The house in Manor Street, Stoneybatter, Dublin 7 today (top) and in 2018 (above)

This afternoon.

Via The Irish Times:

William Garnermann has been prosecuted by the council and appeared at Dublin District Court on Tuesday when he took a hearing date.

He is accused of causing a nuisance by feeding feral pigeons at his home and its environs, on Manor Street, in Stoneybatter, Dublin 7. It is also alleged by feeding the wild birds he is encouraging the keeping of them at his home address.

He is being prosecuted under the Local Government (Sanitary Services) Acts and was summonsed to court by the council.

Man faces trial over nuisance pigeons in Stoneybatter (Irish Times)

Second pic: Emily O’Callaghan

Water meter installation in 2014

This afternoon.

The Social Democrats have tabled a Dáil Motion seeking to bring Irish Water under the remit of the Comptroller and Auditor General and calling on the Government ‘to commit to holding a referendum on the ownership of Irish Water’.

To wit:

That Dáil Éireann: recognises that:

Irish Water is a fully State funded entity; currently Irish Water does not fall under the remit of the Comptroller and Auditor General for financial oversight and audit purposes; serious concerns exist regarding the current operation of Irish Water; and the recent boil water notices, and the inadequate responses of Irish Water, have led to grave concerns for the sustainability of a safe water supply in the future.

We call on the Government to: amend the Comptroller and Auditor General (Amendment) Act 1993, to bring Irish Water under the auspices of the Comptroller and Auditor General making it amenable to all reporting guidelines and inspection and audit powers of that Office as provided for in the Act; and commit to the holding of a referendum on the pub lic ownership of Irish Water.

The party are contesting the upcoming by-elections in Dublin Mid-West and Fingal, both areas affected by the recent boil water notices.

Dublin West Soc Dem candidate Anne-Marie McNally said:

“The most recent boil water notices affecting parts of Lucan, Clondalkin and Palmerstown have just added to what has been a long running issue with the water supply to some of these areas. In recent years the water supply was changed from Ballymore Eustace to the Leixlip plant and for the past number of years residents have mounted a campaign to restore the original supply.

We now have issues with cloudy water, a strange smell from the water and a very unpalatable taste. Many people also talk about the impact on the damage that the water is causing to their home appliances.

People need to trust their water supply and until Irish Water is in public ownership, I just don’t think that we will be possible.”

Rollingnews

From top: CSO infographic on wage trends; Michael Taft

The CSO has published new data that will greatly assist in analysing wage trends. Here I just want to focus on a small selection of the data provided in Earnings Analysis Using Administrative Data Sources 2018 and Econometric Analysis of the Public / Private Sector Pay Differential 2018; in particular, high and low pay, and public / private sector pay.

A useful measurement that the CSO has produced is median pay. This measures the mid-point in wages where 50 percent are above and 50 percent below.

This contrasts with average, or mean, pay which can be skewered by high earners. For instance, in 2018:

Average weekly pay was €740

Median weekly pay was €593

Even though average pay was €740,63 percent of employees earned less than this. 50 percent of employees actually earned less than €593. That is the distinction between average and median.

Where are the High and Low Earners?

Information & communication leads the table which is not surprising. The mid point in weekly earnings is nearly €1,000, followed by the Public Administration and Financial sectors.

At the bottom is Wholesale & retail, Arts and recreation and, the lowest sector, Hospitality (hotels and restaurants). It should be noted that reduced working hours contribute to low weekly earnings.

For instance: Information & communication average weekly earnings are 3.6 times that of Hospitality However, Information & communication average hourly earnings are 2.5 times that of Hospitality

The difference is working hours. Information & communication average working hours are 36 hours per week compared to a Hospitality average of 27 hours.

We can identify high and low earners by sector. The following shows the percentage of workers earning less than €400 and more than €1,600 per week.

29 percent of all employees earn below €400 per week. However, over two-thirds of Hospitality workers earn below this amount while workers in the arts, distributive and administration sectors also have a disproportionate share of low earners.

At the other end we find the Information, Financial and Professional sectors had the highest percentage of employees earning more than €1,600.

There is one interesting sector – Public Administration. This is made up of civil servants, Gardai, prison officers, employees in non-commercial semi-states and agencies – approximately 100,000 employees. This sector is 100 percent public sector, unlike the Health and Education sectors where there is a considerable proportion of private sector workers.

While Public Administration had the second highest median weekly earnings, it had the lowest level of low-income earners. But it didn’t have a big proportion of high earners either.

This suggests a more ‘egalitarian’ pay structure; that is, the gap between the highest and lowest earners was smaller than other sectors. To test this suggestion, let’s turn to the CSO’s second release on the public / private pay differential.

Public and Private Sector Pay

Headline data shows public sector weekly earnings significantly exceeding private sector earnings.

But there are serious flaws in this headline comparison. First, there are many jobs in the private sector that don’t exist in the public sector – hospitality, retail, etc. Second, weekly earnings don’t take account of hours worked. Third, the comparisons are not like-for-like.

Thankfully, the CSO has performed an analysis which attempts to compare similar jobs in the public and private sector. This means factoring in a range of variables: gender, age, full-time/part-time status, supervisor status, temporary/permanent status, hours worked (including shift work and overtime), length of service with current employer, union membership and enterprise size.

When factoring in these variables, they compare permanent, full-time jobs for people aged between 25 and 59. This is what they found (a negative figure indicates that public sector pay is below their private sector counterpart).

The CSO uses two measurements – including and excluding enterprise size (as there is debate over how relevant that is). Overall, on a like-for-like basis, public sector pay is between 3 and 4 percent below the private sector.

Public sector men earn between 10 and 11 percent less than their private sector counterparts

Public sector women earn between 3 and 5 percent more

The result for women is understandable given that the gender pay gap is much less in the public sector. Eurostat shows that, in the Irish private sector, the gender pay gap was 19.7 percent; in the public sector the pay gap was less than half that at 9.6 percent.

In testing the proposition that the pay structure in the public sector is more equal than in the private sector, the CSO shows the following:

Here we find that the public sector has a premium for low and average income earners. In the lowest 10 percent, public sector wages are 13 percent higher than their private sector counterparts.

At the higher income levels, public sector employees earn 17 percent below their private sector counterparts. In short, the gap between the highest and lowest-paid is much narrower in the public sector.

* * * *

What can we draw from this selection of CSO data?

First, the level of working hours is an important contributor to low weekly earnings. 75,000 work part-time because they can’t find a full-time job. However, 200,000 work part-time because they have family and caring responsibilities.

Clearly, precarious contracts are an issue. But lack of social supports (in particular, childcare and eldercare) may limit people’s ability to take up more work.

Second, the public sector succeeds in reducing both inequality and the gender pay gap because their wage structure is ‘managed’ through collective bargaining. Collective bargaining is a key tool in reducing inequalities.

Greater employee-based management (through the right to collective bargaining) of wages throughout the economy could have a beneficial effect.

Reducing precariousness, increasing social supports, and wage management – if we are serious about a more equal society that can boost living standards, we will need to create policies to achieve these ends.

Michael Taft is a researcher for SIPTU and author of the political economy blog, Notes on the Front. His column appears here every Tuesday.

Rollingnews

Aoife Bennett

This afternoon.

A settlement has been reached in a case taken by Aoife Bennett, 26-year-old woman who developed the sleep disorder, narcolepsy, shortly after receiving the Pandemrix swine flu vaccine ten years ago.

Via RTÉ:

It was seen as a test case for up to 100 more and the court had been asked to determine if any or all of the defendants, including the vaccine maker and the State, were liable for damages.

The defendants in the case were GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals, the Health Service Executive, the Minister for Health and the Health Products Regulatory Authority, formerly the Irish Medicines Board.

All claims made in the case were denied and the settlement was made without admission of liability.

No orders were made against the HPRA or GSK.

Settlement reached in swine flu vaccine case (RTE)

Pic: RTE

Statement said Tadgh Kennedy on behalf of SOUND (Sufferers Of Unique Narcolepsy Disorder):

“We thank Aoife and the Bennett family for taking the first landmark case,”

However, we are disappointed that the State saw fit to fight the case in court.

Approximately 100 other children and young adults must now await the outcome of their own legal cases, which the State insists must be taken on an individual basis.

The State should ensure that this is not a long drawn-out legal process, causing further hardship.

From the start, the State’s response to what transpired has been painfully slow, and this remains a difficult and protracted process for the families involved.

Sound wants the State to fulfil the duty of care it is morally bound to provide to children and young adults who now have to move through life with Narcolepsy.

“he cost to the State of this action alone can be measured in millions.”

SOUND

Behold: the great tidal streams surrounding NGC 5907 – the Splinter or Knife Edge galaxy. But what manner of rogue-missile-trail-looking space nonsense is this? To wit:

The arcing structures form tenuous loops extending more than 150,000 light-years from the narrow, edge-on spiral […]. Recorded only in very deep exposures, the streams likely represent the ghostly trail of a dwarf galaxy – debris left along the orbit of a smaller satellite galaxy that was gradually torn apart and merged with NGC 5907 over four billion years ago. Ultimately this remarkable discovery image, from a small robotic observatory in New Mexico, supports the cosmological scenario in which large spiral galaxies, including our own Milky Way, were formed by the accretion of smaller ones. NGC 5907 lies about 40 million light-years distant in the northern constellation Draco.

apod

This morning.

St Kevin’s National School, Wicklow.

The National Broadband Plan contract being signed by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Minister Richard Bruton and National Broadband Ireland’s David McCourt among St Kevin’s sixth class students.

Pics: Merrion Street

Earlier….

From top: Denis O’Brien;  Minister for Communications Richard Bruton; Taoiseach Leo Varadkar with David McCourt; McCourt with former Minister for Communications Denis Naughten; Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy

Today.

It’s expected that the Minister for Communications Richard Bruton will bring a memo to Cabinet this morning, recommending that the contract from the National Broadband Plan is signed.

Further to this…

The Social Democrats is calling for a Dáil vote before the contract is signed.

TD Catherine Murphy, co-founder of the Social Democrats, writes:

“The National Broadband Plan carries an unprecedented risk for the State where the Government will hand over a huge amount of public funding, following a flawed process, to a private company for an asset that the State won’t own, with no guarantees in regard to value for money.

“Signing the contract could put the State in financial jeopardy.

“It is essential that the Dáil get to see the precise detail of what the Government is signing up to, and vote on it, prior to the Government giving away so much of the public money for what seems to be so little in the long term.

“How can the Government, on behalf of taxpayers, heavily subsidise infrastructure only to hand it over to private entity, who’s only concern will be profit margins.

“What will the eventual cost be to those who need broadband? To the State in subsidies?

“The broadband network is a vital national asset that will underpin our economy for the future. It is imperative that all people and businesses have access to reliable, high-speed broadband.

“But when the UK and Australia talk about re-nationalising their broadband networks in order to ensure that it is a public good accessible by everyone, surely it’s time to shout stop, and assess how we go about it properly here in Ireland.”

Meanwhile…

Hugh O’Connell, in the Irish Independent reports:

Fianna Fáil is set to effectively drop its opposition to the controversial €3bn National Broadband Plan (NBP) that will leave thousands of homes and businesses in rural Ireland waiting up to seven years for high-speed internet.

The opposition party has admitted that once Fine Gael signs the broadband contract, it may cost taxpayers even more by attempting to break it. The plan is being given final approval by ministers at a special early-morning Cabinet meeting today after it cleared the final regulatory hurdle with the European Commission last week.

National Broadband Ireland (NBI) has told the Government it will take an estimated seven years to roll out broadband to the 540,000 homes and businesses.

Stopping €3bn National Broadband Plan ‘could be even more expensive’ – FF (Irish Independent)

Previously: No Cause For Concern

UPDATE:

Richard Bruton tweetz:

Today is a historic day for rural Ireland. The government are signing the national broadband contract, which will bring high-speed broadband to the 1.1M people across Ireland who can’t get access.

This is the biggest investment in rural Ireland since rural electrification. It will ensure rural communities will not be left behind and will be guaranteed the same opportunities as urban areas.

Last night/This morning.

Mount Andrew Rise, Lucan, County Dublin.

Detectives believe it is likely the victim got into the car with a person or people he trusted and was driven to the place where his body was discovered.

The car appears to have been set on fire in an attempt to destroy evidence.

The man’s body has been removed from the scene and a post-mortem examination will be carried out…

Man found dead in burning car may have been shot (RTÉ)

Eamonn Farrell/Rollingnews