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News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Friday 17th June 2016

Enda Kenny promises to extend voting rights to Irish living abroad


Taoiseach Enda Kenny has promised he will prioritise extending voting rights to Irish people living abroad.

Speaking at the Irish World Heritage Centre in Manchester this morning Mr Kenny again expressed condolences to the family of murdered British Labour MP Jo Cox.

“It’s appropriate to pay tribute to the life and times of Jo Cox who was murdered on the street in West Yorkshire, a mother of two young children going about her business as any councillor or MP or public representative would do and to be shot down and taken away from her family and children is an appalling crime,” Mr Kenny said.

He said he would not be campaigning on Brexit as a mark of respect.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaks to the media outside the Irish centre in Liverpool yesterday. Picture: PA

However, he told members of the Irish community in Manchester that the government is now looking at giving a vote in the presidential elections to Irish emigrants.

“One of the priorities that I have asked the minister to look at and hopefully to be able to implement is the situation as far as emigrant voting is concerned in presidential elections.

“This is an issue that has been around for a very long time but there have been quite sophisticated advances made in terms of voting from abroad and we need to set out a terms of reference as to the conditions that would apply in terms of who should be eligible to vote.

“That will be a priority for the Minister for the Diaspora,” Mr Kenny said adding that he would be seeking the input from Irish living abroad on the issue.

He said: “We will work towards assisting emigrant communities and situations abroad from Ireland in England, in America, in Australia and other areas.

“That means that we want to work in a closer way with the emigrant communities in Manchester, Birmingham, London, Liverpool, Scotland and so on.”

FF to reconsider Government support if housing plan inadequate

Barry Cowen says solutions to crisis crucial part of deal between his party and Fine Gael


Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen has insisted his party will reconsider its support for a Fine Gael minority Government if ‘adequate action’ is not taken on housing.

Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen has insisted his party will reconsider its support for the Fine Gael minority Government if “adequate action” is not taken on housing.

Mr Cowen said the report on housing by the Oireachtas committee must be accepted by Minister for Housing, Simon Coveney, and implemented without delay.

He said housing was the biggest crisis facing the State and the Government needed to move to address it.

“The housing committee was set the challenge of finding solutions to the housing crisis,” Mr Cowen said. “TDs from every party worked extremely hard to meet the deadline set. The challenge for Minister Coveney is to implement these recommendations without delay.”

Mr Cowen, who was part of the negotiations between his party and Fine Gael, said action on housing was crucial to the deal struck between the two sides.

“We facilitated a Fine Gael Government, so action could be taken on this issue, which is the biggest challenge,” he said. “Fianna Fail is adamant the housing situation has to be addressed. And if adequate action is not taken, our support cannot be guaranteed.”

Mr Coveney’s spokesman said the Minister would study the report in detail before deciding how to proceed.

It is understood the Department of Finance and the Minister for Finance,Michael Noonan, have already warned against the introduction of rent certainty measures.

Mr Coveney is expected not to accept the report’s proposals to link rent increases to the Consumer Price Index. He is currently compiling an action plan for housing, with a draft expected by the end of the month.

Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin said the Minister must now move to introduce the committee’s recommendations, calling them ambitious but necessary to tackle the crisis .

Sick of talk

Independent TD for Dublin Central Maureen O’Sullivan said she had been speaking about housing for seven years and was sick of talking about the problems. Action was now needed .

Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Ruth Coppinger declined to sign off on the committee’s housing report, saying it was not ambitious enough and that targets set on social housing were disappointing.

The TD for Dublin West, who has issued her own minority report, said the committee does not locate the cause of the crisis or identify how the measures can be funded.

“Neither does the report grapple with the major issue of the day – rocketing rents,” Ms Coppinger said. “While there were some welcome reforms, the report is missing most of what is needed to really solve the housing crisis.”

Artwork exhibition dedicated to WB Yeats unveiled in Sligo

Artwork exhibition dedicated to WB Yeats unveiled in Sligo    Artwork exhibition dedicated to WB Yeats unveiled in Sligo

The Yeats-themed gallery was opened by WB Yeats’s granddaughter Caitríona Yeats 

An open-air gallery of artwork dedicated to Irish poet WB Yeats has been unveiled in Sligo.

His granddaughter Caitríona Yeats unveiled the first of five pieces of art, which are being permanently installed on the outside of buildings linked to the Yeats family in Sligo town.

The poet, who born in Dublin but spent much of his childhood in Co Sligo and is buried there, was regarded as the driving force behind Ireland’s literary revival and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923.

The artwork will be securely fixed to the outside facade of five premises with protective glass and will be illuminated for night-time viewing.

The exhibition was launched over the weekend during celebrations to mark Yeats Day, which took place on Monday.

Each piece is a collaboration between an established artist and an internationally-noted appreciator of Yeats.

The poet’s granddaughter was a collaborator in the first piece of art installed along with artist Jane Murtagh.

Their artwork was unveiled on Sunday at Pollexfen House – the home of Yeats’s grandparents – and is based on the poem Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven.

“I am delighted to have been asked to be the first collaborator in this project which brings the work of my grandfather to the public in such an accessible manner,” said Ms Yeats.

“Pollexfen House is a fitting place to locate the work and for him to be remembered and celebrated.

“Jane was a pleasure to work with and I am delighted with the unique art piece she has produced from our discussions.”

The idea for the open-air gallery came from local business owners, Suzy McCanny, Keville Burns and Tom Ford.

“With the strong connection between Yeats and Wine Street, we felt it would be an appropriate location to honour the legacy of Yeats in some way,” said Mr Ford.

“We had the idea that it might be the world’s first free permanent open-air art gallery and it would bring the poetry of Yeats to the public in a unique way.”

Spending by British tourists in Ireland increases by 18% for first quarter of 2016

2015 marks record-breaking year for tourism with 8.6 million trips made to Ireland


Tourists browsing the Guinness Store house in Dublin (middle picture).

Spending by British tourists visiting Ireland rose by as much as 18% in the first three months of 2016 compared to the same period last year, according to the latest Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures.

The latest travel data shows that increasing numbers of European and non-EU tourists continue to visit Ireland, with spending on the rise among all nationalities.

Tourists visiting Ireland from Great Britain spent €33 million more between January and March 2016 than during the same period in 2015, marking a rise of 18.2%.

British tourists spent €214 million in the first three months of this year compared to €181 million during the same period last year. Visitors from Great Britain spent a total of €971 million last year.

Spending by tourists from France, Germany, Italy, the US, Canada, Australiaand New Zealand also rose between January and March of this year, with North Americans spending €144 million, a rise of of €19 million on the same period last year.

The overall number of overseas trips to Ireland by non-residents rose by more than 15%, with 1,785 million trips in the first three months of the year, up 254 million on last year.


The duration of visitors’ stay in Ireland remained the same as last year, with people opting to spend an average of 6.5 nights.

Ireland’s total tourism and travel earnings during the first three months of 2016 rose by 18.7% on the same period last year, increasing from €780 million to €926 million.

Meanwhile, the number of Irish people travelling overseas increased by 13.1% from 1.306 million between January and March 2015 to 1.478 million during the first three months of this year. The CSO figures also reveal Irish people are spending more nights abroad than last year.

2015 marked a record-breaking year for tourism with 8.6 million trips made to Ireland.

The latest travel data follows news earlier this week that Dublin is facing a shortage in visitor accommodation options over the next two years, limiting the potential for tourism growth in the longer term.

A report commissioned by Fáilte Ireland found that while additional bedrooms are due to be created for visitors, most will not be available until after 2018 or later.

The report also warned that most of the new accommodation stock was not guaranteed and said the capital was facing “a capacity challenge” over the next two years.

Between 2010 and 2015, the number of tourists visiting Dublin rose by 33% while the availability of accommodation fell by 6%, according to Fáilte Ireland.

Antarctic observatories register 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide for the first time ever


An iceberg is pictured in the western Antarctic peninsula, on March 04, 2016.

One by one, the observatories sounded the alarm in the past few yearsfrom the peak of Mauna Loa in Hawaii, and the top of the Greenland ice sheet as the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere crept above 400 parts per million (ppm). 

The last alarm bells went off this week, when scientists announced that the Halley Research Station in Antarctica, as well as a monitoring post at the geographic South Pole, both located amid the most pristine air on the planet, have now passed the 400 ppm mark.

In other words, at every location on Earth where scientists routinely monitor carbon dioxide levels, we are now entering uncharted territory for humanity.

For reference, carbon dioxide levels were at about 280 ppm at the start of the industrial revolution, when humans began burning fossil fuels for energy. They have marched upward at increasing rates ever since.

According to Pieter Tans, the lead scientist for the Global Greenhouse Gas Reference Network, 400 ppm is the highest level that carbon dioxide levels have reached in at least 4 million years.

Carbon dioxide concentrations in the northern hemisphere have already eclipsed the 400 ppm milestone. These observatories are located closer to pollution sources, and this elevates the observed carbon dioxide levels.

However, it takes a while for carbon dioxide to reach Antarctica.

“This is the first time a sustained reading of 400 ppm, over the period of a day, has been recorded at a research station on the ice,” according to a press release from the British Antarctic Survey.

Keeling Curve of carbon dioxide concentrations at Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii.

“The remoteness of the Antarctic continent means it is one of the last places on Earth to see the effects of human activities, but the news that even here the milestone of carbon dioxide levels reaching 400 parts per million has been reached shows that no part of the planet is spared from the impacts of human activity,” said David Vaughan, director of science at the Antarctic Survey, in a press release.

Today at Halley Station, CO2 is rising faster than it was when we began measurements in the 1980s. We have changed our planet to the very poles.”

A separate press release from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the South Pole observation occurred on May 23, but was announced on June 15.

In 2015, the global average carbon dioxide level was 399 ppm, and it’s expected that each month in 2016 will likely see carbon dioxide levels remain above 400 ppm for the first time.

“We know from abundant and solid evidence that the CO2 increase is caused entirely by human activities,” Tans said. “Since emissions from fossil fuel burning have been at a record high during the last several years, the rate of CO2 increase has also been at a record high.”

“We have changed our planet to the very poles.”

While scientists have ice core samples of carbon dioxide levels and temperatures dating back to about 800,000 years ago, they also have evidence from seafloor sediment of what Earth’s conditions were like dating back to about 4 million years ago, Tans told Mashable via email.

However, those measurements are not as precise as the ice core records, Tans said.

Because of the long atmospheric lifetime of carbon dioxide, it is not likely to fall below this level again in most of our lifetimes, even if the most aggressive emissions reduction plans are pursued.

A single molecule of carbon dioxide can remain in the atmosphere for hundreds to thousands of years.