Tag Archives: Drink driving

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Saturday 12th December 2015

Councillors involved in RTÉ sting programme leave local authority body

Cllr John O’Donnell’s membership of LAMA terminated after he refused to resign.


Cllr John O’Donnell from Donegal filmed in a meeting with an undercover RTÉ reporter. Mr O’Donnell ’s membership of the LAMA has been ‘terminated with immediate effect,’ after he refused to resign. 

Two of the councillors who featured in the RTÉ Investigates programme on Monday night have resigned from Local Authority Members Association (LAMA), the councillors’ representative body.

The membership of a third councillor who featured in the programme, Cllr John O’Donnell, has been “terminated with immediate effect,” after he refused to resign, an emergency meeting of LAMA held in Tralee on Saturday has been told.

The Independent politician appeared in an RTÉ Investigates programme earlier this week which alleged he had asked for payment in return for helping a fictitious wind farm company to set up in Donegal.

Each county council is represented on the LAMA and 28 of the 31 members attended this morning’s meeting at the county council building in Tralee.

The meeting was called at short notice “in light of recent revelations into the standards of public office RTE Investigates programme,” it said in a statement issued after the meeting.

“The executive of LAMA are shattered and saddened by these revelations as we believe all of our members are throughout the country,” LAMA general secretary former Mayor of Kerry, Cllr Bobby O’Connell, ( FG) who is currently mayor of Killarney, said on behalf of the body.

“The LAMA executive, at its emergency meeting on Saturday December 12th has received resignations from Cllr Hugh McElvaney, Monaghan County Counciland from Cllr Joe Queenan, Sligo County Council.

“These resignations have been accepted by the executive, unanimously. Cllr McElvaney who represents his county council on LAMA and had been an ex officio member of the board of LAMA attended the meeting in Tralee and tendered his resignation.

“Cllr John O’Donnell, Donegal county council, has indicated he will not resign his membership from LAMA. The executive decided at its meeting on December 12th to terminate Cllr John O’Donnell membership with immediate effect,” according to the statement issued after the meeting.

“LAMA remains committed and determined to represent and promote the highest standards which is expected and shared by our members,” Cllr. Mags Murray Chairperson LAMA said.

On Friday a special meeting of Donegal County Council passed a motion calling for the resignation of Mr O’Donnell.

Despite being filmed asking for a payment to be made to a third party, Mr O’Donnell (34) claims he was “entrapped” by the national broadcaster.

He said his only interest when meeting the company was to secure investment and jobs for Donegal.

A large group of protesters with posters calling for Cllr O’Donnell’s resignation gathered in the council chamber for the meeting, which lasted almost three hours.

Commemorative €2 coin to mark the centenary of Easter Rising

The 1916 centenary coin will be released into circulation by the Central Bank in January


A commemorative €2 coin to mark the centenary of the 1916 Rising is to go into circulation in the New Year, the Central Bank has announced.

The coin features a depiction of the statue of Hibernia, the historic personification of Ireland, on the roof of the General Post Office (GPO) in Dublin.

The designer of the coin, Emmet Mullins, said the statue of Hibernia “witnessed the events of 1916 and watched the growth of a nation since the Rising”.

This will be the first time that Ireland has issued its own commemorative €2 coin.

Previous commemorative €2 coins issued by Ireland were part of a European Union initiative.

This €2 coin will be available to purchase in a proof set, and an annual mint set, in January.

The Central Bank announced news of the new €2 coin on its official Twitter account. It said €4.5m worth of the coins will be released into circulation in January.

It added that it will also release silver and gold proof commemorative coins to mark the 100th anniversary of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

New hard-hitting one pint drink driving campaign highlights the dangers of sinking the one


New hard-hitting drink drive campaign highlights the dangers of ‘sinking’ one pint

A new hard-hitting drink-drive campaign has highlighted the dangers of having just the one drink before getting in a car.

The television advert shows a young man on a night out with his mates having “just the one” while they all enjoy themselves.

Then, as he is making his way home, a moment of lapsed concentration leads to tragedy.

The new campaign, aimed at 18-24-year-old men, reinforces the message to never drink and drive.

Launching the campaign, Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan said that in the past 15 years there had been 2,000 deaths and serious injuries caused by drink driving.

“That’s 2,000 devastated families,” he said.

“This new road safety campaign reinforces the need for motorists to ‘Never Ever Drink and Drive’.

“It stresses the impairing effects of alcohol on driving, even from the first drink. The message is designed to increase further the unacceptability of driving even after one drink, especially for younger males.”

The two-and-a-half-minute advert will also be shown on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Last year there were 16 deaths and 62 seriously injured casualties due to drink/drug related driving. This means that last year alone, alcohol and/or drugs accounted for over 20% of all road deaths.

Research has shown impairment begins well below the current drink drive limit of 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

The skills most critical for driving – the brain’s ability to observe, interpret and process information from the eyes and other senses – are impaired by alcohol even at the lowest levels.

The new campaign spells out the legal consequences of being caught drink driving from imprisonment, to losing your licence and having to re-take your test. It also tells the story of ordinary young men enjoying a night out and have their lives destroyed due to a delayed reaction.

Mr Durkan added: “PSNI statistics show that 17-24 year old males are most at risk of causing death and serious injury by drink and driving, either to themselves and other innocent road user. Our campaign is heavily targeted towards them with intense use of social media.

“All drivers though who buy and consume a pint or any other alcoholic drink should realise it could be the most expensive one they ever had, ultimately costing them or other road users their lives.”

The SDLP minister continued: “The tragedy of these deaths and injuries is sorely felt not only by the bereaved families but by friends, colleagues and the wider community.

“This is a tragedy that could be avoided by taking the simple decision not to drive after having a drink.

“As road users and drivers we all make choices and we all have influence.

“This is as critical a message all year round but particularly at Christmas. People need to realise you can’t take chances by having one beer, a glass of wine in a bar, or a shot of vodka at a party and then getting behind the steering wheel.

“If you are with a driver who is drinking alcohol, persuade them to take a taxi home or get a lift from someone who isn’t drinking. Don’t put your own life at risk.”

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd added: “As this new advertisement illustrates, there is no safe limit, so never drink and drive.

“Nobody should ever find themselves ever asking the question, I wonder if I’m ok to drive? Or trying to calculate if they are under the drink drive limit, be it after one drink, or the morning after a night out.

“Do not take the risk. The consequences, as police officers and our emergency service colleagues witness first hand, can be catastrophic.

“As I said when we launched our winter anti-drink drive operation a fortnight ago, I want all motorists to think about the consequences to yourself and your family of being involved in a serious collision.

“How would you feel if your actions resulted in you or one of your family being paralysed? How would you feel if some innocent person was killed? Consider too the impact of losing your driving license and gaining a criminal conviction. Would you also lose your job? Your home?

“I do not want police officers knocking on doors at any time of the year, but especially over Christmas and the New Year, to tell families that a loved one has been killed on the roads. If everyone slowed down, did not drive after drinking or taking drugs, wore a seatbelt and drove with greater care and attention then together we can reduce this preventable carnage on our roads.”

The new advert will be shown on TV for the first time on the X Factor at 9.40pm on Sunday just before the winner of the talent show is announced.

Pear eaters are less likely to be obese


The old saying goes, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but a different fruit may provide the same, if not more, benefits: the pear, the Medical Daily has reported.
Research has shown eating just one can fills us with high levels of vitamin C and fiber at just under 100 calories.
Eating a pear or drinking its juice may also help stave off a hangover and reduce risk of stroke.
Now, a study from Louisiana State University has found people who eat pears are less likely to be obese.
The study, published in Nutrition and Food Science, revealed people who ate pears had a lower body weight and were 35 percent less likely to be obese than their pear-abstaining counterparts.
The researchers also investigated the effects eating fresh pears had on nutrient intake, diet quality, cardiovascular risk factors.

Using nine years of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which involved 24,808 participants aged 19 and up, the researchers found on top of lower body weight and less obesity risk, pear consumers were generally older, consumed less alcohol, and smoked fewer cigarettes than those who didn’t eat pears.
Pear eaters also had a higher quality diet, characterized by higher levels of fiber and overall vitamins, and less fat and added sugar.
This was despite both pear eaters and non-eaters consuming the same amount of calories.

To determine what specifically the pear eaters were doing to maintain a healthy diet, the researchers looked at the Healthy Eating Index, “a measure of diet quality that assesses conformance to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans,” according to the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.
They found pear eaters consumed more whole fruits and grains, and plant and seafood-based proteins, while limiting their sodium and empty calorie intake.

“The association between pears and lower body weight is very exciting,” lead author Dr.
Carol O’Neil, of the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, said in a press release.
“We believe fiber intake may have driven the lower body weights that were seen in this study because there was no difference in energy intake or level of physical activity found between the fresh pear consumers and non-consumers.

Fiber is important to our daily diets for a number of reasons – it helps with digestion and keeps us feeling fuller longer.
This in turn helps to stave off food cravings, which helps with weight loss.
Studies have also shown fiber may help reduce risk of heart disease, type 2-diabetes, and cancer.
Aside from pears, fiber can be found in raspberries, lentils, artichokes, and various whole grains.
Mixing up the types of fibrous foods you eat will be best for your health.
Despite the benefits, the researchers found only 2 percent of Americans ate a single, medium-sized pear – this alone accounts for half of the recommended daily fruit intake, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
In concluding their study, the researchers wrote “consumption of fresh pears should be encouraged as part of an overall healthy diet, since pears are nutrient-dense and can help individuals meet the fruit recommendation.

Paris climate change deal “As ministers adopt a historic agreement”

To keep global warming “well below” 2C


A standing ovation as 195 countries adopt historic deal to keep global warming “well below” 2C and “signal the end of fossil fuels”

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The world last night agreed the first universal, legally binding deal to tackle global warming, in a move that David Cameron said marked “a huge step forward in helping to secure the future of our planet”. The deal, agreed at UN talks in Paris, commits countries to try to keep global temperature rises “well below” 2C, the level that is likely to herald the worst effects of climate change.

It also commits them to “pursue efforts” to limit warming to 1.5C – a highly ambitious goal that could require the UK to take even more radical action than under its existing Climate Change Act.

Amber Rudd, the Energy Secretary, admitted that the world did not “have the answers yet” as to how it would meet the long-term goals of the Paris deal, which would require carbon to be extracted from the atmosphere by the second half of this century.

President François Hollande, the summit host, last night welcomed “the most beautiful and peaceful revolution” and said the deal was a “major leap for mankind”.

The Prime Minister said: “Britain is already leading the way in work to cut emissions and help less developed countries cut theirs and this global deal now means that the whole world has signed to play its part in halting climate change.” Last night’s deal requires countries to set increasingly ambitious targets for cutting their national emissions and to report on their progress – but, crucially, leaves the actual targets, which are not legally binding, for countries to decide for themselves.

Paris climate change deal: Moment agreement announced  Photo: COP21, Paris, Host Broadcaster

The deal also requires developed nations to continue to provide funding to help poorer countries cut their carbon emissions and adapt to the effects of climate change – but does not set a legally binding level of money.

An accompanying, non-binding agreement requires developed countries to continue a goal of “mobilising” $100 billion (£65.9 billion) of public and private finance for developing countries each year after 2020.

It also calls on them to pledge a higher sum by 2025 – potentially pressuring the UK to increase its contribution beyond the £5.8 billion it has pledged over the next five years.

The UK’s Climate Change Act already legally commits it to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050. This – and interim targets set by the Government’s official advisers, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) – are designed to be compatible with a goal of no more than 2C warming, and it is estimated will require £10 billion a year in green energy subsidies by 2030.

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Thursday 26th November 2015

Full statement issued on behalf of Pat Smith – former IFA general secretary

‘He has no intention of lowering himself and getting into a brawl with an organisation’


Pat Smith is extremely saddened at the events of the past week, which has left many families hurt, especially the family of IFA where he spent over 25 years working.

Mr Smith said that Eddie Downey’s resignation as president of the IFA is a huge loss for Irish farmers and should not have been allowed happen.

Eddie, Mary and his family are reflective of all that is good in farming and Pat Smith wants to wish them well and assure IFA members that if Eddie Downeywas let do his job as president the IFA would not be in this turmoil.

Mr Smith said his solicitors wrote to the executive council of IFA on Wednesday and he was very disappointed that those who so badly want transparency did not make members aware of the contents. A copy is now enclosed.

Less than 24 hours after standing down from the position of IFA general secretary, to allow the association the opportunity to move on with the real work agenda, bad decisions were made that were catastrophic for the association.

  • Ex-IFA chief wants half of his severance pay to go to charity
  • Ex IFA chief’s pay package ‘obscene’ , says leading ICA member
  • IFA president Downey quits after €2m deal disclosure

Running an organisation such as IFA is a very complex and demanding job, and Pat Smith is very proud of his contribution to building IFA into one of the most effective and powerful organisations in Europe.

As he left IFA last week, the association had its highest paid-up membership ever and every committee was working hard and delivering real results on the issues of the day.

The large severance package?

The severance package agreed with Pat Smith represented approximately 6-weeks’ redundancy pay for each year worked for the association and fulfilled on legal commitments he and other staff have in relation to pension shortfalls following the closure of the defined benefit scheme.

Pat Smith believes the deal done was fair in the context of his work and delivery for the association for more than 25 years and the reality of what happened.

However, he has no intention of lowering himself and getting into a brawl with an organisation that is currently in turmoil and incapable of dealing with any matter fairly.

Therefore Pat Smith is asking that IFA stand good to its deal and pay his €1 million severance to charity before Christmas in equal amounts to Self Help Africa and StVincent de Paul.

Again Pat Smith wants to especially thank the staff of IFA and ask that the membership row in behind the association and support its vital work.

You have no plan and you have no clue  “on stressed out nurses”

Heated scenes between Tanaiste and Mary Lou McDonald and Joan Burton Dail


The TÁNAISTE Joan Burton has been accused of having “some cheek” after calling on hospital management and nurses to engage in constructive dialogue to prevent industrial action.

During heated scenes in the Dáil, Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald said that nurses were “stressed out” managing the “utter chaos” in the health system.

She noted that 92% of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation’s members have voted in favour of strike action month due to overcrowding in emergency departments.

“Leo Varadkar is presiding over a disaster that is putting the safety and, God forbid, the lives of patients at risk,” Ms McDonald said.

“The crisis in our health service is getting worse. This is not a dispute about pay, it’s a dispute about patient safety.

“Nursing staffing levels have been decimated on your watch,” she said.

However, Ms Burton said she wanted all sides to engage with the State’s industrial relations machinery.

Within the ED departments it does require widespread and construction positive action from the hospital managers, consultants and nurses,” the Labour Party leader said.

Ms McDonald replied that the Tánaiste have the gall of the highest order to appeal to these people to be constructive”.

“They are managing day on day the chaos your Government have inflicted on hospitals,” she said.

The Leaders’ Questions debate descended into a shouting match as the Ms Burton said a taskforce set up by Health Minister Leo Varadkar which the HSE and nursing union sit on was making progress.

She also said that he urgent assessment units were one solution that hospitals should be looking at.

And she said that there are 700 more nurses working in public hospitals than there were a year ago.

“We have some of the best staff working in our hospitals in the world. You hardly want to see nurses going on strike,” Ms Burton said.

“As recently as a couple of days ago we had a report from the OECD that indicated we have one of the highest ratios of nursing employment in all of the OCED countries.”

Ms McDonald said there are 4,500 less nurses than five years ago and the moratorium on recruitment “has absolutely buckled our hospitals”.

She also referred to the Government’s decision to drop its plans for Universal Health Insurance, saying: “Your Teflon minister for health Leo Varadkar has abandoned your big idea. You have no plan and you have no clue.”

Ireland’s Xmas drink-drive campaign to target ‘morning-after’ offenders

Garda to pay particular attention to drivers using bus lanes and mobile phones illegally


The number of roadside checkpoints testing for alcohol is to be increased for the next six weeks and the Garda will pay particular attention to drivers using bus lanes and mobile phones. Those stopped for either offence are likely to find themselves breath-tested.

The seasonal anti-drink drive campaign this year is to target so-called morning-after drivers.

The number and frequency of roadside checkpoints testing for alcohol is to be increased for the next six weeks and the Garda will also be paying particular attention to drivers using bus lanes and mobile phones illegally.

Those stopped for either offence are likely to find themselves breath-tested as well.

Road Safety Authority Christmas campaign.

Announcing the Christmas/New Year campaign on Thursday, the Garda andRoad Safety Authority disclosed that this year, to the end of October, 6,000 drivers had been arrested on suspicion of drink-driving – the vast majority of them males, and more than half of them aged between 20 and 39.

“The powers of An Garda Síochána enable us to breath test any driver who has committed a road traffic offence,” said Chief Supt Mark Curran at the launch of the campaign on Thursday.

“So, for example, if you are detected driving in a bus lane, or using a mobile phone, you can be tested for the presence of alcohol.”

Impaired performance.

Irish and international research has shown that using a mobile phone while driving can impair driver performance even more than driving while intoxicated, and also delay driver reaction times by up to 40 per cent.

In the past 12 months, 284,000 drivers admitted to drink-driving, according to an RSA survey. Arrest rates ran at a rate of 150 a week. Of the 284,000, 10 per cent admitted to drink driving on at least one separate occasion.

Forty per cent admitted consuming two or more drinks. Rates of offending were higher among those who drove to work and among drivers involved in collisions or near misses. In general, such drivers were also likely “to be high speeding and rule violators”, said the Garda and RSA.

Mandatory tests

The number of mandatory alcohol test checkpoints are to be increased, Mr Curran warned.

The chief executive of the RSA, Moyagh Murdock, said any quantity of alcohol impaired driving.

“This is not an opinion,” she said. “It is a scientific fact. So if you are heading to an office party or socialising over the Christmas and New Year period, make sure you plan ahead. Leave the keys at home and book a taxi, hackney, use public transport or designate a driver.”

This year to November 25th, 143 people were killed in road crashes, many of them relating to drink. The figure is 32 down on the same period in 2014.

Irish children are regularly exposed to alcohol ads,

A new study finds.

Significant exposure to drink marketing increases likelihood children will binge drink


On foot of the research, Alcohol Action Ireland is calling for legislation to regulate the sector.

The majority of Irish children are regularly exposed to alcohol advertising and marketing by drinks companies, a new study has found.

Alcohol Action Ireland (AAI), which commissioned the research conducted by the Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway, says the results show alcohol marketing to be a “child protection issue”.

Significant exposure to material, it said, increases the likelihood that children will drink, binge drink and engage in risky behaviour.

On foot of the research, the lobby is calling for legislation to regulate the sector.

The study, Alcohol Marketing and Young People: Drinking Behaviour in Ireland, is based on data collected from 686 children, aged 13-17, in 16 schools in three regions with the aid of a questionnaire.

It found 90 per cent were exposed to “traditional” or off-line advertising in the week prior to the study, with more than half of those surveyed citing four or more such advertisements a day.

It found 77 per cent reported online exposure and 61 per cent owned alcohol-branded merchandise.

More than half of Irish children (53.5 per cent) between the ages of 13 and 15 had previously consumed alcohol, it said.

Cannabis (Skunk) can seriously damage some of the vital nerve fibres in the brain


Smoking skunk can significantly damage the vital nerve fibres which allow communication between the two halves of the brain, a study has found.

Evidence found higher consumption of powerful kinds of cannabis caused more harm to fibres in the “corpus callosum” – the structure that allows communication between the brain’s left and right hemispheres.

But what effect it might have on users, and whether there is any connection with psychosis – known to be associated with strong forms of the drug – is still unclear.

Skunk weed is believed to be the most widely used form of cannabis in the UK today.

Potent cannabis strains, commonly known as skunk, are thought to be the most widely used form in the UK today. They contain high levels of the active ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which, when in contact with proteins in the corpus callosum, trigger biochemical effects.

Two scanning techniques were used to look at “white matter” – the part of the brain made up of neural fibres which nerve signals travel along – in the brains of 43 healthy volunteers and 56 patients who had reported an episode of psychosis, which is a serious mental condition characterised by hallucinations and delusions that lead to a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Researchers say there is an urgent need for better education on the risks of cannabis use.

Lead researcher Dr Paola Dazzan, from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, said: “We found that frequent use of high potency cannabis significantly affects the structure of white matter fibres in the brain, whether you have psychosis or not.

“This reflects a sliding scale where the more cannabis you smoke and the higher the potency, the worse the damage will be.”

She also said there was an “urgent need” to educate health professionals, the public and policymakers about the risks associated with cannabis use.

Mayo gathers for all out action on climate change


Irish schools, community groups, churches, businesses and members of the public are coming together to ask the government to represent us at a UN conference in Paris by coming to an agreement to take definite action on climate change.

The call has gone out to world leaders to create a low carbon, just and sustainable future for all.

Two events have been organised in Mayo as part of the Global Climate March (www.globalclimatemarch.org).

The first climate gathering takes place in Belmullet tomorrow (Friday, November 27) at 2.30 p.m. on Shore Road. Participants will line the shore, beginning at the pier, and send a message from Belmullet to Paris to protect our future.

For more information, contact Belmullet Tidy Towns on  (097) 20977, baileslachtmhar@gmail.com, and/or join Belmullet Climate Gathering on Facebook.

Then on Sunday, November 29, at 12.45 p.m., on The Mall, Westport, meeting outside St. Mary’s Church, the Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland and the general public will walk hand in hand around the Mall to symbolise our wish to work together to protect our town and our future and to call on the government to join in and take action on climate change.

For Sunday’s event, contact your local church or Laura Dixon on  (087) 9767019, ldixon@eeu.antaisce.org, and/or join Westport Climate Gathering on Facebook.

A picture and video will be taken of the gathering and sent to local, national and international media with the message: Tógaimis todhchaí níos fearr le chéile, Let’s Protect our Future and Stop Climate Change.

News Ireland daily BLOG

Wednesday 10th December 2014

Ray MacSharry seeks Ansbacher dossier from PAC


Ray MacSharry is one of five former politicians named in the Dáil by Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald as having been in a dossier of alleged offshore account holders. All five have rejected the claims.

Former Fianna Fáil finance minister Ray MacSharry’s lawyers have written to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) seeking the so-called Ansbacher dossier in which he is named.

Mr MacSharry is one of five former politicians named in the Dáil by Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald as having been in a dossier of alleged offshore account holders. All five have rejected the claims.

Contacted by The Irish Times this morning, Mr MacSharry said: “My lawyers are dealing with matters”.

The law firm Arthur Cox, acting for Mr MacSharry, has written to the PAC requesting access to papers given to individual members of the committee.

However, it is understood that the Ansbacher dossier is not considered to be a committee document and therefore the committee is expected to respond that it is not in a position to hand over the dossier.

Mr MacSharry previously described the allegations as “absolutely outrageous” and last week said: “I have never had an Ansbacher account, I never was the beneficiary of one.”

He said he would be consulting his legal representatives to see what recourse he has, both against Gerry Ryan, the whistleblower who submitted the dossier about tax evasion to the Dáil Committee on Public Accounts, and Ms McDonald.

Ms McDonald last Wednesday also named under privilege on the Dáil record former PD leader Des O’Malley, former Fianna Fáil politicians Máire Geoghegan-Quinn and Gerard Collins, an ‘S Barrett’, assumed to be former Fianna Fáil TD Sylvie Barrett, and former Fine Gael minister Richie Ryan.

Mr MacSharry’s tough persona while overseeing public spending cuts while Charles Haughey’s minister for finance in the late 1980s earned Ray MacSharry the title “Mack the Knife”.

He became an MEP in 1984, before returning as a TD and minister for finance in 1987 in another Haughey-led government and he was appointed Ireland’s European commissioner in 1988.

Donegal people are most likely to die at home says IHF


A new report commissioned by the Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) has found that the chances of dying at home or in hospital are dictated by where you live in Ireland, with those in Donegal nearly twice as likely to die at home than those living in Dublin.

Launched last week (December 4) by Senator Prof John Crown, the report — ‘Enabling More People to Die at Home; Making the Case for Quality Indicators as Drivers for Change on Place of Care and Place of Death in Ireland’ — sets out the case for key quality indicators on place of care and death, and calls for health policy to focus on providing more care in the home and in communities.

Supported by a paper written by social and economic research consultant Dr Kieran McKeown, the report draws on data published by the CSO that shows people living in Donegal are more likely to die at home (34 per cent), followed by Kilkenny and Kerry (33 per cent), Mayo (32 per cent), and Leitrim and Wexford (31 per cent).

Despite findings of a recent national survey showing that 74 per cent of Irish people want to die at home, only 18 per cent of people in Dublin do so, followed next by Sligo (26 per cent), and Roscommon and Galway (26 per cent — the national average).

The report finds that areas with no hospice that deliver specialist palliative care services through home care teams — including the South East, the Midlands and the North East — have a higher proportion of deaths in the usual place of residence (home or long-stay places of care) compared to areas with a hospice.

Irish Hospice Foundation CEO Sharon Foley said that quality indicators on place of care and death would show how well the health services were meeting the deepest wishes of people approaching the end of life. “It may be that those areas without hospices have better developed homecare teams. Other reasons may be at play, such as urban/rural differences in allocation of community supports. But we need to find out.”

She added: “The IHF believes that enabling people to fulfil their wish to die at home is not just a matter of effective health services and flexible, responsive, people-centred systems.

“It is fundamental to the very basis of humanity in an evolved society. Allowing choice and dignity in end-of-life care, and in the experience of dying, is a strong indication of how we care for Irish society as a whole.”

Regional airports get €2M funding boost for core services 


The approved funding brings the total financial support by the Exchequer under the Regional Airports Programme to just under €13 million in 2014

More than €2 million in funding is to be given to regional airports to compensate them for costs incurred in providing core services that cannot be fully recovered.

The approved funding brings the total financial support by the Exchequer under the Regional Airports Programme to just under €13 million in 2014.

Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe said the funding is to cover so-called “subventible losses,” that is costs for services that can’t be recovered from non-core income coming from activities such as restaurants, bars and parking.

Under the Regional Airports Programme, which is due to end this year, financial support has been provided to Kerry, Knock,Waterford and Donegal airports under three main schemes, including the Public Service Obligation Scheme, which provides funding to airlines to operate essential services.

Earlier this month, Mr Donohoe confirmed that regional air services from Donegal and Kerry to Dublin would continue to be subsided under the PSO scheme. Stobart Air, the former Aer Arran, was awarded the contracts to operate the two routes until 2017. It currently runs the Kerry to Dublin-subsidised service while Loganair operates the Donegal route.

The Regional Airports Programme is due to end this year and the Government has submitted a new proposal for a replacement scheme to the EU commission for consideration.

‘The Government’s aim is to give regional airports the opportunity beyond 2014 to grow to a viable, self-sustaining position, particularly considering the contribution that they make to their regional and local economy. As a result, Exchequer support for the four regional airports will be continued beyond 2014,” said Mr Donohoe.

“The decision to continue providing these necessary supports will facilitate the airports in developing and implementing new business plans leading to self-sufficiency within a ten year period. Central to these will be the need for regional and local business investment,” he added.

Irish Men at Risk of Ill Health Because of Diet, Claims Study


Men often have a preference for larger portions, according to the study

A new report launched by safefood has found that Irish men’s food behaviour puts them at a disadvantage health-wise compared with women.

The safefood report, Men’s Food Behaviour, gives an overview of research on men and food behaviour across the island of Ireland and illustrates the need to help change how men interact with food.

The report highlights that men are generally less engaged with food both in terms of food hygiene and healthy eating. It also finds men have less healthy diets, eat more fat and salt, less fruit and vegetables, and tend to see food as fuel.

Men also show greater preference for larger portions of food, are less likely to be aware of healthy eating guidelines and are less likely to regard healthy eating as an important factor influencing their long-term health. And although more men than women are overweight or obese in Ireland, they are less likely to attempt to lose weight or to monitor their diet.

At present, 70% of Irish men are overweight or obese, compared with 50% of women.

Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director, Human Health and Nutrition, safefood said: “When it comes to food skills such as planning, purchasing, shopping, cooking and cleaning, women are more likely to be skilled in this area and still do most of this work. This report identifies how men view themselves and their relationship with food and is of importance for men’s health given their levels of overweight and obesity.”

Report places Ireland 25th in Europe for drink-driving related deaths


Ireland has come in 25th place in Europe for drink-driving related deaths.

One in ten fatal car crashes globally are caused by alcohol, with men more likely than women to drink drive, according to a new report by Allianz.

When it comes to Europe, alcohol-related fatalities are highest in eastern countries, while Italy has the lowest number.

In most countries men are twice as likely to be killed in drink-driving crashes as women and Ireland is no exception.

Almost 20% of fatal accidents involving men are down to alcohol consumption while the figure for women is just 8%.

Fathering offspring is more than just a race to the egg


The chance of a male fathering offspring may not be a simple race to the egg, but is influenced by the length of the male’s sperm, say scientists from the University of Sheffield.

Using a captive population of zebra finches, the researchers carried out sperm competition experiments between pairs of males, where one male consistently produced long sperm and the other male always produced short sperm. These experiments showed that more long sperm reached and fertilised the eggs compared to short sperm. The long sperm advantage was evident even when the short sperm males mated with the females first, and were effectively given a ‘head start’.

The findings demonstrate that in birds, in a competitive scenario, the fertilisation success of a male can be influenced by the length of his sperm. The results also suggest that the final outcome of sperm competition may be partly dependent on the female bird.

Dr Clair Bennison from the University’s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, said: “We know that in the zebra finch, long sperm swim faster than short sperm, so we might expect longer, faster swimming sperm to simply reach the egg first. However, this reasoning does not explain why long sperm outcompete short sperm in our study. Long sperm win at sperm competition, by fertilising more eggs, even when short sperm are given a head-start.”

Scientists at the University allowed each pair of male zebra finches to mate with a female bird so that the long and short sperm from the males could compete to fertilise the female’s eggs. Female birds store sperm inside their bodies for many days, and this is one way that the females themselves could influence the fertilisation success of the males. It is possible that long sperm are better at reaching and and staying inside these storage areas than short sperm. Long sperm may even be ‘preferred’ by the female, by some unknown process.

Dr Bennison, added: “Our findings are important because they demonstrate for the first time in birds, using a controlled competitive scenario, that sperm length can influence the fertilisation success of a particular male. The results also add to the body of evidence suggesting that the final outcome of sperm competition may be partly dependent on the female, and that the chance of a male siring offspring may not be an outcome of a simple ‘race to the egg’.”

Scientists believe that a better understanding of how sperm length influences fertilisation success in non-human animals such as the zebra finch may point us in new directions for investigation in human fertility research.

Researchers now plan to investigate if sperm storage duration in female birds varies according to the length of the male’s sperm, and the possible mechanisms responsible for this.