News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Wednesday 25th November 2015

Ireland in ‘A coalition of devils’

Says an alleged Islamic State video

Department of Justice says terror threats being monitored as group vows it will ‘burn’ enemies


A new video allegedly from ISIS is asking the world to ‘bring it on’. The video features the Irish flag among what the booming American voice over describes as the ‘coalition of devils’.

A video claiming to have been issued by the Islamic State group has included Ireland as part of “a coalition of devils” that has formed against it, before threatening to “burn” its enemies.

The authenticity of the video – which models itself on a Hollywood film trailer – cannot be vouched for, but it bears a strong resemblance to others issued by the group over recent months.

Flags from a host of countries, led off by the United States and the United Kingdom, but including Ireland, are displayed, though no specific reference to Ireland is made in the accompanying voiceover.

“There’s your coalition of devils with Iran, Turkey and Russia joining the fray. That’s because the Millah of Kufr [unbelievers] will also unite you to fight the truth. So bring it on – all of you. Your numbers only increase us in faith.

“We’re counting your banners, which our prophet said would reach 80 in number and then the flames of war will finally burn you on the hills of death,” the American-accented voice declares.

On Wednesday, the Department of Justice said international terrorism threats were kept under constant review: “The Minister and the Garda Commissioner maintain regular, ongoing contact on security matters,” said a spokesman.

People before Profit said the threat showed the need to block American military from using Shannon.

Labour party to seek a cross-party consensus on abortion legislation

Proposal to repeal eight amendment to be key demand for party after general election


Sinead Ahern, chair of Labour Women, and Senator Ivana Bacik during the launch by Labour Women of the General Scheme of the Labour Women Repeal the 8th Amendment Bill in Buswells Hotel,Dublin.

The Labour Party has published plans to scrap Ireland’s Eighth Amendment ban on abortion – which will form a key demand of the party in post-election coalition negotiations.

The 1983 amendment, which governs Ireland’s abortion laws, enshrined the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn in the Constitution.

Labour Senator Ivana Bacik said Labour’s proposals would allow for abortion under four medically-certifiedgrounds: risk to life; risk to health; cases of rape; and fatal foetal abnormality.

It would also decriminalise abortion.

“The Labour Party is the party of social change and we are including a commitment in our manifesto to hold a referendum to repeal the eighth amendment if returned to Government,” Ms Bacik said.

“Labour Women have produced this framework for the scheme of a Bill which would be introduced by the Labour Party if the eighth amendment is repealed by way of referendum.”

Labour is seeking to build a cross-party consensus, she said. Consultant Obstetrician Dr Peter Boylan, former Supreme Court Judge Catherine McGuinness and former Senator Dr Mary Henry attended the launch.

The chairwoman of Labour Women, Sinead Ahern, said an average of 12 women travelled from Ireland to the UK for abortions every day.

“Abortion is already a reality for women in Ireland and we cannot continue to export this issue. Nobody under the age of 50 has had a chance to vote on whether the eighth amendment should be in our constitution. It’s time we let the people have their say,” Ms Ahern said.

She insisted public opinion on abortion was changing, “and we know that the majority of voters want to repeal the eighth amendment”.

Describing Labour’s stand as “blinkered”, the Pro-Life Campaign’s deputy chairwoman Cora Sherlock said she believed some parents are coming under pressure to abort following the diagnosis of a life-limiting condition.

“The thing that stands out about today’s launch by the Labour Party is the complete absence of any mention of the unborn child’s right to life,” she said.

Ms Sherlock said abortion had “devastating effects” on many women.

Referring to Labour, she said: “Do they seriously think they can run and hide and ignore the grave injustice that abortion involves and its long-lasting effects?”

IFA to challenge former chief of on €2m severance package

IFA President Eddie Downey is stepping down   

Under deal Pat Smith (right pic) received the sum of €1m upfront and €100,000 a year for 10 years.

Eddie Downey (above left), president of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), has resigned just hours after it emerged the organisation would legally challenge a €2 million severance package he is understood to have agreed with its former general secretary Pat Smith.

The executive council of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) has voted unanimously against paying a severance package to its former general secretary Pat Smith.

The vote was taken during an all-day meeting of the national executive in Dublin which heard IFA president Eddie Downey had agreed a €2 million exit package with Mr Smith last week.

The deal, which involved €1 million up front, followed by €100,000 per year for 10 years, was agreed when Mr Smith resigned amid controversy over the size of his pay package.

The association was thrown into crisis this month by revelations Mr Smith received a total two-year pay package of nearly €1 million in 2013 and 2014. He resigned as general secretary in the face of outrage from many farmers at the scale of his pay, which the IFA had not previously made public.

Mr Downey last night announced his resignation as IFA president. He had earlier stood aside from the role pending a major review of corporate governance at the IFA, which is to be carried out by its former chief economist, Con Lucey.


Mr Lucey resigned last year as chairman of the IFA’s audit committee, claiming the committee was being frustrated in its work by Mr Smith.

In a statement, Mr Downey said he was stepping down in the best interests of the association. “I have always demanded the highest levels of governance and accountability within IFA and my clear understanding was that governance and management of IFA was a clear function and responsibility of the senior executive leadership with oversight from elected officers.”

He said it was well known he was determined to be a reforming president. He had worked to get an audit committee up and working.

He had met Mr Lucey and agreed with his proposed solutions to issues to be addressed by the committee, but unfortunately its work had been “frustrated.”

At an emergency meeting of the IFA’s executive council in Dublin yesterday, members were told Mr Smith’s severance agreement was signed by Mr Downey and Mr Smith, but not by IFA treasurer Jer Bergin, financial controller Ken Heade or deputy president Tim O’Leary. The latter three are understood to have opposed the deal.

Mr Smith had been general secretary for six years, but had worked for the IFA for 25 years in a variety of posts.

The IFA confirmed to The Irish Times it would mount a legal challenge to the severance package. Members at the meeting were also informed Mr Smith’s pension pot was worth €2.7 million 12 months ago when he transferred it out of the IFA and into his own possession.

At the meeting, the second in a week, members vented their anger at the board of the IFA over the ongoing pay controversy. Four resolutions from county executives in Galway, Mayo, West Cork and Cavan calling for the entire seven-man board to resign were tabled.

Earlier, the association announced its review of corporate governance, including remuneration, would be carried out by Mr Lucey, who will report back to the council with his recommendations on December 15th. The 53-member council unanimously welcomed Mr Lucey’s involvement, noting it was an “important step forward in rebuilding the trust of farmers”.

Mr Lucey said his recommendations would “reflect the fact that times and corporate governance standards have changed; businesses and organisations are now subject to greater scrutiny as regards how they operate”.


Mr O’Leary, who will undertake the functions of the IFA president during the review, confirmed Mr Lucey had agreed to examine all aspects of the remuneration package of the former general secretary from his appointment in 2009 until his resignation last week. “He will do the same for the president and the deputy president, in order to provide the membership with full transparency,” Mr O’Leary said, adding that the IFA would make all financial data available to Mr Lucey.

Mixing alcohol with diet soft drinks will “get people drunk faster”

According to a new study

  Intoxicated: When men and women were given vodka mixed with either ordinary lemonade or sugar-free lemonade, they became inebriated more quickly with the diet version   

On a boozy night out, many of us reach for diet mixers in the hope it will keep the calorie count down.

But while the artificially-sweetened drinks may not be as bad for our waistlines, experts now warn they could get us drunk faster – even taking us over the drink-drive limit.

US researchers from the Northern Kentucky University studied 20 men and women, breathalysing them after drinking either a vodka and lemonade or vodka and diet lemonade. While the amount of alcohol was the same, the readings were up by 25 per cent for those who’d had diet mixers.

It’s such a big difference that scientists want bars to warn staff and punters of the dangers of going diet.

As for why the readings were so different, it’s believed sugary mixers could act in the same way as food, slowing the passage of alcohol to the bloodstream, claims the research in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal.

The same US team has carried out similar research before, finding that diet mixers could take someone over the drink-drive limit. As test subjects who’d had the low-calorie drink didn’t feel any more inebriated, it could result in people accidentally drink-driving.

Their biggest worry is women, who are often the people who opt for diet drinks.

“While all alcohol consumers should be aware of this phenomenon, it appears more likely that women would select alcohol beverages with a diet mixer given that they are more likely to be conscious of calories in their drinks,” study author Dr. Cecile Marczinski warned.

“Young women may be particularly vulnerable as they frequently use diet mixers with alcohol and they also restrict food intake when drinking to control calorie consumption and, ultimately, body weight.”

Remember though it’s safer not to drink at all on nights when you’re driving.

Those from less well-off areas less likely to beat cancer


The rich-poor divide is continuing to leave people in the least well-off areas of the country facing lower odds of surviving cancer after five years.

Worrying new figures reveal a stark difference in survival rates for two common cancers.

The early data from the National Cancer Registry of Ireland, due to be officially published early next year, shows the five-year survival rates for bowel cancer is 56pc in poor areas. This compares to 64pc for patients with the same disease in more affluent regions.

Poorer patients with lung cancer have a 16pc survival rate.

But survival for the better-off who have lung cancer stands at 22pc.

“Where you live has a significant impact on how long you live,” said Kathleen O’Meara, head of advocacy and communications at the Irish Cancer Society.

The organisation will unveil the sharp divide in cancer survival rates at a conference in Dublin today.

“Cancer affects all parts of Irish society, but some people are more at risk than others,” she pointed out. “The data shows that those in the poorest communities in Ireland have a reduced chance of surviving their cancer diagnosis.

“The new data highlights again that, if you come from a poorer community, you are less likely to survive cancer.

“This is hugely unfair. All communities and backgrounds should have equal access to diagnostics and fast treatment.”

She suggested one of the contributory factors is the ongoing risk of delayed diagnosis by those who cannot afford to pay for scans themselves to find out if their symptoms are cancerous.

This is one of the barriers which is helping to maintain the ‘cancer gap’, where those from the most deprived communities are twice as likely to be diagnosed and die from cancer as those who are the least deprived, she warned.

“The reasons for the gap are multiple, but often the people in these communities have the greatest difficulties in accessing healthcare. Late diagnosis can lead to late treatment and to worse outcomes. In some deprived Dublin areas, there are not enough primary care resources – for instance, in North Dublin there is one GP for every 2,500 people. Nationally, this figure is one for every 1,600.

“It’s going to take a big effort on the part of government, the HSE and organisations like the Irish Cancer Society to take action in closing this worrying divide. But it can be done.”

Betrayals forced early humans to spread across the world


Moral disputes motivated by broken trust and a sense of betrayal motivated early humans to put distance between them and their rivals

Betrayals of trust resulting from moral disputes were a significant reason for such risky dispersals into apparently unwelcoming environments with a desire to avoid physical harm from disgruntled former friends and allies being a key motivation. Photo: iStock

London: Betrayals of trust resulting from moral disputes forced early humans to cross major geographical barriers, including deltas such as the Indus and the Ganges, and spread across the world about 100,000 years ago, a new study has found.

Penny Spikins from the University of York in the UK said that the speed and character of human dispersals changed significantly around 100,000 years ago.

Before that movement of archaic humans were slow and largely governed by environmental events due to population increases or ecological changes. Afterwards populations spread with remarkable speed and across major environmental barriers. Spikins relates this change to changes in human emotional relationships.

Researchers said that neither population increase nor ecological changes provide an adequate explanation for patterns of human movement into new regions which began around 100,000 years ago.

They suggest that as commitments to others became more essential to survival, and human groups ever more motivated to identify and punish those who cheat, the ‘dark’ side of human nature also developed. Moral disputes motivated by broken trust and a sense of betrayal became more frequent and motivated early humans to put distance between them and their rivals.

Larger social networks made it easier to find distant allies with whom to start new colonies, and more efficient hunting technology meant that anyone with a grudge was a danger but it was human emotions which provided the force of repulsion from existing occupied areas which we do not see in other animals.

Early species of hominin were limited in distribution to specific environments such as grasslands and open woodland.

The expansion of Homo erectus out of Africa into Asia around 1.6 million years ago appears to have been caused by the need to find more large scale grasslands.

By contrast, Neanderthals occupied cold and arid parts of Europe. All archaic species adapted slowly to new opportunities for settlement and were often deterred by environmental and climatic barriers.

After 100,000 years ago, dispersal into distant, risky and inhospitable areas became relatively more common compared with movements into already occupied regions. Humans moved into cold regions of Northern Europe, crossed significant deltas such as the Indus and the Ganges, deserts, tundra and jungle environment and even made significant sea crossings to reach Australia and the Pacific islands.

Spikins said that betrayals of trust resulting from moral disputes were a significant reason for such risky dispersals into apparently unwelcoming environments with a desire to avoid physical harm from disgruntled former friends and allies being a key motivation.



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