News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Irish consumers are saving not borrowing, survey finds

Household deposits jump in October by €1.1bn – the most since December 2008

    

Mortgage lending fell by €138 million, down by 2.4% on an annual basis, according to latest figures from the Central Bank.

Lending to Irish households fell again in October, as deposits rose sharply, showing that despite the nascent recovery, Irish consumers are continuing to save, rather than borrow, according to a Central Bank survey.

Lending to consumers fell by 2.5% on an annual basis, as consumers repaid more than they borrowed. During the month, loan repayments exceeded drawdowns by €253 million, as mortgage lending fell by €138 million, down by 2.4% on an annual basis, and loans for other purposes fell by €115 million, down 3% year on year.

While Alan McQuaid, economist with Merrion Capital, noted that an underlying problem is “as much about the lack of demand for credit as it is about the supply of credit”, he also said “ the real issue is the price of credit”.

“Even with record low Eurozone interest rates, small businesses are reporting that the cost of servicing loans here in Ireland has risen quite sharply, which is unsustainable in the long-run. As a result, individuals and firms are now disposing of assets and clearing their borrowings,” he said.

Deposits rose again during the month, up by €3.9 billion to €178 billion, driven by a sharp growth in household deposits.

These rose by €1.1 billion during the month, marking the largest month-on-month increase in this category since December 2008. Deposits grew by 2.6 per cent, on an annual basis, with consumers opting for overnight deposits over their fixed term alternative, with such deposits falling by €5.3 billion in October.

Repeat Irish offender criminals to be targeted under new strategy to tackle crime levels here

       

Minister for Justice & Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD

Two hundred criminals who are classified as ‘repeat offenders’ are to be targeted as part of new strategy involving Gardaí, the Probation Service and the Irish Prison Service.

The Joint Agency Response to Crime initiative (J-ARC) will see offenders take part in programmes to help them reconnect with the families, receiving treatments for problems such as addiction and get help finding training or work placement.

Launching the scheme in Dublin today, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said: “I would also like to oversee a system which aims to reduce the number of victims by a reduction in offending”.

“The launch of J-ARC today is an endorsement of the work done by criminal justice agencies and community organisations together in challenging offending behaviour which has at its centre the needs of victims to feel safer in their communities.”

The J-ARC strategy prioritises certain prolific offenders and to develop specific initiatives which will address their behaviour and reduce crime thereby increasing community safety.

In Ireland it is estimated that 75pc of property crime is linked to 25pc of offenders.

“Targeting this cohort of repeat offenders has the potential to significantly reduce the number of burglaries being committed,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

“While I believe that prison is the right place for serious and serial offenders, listening to the offenders who are participating in the J-ARC programmes clearly demonstrates the real benefit of providing support and hope to those who wish to change their offending ways.

“A change in a person’s offending ways has a direct effect on reducing the number of crime victims.”

Already three pilot schemes have been under way in the capital and Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan said she would like to see the initiative rolled out nationwide in the future.

In Ballymun, a pilot known as STRIVE has targeted prolific offenders within East Ballymun whose behaviour is undermining the community’s quality of life.

Another scheme known as ‘Bridge Change Works Programme’ is targeting adult male offenders living in Dublin with a history of violent crime.

And a third pilot, called Accer3, is for offenders charged with burglary.

Government job strategy targeting 28,000 extra jobs in the north west

Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton will launch plans in Sligo and Drogheda. 

    

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton will launch a job strategy for the north east and north west region today.

A Government job strategy for the north east and north west regions aims to create 28,000 jobs by 2020.

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton will launch the plans in Sligo and Drogheda today.

The North East/North West Action Plan for Jobs is part of the Government’s € 250 million regional jobs strategy.

During the downturn, 31,600 jobs were lost in the region, which covers counties Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Louth,

The new strategy is targeting employment growth of 10-15% over and above current employment levels.

Key sectors targeted as part of the plan include traditionally strong sectors for the region like agri-food, manufacturing/engineering and tourism, as well as areas targeted for future growth like digital payments, clean tech and creative services.

Mr Bruton said: “Jobs are growing right across the country, but they are growing faster in some regions than in others.”

“That is why we have put in place the € 250 million regional jobs strategy, to support regions to play to their strengths and accelerate jobs growth in every area,” he said.

Electronic devices/games making children very ‘tired and cranky’

Children who watch too much TV at ‘significantly higher’ risk of language delay

     

Children under two years who spend a lot of time in front of electronic screens have a ‘significantly higher chance’ of suffering from language delays and poor sleeping habits.

Children are becoming increasingly angry, tired, passive and cranky after using electronic devices such as computers and smart phones, according to a survey into the attitudes of Irish parents.

The research from Early Childhood Ireland found two out of three parents believed it was okay for a young child to use technology freely but warned that by the age of seven the average child would have spent a year of their life watching television and using screen devices.

With the Christmas holidays fast approaching, Early Childhood Ireland is recommending that parents turn off TVs and computers when not in use, establish “screen-free zones” in the home where there are no electronic devices and agree on set times for TV and computer use.

Based on 2013 recommendations from the US Department of Health, Early Childhood Ireland suggested that children under two years of age should not use screen devices at all and that children aged 2-5 years should not watch screens for more than one hour a day.

Parents should also set a good example to their children by restricting their own screen diet.

The Early Childhood Ireland survey, carried out among 332 parents from across the State earlier this year, found 20% of those surveyed felt smart phones made parenting easier, while 72% said the purpose of their child watching TV is relaxation.

It warned that children under two years who spend a lot of time in front of electronic screens had a “significantly higher chance” of suffering from language delays and poor sleeping habits.

Early Childhood Ireland chief executive Teresa Heeney said the research showed a number of worrying trends and contradictions and also the need for parents to have clear parameters around screen time for young children, especially at bedtime.

Some 85% of Irish children under the age of 2 have been exposed to TV or DVDs, the research showed.

The survey also found that while 58% of Irish five-year-olds spend less than two hours in front of a screen, 14% are using screens for more than three hours every day.

UK-based psychologist Dr Aric Sigman warned that some children are spending more time watching TV than they spend in school. Dr Sigman said that by the age of seven, most children will have spent a full year of 24 hours days watching TV or using electronic devises.

Writing in an American Academy of Paediatrics scientific paper published in 2013, Dr Sigman warned that children’s reliance on TV, computers and screen games was causing developmental damage and highlighted the importance of eye-to-eye interaction between parents and young children during the first few years of their life.

The research also found 75% of parents believe technology has educational benefits for young children.

Early Childhood Ireland agrees that technology can be “engaging and empowering” for children over three but only when screen time is carefully monitored and quality content is viewed.

100 million-year-old dog sized dinosaur fossil discovered

Scientist says the teeth of the species curves downwards and outwards in a beak shape

      

An artist’s impression of a dog-sized horned dinosaur (left Pic.) which roamed eastern North America up to 100 million years ago. An aA scientist has uncovered the fossil of a dog-sized horned dinosaur that roamed eastern North America up to 100 million years ago.

The fragment of jaw bone provides evidence of an east-west divide in the evolution of dinosaurs on the North American continent.

During the Late Cretaceous period, 66 to 100 million years ago, the land mass was split into two continents by a shallow sea.

This sea, the Western Interior Seaway, ran from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean.

Dinosaurs living in the western continent, called Laramidia, were similar to those found in Asia.

However, few fossils from the eastern “lost continent” of Appalachia have been discovered as the areas are densely vegetated, making it difficult to discover and excavate fossils.

Dr Nick Longrich, from the Milner Centre for Evolution based at the University’s of Bath’s Department of Biology and Biochemistry, studied one of these rare fossils.

The fossil, kept in the Peabody Museum at Yale University, turned out to be from a member of the horned dinosaurs, the Ceratopsia.

Dr Longrich was unable to identify the exact species accurately but it had a strange twist to the jaw, causing the teeth to curve downward and outwards in a beak shape.

The jaw was also more slender than that of Ceratopsia found in western North America, suggesting the dinosaurs had different diets and evolved along distinct evolutionary paths.

“Just as many animals and plants found in Australia today are quite different to those found in other parts of the world, it seems that animals in the eastern part of North America in the Late Cretaceous period evolved in a completely different way to those found in the western part of what is now North America due to a long period of isolation,” Dr Longrich said.

“This adds to the theory that these two land masses were separated by a stretch of water, stopping animals from moving between them, causing the animals in Appalachia to evolve in a completely different direction, resulting in some pretty weird looking dinosaurs.

“Studying fossils from this period, when the sea levels were very high and the landmasses across the Earth were very fragmented, is like looking at several independent experiments in dinosaur evolution.

“At the time, many land masses — eastern North America, Europe, Africa, South America, India, and Australia — were isolated by water.

“Each one of these island continents would have evolved its own unique dinosaurs — so there are probably many more species out there to find.”

Ceratopsia is a group of plant-eating horned dinosaurs that lived in the Cretaceous period.

The fossil Dr Longrich studied comes from a smaller cousin of the better known Triceratops, the leptoceratopsids — about the size of a large dog.

His study, published in the journal Cretaceous Research, highlights it as the first fossil from a ceratopsian dinosaur identified from this period of eastern North America.

 

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