News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Tuesday 24th March 2015

June 30th this year is deadline to get ‘Water Conservation Grant’


Minister says households must be registered by this date to receive €100 grant. 

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly has said if a household has not registered by June 30th, it will not be able to receive the €100 grant from the Department of Social Protection

The deadline for registering with Irish Water to be eligible for the receipt of the water conservation grant is June 30th.

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly has said if a household has not registered by this date, it will not be able to receive the €100 grant from the Department of Social Protection from September 2015.

He said that the €100 grant, which will be paid to households that have registered with Irish Water, can be used towards buying some of the many devices available to conserve water such as water butts to recycle water, water displacement devices to reduce water flow in toilets, or aerators to reduce water flow from taps.

He also said the grant can also be used towards repairing a household plumbing system, to reduce water leakage.

Mr Kelly said the final date of June 30th for payments was chosen to take account of the fact that there will be some changes in residency up to that point.

Irish Water will be able to deduct water bills directly from wages and welfare payments under strengthened compliance measures being considered by the Government.

The introduction of attachment orders in order to increase compliance with water charges marks a step change in the Coalition’s approach to those who do not pay their water bills.

Motorists in Ireland can save on motor insurance by shopping around


Consumers can save as much a €1,200 on motor insurance by shopping around.

According to a survey on motor insurance by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, the savings that can be made vary depending on the level of cover required and the individual’s circumstances.

For comprehensive cover, the difference in quotes received was found to be €156 to €1,249, while for third- party fire and theft the difference in quotes ranged from €137 to €975.

The study compared motor insurance quotes from eight insurance companies based on nine driver profiles which vary in age, location, driver experience and other lifestyle factors.

It found potential savings across all of the profiles. For example for a 67-year-old, driving a Ford Fiesta in Dublin there was over €170 in the difference between the lowest and highest quote.

For one of the profiles, an increase in penalty points from two to six points resulted in a rise of 37% for comprehensive cover and 49% for third-party fire and theft. Just two of the eight insurers surveyed provided a quote for a driver with six penalty points.

The survey also revealed a wide variation in benefits offered and the range of excesses included in policies.

Excesses (the amount which a consumer will have to pay in the event of a claim) for comprehensive policies ranged from €200 to €550 and for third-party fire and theft the policy excesses varied between zero and €500.

In terms of no-claims bonuses, the survey found there were differences across each of the companies in the application of the bonus. For example, there were variations in the number of years over which the bonus can be earned and the maximum bonus discount that could be earned varied between 50% and 75%.

Seven of the eight insurers who participated in the survey allow consumers to pay for their motor insurance by installments.

The charge for paying using this method ranged from 9.5% to 20.1% of the policy premium.

Director of communications and consumer help at the commission Fergal O’Leary said the study showed how worthwhile it is to research your options and get quotes from more than one company when buying a new policy or renewing existing motor insurance policy.

“Our research shows potential savings of up to €1,249, so not taking time to consider your options could mean you are paying more than you need to.

A new address or, in some cases, a new profession, can have implications in terms of the cost of your motor insurance policy — if the change increases the risk of accident or theft. So remember to contact your insurer and tell them about any significant changes, not doing so could mean your policy is invalid,” he said.

Mr O’Leary advised consumers that, when comparing policies, it is very important to not just compare costs but also the benefits and conditions, to make sure people know exactly what they are paying.

Irish Government cabinet backs the over-70s Bill


The Government has today approved a new Bill to provide a Universal GP service for everyone over the age of 70. The Cabinet has approved the Health (General Practitioner Service) Bill 2015. There has been agreement that the Bill should be published and introduced to the Oireachtas.

“This phase in the introduction of a universal GP service for the whole population will see free GP services extended to all persons over the age of 70, regardless of income or means. In tandem with separate plans for the under-sixes, this will ensure that the youngest and the oldest have access to GP care without fees.

“This is a significant step on the way towards universal health care,” the Minister for Health, Dr Leo Varadkar, said.

Primary Care Minister Kathleen Lynch welcomed the Government decision saying: “The first two phases covering the over-70s and the under-sixes will ensure that our oldest citizens and the parents of our youngest can go to their GP, focusing on their health and not how much the visit will cost.”

Subject to the legislation being passed by both Houses of the Oireachtas, the objective is to have a universal GP service for over 70s in the second quarter of this year. This is proposed to coincide with the introduction of the under sixes service

German tourists receive the most help due to crime, group says

Irish Tourist Assistance Service says victims of crime tend to be young women


The Irish Tourist Assistance Service said that German tourists received the most assistance as a result of crime last year.

German tourists and women made up the majority of victims of crime to have received assistance from the Irish Tourist Assistance Service (ITAS) last year.

Crimes mostly occurred as the tourists were sightseeing, shopping and socialising.

German nationals made up the largest category assisted by ITAS, followed by French, American, Italian, British and Spanish tourists.

The victims tended to be female and aged between 17-25.

The majority of crimes referred to the service occurred between the hours of 2-6 pm in Dublin city centre.

The most common crimes perpetrated against tourists were theft from the person and theft from cars, while more than 50% of assistance was provided at the weekends.

ITAS assisted tourists involved in eight cases of violent crime, including aggravated thefts, assaults and robberies.

Overall, 408 incidents of tourist crime and traumatic incidents were referred to ITAS last year.

Pearse Street and Store Street Garda stations in Dublin referred the majority of the cases to ITAS, followed by Garda stations in Co Wicklow and Co Kerry.

‘A traumatic experience’

Lord Mayor of Dublin Christy Burke said: “Being a tourist victim of crime can be an extremely traumatic experience. It is reassuring to know that ITAS are on hand to respond to their needs 7-days a week throughout the year.

“Over 90% of tourists opted to continue with their holiday plans last year, which is testament to the expertise and compassion of the staff and volunteers and the professionalism of the service.”

Martin Holohan, chairman of ITAS, said Ireland is leading the way in the support it provides to tourists who are victims of crime.

“ITAS is the only dedicated service in Europe offering specialist assistance to tourists in these situations. While we very much appreciate the funding we receive from the industry, further support is required in order to secure its future viability.

“All sectors of the industry benefit from the support provided by ITAS, it is in everyone’s interest to help.”

The total solar eclipse was ‘awe-inspiring’ for Mayo man

A shot of the Eclipse over Westport at 09.10am last Wednesday morning.


An Achill Co Mayo man who was in the Faroe Islands to witness the total eclipse of the sun has described the experience as one of the most awe-inspiring things he has ever witnessed.

The Faroe Islands, along with the Svalbard islands (a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean), were the only two populated places in Europe where the totality of last Friday’s solar eclipse could be seen. The next total solar eclipse visible in Europe will be on August 12, 2026.

Achill man Finbar Cafferkey was one of 8,000 visitors who travelled north to the Faroe Islands to witness the total eclipse. The native of Cashel, who is now living and working in Copenhagen, witnessed the phenomenon on a hill south of the capital Tórshavn, in a place called Argir – a name with its origins in the old Irish word for summer pasture, ‘airge’.

Speaking to The Mayo News, Finbar said the experience was ‘almost apocalyptic’.  An experienced traveller, Finbar explained that when he heard there was going to be an eclipse in Europe, he felt compelled to make the effort to see it. The sight was well worth the 38-hour ferry crossing from Denmark, he said.

“The eclipse was one of the most awe-inspiring things I’ve ever seen, I could not recommend it more,” he said. “There was maybe 100 others on the hill and thousands more visible around the town, along the roads and on another hill to the north. At first the darkening was noticeable but gradual from 8.40am, but at 9.40am, when the totality began, things got fast. It got dark very quickly, as if the daylight was being sucked out to sea. As my sister Maeve would say, it felt apocalyptic.

“All the streetlights came on in the town below. There was a little blue in the sky to the north and west but all else was dark. There was a lot of cloud about so we had only intermittent views of the eclipse before this but luckily the cloud broke as the totality came to an end. It was an awesome sight and I felt very privileged to witness it,” he said.

Finbar explained that when it suddenly got dark, he saw seagulls heading for shelter, and then  taking off again when it brightened.

“I met a few Faroese people who work abroad and who came home especially to see it. The celebrations afterward were mighty; they like singing and dancing here as much as ourselves,” he observed.

For those not fortunate to travel to the Faroe or Svalbard Islands, the west of Ireland was one of the best places in Europe to see a partial eclipse, with over 90 percent of the sun covered by the moon as seen from many parts in Mayo.


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