CSO figures see rise in employment

Credit thejournal.ie

Credit thejournal.ie

CSO figures released today show a rise in employment in Ireland. There was an annual rise of 3.2% in the year until the third quarter of 2013, bringing total employment to 1,899,300.

On a quarterly adjusted basis, numbers in employment rose by 22,500 in this quarter. This also follows on from a seasonally adjusted increase in employment of 13,500 in the second quarter of 2013.

The unemployment rate over the quarter decreased from 13.6% to 12.8%. An unemployment decrease of 41,700 in the year brings the total number of people out of work down to 282,900.

The total number of persons in the labour force in the third quarter of 2013 was 2,182,100. This showed an increase of 16,300 over the year. The number of people not in the labour force in the third quarter of 2013 was 1,410,700, a decrease of 19,000 over the year.

Stephen Kinsella, Lecturer of Economics in the University of Limerick, tweeted the following: “Unambiguously good news for Irish labour market: emp. up 58k in year to 2013:Q3, unemployment down 41.7k”.

According to the Irish Times, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said: “There are still far too many people out of work, and tackling unemployment will remain the Government’s number one priority, but these figures demonstrate that we are making steady progress”.

John Lillis

OPINION – Four things I don’t give a shit about at Christmas

Credit fanpop.com

Credit fanpop.com

Precocious children on the toy show

Why can’t RTE find some nice, well-mannered young fellas who will talk about how they like football and want a Man United jersey for Christmas? Instead we get children like John Joe talking about horology in a manner deserving of a solid slap. The rest of the Toy Show children all blur into one irritating, cheeky, only child-type. It’s a child with “surprising” interests in “kooky” topics, who has learned a few big words and will say something mildly insulting to Tubridy. I blame the parents.

The Coke ad has been on

Every November Facebook and Twitter alight with simpletons telling us “OMG just saw the Coke ad”, or words to that effect.  Even though the ad is run at the same time every year, people still get excited about seeing it. It’s the same thing as getting excited about the clocks going back. If you need a drinks company to tell you when Christmas is coming, you are more than likely a moron.

 “Hilarious” campaigns for the Christmas number one

In Ireland and the UK – countries where protests are generally met with derision from the public – you can always rely on people to get worked up about an X Factor winner taking the Christmas number one. In 2009, Rage against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name” was Christmas number one following an online campaign. A campaign conducted largely by idiots. Of all the things to get worked up about, people decided to “fight the system” by seeing to it that the middle-aged, dreadlocked Zack de la Rocha took the Christmas top-spot. Incidentally, I find white men with dreadlocks considerably more offensive than any X Factor winner.

The wise men and their star

There will be a considerable chunk of people who will agree with me that Christmas is not about consumerism, global corporations’ advertisements or the Christmas number one. They reckon it is about a group of wise men following a star and finding a family in a shed with a baby. It’s a nice story, but they may as well try to tell us Christmas is all about a young boy called Jack who bought some beans at the market that turned out to be magic. Actually, that’s probably a better fairy tale. I mean, Jesus never killed a giant.

 Eoghan McNeill 

Quinn defends abolition of Junior Cert

Credit Wikipedia.com

Credit wikipedia.com

Education minister Ruairí Quinn has once more defended the decision to abolish the current Junior Cert state exam in favour of a new model.

The new model will be focused on internal assessment, and requires teachers to mark papers instead of the exam being externally reviewed.

During a question time in the Daíl, Ruairí Quinn defended the Junior Cycle reform that starts next September by saying that students “Don’t need a state exam, they need progress and moderation” .

Minister Quinn was responding to the results that came in a recent ASTI survey which revealed that 50 schools do not feel equipped enough to roll out reform.

Minister Quinn said “I’m aware of the difficulties faced by teachers, especially in the backdrop of the current public finances… we have started a journey, I take the political responsibility, and where we will travel is open for discussion”. He continued “to have a state exam at 15 has a detrimental effect on a number of people. If changes need to be made, we will make those changes”.

The decision to change the Junior Cycle has come under criticism, especially from the ASTI president Sally Maguire, who said that “every student is entitled to a fair, impartial and transparent state certificate to record their achievement.  A school certificate based on grades awarded by student’s own teachers’ does not have the same status or validity as an independent State Certificate.”

This year’s Junior Cert will be one of the last under the current model which has been in place since 1991.

Gavin Lacey

Enda Kenny opposes possible ESB strike

Credit WikiCommons

Credit WikiCommons

Taoiseach Enda Kenny came out today in opposition to the possible ESB strike that could lead to power cuts over the month of December. He said talk of a possible ESB strike action would “cause unease and concern for people” if the strike would result in power cuts across the country.

The dispute arises over an agreement to address the €1.6 billion deficit in ESB’s pension scheme with Mr. Kenny hoping that unions will meet on Thursday and that they will “engage fully and comprehensively” in the talks with the ESB.

The Taoiseach said that the dispute was not about wage cuts while continuously insisting the ESB pension fund is in good shape.

Fianna Faíl also came out in opposition against the possible strike. A spokesman said that “there is a genuine fear and anxiety” amongst business’ and the most vulnerable people of society.

Speaking to News Anois, Brendan Hennessey of Saint Vincent De Paul warned of the effect that this strike could have on the most vulnerable in society, especially the “elderly people in isolation who rely on electricity for heating and can’t get or carry alternative heating such as coal”. Hennessey also that those who rely solely on electricity might need to turn to “unhealthy alternatives such as fast food” in order to feed their families.

Gavin Lacey

Irish actor Chris O’Dowd to make Broadway debut

Credit Chris O'Dowd official twitter page

Credit Chris O’Dowd’s official twitter page

The play, which will be an adaptation of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, will star O’Dowd as the dim-witted Lennie in the tragic tale of two labourers in 1930s California.

The play will run April through June at the Longacre Theatre in New York, with the opening night on April 16th.

Franco, star of 127 Hours, will play his wiser sidekick George.

It has been almost forty years since the tale appeared on Broadway in 1974.

O’Dowd, who won last night the Comedy Award at the International Emmy Awards, happily tweeted: “We may have won”, accompanied by the above image.

He picked up the award with his fellow Moone Boy writer Nick Vincent Murphy, who O’Dowd said “was the best writer working in the UK.” Reacting to the win, Murphy said: “It’s insane we won this thing.”

In a recent interview with the Irish Independent, O’Dowd admitted that before he got cast in Bridesmaids, he was struggling financially.

“I was just really broke so we got our cable turned off and all that kind of stuff. It was weird. I was more broke than I have ever been in a way, because I was in so much debt. It was really scary.”

Hannah Popham


Should Ireland join Britain in re-evaluating cycling safety?

Credit Paolo Lisarelli

Credit Pier Paolo Lisarelli

650 police officers have been deployed around London in a bid to enforce awareness and cycling safety. Officers have been stationed at various busy areas during rush hour.

The number of officers is set to be raised to 2,500 over the coming weeks and will stay in place until after Christmas. The officers will issue penalty notices to people breaking traffic rules. Helmets and hi-visibility vests are not a legal requirement but officers will be pushing cyclists to use these safety precautions.

The clamp down on cycling safety comes as a result of six deaths over 14 days in London. Each incident involved a lorry, bus or coach.

The incidents in London have caused widespread recognition of the importance of cycling safety and the controversy of mandatory bicycle helmets. A spokesperson for Cycling Ireland said “there is no doubt that wearing a helmet saves lives. However, it is important that the onus of safe cycling is not solely on the cyclist”.

Boris Johnson caused controversy across the cycling world by stating he wants to ban the use of headphones while cycling. This ban would encourage cyclists to become more aware of their surroundings and potentially lessen the amount of cyclists killed on public roads.

Ireland does not currently have laws regarding helmets, hi- visibility wear or headphones while cycling. Dan Martin, an Irish profession cyclist for Team Garmin- Sharpe, said “The blame/claim culture means if you don’t wear one [a helmet], the first thing they will say when you crash is ‘were you wearing a helmet’ but until I was pro I never wore one.” Martin continued by saying the helmet can often create the illusion of invincibility in the cyclist and the real concern should be driver’s awareness.

He stated “it makes people think they are safe if they have their helmet on. When in reality it does very little. It will somewhat protect against fracture and abrasions but concussion they are useless.” Martin is required to use a helmet when racing and acknowledges the issue of headphones while out on busy roads: “I wore headphones once training and it scared the hell out of me. You don’t realise how much you use hearing on a bike”. Cycling Ireland agreed with the movement towards a safer cycling environment for Irish cyclists. A spokesperson for Cycling Ireland concluded by stating that “Increased awareness should lead to fewer incidents, accidents are not caused by not wearing a helmet; they are caused by bad drivers or bad cycling”.

Katelyn Cook

Emergency homeless services already stretched beyond their means

Credit RTE.ie

Credit rte.ie

The Homeless Charity Trust has warned many more homeless people will die over the coming winter months due to a lack of emergency accommodation in the capital.

A man in his forties died overnight in Bray over the weekend while sleeping rough in the town.

The prediction follows the news yesterday that the number of people living rough on the streets of Dublin trebled in the last year.

The homeless action plan, Sustaining the Pathway to Home, is being conducted by Dublin’s four local authorities and will be implemented early next year.

The report states “the demand for access to emergency accommodation and related homeless services in Dublin is deepening”, while affordable and adequate housing remains extremely limited.

The draft also highlights the growing issue of people living on the streets for the first time.

One third of the 2,886 people accessing homeless services in the first six months of the year were using them for the first time.

These figures follow on from last year where over half of the 4,837 people using such emergency services were utilizing them for the first time.

The decision to move away from an emergency accommodation approach to a housing first solution to combat homelessness appears not to have aided the drastic situation.

Last year only 879 people “successfully moved away from homelessness back into independent living”.

Francis Doherty of the Peter McVerry Trust said that these figures would continue to increase as a result of rising rents in Dublin City despite the economic troubles of many Irish people.

In February the Minister of State for Housing Jan O’Sullivan announced the Government’s ambition to eliminate long-term homelessness by 2016.

Despite this, Government expenditure on social housing has been slashed from €1.3 billion in 2008 to €275 million last year, resulting in only 1,500 units being constructed annually for social housing initiatives compared to 8,000 previously.

Alice Leahy of Trust said: “The government is not accepting the fact that there is a need for emergency accommodation”, before declaring Trust cannot accommodate the high demand for places in its already fully occupied premises.

Doherty of the McVerry Trust was more optimistic, praising the new government initiative which allows people in financial trouble to receive rent allowance while working.

The next set of results, acquired two weeks ago, are expected to show another increase in people on the streets.

Ronan Morrissey

Green Letterbox.com provides new means of delivery

Credit Greenletterbox.com

Credit greenletterbox.com

Founded by Nick Keegan and Marcin Jernas in February 2013, Green Letterbox.com is a free online, postal system which is making strides in the Irish mailing industry. It is a service that allows its customers to receive post through a secure, confidential digital post-box.

Customers are asked to register their home address for digital postal mail. Green Letterbox.com then creates a secure connection between their service providers and their digital post-box so that providers can send their customers an electronic version of their document rather than a paper document.

The basic service is free for customers. Green Letterbox.com then makes its profits by charging organisations that send the letters digitally a small fee.

Despite setting up a new service in the midst of a global recession CEO Nick Keegan is pleased with the progress his company has made. “We have had huge growth, phenomenal.” Keegan also confirmed that his business was “on course to reach our targets.”

Keegan highlights the “digital” and “secure” nature of the service as some of the benefits of their service as well as the usefulness for customers who no longer, “have to manage paper.” The company also has an app which allows customers to use the service on their phone.

Furthermore the company emphasises its positive effect on the environment as the traditional mail industry consumes vast amounts of paper and ink every day.

Whilst Keegan is happy with the company’s progress to date he has admitted that there are difficulties in setting up such a service. “It is a difficult market to set up in. Between getting stakeholders on board and getting customers to buy into the service, it’s a balancing act.”

Green Letterbox.com is located at the IDA Business Park, Poppintree, Dublin 11. Further information can also be found on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

John Lillis

Court hears how unemployment led man to deal drugs

Credit Courts.ie

Credit northernsound.ie

A Dublin man was sentenced to 10 years for the possession of 2,500 ecstasy tablets, 58 kilos of cannabis, and 1.25 kilos of cocaine at the Dublin Circuit Court today.

The drugs were seized from his house in Finglas in March 2012, along with €144,000 in cash.

Christopher Seery (34) presented himself in Finglas Garda station the day following the seizure.

Sergeant Shane McCarthy told the court gardai were “convinced” Seery was holding the majority of the drugs and cash for associates.

He said gardai did not want Seery to take responsibility for all the seized drugs. Seery would not say who he was holding the drugs and cash for however, because he “didn’t want to put his kids’ lives in danger.”

A firearm was discharged at Seery’s front door following his release on bail. McCarthy said it was “possible he (Seery) is being held accountable for the loss of the drugs and cash.”

Reluctance to name associates aside, McCarthy said Seery was “candid” during questioning, and cooperated fully with gardai.

He told gardai he had been selling cannabis for approximately one year, and ecstasy and cocaine for approximately for three months.

He became “very emotional” during questioning, and “broke down crying, saying he should have followed his family’s advice.”

McCarthy said Seery had a “good, respectable family background”, and had made “a few bad decisions.”

He has three brothers and five sisters, none of whom are known to the gardai.

The court heard Seery had been employed as a roofer until 2009, when the downturn in the economy contributed to his losing his job. His wife had been employed by a pharmaceutical company until 2010.

Unemployed, he started taking cocaine and mixing with criminals. During questioning, he told gardai he saw an opportunity to make money and began dealing.

In sentencing, Justice Martin Nolan took into account Seery’s guilty plea, his cooperation with gardai, his employment history, and his relationship with his wife and three children.

He noted Seery’s criminal record comprised five offences not related to drug dealing and that the offences had been committed some time ago.

He accepted there were two component parts to the cash and drugs seized: drugs Seery was selling for his own profit, and drugs and cash he was holding for others.

In handing Seery a ten year sentence however, he said he had to consider the amount of drugs seized, Seery’s “deep involvement” with drug dealing, and the “appetite for cash he displayed.”

He said Seery had made a “reprehensible misjudgement.”

Eoghan McNeill

Jewellery shop owner threw chair at gun-wielding thief

Credit P. Lisarelli

Credit Pier Paulo Lisarelli

Greene’s Jewellers on Aungier Street has opened its smashed door again to the public following an armed raid yesterday evening.

Two males entered the premises just after 5.00pm last night and held two staff members at gunpoint before making off with €15,000 to €20,000 worth of gold rings.

Speaking to News Anois, co-owner Karl Ryan said that getting the business back up and running was necessary.

“It’s our livelihood. We have to get reopened.”

To protect his livelihood, Karl Ryan threw a swivel chair at the raider holding a gun on him. “That was my first reaction.”

Admitting that it was an error in judgement, he was forced to comply with the raiders’ demands and allow them to take three displays of jewellery from the shop window.


Credit Pier Paulo Lisarelli

“In the jewellery trade, you’re always aware that [theft] is inevitable.”

This is the first theft the jewellery shop has suffered that involved a firearm. Previous thefts have involved syringes and hammers. “That was maybe thirteen/fourteen years ago,” he said.

As well as the costly loss of the gold rings, the shop also needs to deal with the cost of repairing the damage done to the premises, which could be as high as €2,000.

Security is also on the shop’s list of priorities. “The security that we do have did the job, but we have other devices we can look into.”

As of yet, the gardaí have no leads and are appealing for information from anyone who may have witnessed the incident. They are asked to contact Pearse Street Station 01 666 9000 or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111.

Lauren O’Halleron