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Irish aid ship seized by Israeli Naval Forces

The Rachel Corrie, an Irish aid ship, was seized by the Israeli Naval Forces, as it attempted to challenge the blockade of Gaza.

The military said its forces boarded the 1,200-ton MV Rachel Corrie cargo ship from the sea, not helicopters. It was intercepted in international waters, about 20 miles (30 kilometers) from Gaza’s shore. The Israeli military reports the soldiers didn’t meet any resistance.

Passengers include Irishman Dennis Halliday, a former assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, and the Northern Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Mairead Corrigan Maguire. And a group of Irish and Malaysian pro-Palestinian activists. Read More…

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Ryanair fined over ash-triggered flight cancellations

Italy today fined the Irish airline Ryanair three million euros over the airline’s failure to assist passengers after their flights were canceled due to volcanic ash in April.

According to the civil aviation authority of Italy, ENAC, there were 178 cases of passengers not receiving mandatory assistance, such as accommodations and food, after Ryanair canceled their flights. Such assistance is required by European regulations to be given to passengers who have chosen to be re-routed. Read More…

Car bomb explodes near army base in Ireland

A car bomb has exploded outside an army base in Northern Ireland that is the headquarters for MI5 domestic security services. The attack has been blamed on dissidents from the Irish Republican Army (IRA), although nobody has yet claimed responsibility.

Military Intelligence, Section 5

According to police, IRA members hijacked a vehicle from a taxi driver in Belfast; Al Jazeera reports it was commandeered at gunpoint. A bomb was planted in the car, which was then driven to the rear of the Palace Barracks.

The explosion comes several hours before the Northern Ireland Assembly was scheduled to appoint its first justice minister, and only minutes after the Belfast power-sharing administration regained control over justice and policing in the province for the first time in nearly four decades. Read More…

Eurozone growth lowered to zero

According to revised official figures, the economy of the eurozone, the sixteen European countries using the euro, did not grow at all in the final quarter of last year. Eurostat reports that the number was revised from an initial figure of +0.1%.

Eurozone 2010

Meanwhile, the eurozone’s lost more than 2.2% in a year-on year comparison, more than the initial estimate of 2.1%.

According to the numbers, Ireland saw an output drop of 2.3% in the last quarter of 2009, while Greece, the country in the eurozone with the most debt, had its economy contract by 0.8%. Italy was down by 0.3%, Germany saw no gain, but France posted a 0.6% quarterly growth.

The Associated Press reports the stagnation was unexpected by analysts, and will only reinforce expectations that the European Central Bank will keep the key interest rate at one percent for most of 2010.

On this day March 29, 2004

The Republic of Ireland becomes the first country in the world to ban smoking in all work places, including bars and restaurants.

no_smoking_signIreland established a nationwide smoking ban in all enclosed workplaces.

The ban now extends, voluntarily, outside of buildings. For example, smoking is not allowed at the entrances to buildings at Dublin Airport, but only in areas where signs indicate that smoking is permitted. Read More…

Truly sorry from Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI issues a pastoral letter to Catholics in Ireland apologizing for sexual abuse of children by clergy.

Pope Benedict XVI

After the pressure gathered from the Ryan and Murphy Reports and the resignation of bishops, Pope Benedict XVI summoned all of the Irish Bishops to the Vatican in January 2010.

Following their meeting, it was announced that a pastoral letter would be written to address the issues involving the sexual abuse of children.

The letter was released by the Vatican on 20 March 2010. In the letter addressed to the Catholics of Ireland, he was “truly sorry” for the harm done to Catholics who suffered “sinful and criminal” abuse at the hands of priests, brothers and nuns. He acknowledged the “serious mistakes” made by the clergy. Read More…

Aer Lingus to cut more staff

Aer Lingus, an Irish airline, has announced that it will cut about 230 staff in the near future in compulsory job losses, bringing the total number of layoffs from the airline to 670. 440 other workers will face voluntary job losses.

The company believes the job reductions will save it 97 million euros. Chief Executive Officer Christoph Mueller said the move would start “within days” and the airline would return to profitability “relatively soon.” Read More…