Tag Archives: Stroke

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Monday 18th July 2016

Ireland’s first-time home buyers may get aid under a new scheme

Irish Government is considering tax relief and top-ups in effort to tackle the housing crisis


A scheme to help first-time home buyers in Ireland with tax relief and State top-ups of mortgage deposit savings is being examined by the Government.

A scheme to help first-time home buyers with tax relief and state top-ups of mortgage deposit savings is being examined by the Government.

The Help to Buy scheme is under consideration as part of efforts to tackle the housing crisis, but will not be included in Minister for Housing Simon Coveney’s action plan for housing, to be announced tomorrow.

While Mr Coveney will reiterate the programme for government’s plan to introduce such a scheme, details are being withheld until October’s budget.

Mr Coveney had pushed for it to be included in his action plan but Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said tax measures can only be announced on budget day.

Mr Noonan last night emphasised that the Government does not want to cause any market disruption.

He said when former Tánaiste Michael McDowell proposed abolishing stamp duty in 2006, it contributed to a slump in house sales.

Mr Noonan said he is prepared to backdate Help to Buy measures to this month.

Mr Coveney is understood to have pushed for a top-up scheme in recent weeks. A similar scheme operates in the UK, where mortgage deposit savings are topped up by 25%, to a limit of £3,000.

Similar approach

The Fianna Fáil party proposed a similar approach in its election manifesto, although it said the top-up would be restricted to €5,000 per person, or €10,000 per couple.

It is understood that Mr Noonan and others raised concerns with Mr Coveney that such a scheme could drive up demand and house prices at a time when few homes are being built.

Of concern to all Ministers is the difficulty in saving for a mortgage deposit in Dublin and other urban areas due to the Central Bank lending rules.

One Government source suggested the value of Help to Buy would have to be around €10,000 to have a tangible effect.

The emerging scheme is a mixture of a deposit top-up and tax relief, modelled on the Home Renovation Incentive Scheme. VAT relief targeted at first-time buyers also featured in discussions.

The programme for government contains a proposal to temporarily reduce VAT on new affordable homes and apartments from 13.5% to 9%.

Four new gold mines discovered by gold mining firm Conroy Gold in Ireland


Gold found in the Republic is officially owned by the State and extracted under licence.

Irish gold mining firm Conroy Gold and Natural Resources has found four new gold zones on its Glenish target in Monaghan.

The discovery was made in a 150 metre-wide structural corridor in the western part of the Glenish gold target.

It included intersections of 2.25 metres grading 2.65 g/t gold, at a depth of 18 metres, 2 metres grading 1.59 g/t gold at a depth of 27.75 metres; 2.75 metres grading 1.43 g/t gold at a depth of 36 metres and 3 metres grading 1.76 g/t gold at a depth of 64.25 metres.

The Glenish gold target spans some 147 hectares.

The gold mineralisation in the drilling area remains open in all directions.

Mining activity in Ireland requires a licence from the State, but “recreational” panning is allowed.

That’s defined as activity that uses only hand-held, non-motorised equipment. The Department of Communications, Energy and National Resources asks panners to seek permission from various parties, including relevant landowners and the National Parks and Wildlife Service, to ensure the site they wish to use isn’t environmentally sensitive.

Precious metals in the ground are the property of the State but panners are allowed to keep small quantities “as a souvenir”. Any finds which return more than 20 gold flakes or individual nuggets that weigh more than two grammes are to be notified to the department.

But selling the gold is a no-no. That’s defined by law as ‘working’ of minerals – which requires permission from the Government.

A global study shows stroke is largely preventable

10 risk factors are the same worldwide, with some regional variations


Ten risk factors that can be modified are responsible for nine of 10 strokes worldwide, but the ranking of those factors vary regionally, says a study led by researchers of the Population Health Research Institute (PHRI) of McMaster University.

The prevention of a stroke is a major public health priority, but the variation by region should influence the development of strategies for reducing stroke risk, say the authors of the study published in The Lancet today.

  1. Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability, particularly in low-income and middle-income countries. The two major types of stroke include ischaemic stroke caused by blood clots, which accounts for 85% of strokes, and haemorrhagic stroke or bleeding into the brain, which accounts for 15% of strokes.
  2. The study led by Dr. Martin O’Donnell and Dr. Salim Yusuf of the Population Health Research Institute at McMaster and collaborators from 32 countries, builds on findings from the first phase of the INTERSTROKE study which identified ten modifiable risk factors for stroke in 6,000 participants from 22 countries. This full-scale INTERSTROKE study added 20,000 individuals from 32 countries in Europe, Asia, America, Africa and Australia, and sought to identify the main causes of stroke in diverse populations, young and old, men and women and within subtypes of stroke.
  3. “This study has the size and scope to explore stroke risk factors in all major regions of the world and within key populations,” said O’Donnell, a principal investigator for the PHRI and professor of translational medicine at HRB-Clinical Research Facility, NUI Galway.
  4. “We have confirmed the ten modifiable risk factors associated with 90% of stroke cases in all regions, young and older and in men and women. The study also confirms that hypertension is the most important modifiable risk factor in all regions, and the key target in reducing the burden of stroke globally.”
  5. The investigators looked at the different risk factors, and determined the proportion of strokes which would be cut if the risk factor disappeared.
  6. The number of strokes would be practically cut in half (48%) if hypertension was eliminated; trimmed by more than a third (36%) if people were physically active; and shaved by almost one fifth (19%) if they had better diets. In addition, this proportion was cut back by 12% if smoking was eliminated; 9% for cardiac (heart) causes, 4% for diabetes, 6% for alcohol intake, 6% for stress, and 27% for lipids (the study used apolipoproteins, which was found to be a better predictor of stroke than total cholesterol).
  7. Many of these risk factors are known to also be associated with each other (such as obesity and diabetes), and when were combined together, the total for all 10 risk factors was 91%, which was similar in all regions, age groups and in men and women.
  8. However, the importance of some risk factors appeared to vary by region. For example, the importance of hypertension ranged from practically 40% in Western Europe, North America, and Australia to 60% in Southeast Asia. The risk of alcohol was lowest in Western Europe, North America and Australia but highest in Africa and south Asia, while the potential impact of physical inactivity was highest in China.
  9. An irregular heart rhythm, or atrial fibrillation, was significantly associated with ischaemic stroke in all regions, but was of greater importance in Western Europe, North America and Australia, than in China or South Asia.
  10. However, when all 10 risk factors were included together, their collective importance was similar in all regions.

“Our findings will inform the development of global population-level interventions to reduce stroke, and how such programs may be tailored to individual regions,” said Yusuf, a professor of medicine of McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and director of the PHRI. “This includes better health education, more affordable healthy food, avoidance of tobacco and more affordable medication for hypertension and dyslipidaemia.”

Along with the study, The Lancet published a related comment from New Zealand researchers Valery L. Feigin and Rita Krishnamurthi of the National Institute for Stroke and Applied Neurosciences, of Auckland’s University of Technology.

They said the key messages from the study were that stroke is a highly preventable disease globally, regardless of age and sex; that the relative importance of modifiable risk factors means there should be development of regional or ethnic-specific primary prevention programs, and that additional research on stroke risk factors is needed for countries and ethnic groups not included in INTERSTROKE.

“Now is the time for governments, health organizations, and individuals to proactively reduce the global burden of stroke. Governments of all countries should develop and implement an emergency action plan for the primary prevention of stroke,” they wrote.

Meanwhile: –

Too much red meat could harm your kidneys?

A study now reveals


Red meat consumption now linked to kidney failure, say’s researchers

Eating red meat may boost the risk for kidney failure, but swapping even one daily serving of red meat for another protein may reduce the risk, a large study from Singapore suggested.

Red meat intake is strongly associated with an increased risk of end-stage renal disease, the loss of normal kidney function. The relationship was also “dose dependent”, which means the higher the consumption, the greater the risk.

The association held up even after compensating for factors that could skew the results, such as lifestyle and other health conditions, the study authors noted.

“Our findings suggest that patients with chronic kidney disease or the general population worried about their kidney health can still maintain protein intake but consider switching to plant-based sources,” said Dr Woon-Puay Koh, professor in the office of Clinical Sciences at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore.

“However, if they still choose to eat meat, fish, shellfish and poultry are better alternatives to red meat,” said Koh, one of the study authors.

The study adds new data to a conflicting body of evidence on the relationship between protein in-take, particularly red meat, and kidney disease, experts noted.

“It adds useful and additional information to our knowledge base, but I’m not sure if it necessarily tips the scale one way or another,” said Dr Allon Friedman, a nephrologist and associate professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis.

“My opinion is that it’s still perfectly fine for individuals who are otherwise healthy to consume red meat in moderation,” he said.

Dr William Mitch, professor of nephrology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said that plenty of studies have shown that low-protein diets may benefit people who already have kidney damage.

However, in the general population, there’s no persuasive evidence that eating a lot of protein causes kidney damage,” he said.

Red meat has been implicated in recent reports and studies as potentially harmful to human health. The World Health Organisation (WHO) last year warned of a possible link between red meat and cancer. Similarly, a November 2015 study in the journal of cancer found that meat cooked at high temperatures could potentially affect kidney cancer risk.

For the new study, researchers followed more than 63,000 Chinese adults in Singapore for an average of 15.5 years.

The food questionnaires were used to gather data on people’s daily protein consumption. The records on the incidence of end stage renal disease came from a nationwide renal registry.

About 97 percent of red meat intake in the study population consisted of pork. Other protein sources included poultry, fish, shellfish, eggs, dairy products, soy and legumes.

Although pork may appear white after being cooked, but it still considered red meat, said the US Department of Agriculture.

People consuming the highest amounts of red meat had 40 percent increased risk of developing end stage kidney disease, compared with people who ate the lowest amounts, the study found.

No association was found with poultry, fish, eggs or dairy products, while soy and legumes appeared to be slightly protective. The study also found that replacing one serving of red meat with another protein reduced the risk of kidney failure up to 62 percent for poultry.

Here are six ways to nail that CV once and for all & bag your dream job

    Swiss Resume and Cover Letter Template - Helping You Save Time & Get The Dream Job You Deserve - Instant Download:     

Interviews have changed a lot?

If you’re sick of your jobs, then stop talking about it and go for a change. From networking to that CV, here are top tips towards making that move:

  1. The compelling CV: Stop talking about your duties and focus on your achievements. It may seem obvious that you should be outlining your duties in previous roles, but what employers want to see is results. Focus not on what you did but what you did well. Your cv has one job – to get you the interview so make sure it’s a world class document.
  2. Start Networking: Go to industry talks and conferences and start meeting people. Employers will always look to the people they know, then they’ll look for recommendations, before finally advertising a job.  Employers want to avoid having to go through cvs and interview processes by being referred a great person from someone they trust.
  3. Don’t copy and paste: You may feel as though you have spent so long perfecting your CV and cover letter that you just need to change the name of the recipient and fire it off. This is the worst tactic to use. No matter how well-written a cover letter is, it will never read as well as one written specifically for that job.
  4. Stand out at interview: Do your preparation – talk to people who work there, look at their social media pages, see if they have been in the news recently. You will find a huge amount about the organisation that often the interviewer sitting across from you does not know. It shows that you have a genuine interest in the job.
  5. Pick up the phone: We all hear people talking about how many jobs they’ve applied to, only to be ignored or rejected. But how many of those people have ever actually picked up the phone and called in? Everyone relies so heavily on the internet these days that a single phone call can be enough to differentiate you.
  6. Prove your enthusiasm: One of the most common things candidates will bring up in an application is their enthusiasm for the role. While enthusiasm is better than indifference, don’t just say you’re enthusiastic about your line of work, prove it by pointing to things you have accomplished with that enthusiasm.
  7. Go for jobs you actually want: If you are not sure if you want to work for the company you have an interview with, you certainly are not going to convince someone else. So do your research talk to friends, find a job and a company you love – this is not easy it takes time and effort but doing a job you love means never working a day in your life.

Hummingbirds process the world much differently than other birds of flight?

Says an UBC study?


When you spend time engaged in 100 kilometre per hour dives and fly 50 km/h in tight spaces you tend to see the world a little differently.

Hummingbirds can move as fast as your car and stop on a dime to feed from a flower, which requires some specialized image processing abilities, according to Roslyn Dakin, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia.

“We wanted to know how they avoid collisions and we found that hummingbirds use their environment differently than insects to steer a precise course,” she said. “They are really amazing flyers, they are capable of hovering and dramatic acceleration and stopping.”

Bees process their distance from objects by how quickly objects pass through their field of vision, like the telephone poles that race by you when you drive a car. But hummingbirds are doing something else.

The tiny speedsters chart their course based on how quickly images get larger, an indication they are getting close and pose a hazard. Things that get smaller are likely moving away and pose no risk.

“They tend to steer towards smaller features and away from larger features,” she explained.

The researchers spent months building and programming a 5.5 metre-long flight chamber to capture the hummingbirds’ reactions to visual queues, in other words, find out how they steer in flight.

“We took advantage of hummingbirds’ attraction to sugar water to set up a perch on one side of the tunnel and a feeder on the other, and they flew back and forth all day,” said co-author Douglas Altshuler, a zoology professor. “This allowed us to test many different visual stimuli.”

Hummingbirds react strongly — adjusting their altitude — when presented with projected images of patterns moving up or down, rising as their environment appeared to move upward.

“That is a trait they share with flies,” said Dakin.


News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Tuesday 5th April 2016

Irish Water the elephant in the room of government talks

Healy-Rae says public has waited for 40 days for a government and was getting frustrated


Michael Healy Rae (left) and his brother Danny. Michael Healy Rae has said that Irish Water is the ‘elephant in the room’ during the government formation talks.

An Independent TD has said the issue of Irish Water is the “elephant in the room” in all the negotiations with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil.

Independent TD for Kerry Michael Healy-Rae said “our Lord spent 40 days in the desert” and said the Irish public had waited for a similar period for a government and that patience was now wearing thin.

Mr Healy-Rae said it was unhelpful that Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin have still not spoken to each other, he told Newstalk Breakfast.

On the same programme, Independent Alliance TD for Galway East Sean Canney, also called on the two largest parties to talk directly.

He said it would be wrong to spend another €40 million on a second election and said this money could be spent on tackling homelessness or employing more hospital consultants

Mr Canney said a lot of newly elected TDs, including those in Sinn Fein, had not engaged in the process of government formation and said there should be more focus on them. “What were they elected to do?”

Another Independent Alliance TD, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran says his group would make a collective decision on Wednesday on who they will back during a second vote in Dail on the election of a new Taoiseach.

The Longford Westmeath TD’s comments follow the suggestion that a number of non-party deputies may abstain from Wednesday’s vote.

A number of Independent TDs yesterday expressed anger about a tweet posted by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar on Sunday, in which he said his posters were ready for a second election if necessary.

The Panama Papers simply explained even a 5-year old can understand


The Panama Papers leak has pretty much been big news around the world. The scandal however has not been the easiest to understand for many people. A Reddit user here tries to ‘Explain it in simple terms Like I’m 5’ (ELI5) type of post that has since gone viral.

ELI5 is exactly what it sounds like – how you would explain a certain thing to a five-year-old. So how do you explain secret banking, offshore accounts and tax evasion to a five-year-old?

Here’s how Dan Gliesack explained the Panama Papers leak to five-year-olds:
When you get a quarter you put it in the piggy bank. The piggy bank is on a shelf in your closet. Your mom knows this and she checks on it every once in a while, so she knows when you put more money in or spend it.

Now one day, you might decide “I don’t want mom to look at my money.” So you go over to Johnny’s house with an extra piggy bank that you’re going to keep in his room. You write your name on it and put it in his closet. Johnny’s mom is always very busy, so she never has time to check on his piggy bank. So you can keep yours there and it will stay a secret.

Now all the kids in the neighbourhood think this is a good idea, and everyone goes to Johnny’s house with extra piggy banks. Now Johnny’s closet is full of piggy banks from everyone in the neighbourhood.
One day, Johnny’s mom comes home and sees all the piggy banks. She gets very mad and calls everyone’s parents to let them know.

Now not everyone did this for a bad reason. Eric’s older brother always steals from his piggy bank, so he just wanted a better hiding spot. Timmy wanted to save up to buy his mom a birthday present without her knowing. Sammy just did it because he thought it was fun. But many kids did do it for a bad reason. Jacob was stealing people’s lunch money and didn’t want his parents to figure it out. Michael was stealing money from his mom’s purse. Fat Bobby’s parents put him on a diet, and didn’t want them to figure out when he was buying candy.
Now in real life, many very important people were just caught hiding their piggy banks at Johnny’s house in Panama. Today their moms all found out. Pretty soon, we’ll know more about which of these important people were doing it for bad reasons and which were doing it for good reasons. But almost everyone is in trouble regardless, because it’s against the rules to keep secrets no matter what.

Irish Central Bank handed out severance payment of €32k to a person who did not work for it?

Another two exit packages worth €61k each were made to staff who had worked at the bank for less than two years


The Central Bank in Dublin (above left)

The state spending watchdog has criticised the Central Bank for handing out a severance payment worth €32,000 to an individual who had not even begun to work for it.

The bank suffered costs of €73,000 as a result of the case as it had to cover its own and the recruit’s legal fees.

Another two exit packages worth €61,000 each were made to staff who had worked at the bank for less than two years.

The Comptroller and Auditor General said the three payments “suggest that the Central Bank needs to review its procedures for managing recruitment and probation”.

It also noted that a long-term contractor who had never been an employee of the bank was awarded €60,000.

The report identified 14 expensive discretionary severance payments, amounting to nearly €1.5m, that were made by public sector bodies between 2011 and 2013.

The Central Bank made six of these payments, which amounted to over €540,000 including legal costs.

Between 2011 and 2013, the report said the bank had “more recourse” to termination agreements and severance payments than the other public sector bodies it examined.

“The frequency of payments could imply weaknesses in the Central Bank’s procedures for managing performance or addressing other human resource issues,” it said.

The bank clocked up its own legal costs and the costs of the employee in all but one case, but details of the legal advice it received were not documented in some cases.

The report noted that such severance payments are often made when the employment relationship breaks down “irreconcilably”.

It also says severance payments may be made to attract desirable candidates to short-term jobs.

An examination of formal severance payments awarded between 2011 and 2013 under six public sector schemes, found they had a value of €17.9m. It said nearly €11m of this was related to pension enhancements. like added years.

It found broad compliance with scheme rules in most cases, except for a scheme for chief executives of state bodies.

The report found two state bodies, who are not named, made severance payments in the form of pension enhancements worth over €1m without the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s prior approval.

According to the report, the governor of the Central Bank said the cases it was taken to task over arose in a period of unprecedented renewal and growth at the bank, as staff numbers grew by one third between 2009 and 2013.

A spokesman for the Comptroller and Auditor General said the Central Bank was the only public body named in the report, aside from the departments responsible for signing off on severance payments, because of the high number of discretionary payments it made.

Most Irish beaches meet water standards but six fail to make the cut


Bathers will have to think twice before taking the plunge at six of the country’s beaches after they failed basic water quality tests.

Among the six is Youghal in Co Cork, which continued its poor performance for a second year.

Untreated sewage in the water was the main culprit for the failures, with e. coli and other bacteria, making swimming and other water sports inadvisable and, in some cases, prohibited.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Irish Water are working to see what can be done to ensure that the beaches are given a clean bill of health before the summer season, but there are concerns they could remain no-go areas this year.

Matt Crowe, director of the EPA’s Office of Evidence and Assessment, said: “The relevant local authorities, in conjunction with Irish Water, have management plans in place to tackle the main pollution risks at these beaches and these plans are designed to return these beaches to at least ‘sufficient’ quality in the next year or two.”

The EPA also warned, however, that in some cases significant investment in infrastructure will be needed to get standards up to acceptable levels.

Some of the beaches are repeat offenders — Youghal, Co Cork; Duncannon, Co Wexford; and Ballyloughane, Galway City, failed for the second year in a row, while Rush, Co Dublin, failed for the third time in the last four years.

Newcomers to the bathing blacklist are Merrion Strand in Dublin Ccity and Loughshinny, which is close to Rush in north Co Dublin.

EPA inspectors who carry out the quality survey annually stressed the vast majority of the country’s most popular beaches and lakes were clean and clear of harmful pollutants.

Of the 137 inspected, 101 were rated as ‘excellent’ quality, as measured by EU standards, while a further 13 were classed as ‘good’ and 14 were ‘sufficient’.

Two that failed the previous year, Clifden, Co Galway, and Lilliput, Lough Ennell, Co Westmeath, improved enough to escape the blacklist this year, but further tests are awaited before they get a final rating.

The rest are rated as ‘poor’, which under EU regulations means they haven’t met the minimum standards required to give a green light for bathing and recreation.

Trá Inis Oirr in the Aran Islands was inspected for the first time last year and has not been tested enough to be ranked, but the EPA said sampling so far showed excellent results.

Failing the inspections does not automatically mean the beaches are off limits. Peter Webster, EPA senior scientist, said it meant there was “a risk of periodic microbiological pollution”.

“Local authorities are required to put in place notifications for the entire bathing season advising the public against bathing, which could include a bathing prohibition if a serious pollution incident occurs,” said Mr Webster.

During the bathing season, June 1 to September 15, current water quality information and details of any restrictions on bathing are displayed on the national bathing water website, splash.epa.ie, as well as on local beach notice boards.

Bathing restrictions applied on 131 out of 14,659 ‘beach days’ last year, but most suspected pollution incidents resulted in precautionary, short-term restrictions and no evidence of pollution was subsequently discovered.

Bereaved people at greater risk of developing irregular heartbeat,

Growing body of research suggests stressful life events boost risk of heart attack or a stroke.


People who suffer the death of a partner have a heightened risk of developing an irregular heartbeat for up to a year after the event, according to new research.

People who suffer the death of a partner have a heightened risk of developing an irregular heartbeat for up to a year after the event, according to new research.

The risk of an irregular heartbeat, also known as atrial fibrillation, is greatest among the under-60s and when the loss of the partner was least expected, the findings indicate. Atrial fibrillation is a risk factor for stroke and heart failure.

A growing body of evidence suggests that highly stressful life events boost the risk of a heart attack or stroke, but up to now it has not been clear whether this might also be true of atrial fibrillation.

The study, published in the online journal Open Heart, collected data on 88,612 people newly diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and 886,120 healthy people between 1995 and 2014.

The factors?

Danish researchers looked at factors that might influence atrial fibrillation risk. These included time since the bereavement; age and sex; underlying conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes; the health of the partner a month before death; and whether they were single.

Some 17,478 of those diagnosed with atrial fibrillation had lost their partner as had 168,940 of the comparison group.

Underlying illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and associated treatment for these conditions, were more common among those who had been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation.

But the risk of developing an irregular heartbeat for the first time was 41 per cent higher among those who had been bereaved than it was among those who had not experienced such a loss, the findings indicated.

This heightened risk was apparent, irrespective of gender and other underlying conditions.

The risk seemed to be greatest eight to 14 days following a death, after which it gradually subsided until after a year the risk was similar to that of someone who had not been bereaved.

People under the age of 60 were more than twice as likely to develop atrial fibrillation if they had been bereaved.

Those whose partners were relatively healthy in the month before death were 57 per cent more likely to develop atrial fibrillation. No such increased risk was seen among those whose partners were not healthy and who were expected to die soon.

As an observational study, the research does not permit firm conclusions to be drawn about cause and effect.

Researchers suggest acute stress may directly disrupt normal heart rhythms and prompt the production of chemicals involved in inflammation.

Further research looking at whether the association found applies to more common, but less severe life stressors, is warranted, they say.

Seagulls are 10 times more polluting to beaches than people?

Merrion Strand (below left) in Dublin is polluted with human sewage and bird droppings, An EPA report finds.

   BEACHES_0016_LKM.jpg Rose Feerick and David Strohm pass through hundreds of seagulls as they walk along Venice Beach in Half Moon Bay. The beach has some of the most polluted water in the state, which could partially be caused by large number of seagulls that gather there. (Laura Morton/Special to the Chronicle) *** Rose Feerick
 *** David Strohm Photo: Laura Morton   

“The droppings of a seagull in a single day carried about ten times more concentrated bacteria than the waste from a human in a single day,” said EPA senior scientific officer, Peter Webster.

Seagulls are 10 times more polluting to the country’s beaches than people, according to the latest water quality report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The birds have been blamed as one of the reasons for the EPA’s decision to brand water quality at Merrion Strand in Dublin as poor, since they have taken to resting in large number on a sandbar.

“The droppings of a seagull in a single day carried about 10 times more concentrated bacteria than the waste from a human in a single day,” said EPA senior scientific officer, Peter Webster.

Six beaches, including Merrion, have been given “poor” grades, which means that local authorities will put up warnings to swimmers, but will not ban them from swimming there.

However, the EPA report found three-quarters of sites it inspected were “excellent” and 93.4 per cent met minimum EU standards – roughly in line with last year’s numbers.

Those classed as “poor” were Youghal, Co Cork; Duncannon Co Waterford; Rush south beach. Co Dublin and Ballyloughane, Co Galway all of which were first classed as “poor” in 2014, as well as Merrion Strand and Loughshinny in Dublin which were classified as poor for the first time in 2015.

No inland bathing areas were classified as having poor water quality.

EPA senior scientific officer Peter Webster said problems at Merrion Strand in south Dublin were “complex, on-going and difficult to resolve”.

Two factors had been identified. First was the presence the Trimleston and Elm Park streams which were found to be polluted with sewage. Mr Webster said this could be a result of “poor housing connections” from anywhere as far as the M50.

The second issue was an offshore sandbar which had become home to populations of seagulls and wading birds. The droppings of a seagull in a single day carried about ten times more concentrated bacteria than the waste from a human in a single day, he said.

The EPA said where bathing waters were classified as poor, the advice was not to bathe. Where such a classification was made, local authorities must publicise the advice, or in more extreme cases close the beach.

In a statement on Monday evening Fingal County Council said it had agreed a management plan for Loughshinny Beach bathing water with the EPA, “who are satisfied that the measures set out in the plan will achieve an improvement in water quality”.

In relation to the other coastal areas, remediation measures are being put in place by agreement between the local authorities and the EPA.

Mr Webster said a complicating factor in the report was that data was compiled over a four year period, so the data applying to 2015 was collected between 2012 and 2015.

In the case of Loughsinny a once-off event in 2014 had caused a major pollution leak, but previous years had pulled the overall result up. Since 2015 was marginally worse than 2011, “the data tipped” into the poor classification this year, he said.

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Monday 29th December 2014

President Higgins signs Water Services Bill into law


Áras an Uachtaráin says requests were received to refer legislation to the people

President Michael D Higgins signed the Water Services Bill into law after giving it careful consideration, a statement said.

President Higgins has today signed into law the Water Services Bill which will allow the water charges to come into effect from next week.

A statement issued from Áras an Uachtaráin today said:

“President Michael D Higgins, having given careful consideration to all aspects of the Bill and the submissions he received, today signed the Water Services Bill 2014.”

The statement added that the President had received a number of submissions about the Bill including a number of requests to refer the Bill to the people for decision under Article 27 of Bunreacht na hÉireann.

However, the statement added: “Article 27 of Bunreacht na hÉireann applies only where Bills have been deemed by virtue of Article 23 of Bunreacht na hÉireann to have been passed by the Houses of the Oireachtas.

“Article 27 of Bunreacht na hÉireann therefore did not apply in this case. The President gave consideration to the Bill, taking into account Bunreacht na hÉireann including Article 26 and the submissions received.”

Unions say- Nurses will be struck off register if €150 fee is not paid


Nurses must pay the new €150 registration fee.

Nurses and midwives have been warned they will be working illegally if they fail to pay a new €150 registration fee, due on January 1.

A row between the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland and nursing unions over a 50% hike in the annual charge that allows them to practice has deepened, after the board accused unions of “misleading” their members.

In a strongly-worded statement, the board said nurses who refuse to pay the tariff will be struck off its register in February or March after receiving a 28-day reminder notice.

It said employers, including the HSE, have confirmed they will not employ nurses and midwives who were removed from the register.

The board said unions were misleading members by advising them that it was still acceptable to pay last year’s rate of €100.

It said a badge unions were distributing in relation to the €100 payment had no legal standing, and was not an alternative to the registration certificate they were legally obliged to obtain.

More than 1,000 nurses hold protest over registration fee00:00 / 02:11

The board denied the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation’s claim that talks were under way between it, the unions and Department of Health on the charge, known as the Annual Retention Fee.

“The board would like to unequivocally state that the board has to be self-funding, which means that registration fees for 2015, due on January 1, must remain €150,” it said. “For unions to advise otherwise to registrants is misleading.”

It said it confirmed at its last meeting this year that full payment of the €150 fee was required for registrants to get a valid 2015 certificate.

In a letter to directors of nursing, INMO General Secretary Liam Doran said the annual retention fee did not have to be paid by January 1.

He said a further reminder would be sent around February 2, allowing another 28 days for payment, and no employer could interfere with nurses’ employment arrangements during this period. Mr Doran advised members to pay the existing fee of €100 after January 5, or when their “personal circumstances allow”, and claimed the board would accept it as an interim payment.

Nurses say they cannot afford the fee hike, which the board says is necessary mainly due to a rise in its legal costs. More than a thousand nurses and midwives protested at the fee hike outside its Blackrock office during a meeting of the nursing board last month.

More people die in Ireland from heart and stroke related illness

Than any other cause of death


The Irish Heart Foundation has launched a new On The Dry initiative

More people die in Ireland today from heart and stroke related illnesses than from any other cause of death.

That’s despte the fact that 80% of cardiovascualr disease is preventable.

The Irish Heart Foundation has launched a new On The Dry initiative aimed at encouraging people to give up alcohol for the month of January.

Barry Dempsey is CEO of the Irish Heart Foundation. 

He says the idea is to help people have a healthier start to the New Year while also raising funds for the charity.


Irish Heart Foundation urging adults to learn how to take their own pulse


Accordingly more than 40,000 people over 50 years old in Ireland suffer from Atrial Fibrillation

This winter the Irish Heart Foundation is urging adults to learn how to take their own pulse regularly to detect the most common heart rhythm disorder, Atrial Fibrillation, which carries a five-fold additional risk of stroke.

According to the charity, more than 40,000 people over 50 years old in Ireland suffer from Atrial Fibrillation, but the vast majority are unaware of it. In fact, just 26% of the population have heard of the condition.

Atrial Fibrillation often has no symptoms, so most people don’t know they have it. However, there can be warning signs, including: palpitations, tiredness, shortness of breath, dizziness, or feeling faint.

According to the Foundation, the causes of Atrial Fibrillation are not always clear, but the chance of developing it can go up if a person has one or more medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. Atrial Fibrillation can affect adults of any age, but it is more common as people get older.

Dr Angie Brown, Medical Director of the Irish Heart Foundation, said: “Although Atrial Fibrillation is generally not life-threatening, it is a serious condition and can lead to serious complications such as stroke and other heart problems.

“By knowing how to take your own pulse or by having it regularly checked, you can detect the condition. The recommended normal heart rate is between 60 and 100 heartbeats per minute, but some people can have heart rates over 100. You should see your doctor if you have a persistent heart rate above 120 beats per minute or below 40 beats.”

“Atrial Fibrillation is a very common cause of disabling stroke in Ireland and by raising awareness of a condition that affects tens of thousands of people in Ireland, and the need for checking your heart rate; we can prevent more strokes and ultimately save lives.”

According to the Foundation, about 10,000 people suffer strokes in Ireland annually and around 2,000 die as a result. Atrial Fibrillation is a major factor in one third of strokes. The average stroke destroys two million brain cells every minute and it can result in death or disability if people don’t Act F.A.S.T. and call 999.

 F.A.S.T. warning signs:

  • Face – has their face fallen on one side?  Can they smile?
  • Arms – can they raise both arms and keep them there?
  • Speech – is their speech slurred?
  • Time – time to call 999 if you see any one of these signs.

Cut price pub Wetherspoon’s to open 200 new bars across Ireland and UK


The company will shortly open new pubs in Cork City and Swords, Blanchardstown and Camden St in Dublin

UK pub chain JD Wetherspoon plans to open 200 new pubs across Ireland and the UK over the next five years.

The company, which will shortly open new pubs in Cork City and Swords, Blanchardstown and Camden St in Dublin, said it will invest £400m (€510m) in developing the new pubs.

“We are looking forward to opening the new pubs, many of which will be in areas where Wetherspoon is not yet represented,” Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin said.

Wetherspoon currently operates 931 pubs and employs more than 34,000 staff.

First Irish Wetherspoon pub opens its doors00:00 / 02:20

It recently made headlines for dropping Heineken products from its offering after a dispute over supply for its Irish pubs.

Wetherspoons opened its new pub, the Forty Foot, overlooking Dun Laoghaire Harbour, with neither Guinness or Murphy’s stout on tap nor Heineken or Foster’s lager.

Kegs of two English-brewed stouts were on sale at the rock bottom price of €2.50 a pint – undercutting average Dublin prices by at least €2 a pint. A selection of Irish craft beers were also on sale, including the highly rated O’Hara’s.

A selection of Irish, Czech, American and English lagers were also on offer at either €2.50 or €2.95 a pint – again a €2 or €2.50 discount on standard city prices.

And in a further blow to the established pub trade, Wetherspoons’ two Irish pubs, the Forty Foot in Dun Laoghaire and the Three Tun Tavern in Blackrock, have slashed the price of vodka, gin, whiskey and other spirits.

Premium brand Absolut vodka is selling at €3.95 with a free mixer. An extra measure costs €2 so a double vodka and tonic costs €5.95 at the Forty Foot.

Even in the notably cheap Pavillion bar at Trinity a single vodka and tonic costs €5.60. In a trendy Temple Bar pub, admittedly among the most expensive pubs in the country, a standard spirit and baby mixer costs just shy of €10.

The pub chain insisted that the decision not to sell Guinness and other Diageo-supplied beers including Budweiser, Smithwick’s and Carlsberg at the Three Tun Tavern in Blackrock, which opened in July, has not had a negative impact.

NASA’s Curiosity Rover spots alien coffin on Mars


NASA’s Curiosity Rover has found an alien coffin on Mars. The stone picture object above looks like a coffin,

The ‘coffin’ was discovered by Will Farrar from WhatsUpintheSky37 as he trawled through a library of pictures sent back by the Mars rover Curiosity.

The hunters of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) have spotted an object that looks strangely like a coffin on the Martian surface.

It looks to be about 3.2 ft (one metre) across and 1.5ft (0.4 metres) wide and high, reported Daily Mail.

“This stone object looks like a coffin,” researcher Scott Waring of the UFO Sightings Daily was quoted as saying.

According to Waring, the object may simply be a stone formation but wonders if NASA could turn the Curiosity rover around and take a closer look at the “coffin”.

The object that looks like a coffin can be a figment of imagination of the UFO watchers but if not, science will take another leap into the unknown, getting much closer this time.

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Saturday/Sunday 13 & 14th December 2014

EU seeks to end misleading food labels this week


EU shoppers and restaurant-goers should know more about what they are eating under EU labeling law that takes effect from Saturday to protect allergy-sufferers, promote healthier eating and give consumers an informed choice.

The law is supposed to prevent consumers from being misled and insists on minimum font sizes to ensure they can read the information they are given.

Food producers will have to label meat that appears to be a single chunk but in fact is made of several pieces glued together as “formed meat”.

Packaging cannot feature pictures of fruit if the product, such as a yoghurt, contains no fruit. Allergens, such as nuts, will also have to be listed, including in restaurants and cafes.

“The new rules put the consumer first by providing clearer information, and in a way that is manageable for businesses,” Vytenis Andriukaitis, the EU Commissioner in charge of health and food safety, said in a statement.

The legislation was agreed by EU member states in 2011, but the food industry was given three years to get ready for the implementation date of Dec. 13.

With the exception of food already in stock, produce on sale from Saturday will have to comply with the new requirements on clear labeling.

In addition, rules on nutrition information, for instance the salt, fat and calorific contents, are also being phased in. They are currently voluntary but become mandatory from Dec. 13, 2016.

Members of the European Parliament from across the political spectrum welcomed the rules as marking the end of misleading information.

“Consumers are given the opportunity of informed choice,” said the biggest group in the European Parliament, the centre-right European People’s Party.

Representing the European Greens, Bart Staes said consumers would be able to know where meat, for instance, came from and so whether it had involved long-distance transportation of animals.

“Vegans and vegetarians and people with allergies will have an easier time finding what they want,” Staes said, although he added he was unhappy about the exemption for alcoholic drinks, which are often high in calories.

Stroke a high risk for Well-Educated people suffering from memory lapses


People who have attained a high level of education and also complain of memory lapses may suffer a higher risk of strokes as shown in a new study. Men and women as well are equally applicable to the said results. Though researchers put it in the reverse way, the previous studies have shown how strokes resulting in memory lapses.

An associate professor of neuroepidemiology named Arfan Ikran is associated at the Erasmus University, Rotterdam, in The Netherlands.

The researchers tracked nine thousand people in Rotterdam for a period of 20 years- all the participants of the study were over 50 years of age. These subjects were asked to answer questionnaires regarding their experiences about memory problems. They found that a considerable number of the 9000 taken in for the study were already experiencing memory problems, and of them, 1134 had suffered strokes. They also conducted an analysis of the data collected and found that individuals who were experiencing memory problems had a much higher risk of being affected by stroke.

They found that there is about 39 percent increased risk of a stroke among people who had memory complaints if their level of education is high. The linkage between subjective memory complaints as well as Alzheimer’s disease among well-educated is high is comparable from the findings of the study. The journal American Heart Association journal ‘Stroke’ published the said research.

The leading author of the study says that they have yet to research further in the issue. He also claims that the team would like to make certain assessments and analyze them to know if people who complain about repeated lapses in memory or any other memory changes should be considered as primary targets for risk assessments, and that those people would also be needed to assess their risk of stroke.


Why Our Brains are wired to ignore Climate Change?

Don’t even think about it –


George Marshall explores the scientific thinking on how we perceive this issue

Environmental activists: A new social movement looking for action on climate change is gathering momentum.

The tide is starting to rise behind a new social movement looking for action on climate change. It could be seen in the 400,000 people who marched in New York on September 21st. There were no big speeches and no top table on the day. Just thousands of banners from church groups, students and unions, and lots of green hearts drawn by people who were there to tell the world they are on a personal mission to act on this issue.

If you were to point to three people among the crowd who deserve credit for getting everyone else there, you would probably pick out Bill McKibben of 350.org, the scientist James Hanson and the author Naomi Klein. All three feature on the dust cover of George Marshall’s latest book. They each acknowledge its importance in setting out what we have been getting wrong in communicating about climate change and how we might start putting it right from here.

This book is no page-turner or populist rant. It is a marketing manual for this new social movement. It is not all geology or meteorology but instead pulls together some of the best scientific thinking on how we perceive this threat in our minds. He argues that we have failed to engage the emotional side of our minds and tries to understand the spiritual and creative stories that could break us out of our guilt ridden, fearful and frozen response.

That failure to win over people’s hearts has seen the tide of popular support for climate action recede over the last seven years. If you look at any survey of what issues people immediately care about, climate will be at the bottom; only there at all because it was put on the list of options to choose between. Not only is there a public silence on the issue, there is even a silence about that silence itself.

The financial crisis and the breakdown of international climate negotiations did not help, but our biggest mistake has been how the issue has been framed in public debate. Marshall does not blame people for that. This is what is known as a ‘wicked problem’. Incredibly complex, contradictory, and constantly changing. You can’t learn about a wicked problem without trying solutions, but every solution creates consequences and new wicked problems.

He argues that we have got it wrong by concentrating on the “tailpipe” emissions rather than looking to directly restrict the source of the problem, which is the fossil fuel extractive industries. The Power of One campaign in Ireland is cited as an example of where the first approach has failed, by putting all the onus on the individual. What we need is not the power of one but the power of all.

Social movements need real targets, and a narrative of opposition needs an opponent, so he understands how McKibben has taken the approach of using the Keystone pipeline decision and fossil-fuel divestment campaigns as a way of gaining some important immediate victories.

However he believes we need bigger co-operation narratives that can bring people together on a common cause. He advises we drop the ecostuff, especially polar bears, and instead relate solutions to climate change to the sources of our own happiness. We should emphasise that action on climate change can make us proud to be who we are.

Marshall recognises that there will be a spectrum of approaches and recommends we keep an open mind and listen to what critics have to say. He interviews leading climate deniers in the US in the course of writing the book. A visit to the Climate Gathering in the Burren College of Art in the spring of 2013 also provided him inspiration. It was organised to consider this question of what new narratives around climate change will work. Everyone there agreed that the deniers have been winning the battle by framing the issue in a way that appeals to certain cultural cues that resonate with large sections of society.

To win people back Marshall believes we could learn something from the world religions. The existing climate change narrative contains no language of forgiveness. It requires people to accept their entire guilt and responsibility with no option for a new beginning. We need to make that beginning through a process of transforming the destructive feelings of guilt, blame and anger into positive emotions such as empathy and reconstruction.

That new beginning is happening and you can see new narratives appear in campaigns across the world. In the UK climate groups have ditched the slogan Stop Climate Chaos and taken up instead a For the Love Of campaign. It is starting to work. Watch this social movement grow.

Dispute between Ryanair and local council over massive banner in airline HQ


The sign on top of the Ryanair HQ in Airside, Swords which an Bord Pleanala say should be removed. 

A massive banner hanging on Ryanair’s new headquarters in Dublin “does not currently provide any useful information” and the local council wants it removed.

But the airline has dug its heels in and taken a planning dogfight to An Bord Pleanala, which next year will have the final say in the spat.

The huge sign claims that Ryanair “saved Europe €9.1bn in 2013”, but Fingal County Council insists the banner is “unacceptable”.

The council’s planning officer said the message on the sign should be communicated by other means.

“The current signage displayed does not direct or provide any useful information,” added the officer, noting that Ryanair said the banner could be used in future to advertise jobs with the airline.

“Both advertisements would be more usefully conveyed through television, radio, and the print media or through the internet,” the official added.

But the airline is not taking the decision lying down.

It has paid €4,500 to lodge an appeal with An Bord Pleanala, which will make a ruling on the case by April.

Ryanair claims in its appeal that it’s the “largest airline in the world” and points out that it’s a major employer in Fingal.

New climate change road map after marathon negotiations


Sleepless delegates end Lima talks with foundations for major agreement next year

Late-night wrangling between UN members in Lima secured agreement between developing and rich nations on a framework to cut pollution.

After a marathon round of negotiations in Lima, sleepless delegates from all over the world have produced a road map that should lead to a historic international agreement on climate change in Paris next December.

But the Lima Call for Climate Action, brokered by Peruvian environment minister Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, was strongly criticised by observers as weak, heavily compromised and inadequate to the challenge of tackling global warming.

As representatives of nearly 190 countries convened for the final plenary session in the early hours of Sunday morning, climate activists chanted outside the large tented hall, holding banners demanding justice for the poor.

“Our concerns have proven to be tragically accurate,” said Jagoda Munic, chair of Friends of the Earth International.

‘Desperately lacking’

“This text is desperately lacking in ambition, leadership, justice and solidarity for the people worst-hit by the climate crisis.”

Greenpeace’s Martin Kaiser said governments “have just kicked the can further down the road by shifting all the difficult decisions into the future . . . Time is running out and solutions must be delivered before climate chaos becomes inevitable.”

Former president Mary Robinson said Lima had managed to keep the multilateral UN process alive, but did not “give confidence that the world is ready to adopt an equitable and ambitious, legally binding climate agreement in Paris next year”.

Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly, whose place was taken at the conference by Minister for Energy and Natural Resources Alex White, said the negotiations had been “difficult” and paid tribute to Peru for having secured a “broad consensus”.

But Ciara Kirrane, co-ordinator of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition, who was attending her first UN climate conference, expressed dismay that Ireland was among the few countries which had failed to pledge support for the Green Climate Fund.

‘Climate finance’

Alden Meyer, policy director with the Union of Concerned Scientists, noted “deep and long-standing divisions on major issues including climate finance”, saying these had “nearly derailed the process in Lima” and could even block a deal in Paris.

However, conference president Mr Pulgar-Vidal said delegates had left Lima “with a far clearer vision of what the draft Paris agreement will look like as we head into 2015 and the next round of negotiations in Geneva” – scheduled for February.

UN climate chief Christiana Figueres said they reached “a new level of realism and understanding about what needs to be done now, over the next 12 months and into the years and decades to come if climate change is to be truly and decisively addressed”.

New solidarity

The Like-Minded Developing Countries group had feared that “ghosts of the past would be resurrected” – a reference by Malaysia to the shambles of the 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen – but instead Lima had forged a new solidarity among them.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon called on all parties, especially the world’s major economies, to submit “ambitious national commitments well in advance of Paris” and said he would be working Peru and France on an “action agenda” for Paris.

Lima Call for Climate Action – main points:

l Calls for an “ambitious” agreement in Paris next December, based on the “differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities” of developed and developing countries.

l Intended nationally determined contributions (or INDCs) are to be submitted in the first quarter of 2015 by countries that are “ready to do so”, but with no review of their adequacy.

l Countries may set targets to cut emissions that go beyond their current pledges, and the UNFCCC secretariat will report back on their collective impact in November 2015.

l Rich countries are to continue providing financial support to more vulnerable poorer countries, starting with the $10 billion already pledged to the UNFCCC’s Green Climate Fund.

l The final text also restored the promise of a loss-and-damage mechanism for poor countries in the frontline of climate change, a scheme that had been dropped from an earlier version of the agreement.