Tag Archives: tax receipts

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Monday 4th April 2016

Shane Ross says ‘we won’t negotiate with Fine Gael’ under the threat of another election’


Shane Ross (left) of the Independent Alliance.

Shane Ross said the Independent Alliance would not negotiate with Fine Gael “under threat” of another General Election.

The Dublin Rathdown TD criticised Health Minister Leo Varadkar after he posted a picture of his Election posters and wrote they were “ready to be deployed” again on Twitter.

Mr Ross said his group of Independents “would certainly not take that threat” of a second vote “seriously” ahead of talks with Fine Gael.

“We’re not going to negotiate under threat. We’re not going to take that sort of nonsense from Varadkar or anybody else…that there’s a General Election threatened to us, he said.

“We won’t regard that as something we’ll respond to positively. We’re certainly not going to take that threat seriously.”

Mr Ross denied that it was “inevitable” there would be another election as TDs prepare to vote for a Taoiseach again on Wednesday, when a clear result is not expected.

He and other Independent TDs said they shared the public’s frustration as government-forming negotiations continue more than a month after polling day.

“You’d need the patience of Saint Job to put up with what’s going on (with Fine Gael and Fianna Fail) and their refusal to meet until next Wednesday,” he added.

Waterford TD John Halligan said the Independent Alliance would not shy away from another General Election this year if it came about.

“We’re not afraid of another election,” he said.

“The people have already spoken. It is unfair to go back to the people and say, ‘we don’t like how you voted’ but if we have to face the electorate, we’re prepared to face them.”

Euro zone unemployment rate at lowest level since 2011

Jobless rate in 19-nation euro zone fell to 10.3% in February, new figures show


The unemployment rate in the 19 countries that use the euro inched down to 10.3% in February in another token of the currency union’s modest recovery.

The rate fell from 10.4 per cent in January, the European Union’s statistics agency Eurostat said Monday. January’s figure was revised up from 10.3%.

The job numbers underlined that Europe’s recovery remains only moderate. The number of jobless people fell by only 39,000 in February, compared to a drop of 118,000 in January. Still, there are 1.3 million fewer people without work compared to the same month a year earlier, and the jobless rate is the lowest since August 2011.

“Fewer Eurozone jobless, together with deflation-negligible inflation, should be supportive to consumer spending,” wrote Howard Archer, chief European and UK economist at IHS Economics, in an emailed note. “Consumer spending will likely be key if Eurozone growth can regain momentum over the coming months after stuttering recently.”

Archer said he expected the jobless rate to dip under 10% later this year.

Germany had the lowest jobless rate at 4.3% thanks to a strong domestic economy and its traditional export strength in machines and auto.

But the rate remains painfully high in Spain at 20.4% and Greece at 24.0%.

The European Central Bank last month increased its stimulus measures to boost the recovery and raise weak inflation. Those steps include pumping newly printed money into the banking system through bond purchases in an attempt to expand credit to companies.

Irish income tax and VAT fall below target for March 2016

Exchequer figures show health overspending last month but corporate tax payments push overall returns ahead of target


Income tax and VAT collections dropped below target in March but another surge in corporate tax payments helped bring the overall monthly return ahead of target. New figures also point to health overspending in March.

Exchequer data for March presents a mixed picture, as the overall tax return in the first three months of the year was ahead of target and ahead of the return in the same period in 2015.

Tax collection reached €11.14 billion to End-March. “This represents a year-on-year increase of €667 million (6.4%) and is €119 million (1.1%) above profile,” said the Department of Finance.

“However, allowing for €108 million of tax receipts delayed until April 1st due to a payment related timing issue, tax revenue is up €775 million (7.4%) year-on-year and €227million (2.1%) above profile.”

As talks continue on the formation of the next government, however, the data shows income tax collections were 12% behind target in March and that VAT collections were 4% behind target.

Income tax receipts, including the universal social charge, reached €1.22 billion in March, €165 million less than the €1.38 billion forecast by the department. The return in March was €136 million or 10.1% less than the same month in 2015.

Income tax receipts reached €4.36 billion in the first three months of the year, up €114 million or 2.7% on a year-on-year basis. This was €153 million or 3.4% below target, which the department attributed to “an underperformance across a range of income tax components.”

VAT returns in March came in at €1.49 billion, €62 million or 4% behind target. In the first three months the total VAT return was €3.89 billion, €193 million or 4.7% below target.

“When consideration is made for[circa] €75 million of VAT receipts delayed from March into early April, receipts for the month are actually up €13 million or 0.8 per cent against target,” the department said.

“Looking at the cumulative performance, VAT receipts are actually up €173 million year-on-year, an increase of 4.5% but down €118 million or 2.9% against profile. This is in line with the positive data from February with retail sales up year-on-year, both in volume and value terms.”

In the terms of the overall return for the first three months, the income tax and VAT underperformance was masked a sharp rise in corporate tax receipts and a big rise in excise duties.

The figures show the State collected €407 million in corporate tax in March, €304 million or 296% more than forecast for the month. Corporate tax payments in the first three months were €654 million, €305 million or 87% ahead of target.

The surge represents a continuation of trends seen in 2015 when corporate tax returns came in well ahead of target.

Excise duties in March reached €575 million, €117 million ahead of target for the months. Collections in for the first three months reached €1.52 billion, €114 million or 8.1% ahead of target.

The Exchequer deficit at the end of March was €1.17 billion, compared to a €197 million surplus in the same period in 2015.

The dis-improvement in the Exchequer balance was “primarily due” to the base effect of the transfer last year of €1.63 billion from the National Pension Reserve Fund to the Exchequer.

“Excluding the impact of this significant one-off transaction, there was an underlying year-on-year improvement in Q1 2016 of €267 million driven by increased tax revenue,” the department said.

Total net voted expenditure reached €10.18 billion, €15 million or 0.2% below profile and €71 million lower on a year-on-year basis.

Net voted current expenditure at €9.73 million to End-March was “marginally above” profile by €11 million. “The largest overspend of €38 million was recorded in the Department of Health, up 1.1% on profile.”

Nearly half (42%) of Irish workers inactive during the day

Number of people exercising the recommended amount in decline, new research shows


Just over a quarter (26%) of Ireland’s workforce exercise at the recommended level of over 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week, according to new research.

42% of Irish workers have said they are either “totally” or “extremely” inactive during their working day.

Fewer people are exercising at the recommended weekly levels than they were 15 months ago, according to new research from the Nutrition and Health Foundation (NHF).

Just over a quarter (26%) of Ireland’s workforce exercise at the recommended level of over 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week, the research found.

The survey was conducted online by Behaviour & Attitudes on a nationally representative sample of 18-65 year olds employed in the Republic.

The fieldwork was carried out from 25th January to 2nd February 2016 and a total of 996 employees participated in the survey.

The research was commissioned to mark Ireland’s second National Workplace Wellbeing Day on Friday, 8th April.

Hundreds of organisations across the public and private sector are expected to participate in the campaign which aims to improve employee health by promoting better nutrition and exercise in the workplace.

As part of this year’s activities, employers are also being encouraged to arrange a “Lunchtime Mile” – a one-mile cycle, jog, run, or walk for employees in the vicinity of their workplace.

Dr Muireann Cullen of the Nutrition & Health Foundation said: “A healthier workforce is in everyone’s interest. Four out of five employees believe there is a positive link between their health and wellbeing and their company’s productivity.

“Seven in ten (69 per cent) also say they are more likely to stay longer with employers who show an interest in their health and wellbeing.”

Ireland’s public health nurses under severe strain,

INMO issues call for commission to investigate role of nurses in primary care system


Four out of five nurses reported not having the time to update case notes.

The community and public health nursing system is under severe strain due to rising demand and falling staff numbers, a new report says.

Over half the nurses surveyed for the report said patients had missed out on care over the preceding week because of pressures on staff.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), which commissioned the report, has called for the establishment of a commission to investigate the sector. It says the group should report back within a year on the role nurses should play in the primary care system and on the resourcing of their work.

The report found the main area of “missed care” was in health promotion, particularly in relation to older people and the management of chronic diseases. Nurses tended to prioritise clinical work such as injections or dressings or legislative obligations such as child protection at the expense of health promotion and disease prevention.

The care of older people on the risk register was identified as a particular challenge, with 70% of nurses saying they had been unable to address this work in the preceding week.

Disadvantaged groups such as asylum seekers, the homeless, migrants and Missed care

Travellers were most likely to miss out on care from a community nurse, the study by UCD’s school of nursing found.

Four out of five nurses reported not having the time to update case notes. And a lack of administrative support and inadequate staffing levels were identified as having a significant impact on the problem of missed care.

Co-author Dr Amanda Phelan said that while the population had increased and eligibility for public health nursing services was expanding with the rising allocation of medical cards, staff levels were falling. The INMO says there are 200 fewer community nurses compared to 2009.

“We’re going off a cliff,” said public health nurse Mary Leahy. “There has been a phenomenal loss of workforce, just as primary care is being sold as the panacea for everything in health.”

INMO general secretary Liam Doran said it was “no coincidence” that attendances to hospital emergency departments were up 9% this year, given the strain the community nursing sector was under.

One in six community nurses said they were dealing with a population of more than 10,000. The INMO says it was originally intended that each nurse would serve a population of just 2,500.

NUIG begins research on black widow spider venom to treat cancer?


The false black widow spider known as the Steatoda nobilis.

NUI Galway is at the forefront of research into the venom from false black widow spiders which may have anti-cancer properties.

An NUI Galway scientist has begun the research on venom variations from the false black widow spider and its therapeutic potential for anti-cancer properties.

This is the first time the research is being carried out at NUI Galway.

The venom will be tested on different lines of human cancerous cells. This is the first time that an Irish bug is being investigated for its potent bio-activity and the first time that venom from this particular spider is being investigated.

Dr Michel Dugon, an Irish Research Council Fellow in Botany and an Adjunct Lecturer in Zoology at the School of Natural Sciences in NUI Galway, is carrying out the research on the rapid evolution of spider venom and its potential therapeutic applications.

Mr Dugon will use the venom from a local invasive spider, the false black widow, known as the Steatoda nobilis, which arrived in Ireland in 1997 and is well known in the British Isles as ‘the most venomous spider in the UK’. There is evidence of people having fairly serious effects from the bite of this spider, which result in symptoms similar to a wasp or bee sting, but until now the venom has never been studied.

In his research Dr Dugon is using the false black widow spider as a model to determine: if there is some truth regarding the potency of their venom; if the venom is in fact different between populations, which would explain why this spider has such a bad reputation in Ireland and the UK but not in its native range in Madeira and the Canary Islands; and if the venom has potential anticancer properties.

Commenting on the new study, Dr Michel Dugon said: “These toxins, once rearranged, can become powerful tools for the treatment of diseases. It is already asserted that each species of spider possesses its own cocktail of toxins, giving unique properties to its venom. Worldwide, this represents at least 40,000 toxic blends that might hold treatments for diseases crippling millions of people.”

Scientists have now figured out how to program living cells


Imagine a future where you can be injected with bacteria carrying designer DNA that releases cancer-fighting drugs when it finds a tumor in your body.

A team of biological engineers at MIT have taken a big step toward this future with the development of a new programming language that allows for the quick design of complex functions for DNA sequences that can be put into living cells.

These functions can include detecting or responding to specific issues, like a high temperature or a tumor.

Christopher Voigt, a biological engineering professor at MIT, explained how it works.

“You use a text-based language, just like you’re programming a computer,” said Voigt. “Then you take that text and you compile it and it turns it into a DNA sequence that you put into the cell, and the circuit runs inside the cell.”

Until now, building a biological circuit could take as long as a year, however the new program means “you just hit the button and immediately get a DNA sequence to test,” said Voigt.

Computers to cells

The language is based on the hardware description language Verilog, which has been more commonly used to design digital circuits.

To make it work for living cells, the researchers designed computing elements, such as sensors, that can be encoded into a DNA sequence.

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Wednesday 2nd. March 2016

Irish exchequer tax receipts come in ahead of target

Exchequer returns show that Revenue collected €7.2bn by the end of February

 Above projection figs.  

Exchequer figures released on Wednesday afternoon by the Department of Finance show that Revenue collected €7.2 billion by the end of February, €478 million more than in the same period in 2015.

Tax collection rose by €478 million in the first two months of the year as the public finances took the benefit of increased employment and surging car sales.

Exchequer figures show that Revenue collected €7.2 billion by the end of February, 7.1% more than than in the same two months last year.

The rate of increase was higher than the 5.8% foreseen in the October budget for the entire year. However, the January-February data show the return was €34 million or 0.5% behind the Department of Finance target.

There was a blip in VAT returns. Data show that €310 million VAT collection in February – a non-VAT due month for traders – was €109 million lower than in the same period in 2015.

This has been attributed to higher VAT repayments by Revenue to traders as they increase stocks. VAT receipts in the year to date stand at €2.41 billion, €43 million more than in the first two months of 2015.

Expenditure control

At the same time, the figures reflect tight expenditure control. Although €6.56 billion net spending was €56 million lower than forecast, any spending overruns typically do not arise until the later months of the year.

The exchequer was in surplus to the tune of €310 million at the end of February, a figure which was in contrast to the €205 million deficit recorded in the opening two months of 2015.

  • Exchequer returns: Revenue collects €4.5bn in January.

“This €515 million improvement in the exchequer balance is driven by increased tax receipts and reduced expenditure,” the department said.

“Overall, the release shows the Government broadly on track to hit its fiscal target this year,” said Davy economist David McNamara.

“An important point to remember is that the impact of any change in fiscal policy by the next government will not be felt in the numbers until 2017, while EU rules will limit any radical change in course.”

Peter Vale, tax partner at Grant Thornton, said the data would give comfort tothe next minister for finance that the public finances were in good shape. He argued, however, that the reliance on income tax as a percentage of all taxes was too high.

Income tax

Income tax receipts to end-February reached €3.14 billion, up €251 million or 8.7 per cent on the same period in 2015 .

“This performance is consistent with the recovering labour market, employment growth and increases in the average weekly earnings as evidenced by the latest quarterly national household survey and earnings releases,” the department said.

Excise duties reached €946 million in the first two months, a €168 million or 21.6 per cent increase on 2015. “A contributory factor is an increase in car sales which has boosted VRT receipts,” said the department.

Corporation tax receipts stood at €248 million for the first months, largely on target after a big rise in payments during 2015.

Total exchequer debt servicing costs to end-February 2016 were €422 million, down €169 million or 28.6 per cent on the same period last year .

“This decrease is primarily due to lower interest payments on International Monetary Fund loans following the completion of early repayments in March 2015,” the department said.

It also cited “timing factors” around interest payments on loans from the European Financial Stability Facility, the euro zone rescue fund from which Ireland drew big loans during the EU/IMF bailout.

Election result is not a victory for anti-abortion lobby? (Renua)

Candidates who specifically positioned themselves as against choice failed miserably


The Renua party failed to elect one any candidates, including Lucinda Creighton, viewed as one of the most recognisable and vocal TDs against abortion.

It won’t go unnoticed amongst marriage equality campaigners that several candidates who were to the fore during last year’s referendum failed to get elected, most notably Averil Power, Aodhán Ó Riordáin,John Lyons, Alex White and Jerry Buttimer.

Did they lose their seats because people don’t care about marriage equality? No, they lost their seats because of a largely anti-government vote.

For those who want to see social justice issues and reproductive rights to the fore as the next Dáil takes shape (if it ever does), it is of course concerning that the Labour Party has been decimated to the extent that it has. There is a feeling that if Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael end up forming a coalition, that so-called “liberal” issues will take a backseat. But in case no one has noticed, they generally always have.

The marriage equality referendum was a people’s movement, pushed to the fore by a legal case, a protest movement, campaigning, lobbying, and a popular appetite for equality that grew in tandem with a global movement. Without disrespecting Labour’s involvement in marriage equality it was an issue that was fought for and won by citizens. Labour took up the baton when in government.

People choose who they’re going to vote for for a variety of reasons, and when a smaller coalition partner is punished, good people are always going to lose their seats because they have been perceived as guilty by association, no matter how glowing their achievements were. There has been a lot of chatter online in recent days about another burgeoning people’s movement, the campaign to repeal the Eighth amendment.

Marriage equality

While it can be tempting to tie the marriage equality movement and the pro-choice movement in Ireland together, they are very separate issues. Ireland was at the vanguard of change when it came to LGBT equality last year, yet on reproductive rights, we trail miserably behind most countries.

The prospect of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael forming a coalition would obviously create a very conservative government, but in general, politicians have never been to the fore of championing women’s reproductive rights here. That drive has been, and will continue to be, a people’s movement, something that has to be fought for and demanded and dragged out of them.

If we are going to wait for politicians to spearhead it, we’d be waiting a long, long, time, and in fact, we have. What has changed about the movement to repeal the Eighth has very little to do with the political makeup of our governments, and everything to do with a change in perception of the public on the issue, a cracking open of conversations and a desire for progress.

Politicians have avoided talking about it, but outside of our political institutions, the public conversation has only grown louder. This movement will not stop, no matter who is in government. If anything, a conservative government will galvanise it further.

Dissecting where individual politicians and parties stand on reproductive rights does show progress, however. Despite Enda Kenny’s deflections when it came to making abortion an election issue, it was. Like marriage equality, it is a grassroots movement. But it has also been given a new lease of life by young people who are dissatisfied with waiting around for the system to anoint change, and are instead demanding it themselves.

The Life Institute, an anti-abortion group, accidentally provided a decent guide of where candidates were on a pro-choice spectrum, in an attempt to inform voters about which ones were against choice.

Repealing eight amendment.

By the Life Institute’s own count, 150 candidates who ran in this election had a declared anti-abortion position, contrasted with 356 candidates they listed who are in favour of repealing the Eighth, or whose voting patterns had declared a pro-choice stance on abortion.

Another indication of where candidates stood on supporting holding a referendum was a candidate’s pledge compiled by the Coalition to Repeal the Eighth Amendment, or Repeal Eight. 177 candidates signed the Repeal Eight’s pledge, a high number given that Fine Gael candidates do not sign such pledges, the exception on this occasion being Kate O’Connell who was elected in Dublin Bay South.

Candidates who specifically positioned themselves as anti-choice failed miserably. If maintaining the Eighth Amendment was a priority for the Irish public, then Renua, seen largely as an anti-abortion party, would have swept the boards. Instead, they failed to elect one any candidates, including Lucinda Creighton, viewed as one of the most recognisable and vocal TDs against abortion.

In Dublin Bay North, where Power and Ó Riordáin failed to get elected,Tommy Broughan listed repealing the Eighth as one of his election priorities. Finian McGrath signed the Repeal Eighth’s pledge to support a referendum, as did Sinn Féin’s Denise Mitchell.

In Dublin Bay South, which rejected Lucinda Creighton, Kate O’Connell of Fine Gael also signed the pledge, as did Eamon Ryan. When I asked Eoghan Murphy about the issue on Twitter, he replied with a screengrab of his newsletter, which stated “We must tackle Direct Provision and the housing crisis, repeal the 8th amendment, and protect our environment by addressing Climate Change.”

Fianna Fáil targets.

Fianna Fáil set out their stall well before the election campaign, with Micheál Martin saying that the party “would not initiate moves to repeal the 8th.” Fine Gael’s position on the issue attempted so many sidesteps that it merely tripped up, with a free vote promised, but not before Enda Kenny’s idea to have a constitutional convention take two.

At the time of writing, Fine Gael has 49 TDs, Fianna Fáil 44, Sinn Féin 23, Labour six, the Anti-Austerity Alliance – People Before Profit six, Social Democrats three, the Green Party two.

Outside of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, 40 members of other parties have policies to repeal the Eighth amendment. Of the independent groupings, Independents 4 Change (Mick Wallace, Clare Daly, Joan Collins, Tommy Broughan) are all in favour of repealing the eighth amendment. Seamus Healyalso signed Repeal Eight’s pledge.

Of the Independent Alliance six TDs, Finian McGrath and John Halligansigned Repeal Eight’s pledge.

Of the 12 remaining independents elected, amongst them are Katherine Zappone, who along with her wife Ann Louise Gilligan is perhaps the best known champion for marriage equality in Ireland, and who ran on a platform of equality and a strong feminist stance. That’s before you count those in Fine Gael who want at least a referendum on the issue.

While there might be smugness in some quarters that oppose reproductive rights for women in Ireland in the aftermath of this election, the campaign to repeal the eighth amendment is not going to go away. Ignited loudly in 2015, its voice will continue to roar in 2016 until it is listened to, and until the people are allowed to answer themselves.

Irish Water abolition ‘could cost Irish State up to €7bn’


Irish Water says abolition of the charges would put Ireland in breach of European rules on the water framework directive and Europe’s “polluter pays” principle.

The abolition of Irish Water by a new government would cost the State up to €7 billion over the next five years, according to internal estimates by the State-owned utility.

The estimates envisage the losses occurring under four categories: cash costs, sunk costs, benefits forgone and the lost possibility of getting its debts off the exchequer’s books.

With Ireland’s water and sewerage infrastructure in need of a multi-year investment programme costing well over €500 million a year, the issue will have a crucial impact on the incoming government’s ability to spend money on public services and/or tax cuts.

The cash costs have been estimated at about €100 million, and largely involve paying off staff who would not be transferred to local authorities. It would also include the cost of breaking leases and contracts, and the costs of transferring back the property already put into Irish Water ownership.

Sunk costs are categorised as expenditure the value of which would be lost if the company was abolished or water charges ended. Some €500 million has been spent on the metering system, and another €170 million on establishing the financial, procurement and customer processing systems that Irish Water uses.

  • What’s going on with Irish Water?

The benefits forgone are the domestic water charges valued at €1.6 billion that would be collected in the period to 2021, and a further €1.6 billion in savings that are part of the utility’s business plan to 2021.

The State balance sheet

The final issue is whether Irish Water’s borrowings could be kept off the State’s balance sheet, something that is decided on in Europe.

At present the utility does not qualify, in large part because of the Government’s decision to give people water conservation grants.

Without water charges, the utility cannot pass the Eurostat test. The achievement of savings, and an increase in domestic customers paying their water charges, which stands at about 63%, will be key to passing the Eurostat test. Late-payment charges begin to apply from July.

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney told RTÉ’s Prime Time last night that Fine Gael will certainly be willing to talk about water during negotiations on the formation of a new government.

Fianna Fáil has said, if in government, it would abolish the controversial company and suspend water charges but the move could see hundreds of jobs being lost in party leader Micheál Martin’s constituency. About 400 people at Abtran’s Cork facility are involved in providing outsourced customer services to Irish Water. Direct employment losses at the utility would be about 500 but a shared services centre in Cork, used by Irish Water and Gas Networks Ireland, would also be likely to let some 100 staff go if the company closes.

Sinn Féin also campaigned on a policy of abolishing Irish Water and water charges. Its newly elected TD for Dublin Bay North, Denise Mitchell, on Tuesday said her party stood on a platform to abolish water charges and it would be a priority in the new Dáil. Newly elected TDs from smaller groups and parties have also supported abolition of the utility.

With Irish Water already taking central control for such issues as procurement, insurance, and an investment plan for a fully mapped water and sewerage system, some experts question if the abolition of the utility was possible. “It would be like putting the toothpaste back in the tube,” said one.

They also pointed out that abolition of the charges would put Ireland in breach of European rules on the water framework directive and Europe’s “polluter pays” principle. The potential fine for such a breach could be in the region of €120 million.

It’s Boeing 767 plane sailing for Sligo embalmer’s glamping dream


A Sligo funeral director and embalmer has revealed his plans to move a grounded Boeing 767 aircraft from Shannon Airport to his Enniscrone Sligo home town to use it for camping accommodation in his field.

David McGowan revealed his plans to start a “Quirky Glamping Village” in his field in Enniscrone, West Sligo — and how he hopes to host guests in converted vehicles of various types.

https://youtu.be/ROMHYAuk0Fc  “I got the idea of turning old types of transportation into accommodation,” Mr McGowan told the Anton Savage Show on Today FM. “I rang around the three different airports, Dublin, Cork and Shannon and Shannon was the only one that got back to me and they said they had one but that it was no good to me.”

The plane in Shannon was an engineless 159-foot long, 70 tonne, Boeing 767 with a 140-metre wingspan. The airport told Mr McGowan they believed it would be too big for him.

“I went down and looked at it and said ‘Right, I’m thinking of putting this in my back garden,” he said. However the plane, left behind by a Russian company that went into liquidation, was firmly sealed with frozen bolts. Having bought it for €20,000, Mr McGowan then tried to figure a way of moving it by road.

“We put the whole process into place and engineered the whole thing and after eight months we found that there were two bridges in Clare that we just couldn’t get under,” he said.

“We were all about to do it but these bridges were giving us a problem, and the county councils wouldn’t allow me put a crane on the bridge to lift it over because they didn’t want me stopping traffic going into Limerick City.

“I had 136 ESB wires to lift, I had 23 traffic lights to lift, I had 97 Telecom Éireann wires to lift.

“I went down to a meeting and you couldn’t convince three local authorities to put 500 tonne cranes on these things, sure you could collapse the bridge.

“So there was no point in even bringing engineers in to try and convince them, you just walk away and come up with another plan. I wasn’t determined to be beat. So – the sea,” Mr McGowan said.

“The option of going by sea, instead of the road, means there is a possibility I can get this jet intact.”

Using a barge from Liverpool, Mr McGowan plans to bring the plane up the west coast to Enniscrone.

Having studied the tides, he hopes to make the move between March 21 and 26, during high tide.

Irish life expectancy in 1916 was just 53 years of age

‘Life in 1916 Ireland’ research crunches the numbers on centenary of Easter Rising.


Some 1916 photograph’s: from Dublin Six Days after the Insurrection? 2016.

A new statistical picture of life in Ireland in 1916 shows just how much can change in a century.

If you lived in the time of the Easter Rising, your name was far more likely to be John or Mary and if you managed to avoid the prospect of death in childhood, you would probably succumb by the age of 53 with a good chance of bronchitis or tuberculosis being the cause.

It was a world in which children as young as three were sent to industrial schools while families squeezed into almost 24,000 one-room tenements in Dublin alone.

Society was bereft of variety, in food, movement and places of birth; it was an unsurprisingly homogeneous world.

The statistical mirror of Ireland a century ago is the product of arduous research conducted by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) as its contribution to centenary celebrations.

Much of the data, published on Wednesday, is based on the 1911 census and other material as closely applicable to 1916 as possible.

The compendium of history, titled Life in 1916 Ireland: Stories from Statisticsis available on the CSO website for anyone wishing to step back in time.

“Things were very poor back then so poverty jumps out at you, the lack of variety. From some simple things like names, people felt they could only use certain names for their babies,” explained Helen Cahill, the lead statistician on the project.

“We have average prices of groceries that people bought. There was very little variety in food.”

Dublin was a “city of extremes in housing” with 22 per cent having more than 10 rooms and 36 per cent one-bedroom tenements (23,977).

Half of the workforce was in agriculture compared with a paltry 5 per cent in modern Ireland while 10 per cent of people were employed in domestic service.

Some popular names

If you were born 100 years ago the most popular names for boys were, in order, John, Patrick and James, compared with Jack, James and Daniel in 2014.

For girls, the trend was Mary, Bridget and Margaret compared with Emily, Sophie and Emma.

The same census material shows that in 1911, just 0.7 per cent of people here were born outside the UK and Ireland, compared with 11.2 per cent today.

In 1916, more than 8,000 children lived in industrial schools, and some reformatory schools, although the numbers admitted that year were the lowest in some time (1,001).

“The infant mortality rates were just phenomenally high and in Dublin in particular they were sky high,” explained Ms Cahill.

“The average rate in the State was 81. So for every 1,000 babies born in 1916, 81 were dead before their first birthday. The rate for Dublin city was 153.”

With the decline of church influence, marriage statistics have also changed. In 1916, 92 per cent of 15,207 unions were in Catholic churches, compared with a little under 60 per cent in 2014. Conversely, 28 per cent of marriages were civil ceremonies in 2014. That figure was less than 1 per cent a century ago.

About one in eight deaths in 1916 were due to bronchitis or pneumonia (6,708 fatalities) and the same rate for tuberculosis (6,471). Combined, those conditions killed 1,012 people in 2014.

In 1915, there were 359,700 farms of more than one acre compared with 139,860 of more than one hectare (2.5 acres) in 2010, a decline of more than 60 per cent.

And while car sales slumped in the recent recession, the 1.9 million registered in 2014 dwarfed the mere 9,850 of 1915.

Parts of Great Barrier Reef face permanent destruction due to El Nino


Parts of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef face permanent destruction if the current El Nino, one of the strongest in two decades, does not ease this month, scientists said on Wednesday.

The El Nino is a result of a warming of the ocean in the western Pacific — ideal conditions for coral bleaching, where coral expels living algae, causing it to calcify. Coral can only survive within a narrow band of ocean temperature.

The scientists said areas of the Great Barrier Reef, a world heritage site, are experiencing the worst bleaching in 15 years.

Coral around Lizard Island off the tropical city of Cairns has seen the most widespread bleaching, with 80 per cent of its coral bleached under unrelenting sunlight, Dr Anne Hoggett, director, Lizard Island Research Station told Reuters.

“Bleaching is a clear signal that living corals are under physiological stress. If that stress is bad enough for long enough, the corals can die,” said Dr Russell Reichelt, chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said.

“What happens now will be entirely dependent on local weather conditions,” said Reichelt.

Scientists said the Great Barrier Reef needs a break in El Nino conditions within weeks if some coral areas are to survive.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s most recent forecast calls for a continuation of El Nino conditions.

This year will be the hottest on record and 2016 could be even hotter due to the El Nino weather pattern, the World Meteorological Organization

The Great Barrier Reef stretches 2,000 km along Australia’s northeast coast and is the world’s largest living ecosystem. It brings in billions of dollars a year in tourism revenue.

UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee last May stopped short of placing the Great Barrier Reef on an “in danger” list, but the ruling raised long-term concerns about its future due to climate change.

While the El Nino is set to ease by the middle of 2016, according to the BOM, the weather system – which brings hot, dry conditions to Australia’s east coast – is seen as foreshadowing the likely impact of future climate change.

“Coral is the canary in the mine,” said Hoggett of the looming threat from climate change.

News Ireland daily news BLOG by DONIE

Wednesday 5th August 2015

Irish tax take almost €900m above target for first seven months 2015

Public finances boosted by surge in corporation tax receipts


Michael Noonan’s department said corporation tax receipts were €653m above target.

Tax revenues in the first seven months of the year came in almost €900 million ahead of target as a surge in corporation tax payments delivered a fillip to the public finances.

Figures released this afternoon by the Department of Finance point to a budget deficit of €648 million between January and July, compared with a €5.18 billion deficit in the same period last year. On a like-for-like basis, excluding once-off transactions, the deficit comes in around €2.6 billion in the period.

Tax revenue reached €24.54 billion in the first seven months of 2015, €2.16 billion higher than in 2014.

The data reflects tight control over spending, with €22.92 billion net voted expenditure coming in €352 million or 1.4 per cent below profile and €65 million ahead of the same period in 2014.

The latest exchequer returns are in line with forecasts, suggesting full year tax receipts will overshoot budget day targets by some €1.4 billion.

Payments were €800 million above profile at the end of June and the new batch of figures indicate they came in €893 million above profile by end July, a gain in the month of some €93 million.

Corporation tax

By far the biggest excess over profile was in corporation tax returns , which stood at €2.9 billion at end July and were €778 million ahead of the same period in 2014 and €653 million above the budget day target.

Total receipts under the heading in July, at €3.92 billion, were almost exactly the same as in the same month last year.

While payments in July 2015 were €6 million higher, the Department said €285 million in corporation tax receipts were delayed from June to July last year for technical reasons. “Therefore … tax receipts in July were actually up €291 million or 8% when compared to the same month last year,” the Department said.

The Government collected €9.76 billion in income tax in the first seven months of the year, €21 million above profile and up €517 million on a year-on-year basis. “For the month of July, income tax was €33 million or 2.2% below profile, which is wholly attributable to weak DIRT receipts on the back of low interest rates,” said the Department.

VAT receipts reached €7.67 billion in the period to end July, up €560 million year-on-year and above profile by €79 million. “VAT receipts for July, which are reflective of the May / June trading period, were €43 million (2.6%) above profile,” the Department said.

Jobs recovery stalls as youth unemployment edges up

Data shows jobless rate unchanged at 9.7% but lowest since 2009


The jobs recovery stalled in July, as the rate of unemployment remained unchanged at 9.7%, while youth unemployment rose slightly during the month, up to 20.2%.

According to figures from the Central Statistics Officer leased on Wednesday, the unemployment rate was unchanged in July, with some 208,900 people without a job, up by 300 on June, but down by 32,400 on July 2014.

At 9.7%, this is the lowest rate since January 2009 but is the third consecutive month of no change in the unemployment rate.

David McNamara, economist with Davy Stockbrokers, said that the figures were “slightly disappointing” given the positive signals on hiring by firms.

“Nonetheless, consumer confidence did fall in July, perhaps impacted by concerns about the Greek crisis, and this could have influenced hiring decisions by firms,” he said, adding that he expects unemployment to continue on a downward trajectory in the coming months.

The unemployment rate for men stood at 10.8% in July, unchanged from June 2015 but down from 12.8% in July 2014. The rate for women was also unchanged in July, at 8.4 %, down from 9.4% a year prior. Some 127,700 men were unemployed in July, and 81,200 women.

Youth unemployment rose to 20.2% in July 2015, up from 19.9% in June 2015, but down from 23.6% in July 2014. Women drove the increase, with 18.3% of females aged between 15-24 unemployed, up from 17.6% in June 2015.

The gain in July erodes the improvement noted since April 2015, when youth unemployment stood at 20.7%.

Responding to the figures the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) expressed concern.

“Youth unemployment is still high, at twice the rate it was before 2008. Moreover, the latest figures at the end of June show that almost 19,000 young people were on the live register for one year or more,” NYCI deputy director James Doorley said, as he called for the Government to restore the adult rate of €188 per week for all young people participating in education, training and work experience programmes.

Patients with epilepsy among first to be trial health unique identifiers

Standards for managing unique numbers to track people in health system published


A large GP practice, a hospice and patients with epilepsy will be among the first to trial the new individual health identifiers.

Patients with epilepsy will be among the first to trial individual health identifiers, a unique number which will eventually be given to every person in the State to track them through the health and social care system for life.

A new unit will be established within the Health Service Executive to manage the rollout of the individual health identifier (IHI) numbers and the national register containing them.

The standards for managing the identifiers were published by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) on Wednesday following a public consultation.

Hiqa said the identifiers, which are provided for under primary legislation, would improve patient safety. Health services providers will use a patient’s IHI when communicating with other health service providers about their care.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said the identifiers would become a major step forward in modernising the health service.

“It will allow us to follow patients and staff as they move through the health service in a way we currently can’t. This will improve patient safety, reduce duplication and errors, and give us a huge amount of new data that we can use to make services more efficient and improve planning.”

Hiqa’s acting director of health informationRachel Flynn said such identifiers were the cornerstone of e-health systems and were also key for implementing electronic health records and for electronic prescribing of medicines.

She said on Wednesday it would take “a number of years” to roll out the system fully following the initial trial period this year.

The standards were approved by the board of Hiqa last week and were also issued to the chief information officer of the HSE, Richard Corbridge.

Safe storage.

The health identifiers operator will be a business unit of the HSE and it will be responsible for safely storing all personal data required for use of the identifiers.

Hiqa will monitor the operator’s compliance with standards. It is also conducting a privacy impact assessment “to ensure privacy risks are addressed”.

Mr Corbridge said the HSE had built the infrastructure required to deliver identifiers nationally.

This could become “live” once the final elements of the legislation were formalised and the privacy impact assessment was published.

“The HSE will work across three clinical areas in 2015 to trial the use of the individual health identifier in clinical information systems; these will be the epilepsy electronic patient record, one multi-GP general practice and the electronic medical record within a hospice,” Mr Corbridge said.

While the identifier will not contain any clinical information, an individual’s personal details such as date and place of birth, mother’s maiden name, signature, photograph and PPS number may all be included in the health record.

Health promotions

Health insurers, coroners and the Central Statistics Officeare among the organisations that will have some access to health identifiers for the purposes of health promotion, health service management or research. They will not, however, have direct access to the national register of such health identifiers.

Organisations that will have access to the register itself include the Child and Family Agency, the Irish Blood Transfusion Service, the Mental Health Commission, the National Cancer Registry Board, the Irish Medicines Board and the State Claims Agency.

Penalties of up to €100,000 will apply if a person is convicted on indictment of using health identifiers improperly.

Hiqa said the health identifier record was considered personal data within the meaning of the Data Protection Acts, and must be treated appropriately by those providing health services.

‘Vampire spider’ may hold key to beating malaria


Researchers believe that an African spider may become a major weapon in the fight against malaria.

The spider (Evarcha culicivora), a species of jumping spider found in east Africa, preys on the female Anopheles mosquitoes that transmit malaria parasites.

The arachnids, which are also known as vampire spiders, feed on human blood to produce pheromones for mating.

But despite their rather fearsome nickname, they pose no threat to people as their fangs are too weak to pierce human skin. Instead, they get the blood by preying on mosquitoes that have recently fed on humans.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that malaria causes over half a million deaths annually, mostly among African children.

In 2013 alone, there were 198 million malaria cases in sub-Saharan Africa.

But between 2000 and 2013, death rates have in the continent fallen by 54% as a result of education initiatives, improvements in treatment and the use of nets.

Last month GlaxoSmithKline developed the world’s first malaria vaccine, which is predicted to produce at least a 30% reduction in malaria cases.

It is hoped that the use of natural mosquito predators like the vampire spider can help lower infection rates further.

Scientists discover how some of the world’s first animals reproduced


Rangeomorphs, which lived about 565 million years ago, were pretty strange. They’re often considered to be some of the first animals to evolve on Earth, but they share little in common with modern critters – they look more like plants. But according to a new study, their reproductive techniques were astonishingly complex – and familiar, too.

The research, published on Monday in Nature Communications, used statistical analysis to determine what kind of reproductive strategy was used by the genus Fractofusus, a type of rangeomorph.

Based on the population distributions found in fossils, the researchers report, these creatures used a two-pronged reproductive approach. They may even have been the first group to develop such a nuanced plan for populating the world.

“Rangeomorphs don’t look like anything else in the fossil record, which is why they’re such a mystery,” lead study author Emily Mitchell, a postdoctoral researcher in Cambridge’s Department of Earth Sciences, said in a statement. “But we’ve developed a whole new way of looking at them, which has helped us understand them a lot better – most interestingly, how they reproduced.”

Because these creatures – which had beautiful fractal branches like intricate little ferns – were immobile, well-preserved fossils can show entire ecosystems of them as they lived and died. That means that scientists can analyse the way they’re clustered to determine how their populations grew.

According to that analysis, Fractofusus would send out “grandparents” – little bits of itself ejected out into the water, kind of like seeds or spores – to colonise new areas. Once settled in a new spot, those “grandparents” would produce “parents” and “children” using stolons, or runners – cloned organisms connected to each other, much like strawberries grow today. It’s a rapid technique for asexual reproduction, especially compared to the “grandparent” technique. But those waterborne bits, while inefficient, could be used to propagate new areas, perhaps even sexually.

Combined, these two techniques make it easy to see how rangeomorphs ruled the sea. At least until the Cambrian period, when newly evolved, mobile creatures turned them into sitting ducks.

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Thursday 3rd April 2014

Too early to say if Ireland’s positive tax receipts signals a change of direction


There are positive signs but many variables mean that caution is required

When the troika was in town, the Government’s strategy was to under-promise and over-deliver. It allowed the Department of Finance hit its headline budgetary targets with something to spare, even if key metrics, such as income tax and VAT, remained in the doldrums.

In the post-bailout world, however, the focus may be shifting back to what’s happening in the real economy.

The exchequer returns for March provide the first clear insight into the health of the State’s finances since the end of last year.

This is because figures for the first two months of the year were distorted by the introduction of the euro-wide Sepa payments system.

At face value, yesterday’s numbers were positive.

Tax revenues in for the first quarter were €9.2 billion, representing an increase of €415 million or 4.7 per cent on the same period last year.

Significantly, tax as a whole was €257 million or 2.9% ahead of profile.

The big question, however, is whether this reflects the marked upsurge in employment last year, and the first inklings of a concerted rise in consumer spending and consumer confidence.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said all along that the clearest signal of what is happening in the economy is the growth in employment.

Up until now, however, this growth has not been showing up – in any meaningful way – in income tax or in domestic demand. The view taken by some is that the new jobs are not in high-paying sectors of the economy.

There is also the fact that disposable income on average remains on a downward slide, not helped by the introduction of a property tax.

Nonetheless, yesterday’s figures indicated income tax receipts were up €129 million, or 3.5 per cent, and were €4 million ahead of the Department of Finance’s expectations.

The main consumption-related taxes, VAT and excise duty, were up 6.4 per cent and 11. 5 per cent respectively.

An eye-catching drop in corporation tax receipts, which came in at €256 million – 35 per cent down on last year – was explained by a once-off tax payment by an unnamed pharmaceutical company made late last year, which had not been factored into the department’s initial projections.

All of this reads positive, perhaps too positive, with so much of the year still to run.

Reading a pattern into the convalescing Irish economy is fraught with difficulty, not least because several factors that will determine the economy’s future trajectory – and indeed the Government’s potential tax receipts – are outside of its control.

Take the situation in the Ukraine. If things worsen, consumers could be facing higher oil and gas prices, which could have an extremely negative effect on consumer spending.

Data for industrial output, exports and hence GDP are being driven by an exceptional fall-off in the profitability of the pharmaceutical sector associated with the so-called patent cliff. This will, in time, be worked through but the overall impact on the economy is difficult to gauge.

The Government’s prediction for GDP growth at the end of last year, which had factored in the patent cliff, was way off.

Then there is the pick-up in euro zone growth, a key requirement for economic recovery here. This is going is the right direction but only just.

All of this means it’s simply too early to state, with any certainty, where the domestic economy is headed.

New debt forgiveness scheme could save Irish SMEs battered by the downturn


A debt-forgiveness scheme for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) battered by the crash is among proposals to be examined by a high- level working group being set up by the Government, the Irish Independent has learned.

 Irish Banks will be asked to cancel some company debts in exchange for shares in even small firms if the debt-for- equity proposal is taken up, according to sources close to the process.

The radical plan is seen as one possible way to salvage the balance sheets of small businesses battered by the debt bubble and subsequent seven-year crash.

The idea is one of a number on the agenda for the new working group in the process of being established under the umbrella of the State-led Consultative Committee on SME Funding.

Examining ways to encourage investment such as potentially revitalising the old tax break-based Business Expansion Scheme (BES) and the possibility of utilising funds from the National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF) will also be on the table.

The lack of equity investment for SMEs is emerging as a significant blockage in the economy, particularly as things start to pick up and the demand for capital increases.

Up to now, the big emphasis has been on the supply of credit.

As the volume of lending available has increased both from the banks and from new purpose-built lending funds, the focus is shifting to the issues that are hampering companies’ capacity to borrow.

A good example is the house building trade. Banks and NAMA say they have credit available and there is evidence in Dublin in particular of demand for new homes.

But one reason more houses are not being built is because builders are unable to come up with the share of finance they need to produce to allow banks to lend prudently.

HURTING: Similar issues are hurting other parts of the economy because historic losses have diminished balance sheets even for companies that are now trading well.

It’s a real concern, not least because experience elsewhere is that more companies can end up going to the wall during an economic upturn – when cash is needed for new products – as in a downturn.

The problem is understood to be most acute at the smaller end of the economy – the more than 90% of companies with 10 or fewer employees.

The Consultative Committee on SME Funding brings together representatives of agencies including the Department of Finance, Department of Jobs and Enterprise, Enterprise Ireland and the county enterprise boards as well as industry groups such as ISME and the Small Firms’ Associations and the banks.

At a meeting on March 24, it is understood a decision was taken to set up a new sub-group to try to examine the problems in relation to equity funding.

The make-up of the sub-group has yet to be determined but the plan is to put together a group of six committee members representing a cross-section of industry, banks and government agencies.

Mobile phones now linked to erectile dysfunction?

According to new study


Researchers found a positive correlation between increased mobile phone usage and erectile dysfunction – but said the results are inconclusive

In what will prove very unwelcome news to the male population, a new study has linked mobile phones to erectile dysfunction (ED).

But before you throw your phone out of the window in a panic, larger-scale research is needed to prove the findings.

Medical teams in Austria and Egypt identified a positive correlation between carrying a switched-on mobile phone and ED, according to a report published in the Central European Journal of Urology.

The pilot study was based a group of 20 men who had complained of ED for at least six months, as well as another group of 10 healthy men with no history of ED. There was no significant difference between either group regarding age, weight, height, smoking, total testosterone or exposure to other known sources of radiation.

All men completed the German version of the Sexual Health Inventory for Men (SHIM) for evaluation of the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF), as well as another questionnaire designed to assess their mobile phone usage.

According to the researchers, the men suffering from ED carried their switched-on mobiles for an average of 4.4 hours a day, compared with just 1.8 hours for those without any problems.

But researchers conceded that more data is required to prove the findings.

Mobile phones have previously been linked to an increased risk of cancer, particularly brain tumours. In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified mobile phones for the first time in their “gold-standard” rating system. They rated the devices as “group 2B” – meaning that they could “possibly” cause cancer in humans.

However, no conclusive link was found.

Maaaa you won’t believe this.. Irish farmer shows off half-goat half-sheep ‘A gooeep’

The Kildare 'geep'  The ewe and her geep

A Kildare pub owner and sheep farmer Paddy Murphy (above) is now in fact the proud owner of a ‘gooeep’, a half-goat half-sheep hybrid.

Paddy Murphy thought it was a sign of good luck – to have a black lamb among white.

But it turns out the Kildare pub owner and sheep farmer is now in fact the proud owner of a ‘gooeep’, a half-goat, half-sheep.

“They were all normal lambs except this fella,” he told independent.ie

“He was born about midnight and I noticed it was black for a start, but it was very fast to move. It was too fast for a lamb.

“It also has much longer legs than a lamb, it was then I realised it must be a gooeep.”

Paddy, who owns Murphy’s pub in Ballymore Eustace, said the unusual looking lamb, which also has horns, has caused a bit of a stir in the local area.

“It’s a great attraction at the moment,” he said, “and there’s a great buzz about the place.

“At the moment it’s so fast it’s like a hare among the lambs. It just takes off.”

The gooeep is an extremely rare occurrence in Ireland.

“This is very unusual,” Paddy said, “One farmer had actually told me it’s not possible at all but here he is.”

New study reveals how sharks hunt their prey


From the first sniff of potential prey to their final chomp, sharks have evolved into one of nature’s greatest predators.

The threat sharks pose to humans is vastly overblown. National Geographic, for example, reports that only five people die from shark attacks annually, which means that deer, ants, jellyfish and vending machines all kill more. Still there is something about the ancient predators that strikes fear in the hearts of many. From shark week to Sharknado people seem to have a morbid fascination with the creatures.

While sharks are really not very dangerous to people, they are one of nature’s most highly evolved predators. Sharks have been around for, at least, 400 million years and over that time have evolved to do one thing, really well.

Now, a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE has taken an in-depth look at the hunting process of sharks, from beginning to end. The study, led by scientists from Mote Marine Laboratory, the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa and Boston University is the first to look at how sharks use their sense of touch, smell and vision to guide their behaviors.

According to past studies, sharks sense prey by smell first, swim upstream towards it, use water movement to locate their target and attack using vision or electroreception. Electroreception is a specially evolved sense which detects electric fields from living prey. However, this is the first study to examine how all of these senses work together and how they may vary between shark species.

“Our findings may surprise a lot of people. The general public often hears that sharks are all about the smell of prey, that they’re like big swimming noses. In the scientific community it has been suggested that some sharks, like blacktips, are strongly visual feeders. But in this study, what impressed us most was not one particular sense, but the sharks’ ability to switch between multiple senses and the flexibility of their behavior,” said Dr. Jayne Gardiner, lead author of the study, in a statement.

For their study the researchers used blacktip, bonnethead and nurse sharks, three very different types of sharks in terms of their habitat, body structure and hunting strategies. They placed the sharks in a specially designed tank and observed their normal hunting process.

The team then blocked the sharks senses one at a time using nose plugs, eye coverings and antibiotics to interfere with their sense of touch and electrically insulating materials to interfere with their electrosensory abilities. As individual senses were compromised, the group studied how the animals hunting behavior changed.

All of this was videotaped so the team could examine and re-examine the behavior of the animals. “We had hundreds of video clips to sort through, and we had to get just the right angle to see when the shark was capturing the prey,” Gardiner said.

The results showed that different sharks reacted differently to the loss of certain senses. With their noses blocked, for example, blacktops and bonnetheads could still find prey but nurse sharks could not. Blocking vision and their lateral line sense of touch simultaneously prevented sharks from striking at the right time, but when only vision was blocked, the sharks could still strike at the right time by detecting water movements. With their electroreception blocked the sharks failed to capture prey, except by luck.

“We sought to discover how sharks use their highly evolved senses to hunt and locate prey, knowing it involved more than just a good sense of smell. What we found was amazing, not only in how the various senses mesh together but also how one shark species can vary from another. Not all sharks behave alike,” said Dr. Bob Hueter, Director of Mote’s Center for Shark Research and co-author of the current study.

Researchers believe that the work with sharks may also help them to understand the behavior and habits of other ocean predators. “Sharks (…) are not unique in their sensory guidance of hunting: They exploit information fields available to all marine species. Thus, the results may be seen as a general blueprint for underwater hunting, modifiable by habitat and by the behavioral specializations of many different aquatic animals from lobsters to whales,” according to the paper.

Currently, many shark species are threatened and endangered. This is largely due to overfishing, but environmental pollution also plays a role. Pollution can interfere with the animals’ senses and their ability to hunt.

The research team hopes that by better understanding their behavior, the animals can be better protected.  “I think the sharks’ abilities to switch between different senses may make them more resilient in the wild. They may be more flexible and better adapted to deal with environmental changes – but not all human impacts. Overfishing is still overfishing,” said Gardener.