News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Monday 16th March 2015

Grocery market competition ramps up as Dunnes Stores campaign sees sales grow by 6.5%


The latest supermarket share figures from Kantar Worldpanel in Ireland, published for the 12 weeks ending March 1, show contrasting fortunes among the major supermarkets in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

David Berry, director at Kantar Worldpanel, said that Dunnes’ recent ‘Shop & Save’ campaign looks to have made a mark with shoppers.

“The retailer’s sales have grown by 6.5% over the latest period, improving its market share by just over one percentage point to 23.4%. Dunnes has successfully encouraged its customers to buy more, growing the number of trips where €100 or more is spent by an astonishing 25%.

“One point to note is that this time last year Dunnes was struggling, with sales falling by almost 5%, so while performance is positive this year the benchmark for comparison is relatively low.”

Elsewhere among the big three retailers, SuperValu’s 0.4% sales growth has put it almost on parity with Tesco. SuperValu’s share of the grocery market is now 24.9%, just 0.1% behind Ireland’s largest supermarket. SuperValu has attracted an extra 50,000 customers this year which means that three quarters of all Irish households shopped in SuperValu in the latest period.

Tesco remains Ireland’s largest supermarket with one in every €4 spent on groceries going into its tills. However this is lower than this time last year with sales down by 3.7%. The main driver of this sales decline does appear to be changing. Shoppers had been cutting back the number of products they bought there. Now, they are buying a similar number of products but at a lower price.

Both Lidl and Aldi continue to post impressive performance, with both enjoying growth of 10.7%. Lidl’s market share has improved to 7.6% and Aldi now stands at 8.1%.

Suicides of more than 470 men in Ireland linked to recession


In 2008, the trend of falling suicide rates started to reverse and self-harm among both men and women has also been rising.

A Research on suicide rates in Ireland has shown that there were 476 more male suicides than would have been expected during 2008 and 2012 had the recession not happened.

A recent RTÉ investigation revealed the national suicide ratehas not exceeded the annual rate of 12.2 per 100,000 of the population since 2004 and the suicide rate was higher in 2001 than any other year after the downturn.

However The National Suicide Research Foundation (NSRF) said that while rates fell between 2001 and 2007, after that self-harm among both sexes has been increasing, as have suicide rates among men in Ireland.

Their analysis shows that in 2008, the first year of the recession, there was a “significant increase” in rates, reversing the previous decreasing trend. The researchers at University College Cork (UCC) compared the rates of suicide and self-harm with the rates that would have been observed had the decreasing trend between 2001 and 2007 continued here.

  They found the rate of male suicide by the end of 2012 was 57% higher than it would have been if the recession had not happened. The rate of self-harm among both men and women was also 37% and 26% higher respectively.

Between 2008 and 2012, there were 476 more male suicides than would have been expected during this period had the economic downturn not occurred.

Numbers of self-harm presentations were also higher than would have been expected – 5,029 males and 3,833 females.

There have been similar findings in other countries, including the UK and the US but the NSRF said the impact seems to have been greater in Ireland.

A report in 2013 found that in one third of suicides, the person was unemployed and 42% had worked in the construction and production sectors – those most severely affected by the recession. However other factors, such as a history of self-harm, depression and substance abuse were also prevalent.

NSRF research director Ella Arensman has previously said that the recession was “compounding the problems that the vulnerable were already facing”.

If you need someone to talk to, contact:

  • Samaritans 116 123 or email
  • Console 1800 247 247 – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement)
  • Aware 1890 303 302 (depression, anxiety)
  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email – (suicide, self-harm)
  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

Inactive kids eventually will become ‘couch potatoes and obese’


Children who aren’t very physically active are more likely to become couch potatoes by the time they are middle-aged than their active counterparts, according to a new study.

It’s known that a lack of physical exercise can take its toll on a person’s health, leading to serious implications such as obesity, heart attack and stroke. So researchers at the University College London set out to investigate the relationship between children’s physical activity and the effects of this in later life.

For their study, they recruited 6,000 children in the UK who were all born in a single week in 1970.

The researchers compared their television habits when they were ten years old against their viewing habits when they had reached the age of 42.

When the children were ten, their parents were asked how often their child watched television and engaged in playing sports.

The height and weight of each child was recorded, as well as the occupation of their parents.

When they had reached the age of 42, each participant was asked how much time they spent watching television and playing sports.

It was found that those who spent a lot of time in front of the television at the age of ten were 42 per cent more likely to watch TV for more than three hours each day when they were 42, in comparison to those who spent little time in front of the screen during childhood.

What’s more, those who watched three hours of TV or more each day in adulthood were more likely to consider themselves to be overweight or obese

Interestingly, the study revealed a link between parents’ occupations and participants’ viewing habits.

The participants whose parents were in manual jobs were twice as likely to watch more than three hours of television each day at age 42 than those whose parents were in managerial roles.

Mark Hamer, lead researcher of the study, said: ‘It is important that children keep active. And if they can be encouraged to participate in sports, so much the better.

‘Our work indicates that parents’ health-related behaviours may at least partly influence children’s TV viewing habits more than three decades later.’


   Happy St. Patrick's Day!

St Patrick’s Day is upon us once more. Now we can’t say for sure why St Pat’s is the most popular patron saint in the calendar, but we reckon it might have something to do with the rowdy (and altogether inebriated) qualities of the day.

And of course, no March 17 would be complete without a pint of Guinness. So whether you’re over in Ireland or here in the UK, we’ve dug out some quirky facts about the famous Black Stuff…

  1. More than 13 million pints of Guinness are enjoyed around the world on St Patrick’s Day.
  2. It takes 119.5 seconds to pour the perfect pint of Guinness, and there are six steps in this process.
  3. There are roughly 300,000,000 bubbles in each pint of Guinness.

“Crisp and fruity” is just not the Guinness way.

  1. 10 million glasses of Guinness are enjoyed every day around the world.
  2. Guinness is now brewed in 49 countries and exported to over 150 countries.
  3. Guinness is the only brand in Great Britain with its own dedicated Quality team.
  4. One pint in every three in Ireland is a pint of Guinness.
  5. The most Guinness is sold in Nigeria, followed by Great Britain, Ireland, the United State of America and Cameroon.
  6. The product historically known as “the black stuff” is actually ruby red in colour.
  7. 313,900 St Patrick’s Day hats will be worn across the UK on St Patrick’s Day.

Stonehenge May Have Been An Ancient ‘Mecca On Stilts,’

A Critic Says



Almost a million people a year flock to Stonehenge to marvel at the mysterious prehistoric monument. But what if those massive bluestones were just the foundations of an enormous platform where worshippers came to perform religious ceremonies?

That’s the intriguing new theory put forth by Julian Spalding, a British art critic and former director of some of the UK’s leading museums, who says the long-lost platform would have made Stonehenge a kind of “mecca on stilts.”

“All the great raised altars of the past suggest that the people who built Stonehenge would never have performed celestial ceremonies on the lowly earth,” he told The Guardian, adding that his theory is “totally different” from any others put forward before. “That would have been unimaginably insulting to the immortal beings, for it would have brought them down from heaven to bite the dust and tread in the dung.”

Unpacking the theory. Spalding believes a round wooden platform sat atop the monument’s stones, which ancient people reached by climbing up a ramp or stairs, as he wrote in his new book Realisation. The platform would have been composed of an outer rim for pilgrims to walk around and an inner one reserved for priests and royalty, he told The Huffington Post in an email.

Last September, archaeologists discovered the monument once formed a full circle — hence the idea for the round platform.

Previous research suggested that gigantic wooden posts were set up in the area before the stones were erected. As Spalding said in the email, these posts may have been used to help erect the platform and stairway or ramps.

Spalding acknowledged that proposing the theory in the absence of physical evidence might be “a bit cheeky”. But he emphasized in the email that “nothing in the archaeological evidence contradicts my interpretation.”

What do archaeologists make of it? Dr. Aubrey Burl, a British archaeologist considered to be an expert on stone circles, told The Guardian that he thought it was worth looking into.

But others expressed skepticism. As Dr. Timothy Darvill, professor of archaeology at Bournemouth University in England and one of the recent excavators of Stonehenge, told The Huffington Post in an email:

“Some kind of superstructure for Stonehenge has been suggested many times over the last few decades, but all can be questioned on two key points. First, there is absolutely no evidence that the stones supported a timber platform or a roof of any kinds. And second, what exactly would people do up there? The stone structure we see today performs perfectly well in terms of structuring observations of the heavens at the summer and winter solstices and creating spaces for ceremonies and rituals around the use of the Bluestones.”

Stonehenge, located eight miles north of Salisbury in England and believed to have been erected 4,000 to 5,000 years ago, has been listed as a World Heritage


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