Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Donie's Ireland daily news BLOG update

Ireland fifth most expensive country in EU,

A CSO report finds

Only Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg dearer than Ireland in 2013.

A graphic taken from the Measuring Ireland’s Progress 2013 report by the CSO.
Ireland remains one of the most expensive countries of Europe, ranking as the fifth most expensive state in the EU in 2013.
Only Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Luxembourg are more expensive according to Measuring Ireland’s Progress 2013, a report released by the Central Statistics Office this morning.
This was despite Ireland having the lowest increase in inflation in the EU between 2009 and 2013.
The report, which examines comparative data from across the European Union across 58 indicators; covering population, social cohesion, crime, finance, employment and housing found that prices in Ireland were 20 per cent above the EU average in 2013.
However, it notes this actually represents an improvement on the 2009 figures when price levels in Ireland were the second highest in the EU at 26 % above average.
Ireland had one of the highest public balance deficits in the EU at 5.7% of gross domestic product (GDP), the fifth largest in Europe, but a fraction of the 32.4% deficit recorded in 2010.
The country ranked among the four worst countries for government debt which stood at 123.3% of GDP in 2013, the fourth highest debt to GDP ratio in the EU. Ireland’s government debt was 62.2% in 2009.
Ireland recorded the seventh-highest unemployment rate in the EU in 2013 at 13.9%, above the EU average of 10.8%.
In Austria, where the lowest unemployment rate was recorded, the comparative figure was 4.9% while Greece fared worst in the EU at 27.5%.
The employment rate in Ireland stood at 60.2% in 2013, the tenth lowest in the EU and below the EU average of 64.1%.
The highest employment rate in the EU was in Sweden at 74.4% while the lowest was recorded in Greece at 48.8%.
The level of people in consistent poverty increased between 2012 and 2013 rising from 7.7% to 8.2% of the population.
However, children were more likely than the general population to find themselves in consistent poverty with one in eight children, or 11.7% of under-18s, in consistent poverty in Ireland in 2013 compared to 9.9% a year earlier.
Irish primary school class sizes stood at 24.4% on average in 2013, the second highest in the EU (these figures related to 2012), with only the UK faring worse.
Expenditure per student in Ireland increased over the period between 2004 and 2013 by 10% at primary level and by 6% at secondary level.
However there was a decrease of a fifth at third level in the same time period.
Public expenditure on health care in Ireland averaged at €2,973 per person in 2013, consistent with the 2012 figures, and a 7% increase when compared to 2004.
Life expectancy at birth in Ireland is 83.2 years for women and 78.7 years, both of which are above the EU average.
A 65-year-old man in Ireland can now expect to live a further 16.6 years, while a woman of the same age can expect to live a further 19.8 years.
In 2012 Ireland had the highest fertility rate in the EU at 2.01, far higher than the EU average of 1.58.
In 2013, Ireland had the highest proportion of young people (those aged 14 and under) in the EU, and the second lowest proportion of old people (those aged 65 and over).
The divorce rate in Ireland was 0.6 divorces per 1,000 population in 2012, the lowest rate in the EU.
551 people on hospital trolleys as flu outbreak worsens

A record 55 patients on trolleys awaiting admission in University Hospital Limerick


More than 500 people are awaiting admission to hospital on trolleys in emergency departments around the country.

Overcrowding in some hospitals is at record levels, as the number of patients on trolleys nationally remains high.
University Hospital Limerick (UHL) was the worst hospital in the State for overcrowding, with 55 patients waiting for admission in the emergency department and on wards. This is believed to be the highest figure recorded for the hospital.
Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown had 45 patients waiting for admission, while there were 46 patients on trolleys atBeaumont Hospital in Dublin – which has had a chronic overcrowding problem since the New Year.
The total number of patients waiting for admission was 551 nationally, slightly up on the 543 recorded on Monday and the fifth highest figure recorded since records began a decade ago.
UHL blamed its overcrowding on the older age profile of patients and the complexity of their cases, and a small number of winter vomiting bug cases.
A spokeswoman said an escalation plan was underway and patients were being transferred to Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s hospitals. Non-urgent elective surgery has been cancelled this week and extra rounds put on to identify patients who are fit for discharge.
Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has attributed the high figures to a big increase in the number of older people requiring admission and the enforced closure of beds in some hospitals because of a flu outbreak.
The Mater Hospital and St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin,Naas General Hospital, Letterkenny General Hospital and Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda all had more than 30 patients waiting for admission to each yesterday. In contrast, the State’s largest hospital, St James’s in Dublin, had just five people on trolleys.
Mr Varadkar has called on people to use minor injury units rather than hospital emergency departments where possible.

Hundreds of students queue at Galway pub for Donegal event


Event part of unofficial rag week and not connected to NUIG, says student union president.

Hundreds of students gather outside the Hole in the Wall pub in Galway city for the annual ’Donegal Tuesday’ event.
Hundreds of students queued outside a Galway city pub on Tuesday morning ahead of an annual Donegal themed event.
Donegal Tuesday, held on the second day of the unofficial rag week, was one of the events set up after students at theNational University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) voted to abolish rag week in 2011.
Students, many wearing Donegal GAA jerseys, began queuing near the Hole in the Wall pub in the city centre from early in the morning. Hundreds lined the footpath leading from Eyre Street to Woodquay Street by the time the pub opened its doors at 10.30am.
A large number of students are believed to have travelled from outside Galway to take part.
An Garda Síochána used its Twitter account to call on students to act responsibly during rag week and remind them that local gardaí would be on the streets enforcing the Public Order Act.
A second message posted on the @gardainfo account reminded students in Galway not to be the one that ruins it for everyone and to have fun while being safe.
NUIG students’ union president Declan Higgins said the Donegal Tuesday event was not connected with the university.
“Members of the student body voted in 2011 to discontinue rag week,” said Mr Higgins, adding that many of the former rag week events badly affected the welfare of students in NUIG.
He said an agreement was signed between the university and the student body which brought an end to the annual rag week events in return for a series of concessions from the college.
These concessions included an almost-trebling of the university’s contribution to the student assistance fund from €33,000 to €93,000, and a guarantee that the campus health unit would not introduce charges.
The decision to end the festival and accept the concessions was passed by 95 per cent of the vote in 2011.
A Facebook account set up for the event in 2013 writes that Donegal Tuesday is a chance to celebrate Daniel O’Donnell, Football Special and Jim McGuinness.
It continues: “In honour of our fine county we’re gonna wreck the Hole, wreck Ardara and pull up Brian’s trousers. Pints at the ready and shots on standby. Dust off your finest of the green and gold as the ultimate day of celebration approaches.”

31 new cases of cancer discovered each week in Galway

Jay (6) and Zoe (9) O’Toole from Salthill enjoying Daffodil Day last year.

There are 31 people in Galway diagnosed with cancer every week – as cancer rates have increased by 4% over the past three years.

That is based on cancer incidence figures taken from the National Cancer Registry from 2010-2012, and released this week as the Irish Cancer Society and Dell launched Daffodil Day 2015 in Galway.
Daffodil Day will take place in Galway on Friday, March 27 – marking the 28th running of Ireland’s longest running and biggest fundraising day.
The Society announced a growth in cancer incidence that is sure to have a direct impact on its services – increasing the need for the people in Galway to support Daffodil Day so they can reach their fundraising target of €3.5 million for 2015.
Speaking at the launch of Daffodil Day, John McCormack, Chief Executive Officer, Irish Cancer Society acknowledged that every family in Galway is touched by cancer – and these new figures confirm that cancer rates are growing.
“As cancer is increasing so are our efforts to fight it. As the national cancer charity we are working harder to ensure that every family in need of support in Galway has access to our services. To meet the increased demand for help as more people get and survive cancer we need to raise even more money this year on Daffodil Day,” he said.
Funds raised on Daffodil Day by thousands of volunteers across Ireland go directly to fund the work of the Society across support, prevention, research and advocacy.
Night Nursing is one service funded by Daffodil Day. Last year the Society was able to fulfil 96% of requests for a night nurse.
Three in every four cancer patients wish to die at home surrounded by family – yet only 25% get to do so. The Irish Cancer Society provides the only night time care service for cancer patients in their own homes.
In 2014 the Society’s nurses provided 334 nights of care to 87 patients in Galway and this service is fully funded by the people of Galway who consistently support the work of the Society.
“We won’t give up until every person affected by cancer in Galway has the support they need and we need the support of everyone in Galway to make this possible,” added Mr McCormack.
“We still have some way to go to fully support patients who will die from their cancer. We won’t give up until we reach that future without cancer – and I know the Irish public won’t either,” he said.
Daffodil Day has set an ambitious fundraising target of €3.5 million in order to continue to provide and expand this service and others – and they need public support on Friday, March 27 to achieve that.
Anyone who wishes to volunteer as a collector, organise a Daffodil Day event in the community or workplace or donate directly can do so on CallSave 1850 606060 or by visiting

Is climate change spreading infectious disease?


A recent article by Daniel Brooks and Eric Hoberg concluded that climate change could cause viruses such as the West Nile virus and Ebola to mutate or spread to new places and new hosts, be they animals, plants, or humans.

The article’s key observation is that climate change has been driving these species to look for new habitats, which puts them in contact with parasites that they may not be able to fight because they have never been exposed to them, or because the parasites may have mutated to a new form to adapt to the species or to climate change.
Brooks, who is a zoologist with the Harold W. Manter Laboratory of Parasitology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, argued that we are not doing enough to stop the spread of new infectious diseases. He added that, “We’re not anticipating them. We’re not paying attention to their basic biology, where they might come from and the potential for new pathogens to be introduced.”
Brook’s research focuses primarily on parasites in the tropics. Hoberg, who is a zoologist with the U.S. National Parasite Collection of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, has been focusing his research on parasites in the Arctic regions. They both observed that some of their respective areas’ species have left and that some new species have arrived. In an interview last week, Brooks confirmed that “Even though I was in the tropics and he was in the Arctic, we could see something was happening.”
According to Brooks, it is not uncommon for parasites to move from one host to another; Brooks argues that we have seen such occurrences in the past when hunters in Costa Rica targeted capuchin and spider monkeys until these animals disappeared from the area. These animals’ parasites quickly switched hosts and began to live off howler monkeys. In the Canadian arctic, some lungworms have recently migrated north and left their caribou hosts for muskosen. These and other observation led Brooks to conclude that, “Even though a parasite might have a very specialized relationship with one particular host in one particular place, there are other hosts that may be as susceptible.”
These conclusions challenged an century-old assumption by scientists that parasites do not switch habitat quickly from one species to another.
Referring to Michael Crichton’s Andromeda Stain novel, Brooks said that, “It’s not that there’s going to be one ‘Andromeda Strain’ that will wipe everybody out on the planet. There are going to be a lot of localized outbreaks putting pressure on medical and veterinary health systems. It will be the death of a thousand cuts.”
Even with the speed at which parasites can switch hosts, emerging diseases are still rare because of the way hosts adapt to parasites and vice versa. This is the “parasite paradox” that the article discusses while documenting the zoologists’ concerns that we are likely to see more of these emerging diseases because of the above concerns with regards to climate change.
The article calls for doing a detailed analysis of the world wide distribution of harmful pathogens and the way they are migrating across the planet and across species. This analysis would allow public health professionals to devise strategies for reducing the exposure of humans to high risk areas and animals. Such strategies were employed in the past to keep individuals away from mosquitoes that are known to live in certain areas to protect them against malaria and yellow fever.
Brooks and Hoberg’s paper is titled “Evolution in action: climate change, biodiversity dynamics and emerging infectious disease.” It was published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society’s B issue on “Climate change and vector- borne diseases of humans.”     

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