Tag Archives: jobs Ireland

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Friday 26th August 2016

Áras Attracta’s services criticised in a draft HSE report

The care home was the controversial subject of an RTÉ Prime Time Investigates programme.

Image result for Áras Attracta’s services criticised in a draft HSE report   Image result for Áras Attracta’s services criticised in a draft HSE report

A draft Health Service Executive (HSE) report on the Áras Attracta care home in Co Mayo is believed to have identified numerous issues including low morale and fraught relations between management and staff.

The home was the controversial subject of an RTÉ Prime Time Investigatesprogramme in 2014, which examined care practices for adults with intellectual disabilities.

According to the broadcaster, a draft report of a review of services, which has been two years in the making and which is due to be published next month, has found failures throughout its management system.

In particular it found low staff morale, ineffective use of staff resources and weak governance, particularly in respect of “bungalow three” which featured in the documentary.

“Staff in Áras Attracta…describe bungalow three as the ‘forgotten bungalow’ where there was a culture of bad practices,” Prime Time Investigates reporter Barry O’Kelly said.

“Management are criticised under a number of different headings. It notes as well there were fraught relations between management and staff in Áras Attracta.

“However it also states that even today there are many relatives of people who are living in Áras Attracta, people with intellectual disabilities, who are happy with the services provided there. It also notes that the HSE has introduced quite sweeping changes since our programme almost two years ago.”

A spokesman for the HSE declined to comment other than to say the completed report would be published in the first week of September.

Minister Flanagan clarifies consular care policy in relation to Pat Hickey in Brazil

IRISH OFFICIALS IN ONGOING CONTACT WITH BRAZILIAN AUTHORITIES

Image result for Minister Flanagan clarifies consular care policy in relation to Pat Hickey in Brazil  Image result for Minister Charlie Flanagan  Image result for Minister Flanagan clarifies consular care policy in relation to Pat Hickey in Brazil

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan has responded to calls from the family of Pat Hickey for the Minister and Government to intervene in issues surrounding his detention in Rio de Janeiro.

In a statement issued this afternoon, the Hickey family called on Minister Flanagan and Minister for Sport, Shane Ross to intervene urgently in addressing “extremely worrying” issues surrounding his arrest and detention and the effect it is having on his health.”

The family said they were “gravely concerned about the effect this degrading and humiliating ordeal has had on their father and grandfather and how it continues to affect his physical and mental health.”

Minister Flanagan responded by saying:-

“The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provides consular care to Irish citizens who have been arrested or detained overseas.

“We are currently assisting two Irish citizens detained in Rio de Janeiro.

“In general it is Department policy not to comment in detail publicly on individual consular cases, of which there have been almost 1,500 already this year.

“Any Irish citizen who requests or avails of consular assistance is entitled to privacy and confidentiality.

“However, I wish to make certain points in response to today’s statement from the Hickey family.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing ongoing consular assistance to Mr. Hickey through the Irish Embassy and Consulate in Brazil.

“My officials are in ongoing contact with the family of this citizen and with legal representative acting on his behalf.

“Senior officials of the Department met with Mr Hickey’s Dublin-based solicitors on Wednesday, 24 August, and discussed the family’s concerns in detail, and explained the Department’s approach to this consular case.

“In general terms, the Department’s focus in cases of arrest or detention of Irish citizens overseas is on a number of specific issues including ensuring that the citizen has access to legal representation, that the citizen is not being discriminated against on the grounds of nationality, and that the host authorities are fulfilling their responsibilities in ensuring the welfare and wellbeing of our detained citizen.

“In this context my officials are in ongoing contact with the Brazilian authorities.

“The Department cannot however provide legal advice or interfere in any way in the judicial processes in another country.

“I have agreed to meet with the Hickey family and arrangements will be made for this meeting to take place in the coming days.

“ In the meantime, my Department is continuing to monitor developments in this consular case closely and is continuing to provide all appropriate consular advice and assistance to Mr. Hickey and his family.”

What are the highest paid jobs in Ireland in 2016?

Image result for What are the highest paid jobs in Ireland in 2016?  Image result for The best paid sector to be in is Information and Communications   NEWS-weekly-wages1.png

The average annual salary rose to just over €37,000 in the first three months of this year, before dipping slightly by the summer, figures now show.

Official data shows that the average weekly wage at the start of the year rose 1.5% on the same period in 2015, to €713.41.

But it dipped fractionally in the three months to the end of June to €703.83, according to the Central Statistics Office.

There were wide variations across sectors.

The best paid sector to be in is Information and Communications, which includes IT companies, publishing houses and telecommunications.

It recorded an average weekly wage of €1,063.39, which means, in theory, these type of firms had an annual average salary of around €55,296.

In close second was the financial, insurance and real estate sector, which had average weekly pay of €1,014.66.

At the bottom of the pack were the accommodation and food services sector, and the arts, entertainment and recreation and other services sector, with average weekly earnings of €331.81 and €467.77 respectively.

Average weekly earnings in the private sector showed an increase of 1.5pc from €635.52 to €644.98 in the year to the end of June.

Average earnings are falling in the public sector, but at €905.97, they’re still healthier than the private sector.

Average weekly earnings increased in nine of the 13 sectors in the economy up to the end of June.

The largest percentage increase was 5% in the professional, scientific and technical activities sector, which includes legal and accounting businesses, management consultants, architectural and engineering firms, and advertising – where average weekly earnings rose from €800.41 to €840.39.

The construction sector saw a near 4% hike in average wages to €734.49, while there was an increase of 2.5% in the financial, insurance and real estate sector.

The public administration and defence sector experienced the largest percentage sectoral decrease, falling from €933.00 to €900.88, a drop of 3.4%. The CSO said this was due to the recruitment of temporary Census field staff, who were on lower-than-average weekly earnings and weekly paid hours.

If you strip those workers out, the sector had average weekly earnings of €928.90, a fall of 0.4%.

In the five years up to June, average weekly earnings rose by 2.1pc, from €689.32 in June 2011 to €708.83 five years later.

Across the public sector, average weekly earnings fell 1.2pc to €905.97, but if you exclude the temporary census staff, the fall is just 0.3%.

Three of the seven public sector sub-sectors had annual increases in average weekly earnings, with Gardaí recording the largest rise of 4.7% from €1,245.30 to €1,304.11 in the year to June. That means, according to the CSO, the average annual Garda pay in June was €67,813.

The CSO said the education sector recorded the highest average hourly earnings in the year of €37.89, while also showing the lowest hours worked of 23.9 hours.

The Gardaí had the next highest earnings, with average hourly earnings of €30.52. But they worked the longest, at 42.7 hours.

First official estimates put overall 2016 Irish cereal harvest down by 15%

Image result for First official estimates put overall 2016 Irish cereal harvest down by 15%   t5

Harvest is approximately 30-50% complete, depending on the area of the country, according to Teagasc’s latest crop report.

It says significant areas are still to be harvested in the midlands, north east and north of the country.

According to Teagasc, larger growers are now being forced into harvesting at higher moistures to reduce the amount to be harvested.

It says yields of winter barley and oilseed rape have been largely disappointing, whereas winter wheat and spring barley harvested so far are reporting good yields and quality.

Overall the tonnes harvested this year is predicted to be 15% lower than last year in its first provisional estimate of harvest 2016.

The decrease is a combination of reduced areas (-7%) and lower yields. The main trends are that yields are mixed with winter barley and winter oilseed rape generally disappointing whereas winter wheat and earlier sown spring barley yields are holding well.

Grain quality has been mixed with low hectolitre weights in many winter barleys and skinning (loss of some of the grain hull) reported in malting barleys.

Prices remain depressed due to supply exceeding demand and high worldwide stocks of small grains and maize.

Teagasc says the poor yield combined with lower prices is resulting in negative margins for many crops this year with poor prospects for an increase in grain price due to an expected very large world harvest.

Faces of murderers could be recreated from DNA left at crime scenes after science breakthrough

Image result for Faces of murderers could be created from DNA left at crime scenes after science breakthrough  Image result for Faces of murderers could be created from DNA left at crime scenes after science breakthrough

Scientists have identified the genes that shape facial features including nose size and face width, according to a new report

New findings may also help researchers to learn how facial birth defects arise

The faces of murderers or rapists could be ‘recreated’ from DNA left at the scene of the crime, according to new research.

Scientists have identified the genes that shape the extraordinary variation in the human face.

Many features, such as nose size and face width, stem from specific mutations, say researchers.

Previous studies have suggested they are controlled by genes , but this is the first to shed light on how variants contribute to the range of different forms we see.

The findings published in PLOS Genetics may also help researchers to learn how facial birth defects arise.

And they could even have applications in forensics, helping police construct more accurate faces of dangerous criminals being hunted for murders, rapes and robberies.

The discovery of the genes that determine human facial shape could provide valuable information about a person’s appearance using just DNA left behind at the scene of a crime.

They are based on a DNA analysis of 20 facial characteristics measured from 3D images of 3,118 healthy volunteers of European ancestry and almost a million mutations, or SNPs (single base pair) variations.

Dr John Shaffer, of the University of Pittsburgh , said: “There is a great deal of evidence genes influence facial appearance.

“This is perhaps most apparent when we look at our own families, since we are more likely to share facial features in common with our close relatives than with unrelated individuals.

“Nevertheless, little is known about how variation in specific regions of the genome relates to the kinds of distinguishing facial characteristics that give us our unique identities, e.g., the size and shape of our nose or how far apart our eyes are spaced.

“In this paper, we investigate this question by examining the association between genetic variants across the whole genome and a set of measurements designed to capture key aspects of facial form.

“We found evidence of genetic associations involving measures of eye, nose, and facial breadth.

“In several cases, implicated regions contained genes known to play roles in embryonic face formation or in syndromes in which the face is affected.

“Our ability to connect specific genetic variants to ubiquitous facial traits can inform our understanding of normal and abnormal craniofacial development, provide potential predictive models of evolutionary changes in human facial features, and improve our ability to create forensic facial reconstructions from DNA.”

Facial width, the distance between the eyes, the size of the nose and the distance between the lips and eyes all had statistically significant associations with certain SNPs.

The researchers also considered results from two similar studies and confirmed certain previous findings.

Until recently, virtually nothing was known about the genes responsible for facial shape in humans.

Added co author Dr Seth Weinberg: “Our analysis identified several genetic associations with facial features not previously described in earlier genome wide studies.

“What is exciting is many of these associations involve chromosomal regions harbouring genes with known craniofacial function.

“Such findings can provide insights into the role genes play in the formation of the face and improve our understanding of the causal factors leading to certain craniofacial birth defects.”

Several of the genetic regions contributing to face shape detected contain genes known to play a role in facial development and abnormalities.

In the future, the scientists hope to identify genetic risk factors that lead to anomalies such as cleft lip and palate.

But they warned it is important to keep in mind these findings likely represent only a small fraction of the genes influencing the size and shape of the human face.

Many of the genes influencing facial features are likely to have small effects, so successfully mapping a large number of these genes will require much greater sample sizes and a more comprehensive approach to quantifying those of interest.

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Friday 20th November 2105

Irish Water staff vote to strike in row over job cuts

Unions balloted for industrial action after utility revealed plan for up to 1,500 job losses

    

Unions decided to ballot members for industrial action after Irish Water said it intended ‘to reduce the local authority workforce in the company by up to 1,500 by 2021’.

Local authority workers providing services for Irish Water have voted for industrial action in a dispute over proposed staffing cuts.

In ballots counted on Friday members of Siptu and the Technical Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU) in local authorities, working under the management of Irish Water, supported industrial action up to and including work stoppages by 91 per cent and 84 per cent respectively.

The unions said they decided to ballot members for industrial action following an announcement by Irish Water in a new business plan last month that it intended “to reduce the local authority workforce in the company by up to 1,500 by 2021”.

unions said the unilateral move by Irish Water was in breach of a service level agreement reached between them and the company in 2013 which obliged it to consult in relation to any proposed changes in staffing numbers.

The unions maintained that the proposed move by the company could lead to existing water service staff being displaced by private contractors.

Siptu sector organiser Brendan O’Brien said: “The result of this vote represents a very strong mandate from our members to fight the creeping privatisation of the public water service. The concerns of local authority water workers about the threat to public water services has led their decision to take industrial action when and if necessary.

“We do not accept that the public water service can be adequately delivered with the planned reduction of frontline staff numbers which is in the order of 40 per cent.”

Teeu official, Paddy Kavanagh, said that union representatives would hold talks with Irish Water management next week.

“At this meeting we will set out the position of our members and depending on the response of the company, and following further consultation, decide on what course of action will be taken.”

Separately the trade union Impact is balloting its members for industrial action at Irish Water on the same issue of potential job losses.

“The local government and local services and municipal employees’ divisions of Impact have commenced a ballot for industrial action at Irish Water, following the announcement by the water utility that it will shed 1,500 jobs as part of its business plan published in October”, an Impact spokesman said.

The union said that only members involved in the direct provision of services to Irish Water, including those who worked in non-domestic water billing and water metering, were being balloted.

Impact national secretary Peter Nolan said the union would extend the ballot to other workers in the local authority sector if it became necessary.

In a letter to Impact members Mr Nolan said the company’s proposals constituted “clear breaches of understandings and agreements, negotiated by the union, that have facilitated the transfer of ownership, control and operation of water and sanitation services from local authorities to Irish Water”.

“The decision of both divisions to ballot members on industrial action is a prudent precautionary step. Industrial action will not take place as long as Irish Water and the local authorities abide by these agreements”, he said.

In a statement, Irish Water said they “noted the outcome of the SIPTU ballot of staff of local authorities that provide services to Irish Water through a Service Level Agreement with local authorities. There has been no breach of the Service Level Agreement.

“Any proposed action by local authority staff must comply with recognised practices and national agreements. There is a meeting of the consultative group next week which will be attended by union representatives, local authority management, DECLG and Irish Water.”

A national DNA database for Irish criminals is now launched

   

DNA samples will be stored within Forensic Science Ireland at Garda headquarters in the Phoenix Park.

A national DNA database has been launched that will see genetic samples kept for all criminals who receive a sentence of five years or more.

The database is launched under the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Act 2014, which was enacted today.

Similar databases already exist in the UK and many other European countries.

The genetic samples will be stored within Forensic Science Ireland, currently located at Garda headquarters in the Phoenix Park.

Former minister for justice Alan Shatter has welcomed the launch.

Speaking after its commencement, Mr Shatter said “the DNA database will provide enormous help to the gardaí and will revolutionise the investigation of crime in this State, in particular, homicides, rape and other sexual offences, assaults and burglaries”.

“Based on experience elsewhere, DNA samples can help identify the perpetrators of up to 40% of all burglaries,” he added.

How long more until women are treated as equals?

A report from the World Economic Forum finds that true gender equality is still more than a century away?

      

There’s a name for why we give too much weight to the opinions of others? 

In 2006, the World Economic Forum developed the Global Gender Index—a means of measuring a country’s gender disparities for health outcomes and educational, political, and economic opportunities. After collecting a decade of data, the Forum has released a progress report on global gender equality—or rather, inequality, given that a gender gap remains in every single one of the 145 countries included in the report.

Globally, the disparity in health outcomes—a catch-all term for sex ratio and life expectancy—between men and women is 96 percent closed, and the gap in educational attainment is 95 percent closed. But the inequality in indices of political empowerment (measured by the ratio of men to women in high-level decision-making positions) and economic participation and opportunities (the number of women in the labor force and in high-level positions therein) remains wide. Just 59 percent of the economic gap and less than a quarter of the political gap has been closed.

A gender gap remains in every single one of the 145 countries included in the report.

That is not to say no progress has been made: Twenty-five countries fully closed the gap in educational attainment, 40 closed the gap in health outcomes, and a full 10 have closed the gap in both. But no country has fully closed the economic or political gaps. Pushback from men in the workplace may partly explain why it has proven more difficult for women to gain an equal number of spots in the highest-ranking positions of the labor force. Alana Massey reported for Pacific Standard earlier this year on several studies that found even men who outwardly support gender equality were inwardly threatened by female leadership:

A study published earlier this month in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that, across three separate experiments, even men ostensibly committed to gender equality in the workplace often feel threatened by female bosses and act accordingly. In a simulation of salary negotiation from a starting offer of $28,500, male participants dealing with a male manager counter-offered a mean figure of $42,870. In contrast, men dealing with a female manager counter-offered a mean figure of $49,400. Because it was unlikely that participants would admit to feeling threatened by a female manager, all participants took part in an assessment wherein words flashed on a screen for under a second and then reported on the words they saw. Men dealing with female managers were more likely to see words like “risk” and “fear” than those who dealt with male managers. “We found that men exhibited higher implicit threat, indicating that even if committed to equality in theory, they felt threatened by a female manager,” says Leah Sheppard, a co-author of the study.

There are innumerable reasons why closing the gender gap should be a top priority around the globe. Among them, a study covered by Tom Jacobs that found the countries with the most gender equality won more medals at the 2012 Summer and 2014 Winter Olympics, indicating that “equal rights for women may also boost the competitive prospects of men,” he wrote.

At the current rate of progress, however, it will be another 118 years before the gender gap is closed. At least my great-great-granddaughters will have something to look forward to.

Meanwhile:-

IRELAND is ranked fifth in EQUAL PAY SURVEY

According to the latest survey, the world has seen only a small improvement in equality for women in the workplace over the past nine years     

In a report commissioned by the World Economic Forumit was revealed that Ireland has placed 5th out of 145 countries surveyed in terms of wage equality between men and women. 

The report stated that: ‘No country in the world has achieved gender equality. The highest ranked countries—Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Ireland —have closed over 80% of their gender gaps, while the lowest ranked country—Yemen—has closed a little less than half of its gender gap.’

It was also noted in the report that women are now being paid the equivalent of what their male counterparts were being paid 10 years ago, essentially meaning women are a DECADE behind men in terms of how much cash they make for the same amount of work.

The report called for businesses to make more of a concerted effort to create changes in their companies that would lead to more women employed, in higher leadership positions, and a better work life balance particularly in terms of childcare and maternity leave.

‘Leaders need to take a holistic approach that often leads to fundamental reforms on how to recruit and retain employees; how to mentor and sponsor high-potential women; how to sensitize managers to different leadership styles; how to manage work-life balance policies so that they don’t disadvantage women.’

Shockingly, it’s going to be another ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTEEN YEARS until the gender gap is closed at the current rate we are going.

In some countries such as Iran, progress has stalled completely at 58%, the same figure as 2006. Croatia, Sri Lanka and Mali have also shown disappointing figures.

Have we finally found the ‘happy’ region of our brain?

     

Happiness is a subjective experience for most of us.

It could be anything from receiving that highly anticipated bonus, to finding love or even listening to Taylor Swift.

But one thing we’ve struggled to figure out is… which part of the brain is responsible for processing our joyous emotions?

Happiness is a subjective experience (Thinkstock)

It seems scientists at Kyoto University may have the answer.

According to their study, overall happiness is “a combination of happy emotions and satisfaction of life coming together in the precuneus – a region in the medial parietal lobe that becomes active when experiencing consciousness.”

But they haven’t been able to identify how the neural mechanism works to facilitate the feelings of happiness.

Scientists say the neural mechanism behind how happiness emerges remains unclear at present

Study leader Wataru Sato believes understanding that mechanism could help scientists quantify the levels of happiness objectively.

Researchers scanned the brains of research participants with MRI.

The volunteers were then asked about how happy they are generally and how satisfied they are with their lives as part of a survey.

The yellow area showing the precuneus region

Results revealed that those who scored higher on the happiness surveys had more grey matter mass in the precuneus.

“Over history, many eminent scholars like Aristotle have contemplated what happiness is,” said Sato.

“I’m very happy that we now know more about what it means to be happy.”

Meditation is associated with increased grey matter in the precuneus (Jillian/Flickr)

So how does it help us. Does this mean we will be able to train ourselves to be happy in future?

“Several studies have shown that meditation increases grey matter mass in the precuneus,” Sato adds.

“This new insight on where happiness happens in the brain will be useful for developing happiness programs based on scientific research.”

“Yes that’s correct” We now have got the first ever photo of a new planet LkCa15  being formed

      

The first ever photo of a planet being formed has been captured, even though the planet in question is a staggering 450 light-years away from Earth.

Using the world’s largest telescope, the aptly name Large Binocular Telescope, and the University of Arizona’s Magellan Telescope, graduates from the university took a “direct picture” of the forming planet.

LkCa15 is a young star with a protoplanetary disc around it – a disc of dense gas and dust created from the star’s left over materials, which then go on to create planets which will orbit the star. LkCa15′s disc contains a gap, usually created by forming planets. It was this that drew the researchers towards it.

“This is the first time that we’ve imaged a planet that we can say is still forming,” said Stephanie Sallum, a UA graduate student who, with Kate Follette, a former UA graduate student now doing post-doctoral work at Stanford University, led the research.

“No one has successfully and unambiguously detected a forming planet before,” Follette says. “There have always been alternate explanations, but in this case we’ve taken a direct picture, and it’s hard to dispute that.”

To make an already very impressive find even more impressive, of the 2,000 or so known exoplanets in the universe, only 10 have ever been imaged – and they were all fully formed.

“The reason we selected this system is because it’s built around a very young star that has material left over from the star-formation process,” Follette said.

“It’s like a big doughnut. This system is special because it’s one of a handful of discs that has a solar-system size gap in it. And one of the ways to create that gap is to have planets forming in there.”

The two graduates’ advisers verified the findings using Magellan’s adaptive optics system to capture the planet’s “hydrogen alpha” spectral fingerprint – the specific wavelength of light that LkCa15 and its planets emit as they grow.

Cosmic objects are extremely hot as they’re forming and because they’re forming from hydrogen they all glow dark red, which is a particular wavelength of light referred to as H-alpha by scientists.

“That single dark shade of red light is emitted by both the planet and the star as they undergo the same growing process,” Follette said.

“We were able to separate the light of the faint planet from the light of the much brighter star and to see that they were both growing and glowing in this very distinct shade of red.”

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Thursday 23rd July 2015

HSE offers €1,500 to attract overseas nurses back to Ireland

 

Up to 500 nurses and midwives sought in new recruitment initiative.

The HSE says a relocation package is available for nurses and midwives who would like to come and work in the Irish health service

The HSE is to offer a tax-free €1,500 relocation expenses package to encourage nurses and midwives working abroad to take up posts in the Irish health service.

The HSE is seeking to attract up to 500 nurses and midwives working in the UK and further afield to work inIreland under the new initiative.

Ian Tegerdine, HSE national director of human resources, said a relocation package was available for nurses and midwives who wished to come and work in the Irish health service and who applied for posts through the new recruitment campaign. The HSE said the package on offer included: up to €1,500 tax-free removal/relocation expenses including the cost of flights subject to Revenue guidelines on allowable removal expenses; the cost of registering for the first time with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland; funded postgraduate education; incremental credit for experience gained outside Ireland.

The HSE said there were vacancies in a wide range of hospital and community facilities and it was seeking to attract up to 500 nurses and midwives from the UK and elsewhere to Ireland.

It said it was hoped that many Irish nurses and midwives working in the UK in particular would take up the opportunity to return home and work in the Irish public health services.

Mr Tegerdine said the campaign would focus on connecting with nurses and midwives in the UK and further afield via advertising on social media channels and newspapers.

The HSE said that those taking up employment would receive a salary scale of €27,211-€43,800 with additional pay for shift and differentials.

It said it was also offering nurses and midwives permanent contracts of employment, as well as opportunities for continuing professional development and sponsorship programmes for specialist post-registration education and Masters study.

Meanwhile back in the UK:

‘Irish hospitals are so backward compared to here in the UK’

UK-based Irish nurse on new HSE recruitment drive

   

Lauren Irwin above pic middle a nurse from Rathfarnham, Dublin who has been working in the UK since 2012 says she will not be tempted back to Ireland.

An Irish nurse, working at a London Hospital since April 2012, has said the latest HSE recruitment programme will not tempt her to move back to Ireland for work.

Lauren Irwin (26) from Rathfarnham in Dublin said, “The staffing levels at the hospital I work at in London are so much better than at home.

“On the whole the hospital is managed in a much more efficient way.”

The HSE are currently attempting to attract 500 Irish nurses to come home, offering them free flights and relocation expenses worth €1,500.

Lauren Irwin, a nurse from Rathfarnham, Dublin. She has been working in the UK since 2012.

Lauren told independent.ie that salary considerations are not her primary concern, adequate working conditions are the most important thing in her mind.

“I’m so supported here by the hospital management and by the National Health Service itself.

“You have to be content in the workplace. Pay comes second.” she said.

Read More: Irish nurses to be wooed back home with €1,500 relocation offer

Lauren said that on the whole, patients receive better care at hospitals in the UK.

“There’s nobody lying on a trolley for two or three days. That wouldn’t be tolerated here. But it’s still accepted in Ireland,” she said.

She added that she had received an email from Tallaght Hospital in relation to recruitment.

Read More: Eilish O’Regan: After the exodus comes the charm campaign

“I got sent lots of information on the recruitment drive this morning.

“I can’t see many people taking them up on it.

“One of my friends moved home to Ireland recently after working in the UK for a few years.

“He was in total shock at how bad things still are in Irish hospitals.” she said.

The number of advertised jobs in Ireland rises by 17% over past year

  

Sectors driving the increase include telecoms, retail, and tourism

The total number of jobs being advertised has increased by 17% over the past year, and by 7% in the past quarter.

Sectors driving the annual increase of 17% include telecoms (+41%); science, pharmaceuticals and food (+28%); financial services and insurance (+49%); construction, architecture and property (+18%); retail (+15%); and tourism (+14%).

Meanwhile, between April and June of this year there was an increase of jobs being advertised in healthcare (+32%), legal (+15%), and manufacturing (+17%).

IrishJobs.ie, which compiled the figures, has also published a Jobs Market Sentiment survey stating there is strong sentiment in the jobs market among jobseekers, with 50% (either employed, currently unemployed or in education and training) of the belief that the jobs market is improving.

In addition, more than half of jobseekers surveyed claim to be more secure in their job compared with 12 months ago. Almost two in 10 say they have already received a salary increase this year and three in 10 are expecting an increase.

The report looked at all corporate jobs advertised on two prominent jobs websites from the beginning of April to the end of June this year.

The flotation of AIB likely to take place in 2016,

Says Michael Noonan

 

The NTMA plans to focus on smoothing out €35bn in repayment ‘chimneys’ of national debt between 2018 and 2020

The Minister of Finance Michael Noonan at the press briefing for the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) annual report for 2015.

A stock market flotation of shares in the nationalised Allied Irish Banks is more likely to take place in mid-2016 than later this year, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said.

Although the Government had made preparations for an initial public offering this autumn, the Minister this morning suggested the flotation will not take place before the election.

“The only window for an IPO left this year is in November, and I have said that the IPO isn’t going to be influenced in any way by the political calendar,” Mr Noonan told reporters at the publication of the annual report of the National Treasury Management Agency.

“While there is a window there, the likelihood is that the IPO will go into the middle of 2016, late spring, summer of 2016, something like that.”

At the publication of the NTMA annual report, the agency’s chief Conor O’Kelly said it plans to smooth out €35 billion in repayment “chimneys” [of the national debt] \between 2018 and 2020.

“We’ll focus strategically on trying to manage ahead … maybe getting some switching and buybacks going to try and smooth out what the requirement will be. That will be a significant focus.”

Options include the issuing of inflation-linked or dollar denominated bonds.

Asked whether investors had raised questions about the election, Mr O’Kelly said the matter had been raised only at the “very margins” of discussions. “Maybe questions number 8, 9, 10 on peoples’ list and probably only half the time that it gets mentioned.”

In his experience, investors were generally not that interested in elections until you get closer to the actual event. “They don’t spend an awful lot of time on polls, on speculation.”

Asked what questions were being raised by investors, he said: “They’re asking what is the likelihood of a change from a general centrist coalition type scenario. That’s generally what they’re asking – and I normally kick high into the stand.”

Mr Noonan said his aim in the October budget was to bring the level of national debt to 100 per cent of GDP next year or below it. Ireland’s debt, which peaked at 123 per cent of GDP after the crash, was cut to 110 per cent of economic output at the end of 2014.

“At the end of this year – and we’re close enough to the end now to be able to predict with a degree of accuracy – it will be at 105. In the budget in October I’m going to be budgeting to bring it to 100 \[per cent] or to break through 100,” Mr Noonan said.

“When you think that the average debt for the euro zone is a shade under 95 per cent of GDP , we’re coming very very close to the European average on a time span I wouldn’t have predicted even two years ago.”

Echoing Mr O’Kelly, the Minister said events in Greece had not really affected Ireland.

“We’re no longer rated with the Mediterranean countries which were involved in programmes. We’re seen increasingly now as an economy more like the small northern countries in Europe.”

Mr O’Kelly said the fact that Ireland’s debt was unperturbed amid recent market volatility over Greece demonstrated that Ireland was seen as a “semi-core” debt issuer in the market.

“When you look at where we’re ranked by the bond markets currently, we’ve been defined in a kind of a semi core category – not quite peripheral, not core,” he said.

“In recent volatility and market moves around the the Greek story and around the European uncertainty, Ireland’s position as a semi-core credit was really confirmed.”

He characterised 2014 as the year the State made a smooth return to private debt markets, followed by moves to refinance expensive IMF debt with cheaper debt of longer maturities.

The NTMA has raised €11.3 billion so far this year, just over 90 per cent of its requirement.

“The statistic I like to use on this – it’s not exactly accurate, but it’s very very close – is that that funding has been done at double the maturity of last year and at half the yield. That really is showing how dramatic the improvement in our credit story is and of course the impact of QE,” he said in reference to the European Central Bank’s bond-buying campaign.

“We’ve issued at the yield of 1.5 per cent on average this year versus 2.8 per cent last year and our average maturity this year has been close to 19 years versus just over 10 years last year.”

The NTMA raised €5 billion via two sales of a 30-year bond at the start of this year, the latter €1 billion of which was sold at the yield of 1. 3 per cent.

“That is extraordinarily low in terms of that kind of maturity. You can never say what’s going to happen in financial markets but it will be quite some time before Ireland gets to issue a 30-year security at that kind of yield again.”

Mr Noonan said he would not be instructing Nama to appear before the finance committee in Stormont to answer questions about the sale of its Northern portfolio. All his relationship with State agencies such as Nama were governed by law, he said.

“I have no legal authority to request or instruct Nama to appear before any forum outside the jurisdiction,” he said.

“As well as that, Nama are obliged to be accountable to the Houses of the Oireachtas through the [Public Accounts Committee] and to make themselves accountable to any other forum would be in breach of that.

“Nama are quite willing to answer any questions that are considered relevant by the Northern Ireland finance committee.”

Eating slowly has some benefits says new studies

 

Taking time to savour your food could help you lose weight, suggests a new study.

Those who make more time to enjoy their dinners might not just be more relaxed – they could benefit from finding it easier to keep weight off, too. That’s because they tend to feel fuller afterwards, claims a new study.

For a while scientists have been aware that slow eaters tend to have lower BMIs, but the reason why was unknown.

Now researchers from the University of Bristol have decided to investigate whether eating slowly affects how hungry we feel afterwards.

To make sure quantities and rates at which people ate were exactly the same, 40 participants were fed tomato soup through a tube for this experiment. Exactly 400ml were pumped in; one group had theirs fed at a fast rate, a second at a slower pace (11.8 ml per two seconds, then a four-second pause for the fast group, 5.4 ml of soup per second, then a ten-second pause, for the slower group).

Participants were then quizzed on feelings of fullness, both straight after the meal and again two hours later.

Those in the slower category claimed to feel more satisfied both times around. Interestingly, the participants in this group also estimated they had eaten more than their counterparts (108 ml more on average).

To take their research further, scientists then asked participants to taste two kinds of biscuit after they’d had their soup. Both groups consumed roughly the same amount, so now they want to repeat the experiment without ‘forcing’ people to eat, but simply offering snacks after. They believe this will give more of an insight into whether eating slowly prevents snacking.

There are many benefits to eating slowly, so maybe you should take more time over dinner tonight. As well as having potential slimming effects, it makes digestion easier and leaves you less likely to feel bloated or suffering from heartburn.

Cigarette butts most common type of litter in Ireland,

A survey shows

 Image result for Cigarette butts most common type of litter in Ireland

‘Smokers need to make every effort to dispose of cigarette butts,’ says Minister for the Environment

The 2014 National Litter Pollution Report found that “ cigarette-related litter” accounted for almost 55% of litter.

Cigarette butts and packets remain the most common type of litter found on Irish streets, according to the Department of the Environment’s annual litter survey.

The 2014 National Litter Pollution Report found that “ cigarette-related litter” accounted for almost 55% of litter, with butts constituting more than half of all litter items found on the street.

The survey, carried out by Tobin Consulting Engineers, found food-related items accounted for more than 16% of litter with chewing gum being the single largest litter component in the food litter category, accounting for 15% of all litter recorded.

Packaging litter at 12.4% is the third largest component of national litter pollution recorded.

The worst litter culprits are pedestrians (41%), motorists (18.7%), retail outlets (10.3%), places of leisure and entertainment (6.1%), gathering points (5.5%), school children (4.8%) and fast food outlets (4.7%).

The level of litter was improving however, with 12.3% of areas surveyed considered litter free, compared to 12.2% in 2013.

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly said people needed to take individual responsibilty for litter.

“Smokers in particular, in light of the results announced today, need to make every effort to dispose of cigarette butts correctly at all times.”

An older cousin of our Earth Kepler 452B is discovered

   

An “older cousin” of Earth has been discovered orbiting a distant sun-like star more than 1,000 light years away.

The world is 60% larger than Earth and lies in the star’s “habitable zone” — the orbital region where temperatures are mild enough to be suitable for life.

No one knows if life has evolved on the planet, Kepler-452b. However, since the parent star is 1.5bn years older than the sun, any creatures living there could be far more advanced than they are on Earth.

That makes Kepler-452b a good candidate for scientists involved in the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (Seti).

On Tuesday, renowned physicist Stephen Hawking helped launch a new £64m (€90m) project to hunt for radio signals from alien civilisations.

Breakthrough Listen, funded by Russian internet billionaire Yuri Milner, will use two of the world’s most powerful radio telescopes to scour thousands of stars for intelligent transmissions over 10 years.

News of Kepler-452b’s discovery was released by astronomers operating the American space agency Nasa’s Kepler space telescope.

Jon Kenkins, from Nasa’s Ames Research Centre in California, said: “We can think of Kepler-452b as an older, bigger cousin to Earth, providing an opportunity to understand and reflect upon Earth’s evolving environment.

“It’s awe-inspiring to consider this planet has spent 6bn years in the habitable zone of its star; longer than Earth,” said Dr Kenkins.

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Wednesday 18th February 2015

Ireland ‘ignored EC advice’ to stop economy overheating

 

Marco Buti and Dónal Donovan speak at Banking Inquiry. Dónal Donovan, the former Deputy Director at the IMF, appears before the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry.

Ireland ignored advice from the European Commission to take measures to prevent the economy overheating prior to the banking collapse, according to the commission’s director general for economic and financial affairs.

Marco Buti said the commission issued a critical opinion on the 2001-2003 stability programme highlighting Ireland’s failing to contain its public expenditure.

He said the commission also recommended that the Government be asked to take countervailing measures on February 12th, 2001.

“As some of you may remember, the recommendation was not very well received in Ireland; it was not implemented,” Mr Buti told the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry.

“Also many in the economic profession derided the Commission accusing us of focussing more on decimals rather than acknowledging the strength of the Irish economy,” he added.

Ireland’s economy started to “overheat” in the early 2000s but Europe did not have the authority to enforce responsible budgetary policies at the time, Mr Buti said.

“At the time we had a very limited set of tools within the stability and growth pact,” he said. “We called on the Irish authorities to behave responsibly but we did not have the authority [to enforce this].”

He said he agreed with those who concluded that the domestic financial supervisor did not acknowledge and address the risks associated with the credit and housing boom.

Mr Buti said economic growth became increasingly reliant on construction in the 2000s. Interest rates had declined and access to credit increased with Ireland’s entry into the EMU, which helped trigger a boom in investment and commercial property.

“House price inflation surged in Ireland. It rose by more than four-fold between 1993 and 2007, amongst the highest of any advanced economies,” Mr Buti said. “The supply of housing also rose sharply, but eventually beyond the needs of the population. The idea that house prices would increase forever turned into a recurrent and dangerous motive,” he added.

He said expansionary budgets negatively affected the Irish economy. Revenues became overly reliant on the property market but a shrinking tax base due to tax cuts left the budget exposed to the downturn in the property market.

He said “we saw the risks related to the housing market and we signalled that in a number of documents”. He said the commission used the tools at its disposal at the time to “ring the bell” but he added that this set of tools was “incomplete”.

Later the committe heard that the International Monetary Fund’s surveillance programme failed in Ireland during the years 2000 to 2007.

Former deputy director of the IMF Dónal Donovan said although the organisation noted some vulnerabilities in Ireland during the time leading up to the banking collapse, its assessments “gave no inkling” that a financial disaster was in the making.

He said the IMF got it more badly wrong in Ireland than he had seen in any other country. “I cannot recall in my experience a situation where the rosy picture turned so negatively in such a short period of time.”

Mr Donovan told the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry assessment of Ireland’s and other countries’ economies during this time were “overly positive”.

He said the IMF did believe house prices were “somewhat overvalued” during the construction boom but added that IMF staff and Irish officials implicitly “agreed to differ” over this question.

Enterprise Ireland-backed firms to create 1,500 new jobs

New report states

 

State body supported 81 early stage businesses last year.

A total of 43 new female-led start-ups were supported by Enterprise Ireland last year, the highest number ever

As many as 1,500 new jobs are expected to be created over the next three years by start-up companies backed by Enterprise Ireland, according to a new report from the State agency.

Enterprise Ireland said it supported 102 so-called High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) companies last year. A high-potential start-up is defined as a company that is export oriented, focused on technological innovation and likely to achieve growth of at least €1million per annum over a three-year period, and led by an experienced team.

The majority of the firms to be backed by Enterprise Ireland were in areas such as software and services, cleantech, engineering, medical devices and pharmaceuticals.

The State body said it also backed 81 new early stage businesses under its Competitive Start Fund, which provides seed funding for start-ups.

A total of 43 new female-led start-ups were supported by Enterprise Ireland last year, the highest number ever. The number of female-led firms to receive funding more than doubled 16 in 2012 to 41 in 2013 on the back of a number of women-specific initiatives. Additional programmes launched last year included the development of a dedicated female accelerator programme and the launch of Enterprise Ireland’s first peer-to-peer online networking platform for female-led companies.

Sixteen of the firms to receive funding last year were spun out of third-level institutions, compared to ten in 2013.

Twelve new food and drinks start-ups received backing last year, the highest number ever.

In addition, 14 new start-ups established by entrepreneurs from overseas, involving a range of sectors and with founders who have moved to Ireland to establish their businesses from Singapore, India, Switzerland and Germany.

Elderly Donegal woman faces 250km journey for cancer treatment

  

An 89-year old cancer patient has been forced to find her own way to travel 250km to receive cancer treatment.

The elderly woman, from North Donegal, contacted a local charity which operates a volunteer bus service transporting cancer patients the four-hour journey to Galway or Dublin.

Donegal has no specialist cancer care services, leaving people diagnosed with cancer to travel significant distances for radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

The woman, who do not want her name published, sought help from Eamonn McDevitt, and runs the cancer bus service entirely on donations.

“We have a saying in our charity that, if you’re diagnosed with cancer in Donegal, you’ve two options: you can travel, or you can die,” Mr McDevitt said.

“The lady contacted us to say she has to go to Galway for treatment.

“Believe it or not, the husband is still driving, and while he’s not able to drive to Galway, he said he would be able to drive (20 miles) to Letterkenny to meet up with the bus.

“They don’t have a family, it’s just themselves.”

Mr McDevitt criticised the Irish Cancer Society which, he said, had never provided funding for the charity bus service because, he said: “They don’t (fund) buses”.

“We’re very disappointed with the Irish Cancer Society,” said Mr McDevitt.

“They come to Donegal every year and they do what’s called a ‘Relay for Life’.

“It’s a fundraiser and they announced before Christmas that they picked up €820,000 here in Donegal alone.

“We’ve have talked to them in the hope they might give us something, and each time they have come straight out and tell us they ‘don’t do buses’.”

As part of a detailed statement the Irish Cancer Society said: “In 2015, we will fund a number of…local cancer groups with over €500,000 of direct financial support for their services.

“What these groups have in common is that they are affiliated to the Irish Cancer Society’s network of cancer groups and have signed up to a shared code of practice for good governance.

“This gives us confidence that we can stand over any funds we redistribute to support our vision of a future without cancer.”

“We invited (Mr McDevitt’s charity) to become part of this network and they have chosen not to engage.

“They are aware that this is the first step to take when seeking funds from the Society. It remains open to (them) to join the affiliated network of cancer support groups and seek funding through this mechanism.”

The Irish Cancer Society said it would “not compromise” on its policy of providing funds to affiliated local cancer services.

One third of DNA-tested pork ‘not sourced in Ireland’

Is very misleading 

  

The Irish Farmers’ Association has created a pig DNA database through which pork products can be traced back to the individual animal

Almost a third of pork meat products tested in an Irish Farmers’ Association survey were not of Irish origin, even though they were sold as Irish produce.

The IFA carries out DNA testing on pork as part of its “DNA-certified pig meat traceability programme”.

A total of 91 retail pork products were subjected to DNA tests in December and 26 of those checked (29%) were not assigned to the Irish boar database.

The IFA said the “misleading of consumers remains a serious issue”.

Its national pigs and pig meat committee chairman, Pat O’Flaherty, said the Republic of Ireland was the “first country in the world” to introduce a nationwide DNA traceability programme for pork.

‘Informed choice’

He said boar stud farms on both sides of the Irish border had signed up to the Republic’s DNA database.

“We can test any pig meat and tell if the daddy was Irish or not,” Mr O’Flaherty said.

The County Kildare-based pig farmer has worked in the industry for 15 years and believes consumers should be given an “informed choice” when buying food, as production standards vary greatly from country to country.

He said the IFA introduced its DNA-certified pig meat traceability programme about two years ago “to stop the blatant misleading of consumers”.

Mr O’Flaherty said food suppliers had a wider responsibility to be honest and transparent with consumers on how and where their food is produced

Its most recent set of tests were carried out at shops in Wexford, Galway, Cork and Cavan.

In every store surveyed, an IFA representative posed as a shopper and asked the salesperson to confirm if the pork products on display were Irish goods.

“Not one butcher admitted that the products were imported,” Mr O’Flaherty said.

“We are horrified that fresh pork is being imported into this country. This is a new development and one which the consumer would never expect”.

‘Labelling fraud’

The IFA has a vested interest in promoting Irish farmers’ goods above all others, but Mr O’Flaherty said there is a wider responsibility to be honest and transparent with consumers on how and where their food is produced.

He said there was nothing to stop imported food from being labelled as “produced in Ireland” even if it was only processed or packaged in the Republic, which he felt was misleading to customers who want to buy Irish goods.

He said most Irish consumers knew little or nothing about food production regulations in some of the countries they were unwittingly buying meat from.

Mr O’Flaherty also complained about the lack of prosecutions for food labelling fraud in the Republic of Ireland and said rules must be tightened to promote greater consumer confidence in the food chain.

The BBC asked the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) about the latest pig meat survey results but a spokeswoman said her organisation had no involvement in the IFA’s testing process and could not comment on the findings.

‘Horsemeat scandal’

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin has called on the European Union to introduced mandatory ‘country of origin’ labelling for processed meats.

The party’s Dublin MEP, Lynn Boylan, was among a group that brought forward a resolution to the EU Parliament last week, calling on the European Commission to propose new food labelling legislation.

“We should not wait for another scandal on the scale of the horsemeat scandal before we act on this issue. Consistent studies have shown that the vast majority of consumers want this labelling,” Ms Boylan said.

Penguins are not able to taste fish,

Says a new study

  

Penguins may love devouring fish, but it turns out they might not be able to taste them.

While analyzing the genetic data of five penguins, each of a different species, researchers at the University of Michigan discovered that all the birds were missing three of the five basic taste genes. “Based on genetic data, penguins are believed to have sour and salty tastes, but have lost sweet, umami, and bitter tastes,” researcher Jianzhi Zhang told the BBC, adding that the birds likely lost these taste genes when they evolved millions of years ago.

Zhang said that penguins may be unique in this deficiency. He told the HuffPost that “no other bird is known to have lost three tastes. As far as we know, most birds have both umami and bitter taste receptor genes.” Most, however, cannot taste sweetness.

Without this ability to taste umami, or a savory, meaty flavor, it’s possible that penguins — who are also believed to lack taste buds on their tongues — are unable to taste the seafood that makes up their diet.

“Penguins eat fish, so you would guess that they need the umami receptor genes, but for some reason they don’t have them,” Zhang said in a news release. “These findings are surprising and puzzling, and we do not have a good explanation for them. But we have a few ideas.”

The researchers speculate that the cold environments in which penguins evolved may have played a role in their changing tastes, as the taste receptors for sweet, umami and bitter are said to function poorly in cold temperatures.

Still, though it might strike some as odd that a carnivorous animal can’t taste meat — or perhaps anything at all, given penguins’ reduction in taste function both at an anatomical and sensory level — researchers say that a lack of taste is likely not such a big deal for the birds: penguins swallow their food without chewing.

“Their behavior of swallowing food whole, and their tongue structure and function, suggest that penguins need no taste perception,” said Zhang, “although it is unclear whether these traits are a cause or a consequence of their major taste loss.”

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Wednesday 24th December 2014

Ireland’s emigrant tide is still high? but it is starting to turn

  

Senan and Caimin O’Brien from Monaghan give their dad Ger a hug after he arrived back for a Christmas break from serving in Afghanistan.

Fewer left Ireland in 2014 than in previous three years

The tide of emigration has turned, with fewer people leaving Ireland during 2014 than at any time in the last three years.

As emigrants flock home for Christmas, Central Statistics Office figures show that 81,900 people left Ireland in the 12 months to April 2014, down from the recession high of 89,000 the previous year.

Net emigration of Irish nationals – obtained when you subtract the number who returned from the number who left – also fell by 17% in the year to 29,200.

And detailed figures obtained from key emigrant destinations also reveal that the flood of Irish citizens abroad has finally started to abate.

The number of young people heading to Australia on working visas has seen a particular decline with 9,392 Irish people resident there on these visas in June 2014, compared with 15,845 a year earlier, Australian immigration figures show.

The number of people heading to Britain to work also declined by 1pc to 16,370 in the 2013/14 tax year, according to UK government figures on the number of national insurance numbers issued to new arrivals.

In the US, meanwhile, there were 19,245 immigrants from Ireland in 2013, about 1,000 fewer than the previous year. This included 1,376 permanent residents and 17,869 temporary workers, according to Department of Homeland Security figures which include some visa renewals.

The temporary immigrants from Ireland included 3,581 workers in specialty occupations, 1,425 people with extraordinary abilities or achievements, 1,148 athletes or artists, and 6,418 people who were transferred there for work.

Canada continued to be a mecca for many Irish workers, with 6,306 temporary workers going there in 2013 and another 1,013 permanent residents. During the first six months of 2014 another 2,528 temporary workers went there under Canada’s International Mobility Programme.

New Zealand continues to attract many Irish people with 4,842 working visas issued to Irish people in 2013-14 and 1,308 long-term arrivals, although this was down 23% on the previous year.

The National Youth Council of Ireland welcomed the reduction in the number of young people leaving Ireland, but said the figures were still extremely high, and many of those leaving were highly skilled and educated.

“As the economy starts to show signs of economic recovery, the development of a strategy on return migration is essential to remove barriers to return and to support, facilitate and indeed welcome emigrants back,” said NYCI policy officer Marie Claire McAleer. “We hope the forthcoming Government policy on the diaspora will have a focus on facilitating return migration and responding to the needs of young Irish emigrants abroad,” she said.

Difficulties highlighted by the NYCI include issues for emigrants getting their credit history or car insurance record recognised here when they return.

Minister of State for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan is developing a package of measures it is believed will include the right to vote in Irish presidential elections for emigrants.

CSO figures show that while 81,900 people left Ireland in the past year, some 60,600 people returned or moved here from other countries, meaning that net migration from the country – including all nationalities – has fallen by 35% to 21,400 people.

The numbers travelling to most key destinations were also down, with a 50% fall in the numbers going to Australia, an 11% drop to Canada, and an 18% drop to Britain.

Meanwhile:-

a real life story for the blogger Donie:-

The Blogger Donie photos his best friend and daughter Elaine’s return from Vancouver, Canada, for Christmas at Dublin airport with a big smile last Friday the 19th December for her father Donal and brother Enda.

Elaine orginal airport arrival  Elaine airport arrival

This is the sight that many of Ireland’s parents have to experience this Christmas and many other occasions of festive activity in Ireland for the last 5-6 years of emigration from foreign lands.

Elaine emigrated to Vancouver, a beautiful and much popular city for the Irish in Canada during the middle of our recession in Ireland in 2013. Elaine left our green isle with the intention of getting some work experience abroad in any field she could find. She had employment in Galway at the time of emigrating, but she wanted to get rid of her itch at 25 years of age to test the waters and see what horisons lay abroad for her.

Elaine has qualification in Archaeology from the College of Technology IT Sligo,  since 2011 but like many’s an Irish Student of the 2005 – 2012 years and with the recession taking hold and jobs in the building industry drying up and no developments and investments by the Irish Government in the infrastructure of the country and house building at a standstill the only way to go was emigration.

The real question is can we trust our current Irish coalition Government to create enough jobs in all trades and industries within the island of Ireland in the next 3-4 years or so, enough and sufficient employment opportunities that entices our Sons and Daughters to return back with their working qualifications and enhanced experiences from abroad, this to build our great wee country of ours to the State that we aspire to and stop the hemorrhaging of our best talent to other countries.

It is my dream as a proud Irishman and father to see that this so called label and cancer of our nationality of being the “nurturing nation of the worlds talent and building other nation’s” is extinguished for now and ever. 

Eat your Brussel sprouts because the little green round ball of super-food?

Has cancer-fighting potential

  

Your Christmas vegetables like the Brussel Sprout could be giving you more than you bargained for, as research finds that the famously unpopular Brussel sprout could help prevents cancer. 

The little nutrient-dense powerhouses could prevent cancer according to research

If you’re looking for a nutrient-dense powerhouse, look no further than the common Brussel sprout.

The tiny green cruciferous vegetable is packed with vitamins and minerals and has even been linked to cancer prevention.

In fact, just one cup of the smelly food contains 240% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin K1 and nearly 130% of your daily vitamin C intake.

The superfoods are also a great source of fibre, manganese, potassium, choline, and B vitamins.

But the most exciting property of Brussels sprouts is their antioxidants and other phytochemicals have been proven to fight chronic diseases, including cancer.

Brussels sprouts contain sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates, which your body uses to make isothiocyanates.

This activates a cancer-fighting enzyme system in your body, according to a report in the journal Carcinogenesis.

The little green balls of fibre and nutrients have been linked to the prevention of a number of cancers, including colon and ovarian cancer.

And a study even found that compounds in Brussels sprouts may trigger pre-cancerous cells to commit suicide – which suggests adding more of this superfood to your diet could be a powerful anti-cancer strategy.

Another study where men ate about 1.5 cups of Brussels sprouts daily for five weeks found that they had a 28% decrease in DNA damage.

And researchers concluded that the “consumption of cruciferous vegetables (including Brussels sprouts) may result in a decreased cancer risk.”

While all of the cruciferous veggies are known for their cancer-fighting powers, Brussels sprouts have been shown to contain even greater amounts of glucosinolates than cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli.

So now you have even more reasons to tuck into the tasty green treats this is offered on your Christmas plate this festive Season!

What’s the limit? Before you kill Santa Claus with a wee dram?

How many houses would Santa Claus have to visit before he died of alcohol poisoning?

  

Poor Father Christmas is going to die after he barely covers 20 houses?

Do you leave out a glass of whiskey for Santa on Christmas Eve? or don’t you not, are you killing him if you do?

Yes the NHS and drinkaware say that if your blood alcohol content is more than 0.4%, you’re at risk of death.

Santa Claus has to drink pretty quickly to make any ground?

Santa has to neck a shot of whiskey at pretty much every house he visits before he moves on. Because he moves extremely quickly to cover every house in the world, he has to do his shots at an alarmingly fast rate, leaving no time for his body to process the alcohol.

How many shots would it take to kill Santa?

We used this blood alcohol calculator to figure out when his blood alcohol got dangerously high, and it was after 19.2 shots.

To be honest, we would be worried about him driving his sleigh after visiting the first few houses, as after about 12 shots he would be suffering blackouts and amnesia, and his co-ordination, reaction time and balance would all be dangerously impaired.

Assuming he doesn’t fall off his sleigh, Santa, as he reached the 20th house, would lose consciousness and fall into a coma. His skin would be pale, he would have been vomiting and having seizures and have irregular breathing.

What does this mean for us?

Only 20 houses will get Christmas presents this year, unless Dad stops leaving out whiskey for Santa.

Leave out some carrots for the reindeer, sure, but maybe even leave out the biscuits and the mince pies- Santa is quite overweight and already at risk from type-2 diabetes.

Enterprise Ireland planning exploratory visit to Iran in new year

  

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton

An Enterprise Ireland delegation is to visit Iran in the new year to scope out potential opportunities for exporters.

It will be the first visit by the agency in more than seven years.

The semi-state body tasked with helping to foster exporting companies will then draw up a strategy to help support companies that want to explore the market further.

But Enterprise Minister Richard Bruton said there were no plans for a trade mission to Iran next year.

“Due to the EU sanctions that have been in place, Enterprise Ireland has not considered Iran a focus market for some time and has concentrated all efforts on developing opportunities in other more accessible Middle Eastern markets,” the minister said, in response to a parliamentary question from Sinn Fein’s Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.

“Commercial conditions currently remain quite adverse and most international banks will not offer standard financial tools to facilitate trade with Iran.

“However, with the possible lifting of some sanctions and in recognition of the potential represented by the Iranian market, Enterprise Ireland are planning to carry out an exploratory visit to the market during the early part of 2015, the first visit by the agency to this market in over seven years, to investigate opportunities in different sectors.”

The value of exports to Iran last year totalled €57m, with the main products sold including soft drink concentrate and medical and pharmaceutical products.

Iran sold Ireland just under €1m worth of goods, including vegetables and fruit.

In July, the then Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore said it was too costly to have a diplomatic representation in Iran.

Are ants ‘left-handed’? Insects that prefer exploring new surroundings by turning in a specific direction

 

The behaviour was also recorded when the ants were put in mazes, although was bias initially hidden by ants’ typical wall-following behaviour

Why ants may have this preference for the left remains unknown. Ants may use left eye to detect predators and their right to navigate

Every human has a strong preference when choosing which hand to write with, and even crows have even been found to have a favoured side when using their beak as a tool.

Now new evidence suggests that ants tend to turn left when exploring new surroundings.

A study has found that the insects are significantly more likely to turn left than right when exploring new nests.+3

In the experiment, a directional choice for left or right was determined if an ant remained within a body’s width of the wall closest to the entrance, for half the wall’s length; otherwise its choice was recorded as ‘other’. The route of a specific ant within the manmade maze is illustrated here

This behaviour was also recorded when Temnothorax albipennis, or rock ants, were put in mazes, although this preference was initially obscured by ants’ typical wall-following behaviour.

Why ants may have this bias for the left remains unknown although biologist Edmund Hunt, who was involved in the University of Bristol study, told Phys.org: ‘The ants may be using their left eye to detect predators and their right to navigate. Also, their world is maze-like and consistently turning one way is a very good strategy to search and exit mazes.’

In the study, ant colonies were placed in a large square Petri dish, which acted as a ‘nest’, measuring 23cm by 23cm.

The colony’s nest entrance was opposite that of an unknown nest.3

The colony’s nest entrance was opposite that of an unknown nest. All starting nests were of the same dimensions as the unknown nest in the experiment. Exploration was encouraged by removing a temporary cardboard cover from the starting nest to increase its light level and make it less attractive to the ants

The unknown nest was darker than the starting nest – making it more attractive to the ants as they lives in dark rock crevices in the wild.

Scientists stimulated exploration of the unknown nest in the experiment by destroying the starting nest.

After ants had explored and exited the new nest, they were removed to a separate holding dish until the end of the experiment to prevent them from participating in a second trial.

After each ant exploration, a new wall was put in place to prevent the accumulation of ant pheromones – chemical messengers – that could affect an ant’s choice of direction.

LEFT OR RIGHT-BEAKED? HOW CROWS HAVE PREFERENCES TOO

Researchers studying New Caledonia crows have discovered that crows display a preference for holding a stick tool on a certain side of their beaks – and this could be to make the most of their wide field of vision.3

Caw-blimey! Experts believe a crow’s preference helps them maximise their field of vision

Researchers believe the birds may be trying to keep the tip of the stick in view of the eye on the opposite side of their heads, so they can see clearly in order to use tools in the most dexterous way.

Lead scientist Dr Alejandro Kacelnik, from Oxford University, said: ‘If you were holding a brush in your mouth and one of your eyes was better than the other at brush length, you would hold the brush so that its tip fell in view of the better eye.

 This is what the crows can do.’

New Caledonian crows have surprised experts with their ability to use sticks to extract larvae from burrows and, in captivity, retrieve food placed out of reach.

Scientists at the Language, Culture and Cognition lab at the University of Auckland have been studying the intelligence of tool-making New Caledonian crows for over 10 years.

They have shown that crows can use tools to solve eight problems in a row.

A directional choice for left or right was determined if an ant remained within a body’s width of the wall closest to the entrance, for half the wall’s length; otherwise its choice was recorded as ‘other’.

In the experiment the ants overwhelmingly chose to turn left, as opposed to right, when exploring the new nest.

Regional brain specialisation of tasks has been observed a in many animal species and is beneficial since it allows animals to carry out two tasks simultaneously without sacrificing efficiency.

For instance, a right eye/left brain hemisphere bias for identifying prey, and a left eye/right brain hemisphere bias for predator detection and escape, are reported in fish and lizards, among other vertebrates.

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Thursday 10th July 2014

Enterprise Ireland firms commit to creating over 3,750 jobs

  

Julie Sinnamon, (right picture) chief executive of the State agency charged with helping Irish businesses grow their exports. 

Agency clients exported products worth €17.1 billion last year, up 8%.

Companies supported by Enterprise Ireland have committed to creating 3,755 jobs so far this year, many of them in the food sector, it emerged yesterday. The commitments over the first six months, which were up 20% on the same period of 2013, were made within business plans submitted to Enterprise Ireland, with such plans usually covering a three-year period.

Julie Sinnamon, chief executive of the State agency charged with helping Irish businesses to grow their exports, said the food sector is in expansion mode as it pre-empts the end of the milk quota system next year. She said this meant the “brakes were off” for many companies in the area, with a boost in activity also rooted in the likely impact of forthcoming changes to state aid rules.

M/s Sinnamon was speaking at the launch of Enterprise Ireland’s annual report for 2013, which showed that the agency’s client companies grew exports by 8% to €17.1 billion last year, with the strongest increase (20%) recorded in sales to the Asia/Pacific region.

Food accounted for 55% of total exports in 2013, growing by 9.6%, or €830 million, over the 12 months.

M/s Sinnamon described last year’s performance by Enterprise Ireland companies as “tremendous” and said Purchasing Managers’ Index data pointed to a positive outcome for this year too. The PMI was the first indicator that had suggested “things were going south” as the economy headed into recession, she said.

The 2013 report also confirmed earlier data showing that Enterprise Ireland companies created a net 5,442 jobs during 2013, the biggest increase in a decade. At the end of the year, according to the agency, its clients were supporting more than 300,000 jobs, either directly or indirectly, in the economy.

“These figures are really impressive,” said Richard Bruton, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the launch, adding that the 2013 performance was “well ahead of what was happening in world markets”.

Enterprise Ireland took in dividends of €3 million from companies in which it held investments over 2103, marking a 65% increase on 2012. The agency had also been due to collect €2.2 million in dividends from companies that were liquidated or dissolved during the year, while some €11 million was written off on such ventures.

“As a development agency, you have to accept there will always be a level of failure in start-up,” said Ms Sinnamon, describing the total as “a low level of write-offs”. Many would argue the agency should be prepared to take greater risks with “disruptive” investments that could win or lose to a greater extent, she said.

She also said the State needs to grow its population of middle-sized companies to allow more firms to achieve scale internationally.

Enterprise Ireland data suggests that for every 10 jobs created in an Irish exporting company, 13 additional jobs are created elsewhere in the economy, through supply or service relationships. These Irish firms account for €20.28 billion in domestic spending, according to the same analysis.

The annual report details 18 minister-led trade missions organised by Enterprise Ireland last year and attendance at a further 67 international events, with more than 1,000 client companies involved. The agency opened offices in Istanbul in Turkey and in the US city of Austin, Texas.

It also brought more than 1,100 “targeted” international buyers to Ireland to meet client companies and established a new sourcing team to help clients to win a greater share of the procurement spends of multinationals operating here.

New Tanaiste Joan Burton wants the Jobs Ministry from Fine Gael

  

Joan Burton celebrates becoming Labour Party leader with her daughter Aoife Carroll after the count at the Mansion House in Dublin yesterday. 

NEW Tanaiste Joan Burton will demand concessions for low-paid working families when she goes into fresh coalition talks with Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Ms Burton will also trade off the European Commissioner’s post in negotiations on the carve-up of cabinet posts.

The new Labour leader wants her party to secure the jobs portfolio, currently held by Fine Gael’s Richard Bruton, and will fight hard for it.

Fine Gael wants the EU position, with Environment Minister Phil Hogan strongly indicating last night that he will be leaving his department in the reshuffle.

Joan Burton elected as new Labour Party leader

Joan Burton won the Labour leadership by a huge margin, gaining 77.5% of the vote compared with the 22.5% secured by her only rival Alex White.

With a cabinet reshuffle now just days away, speculation about new faces is intensifying. Labour senator Ivana Bacik is being linked with a dramatic elevation to the Cabinet.

Fine Gael’s Paschal Donohoe is being tipped to take over the high-profile junior finance ministry.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan is said to be keen to have him in his department.

And defeated Labour leadership candidate Alex White is uncertain of a full Cabinet post, but is viewed as a possible super junior minister, who sits at the Cabinet table.

Labour’s new deputy leader Alan Kelly is a certainty for Cabinet, possibly in the Jobs, Education or Communications portfolio.

Labour’s Kathleen Lynch is also a favourite for promotion to Cabinet level.

After securing a huge mandate in the Labour leadership race, taking more than three-quarters of the votes, Ms Burton will meet with Taoiseach Enda Kenny on Monday to discuss the new shape of the Coalition.

Alongside the reshuffle, the Government is expected to relaunch the Programme for Government.

Ms Burton immediately insisted on the setting up of an independent body, which would make recommendations to the Government on pay for lower earners.

The Low Pay Commission would examine whether the minimum wage should be increased and other related issues.

She indicated that wage changes will form part of a “renewed set of policy priorities” which she will present to the Taoiseach.

Ms Burton also renewed her calls for the introduction of a ‘living wage’ – a system that operates in London and aims to ensure that workers can afford to cover basic needs such as food and housing.

Fine Gael ministers have voiced their opposition to prioritising wage increases as they will create a barrier to job creation and damage competitiveness.

Ms Burton also said the issue of housing will form the basis of a major focus now that she is Tanaiste.

Over the weekend, advisers to Mr Kenny and Ms Burton are expected to be in contact on the new Coalition deal.

Mr Kenny’s staff and Ms Burton’s aides were already using back-channels over recent weeks to tease out each other’s positions.

The parties have identified housing, mortgage arrears, political reform, including the justice sector, and tax, including low pay, as the priorities as well as jobs.

After her comprehensive victory, Ms Burton said the Coalition had in the past governed “too much with the head and not enough with the heart”.

Meanwhile, Mr Kelly said Labour wanted to pick Ireland’s next European Commissioner.

He said everything was up for grabs in terms of the looming reshuffle of senior Cabinet and ministerial posts, but also the position of commissioner.

Outgoing Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has increasingly been linked with the post in recent weeks.

But Mr Hogan is the long- believed frontrunner for the post and party colleagues say he appears to be increasingly confident.

Last night his officials said “the general feeling is that he will not return to this department either way” after the reshuffle.

Mr Kelly said he expected to be in Cabinet, where he would be an outspoken defender of “Labour values”.

Ms Burton said her predecessor, Eamon Gilmore, was “eminently well qualified” for Ireland’s EU Commissioner post. She refused to accept Fine Gael’s claims that the job will go to Environment Minister Phil Hogan.

Elderly people in Ireland ‘die’ waiting for home care funding

 

Older people have died while waiting for financial support under the Nursing Home Support Scheme, a study claims.

A survey of private and voluntary nursing homes by Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI) found that the delays were causing a deterioration in older people’s health.

The survey of 122 private and voluntary nursing homes, conducted earlier this month, involved the extraction of information on typical waiting times for Fair Deal applications. NHI said it showed there was a crisis in older person care that must be a priority for the Minister for Health. There were 96 homes that were collectively aware of 364 successful applicants awaiting financial support — about four persons for each facility. Over half of the nursing homes (51.6%) said waiting time exceeded 10 weeks and almost half (48.1%) said waiting time was 12 weeks or more.

One home in Leinster said it was aware of 29 successful Fair Deal applicants awaiting financial support.

A nursing home in the south said up to 20 persons were awaiting funding, while other nursing homes were aware of between seven and nine persons. The delays, according to the survey participants, is leading to extended, unnecessary hospital stays — some people had died waiting for financial support.

A nursing home in the west is aware of a family of a 92-year-old that had Fair Deal approval but opted to avail of the HSE’s home help scheme so the person could remain at home.

A year later, when the person needed to be in a nursing home, the family were told to make a fresh application for Fair Deal financial support.

The family now feels penalised for opting to provide care at home for a full year.

NHI chief executive, Tadhg Daly said their fears over the Budget 2014 cut in Fair Deal funding were being realised.

Shannon Airport records a 15% increase in passengers in first half of this year

  

Shannon Airport records 15% increase in passengers in the first half of the year.

Shannon Airport has recorded a 15% increase in terminal passenger numbers in the first half of the year, according to figures revealed at a joint Shannon Aiport-Ryanair Travel Clinic.

Passenger numbers on European routes have enjoyed a 54% uplift in the year to date.

This was partly driven by nine new Ryanair routes to Munich, Paris, Faro, Warsaw, Krakow, Nice, Poitiers, Berlin and Fuerteventura launched in April.

Overall, passenger numbers through the Shannon terminal in the first six months of the year were 653,894, up from 568,133 in the same period last year.

UK passengers are also showing a return to growth with a 5% increase, while transatlantic passengers increased by 11%.

“We are really happy with the passenger numbers so far this year,” Shannon Airport’s chief commercial officer Andrew Murphy said.

“We worked hard with our airline partners to secure the new services and there has been a really positive response from the public,” Mr Murphy added.

Irish-linked merger deals up 18.5% for 1st half of year

  

A spate of takeover activity in the pharmaceutical sector pushed Irish-related acquisition values to a 20-year high in the first half of 2014 and saw the country account for nearly 18% of European merger activity, in value terms.

New merger and acquisition & figures from global information Services Company, Experian show that the volume of Irish-related deals grew by 18.5%, year-on-year, in the first half, with 147 transactions agreed or concluded.

While the volume growth was seen as “steady progress”, the rise in combined deal value  from just €14.8bn in the first half of 2013 to €97.4bn this year — ranked as the highest half-yearly total recorded in the Republic since Experian’s survey began in 1993.

According to Declan Murphy, commercial director at Experian Ireland, the new figures make welcome reading for Irish deal-makers.

“The first half of the year saw encouraging activity across a wide range of sectors and value segments with pharmaceutical, IT and resource deals returning particularly strong results,” he added.

The two big pharma deals that drove first-half activity were Dublin firm, Actavis’s €18bn takeover of US company, Forest Laboratories and US firm, Medtronic’s agreed purchase of Dublin firm, Covidien for over €30bn.

The number of large deals — measured as being over €120m in value terms — grew by 83.3%, year-on-year, to 22.

Mid-market deals, or ones in the €12m-€120m price bracket, rose from 26 to 35. Meanwhile, there was a 63.2% increase in the number of small deals (with a value of less than €12m) to 31.

Every one of the three categories saw significant combined value increases, also.

Activity in the large deal category represented the busiest period in a decade.

In all, Ireland represented approximately 3.3% of the total volume of European merger and acquisition & activity during the first half of 2014 and accounted for 17.7% of total value.

The manufacturing sector represented more than 30% of all Irish-related deals in the first half, but still saw a 33% annualised decline in its volume of deals.

Offsetting this, transaction activity grew in areas like financial services, IT, mining and pharmaceuticals.

Chimpanzees raised by humans no cleverer than those raised by their mother’s

   

Chimps raised by humans are no more intelligent than those raised by their primate mothers, research shows

Chimpanzees raised by humans turn out to be no cleverer than those given an ape upbringing, research has shown.

Genes largely determine a chimp’s intelligence, a study has shown – and human intervention makes no difference to it at all.

Research into chimp intelligence could help scientists get a better handle on human IQ, say scientists.

This is because while genes also play a major role in human intelligence, factors such as schooling, home life, economic status, and the culture a person is born in complicate the picture.

Previous studies have suggested that genetics account for around a quarter to a half of variations in human intelligence.

The new research involving 99 chimpanzees from a wide range of ages showed that genes explained about 50% of the differences seen in their intelligence test scores.

Chimps raised by human caretakers did no better in the tasks than individuals brought up by their chimpanzee mothers.

Study leader Dr William Hopkins, from the Yerkes National Primate Research Center in Atlanta, US, said: ”Chimps offer a really simple way of thinking about how genes might influence intelligence without, in essence, the baggage of these other mechanisms that are confounded with genes in research on human intelligence.

”What specific genes underlie the observed individual differences in cognition is not clear, but pursuing this question may lead to candidate genes that changed in human evolution and allowed for the emergence of some human-specific specialisations in cognition.

”It is also intriguing to consider what changes in cortical organisation might be associated with individual differences in cognition and whether common genes might explain their common variance.”