Evening top 5: Religious congregations defend contributions; new Junior Cert reforms welcomed

The biggest stories on Newstalk.com this Thursday evening...

Religious congregations have been defending their contribution to the cost of the child abuse redress scheme.

It follows reports today that just 13% has been received, of the promised 50/50 compensation split with the State.

Initial estimates placed the cost at €250 million but the final bill is over €1.5 billion.

The Christian Brothers have responded, saying they have paid €24 million to date with another ten million on the way after property sales later this year.

The Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy has also issued a statement tonight saying it has honoured all of its commitments - and the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, who managed St Conleth's Reformatory in Daingean on behalf of the state until 1971, says it paid it's voluntary contribution in full in 2013.

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The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland welcomed the decision by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) to allow all Junior Cycle students to undertake an Assessment Task as part of their English examination.

The Assessment Task will be externally assessed by the SEC. Students will have access to 100% of their marks.

ASTI President Ed Byrne said: “We welcome the State Examinations Commission decision, announced earlier this week, which takes into account the ASTI’s view that teachers should not be involved in the assessment of their own students for the Junior Cycle.

"We believe it is vital that all elements of Junior Cycle assessment are undertaken in a fair, impartial and transparent manner.”

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The spring weather is only just beginning, but ahead of the summer concerns are already being raised about the recurring problem of seagulls in Dublin.

Over the last few years, the issue has been raised in the Seanad on several occasions - with Fianna Fáil's Ned O'Sullivan even gaining widespread media attention after claiming seagulls in the city centre had 'lost the run of themselves'.

As the better weather approaches, the seagull concerns are being raised yet again - and this time Balbriggan is in the spotlight.

Fianna Fáil Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee has highlighted the issue with the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs.

Senator Clifford-Lee spoke to Newstalk Breakfast about the scale of the problem in the north Dublin town.

 

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A man who was knocked down in a hit and run overnight is in a critical condition in hospital.

A vehicle struck the man at Hazelwood Drive in the Coolock area of Dublin at around 9.45pm last night. The vehicle has been described as a white Renault Megane van.

The man - who is in his late 20s - was out jogging at the time of the collision.

The injured man was taken to Beaumont Hospital after receiving medical assistance at the scene. His condition is described as critical.

Gardai have appealed for witnesses.

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A flight from Las Vegas to Hawaii diverted to Los Angeles yesterday morning due to a dispute over a blanket.

Local media reports that, around an hour into the Hawaiian Airlines flight, there was a disagreement between a passenger and the flight crew over the $12 (€11.30) charge for a blanket.

Rob Pedregon, a spokesperson for LA airport police, told KHON2 that the 66-year-old passenger told the flight crew "he wanted to take somebody behind the woodshed over this, which prompted the flight crew to contact the captain who then in turn diverted the aircraft to LAX".