News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Sunday 23rd October 2016

Taoiseach Kenny again rules out a free vote on abortion referendum bill

The Citizens’ Assembly is to report back by the end of June 2017

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The Taoiseach Enda Kenny has upped the ante in a dispute with the Independent Alliance over abortion.

He is again ruling out a free vote for ministers when the Dáil votes this Thursday on a bill calling for a referendum.

The Independent Alliance has suggested tabling a counter motion, which would introduce a deadline for the new Citizens’ Assembly to report back on the subject.

He was speaking last night as he attended the annual Fine Gael presidential dinner – his 15th as party leader.

But Mr Kenny is standing firm, and insists the assembly already has a time-frame for reporting back.

“The bill before the Dáil next week is a Private Members Bill – and cuts across that process entirely.

“A process, which I would remind you, that the Oireachtas – the Dáil and the Seanad – have voted to put in place.

“And my very strong view is that the Citizens’ Assembly should be allowed to do its work”, he said.

“The first meeting has already taken place of the Citizens’ Assembly, so in that sense the lifetime of the Citizens’ Assembly is for 12 months.

“But the first issue it will look at is the 8th amendment – (which is) due to report back before the end of June 2017.”

The majority of Irish motorists support a public register of drink-drivers

An AA research finds support for the naming and shaming of those with convictions

Image result for The majority of Irish motorists support a public register of drink-drivers Image result for a public register of drink-drivers  Image result for The majority of Irish motorists support a public register of drink-drivers

The majority of motorists are in favour of a new public register which would ‘name and shame’ drink-drivers, according to the latest research from the AA.

The majority of motorists are in favour of a new public register which would “name and shame” drink-drivers, according to the latest research from the AA.

The research, which surveyed 11,000 drivers, found that more than two-thirds (68 per cent) of motorists would favour the creation of a register of those convicted for drink-driving.

The research also suggested that such a register would have a deterrent effect.

According to the findings:

Some 20% of drivers said such a register would have a “major effect on their behaviour”, and

More than 30% of drivers over the age of 56 said the register would have, at the least, a “moderate effect” on their behaviour.

Almost half of respondents said the register wouldn’t change their behaviour, although many said this was because they had already vowed to never drink and drive.

The research showed that almost 45% of drivers said they “strongly supported” the proposal, with a further 23% being “somewhat” supportive.

Among the main reasons for supporting the idea was the belief that the risk of being “named and shamed” would discourage people from driving while over the legal limit.

‘Shameful behaviour’

Commenting on the findings, the AA’s director of consumer affairs, Conor Faughnan, said drinking and driving was “reckless, shameful behaviour” that should be part of Ireland’s past, “not our future”.

“Motorists have consistently supported strong enforcement and strong sanctions for the offence.

“Sadly it is clear that there are people who have not got the message. It is a tragic Irish problem that hasn’t gone away.”

The legal limit for drink-driving is 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

Gardai reveal the shocking speeding they uncovered on Slow Down Day

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Gardai have revealed that National Slow Down Day was a huge success, with the vast majority of motorists obeying the speed limit.

However, they also revealed some of the shocking excess speeds they clocked some drivers doing across the country.

The figures published this morning after the nationwide anti-speeding campaign reveal that of the 135,010 vehicles checked in the 24-hour period, just 341 were found to be speeding. That is around a quarter of one per cent, showing that only a tiny fraction of Irish motorists speed.

But, those that do posted some shocking figures yesterday.

  • The figures from yesterday’s National Slow Down day have been revealed       138 km/h in an 80km/h zone on the Belgard Road Tallaght Dublin24 Dublin
    •        91 km/h in a 60km/h zone on the N21 at Croagh Rathkeale Limerick
    •        75 km/h in a 50km/h zone on the R445 at Ballymany Newbridge Kildare
    •        107 km/h in an 80km/h zone on the R498 at Fishmoyne Borrisoleigh Tipperary
    •        139 km/h in a 100 km/h zone on the N5 at Drummindoo Westport Mayo
    •        130 km/h in a 100 km/h zone on the N25 at Loughaderry Midleton Cork
    •        129 km/h in a 100 km/h zone on the N13 Treantaboy Drumkeen Donegal
    •        83 km/h in a 60 km/h zone on the N69  Billeragh Listowel Kerry
    •        69 km/h on a 50 km/h zone on the R712 Pennefatherslot Kilkenny Kilkenny
    •        107 km/h in an 80 km/h zone on the R498 Fishmoyne Borrisoleigh Tipperary
    •        89 km/h in a 60 km/h zone on the L3042 Fortyacres Piercetown Wexford
    •        88 km/h in a 60 km/h zone on the R586 Murragh Enniskeane Cork
    •        65km/h in a 50km/h zone on the N80 Newtownbarry Bunclody Wexford
    •        62 km/h in a 50 km/h zone on the R245 at Ballyraine Letterkenny Donegal
    •        108 km/h in an 80 km/h zone on the R458 at Ballyconneely Newmarket On Fergus Clare
    •        139 km/h in a 100 km/h zone on the N24 at Whitehall Limerick Limerick
    •        130 km/h in a 100 km/h zone on the N25 at Ballyadam Cork Cork

Chief Superintendent Aidan Reid, Roads Policing Bureau said “on behalf of An Garda Síochána and the Road Safety Authority I wish to thank all the organisations who were involved in and supported this campaign. Drivers, please, think about the consequences of speeding the next time you get behind the wheel and reduce your speed accordingly.”

Mobile post office service to go to cabinet in a few weeks

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There are more than 1,100 post offices across Ireland, but over 200 have shut in the past decade

The idea of a mobile post office service is set to form part of a plan aimed at safeguarding post offices that will go to Cabinet in the coming weeks.

The proposals are being drawn up by Minister of State for Regional Economic Development Michael Ring, who has said the Government will not close any post offices.

However, Mr Ring did warn in the Dáil last week that some are not viable.

There are more than 1,100 post offices across Ireland, but over 200 have shut in the past decade.

The measures the Government will consider soon are also likely to include a retirement incentive scheme for post offices no longer profitable.

There could also be a proposal to offer a top-up of around €4,000 for struggling offices that want to stay open.

It is understood the plan is looking at the concept of  redrawing the network so there would be a distance of at least 15km between offices.

Sligo’s Stan Burns and the changing face of Irish surfing

Irish surf culture has changed dramatically since the Sligo man first started in 1960s

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Gabe Davies from Newcastle, England surfing approximately 1 mile off the Donegal Coast near Bundoran during the H30 Project which brings together Irish and British surfers to ride the most dangerous waves off the coasts of Ireland and Britain.

Years ago when Stan Burns decided to sell his surfboard, he let it go for 12 Irish punt on the condition that the proud new owner couldn’t sell it on for any more than that sum – and only then to another Strandhill local. It was Burns’s way of trying to make sure there were enough boards around for youngsters who had become hooked on surfing, just as he had.

Surfing has taken Burns to every country and coastline ever catalogued as exotic – he was the top-ranked judge on the professional world surfing circuit for several years – and he pauses for a long time before deciding upon the least likely and strangest place he has ever surfed.

“Well, I suppose . . . Ireland,” he says on a dazzling afternoon in Sligo town, half-surprised by his answer. “I mean, I haven’t surfed in Norway yet and I knew of a Norwegian surf team. It was made up almost entirely of firemen who worked at an airport north of Bergen. The place was closed for about nine months because of snow and ice but the guys were based there. So they would surf in Arctic waters through the ice season. But definitely, in the early days: Ireland.”

It makes sense. The concept of surfing in Ireland in the 1970s existed somewhere between delusion and wilful eccentricity, observed with amusement and scepticism by the mainstream – if it was noticed at all.

Burns grew up in Sligo town in the 1960s with an eye to the independent life. He gravitated towards music and basketball but could never really get surfing out of his mind after he happened to see a local, Brian Park, out on the waves in Strandhill one afternoon. He quickly moved to Strandhill so he could surf daily and so accidently became a member of the generation of Irish surfers who were there when the local coastline was, in Kevin Naughton’s perfect phrase, “an undiscovered gem”.

Naughton, a Californian who parents emigrated from Galway, is surfing’s equivalent of Neil Armstrong in that, through curiosity and perseverance, he sought out some of the world’s best waves before anyone else. He was never interested in any acclamation for that: he just wanted to surf new places. When he came to Ireland in 1971 to surf and study, he believed he had stumbled upon a greener and wintrier version of what the Californian surf culture of the 1940s must have been like, when a handful of enthusiasts had a breathtaking canvas of sculpted waves all to themselves.

The surfing fraternity is at once global and intensely local: it was no surprise to learn Naughton had ended up crashing with Burns during that period. They worked on a building site for a summer and “Kevin would be so keen to get the job done and get away to Strandhill that we’d end up working like mad to get finished”.

Overcrowded and spoilt

Even in the years when there were just a handful of people surfing in Ireland, the practitioners worried their go-to spots would become overcrowded and spoilt. For instance, when Ray Westby, a Sligo doctor and surfer, told Burns about a terrific break at Lislary, near Lissadel House, he managed to keep it to himself for several glorious months.

Burns spent all his life as a professional saxophonist, playing the show bands around the country. A few of the other musicians surfed and they began to notice he would vanish at the usual haunts. “So Peter Nielson, another surfer, got his father, Carl, a trumpet player, who also had a pilot’s licence, to get in the plane at Strandhill and follow my camper van to find out where I was going. And they tracked me to Lislary. The next time I went down, there was a crowd there. We deemed them crowds then – maybe 10 surfers.”

One of the reasons Burns will make it his business to be in Rossnowlagh for this weekend’s annual inter-counties competition and the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Irish Surfing Association is to acknowledge that fact. Surfing has made it. What began as a spontaneous reaction to the possibility of surfing shared by a number of individuals has tightened into a legitimate sports organisation.

Surfing in Ireland, meantime has become many things: still an escape, yes, but also a vital season-round business venture in various pockets of the Atlantic coast and an obligatory image on all official Irish tourist brochures and advertisements. It has long since shed its underground skin. Still, because Ireland’s seawater is forbiddingly cold in winter, it hasn’t become overrun or mired in commercialism either.

It still takes a certain kind of mindset to want to submit to the Atlantic, body and soul, on afternoons when it gets dark by four and the beaches are desolate and the wind can turn your knuckles raw in five minutes flat.

Burns happily describes himself as someone who believed he could surf pretty well until the first time he saw Kevin Naughton on a board. Still, he had an eye and an intuition for what constituted elite surfing and when he agreed to step in as a judge at an international competition in France, his intuition became apparent. Surfing competitions are judged by a panel similar to a boxing panel and Burns’ scores were habitually in accordance with the winners.

“It takes one hundred per cent concentration and fair play. They always say the best photograph is taken just before the best wipe-out. In other words, there is a brilliant image but they are about to get smashed. You can always tell the really good guy who will read the wave and paddle into it at the perfect moment so he can get the steepest wave. It can form into a wall and level out into a hill and then become a wall again and the best guys will read this really quickly and combine a series to suit that wave.”

Tom Curren, the revered Californian contrarian and three-time world champion, remains his vision of the perfect surfer.

“I liked the fluidity of movement and the artistic value of surfing even more than I liked the radical manoeuvres. I always loved watching Brian Park because he was like poetry on a wave. He just flowed along with it. Some of the surfers look as if they are having a war with the wave. All surfers look great in clean water on sheer faces and their image is almost reflected on the face of the wave. It is lovely to look at that. But when the sea is nasty, Tom Curren could go out and perform equally. Big waves, small waves, messy waves, untidy waves: he was the guy to look at. I liked to go out and see a surfer playing with the wave and looking at one with the wave, whereas Kelly Slater, an absolutely incredible surfer, went out and pulled out these jerky, radical, spectacular manoeuvres all the time.”

Scrupulous judge

Oddly, it was at a competition in which Burns had gone against the prevailing opinion that Curren had won which advanced his reputation as a scrupulous judge. Burns had felt a French surfer had just edged the American out. “Tommy was a great, great surfer but I felt he had won this one on his reputation. He was a huge name then and had all the sponsorship in the world behind him. But I didn’t feel he deserved it and quite a few others watching were of the same mind. And after that, I was asked to act as head judge at the European championships near La Rochelle. And I became a tyrant of a head judge when it came to fairness.”

By the time Burns finished as a head judge, he could pick a good surfer out and now there were plenty to be found at home. His sons Steve and Jonathan established themselves as surfers of national repute. Another Strandhill local, Colin O’Hare, won multiple Irish championship awards. Within two decades, the quality of surfing in Ireland had become unrecognisable.

In the past couple of years alone, Sligo’s Gearóid McDaid and Bundoran’sShauna Ward have made strong impressions at European level. Ireland has become established as one of the premier heavy-wave destinations. The tension between competitive and spiritual surfing continues to exist. Brian Britton, from one of the pioneering surf families, acted as head of the ISA for many years and was actually the first to propose surfing as an Olympic sport: it will debut at the Tokyo Games.

His brother Barry, meantime, has been a conscientious objector to the idea of surfing as a competition all his life. On several occasions, the ISA splintered on the issue of whether they should be hosting major international surf competitions. It’s just a perspective and Burns can understand both arguments. To him, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that he can stop at any of the known breaks along the west coast this weekend and see people surfing while in Rossnowlagh, the water will be as busy as on the Twelfth.

“In a way, it has completely changed,” Burns says of Irish surfing now. “At the start, it was just a bunch of people in woolly sweaters trying to keep warm. It was anti-image. All that’s over. But you can still tell the kids who are going to keep surfing up from their first attempts. So I don’t know how much bigger surfing will become in Ireland. But I think that Irish surfers are going to get better all the time.” The annual Inter-Counties Surfing Championships is being held this weekend at Rossnowlagh. The ISA 50th anniversary celebration event takes place tonight

Scientists discover curious cloud shapes over the Bermuda Triangle

A Look At The Mysteries Of The Region

  Image result for Strange hexagonal clouds spotted over the Bermuda Triangle called as "air bombs"  Image result for Scientists Discover Curious Cloud Shapes Over Bermuda Triangle

Hexagonal Clouds are expected to answer the mysterious vanishing of ships and planes in the Bermuda Triangle. They are held responsible for the updrafts and downdrafts that cause havoc in the region. 

Strange hexagonal clouds spotted over the Bermuda Triangle called as “air bombs” by scientists have been dubbed as the root cause of all mysterious vanishing of planes and ships at the doomed patch in the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by Florida,Bermuda, and Puerto Rico.

According to meteorologists, the hexagonal clouds can trigger 170mph hurricane-like force, capable of destroying planes and ships in no time. Air blasts running at a speed of 170 mph plus can sink ships and crash planes without a trace.

Signaling the danger levels, meteorologist Randy Cerveny called the satellite imagery “bizarre.” He said hexagonal shapes in the sky signify potential microbursts from “blasts of air.”

Theories On Sinking Ships And Vanishing Planes?

Bermuda Triangle mysteries have already claimed at least 1,000 lives in the last 100 years. The scare is further compounded by the fact that even today four to five aircraft and 20 yachts go missing in that sea patch.

The legacy of strange events at Bermuda Triangle dates back to 1493. Even the first journey of great explorer Christopher Columbus (1451-1506) had its reference on Bermuda Triangle as the explorer’s compass stopped functioning and he saw strange lights in the sea.

One of the biggest tragedies was the drowning of the USS Cyclops in March 1918. The Navy cargo ship carried 306 passengers and sank between Barbados and the Chesapeake Bay. The most surprising fact was that there was no SOS call from the captain and the search yielded no wreckage of the ship. Similarly, two more naval cargo ships vanished on the same route in 1941.

Yet another mystery was the vanishing of five U.S. Navy torpedo bombers “Flight 19” in 1945 carrying 14 men from Florida while flying on a training exercise.

Two search planes were sent but only one of them returned. More intriguing was the wreckage of Flight 19 that was never found.

A tornado-Like Force?

Now the hexagonal cloud theory joins a slew of reigning theories on Bermuda Triangle occurrences. Others include the presence of a fierce Gulf stream, weird compass behavior, and violent weather changes including methane pockets.

Videos released by Science Channel on Wednesday sought to explain the mystery by taking of experts who attributed the hexagonal holes as the prime villains.

The scientists discovered the “bizarre” hexagonal clouds at the sea front having 20 to 50 miles of width, using radar satellite imagery.

According to experts, in simple terms, micro bursts produced by hexagonal clouds are comparable to tornadoes but they differ on the impact as the effects will be more localized with the latter and will be felt within a radius of 100 Kms.

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