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Allegations by Garda whistleblower not substantiated, inquiry finds

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A lengthy inquiry into serious allegations made by Garda whistleblower Nicky Keogh has ruled that they were not substantiated.

The Disclosures Tribunal has published its latest report after hearings held during 2019 and 2020 into complaints by Garda Keogh that he was targeted after he made a voluntary disclosure.

“Garda Keogh complained to this tribunal that senior officers of An Garda Síochána targeted or discredited him following the protected disclosure that he made on 8th May 2014,” Mr Justice Sean Ryan said in his report, published on Thursday.

“The tribunal in this report details its consideration of all of the instances of targeting and discrediting that Garda Keogh set out in his complaint and is satisfied on the evidence that the complaints are not justified.”

The case does not reveal evidence of the conduct envisaged by the Oireachtas in its mandate to the inquiry in the term of reference that led to the lengthy pubic hearings, the judge said.

“This is not to say that everything that happened in relation to Garda Keogh was satisfactory.

“Neither does it mean that Garda Keogh acted in bad faith.

“It is important, however, in fairness to the serving and retired garda officers whom Garda Keogh accused of serious misconduct, to state that the tribunal finds that the charges are not substantiated.”

‘Febrile’ atomosphere

Among those against whom Garda Keogh made allegations was the former Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan.

“The political atmosphere in 2014 in regard to garda and justice matters was febrile, with allegations of scandal and maltreatment of whistleblowers, including the shocking story of Sergeant Maurice McCabe,” the judge said.

“Many in the media and political worlds suspected An Garda Síochána of cover-ups and wrongdoing,” he said.

He said Garda Keogh was predisposed to suspicion of the Garda investigation set up to examine his complaints, and of its leader, Donall O Cualain, whom he saw as part of the force’s establishment.

“Somehow this led him to the extreme conclusion that the assistant commissioner was intent on sabotaging the investigation he was appointed to head.”

Garda Keogh accepted that there was no evidence to back up this jaundiced view of the officer but held on to the belief, notwithstanding that he came to trust the senior detectives who were conducting and directing the enquiries, the judge said.

“Garda Keogh saw himself as a person engaged in a struggle with the establishment of a large and malign organisation that was determined to do him down because he had pointed out corruption.”

Garda Keogh’s involvement in political affairs seems likely to have added its measure of mental pressure, the judge said, referring to the Garda’s dealings with a number of politicians.

“Also, his resort to alcohol as a means of alleviating stress may well have done the opposite to the intended effect.”

Garda Keogh’s complaint to the tribunal listed twenty-two occasions where he alleged he had been targeted, although he did not proceed with all of these issues at the public hearing.

“The abandoned issues included a very serious and damaging one in which he alleged that former Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan telephoned Superintendent Pat Murray in April 2015 to tell him to pull away from Garda Keogh and to isolate him.

“Garda Keogh told the tribunal that he could not remember who had told him about the alleged phone call. Obviously, the claim was taken very seriously by the former Commissioner and also by Supt Murray.

“The former Commissioner and the superintendent were left without any explanation of how this allegation came to be made.”

The allegation against the officers is one example where the judge said that Garda Keogh made complaints for which there was no evidence, and which were illustrative of his “state of mind”.

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Detached homes see average values up £60k during the pandemic says Halifax

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The pandemic property boom has been driven by a surge in demand for larger homes, new research has revealed.

The average value of a detached home in Britain has risen at almost twice the rate for flats, according to the data from Halifax and IHS Markit.

Buyers can expect to pay on average £425,177 for a detached property, which is an increase of £60,556 or 17 per cent since March 2020.

Buyers can expect to pay on average £425,177 for a detached property, which is an increase of £60,556 or 17 per cent since the March 2020

Buyers can expect to pay on average £425,177 for a detached property, which is an increase of £60,556 or 17 per cent since the March 2020

It compares to an increase of around 9 per cent for a typical flat during the same period, where values have risen on average £13,325 to an average of £158,992.

At the same time, the average price of a terrace property has risen 15 per cent or £27,715 to £213,798, while semi-detached also rose 15 per cent or £36,841 to £280,090.

HOUSE PRICES BY PROPERTY TYPE
All Houses All Buyers UK Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 15.40% 9.10% 14.90% 15.10% 16.60%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £33,820 £13,325 £27,715 £36,841 £60,556
Average price Dec 2021 £276,091 £158,992 £213,798 £280,090 £425,177
Source: Halifax/IHS Markit        

The data also highlighted the widening of the gaps between each type of home, with flat owners expected to spend an extra £54,806 to upsize to a typical terrace house, compared to £40,416 in March 2020.

At the same time, those currently in a terrace would need a further £66,292 to own a semi-detached home, compared to £57,166 in March 2020.

Meanwhile, home movers hoping to switch from a semi-detached to a detached property need an additional £145,087, compared to £121,371 in March 2020.

REGIONAL HOUSE PRICE CHANGES BY TYPE
% Change (since Mar ’20) All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
East of England 13.00% 7.40% 14.20% 14.80% 14.30%
Northern Ireland 14.30% -2.40% 15.20% 16.70% 13.40%
South West 18.40% 10.90% 19.00% 19.50% 20.20%
London 6.40% 0.70% 6.80% 7.60% 12.40%
Scotland 12.10% 9.60% 14.20% 13.70% 16.30%
West Midlands 14.60% 7.10% 12.60% 15.50% 17.40%
East Midlands 15.50% 12.10% 16.50% 17.50% 19.00%
North West 18.20% 13.40% 18.80% 17.00% 21.90%
Wales 21.90% 11.70% 25.10% 21.20% 24.40%
North East 14.40% 14.30% 19.80% 11.80% 15.50%
South East 13.10% 7.40% 13.70% 13.80% 15.40%
Yorkshire 16.50% 4.30% 15.40% 17.00% 18.30%
Source:  Halifax/IHS Markit        

Wales and the North West saw the greatest increase in detached home prices, up 24.4 per cent and 21.9 per cent respectively.

The most expensive detached homes are in London, at an average £910,568. The 12.4 per cent increase is almost double the average of all property types in the capital.

Russell Galley, managing director, Halifax, said: ‘Record numbers of moves have been taking place throughout the pandemic, with the demand for detached homes now greater than for any other property type, meaning the competition for those looking to buy an often larger property is fierce.

‘As employers began to crystalise longer-term plans for home and hybrid working, buyers have been able to consider homes further afield as the need to commute falls away, with properties previously considered too remote now giving families extras like garden rooms and home offices.

This trend means Wales, with its beautiful countryside and lower relative property prices, saw the strongest growth in detached homes over the past two years.’

REGIONAL HOUSE PRICES BY PROPERTY TYPE DURING THE PANDEMIC
East of England All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 13.00% 7.40% 14.20% 14.80% 14.30%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £36,767 £13,340 £34,669 £45,351 £63,141
Average Price Dec 2021 £319,447 £192,721 £279,087 £352,699 £505,379
Northern Ireland All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 14.30% -2.40% 15.20% 16.70% 13.40%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £21,448 -£2,327 £14,027 £22,012 £25,600
Average Price Dec 2021 £170,946 £94,922 £106,105 £153,917 £217,226
South West All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 18.40% 10.90% 19.00% 19.50% 20.20%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £44,773 £17,038 £38,716 £49,973 £76,380
Average Price Dec 2021 £287,774 £173,502 £242,285 £306,171 £454,133
London All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 6.40% 0.70% 6.80% 7.60% 12.40%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £31,724 £2,657 £33,159 £44,891 £100,525
Average Price Dec 2021 £525,351 £371,744 £520,359 £635,422 £910,568
Scotland All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 12.10% 9.60% 14.20% 13.70% 16.30%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £20,795 £9,789 £18,433 £23,357 £39,783
Average Price Dec 2021 £192,988 £112,075 £148,224 £193,975 £283,214
West Mids All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 14.60% 7.10% 12.60% 15.50% 17.40%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £29,778 £8,625 £20,532 £33,265 £57,685
Average Price Dec 2021 £234,263 £129,851 £184,061 £247,881 £389,553
East Midlands All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 15.50% 12.10% 16.50% 17.50% 19.00%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £30,275 £13,536 £24,346 £33,919 £57,186
Average Price Dec 2021 £225,106 £125,563 £171,686 £227,336 £358,441
North West All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 18.20% 13.40% 18.80% 17.00% 21.90%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £32,591 £14,070 £24,426 £31,917 £63,229
Average Price Dec 2021 £211,954 £118,979 £154,308 £219,294 £351,887
Wales All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 21.90% 11.70% 25.10% 21.20% 24.40%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £36,917 £11,570 £30,111 £34,639 £62,688
Average Price Dec 2021 £205,579 £110,318 £149,966 £197,768 £319,492
North East All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 14.40% 14.30% 19.80% 11.80% 15.50%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £20,162 £11,527 £20,071 £17,666 £37,373
Average Price Dec 2021 £159,694 £92,214 £121,187 £166,876 £278,863
South East All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 13.10% 7.40% 13.70% 13.80% 15.40%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £43,298 £15,502 £38,704 £49,203 £78,220
Average Price Dec 2021 £374,454 £223,610 £320,944 £404,648 £586,781
Yorkshire All Flat Terraced Semi-Detached Detached
% Change (since Mar ’20) 16.50% 4.30% 15.40% 17.00% 18.30%
Price Change (since Mar ’20) £27,192 £4,708 £19,442 £29,624 £50,192
Average Price Dec 2021 £192,210 £114,535 £146,081 £203,805 £324,581
Source: Halifax/IHS Markit         

North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf said: ’Soaring demand for detached homes is not surprising as we are seeing buyers prepared to stretch themselves to purchase properties which they regard as for the longer term, rather than settling for smaller houses or flats. 

These buyers are often using money saved during lockdown by not going on holiday or other spending, to contribute towards their deposit. They are also taking advantage of continuing low interest rates even though the threat of higher repayments and inflation is looming.

‘Detached homes have long been the pinnacle in terms of what people aim for when buying property. They are popular because they offer flexibility, privacy, control and independence, which isn’t always the case with semi-detached or terraced properties where there is an element of shared space or boundaries, increasing the risk of conflict.

‘Price growth has been strongest in Wales because often affordability is greater in those markets in the first place. We have noticed the drift from the centre of towns and cities to the suburbs, country and coastal areas as people get more accustomed to hybrid working and not having to spend as much time in the centre. They are looking for higher-quality outside space and the ability to work comfortably from home.’

Separate research by Coutts found that demand has also been high for luxury leafy lodgings in the capital.

It said that sales for super prime homes worth £10million or more jumped from 56 in 2020 to 106 in 2021.

Peter Flavel, of Coutts, said: ‘For many investors these prime and super prime properties provide the opportunity to put funds into assets that offer the space they need as hybrid living continues to influence lifestyle choices.’

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Lisa Smith travelled to Turkey to study under Isis propagandist, court told

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Lisa Smith, a former Defence Forces member who denies membership of Islamic State (Isis), travelled to Turkey to become a student of a famous Islamic convert who wrote Isis propaganda, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Michael O’Higgins SC, for Ms Smith, read out a message exchange in 2013 between his client and an American Islamic scholar John Georgelas, who was living in Egypt at the time.

Counsel said Mr Georgelas asked Ms Smith to travel to Egypt to study under him and said he would pay her to help his wife, Tania Joya, take care of their children.

Ms Smith replied: “I wouldn’t dream of accepting any money for looking after your children. If I can get the benefit of your knowledge as your student that would be more than enough payment for me.”

Mr Georgelas left Egypt with Ms Joya and arranged to meet Ms Smith in Turkey.

Ms Joya, giving evidence for a second day, told Mr O’Higgins that her husband was clever and manipulative and in 2013 was communicating with Ms Smith every day over the internet.

She said he was a respected scholar who could “overwhelm” people with his knowledge of scripture. She told Sean Gillane SC, for the prosecution, that Georgelas wrote for magazines Dabiq and Rumiyah that publish Isis propaganda

Ms Smith (39), from Dundalk, Co Louth, has pleaded not guilty to membership of an unlawful terrorist group, Islamic State, between October 28th, 2015 and December 1st, 2019. She has also pleaded not guilty to financing terrorism by sending €800 in assistance, via a Western Union money transfer, to a named man on May 6th, 2015.

Her trial is continuing in front of Mr Justice Tony Hunt, Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge Cormac Dunne at the three-judge, non-jury court.

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Rioja Estates and TORG International partner for two outlet village projects

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TORG International has partnered with leading UK outlet developer Rioja Estates for the development of two new outlets in Sweden and the UK, Malmo Designer Village and Grantham Designer Outlet Village. Both schemes have already secured planning consent, with Grantham being under construction with the opening scheduled for Autumn 2023. The Malmo outlet is expected to open in Summer 2025.

 

Conveniently located in close proximity to the Danish border, Malmo Designer Village benefits from a significant catchment area. The scheme is expected to rank in the top 25% of outlet centres in Europe in terms of traffic and is predicted to generate above-average sales density.

 

Grantham Designer Outlet Village is located on the country’s third most travelled motorway, the A1 connecting London with Northern England, and is projected to attract 3.5 million visitors annually. A lack of retail competition in the immediate area means that Grantham Designer Outlet Village will achieve significantly greater penetration of its catchment than the UK outlet industry average of 3%, namely for Phase One 7.7% and for Phase Two 8.5%.

 

Says Robert van den Heuvel, Partner Development & Leasing TORG International: “It was at Mapic 2021 that we established this new collaboration with Giles Membrey and his team at Rioja Estates, whom we have known for many years. We were impressed by the quality of their two latest developments in Sweden and the UK and are therefore delighted to be able to share our enthusiasm with the tenant community and industry at large.“

 

Adds Barbara Horatz, Partner Marketing & Retail TORG International: “We feel that both developments meet all the key criteria for a successful future outlet – the strategic location on a major motorway axis, important catchment, strong tourism potential, significant size, qualitative and sustainable architecture. There are not many strategic spots left in Europe for outlet developments and we definitely consider Malmo and Grantham as two of them.”

 

Concludes Giles Membrey: “We see Malmo and Grantham as the beginning of a great collaboration for our two companies –  there are many more opportunities for joint outlet developments that we see ahead of us and that we are already discussing, be it in Europe or in any of the other major markets globally.”

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