News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Monday 7th October 2013

A quarter (25%) of Irish homes are now valued under €100,000


A quarter of homes have been valued for tax by their owners at less than 100,000 euro

A quarter of homes have been valued for tax by their owners at less than 100,000 euros, official figures have revealed.

The Revenue Commissioners said the self-assessment valuations for the property tax showed that 86% of the country’s homes are worth less than 250,000 euros.

The figures also showed that the most compliant region for paying the levy is Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown, where 92% of households have paid up.

The least compliant regions were Donegal and Louth, where the payment rate was as low as 84%.

Other figures from the updated local property tax database showed that only 0.2% of the country’s 1.95 million homes are worth more than one millionn euros.

Elsewhere, 28.6% of homes are valued at between 100,001-150,000 euros; 21.9% between 150,001-200,000 euros; and 10.4% between 200,001-250,000 euros.

Some 200 million euros has been collected by the Revenue by the end of September.

In a further breakdown of the property tax regime, the Revenue also gave details on exemptions.

Some 4.7% of homes have been classed as pyrite damaged; 4.3% are owned by a person who is severely incapacitated; 16.1% are classed as being in ghost estates; and another 17.1% are lying empty after a developer failed to get a buyer.

Another 15% are classed as long-term illness and 0.1% are diplomatic buildings.

Most people who have paid the tax have used a credit or debit card while almost one third paid by a cheque, or the equivalent.

Irish College of physician’s urge 20% tax on sugary drinks


Health experts have said increasing tax on sugary drinks could help curb child obesity

Doctors have demanded a 20% tax hike on sugar sweetened drinks in the upcoming budget to tackle the obesity epidemic.

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) also called for a review of how sugary drinks are promoted and the effect their consumption has, particularly by children.

   Professor Donal O’Shea warned they provide no nutritional benefits but are linked with weight gain.

“With one in four Irish schoolchildren classified as overweight or obese, we have an epidemic and the Government must take action,” said the hospital consultant.

“There is widespread agreement among health professionals, now backed by a convincing body of evidence, that sugar sweetened drinks, including sports drinks, and their pattern of consumption are significant factors in weight gain and obesity, especially among children.

“Despite this, sugar sweetened drinks remain popular in Ireland, and are heavily promoted.

“Sports personalities and organisations are often used by industry to market their sports drinks.

“This is certainly something that I believe should be discouraged in the future.”

The RCPI policy group on obesity said research indicates that the obese children of today will become the obese adults of tomorrow, costing the state more than a billion euro in healthcare costs and loss of productivity due to illness.

It said public health must be prioritised over commercial gains and backed the Irish Heart Foundation which also called on Finance Minister Michael Noonan to consider a tax hike on October 15.

Associate Professor Dr Catherine Hayes said studies show a price increase will encourage adults and parents to buy healthier drinks.

“There is now a consensus across a broad spectrum of health professionals that a tax on sugar sweetened drinks is needed as an important step in addressing the challenge of obesity in Ireland,” she added.

“A Health Impact Assessment commissioned by the Department of Health in 2012 estimated that a 10% tax on sugar sweetened drinks would reduce the number of obese adults in Ireland by 10,000.

“The introduction of the tax would go some way towards reducing direct and indirect costs of obesity, and would generate additional much-needed revenue for prevention.

First case of native ash tree disease confirmed


The Department of Agriculture has confirmed that the first case of the killer ash dieback disease in a native Irish tree has been found.

96 outbreaks of the fungus, which can destroy ash trees, have been found in imported trees across the country since the first case was identified in October of last year.

The department has worked with the IFA, nursery owners, landowners and forestry contractors since then to clear the effected plantation sites.

However, inspectors have recently identified the 97th case in a hedgerow tree in Co Leitrim, close to but outside of the area where the first cluster of cases was found in imported trees last year.

Department of Agriculture officials have said this is the first time that the disease has been found in native Irish ash.

As a result, eradication measures are being put in place in the area where the case was found.

All ash trees in hedgerows within 250m of the plantation are to be taken out and burned or buried.

Sources say the number of trees is likely to run into the hundreds, although some of the trees will be small saplings.

The Leitrim site where the first case was found in imported trees was planted with imported ash plants in 2009 and these were confirmed positive for Chalara fraxinea last year.

The area remains by far the largest known outbreak of the disease in Ireland.

Last November, legislative measures were put in place to regulate the importation of ash seed, plants and wood. Similar legislation was introduced in Northern Ireland.

The department has appealed to the public to be on the look-out for the disease.

Guidance on the symptoms can be found on the Department of Agriculture and Teagasc’s website.

Ireland has the highest fertility rate in the European Union


New figures from Eurostat also show that Ireland has a higher than average rate of people who are at risk of poverty and social exclusion and has experienced one of the highest falls in employment.

IRELAND has the highest fertility rate in the European Union according to new statistics published today.

Figures from the Regional Yearbook published by Eurostat show that Ireland recorded a fertility rate of 2.05 live births per woman in 2011 which was well above the EU average and the highest of the 27 member states.

The total average fertility rate in the EU stood at 1.57 in 2011. Overall there has been a slowdown in natural population growth across the EU due to women having fewer children in the last decade.

In the developed world a fertility rate of 2.10 live births per woman is considered the rate at which the size of the population would remain static if there is no inward or outward migration.

Ireland’s rate was slightly above that France where it was 2.01 live births per woman. This was followed by the UK with a rate of 1.96, and Sweden with a rate of 1.90.

The lowest live births per woman was recorded in Hungary where it was an average of 1.23 per woman.

Poverty and employment  

The figures published today also show that nearly 30 per cent of the Irish population are at risk of poverty and social exclusion. The 29.4 per cent figure for Ireland is above the EU average of 24.3 per cent.

Being at risk of poverty and social exclusion means that the person satisfies one of the following criteria: they are at risk-of-poverty, severely materially deprived or living in households with very low work intensity.

Statistics from Eurostat today also show that Ireland has experienced one of the highest falls in employment rates in recent years in the whole of the EU.

Between 2008 and 2011 employment rates fell by 8.2 per cent in the southern and eastern regions while in the borders, midlands and western regions it fell by 9.2 per cent.

‘Mind yourself’ mental health is a precious thing so make sure you mind it


More and more people now accept that the issue of physical well-being is about striking a balance in day-to-day life. Increasingly, we see physical health as something to be worked for each day in terms of diet, exercise and general lifestyle.

Health is no longer seen just in terms of consulting a doctor when we are ill.

We at Independent News & Media also believe it is time we extended this positive and practical approach to our mental well-being. That is why we yesterday launched our ‘Mind Yourself’ series and continue today and all this week.

A great deal of progress has been made in smashing the taboos and secretiveness which surrounded mental health issues for too long. Such vital work must continue but it must also be expanded to promote positive mental health by examining how we can take practical steps to protect and promote our mental well-being.

Our series is about getting well-known people talking practically and frankly about how they deal with the stresses and strains of life which risk impacting on their mental well-being.

Today, the former Munster and Leinster rugby star, Trevor Hogan, talks frankly about the anxieties and reverses he experienced in his playing career and how he dealt with them.

His candour is welcome as it contrasts with the macho stereotype of top-level competitive sport. We believe that contributions such as this will help people realise that they are not alone in their fears and anxieties and there are many practical remedies and strategies to deal with them.

The ‘Mind Yourself’ series aims to help readers learn some important skills to promote their own mental well-being. We all need to learn how to mind our minds.

Brown Thomas shoppers Dublin store goes online


Irish shoppers yearning for a spot of retail therapy at Brown Thomas will no longer have to wait to go to one of its stores – the shop is going online.

From tomorrow Brown Thomas will start selling online with 10 of its leading beauty products available to customers on the island of Ireland.

And customers can have products delivered to the door for €3.50 a time or can arrange to have their goods collected at stores in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick.

Exclusive brands customers will be able to buy include MAC, Jo Malone, Armani and Tom Ford with accessories, fashion and footwear to follow next year.

“We are delighted to be able to offer our customers the convenience of shopping beauty from their own homes for the first time,” said Sam Bain, Multi-Channel Director at Brown Thomas.

“We have worked hard to ensure that the experience still offers the luxury and premier service our customers have come to expect. The new website also offers inspirational features, fashion tips & brand content. We will be adding additional brands and categories to shop over the coming months. ”

It is expected that by next summer around half of in-store products will be available to buy online.

The company is spending €500,000 upfront on the launch in an investment of €1.25m this year and in 2014

Dogs experience emotion at same level as a human child


Ever thought about it? Does your dog really really love you?

Dog owners have for a long time been lauding their pets ability to love and offer loyal companionship, so they probably will not be surprised by new research which indicates that they feel emotions at the level of a human child.

Gregory Berns and his team at Emory University have spent two years examining the brain activity of dogs using M.R.I. scanner and what they discovered has been published in a new book, How Dogs Love Us: A Neuroscientist and His Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain.

Writing in the New York Times, Berns indicated that dogs respond to humans they know using the caudate nucleus in the brain, the same part of the brain humans use in anticipation of things they enjoy.

Do these findings prove that dogs love us? Not quite. But many of the same things that activate the human caudate, which are associated with positive emotions, also activate the dog caudate.

Berns suggested that the level of emotion and perception indicated in his research suggests that the idea of dogs as property needs to be reconsidered.

The ability to experience positive emotions, like love and attachment, would mean that dogs have a level of sentience comparable to that of a human child. And this ability suggests a rethinking of how we treat dogs.

So, next time you’re defending your love of dogs, you can say that Science indicates that they probably love you too!


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