Jan 28, 2005

Ireland - possible 1.75-an-hour increase in minimum wage

IOL: ICTU seeking ?1.75-an-hour increase in minimum wage:
"The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) is seeking a €1.75 increase in the national minimum wage from May 1 this year.

ICTU is seeking the increase during a Labour Court review of the minimum wage that was promised as part of the second phase of the Sustaining Progress agreement.

At present, the minimum wage stands at ?7-an-hour, but Congress wants this increased to ?8.75-an-hour.

Speaking at the beginning of the Labour Court review today, ICTU general secretary David Begg said such measures were needed to address the growing gap between rich and poor."

Minimum Wage figures for Ireland

National Data Microsite

Ireland's Minimum wage is currently 7.00 euro per hour but it is due to rise soon

Unemployment in Ireland 4.4%

National Data Microsite

See the detailed unemployment figures for Ireland at the link above.
The labour force is rising and unemployment is not going up.

Crime rates in Ireland one of lowest in Western World

IOL: 4% drop in serious crime last year

The number of serious crimes reported to the Irish Police (Gardaí) fell by 4% last year, according to provisional figures published by the Irish Department of Justice.

The total number of murder and manslaughter incidents in the year was down 13% compared to 2003, while the number of reported sexual assaults was down by 28%.

However, there was an increase of more than 20% in the number of more serious sexual offences like rape and aggravated sexual assault reported to the Gardaí.

Publishing the figures today, Justice Minister Michael McDowell also expressed concern about an increase in the number of reported shooting incidents.

However, he welcomed the overall fall in the reported crime statistics, which followed a 2% reduction in 2003.

Reports this morning said the falling levels of serious crime, coupled with a rising population, meant Ireland now had one of the lowest crime rates in the Western world.

Cheaper flights to Ireland from UK


If you want bargains on flights to Ireland - it loks like you should try the Gatwick to Knock route or Gatwick Shannon. Arch rivals Ryanair and Easyjet are going head to head for the first time on the same route. This should see prices fall. I normally fly from Knock to Birmingham - but recently booked a family flight to Gatwick instead saving over 300 euro on the return trip. (6 seats)
If you do decide to fly to Knock - try Knock Car Hire for a good deal on car hire from Knock Airport

Jan 27, 2005

Childcare costs in Ireland

Summary of  article from the Sunday Business Post about the cost of childminders and nannys in Ireland in 2005

See latest childcare costs 2012 here
About 70 per cent of parents use childminders, au pairs or relatives to look after their children, according to Mary Lee-Stapleton, director of services with the National Children's Nurseries Association (NCNA).

The primary duties of a nanny or childminder include washing and dressing children, preparing and cooking children's meals, children's laundry and ironing and taking children to activities.

The cost of hiring a nanny depends on a number of things, including the experience and age of the nanny, and the age and number of children.

The average salary of a nanny ranges from €23,000 to €25,000, according to childcare agency, Executive Nannies. The initial length of a permanent post is one year and the normal working week is about 50 hours, according to the agency.

Temporary nannies may also be employed, at an average cost of between €10 and €13 an hour. According to Executive Nannies, parents who hire nannies without going through an agency will pay similar prices.

The minimum weekly rate for a childminder is €180 per child, payable on a 52-week basis, and the minimum hourly rate is €4.50, according to the National Childminding Association of Ireland (NCAI).

According to the Belgrave Agency, a live-in childminder earns between €350 and €400 weekly after tax. This is based on a 50-hour week. The hourly rate of pay for a part-time employee is €10.

Families who allow an au pair to be placed with them should be aware that au pairs have no formal childcare training.

“Au pairs are not employees,” said Anne Nolan, managing director of Dublin Childcare Recruitment Agency. “They don't work - they help and they have light household duties. An au pair should not replace a nanny.”

Au pairs generally work for between 25 and 30 hours a week and receive pocket money in return.

The amount of pocket money they receive is up to the family but the minimum for a 25-hour week is usually about €65.

According to the agency, Au Pairs 4 Ireland, pocket money for an au pair for a 25-hour week is between €70 and €80 a week.

However, an au pair who works 30 hours per week gets pocket money of between €80 and €90.

According to EU guidelines, an au pair should not be younger than 17or older than 30.The guidelines also state that au pairs should have at least one full free day per week.

2005 Figures

Ireland better than UK and USA in environmental sustainability index

IOL: Ireland 21st in environmental sustainability index

Ireland has been ranked 21st out of 146 countries in an environmental sustainability index drawn up by experts the universities of Yale and Columbia in the United States.

Finland, Norway, Uruguay, Sweden and Iceland made up the top five in the rankings, while the United States was ranked 45th and the United Kingdom 66th.

The lowest-ranked countries were North Korea, Iraq, Taiwan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The rankings, which were drawn up for the World Economic Forum, are based on individual countries' efforts to reduce pollution and improve policies on environmental sustainability.

Jan 25, 2005

Big Ireland Drug Problem

Scotsman.com News - Latest News - Crime Report Highlights UK and Ireland Drug Problem
Illegal drug use in the UK and Ireland is among the highest in the world, a new report revealed today.

Both countries have a higher proportion of cocaine-users than anywhere except Spain, while Ireland tops the league table for ecstasy, says the the 46-nation Council of Europe annual report on the state of organised crime.

About 185 million people worldwide – 3% of the global population – use illegal drugs. Nearly 80% of them use cannabis, 20% use ecstasy and amphetamines, 7% use cocaine and 3% use heroin.

The report shows the Russian Federation as having the biggest heroin problem, with 2.1% of the population using the drug. But the UK recorded by far the largest heroin seizures in 2002, with 3,929 kilograms impounded.

The UK also seized the most amphetamines, including ecstasy – 1,716 kilograms.

Spain has the highest rate of cocaine use in the world at 2.6%, followed closely by Ireland (2.4%) and the UK (2.1%). Rates of cannabis use in Europe are highest in the Czech Republic (10.9%) and the UK (10.6%).

Ireland has the highest amphetamine use in Europe (1.6%), followed by the UK (1.6%) and Denmark (1.3%). Ecstasy use in Ireland, at 3.4%, is among the highest in the world, followed by the Czech Republic (2.5%) and the UK (2%).

Looking forward to SA catching Ireland

Business Report - Looking forward to SA catching Ireland

Even the South Africans are trying to emulate the success of Ireland.
But - today there are figures out for Poverty levels in Ireland - showing that this new wealth is not very evenly spread in Ireland. Some 20% are said to be living in Poverty - but Poverty is defined as having less that 60% of average income - which is 36000 euro or therabouts. So having an income of about 21000 euro a year is defined as Poverty? That level of income doesn't sound too bad to me - for a single person . The figures have to taken with a pinch of salt.

Jan 24, 2005

Belief in God still strong in Ireland

From Eircom.net

In an Irish Times/TNS mrbi poll published today Almost nine out of 10 people in Ireland aged over 18 believe in God

Some 87 per cent believe in God, 7 per cent do not, 5 per cent don't know and 1 per "cent has no opinion, the poll says. Belief in God is weakest within the 18-24 age group where 78 per cent believe, 12 per cent do not, 9 per cent don't know and 1 per cent has no opinion. It is strongest in the 50-64 age group where 94 per cent believe, 3 per cent do not, and 3 per cent don't know.

Belief in God is also stronger among women (91 per cent) than men (84 per cent) and among rural dwellers (90 per cent) than urban dwellers (85 per cent).

There are differences among supporters of different parties too, with belief strongest among Fine Gael voters (95 per cent) and Fianna Fáil voters (93 per cent) followed by supporters of Labour (83 per cent), Sinn Féin (82 per cent), the PDs (79 per cent), and the Green Party (71 per cent).

Just 14 per cent of those who believe in God say natural disasters such as the recent tsunami in Asia weaken their belief.

Two thirds of believers - 65 per cent - say such disasters make no difference to the strength of their belief. Some 19 per cent said these events actually strengthen their belief.

The question was asked in this poll in the wake of recent debate over whether the occurrence of such calamities challenged the widespread belief in the existence of God. The poll was taken last Monday and Tuesday among a national quota sample of 1,000 voters at 100 locations throughout the State.

Younger believers were more likely to have their faith weakened by the occurrence of natural disasters, with the immunity of faith to such events strengthening steadily with age. In the 18 - 24 age group 16 per cent said natural disasters weakened their belief, 13 per cent that it strengthened it, 69 per cent said it made no difference and 2 per cent had no opinion.

In contrast, among the over 65s just 8 per cent said disasters weakened their belief, 33 per cent that they strengthened it, 58 per cent that they made no difference and 1 per cent had no opinion."

Litter in rural Ireland is a problem.

From Eircom.net - originally in the Irish Times.

"A study has recommended the introduction of deposits for drink cans and bottles after researchers found that people drop 3,500 pieces of litter each year on a kilometre stretch of a typical rural Irish road. The survey also recommends the introduction of voluntary litter patrols.

The study found that, on average, there were 1,148 pieces of litter per kilometre at any one time on a one kilometre stretch of rural roads, while evidence indicated that a small number of "litterbugs" were responsible for much of the waste, throwing it from their cars.

It found that drink bottles and cans were the greatest problem, accounting for 15 per cent of all litter.

Some 56 per cent of all litter was plastic, while paper and cardboard accounted for a quarter of all litter.

The data collected suggested that on a typical kilometre stretch of a small rural road, a person would expect to find 98 drinks bottles, 42 soft-drink cans, 101 bags, 69 cigarette and cigar butts, 166 wrappers and packaging items such as cigarette boxes, and eight paper cups.

It was estimated that up to 80 per cent of the litter was thrown out of cars by passing motorists. The plastic bag levy was found by the study to be particularly effective, with only a tiny proportion of such bags discovered in the survey.

The study was carried out by Prof Nick Gray, an environmental scientist at TCD, and his research assistant, Ms Rebecca Gray, who surveyed 24 randomly selected sites on minor roads in rural Co Wicklow.

The sites were cleared of litter, all of which was counted. Unlike urban areas, where litter can be highly visible, the study found that much of the litter was hidden in the verges by grass or weeds and was less obvious to passing traffic.

The survey figures suggested there was an average of 1,148 litter items per kilometre of rural road.

People dropped litter at a rate of 3,571 items per kilometre per year, the survey found.

The study also estimated that people were littering at a rate of 69 items a week on an average Irish road.

Prof Gray said the study identified "a particular pattern of littering" at many of the sites, with the same items, such as particular cigarette brands, being dropped. This suggested individual litterbugs were responsible for much of that littering.

The discovery of so many plastic bottles, many of them still half-full, suggested that a deposit system was needed, according to Prof Gray.

"I think the trouble is that the product has such a low value, people can't even be bothered taking it home with them," he said.

The deposit would also encourage local groups to form litter patrols as it provided a financial incentive.

His study suggests that voluntary litter patrols by local communities are the only major way of tackling litter, but bin charges were preventing such civic initiatives. "I think it very much leads to community pressure. It's usually kids who take part in this, and if they go home and say, 'I was picking up litter all day', you will often find Dad thinking, 'I probably dropped it there'.""

Jan 23, 2005

Some differences about Living In Ireland

After being in Ireland for almost a year now - I was thinking of the differences between living here and living in the UK. Now I used to live in a fairly big city in England and now I live in a small village in the West of Ireland. So - I realise that there are a lot of differences because of the size of the place - but that apart here are some of the things - good and bad - that are different here.
( In no particular order)
No free Plastic carrier bags in shops - there is a 15c government tax on them to reduce waste - and it works.
Smoke free shops, pubs, restaurants, taxis, offices - smoking in places of work is illegal here. It's great.
Kids are allowed in pubs with adults (till 9pm) - (maybe not a good thing - but at least they have put a time limit on when children have to leave. There used to be no rule about that.
Pubs are open longer (legally) - 12.30 at weekends.
Many rural pubs are probably open a lot later than that. Many people don't go out till after 11pm.
Petrol is cheaper than the UK - but you need more of it.
Most cafe's and pubs etc don't expect payment till after you eat - not before.
The sunsets look nicer.
The people are friendlier and will not think you are weird if you start a conversation.
The smell of turf fires burning. (Becoming less common though)
CD prices are usually dearer - but they seem to be coming down.
Books and Newspaper prices are dearer - mainly because of taxes.
Sunday shopping is not a pastime here - but it soon will be .
There are more pubs here - but mostly small ones.
Live Traditional Irish music is harder to find than I hoped.
There is no Council Tax or it's equivalent.
There are no domestic water rates in most of Ireland.
The water quality in some places is not too good.
Drivers are generally more patient here - but there is always the odd "nutter".
Speed limits are now in Km (since 20th Jan)
Distance signs between towns are in Km

More to follow..

Chldcare costs higher in Ireland

A draft study by the National Economic and Social Council says the cost of childcare in the Republic of Ireland is among the highest in the EU.

The average cost of sending a child to a creche on a full-time basis stands at about 20 per cent of earnings in the Republic, compared to the EU average of 12 per cent.

High spending Irish

This article from the UK Times - explains how higher incomes in Ireland means people are spending more - and sometimes more than they can really afford.

"THERE may be Mercedes-Benzes instead of Micras in Celtic tiger driveways, but living an Absolutely Fabulous-type lifestyle has left Irish people in financial straits.

Despite being declared among the world’s richest citizens, a new study reveals that many Irish adults are finding it tough to make ends meet. A Cost of Being Irish survey by Mintel, to be published this week, reveals that 40% are “feeling the pinch”. This is in spite of the recent finding by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that Ireland has surpassed America for the first time in terms of economic wealth per head of population.

Economists say Mintel’s finding is evidence that lifestyle expectations have been over- inflated by the growth of the Celtic tiger. “Expectations are very different now,” said Dan McLaughlin, Bank of Ireland’s chief economist. “After having a low-income economy for our entire history, suddenly we have a rapidly growing one. People are taking full employment and low mortgage rates for granted.”

With waiting lists of a year for the €160,000 Porsche 911 turbo and women queuing up to buy €5,000 handbags in Brown Thomas, frugality has gone out the window. The number of convertible sports coupés sold in Ireland last year was up 136% on 2003, and high-street shoppers’ spending was up 5.1% on the previous year.

With luxury labels such as Chanel — whose suits start at €2,000 — moving into stores such as Brown Thomas, the temptation to spend has never been higher.

But many are funding lavish lifestyles on credit, and people find themselves having to work longer hours to pay for the trappings of a lifestyle that includes long-haul holidays, spacious homes and designer clothes.

Mary Corcoran, a sociologist at NUI Maynooth, said: “People may say they are feeling the pinch, but what it may mean is they can’t take a second holiday or they’re finding it difficult to pay for the holiday home in Spain as well as the first house, or for the third car in the driveway. I think we’ve taken to the credit card culture with glee.

“The fact is that in the last decade a new means of consumption has cottoned on fast, and the ease with which you can spend is now much greater, from television to the internet. It’s a very different cultural context. Before you had to save, now you just put it on a credit card,” she said. “It’s a self-improvement thing and people do get caught up. Also, having a 24/7 shopping culture makes it difficult to stop — you can shop in the middle of the night.

“You can’t dispute the increase in real income but I think the choices available to people have changed through branding and built-in obsolescence. I don’t think that people feel happy about it but there are structured choices out there facing us.”

The Labour TD Joan Burton said rosy economic figures and the mass media were spurring modern lifestyles that are out of kilter with what people can afford in “rip-off Ireland”. “Expectations have grown enormously,” said Burton. “The reality is that everyone has done better out of the Celtic tiger, but some people have done much better than others.

“Car and clothes sales are up, but a lot of that is helped by credit and by borrowing. The Central Bank in each of its last reviews has been warning that the levels of credit in Ireland have grown extraordinarily high.”

Dave Walsh, 28, from Clonmel, a property developer who has a new house and BMW, is one of those who finds he has little to spare.

“I try to live within my budget from what I earn, but I can’t save,” said Walsh, who spends half of his net income on his house and car, and the other half on living expenses. “I’ve taken one holiday in two years. Money is one factor but I’m also too busy making my business work.”

Walsh said that when he returned home in 1999 after a year travelling abroad he saw people who had barely been able to afford a pint when he left to drinking €50 bottles of champagne 12 months later. “I was shocked at how extravagant people had become and how much available cash there was. Whether it’s disposable income or borrowed I don’t know, but when I left there wasn’t access to large amounts of money.

“Money has changed us as a nation from being very humble to brash, fast-living and no-nonsense, and we demand a lot from each other. We’ve become an arrogant, self-obsessed nation in certain ways.”

Jan 13, 2005

Amazon.com opens site in Dublin

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

Online retailing pioneer Amazon.com is to establish operations in Dublin, it was announced today.

It will create up to 25 jobs within two years, with over 70pc being third level graduates.
The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Michael Martin, said Amazon.com, with support from the IDA is to set up its European Systems and Network Operations centre in Dublin.

The new centre, which will provide infrastructure support for Amazon systems and networks, which operate the company's websites worldwide, is expected to open in the first half of this year.

Recruitment for the new centre is to start immediately and candidates will be expected to be technically qualified with systems and network experience. Database administrators are also required.

Minister Martin said: "The establishment of such a strategic centre here, by one of the global leaders in Internet commerce, further endorses the ability of Ireland's technical infrastructure and skills base to support such operations. It confirms this country's status as the leading European location for the largest Internet activities in the world. It is an excellent example of the success being achieved by the Government's policy and IDA Ireland's strategy for the development of Ireland's digital media sector."

11 year old boy - body found in Cork

Galway Advertiser | galwayadvertiser.ie | galwayadvertiser.com:

"Robert Holohan's death represents a new low for Ireland
On many occasions in the west in the past decade, Gardai have been alerted to the sighting of a mysterious white or red van the occupants of which allegedly tried to abduct a child. The pattern was always the same -- the child would be walking along a lonely roadway, the van would pull up, some inducement would be offered and the child would get suspicious and run away. All cases were investigated, and in almost all cases there was little evidence to suggest they actually happened outside the minds of their young victims.
Comforted by the lack of substance at these incidents, Ireland assumed that the countryside was safe for our children to run and play without the fear of being grabbed by strangers offering sweets. And so it has proved. Well, that was until last week when 11-year-old Cork boy Robert Holohan disappeared into thin air.
My editorial this week was to have been about how Ireland as a society should feel safe from the dangers of child abduction. However, as I put the finishing touches to it on Wednesday afternoon, the news broke that ' a little body,'probably that of young Robert was found in undergrowth off a boreen leading to Inch Strand in Co Cork.
By the time you read this, more information about how Robert came to die will have been revealed. Indeed, even at this stage, the body has not been identified, but the indications are that the 1,000 person search has come to an end. One hopes that the grief of his parents can be allayed by the absence of any criminal nature to his death.
However, the fact that Robert was found seven miles from home, far from where his bicycle was found, and hidden in undergrowth would suggest that there is a very sinister element to this incide"

Ireland - the future ?

BBC NEWS | Wales | South West Wales | Tunnel 'vision' under Irish Sea

A vision of a rail tunnel under the Irish Sea, linking west Wales and Ireland, has been unveiled by a group of engineers.
The Irish Academy of Engineers envisages a 50 mile link under the sea, with a journey time from Dublin to Pembrokeshire of one hour 10 minutes.

A Vision of Transport in Ireland is looking forward to transport in 2050.

High-speed trains travelling at up to 150mph are predicted by the Dublin-based academy.

Academy president Liam Conellan said they hoped to "stimulate debate on a possible framework on travelling in Ireland."

The vision proposed by the public body includes a tunnel link connecting Rosslare to Fishguard in Pembrokeshire across St George's Channel - the route of current ferry crossings.

There would also be improvements linking Shannon on the west coast of Ireland.

"If the vision went ahead it would it would increase mobility in Ireland immensely," said Mr Conellan.
It took 10 years to build the Euro Tunnel linking France and England

"At the moment there are 5.7 million people living in Ireland by 2050 we are expecting there to be 8 million.

Jan 12, 2005

Ireland - Work Permits are not required for the following

DETE - Work Permits are not required for the following candidates

Work Permits are NOT required for the following:

A citizen of a Member State of the European Economic Area (EEA) and, where such a citizen is pursuing an activity as an employed or self-employed person within the State, his or her spouse and any of their children who are under the age of 21 years or are dependent on the EEA citizen
Persons who have been granted refugee status by the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform.
Persons in the State on a Work Authorisation/Working Visa
Post graduate students where the work is an integral part of the course of study being undertaken. (A letter is required from the College stating that they are studying). This includes post-graduate doctors (temporarily registered with the Irish Medical Council) and dentists (with temporary registration).
Van der Elst Case The European Court of Justice delivered a judgement on the Van der Elst Case (Freedom to Provide Services) on 9 August, 1994. The Court ruled that in the case of non- EEA workers legally employed in one Member State who are temporarily sent on a contract to another Member State, the employer does not need to apply for work permits in respect of the non-nationals for the period of contract.
Persons who have been granted permission to remain in the State on one of the following grounds:
Persons with permission to remain as spouse of an Irish/EEA national;
Persons with permission to remain as the parent of an Irish citizen;
Persons who have been given temporary leave to remain in the State on humanitarian grounds, having been in the Asylum process.
SUSPENDED INDEFINITELY: Persons who are posted on an intra-corporate transfer/ secondment for a maximum period of four years to an establishment or undertaking in Ireland which is owned by a company or group which has operations in more than one State.
SUSPENDED INDEFINITELY: Persons coming to Ireland from an overseas company for a maximum period of three years for training, whether or not it entails remunerated work, at an Irish-based company.
Swiss Nationals: In accordance with the terms of the European Communities and Swiss Confederation Act, 2001, which came into operation on 1 June, 2002, this enable the free movement of worker between Switzerland and Ireland, without the need for Work Permits.

New irish health insurance provider - VIVAS HEALTH


This new health insurer promises to undercut the other two in Ireland - VHI and BUPA. Of course = the other 2 say they provide a better cover. Anyway - more competition can only be a good thing for the consumer? Lower prices hopefully.

Jan 11, 2005

"Cold Blow and the rainy night"

Examiner: "Worst storm in 25 years? looms
Se?n McC?rthaigh

This song title from a Planxty album of the seventies doesn't do justice to the weather here in the West of Ireland right now!
This report was taken from the Irish Examiner......

THE most severe Atlantic storm to hit Ireland in over a quarter of a century is expected to pass over the country later today with warnings that it could result in major structural damage in all regions and flooding along the west coast.

Gusts of up to 100mph have been forecast for later tonight with the north-west likely to bear the brunt of the bad weather.

Following Sunday night?s storm which claimed the lives of 13 people across Europe, the country is bracing itself for another period of extreme weather over the next 24 hours.

Met ?ireann yesterday issued a severe weather warning to alert the public to dangerous conditions likely to be caused by extreme gales and driving rain.

Weather forecasters claimed there was an increased risk of flooding in all areas, particularly along the Atlantic coast, due to a combination of storm force winds, heavy rain and spring tides. They have also warned the public that the force of the gales could bring down ESB power lines in many areas as well as causing structural damage to trees and buildings.

Motorists are being advised to avoid unnecessary journeys from this afternoon when the storm will reach the south-west coast before passing over the rest of the country.

A Met ?ireann spokesperson, Pat Clarke, said violent winds up to Force-11 could be reached in exposed parts of the west and north later tonight with a high risk of structural damage. All parts are likely to have gusts of 70-80 mph during the storm which will last until the early hours of tomorrow morning. South to south-west winds will reach 30-40mph this morning with gusts of 50-70mph in some coastal areas.

The storm will intensify later this afternoon with wind speeds reaching an a"

Best Buy Savings and Credit Cards in Ireland

Sunday Tribune/Askaboutmoney.com Best Buys For 12th December 2004

Jan 10, 2005

Ireland ranked fourth in World Database of Happiness

IOL: Ireland ranked fourth in World Database of Happiness: "Ireland ranked fourth in World Database of Happiness
10/01/2005 - 07:53:02

Research carried out by a Dutch sociologist has reportedly named Ireland as the fourth happiest place in the world in which to live.

Reports this morning said Ireland was tied in fourth place with Iceland in the World Database of Happiness drawn up by Professor Ruut Veenhoven of the Erasmus University in Rotterdam.

Denmark, Malta and Switzerland, who were all tied for first place, were the only countries ranked as being happier places than Ireland.

This morning?s reports said the findings were based on surveys conducted in 112 countries between 1946 and 2004, but the reports did not reveal what factors were used to determine happiness levels.

However, Prof Veenhoven was quoted as saying that happy countries tended to be rich, well-governed and democratic countries with a lot of freedom and tolerance."

No more mph - Ireland going metric

gometric.ie :: Countdown to Metric speed limits

From JAn 20th 2005 all road speed signs in Ireland will be in Kilometres per hour. It's probably about time - all the distances have been in KM for a few years now. It's bound to cause some problems at the beginning - because most cars still have speedometers where the KM are shown in much smaller figures than the miles.

It's not all good news in Ireland

RTE News - Money stolen from Co Mayo church

A substantial amount of money has been reported stolen from a Catholic church in Ballyhaunis in Co Mayo.

The money, which included a collection for the victims of the Indian Ocean disaster, was taken following a break-in at the sacristy yesterday afternoon.

Gardaí have appealed to anyone with information, or who may have seen anything suspicious, to contact them