News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Monday 7th November 2016

President Higgins starts eight-day visit to Vietnam and Laos

Higgins says Irish impressed by Vietnam’s defeat of several imperialist aggressors.

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President Michael D. Higgins and his wife were welcomed at Noi Bai International Airport.

President Michael D Higgins: “I think one of the great challenges facing both countries, here in Ireland and in Vietnam, is to get an economic model that will benefit all the people.”

President Michael D Higgins has begun an eight-day visit to Vietnam and Laos that will focus on boosting bilateral ties, especially in trade, investment, development, education and training.

Mr Higgins is due to meet Vietnamese president Tran Dai Quang at the presidential palace on Monday and later in the day he will also meet Nguyen Thim Kim Ngan, chair of the National Assembly.

A strong focus of the trip will be Irish Aid projects in Vietnam and Laos, and on Tuesday President Higgins will give a keynote address to the country’s oldest university, the Vietnam National University. He will be accompanied by Sabina Higgins, as well as Minister for Foreign Affairs Charles Flanagan

A significant part of the visit will be focused on aid. Vietnam is the only Irish Aid Key Partner country outside Sub-Saharan Africa, and while it continues to have significant development challenges, Vietnam has made major progress in recent years.

Imperialism

In an interview with Vietnam News, Mr Higgins said Ireland and Vietnam shared a struggle for independence, and he said Irish people were impressed by how the Vietnamese people had to defeat not one but several imperialist aggressors.

“I think one of the great challenges facing both countries, here in Ireland and in Vietnam, is to get an economic model that will benefit all the people, when all the citizens have an opportunity to get an education, get housing, etc,” he said.

“In this context, the reduction of poverty from 70 per cent to less than 23 per cent is a very significant achievement,” the president said.

Vietnam is four times bigger than Ireland and has a population of over 88 million. Ireland gave $150 million (€134.88 million) in non-refundable aid to Vietnam between 2007 and 2016, focusing on poverty reduction, support for vulnerable groups, and improving economic management.

Ireland has provided €1.54 million for research into the climate impacts on the Lower Mekong Basin work through the EU-led Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) from 2012 to 2015.

Climate-sensitive development

Ireland provides support to civil society organisations (CSOs) working to pilot and scale up new models in community-based climate-sensitive development. Of the total funding under the bilateral development co-operation programme in Vietnam, administered and co-ordinated by the Irish Embassy in Hanoi, €3.33 million relates to climate finance.

The state visit marks 20 years of diplomatic relations between Ireland and Vietnam.

Bilateral trade reached $402 million (€360.55 million) in 2015, up 28 per cent from the previous year. Ireland currently has 17 investment projects with combined capital of $20.7 million (€18.7 million) in Vietnam, ranking 67th among 115 countries and territories investing here.

Pepper Money sells out new mortgage’s with geographic criteria

Australian financial firm selling mortgages that exclude certain Irish counties

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Pepper Money will provide mortgages for both residential and buy-to-let customers, and it specialises in areas including refinancers, buy-to-let, the self-employed and people with historic credit issues.

Pepper, the Irish subsidiary of the Australian-listed financial services group, is to start selling mortgages directly to Irish customers for the first time through the launch of a new direct-to-consumer platform .

Pepper Money will provide mortgages for both residential and buy-to-let customers, and it specialises in a number of areas including refinancers, buy-to-let, the self-employed and people with historic credit issues.

Customers can apply for a mortgage with the lender via its website (peppermoney.ie) or its customer services team in Shannon. Customers can also still submit an application through Pepper’s panel of approved mortgage brokers. Pepper promises to respond with an approval in principle for customers within 24 hours.

Paul Doddrell, chief executive of Pepper Ireland, said the move was a reflection of the success of its mortgage launch in the Irish market, particularly for groups of consumers with otherwise limited options.

“ Our products are intended to target a broader and more diverse range of customers so we tailor our loans based on people’s needs; for example, our Advantage mortgage is really unique and fit-for-purpose in this market because it gives people with a legacy credit event an option they probably won’t find elsewhere.”

Post-crash

Pepper became the first new mortgage lender in the Irish market since the banking crash in late 2008 and the first non-bank group to offer home loans, when it started offering mortgages last February through a small group of brokers. Now it’s ramping up its presence.

Pepper Money is the new consumer-facing brand launched globally by Pepper Group, and it offers a range of consumer finance products including mortgages, personal and car loans, equipment finance and credit cards. It is expected that the group will roll out some of these additional products, such as car loans, in Ireland too.

“The new Pepper Money brand will support our ambition to expand our finance products into areas such as auto and personal loans, as we look to grow the business,” Mr Doddrell said.

Three products

Pepper offers three mortgage products, with specific products available for self-employed professionals or those with non-standard employment types, as well as those with legacy credit issues that may hinder their ability to borrow. Rates start from 3.1 per cent or 3.23 per cent APR for borrowers with a loan to value of less than 50 per cent, or from 3.85 per cent (4.01) for those with credit issues. For investors, Pepper has buy-to-let rates starting at 4.4 per cent. However, there are restrictions in where it will lend; on its website Pepper says it will only lend in Dublin and surrounding counties (Louth, Meath, Kildare, Wicklow); Cork city; Galway city; Limerick city; Ennis; Shannon; and Kilkenny. However, according to Pepper, while its initial focus is on the main geographic regions and commuter belts, it will look to expand to new locations over time, and recently added Kilkenny to its approved locations.

Pepper first came to Ireland in 2012 and it now employs more than 400 people in Shannon and Dublin, where its offices are located. It has over €16 billion of assets under management.

Ireland’s new home buyers are using big deposits to buy their properties

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New home buyers are using big deposits to buy properties, a new research shows.

The findings come just weeks before of the Central Bank is due to announce a review of its mortgage lending restrictions.

These rules set out that first and second-time buyers have to have big deposits when buying, and limit lending based on income.

Now economists working for the Central Bank have looked at most mortgages issued this year and found that the average first-time buyer has a deposit of €64,000.

This represents 26% of the value of the home, new research carried out by Central Bank economists shows.

The average income for these borrowers was €66,000.

Small numbers of borrowers can get exemptions from the limits, but these tend to be Dublin-based, with high income.

When those getting an exemption are excluded, the average deposit size for a first-time buyer works out at 21% of the property’s value, economists Christina Kinghan, Paul Lyons and Yvonne McCarthy found.

The findings come ahead of a review of Central Bank lending restrictions, the outcome of which is expected to be announced before the end of this month.

The lending limits have proved hugely controversial, with estate agents and mortgage brokers claiming they are slowing down the home-buying market. They were introduced in February 2015.

The Government’s new help-to-buy scheme is seen as an attempt to circumvent the rules.

Under the regulations first-time buyers can borrow with a deposit of at least 10% for the first €220,000, and need a 20% deposit for all amounts over this. They are limited to borrowing only three and a half times their income.

Second-time buyers need a deposit of at least 20%, and have the same income limit on borrowing. There are some exemptions.

The average second-time buyers have equity of €170,000 when moving home, the research shows.

Those not getting an exemption have equity of 34% on average when moving.

Why it’s no surprise that hypochondriacs get more heart disease

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Hypochondriacs are more likely to develop heart disease, according to research at the University of Bergen in Norway.

The ‘worried well’ were 73% more likely to develop heart disease than those who are not anxious about their health.

The link may be explained by the fact that stress of any kind has long been recognised as a risk factor for the disease.

During the study, published in the journal BMJ Open, the researchers examined health data from more than 7,000 people born in Norway in the 1950s. The participants’ heart health was tracked using national data on hospital treatment for heart conditions. Their anxiety was measured using a standard scale.

By 2009, 234 people in the group had experienced acute angina or myocardial infarction (a heart attack). The researchers said they were unable to establish a causal relationship between anxiety and heart disease, and that people with anxiety were more likely to have other mental health problems which could contribute to poor health.

The researchers wrote: ‘These findings illustrate the dilemma for clinicians between reassuring the patient that current physical symptoms of anxiety do not represent heart disease, contrasted against the emerging knowledge on how anxiety, over time, may be causally associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease.

‘Our research indicates that characteristic behaviour among persons with health anxiety, such as monitoring and frequent check-ups of symptoms, does not reduce the risk of coronary heart disease events.’

This study was a prospective cohort study examining the relationship between health anxiety (determined by validated questionnaire) and the development of coronary heart disease (defined as heart disease leading to angina or a heart attack). Studies like this do not establish causation but usually highlight correlation.

During the seven-year follow-up period, double the number of people with health anxiety experienced a cardiac event compared to those without (6.1% versus 3%). After analysis, men and women with anxiety were almost twice as likely to develop coronary heart disease, with the effect more pronounced in men, even after adjusting for risk factors.

The results are consistent with previous data suggesting stress is an important risk factor for heart disease; anxiety about health is also a form of stress, and so it should come as no surprise that this relationship was found.

What would have been interesting is if the activities of those patients most at risk had been tracked. Did their health anxiety translate into ‘heart-healthy’ activities? Did they attempt to make positive lifestyle changes in order to alleviate risk?

Take-home message: mental health is as important as physical health.

Things you need to be doing to get a good night’s sleep

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According to various researches, it has been found out that there are a myriad of habits and practices that can help you have a good night’s sleep. This is also called “Sleep Hygiene”. By following these habits, you can be benefited even if you’re suffering from insomnia.

These habits when practised regularly will help you have a peaceful sleep. Sleep is the most important thing that each one of us require on a daily basis. Ideally, 7-8 hours of sleep time is a must to rejuvenate your body and also have a calm, peaceful mind. Here are some things you need to do for a good sleep.

Things you need to do for a good sleep are:

1.Hit the sack when you feel tired: There is no need to struggle to fall asleep. If you don’t have a busy schedule, try to keep yourself engaged with various other activities like gym, cycling, grocery shopping, cooking, reading, etc. After a totally busy day, you will automatically feel tired enough to doze off in no time. This is one of the simplest tips for a healthy sleep.
2.Say Goodbye To Alcohol, Caffeine, Nicotine, etc: If you want to have a good quality sleep, you must avoid all the caffeinated stuff because they contain caffeine, which is a stimulant that keeps you active and awake. Stay away from coffee, cola, chocolate, tea, etc, for at least 4-5 hours before your bedtime. If you’re addicted to smoking, you should avoid cigarette just before hitting the bed.
3.Exercise Is A Must: Exercise stimulates your body to secrete the “cortisol” (stress-related hormone) which helps to trigger the alerting mechanism in your brain. Exercise also promotes a good night’s sleep if it is done at the right time. One of the simplest tips for a healthy sleep is to work out early in the morning and avoid exercising when you are too close to your bedtime.
4.Always Keep Your Sleep Schedule Constant: Always keep your wake-up time and your bedtime same, even on your weekends. This will help to control your body’s clock and will help you fall asleep every night at the same time.
5.Avoid the afternoon naps: If you have the habit of taking naps during the daytime, then this can keep you awake till late night. Thus, avoid napping, especially in the afternoon, to get a better and sound sleep throughout the night.
6.Have a light Dinner: Having rich foods, very close to your bedtime, can trigger indigestion which can disrupt your sleep. Take a light dinner that includes the necessary nutrients and try to finish your dinner a few hours before hitting the bed. This is what you need to do for a good sleep.
7.Take a balanced intake of fluids: Hydrate yourself enough before going to bed, so that you do not wake up feeling thirsty during the night. However, make sure you do this a couple of hours before hitting the bed, so that you don’t have to wake up to go to the bathroom in the night.
8.Make your room devoid of all the disruptions: One of the simplest tips for a healthy sleep is to slumber in a tranquil and cool room. Make sure the room is dark while you sleep and there should also be no noises or any other disturbances during your bedtime.
9.Make your bed comfortable: Make sure that your mattress and pillows are soft and comfy. If you have been using the same mattress for more than 9-10 years now, then it is time you got a new one. Keep beautiful and comfortable pillows on your bed that invite you for sleep.

They are the things you need to do for a good night’s sleep.

Ireland ratifies Paris Agreement on global climate change

Minister for Communications to participate in UN climate talks in Morocco next week

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UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa (above) said no one can doubt that the world is determined to shift towards a “low-emission, resilient society”.

Ireland has formally ratified the Paris Agreement on global climate change, it was announced on Monday.

Minister for Communications Denis Naughten completed the process last Friday, the day the deal came into force.

A spokeswoman for Mr Naughten said Ireland had “deposited the instrument of ratification” with the United Nations last week.

The confirmation came as leaders from almost 200 countries met in Marrakesh, Morocco, for the annual United Nations climate talks.

UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa told delegates “no politician or citizen, no business manager or investor” can doubt that the world is determined to shift towards a “low-emission, resilient society”.

The agreement marks the first time all countries have pledged to fight global warming by curbing the rise in greenhouse gas emissions, primarily carbon dioxide from fossil fuels.

Ms Espinosa said: “Achieving the aims and ambitions of the Paris Agreement is not a given. The peaking of global emissions is urgent, as is attaining far more climate-resilient societies.”

Mr Naughten is expected to travel to Morocco next week to participate in the discussions.

Delegates will meet for two weeks to work on the rules for implementing the deal, including how to measure and report emissions so that countries can be held accountable.

The goal of the agreement is to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial times.

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