News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Tuesday 9th August 2016

New €10m investment plan for rural Irish towns ‘is not enough & needs to be much bigger’

   

A new Government plan to invest €10m in rural Irish towns needs to be at least 20 times bigger to make any real difference for recession-hit smaller communities, an opposition TD has warned, 

Independent TD for Roscommon-Galway East, Michael Fitzmaurice, made the claim after the badly needed ring-fenced funding was announced by Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Minister Heather Humphreys (above pic left).

Under a long-awaited initiative to help rural Ireland recover from a near decade of an economic crash, Ms Humphreys has published plans to invest at least €10m in small towns and villages this year.

The money, which will be provided through the relevant local authorities, will be focussed on 200 specific communities where less than 10,000 people live – with the majority of funding going to villages with populations of less than 5,000 people.

Announcing the plans in Clones, Co Monaghan, yesterday, Ms Humphreys said the renewal scheme is needed “to begin breathing life back into our rural towns and villages”.

While accepting one funding initiative is not “the silver bullet” for tackling longer term economic problems in rural Ireland, the Fine Gael TD said the money available has been “more than doubled” from €4m last year and that up to 200 locations are set to benefit from the Government action.

However, despite the positive comments, Independent TD Mr Fitzmaurice heavily criticised the level of funding, saying it needs to be at least 20 times bigger in order to make any real difference to hard-hit communities.

The Roscommon-Galway East TD said the €10m fund in reality works out at just €380,000 per county, and that the money being made available is “not significant”.

“It’s ticking a box, basically saying, that look it, we have done this trying to get the rural regeneration off. To be quite frank about it you would want 20 times that if you were to make an effort in regenerating parts of rural Ireland,” he said.

While the economic crisis caused havoc to all parts of Ireland, rural communities were among the worst affected due to the linked issues of joblessness and emigration.

Addressing the issue was among the key points raised during the post-election Government negotiations

Dublin Airport now named as one of the fastest growing airports in Europe in 2016

 

Traffic at the travel hub grew faster than at Barcelona’s El-Prat Airport, Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen International Airport and Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam

Dublin Airport is one of the fastest growing airports in Europe over the last six months, new research has revealed.

And the booming business led to the Dublin Chamber of Commerce to urge the Government to move forward the construction of a second runway at the popular travel hub.

Passenger numbers climbed by 13.4% in the first half of the year, according to data from the trade associate for European airports (ACI), reports Dublin Live .

In the first six months of this year, traffic at the airport grew faster than at Barcelona’s El-Prat Airport, Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen International Airport, Copenhagen Airport and Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam.

Aebhric McGibney, Director of Public and International Affairs at Dublin Chamber said: “Growth levels at Dublin Airport continue to surprise on the upside.

“The challenge now is to ensure that Dublin Airport is equipped for further growth in the coming years.

“Dublin Airport’s reaction to faster-than-expected growth has been to prioritise the construction of a much-needed new second runway.

“The Minister for Transport must now show the same sense of ambition to ensure that the Metro North link between Dublin City Centre, Dublin Airport and the rapidly-expanding north County Dublin area is built much quicker than the previously-mooted target of 2027.”

He added: “Dublin Airport is a vital piece of national infrastructure, with four out of every five visitors who arrive to Ireland by air coming through it.

“A new rail link is needed not only to serve Dublin Airport, but also to cater for the additional 40,000+ people who will be commuting into Dublin city centre from north county Dublin by 2023.”

Dublin Airport Managing Director Vincent Harrison said: “Dublin Airport had a very strong performance in the first half of this year, welcoming just over 13 million passengers.

“The growth in passenger numbers at Dublin Airport is having a significant impact on the Irish economy,”

Traffic growth across European airports was 4.9% in the first half of that year, with traffic at non-EU airports within Europe growing by just 0.5%

Why Volunteering is good for your mental health

    

Older people get the most benefit from helping others.

Volunteering is good for your mental health, especially in middle age and beyond, according to a new study.

The report, published in the journal BMJ Open, surveyed people living in 5,000 households in Great Britain over several years. About 20% of the people surveyed said they volunteered.

On a questionnaire that measured mental health and wellbeing—where lower scores were considered healthier—people who volunteered scored about 10.7, compared to the average score of 11.4 among people who didn’t volunteer. Volunteering may “provide a sense of purpose,” the researchers write in the study, while helping maintain social networks that are critical as people age.

Interestingly, people in the 40 and older groups appeared to have the greatest health benefit from the practice. The effect increased as people got older, and it was more robust among people who said they volunteered frequently compared to people who volunteered less often. “One explanation might be that during younger ages, volunteering may be perceived of as yet another obligatory task to fulfill in order to be a good student, parent, worker and so forth, so it does not have beneficial effects on health,” the researchers suggest.

The study is not the first to link volunteering to better health. Otherresearch has suggested that people over age 50 who volunteer regularly are less likely to develop high blood pressure than non-volunteers.

All that foot tapping and fidgeting could be good for your circulation 

  

For people who fidget and that nervous habit of tapping your feet may annoy your friends, but it could be good for your health. (WPVI)

For people who fidget and have that nervous habit of tapping your feet that may annoy your friends, but it could be good for your health.

It can keep the blood flow in your legs going when you sit for a long time.

Researchers at the University of Missouri tested young men and women before and after 3 hours of sitting.

They were surprised to find that fidgeting increased blood flow enough to prevent a decline in the function in leg arteries that’s tied to long periods of sitting.

“What we found on an average, people performed 250 taps per minutes that resulted in an increase in blood flow during the actual fidgeting,” says Dr. Jaume Padilla, leader of the study.

“We believe that any type of leg movement will be beneficial to the arteries of the lower limbs,” continued Dr. Padilla.

It’s not a substitute for exercise, but…

“Perhaps in situations where we are stuck in the office or on an airplane, in these situations fidgeting or leg movement may be a good alternative,” said Dr. Padilla.

The study was good news for M-U student Nathan Winn, a confessed “constant fidgeter.”

“So as long as you are not annoying your friends or bothering other people and you can get potential health benefits out of it, then why not do it?” says Winn.

Previous studies found another benefit to fidgeting – is that it helped young people with ADHD learn easier.

So there’s two good excuses if you are someone who fidgets.

Medieval skeletons found under disused Kilkenny car park

Female remains believed to be of poor Anglo-Norman colonists who died young

   

The skeletons were discovered just a foot underground during the digging of service trenches for electricity wires.

Four medieval skeletons have been discovered under a disused car park in Kilkenny city.

The female skeletons have been dated to between 1250 and 1350 meaning they were likely among the first Anglo-Norman colonists in Co Kilkenny.

They were discovered just a foot underground during the digging of service trenches for electricity wires.

The service trenches were for the €6 million St Mary’s Medieval Mile Museumin Kilkenny which is due to open in the next 12 months.

The area was formerly a car park which had been concreted over in the 1950s before the church and its grounds were bought by the council in 2009.

Archaeologists have determined that the women, aged between eight and 25, were the poor of the town.

They had been buried in the southwest corner of the city’s main graveyard around St Mary’s Parish Church. This area was reserved for the poor.

Tell-tale green stains on the bones of the skeletons suggest they were buried in shrouds rather than in coffins as the better off were at the time. The stains came from copper-alloy pins used to hold the burial shrouds together.

One of the skeletons, that of a teenage girl, showed evidence of hardship. Her spine was damaged from the prolonged lifting of heavy weights and one of her legs appeared to be shorter than the other, meaning she would have walked with a pronounced limp.

Their premature deaths showed how hard life was for the poor at that time. For these unfortunate girls, life was truly nasty, brutish and short.

The skeletons are being carefully recorded and analysed in the ground by the archaeological team and their osteoarchaeologist. Once exhumed they will be brought to a laboratory for further detailed analysis.

They may be reburied in St Mary’s, following consultation with the National Museum of Ireland.

Meteor shower set to light up Irish skies on next Thursday with dazzling display

‘Three times stronger than normal’

      

Hundreds of shooting stars will be visible from across Ireland on Thursday evening as the annual Perseid meteor shower peaks

Irish skies are set to sparkle later this week as a spectacular meteor shower is expected to peak this week.

The annual Perseid meteor shower is the strongest of the year, according to David Moore, chairman of Astronomy Ireland.

“This year is expected to be two to three times stronger than normal, because we’re passing through a particularly dense swarm of dust particles,” Mr Moore told RTE Radio One’s Morning Ireland.

He explained that although they look like stars shooting across a sky, they are actually debris from a comet.

“They’re just bits that have fallen off a comet goes around the sun every 120 years. It’s been around so many times that there’s now a huge swarm of particles all throughout its orbit, and we pass closest to that, a particularly dense strand, on Thursday night.

“We hit them at 100,000 miles an hour and they burn up as a fiery streak,” he said.

Stargazers hoping to take in the dazzling view are advised that the meteor shower will be visible from 10pm on Thursday until 4am on Friday morning, but that the spectacle should continue for several nights afterwards.

“Normally you’d expect to see a shooting star every ten minutes in a dark rural sky and less in towns and cities, but we could be seeing two or three if we’re lucky,” Mr Moore said.

He added that although there will be a moon until 12.30am, it won’t make much of a difference to the view, and that conditions are otherwise “perfect” for the shimmering display.

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