Tag Archives: TCD

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Friday 9th September 2016.

Various EU member states claim a share of Apple’s €13bn tax bill

Spain is expected to raise the issue as finance ministers gather for first time since ruling

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Several EU member states are seeking a share of the €13bn which Apple has been ordered to repay the Irish Government.

Several European Union member states are seeking a share of the €13 billion which Apple has been ordered to pay the Irish Government.

Spain, which is under pressure to reach EU-imposed budget deficit targets, is expected to raise the issue today as European finance ministers gather for the first time since the European Commission’s competition ruling againstIreland.

“Tax rulings are having a budgetary impact in Spain,” said a senior Spanish finance ministry source.

“When your revenues are falling and you have public deficit problems every euro counts,” said the source, adding that the Spanish government was currently making a calculation about how much tax it may be owed.

Concerns from Madrid were echoed by Austria’s finance minister Hans Joerg Schelling yesterday, who said his country, along with Italy and France, would also examine whether they were entitled to a portion of the €13 billion.

Elections due?

The development could complicate Ireland’s forthcoming appeal of the competition ruling.

Announcing the record state-aid ruling against Ireland last week, EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that other EU countries – and the US – could be entitled to some of the unpaid taxes that it ruled were due to Ireland.

But competition officials say the question of how countries might access unpaid taxes is a matter for national tax authorities, and not the competition commissioner.

With elections due in a number of European countries next year, finance ministries are anxious to display their willingness to pursue unpaid taxes.

But experts say that any serious move to recoup the funds would have to wait until the full Apple ruling was published and possibly until the appeal by Apple and Ireland went through the European courts.

Ireland has fourth highest rate of teen suicide in Europe

Psychologists urge focus on fighting problem ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day

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Ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th, the Movember Foundation has released a powerful video encouraging men to speak about their mental health.

Psychologists have called for great focus on measures to tackle the high rates of suicide among teenagers in Ireland.

The Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI), which has about 3,000 members, made the call ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day on Saturday.

Ireland has the fourth highest rate of suicide among teens in the EU, with only Lithuania, Estonia and Finland experiencing higher rates.

The society’s chief executive Terri Morrissey said putting a focus on preventative measures for teenagers and adolescents was important.

Ms Morrissey said depression and suicidal thoughts among teenagers were major health problems in Ireland but early intervention and the promotion of well-being and resilence could prevent such issues.

“Far too often we hear about such issues when it is already too late and we have to deal with the consequences and aftermath. Intervening at an early stage would have been effective,” she said.

“There is a range of methods and therapies that have been demonstrated to have been effective and which can be used to prevent behavioural, psychological and emotional problems.”

Ms Morrissey said these should begin at an early age, however.

“Well-being and resilience can be promoted through sport, exercise, healthy eating, parental support and other forms of physical, emotional and mental development,” she said.

Dr Gary Diamond, a clinical psychologist and international expert on teenage depression and suicide, will give a public talk on the subject on behalf of the society later this month. He is a professor and chair of the Department of Psychology at Ben-Gurion University in Israel.

“The goal of this parenting approach according to the author reduce family conflict, open lines of communication within families, help the adolescent make better sense of his or her own world and to better position parents to understand, support and advocate for their child,” Dr Diamond said.

Services availability?

Separately, the founder of the Suicide or Survive charity Caroline McGuigan said everyone had the responsibility to create the change that will ensure that there is a broad range of services and supports for people struggling with mental health and suicide.

“We’ve come a long way as a country when it comes to mental health but there is so much more we can do. We all have mental health just like we have dental and physical health and this needs to be recognised and mental health needs to be prioritised if we are to reduce the number of people who die by suicide in Ireland every year,” she said.

Brian Higgins of Pieta House, the centre for the prevention of suicide and self-harm, will return to Dublin on Friday night following a rickshaw tour of Ireland to raise awareness of the issue.

The tour took him to Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Tralee, Listowel, Limerick, Ennis, Galway, Tuam and Athlone. As it marks its 10th year, Pieta House has just opened its 10th centre (in Waterford).

“Our vision is of a world where suicide, self-harm and stigma have been replaced by hope, self-care and acceptance,” he said.

Dr Diamond’s talk will take place on Thursday September 22nd at Chartered Accountants Ireland, Pearse Street, Dublin at 6.30pm.

New lease of life for Roger Gannon after losing ten stone in less than a year

     

Roger Gannon who was 25 stone and 3.5 pounds when he joined ‘Sarah’s Slimming World’ classes. His health was suffering as a result of his weight, and his confidence too was dented.

Fast forward 42 weeks, and Roger has shed an impressive 10 stone after 42 weeks at Slimming World.

Blogger Donie had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Roger in Sligo recently and when I said I was checking my blood sugar before entering a retail unit to purchase a large household item and hoping it would fit into my car? he replied oh I have diabetes as well?

Roger went on to explain the journey he had being on as below in red text, of losing over 10 stone in less than 18 months as a result of of joining ‘Sarah’s Slimming World’ classes in the Gillooly Hall, Temple street, Sligo.

I could see the pride and sense of achievement on his face as he talked about his life’s ambition of being a normal human being not looking at the obstacles that were ahead of him while he was that crucifying weight of 25 stone and 4 pounds.

I congratulated Roger on his outstanding  achievement and wished him the best of luck with his diabetes management and continued success with ‘Sarah’s Slimming World diet’. before purchasing my hard to fit item into my Ford Focus car.

The 50-year-old, who has lived in Tubbercurry his whole life, knew he needed to make changes to his lifestyle for the sake of his health, at the very least.

“Before joining Slimming World I was a size XXXXXL now I am a large and I am loving it,” said Roger.

“I’ve gone from someone who hated shopping and who had to travel to Dublin a lot for my clothes to being able to just pop into my local men’s wear store and pick right off the hanger in Gilespie’s.”

“I ‘had’ been overweight all my life to date. I can’t ever remember a time when I was slim. Looking back on old pictures it frightens me a little of how large I’d become.”

Roger’s weight had a huge effect on him as a person and his day to day life. Small things had to be taken into consideration, such as how long he would be walking for.

He explains: “I had to always think about where I was going and whether I’d be able to sit down as I knew I couldn’t be on my feet for long as the pressure on my knees was unbearable at times.

“I had seriously high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. The doctor was constantly onto me about trying to lose weight. My hips were bad and my back was constantly giving me trouble, I was travelling the country for treatments and physiology.

“Now since I have lost the weight my blood pressure is completely normal, the doctor was thrilled. My diabetes is well in control and reducing dramatically.

“My knees don’t hurt anymore and I feel a thousand times healthier. I can live again. Slimming world has saved my life.”

Roger tried everything to shed weight. As soon as he joined ‘Sarah’s Slimming World’, he knew it was the right place for him.

“There were a number of reasons I joined Slimming World. I guess one that stands out the most would be I wanted to go somewhere where nobody knew me. I had heard great reports about Sarah’s group and that it was fantastic.

“On my first day I was shaking with nerves – I was outside for hours before I got the courage to walk in.

“I had tried so many things in the past, but from the second I walked in the door I new I’d come to the right place.

“The welcome I got was so warm and friendly, everyone was there for the same reason as me and I found that so reassuring.

“The first cup of coffee they made me at group really settled me and I was then relaxed. I went from wanting nobody to know me to being a big part of the group there. I have made so many new friends for life. I love Wednesdays, it’s the best day of the week for me now. For the first time in my life I can climb the stairs without getting breathless. My knees don’t hurt anymore I am always smiling.”

Roger’s weight loss has not only given him a new lease of life, but he has also inspired others to follow him in his journey, by starting their own.

“I can’t wait to head out of the house in the morning to meet people.

“I can’t go into my local shop without people stopping me and talking to me to congratulate me on how well I have done. It makes me so happy to know that I am inspiring people across the county to join slimming world. I am an inspiration, I not only changed my life but I’m helping others change theirs, it makes me so proud.”

He is now a brand new man. He’s loving life once again, and it’s all thanks to his new found health.

“The best thing that has happened to me as a result of my weight loss is that I am a whole new person.

“I am happy, friendly, and no longer sad on the inside and always smiling. People enjoy being around me again; they enjoy my company and treat with me respect for once in my life.

“I think the most important, best and most rewarding thing that has happened to me since this whole journey started is that

“Slimming World has taught me to love life again and that alone is the greatest gift anyone could ever have given me.”

‘Sarah’s Slimming World’ classes take place every Wednesday at Gillooly Hall, Temple street, Sligo at 9.30am, 11.30am and 1.30pm.

3D bone-scanning technique devised by Irish scientists

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Dr Esther Surender, Postdoctoral Researcher at Trinity College Dublin

Irish scientists have devised a revolutionary new scanning technique that produces extremely high-res 3D images of bones, sparing patients exposure to X-ray radiation.

The chemists in Trinity College and the Royal College of Surgeons (RCSI) said the technique could have major benefits for healthcare, allowing a patient’s bone strength to be assessed in detail. The elderly and athletes will be among those to benefit.

It works by forming agents that are attracted to calcium-rich surfaces, which appear when bones crack, even at a micro level.

X-rays give off radiation and have, in some cases, been associated with an increased risk of cancer. The red, gold-based agents used in this alternative technique are biologically safe.

The researchers point out that gold has been used safely by medics in a variety of ways in the body for some time.

A spokesman for Trinity College said these nanoagents target and highlight the cracks formed in bones, allowing researchers to produce a complete 3D image of the damage.

The spokesman pointed out that it could give a detailed blueprint of the extent and precise positioning of any weakness or injury in the bone.

“Additionally, this knowledge should help prevent the need for bone implants in many cases, and act as an early warning system for people at a high risk of degenerative bone diseases.”

The research is led by Trinity Professor of Chemistry Thorri Gunnlaugsson and Postdoctoral Researcher Esther Surender.

Visualise

Prof Gunnlaugsson pointed out: “This work is the outcome of many years of successful collaboration between chemists from Trinity and medical and engineering experts from RCSI.

“We have demonstrated that we can achieve a three-dimensional map of bone damage, showing the so-called microcracks, using non-invasive luminescence imaging.

“The nanoagent we have developed allows us to visualise the nature and the extent of the damage in a manner that wasn’t previously possible.”

Diagnosing weak bones before they break should cut down on the need for operations and implants.

Dr Surender predicted it had great potential in a clinical setting.

The findings have been published in the leading journal ‘Chem’.

Glencar Sligo Ireland’s highest waterfall

The best time to visit is after or even during a good downpour on a wild Atlantic day

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It’s a ‘spate’ river, so it’s best to visit after (or even during) a downpour on a wild Atlantic day of south-westerly gales; the waterfall then can appear to ‘smoke’

Poetry and good descriptive prose can wonderfully enrich one’s perception of the natural beauty of a place – making it much more than just a visual experience. Indeed, a good poet or writer can bring the magic of a real or imagined place to his/her reader, without her/him ever having to put on the boots and get all muddy and cold.

And nowhere on our beautiful island is that more true than in Sligo andLeitrim. Here Yeats has impregnated a visually beautiful landscape with a spirit of magic, wonder and mystery.

Glencar is a case in point. It’s waterfall, “where the wandering water gushes from the hills above Glencar”, attracts visitors by the thousand; however, that beautiful verse of the poem The Stolen Child takes the reader/visitor high into the hills above the waterfall to meet mischievous fairies, tiny pools and stars, weeping ferns, trout and “unquiet” dreams; and, having carried the reader/visitor into this imaginative and magic space, Yeats (via the Fairies) seduces us (the “human child”) to come and stay.

And few of us can deny sometimes feeling that pull to escape into his “waters and the wild” – though perhaps not with a dodgy kidnapping fairy!

Glencar waterfall in Co Leitrim is more than worth a visit; but one’s imagination can be crowded out by coffee shops and neat lawns and paths and facilities. About a kilometre west, however, is another less well-known waterfall, called “the Devil’s Chimney” – despite the name more suited to quiet contemplation, though without the help of a caffeine injection.

Officially, it’s Ireland’s highest waterfall – in Irish, “Sruth in Agaidh an Aird” (the stream against the height). It is accessed via a new woodland path that climbs 120m up the talus slope above Glencar Lake. The walk is short but very rewarding. Its “feel” is of quiet deep woods and wide vistas, wild flowers, birdsong and glimpses of beautiful Glencar Lake.

It’s over private land, access being kindly granted by the landowner and has been put in place jointly by the counties of Sligo, Cavan, Leitrim and Fermanagh under the EU-funded Border Project. The roadside CP has an information panel which sets out clearly the geology, flora and fauna of the place while another warns you that this “is NOT Glencar Waterfall”.

I’ve been there in late spring and have loved it, despite the waterfall being in a quiet mood. It’s a “spate” river, so it’s best to visit after (or even during) a downpour on a wild Atlantic day of south-westerly gales; the waterfall then can appear to “smoke” – be blown back into the sky and recycled over and over again – and you’ll understand why perhaps it got its name!

There are seats to sit on and woods and space to shelter you, and give permission to the child in you, or with you, to be “stolen” for a while in this lovely place.

Wild areas of World shrinks by 10% in just 20 years

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A 10th of the world’s unspoiled wilderness areas have been lost since the 1990s, say experts calling for urgent action to preserve biodiversity on Earth.

A 10th of the world’s unspoiled wilderness areas have been lost since the 1990s, say experts calling for urgent action to preserve biodiversity on Earth.

New findings from a global ecosystem study show “staggering” declines affecting the last bastions of undisturbed nature, it is claimed.

In the last 20 years, wilderness regions amounting to an area twice the size of Alaska have vanished, the research reveals. The Amazon basin and central Africa have been hardest hit. ‘Wilderness’ is defined as a biologically and ecologically intact landscape free of any significant human disturbance.

Lead researcher Dr James Watson, from the University of Queensland in Australia, said: “Globally important wilderness areas, despite being strongholds for endangered biodiversity, for buffering and regulating local climates, and for supporting many of the world’s most politically and economically marginalised communities, are completely ignored in environmental policy.

International policies?

“International policy mechanisms must recognise the actions needed to maintain wilderness areas before it is too late. We probably have one to two decades to turn this around.”

The scientists mapped wilderness areas around the world and compared the results with a previous similar map produced in the 1990s. Their findings are reported in the journal Current Biology.

The updated map shows that a total of 30.1 million sq. km of the Earth – more than a fifth of the world’s land area – now remains as wilderness. Although that might sound like a large amount of land, the proportion of surviving wilderness in the world has fallen alarmingly in the last two decades, say the authors.

An estimated 3.3 million sq. km – almost 10% – of wilderness has disappeared since the 1990s, the research showed.

The most affected continents were South America, which had lost 30%c of its wilderness, and Africa, where 14% had gone.

The majority of wilderness areas today were located in North America, North Asia, North Africa, and Australia.

Dr Watson added: “The amount of wilderness loss in just two decades is staggering and very saddening.

“We need to recognise that wilderness is being dramatically lost and that without proactive global interventions we could lose the last jewels in nature’s crown. You cannot restore wilderness,” he said.

“If we don’t act soon, it will be all gone, and this is a disaster for conservation, for climate change, and for some of the most vulnerable human communities on the planet. We have a duty to act for our children and their children.”

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News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Thursday 11th August 2016

Gerry Adams says it is time for a united Ireland

Gerry Adams says all parties should come together to talk about Irish unity.

   

The issue of Irish unity has been absent from official Ireland’s centenary celebrations to mark 1916.

Parades and TV specials were seen, books were written, and reams of newspaper articles published. Songs of the period have been sung and debates held. But the fracture of the island by partition, the abandonment of the 1916 Proclamation as a declaration of freedom and justice for all of Ireland, has been ignored.

The Republic envisaged by the leaders of 1916 and by the Proclamation was to be a rejection of all that was bad, divisive and elitist in British imperialism and colonisation. It was to be an Ireland of equal citizens. A republic for all.

Today those of us who desire that outcome are told by some that we are being divisive. We are told that there will be a united Ireland at some undefined time in the future. But it will not happen through wishful thinking or sitting in a bar singing songs – not that there is anything wrong with singing songs of freedom – or simply talking about it.

It needs a political strategy with clear objectives and actions.

Failure to honour commitments

Those who advocate the wishful thinking approach to Irish unity point to the enhanced relationships between London and Dublin. They praise the ‘special’ relationship between the Irish and British governments as evidence of change. And while it is true that much progress has been made, the reality is that the British government has failed to honour key commitments within the Good Friday and other agreements.

It has unilaterally set aside elements of the various agreements, with barely a whimper of protest, especially from the Irish establishment. It has failed to deliver on a range of important issues, including:

  • A Civic Forum in the north
  • An All-Ireland Civic Forum
  • A Bill of Rights for the North
  • A joint north/south committee of the two Human Rights Commissions
  • An All-Ireland Charter of Rights
  • Honouring its obligations in compliance with the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
  • The introduction of Acht na Gaeilge

The British have also obstructed efforts to resolve the legacy of the past by refusing to honour its commitments under the Haass agreement, failing to provide information on the Dublin/Monaghan and Dundalk bombs, and reneging on its Weston Park commitment to hold an inquiry into the murder of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane.

Brexit

The real value of the special relationship between the Irish and British governments was demonstrated in the recent Brexit campaign. It is clear the economic interests of the island of Ireland are collateral damage in a fight between factions of the right wing of British politics.

The implications of Brexit are becoming increasingly apparent. It is a real threat to the economy, imposing barriers to trade and a possible EU frontier across Ireland, creating a fundamental crisis in North-South co-operation.

At no time in the Brexit debate was the impact on Ireland, North or South, considered. Our national concerns were dismissed.

The people of the North voted against Brexit. Just as they did in the Good Friday Agreement referendum, all sections of the community, republican and unionist, voted in the best interest of all. They voted to remain in the EU. Yet the British Government say they will impose Brexit on the North against the expressed will of the majority.

The economies north and south are interlinked and interdependent. It has been estimated that 200,000 jobs depend on all-Ireland trade. A recent report on economic modelling of Irish unity demonstrated a dividend and growth in a united Ireland.

The aftermath of the Brexit vote is a clear demonstration of the injustice of partition. It is fundamentally undemocratic and economically wrong. Partition makes no sense. Yet it continues.

Unity

A mechanism exists to end partition and bring about Irish unity, through a border poll.

The vast majority of people across Ireland voted for the Good Friday Agreement. It is worth remembering that 94% of people in the south and 74% of people in the North voted for the agreement.

It included a peaceful and democratic pathway to Irish unity that provided for concurrent referendums north and south. It obliged the two governments to legislate on the basis of referendums for Irish unity.

National unity is in the national interest. Wishful thinking will not bring about unity. We have a mechanism to achieve unity. We need all of those in favour of unity to act together to bring it about.

This is the time to plan and to build the maximum support for unity. The leadership of those parties which support Irish unity, acting together, could be the leadership which delivers it.

Eighteen years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, we should not need to convince the leaders of Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael to become persuaders for Irish unity.

The Irish government should have a plan for unity. A first step in the next term of the Oireachtas would be the development of an all-party group to bring forward a green paper for unity.

In addition, we need to develop plans for an all island health service; for public services in a united Ireland, through a united Ireland investment and prosperity plan.

Now is the time

The New Ireland Forum in its time created a space for discussion on constitutional options of change and developed a comprehensive economic options paper on the cost of partition.

It failed because it excluded Sinn Féín and operated at a time of a British veto on change – given voice by Margaret Thatcher with her “out, out, out” rejection. Thatcher is gone and so is the British veto.

Constitutional change is in the hands of the people of Ireland, North and South. The politics of exclusion failed, and Sinn Féin is jointly leading the government in the North.

We have the opportunity to end partition and build support for a new and united Ireland. A new Ireland that is built on equality and which is citizen centred and inclusive. The shape of that new Ireland remains to be drawn.

Now is the time for all parties who support Irish unity to come together to design the pathway to a new and united Ireland.

Big concern over €300,000 reduction in Mental Health services

     

The news that the HSE are looking to cut funding and find savings in Mental Health Services in Sligo Leitrim has caused anger and upset locally.

According to minutes from the May meeting of the HSE’s Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Area, privatisation of a residential service in Mohill is being considered.

The meeting revealed that savings of €30million had to be generated across all services in the Community Health Organisation which covers Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan and Sligo. As a result of this, €300,000 will need to be saved from Sligo Leitrim Mental Health services before the end of 2016.

As well as cost reductions there were proposals to cut down spending. One of the proposals is looking at the future of Ard na Drise in Mohill as well as exploring possibilities for the Garden Centre and Dochas Clubhouse in Sligo.

Fenagh Councillor and HSE Regional Health Forum member Caillian Ellis said, details of these savings had not been mentioned at the June HSE Regional Forum meeting.

He commented “it is a total disgrace that there would be cuts from the most vulnerable people in society.” He said €300,000 is a “huge cutback” to find before the end of the year.

Cllr Ellis stated mental health services need “more funding, especially in rural Leitrim with many people living alone with financial pressures.”

Sinn Féin TD for Sligo-Leitrim Martin Kenny, speaking said that he was horrified to read in the minutes of a HSE meeting, that far from prioritising mental health, the Executive has plans to slash services in order to balance the books. Minutes of the meeting, which took place in May, of the Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Service Area Mental Health Management Team.

Deputy Kenny said, “When I call on behalf of the people I represent for restoration or even maintenance of services, I am told one thing and then I see this report of an internal meeting and find that the HSE’s plan B, is to slash services to the most vulnerable, those with mental health problems. This meeting discusses ways to knock €300,000 off the mental health budget in Sligo Leitrim between now and the end of the year.

“It is a shocking reflection on the HSE that its priorities are based on budgets and not on patients. The list of proposed cuts in horrifying and at a time when every community in Ireland is becoming more aware of the vulnerability of people to taking their lives by suicide, it is nothing short of outrageous.

““I have written to the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, for reassurance that this scenario will not be allowed to unfold here in this constituency or anywhere else.”

The Psychiatric Nurses Association in Sligo and Leitrim have since threatened to ballot its members over the prospect of cutbacks. The local spokesperson said the service is already under resourced.

A spokesperson for the HSE told the paper, “All services in Community Health Organisation Area 1 (Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan & Sligo) have been asked to consider potential cost savings and that is what the Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Management Team Minutes reflect.”

The spokesperson stressed, “None of the proposals have been actioned and Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Services is well within budget, year to date in 2016.”

The HSE explained, “Ard na Drise was an Independent Living House, it was a private rental to clients of Sligo Leitrim Mental Health Services, who provided them with support while they waited for Leitrim County Council houses. This was not a HSE facility and is no longer in use. It was a private rental.

“The clients who lived there have now successfully moved to their own council homes.”

The HSE stated, “There has been no change to the clinical care and treatment that the clients are receiving from the HSE. These clients are still being cared for and supported on a daily basis by their clinical team.”

The minutes for the meeting earlier this Summer reported there “was discussion about reducing service capacity to meet potentially more stringent cutbacks in 2017.”

615 points leaving cert Trinity College asylum student wins right to remain in Ireland

     

Tatiana Prochukhan with her daughter Nadezda Nadia and St Mary’s School Principle John Michael Porter, said she loves Ireland

An asylum seeker who received anonymous donations amounting to €20,000 to pay for her first year at Trinity College Dublin has been granted a right to remain in Ireland.

Nadezda (Nadia) Prochukhan, 20, shot to national acclaim in 2014 when she achieved 615 points in her Leaving Certificate.

Anonymous donors enabled her to fulfil her dream of studying chemistry at Trinity College Dublin.

Her case was one of two which helped lead to a change in Irish law last year when ex-education minister Jan O’Sullivan announced that third-level student grants would be available to asylum seekers.

Nadia thanked everyone for their support: “People I never met donated money for me to attend my first year of college and that is why I’ve been able to get where I am today. I am so grateful to everyone.”

Nadia, her mother Tatiana, and her younger sister Maria were sent a letter recently informing them their application for asylum, submitted in September 2011, was finally approved.

Tatiana said the family spent the past five years living with no income due to their asylum-seeker status.

The mother had led a campaign for her daughter to be treated like her Irish peers.

Tatiana said being approved to stay in Ireland was one of the greatest moments in her life. She had feared the family would have to survive indefinitely through donations and support from locals in New Ross and her 78-year-old mother in Russia.

“The letter said we have permission to stay in Ireland for three years so we are entitled to everything an Irish citizen is entitled to, apart from being able to vote.

“We can become Irish citizens in five years which would be amazing. We love New Ross and Ireland and I can’t imagine living in anywhere else. The people are so good here.”

She said her family endured five years of suffering from a constant threat of deportation.

“I have been fighting for my children’s lives. Often there was no bread on the table. All our money was stolen before we arrived here. We had to wait for the decision because the Government changed the law twice. We were another cog in the wheel.

“When we got the letter and saw the words we were overjoyed. We were hugging each other.”

She added: “We have been through hell. We had no work permits and no means to make money.

“Someone stole a lot of money from us but we are strong and we remained positive and the people of New Ross and Ireland were amazing to us.’”

Her daughter Nadia is one of the top performers in her class at Trinity College Dublin, where she completed 10 exams in May in her second year of a four-year course.

The Prochukhans are hopeful Nadia will be awarded a grant for her third and fourth years, as the fees come to €8,000 per year at Trinity.

“We have completed all the forms and we are waiting word from the social welfare office.

“My mother Nina has been paying our rent. She is 78 and works three jobs.”

She said the most difficult thing to witness over recent years was her daughters never felt equal to their Irish peers.

Tatiana moved to Ireland with her daughters Nadia and Maria in 2006, living here until 2009 when they had to return to Russia as her father was very ill.

“They returned in 2011 and several business people and townspeople have been helping them since as they have no income.

“They do now. As a mother all you want to see is your children happy.

“Nadia is an example to everyone. Even though she didn’t have the native language and even through she went through a lot of hardship with no money in her family, she was able to achieve her dream.

“She showed what you get when you fight for your rights. We are really proud of her.”

Younger daughter Maria, meanwhile, completed her Leaving Certificate in June and is hoping to study art at the National University of Galway, where she has been offered free tuition and assistance once she achieves more than 450 points.

Tatiana thanked the people of New Ross for their support.

“Without the kindness of the people of New Ross and the New Ross Standard we would never have won these rights.

“People were so good. One lady put €600 through our door. Nobody forced her to do this, it was her good heart. We also got so many kind words on the street and still do and that keeps you going.

Refilling your drinking water bottle is just as gross as licking your dog’s toy

      

Drinking out of a plastic water bottle that has continuously been refilled can be “many times worse than licking your dog’s toy” when it comes to bacteria exposure, new research has found.

A new study involved the analysis of 12 plastic water bottles, which were each used by an athlete for one week without being washed. The bottles varied in type, from screw-tops, slide-tops, squeeze-tops and straw tops.

Drinking out of a plastic water bottle that has continuously been refilled can be “many times worse than licking your dog’s toy” when it comes to bacteria exposure

The result of the lab tests commissioned by Treadmill Reviews, a US website, found that the top of the water-bottles were crawling in potentially harmful bacteria by the week’s end. More than 300,000 colony-forming units were found on each square centimetre of the bottles on average. The average pet toy has 2,937 CFU.

Gram-positive cocci was found on many of the bottles, which can lead to skin infections, pneumonia and blood poisoning.

The study revealed that drinking from reusable bottles without washing them exposes you to more bacteria than if you ate dinner from your dog’s bowl.

Researchers said: “Drinking from these bottles can still be worse than eating a meal from your pet’s dish.

“Based on the 12 water bottles we tested, we found that reusable drinking containers may be crawling with an alarming number of viable bacteria cells: more than 300,000 colony-forming units per square centimeter (CFU/sq cm).”

The study found that bottles which you have to slide open with your fingers are the worst offenders, followed by squeeze tops.

The researchers suggested investing in a water bottle that can be placed in the dish washer every evening, and to keep an eye out for stainless steel options.

“We know that when it comes to water bottles and bacteria, stainless steel is a better choice than plastic. Additionally, water bottles without crevices and tough-to-clean spots are less likely to host germs.”

A 400 year old Greenland shark is the oldest vertebrate animal

  

Shark, which would have reached sexual maturity at around 150 years, sets new record for longevity as biologists finally develop method to determine age

The oldest Greenland shark found by researchers was most likely around 392 years old, although the range of possible ages stretches from 272 to 512 years.

She was born during the reign of James I, was a youngster when René Descartes set out his rules of thought and the great fire of London raged, saw out her adolescent years as George II ascended the throne, reached adulthood around the time that the American revolution kicked off, and lived through two world wars. Living to an estimated age of nearly 400 years, a female Greenland shark has set a new record for longevity, scientists have revealed.

The discovery places the lifespan of the Greenland shark far ahead of even the oldest elephant in captivity, Lin Wang, who died aged 86. It is also far longer than the official record for humans, held by 122-year-old Frenchwoman Jeanne Louise Calment.

“It kicks off the bowhead whale as the oldest vertebrate animal,” said Julius Nielsen, lead author of the research from the University of Copenhagen, pointing out that bowhead whales have been known to live for 211 years.

But the Greenland shark doesn’t scoop all the gongs – the title of the world’s longest-lived animal is held by Ming, an Icelandic clam known as an ocean quahog, that made it to 507 years before scientists bumped it off.

Grey, plump and growing to lengths of around five metres, the Greenland shark is one of the world’s largest carnivores. With a reported growth rate of less than one centimetre a year, they were already thought to be long-lived creatures, but just how long they lived for was something of a mystery.

“Fish biologists have tried to determine the age and longevity of Greenland sharks for decades, but without success.” said Steven Campana, a shark expert from the University of Iceland. “Given that this shark is the apex predator (king of the food chain) in Arctic waters, it is almost unbelievable that we didn’t know whether the shark lives for 20 years, or for 1000 years.”

The new research, he says, is the first hard evidence of just how long these creatures can live.

“It definitely tells us that this creature is extraordinary and it should be considered among the absolute oldest animals in the world,” said Nielsen.

Writing in the journal Science, Nielsen and an international team of researchers describe how they set about determining the age of 28 female Greenland sharks, collected as by-catch during scientific surveys between 2010 and 2013.

While the ages of many fish can be determined by counting the growth layers of calcium carbonate “stones” found in their ears – in a manner somewhat similar to counting tree rings – sharks do not have such earstones. What’s more, the Greenland shark lacks other calcium-rich tissues suitable for this type of analysis.

Instead the team had to rely on a different approach: scrutiny of the lenses in their eyes.

The lens of the eye is made of proteins that build up over time, with the proteins at the very centre of the lens laid down while the shark is developing in its mother’s womb. Work out the date of these proteins, the scientists say, and it is possible to achieve an estimate of the shark’s age.

In order to determine when the proteins were laid down, the scientists turned to radiocarbon dating – a method that relies on determining within a material the levels of a type of carbon, known as carbon-14, that undergoes radioactive decay over time.

By applying this technique to the proteins at the centre of each lens, the scientists deduced a broad range of ages for each shark.

The scientists then made use of a side-effect of atomic bomb tests which took place in the 1950s: when the bombs were detonated, they increased the levels of carbon-14 in the atmosphere. The spike, or pulse, in carbon-14 entered the marine food web across the North Atlantic no later than the early 1960s.

That provides a useful time-stamp, says Nielsen. “I want to know when I see the bomb-pulse in my sharks, what time does that mean,” he said. “Does it mean they are 50 years old, or 10 years old?”

Nielsen and the team found that the eye lens proteins of the two smallest of their 28 Greenland sharks had the highest levels of carbon-14, suggesting that they were born after the early 1960s. The third smallest shark, however, had carbon-14 levels only slightly above those of the 25 larger sharks, hinting that it was actually born in the early 1960s, just as bomb-related carbon-14 began to be incorporated in marine food webs.

A Greenland shark returning to the deep and cold waters of the Uummannaq Fjord in northwestern Greenland. The sharks were part of a tag-and- release program in Norway and Greenland. Photograph: Julius Nielsen/Science

“That indicates that most of our analysed sharks were actually older than the time mark, meaning that they were older than 50 years,” said Nielsen.

The scientists then combined the carbon dating results with estimations of how Greenland sharks grow, to create a model that allowed them to probe the age of the 25 sharks born before the 1960s.

Their findings revealed that the largest shark of the group, a female measuring just over five metres in length, was most likely around 392 years old, although, as Nielsen points out, the range of possible ages stretches from 272 to 512 years.

“The Greenland shark is now the best candidate for the longest living vertebrate animal,” he said.

What’s more, with adult female Greenland sharks known hit sexual maturity only once they reach more than four metres in length, the scientists found that females have to clock up an age of around 150 years before they can produce young.

But not everyone is convinced that Greenland sharks can live for four centuries. “I am convinced by the idea of there being long lifespans for these kinds of sharks, [but] I take the absolute numbers with a pinch of salt,” said Clive Trueman, associate professor in marine ecology at the University of Southampton.

Trueman agrees that it is possible to get a record of the early life of a vertebrate from eye lens proteins. However, the fact that the proteins in the centre of the eye lenses, and hence the carbon-14 within them, came from nutrients taken in by the shark’s mother adds a number of uncertainties to the calculations, he says.

Campana says while the approach taken by the researchers is sound, he remains unconvinced that Greenland sharks live for almost 400 years. But, he adds, “future research should be able to nail the age down with greater certainty.”

Nielsen is also looking forward to further research, saying that he hopes the Greenland shark’s new found fame will boost awareness of the animal, as well as conservation efforts and attempts to unravel other aspects of its physiology. “There are other aspects of their biology which are super-interesting to know more about and to shed light upon,” he said.

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Thursday 19th November

Ireland prepared to send troops to help France, says Enda Kenny

Government willing to send soldiers to replace French forces in Mali or Lebanon

   

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he had been briefed this morning by the national security committee.

The Government is prepared to send additional Irish troops to Mali or Lebanon in order to relieve French soldiers who will be sent to fight Islamic State, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has indicated.

Mr Kenny said the French ambassador to Ireland has told him France is already stretched in its military commitments as it prepares to intensify its efforts against Islamic State in Syria.

Speaking on Thursday at an Action Plan for Jobs press conference, Mr Kenny said no formal request had come from France to the Irish Government requesting aid.

However, Mr Kenny indicated the Government is prepared to send a small number of Defence Forces personnel to Mali or Lebanon to relieve their French counterparts.

“We have said that, within our conditions and our circumstances, we will assist in whatever way we can here, though probably the numbers will be small,” Mr Kenny said.

French president Francois Hollande has said his country is at war with IS and the French government this week invoked a mutual defence clause within the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty.

“When I signed the book of condolences at the French embassy the other day, the French ambassador did mention this to me that France is now very stretched,” the Taoiseach said.

“At the meeting of (EU) ministers for defence during the week, the French defence minister invoked the relevant article from the European treaties looking for help.

“It’s a matter for every country as to their own national security and defence position, how they might assist in that regard.

We have been working with the French in Mali, 10 members of the Defence Forces out there doing particular duties. “Now, a formal request has not come in from France yet. It may come through the Minister for Defence, it may be dealing with extra personnel that the French may withdraw from south Lebanon or Mali or whatever.

“The point the French make is that the French president has declared that France is at war in respect of these incidents in Syria. The French defence forces are stretched in quite a number of countries and they may make a request for assistance in that regard.

Obviously, there is a process by which Ireland being a neutral country would offer assistance in particular forms and we would consider that when it comes.”

Mr Kenny also said the national security committee – which includes Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan and the Defence Forces Chief of Staff, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett – briefed him, Tánaiste Joan Burton and Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald this morning.

“The Tánaiste and I and the Minister for Justice and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for Defence had a briefing this morning from the national security committee, including the Garda Commissioner and the chief of staff of the Defence Forces,” Mr Kenny said.

“The situation insofar as Ireland has concerned has not changed since the Paris attacks. An incident is possible but not likely.”

Atlantic Philanthropies gives €138m grant to tackle dementia

Trinity College Dublin and University of California to share largest allocation to date

    

Atlantic Philanthropies founder Chuck Feeney (right) with president and chief executive Christopher Oechsli.

Atlantic Philanthropies is to give €138 million – its largest grant to date – to Trinity College Dublin and University of California San Francisco to help tackle the looming dementia epidemic. Almost 50,000 people are living with dementia in Ireland, a number which is projected to double every 20 years if there is no effective intervention.

The new initiative will involve training hundreds of health professionals to carry out dementia research, deliver healthcare and change policies and practices around treatment of the disease. Details are due to be formally announced later today at an event attended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Professor of psychology at Trinity College Dublin Ian Robertson said dementia amounted to a “public health emergency” comparable to the Aids epidemic of the 1980s.

“That led to a big social movement which required all sorts of social advocacy, political will and biomedical research which resulted in Aids becoming a largely treatable condition. “Now we face an even greater problem with dementia,” he added. “There are 48 million people with the disease. That’s set to double every 20 years – and we don’t have any treatment for it.”

The Trinity team will be headed by Prof Robertson and by ProfBrian Lawlor, who specialises in old-age psychiatry.

Latest research indicates that up to 30 per cent of new dementia cases may be preventable through changes in diet, exercise, mental stimulation and tackling risk factors such as diabetes and heart disease. Prof Robertson said a new “global brain health institute” would accelerate the application of science in this area, as well as drawing in additional funding for new research.

In all, some 600 health professionals, or “fellows”, will be trained over the next 15 years to help change policies and practices in the field. It is hoped they will then return to their home countries to become leaders in developing dementia-related healthcare programmes.

Neuroscience

A separate “scholars programme” will focus on training journalists, managers and filmmakers to teach others about the preventable causes of cognitive impairment. Training for both programmes will be multi-disciplinary, including geriatrics, cognitive neuroscience, public policy, health economics, health law and communications.

Christopher Oechsli, Atlantic Philanthropies president and chief executive, said: “Our goal is to create a generation of leaders around the world who have the knowledge, skills and drive to change both the practice of dementia care and the public health and societal forces that affect brain health.”

Atlantic Philanthropies is due to wind down its operations by the end of the decade following three decades of grant-making around the world. The organisation, founded by billionaire Chuck Feeney, has granted more than $6 billion worldwide, with about €1.25 billion going to projects in the Republic and Northern Ireland.

Dr Patrick Prendergast, president and provost of Trinity said the latest announcement would bring benefits to people around the world, create jobs in Ireland and deepen expertise in neuroscience and ageing.

“The sum donated is huge but so, too, is the problem we are trying to solve. There is hardly a family anywhere that has not experienced dementia in some shape or form,” he said.

Prof Bruce Miller of University of California San Franciso said the scale of funding and training in the dementia initiative could help change the course of this disease and protect vulnerable people around the world.

“We want to train leaders, not just in medicine and public policy, but also social science, journalism, law, business and the arts, who can teach others about the preventable causes of cognitive impairment, which disproportionately affect the poor,” he said.

Up to 15% of Irish homes have no access to broadband services – report

   

Respondents say, compared to two years ago, they are paying around €7 less per month for mobile phone bills

Up to 15% of Irish homes do not have access to broadband services and fewer younger people are watching live scheduled TV programming, according to a new survey focusing on our relationship with technology.

The study, commissioned by ComReg and carried out by RedC, also suggests that consumers are paying less for TV, broadband and mobile services when compared with 2013.

Over three quarters (76%) of homes across the country have access to fixed broadband.

This figure rises to 89% for Dublin homes, while just 66% of homes in rural Ireland have broadband access.

The research indicates that although 96% of homes have access to TV services, 9% of households use Netflix and spend an average of seven hours per week viewing the video streaming service.

Moreover, 14% of online paid-for TV service users said they have stopped watching live TV.

The data also suggests that traditional TV viewing has declined among younger audiences, with 6% of 18-24 year olds having no TV subscription (compared with 2% across age groups).

Sky is most popular provider of TV services in the country, with a 49% market share. UPC is next with 23%, while Saorview has risen to third spot at 19%.

With regard to mobile phone usage, the ComReg research shows the ownership rate for a mobile phone among Irish people stands at 97%.

Women and those aged between 18 and 24 are the most likely to use social media and instant messaging on mobile phones, while 12% of respondents who use these services said they have stopped sending traditional text messages as a result.

Vodafone has the largest market share among mobile service providers at 42%, followed by Three (28%), and Eir (23%).

Respondents say, compared to two years ago, they are paying around €7 less per month for mobile phone bills.

Fewer than half (46%) of people aged between 18 and 24 now use landlines at home, while 88% of those over the age of 65 still have a home landline.

From the 1,039 interviews conducted for the study, the vast majority of respondents (70%) purchase TV, phone, and broadband services in bundles. This rate falls to just 49% in rural areas.

Those buying TV, phone, and broadband services in a bundle claim they are now paying €4 less per month than they were in 2013.

The number of bundles sold that cover broadband, TV and phone has doubled since 2013, from 16% to 33%.

ComReg also commissioned similar research for Irish SMEs, with the results showing that 68% of firms use social media for business purposes, while Facebook is the most popular site.

Of the 500 companies surveyed by RedC, 55% of them use the social network to engage with potential customers.

Superbugs breach final antibiotic line of defence

E.coli strain showing resistance to colistin isolated from intensively farmed pig in China 

   

Superbugs are thought to have spread from animals & have smashed through the last line in antibiotic defences and now pose a global threat, scientists say.

Researchers identified a gene that makes infectious bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E.coli) highly resistant to polymyxins, the last group of antibiotics left after all others have failed.

The discovery in China, described as “extremely worrying” by one scientist, suggests the gene can easily be transferred to bacteria with the potential to cause epidemics.

Besides E. coli they include the pneumonia bug Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can trigger serious lung, blood and surgical infections.

An E.coli strain showing resistance to the polymyxin drug colistin was isolated from an intensively farmed pig in Shanghai during routine testing.

Scientists found the bug was able to transfer its immunity to the drug to other strains via the mobile gene mcr-1. This led to further tests of bacterial samples collected from pigs at slaughter in four Chinese provinces, and pork and chicken sold in 30 open markets and 27 supermarkets across Guangzhou province between 2011 and 2014.

Bacteria from infected patients at two hospitals in Guangdongand Zhejiang provinces were also tested.

A high prevalence of the resistance gene was found in E. coli bugs isolated from animals and raw meat samples. The gene was also identified in 16 E.coli and K. pneumoniae samples taken from 1,322 hospitalised patients.

Alarmingly, the proportion of samples testing positive for the super-resistance gene increased from year to year, said the scientists.

Lead researcher Professor Jian-Hua Liu, from the South China Agricultural University in Guangzhou, said: “These are extremely worrying results. The polymyxins (colistin and polymyxin B) were the last class of antibiotics in which resistance was incapable of spreading from cell to cell. Until now, colistin resistance resulted from chromosomal mutations, making the resistance mechanism unstable and incapable of spreading to other bacteria.

“Our results reveal the emergence of the first polymyxin resistance gene that is readily passed between common bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Klesbsiella pneumoniae, suggesting that the progression from extensive drug resistance to pan-drug resistance is inevitable.”

It was likely that polymyxin resistance via mcr-1 originated in animals before spreading to humans, said the scientists writing in The Lancet Infectious Diseases journal.

Increasingly heavy use of colistin by Chinese farmers may have helped E.coli to acquire the gene, they added.

Worldwide, the demand for colistin in agriculture was expected to reach almost 12,000 tonnes per year by the end of this year, rising to 16,500 tonnes by 2021.

The scientists wrote: “The emergence of mcr-1 heralds the breach of the last group of antibiotics. Although currently confined to China, mcr-1 is likely to emulate other resistance genes… and spread worldwide. There is a critical need to re-evaluate the use of polymyxins in animals and for very close international monitoring and surveillance of mcr-1 in human and veterinary medicine.”

The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture has launched an immediate risk assessment of colistin use in animal feed additives.

British experts called the discovery “disturbing” and “alarming”.

Dr David Burch, veterinary surgeon and an independent member of the Ruma (Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture) Alliance, said: “The report of a new resistance gene (mcr-1) against polymixins (colistin) found in Escherichia coli from pigs in China, which can be potentially plasmid transferred between bacterial species and potentially to man via meat, is indeed disturbing and disappointing.”

He pointed out that China’s pig farming industry is the largest in the world, more than twice the size of Europe’s. The use of generic antimicrobial drugs in animals is not normally under veterinary control in China.

The risk of the resistance gene spreading was heightened by increased trade and tourism bridging China and the West, said Dr Burch.

Professor Nigel Brown, president of the Microbiology Society, said: “This discovery that resistance to colistin can be transferred between bacteria is alarming.

“Although resistance to this important and widely-used polymyxin group of antibiotics has previously been shown, it was generally caused by mutation in individual organisms. Now that it has been demonstrated that resistance can be transferred between bacteria and across bacterial species, another line of defence against infection is in danger of being breached.

“We need careful surveillance to track the potential global spread of this resistance, and investment in research to discover new drugs with different modes of action.”

Climate change is ‘single biggest threat’ to polar bear survival

   

‘High probability’ of a 30% decline in polar bear numbers by 2050 due to retreating sea ice, IUCN study finds

In Canadian towns such as Churchill, polar bears have already come into conflict with humans as the ice season in Hudson Bay shortens.

Global warming is now the single most important threat to the survival of the polar bear with retreating sea ice set to decimate populations, according to a new study by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

It found a “high probability” that the planet’s 26,000 polar bears will suffer a 30% decline in population by 2050 due to the loss of their habitat, which is disappearing at a faster rate than predicted by climate models.

“There is a high risk of extinction and the threat is serious,” said Dena Cator of the IUCN’s species survival commission. “You could consider polar bears to be a canary in the coal mine. They are an iconic and beautiful species that is extremely important to indigenous communities. But changes to their sea ice habitat are already being seen as a result of climate change.”

The animals, already classified as vulnerable by the IUCN, depend on seasonal sea ice, which they use as a platform to hunt ring seals and bearded seals after their summer fast.

But the extent of sea ice at its lowest point each year, in September, has shrunk at a rate of 14% per decade from 1979 to 2011, with the fourth-lowest extent recorded this year.

Annual ice-free periods of five months or more will spread hunger among polar bears, the IUCN said, pushing the species over a “tipping point”, with widespread reproductive failure and starvation in some areas.

Latest projections indicate that swaths of the Arctic could be ice-free for five months of the year or more by mid-century. Three of the 19 sub-population groups of polar bears studied are already in decline, in Baffin Bay, Kane Basin and the Southern Beaufort Sea.

But warming temperatures could also increase diseases among the polar bear’s traditional prey, further reinforcing the negative spiral. Pollution, human encroachment, and resource exploitation such as oil drilling only add to this dynamic.

In Canadian towns such as Churchill, polar bears have already come into conflict with humans, as the ice season in the western Hudson Bay has fallen by about one day per year over the last three decades.

Polar bears fight for survival as sea ice melts – video

“Human-bear conflict strategies are really coming into play in Churchill,” Cator said. “Polar bears are opportunists, like other bears. They look for what they can eat. When there is no sea ice, they will scavenge anything from whale carcasses to small animals or human rubbish.”

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Because the charismatic bears sit at the top of polar food chains, their decline could be devastating for local ecosystems, which could become unbalanced and chaotic.

It could also affect indigenous communities which have traditionally hunted the animals for food and fur. In some mythologies, where polar bears are revered as wise, powerful and almost human, the sense of loss is acute.

“In living memory, my people have never experienced the extinction of any animals in Greenland, so losing the polar bear would be very sad,” said Bjarne Lyberth, a biologist for KMAPK, the hunters and fishers’ association of Greenland.

Some communities in east Greenland still speak of mythical giant polar bears living on sea ice far from human civilisation, Lyberth said. But Greenland is poor – only 2% of the frozen country is arable – and KMPAK lobbies for an extension of polar bear hunting permits.

Bear skins are a status symbol in northern Greenland, and frequently used for clothing. In 2012, Greenland contributed 138 kills to the world’s annual cull of 700-800 polar bears.

An underwater view of a polar bear ( Ursus maritimus) swimming near Harbour Islands in Hudson Bay. Photograph: Paul Souders/Corbis

Lyberth was wary of the IUCN’s assessment – which he had not seen – even though it surveyed all 19 polar bear populations in the most comprehensive science-based assessment yet undertaken.

“No hunter that I know can see any decline in the polar bear populations,” he said. “They are observing more polar bears in east Greenland. Twenty years ago, hunters had to travel hundreds of kilometres to find polar bears. Now they come to the town of Ittoqqortoormiit.”

Charlotte Moshøj, a wildlife biologist who has studied the region attributed this to global warming already underway. “There aren’t more bears,” she told the Arctic Journal. “There is less habitat.”

Last September, the five polar bear range states – Greenland, Canada, the US, Russia and Norway – agreed a Polar action plan, which the IUCN describes as “the first global conservation strategy to strive for the long-term persistence of polar bears in the wild”.