News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Friday 5th July 2013

Joan Burton at war over €440m Social protection cuts


Social Protection Minister says changes are needed to avoid harsh cuts

Defiant Joan Burton has pledged to protect benefit payments as she goes to war over €440million cuts to her department.

The Social Protection Minister has admitted she will struggle to find the savings her Cabinet colleagues have demanded by this October.

Speaking on her way into a meeting with interest groups on Friday, Ms Burton said she is determined to preserve her budget as best she can.

She said: “I am particularly conscious that is about almost every family in Ireland, every town, every community in Ireland and that the monies involved add up to large amount of spending but in terms of someone who managing on a social welfare income exclusively it is vitally important in terms if their life.”

Ms Burton said there were changes that needed to be made within the system to avoid making harsh cuts.

She said: “There are structural reforms of the social welfare system which are really important and a lot of those structural reforms limit the amount of fraud and abuse in the system and again for people who have worked – particularly retired people- and contributed, it is really important for me as a Minister that I make savings that enable them to maintain their social welfare payments.”

The two Finance Ministers have demanded the Labour Minister slash €440 million but she admits that figure is far too high.

Minister Burton has won the fight before – in 2011, she reduced the cuts needed from €665 million to €475 million and last year, she dragged it from €540 million to €390 million.

She revealed she is determined to maintain core social welfare payments and looks set to stay clear of half-rate carers allowance and the old age pension.

She said: “People who are at work will know that they look every month at what they receive in terms of their take home pay.

“In the same way, somebody who gets a weekly social welfare payment (does likewise).

“Most important item in maintaining domestic demand if you think of your pensioners. The cast bulk of that money is spent in Ireland and it is spent in local shops, local communities.”

Minister Burton met volunteer and charity groups yesterday as the Budget talks begin ahead of October’s announcement.

Carers have already warned they can’t take any more pain and Social Justice Ireland has demanded welfare payments increase by €5.

The Minister said she “hopes” she can get the support from her cabinet colleagues to maintain social welfare payments.

Age Action said multiple austerity budgets is having a severely damaging effect on the most vulnerable of older people.

Spokesman Eamon Timmons said some older people are even considering giving away their family pet because they can no longer afford to feed it.

Two-thirds of new jobs in Ireland created by entrepreneurs

19,000 firms started-up in 2012


Two-thirds of new jobs in Ireland created by entrepreneurs – 19,000 firms started-up in 2012

The latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) reveals that 19,000 businesses were started-up in Ireland in 2012. Not only that, the GEM research indicates Irish early stage entrepreneurs have a stronger focus on international markets and exports than their OECD and EU counterparts.

This year’s research has been compiled by Paula Fitzsimons of Fitzsimons consulting, who is also the national GEM co-ordinator, and Dr Colm O’Gorman, professor of entrepreneurship at Dublin City University Business School.

Since GEM research has been carried out in Ireland for nine of the last 10 years, the 2012 report contains a 10-year perspective. High levels of entrepreneurial activity, with many people perceiving opportunities to start new businesses, characterised the earlier period (2003-2008). The overall culture was very supportive and entrepreneurship was considered a good career option.

Mirroring the changes in the economic environment, an overall decline in the rate of early stage entrepreneurial activity, particularly among men, is apparent in the latter period (2010-2012 inclusive), as is a rise in the proportion of those starting a new business out of necessity.

The entrepreneurial ecosystem in Ireland

However, significant improvements in the overall entrepreneurship ecosystem in Ireland make it an increasingly supportive environment for starting a new business.

Advances in access to seed and venture funding, international incubator supports, access to top-level mentoring supports, and Enterprise Ireland’s and the City and County Enterprise Boards’ wide range of supports for start-ups, have all contributed to making Ireland a highly attractive location in which to start a new business venture.

Improvements in the degree of perceived innovation and intended internationalisation among those starting new businesses in the more recent period are also very positive and suggest an improvement in the quality of the new enterprises being started. Successful entrepreneurs continue to be held in high regard.

The GEM report indicates that Irish early stage entrepreneurs have a stronger focus on international markets and exporting than their OCED and EU counterparts. This focus of entrepreneurs on developing innovative products and services for export is essential for growth and economic recovery. The increase in the level of ambition and export focus among women entrepreneurs is also welcome.

Entrepreneurs creating jobs in Ireland

“Two-thirds of all new jobs are created by start-ups in the first five years of existence. That is why we have placed entrepreneurship at the centre of our plans for jobs and growth,” Ireland’s Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton, TD, said in relation to the latest GEM report.

“Through the Action Plan for Jobs, we have put in place a series of measures to support greater levels of start-up activity across the economy, including a range of new credit measures and world-class supports for small business through the local enterprise offices. Now we are taking advice from world experts and taking views from the public on the next phase of our plan to support more entrepreneurs and start-ups, and ultimately create the jobs we need.

“Today’s report is a very welcome analysis of entrepreneurship in Ireland. It provides substantial detail on trends across a range of indicators and will be of immense help as we frame policies in this area.”

Commenting on the report, the chairman of the Government’s new Entrepreneurship Forum Sean O’Sullivan said Ireland has always been a place full of dreamers and doers and that’s essentially what entrepreneurship is, a blend of the two.

“As citizens, we must take on the responsibility of creating our own jobs, and figure out how to be more efficient, working at greater speed with higher innovation and reduced cost.

“If we can field world-class rugby players, artists, and scientists, why can’t we also field world-class, fast-growing indigenous businesses? An Ireland that restores economic growth is an Ireland that expands opportunity and quality of life for all its citizens.

“After the battering we’ve endured in recent years, we’ve got a long road ahead of us to return to being No 1 in entrepreneurship in Europe. As Taoiseach Enda Kenny has made it clear, however, Ireland is open for business. Our challenge is to seize this opportunity, move quickly and boldly go beyond where we have ever been before,” said O’Sullivan.

Number of new cars taxed in Ireland down 40% in June


Diesel cars accounted for almost three quarters of those licenced for first time

The number of new cars licensed in the State was 40 per cent lower in June than in the same month last year.

Figures from the Central Statistics Office show that the number of new vehicles licensed in the first half of this year (49,503) was 16 per cent lower than in the same period in 2012 (58,936). Last year’s sales were bolstered somewhat by the Government’s scrappage scheme, which ended last June.

The CSO reported that 3,293 new private cars were licensed last month, compared with 5,481 in June 2012. The number of new goods vehicles licensed fell by 25.4 per cent to 745.

The CSO figures differ from those issued earlier this week by the Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI). The CSO measures the number of cars taxed for the first time while the SIMI figures are based on new registrations issued by the Vehicle Registration Office.

The SIMI registration figures showed the new car market down 73 per cent in June and 20 per cent for the year. Total new car registrations from January to June were 53,230, with last month seen as particularly bad (1,673) as buyers seemingly held on until July to do business and get a 132 registration plate. Car registrations on July 1st (1,927) were higher than for the whole of June.

Volkswagen was the highest selling brand, with 466 new cars licensed last month, followed by Toyota (381), Ford(335), Skoda (253) and Opel (205).

Diesel cars accounted for 72.7 per cent of all vehicles licensed (2,393) last month, with 874 petrol cars taxed for the first time.

Casual sex in Irish college’s linked to depression


College students who engage in casual sex – that is sex with partners they know less than one week – may be more likely to suffer with depression and anxiety, a new study suggests.

This autumn, thousands of young people in Ireland will begin or return to third level education and for many, the social side of college life plays as big a role as the academic side.

US researchers decided to investigate any links between casual sex and mental health in emerging adults. They surveyed almost 4,000 heterosexual students from more than 30 colleges.

Just over one in 10 admitted to having casual sex in the month prior to the survey.

The researchers found that among the college students, casual sex ‘was negatively associated with wellbeing and positively associated with psychological distress’.

Overall, those who recently engaged in casual sex had higher levels of depression and higher levels of social and general anxiety.

While previous studies have suggested that women are more negatively affected by casual sex than men, in this study, gender did not appear to affect the outcome.

The researchers said that it is still unclear whether casual sex leads to psychological distress or whether people engage in risky sexual behaviours because of mental health problems they already have.

However, they insisted that ‘it is premature to conclude that casual sexual encounters pose no harmful psychological risks for young adults’.


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