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Housing is ‘number one’ crisis facing young people – Taoiseach

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin has acknowledged that housing is the biggest challenge facing the country, and said that the Government is working to produce a policy to tackle the issue of cuckoo funds buying up estates.

Mr Martin said the Government fully recognised that the current generation of young people were the most disadvantaged of all such generations when it came to buying affordable homes.

“Anything we can do in terms of housing, we are going to do because it’s the No 1 crisis facing the people, young people in particular who are in search of a new home – that’s something that worries me a lot,” he said.

The past week has seen revelations that foreign investment funds are buying up entire new estates in Maynooth and parts of Dublin and the Government has been urged to act promptly to prevent similar moves elsewhere.

Mr Martin said that Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe and Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien are working on a strategy, including changes in taxation, to prevent a repeat of such practices.

“Paschal Donohoe is looking at the situation from his perspective, taxation and Darragh O’Brien is also looking at it from a planning perspective … when we have precise, specific proposals, then that is the time to announce them.”

Mr Martin played down the importance of a report in the Irish Mail on Sunday which said that Mr O’Brien had invested in one such fund when working in the financial sector prior to his election as a TD.

According to Mr O’Brien’s Oireachtas Dáil Register of Interests, he invested savings with a global Real Estate Investment Trust (Reit) run by Standard Life Assurance but relinquished his shares in 2009.

Mr Martin said he had not seen The Mail on Sunday report but investment funds entering the Irish market to invest in high-density builds for rent was not unusual at the time as the market was at a low ebb and little was happening.

He said that the situation had changed hugely from then and the State was now the major player in the housing market but the challenges remained huge to provide the necessary housing to cater for demographic changes.

‘New initiatives’

Mr Martin also played down suggestions of a rift between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael over housing amid suggestions Mr O’Brien came in for some criticism from Fine Gael TDs at last week’s parliamentary party meeting.

Mr O’Brien is to take the unusual step of addressing Fine Gael’s private meeting of TDs and Senators in the coming weeks.

“I think that is a positive development and as far as we are concerned, Daragh has hit the ground running in terms of housing – quite a number of new initiatives have come forward, even from last July with the Voids programme.

“That was where we put money aside to get houses that had fallen into disuse, local authority houses, and we brought back about 3,000 plus in a short space of time into use within six months which is very, very good work.”

Mr Martin said that this year the State will provide some 12,750 social houses for people of which 9,000 will be new builds and while Covid-19 had affected the targets so far, he hoped that they would still be met by year’s end.

He pointed out that last year there were 20,000 built but 8,000 of those were social housing, suggesting that the private sector was no longer as strong in Ireland as it was in the past when banks lending money drove construction.

“The big player in the housing market at the moment is the State. We will provide 12,750 social houses – 9.500 of those we want to build – ow some of those targets have been hit by Covid but we hope we can pick it up

“So when you take last year there was only 20,000 houses built – 8,000 of those were social houses so the private sector is not strong actually in Ireland as it once was – banks drove housing in earlier eras through financing, they are no longer doing that.

“The State actually through one scheme or another is the big actor now in housing provision and what was announced last week by the Minister [Darragh O’Brien] relates to affordable housing,” he said.

Mr Martin said that there were now a number of schemes such as the Serviced Sites Fund, the Shared Equity Scheme, the Help to Buy Scheme which were designed to deal with the affordability issue for first-time buyers.

Mr Martin said that notwithstanding the impact Covid-19 restrictions had on the construction industry in the first months of the year, he was still hopeful that the sector would be able to deliver the 25,000 new homes target.

“Housing is a huge challenge and we need to get to about 33,000 per annum to provide for the demand that’s out there – when this Government came into office, we were doing about 20,000 odd – this year we had targeted 25,000.”

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Teenager who killed dog by kicking it twice is jailed for six months

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A teenager who killed a dog by kicking it so hard it went above the head of its owner has been jailed for six months.

Josh Henney (19) twice kicked the dog in its underbelly while its owner was speaking with his mother.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the dog, who was a cross between a Jack Russell Terrier and a Yorkshire Terrier, was named Sam and was approximately 10 months old at the time.

Henney of North William Street, Dublin City centre, pleaded guilty to killing a protected animal at his address on March 23rd, 2020. He has 36 previous convictions and is currently serving a sentence of two years with the final six months suspended for an offence of violent disorder.

Garda Adam McGrane told Dara Hayes BL, prosecuting, that on the date in question, the injured party was on North William Street with her dog and was speaking with Henney’s mother.

Gda McGrane said Henney was having an argument with his mother and was shouting from a window. Henney then came out of the flat and told the injured party to “f**k off out of here and mind your own business”.

The garda said Henney told the woman that he would “f**king kill your dog”. Henney then took a run up of around two metres and kicked the dog in their underbelly. The dog was kicked so hard it went above the head their owner.

Henney walked away, then took a second run at the dog and kicked the dog again in their underbelly. The dog’s breathing was laboured following the second kick and saliva with blood was coming from their mouth.

The dog, which could not walk or drink, was carried by their owner to a veterinary practice and was still alive upon arrival. The dog was put under anaesthetic, but died while undergoing treatment.

Multiple fractures and fissures

The court heard that Dr Alan Wolfe, who performed the autopsy on the dog, found multiple fractures and fissures to the dog’s liver. Dr Wolfe found all of the injuries were consistent with the dog dying of blood loss due to acute trauma.

Mr Hayes told the court that the injured party in the case has no children and told gardaí­ that the dog was like family to her and went with her wherever she went.

Gda McGrane agreed with Cathal McGreal BL, defending, that his client told gardaí­ he had lost his temper and did not really remember what happened. He agreed the accused told gardaí­ he had not been able to sleep remembering the dog screaming and wished to apologise for what he did.

Mr McGreal said his client very much regrets what he did. He said his client claims he never told the victim that he would kill the dog.

Counsel said his client’s father was shot in Malaga in front of Henney when he was aged 14. He said that his client told a psychologist that the offence was a “horrible thing to do” and that he wants to get help so he does not do anything like that again.

Mr McGreal said his client’s mother smoked heroin and his client caught her doing so as a child. He said the presence of the injured party was a “triggering factor” and that there was “a heroin taking relationship going on”.

Counsel said there is no gainsaying that what his client did but he is sorry for it and it haunts him.

On Tuesday Judge Melanie Greally Judge Greally imposed a one year prison sentence with the final six months suspended on strict conditions including that Henney engage with the Probation Service for 12 months upon his release from prison. This sentence is to be consecutive to the term he is currently serving for violent disorder.

She said the anger and aggression was carried out on the dog, when it was the dog’s owner that was “the subject of his anger”.

Judge Greally accepted that Henney was “extremely ashamed and remorseful for his actions” and has now expressed himself as young man who wants to live a normal life. “He has a stable relationship and is applying himself well in prison,” she noted.

She acknowledged that the report prepared by the Probation Service concluded that Henney was a vulnerable young man who would benefit from probation supervision upon his release from prison.

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Italy likely to offer Covid booster jabs to all ‘from January’

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“It is most likely that a third dose will be necessary for everybody,” Deputy Health Minister Pierpaolo Sileri told Radio Capital.

His remarks echoed comments from the president of the national health institute ISS, Silvio Brusaferro, who said 24 hours earlier that the need for third doses for all “couldn’t be excluded”.

READ ALSO: Which Italian regions have the highest Covid vaccination rates?

Italy is already administering booster shots to patients with fragile immune systems and serious medical conditions, people aged over 60 and health workers.

“I imagine the rest of the population [will follow] from January,” Sileri said.

To date, almost 44.5 million people in Italy, or 82.3 percent of those over the age of 12, have been fully vaccinated, and 1.1 million have already received booster shots.

EXPLAINED: Who can access a third dose of the Covid vaccine in Italy?

To boost vaccination rates, Italy has brought in some of the world’s strictest measures with health certificates now mandatory for all workers.

The certificate, known as a ‘green pass’, is also a requirement at many cultural and leisure venues and on long-distance public transport.

The pass is available to everyone who is vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid-19, but can also be obtained by getting a negative test, at the individual’s own expense.



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Halyna Hutchins: Alec Baldwin, an actor dogged by scandal | USA

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Alec Baldwin once borrowed the words of one of the acting colleagues he admires the most – “the incredibly intelligent and wise Warren Beatty” – to explain his ongoing image problems. “Your problem is a very basic one, and it’s very common to actors. And that’s when we step in front of a camera, we feel the need to make it into a moment. This instinct, even unconsciously, is to make the exchange in front of the camera a dramatic one,” Beatty said.

Last Thursday, on the set of the movie Rust, of which Baldwin is the star and a producer, that moment could not have been more dramatic. It was Baldwin who pulled the trigger on a prop firearm that killed the Ukrainian director of photography, 43-year-old Halyna Hutchins, and wounded the movie’s director, 48-year-old Joel Souza. The tragic incident left Baldwin speechless for several hours until he expressed his “shock and sadness,” offering his help and support to Hutchins’ family and stating that he was “fully cooperating” with the police investigation into the accident. A social media post from a few days earlier in which he was kitted out in his cowboy gear and covered in blood in character for Rust was removed from his accounts.

Scandal seems to follow Alec Baldwin around, whether or not he is looking for that drama to which Beatty alluded. The eldest of six siblings of a middle-class Catholic family of Irish descent, the four Baldwin brothers are all involved in show business, although they couldn’t be much different from one another. Daniel has had problems with drugs. Stephen is currently involved with an Evangelical church and his political views are inclined toward conservatism. The second-youngest, William described his brother as someone who always has something “to fucking whine about,” according to The New Yorker. Alec is the eldest and the most disciplined, but also the one who protected the other brothers from bullies as he was the most combative. He went to school with the notion of becoming the president of the United States, but on recognizing he had little chance of achieving that goal he enrolled at the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in New York, graduating many years later.

Alec Baldwin during a scuffle with a photographer in New York, 2014.
Alec Baldwin during a scuffle with a photographer in New York, 2014. freddie baez (cordon)

His career could have panned out like Al Pacino’s or Jack Nicholson’s, actors who he looked up to, but Baldwin’s generation was not the same. Perhaps neither was his talent, and certainly, the world of movies had changed. In 1992, Baldwin ensured that he would be associated with his idols when he starred with Jessica Lange in a Broadway revival of A Streetcar Named Desire, which three years later would be turned into a television movie with Baldwin and Lange reprising their roles for the small screen. Not only did Baldwin receive a Tony nomination for his Broadway performance, he also drew favorable comparisons to legendary actor Marlon Brando, who starred in the stage production and the 1951 movie version. Around this time Baldwin was also landing meaty screen roles, including that of Jack Ryan opposite Sean Connery in The Hunt for Red October.

But as time progressed, Baldwin’s name was more frequently heard in connection to his social life and scandals than for his stage or screen performances. His marriage to actor Kim Basinger, who he met in 1991 while filming The Marrying Man, ended acrimoniously, and Baldwin’s relationship with the couple’s daughter, Ireland, has often been fractious. In 2007, a voicemail message the actor left for Ireland, who was 11 at the time, caused a sensation due to Baldwin’s use of not very fatherly language, during an ongoing spat with Basinger following their 2002 divorce.

Alec Baldwin after receiving one of his three Golden Globes for ‘30 Rock.’
Alec Baldwin after receiving one of his three Golden Globes for ‘30 Rock.’

Then there is the other Alec Baldwin, described by the actor himself as “bitter, defensive, and more misanthropic than I care to admit,” in an open letter to Vulture magazine in 2014 titled Good-bye, Public Life. At that time Baldwin had forged a reputation as a violent, homophobic egocentric following several incidents aired in the media. And, of course, from his own mouth. Even so, he managed to resurrect his career in the most surprising way imaginable: by making fun of himself.

Baldwin’s portrayal of the absurd and conceited television executive Jack Donaghy across seven seasons of 30 Rock (2006-13), a character inspired by Baldwin himself, earned back his public popularity and landed the actor back-to-back Primetime Emmy Awards in 2007 and 2008 and three Golden Globes. In 2011, he started a new chapter in his personal life with his current wife, Hilaria Baldwin, with whom he has six children. But as one of his closest friends, Lorne Michaels, producer of Saturday Night Live where Baldwin has received plaudits for his impersonations of former US president Donald Trump, once said: “Everything would be better if you were able to enjoy what you have.”

Baldwin’s altercations – mostly verbal, occasionally physical – with the paparazzi or anyone who in the actor’s opinion has violated his privacy have been frequent, including on productions on which he has worked. In 2013, the actor Shia LaBeouf was fired from the Broadway theatre production of Orphans when Baldwin said: “Either he goes or I do.” Years earlier an actress left another play Baldwin was working on by leaving a written note stating that she feared for her “physical, mental and artistic” safety.

Alec Baldwin impersonating former US president Donald Trump on ‘Saturday Night Live.’
Alec Baldwin impersonating former US president Donald Trump on ‘Saturday Night Live.’EL PAÍS

Every one of Baldwin’s reinventions seems inexorably to be followed by another fall from grace. On the one hand, there is the Baldwin who has stated on several occasions that he intends to withdraw from public life, and on the other the Baldwin who is obsessed with social media, writing a tweet for every occasion. Many of these posts have cost the actor, such as in 2017 when he commented on a video of a suspect being fatally shot by police: “I wonder how it must feel to wrongfully kill someone…”

There are still unanswered questions surrounding the death of Halyna Hutchins. The investigation has not disclosed whether the firearm was discharged accidentally or if Baldwin was aiming it at the time, although the transcript of a call to the emergency services appears to indicate it happened during a rehearsal. As of yet, no charges have been filed against Baldwin but it is unknown if this may yet occur at a later date. A statement taken from the assistant director states that Baldwin was told by crew members that the gun was not loaded. Many observers are wondering if Rust will be completed, if the project will be abandoned. And many more are asking the same about Baldwin: will he be able to find a way back from this latest dramatic moment?



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