News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Thursday 30th June 2016

Noonan says Brexit will not affect Budget as Irish shares rise

UK referendum may delay EU ruling on Apple’s Irish tax affairs, Minister now says?

   

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan at the Select Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform

The Brexit vote will not affect Budget 2017 but its longer term effect on Ireland could be serious depending on what deal the UK agrees with the EU, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said.

The tax streams for 2017 are relatively fixed at this stage and contingencies for the initial impact of the Brexit result have already been worked out, Mr Noonan said. Beyond that it will depend on what sort of new arrangement the UK agrees with the EU.

If the UK remains in the single market “then the impact [on Ireland] will be quite low,” Mr Noonan told the Select Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and An Taoiseach on Thursday. But if a more distant relationship emerges involving tariffs and border posts, “the impact would be bigger… it would be serious.”

Irish shares rise.

The Minister’s comments came as Irish and other European shares rose for a third straight session as they continued to claw back some of the ground lost in the immediate aftermath of the UK referendum. The Iseq added 1%, while the FTSE 100 gained 2.3% in London. Meanwhile, the market interest rate, or yield, on the Government’s 10-year bonds fell to a record low of 0.509% as investors continued to speculate that the European Central Bank will add stimulus to limit the fallout from Brexit.

Mr Noonan said post-Brexit market movements have been bad for the UK in terms of exchange rates and stock exchange values, with the international expectation being that the UK will become a weaker economy. He said the UK quitting the EU presents potential economic and foreign direct investment (FDI) advantages for Ireland, though if the British government feels it is losing out “they’ll probably adjust policy to forestall that.”

Meanwhile, Mr Noonan said the UK vote may delay the EU’s decision on whether iPhone-maker Apple’s tax dealings in this country breached state-aid rules. While he said it had been rumoured that the EU would deliver its final ruling on its case against Ireland in July, the possibility of an adverse finding and large tax bill for “an American company operating in Europe” next month is now less likely, following the the referendum.

Enda Kenny

Also speaking to the committee, Taoiseach Enda Kenny insisted that the best thing for Ireland would be if the UK retains access to the single market. But he added that for this to happen the country must accept the key principles of the EU, including the free movement of people.

He said the new British prime minister, due to be in place by September 9th, will be given a short period of time to work out their strategy before they will be expected to initiate formal exit negotiations.

The process should last about two years, after which a short extension may be granted. However, if the UK and EU fail to reach an agreement, then World Trade Organisation rules will come into effect. Mr Kenny said he hoped this didn’t happen.

Mr Kenny also said he has made the EU aware that Ireland’s interest are in maintaining the common travel area between Ireland and the UK, protecting the peace process, maintaining the open border between the Republic and the North and maintaining trade links between Ireland and the UK.

Ireland’s Seanad to invite Nicola Sturgeon to address it on Brexit

Great affinity between Ireland and Scotland, says Fine Gael Senator Paddy Burke

  

Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon delivers a speech during a media conference at the Scotland House in Brussels.

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon is to be invited to address the Seanad on the UK’s exit from the EU before it adjourns for the summer recess later this month.

The proposal was made by Fine Gael Senator Paddy Burke, who said there was a great affinity between parts of Ireland and Scotland, with both having a lot in common.

“We heard a lot recently about countries that want to leave the EU, but Scotland wants to stay in it,’’ he added.

Sinn Féin Senator Rose Conway-Walsh said she agreed with the proposal.

Scottish independence

“People seem to be fighting the cause for Scottish independence and its right to have a say over its own destiny, but they need to show the same consideration and fight with the same vehemence for our comrades in the North,’’ she added.

“It cannot be done for one without the other.’’

She said she admired and respected Ms Sturgeon and would be very happy to hear from her in the House.

Later, during a debate on delivering sustainable full employment, Fine Gael Senator Neale Richmond said a week from the referendum some people had expressed frustration that Brexit was still being discussed.

Extremely important

While he was sorry to disappoint them, the referendum result was extremely important in the context of delivering sustainable full employment.

Mr Richmond said it was important to emphasise Ireland would continue to be an EU member, with full access to the single market and retaining all of the advantages for inward investment.

A report produced in May suggested Brexit could push about €6 billion of investment into Ireland’s financial services sector, he said.

A bank already moving some operations to Ireland was Switzerland’s Credit Suisse, which had said in December it would make Dublin its primary hub for servicing hedge funds in Europe and move staff from London to here, said Mr Richmond.

“A report from Bloomberg earlier this week compared Dublin with Paris, Frankfurt, Luxembourg, Amsterdam and even Edinburgh as possible destinations for financial institutions now looking to relocate from London in a post-Brexit world,’’ he added.

“A glowing recommendation brought just two negative concerns to light: a relative lack of office space and high personal tax rates.’’

Low pay scandal

Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan said there was a scandal of low pay in Ireland, particularly in the hospitality industry.

“It is an industry that for some time has enjoyed a generous tax break in terms of a reduced VAT rate of nine per cent, costing taxpayers €650 million a year,’’ he added.

“We know that the hotel industry is booming, with record levels of room occupancy, but that stands in stark contrast to the terms and conditions of workers in that sector.’’

Just 7% of parents think their kids may be overweight?

Reality is that 1 in 4 is overweight or obese

Image result for Just 7% of parents think their kids may be overweight?    

Less than half of Irish parents know what weight their children are, while just 7% feel that their children may be overweight, new data has shown.

According to the latest Pfizer Health Index, just 47% of parents know what weight their children are and the vast majority do not think they are overweight, despite the fact that currently, one in four children in Ireland is overweight or obese.

When asked if their children were undertaking 60 minutes of physical activity per day – the recommended daily amount – just 20% of parents said that their children were achieving this. The average was 60 minutes per day four times a week.

“One in four of our children is currently overweight or obese, yet because the norm has changed we are not recognising this reality. Children’s social, emotional and physical health is being harmed. We as a society must partner with industry and the Government to turn the tide on childhood obesity in Ireland as a matter of priority,” commented Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan of Safefood.

Parents were also asked about the use of screens in their home. The average length of time children spend looking at various screens each day is two hours and 16 minutes according to these findings.

Some 15% of children bring a screen, such as a smartphone or tablet, to bed with them, and 24% of parents have no rule in relation to screens in bed.

“Modern technology is undoubtedly impacting on the health of our family unit and we can see that children are more sedentary than before. There has been exponential growth in the use of screens particularly with mobiles and tablets and in Ireland we currently have more mobile phones than we do people.

“While technology is a powerful tool, it is important that parents aim to be in charge of the use of that technology, rather than technology being in charge of you,” said family psychotherapist, Dr John Sharry.

The health index also looked at family health in general. It asked parents to rank health priorities for their children. The biggest priority for parents was that their children reached their developmental milestones (31%). The second most important priority was that their children would have access to GP care (29%).

Other areas that were seen as priorities by parents included the social development of their child, including developing friendships, educational performance and having their children vaccinated.

This is the 11th annual Pfizer Health Index to be carried out. This year’s index was based on a survey of over 1,200 people aged 16 and older. It was undertaken by Behaviour & Attitudes in April.

Marijuana shown to protect brain cells from Alzheimer’s

  

A new study suggests that compounds found in marijuana can stave off the brain damaging effects of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a promising discovery, but claims that pot can prevent this age-related brain disorder are premature. Put the pipe away, man.

Researchers from the Salk Institute have shown that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other compounds found in marijuana can contribute to the removal of toxic proteins, known as amyloid beta, which have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. This research offers new insight into the role that inflammation plays in this neurological disorder, which could point the way to new drugs.

But this research should be taken with a grain of salt. The protective effects of marijuana were observed in neurons grown in the lab, so it’s not immediately clear if the same process is applicable to living human beings. What’s more, this study doesn’t speak to the potential negative effects of marijuana on the aging brain. It’s far too early to be making claims about pot being some kind of miracle cure for Alzheimer’s, or even as something that can be used as a protective measure. Only time—and further research—will truly tell.

Previous research has shown that compounds in marijuana, called cannabinoids, protect the brain from the symptoms of Alzheimer’s. This new study is unique in that it’s “the first to demonstrate that cannabinoids affect both inflammation and amyloid beta accumulation in nerve cells,” as the study’s lead author David Schubert put it in a statement.

Scientists are fairly certain that these toxins contribute to the growth of damaging plaque deposits in the brain, but they’re not entirely sure about the precise role that’s played by amyloid beta in the process. To learn more, Schubert’s team studied nerve cells that were modified to produce high levels of amyloid beta. Left untreated, these cells were subject to inflammation and higher rates of death. But when the researchers exposed these cells to cannabinoids, the levels of the amyloid beta proteins were reduced. The inflammation disappeared, and the neurons were able to survive. The compounds found within marijuana appeared to be protecting the cells from dying.

As noted, this research was conducted on neurons in a petri dish, so it’s not clear if an actual brain would respond to cannabinoids in the same way. Scientists will need to perform clinical trials to find out.

They’re also going to have to consider the potential tradeoffs of using marijuana as a drug to stave of neurodegeneration. Previous studies have shown that pot can screw around with our memories—which is clearly a bad thing in a disease that already ravages memories. Recent research also shows that marijuana alters the brain reward system, and that that long-term use makes it more difficult to recall memories during middle age.

Pot may very well help with Alzheimer’s, but we’re clearly going to have to be mindful of its negative effects as well.

Pollution has been causing springtime to come early

    

Artificial lighting has been causing springtime to come early, with trees bursting into leaf a week earlier in areas with more light pollution, scientists have found.

Researchers at the University of Exeter compared the amount of artificial night-time light across the country and the date at which new leaves first appeared on trees such as sycamore, oak, ash and beech.

The research drew on “citizen science” data from the Woodland Trust, which asks members of the public to record the signs of the changing seasons, such as bud-burst, in its Nature’s Calendar scheme.

Comparing 13 years of data about when the buds were bursting with satellite images of artificial lighting, the researchers found the key sign of spring was occurring up to 7.5 days earlier in brighter areas, with the effect larger in later-budding trees.

Excluding large urban areas from the analysis showed the advance of spring was even more pronounced, the research published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, found.

This showed the early bud bursting was not simply down to the “heat-island” effect in which cities are slightly warmer than the surrounding areas.

The way the effect was seen across all areas also suggests it is not down to temperature rises, according to the study, which was a collaboration between the university and independent environmental consultants Spalding Associates, in Truro, Cornwall.

The scientists raised concerns that the impact of artificial night-time lighting – such as street lights – on trees would have a knock-on effect on other wildlife.

Winter moths, which feed on emerging oak leaves, could be affected, which in turn could have an impact on birds which feed on them.

Dr Kate Lewthwaite, Woodland Trust citizen science manager, said: “Analysis of Nature’s Calendar data suggests that increased urbanisation is continuing to put pressure on the natural world, in ways that we could not have foreseen.

“As the seasons become less and less predictable, our native wildlife may struggle to keep up with fluctuations that affect habitats and food sources.

“Hopefully this research will lead to new thinking on how to tackle such issues, and will help influence future development decisions.”

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