News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Friday 3rd January 2014

Ireland’s Tax take up 2.3% for 2013 points to a recovery

Tax Revenue Boosted by Corporate Contributions


Ireland’s tax revenue rose 3.2% in 2013 from the previous year, providing evidence that the Irish economy is on the mend following the country’s exit from its three-year international bailout, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said.

Ireland’s tax revenue rose 3.2% in 2013 from the previous year, providing evidence that the Irish economy is on the mend following the country’s exit from its three-year international bailout, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said Friday.

Tax revenue through the end of December totaled €37.8 billion ($51.68 billion), up from €36.64 billion at the end of December 2012.

The tax data show revenue from corporation taxes was above target in the year, but the sums raised from value-added taxes, or spending taxes, were about 2% less than the ministry had expected, suggesting that consumer spending remains under pressure. Overall, tax revenue was slightly lower than expected.

Ireland formally exited its bailout last month when it drew down the last of its bailout loans from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. However, under the program, the government is obliged to introduce more austerity to control its budget deficit through 2015.

The government projects the economy will grow 2% this year, helped by stronger demand for Irish exports, particularly from the rest of the euro zone and the U.K., the country’s main markets. “The exchequer performance in 2013 is evidence of the significant progress that has been made in stabilizing and now growing the economy and creating jobs,” Mr. Noonan said.

The finance ministry also said a so-called exchequer—or central government—deficit, at €11.49 billion in 2013, narrowed from a deficit of €14.89 billion in 2012.

Fitness-to-practise inquiries for nurses & mid-wives to be held later this year


Four nurses and one midwife struck off in 2013 following 13 inquiries

Fitness-to-practise inquiries into complaints about nurses and midwives are to be held in public from later this year,An Bord Altranais has said.

It is expected the first public hearing will be held in May or June at the offices of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland in Blackrock, Dublin.

The Nurses and Midwives Act was passed in 2011 but sections dealing with how complaints against nurses and midwives are handled, including public hearings, were not commenced by Minister for Health James Reilly until October 2nd, 2012.

All complaints received about nurses and midwives after October 2012 are being dealt with under the new Act, and any received before the commencement date are being dealt with under the old legislation, which requires inquiries to be held in private.

Complaints under the new legislation are initially considered by the preliminary proceedings committee in private, in a process similar to that operated by the Medical Council when dealing with complaints against doctors.

The nurses’ preliminary committee held its first meeting to consider complaints last September. Under the old legislation, complaints could only be considered on two grounds: alleged professional misconduct or alleged unfitness to engage in practice due to physical or mental disability.

But the new legislation has nine grounds of complaint, including professional misconduct, poor professional performance, non-compliance with a code of professional conduct, a relevant medical disability or an irregularity in relation to the custody, prescription or supply of a controlled drug.

Once the preliminary committee finds there is sufficient evidence in a case to hold a fitness-to-practise inquiry, details of it will be passed on to an inquiry team. Though the inquiry that follows will normally be heard in public, under certain circumstances, it can be held in private or partly in private if the committee is satisfied “it would be appropriate in the circumstances”.

A nursing board spokeswoman said it was not possible to know how many inquiries would be held this year under the 2011 legislation.

“But based on experience under the Nurses Act, 1985, approximately 40 to 60 per cent of complaints received each year progress to an inquiry,” she said. She did not specify the number of complaints received so far under the new legislation.

In 2013, the results of 13 fitness-to-practise inquiries were confirmed by the High Court; four nurses and one midwife were struck off, seven were censured and one had conditions attached to her registration, according to the board’s website.

In 2012, the results of 17 fitness-to-practise hearings were confirmed by the High Court resulting in eight practitioners being struck off, seven having conditions attached to his or her practice and one practitioner being censured.

EirGrid’s €3.2bn plan must be financially justified


says Marian Harkin as consultation deadline approaches

The public by accepting the harsh austerity measures imposed on them in the past five years have earned the right to be consulted on all future major public expenditure projects. This is according to Independent MEP Marian Harkinin the context of the planned €3.2bn investment by EirGrid in a number of infrastructural projects across Ireland.

She said: “As the Irish people face into further erosion of their quality of life they have every right to be consulted on large scale capital expenditures that they will ultimately have to pay for.  For example, no independent justification has been produced to prioritise investment in the national electricity grid.

In a situation where demand for electricity will not meet originally made forecasts, and where cost of production will severely hamper the prospect of power exports, there must be absolute clarification on the need for the proposed expenditure of €3.2bn on electricity grid enhancement.”

The MEP continued: ”It is the consumer who will have to provide this funding and the least the public deserves before further  erosion of their incomes is a full cost benefit analysis to justify the proposed €3.2bn expenditure.  The time is past when the public have to accept the word of ‘experts’ on what is necessary investment in infrastructure.

The multibillion overrun in expenditure on the inter urban motorway project is an example of spending control by ‘experts’.  This must not be allowed to happen with the Grid 25 proposal and other projects that involve further cost impositions on the public.

“There may be a good case made for Grid 25 but having regard to the fact that it was devised with substantially different circumstances and prospects involved there is a need to review the project to establish its current relevance on a cost benefit basis. Accordingly I have written to Minister Pat Rabbitte proposing the initiation of an immediate study to ensure that already hard pressed citizens do not have a further €3.2bn burden imposed on them without full justification on a cost benefit basis,” Harkin MEP concluded.

Meanwhile the deadline for third phase of public consultation on the EirGrid Link Project is next Tuesday, 7 January at 5pm. Its project would see the construction of hundreds of kilometres of overhead power lines suspended by pylons throughout the south-east and the Midlands.

The current period of consultation has been under way since 3 September, when EirGrid published a report identifying possible corridor options for the pylons. Previously, the deadline for feedback and submissions was  26 November, but that has been extended.

Members of the public are encouraged to make submissions to the project team in the following ways:

By visiting the Grid Link Project information centres, view the route corridor maps and provide feedback to the project team; and/or

The truth about human egg donation


We have donated eggs to many including gay men, through an agency, in exchange for money. At one point, we were in the Washington Post about it. As a result of going public, we’ve gotten a good number of questions about it, and more requests than we can count from young women writing for their school newspapers.

The basics: The way egg donation is run, the parents who received my eggs have seen photos (and even a video interview) of me, whereas all we ever learned about them was first name and state of residence.

At one point we were told that one of our donations had been successful.

Intended parents who receive the eggs can basically use them at will, so it’s possible that someone used my eggs to have twins and then kept some more embryos in the freezer for later (embryos freeze a lot better than unfertilized eggs). So our egg donations have produced at least one child, and possibly quite a few more.

In 2007, we were on a panel about egg donation, along with doctors and psychologists. A psychologist remarked that egg donors are so giving and would never do something like that for the money.

Of course there are no such expectations of sperm donors.

We retorted by saying that financially struggling young women donate eggs out of the goodness of their hearts is like saying that poor men work in coal mines because they are so concerned that the rich have enough electricity.

Obviously, we were making some sarcastic comments, but egg donation and coal mining do have a few things in common in that they involve some physical danger, and they’re both forms of income generation that are not even considered by people who are born wealthy. When my grandmother died of ovarian cancer, it did not escape us that holy shit, I hyperstimulated my ovaries with hormones on purpose.

Egg donation is dangerous, folks. Or at least, it very well could be, and there isn’t a lot of financial motivation on anyone’s part to find out.

Of course, some egg donors, and some sperm donors, are indeed motivated primarily by altruism. In fact, the panel on which I was sarcastic (that actually could refer to a lot of events in our lives) also featured another egg donor who had donated three times, at least one of which she had not been paid for, because she was a really nice and earnest person who loved babies and wanted others to love them too.

But when agencies advertise for egg donors, the ads never say, “Do you have a big heart?” They usually have a picture of a blonde model and say something about making some €10,000 or so.

Two sisters in their 20s die in house fire in Donegal


Jodie Brogan (left) and her sister Anngeline died following a house fire at Ceanann View

Man sleeping in back of house escapes unhurt from blaze in Letterkenny area

The scene outside the house at Cannon View at Mountain Top, Letterkenny today where a fire claimed the lives of two sisters.

Two sisters have died in a house fire in Co Donegal.

The two sisters, named locally as Jody (24) and Anngeline Brogan (28), died in the blaze in Letterkenny this morning.

The alarm was raised after the fire broke out at the house at Cannon View at Mountain Top at about 11am.

Emergency services rushed to the scene and found the two young women in one of the bedrooms.

One of them was understood to have died at the scene while the other was rushed to nearby Letterkenny General Hospital, but died a short time later.

A man who was sleeping at the back of the house escaped unhurt.

Gardaí sealed off the house as fire crews and Garda forensic officers carried out a full investigation.

Former Fianna Fáil minister Dr James McDaid, the local GP, was called to the scene after he got an emergency call to his offices at Scally Practise.

He said was shocked by the incident.

“It was just a horrific scene. That’s all I can say about it. My thoughts are with the family,” he said.

Local priest Fr Brian Quinn of the Church of the Irish Martyrs also attended the scene.

Other relatives of the women also gathered at the house as the news emerged.

The young women’s uncle, Frank Brogan, said: “I just can’t say anything at the moment. It’s just awful.”

Mayor of Letterkenny Cllr Pascal Blake said he was devastated at what happened. “It is just terrible news and my thoughts and prayers are with the family.

“It is just such a tragic start to the New Year and no family ever wants to hear this news. These two young women had their full lives to lives and for them to be cut down like this is just awful,” he said.

First asteroid of 2014 discovered by NASA


Early January 1, 2014, the Catalina Sky Survey collected a single track of observations with an immediate follow-up on what was possibly a small asteroid on a potential impact trajectory with Earth.

This shows Asteroid 2014 AA, discovered by the NASA-sponsored Catalina Sky Survey on January 1, 2014, as it moved across the sky.

Early Wednesday morning, January 1, 2014, while New Year’s 2014 celebrations were still underway in the United States, the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona, collected a single track of observations with an immediate follow-up on what was possibly a small asteroid — 7 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) in size — on a potential impact trajectory with Earth.

Designated 2014 AA, which would make it the first asteroid discovery of 2014, the track of observations on the object allowed only an uncertain orbit to be calculated. However, if this was a small asteroid on an Earth-impacting trajectory, it most likely entered Earth’s atmosphere sometime between 2 p.m. EST Wednesday and 9 a.m. EST Thursday.

Using the only available observations, three independent projections of the possible orbit by the independent orbit analyst Bill Gray of the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Steve Chesley of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are in agreement that 2014 AA would hit Earth’s atmosphere. According to Chesley, the potential impact locations are widely distributed because of the orbit uncertainty, falling along an arc extending from Central America to East Africa. The most likely impact location of the object was just off the coast of West Africa at about 9 p.m. EST January 1.

It is unlikely asteroid 2014 AA would have survived atmospheric entry intact, as it was comparable in size to asteroid 2008 TC3, which was about 7 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) in size. 2008 TC3 completely broke up over northern Sudan in October 2008. Asteroid 2008 TC3 is the only other example of an object discovered just prior to hitting Earth. So far, there have been a few weak signals collected from infrasound stations in that region of the world that are being analyzed to see if they could be correlated to the atmospheric entry of 2014 AA.


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