Friday, September 13, 2013

Oxfam Report on Austerity, Poverty, Inequality

Hard Talk from Oxfam

Oxfam have issued a report on austerity in Ireland which states that the country will most probably experience a rise in inequality, poverty, and emigration.

The report stated that the austerity programmes; “bear a striking resemblance to the ruinous structural adjustment policies imposed on Latin America, South-East Asia, and sub-Sahara Africa in the 1980s and 1990s”.

It states in a dire warning that “left unchecked, these measures will undermine Europe’s social gains, creating divided countries and a divided continent, and entrenching poverty for a generation”.

Some Stated Statistics

  • The report states that in 2011 there were some 120 million people in the EU were in the poverty trap and the figure could rise by a further 25 million.
  • Women will be the hardest hit by austerity.
  • The report projects an erosion of Trades Unions, collective bargaining, and workplace rights. This will further add to the already established trend in poverty among working people.
  • Cuts to public services will result in people losing their jobs,
  • At the same time voluntary institutions that support people in times of hardship will be weakened or even shut down through declining funding.
  • It could take between 10 – 25 years for poverty to return to pre-2008 levels.

Some alternative strategies suggested by Oxfam;

  • Invest in people and economic growth.
  • Invest in public services.
  • Strengthen institutional democracy.
  • Tax fairly

The Oxfam report also suggested:

  • That the EU needs to tackle unsustainable European public debt
  • Address major flaws in the EU financial system
  • That citizens of Europe ... need to increase their political engagement in order to influence government policy.
  • We need to change course to avoid a lost European decade.

Regarding Ireland

Oxfam’s report on Ireland says that although the programme for recovery is ahead of target, the austerity measures “have had a devastating impact on people already struggling with rising unemployment and levels of indebtedness”.

The report said that the poorest are hit hardest by the recession, with a “shocking array of welfare cuts and tax increases” being introduced since 2008 “that have driven more and more people into debt and poverty”.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Solid Fuel Stoves


Solid Fuel Stoves
What's up
This Winter?

I had a brief check on what is moving in the world of multi-fuel stoves for this coming winter. One new comer is the County Kerry made Firebird brand range of high output inset stoves.

While not in the running to win a stove beauty competition, at least on the outside, Firebird have managed to squeeze up to 81% efficiency and a very impressive output from stoves designed to fit into most fireplace openings. 

The Firebird stoves come in two sizes: 16” and 18” with nominal outputs of 12Kw and 16Kw.

The 18” stove has a rated output to water and radiators of up to 12.1 Kw with up to 3.6 Kw of the heat output going directly by convection into the room.

These are very impressive figures indeed for such modest size stoves. I had a very brief look at construction. The boiler is standard steel construction. What impressed me was the door construction and the baffling. The quality of build looks very high with the use of stainless steel in the door.

These impressive performance figures however do not come without a price tag they are priced at approximately €1,350 and €1,650 respectively.

If your budget can stretch, these Firebird inset stoves are worth looking at. Not cheap, and they will require some fittings and a fair bit of work to install properly.

The Blacksmith Anvil 6Kw free standing stove is still on the go, and a favourite. It has stood the test of time. I have owned a Blacksmith Anvil for 3 years and it is as good as the day I bought it. It can pump out the heat effortlessly.

Three years ago I paid €400 for it, today it is just a little more expensive at €455. In the meantime it has had an improved firebox liner fitted which justifies some of the price increase, and since I bought it there has also been a bump up in the VAT further adding to the price.

The Olymberyl Gabriel sold by the same company as Horse Flame offers a quite similar stove to the Blacksmith Anvil at the slight cheaper price of €399. Horse Flame have turned out some nice quality cast stoves.

An inset stove by the same makers rated at 5Kw and nicely cast is the Olymberyl Gabriel Inset costing quite a reasonable €595.

I was looking at these stoves at McElligotts Castleisland Co. Kerry, and the prices I have indicated are as marked in the store on the day I visited - these may have changed in the meantime.

The trend in Ireland is that more and more people are turning to solid fuel stoves as a primary heat source.


Thursday, September 05, 2013

Ireland Debt Time Bomb


Ireland's Debt 

The Irish Government is poised to introduce further financial hardship in another coming budget, while at the same time a massive debt time-bomb is ticking. When it goes off it will, no doubt, inflict massive social as well as financial damage.

The time bomb?  Some 20% of mortgages are in serious arrears. Additionally some 20% of personal loans at Credit Unions throughout the country are also in arrears.

I worry for the immediate future.