Showing posts with label N.Ireland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label N.Ireland. Show all posts

June 16, 2015

20,000 in N.Ireland: ‘Gay Marriage a Human Right’ and No Gay Marriage Here(N.Irel.story)


PREVENTING same-sex couples from marrying is a breach of their human rights, a rally in Belfast heard. 
Around 20,000 people crammed the city centre on Saturday afternoon demanding "marriage equality". 
The march was organized in the wake of the 'Yes' vote in the Republic which is set to legalize marriage for homosexual couples - and leave the north as the only part of Britain and Ireland where gay marriage remains illegal. 
Derry-born actor and singer Bronagh Gallagher sang with Quire - Belfast's LGBT choir - at the city hall event also attended by Snow Patrol front-man Gary Lightbody. 
The main demonstration followed a march from Ulster University on York Street and was organized by Amnesty International, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) and the Rainbow Project. 
Speaking to the crowd, head of Amnesty International in Northern Ireland Patrick Corrigan said it was "the most beautiful march" the city had ever seen. 
He used the platform to say: 
"Marriage equality is a human rights issue. 
"Human rights are very clear on the issue of equality. Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says: 'all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights'. 
"So it is simply unacceptable for the state to discriminate against people on the grounds of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 
"Amnesty International believes that states should end discrimination on this basis and instead ensure that all families are equally protected before the law." 
Politicians including the SDLP's Alex Attwood were among the thousands to take part in the march. 
Mr Attwood said the rally "sent a very strong message to legislators". 
"There is now a need for a new approach by the parties in Northern Ireland whereby the rights of the LGBT community are not only recognised but also endorsed in legislative form," he said. 
"To date, government has dragged its heels on the issue of LGBT rights - evidenced by the current blood ban and by the conscience clause bill brought forward by the DUP. 
"The overwhelmingly positive referendum held recently has showed that the tide is changing in relation to equal marriage in Ireland - the north is now clearly off-step with the rest of the UK in that regard." 
The assembly has rejected a proposal calling for the introduction of gay marriage after debating the issue for a fourth time. 
Sinn Féin said equality rights for same-sex couples must be shared by citizens in the north and it will continue to campaign for the reform. 
Other high-profile supporters of the campaign include singer Brian Kennedy and Olympic boxer Paddy Barnes.
Simon Cunningham

August 28, 2014

Rotherham in N.Ireland e n d e m i c of Sexually Abusing Children


Rotherham has been labelled a town of shame in the wake of revelations that 1,400 children were sexually exploited over a 16-year-period, but experts and campaigners argue the same abuse is continuing to happen across the country, and is hidden in other boroughs that refuse to acknowledge the problem.
"When you look at the Rotherham report – nature of the abuse, the failures – you could write the same report about any number of different places," said Dr Helen Beckett, of the International Centre, which researches child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking at the University of Bedfordshire. "What we see time and time again is that young people are not treated as victims, there is a real failure to see the vulnerability of these young people and instead write them off as out of control, problematic teenagers."
There is mounting evidence that the shocking revelations in the Rotherham report could provide a glimpse of the scale of childhood sexual abuse across the country, and not just in one town.
In an extensive report into the nature of child sexual exploitation, the Office of the Children's Commissioner identified 2,409 victims over a 14-month period and estimated that 16,500 children were at risk of a specific type of abuse that can see gangs of abusers grooming children as young as 11 in order to rape, sexually abuse and, in some cases, traffic them among other men and between cities.
"It's endemic," said Ray McMorrow, a health specialist at the National Working Group, a charity set up in Derby in the wake of the first prosecutions into child sexual exploitation. "Rotherham is just one of the places that it's been identified."
McMorrow acknowledged that in Rotherham, as well as other cases such as Derby, Rochdale, Telford and in Oxford, perpetrators have been mainly Asian, but said other cases were emerging with white perpetrators. Analysis of the 2012 report by the deputy children's commissioner said that 33% of child sex abuse by gangs in Britain was committed by Asians, where Asians are 7% of the population, but similarly concluded that it was "irresponsible" to dwell on ethnicity.
But he pointed to Operation Kern in Derby which saw the conviction of white abusers but received no national media coverage. White men were also found guilty in Torbay and a recent case in Peterborough involved men of Czech and Slovak Roma and Kurdish backgrounds.
"If we are only looking at one type of network involving only certain types of men and boys, then we are missing victims," he said.
According to Beckett, one of the leading voices of research into child sexual exploitation, while the crime is not new there is a sense that young people are more vulnerable to the type of grooming that can be carried out online, on social networks and by mobile phones. In Rotherham and other cases that have emerged since 2010, children have been groomed online, or controlled via texts. In some instances, explicit videos and pictures have been used to blackmail victims. "These avenues have given perpetrators more access and increased the risks for victims," she said.
Dr Ella Cockbain, a researcher at University College London (UCL), argues that the nature of the crime – and its victims – has enabled it to spread under the radar.
Barnardo's report into child sexual exploitation in Northern Ireland found that in a sample of children aged between 12 and 17 who were known to social services, one in seven were judged to be at risk of exploitation. The UCL study led by Cockbain which was released yesterday – looking at 9,042 children affected by sexual exploitation and supported by Barnardo's since 2008 – found that 48% of male victims and 28% of female victims who were helped had a criminal record. "While it is true to say this could happen to anybody, victims are more likely to be in the care system, and to have previous convictions," she said. "In some ways they are not obvious victims and that is why there has been a lag in response from the authorities."
A culture of impunity among abusers can also create an environment where abuse is almost casual. "Condom use is very low because they are not expecting to get caught. They use their own phones, take girls to their own houses – there has been this sense that everybody does it and everyone gets away with it.

April 16, 2014

After Attack and Overdose Gay Rights Advocate Left Dying 3 Hrs Before Police Gave help

                                                                       Terence McCartney had taken a combination of alcohol and prescription drugs

A coroner has raised serious questions after hearing how the PSNI took three hours to gain entry to a flat where a man had taken an overdose. 

Police told the inquest into the death of Terence McCartney (42) they had no means of getting into the apartment block where he lay dead or dying.

The well-known gay rights campaigner, known as Terry, had taken a combination of prescription drugs and alcohol.

The court heard that an hour before his body was found, Mr McCartney’s sister Caroline Ferry found a Facebook message from him that read: “Thank you for everything. Tell mum I’m sorry.”

He had also been assaulted just hours before he died in a suspected homophobic attack, although his injuries were not major.

Questioned by coroner Jim Kitson, one PSNI officer told the court there was no policy or procedure for keeping contact details for keyholders to apartment blocks in the city, or on how to gain entry to them.

The inquest heard that police had received an emergency call at 6.30am on February 5, 2013 from Mr McCartney's friend, Christine Hegarty.

She was very distressed after a telephone conversation she had just had with him, in which Mr McCartney told her repeatedly: “It's too late, it's over.”

A short time into the call Mr McCartney's speech became very slurred and he started making gurgling noises and could be heard gasping for air.

Ms Hegarty told the court she then used a second phone to call the police while trying to keep her friend talking.

But she said she ended the call to Mr McCartney on the advice of police — without having obtained an exact address for him.

Ms Hegarty explained that although she had previously seen Mr McCartney on a daily basis, he had moved to an apartment in John Street three weeks previously and she was unsure of the exact address.

Police were dispatched to John Street 10 minutes after Ms Hegarty made the call.

Two officers successfully gained entry to one block of apartments there, and were able to establish that Mr McCartney wasn't known there.

But two other officers were unable to gain entry to the second block — Meridian Court apartments — where Mr McCartney was living. A police officer told the court that neither he nor his colleague knew the code for the outer door that would allow them inside. He said that even though they rang the internal buzzers of all 30-plus apartments, no-one answered.

By the time police gained entry to Mr McCartney’s flat at around 9.30am, he was already dead.

The call dispatch officer who was on duty at the time confirmed that there was no policy or procedure within the PSNI in Derry whereby they held contact details for keyholders of apartment blocks, or other details to gain entry.

Mr Kitson voiced his concern about this and said: “If something like this happened in the city tonight does it not concern you that you would not be able to gain entry?”

The officer said it was a matter of concern but added: “There is a large number of apartments in the city so it would be quite a task to actually go around and get codes into all of them.”

Mr Kitson said that this failure to gain entry “was one factor in this case”. He ruled that Mr McCartney had sadly died as a result of choking.

He said this had been brought on by a failure of his gag reflexes due to the effects of the high levels of alcohol and prescription drugs in his system.

“Having heard from Terry's family and friend Christine and from his GP it is clear that Terry was a gentleman who clearly had issues around substance abuse who had previous indulged in self harm and had attempted suicide,” said the coroner.

“I am not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that this was a serious suicide attempt, but was a cry for help.”

Mother weeps as she hears of son’s last hours

Terence McCartney's grieving mother wept as she listened to harrowing evidence about the final few hours of her son's life during his inquest in Londonderry yesterday.

Coroner James Kitson heard from Mr McCartney's friends how he was prone to binge drinking and had in the past taken ‘legal highs' but that he had hoped to go to a detox centre to get help to stop drinking.

His substance abuse was confirmed in a statement from his GP who also provided evidence that Mr McCartney had a history of self-harm and previous suicide attempts.

Margaret McCartney, who is wheelchair bound, was comforted by her family during the difficult and painful evidence about her son.

The court was told how he had been assaulted by a group of men in what is understood to be a homophobic attack on Shipquay Street at around 1.30am on February 5, 2013.

However results of a post-mortem showed that although there were minor cuts and abrasions on Mr McCartney's face consistent with a fall to the ground and a punch to the mouth they would not have contributed to his death a few hours later.

One witness, Gavin Gillespie, told the court that he had been driving around Derry with two friends between 1am and 2am on February 5, 2013 and saw Mr McCartney on Shipquay Street.

Mr Gillespie said they stopped and spent some time with Mr McCartney and shared a bottle of whiskey Mr McCartney had with him.

They left but returned 45 minutes later and saw Mr McCartney still there — but by now there was also a group of around 15 men present.

Mr Gillespie said he got out of the car and his two companions left. Mr McCartney was being verbally abused by some of the crowd, with one man in particular “being mouthy”.

Mr McCartney was described as being polite and had “tried to calm things down”. Mr Gillespie said he left the scene after trying to “stand up” for Mr McCartney when the man who was being abusive to Mr McCartney challenged him.

Mr McCartney's friend Christine Hegarty told the court that when she was talking to him just a few hours later he had said: “You should see the state of my face.” He added: “I am fed up with all of it.”

Ms Hegarty added that she offered to take Mr McCartney to hospital but he repeatedly told her: “It’s done, it's too late.”


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