JUDGE REFUSES REPORTING RESTRICTIONS IN RAPE CASE

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A JUDGE has refused to aapply reporting restrictions in the case of a Dungannon man accused of sexually assaulting two women, one of whom he is alleged to have raped. Appearing before Dungannon Magistrates Court was Odhran McCluskey (20) of Glebe Park, who is charged with four sexual offences two against each alleged victim on March 31 2012. A police officer told the court she believed she could connect McCluskey to all charges. Defence solicitor Aidan Quinn applied to have his client’s name and address withheld, claiming it would be detrimental to his health. But Deputy District Judge John Rice replied : ” That doesn’t apply in this case.” A prosecution layer said she knew of no reason why Mr McCluskey could not be named as he is not related to either alleged victim. Mr Quinn asked for interim reporting restrictions whilst he obtained additional evidence which may support his client. Judge Rice again rejected the application stating : “It won’t affect my decision on this case.” Mr McCluskey was remanded on £250 bail and ordered to have no contact with either victim. The case is due back in court next month.

With many thanks to : Irish News.

COUNCILLORS’ GOLDEN HANDSHAKE RAISED TO £35k DESPITE PLEDGE

Cost of local government reform payments expected to be more than £4 million overall

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THE golden hhandshake being offered to councillors who resign their seats ahead of planned local government reform has risen by £5,000 – despite assurances from Alex Atwood that it would not increase. The environment minister last year proposed capping the lump sum payment for long-serving councillors at £30,000.

He said he would even consider the payment being lower. However, in fresh proposals published yesterday it emerged that the figure had in fact increased to £35,000. While the Storming legislation streamlining the North’s local government structures has yet to be passed, it is hoped to reduce the region’s 26 local authorities to 11. The first eelections for the enlarged council areas are expected to take place next year alongside the European elections. It will mean 120 fewer council seats. Ahead of the poll, councillors wishing to retire and avail of the severance payment must tender their resignations. Only councillors who have served a minimum of 12 years will be eligible for a payment, which will be tax-free up to £30,000. The overall  cost of the golden handshakes is expected to be more than £4 million.

“This scheme is designed to recognise the contribution of long-serving councillors who will not be standing for reelection, many of whom have served their communities during periods of political unrest,” the SDLP politation,said. “These councillors have made a significant contribution to the needs of the people in their areas.” In a statement in August, the minister said the severance payment would be “no higher than £30,000″. He wwent further to add that he ” may decide it should be lower”. Responding to queries about the figure had increased by more than 16 per cent, the minister said the reason was “simple”. “I strongly believe – and I think people understand – that those councillors who have served longest, whom worked fearlessly in demanding times for those in need and did so with only small financial recognition deserve recognition as they leave public life,” he said. “I consider a cap of £35k is the right and fair threshold for those who have served so long.” Mr Attword said it had been agreed there will be a bar on the council/MLA double jobbing and that last year he had cut the allowance of assembly members who were also councillors by two-thirds. “Across the range of issues, my approach has been to recognise long service but tackle decisively double jobbing and double incomes,” he said. The public is being invited to comment on the latest proposals in a consultation exercise at the end of May.

With many thanks to : John Manley (political reporter) Irish News.

CIRA ADMITS MURDER OF WEST BELFAST MAN

Dissident group tells former members : We’ll kill you too.

THE Continuity IRA has admitted it shot Korean McManus dead in front of his 16-year-old brother. The dissident group also issued death threats against former members last night. McManus (26) was the first person murdered by the Continuity IRA since 2009 shooting of Constable Stephen Carroll in Craigavon, Co Armagh.

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Using a recognisedcodeword, the group said it killed the father-of-one outside a West Belfast pizza takeaway at about 11.20pm last Saturday. A lone gunman got out of a car and called out the delivery driver’s name before blasting him twice in the back with a shotgun. Mr McManus, originally from Turf Lodge, left West Belfast in 2010 for Crumlin, Co An trim, after a samuria-sword attack in which a man almost lost an arm.The Continuity IRA claimed it killed McManus because he was involved in criminality and “terrorising the community with hatchets, knifes and swords “. The group threatened people with death for using its name for “personal gain”. It is understood those threatened had left the oorganization after internal unrest. Among those named were a former Belfast leader of the organization and a member of a well-known West Belfast family. The threats have led to concerns of a potential feud. The group also said that ” any retaliation against its members would be meet with extreme force”. Mr McManus appeared in court charged in connection with a sword attack in Turf Lodge in February 2010. His mother said the family had been assured by police that he was not under a dissident death threat and it was believed the murder was down to a personal vendetta. She also revealed they had fled West Belfast after their home was attacked and said the victim’s car had been destroyed in an arson attack just five weeks ago. Speaking to The Irish NewsSally McManus described the shooting as “cowardly”. “To shoot someone in the back is such a cowardly act. I would like to come face to face with the person who murdered my son,” she said. Mr McManus was a father to a five-year-old son, also called Kieran, was buried on Thursday following Requiem Mass at Holy Trinty Church in West Belfast. Speaking at the funeral, Fr Brendan Smyth called for there to be no retalation. “Revenge or retribution is a nasty word and a road that will lead to added heartache,” he said. “For those of you who may contemplate such a road I beg you don’t.” A 34-year-old man who handed himself in to police earlier this week for questioning about the latest shooting was released without charge on Thursday.

Death threats made to former members

THE Continuity IRA has threatened to kill a number of former members of the organization. The dissident group claims the men have been using the CIRA’s name for “personal gain “.

Using a recognised codeword, the organization’s so-called Northern Command last night named a number of individuals who split from it following unrest. The sinister threats have led to concerns of a potential feud. Among those under death threat from the CIRA are a former Belfast leader of the organization who parted ways with it last year. A member of a well-known West Belfast family who had a relative murdered by loyalist paramilitaries is also under threat from the organization, along with an associate who was arrested for extorting money from an alleged drug dealer. A Dublin member of the CIRA who was part of a major split is also under death threat from the group. The CIRA has been involved in a number of splits in recent years with people from Limerick and Belfast leaving the main organization in 2011 amid accusations of criminality among some members.

Six quizzed after suspect object found

POLICE were questioning five men and a women last night after a ssuspicious object was discovered in Co Atrim. British army bomb-disposal experts examined the object, found in the Barn field Road area of Lisburn. The object was discovered after police arrested two men in Lisburn and three men and a women in Dunmurry. The Barn field Road was closed for several hours but reopened at about 6pm yesterday.

With many tthanks to : Allison Morris, Irish News.

MINISTER REMOVED FROM TWO CHURCHES

A FORMER senior Ongeman has been removed as minister of two Presbyterian churches. The Reverend Stephen Dickinson, who was minister of Cairnalbana and Glenarm in Co Atrim, was formally removed last week.

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In a highly unusaul move, all of Cairnalbana’s church elders were also removed.

Mr Dickinson is a former deputy grand master and grand chaplain of the Orange Order. He left the organization in 2011, claiming it had ” betrayed its roots “. Two years earlier, he had set up the hard line independent group ‘ Orange Reformation ‘, which campaigned to ” put Protestantiim back into Orangeism “. A spokesman for the PPresbyterian Church said Rev Dickinson, was still an ordained Presbyterian minister. Rev Dickinson can remain in the manse for a time and will receive his church salary for the next 18 months. In a statement, the Presbyterian Church said : ” Ongoing disputes and the breaking down of good relationships in Cairnalbana congregation over several years have caused much annoyance, sadness and upset for all involved. ” Since the Kirk Session first asked for assistance in the autumn 2009 the Presbyterian Church in Ireland has made every effort to restore those good relationships.” The Church’s most senior body, the judicial commission, found that relationships between Rev Dickinson, the elders and congregation had not improved since 2009. The commission decided that because of poor relations within the church, Mr Dickinson could not properly perform his duties as a minister.

With many thanks to : Claire Simpson,Irish News.

CHIEF CONSTABLE STAYS SILENT ABOUT OFFICERS SUING VICTIMS !

” The public expression of disapproval by the chief constable of Norfolk is a useful benchmark ” – Alban Maginness.

CHIEF Constable Matt Baggott remained silent on Tuesday in the face of appeals to fellow police cchief who branded an officer threatening to sue a victim of a crime ” disappointment “. Norfolk Chief Constable Phil Gormley said the actions of PC Kelly Jones had undermined the public’s trust in police.

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She began legal proceedings against a petrol station owner after tripping over a kerb when responding to a burglary report. The high-profile case comes a week after it emerged PSNI/RUCofficers injured when chasing car thrives in North Belfast were suing owners of the stolen vehicles for damages. The civil claims, for injuries suffered when stopping the cars, were made against car owners even though they were not involved in the thefts or crashes. Despite the injuries happening while on duty, the PSNI/RUC has continued to insist that they were a ” private matter ” for officers.

This was not the attitude taken by Mr Gormley who criticised his own officer and stressed she did not represent the attitude of the ” vast majority “. “It is a dissappointment to us and I do understand why it has caused such a public reaction,” he said. “In 27 and a half years in the service, this is the first time I have ever personally come across a set of circumstances like that. “The vast majority of officers perform their work brilliantly well, they are aware of the risks, and in fact many people are attracted by the risk and the variety of a police career. “It is surprising and disappointing, I think, for the majority of our staff that an incident like this has undermined confidence in how we do our job.” PC Jones is reported to have since abandoned the claim after talks between senior officers and her Police Federation representatives.

SDLP justice spokesman Alban Maginness, who has constituents amoung those being sued in Belfast, said Mr Baggott, pictured above, or his deputies should follow suit. “I think that the PSNI/RUC at a senior level should reflect carefully on the veiws expressed by the chief constable of Norfolk and whether in fact the PSNI/RUC should be taking this as a matter of public policy rather simply leaving it up to private litigation between officers and victims of crime,” he said.”The public expression of disapproval by the chief constable of Norfolk is a useful benchmark for the PSNI/RUC here on what council should be given to officers.” However, the PSNI/RUC said on Tuesday Mr Baggott ” won’t be putting out a generalised quote about police suing”. Instead it repeated the service’s stated position that it “would not hold any information in relation to police officers making  a compensation claim against the owner of a stolen vehicle”.'”Each incident would very much depend on the individual circumstances and the insurance arrangements in place,” it said.”Therefore this would be a private matter between the iindividual officer, like any other citizen, and the insurance company involved. Such information is not recorded or required by police.”

With many thanks to : Bimpe Archer, Irish News.