Tag Archives: Recycling

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Sunday 21st August 2016

Ireland needs long-term vision but not higher taxes

Minister says he shares Taoiseach’s vision for a united Ireland


The Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar speaking at the Collins Griffith commemoration at Glasnavin Cemetery,

The Government needs to focus on building a social recovery and politicians should develop a long-term vision for the country, Minister for Social Protection Leo Varadkar has said.

Delivering the oration at the Collins/Griffith Commemoration in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin on Sunday, Mr Varadkar said increasing taxation would not be the solution to all of the country’s social deficits.

He said a “functioning tax system should both encourage business and reward individuals as well as providing for those who need protection.

“Increasing general taxation is not the solution to all of our social and problems and infrastructural deficits and increasing it too much creates a problem in itself,” he added.

“Collins recognised that ‘the essence of our struggle was to secure freedom to order our own life’. And that is the vision that should be at the heart of our thinking in the 21st century.

“We need to advance and expand the recovering economy so that more people are free to order their own life; they are free to achieve their ambitions and their dreams.”

The Minister said it is the role of the Government to make that happen and to “provide freedom and opportunity”. Mr Varadkar added: “Without economic freedom and prosperity we cannot have real independence.

“ And without freedom to order our own lives, any improvements in the economy will be meaningless.

“It is a difficult challenge. But it is achievable if we recognise that we need sound economic policies to achieve better living conditions for all our citizens and that social justice and inclusion, in turn, help to build a stronger more sustainable economy.

“A virtuous circle of sorts. Economic gains on their own, without a vision for society to accompany them, will result in a squandered prosperity that will ultimately be unsustainable. We had that during the boom years.

We must ensure that we do not have it again in the recovery years.”

In what is being perceived as a significant speech Mr Varadkar said the Government must build a true enterprise economy, where people are “rewarded for hard-work, innovation and excellence, and are supported, not hindered, by the state in providing for themselves and their families”.

He said a united Ireland can be achieved at some point in the future but not through a border poll. He said he shared “the vision of An Taoiseach that foresees a united Ireland at some point in the future, and I share his belief in how it should be achieved.

“Through respect and consent, by accepting the identity of the minority tradition and honouring their values by finding a special place for them to thrive, not through assimilation or the crude majoritarianism in a border poll,” Mr Varadkar said.

The issue of a border poll, a referendum on the future of Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom, emerged following the United Kingdom’s vote in June to leave the EU. Speaking at the MacGill summer school in Glenties Co Donegal in July, Mr Kenny departed from his prepared script to raise the prospect of a border poll at some point in the future. However he stressed that the conditions for such a vote did not exist at present, and he did not favour a vote at present.

In Glasnevin on Sunday, Mr Varadkar said: “The only way we will achieve real unity is by respecting the different traditions, identities and values on this island, not by trying to obliterate them.

“It was easy for some to jump on the Brexit result, and use it to make a land-grab for Northern Ireland. And it was counterproductive. Often the people who speak loudest about republican values, are the least when it comes to honouring them. The inclusive vision of Griffith is better than the opportunistic rhetoric of assimilation, and it is the only chance we have of securing lasting peace and achieving genuine unity on this island,” Mr Varadkar added.

The 94th annual commemoration remembered both Michael Collins andArthur Griffith. Collins, who served as minister for finance in the first Dáil in 1919 and who was a member of the Irish negotiating team and a signatory of the Anglo Irish Treaty, was shot dead in an ambush at Béal na mBláth in Cork on August 22nd, 1922. Griffith, founder of Sinn Féin and president of the Dáil from January to August 1922, died 10 days before Collins’s assassination and was buried at Glasnevin.

Bank of Ireland blames Europe for the new charges

Trend for charging firms for large deposits stems from low interest rates since the crash


Richie Boucher, chief executive of Bank of Ireland: the bank said its decision to charge large corporate and institutional customers for deposits is due to the European Central Bank’s decision to levy a negative interest rate of 0.4% on overnight deposits.

Richie Boucher has never been afraid to stand out from the crowd, which might explain Bank of Ireland’s decision to begin charging large corporate and institutional customers for holding deposits with the institution.

From October 10th, a rate of 0.1% will be charged to customers who hold deposits of €10 million or more with the bank or have multiple deposit accounts with it, regardless of the sums involved. It is thought to affect only a small number of customers.

Bank of Ireland has told customers that this is the result of the European Central Bank’s decision earlier this year to levy a negative interest rate of 0.4% on overnight deposits.

It turns out that Ulster Bank has been quietly charging large corporates in the Republic for holding deposits with the bank for some time now. This might have been its parent, Royal Bank of Scotland, testing the waters as it emerged on Friday that the institution plans to charge large corporates in the UK for their deposits from Monday.

And we know that some banks in Germany and other European countries have begun introducing negative interest rates.

This all stems from the ultra-low interest rate environment that we’ve been living with since the global financial crash in late 2008. Many central banks around the world are now charging negative interest rates in the hope of persuading investors and companies to put their money to other uses that might generate them a return and also stimulate economic activity.

It’s also a factor of the banks having ample access to liquidity at a time when lending in Ireland is sluggish. They arguably have too much money in their vaults at a time of muted lending demand.

Nonetheless, Bank of Ireland is setting itself out from AIB, its biggest rival in the Irish market. AIB, which is 99 per cent State owned, is not charging a negative interest rate on its deposits and says it has no plans to do so.

Will those corporates affected by the Bank of Ireland charge switch to AIB? Possibly but a lot will depend on the nature of the business relationship between the bank and the customer. It will certainly encourage them to interrogate their banking arrangements in some detail and possibly rationalise their accounts.

The fear among the business community is that this might be a slippery slope to the banks eventually charging us all for the privilege of housing our deposits with them. This seems unlikely in the case of personal customers, given the political storm that would most likely erupt given that taxpayers bailed out the sector to the tune of €64 billion.

But SMEs might yet find themselves in the firing line if the ECB’s effort to stimulate European economies continues to yield meagre results.

Galway leading the way on recycling


Galway has embraced electronic and electrical waste recycling and leads the way in Ireland.

Galway city and county is embracing the world of recycling by almost doubling the targets set by the EU for electrical and battery waste.

In all, over 1,850 tonnes of electrical waste was collected throughout the county for recycling – adding to Ireland’s growing reputation as a recycling champion.

An average of more than eight electrical items were collected for recycling from every household in the city and county in 2015 – that’s a 17% increase on the previous year.

That 1,850 tonnes works out at an average of 7kg of electrical waste being recycled per person in Galway in 2015, almost double the original EU target of 4kg per head, according to the latest figures from WEEE Ireland released this week.

And approximately 75% of Galway householders are now actively recycling their electrical and battery waste.

Irish consumers are now recycling 15% more than they did four years ago – putting the country on top of the EU table.

Over 250 tonnes of electrical waste came from WEEE Ireland collections days that were held throughout the whole county.

WEEE Ireland collected approximately thirteen million household appliances for recycling in 2015 alone.

Irish retailers account for over half of the waste collected showing a significant increase documented in the twelve-month period from 2014 to 2015.  This means that Ireland has the highest percentage take-back through retailers in the EU.

WEEE Ireland’s report also shows that an equivalent to 28 million AA batteries and three million lamps were collected for recycling during 2015.

“These results are hugely encouraging and show that Irish householders and retailers alike are well ahead of other European countries when it comes to recycling. Ireland can proudly say that more than any other EU country we have taken a lead in this area,” said WEEE Ireland CEO Leo Donovan.

WEEE Ireland also noted a number of recycling challenges. These included the fact that only 25% of small electrical and electronic waste items are being recycled.

Toys, tools, small appliances, energy saving light bulbs and portable batteries are being either hoarded or sent to the landfill, and this is where householders can make a real difference keeping recyclables out of refuse.

New study casts doubt on concept of ‘healthy obesity’


New research has indicated that previous assumptions that it is possible to be obese while remaining otherwise healthy may not be accurate.

The Karolinska Institutet study provided evidence that white fat tissue samples from obese individuals classified as either metabolically healthy or unhealthy showed nearly identical abnormal changes in gene expression in response to insulin stimulation.

Recent estimates suggest that up to 30% of obese individuals are metabolically healthy and therefore may need less vigorous interventions to prevent obesity-related complications. High sensitivity to insulin which promotes the uptake of blood glucose into cells to be used for energy, is considered a hallmark of metabolically healthy obesity.

However, this new research casts fresh doubt on whether any such thing exists, indicating that insulin-sensitive obese people may not be as metabolically healthy as previously believed.

Mikael Ryden of the Karolinska Institutet said: “The findings suggest that vigorous health interventions may be necessary for all obese individuals, even those previously considered to be metabolically healthy.”

Researchers will now examine the outcomes of these patients following bariatric surgery to determine whether weight loss normalises their responses to insulin.

This Bosnian pine tree in Greece is Europe’s oldest known living tree

An ancient Bosnian pine, nicknamed Adonis by researchers, has been dated to about 1,075 years old, making it the oldest known tree living in Europe. 


European history has had one continuous observer for more than a thousand years: a pine tree in Greece.

Dendrochronologists have calculated the tree’s age to be at least 1,075 years old, making it the oldest tree in Europe. This little pine, nicknamed “Adonis,” has seen world wars, a century of revolutions, the Protestant Reformation, the Crusades, and a good chunk of the Dark Ages.

“The tree we have stumbled across is a unique individual,” said Stockholm University graduate student Paul J. Krusic, according to the Washington Post. “It cannot rely on a mother plant, or the ability to split or clone itself, to survive.”

He’s referring to trees that repeatedly clone themselves, so a tree living now is genetically identical to one living more than 10,000 years ago. Tree systems like those have been called the oldest trees in the world, but the individual trees live only a few hundred years before asexually spawning a replacement clone.

This tree has, itself, lived through more than a thousand years of history.

“Cloning is a very effective evolutionary survival strategy,” said Mr. Krusic. “It’s cool, but it’s not the same. It’s not the same as you or I being left alone to our own devices and living for 1,000 years, like this tree.”

Some other trees have been estimated to be a lot older than Adonis, but therein lies the rub. Estimation does not make an ancient tree, at least in the eyes of scientists. This tiny tree creates one new trunk ring each year, making it comparatively easy for scientists to determine its age.

According to Mr. Krusic, who was part of the team that counted tree rings for the study, Adonis is actually more than 1,075 years old. The scientists who took the pencil-sized core samples from Adonis’ tree trunk didn’t reach the center of the tree, so it has more rings that they couldn’t count.

“I am impressed, in the context of western civilization, all the human history that has surrounded this tree; all the empires, the Byzantine, the Ottoman, all the people living in this region,” Krusic said, according to Phys.org. “So many things could have led to its demise. Fortunately, this forest has been basically untouched for over a thousand years.”

Elderly trees are rare in Europe, although they are relatively common in other parts of the world, including the United States. The reason has a lot to do with humans – the more human traffic there is in a region, the more likely a tree is to be chopped down for a human purpose, whether firewood or construction or to make room for development.

In Greece, Adonis and its neighbors are just a few miles from civilization, making their survival all the more unusual. Their proximity is very interesting to researchers, who plan to study fallen trees nearby to determine the what fingerprints humans have left on the region.

“That has a story in it. A story about climate change, about human influences,” said Krusic, according to the Washington Post. “That’s the real story we’re working on. This is just something we stumbled upon.”

Scientists say that many of the trees in the ancient Greek forest where Adonis was discovered are remniscent of elderly trees they have seen in the United States. And, as it happens, Adonis lives in nature’s version of a retirement home – several of Adonis’ neighbors are also around 1,000 years old.

Elsewhere, scientists are using trees to push back against human influence. In 2009, The Christian Science Monitor’s Andy Nelson reported on dendrochronologists in Vietnam, who use wood dating in ancient Vietnamese forests to monitor how forests have responded to monsoon seasons and precipitation.

“It’s not simply that we want to understand the rules of the climate system…. We want to understand how those rules interact,” said tree researcher Kevin Anchukaitis in 2009. “In chess, each move that a player makes in the game is going to influence the subsequent move, so there are long-term consequences of each individual move.”

More recently, in California, researchers seeking to understand how trees can combat drought and climate change have looked to the state’s famed sequoia trees, which have withstood extreme conditions while performing essential services to the environment, providing homes for countless animals and converting carbon dioxide into oxygen.


News Ireland daily BLOG byDonie

Saturday 19th March 2016

The housing shortage ‘will cost Ireland key jobs’ warn business leaders


Thousands of new jobs are at risk of being lost to Ireland because of the housing crisis, business leaders warned.

Representative bodies and business owners have urged the appointment of a dedicated housing minister by any new government to tackle the severe lack of accommodation which is stunting job creation.

While many Irish businesses are now looking to expand and multinational companies are seeking to lure staff on secondment from other countries, the major shortage of housing, coupled with soaring rents, is preventing job growth.

The owner of Cork-based multinational outsourcing company Voxpro said he may be forced to divert hundreds of new positions away from Ireland due to major housing shortages.

Voxpro chief executive Dan Kiely said small businesses looking to expand and global companies hoping to set up bases here are being limited by a lack of accommodation for staff.

“We want to do the best for Cork and deliver as many jobs as we can in the next three years, but the housing situation will affect the numbers we employ,” said Mr Kiely.

“If we don’t tackle this, then businesses like Voxpro will be looking to places outside of Dublin and Cork.

Last October, Paypal, with offices in Dublin and Dundalk, urged workers to rent spare rooms to new employees to help with a rental accommodation shortage.

The IDA acknowledged a “tightness of supply”, while Ibec said a shortage of office space had been an issue in recent years but companies are now encountering difficulty on the residential side.

“Businesses are now finding that they can find spaces for workers to work in but they can’t find space for the workers to live in,” said Peter Stafford, director of Property Industry Ireland, which is a business association within Ibec.

“It’s an issue in the cities, especially in Dublin where a lot of tech companies are clustering around the Docklands.”

Mr Stafford said many multinationals now find employees are reluctant to relocate to Ireland and are asking for salary increases to offset the higher cost of rental accommodation.

“There are companies who are paying staff a premium to move to Dublin because their cost of living is going to be so much higher here because rent is high,” he said.

Barrie O’Connell, president of Cork Chamber, said there is a “lack of coherence” when it comes to housing policy, with 12 government agencies having some involvement.

“Establishing a minister for housing and infrastructure would ensure improved oversight and a more connected approach at central level, which is required to address the rental and buyer crisis that currently presents a potential risk to our future economic development capacity,” he said.

This was echoed by Mr Kiely who said a “taskforce with teeth” made up of business leaders, Nama, and developers is also required “to come up with achievable solutions to solve the problem in the immediate term”.

Mr Kiely, who lives in Douglas, Cork, said there are around 30 homes in his area which are unoccupied but have not been put on the market and developments like these should be made available to workers.

“If we can’t accommodate young Irish graduates and EU graduates moving into Cork, then we will have to look elsewhere,” he said.

An IDA spokesperson said that although companies are continuing to invest in Ireland, there is “a tightness of supply in some city locations at present”.

“Any tightness of supply is very much a reflection of the success Dublin has had and much of the discussion around this issue concerns supply in one particular part of the city,” they said.

This is exactly what people around the world think of Ireland


Here is exactly what people around the world think of Ireland and we all agree that Ireland is the best wee country on earth, but what does the rest of the world make of us?

In this love letter, an Argentinian-Spanish woman who called Dublin home for two years asks people from around the world: “What is Ireland?”

  On St Patrick’s Day, Clara Baez Morandi paid tribute to her former home by reaching out to people who have come to Ireland from all corners of the world to find out what makes our country so unique.

She used these interviews to tell a story about multiculturalism, reflecting what a melting pot the country has become.

According to the people in the video, Ireland is a multitude of things: it’s magical and it’s challenging, it’s happy and it’s sad.

They mention Niamh, Ciara and “Sean with an S-e-a-n” as the names they most associate with Ireland, and cite the beloved chicken fillet roll as our specialty food.

While their initial thoughts on arrival in Ireland were of disappointment – “it’s not so green”, “it’s such a small village”, “it’s raining!” – they spoke movingly about how their time here has made them stronger and more optimistic.

One young man observed: “It won’t jump at you with its marvels, you have to find them.”

The sound bites, which vary from light-hearted to poignant, beautifully capture how Ireland is changing in today’s increasingly multicultural world.

Warning over number of children knocked down in driveways

RSA research shows 38 children killed after collisions in built-up areas over last five years


A still from one of the videos produced by the RSA highlighting the dangers to children when vehicles are moving.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) has launched a new campaign to keep children safe in driveways as latest figures show over 40 per cent of child road fatalities occur in built-up areas.

There were 38 child fatalities involving motor vehicles between 2010 and 2015, and half of all road-related serious injuries among children occurred as a result of a collision in a built-up area during the same period.

The campaign features a series of videos focusing on child safety near driveways and in housing estates, and the RSA has issued specific advice to parents ahead of the Easter holidays.

The videos give step-by-step guidance on the different checks and routines drivers can employ when travelling with children or in areas where children may be exposed to danger such as driveways, housing estates and near schools.

“We cannot expect children to take responsibility for their own safety. It is up to us to make road safety part of their everyday routine and teach them how to share the road safely,” said RSA chief executive Moyagh Murdock.

“Children are the most vulnerable of our road-users so it is really important that we as adults take responsibility for their safety. The aim of these videos is to provide all of us with tools to do this,” she added.

Drivers are encouraged to develop a series of steps for checking that the area around their vehicle is safe prior to departure, and to perform a ‘cockpit drill’ when in the car to ensure the handbrake and gear lever are properly positioned and that all doors are locked.

New ‘Star Wars’ film to shoot in Donegal and along “Wild Atlantic Way”

Irish Film Board welcomes plans to shoot along ‘some of our most spectacular locations along the Wild Atlantic Way’


The producers of Star Wars have confirmed they are returning to Ireland this year to shoot scenes for the next film in the blockbuster series at locations along the western seaboard.

Lucasfilm is preparing to film sequences for Star Wars: Episode VIII in May at the western tip of the Dingle Peninsula, where contractors are installing a 1.5km metal roadway to facilitate the transport of gear and crew.

Plans are also underway to film at Malin Head in Donegal, where a number of B&Bs and rental homes have already been booked out for the production.

The chief executive of the Irish Film Board, James Hickey, said it was “delighted to welcome the production of Star Wars: Episode VIII to some of our most spectacular locations along the Wild Atlantic Way”.

The closing scene of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, the most recent release in the series, was shot on Skellig Michael off the coast of Kerry. The film currently ranks as the third highest-grossing release of all time, with more than $2 billion worth of cinema tickets sold worldwide.

The Government’s decision to grant permission to film on the UNESCO world heritage site was criticised by some heritage and environmental groups, but a further licence was granted to Lucasfilm to carry out filming last September for the new film.

Thrilled to return

Candice Campos, vice-president of physical production at Lucasfilm, said the company was thrilled to return to Ireland to film several sequences for the next chapter in the Star Wars saga.

“The beauty of Skellig Michael was stunning and we know the new locations along the Wild Atlantic Way will prove to be equally as beautiful in Star Wars: Episode VIII,” Ms Campos said. “We want to thank the people of Ireland for their warm welcome and continued support. Ireland has become an important part of Star Wars history.”

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys said the return of Star Wars to Ireland was a further boost for the Irish film sector.

“My department has been working with Disney Lucasfilm over recent months in a bid to accommodate the return of Star Wars to Ireland,” Ms Humphreys said. “Disney Lucasfilm have developed a strong affinity for Ireland, and I am delighted to see them return to Ireland for further filming around our beautiful and dramatic coastline.

“We have already seen how the most recent Star Wars film has brought Sceilg Mhichíl and southwest Kerry to a global audience. Now, further locations around the Irish coast will experience similar exposure, providing untold benefits to the tourism and film sectors.”

Make angry Birds happy, UN chief Ban Ki-moon tells the world


UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon launches International Day of Happiness 2016-Help Red Go Green.

The sight of anything green is enough to enrage him, but in an ironic twist, Red, the leader of the Angry Birds computer game characters, has been named Honorary Ambassador for Green by the United Nations, the top bird given the mission of “inspir(ing) climate action toward a sustainable and happier future for all.”

“We are proud to give Red a reason to go Green,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement.

“There is no better way to mark the International Day of Happiness than to have our animated ambassador raise awareness about the importance of addressing climate change to create a safer, more sustainable and happier future for all,” Ban added.

Highly strung, easily provoked

The character’s creators describe Red as highly strung and easily provoked—even by the sound of the wind which it sees as a declaration of war. In the Angry Birds universe, the feathered protagonists are pitched against a group of pigs.

“The whole flock tries to keep Red calm and relaxed by telling him to follow a strict program of herbal tea, soothing bath salts and deep-breathing exercises,” says the website Angrybirds.com. “But this only takes the edge off his anger … Even the sight of something green can enrage him.”

   Make Angry Birds happy

But with Red being named Ambassador of Green, the warring flock is now part of making the world a better place, with the public being asked to “make the Angry Birds happy” by professing their commitment to address climate change, through photos posted on social media platforms using the hashtag #AngryBirdsHappyPlanet.

“By recycling, taking public transportation and conserving water, for example, individuals can share tips on how they can live sustainably and happily in their everyday lives,” Ban said.

Also behind this year’s campaign are Sony Pictures Entertainment (whose facilities produced and distributed the Angry Birds movie), as well as the UN Development Program and UN Foundation.

Fundamental human goal

In July 2011, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution declaring that “the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal.”

Two years later, on March 20, 2013, the first International Day of Happiness was celebrated in the wake of the 2012 UN Conference on Happiness. The conference was convened by the government of Bhutan which, in the 1970s, introduced the concept of gross national happiness, or measuring a nation’s prosperity by emphasizing people’s well-being over economic productivity.

Happiness Day

In a separate statement, the UN chief said this year’s Happiness Day was an opportunity to assert the primacy of peace, well-being and joy, amid the pervasive suffering caused by grave injustice, devastating wars, mass displacement, grinding poverty and other man-made crises.

“The best way to celebrate this International Day of Happiness is by taking action to alleviate suffering,” Ban said.

“More than individual contentment, it’s an affirmation that we have a collective responsibility to humanity,” he added.

Spread happiness, secure peace

The UN chief said governments can help spread happiness and secure peace by working to fulfill the interlinked Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that the UN General Assembly had adopted in September 2015.

Included in these goals are: an end to poverty and hunger; good health and well-being; quality education; gender equality; clean water and sanitation; affordable and clean energy; decent work and economic growth; industry, innovation and infrastructure; reduced inequalities; sustainable cities and communities; responsible production and consumption; climate action, as well as peace, justice and strong institutions.