News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Sunday 3rd July 2016

We in Ireland must do enough to entice UK finance firms here

  

We in Ireland must absorb the messages of the voting patterns that reflect underlying problems,

“We must absorb the messages of the voting patterns that reflect underlying problems we must combat with force in Ireland too.”

Even the darkest Brexit clouds can have silver linings . . .

I am just back from Glasgow (day of vote), Belfast (days after result) and London. Train and plane rides allow a lot of reflection.

For many months, I’ve worried that voters might, despite the bookies, deliver a shock.

Like others, I was saddened by xenophobic arguments polluting the debate and polarising a country in contrast to the strong positive message from the mayoral election in London. Now I am just angered the open pluralist views of a clear majority of younger voters, the future of the UK, have been relegated to the back seat.

There are many messages for Ireland.

  1. Firstly, young people even in the UK reject this inward-looking vision of the future.
  2. We must resoundingly reiterate that Ireland rejects it too.

The joy of voters after the same-sex referendum for our new pluralist, diverse, accepting Ireland is our reality and the aspiration of young and old for our country and for Europe, not that of the poster choices of Nigel Farage.

We do not have Céad Míle Fáilte as one of our national anthems for nothing. We welcome migration from the EU and beyond. Our #COYBIG fans partying with all nationalities in France has been a welcome tonic against the shame we feel when see abuse directed at other immigrants in the UK.

Secondly, we must absorb the messages of the voting patterns that reflect underlying problems we must combat with force in Ireland too.

We must find sustainable ways to fix the despair of many about growing inequalities and the negative impact globalisation and new technology have on their own lives and their communities (mainly in former industrial hinterlands or rural communities).

Dubious claims

How many of our own population when the status quo seems so unattractive might accept similar dubious claims of populist politicians about a rosy future and ignore warnings of economic failure they feel hit not them but the “elite”?

Thirdly, we must act now that the result is known, not ignore it.

I still believe that new UK leaders (and especially its pragmatic parliament) can better expose the downsides of the new reality and retest national opinion before having to trigger article 50, and that a united Britain will reopen its arms to Europe and recognise that the reform so necessary for a safe, successful Europe is best achieved from within.

Of course, this might not happen and we must react and devise solutions that solve our own structural problems too.

Each sector is different. Back from the City of London, here’s my humble suggestion for our letter to financial services companies: Dear Big Boss of Big Bank,

You, your employees and your families are probably reeling in shock. Like us, you’re probably asking how now am I actually to implement this contingency plan?

We are writing to you as we think that the solutions you need are also the solutions we need

If you can engage with us, we will respond with open arms.

We are not perfect. No one is but we know we have at least two years to put in place what else we need. What we will promise is:

(a) A new pan 28 country operating strategy for you straddling from here the new EU and while keeping a foot in the UK. (b) To develop and transition you to a more efficient operating cost model, especially if you consider a new campus we want to build in a regional city as Dublin is already very successful.

(c) To allow you and others operate in big scale in either or both of only two FS clusters we are building, one in Dublin and another in a new regional urban campus where you will find the best housing, the best third-level facilities integrated into your industry and a quality of life much better and cheaper than that you have at present. We also have suffering voters and we want our non-Dublin voters to be part of the solution too.

(d) To improve wifi-enabled public transport (a) within Dublin, (b) between Dublin and this new campus, and (c) air connections between both, the UK and the rest of Europe.

(e) A place where English is your working language and your kids can grow-up fluent in that language too but we will improve foreign language teaching in our schools.

(f) A welcoming place that acts and will continue to act as a magnet for talent from all over Europe. You can ask the mayor of Paris if you want a reference for our young (and not so young)!

(g) A place where we value education although with the UK gone, we know it’s up to us now to invest more to create the EU’s best English language-based universities.

(h) A place that has shown we value and support business.

(i) An administration which during its EU presidency showed we can understand and advance complicated financial services matters.

(j) To make the laws of Ireland (so similar to the UK ones) the logical replacement choice of an EU law for contracts by having the most efficient courts and allowing your own legal teams and employees to even participate in cases themselves.

What we would like you to do

(a) Come visit

(b) Bring your friends

(c) Help us convince the European Banking Authority that their future is here too in our new urban financial services campus.

With hope for a combined future,

Northern Ireland Agriculture Minister to work with Dublin to forge a new relationship with Europe

   

Following the Brexit referendum result, the North’s Minister for Agriculture, Michelle McIlveen has said that she will be engaging with Dublin to help forge a new relationship with Europe.

Speaking at a CAFRE awards day, the Minister promised her commitment to supporting the industry following the EU referendum.

“I will be engaging with Westminster and elsewhere in the UK, as well as in Dublin and Brussels, to help forge a new relationship with Europe and to develop a support framework that meets the needs and aspirations of our agri-food sector.

“It is only right that we take our time to agree new arrangements, and in the meantime, wecontinue to access the CAP support regime and the EU trading opportunities on the same basis as before,” Minister McIlveen said.

She said that she is aware of the challenges caused by the impact of global market volatility, exchange rate fluctuations and international trade.

As of last Friday, we have an additional uncertainty following the referendum result and the changes – and opportunities – that this will eventually bring.

But, the Minister reiterated that she is committed to addressing all of these challenges.

“By working collectively with stakeholders, producers, suppliers, processors and retailers, we can build a dynamic and flexible industry that is well positioned in the global marketplace to capitalise on the growing demand for food worldwide and to meet both the challenges and opportunities presented by the EU exit.

“Through the Executive, I will be work to ensure a joined up approach to developing new market opportunities.”

Parents call for end to religious discrimination in Ireland’s schools

Education Equality march calls for an end to State-funded religious segregation in schools

   

Parents and their children at a demonstration outside Leinster House organised by Education Equality calling for religious equality in education.

Hundreds people marched to Leinster House on Sunday calling for an end to religious discrimination in State-funded schools.

The march was organised by Education Equality; an organisation established to campaign for equality in the provision of education for all children, regardless of religion.

Paddy Monahan, a parent from Raheny in Dublin said the baptism barrier must be removed.

Minister for Education Richard Bruton is drawing up plans to encourage the Catholic Church to transfer the patronage of hundreds of primary schools to other models, including State-run schools.

At present more than 90% of the State’s 3,200 primary schools are under Catholic patronage. However, efforts to provide greater choice for parents have proven slow and divisive.

“I want my child to the same school as his neighbours and I don’t want to have to baptise him for the honour of doing that just to go to a taxpayer-funded school,” said Mr Monahan.

“The Government has been banging on for some time now about choice. Choice sounds great and I am a big believer in divestment but if we only focus on choice and building more schools; that is not choice, it is segregation,” he said.

“The blindingly obvious effects of keeping the Equal Status Act and building more schools to create this idea of choice, is segregation. We’re going to have a Muslim school here, a Hindu school there. You’re going to have kids growing up not meeting anyone from different backgrounds. It is bonkers and utterly retrograde.”

“Labour’s radical bill was to bump our kids up from third class citizens to second class citizens. As it stands, children who are not baptised are on the waiting list behind children who are baptised children from other areas who are baptised. It is still going to be local Catholic first when it comes to school places,” he said.

Last week, Labour’s education spokeswoman Joan Burton urged Minister for Education Richard Bruton to accept her party’s Private Members’ Education (Admissions to School) Bill 2015 amending the Equal Status Act.

The Labour proposal, she said, would “balance the constitutional right of religious bodies to organise and run schools with the rights of the child to have access to his or her local school”.

Mr Monahan said the Constitution “does not stand for religious segregation in our taxpayer funded schools.”

“Minister for Education Richard Bruton said we have to move swiftly before he moved the debate back for a year. That debate is on a bill that will make our children second class citizens anyway,” he said.

“The Constitution clearly and unambiguously states there should be no discrimination on the basis of religion so I don’t see where he can hide behind,” said Mr Monahan.

Simon Lewis, principal of an Educate Together school, said the issue of the baptism barrier was not confined to Dublin.

“My little boy can go to the local primary school, he can also go to this local educate together,” said Mr Lewis.

“Education should not be about luck – it is about equity, respect and access. Whether this affects you as a parent or guardian or not, we should all come together to ensure equality of access for all children,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said the Minister would treble the rate of delivery of multidenominational schools “by delivering a total of 400 non-denominational and multidenominational schools by 2030”, saying this would provide “greater choice and diversity for parents and children”.

“The Minister will also publish and enact a new Admissions Bill, which will reform the process of school admissions, including banning waiting lists and admissions fees and requiring more information and consultation for parents throughout the process,” said the spokesperson.

The spokesperson added that any change to the Equal Status Act would be “extremely difficult as this is a hugely complex area legally, constitutionally, and in other ways”.

New car sales in Ireland on target to hit the Celtic-Tiger level figures

   

The number of new car registrations passed the 100,000 mark between January and June.

New car sales rocketed in the first six months of this year – returning to nearly the same levels as the time of the Celtic Tiger in 2008.

The number of new car registrations passed the 100,000 mark between January and June. That is 25% more sales than the same period last year.

And dealers are confident that sales for all of 2016 will surpass 150,000 for the first time in eight years.

And in a potent symbol of a return to economic growth, ‘white van man’ is back, with sales of commercial vehicles also rising sharply.

New car registrations were up to 101,338 compared with 82,337 in the first six months of 2015. Light commercial vehicles rose 26% to 18,417 in the first half of the year and overall heavy goods vehicle registrations are up 42% compared with the same period last year.

Society of the Irish Motor Industry (SIMI) director general Alan Nolan said: “At the start of the year we predicted that this year’s registration numbers should reach 150,000 for the first time since 2008 and these figures keep us on track to deliver that.

“From today, of course, the focus turns to the 162 registration period. This year promises to be the first normal year of registrations since the recession and with the range of attractive offers available across all brands, we are confident that 162 will also deliver in the coming months.”

Ford is the overall market leader with combined sales of more than 15,000 cars and vans in the six months to June 30.

The marque registered 10,027 cars and 4,979 vans in the first six months, slightly ahead of VW, which actually sold more cars (10,945) but fewer vans (3,060). Toyota is in third place (10,807 cars and 1,358 vans).

So far this year, the best -selling car is the Hyundai Tucson, followed by the Volkswagen Golf (3,585) and the Ford Focus (3,315).

At the upper end of the market, the BMW 5-Series is the most popular. In all, 1,041 have been bought in the first six months, slightly ahead of the Audi A4 (1,025).

Seven out of 10 vehicles sold in the first six months were diesel models.

‘Ethiopia hit by climate change despite negligible emissions claim’ 

Says the UN special envoy Mary Robinson.

    

Former president of Ireland Mary Robinson has said it is unfair that Ethiopians are suffering the worst effects of climate change as 10m people are hit by food shortages following the worst drought in 50 years.

The UN special envoy for climate change and the El Nino weather pattern is spending three days in the country this week after widespread failure of rains and flash floods in the region over the last year.

Ms Robinson, former UN high commissioner for human rights, said Ethiopia suffers some of the worst effects of climate change despite doing so little to cause it.

“I am saddened that Ethiopia should have to cope with this El Nino situation,” she said.

“Despite the efforts of the government of Ethiopia, and humanitarian partners, the impacts of climate change have weakened people’s ability to cope with El Nino which is unfair considering Ethiopia’s negligible contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions.”

The trip is Ms Robinson’s first visit to Africa since being appointed to her role two months ago by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon.

It also takes place amid the deepening food crisis in the Horn of Africa where millions of people are at risk of malnutrition as El Nino warming in the Pacific compounds the debilitating impact of climate change elsewhere around the world.

The weather pattern, which hits every two to seven years, is taking place where temperatures are already warmer and it is usually followed by the La Nina cooling period which can spark floods and droughts.

During her trip, Mrs Robinson will see the work of aid agencies, including Concern, Trocaire, and Goal, which have been pleading for the international community to do more to prevent the Ethiopian drought becoming the worst food emergency in the region since 1985.

She called on world powers to live up to their responsibilities as millions of Ethiopians are put at risk.

“In addition to supporting relief efforts for this immediate crisis, the international community must take a much longer term view,” said Ms Robinson.

“Climate change impacts will continue to undermine development gains and increase the vulnerability of people to natural disasters, therefore the international community has a duty to reduce emissions, support resilience and adaptation efforts in the hardest hit communities.”

It is estimated that €3.4bn is needed to combat the impacts of the El Nino crisis .

Despite its vulnerability to the negative effects of climate change, Ethiopia and its population of more than 100 million has one of the lowest carbon emission rates in the world. It is estimated that it takes 88 Ethiopians to emit as much carbon dioxide as one Irish person.

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