Friday 1st. May 2015
Irish central Bank governor Patrick Honohan steps down
- ‘at a very good time’
- The governor says economy is well on way to repair but he is still concerned over our debt.
Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan yesterday: ‘We’re very much now into a phase of repair and consolidation.’
Patrick Honohan was in upbeat mode as he held court at the top floor of the Central Bank. All smiles as he declared he will leave Dame Street a few months early near the end of the year, he was asked which qualities should be sought in his successor. “A beard, I think, is essential – or a skirt,” he said.
Mr Honohan turns 66 years of age in October. He anticipated revealing his plan yesterday “in an off-hand manner” but was rumbled by reporters on Thursday. He told Minister for Finance Michael Noonan of his intentions early in April.
So how did Noonan take the news? “He was surprised. I said ‘you’re not going to be impressed by this but I’ll be 66’. He said he wasn’t impressed. But he was understanding about it.”
Asked if there was any row or any personal issues behind his early exit, Honohan said no there weren’t. Although he does not plan to take up a new job, he didn’t rule out writing a book on his experience as governor or to write on other subjects.
“I’ve long been asking myself when the best moment is. I’m not getting any younger . . . This is actually a very good time, because it’s a time of change, a time of transition anyway,” he said.
Crisis management phase over.
“We’re moving now from the crisis management phase, the crisis management phase is over. If there’s another crisis management phase it’ll be in another crisis and we’re very much now into a phase of repair and consolidation. That’s a different type of activity so it’s a change of gear.”
The Central Bank annual report showed that the institution realised a €2.1 billion profit last year, €1.7 billion of which is being paid to the exchequer. It was a mark of the extraordinary interventions made since the crash that the Central Bank realised profits totalling €8 billion in six years under Mr Honohan’s watch.
After former European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet offered a resolute defence in Dublin of ECB actions in the Irish debacle, Honohan said it had been a great day for Irish democracy.
“One thing that probably came home to people – but certainly has been my constant view of him – that he is has always been a friend of Ireland. He has been a bit demonised in blogs and stuff,” he said of Mr Trichet.
“Now that doesn’t mean I agreed at every step with all of the things that he said. Of course I didn’t. But he did do very much in the best interest of Ireland and the best interest of Europe. I think when he says that, he is completely sincere. He was never in the position of saying I don’t care about this country or that country.”
The bailout, he said, was a once-in-a-century event in Ireland’s relations with Europe. Asked if he took issue with Mr Trichet’s account, Honohan said he didn’t.
“I’m not disagreeing with anything he said. No, no. Absolutely not.”
Of the unresolved and uncertain scene in Greece, Honohan said he was “slightly more optimistic” in recent weeks than previously. Of the spring economic statement, he had “no message” and but did not indicate any particular concern with the package.
“Of course if the Government were going off the rails entirely we wouldn’t be slow to jump up and down in this building.”
A major concern,
While Honohan said Ireland’s economy was well on the road to repair, he had concerns still about high indebtedness. Of his time as governor in the heat of crisis, he said there were “few surprises” as he had seen how things went awry elsewhere. “It was like coming into a real live history book here,” he said.
“I know people complain maybe a bit that I make light of things, but I’m always aware of the fact that in this period of time – in central banking characterisation – that the stakes are enormously high and mistakes could have been enormously costly.
“Thanks to the experience of what can be done and what should be done, we might not have got everything we wanted done right. But we avoided false steps.”
High standards ‘cannot compensate’ for radiologist shortage
RCSI faculty says more consultants needed after X-ray errors
There are five radiologists per 100,000 population in Ireland, compared with 7.8 in Germany and 11.3 in France, says Royal College of Surgeons.
The highest standards of practice cannot compensate for the current shortage of radiologists in Ireland, the faculty of radiologists has said.
The faculty, which is part of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, was commenting after more than 100 patients were recalled over the misreading of X-rays and other scans by three locum radiologists employed by the HSE.
The college’s communications manager, Niamh Walker, said Ireland had a much lower number of radiologists per capita than other European countries.
There are five radiologists per 100,000 population in Ireland compared with 7.8 in Germany and 11.3 in France, she said.
Ms Walker said an IT platform currently being installed in HSE hospitals as part of a wider quality assurance programme would mean examinations recorded by one radiologist would automatically be assigned for review and second reading by another consultant radiologist.
Shortage of consultants
However, she said, “the highest possible standard of radiology practice still cannot compensate for the fact that Ireland has a shortage of consultant radiologists”.
She added: “The clinical demand for radiology services is increasing steadily in Ireland. This has led to high workloads for Irish radiologists when compared with their peers in other countries and partly explains why it can be so difficult for some hospitals to find locum cover.”
Ms Walker said a recent substantial investment by the HSE to develop a national electronic radiology IT system and hospital group structure should be accompanied by “a well-designed expansion in consultant radiologist numbers”.
The Faculty of Radiologists, which along with the HSE and the Medical Council, is the postgraduate training body responsible for standards in radiologist training and professional competence, extended its sympathy to affected patients and their families.
The Irish Times reported on Thursday that thousands of X-rays and scans were reviewed and more than 100 patients recalled after errors were found in the work of three locum radiologists.
The locums, who no longer work in Ireland, were reported to the Medical Council after colleagues raised concerns over their work. They worked in seven hospitals.
Fine Gael Senator Colm Burke said the HSE should prioritise the recruitment of hospital consultants over the use of expensive locum staff.
“The use of locums and agency staff leads to lack of continuity in patient care. Aside from the recent concerns about quality, locum staff are far more expensive than what the health system would be paying permanent staff in similar roles,” he said.
New test can predict cancer up to 13 years before the disease develops
Telomeres could be developed to cause cancer cells to self-destruct without harming healthy cells.
People who develop cancer have shorter telomeres, the caps at the end of chromosomes which protect the DNA
Telomeres sit at the end of chromosomes like the caps on shoelaces to prevent DNA from fraying
Genetic changes can predict cancer up to 13 years in the future, according to new research.
Harvard and Northwestern University discovered that tiny but significant changes are already happening in the body more than a decade before cancer is diagnosed.
They found that the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes, which prevent DNA damage, had significantly more wear and tear in people who went on to develop cancer. In fact, in some cases they looked 15 years older.
Those caps, known as telomeres, were much shorter than they should be and continued to get shorter until around four years before the cancer developed, when they suddenly stopped shrinking. All the people with the changes went on to develop cancer.
“Understanding this pattern of telomere growth may mean it can be a predictive biomarker for cancer,” said Dr. Lifang Hou, the lead study author and a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
“Because we saw a strong relationship in the pattern across a wide variety of cancers, with the right testing these procedures could be used to eventually diagnose a wide variety of cancers.”
Although many people may not want to know that they will develop cancer in the future, it could allow them to make lifestyle changes to lower their risk. Stanford University is also working on a project looking at how telomere’s can be regrown.
However insurance companies warned that such a test could push up policy premiums.
Matt Sanders, in charge of protection insurance products at Go-Compare, said people with such a diagnoses could be priced out of the insurance marker.
“If this test showed 100% probability over a certain number of years then it could affect premiums. It would be the equivalent of living in a high theft area for someone looking for home insurance,” he said.
“Premiums could rise to a point where some people would simply be priced out. However if it was shown that diagnosing earlier could prevent cancer then that could bring down premiums.”
Aviva also said that continually monitored advances in medical sciences ‘ to ensure they are reflected in the premiums paid by our customers, where appropriate.’
Telomeres sit at the end of chromosomes, and protect the tightly bound strands of DNA
In the new study, scientists took multiple measurements of telomeres over a 13-year period in 792 persons, 135 of whom were eventually diagnosed with different types of cancer, including prostate, skin, lung and leukemia.
Initially, scientists discovered telomeres aged much faster, indicated by a more rapid loss of length, in individuals who were developing but not yet diagnosed with cancer.
Telomeres in all the people who went on to develop cancer looked as much as 15 years older than those of people who were not developing the disease.
But then scientists found the accelerated aging process stopped three to four years before the cancer diagnosis.
Telomeres shorten every time a cell divides. The older a person is, the more times each cell has divided, and the shorter their telomeres.
Because cancer cells divide and grow rapidly, scientists would expect the cell would get so short it would self-destruct. But that’s not what happens, scientists discovered.
“We found cancer has hijacked the telomere shortening in order to flourish in the body,” added Dr Hou.
The team is hoping that if it can identify how cancer hijacks the cell, then treatments
RECOGNISING THE EARLY SIGNS OF BOWEL CANCER
Almost 2,500 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer in Ireland every year.
Being informed of the early signs and what you can do to reduce the risk is crucial.
So with the help of the Irish Cancer Society, we are delighted to inform you of these essential facts.
If you are unsure of any of the following, please call the Irish Cancer Society National Cancer Helpline 1800 200 700.
Bowel cancer is also known as colon, rectal and colorectal cancer. It affects the digestive system and can occur in both sexes.
- It happens when cells in the bowel start to grow quickly and form a tumour. If it’s a malignant tumour, it is known as cancer.
- It is the second most common cause of cancer death in Ireland.
- We can change this by recognising the early signs and reducing the risk.
- Recognising the signs
- Knowing the symptoms is essential.
Bowel cancer is extremely treatable once it’s caught early, however almost 50% of bowel cancers are only diagnosed at stage three and four.
As a result, bowel cancer mortality rates remain steady since 2006 at 40%.
If you notice any of the following signs, please get them checked, particularly if they last longer than four weeks.
- A change in your normal bowel motion, such as diarrhoea or constipation.
- Feeling you have not emptied your bowel fully after a motion.
- Pain or discomfort in your abdomen (tummy) or back passage.
- Trapped wind or fullness in your tummy.
- Weight loss.
- Tired and breathless (due to anaemia from blood loss).
- Rectal bleeding or blood in stools.
These symptoms can also be due to issues which are not related to bowel cancer.
Cause and prevention
The cause of bowel cancer is unknown, but there are risk factors which can increase the likelihood of someone getting it.
- You have a higher chance of getting bowel cancer if
- You have had a previous bowel cancer.
- You are over 60.
- A member of your immediate family (mother, father, brother or sister) or relatives (uncle or aunt) has had bowel cancer.
- You have a history of bowel conditions like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
- You are obese (overweight).
- You eat a diet high in fats and low in fibre.
Research has found that adults who increase their physical activity and have a healthy diet can reduce their risk of developing bowel cancer by 30 to 40%.
The Irish Cancer Society is appealing to the public not to be embarrassed about any symptoms they may be experiencing and to remember that early detection saves lives.
Baby tapir at Fota Wildlife Park is asking you for a name
- Public has track record in naming animals at the park and Fota is requesting help again
The three-week-old male is the first Brazilian Tapir born at the Cork Wildlife Park since 2006. His birth is part of a breeding programme for this vulnerable species
Fota Wildlife Park is seeking public help in naming its latest arrival, a three- week-old male tapir.
He is the first calf of parents Maya and Bazil and the first Brazilian Tapir born at the Cork Wildlife Park since 2006. His birth is part of a breeding programme for this vulnerable species.
The parents have a multi-cultural relationship, with Maya coming from Lodz in Poland and Bazil from Curragh Wildlife Park in the Isle of Man in 2012.
“We are delighted with the birth of this little tapir calf that seems very active already in the few days he has been outside,” said Stephen Ryan of Fota Wildlife Park.
The calf has a striking coat of pale spots and stripes on a reddish brown background to camouflage it in the wild.
To gain public interest in the Brazilian Tapirs whose population has been decreasing in the wild, the park is running a competition to name him.
“We are sure they will come up with another great name following on from the suggestions of Rog the cheetah, Shay Gibbon, Zedward the zebra and Fada the giraffe in the past,” said Mr Ryan.
A relative of the primate horse and rhinoceros, the Brazilian tapir is one of four species of tapir in the world. It can weigh up to 250kg, is 2m long and has a flexible snout that helps collect food.
Tapir comes from the Brazilian word for “thick”, which is a reference to its tough skin. The tapir inhabits the rainforests of South America and lives near water which it uses to escape from predators such as jaguars, pumas and anacondas.
You can suggest a name for the tapir calf via the park’s website. The winning suggestion will win a Wild Experience at the park where they will spend time with the head warden behind the scenes.
All-diabetic Novo Nordisk team to compete in An Post Rás
The Novo team travel to the race on a mission to represent millions of diabetics worldwide via the five type 1 diabetic riders on the team, including Irishman Daragh Campbell, from Drogheda (right picture) arrowed.
The race will total almost 1,200 kilometres in length and will include 21 categorised climbs.
The Team Novo Nordisk development squad and Team Idea have been confirmed for An Post Rás including an Irishman
Team Idea last year notched up a number of placings.
The 2015 An Post Rás will begin in Dunboyne on 17 May and will feature stage finishes in Carlow, Tipperary, Bearna, Newport, Ballina, Ballinamore, Drogheda and Skerries.
It will total almost 1,200 kilometres in length and will include 21 categorised climbs.
Scientists have found a planet the size of Jupiter orbiting a star?
Scientists are at a bit of a loss after finding a giant exoplanet orbiting a small cool star some 500 light years away.
While the discovery itself is exciting, it is now challenging ideas about how planets are made.
The planet is thought to be about the same size as Jupiter – the largest planet in our solar system.
“We have found a small star, with a giant planet the size of Jupiter, orbiting very closely,” said researcher George Zhou from the Research School of Astrophysics and Astronomy at The Australian National University.
“It must have formed further out and migrated in, but our theories can’t explain how this happened.”
In the past two decades more than 1,800 extrasolar planets (or exoplanets) have been discovered outside our solar system orbiting around other stars.
Artist’s impression of the exoplanet around the star Hats-6 (ANU)
To understand what an exoplanet is, imagine you’re sat outside with your back to the Sun. When a cloud goes in front of the sun and it gets a bit darker and cooler you know what’s happening without necessarily having to turn around.
Spotting exoplanets is a bit like this. The scientists are looking at stars and when they see an interruption to its light they know something has passed in front of the star.
The host star of the latest exoplanet, HATS-6, is classed as an M-dwarf. Although they are common, M-dwarf stars are not well understood. Because they are cool they are also dim, making them difficult to study.
The new planet could be the size of Jupiter, seen in this artist’s impression in the distance being orbited by one of its moons, Ganymede (NASA/ESA)
As a comparison, Hats-6 emits only one twentieth of the light of our sun, but the planet was still spotted in the same way.
The give away that the faint star had a planet circling it was a dip in its brightness caused as the planet passed in front of the star. It observed by small robotic telescopes including telescopes at the ANU Siding Spring Observatory.
Follow up observations were made using both the world’s largest telescopes, the Magellan Telescope in Chile while amateur astronomer TG Tan helped out the university from his backyard in Perth.
“The planet has a similar mass to Saturn, but its radius is similar to Jupiter, so it’s quite a puffed up planet. Because its host star is so cool it’s not heating the planet up so much, it’s very different from the planets we have observed so far,” Zhou said.