News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Tuesday 8th December 2015

Exposed ‘political misconduct’ utterly unacceptable says Enda Kenny

   

Enda Kenny said the “kind of behaviour” highlighted by an RTE programme on Monday night last had no place in public life.

Alleged political misconduct exposed by undercover reporters is “utterly unacceptable”, Enda Kenny has told the Dail.

The Taoiseach said the “kind of behaviour” highlighted by an RTE programme on Monday night had “no place in public life”.

In the Standards in Public Life expose a number of councillors were approached by undercover reporters claiming to be from a company developing a wind farm.

Three politicians were filmed allegedly offering to lobby for the company in exchange for money, the promise of a loan or an investment in a private business.

One of the councillors filmed – Sligo’s Fianna Fail councillor Joe Queenan – has resigned from the party in the wake of the documentary.

During leaders’ questions in the Dail, Mr Kenny commented on the content of the TV investigation.

“It is utterly unacceptable for any public representative to use their position for financial and personal gain,” he said.

“There can be no place in public life for the kind of behaviour that was witnessed on the RTE programme last evening.

“Public representatives are required to comply fully with the codes of conduct governing their duties.”

Mr Kenny was responding to a question from Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams.

Mr Adams highlighted the RTE disclosures as evidence the Government had done little to crack down on misconduct in public life, claiming planned new regulatory measures lacked independence.

“You have had five years to deal with this Taoiseach – five wasted years,” said Mr Adams.

Irish Government plans to establish flood warning system

Simon Coveney says business people affected by flooding facing real financial difficulties

    

(Above let) Rescue teams evacuate people from their homes after Storm Desmond caused flooding in Carlisle, England.

The Cabinet is to announce plans to establish a new flood warning system.

The Minister for the Office of Public Works Simon Harris is to discuss a number of new measures at today’s meeting.

The proposals include allocating 15 members of staff to Met Eireann to establish a new flood warning system at a cost of €2.5 million.

Ireland is the only country not to have such a forecasting system in place.

The Cabinet will also discuss distributing funds to the Irish Red Cross to give to businesses damaged by the floods.

The money, which will be capped, will be given to businesses in towns identified by the OPW as being at risk of flooding.

It is also expected to consider a review of the flood insurance.

Speaking on his way into Government Buildings on Tuesday morning, Minister for Defence and Agriculture Simon Coveney said business people affected by flooding were facing real financial difficulties as Christmas approached.

“The problem in relation to businesses has always been that the legislation actually dealing with humanitarian flood relief doesn’t actually cater for businesses,” he said.

“So we’re looking at whether we can find a way to provide some financial assistance to small businesses who in the build-up to Christmas, most of them retail outlets, have found themselves looking forward to probably the best Christmas in 10 years.”

He said they were now dealing with throwing carpets out on the street and lifting water-damaged wooden floors.

“We’ll try to be as helpful as we can but I don’t want to over-promise until we have a Cabinet discussion on it.”

Mr Coveney said he understood why people affected by flooding were feeling worried, angry and frustrated. He said he understood Department of Social Protection officials were “knocking on doors” telling people how they could avail of financial supports.

Former singer dies in Monagan floods as “Desmond” causes damage over Ireland

70-year-old performed with Plattermen in 1960s and 70s

      

Ivan Vaughan (above left who played with the Platermen under the name Simon Scott) died during a storm at the weekend in Co Monaghan.

The body of a man, believed to have been trapped in his car on a flooded road, has been found in Co Monaghan.

Singer Ivan Vaughan – who performed with the Plattermen under the name Simon Scott in the 1960s and 70s – was driving home from a gig in Glaslough in the county when he’s believe to have become trapped in a dipped part of a flooded road.

Mr Vaughan (70) was reported missing yesterday morning and a post mortem is due to take place in today.

Meanwhile, a number of weather-related fatalies took place over the past few days in Britain.

A body, thought to be that of an elderly man, was discovered in the swollen River Kent in Cumbria.

A 90-year-old man, Ernie Crouch, died after he was apparently blown into the side of a moving bus by strong winds near Finchley Central Tube station in London on Saturday.

Some rivers across the country remain in a “perilous” state following Storm Desmond, and the flood risk may persist for more than a week according to the National Emergency Co-ordination Council.

Local authorities have warned more flooding is probable in the first half of this week, with councils in Westmeath, Limerick and Clare all informing residents of potential risks to property.

  • Emergency fund of €5m allocated to storm victims
  • Dread in Clonmel persists despite success of flood relief measures
  • Galway farmer relives nightmare of ruinous deluge

Houses in the low-lying areas of Athlone such as Deerpark and Carrickobrien/Clonbonny may be susceptible to rising water levels on the river Shannon, according to Westmeath County Council, while a “significant release of water” from Parteen Weir by the ESB could affect properties in southeast Clare and Co Limerick as well as the University of Limerickgrounds.

The ESB has also warned there may be flooding of roads and lands upstream of Cork city over the coming days as it increases discharges from its dams at Inniscarra and Carrigadrohid on the River Lee.

Members of the National Emergency Coordination Council met on Monday afternoon to discuss severe weather events over the weekend. Chairman Seán Hogan said the rivers Shannon and Moy are “particularly on edge” with further flooding expected along the upper Shannon later this week.

Towns such as Ballybofey in Donegal, Crossmolina in Mayo, Ballinasloe inGalway and Bandon in Cork were worst affected as an unprecedented 100mm of rain fell over a 24-hour period across parts of the west on Friday and Saturday.

Some ESB substations, water and wastewater treatment plants were also affected, and boil water notices have been issued in some areas as a precautionary measure.

“We have seen the images of nature in action over the weekend, and despite the warnings and the efforts of all involved, properties were affected by flood waters in Cork, Kerry, Clare, Mayo, Sligo, Donegal and indeed in other areas,” Mr Hogan said.

“This is terrible in the run up to Christmas. For some, this is a repeat of previous experiences of flooding, so they know what the pain is and it’s worse for that.

“Some rivers remain at critical level and the Shannon is still rising. There may well be further episodes of flooding, and experience tells us that waters will not recede for days and indeed for weeks in some parts of the country,” he said.

The country was already saturated following higher than average amounts of rainfall during November, and further inclement weather up until Wednesday may exacerbate the situation and make relief efforts more difficult.

Traders and residents in Bandon are continuing the clean-up effort after about 30 businesses were flooded on Saturday, with many unhappy about delays in implementing a €10 million flood relief scheme for the area.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio on Monday, Minister of State with responsibility for the Office of Public Works Simon Harris said “shovels will be in the ground” for the scheme by the middle of 2016.

Elsewhere, 48 elderly residents had to be evacuated from a nursing home in Foxford during a rescue operation which lasted until 3.30am on Monday morning. A similar scene unfolded in Ballytivnan, Co Sligo, where 13 nursing home residents were evacuated amid rising flood waters.

The Civil Defence was called on to help move residents from parts of Athleague where the River Suck burst its banks.

The Irish Farmers’ Association said thousands of acres of farmland have been “devastated” following the weekend’s deluge, and has called on Government ministers to visit the worst-affected areas.

Prostate cancer therapy now linked to Alzheimer’s risk

       

Men taking a treatment for prostate cancer known as androgen deprivation therapy may be almost twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than men not taking ADT, a study has found.

While the research in the December 7 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology stopped short of showing any definitive cause-and-effect between ADT and Alzheimer’s, scientists said the association raises concern and merits further study.

“We wanted to contribute to the discussion regarding the relative risks and benefits of ADT, and no one had yet looked at the association between ADT and Alzheimer’s disease,” said lead author Kevin Nead, a doctor at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

“Based on the results of our study, an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease is a potential adverse effect of ADT, but further research is needed before considering changes to clinical practice.”

The findings are based on two large sets of medical records, covering about five million patients, of whom 16,888 received a diagnosis of prostate cancer.

Some 2,400 of the prostate cancer patients had received ADT, and had the necessary follow-up records for the data analysis, the study said.

Researchers compared the ADT patients with a control group of non-ADT prostate cancer patients, and found that the ADT group had significantly more Alzheimer’s diagnoses in the years following the initiation of androgen-lowering therapy.

“By the most sophisticated measure, members of the ADT group were about 88 percent more likely to get Alzheimer’s during the follow-up period,” said the study.

The longer patients took ADT, the greater their risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

About a half million men in the United States take ADT, a therapy that suppresses production of the male hormones known as androgens, which can play a key role in stimulating prostate cell growth.

Side-effects of reducing androgen activity can include low testosterone levels, impotence, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and depression.

Previous studies have suggested that low levels of the hormone testosterone may weaken the aging brain’s resistance to Alzheimer’s.

New breakthrough on pain-killing patches with ibuprofen have been developed

   

A photo of the new pain-killing patch

University researchers have helped to devise and patent a “breakthrough” pain-killing patch delivering effective doses of ibuprofen directly through the skin.

The transparent adhesive patch, developed by a partnership between the University of Warwick and Coventry-based spin-out company Medherant, could pave the way for other “long-acting” treatments for back pain and arthritis.

Billed as a world first, the technology contained in the patch is able to deliver a prolonged high dose of ibuprofen at a consistent rate by incorporating the drug into a sticky polymer matrix.

University of Warwick research chemist Professor David Haddleton said: “Many commercial patches surprisingly don’t contain any pain relief agents at all, they simply soothe the body by a warming effect.

“Our technology now means that we can for the first time produce patches that contain effective doses of active ingredients such as ibuprofen for which no patches currently exist.”

The CEO of Medherant, Nigel Davis, believes the patches could lead to economic benefits for the healthcare system by delivering drugs more efficiently.

“Our first products will be over-the-counter pain relief patches and through partnering we would expect to have the first of those products on the market in around two years,

Ireland ranked the 12th best country in world survey on climate challenge

Europe ‘risks falling behind’ as other countries boost invest in renewables

     Delegates walk among poles bearing national flags at entrance to the COP21 world climate change conference. Photograph: EPA/Ian Langsdon

Delegates walk among poles bearing national flags at entrance to the COP21 world climate change conference.

Ireland is ranked in 12th place in a survey of the climate change performance of almost 60 countries worldwide, released by Germanwatch and Climate Action Network (Can) Europe at COP21.

Given that the first three places are vacant, because none of the countries surveyed are said to be doing enough to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, Ireland’s position is effectively in ninth place on the list.

The highest place is still occupied by Denmark for the fifth consecutive year, even though its new conservative government has recently pulled back on the country’s drive to achieve independence from fossil fuels.

Next comes Britain, follow by Sweden, Belgium, France, Cyprus Morocco, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Malta and Latvia. Saudi Arabia, not for the first time, brings up the rear in 61st place.

Lurking down near the bottom of the list — based on data compiled by local NGOs — are Turkey, in 50th place, follow by Estonia, Taiwan, Russia, Iran, Singapore, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Australia and Kazakhstan.

For the first time, in this 11th edition of the Climate Change Performance Index, the authors applaud signs of a slowdown — and even a halt — in the growth of global emissions due to a rapid take-up of renewable energy.

Lead author Jan Burck, of Germanwatch, said: “The years 2013 and 2014 saw for the first time a higher amount of newly installed capacity from renewables than from all other energy sources combined.”

Although European countries still rank high, profiting from their early start in development of climate policies, the EU now “risks falling behind” as other countries “invest in renewable energy on a massive scale”.

The two largest emitters, the US (in 34th place) and China (in 47th), have both improved their rankings as a result of better policy evaluations, big investments in renewable energy and their start to shift away from coal.

One of the winners this year is France. Just in time for its COP21 presidency, the country climbed six places to arrive in the Top 10, mainly due the low level of per-capita emissions and a decreasing emission trend.

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