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Former JLS star Oritsé Williams has spoken out for the first time about being "tormented" by a rape accusation for the past three years.

The 32-year-old was accused of raping a fan in 2016 after a show in Wolverhampton, and was charged with the offence in September 2018.

The singer was unanimously cleared of rape in May of this year by a jury in Wolverhampton Crown Court after two hours and 17 minutes of deliberation.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The star spoke about his ordeal on Good Morning Britain today, revealing that he couldn't find work for the last three years;

"It's been horrific," digressed Oritsé. "I haven't been able to work for three years. I had this accusation hanging over my head every single day from when I woke up to when I went to sleep. It's just completely tormented me.

But I had two choices, let it drag me under and destroy me or stay strong and hope the truth would come out, which it eventually did," he continued.

"The worst moment has been the effect it's had on my family. I tried to protect my mother for the whole thing. When you’re in the public eye you can’t stop it."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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He added; "My family as so loving. I've had so much unconditional love and support from them all and my friends.

"Even now public and my fans have been amazing. Come out and openly supported me. It has been trial by social media."

Oritsé spoke about the sympathy he has for those who call for anonymity in rape trials, telling the GMB hosts;

"I absolutely would have wanted my name to get cleared as quickly a possible and move forward with my life with my family. We have to continue to encourage real victims to come forward. There has to be consideration on both sides."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Oritsé has been working on his song-writing while hiding from the spotlight over the last three years;

"I’ve had a lot of time on my hands over the last few years. I've been reconnecting as a song writer and immersing myself in my music. I believe I've written some of the best songs of my life in this period.

"I’ve poured my heart out into these songs, bled all over them. At some point when the time is right I want to share them with people."

Oritsé’s £3 million mansion burned down in a suspected arson attack only days after his acquittal.

Image: Twitter/@LondonFire

He had handed over the house to his ex-girlfriend after their break-up, but was still devastated by the arson attack;

"I had so many amazing memories there with my family and friends. Seeing what happened to somewhere I once loved was devastating. There’s an ongoing police investigation so hopefully we will get some answers."

Oritsé’s bandmate Marvin Humes said his friend is “getting his confidence back” after his acquittal, and the three-year ordeal ended in the “right result".

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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He told The Sunday Mirror: “He is working on himself at the minute and getting his confidence back. I have no doubt that whatever he goes into next, he will do great.

“He’s doing really well considering he has moved on from a terrible three years, a horrible three years, and he has come out the other side with the right result. He is getting on with his life and moving forward," Marvin added.

“One thing about us boys, everyone knows how close we are and we give each other support in any situation. We are like family.”

Feature image: ITV

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Nearly 1,000 people in Ireland were treated in sexual-assault units in 2018, according to new data. 

This is a shocking increase of almost 10 percent in 2017, which is quite the jump. 20 children under the age of 14-years-old were treated after sexual assaults last year alone.

Ireland has six sexual-assault treatment units, where people may present themselves after an attack.

The sexual-assault treatment units are located in hospitals in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Mullingar, Waterford and Letterkenny.

There were 865 presentations at the six units in 2017, but this rose to 941 in 2018 according to the latest details released under the Freedom of Information Act.

In Mullingar Regional Hospital, 203 sex-assault victims were treated in 2018 alone, which is a worrying 17 percent increase.

Noeline Blackwell, the chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, isn't taken aback by the sharp increase across the nation.

"People are more ready to recognise that these are units which are specifically dedicated to dealing with victims of sexual assault," she said.

"You don't have to be referred there by the Gardaí, people don't even have to have an examination for court purposes there if they don't want to but they certainly will get the medical help that they need and a recognition of the trauma of the sexual assault as well."

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre recently called for increased funding to deal with the "epidemic of sexual violence" in the country. In 2018, 13,949 people contacted the organisation.

This means that around 270 people per week contact the 24-hour helpline, with over 13,300 calls every year.

94 percent of people treated in Ireland's six units last year were women, with 6 percent being men.

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A gorgeous and powerfully vivid collection of essays written by Emilie Pine has won the An Post Book of the Year for 2018.

Notes to Self sees Pine writing on a variety of important moments in her life, including sexual assault, fertility problems, sexism in the academia sector, feminism, depression and addiction.

Published by Tramp Press, the book has been widely read around Ireland since it's publication, and has deeply resonated especially with women nationwide who relate to the stark and emotional work.

Emilie tweeted her joy at hearing the news, writing on Twitter: "Delighted and honoured to win Book of the Year 2018….Thank you to everyone who voted."

She also paid tribute to Tramp Press for commissioning the work, which tugged at the heartstrings of Irish women and men nationwide with it's brutal and visceral honesty.

The An Post Irish Book of the Year 2018 was handpicked by a public vote from a list of category winners which were recently announced at the An Post Irish Book Awards.

The esteemed prize boasts previous winners such as John Crowley's Atlas of the Irish Revolution, written with Donal Ó Drisceoil, Mike Murphy and Dr. John Borgonovo, Solar Bones by Mike McCormack, Academy Street by Mary Costello, The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan, Belinda McKeon's Solace, Staring at Lakes by Michael Harding and Asking For It by Louise O'Neill.

Chairperson of the An Post Irish Book Awards Maria Dickenson said; “Emilie Pine’s Notes to Self was one of the great stories in Irish bookselling in 2018 and I’m delighted that the voting public has chosen it as the An Post Book of the Year."

"The power and honesty of Emilie’s essays have captivated readers, and it’s truly gratifying both to see her talent rewarded and to see an Irish publisher like Tramp Press receive this well-deserved recognition," she continued.

Readers of the book couldn't put the engrossing work down. David McRedmond, CEO of An Post, commented on Emilie's wonderful win,

“2018 was a huge year for Irish writing and no book illustrates better why An Post is delighted to sponsor the Irish Book Awards: Emilie Pine’s book, a challenging read, is deeply human and Irish, emotional and clever. An Post thanks all the voters for engaging with the Awards in such large numbers.”

The An Post Irish Book Awards celebrate and promote Irish writing to a wide range of readers, bringing together a massive community who are passionate about writing. Readers, authors, booksellers, publishers and librarians unite to recognise Irish talent.

Congratulations to Emilie on her deserved achievement, we can't wait to consume her next piece of beautiful and fearless writing.

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The former partner of deceased rapper XXXTenacion has given birth to his son, just seven months after his murder.

Jenesis Sanchez and the artist's mother, Cleopatra Bernard, have issued a joint statement saying that they are "thrilled" at the newborn's arrival. 

“We’re happy to confirm that Baby and Mother are healthy,” the statement says. The little boy has been named Gekyume Onfroy.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Only days after the death of XXXTenacion, real name Jahseh Onfroy, the pregnancy was revealed in June of last year. The 20-year-old was shot and killed in Florida in his car.

According to the statement, the name Gekyume was “specifically” chosen by the late musician ”for his first born son”. 

The family say the name “means ‘different state’ or ‘next’ universe of thought,” adding that they are “honoured to fulfil his wish”.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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A posthumous XXXTentacion record was released last year entitled Skins, and featured prominent artists such as Kanye West.

The controversial rapper was facing a shocking 15 felony charges when he died, and was accused of multiple counts of domestic abuse, including an incident of physically assaulting a pregnant woman.

The rapper had been charged with the aggravated battery of a pregnant victim, domestic battery by strangulation, false imprisonment and witness tampering, and was due in court the week after his death.

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If you are unfamiliar with the term 'reproductive coercion', it's essentially when another person has more control over your reproductive health than yourself.

Hilary Freeman of The Guardian is now reporting that more women than imagined have no idea that reproductive coercion is a form of abuse.

Studies have revealed that a shocking one-in-four women who attend sexual health clinics report coercion over their reproductive lives, including 'contraceptive sabotage', such as covert condom removal.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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According to BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health, available evidence about the abusive behaviour needs to be updated to 2017 and widen the spectrum of activities involved to include familial pressure, criminal activity and exploitation within sex trafficking.

As well as not being able to choose contraceptives to use or take control of their own reproductive health, reproductive control takes the form of contraceptive sabotage, such as convert condom removal or needling a hole in a condom. 

Not being able to decide whether to start or continue a pregnancy is a major factor, research shows, and the concept of reproductive control (especially over women's autonomy) by others was first described in 2010.

Women's experience of interference with their autonomy goes back centuries, arguably, but research indicates that younger women are particularly vulnerable, as well as those in the black community and racial minorities.

The practice is scarily common, with women having decisions taken away from them by partners, exploiters or family, invalidating consent.

One-in-four women attending sexual healthcare clinics are reporting persuasive methods, emotional blackmail, threatened or actual infidelity and physical violence predominantly perpetrated by male partners but also criminal gangs.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Other examples of contraceptive sabotage include; partners lying about having a vasectomy or sterilisation, refusing to wear condoms, forceful removal of condoms, not using the withdrawal method properly, piercing barrier contraceptives or throwing away contraceptive pills.

Condom removal during sex is referred to as 'stealthing', and is now classified as sexual assault. Spiking drinks or food to induce abortion also was mentioned as occurrences.

The consequences are often emotionally difficult to bear; unintended or unwanted pregnancy, higher abortion risk, higher STI rates and emergency contraceptive usage.

Women in violent, abusive relationships prove especially vulnerable to reproductive coercion, but many are unaware that they are being subjected to reproductive control.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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"The degree of control that a male partner can have will vary from mild to extreme. Milder amounts of control may not be perceived by the victim as unhealthy or abusive."

"Women in a long term relationship may become inured to significant levels of reproductive control," the study's authors write.

The study calls on healthcare professionals must play a crucial part in noticing and preventing this horrifically controlling behaviour.

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What does it mean to be an ‘empowered woman’ in 2019?

The phrase ‘empowered woman’ is intrinsically loaded with underlying meaning and misunderstood perceptions. When many of us hear the phrase, most people envision a sexually-promiscuous woman who refuses to have children and most likely drinks scotch.

Arguably, its meaning has dramatically changed in the last year, ever since actress Alyssa Milano’s ‘Me Too’ tweet went viral.

2018 has not been the easiest of times for Irish women.

Watching the news everyday has been a tortuous experience, with violence against women splashed across every publication, the media raining debilitating double standards upon anyone remotely famous and the paparazzi splashing unflattering female body images across the internet.

Two massively painful rape trials have illuminated the imperative need for changes in the Irish law regarding sexual violence and assault, and the horrific way in which women are treated and cross-examined in the courtroom.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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The Repeal movement was draining for everyone involved, the right to bodily autonomy is still undeniably under threat.

It’s worth noting that standards are changing all around us, lines are being drawn, boundaries are being set. Finally, I might add.

Women are always hyper-aware of the need for self-protection, especially when it comes to sex and dating.

We’ve all held our keys in between our knuckles as we walk down a dimly-lit road at night, we’ve all experienced unwanted attention on nights out, and we’ve all worried about what we wear, and the negative consequences our clothes could potentially bring.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Standards of relationships are changing in conjunction, as women entering the dating world have new questions which they are asking of potential lovers.

This also stands for workplace relationships, women are fighting back against pay inequality and sexism which are prevalent even in first-world countries such as Ireland and the UK.

Watching Little Mix and Ariana Grande fight back against Piers Morgan's recent sexist comments has been such a breath of fresh air.

The #MeToo and TimesUp movements have been eye-opening experiences for men, women and intersex people worldwide, with every facet of society examining its own behaviour with a new lens.

Unlike most men, women are expected to be looking for love around every corner.

During our teens and 20s, being single is depicted as a hugely empowering, freeing experience, yet a shadow dawns on the eve of our 30th birthdays: the misogynistic view that our biological clocks are ticking, and where on earth is our husband?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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I have learnt many things from relationships, mainly that learning who you are can often only become a reality when you face tough aspects of life alone.

This is not true for everyone, of course, but many women in this day and age have to shrug off countless societal pressures and notions which are veiled in misogyny and shame.

Female empowerment in this article can only be relevant to my personal experiences, women are extremely complex beings and each feels empowered in totally different ways.

For women with disabilities, of different ages, gender binaries, classes and ethnicities, feeling good about ourselves comes in all shapes and forms.

Sex is power, #MeToo has taught me that. I cannot speak for other women, especially those in the LGBT+ community, but as a heterosexual woman, I have also learned many other hard lessons about the need to empower myself and have control over my body and mind.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Women are not therapists, we cannot be expected to handle the emotional baggage of other people.

We have enough of our own. Watching Ariana get blamed for Mac Miller's death is a primary example of the degradation placed on people for leaving toxic relationships.

 Ariana Grande has entered ultimate female empowerment mode, sporting a friendship ring instead of her recent engagement rock, and regularly posting images of classic film stars and female icon moments on her Instagram account.

Her new music video will be a tribute to classic movies with female leads such as 13 Going On 30, Mean Girls, Bring It On and Legally Blonde.

Thank u, next; Ari’s latest phenomenally successful single, pays homage to her past loves before declaring that her relationship with herself is now a priority.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Reports claim that her ex-fiancé, Pete Davidson, did not support her sufficiently following the death of Mac Miller, her former love.

Ariana explained how toxic her relationship with Miller was; she endured the pain of watching someone they love struggle through addiction but realised that it was expected of her to ‘fix’ his pain, to mother him through his issues.

Her realisation that she could not carry out this burden was imperative.

When Davidson joked about swapping Grande’s birth control pills on Saturday Night Live, the reaction was mixed.

Many wondered why controversy erupted over the comment, yet many reflected on the notion of literally trapping a woman into staying with you through pregnancy, a huge emotional and physical ordeal for women.

Realise that we are not defined by our relationship status, and to have a relationship with yourself can be an incredibly growth experience.

Letting go of the pressure to always have an ‘other half’ can be freeing in itself. Don’t underestimate the value of your friendships, especially female ones.

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SEX is empowering:

Learning what you like (this applies to anyone with a sexual partner- in a relationship or not) is CRUCIAL.

Women have always been expected to satisfy men in terms of sex, the language was never granted to us regarding how to communicate our desires, and how to find pleasure.

Consent in this country has always been a murky topic, hidden under the surface.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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I never heard the word mentioned until I went to college, and by the time I learnt the word’s true meaning, I had already had unconsensual experiences without truly understanding them at all.

Educating ourselves about consent, and only having relationships with those who truly respect us and our bodies can be incredibly empowering.

Learn how to say no, be selfish.

Women cannot be expected to please everyone, all the time. Often we have to work incredibly hard, in our employment or relationships, to get the achievements we deserve.

Learning to put yourself first can be a massive way of respecting our own mental health and practicing self-love and acceptance.

Ask yourself, what do YOU want, instead of what does everyone else want of you.

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Learning new skills

Self -defence classes, a new language, a skill such as website building, graphic design, even calligraphy. Why not?

If you have valuable assets such as the ability to drive, and even do nitpicky jobs such as online banking or tax can be empowering in terms of releasing yourself from co-dependence.

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Don’t let opportunities pass you by.

Go with your instincts. Do what you’ve always wanted to do, but always found an excuse never to do it. You miss 100% of the chances you let pass by, and you never know how much you can gain from letting your fears dissipate and challenging yourself.

Mental health

The importance of having a health mind can never be underestimated. Take personal time whenever you know that you need it, don't succumb to pressure. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Body confidence

Society makes it so damn hard to allow you to feel secure in your own skin. In a world with such fascination with image and beauty, loving yourself is a completely rebellious act.

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Everyone is unique, so don’t try to fit a beauty mould which will undoubtedly change in the next five to ten years.

In the 90s it was bone glamour with malnourished models such as Kate Moss on the runway looking like all they needed most was a McDonalds, and now the Kardashians have transformed cosmetic beauty into plastic surgery-induced curves, glossy brunette hair and big lips and bums.

Who knows what the next big trend will be, but why force yourself to look like someone else? You are worth so much more than what you weigh or what you see in the mirror.

Taking control of your love life

The laws of dating have transformed recently, with apps such as Bumble finally realising that women don’t always want to wait around for the right person to ask them on a date.

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Try asking someone out, the worst that can happen is that they say no.

Food and health

I lived in San Francisco for four months and had the most atrocious diet, and when I came home I vowed to learn at least ten easy home-cook meals that are quick to make, and have health benefits. Having independence in terms of your body and health can be crucial to an empowering mindset, especially for women with chronic health problems.

Career

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Finding career success can be a huge morale boost, especially for women. Success shouldn’t be based on how much you earn, but how much you love your job and how you contribute to bringing a positive energy to the world around you.

Fight to be heard at the table, realise how intelligent you are and how you should be valued in your workplace. Don’t let anyone invalidate you.

You have the key to your own happiness, no one else.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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To be totally independent, ‘empowered’ single gal has countless benefits. Find your own definition of ‘empowerment’, some women are empowered by their style, their job, their relationship, their sex life, and others are empowered simply by being happy in their own skin.

Whether you're feeling great and powerful totally covered up or completely naked, do whatever makes you happy.

we did it mic drop GIF by U.S. Soccer Federation

As Ru Paul the Great regularly claims, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?”

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It’s an incredibly frustrating aspect of reality that women and girls face constant public sexual harassment daily.

In Tuesday’s report written by MPs on the women and qualities committee in Britain, the issue has now been labelled “urgent” following a nine-month enquiry on the matter.

The report is insisting that the UK government take immediate and effective action to attempt to create a safer public environment for women.

From exercising in public parks and frequenting nightclubs or bars to simply utilising our city’s public transport, women can almost almost claim to have felt the burden of danger in communal spaces of our communities.

Experiences have more recently been shared of extensive experiences of sexual assault and harassment, and there are more accounts than ever of crimes being committed against women in public.

France has recently introduced a law against street harassment which results in on-the-spot fines for predatory comments and harassment such as sexualised remarks and wolf-whistling, after a woman was viciously attacked by a man for confronting him about his offensive behaviour towards her.

The committee has “heard evidence of widespread problems” of both men and boys “sexually harassing women and even girls on buses and trains, in bars and clubs, in online spaces and at university, in parks and on the street.”

The subject of school uniforms was also mentioned in the report, written by cross-party MPs, testifying that girls in their school attires are pressurised to avoid risky situations which "keeps women and girls unequal".

Street harassment has been described in the document as “relentless and becomes ‘normalised’ as girls grow up, contributing to a wider negative cultural effect on society.”

The committee also sets out seven steps which they aim to take in the report, among them is the proposal to force train and bus operators and publican landlords to take tougher measures towards fighting sexual harassment on their premises.

It also requests a public information campaign which is specifically designed to change attitudes, akin to road safety campaigns and first aid programmes.

The British Home Office also states that they view the epidemic problem as a “key priority,” and are devising an updated “Violence against Women and Girls” strategy and scheme.

Writing on public pavements in chalk has become a new pacifistic method for women to fight back, to feel safe in their own cities.

Regardless of government promises to eliminate such prevalent behaviour entirely by 2030, the Women and Equalities Committee concludes negatively that there is currently "no evidence of any programme to achieve this".

Twitter users especially are expressing anger at how ‘obvious’ the headline is, and that there is not a single mention of men in the article, who are by-in-large the major perpetrators of sexual harassment. 

It remains to be seen whether improvements will take place which will finally allow women and girls to feel safe, but the reaction online to the BBC’s headline has been scathing.

Let's hope governments worldwide bring in sharp ways to tackle this highly concerning problem which is so engrained in our culture that many of us have become completely desensitised to it. Safety is a right, not a privilege.

Have a look at BBC’s 100 Women I know video on Street Harassment here:

The Bristol Zero Tolerance group has also written an informative guide on how to respond to street harassment, which you can read here.

Stay safe, gals.

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Gardaí in Lucan are appealing for information following the serious assault of a 17-year-old man at Rowlagh Gardens, Dublin 22 in the early hours of Monday, 2nd July, 2018. 

It is understood the youth sustained head injuries during an altercation involving a number of people on the street outside a house at Rowlagh Gardens at approximately 1am. 

Following the altercation, the teenager returned home only for his condition to worsen.

Emergency services were contacted and he was taken by ambulance to hospital. He is currently in Beaumont hospital where his condition is understood to be serious.

Gardaí have commenced an investigation and are appealing for anyone with information to contact them.

They are appealing, in particular, to anyone who may have witnessed anything at Rowlagh Gardens between 1am and 2am.

If you have any information, you can contact the incident room at Lucan Garda Station on (01) 6667300 or the Garda Confidential line 1800 666 111. 

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Gardaí are appealing for witnesses to an assault which occurred in Longford yesterday morning. 

The incident occurred on Main Street, Ballymahon, at 7am on January 30. 

One man in his 40s received what appears to be stab wounds during the course of an incident. 

A large number of men are believed to be involved.  

The man is in serious condition in hospital.

 Gardaí are asking anyone with information or anyone who travelled through Ballymahon yesterday morning between 6.30 am and 8.00 am to contact them at Longford Garda Station.

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An investigation has been launched following an alleged assault in Co Longford.

One man is said to be in a serious condition and is being treated at the intensive care unit of Mullingar's Midland Regional Hospital.

It's understood that the victim sustained a stab wound in Ballymahon, Co Longford shortly after a memorial ceremony had been held in Longford town’s St Mel’s Cathedral.

The service was held to mark the anniversary of John 'Dodie' Stokes was passed away last year, and it's believed that Gardaí were aware of the tensions that existed between those in attendance.

Detectives believe the assault took place following a road traffic collision Ballymahon where at least two vehicles were rammed.

It's thought the victim may have been dragged from one of the vehicles and stabbed.

Gardai have appealed for anyone who may have witnessed anything untoward in the Ballymahon area between 6:30am and 8am this morning to contact them at Longford Garda Station at (043) 3350570.

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Gardaí in Kildare are appealing for information following a serious assault in Rathangan Village.

A 19-year-old man was seriously injured when he was attacked by another man while entering a taxi in the early hours of the morning. 

The incident occurred at 1.30am on December 27 on Rathangan's main street.

The victim, who is in a serious condition, was punched by the assailant, the force of which caused him to fall backwards and hit the road.

A female was also assaulted during the incident and received minor injuries.

Gardaí are appealing for witnesses to the assault. 

They are particularly appealing to anyone who was in the Main Street area between 1am and 2am on the night in question to come forward.

They are also calling for anyone who may have dash cams fitted to their vehicles.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Gardaí at Kildare 045-527730, the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111 or any Garda Station.

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Gardaí are appealing for witnesses following a serious assault on a taxi driver at Baggot Street Lower, Dublin 2.

The assault occurred on December 18, and the driver was seriously injured. 

The man began arguing with the driver and struck the door of the cab. The driver tried to get out of the car but as he did the man slammed the door and it struck the driver in the face, causing serious injuries to the drivers eye, according to Gardaí.

The incident occured at 2.30am a taxi driver picked up a fare at the rank on Stephens Green North.The passenger asked to be taken to Stillorgan. 

Gardaí investigations found that the man walked along Ely Place and back to Stephens Green East towards Earlsfort Terrace, Stephens Green South and Leeson Street.

The suspected offender is described as 25 to 30 years, 5'7'' to 5'8'', with short hair with a casual jacket and shirt.

The man had a Dublin accent.

Gardaí would like anyone who was in the Baggot Street area on the December 18 at about 2.30am to contact them.

Any cars that may have passed through the area and may have dash-cam footage are also asked to contact Gardaí .

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