Monday, March 21, 2016

When Irish Eyes Aren't Smiling....

Is it because I skipped the parade?

"Parents sue nanny for wrongful death" by Patricia Wen Globe Staff  February 11, 2016

The parents of a 1-year-old Cambridge girl who died in 2013 after sudden catastrophic brain swelling and bleeding filed a wrongful death suit Thursday against the child’s nanny, five months after prosecutors dropped murder charges against her.

In the lawsuit filed in Middlesex County Superior Court, the couple maintain that Aisling Brady McCarthy, who has since returned to her native Ireland, is responsible for the death of their first-born child, Rehma Sabir, due to her “negligent, malicious, willful, wanton, reckless and/or grossly negligent acts.”

The parents told the Globe that their main motivation in filing the case is to ensure that the nanny does not make money off their child’s death, through such ventures as book deals or movie contracts. The couple, Sameer Sabir and Nada Siddiqui, said this lawsuit is their only legal mechanism to accomplish this.

“Sameer and I want to emphasize that our purpose in filing this suit is to prevent Aisling McCarthy from profiting from our daughter’s death,” said the child’s mother, Siddiqui, in a brief telephone interview. “We lost our beautiful little girl in very difficult circumstances, and feel compelled to bring this suit to protect her memory.”


And all this time their privacy was protected by Globe!

The mother’s words – and the lawsuit – represent the couple’s first major public statements about the case since their daughter died two days after being rushed to the emergency room at Boston Children’s Hospital on Jan. 14, 2013. The couple, who have had two sons since Rehma died, said they wish to remain out of the public spotlight. Siddiqui declined to elaborate further on the lawsuit, saying, “We respectfully request privacy and we defer any questions to our attorney.”


In a case that drew international attention, the charges against McCarthy were dropped in late August after the medical examiner in the case, citing additional medical evidence from the defense, changed the cause of Rehma’s death from a homicide to “undetermined.” Murder was not ruled out completely as a possible cause, but Middlesex County prosecutors said the medical examiner’s new views made it unlikely they could prove murder charges beyond a reasonable doubt.​​​

One of McCarthy’s attorneys in the criminal case, Melinda Thompson, said Thursday that the lawsuit is “shocking and disturbing” and that the parents are “compounding the tragedy” of the girl’s death by filing this lawsuit against their former nanny who is trying to rebuild her life in Ireland.

“To sue someone for money, for someone who is literally trying to get back on her feet, it’s shocking,” said Thompson.

That's what I'd expect from Saudi $cum.

Thompson reiterated the defense view that medical evidence showed Rehma may have had pre-existing medical issues contributing to her death, and that McCarthy is not responsible. Thompson described McCarthy as being “exonerated” for the crimes.

Oh, who cares about scientific evidence, etc?

She acknowledged having some confidential negotiations related to this civil case with the couple’s lawyer as far back as December, though it was not with the couple’s current attorney, Jonathan Friedmann, who is with the Boston law firm Rudolph Friedmann. She would not say what the discussions were about.

Friedmann said the couple has maintained that they would drop the lawsuit if McCarthy signed an agreement not to profit from Rehma’s death, and would not even insist that she sign an admission of culpability.

Friedmann said the couple went exhaustively through all the evidence, as well as the defense’s reports, and concluded that the medical examiner had it right the first time – that Rehma was the victim of abusive head trauma, often known as shaken-baby syndrome. It is a diagnosis typically associated with blunt force trauma or excessive shaking, often by caregivers frustrated with a crying infant or toddler.

“We believe not only that she was negligent but that she was liable for the death,’’ said Friedmann.

Friedmann emphasized the couple is not focused on gaining money, but having a way to prevent McCarthy, who had been Rehma’s nanny for about six months, from profiting from Rehma’s death. The lawsuit refers to the couple seeking at least $25,000 in damages, the minimum amount that must be sought by plaintiffs to file a wrongful death case in Superior Court.

“There is reason for us to be concerned that the defendant intends to profit from the baby’s death while professing publicly to be grieving over it,” Friedmann said.

Wrongful death cases in Massachusetts have to be filed within three years of the death, which would have established Jan. 16, 2016 as the deadline for filing this lawsuit. This case comes about a month after that, but Friedmann said the lawsuit was filed in a “timely manner” because the two sides had agreed on an extension of the statute of limitations.

The case, which is filed by Rehma’s father, who is acting as the personal representative of his daughter’s estate, refers to medical records from Children’s Hospital, including MRI and CT scan results that showed traumatic brain injuries. They said that the hospital’s child protection team “diagnosed Rehma as the victim of abusive head trauma, consistent with violent shaking and the violent slamming of Rehma’s rear end on a hard surface.”

“Upon information and belief, after becoming frustrated with Rehma’s crying, McCarthy intentionally slammed Rehma on the changing table and shook her so violently as to cause the traumatic injuries, including brain swelling, skeletal fractures, hemorrhaging, and herniation, that resulted in Rehma’s death,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit said that Rehma appeared normal the morning of Jan. 14, 2013, before her parents left for work. The father works as a life sciences entrepreneur, and the mother was then working at Google. Before the mother left for work around 9:30 a.m., Rehma was eating and playing with toys, and was in the exclusive care of McCarthy for about seven hours prior to her lapsing into unconsciousness.

According to the lawsuit, the child’s grandmother visited in the late afternoon and showed concern that Rehma had been napping for such a long time. When McCarthy attempted to pick up Rehma in the presence of the grandmother, the child was “unresponsive and unconscious.” Soon, Rehma was rushed to the hospital, and within two days was declared brain dead.

Police later also found “signs of violence” in the family’s Harvard Square apartment, including a “chunk of dry wall and plaster” missing near Rehma’s changing table, which was “consistent with forceful impact by the corner of the changing table,” according to the lawsuit. Also, it said DNA testing by state police identified Rehma’s blood on some wipes, towels, a pillowcase, blanket and clothes.

McCarthy, who had been living in the United States illegally since she arrived in 2002 as a visitor, was forced to leave the United States soon after her charges were dropped. She has been back in Ireland, and apparently thinking of initiating litigation herself.

In an interview with the Globe published last month, McCarthy said she is trying to move on with her life, but finding it difficult to find work. She said she intends to use the civil courts to expose what happened to her in her criminal case, and raised the possibility of suing Dr. Alice Newton, the former head of child protection at Boston Children’s Hospital, as well as prosecutors in the case who she says withheld exculpatory evidence.

In the couple’s lawsuit against the nanny, the lawyer said the next step is for them to legally serve her the civil complaint at her location in Ireland. McCarthy’s attorney in the criminal case, Thompson, said she will not accept service on behalf of McCarthy in this wrongful death case.

In a wrongful death suit, a jury has to find that a “preponderance” of evidence points to guilt, not the higher criminal standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

During the pretrial hearings in the criminal case, prosecutors depicted Rehma as a basically healthy energetic child who had no condition making her vulnerable to sudden death. But McCarthy’s defense lawyers had depicted Rehma as struggling with a number of medical conditions, and asserted that some could be life threatening under certain circumstances. Among them, they said, Rehma had been tested at Children’s a month before her death for a bleeding condition called von Willebrand disease, and said the parents had told doctors that Rehma bruised easily.

The lawyer for Rehma’s parents said they hope the civil case will expose the truth and also help clarify “misleading and inaccurate theories that have been bantered about publicly” in this case.

He said one of the issues is about some of Rehma’s old bone fractures, which have been frequently cited by the defense as exculpatory.

In pretrial hearings, the defense repeatedly cited the government’s expert, Dr. Andrew Rosenberg of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, as saying the old fractures likely occurred during a time period – roughly a two-week period in the middle of December 2012, a month before the girl died -- when the child was not being cared for by the nanny, but traveling abroad with her mother, visiting relatives. The defense has pointed to the judge in the case as affirming that understanding of Rosenberg’s report.

However, the lawyer said the defense portrayal of the fractures is inaccurate. In Rosenberg’s most recent report from August, which the Globe confirmed in a separate interview with the expert, he gives a time frame that places the fractures as likely occurring in the first two weeks of December, which includes some days that the child spent with McCarthy, as well as some days traveling with her mother abroad.

In the interview, Rosenberg said the fractures could possibly have occurred in an even wider time frame because dating fractures is an imprecise science.

Thompson, the attorney who had represented the nanny, said Thursday that Rosenberg’s multiple reports over time were confusing, and she is skeptical about why later revisions seemed more favorable to the prosecution.

The medical evidence in the case has been highly contentious. The criminal prosecution fell apart at the end of late August when the medical examiner, Dr. Katherine Lindstrom, who had originally declared that Rehma died of abusive head trauma, said she was no longer sure. She wrote last August about a new possibility that Rehma had “some type of disorder that was not able to be completely diagnosed prior to her death,” and she cites von Williebrand disease. She also said the girl’s death could have been “related to an accidental injury in a child with a bleeding risk or possibly could have been a result of an undefined natural disease.”

​The lawsuit comes at a time when shaken-baby syndrome has become an intense and emotionally-charged national controversy. A number of cases have been reversed, as defense lawyers, supported by some pathologists and medical specialists, say shaken-baby syndrome is often mis-used against innocent individuals. The medical establishment, meanwhile, has pushed back, with the American Academy of Pediatrics speaking out loudly in defense of this child-abuse diagnosis as highly valid when applied appropriately. They say it’s a critical way to identify horrific child abuse and ignoring it risks letting callous killers go free. ​​​​

​ The controversy has intensified in Massachusetts as well. About two months ago, the state’s highest court heard two appeals involving shaken-baby syndrome. The case involving McCarthy was the second time in the past two years that the medical examiner’s office, having once attributed a death to abusive head trauma, later revised their findings to undetermined.


Just picking up some lints for you, dear readers. 

Time to shake things up some more:

"Lawsuit against nanny may force harsh details to surface" by Kevin Cullen Globe Columnist  February 13, 2016

The story of Rehma Sabir, the 1-year-old Cambridge girl who died in mystifying circumstances three years ago, was always sad and tragic. Now it could get messy and uncomfortable.

Last week, the girl’s parents, Nada Siddiqui and Sameer Sabir, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against their former nanny, Aisling Brady McCarthy, five months after Middlesex County prosecutors dropped murder charges against McCarthy.

The charges against McCarthy were dropped after she spent more than two years in jail awaiting trial for a death that the medical examiner said she couldn’t even classify as a crime.

The official cause of death of Rehma Sabir is undetermined, and the medical examiner, Dr. Katherine Lindstrom, said she wasn’t even sure if the baby had died from inflicted trauma.

In bringing a wrongful death suit against McCarthy, Rehma Sabir’s parents are asserting that their child died at McCarthy’s hands, and are putting forth theories and evidence that were put aside or discredited during a series of pre-trial hearings at which McCarthy’s lawyers, Mindy Thompson and David Meier, were able to peel away the prosecution’s case until there was nothing there.

Rehma Sabir’s parents didn’t sit through those hearings. McCarthy’s sister, Sharon, did and doesn’t believe the parents would have filed suit had they sat and listened to the prosecution’s case unravel gradually until Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan was forced to drop the charges.

“Unless you were in that courtroom, and I was, you wouldn’t know,” she said. “The parents don’t know any different.”

Thompson agrees.

“What was unusual about this case is that the evidence, through rulings from the bench, changed drastically and significantly in the courtroom,” said Thompson. “The judge asked prosecutors probing questions . . . If the parents were there, they would have questioned the case and the prosecutors. Just listening would have changed their perspective.”

But they weren’t there. Even if a civil case requires a burden of proof that is less than the criminal standard of beyond a reasonable doubt, the lawsuit against McCarthy seems to go over old, unsubstantiated ground.

Both the parents and their lawyer, Jonathan Friedmann, declined to be interviewed for this column. But they told my Globe colleague, Patricia Wen, that they filed the suit to prevent McCarthy from profiting from Rehma’s death. And Friedmann insisted the parents did go through all the evidence before deciding to file suit.

There has been no suggestion that McCarthy plans to do anything to profit from the child’s death. The parents and their lawyer say they don’t want McCarthy to write a book or make a movie about the case.

McCarthy, who had been living in the United States illegally, was deported to her native Ireland after the murder charges were dropped. When I interviewed her there last month, McCarthy said she wanted to sue Dr. Alice Newton, who made the initial diagnosis that led to her arrest, and Middlesex County prosecutors, not to get money, but to expose a system that allows people to be accused of murder on evidence that doesn’t stand up to scientific scrutiny.

Thompson scoffed at the idea that McCarthy is looking for money.

“She has no intention of profiting from the death of a child,” she said. “What she wants is the Middlesex DA’s office and Alice Newton to stop doing this to people. To the extent that Aisling is talking about this, it’s to help educate people and make sure that no one goes through the living hell she went through. She’s never spoken badly of the parents.”

And there’s the rub. The wrongful death suit against McCarthy puts her and her lawyers in the awkward position of pointing out that the parents, or people they visited when they took their daughter abroad against a doctor’s advice, were just as likely to have caused injuries to Rehma as McCarthy was. And the madness of being put in that position is that the medical examiner’s findings don’t support either of those conclusions.

Beyond asserting her innocence, McCarthy and her lawyers say investigators rushed to judgment, concluding that she was responsible for the child’s death without seriously considering other explanations.

If the criminal charges against McCarthy had not been dropped and the case had gone to trial, McCarthy’s lawyers say they would have been duty-bound to put into evidence some things that could be uncomfortable for the parents, including postings to an on-line mother’s advice forum by someone using Siddiqui’s name and e-mail address.

If this lawsuit goes forward, Thompson said, “Yes, those would come out.”

The prosecution alleged that McCarthy lost her patience with the crying child and inflicted traumatic injuries. But McCarthy had been a nanny for 10 years, and there was no evidence that she ever lost her patience with a crying child.

Thompson noted that police never interviewed Rehma Sabir’s parents separately, which is common practice in such a case, where all of a child’s caregivers would be considered either suspects or crucial witnesses. Instead, the police zeroed in on McCarthy, especially after Newton quickly concluded that only McCarthy could have inflicted the injuries that killed the baby.

But, of course, the medical examiner said it’s not clear what killed the baby, and that it could just as easily have been an undiagnosed illness.

Maybe something will be worked out. Maybe this will all go away. If it doesn’t, it could get ugly.

I'm sure it's all Trump's fault.


Like in Texas:

"Texas couple charged with forcing nanny to work for no pay" Associated Press  February 09, 2016

HOUSTON — A Houston-area couple forced a Nigerian woman to care for their five children and home without pay during a two-year period in which she was physically and verbally abused, made to work nearly 20 hours a day, and told to sleep on the floor, federal authorities say.

Chudy and Sandra Nsobundu were arrested Monday on charges of forced labor, withholding documents, conspiracy to harbor an illegal immigrant, and visa fraud. Authorities say the couple seized the nanny’s passport so she was unable to leave.

The 38-year-old nanny, whose full name is not given in the criminal complaint, told authorities she was promised $100 per month but was never been paid in her two years working for the Nsobundus in their home in the Houston suburb of Katy.

The Nsobundus made their initial court appearances Tuesday during separate court hearings. US Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson granted Sandra Nsobundu, 50, an unsecured bond and Chudy Nsobundu, 56, a $5,000 bond.

It wasn’t immediately known if both would be released later Tuesday. Prosecutors had asked that Chudy Nsobundu be held without bond, arguing he was a flight risk.

Joan Nwuli, Sandra Nsobundu’s attorney, declined to comment after her court hearing.

The judge asked Chudy Nsobundu to hire an attorney after he didn’t qualify for a court-appointed lawyer. During his court hearing, Chudy Nsobundu said he runs a business that provides home health care services.

The Nsobundus each face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Ruben Perez, one of the federal prosecutors handling the case, said after a hearing that the nanny was ‘‘enslaved’’ by her employers. Perez said cases in which immigrants and others are forced to work in homes in harsh conditions as nannies or caretakers are more common than people think.

No. I've been criticizing the $y$tem for years regarding it.

‘‘We know they are out there. When it comes to our attention we’ll act on them,’’ he said.

The nanny, who was living in Lagos, Nigeria, moved to Texas to live with the Nsobundus in September 2013, according to the criminal complaint. The Nsobundus are naturalized US citizens originally from Nigeria.

The complaint said the nanny would work every day from 5:30 a.m. to 1 a.m., couldn’t take breaks and had to eat leftovers and not fresh food, including being forced to only drink milk left in bowls in which the children had eaten cereal. She also couldn’t take hot showers, according to the complaint.

The nanny alleged Sandra Nsobundu repeatedly hit her if she thought the woman wasn’t doing her job correctly. The complaint said Sandra Nsobundu is accused of once striking the nanny across the face with a slipper and threatening to ‘‘shoot her and kill her’’ after not liking the socks the woman had put on one of the younger children.

After the nanny found out that she hadn’t been paid in two years, she reached out for help and was rescued last October following a tip to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, the complaint said. It’s not clear who made the tip.

Perez said the nanny is being cared for, but he declined to offer more details about her status.


Can't leave the kid with its mother:

"Salem mother convicted of withholding son’s medication gets new trial" by Laura Crimaldi Globe Staff  March 09, 2016

It was a heartbreaking case that hinged on a single, almost unthinkable question: How could a mother deny cancer treatment to her own son? 

Because it could kill him?

Almost five years ago, Kristen LaBrie, 43, was convicted of trying to kill her young son, who died of cancer in 2009, by withholding life-sustaining chemotherapy medication for months. Despite her insistence that she meant her son no harm, she was sentenced to prison for at least eight years.

Her son, Jeremy Fraser, was autistic and developmentally disabled.

During LaBrie’s appeal, a pediatric hematologist-oncologist testified it is not uncommon for parents of young chemotherapy patients to stray from long-term treatment plans, the decision said.

Some parents conclude that the side effects of treatment seem to outweigh the benefits, and that children may appear healthy even when their prescriptions are withheld....




"Sinn Fein gains popularity in Ireland through a desire for change" by Douglas Dalby New York Times  February 25, 2016

DUBLIN — Sinn Fein continues to be led by Gerry Adams, 67, who has sought to recast the party as one opposed to the austerity policies that have dominated Irish life since the financial crisis of 2009, and as a populist alternative to the dominant parties.

Polls suggest that Sinn Fein has a chance of increasing the number of seats it holds in Parliament enough to become one of the country’s three biggest parties, along with Fine Gael, the center-right party that leads the current coalition government, and Fianna Fail, another center-right party.

Late last year, polls showed Sinn Fein running neck-and-neck with the largest of the governing parties, and although the latest polling suggests that it is heading into the election with somewhat lower levels of popular support, it remains strong enough that analysts give it a good chance of boosting the number of seats it holds in the 158-member Parliament.

The election on Friday is taking place ahead of the state centenary commemorations of the 1916 Easter Rising, which is widely regarded as the beginning of the end for British rule over what is now the Republic of Ireland. Sinn Fein, however, is not relying on its nationalist credentials for an electoral boost but is campaigning on more contemporary concerns such as hospital waiting lists, rising homelessness and the introduction of water charges, which has become a rallying cry against austerity measures.

Three weeks ago, when the date for the election was announced, the smart money was on the departing, center-right Fine Gael-led government coalition returning to power on the back of economic recovery, falling unemployment and the lack of a credible alternative.

But polls have consistently showed voters willing to back left-leaning parties and independent candidates. Sinn Fein is again among those poised to take full advantage even though on some issues, such as law and order, it can be increasingly hard to distinguish its positions from more right-leaning opponents.

End print.

Sinn Fein’s opportunity comes at a time when populist, left-leaning parties are getting new looks from voters in many European nations where post-crisis austerity policies have left people hungry for change. Yet David Farrell, a professor of politics at University College Dublin, said it would be a mistake to lump Sinn Fein in with newer left-leaning, anti-austerity movements such as Podemos in Spain or Syriza in Greece.

“They may be cut from the same cloth politically, but Sinn Fein is not some new political force, rather it is a long-established party with all of the baggage that goes with it,” he said.

Like many political observers, Farrell said he believed that Sinn Fein was playing the long game, content to develop a power base over decades if necessary rather than enter a coalition government as a junior partner forced to compromise for the sake of power. He also believes that maturation may dull its radical edge.

“This time around, I believe they have far too high a hill to climb but they are still going to have a great election,” he said. “But it wouldn’t surprise me that by the time they are ready for government, Sinn Fein will have morphed into a more centrist party.”


"Irish government falls short of majority, exit poll signals" Bloomberg News  February 27, 2016

Ireland’s ruling coalition is on track to lose its majority, an exit poll showed, setting the nation on course for a bout of political instability.

Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s Fine Gael won 26.1 percent of first-preference votes in Friday’s election, according to the poll for the Irish Times. Its allies, the Labour Party, drew 7.8 percent support in the poll. Under Ireland’s electoral system, about 44 percent is needed for an overall majority.

Does that math add up to you?

Kenny’s coalition swept to power in 2011 with 55 percent of the vote. Ireland is the latest country to emerge from Europe’s debt crisis to feel the force of popular wrath over spending cuts and tax increases. Unlike Greece, Portugal and Spain, Ireland stands out because the economy is the fastest-growing in the euro region and unemployment is falling more quickly than in the 19-member currency bloc.

“We are looking at a Spain type of scenario where it could take months for a government to be formed,” said Eoin O’Malley, a politics lecturer at Dublin City University. “No clear government can be formed on these numbers.”

See: Spain Goes Socialist 

A real bus crash from what I see.

Fianna Fail, which lost power in 2011, secured 22.9 percent. Anti-austerity Sinn Fein won 14.9 percent, according to an Ipsos/MRBI poll, which had a margin of error of 1.2 percentage points. Parliament is due to meet again in Dublin on March 10.

The Fine Gael-Labour Party alliance will secure about 60 seats, short of a bare majority of 79, O’Malley said. To survive as prime minister or avoid a second election, Kenny may need a first-ever grand coalition with Fianna Fail. Its leadership has so far ruled out governing with Kenny.

As the campaign intensified, Kenny pointed to Spain and Portugal as examples of the danger Ireland faces. Portugal took weeks to form a government after there was no clear winner from an Oct. 4 election, while Spain is still without one more than two months after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy lost his majority.

Irish bonds have returned about 92 percent since he took office in March 2011, the best performance in the world and more than twice the average for the euro region, according to Bloomberg indexes.

The spread between Ireland’s 10-year benchmark government bonds and German securities of a similar maturity has increased to 76 basis points from 44 basis points just six weeks ago, as uncertainty over the election outcome grew.

“The man on the street doesn’t care about bond yields,” said Gary Murphy, a politics professor at Dublin City University. “He’s looking at how he’s been hit by water charges, property taxes, cuts in pay and social benefits.”

How could you tell?


"Irish election results show rejection of government" by Douglas Dalby New York Times  February 27, 2016

DUBLIN — Early results in Ireland’s general election indicated Saturday that voters had firmly rejected the center-right government, but it remained unclear if any party will have enough seats in Parliament to form a government.

The complexity of the Irish proportional representation system means that the final count in the 158-seat Dail may not be completed until the middle of next week. However, it is already certain that the governing coalition will lose too many seats to retain power, with the minority Labour Party suffering the highest casualties.

Tom Curran, the main election organizer for Fine Gael, the senior party in the governing coalition, conceded that it would probably be a “very disappointing day from the government’s point of view.”

Always a good thing.

An exit poll, commissioned by The Irish Times newspaper and released Saturday, suggested that Fine Gael would remain the largest party in Parliament with 26 percent of the vote, followed by Fianna Fail with 23 percent. Early official results appeared to bear out the predictions.

Political analysts believe the most likely result will be a hung Parliament, in which no single party has enough seats to take power. It is little surprise then that “earthquake” is the word used most on social media to describe the results so far.

Careful. That idea could catch on.

After almost a decade of austerity, voters have become increasingly frustrated and cast ballots for opposition parties and independent candidates.

It's an epidemic that is sweeping the globe!

More than a third of votes went to independent candidates and smaller parties, but there is little cohesion among them and they would probably not be in a position to form a government.

Fine Gael and Fianna Fail were running neck and neck, creating the prospect of a coalition between the two center-right parties that have swapped power between them for more than 80 years. If they do decide to broker a coalition, it would open a clear left-right divide for the first time since the Irish state was formed in 1922.

Both parties evolved out of Ireland’s bitter civil war, and it can be difficult for outsiders to discern the differences between them. However, a coalition would involve burying generations of enmity and a realignment of the political spectrum.

(Blog editor just shakes his head)

Neither party has the numbers to form a government on its own or with a single third party. And both parties have ruled out cutting a deal with Sinn Fein, once the political wing of the Irish Republican Army.

The alternative to forming a coalition is holding another election.


But the two parties would then run the risk of further alienating a weary electorate who would wonder why they were unable to forge an alliance for the sake of political stability given that both are prepared to work with smaller parties with radically different agendas from them.

As well as creating a historic realignment, if Fianna Fail did enter the government, it would cede the mantle of main opposition party to Sinn Fein, which would virtually guarantee the continued rise of that party’s popularity.

In the exit polls, Sinn Fein attracted around 16 percent of the vote, and soon after counting began it was confirmed that Gerry Adams, the party’s president, had won in his County Louth constituency.

Martin McGuinness, a Sinn Fein veteran and the deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, described the election as hugely successful for his party and said he believed that someone would be in a position to form a government.

“My sense is that a government will be formed. I don’t think there will be a second election within weeks,” he said. “How stable a government, that remains to be seen.”


I know how she feels.

"Ireland’s divided lawmakers mull possible pact, 2nd election" Associated Press  February 28, 2016

DUBLIN — Ireland’s election has produced a Parliament full of feuding factions and no obvious road to a majority government, spurring lawmakers to warn Sunday that the country could face a protracted political deadlock followed by a second election.

For the first time in Irish electoral history, the combined popular vote Friday for Ireland’s two political heavyweights — the Fianna Fail and Fine Gael parties — fell below 50 percent as voters infuriated by austerity measures shifted their support to antigovernment voices.

The results left Parliament with at least nine factions and a legion of loose-cannon independents, few of them easy partners for a coalition government, none of them numerous enough to make a difference on their own.

‘‘There’s a sense of bewilderment, first of all. We’re a long way from sitting down together and talking about what our next options are,’’ said Regina Doherty, a Fine Gael lawmaker.

With 12 seats in Ireland’s 158-member Parliament still to be filled, the ruling Fine Gael won 46 seats, longtime foe Fianna Fail 42, the Irish nationalist Sinn Fein 22, and junior government partner Labour just six. An eye-popping array of tiny parties, umbrella groups, and parochial mavericks won the rest."

That an endorsement of Trump?

"Irish government in limbo as lawmakers reject premier, rival" Associated Press  March 10, 2016

DUBLIN — Ireland’s new parliament overwhelmingly rejected both Prime Minister Enda Kenny and his main rival in votes to select the next government leader Thursday, creating a political vacuum that may take weeks of difficult coalition talks to fill.

Maybe that is a good thing!

Kenny, Ireland’s leader since 2011, said he would resign from his position Thursday night, after which the head of state, President Michael D. Higgins, would immediately reappoint him as caretaker prime minister.

‘‘Let me assure the Irish people that the government remains in place and that I and my Cabinet colleagues will continue to work hard in the interests of the country and the people,’’ Kenny told lawmakers.

I'm sure that "reassures" them, yeah.

At risk in any protracted stalemate is Ireland’s impressive economic rebound from its 2010 bailout, which was delivered by a Kenny-led government that, until voters cast their ballots Feb. 26, enjoyed the biggest parliamentary majority in Irish history.

All to the top 1% like here?

As lawmakers convened Thursday, government statisticians announced that Ireland had cemented its status as Europe’s most rapidly expanding economy with growth rates last experienced in 2000.

While Kenny’s Fine Gael remains the largest party, with 50 lawmakers in the 158-seat parliament, it no longer has a coalition partner strong enough to deliver a majority after left-wing voters infuriated by government austerity measures reduced his Labour Party ally to just seven lawmakers.

Those 57 lawmakers backed Kenny, but 94 rejected him as ‘‘Taoiseach,’’ the formal Gaelic title for leader. Minutes later, lawmakers dealt an even stronger rebuke to Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin. He received 43 votes, all from his own party, while 108 said no.

Irish nationalist Sinn Fein’s 23 lawmakers voted for their own leader, Gerry Adams, who received no support from others.

Before the votes, lawmakers from other camps appealed to Kenny and Martin to forge an unprecedented partnership between their center-ground parties, which trace their origins to the opposite sides of Ireland’s 1922-23 civil war. They have never shared power in the decades since.

Coalitions have governed Ireland since 1989. This is the first time that the two heavyweights of political life, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, have been unable to form a numerically stable coalition with anyone but each other.

If Kenny and Martin cannot forge an agreement that delivers stable government, a second election would follow.

One of the parliament’s most colorful newly elected independents, County Kerry pub owner Danny Healy-Rae, said their partnership was inevitable and accused them both of wasting the parliament’s time. Before the vote, he played the accordion outside parliament as supporters danced jigs in the street.

Ireland’s parliament might not convene again until early April following the year’s two most politically charged events on the Irish calendar, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. The latter holiday this year involves large-scale state commemorations of the 100th anniversary of Dublin’s Easter Rising rebellion against British rule.


So how can they also torpedo Sinn Fein in the process?

"IRA suspect charged with Belfast bomb attack on prison guard" by Shawn Pogatchnik Associated Press  March 12, 2016

DUBLIN — A suspected member of an Irish Republican Army splinter group was charged Saturday with trying to kill a Northern Ireland prison officer by placing a booby-trap bomb under his vehicle as police warned of rising security risks as Easter approaches.

Dozens of armed riot police were deployed inside Belfast Magistrates Court to control a rowdy crowd supporting 45-year-old Christopher Robinson, who offered no plea to two charges of attempted murder and possession of a homemade bomb.

Robinson was arrested following the March 4 attack on an off-duty prison officer, who was seriously wounded when a bomb exploded beneath his van as he drove away from his Belfast home to go to work. Robinson’s supporters whistled, cheered and shouted insults at the judge as police led Robinson away in handcuffs.

A faction labeled the ‘‘New IRA’’ claimed responsibility.

Another MI6 operation?

In a statement to the BBC in Belfast, the group said it targeted the prison officer because he was training other guards inside Maghaberry Prison, which houses dozens of convicted members of several IRA factions. The judge said Robinson’s next court appearance would take place April 1 by video link from that prison west of Belfast.

While IRA members loyal to the Provisional IRA renounced violence and disarmed in 2005, smaller rival factions still mount occasional bomb and gun attacks in hopes of destabilizing the British territory of Northern Ireland. Their imprisoned members have mounted years of protests at Maghaberry.

The so-called ‘‘New IRA’’ — a name invented by Irish media to distinguish it from other factions, all of which claim to be the true IRA — claimed responsibility for killing another Maghaberry Prison guard in 2012.

I'm wondering if the name was the only thing that was invented.

A police commander, Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr, said he expects more attacks in the run-up to Easter, the most important date on the IRA calendar. He said IRA splinter groups have several hundred members who often are commanded by Provisional IRA veterans with ‘‘significant terrorist experience.’’

The Irish government is planning large-scale events in Dublin on Easter, March 27, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising against British rule. Most of Ireland won independence six years after that rebellion in Dublin, but Northern Ireland remained in the United Kingdom.


RelatedCase collapses against Real IRA man charged with Omagh bombing

Also seeHow Americans pushed the Irish to war

Via the Drumming of bankers:

"Ex-bank CEO David Drumm agrees to face Irish charges" by Beth Healy Globe Staff  February 11, 2016

Former Irish banker David K. Drumm gave up his fight against extradition in federal court in Boston Thursday and asked to be sent home to Ireland to face criminal charges.

Drumm, 49, has been in a Massachusetts jail since October while battling the Irish government’s efforts to bring him back to account for the collapse of Anglo Irish Bank, where he was chief executive.

Weary of jail in the country where he has sought refuge since 2009, Drumm changed course and will take his chances with prosecutors in Ireland. According to Irish news reports, he wants to cooperate with the government there.

US Magistrate Judge Donald L. Cabell asked Drumm several questions to ensure that he understood he was waiving his rights and that he was doing so voluntarily.

“I am, your honor,” said Drumm, clad in dark green prison garb. Drumm also said that he had not succumbed to threats of any kind.

The magistrate said he would review and approve within 24 hours the US attorney’s order to extradite Drumm, and that the matter would “shift to the State Department” for the next phase.

In court, Drumm’s attorney, Daniel Fetterman, told the judge Drumm is seeking a green card before he leaves the country, suggesting that he hopes to return to the United States. A green card allows people from other countries to live and work in the United States permanently. Drumm and his family have been living in Wellesley.

Fetterman said Drumm needs the help of US officials to get a green card, including bringing him to a federal office in Boston. Drumm remains in the custody of the US marshals, who declined to comment on that request or when the former banker might be moved to Ireland.

Drumm is facing 33 criminal charges in Ireland related to the 2009 collapse and government takeover of Anglo Irish. His case has been the subject of intense news coverage in his home country.

On Thursday afternoon, Drumm was escorted into the courtroom and unshackled, sitting briefly at a table beside his lawyer and pouring himself a cup of water. But within moments he was handcuffed and led away again, as the first half- hour of the proceeding was held in the judge’s chambers, apparently to iron out language in documents related to Drumm’s transfer to Ireland.

Drumm returned to the courtroom when the judge and the lawyers returned.

His lawyer declined to comment after the court proceeding.


Also seeDavid Drumm is a man without a country

Not for long:

"Ex-Irish banker granted bail after returning from Mass." by Shawn Pogatchnik Associated Press  March 14, 2016

DUBLIN — The former chief executive of Anglo Irish Bank was granted bail hours after his extradition from the United States, capping a seven-year legal battle during which he failed to win US bankruptcy protection and evade Irish fraud charges.

A judge rejected assertions from prosecutors, detectives, and fraud investigators that David Drumm was likely to flee Ireland if freed. Drumm spent five months in a Massachusetts jail before his extradition overnight under Irish police guard from Boston to Dublin Airport, where he was arrested at dawn Monday.

Drumm faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted on any of 33 fraud charges connected to the Dublin bank’s hiding of massive loans and losses from shareholders that ultimately ruined the bank. He offered no plea in court or during police custody Monday.

Ireland nationalized Anglo in 2009, seized control of its toxic property portfolio and dissolved the bank at an estimated cost of $32 billion. That burden overwhelmed Ireland’s own financial resources and forced the nation to negotiate a 2010 international bailout.

While other senior Anglo executives remained in Ireland and already have faced a range of criminal charges, Drumm fled with his wife and two daughters to the United States, where they had already bought a Cape Cod home and, after swapping it for a $2 million suburban Boston home, filed for US bankruptcy protection. He lost that case in January 2015 when a Boston bankruptcy judge ruled that Drumm was ‘‘not remotely credible,’’ in part because he had failed to disclose the transfer of millions worth of assets, including cash and multiple Irish and American properties, into his wife’s name in a bid to deceive creditors and the court.

A Dublin court in June 2013 issued an arrest warrant for Drumm on charges dating to the disaster that befell Anglo — the bank that most aggressively funded Ireland’s runway property boom — in 2008 as the global credit crunch struck.

The charges concern $501 million in secret loans to 10 top customers on condition they used all the money to buy Anglo’s own crumbling shares, along with contracts limiting their need to repay the loans in event of losses; an overnight $8 billion cash transfer from another Dublin bank that allowed Anglo to conceal its true state of deposit losses in its 2008 earnings statement; and more secret share-buying loans to the bank’s biggest investor and his children. Those shares lost all their value.

The US bankruptcy trial heard evidence that Drumm still owes Irish taxpayers 8.5 million euros plus interest in defaulting personal loans from Anglo.

Drumm challenged the US extradition order but relented after judges twice refused to grant him bail, citing the risk he might flee again.

Drumm’s lawyer, Michael Staines, argued Monday that Drumm never posed a flight risk, could easily have fled to Canada, which has no extradition agreement with Ireland, and was willing now to be electronically tagged.

Dublin District Court Judge Michael Walsh granted Drumm his freedom on condition that he deposit 50,000 euros ($55,500) of his own cash and secure two similar cash guarantees from relatives. He ordered Drumm to surrender his Irish passport, declare that he possessed no US passport and promise to report twice daily to his local police station.

His legal team said Drumm would be unable to confirm the full 150,000 euro financial security until Tuesday, so the judge ordered him held in an Irish jail overnight.

The judge noted that the unprecedented complexity of the case against Drumm — involving records of more than 400 phone calls and millions of pages of evidence — meant his trial might not even begin until 2017."

During which time he will be walking around free:

"David Drumm walks free from custody in Ireland" by Shawn Pogatchnik Associated Press  March 15, 2016

DUBLIN — Two former figures in Anglo Irish Bank were freed from prison Tuesday after their fraud convictions were overturned on appeal, while the collapsed bank’s most hunted figure of all — former chief executive David Drumm — walked free from police custody barely a day after his US extradition.

Not a good omen.

Irish fraud and criminal investigators have spent nine years trying to assign blame for the massive accounting deceptions that helped destroy the bank and drive Ireland itself to the brink of bankruptcy.

But a series of probes and trials so far have produced only suspended or overturned sentences, while Drumm is not expected to face his own 33 fraud charges in two trials before mid-2017.

Drumm spent his first night home in Ireland since 2009 in police custody but walked free after his mother and father-in-law helped him provide a $166,500 bail guarantee.

Around the same time, the three-judge Court of Appeal ruled that the July 2015 convictions of the bank’s former chief operations officer, Tiarnan O’Mahoney, and company secretary Bernard Daly were faulty on several grounds.

They and a former assistant manager, Aoife Maguire, all had been found guilty of concealing customer accounts from tax investigators.

But Maguire’s 18-month sentence was overturned in December, followed by O’Mahoney’s three-year penalty and Daly’s two-year term Tuesday.

They remain the only officials to have been imprisoned from Anglo, the bank most credited with fueling a runaway Irish property market that came crashing down amid the 2008 global credit crisis.

Investigators who pored over Anglo Irish Bank’s books following its early 2009 nationalization uncovered schemes to hide illegal loans and megabillion-dollar losses from shareholders.

Ireland, overwhelmed by the toxic debts of Anglo and five other Dublin banks, was forced to negotiate an international bailout in late 2010 that the nation successfully exited three years later."


"Scotland’s leader called on supporters to increase the vote for her Scottish National Party in a May election, part of a renewed push for independence from the United Kingdom. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Saturday that strengthening Scottish Nationalist control of the Parliament in Edinburgh would set the stage for a revived independence campaign. The SNP is polling strongly ahead of the May 5 vote for the 129-seat Parliament, which the SNP has narrowly controlled since 2007. Sturgeon hopes to stage a new referendum that would overturn a 2014 vote in which 55.3 percent rejected independence (AP)."

I'm sorry; I always get those two confused.

NDU: Nearly 500 cited for public drinking at St. Patrick’s Day parade

Also seeIrish firm buys Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group

UPDATE: Sorry for leaving you in limbo for more than a week.

Also see: Springfield to plant garden commemorating 1916 Irish Easter Rising


"The now-defunct Anglo Irish Bank was nationalized in 2009 and gradually dissolved. Most of its malfunctioning property-loan portfolio was transferred to a new state ‘‘bad bank.’’ Ireland absorbed paper losses at Anglo and four other bailed-out banks. Ireland is clawing back billions as its ‘‘bad bank’’ auctions off sites and developments to a revived property market. Irish Life and Permanent, like Anglo, succumbed to eventual nationalization...."

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