News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Wednesday 9th July 2014

The Members of Ireland’s banking inquiry advisory group now announced


Group of public and private sector banking specialists will assist our Oireachtas Committe.

The Advisory Group will assist the Oireachtas committee in its proposal for the banking inquiry.

UCD economist Colm McCarthy, comptroller and auditor general Seamus McCarthy, and US economist Megan Greene are three of the nine members of the ad-hoc advisory group announced today to assist in the impending banking inquiry.

The group, which will work on a pro-bono basis, will assist the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry committee in preparing a detailed proposal for the banking inquiry for submission to the CPPs of both Houses by September 17th 2014.

The other members of the group are: Pat Casey, principal officer (Department of Finance);Paul Gorecki, adjunct professor of economics, Trinity College Dublin (Research Affiliate ESRI); Cathal Guiomard, economist, former Aviation Commissioner for Ireland; Conor McCabe, research fellow, UCD School of Social Justice; Rafique Mottiar, consultant economist (Central Bank); and John Shaw, assistant secretary (Department of the Taoiseach).

Committee chairman Ciarán Lynch said that the group had its first meeting yesterday when members were briefed on the work of the committee and the legal and procedural framework for the inquiry. There was also a preliminary discussion on the potential scope of the inquiry.

The group will meet again on Friday July 11th, Friday July 18th and Tuesday July 22nd and an interim report will be given to the committee at its meeting on Wednesday July 23rd.

The Committee also examined potential costs and administrative and logistical issues in relation to the inquiry.

Deputy Lynch said: “A key issue for members is that expenditure related to the inquiry should be kept to a minimum and that the operation of the inquiry should at all times be cost effective, efficient and reasonable and the Committee will keep estimates of costs under continued review.”

Too few people testing  for radon in Irish homes


Some 181 homes with high levels of the cancer-causing gas, radon, have been detected in Ireland in the past eight months, including four homes which had levels that were 10-22 times over the acceptable limit, the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) has said.

Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas present in all rocks and soils, is classified as a class A carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. When it surfaces in the open air, it is quickly diluted to harmless concentrations. However, when it enters an enclosed space, such as a house, it can sometimes build up to high concentrations, leading to an ‘unacceptable health risk’.

After smoking, long-term exposure to radon gas in the home is the greatest single cause of lung cancer in Ireland. The gas is linked to around 250 cancer deaths here every year.

According to the RPII, four homes were found to have very high radon levels of between 10 and 22 times the acceptable limit. Two of these houses were in Galway, one in Sligo and one in Wexford.

“The families living in these homes would have received a radiation dose equivalent to up to 15 chest x-rays every day,” the RPII noted.

Altogether, almost 1,200 homeowners had their homes tested for radon over the last eight months, however Dr Ann McGarry, chief executive of the RPII, believes this figure is ‘very low’.

“Our research indicates that there are over 91,000 Irish homes with high levels of radon and, so far, only about 8,000 of these have been identified. Many families are unnecessarily being exposed to high levels of radon in their home and they just don’t know it. All people have to do is take this simple test to see if their home contains radon and if so it’s easily fixed,” she said.

  In addition to the four homes with particularly high radon levels, a further 25 homes were found to have radon levels that were up to 10 times above acceptable limits. These were located in Galway (8), Wexford (5), Kerry (4), Mayo (2), Sligo (2), Waterford (2), Tipperary (1) and Dublin (1).

Meanwhile Dr McGarry also pointed out that just one in four homeowners who did test and discover a high reading, ‘have taken action to reduce the high level of radon present’.

“That means three-quarters of homeowners are living with the knowledge that they are putting their family at risk when the problem can easily be fixed,” she said.

In order to test for radon, a detector should be placed in a bedroom and a second detector should be placed in a living room for a three-month period. These detectors are available from the RPII and a number of private companies. They are sent and returned by post for analysis. Nobody needs to come to your home.

The cost of a measurement by the RPII is around €50.

If a moderate radon level is found, improving your home’s indoor ventilation may cut this by up to half. The cost of this is low. If higher levels are found, installation of a fan assisted sump is the most common method of remediation. This can reduce radon levels by over 90%.

The sump can be installed in one day by a contractor, with little disruption to the home. The typical cost of this work is around €850, with annual running costs of around €100 depending on the size of fan installed.

An interactive map is available on the RPII website here to allow you to see if you are in a high radon area. Alternatively, more information is available on 1800 300 600.

Aer Lingus moves operations to Terminal 2 in Heathrow London


Passengers to enjoy shorter walking distances and quicker transfer times

Aer Lingus currently operates 48 flights in and out of Heathrow Airport.

Passengers travelling to London Heathrow with Aer Linguswill enjoy shorter walking distances and quicker transfer times after the airline moves to Terminal 2 today.

All 48 Aer Lingus flights per day to and from Dublin, Cork, Shannon and Belfast City airports will now operate out of the new €3 billion terminal, known as the Queen’s Terminal, which opened last month.

The “gate to kerb” time will be 50 per cent less than before, while transfers to other flights will be “seamless”, the airline said.

New flight connections will also be made possible through the same terminal with a number of partner airlines, including United Airlines and Air Canada.

Transport links will be easier too. The Heathrow Express is accessible from beside the arrivals hall, with Paddington Station a 15-minute ride away.

The new Aer Lingus check-in desk is located inside the main departures area in Zone C. The airline is the third-largest operator at Heathrow, and is one of 26 making the move to Terminal 2.

The terminal has 52 shops and 17 bars and restaurants. A new Aer Lingus lounge for business class and Gold Circle customers is 50 per cent larger than the original, with showers, meeting rooms and a quiet area.

How to manage ewes successfully post weaning time in Ireland


Appropriate ewe management post-weaning is critical to ensure a successful drying off and ensuring that the ewes will be back in optimum body condition before the next mating season.

Teagasc advises farmers to dry the ewes off by restricting intake for a week to 10 days. It says a bare field is ideal for this job. If the ewes are being housed, then pay particular attention to bedding/hygiene to avoid mastitis. Once the drying off procedure has been carried out, the ewes should be condition scored and divided into groups based on their condition scores. Every farm should have a minimum of two groups of dry ewes.

The first group, which will be the ewes that are in a body condition score of less than 3.5, should receive preferential treatment so that they put on weight.

The second group will be the fatter ewes that are in body condition score of 3.5 and over and these should be managed to maintain or even lose a small bit of weight until the flushing period in the last two to three weeks prior to mating.

Teagasc advise that ewes that do not respond to additional feed in terms of putting on additional liveweight should be culled.

Grassland management

June and July are the most challenging months in terms of keeping grass leafy and highly digestible, according to Teagasc.

It says lamb performance will be maximised where lambs are allowed to preferentially graze paddocks with a grass height of between 6cm and 8cm. Once lambs are moved out of swards, it is essential that they are grazed out fully to maintain grass quality into August/September.

Because the lambs will be moved out at around 6cm, Teagasc advise that it is necessary to get other stock to graze out the sward fully (down to 4cm). Weaned ewes are ideal to clean out these swards. If there is no stock on the farm that can do this job, then the sward will need to be mowed/ topped down to 4-5cm.

Ginger haired people face extinction due to sunshine, scientists now say


Gingers could be facing extinction as the red hair gene – thought to be a response to cloudy weather in Ireland and Scotland – is predicted to die out with climate change.

A gene mutation that yields red hair and pale skin which is more sensitive to light leaves DNA in skill cells more prone to sun damage and cancer, and if predictions of rising temperatures are correct evolution might cause it to regress.

Dr Alistair Moffat, managing director of Galashiels-based ScotlandsDNA, said: “We think red hair in Scotland, Ireland and in the North of England is adaption to the climate.

“I think the reason for light skin and red hair is that we do not get enough sun and we have to get all the Vitamin D we can.

“If the climate is changing and it is to become more cloudy or less cloudy then this will affect the gene.

“If it was to get less cloudy and there was more sun, then yes, there would be fewer people carrying the gene.

Only 1-2% of the world’s population have red hair, though in Ireland about 10% are ginger, but it is reported that a staggering 46% are carriers of the red-head variants.

In Scotland 13% of the population are ginger and 40% are thought to carry the gene.

Another scientist, who did not wish to be named due to the theoretical nature of the work, told ScotlandNow: “I think the regressive gene is slowly dying out.

“Climate change could see a decline in the number of people with red hair in Scotland.

“It would take many hundreds of years for this to happen.

“Red hair and blue eyes are not adapted to a warm climate.

“It is just a theory but the recessive gene may likely be lost. The recessive gene could be in danger.”


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