News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Wednesday 1st July 2015

Former Finance Minister McCreevy not saying whether a property bubble existed

 

Charlie McCreevy has denied that he was reckless with the public finances, and resisted answering whether he thought a property bubble existed in Ireland during the boom.

The former Finance Minister says his record in office has been misrepresented , and he stands by it.

The former Fianna Fáíl TD began his evidence at the Banking Inquiry this afternoon with a vigorous defence of his record running the country’s finances.

“Since the recent national downturn, critics are suggesting that we should not have spent all of this money,” he said.

“If we had spent less, it would have meant larger budget surpluses. Some of us have gone on to say we should have built up further rainy day funds … are these people for real?”

However, the inquiry went into private session for some time after the former minister was accused of failing to answer questions.

Mr McCreevy would not give a direct answer when he was asked if he thought Ireland had experienced a property bubble.

The former minister said he wouldn’t answer questions that didn’t relate to his time in office – to the frustration of Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty.

“You are avoiding answering a very simple question which is very relevant,” Doherty said.

After being reminded of his legal obligations by the inquiry chairman, Ciaran Lynch, McCreevy responded that he did not believe there was a property bubble “during my time”, and said he did not believe his policies had fuelled it.

On-the-spot fines for dangerous cyclists to be introduced

Minister says fines will come in this month and crack down on cycling on footpaths

    

Bike-users will soon be faced with on-the-spot fines for dangerous cycling on footpaths, according to the Minister for Transport Paschal Donohue

Kirstin Campbell

Bike-users will soon be faced with on-the-spot fines for dangerous cycling on footpaths, according to the Minister for Transport Paschal Donohue.

The new fixed fine penalties for reckless cycling are expected to come into effect by late July this year.

Prior to the new fine system, dangerous cyclists would have received a court summons for carrying out any of 36 different cycling offences.

The fines will be enforced by An Garda Síochána, following the update of the PULSE system for the cycling offences.

Mr Donohue acknowledged certain circumstances in which some cyclists may use footpaths due to road traffic, but said that would be left up to the discretion of gardaí.

“I don’t want to move to a situation where any kind of an adult feels they can’t be on a footpath, for example when they might be taking their kids to school,” the minister said on RTÉ Radio.

“What I do want to see change, and we are going to make that change, is where people are cycling dangerously on a footpath at risk to themselves and other people”.

The minister also announced on Wednesday the free use of leap cards for children between July 6th and 19th on any form of public transport where the card is accepted, following the recent sale of the one millionth leap card.

Men lose ability to think rationally around beautiful women

 

Research in China has shown that attractive women are able to manipulate men into making unfair deals by clouding their judgement. Should men never do business with a beautiful woman?

A long story

If your brain turns to mush around beautiful women rest assured, it’s a scientific inevitability.

In a study at Zhejiang University in China, published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, 21 male students looked at 300 photographs of women — half had  been classified by another group of men as attractive, half as unattractive.

The participants then played a computer game where they had to come to do a financial deal with the women in the pictures, splitting a small sum of pretend money.

Researchers found that the men were much more likely to accept an offer from the ‘attractive’ women and accepted unfair offers far more readily. They also accepted a fair offer from an attractive woman faster.

Scans of the hapless males’ brains showed greater activity in the reward areas of the brain when they dealt with ‘attractive’ women and more sensitivity to the areas of the brain that deal with dissatisfaction when an unfair offer was table by a woman rated as ‘unattractive.’

Interestingly, the men realized that they would never meet any of the women when playing the game but still bent over backwards to please those they found more attractive.

This isn’t the first study to demonstrate how powerless men are in the presence of female beauty.

A recent study from University College London and the University of Bristol, quoted in the Huffington Post, found that men donate more generously to charity when the fundraisers are attractive women. Interestingly, women didn’t show the same pattern with attractive men.

So the next time you are faced with a beautiful woman over the boardroom table, maybe it’d be best to take a cold shower before you sign anything.

Own The Conversation

Ask The Big Question: Do men have a crucial Achilles heel when it comes to doing business with women?

Disrupt Your Feed: Men are so easy to manipulate, they really shouldn’t be allowed to do business at all.

A study in Finland showed that better looking political candidates of both sexes did 20 percent better than those candidates rated as less attractive.

Former ghost estate turned into homes for people on housing list

 

The development in Dublin 13 was officially opened today.

The housing charity CLÚID took over a ghost estate on Dublin’s Northside over six years ago and they have now refurbished over 200 units there.

Speaking at the official opening today Karen Kennedy from Clúid said, “When we first visited this development over six years ago, there were high rates of anti-social behaviour, rubbish was piled up on the streets, and there were derelict buildings everywhere.

“Today, almost all the properties are occupied, houses have been turned into homes, and there is a growing sense of community everywhere you look.”

Resident Helen Maguire said: ‘I am just beyond happy.

Before moving here, me and my son were living in a one bed emergency accommodation hotel room. My landlord moved back into the property I was living in and I had been extremely anxious ever since. We were totally unsettled.

“Having a long-term lease is a massive relief for me. The service Clúid provides is very reassuring and I always have a point of contact when I need one. The whole process has been life-changing for me. Belmayne is my home now.”

Transformation 

In 2009, Clúid partnered with two other Approved Housing Bodies to purchase 75 complete but unsold dwellings. At the same time, Dublin City Council purchased 59 units and appointed Clúid as management agent.

In 2014, Clúid signed a lease agreement with NARPS for a further 125 properties.

Belmayne is located in an area of Dublin with a high demand for all types of housing, so Clúid proposed a mixed tenure community that would cater for people with a range of needs and incomes.

60% of the 125 units acquired in 2014 are social rented dwellings for people on Dublin City Council’s housing waiting list.

Of these, one third is reserved for people who have experienced homelessness. The remaining 40% are let at market rents to those who can afford to pay a higher rent.

Karen Kennedy commented: “We are absolutely delighted to be providing long-term housing for people on the social housing waiting list in this area.

“Belmayne has been transformed from an underutilised, unfinished development into a thriving community.”

Plankton found with human-like eye

   

The miniature multi-cellular eye is similar to that of humans, scientists have discovered

A single-celled blob of marine plankton has evolved a miniature multi-cellular eye similar to that of humans, scientists have discovered.

The “ocelloid” so surprised researchers that originally they mistook it for the eye of an animal the organism had eaten.

Lead scientist Greg Gravelis, from the University of British Columbia in Canada, said: ” It’s an amazingly complex structure for a single-celled organism to have evolved.

“It contains a collection of sub-cellular organelles that look very much like the lens, cornea, iris and retina of multicellular eyes found in humans and other larger animals.”

Experts are still not sure exactly how the plankton organisms, called warnowiids, use the eye. They are known to employ harpoon-like structures to hunt plankton prey, which is often transparent.

One theory is that the eye helps warnowiids to detect shifts of light passing through the bodies of their prey, showing them in which direction to hunt.

Dr Brian Leander, also from the University of British Columbia, said: “The internal organisation of the retinal component of the ocelloid is reminiscent of the polarising filters on the lenses of cameras and sunglasses. It has hundreds of closely packed membranes lined up in parallel.”

The researchers collected samples of warnowiids off the coasts of British Columbia and Japan and used a 3D microscope technique to analyse the eye-like structure.

The study, reported in the journal Nature, sheds light on how very different forms of life can develop similar traits in response to their environments, a process called convergent evolution.

“When we see such similar structural complexity at fundamentally different levels of organisation in lineages that are very distantly related, then you get a much deeper understanding of convergence,” said Dr. Leander.

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