News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Monday 29th September 2015

The Taoiseach opens New Research Centres to benefit front-line patient care in Galway


NUI Galway have opened the Lambe Institute for Translational Research and HRB Clinical Research Facility at University Hospital Galway.

The co-location of these two facilities in one building on hospital grounds will mean basic laboratory research conducted in the translational research facility can be evaluated in clinical trials in the clinical research facility and ultimately benefit patients faster.

Some examples of the types of studies undertaken in the two facilities will include: Predicting risk of breast cancer due to inherited characteristics. Stem cell trials to help improve blood flow in legs of diabetic patients and prevent amputation. Clinical trials in blood cancer patients to establish whether new treatments can be combined with existing treatment for better outcomes. How implantable medical devices can provide new solutions for patients.

Officially opening the building, An Taoiseach said, “I am delighted to celebrate the opening of this new clinical and translational facility made up of the Lambe Institute for Translational Research and the Health Research Board Clinical Research Facility. This project represents a truly innovative partnership between NUI Galway, Health Research Board, Saolta University Health Care Group, and HSE supported by private philanthropy through Galway University Foundation.

Ireland is recognised as an emerging global hub for the ‘medtech’ sector. Galway is at the very heart of this development and NUI Galway is the powerhouse for much of this progress.”

NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne, said,“Today is a milestone in the development of medicine at NUI Galway.

NUI Galway has given strategic priority to the development of biomedical engineering science. Over the past two decades we have invested heavily in this area, with major new research facilities on our campus. Our researchers advance scientific knowledge to address health challenges. Here in this building that scientific knowledge is being developed into novel treatments, which are then carefully applied in the clinical setting and tested in clinical trials led by NUI Galway.”

Commenting, Maurice Power, CEO, Saolta University Health Care Group said, “This exciting new facility brings together leading-edge medical research directly to the bedside of patients at University Hospital Galway and the wider Hospital Group.  For our patients, the facility will provide inpatient and outpatient beds, a minor operations room, endoscopy, endocrine and cardiorespiratory suites, a phlebotomy room and a biometrics unit.  As well as its primary function in benefiting our patients it will also allow our Hospital Group attract and retain the highest calibre of medical professionals.”

Speaking at the launch Dr Ronan Lambe, said, “It is a great privilege for my wife and I to be associated with such a state of the art facility which will enhance the reputation of NUI Galway as a centre of excellence for Bio Medical Research.”

The proximity of the University to UHG will enable direct patient access and collaborative trial input from the hospital Oncology/Haematology Clinical Trials Unit. The CRF will ensure that patients in the West and North West of Ireland have access to a number of new cancer therapies that would otherwise not have been available to them. Clinical trials are active in the treatment of melanoma, multiple myeloma, mantel cell lymphoma, breast, prostate, lung, care

Latest statistics show an increase in Ireland’s gun crime

Sharp drop in murders but 28% increase in car hijackings and related crimes


Possession of a firearm increased by 21%t to 214 cases in the 12-month period to the end of June. Many forms of serious crime have increased, though the murder rate has fallen significantly in the Republic.

Burglaries were up by 9%, to 27,890 cases reported to the Garda, in the latest 12-month period for which crime trends are now available.

The latest data, published by the Central Statistics Office, also revealed further increases in the level of those offences most closely associated with organised crime gangs.

Possession of a firearm increased by 21% to 214 cases in the 12-month period to the end of June, compared to the 12-month period to the end of June last year.

It may suggest resurgence in gun crime after a sharp decline since the 2007-2008 period when the drugs trade collapsed along with the wider economy.

However, the latest data also reveals cases of discharging a firearm were down by 2%.

Controlled drugs offences overall were down by 1.2% to 14,488 crimes.

Cultivation of drugs and possession of drugs for personal use were down, by 19% and 1% respectively.

However, the crime of drug dealing – possession of drugs for sale or supply – increased by 1%, to 3,448 cases.

There was a very sharp decline in murders; down by 37% to 38, from 60 cases in the previous periods

Sexual offences increased by 3% and within that rise was a jump of 7% in the crime of rape of a male or female, to 478 cases. Other sexual assaults were also up, by 7%.

Driving a vehicle under the influence of drugs and drink were both down; by 13 per cent and 4% respectively.

Some 6,450 motorists were detected driving over the legal alcohol limit in the 12-month period while 232 were caught driving under the influence of drugs.

Car hijackings and related crimes increased by 28%, to 110 cases. There were 7,392 cars stolen in the period, three crimes lower than the previous year.

Homicide offences – of which murders are but one category – have decreased to 60 from 93, a fall of 36%.

Attempts of threats to murder, assaults and harassments are up 10%, to 16,054 offences.

Kidnapping and related offences have decreased by 4%, to 131 offences.

Fraud and other deception related crimes have shown an increase of 6%, to 5,337 crimes. Public order crime has decreased by 5%, to 32,866 offences.

Bullied obese children miss long periods of school year


Aoife Brinkley, a senior clinical psychologist at the child obesity service at Temple Street Children’s University Hospital, said seven out of ten children at the clinic reported bullying, with one tenth self-harming as a result, and suffering with depression and anxiety disorders.

With a quarter of Irish children classed as overweight or obese, it is thought more and more will be psychologically affected by bullying as a new international report pinpointed weight as the most common form of playground teasing.

Dr Brinkley said children with obesity can be so affected by bullying they can no longer face going into the classroom. “We see kids refusing to go to school. We would have a little group that have struggled or missed a huge amount of school because of the bullying they have experienced.”

The leading psychologist said she has seen bullying resulting in children becoming so socially anxious they can’t go outside their house.

“We would have a lot of children who have attempted to hurt themselves and harm themselves. We would have children with depression, symptoms of anxiety.

“There is a lot of social anxiety where children or teenagers are struggling to go outside the house because they feel so self-conscious.

“It can become a vicious cycle where a young person teased or bullied doesn’t want to leave the house and is gaining weight because they are not leaving the house.”

She said bullying can begin to have much more serious consequences towards the end of primary school.

“Maybe they have been bullied on and off from third class and fourth class but maybe things continuing into fifth class and sixth class, so it means that transition to secondary school is particularly difficult for those kids.”

She said a survey carried out among children with obesity attending the W82GO Healthy Lifestyles Programme in Temple Street, which sees an average of 150 children a year, showed 57% of children experienced moderate bullying with 11% subjected to severe bullying.

“With girls it tends to be name-calling, left out of games. As they get older it tends to be more of a serious nature. Targeted exclusion over a period of time, repeated comments and we have had some children where there has been quite serious cyber bullying on social media.”

She said there are also a lot of misconceptions around childhood obesity in Ireland. “A lot of the stigma is that people think that it’s simple — that they need to eat less or be more active. That is true to some degree but sometimes there are barriers to stop them doing that which are absolutely insurmountable whether it’s parents’ substance use or mental health within the family.

“I’d like to break down the myth that it is a simple thing or it is the parents’ fault. It is very complex and a really difficult thing to change.”

VHI policies are to rise by average of 2% from November

Health insurer says price rise is required to cover the increasing cost of customer claims


The Insurer says the increase is the first in 20 months.

The State’s largest health insurer VHI is to introduce an average premium price increase of 2% from November.

In a statement the company said the increases would range from between 1% and 5% depending on the cover.

Declan Moran, VHI’s director of marketing, said the increase was the first in 20 months and was necessary to cover the rising cost of claims.

Lovely Letterkenny scoops tidy towns of Ireland top spot


Clonegal, Co Carlow, Listowel Co Kerry and Westport among other category winners

Letterkenny, Co Donegal, has been named Ireland’s Tidiest Town for 2015 in the annual Supervalu National Tidy Towns Awards competition.has been named Ireland’s Tidiest Town for

Letterkenny, Co Donegal, has been named Ireland’s Tidiest Town for 2015 in the annual Supervalu National Tidy Towns Awards competition.

It beat 860 villages and towns across the State to become the eighth town in Donegal to win the award since the competition began in 1958. Letterkenny was also named as Ireland’s tidiest large urban centre.

Other winners included: Clonegal, Co Carlow, which was named tidiest village; Listowel, Co Kerry, which was named tidiest small town and Westport, Co Mayo, received the award of tidiest large town,

Evidence of water makes issue of life on Mars a hot topic

New discovery takes scientists tantalisingly close to uncovering actual life on Red Planet


Portions of the Martian surface shot by Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show many channels on a scarp in the Hellas impact basin, in this photograph taken January 14th, 2011 and released by Nasa on March 9th, 2011. Scientists have found the first evidence that briny water may flow on the surface of Mars during the planet’s summer months, a paper published on Monday showed.

The answer to a question which has troubled scientists, science fiction writers and rock singers for generations has taken a giant leap forward with the discovery of liquid water flowing freely on the Red Planet.

While past Martian probes have revealed hints of rivers, lakes and even oceans which dried up a long time ago on the planet far, far away, this new discovery offering concrete evidence of water still flowing freely there – at least during the planet’s summer months – takes scientists tantalisingly close to uncovering actual life on Mars.

Nasa’s discovery of water running hundreds of metres down the planet’s canyons and craters has been hailed across this world as a scientific breakthrough of huge importance.

“It is the first verification of liquid flow on Mars and it is very significant,” said Kevin Nolan of the School of Applied Science at the IT in Tallaght. “It is so hard for liquid water to form on the Martian surface, so if we are finding it on the surface then it is very likely there are significant quantities underground too.”

He said it was an accepted scientific fact on Earth that “where there is water, there is life, there is no exception – and that is why Nasa has been following the water on other planets for decades”.

The Martian water only flows when the surface of the planet rises above -23C. Despite the freezing conditions, it can still flow because a high salt content drops the point at which it freezes far below zero degrees Celsius.

Scientists have yet to establish the source of the water but are working off theories that it rises up from underground ice or condenses out of the thin Martian atmosphere.

The newly discovered trickles will most likely by used by space explorers to map the best sites to seek out life on Mars and to establish landing spots for future human missions.

“If we find there is life on two of eight planets in our solar system then it suggests that life is widespread throughout the universe,” Mr Nolan said.


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