News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Friday 28th September 2013

Brain drain as educated Irish are leaving for a new life abroad


UCC survey shows 62 per cent of emigrants aged 25 to 34 have a third-level qualification

Ireland is experiencing a “brain drain”, as the people currently leaving Ireland for a new life abroad are much more likely to have a higher level of education than the general population, a major survey on emigration has found.

The research, which will be published today at an international conference on “austerity emigration” in University College Cork, reveals that 62 per cent of emigrants aged 25 to 34 have a third-level qualification, compared to 47 per cent of Irish people in that age group overall.

Using data from the 2011 Census, researchers from the UCC Émigré project carried out door to door surveys of 2,500 households, while data was collected online from 1,500 Irish abroad and 500 intending emigrants attending jobs fairs. More than 60 emigrants were interviewed in-depth over Skype.

The final report claims to be “one of the most representative studies ever” of Irish emigration, providing a detailed profile of the age, gender, education, occupation and origin of Irish emigrants for the first time, as well as their experiences once they leave and intentions for the future.

Some 32 per cent of adults who responded to the household survey have had an immediate family member emigrate since 2006, while 44 per cent have had an extended family member leave. Almost 17 per cent of households have seen at least one member emigrate in the period.

Sparsely populated rural areas have been disproportionately affected, with 25 per cent of households losing a member to emigration. In commuter belt areas, where residents would be more likely have negative equity mortgages and young children, less than 11 per cent of households had experienced emigration.

Rural areas are also most likely to feel that emigration has impacted negatively on their community, with householders describing a loss of “vibrancy” associated with younger residents, lack of support for older community members, decimation of local sports teams and clubs, and reduced spending in the local economy.

Six in ten people have had a member of their circle of friends emigrate since 2006, rising to nine in ten among those aged 25 to 29.

Almost half of all emigrants left full-time jobs to emigrate, while one in eight worked part-time. Students, many of whom had just graduated, made up 15 per cent, while 23 per cent were unemployed.

Over 17 per cent of all emigrants had a background in construction, while 7 per cent were previously employed in manufacturing and engineering and 5 per cent in wholesale and retail. Teachers made up 5.4 per cent, while 9.5 per cent had a background in health or social work.

Of those employed full-time before departure, four in ten said they left because they wanted to travel and experience another culture, indicating that there is still a sizeable proportion of emigrants who are leaving by choice. They are likely to be professionals with qualifications in demand in other countries, especially in the areas of IT or health.

Professional insecurity and a lack of job satisfaction played a significant role in their decision to go, with the temporary nature of contracts, lack of opportunities for career advancement and low salaries commonly cited as reasons for leaving full-time employment.

Others cited a desire to find work or gain professional experience not available to them in Ireland, especially those previously working in an area unrelated to their qualifications or experience.

Students who emigrated after graduation said they had struggled to break into the labour market, where they faced unfair competition for fewer positions from more senior, experienced candidates who had lost jobs.

Three per cent of emigrants surveyed had children living in a different country, suggesting a considerable number of parents are taking up overseas positions to support a family still living in Ireland.

Although almost 40 per cent of recent emigrants would like to return to Ireland to live in the next three years, just 22 per cent see it as likely, though 82 per cent said improvements in the Irish economy would improve their likelihood of returning.

New Irish report says children should get two years of free pre-school


Government advisory group proposes increase in investment in early years education of Irish children.

The report advises reviewing guidelines for pre-schools to ensure all children in early care and education services have access to outdoor spaces, either on site or in the local community.

The free pre-school scheme should be extended to allow children up to two years of care and education. That is one of a number of proposals contained in an expert advisory group report on the Government’s new early years strategy.

This blueprint will guide the development of children’s services over the next five years or so. At present, the terms of the free pre-school year mean some children do not begin the scheme until they are 4½ years old. It is also limited to a single year.

The expert group report says it should be opened to children of three years of age. This would allow children to benefit from up to two years of free pre-school, depending on when they start junior infants. It also advocates increasing investment in early care and education from 0.4 per cent of GDP to 0.7 per cent within the next five years.

The document notes that Government spending on early years care and education is below “acceptable levels” and that investing in young children’s health and education will ultimately save money for and result in a healthier and better educated workforce .

The report says that if Ireland“gets it right from the start” by adopting a comprehensive early years strategy, we will end up with a generation of children who are happier, healthier, safer and better able to cope with the adversity that life throws up. “It could break cycles of poverty and disadvantage and remove barriers of inequality. It could significantly reduce anti-social behaviour, dependency, and alienation. It could help to build a stronger economy,” it adds.

The expert advisory group was chaired by Dr Eilis Hennessy of UCD and included 15 members from a range of groups such as the HSE and Department of Education, along with children’s groups such as Early Childhood Ireland, Barnardos and Start Strong.


– Extend the entitlement to free pre-school provision, so that a free part-time place is available from every child’s third birthday until they enter primary school.

– Introduce the regulation and support of all paid, non-relative childminders.

– Increase investment in early care and education services, with investment rising to achieve the international benchmark of 1 per cent of GDP within 10 years.

– Give longer periods of paid parental leave for parents by incrementally extending leave at the end of the present period of paid maternity leave (six months) to a full year.

– Put public health nursing service at the core of a dedicated child health

workforce, including home visits to every child in the first year of life.

– Introduce a national parenting action plan aimed at making a range of universal and targeted supports available to parents.

– Review guidelines for pre-schools to ensure all children in early care and education services have access to outdoor spaces, either on site or in the local community.

– Introduce a national policy on access to pre-school special needs assistants, including guidelines on entitlements to such supports and on their role in early years and primary school provision.

Proposals contained in Report of the Expert Advisory Group on the Early Years Strategy to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. This document will feed into a Government blueprint to be published later this year

Social welfare and pensions safe in Irish budget, Joan Burton urges


The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, said she is confident that neither weekly social welfare rates nor the bus pass will be hit in the budget.

Joan Burton has yet to have a formal meeting with the Public Expenditure Minister to discuss cuts, which could be as much as €440m for her department.

She insisted, however, that she has a tight control on spending and hopes to be able to leave certain welfare rates alone.

“I would be confident that we’ll be able to maintain our commitment … to protect core weekly social welfare rates, particularly, obviously for people who are retired and are on the retirement pension,” she said.

The top five fats for a healthy mind and body


Fat has become somewhat of a blacklisted word in the eyes of the grocery shopper. A leery eye is poised to locate and eliminate any product from consideration that has what they deem to be excess fat content.

While it may be true that the fats in labeled food products often contain the type we want to avoid, we have to be careful not to lump them in with these top five healthy fats, that are an essential requirement for a healthy body and mind.

Extra virgin coconut oil:   Coconut oil contains lauric acid, an important fatty acid that is also found abundantly in mothers’ milk, which also has a potent antiviral effect on the body. It is also excellent for the thyroid and does not raise cholesterol when consumed in a diet rich in essential fatty acids.

An also very important note is that anyone suffering from candidiasis can benefit greatly from the caprylic acid in coconut oil because of its potent antifungal properties.

Fish oil:   Many of the benefits of fish oil are due to the presence of omega-3 essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA. Other useful essential fatty acids in fish oil include alpha-linolenic acid and gamma-linolenic acid.

According to the American Heat Association, clinical trials have shown that omega-3′s are effective in reducing the incidence of cardiovascular disease. This is one reason why fish oil has been attributed to a reduced risk of heart disease.

Fish oil is also known as an effective anti-inflammatory and natural antidepressant and protects against Alzheimer’s and ADHD.  Ensure you get a pure form of fish oil, free of mercury and other contaminants.

Hemp oil:   One of the most beneficial components of hemp is its full range of amino acids as well as being a perfectly balanced source of Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s), making it one of the very few plant based complete protein sources.

EFA’s include the optimal ratio of omega-3′s and omega-6′s, which helps maintain a healthy immune system and is responsible for healthy looking skin, hair and nails. The exceptional concentration of EFA’s in hemp, is also known for its role in preventing heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, arthritis and much more.

It’s also important to keep in mind that EFA’s are indispensable for function and development of the brain and nervous system and the production of healthy cell membranes.

Avocados:  Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats, and can contain up to 22 grams of fat in a medium sized fruit.  They also provide up to 20 essential health boosting nutrients, including fiber, potassium, vitamin E, B vitamins and folic acid.

Avocados are one of the safest fruits to purchase conventionally grown, as the thick skin protects it from the already lower level of pesticide exposure it receives.

Avocados have plenty of other benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties, increased fat-soluble nutrient absorption (such as beta carotene and lutein), improved lipid profiles and inhibiting and destroying oral cancer cells.

Walnuts:   Walnuts not only taste great but are also a rich source of monounsaturated fats. One quarter cup serving can deliver up to 95% of your Recommended Dietary Allowance of omega-3 fats.

Walnuts have been studied and promoted for their cardiovascular benefits, anticancer properties, anti-inflammatory effects and brain health properties.  Eat walnuts on their own, in salads or a vegetable dish or with fruit.

Bombs from the above & the threat of meteorites


An asteroid 10km in diameter wiped out the dinosaurs and extinguished life on Earth. The scientific community is working to avoid a repeat

A meteorite trail is seen above a residential apartment block in the Urals city of Chelyabinsk, on February 15th. A heavy meteor shower rained down on central Russia, sowing panic as the hurtling space debris mashed windows and injured dozens of stunned locals.

Astronomer Alan Fitzsimmons has a lot on his mind. He is interested in our solar system, but also in how to save planet Earth. The Queen’s University Belfast scientist studies how to deflect space rocks on a collision course with our planet, as part of NeoShield, a European-funded project. One option is to nuke an incoming asteroid, another to ram it.

Extra impetus arrived on February 15th when an asteroid exploded over central Russia, producing a blast 30 times as powerful as the Hiroshima bomb. The Chelyabinsk meteor had travelled 18km per second, before disintegrating at high altitude. About 1,600 people were injured in the sparsely populated area and thousands of buildings damaged.

It was a small asteroid, Fitzsimmon’s says, about the size of a bus. “An object that small [20m wide] will not make it to Earth’s surface, but will explode at altitude,” he says. By coincidence, hours later a 20m by 40m asteroid whizzed by Earth, closer to us than our communication satellites, but it was predicted. Chelyabinsk arrived unannounced.

“We still miss these small asteroids all the time, even with our sophisticated telescopes,” says Fitzsimmons, who uses a telescope in Hawaii to survey for danger in another project, Pan-Starrs. Once a minute, a 1.4 billion-pixel image of part of the sky is recorded and then analysed for comets and asteroids that may be winging our way. It detected the 10,000th “near-Earth object” early this June. Cataloguing these is a priority for Nasa too.

Don Yeomans of Nasa’s near-Earth object programme says 90 per cent of objects over a kilometre across have been identified, and Nasa is now focusing on those more than 130m. After following them for a few years, scientists can work out their orbit and do impact probability calculations, often for a hundred years into the future.

“A one-kilometre object gives you a global catastrophe,” Fitzsimmons warns. “An object 40m to 70m across would cause major damage locally, with the severity depending on the exact velocity, size and composition.”

Anything greater than 30m across will likely strike Earth’s surface, but damage potential is still under investigation.

“To better predict the hazards of future impacts, we need to know how much damage objects of different sizes and types of material produced,” says David Kring, an impact expert at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston. “Chelyabinsk is providing the first high-precision calibration point on the curve that relates impact energy to surface damage.”

Russian roulette: The Russian fireball was a weak stony asteroid called a chondrite; one fragment knocked an eight-metre hole in the ice of Chebarkul Lake. Experts say a 20m object enters Earth’s atmosphere about once a century on average, so it was a rare event. Chances are it wouldn’t hit a city.

Impressive impact craters in Canada and South Africa stretch almost 200km across, but the most famous lies under the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. “The Chicxulub impact event, which wiped out the dinosaurs and extinguished life on Earth, was produced by an asteroid about 10km in diameter,” says Kring. “It is much more difficult for such a large object to go undetected, but not impossible. The scientific community is working hard to detect all objects that size, to minimise that risk.”

A rock this size equals catastrophe. The Chicxulub blast laid down a tell-tale layer of iridium-rich dust spread across the globe, a clue to its force. “That asteroid would have come in at around 20km a second, and something that size would have no chance of being slowed down by the atmosphere. It would have penetrated way down into the crust, where all that kinetic energy was converted instantly to heat. The rock would have simply exploded and vaporised, giving a hot dusty atmosphere,” says Ian Sanders, a meteorite geologist in Trinity College.

The PCC report: global warming is ‘unequivocal’  

Man’s influence on climate change is “clear”, according to the latest IPCC report which states that global warming is “unequivocal”

The new assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change states that it is “extremely likely” humans have been the principal cause of warming since the 1950s.

Without making “substantial and sustained reductions” of greenhouse gas emissions, the world can expect an increase of extreme weather including heatwaves and heavy rainfall.

Three out of four future climate change scenarios, based on projected levels of gas and aerosol emissions, suggest that by the end of this century global temperatures are likely to reach 1.5C higher than pre-industrial levels.

In the two highest of the four scenarios, warming by 2100 is expected to exceed 2C, the benchmark after which there are likely to be dangerous effects on the planet.

The effects of climate change will continue for several hundred years even if emissions of carbon dioxide stop, the report states.

Scientists and politicians from 195 countries have been working late into the night all week to finalise details of the document.

In an official statement issued to press on Friday morning, the panel said: “Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident in most regions of the globe.

“It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. The evidence for this has grown.”

Warming in the climate system is “unequivocal” and changes seen since the mid 20th century have been “unprecdented over decades to millenia”, they added.

The discussions, which took place at a brewery-turned-conference facility in central Stockholm were frustratingly slow but there is understood to have been little of the infighting between nations that has characterised past meetings.

One delegate told the Telegraph on Thursday night: “The good news is that the Saudis are not objecting to every word like used to happen [at previous meetings].

“It is pretty tame compared to the early years of the IPCC when you used to have a real scrum between people like the Chinese, who could be quite difficult. There is no-one in there saying climate change isn’t real.”

The summary for policymakers is a condensed version of a much larger report running to thousands of pages, which will be released on Monday.

It states that the atmosphere and oceans have become warmer, with the oceans absorbing more than 90 per cent of the extra heat energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010.

In fact, many scientists believe that warming of the deep oceans, on which data is still uncertain, has been masking climate change at the surface. This could explain why atmospheric temperatures have barely changed in the past 15 years during the so-called “pause”, they say.

Political delegates from the UK and other leading countries such as the US and Brazil are understood to have pushed hard for the report to make explicitly clear that the comparative lack of warming during the past decade and a half does not mean climate change has stopped.

Sir Mark Walport, the Government chief scientific adviser, said the challenge for scientists in overcoming scepticism about man-made climate change was one of “communication.”

He told BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme: “Scientists have got to communicate this. There are some people that don’t want to confront the policy decisions and they say ‘the easiest way we can do this is rubbish the science.’ They can’t do this, it’s absolutely robust.”

The summary states: “Due to natural variability, trends based on short records are very sensitive to the beginning and end dates and do not in general reflect long-term climate trends. As one example, the rate of warming over the past 15 years, which begins with a strong El Nino, is smaller than the rate calculated since 1951.”

The report makes clear that each of the past three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850, and that 1983-2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the past 1,400 years.

Concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere have reached levels unprecedented in the past 800,000 years, including a 40 per cent increase since pre-industrial times.

The report also states that sea levels have risen by 19cm since 1901, and that they will continue to rise during this century as surface temperature rises and the Arctic sea ice continues to shrink and thin and glaciers around the world recede.

The oceans are also set to become more acidic as they absorb more carbon.

Qin Dahe, co-chair of the working group, said: “Our assessment of the science finds that the atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amount of snow and ice has diminished, the global mean sea level has risen and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.

“As the ocean warms, and glaciers and ice sheets reduce, global mean sea level will continue to rise, but at a faster rate than we have experienced over the past 40 years.”

Thomas Stocker, the other co-chair of the group, added: “Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gases.

“Heatwaves are very likely to occur more frequently and last longer. As the Earth warms, we expect to see currently wet regions receiving more rainfall, and dry regions receiving less, although there will be exceptions.

“As a result of our past, present and expected future emissions of CO2, we are committed to climate change, and effects will persist for many centuries even if emissions stop.”

Ed Davey, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said solutions to the problem of man-made greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere “must be set in motion today.”

He said: “The risks and costs of doing nothing today are so great, only a deeply irresponsible government would be so negligent.

“Without urgent action to cut greenhouse gas emissions this warming will continue, with potentially dangerous impacts upon our societies and economy.”

The report strengthened the case for international leaders to work for an “ambitious, legally binding global agreement” in 2015 to cut carbon emissions, he added, thanking the scientists behind it for making clear “what is at stake if we don’t act.”


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