'She's with us in spirit' – Dolores O'Riordan's mother accepts honourary doctorate on behalf of late daughter

THE heartbroken mother of Dolores O’Riordan fought back tears today as she accepted an Honourary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Limerick, on behalf of her deceased rock star daughter.

The body of the world famous singer with The Cranberries was found submerged in a bath in her bedroom in a London hotel, on January 15th last year.

An inquest last September found the iconic performer had drowned while intoxicated with alcohol.

Honourary Doctorates of Letters were also bestowed on O’Riordan’s bandmates, siblings Noel Hogan (guitarist), and Mike Hogan (bassist), as well as drummer Fergal Lawler who was unable to attend today’s event.

O’Riordan’s devastated mother, Eileen, who clutched the college gown that her daughter would have been wearing to accept her award, admitted the special day was tinged with sadness: “It is (sad), it is really, you know… I suppose we have to move on haven’t we…we have to.”

“I know that (Dolores) is happy and she is in heaven, and that makes me happy,” she added.

Eileen, a devout catholic and a member of her local church choir in Ballybricken, and who is also her local parish church sacristan, continued: “I just wish she was here. I’d say she is with us in spirit.”

Flanked by the Hogan brothers, she expressed delight the band decided to record a final album in memory of Dolores.

However, Eileen revealed she has not yet listened to the first single All Over Now, released last Tuesday on her daughter’s first anniversary, which is taken from The Cranberries final new album In The End, due out on April 26: “I think it’s great. She really loved it… I didn’t hear it yet -I didn’t listen to it yet.”

“What I find very hard is somebody else singing (the band’s) songs. I find that kind of (difficult),” she added.

  • Read more: Fans of Dolores O’Riordan listen to new single ‘All Over Now’ at Limerick memorial on first anniversary

Accepting her daughter’s award was “a great honour”.

“I feel awed really. I find it hard to comprehend and take it all in,” she added.

Dolores wasn’t aware how much she was loved by her native city and county, Eileen said.

“No, I don’t think she did (know). She loved Limerick and she was very proud of Limerick and she was happier in Limerick than anyplace else.”

“I didn’t realise how much she was loved. I keep telling the children how much everyone loved her, and what a support it is, and how comforting it is to us as a family.”

For a few brief moments, smiles replaced their sadness at missing Dolores, as Noel Hogan joked that O’Riordan would have got “a skit” and “a great kick out of this”.

A few years before O’Riordan’s death, she and the rest of the band were approached by UL about the idea of being awarded Honourary Doctorates, however it was not to be, due to the band’s work commitments.

“Even when this was brought up about four years ago I remember (Dolores) telling her brothers, who had different Degrees, that she’d be more qualified than they were…That was her personality so I think she’d be really loving this today,” Hogan added, continuing the joke.

“Proud” of getting their honourary awards, the Limerick brothers acknowledged their emotions were also “very mixed” by celebrating with their families without Dolores.

In a final tribute to their legendary front woman, Noel said: “It feels the thirty years of hard work has brought us to this moment. It’s very mixed, but I think the way to look at it is like a celebration of Dolores and the band.”

  • Read more: Fans continue to make ‘pilgrimage’ to Dolores O’Riordan’s grave one year on from her tragic death

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Jasmin Paris becomes first woman to win 268-mile Spine Race

Jasmin Paris, who lives in Edinburgh, dominated the gruelling route along the Pennine Way, from Derbyshire to the Scottish border, finishing in 83 hours, 12 minutes and 23 seconds.

Her time set a new race record, shaving 12 hours off the previous best.

Ms Paris stopped at checkpoints along the way to express breast milk, as she is still feeding her baby daughter Rowan.

She told BBC Breakfast: “It is really tough. Two thirds of the time it is dark and it is completely different from any race I’ve run before because it is non-stop.

“You have the whole challenge of when to sleep and that becomes very tactical, and then you’re sleep-deprived.

“When I was on the final section I kept seeing animals appearing out of every rock and kept forgetting what I was doing – hallucinations. Every so often I’d come to with a start.

“On top of that it’s very cold and I was wearing all of my clothes by the time I finished.”

The Spine Race is arguably Britain’s toughest ultra running challenge, and many of its entrants do not finish.

In 2018, 118 people started and 65 dropped out along the way.

Competitors get seven days to finish the race but the clock never stops.

Before the race, Ms Paris said she was doing regular weekly runs totalling 100 miles, with a backpack, to help train, and joked that having a baby meant she did not need to train for the sleep deprivation.

Speaking during the race, she said: “Everything is starting to hurt now but it’s not that far any more… once I get to the finish, I’ll have my little girl there.”

In 2016, Ms Paris set a women’s record on the Bob Graham round, a 66-mile circuit in the Lake District which covers 42 of the area’s highest peaks.

Last year, Sophie Power made a pitstop during the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc, which spans the Alps in Switzerland and France, to feed her three-month-old son.

Her husband met her at every aid station on the route so that she could use a breast pump and revealed she was in agony during the race.

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Irish president signs abortion law

Irish President Michael D Higgins has signed the bill that legalises abortion in the Republic of Ireland.

The new law allows for abortion services to be provided “on demand” up to the 12th week of a pregnancy.

It also applies in the case of a fatal foetal abnormality or where the physical or mental health of the mother is in danger.

The country overturned its abortion ban in a referendum in May.

The Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy Bill completed its passage through the Irish parliament last Thursday with a nine-hour debate in the senate.

Since the bill’s introduction to the Irish parliament in October, there have been some minor changes, including a decision to review the legislation after three years, rather than five years as was originally planned.

Two different doctors will be allowed to assess a woman in early pregnancy and the offences section has been moved from the front of the bill.

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Wife of Chinese ex-Interpol chief seeks asylum in France: Reports

LYON (AFP) – The wife of the former Chinese Interpol chief being held in his home country on corruption charges has applied for asylum in France, media reports said on Friday (Jan 18).

Grace Meng has remained in the French city of Lyon, the site of Interpol’s headquarters, since her husband Meng Hongwei disappeared – and was later revealed to have been arrested – while visiting China in September.

She told Franceinfo radio and the Liberation newspaper that she fears for her life and that of their twin sons, despite being under French police protection.

“I need the French government to protect me, to assist me, to help me and my children,” she said. “I am afraid of being kidnapped.”

She was expected to officially apply for asylum on Friday.

Meng Hongwei, a former vice-minister for public security in China who rose through the ranks of the country’s feared security apparatus, was the first Chinese head of the international police organisation.

He was last heard from on Sept 25 as he left Lyon for China, when he sent his wife a social media message telling her to “wait for my call”, and then a knife emoji signifying danger.

Grace Meng later reported he was missing, and after several days without news Interpol said it had received a short message from Meng saying he was resigning.

‘KIDNAP ATTEMPT’

She told Liberation that two Chinese businessmen, one of whom she knew, had visited her at home in early October, before China revealed her husband had been arrested, and invited her to travel with them by private jet to the Czech Republic.

They asked her for investment advice because she was trained as an economist, but she turned them down, she said.

“That’s what I call a kidnap attempt,” she said, adding that this was when she asked for police protection.

She also said that in late October the Chinese consulate in Lyon said they had a letter for her from her husband, but insisted she show up in person to collect it.

She asked that they hand the letter over to French police, or that French police be allowed to go with her to the consulate. She did not receive a response.

In the interview to Franceinfo and Liberation, given on Jan 10, she said that she had received no news of her husband or of her family back home, and that her Chinese phone and internet accounts had been blocked.

She had also received “strange phone calls”, she said, and was once followed into a hotel by a Chinese couple who attempted to gather information about her.

China’s public security bureau has linked Meng’s detention to a broader initiative to “completely remove the pernicious influence” of Zhou Yongkang, a former security czar who was sentenced to life in prison in 2015 for bribery, abuse of power and leaking state secrets.

Meng was appointed vice-minister of security by Zhou in 2004.

He was replaced as Interpol chief by South Korea’s Kim Jong-yang.

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Appeal for information about man who has been missing for over three weeks

Gardai are appealing for information about a man who has been missing for more than three weeks.

Rory Gahan (34) was last seen in Carlow Town on Tullow Street on December 27 last.

He is described as approximately 5ft 8” in height and of slim build with short brown hair and blue eyes.

When last seen he was wearing a wooly wine cap, green hoodie, brown jacket with tracksuit leggings and hiking boots.

Anyone with information is urged to contact Carlow Garda Station 059 – 9136620, the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111 or any Garda Station.

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German brewers to add calorie information to beer labels

BERLIN (DPA) – Curious how you ended up with that beer belly?

Germany’s brewers are here to help.

Starting this year, German brewers say they will begin adding information to their labels, explaining exactly how many calories you’re consuming each time you put back a bottle.

Although the European Commission has threatened to require such labelling, the German Brewers Federation and the Private Breweries of Germany both said on Friday (Jan 18) that they were making the move of their own free will. The new labels will be phased in during the course of 2019.

So far, European Union laws do not require alcoholic beverages to come with nutritional labelling. But a survey by the INSA data group for the brewers showed that 52 per cent of German consumers would welcome such information.

The brewers say they hope winemakers and distillers will follow their example.

A standard pilsner contains about 40 calories per 100 millilitres of beer.

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Britain should delay Brexit to hold citizen assemblies, Gordon Brown says

LONDON (Reuters) – Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Thursday the government should delay the formal process of leaving the European Union by a year to hold citizens’ assemblies to break the political impasse over Brexit.

With the clock ticking down to March 29, the date set in law for Brexit, the United Kingdom is now in the deepest political crisis in half a century as it grapples with how, or even whether, to exit the European project it joined in 1973.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Theresa May’s two-year attempt to forge an amicable divorce with an independent trade policy was crushed by parliament in the biggest defeat for a British leader in modern history.

Brown, Labour prime minister from 2007 to 2010, said there was rising public anger over what people perceive as an out-of-touch elite and a paralysed parliament.

“It is the lethal combination of a deadlocked parliament, an ever-more divided country and the mounting distrust between parliament and people that makes me fear for our cohesion,” he said in a speech in Edinburgh.

“If parliament on its own cannot solve the problems it has created and if we are in uncharted waters – like a boat at sea, with no compass, no map and no life jackets – it is time to think afresh.”

Citizens’ assemblies, which have been deployed around the world, see members of the public confront social or political challenges politicians have been unable to resolve.

Facilitated by experts, they are aimed at removing the conflicts of interest and loyalties that can hamper politicians in reaching a conclusion.

Brown said they have been used in Canada, the United States Ireland to tackle thorny political topics such as abortion legislation.

He said that over the past two centuries, parliament had eventually been able to resolve other political crises by compromise and reform. But the current situation was unique because parliament seemed incapable of breaking the deadlock.

“Precisely because parliament has reached an impasse, citizens’ assemblies offer a fresh opportunity for parliament to hear how representative groups of people across all regions and nations think unity can be restored,” he said. 

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Derry businesswoman removed from award finalists list for 'not being from Ireland'

A Derry businesswoman has revealed she was removed from the finals of an Irish awards ceremony because she lives in Northern Ireland.

Bubblebum founder and CEO Grainne Kelly told BBC Radio Ulster she was contacted “out of the blue” to be told she was a finalist in the Irish Women’s Business Awards.

The company behind the awards are UK-based Creative Oceanic, which holds awards ceremonies across Canada, UK and Ireland.

Mrs Kelly’s company makes car booster seats for children and distributes them worldwide.

She said she had been asked to promote the awards on social media.

After not hearing from the awards for a number of weeks, she contacted them to ask for details of the presentation night, only to be told “because you don’t live in Ireland we can’t actually have you as a finalist in the award”.

Mrs Kelly said she “was not complaining” at not being nominated, but told the organisers “last time I checked I actually do live in Ireland”.

The businesswoman said she had won all-Ireland awards in the past with no issue.

She said that she told the organisers she lived in Derry, but was told “that’s not in the South of Ireland”.

“Ireland is an island, it’s the island of Ireland split into two, it doesn’t matter if you live in Northern Ireland or Southern Ireland,” Mrs Kelly told them.

She said that the snub was akin to banning people from Scotland taking part in UK wide awards.

Mrs Kelly claimed the organisers told her that they were planning Northern Ireland awards in the future, which she declined to be part of.

“Once you are doing an all-Ireland award, a Northern Ireland award isn’t as competitive, you want it to be as competitive as it possibly can,” she said.

“There are so many people that are Irish that live in America, therefore technically they are saying if you live in America and you’re Irish you can’t enter either.”

Mrs Kelly claimed that woman who lived around Belfast remained nominated for an award at the event.

“Derry is right on the border, I could live in Donegal if I want five days a week,” she joked.

“I’m very confused about my identity now with all this Brexit chat, I don’t know whether I’m allowed to be British, am I allowed to be Irish, what am I allowed to be?”

Mrs Kelly said the incident was a “miscommunication” from a company that “didn’t understand the politics of Northern Ireland”.

However, a spokesperson for Creative Oceanic said that the Irish Women’s Awards 2019 aim to “recognise women from the Republic of Ireland” and that a separate awards ceremony for women in Northern Ireland will take place this year.

“Creative Oceanic is at the forefront of delivering unique campaigns and event strategies in thirteen different cities across the UK, Ireland and Canada; proving to be a definitive service in promoting meritorious professionals and developing brands by understanding the needs

and expectations of various industries,” the company said in a statement.

“We previously launched the Scottish Women’s Awards (Glasgow) which are already in their third year, the English Women’s Awards Midlands (Leicester), The English Women’s Awards North (Manchester) as well as The Welsh Women’s Awards which will take place in March 2019.

“The Irish Women’s Awards 2019 aim to recognise women from The Republic of Ireland and are; either resident or have a registered business fully-operating in the Republic of Ireland.

“It is vital that we create a level playing field and create boundaries for the smooth running of the awards and for the sake of fairness that all finalists satisfy the criteria mentioned above.

“There are exceptional women in Northern Ireland and Creative Oceanic is delighted to announce the inaugural Northern Ireland Women’s Awards in Belfast later this year. Northern Ireland has equally many female role-models and success stories and we should not underestimate what the women working and living there have achieved.

“Our intention is not to discriminate or disqualify anyone from participating in the awards ceremonies as everyone is more than welcomed to get involved, however our criteria has to be met and this is done through due diligence on the finalists at an early stage. We have a vision to promote inspirational women and celebrate their achievements; and are delighted with the response and are not afraid to try things in a different way to achieve our goals.”

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Riven by crisis, UK searches for Brexit emergency 'plan B'

LONDON (Reuters) – Prime Minister Theresa May will try on Thursday to break the impasse in Britain’s political elite over how to leave the European Union by searching for an emergency exit deal, though there is so far little sign of compromise.

After May’s two-year attempt to forge an amicable divorce was crushed by parliament in the biggest defeat for a British leader in modern history, May called for party leaders to put self-interest aside to find a way forward.

If May fails to forge consensus, the world’s fifth largest economy will drop out of the European Union on March 29 without a deal or will be forced to halt Brexit, possibly holding a national election or even another referendum.

May has repeatedly refused to countenance another election and has warned that another referendum would be corrosive as it would undermine faith in democracy among the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum.

“I believe it is my duty to deliver on the British people’s instruction to leave the European Union. And I intend to do so,” May said outside Downing Street in an attempt to address voters directly.

“I am inviting MPs from all parties to come together to find a way forward,” May said. “This is now the time to put self-interest aside.”

As the United Kingdom tumbles towards its biggest political and economic move since World War Two, other members of the European Union have offered to talk though they can do little until London decides what it wants out of Brexit.

Yet ever since the UK voted by 52-48 percent to leave the EU in June 2016, British politicians have failed to find agreement on how or even whether to leave the European Union.

BREXIT CRISIS

In a sign of just how hard May’s task may be, the main opposition leader, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, refused to hold talks unless a no-deal Brexit was ruled out.

“Before there can be any positive discussions about the way forward, the government must remove clearly, once and for all, the prospect of the catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit from the EU and all the chaos that would come as a result of that,” he said.

But the further May moves towards softening Brexit, the more she alienates dedicated Brexiteers in her own party who think the threat of a no-deal Brexit is a crucial bargaining chip.

Without a deal, trade with the EU would then default to basic World Trade Organization rules.

Company chiefs are aghast at the political crisis over Brexit and say it has already damaged Britain’s reputation as Europe’s preeminent destination for foreign investment.

From Channel Tunnel operator Eurotunnel to Scottish whisky distillers, firms have called for urgent and decisive government action and warned of the consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

“If anybody believes that you can just go ahead without some sort of an agreement here, I think that that is reckless,” said John Bason, finance chief of Associated British Foods (ABF.L), the food and retail group which has sales of over $20 billion.

“The UK’s food supply generally is dependent on the free flowing border,” Bason said.

Labour wants a permanent customs union with the EU, a close relationship with its single market and greater protections for workers and consumers.

But the chairman of May’s Conservative party, Brandon Lewis, said on Thursday that Britain should not stay in the current customs union because striking international trade deals after Brexit is a priority.

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He said senior ministers would meet colleagues from across the House of Commons, Britain’s lower house of parliament, on Thursday.

The Times newspaper said both remaining in a full customs union with the EU and delaying Brexit through an extension of Article 50 would be discussed at meetings between the government and lawmakers.

Former British prime minister Tony Blair said on Thursday a delay to Brexit was now inevitable, adding that leaving the EU without a deal would inflict profound economic damage on the UK.

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'We've let society down' – Commissioner apologises to victims of over 3,000 crimes not prosecuted in Garda youth scheme

GARDA Commissioner Drew Harris has apologised “profoundly” to the victims of crimes committed by youths who were never prosecuted.

An internal garda report in the force’s youth referral scheme found that 7,894 cases where youths were deemed not suitable for the diversion programme were not appropriately progressed over a seven year period.

One incident of rape, one case of child neglect and one incident of a sexual offence were among those not properly progressed.

The other crimes included public order, 23pc, theft 19pc, traffic 14pc and criminal damage, 11pc.

There were 2,492 individual personal victims and 988 individual business victims of these crimes, which took place between 2010 and 2017.

“I want to apologise to the more than 3,000 victims.

“We’ve let society down by not pursuing these crimes,” the commissioner said today in front of the  Policing Authority at a public meeting.

He also apologised to the children saying there were also failed by the system.

Commissioner Harris said there were some 3,500 members of the force, 25pc of the total, identified as part of the review.

Disciplinary action may follow.

He said the issue was especially prevalent at busy garda stations with high work loads.

A national helpline has been set up for anyone who thinks they’ve been affected on 1800 589 589.

Each victim will receive a letter specific to their case signed by a local district officer.

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