In Washington State, 3 G.O.P. Districts That Could Flip

SEATTLE — One district had been a Republican heartland of freight-haulers and timber-workers before a shift toward suburbs and tech. Another was historically Democratic from the power of the railroad unions, then veered toward the Republicans. A third is liberal on its western side, conservative to the east, and locked in a battle over which side will prevail.

Three of Washington State’s 10 congressional districts are in play in Tuesday’s election — all considered competitive by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report — and so all three are potentially crucial to Republicans in holding their majority in the House of Representatives, and to Democrats in their hopes of taking back the House. Two seats are held by Republican incumbents, while the third is an open seat being vacated by a Republican.

Washington State as a whole leans left these days, from the dominance in population of the Seattle area — both senators are Democrats, as are six of the 10 House members. But the state’s three in-play districts do not fit that pattern, or really any pattern. All are starkly different from one another in economics, demographics, history and in the pitches that the candidates are making to voters.

Here is a look at three key races that could be pivotal on Tuesday — though the results may not be known until the wee hours of Wednesday or later, given that ballots in the state’s vote-by-mail election can be postmarked as late as Election Day itself.

A Changing Population

Railroads and a perfect climate for soft white winter wheat have shaped the huge Fifth District that stretches across Washington’s east side from Canada to Oregon. Once, in another political era, Representative Thomas S. Foley, a Democrat and the former speaker of the House, dominated the district, but most of the current century has belonged to Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

Ms. Rodgers, a Republican first elected in 2004, is the highest-ranking female Republican in the House, as chair of the Republican Conference, which articulates policies for the majority, and has mostly batted away challengers in recent elections like pesky flies.

But the district, anchored by Spokane, Washington’s second largest city after Seattle, has also been changing, becoming more urban and more politically and ethnically diverse. Some rural corners of the district have struggled, with about one in eight residents living below the poverty line, and some counties, in losing young people, have become among the fastest aging in the state. The power of the railroad unions that once backed politicians like Mr. Foley faded long ago.

In the all-party primary election in August, Ms. Rodgers was jolted by a surprisingly narrow victory — about 4 percentage points — over Lisa Brown, a Democratic former state legislator and economics professor. As the top two finishers, they will face one another again on Tuesday.

President Trump carried the district by 13 percentage points in 2016, while losing Washington as a whole, but his divisive brand of politics has not been considered helpful to Ms. Rodgers, making her district part of a huge swath of the nation — the entire Pacific Coast, much of the Northeast and large interior cities like Chicago and Minneapolis — where Republican lawmakers do not want to be seen with him.

Early voting patterns suggest that both sides are energized, said Ben Stuckart, the Spokane City Council president, who supports Ms. Brown.

“The more solid D’s are turning out high and the more solid R’s are turning out high, which kind of goes to the hardening of divisions,” he said.

There’s a history in the district of tossing out veteran politicians in favor of new blood. Mr. Foley famously lost his seat in the House in 1994 — the first sitting House speaker to lose his district since the mid-1800s. But the dynamic is different this time because both women have long political records — Ms. Brown in the state legislature, Ms. Rodgers in Congress — that can be bragged about, or attacked by the other side.

An Open Seat

Scanning a map, the Eighth District looks like it could be one of those gerrymandered snake districts, winding around to find certain kinds of voters. But the reality is that by winding through central Washington, the district captures much of the demographic drama that rolls through the Pacific Northwest in general. It has affluent Democratic-leaning voters from the techie eastern suburbs of Seattle, union workers from Boeing around the company’s huge airplane factory in Renton, and conservative farmers and retirees to the east, many of whom have left the bigger coastal cities.

As a measure of its divisions, the Eighth has a higher percentage of foreign-born residents than the state as a whole, many of them agricultural workers in the fruit industry, but also more rich people, with a higher percentage of households earning more than $200,000 than the state as a whole, according to the census.

Dino Rossi, a Republican who was almost elected governor in 2004 in one of the closest elections in state history (Christine Gregoire, a Democrat, won by 129 votes then beat Mr. Rossi again, more handily, in a rematch four years later) is facing Kim Schrier, a pediatrician and first-time candidate who has made health care her issue. They are competing to succeed Dave Reichert, a Republican, who is retiring.

The district, historically Republican in Congress but won by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, is seen by both parties as the most likely of the state’s three competitive seats to flip. But with the margin of victory expected to be tight whoever wins, voters have been pummeled by weeks of advertising in what has become one of the most expensive House races in the nation, with more than $26 million raised by candidates and outside groups.

A voter-registration drive this fall on the campus of Central Washington University in Ellensburg, one of the district’s biggest towns, might make a difference in a close race, said Ellensburg’s mayor, Bruce Tabb. Or not. College students are inconsistent voters, at best.

“I’ve talked to students who seem to be more engaged,” said Mr. Tabb, who has a nonpartisan office and has not endorsed either candidate. “But it’s a very, very challenging thing, I think, to actually determine what that impact is going to be.”

Portland’s Little Brother

A key thing to know about the Third District is that a significant chunk of it is actually part of the Portland, Oregon, metropolitan area. While Portland is in another state, on the south bank of the Columbia River, and is famously liberal, the northern bank suburbs in the Third District, in and around Vancouver, Wash., in Clark County, are traditionally conservative.

But Portland’s little brother suburb has been growing up.

“Clark County is the housing pressure release valve for the tri-county Portland region,” said Thomas Kimpel, a senior analyst at the Washington State Office of Financial Management, which prepares demographic and economic research.

Vancouver was the fourth fastest growing city in the state over the last decade, partly from Portlanders crossing the river to find cheaper housing, or perhaps for the taxes. (Washington has no income tax.) The economy of the district has also moved away from its old base of timber, agriculture and shipping toward a more Portland-like economy of tech and services.

Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler — a Republican and a protégée of Ms. Rodgers in the Fifth District, for whom she worked as a legislative aide before running for office herself — is facing Carolyn Long, an associate professor of politics, philosophy and public affairs at Washington State University Vancouver.

Ms. Beutler only beat Ms. Long by about 7 percentage points in the August primary.

The 2016 presidential election map provides another clue to the shifting dynamics in Washington State. All the counties won by Mrs. Clinton except two were clustered in the state’s northwest corner, in Seattle and its neighboring counties. One of two Clinton outliers was Whitman County in Ms. Rodger’s district — home to Washington State University. The other was Clark County, in Ms. Beutler’s district.

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More than 50 people killed during Afghanistan elections: UN

Several voter registration centres were attacked by the Taliban in a bid to disrupt the October elections.

    The number of civilians harmed in last month’s parliamentary elections was higher than in four previous elections in Afghanistan, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in a report.

    At least 435 civilian casualties were recorded, out of which 56 people were killed and 379 wounded, on election day on October 20, and during days when delayed polling was conducted in some provinces.

    The numbers do not include casualties from attacks during the three-week election campaign. 

    “This report documents grave concerns over the organised campaign of numerous attacks by anti-government elements, mainly Taliban, directed at civilian objects and in civilian populated areas during the elections, including attacks against schools used as polling centres,” the report said. 

    The Taliban, Afghanistan’s largest armed group that was toppled from power by US-led invasion in 2001, issued a series of threats against the election and called on Afghans to boycott the process.

    The report also said the attacks by the Taliban were carried out with rockets, grenades, mortars and improvised explosive devices.

    Some attacks on voter registration centres prior to the election were claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.

    “The Taliban’s actions forced many ordinary Afghans to choose between exercising their right to participate in the political process and risking their own safety,” the UNAMA said.

    Elections were originally scheduled for 2014 but have been delayed several times, not only because of the security situation but also due to unresolved disagreements about election reforms and potential fraud.

    The votes of the parliamentary elections are being counted, with results due later this month.

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    Irish PM says backstop can't have expiry date or unilateral exit clause

    DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ireland is open to creative language and creative solutions but will not change its position that a border backstop clause in a Brexit deal can have no expiry date or unilateral exit clause, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Tuesday.

    “There has to be a backstop as part of the withdrawal agreement, and that backstop cannot have an expiry date or unilateral exit clause,” he told Ireland’s parliament.

    Earlier on Tuesday European affairs minister Helen McEntee said the government was open to a review mechanism that would allow the EU and Britain to decide when a backstop to keep the Irish border open after Brexit was no longer needed.

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    Why Ghana should use Melania Trump as a fashion ambassador

    In our series of letters from African writers, Ghanaian journalist Elizabeth Ohene reflects on US First Lady Melania Trump’s first visit to the continent.

    It’s good that it’s the female half of the current inhabitants of the White House who is making the first foray into Africa. I am not quite sure what kind of welcome US President Donald Trump would get if he were making the announced trip to Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Egypt this week.

    In Ghana, the first stop of First Lady Melania Trump’s four-nation trip, there isn’t exactly an atmosphere of Trump-mania.

    My tentative and unscientific survey showed that there were not many people who even knew the name of the US first lady.

    What is Melania Trump doing in Africa?

    Melania Trump is travelling to Ghana, Malawi, Kenya and Egypt in what is her first visit to Africa and her first major solo trip abroad since becoming first lady.

    “I am excited to educate myself on the issues facing children throughout the continent, while also learning about its rich culture and history,” Mrs Trump said in a statement announcing her trip.

    Her focus will be on maternal and newborn care in hospitals, and children’s education, according to the White House.

    The response to Mrs Trump’s visit has so far been lukewarm. Our reporters in Accra, Nairobi and Cairo have been gauging opinion on the streets:

    I can’t work out how the State Department and the White House came to decide on the four countries chosen for Mrs Trump’s trip.

    It used to be possible to tell these things, but these days it is difficult to tell who the Americans count as their friends. One moment, they are calling someone names and the next, that same person is being embraced as a good man and a friend.

    The State Department used to cite freedom of speech and the holding of free and fair elections among the factors determining whether a country made it into their list of “friendly countries”. These days you can’t be sure.

    What a difference from July 2009, when Barack Obama was making his first trip to Africa as president, accompanied by Michelle. We in Ghana could not resist preening ourselves for being the choice.

    I remember I wrote teasing our Nigerian and Kenyan cousins in particular that they had been ignored by the Obamas.

    Today, I am not sure there is a constituency here in Ghana that is beating its chest for making it to the list of Mrs Trump’s first visit to Africa.

    But there is no danger of her not getting a warm Ghanaian welcome. Ghanaians love all things American and you can tell that not just by the queues at the visa section of the US embassy, but by the number of people here who purport to speak with American accents without ever having entered the United States.

    We take it that Ghana is still considered a friend of the US even if we don’t know what the current ingredients are for American friendship.

    And then of course, we are presuming that even in the era of Trump, American first ladies would be travelling with “goodies” – and “goodies” are always welcome even in the era of Ghana Beyond Aid.

    A first lady’s trip that ended in disaster

    The last time an American first lady came to Ghana by herself was in January 2006, and she chose Ghana to launch her Textbooks and Learning Materials Programme, which aimed to support African tertiary education with required resources.

    I was education minister at the time, and I know that we managed to convince her and her team that taking American textbooks for our tertiary institutions was not the best option.

    Instead, we received help to develop, write and print our own books for early childhood reading, from Kindergarten to Primary 4. As a librarian herself, First Lady Laura Bush was enthusiastic about our programme and the effects of her visit lasted for years.

    Elizabeth Ohene:

    “All the people in the photos were either in jail, or in hiding”

    Whilst on the subject, my mind goes back to the first time a US first lady visited Ghana by herself. It ended in disaster.

    Nothing to do with First Lady Pat Nixon who came in early 1972 and captured many hearts with her business-like approach to matters.

    She toured parliament hosted by Naa Morkor, the wife of Prime Minister Kofi Busia, she congratulated Ghana on her democratic practices, there were many photo opportunities and the US first lady was seen off with a lot of pomp and pageantry. Two days later, a certain Col Ignatius Acheampong staged a coup and overthrew the constitutionally elected government.

    The US Information Services (Usis), a now defunct agency charged with public diplomacy, was heartbroken. There they were with all these beautiful photos from the visit that could not be used.

    All the people in the photos with First Lady Pat Nixon were either in jail, or in hiding or certainly not in good standing with the new authorities – and none of the things she had come to praise Ghana for were still in operation.

    I don’t know what they ever did with those photos, but I know there were a lot of unhappy Usis officials with photos on their hands that could not be used.

    But that was then, Ghana has moved on, and now has a well-grounded democracy, meaning visitors and citizens alike need not worry about coups d’etat.

    Fashion ambassador?

    Given her chosen headline programme on maternal and child healthcare for the visit to Ghana, First Lady Melania Trump will find a kindred spirit in our own First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo.

    The Ghanaian first lady spent six months last year shaming everybody into giving her money to build a modern and well-equipped mother and child care unit in the second city, Kumasi, to deal with a long-standing problem.

    It’s not unlikely that our Rebecca will find a way to convince Melania that there is a children’s ward in some hospital in Accra or somewhere in the country that can be named Be Best, the Melania Trump slogan, if she would agree to refurbish it.

    On my part, I wish I had had an input in drawing up the programme for this visit. I would have put Mrs Trump in touch with my dressmaker to make her a kente jacket to rival her famous “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” jacket.

    We are not known here only for mother and child problems, we do a wicked turn in kente fashion which should make a lasting impression on Mrs Trump.

    I wonder if protocol allows it, but I think we really should make her into a fashion ambassador for Ghana.

    More Letters from Africa

    Follow us on Twitter @BBCAfrica, on Facebook at BBC Africa or on Instagram at bbcafrica

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    Another Reason to Vote? Free Stuff. (Is It Legal? Well …)

    You have made it through the months leading up to the midterm elections. You have researched your candidates and you have voted. Before you sit back and watch the infamous Election Day needle swing to and fro, you’re entitled to a treat.

    Some companies are offering free food, free car rides and discounts, among other deals, for people who plan on voting, say they voted or prominently wear their “I Voted” sticker.

    However, providing voters with incentives before or after voting in a federal election is technically illegal.

    “Most of the time when businesses offer these incentives, they are just trying to increase voter participation, but it is illegal,” said Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, a political scientist and an assistant professor of public affairs at Columbia University. “Under federal election law and in any case where there is a federal candidate on the ballot, it is illegal.”

    [Read more about how, when and where to vote here.]

    Still, there isn’t a case he can think of that has been brought against such businesses.

    “Federal law enforcement has bigger fish to fry,” Mr. Hertel-Fernandez said.

    Some businesses have also teamed up with nonprofit organizations to facilitate voting for some who may live far from the polls.

    [Make sense of the people, issues and ideas shaping the 2018 elections with our new politics newsletter.]

    Here are some of the businesses that plan on making it easier for people to vote or giving rewards for voting this year:

    • Uber is offering users a free ride to a polling place.

    • Lyft is providing free and discounted rides to the polls. The free rides are being distributed through Lyft’s nonprofit and nonpartisan partners, including Voto Latino, local affiliates of the National Urban League, the National Federation of the Blind, Faith in Action, League of Women Voters and the Student Veterans of America. Lyft’s partners are determining how to distribute the rides to the users they deem most in need of transportation to the polls.

    • Lime is offering a free ride to the polls, up to 30 minutes long, by providing access to their fleet of shared bikes, e-bikes and e-scooters.

    • In New York and New Jersey, Citi Bike rides are free on Election Day. Citi Bike announced on Twitter that by entering the code “BIKETOVOTE” in the Citi Bike app, riders can claim a free day pass on the bikes.

    • Several Y.M.C.A.s will offer free or reduced child care services for people who are voting. Contact your local Y.M.C.A. to see what is available.

    • As part of Zipcar’s #DRIVEtheVOTE initiative, any member who reserves a car in the United States from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on election night will receive $20 in driving credit toward a future reservation.

    • After the Illinois State Board of Elections caught wind of its free admission offer for voters, the Field Museum in Chicago opened its gates to everyone. The museum is offering free admission for all Illinois residents on Tuesday.

    • The dermatologist Dr. Pimple Popper is offering a free daily moisturizer to all voters who post a selfie — while they are in line at the polls or with their “I Voted” sticker — that tags her skin care line.

    • Potbelly Sandwich Shop will be giving out free cookies on Election Day and on Wednesday (no “I Voted” sticker required).

    • Shake Shack is offering a free order of crinkle-cut French fries with any purchase on Election Day. Voters can walk in and flaunt their “I Voted” sticker or use the Shake Shack app to redeem the offer.

    • Via Metropolitan Transit, the transit agency in San Antonio, is running fare-free bus rides to encourage San Antonians to make it to the polls.

    • The first 200 people that can show their voting-related social media post with the hashtag “I Voted” at Brooklyn Bowl in New York can catch a free show. “I Voted” stickers will not work for entry.

    • The Creativity Museum in San Francisco is offering free admission to voters through Friday.

    • Stumptown Coffee Roasters is offering a free coffee for canvassers, registered voters and volunteers at the polls on Election Day.

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    Hearing aid makers Widex and Sivantos delay EU merger application

    COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Danish hearing aid maker Widex and German rival Sivantos have withdrawn their application for the European Commission to approve their planned $8 billion merger, public records show, although Widex said the two remained committed to a deal.

    “We have not ended the project and we are still fully committed to closing the transaction when we have gotten all the necessary approvals,” Andrew Arnold, a press officer for unlisted Widex, told Danish online media Medwatch on Tuesday.

    “We plan to send a new application to the Commission in the nearest future,” he added, declining to comment further.

    The planned merger is aiming at creating an industry number three that would be able to invest more in digital devices and step up the challenge to market leaders Sonova (SOON.S) and William Demant (WDH.CO).

    The European Commission’s home page shows the application for the merger, which was announced in May, was withdrawn on Oct. 30.

    Sivantos is owned by Swedish private equity firm EQT. Neither of the companies, nor EQT, immediately responded to Reuters’ requests for comments.

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    Exclusive: Iraq to increase oil output and exports, waits on Iran sanctions – minister

    BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq plans to increase its oil output and export capacity in 2019, with a focus on its southern oilfields, and is close to reaching a deal with international companies, Oil Minister Thamer Ghadhban said on Tuesday.

    The new minister also said the shortfall in oil supply caused by new U.S. sanctions on Iran had yet to be gauged before Iraq and other OPEC members could decide what action to take ahead of their policy meeting next month.

    Iraq, OPEC’s second-largest producer, is targeting production capacity of 5 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2019, with average exports expected to reach around 3.8 million bpd.

    Iraq currently pumps around 4.6 million bpd, second only to Saudi Arabia in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. The bulk of Iraq’s oil is exported via its southern terminals, which account for more than 95 percent of state revenue.

    Upgrading capacity, especially in the south, “is a top priority,” Ghadhban told Reuters in his first interview since taking over at the ministry last month.

    “We have had talks with international companies which lasted for a while, but now we are about to reach a deal and will settle this issue soon,” he said.

    In the coming years, Iraq plans to boost export capacity to 8.5 million bpd after upgrading its infrastructure, Ghadhban said.

    This would include 6.5 million bpd from southern oilfields, with 1 million bpd to become available after a new pipeline from the northern city of Kirkuk to Turkey’s Ceyhan port on the Mediterranean is built.

    The country is trying to recover from years of violence, including a war with Islamic State militants, that wrecked infrastructure. Baghdad is also seeking to reduce corruption and manage rivalries with the Kurdish authorities who run oil-rich areas in the north.

    Ghadhban, who replaced Jabar al-Luaibi as minister, is also looking to diversify Iraq’s export outlets through new pipelines.

    One of Iraq’s immediate challenges will be to gauge the shortfall in global oil supply caused by sanctions Washington reimposed on Iran’s oil sector on Monday.

    Ghadhban said Iraq wanted to see the “actual decrease” before Baghdad and other OPEC members decide how to deal with a reduction in Iranian shipments.

    “What will be the physical increase in demand on Iraqi oil … if there’s no demand, how can I say we’ll compensate?”

    IRAQ GETS SANCTIONS WAIVER

    Ghadhban did not specify what oil price he expected for 2019. He said a price above $70 per barrel was “fair” and that the higher the price, the better it was for Iraq.

    “I compare it with previous prices … when we talk about prices above 70 … I say it’s a fair price, it’s not 30 or 50 and it’s not 100.

    “In principle, the higher the price, the better for Iraq. But we’re not working alone .. we’re a member of OPEC. We see the interests of consumers and we want to be a viable producer and exporter,” Ghadhban said.

    Washington’s sanctions target Iran’s oil, banking and transport sectors and it has threatened more action to stop what it calls “outlaw” policies – steps that Tehran called economic warfare and vowed to defy.

    A U.S. official confirmed Iraq had been granted a waiver to import some Iranian products. Iraqi officials said last week Baghdad would still be allowed to import crucial gas and energy supplies for its power stations as well as food items.

    In a tumultuous region, Iraq hopes to have more avenues for export.

    The Oil Ministry received bids from three foreign contractors to build a giant water treatment facility vital for the OPEC member to grow its oil production capacity, Ghadhban said.

    He said he expected work to begin in early 2019 and that the cost of the project was several billion dollars.

    An additional 1 million bpd of export capacity would be added from a pipeline that eventually connects the southern city of Basra with Jordan’s Red Sea port of Aqaba, he said, adding that building new pipelines aims to “diversify our export outlets”.

    A final deal is expected to be reached with energy company BP to boost output from oilfields around Kirkuk, Ghadhban said.

    “I have met their representative (BP) yesterday and I hope very soon we reach an arrangement … it’s one of the priorities,” he said.

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    Oil prices under pressure after hit from Iran sanctions waivers

    LONDON (Reuters) – Oil prices fell on Tuesday after Washington granted sanctions exemptions to top buyers of Iranian oil, as the market was left to work out the exact impact of the waivers.

    Benchmark Brent crude futures LCOc1 were down 43 cents at $72.74 a barrel by 1507 GMT.

    U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures CLc1 were at $62.95 a barrel, paring some earlier losses but still down 15 cents after six sessions of falls and hovering near lows last seen in April.

    The United States on Monday restored sanctions targeting Iran’s oil, banking and transport sectors and threatened more action to stop what Washington called its “outlaw” policies, steps Tehran called economic warfare and vowed to defy.

    Although U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the aim was to bring Iranian oil exports to zero, Washington gave 180-day exemptions to eight importers – China, India, South Korea, Japan, Italy, Greece, Taiwan and Turkey.

    This group takes as much as three-quarters of Iran’s seaborne oil exports, trade data shows, meaning Iran will still be allowed to export some oil for now.

    Iran’s crude exports could fall to little more than 1 million barrels per day (bpd) in November, compared with a 2018 high of around 2.6 million. But that figure could rise from December as importers use their waivers.

    “Donald Trump being Donald Trump has no qualms about making U-turns depending on his mood changes. The oil market is desperately trying to evaluate the possible impact of U.S. sanctions on Iranian production and exports,” PVM said in a note.

    Meanwhile, concerns about demand continue. The trade dispute between the United States and China threatens growth in the world’s two biggest economies and currency weakness is pressuring economies in Asia, including India and Indonesia.

    On the supply side, oil is ample despite the sanctions against Iran as output from the world’s top three producers – Russia, the United States and Saudi Arabia – is rising.

    The three countries combined produced more than 33 million bpd for the first time in October, meaning they alone meet more than a third of the world’s almost 100 million bpd of crude oil consumption.

    Amid ample supply, top crude exporter Saudi Arabia has cut the December price for its Arab Light grade for Asian customers.

    The price pressure on oil has scared off financial traders.

    Hedge fund managers were net sellers of petroleum-linked futures and options last week.

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    The Irish widow with a secret €30m fortune

    To those who knew her Elizabeth O’Kelly was a kind and generous friend who was known for her acts of kindness.

    But the sheer scale of her charitable giving only became apparent after she passed away.

    The County Laois multimillionaire left €30m (£26m) to charities in her will when she died at the age of 92 in December 2016.

    The cash has helped organisations including the RNLI and the Irish Cancer Society.

    One of her friends, Elizabeth Connelly, said she had no idea of the wealth Mrs O’Kelly was eventually able to give away.

    Ms Connelly said her friend would often offer to help Kildare Archaeological Society, which they were both members of.

    “I felt that was extremely generous of her,” she told Irish broadcaster RTÉ.

    “I thought she must be reasonably comfortable but I had no idea of the extent that she was.”

    Mrs O’Kelly, who lived in Stradbally but was born in France, was a shareholder in Clylim Properties, which has extensive property interests in Dublin.

    She is believed to have made about €30m from the sale of the Leinster Leader Ltd newspaper group in 2005.

    ‘Extremely generous’

    Ms Connelly said that when the newspaper group was sold Mrs O’Kelly gave workers up to £3,000 each.

    “She was incredibly generous and I did know fairly early on about the Leinster Leader windfall which was so kind to the employees,” she said.

    “She thought that the staff worked hard, she wanted to say thank you to all of them and this is why she made the generous gift to them.

    “It was quite clever to keep it generous and low enough so it wouldn’t interfere too much with their tax affairs.”

    “One of our best treats at the society was every year for a long number of years after an annual general meeting in Nice, she would treat us to tea and scones in the local hotel, which is something we miss now.”

    Orphaned

    Mrs O’Kelly was born in France in January 1924 and was orphaned as an infant.

    She was raised by her paternal aunt in Dublin and married a British Army veterinary surgeon at the age of 21, going on to live in Ballygoran in Maynooth, County Kildare, where she was well-known for her active social life and her love of travel.

    “She had travelled very widely through Ireland and indeed throughout the world, particularly on her trips with the Georgian Society,” Ms Connelly said.

    “In the early days I knew her she spent a lot of time abroad and had a property in France.

    “She spoke the most beautiful French and cooked the most beautiful French food.”

    Charity windfall

    The Royal National Lifeboat Association (RNLI), Irish Cancer Society, Irish Heart Foundation, Irish Kidney Association and the Irish Society for Autistic Children all received an equal share of the bequest in Mrs O’Kelly’s will.

    The RNLI told BBC News NI the donation will help save lives “for many years to come”.

    It said Mrs O’Kelly “was a long-standing supporter” of the charity and volunteered for many years at an RNLI stall in Dublin.

    Lifeboat funding boost

    “Throughout her life, she displayed great kindness towards her many friends and was most charitable in supporting those in need,” an RNLI spokesperson said.

    “As this is such a large legacy, the RNLI will be carefully considering all options to ensure the funds are used where they are needed most and with a view to how they can be spent to fittingly reflect Mrs O’Kelly’s support for the charity.”

    The RNLI said donations in wills are vital to the charity’s work and fund six out of every 10 lifeboat launches.

    Patient support

    The Irish Kidney Association said it used some of the €6m it received to buy a house in Co Cork.

    The charity’s chief executive, Mark Murphy, told RTE the house, which backs onto the campus of Cork University Hospital, will be converted into a support centre for patients who do not need to be in hospital.

    It is also negotiating with the Health Service Executive to see if a dialysis unit in Tramore can be completed.

    Mr Murphy said the association has also donated money to renal medical research.

    Cancer Foundation’s largest ever donation

    The Irish Cancer Society said it received a €6m bequest from Mrs O’Kelly.

    It is the single largest donation ever received by the charity.

    The charity said that the donation will “enable us to deliver the kind of transformational change that would have been impossible otherwise.

    “On behalf of people affected by cancer all across Ireland, our supporters and volunteers, we are deeply grateful to her for making this possible,” a spokesperson said.

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    UK PM May says won't seek Brexit deal 'at any cost', needs more time

    LONDON (Reuters) – Britain needs more time to figure out a solution on the post-Brexit Irish border and will not accept a deal at any cost from Brussels, Prime Minister Theresa May told her cabinet on Tuesday.

    Up against a ticking clock to get a detailed plan in place before Britain leaves the EU in March, May is battling to find a way to meet the often contradictory demands from Brussels and rival factions within her own party.

    The prospect of failure has financial markets on edge, with sterling traders watching for any signs of progress at a regular meeting between May and her senior ministers on Tuesday.

    But May told her cabinet that more time was needed to clear the final hurdle standing between her and a deal on the terms of Britain’s withdrawal: the plan to ensure no hard border emerges between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland after Brexit.

    “(May) said that while 95 percent of the withdrawal agreement had been concluded, on the Northern Ireland backstop there are a number of issues that we still need to work through and these are the most difficult,” her spokesman told reporters.

    Cabinet considered options put forward by May’s attorney general on ways to give the EU an assurance that if talks on a permanent solution to the Irish border fail, a so-called backstop agreement would kick in.

    The spokesman said: “This includes ensuring that if the backstop is ever needed it is not permanent, and there is a mechanism to ensure the UK could not be held in the arrangement indefinitely.”

    No decisions were taken at cabinet and more work needed to be done on the British side, he said.

    That leaves only a slim chance that an agreement between British and EU negotiators can be reached in time to hold a summit of leaders in November to sign off the agreement.

    A British official speaking on the condition of anonymity said a November summit had begun to look like “a stretch”.

    Nevertheless, according to her spokesman, May opened the meeting by saying that while the UK should aim to conclude the withdrawal agreement as soon as possible, this would “not be done at any cost.”

    The spokesman also cautioned that an overall deal was made up of two parts: a withdrawal agreement, and a framework for future ties. Progress on the Irish backstop could seal the withdrawal agreement, but a deal would not have been completed until all details of the future framework were also tied up.

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