Tag Archives: richard bruton

News Ireland daily BLOG by donie

Tuesday 19th July 2016

Irish Government launches new Housing Action Plan


The Irish Government is today launching its new 84-point action plan to deal with the housing crisis.

The Rebuilding Ireland project encompasses five pillars – to address homelessness; accelerate social housing; build more homes; improve the rental sector and utilise existing housing.

The €5.35bn plan has pledged to deliver 47,000 social houses in six years. The plan also says 25,000 homes a year will be built here by 2020.

  • Pillar 1 – Address Homelessness

Provide early solutions to address the unacceptable level of families in emergency accommodation; deliver inter-agency supports for people who are currently homeless, with a particular emphasis on minimising the incidence of rough sleeping, and enhance State supports to keep people in their own homes.

  • Pillar 2 – Accelerate Social Housing

Increase the level and speed of delivery of social housing and other State-supported housing.

  • Pillar 3 – Build More Homes

Increase the output of private housing to meet demand at affordable prices.

  • Pillar 4 – Improve the Rental Sector

Address the obstacles to greater private rented sector delivery, to improve the supply of units at affordable rents.

  • Pillar 5 – Utilise Existing Housing

Ensure that existing housing stock is used to the maximum degree possible – focusing on measures to use vacant stock to renew urban and rural areas

Housing Minister Simon Coveney has said that the use of hotels and B&Bs as emergency accommodation will be brought to an end by next year.

“We know that putting families in hotels doesn’t work,” he said. “So we’re going to change that.

“And we’re setting a pretty bold ambition for this time next year to have no reliance on hotel accommodation and B&Bs accommodation for emergency accommodation for families.

“And that will be challenging and we will set targets along the way to make sure we deliver on that.”

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that the Government is committed to dealing with the housing crisis.

“This plan, believe me, is ambitious in its vision and in its scale of investment,” he said.

“It will take engagement across Government, the involvement of Local Government, thereal involvement of Local Government, and the commitment of the entire sector to deliver on it.

“But it is well founded, and the Minister for Housing and his team have researched and consulted very widely in drawing it up, and it is realistic, addressing the housing challenge fully and finally, as a key objective of the Government.”

Meanwhile: –

Construction industry wants to be rid of Ireland’s ‘cowboy builders’


The Irish construction industry has called for a statutory register to get rid of “cowboy builders”,

Tom Parlon, director general at Construction Industry Federation (CIF) has also claimed that builders and developers have been “excluded” from the Government’s planning on housing.

It comes as the Government launched its new housing strategy which aims to deal with homelessness, social housing and the rental crisis.

Speaking at the MacGill Summer School Mr Parlon said the Government has been “inclined to exclude the construction industry because of the blame that they chose to give the industry”.

But he said that the CIF has been working with the Department of Environment to root out builders who do not meet the proper standards.

“There were ills within the industry in the past. There was some poor, shoddy work carried out,” he said.

“We have proposed together with the Department of the Environment a construction industry register of Ireland – a standards body, which means in the future anybody involved in construction should be competent and should have experience and the skills that they have their insurance that they have health and safety and basically that they are professional builders.

“It’s a way of getting the cowboys out of the industry.”

He said it has already been set up as a voluntary system with 850 signed up to date but the CIF is now waiting on the government to make it a statutory body.

Reacting the Government’s new “Rebuilding Ireland” housing plan announced by Simon Coveney he said numerous strategies have been published over the years which are now “on a number of shelves around the place”.

“All of these strategies are certainly big on targets but they certainly lack the focus on the capacity of the industry to deliver.

“The best time to build forestry is 20 years ago and the second best time is yesterday,” he said adding that housing is similar to planting forests.

While he said the ambitiousness of the report is “very good” he added that “we are at least five years too late with this strategy”.

Mr Parlon pointed out that last year we began building around 8,000 houses and it appears that there will less started this year.

“So when you hear the targets that are out there you begin to wonder. The industry now is going to have to reach a massive level of output, and have four times the amount of commencements in four years’ time than we are doing now, so that’s a massive ramp-up.

Child homelessness has increased by 37% in six months


There has been a 37% increase in the number of homeless children over the last six months.

New figures from the Department of the Environment has provided a snapshot of the homeless situation in Ireland month. The stats show that there were 2,206 children living in emergency accommodation during the course of a week in June 2016.

That’s up from 1,616 children who were living in a similar situation in a week in December.

The count was taken during the week of 20-26 June and show that 1,078 families were living in emergency accommodation. Six months previously that figure was 775.

The figure for adults in emergency accommodation was 3,625 in December. This has now risen to 4,152, a 14.5% increase over six months.

The figures also demonstrate the extent of the homeless problem is Dublin, an area which accounts for more than two-thirds of the national figure.

The figures come as the government today announced a planned €5 billion spend on social housing over the next five years along with other measures to fight homelessness.

These include the phasing out of hotels for emergency accommodation and increased rental supplements.

Richard Bruton wants lessons in coding for Ireland’s primary school pupils

Minister wants primary curriculum to include coding as it teaches creative problem-solving


Richard Bruton, Minister for Education and Skills, who believes an early start in coding will help children fulfil their potential.

Primary school children could learn computer coding under proposals drawn up by Minister for Education Richard Bruton. He has asked the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment to consider approaches to introducing the teaching of coding in primary schools.

“For the generation of children recently born and starting to enter primary school, creative thinking and problem-solving skills will be absolutely key to how they develop . . . and achieve their potential,” Mr Bruton said.

“In particular, their ability to think critically and develop solutions in the digital world will be vital for their prospects in life. I am determined that we should continually improve the education system in this area.”

The council will be consulting on a new framework for the primary curriculum this year and is developing a new primary mathematics curriculum. It aims to have a draft new curriculum for mathematics for junior infants to second class next spring.

CoderDojo success

Mr Bruton has written to the council in recent days to request it to consider coding as part of the review. “The success of the CoderDojo project is a fantastic example of the benefits of teaching coding to young children. Hugely popular with children, it teaches creative problem-solving skills in a manner that engages and excites them,” he said.

“I believe that we must learn from successful programmes like this to improve the experience and outcomes of the education system for our children.”

Policy makers and the technology sector say there is an acute shortage of skilled graduates to fill gaps in the tech sector. A series of measures, such as bonus points for maths in the Leaving Cert and reforms to the senior cycle curriculum, are aimed at increasing the numbers going on to study science, technology, maths and engineering.

The introduction of coding classes is likely to be controversial, however, among some educationalists who argue that narrow skills should be taught much later in the school system.

Mr Bruton said these skills could improve outcomes for children. “At the heart of everything we are trying to do as a Government is to use our economic success to create a fair and compassionate society – and ultimately to make life a little bit easier for people.

Fluctuating cholesterol linked to lower mental ability scores “A study finds”

   Greater fluctuations in low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is linked to heart disease, have been associated with lower scores in mental ability tests (file photo)

Roller-coaster levels of “bad” cholesterol may lead to poorer mental performance in older adults, a study has found.

Greater fluctuations in low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is linked to heart disease, were associated with lower scores in mental ability tests.

Participants with the highest LDL variability took 2.7 seconds longer on average than those with the lowest to finish one test that deliberately confused words and colours.

The test involved naming the ink colours of words describing a different colour – for instance, the word blue written in red.

Lead researcher Dr Roelof Smit, from Leiden University Medical Centre in the Netherlands, said: “While this might seem like a small effect, it is significant at a population level.”

“Our findings suggest for the first time that it’s not just the average level of your LDL-cholesterol that is related to brain health, but also how much your levels vary from one measurement to another.”

A total of 4,428 people aged 70 to 82 from Scotland, Ireland and the Netherlands took part in the Prosper study. All either had pre-existing artery disease or were at high risk of developing the condition.

More LDL variability was also associated with lower brain blood flow and bright areas showing up on brain scans which have been linked to blood vessel dysfunction. The findings are reported in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

Scientific breakthrough after South African boy finds turtle fossil


A fossil discovery by an 8-year-old South African boy has helped scientists redefine why turtles have shells.

While it has generally been accepted that the modern turtle shell is largely used for protection, a new study by an international group of scientists, including those from the Evolutionary Science Institute at Wits University, suggests the broad ribbed proto shell was initially an adaptation, not for protection, but rather for burrowing underground.

The big breakthrough came with the discovery of several specimens, the oldest of which was a 260 million year old partially shelled proto turtle, Eunotosaurus africanus, from the Karoo Basin of South Africa.

Several of these specimens were discovered by two of the studies’ co-authors, Dr Roger Smith and Dr Bruce Rubidge from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg but the most important specimen was found by 8-year-old Kobus Snyman on his father’s farm in the Western Cape.

This specimen, which is about 15cm long, comprises a well preserved skeleton together with the fully articulated hands and feet.

Rubidge thanked Snyman saying he would “shake his hand” because without the finding the study would not have been possible.

An artistic rendering shows an early proto turtle Eunotosaurus (foreground) burrowing into the banks of a dried-up pond to escape the harsh arid environment present 260 million years ago in South Africa. (Supplied, Andrey Atuchin)

Puzzled scientists

Lead author for the study, Dr Tyler Lyson of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science said that a shell for protection initially seemed like an obvious answer.

“…the earliest beginnings of the turtle shell was not for protection but rather for digging underground to escape the harsh South African environment where these early proto turtles lived”.

The early evolution of the turtle shell had long puzzled scientists.

“We knew from both the fossil record and observing how the turtle shell develops in modern turtles that one of the first major changes towards a shell was the broadening of the ribs,” said Lyson.

While distinctly broadened ribs may not seem like a significant change, scientists say it has a serious impact on both breathing and speed in four-legged animals.

Ribs are used to support the body during locomotion and play a crucial role in ventilating your lungs. Distinctly broadened ribs stiffen the torso, which shortens an animal’s stride length and slows it down and interferes with breathing.

‘Boring bones’

“The integral role of ribs in both locomotion and breathing is likely why we don’t see much variation in the shape of ribs,” said Lyson.

Lyson added: “Ribs are generally pretty boring bones. The ribs of whales, snakes, dinosaurs, humans, and pretty much all other animals look the same. Turtles are the one exception, where they are highly modified to form the majority of the shell.”

The study included authors from the United States, South Africa and Switzerland.


News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Saturday 16th November 2013

Tánaiste says the data breach is a real wake-up call on cyber crime


Eamon Gilmore Tanaiste says Loyalty-build data breach a timely reminder of the potential costs of cyber crime.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore: told a conference on cyber security organised by the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin yesterday that a number of other countries had already had to respond to similar threats and security incident

The Loyaltybuild data breach was a timely reminder of the potential costs of cyber crime to the individual, to businesses and to Government bodies in terms of financial and reputational damage, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has said.

Addressing a conTwo Irish banks have confirmed that there are indications of fraudulent activity on credit cards caught up in the Loyaltybuild breach, while Clerys, Centra, Stena Line andPigsback have joined the list of companies hit by one of Ireland’s biggest cyber attacks to date. Up to 376,000 customers, including more than 80,000 in Ireland, have had financial information stolen.

ference on cyber security organised by the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin yesterday, Mr Gilmore said a number of other countries had already had to respond to similar threats and security incidents, including South Korea.

In March, the hard drives of 30,000 PCs in South Korea were wiped clean, marking the beginning of a co-ordinated cyber attack on six of the country’s banks.

“The lesson from both of these attacks is clear: individuals, businesses and Government must be constantly vigilant and ensure that our systems evolve to meet the ever-growing threat.”

Mr Gilmore said for a highly globalised country such as Ireland, responding to the global implications of cyber security was essential to protect the human rights of citizens and the pursuit of economic interests.

“Managing the risks arising from malicious use of cyberspace will allow us to continue to benefit from the vast opportunities in the digital economy, which currently accounts for almost 100,000 jobs in Ireland.”

However, he said Ireland needed help in fighting sophisticated cyber attacks such as the Loyaltybuild breach.

“We need more European and more international co-operation, as the issues we face are too great for one country or one company to tackle alone.”

He said there was a compelling case for the public and private sectors to work together in responding to these challenges. “Such co-operation in addressing cyber challenges is vital, and also needs the involvement of civil society.”

Mr Gilmore also criticised surveillance measures by certain countries, saying such activity put at risk efforts to keep cyberspace open and free.

“I believe strongly that states should not bug friendly states and I reject out of hand the notion that extra surveillance should take place, just because the technology permits it.”

Richard Bruton leads investment & Jobs mission to India


Minister Bruton on Jobs trip with 42 firms to Bangalore, New Delhi and Mumbai

Minister for Jobs Richard Bruton will today begin five-day investment mission to India along with Enterprise Irelandand the IDA.

Some 42 Irish companies and higher education institutions will target sectors including technology, life sciences, financial services, engineering and education during the trip to Bangalore, New Delhi and Mumbai.

“Central to the Government’s plans for jobs and growth is driving an export-led recovery, and in the past two years we have seen a turnaround in employment in the exporting sectors of the economy,” Mr Bruton said.

“In the three years 2008-2010 Irish and multinational exporting companies lost more than 40,000 jobs, but since 2011 they have added well over 15,000 jobs.”

The Minister said each job added in companies in these sectors led to about one additional job elsewhere in the economy.

Key growth markets such as India were particular targets, he said.

This will be the 17th major trade and investment mission Mr Bruton has led in 32 months since the Government came into office in March 2011.

Ryanair to hire 300 new staff as it opens nine Dublin routes


New pilots, cabin crew, customer service staff and software developers to be recruited next year

Ryanair is to open nine new routes from Dublin and increasing the frequency of eight existing services, creating 300 jobs with the airline and bringing an additional 700,000 passengers through the airport every year.

The new routes will run to Almeria, Bari, Basel, Bucharest, Chania, Comiso, Lisbon, Marrakesh and Prague from April next year, bringing to 85 the number of services that Ryanair operates from the airport. the airline is also increasing the frequency of the Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, London Stansted, Madrid, Manchester and Nice routes, bringing the number of flights from 300 to 400.

The company said it plans to recruit new pilots, cabin crew, customer service staff and software developers next year, creating a total of 300 jobs in Ireland. The move is part of Ryanair’s recent pledge to improve its customer service and website, with the extra routes a direct response to the Government’s decision to scrap the €3 travel tax.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary pointed out around half of the 300 new jobs that the airline is creating in Dublin were connected with the expansion announced today and would not have gone elsewhere if the travel tax had not bee cut. “Scrapping the travel tax is key to this growth,” he stressed.

Welcoming the news, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, said the extra one million passengers represented an opportunity for the overall tourist industry.

“I would like to say this to the hospitality sector, you in turn have a real opportunity, with up to one million extra people coming into our country in 2014, you need to engage with those people and the repeat business will follow,” Mr Kenny said.

He also called on other airlines to follow Ryanair and look at expanding their services out of Irish airports.

DAA chief executive, Kevin Toland, said that Dublin Airport is now going through its third successive year of growth, with both long- and short-haul business on the increase.

The number of travellers using the airport to connect to other destinations is up 43 per cent year-on-year, he pointed out.

“What we are seeing is an improvement in European business, which is up 5 per cent to date and the UK is coming back into growth,” he said, adding that Dublin is Europe’s third fastest growing airport.

A daily 90-minute walk can cut stroke risk by a third for men


Walking between one and two hours a day can cut the risk of stroke by a third

Daily 90-minute strolls could cut the risk of a stroke by a third but power walking has little benefit, a study has suggested.

Researchers found the length of time spent walking had a bigger impact than the speed of walking.

They discovered that walking at least one to two hours a day was associated with reduced risk of a stroke.

However strenuous “power walks” did little to lower the likelihood of the disease.

The study, which is published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke, examined 3,435 healthy men aged 60 to 80.

Participants were questioned about the distance they walked each week and their usual walking pace.

The research showed that men who walked for eight to 14 hours each week were a third less likely to suffer a stroke than those who spent no more than three hours walking.

For men walking more than 22 hours a week, the risk was two thirds lower.

“If you took 1,000 men who usually walk 8-14 hours per week and followed them for 10 years, on average they would have 55 strokes, compared with 80 for the group who only walk zero to three hours per week,” said lead researcher Dr Barbara Jefferis, from University College London.

“The total time spent walking was more consistently protective against stroke than walking pace; overall it seemed that accumulating more time walking was most beneficial.

“Our findings suggest that regular walking each week could be an important part of stroke prevention strategies in older people.”

Each year in the UK around 152,000 people suffer strokes, which can be fatal or disabling.

Dr Shannon Amoils, from the British Heart Foundation, which part-funded the study, said: “Whatever your age it’s important to stay active every day. This research suggests a daily walk could help to reduce stroke risk and is further evidence that regular exercise – even a daily stroll in the park – can be an effective way to keep healthy.”

It comes after a study by Harvard researchers in 2010 found that women who walked for two or more hours a week were 30 per cent less likely to suffer a stroke than those who said they rarely walked very far.

It also found that women who said they normally walk at a fast pace, classified as at least three miles an hour, reduced their risk of stroke by 37 per cent.

Afternoon caffeine consumption can interrupt your nighttime sleep


Caffeine consumption in the afternoon can interrupt nighttime slumber, a small research study says. Even if you ingest caffeine, whether in pill or liquid form, six hours before bedtime, the effects can still rob you of sleep.

The study, published Friday by Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, focused on 12 healthy people with normal sleep habits. The participants took three caffeine pills per day for four days. One pill contained 400 milligrams of caffeine while the other two were placebos. The pills were taken at different times during the evening: six hours before bedtime, three hours before bedtime, and then right before bedtime.

The results showed the effects were pretty much the same no matter how many hours before bedtime caffeine was ingested. At least one hour of sleep can be lost. In fact, the effects of caffeine can be felt as long as 12 hours post ingestion, and can affect getting to sleep and staying asleep.

Your morning caffeine intake, however, is fine, says Dr. Len Horovitz, an internist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. If you’re concerned about your overall caffeine intake, it’s important to limit your caffeine intake eight hours before your bedtime.

Looking for a Natural Pick-me-up?
  • Eat breakfast. This is the most important meal of the day. Your mama was right about that. Focus on protein and fiber as these will fill you up. Oatmeal and whole grain cereals, fruit, yogurt and some nuts are all good choices.
  • Drink water. Most people do not drink enough water on a daily basis and this is an easily overlooked beverage. If you are well hydrated, you won’t feel as sleepy; this is an effect of being well hydrated. If the taste of water bothers you, you can put in a slice of lime or lemon to freshen the flavor.
  • Drink green tea. Aside from having many health benefits, it is caffeine free and you can drink as much as you want although I would suggest drink between 4 and six cups a day.
  • Choose healthy snacks. That means avoiding your favorite candy bars as they would give you an all-too-brief energy boost before your energy level crashes. Snacks such as unsalted nuts, vegetables (carrots, celery, radishes) and hard-boiled eggs are portable.
  • Take a nap! Ten to 15 minutes should suffice. If you nap longer than that, you will feel groggy the rest of the day.

Lastly, and this should be obvious to everyone, make sure you sleep a set amount of hours every night. Poor sleep habits can contribute to a number of health problems such as weight gain and heart disease. The average is six to eight hours a night but whatever the amount you sleep, it’s important to stick to a schedule. If you slept little the prior night, catching up the following night will not be of much help. It is also not beneficial to sleep in on the weekends when your body is used to awakening at the same time every weekday. Create a sleep schedule and stick with it.

Dogs can now detect a low blood sugar for people with Diabetes


It is thought dogs can detect changes in blood sugar levels due to their highly developed sense of smell. As the blood sugar levels go up or down this causes changes to the body’s metabolism which can alter how a person’s sweat or breath smells. For example, diabetic ketoacidosis can cause a person’s breath to smell like nail varnish.

A study of 17 people with diabetes who had been given a dog trained to sniff out and alert them when their blood sugar (glucose) levels were too low reported the dogs had improved their lives and helped with their diabetes. Blood test results confirmed the perception that the dogs could detect glucose levels outside of a desired range in many cases, and that having a dog made the owner more likely to remain in a desired range.

Meanwhile in Canada: Dogs detect low blood sugar

A special class of canines is about to graduate from a new program that trains dogs to detect when their owners are having a dangerously high or low blood sugar.

Four dogs and their owners have completed training at the Lions Foundation of Canada in Oakville and are ready to graduate as official “diabetic alert guide dogs” on Thursday — fittingly world diabetes day.

The dogs are trained to detect sudden changes in their owner’s blood sugar through scent and alert them, so that they can take measures to normalize their levels.

The Lions Foundation of Canada is training dogs to detect low blood-sugar levels in patients with diabetes.

According to the foundation, the guide dog’s ability to detect changes in its owner’s breath can help patients avoid slipping into diabetic comas and other life-threating effects.

The canines can also run and seek help from within an owner’s home and even activate an alert system if needed.

“It’s a gradual realization that dogs can do so much more,” said Ian Ashworth, director of program development at the Lions Foundation of Canada.

The dogs are trained to assist people with Type 1 diabetes who breathe into a special container when they are having a low or high blood sugar episode.

The dogs are then exposed to the smells, learning to respond appropriately by either warning the adult patient or fetching a parent for a sick child.

Jade and Brooke Boardman are 11-year-old twins who are living with Type 1 diabetes. They have been paired with a guide dog named Nettle.

Brooke says she feels Nettle will become a valuable friend by her side.

“She can smell there is something wrong then she goes into my dad’s room and jumps on the bed and warns them and wakes him up,” she explained.

Terry Boardman, Jade and Brooke’s father, said he and his wife often stay up all night checking on their daughters’ blood-sugar levels.

He said having this new canine companion will help give him and his family peace of mind.

“It’s very tough at times. The girls are always at risk so having another tool like Nettle to help with this. I can’t explain it, it just means a lot to us,” he said.

The dogs are bred by the foundation and are offered at no cost by the Lions Foundation to patients who qualify, a relief for many families since similar diabetes alert dogs can cost up to $25,000 in the United States.

“Hopefully we are flooded with applications,” said Ashworth.

Linda Brown, a diabetic who suffered from weekly blackouts when her blood-sugar levels would dip too low, said her new dog Wilf has given her a new sense of independence.

“He offers me a lifeline, giving me a chance to get back to doing what I did before and feeling safe,” Brown said.

There are currently about a dozen patients across the country waiting for the next class of diabetic guide dogs to be trained.

The Sun’s magnetic poles set to ‘flip’ their position


One half of a 22-year cycle on the Sun is about to come to a close that will see the star’s magnetic north and south poles flip their positions. The event is imminent, according to solar physicists from NASA, and could have effects that reach billions of kilometres beyond the orbit of Pluto.

Despite its outwardly unflappable appearance, the plasma inside the Sun responsible for its magnetic field is constantly churning. Every 11 years, it reorganises itself in a little-understood clockwork mechanism, in the process inverting the star’s magnetic polarity.

An important part of this mechanism is thought to be a difference in the rates at which material flows from the equator to the poles and back on the Sun’s surface, as well as the fact that the Sun rotates faster at its poles than at the equator.

“As the polarity moves toward the pole, it erodes the existing opposite polarity,” said Todd Hoeksema, director of the Wilcox Solar Observatory at Stanford University, in a press release. Like a tide, “each little wave brings little more water in, and eventually you get to the full reversal”.

In this period, sunspot activity on the Sun intensifies. There are also more violent ejections of charged particles from its surface as solar flares and coronal mass ejections. These bursts can interact with Earth’s own magnetic field, prompting a surge in the occurrence of auroras, also known as Northern Lights.


Moreover, larger flares “can disturb the ionosphere and disrupt radio communication, damage electronics onboard satellites, cause hazards to airlines flights in polar routes, and even electrical blackouts in regions near the Earth’s magnetic poles,” said Prof. Arnab Rai Choudhuri, a theoretical astrophysicist from the Indian Institute of Science, in an interview to The Hindu in August.

Similarly, one beneficial effect is stronger protection against galactic cosmic rays, an influx of energetic particles originating from outside the Solar System which are also known to cause damage to satellites and astronauts orbiting Earth.

News Ireland Blog Friday by Donie

Friday 27th July 2012

Some 900 Irish jobs will be created in 53 start-ups companies


More than 900 jobs will be created over the next three years in 53 new start-up companies.

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton announced the positions will open by 2014 as the new firms set up shop across the country, following a Government and Enterprise Ireland initiative to support start-ups.

“What we must also do if we are to create the jobs we need is to create a base of indigenous companies that match that level of success,” said Mr Bruton.

“As I have said before, our aim is not only to attract the next Google or Microsoft to Ireland, but to make it possible for the next Google or Microsoft to start-up in Ireland.”

The 53 companies delivering the jobs come from different sectors including financial services, ICT, digital games, medical devices and pharmaceuticals.

Among them is games developer Digit Games Studio Ltd, which will create 47 jobs, and digital marketing company Digital Marketing Institute, which will open 39 positions. Both companies have bases in Dublin.

Others include financial services software firm Nomoseire, which will create 14 positions in Cork, and abrasives manufacturers Kerry Abrasives, opening nine jobs in Listowel, Co Kerry.

The firms were given support during the first six months of the year under Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-Ups (HPSU) programme. The idea was to invest in indigenous businesses that have strong export potential.

“The new Government has already delivered a series of measures aimed at better supporting indigenous companies to succeed in export markets,” said Mr Bruton. “We have established a new potential exporters division in Enterprise Ireland to provide new supports for exporters. We have delivered new mentoring and management support programmes to help companies improve their performance.”

Head of HPSU and scaling at Enterprise Ireland Greg Treston said the organisation’s aim was to meet the needs of fledgling companies to help them grow.

Four out of every 10 people 15 to 25 years old are without work


Four IN ten young people under the age of 25 were unemployed at the time of the 2011 census, according to figures released by the Central Statistics Office yesterday.

The latest CSO data, which concentrates on people at work, shows that more than 82,000 people between 15 and 24 were not working in April 2011.

The rate of youth unemployment rose by 74 per cent between the 2006 and 2011 censuses, with 39 per cent of those aged 15-24 recorded as being without work in April last year.

Unemployment among men in this age category almost doubled in that period to 50,440 from 26,448, meaning the unemployment rate among young males stood at 45 per cent last April.

Among women in the same age group, unemployment increased from 20,674 in 2006 to 31,713 – yielding an unemployment rate of 32 per cent.

Limerick city and Co Donegal had the highest levels of youth unemployment, with rates of 50 and 49 per cent respectively, while the jobless rate in Co Wexford stood at 47 per cent.

Almost 70,000 of those 15-24-year-olds out of work had finished their education. However, there was significant variation in unemployment levels depending on the level of education completed.

For the 4,732 people who were educated to primary level only, the unemployment rate was 70 per cent. For those who had completed lower secondary level (Junior Cert), the rate stood at 65 per cent. Those with an upper secondary education had an unemployment rate of 39 per cent, while the rate for the 7,534 people with third-level qualifications was significantly lower at 18 per cent.

The lowest youth unemployment rate, 27 per cent, was recorded in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, while Fingal, Cork county and Galway city were also at the lower end of the spectrum.

A total of 34,166 people were looking for their first regular job in April 2011, more than 60 per cent of whom were 15-24. Of the 8,622 15-19 year olds in this category, 5,424 were male.

Just over a quarter of first-time jobseekers were foreign nationals, the majority from Eastern Europe, while British, Nigerians, Brazilians and Indians also featured.

Of the 6,941 people with a third-level qualification looking for their first job, almost one in five had a qualification in business and administration. A further 9 per cent had an arts qualification. Almost 400 people with a third-level qualification in architecture were looking for their first regular job.

The wider census results show that, although the labour force grew by 5.8 per cent in the past five years, the numbers at work declined by over 6 per cent to 1,807,369 in the same period.

The number of people unemployed increased dramatically from 150,084 to 390,677 between 2006 and 2011. Combined with people looking for their first job, the total number out of work stood at 424,843 in April 2011.

The unemployment rate jumped from 8.5 per cent in 2006 to 19 per cent in 2011.

The rate of unemployment among foreign nationals in 2011 stood at 22 per cent compared with an unemployment rate of 18.5 per cent among Irish people.

The census pointed to a much higher employment rate among people who spoke English well or very well than those who had inferior English-language abilities; almost one-third of the 67,531 people who either could not speak English well or could not speak English at all were unemployed.

Of the more than 35,000 people in employment who did not speak English well or at all, the largest group (4,149 people) were cleaners, followed by 6 per cent who worked as kitchen or catering assistants. A similar cohort worked as food, drink or tobacco operatives.

New ‘wonder drug’ JD5037 to tackle obesity


A new drug that combats “the munchies” could provide a long-lasting solution to weight loss, researchers have claimed.

The drug, known only as JD5037, increases sensitivity to a natural hormone in the body that suppresses appetite.

It acts by blocking the same brain pathways responsible for feelings of hunger after taking cannabis. But, crucially, it does not penetrate far enough into the brain to cause psychiatric problems.

A similar anti-obesity drug, rimonabant, had to be withdrawn after it was linked to anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.

JD5037 affects the way the body reacts to leptin, a hormone that promotes feelings of satiety, or “fullness”.

Attempts to boost leptin levels have failed because the body becomes desensitised to the hormone and stops responding to it. JD5037 does not increase levels of leptin, but enhances its effect.

“By sensitising the body to naturally occurring leptin, the new drug could not only promote weight loss, but also help to maintain it,” said lead scientist Dr George Kunos, from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in the United States.

“This finding bodes well for the development of a new class of compounds for the treatment of obesity and its metabolic consequences.”

The research, reported in the journal Cell Metabolism, was conducted on overfed obese mice.

Scientists found that giving the mice the drug caused weight loss and improved metabolic health. The animals showed no signs of anxiety or other behavioural side-effects.

Satellites reveal sudden Greenland ice melt


The first image shows Greenland’s ice sheet on 8 July, the second, taken four days later, shows the area where ice has melted at the surface

The surface of Greenland’s massive ice sheet has melted this month over an unusually large area, Nasa has said.

Scientists said the “unprecedented” melting took place over a larger area than has been detected in three decades of satellite observation.

Melting even occurred at Greenland’s coldest and highest place, Summit station.

The thawed ice area jumped from 40% of the ice sheet to 97% in just four days from 8 July.

Melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time”

Although about half of Greenland’s ice sheet normally sees surface melting over the summer months, the speed and scale of this year’s thaw surprised scientists, who described the phenomenon as “extraordinary”.

Nasa said that nearly the entire ice cover of Greenland, from its thin, low-lying coastal edges to its centre, which is 3km (two miles) thick, experienced some degree of melting at its surface.

Until now, the most extensive melting seen by satellites in the past three decades was about 55% of the area.

According to ice core records, such pronounced melting at Summit station and across the ice sheet has not occurred since 1889.

“When we see melt in places that we haven’t seen before, at least in a long period of time, it makes you sit up and ask what’s happening,” Nasa chief scientist Waleed Abdalati said.

“It’s a big signal, the meaning of which we’re going to sort out for years to come.”

Watch this space

He said that, because this Greenland-wide melting has happened before – in 1889 – scientists are not yet able to determine whether this is a natural but rare event, or if it has been sparked by man-made climate change.

The observation is in my view much more important than the recently reported break up of a large iceberg from Petermann Glacier”

“Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average. With the last one happening in 1889, this event is right on time,” said Lora Koenig, a glaciologist from Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and a member of the research team analysing the satellite data.

“But if we continue to observe melting events like this in upcoming years, it will be worrisome.”

Prof Eric Wolff, from the British Antarctic Survey (Bas) told BBC News: “There have clearly been some very warm days in Greenland this month. As a result, the surface snow has melted across the whole ice sheet.

“This is confirmed by some of my international colleagues who are on the ground at the NEEM ice core drilling site in north Greenland – they are reporting several days with temperatures above zero, and ice layers forming in the snow.

“While this is very unusual, as always we cannot attribute any individual extreme event to climate change: We will have to wait and see if more such events occur in the next few years to understand its significance for both the climate and the health of the ice sheet.”

Dr Poul Christoffersen, a glaciologist and engineer at the Scott Polar Institute in Cambridge, told BBC News: “The melting seen in the satellite data is unprecedented, as it extends all the way across the ice sheet including the summit, which is located 3,200 m above sea level. Melting is usually limited to less than 2000m elevation.”

The news comes just days after Nasa satellite imagery revealed that a massive iceberg, twice the size of Manhattan, had broken off the Petermann Glacier in Greenland.

“The observation [from Greenland] is in my view much more important than the recently reported break up of a large iceberg from Petermann Glacier,” Dr Christofferson added.

Nasa’s Tom Wagner said: “This event, combined with other natural but uncommon phenomena, such as the large calving event last week on Petermann Glacier, are part of a complex story.”

Scientists said they believed that much of Greenland’s ice was already freezing again.

Shift work has link to ‘increased risk of heart problems’


Working night shifts can disrupt the body’s clock and lead to health problems

Shift workers are slightly more at risk of having a heart attack or stroke than day workers, research suggests.

An analysis of studies involving more than 2m workers in the British Medical Journal said shift work can disrupt the body clock and have an adverse effect on lifestyle.

It has previously been linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure and diabetes.

Limiting night shifts would help workers cope, experts said.

The team of researchers from Canada and Norway analysed 34 studies.

In total, there were 17,359 coronary events of some kind, including cardiac arrests, 6,598 heart attacks and 1,854 strokes caused by lack of blood to the brain.

These events were more common in shift workers than in other people.

The BMJ study calculated that shift work was linked to a 23% increased risk of heart attack, 24% increased risk of coronary event and 5% increased risk of stroke.

But they also said shift work was not linked to increased mortality rates from heart problems and that the relative risks associated with heart problems were “modest”.

Ensuring workers have a minimum of two full nights sleep between day and night shifts can help people to cope with shift work.”

The researchers took the socioeconomics status of the workers, their diet and general health into account in their findings.

No rest

Dan Hackam, associate professor at Western University, London Ontario in Canada, said shift workers were more prone to sleeping and eating badly.

“Night shift workers are up all the time and they don’t have a defined rest period. They are in a state of perpetual nervous system activation which is bad for things like obesity and cholesterol,” he said.

The authors say that screening programmes could help identify and treat risk factors for shift workers, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

They add that shift workers could also be educated about what symptoms to look our for, which might indicate early heart problems.

Jane White, research and information services manager at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, said there are complex issues surrounding shift work.

“It can result in disturbed appetite and digestion, reliance on sedatives and, or stimulants, as well as social and domestic problems.

“These can affect performance, increase the likelihood of errors and accidents at work, and even have a negative effect on health.

She said the effects of shift work needed to be well-managed.

“Avoiding permanent night shifts, limiting shifts to a maximum of 12 hours and ensuring workers have a minimum of two full nights sleep between day and night shifts are simple, practical solutions that can help people to cope with shift work.”

Ellen Mason, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said the increased risk to an individual shift worker “was relatively small”.

“But many Brits don’t work nine to five and so these findings becomes much more significant.

“Whether you work nights, evenings or regular office hours, eating healthily, getting active and quitting smoking can make a big difference to your heart health.”