News Ireland daily BLOG by DONIE

Wednesday 8th January 2014

Irelands unemployment rate still falling


The unemployment rate has continued to fall slightly, reaching 12.4%, official figures have revealed.

The number of people signing on the live register for benefits fell by 28,322 over the course of last year with the total number of people on the dole at 395,411.

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said he was encouraged by the latest unemployment figures, which he said showed declines over the last 16 months.

He said no one in their late teens or 20s should be “idle” and insisted it is up to the Government to deliver education and training opportunities for those out of work.

“The key thing we want to be able to offer every young person that is unemployed is a job, and if not we want to be able to offer them education or training,” Mr Varadkar said.

“Really nobody, particularly nobody in their late teens and 20s, should be idle and it’s the role of Government to make sure there are jobs to go to. And if not, there are education or training opportunities.”

The report from the Central Statistics Office also showed that the number of people signing on for a year or more was down 4% over the course of last year to 179,621.

The number of men on the register in December was 245,721 compared to 149,690 women.

It also showed under 25s on the dole now make up almost 15% of the total signing on and the figure has fallen by less than 1% over the course of the year.

The unemployment rate of 12.4% is the lowest since June 2009.

Business leaders welcomed the cut in unemployment but demanded the Government introduce concrete long-term measures to tackle joblessness.

Isme, which represents small and medium-sized firms, pointed out l ong-term claimants still account for a “stubborn” 45% of all those on the dole.

“Government must make reducing the high level of long-term unemployment its full year’s resolution,” said Mark Fielding, Isme chief executive.

“A key obstacle preventing people from returning to work and hindering the creation of employment by SMEs is the social welfare trap.

“Anomalies in the welfare system must be addressed immediately to create a business environment where it is always economically advantageous for people to work.”

High rents, wages and business costs along with increased black market activity and crime against traders were also hindering smaller businesses from growing and taking on more staff, claimed Mr Fielding.

Davy Stockbrokers said 2013 will be seen as a turning point in the unemployment crisis with job creation at its fastest since 2007.

Avine McNally, a cting director of the Small Firms Association, said emigration was influencing the number of young people on the dole and active labour policies are only part of the solution.

“A strong commitment and focus on education, growth and recovery is vital to ensure young people have future careers in Ireland,” she said.

Siptu economist Marie Sherlock said it is unclear how much the fall in the register is due to new jobs, training or emigration.

“Today’s figures also indicate the continuance of a worrying trend. Throughout 2012 and 2013, we have seen that men have been leaving the Live Register in considerably greater numbers than women,” she said.

“While the general decrease in Live Register numbers is a positive, focus must remain on ensuring the quality of training and employment which is being taken up is of a decent standard.

“A major step in this direction would be the introduction of an expanded and improved national apprenticeship scheme.”

Numbers of sick patients on Irish hospital trolleys Doubles in four days


The HSE has claimed the spike is a seasonal increase but a nurses union have said it’s unacceptable

The number of sick patients abandoned on trolleys in hospitals has doubled in just four days.

Shock new figures released by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Association show there were 467 patients left lying in emergency departments and wards last night.

The INMO said that of the 467 patients affected, 374 are on trolleys in emergency departments, while 93 are waiting in wards.

On the same day last year, there were 345 patients on trolleys in emergency departments.

The worst affected hospitals are Beaumont in Dublin, which has 49 patients waiting on trolleys, University Hospital Galway has 37 patients waiting and Midland Regional Tullamore, Co Offaly, with 33 patients.

Spokesman for the HSE, Ian Carter, blamed the spike on the seasonal increase in patient numbers.

He said: “We do tend to see a surge of patients, particularly after the Christmas period.

“A lot of those patients are elderly – meaning we have a lot of people entering the emergency department and a lot of patients being admitted to hospital.”

But head of the INMO, Liam Doran, slammed the health system and claimed the Government needs to take action immediately.

He said: “The suggestion that the overcrowding situation has improved isn’t borne out by the facts that when you combine the trolley [numbers] and ward watch, the figure is up by 2%.

“That’s a direct result of too few beds and too many patients.

“The health system is too small and the sooner the Government realises that the better and ends this overcrowding once and for all.”

Mr Doran also said that more funding was needed to open closed beds and to fund “step-down” beds and home care packages.

His views were echoed by Fianna Fail health spokesman, Billy Kelleher who called for investment in our crippled health system.

Mr Kelleher added: “The figures from INMO which show a year-on-year increase in the number of people on trolleys of 2% underscores how much strain there is on the health service and frontline staff across the country.

“I am particularly concerned about the increase in the number of frail elderly patients needing admission and being forced to wait on trolleys.

“Minister Reilly has utterly failed to provide the necessary resources to manage the seasonal increase this year and more severe cuts are being implement across the health service this year.

“The planned €620 million in cuts this year will further exacerbate the problems for patients, particularly as the health service is starting the year with a major budget overrun from last year.

“There is a need to increase investment in community beds to free up more beds in the hospital system as well as opening closed beds.”

New Irish car sales slow down by 6.4% in 2013  

CSO figures show


71,348 new private cars were licensed in the year to the end of December

New figures from the Central Statistics Office show that the number of new private cars licensed for the first time decreased by 17.4% to 639 in December compared to the same month the previous year.

The CSO figures show that in total, 71,348 new private cars were licensed in the year to the end of December, down 6.4% on the previous year.

Of the 71,348 new cars sold last year, 72.6% were diesel and 26.6% were petrol.

Today’s figures show that the most popular make of car last year was Volkswagen, with a total of 9,098 models sold. Toyota sold 7,180 cars, followed by Ford (7,032) and Hyundai (5,548).

The CSO also said that the number of used (imported) cars licensed for the first time in December rose by 13.9% to 271. But for the year, the number of used cars fell by 6.4% to 3,181.

The number of new goods vehicles licensed during the year rose by 1.6% to 11,024.

In total, the number of vehicles licensed last year was 164,043, up 13.1% on the 145,043 licensed in 2012.

Geo-engineering plan could have unintended side effects


Injecting aerosols into the stratosphere mimics the cooling effects of volcanoes

Attempts to reverse the impacts of global warming by injecting reflective particles into the stratosphere could make matters worse, say researchers.

A new study suggests the idea, seen as a last-ditch way to deal with runaway climate change, could cut rainfall in the tropics by 30%.

This would have devastating impacts on rainforests in South America and Asia

The concept of curbing rising temperatures by blocking sunlight has been discussed by scientists for many years now.

Some of the ideas have been dismissed as crazy notions, but others have been taken more seriously.

One of the most credible plans involves using reflective particles called aerosols to reflect solar radiation away from the Earth.

This happens naturally when volcanoes erupt, sending plumes of ash into the stratosphere, as with Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991.

Now a team at the University of Reading have modelled the impacts of a large-scale injection of sulphur dioxide particles at high altitudes around the equator.

“We have shown that one of the leading candidates for geoengineering could cause a new unintended side-effect over a large part of the planet,” said Dr Andrew Charlton-Perez, one of the co-authors of the paper.

The scientists found that as well as absorbing some of heat coming in from the Sun, the particles also absorb some of the heat energy that comes from the surface of the planet.

“The heating acts to stabilise the part of the atmosphere we live in, by making it more stable it reduces the upwelling of air,” said Dr Charlton-Perez.

“In the tropics much of the rainfall comes from air moving up rapidly, so this acts to reduce surface precipitation.”

Rainfall around the tropics could be cut by 30% with significant impacts on rainforests in South America and Asia and increasing drought in Africa.

The changes would happen so quickly there would be little time to adapt, say the researchers.

New mechanism

The scientists involved in the study believe that this is a new impact that others have missed until now.

“We modelled sulphate aerosols which is sort of an analogue for when you have a large volcanic eruption – but instead of putting aerosols into your model you can also just reduce the amount of solar radiation coming into your system,” said Dr Charlton-Perez.

“When you do that you don’t get these heating effects and you don’t get this slowdown and that’s important because some studies have done that but we think they are missing this mechanism.”

However some researchers have questioned the experiment and the findings.

“I know of no serious scientist who would advocate introducing 100 megatonnes of sulphur dioxide in a four degree warmer world,” said Dr Matt Watson, from the University of Bristol, who was previously involved in a British project to test this concept.

“To state that solar radiation management won’t work based on one extreme scenario smacks of hype rather than a serious discussion.”

Dr Charlton-Perez says that is a fair comment – but he believes his methodology and conclusions are sound.

“What we have done here is a very extreme scenario, we’ve put lots of CO2 into our model and we’ve geoengineered to counteract that.

“It is an extreme case, but by doing the extreme case we are able to isolate this effect much more clearly. We think this effect will go on, even if you geoengineer to a much lesser degree.”

Researchers around the world continue to explore different climate interventions that might be used in extreme circumstances. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in their recent report, acknowledged that every option should be considered.

But according to Prof Piers Forster, from the University of Leeds, the technologies are still in their infancy.

“At present, these injection technologies do not exist, even on paper, and this precludes an evaluation of realistic effectiveness or side effects.

“If we want to suppress global warming the only game in town at present is reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”


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