News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Friday/Saturday 25th & 26th July 2014

I told Enda Kenny that Ireland has no chance of a bank debt deal


An alley of German chancellor Angela Merkel has said he told Taoiseach Enda Kenny that Ireland cannot use the new eurozone bailout fund to retrospectively recapitalise its banks.

Dr Joachim Pfeiffer, economic policy spokesperson for Merkel’s party the Christian Democrats, has said that the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) can only be used for future banking debt issues and not legacy ones.

He told today that he communicated this to Enda Kenny in a meeting yesterday but said the Taoiseach did not share his view.

“He said the instrument was put in situ – that it can be used. But from my point of view it’s an instrument for the future,” Pfeiffer said of Kenny’s response.

For over two years the Irish government has been pushing for the use of the ESM to retrospectively recapitalise its pillar banks, AIB and Bank of Ireland, which received some €25 billion in State funding at the height of the financial crisis.

The government and Finance Minister Michael Noonan have repeatedly maintained that they will seek relief on legacy bank debt when the ESM is fully established later this year but these latest comments will do little to bolster the government’s case.

Pfeiffer has been in Dublin this week attending events and meetings with the German-Irish Chamber of Industry and Commerce. He has repeatedly said in interviews that Ireland has no chance of using the ESM for legacy debt.

“The ESM is an emergency instrument for the handling of the future problems that hopefully we are going to prevent,” he said this morning, adding “definitely not” when asked if it could be used for legacy debt.

He said that every country has to deal with its own debt burden, saying it is not the responsibility of other eurozone nations to provide relief.

He said: “Every country has to carry it’s own burden. We [Germany] took about €500 billion in our account with guarantees and we are not asking [for] Ireland to repay our problems.”

Pfeiffer repeatedly said that the ESM is “an instrument for the future and not for legacy”.

He added that his view was shared unanimously by other German parliamentarians and that he believes Chancellor Merkel also shares his view.

Miriam O’Callaghan gets behind epic children’s charity push


RTE’s  broadcaster Miriam O’Callaghan has put her shoulder to the wheel to help push the Bumbleance all the way from Dingle to Dublin.

Adventurer Mike O’Shea has trekked across Polar icecaps and some of the world’s most unforgiving terrain, but this will be his toughest challenge yet.

The Kerryman will be joined by Tony Heffernan, who founded the national children’s ambulance service, along with his wife Mary of the Saoirse Foundation and a team of volunteers to help them complete the 355km challenge.

The Bumbleance Mega Push, which aims to raise €250,000 and put two more child-friendly interactive ambulances on the road, was launched by charity patron Miriam.

The group will set off from Dingle, Co Kerry, on September 10 and hope reach St Stephen’s Green 10 days later. They will push the ambulance over the Conor Pass before going through towns and villages including Castleisland, Adare and Kill before reaching Dublin.


Mike got behind the charity when he heard about the Bumbleance’s ‘Angel Trips’ – the last journey a terminally-ill child will take to or from hospital.

“This was the project for me. All funds raised will go towards the purchase of a new ambulance, and two if we can make it happen,” he said.

Mary and Tony’s son Liam (5) made his own trip aboard the Bumbleance shortly before he died in May from the extremely rare and fatal Batten’s Disease which also claimed the life of his older sister Saoirse (5).

“The positive effect that Bumbleance has had on the sickest of Irish children has been overwhelming, so much so that it is now a priority to get two more Bumbleances,” Tony said.

Members of the public can get behind Bumbleance by texting BUZZ to 50300 to donate €4. Volunteers are welcome to join the team along the route and can get involved by calling 083 0044444.

Cancer map of Ireland reveals wide variance in both incidence and mortality rate


A map developed as part of the Irish Examiner’s county by county report on the state of Ireland’s health has revealed wide variations in both the incidence and mortality rates for all the main cancer types.

Based on statistics from the National Cancer registry the map reveals Waterford as the county with the highest death rate from breast cancer in the country.

Cork has the highest incidence rates of non-melanoma skin cancer, while Tipperary has the highest death rate from non-melanoma skin cancer.

The map also shows how Kerry has the second highest incidence of breast cancer, while Carlow has the highest number of lung cancer deaths.

An Post plans 80,000 digital era letter boxes


The postal service has started on plans for the manufacture of up to 80,000 new delivery boxes

IT IS a persistent problem for the online shopper – ordering a package but not being home when the postman calls.

But semi-state An Post believes it has found the solution.

The postal service has started on plans for the manufacture of up to 80,000 new delivery boxes.

The company has begun searching for a manufacturer to enter a three-year contract to manufacture new specialised boxes that will be placed at people’s homes.

According to tender documents seen by the Herald, the agreement will consist of an initial supply of 10,000 boxes.


However, it said that the figure for requirements may be extended by 70,000 additional boxes in tranches of 10,000 units.

An Post said that the plan was a response to a steady growth in customers’ online and catalogue shopping preferences and in anticipation of future growth.

Parcel delivery volume increased at the company by 22pc last year.

A trial scheme for prototype boxes in areas including Dublin was “very positive”, according to An Post.

A spokeswoman said the new boxes should be available to households by the first quarter of next year.

“It will be available to anyone who wants one,” she said.

The pricing structure for the boxes has yet to be determined, but the company has promised to keep the prices “as low as possible”.

An Post has also specified that the boxes should be self-

“We are now looking for expressions of interest from suppliers interested in working with us to perfect the design and produce top quality die-cast metal, secure delivery boxes,” the spokeswoman said.

According to the tender, the boxes will allow for delivery of a range of different-sized mail items directly to a point that sits outside, but in close proximity to, a person’s home.

Specifications have also been laid out for the size of the boxes.

The internal dimensions should allow for the storage of a package 37cm long, 25cm high and 16.5cm wide.

The winning design should also be able to withstand temperatures of between -5C and 35C and be secure against water.


The boxes will be designed in such a way that only the owner and An Post will be able to gain access.

It has been estimated that the value of Ireland’s internet economy will grow from its current level of €8.4bn a year to €21.1bn by 2020, with consumer spending making up 60pc of this figure.

More than half of online spending by Irish consumers, goes to sites abroad.

Gulls eating rabbit is just ‘normal’, says Birdwatch


Concerns raised about impact of filming Star Wars during breeding season on the world heritage site

A young rabbit defends itself against a herring gull on Skellig Michael, Co Kerry.

As Skellig Michael braces itself for an encounter with Star Wars film crews, life and death continues on the Unescoworld heritage site off the Kerry coast. Birdwatch Irelandhas said that a baby rabbit’s terrifying encounter with a herring gull, as captured by photographer Michael Kelly, is “ a natural enough” event.

Birdwatch Ireland’s senior conservation officer for seabirds, Stephen Newton, said the rabbit population on Dublin’s Dalkey Island was controlled by predatory gulls, and the same could be said for any coastal location. Black-backed gulls were particularly voracious, and he had witnessed one such gull swallowing a mallard duck whole.

Ornithologists say there is no such species as a “seagull”, but gulls have been in the public consciousness sinceFianna Fáil Senator Ned O’Sullivan told the Seanad in mid-July that the birds were attacking children and taking lollipops.

“Rogue gulls tend to be after food, not people,” Mr Newton said.

Skellig Michael’s extensive bird population, including puffins, Manx shearwaters, guillemots and petrels, is in the middle of a breeding season, and there is serious concern among ornithologists about the impact of the proposed filming on the island’s wildlife.


It is understood that an environmental impact assessment to support approval by the National Parks and Wildlife Service was only sought several weeks ago. Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys has responsibility for both the NPWS and the Irish Film Board – a potential conflict of interest, according to environmental sources.

Irish Film Board chief executive James Hickey said “all requisite consents including the NPWS approval are in place with the production company for a limited amount of film-related work on the island”.

The board said the filming programme “has been designed specifically to avoid disturbance of breeding birds” and the NPWS “has approved the proposal on that basis”.

Only 8.2% of Human DNA Is ‘Functional & useful’ The Rest Is Just useless and pure Junk’


About 90 percent of human DNA could just be “junk.”

Only about 8.2 percent of human DNA is believed to have an important role.

Past studies have suggested 80 percent of human DNA has a biochemical function, but this new research disputes that idea, University of Oxford reported. The study, published recently in Plos Genetics, suggests past definitions of “functional” have been too broad.

“This isn’t just an academic argument about the nebulous word ‘function’. These definitions matter. When sequencing the genomes of patients, if our DNA was largely functional, we’d need to pay attention to every mutation. In contrast, with only [eight percent] being functional, we have to work out the [eight percent] of the mutations detected that might be important. From a medical point of view, this is essential to interpreting the role of human genetic variation in disease,” said joint senior author Professor Chris Ponting of the MRC Functional Genomics Unit at Oxford University.

To make their findings the researchers looked at how much of the human genome has avoided accumulating changes over the past 100 million years; this indicates the DNA has an important function that must be preserved. The rest of the DNA that has undergone numerous losses or gains is considered to be leftover evolutionary material, or “junk DNA.  The team took a computational approach to comparing completed DNA sequences in humans as well as other mammals such as guinea pigs and horses.

“We tend to have the expectation that all of our DNA must be doing something. In reality, only a small part of it is,” said Doctor Chris Rands, first author of the study and a former DPhil student in the MRC Functional Genomics Unit at Oxford University.

Only about one percent of human DNA is believed to account for the proteins that carry out most biological processes; the other seven percent is responsible for switching on and off genes that encode proteins.

“There appears to be a lot of redundancy in how our biological processes are controlled and kept in check. It’s like having lots of different switches in a room to turn the lights on. Perhaps you could do without some switches on one wall or another, but it’s still the same electrical circuit,” Ponting said.

Is this Britain’s biggest ever jellyfish? Watch giant sea beast stun divers off Cornish coast


Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water and then this GIANT jellyfish appears off the coast of Cornwall .

The enormous barrel jellyfish is thought to be one of the biggest of its kind ever recorded in British waters.

Diver Robert Lenfert, 42, was dwarfed by the magnificent creature as he and wife Natasha, 39, swam beside it off Pendennis Point in Falmouth.

The rhizostoma pulmo, also known as a dustbin-lid jellyfish, can measure up to four feet from tip to tail and up to three feet in diameter.

But despite its imposing presence, it has only a mild sting, which is sometimes compared to a nettle sting.

Whopper: Diver Robert Lenfern with the gigantic jellyfish

Experts say record numbers of barrel jellyfish are swimming in our seas this summer, particularly off the coasts of Cornwall, Devon and south Wales.

The boom has been put down to the mild winter, which allowed more adults to survive and resurface in spring.

Other commonly-sighted species include the compass, lion’s mane and blue jellyfish.


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