News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Wednesday 8th April 2015

GPO women in chains proclaim ‘ownership of their own bodies’


Feminist group seeks to ‘shine light on this country and on issue of reproductive rights’

Members of the Speaking of Imelda performance group chained themselves to the columns of the General Post Office in Dublin for two hours on Monday as they made an unofficial contribution to celebrations of the Easter Rising of 1916.

“There is something very symbolic about us coming back. The original Proclamation was supported by some of Ireland’s ‘exiled children’ and we are some of Ireland’s exiled children coming back from abroad. We should be listened to.”

Members of Speaking of Imelda, a direct-action feminist performance group that operates from England, chained themselves to the columns outside the General Post Office in Dublin for two hours on Monday as they made an unofficial contribution to celebrations of the Easter Rising of 1916.

Dressed in red, the women, who operate as a collective and refuse to be named individually, read out their alternative proclamation for Ireland 99 years after Patrick Pearse marked the beginning of the Easter Rising by reading out the original Proclamation, also outside the GPO.

·         The “proclamation” from Speak of Imeldaread:

·         “Irish men and Irish women

·         And all who live in Ireland

·         In the name of citizenship

·         Promised to us on these steps

We declare the right of all people in Ireland to ownership of their own bodies

And to control their own destinies”

The group, which had travelled over from London to be present at RTÉ’s Road to the Rising event, also called for repeal of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

The amendment states: “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”

The majority of Speak of Imelda’s members were born in Ireland, a spokeswoman said. Some have been living in the UK for decades, others for only a year. They also draw support from people of Irish descent.

“I know that it’s a terrible thing to say, but being outside the country has given me a different perspective on being a woman,” said a member of the group. “We see all these tragedies happening, and you are away from home and you feel helpless.

“As Irish citizens we are special. Lots of people emigrate largely because they can’t find work. They go abroad to live in more liberal societies and forget about Ireland.

‘No longer silent’

“But we refuse to go away and be quiet. We are no longer silent. We can no longer be quiet women,” she said.

While Irish politics tends to get little international attention, the group plans to “shine the light on this country and on the issue of reproductive rights.

“Every time an Irish politician comes to England, we will be there and raise this.”

The group had been true to their “punk, direct action, public performance origins” since they came together in 2013.

Knickers presentation

Most notably, they made a presentation of a pair of large women’s knickers complete with “Repeal the Eighth” slogan to Taoiseach Enda Kenny during a political fundraising dinner in London in October 2014.

The resultant “knicker-bombing” video went viral on social media.

Speak of Imelda, which favours both large pants and large social media incursions, dress in red because women from the Irish Women’s Abortion Support Group would wear a red skirt so women travelling to meet them to have an abortion in England would recognise them at airports or stations.

The name Imelda was employed as a codename by women travelling to England for abortions between 1986 and 1995.

“I would come back to live here, but I have a nine-year-old daughter – and I will not bring her to live in a place where she does not have bodily autonomy,” said one member of the group.

According to British Department of Heath figures for 2014, up to 10 women are thought to leave the Irish State every day to get an abortion in the UK.

‘I have never missed a repayment, but you are bleeding us dry’

An angry customer attacks bosses

Permanent TSB Chairman Alan Cook heckled by attendees at meeting


I have never missed repayment, but you are bleeding us dry – angry customer attacks bank bosses at Permanent TSB AGM

A Permanent TSB mortgage customer has vented her anger at what she called the discrimination of one cohort of customers.

Frustrated mortgage holder Sarah Hogan told the company’s AGM this afternoon that even though she has the same mortgage value as her neighbour, she pays €118 more per month on her mortgage.

Ms Hogan asked Permanent TSB Group CEO Jeremy Masding and chairman Alan Cook today if they think this is fair.

However, the bank said it is not planning to cut rates.

“I am charged 4.5pc on my existing mortgage. My neighbour with the same loan value, the same term, the same loan to value ratio is paying 3.8pc. I pay €118 more per month to the bank and this adds up to more than €36,000 over the remaining life of the mortgage. And I ask you Sir, is this fair?”

“I have never missed repayment. We are not in arrears. We are not looking for a special deal. We are looking to be treated the same.”

PTSB shareholder: ‘All I can say is Permanent TSB my arse’

The Bray woman, who has been banking with TSB for six years, also spoke at Permanent TSB’s AGM three years ago. She said the bank announced a “token” rate reduction after this.

Today, she told the bank bosses not to “insult” her with detailed banking rhetoric.

“You’ll speak of the blended cost of funds. That’s not good enough. The European average rate is a little over 2pc. Your margin on our mortgage is greater than that.”

“‘Banking for life, we are with you every step of the way’ – that’s what your website proclaims. And you most certainly are, Sir. You are bleeding us dry.”

“Let me finish by asking you a question, Mr Masding and Mr Cook, do you think that it is fair and just to continue to treat one cohort of customers so very differently to another.”

“And please do not insult me with detailed rhetoric about the blended cost of funds. I am paying today and I want action today.”

“Do you think that it is fair to discriminate against one cohort of customers? Is this fair and right? Two groups, same mortgages, same terms, same loan-to-values, two very, very different rates.”

Ms Hogan claimed that her last speech at the TSB AGM was followed by “empty promises”.

“You may remember that I stood in this room three years ago and spoke to you, because at the time the bank was charging the highest standard variable rate in the land,” she told

“The bank then announced with great fanfare a token reduction in that rate, together with empty promises about more to come, and now I find myself here again this year.”

In response to Ms Hogan’s speech, Alan Cook responded: “What we’ve got to do is find a way to drive down those input costs that I talked about earlier such that we are able to share that reduced cost with our customers.”

“But we don’t have an option of saying ‘we will deliberately run those mortgages at a loss when we have a restructuring plan.”

21 new routes set to take off soon from Dublin Airport


Aer Lingus planes at Dublin Airport

The airport said it was introducing 16 short-haul routes to continental Europe.

It is also launching five long-haul connections from Ireland’s main airport to the US airports of Washington, Chicago and LA. There is also a new route to Ethiopia. Dublin Airport said it would be offering 2m extra seats this summer – an 11% increase in capacity on last summer.

Airport managing director Vincent Harrison said: “We are particularly pleased that Dublin will have a direct connection to sub-Saharan Africa this summer, making it easier for our customers to access three continents – Africa, Europe and North America – with Ethiopian Airlines’ new Addis Ababa-Dublin-LA route, as well as direct services to Europe, the Middle East and North America.

“Significant increases in seat capacity and frequency on 25 existing routes will give our customers greater flexibility and more options, whether they are travelling for business or leisure purposes, during this summer season.”

Dublin Airport has run marketing campaigns to attract passengers from Northern Ireland.

But Belfast International has fought back, adding one-off seasonal routes to Orlando and Las Vegas during the summer.

And last week Belfast International saw the take-off of new flights to Poland, Italy and Czech Republic. will also start connections with Gran Canaria, Italy and Greece from Belfast International later this year.

Belfast City Airport, meanwhile, starts a new route with BA’s sister airline Vueling to Barcelona, next month. Dutch airline KLM is also starting flights to Amsterdam next month from Belfast City.

Could drinking pomegranate juice prevent a heart attack?

Scientists say that half a glass pomegranate juce and three dates a day an boost heart health


A Super food? Pomegranate juice could help prevent heart disease, research now suggests?

Pomegranates have been shown to reduce stress, fight arthritis and even help with impotence. Now, a study suggests that just a daily half-glass of the super-fruit’s juice could protect against heart attacks and strokes, too.

Researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology examined mice with high cholesterol, as well as lab-grown arterial cells, in a trial.

The team found that consumption of pomegranate juice and dates dramatically slowed down the rate of therosclerosis – the build-up of fatty substances in the arteries which can cause a heart attack or stroke. Overall, arterial cholesterol content decreased by 28 per cent.

  • Why you should never eat a bacon sandwich: what you can – and can’t – eat

The high levels of different antioxidants in the two fruits are believed to provide the perfect combination to help fight heart disase, with the team recommending that people consume half a glass of pomegranate juice (around 115ml), together with three dates every day to benefit.

Although the regime sounds easy, many of the most powerful antioxidants are stored in the dates’ stones or pits – so team leader Professor Michael Aviram advised grinding up the stones into a paste and consuming those as well.

Pomegranates have long been known to be a valuable source of polyphenols and anthocyanins, which have various health benefits, including helping the body protect itself against cancer.

The fruit is also rich in vitamins A, C and E and iron.

The findings were published in the most recent issue of Food & Function, a journal of The Royal Society of Chemistry.

How did the moon form? Violent cosmic crash theory gets a boost


The formation of the moon has long remained a mystery, but new studies support the theory that the moon was formed from debris left from a collision between the newborn Earth and a Mars-size rock, with a veneer of meteorites coating both afterward.

Earth was born about 4.5 billion years ago, and scientists think the moon arose a short time later. The leading explanation for the moon’s origin, known as the Giant Impact Hypothesis, was first proposed in the 1970s. It suggests the moon resulted from the collision of two protoplanets, or embryonic worlds. One of those was the just-forming Earth, and the other was a Mars-size object called Theia. The moon then coalesced from the debris.

The long-standing challenges this scenario faces are rooted in the chemistry of the moon. Most of the models of the giant-impact theory often say that more than 60% of the moon should be made of material from Theia. The problem is that most bodies in the solar system have unique chemical makeups, and Earth, Theia and therefore the moon should as well. However, rock samples from the moon reveal that it is puzzlingly more similar to Earth than such models would predict when it comes to versions of elements called isotopes. (Each isotope of an element has different numbers of neutrons.)

This artist’s rendition depicts the catastrophic collision of two planetary bodies similar in composition that led to the formation of the Earth and its moon 4.5 billion years ago.

“In terms of composition, the Earth and moon are almost twins, their compositions differing by at most few parts in a million,” study lead author Alessandra Mastrobuono-Battisti, an astrophysicist at the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, told “This contradiction has cast a long shadow on the giant-impact model.”

To shed light on this mystery, Mastrobuono-Battisti and her colleagues simulated collisions in the early solar system of between 85 to 90 protoplanets — each of which had up to 10 percent of Earth’s mass, — and 1,000 to 2,000 smaller bodies, called planetesimals. Each of the latter had masses that were about 0.25 percent of Earth’s. [How the Moon Was Made (Infographic)]

The researchers simulated the collisions taking place in a disk pattern that extended from half an astronomical unit (AU) to 4.5 AU from the sun. (An astronomical unit is the average distance between the sun and Earth, which is about 93 million miles, or 150 million kilometers.)

The scientists found that within 100 million to 200 million years after the models began, each simulation typically produced three to four rocky planets, with the largest comparable to Earth’s mass.

These worlds often were composed of material that was distinct from one another. However, they also found that 20 to 40 percent of the time, the composition of one planet was very similar to the makeup of the last protoplanet that had collided with it. This likelihood is about 10 times higher than previous estimates.

“The most exciting and surprising thing was to find out that we can shed new light on a 30-year-old mystery,” study co-author Hagai Perets, an astrophysicist at the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, told “Compositionally similar planet-impactor pairs are not rare at all.”

Mastrobuono-Battisti, Perets and their colleague Sean Raymond, of the University of Bordeaux in France, detailed their findings in the April 9 issue of the journal Nature


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