http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/europes-first-wave-energy-farm-to-be-built-in-our-seas-30077336.html

Wave Energy project for Ireland

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March 10, 2014 · 2:33 pm

20-year-old college student running in this year’s local elections- Aisling Phelan Irish Independent 31/01/2014

Meet 20 -year-old college student running in this year’s local elections

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Ellen At just 20-years-old, Ellen O’Connor is the new Fine Gael candidate in Dún Laoghaire for May’s elections.

 

Introducing the Trinity student who will be one of the youngest candidates contesting the local elections.

Although she is tackling hours of college work and attending lectures, she has already began canvassing to enter the competitive political arena.

At just 20-years-old, Ellen O’Connor is the new Fine Gael candidate in Dún Laoghaire for May’s elections.

‘‘I wanted to enter because women are really underrepresented in politics.

‘‘The government has done a lot to improve it with gender quotas for this year’s elections but many more women need to put themselves forward,’’ she said.

The budding young politician is a second year history student in Trinity College Dublin.

She believes more young people should be involved with politics because they have strong opinions on the economy’s greatest problems.

‘‘The issues that matter to young people the most like jobs and education is where young people can really make a difference,’’ she said.

The student admitted she was initially worried about whether she would experience ageism as she began her door-to-door canvassing.

‘‘Yes I was worried because I thought people wouldn’t take me seriously but so far people seem to want fresh faces in politics.

‘‘I never encountered [ageism]. I just found that people wanted to hear my new ideas,’’ she said.

The Dublin native said her ambition to enter politics was sparked because she wanted to bring young people back to her community to boost local businesses.

She said education was the biggest hindrance to engaging young people in politics.

‘‘The biggest problem is that young people are not fully informed on elections and they have to be educated on how our system of politics works,’’ she said.

She insisted that she did not begin her path to political life with the aim of becoming Taoiseach.

‘‘All I’m thinking about at the moment is the local elections. I’m so busy getting organised,’’ she said.

Asked if her hectic campaigning activities will impact on her college work she said, ‘‘No, I like to be busy and many other people enter when they have full time jobs.’’

Another major ambition if she is elected is to encourage young people to take an interest in politics and the problems tainting their communities.

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Leading ladies of Oireachtas: ‘Rare birds’ on hunt for equality

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Women senators and TDs outside Leinster House

Irish Independent,   Lise Hand – 29 January 2014

THE Seanad chamber is always a handy place for a parliamentary photo shoot. For a start, it’s a beautiful room, all corniced high ceilings, sparkly chandeliers and plush blue leather seats.

Therefore, it made the ideal venue for a photo shoot to mark the 95th anniversary of the election of the nation’s first woman Teachta Dala, Constance Markiewicz.

Most of the current women members of the Oireachtas turned up to hear the event’s co-ordinator, Labour senator Ivana Bacik, read aloud the depressing statistics about female representation in the Upper and Lower Houses since that historic day, when Constance took her place in Dail Eireann.

She reminded the assembly how a paltry 26 out of 166 TDs and 19 out of 60 senators are women in the current administration. “This means that the Dail has always been at least 84pc male,” said Ivana. “Ireland is currently in 87th place in the world tables of women’s representation in the lower or single house of national parliaments.”

The women present looked grim. Ivana pointed out that the introduction of gender quotas should address this imbalance, but not everyone was optimistic.

The gathering then departed the chamber and posed for more photos on the staircase topped by a large portrait of Constance, then congregated on the plinth for a last shot.

One senator, Labour’s Marie Moloney, managed to halt the chatter by casually mentioning that her grandfather, Thomas Redican, had been Constance Markiewicz’s chauffeur.

Michelle Mulherin pointed to the curious onlookers outside the gates of Leinster House who were watching the ongoing photo shoot. “We look like a selection of rare birds – in every sense of the word,” she reckoned.

Afterwards, junior minister Kathleen Lynch discussed the dearth of women in the Oireachtas. “There’ll be no real political reform until we have a better gender balance,” she said. “The status quo is working just fine for the men”.

She also had little time for women who didn’t support gender quotas, citing the reason being that they didn’t want to vote for “mediocre women”. The feisty Kathleen sniffed: “I always reply that I’d love the chance to vote for a mediocre woman. After all, I’ve spent years voting for mediocre men.” Indeed.

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Main points of Budget 2014

The young, the elderly and the old reliables are hit

Ciara O’Brien

First published: Tue, Oct 15, 2013, 14:21

   
Health

Free GP care for children aged five and under confirmed, costing €40 million to the exchequer

€113m to be saved by removing `ineligible and redundant’ medical cards, and introducing wider medical card probity

Income threshold for medical cards for over-70s lowered

Number of waiting days for illness benefit rises to six from the previous three

Maternity benefits standardised at €230 per week, saving €30 million in 2014

Generic drugs and reference pricing to yield €50m in savings

Medical insurance tax relief capped at €1,000 for adult, €500 for a child

Excise

Beer and spirits hit by 10 cent rise, wine up 50 cent

20 cigarettes will rise by 10 cent, with similar hikes on other tobacco products

Education

Over 1,250 classroom and resource teachers to be recruited

€5 million allocated for books to rent programme in primary schools

€25 million cut in funding to third-level institutions to continue

No increase in pupil-teacher ratio

Property

€30 million to be allocated to the State’s house building programme which will deliver 500 houses, including new builds and the upgrade of previously uninhabitable units.

They will be seeking public money to fund “stable homes” for families who are long-term homeless.

Further €10 million to be allocated for unfinished estates

Home renovation tax incentive scheme gives tax credit to homeowners carrying out works on their homes in 2014 and 2015

€10m allocated to resolve problems at Priory Hall

Tax

DIRT rises to 41 per cent, similar rate for exit tax applying to life assurance policies and investment funds

Pension levy of 0.6 per cent to be abolished at the end of next year, but a 0.15 per cent levy will apply on funds held in 2014 and 2015

No increase in income tax, USC in 2014.

VAT rates are staying at 9 per cent, 13.5 per cent and 23 per cent in 2014

Home heating oil and petrol/diesel unchanged

Farmers’ flat rate addition being increased to 5 per cent from 4.8 per cent

Air travel tax to be reduced to zero from April 2014

VAT rate for tourism sector to remain at 9 per cent

Noonan says Government is ‘100 per cent committed to 12.5 per cent corporate tax rate’

However, Irish registered companies can no longer be stateless for tax purposes. ‘I want Ireland to play fair… and I want Ireland to play to win’

Lump sum compensation payments to Magdalene survivors will be tax exempt.

Start Your Own Business scheme aimed at those unemployed for 15 months includes two-year exemption from income tax

Economy

Budget has been ‘carefully calibrated’ to support growth in jobs and recovery

New bank levy will raise €150 million per year

Budget 2014 contains €2.5 billion in cuts and taxes

€1.2bn of additional revenue required in 2014

Welfare

Telephone allowance in household benefit package to be discontinued from January 1st, saving €44 million. Fuel allowance left untouched.

Pensions, carers’ allowance, disability benefit are untouched

Basic rate of social welfare stays the same, as does child benefit.

Free travel, respite care grant untouched.

The €850 bereavement grant is being abolished

Reduced rate of €100 extended to new entrants under 25 years of age to jobseekers scheme

Jobs

Budget contains 25 pro-jobs and pro-business measures

After much praise for public sector workers, Howlin says the target for public service numbers has been adjusted to add additional resources in health, education and policing.

€200m from lotto licence will be invested in local economic activity and job creation. Road maintenance and repair works, sports grants, energy programme for homes, housing adaptation grants, cultural initiatives and other tourism projects

Subsidised financial training programme for small businesses

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The most radical reform of local government in 100 years

The most radical reform of local government in over 100 years

17/10/13

Mr Phil Hogan, T.D., Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, announced today (17 October 2013) the publication of the Local Government Bill 2013 to fundamentally reform the local government system in Ireland.
“This is the first time in over 100 years that we have attempted such a radical reform but it is necessary to bring our local government system up to date and to provide the kind of service our citizens deserve” the Minister said.
The Local Government Bill 2013 will give effect to the reforms that were approved by Government in October 2012, following the publication of the landmark Action Programme for Effective Local Government – Putting People First.
The Bill provides for the necessary changes to local authority functions, structures, funding, performance and governance to achieve the overall vision of a local government system that is the main vehicle for public service delivery at local level, leads economic, social and community development and represents citizens and communities effectively and accountably.
Speaking at the launch of the Bill, the Minister said: “The whole point of local government reform is to ensure that local Councils deliver better services to their citizens.”
The Bill provides that in future no separate structures will be established outside of local government for the delivery of public services, unless clearly necessitated.
“For too long local government has been by-passed by quangos. I want Councils to do more for citizens and local communities. But I accept that first local government must regain public trust,” the Minister said,
“this will take time but the reforms will facilitate by helping to renew the relationship between the citizen and their local Council. This is critical and will be achieved in two main ways.
Firstly, citizens will have better engagement with their local Councillors on how and where money is spent through the LPT. And this engagement will be strengthened even further from 2015 onwards when Councillors will be given the power to vary the LPT.
Secondly, citizens will be better able to judge how well their Council is doing at providing local services, how well they are performing relative to others Councils, and citizens will also be asked how satisfied they are with the services they get. It is only through this comprehensive form of measurement that we will be able to demonstrate that we have real reforms that citizens can see and benefit from,” said the Minister.
The main provisions of the Bill set out the structural reform of local government for greater efficiency, improvements to local government funding, accountability and governance, as well as providing for local government taking the lead in economic and community development.
The major structural reforms set out in the Bill will be the most radical and visible. The number of local authorities will reduce from 114 to 31 and the number of elected members will fall from 1,627 to 949. There will also be:
• A new integrated system of municipal districts throughout each county, to replace the 80 town councils.  The new municipal districts will be fully representative of the population as distinct from the town councils which had limited functional, territorial and operational scope;
• The creation of new unified local authorities in Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford as successors to the existing city and county councils;
• New regional assemblies, with a more focussed role in spatial and economic planning, will be established to replace the current eight regional authorities and two assemblies; and
• A single set of councillors for district and county levels, replacing the existing dual mandate for many Councillors.  Councillors will also have wider functions at district level to ensure that the needs of their communities are fully represented and met.
Local Councils will be given a greater say in local enterprise and economic development and in local and community development activities. The reforms provide for the alignment of the local community development sector with local government through the establishment of Local Community Development Committees, which will be mandated to prepare Local Community Plans to bring strategic coordination to the millions of euro spent each year on local and community development initiatives. There will also be a new Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) for Economic Development in each Council to:
• Prepare local action plans to guide and foster economic activity and stimulate job creation within the area; and
• Provide the planning, oversight and accountability of the new Local Enterprise Offices (LEOs), which will replace the County Enterprise Boards.
The Bill also provides for a range of measures to support local democracy, to strengthen governance and ensure that there is greater accountability for the delivery of local services.  In particular, the Bill provides for a rebalancing of responsibilities between the elected members and the Council executive, to further strengthen the decision-making powers of Councillors for the benefit of the communities and citizens they represent.  Specific provisions are as follows:
• The establishment of a new post of chief executive to replace the former city and county managers. The role of the chief executive will be more clearly defined to advise and support the elected Councillors in their policy making role and there will be enhanced management reporting arrangements to the Council.  The Bill also provides for greater involvement by the Council in guiding the appointment of the chief executive;
• A standardised commercial rate across each county to be introduced over a period of 10 years.  Also, the level of vacancy refund of rates will be standardised at a rate of 50% nationally in line with current practices in Dublin, Cork and Limerick cities;
• Greater involvement in and oversight of local authority budgets by members.  In particular municipal district members will have delegated powers to decide programmes of works to be carried out within their district;
• A new National Oversight and Audit Commission for Local Government (NOAC) will be established to provide independent scrutiny of local government performance and in providing value for money for service delivery. NOAC reports will be made public and the Chief Executive will prepare an implementation plan to address any issues raised by the NOAC.
• The Bill also provides for a plebiscite in 2014 to allow the people of Dublin to decide for themselves if an office of a directly elected mayor should be established for the greater Dublin area.
The Minister emphasised that the local government reforms are an essential step forward in the Government’s wider reform programme and his intention to see the Bill enacted by the end of the year to ensure the necessary provisions are in place well before the local elections in 2014.
“This Government was elected with a strong mandate for reform.  We have already shown our bona fides in delivering significant reforms to the financial sector,  major reforms of the Oireachtas, measures to increase the number of women in politics and to make political funding more transparent..This legislation is just one in a series of measures to deliver a better, more efficient and relevant local government system. We are also working to ensure the financial stability of local authorities with the local property tax so that your taxes work for your own communities.

ENDS.
Press  Office
Tel: (01) 888 2638  (direct)
(01) 888 2000
E-Mail: press-office@environ.ie
Web site: www.environ.ie

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Gender Equality

Irish Times

Sat June 8th 2013

Women at Work – New series starts today

Marking 40 years since the abolition of the Civil service ‘marriage bar’, a week-long series examines Irish women’s working lives.

Ciara Brennan, teacher; Marissa Carter, entrepreneur; Eilish Hardiman, chief executive of Tallaght Hospital; Siobhan Parkinson, author and former children’s laureate; Fiona Haughney, IT project manager; Caroline Erskine, communications consultant and journalist; Freda McGrane, retired from a career in administration

Seven women discuss their experiences of the Irish workplace, past and present.

In the four decades since the abolition of the Civil Service marriage bar, in 1973, women’s progress in the workplace has been startling, unprecedented and very uneven. There are female chief executives, judges, hospital consultants, politicians, editors, school principals and taxi drivers. But even as choices have expanded for women, in other ways they have contracted. Many women now not only have the opportunity to pursue a career outside the home but simply have no other option.

Increasingly, Irish families rely on two incomes, leaving many with a dilemma. Negative equity and falling pay rates push them in one direction, but the rising cost of childcare, and concerns about its quality, drag them in another.

Meanwhile, a debate has sprung up about whether women are doing enough to help themselves and each other. Are they pushing hard enough for the opportunities? And where does work-life balance fit into all of this?

Seven women from different areas of employment, who range in age from 27 to 73, agreed to discuss these issues. They are Ciara Brennan, a teacher; Marissa Carter, an entrepreneur; Eilish Hardiman, chief executive of Tallaght hospital; Siobhán Parkinson, the former children’s laureate; Fiona Haughney, an IT project manager; Caroline Erskine, a communications consultant and journalist; and Freda McGrane, a retired administrator.

The 1970s workplace

Until 1973, under the marriage bar, women teachers and civil servants were forced to retire if they married. But even in the private sector, gender-based discrimination was rife.
Freda McGrane I had a secretarial position in the Department of Health when I got married [in the late 1960s]. Everyone had to retire upon marriage. It’s the way it was. We did murmur and mutter about it among ourselves, but we did nothing.
Eilish Hardiman My mum was a triple-qualified nurse. She worked in neonatal intensive care and then, just because she got married, she no longer had a job, so all her skills were lost.
Siobhán Parkinson I graduated in 1976, and I did an interview for the Civil Service. There were five men on the interview panel, and the whole interview consisted of them barracking me about how the country would function if all the civil servants were women and they all got pregnant at the same time.

Freda McGrane After I got married I looked for another job in the private sector, and I was told several times to go home and look after my husband and my house. I stopped working when I had my children, in the early 1970s, and I was at home quite happily until my husband had a stroke, when he was 38. It left him unable to work, and I had to go back full time to support the family. I could have gone back to my job in the Civil Service, but the real injustice was that if you went back you went back [to the point on] the scale at which you had left. It would have been a horrific jump back from what I was able to earn in the private sector. I did eventually go back in the 1990s, at the level I had been at when I married, and I started studying for my degree then. I graduated the year I retired, when I was 65.

 

Our panel on: ‘Leaning in’

Jennifer O’Connell

First published: Sat, Jun 8, 2013, 01:00

Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, has urged women to “lean in” to their careers and to “sit at the table”. Are we doing enough to push ourselves forward?

Eilish Hardiman A lot of it is confidence, and putting your hand up and believing you can do it. In my experience, when there are projects to be done, I get the males coming forward first. I can see that there are females who might be much better capable of delivering it, but they don’t put their hands up.

I didn’t have any great ambition to get where I am: I got here because someone identified my potential and tapped me on the shoulder. Men don’t need to be tapped on the shoulder, I can tell you. My job, half the time, is telling them, “Sorry, you’re not good enough for it.”

Marissa Carter When I started my beauty salon I was 21, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be taken seriously. So I dyed my hair brown for the first time in my life, and I wore suits. Then I got more confident and realised I could be myself. Now with my tan product, Cocoa Brown, I go into meetings with a room full of buyers, almost always men. I think I am underestimated, but it works in my favour. I’m a five-foot blond woman, and the first impression I give is that I’m not a ball-breaker, I’m not going to play hardball or get the margins I want. I’ll tell you, I always get the margins that I want. I let them let their guard down and have the laugh, and then I go in for the kill.

Eilish Hardiman Do I worry about being perceived as not nice? No. I don’t.

Marissa Carter I firmly believe you don’t have to be hardnosed.

Caroline Erskine I actually think it’s important to be nice. Don’t feel you have to walk over people because you’re the boss.

Women with families

Has the attitude that women with families don’t belong in the workforce completely disappeared?
Fiona Haughney They’re a lot more subtle about it now, but if you have an equally qualified male and a female going for the job, there’s still that attitude of “Go with the male, because he’s not going to go off and get pregnant.”
Ciara Brennan It’s more discreet now. I don’t have an engagement ring, but if I did I’d be very nervous about wearing it to an interview for a teaching job.
Eilish Hardiman I’m the top decision- maker in my organisation, and it’s critical for a chief executive to set the culture and values in an organisation. There are 2,340 staff in Tallaght hospital, and 65 per cent of them are female. Within that you’ve got to acknowledge that pregnancy is the norm. I know there are challenges if, say, you’ve got four physiotherapists in one area and they’re all [having babies at the same time], but you’ve got to create a culture of flexibility. One of the most obvious advances of the past 40 years is that there is now an expectation that women can, if they wish, continue to work after they have started a family.
Caroline Erskine There is a percentage of women who are never going to want to be stay-at-home mothers the whole time. They love their children, but they’ve got an education and they want to get out there and use it, or they’ve got big plans for life. And that’s fair enough.
Freda McGrane Most young women I’ve spoken to are working only to help pay the mortgage and the bills. There’s no wonderful ambition, no needing to do whatever; it’s just an economic fact in this country, especially with these ghastly mortgages and negative equity, that they have to work.
Siobhán Parkinson And the country needs them to work, too. It needs women’s talents, and our skills.
Cost of Childcare

Fiona Haughney My partner, Paul, and I are at a crossroads. Our monthly childcare bill is €1,600. Because I work from contract to contract I’m faced with looking at whether it’s worth it for me to look for another job. I have a decision to make: do we tighten our belts for me to stay at home? Or do I try to find another job, and channel most of the earnings into my childcare bill?

Caroline Erskine Childcare costs about one-third of a family’s income now. There must be a tipping point beyond which people can’t go. One solution might be to give both parents the chance to work part time while their children are younger. The State would top up their salaries to a sustainable level, say 80 per cent. And then, when they return, they would not be penalised in terms of pay or promotion opportunities.
Eilish Hardiman Culturally, childcare has to be valued, no matter who does it.
Fiona Haughney It should be a calling instead of a low-paid job.
Ciara Brennan But a calling goes only so far. You need to feel valued, and that means financially valued.
Eilish Hardiman We have a creche at the hospital, and it’s making so little money that it’s not worth it, really. But then I see the mothers coming in early, dropping off their kids, and I know they can go down during their lunchbreak to see them. It’s a headache to run, and there’s a risk attached, but I can’t get rid of it, because it’s the right thing to do, and it’s worth it in terms of staff retention.

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