News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Friday 22nd August 2014

European Commission supports Ireland’s case for early repayment of IMF loans


Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Jyrki Katainen

A top EU official has backed Ireland’s case to repay its costly International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans early.

PIA can write off unaffordable mortgage and unsecured debt.

Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Jyrki Katainen said the plan makes sense but added the decision is for euro zone governments.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said taxpayers could save up to €375m per year if the State was able to pay-off a share of the IMF portion of the €67.5bn bailout early.

But repaying the IMF portion of the loan early would automatically trigger the repayment of the less onerous European share also, thereby wiping out any potential benefit.

Therefore a plan for early repayment would require sign-off from all euro zone member states represented on the board of the European Stability Mechanism, European finance ministers, as well as the UK, Sweden and Denmark, because currently all the debts have to repaid at the same time.

Mr Katainen said it’s up to national governments to waive a clause in the bailout arrangements that would be triggered if the country chooses to repay IMF loans early.

But he gave the move the backing of the commission, which comes just days after the IMF also backed a potential plan.

“While the decision to grant a waiver ultimately rests with the [EU] council and member states, the commission favourably views measures that are susceptible to ensure the sustainability of Ireland’s public finances and its adherence to commitments under the Excessive Deficit Procedure and Stability and Growth Pact,” he said.

The response was received via a European Parliament question by MEP Sean Kelly.

The IMF has said Ireland can repay its share of the loans early and without any conditionality attached.

A proposed deal would see Ireland raise cash on the markets to repay €15bn of the more than €22bn that the Government owes to the IMF.

It comes after the international rescue fund hiked interest rates to almost 5pc, double what Europe charges and far more than the price of borrowing on the markets.

Meanwhile, the yield on Ireland’s 10 year bond hit yet another low yesterday at 1.885pc.

The State is now paying an estimated 4.99pc interest on the €22.5bn loan from the Washington-based lender – more than twice the cost Ireland is currently being charged to raise 10 year money on the international markets.

Irish manufacturing prices decrease by 2.4% for the year to July


CSO figures today show an annual decrease in price of export sales by 2.9%

Latest economic figures show a drop in the price of manufacturing output.

Annual manufacturing prices decreased in July by 2.4%, according to figures released today by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

This compared to a decrease of 1.7% cent for the year to June.

On a monthly basis, factory output prices decreased by 0.1%, as compared with an increase of 0.7% for the same month in 2013.

Other economic figures show that July also experienced a decrease of 0.1% in the index for export sales and an increase of the same rate for home sales.

For the full year, there was a decrease of 2.9% for export sales, although this can be influenced by currency fluctuations, and an increase of 0.2% in home sales.

The most significant changes recorded last month were rises in furniture price (2.8%), beverages (2.1%) and wood products (1.1%). There were decreases in dairy products (0.6%), computer electronic and optical products (0.4%) and basic pharmaceutical products (0.3%).

On an annual basis, dairy products rose 4%, beverages 3.1% and medical and dental instruments and supplies 1.1%.

Pharmaceutical products fell 6.3%, food products including bread and confectionary dropped 3.1% and computer, electronic and optical products by 1.7%.

Materials in building and construction prices increased by 1.5% for the year since July, 2013. The most notable movers were sand and gravel (rising by 35.7%), hardwood (14.5%) and stone (4.1%).

Against that, fabricated metals dropped in value by 2.5 per cent, alongside decreases in other structural steel (2%) and reinforcing metal (1.4%).

Family with nut-allergy daughter removed from plane because it was ‘not a nut-free airline’


Allergy: the young girl suffered from an allergic reaction to nuts served on the plane.

The family of a four-year-old girl who suffers from a nut allergy said they were removed from a plane because the carrier was ‘not a nut-free airline.’

The Irish family were travelling on a United Airlines flight to New Jersey with their four-year-old daughter on August 5 when the girl went into anaphylactic shock.

A doctor on board the flight rushed to her aid and gave her a shot of adrenaline as the flight returned to Dublin to give her hospital treatment.

The incident comes after another four-year-old girl stopped breathing on a plane after another passenger opened a packet of nuts – despite a warning given out by staff.

Fae Platten was revived with an emergency injection and Ryanair banned the male passenger from flying with the carrier for two years.

In the latest incident, the Irish family were not allowed to remain on their return flight as staff were reported to be unable to ban nuts.

The child’s mother, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Irish Independent the girl was eating some nuts served during their outbound flight and never had a reaction before.

They eventually made it to the US on a rescheduled flight from Newark Airport after she received treatment in Dublin. On their return journey they asked the airline to not serve nuts as a safety precaution.

Smoking increases death risk of head and neck cancer


The cancers can affect around 30 areas of the head and neck including the mouth, voice box, nose and salivary glands.

Patients with head and neck cancer who smoke at diagnosis have a significantly higher rate of death from the disease, according to a new study.

It shows that one in two of the patients identified were smokers when they cancer were found while one in five had already given up.

“A major finding was that smoking increased the rate of cancer death within five years of being diagnosed,” said Dr Harry Comber, one of the authors of the study by the National Cancer Registry.

The cancers can affect around 30 areas of the head and neck including the mouth, voice box, nose and salivary glands.

He said when current smokers were compared to those that had never smoked, the smokers had a 36pc increased death rate from cancer. Ex-smokers had “a modest” rise in the death rate.

The rate of death due to cancer was significantly raised in smokers with tumours in the part of the mouth behind the teeth and gums, the throat and voice box.

“The risk of cancer death was higher in current smokers who underwent tumour-directed surgery than in those who did not. Another key finding was that neither chemotherapy nor radiotherapy modified the effect of smoking,” Dr Comber said.

“These results suggest that the relationship may be explained, at least in part, by adverse effects of smoking on surgical outcomes and disease recurrence.”

While smoking is a major risk factor in the causes of head and neck cancer, greater efforts to encourage a stop in those newly diagnosed with head and neck cancer should bring significant survival benefits, the study added.

“Our study supports the conclusion of the recent US Surgeon General’s report that smoking cessation may prolong the survival of cancer patients compared to persistent smoking,” Dr Comber said.

“It suggests that benefits would accrue from greater efforts to encourage and support smoking cessation in those at risk of, and diagnosed with, head and neck cancer. We must convey the message that it is never too late to quit smoking.”

Many of the 400 people in Ireland diagnosed with these cancers annually present at late stage in the disease.

Public awareness of the cancers remain low and dentists are involved in free screenings annually in a bid to pick up potential cases which can be referred on for further investigation. Smoking and alcohol increase risk.

Comet Jacques’ appearance in skies to be the ‘best in long time’ over Ireland


Members of the public urged to look to the night sky over the next four or five days

Comet Jacques as photographed though a telescope using a 400mm F/6 lens.

Astronomers in Ireland are excited by the arrival of a comet to our night sky over the next few days, describing it as the best one we have had in a long time.

Comet Jacques was discovered in March and should be visible from Ireland for the next four or five nights as it makes it leisurely 20,000 year orbit of the sun.

At 50 million miles (80m km), it is relatively close to Earth, about half the distance away as the sun. It will be closest to us over the next few nights and should be bright enough to observe from urban areas, where light pollution usually hinders such activity.

“If you can see it from Dublin, you can see it anywhere,” said David Moore from Astronomy Ireland.

Stargazers in urban areas can see the comet by pointing their binoculars to the northeast of the Cassiopeia constellation but “if you are in a rural location and you have the eyesight you will just faintly see it with the naked eye,” said Mr Moore. “It’s the best comet we’ve had in a long time,” he added.

Happily for Astronomy Ireland, Jacques’s appearance coincides with “Ireland’s biggest star party”, the Star-B-Q, a night time barbeque which Mr Moore describes as “the Electric Picnic for astronomers”.

That will be taking place tomorrow night in Roundwood, Co Wicklow which, at 238 metres above sea level, is purported to be Ireland’s highest village.

The event will give members of the public the opportunity to look at the night sky through powerful telescopes.

According to Met Éireann, the sky will be relatively clear tonight and tomorrow night, staying largely dry in near calm conditions, which should be favourable for comet watching.


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