News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Friday 31st July 2015

Irish house prices to rise the most in the euro zone

S&P predictions says

  

Annual growth of 9% will see Ireland outpace UK, Germany and Portugal.

S&P is predicting property price growth of 9% for 2015 for Ireland, after which it said that growth should slow to a “calmer” rate of 5% in 2016 and 3% in 2017.

Ireland’s housing market will experience the highest price rises across the Eurozone in 2015 , Standard & Poor’s said on Thursday, as it predicts that house price growth will stay “relatively robust” over the medium term.

The ratings agency is predicting price growth of 9% for 2015 for Ireland, after which it said that growth should slow to a “calmer” rate of 5%  in 2016 and 3% in 2017. Given that it will be “some time” before the mismatch in supply and demand is rectified, S&P said it sees house price growth staying “relatively robust over the medium term”.

However, it pointed to emerging “signs of a deceleration”, particularly in Dublin, with prices in the capital remaining flat in the seven months to May.

“This in our view reflects an adjustment in house-price expectations by households, after the Irish Central Bank introduced stricter controls on mortgage lending,” S&P said, as it added that these restrictions will likely to continue to temper the recovery going forward.

With annual price growth of 9% in 2015, S&P said that Irish property price growth will outpace that in Germany (5%); Portugal (4%); and the Netherlands (3%). Spanish house prices will return to growth (by 2.5%) from their deep fall since the financial crisis, and Italian prices will also start to recover this year. Ireland’s property recovery will also outpace the UK, with S&P expecting house price inflation of 7% in the UK, and a soft landing for Switzerland, with price growth of just 1.5%.

BOI to acquire a stake in Lloyds €1.2bn property sale

The sale of commercial loans will leave Lloyds with ‘minimal’ exposure to Irish assets

  

The sale of the assets will leave Lloyds with ‘minimal exposure’ to Irish commercial assets the bank said.

UK bank Lloyds is to sell a portfolio of impaired Irish commercial loans to a group of investors including Bank of Ireland for about £827 million (€1.2bn). The sale, which is expected to close by the end of the year, will reduce the banking group’s exposure to Irish commercial assets to less than £30m.

The consortium also includes Ennis Property Finance, an entity affiliated to Goldman Sachs and Feniton Property Finance, an entity affiliated to CarVal, a private equity group.

Bank of Ireland will acquire a portfolio of approximately € 200m performing commercial loans, comprising over 650 customers in the SME and CRE sectors.

Mark Cunningham, director of Bank of Ireland Business Banking, said that the acquisitions demonstrates the bank’s “ongoing focus on further growing and developing our strong position in serving the business banking sector in Ireland”.

The value of the assets in the portfolio is £2.6bn, of which £2.3 bn were impaired. In the year to December 31st 2014 the portfolio generated pre-tax losses of about €130m.

In a statement, Lloyds said that it would use the proceeds for general corporate purposes and the transaction is not expected to have a material impact on the group but will be capital accretive.

Lloyds first announced its exit from the Irish market in 2010, when it pulled its loss-making subsidiary Bank of Scotland (Ireland). The bank said that the latest sale of the assets is in line with its strategy of “deleveraging its balance sheet by reducing run off assets and creating a low risk, UK focused bank”. The sale of the assets will reduce the banking group’s impaired loans as a percentage of closing advances to 2.2% and reduce provisions as a percentage of impaired loans to 48.3%.

Last December, Lloyds sold a £1.6bn portfolio of Irish buy-to-let residential and commercial mortgages to Goldman Sachs and Carval.

Ireland to become a global leader in climate-smart agriculture

     

Respondents to a new survey believe that better fertiliser use, and more research and innovation and optimized land use can help Ireland become a global leader in climate-smart agriculture.

Ireland can be become a global leader in climate-smart agriculture, according to 86% of respondents to a new survey due to be released later today at a leadership forum on climate-smart agriculture in the RDS.

The survey was conducted by the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) and the RDS, with the support of Glanbia Ingredients Ireland (GII), Diageo, and other private and public sector partners.

The survey reached a national and international sample of experts and industry stakeholders. Over four-fifths, or 86%, of respondents from the national sample, which included non-government organisations (NGOs), government, agri-business, researchers and farmers, said establishing Irish leadership on climate-smart agriculture could directly benefit the agri-food sector.

Boosting Exports

However, with the government aiming to boost the value of our agri-food exports by 85% to €19 billion over the next decade, 80% of respondents from the national sample said meeting these objectives is made challenging by our EU obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The respondents were also very clear on the domestic action required to establish Ireland as a global leader on climate-smart agriculture. They identified better use of fertiliser, boosting research and innovation, and optimising land use as among the most important success factors.

Almost nine out of 10, or 87%, said economically and environmentally optimising our land resource, between dairy, beef, tillage and forestry, is a key climate-smart strategy.

Tom Arnold, the IIEA’s Director General, said: “We hope that the climate-smart agriculture leadership forum will catalyse new thinking on climate-smart agriculture, with a shift towards more sustainable environmental and economic solutions for an industry whose scale is domestic and global.”

Seán Molloy, GII’s Director of Strategy and Supplier Relations, said: “Ireland’s agri-food sector is strong, and GII’s commitment to quality of source ingredients, security of supply, and sustainability are key components of our customer value proposition.”

“Already, GII’s pasture-based family farming method of dairying produces a highly sustainable range of quality ingredients. We have prioritised sustainability as a key business focus in our Open Source Sustainability and Quality Assurance Code,” added Molloy.

The IIEA – RDS leadership forum on climate-smart agriculture will take place at 2.30pm today (Thursday) in the RDS, Dublin.

Varadkar to seek assurances that pancreas transplant programme will start in September 2015

  

The Health Minister Leo Varadkar says he has been assured by both Beaumont and Vincent’s Hospitals that they will have a pancreas transplant programme in place by September this year.

A petition was handed in to Beaumont Hospital today calling for patients awaiting pancreas transplants not to be abandoned.

The transplant programme has been suspended since the retirement of Dr David Hickey, and the hospital is now in the process of appointing a new consultant to carry out the procedure.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar said he would meet the key partners over the next few days.

“There is obviously a concern out there so I’m going to seek assurances that it’s going to happen,” Minister Varadkar said.

Here are 5 reasons you definitely should not sleep in your make up?

   

We’re all guilty of stumbling in from a night out and falling asleep with a full face of make up on (and probably fully clothed) now and again… but how much damage is it really doing to our skin?

We got the low down from some skincare experts. And you’ll probably never wear sleep in your foundation again.

  1. It stops the natural renewal process.

“An extra layer of make-up left for a night stops a natural renewal process, which can result in dull and patchy skin. In the morning, pores might be blocked, as our skin was producing sebum all night and it hasn’t been removed. Blocked pores very often turn into spots, so sleeping in make up can cause break outs in the long term,” says Sonja Dymalovski from What Skin Needs.

  1. You’ll get spots and fine lines will look worse.

Shahana Rahman of MyChelle Dermaceuticals warns: “Sleeping in your make up can result in unnecessary exposure to free radicals in the environment, which the make up will then hold on to. This can not only heighten the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles but it can also clog up pores and cause your skin to break out.”

  1. It’ll be even more harmful if you already have problem skin.

“Sleeping in make-up can be particularly troublesome for those with problematic skin types or topical conditions such as acne, eczema etc,” Rahman says. “By not washing and cleansing your face you can increase inflammation and also open your pores to allergy inducing bacteria.”

  1. It will break down collogen and age you faster.

Kelita Bignall, founder of Yours Truly Organics, says: “When the makeup gets into you’re pores it can make them appear larger and cause inflammation.  The combination of blocked and inflamed pores can generate free radicals which break down the collagen which naturally occurs in your skin. The effects of this is that your skin can age much faster.”

  1. The more you make up in bed, the more damage you’ll do.

Maxine Flint, co-owner of Flint Plus Flint skincare, says: “Our skin, is like the rest of us, it functions on the periodic rhythm. At night, the skin’s most important function is to renew its cells. Wearing make up which clogs pores and the surface of the skin prevents this process, causing damage to the skin.

“It is true that the more often you sleep with your make up on, the more damage your skin will sustain over a period of time, however wearing make-up while sleeping just once or twice can have negative effects on your skin.”

Meet the extinct fly recently discovered (alive!) on a Devon nature reserve

   

In a world where humanity seems intent on systematically wiping out every other living thing on the planet, there has been a small glimmer of hope for wildlife – in the form of a fly called Rhaphium pectinatum.

Because this particular fly – thought to have died out 150 years ago just turned up alive on a nature reserve in Devon.

When and where did we last record a living Rhaphium pectinatum fly?

Richmond, today one of the leafier parts of London,

The last known recording of the Rhaphium pectinatum fly was on July 19 1868 when the renowned Victorian entomologist George Verrall caught a male and female at Richmond upon Thames, then in Surrey.

After that naturalists assumed the fly had become extinct.

Where did the fly reappear and who found it?

Then, 147 years later and 150 miles away, the Rhaphium pectinatum turned up again at the Devon Wildlife Trust’s Old Sludge Beds nature reserve, near Exeter.

The remarkable discovery was made by expert naturalist Rob Wolton who is a member of the Devon Fly Group and the Dipterists Forum which specialises in the study of flies.

Wolton said: “I took a recent trip to Devon Wildlife Trust’s Old Sludge Beds nature reserve on the outskirts of Exeter specifically to look for flies.

“Imagine my surprise when I examined my catch that evening to find it included a fly that was presumed extinct in Britain, not having been seen for 147 years.

“Definitely one to add to the list of Devon specialities.”

What do we know about the fly?

Little is known about the handsome, metallic green coloured fly, apart from that it is part of the family dolichopodidae, a group which is known as long-legged flies.

Most members of the family live in tropical areas of the world.

“Nothing is known about its biology, but it seems that it may like brackish conditions like those found at the Old Sludge Beds, and may even be associated with the extensive tidal reed beds nearby at the head of the Exe estuary,” said Wolton.

So could this resurrected fly be the Messiah?

No. But – as Rob Wolton is quick to point out that neither is he a very naughty boy.

“To most people, the only good fly is a dead one,” he said. “Only a tiny proportion of the flies in Britain are pests, while many are important for pollination and for ensuring efficient recycling of the nutrients in dead plant material.

“And they are an important part of the food web – many of our birds rely on them. Without flies, there would be no swallows, and not many bats.

“Nor, incidentally, would we have any chocolate – the cacao tree is pollinated by midges, a kind of fly.”

Would you trust a spray-on condom?

A New York-based student Michele Chu has developed a ‘condom in a can’, using the same technology as spray-on bandages. But just how reliable would this liquid latex be?

  

Michele Chu, a student at the Pratt Institute in New York, is leading a sexual revolution. Her latest innovation, a spray-on latex condom dubbed ‘Girlplay’, is “changing the whole experience of love-making”.

Pitched as the perfect prophylactic for busy, modern couples, Girlplay, it is claimed, can be sprayed directly onto the penis and will take only two minutes to dry. Previous attempts to break into the spray-on condom market – such as one launched in 2006 by Jan Vinzenz Krause – flopped due to the extensive, passion-killing length of time they took to ‘set’.

  • Five reasons why the male pill isn’t coming any time soon

Worryingly, no information has yet been offered about how to remove the sheath after use – nor has Chu assured her potential buyers of the condom’s 100 per cent safety.

But to dispel any qualms and assure potential customers of her utmost professionalism, Chu has unveiled additional products in her Girlplay range, including the world’s first ‘smartbra’.

The smartbra’s sales pitch evokes Roger Moore-era James Bond gadgets – it comes with a remote control that can “unhook the smartbra with just the touch of a button”.

But whilst some of the products in the Girlplay range are just for fun, Chu sees real potential in her ‘condom in a can’. “These spray-on condoms are made for the perfect fit, and function like spray-on bandages in the marketplace today,” she says. Whether they will become commercially available remains to be seen.

The demand for ever more safe and sustainable condom technology has been on the rise in recent years. In 2013, a company from San Diego named Apex Medical Technologies won a $100,000 grant for their invention of an environmentally friendly sheath. Questionably, it was woven from reconstituted bovine tendons sourced from a Chinese supermarket.

  • Sustainable, invisible, indestructible: introducing the super condom

Other breakthroughs include the University of Oregon’s heat-activated, “shape-memory” designs and a self-lubricating condom developed by the Boston Medical Center – coated with ” “super-hydrophilic nanoparticles”.

One of the benefits of a spray-on condom, like Chu’s, is that it eliminates the need for different ‘sizes’. So unfortunate men would no longer have to suffer the embarrassment of buying XS small condoms (which are, sorrowfully, a thing).

Chu is continuing to refine her design, and hopes that the Girlplay range will be on sale within the year.

Blue moon, 2nd full moon in July, will arrive early tomorrow morning

2nd full moon in a calendar month occurs once every 2½ years on average

    

A United Airlines passenger plane crosses the waning gibbous moon, one day after a full moon on July 2, in Whittier, Calif. There are two full moons this month.

An astronomical phenomenon that occurs once in a blue moon is happening early Friday morning — a blue moon.

For the second time in July, skywatchers will be able to look up to a full moon. Here are six things you need to know about the lunar event with a somewhat misleading name.

What is a blue moon?

Whenever there are two full moons in a calendar month, the second one is called a “blue moon,” according to popular definition. The first full moon this month appeared on July 2, and a second one — the “blue” one — is happening Friday. While the moon will rise just before sunset Thursday, it wont be full until 6:43 a.m.

Is the blue moon actually blue?

Most blue moons will look pale gray and white, just like on any other night.

“Squeezing a second full moon into a calendar month doesn’t change its colour,” NASA says.

However, the moon can turn blue on rare occasions, such as a volcanic eruption, NASA says.

In 1883, for example, people saw blue moons almost every night after the Indonesian volcano Krakatoa exploded. The culprit was the plumes from the eruption, which were filled with particles one micron wide. Particles of this size act like light filters and scatter red light, allowing blue light to pass through.

In a similar fashion, forest fires — which produce smoke with micron-sized particles — can also affect the way we see the moon. NASA recalled a famous incident in September 1953 when a muskeg fire burned in Alberta. Clouds of smoke containing micron-sized oil droplets made the sun look lavender and the moon blue from North America to England.

The moon could also look red, thanks to the abundance of aerosols in the atmosphere which scatter blue light, allowing red light to go through, NASA says.

“For this reason, red blue moons are far more common than blue blue moons,” according to NASA.

Why is it called a blue moon if it’s not blue?

The popular definition of blue moon came about after a writer for Sky & Telescope magazine in 1946 misinterpreted the Maine Farmer’s Almanac and labelled a blue moon as the second full moon in a month. In fact, the almanac defined a blue moon as the third full moon in a season with four full moons, not the usual three. Though Sky & Telescope corrected the error decades later, the definition caught on.

How often does a blue moon happen?

Most years have 12 full moons. A blue moon, however, occurs every 2½ years on average.

The last blue moon appeared in August 2012. The next blue moon will not happen until January 2018.

What’s the blue moon’s importance?

Blue moons have no astronomical significance, says Greg Laughlin, an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

“Blue moon is just a name in the same sense as a ‘hunter’s moon’ or a ‘harvest moon,'” Laughlin previously told The Associated Press.

“It’s not blue. It’s not even rare,” astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson said on Twitter on Wednesday.

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