Monday 14th November 2016
Construction activity in Irish Republic rose again in October
Building, orders and employment all rose rapidly last month,
Total construction activity in the Republic increased for the second successive month in October.
The construction sector in the Republic recorded a strong start to the final quarter of the year, with activity, new orders and employment all increasing at faster rates in October, according to the latest Ulster Bank Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI).
Meanwhile, a similar survey by Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland showed that firms enjoyed a surge in export orders last month on the back of sterling’s continued weakness but their good fortune was mirrored by growing problems for local importers as costs continue to spiral.
In the Republic, the seasonally adjusted index, designed to track changes in total construction activity, increased for the second successive month in October to 62.3, up from 58.7 in September.
This represented a sharp monthly rise in total construction activity, and the fastest in seven months. Construction output has increased continuously since September 2013.
Commenting on the survey results, Simon Barry, chief economist for the Republic of Ireland at Ulster Bank, said: “Importantly, construction firms are continuing to benefit from robust increases in new business levels, with the new orders index rising to its highest level since February following a fifth consecutive monthly acceleration in October.
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“Firms continue to report a strengthening in client demand amid a general improvement in economic conditions as an important contributor to the ongoing uplift in new business volumes. In turn, the healthy expansion of new orders continues to underpin increased demand for construction workers. The employment index rose sharply last month, with the pace of hiring accelerating to its fastest in eight months as almost one-third of firms noted a rise in employment.”
Mr Barry said the mainly domestic-facing construction sector was less directly exposed to adverse Brexit impacts than more heavily trade-dependent areas of the economy.
Northern Ireland figures
In Northern Ireland, Ulster Bank’s PMI survey showed that although businesses are enjoying an export boost following the Brexit vote, the total number of new orders recorded by local firms remained largely unchanged during October.
The PMI survey also highlighted that while business activity demonstrated growth last month in the local economy, the pace of growth was sluggish and weaker compared to nearly every other UK region.
Richard Ramsey, Ulster Bank’s chief economist in Northern Ireland, said the survey reveals the stark differences between domestic and export markets.
“Overall, incoming orders stagnated in October and have failed to grow since June. However, export orders expanded at their second-highest rate since the survey began. This implies that domestic orders have been contracting at a significant rate.
“The converse seems to be the case within the construction sector. Given Belfast’s crane-cluttered skyline, it would appear that business conditions within the local construction market are relatively buoyant.
“However, despite this, and perhaps surprisingly, the PMI points to rapid rates of contraction in construction output orders and employment. This is largely due to subdued demand within a major external market, ie GB.”
Mr Ramsey said sterling’s current weakness was a “mixed blessing” for the North as the manufacturing and retail sectors are forced to bear the brunt of the input-cost inflation.
Donald Trump’s temperament will not serve him well as the next president of USA,
Donald Trump is known for his blunt speaking
President Barack Obama has warned there are “certain elements” of Donald Trump’s temperament that will not serve him well “unless he recognises them and corrects them”.
With just weeks left in office, Mr Obama said the president-elect understands that a candidate being reckless with his words can be less consequential than a president saying the same thing.
Mr Obama noted that markets move and foreign governments take note of a president’s rhetoric and stressed that national security “requires a level of precision” so that deadly mistakes are not made.
He said blunt-spoken Mr Trump “recognises that this is different – and so do the American people”.
In a White House news conference ahead of his final overseas trip as president, Mr Obama made the argument that immigration is good for the American economy.
He acknowledged that many Americans have grown sceptical about the “complex argument” in support of immigration, when they see factories closing at home and jobs going offshore. But he said “immigration is good for our economy” if it is “orderly and lawful”.
Mr Trump campaigned on a promise to limit immigration into the US and bring offshore jobs back home.
But Mr Obama maintained that it is still his “strong belief” that achieving a strong global economy does not mean “shutting people out”.
And he believes Mr Trump will seek to “send some signals of unity” to people alienated by his ferocious campaign.
He said he advised the president-elect “to reach out to minority groups or women or others that were concerned about the tenor of the campaign” and “that’s something that he will want to do”.
But he added that Mr Trump is trying to balance commitments he made to “supporters that helped to get him here”.
On the campaign trail, Mr Trump described Mexicans as rapists and criminals. He vowed to build a wall along the US’s southern border and make Mexico pay for it.
He appeared to mock a reporter with a physical disability and threatened to sue several women who accused him of assaulting them. Mr Trump also disparaged the Muslim American parents of an Army captain killed in Iraq, and battled a former Miss America who is Latino about having gained weight.
Mr Obama stressed the need to give Mr Trump the “rope and space” for a “reset” once he takes over the reins of power.
Earlier it emerged that Mr Trump was considering a woman and an openly gay man to fill major positions in his new leadership team.
It would be seen as history-making moves that would inject diversity into a Trump administration already facing questions about its ties to white nationalists.
The incoming president is considering Richard Grenell as United States ambassador to the United Nations.
If picked and ultimately confirmed by the Senate, he would be the first openly gay person to fill a Cabinet-level foreign policy post.
Mr Grenell previously served as US spokesman at the UN under former President George W Bush’s administration.
At the same time, Mr Trump is weighing up whether to select the first woman to serve as chairman of the Republican National Committee.
On his short list of prospective chairs: Michigan GOP chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, the former sister-in-law of Trump rival and 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
“I’ll be interested in whatever Mr Trump wants,” Ms McDaniel said, adding that she was planning to seek the Michigan GOP chairmanship again
Internal deliberations about staffing come a day after Mr Trump made overtures to warring Republican circles by appointing RNC Chairman Reince Priebus as his White House chief of staff and Breitbart News executive Stephen Bannon as chief strategist and senior counsellor.
Will Mike Pence the US vice-president elect visit Ireland
The vice-President elect of the USA Mike Pence will be officially invited to the Co Sligo town of Tubbercurry where his grandfather hails from.
And the Chamber of Commerce in Tubbercurry believes Donald Trump’s running mate could himself end up in the top job in as little as four years’ time.
“Local people are delighted,” said chamber spokesman Roger McCarrick.
“We will be writing to him officially to invite him to the home of his ancestors. Regardless of policies he is still an ex-Tubbercurry man as far as we are concerned.
“There has been a sense of pride that a descendant of here could aspire to such high office. He has been Governor of Indiana since 2013 and it’s possible he could run for President in four or eight years’ time and he could be on the biggest political stage of all for the next 16 years.”
Governor Pence’s grandfather was Richard Michael Cawley, who emigrated in 1923 to Chicago where he became a bus driver.
He is said to have hailed from the Doocastle area outside Tubbercurry.
Pence has spoken in the past on how his views on immigration were shaped by his grandfather’s entry from Ireland through Ellis Island in 1923.
Now, further details of Mr Cawley’s Sligo roots have emerged thanks to research carried out by New York native, Robert Theiss from Arlington, Virginia, a postgraduate in history who has a strong interest in genealogy.
Theiss said: “Passenger arrival records show Richard Cawley, aged 20, a miner, arriving in New York on April 11, 1923, on a ship called the Andania, which had set sail from Liverpool.
“The passenger arrival record shows Richard Cawley’s place of birth as Doocastle. The passenger arrival record shows his last place of residence as having been Ashton-in-Makerfield, Lancs., England.”
Pence’s Irish granddad died on Christmas Eve 1980. He was 77. Pence was 21 at the time.
Richard Cawley’s wife, was Mary Elizabeth Maloney. She was born on March 22, 1907, in Chicago, Illinois. She died in Chicago on November 1, 1980, aged 73, just weeks before her husband Richard died.
She was the daughter of Irish immigrants. Her father, James Michael Maloney, was born on February 1, 1872, in Killaloe, Co. Clare, and her mother, Mary Anne Downes, was born on July 16, 1880, in Doonbeg, Co. Clare. James died in Chicago on October 10, 1916, aged 44. Mary Anne died in Chicago on December 23, 1955, aged 75.
Mike Pence and his family visited Ireland three years ago going to Co. Clare and Co. Sligo. Mike Pence met Moloney and Downes distant cousins, in Co. Clare.
Ireland’s Garda reserve membership has fallen 13% from June-Sept this year
Fianna Fáil has called on the Justice Minister to start recruiting more members onto the reserve force.
The number of Garda reserves across the country has fallen to under 800 in the past four months.
New figures released to Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan showed how there were 1,179 reservists at the beginning of 2014. This number has now fallen a further 13% in the four-month period between June and September to 756.
The biggest drop was in the Dublin South Central district where the number fell by a further 12% since May of this year.
O’Callaghan said: “Concerns have been expressed for some time on not utilising the significant potential of the garda reserve. This poses a much bigger challenge if the numbers continue to fall.
“The Garda Inspectorate report, published last December, indicated that despite receiving considerable training, reserves are not consistently or strategically maximised for operational purposes.
Just last month it was stated that there are plans afoot to more than double the number of Garda reserves nationally. This would bring the strength of the force up to 2,000. I am calling on the minister to kick start this process without delay.
NUIG refutes claims of continued gender discrimination at University
The five female lecturers (right) who claimed NUIG overlooked them for promotion.
NUI Galway has refuted claims that it’s ‘punishing’ women who highlighted issues surrounding gender discrimination at the university.
In a statement, college authorities said accusations made by the Irish Federation of University Teachers are ‘ill-informed’ and ‘untrue’.
The Irish Federation of University Teachers claims NUI Galway has failed to address outstanding legal cases relating to gender discrimination.
It argues that the university is stalling and prolonging actions taken by four female staff members, which are currently before the Circuit and High Court.
It says the situation amounts to the ‘punishment’ of whistleblowers who have highlighted vital issues on the national stage.
It comes more than two years since the Equality Tribunal ruled against NUI Galway in a case involving Dr. Micheline Sheehy-Skeffington.
NUI Galway says the cases are subject to the remit and rules of the courts and it is actively seeking their progression.
It adds that the contention by the IFUT that the university is delaying or prolonging court cases is ill-informed and simply untrue.
A new search in depression area for life on Mars now being looked at
Scientists at the University of Texas have zeroed in on a depression that could possibly support life on Mars.
A newly discovered depression may breathe new life into the pursuit to find life on Mars.
A strangely shaped depression—likely formed by a volcano beneath a glacier—could be a warm, chemical-rich environment suited for microbial life, according to a study from the University of Texas at Austin.
“We were drawn to this site because it looked like it could host some of the key ingredients for habitability — water, heat and nutrients,” lead author Joseph Levy, a research associate at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics, a research unit of the Jackson School of Geosciences, said in a statement.
The depression is located inside a crater perched on the rim of the Hellas basin and is surrounded by ancient glacial deposits.
The depression first came to light in 2009 when Levy noticed crack-like features on pictures of depressions taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter looked similar to ice cauldrons formations found in Iceland and Greenland, which were made by volcanos erupting under an ice sheet. Levy and others also discovered another depression in the Galaxias Fossae region of Mars that had a similar appearance.
“These landforms caught our eye because they’re weird looking,” Levy said. “They’re concentrically fractured so they look like a bulls-eye. That can be a very diagnostic pattern you see in Earth materials.”
Earlier this year, Levy and his research team were able to more thoroughly analyze the depressions using stereoscopic images to investigate whether the depressions were made by underground volcanic activity that melted away surface ice or by an impact from an asteroid.
Timothy Goudge, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Texas- Austin, used pairs of high-resolution images to create digital elevation models of the depressions that enabled in-depth analysis of their shape and structure in 3D.
“The big contribution of the study was that we were able to measure not just their shape and appearance, but also how much material was lost to form the depressions,” Levy added. “That 3D view lets us test this idea of volcanic or impact.”
A closer analysis showed that both depressions shared an unusual funnel shape with a broad perimeter that gradually narrowed with depth.
“That surprised us and led to a lot of thinking about whether it meant there was melting concentrated in the center that removed ice and allowed stuff to pour in from the sides,” Levy said. “Or if you had an impact crater, did you start with a much smaller crater in the past and by sublimating away ice, you’ve expanded the apparent size of the crater.”
After running formation scenarios for the two depressions, researchers concluded that the debris spread around the Galaxias Fossae depression suggests that it was the result of an impact with the possibility it could be formed by a volcano due to the volcanic history of the area. However, the Hellas depression has many signs of volcanic origins, lacks the surrounding debris of an impact and has a fracture pattern associated with concentrated removal of ice by melting or sublimation.
According to Levy, the interaction of lava and ice to form a depression would show that it could create an environment with liquid water and chemical nutrients.