’s National Museum of Ireland.

The medal has been returned to the homeland of its Irish-born recipient Sergeant Martin O’Meara for 12 months, marking the first time an Australian VC has been loaned to an international museum in over 60 years.

The Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said O’Meara’s heroic actions in France during the First World War “undoubtedly saved many lives”.

“Showing utter contempt for danger, Sergeant O’Meara is a true representation of the ANZAC spirit,” Minister Reynolds said.

Changes made to Australian legislation surrounding cultural heritage in 2018 have allowed for the temporary export of the treasured artefact.

The Head of Museums at Australian Army Headquarters, Neil Dailey (centre left) holds the Victoria Cross with Marty Kavanagh, Honorary Consul of Ireland Western Australia along with the Australian Army Museum of Western Australia’s Manager, Major Henry Fijolek (left) and Mrs Leith Landauer during the official ceremony of the loaning Sergeant Martin O’Meara's Victoria Cross to Ireland at the Australian Army Museum of Western Australia in Fremantle.

The Head of Museums at Australian Army Headquarters, Neil Dailey (centre left) holds the Victoria Cross with Marty Kavanagh, Honorary Consul of Ireland Western Australia along with the Australian Army Museum of Western Australia’s Manager, Major Henry Fijolek (left) and Mrs Leith Landauer during the official ceremony of the loaning Sergeant Martin O’Meara's Victoria Cross to Ireland at the Australian Army Museum of Western Australia in Fremantle.

Just four years after arriving in Australia in 1912, O’Meara joined the Australian Imperial Force on the Western Front.

O’Meara faced a barrage of German artillery and machine gun fire while he retrieved his wounded fellow soldiers from No Man’s Land over a four day period during the Battle of the Somme, his bravery rewarded with the Victoria Cross.

Read More: War hero’s Victoria Cross to be displayed in Ireland

The medal, awarded by King George V at Buckingham Palace in 1917, has been housed at the Army Museum of Western Australia.

O’Meara was promoted to the rank of Sergeant before returning to Australia in 1918, spending much of the rest of his life in mental hospitals haunted by what he had seen during the war.

Martin O’Meara was congratulated by fellow wounded patients following the announcement of his Victoria Cross. Photo: Australian War Memorial.

Martin O’Meara was congratulated by fellow wounded patients following the announcement of his Victoria Cross. Photo: Australian War Memorial.

He was celebrated as a hero during a visit to Ireland when the residents of his hometown of Lorrha raised funds to recognise his courage.

In yet another display of his character, O’Meara donated the funds towards the town’s historic Abbey.

More than 80 years after his death, the returned soldier will once again be honoured in his home-country when the symbol of his service and gallantry goes on display.

Ireland changes visa rules for de facto partners

The Irish government has launched a new ‘pre-clearance process’ which they say will make it easier for Irish emigrants to return home with their non-EEA de facto partners.

The changes, which impact directly on Irish emigrants returning to Ireland from Australia, has been welcomed by migration advocates but some concerns remain about timing issues and possible processing delays.

The new pre-clearance system introduces for the first time the possibility to apply for a visa to enter Ireland as a non-EEA partner from a non-visa required country (such as Australia) in advance of travelling to Ireland.

Until now, these partners would have applied for immigration permission on arrival in Ireland and would wait for up to six months for a decision before they would be allowed to work.

This had been widely deemed by Irish citizens as a deterrent from returning to Ireland with their non-EEA partners from countries like Australia, Canada and the USA.

Comment: Emigrants should be the main focus of diaspora policy

This change has been lobbied for by many stakeholders, including Crosscare Migrant Project in Ireland, who provide information and advocacy to many Irish migrants inquiring about the de facto rules.

Under the new rules de facto partners from both visa and non-visa required countries must apply for a de facto visa in advance of travelling and have received a pre-clearance permission letter if they wish to stay for longer than 90 days and work in Ireland.

The new system does not seem to offer any option to arrive and then apply.

Crosscare policy officer Danielle McLaughlin said: “In general we think this will be fine, but for emergency returns (such as coming home to care for a loved one, or if someone is deported) it could cause problems. We hope that discretion will be applied in emergency cases, for either very quick processing or to allow people enter Ireland with their Irish partner and then apply.”

The new system has no impact on the system for spouses or civil partners. They can continue to travel to Ireland and get permission on arrival subject to normal Irish visa rules.

All applications will be processed by the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service (INIS) in Dublin.

Embassies will only continue to play a role in accepting visa applications, but these too are processed in Dublin or in an INIS visa office.

Irish Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan believes the new rules will encourage more emigrants to return to Ireland.

Irish Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan believes the new rules will encourage more emigrants to return to Ireland.

Crosscare’s Project Officer Richard King, writing in The Irish Times, welcomed the new scheme but cautioned that inefficient processing times could cause frustration for applicants.

“The success of the pre-clearance system will in a large part come down to the efficiency of the processing,” he wrote. “A long delay or uncertain processing times could have a huge impact on those returning. For example, couples with children need the assurance of being able to get a response in time to put everything else in motion and get back before the school year starts.”

Ireland’s Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said he hoped the new system “will encourage more people to come home”.

“In recent times, many of our young and our most highly educated citizens have emigrated,”he said.

“They may have wanted to further their careers, make more money, or simply to experience the wider world. While away, some have met life partners and perhaps even started their own families. We want to show these people that Ireland is ready to welcome them home and that we will provide a clear immigration and labour market pathway for their de facto partners.

“By allowing people to obtain preclearance before they arrive we can speed up the process and provide certainty about being able to access the labour market on arrival, once registered with INIS. In the past this could have taken up to a year, which is a long time when you are trying to build a new life in a new country”.

Full details and further information on the revised arrangements, including the criteria for obtaining preclearance, are set-out in the INIS website www.inis.gov.ie

 


Schmidt elevates Leinster playmaker for England clash

Joe Schmidt has backed rookie playmaker Ross Byrne to seize his World Cup chance in Saturday's clash with England at Twickenham.

The game can be seen live on BeIn Sports from 11.30pm AEDT on Saturday.

Leinster star Byrne will make his full Test debut and win just his third cap this weekend, with Ireland not risking Johnny Sexton after Joey Carbery's ankle injury.

Carbery could well miss the World Cup after damaging ankle ligaments in the 29-10 victory over Italy in Dublin on August 10.

Byrne and replacement Jack Carty can now make their case for World Cup selection at Twickenham, with head coach Schmidt assessing all his fly-half options.

"Ross has trained really well and it's not his debut, he's had time with us before, so we've got a lot of confidence in him anyway and I think he built his way through the season," said Schmidt.

Joe Schmidt has selected a strong team to face England at Twickenham.

Joe Schmidt has selected a strong team to face England at Twickenham.

"I thought he was maybe not as impressive as Jack early in the season, and I think those two have become really important to us.

"Joey has done well this week. Johnny, he's fine, but he missed a bit of time with his thumb, so he's a little bit behind and we know how well he plays for us. We don't feel that he needs a lot of time with the experience that he's got.

"So, for us, the guys that need the time are probably Ross and Jack and they've got the opportunity to do that this weekend, that they'll share a bit of time, I'd say, in the middle."

Frontline fly-half Sexton has been recovering from a thumb sprain, and Carbery's ankle injury has whittled down Ireland's playmaking options for their World Cup warm-up encounters.

Schmidt admitted Byrne and Carty's stock has risen markedly in the wake of Carbery's ankle blow.

"They were always really important because it is such a specialist position, but they probably wouldn't have had this opportunity as much," said Schmidt.

"Joey, especially on the back of his 50 minutes against Italy, I thought he was as good as I've seen him. "I thought he controlled the game really well. He's always a threat individually running and carrying the ball, but I just thought his control of the game was very, very good.

"So, for him, the frustration is not being able to get that opportunity to continue that. It's probably a frustration for us as well, but it's somebody else's opportunity and I know that Ross has trained well this week and is very, very motivated to do the job for us on Saturday."

Joe Carbery is ferried from the field in tears after injuring his ankle in the World Cup warm-up clash with Italy in Dublin.

Joe Carbery is ferried from the field in tears after injuring his ankle in the World Cup warm-up clash with Italy in Dublin.

Asked if Byrne is a more direct replacement for Sexton in style terms, Schmidt continued: "A little bit, that's probably a fair observation.

"I think Ross' ability to control the game, it's one of the things that was defining between Joey and him at Leinster, probably in that Ross ran the game and Joey ran really well individually. But I think it's also something that comes with a rhythm and game time.

"Jack, whenever he came off the bench for us in the Six Nations, I thought he did a super job. "So we have a lot of confidence in Jack being able to control the game and we do think he can bring a bit of a change up off the bench. "Either way, I think they'll both get a bit of game time on Saturday to demonstrate what they can bring to the game."

IRELAND TEAM TO FACE ENGLAND: R Kearney, J Larmour, G Ringrose (all Leinster), B Aki (Connacht), J Stockdale (Ulster), R Byrne (Leinster), C Murray (Munster), C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster, capt), T Furlong (Leinster), I Henderson (Ulster), J Kleyn, P O'Mahony (both Munster), J Van Der Flier (Leinster), CJ Stander (Munster). Replacements: S Cronin (Leinster), J McGrath (Ulster), A Porter, D Toner (both Leinster), T Beirne (Munster), L McGrath (Leinster), J Carty (Connacht), A Conway (Munster).

Irish dad's ashes found after baggage blunder

Losing a piece of luggage is very stressful for international travellers but when that case contains the ashes of a beloved relative, the pain is acute.

This is what happened to the Gilmour family from Tasmania enroute to Ireland last week.

Bob Gilmour (63) and his family had travelled from Australia with the remains of his parents to fulfil their wishes of being laid to rest in their Irish and English birthplaces.

But when they landed in Dublin last Saturday off a flight from Italy, Mr Gilmour made the grim discovery that his luggage, and the ashes, were nowhere to be found.

However, after a scramble by Aer Lingus staff to locate the bags they were finally found on Tuesday at Milan’s Malpensa Airport where they had been forgotten by baggage handlers.

Mr Gilmour told The Irish Times a massive weight had been lifted from his shoulders.

“It feels great,” he said of the prospect of being able to scatter his father’s ashes over his grandparents’ grave in his hometown of Ballymena, Co Antrim.

The luggage containing Sam Gilmour’s ashes were discovered at Milan’s Malpensa Airport.

The luggage containing Sam Gilmour’s ashes were discovered at Milan’s Malpensa Airport.

“I know it’s what he wanted. I am sure he will be at peace knowing that he is at home with his mum and dad.”

Bob’s late father Sam Gilmour met his wife Marjorie, who was from Birmingham, while serving in the Royal Air Force during the second World War. They later married and in 1967 emigrated with their 11-year-old son Bob to Australia.

Before their deaths, the couple said they wanted to have their remains brought back to their respective home countries and scattered on family graves. So when Bob Gilmour’s youngest daughter was offered the opportunity to train at a ballet school in Italy the family seized the opportunity.

“Honestly my dad would be laughing his head off,” he said of the drama.

An Aer Lingus spokesman said the airline was very sorry over the blunder.

“We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused,” the spokesman said.

Most airlines, including Aer Lingus, permit passengers to carry ashes contained in an urn as either checked or cabin baggage.

“The undertaker or funeral director must ensure that the urn is secured in a padded, leak-proof container that is not made of metal, as it must pass through an X-ray machine,” the Aer Lingus website says.

“The urn is then part of your normal baggage allowance. You must be in possession of a death certificate and cremation certificate to be allowed carry ashes on board.”

Adare Manor to host 2026 Ryder Cup

Ireland has ridden the crest of The Open wave to host the Ryder Cup for the first time in 20 years.

Ryder Cup bosses have admitted the overwhelming success of the major's return to Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland last week tipped the scales for Adare Manor to stage the biennial challenge in 2026.

The Government of Ireland agreed a deal with Ryder Cup chiefs for the Limerick course to become Ireland's first host venue since the K Club in 2006.

European Ryder Cup director Guy Kinnings admitted there were precious few hesitations in selecting Adare Manor.

"This is a world-class venue, both in terms of the golf course and the wider resort facilities," said Kinnings.

"Months of careful negotiation behind the scenes have seen us arrive at this point and we could not be happier to be able to take golf's greatest team contest back to Ireland.

Adare Manor owner JP McManus (right) and general manager Colm Hannon.

Adare Manor owner JP McManus (right) and general manager Colm Hannon.

"Equally in receipt of our appreciation are Adare Manor owners JP and Noreen McManus and their entire team at the magnificent County Limerick venue. JP has shown unwavering support for golf and the European Tour over many years and we are delighted that Adare Manor will be the venue to showcase the next chapter in Ireland's Ryder Cup story in seven years' time.

"Aside from having provided three captains over the past four editions, in addition to world-class talent such as Rory McIlroy, Irish players such as the late Christy O'Connor Jnr, Philip Walton, Eamonn Darcy, Graeme McDowell and Paul McGinley are intrinsically linked with providing Europe's winning moments over the years.

"Added to that the fact that Irish golf fans are rightly recognised as some of the most knowledgeable and passionate in the world, as was shown during Shane Lowry's emotional Open Championship triumph at Royal Portrush on Sunday, there was no question in our minds that the time was right."

Northern Ireland's Royal Portrush last week hosted The Open for the first time in 68 years, and the tournament's overwhelming success has handed the island of Ireland an immediate boost.

The Adare Manor resort was revamped in 2014 at a cost of €70 million.

The Adare Manor resort was revamped in 2014 at a cost of €70 million.

That feel-good factor was hoisted by home favourite Shane Lowry sweeping his maiden major title, and now Irish golf has received another shot in the arm.

Irish racehorse owner JP McManus bought Adare Manor in December 2014, and revamped the entire resort at a cost of a reported €70 million.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar hailed both a sporting and economic boost for Ireland.

"I am delighted that Ireland will be the host of The Ryder Cup in 2026," said Varadkar.

"It is great news for Ireland, and for County Limerick and the west of Ireland in particular. This news comes at the end of an historic week for golf on the island of Ireland, following the hugely successful hosting of the Open Championship by Royal Portrush Golf Club, and the historic victory by one of Ireland's most popular sporting heroes, Shane Lowry.

"Shane's victory is one of many great achievements by Irish golfers, not just in Major Championships but also in The Ryder Cup. Over the years, Irish captains and Irish players have played a huge role in the success of the European team.

"I am sure that when The Ryder Cup comes to Adare, we will see many more great sporting memories created, and great sporting friendships forged.

"It will be a fantastic occasion for everyone on the island of Ireland, and for the many visitors from both sides of the Atlantic who can look forward to another great Irish welcome."

Cool Irish reaction to Boris Johnson's victory

There has been mixed reaction from Ireland's politicians as Boris Johnson was announced as Britain’s new Conservative Party leader.

There has been widespread concern among some Irish politicians over how Mr Johnson's leadership will affect Ireland and the situation regarding the Irish border and Brexit.

Mr Johnson, who will become Britain’s Prime Minister later today, has recently compared solving the border issue with the moon landing, and in a BBC interview in 2018 compared it with the border between Camden and Westminster in London.

Government politicians were quick to welcome the new prime minister in waiting, making it clear they were happy to work with Mr Johnson, but Brexit remained the key priority in each message.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar posted on social media: "Congratulations to Boris Johnson on his election as party leader. Look forward to an early engagement on Brexit, Northern Ireland and bilateral relations."

Tánaiste Simon Coveney and British Prime Minister-elect Boris Johnson pictured in Dublin in 2017. Picture: Brian Lawless

Tánaiste Simon Coveney and British Prime Minister-elect Boris Johnson pictured in Dublin in 2017. Picture: Brian Lawless

Later, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, first retweeted Michel Barnier, the EU's chief negotiator, who had written about reworking "the agreed Declaration on a new partnership in line with #EUCO guidelines", before writing his own post.

"Congratulations to Boris Johnson on becoming leader of the UK Conservative Party - we will work constructively with him and his Govt to maintain and strengthen British/Irish relations through the challenges of Brexit," Mr Coveney said.

However, opposition politicians took a different stance.

Sinn Féin Brexit spokesman David Cullinane says it came as no surprise that Boris Johnson will become prime minister, but called on the Irish Government to hold steadfast in Brexit negotiations.

"We'd be very concerned that Boris is not going to make any serious effort to reach any kind of accommodation with the European Union," he said.

"He seems to believe the Irish government and the European Commission is going to blink on these matters, I don't think there's any appetite for any changes to the Withdrawal Agreement, but it remains to be seen what will happen.

"The chances of a no-deal Brexit have been increasing, because it was quite obvious that while there is no appetite in the House of Commons for no deal, there's no sense what they're in favour of," Mr Cullinane added.

"Boris has been talking up a hard crash, in some respects encouraging a hard crash, that would be a disaster for Britain, a disaster for Ireland, I don't see any good in that for anybody, but again - that's outside our control, what we can do is that we hold the Irish government to account and they hold firm."

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett has said that the elevation of Boris Johnson to leader of the Tory Party and thus prime minister of the United Kingdom presents a "clear and present danger to Ireland" and "brings the prospect of no-deal and the imposition of a north-south border much closer".

He called Mr Johnson a "genuine danger" because of his "callous disregard for the impact of no-deal on Ireland, his allegiance to Donald Trump, his disgraceful comments about UK soldiers' actions on Bloody Sunday and his extreme right-wing views on just about every issue".

He added that Mr Coveney needed to tell Boris Johnson "in the clearest possible terms that a hard border between the north and south of this country is simply not an option".

Likewise, Irish Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin said: "With 100 days until Brexit, it is time now for all politicians in Ireland to hold our nerve and be steadfast in defending our vital interests."

Sexting nurse's behaviour leads to Irish sanction

A nurse who texted a picture of his penis to a patient while working in Australia six years ago, has had his Irish registration suspended for a year.

While on night duty at Concord Hospital in Sydney in 2013, nurse Edward Keegan sent an explicit photograph to his partner.

Mr Keegan then left his personal mobile phone on the desk – and the photo of his penis on the screen – while he answered a call on the hospital ward phone.

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A drug and alcohol detox patient saw the photograph and, according to evidence given to the Administrative Appeals by Mr Keegan last year, began to pressure him into sharing the image.

Mr Keegan said the patient demanded he make contact after discharge in September 2013 because he wanted to see what was in the photograph "for real".

Concord Hospital where Mr Keegan worked as a nurse in 2013.

Concord Hospital where Mr Keegan worked as a nurse in 2013.

The experienced nurse said the patient left several threatening messages on his mobile phone, so he sent a text asking to be left alone, along with the explicit photograph, the Civil and Administrative Tribunal heard.

In January 2018, the tribunal disqualified Mr Keegan for two years, and would have cancelled his registration if it was still current, finding he failed to observe professional boundaries, according to a report in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Mr Keegan resigned from his position after the incident came to light in 2015, and moved back to Ireland.

Earlier this week, the president of Ireland’s High Court, Mr Justice Peter Kelly, confirmed sanctions sought by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) against Mr Keegan of Donacarney, Co Meath, who is on the Irish general nursing register.

The judge made orders suspending Mr Keegan's registration for a year, according to a report in the Irish Examiner.

A Fitness to Practice Committee of the NMBI held an inquiry after the Nursing and Midwifery Council of New South Wales notified the NMBI in 2016 that Mr Keegan's registration had been suspended there following allegations of "inappropriate contact" with a patient on dates in September 2013.

In his ruling, Mr Justice Kelly said he saw no reason not to confirm the proposed sanction.

Fare war delivers amazing flight deals to Ireland

Airlines are offering amazing flight deals to Ireland with return fares as low as $1039 on offer.

A fare war has broken out between carriers flying one-stop into Dublin from Australia’s major cities resulting in record low fares.

While an economy trip to Ireland at peak periods like Christmas can often cost close to $3,000, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Cathay Pacific are all promoting return fares under $1500 if people are prepared to fly between September and November or between January and May.

Flights to Dublin airport from Australia have never been cheaper.

Flights to Dublin airport from Australia have never been cheaper.

Until July 22, booking return flights from Perth to Dublin will set travellers back as little as $1,029* when flying with two or more people on Qatar Airways.

The Doha-based carrier is offering similar deals from Sydney ($1059), Melbourne ($1039), Adelaide ($1029) and Canberra ($1079).

To take advantage of the See the World Together offer, travellers need to book on select dates between September 21, 2019 and March 31, 2020, excluding the busy November to December Christmas period.

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Cathay Pacific, the most recent carrier to offer a one-stop option into Dublin, also has a Global Sale on until the end of July.

Travellers can fly to Dublin return for as little as $1210** from Perth. The Hong Kong-based carrier is also offering great return economy fares from Sydney ($1326), Melbourne ($1310) and Brisbane ($1332). Some exclusion dates apply and travel must be completed by the end of May, 2020.

Etihad, meanwhile, is offering great return deals into Dublin from Melbourne ($1294***), Sydney ($1322) and Brisbane ($1477). Bookings must be made by July 26 and travel must be completed by May 31, 2020. Once again, exclusion dates and some terms and conditions apply.

*Qatar Terms and Conditions: Offer valid until 22 July 2019, unless sold out prior. Fares (AUD) quoted above are the lowest adult return prices per person including taxes, fees, and airport charges departing from the mentioned cities to Dublin when booked with one or more companions. Other sale dates may be available. ‘Companion’ refers to a minimum of two (2) and maximum of nine (9) people travelling together on the same booking for the entire journey. Economy Class companion fares shown above are for departures from 21 September - 22 November 2019, 23 December - 31 December 2019, and 12 January - 31 March 2020. Business Class companion fares shown above are for departures from 1 October - 30 November 2019, 23 December - 31 December 2019, and 1 February - 31 March 2020. Inbound blackout dates apply: in Economy Class between 25 September - 15 October 2019, 12 December - 22 December 2019, and 1 January - 26 January 2020; in Business Class between 15 September - 31 October 2019 and 10 December 2019 - 31 January 2020. All travel must be completed by 31 March 2020. Fares may vary due to currency fluctuations. Seasonal surcharges, weekend surcharges, and blackout periods may apply. For all other terms and conditions please review at time of booking.

** Cathay Pacific Terms and Conditions: Offer ends: 31 JUL 2019 23:59 (AEST) Departures: UK & Europe: 11 JUL 2019 – 26 JUN 2019; 8 JUL 2019 – 12 Dec 2019; 28 Dec 2019 – 31 MAY 2020. Prices displayed are based on the lowest fare available for travel in low season. Prices are inclusive of all taxes and surcharges, current as at 12 Jul 19. Seats are limited and availability may vary based on flight number, departure date and airport.

***Etihad Terms and Conditions: Discounts only valid for bookings until 26 Jul 2019, for travel until 31 May 2020. Fares are inclusive of applicable taxes, the break down will be shown during the online booking process. Weekend surcharges apply. Flight/day restriction and blackout periods may apply. The airport taxes are subject to change without prior notice and will be confirmed at the time of booking. For full list of destinations and detailed terms & conditions, visit etihad.com .

Would-be Irish citizens cannot leave the country, court rules

Legal experts have described as ‘absurd’ a High Court ruling which says that a person applying for Irish citizenship must not leave the country for an entire year before lodging their application.

The ruling came during a case in which an Australian man, Roderick Jones, challenged the Justice Minister’s refusal to grant his application to become a naturalised Irish citizen.

During the one year period before the date of the application, Mr Jones, who works in the university sector in Dublin, was out of Ireland for 100 days, 97 of them for holidays, RTE reported.

In order to apply for Irish citizenship, a judge has ruled that applicants must not leave the country for twelve months beforehand.

In order to apply for Irish citizenship, a judge has ruled that applicants must not leave the country for twelve months beforehand.

In previous cases, the Minister for Justice had allowed applicants to spend time out of the country for holidays and other reasons but Mr Justice Max Barrett ruled that this discretionary practice was not permitted by law.

The judge said that "might seem unfair" in a world where many people travel abroad for work and take foreign breaks more than once a year, but he said, that is what the relevant law requires.

He said the cure "for any such unfairness" lay in the gift of the legislature.

Under the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956, those wishing to ‘naturalise’ as Irish citizens have to be legally resident in the State for at least five years out of the last nine (or three out of the last five if married to an Irish citizen).

This includes one year of “continuous residence” in the 12 months up to the date of application.

The judge said the word "continuous" bore its ordinary meaning and was defined as "unbroken, uninterrupted, connected throughout in space or time".

Justice Max Barrett has conceded that his judgement ‘may seem unfair’.

Justice Max Barrett has conceded that his judgement ‘may seem unfair’.

The judge said the law did not allow the Minister any discretion in relation to this requirement. 

He said the minister had manifested "very real humanity" in trying to nuance the very clear wording of the legislation by applying a discretionary absence period to allow for the realities of modern life, but he had gone beyond what was legally permissible.

The judge said there was no evidence before him as to why the Oireachtas had imposed this condition in the 1956 Act.

He said it may have been to ensure potential citizens enjoyed a concrete connection with the State or were attuned to the way of life in Ireland or some other reason. 

The cure for any resulting unfairness was not to be found in the courts he said, but lay in the gift of the legislature.

Over 8,000 people were granted Irish citizenship in 2017 alone, according to European Union data.

According to The Journal.ie, Ireland’s Department of Justice said they were examining the ruling and “will take any necessary action in consultation with the Attorney General”.

The plantiff Roderick Jones has been contacted for comment.

CurrencyFair offers €30,000 prize for returning emigrant

Thinking of moving home to Ireland?

Money transfer platform CurrencyFair is offering one lucky emigrant a relocation package valued at €30,000.

The prize includes a year of rental accommodation, flights and car insurance.

To enter, Irish emigrants are invited to visitwww.currencyfair.com/comehome to tell CurrencyFair what home means to them and why the time is right to return to Ireland by sharing stories, photos and videos.

Entries for the contest close on August 31, 2019, and one deserving winner will be chosen by a panel of three independent judges.

“There are about three-and-a-half million Irish citizens currently living outside of Ireland. When you think about why they might like to come back, it boils down to a single common reason: Ireland is home,” said Jarlath Regan, creator and host of An Irishman Abroad podcast and CurrencyFair brand ambassador.

CurrencyFair’s Come Home prize will allow one returning emigrant to make a fresh start in Ireland.

CurrencyFair’s Come Home prize will allow one returning emigrant to make a fresh start in Ireland.

“The chance to win a contest like this could be life changing for someone simply wanting to come back to Ireland.”

“We know that moving to a new country — including returning to your home country — can be complicated, which is why we work so hard to ensure that moving money with us is simple, fast and safe,” said CurrencyFair CEO, Paul Byrne.

“Ireland is thriving again and it’s an exciting place to live right now, but it’s not without its challenges for returning emigrants. Our contest will help someone hit the ground running and make a fresh start at home.”

CurrencyFair has always prioritized making money transfers simple and fair, by combining the latest foreign exchange technology with 5-star, ‘excellent’ Trustpilot-rated customer service and processes that are easy to understand and use.

For each contest entry, CurrencyFair will make a €10 donation to Focus Ireland, the country’s leading not-for-profit working to prevent people becoming, remaining or returning to homelessness.

Over the past decade, CurrencyFair has helped Irish nationals move abroad by providing low-cost money transfers without compromise through its money transfer platform.

The company is focused on providing the best available exchange rates and experience for customers who need to send money and make payments overseas.

CurrencyFair’s 150,000-strong user-community have traded more than €8 billion and saved more than $366 million using the service.

Its unique peer-to-peer model and secure, state-of-the-art technology, raises the industry standard in foreign currency services for web, IOS and Android use.

The company has offices in Ireland, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia, and announced plans to expand further across Asia in 2019.