Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Health Services report

This report was researched and written by Sara Burke and produced jointly by SIPTU and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. It draws heavily on 'How Ireland Cares - the Case for Health Care Reform' by A. Dale Tussing and Maev-Ann Wren (New Island, 2006), which itself was the result of a study ICTU had commissioned the authors to carry out, in advance of the opening of talks on social partnership in 2006. Where possible, statistics have been updated since the publication of 'How Ireland Cares'.,9822,en.pdf

New group launch No to Lisbon campaign

A campaign has been launched against the Lisbon Treaty by Éire go Brách to defend Irish Sovereignty. Maire ní Fhaoite its Campaign Director has said our group intends to focus on three key areas of the Lisbon Treaty - Economy, Sovereignty and Social Traditions. She said “the Lisbon Treaty seeks to undermine Ireland’s independence, and its dictatorial legislation will be the death knell of Ireland’s prosperity. The Irish political parties that are promoting this Treaty have distorted the facts on how beneficial Europe is to our economy, and how much this treaty will effect Ireland’s exports in the coming future. While Ireland has received over € 50 billion in EU funding, in return we have given the EU over € 260 billion. € 240 billion of this was taken from our fisheries, while a further € 20 billion has been paid to the EU in the form of direct taxes and agricultural levies. The Éire go Brách campaign will also highlight how Ireland will have to pay over € 2.2 billion in annual taxes to the EU, while further hidden taxes in the form of EU Directives, could see Irish taxpayers being forced to pay as much as another 10% of Ireland’s GDP to Europe and its private interests. We have been told that Irish businesses will have to pay a further € 2 billion annually in the form of Carbon taxes. This will seriously undermine Irish competitiveness in the manufacturing sector, and Irish consumers will subsequently have to bear the brunt of these prices when they are passed onto the consumer.Irish ExportsMaire ní Fhaoite has also said the Lisbon Treaty will directly affect Irish exports, making them less competitive. This will discourage foreign investment in Ireland and we are likely to see more companies reallocating to Eastern Europe and countries that border the EU, especially those with low Corporate Tax.Ireland at present has a Corporate Tax rate of 12.5%, whereas Germany and France have 38.6% and 34.5% respectfully. Under the Lisbon Treaty the EU Commission intends to harmonies corporate tax rates under a Directive called CCCTB (Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base). Since 91% of the € 84 billion of Irish exports are carried out by foreign owned companies (mainly from the US), the CCCTB tax proposals will no longer make Ireland an attractive place for foreign investment, and it will seriously affect Irish companies wishing to compete against companies in Eastern European, and places like China where wages are almost a fifth of Ireland’s.We are likely to see more Irish people falling into the poverty trap, and many families will be living on day to day subsidence as Europe floods Ireland with cheap labour and cheap foreign products. Recent statistics show that 17% of Irish families are living below the poverty line. If we don't act now this could rise to 25% or upwards of 40%The Irish Government has neglected home-grown industry, and we are no longer self sufficient in harvesting our own internal wealth. Ireland should be looking towards internal regeneration instead of selling our sovereignty and economic rights to foreign interests.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Most Asylum Seekers come here from UK

OFFICIAL FIGURES indicate that the bulk of those claiming asylum status in the Republic in the past 12 months came here from Britain and arrived across the Border with Northern Ireland.
According to figures supplied by Minister for Justice Brian Lenihan, in response to a parliamentary question from Labour Justice spokesman Pat Rabbitte, more than 90 per cent of asylum seekers were already in this State when they first applied for asylum.
The figures show that 3,844 people sought asylum in the Republic in the 12 months to the end of March. Of that number, 3,248 made their first application for asylum at the Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner on Mount Street in Dublin, and not at their point of entry into the State.
Of this number, only 12 sought asylum at ports, and 304 made their application at airports. A further 244 sought asylum from prison after they were jailed for committing an offence in this State.

Irish consumer sentiment index at all-time low

[QUOTE=]Irish consumer sentiment hit an all-time low in April as concerns over mounting job losses, dimmer prospects for the economy and rising living costs took their toll.
The IIB Bank/ESRI Consumer Sentiment Index, published on Tuesday, fell to 56.0 in April from 63.3 in March and was at its lowest level since the index began 12 years ago. The previous record low was in July 2003 when it hit 60.9.
The reading contrasts with 83.0 posted in April 2007.
"A sharp increase in job loss fears, together with enveloping gloom about Irish economic prospects and surging food and energy costs, meant it was almost inevitable that consumer sentiment would hit a record low in April," said Austin Hughes, Chief Economist at IIB Bank.
Signs Ireland's once booming property market was slowing emerged months before the global credit crisis erupted, with the first monthly fall in Irish house prices in over five years reported a year ago.
Hughes said sentiment had been particularly hit by data showing Ireland's tally of unemployment benefit claimants jumped to its highest level since 1999 in March.[/QUOTE]

Monday, April 28, 2008

Only 5% understand Lisbon Treaty

Research carried out by the Referendum Commission showed that just 5% of voters understand what the Lisbon Treaty is about.
A sample of voters were asked earlier this month how well they understood the Treaty.
62% of respondents said they 'did not understand it all'.
18% said they 'did not understand it particularly well'.
15% said they understood it 'to some extent'.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

EU 'Blue Card' for high-skilled immigrants?

The EU is eager to attract high-skilled immigrants from outside its borders in order to fill its demographic, labour and skills gaps. But experts and politicians warn that the conditions must be right.

In the future, the EU will be facing a number of interlinked challenges, according to official projections:
As a result of demograpic changes, there will be one retired person for every two workers as early as 2050, questioning the sustainability of retirement schemes.
As employment rates rise, it is getting harder to match Europe's growing demand for high-skilled labour with an overall receding supply of specialists, especially in the technology field.
Emerging economies like China and India are training more technicians and engineers than Europe, which may as a result soon assert its position as a worldwide innovation leader.
Countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Switzerland manage to attract the lion's share of the world's specialists willing to migrate, including many people trained in the EU. According to figures presented by Commissioner Frattini in the European Parliament, 85% of unskilled labour migration goes to the EU and 5% to the US, whereas 55% of skilled labour goes to the US and only 5% to the EU. According to figures cited by researcher Heike Pethe , high-skilled workers made up for less than 3% of total immigration to Germany in 2000-2003.

One fifth of foreign children in care 'go missing'

ALMOST one in five foreign children placed in Health Service Executive care go missing and are never found again, shocking new figures reveal.
More than 440 children, most of whom are asylum seekers who arrived in Ireland unaccompanied by any adult relatives, have gone missing from HSE facilities since 2000 and remain unaccounted for.

Of 2,536 foreign children placed in HSE care since 2000, some 441 have gone missing from care and only a very small proportion of them were later found.

Gardai massaging crime statistics for years

A MAJOR independent appraisal of crime has shown a shockingly low level of convictions for the most common forms of crime in Ireland and established that the gardai and the Department of Justice have been massaging crime statistics for years.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) evaluation -- set in train by former Justice Minister Michael McDowell -- shows appallingly low levels of convictions for the most common forms of crime that actually require investigation, like burglary, car theft, theft from the person, criminal damage and arson and which affect most people.

It appears from the CSO figures that the gardai were lumping in high "detection" offences like traffic offences (where there is generally a 100 per cent "detection" rate because a person almost necessarily has to be detected on the spot) and drugs possession, again where a person is usually caught in the act for the crime actually to exist, to make the figures look better.
Senior garda sources have told the Sunday Independent that the key crime areas for evaluating real detection levels are in the burglary, criminal damage and theft categories. The CSO examined reported crimes from 2003 to 2006.
-Out of a total of 99,799 reported or recorded burglaries between 2003 and 2006 there were only 7,985 recorded convictions, or just 8 per cent of cases.
-Car theft, shows an even worse scenario. Out of a total of 53,905 cases over the four years there were just 3,815 convictions -- a conviction rate of 5.1 per cent in 2006.
-The gardai appear to be tackling the crime of theft from the person, where the victim at least is usually able to give a description of the thief, somewhat better. Conviction rates rose from 6.8 per cent in 2003 to 10 per cent in 2006.
-Conviction rates for the offence of criminal damage, however, have almost halved in the same period from 7.9 per cent in 2003 to only 4.4 per cent in 2006. So, vandals stand less than a 1-in-20 chance of being caught and convicted.
The CSO statistics also reveal that the level of murder detection falls over the four years in line with an increase in gangland killings, all but a few of which remain unsolved to this day.
There were 51 murders in 2003 in which 31 led to "relevant proceedings" in court. The conviction rate was 48 per cent in 2004, but this began to fall as the crime-related gangland murders increased in 2005 and 2006 when the conviction rate fell to 21 per cent.
-The figures also show that four out of 10 people charged with drink driving are evading conviction, a reflection of the amount of work being put into the exploitation of legal loopholes.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Govt to make 200 changes to Immigration Bill

THE GOVERNMENT is to make more than 200 of its own amendments to the controversial Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill, The Irish Times has learned.
The amendments, which were drafted after a series of meetings between officials from the Department of Justice and the Office of Integration, include the removal of a requirement for residents from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to seek the Minister for Justice's permission to marry.
Officials have agreed that aspects of the proposed law could damage Ireland's ability to attract and retain skilled migrants, and many of the changes aim to make the immigration regime more attractive to those who are legally resident here.
One change will allow for multiple re-entry visas to be issued to 60,000 resident foreigners who currently have to apply for a re-entry visa each time they leave the State.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Government resorts to trickery to railroad Lisbon Treaty

THE Fianna Fáil/Green/PD Government has been accused by Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald of “scandalous” and “underhand” tactics in the Lisbon Treaty campaign and and doing deals with the EU to con voters ahead of the referendum vote.The MEP made the allegations after a daily newspaper revealed leaked e-mails showing that Irish Government ministers are planning a deliberate disinformation campaign to confuse the public over the implications of the treaty in a desperate effort to ensure that it is passed.According to the Irish Daily Mail, Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern has been “personally assured” that the European Commission will ‘tone down or delay’ any announcement from Brussels ‘that might be unhelpful’ until after people in the 26 Counties vote on the Treaty.According to the Mail, the leaked e-mail even says that ministers ruled out an October referendum (which would have been better procedurally) because they fear ‘unhelpful developments’ during the French presidency – particularly related to EU defence’.This has again raised legitimate fears that Irish neutrality will be fatally undermined if the Lisbon Treaty is passed.

Cost of Asylum Support Services

5. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the + the cost of the asylum direct provision accommodation centres+ [14216/08]
Deputy Brian Lenihan: The Reception and Integration Agency is responsible for the accommodation of ++++

This data bank, with other measures being applied by the Refugee Appeals Tribunal will be of considerable assistance in clearing the current backlog of cases.
The Immigration, Residence and Protection Bill 2008 comprehensively reforms and simplifies the current asylum system through the introduction of a single procedure for the investigation of all grounds, including protection ones, put forward by applicants for protection. The investigation of such an application shall also include whether, not being entitled to protection, an applicant should be otherwise permitted to remain in the State. This reform of the processing framework will lead to the removal of the existing multi-layered and sequential process which considers refugee matters first and then as part of a whole new process, issues associated with leave to remain in the State. It will allow an applicant to receive a final decision on their application in a more timely and efficient manner.
Spending in 2005 broken down as follows:

High Court rejects challenge by Nigerians to stay in Ireland

In what has been described as an important ruling the High Court has rejected six failed Nigerian asylum seekers challenge against the Minister for Justice's decision not to grant them a subsidiary protection order which would allow them to remain in the State.
Today at the High Court Mr Justice Peter Charleton found that the applicants, whose applications to be granted asylum in Ireland were turned down, are not entitled to judicial review of the Minister's decision to refuse them subsidiary protection.

Negotiations on new pay deal get underway today

Negotiations on a new national pay deal are due to get underway at Government Buildings in Dublin later today.The discussions are taking place amid a significant slowdown in Ireland's economic growth, rising unemployment and a major deterioration in the public finances.The Government and employers are insisting that workers must exercise pay restraint in order to protect economic competitiveness.However, trade unions say they will be seeking pay rises above the rate of inflation to help their members cope with the rising cost of living.