News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Friday 26th June 2015

Enda Kenny says a deal on Greece crisis still possible at weekend talks

If deal signed-off by finance ministers bailout could be extended, says Taoiseach


British prime minister David Cameron, speaks to Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Angela Merkel during a round table meeting at an EU summit in Brussels and right photo Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.

Greece will get an extension of its current bailout for another six months if agreement can be reached with the euro zone finance ministers tomorrow, according to Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Speaking to journalists at the end of the EU leaders’ summit in Brussels, he said time was running very short but a solution could still be found if there was proper engagement.

He said the EU Commission, the European Central Bankand the International Monetary Fund had undertaken to consider the latest set of proposals.

Mr Kenny said if there was agreement and it was signed off on by the euro zone finance ministers it meant there could be an extension of the current programme for six months.

“It shows the willingness of the institutions and everybody else to accommodate the proposals that have come in from Greece,” he said

Hr Kenny said at the meeting of EU leaders he had told them of the Irish experience and how “our focus was on ending instability and creating growth and providing opportunities for jobs” as a way out of the crisis.

“It was not a case of me telling him (Alexis Tsipras) what happened in our case and saying you have to do the same but saying what we did and how we were able to exit the bailout.”

The Taoiseach said he had pointed to the damage the current instability was causing and how that was impacting on the ordinary people of Greece.

“So I do hope that measures can emerge to deal with that and I spoke to the prime minister about that,” he added.

Mr Kenny also spoke about the briefing British prime minister David Cameron gave to the summit about his plans for an in/out referendum on EU membership.

“He gave a very brief outline of his proposals for reform before that referendum takes place. He did say that this was the start of a process and the ship was launched. He did talk to individual countries and individual governments and he hopes to have a more complete report by December. He recognises that agreement will take a great deal of work.”

The Taoiseach said Mr Cameron’s contribution had been short and to the point.

Mr Kenny said Ireland would have a problem around any proposals that involved changes in EU treaties.

“I think there would be serious difficulty about this for a number of other countries and not just Ireland.”

He added the solution might just well be what happened in the case of Ireland when it had problems with EU treaties. A legally binding attachment to the next treaty that might come along that might come along.

“He is very conscious of that himself,” said the Taoisaech.

He added that if the question was to open the treaties for further treaty change on an issue like this, there would be 95 per cent opposition.

Mr Kenny added, however, that aside from treaty changes Ireland would be constructive and supportive.

“We will obviously wait and see what comes of the technical work. We will have a better idea of what is involved when the issue comes on the council agenda for the December meeting,” said Mr Kenny.

On the issue of migration which was supposed to be the main focus of the summit Mr Kenny said the entire meeting had been impacted on by the Greek situation.

“So the discussion that took place on migration which might have been difficult in its own right.”

He added it had been agreed to rebalance the EU approach to migration and agreement between member states on a voluntary relocation plan.

It was agreed to help 60,000 people, 40,000 through relocation and 20,000 in resettlement.

Mr Kenny pointed out Ireland had an opt-out along with the UK and Denmark but would consider what we could do to help.

“At our meeting we also resolved to do more to address the factors that drive people to risk their lives to arrive inEurope. People are coming in from west Africa, from the horn of Africa and also through Libya, ” he said.

Mr Kenny also said he had expressed condolences and sympathies to president François Hollande and the French people about the appalling events that had taken place today.

Connemara Mining company identifies possible gold source in Co. Donegal


Irish exploration company Connemara Mining has identified a target area for more detailed investigations after finding material with gold values in Donegal.

In a statement published today the firm said that it has finished the first phase of prospecting on its newly acquired Inishowen block in Donegal.

The company said that quartz vein material with gold values in excess of 15 grams per tonne have been traced to a possible nearby source area.

Follow up work will now include a soil sampling programme to further refine the target and will be followed by an initial trenching programme and a later drilling programme, if justified.

Chairman John Teeling said: “This is an exciting time for Connemara, and Irish minerals exploration. The Ulster gold play was unlocked with previous discoveries in Tyrone and Monaghan.

“We believe that this geology extends from Donegal into central Scotland. It is early days but initial results seem to confirm our working model.”

Irish water bill amendments will bring some ‘clarity’, says Minister Coffey


The Minister of State at the Department of the Environment Paudie Coffey above left.

Paudie Coffey fails to confirm whether tenants face eviction if they do not pay water bill

Irish Water provisions, which ensure a house cannot be sold until charges are paid, have been introduced to bring “clarity and certainty for landlords and tenants”, according to a Minister of State Paudie Coffey.

The Minister of State at the Department of the Environment described claims that tenants who don’t pay their Irish Water bills could face eviction as “scaremongering” on the part of the opposition.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Coffey said the amendments to the bill had been introduced to create a method of enforcement “to ensure that those who are not compliant and are refusing to pay, that they do pay”.

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly has introduced 33 pages of amendments to the Environment Miscellaneous Provisions Bill.

It contains a number of changes, including the setting up of a database for the water conservation grant and provisions to ensure a house can’t be sold until the charges are paid. The Bill also obliges local authority tenants to pay their water charges.

Mr Coffey failed to confirm whether tenants would be evicted if they did not pay their bill, saying payment was “a matter for the landlord and tenant as is the case in any contract situation for tenancy”.

Asked if the landlord would have to pay if the tenant failed to do so, he said the owner of the property would be responsible for discharging any unpaid bills before selling the home.

“We want to see people compliant with the law and we don’t want to see people ending up in trouble and that’s why we’re making measures that we feel are fair and bring certainty to the whole area.”

Mr. Coffey said users who applied for the Water Conservation Grant worth €100 before June 30th could expect to receive the money “before the end of this year”.

He also said an independent test due to be carried out by Eurostat, the EU statistics agency, was imminent and would take place in the “next few weeks or possibly months at the latest”.

Mr Coffey said he was unaware of how many people had actually paid their water bill so far, adding that it was a matter for Irish Water to respond to.

“I understand there’s a board meeting due to happen next week… and I would encourage them to publish the payment figures then.

People before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett said earlier this week the amendments to the bill were “desperate, devious and discriminatory”and were aimed at undermining the national movement against water charges.

German Shepard dog given award for saving a diabetic owner’s life

Looby Loo came to the rescue!


They say dogs are man’s best friend and one devoted German Shepherd proved to be even more than that to her sick owner.

Rescue dog Looby Loo saved the life of Toby Snow when he fell desperately ill and is now being awarded a PDSA Commendation, which recognises outstanding acts of devotion by pets.

When the 57-year-old was slipping into a diabetic coma in his bedroom, Looby Loo barked and whined until she woke his partner, Mary Friend.

The dog’s persistence in waking Mary who went on to dial 999 at their home in Westham, near Eastbourne, East Sussex in England prevented Toby from facing further danger.

Without his nine-year-old pet’s help in raising the alarm, Toby said he dreaded to think what would have happened to him.

Mary, 55, said: “I knew straight away that Toby was slipping into a hypoglycaemic coma as he was barely conscious and unable to move.

“I tried to increase Toby’s sugar levels with fizzy drinks and glucose tablets but I knew that it was vital to call 999 for urgent assistance.”

Paramedics then arrived to put Toby on a glucose drip and waited for his sugar levels to rise. And as he came round he remembered Looby Loo licking him.

Toby said: “I will be forever grateful to our wonderful dog for what she did that night. She was a true friend and her actions definitely helped me out of a very sticky spot.”

Richard Hooker, director of veterinary services at the PDSA, said: “Looby Loo is a very special pet and her total devotion to Toby is plain to see.”

BlackBerry are planning to launch a bacteria-free smartphone


Canadian smartphone maker Blackberry announced a cut in the prices of its latest handsets for existing enterprise customers.

BlackBerry may design a bacteria-free smartphone as it bids to become the secure mobile choice for the health-care industry, CEO John Chen said.

“Health-care workers have to be worried about one less thing to wipe down” with a bacteria-free handset, Chen told reporters at a hospital north of Toronto where BlackBerry unveiled a clinical alerts pilot project. Chen said BlackBerry is not developing the clean phone yet.

The Canadian mobile manufacturer is partnering with Thought Wire and Cisco Systems Inc to provide nurses and doctors in a Mackenzie Richmond Hill Hospital unit with a portable messaging and alert system. BlackBerry will be providing the software and devices. It wouldn’t disclose how much it’s spending on the project.

Transfer of infections and bacteria between patients in hospitals is a “huge issue,” said Dr. Aviv Gladman, chief medical information officer at Mackenzie Health. Medical equipment in patient rooms, including mobile phones, can carry bacteria through the hospital, he said.

Gladman said medical professionals are supposed to wipe their phone with alcohol before entering and exiting a patient’s room. A study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology found that about 20% to 30% of germs transfer between a phone and a fingertip.

Hospitals don’t know how effective alcohol wipes are at removing bacteria from phones and medical professionals don’t always wipe, he said. Gladman said hospital-acquired infections are one of the top reasons patients die in hospital.

BlackBerry, based in Waterloo, Ontario, has switched its focus to high-security software as it has struggled to compete with Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd as a device manufacturer.

Here’s what rats can dream about?


We’ve probably all had dreams about food… and apparently rats do too.

Researchers from University College London (UCL) studied sleeping rats and found when they were shown food in an unreachable location they displayed activity in their nervous system that indicated they were fantasising about successful foraging missions.

The scientist cannot be 100% sure the rats were dreaming but the evidence points that way and if true, the discovery further narrows the gap between humans and other animals by showing that rodents possess an ability to imagine future events.

The findings also shed light on why people who have suffered damage to the hippocampus, the brain’s memory centre, find it hard to contemplate the future.

Lead scientist Dr Hugo Spiers said: “During exploration, mammals rapidly form a map of the environment in their hippocampus.

“During sleep or rest, the hippocampus replays journeys through this map which may help strengthen the memory.

“It has been speculated that such replay might form the content of dreams.

“Whether or not rats experience this brain activity as dreams is still unclear, as we would need to ask them to be sure.

“Our new results show that during rest, the hippocampus also constructs fragments of a future yet to happen.

“Because the rat and human hippocampus are similar, this may explain why patients with damage to their hippocampus struggle to imagine future events.”

In the experiment, four rats were allowed to run along a T-junction track and see food being placed in an inaccessible arm.

Another arm of the track contained no food.

The animals were then placed in a sleep chamber for an hour.

Electrode implants in the rats’ brains showed that as they slept, mapping nerve cells representing the route to the food were active.


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