News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Saturday 23rd November 2013

Assisted suicide is a topic we should address as human beings,


Eamon Gilmore has said that the issue of assisted suicide should be addressed in response to questions in the Dáil.

The TÁNAISTE EAMON GILMORE has said that legislators should deal with the issue of assisted suicide and has suggested that committee hearings be held when a case currently before the court concludes.

Gilmore was speaking at Leaders’ Questions when he was asked about the issue of assisted suicide in the wake of a woman being charged with assisting the suicide of another woman in Dublin in what is believed to be the first case of its kind in the State.

Indpendent TD Stephen Donnelly raised the case of Marie Fleming, an MS sufferer, who unsuccessfully challenged the country’s laws on assisted suicide earlier this year.

Donnelly told the Dáil that Fleming’s condition has deteriorated to the point where she may now starve to death and asked Gilmore if her husband Tom should face the threat of 14 years in prison if he helps his wife to die.

Gilmore said that it was best that the case before the courts concludes before TDs discuss the issue of assisted suicide, but he added:

“I met with Tom Curran after the Marie Fleming case… It is my view that as legislators we should address this issue here in this house.”

“I think it’s a difficult issue, I have enormous sympathy for the situation that Tom and Marie find themselves in, but there is no simple answer to this,” he said.

The Tánaiste said that the topic raised “ethical and legal” issues but said it was one that should be addressed.

“I think that this is a topic that I think we should address as legislators collectively,” he said. “I don’t think this should be a kind of government [versus] opposition type of issue.”

He said it is a “a topic we should address as human beings, as legislators” and said that when the court case is over there may be an opportunity to hold committee hearings.

Gilmore added: “The straight answer is ‘yes’. I do think we should deal with this as legislators.”

Donnelly said that the court case should not prevent TDs from discussing the issue and called for an expert report could be carried out. Gilmore said this was a positive suggestion which he would discuss with his government colleagues.

Donnelly also called for the Director of Public Prosecutions to issue guidelines on when penalties for assisted suicide may not apply as has happened in the UK.

Drug resistance warning to Irish people over ‘casual’ attitude to antibiotics


Clinicians begin campaign to discourage over-prescribing

Doctors have warned against the over-use of antibiotics.

A casual attitude to antibiotics is damaging their effectiveness and we seeing an alarming global rise in so-called ‘superbugs’, doctors in Ireland have warned.Consultant microbiologist Dr Fidelma Fitzpatrick, HSE/RCPI clinical lead, said there was a rise in drug-resistant bacteria that cause pneumonia and meningitis, MRSA and E.coli.Misuse of antibiotics threatened to undermine the progress made in medicine over recent decades. Their overuse also made patients less likely to respond to treatment.Launching the action on antibiotics campaign to mark European Antibiotic Awareness Day, Dr Fitzpatrick said: “Taking antibiotics when they aren’t needed means that they might not work when you really need them for a serious infection.

“That is why the action on antibiotics campaign – supported by the Department of Health, Health Service Executive,Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP), Irish Pharmacy Union, Royal College of Physicians and Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland – is aiming to raise public awareness on the correct use of antibiotics and to preserve this precious resource for the use of future generations.”

She said antibiotics had “utterly transformed modern medicine”.

“Before antibiotics were available, common injuries such as cuts and scratches that became infected could result in death or serious illness because there was no treatment available.

“Thankfully, this does not happen anymore as we have antibiotics available to treat these infections. However antibiotics must be used appropriately and by misusing them we face the risk of returning to the pre-antibiotic era.”

Clinicians warned that antibiotics should be used only as prescribed and only when needed. They would not work for colds or flu.

In addition, patients should always finish a prescribed course of antibiotics – even if they felt a lot better.

President of the ICGP, Dr Seamus Cryan said that the organisation had been actively encouraging lower usage rates for a number of years across its membership.

Leaflets and posters are being circulated to all GPs and pharmacies nationwide to promote the campaign.

Irish Doctors call for 500 new GPs to address the manpower crisis


The National Association of General Practitioners says 150 practices around the country are at risk of closure due to funding shortages.

THE CEO OF the National Association of General Practitioners is calling for the Government to support the appointment of 500 new GPs in order to bring Ireland into line with other developed countries.

Speaking in advance of the representative body’s AGM in Dublin, Chris Goodey said the move was needed to bring the country’s doctor-patient ratio up to the OECD average.

“As a matter of urgency the government needs to put the resourcing in place to support an increase in the number of GPs,” Goodey said.

He said that unless there were “significant reforms” to make General Practice attractive for new entrants to the profession “the current manpower crisis will lead to a collapse in the system of primary care”.

He said that in his address to the AGM he would send a “strong warning” to the Government parties that unless funding to the sector was increased “150 General Practices across every county in the country face the real risk of imminent closure”.

The organisation is also warning that the plan announced in the Budget to extend free GP cover to all children aged five and under will have a significant impact on other patients.

According to spokesperson Dr Stephen Murphy:

If the 280,000 or so children under six who currently don’t have a medical card are given one, then there will be a huge increase in visits to GPs – thereby increasing the average GPs workload by 10 per cent or more – other patients will, of necessity – have to lose out or wait.

He warns that if the GP service is overwhelmed “it will have a serious follow-on impact on the rest of the health service with disastrous results”.

The one-day AGM takes place in the Herbert Park Hotel, Ballsbridge. The keynote speaker is Dr Edward Walsh, founding President of the National University of Limerick. There are also one-on-one forums covering legal and tax advice, and a workshop by credit management specialist Declan Flood on ‘Getting Paid’.

Two Northern Ireland men remanded in custody over Bundoran Methylone find


Two Northern Ireland men were remanded in custody on a €115,000 drugs distribution charge.

Paul McConville 55, of Cranny Terrace, Craigavon, and Malachy Doran, 52, of Church Walk, Lurgan, appeared at a special sitting of Sligo District Court.

They were accused of having €115,000 worth of Methylone, and ecstasy-type drug, and having it for sale and supply in a rented house Bunholvil, Bundoran, Co. Donegal on Friday.

They were refused bail and remanded in custody by Judge Kevin Kilrane to appear at Sligo Court next Thursday.

The men were arrested at 9.15 a.m. on Friday at Bunholvil by local drugs squad gardai working with Customs officers in an ongoing operation targeting drugs sales in South Donegal.

UN climate deal allows countries to make ‘contributions’ on emissions targets


Diplomats from almost 190 nations endorsed a set of measures on global warming, laying the groundwork for a treaty to be adopted in 2015 that would limit pollution by all nations for the first time.

The delegates at a United Nations conference called on those who are ready to make pledges on emissions by the first quarter of 2015. They authorized work on a “loss and damage” mechanism that would help the poorest cope with the impact of climate change, took in $100 million in aid pledges to fund adaptation programs and agreed on a forest-protection deal.

The deal resulted from a last-minute compromise between industrial and developing nations about the fossil-fuel emissions cuts they were agreeing to. China and India rejected an effort by the U.S. and European Union to lock all nations into “commitments” on greenhouse gases. That word was swapped for “contributions,” a sign some countries may be shying away from explicit emissions reductions targets such as those enshrined in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

The meeting sidestepped the most thorny issues in the debate, namely how to divide up responsibility for emissions cuts and how richer nations will meet their promise to channel $100 billion a year by 2020 in aid for climate projects. Those concerns may stymie work toward a broader accord in two years.

“There are some very difficult political issues that will need to be addressed over the next two years if we are going to have a successful outcome,” said Alden Meyer, an observer of the talks for two decades at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said at the meeting today in Warsaw, Poland. “We’re just at the beginning of a long and potentially difficult journey.”

This year’s meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was never designed to produce a breakthrough. Instead, it was meant to work out the technical groundwork necessary for the 2015 deal, which will be negotiated in Paris after an interim meeting in Lima, Peru.

Record carbon emissions have lifted the Earth’s temperature about 0.8 degrees Celsius since the industrial revolution, and the planet is on a path to exceed the UN-endorsed maximum of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) of warming by 2100. As a result, sea levels are rising, oceans are acidifying and glaciers and sea ice are melting. Scientists predict more freak weather, droughts and stronger storms.

Humans have already emitted more than half the greenhouse gases compatible with a 2-degree increase, UN scientists said Sept. 27. The implication of that is many fossil-fuel reserves need to remain unburned if the temperature goal is to be met.

“The coal lobby cast a shadow over the negotiations,” said Jennifer Morgan, director of the climate and energy program, at the World Resources Institute. “It’s increasingly clear that unabated coal use is inconsistent with the goal of staying within 2 degrees.”

When the mandate to reach a new global deal was fixed two years ago in Durban, South Africa, industrial nations hailed it as breaking down the firewall that assigned mandatory targets only to rich countries. Clashes between developed and emerging nations in Warsaw showed the divisions remain.

Poland sparked ire from environmental activists for hosting a coal conference at the same time as the talks, while China led an angry backlash by developing countries against Japan’s decision to water down its planned emissions target for 2020.

The meeting began three days after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines. That fed animosity about who is to blame for global warming and who should pay to fix the damage. India and China called on industrial nations to move first on emissions. The agreement allowed wiggle room on exactly when their own pledges must be delivered.

The European Union and U.S. succeeded in their bid to set a deadline for taking in emissions pledges before the Paris meeting. They had to accept language that said it applies to those that are ready.

Rich countries didn’t give further detail on when they’d boost climate-related aid from the the $10 billion a year that has flowed in the past three years.

Those issues may be more sharply defined at the next annual conference, which will be held in December 2014 in Lima. For now, there was $100 million in new pledges from nations led by Germany, Sweden and Switzerland for the UN’s Adaptation Fund, which helps developing nations adapt to the impact of climate change. The Green Climate Fund, established two years remains un-capitalized because the way it works hasn’t been fully defined.

The delegates seek to write a new climate-protection agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, the only global deal with emissions restrictions.

It limits greenhouse pollutants in industrialized nations, leaving poorer countries to make only voluntary commitments. Since Canada pulled out of Kyoto and Russia and Japan rejected new targets after 2012, the treaty has applied to less than 15 percent of global emissions. China has surpassed the U.S. as the world’s biggest polluter since 1997, with India catching up.

“You have no chance to achieve the ambition you need unless you have an agreement which is going to be maximally inclusive, bringing all the players in,” U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern told reporters in Warsaw.

Richer nations have offered aid to entice poorer ones into joining in limits on fossil-fuel emissions. Japan pledged $16 billion in aid over the next three years. Norway promised at least $500 million a year through 2020. The U.S. said it’s paying out $2.7 billion this year. The $100 million for the adaptation fund will help pay for projects in Belize, Cuba, the Seychelles, Myanmar and Uzbekistan.

‘There are some very difficult political issues that will need to be addressed over the next two years if we are going to have a successful outcome’

The debates over long-term finance to meet the $100 billion goal, the loss-and-damage mechanism, and the timetable of emissions pledges leading up to the 2015 deal proved the most touchy issues in Warsaw. Envoys say each nation must prepare for the next session to have targets to put on the table.

“If we don’t do our homework before we meet, then we won’t get an agreement when we meet,” Danish Environment Minister Martin Lidegaard said in an interview.

In a victory for islands states that fear they’ll be submerged by rising seas, delegates set up a body called the Warsaw Mechanism to help the most vulnerable nations address the losses and damage they suffer due to global warming.

While it falls short of a demand that it becomes a channel for compensation, its functions may include coordinating research into extreme weather events and so-called slow-onset effects of climate change. Those include the rise of sea levels, melting glaciers and ocean acidification. It may also play a role coordinating with aid agencies and UN bodies dealing with health, weather and agriculture.

On forests, the conference adopted a rulebook setting out how aid funds can go to protect woodlands, concluding eight years of negotiations. Deforestation and land-use changes account for 17 percent of global greenhouse-gas emissions, and the measures known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, or REDD-plus, will help nations such as Brazil and Congo protect forests.

“With these decisions, the REDD house is built,” said Pipa Elias, forest policy consultant at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Now we need to furnish it and pay for it.”


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