Friday 31st May 2013
Irish Water to create 2,000 jobs with roll-out of new metering system
Some 2,000 jobs are to be created by Irish Water as part of the controversial roll-out of the new water metering system.
The network, which will be underpinned by an annual water charge from 2014, aims to be fully operational within three years as Environment Minister Phil Hogan warned that the current water-funding system was “absolutely unsustainable”.
And he warned that defaulters will be treated in the same way as those who refuse to pay electricity or gas bills – by being cut off.
“Water is a very expensive and finite resource. It is costing €1bn in taxes already in order to treat water. It is not free. The commercial sector and the group water sector are already paying by meter,” he said.
The warning came as Mr Hogan announced the 2,000 call-centre and metering jobs, which will be created when Irish Water begins installing one million meters in homes from July.
The national water-treatment and supply system currently costs over €1bn to operate – with up to 50pc of supplies being lost through leaking pipes in some areas.
Irish Water will create 400 jobs at Cork-based call centre Abtran which won the contract to operate its national helpline. Abtran was embroiled in controversy when an employee was suspended last month amid allegations he illegally obtained credit-card details of people paying the property tax.
The new call centre staff will be Garda- vetted.
A further 1,600 jobs will be created by Irish Water from July as part of the metering installation programme.
Irish Water managing director, and former Dublin city manager, John Tierney told the Irish Independent the programme is one of the most ambitious undertaken in the history of the State.
The Government and Irish Water refused to comment on the value of the overall contracts but they are estimated to be worth over €400m.
Mr Hogan refused to comment on the charge for the metering. However, charges are expected to run to around €300 a year, while the cost of installing meters could be as much as €400 per home.
Teens now waiting until 17 to have sex
“fall in teen pregnancies as a result”
Since 2001, 47 per cent less teenagers are getting pregnant.
In the last 11 years, the number of teenagers giving birth in Ireland has fallen by 47 per cent – that’s a rate of 20 per 1,000 in 2001 down to 12 per 1,000 in 2012.
Figures from the (CSO) Central Statistics Office, show that since 2007 there has been a steady decline in teen births and the majority are to girls that are 18 and 19 years of age.
There were 1,720 births to women under 20 in 2011 that number fell by five per cent to 1,639 in 2012.
The HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme welcomed today’s figures and put the fall in numbers down to better quality sex education.
Most teenagers are waiting until they are 17 years of age before they start having sex now and “there are very high rates of contraceptive use reported among young people who are sexually active,” says Dr Kevin Kelleher, head of health protection at the HSE.
Dr Kelleher says the figures show that Relationship and Sexuality Education is having a clear impact but warned that not all schools are delivering the RSE programme.
He also added that the HSE run website, b4udecide.ie is a useful tool for parents to begin talking to their child about relationships and sex.
Parents sentenced in Galway for not sending their boy of (15) to school
Traveller boy missed 91 schooldays out of 114 in school year.
A judge has criticised the National Education Welfare Board for not moving earlier to prosecute the parents of a teenager who refused to go to school regularly since he was in primary school.
The 15-year-old boy, who is a member of the Traveller community, had missed 91 schooldays out of 114 in this Junior Certificate year alone, and another 62 days last year, and there was a long history of truancy owing to the parents’ lax attitude, education welfare officer Paul McCavera told Galway District Court.
The board prosecuted both parents last January for non-compliance with a school attendance warning notice issued in August 2011.
When the matter came before the court earlier this year the boy promised to attend school. But when things had not changed by March 6th, Judge Alan Mitchell gave the boy 24 hours to decide which of his parents should go to prison for his truancy.
A solicitor for the board, Ian Foley, told the court in April the boy was back in school on a regular basis.
On Friday, Judge Mitchell fined the mother €650 and directed the father do 90 hours’ community service in lieu of 21 days in prison.
High doses of common painkillers increase the risk of heart problems
Two common painkillers, ibuprofen and diclofenac, can slightly increase the risk of heart problems if taken in high doses for a long time, data suggests.
People with severe arthritis often take the drugs, which also calm inflammation, to go about daily life.
The researchers said some patients would deem the risk acceptable, but they should be given the choice.
A study, published in the Lancet, showed the drugs posed even greater risks for smokers and the overweight.
The risks have been reported before, but a team of researchers at the University of Oxford analysed the issue in unprecedented detail in order to help patients make an informed choice.
The group investigated more than 353,000 patient records from 639 separate clinical trials to assess the impact of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
They looked at high-dose prescriptions levels, rather than over-the-counter pain relief, of 150mg diclofenac or 2,400mg ibuprofen each day.
They showed that for every 1,000 people taking the drugs there would be three additional heart attacks, four more cases of heart failure and one death as well cases of stomach bleeding – every year as a result of taking the drugs.
So the number of heart attacks would increase from eight per 1,000 people per year normally, to 11 per 1,000 people per year with the drugs.
“Three per thousand per year sounds like it is quite a low risk, but the judgement has to be made by patients,” said lead researcher Prof Colin Baigent.
He added: “So if you’re a patient and you go and sit in front of your doctor and discuss it, you are the one who should be making the judgement about whether three per thousand per year is worth it to allow you, potentially, to go about your daily life.”
He said this should not concern people taking a short course of these drugs, for example for headaches.
However, he did warn that those already at risk of heart problems would be at even greater risk as a result of the high-dose drugs.
High blood pressure, cholesterol and smoking all increase the risk of heart problems.
Prof Baigent said: “The higher your risk of heart disease, the higher your risk of a complication. Roughly speaking, if you’ve got double the risk of heart disease, then the risk of having a heart attack is roughly doubled.”
He said patients should consider ways to reduce their risk, which could include statins for some patients.
A similar drug called rofecoxib (known as Vioxx), was voluntarily taken off the market by its manufacturer in 2004 after similar concerns were raised.
There are more than 17 million prescriptions of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in the UK each year. Two thirds are either ibuprofen or diclofenac.
A third drug, naproxen, had lower risks of heart complications in the study and some doctors are prescribing this to higher-risk patients.
The drug does a similar job to aspirin by stopping the blood from clotting although this also increases the odds of a stomach bleed.
Prof Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK, said the drugs were a “lifeline” for millions of people with arthritis and were “extremely effective in relieving pain”.
He added: “However, because of their potential side-effects, in particular the increased risk of cardiovascular complications which has been known for a number of years, there is an urgent need to find alternatives that are as effective, but safer.”
Prof Donald Singer, member of the British Pharmacological Society and from the University of Warwick, said: “The findings underscore a key point for patients and prescribers – powerful drugs may have serious harmful effects.
“It is therefore important for prescribers to take into account these risks and ensure patients are fully informed about the medicines they are taking.”
CSO official figures suggest a slight fall in the numbers of Irish suicides for 2012
CSO data records of 507 suicides for the year 2012 – but one charity says the figures don’t give the full picture.
The number of lives lost to suicide in Ireland in 2012 was slightly lower than that in 2011, according to official data published today.
The Central Statistics Office data indicates that 507 people took their own lives in 2012, a figure which marks a slight decrease on the 525 indicated in the office’s figures for 2011.
The suicide prevention charity Console said the nominal decrease in suicides did not reveal the full picture, and supported calls for a real-time register to note suicide deaths.
Its director of services Ciaran Austin said the figures showed a 46 per cent increase in the number of people over 55 who were taking their own lives.
“The regional data is also alarming, with several counties recording rates of suicide well above the national average of 11.6 per 100,000 population,” he said.
Those included Limerick, which had the country’s highest rate of suicide, at 26.6 per 100,000 deaths. Cork city had a rate of 25.6 suicide deaths per 100,000, while Wexford had a rate of 21.2 and Mayo 19.9.
Though there was some good news in the figures for suicides among those aged between 15 and 24, which fell slightly in 2012, Austin said Ireland still had the fourth-highest suicide rate for that age group of any EU member state.
He also raised concerns about the number of deaths which were recorded as being of “undetermined” cause.
Those figures include cases where a suicide is the likely cause of death, but where a coroner cannot formally declare this, due to the presence of other factors such as a significant alcohol intake.
Separately, the CSO’s figures indicated that there was only one case in Ireland in 2012 where a woman died as a result of complications in pregnancy, childbirth or puerperium, the state closely following childbirth.
That is recorded as being a woman aged between 25 and 34, whose death was recorded in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Here are some numbers if you need to speak with and confide in someone:
- Samaritans 1850 60 90 900 or email email@example.com
- Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634
- Console 1800 201 890
- Aware 1890 303 302
- Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Childline 1800 66 66 66
Google and internet service providers are urged to do more to block child pornography
In the wake of April Jones murder trial
Mark Bridger pic. above most visited website’s showed violent images of murders, beheading’s and dead children.
MPs and children’s charities have urged Google and internet service providers to clamp down on violent and child pornography after details of the murder of April Jones emerged.
Mark Bridger, who was jailed for a whole-life term yesterday after being found guilty of killing the five-year-old girl in October of last year, searched for images of child abuse and rape.
The court heard evidence that Mr Bridger’s laptop contained images of children being raped and abused. Police also found a horror film in his video recorder paused at a violent rape scene.
John Carr, a British Government adviser and member of the Internet Task Force on Child Protection, called for Google to show “moral leadership” and institute a default block on pornography on its search engine.
“Google are the biggest players,” Mr Carr said, speaking on the BBC’s Today programme. “If they were to block it, others would follow.”
Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee said that the April Jones case illustrated the “need to act to remove such content from the internet”.
Mr Vaz called for a new code of conduct to force ISPs to “remove material which breaches acceptable behavior standards”.
Jim Sheridan, who is on the Commons culture committee, also said that violent sexual images, including those depicting children, should be blocked.
He said: “I know it’s extremely difficult to ban it (but) I think with the political will and the technology, if you can do it, we should be doing it.”
April Jones’s Left pic. murder is the second high-profile case this month to feature disturbing extreme pornography.
Earlier this month the Old Bailey was told that Stuart Hazell, jailed for murdering 12-year-old Tia Sharp, had searched for child porn on the internet.
Bridger, a former slaughterhouse worker, was given a whole life sentence after he was convicted of April Jones’ abduction and murder, and of perverting the course of justice by unlawfully disposing, destroying or concealing her body.
Bridger, 47, kidnapped April before sexually abusing her, murdering her and then disposing of her body last October.
On the day April was abducted, Bridger had viewed online photographs of a young girl and a pornographic cartoon depicting the apparent rape of a physically restrained and visibly distressed girl.
Officers found numerous indecent images on the computer, as well as pictures of young female murder victims, including Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, the victims of Soham killer Ian Huntley.
In a file on his laptop, Bridger held cartoon pornographic images depicting bound and gagged youngsters being sexually abused, as well as images of apparently dead youngsters.
Phillip Noyes, acting chief executive of the NSPCC, said yesterday that April Jones’ case adds to growing evidence that there is a link between pornography and serious sexual assaults.
He said: “It seems Bridger lived in a fantasy world which included looking at child abuse images online.
“For some time we have been concerned about the growing number of these obscene images which are becoming more easily available and can fuel the fantasies of offenders like Bridger.
“This case points to the ever-growing evidence that there is a worrying link between looking at this vile kind of material and committing other serious sexual assaults.
“April’s death will hopefully lead to effective measures to stamp out this vile trade.”
In a statement, Google insists it has a “zero-tolerance policy” on child sexual abuse content: “We are members and joint funders of the Internet Watch Foundation – an independent body that searches the web for child abuse imagery and then sends us links, which we remove from our search index. When we discover child abuse imagery or are made aware of it, we respond quickly to remove and report it to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.”
The case of April Jones comes after a confidential hotline used to flag criminal content online revealed it had seen a 32% increase in the number of reports of images showing the rape and sexual torture of children.
The hotline, run by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) charity, can also be used anonymously to report child sexual abuse content as well as “criminally obscene adult content”.
Last week, the End Violence against Women (EVAW) coalition wrote to the British Prime Minister calling for a change in legislation to close a loophole which allows some simulated images of rape to be allowed in this country.
A statement from the charity Rape Crisis, an EVAW member, which campaigns to raise awareness of sexual violence, said it commended the decision to give Bridger a whole life sentence.
It said: “Our concern is that given current legal loopholes, similar men using pornography simulating acts of sexual violence including rape, child sexual abuse and incest, would not be committing an offence under existing extreme pornography legislation.