News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Monday 14th September 2015

Irish government support rises, Sinn Fein fall’s as general election beckons


Support for Ireland’s governing parties has returned to the highest level seen in over a year as support for left-wing challenger Sinn Fein fell over the past two months, a leading poll said on Sunday.

Prime Minister Enda Kenny has six months to call an election and his coalition government are pinning their hopes on voters starting to benefit from Europe’s best performing economy that grew by seven percent in the first half of 2015.

Kenny’s Fine Gael party is supported by 28 percent of voters, according to the Red C/Sunday Business Post poll, up from 25 percent in July. Junior coalition partner Labour was on 10 percent, up from 8 percent.

That put the parties back where they were in May, which had been the highest combined level since early 2014 before any credit for getting Ireland out of an international bailout was eroded by anger at the austerity measures applied to do so.

The two parties, who won a record majority in 2011 and want to be re-elected together, would still be 11 seats shy of the 80 needed to secure a parliamentary majority, according to Adrian Kavanagh, a politics lecturer at National University Ireland Maynooth who conducts constituency analysis on each poll.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan of Fine Gael has said the parties could form a government along with independents, whose support in the Red C poll is as high as Fine Gael’s at 28 percent, three percentage points lower than July.

Fine Gael’s nearest rival, the fellow center-right Fianna Fail party, were unchanged on 18 percent.

However support for Sinn Fein, who are close to Greece’s governing leftist Syriza party and running on a similar anti-austerity platform, fell to 16 percent from 18 percent and the party has fallen eight percentage points in a series of polls since briefly overtaking Fine Gael last December.

The dip coincided with a political crisis in Northern Ireland, where Sinn Fein share power, that “appears to have done them no favors” with voters in the Irish republic, according to Richard Colwell, chief executive of Red C.

“In order to re-gain lost ground, Sinn Fein need to move to settle matters in the North quickly, and re-focus voters’ attention on the local issues they are fighting for on their behalf,” Colwell said.

“The question then is if this re-focus will be enough to regain voters, with the backdrop of an increasingly positive economic outlook, and an electorate that broadly believes that the country is currently on the right track.”

A lack of sleep can having a devastating impact on your body – and love life


A range of studies reveal the impact on our ability to think, move and recover if you get 6 hours or less

Dangerous: Not having enough sleep can affect the human body in a number of ways

Recent reports suggest that anyone who gets less than six hours sleep is four times more likely to get a cold.

Experts revealed that sleep deprivation quadruples the chances of falling ill with the sniffles and stressed that seven hours sleep each night should be the target for ahealth body and mind.

But how else does a lack of sleep affect us?

We have all walked into work like a zombie after having not been able to sleep the night before thanks to a whirlwind of regrets and irrelevant thoughts racing through our mind.

Aside from looking like an extra from the Walking Dead, does this cause us any damage?

Dangerous for people who sleep less than seven hours a night risk falling ill

Speaking to Yahoo Health, Shalini Paruthi MD, spokeswoman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, revealed how serious an impact a lack of sleep can have on a person’s mental ability.

Dr Paruthi said those who have less than six hours sleep a night can find themselves having a harder time concentrating, making decisions and remembering things.

Headaches also plague those who do not sleep enough hours while people’s ability to react quickly, either mentally or physically, is hugely impacted.

Struggling leads t a lack of sleep that can affect our minds

Dr Paruthi said: “There are multiple studies that show being deprived — even if it’s four hours of sleep — can make someone have the same reaction time as someone who is driving under the influence. Driving while sleep-deprived is the equivalent of driving drunk.”

Many of us will have arrived at work after not sleeping much and been greeted by a cheerful co-worker questioning: “Get out the wrong side of bed this morning?”

Well, there is a strand of truth in this as our mood is also directly linked to how much we have slept the night before.

Relaxing for those who get more sleep live healthier lives

comes from our ability to regulate and control our emotions being affected – leading to ca severe case of a bear with a sore head.

According to Yahoo Health, recent research showed that having less than five hours sleep can make people more stressed, sad and angry.

This can leak into your love life, causing more arguments with your partner and less tolerance, patience and ability to resolve the conflict.

Some frightening statistics from the National Sleep Foundation showed that adults over the age of 45 who were having less then six hours sleep each night were TWICE as likely to succumb to a stroke or heart attack.

Illness: People who do not get enough sleep fall ill much more often

Coupled with the aforementioned report about how people are four times more likely to have a cold, and another report that claims people who do not sleep enough are 1.6 times more likely to have congestive heart failure, the reasons for trying to sleep more hours are building steadily.

Aside from the physical affect – a lack of sleep will also affect your blood sugar levels – people who are not in the land of nod of enough hours will also AGE quicker.

Red eyes with dark circles, wrinkles and fine lines will all be etched across your face if you struggle to drift off while a study also revealed how a surgery showed the public thought these people also looked physically sadder.

Please don’t ignore the signs of suicide


September is Suicide Prevention Month. When I began to count the number of people I know who have died by suicide, or those friends who have been affected by their own losses due to suicide, the number was much higher than I had previously realized. Suicide is incredibly prevalent and yet something we don’t often speak of.

How many individuals die by suicide is truly unknown. Many suicides are ruled accidents.

Someone dies by suicide in the U.S. approximately every 13 minutes.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students; Approximately 22 veterans die from suicide every day. Dentists, physicians and lawyers are among the professions with disproportionately high rates of suicide. Gay youth are said to be three times more likely to die by suicide than heterosexual youth. Between 30 and 45 percent of trans people attempt suicide at some point in their lives.

Suicide is a real, significant issue that needs to be talked about.

Below are important signs to be aware of and ways to support individuals who may feel suicidal.


If someone speaks about suicide, or of being “gone” or of being a burden, he may be considering suicide.

If someone is in extreme emotional or physical pain and speaks of “having enough” or “not being able to keep going” he may be thinking of suicide.

Ask him directly what he means, and if he is OK. Let him know you love him and will help him.

People often fear that if they bring up the topic they will somehow “plant” an idea; this is a myth. Be caring and direct and ask.


If someone shows a significant change in behavior, it’s important to pay attention.

Loss of enjoyment in things they previously enjoyed, changes in sleep, hygiene and eating can all be signs of needing assistance.

Increased use of substances like alcohol or drugs are also potential signs.

Giving away prized possessions and calling folks to say goodbye, are all serious behaviors and require attention.

Again – while scary, it is important to ask people how they are. Be honest and point out a behavior that concerns you. Something like, “I’ve noticed you’re not coming to lunch any more or spending time with friends. I’m feeling worried about you. How are you doing?”


  • What if you ask a friend and he does share he is feeling suicidal?
  • Offering to help find professional support is important.
  • Let him know you care and will help him connect.
  • Find other trusted individuals that can help support the individuals.
  • If needed, offer to help the person make an appointment to see a counselor; offer to go along the first time.

If someone shares that he has a plan to die by suicide or if you fear he is imminently dangerous to himself, (actively planning suicide), taking him to the nearest emergency room (if safe for you to do so) or calling 911 are both options.

Many people will say to me, “But what if I am wrong? What if my friend (or spouse or parent) becomes upset with me?” I always assure people that upsets and frustrations can be resolved at a later time. Upsetting a friend and being wrong is a risk I recommend taking.

For all those reading this who have lost someone to suicide, my thoughts and condolences are with you.

Support can be found with most mental health professionals but also at this website:

4% of ‘mutant’ Grain Aphids are resistant to chemical controls in Ireland


Grain aphids developing resistance to chemical controls could have a negative impact on winter barley yields under Irish tillage systems, said Dr Michael Gaffney.

Speaking at the Teagasc National Crops Forum in Kildare recently the Teagasc Research Officer said that like the UK, there are increased numbers of chemically resistant aphids developing in Ireland, and at present it is evident in 4% of the population.

“The grain aphid has become increasingly difficult to control in the UK, it reduces grain yield through the transmission of the Barley Yellow Dwarf Virus (BYDV), which impacts greatly on the yield of winter sown barley crops,” he said.

Teagasc research shows this virus can reduce yield by as much as 3.7%, but according to industry sources, in severe cases it can reduce yield by as much as 3t/ha.

The aphid’s impact has worsened in the UK where 50% of the total population has developed resistance to the main control pyrethroids, he said.

“In 2009 the discovery of aphids with the knock down mutation was discovered in the UK. Initially, the frequency of these mutants were quite low, but the 2014 figures show that it is levelling out at about 50% of the population,” he said.

This mutation is heterozygous and is located on one set of the genes, this mutation reduces the chemicals effectiveness on the aphid’s nerve endings.

Dr Gaffney added that when no resistance is detected pyrethroids have 90% control of aphids, but this drops to 65-80% when the mutation has developed.

However, despite the reduced functionality of these chemicals in these mutant aphids, Dr Gaffney added that things could be a lot worse if the mutation was identified on both genes.

If super KBR develops it has full resistance to pyrethroids. If this happens the only viable recommendation is not to spray, as this method of control will be ineffective, he said.

Winter barley area increase

Eamonn Lynch, a Teagasc Consultant in Cork added that the problem has the potential to become a major problem in tillage crops in Ireland as the area of winter barley has increased substantially in recent years.

According to Lynch, the area of winter barley has increased by 40,000ha, which has caused a corresponding decrease in the winter wheat area (20,000ha).

Lynch added that many farmers have increased the proportion of winter barley grown due to the increased economic benefits of growing this crop.

“Winter barley is generally about a tonne to acre above spring in terms of yield, when the costs of production are considered you are getting a better return on your investment from the extra yield.”

However, Lynch added that the greater crop area will also lead to increased pressure at sowing time.

“Generally crops are sown in September and emerging in October, milder autumns and winters lead to higher BYDV which results in the typical symptoms such as stunted growth.”

High-risk areas of BYDV (Barley Yellow Dwarf Disease)

  • Coastal areas are at higher risk
  • More common in earlier sown winter barley crops
  • Thrives in mild autumns and winters
  • Less common in seed-treated crops
  • Continues winter barley crops are higher risk 

The pause in rising global temperatures to end soon


The world is likely to see a return to rapid warming in the next couple of years, scientists said, in what could signal the end of the “pause” in rising global temperatures. 

Experts said big changes were under way in the Earth’s climate system, with a natural phenomenon known as El Nino combining with the impact of greenhouse gases to push globaltemperatures to record highs.

But other changes in the Atlantic Ocean over the coming decades could make relatively cooler and possibly drier summers in the UK and northern Europe more likely.

Globally, the Earth’s climate system was at a “turning point”, with a number of major changes happening at once, the UK Met Office’s Professor Adam Scaife said.

In the run-up to key United Nations talks in Paris, at which it is hoped a new international agreement to tackle climate change can be agreed, “the signal is very clear” that global warming is happening.

The world has witnessed a slowdown or “pause” in rising temperatures in recent years, which sceptics pointed to as contradicting evidence of ongoing climate change.

The new report from the Met Officesuggests the world is warming again.

Prof Scaife said experts could not be sure it was the end of the slowdown.

However, rates of warming averaged over decades were likely to reach the high levels seen at the end of the 20th century, when the world was warming rapidly, within two years.

The years 2014, 2015 and 2016 are all likely to be at or near record levels, in part due to the influence of El Nino’s surface warming in the Pacific Ocean.

Scientists are very confident there is now a major El Nino under way, which is set to peak this winter, on the scale of an El Nino event in 1998 which helped drive global temperatures to record highs.

But Prof Scaife said natural variations such as El Nino were just the “icing on  the cake” on top of human activity which is putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and driving climate change.

The El Nino could help break records for global temperature as well as having impacts including making the Indian monsoon weaker and raising the possibility of a break in the Californian drought. The fall in temperatures could affect weather patterns in Europe, he said.


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