Nina Petrauskiene has been located safe and well. Your assistance in this matter is much appreciated and no further action is required.
The High Court has refused an application by a Sinn Féin TD seeking to have the Referendum Commission withdraw some remarks it made earlier this month.
The case centred on statements made by the commission about whether Ireland has a veto over the establishment of the EU’s permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism.
The statements, relating to the European Stability Mechanism, were made on 3 May and 18 May.
In the High Court this morning, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan said there was no difference between two statements by the commission, as had been alleged.
And he said the commission had acted in a sincere, genuine and measured way to the best of what he called its “very considerable ability”.
In an affidavit, Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty had alleged that some of the commission’s statements were inaccurate and were biased towards the Yes side.
The outcome of the case has no bearing on the holding of tomorrow’s referendum.
Last night, Mr Doherty’s Senior Counsel, Richard Humphreys, told the court that the first statement got a lot of attention in the media, gave prominence to the Yes argument and the words used gave the impression Ireland could not veto the ESM.
Mr Humphreys said the statement was not accurate.
He said a second statement by the commission indicated it was still open to Ireland to use the veto.
Michael Collins, Senior Counsel for the Referendum Commission, said the application was “flawed” and “misconceived”.
He said there was no inconsistency between the two statements and there was nothing wrong with the first statement.
Mr Collins also said that Mr Doherty had waited until the eve of the broadcast moratorium, which starts later today, to bring his application although the first statement was made on 3 May.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Doherty said he had not wanted to go to the courts, but claimed the Referendum Commission had not replied to two letters from his party.
However, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore described the court challenge as a “stunt”.
“I think that this is a last-minute publicity stunt by Sinn Féin to throw a bit of sand in the eyes of everybody and to create additional confusion before the actual vote takes place,” Mr Gilmore said.
The Tánaiste also categorically ruled out the possibility of a second referendum on the fiscal treaty should it be rejected in tomorrow’s vote.
A High Court ruling on a challenge by Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty to the Referendum Commission will be handed down this morning, just one day before the vote.
Mr Justice Hogan said that, given the importance of the issue, he would rule at 10.30 am today.
The Donegal TD wants clarification on comments by the Commission’s chairperson earlier this month in relation to Ireland’s veto of the ESM.
Pearse Doherty’s lawyers say they want a declaration to dispel the confusion as to whether the Government can still veto the ESM after the Fiscal Treaty is signed.
The spat related to an explanation given by chair of the commission, Mr Justice Kevin Feeney, early in the campaign.
Mr Doherty said this explanation had implied that Ireland could not reject the establishment of the new European €500bn bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism.
They say the Referendum Commission has issued contradictory statements on the issue, but that some statements had received more publicity than others, inadvertently benefitting the Yes campaign.
When lawyers for the Referendum Commission countered that there had been no inconsistency, Pearse Doherty’s lawyers replied that, in that case, they had got it wrong.
In its submissions, the commission denied there was any legal authority for the proposition that the Government had an executive power to veto the ESM having signed up to the agreement.
They reject out of hand that any statement by the Commission had favoured the yes side.
The outcome of the hastily arranged case will have no effect on the holding of tomorrow’s referendum, but will judge whether the commission made comments that were biased against the no side.
The commission had opposed Mr Doherty’s application. Michael Collins SC, for the commission, told the court the application was “flawed and misconceived”.
Mr Doherty’s application focused on comments made by Mr Justice Feeney on May 3 when he said Ireland had “already agreed to the establishment of the ESM”.
The statement added: “The Dáil and Seanad had yet to rectify the treaty” and “it was clear that a veto could have been exercised but Ireland has already agreed to the establishment of the ESM”.
In an affidavit, Mr Doherty says he is not challenging the holding of the referendum or favouring any side, but rather is concerned with the conduct of the commission in relation to the comments made earlier this month.
More than 130 premises have been raided and eight people arrested in a cross-border operation targeting organised prostitution, criminality and money-laundering.
The operation in the south involved more than 200 officers and was led by members of the Organised Crime Unit based at the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation supported by officers from all Garda regions.
A man in his 40s and a woman in her 20s are being questioned at Dundrum garda station, and a woman in her 20s is being held in Store Street garda station.
Police in the North rescued three suspected victims of human trafficking when they searched 10 brothels yesterday.
Five people were arrested as every county across the north, and Belfast and Derry cities, were visited during Operation Quest.
At the same time detectives in the south searched 114 apartments, flats and houses. One man and two women were arrested for questioning.
A significant amount of documents, cash, mobile phones and computers were seized in both jurisdictions and are expected to result in several bank accounts being frozen.
PSNI Detective Superintendent Philip Marshall said: “We are determined to actually do something about this problem. It is not something society should stand for. It is a criminal offence and police do take it seriously.”
He said yesterday’s events demonstrated the commitment of the Gardaí, PSNI and other law enforcement agencies across Europe.
Officers in the North visited more than 20 addresses and searched several of them.
A PSNI spokesman said they believed 10 of these locations were being used for the purposes of prostitution. The operation resulted in five arrests for a variety of offences and three suspected victims of human trafficking were rescued, police added.
It involved 170 police officers across the North and had been planned for several weeks.
Detectives received support from women’s help organisations who deal with rescued victims of trafficking and representatives of the Gardaí were in the Belfast command room. Women were taken to special suites at police stations for dealing with those trapped in the sex trade.
Police questioned one woman discovered at a flat in the city centre. A team of officers with specialist equipment including heavy duty lock breakers had mustered nearby and broke into the locked flat within seconds after a knock to the door went unanswered.
Three or four officers pushed the door open, rushed into the room shouting “police” and found the woman, of foreign appearance, inside. Police wearing rubber purple gloves conducted a thorough search and gathered evidence in a special plastic bag.
The woman was later led away for questioning, a black coat hiding her features from cameras.
Det Supt Marshall said officers were responding to concerns in wider society about sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
“Today’s operation is focused on getting information and evidence on the extent of the problem of organised prostitution in Ireland,” he added. “We suspect there is a number of crime gangs involved in this.”
The probe was not focused particularly on paramilitaries.
A garda spokesman said: “During the investigation to date it has been established that prostitution is organised on a cross-border basis and today’s joint operation was specifically aimed at individuals and groups intent on making profits from vulnerable members of society across the island of Ireland.
“The policy of An Garda Siochana is to treat women involved as witnesses/victims unless significant evidence comes to light suggesting direct involvement in organised prostitution or brothel-keeping.
“Specific training has been provided to gardaí investigating this type of crime who continue to liaise closely with various support groups working in this area.”
Gerardine Rowley, of support group Ruhama, said the cross-border operation across the island of Ireland was a new approach to helping victims of prostitution, who would be treated as witnesses.
Almost 60 alleged victims of human trafficking – including six Irish children – were reported to gardaí last year.
“Organised prostitution has been growing the last number of years and criminals don’t see a border,” she said.
“This is going after the organisers who are making money from women who are vulnerable and controlled.”
An organisation that campaigns for ethnic minorities has said the North had the fastest growing sex industry in any part of the UK.
The claim was made as Stormont Justice Minister David Ford announced plans for two new laws to combat human trafficking. Between April last year and February this year police identified 26 potential victims in the North from countries including Ghana, Zimbabwe, China and Slovakia.
In February, a man was convicted for trafficking in a court in the North for the first time.
Gardaí in Dublin are asking for the public’s help in finding a missing woman.
Nina Petrauskiene, 69, is originally from Lithuania and was last seen walking in the Harrington Street area of the city on Monday morning.Nina is described as being 5″ 9′ and has a slight build, with black hair and green eyes. There is no picture of Nina currently available.
Nina has very little English.
When last seen, she was wearing a red short-sleeved knitted top and a long black skirt. She may also have been carrying an orange handbag.Anyone with information is asked to contact garda at Kevin Street Garda Station on 01 – 6669400.
As part of a co-ordinated operation An Garda Síochána and the Police Service of Northern Ireland yesterday carried out a large number of searches across both jurisdictions.
Yesterday’s operation is part of Operation Quest which focuses on securing convictions against individuals involved in organising prostitution, brothel keeping and associated offences including money laundering.
The operation which commenced at mid-day yesterday has so far resulted in the search of over 100 premises (mainly apartments, flats and houses) in the Republic of Ireland.
Three people have been arrested.
A man in his 40s and a female in her 20s are currently detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984 at Dundrum Garda Station. Another female in her 20s is currently detained at Store Street Garda Station also under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act.
A large amount of documentation, cash, mobile phones and computers have also been seized.
The Garda operation, which involves over 200 Gardaí, was led by members of the Organised Crime Unit based at the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation supported by officers from all Garda Regions.
A third phase is ongoing.
During the investigation to date it has been established that prostitution is organised on a cross-border basis and this joint operation was specifically aimed at individuals and groups intent on making profits from vulnerable members of society across the island of Ireland.