Tag Archives: Ireland

Rascals Bar Becomes An Edin-Burger

A Rascals Burger Credit: Jamie Anderson
A Rascals Burger Credit: Jamie Anderson

By Melissa Steel

A popular St. Andrews burger bar is due to make the move to Edinburgh next Thursday.

Rascals Bar will open a new branch on the premises of the former Aspen Bar on the city’s South Bridge. Its two year tenure in St. Andrews has seen it put sky-high burgers on the menu and host an undefeated eating challenge that has attracted The Daily Record and American champion eater Randy Santel.

Owner Jamie Anderson is enthusiastic about expanding his business. Anderson said: “Rascals Edinburgh will open almost two years to the day after we opened in St. Andrews. It has been a big success for us and the plan was always to expand. We were looking for somewhere else for a long time and we have finally found a good location.”

Although punters can expect the same American-style fare offered in St. Andrews, the Edinburgh bar will not serve Poppa’s Revenge, the mammoth meal that no one has been able to conquer yet. The 7,000 calorie feast includes five burgers, pulled pork, regular and sweet potato fries, spicy chicken wings and a milkshake.

Other bars in Edinburgh offer burger challenges, but Anderson said: “We will serve the same comfort food that we do in St. Andrews and have a good value drinks offer. There will be no Poppa’s Revenge in Edinburgh, though.” The decision came after Santel was defeated by Poppa’s Revenge last week. Anderson said: “I was really excited when Randy Santel took it on, but he failed. I really wanted him to do it. I think it dented people’s confidence.”

Peckish Edinburgh residents looking for a challenge should not be too disappointed. Anderson said: “We are going to make up something specific for Edinburgh and will probably pay homage to Poppa’s Revenge with a display in the bar.”

Rascals Edinburgh will also employ 15-18 people and is currently recruiting bar, waiting and kitchen staff as well as cleaners. Anderson is hopeful that they will be able to open on 5th December. Anderson said: “Everything is going okay just now, touch wood. We’ve had a really good response on Facebook and Twitter – Rascals Edinburgh already has over 1,000 likes and we have not even opened yet. It is a lot more than some of our competitors close by who have been around for years.”

In fact, Rascals Edinburgh has 1,155 likes and Biblos, a bar nearby, only has 397.

The reputation Rascals established in St. Andrews has carried over to Edinburgh. Oliver Corbishley is a former St. Andrews student now living in Edinburgh and he is looking forward to the opening. Corbishley said: “Rascals in St. Andrews was a great place for a night out, watching the football or an afternoon lunch with friends. If they bring the same experience to Edinburgh, I am sure it will be a great spot to check out.”

 

 

Parra kills Irish dreams of grandeur in Paris

Ireland 17 – France 17, Six Nations Match report

By Alessandro Brunelli

Blood, sweat and tears were all spilled at the Stade de France yesterday, with Ireland leaving Paris with a hard fought draw and a bitter taste of disappointment at having so close to taking the win.

A spirited approach by the Irish side in the first half had led even the most sceptical fans to dream of a final score which could have gone down in History.

On the 17th minute a lack of concentration on the Bleus side had allowed an opportunist Tommy Bowe to pierce a French defense which initially looked far from its usual strength.

It was far too easy for Bowe to intercept a pass from Rougerie and run in between the posts for the first Irish try, which was followed by a conversion from Jonathan Sexton.

Bowe’s effort was then accompanied by a solid defensive display by Declan Kidney’s men, which only let the French score from penalties in the first half, while Sexton punished the French indiscipline with another kick.

There was yet more Irish sparkle to come before the half time whistle, as on the 37th minute Bowe again went deep through the French defense like a hot knife through butter, chipped the ball past Mazier and scored an impressive try which pulled the curtains on the first half, with the Irish deservedly leading 17 to 6.

You could never blame the French for lacking pride, and a great deal of pride is what they drew upon to make a spectacular comeback in the second half.

There was urgency in the way France tried to gain territory, an attitude which was awarded with a penalty scored by Morgan Parra on the 47th minute.

This was followed only three minutes later by a stunning run from Wesley Fofana, who got a hold of the ball just past midfield and went all the way to score a try which cast doubts over the Irish ability to hold the lead until the end.

As another kick from Parra on 58th minute led the 80-thousand strong stadium behind the Bleus to the tune of the Marseillaise, Irish hopes looked even dimmer.

But that was, in an overall disappointing second half, the time the men in green regrouped and managed to desperately defend a score for the whole last quarter of the match.

Although all during the final period they never looked dangerous in the French half, and this will mostly be remembered as a wasted golden opportunity, Ireland should still feel some pride in coming so close to sealing a victory in this year’s most feared away match.

Six Nations proves trying for Scotland and Ireland

By Shane de Barra

It’s game on at Twickenham in two weeks time when England and France, the only sides still able to claim a Grand Slam, clash in what has the potential to be a Six Nations title decider.

England disposed of a sorry Italy at the weekend 59-13, just a week after putting Wales to the sword in Cardiff. Rugby League convert Chris Aston was England’s star man, claiming four of his side’s eight tries and in the process becoming the first English man to score four tries in a Six Nations game.

Reigning champions France came through a much tougher in test in the battle of the last two Grand Slam winners, when they took on Ireland in Dublin in the first Championship game to take place at the new Aviva Stadium. Despite being out-scored by three tries to one, Irish indiscipline gifted the French some easy points and last gasp defence at the death was enough to see the champions home 25-22.

Wales made the journey north to Edinburgh to take on Scotland at Murrayfield and it proved to be a satisfactory trip. A first half try by winger Shane Williams set the Welsh on their way, although they did have to defend with only 13 men for ten minutes when indiscipline saw both full-back Lee Byrne and second-row Bradley Davies sin-binned.

The Scots could not take advantage however, and created nothing in a performance that has set alarm bells ringing north of the border that a return to the bad old days of recent years in nigh. The second half was a scrappy affair with both sides bereft of both imagination and direction. In the end the game was settled by a neat grubber kick by Wales centre Jonathan Thomas which Williams was again alert to, collecting to score his second try.

But there was to be no heroic Scottish comeback as they limped to a 24-6 defeat.

Ireland loses living wage

by Fearghus Roulston

The minimum wage in Ireland will be cut by a euro, falling to €7.65, as part of a planned series of austerity measures introduced by Taioseach Brian Cowen today. The plans, outlined in a 170-page document, involve cuts to the social welfare budget and a hike in income tax. The Irish government hopes that they will make savings of €15 billion by 2014. The Taioseach said Ireland would have to “take some steps back to go forward again.”

“Postponing these measures will lead to greater burdens in the future for those who can least bear them, and will jeopardise our prospects of returning to sustainable growth and full employment. It’s a time for us to pull together as a people,” he said. The measures also entail tapping into the pension reserve fund to provide for infrastructure plans, and the loss of 24’000 jobs in the public sector over the four-year period.

These announcements come in the wake of negotiations with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund over a proposed financial aid package of around €90 billion euros. The austerity measures are considered key to ensuring the bailout goes through. They also mark an attempt by the beleaguered Brian Cowen to enforce his authority over an increasingly fractious government, as Ireland continues to suffer from social unrest. The decision to cut the minimum wage seems likely to lead to more protests, with the Mandate trade union leader claiming it will “will place those with the lowest incomes, including migrant workers, in an impossible situation”.

Ireland has seen a rash of protests over the last two years of financial recession. Measures in February 2009 aimed at stabilizing the economy brought 120’000 protesters onto the streets of Dublin. The plans to introduce fees for higher education have been constantly opposed and demonstrated against by the Union of Students in Ireland. Some protests have led to violence. A few days ago the office of the Transport Minister, Noel Dempsey, was attacked and sprayed with graffiti, and the arrival of IMF officials led to massive demonstrations outside government buildings.

Other countries across Europe have also seen explosions of anger and violence as the recession begins to affect daily lives. Portugal’s general strike against proposed austerity measures began at midnight, with worker participation of more than 75 percent. Union chief Joao Proenca said he considered it the biggest strike ever in Portugal.

It seems likely Irish workers will follow a similar route, with a major protest planned for Saturday the 27th in Dublin. Tens of thousands are expected to take to the street in protest over the cuts, but trade union secretary David Begg claimed the protests would be peaceful. “They just simply want to bring to the attention of the government that look, you have to be concerned with the citizens of the country, as well as the bond markets,” Begg said.

Protesters on the European Day of Action- from Informatique, http://www.flickr.com

 

Budget could be Cowen’s last action

By Ryan C. Gavan and Edoardo Zandona

Brian Cowan
Tough times for Taoiseach Brian Cowen (Image:Telegraph)

The Irish austerity budget is likely to be Brian Cowen’s last action as Taoiseach , as he is set to call an election early in the New Year.

The budget was set to be announced on December 7th but after mounting political pressure, an announcement will be made this afternoon. The aim will be to set out the plans to reduce the country’s deficit to 3% of GDP by 2014.

This will lead to welfare cuts and tax rises of up to 50%  for low paid workers. The minimum wage is set to be cut by 13% and middle class families will lose tax credits.

The IMF and the EU  have sanctioned an extensive bailout package of  €90Bn to the Irish govenment.

The Irish government states, “providing assistance to Ireland is warranted to safeguard financial stability in the EU and Euro area.” 

Initially, they did not wish to accept the bailout package, feeling confident the problems could be resolved without a handout.  After extensive meetings with EU finance ministers it was accepted on Sunday evening.

In a reversal, Cowen rejected calls from junior coalition partners the Greens to hold a snap election.

After discussions with his own parliamentary party last night, Cowen stated he will, ” seek the dissolution of Dail Eireann and enable the people to determine the responsibilities of government in the challenging period ahead.”

 He has denied accusations that he is  “hanging on” to power.

This could be welcomed by Sinn Feinn, who called for a vote of no confidence in the  Taoiseach yesterday. The party has seen increased support in recent times, prompting Gerry Adams to say that he will stand in  Louth for election to the Dail.

It has been recently reported that Ireland’s international credit rating has been dropped by Standard and Poor’s from AA- to A. This could have a great impact on the overall economy due to Ireland being highly dependent on oversees investment. The view that they may have difficulty repaying loans could increase interest rates and cause further problems.

Ireland’s debt crisis is the result of the property market crash, starting in 2008. After the huge economic boom, house prices have fallen by up to 60% and the banks have held bad assets ever since.  

Aiding to matters is the part-nationalisation of many of the country’s banks, turning into state-held debt.

Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan stated “an increase in corporation tax will not be a condition of the bailout.”

Ireland has the lowest level of corporation tax in the Eurozone at 12.5% which has come under scrutiny by other EU member states, such as Germany and France.

International News Round-up

By Adam Bergin

Caribbean:

The crash killed all of the 68 people on board

A passenger plane in Cuba has crashed in the centre of the country, killing all 68 people on board.

The Aerocaribbean aircraft had been flying from the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba to Havana when it crashed in mountains near the town of Guasimal.

A Civil Aviation Authority statement said that among the casualties were 40 Cuban residents, including the seven cabin crew, with the other 28 passengers coming from many countries, including Argentina, the Netherlands and Germany.

It is not yet clear if bad weather was a reason in the crash, but a tropical storm warning had been issued in Santiago de Cuba province where the plane took off.

A hurricane is growing in strength and heading towards Haiti, it is feared, threatening earthquake survivors living in temporary sites.

Hurricane Tomas is packing winds of 80mph (130 kph) and the US National Hurricane Centre says the eye of the hurricane will pass near western Haiti later today (Friday).

Aid agencies are rushing to get emergency shelters ready before the hurricane arrives, having already killed 14 people in Saint Lucia.

North America:

The Democrats have won the close race for the US Senate seat in Washington state in the mid-term polls.

Senator Patty Murray was twice joined by President Barrack Obama when campaigning in the run-up to the polls.

The result means the Republican surge was not enough to stop the Democrats who still have a slight majority, with 51 seats in the 100-member Senate.

The Tokyo male wore a prosthetic mask to board the flight

Authorities in Canada are investigating “an unbelievable case of concealment” after a Tokyo male boarded an Air Canada flight disguised as an elderly man.

The incident, which occurred on a flight from Tokyo to Vancouver last Friday,  is believed to be an attempt to gain refugee protection.

Air Canada Corporate Security today said: “The passenger in question was observed at the beginning of the flight to be an elderly Caucasian male who appeared to have young looking hands. During the flight the subject attended the washroom and emerged an Asian looking male that appeared to be in his early 20s.”

South-east Asia:


Indonesia‘s Mount Merapi has erupted overnight killing at least 64 people, doubling the death toll since it became active again last week.

Hospital officials said more than 70 others were injured today suffering burns and respiratory problems, with many in a critical condition, after a gas cloud hit villages with even greater force than previously.

The latest eruption began late on Thursday but the location of today’s casualties was declared a safe zone until today.

Europe:

In Ireland, the cost of borrowing has hit record levels again after plans to slash €6bn (£5.2bn) in the upcoming budget, twice what was predicted three months ago, were announced.

Ireland’s cost of borrowing rose for the eighth day in a row hitting an historic high of 7.77%, with concerns rising that the country would seek a bailout in the new year

Finance minister Brian Lenihan conceded the cuts were worse than expected but allayed fears, stating the action was “deemed necessary and will underline the strength of our resolve and show the country is serious about tackling our public finance difficulties”.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this

by Kirsty Tobin

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

As unemployment levels reach levels not seen since the mid-90s, dole queues have escalated almost beyond belief

We were sold the dream of graduating into a thriving economy.  We were sold the dream of fine houses, and cars, and comfort.  We were sold a social life and an ideal.  We were sold the equivalent of the picket fence, the smiling children (one of each), and the labrador retriever sitting on the lawn.  We were sold the idea that our degrees would be worth something.  We were sold the belief that we would be set up for life.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

When the early warning signs of this global recession started rearing their ugly heads nearly three years ago, our futures crumbled in front of our very eyes.  All of a sudden this perfect vision we’d been sold, the perfection we were assured was in all of our futures, was out of our grasp, replaced only with the uncertainty and fear that plagued our parents during the 1980s.  Overnight, thousands of college graduates, and prospective graduates, went from being much sought after candidates for employment to being merely possessors of what can only be described as essentially worthless pieces of paper.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Three years ago we were faced with endless possibilities.  The world was our oyster.  We had everywhere to go and nothing holding us back.  But that was then.  That was when the live register wasn’t overflowing.  That was when there were only 40,600 under-25s signing on every month.  That was before the recession, before the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA), before it all went pear-shaped.  Now there is twice that number signing on.  According to the Irish Central Statistics Office’s seasonally adjusted figures, 88,663 people under 25 signed on last month.  And, according to the Irish Labour Youth’s proposals on tackling youth unemployment from early this year, “23% of those aged 20-24 are in neither full-time education nor employment”.  That’s an overwhelming number of people, graduates for the most part, who are relying solely on Social Welfare Payments for subsistence.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Thirty years ago, faced with what we are facing today, our parents’ generation graduated and then left Ireland in droves – the United Kingdom and America were lands of hope and opportunity that promised them job security and a chance at a life.  At least they had options.  This generation isn’t so lucky.  Although some countries in mainland Europe and further afield are showing shaky signs of economic recovery, there is still a long way to go before any of these countries are out of the woods.  And even further to go before they are capable of supporting foreign job seekers.  So we have become largely confined to those economically deficient Emerald shores.  We’re doomed to signing on. Despite our best efforts, despite our university educations, we are doomed to being stuck in menial jobs – a fate from which we were supposed to be protected.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

While employment rates among graduates in the UK have risen slightly on figures from last year, this can’t last.  There are already much greater unemployment rates than there were two years ago, and with recent cuts to public sector jobs, as well as a rise in the retirement age, finding jobs post-graduation is about to get a whole lot harder.  UK students are facing the very same problems that Irish students are. They’re about to graduate under a government that cares so little about them that it’s proposing 40% cuts to university teaching budgets.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Since the recession hit in full force, there has been minimal attention paid to the plight of the disillusioned student masses, and the majority of this was relating to the reintroduction of third-level fees to Irish universities.  Other than this, the focus has been on job losses and NAMA, civil-service pay-cuts and ministerial over-spending.  There has been, by and large, little notice taken of the thousands of students who are graduating every year into a market that can’t hold them, with nowhere else to go even if they could afford to get there.  Historically, students have been instrumental in effecting change.  It’s time we followed that example.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

We have been whispering about our futures.  Talking about how the recession affects the direction of our lives.  Discussing the uncertainty of the coming days and months in hushed tones.  It’s time for the tones to become less hushed.  It’s time that people realised that there is more to this recession than job losses and pay-cuts; that a younger generation is suffering, neglected and forgotten.  It’s time that we students made our voices heard.  Let the cry ring forth:

“It wasn’t supposed to be like this!”

Hadden disappointed with result

By Stewart Primrose

Listen Here:

Ireland's Brian Carney runs with the ball courtesy of irishrugby
Ireland's Brian Carney runs with the ball courtesy of irishrugby

Scotland coach Frank Hadden feels his side should have won their latest 6 nations encounter, this time going down 22-15 against Ireland.

Scotland took a half time lead and were the better of the two sides but Ireland stepped up their game, only needing the 1 try to maintain their grand slam hopes.

“We had the game by the scruff of the neck. said Hadden

“The gap between the sides should have been greater in the first half.

“In the second half, Ireland did what they do very well, which is squeeze the life out of teams.”

The pressure has been mounting on the Scottish coach who yet again only has 1 win to his name in another championship. This came over the perennial wooden spooners Italy. Many pundits believed Hadden had to at least secure 2 victories to save his job. Scotland’s last match comes at Twickenham against England.

I’ve never, ever felt that kind of pressure because it’s all about focusing on the performance and the training,” said Hadden about speculation over his post.

“But I accept the discussion is inevitably going to be there because that’s not enough matches won.”

Scotland started the brighter of the teams and took a 12-9 lead at half time thanks to 4 penalties by Chris Paterson. After the break though, Ireland rallied and Jamie Heaslip touched down with the only try of the game to give Ireland the lead, which they never surrendered. This was aided by an O’Gara conversion, drop goal and penalty.

Ireland now only need to beat reigning champions Wales in Cardiff to give them their first Grand Slam for 61 years.

Super six set for battle

By Stewart Primrose

The RBS Six Nations tournament kicks off this weekend and is set to be one of the most exciting since ever.

Rugby at this time off year captures the imaginations of millions, whether they are fans of the sport or not. Although the Tri Nations has a higher quality of player, rugby clubs throughout Western Europe will be full and the beer will be flowing. And this could be the closest championship since Italy’s inclusion back in 2000, with Europe’s elite six expecting to thrill fans across Europe.

But how will each team fare? Will Wales defend their crown and continue to sing in the Valleys, or will the Irish eyes be shinning? And what for Scotland? Can they get that elusive victory at Twickenham? Either way many of the home nation players will be looking to boost their chances of being picked for the Lions tour to South Africa this summer.

Here is a run down of each team, plus a few players to watch out for. Let the games begin…

England

Andy Goode will play ahead of Cipriani
Andy Goode will play ahead of Cipriani

Martin Johnson will be looking to improve on England’s Autumn International performance in his first Six Nations as coach, starting with dropping Danny Cipriani in favour of Andy Goode. Johnson will be going back to basics by playing a tactical and territorial game. Once their fall back tactic, this looks to be their new plan A.

He is still to shore up the midfield after Will Greenwood’s departure and the current pairing of Ricki Flutey and Mike Tindall have yet to find their feet at international level.

Anything less than three home wins will be seen as a failure for England.

Key Man
Danny Care: This is a tough one as there are no real superstars in the team. The scrum half had a good 2008 and England will need him to be on top form to have a successful Six Nations.

My Prediction – Fourth

France v Wales could be crucial
France v Wales could be crucial

France

They face a tough opening match at Croke Park, which could determine how their campaign will be fought. They have picked a more conservative squad than in recent years. With Shabal in the second row they add a lot of muscle and aggression, but weaken their lineout as a result.

Poitrenaud sums up the French team. Brilliant one day, disastrous the next. Coach Marc Lievremont will be seeking consistent performances from his squad. They will miss the mercurial talents of Freddy Michelak and the team will have to step up if there is going to be a new generation of French flair.

Key Man
Yannick Jauzion: A deadly mix of pace, balance and precision passing. He could be not only a match winner but a Grand Slam winner.

My Prediction – Third

Ireland

Inconsistency has been the main theme for the Irish in recent years. Coach Declan Kidney will have to rectify this in 2009. There are a few promising young players coming through including Rob Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald and these will add impetus to ageing stars like Brian O’Driscoll. The centre is no longer the devastating attacking force he once was, but is still strong in defence.

The Irish need to get off to a good start
The Irish need to get off to a good start
The front five remain strong and in David Wallace they have one of the best back rows in the tournament. They have a decent fixture list with England and France at home. Wales at the Millennium Stadium may prove to be a game too far for their Grand Slam hopes.

Key Man
Ronan O’Gara: Some say the stand off dominates games, others say he fails to inspire. He needs to take the ball up to the game line and throw those defence splitting passes we all know he is capable off.

My Prediction – Second

Italy

As in any year the Italians aspire to just the one win. This year they could struggle to achieve this as they have no recognised half backs. There have been several stop gaps with centre, Paz, asking coach Mallet to stop playing him out of position.

Italy do have some genuine world class players in Prop, Castrogiovanni, Sergio Parisse and Bortolami.

They may surprise Ireland in Rome, but apart from that Murrayfield may prove yet again to be their only hope of avoiding that dreaded wooden spoon.

Key Man:
Sergio Parisse: One of the best players in the tournament. If he hailed from New Zealand he would be a household name. He is a top performer for club side Stade Francais and is easily the Italian’s best player.

My Prediction – Sixth

Scotland

Scotland have 3 home matches
Scotland have 3 home matches

Scotland will be looking to improve on last year’s performance on one win, albeit against England. Scotland has still to field a backline capable of worrying an international defence since the turn of the century. However there is a degree of optimism this season with Tom Evans emerging as a genuine try scorer. There is also a new pace and creativity in the centre.

These players are untested at the highest level so it could go either way. There is still debate about the number ten jersey – Godman’s flair versus Park’s boot and reliability, but Godman could galvanise the exciting backline if he is in the starting lineup.

A key to Scotland’s success will be the powerful forward pack – a match for any team – and contains some genuine world-class players. They will have to create quick ball to allow the backline to function. Maybe then Scotland can start crossing the try line.

Key Man
Mike Blair: The IRB world player of the year nominee can make Scotland tick. His roaming runs and crisp delivery must free up the midfield runners and build on the quick ball if Scotland are to start chalking the teams off their list. The captain needs a big tournament to boost his Lions credentials and his nation’s chances.

My Prediction – Fifth

Can the Welsh make it 2 in a row?
Can the Welsh make it 2 in a row?

Wales

Without a doubt the most talented team in the competition. They were the only northern hemisphere team to beat one of the big three in the autumn, pushing South Africa close and beating Australia.

Shane Williams is back from injury which will be a massive boost for Coach Warren Gatland. Roberts and Henson will provide a good mix of muscle and skill in the midfield and both James Hook and Steven Jones are capable match winners.

Pivotal to their success is the back row trio – Martin Williams, Andy Powell and Ryan Jones all complement each other and the rest of the Welsh side.

They could sneak the Championship on points difference, but watch out for a hiccup at Murrayfield this Saturday.

Key Man
Ryan Jones: The defensive lynchpin, ball carrier and inspirational leader. He’s also tipped to lead the Lions this summer. His performance last year was awesome and the same will be required again.

My Prediction – First