Friday 18th March 2016
Fine Gael now to offer Independents & a variety of other’s a five-year deal for a new government
Enda Kenny’s proposal includes major initiatives on housing and health issues
Enda Kenny is to offer Independents and smaller parties a five-year deal that will remain in force even if he leaves office, in a bid to win their support for a minority Fine Gael government.
A proposed programme for government may be put to a special Fine Gael conference to guarantee the party’s commitment to the deal.
Next week, Mr Kenny will seek the approval of his parliamentary party to continue negotiations with members of the Independent Alliance, the Green Party’s two TDs and several other Independents.
The proposed deal will pledge major initiatives to deal with housing and health issues, along with a range of measures to spread the economic recovery into rural areas.
Such an emphasis will help Fine Gael to “navigate the centre ground of Irish politics”, according to a high-level party source.
The manoeuvres reflect a growing confidence in Mr Kenny’s circle that Fine Gael can put forward a credible minority government option.
Fine Gael intends to focus on policy areas the party believes cost it support during the election campaign as it works to put together a five-year programme for government, with or without Fianna Fáil support.
Mr Kenny will put a short document before his TDs reaffirming the party’s election manifesto proposals while also emphasising how to link “our economic proposition with social justice and a fair society”.
TDs have made written submissions outlining the areas in which they felt Fine Gael was weak during the campaign.
The issue of Mr Kenny stepping down as Fine Gael leader has been raised in negotiations with Independents and smaller parties.
He has already said he will not lead Fine Gael into another election and the party has been asked if his successor would honour the terms of any agreement reached in the weeks ahead.
Sources said Mr Kenny was considering putting a programme for government before a special convention or ardfheis to effectively tie the party as a whole, rather than simply the current leadership, into any agreement.
Fine Gael is still open to negotiations with Fianna Fáil, either for a coalition administration or some framework for supporting a Fine Gael minority government.
While Fianna Fáil sources have suggested such a framework could be for a period of two years, Fine Gael wants a five-year programme.
It intends to work on such a programme with Independents and others, such as the Green Party, in the weeks ahead.
The programme could then be offered to Fianna Fáil to see if it wanted to sign up to it.
“You’d have to listen to their views and what the conditions of their support are,” a Fine Gael source said.
“We’d be extremely eager to have an arrangement with them that would support a minority government but the signals we’re hearing from there are still, ‘we just want Fine Gael out’.”
However, it is felt that even if Fianna Fáil does not formally support a Fine Gael minority government, Micheál Martin would find it hard to oppose a budget framed to appeal to the centre ground.
Such a budget would contain measures broadly similar to those proposed in the Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour Party manifestos..
Investigate level of doctors failing to meet CPD standards, says IMO
Padraig McGarry wants to determine level of non-compliance before sanctions considered
Padraig McGarry, (Left Pic) chairman of the Irish Medical Organisation’s GP Committee.
An investigation is required to determine the exact level of doctors failing to meet the professional competence requirements, according to Padraig McGarry, chairman of the Irish Medical Organisation’s GP Committee.
Doctors are obliged to complete 50 hours of Compulsory Professional Development courses every year which includes clinical meetings.
The chief executive of the Irish Medical Council Bill Brasifka told the Medical Independent 30 per cent of doctors are not meeting their CPD requirements.
But Mr McGarry said this figure was incorrect as it failed to take into consideration doctors working abroad, those on maternity leave or sick leave and includes locums who would not have the time to carry out the extra requirements.
“It would be an onerous task to do that on top of the 60 hours they work a week, and many cannot just do the CPD courses because of the stress,” explained Mr McGarry.
He called for an investigation into the exact levels of non-compliance before fines or other measures were considered.
Petrol price decline slows up, but no sharp rise expected
AA Ireland says rising oil prices being felt at forecourts, but oversupply issues persist
AA Ireland said the average price for a litre of petrol in Ireland is now 121.1 cent.
Rising oil prices are starting to have an impact at forecourts with a decline in the cost of fuel slowing considerably last month, according to AA Ireland.
However, the organisation said motorists are unlikely to see a big jump in the cost of fuel anytime soon as oversupply issues persist.
AA Ireland said the average price for a litre of petrol in Ireland is now 121.1 cent, down 0.9 per cent on February but still considerably lower than the 153.1 cents being charged two years ago. Diesel rose by 0.9 cents last month to an average of 106.3 cents.
AA Ireland said that while prices are rebounding, motorists are unlikely to notice a big difference in the coming months.
“The price of oil has come up off the floor in the last few weeks but the recovery is nothing to be excited about and the problems of oversupply are still there. That may cause all sorts of problems for oil producers and for some parts of the global economy but by and large it is good for us, and it is certainly good for motorists.” said director of consumer affairs Conor Faughnan.
Oil prices fell as low as $27 dollars per barrel on world markets around mid-January before recovering to a current level of about $40. Prior to this, prices had averaged over $100 until the start of 2014 when the cost spiralled downwards.
The fall in oil prices has been of great benefit to the public with the average motorist saving as much as €48 per month due to lower petrol prices.
Overall, the cost of petrol has fallen by 21 per cent in Ireland, compared to a 64 per cent decline in oil prices. Mr Faughnan said the high rate of excise duty on fuel here meant Irish motorists were not benefiting as much from price reductions as motorists in other jurisdictions.
Lager, ale or blonde? Where to start with craft beer in Ireland?
With so many available these days it can be difficult knowing what to try
Choosing a beer these days can be tricky. IPAs, imperial stouts, red ales, blondes and the list is endless. It’s a good thing, of course, with so many new Irish and international offerings. But it can be hard knowing what to try or where to begin.
All beers fall loosely into two categories: lagers and ales. Light lagers have been the dominant beer style over the last 50 years or so, while ales have seen a massive resurgence with the recent craft beer boom. What’s the difference between an ale and a lager? Yeast.
“Lager” means “to store”, and lager yeasts are active at lower temperatures which is why the style originated in cooler climates, such as Germany.
We all know the crisp, light and golden lager; however there are many variations and colours, depending on the malts used. The clean and sweet grainy flavour of the Munich helles (light), for example, comes from Pilsner malt.
The more characterful Bohemian Pils became the template for many mainstream lagers, the archetype being the Czech Pilsner Urquel or “original”.
Ales – which include wheat beers and stouts – use yeasts which ferment at slightly warmer temperatures. While ales have a long history in Ireland and England, the craft beer movement began with the rise of the American pale ale which showcased pungent US hops with citrus and grapefruit flavours – Sierra Nevada among the first.
Cork brewers Cotton Ball do a cracking pilsner called Mayfield 5 – the perfect lager for anyone looking for an intro to craft beer scene. For a tasty light blonde ale with a summery tropical fruit zing try Pass If You Can by Hope Beer. 33 Sticke Alt by Northbound Brewing is an easy drinker, malty with a hint of bitterness, and is a hybrid lagered ale – but that’s a whole other story.
Garda cut from a patrol car rammed during a Donegal pursuit
Black Fiat Punto (like below middle pic.) was being pursued after failing to stop for Gardaí in Donegal
Patrol car was rammed after a high speed pursuit in Co Donegal early on Friday.
A Garda had to be cut from his patrol car after it was rammed following a high-speed pursuit in Co Donegal early on Friday.
The collision happened at McGrory’s Brae, between Ballybofey and Donegal town, when a black Fiat Punto crashed into a garda car.
The Punto had been pursued after failing to stop for gardaí in Donegal.
It is unclear if a stinger-style device was deployed in a bid to stop the car. The garda inside the patrol car was cut free by fire crews and was taken toLetterkenny University Hospital for treatment for minor injuries.
The driver of the Punto remains in hospital and gardai are waiting to interview him.
A Garda spokesman said the Ombudsman attended the scene as a matter of routine but are not investigating the incident.
He said gardai were appealing for anyone who saw the Punto on theBarnesmore Gap early on Friday to contact Letterkenny Garda station at (091) 67100 or the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111.
What will a mission to Mars hope to discover?
An artist’s impression of the ExoMars 2016 mission, a collaboration between the European and Russian space agencies, shows the lander, Schiaparelli, separating from the orbiter.
The mission blasted off from Kazakhstan last week and the spacecraft is expected to arrive in October. It will study dust storms and gases like methane, a hot topic because it can be created in a process requiring heat and liquid water.
While countries in Europe have been slashing budgets, one area has not just escaped the ax but chalked up a stellar jump: space exploration.
The European Space Agency (ESA) has seen its budget expand 75 percent since 2008, unscathed by the region’s sovereign debt crisis.
The project, which draws contributions from individual member nations, has become a rare force of unity in a region that’s struggling with an unprecedented refugee crisis, a potential British exit from the European Union and an unresolved conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
“There is a political meaning and purpose to this mission: working together beyond national borders, beyond crises on Earth,” said Jan Woerner, the head of ESA and a German engineer who formerly headed his country’s space agency. “We use a Russian launcher, with American contribution and it’s a European mission.”
From a space center in Kazakhstan, ESA is sending into deep space an orbiter tasked with gathering critical scientific data. Attached is a spacecraft that will head to the Martian surface to test the ability of Europeans to safely land on the planet. Monday’s liftoff is the first of two launches that will see a rover on Mars by 2020, joining NASA’s Curiosity, which is already there.
The orbiter has several scientific tasks: one is to sniff out any trace of methane, the gas that could be a signpost of life; another is to map out precisely when the rover can try to land, starting in 2018. While an earlier spacecraft launched during ESA’s mission in 2003 called Mars Express is still mapping, photographing and making useful scientific measurements, the lander sent with it was never able to transmit data to ESA.
The budget of ESA, an agency backed by 22 European nations, has risen 75 percent since 2008 to $5.8 billion (though that’s less than a third of NASA’s $19 billion). The support shows that Europe wants to be a key actor in the arena.
ESA also has made space exploration missions like the ExoMars more palatable by providing returns on investment. For each member, 1 euro invested in ESA generates between 5 and 7 euros in collateral investments in industry and jobs, the agency said.