The Week: News Highlights 2nd Aug 2017

We look at the latest news highlights from Ireland

Week News Highlights 2nd Aug 2017
31/07/2017 LÉ William Butler Yeats Conducts First Search and Rescue Operation Since Deploying to the Mediterranean. / Defence Forces Press Office

Irish navy vessel William Butler Yeats saves 109 people

The main telegraph from the sunken RMS Lusitania was last week recovered from the sea bed off the Head of Kinsale after an attempt to recover it last year failed.

On 7 May 1915, six days after leaving New York, the vessel was attacked and struck by a torpedo fired by a German U-boat. In just 18 minutes, the boat sank and 1,198 people lost their lives.

The owner of the Lusitania wreck, Greg Bemis, and the Irish government gave permission to divers to bring the machine ashore, supervised by archaeologists. Ireland’s Arts, Culture, Heritage and Gaeltacht Minister Heather Humphreys said the “important piece” of the Lusitania was “undamaged and in excellent condition”.

“I also understand that the owner of wreck, Gregg Bemis, intends to place the telegraph and the pedestal successfully recovered last year, on display in a local museum, along with other artefacts he has recovered during earlier dives, which is great news for the local community.”

Week News Highlights 2nd Aug 2017

Telegraph from Lusitania recovered from sea bed

Irish navy vessel the LÉ William Butler Yeats rescued 109 refugees off Libya’s coast on Sunday, following a request from the Italian Maritime Rescue Co-Ordination Centre. It took four hours to rescue the migrants off Tripoli, before providing food and medical treatment.

The rescued migrants were then transferred to the Italian Coast Guard.

It was the new vessel’s first humanitarian search and rescue mission since being deployed on 14 July. It happened as the Irish parliament approved a motion to to allow the Irish Defence Forces to join the EU’s Operation Sophia, set up in 2015 to stop gangs from human trafficking, mainly through Libya.

Irish operations in the area until now, under Operation Pontus, have been a bilateral arrangement with the Italian government, and have helped save almost 16,000 children, women and men from drowning in the southern Mediterranean during the last two years.

Last Sunday’s rescue was part of Pontus, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar defended Ireland’s decision to participate in Operation Sophia after Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said it was “military focused” and Ireland is neutral.

Mr Varadkar said it was necessary because: “People from as far away as Afghanistan and southern Africa are travelling to Libya where there are human traffickers making an absolute fortune.”

Week News Highlights 2nd Aug 2017
Professor Tony Byrne, Engineering research Institute

£6 million research project to find safe water solutions for developing world

Ulster University has announced a £6 million global research project into low cost technologies for safe drinking water in developing regions.

Its SAFEWATER research programme seeks clean water solutions and the development of smart devices to quickly tell if water is safe to drink. £4.7 million of the funding will be provided by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Research Councils UK Collective Fund, and the project will see Ulster University join forces with other partners across the globe to conduct the research.

This includes academics in South America and NGOs already working in Colombia and Mexico.

Lead researcher, Professor Tony Byrne from Ulster University, said: “This is a very significant project which will play a critical role in helping to address one of the greatest global issues the developing world is facing today.

“In the developed world, we take it for granted that our drinking water is safe yet nearly 25 per cent of the global population drink water that is not safe because of contamination that can cause deadly disease. Clean water saves lives and while we know how to make water safe to drink the cost of doing so may be too high as nearly half the world’s population live on less than £2 per day.

“Ulster University will lead on this cutting-edge research which will form part of the SAFEWATER project. It will involve academics from the University of Sao Paulo Brazil and the University of Medellin Colombia, along with the NGOs Fundacion Cantaro Azul Mexico and CTA Colombia who are already working with, and trusted by, the local people.

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