Tag Archives: Unemployed

News Ireland daily BLOG Donie

Thursday 5th November 2015.

Numbers signing on Irish live Register down by 1.3% in October

There were 332,200 on the register last month as against 336,600 for September


The number of people aged under 25 years continued to decline, falling by 19.7% or 10,084 in the year to October. Annual decreases have occurred in all months since July 2012. 

The number of claimants signing on the Live Register fell by 4,400 last month, a decline of 1.3% versus September, according to new figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

There were 332,200 on the register at the end of October as against 336,600 for the previous month.

In unadjusted terms there were 320,794 people signing on, down 10.6% on October 2014.

The number of male claimants was down by 3,500 or 1.8% versus September and by 28,105 or 12.9% on an annual basis, leaving a total of 189,667 men signing on at the end of October.

The number of female claimants fell by 900 or 0.7% on a monthly basis and by 9,731 or 6.9% compared to October 2014.

According to the latest figures, the number of long-term claimants on the Live Register totalled 149,603 last month, down 12.5% on an annual basis.

There were 65,184 casual and part-time workers on the register, equivalent to 20.3% of the total numbers signing on in October and up from 19.9% a year earlier.

The number of people aged under 25 years continued to decline, falling by 19.7% or 10,084 in the year to October. Annual decreases have occurred in all months since July 2012.

Overall, there were 31,245 new registrants on the Live Register last month with an average of 3,345 male and 2,904 female claimants joining each week of the month.

CSO began publishing a new series of monthly unemployment estimates in June. the latest figures, published earlier this week, put the State’s jobless rate at 9.3% for October with youth unemployment falling to 19.7%.

The estimates replace the Standardised Unemployment Rate (SUR) as the definitive measure of monthly unemployment, which used to be published alongside the Live Register numbers.

Tánaiste Joan Burton says housing excuses are ‘bogus’


Tánaiste Joan Burton has hit out at local authorities who she says are finding “potentially spurious and bogus reasons” not to build social housing.

Government plans to provide modular housing for homeless families have already sparked a backlash, with one councillor claiming it would lead to “shanty towns” and “ghettoisation”.

There has been sharp criticism about the sites chosen for 153 new units in Dublin City Council, which is controlled by Sinn Féin, with questions about why land in more upmarket areas was not used.

The Labour leader said local councillors needed to put the needs of people first. “It is for council officials and the members of the city council to evaluate the sites,” said Ms Burton.

“But can I ask the members of the city council not to be finding potentially spurious and bogus reasons as to why the day keeps being put off when we actually develop social housing.”

Meanwhile, RTÉ refused a request to use space on its Montrose campus for modular housing, saying it would interfere with the day-to-day running of the broadcaster.

‘It’s not up to Travellers to police other Traveling Communities.

‘It is Extremely naive’ to say no criminal elements within Travelling community’


“Extremely naive” and “nonsense” to suggest there are no Travellers involved in criminal activity. Martin Collins, co-director with Pavee Point.

Pavee Point has said it would be “extremely naive” for the Travelling community to suggest there are no criminal elements in its midst.

Martin Collins, a co-director with the Traveller rights group, was speaking after Sinn Féin justice spokesman Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said some of the “mistrust” felt by the settled community was justified by “very poor behaviour and worse” on the part of some Travellers.

Mr Mac Lochlainn, who is half Traveller and has urged the State to recognise the community as an ethnic group, said: “There is criminality within the Travelling community. They are a disgrace, those involved in criminality, they let down their own community and they shame their own community.”

Mr Collins said it would be “extremely naive for any of us to suggest for one second there isn’t an element in our community involved in criminal activity”.

“That would be just nonsense,” he said. “The point I think Padraig is trying to make is that the rest of the Travellers are being held to account for the minority within the minority who are involved in this behaviour. That’s not acceptable.

“You can’t stereotype and demonise a whole community of people just because of the behaviour of a number within the community.”

Mr Collins added that it was not the responsibility of Travellers to police other Travellers.

“When it comes to Travellers there is an expectation that 100 per cent of Travellers are expected to behave well 100 per cent of the time and it’s only then that Travellers will be treated with respect and dignity,” he said. “We don’t accept that of any other community so there is a case of double standards.

“It’s wrong, it’s unacceptable, and those people need to be held to account, but it’s not up to Travellers to police other Travellers.

“Traveller organisations need to work with the gardaí – and they are working with the gardaí – so that people are held to account for their bad behaviour, but we don’t expect other settled people to police or account for the behaviour of other settled people. That’s just not on.”

Irish Traveller Movement director Brigid Quilligan said Mr Mac Louchlainn’s remarks taken in isolation could present a misleading portrayal of his position in relation to the Travelling community.

“They were made in a bigger context,” she said. “There is a minority of people engaged in criminality within the Traveller community, but he contextualised that by saying that also exists in the settled community.

“When you see what he said out of context, I can see why people might find it offensive but his wider speech was wholeheartedly in favour and full support of Travellers.

“He was acknowledging, as we have done in the past, that there is a small minority of our community engaged in criminality – and we will call those people out as well.”

‘A joint at a concert’ should not be criminalised?

Says Committee


A report says possession of some illegal drugs should be dealt with by ‘Dissuasion Committees’

People caught smoking “a joint at a concert” should not be criminalised, the Oireachtas Justice committee has recommended.

A new report says the possession of small amounts of illegal drugs for personal use should be dealt with by so-called “Dissuasion Committees”, which are used in Portugal, rather than the criminal justice system.

Committee chairman Fine Gael TD David Stanton said gardaí he had spoken to about the proposal informally were “delighted” with the idea of adopting the Portuguese authorities’ approach to small-scale drug offences.

“It’s not going to be legal. It’s not legal in Portugal. We’re not saying it should be legal here, but it should not be criminalised. It should be treated the same way as a road traffic offence or a speeding offence or something like that,” Mr Stanton said.

He said police he had spoken to during a fact-finding mission to Portugal said they were now able to devote their resources to “heavy hitters” involved in drug dealing and trafficking.

“We’re not using the word legalisation. So it’s not that. And also if you go through this report decriminalisation is not mentioned either, because we want to take the focus away from the criminal justice area and move it to the health area,” he said.

“Speaking informally to members of the gardaí, and people who actually work on the ground, have told me informally they’re absolutely delighted because they say they don’t want to be bringing people to the courts for possession of small amounts of illegal substances.”

He said the stigma having a criminal record could have “massive implications” on a person’s future, “for maybe making one mistake, having a joint at a concert for instance”.

Mr Stanton said the committee had been keen to publish its report before the election and hoped the next Government would adopt its proposals.

Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell, who also travelled to Portugal, said “Dissuasion Committees” took place in informal meeting rooms.

“It was somewhere were individuals would, in a very casual format, discuss their addiction…There were no suits, there were no white suits,” he said.

A range of professionals were available to the “clients”, he said.

The launch of the committee’s report was also attended by Independent Senator Katherine Zappone and Labour Senator Ivana Bacik.

In the audience was Dr Garrett McGovern, a GP with experience of treating drug and alcohol addiction, who expressed concern about the “inference” that everybody who used cannabis needed to go before a “Dissuasion Committee”.

He said: “I treat a hell of a lot of addiction. I treat very little cannabis. The vast, vast majority of cannabis users do not have a problem with cannabis.

“To put them through a health committee is going to be very expensive, probably very stigmatising. I don’t think it’s the way to do that. If somebody has a problem with cannabis, that’s different.”

Britain’s oldest tree may be undergoing a sex change?


The original size of the tree’s trunk is marked by wooden poles.

The Fortingall Yew, one of the oldest living organisms in Europe, may be undergoing a sex change.

The tree in Scotland — which by some estimates has been male for nearly 5,000 years — was recently found sprouting red berries. The berries are female.

“They’re there to attract birds to eat them and disperse the seeds,” says Dr. Max Coleman, a Botanist at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, who first spotted the berries on the ancient Yew.

Many plants have male and female parts, but the ancient Yew is usually one sex or the other. Not both. So what happened? It could be an evolutionary strategy to keep the ancient Yew living even longer, says Coleman. 

“It might be that occasional switches of sex can maximize the reproduction potential,” he says of the of evergreen tree.

Still, the sudden apprearance of female parts on a tree thousands of years old is a mystery.

Religion makes children less generous than other kids,

Say Scientists


Religion is often associated with morality, but new research shows that children from religious households are actually less generous than kids from a secular background.

This conclusion comes from a study of over 1000 children from around the world, published in the journal Current Biology. The project was led by Professor Jean Decety, a neuroscientist from the University of Chicago, who didn’t originally aim to compare moral behavior. “I was more interested in whether I would find differences in empathy or sharing depending on the culture,” he says. “It turned out to be a really interesting finding.”

While previous research has examined generosity in adults, Decety’s work reveals that upbringing shapes morality early in life. This includes altruism – actions that benefit a recipient at a cost to the donor. Children learn religious values and beliefs from their family and community, through rituals like going to church. If religion promotes morality, kids from religious households should show stronger altruistic tendencies.

Generosity and punishment

Decety’s team of psychologists assessed altruism using ‘the dictator game’: each child was given 30 stickers and told to choose how many to share with an anonymous child from the same school and similar ethnic group. This task reflects choices in ecology – allocating limited resources – and the results were used to calculate a ‘generosity score’. The researchers looked at 1170 children aged 5-12 years old, from six countries (USA, Canada, China, Jordan, Turkey and South Africa). Most kids came from households that identified as Christian (24%), Muslim (43%) or not religious (28%). (There were small numbers from Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu and agnostic homes, who weren’t compared.)

The results show that secular children shared more stickers. Muslim children are less generous than Christian kids, but this is not statistically significant (labelled ‘ns’ in the bar chart below). All three groups became less altruistic with age, though religious children had lower generosity, suggesting that longer exposure to religion leads to less altruism.

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Thursday 21st May 2015

Ireland’s jobless rate falls to under 10% but more than 200,000 still out of work


Data shows economy continues to create jobs at a steady rate as recovery continues.

Ireland had an unemployment rate of just 4.5% in the first quarter of 2007, but that rate peaked at 15.1% in 2012. In the first quarter of 2015, it dropped to 9.9%.

New data show Ireland’s unemployment rate fell to 9.9% in the first quarter of the year, the first time since the fateful year of 2008 that the rate came in below 10%. This represents a key psychological threshold, although the figures show that more than 200,000 people are still without work.

The good news here is that the economy continues to create jobs at a steady clip. In the year to March, Central Statistics data indicates 41,300 jobs were created and the number people unemployed dropped by 45,300. Employment increased by 12,500 in the first quarter of the year on a seasonally adjusted basis, following on from an increase of 13,000 in the final quarter of 2014 .

All of this is in line with trend growth since the recovery began, with 11 successive quarters of annualised decline in unemployment bringing the rate down from the 15.1% reached at the very height of the jobs crisis in the first quarter of 2012.

The sweep of figures is salutory. Ireland had an unemployment rate of just 4.5% in the first quarter of 2007, when the emergence of distress in the US subprime mortgage market was but a distant sign of woe to come. Conditions changed rather suddenly as the economy stalled and the banking sector teetered on the brink. Ireland’s unemployment rate doubled between 2008 and 2009, as the official rate advanced to 10.2% in the first quarter of 2009 from 5% only one year previously. The annual decrease in the number of employed people in that single year was 158,500, a terrible toll .

It is in the nature of economic crises that recovery takes longer to bed down than the precipitous losses endured in a crash. Thus the rate at which jobs are being created now does not match the sickening speed at which they were lost when Ireland was on the rocks. But that is not to take from the signs that recovery is deepening.

For one thing, the latest CSO data indicates that the rate of long-term unemployment declined to 5.9% in the first months of 2015 from 7.3% a year earlier. For another, the data shows that more full-time jobs are being created now than part-time posts. The increase in full-time employment was 52,100 and there was a decrease in part-time employment. The benefit of all this is clear. More people at work means more people spending, more paying tax and fewer drawing payments.

These figures also provide a glimpse into the shape of recovery. The largest rates of employment increase were recorded in the construction sector, where 19,600 jobs were created, and in the financial, insurance and real estate activities, where employment is up by 4,600. At the same time, the greatest rate of decline was recorded in professional, scientific and technical activities, where the number working dclined by 6,400.

The Minister for Finance’s push for a better deal from the banks


Lending institutions have to accept standard variable mortgage rates are simply too high

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan will complete his meeting with bank chief executives today and will presumably make some statement about the outcome of his talks. A report on the cost of standard variable rate mortgages, which has been compiled by the Central Bank, may also be published. The indications are that the banks may slowly start to move on mortgage rates, though what precise form this will take remains to be seen. Standard variable mortgage rates are too high. As the banking market starts to normalise, the banks should have reduced their rates by now, given the generally low interest rate environment.

The Central Bank report makes this point, and refers to the danger to the banks of a political response if they do not act in the near future. What that political response might be is not clear, although Mr Noonan does have options, even if he would prefer not to have to use them.

There are some points needed to put the argument in context. The banks all have large books of tracker mortgages, on which customers are paying rock bottom rates, a point also underlined in the Central Bank report. The Government also needs the banks to be profitable, particularly in the case of AIB, on which it hopes to start selling down its shareholding late this year or early next year. Falling lending rates may also, in some cases, mean a drop in returns to savers, via lower deposit rates. All that said, it is unreasonable to expect existing standard rate mortgage holders to have to pay so far above European norms. Apart from Permanent TSB, the banks are now back in profit and their cost of funding has fallen. In this environment, the margins they are making on standard variable mortgages are unreasonably high.

Government interventions, which go beyond urging the banks, can be hard to target to achieve the right result. Of course politics are at play here. With a general election in the offing, the Government is keen to get a “win” and to be seen to persuade the banks to offer a better deal to customers. The fact that Minister Noonan is calling in all the main lenders suggests he feels something can, indeed by achieved. The indications are that this might come through a mix of cuts to standard variable mortgage rates along with the option for existing mortgage holders to move to competitively priced fixed rate mortgages for a period of years.

The banks may feel they are being unfairly treated, particularly as in overall terms their profit margins are probably not excessive. But they should have realised by now that their standard variable mortgage rates are simply too high. Sustainable business models involve being fair to customers and there is a manifestly undue burden on existing standard variable mortgage holders. The banks should offer them a better deal.

Charles remembers the ‘grandfather he never had “Mountbatten”

Charles state’s in his Sligo speech

  • While visiting “Mullaghmore’s Harbour”


Prince Charles paid tribute to the “grandfather he never had”, the assassinated Lord Mountbatten, in a speech this afternoon in which he said friendship with Ireland cannot be based on “pretending the past did not happen”.

Prince Charles began by saying “I cannot tell you what a pleasure it is to be in Ireland once again,” and attempting a few words of Irish in greeting.

  He said the “ancient land of Ireland … can be a great source of inspiration for some” and cites the poetry of WB Yeats, much of which was inspired by the Sligo landscape.

“It is not a stretch to say that it is through Yeats’ work that many British people are first introduced to Ireland.”

He said relations between Britain and Ireland had “changed dramatically” since his last trip in the 1990s, through the Good Friday agreement.

He said the Queen’s recent visit – and the return visit by President Higgins, was “clear evidence of the maturity of our relations, which are now better than ever …[due to] respect between two sovereign nations.”

However, he said “our current blessed era of friendship and cooperation is not based on pretending the past did not happen.”

“I am only too deeply aware of the long history of suffering which Ireland has endured, not only in recent decades, but over the course of its history.

“It is a history which I know has caused much pain and much resentment, in a world of imperfect human beings.

“In the end, our acquaintance has been long, and we can turn that … into something new. We need no longer be victims … we can integrate our history and memory in order to reap the subtle harvest of history.

“Let us, then, endeavour to become the subjects of our history, and not its prisoners.”

The royals traveled to Mullaghmore, Co Sligo, where Lord Mountbatten was assassinated by the IRA along with three others when the IRA detonated a bomb on his boat on August 27 1979.

Charles said Mountbatten represented “the grandfather I never had.” But he said through that tragedy, he had learned to understand the agony of those in Ireland who suffered in conflict.

After a prayer service for peace and reconciliation in nearby Drumcliffe, Charles will meet some of those who were in the seaside village on the day of the atrocity and others who pulled survivors and bodies from the Atlantic.

The royals will also have the chance to visit the burial site of WB Yeats in the church cemetery and under the shadow of Benbulben and plant a tree in the grounds.

Other engagements include a view of the Niland Art Collection and music and poetry recitals to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Yeats’ birth

Permission refused for Coillte wind farm in Mayo


Decision on separate, adjoining scheme delayed until November

An Bord Pléanála refused the Cluddaun project over concerns relating to peat slippage and the flows of streams and rivers.

A 48-turbine wind farm proposed for Co Mayo has been refused planning permission by An Bord Pleanála.

Coillte’s project, on lands at Cluddaun, was to be complemented by an adjoining 112-turbine, €600-million scheme at Bellacorick, put forward by an ESB/Bord na Móna consortium, Oweninny Power Ltd.

Together the two schemes represented a potential €825-million investment that, if approved, would have been the country’s largest onshore wind farm, potentially generating 521 megawatts of power.

A decision on the larger Oweninny proposal is not expected until at least November.

Refusing the Cluddaun application yesterday, An Bord Pleanála specifically said it was “not satisfied that the developments as proposed would not have the potential to impact negatively on the surface and groundwater hydrology”.

These concerns relate to the potential for peat slippage and changes in the flows of natural streams and rivers.

  Protected habitats reasons?

Other reasons cited included the scale of the development, the “exceptionally sensitive” nature of the location in close proximity to designated and protected habitats and a landscape “characterised by blanket bog, lakes, ponds and watercourses”. The isolation of the site from public roads, which would have necessitated access through third-party land, was also of concern.

Responding to the decision, the Moy Valley ProtectionGroup, which had opposed the scheme, said it “condemns the wasting of public money by Coillte and the Government in attempting to build a wind farm in an unsuitable area of outstanding beauty against the wishes of the local community and without any consideration of their wellbeing”.

Planning permission was sought under strategic infrastructure legislation that allows the application to bypass the local authority and proceed directly to An Bord Pleanála.

A Judicial review: While this is the final stage in the planning process, it is now open to Coillte, a natural resources management company, to apply for judicial review. In a statement, it said it “notes the decision” and will not comment further at this stage.

Attention will now focus on the remaining part of the overall scheme. An Bord Pleanála has written to the ESB requesting further information on its Oweninny Power proposal, specifically a revised environmental impact statement. A decision will not be reached until at least November, although this time-frame could be extended.

An oral hearing on both projects was conducted in Ballina, Co Mayo, in April 2014. Eighteen submissions were filed in relation to the Oweninny proposal, and 17 for Cluddaun.

Issues of concern raised by various groups at the time included health and safety, proximity to homes, noise, “flicker” from turbines, the effect on property values, construction, noise and travel. Concerns about landslides, impact on the land and tourism also featured.

Global news organisations agree to share climate change content


The Guardian, El País, Le Monde and China Daily are among 25 publishers aiming to raise awareness in the runup to the next UN summit

Environmental activists hold banners during a rally in front of the Brandenburg Gate near the venue for the Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin.

An unprecedented alliance of news publishers including the Guardian, El País, Le Monde and China Daily have agreed to share climate change content to raise awareness in the runup to the next UN summit.

More than two dozen publishers from around the world – from the Sydney Morning Herald to India Today and the Seattle Times – have agreed to scrap licensing fees for climate change content so that members of the alliance can freely republish articles.

The initiative, called the Climate Publishers Network, aims to create a global pool of content to provide a resource for publishers to widen coverage ahead of the UN climate change summit in Paris in December.

The goal is to expand the network beyond its founding partners, brought together with help from the Global Editors Network, until the initiative disbands on the last day of the COP 21 summit on 11 December.

Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger, El Pais editor-in-chief Antonio Cano and Global Editors Network president Ricardo Kirschbaum said: “We very much hope that publications across the political spectrum will join us either in using some of our material or, ideally, offering their own material as well.”

Publishers that are members of the network can cherry-pick the articles they want and, if necessary, can have them translated for use on their own websites.

Guardian director of digital strategy Wolfgang Blau said that the 25 founding partners represented an unprecedented mix of political leanings and geographical spread to have pulled together for such a content-sharing initiative.

“It is unprecedented that such a diverse and large group of news organisations from all continents decides to collaborate in this way,” he said. “Climate change is the biggest challenge humanity is currently facing and requires new ways of collaborating across geographic as well as political boundaries.

News Ireland daily BLOG Thursday

Wed. 5th & Thrs 6th June 2013

Ireland’s live Register down by 700 for May to 426,100


On a seasonally adjusted basis the Live Register total recorded a monthly decrease of 700 in May 2013, bringing the seasonally adjusted total to 426,100. In unadjusted terms there were 421,737 people signing on the Live Register in May 2013.

This represents an annual decrease of 11,170 (-2.6%). The number of long term claimants (more than 12 months) on the Live Register in May was 191,997.

The standard unemployment rate (SUR) for May 2013 was 13.7%, unchanged from the revised April 2013 rate. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate from the most recent Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS) was 13.7% in the first quarter of 2013.

Net annual emigration is running at 30,000 and in April the IMF said that the broad rate of unemployment was 23%.

On a seasonally adjusted basis the Live Register showed a monthly decrease of 700 males in May 2013, while females saw no change over the same period.

The number of male claimants decreased by 11,842 (-4.2%) to 266,921 over the year while female claimants showed little change increasing slightly by 672 to 154,816. This compares with a decrease of 9,527 (-3.3%) to 278,763 for males and an increase of 1,487 (+1.0%) to 154,144 for females in the year to May 2012.

The CSO says the Live Register is not designed to measure unemployment. It includes part-time workers (those who work up to three days a week), seasonal and casual workers entitled to Jobseeker’s Benefit (JB) or Jobseeker’s Allowance (JA). Unemployment is measured by the Quarterly National Household Survey and the latest estimated number of persons unemployed as of the first quarter of 2013 was 292,000.

Today’s Live Register data show the unemployment rate unchanged at 13.7% in May. This suggests the unemployment rate is unchanged from April and flat since the beginning of 2013. Total persons on the Live Register were 426,100 in May. This is the lowest level since August 2009. Of these, 68,900 were under the age of 25. Of course, reduced claims will reflect emigration and lower labour force participation in addition to higher employment. Nonetheless, today’s release suggests the downward trend in jobless claims is being maintained into Q2 2013.

That said, the Live Register release also provides data on numbers in government-run Job Activation programmes that are not included in the Live Register claimants data. Total numbers in these schemes were 86,042 in April 2013, up from 82,161 in April 2012. This is an increase of 3,881, or 4.7%, accounting for around one-third of the decline in Live Register numbers in the year to April.

The monthly unemployment series has been revised down substantially from the 14.0% first indicated for April to 13.7%. These revisions follow the release of the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS), which indicated that employment grew by 0.4% quarter-on-quarter in Q1 2013 and that the unemployment rate fell to 13.7%. So the 13.7% indicated for May in today’s release could in time still be revised substantially.

The Live Register data gave some indication that labour market trends were improving in Q1, although not to the extent revealed by the QNHS. The first vintages of the Live Register data showed the monthly unemployment rate declining from 14.3% in October to 14.0% in March. However, there are no clear signals for Q2 2013, with the Live Register unemployment rate flat in April and May at 13.7%, unchanged from Q1 2013. That said, jobless claims have continued their downward trend, which is somewhat encouraging.”

New motor tyre’s could be dangerous and a death trap


New tyre’s can be dangerous. Just because they have not been used doesn’t mean they are safe.

That is the warning now emerging after being highlighted by the Consumers Association of Ireland (CAI).

Its chief, Dermot Jewell, told Independent Motors it had reports of people buying new tyres only to discover, within two months, that they had perished. That is because they had been lying around unused for years and had begun perishing.

Mr Jewell says: “With money so scarce, people are not replacing tyres as often so they are being stockpiled and growing old. It is very dangerous. You could buy something that’s technically new but they could end up being dangerous.”

   Reputable dealers will check the date of manufacture for you. Dodgy ones won’t. That is the clear message from the Consumers Association.

The frightening verdict that unused tyres can become dangerously unfit for purpose without ever being on the road is another sharp reminder of just how little we know about four of the most important items on our cars.

But you should also know how to check for yourself – please see accompanying guide.

The central message is that tyres are susceptible to aging.

Like all rubber products, their physical and chemical properties change over time, components dry out, adhesion breaks down and that means tread can separate from other parts.

Mr Jewell told us: “Some consumers have bought what they believed to be new tyres. But they discovered they were in fact perished and needed to be replaced immediately for safety.

There is a recommendation that tyres should not be used if they have been in storage or unused for more than six years.

Now, in the absence of regulation on sell-by dates, the CAI is pleading with buyers to ask the age of any tyres they are thinking of purchasing.

“Although they may look new, they may in fact have been in storage for a significant period,” Mr Jewell says.

He admits it is a “new” issue for consumers who pay “significant” amounts for new tyres.

Mr Jewell says: “Reputable traders will have no difficulty in providing basic detail about the age of the tyre. If someone cannot or will not then we suggest consumers take their business elsewhere.”

Sometimes ageing cannot be detected by the naked eye and yet the tyre may be extremely unsafe. The CAI’s concerns come against the backdrop of new research which suggests that as many as 10 million tyres on UK roads could be dangerous – again not because of poor tread, but because of age.

Only 17pc of drivers know how to identify when their car’s tyres were manufactured.

The research, for Kwik Fit, says drivers may find their tyres reach the end of their safe life long before the tread nears the 1.6mm legal limit.

Nearly three-in-five (59pc) don’t know their tyres display the information needed to work out their age. One-quarter (24pc) know but can’t interpret the numbers.

More than six million drivers thought their car’s tyres were older than five years.

Low-mileage, older cars tend to be most at risk from premature ageing as their owners assume there is no problem if they can still see plenty of tread.

Irish Pharmacists legally obliged to replace branded medicines soon


Irish Pharmacists will be legally obliged to substitute branded medicines with cheaper, generic drugs within months.

The Irish Medicines Board (IMB) said assessments are under way on the county’s top 20 active substances that make up approximately 1,500 individual medicines.

The cholesterol-lowering drug Atorvastatin (Lipitor) will be the first one available under the scheme, by mid August, with two to three following each month after.

Pat O’Mahony, IMB chief executive, said specialist staff have been preparing for the introduction of the generic substitution legislation in recent months.

“Generic medicines meet exactly the same standards of quality and safety and have the same effect as the original branded medicines,” he said.

The Health (Pricing and Supply of Medical Goods) Act 2013 was signed by President Michael D Higgins last week and is expected to commence later this month, when consultations and assessments begin.

Under the system, the IMB will publish a list of interchangeable medicines on its website showing those medicines that can be safely substituted by pharmacists.

The first 20 active substances were selected by the Department of Health on the basis of overall cost to patients and the State, which forks out some 2 billion euro (£1.6 billion) on drugs each year.

A Department of Health spokesman said it is not possible to estimate the possible savings from the new legislation.

Meanwhile an IMB survey found eight out of ten consumers would accept a generic medicine if offered it by their doctor or pharmacist, while nine out of ten who previously used generic medicines said they had a positive experience.

It also revealed GPs (64%) and pharmacists (31%) are the most trusted sources of medicines advice.

However it also found one in four people were not familiar with the term ‘generic medicine’ and that 17% of respondents would not accept a generic if offered it by their healthcare professional.

“The main reason cited by those who would not accept a generic medicine is their lack of understanding of generic medicines,” added Mr O’Mahony.

“The increased focus on generics that is accompanying the introduction of the new legislation will help to address this.”

Unborn Babies learn & practice to grimace in the womb


Unborn babies “practice” facial expressions of pain while they are in the womb, scientists say.

Foetuses have been pictured using 4D scanning technology showing what appears to be pain.

The researchers, from Durham and Lancaster universities, suggest the ability to grimace is a “developmental process” which could help doctors assess the health of a foetus.

The study, published in the journal Plos One, found when the mother was 24 weeks pregnant, unborn babies were able to make simple expressions such as smiling. By 36 weeks the children were able to create “complex multi-dimensional expressions” such as pain.

Researchers, who examined video footage of 4D scans of 15 healthybabies, said the process was “adaptive” and helped the unborn baby to prepare for life after birth.

The study expands on previous research that suggests facial expressions of healthy foetuses develop and become more complex during pregnancy.

Researchers hope further investigation will examine whether the development of facial expressions in the womb is delayed if the mother smokes or drinks during pregnancy.

Lead researcher Dr Nadja Reissland, of Durham University’s Department of Psychology, said: “It is vital for infants to be able to show pain as soon as they are born so that they can communicate any distress or pain they might feel to their carers and our results show that healthy foetuses ‘learn’ to combine the necessary facial movements before they are born.

“This suggests that we can determine the normal development of facial movements and potentially identify abnormal development too. This could then provide a further medical indication of the health of the unborn baby.

“It is not yet clear whether foetuses can actually feel pain, nor do we know whether facial expressions relate to how they feel. Our research indicates that the expression of foetal facial movements is a developmental process which seems to be related to brain maturation rather than being linked to feelings.”

Rare monkeys start family at Dublin Zoo with twins


The newborn white-faced Saki monkey weighed about five ounces when born four weeks ago.

A pair of rare monkeys has started a new family at Dublin Zoo.

The tiny white-faced Saki was only 150 grams – about five ounces – when born four weeks ago and is only now just big enough to be seen by visitors.

Cradled by his protective mother, the unnamed male is one of the first new deliveries expected at the zoo over the summer. The Sulawesi-crested macaques also welcomed a new baby ape arrival recently.

Team leader Eddie O’Brien said it will be another four months before the young saki leaves his mother’s side and ventures out in to the South American House enclosure.

He said: “At the moment he is feeding from his mother and in about four weeks he will start to eat solids of mainly fruit and vegetables.

“For the next four months, his mother will carry the little guy close to her chest.

“In time, he will become stronger, gain more independence and start exploring the habitat on his own.”

While not endangered in the wild, white-faced Saki’s are a rare primate found in the tropical forests of Brazil, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname and Venezuela. There are only three in Dublin Zoo, the newborn and his parents.

They have long furry coats with thick, shaggy hair with the male developing a white face and females having a bright stripe of golden hair from beneath each eye to the corner of her mouth or chin.

Staff said the Saki’s are normally shy monkeys, but are known to put on a real show of aggression to protect their territory by arching their backs, growling loudly and shaking their hair and the tree branches.

3-Inch Fossil holds clue to Human split from the Apes


The remains of a 55-million-year-old monkey found in China that could fit in the palm of one’s hand and had man-like feet and face, may offer a new timeline on when humans split from their primate cousins, scientists said.

An analysis of the nearly complete 3-inch (8-centimeter) skeleton concluded it was from the tarsiiforme family of primates, which includes lemurs, and shared characteristics of anthropoids, a group of higher primates that includes humans, according to a report in the journal Nature. The creature lived 10 million years after dinosaurs went extinct, scientists said.

The discovery of the new primate, named Archicebus achilles because of its man-like heel bone, narrows the time frame when tarsiiformes and anthropoids diverged. It also backs the hypothesis that the earliest primates were small mammals active in the daytime, climbed trees, and ate mainly insects, researchers said in the June 5 paper.

“This creature is very bizarre, it has a combination of features from tarsiiformes and from anthropoids,” said study author Ni Xijun of the Beijing-based Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology. “It also has nails on all its fingers and toes, a rounded face and brain case, very short snout, and front-facing eyes unlike with other small creatures.”

Very Long Tail

The new primate from the Eocene period, which lasted from 56 million to 34 million years ago, also has slender limbs and a disproportionately long tail when compared with its body. Absence of large eyes, which is common among nocturnal animals, mark it as a diurnal, or daytime, animal, according to the report.

The earliest anthropoid fossil found previously, also in China, is from about 45 million years ago, said Ni, citing an earlier study published in Nature in January 2000.

“We actually don’t know a lot about early anthropoids, but we now know quite a lot about tarsiiformes from this fossil, and we can deduce that the earliest anthropoid could be very similar,” said Ni, whose institute is part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in a telephone interview from Beijing.

The researchers had obtained the fossil in 2003 from a farmer, who found it while prospecting for relics in an abandoned paleontological site in central China’s Hubei province. The group then spent the next 10 years analyzing the petrified remains.

With an almost complete skeleton for the earliest primate found, scientists that find other fossils in future can use it as a reference, Ni said, adding this “will to help clarify a lot of theories about the origins of anthropoids.”

“From an evolutionary point of view, we know human beings belong to a large family of primates, but when did we separate from the other members?” he said. “Our finding sets up a milestone for that.”