Irish pine martens help red squirrels


This 2013 Irish TV video is called Red Squirrels | The Secret Life of the Shannon | RTÉ Goes Wild.

From the National University of Ireland Galway:

Red squirrels making comeback as return of pine marten spells bad news for invasive grey squirrel

NUI Galway study finds Ireland’s native species recovering and returning to natural habitats

June 17, 2020

The number of red squirrels is on the increase in Ireland thanks to the return of the pine marten, a native carnivore, a new survey led by NUI Galway has found.

The new findings indicate that the return of the red squirrel is due to the decrease in the number of grey squirrels, which compete with them for food and carry a disease that is fatal to the native species. The re-emergence of the pine marten, which had previously almost disappeared in Ireland, is linked to the local demise of the greys.

High densities of pine martens were found in areas — particularly the midlands — where grey squirrels had disappeared, with red squirrel numbers recovering in many of these areas indicating that they are capable of sharing habitat with the native carnivore, unlike grey squirrels. In urban areas, such as Dublin and Belfast, the grey squirrel continues to thrive.

Grey squirrels were introduced to Ireland early in the twentieth century, and had spread to cover the eastern half of the island. As a result, the red squirrel range had contracted over several years and the native species was struggling to survive.

The citizen science survey, a cross-border collaboration with the Ulster Wildlife and Vincent Wildlife Trust led by NUI Galway, detected significant changes in the ranges of squirrels and pine martens particularly in the midlands and Northern Ireland.

Dr Colin Lawton of the Ryan Institute, NUI Galway said: ‘This study brought together colleagues from institutions all across the island, and this collaborative approach gives us a full picture of the status of these three mammals in Ireland. We are delighted with the response from the public, who were enthusiastic and showed a wealth of knowledge of Ireland’s wildlife. It is great news to see two native species recovering and doing well.’

The report on the survey makes recommendations to ensure that the red squirrel and pine marten continue to thrive, with further monitoring required to allow early intervention if conservation at a local or national level is required.

Dr Lawton added: ‘We encourage our citizen scientists to continue to log their sightings of Irish wildlife on the two national database platforms. Our collective knowledge is a powerful tool in conservation.’

The survey used online platforms provided by the National Biodiversity Data Centre (RoI) and Centre for Environmental Data and Recording (NI) to develop the data. It was funded by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Badger family in Ireland, video


This 29 April 2020 video from Northern Ireland says about itself:

Wildlife is thriving at the places cared for by the National Trust and during lockdown, with fewer people around, some creatures are taking a chance to enjoy themselves. Take a look at this badger family at Mount Stewart, having an evening outing. It’s thanks to your support that we can continue to look after these special places.

Irish COVID-19 solidarity with Navajo nation, USA


This 5 May 2020 video from Ireland says about itself:

Ireland Owes A Blood Debt To The Choctaw Nation – Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund

In 1847, the Choctaw Nation provided $170 of relief aid to the Irish to help them (today that is the equivalent of $5,000). Not long before the Great Hunger Famine in Ireland, 60,000 Native Americans, including the Choctaw people, had suffered through the experience of the Trail of Tears. The death of many people on the Trail of Tears sparked empathy for the Irish people in their time of need. Thus, the Choctaw extended $170 of relief aid.

Now it is Ireland’s turn to repay this amazing generosity by helping to combat Covid-19 and aid the descendants of the Choctaw Nation, Navajo & Hopi by giving what we can to repay the kindness shown to us and our ancestors before us.

Although oceans apart we are Brothers and Sisters in the historic struggle for freedom we have faced. Now is the time to renew the bonds of friendship between our people as we face this global pandemic.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 6 May 2020:

Irish donors raise £2m in Covid relief for Native Americans inspired by solidarity during the Great Hunger

NEARLY $2.5 million (£2m) has been raised for Native Americans from Irish donors inspired by the solidarity shown to them by the Najavo nation during the 1847 Gorta Mor (Great Hunger).

A GoFundMe page was set up for the Navajo Nation and Hopi Reservation, which has one of the highest per-capita rates of Covid-19 infections in the US.

A high percentage of the nation’s 175,000 population falls into at-risk categories.

From Esquire magazine in the USA:

Somehow, the news reached the Choctaw people who, only 16 years earlier, had been marched from their ancestral lands across the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma. Thousands of them died along the way, many from starvation. In 1847, from their meager finances, the Choctaw raised $170—the equivalent of $5,000 in today’s money—for Irish famine relief. Only fairly recently has this story been brought to light, and a lovely memorial was built in honor of the Choctaw people’s generosity in Midleton, in County Cork.

Memorial in Middleton

This photo shows that memorial in Middleton.

Now, it seems, the Irish have chosen to repay that old debt by coming to the aid of this country’s native peoples. From The Independent:

Over 70 people have died with Covid-19 in the Navajo Nation, which lies across parts of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. Navajo and Hopi families set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for food, water, essential supplies and personal protective equipment, which has raised more than $1.6m (£1.3m). Several donations came from Ireland, inspired by the help provided by the Choctaw Nation tribe during the Great Famine.

One of the campaign’s organisers, Vanessa Tulley, wrote: “The heartache is real. “We have lost so many of our sacred Navajo elders and youth to Covid-19. It is truly devastating. And a dark time in history for our Nation. “In moments like these, we are so grateful for the love and support we have received from all around the world. Acts of kindness from indigenous ancestors passed being reciprocated nearly 200 years later through blood memory and interconnectedness. Thank you, Ireland, for showing solidarity and being here for us.”

A massive humanitarian crisis. A criminally neglectful and inhumane central government.

Baby perch swimming in Ireland, video


This 30 March 2020 video from Ireland says about itself:

These fish are so small that we call them fingerlings because they are about the size of a human’s little finger. The fish are newly hatched perch babies, and they are hiding out amongst aquatic vegetation in the water to avoid being caught and eaten by a predatory fish or a wading bird such as a heron. These are beautiful baby fish to watch swimming.

River lampreys back in river after century


This 18 April 2016 video from Ireland says about itself:

First River Lamprey Lampetra fluviatilis spawning activity we observed in 2016: Castleconnell, Lower River Shannon. Also note that there is a Brook Lamprey L. planeri getting involved! Unfortunately, water quality problems also apparent in these photos. River Lampreys are listed under Annex II and V of the Habitats Directive. The Lower River Shannon is designated as a SAC for the three Irish lamprey species.

Translated from Waterschap Rijn en IJssel in Gelderland province in the Netherlands, 12 March 2020:

The start of the migration and spawning season for fish is a good time to see how many and which fish use the fish passage at Doesburg. The first results are promising: many roaches, ides and even river lampreys are using the passage through swimming from the IJssel to the Oude IJssel. River lampreys have not been seen in the Oude IJssel for 100 years.

The fish passage was taken into use last September and connects the Oude IJssel to the Gelderse IJssel. Due to the great height differences of these rivers, up to five meters, the fish passage in Doesburg is one of the largest and most innovative in the Netherlands.

Irish election yesterday, vote counting already


This 9 February 2020 video says about itself:

Politics in Ireland seems on the brink of a momentous shift.

In its general election, Sinn Fein has won a surge in support.

Exit polls have the left-wing nationalist party matching the vote share of the two main parties.

It would bring a party previously on the fringes to prominence as Al Jazeera’s Paul Brennan reports.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Ireland’s election indicates big changes ahead

EXIT polls in the election to the Dáil Éireann indicate a surge in support for the left-of-centre Sinn Fein, mainly at the expense of the two right-wing parties that have dominated the Irish Republic’s politics for 70 years and more.

The electoral system for the Dublin parliament’s lower house is based on a Single Transferable Vote in multi-member constituencies. As a result, it produces an elected chamber which broadly reflects the preferences of the voters, including support for smaller parties such as Solidarity — People Before Profit and the Labour Party.

But the multiple counts also mean that all the results may not be in for a day or two yet, while close margins between the main parties are likely to result in extensive horse-trading before a governing coalition can be formed.

In any event, the electors have spoken and made clear their concerns about the dire social problems which persist in one of Europe’s fastest-growing economies.

Ireland’s complex health system cannot cope with the growing number of patients, as hundreds lie on trolleys in emergency departments because there are fewer hospital beds now than 10 years ago. The introduction of a part-free, part-fee National Health Service alongside a large private sector has so far failed to meet people’s aspirations and they are punishing Fine Gael Taoiseach Leo Varadkar accordingly.

Next on the list of popular concerns is housing and homelessness. The economic fallout of the 2007-8 financial crash hit the Irish Republic particularly hard and was made all the worse by the drastic austerity cuts demanded in 2010 by the EU Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Housebuilding came to a halt and the scarce supply has doubled house prices in Dublin and other urban centres. With little public and social sector housing available, private landlords are making a killing. Sinn Fein and Labour propose a rent freeze, which the chief opposition party Fianna Fail claims would be “unconstitutional”, while Varadkar’s Fine Gael merely freezes.

Other issues to emerge at the hustings before Saturday’s vote were pensions, the reformed water industry and — to the clear benefit of the Green Partyclimate change.

But it is the near-doubling of support for Sinn Fein which is grabbing the headlines in Britain as well as Ireland.

The party fought the Dail Eireann elections on a manifesto radical enough to draw condemnation from the Irish Business and Employers Confederation. IBEC fears the prospect of the rich and big business paying higher taxes to fund public-sector investment in housing and childcare and restoration of the state pension age to 65.

Nor was the party shy about Irish unity. While most southern Irish politicians prefer to stay silent on the question, proposals for an all-island Citizens Assembly and north and south referendums comprised the lead item in Sinn Fein’s manifesto.

Nor did Giving workers & Families a break — A Manifesto for Change pull many punches when it came to the European Union. It opposed the EU trade deals which undermine democracy, workers’ rights and environmental security and condemned Irish participation in new EU and Nato military structures, while pledging to restore Irish sovereignty in foreign policy and defence affairs.

How this can be achieved by “radically reforming” the EU was not spelt out.

Nonetheless, with polls putting Sinn Fein far ahead of the other parties among young people and Brexit demonstrating the logic of Irish reunification — as former leader Gerry Adams said it would — the party’s future looks brighter today.

Whichever Dublin government emerges from the horse-trading, the issues raised by Sinn Fein — and the Communist Party of Ireland — are not going away anytime soon.

From RTE.ie in Ireland, already on 9 February: Sinn Féin wins more than 20 seats as big names falter.

SINN FEIN President Mary Lou McDonald said today that she was trying to form a “people’s government” with the support of smaller parties after Saturday’s momentous general election in Ireland. She described the “historic” results, which saw Sinn Fein top the polls with 24.5 per cent of all votes, despite standing just 42 candidates, as a “revolution” in Irish politics: here.

Elections in unequal Ireland


This 3 February 2020 video from Ireland says about itself:

Sinn Féin MLAs Caoimhe Archibald, Philip McGuigan and Declan McAleer are to put a motion to the Stormont Assembly calling on it to declare a Climate Emergency.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Sinn Fein surge into lead ahead of Saturday’s general election

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald speaks at a press conference at Wynn's Hotel in Dublin, on Sunday

SINN FEIN’S dramatic upsurge in Ireland has continued, with polls putting the left-wing republican party ahead for the first time going into Saturday’s general election, while Taoiseach Leo Varadkar faces the boot.

His Fine Gael party – which has its origins in Ireland’s fascist Blueshirts – trails in third place on 20 points, behind the opposition conservative Fianna Fail, standing at 23 per cent.

Sinn Fein is now in first place on 25 points, according to Monday night’s Irish Times poll.

Both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael have ruled out entering a coalition with the republicans, who entered the election campaigning for a border poll on a united Ireland. Statistics show support for reunification within both loyalist and nationalist communities. A Times of London survey published on Sunday suggested that 80 per cent of residents favour a united Ireland.

A chronic housing shortage and chaos in the health service have also been key issues in the election campaign.

While the strong showing may not translate into seats for Sinn Fein in Saturday’s vote, it will increase pressure for a referendum on a united Ireland as laid out in the Good Friday Agreement.

By Dermot Byrne:

Social inequality main issue in the Irish general election

6 February 2020

The general election in the Republic of Ireland takes place February 8. There are 531 candidates running to fill 159 seats across 39 constituencies. The election campaign takes place in conditions of immense anger felt by working people against Leo Varadkar’s outgoing right-wing Fine Gael Party.

Varadkar’s government has been kept in power over the past four years with the cooperation of Fianna Fáil, the main opposition bourgeois nationalist party. Under the leadership of Micheál Martin, Fianna Fáil signed on to a “confidence and supply” agreement with Fine Gael has fuelled resentment against the entire political establishment.

Growing social inequality, declining living standards culminating in the worst housing crisis in the country’s history, and a severe deterioration in the healthcare system and major aspects of social care stand alongside a concentration of extreme wealth in the hands of very few individuals.

A new study by the charity Oxfam has shown that the Republic of Ireland has the fifth largest number of billionaires relative to its population of any country in the world. Ireland is mirroring the global trend in wealth inequality with only Hong Kong, Cyprus, Switzerland, and Singapore having more billionaires per capita.

For the past three weeks, the central issues have been homelessness and the housing crisis along with the scandal of patients forced to wait on trolleys in overcrowded and understaffed hospitals.

There has been a public outcry at the introduction of measures to raise the state pension eligibility age from 66 to 68 years. It was already increased in 2014 from 65 to 66, but under the terms of the bank bailout conditions imposed by the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund in 2011, the then Fine Gael/Labour government legislated to raise the pension age in three stages by 2028 to 68. This has inflicted significant hardship. Workers contracted to retire at 65 now find themselves forced to sign onto unemployment benefits for a year after working all their lives. …

The working class, as well as bearing the consequences of crumbling public services, has seen a general deterioration in its quality of life. Figures published recently show that Irish workers have seen their living standards plummet by 14 percent since the banking and financial crash of 2008.

Workers often find they must travel in congested traffic conditions a hundred miles or more to get to work in the major cities and larger towns. Ireland has the highest childcare costs in Europe and a soaring crime rate that is the product of growing inequality and an oppressive class system.

While official figures put the number of homeless people at 10,000, this does not include young people, many with children, who have been forced into living with their parents because of spiralling rents. …

Indicating the level of disaffection with both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael and a radicalisation amongst broad sections of workers, the latest opinion polls show Sinn Féin winning more support than any other party. Sinn Féin are now potentially the largest party with 25 percent support against Fianna Fáil on 23 percent and Fine Gael on 20 percent, although their low number of candidates, 42, means they are unlikely to be the largest grouping in the next Dáil Éireann. …

Liberal commentator Fintan O’Toole mused on the utility of this in the Irish Times in a piece titled, “It is time for Sinn Féin to come in from the cold.”

O’Toole noted that the decision of the Labour Party to enter government with Fine Gael in 2011, in the aftermath of the financial crisis, to assist imposing crushing austerity on the working class destroyed the Labour Party. It meant that “Sinn Féin would occupy the space where a traditional social democratic party should be.” …

Richard Boyd Barrett, the leader of the PBP/Solidarity Alliance with five TDs, has reassured those who vote for them that they “will not prop up a Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael dominated government,” but would seek “a broad left alliance to form a government” including Sinn Féin, the Greens and the Labour Party.

Sectarian attempted murder of Irish folk musicians


This 11 June 2020 video about Ireland is called The Wolfe Tones’ rebel song Come Out Ye Black And Tans hits number one on UK iTunes charts.

This 2017 folk music video is called The Wolfe Tones – Come Out Ye Black And Tans.

This blog has noted before that German secret police targets punk rock music. And that British police targets punk rock music. And that British police bans rock band Babyshambles because some parts of their songs are slow and others are fast. And that British police ban Jamaican music.

However, ‘targeting’ sometimes goes further than spying or banning. Sometimes, it is targeting for murder.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Irish rebel musicians Wolfe Tones targeted by loyalist paramilitaries linked to British intelligence

IRISH rebel musicians the Wolfe Tones have said that they escaped a planned attack by a notorious loyalist paramilitary group backed by British intelligence services in the 1970s.

Singer Brian Warfield explained that before playing a gig in 1975 the band were told their lives were at risk from the Glenanne Gang — a group of police officers, serving British soldiers and members of the Ulster Volunteer Force responsible for about 120 deaths between 1972 and 1980.

The concert was at a Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club outside Kileel in County Down. The band were told by the GAA committee not to go for a pre-concert drink in the pub as “the RUC and the UDR were drinking in the front bar.”

“After the gig I came out and the organisers said to me: ‘You can’t go home [by] the main road,’ Mr Warfield said on the Blindboy podcast.

“I said: ‘Why is that?’ and he said: ‘Because there is a blockade waiting for you down there’.”

The concert organisers instead took the band over the mountains of Mourne, whence they made their way back to Dublin.

“The day we got back to Dublin the [police’s] special branch said that the Wolfe Tones were not to go north again, that our lives were in danger.

“I believe that the Glenanne Gang were drinking in that front bar … getting locked out of their mind, ready to pick up the Wolfe Tones on the way home.”

In July 1975 members of the Miami Showband — one of Ireland’s biggest bands — were gunned down after a bomb attack at a bogus roadblock went wrong.

Lead singer Fran O’Toole, guitarist Tony Geraghty and trumpeter Brian McCoy were killed, along with two members of the Glenanne Gang: Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville, who died when their bomb exploded prematurely.

MIAMI SHOWBAND bassist Stephen Travers has vowed to continue the fight for justice after British intelligence papers finally confirmed the involvement of Captain Robert Nairac in the murder of three band members in 1975: here.

Pine marten help Northern Irish red squirrels


This August 2006 video says about itself:

Native pine martens seen in the forest near to Aspenwood Holiday Cottage overlooking Loch Ness in the Highlands of Scotland. For more information on the cottage and wildlife in the area visit www lochnesscottage.com.

From the British Ecological Society:

Northern Ireland’s recovering pine marten population benefits red squirrels

But the urban red squirrel poses a problem

December 13, 2019

The recovery of pine marten in Ireland and Britain is reversing native red squirrel replacement by invasive grey squirrels, according to new research presented at the British Ecological Society’s annual meeting in Belfast today.

Researchers at Queens University, Belfast and National Museums Northern Ireland have found red squirrels are responding positively to the increased presence of pine martens across Northern Ireland. So, where pine martens occur, it increases the chances of red squirrels occurring, simultaneously reducing the likelihood of grey squirrels being present.

Historically, persecution of pine marten and loss of their preferred habitat led to severe declines across Ireland and Britain. In Northern Ireland, small, remnant populations were all that remained, but today, the species is recovering, and this comeback may help ensure the long-term future of the red squirrel in Ireland.

Joshua Twining, who will be presenting the research at the conference, commented: “the red squirrels’ ‘positive response’ is likely due to grey squirrel disappearance rather than red squirrels and pine martens working together.” Pine martens eat both red and grey squirrels, though the key difference is that red squirrels have evolved alongside pine martens over millennia, making them able to coexist.

Twining said, “The ability of the pine marten to control the grey squirrel and help red squirrel recovery in Ireland and Britain is limited by three things; its ongoing recovery, the lack of forest cover on the island and the presence of urban areas. Twining and co-authors suggest that grey squirrels will persist in the latter as results show pine marten are forest specialists and avoid urban areas.

Although the red squirrel population is increasing in Northern Ireland, the researchers warn that “unless the issue of control within populated areas is addressed, we risk creating a situation where marten-savvy grey squirrels could recolonise the wider landscape in the future.”

Consequently, as the pine marten “does not occupy urban areas anywhere within its European range, it is not likely to be the sole solution to the invasive grey squirrel” said Twining.

If pine marten are to extend their positive impact on red squirrels, issues impeding pine marten recovery need to be addressed. At present, Ireland and Britain are among the least forested countries in Europe with only 11% and 13% of forest cover respectively. The pine martens’ sphere of influence is limited to its forested havens. Increasing forest cover would lead to concurrent increases in the pine marten’s ability to control grey squirrels and aid in recovery of the red squirrels.

Recovery of the pine marten could be further compounded by the potential of illegal persecution by a human population not used to its presence. Conflict could occur when pine martens predate on poultry or den in attics for example. Pine martens are still at the early stages of recovery, and human persecution remains the greatest threat to the species.

The researchers used presence-absence data to calculate the likelihood of a species occurring in a location. To collect the data, citizen scientists deployed a camera trap at sites with a minimum of 5 ha forest cover for one week at randomly selected locations. The study used data from 332 sites across Northern Ireland covering all sizes and shapes of woodlands from inner-city Belfast to the Mournes, from the Glens of Antrim in the north to the Ring of Gullion in the south.

Multi-species models were used to estimate the probability of occupancy of arboreal mammals including the grey squirrels, red squirrels and pine martens throughout Northern Ireland. These models consider the effects of the interactions between species and their habitats. They combine information on the occurrence of an animal from the camera trap records with local habitat and environmental data accounting for imperfect detection.