One in five Israelis live in poverty

Two new reports released by the OECD reveal that serious inequalities are rife in Israeli society despite the resilience of its economy during the global recession.

The reports, released today, note that despite the fact that Israel had successfully weathered the global economic crisis there were severe weaknesses in the Israeli economy, particular with regard to its social welfare provisions. The reports also highlight the need for wide ranging reform of education in Israel.

Current legislation fails to protect whistleblowers

Transparency International(TI) have called for a "single clear law" to protect Irish whistleblowers in a report launched today. Speaking at the launch, TI Ireland director John Devitt said the Irish government "have failed to protect whistleblowers" and criticised the "patchwork" legislation currently in place. 

Living free and clean

Websites and movements such as the Freecycle Network and the Freeconomy community have created further interest in the concept of the gift economy and made living for free a distinct, if difficult, possibility, writes Joseph Galvin.

It doesn't look like much when you first open it up. A bland beige backdrop with a series of classifieds both looking for and offering a wide range of items. Toasters, sofas, cabinets, computer parts...all the usual suspects fill out the list. So far, so Buy and Sell. The difference is that everything is absolutely free.

Eight out of ten drivers favour zero tolerance on alcohol

83 per cent of Irish drivers think a zero per cent alcohol limit would be a good idea according to a recent survey by AXA Insurance. The survey, which was carried out across Europe, shows Ireland to be one of the most ardent supporters of the idea. In contrast, the average EU support for a zero per cent alcohol limit stood at 68 per cent. By Joseph Galvin. Additional reporting by Malachy Browne.

Irish NGO's launch aid information website

Dóchas, the umbrella group for Irish development non-governmental organisations (NGOs), has launched a website to provide information on how Irish aid agencies and the Irish government respond to emergencies. The 'How You Can Help' website takes on renewed importance in the wake of the current crisis in Haiti where an earthquake has claimed the lives of up to 50,000 people and left millions more homeless according to the Haitian Red Cross. 

Martin Mansergh, Michael Soden, Peter Matthews, Elaine Hutson, Paul Sommerville - Jan 13th 2010

Martin Mansergh (Minister of State for Department of Finance) was elected to the Dáil in 2007 after five years in the Seanad, Mansergh is a former civil servant who has been a key member of the Fianna Fáil party for many years. An ardent supporter of ex-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Mansergh has retained a strong sense of optimism throughout the financial crisis, stating: "We're not going to get anywhere by completely throwing overboard our self respect. We have achieved a tremendous amount in the past 20 years - they were the best 20 years in our history.

Brown's pedestal grows increasingly shaky

It is no exaggeration to state that many expect 2010 to be the final year of Gordon Brown's tenure as the Prime Minister of the UK. After a calamitous 2009, where week on week he seemed to flounder, flail and stumble on issue after issue, it seemed uncertain whether or not the embattled Prime Minister would lead his party into the upcoming general election. What is surprising is that his leadership has entered its first crisis a mere six days into the new year.

Unions sound warning cry

The public sector unions signalled their commitment to opposing Budget 2010 at an protest outside Dáil Eireann yesterday evening. Union leaders were highly critical of the recent Budget and of the government's recent attempts to, in their view, demonise the public service.


Welfare cuts will push people into debt

The social welfare cuts introduced in Budget 2010 will cause increased hardship for families on social welfare, according to leading charity and social advocacy groups. Social Justice Ireland (SJI) and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVP) have both been critical of the Budget in statements released on their respective websites, calling it "anti-family" and "very bad news".

Opposition derides Budget 2010's "failure of vision"

Opposition parties were highly critical of Minister of Finance Brian Linehan's Budget today, citing a lack of ambition as the main failure of his proposals. In a Budget typified by cuts to lower earners and welfare recipients, Lenihan claimed that “the worst is over” in relation to the economic downturn, but he did not institute any significant investment programmes in an effort to stimulate the economy.