News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Monday 5th November 2016

ESRI report predicts Ireland will find it difficult to be a magnet as a corporate tax friendly country after Brexit

Big demand for mortgage finance underlines need for foreign banks to operate in the Irish market

Image result for ESRI report predicts Ireland will find it difficult to stand out as a corporate tax friendly country after Brexit  Image result for ESRI report predicts Ireland will find it difficult to stand out as a corporate tax friendly country after Brexit

In a world of increasing political and economic uncertainty, making meaningful medium to long-term economic forecasts is difficult. Nevertheless, the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) in publishing its outlook for the Irish economy has tried to chart a potential path for the domestic economy to 2025, and to identify some of the major policy challenges ahead.

The ESRI presents a relatively optimistic outlook. It regards a 3% growth rate for the domestic economy as sustainable, underpinned by a growing labour force and an expanding working age population – bolstered by net immigration. Much, however, will depend on the growth in global trade and on what form an hard or soft Brexit agreement ultimately takes.

The institute’s second concern is how the introduction of a Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCTB) in the EU might affect foreign direct investment in Ireland, by hitting employment growth and tax revenue. The CCTB does not change Ireland’s 12.5% corporate tax rate. Instead the tax payable by a company would reflect the location of its actual activities, and the profits earned there.

Since Ireland’s low rate would thereby apply to a smaller share of the profits of multinationals, the country would become a less attractive investment option to such companies; securing overseas investment would be harder, and corporate tax revenues would be depressed.

The ESRI suggests that under CCTB, which the Government opposes, economic output could decline by 1.5%, foreign direct investment would drop by some 5% and revenues from corporation tax decline by a similar figure.

The British government’s aims to lower its corporate tax rate from now 20% to 15% over time. President-elect Donald Trump is planning to lower the US rate to 15% within months.

The ESRI identifies another concern: the likely inability of the banking sector to supply adequate mortgage finance to meet the rising demand for housing. An additional €50 billion may be needed by 2024, it suggests. Irish banks may be unable to provide the loans, creating the need for foreign banks to re-enter the market.

Almost 40% of Irish consumers will overspend this Christmas

Image result for Almost 40% of Irish consumers will overspend this Christmas   Image result for Almost 40% of Irish consumers will overspend this Christmas

New research commissioned by Ireland’s leading gift card company One4all shows that close to 40% of Irish consumers expect to spend more than they can afford this Christmas. Under 35s are the group most likely to go over their Christmas budget, with 45% of respondents in this age group anticipating an overspend. This correlates with research undertaken last year by One4all, which showed that 54% of us do not save for the Christmas period.

The survey was undertaken nationally by RedC in November, with 1,000 respondents overall.

Overspending is not the only thing getting Irish workers down about the holiday season, according to the nationally representative survey. 40% of respondents stated that they do not get enough time off at Christmas. Again, under 35s are the most affected by this lack of time off – more than half (51%) in this age group complained about their short Christmas holidays. However, only one third (33%) of Irish workers have used up all of their holiday entitlements for this year.

With Christmas traditionally being a ‘stay at home’ holiday, it is surprising to learn that 30% of respondents would rather spend Christmas abroad than here in Ireland. This rises to 37% in under 35s, and drops to 25% in over 55s, who would be more likely to want a traditional Christmas.

One4all also asked respondents who they think should be awarded a Christmas bonus this year. Our president Michael D. Higgins won out, with 39% thinking he deserved a bonus, followed closely by Robbie Brady at 33%. Only 20% of Irish adults reckon their boss deserves a Christmas bonus. Interestingly, women are more likely than men to feel their boss should get a bonus, with over one quarter saying they believe it’s deserved.

21% of adults feel that Donald Trump’s Campaign Manager deserves a Christmas bonus – and this is before the President elect won his election campaign.

New eagles have landed to bench with a record number of solicitors for 2016

Brexit ‘uncertainty’ prompts 800 solicitors from England and Wales to join Irish roll call?

Image result for New solicitors have landed with a record number of solicitors for 2016   Image result for New solicitors increased in Ireland for 2016

Ken Murphy, director general of the Law Society of Ireland, said that solicitors’ firms are coming on the roll to ensure they maintain the status of EU membership.

A record number of new solicitors will be added to the Law Society of Ireland roll by the end of the year due to Brexit, the society has said.

There will be 1,347 new solicitors by the end of 2016, 500 more than the previous record set in 2008 and almost four times as many as in 2015.

More than 800 of the new solicitors are from England and Wales, from where only 70 transferred last year.

But that does not mean they will actually set up practice in Ireland; so far very few have taken out practising certificates.

Unlike solicitors from other EU countries, practitioners from England, Wales and Northern Ireland are not required to go through a transfer test. But once on the roll, they must apply for a practising certificate annually.

There are 462 new Irish trainees on the roll this year and 34 barristers. Both of these figures have doubled on 2015, which was a particularly low year for new entrants.

By the end of 2016, it is expected there will be more than 16,300 solicitors on the roll.

A ‘Tsunami’ of new solicitors

Ken Murphy, director general of the Law Society, said the “tsunami of new solicitors” has been caused by the “Brexit-driven” transfer decisions made by solicitors qualified in England and Wales to take out a second jurisdictional qualification in Ireland.

“This they have been perfectly entitled to do since the mutual-recognition regime between the two jurisdictions was first put in place in 1991,” he said.

“The single word that dominates all assessments of the potential impact of Brexit is ‘uncertainty’. So far, the Law Society of Ireland has no knowledge that any of the England-based firms intend to open an office in this jurisdiction.”

He said solicitors’ firms are coming on the roll to ensure they maintain the status of EU membership.

More than 110 solicitors from one firm, international practitioners Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, one of the 10 largest law firms in the world, have joined. And 86 have joined the roll from Eversheds, which already has an office in Ireland.

Mr Murphy said he had spoken to Freshfields and it had unambiguously stated it would not be setting up an office in Ireland. He also said only anti-trust, competition and trade law specialists from the company had transferred to the Irish roll.

He also said there will be no real boost to the society’s finances as a result of the increase in numbers as the €300 per solicitor fee for admission to the roll only covers administration costs.

A handful of nuts can cut your heart disease and cancer risk

Image result for A handful of nuts can cut your heart disease and cancer risk  Image result for A handful of nuts can cut your heart disease and cancer risk  Image result for A handful of nuts can cut your heart disease and cancer risk

Nuts are rich in vitamins and minerals

“People consuming at least 20 grams of nuts daily less likely to develop potentially fatal conditions such as heart disease and cancer,” The Independent reports. That was the main finding of a review looking at 20 previous studies on the benefits of nuts.

Researchers found consistent evidence that a 28 gram daily serving of nuts – which is literally a handful (for most nuts) – was linked with around 20% reduced risk of heart disease, cancer and death from any cause.

However, as is so often the case with studies into diet and health, the researchers cannot prove nuts are the sole cause of these outcomes.

It’s hard to discount the possibility that nuts could be just one component of a healthier lifestyle pattern, including balanced diet and regular physical activity. It could be this overall picture that is reducing risk, not just nuts.

The researchers tried to account for these types of variables, but such accounting is always going to be an exercise in educated guesswork.

Also, many non-lifestyle factors may be involved in any individual’s risk of disease. For example, if you are a male with a family history of heart disease, a healthy diet including nuts can help, but still may not be able to eliminate the risk entirely.

The link between nuts and improved health is nevertheless plausible. As we pointed out during a discussion of a similar study in 2015: “Nuts are a good source of healthy unsaturated fats, protein, and a range of vitamins and minerals … Unsalted nuts are the healthiest option.”

Where did the story come from?

The study was carried out by researchers from Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway, Imperial College London, and other institutions in the US.

It was funded by Olav og Gerd Meidel Raagholt’s Stiftelse for Medisinsk forskning (a Norwegian charitable foundation), the Liaison Committee between the Central Norway Regional Health Authority and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), and Imperial College National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre (BRC).

The study was published in the peer reviewed medical journal BMC Medicine on an open-access basis, so it is free to read online.

The UK media presents the results reliably but without discussing the inherent potential limitations of the type of observational evidence examined by the researchers.

What kind of research was this?

This was a systematic review that aimed to examine the link between nut consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and death.

Previous studies have suggested an intake of nuts is beneficial, and some have found it could be linked with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Other studies though have found no link. The researchers consider the possibility that there is a weak link and that’s what they aimed to look at.

A systematic review is the best way of compiling all literature on a topic available to date. However, systematic reviews are only as good as the underlying evidence. Studies looking at dietary factors are often observational and it is difficult to rule out the possibility of confounding variables from other health and lifestyle factors.

What did the researchers do?

The researchers searched two literature databases to identify any randomised controlled trials (RCTs) or prospective cohort studies that had looked at how nut intake in adults was linked with cardiovascular disease, cancer and death from any cause.

Studies had to report information on nut intake specifically (ideally by dose and frequency). Researchers assessed the quality of studies for inclusion.

Twenty prospective cohort studies met the inclusion criteria. Nine studies came from the US, six from Europe, four from Asia, and one came from Australia. All studies included adult populations; five were in women only, three in men only, and 12 in a mixed population.

The researchers did not find any suitable RCTs to include in their analysis. This is not especially surprising as RCTs involving diet are notoriously difficult to carry out. You could never be sure that everyone who was randomised into the “eat no nuts” group would stick to the plan, or vice versa.

Also they’d need large samples and long follow-up times to capture disease outcomes, so are not usually feasible.

What did they find?

Cardiovascular disease

Twelve studies (376,228 adults) found nut consumption reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease. Each 28 gram/day serving was linked with a 21% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (relative risk [RR] 0.79, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.70 to 0.88).

This was for any nut intake, but risk reductions were also found when analysing peanuts or tree nuts separately. Increasing intake was associated with reduced risk up to 15grams/day, above which there was no further risk reduction.

Looking at specific outcomes, 12 studies also found a 29% reduced risk of heart disease specifically (RR 0.71, 95% CI 0.63 to 0.80).

However, 11 studies didn’t find a significant link with the outcome of stroke specifically (RR 0.93, 95% CI 0.83 to 1.05).

Cancer

Nine cohorts (304,285 adults) found that one serving of nuts per day reduced risk of any cancer by 15% (RR 0.85, 95% CI 0.76 to 0.94). By separate analysis, the risk reduction was slightly higher for tree nuts (20%) than peanuts (7%).

All-cause death

Fifteen cohorts (819,448 people) recorded 85,870 deaths. One serving of nuts a day was linked with a 22% reduced risk of death during study follow-up (RR 0.78, 95% CI 0.72 to 0.84).

Looking at specific causes of death, each serving of nuts a day was linked with reduced risk of respiratory deaths (0.48 (0.26–0.89); three studies) and diabetes deaths (RR 0.61, 0.43 to 0.88; four studies).

There was no link with deaths from neurodegenerative diseases, and inconsistent links with deaths from kidney disease and infectious diseases. No other disease-related causes were reported.

Overall, the researchers estimate that 4.4 million premature deaths in 2013 across America, Europe, Southeast Asia and Western Pacific could be attributable to nut intakes below 20 grams/day.

What did the researchers conclude?

The researchers conclude: “Higher nut intake is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer and all-cause mortality, and mortality from respiratory disease, diabetes, and infections.”

Conclusions

This systematic review finds evidence that nut intake may be linked with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and death.

The systematic review has several strengths. It identified a large number of studies with a large total sample size. It also included only prospective cohorts assessing nut consumption and then followed up later disease outcomes.

It excluded cross sectional studies, which assess diet and disease at the same time, and so can’t show the direction of effect. It also excluded cohorts that have retrospectively questioned diet when the person already has the disease, which could be subject to recall bias.

However, there are still a number of inherent limitations which mean these studies cannot easily prove that nuts are the magic dietary ingredient that are solely and directly responsible for these outcomes.

There were no randomised controlled trials of nut consumption. All studies were observational where people were choosing their own diet.

The researchers took care to include studies that only looked at nut consumption as an independent factor and looked at results that had adjusted for any confounders. However, the factors that the studies adjusted for, and how well they were assessed, will have varied across studies.

As such it’s very difficult to prove that nuts alone are the causative factor and they are not just one component of a generally healthier lifestyle pattern, including balanced diet, regular physical activity, not smoking, and moderating alcohol.

When it comes to frequency or quantity of intake, it is likely there is an element of inaccuracy when people report how much they eat. For example, most people wouldn’t weigh out how many nuts they’re eating each day.

The review also provides limited information about specific types of nuts. Considering peanuts in particular, the studies included in the review didn’t specify whether these are plain nuts, or whether they could have added salt and oils.

It is also likely that cardiovascular and cancer outcomes were not assessed the same way in all studies, for example whether by participant self-report or by checking medical records.

Overall there does seem to be a link between nut consumption and health, but nuts alone won’t reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease or cancers, if your lifestyle is still generally unhealthy.

If you want to live a long and healthy life then you should exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet high in fruit and vegetables and low in salt, sugar and saturated fats, while avoiding smoking and moderating your consumption of alcohol.

Nuts are high in “good fats” and can be eaten in moderation as part of a healthy diet. Unsalted nuts are best as excessive amounts of salt can raise your blood pressure.

Emotions high as Sligo Borough Council closes its books & is no more

Image result for Emotions high as Sligo Borough Council closes its books & is no more   Image result for Emotions high as Sligo Borough Council is no more

A chapter in Sligo’s proud history came to a close on May 6th 2014. Sligo Borough Council, which had been in existence for 400 years, was no more.

It was part of a move that summer whereby one county council would be in place after the local elections.

Sligo Champion reporter Michael Moran was there to capture the sombre mood in City Hall in what was a poignant day for the council and also a day to reflect on those who had played such a vital role down through the years and paving the future of Sligo. The Borough Council may be no more, but their stories will remain.

Michael revealed it was an historical and emotional day: “Four hundred years of Sligo Borough Council brought to an end in 77 minutes.

“City Hall had seen many momentous occasions over the Centuries. None ever like this.

“Freemen of the Borough, former Mayors and Councillors, past and present staff and invited guests were in the packed Council Chamber for the last ever meeting of the local authority.”

Members dealt with a number of issues on the Agenda before the final Mayor, Councillor Marcella McGarry, ruled that a number of deferred motions would remain so to allow Councillors have their say at the end of an era. “They did it with dignity, some sadness and sincerity,” Michael added.

Many expressed the hope that a Borough Council would return in the future.

Others reflected on the past. At the end and with the sound of a Piper echoing in the background, the Mayor concluded the meeting at 5.32pm. The Minute book was closed for the final time.

There was spontaneous applause as the concluding chapter was written.

Michael said: “The Chamber was then the scene for a celebration of the Borough Council.

Then, in an act to underline the sense of occasion, two symbols of Sligo Corporation,silver Maces presented in 1842 were handed by the Mayor to Council CEO Ciaran Hayes for exhibition in Sligo Museum. He then presented an inscribed souvenir to each serving Councillor.

“The curtain came down on the Borough Council with performances by representatives from Feis Shlighigh and Feis Ceoil.

“Earlier in the day, children from St Brendan’s NS, St John’s, Gael Scoil Chnoc na Re and St Edward’s were among the many visitors to City Hall to view the Sligo 400 Exhibition and view the Council Chamber.

Mayor Marcella McGarry said: “We reflect on 400 years of local history and pay tribute to the men and women who served this town; people who gave of their time and their toil for the community. They served with distinction over many generations.”

“”The presence among us of our Freemen and former Mayors and other distinguished guests bestows a palpable sense of occasion.

“It highlights the historical significance, the political importance and social and economic legacy of 400 years of Sligo Borough Council.”

Meanwhile, as the Borough Council was winding down, there were rumbles going on as what to do with the now-defunct Mayor’s chain. That summer saw Sligo host the All-Ireland Fleadh, with President Michael D Higgins being welcomed by the Mayor of Sligo Municipal District, Cllr Tom MacSharry. who was without a chain, as The Sligo Champion remarked.

“It was as formal an occasion you could have, the country’s President being welcomed to officially open the All Ireland Fleadh. Apparently Clr MacSharry can’t use the old mayoral chain, which had been in use by the now abolished Borough Council since 1882. It has now emerged that the outgoing Borough Council met in the mayor’s parlour prior to holding their last formal public gathering.

“At this private session the issue of what to do with the historic mayoral chain came up. Councillors voted that they would donate the chain along with the deputy’s mayor’s chain and ceremonial maces to the County Museum.

“The thinking behind the move was that the mayoral chain was presented to the Borough Council/Sligo Corporation in 1882 and as this body was being scrapped so too should the use of the chain. The situation leaves Clr MacSharry without a chain and he won’t have one unless a new one is commissioned. The other question, of course, is: does the present title deserve one?”

Antarctica glows blue as NASA AIM spacecraft observes early noctilucent cloud season

Over the Southern Hemisphere

Image result for Antarctica glows blue as NASA AIM spacecraft observes early noctilucent cloud season  Image result for Antarctica glows blue as NASA AIM spacecraft observes early noctilucent cloud season

Night shining clouds arrived early in the sky above Antarctica and are shining blue. The early arrival of the clouds has triggered suspicion that the warming of the Arctic region could be a reason. 

The sky above Antarctica glowing in electric blue has made big news after NASA updated about the arrival of noctilucent, or night-shining clouds, in the Southern Hemisphere.

In terms of looks, the luminescent clouds are looking wispy as in a blue-white aurora borealis when seen from the ground. The same looks like a blue gossamer haze when seen from space.

The data and images sent by NASA’s Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere spacecraft (AIM) above the Antarctic sky showed the sky as radiating bright with electric blue color.

What makes it special this year is their early arrival, stumping scientists who suspect it as yet another manifestation of the warming of Arctic region.

Some scientists hold the view that this corresponds to an earlier seasonal change at lower altitudes. NASA spokesperson Lina Tran explained that the clouds were seeded by fine debris from disintegrating meteors.

AIM spacecraft analysis?

Since its launch in 2007, AIM spacecraft has been monitoring the atmosphere. Data show that changes in one region of the atmosphere also affect another region in what is called as “atmospheric teleconnections”.

The spacecraft’s evolving orbit has come handy in measuring the atmospheric gravity waves that are contributing to these teleconnections.

“AIM studies noctilucent clouds in order to better understand the mesosphere, and its connections to other parts of the atmosphere, weather and climate. We observe them seasonally, during summer in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. This is when the mesosphere is most humid, with water vapor wafting up from lower altitudes,” NASA explained in a statement.

The early arrival of Noctilucent Clouds

As mentioned, the early start of blue shining clouds this year — from Nov. 17 instead of late November or early December — has baffled scientists. So there is more mystery in the early start of the shining clouds season in the Southern Hemisphere.

Considered the highest and coldest clouds of Earth, Noctilucent clouds are normally spotted around 50 miles above the Earth’s surface in the mesosphere region.

The blue shine happens when ice crystals formed from the interaction of water vapors with the dust, and micro-debris from meteors start reflecting when sunlight falls on them.

Methane Concentration

One pivotal explanation to the phenomenon was offered by James Russell, a principal investigator of AIM. He said growing methane content in the atmosphere could be responsible for the phenomenon as it allows more water vapor to be loaded into ice crystals leading to these clouds.

Gary Thomas, a professor at the University of Colorado, calls noctilucent clouds a relatively new phenomenon.

“They were first seen in 1885,’ about two years after the powerful eruption of Krakatoa in Indonesia, which hurled plumes of ash as high as 80 km into Earth’s atmosphere,” he said. But even after the ash dispersed, the clouds persisted.

The onset of night-shining clouds coinciding with the early arrival of summer in the Antarctica is a matter of concern for climatologists and NASA.

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