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‘We were so thrilled to have her’

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Christmas time in Ireland is like a tide. It flows in with thousands of Irish emigrants returning home and ebbs as the same people return to their lives abroad.

All human life eventually ends up at the airport and so it was on the bank holiday Monday after New Year’s Day at Terminal 2 in Dublin Airport with long queues of people filing into departures.

The large silver Christmas trees are still up. It’s still technically Christmas until January 6th but a melancholy air was palpable – long embraces and tearful farewells.

Christmas is a time for taking stock for emigrants about the lives they have and the ones left behind.

For many parents the departures after Christmas also bring ambivalent feelings. On the way hand they will miss their children; on the other they want them to be happy wherever they are.

Misty Doran (right) says goodbye to her daughter Laurel Smith who was departing for Texas.
Misty Doran (right) says goodbye to her daughter Laurel Smith who was departing for Texas.
Róisín Heaney and Kevin Gillycuddy (left), departing for Toronto, wave goodbye to their parents and siblings at Dublin Airport.
Róisín Heaney and Kevin Gillycuddy (left), departing for Toronto, wave goodbye to their parents and siblings at Dublin Airport.

“It’s heart breaking,” said Misty Doran, originally from the United States who said goodbye to her daughters Laurel (21) who is in university in Texas and Addison (14) who is returning to her father who lives in Virginia.

“She [Laurel] left before Covid and she couldn’t be here before now because of it. The flights kept getting cancelled,” said Ms Doran.

“She thought the grass was greener over the other side so she went to university in the United States. She has spent her entire university career on a computer at home because they would not let students come to campus. She is a concept artist for gaming and the company she wants to work for is in Dublin. Her hope is that when she has finished the next two semesters, she wants to come back to Ireland.”

Ben Conroy says goodbye to his fiancee Ciara O’Rourke as she leaves for Chicago.
Ben Conroy says goodbye to his fiancee Ciara O’Rourke as she leaves for Chicago.
Ren Hodnett, from Middleton saying goodbye to boyfriend Brian Li, departing for San Diego.
Ren Hodnett, from Middleton saying goodbye to boyfriend Brian Li, departing for San Diego.

John Hastings and his wife Eilish said goodbye to their daughter Stephanie Hastings who was returning to Vancouver to work in biotechnology.

“We probably saw more of her because of Covid,” said her mother. “She couldn’t go socialising with her other friends. We were so thrilled to have her. She loves Vancouver; she would crack up with Covid in Ireland. It is a lot stricter here. She thought it was 24/7 coverage of Covid here. In Vancouver they just get on with their lives. They are young and they socialise.”

The families of Róisín Heaney from Portlaoise, Co Laois, and Kevin McGillycuddy from Blessington, Co Wicklow, gathered to see them off back to Toronto.

The couple plan to come back to Ireland in August to get married. It will be their fifth attempt in Ireland, the other four were cancelled by Covid-19.

Sean Guinan from Tuam, Co Galway, and his Canadian-born wife Lee were also returning to Toronto. “Our Christmas was very quiet. It was the first time for me to introduce Lee to most of my family and everything was shut down,” said Mr Guinan.

“We made plans five months ago to come over for Christmas and we followed every precaution we could. It made sense that everything is shut down here, but it is disappointing.”

Michael and Geraldine Kenny say goodbye to daughter Olga, her husband Michael and grandchildren Ollie and Maisy.
Michael and Geraldine Kenny say goodbye to daughter Olga, her husband Michael and grandchildren Ollie and Maisy.
Stephanie Hastings says goodbye to parents John and Eilish Hastings and sister Allie before departing for Vancouver.
Stephanie Hastings says goodbye to parents John and Eilish Hastings and sister Allie before departing for Vancouver.

Ren Hodnett from Midleton, Co Cork, said goodbye to her partner Brian Li. The couple live in San Diego, California, and she will be joining him at the weekend.

“I was home for Christmas and it was the first time I was home in two years because of the pandemic,” she said.

“That was really tough, but I do love it there – the sunshine, the beach and the people are fantastic. The work opportunities are great. Missing home is the hardest part, especially not being able to fly home as often as I wanted to.”

Ms Hodnett said there is less of an emphasis in California on Covid-19. “Once people were vaccinated, it became a lot more relaxed. People stopped checking daily cases. We are able to live our lives a bit more openly.”


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Latest Coveney gaffe shows new knack of ‘making small problems big’

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“Don’t mind your press releases,” a Fine Gael source was told by a more experienced hand on their first day in Leinster House; “If you want something out there, just say it in the PP [parliamentary party meeting].”

It’s a truism of Irish politics that these meetings – especially those of the two larger Government parties – leak like the proverbial sieve. This got worse during Covid, when virtual meetings meant members were unencumbered by the need to even appear interested, and journalists were freely briefed in real time. The content of the meeting, coupled with the observations of parliamentarians – arch, knowing, and unfiltered – populated twitter streams and news copy.

So, when Simon Coveney’s remarks about his surprise at the meeting between the Russian ambassador to Ireland and the head of the defence forces were promptly headline news, it can’t have been too much of a shock. “He knows he’s speaking at the leakiest meeting in Leinster House,” observed a source present.

Still, some in the room thought when Michael Creed raised the issue, Coveney would just “warble on like you normally do”. Instead, after a gap of several minutes while other questions were fielded, the Minister for Defence bit down. He said he was “surprised to put it mildly”, several sources present said, and questioned the judgement of it.

Afterwards, sources close to Coveney quickly asserted the Minister meant the tweet from the Russians, and the accompanying picture, were the issue, not the meeting. But multiple sources at the parliamentary party interpreted it as referring to the meeting, and what’s more, as a direct rebuke to the chief of staff. “The tone I got was he was f***ing livid,” said one source.

Either way, the remark was leaked, it was controversial, and early the next morning, Coveney was mending fences in the Dáil, expressing confidence in Clancy and contrition for having brought him into the line of political fire.

A kind interpretation, offered by some at the meeting, is that he feels honour-bound to respond fully to questions from parliamentary colleagues. There is likely truth to that. But equally, many believe he would have known his comments would have been controversial, open to interpretation as a rebuke to the head of the Defence Forces, and that it was meant as a shot across the bows.

Others postulate that – perhaps more worryingly – he didn’t detect the political risk inherent in the remarks, which the Opposition would say had undermined the Chief of Staff . “Simon should have known this was going to result in public comment,” said another person there.

That, in truth is the bigger concern – that Coveney’s bad run of form is down to a blunted political dexterity. “You’d know by the way he said it he wasn’t trying to cause controversy,” one colleague said – adding that it was, however, evidence of Coveney’s new knack of “making small problems into big ones”.

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Greenman OPEN acquires German retail portfolio for €90m

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Greenman OPEN has acquired three retail parks for a combined value of circa €90m. The newly purchased portfolio includes a retail centre in Sonneberg, Rastal Centre in Hohr-Grenzhausen, and a new supermarket located in Markneukirchen.

 

The retail centre in Sonneberg comprises 33,145m² of lettable space and is one of the largest assets in the fund portfolio. It is fully occupied and anchored by EDEKA Marktkauf. Deriving 84% of its income from “essential” retailers, of which 60% is from grocery retailers, the centre will generate consistent income over its long nine-year WARLT.

 

The new turnkey Rastal Centre in Hohr-Grenzhausen offers 13,793m²,  and is anchored by Lidl and Aldi. The high weighted average remaining lease term (WARLT) of the centre, 12.5 years, will ensure income generation for the fund for the long term.

 

The brand-new supermarket in Markneukirchen is also let to EDEKA on a new 15-year lease term and forms part of the developer framework agreement signed with Schroder.

 

In line with OPEN’s ESG strategy to be carbon neutral by 2040, all newly acquired centres fit into the fund’s ESG framework. In Sonneberg, the centre operates at a reduced energy consumption rate compared to the average for a property of its size and usage. Simultaneously, it is compatible with OPEN’s plans to implement PV solar panels for renewable energy generation. The brand-new development in Hohr-Grenzhausen will be built to a minimum silver DGNB standard.

 

Commenting on OPEN’s acquisitions and growth milestone, James McEvoy, Head of Acquisitions for Greenman, said: “Reaching €1bn of AUM is a significant milestone for the OPEN fund and underlines our sector expertise. As we grow further, we’re paying particular attention to ensuring that all OPEN’s assets are fit for the future shape of the grocery retail sector, incorporating ESG criteria, new technology and innovation to improve how physical assets support the grocery retail model of the future. Having surpassed our €1bn AUM target in 2021, we will continue to use our market-leading expertise in the German food retail sector to source the best opportunities for investors. We have a locked-in pipeline of assets in place to grow the fund further this year and are targeting to achieve €3bn AUM by 2027.”

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Katie Price’s Mucky Mansion viewers question how bankrupt star can afford renovations

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Katie Price‘s Mucky Mansion sparked a flurry of reaction from viewers when it was finally broadcast on Channel 4 on Wednesday night.

For many fans, it sparked questions around how the reality star can afford to make such drastic renovations to her £2 million West Sussex home, after she was declared bankrupt in 2019.

Taking to Twitter, many viewers also shared their thoughts around the ‘ill-timed’ series, which aired just five days after Katie was arrested on suspiction of breaking her restraining order.

Thoughts: Katie Price's Mucky Mansion sparked a flurry of reaction from viewers when it was finally broadcast on Channel 4 on Wednesday night

Thoughts: Katie Price’s Mucky Mansion sparked a flurry of reaction from viewers when it was finally broadcast on Channel 4 on Wednesday night

In the show, Katie reveals her plans to completely transform her mansion, after a string of personal woes including a stint in The Priory in 2019. 

Along with fixing the damage caused by a break-in at her home, the star is told her house is rife with damp and mould, adding yet more work for her team of builders.

However, by the end of the opening episode, Katie revealed she’d finished transforming her son Jett’s bedroom, unveiling the jungle-themed room to her children.

Really? For many fans, it sparked questions around how the star can afford to make such renovations to her £2 million West Sussex home, after she was declared bankrupt in 2019

Really? For many fans, it sparked questions around how the star can afford to make such renovations to her £2 million West Sussex home, after she was declared bankrupt in 2019

Given Katie’s bold plans for the home, which include re-doing the entire kitchen, new floors, and removing the dark woodwork, many viewers were perplexed how she could afford the renovations.

The series, filmed months earlier, came after the star was declared bankrupt, and she is currently in the midst of paying back creditors, with a hearing scheduled to take place next month.

Other viewers noted the awkward timing of the series, days after Katie was arrested for allegedly breaching her restraining order by sending abusive messages to her ex-husband Kieran Hayler’s fiancée Michelle Penticost.

Changes: In the show, Katie reveals her plans to completely transform her mansion, after a string of personal woes including a stint in The Priory in 2019

 Changes: In the show, Katie reveals her plans to completely transform her mansion, after a string of personal woes including a stint in The Priory in 2019

Wow! By the end of the opening episode, Katie revealed she'd finished transforming her son Jett's bedroom, unveiling the jungle-themed room to her children

Wow! By the end of the opening episode, Katie revealed she’d finished transforming her son Jett’s bedroom, unveiling the jungle-themed room to her children

However, some fans were quick to slam trolls for piling on Katie, praising the star for her clear devotion to her family. 

One wrote: ‘@Channel4 have totally misjudged the mood of the nation in giving Katie Price a TV show. There may still be some deluded fans that don’t care that she exploits her disabled son and has been caught drink and drug driving 6x, but it’s only a small %.’

‘Channel 4 knocking out a house renovation for Katie Price, nice that, who’s next, Fred and Rose getting their back garden done? Ridiculous?’ another wrote.

Awkward! Given Katie's bold plans for the home many viewers were perplexed how she could afford the renovations, with many noting the 'ill timing' of the series days after her arrest

Awkward! Given Katie’s bold plans for the home many viewers were perplexed how she could afford the renovations, with many noting the ‘ill timing’ of the series days after her arrest

A third tweeted: ‘I thought Katie Price was bankrupt? How is she affording these renovations? Genuinely interested to know!’

‘Anyone else remember when Channel 4 were cool, making cutting-edge and ground-breaking telly? F**k me…’ one added.

A fan also posted: ‘I’ve always thought Katie Price’s vacuous persona was a deceptive facade. It turns out she really is awful.’

Rage: Many viewers took to social media to share their reaction, with some slamming Channel 4 for broadcasting the show after Katie's arrest

Rage: Many viewers took to social media to share their reaction, with some slamming Channel 4 for broadcasting the show after Katie’s arrest

‘Just when you think the UK couldn’t sink any lower… you see that #MuckyMansion is trending at number 1,’ a fan also posted.

‘@Channel4 aren’t you a bit embarassed showing this, recently caught drunk/drug driving and breaking a restraining order and you still show this!’ a viewer wrote.

One added: ‘How does she get to keep her house when she’s bankrupt?’ 

Hitting back: However, some fans were quick to slam trolls for piling on Katie, praising the star for her clear devotion to her family

Hitting back: However, some fans were quick to slam trolls for piling on Katie, praising the star for her clear devotion to her family

Defending Katie, one fan wrote: ‘Really enjoyed the show and Jetts room looked great and more importantly he loved it! Can’t wait to see the rest of the transformations. 

‘Despite what people may think about @KatiePrice its clear how much she loves her kids and how important sorting out her home is.’

Another added: ‘Katie has been through so many ups and downs it’s no wonder her mental health has suffered and awful, sad things have happened. Good on her for pushing towards and working to support herself and her kids.’

‘Everyone slating Katie Price need to be ashamed yes she has made bad choices but for her to want to get back in her house after all the bad memories and wanting to start again good on her! No one’s perfect!’ a third continued. 

Oops! It was previously reported that Katie landed a £45,000 payday for the Channel 4 series, and avoided paying a penny for renovations to her 'Mucky Mansion'

Oops! It was previously reported that Katie landed a £45,000 payday for the Channel 4 series, and avoided paying a penny for renovations to her ‘Mucky Mansion’

It was previously reported that Katie landed a £45,000 payday for the Channel 4 series, and avoided paying a penny for renovations to her ‘Mucky Mansion.’

Despite the multiple renovations that were needed to her West Sussex mansion, Katie paid nothing towards the costs, while receiving a hefty fee for starring in the series.

A source told The Sun: ‘Katie hit the jackpot with the show – she got a £45,000 fee and didn’t have to put any of her own money into the project. 

‘The costs are being paid by the production company and she’s landed a lot of freebies from companies who want the exposure of being on her show or her social media.’

A spokesperson for Channel 4 told MailOnline: ‘Production did not pay for the costs of any renovations of the house.’

Katie was arrested on Friday on suspicion of breaching her restraining order after she allegedly branded her ex-husband Kieran Hayler’s fiancée Michelle Penticost a ‘gutter sl*g’ in ‘abusive messages’. 

Following her release after a 12-hour interrogation, with officers now examining her phone for evidence, Carl was said to be ‘furious and embarrassed’ at her behaviour, but an insider claimed that he has ‘zero intention’ of leaving her. 

Katie, who was handed a five-year restraining order forbidding her from contacting Michelle directly or indirectly in 2019 after hurling a ‘tirade of abuse’ at her, could now face up to five years in prison if she is charged and found guilty. 

Katie Price’s Mucky Mansion continues on Wednesday at 9pm on Channel 4.

Trouble: Katie was arrested on Friday on suspicion of breaching her restraining order after she allegedly branded her ex-husband Kieran Hayler's fiancée Michelle Penticost (pictured in 2020) a 'gutter sl*g' in 'abusive messages'

Trouble: Katie was arrested on Friday on suspicion of breaching her restraining order after she allegedly branded her ex-husband Kieran Hayler’s fiancée Michelle Penticost (pictured in 2020) a ‘gutter sl*g’ in ‘abusive messages’

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