• Support for Brexit Party increases pressure on May. Theresa May is under mounting pressure to resign as opinion polls point to a meltdown for Conservatives in the European parliament elections on May 23rd. An opinion poll for The Observer ahead of next week’s European parliament elections put Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party on 34 per cent, more than the combined totals of the two main parties, with Labour on 21 per cent and the Conservatives on just 11 per cent.
• Anti-gay preacher banned from State. An American preacher with extreme anti-gay and anti-Semitic views has become the first person banned from Ireland under exclusion powers dating from 1999. Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan signed the exclusion for Steven L. Anderson, a Baptist pastor based in Arizona, under the Immigration Act 1999.
• Study shows State’s worsening racial abuse record. Ireland is among three countries with the worst records in the EU of racism based on skin colour according to a recent survey, a senior EU human rights official has told a conference in Dublin.
• New oral health policy flawed, says dentists. The Government’s new oral health policy for children and adults is seriously flawed, economically unviable and operationally unworkable, dentists have said. Under the Government’s new ‘Smile agus Sláinte’ policy, all children up to 16 years would receive eight oral healthcare packages including examinations, assessments, advice, prevention interventions, emergency care and referral as appropriate.
• Department to make payments ‘quickly’. The Department of Health has pledged that it will not delay issuing ex-gratia payments to women affected by the Cervical Check controversy. The 221 women or their next of kin can apply for the payment. The level of payment has not yet been set, but is expected to be about €25,000 each, based on the settlement reached in a court case last year.
• Ms Justice Mary Irvine appointed to the Supreme Court. President Michael D. Higgins appointed Ms Justice Mary Irvine as a judge of the Supreme Court this week. Ms Irvine served as a judge on the Court of Appeal for the last four years.
• Schools want to change approach to sacraments. Catholic schools want lay preparations for sacraments such as Confirmation and Communion to take place outside the classroom, according to the findings of a major survey by the Archdiocese of Dublin. Instead, there is a strong demand for parents and local parishes to play a much greater role in preparing children for sacraments.
• Boy awarded €11.3 million over birth injuries. The President of the High Court has approved a final €7.5million payment for a teenage boy with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy as part of a settlement of his action over his care at birth, bring his fill settlement to €11.3 million.
• NGO’s built 40% of social houses in 2018. Almost 40 per cent of social houses built in the Republic last year were constructed by non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) according to a new report published in ‘The Irish Council for Social Housing’ (ICSH), the national federation for non-profit housing associations.
• Antisocial behaviour on public transport set to worsen over summer, Dáil hears. Antisocial behaviour on public transport will only get worse with the onset of summer as groups take over DART carriages on the way to the beach, the Dáil has heard. Fianna Fáil TD Sean Haughey said people “are genuinely afraid to travel on the DART at certain times of the day and at weekends”.
• Trump set to visit Ireland early next month. US President Donald Trump will visit Ireland early next month when he travels to the UK for a State visit and France for a war commemoration, sources familiar with his plans said. Mr Trump is expected to use Doonbeg, his Co. Clare golf resort, as a base from where he will attend the D-Day anniversary in Normandy.
• More low-weight babies being born. An increasing number of Irish babies are being born with low birth weight, putting them at increased risk of health issues during life, a major international study shows. The proportion of Irish babies born with low birth weight grew from 4.9 per cent in 2000 to 5.9 per cent in 2015 against international trends according to the study published in The Lancet Global Health. Irish figures are rising at a rate exceeded only by Czechia among higher income countries.
• Trump’s mooted visit to Ireland in doubt. Disagreement over the location of a possible meeting between US President Donald Trump and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has thrown a potential visit to Co. Clare by Mr Trump into doubt. Disagreement has emerged over protocol issues. The Taoiseach’s preference is to meet Mr Trump in Co. Clare. Irish officials are reluctant to meet the US President in his golf course in Doonbeg. Instead the Government has pressed for a meeting in another location preferably Dromoland Castle, located 50 km away.
General News (continued)
• Taoiseach announces financial aid for Farmers. A €100 million aid package for Ireland’s beef farmers, (hit by Brexit uncertaintly) jointly funded by the European Commission and the Government will “flow to farmers in the next couple of months” according to An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
Business and Economy
• Dublin employment reaches record levels. Dublin’s economy is booming according to a new survey with employment at record levels in the fourth quarter of 2018. The 17th edition of the Dublin Economic Monitor showed unemployment was at 4.9 per cent, its lowest rate since the fourth quarter of 2007 with more than 700,000 people in work. A total of 25,000 people were added to the labour force in 2018.
• Ireland’s state spending most efficient in OECD. Ireland comes top of the league in terms of the efficiency of its public spending according to a new study of 36 countries from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development that placed the State at the top of its rankings between 2013-2017.
• €5bn Broadband net worth €350m – Bruton. The completed National Broadband Plan network to 540,000 rural homes may be worth less than €350 million as an asset despite costing €5 billion of State funding to build, according to Communications Minister Richard Bruton.
• Immersive VR Education expands into South Korea. VR Education has taken its first steps into the Asian market through an agreement with D'Carrick, a South Korean immersive digital content company The deal is worth €70,000 a year to the Waterford-based group over a three year period. It provides VR Education with an important entry point into the South Korean education market for its ‘Engage’ platform. The platform, which the group launched in December last year, can be used in schools, universities, and corporate training to teach subjects in a virtual reality environment. Meanwhile, D'Carrick uses technologies to create educational programmes for the South Korean education system, providing continuous innovation across various VR and AR platforms. Under the terms of the deal, D’Carrick will roll out the ‘Engage’ platform to a set number of students in South Korea, with additional fees should it exceed this number. In addition, it will resell the platform, with 30 per cent of revenue from sales going to VR Education.
David Whelan, CEO of VR Education, said: "Our goal is to transform the future of education globally by implementing new methods and techniques to make learning available to everyone, everywhere.” “South Korea is a proven world leader when it comes to education and D'Carrick's adoption of our Engage platform as a tool to provide education is a welcome first step in the Asian market.
• Dublin Airport passenger numbers up 7%. Passenger traffic through Dublin Airport last month rose 7 per cent to 2.8 million according to figures released by DAA. Almost 1.5 million inbound and outbound passengers were on flights from continental Europe, an increase over the same month last year of 9 per cent. UK passenger traffic was up 2 per cent to 877,000 while transatlantic numbers rose 16 per cent to 344,000 said the DAA.