News Ireland daily BLOG update

Saturday 9th July 2016

Fine Gael TDs consider a motion calling on Enda Kenny clarify departure timeline?

     

Taoiseach Enda Kenny taking a sip to cool down? and his preferred successor .

A number of rebel Fine Gael TDs are considering putting down a motion demanding that Enda Kenny clarify his exit plans in a move which will heap further pressure on the Taoiseach.

Independent.ie has confirmed reports that a number of backbench TDs have held secret talks to discuss whether they will call, as soon as next Wednesday, on the Taoiseach to outline his plans for stepping down as party leader.

It comes as a number of senior Fine Gael figures came out strongly in support of the embattled Taoiseach and saying he should go at the time of his own choosing.

But Mr Kenny is coming under intense pressure to spell out his departure plan from rebel backbenchers.

He has already said that he will not lead Fine Gael into the next election but some TDs want him to step down sooner rather than later.

There is a now a growing consensus within Fine Gael circles that a leadership contest in the spring is a likely scenario but that may be too late, some backbenchers feel.

The Fine Gael leader’s credibility was openly questioned this week at a tense parliamentary party meeting.

Furthermore, the mood within the party is at a low point – particularly following a recent opinion poll which placed Fine Gael a massive nine points behind Fianna Fáil.

Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar is seen as the clear frontrunner to succeed Mr Kenny.

Meanwhile:-

A majority backs FF decision to aid FG in forming government

In all, 35% of Fianna Fáil supporters favoured another election over engaging with Fine Gael

   

Micheál Martin the leader of Fianna Fáil: asked for their preference after the election, 37% of people polled said support Fine Gael from outside, 18% said go into coalition and 35% wanted another general election.

A majority of voters wanted Fianna Fáil to engage with Fine Gael in the formation of government whether from outside or as part of a coalition, according to the latest MRBI poll.

The finding goes some way to explaining the significant nine-point rise in support for Fianna Fáil in the poll.

Asked what was the right thing for Fianna Fáil to do after the election, 37% said support Fine Gael from outside, 18% said go into coalition with Fine Gael, 35% wanted another general election and 10 per cent had no opinion.

The highest approval of the Fianna Fáil decision to engage in government formation came from Fine Gael voters with 57% of the the party’s voters backing the decision to support from outside and 30% favouring a full coalition with Fine Gael.

Fianna Fáil voters were less enthusiastic with 43% favouring the course followed by leader Micheál Martin and 15% favouring coalition with Fine Gael.

However, a significant number of Fianna Fáil supporters, 35%, would have preferred another election to engaging with Fine Gael in government in any form.

Less enthusiastic

Supporters of Independents and the Labour Party were a little less enthusiastic, but a majority favoured some form of accommodation between the two biggest parties.

Only Sinn Féin supporters rejected it with 57% of them preferring another election, 20% favouring the current arrangement, 12% a full coalition between the two big parties and 11% having no opinion.

There was a significant difference across the class divide with a majority of middle-class voters in favour of a deal between the two big parties and a majority of the poorest DE category favouring another election instead.

There were similar views about whether a number of Independents were right or wrong to go into coalition with Fine Gael.

A total of 52% said they were right, 28% said they were wrong and 20% had no opinion.

Supporters of Independents and smaller parties backed the decision by 57% to 26% with 17% having no opinion.

Fine Gael supporters were the most enthusiastic about the arrangement with 70% of them in favour and just 16% against with 14% having no opinion.

Labour supporters were strongly in favour of the arrangement and Fianna Fáil supporters less so but there were majorities for the deal in the case of both.

Again, Sinn Féin voters were the only ones opposed to the deal with 42% against, 37% for and 21% having no opinion.

Best course of action

Questioned as to whether forming a government or having another election was the best course of action following the inconclusive general election result 49% said forming a government but a substantial 44% opted for another election with 7% having no opinion.

There was a big difference across the class divide with the best off voters most in favour of government formation with a clear majority of the poorest DE voters in favour of another election.

There was also a clear generational divide with older voters most strongly in favour of government formation and the youngest age category in favour of another election.

There was also a big difference across the parties with 75% of Fine Gael voters in favour of a government being formed while Fianna Fáil voters were evenly split 49 per cent each between forming a government and having another election.

Independent voters were also almost evenly split on the issue but Sinn Féin voters were strongly in favour by a margin of two to one of having another election.

The survey was conducted on Monday and Tuesday of this week among a representative sample of 1,200 voters aged 18 and over in face- to-face interviews at 100 sampling points in all constituencies.

Irish race further ahead of Brits in US beef exports

    

Ireland has pushed further ahead with beef exports to the lucrative US market, as the country plans for a post-EU future.

Irish farmers will now be able to ship manufacturing beef, which is minced for products such as burgers, on top of steak cuts such as fillet, rib-eye and sirloins.

Last year Ireland sold €14m (£12m) of beef to the US from six approved factories after becoming the first EU country to gain market access following a 15-year break due to BSE fears.

Since the EU-wide ban was lifted in January 2015, the Netherlands and Lithuania have also earned access. Negotiations between the UK and US authorities are ongoing.

Irish farm leaders have hailed the news, in a week where Britain’s vote to quit the EU has shaken the industry’s confidence. Half of Irish beef production is currently destined for the UK and the trading relationship between the two countries after Brexit is unclear.

Approval needed now?

Joe Healy, Irish Farmers’ Association president, said work was now needed to get more plants approved for export.

“It is very important that real delivery is made on accessing new markets for Irish beef, particularly in light of the recent Brexit outcome,” he said.

The US beef market has enormous potential for exporters. Each year the country of 319 million people buys in 1m tonnes of beef, of which most is for manufacturing.

Only about one-tenth of the market is currently for grass-fed, natural or organic, but sales of those kinds of beef are growing about 20% a year.

Ireland’s farm minister Michael Creed said the announcement was the culmination of a year of discussions and checks.

His country had “first-mover advantage”, Mr Creed said, and would be supporting the fresh access with a marketing campaign.

“This US market is a potentially huge prize given the size of the market and the demand we know exists there for premium grass-fed beef.

“As an exporting country, accessing new markets is key to the long-term sustainability of our beef sector and this extension of our access in the US has the capability to be a significant boost to the sector over a period of time.”

British exports

British beef will not be joining Irish on the Atlantic crossing just yet. Unlike Ireland, only about one-fifth of British production is exported, but the US could be a premium, added-value market.

In April, the UK government handed a 1,000-page dossier to the US Department of Agriculture that explained the hygiene and quality standards of British beef and lamb. US agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack said he would study the document before agreeing a series of factory inspections.

AHDB head of global supply chain development Phil Hadley said the process was “inching forward”.

He said hopefully a visit by US authorities would be arranged for the end of this year, or early 2017.

“Our ambition remains to make it happen as quickly as possible,” Dr Hadley said.

Gardeners are urged to help bees population by planting more flowers in a push to protect pollination

   

Gardeners are being urged to take simple steps such as cutting the grass less often and growing more nectar-rich flowers as part of efforts to help bees population.

Despite concerns about the plight of bees in the UK, with many species in decline, more than half (57%) of 1,717 people polled by YouGov admitted they had not done anything to provide pollinating insects with food or homes in the past year.

Now householders are being encouraged to take five steps to help bees, whose pollinating services are worth £600 million a year in boosting yields and the quality of seeds and fruits.

People can grow more flowers, shrubs and trees that are rich in nectar and pollen, leave patches of land to grow wild, cut grass less often, avoid disturbing or destroying nesting or hibernating insects and think carefully about whether to use pesticides.

And schoolchildren are being given a summer holiday challenge to build “bee hotels” out of simple items such as bamboo, plastic drinks bottles and string, to give solitary bees a home.

The call has been made ahead of “bees’ needs week”, part of the national pollinator strategy in 2014 by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in partnership with charities, businesses and academic institutions.

Defra’s Lords spokesman, Lord Gardiner of Kimble, said: “It is clear we care about bees – now we need to make sure we translate that concern into real action to protect our precious pollinators.

“Everyone can play their part to ensure bees have food and a home, from urban window box gardeners to farmers protecting the wildlife around their fields.”

Paul de Zylva, senior campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “You don’t need to keep bees to be a bee-keeper.

“At home, in your street, at work or at school, you can help the 250 or more different types of bee by growing the right plants, improving local spaces for pollinators and avoiding pesticides.

“Simple actions can make sure we are the generation to save Britain’s bees.”

Neanderthals participated in cannibalism so says new research
  

Cannibalism today?. The word brings to mind the stuff of horror movies, of secretive jungle tribes or the Donner Party. However, a new discovery in Belgium has determined that our Neanderthal ancestors had an affinity for cannibalism that was heretofore unrealised.

The Neanderthal bones found in Belgium date between 40,500 and 45,500 years old, and they bear unmistakable signs of cannibalism. The Neanderthal bones exhibit “indentations” where scientists believe they were hammered open to harvest the bone marrow within. The rib cages of the skeletons have been pried open.

The bones also exhibit marks that were created by primitive knives used to shear flesh away from the bone. The Neanderthal bones found in the Belgian cave were found amidst numerous bones of animals that all bore similar marks and indications of what we would refer in modern terms as field dressing. The scientists researching the Neanderthal discovery put the skeletons of the humans back together and found that they recreated one child and four adults — all of whom were the victims of cannibalism.

discovery of the cannibalized Neanderthals is not unique to prehistoric humans. Similar discoveries have been made in Portugal, France, and Spain. However, according to a report on the discovery in the journal Scientific Reports, the Neanderthal find in Belgium is much farther north than those other discoveries, and actually poses more questions than it answers.

Were the Neanderthals killed and eaten out of simple necessity or hunger, or was their butchery part of some sort of ancient ritual? Were the cannibalized Neanderthals part of a warring culture? For now, scientists are unsure. Researchers have pointed in the past to evidence that the Neanderthals utilized funeral practices for their dead, sometimes burying them. If that is indeed the case, what was the rationale — if any — behind the butchering of the Belgian Neanderthals that were discarded in the same matter as wild game? Were they treated as no more important than a routine meal?

Some scientists, however, argue the point that Neanderthals actually exhibited funeral – or mortuary – practices. Flowers found at the site of one Neanderthal “burial” site that were originally thought to have been left by fellow Neanderthals could have been merely left by an animal at the same site, claim critics.

For now, the researchers studying the Belgian Neanderthal site are sticking to the facts and not making any claims as of yet about a possible funeral site. The Neanderthals at the site existed just before the estimated time of when the Neanderthal species went extinct, about 40,000 years ago. Thus far, none of the other Neanderthal excavation sites that exist in the region don’t bear any signs of cannibalism. In fact, there was another discovery less than 25 miles away in which two Neanderthals appeared to be buried together, side by side.

Neanderthals actually lived in small groups, or tribes, and its quite possible that their behaviors could have quite possible varied widely from group to group. While one group of Neanderthals may have honored their dead by burying them in some sort of primitive ritual, other groups may have had no compunction about eating their dead.

Moreover, the group in Belgium may have had no problem with hunting down and eating an adjacent group of Neanderthals much as they would a reindeer or other animal. Still, the evidence in Belgium may be misleading. Not enough data is available to discover whether or not this particular group of Neanderthals felt they had to consume their fellow man out of necessity — much like the Donner party.

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