News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Friday 30th August 2013

40 % of all babies born in Ireland are outside of marriage


The Central Statistics Office (CSO) showed revealed that 36.5% of all births were registered outside of marriage, official figures have revealed.

Of those 6,406 births, 3,685 were to parents living together but not married.

The CSO Vital Statistics First Quarter 2013 report showed that the number of babies born in the first quarter of the year was down 9% from the same time in 2012.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) showed a total 17,563 births were registered in January, February and March – down from 19,313 in the first quarter of last year.

The figures indicated an annual birth rate of 15.3 births per 1,000 people – down from 16.9 in the first quarter of 2012.

Geographically, the highest birth rate was recorded in Fingal, at 19.6 births per 1,000 people, while Donegal had the lowest at 11.4 per 1,000.

The CSO Vital Statistics First Quarter 2013 report also revealed that 36.5% of all births were registered outside of marriage.

More than half the babies born in Limerick City were born to unmarried parents, while Leitrim recorded the lowest portion of babies born outside of marriage.

While fewer births were recorded across Ireland in the first quarter of 2013 compared with the same time last year, the number of deaths increased.

Some 8,347 deaths were registered in the first three months of the year – up 4.6% from the same period in 2012.

The new figures represent a death rate of 7.3 per 1,000 people.

Shocking new figures for Ireland have revealed the scandal of our missing children,

11 kids from last year remain untraced.


The latest Garda data shows that 18 children are reported missing every day — double the rate a decade ago.

The grim statistics disclose that 207 boys and girls who disappeared since 2003 — many of them foreign-born — officially “remain untraced”.

The force has dealt with a staggering 51,193 reports of missing youngsters aged under 18 during the past ten years.

And while many of them eventually show up, last year’s total of 6,661 was a massive 141 per cent surge compared to 2003.

And a Garda source told how some of the cases under investigation were classed as tugs-of-love involving feuding parents.

He said: “You see more cases in the past few years, especially where men and women from different countries have kids and then separate.

“One might take off to their home country and take the kids without permission and so the other parent reports them missing.”

Cases include the harrowing abduction of Faris Heeney, six, who was smuggled out of the country dressed as a girl.

His distraught mum Norma has urged the Government to intervene after the family was told there was no legal way of forcing the boy’s Egyptian father to return him.

And Michael Doyle, also known as Michael Lyons, was just two when he disappeared from his home in Tullow, Co Carlow in 2004. He is thought to have ended up in the UK.

The trend in recent years reveals more boys than girls are now being reported missing — but female disappearances outnumber males overall by 3,000 between 2003 and 2012.

Campaigners working with immigration and children’s organisations have also raised awareness of kids being trafficked into the underworld sex trade, at home and abroad, with some even suspected of being victims of murder.

And Gardai probing missing foreign kids expressed concern that some who enter the country unaccompanied are taken into care, only to be secretly taken by their parents who are already in the country illegally.

Research found that 12% of all children reported missing were born abroad, and these formed the biggest category of unsolved cases.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter insisted that everything possible was done to solve all the mysterious disappearances.

He stressed: “I am assured by the Garda authorities that all incidents where persons have been reported missing remain under investigation until such time as the person is located.”

He was replying to a parliamentary question from his Fine Gael party colleague, Kildare TD Bernard Durkan.

The garda breakdown was sent to Mr Durkan and showed there was also a major problem with locating missing adults, with the whereabouts of 174 persons unknown. Two in three of the 19,922 cases reported were men — and just over a quarter were foreigners.

Visitors to Ireland numbers up by 7.6%


CSO figures show increase of one-fifth in number of tourists from North America in May-July period

Surfers on Rossnowlagh beach in Donegal. Today’s figures from the Central Statistics Office show the number of trips to Ireland from overseas increased by 7.6 per cent in the months from May to July.

The number of overseas trips to Ireland increased by 7.6 % in the three months from May to July of this year, with the number of visitors from North America up by more than 20% compared to the same period last year.

Figures published by the Central Statistics Office show a total number of 2,084,600 trips were made to Ireland, up by 146,800 on the 2013 period.

Minister for Tourism Michael Ring said the figures were “very encouraging” and that they again suggested The Gathering initiative was delivering more overseas visitors.

“I would like to thank the thousands of volunteers throughout the country who have organised and helped out with Gathering events and brought a great sense of community and pride back to parishes and towns,” the Minister said.

“Visitors from overseas are enjoying their holiday experience here in Ireland with many promising to return again in the future.”

Trips by North American residents were up by 20.5 per cent to 418,700.

The number of trips by residents of European countries other than Britain was up by 5.1 per cent to 760,400 and trips from other areas were up 11.9 per cent to 134,700.

British visitors to here were up by 3.3 per cent to 770,800.

In total, the number of overseas trips made by Irish residents during the May-July period was up by 3.2 per cent to 1,999,200.

From January to July, the number of trips to Ireland increased by 6 per cent when compared with the same months last year.

Mr Ring said visitors from overseas were enjoying their holiday experience here with many promising to return again in the future.

He also welcomed CSO figures this week which showed an 8 per cent increase in employment in accommodation and food services over the last 12 months.

He said this showed the special 9 per cent tourism VAT rate and other tourism measures were supporting job creation.

Teen drinking among girls increases the chance of breast cancer by 33%


study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that mothers who had drunk around two units of alcohol a day in the decade after their periods began were 34% more likely to develop cancer than those who did not drink during the same period.

The association was strongest among mothers who started their family later in life.

Research has previously found that alcohol is a key factor in breast cancer, with women who drink around two units a day having about a 24 per cent increased risk of the disease.

The new study found that the risk was even more marked if women started drinking younger, with an even stronger association depending on how long they were fertile for before becoming pregnant.

Women who never have children, or delay becoming pregnant, were already known to be more susceptible to breast cancer.

Researchers led by Dr Ying Liu from Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, US, examined the history of 91,000 women aged 15 to 40,

The evidence suggested that alcohol consumed before first pregnancy may play an important role in the development of breast cancer, said the researchers.

“Reducing alcohol consumption during this period may be an effective prevention strategy,” they concluded.

The findings indicated a dose-dependent relationship, which means the more alcohol a woman drinks during that time, the higher her risk of developing breast cancer.

Dr Liu said: “The general consistency in the patterns of association between alcohol and risk of proliferative benign breast cancer disease and of breast cancer lends support to the hypothesis that alcohol intake, particularly before first pregnancy when breast tissue is likely at its most vulnerable stage, may play an important role in the etiology of breast cancer.”

She added: “These findings have potentially important implications for breast cancer prevention.”

Professor Paul Pharaoh, Professor of Cancer Epidemiology, University of Cambridge, said:

“What we already know is that in a rather general sense drinking alcohol is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer and that the more a woman drinks the greater the risk.

“What we did not know: whether drinking alcohol at different ages has greater or lesser effects. Of particular interest is the time between puberty (menarche) and first pregnancy, when the breast tissue might be particularly susceptible.”

The figures were collected using questionnaires as part of the Nurses’ Health Study II (NHSII).

Alcohol consumption in four age periods were obtained by asking participants about the total number of alcoholic drinks consumed at different ages: 15-17, 18-22, 23-30, and 31-40.

Among these women, 1,609 cases of breast cancer and 970 cases of BBD occurred during the study period.

Previous research has found that women who drink are more likely to develop many sorts of cancers compared with those who are teetotal.

As well as increasing the risk of breast cancer, it also increases the chance of disease of the liver, mouth, throat and oesophagus.

Research has yet to establish why drinking alcohol seems to increase breast cancer risk. Studies have suggested that alcohol can increase oestrogen levels which could trigger hormone-receptor-positive types of the disease.

Scientists discover massive canyon below Greenland ice sheet


Using radar data from NASA’s Operation Ice-Bridge, scientists found a huge canyon that runs from near the centre of Greenland northward to the fjord of the Petermann Glacier.

A canyon at least 750km (460 miles) long with depths of up to 800 metres (2,600 feet) has been lurking 1.6km (1 mile) beneath an ice sheet that blankets Greenland, data from an airborne science mission has revealed.

The canyon has the characteristics of a winding river channel and is longer than the Grand Canyon in Arizona, US space agency NASA said, adding that the canyon is thought to predate the ice sheet that has covered Greenland for the last few million years.

“One might assume that the landscape of the Earth has been fully explored and mapped,” said Jonathan Bamber, professor of physical geography at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, and lead author of the study. “Our research shows there’s still a lot left to discover.”

The research has been published in the journal Science.

The scientists mapped out the canyon by using thousands of kilometres of airborne radar data that NASA and researchers from the UK and Germany have collected over several decades.

NASA’s Operation IceBridge collected a large portion of this data between 2009 and 2012.

In their analysis of the radar data, the scientists discovered a continuous bedrock canyon that extends from almost the centre of the island and ends beneath the Petermann Glacier fjord in northern Greenland.

At certain frequencies, radio waves can travel through the ice and bounce off the bedrock underneath. The amount of times the radio waves took to bounce back helped researchers determine the depth of the canyon. The longer it took, the deeper the bedrock feature, NASA said.

The researchers believe the canyon plays an important role in transporting sub-glacial meltwater from the interior of Greenland to the edge of the ice sheet into the ocean. NASA said evidence suggests that before the presence of the ice sheet, as much as 4m years ago, water flowed in the canyon from the interior to the coast and was a major river system.

The shark that walks! New discovery is a cool sign for conservationists


Conservation International’s Mark Erdmann captures this amazing footage of a new species of “walking” shark, which he and other scientists discovered in Indonesia.

Just watching a shark that uses its fins to walk across the ocean floor is cool enough, but the fact that one more “walking” species has been discovered is even cooler for conservationists.

“This is the third walking shark species to be described from eastern Indonesia in the past six years, which highlights our tremendous shark and ray biodiversity,” Indonesia’s foremost shark expert, known by the single name Fahmi, said in a news release from Conservation International. “We now know that six of the nine known walking shark species occur in Indonesian waters, and these animals are diver favorites with excellent potential to help grow our marine tourism industry.”

The latest species of walking shark was first photographed by divers in 2008, and has now been described as a new species in the journal Aqua. It’s known as the epaulette (long-tailed carpet) shark, or Hemiscyllium halmahera. Two specimens were caught by scientists from the Western Australian Museum and Conservation International in Indonesia’s Maluku Islands (also known as the Moluccas or the Spice Islands). The species name refers to Halmahera, the largest island in the Malukus.

Walking sharks uses their pectoral and pelvic fins to move across the sea bottom while foraging at night for small fishes and invertebrates. H. halmahera is distinguished from other walkers by the distinctive pattern of brown spots on its head.

Indonesia is home to at least 218 species of sharks and rays. In a blog post, Conservation International’s Mark Erdmann marveled at how much progress Indonesia has made in protecting its native sharks. “If you asked me a year ago about the long-term future of shark populations in Indonesia, I probably would have responded: ‘Bleak.'”

Indonesia has been the world leader in the export of dried shark fins and other products from the animal group that includes sharks as well as rays and skates, known as elasmobranches. But over the past year, the Indian Ocean country has come to appreciate that the creatures are worth more alive than dead.

“We now know, for instance, that a living manta ray is worth up to $1.9 million to our economy over the course of its lifetime, compared to a value of only $40 to $200 for its meat and gill rakers,” said Agus Dermawan, director of the Marine Conservation Directorate at the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries.

A recent study showed that Indonesia ranks second globally as a manta tourism destination, with an estimated direct economic benefit of more than $15 million to the country’s economy annually.

To preserve marine biodiversity — and keep the tourist dollars coming in — new sanctuaries for sharks and rays are being created. The Indonesian government also has pledged new regulations to comply with the CITES treaty on species protection.

Update for 2:15 p.m. ET Aug. 30: On the “Why Evolution Is True”blog, Matthew Cobb says the shark’s walking style looks a lot like the gait of a typical tetrapod. “So this suggests that the neuronal control of the way that you run (your right arm moves with your left leg, and your left arm moves with your right leg – try it) goes waaaayyyy back even beyond our fishy ancestors, to the time before the evolution of bone,” he writes. “Another alternative is that this is convergent evolution — if you are going to ‘walk,’ the alternate gait is the best way of doing it.  Today’s question: How could we test between these two hypotheses?”


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