Monthly Archives: June 2016

Free microchipping at Dogs Trust open day

DOG owners will get the opportunity to have their pets microchipped for free at a charity’s annual open day.

It is now a legal requirement for dogs to be microchipped and Dogs Trust Darlington is hoping people will take advantage of their offer and bring their pets along to the event at South Park, Darlington.

The offer is just one of a host of activities planned for all the family from 12pm to 4pm on Sunday, July 17.

A fun dog show will give people a chance to parade their pets with categories for the prettiest bitch, best oldie seven years plus, handsomest dog, best puppy and best in show.

Fun and games are also planned with a chance to take part in Musical Mats, an egg and spoon race, elimination game, and dogs dinner game.

One highlight of the afternoon will be a dog display with K9 Pursuits showing off the skills of talented pooches during a Heelwork To Music Demonstration.

Gordon Norrie, supporter liaison officer at the trust, said: “It’s a lovely opportunity for the people of Darlington to come along and showcase their own much loved pets and we look forward to meeting lots of new two and four legged friends on the day.”

Mr Norrie revealed the trust cared for more than 1,200 dogs last year and it expected that number to rise.

He said: “This will help us raise funds to provide the very best care to our ever increasing number of dogs. We are really looking forward to it.”

Raffle tickets can be bought on the day and entry to each game is £1.

For more information about the event or to support the trust call 01325 333114.

Thirsk MP urges North to get behind Heathrow expansion plan

A CONSERVATIVE MP has called for Northern politicians to support the expansion of Heathrow, saying it could help create 31,600 jobs and up to £25.5 billion in economic benefits in the North.

As a decision on whether to grant Heathrow a controversial third runway was postponed until the autumn, Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake said an independent report based on Airport Commission figures had found extending Heathrow would empower cities across the North, with better and more frequent global connections.

Mr Hollinrake, who founded one of the UK’s largest estate agency chains, said the £17.6bn expansion must include direct rail routes linking the airport to the North, ideally using high-speed trains, which could cut journey times to Heathrow from Yorkshire cities to about one hour and 20 minutes.

He said steel fabricating firm Severfield, based at Dalton, near Thirsk, which has undertaken 100 projects at Heathrow since the early 1990s, was just one of a plethora of Northern companies which could benefit from the airport’s expansion.

Mr Hollinrake added: “This is a vital element of the Government’s Northern Powerhouse programme, which will be a generational opportunity to tackle the structural imbalances which has kept the North so far behind the South, for far too long.

“Now is the time for government to show it is ready to push boundaries and allow the British people to take full advantage of a growing economy. For people and businesses in the North and all over the country the benefits of Heathrow are clear.”

Press Releases: Secretary Kerry Travel to Tbilisi, Kyiv and Warsaw

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Tbilisi, Georgia on July 6, 2016, to meet with Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili for bilateral discussions on a range of issues, including U.S. support for Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations and successful elections in October.

The Secretary will then co-chair a plenary meeting of the U.S.-Georgia Strategic Partnership Commission, and hold meetings with President Giorgi Margvelashvili and leaders of Georgia’s opposition parties.

Secretary Kerry will travel to Kyiv, Ukraine on July 7, where he will meet with President Poroshenko, Prime Minister Groysman, and other Ukrainian leaders to discuss progress on reforms, the implementation of the Minsk agreements, and other issues.

On July 8, Secretary Kerry will accompany President Obama to the Summit Meeting of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in Warsaw, Poland. The Secretary will meet with his counterparts from NATO Ally and partner nations to further efforts to strengthen NATO’s security and to project stability to the Alliance’s east and south.

Follow Secretary Kerry’s travel via @JohnKerry, @StateDept, and @StateDeptSpox on Twitter and go to the Department’s Flickr account for the latest trip photos. Stay connected: and keep track of all of the Secretary’s travels at:

On the Somme

Tom Phelan visiting the World War I memorial in Mountmellick, Co. Laois. 

By Tom Phelan

Somme. The whole history of the world cannot contain a more ghastly word. —Friedrich Steinbrecher

1914   On their way to making a quick capture of Paris, the German army invaded Belgium on August 4, 1914. Britain immediately declared war on Germany, and the Belgians slowed the Germans sufficiently to allow for the British Expeditionary Force to get to Europe and join up with the French. Together, in what became known as the Race to the Sea, they defeated every effort by the Germans to gain access to the harbors in northern France and thus isolate Paris.

With the Germans continually on the move to get around the Allies, and the Allies forever moving to face these new threats, by Sept. 15  both sides were exhausted and the Germans dug their first trenches. During this first month on the Western Front, 86,000 men died or were wounded.

The Germans built their trenches as defenses because they planned to stay put. Many of these trenches were openings down into bunkers, many of which were 40-feet deep and which were serviced with communication and escape tunnels. Some underground officers’ quarters were equipped with electricity and running water, and some were paneled or draped to soften the rough walls.

In comparison, the Allied trenches were scrapes in the ground, intended as assembly points for attacks on the enemy positions and as temporary lines to fight off sudden German forays. The trenches on both sides stretched from Switzerland to the Belgian coast as the opposing armies settled in for the winter.

1915  In the Mediterranean in 1915 the Gallipoli disaster unfolded in April and ended the following January. There were almost 400,000 casualties.  Back on the Western Front the British attacked the Germans in Neuve Chapelle in March, held onto the village for several days, but then had to withdraw with a loss of 11,200 casualties. During the Germans’ one attack that year, known as the Second Battle of Ypres, they were repulsed, but the Allies suffered 87,223 casualties.

Numbers of German casualties during World War I are not reliable. However, it would not be a stretch to say that in most or all hostile encounters, the Germans suffered as many casualties as the Allies.

1916  In the quiet winter of 1915-16 the French, British, Italians, and Russians drew up plans for three simultaneous offensives against the German lines. The British and the French would attack side by side on the Somme. However, before these plans could be activated, in late February the Germans launched a huge offensive in Verdun, a fortified town in eastern France. The French knew that a defeat here would cause a total collapse of its French army. As the situation at Verdun deteriorated, French soldiers in other theatres, including the Somme, were summoned to reinforce the troops. Even so, the French feared they could not hold Verdun after June. In these desperate circumstances a diversion was planned along an 18-mile stretch of trenches in the area of the Somme to draw German forces from Verdun.

Along that 18-mile stretch the Allies installed a howitzer every 17 yards. These guns would clear no-man’s-land of the barbed wire between the opposing trenches, and they would subject the Germans to an unending seven-day bombardment to soften them up for the infantry attack that would immediately follow. With so many German casualties expected, and with the survivors terrorized, disorganized, and disoriented from lack of sleep, the British soldiers would simply climb out of their trenches with their 80-pound knapsacks strapped on, walk across no-man’s-land, and take up residence in the first row of enemy trenches. Then the second and third rows of trenches would be captured and a gap made for Field Marshall Haig’s cavalry – soldiers on horseback brandishing sabers.

During the bombardment in that last week of June, which could be heard in the south of England, 1,457 British guns fired more than 1.5 million shells. Meanwhile, British soldiers, many of them fresh recruits from Ireland with no fighting experience, were rotated back from the forward trenches and trained for the battle ahead. Their spirits were lifted, not only by the sound of their own big guns but by speeches from senior officers. “You will be able to go over the top with a walking stick. You will not need rifles. You will find all the Germans dead. You will reach Moquet Farm by 11 and the field kitchens will be right behind you to give you a good meal.”

In the early morning of July 1, the Germans in their trenches were aware–from spies, British newspapers, and loose lips that sink ships–that the artillery barrage was about to end. On the British side, coal miners who had been brought in especially for the project, checked the fuses of the tons of explosives they had placed in tunnels under the German lines.  At 7:20 a.m. the largest underground mine was blown at Hawthorn Ridge. This massive explosion, which was heard in London, gave the Germans a ten-minute warning that the British infantry was about to charge, and they immediately bombarded the opposing trenches in the area facing Hawthorn Ridge. A young British soldier recorded, “I watched the enormous core of earth go up and, within five minutes, it seemed that every Boche machine-gun was shooting full belt, the bullets simply whistling like hail over our position.”

At 7:28 a.m. four lesser mines were blown by the British, and at exactly 7:30 a.m. the seven-day bombardment ceased. All along the lines, the British climbed out of their trenches. One officer even threw footballs at the feet of his troops to encourage them to play their way across no-man’s-land.

The Germans heard the silence too, and they scampered to the surface with their machine guns. The seven-day bombardment had only made gaps in the barbed wire in no-man’s-land. As the British troops headed for the gaps, the Germans aimed their machine guns at the openings.

Four hours later, the British had suffered 50,000 casualties, 5,500 of them from the 36th Division from the north of Ireland. There had been 15,000 young men in that division, and the unimaginable grief that settled over Ulster in the days that followed, still clings, 100 years later, like old cobwebs in dark corners. The south of Ireland lost its share of youngsters that day too, but it was in the 36th   where the losses were keenest; many in the 36th had been recruited in groups from their towns, villages football clubs, and factories, and the unforeseen consequences of this resulted in those towns, villages, and factories losing a generation of their children in one fell swoop.

What had been planned as a diversionary tactic segued into the First Battle of the Somme, and each side would slog on till Nov. 18, 1916.  In all, there would be over one million casualties: British, 485,000; French and Germans, 630,000.

The British forces advanced less than half a mile during the slaughter.

 The paperback edition of Tom Phelan’s novel of Ireland in World War I, “The Canal Bridge,” will be published by Arcade in early July.  The book will be launched Thursday, July 21, at 7 p.m., at Turn of the Corkscrew Books in Rockville Centre.  On Monday, August 8, at 7 p.m., Phelan will read at the Summer Gazebo Readings to benefit Kamp Kiwanis, 65 Foxhurst Ave., Oceanside, N.Y.



Cornwall Port Facility transferred to the City of Cornwall and the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne

Building strong communities through local port ownership

June 30, 2016 – Cornwall, Ontario – Transport Canada

Today, the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, announced the transfer of the Cornwall Port Facility to the City of Cornwall and the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne. The transfer agreement includes a contribution of $5,326,457 from the Government of Canada to cover operational costs and to maintain the Port’s infrastructure.

The transferred port facility is located in the South Central area of the City of Cornwall on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River. This divested property totals 7.93 hectares and consists of an upland area located at the north shore of the St.Lawrence, as well as an adjoining waterlot. The Cornwall Port Facility also includes a wharf mainly used for commercial activities.

The Cornwall Port Facility is the final port to be divested under Transport Canada’s former Port Divestiture Program. Building on the success of this Program, the new Ports Asset Transfer Program was launched in April 2015 to facilitate the transfer of the remaining 50 port facilities in Transport Canada’s inventory to local interests.


“This transfer agreement provides an exciting opportunity for the City of Cornwall and the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne to operate the Port of Cornwall. As the new co-owners, they are now in a position to collectively manage this valuable asset in a manner that best suits the community and responds to local needs.”
The Honourable Marc Garneau,
Minister of Transport

“The transfer of the Port of Cornwall signals a new era of cooperation and collaboration between our two communities. By taking ownership of the Port, we will collectively oversee the future use of a key piece of our waterfront.”
Leslie O’Shaughnessy,
Mayor of Cornwall

“This milestone in our partnership with the City of Cornwall and Transport Canada is a model for other Indigenous and non Indigenous Communities to strive towards. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners to create additional opportunities for both our communities.”
Grand Chief Abram Benedict,
Mohawk Council of Akwesasne


Delphine Denis
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport, Ottawa

Transport Canada is online at Subscribe to e-news or stay connected through RSS, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr to keep up to date on the latest from Transport Canada. This news release may be made available in alternative formats for persons living with visual disabilities.