Irish Cancer services transfer to be completed by Spring 2009

February 15, 2009


The head of the national cancer control programme, Professor Tom Keane has stated that by late spring 2009, all initial breast cancer diagnosis and treatment will be centralised at eight hospitals in the country.

There were 33 hospitals providing these services just over a year ago.

Prof Keane said that over the coming period services are due to move from Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda, Tallaght Hospital, the South Infirmary in Cork and Sligo General Hospital.

He said that dialogue was continuing with Sligo General, where there is great opposition to the move. Prof Keane stated that he had been extremely sensitive to the need of patients in the changes. He stated that services would not transfer from Sligo until he was satisfied that alternative and excellent services were in place.

Prof Keane and Health Minister Mary Harney met with medical specialists at Sligo ten days ago to discuss the issue. Professor Keane stated that his goal was to get Ireland into the top 10 to 15% of top performing countries in terms of cancer care but this would take many years.



Minister for Finance states that €7 Billion in Capital provided for AIB / BOI is based on Best Available Information

February 12, 2009


Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan said today the assessment that Bank of Ireland and AIB required €7 billion in capital was based on the best information available. He was responding to claims that the sum may be insufficient. A number of observers reacted to the Government’s recapitalisation plan announced last night by suggesting the move may not mark the end of the State’s intervention in the Irish financial sector.

Davy Stockbrokers analyst Scott Rankin said in a research note today that “investors believe that this will not mark the end of Irish government intervention” and that it is highly likely that the state will have to proceed with a ‘bad bank’/insurance scheme in order to fully deal with this problem”.

“So today’s announcement is very welcome and will give comfort to bond investors and liquidity providers alike, but it may not represent the end of the Government’s efforts to win the battle,” Mr Rankin said.

Mr Lenihan said the Government had examined the loan books of Bank of Ireland and AIB before deciding that each required €3.5 billion. “We have looked at where the exposures are. We have applied to those exposures the negative trends which do apply to the economy and we have come to a conclusion in relation to how much capital is required”, he told RTE’s Morning Ireland .

He described the recapitalisation as a “very good solution to a lot of the problems facing those two particular banks, the Bank of Ireland and the AIB” and added it was equally important not to place too much capital into the banks.

The capital would provide a substantial buffer against future losses and would give them the confidence to lend, Mr Lenihan stated, stressing that the money being injected into these banks would not “be used exclusively to simply protect the banks against future losses”.

The Minister added that one of the preconditions of the recapitalisation was that Bank of Ireland and AIB “come clean about their future losses”.

This morning Bank of Ireland reported a 60% increase in its loan loss provisions over the next three years to €6 billion in an interim management statement.

Bank of Ireland said it expected its loan loss impairment charge for the three years to March 31st, 2011, to hit €4.5 billion, up from a previous estimate of €3.8 billion given in November. The bank also stated that the revised forecast had a downside risk of up to €1.5 billion if economic conditions deteriorate further.

Bank of Ireland also said it expected to make an underlying loss in the second half of its financial year, which ends on March 31st 2009, but for the full-year it said it expected to make an underlying profit due to cost savings.

The Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland (CPA) said the banks supported by the plan needed to immediately start ‘real’ lending to business, and to Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) in particular.

Norman J. Adams, CPA president said: “There needs to be clear and decisive action to ensure that money is released and business has immediate access to urgently needed working capital. Freeing up of cash is the single biggest issue facing the economy.”


Government has Nationalised Major Bank’s Debts

October 2, 2008


The Government has announced that the state will safeguard all deposits, bonds and debts in six banks and building societies for 2 years following a share sell-off on Monday.

The legislation to guarantee deposits and debts in Irish banks was debated for over 24 hours in the Dáil and Seanad, and will come into immediate effect.
The €400 billion package covers Allied Irish, Bank of Ireland, Anglo Irish Bank, Irish Life and Permanent, Irish Nationwide Building Society, and the Educational Building Society. British depositors with accounts in their UK branches will be covered, as will savers at the UK’s Post Office whose deposits are run by Bank of Ireland.

The Department of Finance said it was still considering whether the scheme could be extended to subsidiaries of Irish banks in the UK; it was awaiting a ruling by Ireland’s financial regulator.

Opposition leaders warned that if the scheme failed it had the potential to bankrupt Ireland. 

Brussels made it clear yesterday that it was refusing to suspend such rules to meet the crisis Britain, Belgium, France, Germany and other states have all notified Brussels of their bail-outs, with European Commission officials promising urgent and swift decisions.

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has said the Government’s scheme to guarantee the financial security of six Irish-owned banks may be extended to other financial institutions operating in Ireland. Mr Lenihan made the revelation as the Dáil and Seanad continued to debate the proposed legislation into the early hours of Thursday morning.

The Seanad  passed the emergency legislation that gives effect to the €400 billion banks guarantee by 39 votes to 5. On Friday, the Credit Institutions Financial Support Bill was promptly signed into law by President Mary McAleese at Áras an Uachtaráin.

Labour was the only political party to vote against the legislation. The party raised concerns about the level of power being given to the Finance Minister and a need for better regulation of the banking sector. The Finance Minister said possible extensions of the measure would only be approved after serious consideration due to the risk they could pose to the Irish taxpayers. Mr Lenihan told the Seanad that Ireland had no choice but to act on its own this week to protect the six Irish-owned banks.



Ireland is now in recession

September 26, 2008

 New figures that confirmed that the Irish economy is in recession. Central Statistics Office (CSO) data now show that the economy contracted by 0.8% in the second quarter of this year compared with a year earlier.

It is the second successive quarter of negative growth. The technical definition of a recession is two or more successive quarters of negative economic growth.

The CSO said that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measure of output fell by 1% in the first six months compared with a year earlier.

Gross National Product, which excludes profits from multinational companies, fell at an annual rate of 2.1% in the second quarter.

A breakdown showed that capital spending in the period was down almost 19% on the same period last year, hit by the slump in house building as well as lower spending on machinery and equipment.

Consumer spending fell by 1.4%, while total industrial production dropped by 1%. Within this, construction was down by more than 12%.


Shell “Armada” arrives on Mayo Beach

September 14, 2008

The largest pipelaying vessel in the world, the 1,300 ft Solitaire has arrived in Broadhaven Bay, in Co. Mayo.

Shell has employed a “small army” of private security men, backed up by gardai, to protect the landfall area.

The Dutch-owned Solitaire can lay between four and seven km of pipeline a day and normally carries a crew of around 400. Over the coming months, it is due to lay the pipe from the landfall site at Gelngar, 83km out to the Corrib Gas field. Shell’s External Affairs Manager John Egan said 22 vessels will be involved in the Corrib project: “You could describe it as the Corrib armada.” Protestors claim Shell is attempting to construct the first 200m of the 9.2km onshore section of the pipeline before An Bord Pleanala makes its decision on the onshore section.


Thursday, July 24th: Over 40 gardaí, stationed in the Shell compound, and 70 Shell specialist security forced the local community from a section of Glengad beach so that Shell could erect 10ft high fencing about 40ft down onto the beach. Using the Public Order Act, Gardai ordered the crowd to leave the area and then forcibly removed some of the protestors from the area. Members of the local community had been gathering from before 4am because they feared that Shell would begin work early as they had on the previous morning when they tore down the cliff-face to create a causeway down to the beach. According to protestors, it was a joint Garda & Shell operation.

Gardai and Shell security formed a cordon around where they were planning to put up the fencing, and then Gardai came in and forcibly removed the protestors who were inside the security bubble. There was little that the group of around 30 protestors could do but watch as the fencing was erected down to the water’s edge. It is presumed that Shell will seek to extend the fencing further once the tide has gone out again. However far it extends, it already cuts the public beach in two, which of course means that users do not have the right of way through the beach.

The legality of the consents are an issue of major concern as it is unclear what permissions Shell have received and for what exact work. Green Party Minister for Energy Eamon Ryan has claimed that it was an “oversight” that the latest authorisations for the project were not published. A spokeswoman said that all authorisations and new information relating to the department’s role would be published on the Department’s website.

Shell is now attempting to construct up to the first 200m metres of the onshore section of the pipeline without planning permission. Although the remaining 9.2km of the onshore pipeline is presently before An Bord Pleanala, this first 200m metres is due to be laid before a decision on the rest of the onshore section has been made. The further destruction of this Special Area of Conservation has continued unabated under the eyes of the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

16th August 2008The Rossport Solidarity Camp was set up again for the purposes of reorganising Shell to Sea resistance to Shell’s latest plans to construct its offshore section of the pipeline from Glengad out to the Corrib Gas Field. Protests are ongoing, involving both Shell to Sea activists and members of the local community.

29th August: An Irish naval vessel was deployed as protests mounted over the controversial Shell gas pipeline. The Irish Defence Forces said the LE Orla, with 39 crew onboard, was requested by gardaí as back-up at Broadhaven Bay, Co Mayo.

A spokesman for the naval service said he could not recall any of its ships ever being directly involved in an operation against civil demonstrations.

2nd September: Another Irish Naval Service vessel arrived off the Mayo Coast. The Irish Naval Service is composed of seven vessels. The priority which is being given to this operation is an indication its political character.

Tuesday September 9th: The Solitaire arrived in Broadhaven Bay, as the accompanying security operation intensified. Extra Gardaí; including special public order units have arrived. Local schoolteacher Maura Harrington has gone on hunger strike at the gates of the compound. Her demand is that the Solitaire leave the bay or else her hunger strike will continue.

Wednesday September 10th: Pipelaying work is temporarily suspended. According to local newspaper, The Mayo Echo, unnamed Irish Naval sources have stated their concern that a British nuclear submarine is positioned 11 miles off the Mayo coast and is providing direct assistance to the Irish authorities in monitoring communications. So far the Irish Government has refused either to confirm or deny this report. A Royal Navy spokesman, while refusing to confirm or deny the report, stated that if there is a submarine in Irish waters “then it wouldn’t be there without the permission of the Irish authorities.”


Thursday September 18th: Shell announces that the Solitaire pipe laying ship is to depart from Irish territorial waters and go to Sctoland for repair and assessment. 


Friday September 19thMaura Harrington ends her hunger strike.  



EU Defence Plans will advance the moment Lisbon is ratified

June 10, 2008

Irish Government asked for discretion on new French plans for European defence.

A “confidential” of the Barber dated from May 21st states that “the white book on defence and security, which defines the big strategical orientations of France for next fifteen years, will not be made public before June 12th”.

The plan of the White Book the parliamentarians in France can consult the copy, is classified in effect ”confidential defence “.

According to The Barber, the postponement of its public presentation has as object to avoid scaring the Irish, very tied to their neutrality, in some weeks of referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon: ” It will be ready before this date, but the Irish government, which organizes a referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon that day, asked in Paris to remain discreet. Dublin fears that the parties of the white book dedicated to the strengthening of Europe of defence nourish an antiEuropean vote and cause to fail referendum “.

It is the third time, after the reform of the European budget deferred in September and that of a report in the European Parliament on the implementation of the Treaty of Lisbon, deferred also to June, that it has been decided to be put back after the 12th June Irish referendum, “a subject which would risk awakening the attention of the only people called to pronounce on the European treaty.”

This appears to be main outcome of a confidential briefing by Daniel Mulhall, Director-General on the EU at the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs to a British diplomat Elizabeth Green.

The timing of the Irish vote (presumably mirroring a similar, though parliamentary, timetable in the UK) has been pushed forward to June 12 to avoid any inconvenient discussion over the implementation of the Treaty when France takes on the EU’s rotating presidency later this year.

“Mulhall said a date in October would have been easier from a procedural point of view. But the risk of unhelpful developments during the French Presidency – particularly related to defence – were just too great. Sarkozy was completely unpredictable,”  wrote Green.

The French will this autumn bring forward Treaty plans for increased European defence cooperation. Probably involving Germany, France, Britain, Spain, Poland and Italy (possibly with Hungary and Lithuania too), the new structured “European army” will be organised around euro-style convergence criteria such as defence spending. This is a dynamite issue in neutral Ireland, earlier moves to EU military cooperation in the Nice Treaty were blamed for a Irish referendum defeat in June 2001.

The memorandum notes (something that everyone just “knows” in Brussels), that the European Commission, and other EU institutions have a moratorium on new proposals that could spark debate – and we don’t want that, do we? Plans for an health services directive, harmonisation of corporate tax calculations, the EU’s COSI interior security committee, a job description for the new President and much, much more are all on hold – until after the summer, and ratification, are finished.

The memo is also littered (according to the extracts) with contemptuous references to the capacity of Irish people to decide on an EU Treaty that is largely incomprehensible to the lay reader”. “Most people would not have the time to study the text,” it concludes at one point.

During the French referendum, copies of the EU Constitution, a weighty and deeply dull document, became best-sellers as voters rushed to read it. Valéry Giscard D’Estaing, the Constitution’s architect, actually blamed Jacques Chirac, French President of the day, for encouraging people to pick it up. The discovery of this document was felt by many voters to be an aggression and a threat. It consolidated the negative attitude that the Constitution was too ‘complicated’, that reading it was reserved to specialists,” he wrote in Le Monde two weeks after the No vote.


(With Thanks to):……

Rath Lugh Monument under increased threat as protesters moved on

April 17, 2008

The Protest Camp based at Rath Lugh has now been evicted. At one o’ clock, four Protectors who were on site were told by Gardai that they had to gather up their belongings and leave. This was not done in an aggressive manner and was complied with by the protesters.

Once the protesters had left Rath Lugh woods no protester was allowed back in. According to the Direct Action Group, there were 20 Gardai, 3 Garda Cars present, plus 2 Vans as well as a dozen Construction Workers at the entrance to the woods. A steel fence has now been erected separating Rath Lugh National Monument from the public road. A mini digger is busy creating a path and a low loader is in situ. Read the rest of this entry »