Tag Archives: Sexual abuse

News Ireland daily BLOG by DONIE

Thursday/Friday 17 & 18th September 2015

M. D. Higgins rejects an recovering Irish economy

Responsibility needs to be taken for housing lists and homelessness needs to be addressed,

Says the President.


“Our planet is scarred by inequality, and inequality is growing, and the gaps are widening in what are described as some of the most prosperous parts of the world,” President Michael D Higgins has remarked.

Those in positions of authority should apologise for not valuing social housing more in the past in light of the current housing crisis, President Michael D Higgins has said.

Speaking at the launch of Merchants Quay Ireland’s annual report on Friday, he said inequality continues to rise in Ireland, and that he “recoils” from headlines boasting the domestic economy is resurgent once more.

“Our planet is scarred by inequality, and inequality is growing, and the gaps are widening in what are described as some of the most prosperous parts of the world,” he remarked, referencing educational inequality in particular.

“I think it’s important to realise how inequalities are increasing in Ireland itself. I recoil a little bit from a headline that suggests ‘The economy roars back’ – well, the inequalities are roaring much louder in the world.

‘Simply ridiculous’

“It’s simply ridiculous to say that you’re living in a republic with republican values if you have children with different access to literacy itself, in relation to reading the schoolbooks and so forth.”

The President indicated that responsibility needs to be taken for a situation that has seen social housing waiting lists lengthening and people sleeping rough on the streets.

“The public view has to change in relation to that. The public view in relation to whether or not you want to say housing is a right, basic shelter is a right, and that it is a mark of failure in a society if decent, safe shelter is not available.

“I think it would be a great thing to hear from some authoritative body like the County and City Management Association: ‘We’re sorry we didn’t value social housing more’,” he said.

His address was given in the wake of a speech by Merchants Quay Ireland chief executive Tony Geoghegan, who revealed his “deep concern” for the welfare of homeless individuals ahead of the impending winter.

A drop-in service

The organisation’s report stated that its drop-in service provided over 5,600 supportive interventions including referrals to emergency accommodation, and served nearly 80,000 meals last year.

“I think it’s fair to say that the homeless situation at the moment is just unprecedented – we certainly haven’t seen anything like it before and it is going to require an unprecedented response to do something about it,” Mr Geoghegan said.

“Looking into this winter, we are deeply concerned for the welfare of homeless people and what is going to happen, and I’m praying and hoping that it’s not going to take something as extreme as people dying on the streets, as it did last Christmas, before there is a response,” he added.

Talking to reporters after the launch ceremony, Mr Higgins cautioned against creating an artificial “war among the poors” between those struggling for basic services in Ireland and the 4,000 destitute refugees set to enter the State, in response to commentators who say the country should resolve its own domestic problems before welcoming a large influx of immigrants.

“The very most unhelpful thing that could happen is if some kind of false tension was invented between those who shouldn’t be waiting for health services, who shouldn’t be homeless, who shouldn’t be waiting excessive periods on waiting lists, and people who are excluded in other ways,” he said.

He continued: “Our future is a diverse society that plays to the best of our Irishness […] these suggestions are that you must set the poor in contest with each other as some kind of ‘war among the poors’.

“It has always been something that is negative, and of course in many places in Europe it has led to xenophobia and in some places racism – so let’s just see it for what it is right at the beginning.”

New €1m campaign to promote potato consumption in Ireland


A new €1m marketing campaign was launched today (September 17) to boost potato consumption among Irish consumers, by the Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney.

Bord Bia will coordinate and manage the three-year campaign which has been designed to dispel fattening myths around potatoes, positioning them as naturally fat-free, tasty and versatile.

According to Kantar Worldpanel, retail sales of fresh potatoes in Ireland have declined by 25% over the last decade and by as much as one-third between 2002 and 2014.

Speaking at today’s launch Minister Coveney said that the potato is part of our culture like no other food, inextricably linked to Ireland’s story and part of who we are.

“This campaign will bring the different varieties and versatility of the Irish potato to a younger generation,” he said.

The initiative will be co-funded by the EU, Ireland’s potato industry and the Department of Agriculture and will be run in conjunction with the British Potato Council.

The overall strategy is to implement a single umbrella campaign, across both the Irish and British market, which will raise the image and profile of potatoes, and re-establish their relevance within the weekly shopping basket.

The Minister welcomed the European Commission’s decision to approve a total fund of €4.6m to promote potatoes on the Irish and British markets over the next three years of which 50% will be funded by the EU.

My department is also availing of the opportunity to grant financial support to the Irish potato industry for this positive promotional activity.

“Combined with industry funding the total campaign will be worth €1m over the three years in Ireland,” he said.

Mike Neary, Horticulture Manager at Bord Bia, highlighted some of the challenges facing the industry.

“Potatoes are still Ireland’s preferred main meal carbohydrate, however shoppers under-45 account for only 33% of potato sales and these consumers will ultimately make up a major part of the total market in the years to come.

“Younger consumers view potatoes as a traditional, unexciting food and less convenient than modern carbs such as pasta and rice,” he said.

The new promotional campaign, entitled “Potatoes – more than a bit on the side”, will focus on younger consumers, in particular, 22-44-year-old females.

Neary said that we really need to challenge consumer perceptions of fresh potatoes – particularly amongst younger age groups – in order to combat declining consumption.

“This integrated campaign will highlight the fact that potatoes offer enormous potential within the world of modern cooking and build awareness of the added health and nutritional benefits of potatoes in comparison to competitor carbohydrates,” he said.

The campaign will include print and digital advertising and it will kick off with National Potato Day on Friday, October 2.

It is estimated a total of 9,122ha of potatoes were grown in Ireland in 2014 producing 350,000t. Last year, the retail market was valued at €184m.

The main varieties of potatoes grown in Ireland include Rooster (60%), Kerr Pinks (8%), Queens (8%) and Whites (7%).

Meath, Dublin, Wexford, Louth, Donegal and Cork are the largest potato growing counties with approximately 500 active potato growers in Ireland.

HSE failed to deal with ‘sexual contact abuse in home,

A report finds

Man involved in incidents of ‘sexual abuse nature’ with another resident and a staff member


A report published by the Mental Health Commission into Knockroe House found evidence of three instances of sexual contact between a man and woman in its care over a five-month period in 2014.

Pamela DuncanThe HSE is to carry out a review of mental health services in Roscommon after it was found to have failed to take appropriate action on recorded instances of sexual contact between two residents in a Castlerea community service.

A report published by the Mental Health Commission into Knockroe House, a 14-bed community residence on the outskirts of Castlerea, found evidence of three instances of sexual contact between a man and woman in its care over a five-month period in 2014.

It also reported one incident “of a sexual nature” involving the same man and a woman staff member.

The inspection report published on Thusday said: “Inspection of the Incident Report books in Knockroe House identified three recorded instances of sexual contact between two vulnerable adult residents, one male, one female, over a five-month period in 2014 and one incident, also of a sexual nature, involving a female member of staff in 2015.”

Failed to assess

As regards the incidents of sexual contact between the two residents the Mental Health Commission reported that the HSE had failed to assess the two residents as to their capacity to engage in a sexual relationship or take other steps to ensure “neither resident is placed in a position where they may be exploited”.

It also said that, in the absence of such safeguarding measures, gardaí should have been informed.

The inspectors noted that, following the third recorded incident between the two residents in August 2014, management separated the two residents: one is accommodated in another community residence from Monday to Thursday, returning to Knockroe on weekends when the second resident is on home leave.

The inspectors said this was not an appropriate action as the other setting was “wholly inappropriate” for the resident who had been transferred.

In a subsequent inspection carried out in June inspectors recorded a further incident of a sexual nature involving the same male resident.

General secretary of the Psychiatric Nurses Association, Des Kavanagh said the Mental Health Commission report vindicated the concerns raised by nursing staff in the Galway/Roscommon mental health services prior to the April inspection.

“The incidents raised were clearly very serious and the response of management was not appropriate,” he said.

The HSE announced it had determined it “necessary to conduct a review of the quality, safety and governance of services within the Roscommon area”.

It said the review had been “prompted in part by a number of specific incidents” which would also form part of the review which would examine management, staffing levels and compliance with relevant national and HSE frameworks.

The HSE said it was conducting a systems analysis review into the incidents in Knockroe House as well as having commissioned an external review of the mental health services in Roscommon.

“As both these processes are currently under way we are unable to comment further at this time. The HSE has reported these matters to the Gardaí and safeguards have been put in place to ensure patient safety,” a spokeswoman said.

Mr Kavanagh said he hoped the review would result in an improvement of services and the safeguarding of residents in the Roscommon area.

Ireland’s plan to tackle alarming decline of our valuable bees


 “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”

That is a comment attributed to Albert Einstein and reflects why 68 governmental and non-governmental organisations are busy with a shared plan of action to tackle pollinator decline and make Ireland a place where pollinators can survive and thrive.

The All-Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015-2020, published today, makes Ireland one of the first countries in Europe with a strategy to address pollinator decline and protect pollination services. The initiative has generated huge support and has culminated in agreement to deliver 81 actions to make Ireland more pollinator friendly.

The plan identifies actions that can be taken on farmland, public land and private land. These include creating pollinator highways along our transport routes, making our public parks pollinator friendly and encouraging the public to see their gardens as potential pit-stops for our busy bees.

With the support of organisations like An Taisce Green-Schools, it aims to ensure that everyone, from schoolchildren to farmers, gardeners, local authorities and businesses, knows what pollinators need and which simple cost-effective actions they can take to help. The Plan will also support bee-keepers in keeping our honeybees healthy.

“Unfortunately, Irish pollinators are in decline, with one third of our 98 bee species threatened with extinction,” said Dr Úna FitzPatrick from the National Biodiversity Data Centre, who chaired the plan steering group. “Bees are declining because we’ve drastically reduced the areas where they can nest.”

The pollinator plan is not just about protecting bees but also about protecting the livelihood of farmers and growers who rely on their ‘free’ pollinator service, which allows consumers to buy Irish fruit and vegetables at an affordable price. This service is worth more than £7 million per annum for apples in Northern Ireland, and €3.9m for oilseed rape in the Republic of Ireland.

It’s not just crops; about three-quarters of our wild plants also require insect pollinators. Without pollinators the Irish landscape would be a very different and much less beautiful place. The value of pollination to tourism and branding our produce abroad is enormous, but has never been assessed in a monetary sense.

Dr Jane Stout, Associate Professor in Botany at Trinity College Dublin, who co-chaired the group, added: “If we want pollinators to be available to pollinate our crops and wild plants for future generations we need to manage the landscape in a more sustainable way and create a joined-up network of diverse and flower-rich habitats as well as reduce our use of chemical insecticides. This doesn’t just mean in the countryside, but in our towns and villages as well.”

The actions in the plan are based on scientific evidence from research conducted in Ireland and elsewhere.

However, there are still gaps in our knowledge. Dr Stout’s Plant-Animal Interactions research group in Trinity College Dublin will continue to do research to understand the full implication of pollinator declines.

Bee aware

According to the Royal Horticultural Society, the best ways to encourage bees of all types into your garden is by providing nectar- and pollen-rich flowers throughout the year.

  • Clumps of bee-friendly plants in sunny places will be more attractive than plants that are scattered or in shade. These include foxgloves, pussy willow, bluebells, honeysuckle, thyme, and summer heathers, while non-native species like sunflowers, sweet pea, and lavender will provide plenty for bees to forage on. Planting wildflower meadows will also greatly benefit bees.
  • Use pesticides sparingly. Those based on fatty acids or plant oils and extracts pose little danger to bees but will not control all pests. Do not spray open flowers.
  • Provide nest sites for bees. Some will nest in hollow stems, such as bamboo canes or herbaceous plant

As much as 3.3m people die annually from air pollution

A study shows


Air pollution is killing 3.3m people a year worldwide, according to a new study. Surprisingly, farming plays a large role in soot-and-smog deaths in industrial nations.

Scientists in Germany, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, and Harvard University calculated the most detailed estimates yet of the toll of air pollution, and what caused it. The study projects that if trends don’t change, the yearly death total will have doubled to 6.6m a year by 2050.

The study, published in the journal Nature, showed that three quarters of the deaths are from strokes and heart attacks, said lead author Jos Lelieveld at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Germany.

The findings are similar to other, less detailed pollution death estimates, outside experts said. “About 6% of all global deaths each year occur prematurely, due to exposure to ambient air pollution. This number is higher than most experts would have expected, say, 10 years ago,” said Jason West, a University of North Carolina environmental sciences professor who wasn’t part of the study, but who praised it.

Air pollution kills more than HIV and malaria combined. China has the most air pollution fatalities, with 1.4m, followed by India, with 645,000, and Pakistan, with 110,000. The United States, with 54,905 deaths in 2010, ranks seventh. What is unusual is that the study says agriculture caused 16,221 of those deaths, second only to 16,929 deaths blamed on power plants.

In the US northeast, all of Europe, Russia, Japan, and South Korea, agriculture is the leading cause of soot-and-smog deaths. Worldwide, agriculture is the second-biggest cause, with 664,100 deaths, behind 1m deaths from in-home heating and cooking done with wood, and other biofuels, in the developing world.

The problem with farms is ammonia from fertiliser and animal waste. That ammonia combines with sulphates from coal-fired power plants, and with nitrates from car exhaust, to form the soot particles that are the big air pollution killers, he said.

In London, for example, the pollution from traffic takes time to be converted into soot, and then it is mixed with ammonia and transported downwind to the next city, he said.

“We were very surprised, but, in the end, it makes sense,” Lelieveld said.

He said the scientists had assumed that traffic and power plants would be the biggest cause of deadly soot and smog.

Agricultural emissions are becoming increasingly important, but are not regulated, said Allen Robinson, an engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon University, who was not part of the study, but who praised it.

Ammonia air pollution from farms can be reduced “at relatively low costs,” Robinson said. “Maybe this will help bring more attention to the issue.”

In the central United States, the main cause of soot-and-smog premature deaths is power plants; in much of the West, it’s traffic emissions.

Jason West, and other outside scientists, did dispute the study’s projections that deaths would double by 2050. That is based on no change in air pollution. West and others said it’s likely that some places, such as China, will dramatically cut their air pollution by 2050.

And Lelieveld said that if the world reduces a different air pollutant — carbon dioxide, the main gas causing global warming — soot-and-smog levels will be reduced as well, in a “win-win situation in both directions”

News Ireland daily BLOG

The ruling on Irish Water is a minor setback?


The Health Minister Leo Varadkar’s description of the EU’s surprise ruling on Irish Water as a “minor setback” has come under fire for being out of touch with reality.

The utility’s plans for massive borrowing were thrown into disarray when the agency Eurostat insisted it was not independent of Government debt.

The ruling meant money raised on the markets in order to finance an ambitious repair programme would have to be lumped in with State debt.

However, Mr Varadkar insisted this was just a “relatively minor setback.”

Clare TD Michael McNamara — who hopes to stand again as a Labour candidate in the general election despite having the whip taken away from him for voting against Government policy on the Aer Lingus sell-off — warned Mr Varadkar was not facing facts.

“He is absolutely wrong. The only way you could take that view is if you were looking at the HSE everyday, then Irish Water might seem fine to you.

“Eurostat basically said this is doing nothing new, Irish Water is controlled by the State, and the Government is meddling in it,” Mr McNamara said.

Mr Varadkar claimed Eurostat would reverse its decision next year when more people had paid up.

“It’s still a work in progress. There’s no doubt that Eurostat’s decision was a setback. It’s probably a temporary one though,” Mr Varadkar said.

“I think Irish Water is the right thing to do. First of all because metering allows us to identify leaks and actually fix them now; it also promotes conservation, people using less water; it’s giving us the revenue stream that we need to invest more in water infrastructure which was neglected for decades.

“What’s gone against us is the way we account for it in public accounts and as I say that can change next year. As you know 48% of people have paid already and I do think that will rise.”

Fianna Fáil finance spokesperson Barry Cowen said the Irish taxpayer was €785m worse off because of Irish Water.

“When the Government unveiled the Water Conservation Grant last year it was clearly designed to try and help Irish Water pass the Eurostat test. This plan has backfired spectacularly,” he said.

“The Government is wasting €5m per annum on administrating the Water Conservation Grant. This is money which could be spent on improving water infrastructure, but instead it is being spent on a pointless grant which has failed in its key objective of helping Irish Water pass the Eurostat test.

“The fact is that not an extra cent is being spent on water infrastructure above the €500m per annum Fianna Fáil spent in Government. The establishment of Irish Water has been a costly mistake for Irish taxpayers. The super quango is swallowing vast quantities of public money on a daily basis while giving little in return when it comes to improving the quality of our water infrastructure.

“Just what exactly is the purpose of the Water Conservation Grant considering it is unlikely to lead to water conservation and has not led to Irish Water passing the Eurostat test?

“Irish Water is set to cost the Government up to €70m this year alone. It is time to abolish the super quango instead of throwing more good money after bad,” Mr Cowen said.

Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty demanded more transparency on Irish Water’s finances.

Maíria Cahill calls on Dublin to examine abuse claims


Mairia Cahill who was abused by senior IRA man and later subjected to a ‘kangaroo court’.

Maíria Cahill arriving for talks with Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Government Buildings last year,

Maíria Cahill is calling for Dublin to appoint a legal expert to investigate the alleged cover up of the sexual abuse of children.

Ms. Cahill was speaking at the Gerry Conlon memorial lecture entitled “Justice for Victims of Abuse” she delivered on Saturday evening at St Mary’s University College on the Falls Road in west Belfast, as part of Féile an Phobail.

The festival event, chaired by SDLP MLA Alex Attwood, was organised to explore how victims can be let down by the justice system and their own communities.

Ms Cahill came to public attention during a BBC Spotlight programme where she alleged she had been sexually abused by a senior IRA figure and later subjected to a “kangaroo court” investigation by republicans.

The west Belfast woman, whose great-uncle Joe Cahill was one of the founders of the Provisional IRA, pursued the matter through the courts but the case collapsed when she withdrew her evidence after losing faith in the Public Prosecution Service.

In May, a report by Kier Starmer – former chief of the Crown Prosecution Service, now a Labour MP – concluded it was “almost inevitable” that Ms Cahill, and two other alleged victims decided to withdraw their evidence. Following the publication of the independent review the director of the PPS in the North, Barra McGrory, apologised to the three women.

“My case isn’t unique and I know this from speaking to people since I went public,” she told the Féile audience of around 100 people on Saturday.

“I am now calling on the Irish government to put in place, without delay, a person of legal standing to conduct a special investigatory report, more commonly known as a scoping exercise, to help uncover the IRA and Sinn Féin members actions when it came to the cover up of child sexual abuse.”

She added: “There are many victims of abuse who never make it to the media to tell of their experiences.

“Those victims hurt just as much and in some cases more by suffering in silence but when victims and survivors go public we know that, as in my case, calls to rape crisis centres increases and other victims feel compelled to speak out about their cases.

“We should always encourage them to do so.”

Ms Cahill was critical of the criminal justice system, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams and other party figures, members of her extended family and elements of the republican community.

She claimed Sinn Féin could not speak with credibility on the issue of child sexual abuse until it went beyond addressing sexual abuse by republicans in general terms.

“They need to admit that the IRA investigated my abuse against my wishes,” she said.

“They need to confirm explicitly that I was brought into a room with my rapist and three individuals from the IRA and that is my bottom line.

“And until they admit that they can never speak credibly on the issue of child sexual abuse again.”

Ms Cahill spoke of a “cover up” and also said that before and since speaking publicly about her life experience she had been made aware of allegations of people being raped at gunpoint and threatened with death, as well as alleged abusers being “moved on without a thought for the next child”.

Following the event Ms Cahill told The Irish Times some IRA members were among the audience at St Mary’s. “They kept themselves fairly quiet,” she said. “They will bring it back again. That’s the way it goes.”

She also said speaking at Féile had helped “lay ghosts to rest” and brought her some comfort. “It was important to do,” she said.

Being a perfectionist may stress you out!


Perfectionists who constantly worry about making mistakes and letting others down may sabotage their success at work, and even develop health problems, a new study has found.

In the first meta-analysis of the relationship between perfectionism and burnout, researchers analysed the findings from 43 previous studies conducted over the past 20 years.

They found that concerns about perfectionism can sabotage success at work, school or on the playing field, leading to stress, burnout and potential health problems.

Researchers, however, said that perfectionism is not all bad. One aspect of perfectionism called “perfectionistic strivings” involves the setting of high personal standards and working toward those goals in a pro-active manner.

These efforts may help maintain a sense of accomplishment and delay the debilitating effects of burnout, the study found.

The dark side of perfectionism, called “perfectionistic concerns,” can be more detrimental when people constantly worry about making mistakes, letting others down, or not measuring up to their own impossibly high standards, said lead researcher Andrew Hill, an associate professor of sport psychology at York St John University in England.

Previous research has shown that perfectionistic concerns and the stress they generate can contribute to serious health problems, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, fatigue and even early mortality.

“Perfectionistic concerns capture fears and doubts about personal performance, which creates stress that can lead to burnout when people become cynical and stop caring,” Hill said.

“It also can interfere with relationships and make it difficult to cope with setbacks because every mistake is viewed as a disaster,” Hill said.

The study found that perfectionistic concerns had the strongest negative effects in contributing to burnout in the workplace, possibly because people have more social support and clearly defined objectives in education and sports.

“People need to learn to challenge the irrational beliefs that underlie perfectionistic concerns by setting realistic goals, accepting failure as a learning opportunity, and forgiving themselves when they fail,” Hill said.

“Creating environments where creativity, effort and perseverance are valued also would help,” Hill said.

Most people display some characteristics of perfectionism in some aspect of their lives, but perfectionistic strivings or concerns may be more dominant.

The development of a personality profile that identifies perfectionistic concerns might be a valuable tool in detecting and helping individuals who are prone to burnout, the study noted.

The future kitchen in an age of scarcity


Americans these days line up to buy iPhones, but half a century ago, they were flocking to see gleaming, futuristic prototypes of kitchen appliances. General Motors’ Kitchen of Tomorrow, part of a traveling exposition of the company’s products, featured an Ultrasonic Dishwasher and an Electro Recipe File.

Cooking technology was a matter of geopolitical importance. President Richard Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev argued about whose nation had better dishwashers during the president’s 1959 visit to Moscow.

Things that seem mundane now excited our parents and grandparents’ imaginations. Their enthusiasm is understandable:

Rapid technological progress had made their lives easier, as new inventions eliminated hours and hours of menial labor. Many of them would have been used to hauling and chopping firewood for cooking. Stoves and electricity gradually entered U.S. homes over the first half of the 20th century, according to data compiled by W. Michael Cox and Richard Alm in The New York Times. The refrigerator transformed the American kitchen even more quickly, replacing the icebox. In 1930, fewer than 10 percent of households had a refrigerator. Nearly all did by 1960.

Since the introduction of the microwave in the 1970s and 1980s, though, kitchens have changed little, despite the advertisers’ promises. Industrial designers are still thinking about the future of the kitchen, but the contrasts between their prototypes and older ones show how much Americans’ outlook has darkened.

A case in point is IKEA’s Concept Kitchen 2025, which went on display earlier this year in Milan. The designers incorporated a 40 percent increase in the cost of food into their prototypes, along with constraints on energy, water and living space. They wonder whether the world will be able to sustain its eating habits, especially its taste for meat. General Electric’s designers had similar concerns in mind when they unveiled a model kitchen two years ago. Instead of a world of leisure, these corporations are preparing for a hungry, thirsty, crowded future.

The Swedish furniture manufacturer collaborated with design students and the design firm IDEO to design a sink that separates wastewater for the sewer from gray water for reused for washing dishes and irrigation. Their miniature refrigerators communicate with transmitters printed on the food’s packaging to regulate the temperature, so that the appliances don’t waste energy keeping food inside colder than necessary.

Like the Kitchen of Tomorrow of an earlier generation, some aspects of IKEA’s Concept Kitchen seem disconnected from real cooking. The most precious resource in any household isn’t food or water, but time. Convenience is an important reason that families eat so much meat and processed food, even though they require more resources to produce and are more expensive as a result. Vegetables require soaking, washing and careful planning — they don’t keep well, no matter how intelligent your refrigerator. If they spoil, a family will have to make another trip to the grocery store.

And a kitchen that is designed to help save money on food, water and energy might not change the kinds of foods that families buy, unless the design saves them time as well. Research and survey data suggest that families with more material resources do not spend much more on produce than those with less means.

IKEA’s answer to this problem is the digitized “Table for Living,” which uses a camera to identify ingredients placed on it and suggests recipes. The design seems about as useful as General Motors’ Electro Recipe File. Looking up a recipe online might be easier, or even just using the index in a cookbook. And the designers expect that drones will solve the problem of fresh produce by delivering groceries quickly and in minutes, which is optimistic.

That said, one crucial point of progress is evident in IKEA’s kitchen. American manufacturers previously assumed that women would be the ones using their prototypes in the kitchen, and women were the targets of their advertising. “What we want to do is to make more easy the life of our housewives,” Nixon told Khrushchev, who denigrated “the capitalist attitude toward women.” IKEA’s design, by contrast, imagines the kitchen as a place that members of the family share, with parents working from home.

Refrigerators and dishwashers made women’s drudgery in the kitchen obsolete. Yet economists argue that instead of spending that extra time with their children or twirling around in dance shoes, as commercials from the period implied, women instead entered the workforce.

Economists debate how technology will change the ways we spend our time in the future. Some say that technology is saving us more time than ever, even if the changes are hard to measure. Others argue that the most important inventions — the ones that, along with changes in the law and the culture, allowed women to work outside the home — are all in the past. On this view, our children’s lives will resemble our own more than our grandparents’ lives resembled our great-grandparents’, and the kitchens of 2025 might not look that different from those of 1985. And we won’t be well equipped to deal with the environmental challenges reflected in IKEA’s design.

Beluga whale seen off County Antrim coast near Dunseverick


Marine researchers have said a beluga whale has been sighted off the County Antrim coast near Dunseverick.

It is believed to be the first time the Arctic species has been recorded in Northern Irish waters.

Dr Peter Evans, director of the Seawatch Foundation, said a fall in sea temperatures could be why the whale strayed so far from its usual habitat.

“A beluga whale is extremely unusual,” he said.

“It’s the first record that we know for Northern Ireland and in fact there’s only been about a dozen in 50 years for the whole of Britain and Ireland.

“On the whole, over the last sort of 10 years, certainly the sea temperatures have been generally warming, but at the same time there have been a number of anomalies where you’ve got actually significantly cooler waters and that seems to be the case here.”

There are just two records of beluga whales off the coast of the Republic of Ireland – one off Clare Island, County Mayo, in 1948 and another at Cobh, County Cork, in 1988.

“This is not the first arctic species to occur in Britain this year. Back in February, the first European sighting of a bowhead whale was captured on a smart phone in the Isles of Scilly,” Dr Evans said.

“In that instance it was thought that the fragmentation of floating ice may have resulted in whales typically associated with pack ice, straying much further south.

“Whether the same has occurred in the case of this beluga is not clear but sea temperatures have been unusually low this summer.”

News Ireland daily BLOG update by Donie

Saturday 11th July 2015

Ireland’s environment Minister Kelly’s life ‘threatened by dissident republicans’


Ireland’s environment Minister Alan Kelly has revealed that he has had threats to his life from dissident republicans.

Speaking about the Irish Water controversy on RTE on Saturday Night with Miriam, Minister Kelly (39) said: “It’s not very nice when your local superintendent has to find you a couple of weeks ago to tell you that there is a threat to your life from dissident Republicans.”

The Tipperary North TD added: “I expect to be challenged on RTE, In Leinster House and on the street by people, but this is different. There are a small group of people who just want anarchy which has nothing to do with Irish Water.”

Minister Kelly also revealed that threats had been made against his office staff and members of his family saying it had been “a difficult time for his parents”.

While he accepted there had been mistakes made in the setting up of Irish Water, he added that it had been “the right thing to do to ensure water supply into the future”.

He also revealed that after a board meeting this week Irish Water will reveal how many people have paid their bills.

“The figures when revealed might surprise some people,” he said.

Tensions rise ahead of Orange Order parades in Nort. Ireland

The PSNI will have some 1,500 officers policing main and feeder parades in Belfast


The PSNI will have 1,500 officers specifically assigned in Belfast to try to ensure that Orange Order parades pass off peacefully on Monday, senior officers have said.

In all, 3,000 officers will be policing the 18 Orange Order and one Independent Orange Order parades that take place throughout Northern Ireland on Monday with the biggest PSNI presence at three flashpoints in north Belfast, east Belfast and close to the city centre.

With the Twelfth of July falling on Sunday, the annual Orange celebrations, in line with the institution’s sabbatarian traditional, are being held on Monday.

Senior police sources said “tensions are high within the PUL (Protestant unionist loyalist) community” and that they are concerned about how Monday will unfold.

As usual, the biggest focus is on the return parade of three north Belfast Orange lodges on Monday night. The lodges, as happened in the past two years, have again been banned by the Parades Commission from returning along the Crumlin Road at the Ardoyne shops, at the interface between the Catholic and Protestant communities in north Belfast.

Instead, as happened in the past two years, the commission has determined they cannot go beyond the junction of Woodvale Parade and Woodvale Road, which is about 300 metres from the Ardoyne shops.

The return parade last year passed off peacefully after the Orange Order, with the support of senior loyalists linked to the UVF and UDA in north Belfast, carefully marshalled the parade. There was serious violence at the police lines on the Woodvale Road in 2013, but, as a result of the heavy Orange and loyalist stewarding, those parading and protesting dispersed peacefully last year.

That peaceful parade was predicated on an Orange Order and loyalist expectation that the dispute over the return parade by the Ardoyne shops would be resolved by this Twelfth. However, as that failed to happen, there is now concern among senior PSNI commanders that the same level of stewarding won’t be provided this year.

Loyalists have been protesting nightly in the area since the summer of 2013 when the return parade was banned, with those demonstrations centred on the Camp Twaddell protest site at the top of Twaddell Avenue close to the Ardoyne shops. Policing those protests have cost £17 million, police said on Friday.

Police also have a concern that dissident republican paramilitaries could try to stage attacks over the Twelfth period. In the past two years, dissidents exploited the Camp Twaddell protests to mount five attacks on police officers. No officer was killed in those incidents.

There is also particular police concern about two other parades, at Donegall Street beside St Patrick’s Church in central Belfast and on the Newtownards Road close to the Short Strand nationalist enclave, which have been the scenes of trouble in recent years.

Senior PSNI sources have appealed for calm. One commander urged the Orange Order to provide the same level of marshalling as was present last year to try to ensure Monday concludes peacefully.

The Orange Order in a statement on Friday called for a peaceful Twelfth period, despite what it termed republican intolerance and provocation. “Anyone who responds with violence to such provocation only does a disservice to our cause and undermines all that we stand for,” it said.

As the pre-Twelfth “Eleventh Night” bonfires were being lit in different parts of Northern Ireland over this weekend, residents beside one of the bonfires at Chobham Street in east Belfast were leaving their homes because of safety concerns. The bonfire is one of the largest seen in recent years, which resulted in the North’s fire service warning residents of the dangers.

The land is owned by the North’s Department of Regional Development, whose employees have helped residents board up threatened properties.

Alliance Assembly member Chris Lyttle said “it is unacceptable in 2015 that a government department has allowed this bonfire to progress to the stage where residents are living in fear for the safety of their homes”.

30 children trafficked in Ireland for sexual abuse in years 2013-2014


At least 30 children were trafficked throughout Ireland for sexual abuse and exploitation between 2013 and 2014, a Dáil debate seeking Ireland’s first ever laws specifically targeting child grooming has heard.

Fine Gael backbencher Marcella Corcoran Kennedy and Fianna Fáil justice spokesperson Niall Collins revealed the “shocking” figure as they urged renewed action to ensure children and teens of all backgrounds are given the protection they need.

Speaking during the morning debate on her private members bill which is seeking to specifically outlaw child grooming, an issue which will now be subsumed into the Government’s imminent wider sexual offences bill, Ms Corcoran Kennedy said despite high-profile cases most people are unaware of the scale of the crisis for some children in Ireland.

She said “shockingly” Gardaí are aware of 30 children “detected over a two-year period” between 2013 and 2014, and that the general public is in the dark about the number of minors “who are being moved around our own country to be sexually exploited”.

Noting the paedophile ring crisis in Rotherham, Britain, last year which saw a group of men abuse more than 1,000 girls over a number of years, the Fine Gael TD said there is a clear threat to children and teenagers from grooming which cannot be ignored.

After raising the same concerns, Mr Collins said there is a “very sinister part of our own society” which is putting children at risk.

The comments came as all parties backed Ms Corcoran Kennedy’s bill to make child grooming a specific crime which could see offenders jailed for up to 14 years for contacting children online or by text – even if no physical meeting takes place.

Other changes called for in the bill – which will be subsumed into the Government’s wider sexual offences bill, due to be published in the coming days – include the right for gardaí to arrest Irish citizens here who travel abroad to abuse a child.

While paedophiles who groom children can be arrested under the existing 1998 Child Trafficking and Pornography Act, this can only be done after “two or more” online contacts and when a physical meeting takes place.

In addition, concerns have been raised over the fact the use of this law means child grooming is not specifically outlawed under its own legislation in Ireland, leading to the UN’s human rights committee ordering Government two weeks ago to address the gap within four months.

During the same Dáil debate, Sinn Féin TD Sandra McLellan said there is “significant concern in child protection sectors” that “resource issues” are preventing gardaí from adequately examining cases.

Grooming cases

A number of high-profile cases and near misses in recent years underline the link between grooming and serious assaults:

In February last, 33-year-old high-risk sex offender Sean Johnson from Derbyshire in Britain was jailed for 10 months for holding talent shows to gain access to children in Galway and Cork.

In May 2014, Eamon Coughlan, from New Street in Corofin, Co Clare, was jailed for two years for befriending a boy in Cork through Facebook before physically travelling to his town to have sex with him.

In March, 2013, 44-year-old accountant Liam O’Brien, from Valley Park in Co Galway was jailed for three years for assaulting four young girls while they waited to play video games at his home.

Drinking daily cups of tea makes women live longer,

A new study finds


Turns out all us tea obsessives are on to something.

A new study has found that drinking tea daily might make you live longer, finding that women in their 70s and 80s lived longer if they had, on average, 2 cups of tea per day.

Australian researchers studied the health records of 1,000 women over the age of 75, tracking their diet as well as their tea and coffee consumption. Over the course of the study, 88% of the women were still alive, and those who drank 2 cups of tea in an average day were 40% more likely to have survived.

The researchers say that this is down to flavonoids; compounds found in tea that work to boost health. They’re also found in chocolate and red wine, but the study found that tea made the biggest contribution to the surviving women’s flavonoid count, with two cups of tea providing the recommended daily flavonoid count of 350mg.

Women who drank daily cups of tea were less likely to die from heart disease and cancer – currently the two biggest killers of women over the age of 65.

Basically, let’s all raise our mugs (or teacups, if you’re feeling fancy) and get to drinking.

Scientists predicted that sea levels could increase by 20 feet

Because of ice melting & Carbon dioxide levels rising


In the past decades, rising sea levels are measured by inches, but scientists warned that they could increase for more than 20 feet if efforts against global warming failed to curb the 2 degrees Celsius level of greenhouse gases.

If global temperature continues to rise, people living in coastal regions from New York to Miami to Bangkok are at risk to increased flooding and storm surges. Even the space agency, NASA, fears its launch pads could be submerged in water because of climate change.

Many of these coastal regions are already experiencing increased water levels. Studies from United Nations indicated that the rate of global sea level has intensified since the global warming level doubled in 1990s.

Researchers pointed out that this increasing sea level is due to the melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica.

Anders Carlson, geologist from Oregon State University, said, “It takes time for the warming to whittle down the ice sheets but it doesn’t take forever. There is evidence that we are likely seeing that transformation begin to take place now.”

Peter Clark, paleoclimatologist and co-author of the study, said that they are not sure about the time frame of rising of sea levels, because the Carbon dioxide level in the Earth’s atmosphere continues to rise.

He added that maybe it would take many centuries to a few millennia to witness the full impact of melting ice sheets.

The study imposed a challenge on looking ahead to better understand how the ice sheets respond to these temperature increases, according to the authors.

Andrea Dutton, geochemist from University of Florida and lead author on the study, commented that it is important to guide policy makers to have a solid plan to slow down the rising sea level.

She added, “We want to know will sea levels rise gradually as ice sheets retreat or will they rise very suddenly due to rapid ice sheet collapse?”

In December, leaders from around the world would gather in Paris to find consensus on reducing carbon gas emissions.