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Mother, 18, from Co Antrim took her own life weeks after the birth of her youngest son

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mother 18 from co antrim took her own life weeks after the birth of her youngest son

A mother-of-two with postnatal depression took her own life weeks after the birth of her son, her family has revealed. 

Shaciara McDowell, 18, of Ballymena, in Co Antrim, died on September 7, just four weeks after the birth of her son Cáhir. 

Her sister Vanessa McDowell, 27, shared the news of her death as she urged mothers suffering with mental health issues to speak out and not feel ‘ashamed’.    

Shaciara McDowell, 18, of Ballymena, in Co Antrim, died on September 7, just four weeks after the birth of her son Cáhir. Pictured, in hospital with Cáhir and partner Corey-Lee

Shaciara McDowell, 18, of Ballymena, in Co Antrim, died on September 7, just four weeks after the birth of her son Cáhir. Pictured, in hospital with Cáhir and partner Corey-Lee

Shaciara McDowell, 18, of Ballymena, in Co Antrim, died on September 7, just four weeks after the birth of her son Cáhir. Pictured, in hospital with Cáhir and partner Corey-Lee

Shaciara had struggled with postnatal depression shortly after the birth of her daughter Éire, now one, Vanessa explained, but was not offered sufficient support.

‘Her [Shaciara’s] post-natal depression kind of kicked in around three weeks, so it was quite quick,’ Vanessa said in an interview with Belfast Live.

‘She also suffered with post-natal depression with her first child and it too set in quick, and I think that is what’s most upsetting, the system knew she suffered the first time and they should have just been there a lot more of her second time round.’ 

In May Shaciara shared a post asking for donations National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to be made to in honour of her birthday. 

She wrote: ‘For my birthday this year, I’m asking for donations to National Suicide Prevention Lifeline ‘1-800-273-TALK (8255)’. 

‘I’ve chosen this charity because their mission means a lot to me, and I hope that you’ll consider contributing as a way of celebrating with me. Every little bit will help me reach my goal.’ 

Shaciara had struggled with postnatal depression shortly after the birth of her daughter Éire, now one. Pictured, Shaciara with Cáhir

Shaciara had struggled with postnatal depression shortly after the birth of her daughter Éire, now one. Pictured, Shaciara with Cáhir

Cáhir in a t-shirt printed with his mum's face

Cáhir in a t-shirt printed with his mum's face

Shaciara  struggled with postnatal depression after the birth of her daughter Éire, now one. Pictured, Shaciara with Cáhir (left). Right, Cáhir in a t-shirt printed with his mum’s face

Vanessa, 27, the eldest of nine siblings, said Shaciara did not like to ‘burden’ others with her problems and did not confide in her family about the extent of her struggles.

Vanessa continued: ‘Even if she did bring it up she would be like, “it’s alright though, I’m fine”. She didn’t want to talk about it but that’s just the place she was in, in her head.’

Vanessa called on women to speak out about their mental health issues and to seek help when neeeded. 

She added: ‘Don’t buy into the stigma of medication makes you weak, if you have cancer you would treat yourself for that cancer, the brain is just as important, look after your brain.’ 

Her sister Vanessa McDowell, 27, shared the news of her death as she urged mothers suffering with mental health issues to speak out and not feel 'ashamed'. Pictured, the sisters together

Her sister Vanessa McDowell, 27, shared the news of her death as she urged mothers suffering with mental health issues to speak out and not feel 'ashamed'. Pictured, the sisters together

Her sister Vanessa McDowell, 27, shared the news of her death as she urged mothers suffering with mental health issues to speak out and not feel ‘ashamed’. Pictured, the sisters together

A photo taken in the hours after Cáhir’s birth shows Shaciara with her partner Corey-Lee and their newborn son in hospital. 

Other photos show her cradling one-year-old Éire, who was affectionately called ‘princess’ by her grandmother.  

Vanessa described her sister as ‘sassy’ and ‘an absolutely brilliant mummy’ with so much to give her children.

The family has set up a GoFundMe page in a bid to help support Shaciara’s son and daughter. 

The description reads: ‘Shaciara suffered from severe post natal depression and didn’t get the help from the system that she needed along with so many other young girls and women. 

‘Shaciara McDowell the daughter of Muriel McDowell and Sister to seven siblings leaves behind 2 beautiful children Éire and Cáhir. 

‘This is to help the family with the unexpected costs and to support them through this devastating tragedy. Any support would be greatly appreciated.’

  • For confidential support call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, or click here for details

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Scandalized French Olympic figure skater Morgan Cipres retires amid lewd photo allegations

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scandalized french olympic figure skater morgan cipres retires amid lewd photo allegations

Morgan Cipres, the French Olympic figure skater accused of sending lewd photos to a 13-year-old female American skater, has announced his retirement nearly one year after the US Center for SafeSport and Florida law enforcement launched an investigation into the three-year-old claim.

Both the 29-year-old Cipres and his pairs partner, 33-year-old Vanessa James announced their respective retirements through the French Federation of Ice Sport on Tuesday. The team was considered an Olympic medal contender for the 2022 Beijing Games, according to USA Today.

Cipres allegedly sent two photographs of his penis to the 13-year-old over Instagram’s direct messenger in December of 2017, but the allegations did not surface until USA Today released its bombshell report two years later.

Morgan Cipres (right), the French Olympic figure skater accused of sending lewd photos to a 13-year-old female American skater, has announced his retirement nearly one year after the US Center for SafeSport and Florida law enforcement launched an investigation into the three-year-old claim. Both the 29-year-old Cipres and his pairs partner, 33-year-old Vanessa James announced their respective retirements through the French Federation of Ice Sport on Tuesday. James (left) has not accused Cipres of any misconduct

Morgan Cipres (right), the French Olympic figure skater accused of sending lewd photos to a 13-year-old female American skater, has announced his retirement nearly one year after the US Center for SafeSport and Florida law enforcement launched an investigation into the three-year-old claim. Both the 29-year-old Cipres and his pairs partner, 33-year-old Vanessa James announced their respective retirements through the French Federation of Ice Sport on Tuesday. James (left) has not accused Cipres of any misconduct

Morgan Cipres (right), the French Olympic figure skater accused of sending lewd photos to a 13-year-old female American skater, has announced his retirement nearly one year after the US Center for SafeSport and Florida law enforcement launched an investigation into the three-year-old claim. Both the 29-year-old Cipres and his pairs partner, 33-year-old Vanessa James announced their respective retirements through the French Federation of Ice Sport on Tuesday. James (left) has not accused Cipres of any misconduct 

At the time, Cipres declined to comment to USA Today: ‘I cannot talk with you about anything about that. I mean, I have nothing to say about this allegation.’

SafeSport launched an investigation into the matter last year, the girl and her parents told USA Today.

The family also accused Cipres’s coaches, Olympians John Zimmerman and Silvia Fontana, of shaming the girl in an effort to prevent them from reporting the allegations against Cipres, who was preparing for the 2018 PyeongChang Games at the time.

The girl claims she was harassed for weeks by Zimmerman and Fontana, who told her that she was a ‘pretty girl,’ adding that ‘men have their needs.’

Cipres and James went on to finish fifth in the pairs competition in 2018.

The incident allegedly began when figure skating coach Vinny Dispenza told the victim and another underage girl to request the pictures from Cipres in exchange for the promise of a pizza.

Dispenza is also accused of threatening the girl, who claimed, ‘If I said something, he said I would never skate again,’ according to USA Today.

USA Today obtained an email from the alleged victim’s tutor to a psychologist who worked with the girl.

‘Please ask her to share with you the many statements that have been made to her over the past few weeks (mostly by John) in an attempt to manipulate or scare her into keeping quiet,’ the tutor wrote. ‘She has been told that telling will place a target on her back with French fans, that she is the type of girl who does this (collect pics), that she has been asking for it by her clothing choices, that her dad is an attorney and imagine what he will do if he finds out, that she will destroy his career and that of his partner, and much more.’

The psychiatrist, Dara Bushman, told USA Today that she followed the correct procedure: ‘I did what I was bound to do ethically. I contacted the parents. I contacted the authorities. I wanted to make sure the child was safe.’

U.S. Center for SafeSport does not comment on specific matters of its investigations.

These allegations follow those of American figure skater Ashley Wagner, who claimed in August of 2019 that she was sexually assaulted by John Coughlin, a fellow American skater who committed suicide last year. 

In an interview with USA Today, the 28-year-old Wagner says Coughlin assaulted her at a house party near the skating team’s camp in Colorado Springs back in 2008, when she was 17 and he was 22.

After she decided to sleep at the house, Wagner claims, Coughlin crawled into her bed and began kissing her neck.

‘I pretended to be deep asleep, hoping he would stop,’ she said. ‘He didn’t. When his hands started to wander, when he started touching me, groping my body, I tried to shift around so that he would think I was waking up and would stop. He didn’t.’

Wagner explained that she did not try to get away at first because she was ‘absolutely paralyzed in fear.’

‘The next morning, he acted like nothing happened, so I acted like nothing happened. I thought that maybe I had misinterpreted it all. In 2008, I didn’t have the knowledge and empowerment that came with the #MeToo movement. No one had explained consent to me. Something that was so ambiguous then is very clear now.

‘I was sexually assaulted.’

Wagner won an Olympic team bronze medal in 2014 and is now retired from competitive skating. She says she feared speaking out earlier because she competes in a sport where judges determine success.

Coughlin’s suicide occurred three months after his former skating partner, Bridget Namiotka, accused him of sexually abusing her when she was between the ages of 14 and 17. Namiotka, now 30, was four years younger than Coughlin. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Journalist says she was locked out of her account for her Covid post

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journalist says she was locked out of her account for her covid post

A journalist today accused Twitter of suspending users for failing to tow the government line on Covid after she was locked out of her account for a post condemning the lockdown. 

Daily Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson was responding to a BBC article about the risk of coronavirus spreading in universities when she tweeted that she ‘wanted’ students to get the virus to ‘speed us towards herd immunity’. 

The post led to her account being suspended for a day – despite her insisting this view reflected the opinions of scientists including Oxford’s Prof Sunetra Gupta and the Nobel Prize winner Prof Michael Levitt. 

The Government have been pressurising social media companies to tackle ‘false and misleading narratives’ about Covid, and through its Rapid Response Unit claims to have ‘resolved’ 70 such incidents a week.

This led some commentators to draw a line between Pearson’s experience and the wider Government drive against perceived misinformation, with Big Brother Watch accusing ministers of an ‘Orwellian’ effort to police legal speech.  

Daily Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson was responding to a BBC article about the risk of coronavirus spreading in universities when she tweeted that she 'wanted' students to get the virus to 'speed us towards herd immunity'

Daily Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson was responding to a BBC article about the risk of coronavirus spreading in universities when she tweeted that she 'wanted' students to get the virus to 'speed us towards herd immunity'

Daily Telegraph columnist Allison Pearson was responding to a BBC article about the risk of coronavirus spreading in universities when she tweeted that she ‘wanted’ students to get the virus to ‘speed us towards herd immunity’

Pearson’s full tweet, posted on Monday, read: ‘How hard is it for people to understand? We WANT students to get the virus. They will speed us towards community immunity. It may not be very far off.’

By yesterday morning she had been locked out of her account, although it was later restored 12 hours later and was live by today. 

After explaining what had happened she asked in the Telegraph: ‘Is it a coincidence that the Twitter algorithms, which put me on the Naughty Step for 12 hours, align so closely with government policy? 

‘Or is it that Lefties get to shut down any version of the truth but their own?’

The author Lionel Shriver previously had an audio column about the importance of obesity to Covid death statistics removed from YouTube because it ‘contradicted’ World Health Organisation guidance. 

 

The Government has been urging social media companies to step up their efforts to combat perceived misinformation about Covid. 

Its Rapid Response Unit, operating from within the Cabinet Office and No10, is involved in identifying ‘false narratives’ online and flagging these to social media companies to be revolved. 

Ministers insist this work is vital to ensure the public has access to proper medical advice to protect themselves and save lives. 

But today campaign group Big Brother Watch suggested the Unit – and Twitter’s suspension of Pearson – were both examples of a wider attempt to ‘censor’ freedom of expression around the virus. 

Its director, Silkie Carlo, said: ‘It’s an affront to fundamental rights for Twitter to censor people’s lawfully held opinions, however controversial or poorly worded. 

‘The pandemic makes freedom of expression, open debate and rebuttal more important, not less. Censorship has never aided science, only power. 

‘It’s a little known fact that a mysterious government “counter disinformation” unit is pressuring social media companies to act as speech police online, silencing lawfully held opinions. It’s Orwellian in the extreme.’

The Government has been urging social media companies to step up their efforts to combat perceived misinformation about Covid. Boris Johnson is pictured today

The Government has been urging social media companies to step up their efforts to combat perceived misinformation about Covid. Boris Johnson is pictured today

The Government has been urging social media companies to step up their efforts to combat perceived misinformation about Covid. Boris Johnson is pictured today 

Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice also criticised the Government’s initiative.  

He said: ‘There is an easy clear line between preventing criminal scams and preventing genuine debate by people.

‘Twitter have crossed this, quite possibly aided and abetted by the Government which is in thrall to Imperial College and clearly trying to shut down views from Oxford University related scientists. 

‘It is appalling and terrifying, what you expect in North Korea not Whitehall.’

Meirion Jenkins, a Conservative councillor for Sutton Mere Green in Birmingham, called Twitter’s move ‘quite troubling’.  

‘Alison is obviously a very credible and high quality and credible journalist, I agree with almost everything she says but that’s not really the point,’ he said. 

‘Whether you agree or disagree with restricting what she can tweet given that they are based in fact. 

‘For the large part it should be left to the good common sense of the British public to read the information is available out there and they will make up their own mind.’

Pearson's criticism of the lockdown has been echoed by several leading scientists, including Professors Sunetra Gupta

Pearson's criticism of the lockdown has been echoed by several leading scientists, including Professors Sunetra Gupta

Pearson’s criticism of the lockdown has been echoed by several leading scientists, including Professors Sunetra Gupta

Pearson’s criticism of the lockdown has been echoed by several leading scientists, including Professors Sunetra Gupta and Michael Levitt, who she referenced in her article.   

Both scientists have criticised the Government’s lockdown, with Prof Gupta arguing that restrictions weaken the immune system and leave people vulnerable to future pandemics.

The epidemiologist also released a study suggesting that coronavirus had arrived in the UK in December and caused a significant ‘herd immunity’ – rivalling official advice from Neil Ferguson of Imperial College that it could cause 500,000 deaths. 

Prof Levitt Stanford University chemist has also criticised lockdowns as driven by ‘panic’ and suggested the measures have cost more lives than they have saved. 

Pearson also attacked ministers for suggesting the rule of six could curb Christmas gatherings, saying it was ‘disgusting’ to claim the celebration ‘is their gift’. 

Social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have vowed to tackle Covid ‘misinformation’ posted during the pandemic. 

Facebook now sends myth-busting messages to users who have liked, reacted or commented on posts containing ‘harmful misinformation’ about the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Twitter tags tweets containing disputed information – but insists it will only remove searches that are ‘harmful’. 

Twitter said: ‘We enforce the Twitter Rules judiciously and impartially for all account holders. When we identify any account that violates our rules, we will take enforcement action.’  

Prof Levitt Stanford University chemist has also criticised lockdowns as driven by 'panic' and suggested the measures have cost more lives than they have saved

Prof Levitt Stanford University chemist has also criticised lockdowns as driven by 'panic' and suggested the measures have cost more lives than they have saved

Prof Levitt Stanford University chemist has also criticised lockdowns as driven by ‘panic’ and suggested the measures have cost more lives than they have saved

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All Home Office staff will be trained on Britain’s ‘history of migration and rice’

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Home Secretary Priti Patel, pictured on 15 September, vowed to deliver 'justice' for the Windrush generation and their descendants

Home Secretary Priti Patel, pictured on 15 September, vowed to deliver 'justice' for the Windrush generation and their descendants

Home Secretary Priti Patel, pictured on 15 September, vowed to deliver ‘justice’ for the Windrush generation and their descendants

All Home Office staff will be trained on Britain’s ‘history of migration and race’ after the department was slammed in a critical Windrush scandal report.

The move is part of a series of measures set out in an improvement plan which seeks to overhaul the culture of the department so staff are ‘focused on people’ and not cases.   

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: ‘I am leading an unprecedented programme of change to build a Home Office fit for the future, that serves every part of the community it serves.

‘The Windrush generation have waited too long for justice and my resolve to deliver for them and their descendants is absolute. This is the first part of our plan to deliver meaningful change.’

The department reiterated its pledge to review the hostile environment policy, as recommended in the Windrush Lessons Learned Review by Wendy Williams.

It also said it will develop training for all staff so they are ‘focused on people’ and not cases while every member of staff will have to take part in training on the ‘history of migration and race in this country’.

The Home Office worked with leaders of community groups and the Windrush Cross-Government working group to form the response to the 30 recommendations.

In response to the publication, Ms Williams, who made a string of recommendations to the Home Office on how to improve, said the department had a ‘duty’ to those affected by the scandal to deliver on its commitments.

She added: ‘It must now act swiftly to open itself up to greater external scrutiny and to implement wide-ranging cultural change.’

Jamaican immigrants are welcomed by RAF officials from the Colonial Office after the ex-troopship HMT Empire Windrush landed them at Tilbury in 1948

Jamaican immigrants are welcomed by RAF officials from the Colonial Office after the ex-troopship HMT Empire Windrush landed them at Tilbury in 1948

Jamaican immigrants are welcomed by RAF officials from the Colonial Office after the ex-troopship HMT Empire Windrush landed them at Tilbury in 1948

The Empire Windrush was most famous for trips from the West Indies which brought people to work in the UK in the middle of the 20th century

The Empire Windrush was most famous for trips from the West Indies which brought people to work in the UK in the middle of the 20th century

The Empire Windrush was most famous for trips from the West Indies which brought people to work in the UK in the middle of the 20th century

She said the plan set out by the department was ‘comprehensive and ambitious in many respects’ but warned some plans, like the appointment of a Migrants’ Commissioner require ‘greater clarity and pace if the department is to be successful in its aim to rebuild public trust’.

Measures the Home Office says it will take in response to Windrush Lessons Learned Review

  • The creation of a new Community and Stakeholder engagement hub.
  • A review of how the compliant environment operates. 
  • Developing a programme of training for the department and all staff so that they are focused on people, not cases.
  • Every member of staff will undertake training on the history of migration and race in this country. 
  • The department also established an Urgent and Exceptional Payments process for those members of the Windrush generation who had an urgent and exceptional need.
  • It set up a Vulnerable Persons Team (VPT) and held over 120 engagement and outreach events and surgeries.
  • Over 13,300 documents have been provided to more than 11,500 individuals confirming their status or British citizenship through the Windrush Taskforce, now known as the Windrush Help Team.
  • Source: Home Office 
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In the 270-page report, titled Windrush Lessons Learned Review, found the scandal was ‘foreseeable and avoidable’ and victims were let down by ‘systemic operational failings’ at the Home Office.

The Government department demonstrated ‘institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness’ towards the issue of race and the history of the Windrush generation, Ms Williams found.    

A compensation scheme was set up after hundreds of thousands of people from Caribbean countries and their families were wrongly classified as illegal immigrants by the Home Office in 2018, denied legal rights, and threatened with deportation.

They had been encouraged to come to Britain to help fill major UK labour shortages after the Second World War between 1948 and 1971.

The group was labelled the Windrush Generation after travelling on the ship MV Empire Windrush, which docked in Tilbury, Essex, on June 22, 1948.

Permanent Secretary Matthew Rycroft said: ‘The Windrush scandal is a spur to action – to make sure that nothing like this can ever happen again in the Home Office. 

‘We have begun to respond to all the recommendations and will keep going until we have completed the job.

‘Our response today sets out how we are shifting the culture to ensure our workforce is focused on people, not cases.’

Bishop Derek Webley, co-chair of the Windrush Cross-Government Working Group, added: ‘The Windrush Cross-Government Working Group has been working with the Home Office to support its Response to the Lessons Learned Review.

‘We are pleased that its publication takes us a step further on the journey to righting the wrongs, and look forward to progressing its implementation over the coming months.’

Ms Williams will review the progress of the department after a year.

Majority of Windrush scandal compensation claimants are still without payment after scheme pays out £1million to 143 victims – despite 1,480 applications

The majority of Windrush scandal claimants have still not received compensation pay, with the scheme having dished out £1million to just 143 victims to date.

Official figures indicate that £1,053,223.17 had been paid out in response to 143 claims as of July – despite 1,480 claims being made by Windrush victims since the Windrush Compensation Scheme was launched in April last year.

Since the previous set of figures was published, five more claims have been made on behalf of victims who have already died, taking the total number to 65.

Members of the Windrush generation Paulette Wilson and Anthony Bryan: Mr Bryan, of Edmonton, north London, was one of those wrongly arrested, having been detained twice in recent years and told to return to Jamaica, which he left in 1965 aged eight

Members of the Windrush generation Paulette Wilson and Anthony Bryan: Mr Bryan, of Edmonton, north London, was one of those wrongly arrested, having been detained twice in recent years and told to return to Jamaica, which he left in 1965 aged eight

Members of the Windrush generation Paulette Wilson and Anthony Bryan: Mr Bryan, of Edmonton, north London, was one of those wrongly arrested, having been detained twice in recent years and told to return to Jamaica, which he left in 1965 aged eight

MPs have previously warned that there is a risk of people dying before they receive compensation owed unless the Government steps up its efforts.

Now Priti Patel, the home secretary, has said that the scheme is ‘complicated’ and that she wants to see compensation ‘sped up’.

And a group of nine law firms wrote to the Home Office in August claiming that the compensation scheme is failing to provide access to justice.

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the time for words from the Government on the issue is over. 

Windrush generation grandmother Jessica Eugene who arrived in the UK aged 10 in 1970 from Dominica in the Caribbean

Windrush generation grandmother Jessica Eugene who arrived in the UK aged 10 in 1970 from Dominica in the Caribbean

Allan Wilmot in the BBC's The Unwanted

Allan Wilmot in the BBC's The Unwanted

MPs have previously warned that there is a risk of people dying before they receive compensation owed unless the Government steps up its efforts (left: Windrush generation grandmother Jessica Eugene; right: Allan Wilmot in the BBC’s The Unwanted)

Windrush campaigners delivering a petition to Downing Street signed by over 130,000 people, calling for action to address failings which led to the scandal, June 19, 2020

Windrush campaigners delivering a petition to Downing Street signed by over 130,000 people, calling for action to address failings which led to the scandal, June 19, 2020

Windrush campaigners delivering a petition to Downing Street signed by over 130,000 people, calling for action to address failings which led to the scandal, June 19, 2020

‘This is yet more damning evidence that Government ministers are failing the many victims of the Windrush scandal,’ he said. ‘People who have been appallingly treated are facing unacceptable waits for compensation.

‘This is particularly awful for those who are working and those in later life. The time for words from the Government is over – ministers need to get on and deliver for those who have been so badly treated.’

Ms Patel said: ‘I am pleased that the compensation scheme has now paid out more than £1million and that a further £800,000 has been offered, but we are determined to go further and faster.

‘It is my unwavering commitment to ensure that those whose lives were blighted and shattered receive the compensation that they deserve.’

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