The Week: News highlights 18th February 2017

News highlights from Ireland, here, and around the world…

Week News highlights 18th February 2017
Pic Joe Dunne/Photocall Ireland!

First drug injection centre to open

The Irish Government has approved the country’s first injection centre for drug addicts. Based in Dublin, the £1 million (€1.2 million) unit will grant users access to clean needles to take their own drugs with while trained medical staff supervise.

While possession and use of heroin will be permitted in the centre, it will remain illegal to sell or supply drugs outside of it.

Junior Health Minister Catherine Byrne, a Fine Gael Dublin South-Central TD, said: “They will provide a controlled place for people to inject, but will be much more than that — a place to rest, have a chat and access the services people need. “I believe in a health-led and person-centred approach to the drug problem. For me, this is all about people and looking after the most vulnerable and marginalised in our society.”

The move hopes to see fewer addicts taking drugs on the streets, using needles which are then discarded and pose a danger to the public.

“The human cost of public injecting is clear and keeps adding up — the lack of dignity, the effect it has on people’s health, well-being and safety,” Ms Byrne said. “We know these facilities are not the sole solution to the problem and many other steps are needed, but I am committed to doing everything we can to help those who need it most.”

Week News highlights 18th February 2017

DNA Research tracesTraveller background

A new study has shed some light on the genetic make-up of Irish Travellers, dispelling the myth that they split from the settled community during the Famine. The work, carried out by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCSI) and the University of Edinburgh, shows that the separation occurred in the mid-17th century rather than during the Great Hunger.

However, it also proved that, while Irish Travellers do share a common ancestry with the settle community in Ireland, genetically speaking, they are as different as the Spanish.

“The genetic distance that exists between Travellers and the settled population can be attributed to genetic drift, brought on by hundreds of years of genetic isolation combined with a decreasing population size,” Gianpiero Cavalleri of the RCSI told

“When populations are small and tend not to mix with other communities, the gene frequencies can change very quickly and that extends the genetic distance.”

This perhaps explains why, in spite of what most people think, Irish Travellers do not share genetic links with Roma gypsies, nor are they a hybrid population of settled Irish and the European Roma.

Professor Cavalleri said: “There are lots of misconceptions around who Travellers are and what their history is.

“First of all there is no connection with Roma gypsies; people use these terms interchangeably but there is no ancestry between Irish Travellers and Roma gypsies.”

Week News highlights 18th February 2017
Red Planet Pictures – Photographer: Steffan Hill

Ardal O’Hanlon takes up prime time BBC detective role

Monaghan comedian Ardal O’Hanlon is about to star in BBC’s Death in Paradise, after it was announced he would be taking over from Kris Marshall. The Love, Actually actor bowed out of the drama series last week as his character decided to quit the Carribean sunshine for the grey skies of London.

And now producers have confirmed that O’Hanlon will feature in the final two episodes of the series which air on BBC1 at 9pm on Thursdays.

Marshall had taken over the lead role as DI Humphrey Goodman in 2014 after Ben Miller’s DI Richard Poole was killed off. Father Ted actor Ardal O’Hanlon will arrive on the fictional Caribbean island of Saint-Marie, after his London-based DI Jack Mooney exchanged jobs with Goodman who chose to stay in the UK with Martha (Sally Bretton).

In a recent interview with the Radio Times, O’Hanlon says he often amends scripts he is given as is ‘very conscious of the way the Irish are represented’. “In every show I’ve been involved in I read the script, take out the Irishisms right away and say, ‘I’ll supply those’,” he said.


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