Daily Archives: November 18, 2015

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Tuesday 17th November 2015

Ireland’s unemployment rate down to its lowest level since 2008

CSO quarterly data shows rate dropped to 9.1% in July-September


An update of monthly Central Statistics Office figures shows the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in October was 8.9%, down from the previously reported 9.3%.

The construction and industrial sectors delivered the most new jobs as a 59,400 increase in the number of full-time posts helped bring the unemployment rate down to its lowest level since 2008.

Quarterly data published by the Central Statistics Office showed Ireland’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 9.1% in July-September this year from 9.6% in April-June. The rate in the third quarter of 2014 was 11.1%.

In addition, a revision of monthly CSO data brought the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in October down to 8.9% from the previously estimated 9.3%. September’s unemployment rate was similarly revised from 9.4% to 9%.

“Significant milestones are hit, with the unemployment rate dipping below 9% and the numbers of people unemployed going under 200,000 for the first time since 2008,” said Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton.


Employers urged caution. “There has been a general slowdown in job creation as a result of wage pressures and the increase in the minimum wage is acting as a brake on new employment,” said Mark Fielding, chief executive of the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association.

Employers’ group Ibec said the regional spread of recovery remains a challenge, even though employment grew year-on-year in every region bar the west. “Employment is now growing at 5% annually in Dublin compared to 2% in the rest of the country. This will increase the pressure on housing and infrastructure in the short term and exacerbate regional inequalities over the long-term,” said Ibec economist Gerard Brady.

Employment rose in 12 of the 14 sectors tracked by the CSO and fell in only two, leading analysts to conclude the recovery is broad-based.

The number of people working in construction in the third quarter rose by 15,000 to 127,400 year-on-year. The number working in the industry sector rose by 13,600 to 252,300 year-on-year. Gains in employment were recorded in agriculture, transport, the IT sector, professional and administrative services, as well as in public administration, education and healthcare.

The number employed in the financial, insurance and real-estate sector declined by 3,300 to 99,800 year-on-year. Employment also dropped in the wholesale, retail and motor repair sector.

The Jobless rate

The overall number of people working in the 12 months to September rose by 56,000, the ninth consecutive quarterly fall in unemployment, taking the jobless rate to its lowest level for seven years. The seasonally adjusted rate was 8.1% in the fourth quarter of 2008, just before a huge rise in unemployment in 2009.

Noting that full-time job creation was now advancing at the fastest pace since 2006, KBC Bank chief economist Austin Hughes said the data pointed to a stronger picture than suggested by the headline rise in overall employment.

“For the first three quarters of 2015, Irish jobs growth averaged 2.7%, about a percentage point higher than through 2014, while full-time employment is 3.9% higher than in 2014,” he said.

“This means we have to upgrade our forecast of average jobs growth of 2.5% for 2015 to 2.7%. We also think unemployment could drop towards 8.5% by the end of 2015 and could also fall below 8% by the end of next year.”

Irish Government drops it’s original plan for Universal Health Insurance


The Fianna Fáil leader M icheál Martin claims decision is a ‘resigning matter’

Brendan Howlin said the ‘desirable’ UHI model remains an objective for the Government.

The Government has insisted it remains committed to universal affordable healthcare despite dropping its original plan for Universal Health Insurance (UHI).

A Government spokesman said it would introduce affordable quality care in a timely away despite the decision of Minister for Health Leo Varadkar to move away from kind of UHI promised by his predecessor Dr James Reilly.

Mr Varadkar told his Cabinet colleagues on Tuesday night that the plan endorsed by Dr Reilly would have increased the cost of running the health service by €650 million a year.

The Government spokesman said reform of the health service would be funded through a form of UHI.

“Building on the reforms already put in place we will continue to move away from the wasteful inefficient and unfair approach to health service provision that we inherited from the previous government.

“This must be done in a way that is affordable for both taxpayers and buyers of health insurance,” he said.

Fianna Fáil attacked what it described as the abandonment of UHI and said it was a resigning matter for the Government.

Party leader Micheal Martin said UHI has been promised by Fine Gael for 14 years and only now the party realised it was not feasible.

“This is a resigning matter. We would like the electorate to take matters into their own hands,” said Mr Martin.

He said it was an appalling indictment of Government policy and proved that nothing Fine Gael said ahead of the election could be trusted.

He said the blame cannot lay solely with Mr Reilly as Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Mr Varadkar had fully endorsed the plans.

“Leo Varadkar didn’t say a dickie bird about this until he came into office and I would say the civil servants are at the end of their tether in terms of this basic dishonest proposition.”

The party’s spokesman on health Billy Kellehersaid Fianna Fáil would commit to a taxation funded model that commits to the public health service.

Sinn Féin health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said Mr Varadkar’s memo to Cabinet about the shortcomings of the UHI plan was a vindication of what Sinn Féin have been saying all along.

“Sinn Féin is strongly opposed to the pro-business and for-profit slant of Fine Gael’s approach to healthcare. UHI represents a fillip for private health insurance companies, and the for-profit healthcare approach”, said Mr O Caoláin.

He said a similar model in the Netherlands had seen the quality and range of care continually reduced with premiums rising by up to 40 per cent.

As much as 14 brand new schools will open in the next few years?

To meet rising the growth of Irish population

     Jan O'Sullivan

Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan unveiled the €3.8bn school building programme 2016-21.

At least 14 brand new schools will open in the next few years to meet rising population growth.

Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan announced the locations today as she unveiled the €3.8bn school building programme 2016-21.

With an election in the air, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Joan Burton also attended the announcement.

Overall the six year programme will cover 324 projects – either new builds or major extensions to provide 19,000 new primary school places and 43,000 new post-primary places. It included 50 projects that were part of the previous plan and which will go to construction in 2016

The minster also promised that the long-term use of pre-fabs in schools would be a thing of the past by 2021.

With the bulge in pupil numbers now moving into second-level, 10 of the new schools will be post-primary, six of which will open in 2017 at Carpenterstown/Castleknock, Dublin 15; Portmarnock/Malahide, Co Dublin; Lucan, Co Dublin; Swords, Co Dublin;  Portlaois, Co Laois and Limerick city (south west)

They will be followed in 2018 with three new post-primary schools at Limerick city (east), Firhouse, Dublin 24 and Dublin south city centre, while a new  gaelcholáiste is slated for Maynooth, Co Kildare in 2019.

At primary level, new schools will open in Pellettstown, Dublin 7; Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin; Ballincollig, Co Cork, in 2017, and in Dublin south city centre in 2018.

No decision has yet been made on who should run the new schools – and the Department of Education will oversee a process where interested parties will be invited to apply.

Department  data also indicates  indicates that new schools may be also be necessary at post-primary level in areas such as South Kildare; Enfield (Kilcock feeder area); Galway city; north-west Dublin City; the Dublin 13 & Dublin 17 area; Kinnegad (Killucan feeder area); and the Mallow and Fermoy areas in County Cork, and the Milltown area of Dublin at primary level.

The building programme plan announced today relates to major projects – generally costing in excess of €1m.  Funding for smaller projects – such as the addition of a classroom etc. is dealt with on an ongoing basis.

On the pre-fab issue, Ms O’Sullivan said she always believed “it was a scandal that at the height of the Celtic tiger, we focussed on renting prefabs rather than building permanent schools”.

Although originally intended as  a short-term solution to accommodation needs, pre-fabs have been an all too familiar part of the Irish educational landscape, with thousands in use at any one time.

Doctors regret lack of awareness on common lung disease that kills Millions

Recent studies indicate that 25-50% of people with clinically significant COPD don’t even know they suffer from it.


This is because the early stages of COPD are not often unrecognised.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a common lung disease worldwide has been raising concerns, experts say. It is the third leading cause of death worldwide and in India, approximately15 million people suffer from COPD.

What’s more worrying is that COPD causes four times more deaths in India, compared to US and Europe. November 18 is being observed as World COPD Day and experts rue lack of awareness about the disease.

COPD is a non-communicable lung disease that gradually causes breathlessness. However, recent studies indicate that 25-50% of people with clinically significant COPD don’t even know they have it. This is because the early stages of COPD are often unrecognised.

“The early symptoms of COPD are chronic cough, bringing up sputum and breathlessness during physical activity such as exercise or walking up the stairs,” says Dr Sundeep Salvi, Director, Chest Research Foundation, Pune.

Both asthma and COPD patients have common complaints of difficulty in breathing and hence experts feel that in COPD, differential diagnosis is crucial. Most patients reach doctors at a stage when the disease is advanced and chances of lung attack are high, making it difficult for patients and their families.

On the occasion, Dr Ashish Goyal, Chaitanya Nursing Home has undertaken a mission “Finding Millions. Treating Millions” for spreading more awareness about the disease. “The earlier COPD is detected, the more effective treatment can be,” he says.

Although there is no cure for COPD, treatments are available that alleviate symptoms of breathlessness so that patients can participate more fully in daily life. Patients may be able to slow or even stop the progress of COPD by reducing their exposure to risk factors.

According to Dr Yogesh Agarwal from Aditya Birla hospital, one of the primary causes of COPD is smoking. During festivals such as Diwali, the air quality deteriorates to a level that the smog is akin to smoking two cigarettes a day, he pointed out.

Non-invasive ventilation (NIV) can facilitate removal of this excess carbon dioxide and improve oxygenation of the body by augmenting the patient’s ventilation, Agarwal added.

Doctors further advise that if the person finds it hard to breathe, and are above 35 years of age, live or work in areas where there is smoke/noxious gas/fumes and also are or were a smoker, then a simple screening test needs to be taken to rule out COPD.

Odds of surviving pancreatic cancer narrow with new U.O.U. regime

Scientists at University of Ulster find a lead to significant reduction in tumour


Steve Jobs (above right) former CEO of Apple who died from pancreatic cancer.

Professor John Callan of Ulster University discusses a pioneering treatment for pancreatic cancer – the first treatment breakthrough in over 40 years. Survival rates for pancreatic cancer could be significantly improved by a pioneering treatment developed by scientists at the University of Ulster.

Researchers say the therapy leads to a fivefold reduction in tumour sizes, thereby opening up more treatment options, even for advanced forms of the disease.

The treatment, which combines existing techniques in a novel way, involves injecting tumours with tiny oxygen-filled bubbles coated with an inactive drug. Ultrasound is used to activate the drug and release the oxygen, which makes the drug work more effectively on tumours.

Conventional cancer treatments such as radiotherapy and some chemotherapies are often limited by poor oxygen supply in solid tumours.

“When our microbubbles burst, they provide a temporary boost in the amount of oxygen available in the tumour, enhancing the effectiveness of techniques that require oxygen to work,” according to Prof John Callan of the University of Ulster.


Patients with pancreatic cancer tend to present late because the disease has few early symptoms. By then, the tumour tends to be large and well established, making surgical intervention largely unsuccessful.

By reducing the size of the tumour, the therapy may make surgery an option for more patients, as well as increasing palliative care options.

The survival rate for pancreatic cancer is one of the lowest of all forms of the disease, at 4 per cent, a figure that hasn’t changed in 40 years.

Globally, more than 200,000 cases are diagnosed annually; in Ireland, former among those who have died from the disease in recent years.

The total’s earth’s underground water now quantified by an Canadian team


The total amount of groundwater on the planet, held in rock and soil below our feet, is estimated to be 23 million cubic km.

If this volume is hard to visualise, imagine the Earth’s entire land surface covered in a layer some 180m deep.

The new calculation comes from a Canadian-led team and is published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Significantly, little of this water – just 6% – is the kind of bankable resource that is most useful to people.

That small fraction is referred to as “modern” groundwater: it is extractable because it is near the surface, and can be used to supplement above-ground resources in rivers and lakes.

“It’s the groundwater that is the most quickly renewed – on the scale of human lifetimes,” explained study leader Tom Gleeson from the University of Victoria.

“And yet this modern groundwater is also the most sensitive to climate change and to human contamination. So, it’s a vital resource that we need to manage better.”

Finite resource

To quantify just how much water is stored in the top 2km of the Earth’s surface, Dr Gleeson’s team had to combine large data sets with an element of modelling.

They included information on the permeability of rocks and soil, on their porosity, and all that is known about water table gradients, which tell you about inputs from precipitation.

Key to determining the age of all this stored water is a collection of thousands of tritium measurements.

Tritium is a radioactive form of hydrogen that spiked in the atmosphere 50 years ago as a result of thermonuclear bomb tests.

It can therefore be used as a tracer for all the rain that has made its way underground ever since.E

The map above shows the distribution of this modern groundwater around the globe.

Dark blue shows where it is very quickly renewed. Light blue shows the older groundwater, which is mostly stagnant and non-renewable.

“Old water is highly variable,” Dr Gleeson told BBC News.

“Some places it is quite deep, in some places not. In many places, it can be poor quality.

“It can be more saline even than ocean water and it can have lots of dissolved metals and other chemicals that would need to be treated before it could be used for drinking or agriculture.”

This puts further emphasis on the modern reserves and the need to manage them in a sustainable way. The study underlines just how unevenly they are spread around the globe.

The next step, Dr Gleeson said, was to try to work out just how fast some water stores were being depleted.

Also writing in Nature Geoscience, Ying Fan, from Rutgers University, US, commented that “this global view of groundwater will, hopefully, raise awareness that our youngest groundwater resources – those that are the most sensitive to anthropogenic and natural environmental changes – are finite”.