Human’s responsible for first mammal extinction

Bramble Cay melomys are the first mammal to official go extinct as a result of man-made climate change.

The small brown rodent, native to an island near Papua New Guinea, was owas transferred from the Endangered Category to the Extinct Category by the Australian government this week.

“We have consistently called on [Prime Minister] Scott Morrison and Melissa Price to show leadership on climate change, instead of burying their heads in the sand,” said Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch to The Sydney Morning Herald.

“How many more species do we have to lose for federal government to take action,” she continued

Countries are beginning to document the effects climate change on the eco system in the media more frequently.

Figures from the National Biodiversity Data Centre were widely published this week with the extreme decline in bees and butterflies being one of the most important statistics to come from the report.

The scientific review stated this signalled the “collapse of nature’s ecosystems.”

The review reported that 40 per cent of insect species are declining and a third are endangered.

By Cáit Caden

Measles outbreak following decline in MMR vaccines

A measles outbreak in Co. Donegal has continued, with seven cases of the disease now confirmed by the HSE.

The outbreak began two weeks ago and the HSE advises anyone who suspects they may have measles to call their GP to inform them, rather than going to the surgery.

The number of people receiving the MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccine in Donegal has been dropping slightly over the past few years.

The HSE states that as soon as vaccination rates fall, old diseases then re-emerge, which is why there has been outbreaks of measles occurring in Ireland and Europe.

Dr. Anthony Breslin, a Specialist in Communicable Diseases and Environmental Health, explained the two ways in which the MMR vaccine works.

“Vaccines work in two ways. The first is by directly protecting the person who receives the vaccine.  The Measles part of the MMR is 95% effective.

“The second way in which the MMR works is through herd immunity. This means that if we have 95% of the population vaccinated then the virus cannot infect people and there is no virus circulation.

“Herd immunity is important because some people cannot get the vaccine for health reasons and some people who do get the vaccine may have a poor response to the vaccine. Therefore, both of these groups are susceptible to infection from the virus,” Breslin said. 

“This means that there is no herd immunity and if the measles virus gets into a population or community those who are not immunised, who cannot be immunised or who have a poor response to vaccination will become infected”.

Measles is very infectious and is an illness which can have serious complication, particularly in infants under 12 months and people with weakened immune systems.

The disease is transmitted through direct contact with an infected person or through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

Symptoms can include a rash, along with cough, runny nose, conjunctivitis and high fever. The rash usually starts four days after other symptoms.

There has also been a large rise in the outbreak of mumps at the beginning of 2019. In the first six weeks of the year, 278 mumps cases were notified in comparison to 43 for the same time period in 2018. There were 576 cases in all of 2018, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.

Gerard Grimes

Image Credit: istock

Crowd protests limbo of climate Bill

A vigil in favour of passing a climate Bill to effectively ban oil and gas exploration in the Republic was held on Tuesday outside Leinster House.

The Climate Emergency Measures Bill is in the Third Stage of the Dáil and is being examined by a joint committee currently tied six in favour and six against progression of the Bill. Afinal decision is expected by Tuesday evening.

“This would send a very strong message to the fossil fuel industry that it’s no longer acceptable to keep extracting oil and gas from the planet and expect the issue of the overheating of the planet to resolve itself,” said People Before Profit TD Bríd Smith at the vigil.

Smith first proposed the Bill alongside other TDs in January 2018. She said it is an attempt to convey the message that “climate action is needed now, not in five years or ten years”. Roughly 50 people attended the vigil.

Minister of State for Natural Resources and Rural Affairs and Independent TD Seán Canney has opposed the Bill in the past, saying it would not reduce the country’s use of oil or gas.

“What the Bill is proposing wouldn’t do anything for climate change,” said Canney.

“The licenses which we have given out already could cost the state a huge amount of money,” the Minister added. “If we stop them, we could be open to litigation.”

When asked about the reason for opposition to the Bill, Smith said that she knows it is a result of lobbying from the oil industry.

“I am extremely frustrated with it,” she said. “This is our third attempt to get it out of an administrative limbo and back breathing life into it.”

“We will not change the climate if we don’t change the system,” Smith said.

The TD’s speech at the vigil was followed by poetry and a rendition of The Times They Are A Changin’ by Bob Dylan.

Claire Brennan a People Before Profit activist attended the vigil in support of the Bill.

“It’s such a critical time for climate change and we really can’t be sitting back on the issue,” said Brennan.

The Bill says that a new licence, lease or undertaking for exploration will not be granted if the monthly mean level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is below 350 parts per million at a station in Hawaii.

The reading for January 2019 was 411 ppm. The Bill would effectively ban oil and gas mining off the coast of the Republic of Ireland.

Orla Dwyer

Image credit: Orla Dwyer

RTÉ Documentary sheds light on cyclist problems in this country

A new TV series called “Now You See Me” aired its first episode last night on RTÉ One. The show aims to highlight problems that cyclists and all roads users face in Ireland.

Presented by Simon Delaney and Blaithnaid Treacy, the show follows the stories of cyclists across Ireland. It wants to highlight both the negative and positive aspects of the services and infrastructure available to cyclists.

While the show follows the cyclists stories, it aims to show that improvements and changes in attitude are needed across the board when it comes to the safety of all road users. The show highlighted in the first episode that possible enforcement of legislation is needed in order to make the roads safer.

‘Now You See Me’ has sparked an online conversation on Twitter, with many praising it but also some saying they hope to see more balance in later episodes of the series. “Hearing people talk about enforcing legislation is refreshing. Great first episode #NYSM” said user Allison Phillips on Twitter last night.

“The majority of cyclists have cars. Being a cyclist isn’t a fixed identity and doesn’t stop them from being a driver too. It is a myth to say there’s a disconnect because they often do both. Driving is the taken mode of transport and by separating them, we are creating this polarisation of cyclists because they’re in the minority mode of transport.” said Robert Patrick, who is completing a Doctorate on the ‘Psychology Of Cycling’ in DCU.

The show also compared Irelands cycling habits and infrastructure with Copenhagen’s. Copenhagen is seen as one of the leading cities in the world when it comes to providing infrastructure for cyclists, with a huge number of people commuting as a result.

Alison Clair

Image Credit:

Green Party calls for tougher regulation of tech giants.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has called on Ireland “to set the EU standards” when it comes to dealing with Facebook’s dishonesty.

His comments come following an 18-month Westminster report that was released a couple of days ago. In the report, Facebook was found to have been breaching data privacy and competition laws.

With Facebook’s European headquarters based in Dublin, Ryan believes Ireland needs to take a stance against the tech giant.

“Facebook employ 7000 people here but we should not be afraid to stand up against them. Ireland cannot take them on alone, but we must set high standards of what is acceptable, we have a key role,” he said.

Facebook have been instructed by Canadian, US and Irish authorities to improve the protection of users’ private data on their platform stretching back to 2009, but have failed to comply on any of the three occasions.

Ryan believes “it’s three strikes and you’re out,” and thinks that the way forward is to “give full ownership of the data to the consumer” rather than to the platform itself.

He also pointed out that it’s “hard dealing with them, as they find it really hard to control their own platform”.

Ryan’s biggest fear is that Facebook’s capture of Instagram and WhatsApp has now made them have “monopoly control”.

The Westminster report which was carried out by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee and chaired by Damian Collins MP found three key threats to society with regard to social media platforms actions.

The main one is the threat to democracy as a whole according to Collins.

“Democracy is at risk from the malicious and relentless targeting of citizens with disinformation and personalised ‘dark adverts’ from unidentifiable sources, delivered through the major social media platforms we use every day,” said Collins.

“Companies like Facebook exercise massive market power which enables them to make money by bullying the smaller technology companies and developers who rely on this platform to reach their customers,” he added.

Twitter is to expand its policy on ad regulations covering the upcoming European Parliament elections.

Joshua Freeman

Image Credit: Brian Lawlor/PA Wire

‘Ruff’ time for Irish dogs after the Christmas season

Dogs Trust Ireland receive over 300 requests for placing dogs up for adoption.

Dogs Trust Ireland said they received 370 requests from people who want to give their new dogs to the rehoming centre.

From December 26th to January 31st the animal charity received 317 calls and 53 emails to the rehoming centre.

On average, the group confirmed they received ten calls a day. The most common reason people had for wanting to give up their dogs, was that they don’t have the time to look after them.

Located in Finglas, the rehoming centre opened in November 2009 and is the only Dogs Trust centre in Ireland. With ISPCA amd DSPCA being the other two main dog rescue charities in Ireland, there are currently not enough facilities to house the unwanted dogs.

Dogs Trust’s famous phrase “A dog is for life not just for christmas’’, was coined 40 years ago, but the message is still as relevant today with the number of dogs that are abandoned or surrendered during the period just after Christmas.

The animal charity described the number of post-Christmas requests to give up unwanted dogs from members of the Irish public as “alarming”. Managing directors  at the centre said that they were ‘’dismayed’’ that so many people still buy pets on a whim and are prepared to discard them once the novelty wears off.

Currently there are 63 dogs in the Finglas rehoming centre who are at full capacity. There are 13 dogs who are new into the centre and 26 who have been reserved by people wanting to adopt them.

Executive Director of Dogs Trust, Suzie Carley, said “It is extremely worrying that we continue to see a large number of dogs and puppies being surrendered or abandoned after Christmas.”

Rachel Halpin

Image Credit: companionanimalpsychology

Louth to introduce abortion exclusion zones

Louth is set to become the first county to have exclusion zones to deter anti-abortion activists from gathering outside hospitals and clinics where abortions are being carried out.

The motion passed by Louth County Council states that protesters would “exclude any form of prohibited behaviour within a 500-meter area from the outer edge of the healthcare facility”.

Drogheda’s Lady of Lourdes Hospital has twice this year seen anti-abortion campaigners protest outside the hospital.

A Facebook page, Pro-Life Ireland, claimed on social media that there was abortions set to take place in the hospital the night before the protest.

“The first abortion in our Lady of Lourdes hospital is scheduled for first thing tomorrow morning Monday 7th. The priests in Drogheda have asked for prayers that the woman will have a change of heart overnight and not go through with the procedure. Please spread the word.”

The protest group then gathered outside the main entrance to the hospital, holding placards which read “Abortion is murder”, “Let him be born”. “Let her be born”or “Killing in progress”.

These protests are why Fianna Fail Cllr. Emma Coffey has decided to put forward the motion, which she is hopeful will be brought before the council and passed before the end of the year.

“The lack of national legislation for safe zones outside hospitals and GP health centres, the fact that there has been protests outside our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda and other medical centres in the country,” she said.

“I am a solicitor by profession and I kept asking myself the question what can Louth County Council do to protect women and their families from this harassment in our county. Hence why I proposed by-laws under s.199 of the Local Government Act 2001.”

“I would be hopeful that the bye law will be brought before the council for passing in about 8 months,” Coffey continued.

An Garda Síochána stated they were not in a position to comment on proposed or pending legislation when questioned if there would be in any issues in regards to how the exclusion zones would be enforced.

Gerard Grimes

Image Credit:

Family give emotional statements about missing person Jón Jonsson

Fiancé of missing person Jón Jonsson spoke about of how he is a good man and is “like a father” to her two children.

Jonsson who disappeared on February 9th at 11am, is originally from Iceland and was on holiday in Ireland with his fiancé Jana Guðjónsdóttir when he went missing the day after he arrived.

“This is really out of character,” said Jón’s sister Anna who added that “people would expect me to disappear not him.”

He is 41 years old, 6 ft with short brown hair and was wearing a black padded jacket while walking in the Whitehall where he “was last seen on camera at the hospitals” in the nearby area, according to Jana.

He is known as a loving father to two girls aged 14 and 16 and was waiting to get his license to become a taxi driver.

His family arrived in Ireland on February 12th and have set up the gmail account  where people can contact them and help with the search. Around half a dozen volunteers from Dublin have contacted the family to help with the search and are handing out Missing Person fliers.

Jón’s other sister, Thorunn, posted an emotional statement on Facebook describing Jón after she received messages from many people stating that the public needed to know more about her brother.

When I graduated from college he bought me my graduation dress because I couldn’t afford one,” she said.

“The police have been looking for him, but they have so little evidence,” said Jana who stated that “dogs, a helicopter and CCTV footage” have been used by the Gardai to try and find Jonsson who has been missing for just over a week.

Gardai confirmed there are no further updates on the search.

The 12 at 12

Image Credit: HorsesShoesResort
  1. #BORDER WALL 16 US states, including California, New York, and Nevada, to sue Trump administration over declaration of national emergency to fund Mexico border wall. Trump announced the national emergency to bypass the congress who only approved a quarter of the money he wanted to build the wall which was $5.6 billion.
  2. #NO CONFIDENCE VOTE Health committee chair, Independent Clare TD Michael Harty, to vote against Simon Harris in no-confidence motion. Sinn Féin put forward a no-confidence motion in response to the controversy that has arisen from the increasing costs of the construction of the National Children’s Hospital.
  3. #BAYSIDE SKYRIDE RESCUE 16 rescued after becoming trapped on SeaWorld ride in San Diego, California for approximately 5 hours. The rescued were lowered by harnesses and brought back to shore by lifeguard boats, where they were checked over by medical crews.
  4. #HONDA PLANT CLOSURE Honda CEO says decision to end production in UK not Brexit related . The factory, which produces 150,000 a year, is set to close in 2021 and there will be a loss of 3,500 jobs. The closure is based on global changes.
  5. #SEXUAL ASSAULT CASE Sinn Fein TD, Aengus O’Snodaigh’s son Ferghal who was accused of assaulting Garda Niall Carolan at Ballymun Garda Station on February 8 last year has had his case adjourned.
  6. #BOBBY RYAN TRIAL The tank containing the remains of Bobby Ryan was opened weeks before discovery of body, insect expert tells murder trial. The body was found in an underground run-off tank on April 30 2013, the tank was sealed by twp concrete slabs
  7. #ABORTION An anti-abortion activist, Eamonn Murphy, launches new website that is not covered by an injunction secured against him for a separate site, which was similar to the official HSE crisis pregnancy service offering. The injunction was sought by the health service last week as they argued Murphy’s site were convincing women to not get abortions.
  8. #CHILDRENS HOSPITAl The cost overrun on the national children’s hospital would have happened regardless of contractor chosen, says confidential report into the price-setting process. The report was carried out last autumn by the HSE at the request of the Department of Health. The hospital will cost approximately €1.43 billion.
  9. #PADDY LYONS MURDER Murder accused, Ross Outram, told Gardaí he repeatedly struck Paddy Lyons (90) in self defence. The incident happened between February 23rd and 26th 2017. the trial went underway on Monday afternoon and is expected to last two weeks.
  10. #BREXIT  According to Brexit minister Martin Callanan, Britain will not take part in the elections to the European Parliament in May following its departure from the EU on March 29th.
  11. #BERNIE SANDERS Vermont senator Bernie Sanders has announced his big for the Democratic nomination for the US presidency in 2020. This is the senators second run for the presidency, he was kicked out of the 2016 race by Hillary Clinton.
  12. #ANTI SEMITIC 80 graves have been vandalised at a Jewish cemetery in eastern France. Swastikas and anti-semitic tags were found on the gravestones. This incident happened on Tuesday the same day of nationwide marches against the rise of anti-Semitic attacks..

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