Classifieds Advertise Archive Subscriptions Family Announcements Photos Digital Editions/Apps
Connect with us

Opinion

A more natural way to keep our food greener

Francis Farragher

Published

on

Getting soils to purify themselves.

Country Living with Francis Farragher

There was a time about a half generation back when we were all blissfully unaware of such topics as greenhouse gas emissions, slurry gas or the impact of carbon dioxide on our atmosphere and food.

Now a day won’t pass without some new contribution on all the stuff floating around in our atmosphere, apparently burning holes in our ozone layer, that protects us from the most harmful rays of the sun.

The deadliest of those gases from a human health point is hydrogen sulphide (H2S) that is produced in slurry tanks from a series of chemical reactions and that gets trapped under the crust of the liquid over the course of the winter.

When that crust is broken at the point of agitation the gas escapes into the immediate atmosphere with the inhalation of a lung full, enough to be fatal.

Farmers should have enough in their self-preservation instincts to steer clear of the slurry hazard but it continues to claim lives, year-in, year-out – what cannot be seen or scented can be the stealthiest of enemies.

On a more global level, the agriculture industry across the world is coming under increasing pressure to leave less of a carbon footprint from their food producing activities – in other words to produce less greenhouse gases that damage our atmosphere.

One of the biggest culprits to be identified over the past couple of decades has been Nitrous Oxide (N2O), a gas that is naturally present in the atmosphere but that increases in proportion to fertiliser/nitrogen use on farms.

The great ‘catch’ in all of this is that with the world population shooting up each year – we’re currently over the seven billion mark – the demand for food is going to grow and grow.

To meet that demand, farmers will have to produce more crops and animals and to do this they need to keep their farms highly fertile by applying higher rates of the basic nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorous and potash.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, agricultural emissions account for about 75% of their total N2O output, so now a huge chunk of research budgets has been allocated to try and come with some natural way of limiting the production of this substance.

Teagasc are currently involved in a European research project examining how some soil micro-organisms can naturally break down the nitrous oxide output from farms.

Scientists from Teagasc along with their counterparts in Scotland, Sweden and France have now discovered a family of soil microbes that can help to neutralise the impact of the nitrous oxide.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

CITY TRIBUNE

Trying to keep up with Zoom Council meeting

Dara Bradley

Published

on

Bradley Bytes – a sort of political column with Dara Bradley

Monday’s Galway City Council meeting, which took place on the video conferencing app, Zoom, was to last no more than one hour and 55 minutes.

Even though it was a remote meeting, three participants shared a room for it.

Mayor Mike Cubbard, Chief Executive Brendan McGrath, and Meetings Administrator, Gary McMahon, sat socially distanced in the Council Chamber at City Hall. Elected members, other staff and media tuned in remotely from their homes.

“Thank you, Mayor, just trying to keep up,” said a breathless Gary McMahon about two-and-a-half hours into the supposed two-hour meeting.

The delayed response was to a query from Mayor Mike as to whether Gary was okay. Moments of excruciating dead air filled the Zoom call before the reply came.

Gary wasn’t the only one finding it difficult to keep up, in fairness. But there were mitigating circumstances.

He was one of the three amigos – along with Mayor Mike and Brendan – in the same room, when it was informally agreed to extend the meeting beyond 115 minutes.

For his own safety and to comply with Covid-19 public health guidelines on social distancing, Gary left the Chamber, and dashed upstairs to his office to facilitate the remainder of the meeting. Mayor Mike stayed put and Brendan retired to his office.

After 15 minutes’ recess, with all three men marked safe and Zooming in from separate rooms, the meeting resumed, and it was easy to see why Gary McMahon was flummoxed.

Firstly, he’d forgotten to bring his rule book of Standing Orders upstairs with him. And elected members weren’t exactly helping either, with contradictory voting on whether to formally proceed with the meeting they had already informally agreed should proceed, in order to vote on whether it should proceed proper.

Before the break, Martina O’Connor (Green), called for the meeting to be stopped and adjourned until next Monday. Collette Connolly (Ind) agreed; the 115 minutes was up. John Connolly (FF) said okay but only if it went ahead in Leisureland, not on Zoom.

If three people could socially distance in a room to facilitate a Zoom call, 18 councillors plus staff could socially distance in a room that normally holds hundreds, he argued.

Brendan McGrath said the HSE advice was that physical meetings should not happen during lockdown and at a time when the UK variant was spreading fast.

Noel Larkin (Ind) wanted to keep going on Monday. John Connolly supported him.

The 115-minute time limit had passed when a vote was called. Gary McMahon said it couldn’t be taken because, by then, they were well over the health and safety time-limit for meetings. They adjourned.

On resumption, they voted on Larkin’s amendment to keep going. Twelve for; five against. The amendment carried and became the substantive motion, and they voted again on it. This time it passed 15 to one (Collette). Mike Crowe (FF), who voted against the first time, had left. Donal Lyons (Ind), Martina and her fellow Green Niall Murphy voted for the meeting to proceed, even though seconds earlier they had voted against it proceeding.

Confused? Finding it hard to keep up? Now you know how the Meetings Administrator felt.

(Photo: Meetings Administrator Gary McMahon)
For more Bradley Bytes, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

Continue Reading

Connacht Tribune

Decentralisation finally comes to pass almost two decades on

Avatar

Published

on

Remote working...a reality at last.

World of Politics with Harry McGee – harrymcgee@gmail.com

Back in December 2003, Minister for Finance Charlie McCreevy pulled off what looked like a sensational coup when he turned his Budget speech into a dramatic announcement on decentralisation.

McCreevy announced he was going to move the headquarters of most Government departments and some agencies out of Dublin and into the provinces – and with it, 10,300 public employees.

On Budget Day, his fellow Ministers made huge hay about departments and agencies coming to their constituencies.

Tom Parlon, the Offaly TD and OPW Minister at the time, organised posters to be erected all over his constituency proclaiming: “This is Parlon Country”.

The Departments of Defence and An Ghaeltacht both established larger presences in Galway; the OPW moved to Trim, Co Meath; the Department of Arts and Tourism mainly moved to Killarney; and the Road Safety Authority moved to Ballina.

But from early on there was resistance. Public service unions kicked up and demanded relocation money. Many Dublin-based public servants did not want to move, especially among the senior ranks.

There were skill deficits when people left specialist roles in Dublin to move down the country, or when they refused to leave, leaving the Department (now rural-based) without technical staff.

The scheme was a great one, but it was half-baked in that it was sprung on everybody by surprise without thinking through all the consequences.

McCreevy might have been better introducing it more gradually and with more consultation (even though with the public service that can take many years, and drive you to the madhouse).

Still, thousands of public servants were able to move into rural Ireland, into provincial cities and towns because of it.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Continue Reading

Connacht Tribune

Luckless Kenny needs breaks as Irish football in a bad state

John McIntyre

Published

on

Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny who is still seeking his first win after eight matches in charge.

Inside Track with John McIntyre

The past few years have been tough times for Irish football – on and off the field. The FAI, the sport’s beleaguered administrators (or should I say administrator given John Delaney’s long-time staggering grip on power) was something of a basket case as the Association stands rightfully accused of neglecting the game’s grassroots.

On the field, the Republic of Ireland have continued to suffer an unchecked decline in fortunes – highlighted by that 5-1 home humiliation against Denmark in the second leg of the World Cup play-off in November of 2017. They subsequently missed out on qualification for Euro 2020 when losing on penalties to Slovakia last October.

Ireland have plummeted down the world rankings – they are currently trailing in 42nd position, behind the likes of Algeria and Australia, with little prospect of a significant revival in the medium term. Who’d want to be their manager in such circumstances? Unfortunately, Stephen Kenny has drawn the short straw in this regard.

And because the Dubliner is a home-grown boss of the international team, he was never going to be cut the same slack as his immediate predecessors, Martin O’Neill, whose innate tactical conservatism and spikey manner did him no favours towards the end of his reign, and Mick McCarthy, whose latest managerial stint in Cyprus barely lasted a couple of months.

Delaney had conjured up a convoluted succession plan where Kenny would leave his Ireland U20 post to take over from McCarthy after the Euro qualifiers, but Covid intervened leaving Kenny to salvage the Republic’s campaign. Unfortunately, he can’t buy a break in the job and the pressure is mounting.

The coronavirus disrupted his team selection on several occasions, while injuries were no help either. The bare facts are that Kenny has been in charge of eight matches, but is still seeking his first victory. Furthermore, Ireland have only managed a solitary goal in that time which must be an all-time low.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Continue Reading

Local Ads

Local Ads

Advertisement

Weather

Weather Icon
Advertisement

Facebook

Advertisement

Trending