News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Wednesday 10th February 2016

Can Fine Gael ‘prop up’ FF-led coalition, asks the Irish media

‘Under no circumstances are we going in as one leg on three-legged stool for FG or anyone else’


“We absolutely aim to be the lead party, and under no circumstances are we going in as one leg on a three-legged stool for Fine Gael or indeed with anybody else – and that is emphatic.

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Niall Collins has said he would not have a problem with Fine Gael “propping up” a Fianna Fáil-led government.

Mr Collins said Fianna Fáil was contesting the election to again become the largest political party in the country, with a total of 71 candidates running in 40 constituencies.

“We absolutely aim to be the lead party, and under no circumstances are we going in as one leg on a three-legged stool for Fine Gael or indeed with anybody else – and that is emphatic,” he said.

Mr Collins said if Fianna Fáil ended up as the biggest party after the election, “well then that’s a different kettle of fish”.

Asked about the possibility of bringing Fine Gael into government in those circumstances, Mr Collins continued: “If we’re the biggest party, if they want to come in and prop us up, that’s a different kettle of fish…something I wouldn’t have a problem with”.

Different ethos

He insisted Fianna Fáil would not “prop up” Enda Kenny as taoiseach or a Fine Gael-led government, saying Fianna Fáil had an entirely different ethos.

“Fine Gael stands for the richest and the wealthiest in society. The policies that they’ve implemented over successive years in Government now over the last five years and their budgets have impacted disproportionately on the people who can least afford to pay,” he said.

“It has always been our ethos as a republican party, fairness and equality in terms of our policies…So there is a huge divergence.”

The national interest?

He said Fianna Fáil always acted in the national interest.

Mr Collins was speaking at his party’s election headquarters on Wednesday following the launch of Fianna Fáil’s crime policy.

The party’s director of elections Billy Kelleher told The Irish Times in November that the party, which currently has 21 seats, could secure about 40 “on a very good day”, while more than 35 would represent a major achievement.

The minimum number of seats required to form a government in the next Dáil will be 79.

The Tánaiste Joan says: No seat is safe in this General Election except mine?????


The Tánaiste Joan Burton says “no seat is safe” in the upcoming general election.

The Labour Party are continuing their pitch to the people with their plans for economic and social progress should they be re-elected.

The party are attempting to return to a coalition government, but face a difficult task to come near the 37 seats won in 2011.

On a threat to Labour seats from both Sinn Féin and Fine Gael, Labour leader Joan Burton told Newstalk Breakfast: “It is really the month of living dangerously and you have to be very robust and very tough”.

“On certain issues, Fine Gael has converted, yes, to the Labour Party view – they now accept that the USC was a second income tax and that its reform is a vital part of our recovery in the future.”

She also suggested that Labour candidates would be safe from Fine Gael.

On whether Fine Gael may take Labour Minister Alex White’s seat in Dublin-Rathdown, Ms Burton said: “Fine Gael won’t take Alex’s seat, because what have Fine Gael to offer?”.

But at the same time, she admitted: “No seat is safe in this election for any party”, but when asked if her own seat was safe, she replied: “Absolutely”.

However she added: “I need the number ones and I need the support of all the people who support me.”

‘Humour is the key to a happy marriage’


Actors Ben Stiller (L) and Christine Taylor attend the “Zoolander 2” World Premiere at Alice Tully Hall on February 9, 2016 in New York City.

Actor Ben Stiller credits a good sense of humour for his happy marriage.

The funny man wed actress Christine Taylor over 15 years ago, and the couple is still going strong.

Looking happier than ever at the New York premiere of Ben’s new movie Zoolander 2 on Tuesday, they were happy to chat to the media about what keeps the romance alive.

“I think you got to laugh,” the actor told Entertainment Tonight when asked for the key to a happy Hollywood marriage, “because, you know, after a while life is life, you know? We all have to deal with what life throws at us, so you got to have a sense of humour about it. If you can share that, at the end, it makes a huge difference.”

Ben and Christine, 44, married in May, 2000 after meeting on the set of TV show Heat Vision and Jack, and Ben previously opened up to Parade magazine about the moment he realised the actress was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.

“(Our) relationship was a gradual thing that happened over a quick period of time, maybe seven or eight months,” he said. “We just started hanging out with each other and it developed into, ‘Wow, this feels great. I really like this person. I think I love this person. I really do – I love this person.’ It hit me out of the blue.”

The couple, who star in the Zoolander sequel, brought their two children, 13-year-old daughter Ella and 10-year-old son Quinlin, to the premiere – and the little boy stole the show from his parents.

As the family gathered together for the awaiting photographers on the red carpet, Quinlin did his best ‘Blue Steel’ stare, becoming the perfect mini-me to Ben’s Zoolander model character.

A new pill ‘could stop people committing suicide in just seven days’

Scientists now claim


If their findings are validated by a larger group of subjects, the pill could be the answer to stopping suicidal thoughts

The new findings could provide a life-saving pill.

Scientists are developing a pill they claim can stop people from committing suicide .

Early results show how it can stop people from having suicidal thoughts in just seven days thanks to the use of opioids – the brain’s natural ‘feel good’ chemical.

Researchers gave low doses of an opioid to a group of 40 people deemed in danger of taking their own lives and their suicidal thoughts dropped by half.

By comparison a second placebo group experienced virtually no change during the month-long trial.

The tests, which were carried out at Washington State University in America, used an opioid called buprenorphine, traditionally used as a pain killer.

Results indicated the patients had a reversal of suicidal thoughts in just a week, according to the New Scientist

A Breakthrough: Usually it takes at least six weeks for medication to kick in

If the drug is validated in larger studies it could become the ever first fast-acting anti-suicide drug.

It can take at least six weeks for traditional methods such as counselling or antidepressants to have an affect.

Read more: Stephen Fry was suicidal and doctors wanted to section him

The development comes as new figures show suicide rates among women in the UK are up by 14 per cent.

Figures last week from the Office of National Statistics showed there were 1,181 female suicides in England during 2014 – a 14 per cent increase from the year before and the highest rate since 2005.

Read more: Student rate rises 3% in England – but it’s falling in other UK countries

Overall though in 2014 there was a drop in the number of total suicide, with 6,122 in the UK, down from 6,242 the previous year.

The figures showed Northern Ireland has the highest number in the UK with 16.5 suicides per 100,000 head of population followed by Scotland on 14.5, England on 10.3 and Wales on 9.2.

Parts of intellectual disability centre in Kildare to shut after Hiqa inspections

Units to shut at St Raphael’s centre in Kildare run by St John of God Community Services


St John of God Community Services regional director Phil Gray said the improvements required were accepted fully and that corrective action plans had been submitted to Hiqa.

Parts of a Kildare-based centre for people with intellectual disabilities are to be closed after inspections found serious concerns over their welfare and health and safety.

The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) carried out 10 unannounced inspections at the St Raphael’s centre run by the St John of God Community Services in north Kildare last year after earlier inspections found major concerns.

Some 137 residents in total are accommodated on the site in seven designated centres.

It said the inspections found evidence of poor institutional practices, poor outcomes for residents and areas of risk to residents relating to safeguarding and health and safety.

Poor managerial oversight and governance arrangements were also a recurrent finding in these designated centres, Hiqa said.

“Due to the seriousness of the concerns, Hiqa issued a series of immediate actions, warning letters and held regulatory and escalation meetings with the provider and members of senior management.

“Due to a failure of the provider to implement effective improvements for residents, Hiqa issued notices of proposal to cancel the registration of three of the centres on this campus.”

Safety and welfare

Hiqa said the provider subsequently issued plans for the closure of one designated centre, and transitional plans to provide alternative living arrangements for a number of other residents which addressed their safety, welfare and quality of life.

“The most recent inspections have confirmed that the provider has undertaken substantive changes in governance and management across this campus.”

In one centre, inspectors found a high level of reported accidents, incidents and near misses.

“Inspectors found that in the four months since the previous inspection there had been 111 recorded incidents. These incidents ranged in severity and included instances of residents hitting other residents, resident falls and suspected falls, residents grabbing/hitting out at staff, residents’ self-injurious behaviour and unexplained injuries to residents.

“The provider had failed to put in place adequate control measures to reduce or prevent adverse incidents and events from reoccurring since the previous inspection.”

In one serious incident, a resident exhibited “complex behaviours and had ingested an inedible object”.

Residents continued to be exposed to “an unacceptable level of risk”.

One of the 10 reports published by Hiqa on Wednesday said the system of health and social planning was “not effective to support residents’ health and social care needs on a consistent basis”.

Insufficient staff? Staff numbers were also very insufficient.

Inspectors were “very concerned” in one case that there were systems in place to protect the residents from financial abuse.

In another instance, staff did not have a clear understanding of which residents had epilepsy and of whether they had been prescribed emergency rescue medication.

St John of God Community Services regional director Phil Gray said the improvements required were accepted fully and that corrective action plans had been submitted to Hiqa.

“In the intervening months, staff at the designated centres together with members of the management team, who are committed to the provision and development of quality person-centred residential services, have brought about significant improvements in the quality of life of the residents in these designated centres.”

The service was also working in partnership with the HSE and with the residents and their families to prioritise the transitioning of residents from these designated centres.


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