News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Saturday 15th October 2016

Irish Cabinet now expected to agree to waive scheduled pay increases

Image result for Irish Cabinet now expected to agree to waive scheduled pay increases  Image result for Richard Bruton  Image result for Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald said ministers were in line for rises worth €12,000 over three years.

Richard Bruton said ministers will not be taking the scheduled pay increases and the Cabinet is expected to agree next week to waive pay hikes for Ministers and Ministers of State.

Ministers were due to get increases under the terms of the Haddington Road Agreement on public sector pay.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe will bring a proposal to extend the freeze on pay restoration for Government members meaning they will forego €12,000 over the next three years.

However TDs will get their pay restored by €5,414 over the same period according to the Department of Public Enterprise, since 2009, TDs’ pay has been reduced by €19,920.

The pay of the taoiseach has been reduced by €117,645 since 2009, a reduction of 41.1%.

The pay of the tánaiste has been reduced by €89,828 since 2009, a reduction of 36.6%.

The pay of a minister has been reduced by €82,023 since 2009, a reduction of 36.4%.

The pay of a minister of state has been reduced by €43,698 since 2009, a reduction of 28%.

Earlier, Minister for Education Richard Bruton told the Dáil that ministers will agree next week to forgo pay increases.

Speaking in the Dáil, the minister said he agreed that politicians need to take a lead and that the Government will confirm next week that ministers will not be taking the proposed pay rise.

Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald said ministers were in line for rises worth €12,000 over three years.

A stop must be put to all increases for politicians, she said and not just “a voluntary pause on these increases”.

We are like athletes says Trump & proposes drug testing before the final debate

Republican’s suggest Hillarly Clinton may have taken performance-enhancing drugs in last showdown and at New Hamphire rally repeats suspicion of a ‘rigged’ election

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Donald Trump suggested on Saturday that Hillary Clinton might have taken performance-enhancing drugs to prepare for their presidential debates, and that both candidates for president should be tested before Wednesday’s final debate.

“We’re like athletes,” the Republican nominee told a rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. “They make them take a drug test. I think we should take a drug test prior to the debate. I think we should – why don’t we do that?”

Trump continued: “We should take a drug test prior because I don’t know what’s going on with her, but at the beginning of her last debate she was all pumped up at the beginning and at the end if was, ‘Huh, take me down.’ She could barely reach her car. So I think we should take a drug test. Anyway, I’m willing to do it.”

Trump’s campaign has previously criticised the media for taking his rally statements literally, for instance saying that the candidate was being “sarcastic” when he said Barack Obama “founded” Isis. Aides have yet to say whether he was speaking tongue in cheek.

Life after Trump: Republicans brace for betrayal and civil war after 2016

The health of both candidates has been under scrutiny in the final months of the grueling 2016 campaign. Clinton was slow to reveal a bout of pneumonia, which her campaign only revealed after she made a premature departure from an 11 September memorial service in New York.

Trump’s repeated sniffling during the first two debates has also drawn attention, and Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont, was forced to apologise for tweeting a suggestion that it could be due to cocaine use.

The Trump campaign did not respond to questions about what drugs the candidate was suggesting could have been used to enhance Clinton’s debate performance .

A pro-Trump Super Pac, run by millionaire donor Robert Mercer, released an ad earlier this month questioning Clinton’s health. “If athletes need to be tested for drugs for the biggest race of their lives,” the ad says, “shouldn’t candidates be tested for the biggest race of yours?”

With his campaign in a tailspin after several women came forward with allegations of sexual harassment, Trump began Saturday with another barrage of tweets that have become a hallmark of his campaign. In them, he alleged that the election was rigged and suggested that a loss on November 8 would be illegitimate. He wrote in one: “100% fabricated and made-up charges, pushed strongly by the media and the Clinton Campaign, may poison the minds of the American Voter. FIX!”

Donald Trump ‘grabbed me and went for the lips’, says a ninth accuser?

In another, he said: “This election is being rigged by the media pushing false and unsubstantiated charges, and outright lies, in order to elect Crooked Hillary!”

And a third: “Hillary Clinton should have been prosecuted and should be in jail. Instead she is running for president in what looks like a rigged election.”

The Republican nominee has repeatedly suggested that the election is “rigged” over the past few months and warned of voter fraud, without any evidence. Since August, Trump has stirred conspiracy theories in the swing state of Pennyslvania, warning of fraud in “certain areas”, such as Philadelphia, a diverse but majority black city. He has also echoed a 2012 conspiracy theory that Mitt Romney fell victim to voter fraud in the city that year, because he did not receive a single vote in 59 precincts in African American neighborhoods. There are 1,687 precincts in the city and Obama received more than 85% of the vote there in 2012.

Trump picked up the theme during his rally in New Hampshire, scene of his first victory in the Republican primary campaign. “Hillary Clinton is running for president in what looks like a rigged election, OK?” he said. “It looks to me like a rigged election. The election is being rigged by corrupt media pushing completely false allegations and outright lies in an effort to elect her president. And you know what I mean.”

The businessman has been widely condemned by members of both parties for seeking to undermine the legitimacy of the election. But introducing Trump on Saturday, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions fueled the fire. “They are attempting to rig this election,” he said, shaking his fists. “They will not succeed.”

Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, denounced the claim. “Campaigns should be hard-fought and elections hard-won, but what is fundamental about the American electoral system is that it is free, fair and open to the people,” he said.

‘I’m a gentleman’ as Trump menaces Clinton with imposing presence and brash insults

“Participation in the system – and particularly voting – should be encouraged, not dismissed or undermined because a candidate is afraid he’s going to lose.”

AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, said the top Republican in Washington does not agree with Trump’s assertion of fraud. “Our democracy relies on confidence in election results, and the speaker is fully confident the states will carry out this election with integrity,” she said.

A spokesperson for Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus did not respond to a request for comment and a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to comment about whether they agreed that the election is “rigged.” Priebus, McConnell and Ryan continue to support Trump although dozens of their party colleagues have denounced him.

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson also disputed the claim, with spokesman Joe Hunter saying “he doesn’t believe the actual voting is rigged”. “He has major issues with the two-party control of ballot access, debates, etc,” Hunter added.

In contrast, Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a fierce Trump critic, tweeted on Saturday: “Freedom-loving Americans repudiate anybody who says they want to make lawful voters ‘a little bit nervous’ at polls.”

Trump also attempted to defend himself against the repeated sexual harassment allegations. “How about this crazy woman on the airplane,” he said of one accuser. “I mean, can anybody believe that one? How about this? After 15 minutes! We don’t know each other.”

“After 15 minutes, she says, ‘Well, that was too much, I decided’. Fifteen minutes! With the ladies in this place it would be one second and then it would be smack. Fifteen minutes! It’s a crazy world we’re living in.”

Fianna Fáil wants changes to first-time buyer scheme

Fianna Fáil is to put pressure on Government ministers to vote in favour of changing their own first-time buyers scheme.

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The main opposition party is now seeking the support of the Independent Alliance when they table amendments the new first-time buyers scheme.

Fianna Fáil housing spokesman Barry Cowen yesterday said: “I will be asking the Independent Alliance to support the amendments we table, in particular we will be asking them to back our amendment to lower the ceiling to €400,000.”

The tax rebate announced as part of the budget will allow first-time buyers to claim up to €20,000 back on a new home. Buyers can claim back 5% of the price of a €400,000 and above that the rebate will be capped at €20,000, however those who purchase homes up to the value of €600,000 will all be eligible for the scheme.

Housing Minister Simon Coveney yesterday defended the €600,000 ceiling by saying he didn’t want to create a “cliff effect”.

“If someone was buying a house for €405,000 we didn’t want them to get nothing, yet a person buying a house for €400,000 would get support from the State to the tune of €20,000. So that’s why we effectively stopped the benefit at €400,000 and then the benefit is frozen beyond that up to €600,000. But we don’t expect first-time buyers will be buying houses at above €400,000 in any numbers.”

Mr Coveney said that in total first-time buyers bought 760 homes across the country last year.

“Builders simply aren’t building homes for that sector. And we need to change that.”

But Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó Broin said the incentive would only push up prices and called on them to withdraw the scheme.

“If Mr Coveney is going to press ahead, he needs to outline how he’s going to monitor house prices over the next 12 to 18 months, and if there’s any evidence of house price inflation — as we believe there is going to be — then he needs to suspend the scheme.”

He said the Oireachtas housing committee had spent a “lot of time” speaking with experts on the issues but this work had been “ignored” by Mr Coveney.

“In general our view was that we needed to see the price of house reduce, rather than schemes to increase access to credit,” said Mr Ó Broin. “What we proposed back in June was that the Housing Agency be given a task of doing an annual audit of the all-in cost of providing residential units, and within three months — and that would have been in time for the budget — to make clear policy recommendations based on evidence and international best practice, as how to reduce those costs.”

UHG Inquiry after amputation of toes was performed in non-sterile ward hospital

A review is under way in University Hospital Galway into why the procedure was not in theatre

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It is understood that theatre space had been booked for a patient who was due to have several toes amputated in one procedure.

University Hospital Galway has initiated a “review” into how an amputation scheduled for theatre took place in a general ward yesterday.

The hospital run by the Saolta University health care group in Galway city could not outline the circumstances due to “patient confidentiality”. However, it confirmed that the incident had occurred.

It is understood that theatre space had been booked for a patient who was due to have several toes amputated in one procedure. However, the procedure was carried out in a ward instead. It is understood that nursing staff were concerned that protocols may have been breached. Medical protocols normally require that amputations take place under sterile conditions and under anaesthetic in a theatre.

A procedure room?

In certain circumstances surgical procedures can take place in a clinical or procedure room. This might occur if theatre space was not available, or the surgery was being carried out under local anaesthetic. A spokesman for Saolta health care group management said in a statement that “an inquiry has been initiated into how an amputation took place in a ward rather than a theatre at University Hospital, Galway”.

“We can confirm that management at University Hospital Galway are currently reviewing the circumstances surrounding a surgical procedure carried out today at ward level,” the statement said. “In the interests of patient confidentiality, no further comment will be made,” it added.

The hospital is one of the busiest in the State, and pressure on its emergency department has led to implementation of full capacity protocols on a series of occasions in recent months.

Man who saved baby at Buncrana tragedy pier gets medal for bravery

Davitt Walsh who swam out to car where five drowned among those honoured in Dublin.

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Davitt Walsh, who rescued a child from drowning off Buncrana pier in March, with his mother Siobhán, as he received the Michael Heffernan gold medal for bravery at Farmleigh, Dublin.

The Donegal man who rescued a four-month-old baby from a car which was sinking off Buncrana pier earlier this year has been awarded a gold medal by the State.

Davitt Walsh (29), who brought Rionaghac-Ann McGrotty to safety after the car in which her family was travelling slipped off the Co Donegal pier, was conferred with the Michael Heffernan gold medal for marine gallantry on Friday evening.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross, who presented the awards at Farmleigh House, Dublin, paid tribute to Irish Coast Guard volunteer Caitríona Lucas, who lost her life during a search off Co Clare last month.

The nominations for this round of awards had closed before Ms Lucas lost her life.

The citation for Mr Walsh’s action in Buncrana extols his bravery at “huge peril to his own safety” and his “quick reactions to a very rapidly deteriorating situation”.

Five people, including the baby’s father Seán, and two brothers Mark (12) and Evan (8), died in the incident on Lough Swilly on March 20th. The RNLI Lough Swilly lifeboat crew who assisted in the alert received a ministerial letter of appreciation.

The gold medal – named after the late diver Michael Heffernan who lost his life while assisting in a cave rescue off north Mayo in October 1997 – was also awarded to Irish Coast Guard helicopter winchman Gary Robertson for his rescue of a fisherman off Inishinny island, Co Donegal, last April.

Mr Robertson worked in very dangerous conditions to cut the fisherman free when he became entangled and trapped in gear attached to a sinking vessel.

A bronze medal was presented to Sam Nunn and his crew of Ruarí Nunn, Brian Kehoe and Niall McGee, who rescued nine people from drowning close to the Saltee Islands off the south Wexford coast in August 2015.

Bronze medals were also given to Paul Dolan and Dean Treacy, who rescued a man from a rigid inflatable off Clontarf, Dublin, in October 2012; and to Charlie Hennigar, who rescued three people after a gangway collapsed between a pier and ferry on Inisheer in June of this year.

Ministerial letters of appreciation for their role in rescues were also awarded to the Skerries Coast Guard unit in north Dublin; the RNLI Castletownbere and Kinsale lifeboat crews in Cork; the Irish Coast Guard’s rescue 116 helicopter crew and its winchman Richard Desay; Dean Coleman who rescued a swimmer off Sandycove, Dublin, last summer; and Gavin Byrne who rescued three people off the Wexford coast last year.

Some 150 countries agree to sign new Climate Change deal

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About 150 countries have agreed to a deal reducing greenhouse gases far more powerful than carbon dioxide in an effort to fight climate change.

The agreement divides countries into three groups with different deadlines to reduce the use of factory-made hydrofluorocarbon gases, according to Rwandan minister Vinncent Biruta.

The developed nations, including most of Europe and the US, will reduce their use of the gas by 10% before 2019, reaching 85% by 2036.

More than 100 developing countries, including China, the world’s worst polluter, will freeze their use of the gas by 2024.

A small group of countries, including India, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and some Gulf states negotiated a later start in 2029.

That date is two years earlier than India, the world’s third-worst polluter, had initially suggested.

These countries will then reduce their use gradually.

Environmental groups say they hope the deal can cut global warming by a half-degree celsius by the end of this century.

Durwood Zaelke, president of Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, said the agreement gets about 90% of the way there, with a statement from his group describing it as the ‘largest temperature reduction ever achieved by a single agreement’.

Clare Perry, UK climate campaign leader with the Environmental Investigation Agency, said: ‘Compromises had to be made, but 85% of developing countries have committed to the early schedule starting 2024, which is a very significant achievement.’

David Doniger, climate and clean air program director with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the deal is ‘equal to stopping the entire world’s fossil-fuel CO2 emissions for more than two years.’

Small island states, such as those in the Pacific, had called for quicker action, saying that they face the biggest danger from climate change.

Mattlan Zackhras, representing the Marshall Islands, said: ‘(The deal) may not be entirely what the islands wanted but it is a good deal.

‘We all know we must go further and we will go further.’

HFCs were introduced in the 1980s to replace ozone-depleting gases.

They are used in fridges, air conditioning, some inhalers and insulating foams.

But they can be 100,000 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as greenhouse gases and their danger increased as sales of fridges and air conditioning massively increased in developing economies such as China and India.

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