← Older posts Newer posts →

Fermanagh fracking fight perhaps a taste of things to come

Posted on by Will Goodbody

The government here has asked the EPA to carry out a study into fracking

The government here has asked the EPA to carry out a study on fracking

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent

@willgoodbody

In Belcoo, County Fermanagh opponents of fracking must be collectively exhaling. Over the past few months they took on Goliath. And yesterday they won – for now at least.

For months protests had been building there against an application by energy company Tamboran Resources to drill a fracking exploratory bore hole. Fracking involves the cracking open of deeply buried shale rock using high pressure fluid, which in turn releases gas that is then brought to the surface.

Tamboran estimates there could be up to £20bn worth of gas in the area around the border between Fermanagh and Leitrim. The problem is, however, the only way to get the gas out is from the northern side of the border, because fracking licences are currently not being issued by the government here while an in-depth study is being carried out.

Tamboran wanted to explore how much gas is under the ground there, by drilling a 750m deep hole in a quarry near Belcoo. It wasn’t planning to carry out fracking – just do some tests.

Continue reading

Three reasons to look to the stars

Posted on by Will Goodbody

A supermoon rises next to the ancient Greek temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, some 65 kilometers south of Athens.

A supermoon rises next to the ancient Greek temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, some 65 kilometers south of Athens

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent

@willgoodbody

It’s been an exciting week for star-gazers, with the remarkable rendez-vous between the European Space Agency’s Rosetta probe and comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. For a man-made object to travel 6 billion kilometres unscathed around the solar system over a decade and still manage to catch and begin orbiting a 4 kilometre target moving at 55,000 kmp/h is extraordinary. And happily, the best is yet to come, as Rosetta prepares to monitor and send a lander down onto the comet’s surface – unlocking, it’s hoped, wonderful secrets about life.

But back on Earth, the space fest is set to continue this weekend. Because Sunday and the early days of next week could end up being a super celestial showcase. According to the Irish Astronomical Association (IAA), on August 10th Ireland will enjoy its best SuperMoon until 2018, followed two days later by the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower and a great series of passes by the International Space Station.

Continue reading

Big banks back on the rise

Posted on by David Murphy

The billions poured Anglo and Irish Nationwide will never be seen again

The billions poured Anglo and Irish Nationwide will never be seen again

By Business Editor David Murphy

The country’s three biggest banks, AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank, released financial results this week. All three are making progress (thanks to bailouts from Irish and British taxpayers.)

There are some common themes across all three.

They are making profits, their margins are improving and the amount they are setting aside for bad loans is also declining.

That is good news for bank shareholders. The State owns 14% of Bank of Ireland and 99% of AIB.

Continue reading

The hard reality of the Irish software industry

Posted on by Will Goodbody

Around half of all software vacancies here are filled through inward migration

Around half of all software vacancies here are filled through inward migration

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent

@willgoodbody

Warnings about a skills shortage in the IT sector are nothing new. We’ve been hearing them for years now, mostly from the industry itself. Nor are they unique to Ireland. Because as the internet flourishes and technology becomes ubiquitous, the global demand for IT skills is rocketing, everywhere. Indeed the manpower shortage will be a little shy of 1 million people by the end of next year in Europe alone, according to a recent estimate from the European Commission.

But when an in-depth academic study of the software industry in Ireland finds the problem is so severe that thousands of new jobs set to be created by Irish based businesses over the coming months and years could end up in foreign countries, it’s worth taking note. Particularly at a time when unemployment remains close to 12%.

Continue reading

Can Noonan stay cautious over cuts?

Posted on by David Murphy

Michael Noonan has to decide the extent of cuts in Budget 2015

Michael Noonan has to decide the extent of cuts in Budget 2015

By Business Editor David Murphy

There is an interesting dynamic unfolding as the lobby groups bombard the Department of Finance with their demands regarding the upcoming Budget.

In some respects, there is a race to the bottom to recommend the smallest amount which might be needed in extra taxes and spending cuts. Continue reading

Five things we learned at ESOF 2014

Posted on by Will Goodbody

CERN DG Rolf-Dieter Heuer speaking to RTÉ News at ESOF

CERN DG Rolf-Dieter Heuer speaking to RTÉ News at ESOF 2014

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent, in Copenhagen

@willgoodbody

For those addicted to science, ESOF 2014 in Copenhagen was the perfect fix. For six days, the Danish capital was transformed into a city of science, attracting around 4,500 delegates from all over the world. There were hundreds of lectures, discussions, exhibitions, demonstrations and side events, on science itself, the policies underpinning it, the careers around it, the links to business and even the art the flows from it.

Science is all about discovery, and while at ESOF we found out many things over the course of the week. Among them:

1. CERN: Ireland seems to be inching closer to joining CERN – or at least that’s what the Director General of the European particle physics centre seems to think. On Monday, Rolf-Dieter Heuer told us he was seeing positive signals from Ireland about our possible membership. Of course, that may be optimistic thinking on his behalf. We’ll hopefully know more in the coming months, when the government review of Ireland’s membership of international scientific and research bodies is complete.

2. ERC: The EU’s main frontier research funding arm, the European Research Council, still thinks Irish scientists are not doing well enough when it comes to winning grants from it. The ERC levelled the same criticism at us two years ago when ESOF was in Dublin. But it seems, from the council’s perspective, little has changed in the interim. Interestingly its President, Professor Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, claimed part of the blame may lie with Ireland’s policy on science funding, which he suggested could be too heavily weighted towards research that yields jobs. That’s likely to be the feeling of scientists here, many of whom feel they are held back by our focus on commercialisation. Undoubtedly, the government would disagree.

3. Advisors: Until this week, the various chief scientific advisors to governments around Europe had never met formally. It’s hard to believe, isn’t it, given the pivotal role science and innovation plays in the European economy, and the key part the advisors would play in the event of a cross-border crisis? Like for example the contamination of beef products with horsemeat. This week they met for the first time at ESOF after Anne Glover, the European Commission’s first chief scientific advisor, finally managed to get the European Science Advisers’ Forum (ESAF) up and running. The idea is that it will lead to a more evidence based approach to scientific decisions taken in Europe. That can only be a good thing.

4. Museum: Dublin is badly missing a proper permanent venue where young and old can explore science, like the magnificent Experimentarium in Copenhagen. Dublin is fortunate to have the Science Gallery, which has small but excellent rolling exhibitions focused on the collision of science, innovation and art. But Dublin badly lacks a permanent centre of interactive scientific exploration, experimentation and discovery, like London’s Science Museum and Belfast’s W5.

5. Scientists love to party: Science is often unfairly labeled as being populated by boring nerds, who like nothing more than a quiet night in, with a good scientific journal, and a glass of fizzy water. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. And one of my abiding memories of ESOF 2014 will be seeing a conga line made up of around 150 scientists snaking its way around the Copenhagen venue where the official ESOF night party was taking place!

Bank inquiry hobbled before it begins

Posted on by David Murphy

leinster-houseIt is still some months before the bank inquiry will commence public hearings – but what we are learning about its scope and design gets worse by the week.

The latest blow is that the investigation won’t be able to probe Cabinet discussions on the night of the bank guarantee in September 2008. Continue reading

ESOF 2014: What to expect

Posted on by Will Goodbody

20140620-225051-82251686.jpg

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent

@willgoodbody

Robotic warfare. Big data. The Arctic. Drugs. Mining the Moon. Smart pills. Antibiotic resistance.

Just a tiny handful of the weighty topics that will be grappled with in Copenhagen over the coming week, as the Euroscience Open Forum (ESOF) 2014 gets underway.

Continue reading

Taxdodger News – Brussels edition

Posted on by Sean Whelan

The European Commission has tax policy in its sights

By Economics Correspondent Sean Whelan

The Brussels Economic Forum was on earlier this week: I was there hoping to hear ideas on how to refloat the European economy.

Meanwhile across the road, the European Commission opened a new front on Ireland’s corporate tax system. Continue reading

Netflix and the battle for net-neutrality

Posted on by Will Goodbody

Netflix is one of many companies opposed to an ending of net-neutrality

Netflix is one of many companies opposed to an ending of net-neutrality

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent

@willgoodbody

The latest monthly index from movie and TV streaming, Netflix, which ranks which Internet Service Providers (ISPs) it claims provide the best prime time Netflix streaming experience in Ireland, makes interesting reading. UPC came out top this time, rising three places since the last survey in April, with an average streaming speed of 3.01Mbps.

Netflix says it carries out the survey to provide “transparency and help consumers understand the Internet access they’re actually getting from their ISPs”. In reality, however, the naming and shaming (or carrot and stick depending on how you look at it) exercise is all part of Netflix’s strategy to get ISPs to up their game and provide more capacity on their networks, so that it can push its service out to more and more new customers, without any degradation of the picture and sound quality for existing users.

Continue reading

← Older posts Newer posts →