Emergency legislation to cut the disabled

THE SUBJECT OF cuts to services for people with disabilities will be on the agenda when Dublin City Council meets this evening.

The HSE and St Michael’s House work together in delivering services to almost 1,700 children and adults with an intellectual disability, and said last week that additional budget cuts presented a ‘significant challenge’.


HSE funding for St Michael’s has been cut by a total of €12.3 million over the last five years.

St Michael’s House was told in August of this year that an additional million euro was being cut from its budget for the second half of 2013, backdated to 1 July, and a series of service reductions was being introduced as a result.

St Michael’s has over 170 centres across the Greater Dublin Area and in Navan, Co Meath.

Staffing levels are expected to be reduced, while a rent subsidy is also being cut, meaning residents are being asked for an extra €35 per week.

CEO Patricia Doherty said in a letter that management are: “making every effort at both a local and national level to impress upon the HSE and the Government the seriousness of the situation and the inevitable negative impact of their decisions on people with disabilities”.

Sinn Féin will propose an emergency motion at the monthly meeting of Dublin City Council this evening, opposing the cuts to services at St Michael’s House facilities.

Sinn Féin Councillor Mícheál Mac Donncha, who is tabling the motion, called on Lord Mayor Oisín Quinn to allow debate on the motion.

Cllr Mac Donncha said that the party’s motion is calling for the recently-announced cuts to be reversed.

The families of those using St Michael’s services are being urged to lobby their local TDs, Senators and Councillors to have the cuts reversed.

The Irish woman Michaella McCollum Connolly

IRISH WOMAN MICHAELLA McCollum Connolly and British citizen Melissa Reid will be formally charged with drug trafficking offences, company registration seychelles following yesterday’s appearance at the office of the public prosecutor in the province of Callao.

The pair, who are accused of attempting to smuggle 11 kgs of cocaine out of Lima, could face between 15 and 18 years in jail.

In a statement, prosecutors said they had gathered sufficient evidence to suspect the alleged responsibility of the 20-year-old Dungannon native and her 20-year-old friend from Glasgow. Both women were detained at Jorge Chavez airport in the capital city as they were about to board a flight to Spain.

According to BBC News, the two women intend to plead ‘not guilty’ to the charges, hong kong event photoclaiming they were forced to carry the drugs by an armed gang which they came in contact with while working in bars on the island of Ibiza earlier this summer.

The pleas will be entered at Callao’s Justice Building, where the women remain. They are due to hear the charges against them before being transferred to a women’s prison later this week.

McCollum Connolly’s lawyer Peter Madden told reporters about the “grim” conditions in the girls’ current holding cell which they share with two other women.

“They haven’t got anything to eat today Bo Ying Compound Eu Yan Sang, he said. “They haven’t been offered any food. To me, that is unacceptable…They are expected to lie on the floor on some sponge-type bed, which is just not acceptable. There are no blankets. It is not clean. The most important thing is that they haven’t actually been offered any food today and it didn’t look like they were going to be.”

No date has been set for a trial and they could face months – even years – in the Peruvian prison.

Local media, citing police sources, have claimed that the women were used by drug trafficking ring in Lima that likes to use British citizens as mules.

McCollum Connolly and Reid underwent medical exams before the court hearing yesterday.

Taking into account the safety problems

Questions have been raised about the risk posed to the central Hawke's Bay town of Waipawa if the proposed Ruataniwha water storage dam breaks in a major earthquake silk ribbon embroidery.

In an open letter to residents, published in the Central Hawke's Bay Mail on Tuesday, the council's interim chief executive Liz Lambert says they are taking the public's concerns waterproof casesseriously.

"I believe we've left no stone unturned in our approach to the Ruataniwha water storage scheme," she said.

"From the impact of traffic, noise and dust during construction, to environmental effects, the social benefits for our communities and even the extremely unlikely event of a dam break - these and many other aspects have been part of our consideration, property in thailand and will be subject to further review before any final 'go' or 'no go' decision is made."

If the project proceeds, the dam will be built to the highest international design standardsDream beauty pro hard sell.

From early on, the council has known the proposed site of the dam is near a fault line.

"A key part of design and construction planning is to ensure that if a dam is built, it will meet the highest international design and safety specifications. Even following a major earthquake, the dam will be designed to flex, not fail nuskin," Ms Lambert said.

The council expects to make a final decision on the dam next year.

Ms Lambert said the council will continue to work closely with interested parties.

Who is the product of our education system

JOB ANNOUNCEMENTS FROM the foreign direct investment sector are coming at a regular clip, with Symantec announcing 400 new jobs in my own back yard of Dublin 15. Any jobs are more than welcome, as they get new money into the economy. Unfortunately for a great many of the posts on offer, Symantec and its peers will need to import the talent iPad Cases. For all the hundreds of thousands who are ready and keen to take a job, the qualifications are outside the reach of most people who are the product of our education system.

It’s not that the roles on offer are beyond the capabilities of our people. Symantec and many other IDA supported companies run a large customer management centre. Others run sales centers in parallel to service. The jobs require educated and clever people, but not a PhD in anything.

Foreign Languages
What the roles do nearly universally require is proficiency in a foreign language. To put it bluntly, the our primary and secondary education system can barely produce graduates who speak Irish.

We are one of only two countries in the EU, alongside Scotland, that does not have compulsory foreign language courses during primary and secondary school. An EU study in 2006 found that 56 per cent of Europeans can hold a conversation in a second language to their native tongue. Ireland was the member state with the highest percentage of citizens admitting to not knowing any language other than their mother tongue, 66 per cent in all. Among the other 34 per cent there were varying levels of proficiency.

A quick – and informal – survey of recent FDI jobs announcements shows that for every three companies establishing or expanding manufacturing, research and development operations there are ten with a primary focus on multilingual customer care Dentist Hong Kong, sales and support operations. Now every company creates a variety of roles across many departments and skill sets, but it is undeniable that a great proportion of the jobs created are multilingual in nature. It is also an inescapable fact that these jobs cannot be filled by an Irish population that is not multilingual.

Multilingual applicants needed
A senior Human Resources director in one of the bigger foreign companies operating a sales and support center here described his job to me as “effectively running a travel agency.” As a large company with a substantial requirement for a variety of languages he has developed a network of recruitment agents across the world, primarily in Europe, who source candidates. The company arranges to relocate them to Ireland, with a fine art in getting people all they need to get set up and working happily; and there is an active retention program in place.

Still, people churn on a regular basis. Many go to smaller companies in Ireland that require the same language skills and are willing to pay a premium for experienced people in small teams. Symantec will likely get a good number transferring from existing companies, who will in turn need to import more workers into a country with hundreds of thousands unemployed.

Where there is a skills gap I am all in favour of importing people rather than letting the job go elsewhere. These people come here, pay taxes, rent and integrate and generally contribute to the country. I am a firm believer, besides any economic argument, that Ireland is a better place today for being more multicultural than it was even twenty years ago.

Importing people in fill jobs
It does, however, seem an awful waste to have to be importing people to a country that does have a first world education system, is a long established global hub and yet doesn’t seem to have managed to put two and two together to produce people capable of speaking a foreign language.

The government, of course, is actually doing quite the opposite: It killed a nascent foreign language program in primary schools during 2012’s budget cutbacks. The same cutbacks are also seeing science getting cut in schools, another move bound to lead to a surge in demand for foreign workers in the future.

About 80 per cent of secondary school students study a foreign language. 50 per cent is French, 13.4 per cent German, 6.7 per cent Spanish and so on into smaller and smaller cohorts. The problem is that they have started too late, and don’t continue into third level to achieve fluency. Only three per cent of kids at primary level learn a foreign language. The typical age for starting to learn a foreign language in other EU countries is between six and nine.

We have two ingrained problems when it comes to learning foreign languages to a level of proficiency required to turn them into jobs.

English is not enough
Firstly, we have a belief that English is enough. It is the dominant language in the world, after all. But when a German wants customer support, he or she wants it in German thank you very much; even if the call center is in Dublin. The needs of our economy handbags embroidery, which is export led, points to a situation where English is helpful; but it is demonstrably not enough.

Secondly, we are really, really crap at teaching Irish; and this influences our learning of any other language. Lets face it, the vast majority of Irish people are not fluent in Irish. Depending on how you squint at the census, there are between 70,000 and 190,000 people who speak Irish fluently on a regular basis. Nearly 1.8 million of us stated that we can speak Irish, but there’s a good likelihood that a great many of us simply remember key survival phrases such as “An bhfuil cead agam dul go dtí an leithreas?”

Contemplate for a moment, if you would, the massive national effort that delivers this result. Irish is compulsory from the first day of primary school to the last of secondary, a span of 13 or 14 of the most formative years in our lives. Every primary school teacher is required to be fluent. In secondary school we devote more time to it than any other subject besides English and maths. So devoted are we that even those who cannot speak the language after primary are put into “Foundation Level” classes where you can spend most of your time playing twenty questions, in English, and still learn enough key phrases to get an A in your state exams.

Teaching young children
It is not simply a question of saying “Lets teach foreign languages to kids from age 7,” as they are introducing in England from 2014. It’s about asking “How the hell can we teach a language to kids five days a week during the school year, for over a decade, and the whole country isn’t fluent?”

I don’t believe we should ditch Irish in favour of foreign languages. I do believe that we should look at a better balance between subjects like Irish and religion, which eats up 10 per cent of teaching time in primary school versus 4 per cent for science, and things like foreign languages.

We need to address fundamental underperformance in the Irish education system as well. Whatever the rot that afflicts the teaching of Irish needs to be sorted so that we don’t repeat it for other languages if we introduced them at a young age. Part of the trick to learning languages is learning how to learn a language; and mastery of Irish could be a stepping stone for kids.

Similarly, despite a spending increase in real terms of over 60 per cent over the years we have been sliding in the OECD PISA world rankings of school systems in the core subject areas of literacy, math and science. Clearly, there are problems that need addressing if we are to be successful even at these core subjects, let alone learning new languages.

It is a shame that all those unemployed today cannot speak the variety of languages required to take up jobs on offer at multilingual focused companies that make up the core of our foreign direct investment. We should try and rectify that for future generations.

The thermal stress on the farm animal

AS WE ENJOY 99s, barbeques and water fights, local authorities across the country are beginning to fret about dwindling water supplies.

Water restrictions have already been implemented in some areas, while many councils have asked residents to be mindful of how they are consuming water.

Kerry County Council said the mid-county public water supply is “struggling to meet the increased demand” and announced night-time restrictions in the greater Firies and Milltown areas, as well as parts of Fossa. The rest of the county has been asked to conserve water and avoid unnecessary usage.

Similar restrictions were seen in Tipperary, Art Culture with night-time shutdowns beginning at 9pm in some areas. A burst on the watermain network was also a contributing factor to the disruption, according to South Tipperary County Council.

Dublin City Council asked the public not to waste water, directing them to the TapTips.ie website for more information about conservation.

In Cork, the County Council said there is a risk of water shortage because of the dry spell and appealed to consumers – particularly in the north and west of the county – Limited company Hong Kong to restrict usage to “essential purposes”. It also asked farmers to check drinking troughs to ensure that ballcocks have not been damaged due to high consumption levels by cattle. The local authority said it may curtail supply “from time to time” in the interest of water consumption.

The farming community has also received warnings from the Department of Agriculture about the risk of heat stress on their animals. The reminder, issued this morning, applies mostly to pigs and poultry while they are housed or transported.

All those in charge of animals on-farm and during transport are legally obliged to ensure that all necessary measures are taken to prevent any unnecessary suffering.

To minimise stress during high climatic temperatures, Asian college of knowledge management preventative steps should be taken to ensure that the animals can cope. These include: increased frequency of inspection of animal behaviour, reduction in stocking density, provision of adequate ventilation, increased water supply and availability, provision of additional cooling mechanisms and shade from the sun. And, of course, sheep should be shorn without delay.

According to the Department, additional stand-by arrangements should be made with abattoirs to allow for increased cull rates to reduce stock densities and minimise queuing times for animals when they arrive.


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