Social Democrats gain cross-party support for new protections for tenants

Eoin Stynes reports on the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Bill, which will seek to provide tenants with more security while renting

Mic Christopher remembered

On the 29th November 2001, Ireland lost one of its most eclectic and talented troubadours. Singer-songwriter Mic Christopher – aged just thirty two – died tragically after an accidental fall on steps in the Netherlands, the same night he opened for his musical heroes, The Waterboys.

Now sixteen years later, Mic is remembered through the release of his debut album Skylarkin’ on vinyl for the first time.

This feat was achieved through Born Optimistic, an Irish record label and concert promoter. Through the help of Born Optimistic’s founder and former friend of Mic’s, Donal Scannell, and by the request of the late singer’s family, the occasion was marked with the vinyl release.

Andrew Gleeson, Assistant Promoter and Producer at Born Optimistic said, “Mic’s family ordered a substantial amount of his album on vinyl as it was approaching the anniversary of his death. Donal, who had been friends with Mic had also been thinking of doing something to mark the anniversary too and got in touch. Mic’s family then asked him to release it through Born Optimistic.

“The family didn’t necessarily want to make a big deal out of the release, just enough to celebrate him so that fans could avail of the iconic album in a way they hadn’t before,” Andrew said.

Michael “Mic” Christopher, born in 1969 in the Bronx, New York to Irish parents, moved to the then relatively new area of Clondalkin when he was a toddler. Mic’s family were self-proclaimed Elvis fanatics with music being programmed into the young Mic’s mind as a child. From the age of fifteen, Mic began making the trek into the city centre to busk on Grafton Street. It was there he met fellow busker Glen Hansard and the pair quickly became best friends. With their natural showmanship and powerful voices, the pair became a formidable duo act playing to the masses on Grafton Street. The two rented a flat on Harcourt Street for quick and easy access to their workplace.

Last year for Mic’s 15 year death anniversary, Glen Hansard and several of Mic’s former busker friends performed a sold out show in Vicar St. titled “Glen Hansard and friends sing the songs of Mic Christopher” where they performed Skylarkin’ in full.

Mic formed the band ‘The Mary Janes’ in 1990 and performed with the band up until their split in 1999. What Mic is known mostly for however is his posthumously released first and only solo album Skylarkin’, and its blissful songs that remain just as influential and significant as they did back on the album’s first release in 2002.

The lead single of the album, “Heyday”, featured famously in a 2003 Guinness ad and would become an Irish anthem in the following years, with tracks such as “Listen Girl” and “Daydreamin’” fully encapsulating the singer’s writing talents and seemingly limitless future potential. The album achieved platinum status in 2004, selling 15,000 copies, and though sadly this was a feat that Mic did not live to see, the songs still resonate in Irish culture.

The vinyl release of Skylarkin’ on what would have been the singer-songwriter’s 48th birthday is not just a remembrance of a true Irish talent, but a celebration of art and creativity living on long after death.

Skylarkin’ is available for order here:

By Killian Dowling


The price of peace: statistics from An Garda Síochána reveal the risks members of the force must deal with daily.

It is common knowledge that occupational hazards are very much part and parcel of choosing an occupation with An Garda Síochána. The first half of the 2010s it seems however, were particularly dangerous years for members of the force.

Figures released from An Garda Síochána’s Freedom of Information office have revealed the number of injuries sustained by members of the force since 2008. Most notable of these statistics are the number of assaults on gardaí and the number of road accidents, which have taken place.

2008 as shown below reveals that the number of recorded assaults on members of the force had begun to see a decrease from 2009 onwards, only to skyrocket in 2013. The figures continue to elevate to just under 300 attacks on gardaí in 2015. Interestingly however, the number eases in 2016 and has reached 153 so far this year.


On duty members of the gardaí throughout 2010 to 2016 have been involved in a large number of road traffic related accidents, with figures of injuries sustained by gardaí reaching almost 100 per year. 2009 saw a drop by about 22%, only to increase again by another 30% the year after. The trend eases in 2011 to 84, but rises until 2013 to 128 accidents, a spike of 35% in the space of two years.

This current year, however, the figures for recorded road accidents stand at 61.


Figures from the garda appropriation accounts of 2016 have shown that the number of garda vehicles damaged over the past eight years have risen substantially. While 2008 saw 482 recorded vehicles damaged in the year, both attributable and not attributable to gardaí, that figure has not once decreased since then.

The number of damaged vehicles peaks in 2015 at 682, the closest figures to that being 667 damaged vehicles in 2011 and 639 2012. There has however been a somewhat significant decrease in these numbers last year with the number of damaged vehicles totalling 602, an easing of 11.8%.


By Henry Phipps

Paper Bear trying to crack Irish Christmas card market

A Dublin based greeting card company has come up with a novel approach to producing Christmas cards., is a pop up card company that makes greeting cards for all occasions including Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, get well cards and even cards depicting famous Irish landmarks … all ideal for sending to loved ones living abroad.

With the busy Christmas period upon us, PaperBear are producing new designs, including Comet the reindeer, Christmas Molly Malone figures and Dublin bridge scenes.

The cards retail between €3.99 and €6.99 and there are also multipack sets available for €11-€20.



Set up in 2013, this is PaperBear’s fourth year in business. The company was set up by Katie and Aaron Dowling.

Speaking about the inspiration behind the business, Aaron Dowling said the idea came following a trip to Spain, where they saw a pop up card shop and seeing potential in the idea, they decided to put their business skills together and set up the company.

“The process begins with drawing out a sketch for a card idea. Once we work on the design more and finalise it, we create a 3D sketch. We use Corel Draw do add layers to the picture to bring it to life. Then we cut the layers out and create the objects that will pop out of the card.

“We are aware of the global implications of using our resources like paper but since March 2017, we have worked with One Tree Planted. We plant a tree every day in places like the Amazon and Kenya … so that we can give back.


“We have a stall set up at the Dun Laoghaire Christmas markets this year which we are proud to be a part of.”

The opening days and times for the markets can be found on the website under their events calendar.

By Nicole McNelis

Video: Ibrahim Halawa on his time in an Egyptian prison


Ibrahim Halawa speaks to Hajar Akl, Mary-Kate Findon & Leanne Salmon about the 4 years he spent in prison in Egypt and how he is adapting to life back home in Dublin.

Cyclist safety uncertain as Luas Cross City prepares to launch

With the Luas Cross City project almost launched, Lee Shields explores the dangers to the city’s cyclists as Luas tracks have been extended across the city.

The new Luas Cross City line is due for it’s official start of service on Saturday at 2pm.  The service is an extension of the Green Line through the City Centre to Broombridge.

The project was started back in June 2013 and has produced an additional 5.9km of track through countless hours of costly construction to deliver a more efficient travel for cross city commuters.

This new line, although a welcomed change to a somewhat primitive city in public transport as compared to our European counterparts, has come with some backlash.  That being the safety of cyclists, where problems arose even during the construction of the tracks.

Areas which have proved problematic are those which are heavily congested with traffic, with luas tracks on the road and it’s difficult to manoeuvre with cars tailgating.  The affected areas include Dawson Street, Nassau Street, Lower Grafton Street and College Street on the south side and Parnell Square, Dominick Street and Marlborough Street on the north side.

These areas were included in a report by the National Transport Association (NTA).  The report called ‘Assessment of cycling feasibility on the Luas Cross City route’, was published in mid-October. However, Colm Ryder, the chairperson from the Dublin Cycling Campaign (DCC), stated that although the report issued a variety of warnings on safety for cyclists at these locations, “There has been a deal of confusion over this report and its recommendations.”

Mr. Ryder informed me that over the past year DCC had been engaging with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), the agency responsible for cyclists’ safety.  However, although discussions were progressing they have ceased, and he said, “no developments have taken place since early this year, which, to say the least, is very disappointing and we could even say negligent on the part of TII.”

One safety precautioned that had been discussed was a rubber infill along the tracks that would be mostly dangerous towards cyclists.  These rubber infills deemed to be quite expensive, ranging to €800,000 per kilometre.  However, the engineering consultants, Jacobs, deemed that it would only be necessary in high risk areas.  But, the trams would end up tearing the rubber, and would need replacing regularly.

Image: Lee Shields


Colm Ryder stated, “Rubberised track inserts have been discussed, and initially recommended in the 2012 Jacobs Report.  But, TII state that the replacement cost of these is too prohibitive.  Dublin Cycling Campaign say that not enough investigation has been done in terms of their efficacy, but also how many locations would they be required in? We have been told that they would have to be replaced regularly, but that should not be the issue. If they have to be replaced so be it, if they improve safety.”

I got in contact with TII and the LuasPR returned somewhat contradictory statements.  They said, “Regarding the rubber infill, it is deemed better practice to not have infill in the track areas once trams are running to schedule which has been the case now for 3 months.”

As regards to their concern about cyclist safety, they said that a final review has been carried out on the design of traffic arrangements at busy junctions such as College Green.  They state that signage will be erected in these areas advising cyclists to dismount before entering the area and remount when it is safe to do so.  However, Colm Ryder added to this point saying, “to be clear cyclists are not banned from using any part of the on-street LUAS lines on the new route.”

In addition to the signage, LuasPR said, “In parallel with the erection of the new signage NTA are also working with Dublin City Council to provide a two-way cycle lane through College Green (on the Bank of Ireland side) which will link College Street to Dame Street (for westbound cyclists) and link Dame Street to Westmoreland Street (for northbound cyclists). This cycle-way does not form part of the Luas Cross City project.”  Obviously new specific cycle lanes would increase safety, but how long this will take remains unclear.

As regards to complaints put forward on this matter they said, “There have been a relatively small number of complaints during the project which have been dealt with on an individual basis by our team.”  Colm Ryder contradicts this claim however saying that, “In relation to cyclists’ complaints, we in Dublin Cycling Campaign have received numerous stories and reports of cycling accidents/incidents over the past months, some of them quite serious.”

“We recommend that cyclists proceed with the greatest caution when riding parallel to the tracks, and ideally keep their speed at a safe level, to ensure that they can make any required manoeuvres easily and safely.  But in the case of the Dublin track layout, an awful lot is being asked of the cyclist, in terms of trying to stay safe!”