News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Monday 31st August 2015

The Right-2-Water warns Irish Government that demonstrations will continue despite Alan Kelly’s stance


Right-2-Water protestors have warned the Irish Government that the campaign against the charges will continue after tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in the fifth major demonstration against the utility.

Among them were 23 protesters facing charges over incidents in Jobstown, Tallaght in Dublin last November when Tánaiste Joan Burton was forced to remain in her car for more than two hours after being prevented from leaving a graduation ceremony.

The Right2Water group, which organised the weekend march in Dublin, estimated about 80,000 protesters turned out.

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald urged the Government to use the October Budget to abolish the charges and described Irish Water as “one fiasco after the other”.

Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) TD Paul Murphy said the demonstration showed the Government was “on the run” over water charges. Mr Murphy also said his organisation had been denied Garda permission for a collection in his Dublin South West constituency on grounds that it would “encourage an illegal act”.

Paul Murphy, and one of those expecting to be charged over the Jobstown protest, claimed that if the Government does not “bow to the inevitable” and abolish water charges the next government will be under immense pressure to do so.

Trade unions affiliated to the campaign like Unite, the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union, Mandate, the Communications Workers Union, the Civil Public and Services Union and Opatsi, the plasterers’ union also said they are now planning town hall meetings to gather more support.

Meanwhile, senior Gardaí in Cork are to conduct the internal Garda investigation into whether or not reports regarding water protest charges resulted from information emanating from within the force.

Chief Superintendent Mick Finn and Detective Superintendent John Healy have been tasked by commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan with the inquiry.

Tens of thousands attend water charges protest in Dublin on Saturday last

Demonstrators demand end to Irish Water and ‘bully boy’ tactics of Government


Tens of thousands have attended a demonstration against water charges, organised by the Right2Water campaign in Dublin, having marched from the city’s railway stations and suburbs to congregate at the Spire on O’Connell Street.

Tens of thousands of anti-water charges protesters gathered at a stage at the Spire on O’Connell Street in Dublin on Saturday, after setting off from Heuston and Connolly train stations.

A number of smaller groups also marched in from the suburbs for the demonstration, which was organised by the Right2Water campaign.

The protest was the fifth official Right2Water demonstration.

It was supported by five trade unions, including Mandate, whose president John Douglas said the current Government will attempt to divide the population in the upcoming budget.

“The arrogance and the disrespect for the Irish people in the way Irish Water was set up typifies how rotten this country is,” Mr Douglas said, making his first public appearance at an anti-water charges rally.

“A society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable, and by that test Irelandfails goddamn miserably. This economy, this society is broken- it’s rotten to the core.

“There is no recovery, it’s a bloody myth, they made it up to con us. We know best, we’re the people of Ireland, we know there’s no recovery in Ireland and the only recovery is for the elite few,” he said, adding that people were also mobilising against homelessness and under-investment in the public sector.

In her speech to the protesters, Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald denounced the “bully-boy” tactics of the Government in trying to impose domestic water charges.

However, she said afterwards that her party has not yet decided whether people who haven’t paid their bills should be entitled to receive the €100 conservation grant.

“You can see from the numbers here today that people have not been intimidated or bought off or persuaded that this issue is not important anymore- this still matters a great deal,” she said, before reaffirming Sinn Féin’s stance that refunds on water charges will not be provided if the party gets into government.

“We would not be making rebates to people who have paid the charges, but neither would we be asking for the conservation charge back.

“We’re just being honest with people. The figures have to add up and you have to balance the books.”

Feeder marches

Protesters from across the country arrived at Heuston and Connolly stations earlier this afternoon for feeder marches.

As with previous protests, there were traffic delays along the north and south quays, with O’Connell Street closed to traffic on both lanes and interruptions to bus and Luas services.

Gardaí reported no disturbances.

The organisers of the event vowed to keep up the pressure on Fine Gael and Labour to abolish the controversial utility, but details of follow-up protests in the coming months have not yet been revealed.

Right2Water spokesman David Gibney earlier said that the protest was also about other problems people faced, including access to healthcare, lack of housing and the right to education.

“This demonstration today it is not just about water. This is about the type of society we want to live in and a vision for the future,” he said.

Ireland has 25th-highest life expectancy in the world


The elderly should be cherished Life expectancy is climbing worldwide but we are spending more years living with illness and disability

Ireland has the 25th-highest life expectancy in the world – up from a ranking of 31 in 1990, according to a new global survey.

Life expectancy is climbing worldwide but we are spending more years living with illness and disability.

Countries with the highest life expectancy are Japan, Singapore, Andorra, Iceland, Cyprus and Israel, according to the Global Burden of Disease study, led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.

Life expectancy in Andorra is almost 84 years, while it is 80.4 in Ireland. The UK is ahead of Ireland with people living to 81 years.

Since 1990 Ireland’s life expectancy has improved by around six years, the survey of 189 countries revealed.

People around the world are living longer, even in some of the poorest countries, but a complex mix of fatal and non-fatal ailments cause a tremendous amount of health loss, according to the analysis .

Healthy life expectancy takes into account not just mortality but also the impact of non-fatal conditions and summarises years lived with disability and years lost due to premature death.

The increase in healthy life expectancy has not been as dramatic as the growth of life expectancy, and as a result, people are living more years with illness and disability.

“The world has made great progress in health, but now the challenge is to invest in finding more effective ways of preventing or treating the major causes of illness and disability,” said Professor Theo Vos, the study’s lead author.

The differences between countries with the highest and lowest healthy life expectancies are stark. In 2013, Lesotho had the lowest, at 42 years, and Japan had the highest globally, at 73.4 years.

Even regionally, there is significant variation.

Cambodians and Laotians born in 2013 would have healthy life expectancies of only 57.5 years and 58.1 years, respectively, but people born in nearby Thailand and Vietnam could live nearly 67 years in good health.

The fastest-growing global cause of health loss between 1990 and 2013 was HIV/AIDS, which increased by 341.5%. But this dramatic rise masks progress in recent years.


A brisk daily walk can add seven years to your lifespan


Just about 25 minutes of brisk walking a day can add up to seven years to your life,

London health experts have said.

Research presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress over the weekend shows that regular exercise can reduce ageing and increase the average lifespan.

Sanjay Sharma, professor of inherited cardiac diseases in sports cardiology at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in London, said an average person in their 50s and 60s can reduce the risk of dying from a heart attack by half with moderate exercise.

“This study suggests that when people exercise regularly they may be able to retard the process of ageing,” he said.

“We may never avoid becoming completely old, but we may delay the time we become old. We may look younger when we’re 70 and may live into our 90s.

“Exercise buys you three to seven additional years of life. It is an anti-depressant, it improves cognitive function and there is now evidence that it may retard the onset of dementia.”

He said everyone should be doing at least between 20 and 25 minutes of walking a day, involving brisk walking or slow jogging.

“People with a heart condition shouldn’t run but walk to a point where they can still speak — but they shouldn’t be able to sing. Following these simple directions is essential considering our sedentary lifestyles.”

He said exercise will bring benefits whatever age or condition. People who start exercising at the age of 70 are less likely to go on to develop atrial fibrillation, a rhythm disturbance that affects about 10% of people over 80.

The research was carried out by a team at Saarland University in Germany who introduced a group of non-exercising but otherwise healthy and non-smoking people to a staged exercise programme.

They showed that aerobic exercise, high intensity interval training and strength training all have a positive impact on markers of ageing.

The authors noted that endurance exercise and high intensity exercise may be more efficient than just lifting weights, as they further increase telomerase activity, which in turn helps to repair DNA as it gets old.

They said that by measuring the increase of telomerase activity and decrease of senescence marker p16 (both makers of cellular ageing in the blood) over a six-month period, doctors were able to show that regular exercise had triggered the anti-ageing process.

“The study brings a bit more understanding of why physical activity has that effect. It helps us understand the process of cellular ageing as that’s what drives our organ system and body ageing and the effects physical activity can have on the cellular level,” Christi Deaton, Florence Nightingale Foundation Professor of Clinical Nursing Research at Cambridge Institute of Public Health, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, said.

“The more active you are, and it doesn’t matter when you start, the more benefit you are going to have.”

“A girl’s depression tattoo” marks two perspectives on her secret battle with her mental health condition


A young woman pictured above wanted to show that people who appear fine on the outside may be struggling within themselves on the inside.

Bekah Miles wants her tattoo to start conversations about depression.

A young woman has revealed her struggle with depression by unveiling a heartfelt tattoo that says “I’m fine” to anyone looking at it, but from her perspective, upside down, it says “save me.”

Bekah Miles dreamed up the inking to show the struggle sufferers have in what they show to everyone around them, against what they see themselves.

The 21-year-old came out about her battle on Facebook, posting the pictures alongside an open letter to her parents, explaining why she had the tattoo done.

She wrote: “So today, I got this tattoo. I feel that my leg was the best place for the meaning behind it.

“When everyone else sees it, they see ‘I’m fine’, but from my viewpoint, it reads ‘save me’.

“To me, it means that others see this person that seems okay, but, in reality, is not okay at all.

“It reminds me that people who may appear happy, may be at battle with themselves.”

Bekah says she hopes her tattoo will start a conversation about the often misunderstood condition.

She said: “This forces me to talk about my own struggle, and why the awareness of it is important.”

People who read her letter praised her honesty and recounted their own battles with depression.

One wrote: “You’re a very brave girl – it’s an uphill struggle and I hope you reach a place where you find happiness with somebody you love xxxx.”

The post has since gone viral and has been shared more than 200,000 times.

She added: “I never expected it to go beyond my friends and family. I thought reaching out to them was enough, but I am completely and utterly in awe of how far this has traveled.

“This is exactly what I wanted–to reach out to people and let them know that they are not alone.

“Please keep sharing and spreading the awareness. This is the only way to get some real change in the stigma.”

Bekah’s letter in full

(Dear mom and dad, please don’t kill me over this permanent choice. I want you to hear me out.)

Today, I am coming out with something that only few of you know. I am ready to have a conversation about my mental illness.

Last year, I was diagnosed with depression. And in all honesty, I believe it was a problem for quite a while before that, but I think it just got worse to the point of hardly functioning.

So today, I got this tattoo. I feel that my leg was the best place for the meaning behind it. When everyone else sees it, they see “I’m fine,” but from my viewpoint, it reads “save me.” To me, it means that others see this person that seems okay, but, in reality, is not okay at all. It reminds me that people who may appear happy, may be at battle with themselves.

To me, depression is the days that I feel sad for no reason.

Depression is the mornings that I don’t feel capable of getting out of bed.

Depression is the sleeping too much, or sleeping too little.

Depression is the homework that I never completed, simply because I didn’t feel like I was capable.

Depression is the break downs I have over absolutely nothing.

Depression is the eating too much, or eating too little.

Depression is the nights I begin to cry because I feel so overwhelmed, even though everything is going right.

Depression is the 50 pounds I carry in my chest at all times.

Social media provides a welcome distraction for young people facing depression.

Depression is the need to constantly be distracted (being on social media, playing video games, watching movies or shows, or working all the time) because I can’t trust myself with my thoughts for longer than 3 minutes.

Depression is the friendships that have suffered because of my inability to function.

Depression is the hurtful thoughts and actions I have towards myself.

Depression is the tears I have because I don’t know why I feel so worthless, when I know I should feel happy.

This is one of the most difficult things to open up about because it’s extremely hard for me to feel vulnerable…but this needs to be talked about.

Mental illness is serious, but so shamed in our society. We care so much for our physical health, but hardly a thing about our mental state. And that is seriously messed up. Mental illness is not a choice and will likely hit everyone at some point in their life. If it’s such a huge issue, why aren’t we having this conversation about it?

That’s why I got this tattoo; they are great conversation starters. This forces me to talk about my own struggle, and why the awareness of it is important. You’d be surprised by how many people YOU know that struggle with depression, anxiety, or other mental illness. I may only be one person, but one can save another…and that’s all I could really ask for.

Maybe this is part of why I am so interested in psychology. I want to help people who feel the way I have—and still do—because it’s hell. And I don’t wish that upon anyone.

“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.” – Robin Williams

Sperm cells harpoon female egg to fertilize,

Says new research


Thanks to new discoveries at the University of Virginia in the US, new hypothesis on how conception occurs could be around the corner.

A sperm cell latches on to its target with spiky filaments that emerge from its head, say scientists at the University of Virginia (UVA) School of Medicine in the US whose 14 years of research led to the discovery.

Their finding is featured on the cover of the scientific journal Andrology, in which their corresponding paper was published.

“This finding has really captured our imagination,” says UVA reproduction researcher John Herr, PhD, of the Department of Cell Biology, adding that they have come up with an entirely new hypothesis about what happens at conception.

The research has implications for our understanding of the protein architecture of the sperm head, specifically in an organelle called the acrosomal matrix.

“One of the major proteins that is abundant in the acrosome [in the anterior region of the sperm head] is crystallizing into filaments, and we now postulate they’re involved in penetrating the egg,” says Dr. Herr.

This protein was discovered years ago in Dr. Herr’s lab in collaboration with the lab of Wladek Minor, PhD and they named it “sperm lyzosyme-like protein” (SLLP1).

Minor and his team captured the protein within a static crystal, which they chilled to cryogenic temperatures (approximately below 180 degrees C or below 292 degrees F) for protection, then zapped it with X-rays.

Observing the direction of the X-rays, the scientists were able to determine the protein’s shape in a process they compare to mapping out a shipwreck with a sonar.

It’s the first protein from that part of the sperm to have a crystal structure and it’s the first mammalian sperm protein that can bind to eggs, says Heping Zheng, the lead author of the paper.

Spring-boarding from their new understanding of the protein, the researchers aim to explore how fertilization works in the most precise detail.

The study builds on previous groundbreaking research from Herr’s lab — that time featured on the cover of the journal Biology of Reproduction, which published the corresponding paper in March.

Here, it was reported that the protein ESP1 (as it relates to the gene SPESP1) remains intact during fusion, acting as a stabilizer, while the rest of the sperm head undergoes dramatic changes.

“Getting at the molecular components of the fertilization event has a lot of practical applications — as well as intellectual value — because you want to account for all the major components involved in the essential events of the fertilization cascade,” says Dr. Herr.


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