News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)

October 20, 2004

News 10/20/04 - Dublin May Axe 100 Yr Old 1916 Trees

News about Ireland & the Irish


GU 10/20/04 Dublin May Trade Its History For A Modern View

SM 10/20/04 Irish Officials Trying To Contact Kidnappers –V

SF 10/19/04 No Evidence That The DUP Are For Power Sharing

BT 10/20/04 We Won't Be Pushed: DUP

BT 10/19/04 Orange Parades 'About Bigotry'

SF 10/19/04 SF Welcomes Call For Inquiry Into Conditions In Prison

IT 10/20/04 Government Urged Not To Release IRA Men

BB 10/20/04 Integrated Schools 'In Demand'

BT 10/20/04 Ban On Smoking In Public Places Urged

IT 10/20/04 Plan To Have Fewer Armed Gardai

BT 10/20/04 Stray Dog Problem Is Serious: Sinn Fein

IT 10/20/04 Dublin Is Dirty, Dear, Dangerous, EU Survey Told

IT 10/20/04 Whale Sightings Off Mayo 'Very Significant'


QA 10/19/04 Does The Panel Agree With The Minister For Foreign -VO

QA 10/19/04 How Would The Panel Vote In The US Election? -VO


RTE Q&A Show: Does The Panel Agree With The Minister For Foreign

Affairs, Dermot Ahern, that it is only a matter of time before Sinn

Féin is part of a coalition?


RTE Q&A Show: How Would The Panel Like To Vote In The US Election?




Dublin May Trade Roots Of Its History For A Modern View


Plane trees that survived Easter rising may be cut down as city

tries to create a cafe culture plaza


Angelique Chrisafis, Ireland correspondent

Wednesday October 20, 2004

The Guardian


They survived the two most traumatic events in modern Irish

history, the bloodbath of the 1916 Easter rising and the civil war

that followed, and watched Ireland change from an economic basket

case into one of the wealthiest countries in Europe.


But an avenue of ancient trees lining Dublin's central boulevard,

whose bullet holes and shell scars are a source of national pride,

are facing the axe in what some call an act of official



In a controversy that has pitted the old Ireland against the new,

an alliance of academics, artists and politicians is fighting to

save the 100-year-old trees, which are to be swept aside to improve

the view of Dublin's Spire - a towering silver needle shortlisted

for this year's Stirling prize for architecture.


A row is growing in Dublin over the landscaping around the 120-

metre spire. Known affectionately by Dubliners as the "Stiletto in

the Ghetto" or the "Stiffy near the Liffey", the €4m (£2.8m) giant

pin was completed last year to replace Nelson's Pillar, bombed by

the IRA in 1966.


O'Connell Street had fallen into shambolic decay in the 1970s and

until the €300m redevelopment which began during the economic boom

of the late 1990s, it was a tatty collection of fast-food shops and

bargain basements.


Already, more than 50 historic London plane trees in O'Connell

Street, which witnessed the beginning of the new state, have been

felled to make way for the spire and the city's new tram system and

to create a "cafe culture" plaza in front of the bullet-scarred

General Post Office - scene of the 1916 rising, which left 500 dead

and ravaged 100 buildings.


But despite a motion by Dublin city council to protect the

remaining 10 trees, developers plan to axe them, saying they do not

fit plans to transform O'Connell Street into a European boulevard

to rival the best of Paris and Barcelona.


The outrage deepened when plans were made to bulldoze a house in

nearby Moore Street dubbed "Ireland's Alamo", where the 1916 rebels

made their last stand and decided to surrender in what was then the

back room of a fish shop. It was to be destroyed to make way for a

shopping centre.


Christy Burke, a Sinn Féin councillor in Dublin, led the campaign

which secured a reprieve for the Moore Street house last week. He

said he would fight for the trees.


"They are part of our history," he said. "Some people couldn't give

two tosses about Irish history, particularly 1916. But 1916 has

been hidden long enough - it is time to put it out in the open. We

should be proud of it."


Ciarán Cuffe, a Green party MP and former architect and town

planner, said that destroying trees which were "witnesses to

history" would be "a crying shame". Michael Conaghan, the Dublin

mayor, said piles of letters of complaint had arrived on his desk

every day and he would fight to get the old trees incorporated into

the new design of the street.


Imogen Stuart, a sculptor, who sent an angry letter to the Irish

Times, said: "These trees are monuments, living witnesses to the

liberation of Ireland. How can we destroy them?"


A spokesman for the O'Connell Street Project said public

consultation over the trees had just ended and a report would be

considered next month before the city manager made a final

decision. About 160 replacement trees would be planted.


He said the felling of the mature trees was regrettable. "But from

an architectural point of view, it was felt their height didn't

lend itself to the design of the street in terms of symmetry."




See video at


Irish Officials Trying To Contact Aid Chief's Kidnappers -V


By Senan Hogan and Louise Hogan, PA News


The Irish government is leaving no stone unturned in its attempts

to free aid director Margaret Hassan from her captors in Iraq, the

country's parliament was told today.


Irish Premier Bertie Ahern said the abduction of the Dublin-born

CARE International chief in Iraq was a "terrible deed" to inflict

on her family.


He agreed to a request from main Opposition leader Fine Gael leader

Enda Kenny to debate the issue in the Dail today to enable members

of the House to express their sympathy to Mrs Hassan's family and

to appeal for her release.


Mr Ahern said government officials were working hard behind the

scenes to determine which group was involved and to establish

contact with them.


"All communication links are being used. Efforts went on late into

the night last night by our Foreign Affairs people and Minister

Jack Straw in the UK," he said.


"It's a terrible deed to hit her family firstly and secondly to hit

the Care International organisation."


Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern was expected to discuss

the issue with Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy when they

meet at Iveagh House, Dublin later.


In emphasising her Irish links and her long record of selfless

humanitarian work for CARE International, he said: "For our part,

everything will be done to assist the situation."


Earlier, in calling for a short debate on the kidnap situation, Mr

Kenny said: "This is a matter not to divide the house but is a

matter of unity."


Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte and Sinn Fein's Caoimhghin

O'Caolain supported the request for a debate and extended their

support to Mrs Hassan's family and friends.


Mrs Hassan, who is in her early 60s, heads CARE International's

operations in Iraq and the humanitarian organisation has suspended

operations in country.


She was seized on her way to work in western Baghdad after gunmen

blocked her route and dragged the driver and a companion from the

car, her husband said.


Former Fianna Fail MEP Niall Andrews, who met Mrs Hassan on several

occasions, compared her to Mother Theresa.


"I knew the work she did and she was quite an extraordinary woman,"

he said.


"She was the next thing to Mother Theresa. She was apolitical in

the sense that she didn't get involved in politics under Saddam

Hussain and equally she didn't go on about the sanctions. She just

went about her work.


"She is an Iraqi in that she has lived there for 30 years and is

married to an Iraqi. She was born in Dublin to Irish parents, and

her family name is Fitzsimons."


Mr Andrews also told of one time he had worked with Mrs Hassan

before the war when they provided medicine for suffering Iraqis.


"We flew a plane into the no-fly zone, we had medicines on board,"

he said.


"We gave them to her and she was really glad to have them.


"She would have had an Iraqi passport, as you had to have one under

Saddam Hussain and she had been there for 30 years," he added.


Mrs Hassan's father died two months ago in England.


Her husband, Tahseen Ali Hassan, is a retired economist.


Her sister, Geraldine Riney, lives in Kenmare, Kerry, while other

siblings were born in England, where the family moved when Mrs

Hassan was a child.


The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs has advised all of Mrs

Hassan's relatives not to comment to the media.




No Evidence That The DUP Are For Power Sharing


Published: 19 October, 2004


Speaking today from Dublin Sinn Féin Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin



"The two governments are not simply facilitators or commentators on

this process. They both have a crucial role to play particularly in

honouring their outstanding commitments, if we are to achieve

agreement on a comprehensive package.


"Four weeks ago there was progress made at Leeds Castle. However it

is crucial that this work is brought to a speedy conclusion.

Republicans want to see a deal done. We want to see the political

institutions back up and running and the outstanding elements of

the Good Friday Agreement implemented.


"However the safeguards and protections in the Good Friday

Agreement cannot be diluted. There has to be democratic

accountability in policing.


"Both governments have declared their belief that the DUP is for

power sharing. There is no evidence thus far to support this and it

flies in the face of the DUP attitude in local councils where they

have majority control." ENDS




We Won't Be Pushed: DUP


Bickering continues as Ministers meet in Dublin


By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent

20 October 2004


The DUP warned it would not be panicked or pushed into accepting

other agendas as the British and Irish Governments met again today

to debate devolution hopes.


Amid continuing speculation over a Government paper to close the

gap on remaining issues, Secretary of State Paul Murphy and the

Republic's Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern met in Dublin.


Their working lunch was expected to assess whether a new document

could assist the DUP and Sinn Fein to move towards accommodation -

or exacerbate current difficulties.


The meeting came after Mr Ahern said he hoped for an improvement in

the political situation but that it could not be guaranteed.


Senior DUP Assembly member Sammy Wilson said: "We are committed to

getting the right deal whenever it is on offer. We'll not be taking

anything less and we certainly won't be panicked or pushed into

accepting someone else's agenda."


The East Antrim Assembly member said it mattered little to his

party whether the UUP take up an opposition role, leaving the DUP

in an Executive with Sinn Fein.


"Their refusal to enter an administration will give more

Ministerial positions to the DUP and if they are as ineffective in

opposition as they were in negotiations and government, our

Ministers are unlikely to fear being scrutinised by clueless Ulster

Unionists," he said.


Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin said he could see no evidence of the

Governments' insistence that the DUP is prepared to enter power-

sharing arrangements.


"It flies in the face of the DUP attitude in local councils where

they have majority control," he said.


As senior SDLP negotiator Sean Farren said the DUP must support

partnership politics, Alliance leader David Ford accused the SDLP

of being prepared to sit on its hands.


"Yes, the DUP have a poor record in local government. On previous

form, people are right to be wary of what they may do in

government. Surely, the logic is to try to put in place as many

safeguards as possible."


The SDLP's Alban Maginness said Alliance was becoming the "tail

end" of the DUP.




Orange Parades 'About Bigotry'


By Noel McAdam, Political Correspondent

19 October 2004


An SDLP Assembly member has branded claims that the majority of

Orange marches threaten no-one as 'complete nonsense'.


Tommy Gallagher told a a special event held to discuss Orangeism

that nationalists viewed most marches as linked to bigotry and



The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA said the Orange Order must

engage with nationalists and others to ascertain their feelings.


His comments came at an event organised by Tyrone Orange Vision, an

Order initiative aimed at building an understanding of Orangesim in



"It is claimed that these marches threaten no-one and that they are

merely part of the Orange tradition. In my view this is complete

nonsense," he said.


"Many of these marches are seen in our community as having more to

do with bigotry and sectarianism than the celebration of a culture

or a tradition.


"For many nationalists it means roads are closed and long detours

inevitable for those who have to travel. Around the Twelfth,

nationalist communities, whether they like it or not, are subjected

to the sound of Lambeg drums.


"For them the sound of the drums spread fear and for some it

conveys a very clear message: We will march wherever we want and

you can't stop us."




Sinn Féin Welcomes Human Rights Commission's Call For Independent

Public Inquiry Into Conditions For Women In Prison


Published: 19 October, 2004


Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP has described today's second

Human Rights Commission report into the treatment of women detained

at the Mourne House Unit at Maghaberry Prison and Hydebank Wood

Young Offenders Unit as 'a scathing indictment of the scandalous

conditions in which women remand and sentenced prisoners are being



Mr. Adams said: 'Sinn Féin welcomes the detailed report by the

Human Rights Commission and its series of 41 recommendations which

culminate in calling for an Independent Public Inquiry into the

role of all the key players. Anyone concerned at the conditions

under which women are being held in prison should examine this

report carefully. Our initial view is that it should be implemented

in full.'


Recalling that three women have committed suicide in recent years

in Maghaberry the Sinn Féin President called for the Prison system

to 'immediately lift its block on the Human Rights Commission

having access to the Women's Unit at Hydebank.'


'Sinn Féin has been demanding that the British government provide

the Human Rights Commission with the power to enter places of

detention. This is now needed more than ever given the refusal of

the Prison Service to permit the Commission access to Hydebank, and

the appalling conditions under which women are being held as

revealed in today's report.'


"It is clear that the prison system has failed and continues to

fail women, particularly those at greatest risk. There is a lack of

healthcare, effective monitoring and support for women caught up

within the prison system.


"The Prison Service has failed to draw up, and more importantly

implement, a policy or strategic plan for the gender specific

treatment of women in custody. Transferring women from a female

unit in Maghaberry to a unit in Hydebank, which mostly holds young

male offenders, has not addressed any of the problems caused by the

absolute failure to provide protections for women in custody,

particularly where they are at risk.


"The prison regime at Maghaberry was unacceptable and the move to

Hydebank has not been accompanied by the necessary changes to

prison policy. The Prisons Inspectorate made clear recommendations

for the treatment of women, on separation of women, separate

management structures, in-cell sanitation and effective training of

staff. These have been totally ignored.


"One of the greatest areas of concern has been the fact that no

special provision was made for children and young people thus

breaching International Human Rights Standards. What also was of

concern was the failure to provide appropriate medical, and

crucially psychiatric, care especially for vulnerable women. The

failure of the Prison Service to develop a policy on the treatment

of women has compromised the health and well being of women in

custody and has unfortunately led, on a number of occasions, to

young women dying while in Maghaberry.


"The case of one of my constituents, Roseanne Irvine, raises all of

these issues. Roseanne died in Maghaberry Prison in March. This

young woman should never have been placed in prison. Roseanne was

failed absolutely by the Prison Service, by social services and by

the courts."ENDS




Government Urged Not To Release IRA Men


Daniel McConnell


  The widow of Garda Jerry McCabe last night called on the

Government to keep its promise not to grant early release to the

four IRA members jailed for his killing.


Newspaper reports at the weekend suggested the four men could be

released if the IRA ends its military operations and political

agreement is achieved in the North.


The former minister for justice, Mr O'Donoghue, had previously

written to Mrs Anne McCabe on behalf of the Government promising

that her husband's killers would not qualify for early release.


Sinn Féin, however, has again claimed this week that the four men

are covered by the terms of the Belfast Agreement and should be

granted their freedom.


Speaking to RTÉ's Prime Time programme, Mrs Anne McCabe said: "They

were convicted of manslaughter, and we had to take that, even

though in my view it was murder. But when the issue came out into

the public domain, and it was brought forward by IRA/Sinn Féin, we

had to make contact with the Government as to the commitment they

had given us. This is the commitment they gave us in writing, and

so I don't believe they should qualify for early release."


The Taoiseach, Mr Ahern, hinted at the weekend that if the IRA ends

all operations, the four men convicted of Garda McCabe's

manslaughter could be eligible for release. Speaking to reporters,

he said: "If we get to a fully comprehensive agreement, then that

is an outstanding issue for the Irish Government to deal with, that

is our position."


Mrs McCabe said on Prime Time: "Well, I believe in the commitment

the Government has given me, that they won't be released, and that

is that.


Pearse McCauley, of Strabane, Kevin Walsh, Michael O'Neill and

Jeremiah Sheehy, all from Co Limerick, are currently serving

sentences in Castlerea Prison.


In February 1999, the trial into Garda McCabe's killing ended

dramatically when the accused men changed their pleas at the

Special Criminal Court, Dublin.


They pleaded guilty to his manslaughter after they were re-

arraigned at the request of prosecuting counsel, Mr Edward Comyn



Garda McCabe was killed in Adare, Co Limerick, in June 1996.


© The Irish Times




Integrated Schools 'In Demand'


Young people want integrated education, the report says


More integrated education could help break down Northern Ireland's

sectarian divisions, a survey has said.


The Voices Behind the Statistics report, published on Wednesday,

studied young people's views of sectarianism.


Sixth-formers from across the religious divide said integrated

schools would help foster better community relations.


It was published a day after another integrated school in the

province officially opened.


The study, by Queen's University in Belfast and the University of

Ulster, discovered a demand for integrated education.


Sixth-form students from 11 schools were consulted on their

experiences of sectarianism and their ideas about how community

relations could be improved.


One student said: "I would like to hope that there will be a lot

more cross-community projects available within schools and that

there will be more integrated schools opened to give young people a

chance to mix."


Researchers from Queen's took part in the study


Another project participant said: "I hope young people will

understand both sides and will be able to mix within the community



The study was co-authored by the University of Ulster's Shirley

Ewart and Dirk Schubotz from Queen's.


It is the result of a joint project undertaken by the National

Children's Bureau (NCB) and ARK (The Northern Ireland Social and

Political Archive).


Mr Schubotz said: "The project with NCB created an ideal platform

to get in touch and consult with young people in schools.


"The participatory workshops were enjoyed by young people and

researchers alike. The results of Voices Behind the Statistics gave

important impulses for the 2004 Young Life and Times survey, which

we have just concluded."


'Controversial issues'


Northern Ireland's first integrated school, Lagan College, opened

in 1981 with just 28 pupils.


Now there are 57 such schools in the province with the latest to

open, Lir Integrated Primary School in Ballycastle, County Antrim,

on Wednesday.


Ruth Sinclair, director of research at NCB, said the study showed

how bringing youths from different backgrounds together could

generate change.


"Actively engaging with young people and openly discussing

sensitive and controversial issues must surely be a way forward in

addressing sectarianism in Northern Ireland."


The research was designed to complement the 2003 Young Life and

Times (YLT) survey, carried out by ARK, which provided young

people's views on a large-scale statistical level.




Ban On Smoking In Public Places Urged


20 October 2004


Smoking in all work and public places in Northern Ireland needs to

be banned after a leaked report presented to the Government

confirmed passive smoking can kill.


That's the view of John O'Dowd, Sinn Fein's health spokesman, who

said that in light of the report, there can be "no excuse for not

introducing an immediate and total ban on smoking in enclosed

public places".


Yesterday it emerged that a report from the Scientific Committee on

Tobacco and Health (SCOTH) presented a report to the Government

four months ago on the dangers of passive smoking.


Mr O'Dowd said: "I find it deeply worrying, but not surprising,

that the Government has sat on this for months. The leaked SCOTH

report confirms what health organisations have been saying over

many years - passive smoking causes death and disease."




Plan To Have Fewer Armed Gardai


Conor Lally


  A review of the number of armed members within An Garda Síochána

is under way with a view to reducing the numbers carrying firearms.


Assistant commissioner Mr Nacie Rice has prepared a paper on the

issue for the Garda Commissioner, Mr Noel Conroy, who is currently

considering the matter.


The move forms part of an overall proposal within the force to

reduce the use of live ammunition while introducing "less than

lethal" weapons. It is envisaged that these would be used during

"critical incidents" which involve hostage-taking or the use of

firearms, but not as crowd control devices. There are currently

1,600 armed gardaí.


A trial of "Taser" electric shock weapons by six UK police forces

is nearing completion and will be reviewed by An Garda Síochána

before the end of the year. The devices temporarily incapacitate

people. Three other "less than lethal" weapons have already been

acquired by the force and are cleared for use here.


Members of the Garda Emergency Response Unit have travelled to the

Los Angeles sheriff's office for training in the use of the three

weapons, and are currently training their colleagues in the unit on

how to use the devices.


Det Supt Patrick Hogan, of the Special Detective Unit, told The

Irish Times that "the majority" of the ERU's 50 members have

already been trained to use the three devices. He said there was

"no question" that the devices were intended for use in crowd-

control situations.


Gardaí were also working on developing medical expertise that would

be present at "critical incidents" when there was a chance that the

"less than lethal" weapons would be used. He said the use of Taser

devices was "simply a proposal".


"It's one of a number [ of weapons] we're having a look at at the

moment. We'll wait and see the results of the UK trial by the end

of the year, and then look for more information from manufacturers

before making our own decision on it."


Supt Hogan was speaking during the Jane's Less-Lethal Weapons

Conference in the Berkeley Court Hotel, Ballsbridge Dublin,



The two-day conference, which concludes today, is being organised

by Jane's Information Group, the international "provider of

intelligence and analysis on national and international defence,

security and risk developments".


A crowd of around 150 peace activists gathered outside the Berkeley

Court last night in protest at the fact the conference was being

held in Dublin. Many activists believe the acquisition by gardaí of

"less than lethal" weapons would result in members of the public

being intimidated from going to large public demonstrations in the



The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Cllr Michael Conaghan, said some in the

political establishment feared public protest and dissent. The

"gadgetry" under discussion at the Jane's conference formed part of

their "agenda to suppress dissent". Gardaí had a long history of

unarmed policing that should be closely guarded, he said.


Amnesty International said it had serious reservations about "less

than lethal" weapons. These had been used in some countries not as

a last resort but in the first instance, and had sometimes proved



Non-lethal weapons cleared for use by the ERU


A nine lead 40g bean bag device which is shot at an individual from

a 12 gauge shotgun at an effective range of 75 metres. The bean bag

does not explode or break up on impact. It can injure and disable a

target without causing death.


A 12 gauge ferret device, which is used to shoot CS, or pepper,

liquid through doors or glass into a room. This would be used to

clear individuals from a room. Because the CS or pepper substance

is in liquid form, rather than gas, its effects are more localised

than gas.


An Mk 21 Aerosol Projector. This device allows a small canister of

liquid CS or pepper substance to be fired at high velocity at a

target up to a nine metre range. The impact of the canister,

combined with the effects of the liquid contained inside,

temporarily disables the individual.


© The Irish Times




Stray Dog Problem Is Serious: Sinn Fein


20 October 2004


Local dog owners have been urged to get their pets neutered in a

new drive to cut the number of unwanted animals being killed.


Sinn Fein councillor Gerry MacLochlainn has urged all local pet

owners to act responsibly by making sure their pets did not produce

unwanted litters.


He said: "The stray dog problem is serious in Derry.


"Apart from the alarm and misery such dogs can cause, the terrible

fact remains that many of these dogs when caught will be put down,

or to speak plainly, killed.


"It is vital that we all act to stop this appalling and senseless



He added: "Owners have a duty to care for their dogs.


"By having our dogs neutered we will reduce the numbers of unwanted

pets that are eventually dumped into the wild, a life they are not

suited for, and we will prevent many of these unfortunate animals

from being killed.


"There are schemes available to help those on benefits with the

cost of neutering their pets and I would recommend that people

avail of these schemes," he added.


Meanwhile, this week local man William Campbell has scooped £1,000

from the Dog's Trust charity draw after agreeing to have his

Staffordshire cross terrier neutered.


Dog owners on means tested benefit can take advantage of the

reduced neutering rate of £10 by contacting the Dogs Trust's

neutering hotline on 0845 606 3036.


Further advice on responsible dog-ownership, including neutering,

can be obtained from Derry City Council's dog shelter on 7126 1414.




Dublin Is Dirty, Dear, Dangerous, EU Survey Told


Joe Humphreys


  Dubliners believe they live in a city that is among the dirtiest,

most dangerous and worst-managed in Europe, according to a new EU



While eight out of 10 Dubliners said they were "satisfied" with the

city, only 19 per cent thought it was clean, and just half said

they "always felt safe".


Moreover, just 17 per cent of citizens said they felt the city's

resources were spent in a responsible way, the lowest satisfaction

rating of 31 European city populations surveyed for the Eurostat



The Urban Audit Perception Survey, published in Holland this week,

found that Dubliners were more optimistic than other EU city

dwellers about job opportunities, but less satisfied with services

and living costs.


Some 47 per cent of Dubliners said it was "easy to find a good

job", the highest satisfaction rate in the EU. But almost half said

they had difficulty paying their bills at the end of each month.


In only three cities, Rome, Naples and Athens, did people express

greater difficulty in meeting the cost of living.


As well as expressing higher-than-average dissatisfaction with

security, policing and cleanliness, Dubliners were the most

concerned among city dwellers in Europe about the provision of

affordable housing.


Just 5 per cent of Dubliners said they found it easy to get good

housing at a reasonable price.


Eurostat said it was not surprising that there was "a clear inverse

relationship between availability of jobs and availability of

housing. Cities which find it easy to offer jobs experience higher

housing prices".


More than 300 residents were interviewed in each city for the

survey, conducted last January in 31 cities in the EU-15 (pre-May

2004 enlargement). The results were published by Eurostat along

with a major European study of urban area economic and social



The urban audit, drawing on pan-European figures from 2001, showed

Dublin to have a higher rate of heart disease and respiratory

illness than any other capital in the EU-15.


Dublin also had the highest average household size, at 2.74

persons, and the second-highest proportion of lone-parent

households at 13 per cent.


Some 62 per cent of Dubliners were said to live in their own

dwelling, the second-highest ownership rate in the EU. Just 11 per

cent lived in social housing, the third-lowest rate among capital

cities surveyed.


On the environment, Dublin had mixed results, with the lowest level

of summer smog in EU-15 capitals but the second-highest levels of

nitrogen dioxide pollution.


The average journey time to work in Dublin was 29 minutes, the

third-lowest among EU capitals surveyed. In London the average

journey time was 43 minutes, and in Lisbon 41 minutes.


Some 174 non-capital cities were also surveyed for the audit,

including Cork, Galway and Limerick.


The four Irish cities shared relatively similar demographic, social

and economic indicators. However, among the four, Limerick was said

to have the highest proportion of lone-parent households at 15 per



Cork had the highest proportion of households living in social

housing at 14 per cent, and the second-highest proportion living in

owned dwellings after Limerick.


LIVING IN DUBLIN: pros and cons




Affluence: Dublin has the third-highest car-ownership rate among

EU-15 capitals, after Luxembourg city and Brussels.


Employment: Dublin's unemployment rate of 6.7 per cent is one of

lowest in the EU.


Access: Surprisingly perhaps, the average journey time to work in

Dublin of 29 minutes is the third-shortest in the EU.


Technologically advanced: Some 40 per cent of Dublin households

have a personal computer.


Facilities: Dublin has 58 public libraries, just eight fewer than





Damp: Dublin is the wettest capital city in the EU-15, with 246

rainy days a year compared to 69 in Rome.


Dark: Dublin has the least sunshine in Europe, with just four

hours' sunshine a day on average, compared to 7.6 hours in Athens.


Polluted: While smog was not found to be a problem in Dublin, the

city had the second-highest levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution.

On 15 days such pollution exceeded recommended safety limits.


Illness: Dublin's mortality rate for heart disease and respiratory

illness is the highest in Europe.


Participation: Turnout at local elections is the second-worst in

the EU after London. Just 28 per cent of Dublin city

representatives are women, the third-lowest proportion among EU



© The Irish Times




Whale Sightings Off Mayo 'Very Significant'


Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent


  Sightings this week of a pod of fin whales off the Mayo coastline

have been described as "very significant" by the Irish Whale and

Dolphin Group.


Up to half of the marine mammals - the world's second-largest

creature after blue whales - were recorded feeding between three

and five miles off Clare Island and Achillbeg over the past few

days. Both fin and humpback whales have also been sighted off the

south coast this week.


Mr Pádraig Whooley of the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group said that

up to 15 fin whales and some 500 common dolphins had been seen

about 19 miles south-east of Galley Head. However, this had become

a pattern at this time of year which they had established through

their work on the south coast, "whereas the Mayo sightings are very

exciting", he added.


"It demonstrates the need for far more research in other parts of

the coastline to determine more precise levels of activity of these



The reports from Mayo were made by Mr Johnny King, owner of the

Western Kingfisher angling charter vessel from Cleggan, Co Galway.

Mr King was working with Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM) on tagging

bluefin tuna about five miles south-east of the Bills Rocks west of

Clare Island when he noticed significant activity by gannets

feeding on herring shoals.


The herring had attracted up to 20 grey seals, and his vessel then

came upon about six fin whales feeding on the fish. The whales

moved west of Clare Island and were still in the area when he left.


Mr Whooley said the peak period for fin and humpback whales in

southern waters was October-November, with initial sightings in

June. "The continental shelf is closest to our land mass off the

Mayo coast, so it makes sense that there should be intense whale

activity there," he said.


© The Irish Times


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