Monday 10th July 2017
Irish motorists fear they have been sold laundered fuel after the recent seizure in Wicklow
15,000 litres of laundered fuel was seized in Wicklow earlier this year.
One in 12 Irish motorists suspect that they have been sold laundered fuel in the past, according to recent survey carried out by AA Ireland.
The AA Motor Insurance survey, which was carried out in April, also found that 55% of those who suspect that they were sold laundered fuel also believed that their car was damaged as a result.
3,000 motorists responded to the survey, which was carried out in the wake of the seizure of 15,000 litres of laundered fuel in Wicklow earlier this year.
Motorists in Ulster were found to be far more suspicious about the possibility of being sold laundered fuel (30.48% of motorists in Cavan and 28.57% of motorists in Monaghan believed they had been sold laundered fuel), while at the other end of the scale, there was barely any suspicion amongst motorists in Waterford (1.72%) and Mayo (2.78%) that they may have been affected.
Conor Faughnan, Director of Consumer Affairs at the AA said: “We have seen a number of reports recently of seizures of laundered fuel and while there have been significant improvements made in tackling this issue the problem hasn’t been wiped out as of yet.”
“While fuel prices have been dropping in the past months, average prices for petrol and diesel are still approximately 7c higher per litre than August 2016. As a result of the higher prices motorists are keen to save anywhere they can and because of this may be tempted by a dealer offering fuel at unrealistically low prices.
“While it is important to shop around when it comes to purchasing petrol or diesel to ensure you make savings where you can, it’s also important to use common sense when it comes to prices. If the deal seems too good to be true then it’s very likely that the fuel you’re purchasing is not up to scratch.”
Laundered fuel has the potential to cause serious damage to a vehicle’s engine and Conor Faughnan had the following advice for anyone who suspects that they may have been sold it.
“If you suspect that you may have been sold laundered fuel then you should report it to the service station”, Faughnan added.
“The AA offer Fuel Assist, which will have the fuel drained and refilled with regulated fuel, and the contaminated fuel is then recycled.”
TÁNAISTE FITGERALD WELCOMES THE NEW TRADE DEAL WITH JAPAN
The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, Frances Fitzgerald along with Minister for Trade, Pat Breen today welcomed a new EU trade deal with Japan which they say will bring great benefits to Ireland.
Japan is the third largest economy in the world and is Ireland’s biggest trade partner in Asia after China and the largest source of FDI into Ireland from Asia.
There are more than 50 Japanese companies with a presence in Ireland across a wide range of industrial sectors and it is estimated that Japanese companies employ close to 3,900 people in Ireland.
Furthermore, Japan is one of Ireland’s top 10 goods export markets. Ireland’s goods trade with Japan is now valued at over €4 bn a year, up from €2.2 billion in 2005. In 2016, the value of goods exports from Ireland to Japan was €2.9 bn and the value of goods imports was €1.2 bn.
Ireland’s principal goods exports were Medical & Pharmaceutical Products while principal imports were Road Vehicles and Industrial Machinery.
Speaking today, Minister Pat Breen said, “Japan is the third largest economy in the world and this important trade agreement will open up exciting opportunities for Irish exporters and companies across a wide range of sectors, helping them to tap into Japan’s large market. Agri-food, which is Ireland’s largest indigenous industry, will see particular benefits from the agreement, with new access for dairy products in particular beef and chedder cheese industries.”
Workers taxes to pay for Irish elderly care among the recommendations by Citizens’ Assembly
The 70 members also called for a statutory footing on the care of older people accessing home care
A radical workers’ tax to pay for elderly care, the abolition of the mandatory retirement age, a minister for older people and full Government accountability, are just some of the recommendations the Citizens’ Assembly has voted for.
The 70 members also called for a statutory footing on the care of older people accessing home care and for a compulsory pension scheme to supplement the State pension.
The majority of the Assembly recommended a ‘compulsory social insurance payment or earmarked tax for all workers linked to ‘labour market participation’ – similar to PRSI, fund long-term/social care for older people,’
A total of 87% recommended that there should be an increase in public resources for the elderly and 99% called on the Government to “expedite the current commitment to place home care for older people on a statutory footing.” 87% recommended Government introduce a compulsory pension scheme to supplement the State pension.
On Sunday, Dr Micheal Collins, assistant professor of social policy at UCD, told the Assembly it was possible to introduce a Fair Deal type initiative top up pension scheme to “claw back” up to €200-a-week from elderly property owners with assets of around €200,000.
A further 86% voted against a mandatory retirement based on age – meaning an older person could work as long as possible and 87% recommended the Government backdate the Homemaker’s’ Scheme to 1973 – to allow those who’d spent years looking after children, the sick or disabled, in the home to claim a contributory pension.
The Assembly voted 100% that Government should “urgently prioritise and implement” existing policies and strategies on older people, including for example the National Positive Ageing Strategy published in 2013; the Carers’ Strategy, and the National Dementia Strategy.
Justin Moran, Head of Advocacy and Communications at Age Action, said: “When presented with the evidence and given the time to deliberate the citizens showed the overwhelming consensus for a fair State Pension system, the abolition of mandatory retirement and investment in homecare.
The votes came a day after members stated they were displeased the Government hadn’t implemented strategies and had instead left the issue with citizens to deal with. The recommendations, a combination of State and personal responsibility for the care, pensions, working life and retirement, of the elderly, will be brought to the Oireachtas for consideration.
The Assembly Chair Justice Mary Laffoy said: “I would hope that the Oireachtas pays close attention not just to the recommendations, but to the debate and the discussion that informed them. These deliberations were at times vigorous, at other times challenging but always interactive, inclusive and conducted in the spirit of collegiality.”
The Mandatory retirement age may be abolished?
The Citizens’ Assembly is to tell the Government to abolish mandatory retirement ages, eliminate the time gap between retirement and eligibility for the old age pension, and to link that pension to average earnings.
The recommendations follow a weekend of hearings at which the assembly discussed a wide range of issues to do with income, work, and pensions for older people.
Sixteen proposed recommendations were voted on and will form the basis for a detailed report to be sent to the Dáil and Seanad.
On the question of abolishing mandatory retirement ages, 86% of the assembly members present said this practice should be outlawed, while 96% said the anomaly whereby people who are forced to retire at 65 then cannot get the State pension until they are 66 or 67 should be removed.
A recommendation to seek the introduction of some form of mandatory pension scheme to supplement the state pension was backed by 87%, and 88% said the pension should be benchmarked to average earnings.
A large majority also voted to recommend the rationalisation of private pension schemes.
On general issues of care for older people, the majority voted to recommend the allocation of more resources, with the preference that funding be ringfenced and come from a compulsory social insurance payment.
They want that money spent primarily on improved home care services and supports, and want statutory regulation of the home care sector.
Assembly chairwoman Ms Justice Mary Laffoy said she aims to have the report written and ready for the Oireachtas by the end of September.
The recommendations were decided following presentations by experts in law, finance, social care, and human rights, but not all the ideas put forward made the final cut.
Earlier, the assembly heard from Micheal Collins, assistant professor of social policy at University College Dublin, who suggested a radical change in policy to end tax breaks for people who invest in private pensions.
He said State pensions were the most important source of income for retired people in Ireland, accounting for 53% of their income as compared to 32% from private and occupational pensions.
“The policy of supporting private pension provision through tax breaks is skewed towards those on higher incomes,” said Prof Collins.
“It is worth considering whether society should more efficiently use its resources to provide an improved basic living standard for all pensions, one well above the minimum income standard, and discontinue subsidising private pensions savings.”
Justin Moran of Age Action and Ita Mangan of Age and Opportunity argued strongly for the abolition of mandatory retirement ages, and UCD professor Liam Delaney warned that any move towards mandatory pension enrolment for workers should first examine the likely impact on wages, on administrative burdens for small businesses, and on other forms of financial provision that people made for their future such as investments. None of these impacts had “off-the-shelf answers”, he warned.
Gardaí in protective barrier around Sligo council staff carrying out works at car park
Gardaí with riot shields in Sligo stand-off at Travellers’ site
Gardaí armed with riot shields faced Travellers during a stand-off in a car park in Sligo town on Wednesday.
A number of young children chanted “we have rights” as up to 14 uniformed gardaí, some carrying riot shields, formed a protective barrier around Sligo county council staff who were carrying out works at the Connaughton road car park.
Throughout the operation, a Garda Armed Response Unit vehicle was parked outside the car park.
The car park was the scene of a confrontation two weeks ago when gardaí accompanied workers as they dismantled a fence and painted in parking spaces on behalf of the county council.
The car park has been home to the extended McGinley family for an estimated 30 years. Speculation is growing that the family will mount an “adverse possession” claim, also known as “squatters’ rights”, against the council over the property. The council says it has been working hard to find alternative accommodation for the family.
Sources close the McGinleys accused the council of being “heavy-handed” in its approach to the family in recent weeks, while the council has insisted the Garda presence was necessary to protect its staff. Council sources said it had always maintained this was a public car park and it had a duty to continue to ensure the public had access there.
In a statement, the council said Wednesday’s operation was to remove a tree which had been obstructing traffic signage and to restore a height control barrier which had been restored some time ago and typical of barriers at all public car parks.
The council said it was “maintaining contact with the McGinley family through their solicitor in relation to recent issues at the car park”.
Continuing to engage
A spokesman said the council was continuing to engage with the family with a view to finding a solution to their accommodation needs.
The family has turned down three sites suggested by the council, saying two of them had been rejected before as they were in commercial/industrial areas.
There were no arrests following the two-hour operation. A Garda spokesman said Gardaí were present “to prevent any breach of the peace”.
It is understood the family has sought the advice of senior counsel in relation to its claim for adverse possession. Sources pointed out the erection of the height control barrier means it will no longer be possible to move caravans in and out of the car park.
While the council said it was required to ensure protection for staff carrying out works on its behalf, sources close to the family have described the presence of members of the Garda Armed Response Unit and Gardaí in riot gear as “over the top”.
Sparkly Meteors and 7 more sky events you cannot miss in July
Gas giants take center stage among the best sky shows this month.
The Milky Way glows brightly as shooting stars streak across the sky during the peak of the 2016 Delta Aquarid meteor shower.
The Southern Delta Aquarid meteor shower promises to add some glitter to the night sky in July, with as many as 25 meteors per hour during its peak.
The night skies will also showcase two of the largest planets in the solar system this month, while early mornings offers superb views of Earth’s neighboring planet, Venus, as it pairs up with the moon and a star that marks a cosmic bull’s eye.
JUPITER AND MOON — JULY 1
Jupiter will form a trio with the moon and the star Spica on July 1.
Look for the waxing gibbous moon as it passes very close to the largest planet in the solar system, Jupiter, and the star Spica. The cosmic trio will form an eye-catching triangular formation, making for a dramatic display as they rise over the southeast horizon in the early evening.
VENUS PASSES PLEIADES — JULY 5
Early risers on July 5 can catch the “morning star” Venus passing near the star cluster Pleiades.
Very early morning, before any hint of daybreak, look for the bright “morning star” Venus in the east to guide you to the nearby Pleiades star cluster. The cosmic pair of planet and stars will be seven degrees apart—less than the width of your fist held at arm’s length. The 300 light-year distant stellar grouping is a staple of winter-evening stargazing, but now is an easy target for early risers with binoculars, thanks to Venus, the goddess of love, pointing the way.
SATURN AND MOON — JULY
Saturn made it closest pass to Earth less than a month ago and is still near enough to appear large when viewed through a backyard telescope in July.
After darkness falls, look southeast for the waxing gibbous moon pairing up with the ringed world Saturn. To the naked eye the gas giant looks like a bright yellow-tinged star; however, through even the smallest of backyard telescopes, it shows off its famous rings easily.
Having just made its closest pass to Earth less than a month ago, Saturn will still appear impressively big and bright through the eyepiece. A telescope will also easily reveal the Cassini Division, a large 3,000-mile-wide dark gap in the rings, and a few of Saturn’s largest moons floating nearby.
VENUS AND ALDEBARAN — JULY 14
Venus swings past the orange-colored star Aldebaran on July 14.
At dawn, the brightest celestial object visible rising in the east is the planet Venus. Commonly referred to as the “morning star,” the second planet from the sun is currently the brightest celestial object in the morning skies—other than the moon and sun.
Venus is even more eye-catching than usual this week as it makes a close swing past the orange-hued star Aldebaran. This giant star, which marks the eye of the mythical Taurus, the bull constellation, appears less than three degrees from Venus. This apparent proximity is only an optical illusion, however. While our sister planet is a mere 152 million kilometers (94.5 million miles) from Earth, Aldebaran is 65 light-years distant.
It’s interesting to note that the Pioneer 10 spacecraft, launched back in 1972, is currently 17.9 billion kilometers away and is making its way in the direction of Aldebaran. It should reach the star’s vicinity in about two million years.
VENUS AND MOON — JULY 20
A crescent moon joins Venus and Aldebaran in the night sky on July 20.
The brilliant second planet from the sun, Venus, has the waning crescent moon as a companion in the dawn skies today. The cosmic duo should make for a stunning photo opportunity near the horizon.
VENUS AND CRAB NEBULA — JULY 26
On July 26, Venus will pass very close to the brightest supernova remnant in our skies, the Crab Nebula.
Venus passes just south of the brightest supernova remnant in our skies, the Crab Nebula (Messier 1) located 6,300 light-years away. The odd celestial pair will be separated by no more than one degree—equal to the width of two lunar disks side by side. You can spot this expanding cloud of debris left behind by an exploding star using binoculars under dark countryside skies—though it will be a challenge—or with a backyard telescope in suburban skies.
JUPITER AND MOON (ACT II) — JULY 28
For a second time this month, Earth’s moon glides by Jupiter in the evening sky. So if you missed it on July 1, this is your chance.
METEORS SPRINKLE — JULY 30
Keep an eye out for shooting stars from the Southern Delta Aquarid meteor shower peaking in the early hours before dawn. With its famed cousin, the Perseid meteor shower, potentially being washed out by the moon in mid-August, this shower may actually be a better bet for sky-watchers.
With the first quarter moon setting soon after local midnight, this sky show should peak in the early mornings under ideal dark skies. The first Aquarid meteors will actually begin flying as early as July 20 and will continue to ramp up in activity, reaching about 25 meteors per hour on July 30. Sporadic meteors from the Aquarid stream will continue until it trickles out in August by mid-month.
Individual meteors from this shower can be traced back to their radiant, which is their namesake constellation Aquarius, the water bearer, seen very low in the southern skies across mid-northern latitudes. The best views will be for meteor watchers located near the equator and in the Southern Hemisphere.