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Garda chief apologies over officer’s remarks about legal profession

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Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has apologised to the High Court for comments made by a garda disparaging the legal profession, saying they are interested only in money.

In a judgment on Tuesday, Ms Justice Tara Burns strongly criticised the force for the manner in which it dealt with an immigration case involving two Malaysian women and said she was “shocked” by the remarks of one of the gardaí.

According to the two women, gardaí appeared to pressure them into leaving the country despite the fact that they had lodged appeals and a stay had been placed on their deportation.

The judge had considered holding the garda in contempt but decided against it in light of the apology and the fact that the officers were unaware a stay had been placed on the deportation order when they visited the women.

In a statement, the commissioner apologised to the court on behalf of An Garda Síochána regarding any “inappropriate” comments made about the legal profession. These comments were withdrawn, he said.

He said the Garda “fully recognises the fundamental right of any individual to take legal advice as necessary and to bring court proceedings on foot of same”.

The facts of the case would be “reviewed from a policy-and-lessons-learned perspective to ensure that the necessary mitigants are put in place to reduce the risk of any reoccurrence of this type”, said the commissioner.

The judge said it was “very surprising” this apology did not extend to the two women and their solicitors who were the subject of the garda’s comments.

In December 2020, the two women arrived in Ireland for an English-language course. Immigration gardaí refused them permission to remain as the course was being conducted online due to Covid-19. Immigration rules do not allow non-EU students to reside in Ireland to take a distance-learning course.

The women took a High Court case and on March 10th, 2021, the State agreed to stay any deportation order until seven days after the handing down of any judgment. This came on March 23rd, upholding the decision of the immigration gardaí.

Lawyers for the two women applied for permission to lodge an appeal three days later and a further stay on their deportation was granted pending this decision.

However, the next day two gardaí visited one of the women up for deportation. Unbeknown to the gardaí the woman recorded the conversation. She said in an affidavit, which was accepted as factual by the judge, that one of the gardaí told her “if she did not leave the jurisdiction voluntarily [she] could be arrested, detained and deported”.

The garda told her she should not have gone to court and that her solicitor was just interested in money.

Contempt proceedings

The next day, two gardaí visited the other woman’s house. According to her affidavit she was told she had wasted Government money and should not waste any further money on lawyers. She was also asked how she was going to pay for her case.

Contempt proceedings were brought against the Garda during which one of the detectives said the conversation with the first woman had lasted five minutes, when the recording showed it lasted 16.

He accepted he had told the woman “she should not have gone to court; that money had been wasted on solicitors and barristers, that solicitors were only interested in money, that the tax man was paying for the solicitor and that that is going to come to a stop”.

He told the court he did not mean to offend anyone and that his comments were “maybe a foolish attempt on my behalf to exert some leverage to bring this matter to an end”.

The judge called the garda’s remarks to the woman “shocking” and “far more serious” than merely foolish. She noted with alarm that the detective admitted he was trying to “exercise leverage on the applicants by speaking of their solicitors in these disparaging terms”.

However, she accepted the garda did not know a stay had been placed on the women’s deportation. The judge called the failure to communicate the stay to gardaí “a matter of grave concern to the court”.

“The court can only hope that that is the case and that events of this nature are an aberration in terms of how An Garda Síochána conduct their business. What occurred in this case should not occur again.”

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IHG to open new hotel in Brussels (BE)

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IHG Hotels & Resorts (IHG) announced the signing of voco Brussels City North, marking entry into a new market. Due to open in autumn 2023, the 92-key voco Brussels City North property will be operated by Prem Group, a strong partner for IHG in the region. The state-of-the-art hotel will feature a restaurant and conference centre and will adjoin the Innovation Centre, which is already open on the site, to create a hub for hospitality innovation and a truly stimulating environment.

 

Located to the north of the city, the hotel will feature a striking 50-metre tower with huge glass windows providing panoramic views of the Brussels skyline. The site itself will be Europe’s largest experimental lab for creating ideas and a vision for the future. In line with voco hotels ethos, voco Brussels City North will stand out from the crowd and give guests a different choice.

 

Willemijn Geels, VP Development Europe, IHG Hotels & Resorts, said: “I’m delighted to announce that we are partnering with Living Tomorrow to bring voco hotels to Belgium. We know that Brussels is a strong market for branded properties, and we are confident that the voco hotels’ brand will fit well with the goal of creating a truly innovative hub on this unique site.”

 

Yin Oei, CEO, Living Tomorrow, said: “Living Tomorrow is focused on driving the future and we’re excited to partner with IHG to develop this exciting hotel – the first voco in Belgium. The values of voco hotels fit well with our desire to innovate and push boundaries and we know that the strength of the IHG systems will provide a stable platform from which to innovate.”

 

 

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Mitheridge and London Green unveil plans for Lambeth mix-use scheme (GB)

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Mitheridge Capital Management and London Green have unveiled plans for a residential-led, mixed-use development in Lambeth, south London. The project will make use of a former industrial site in Loughborough Junction, Lambeth, while also protecting the adjacent intersecting Victorian railway viaducts which remain a rich heritage asset.

 

Managing Partner of Mitheridge William Yerburgh said: “London desperately needs more homes. We believe strongly in an approach to housing provision that is affordable but also enhances the character and vibrancy of local communities. Our partnership with London Green will show that new housing provision can deliver for everyone.”

 

Daniel Rastegar, Investment Director at Mitheridge commented: “We are excited to work with London Green to deliver a scheme that will contribute positively to this area of Lambeth, both by providing highly sustainable, high-quality homes as well as new industrial space for SMEs.”

 

Harry Green, Director at London Green added: “This represents yet another opportunity to develop an underutilised site into a mixed community of sustainable homes and workplaces. We look forward to working with best-in-class consultants and contractors to deliver the vision that we share with Mitheridge Capital Management”.

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IIProp grows its presence in Spain

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IIProp (International Industrial Properties) has successfully delivered the initial phase of its built-to-suit project in the Spanish city of Murcia. The joint venture has also launched a new development project at a prime location in Nadarzyn, Warsaw South, Poland. The scheme is located in Murcia’s San Andres industrial park and offers 22,346m². The project is set to add another building of over 23,000m², bringing the total development area to 46,600m² GLA. Construction of a 23,000m² follow-on component is under way and scheduled for completion in January 2023. The project marks an important milestone for the IIProp’s expansion in Spain, where the platform has secured pipeline for development of some 63,000m² GLA in the Murcia and Barcelona regions. The development comes with excellent connectivity and visibility as it sits alongside the A7 highway, part of the Mediterranean transit corridor that links Spanish and Portuguese ports with mainland Europe. The project is set to obtain “Very Good” BREEAM certificate, which will be supported by green solutions such as solar panels, charging stations for electric cars, power sockets for electric bicycles and scooters as well as bicycle parking space and a bee shelter.

 

Nebil Senman, Managing Partner at Griffin Capital Partners, said: “The logistics market in Europe experienced an unprecedented growth during the pandemic and despite the geopolitical turmoil the tenant demand remains strong. We selectively are developing projects in Murcia and Warsaw with highest ESG standards and securing highest tenant covenants to fulfill core investor’s requirements. We plan to continue to build up carefully our European logistics footprint by selectively adding projects in core European markets as well as through converting our well-positioned land bank into standing assets.”

 

Maciej Dyjas, Managing Partner at Griffin Capital Partners, commented: “The projects in Murcia and Warsaw are another success stories in our strategic partnership with Panattoni. We continue to screen new European markets for entry and already begun working on potential development projects in countries like France, Italy, and Austria. In parallel, the IIProp’s pipeline stands at ca. 430,000m² GLA, despite latest disposals completed in Germany.

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