Dec 18, 2004

Concreting Over Ireland

An excellent article from the UK Guardian - extract below

Ireland is used to violent change. Over the centuries, scores of armies of conquest, from the Danish hordes to Oliver Cromwell, have left their brutal mark on this soft and beautiful land. Today Ireland is threatened again. But this time no armies are massing on its border, nor are foreign fleets preparing to invade. This threat is an internal one. It comes from home.
Forget what you've seen in the tourist brochures. Do not be deceived by the glossy pages of mist-wreathed mountain vistas, wild open bogland and friendly, brightly painted little towns. Many of these are stock publicity photographs, already several years old. Today's reality is altogether different. If you want a tamed landscape dotted with off-the-shelf mock-Georgian houses, congested with nose-to-tail traffic and suffused by an ugly suburban sprawl, then céad mile fáilte - welcome to Ireland. This is the land of the bulldozer, where Tarmac, churned-up mud and shopping malls are as likely to greet the visitor as historic castles and windswept bays. This land has been mauled by the Celtic Tiger, chewed up by double-digit economic growth - and what's left is barely recognisable.

Let's start by opening up a recent map of the republic. Have a look at the miles and miles of dotted blue lines that radiate out from Dublin. They are proposed motorways - 900km of them in total, giving Ireland the biggest roadbuilding programme in Europe. €1.2bn is sunk into new roads every single year, far more than the government spends on public transport. These are not widening schemes or road improvements but new motorways that will plough their way through field and forest, hill and dale, bringing the roar of traffic to parts of the country more used to the chatter of birdsong....

Ireland is one of the most car-dependent countries in the world. Irish motorists drive on average 24,000km a year, far above the UK's average of 16,000 and even topping the US's 19,000. Petrol costs 50% less than it does in British filling stations, and a third of Ireland's diesel sales go to Northern Irish drivers crossing the border to fill up cheaply. Even the Irish government admits the rate of private car ownership and the volume of traffic have already reached levels predicted for 2010. Road traffic nearly doubled over the last decade, and the numbers of people commuting by car to Dublin in the morning rush hour increased by 149% between 1991 and 2001.

The impact on society has been profound. Family and community life has suffered as commuting distances and travel times have spiralled. The number of people travelling more than 15 miles to work has tripled since 1981, and more than a third of male workers leave home before 7.30 in the morning to start their daily commute. The school run has become one of the biggest sources of congestion. Half of all primary school children were driven to the school gates in 2002, compared with one in five back in 1981. Cycling has fallen by four-fifths.

Dec 16, 2004

Irish Women earning less than male colleagues

IOL: Women earning less than male colleagues - report: "Women earning less than male colleagues - report
13/12/2004 - 18:06:10

Irish women are earning one-fifth less than their male colleagues, a damning report revealed today.

The Central Statistics Office discovered huge discrepancies in wages, gender equality in the workforce and education.

The study found the numbers of women at risk of poverty, after pensions and social incomes, was the highest in the EU at 23% in 2001.

The study 'Women and Men in Ireland, 2004' stated that women represented only 13% of all the TDs in D?il Eireann this year, a rate well below the EU average of 22.1%, or Sweden?s strong showing of 45.3%.

This poor representation of women in the country?s political powerhouse was mirrored across the regional boards and those of state-sponsored bodies.

Efforts to break the 'glass ceiling' appear to have failed with almost 59% of women in the position of clerical officers in the Civil Service, compared with only 30% of men.

In 2003, only 10% of Assistant Secretaries were women.

Just over 70% of men were in the labour force compared with just under 50% of women.

Women work almost 10 hours less than men a week, while women?s hourly earnings were only 82.5% of men?s.

Around 240,000 men earn between ?20-30,000 a year, compared to just over 170,000 women. The number of men earning over ?50,000 euro a year was over 115,000 while only 25,000 women commanded the same wages.

The employment rate for women in Ireland last year was running at over 55% - just above the European Union average ? with the male rate at almost 75%.

The figures varied between an employment rate of 87% of women aged between"

Irish students are worst binge-drinkers - European survey

IOL: Irish students are worst binge-drinkers - European survey: "Irish students are worst binge-drinkers - European survey
14/12/2004 - 13:05:00

Ireland's teenagers have emerged as the worst binge-drinkers among a survey of 100,000 European students carried out last year.

Thirty-two per cent of Irish respondents to the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs said they had consumed more than five alcoholic drinks in a row at least three times in the previous 30 days.

The next highest level of binge-drinking was in the Netherlands (28%), followed by the UK (27%) and Malta and Sweden (25%).

The problem of binge-drinking in Ireland was also found to be more pronounced among girls, with 33% admitting to binge-drinking, compared to 31% of boys.

The only other country where more girls admitted to binge-drinking than boys was the United Kingdom.

The lowest rate of binge drinking in the 35 countries where the survey was carried was in Turkey, where 5% of respondents said they had engaged in the practice in the previous 30 days."

Ireland needs more immigrants

Business World, live news from Ireland, plus Irish archive, lists, companies information:

"At the current rate of economic growth, the Irish economy will need 45,000 immigrants a year to fill vacant positions, according to a report out today from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
In its Population and Labour Force Projections for 2006-36 released today, the CSO said it expects the labour force to grow annually by 1.8pc over the next 12 years, if recent immigration trends are to continue.
The number of women in the labour force is also expected to increase by a quarter to one million within the next 12 years. Women would then represent 44pc of the workforce.
In terms of population, the number of old people is expected to more than double over the next 30 years to more than one million.
Almost one in five of the population is expected to be aged over 65 years by 2036, compared to one in ten at present. The number of people over 80 years of age is also expected to treble in the same period. Overall, the Irish population is expected to reach five million mark within the next 15 years if current fertility, mortality and migration trends continue."

Dec 2, 2004

Let's go the Ireland way

Let's go the Ireland way

This report from an Indian newspaper - using Ireland as an example that India should try and follow.