News Ireland daily BLOG Saturday

Saturday 12th April 2014

Jobs plan forces people into poverty pay rates,

say rally protesters in dublin


Activists rally in central Dublin against JobBridge and Gateway work schemes

“The Government has used the ‘Youth Guarantee’ as a Trojan horse to make JobBridge compulsory, with the scandalous threat to cut the dole of those who refuse to go on JobBridge,” said Paul Murphy MEP (Socialist Party), founder of the ScamBridge campaign.

An estimated 100 people have taken part in a demonstration rally against the perceived increasing reliance by the Government on the JobBridge and Gateway schemes.

A number of organisations, including the youth wings of the Communications Workers Union (CWU) and Mandate, the Union of Students Ireland (USI) and the ScamBridge website, organised the march from the Central Bank to the social welfare office on Pearse Street.

In particular, it was focusing on the Implementation Plan for the Youth Guarantee through which protesters say the Government is intent on “slashing social welfare payments” for those who do not take up positions on such schemes.

The plan was launched last January by Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton with the aim of providing young people under the age of 25 with “a good quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within a short time of becoming unemployed”.

However, today’s protest group said this would only seek to put a further emphasis on work schemes that offer placements in exchange for continued social welfare payments. The guarantee is to be implemented over the course of the next two years.

Critics say the plan will simply force people into working for rates “56 per cent below the risk of poverty rate in Ireland – or €3.75 per hour”.

“The Government has used the ‘Youth Guarantee’ as a Trojan horse to make JobBridge compulsory, with the scandalous threat to cut the dole of those who refuse to go on JobBridge,” said Paul Murphy MEP (Socialist Party), founder of the ScamBridge campaign.

“They have done the same with the Gateway scheme. Their guarantee if you are unemployed is a choice of poverty, emigration or forced labour. These schemes are at the heart of a process of the normalisation of working for free and undermining of wages and conditions for all,” he said.

Helping to celebrate the visit of Ireland’s president Michael D. Higgins

at Windsor Castle was enjoyable says terry wogan


  Former IRA commander Martin McGuinness at Windsor Castle during the visit of Ireland’s president, Michael D Higgins.

On all sides, famous faces swam in and out of view, vice-admirals and right honourables, princes and dukes abounded

It was the longest dining table at which I’ve ever sat, in the company of the most distinguished 160 people in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Nobody, among the great and the good gathered at Her Majesty’s invitation, was churlish enough to inquire what a hobbledehoy like myself was doing there as the present Lady Wogan and I were greeted at the door of Windsor Castle, and ushered up the stairs to a huge reception room, by a succession of bemedalled and frock-coated gentlemen.

A reviving brew was pressed upon us, and the room ceased to revolve. Hardly had the beverage passed my lips before we were joined by Sir John and Lady Major, and then, in quick succession, David and Sam Cam and Nick Clegg, with no sign of a Nigel Farage to come between them. We looked keenly at the historic photographs of Queen Victoria’s 19th-century visits to Ireland, four in all, and one of them all the way to Killarney.

On all sides, famous faces swam in and out of view, vice-admirals and right honourables, princes and dukes abounded. They tell me that Irish rugby legend Brian O’Driscoll was there, and Oscar winners Dame Judi Dench and Daniel Day-Lewis, but the overawed eye can only take in so much.

Then, to the great table and “Le Menu”, all in French. Although there was no sign of the French ambassador. Sadly, the fish was not locally caught but a Highland halibut; on the next course, however, local feelings were assuaged by Windsor beef. And, contrary to Mary Berry’s edict, there was no cheese, either before or after the pudding.

Pursuant to the recent studies on how we can all live forever, there was a surfeit of vegetables: broccoli, mushrooms, watercress, onions and potatoes. Fresh fruit completed the banquet, bringing a glow of health to everyone’s cheeks. Or it may have been the wine.

I’m not sure if I was “below the salt”, but I’d have hung from the rafters of Windsor Castle’s magnificent dining room just to be part of last Tuesday’s celebration of the visit of Ireland’s president. Her Majesty the Queen’s speech matched the marvellous one she gave in Dublin two years ago, and the Irish president, Michael D Higgins, spoke with his customary lyrical grace.

It was a good job they spoke before dinner because after the pipers had blasted their way around the table, not once but twice, it wasn’t until the happy group met and mingled over coffee in another galleried room that hearing was restored.

It was a pleasure to meet the Princess Royal and the Duchess of Cornwall again, two ladies who bring a sparkle to any company, but the inimitable Duke of Edinburgh had a word for me on the receiving line: “Ah! A refugee! Welcome!” Yes, the spirit of reconciliation was all around.

Drivers in Ireland caught on mobiles are to face €1,000 fines


Mandatory court summons and fines under new road safety regulations.

Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar says new rules to come into effect next month.

  Drivers caught texting and using mobiles or smartphones, even if they are on a hands-free kit, will be given a mandatory court summons and a fine instead of just penalty points under new road safety regulations.

The new rules, which come into effect from May 1st, mean anyone caught texting or “accessing information” on their phones will face a mandatory court appearance and a fine of up to €1,000 for a first offence.

This will rise to a maximum of €2,000 for a second offence, and a possible three-month jail sentence, along with a €2,000 fine, for three offences or more within a 12-month period.

A spokesman for Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar said texting while driving is considered a serious enough offence to warrant a mandatory court appearance, which would rank it alongside drink- and drug-driving.

Penalty points

There will be no on-the-spot fines or immediate penalty points for anyone caught texting, as there are for some offences on a lesser scale, even though a judge can subsequently apply points as well as fines.

However, penalty points could be applied on the scene by a garda for the parallel offence of using a mobile phone.

Three penalty points are currently added to a driving licence, as well as an on-the-spot fine of as much as €90 for someone caught using a phone.

Department of Transport sources said penalty points are seen as a lesser offence to mandatory court appearances, and it was felt a summons, coupled with a “severe financial penalty” would be a more effective deterrent.

Texting while driving has not been made a specific penalty points offence for that reason.

“There will be no option to take the points,” a department spokesman said. “There is no grace period, you go straight to court.” Mr Varadkar yesterday signed a new amendment to existing legislation into law, which brings the new measures into effect next month.

Close loophole

While it was already illegal to text while driving, the changes will close off a loophole which could allow people to escape fines and penalties if they were operating a phone resting in a cradle or via a hands-free kit.

Conor Faughnan of AA Roadwatch said the move would not be the “last word” in this area since drivers could continually “fiddle on smart devices of all sorts”.

Mayo Clinic now partners with Ireland to fund medical research programme


An Arizona doctor is working on rolling out a new medical device with the help of a partnership between the Mayo Clinic and Ireland’s enterprise development arm.

Dr. Vijay Singh is a gastroenterologist with the Mayo Clinic and the inventor of a new medical device aimed at treating acute pancreatitis.

He said the device helps cool the stomach, which is located next to the pancreas, and can help reduce inflammation.

Now with the help of Enterprise Ireland, Singh said the project is moving into the next phase of testing.

“To move a thing from the bench to the bedside (in the United States) can be a fairly challenging task,” he said. “Just because of the logistics and resources, (it) cannot reach the bedside.”

He said the partnership could be a road map for future testing of medical products because it is providing an alternative source of funding while it difficult to obtain research funding in the U.S.

“The benefit as I see is there is a hope of taking similar technologies from the bench to the bedside, make it more relevant to our patients, help them more,” he said.

“I can generate an idea, the concept, show in proof or principle that this makes sense, show it’s feasibility … but that where my resources and my skill stops.”

Enterprise Ireland has agreed to give $16 million to the partnership and further development of Singh’s device is already underway at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

Teenage binge drinking linked to alcohol references in pop music


Teen binge drinking linked to alcohol references in pop music. 

A new research has found that there is a link between binge drinking in teens and liking, owning or correctly recognizing the brand names of alcohol mentioned in different pop songs.

The study is done by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania and the Norris Cotton Cancer Center in New Hampshire and its findings have been published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

The researchers claim that the leading cause of mortality in adolescents and young adults is alcohol. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive alcohol use has immediate effects, including injuries, violence, risky sexual behaviors and alcohol poisoning, which can cause loss of consciousness, low blood pressure and body temperature, coma or even death.

Lead author Dr. Brian A. Primack, associate professor of medicine and pediatrics and director of the Program for Research on Media and Health in Pitt’s School of Medicine, says: “Every year, the average adolescent is exposed to about 3,000 references to alcohol brands while listening to music.

It is important that we understand the impact of these references in an age group that can be negatively affected by alcohol consumption.”

Dr. Primack and his colleagues surveyed over 2,500 young people aged 15-23 years to find out how pop music references to alcohol might impact adolescents. During the study, they found that 59% participants reported having had a “complete alcoholic drink” – which was defined as either12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of hard alcohol.

During the survey, participants were given titles of pop songs that include alcohol mentions and were then asked whether they liked or owned the song. The researchers also asked the participants if they could remember what brand of alcohol appeared in the lyrics.

“Brand references may serve as advertising,” says Dr. Sargent, senior author of the study, “even if they are not paid for by the industry. This is why it is useful to examine the influence of brand mentions.”

Government Reps approve text of UN climate report


Compiled by more than 200 scientists over four years, the report is the third piece in an overview by the UN IPCC

While making no recommendations, the report is expected to say the UN target—to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius—is feasible if surging emissions are swiftly braked and then reversed.

   Government representatives on Saturday approved a UN report listing options for rolling back emissions from greenhouse gases, NGOs following the proceedings said.

In a six-day wrangle, they hammered out the summary of a vast report on choices to tackle the source of climate change, people close to the development said.

Compiled by more than 200 scientists over four years, the report is the third piece in an overview by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

It is only the fifth such “assessment report” in the Nobel-winning panel’s history.

The Summary for Policymakers, due to be unveiled in Berlin on Sunday, will provide a palette of options to mitigate heat-trapping emissions from fossil fuels and agriculture.

While making no recommendations, it is expected to say the UN target—to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit)—is feasible if surging emissions are swiftly braked and then reversed.

Most scenarios for meeting the 2 degrees Celsius target entail a “tripling to nearly a quadrupling” in the share of energy from renewable energy, nuclear and also fossil sources whose emissions are captured and stored, according to a draft seen by AFP.

The IPCC last September published its first volume in the series, updating scientific evidence of global warming.

It forecast global temperatures will rise 0.3-4.8 degrees Celsius this century, on top of roughly 0.7 degrees Celsius since the Industrial Revolution. Seas are forecast to rise by 26-82 centimetres by 2100.

The second volume, issued on 31 March in Yokohama, Japan, dwelt on the likely impacts. It warned that the risk of conflict, hunger, floods and mass displacement increased with every upward creep of the mercury.

The panel will issue a resume of all three reports in Copenhagen in October.

The IPCC’s assessment reports are closely-watched events in the political and scientific fields of climate change.

Although some experts deride the mega-reports as too conservative, others say they wield political clout as their summaries are approved by governments in a line-by-line scrutiny.

The last assessment report, in 2007, sparked momentum that climaxed in the UN’s Copenhagen Summit in 2009.

That event became a political brawl, and climate negotiations have been at a far lower gear ever since. The next deadline is at the end of 2015, when UN members vow to complete a climate pact that will take effect from 2020. AFP


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