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Garda checked cemeteries to prove man was claiming pensions of dead parents for 33 years

A man who fraudulently claimed the pensions of his dead parents for thirty three years was caught out when his father became eligible for the centenary bounty cheque for reaching the age of a hundred, a court has heard.

Investigating gardai indicated that Donal (Don) O’Callaghan of Churchfield Green in Cork city conducted the largest and longest running, known case of welfare fraud in state history. The 58-year-old claimed the pensions of his dead parents Donald and Eileen from 1987 to 2020 defrauding the state of in excess of half a million euro,

Garda Michael Nagle, who is based at the Department of Social Protection, told Cork Circuit Criminal Court that the garda investigation also led to the revelation that Donald O’Callaghan Senior, the father of the defendant, had claimed a pension for his dead wife from 1979 until his own death in 1987.

Upon the death of Donald O’Callaghan Senior in 1987 father of one Don, started claiming the state pension for both his father and mother.

Garda Nagle said that the offences emerged in July 2020 when a social welfare inspector at Hanover Street, Cork received notification of a pensioner in Cork, Donald O’Callaghan, who was due to reach 100 years of age.

Congratulatory letter

“This would result in the issuing of a congratulatory letter from the president as well as a cheque for €2,540. The social welfare inspector’s role was to verify the pensioners details and to confirm their acceptance of the centenarian bounty, prior to it being issued.

The pensioner, Donald O’Callaghan, was listed as residing at 4 Churchfield Green, Churchfield, Cork with his wife Eileen O’ Callaghan and their son Don O’Callaghan.”

Garda Nagle said the inspector would ordinarily call to the home of the pensioner to complete a questionnaire, but these visits were not taking place due to pandemic restrictions. The information was instead being verified by phone and post.

Both pensioners were in receipt of a state pension being paid to Donald O’Callaghan with Eileen O’Callaghan included on the same pension as opposed to two separate pension claims. The pension was being collected weekly at the GPO, Cork.

There was a contact number listed for the defendant, Don O’Callaghan and the inspector contacted him to discuss the centenarian bounty for his father Donald. The inspector spoke with Don O’Callaghan who confirmed that he resided at the address with his father and mother and that his father was willing to accept the president’s payment.

The social welfare inspector then tried to verify Donald O’Callaghan’s details as was routine. She contacted the public health nurse, who had no record of Donald O’ Callaghan.

Unable to make contact with anybody else who could verify the information, in August 2020, the inspector spoke with Garda Nagle about the matter.

In a bid to verify that Donald O’ Callaghan was alive Garda Nagle contacted the public health nurse, home help services, local GPs and all of the main hospitals in the city. Donald O’ Callaghan or Eileen O’ Callaghan were not known to any of them.

No death certs could be located. Garda Nagle started to carry out surveillance of the O’Callaghan home on the northside of the city.


“I eventually began to physically check various cemeteries over a number of weeks. In September 2020 I located the grave of Eileen O’ Callaghan at Tory Top Road cemetery and the following week I located the grave of Donald O’ Callaghan in Douglas cemetery.

Donald O’ Callaghan died 34 years ago in November 1987, aged 68 and his wife Eileen O’Callaghan died 43 years ago in March 1979, aged 57.”

Garda Nagle obtained CCTV from three collections of the pension at GPO, Cork in August and September 2020 and they were all collected by a man whom he believed to be Don O’Callaghan.

On October 9th, 2020 he conducted a surveillance at GPO Cork. He arrested Don O’Callaghan who had just collected the the fortnightly pension payment of €961.60 in cash.

Mr O’ Callaghan made full admissions in relation to the collection of his parents’ pensions from 1987 to 2020. Garda located €9,800 in cash suspected to be proceeds from the pension payments from the home of Mr O’Callaghan. They also seized the money he picked up from the pension collection on the day of his arrest.

Garda Nagle obtained the original pension file from 1986.

“The evidence suggests that the pension was originally applied for by Donald O’ Callaghan, and it would appear that it was he who included his wife on the application, resulting in a double payment, although she had died seven years previously at that time.

Following the death of his father in 1987, Don O’ Callaghan was 24 years old and he noticed the pension book in the house. He attempted to collect it the following week and when successful, he continued this practice for over three decades.

The fraud was continued throughout the years with the completion of various documents five of which relate to charges before the court.”

Fuel allowance

In 1990 Don O’ Callaghan submitted a fuel allowance application to the department, listing the occupants of the address as himself and both of his parents.

Garda Nagle said the department conducted postal checks on the pension claims over the years. There were three continued eligibility certificates sent to Donald O’ Callaghan at 4 Churchfield Green. These certs are sent to verify the current information of a person receiving a claim and if no response is received from the individual, it would result in an examination the claim.

“There was one cert sent to 4 Churchfield Green in 1996, one in 2013 and one in 2017. These certificates were all returned completed and signed, appearing to have been submitted by Donald O’ Callaghan but in fact completed and signed by the defendant.

These declarations allowed the pension to remain in payment as they declared that there has been no change in the circumstances of Donald O’ Callaghan.”

Don O’ Callaghan was for many years an unofficial collection agent for the pension. An Post began to have these collection agents made official through the completion of an application form by the claimant, to nominate someone collect their payment.

In 2009 an authority to appoint an agent form was completed by the defendant with his fathers information. In this form, Don O’ Callaghan was nominated as an agent to collect the pension payment on behalf of his father. The reason stated for appointment of an agent was that Donald O’ Callaghan was no longer able to walk to the post office to collect the payment.

In June 2014 an application form for a public services card was sent to Donald O’ Callaghan at his address. The public services card process could for an initial period, be completed by post without the requirement to attend in person, for example in the case of an elderly individual such as Donald O’ Callaghan.

This form was returned completed with Donald O’ Callaghan’s information, as though completed and signed by him. A photograph was returned with the form, as required for inclusion on the card. The department deemed that the quality of the photograph was too poor to use on the public services card and Garda Nagle said they sent a letter to Donald O’ Callaghan’s address, requesting a better-quality photograph of him.


Garda Nagle said another photograph was subsequently sent to the Department for inclusion on the card.

“It transpires that this photograph was taken by Don O’ Callaghan of an elderly man whom he knew, who was of a similar age to what his father Donald O’ Callaghan would have been. He had no other suitable photograph of his father and took the photograph of this male in order to ensure that the fraud continued. With nothing to compare it to and no reason to suspect anything untoward, this photograph was accepted by the department and in February 2015, a public services card was issued to Donald O’ Callaghan, by post, bearing the photograph of this unknown elderly male. This Public services card was located during the search of Don O’ Callaghan’s home.”

Financially, the court heard Don O Callaghan was himself in receipt of Jobseekers allowance for the past three decades. Combined with the pension payments of his parents, at the time that this was detected, he would have been receiving close to €700 per week on average.

He appeared to have a good quality of living and had travelled abroad on a number of occasions.

Dt Garda Nagle said that O’Calllaghan also has one son who resides in Thailand with his Thai mother. O’ Callaghan was regularly sending payments by money transfer to his child’s mother, for support of his child.


In the 33 years during which this fraud was committed, there were almost 1,700 separate collections of this pension payment made by Don O’ Callaghan and a total of €527,000 was collected.

Mr O’Callaghan pleaded guilty to 73 sample counts of social welfare fraud dating back over three decades. 68 counts relate to theft whilst five refer to false documentation in support of the fraudulent claims.

All of the theft offences occurred at Cork GPO on Oliver Plunkett Street in Cork with the forgery offences taking place at the office of the Department of Social Protection on Hanover Street in Cork.

Defence barrister, Ray Boland,SC, claimed that his client had a chronic gambing addiction for which he was seeking treatment. He pleaded for leniency in the case given the guilty plea, his client’s co operation with gardai and his lack of previous convictions. Judge Helen Boyle adjourned the case until Wednesday morning to consider her position on sentencing.

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Charming cottage which inspired spy novelist John le Carré’s best-selling thrillers is on the market for £3million

Novelist John Le Carre’s former Cornish family home where he wrote best-selling thrillers has gone onto the market for the first time in 60 years for £3million. 

The writer and his wife bought Tregiffian Cottage in St Buryan, near Penzance, in the late 1960s.

The property was actually three former fisherman’s cottages which were adapted by Le Carre to create a single coastal home in 3.3 acres.

Le Carre, who died in December 2020, was best known for his spy novels, many of which were written at Tregiffian and then adapted for film and TV.

Nick Cornwell, le Carré’s son who grew up in the house, revealed their dog ate an early draft of one of the manuscripts. 

John Le Carre and his wife bought Tregiffian Cottage in St Buryan, near Penzance, in the late 1960s

John Le Carre and his wife bought Tregiffian Cottage in St Buryan, near Penzance, in the late 1960s 

The house boasts incredible seafront views which can be seen from this bright room

The house boasts incredible seafront views which can be seen from this bright room 

Le Carre - whose real name was David John Moore Cornwell - died in December 2020 aged 89

Le Carre – whose real name was David John Moore Cornwell – died in December 2020 aged 89

He told The Times: ‘Every Le Carre novel from 1970 onwards owes at least some of its genesis and most of its writing time to that house.’ 

The main house is 5,000sq ft including a self-contained guest wing.

There is a drawing room with an open fireplace, oak panelled walls and a west-facing bay window with a door to the garden.

Agents Savills add on Rightmove: ‘There is a library, which as one might expect, is a work of art, with bespoke joinery and a feature window at one end, glazed with what is believed to be part of the canopy from a second world war fighter plane.

‘There is also a seaward facing conservatory that has mesmerising views out to sea.

‘The dining room has a slate tiled floor, door to the garden, staircase to the first floor. The kitchen has a fireplace, island unit and door to the garden.

‘From here there is access to the rear hall, leading to a utility room, laundry room, boot room and scullery, with access to a safe room.’

A large swimming pool which is part of the property - with incredible views

A large swimming pool which is part of the property – with incredible views

On the first floor, there is a main bedroom suite with a barrelled ceiling, en suite bathroom and a semi-circular bay window with coastal views to the west.

There is a guest bedroom suite and further bedroom with dressing room and separate bathroom, both of which have sea views.

The guest wing, which is accessed via a staircase from the rear hallway, has a sitting room, bedroom and bathroom.

There is a detached annex/studio building, which could be rented out as a holiday let or used as a studio.

A staircase then rises to a first floor studio space, which was Le Carre’s writing room.

It has a balcony and granite staircase linking to the courtyard.

There are also a number of chalet-style buildings and a swimming pool as well as a gardener’s hut.

A living/sitting area in the house which has gone up for sale

A living/sitting area in the house which has gone up for sale 

The description goes on: ‘The gardens and grounds have been beautifully landscaped, whilst being sympathetic to the property’s enchanting coastal setting, and are mainly to the east and south of the house and buildings.

‘Much thought and years of care have been invested in the gardens, cleverly creating a variety of formal and informal areas, split into lawns, borders and wild meadow areas with paths cut through.

‘It is difficult to do the gardens justice in words as they are impeccably maintained and planted with a variety of specimen trees, shrubs and herbaceous borders, interspersed with numerous sheltered seating areas, viewpoints and sculptures.’

It comes two years after another of Le Carre’s homes was offered for sale for almost £2million.

The writer moved into the stunning Grade II property near Wells, Somerset, in 1965.

Le Carre – whose real name was David John Moore Cornwell – died in December 2020 aged 89.

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Copyright Dispute: DC Comics And ‘Fables’ Author Clash over Ownership, Author Aims for Public Domain

A detail from a 'Fables' cartoon by Bill Willingham. Image courtesy of the publisher ECC.
A detail from a ‘Fables’ cartoon by Bill Willingham. Image courtesy of the publisher ECC.

This is a story full of fairy tales. In some ways, it even resembles one. And yet it also proves that, in the real world, things rarely end happily ever after. A few days ago, Bill Willingham, the father of the celebrated Fables comic book series, announced that he was sending his most cherished work to the public domain, that is, to everyone. That’s only fair, since that is also where he got the main characters of his stories, from Snow White to the Wolf, from Pinocchio to Prince Charming, who were then relocated to modern New York. In this tale, the hero has long-faced mistreatment at the hands of the villains, DC Comics, the owner of Vertigo, which publishes the work in the United States, and its executives.

“If I couldn’t prevent Fables from falling into bad hands, at least this is a way I can arrange that it also falls into many good hands,” Willingham wrote in an online post in which he decried the label’s repeated attempts to take over his creations and opposed them with this final extreme remedy. But the company responded that it considers itself to be the true owner of the series.

In a statement published by the specialized media IGN, the company threatened to take “necessary action” to defend its rights. Thus, the end of the dispute is uncertain. But it is unlikely that everyone will end up happily ever after.

In the meantime, in a new post, Willingham celebrated the massive support he received. In fact, for the moment, he has declined all interview requests — he did not respond to this newspaper’s request, nor did the publisher — arguing that he preferred to spend the next few days working on new artistic projects. Meanwhile, the dispute continues.

Fables is one of the most celebrated graphic novels of the last 20 years, and it has spawned spin-offs and a video game adaptation (The Wolf Among Us).

This situation also touches on a key issue, namely, the intellectual property rights of characters and works, especially in a sector where, for decades, dozens of cartoonists and screenwriters have accused comic book giants Marvel and DC of pressuring them to cede their ideas and accept commissioned contracts.

Willingham sums it up as a policy aimed to make creators sign “work for hire” agreements and crush them. All of this makes a gesture that was already intended to make a splash even more resonant.

A detail from a ‘Fables’ cartoon by Bill Willingham. Image provided by ECC
A detail from a ‘Fables’ cartoon by Bill Willingham. Image provided by ECC.

Indeed, the battle over intellectual property is as old as contemporary comics: the copyrights for Superman, Batman and The Fantastic Four all have unresolved disputes and complaints from Jerry Siegel, Bill Finger and Jack Kirby over the contemptuous treatment they suffered. And heavyweight Alan Moore has been lamenting for years that DC took away his ownership of famous works like Watchmen.

Along with prestige and principles, tens of millions of dollars are at stake, especially now that the film industry has become interested in comics.

“When you sign a contract with DC, your responsibilities to them are carved in stone, where their responsibilities to you are treated as “helpful suggestions that we’ll try to accommodate when we can, but we’re serious adults, doing serious business and we can’t always take the time to indulge the needs of these children who work for us” the Fables author wrote on his blog. Following the impact of his original message, Willingham posted two other texts. He maintains that he had thought about sending his work into the public domain when he passed away, but that “certain events” have changed his plans: among them, he lists the changes in management and attitude at the top of the publishing company; the multiple breaches of obligations such as consultations about covers, artists for new plots and adaptations; DC’s forgetfulness when it came to pay, which forced him to demand invoices of up to $30,000; the suspicious frequency with which the publisher attributed it to “slipping through the cracks” (to such an extent that the author insisted that they stop using that expression); and the time and chances he gave them to respect the pact, renegotiate it or even break it and consensually separate.

A detail from the cover of the first volume of Bill Willingham's comprehensive collection of 'Fables.'
A detail from the cover of the first volume of Bill Willingham’s comprehensive collection of ‘Fables’.

“Shortly after creating Fables, I entered into a publishing agreement with DC Comics. In that agreement, while I continued to own the property, DC would have exclusive rights to publish Fables comics, and then later that agreement was expanded to give DC exclusive rights to exploit the property in other ways, including movies and TV.

DC paid me a fair price for these rights (fair at the time), and as long as they behaved ethically and above-board, and conducted themselves as if this were a partnership, all was more or less well. But DC doesn’t seem to be capable of acting fairly and above-board.

In fact, they treated this agreement (as I suppose I should have known they would) as if they were the boss and I, their servant. In time that got worse, as they later reinterpreted our contracts to assume they owned Fables outright,” Willingham laments. Hence, he concluded that “you can’t reason with the unreasonable.”

Having ruled out a lawsuit as too expensive and time-consuming at 67 years of age, he found a more creative solution: if they prevented him from owning his works and benefiting from them as he was entitled to do, he would not let the publisher do so either. Or, at least, everyone could use the comics as they wished. But the label was quick to clarify in its statement to IGN: “The Fables comic books and graphic novels [are] published by DC, and are not in the public domain”.

For his part, Willingham promises to continue fighting for all the conditions of his still-in-force contract that he considers DC to have violated, as well as for the last installments of the series, the final script of which he delivered two years ago.

There will be additional chapters in this dispute, as well as in many other ones like it: in 2024, the historic first image of Mickey Mouse, the one that starred in the 1928 short Steamboat Willie, enters the public domain in the U.S. and other countries. Copyright in the U.S. lasts for 95 years, and math is an exact science.

Therefore, in a few years, King Kong, Superman and Popeye will meet the same fate. But The New York Times has wondered how the “notoriously litigious” Disney will react and how far it will go to fight in court. And who would dare to freely use all these works for fear of a million-dollar lawsuit? The same question surrounds DC and similar companies. Because in the real world, fairy tales are rare. Or they end up in court.

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Assessing The Potential of The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) Against China’s Belt And Road Initiative (BRI)

(THE VOICE OF EU) – In a recent address, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the newly unveiled India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) as a transformative force poised to shape global trade for centuries. While the IMEC undoubtedly presents a significant development, it’s vital to scrutinize its potential impact compared to China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The IMEC was jointly announced by US President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the G20 summit in Delhi. Designed to fortify transportation and communication networks between Europe and Asia via rail and shipping routes, the project not only holds regional promise but also reflects a strategic move by the US in its geopolitical interests, particularly concerning China.

However, the IMEC faces a formidable contender in the form of China’s BRI, which celebrated its tenth anniversary this year.

Despite facing some headwinds, including a slowdown in lending due to China’s economic deceleration and concerns raised by nations like Italy, Sri Lanka, and Zambia regarding debt sustainability, the BRI remains a monumental global undertaking.

With investments surpassing a staggering $1 trillion and over 150 partner countries, the BRI has transformed from a regional initiative to a near-global endeavor.

Comparatively, the IMEC may not immediately match the scale or ambition of the BRI. While the US, Japan, and the G7 nations have introduced similar initiatives like the Global Gateway and Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, none have achieved the expansive reach or influence of the BRI.

The emergence of these projects over the past five years, however, demonstrates the BRI’s pivotal role as a catalyst for global economic growth.

Viewing the IMEC solely through the lens of opposition to the BRI may not provide a comprehensive understanding of its potential.

Instead, the IMEC contributes to a broader trend of transactional partnerships, where countries engage with multiple collaborators simultaneously, underscoring the complex and interconnected nature of global trade relations.

Yet, realizing the IMEC’s aspirations demands meticulous planning and execution. A comprehensive action plan is expected within the next 60 days, outlining key governmental agencies responsible for investments, allocated capital, and implementation timelines.

Establishing a streamlined customs and trade infrastructure is equally critical to facilitate seamless transit, a challenge highlighted by the Trans-Eurasian railway’s 30-country passage through Kazakhstan.

Navigating geopolitical complexities between partner countries, particularly the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, poses another potential hurdle.

Ensuring these nations maintain a unified strategic vision amid differing priorities and interests requires careful diplomatic coordination.

Furthermore, the IMEC will compete directly with the Suez Canal, a well-established and cost-effective maritime route.

While the IMEC may enhance relations with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, it could potentially strain ties with Egypt, prompting critical assessments of the project’s economic viability.

Beyond trade and economics, the IMEC ambitiously aims to incorporate diverse sectors, from electricity grids to cybersecurity.

This multi-dimensional approach aligns with discussions held in security forums like the Quad and, if realized, could significantly contribute to a safer, more sustainable global landscape.

As we contemplate the potential of the IMEC, it is with hope that the lofty ambitions outlined in New Delhi will culminate in a tangible and positive transformation for the world.

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