Daily Archives: April 4, 2016

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Sunday 3rd April 2016

Big surge for Micheal Martin as Taoiseach in new poll shock


Michael Martin & some Independents.

The people overwhelmingly want Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin elected Taoiseach ahead of Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, a significant Sunday Independent/Millward Brown opinion poll has found.

More than twice as many voters prefer Mr Martin (39%) over Mr Kenny (17%) to lead, according to the potentially influential poll.

The findings show that the public mood has decisively turned against Mr Kenny as he continues to struggle to put together a Fine Gael-led minority government.

In a most damaging finding, a little over half (54%) of Fine Gael voters actually want Mr Kenny to be elected Taoiseach.

In fact, far more Fine Gael supporters would prefer health minister Leo Varadkar as party leader.

Last night the Sunday Independent learned Fianna Fail might consider a “partnership” government with Fine Gael if Mr Kenny stood down as leader and Fianna Fail Independent TDs were included in the arrangement.

The poll finds that more voters want a Fianna Fail-led minority government (14%) than one led by Fine Gael (8%). And the nationwide poll also indicates that Fine Gael could lose significant support in the event of a new election, particularly among well-off voters in Dublin.

The nationwide poll contains several results that will alarm Fine Gael and will also inform Independent TDs – whose support is crucial to the formation of the next government – on who the public are leaning towards.

This weekend, Mr Kenny still remains favourite to lead a Fine Gael-led minority government because Fine Gael has seven more TDs than Fianna Fail.

But the decision of 17 Independent TDs will determine whether Mr Kenny or Mr Martin leads the next government.

Fianna Fail leader Mr Martin is attempting to maximise support among Independent TDs and smaller parties.

Yesterday he told the Sunday Independent: “We’re up for it.” He directly appealed to Independents and others to support a “shared” government with Fianna Fail.

Mr Martin said: “This opinion poll shows that the people’s mood for a change of government is still there – if anything it has hardened since the election.”

Fine Gael is this weekend also in behind-the-scenes talks with Independents, and believes it has secured the support of at least four, which would see Mr Kenny win the race for power.

However, today’s opinion poll will give all Independents food for thought and may influence their decision.

The opinion poll was taken among a sample of 865 voters between March 21 and April 1. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.3%.

Asked for a preference to resolve the uncertainty over the formation of the next government, a quarter (27%) favoured a new election.

However, a clear majority wanted a government now rather than another election.

According to the poll, 22% favoured a Fine Gael/Fianna Fail coalition, rising to 43% of FG voters and a significantly less 27% of FF voters.

This finding indicates that Mr Martin has correctly judged that the mood in Fianna Fail is strongly opposed to a so-called ‘grand coalition’.

A further 22% of those polled favoured the formation of some form of minority government, while 11% want some other combination and 18% did not know or expressed no opinion.

However, more people favoured a Fianna Fail-led minority government (14%), rising to 37% of Fianna Fail supporters ahead, of a Fine Gael-led one (8%), rising to 19pc of Fine Gael supporters.

The poll also found that 70% of people would vote the same way if a new election was called, rising to 82% of Fianna Fail supporters, 83% of Sinn Fein voters but just 75% of Fine Gael supporters.

It also found 10% would change the way they voted, highest among well-off AB voters (17%) and Dublin residents (16%), while 5% said it depended and 6% did not know or expressed no opinion.

When preferences for the next Taoiseach were broken down by parties, a massive 84% of Fianna Fail supporters said Micheal Martin, but just 54% of Fine Gael supporters said Enda Kenny.

The poll also found health minister Leo Varadkar (28%) is the preferred Fine Gael leader followed by Agriculture Minister, Simon Coveney (15%), Enda Kenny (12%), Frances Fitzgerald (6%) and Paschal Donohoe (3%). A breakdown of Fine Gael supporters finds Mr Varadkar (38%) with a commanding lead over Mr Kenny (27%), Mr Coveney (16%), Ms Fitzgerald (6%), and Mr Donohoe (1%).

On the Labour leadership, the poll finds Brendan Howlin (16%) ahead of Joan Burton (14%), Alan Kelly (12%), Sean Sherlock (6%) and Ged Nash (4%), but almost half of voters (48%) said none of these, somebody else, had no opinion or said it depended. However, a breakdown of Labour supporters showed Ms Burton (38%) the favourite ahead of Mr Howlin (23%), Mr Kelly (13%), Mr Nash (3%) and Mr Sherlock (2%).

Yesterday Mr Martin said: “For the last month I’ve been reaching out to Independents and smaller parties, like the Social Democrats and the Greens, on the basis that people voted for change. We are genuinely trying to reflect that change in the composition of a new government. As one Independent said to me during the week, people voted for a centre-left government, not a centre-right government.

“We believe a shared government of Fianna Fail, Independents and smaller parties is the obvious way to reflect the people’s opinion. I’ve picked up from my dealings with Independents that they are wary of voting for Enda Kenny and of Fine Gael going back into government because they intuitively know that is not what the people voted for.”

He said that while he was aware the formation of the next government was the duty of all TDs, and he would respect their decision, he said he was “taken aback” by the “very arrogant attitude” of Fine Gael that Independents must vote Fine Gael or there would be an election: “Some Fine Gael spokespeople simply haven’t got the reality of the election result – they need to get that fairly quickly,” he said. Fine Gael was in “no position to be dictating to anybody – they need to get that.” Mr Martin spoke of parliamentary reform proposals which, he said, would “make the Dail a different place” and would “facilitate” a minority led government. He also said he was aware of the “limited financial resources” available, but said a “shared” government could “agree to the fundamentals” which he highlighted as “caring for disability and special needs people”, investment in rural Ireland, and dealing with housing, homelessness and health issues. “We are up for it,” he said.

Ireland’s house buyers are prepared to travel for hour long commute

New figures support ESRI report warning about return of commuter belts


Average price of a three-bed semi in Dublin City and County has risen by 0.6% in the first three months of the year.

A new wave of house buyers are prepared to commute for over an hour from Dublin to secure affordable properties, according to a national survey carried out by Real Estate Alliance (REA).

The figures come after a report by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) warned market trends could revive the “unsustainable” boom-era practice of long-distance commuting between Dublin and its hinterland.

The ESRI said lower prices outside Dublin and Central Bank loan caps could force households to seek housing beyond the capital.

The Q1 REA Average House Price Survey has revealed price rises in outer commuter ring locations such as Laois and Offaly are being driven by Dublin-based first-time buyers being forced further out from the capital by the Central Bank’s deposit rules.

REA also report seeing a decrease in the amount of first-time buyers between the ages of 25-40 attending viewings in the Dublin housing market in the first quarter of 2016.

The survey concentrates on the sale price of Ireland’s typical stock home, the three-bed semi-detached property. On average nationally, it now costs €191,194, a rise of €2,824 (1.5%) on the figure to the end of December.

The average price of a three-bed semi in Dublin City and County has risen by 0.6% from €332,000 to €334,000 in the first three months of the year.

REA said that while prices have risen slightly by €2,706 (1.31%) to €209,559 in the commuter counties and main cities such as Cork and Galway, these rises are confined to the few towns that have new developments on the market.

The biggest growth has been in towns in the rest of the country where prices have risen by 9.58% in the past year, and 2.59% since December, with the average three bed semi increasing from €122,161 to €125,321.

With prices rising by 5.1%, and viewings up substantially, Limerick was Ireland’s fastest growing city in Q1, with three bed semis increasing by €8,000 to their current level of €165,000.

Growth continued in Cork city (1.75%) and Waterford (1.61%), while the market in Galway remained static in Q1, with no new developments expected until 2017.

Michaella McCollum drug smuggling mule admits a “Moment of madness?

Convicted drugs mule says she wants to demonstrate she is a ‘good person’


Michaella McCollum tells RTÉ in a interview about her arrest, her imprisonment and her recent release.

Michaella McCollum has said her decision to smuggle almost €2 million worth of cocaine was “a moment of madness”.

McCollum, from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, was released from prison in Peru on Friday, 2½ years after her arrest at Lima Airport for possession of cocaine.

The 23-year-old’s case attracted considerable media coverage when, in August 2013, she and Scottish woman Melissa Reid were caught trying to board a flight from Lima to Madrid carrying 11kg of cocaine.

The women initially claimed they were forced into carrying the drugs, but later pleaded guilty.

McCollum, a former nightclub dancer, was living in Spain when she flew to Peru for the botched attempt to smuggle drugs back to Spain. She and Reid, from Glasgow, had faced the prospect of a maximum 15-year prison term, but struck a plea bargain to secure a shorter sentence.

Ms McCollum spoke to RTÉ One in an interview – aired on Sunday night – about her arrest, imprisonment and recent release.

The courts in Peru have yet to set out the conditions of her parole – including whether she would be obliged to remain in Peru for a period of time.

She was originally imprisoned for six years and 8 months.

Speaking about her decision to smuggle drugs, she said: “If the drugs had of got back [to Europe] what could have happened, I probably would have had a lot of blood on my hands,” she said. “I potentially could have filled Europe full of a lot of drugs.

“I could have potentially killed a lot of people, not directly but I could have caused a lot of harm to people. I made a decision in a moment of madness.I’m not a bad person . . . I want to demonstrate that I’m a good person.”

Ms McCollum said her release from prison has made her appreciate “the things that everybody takes for granted in life”.

“Seeing the sun, seeing the darkness, seeing the moon and the stars, things I haven’t seen in almost three years.”

‘I was very naïve’

Ms McCollum said she “didn’t understand the consequences of a bad decision. I was very naïve, I was so young very insecure, a lot of times I didn’t know how to say no to something.

“In life, everybody makes mistakes, people make mistakes, it doesn’t make them a bad person. I’m not the same person that I was when I committed the crime . . . I’ve matured a lot, I’ve learnt a lot of things that 10 years in university I probably couldn’t learn,” she said.

Ms McCollum said the night before she and Ms Reid smuggled the drugs she became worried and got sick with nerves.

“The night before that’s when it became a reality and we had to pack our cases . . . I felt sick . . . sick with nerves . . . sick with worry.

“I remember getting sick . . . standing in the airport, knowing that I’m doing something wrong . . . I didn’t know how to walk away,” she said.

Ms McCollum said she will have to live with the guilt of what she has done for the rest of her life.

“The guilt . . . it’s something I have to live with for the rest of my life . . . of course that was never my intention to let that happen . . . and when I think about it I try not to think about it because it makes me hate myself to be capable of causing that much pain and suffering. I don’t think that guilt is ever going to go away because how could I forgive myself for doing that,” she said.

“The amount of families that that would have ruined . . . I did that, I caused destruction to society and who am I to be able to do that,” she said.

Ms McCollum said if the drugs had have been smuggled into the country, she would have had “blood on her hands”.

“I thought I’m just picking up something and bringing it back, I never thought of the contents and what’s inside and what it could do to people,” she said.

Ms McCollum and Ms Reid initially claimed they were forced into the crime by drug cartel gunmen who threatened their families but admitted it was a lie and pleaded guilty to drug trafficking in return for a reduced sentence.

“I was scared to take responsibility because I didn’t know what would happen then,” she said.

Ms McCollum said she plans to study psychology and said that she believes she deserves a second chance.

Warning signs & signals of scarlet fever and what you need to know

      Warning Signs: Why Scarlet Fever Could Actually Be Fatal Meningitis

Like scurvy and rickets, scarlet fever was once thought of as a 19th century concern, not something that anybody still needs to worry about.

However the illness, which is caused by a bacterial infection, continues to be a threat.

So what do you need to know? and WHAT IS SCARLET FEVER?

Anyone can get scarlet fever, but young children are most affected.

“Scarlet fever is a bacterial illness that is most common among children under the age of 10,” says Dr Adam Simon.

“Key symptoms include a sore throat, skin infection and the bright pink rash that gives the condition its name.”

This usually starts as red blotches before turning into a fine pinky-red rash that feels like sandpaper.

There might be a high temperature, headache and swollen tongue too, usually in the day or two before the rash develops, and nausea and vomiting.


“It’s highly contagious,” he says, “and can be passed on by coughing, sneezes, skin-to-skin contact and handling contaminated objects, like bath towels or bedding.”

Most cases occur during winter and spring. Good hygiene — paying attention to hand-washing, and avoiding sharing potentially contaminated items — can help reduce spreading.


In the past, an outbreak of scarlet fever was a very serious concern and families affected were often quarantined. It’s still important it’s properly diagnosed and treated, and steps are taken to avoid passing it on.

“In the majority of cases, scarlet fever will clear up of its own accord, but it’s always recommended to see a GP if you think you or your child may have it,” says Dr Simon.


“The usual course of treatment is antibiotics which will help you to recover more quickly and lower the amount of time you’re contagious for and reduce the risk of complications occurring,” he says.

It’s usually a 10-day course, and children should start feeling better after 24 hours, with symptoms clearing up completely after a few days (but it’s still vital to complete the full course of treatment).

Doctors generally advise that anybody infected stays home from nursery, school or work for at least 24 hours after starting on antibiotics.


In the past, scarlet fever was a leading cause of infant death.

Better hygiene and treatments mean it generally isn’t the terrifying illness it used to be and, in the vast majority of cases, will clear up quite quickly and cause little more than a few days of feeling poorly.

But, as with many conditions, complications can still potentially occur.

“Complications are rare and especially easy to avoid if symptoms are spotted and treatment begun early. However, in some scarce cases, potential complications can occur, ranging from relatively simple issues like an ear infection, to blood poisoning and liver damage in more serious cases,” says Dr Simon.

As ever, if concerned about your child’s health, or if symptoms suddenly worsen or change, get them checked by a doctor.

Use this trick to instantly free up space on your iPhone


Running low on space on your iPhone? Just rent a movie on iTunes and get a few gigabytes of space on the iPhone.

People who are using Apple’s 16GB iPhone variants tend to run out of storage. On this device, a user gets approximately 11GB of user accessible storage as the rest of it is used by Apple’s iOS operating system.

After installing a few apps and storing photos, music and videos, a user normally runs out of storage.

According to a thread on Reddit, there is one crazy trick you can try to reclaim some of the used-up space.

The trick involves renting a movie from iTunes. To see how the trick works, go to Settings > General >About and scroll down to Available.

Check how much storage is left and then head to the iTunes Store.

Search for a film which is bigger than the space left on your phone. For example if the available space is 4GB, choose a movie whose file size is greater than 4GB.

Then click Rent at the top of the page. The user will not be charged as the phone does not have enough space to download it and a message will appear saying You don’t have enough available storage.

After clicking OK, head back to settings and check your available storage again. A significant increase in the available storage space should be visible.

You can repeat the entire process a few times.

“As of now, it’s unclear on how the trick works, but it probably has got to do with some cache and other storage from apps getting cleaned up,” the report said.

Download the Gadgets 360 app for Android and iOS to stay up to date with the latest tech news, product reviews, and exclusive deals on the popular mobiles.

Discovery of Viking site in Canada could rewrite history

Picture of remnants of a furnace    

The unearthing of a stone on Newfoundland suggests the Vikings may have traveled much further into North America than previously thought.

THE possible discovery of a 1000-year-old Viking site on a Canadian island could rewrite the story of the exploration of North America by Europeans before Christopher Columbus.

The unearthing of a stone used in iron working on Newfoundland, hundreds of miles south from the only known Viking site in North America, suggests the Vikings may have traveled much further into the continent than previously thought.

A group of archeologists has been excavating the newly discovered site at the Point Rosee, a narrow, windswept peninsula on the most western point of the island.

To date, the only confirmed Viking site on the American continent is L’Anse aux Meadows, a 1000-year-old way station discovered in 1960 on the northern tip of Newfoundland.

That settlement was abandoned after just a few years of being inhabited and archaeologists have spent the last 50 years searching for any other signs of Viking expeditions to the other side of the Atlantic.

American archaeologist Sarah Parcak, who has used satellite imagery to locate lost Egyptian cities, temples and tombs, applied the same technology to explore the island, seeking for traces of lost Viking settlements.

Last June, she was drawn to this remote part of Canada after satellite imagery revealed ground features that appeared to indicate human activity.

Ms Parcak looked at modern-day plant cover to find places where a possible Viking settlement had altered the soil by changing the amount of moisture in the ground. This was a technique she had previously used in Egypt.

After identifying a potential site, archaeologists found a hearth-stone, which was used for iron-working, near what appeared to have been a turf wall.

“The sagas suggest a short period of activity and a very brief and failed colonisation attempt,” Douglas Bolender, an archaeologist specialising in Norse settlements, told National Geographic magazine.

“L’Anse aux Meadows fits well with that story but is only one site. Point Rosee could reinforce that story or completely change it, if the dating is different from L’Anse aux Meadows. We could end up with a much longer period of Norse activity in the New World.

“A site like Point Rosee has the potential to reveal what that initial wave of Norse colonization looked like, not only for Newfoundland but for the rest of the North Atlantic.”

However there is not enough evidence for archaeologists to prove the Vikings settled on the site, as other populations also lived on Newfoundland after them.

If the site is confirmed as a legitimate Viking settlement, this could lead to further search for other settlements, built five centuries before the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the New World.