News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Thursday 12th November 2015

J-1 students must now find jobs here before travelling to US

Irish officials fear numbers participating may drop by up to 80%


Students seeking to travel to the US on J1 work visa will be obliged to find jobs before they travel under changes announced on Thursday.

Students seeking to travel to the US on J-1 work visa will be obliged to find jobs before they travel under changes announced on Thursday.

Irish officials – who had been lobbying against the changes – have expressed fears the numbers may drop as much as 60 or 80 per cent. Some 7,000 J1 visas were issued this year.

In a statement on Thursday, the US embassy in Ireland confirmed that prospective Irish J-1 participants will need to provide evidence of a pre-arranged job as part of their application.

The embassy said the requirement was designed to ensure “greater safety and security of participants, greater compliance, and a more rewarding cultural experience”.

Lauren Lovelace, the embassy’s director of public diplomacy and public affairs, said the decision was a global one and affected other visa-waiver countries such as the the UK and Germany.

“This has nothing to do with any recent experiences. It’s making global a pre-placement policy which has been in effect for some time in almost every other country in the world, and which has seen success in those countries,” she said.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan, however, has expressed concern that the new rules may impact on the numbers of students participating in the programme.

“It was with some concern that I learned of the proposal to require applicants to arrange employment in advance of travel in order to obtain their J1 visas,” he said on Thursday.

“I raised the matter with very senior members of the US Administration during my visit to the US last month and I have in recent days also written to Secretary of State Kerry outlining my concerns,” he said

He said the J1 experience has been a rite of passage for many young Irish students and hoped it would continue to play an important and positive role in strengthening the Ireland-US relationship.

The embassy said the decision to change the policy was taken by independent US sponsoring agencies who vet and sponsor J-1 participants, supported by the US State department.

Irish-based programme sponsors such as Usit and Sayit are already advising students via their websites on the changes and the path to application.

Some of these organisations have said the new arrangments will, on a positive note, provide greater certainty for students and their families.

Ms Lovelace encouraged students to be “proactive” and explore their options in accessing support and organising a job.

She said US authorities were fully committed to working with young people and their parents to ensure students continue to have full opportunity to benefit from the J-1 programme.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny recently voiced concern that paperwork involved in the proicess could lead to a significant reduction in the number of visas granted.

On a recent visit to the US, he said that it could result in Irish students travelling on holiday visas instead and choosing to work illegally.

“I am not keen on a situation where there could be an abrupt ending to the J1 system as we know it, through the dramatic introduction of a requirement for pre-employment,” Mr Kenny said, during his visit.

He said he had sought to convince authorities to introduce a transition period for the new procedures.

Gardaí investigate sex abuse claims against former politician

Female alleges the suspect behaved inappropriately to her when she was a child


The Garda National Protection Services Bureau is investigating a claim of sexual abuse made against a former politician.

Gardaí are investigating sexual abuse allegations levelled against a former politician.

It is understood that a female complainant initially came forward in recent months and alleged the suspect had behaved inappropriately towards her and sexually abused her when she was a child more than 20 years ago.

It is also understood other complainants have since come forward.

Sources said the level of alleged abuse outlined is at the lower end of the scale, though the victims had still been traumatised.

The former politican was involved in politics for all of his adult life though the allegations relate to the period before he was a public representative.

The female victim outlined her allegations to the Garda and also nominated the names of others who knew the suspect at the same time she did.

When members of the Garda National Protection Services Bureau went to some of those people it is understood they also gave information to the investigation.

Some of those have provided background information sought by gardaí to test the veracity of the initial complainant’s account. However, others have now lodged their own complaints alleging abuse similar to that outlined by the first woman who came forward.

The victims are both male and female and were all young children at the time of the alleged abuse.

The former politician at the centre of the case has not yet been interviewed by the investigating team.

However, gardaí were expected to continue their probe and then approach the man with the findings.

Any statement from him or replies to questions gardaí put to him would be included in the case file to be sent to the DPP, whose office will decide whether the man should face criminal charges.

Enda Kenny outlines plan to create 220,000 jobs

Irish Government to create 1,300 jobs a week says Kenny as he launches Enterprise 2025


Taoiseach Enda Kenny: he said the Government’s record on job creation is a “positive one”, citing the announcement this week of 1,000 new jobs from Apple and 300 from recruitment website Indeed.

A new 10-year employment strategy will see the creation of 220,000 jobs within the lifetime of the next government, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

The Coalition on Thursday launched a long-term jobs plan, called Enterprise 2025, and Mr Kenny said the Government is creating 1,300 jobs a week. The plan was launched by the Taoiseach, Tánaiste Joan Burton, Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton, as well as junior ministers Ged Nash and Damien English.

Mr Kenny said the Government’s record on job creation is a “positive one”, citing the announcement this week of 1,000 new jobs from Apple and 300 from recruitment website Indeed.

“With the addition of Enterprise 2025 as a guiding framework for new policies, we expect to be able to lower the unemployment rate down to 6 per cent by 2020,” the Taoiseach said.

“This will see an additional 220,000 new jobs throughout the country based on the latest job creation figures.”

Ms Burton also mentioned the Apple and Indeed announcements, adding the Government’s priority is getting people back to work.

Protection against poverty

“As Labour Party leader, I attach singular importance to that objective – because fairly paid and secure work is the single best protection against poverty – the single best way to a better life.

“We need to continue to restore all the jobs lost during the downturn and to build a recovery that can benefit all in our society. Enterprise 2025 will assist on that front.”

Ireland now ready for first arrival of allocated refugees

Frances Fitzgerald underlines difficulties at refugee ‘hot spots’ in EU during Malta visit


The Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald (above right) meets with Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi prior to the start of the second day of the Valletta migration summit in Malta.

Ireland is ready to begin accepting its allocation of refugees under the EU’s relocation plan by the end of this year, but challenges still remain in building up capacity at the EU “hot spot” areas where migrants are arriving, the Minister for Justice has said.

Speaking at the headquarters of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) office inMalta on Thursday, Frances Fitzgerald said that Ireland intended to accept 20 refugees by December, part of a broader commitment to accept 4,000 refugees in total.

“We’re certainly ready to begin to take people in Ireland, we have the organisation in place, we have the accommodation . . . hopefully we will see the first people arriving in Ireland by the end of the year”. But she added that the broader issue of capacity-building at the EU locations where migrants are received and registered remains an issue.

“It’s about . . . establishing the hot spots in the right places, making sure that the European Asylum Support Office has the capacity to build up the hot spots where they are needed so the registration can take place, and then we can begin to see more orderly migration, that’s the goal.”

The European Commission established “hot spots” in frontline countries such as Italy and Greece to help deal with the asylum needs and relocation requirements of people disembarking from boats, but the system has been struggling to cope with the numbers arriving.

Agency support

The EASO is centrally involved in the hot spot system, including deciding where migrants are assigned under the EU relocation plan. While the EASO requested member states to provide 374 experts and personnel to support the agency in the wake of the refugee crisis, only 177 have been pledged, including two from Ireland. The capacity issues mean that just under 150 people have been relocated under the scheme since October.

Ms Fitzgerald met senior officials from the EASO on Thursday, including Ireland’s refugee applications commissioner, David Costello, who is Ireland’s representative and deputy chairman of the EASO management board. Speaking after the meeting, Mr Costello said that challenges still remained in establishing the hot spot system.

“The big challenge is going to be building up the hot spot infrastructure. For example, we need office space in Greece in particular. We need other infrastructural supports such as IT and computers. The EASO is working very closely with the Greek authorities to put that infrastructure in place and the staff can move over from Ireland and other member states to do the registration process.”

He said that while Ireland would be prioritising family groups, each member state had limited say over which people would participate in the relocation scheme. “Effectively it is for the EASO, Italy and Greece, and the member states they are travelling to, to work together to bring the people over . . . It’s not really a question of selection.”

Ms Fitzgerald also said that the problem of “secondary movement” whereby relocated migrants simply move on to other member states once they are relocated, would not be tolerated. “There is a very clear agreement that that’s not going to be acceptable in the second country, so that simply can’t be part of the approach.”

Seahorse Aquariums Galway — Why seahorses?


Dating back as far as 13million years, seahorses are one of the ocean’s most special creatures. They have many traits unique to Seahorses and their cousins. Seahorses have no teeth, no stomach and are the only known species where the male becomes pregnant. Indeed many species pair for life. Seahorses range in size from the tiny 11mm Pygmy Seahorse to the largest, the 35cm Australian Pot Belly Seahorse. Ireland has it very own Seahorse species, found as close to Galway City as Connemara, the Spiny Seahorse (Hippocampus histrix ).

Seahorse reproduction is unique in the animal kingdom. Each morning a seahorse pair strengthens their pair bond by performing a mating dance for up to one hour. During spawning the female transfers the eggs into the males pouch. Over the next few weeks the male incubates the eggs until he gives birth to up to a few thousand fry which drift in the surface currents until settling to the bottom a few weeks later.

Believe it or not we always have Seahorses in stock at Seahorse Aquariums Galway and all are welcome to come down to the shop to view our seahorses or visit the reception the G Hotel to view the special 900l Natural Seahorse Lagoon Aquarium designed and maintained by us. This tank is rather special and also contains seahorses and is the only one of its kind in Europe. We even breed seahorses in our hatchery in Seahorse Aquariums Dublin.

Seahorses are threatened or nearing extinction in many parts of the ocean. The Asian medicinal trade, the curio trade and habitat destruction are the main threats facing Seahorses. Check out for more information.

For many decades keeping seahorses alive in aquaria was extremely difficult. Now thanks to better knowledge and availability of captive bred seahorses, almost anyone can have a seahorse aquarium. Seahorse Aquariums sells seahorse starter packs priced from €400. At Seahorse Aquariums we like to make aquarium keeping simple, so we include all you need to start your aquarium in the pack. Anyone looking for something that bit different or special as a Christmas gift will be surprised at the range of items available to the public at Seahorse Aquariums Galway.

Seahorse Aquariums, Unit 2, Kilkerrin Park 1, Liosban Industrial Estate, Tuam Road, Galway, opening hours Monday to Saturday 9.30am – 6pm, Sundays and Bank Holidays, 11am – 6pm, 362 days/yr

Scientists create World’s first ‘Porous Liquid’

Scientists at Queen’s University Belfast have created the world’s first “porous liquid,” a solution that looks solid to the naked eye but actually contains emply space.


The ability of a porous liquid to absorb large amounts of gas into its molecular structure give it plenty of potential benefits for industrial applications.

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast have managed to create the world’s first porous liquid, an invention that is being hailed as a major breakthrough. Porous materials are those that look solid to the human eye but actually contain empty space at the molecular level, . In scientific applications, they are useful as catalysts and molecular separators and are often used in industrial industries.

The liquid created in the team’s study was a solution that possessed many organic “cage molecules,” which are designed to enclose empty space. The final product contained hundreds of times more empty space in its molecular structure than a standard fluid such as water.

A porous liquid poses plenty of potential benefits. For example, it is ideal for soaking up methane, a dangerous greenhouse gas, and could potentially be used to create a liquid circulation system for power plants that sucks up carbon, according to a press release. These benefits stem from the solution’s ability to absorb large amounts of gas into its porous molecular structure.

“A few more years’ research will be needed, but if we can find applications for these porous liquids they could result in new or improved chemical processes,” said Stuart James, co-author of the study. “At the very least, we have managed to demonstrate a very new principle – that by creating holes in liquids we can dramatically increase the amount of gas they can dissolve. These remarkable properties suggest interesting applications in the long term.”


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