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Hannah Popham 

Minister for Justice condemns hate mail sent to members of the Muslim community

Credit WikiCommons

Credit WikiCommons

The Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has condemned hate mail that has been sent to members of the Muslim community in Ireland.

An unsigned letter containing a photo of Micheal Collins was sent to a number of schools and mosques, threatening violent action if the proposed plan for a new Mosque in Dublin goes ahead. The letter contained threats such as ‘We will defend the faith by any means against the expansion of the Muslim faith’ and continued to threaten that they “will attack any Muslim man, women and child that enter any Mosque in Ireland”.

Mr. Shatter said in a statement that he condemns any “racism and religious bigotry in all their forms” and said he is “appalled by the nature of the communications”.

The letter and its violent intent have been condemned by the Irish Immigrant Council with a statement saying “A hate campaign against the Muslim community in Dublin must be fully investigated and those responsible prosecuted”.

Ahmed, who works at the Clonskeagh Mosque in Dublin, insisted that there is a good attitude towards Muslim people in Ireland saying that it is “generally peaceful”. He claimed that the violent letter instils “no fear at all” in Muslims in Ireland and that the act is an isolated incident that is not acceptable in a multicultural society.   He said: “We don’t care about the letter; the act is not acceptable but it will not shake our belief in God”.

There are currently over 65,000 Muslims living in Ireland, with over a third of those being born in the country.

Gavin Lacey

No snow on Christmas Day

Credit Irishtimes.ie

Credit irishtimes.ie

Notorious weather forecaster Ken Ring, who successfully predicted the July heat wave back in January and our extreme winter of 2010, expects snow in December but Ireland will miss out on a white Christmas. The New Zealander uses the moon, sun and tidal activity to make his forecasts.

Talking to the Irish Examiner, Ring says “Some southern areas may get isolated heavier falls but these are not expected to be widespread. There will be a sudden downward plunge into sub-zeros in the last few days of November. The first serious cold spell is in the last few days of November with the possibility of widespread snow on or near the last day”.

“There may be chances of snow in the last days of the year and the first few days of January, in the third week of February and in the first week of March” he said.

The weather expert is not expecting the arctic conditions of 2010 to return.

A Dublin City Council spokesperson, along with the Stephen Smith from NRA (National Road Authority), confirmed that they have increased their stock pile of salt since the severe winter of 2010. Their current stock pile is 2200 tonnes, with a reserve of 2000 tonnes. From October until March the Dublin City Council monitors road conditions and responds once temperatures reach below 1 degree Celsius. They cover approx. 300 km of Dublin city roads concentrating predominantly on key roads, bus routes and emergency routes, but housing estates are not included. Once in operation, 80-100 tonnes of salt could be used on a severe night.

Last week, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr. Alan Shatter, T.D., and Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Mr. Phil Hogan, T.D. launched the Government’s ‘Be Winter Ready’ 2013-2014 Information Campaign at the National Emergency Coordination Centre in Dublin. Advice from Government departments, the Gardaí, the HSE, local authorities and transport providers will now be available on the website www.winterready.ie.

The campaign intends to provide practical advice on how best to prepare for the coming winter. It aims to ensure the public are aware of where advice and help can be found if needed and to reassure the public that arrangements have been put in place to ensure that there will be a coordinated response to severe weather events.

The weather, as un-predictable as it is to most of us, remains unthreatening. Most of us can rest assured if Ring’s predictions are true, along with the comprehensive preparations in place at the NRA and Dublin City Council, a severe winter doesn’t pose a threat.

Lilah Gaafar

Be prepared, stay safe and know where to find help if you need it

Credit K Meighan

Credit K Meighan

WINTERY showers have hit the country this morning with temperatures predicted to plummet as low as -4C later in the week, with snowfall in particular regions.

Residents of Ulster as well as North Connacht and Leinster are being warned to be wary of these conditions and are reminded to drive with caution of icy patches on roads.

Although these harsh conditions are to be seen in parts of the country in the next few days, Met Eireann’s head of forecasting Gerald Fleming thankfully stated last week that there is no reason to believe this winter will be ‘particularly severe’, with assurance very harsh winters occur roughly once a decade.

Big freezes, major chills or large floods are not predicted for the upcoming season with Fleming adding: ‘There is nothing in the runes to suggest that it will be anything other than a normal winter, bringing its share of wet and windy weather and some frosty nights.’

Although this prediction is being welcomed by the public and government, cautionary measures are still being taken with the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning launching its third annual Winter Ready campaign earlier this month.

Up to 210,000 tonnes of salt will be in storage ready to use on the Nation’s roads with an additional 30,000 being made available to motorway operators.

Chariman of the Task Force; Justice Minister Alan Shatter announced last week that there will be ‘enough salt to keep every fish and chip shop around the country operating for over a decade.’

The ‘Be Winter Ready’ information campaign has also been set up for the benefit of the public dealing with harsh conditions this year with information from different Government departments: An Garda Siochana, local authorities, transport providers and the Health Service Executive via its website, an information booklet they are circulating as well as Twitter (@emergencyIE). The public are encouraged to join the conversation with #bewinterready.

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has stated that although no sever conditions are predicted this year, ‘drawing on the experience of previous years and lessons learned, both central and local government are prepared and ready to respond to incidents of severe weather and to restore normal society’s functioning.’

Ann-Marie Donelan