News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Saturday 28th November 2015

Fine Gael’s new vote gain plan to lure 70,000 emigrants back with proposals to include tax breaks

   

Some of the proposals being put forward by Fine Gael to attract more than 70,000 emigrants home by 2020 include tax breaks; plans to help parents register children in schools from abroad; and recognising time abroad as time served in public service jobs.

However, doubts have been cast over the ability of the party to deliver the plan given the chronic shortage of suitable housing.

Details of the proposals, obtained by the Irish Examiner, are being drafted by Finance Minister Michael Noonan along with Minister for Jobs, Enterprise, and Innovation Richard Bruton and junior minister Simon Harris. The trio has been asked by Taoiseach Enda Kenny to form the party’s economic team ahead of the election.

Mr Noonan and many within Fine Gael had hoped to announce a wide-ranging package of measures for emigrants to return home in last month’s budget, but they hit a snag and were omitted. Despite the setback, the party remains deeply committed to bringing forward a package of measures to help the move home become much easier.

The party is still examining a range of “practical logistical measures” which could ease the transition home, especially for young families. It is understood the party is seeking to deliver a plan that would enable parents register their children in schools here before they move home, which they cannot do at present.

Another proposal being developed is to allow public servants factor in time served abroad as part of their service should they move back home to work for the State. This would have significant ramifications for public pay and pensions policy, but party sources have said such a move could help fill gaping holes in the skill set.

“Helping bring emigrants home is a big thing for us in Fine Gael and we are examining ways to help the move home, particularly with many practical logistical issues,” said one minister.

“But we all have family members abroad, be they sons, daughters, brothers whatever who we want to see come home,” the minister added.

Mr Kenny said that next year, for the first time since the economic crisis began, Ireland could expect to welcome home more people than will leave.

Earlier this year, the HSE began a campaign aimed at encouraging Irish nurses and midwives to return home. They hope to recruit 500 workers by offering a relocation package of up to €1,500, paying first-time nursing registration fees and funding postgraduate education.

Fintan McNamara of the Residential Landlords Association said there is already a chronic shortage of homes in the rental sector with many landlords leaving the industry. “People returning home will find it difficult [and] they may have to move home for a while. There is just not enough supply there,” he said.

Meanwhile: –

Staff-starved Central Bank allowing it’s best staff to transfer to the ECB in Europe?

    

Left the Central Bank headquarters in Dublin and right the ECB in Germany.

The Central Bank is allowing staff to transfer to the European Central Bank, despite claiming it has too few employees in Dublin to supervise the banks, the Irish Independent has learned.

Financial Regulator Cyril Roux said the Bank will lose more of its supervisory staff to the ECB next year, placing further stresses on the strength of banking supervision in Ireland.

Mr Roux said staff are attracted by the move to the new pan-European supervisory unit in Frankfurt in part because of the “much better” terms and conditions.

Add public sector pay restrictions in Ireland into the mix and the challenge of replacing those who have left, and it leaves the Central Bank under pressure, Mr Roux said.

The claims come amid controversy over retention schemes at the Central Bank put in place to ensure key staff do not leave.

“They [staff moving to Frankfurt] have been attracted by the exciting challenge of working abroad, in helping establish the SSM (Single Supervisory Mechanism), and the much better financial terms and employment conditions offered to them,” Mr Roux told the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland Banking Union conference.

“A second wave of supervisors is expected to leave the Central Bank and other national competent authorities next year, as the ECB will be increasing its SSM headcount by 25pc,” he said.

“Combined with the familiar constraint of FEMPI (Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest), this will bring further stresses to the bench strength of banking supervision in the Central Bank, and to the challenge of replenishing once more our ranks.”

However, a spokeswoman for the Central Bank confirmed that those who have gone to the SSM are essentially on secondment as they will be able to return to the Central Bank. She said 20 staff overall have left.

“Their positions here are filled on a specified-purpose basis until they return from SSM – none have permanently left as such,” the spokeswoman added.

She confirmed that Dame Street is not obliged to agree to these secondments, but suggested it will not block them, despite the alleged staffing pressures.

“While we’re not obliged to let staff take secondments, the Central Bank values secondment opportunities for staff and views them as an enabler to gaining valuable experience and enhanced skills,” she said.

The claims come as staff at the Central Bank are to vote on a motion of no confidence in the management of the organisation amid the controversy over retention payments for certain staff. The Central Bank has denied it is paying bonuses in breach of Government policy, insisting there are two retention payment schemes.

75% of Ireland’s GPs suffer from high stress,

A new survey reveals

New review shows high level of demoralisation and risk of burnout among doctors

   

Three out of four Irish family doctors suffer from high stress, according to a new survey. 

Stressed, depressed and often unable to take a break, even for a short period – a new survey reveals the extent of disillusionment and demoralisation among Irish GPs

Three out of four family doctors said they suffered from high stress and almost half reported poor or very poor morale, according to the survey by the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP).

Three-quarters of those responding said morale had worsened over the past five years.

The impact of manpower shortages on general practice is evident in a finding that more than half of GPs who tried to recruit a sessional doctor or assistant in the past year were unable to do so.

Locum recruitment

Only 44 per cent of GPs seeking to recruit a locum were able to do so on more than half the occasions they tried.

Rural GPs were least successful at recruiting cover, the survey found.

The ICGP, which holds its winter meeting in Athlone today, said it had been warning of manpower shortages and risks to the viability of the profession for years as large numbers of trainees and graduates are attracted to better conditions abroad.

After a year of often bruising interactions between the Government and the profession, the survey finds 90 per cent of doctors feel communication between the Government and GPs has failed both doctors and patients.

ICGP medical director Dr Margaret O’Riordan said the survey showed for the first time the extent of falling morale among members caused by worsening underinvestment in general practice.

Professional burnout

“Research shows that factors such as work overload, lack of control over work demands and insufficient reward for work volume and complexity are risks for professional burnout.

“The high prevalence of these risk factors among Irish GPs would suggest that this is a high probability for many,” she said.

Promoting job satisfaction and morale, in addition to addressing issues such as administrative demands, would help to retain the current workforce, she said.

Most of the 815 GPs who responded to the survey felt free GP care to under-sixes and over-70s would impact on waiting times for patients, though one-third said free care for over-70s would result in improved monitoring of patients’ health needs.

Although the Government has placed great emphasis on the development of primary care, only 13 per cent of GPs felt they were working in a well- functioning primary care team, and less than a quarter indicated a preference for co-locating with a primary care team.

PERSONALLY TAILORED DIABETES CARE REDUCES MORTALITY IN WOMEN BUT NOT MEN

    

A follow up study to assess the effects of personally tailored diabetes care in general practice has revealed that such care reduces mortality in women, but not men, according to a report published on The Lancet.

After six years of tailored treatment, no effect was seen on mortality and other anticipated non-fatal effects. However, the observed effect of structured personal care on reducing glycated haemoglobin (HbA1c – a standard method for measuring blood glucose control) measured 6 years after diagnosis was present only in women.

For the latest study, the authors followed the same participants until 2008. Of these, 478 were women and 492 were men. Women given specific recommendations about diet and exercise were 30 per cent less likely to die from diabetes-related causes than those given routine care, Danish scientists found.

The results showed women given personal care plans were 26 per cent less likely to die of any cause and 30 per cent less likely to die of a diabetes-related cause than women given routine care. Women given the personal care intervention were also 41% less likely to suffer a stroke, and 35% less likely to experience any diabetes-related endpoint. According to Dr Marlene Krag from the University of Copenahgen, the structured form of care provides women with much needed attention and support, which helps them adhere to treatment plans. She said:

‘Women accept disease and implement disease management more easily, which might affect long-term outcomes’. But when it comes to men, the daily consideration and lifestyle changes that diabetes demands can challenge masculinity. Essentially, the structured approach of such diabetes care goes against “men’s tendency to trust self-directed learning instead of self-management”.

“We propose that the improved outcomes in woman may be explained by complex social and cultural issues of gender”. And added we need to re-think how care is provided to men and women ‘so that both sexes benefit from intensified treatment efforts’.

Snakes lost their limbs when they started living in Burrows!

    

An ancient skull (Right Pic.) shows the secret as to why snakes lost their legs.

A new study carried out by researchers from the American Museum of Natural History and the University of Edinburgh claims to have solved a long-term puzzle related to evolution of snakes.

Scientists usually have different opinions about why and how snakes went from walking to slithering. Many scientists believe snakes lost their legs after they started living in the sea or water. However, the latest study reveals that the limbs of snakes became redundant when they started living and hunting in burrows.

In this study, researchers analyzed CT scans of a 90-million-years old fossil of Dinilysia Patagonica snake and compared them with scans of modern reptiles. Dinilysia Patagonica was a 2-metre long stem snake closely related to modern snakes. Researchers analyzed scans of the bony inner ear of this snake and found that bony canals and cavities of this snake controlled its balance and hearing. Three-dimensional virtual models were created to compare the inner ears of Dinilysia Patagonica with those of modern snakes and lizards.

A distinctive structure was found within the inner ears of reptiles/animals that live in burrow, and according to scientists, this distinctive structure most likely helped animals in detecting prey and predators. This structure is however not found in modern snakes that live in sea or above ground.

“How snakes lost their legs has long been a mystery to scientists, but it seems that this happened when their ancestors became adept at burrowing.” said Dr Hongyu Yi, the lead author from Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences.

“The inner ears of fossils can reveal a remarkable amount of information, and are very useful when the exterior of fossils are too damaged or fragile to examine.” he explained.

The findings also confirmed that Dinilysia patagonica is the largest burrowing snake ever known. The results also indicate about a hypothetical ancestral species (of all modern snakes) that was likely a burrower.

“This discovery would not have been possible a decade ago – CT scanning has revolutionised how we can study ancient animals.” said Mark Norell, of the American Museum of Natural History, who took part in this study.

“We hope similar studies can shed light on the evolution of more species, including lizards, crocodiles and turtles.”

The results of this study have been published in journal Science Advances.

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