Informing Ireland’s decision-makers...
Collaborating to deliver net zero ESB’s Paddy Hayes Garda
HSE Director of Digital
Helen McEntee TD
explores the future of
issue 52 June / July 22
Transport • Regional focus: Limerick City and County • 100 years of policing
2022 29th-30th June • Croke Park, Dublin Now in its 26th year, Energy Ireland continues to be the major annual event on the Irish energy calendar, attracting influential delegates from across the sector. The conference will bring together all the key stakeholders to discuss and debate the key drivers of the energy transition and the current energy price crunch. It will look forward to the developments for this crucial decade and examine the deployment of developing technologies such as energy storage and green hydrogen.
Key themes for 2022: •
Geopolitical context to the energy transition
Improving Ireland’s energy
Adam Berman, Deputy Policy Director Energy UK
Ditte Juul Jørgensen, Director-General for Energy, European Commission
Richard Murphy, Partner, Pinsent Masons
Siobhán McHugh, Chief Executive Officer The Demand Response Association of Ireland
Paddy Hayes, Chief Executive, ESB
Aoife MacEvilly, Chairperson, Commission for Regulation of Utilities
Malcolm Keay, Senior Research Fellow The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies
Andy Kelly, Director, Afry
Stephen Wheeler, Managing Director SSE Renewables
Maria Ryan, Director of Development SSE Renewables
Dr Katja Yafimava, Senior Research Fellow The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies
Edwina Nyhan, Director of Strategy and Regulation, Gas Networks Ireland
Decarbonising Ireland’s gas
Dave Kirwan, Managing Director Bord Gáis Energy
Cathal Marley, Group CEO, Ervia
Margie McCarthy, Director of Research and Policy Insights, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland
Role of renewable energy
Niamh McGovern, Partner, Arthur Cox
technologies in the energy
Tanya Harrington, Chair, Renewable Energy Ireland
Anne Marie Clancy, Principal Officer Department of the Environment, Climate & Communications
Peter Lantry, Country Managing Director Ireland and Global Data Centre Lead Hitachi Energy
Catherine Sheridan, Chief Operations Officer E1-H2
Rory Monaghan, Director, Energy Engineering Programme, NUI Galway & Hydrogen Ireland
Cillian O’Donaghue, Policy Director Eurelectric
Future electricity system
Developing Ireland’s offshore
Eamon Ryan TD, Minister for the Environment, Climate & Communications
William Walsh, CEO, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland
wind energy resources •
Importance of digital networks in Ireland’s energy future
Donna Gartland, Chief Executive Officer Codema — Dublin's Energy Agency
Register now Online
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Cover story: ESB’s Paddy Hayes on collaborating
Round table discussion: Accelerating renewable energy deployment in Ireland
Deputy Commissioner Anne Marie McMahon on the opportunity for reflection
111 Healthtech 112
Minister Stephen Donnelly TD on leveraging digital health gains
HSE Head of Digital Transformation and Open Innovation, Martin Curley, discusses Ireland’s
Minister Eamon Ryan TD: A fundamental change
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris discusses Garda reform
Sinn Féin’s Darren O’Rourke TD discusses
Justice Minister Helen McEntee TD: 100 years of An Garda Síochána
delivery on the green transition
100 years of policing
to deliver net zero 14
Transport: legislative priorities
A pathway to one million EVs
Regional focus: Limerick City and County Council
A guide to Health 4.0
128 Europe 130
132 Public affairs
NDP: Roads, rail and ports
Northern Ireland Assembly Election 2022
Tourism in Limerick
Meet the media: Caitríona Perry
Mid-West Regional Enterprise Plan: A connected
Political platform: Jennifer Whitmore TD
jobs strategy for Limerick
Roundtable discussion hosted by
Transport sponsored by
Regional focus sponsored by
100 years of policing sponsored by
Healthtech sponsored by
DIGITAL MARKETING DUBLIN Thursday 8th September∙Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Dublin Register today at the early bird rate! Digital marketing is now more important than ever and should be at the heart of your organisation’s overall marketing strategy. Digital marketing techniques allow you to reach your audience in a cost-effective and quantifiable manner, this is especially important since the Covid-19 pandemic has forced many organisations to scale down their marketing budgets. #DMDublin will feature leading digital marketing experts who will examine best practice and achieving results, giving examples of successful campaigns, including a focus on targeting specific audiences through tools such as SEO, paid search and email marketing.
Speakers confirmed so far
Key issues to be examined: • Digital marketing strategy and planning • SEO • Email marketing • Content Marketing • Ecommerce strategy • Paid search advertising • Mobile marketing • Video • AI and technologies for digital marketing • Data and analytics • Securing budget and integration into wider marketing plans
Niamh Boyle National Social Media Coordinator GAA
Daniela Trifone Head of Automation – Growth & Personalisation, Digital & Data Marks & Spencer
Darragh Doyle Communications Lead Dublin City Council Culture Company
Alison Sheehy Digital Marketing Manager Gym+Coffee
Mark Henry Marketing Director Tourism Ireland
Cara Shields Digital Optimisation Manager An Post
Nico Fell Head of Content and Social 256
Lorraine Griffin Digital Consultant
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eolas Issue 52 June / July 2022 Digital
Cost of living gets costlier… Inflationary pressures abounded before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Now, the war and the associated sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation by western nations are exacerbating inflation, particularly in energy prices, beyond initial forecasts. Consequently, the cost of living has become costlier. In 2021, inflation averaged 5.2 per cent. However, conventionally, lowincome decile, rural, and older households spend a larger proportion of their income on energy and food. As a result of these consumption patterns, these households experienced significantly higher levels of inflation. Measures introduced by the Government in its February 2022 Cost-OfLiving package, coupled with a temporary cut to excise duties, aimed at insulating household incomes. Yet, disposable incomes are still expected to be eroded in real terms. While acknowledging that “an economic regime-change is now happening” on a global scale, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe TD has signalled that “there are limits to what government can do”. Eyes must now turn to Budget 2023 whereby the renewable energy transition and record high energy costs must be balanced against supplementary safeguards for society’s most vulnerable. Simultaneously, skill shortages will place pressure on wage rates, creating in a strong bargaining position for pay negotiators. Meanwhile, against a backdrop of external geopolitical uncertainties, the Irish electricity sector has remained steadfast in its trajectory, charting course for its renewable energy future. This is typified by ESB’s project to convert its coal-powered power plant at Moneypoint into a green energy hub. In this issue of eolas, ESB Chief Executive Paddy Hayes outlines how electrification offers a crosssectoral pathway to a net zero carbon future. Meanwhile, across our transport, regional focus, healthtech, Garda centenary reports, sectoral leaders detail their priorities and outline ambitions for the future. Interviewees and contributors in this issue include Justice Minister Helen McEntee TD; Garda Commissioner Drew Harris; Health Minister Stephen Donnelly TD; the HSE’s Head of Digital Transformation and Open Innovation, Martin Curley; Darren O’Rourke TD, Sinn Féin’s Environment Spokesperson; and RTÉ’s Six One News co-anchor, Caitríona Perry.
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FSC® is an acronym for the Forest Stewardship Council®, which is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization that was established to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests. The FSC® system provides an assurance that products such as wood and paper have been harvested in a socially and environmentally responsible manner. The FSC’s Chain of Custody certification provides a way in which the material can be tracked from the certified initial source through the manufacturing process to the end user.
E N V I RO N M E N T
Climate Action Plan 2021 progress report Administrative and capacity constraints, as well as the pace of the legislative process have been identified as some of the key reasons behind almost 30 per cent of measures in Climate Action Plan 2021 not being completed on schedule.
journey that Ireland has embarked upon by putting ambitious climate action targets into law through the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Act 2021”.
Desires for alignment with measures, technical complexity, and stakeholder consultation were also highlighted as challenges in the first progress report on the Climate Action Plan published in June 2022.
Actions delayed in Q4 2021 and Q1 2022 include the finalisation of Ireland’s long-term climate strategy; a new public sector decarbonisation strategy for delivery; final design for a microgeneration support scheme; and the enaction of the Circular Economy Bill 2021.
Detailing progress on 423 climate action measures due for delivery in Q4 2021 and Q1 2022, Progress Report on the Climate Action Plan 2021 says that the “challenging nature of climate action delivery remains evident, underscoring the difficult but necessary
The report suggests that many of these actions are expected to be completed in Q2 2022. Soon-to-be agreed sectoral emissions ceilings, setting specific emissions limits on sectors will be reflected in Climate Action Plan 2023, due to be published later this year.
P U B L I C A F FA I R S
Hume: ‘A man of vision, a man of peace’ bust unveiled A bust of the late John Hume has been unveiled at the European Parliament by Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD and President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola. In June 2022, coinciding with the Taoiseach’s address to the European Parliament in the debate series ‘This is Europe’, Martin presented the bust of the Nobel Peace Prize winner, who died in 2020. Created by Ballymena-born artist Liz O’Kane, the bust is one of four memorials to the former MEP, two of which have been installed in the Irish embassies in Washington DC and London, with a fourth set to be erected in the Department of Foreign Affairs’ headquarters in Dublin. The former SDLP leader was elected to the European Parliament five times and alongside his Nobel Peace Prize, shared with UUP leader David 4
Trimble for his role in the Good Friday Agreement, he was also awarded the Martin Luther King Award and the International Gandhi Peace Prize. Unveiling the bust, the Taoiseach said it served as a reminder of Hume’s “unwavering commitment to peace on the island of Ireland, his commitment to the European ideal, and the political skill and tenacity with which he bound them together”. “John Hume’s commitment to principles of nonviolence, of respect for diversity, equality and protection of fundamental rights, and his work for peaceful change and social progress has, and continues, to inspire many across Europe,” Martin said. “He was a man of vision, a man of peace. We salute him and we honour his legacy.”
VAT cut for tourism and hospitality extended to March 2023 A six-month extension of a 4.5 per cent VAT reduction for the tourism and hospitality industry introduced in response to pandemic is set to cost the Government €250 million.
accommodation and restaurant supplies through to amusement parks and hairdressing, the further extension is estimated to cost €250 million. The 9 per cent rate for these industries was
In May 2022, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe TD announced that the 9 per cent VAT rate, reduced down from the 13.5 per cent rate in Budget 2021, will stay in place until 1 March 2023.
reintroduced in Budget 2021 from 1 November 2020
Covering the same goods and services as the original measure, ranging from tourist
The 13.5 per cent rate is due to resume from 1
to 31 December 2021 at an estimated cost of €401 million. It was initially extended in Budget 2022 to 31 August at a further estimated cost of €251 million. March 2023.
D I G I TA L G OV E R N M E N T
Ireland’s first AI ambassador to promote a ‘human first’ approach Ireland’s first artificial intelligence (AI) ambassador says she sees a clear opportunity for Ireland to become a leader in a ‘humans first’ ethical approach to AI. Patricia Scanlon was appointed by Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Robert Troy TD in May 2022, fulfilling the commitment to appoint an AI Ambassador included in both the AI – Here for Good: A National AI Strategy for Ireland and Ireland’s National Digital Strategy, Harnessing Digital: The Digital Ireland Framework. Scanlon is the founder and CEO of SoapBox Labs, a developer of child-specific speech technology software. In 2018, she was listed by Forbes as one of the world’s top 50 women in tech. With AI expected to play a major role in shaping
global competitiveness and productivity in the coming decades, Scanlon will lead a national conversation on the role of AI in people’s lives, emphasising Ireland’s commitment to an ethical approach to the use of the technology and in particular its adoption by enterprise. Speaking after her appointment, Scanlon said: “I see a clear opportunity for Ireland to become a leader in advocating for and adopting an ethical approach to AI, that puts humans first. “In my new role I look forward to working to demystify AI and promoting the positive impacts it can have in areas such as health, agriculture, transport and education. I also am excited to hear the views of young people about the role they believe AI should have in shaping their futures and the future of Ireland in the coming decades.”
Celtic Interconnector granted partial permission An electricity connection between Ireland and France
supply and is a critical element of the Government’s
could be operational by 2026, following An Bord
Pleanála’s granting of planning permission for the onshore element of the €1 billion Celtic Interconnector project.
EirGrid sought planning permission in July 2021. A separate foreshore licence application has been submitted for the parts of the interconnector that will be
Set to carry 700MW (equivalent to the power used by
developed offshore. The project will also require a
around 450,000 homes) of power in both directions, the
marine licence by the UK Marine Management
interconnector will link from Cork to Brittany and is
being built by grid operator EirGrid and its French equivalent Réseau de Transport d’Électricité. Increased interconnection enhances Ireland’s security of
The European Commission's Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Energy Programme granted €530 million in funding for the project three years ago.
P U B L I C A F FA I R S
Government majority slimmed after Green Party suspensions The Government’s Dáil Éireann voting majority has been reduced to 80, exactly half of all TDs, after two Green Party TDs were suspended from the parliamentary party and had the whip removed.
Oversight Committee and Costello looks set to stay on as a member of the Committee on Children. The motion called for the new NMH to be built on land owned by the State. The vote needed the
TDs Patrick Costello and Neasa Hourigan were sanctioned after the pair backed a Sinn Féin motion calling for the new National Maternity Hospital to be built on land owned by the State, a motion the Government abstained on. Despite their suspension from the party, Hourigan is expected to retain her role as chair of the Budgetary
backing of 10 TDs to go ahead and this was ensured after Rural Independent TDs and the People Before Profit-Solidarity group provided their support. The pair’s suspension will last for six months, with a requirement to apply for readmission.
Value for Ireland, Values for the World The Government is to establish an Expert Group on Global Value Chains and Supply Chains to identify risks and opportunities to Ireland’s supply chain environment, amidst more frequent and regional risks confronting international supply chains. The establishment of the expert group was outlined in the publication in April 2022 of the Trade and Investment Strategy 2022-2026 Value for Ireland, Values for the World, which seeks to see sustainable growth through a diversification of export markets. Outlining seven priority actions, the strategy points to 2021 figures of international trade and investment supporting 1.3 million jobs and record high trade levels with the globe of €840 billion as evidence of Ireland’s dependency on global trade for its
economic wellbeing and pandemic recovery. Committed to in Our Shared Future, the Programme for Government and outlined as critical in the Government’s economic recovery plan. Implementation of the strategy will be overseen by the Trade and Investment Council, a crossgovernment and cross-agency body. An Expert Group on Global Value Chains and Supply Chains is committed to within the priority action of positioning Ireland within global value chains and supply chains. With other priorities spanning a review and refresh of local market teams – Ireland’s network of embassies, consulates, and state agency offices abroad – and maximising Ireland’s return from EU Free Trade Agreements.
32 per cent rise in data centre electricity use in one year Data centres are consuming just under 15 per cent of Ireland’s total metered electricity. Between 2015 and 2021, the percentage of metered electricity consumed by data centres rose from 5 per cent to 14 per cent, increasing by 7,757 GWh. From the start of 2015 to the end of 2021, the consumption of electricity by data centres has risen by 265 per cent. Electricity consumption between 2020 and 2021 alone rose by 32 per cent. The statistics show that in 2021, data centres used up a greater share of electricity consumption than the State’s rural homes. Overall, metered electricity consumption in the State rose by 16 per cent over six years, with data centres
accounting for almost three-quarters of that increase. The CSO attributed the increase in consumption to a combination of existing data centres using more electricity and new data centres being added to the grid. Last year, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) opted against imposing a moratorium on new data centre connection to the national grid but reserved the right to impose one amidst concern that data centre consumption could pose a risk to security of supply. The Climate Action Plan 2021 committed the Government to review its strategy on datacentres in the context of forthcoming emissions ceilings and wider renewable energy targets.
Sláintecare 2021 progress report published The Government has published its 2021 progress report for the implementation of the Sláintecare Reform Programme, showing that 87.7 per cent of 2021’s 228 deliverables have been progressed on track or “with minor challenges” and 12.3 per cent “are progressing with significant challenges”. Among the most notable of the deliverables said to be facing significant challenges is the development of the six regional health areas, key to the delivery of health in the community, a goal that is at the heart of the Sláintecare reforms. The two deliverables under this umbrella slated for the first six months of 2021 are said to face significant challenge, while the two deliverables in the second half of the year are said to face minor challenges. A regional health areas advisory group has been established by the Government and the report says that “workstreams will be undertaken in 2022”. The report also states that an extra 42 critical care, 813 acute and 73 sub-acute beds were opened in 2020/21, along with nine more primary care centres and the delivery of GP access to diagnostics in January 2021. As of the publication of the report, 147 primary care centres were in
operation in the State, with a further 28 in construction. The GP Direct Access to Diagnostics scheme provided GPs with access to radiology scans through private providers, allowing 138,000 radiology scans to be delivered in the community in 2021. The Sláintecare Integration Fund is said to have “facilitated the testing and evaluation of innovative models of care”, with 105 out of 123 projects having now been mainstreamed throughout the HSE. Overall, the funding of these projects is calculated to have resulted in 15,370 reduced referrals, 18,914 acute bed days avoided and 8,268 patients off waiting lists. Also calculated to have resulted in a reduction in waiting list numbers was the short-term Waiting List Action Plan, which covered the period of SeptemberDecember 2021 and resulted in a 5.4 per cent reduction in overall waiting lists from
760,700 to 720,056, in line with the reduction targeted at the outset of the plan. In line with Sláintecare’s goal of delivering healthcare in the community, programmes such as the Healthy Age Friendly Homes programme were delivered. Healthy Age Friendly Homes, funded by Sláintecare and delivered directly by local government through its Age Friendly Ireland shared service, “aims to enable older people to continue living in their homes or in a home best suited to their needs”. The programme received 800 referrals, undertook 630 home assessment visits, and progressed 1,295 interventions for older people. Approximately 20.5 million hours of home support delivered in 2021 with over 55,000 people receiving the service; these figures represent an increase of 2.9 million more
“My commitment and the Government’s commitment to reform and universal healthcare is clear and unwavering: we want to ensure every patient receives the right quality care, in the right place, at the right time.” Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD hours, or 17 per cent, compared to 2020 with increased funding having been maintained for 2022. Also key to the delivery of local healthcare was the establishment of 49 community healthcare networks, 15 specialist teams for older persons, and two chromic disease management teams. The implementation of Sláintecare was not without its controversies in 2021, with three high profile resignations from the Sláintecare implementation advisory council coming throughout the year. Executive Director Laura Magahy and Chairman Tom Keane resigned in September 2021, citing frustrations with the slow pace of progress in the plan. Later in the same month, Anthony O’Connor also resigned from the council, stating in a letter to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD that the original culture of Sláintecare had been “bulldozed” and that the replacements by government were “incongruous” with the principles of the reforms. Foreshadowing the news that the development of regional health areas had faced significant delays, O’Connor wrote that Sláintecare is “doomed to fail” and that devolution of powers to regions and communities “will not happen” and that “fundamental failures of governance, accountability, and commitment continue to make any chance of success impossible”. In response to these resignations, Secretary General at the Department of Health Robert Watt and HSE CEO Paul Reid have begun to oversee the implementation of the programme, with
Donnelly telling the Oireachtas Health Committee that this decision was taken because “change has to be owned by the people in the system itself”. A new programme board chaired by Watt and Reid has been established “to ensure that responsibility for the implementation of Sláintecare is fully embedded across both the Department and HSE”. Speaking upon the publication of the progress report, Donnelly reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to the delivery of Sláintecare: “My commitment and the Government’s commitment to reform and universal healthcare is clear and unwavering: we want to ensure every patient receives the right quality care, in the right place, at the right time… Targeted investment in areas such as the rollout of structured chronic disease programmes for people with a history of cardiovascular disease, COPD, asthma and type 2 diabetes in GP, nationwide GP access to diagnostics, additional home supports, additional critical care, acute inpatient and community bed capacity, each contribute to a more accessible, equal and fair health service for all. “Work has commenced on the establishment of a population-based approach to service planning and resource allocation. This will enable us to fund and resource the right kinds of services based on population need and not based on activity alone. Importantly, it will address health inequalities by ensuring that all areas of the population are appropriately represented in how we plan and fund services.”
Collaborating to deliver net zero ESB Chief Executive, Paddy Hayes, talks to Owen McQuade about the company’s Net Zero by 2040 strategy and how electricity offers other sectors a pathway to a net zero carbon future.
Moneypoint power station in County Clare typifies Ireland’s energy transition from carbon to clean energy. The site has been the home of a 855MW coal-fired plant since the early 1970s. ESB is determined to stop burning coal at Moneypoint by 2025 and has embarked on a project to convert the site into a green energy hub, known as Green Atlantic @ Moneypoint. The project started with the installation of five wind turbines on the site in 2017. The next phase of the project involves the installation of a €50 million synchronous condenser – which will be the world’s largest flywheel – to help stabilise the electricity grid as increasing quantities of
intermittent renewable electricity are connected. ESB also plans to build floating offshore wind turbines which will feed into a hydrogen production facility at Moneypoint. The Green Atlantic @ Moneypoint project reflects ESB’s new strategy, Driven to Make a Difference: Net Zero by 2040, which was launched in February 2022. “In developing the strategy we went down to brass tacks and looked at the purpose of the organisation. We peeled that back to three of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that underpin everything we do: access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy
for all; build resilient infrastructure; and take urgent action to combat climate change,” explains Hayes, who was appointed Chief Executive of ESB in August 2021. Hayes insists that the purpose of ESB has always been linked to the first two of those goals and since 2015, aligned with ESB’s previous Brighter Future Strategy, the utility has also focused on what the electricity sector could bring to climate action. “The electricity sector in Ireland has already made significant progress on climate action, with over 40 per cent of electricity in 2020 generated from
renewable energy sources. The carbon intensity of the sector has fallen rapidly, and the target is to go further and faster, generating 80 per cent of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030,” he continues. Hayes identifies clean electricity as being a critically important vehicle for climate action: “It's not just about taking carbon out of electricity itself, but helping customers and communities to use that clean electricity to take carbon out of their heating and transport and helping them to play their part in the clean energy transition.” Pillar one of the strategy is to decarbonise electricity. ESB is ramping up its investment in renewables while ESB Networks and NIE Networks are focused on connecting renewable electricity projects for all developers and maximising the amount of renewable electricity connected to the network. Meanwhile, pillar two focuses on resilient infrastructure. “As more renewables connect to the network, resilience becomes even more critical and new technologies will be needed.” This transition of the electricity system will incorporate battery storage, as exemplified by ESB’s recent €150 million investment in a two-hour 150MW battery in Aghada, County Cork, which together with an existing 38MW battery store, will help the system to remain stable and provide additional capacity at peak times. Furthermore, it includes the synchronous condenser at Moneypoint, which is currently under construction and will support system stability at times of higher renewables penetration. As part of this overall transition of the electricity system, Hayes also sees a role for transitionary gas-fired generation, allowing more carbon intense generation to retire and supporting system security until the infrastructure for storing and balancing surplus renewable electricity is fully developed.
Paddy Hayes, John Wall, Mark Scully, Stephen O’Mahony and Katie Wall.
“By getting to net zero early, the electricity ecosystem will provide the clean electricity that provides other sectors with a pathway to net zero.” ESB Chief Executive, Paddy Hayes times,” the ESB chief explains, adding: “There will also be periods when the wind does not blow. The key challenge, therefore, is to take that surplus clean electricity and to store or convert it so that it can be used when it is needed. “That long-term system balancing aspect is crucial to achieving higher percentages of renewables on the system and, ultimately, a net zero electricity system.”
Hayes believes that consumers can also play a part in this system balancing. “A pilot project with smart meters identified that engaged customers were not only able to reduce their electricity usage by 2 to 3 per cent but could also shift as much as 9 per cent of their demand from peak times. Shaving demand or shifting it from the peak and moving that demand to when there is surplus clean energy, could have a significant benefit in terms of both cost and carbon.”
A key element of the electricity infrastructure that will support increased renewables is ‘balance’. “Further investment in renewable generation will mean surplus clean electricity at certain
The third and final pillar of the strategy is to help customers use clean electricity to decarbonise other sectors, such as heat or transport. ESB has partnered with Tipperary Energy Agency to establish
Electric Ireland Superhomes, assisting people to retrofit their homes so they can use electricity for heating via heat pumps. On the clean transport side, ESB plans to double the amount of public EV charging points it owns and operates. Along with the expansion plans of other charging point providers, this will support the Government’s ambitious objective of accelerating the number of electric cars on Ireland’s roads and supporting customers and communities to decarbonise their transport.
Engaging customers Within ESB, in recent years, there has been a significant emphasis on engaging customers in the energy transition. In 2021, ESB Networks embarked upon an innovative three-year pilot project on the Dingle Peninsula, or Corca Dhuibhne, County Kerry investigating how customers and communities will engage with clean energy and technology and find ways to play their part in climate action. “We saw individuals putting solar generation on their roofs and using the electricity from those to charge their
agenda issues coverissues story eolas
Another key capability underpinning the strategy is digitalisation, and ESB is accelerating its digital and data-driven approach. “This is a real opportunity to make a difference, particularly in our contact with customers,” the ESB chief suggests. Likewise, Hayes believes that digitalisation will be pivotal to developing the electricity network of the future. “Digital technology will support customers connected to an evolving electricity network. It will enable customers to charge their electric vehicles and heat their homes with heat pumps while connected to a network that was built for a much lower demand.
“…there is so much to be done and climate action is the challenge of a generation. It is so important to reach out beyond ESB and collaborate with other industry players and organisations outside the sector.” electric vehicles. Other people trialled vehicle to grid chargers, allowing their electric car battery to offer power back to the grid at peak times. This community-based pilot showcased many examples of domestic, farming, and small business customers becoming much more involved in clean energy production and use. Appreciating how people will interact with the different technologies and the take up of clean electricity is so important and, given ESB Networks’ role, the learnings and data from this innovative pilot will be reported publicly and made available to all,” Hayes reflects.
Investment and capabilities Increased investment is required for the clean energy transition and that is
reflected in ESB’s strategy. ESB’s rate of capital investment in infrastructure for a number of years was around the €1 billion mark, increasing to €1.4 billion in 2021, and will increase further to €1.7 billion for the 2022. Ultimately, Hayes expects the rate of investment to increase to €2 billion by the end of the decade. Underpinning ESB’s strategy are a number of ‘foundational’ capabilities, which, Hayes emphasises, are critical for ESB. Importantly, ESB is “challenging itself to step forward on sustainability and social responsibility. And that is a big challenge as we have a wide operational footprint, with lots of scope for improvements and opportunities to make a difference. It is important that we constantly reduce the environmental impact of our operations.”
“This will require a complete transformation of the electricity distribution system, a quiet transformation, with digitalisation playing a key role in facilitating the cost effective electrification of heat and transport and supporting customers who want to have their own microgeneration and storage, or who want to offer power back to the grid.”
Culture and innovation While much of the focus in the energy sector is on hard infrastructure, ESB has just started a recruitment drive and Hayes highlights the importance of people with relevant skills to support the investment in infrastructure and technology. Another critical aspect of the people factor is culture. When asked to define the culture of ESB, Hayes replies: “Firstly, there is a real sense of purpose and service for customers and communities. That has evolved through years of ‘keeping the lights on’ and has expanded to include urgent action on climate change, reinforcing that original sense of purpose and the drive to make a difference. “Secondly, it is a sense of openness and inclusivity. My personal experience has been of a really welcoming organisation. Maintaining that sense of inclusivity is a priority. The nature of our operations means that we work in and with and provide services to every community so maintaining that sense of inclusion and purpose will help us to work with customers and communities to get to net zero.”
Insisting that ESB has been very innovative over the years, albeit sometimes “in a quiet way”, Hayes contends that it is increasingly important that people see that they are joining and working in an innovative organisation with a real sense of purpose. This is particularly pertinent in the context of talent management challenges now prevalent across all sectors.
Collaboration Overall, ESB is an organisation that has changed considerably in the 25 years since the electricity market in Ireland opened up to competition. Today, amid the climate challenge, and against a backdrop of rapidly evolving technologies, it is a different world that requires a different approach. “We acknowledge that there is so much to be done and climate action is the challenge of a generation. It is so important to reach out beyond ESB and collaborate with other industry players and organisations outside the sector. The electricity system is transforming rapidly and everyone will have a part to play, from other electricity generation and supply companies, researchers, and academics to the offshore industry, and the chemical industry for hydrogen production and energy storage. Developing a much wider range of skills and complementary capabilities will be critical to the ultimate delivery of net zero. “Similarly, we are likely to see, and to need the input of, companies that do not yet exist or are just emerging, including aggregators of supply and demand, while customers and communities will also play an increasingly important role,” he adds.
Katie Wall, Paddy Hayes and Mark Scully at the Synchronous Condenser.
and onshore wind, in solar and in energy storage.” This perspective was reinforced during his time leading ESB Independent Generation, which invested in many power plants as joint ventures, including the Corby Power Station in the UK, with German utility EON, while Amorebieta Power Station in northern Spain was a JV with Osaka Gas of Japan. “A co-operative and collaborative approach, that feeds directly into our culture is so important. In addition to
being inclusive and innovative, there is much to gain from being more open and collaborative. The prize is not being the biggest or the first but, together, achieving net zero. “By getting to net zero early, the electricity ecosystem will provide the clean electricity that provides other sectors with a pathway to net zero. To deliver net zero in time, it is critical that we remain open to working with others and doing things differently,” he concludes.
Profile: Paddy Hayes Paddy Hayes was appointed Chief Executive of ESB in August 2021. A Chartered Engineer, with an
Hayes believes that given the range and complexity of the developments that will be required to develop the future electricity ecosystem, joint ventures (JVs) will become the norm. His experience with Synergen, which was a joint venture between ESB and Statoil, has been central to this thesis.
MBA from the University of Warwick, he graduated from University College Dublin with a master’s
“I saw what can be achieved when you have two partners with complementary capabilities and a shared vision, and I think JVs and partnerships will be central to what we do in future in both offshore
Wholesale Markets business unit before being appointed Managing Director of ESB Networks, where
degree in engineering. He then worked with British Steel in England and in Scotland. Returning to Ireland in 1999, he led the Synergen joint venture between ESB and Statoil before managing ESB’s Dublin power plants at Poolbeg and North Wall. He then headed up ESB Independent Generation which minded the company’s investments in independent power plants in Corby and Marchwood, UK, Amorebieta, Spain, and Coolkeeragh in County Derry as well as Synergen and ESB’s growing renewable portfolio. Paddy then spent six years as Executive Director of ESB’s Generation and
it became clear that “electricity has the potential to do much of the heavy lifting around climate action for consumers and communities”.
cover story eolas issues
Sinn Féin’s Darren O’Rourke TD: Delivering on the green transition Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson on Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport, Darren O’Rourke TD, speaks with Ciarán Galway, outlining his party’s energy and climate policy, as well as the challenges of constructive opposition. A biomedical scientist by training, O’Rourke just lost out on a place in the Dáil in 2016 when Fine Gael’s Regina Doherty took the third and final seat, before subsequently topping the Meath East poll in 2020. Prior to his election to the Dáil, the Kells native served as a councillor on Meath County Council for the Ashbourne Local Electoral Area between 2014 and 2020. Previously, he had also worked as an advisor to party colleague, Matt Carthy TD, and as a Sinn Féin policy advisor in Leinster House. O’Rourke has been tasked with marking Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications and Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan TD. Indicating that he was “very grateful” to take up the role, he acknowledges: “To some degree, it was a step into the unknown. But it is a really
interesting area and a huge area of change. The thing that immediately strikes me in relation to it is how climate change is an issue of social justice and equality. They are inextricably linked.”
Coherence To date, Sinn Féin’s energy and climate policy has been characterised as incoherent and lacking in detail, relative to its housing and health policies. Naturally, this is a criticism that the party’s environment and climate spokesperson rejects, labelling it an “inaccurate critique”. “My colleague [Senator] Lynn Boylan and I would have had very detailed involvement in the development of the [Climate Action and Low Carbon Development (Amendment) Bill 2021], bringing forward a range of amendments. We have brought
forward legislation ourselves and our party has a long track record,” he explains. Instancing the work of his predecessor, Brian Stanley TD, O’Rourke highlights the Microgeneration Support Scheme Bill 2017 as an example of this track record. “We still do not have a feed-in tariff and with all due credit to Brian, had that Bill been taken in good faith, amended if necessary, and acted on in 2017, we would now have a microgeneration scheme that is far stronger than what we have,” he asserts.
Community dividend Placing an emphasis on “the need for the State to lead” the green transition, O’Rourke believes that there should be an enhanced role for organisations such as ESB, Coillte, and Bord na Móna, among others.
issues eolas “At the heart of that is the need for a fair and just transition,” he insists, asking: “Where is the community dividend, where is the community return, where is the State ownership, where is the State leading on these issues?” While acknowledging the specific community-led projects aspect of the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS), he maintains that the Government’s ambitions for communityled renewable energy are insufficient and that there is untapped potential. “The Government has eventually come onto the same page as us. On paper, we agree that there needs to be ambition for solar PV on schools, farms, and homes. The problem we have with government is that it is not acting on or enabling it. “We think that there is a case for additional support with grid connection fees for community projects as well,” he adds. “There is considerable scope for greater understanding of the need for this type of infrastructure and cooperation and engagement with communities to deliver it. That is absolutely not to say that there is not a role for the private sector. We know that there is and will be into the future, but it is about the blend.”
Green hydrogen At the close of 2021, O’Rourke launched his Green Hydrogen Strategy Bill 2022 seeking to “ensure the State is prepared to realise the full potential of green hydrogen through the preparation of a national hydrogen strategy”. Initiated in February 2022 and currently at Dáil Second Stage, the Private Members’ Bill would, if enacted, oblige the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications to draft and publish a hydrogen strategy within six months. “As in all of these cases, we would rather that the Government lifted it, ran with it, and delivered it itself. It would be the most efficient way to get it done,” O’Rourke remarks. Defining what a national hydrogen strategy for Ireland would look like, the Sinn Féin spokesperson alludes to the European Commission’s strategy which was published in July 2020 and the Scottish experience.
“In the context of failing to provide affordable, achievable alternatives for people, the principle of the polluter pays and carbon pricing itself is not something that we are opposed to.” Darren O’Rourke TD, Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson on Environment, Climate, Communications and Transport
“It is all about the statement of intent, of showing researchers and early adapters in this space that there is a commitment in Ireland to support and to try to nurture that, bringing it to its maximum potential,” he begins, adding: “There are scientific and technological developments, and some will be more successful than others. But I think it is important for Ireland to realise the potential of this.”
Offshore wind Equipped with an 80 by 30 target, by which it intends to increase the share of electricity generated from renewable sources from 4.5GW to approximately 15GW, the Government has committed to delivering a target of 5GW of offshore wind by 2030. However, while the Phase One offshore wind projects are in the early stages, O’Rourke is sceptical that this commitment will be met. “We are hearing from informed sources that there is a real chance that even with the delivery of the committed projects, there will be a failure to deliver the 5GW and that we should consider, for example, going with a floating offshore auction or at least a ring-fenced floating offshore auction earlier than had been initially intended, with the opportunity to bring in some of that west coast wind towards the end of the decade or early into the 2030s,” he states.
Recognising the significant potential of Ireland’s offshore wind resources, the Sinn Féin TD stresses the volume of preparatory work required to unlock this at scale. Discussing the development of the National Marine Planning Framework and the resourcing of An Bord Pleanála, he emphasises the need for immediate action. “According to Wind Energy Ireland, it takes approximately 10 years to develop, consent, design, finance, construct, and commission a typically sized offshore wind farm. It is that idea of queueing theory; decisions that are made now have a knock-on effect. We must make decisions now to be ready to begin production in 2024, 2025, 2026, and 2027. The concern is that if the institutions are not up and running, there will be further delay.”
Onshore wind In November 2021, Sinn Féin withdrew its widely criticised Wind Turbine Regulation Bill 2020. If enacted, the Bill would have severely restricted the development of onshore wind in Ireland, as well as ban the export of energy produced by onshore turbines. Regardless, O’Rourke denies that his party makes a distinction between onshore and offshore wind. “The Bill was drafted at a different time and was of its time. This is the nature of opposition legislation; you go in, try to tease it out,
alternatives for people, the principle of the polluter pays and carbon pricing itself is not something that we are opposed to,” he says. Explicitly, his party censured the approach taken by successive governments, and he identifies a perceived failure to offset the real impact of fuel price increases for “the ordinary people that I represent, and who know that things are getting tougher”.
“Even if the next general election is in 2025, this government will have missed every one of its annual emissions reduction targets.” and improve on it,” he insists. “What it sought to do was to ensure an appropriate framework for the development of onshore wind. The objective is to maximise the amount of onshore wind and to ensure that it is delivered in a fair way that engages local communities. “It is important to recognise that there is a particular challenge there. It is frustrating for communities. If you look at the number of parliamentary questions, put down, including by former ministers, wondering where the new [Wind Energy Development Guidelines] are. “The important point to take from that is that these are contentious developments that need proper planning and proper engagement to ensure their delivery. The industry itself has got better at it.”
Carbon tax Meanwhile, major reductions to carbon emissions are going to be required to meet national objectives and European obligations on climate action. Indeed, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change has suggested that a high price on carbon is crucial. Despite this, Sinn Féin has vociferously opposed successive increases in the carbon tax. In the context of spiralling fuel and energy costs, O’Rourke insists that the concept of carbon tax as an environmental tax to drive behavioural change is redundant. “The level of elasticity within the system has shown that when people do not have options and they do not have alternatives, it is practically impossible for them to wean themselves off fossil fuels. The effect of a carbon tax, or increases on the price of carbon, in that context, is punitive,” he contends. “An important point to say is that we have had carbon taxes here in Ireland since 2010; our emissions have increased every single year or certainly have not reduced. The same will be said for the first three years of this government.” However, O’Rourke maintains that Sinn Féin is not entirely opposed to the concept of a carbon tax. “In the context of failing to provide affordable, achievable
Ultimately, O’Rourke maintains that climate action must simultaneously ensure that those who are most exposed – the poorest and the most vulnerable – are protected during the green transition. “For me, the transition should not drive people into poverty or further into poverty,” he says, adding: “It is about providing alternatives for people and supports for people to transition, particularly if they are dependent on fossil fuels.”
Vision Criticising what he perceives to be a lack of vision in the Government’s approach to climate action, O’Rourke suggests that broad agreement across the political spectrum for “real and urgent climate action” has been squandered. “We need to wean ourselves off fossil fuels as quickly and as aggressively as possible, and transition to renewables. We have a spectacular resource in wind. We have an excellent resource in solar. We have the state agencies to realise that potential and we have the potential to create an environment that will realise that ambition. But government is failing to do that in terms of the institutions and the architecture to deliver on that,” he concludes. “Even if the next general election is in 2025, this government will have missed every one of its annual emissions reduction targets. That is a very significant statement, and it is the greatest proof of policy failure. “I believe that there is a better way and the way to actually deliver on the transition is to do it fairly, with communities, and to harness the keen interest and ability of communities to deliver on this.”
Minster Foley unveils Leaving Certificate reforms
Minister for Education Norma Foley TD announced planned reforms for the secondary-level senior cycle in late-March 2022, with the most immediate change that those entering fifth year in September 2023 will now sit Leaving Cert papers one in Irish and English at the end of fifth year. Longer-term reforms to the senior cycle will also include the introduction of two new subjects – drama, film and theatre studies, and climate action and sustainable development – that will be piloted in schools from 2024, and adjustments to the weighting of overall grades, with a maximum of 60 per cent of final grades to be based on written exams and the remainder to come from assessment components such as project work, oral examinations, or practical exams. Curricula and assessment models will also be updated in chemistry, physics, biology, and business studies. With exams to now be spread over the two years of the senior cycle, authorities have clarified that those who find themselves repeating their Leaving Cert will be permitted to redo all exams in the space of one year. While the pilot schools for these new subjects, curricula and assessment models have yet to be decided, it is likely to be 2028 at the earliest when these reforms are rolled out across all schools, meaning that those currently in any year of second-level education are unlikely to encounter the new Leaving Cert. While the move away from the traditional three-week intensive exam period has been welcomed, the CAO points system is unlikely to change as yet, meaning pressure on students to secure points will still be prevalent. Commenting upon the launch of the reforms, Minister
Foley said: “This is an ambitious programme of reform. It will enrich students’ educational experience by increasing their choices to match their interests and enhancing teaching and learning. It will reduce the pressure on students that comes from final assessments based primarily on examinations. We will move to a model that uses other forms of assessment, over a less concentrated time period, in line with international best practice.” Teachers have responded to the proposed reforms in a manner consistent with the proclamations of their unions in the lead up to their unveiling; having performed assessments on their own students on a “no precedent” basis during the Covid-stricken Leaving Certs of 2020 and 2021, they have once again stated their opposition to permanently carrying out assessments of their own students. Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) President Eamon Dennehy said: “It is longstanding ASTI policy that certification in the state exams is entirely externally assessed. This must be retained in all aspects of the development of the Leaving Cert. It vital that the integrity of the state exams system is maintained… It is essential that the mistakes made in the introduction of the Framework for Junior Cycle in recent years, which sidelined the voice of teachers, must not be repeated.”
How can we accelerate renewable energy deployment in Ireland? KPMG hosted a roundtable discussion on renewable electricity development, which is central to the Government’s climate action ambitions. How has government policy assisted your renewables journey up to this point? Cathal Hennessy The energy sector is very regulated because it is a public need. Without regulation, there would be no industry. Without European policy directing national policy, there probably would not be the urgency for national policy to have the impetus to decarbonise the economy. The first significant introductions of onshore wind and hydro on to the grid in the 1990s were very important, but it is the decarbonisation and renewable electricity targets for 2030 that are now driving the sector, which again come from the European
framework. The challenge is at a national level, where the targets are strong and robust at governmental level, but when we get down to local implementation, that is where things get stuck. Val Cummins There has been a sizeable shift in policy progress, but we started from a very low base. Ireland is a small island nation with a maritime area seven times of its land mass, and we have been very slow to begin the development of our offshore renewable energy. In the last few years there has been an awakening. A key shift was in the Programme for Government when the Government published an ambition for 30GW of floating offshore wind off the west coast. A second point was the target for offshore wind in the
Round table discussion hosted by
Climate Action Plan which has subsequently been upgraded to 5GW. That is really important for getting the supply chain and the sector going. The planning regime for the marine planning has also been vital. They were all important milestones but because we started from a low base, the progress has been relatively incremental, and we still have a huge gap to fill. James Delahunt At a high level, overall government policy ambition has been very good in terms of attracting investment interest. In KPMG, we have spoken to nearly 200 potential investors in the last two to three years, and 100 in the last three months. They are attracted by a government that set out a Climate Action Plan in 2019, then the Programme for Government embedded that plan in 2020. Having a Green Party as part of the coalition helped raise climate action ambition and the 2021 Climate Action Plan revised the ambition to 80 per cent renewable electricity. Setting that national ambition, broadly supported by the Government and the opposition parties, is something
that provides international capital with a good degree of comfort. Tara Reale The promise of RESS and the subsequent confirmation that there will be at least four onshore RESS auctions is what enabled us to develop in Ireland and invest in the country, despite some of the challenges and uncertain economics around solar in the country. Similarly, the Climate Action Plan, the 80 per cent by 2030 target, these have enabled us to build a business case for staying in the country. It is a little bit more challenging as there are no alternative routes to market, but these are still positive as the Government has enabled us to develop here.
Roundtable participants Val Cummins Val Cummins is Managing Director of the Emerald and Western Star floating wind joint venture partnerships between the Simply Blue Group and Shell. She joined Simply Blue as Ireland Projects Director in 2021 following 21 years as a researcher and entrepreneurial academic in University College Cork. Val is also Chair of the Wind Energy Ireland FLOSH Committee (floating offshore wind, supergrid and hydrogen); a council member of Wind Energy Ireland; and a council member and non-executive director of the Marine Renewables Industry Association (MRIA). An Eisenhower Fellow, she is co-editor of the Coastal Atlas of Ireland, published in 2021 and winner of the An Post Best Irish Published Book of the Year and served as co-chair of Future Earth Coasts from 2016 to 2020.
Peter Lynch Our mandate is to deliver 1GW of new onshore wind projects by 2030. That is significant and to get there we had to look at our policy pillars. Fundamentally, they were there in the 2016-2018 period with the underlying EU legislation being transposed into Ireland and the success of REFIT. That example should not go unmentioned: a well-designed structure worked for everybody in the ecosystem, from developers to owner-operators and investors. For those reasons, there is an understanding that the country can do this. The headline pillars are rock solid from a European perspective down into Ireland and all of these things have been important in giving our business the confidence to go forward.
Cathal Hennessy Cathal Hennessy is the Managing Director of RWE Renewables Ireland. Cathal leads the growth of RWE’s renewables business in Ireland, which currently includes onshore wind, offshore wind, and battery storage developments. Having started his career in renewables with the Irish state forestry company Coillte, primarily working on the successful development of their REFIT 2 assets, Cathal joined Europe’s largest solar PV developer, Lightsource bp, establishing their Irish business. He holds a science degree from University College Dublin, and post-graduate qualifications in sustainable energy finance, accountancy, and project management.
What are the most significant barriers inhibiting renewable energy capacity in Ireland, and what policy changes could overcome these challenges?
Peter Lynch Peter Lynch is the CEO of FuturEnergy Ireland, the renewable energy development company which was established in late 2021 and is jointly owned by Coillte and ESB. Prior to this, Peter was the Managing Director of the Renewable Energy Division in the Coillte Group, having previously held senior commercial positions for Mainstream Renewable Power in its European offshore wind division and for NTR plc in its US solar business. Peter started his career as a corporate lawyer with a leading Irish law firm and holds a law degree from UCD and an MBA from INSEAD. He is a director and the current Chairperson of Wind Energy Ireland (WEI).
Cathal Hennessy Grid infrastructure is the number one risk for all renewable energy deployment. Firstly, the key concern is that ESB Networks and EirGrid do not have the necessary resources to deliver on the 2030 targets and beyond. Secondly, Ireland is unique in that it does not offer firm grid connections. That means you have to factor in dispatch down into your financial model – that can mean 10, 12, even 14 per cent dispatch down for some regions in Ireland and that in turn is passed onto the consumer. That gives a disincentive to invest in the Irish market and that’s not the case in other European markets.
Tara Reale As Head of Business Development for Lightsource bp (LSbp) across the UK and Ireland, Tara Reale is responsible for the overall management of all LSbp development activity in Ireland and leads on the development of the early-stage pipeline in the UK, including the expansion of the business into co-located storage and green hydrogen. Prior to joining LSbp, Tara was a Principal Project Manager for Amey Investments, a Senior Technical and Commercial Adviser for Mott MacDonald, and a Structural Engineer with Aecom. Tara graduated from UCC in 2009 as a civil and environmental engineer, before completing a PhD in asset management at Trinity College Dublin in 2013.
Tara Reale Grid is also the big issue for us but with a different nuance. Getting the capacity in
James is a Director in KPMG’s Corporate Finance practice and leads the renewable energy mergers and acquisitions and financing service line of KPMG Sustainable Futures. James has advised on over €3 billion worth of energy transactions totalling over 4GW of assets in recent years. He also advises developers and investors on the financing strategy in relation to their asset portfolios.
Electricity Future was arrived at. It’s critical for us as we are looking to land 800MW off the south coast, with 400MW into Cork Harbour. Secondly, the low hanging fruit was ignored in Shaping Our Electricity Future. For example, the west coast was not considered adequately, with no plan to connect offshore wind to existing grid capacity at Moneypoint. Finally, we can accelerate offshore wind development by looking at hybrid grid connections, whereby two or more generation sources can share a grid connection. Peter Lynch
“We can accelerate offshore wind development by looking at hybrid grid connections, whereby two or more generation sources can share a grid connection.” Val Cummins the first instance is the challenge for us. EirGrid’s onshore transmission plan is based on 1GW of solar PV by 2030. With the focus on offshore wind, we seem to be putting all our eggs in one basket. Offshore generation is certainly an opportunity, but will it be there is sufficient scale by 2030. Whereas onshore wind could be deployed much quicker and there is already a huge pipeline of projects. There is a lot of uncertainty around grid connections. ECP (enduring connection policy) 2.3 is due this September and there has been no announcement if the same type of rollout [of connection offers] will continue into the future. This is a huge concern for us. We are keen to invest in Ireland but it’s difficult to make a business case for that investment with such an uncertain regulatory framework. Peter Lynch The issue of resources is a much more fundamental problem. Until now we have just about got by with the existing structure, but it appears to be grinding to a halt. We are talking about doubling our renewable ambition in half the time and the multiple effect of that is critical. When we talk about resourcing, we need to
look at the detail. The all-of-government approach makes sense, but resourcing issues go beyond the grid companies. They affect all the main players such as ABP, CRU and the local councils. Resourcing issues go beyond just the head count. It’s about understanding required specific capabilities and skills. This issue is even more difficult as we are asking more and more of these organisations as the industry grows exponentially. Now is a good time to stand back and see what resources we need across all agencies to deliver these ambitious targets. James Delahunt The barriers can be grouped into four categories: land; planning; grid; and route to market. The big issue cutting across all these is resourcing and skills within the agencies and also in the wider energy sector in Ireland. We see our clients facing challenges in recruiting quality people to deliver on their own ambitions. For government policy, it is an issue that goes beyond DECC (Department of Environment, Climate and Communications) to other departments such as Department of the Taoiseach and Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Val Cummins We would put grid as the main barrier also. Firstly, on the issue of grid reinforcements and upgrades, there is a lack of confidence in how Shaping Our
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In terms of leadership, the sector is good at talking to itself. Testimony to this is the recent Wind Energy Ireland (WEI) annual conference, a great event with excellent content, but could be viewed as being too inward-focused. There is a unique opportunity to grasp and a potential threat to avoid with the upcoming REPowerEU proposals, which look as if they will give priority to renewable energy projects across a few fronts. However, if it is too blunt an instrument or poorly introduced into Ireland, we run the risk of disenfranchising certain groups which should participate in the transition process. If that legislation comes through, we need to ensure a correct balance is struck. Without that balance, we will make things much harder for all renewable electricity developments in the longer run and risk opening up a new cycle of legal challenges. We are already seeing aspects of this at a lower level, where local councils are finding it difficult to support county development plans that are future-proofed for climate action. In many cases, the planning regulator is now intervening. Regional planning needs to be implemented and done so properly. While REPowerEU has great potential for the sector, the challenge is that it will require both quick and careful transposition to local law and implementation from there. Cathal Hennessy Another barrier is the market. We are a very small electricity market. Renewable electricity from onshore and offshore wind and solar PV most likely is the lowest cost of new generation which drives down the cost of electricity. That is good for consumers but from an investor perspective this damages the signals from the market. To address this we need policy interventions to encourage more investment in interconnection and to facilitate the development of new demand sources for electricity. Most recently, we have seen negative policies towards demand sources of electricity, such as data
centres – that is a retrograde step. To facilitate more renewables and more investment in local communities and in Irish supply chains we need more demand. That is a key risk and there is a tipping point where investment signals will stop.
How can Ireland increase its international competitiveness to better secure capital investment in renewables? James Delahunt
Tara Reale We need to attract both capital and investors. A key difficulty, particularly for PV, is that RESS is the only route to market. There needs to be alternative routes to give developers certainty. Although each of the different renewable electricity technologies have their own difficulties, a common problem is curtailment. A recent decision on the grandfathering of constraints on the system means that all generation on the system before 2019 has priority over generation after that date. It is a complete unknown for new generation projects and as more new projects come onto to the system the level of constraint will only increase. That is extremely difficult for investors who are taking a long-term view. I work across the UK and Ireland, and I am asked why is Ireland so expensive? That is due to business rates that are two to three times higher than in the UK and network charges in Ireland are based per
“We need to maintain the market attractiveness to attract capital with policy certainty and clear timelines. We are competing with other jurisdictions where the base case for planning will not be appealed and going to judicial review or An Bord Pleanála.”
To achieve Ireland’s renewable electricity ambitions, it will require the largest public and private investment into a single sector in the history of the State. This will mostly come from international capital, which is in demand worldwide. From an Irish perspective we need to ensure that we are not complacent about attracting this capital. Capital has been plentiful in recent years but that may be about to change. Some global capital providers have already decided to focus on other markets. Not because Ireland has done anything wrong; it is just that they do not have the bandwidth to cover all markets. From a policy perspective, we cannot take the availability of capital for granted. We need to maintain the market attractiveness to attract capital with policy certainty and clear timelines. We are competing with other jurisdictions where the base case for planning will not be appealed and going to judicial review or An Bord Pleanála. RESS has been good at attracting investment, but we also need a corporate PPA (power purchase agreements) strategy.
James Delahunt megawatt rather than per megawatt hour, which is difficult for technologies with lower capacity factors. EirGrid and ESB have very stringent specifications and getting more so. We all end up paying for over-specified substations that are not necessary. Peter Lynch On the positive side, we have the wind resource, and we have a track record of developing it that is the envy of most developed countries. The deployment level of renewable electricity is high but mostly on the shoulders of onshore wind. However, there are a number of impediments to this. The effective transposition of EU laws is important. Firstly, we need to go back to source and ensure any rules set down at an EU level work for Ireland. Secondly, we can do better on the transposition itself, particularly around ensuring regulations are fit for purpose. We need to avoid cliff edges in policy. The road maps have been helpful and RESS, although late, has been good, but the lack of visibility on the next grid connection rounds is not helpful. We need to avoid these policy cliff edges if we are to attract investors into Ireland. Thirdly, we need to avoid own goals. The fact that the wind energy guidelines are still unresolved is a big own goal and creates a fog of uncertainty. Investors and developers coming into this market for the first time
are asking which policy framework is relevant. We need clarity as soon as possible. Val Cummins The attraction and retention of FDI is a key issue for the sector. There is a high level of interest in investing in renewable energy in Ireland but the experience of investors has not always been positive. For example, Equinor departed from offshore wind last year citing frustration with our regulatory system. We need to be much more competitive in the offshore wind sector, with an industrial strategy to develop the sector in Ireland. We have had success in developing other sectors through the work of IDA and Enterprise Ireland and they should now focus on the renewable energy supply chain opportunity: job creation and skills development. Offshore wind development is being driven by DECC, whereas we need to bring in an enterprise dimension to policy, including a policy on how we develop our ports in relation to the offshore wind sector. Cathal Hennessy In RWE, we invest globally and we firstly
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that is a huge challenge. Secondly, the cost of doing business in Ireland is an issue. The levelised cost of energy (LCOE) for Irish projects is extremely high. We have a higher LCOE than countries, such as Italy, that have much less wind resources. We have the same wind resource as Scotland, and they have a LCOE 20 to 30 per cent lower. The higher costs are due things like to business rates and grid costs. As we move towards a merchant market in future years Ireland will not be competitive. James Delahunt
“Now is a good time to stand back and see what resources we need across all agencies to deliver these ambitious targets.” Peter Lynch look for certainty on policy. All policy
certainty it is difficult to make investment
makers from local councillors all the way
decisions and it also has a knock-on
up to the Minister have an important role
effect on time frames. In Ireland, the
in delivering policy certainty. Without that
planning time frames are unknown and
Inflation is now an issue for renewable energy project development. In other jurisdictions with both, PPAs or auctions inflation are often applied. This is particularly important in offshore wind where the construction periods are longer. Ireland does not have inflation applied to onshore RESS and it is now a problem in a higher inflation environment.
Which emerging energy technologies will play the greatest role in accelerating Ireland’s renewables deployment? Val Cummins
“As we move towards a market with a higher penetration of renewables, we are going to need longduration storage, which is not quite commercially viable yet. We need to get the supports in place to enable those projects to be there when they are needed rather than this punctuated delay that we would see otherwise.” Tara Reale
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In the context of floating offshore wind, work done by MaREI and Wind Energy Ireland indicated that by 2050, we will need 27GW of wind energy. We have an enormous opportunity with regards to our abundant wind resource and floating offshore wind in particular to look at alternative routes to market. In terms of our technology enablers, this is very much about hydrogen production, in particular to get into markets requiring injecting fuel, e-methanol, and green ammonia. We hear about the need for a hydrogen strategy; I would go a step further and say we need an alternative routes to market strategy for floating offshore wind and we need to look at that in the context of floating offshore wind. James Delahunt If we fast forward into the mid-2030s onwards, if we develop all of the offshore and onshore potential we have, we are going to have a surplus of generation and we need to find a route to market for that. Hydrogen, green ammonia, and sustainable aviation fuel are dependent on alternative routes to market. Not to get too far ahead of ourselves, we only had the first connected solar plant last month and I do not think that can be categorised as an emerging technology anymore, but in terms of what will play the greatest role in accelerating deployment in the next couple of years, I am excited to see the level of solar and the role it will play.
Peter Lynch It is difficult to figure out what category to put private wires in; it is a new deployment of an existing technology that is going to require smart thinking. Looking across the emerging technologies, we do not have to split the atom. The headline technology signals are being sent to us by Europe, especially in the case of hydrogen. We can define our own smart version of that but closer to home we need something on the private wires and storage side. There are incubators figuring out these technologies around the globe in countries with significant heritage in this space. The more important point is we need to be happy with taking risks on the policy side and to be comfortable with making a few mistakes along the way. That would be better than inertia. Tara Reale
Cathal Hennessy None of us are technology providers. We deploy other people’s technologies and what is interesting about that is that established technologies that drive to reduce the cost of energy are very much ingrained in those providers. If we look at the last five years, how onshore wind turbines have evolved, three years ago, a 3MW turbine was big, now we are at 6.5MW and what that does is reduce costs to the consumer. The continuous evolution of existing technologies like battery storage and turbines is quite interesting. Hydrogen is an old technology but what is interesting there is the cost coming down; what is emerging is around grid infrastructure and technology deployment to make it more efficient, utilising existing transmission cables and increasing their capacity without the need for more lines.
What one policy area would you like to see action on to accelerate renewable energy in Ireland? Peter Lynch The one bit that continues to frustrate is leadership. It is easy to point to other
people and ask for leadership but we need to start with asking it of ourselves and making sure that we as industry participants are doing everything we can to go about our work in a transparent way. It has been a feature of the last couple of years that we expect this industry to be the number one, two, or three priority all the time and sadly it is not, and it has never been. We have spoken about security of supply for 15 years, but it has only gained meaning in the last few months. We as an industry need to take more responsibility to encourage politicians to stand up and speak more loudly in support of our sector. Tara Reale We do not have a process in our planning system by which you can get what’s termed in the UK a non-material amendment. Given how fast technology is changing, particularly for solar PV, you can’t procure the panels that were on your initial planning application. You then run into difficulties about orientation and certain councils are more flexible, but others are not. That is something of which we need to be more cognisant. James Delahunt
We need to be forward looking in our subsidies. Right now, RESS, only supports established technologies. As we move towards a market with a higher penetration of renewables, we are going to need long-duration storage, which is not quite commercially viable yet. We need to get the supports in place to enable those projects to be there when they’re needed rather than this punctuated delay that we would see otherwise.
“It would be very positive if each local authority had a megawatt hour target for generation based on the resource available in their geographical area. There is unfortunately a lot of skating around responsibility and if each local government had targets around megawatt hours and CO2 reduction, that would be a big step.” Cathal Hennessy government approach during Covid when everyone was pulling in the same direction. That was a masterclass in terms of communication. When we look at other countries, Denmark for example, people have bought into renewables. Having a strategy around that gives more license to politicians to be bolder. Val Cummins I am reminded of the saying “culture eats strategy for lunch”; someone corrected me recently and said culture devours everything in its path. If we are saying leadership is about risk and if the pervading culture is risk-averse, then we won’t have the ability to plan or to be good ancestors, which is what this is about. It is about joined up thinking and having everybody in the room together. Cathal Hennessy It would be very positive if each local authority had a megawatt hour target for generation based on the resource available in their geographical area. There is unfortunately a lot of skating around responsibility and if each local government had targets around megawatt hours and CO2 reduction, that would be a big step.
If we are going to achieve this over the next 10, 20 years, it’s going to impact everyone in the country one way or another. It is important to communicate at every opportunity how important this is; we saw the power of an all23 23 23
Climate: Comprehensive and impactful transformation Minister of State with special responsibility for communications and circular economy, Ossian Smyth TD, discusses the need for “comprehensive and impactful transformation” and outlines the key areas for government action. Smyth is under no illusion that collaborative transformation is required if Ireland is to honour its O commitment and play its part in holding global temperature increases to 1.5 C, as agreed and re-affirmed under the Paris Agreement. Alongside action to change by government, business, academia, and communities, he says: “Meeting our climate goals will also require changes in individual behaviours, including how we work, heat our homes, travel, consume goods and services, and manage our waste.” He adds: “Delivering this is the responsibility of everyone in society.” Speaking about the range of policies and actions both being implemented and under development, the Minister of State believes that renewable electricity can drive the decarbonisation of society, create economic opportunities, and ensure a secure and sustainable energy system. “Securing our energy supplies and delivering on our climate targets are inextricably linked,” he states. “While Ireland has made significant progress towards the deployment of renewable electricity, we must do much more and we must do it quickly.” Away from generation, he states that the Government is supporting investment in energy efficiency practices through the provision of incentives such as carbon pricing and decarbonising industrial heat to support the enterprise sector. “To decarbonise industrial heating, we are encouraging the uptake of heat pumps and alternative fuels through the Support Scheme for Renewable Heat as well as developing policy around incoming technologies such as zero emissions gases.
“We are working across government and with public bodies to provide businesses with the supports they need to invest in energy efficient practices.” In relation to agriculture, the single largest contributor to overall emissions in the country, Smyth acknowledges that the sector must make a positive contribution to the transition to a climate resilient and low carbon society, if Ireland is to meet its reduction targets. The Climate Action Plan commits to a reduction of agriculture-related emissions of between 22 to 30 per cent by 2030 and Smyth says that the core measures to deliver on this will offer farmers ways to reduce carbon emissions at farm level, by becoming more efficient, while being offered opportunities to diversify their agricultural activities. “Further measures will be developed over the coming years which will achieve this reduction by 2030 and set our society on the path toward climate neutrality by 2050,” he states.
Just transition Emphasising that a just transition sits at the core of the climate action plans, Smyth says that these principles will not only guide policy making and implementation in the coming years in monitoring and managing the transition but also enable response to future transition challenges and help target the areas in need of support. Highlighting the commitment in the Climate Action Plan of a Just Transition Commission, the Minister of State says that the commission will make periodic recommendations to government, building on research, engagement through the National Dialogue on Climate Action, and the annual review from the Climate Change Advisory Council, on how government policy can further the just transition. Pointing to the €60 million allocated by Minister Eamon Ryan TD from the Climate Action Fund for community climate action projects in November 2021, Smyth says that transition to a carbon neutral
economy “will provide huge opportunities to foster innovation, create new jobs and grow businesses in areas like offshore wind, cutting-edge sustainable agriculture, and low carbon construction”. “While we all must act together towards our climate objective, I realise that the costs of climate action will be more acutely felt by some than others,” he states.
International and EU policy The Minister of State stresses that the climate crisis is a global affair, highlighting that international collaboration is key to determining a greener, healthier, and safer future for all. “We must move forward from a place of extraction to one of rehabilitation, while ensuring no one is left behind,” he says. “Ireland is committed to a scaled up just transition to alternative energy systems and divestment from harmful fossil fuels for a greener, healthier future.” Achievement will require not only international cooperation, but increased financial flows, Smyth says, outlining Ireland’s commitment at COP26 to providing €225 million per year to developing countries by 2025. “Effective climate finance should support people in developing countries to prepare for a climate resilient future in terms of mitigation, adaptation and addressing loss and damage. However, these decisions must be led by the most affected, and Ireland will continue to amplify these voices in negotiations in recognition of the disproportionate impact they are facing from climate change, right now.” He concludes: “Climate change is the single greatest challenge we face as a country and as a planet, it does not affect all people, countries or regions equally, but it will take everyone, working in unison, to meet our goals and help protect future generations.”
Salesforce: Helping Ireland accelerate Sláintecare and innovate globally Salesforce, the world’s leading customer relationship management tool, has entered the European health market. Salesforce played its part in the Irish healthcare vaccination rollout programme and is now setting its sights on contributing to the acceleration of Sláintecare reforms which will leapfrog Ireland towards the top of the EU Digital Health Leadership Board.
Louise Ashbrook, EMEA Health Vice President at Salesforce.
“It is important to recognise Ireland’s global leadership through the Covid pandemic and the speed that the HSE and the Irish healthcare system responded to the crisis. The EU specifically commended Ireland’s vaccination management rollout and we helped deliver a Salesforce ‘platform’ approach in Ireland with the HSE,” says Louise Ashbrook, EMEA Health Vice President at Salesforce. “We are helping healthcare systems around the world with post covid challenges such as population health management, chronic disease management and helping avoid health inequalities.” Salesforce is committed to playing its part in the acceleration of Sláintecare reforms such as universal health care by ensuring that every patient receives the right care, in the right place at the right time. “A data driven approach can help enable some of the efficiencies required to work through the backlog of elective waiting lists that have built up during the pandemic,” says Ashbrook. “Priorities
have changed and technology can play its part in solving issues such as complex discharge management that help people to get out of hospitals quickly and ensures they have the care and facilities needed in the community.” There will be ever increasing demands for investment to support chronic disease management, critical care, acute inpatient services, more additional home support, GP access to diagnostics and increased community bed capacity to help deliver an accessible, equal and fair health service for all, addressing health inequalities to ensuring all of our communities are appropriately represented. Balancing these investments will require a data driven approach to service planning and resource allocation. Delivering a high-quality integrated health care system requires a shift to putting patients at the heart of your healthcare system. The social determinants that drive health inequalities requires access to high
quality and relevant data to ensure national healthcare providers, social care, commercial and voluntary organisations can provide effective outcomes for all patients. Salesforce’s Global Chief Health Officer, Fatima Paruk, who has first-hand experience of medical practice in Ireland having worked here in the past, is quick to praise the progress made in Ireland thus far. “It is impressive to see how Ireland has evolved and how they are leveraging technology to deliver care more appropriately,” she says. “Thinking about where we are headed on a population level, we are making sure we are investing in proactively managing chronic disease, streamlining care, and thinking about the patient, who is now the consumer. There are a couple of things necessary for success in a population-based health approach and that involves meeting the patient where they are.” It is perhaps through the prism of the pandemic that Salesforce’s role in the
“The ability to build at speed in an iterative way was what helped deliver that vaccine management programme across Ireland.” Salesforce’s Global Chief Health Officer, Fatima Paruk.
Irish healthcare system is easiest understood. As a customer relationship management platform, Salesforce enabled the seamless management of vaccination records nationwide across the multiple points of vaccination delivery, such as GP surgeries, vaccination centres, care homes and pharmacies.
Key to the use of platforms such as Salesforce’s is, of course, the collation and provision of high-quality data and an ability to read such data in order to inform better outcomes. “Therein lies the huge opportunity,” says Paruk. “When we think about leapfrogging, Sláintecare is leading the rest of the world in where we want to see the change and that is where the promise is. There is so much that will come out of this when it comes to positive outcomes.
Enabling this population-first approach is Salesforce’s raison d’être in the Irish healthcare system. On this note, Paruk concludes that this is only possible with the help of Salesforce’s partners: “Ultimately, Salesforce is a business of enabling successful platforms. We work with a number of partners, local in Ireland and internationally, but our approach to collaboration and leveraging health data is key to making outcomes happen. We understand that our partners often have great insight at the local level into what’s going to work and what’s not going to. We can’t be the experts at everything, we are the open and connected platform that takes the friction out of these things happening, but we rely on our partners to truly drive successful outcomes.”
Further Information on Salesforce in Public Health in Ireland: W: salesforce.com/eu/publicsector
“The first iteration of that solution was in production within nine workng days,” explains Ashbrook. “That solution connected the healthcare workers with acute hospitals, GP practices, pharmacies, and vaccination centres, ensuring that there was a digital system for management of every vaccination across the population of Ireland. It also helped with patient engagement as the population logged onto a portal to book their appointment while our technology also ensured that HSE Live was able to answer citizens queries, quickly and effectively while also providing quality health data to ensure the public was kept well informed. The ability to build that at speed in an iterative way was what helped deliver that vaccine management programme across Ireland.”
“When we look at designing a population-first approach to health and where the service design of the health system needs to focus on, things like unified patient score help health systems identify where the best outcomes can be gotten from and therefore direct where resources and investments need to be applied, making sure that all the money spent is directed to better outcomes.”
Study shows large disparity in early school leaving between north and south
Early school leaving is between two and three times higher in Northern Ireland than it is in the Republic, a new report has shown. Students from more disadvantaged backgrounds were also found to be more likely to leave school early in the North. A report by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) published in April 2022 has found that the proportion of 16- to 24-year-olds who leave school with at most a lower secondary qualification stands at 14 per cent in Northern Ireland, compared to 6 per cent in the Republic. The finding comes as part of the report, A North-South Comparison of Education and Training Systems: Lessons for Policy, the first study of its kind that compares the differing education and training systems north and south, from primary, to third-level. The report states that this is “concerning” due to the fact that early school leavers are found to be more likely to be unemployed or in low-wage work and potentially insecure jobs later in life. Students from disadvantaged 28
backgrounds in Northern Ireland were also found to be more likely to leave school early than their southern counterparts, highlighting “an important difference” between the two educational systems in Ireland, where “it is likely that academic selection in Northern Ireland and the success of the Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools (DEIS) programme in [the Republic of] Ireland in retaining students in education are strong contributory factors”. Academic selection in Northern Ireland is deemed to have “significant consequences for the social and ability profile of schools and for young people’s post-school choices and aspirations”. Relatedly, students from disadvantaged backgrounds were found to be more
likely to be clustered into certain schools within the northern system when compared with the southern system. Those who are funnelled into non-grammar schools were found to have “low educational expectations relative to those who attend a grammar school, particularly for boys from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds”. The proportion of graduates was found to be the same in both jurisdictions, but Northern Ireland was found to have a much smaller rate of people completing postsecondary non-third level qualifications, while postLeaving Certificate (PLC) courses have risen in popularity in the Republic. Ten per cent of northern school leavers attain such qualifications while 30 per cent of their southern counterparts do so. This is deemed to be “an area where cooperation across the island of Ireland may be useful”. This lack of take-up can be partly attributed to a perception of further education as a second-best when compared with higher education qualifications, a perception that the report attests to finding in both jurisdictions according to the stakeholders interviewed. The report does note, however, that “important differences occur across the two jurisdictions in terms of the configuration of post-school opportunities within the
Wages were found to be significantly higher in the Republic than in Northern Ireland at all levels of education. The report states: “Higher returns to education can incentivise individuals to invest in their education and may in part be driving the low levels of attainment in Northern Ireland. Lower returns to education in Northern Ireland may also be reflective of lower productivity levels in Northern Ireland.” Stakeholders interviewed by the ESRI were said to have highlighted examples of good practice in the case of cross-border cooperation, with common examples including teacher education initiatives through the Standing Conference on Teacher Education North and South (SCoTENs), strong links between the inspectorates, the Middletown Centre for Autism, and the Joint Peace Fund. However, the report does note that “more generally, stakeholders highlighted that in many areas north-south links are ad hoc in nature and based on individual relationships or specific projects and initiatives, thus making sustained co-operation more challenging”. Stakeholders were nonetheless said to be willing to engage on more substantive issues with potential for cross-border collaboration. Given the shared challenges across both jurisdictions in “trying to counter educational disadvantage and create
Northern Ireland was found to have a much smaller rate of people completing post-secondary non-third level qualifications, while post-Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses have risen in popularity in the Republic. Ten per cent of northern school leavers attain such qualifications while 30 per cent of their southern counterparts do so. broader educational landscape”. Those interviewed were said to have highlighted recent policy developments in the Republic of Ireland as having the potential to change this perception, but respondents in the North emphasised the “challenges of having a multiplicity of providers and duplication of courses”. While existing research and industry surveys have already highlighted the ‘high stakes’ nature of the assessment systems in both jurisdictions, with a heavy reliance on final exams for overall grades, stakeholders were said to have raised concerns to the ESRI around the secondary system preparing students for exams “rather than for the world of work and adult life”. In the Republic, plans to change this are afoot with the recently announced Leaving Certificate reforms setting a goal of no final exam accounting for any more than 60 per cent of a student’s overall grade.
an inclusive educational system for students with special educational needs”, the ESRI suggests that these could be the starting points for discussions centred on future cooperation. Speaking at the launch of the report, Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD said: “Today’s ESRI research adds significantly to the evidence and understanding we have on how our education systems serve students, families and communities on this island; how we could learn from each other north and south on education delivery and reform; and how we can do more together to enhance educational experience and outcomes for all. “I believe these need to be central concerns for how we work through the Good Friday Agreement in the time ahead.”
Speakers: Adam Hosking, Jacobs; Sara Venning, Northern Ireland Water; Niall Gleeson, Irish Water; Darragh O’Brien, TD, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage and Joanne Moran, Jacobs.
Water Ireland Conference 2022 The 2022 Water Ireland Conference recently took place as a hybrid event in April 2022. Attendees joined us both in Dunboyne Castle Hotel, County Meath and virtually and heard from a number of local and visiting speakers including Darragh O’Brien TD, Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage; Niall Gleeson, Irish Water; Sara Venning, Northern Ireland Water and Claudia Castell-Exner, EurEau. In partnership with Irish Water and sponsored by Jacobs, the conference brought together key stakeholders in the water services sector on the island of Ireland to discuss key challenges and opportunities facing the sector. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our conference sponsors, all speakers, and delegates who joined us, both in Dunboyne Castle Hotel and virtually, and made the conference a huge success.
Enda Collins, Irish Water with Orla Barrett, Carlow County Council.
Brian McVeigh, Northumbrian Water Group with Anne MacEntee, Construction Consultancy Services.
David Murray, Chadwicks with Chris McGurn, ABB Ireland.
Geoffrey Bourke, Irish Water with Alice Greene, Commission for Regulation of Utilities.
Jean Gilligan, Atlantic Technological University speaks with an attendee at the Atlantic Technological University exhibition stand.
Seán Laffey, Irish Water; David Flynn, Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage; Denis Drennan, ICMSA's Farm and Rural Affairs Committee; Barry Deane, National Federation of Group Water Schemes and Evelyn McAuliffe, Jacobs.
Achieving transport objectives by sharing data
Sharing data across agencies operating in the transport sector will deliver many of the strategic objectives that improve mobility and deliver service enhancements; supporting essential services that also promote sustainability, safety, compliance, and sustainability, writes Andrew Smith, Business
Development Director of Abtran. Following the impact of the restrictions on travel over the last two years, we are seeing passenger numbers and road journeys returning to pre pandemic levels once again. In a post-Covid world, the transport sector is now responding to accelerated growth for both users and stakeholders. Responding to an accelerated set of needs and circumstances for both users and stakeholders. The recent pandemic demonstrates that large scale behaviour
change is achievable and helps to shape our thinking for a future of sustainable and digital led services. Taking these factors into consideration the transport sector continues to move forward and deliver on their strategies, promoting new patterns of mobility and developing service improvements. In addition to delivering some of the headline objectives in relevant government programmes such as
cycling and walking infrastructure, road user charging, decarbonisation, or public transport, there are many other objectives where the effective and efficient use of data will deliver many other benefits. The use and sharing of such data will be critical to supporting a variety of agendas, whether that be automation, digitisation, mobility services, improved reporting and analytics, or collaboration across agencies.
Data sharing Historically the sharing of data across the transport sector and supporting agencies has previously been limited to covering high visibility areas such as enforcement on our roads, speeding, road tax, or toll charge payments as examples. As data controllers, each agency has a responsibility to secure and privatise the data it holds on users or customers, and with GDPR now firmly in place, this responsibility has come more into focus in recent years. The range of datasets accessible across agencies and the potential to further combine and share the data will go a long way to achieving various agency objectives for both the public and private sector, including An Garda Síochána, TII, RSA, NTA and other key stakeholders with transport related targets. This approach to data sharing is consistent with delivering integrated public service targets.
The objectives related to sharing data across the various transport strategies will continue to be developed, through road safety or road user charging for example, each with specific data requirements to support the deliverables of relevant agencies. The sharing of personal data has integrity and privacy at the core, however we can readily share non personal data such as vehicle data between agencies providing the legislative change is in place. Controlled sharing will support delivery of an enhanced service to the wider public and bring multiple benefits to wider stakeholders and government. Technically, data sharing has become easier over the last 10 years with cloud infrastructure now the default hosting option rather than on premise,
standardised data sharing models across organisations, established protocols and practices around use cases and data security all firmly established. This environment gives the data controller in the respective agency much more scope to manage their data effectively, whether it is for sharing with another stakeholder or supplier as a data processor or servicing a customer. The opportunity is to ensure that each stakeholder delivers a flexible IT environment that readily captures data and is then presented in a standardised format and accessible through standard APIs. The drive towards sustainable motoring, emerging technologies such as electronic or autonomous vehicles, or GPS systems will provide new challenges on how best to capture,
The GDPR rules as they stand should not stop agencies from optimising the sharing of data to support the delivery of their objectives where any additional legislation required for enforcement will progress in parallel. It is a key deliverable in the coming years to ensure that data across agencies is used effectively and GDPR should not be a constraint. While the integrity of personal data and privacy of the individuals whose data we hold is a primary consideration, there are already compliance and enforcement processes in practice across agencies today, highlighting existing data sharing protocols. These use cases are only possible however through the current relevant legislation such as the Roads Act 1993 or Data Protection Act where change and consolidation in future will be required.
“The use and sharing of such data will go a long way to support various agendas whether that be automation, digitisation, mobility services, better reporting and use of analytics, or collaboration across agencies.”
Data sharing and linking data sets with real-time access across the transport sector is one of the emerging deliverables for key transport agencies. Developing use cases that span agencies and delivering ready access to data and analytics across multiple platforms whether that be an API call or a portal service, will be a source of important value in the years ahead. New data led services for stakeholders and customers will deliver both an improved customer experience and capability to measure performance, while analytics will be crucial to support driving insights, identifying emerging trends and enhancements to transport services.
store and use data. New road user charging models under development will in future be linked to journeys across the road network rather than individual charge points. This creates more useful data that will support other strategies such the use of ANPR information for road safety and speeding enforcement between two points; a programme that is already in pilot on our roads.
Transport agencies and stakeholders will need to work together to implement the technological platforms, service portals and solutions needed for data sharing, reuse, real time access, and targeted management reporting. Today, solution partners and stakeholders are continually evolving new services across transport and other sectors that embrace a cloud first, API approach to delivering services that are more affordable, flexible, and responsive to
the needs of the future. Effective collaboration will be essential to support the mode shift in coming years where experience across the supply chain with data sets that can be leveraged, drawing on use cases and proven approaches in other sectors and jurisdictions. Across the various deliverables in the transport sector, whether it’s road safety or road user charging, the programmes require that partners are engaged and able to contribute effectively to support the objectives. Partners must be ready to play a part in pilot schemes, service transitions, and the general support of change across the industry. Change that addresses technical or operational functionality, or even public acceptability, will be an important consideration for incumbent or emerging partners working in collaboration with agencies to develop platforms and solutions that meet the diverse and future needs of users and stakeholders.
In his role as Business Development Director, Andrew has responsibility for supporting customer service propositions in Abtran from tender proposals to contract development and has gained significant experience working with clients in transport on behalf of Abtran. Andrew has 18 years of experience in Customer Services solutions with a background in technology and transition programme delivery.
While the sharing of data has in the past been limited by a number of constraints such as legislation, technical limitations or differing agency objectives, the Climate Action Plan and individual transport objectives up to 2030 gives us a real opportunity to deliver on these key objectives, at least in part, through the sharing of data between agencies and key stakeholders. An integrated and consolidated approach to data through improvements to technology and data sharing will enable the transport agencies to deliver on their commitments and objectives. This will see the introduction of high levels of compliance on our private and public transport services, enabling road users to travel safely and access essential and sustainable services for our emerging sustainability and mobility needs. These solutions will leverage the information we have towards a data led and data driven future.
T: +353 21 230 1800 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.abtran.com
Egis is designing tomorrow’s transport, today Our key areas of expertise:
built, and managed hundreds of flagship urban and transport projects worldwide. We offer you deep technical expertise and a partnership to last the lifespan of your project, and beyond. Our expertise has been gained from managing the world’s most complex projects, covering metros, tramways and light rail transit, cable cars, people movers, buses, and stations.
Although we are a large global company, we offer you a personalised service combined with an ethos of responsibility and positive environmental impact.
As 'Mobility as a Service', low-carbon solutions, green mobility and peoplefriendly cities become more important, existing infrastructure and services need to be reshaped.
“Competences are the first thing we look at to choose our engineering partner, and Egis won over all the others based on its expertise and capabilities as integrator on large metro and light rail transit projects,” reads an extract from our latest customer satisfaction survey.
Mobility design is undergoing radical changes, from the need to prepare for climate change to multimodal infrastructure and services.
transport policy and planning;
modelling and transport economics;
traffic engineering and traffic management;
smart mobility systems and equipment;
urban tolling and free flow tolling;
smart parking and traffic management;
booking and payment technologies;
hypervision and regional/national control centres; and
low emission zones and congestion charging.
Egis awarded a five-and-a-half-year contract to deliver the UK’s largest clean air zone. In support of Greater Manchester’s aim to drive the growth of a healthy and sustainable city-region, Egis have been awarded a new contract to help deliver the largest clean air zone in the UK. The clean air zone will operate seven days a week, 24 hours a day. It will be enforced by a network of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras, with vehicles liable to pay the charge using an online portal with discounts and exemptions available for some vehicle types.
We have the unique ability to deliver all forms of urban transport projects and manage them through their lifecycle, from upstream studies to upgrades or renewal. By working with you in the long term, we help you to ensure that your assets are operationally, financially, and environmentally efficient throughout their lifespan.
institutional and organisational support;
For more than 50 years, Egis has designed,
T: +353 1 469 1200 E: email@example.com W: www.egis-projects.ie
The right solution is different for every city and region, so we are able to define the most appropriate mobility services in your urban or interurban environment, by capitalising on Egis’ international footprint. 35
Decarbonising Irish transport The most significant challenge facing the transport sector is striking a balance between facilitating growth in travel demand while simultaneously decarbonising. As such, Ireland requires a fundamental change in how journeys are undertaken. With projected population growth of approximately one million people by 2040, Ireland’s transport system will be fundamental to the delivery of the Government’s long-term spatial strategy to accommodate growth, the National Planning Framework (NPF). Indeed, included among the 10 National Strategic Outcomes, the priorities of NPF, are compact urban growth, improved accessibility, robust rural communities, sustainable mobility, and decarbonisation. The National Investment Framework for Transport in Ireland (NIFTI) is the Government’s framework for future investment in the land transport network to enable the delivery of the National Strategic Outcomes. Decarbonising transport is an crucial component in the context of halving Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Excluding international aviation, at 12.2 MtCO2eq, transport emissions account for 20 per cent of Ireland’s greenhouse gas emissions, with road transport responsible for 96 per cent of these emissions. Even with severe public health restrictions in 2020, emissions reduced by only 16 per cent when compared with 2019. As such, delivering a 51 per cent reduction in transport emissions by 2030 will be a sizeable challenge. As acknowledged in Climate Action Plan 2021, the built environment must evolve from one that is vehicle centred to one that is people centred, primarily through the creation of 15-minute neighbourhoods. Practically, this concept is defined by people to living and accessing most of their daily needs within a 15-minute journey via sustainable modes of transport. Speaking with eolas, Transport Minister Eamon Ryan TD acknowledges the decarbonisation challenge in transport, specifically referencing “the development patterns in transport over the last 50 years have steered us towards a more dispersed car-dependent model, a haulage system reliant on diesel,” adding: “How we change that is more complex.” 36
Several actions will underpin the decarbonisation of transport, including a shift to sustainable modes of transport and the electrification of vehicle fleets.
Sustainable mobility Sustainable mobility is contingent on the provision of “reliable and realistic” transport alternatives to complete everyday journeys. As such, unprecedented investment in active travel and public transport infrastructure is required. With an objective of delivering an additional 500,000 sustainable journeys each day by 2030, the Government has committed to: •
expanding rail service and infrastructure; and
investing in walking and cycling.
Additional measures to promote sustainable mobility include: •
electric scooter legislation;
support for local authorities to expand shared mobility schemes;
promotion of cargo bicycle use; and
enhanced road safety awareness.
Delivery Reflecting on sustainable mobility delivery, Minister Ryan outlines: “The Department of Transport will be leading; bringing in agencies like the National Transport Authority and Transport Infrastructure Ireland, local authorities, and regional assemblies, working in teams, and breaking down the silos that sometimes exist in the public service.
Acknowledging the challenge of delivery, “across a whole range of different areas of government”, as a consequence of the permitting and contracting process, the Minister adds: “What I am saying about the acceleration is in public transport infrastructure, not just the metro, but DART+, and rail plans in Cork, Limerick, Galway, and Waterford. “A signal on that was given in the European Recovery and Resilience Fund. We had money from Europe and spent it on metropolitan rail in Cork for one. These projects will still take time, rail projects by their very nature do. The MetroLink, no matter how it’s done, is a fiveseven-year timeframe. We will bring that to government shortly and we need to get it through the planning system.”
Fleet electrification Currently, there are approximately 45,000 electric vehicles registered in Ireland and until total cost of ownership parity is reached with internal combustion engine cars, cost will remain a obstinate barrier to EV uptake. Meanwhile, while technological advances are soothing range anxiety, the public charging network and electricity grid capacity must develop in parallel to facilitate for a much larger EV fleet. Ultimately, a wholesale transition to EVs is contingent on: •
expansion of the EV charging network;
ensuring electricity grid readiness;
reviewing and updating fiscal and regulatory incentives;
However, with a transport budget of €35 billion for the coming decade and €70 billion worth of transport projects in varying stages of planning and development, this will be difficult. “We are looking to see how we can deliver the most for the budget we have, particularly at this time of inflation. We need to take what we learned during Covid and Brexit as to how the public service can be quick and responsive, and that’s the key,” the Transport Minister insists.
Climate Action Plan 2021 Containing 71 transport specific actions, the Climate Action Plan for transport aligns with several national policy plans, including Project Ireland 2040, the National Planning Framework (NPF), the National Remote Work Strategy, the National Adaptation Framework, Our Rural Future, and the Sustainable Mobility Policy. Climate Action Plan 2021 requires an emissions reduction of between 5.2 and 6.2 MtCO2eq. from 12.2 MtCO2eq. in 2018 to between 6 and 7 in 2030. To meet this emissions reduction, the Climate Action Plan 2021 commits to: •
providing an additional 500,000 daily public transport and active travel journeys;
developing the required infrastructural, regulatory, planning, and financial context to support improved system, travel, vehicle, and demand efficiencies;
increasing the electrical vehicle and low emitting vehicle fleet on Irish roads to 945,000 vehicles (including 845,000 passenger cars, 95,000 electric vans, 3,500 low emitting trucks, 1,500 electric buses, and an expanded electrified rail network);
raising the blend proportion of biofuels to B20 in diesel and E10 in petrol;
reducing internal combustion engine vehicle kilometres by 10 per cent compared with present day figures; and
undertaking a programme of work to review, progress, and refine measures that deliver an additional 0.9 MtCO2eq. by 2030 “in a fair and equitable manner”.
Simultaneously, the Government reiterated its commitment to a 2:1 ratio for expenditure on new public transport infrastructure and new roads in the Programme for Government, in parallel to a €360 million investment in active travel each year.
NIFTI In December 2021, the Government also published the new National Investment Framework for Transport in Ireland (NIFTI), in which it established the principles of future transport investment. Replacing the 2015 Strategic Investment Framework for Land Transport, NIFTI sets out four strategic investment priorities to address transport challenges. These are: 1.
reviewing and amending building regulations with regard to charging points;
protection and renewal;
mobility of people and goods in urban areas; and
supporting a shift towards electric vans;
enhanced regional and rural connectivity.
transitioning the public transport fleet to low emission alternatives; and
mandating the conversion of public sector fleets to EVs.
The objective of NIFTI is to ensure that a balance is met between the protection and renewal of existing transport infrastructure, and the development of new assets. Establishing investment priorities and how investment will be undertaken, its primary function is as a tool for the development of proposals for future transport investment. Project sponsors are required to demonstrate their projects’ alignment with the NIFTI’s four priorities.
It is apparent that the realisation of the National
“In that case, we look and ask how we can accelerate BusConnects in all five cities, how can we accelerate and deliver the new Connecting Ireland rural transport system, and it is all about delivery.”
Planning Framework by 2040, alongside the legally binding Climate Act 2021 ambition net-zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050, and a reduction of 51 per cent by 2030 will require significant additional investment in public transport and active travel assets.
NTA looking forward to a decade of delivery
Anne Graham announcing details of the purchase of 750 DART carriages.
Recent years have seen a shift in public discourse and political prioritisation around investment in transport. With a sharper-than-ever focus on building a sustainable future, investment in public transport and active travel is now front-and-centre when it comes to tackling climate change in Ireland, writes Anne Graham, Chief Executive Officer of the National Transport Authority. While it is certainly the case that Ireland has experienced a decade of chronic underinvestment in sustainable transport, it is only fair to acknowledge that the picture now is quite different.
requirements with future projected growth in population and economic activity, ensuring that it can all be delivered in the most sustainable possible way. We are also making progress in implementing major
Yes, both Luas Cross City and the Phoenix Park Rail tunnel were completed in recent years, and while both of them were key projects and very significant in their own right, other plans were parked or deferred. But thankfully, things have changed for the better. Doubtless there are challenges arising as we recover from the Covid pandemic, and geopolitical uncertainties arising from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but at least the roadmap to a future where more and more people across Ireland can avail of better public transport and active travel options, is clear. In 2021, National Transport Authority (NTA) published the draft GDA Transport Strategy 2022-2042, which we hope will be signed off by the Government in the coming months. In the meantime, the 2016-2035 Strategy remains the blueprint for transport development in the capital and the region. The GDA Strategy provides a framework for all transport development and infrastructure in the region and aligns transport 38
investment programmes in the regional cities of Cork, Galway, Waterford and Limerick.
MetroLink Dublin In 2019, Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) and NTA published their preferred route proposals for MetroLink. Since then, work has continued on the technical design, surveys and investigations as part of preparing the documentation required to support a planning application. In line with the Public Spending Code, the preliminary business case (PBC) for MetroLink has been provided to the Department of Transport and is currently being reviewed by Government. It is anticipated that a planning application will be submitted in Q3 of this year, subject to Government approval.
Anne Graham with Transport Minister Eamon Ryan TD; Cork City Council Chief Executive Ann Doherty; and Colm Kelleher, Lord Mayor of Cork.
The start of construction will be determined by the timing and outcome of the statutory planning process. The design team for the project has advised that a prudent time period for the construction, systems’ installation, testing and commissioning of a metro system like this is between eight and nine years.
documents is continuing, and it is anticipated that a railway order application to An Bord Pleanála for the DART+ West project will be made at the in early Q3, later this year.
This is a transformative programme of investment to provide better bus services to more people. The BusConnects Dublin programme includes investment in infrastructure and fleet, along with higher frequency services and new routes serving a wider catchment. The project is a key part of the Government’s policy to improve public transport and address climate change. In March 2022, in line with the Public Spending Code, the preliminary business case for BusConnects Dublin was approved by Government.
DART+ will provide a sustainable, electrified, reliable and more frequent rail service, improving capacity on the rail corridors serving the GDA and increasing the overall length of the DART network from 50km to roughly 150km and is comprised of five main elements: •
DART+ Fleet – New electric and battery electric DART fleet;
DART+ West – Maynooth/M3 Parkway to city centre;
DART+ South West – Hazelhatch/Celbridge to city centre;
DART+ Coastal North – Drogheda to city centre; and
DART+ Coastal South – Greystones to city centre.
In December 2021, the Government confirmed the following approvals:
Core Bus Corridors - Dublin The approval of the BusConnects Dublin Preliminary Business has permitted the lodgement of planning applications for the Core Bus Corridors. A total of 12 applications, each comprising an environmental impact assessment report and associated compulsory purchase order, will be submitted to An Bord Pleanála in respect of the Core Bus Corridors projects.
approval in principle of the DART+ programme preliminary business case;
authorisation for NTA to approve the award of the DART+ Fleet framework contract and the initial fleet order; and
Two of these have already been lodged: Clongriffin to city centre; Belfield/ Blackrock to city centre; with a third, Blanchardstown to city centre to be lodged very shortly.
authorisation for the DART+ West project to proceed to railway order submission.
Bus Network Redesign - Dublin
The fleet framework agreement was signed and the initial fleet order placed during December 2021. The build time for the new fleet is approximately 30 months, with testing and commission of fleet taking a further 12 months. On this basis new DART fleet will be delivered during 2024 with the fleet entering service during 2025.
DART+ West Iarnród Éireann published the preferred option for public consultation in 2021, with a second round of consultation taking place earlier this year. Preparation of the environmental impact assessment report and other statutory approval
The NTA is introducing the new bus network on a phased basis. Two phases were implemented in 2021, with the first phase centred on the H-Spine along the Howth to city centre corridor. The second phase, comprising the C-Spine along the Lucan to city centre to Ringsend corridor, was launched in November 2021, in tandem with the introduction of a new 90minute fare.
This provides a single fare for most public transport journey across the Dublin Metropolitan Area, allowing transfers between services and across all modes undertaken within 90 minutes of the start of the first journey. In May 2022, Phase 3 consisting of the N4/N6 orbital routes on Dublin’s northside was rolled out, with a further two phases to be launched by the end of the year.
Next generation ticketing The evaluation of the tender pre-qualification submissions for the overall design, build, operate, and maintain contract for the new ticketing system is now complete and a short list of five tenderers has been selected. The approval of the PBC has allowed the tender stage to commence.
Transition to low emission fleet
As part of BusConnects Dublin, the existing bus fleet is being transitioned to a low and zero emission fleet. At the end of 2021, a total of 221 new hybrid diesel-electric buses had been introduced into the bus fleet in the Dublin Metropolitan Area. In July 2021, NTA entered into a framework agreement for the supply of long length single deck electric buses, with an initial order of 34 buses for Dublin. It is expected that these vehicles will be delivered and ready for operation by Q4 2022. NTA has also completed a procurement process for a framework agreement for the supply of double deck battery electric buses with an initial order of 100 buses for Dublin. NTA purchased three hydrogen fuel cell double deck buses for the purposes of undertaking a pilot to assess the potential for hydrogen buses to provide a zero emission solution for longer distance/higher duty bus routes through increased range. The pilot commenced in July 2021 and the buses are currently being operated by Bus Éireann on the 105X routes to Ratoath.
Cycling and walking NTA will be allocating funds to Ireland’s local authorities to support investment of well in excess of €250 million on walking and cycling infrastructure in 2022. Projects to be progressed this year include the Clontarf to city centre route in Dublin, MacCurtain Street in Cork, O’Connell Street in Limerick, the Salmon Weir Bridge in Galway, as well as connection of the Waterford Greenway from Bilberry into the city centre. These and other projects will make our urban centres more attractive places to live, work and visit.
Funding is also being directed to rural local authorities, with some 1,200 walking and cycling projects being developed. Projects include the Hanover Pedestrian and Cycle Scheme in Carlow and the N63 pedestrian and cycle scheme in Longford. This will bring a renewed vibrancy to our regional towns and villages.
Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (CMATS) sets out an ambitious vision to deliver an accessible, integrated transport network that enables the sustainable growth of the Cork Metropolitan Area as a dynamic, connected, and internationally competitive European city region. The multi-billion euro investment programme proposes: •
a transformed bus system;
an enhanced commuter rail system;
new east-west light rail line;
a comprehensive cycling network;
enhanced pedestrian facilities; and
park and ride provision and road improvements.
BusConnects Cork NTA is proposing major investment for bus services and infrastructure in Cork. We recently unveiled a €600 million investment in BusConnects Cork which will include the creation of 12 new sustainable transport corridors (STC) to help meet the needs of a growing city while accelerating the journey to a net-zero future. A consultation process on this is due to get under way very shortly. Separately, work on redesigning Cork’s bus network – routes, frequencies and timetables – is proceeding well. A second public consultation on our proposals took place at the end of last year, and a final revised bus network for Cork will be published in the coming months.
Anne Graham with students from Stanhope St primary school, Dublin, celebrating Bike Week 2022.
Anne Graham with Iarnród Éireann Chief Executive Jim Meade and global Chief Executive of Alstom, Henri Poupart-Lafarge, announcing details of the purchase of 750 DART carriages.
Cork Light Rail Cork Luas will run from Ballincollig to Mahon Point, via the city centre and the docklands. An emerging preferred route is being examined by TII right now and will be subject to a full public consultation later in the year.
Limerick-Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy NTA recently published the Limerick-Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (LSMATS) for a second round of public consultation. Among the proposals we want to progress this year are: •
Limerick Metropolitan Bus Network Review;
development of proposals for bus lane infrastructure;
investment in electrification of bus fleet;
continue the roll-out of the Limerick Cycle Network Plan;
prepare the Shannon Local Transport Plan, to be led by Clare County Council; and
development of a rail investment programme in association with Iarnród Éireann.
In the meantime, Bus Éireann’s Galway city bus services are now provided entirely with electric hybrid double deck fleet, with procurement of battery electric single deck and double deck bus fleet at an advanced stage.
In conclusion As far as sustainable transport is concerned, the coming decade is set to be most transformative in the history of the State. More projects are being progressed than ever before. There’s more investment in the pipeline than ever before. More opportunities for people to choose sustainable options are being developed than ever before. In the NTA, we believe we have a critical role to play in building a sustainable future for Ireland are committed to meeting all our responsibilities in the years ahead. I know that NTA is up to that challenge, and I believe the people of Ireland are too.
Waterford Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy
linking the western and eastern suburbs, through the city centre that is being progressed by Galway City Council with the support of NTA. It is expected that a submission by Galway City Council to An Bord Pleanála will be made in the next two to three months.
T: +353 1 879 8300 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.nationaltransport.ie
The NTA Board recently approved the publication of a draft transport strategy for the Waterford area, with public consultation getting under way, 1 June 2022.
Galway Transport Strategy We will continue to work with Galway City Council on the implementation of the objectives set out in the Galway Transport Strategy. For example, the Cross-City Link is a public transport corridor 41
Active travel to benefit from 2022 funding windfall The Programme for Government pledged that 20 per cent of the capital transport budget per year would be dedicated to cycling and pedestrian projects; in line with this aim, the recently published National Sustainable Mobility Policy outlines an ambition to spend almost €1 million per day on active travel projects.
The National Sustainable Mobility Policy sets out the State’s strategic framework to 2030 for active travel and public transport, with an aim of delivering “at least 500,000 additional daily active travel and public transport journeys by 2030”, along with a 10 per cent reduction in the number of kilometres driven by fossil-fuelled cars. Data from the Central Statistics Office’s (CSO) National Travel Survey 2019 suggests that this goal is eminently achievable: 29 per cent of all trips undertaken were less than 2km, but 57 per cent of these journeys were by private car, with walking or cycling accounting for 40 per cent. Overall, just 2 per cent of journeys are made by cycling and 14 per cent by walking. The same survey found that 20.8 per cent of people who use private cars cited a lack of alternatives as their main reason for doing so, with the National Sustainable Mobility Policy noting that the Government recognises “that for some remote rural areas and longer journeys, active travel and public transport may not always be a viable option and the Climate Action Plan 2021 includes measures to promote the uptake of electric and low-emission 42
vehicles where car journeys are necessary”. The National Sustainable Mobility Policy Action Plan 2022-2025 outlines how the Government plans on changing these behavioural patterns. In terms of active transport, priorities include improving the safety of walking and cycling networks to make them more accessible for all users and reallocating road space to prioritise walking and cycling. Under the goal of expanding available of sustainable mobility in metropolitan areas, the action plan includes the delivery of additional cycling infrastructure – with 400km of the GDA network and 200km of the regional cities network both to be completed or under construction by 2025 – to expand the operation of bike share schemes in cities, with Waterford’s operational in 2022, and to develop pedestrian enhancement plans for the five metropolitan areas by 2023. Under the goal of expanding availability in rural areas, pedestrian enhancement plans for regional growth centres and key towns are to be developed by 2024, as well as urban cycle networks for all regional growth centres and key towns by 2023 and 100km of cycle networks
for these areas by 2025. Cycle network plans for all counties are to be published in 2023. Speaking on the importance of the plan, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan TD said: “This is an important new policy which is central to ensuring that we meet our ambitious climate targets. It is all about getting people moving in a greener way, by choosing walking, cycling or public transport over fossilfuelled vehicles, and helping people choose more sustainable options. Sustainable mobility also helps improve our quality of life and bring life back into our cities, towns and villages. We have listened to our stakeholders in developing this policy and action plan to focus on the right measures to make it easier for more people to travel by sustainable modes and make fewer car journeys.” Such plans are in line with the postCovid acceleration of active travel funding that Ryan pledged in January 2022 after he had confirmed that the NTA had allocated €289 million of funds to Ireland’s local authorities to spend on walking and cycling infrastructure. The funding directed towards these authorities is expected to fund circa
On the national level, the National Cycle Network for Ireland has been opened to public consultation, with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) inviting views on the proposed 3,500km network. Public consultation launched on 4 May 2022 on the new network. Which will connect over 200 villages, towns, and cities and include cycling links to transport hubs, education and employment centres, leisure and tourist destinations, and support so-called ‘last mile’ bicycle deliveries. Minister Ryan handed stewardship of the project over to TII in 2021, who have worked since autumn 2021 to develop their draft plan. With the plan now out for public consultation, it is anticipated that it will be submitted to the Minister for approval in Q3 2022 and move quickly into its implementation phase. Minister of State for Transport Hildegarde Naughton TD said of the network: “The NCN will provide benefits for cyclists and local communities across the country. It will help commuters, leisure users and tourists to choose to cycle, encouraging a modal shift to a healthy form of travel and helping to reduce carbon emissions from transport.”
1,200 walking and cycling projects being developed by local authorities throughout the State, including the Clontarf to city centre route in Dublin, MacCurtain Street in Cork, O’Connell Street in Limerick, the Salmon Weir Bridge in Galway, an extension to the Waterford Greenway from Bilberry to the city centre, and the Hanover Pedestrian and Cycle Scheme in Carlow. Almost 1,000km of new and improved active travel infrastructure will be delivered by 2025 under current plans, with the €289 million of funding received for 2022 a quadrupling of the €45 million in 2019 and a vast increase on the €184 million of 2021.
National Sustainable Mobility Policy Published in April 2022, the National Sustainable Mobility Policy establishes a national framework for active travel and public transport to 2030. The policy aims to empower citizens to choose active travel and public transport alternatives to internal combustion engine vehicles. This will support the pursuit of the national climate objective.
The policy is guided by three principles: 1. Safe and green mobility 2. People focused mobility 3. Better integrated mobility These principles are underpinned by 10 high-level goals, supported by an action plan which will be reviewed and updated in 2025, with a second action plan published for 2026 until 2030.
10 high level goals: 1. Improve mobility safety. 2. Decarbonise public transport. 3. Expand availability of sustainable mobility in metropolitan areas. 4. Expand availability of sustainable mobility in regional and rural areas. 5. Encourage people to choose sustainable mobility over the private car. 6. Take a whole of journey approach to mobility, promoting inclusive access for all. 7. Design infrastructure according to universal design principles and the hierarchy of road users model. 8. Promote sustainable mobility through research and citizen engagement. 9. Better integrate land use and transport planning at all levels. 10. Promote smart and integrated mobility through innovative technologies and development of appropriate regulation. Implementation of the National Sustainable Mobility Policy will require cross-departmental collaboration, with input from the National Transport Authority, Transport Infrastructure Ireland, the regional assemblies, local authorities, and others. Oversight of implementation will be undertaken by a newly established leadership group.
Decarbonising Irish road transport with compressed natural gas transport report
purchase of up to 400 gas-powered trucks, buses, and vans. We routinely meet with companies who are facing mounting pressure to shift to a more sustainable business model and reduce their carbon emissions,” Hanahoe explains. As a business operating for four generations, the move to CNG means that, as the volume of renewable gas on the network increases in the years ahead, Toner Transport will be able to transition to an even more sustainable transport solution without further investment, increasingly reducing emissions and maintaining a competitive advantage for many more generations to come. Gas Networks Ireland’s CNG Growth Sales Manager, David Hanahoe.
While heavy goods vehicles account for under 2 per cent of vehicles on Ireland’s roads, they account for almost 20 per cent of all emissions in the road transport sector. Ireland faces a significant challenge to meet its emission reduction targets, particularly in the transport sector, as it currently accounts for 34 per cent of Ireland’s final energy use, making it the country’s largest source of energy demand by sector. It is also one of the most difficult sectors to decarbonise.
bar) and is typically used as a transport fuel. It is particularly suitable for use in commercial vehicles where electric solutions are not a viable option. The gas used can be either natural or renewable gas that meets the network specifications, providing a pathway to more sustainable transport.
“Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) reliably delivered through the national gas network is key to driving sustainable supply chains and is the first step towards net-zero commercial transport in Ireland,” Gas Networks Ireland’s CNG Growth Sales Manager, David Hanahoe, says.
“Gas Networks Ireland is working to develop a new, cleaner transport network, to reduce emissions and provide Ireland’s HGV and bus fleet operators with a cleaner alternative fuel option to diesel,” Hanahoe says.
CNG is natural gas that has been compressed to high pressures (over 200 44
“To support Irish companies and local authorities making this transition, we have a €2.9 million CNG vehicle grant scheme in place to support the
EU Clean Vehicle Directive A key consideration for public organisations moving forward is the EU Clean Vehicles Directive, which passed into Irish law in 2021. This Directive sets targets for public procurement of clean vehicles by increasing the share of low and zero-emission vehicles tendered for by public authorities. Ireland has agreed to adopt the maximum target of almost 40 per cent of cars and light trucks and 10 per cent of heavy-duty trucks procured from August 2021 must be cleaner vehicles. For buses, the target is even higher, with a requirement of 45 per cent to be cleaner vehicles and half of that to be zeroemission vehicles. “At Gas Networks Ireland, we offer support to agencies and councils that wish to explore CNG and renewable gas as an option to meet this obligation when procuring their heavy transport and passenger vehicles. Contact us to start on your journey to a cleaner fleet,” Hanahoe says.
T: 1800 411 511 E: email@example.com W: www.gasnetworks.ie/cng
Irish airport and port statistics 2021 Aviation statistics 2021 Number of passengers handled by main Irish airports in 2020:
Number of passengers handled by main Irish airports in 2021:
Change in number of passengers handled by main Irish airports:
Number of flights handled by Ireland’s main airports in 2020:
Number of flights handled by Ireland’s main airports in 2021:
Change in number of flights handled by Ireland’s main airports:
Passengers travelling on international flights through Ireland’s main airports to/from Europe in 2021:
8,329,435 or 92%
Passenger distribution by main airport 2021 (%) 3%
Change in tonnage of freight handled by
Ireland’s main airports in 2021 when
Source: CSO Ireland, 2022
compared with 2020:
Tonnage of freight handled by Ireland’s main airports in 2021:
Port traffic 2021 Tonnage of goods handled by main Irish ports in 2020:
Tonnage of goods handled by main Irish ports in 2021:
Change in tonnage of goods handled main Irish ports:
Number of vessels arriving in Irish ports in 2021:
Change in number of vessels arriving in Irish ports:
Number of vessels arriving in Irish ports in 2020:
273,092 million By region of trade, Great Britain and Northern Ireland accounted for 31.2% of total tonnage of goods handled by Irish ports while other EU countries accounted for 41.7% Gross tonnage of all vessels arriving in Irish ports in 2021:
Passengers that passed Millions
Tonnage of goods handled by main Irish Ports, 2019-2021 60,000
through Irish ports in 2020:
50,000 40,000 30,000 20,000 10,000 0 Liquid bulk
Dry b ulk
Source: CSO Ireland, 2022
Break bulk and other goods
Passengers that passed through Irish ports in
Passenger numbers handled by Irish airports, from 2017 to 2021 45 40 35 30 25 20
Change in number of
passengers that passed
5 0 2017
Source: CSO Ireland, 2022
through Irish ports:
Luas Finglas: Fast, reliable and sustainable transport Figure 1: Luas Finglas Preferred Route.
The proposed route is 3.9km in length and will include four new stops: St Helena’s, Finglas Village, St Margaret’s, and Charlestown. A 350-vehicle park and ride (P&R) facility will be provided near the St Margaret’s Road stop, close to the M50. The route will provide interchange opportunities with bus networks at all the new stops and with mainline rail services at Broombridge. Most of the route will be built using grass track, an attractive and sustainable innovation for urban transport in Ireland.
The primary basis for the project is set out in the transport strategies for the Greater Dublin Area 2016-2035 and 2022-2042, which outline the proposed transport solutions to support economic and spatial development in Dublin. Luas Finglas will provide people living and working in northwest Dublin with a fast, reliable, accessible and sustainable transport service, while enabling compact growth. The strategic case is also underpinned by Project Ireland 2040, including its National Development Plan 2021-2030 and the Climate Action Plan 2021.
Luas Finglas is the next extension of the Luas Green Line from its current terminus at Broombridge to a new terminus in Charlestown. It will create a new public transport connection between the communities of Charlestown, Finglas Village, Finglas West, St Helena’s, Tolka Valley and the city centre, writes Marcello Corsi, Project Manager of Luas Finglas. 48
As part of an integrated transport system, Luas Finglas will provide alternative transport options to residents and encourage a move from private cars to public transport. This will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help enable a transition to both a low carbon and increasingly climate resilient society in line with the ambitions set out in the Climate Action Plan 2021. Luas Finglas will involve the construction of two major structures, a bridge over the Railway and the Royal Canal at Broombridge, and a bridge over the Tolka River in Tolka Valley Park. Both structures are being designed to stand out in terms of visual, aesthetic and environmental quality.
Figure 2: Urban and Landscape Integration example, a typical cross section along green area.
The scheme will incorporate active travel modes along the alignment, including attractive walking and cycling infrastructure. Luas Finglas will be comparable to the higher speed sections of the Luas network as it will be built along a brand new, fully segregated, mostly off-road corridor. According to initial estimations, journey times from Charlestown (M50) to Trinity College in the city centre will be approximately 30 minutes, and this runtime will be consistent due to the high level of segregation. Luas Finglas passengers commuting to and from the city centre will benefit from the existing high capacity, high speed section of the Luas Green Line between Broombridge and Parnell Street as this largely off-road rail-based public transport corridor from the M50 to the north city centre will deliver a consistent and competitive runtime while freeing road capacity in the critical areas of Finglas, Phibsborough, and the north inner city.
Progress to date The project commenced in 2018 with Phases 0 and 1. The options selection process was completed in the summer of 2020 with the publication of the emerging preferred route (EPR) and the first non-statutory public consultation (NSPC).
Next steps The next steps will include the development of the reference design, preliminary business case, environmental impact assessment report (EIAR) and all planning documentation with a view to submitting a planning application in Q3 2023, subject to prior Government approval and funding availability.
Social benefits of Luas Finglas The scheme will act as a strong catalyst for social opportunities through improved access to jobs, education, leisure and social facilities throughout Finglas and Charlestown. Furthermore, areas adjacent to the preferred route (e.g., north Broombridge, west of Finglas Village and Charlestown environs) will become increasingly attractive for residential, employment and/or mixed-use development,
supporting the ambition for compact, ‘transit-oriented’ development as set out in Project Ireland 2040. The recent rezoning of industrial lands in Jamestown by Dublin City Council is a testament to this process.
Circular economy on Luas Finglas TII is committed to delivering on a Circular Economy (CE) Plan along with a pilot study to apply the principles of CE to the Luas Finglas project. The project design teams are undertaking CE workshops to explore and prioritise opportunities for integrating CE principles in the project approach. Key opportunities identified are as follows: 1. Earthworks optimisation: adopting a hierarchy for soil reuse on the project; 2. Design for disassembly of track: adopting a design for disassembly approach to track design improving maintenance and track replacement over the life cycle; 3. Material data integration in the project BIM1 strategy: integration of key material data into the project data environment;
The benefits of Luas Finglas will go well beyond the users’ benefits, as the scheme will enable and act as a catalyst for a wider regeneration of the Finglas and Charlestown areas in the northwest suburbs of Dublin.
In 2021, TII appointed an engineering designer (Barry Transportation/Egis joint venture) to support the development phases, and the EPR was developed to the preferred route (PR) taking into account feedback received during the first NSPC. A second NSPC on the PR was held in Q4 2021 with feedback being largely positive. Changes from the EPR to the PR included the relocation of three of the four stops and the P&R, the realignment of the corridor in five areas, and fully aligning the active mode elements of the scheme with the Draft Greater Dublin Area Cycling Strategy, published by the NTA in 2021. Luas Finglas preferred route preliminary design was completed in Q1 2022.
4. Sharing of lighting and other assets: Public lighting, CCTV, and signage to be designed to avoid duplication of components such as lighting poles; and 5. Adopting nature-based solutions and a regenerative design approach: project to be designed to achieve optimal outcomes for biodiversity, drainage, planting, and design of public space.
1. Building Information Management System. 49
assessment and offset of carbon footprint;
Figure 3: Tolka Valley Park, Luas Finglas will cross the Tolka River on a new bridge to the west of the existing bridge.
Sustainability on Luas Finglas Sustainability objectives and strategies for Luas Finglas align with those set out in the National Planning Framework, part of Project Ireland 2040, and the Sustainable Development Goals National Implementation Plan 20182020. The sustainability approach to Luas Finglas is also guided by TII’s Statement of Strategy 2021 to 2025 and the TII Sustainability Implementation Plan – Our Future (2021). There is a dedicated
sustainability plan for addressing the key sustainability challenges, risks and opportunities of the Luas Finglas scheme and its long-term planning and operation. The sustainability plan focuses on the following key points: •
Reduce environmental impacts: protect, preserve, and improve biodiversity, promote urban ecology and ecosystem services;
Low carbon transport: provision of a low-emission light-rail, carbon
Figure 4: Artistic impression of the Finglas Village Stop at the Civic Centre, along Mellowes Road.
Resource efficiency: minimise waste, sustainably use materials and natural resources;
Infrastructure resilience: provision of a reliable and climate resilient light-rail service;
Accessibility and sustainable growth: provide integrated transport solution with better linkages between people, places and resources to drive economic activity and enhance regional productivity;
Health and well-being: address air quality issues in urban and rural areas through better planning and design; and
Engagement and collaboration: enhance collaborations, stakeholder, and public engagement.
Urban and landscape integration Luas Finglas runs through several parks and local open spaces. It is therefore important that the existing use of these spaces, and opportunities for their enhancement are realised through the design process. Approximately 70 per cent of the line will run on grass track which will aid its visual integration in the spaces it passes through.
Integrating Luas Finglas into its receiving environment requires consideration of a number of elements such as its transport function, opportunities for water management at waterway crossings, local landscape and biodiversity, and critically the local communities.
Reference to local authority policies, development plans and guidelines formed an initial basis for decision making. As the project developed, there was close consultation with all municipal divisions regarding planning for existing and future land use, integration with parks and landscape, and consideration of lighting, architectural heritage, roads etc. Careful consideration was given to St Margaret’s Road itself, its future use, and its configuration. Here, the light rail alignment is envisaged as a linear green edge to the future Jamestown Development, with grass track and a strong tree line separating light rail from the road carriageway. Landscaping is being utilised to break up the remaining expanse of road by segregating modes in a safe and attractive way. Universal Design is at the heart of the Finglas extension with consideration being given to people with disabilities, people with mobility issues, or women travelling alone. This is manifested in fully accessible and uncluttered layouts, which are safe and easy to navigate and involve prioritisation of walkers, cyclists and vulnerable users.
For much of its length, Luas Finglas will form a new transport corridor that will serve an array of local key trip attractors including schools, sporting facilities, parks and services. The Luas Finglas transport corridor will therefore likely generate short distance trips to and from these facilities. The project team leveraged any opportunity to facilitate
Figure 5: Examples of model generated 3D views of the project.
active travel and improve walking and cycling facilities. As such, an exciting aspect of Luas Finglas is the opportunity to incorporate safe, segregated cycling and pedestrian paths along several sections of the route. This will provide integration between the scheme and the surrounding areas and enable shortdistance trips to and from various destinations in the vicinity of the line. Active travel elements will also provide an important link between the wider Finglas area and the Tolka Valley and Royal Canal greenways, while integrating with and complimenting the Draft Cycle Network Plan 2021 for the Greater Dublin Area.
Use of BIM and 3D models One of TII’s key strategic objectives involves BIM models and other information generated as part of project development being utilised to support efficient development of the design in close collaboration with all project stakeholders. A Common Data Environment (CDE) has been established for the project. This will be opened to contractors at construction stage to ensure the correct management of Engineering content throughout the project.
generated from geometrically verified Engineering models supplemented with concept 3D visualisations, compared to just drawings. Having ‘virtually built’ and interrogated the design and engaged with project stakeholders throughout earlier design development phases, this will aid in stakeholders’ understanding of the project scope and allow for improved interaction and input. Mitigating conflicts through model and information coordination is a key project requirement. Processes have been developed to minimise conflicts, promote sharing of project information, more efficient design development, and gap analysis and interface management. Luas Finglas is being built twice, virtually by the design team and in real life during construction.
E: Marcello.Corsi@tii.ie W: www.tii.ie
Active mobility on Luas Finglas
Luas Finglas stops are located and designed to optimise access, social activity, personal safety and interchangeability; to make a positive contribution to the built environment by using simple high-quality materials, minimisation of clutter and respect for the character and context of their surroundings.
Upon completion of the reference design, a higher degree of certainty in achieving stakeholder buy-in can be accomplished with design information
Hourly cross-border rail could be in place ‘by end of next year’ With the launch of the All-Island Strategic Rail Review in 2021, the Government signalled its intent to build cross-border rail links. It has now been said that an hourly service between Belfast and Dublin could be in place by the end of 2023. The claim was made by Jim Meade, Chief Executive of Iarnród Éireann, who told the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications, as he discussed the All-Island Strategic Rail Review, that an hourly Enterprise service during peak times could be in place by year-end 2023. Meade told the committee that high-speed hourly links between Cork, Dublin, and Belfast are ‘more than an ambition’ and that the entire Iarnród Éireann fleet will be replaced as part of the plans. “We don’t have an hourly on currently and we believe there’s demand for that service,” Meade said. “The hourly service is more than ambition, it’s something we’re going to deliver over time. I have been working with Chris Conway [CEO] of Translink and looking at how we would, at least in the peak, bring in an hourly service in the morning and evening as we wait until we develop the full service for 2027. “We have some extra fleet coming at the back end
of this year. We’re looking to try and allocate some of them to allow us to do a morning and evening peak initially. There is a requirement to get people into Dublin early morning and then out later in the evening. We should be able to do that probably by the back end of next year, it might be a bit sooner.” Meade also added that the plan would eventually introduce an all-day hourly service some time from 2026 to 2027. With the current journey time from Belfast to Dublin clocking in at over two hours, Meade stated that plans to upgrade existing rail lines to 200 km/h operation would cut the journey time to 90 minutes. This goal is “feasible and achievable” according to Meade and would eventually stretch to all cities in Ireland. “The ambition is, that certainly on the Belfast to Cork corridor, we will achieve those kinds of speeds and an equivalent improvement on the branch lines,” he said. “The principle we are working to is that we bring all our major cities to under two hours.
We’re currently on the two-hour mark, depending on which service you get, but the ambition is to continue to improve services incrementally to get all the cities under two hours.”
electrification. On the improvement of links between all cities in
Meade also mentioned the review as an opportunity to expand Iarnród Éireann’s presence in the movement of train freight. The State operator accounts for just over 1 per cent of freight in all of Ireland, a figure that Meade believes “should be in double digits” given that containerised traffic that moves by rail “reduces the carbon footprint of that individual container by 75 per cent” and is, thus, a “no-brainer”.
help to address regional disparity and drive investment in
Ireland and the furtherance of regional connectivity, Translink stated that “improved, higher-speed railway connections will regions such as the north-west”. Increased services “would help to consolidate the benefits already delivered by the North-West Transport Hub” in Derry, a £27 million project opened in 2019 with support from the EU’s INTERREG VA fund, the Department for Infrastructure in
Northern Ireland, and the Department of Transport in the The All-Island Strategic Rail Review was jointly launched by the Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan TD and then-Northern Ireland Minister for Infrastructure Nichola Mallon in April 2021. The review seeks to examine the potential for high-speed rail and shaping and developing the rail network across Ireland.
Republic. “In discussion of the plans to develop the Enterprise
The Strategic Rail Review will consider the rail network throughout the entirety of Ireland with regard to: improving sustainable connectivity between the major cities (including the potential for high-/higher speed); enhancing regional accessibility; supporting balanced regional development and considering rail connectivity to international gateways – sea and air ports, which will include examining the role of rail freight.
economic growth and improve links at every level including key
In its submission to the committee, Translink, the northern public transport operator, said that the decarbonisation goal of the review aligns with its own aim to deliver a fully net zero fleet by 2040 and noted that the strategic outline case jointly developed by Translink and Iarnród Éireann for replacing the entire Enterprise fleet was based on a move towards
Dublin-Belfast service, Translink notes that development of this service would also support connections from Derry onwards to Belfast, Dublin, Limerick, and Cork,” the submission reads. “It is its view that this development would serve to support airports and ports across the island. It is also supportive of an increased role for rail freight, noting that ‘ports within Northern Ireland at Belfast, Larne, and Foyle are in close proximity to the railway network but not connected’.” In his submission to the committee, rail consultant Richard Logue outlined a number of “quick wins” including amending train timetables to make intercity services more frequent and improving existing tracks to allow for higher train speeds. In terms of expansion, he highlighted the lack of direct rail connectivity to airports throughout Ireland and emphasised the importance of the Western Rail Corridor for balanced regional development.
A bright future for bus transport in Ireland
Bus Éireann CEO Stephen Kent says there has never been a more exciting time to be involved in bus transport.
Bus transport is the most popular form of public transport, with Bus Éireann clocking up 120 million kilometres of journeys in 2019, more than any other Advertorial
operator. Good public transport for Ireland is important as we emerge into a post-Covid reality, writes Stephen Kent, Chief Executive Officer at Bus Éireann.
As people begin to travel again and form new habits around commuting, Bus Éireann continues to collaborate with the National Transport Authority to improve our bus network. We believe that to encourage more people to choose buses over private cars, public transport must be affordable, reliable, and sustainable and should connect people with who and what matters to them. Affordability will be a key consideration for those returning to the workplace and to education when deciding how to travel. The Government’s decision to reduce fares on PSO bus services by 20 per cent for all passengers and by 50 per cent for those aged 19 to 24 shows a commitment to moving away from private cars. This is the biggest discount across the board since 1946 and Bus Éireann was the first public transport operator to provide this deduction to our
passengers. This reduction in fares will impact 20 million passenger journeys, significantly reducing the cost of taking the bus.
Challenges remain for the operation of a reliable bus network in Ireland, with congestion being a concern. Dublin and Cork both rank among the 100 most congested cities in the world1 and this presents not only a daily frustration for commuters, but a significant barrier towards a reliable service for bus users and potential passengers. Among the main benefits of taking the bus for those commuting is the ability to relax as they travel, read the news, check social media, and reconnect with family and friends. Congestion impacts on the reliability of our services, making it more challenging to get passengers to their destinations on time. This creates the perverse incentive of more people taking their own cars and increasing congestion further as a result.
Sustainability is also an important consideration for any modern public transport system, and we are committed to making our services sustainable for our customers and the communities we serve. Bus Éireann published our first sustainability strategy in 2021, with the
Bus Éireann is Ireland’s national bus company, with over 2,700 employees, operating over 1,100 vehicles to over 5,000 bus stops.
“Our entire Galway city bus service is currently operating on hybrid buses, which reduce emissions by 30 per cent. We are also the first operator in the country to have three hydrogen fuel-cell buses in service, in the greater Dublin area.” ambition of reducing our own greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 50 per cent by 2030. We collaborate closely with the NTA on the transition of our PSO fleet to the latest zero and lowemission vehicles. Our entire Galway city bus service is currently operating on hybrid buses, which reduce emissions by 30 per cent. We are also the first operator in the country to have three hydrogen fuel-cell buses in service, in the greater Dublin area. By the end of this year, the Athlone town fleet will have transitioned to Ireland’s first fully electric town bus service. With the Government’s commitment in the Climate Action Plan to achieve a 51 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 20302, we are carrying out upgrades and enabling works in our own depots to facilitate the latest, sustainable bus technologies and rolling out an ecodriving telematics system on our fleet to improve fuel consumption, passenger safety and comfort. Bus Éireann will continue to play our part in offering a sustainable public transport option for communities across Ireland. Following enhancements on the Navan town bus service by the NTA and Meath
County Council, the town bus saw a four-fold increase in average monthly passenger numbers by the end of last year3. The Government’s Connecting Ireland Rural Mobility Plan also proposes a 25 per cent increase in rural bus services, enhancing connectivity to communities who are unserved or under-served by public transport currently. We in Bus Éireann are conscious of our duty to the 65 per cent of young people and the 29 per cent of older people who use our services currently and who say they are dependent entirely on us. There has never been a more exciting time to be involved in bus transport, with buses increasingly able to offer a viable alternative to private cars. Although challenges exist, Bus Éireann will continue our commitment to delivering an affordable, reliable, and sustainable bus service to communities across Ireland.
Outside of Dublin, there is just 30km of bus prioritisation in Ireland and the Government has signalled their intention to increase this significantly. The BusConnects Cork plans announced by the NTA would see 75km of new bus lanes in the city, significantly reducing journey times and in Dublin, core bus corridors with bus prioritisation are a key element of BusConnects Dublin. The challenge of congestion is not insurmountable, but it does require thoughtful planning in order to convince more people that travelling by bus is a fast and reliable alternative to commuting by car.
Considering these reductions at a time when fuel prices are high, leaving the car behind makes more sense than ever. For many young people who will benefit from the 50 per cent reduction with the new Young Adult Leap card, this is an opportunity to form a lifelong attachment to public transport by making it an affordable alternative to car usage. The ambition to make a lasting, positive connection between buses and our young people can be seen in our goal to increase the size of the school transport scheme, which currently carries over 122,000 students each school day, by 20 per cent by 2030.
T: 0818 836 611 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
1. TomTom Traffic Index 2021 2. Department of Transport on the Climate Action Plan 2021 - https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/bb62c-climate-action-plan-will-transform-how-we-travel-with-decarbonisationcreating-a-cleaner-greener-transport-system/ 3. National Transport Authority, December 2021 – https://www.nationaltransport.ie/meath-county-council-completes-bus-stop-infrastructure-for-navan-town-services/ 55
Transport statistics 2022 Vehicle licensing and registration 2020 Vehicles under current licence in 2020:
Private cars under current licence in 2020:
New private cars licensed for first time in 2019:
2,215,127 New private cars licensed for first time in 2020:
Total new vehicles licenced for the first time in 2019:
Total new vehicles licenced for the first
time in 2020:
Used (imported) vehicles licenced for the first time in 2019:
Road traffic volumes 2020 47.1 billon km Total distance travelled by Irish licensed vehicles in 2020: 36.2 billion km Change in distance travelled by Irish licensed vehicles: -23.1% Total distance travelled by Irish licensed vehicles in 2019:
Type of fuel
Petrol and electric hybrid
Diesel and electric hybrid
Petrol or diesel plug-in hybrid electric
Road safety and fatalities 2021 Fatalities on Irish roads in 2020:
Fatalities on Irish roads in 2021:
Change in fatalities on Irish roads:
Fatalities on Irish roads by road user type, 2020 and 2021 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Driver
Passenger Pedestrian Pedal cyclist Mo torcyclist 2020
Source: RSA, 2022
Road freight transport 2020 Laden journeys made by Irish
Change in overall road freight
registered goods vehicles:
Overall road freight activity in 2020:
Overall road freight activity in 2019:
11.383 billion tonne-kilometres
Total tonnage of freight transported by Irish registered goods vehicles: Total number of licensed hauliers in the State in 2020: Total number of licensed hauliers in the State in 2019:
140,998 million tonnes
Change in total number of licensed hauliers in the State:
-0.3% Source: CSO Ireland, 2021 57
Luas: A smart, sustainable way to travel “We have identified significant opportunity for the evolution of our overall maintenance strategy,” says Egan. “In specially established workshops, we asked employees for their opinions on the current practices within maintenance and what they believed needed to change.” A data analysis was also conducted which reviewed manpower, facilities, tools, assets, and spare parts. Further workshops reviewed what worked well within current practices and what needed to be improved upon, as well as reviewing the organisational structure, with Transdev Group highlighting structures they use elsewhere which may be beneficial to use in Dublin.
Seamus Egan, Managing Director of Transdev Dublin Light Rail Ltd.
Seamus Egan, Managing Director of Transdev Dublin Light Rail Ltd. (TDLR) offers an insight into how TDLR as operator and maintainer of Luas, Dublin’s light rail network, plans to optimise the service over the coming years. Luas is a smart, sustainable way to travel and offers commuters a safe, dependable, frequent, and punctual travel option. The opportunity and, equally, the challenge now for TDLR is to improve performance without causing inconvenience to the customer. Egan says: “There are many ways in which we aim to improve performance. “The spotlight will primarily be on maintenance, which we are currently transforming. Alongside this, extensive work is taking place on a replacement 58
programme for overhead line equipment, with both programmes being conducted in accordance with Lean Management Work Principles.” TDLR took over responsibility for Luas maintenance on 1 December 2019, four months before the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and the introduction of restrictions. A key focus for TDLR will be making improvements by transforming how Luas maintenance is delivered.
These workshops resulted in a highlevel plan with five key pointers that form the basis of the Maintenance Transformation Plan. With the support of Transdev Group, the Luas Maintenance Transformation is now underway. The Maintenance Leadership Team is led by Pierre Gau, Asset Performance Director, and Judicaël Esmieu, Head of Transition. What does the Maintenance Transformation Plan look like? •
The first factor has already started with the designation of the new depot managers.
The second step saw the designation of daily planners and fleet coordinators to optimise our strategic planning delivery.
The third step may involve reviewing rosters with input from all relevant staff members.
The fourth step involves the expansion of our maintenance capability with newly created teams.
The fifth step will highlight new internal roles to allow our multiskilled technicians to grow within their teams.
Overhead Line Equipment and Replacement Programme
Alongside this change in Fleet Maintenance are the OHLE works (Overhead Line Equipment and Replacement Programme). There are two parts to this: replacing the older parafil support cables supporting the electric overhead power lines with a newer stainless steel cable type, in addition to rail replacement works. The overhead line work is being performed by Pod-Trak (an OHLE design and installation company under contract to TII). The plan for 2022 is to complete works over the first two weekends of every month alternating between the red and green lines each month (two weekends on the Red Line then two weekends on the Green Line). The rail replacement works include replacing curves that demonstrate signs of wear caused by the lateral forces from tram wheels as they turn over time. The replacement works, scheduled for this year, normally involve a weekend shut down in the affected areas with replacement bus services feeding the temporarily closed Luas stops. These asset renewal works are essential for network upgrading and will increase the longevity of the Luas network. Egan says: “It’s certainly an exciting and challenging time for Luas. All of this is happening amidst a return of customers to Luas, a labour market shortage, inflationary wage demands, supply issues, and continued Covid-related absenteeism.”
The TFI 90 Minute Fare, introduced by the NTA, is making an enormous difference for passengers. It is both convenient and beneficial and by reducing the fare even further in recent times, the whole customer experience has been truly enhanced.
“Last year during the height of the pandemic, we also undertook extensive training in lean management across the business from executive level to the shop floor,” Egan says. TDLR now have a team of lean ambassadors assigned to supporting colleagues and delivering various projects following lean principles. This has greatly reduced waste, increased productivity, and increased the number of decisions made in real time. An excellent example of this is the monitoring of sand in the depot silos by newly installed sensors connected to a
smartphone app. This ensures full realtime visibility of an essential component of Luas trams. Egan concludes: “My vision for Transdev is for all our work to be delivered in this way; to be smart, informed, and connected by digital technology in a culture of collaboration and accountability.
“The continued return of customers is to be warmly welcomed,” Egan says. “Every week we see the number of people choosing to travel by tram rising. Recent changes to the fare structure make it even cheaper to travel by public transport.”
“I look forward to the future.”
Transdev Dublin Light Rail Limited Red Cow, Clondalkin D22 C5P3 T: 01 4614 910 E: email@example.com W: www.tdlr.ie 59
Transport legislative priorities and committee activity eolas surveys the legislative landscape for transport in 2022, with a number of bills included in the Spring Legislative Programme as well as a number of important committee reports published. Legislative priorities Although none were included under the priority legislation heading, the following bills were included in the Spring Legislative Programme 2022: Air Navigation and Transport (International Aviation Agreements) (Amendment) Bill
To make legal provision for the Beijing Convention 2010 and the Montreal Protocol 2014 in Ireland
Heads in preparation
Horse Drawn Carriages Bill
To repeal the Dublin Carriage Acts 1853-55 and relieve An Garda Síochána of responsibility for the regulation and licensing of horse-drawn carriages in Dublin and assert the power of local authorities, including Dublin City Council, to regulate horse-drawn carriages within their respective functional areas
Heads in preparation
Large Public Service Vehicle Reform Bill
To streamline the procedure for the LPSV licensing framework and to eliminate overlap and duplication within the current LPSV licensing regime
Marine Casualty Investigation Bill
To implement recommendations from the review of marine casualty investigation structures in Ireland
Merchant Shipping (International Conventions) Bill
To provide for the national implementation of certain international maritime conventions, the updating of existing statutes in respect of other conventions and provision of some miscellaneous maritime safety amendments
Railway Safety (Amendment) Bill
To amend the statutory limits for concentration of alcohol in blood, urine and breath for a railway safety critical worker and to update procedures for sampling and testing for intoxicants and associated procedures under the Railway Safety Act 2005 and a number of other updating provisions
Heads approved on 22 May 2018 pre-legislative scrutiny (PLS) has taken place
Road Safety Authority (Amendment) Bill
To amend the Road Safety Authority Act 2006 to update existing and add new provisions
Taxi Regulation (Amendment) (Rickshaw) Bill
To regulate pedicabs to provide for improved public safety and enhanced passenger experience as a result of the wide-ranging concerns raised by multiple stakeholders including the public in relation to rickshaws carrying persons for reward
Heads approved on 6 November 2018 PLS has taken place
Although not included in the Spring Legislative Programme, the following Bill is also nearing completion: Air Navigation and Transport Bill
To facilitate reform of safety and economic regulatory oversight of the aviation sector in Ireland by merging the safety regulation side of the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) with the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) to create a standalone aviation regulator. The for-profit air navigation side of the IAA will become a separate commercial agency. Also, to amend the regulation of airport charges in Ireland, strengthening regulation, governance, and enforcement.
Currently in the third stage of Seanad Éireann reading, having passed all Dáil stages
Committee activity The Joint Committee on Transport and Communications is made up of: •
Joe Carey TD, Fine Gael;
Duncan Smith TD, Labour Party;
Cathal Crowe TD, Fianna Fáil;
Ruairí Ó Murchú TD, Sinn Féin;
Michael Lowry TD, Independent;
Senator Lynn Boylan, Sinn Féin;
Steven Matthews TD, Green Party;
Senator Jerry Buttimer, Fine Gael;
James O’Connor TD, Fianna Fáil;
Senator Gerard P. Craughwell, Independent;
Kieran O’Donnell (Chair), Fine Gael;
Senator Timmy Dooley, Fianna Fáil; and
Darren O’Rourke TD, Sinn Féin;
Senator Gerry Horkan, Fianna Fáil.
Thus far, the Committee has published three reports in 2022: Annual Report 2020, Joint Committee on Transport and Communications
Published 14 March 2022
A report covering the 21 meetings of the committee between 30 September and 1 December 2020. Issues covered during this period included issues affecting the aviation sector in Ireland a briefing by department officials on the effects of Brexit an update on the National Broadband Plan and broadband phone connectivity.
Work Programme 2022
Published 14 March 2022
Covers work to be done by the committee for the remainder of 2022, including scrutiny of EU legislative proposals the examination of key policies such as the Climate Action Plan as it relates to transport through zero and lowemission vehicles.
Submission to the public consultation on the All Island Strategic Rail Review
Published 16 March 2022
A report covering the representations made to the committee regarding the review by organisations and individuals such as Iarnród Éireann, Translink, and Richard Logue. Recommendations from the committee within the report include: that strengthening of all-island connectivity should be a key priority for the review that increased coordination between the departments of Transport and Housing, Planning and Local Government is needed to align planning that the Department of Transport carry out further economic appraisal with regard to the Western Rail Corridor that the Department reassess demand for services on the Limerick to Ballbrophy rail line and review existing timetables, investing in necessary upgrades that all disused rail lines be either recommissioned or established as greenways that the review consider the inclusion of the Western Rail Corridor and the North Tipperary line in the Iarnród Éireann Rail Freight 2040 Strategy that Iarnród Éireann and local authorities collaborate to ensure new investment is linked with active travel infrastructure development that the review consider whether current demand forecasting is comprehensive enough and that all forecasting models be transparent, with data and methodology published for each service and that Iarnród Éireann continue engagement and co-operation with An Garda Síochána to improve reaction time to personal safety incidents on rail services.
Ireland’s rail revolution is underway
The placement of an order for the largest and most sustainable rail fleet ever signals a transformed future, writes Jim Meade, Chief Executive of Iarnród Éireann.
Iarnród Éireann’s journey to being the backbone of Ireland’s sustainable transport network is underway. In December 2021, the largest and most sustainable ever order of fleet for Ireland’s public transport network was confirmed as up to 750 new rail carriages are set to be delivered over the coming decade. The contract for new electric and battery-electric trains, with an initial consignment of 95 carriages arriving from 2024, signal that Ireland’s rail revolution is underway. More trains, less carbon, more accessibility, less congestion, more frequency, capacity, and sustainability; these will be features of a transport network with rail at its core. At the heart of our plans is DART+, supported by the Irish Government under the National Development Plan, and for which the major fleet order was placed. Put simply, this investment will allow more trains to operate on all routes on our network, provide greater standards of accessibility, and allow for the 62
decarbonisation of all Greater Dublin Area rail services. It will see: •
the electrification of the Maynooth, Hazelhatch, and Drogheda rail lines;
infrastructure works to allow more trains to operate, including at Connolly and Docklands;
integration with other public transport modes including proposed MetroLink and BusConnects programmes;
the transformative DART+ fleet order; and
all leading to a doubling of the carrying capacity of the Greater Dublin Area network.
Accessibility for mobility and sensory impaired customers will be a principle of all station and fleet improvements, and our largest ever lift renewal programme is underway. Investment in car and cycle park and ride facilities, and customer information will
also make our services easier to access and to use.
DART+ Programme project status Serving
Investment in infrastructure in the Dublin area will not only benefit Dublin commuter belt services, however. It will grow our ability to operate services right around the country. We are also ambitious to see journey time improvements on national routes, and targeted line speed improvement works are already taking place.
Maynooth/M3 Parkway to City, including new depot West of Maynooth
Public consultation complete
Railway Order application Q3 2022
DART+ South West
Hazelhatch to Heuston and Phoenix Park Tunnel
Public consultation complete
Railway Order application second half 2022
DART+ Coastal North
Connolly to Drogheda
First public consultation complete
Second public consultation second half 2022
DART+ Coastal South
Connolly to Greystones
Emerging preferred option being developed
First public consultation commences late 2022
New trains for all DART+ routes above
Contract awarded to Alstom
First carriages arrive 2024
As part of the Government’s National Recovery Plan, €185 million is to be invested in the Cork commuter rail network, under the EU-funded Recovery and Resilience Plan, allowing Iarnród Éireann to increase the Cork commuter rail network’s capacity through: •
Double-tracking Glounthaune to Midleton;
Developing a new through platform at Kent Station for through running for Mallow to Midleton/Cobh; and
Resignalling the Cork commuter network.
In Galway, funding under the Urban Regeneration Development Fund (URDF) includes: •
investment of €9.3 million for a 1km passing railway loop at the existing Oranmore Train Station, which will allow the busy commuter link between Athenry and Galway to grow, in advance of our ambition for full double-tracking of the section in the future; and Ceannt Station will be regenerated as part of a major €40.3 million Galway City Council Transport Connectivity project.
In Limerick, the completion of the city’s own transportation hub centred on Colbert Station will also boost services, and the Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy has detailed the
opportunities provided by the network of rail lines around Limerick City. Waterford’s Plunkett Station will be relocated to be part of an integrated transport hub under plans to develop the city’s North Quays.
Rail Freight 2040 and Rosslare Europort Iarnród Éireann’s new Rail Freight 2040 Strategy has also been published, which aims to achieve: •
A five-fold increase in the number of rail freight services, to include over 100 new weekly services across the rail network;
A resulting reduction of 25,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually, with rail freight emissions per unit as little as 16 per cent of HGV emissions; and
Avoiding the requirement for 140,000 HGV journeys on our roads annually, as well as helping the supply chain which is facing a shortage of HGV drivers.
well as the European Union’s Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy and EU Green Deal, and supports the national decarbonisation goal of a 51 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030. Iarnród Éireann is also port authority for Rosslare Europort, and its status as Ireland’s gateway to Europe has been confirmed with 30 services operating directly between the port and Europe each week. Up to €350 million is set to be invested in the Port and its environs, which comprises: •
Rail Freight 2040 aligns with Project Ireland 2040, the Climate Action Plan, as •
€150 million in a series of existing projects, including: o
Rosslare Europort Masterplan, including port digitalisation, to include new freight and passenger facilities, storage, export and import facilities, berth extension;
Office of Public Works Project T7, to develop a permanent border control post within the port; and
New TII N25 Rosslare Europort Access Road.
An ambitious €200 million plan to become Ireland’s offshore renewable energy hub, with the port uniquely placed to support the development of the industry in the Celtic and Irish Seas.
The direction of travel, and acceleration of momentum, is clear. Our journey to our sustainable future is to a destination which will benefit our country, our environment, our communities, and our society as a whole, and everyone is welcome on board.
W: www.irishrail.ie E: IENews@irishrail.ie 63
RSA enforcement of commercial and passenger transport sector engagement with the Department of Transport, particularly in relation to developing the new Transport Strategy which is due to be launched later this year, the European Commission, and other enforcement agencies in the State and in other jurisdictions. In addition, RSA engages with national and European agencies concerning legal and policy developments in respect of road transport matters coming within the scope of the RSA’s remit.
The RSA Enforcement team comprises transport officers and vehicle inspectors. Transport officers enforce the driving and resting time rules, and regulations dealing with operator licensing, cabotage (national haulage for hire and reward by out of state operators) and driver Certificate of Professional Competency (CPC). Vehicle inspectors inspect vehicles for adherence to minimum roadworthiness standards.
The enforcement team in the Road Safety Authority (RSA) has responsibility for enforcing and promoting compliance with commercial vehicle, driver, and operator specific road transport laws.
Both transport officers and vehicle inspectors carry out their functions via mix of roadside and premises inspections.
These laws relate to:
RSA officers use a risk rating tool to help decide which vehicles should be inspected, which minimises disruption to compliant operators. This tool takes account of the operator’s compliance history with the RSA over the previous three years based on the results of any roadside/premises encounters, results of CVRT tests, prosecution history (where appliable) and the obligation to submit an annual self-declaration to the RSA. Operators are assessed separately for roadworthiness and tachograph and licensing compliance with a red/amber/green rating assigned to each.
driving and resting time, and tachograph regulations;
operator licensing including cabotage;
driver Certificate of Professional Competence (Driver CPC); and
commercial vehicle roadworthiness.
They work in partnership with An Garda Síochána as their key enforcement partner to maximise compliance which includes putting in place annual 64
commercial vehicle enforcement plans to ensure at a minimum Ireland meets its obligations derived from European law in respect of minimum inspection thresholds as set out in actions 152 and 154 of the Road Safety Strategy (RSS) Phase 1 Action Plan. They also partner with industry and vehicle operators via a commercial vehicle operator advisory panel to review and address enforcement and compliance issues as set out in action 181 of the RSS Phase 1 Action Plan. This partnership approach also includes
Roadside inspections are carried out in partnership with An Garda Síochána who stop vehicles for inspection on their behalf. Checkpoint locations are chosen having regard to commercial vehicle traffic volumes, proximity to transport hubs, seasonal factors as well as health and safety considerations.
Inspections take place anytime including outside core business hours and weekends. In 2021, for example, the RSA team participated in approximately 1,700 checkpoints in collaboration with An Garda Síochána countrywide, 20 per cent of which took place outside core business hours.
When carrying out premises inspections, RSA officers do not rely on An Garda Síochána. Operators can randomly be selected for inspection, or targeted when investigating/following on complaints received, or in following up on a roadside encounter. Where non-compliance is detected, RSA officers have a range of options available to them to secure compliance. They can be applied both at the roadside or when on private property. They include offering advice and education, to enforcement action which could involve issuing direction notices, prohibitions, giving oral/written warnings, directing vehicles to authorised tachograph workshops/CVRT centres for repair, including undertaking follow-up premises inspections and/or as a last resort initiating court prosecutions. Where required, RSA transport officers initiate their own prosecutions for breaches of the drivers’ hours, tachograph, operator licensing or driver CPC Regulations, whereas RSA vehicle inspectors act in an advisory capacity to An Garda Síochána in respect of roadworthiness matters found during roadside checks. Prosecutions for roadworthiness related offences arising from roadside encounters are initiated by An Garda Síochána.
Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030
During this same period the RSA vehicle inspector team recorded a 50 per cent roadworthiness compliance rate which quates to one in every two vehicles inspected having some form of a defect present. The main defects encountered include damaged or excessively worn tyres, followed by lighting, steering, and braking related defects.
Ireland’s fifth government Road Safety Strategy 2021-2030 aims to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on Irish roads by 50 per cent over the next 10 years. This means reducing deaths on Ireland’s roads annually from 144 to 72 or lower and reducing serious injuries from 1,259 to 630 or lower by 2030.
With minor defects excluded, roadworthiness compliance improves to approximately only one in every three
The strategy is the first step in achieving the 2020 Programme for Government commitment of bringing Ireland to Vision
Zero, the elimination of all road deaths and serious injuries on Irish roads by the year 2050. One of the core pillars of the strategy relates to safe work-related road use. Actions relating to this area in the 20212024 action plan aim to improve partnerships and enhance data sharing amongst key stakeholders not only regarding fatal and serious injury collisions, but also in relation to compliance and enforcement matters, and adherence to statutory responsibilities for safe work-related road use. They will also promote the use of safe work-related road use policies across government and key stakeholder agencies, and the use of vehicle safety standards for public procurement for public and commercial transport.
In terms of compliance, rates are relatively stable year on year. During the period from 2019 to 2021, the RSA Transport Officer team recorded a 65 per cent compliance rate at the roadside in respect of the inspection they carried out. The main infringements detected include not taking adequate breaks, drivers not using their driver’s card correctly or attempting to use somebody else’s card, and exceeding daily driving time limits.
vehicles inspected having a defects or defects present, and whilst minor defects may not have a significant impact on the safety of the vehicle, they should be spotted if drivers are carrying out effective daily walk around checks before setting out on their journeys. Theses checks are essential in preventing potentially dangerous vehicles from causing serious or possibly fatal collisions on our roads.
T: 096 25000 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.rsa.ie
A pathway to one million EVs by 2030 The Department for Transport is to establish an office for low or zero emission vehicles to coordinate efforts to have one million EVs on Irish roads by 2030. Plans to establish Zero Emission Vehicles Ireland (ZEVI), within the Department, were announced as part of the Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Strategy 2022-2025 consultation, which closed at the end of May 2022. The new office will oversee the delivery of the four categories of charging infrastructure outlined in the pathway, aimed at serving different user needs, including: •
residential neighbourhood charging;
destination charging; and
The Climate Action Plan sets out an ambition to have almost one million EVs on Irish roads by 2030 (€100 million allocated to 2025) and the strategy has been
developed to ensure that EV charge point infrastructure provision remains ahead of demand. At present, around 80 per cent of EV charging in Ireland is done at home and while the Department expects this to continue, the Strategy recognises “a significant gap” in relation to the provision of publicly accessible charging infrastructure and the need to meet growing demand. This growing demand is already evident. In 2021, over 15 per cent of new vehicle registrations in Ireland were EVs and in the first two months of 2022, Central Statistics Office figures show that this figure had risen to 25 per cent for the first two months of 2022. Three broad areas have been identified for action to drive delivery and stimulate EV infrastructure availability. Alongside public sector actions such as EV penetration of the public fleet and cross-government co-ordination of charging infrastructure and
Car Private Charging
Car Public Charging
120,000 100,000 80,000 60,000 40,000 20,000 2021
MWh per Week
Demand for electricity for EV charging
Source: Department of Transport, Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Strategy 2022-25
stakeholder engagement to integrate industry, the Strategy says that government funding supports will be required to “stimulate targeted EV charge point roll-out, address gaps in EV provision and ensure a comprehensive network for all as the EV market develops”. Although looking out to 2030 and beyond, the Strategy is targeted at delivery and actions between now and 2025, and review intervals have been built in. The first review will take place in 2025 and will deliver a detailed plan for continuing EV charging infrastructure delivery from 2026 to 2030. Ireland’s current network of around 2,400 publicly accessible charge points operated by several service providers is less than half the current average EU level of provision. Although home charging is considered the most cost effective and convenient way of charging EVs in Ireland, around a quarter of the car owner population have no access to private off-street parking. As EV uptake accelerates, home charging is expected to remain the most common form of charging the majority of vehicles, but the Strategy recognises the need to provide the same benefits of home charging to those who cannot. Residential on-street charge points; cocharging; destination charge points; enroute charge points; fast taxi charging hubs; and publicly accessible heavyduty vehicle charge points are solutions
identified for national and local government to facilitate.
EV Infrastructure Energy Group,
The Department says that the new ZEVI office will be responsible for the strategic coordination of EV policy, regulation and taxation; management of EV grants and incentives, and the Delivery Plan for the EV Infrastructure Strategy. Initially, the office will bring together the range of grants currently being administered by a range of organisations but, with expectation of grants being phased out as a result of EVs achieving price parity with traditional cars, “it is expected that the delivery of charging infrastructure will be the main focus of ZEVI for the second half of the coming decade”.
and energy sector stakeholders and
It is intended that ZEVI will establish an
expected in Q4.
bringing together government, agency convene an interdepartmental and interagency EV Infrastructure Delivery Group. Finally, it is intended that ZEVI will establish a new multistakeholder task force, to enable a public-private partnership approach to EV infrastructure delivery. All of these groups are expected to be in place by Q3 2022. ZEVI is expected to be established within the Department by summer 2022, with the final EV Infrastructure Strategy published in Q3 of the same year. An implementation plan is
Timeline of Strategy
Launch Funding Schemes
194,000 EVs on the roads
Revise and Update Strategy
The next decade will challenge our thinking and behaviour on transport infrastructure and, as a result, on quality of life. Congestion, long commutes, and increased vehicle emissions are symptoms of these problems. We speak often, as a city and as a society, about sustainability, but Dublin’s current path is not sustainable. It is clear that, without new thinking and new behaviour, the fruits of the success we have worked so hard to grow risk becoming the causes of failure.
Buses are vital to sustain urban growth
Dublin is a vibrant city with many natural advantages as a location which make it attractive for people to visit, live in, work in, and build their lives around. I know this only too well myself because 26 years ago, I moved from Romania to start a new life and career in Dublin, writes Sorin Costica, Head of Operations for Dublin Bus. We have vibrant communities, a robust economy and a unique spirit and sense of humour in our city. This is a source of tremendous pride for us all in the capital, especially for Romanian Dubs! The results are plain to see. We have bounced back from the ravages of a global pandemic. We now have busy shopping streets, buzzing restaurants and bars where record numbers of visitors receive a world‐renowned welcome from the locals. 68
We have newly constructed office buildings designed by award‐winning architects and they are slowly filling with people who have travelled from dozens of different countries to live and work here, often following significant investment by global businesses eager to invest in a progressive and competitive city. Dublin’s success, however, has placed significant pressure on services and
Buses represent one of the best forms of transport to meet Dublin’s needs into the future. They are flexible to demand, relatively low‐cost and the most adaptable to a city with a low‐density sprawl such as Dublin. Buses can be deployed quickly and can increase the overall capacity of the system more rapidly than any other modes of transport. Designing the city to the benefit of public transport users will provide benefits for all. It will ease congestion, reduce pollution and emissions and lead to much greater consistency and predictability of journey times. As the city develops, it is of critical importance that bus infrastructure is ready as new housing is delivered. All our experience shows that pre‐planning bus services engenders good transport habits when people move into an area. This means we will have to persistently increase the capacity of the system as the city grows. This is what the National Transport Authority’s (NTA) BusConnects network project is designed to do. Dublin Bus has played a leading role in delivering three phases of the Network Redesign project and will in the coming months deliver phases four and five. I’m proud of our role in assisting the NTA with BusConnects but elements of this project can be implemented more
quickly. High quality 24/7 bus services are needed to deliver a truly all-day and all-night city. The broader economic and social needs of the city justify accelerating the introduction of 24/7 services on Routes such as 46a, 155 and others. This will allow operators and customers to build on the success of 24/7 Routes 15, 39a, 41, C5, and C6.
Investment is only one part of the puzzle. Dublin’s population is due to increase by more than 400,000 before 2040. The competition for public space will grow more intense. Residential space, business space, road space for pedestrians, bus users, Luas users and private cars will be at a premium. The rate of growth of the city is going to create the dynamic where we will have to make difficult choices. In that context, the city’s relationship with the private car, especially those with internal combustion engines and diesels, will have to change. The status quo can’t continue. It is impossible to resolve our congestion issues unless we embrace new concepts such as active demand management of accessing the city. Now is the time to generate a consensus around this issue.
Demand management involves taking active steps to either restrict or apply some form of charge to private car movements. It can take the form of congestion charges, outright bans on cars for certain places, parking levies or restricting access to city corridors based on air quality or carbon emission grounds. Measures like this will be necessary in the coming years. This is not out of any desire to punish car drivers but because there is a growing realisation that without drastic action, the
“Buses represent one of the best forms of transport to meet Dublin’s needs into the future.” city will become unmanageable, and both the economy and environment will suffer. What is certain is that any efforts to introduce this must be well‐planned and those affected given alternative options, but it is time to start that conversation and to try to build a social consensus around the right approach. We can all accept the status quo is not working, but as a city, we also need to take the time now to drive a consensus behind what can be, and is, workable for the city. As custodians of the city’s public transport needs, we want Dublin and its people to thrive.
Merging technology and transport As someone who grew up in a village served by only one bus an hour, punctuality and reliability were must haves, or the bus was gone. Over the past 30 years Dublin Bus has consistently adopted technology like RTPI to ensure that reliability, frequency, and punctuality are core elements of the customer experience. Going forward the ability to easily pay for and use public transport will be essential if we are to attract people towards public transport and away from private car.
provided to customers, which in turn is also enabling changes to the business models of traditional service providers like Dublin Bus. The availability of unlimited data and the widespread use of mobile phones enables us to deliver a greatly enhanced customer experience. Harnessing this technology and using it to develop new, innovative services is a key part of the company’s vision to become the delivery partner of choice for state and private partners. The benefits include enhanced urban living opportunities, reduced congestion, improved air quality and reduced noise pollution. A better Dublin and a better public transport system. That’s the prize for us all.
W: www.dublinbus.ie Twitter: dublinbusnews
We are doing this to help the city now and to ensure its sustainable growth into the future. One obvious initiative which can deliver tangible benefits in both the short term and longer term is to engender sustainable mobility habits in young people. Encouraging public transport use as the default option will result in better carbon management habits by 2030. Policymakers could and should embrace the concept of making public transport free to all users under the age of 18. This would represent a short‐term financial cost but should be considered an investment that will deliver a handsome return to society. It would provide a terrific incentive for a new generation of environmentally conscious consumers.
Similar to other sectors, technology is changing the way transport services are 69
Hydrogen and transport The potential of hydrogen in fuelling transport is well known, but widespread uptake of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is still a decade away. Transport emissions make up 27 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union and accounted for 17.9 per cent in 2020 in Ireland, although this figure was impacted by Covid-19 and was recorded at 20.4 per cent in 2019. Moreover, in 2018, the sector accounted for 40 per cent of energy related CO2 emitted. The European Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, signed into European law by the European Commission in December 2020, aims to decarbonise the transport sector, with the first aim of having 30 million zero-emission vehicles on European roads by 2030. Full carbon neutrality is aimed at for 2050. Hydrogen is set to play a key role in this transition, with the communication from the Commission on the strategy stating: “Manufacturers are also investing into hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, particularly for use in commercial fleets, buses and heavy duty transport. These promising options are supported under the EU energy system integration and hydrogen strategies as well as the strategic action plan on batteries… Rail transport will also need to be further electrified; wherever this is not viable, the use of hydrogen should be increased.” Hydrogen is used to power fuel cells, the most common of which used in vehicles is the polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell. The membrane is used to separate oxygen and hydrogen within the fuel cell, with the oxygen collected by the positively charged cathode and the hydrogen collected by the negatively charged anode. Hydrogen molecules break into protons and electrons via an electrochemical reaction, with the positively charged protons traveling to the cathode and the negatively charged electrons to an external circuit, providing power to the battery and propelling a battery-powered vehicle. This method produces no exhaust emissions.
HGVs are much less suited to electrification due to the weight of the loads carried, which would require larger batteries; given that HGVs are weightrestricted, this would mean that for every extra tonne of battery, a tonne less of cargo could be carried, and batteries have been estimated to weigh as much as 15 tonnes in this case as compared to 550kg for passenger vehicles. Hyundai shipped 10 of the world’s first hydrogen powered lorries to Europe in summer 2020, operating on mileages of 248 miles. Such pilot schemes have also been occurring in Ireland, with the National Transport Authority unveiling three new hydrogen fuel cell double-decker buses to be used for commuter services in the Greater Dublin Area in July 2021. The buses are built in Ballymena, County Antrim, where 20 hydrogen buses were unveiled as part of a zero emissions fleet by the northern public transport operator, Translink, in March 2022. Both the Climate Action Plan 2019 and its 2021 update acknowledge the importance of hydrogen, but the 2021 version notes that the electrolysis
Hydrogen fuel cells are capable of powering all modes of road transport, from personal cars to HGVs, trains, ships and airplanes. Hydrogen fuel cells have been found to be more efficient than typical petrol or diesel combustion engines, with 60 per cent efficiency topping 25 per cent for the latter; however, both are bested by the 80 per cent efficiency of pure electric vehicles. This efficiency, as well as the status of hydrogen as a premium and thus costly fuel, means that fuel cells are unlikely to drive Ireland’s push towards the decarbonisation of its public transport, with electrification expected to be the solution for at least 70 per cent of the transition in that sector. It is expected that hydrogen will still play an important role in this area, offering flexibility in both fuel reliance and long-distance travel and frequency.
technologies needed for the production of green hydrogen are still in development and that costs of production and supply of hydrogen remains high. Hydrogen is thus relegated to “further measures” within the Plan rather than “core measures” and is identified as having a negative business case. Given this status, and the focus of the Government on existing technologies such as windfarms and electric vehicles, industry had called for a government hydrogen strategy, which resulted in the publication of the Green Hydrogen Strategy Bill in February 2022. The Strategy earmarks hydrogen for use in both the gas network and transport, but the inefficiency of using hydrogen to heat homes has been highlighted by industry, with district heating, heat pumps, and electrification thought to be better answers for anything below 300oC. In its report, A Hydrogen Roadmap for Irish Transport, 2020-2030, Hydrogen Mobility Ireland acknowledge that hydrogen rollout is a long-term goal but stress the necessity to begin work as soon as possible in order for it to be ready for widespread use for 2030. While hydrogen remains a premium fuel for the time being, and thus unsuitable for widespread rollout as is, projections for both hydrogen supply and vehicles suggest that the total cost of hydrogen vehicles will match conventional vehicles by the late 2020s should fuel cell vehicles receive the same policy incentives as standard electric vehicles. In order for hydrogen to be economically viable, it must be rolled out at scale, and thus Hydrogen Mobility Ireland has stated that it is necessary to roll out a smaller number of larger stations. With questions still surrounding the storage of the technology once it is possible to produce it at large scale in Ireland, the message from industry is clear: it is past time to begin planning in earnest.
Ireland and Emovis: Delivering ground-breaking mobility solutions
One of the impacts of the Celtic Tiger was a surge in car ownership. By 2008, there were 2.5 million cars on Ireland’s roads and most of them used the M50, Ireland’s busiest road and the hub of the motorway network. It became apparent to TII that Advertorial
the traditional tolling infrastructure on the M50 was not fit for purpose. They turned to Emovis to deliver and operate an innovative barrier-free tolling system – the first in Europe – to eliminate the queues, saving time and reducing emissions. The new barrierfree tolling system fitted seamlessly into Ireland’s interoperability management service provider (IMSP). This system, allowing motorists to pay any toll charge 72
on Ireland’s 11 toll roads through one account, has also been operated by Emovis since 2013. Having launched its cutting-edge technology free flow solutions in Ireland, Emovis has brought the benefits of freeflow tolling around the world with operations established in the UK and
new projects starting in the US and Qatar.
The Emovis-operated IMSP system quickly became a ground-breaking success story in free flow mobility and a welcomed solution to millions of motorists travelling on Ireland’s roads. By 2019, the system had over 60 million tag transactions annually, and a 30 per cent increase in total number of transactions. IMSP has also been crucial in improving the environmental impact of Ireland’s road network as tag owners travel on the Irish motorway network without having to stop or queue at a barrier considerably cutting CO2 emissions. Also, customers have single tag accounts with all the records of their transactions greatly reducing the number of physical receipts being issued.
Emovis: among the top 100 companies in Ireland Emovis, currently operating different mobility solutions in 10 countries across the world, has been the preferred partner of many local authorities because of its long-standing expertise and reputation in implementing highlevel engineering solutions, using the latest and most efficient technology.
The company offers solutions that focus on future mobility-related challenges. This includes the implementation of a low emissions zone (LEZ) and congestion charging. LEZ is a tariff based on the pollution of the vehicle in an urban area, while congestion charging is a tariff based on the use of the space in a certain period in an urban area. Both solutions help address important environmental challenges. Emovis’s work also focuses on road
user charging (RUC). To capture fuel tax loss from electric and hybrid vehicles, agencies typically implement one-time registration fees. RUC programmes as an alternative to these registrations. In the United States, Emovis is currently operating RUC programmes in the states of Utah and Oregon with a third programme in Virginia to launch in July 2022. “There are some social trends and scarce resources that require existing mobility solutions to evolve, impacting tolling,” says Stephen McCarthy, CEO of Emovis Ireland. “Since day one at Emovis, we’ve strived to challenge the status quo and change what’s possible. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Knowing this has allowed us to broaden our horizons, look at problems from multiple angles and constantly challenge the status quo in collaboration with our clients.”
eflow customers was to help increase unregistered customers make one off toll payments, pre-pay toll passages and sign up to receive reminders. The success of the app helped Emovis develop a similar solution for motorists in the UK. The company is deploying enforcement capabilities to manage onstreet parking for local authorities. Projects such the Mersey Gateway Crossing or IMSP have also been critical to developing the company’s unrivalled enforcement capabilities. The company has developed a series of enforcement products and services ensuring maximum scheme compliance and revenue collection, crucial to maintaining and improving road infrastructure. Building from this expertise, Emovis is currently developing a solution to manage on-street parking, which it hopes to deploy with local authorities in Ireland and the UK.
Importantly, the work of Emovis helps to create jobs. In the United Kingdom, Emovis has been working with the Halton Borough Council and the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board since 2017 for its tolling services in the Mersey Gateway and the Silver Jubilee Bridges between Runcorn and Widnes near Liverpool. Earlier this year, it was announced that this partnership would be extended to 2029, securing the jobs of over 100 people in the region.
Emovis’s presence in Ireland has been beneficial to both local authorities and to the company, as the country has become a pioneer in mobility solutions and Emovis has been able to test and implement the latest technology and most efficient solutions. The successful partnership has been recognised by organisations including the reputed Business and Finance Top 100 Companies Index which included Emovis in its 2022 edition.
The success of this project was partially possible thanks to the experience gained from Emovis’s work in Ireland. In 2017, Emovis launched eflow, one of the first tolling mobility apps in the country. The objective for creating an app for
Stephen McCarthy, CEO Emovis Ireland T: +353 87 299 7256 E: Stephen.email@example.com
With over 700 employees across 10 countries, Emovis operates some of the largest electronic tolling infrastructures in countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Qatar.
“Since day one at Emovis, we’ve strived to challenge the status quo and change what’s possible. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution.”
The desire to provide an excellent customer experience to all toll users in Ireland was an important factor that led Ireland’s TII to partner with Emovis, a well-known and established company in electronic tolling and smart mobility solutions, to operate the IMSP. Emovis provides services centred around customer, i.e., the driver, experience, which is impacted most by different systems and technology solutions.
Speakers: Stephen Prendiville, EY Ireland; Jessica Dunne, Fridays For Future; Kevin O’Sullivan, The Irish Times; Magdalena Sedlmayr, Fridays For Future; Peter Thorne, Maynooth University and Irish Climate Analysis and Research UnitS Group (ICARUS) and Cormac Murphy, European Investment Bank.
Irish Climate Summit 2022 The annual Irish Climate Summit took place recently in the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Dublin on Wednesday 26th May. Delegates heard from a number of local and visiting speakers including Ossian Smyth, TD, Minister of State for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Public Procurement, eGovernment with special responsibility for Communications and Circular Economy; R. Andreas Kraemer, Ecologic Institute; Hannah Daly, University College Cork and Pete Lunn, ESRI. The summit brought together key stakeholders from across the sector as they discussed the latest ambitions, challenges and opportunities of Ireland’s response to the climate crisis. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our summit sponsor, EY Ireland, all speakers, delegates and exhibitors who joined us and made the summit a huge success.
Brian Murphy, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine with Catherine Joyce O’Caollai, Indaver Ireland.
Dorothy Maguire and Bailey Talkington, EY Ireland.
Hannah Daly, University College Cork with Paul Price, Dublin City University.
Mark Emmerson, Queen’s University Belfast and AllIsland Climate and Biodiversity Research Network, with Ger Breen, Bord na Móna Plc.
Keith Magee, Global Action Plan speaks with an attendee at the Global Action Plan exhibition stand.
R. Andreas Kraemer, Ecologic Institute, Minister Ossian Smyth TD and Cara Augustenborg, Ireland’s Climate Change Advisory Council.
Regional Focus: Limerick City and County Council
REGIONAL FOCUS: LIMERICK CITY AND COUNTY COUNCIL
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A focus on innovation If good fortune is, as we are told, what happens when ‘opportunity meets with planning’, then Limerick’s luck would very much appear to be in. That’s because when benchmarked against international best practice right now, the strategic focus of Limerick would suggest that it is a city region placing its bets in the right place. Limerick is chasing the right opportunities and planning for them.
It is operated by Innovate Limerick, itself created by Limerick City and County Council to help drive innovation and act as the delivery mechanism for many of the projects outlined in the Limerick 2030 plan, the Limerick Regeneration implementation plans and others.
If there was ever to be a litmus test of Limerick’s robustness, it would be Covid and the fallout of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Yet Limerick has never been better positioned to achieve that burning ambition of reemerging as a national economic powerhouse and crossroads for international investment.
This collaborative network of engine hubs, or the engine ecosystem as it’s called, provides a hybrid working infrastructure for remote workers and business owners, as well as full landing pad services to underpin multinational investment in the region. It’s a network of 15 private and public enterprise spaces that spread beyond Limerick itself, into Clare, Tipperary, and north Kerry with more to be added in the coming years.
Innovation is at the heart of it all. Limerick is a city region that has always been at the cusp of innovation. As the wheels of industrial revolution changed over the centuries, Limerick moved with them and even sometimes ahead. Today, the momentum is relentless and fast-paced. This, together with its status as one of the most competitive English-speaking city regions in which to do business in the post-Brexit EU and a city celebrating diversity and inclusion, has turned Limerick into one of Europe’s most progressive and future focused cities. Its pro-business status, underpinned by its brand proposition Atlantic Edge, European Embrace, is reflected by the location in the region of 120 plus of the world’s leading ICT, life sciences, and financial services companies, but innovation is not just about big business. It’s about smaller business too and an example of this is Limerick’s engine hubs networks.
Head of Innovate Limerick Mike Cantwell’s rationale for the engine hubs reaffirms how the city and county is embracing all that’s thrown at it today. “How and where we work is changing and our goal in Innovate Limerick is to facilitate this change,” he says. “Our members realise that there is more to life than a long commute and living somewhere they don’t enjoy. Engine hubs helps people to create a better work-life balance, by providing highquality co-working facilities. We are challenging traditional urban-rural divides and offering flexible work locations in cities, towns, and villages. “People who wish to work remotely can now access a wide range of quality spaces to work from in the Mid-West through our website enginehubs.ie. This is the first network of its kind in the country. It’s something we are very proud of because it is empowering innovation right across the region.”
REGIONAL FOCUS: LIMERICK CITY AND COUNTY COUNCIL
Film in Limerick is another of Innovate Limerick's successes, having created an environment through a range of supports that is enabling Limerick to become an even more significant production hub for film and TV. This is through the development of further screen infrastructure, the rollout of new initiatives to nurture locally based talent and a drive to attract more inward film and TV productions to the midwest. In fact, more productions were filmed and produced in the region in 2021 than ever before, including the biggest ever production to be filmed in Ireland, Foundation made at Troy Studios, which employed over 500 crew, and TV dramas Hidden Assets and Smother season one and two. Last year, when he spoke at the launch the Climate Action Plan, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar TD put his finger on what he felt would be central to the national economy going forward. “We are facing a twin transition to a new economy, a transition that is digital and green. And the countries that will do best are ones that are early movers,” he said. Limerick and the mid-west are forging ahead in these areas and it’s very much a case of back to the future.
Similarly, on the green side of this pairing, it’s a region with an unrivalled renewables ecosystem, from the Ardnacrusha scheme developed just north of the city almost 100 years ago to the relentless move today towards transforming the Shannon Estuary and Foynes Port into a global floating offshore wind hub. The latter has the capacity to position the region globally; one leading national business figure recently described it as having the potential to become the Texas of renewable energy. Politically, Limerick is also a leader of change and following an historic plebiscite in 2019, the people of Limerick voted to become the first city region in Ireland to have a directly elected Mayor, a move which will transform local government in Limerick. For a city that’s had its fair share of challenges over recent decades, there’s a steely determination in Limerick that this is its time. T: +353 61 556 000 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: Limerick.ie
From the earliest days of the digital revolution, when global ICT pioneers such as Wang, Verbatim, and Atari arrived, to today with major investments by the likes of Analog Devices and Dell, Limerick has been synonymous with the
digital sector. More recently, major investment in life sciences by companies like Regeneron, J&J, Stryker, Cook Medical, and Edwards Life Sciences and a recent announcement by Eli Lilly is positioning Limerick as a major life science manufacturing and R&D location.
REGIONAL FOCUS: LIMERICK CITY AND COUNTY COUNCIL
Limerick snapshot Following the merger of Limerick City Council and Limerick County Council in 2014, the geographic area of Limerick City and County Council totals 2,755km2. Its urban population centres include Limerick city, Newcastle West, Annacotty, Kilmallock, and Abbeyfeale. After Dublin, Belfast, and Cork, Limerick city is the fourth most populous city in Ireland. Bordering four other counties – Clare to the north, Tipperary to the east, Cork to the south, and Kerry to the west – a vibrant network of geographically dispersed towns and villages exists in Limerick City and Council area. An open rural area, incorporating 34 non-census settlements, represents 30 per cent of the Limerick City and County population.
194,899 population 97,340 males 97,559 females
Average density of Limerick city is 1,600 persons per 1km2 52,818 persons under the age of 19 Average household size of 2.7 Source: CSO, 2016
Marital status 54 per cent single 37 per cent married 4 per cent widowed
Third-level education 26,000 third-level students 14,221 University of Limerick students 6,000 Technological University of the Shannon and Limerick students
5,000 Mary Immaculate College students
Source: Limerick City and County Council
Limerick City average house price in Q1 2022 €240,655 Limerick County average house price in Q1 2022 €221,098 National average house price in Q1 2022 €299,093 Source: Daft.ie, Irish Rental Report, Q1 2022
Average monthly rent in Limerick City in Q1 2022 €1,485 Average monthly rent in Limerick County in Q1 2022 €1,129 Average national monthly rent in Q1 2022 €1,567 Source: Daft.ie, House Price Report, Q1 2022
House sales throughout 2021 2,459 Residential vacancy rate in December 2021 4.6 per cent 78
Source: Limerick Economic Monitor Q3/Q4 2021, Limerick City and County Council and EY
REGIONAL FOCUS: LIMERICK CITY AND COUNTY COUNCIL
Connectivity Total number of passengers handled by Shannon Airport in 2019 1,616,422 Total number of passengers handled by Shannon Airport in 2021 322,162 Change in number of passengers handled by Shannon Airport between 2019 and 2021
+80 per cent Top three arrivals and departures for Shannon Airport by route 1.
Total air freight handled by Shannon Airport in 2021 15,766 tonnes Source: CSO 2022
Total gross tonnage of vessels arriving at Shannon Foynes Port in 2019 6,223,000 tonnes Total gross tonnage of vessels arriving at Shannon Foynes Port in 2021 6,709,000 tonnes Source: CSO 2022
€24 million investment by the National Transport Authority for active travel projects in 2022 Total premises in Limerick supplied by commercial broadband operators in Q3 2021 77,853 Penetration of broadband in Limerick 78 per cent representing the fourth highest penetration in Ireland Source: Limerick Economic Monitor Q3/Q4 2021, Limerick City and County Council and EY
Pre-Covid employment in Limerick 86,076 workers 23,000 people joined the workforce in the Mid-West Region in 2021 Employment in the Mid-West Region increased by 10.7 per cent in 2021 2,000 new job announcements in 2020 2,337 new job announcements in 2021 Change in number of jobs announced between 2020 and 2021 +16.9 per cent Total investment in Limerick in 2020 €6 million Total investment in Limerick in 2021 €102.7 million Change in total in Limerick between 2020 and 2021 +1,611.7 per cent Source: Limerick Economic Monitor Q3/Q4 2021, Limerick City and County Council and EY
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Limerick Twenty Thirty: Providing the tools to compete at the top table An observation by a global executive from a US multinational during a visit to Limerick Twenty Thirty’s Gardens International site recently echoed the standards being set by the development company for the city and mid-west region. which is going to raise the bar even higher. The project across 3.7 acres in the heart of Limerick is not only the biggest single commercial property development of its kind undertaken in the mid-west region but the largest outside the capital, with capacity for up to 3,000 employees across a 450,000 sq ft campus. Critically also, and very much a core principle for LTT, is that it will again deliver to the very highest international standards for sustainability. In the meantime, masterplanning of the 10-acre Cleeves Riverside Quarter site on the north bank of the River Shannon is also underway. In total, the Limerick Twenty Thirty programme will amount to over €500 million in investment and trigger huge social and economic change across Limerick.
“It’s just like what we have in our best offices in the US,” the visitor remarked as he emerged to see the vista from the fourth floor. “It’s stunning.” The multi-award-winning commercial development was on the visitors’ itinerary as a showcase for the high standards of office space now being delivered in Limerick and the good news is that it’s only getting better. Just a few hundred metres away, from the 112,000 square foot development, Limerick Twenty Thirty (LTT) has commenced work on the Opera Square site, 80
Importantly, too, since the establishment of LTT, significant private developer confidence and investment has returned to Limerick, the collective impact will be a city transformed from street scape to skyline. If one of Limerick’s key goals is to become a city competing on an international scale, then LTT is giving it tools to do so. In the wider rebirth of the economic, social, and physical landscape of Limerick, LTT is emerging as a key architect, and if the best form of flattery is imitation, then the project is getting plenty of admiring eyes as other urban areas are now borrowing from the LTT playbook by establishing similar projects.
REGIONAL FOCUS: LIMERICK CITY AND COUNTY COUNCIL
LTT is a designated activity company (DAC) that was established as a special purpose vehicle by Limerick City and County Council to build out disused sites in the city. These are not any city centre sites but highpotential locations that, if maximised, could become economic growth engines for an entire region. The first such commercial property company to be established by a local authority in Ireland, it was a bold – if not eyebrow-raising – move but the type of courage that was clearly needed at a particularly challenging time for the city and region. “We were established when developer interest had more or less left Limerick. It was a really difficult time. The city and region were disproportionately impacted in the crash. Not alone did it have the same economic implosion other cities had to deal with but for Limerick it was much more severe because of the loss of thousands of industrial jobs in the city during that period,” says David Conway, Chief Executive of LTT. “Looking back, a key element of the response was that the local authority did some very smart strategic planning with ‘Limerick 2030 Economic and Social Plan for Limerick’, which has been a brilliant blueprint for the rebirth of the city. Stakeholders got behind the plan together because they really cared about the city and region and finally could see a vision for it. It was almost a case of starting from scratch and when you’re doing that, you have to plan. When you plan, you need to be visionary and ambitious and Limerick Twenty Thirty came out of that.” The early, formative years were the slowest; getting set-up, building the team and taking the Gardens International project, in an 18-month programme, from a half-built discarded relic of the so-called boom to the showcase it now is, a project that swept the boards of national architecture awards following its completion to fit-out stage in 2019.
In the meantime, LTT has been working on getting planning for the first round of the Mungret Park housing development, with permission granted for the
Limerick has a vision to be recognised not just nationally but internationally as an exemplar for delivering the most innovative region, reinventing itself as a vibrant modern and dynamic place to live, learn, work, and grow up in. That’s high ambition. Limerick is an ambitious place today and Limerick Twenty Thirty has a plan to match that ambition. “We’re delivering a fantastic finished product. We’ve seen that with Gardens and there’s even better to come. These are developments for the future. They’ll be future proofed with leading international sustainability standards, they will be designed and finished to the very best standards. That’s what’s needed if you want to attract major global investment to your city and Limerick Twenty Thirty is really advancing that cause,” Conway concludes.
Since then, the primary focus has been the Opera Square project, which, after a lengthy planning process, received planning permission in early 2020, not long before Covid arrived on our shores. Despite the shutdowns, the project got underway last year with a year-long demolition and enabling works programme with a very strong reuse emphasis – again evidence of the sustainability focus – last year and construction is set to commence over the coming months.
initial 252-unit first phase of the wider programme, as well as the master-planning for Cleeves, which will be another game-changing project for the city and region.
REGIONAL FOCUS: LIMERICK CITY AND COUNTY COUNCIL
Limerick’s infrastructure: Road, rail, and ports
The renewed National Development Plan (NDP) set out a series of significant infrastructure priorities out to 2030. In October 2021, the Government launched the renewed National Development Plan to 2030, a planned €165 billion investment, recognised as the largest in the State’s history. Outlining a focus on priority solutions to target challenges in housing, healthcare, and the climate; the plan also seeks to secure job growth in every region and deliver economic renewal for the decade ahead. Although many of the initiatives aimed at Limerick are retained from the previous iteration of the plan, a review of priority projects has seen changes to those initial ambitions, as well as fresh impetus on other projects of note. An outline of significant NDP projects affecting Limerick include:
Roads N/M20 Initially touted as a potential motorway between the State’s second and third largest cities, Cork and
being shaped through consultation. Rather than a motorway, most recent plans suggest 80km of new and improved dual carriageway road between Cork city and Patrickswell that will provide bypasses of Mallow, Buttevant, and Charleville, with an estimated cost of between €1 and 1.5 billion.
Limerick, the N/M20 Cork has been a long-standing proposal to better connect the two cities by
Other proposed national road projects, which were
improving the transport network and improving
part of the previous NDP and are now subject to
safety above the existing N20 route.
further approvals include: The N21/N69 Limerick to
The renewed NDP has marked the project as
Foynes road (Adare bypass); the N21 Newcastle
“subject to further approvals”, with the project still
West Bypass and the N21 Abbeyfeale Bypass.
REGIONAL FOCUS: LIMERICK CITY AND COUNTY COUNCIL
announced its intention to invest €28 million in new infrastructure as part of a plan to turn the Shannon Estuary into an
The N21/N69 Limerick to Foynes road
international hub for floating offshore
(Adare bypass) in particular is featured as
part of a commitment to improve access to the Port of Foynes. A jetty expansion
Alongside plans to expand jetty
program at Shannon Foynes Port was
infrastructure, the project is set to include
outlined for completion this year, however,
the development of one of the country’s
in March 2022, Shannon Foynes Port
largest logistics buildings.
The strategy proposed the examination of a dual track between Limerick Colbert and Limerick Junction stations, alongside:
Funding over the 10 years is set to support the further development of commuter rail in both Limerick and Galway, including the development of a new Limerick commuter rail network, including new stations on each of the historical rail lines. The revised draft Limerick Shannon Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (LSMATS) was published in April 2022, launching a second round of public consultation for LSMATS, having originally been consulted on in 2020.
a new rail station at Moyross as demand for travel increases in line with the regeneration of this area;
a new rail station at Ballysimon, including park and ride;
complete the redevelopment of Colbert rail and bus station; and
an investigation into the potential for rail freight in support of the proposed Regional Freight Strategy, including the
reinstatement of the line between Limerick and the Port of Foynes. Outside of rail, the LSMATS also boasts a new vision for transport in the area, including a greater focus on sustainable land use planning and specific transport measures to support Limerick regeneration. Included in the suggestions is a 184km cycling network linking all major origins and destinations within the area and an inter-urban network connecting Limerick city and metropolitan town centres and a detailed BusConnects proposal.
Flood relief The NDP committed to €1 billion in flood risk management, including funding through the OPW for the Limerick City and Environs Flood Relief Scheme. Limerick City and County Council commissioned the scheme in May 2021, with ground investigation works commencing in April 2022 and expected to last until September 2022. Construction of the project is not expected to start until 2026, with handover expected in 2031.
R E G I O N A L RFEOGCI U O SN:ALLI M FO EC RU I CSK: LCIIM TY E RAINC D K COUNTY COUNCIL
Limerick 2030: Planning for the future In the decades ahead, as we continue to advance our mission to become not just Ireland’s but one of Europe’s most exciting sustainable living environments, the past decade will very much be seen as the period when the seeds for the future harvest were sown, writes Pat Daly, Chief Executive of Limerick City and County Council. when we launched our vision and strategy, ‘Limerick 2030: An Economic and Spatial Plan for Limerick’. It was a once in a generation plan – the first of its kind in the country - developed to guide the economic, social, and physical renaissance of Limerick city centre and the wider county/mid-west region.
It was published with a top-line target of €1 billion in enterprise and investment infrastructure and 12,000 new jobs. Such has been the success of the plan that these targets were already surpassed five years into the plan and the trajectory since has continued upwards. Employment levels in the region were at 191,000 in March 2012 and had reached 238,000 by the end of Q3 last year, with nearly 23,000 people joining the workforce during 2021.
If, as the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, then you could argue, based on the key barometer of economic growth, Limerick is half-way there already. Yet in Limerick today, we believe our journey is only just beginning. Nevertheless, the past decade or so has been about planting the seed, about planning for the future. For Limerick, that happened just short of 10 years ago 84
Job announcements have been coming thick and fast over the past six months; 130 R&D jobs by med-tech giant BD; Legato Health Technologies announcing 200; Indigo Telecom Group pitching in with 100, Vitalograph with 200 in Limerick and Ennis and Eli Lilly giving the dream start to 2022 with 300 jobs for a €400 million new manufacturing facility. These are on top of ongoing investments by the likes of J&J, Regeneron, and Analog Devices. Job creation has not only been confined to the larger firms; local enterprise office clients have created a net total of 179 jobs in 2021.
REGIONAL FOCUS: LIMERICK CITY AND COUNTY COUNCIL
The momentum is strong, but our focus is on keeping it maintained, and while strategic planning has been essential, so too has collaboration. For sure there have been challenges along the way, differences of opinion, but there is a stakeholder collective in Limerick today that is underpinning its success; key players with the common Limerick and regional interest working hand in glove in making sure we get there. For example, we now have at the table two universities, UL and TUS, as well as Mary Immaculate College, which have a collective student population of over 35,000 – critical in terms of graduate supply to support economic growth. Extend the catchment to a 90-minute radius of Limerick and student numbers reach over 100,000. We’re also working closely with Shannon Airport, which – uniquely apart from Dublin – gives our region direct connectivity to all three key global markets, the UK, Europe, and the US.
Green is, indeed, synonymous with Limerick from a sporting perspective on a national scale but is very much going to be our international calling card as well, with Limerick and the Shannon Estuary set to become the supply-chain hub for the global-scale floating offshore wind industry revolution off the west coast, largely thanks to the efforts of Shannon Foynes Port Company and other key stakeholders. These initiatives will place Limerick at a critical intersection globally, where the best nations and regions will lead in the fight against climate change, in ridding future generations of the environmental and social uncertainty that this and previous ones have created. Ultimately, that’s where we want to be. A city region at the edge of innovation, embracing inclusivity and a champion of sustainability.
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The plan has spawned catalytic initiatives like the Limerick Twenty Thirty designated activity company (DAC), a special purpose vehicle created by Limerick City and County Council to act as a de facto public interest developer, at a time when they were thin on the ground, to build out disused sites in the city and stimulate economic growth. There’s also the €9 million investment in the O’Connell Street revitalisation plan and €116 million of URDF Grant Funding recently secured from Government, which is set to transform our city centre. The Opera Project is now well under way to redevelop a key city centre site of 1.62 hectares providing much needed new commercial office space for new jobs in our city centre, with loan finance secured from the European Investment Bank and the Council of Europe Development Bank.
Limerick was also the first city in Ireland to develop its own Digital Strategy. Its green credentials are such that it is one of only two lighthouse cities, selected for a major climate change programme focused on dramatically reducing the carbon footprint of urban areas. From a lifestyle perspective, the Discover Limerick DAC was born from the plan, Limerick has become a festival city through arts and social programmes and the biggest of all awaits in five years’ time when the Ryder Cup is staged at the prestigious Adare Manor. We’ve also seen initiatives like the Limerick Greenway developed. The list goes on.
REGIONAL FOCUS: LIMERICK CITY AND COUNTY COUNCIL
Tourism in Limerick Limerick is in the penultimate year of its Limerick Tourism Development Strategy, developed by Limerick City and County Council. The 2019-2023 strategy envisages 1.1 million visitors to Limerick per annum, generating €360 million in revenue and creating 1,500 new jobs by 2023.
King John’s Castle.
Adare Heritage Centre and Castle Desmond.
The framework for tourism in the Treaty City and County, which follows on from the success of Limerick’s reign as European City of Sport in 2011 and National City of Culture in 2014, is based around four areas that will “provide a solid foundation in terms of the attributes and assets of the destination on which to build”: waterways; activities; heritage; and arts and culture. The objectives within the plan are broken down into four targets for the Council: ensuring that Limerick is “internationally and nationally recognised as a highly appealing tourism destination with a strong reputation for the quality of its water-based activity, arts and culture, and heritage attractions”; to ensure a “coordinated approach to tourism and to galvanise the enthusiasm of key actors”; to support growth
in the local tourism sector; and to present a “delivery mechanism for national policies, objectives, and targets that offer the greatest potential for growing the tourism sector” in Limerick. On a county level, Limerick generated revenue of over €307 million from tourism in 2017, with almost 931,000 visitors; from this starting point, the Council has set targets of reaching over 793,000 overseas visitors, generating €313.2 million of revenue, and 379,706 visits from Irish residents, generating €47.4 million in revenue, in 2023. With 205,000 jobs supported by the sector in 2017, the strategy aims to add 1,500 new jobs by 2023. The unforeseen Covid-19 pandemic does of course caveat performance in this sector, but Limerick City and
REGIONAL FOCUS: LIMERICK CITY AND COUNTY COUNCIL
County Council has shown support for the sector’s recovery, with the Council’s 2022 approved budget including a Tourism Support Scheme 2022, support for tourism infrastructure projects under community development funding streams, and an estimated overall outturn of €2,233,757 for the year on tourism development and promotion.
Waterways Limerick city’s position at the point where the River Shannon meets the sea and the multiple canals and rivers throughout the county such as the rivers Abbey, Feale, Aherlow, Mulcair, and Maigue mean that both county and city are well placed to benefit from recent upsurges in water sport-based tourism. Actions in this area mentioned in the plan include the development of a blueways masterplan setting in place a framework for prioritisation of infrastructural upgrades, working with tourism providers to develop itineraries on water, and exploring the possibility of hosting events such as the Tall Ships festival. Included in the adopted 2022 budget for the Council is a River Shannon accessibility study, set for publication in Q2 2022, which will reflect Council work in tandem with Waterways Ireland to maximise accessibility to the river. Work on Lough Gur, a popular site for water sports such as kayaking and canoeing, will also continue through 2022, enhancing existing facilities on the site.
Activities Actions included in the action plan under the activities heading include the completion of the Great Southern Greenway Limerick section and the development of Limerick as a venue for adventure sport tourism. The Council also pledges to explore the scope for sporting institutions such as the GAA and traditionally tourist friendly sports such as golf to contribute in this regard. Most notable in the 2022 budget in this area are the commitments to building out the Limerick Greenway. 40km of upgrading
and resurfacing work were complete on the greenway in 2021, 37km from Rathkeale to Abbeyfeale, and the remaining 3km to the Kerry border afterwards. Planning permission for an 80-space carpark for the Limerick Greenway Hub in Newcastle West has been obtained and station houses along the greenway have been purchased with the intention of using them as hubs. Works on seven underpasses and two overpasses are also expected to commence in Q3 2022.
Heritage As one of Ireland’s counties with the most visible remnants of its history still intact – from King John’s Castle and St Mary’s Cathedral in the city to the medieval strongholds of Abbeyfeale, Newcastle West, Rathkeale and Adare, to Castle Desmond in Askeaton – the Council plans celebrate and showcase its heritage through “dynamic” use of existing venues and improving the visitor experience to existing centres and museums, as well as considering the feasibility of an Historic Quarter in the city. During 2021, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, through the Council, allocated a total of €414,329 to heritage works and research projects in Limerick through the Built Heritage Investment Scheme (€141,600), the Historic Structures Fund (€135,429), and the Community Monuments Fund (€137,300).
Arts and culture Actions included in the action plan to develop the arts and culture offering of Limerick include the advancement of proposals for a multi-purpose events centre in Limerick city, reviews of existing council-owned infrastructure such as Adare Heritage Centre, and the stimulation of cultural activity in public spaces through utilisations of pop-ups. Limerick is currently operating under its Limerick Festivals and Events Strategy 2020-2030 and 2021 saw a total of €211,000 invested by the Council under its Festivals and Events Grant Scheme 2021/22, with 28 applicants approved for funding from a pool of 40 applicants asking for a total of €649,221.45. 87
REGIONAL FOCUS: LIMERICK CITY AND COUNTY COUNCIL
Mid-West Regional Enterprise Plan: A connected jobs strategy for Limerick A connected jobs strategy, targeting Limerick’s unemployment blackspots, will form part of wider plans to develop social enterprises and job creation initiatives for areas of high unemployment in the mid-west. Launched by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment in February 2022, the Mid-West Regional Enterprise Plan to 2024 includes tackling areas of high unemployment as one of its five strategic objectives, alongside: digitalisation and innovation; sustainability; enterprise in regional towns and rural areas; and supporting SME, start-ups, and microbusinesses. Limerick city contains eight of the top 10 nationally identified high unemployment blackspots. The 2016 Census identified 23 electoral areas within the mid-west, where unemployment levels were greater than 27 per cent, 17 of which were in Limerick city. As part of the Government’s wider €180 million plan to support and boost enterprise, skills, and employment in the region through the Mid-West Regional Enterprise Plan, a proposed connected jobs strategy for Limerick’s unemployment blackspots is aimed at establishing dedicated supports to build on existing initiatives and “ensure a connected approach is being taken to reduce unemployment”. Five pillars, required to operate in parallel, will make up the connected approach: Firstly, engagement with local communities to develop solutions to long-term unemployment will be required, recognising that each community faces different challenges, and some will require support to establish strong community groups, with an employment focus. Secondly, a ‘pathway to employment’ is to be developed to support those seeking employment, with a focus on regeneration areas. Already established in the north side of the city, current roll out to the south side will target industries where opportunities exist, identifying employment opportunities and providing skills training. The Government says that industry-led traineeships and/or apprenticeship type models will also be utilised.
Thirdly, recognising staff shortages in key industries such as
hospitality and construction, the strategy identifies not only an opportunity for the unemployed to join the workforce but also for employers to contribute positively to their community. A connected jobs strategy aims “to develop linkages whereby local employers can better connect with long-term unemployed or unemployed youth from some of the region’s unemployment blackspots to understand the challenges faced, develop suitable job opportunities, and work together with employees and local supports to ensure the best chance of success”. Fourthly, in recognising the importance of mentoring and support, the strategy says that mentor supports will be initiated from the pre-employment stage onwards, a structure that is considered vital to bring the most difficult to reach participants “to the employment baseline”. Finally, the strategy will assess the physical infrastructure requirements to support the existing strengths and preferred jobs for regeneration areas, bringing forward future funding submissions. Earmarked for completion by Q4 2024, the delivery of a connected job strategy within the wider Mid-West Regional Enterprise Plan is to be led by Limerick City and County Council. Outside of the connected job strategy, the wider objective to develop social enterprises and job creation initiatives for areas of high unemployment, the Mid-West Regional Enterprise Plan also aims to build on the region’s status as a national leader in the development and delivery of social enterprise support. Additionally, they plan sets out ambitions to establish a multifunctional Creative and Innovative Industries Centre of scale at Limerick Enterprise Development Partnership (LEDP). Expected to create 200 jobs over five years, with a target of 20 per cent from the local regeneration area, the plan says the project “will enhance the vision for the mid-west region to be recognised as the most equipped region in Europe for complete film production facilities”.
100 Years of Keeping People Safe
100 years of policing report
Credit: Department of Justice
100 years of policing report
100 Years of Keeping People Safe
Justice Minister Helen McEntee TD: ‘The envy of many police services’ This year, we are marking 100 years since the handing over of the administration of the State to the new Free State administration. Among the many significant events that took place in 1922, one of the most important was the formation of our national police service, An Garda Síochána, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD writes. The establishment of a new police service by the Provisional Government, initially named ‘The Civic Guard’, was one of the key foundation stones of the Irish Free State, and An Garda Síochána remains to this day one of the great successes of this country. Its foundation marking the start of a special relationship between the Irish people and the police service of the new State. Throughout the past century, the organisation has stayed true to its founding principles, with its defining characteristic being its unique connection to our communities. A relationship which is the envy of many police services across the world, rooted in and serving our communities, keeping people safe. Our local gardaí are the people who we turn to in our most difficult moments and, often, they are the ones to break difficult news and support us in our most intense moments of grief. 90
Over its first 100 years, An Garda Síochána has faced a succession of challenges, from establishing the trust of the people following years of unrest and war, to World War II, ‘the Troubles’, the growth of organised crime, Covid-19, and a range of other obstacles in between. On each occasion, individual gardaí have risen to the challenge and kept us safe. Policing during any time in history is hugely challenging and I am always impressed when I see new recruits passing out in Templemore, because I know that the decision to commit so wholeheartedly to public service in the way that gardaí do is not a decision that is taken lightly. The hard work carried out by individual gardaí and management in building and sustaining community relationships over the decades has ensured that serving members can enjoy the high level of respect from the public that is both deserved and necessary to do their jobs.
While recognising the key contribution made by An Garda Síochána over the last century, it is also important that we look forward and develop and modernise our police service for its next 100 years. Indeed, this is a crucial time for policing in this country as the Government works to implement the recommendations made by the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland. I am honoured to hold the office of Minister for Justice at such an important time of reflection and reform. Central to the Commission’s work was the first key principle that Human Rights are the foundation and purpose of policing and that is the driving motivation behind all of our work. It is important that our focus is on people, whether we are talking about victims of crime, vulnerable or elderly people, people from our ‘new Irish’ communities, or indeed any person who requires the assistance of An Garda Síochána from time to time,
100 Years of Keeping People Safe
It is important we also realise that the criminal landscape is changing with increasing speed and we must have the right structures, technology and oversight systems in place in order to combat today’s challenges.
I believe that keeping our criminal law up to date is vital and extending the circumstances in which these important tools can be used will assist gardaí on a daily basis in making sure serious criminals are identified, apprehended and prosecuted.
Yes, this means increased gardaí on the streets and the Government is continuing to invest in increasing the total number of gardaí. The Garda Commissioner is also introducing a new operating model which will provide more front-line gardaí, increased Garda visibility and a wider range of policing services for people in their local area.
As well as increased resources, we are also working to ensure that the best possible structures are in place. In line with the Commission on the Future of Policing’s recommendations, my department is bringing through legislation, including the landmark Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill, to ensure the best possible structures and oversight systems are in place.
In addition, thanks to the recruitment of Garda civilian
100 years of policing report
This is central to my department’s focus on community safety, a concept which goes beyond my department and An Garda Síochána alone and encompasses all services working in an area.
Under Justice Plan 2022, I have committed to the publication of the Garda Síochána (Recording Devices) Bill. This important legislation will make provision for Garda powers to use modern digital technology including body worn cameras, automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) and CCTV.
whether they even know it or not.
I believe it is important too that all members of our
“Throughout the past century, the organisation has stayed true to its founding principles, with its defining characteristic being its unique connection to our communities.” Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD staff, over 800 gardaí have already been reassigned to core policing duties, providing higher visibility, and allowing people to feel safer in their communities. However, it is important we recognise that crime today is not solely about physical break ins. As we have all seen over the course of the pandemic, increasingly criminals are also targeting victims through fraud and other forms of cybercrime. It is therefore essential for gardaí to have access to the latest technologies available and my department is also providing An Garda Síochána with the budget necessary to do this.
Credit: Department of Justice.
In fact, this year, government has provided An Garda Síochána with a record budget of over €2 billion.
communities see themselves represented in An Garda Síochána. I am delighted to see a steady increase in the numbers of new recruits who come from diverse backgrounds and the contribution that they will make to policing cannot be underestimated. The lasting positive effects, especially in the pivotal roles of community policing and human rights, will stand to us well into the future. If you would like to learn more about the actions that gardaí are going to be concentrating on over the next three years, I would encourage you to read the recently published Policing Priorities 2022-24, as well as the Garda Strategy Statement for the same years, which highlight the following five priorities: protecting and supporting victims and the vulnerable; supporting and ensuring community safety; tackling organised and serious crime; rights based and ethical service delivery; and development of the capacity to strategically manage Garda resources. Delivery of these priorities will be another key step in An Garda Síochána’s work of keeping us safe.
Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD attends the official opening of the the new Dublin Airport Garda Station in May 2022. 91
100 Years of Keeping People Safe
100 years of policing report
A history of policing by consent
An Garda Síochána has gone through many changes in its 100-year history, but its dedication to policing by consent has always remained the same. In 1922, the foundation of An Garda Síochána would turn out to be a momentous event in the history of Ireland by helping bring peace and stability to a country ravaged by conflict.
When the War of Independence ended, a bitter and divisive Civil War took place. In the midst of this upheaval, thousands of newly recruited Civic Guards, as they were known then, with minimal training and no policing experience were sent to every part of the country to begin their new roles as “guardians of the peace”. In addition to these difficulties, the new gardaí were also subject to threats, intimidation and violence by some of those who saw them as imposing the will of a State they were vehemently opposed to, but, despite this, members of An Garda Síochána gradually began 92
to be accepted by the people they served. Key to this was the organisation’s ethos as espoused by the first Garda Commissioner, Michael Staines, who said: “The Garda Síochána will succeed, not by force of arms or numbers, but on their moral authority as servants of the people.” This statement is prominently displayed in the Garda College and has been seen by countless gardaí during their time there as trainees. This ethos, combined with a policy that gardaí would not be armed, built its credibility among communities regardless of what side they were on in the Civil War. The acceptance of An Garda Síochána as the legitimate policing service of the Irish Free State by the vast majority of Irish people was
100 Years of Keeping People Safe
100 years of policing report
“The Garda Síochána will succeed, not by force of arms or numbers, but on their moral authority as servants of the people.” Michael Staines, first Garda Commissioner
a significant factor in bringing the Civil War to an end. Opponents of the Treaty now tried to achieve their aims by politics, rather than violence. An Garda Síochána also adopted a community policing approach that has since been imitated by many police services around the world. Gardaí were to become integral to local communities by building relationships and acting independently and fairly. This, in turn, saw them become trusted to such an extent that An Garda Síochána now has one of the highest public trust levels for a police service in the world. Policing as part of the community rather than as separate from the community has been vital to maintaining that trust and would not have been possible without the dedication, professionalism, and determination of those first gardaí. This tradition has been carried on by the generations of gardaí since.
A unique feature of An Garda Síochána is its dual mandate as the national policing and security service. The importance of this became paramount with the rise of terrorist activity related to ‘the Troubles’ from the late 1960s. Having a dual mandate has enabled An Garda Síochána to quickly take information and intelligence gathered by gardaí in local communities and turn that into operational action by specialist units to prevent and detect terrorist activity. Many lives have been saved as a result. This work continues in cooperation with the PSNI and international law enforcement agencies to disrupt and degrade terrorist organisations intent on undermining peace on this island. Crime and criminals have continued to adapt and evolve, and An Garda Síochána throughout its history has done the same. One of those innovations was the establishment in 1934 of the Garda Technical Bureau whose role was to assist investigations
As Irish society changed and the first generation of gardaí retired in the 1950s with new gardaí being recruited en masse for the first time in three decades, there were further changes in the organisation.
organisation, as well as leading roles in specialist and operational units.
One of the most significant of these was the introduction of female gardaí in 1959. It had taken too long, but the first female recruits commenced training with those 12 pioneers in policing going into service in Dublin that year. Now, in 2022, An Garda Síochána has one of the highest levels of female police officers in Europe, its two Deputy Commissioners are female, and women occupy many senior positions in the 93
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by examining a wide range of evidential material such as firearms, bullets, fingerprints, handwriting, and shoe and tool marks to support investigations. The Technical Bureau has been responsible for breakthroughs in countless investigations that might not otherwise have been solved.
In the 1990s, the ethnic make-up of Ireland began to change, albeit slowly. Realising the importance of being able to work effectively with diverse communities, in 2001 An Garda Síochána became the first police service in Europe to establish a unit dedicated to engaging with these communities.
Crime never stands still and neither does An Garda Síochána. The Garda Analysis Service monitors emerging crime trends to inform the organisation on what crime types it needs to pay particular focus to. This information has played a critical role in preventing and tackling crime.
Education and training has also been central to the development of An Garda Síochána. Ensuring Garda personnel are fully up-to-date with latest policing techniques and processes is critical in providing a modern policing service.
The Garda Racial, Intercultural and Diversity Office, as it was known then, established a nationwide network of ethnic liaison officers to meet and work with individuals from, and representatives of, diverse communities in order to provide reassurance to them.
Sometimes, this also necessitates setting up new bureaus and units. In the last decade, this has seen the establishment of bureaus to tackle the nexus between organised crime and drugs (Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau), the emergence of more sophisticated frauds, particularly online fraud (Garda Economic Crime Bureau), the growth in online crime and exploitation (Garda Cyber Crime Bureau), and crimes against the vulnerable such as domestic abuse, sexual violence, and human trafficking (Garda Protective Services Bureau).
In 1964, Garda training moved from Dublin to a purpose-built facility in Templemore, County Tipperary. Since then, every garda has gone through the recruitment training programme in the Garda College and returned for the wide range of training courses from driver training to crime investigation, to victim rights, and human rights. Many of these courses are also delivered online through the college’s e-learning platform. The Garda College is an accredited third-level training and educational centre with Garda recruits undertaking a BA in Applied Policing, and is visited by many other police services to learn how An Garda Síochána delivers its training. 94
Under the Garda Diversity and Integration Strategy, which was launched in 2019, the role of these officers has been expanded to diversity officers to reflect the need to reach out to the widest possible range of communities. Working with communities in partnership to keep people safe is critical. The Garda Community Engagement Bureau does this through a range of forums and meetings such as the Rural Safety Forum, the Garda Diversity Forum, and the National Retail Safety Forum, as well as delivering the Garda Schools Programme and crime prevention advice locally and nationally.
This is in addition to the ongoing multiagency work by the Criminal Assets Bureau, which was established 25 years ago, and has seized over €200 million in assets from criminals, particularly those in organised crime gangs. There is no such thing as a victimless crime. Based on feedback from victims and in line with enhanced rights for victims at national and EU level, An
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In the 1990s, approximately 400 people tragically lost their lives per annum as a result of traffic collisions. The Garda National Roads Policing Bureau was established in 1997 as part of An Garda Síochána’s contribution to reducing the number of road fatalities and improving safety on our roads. Since then, through the work of An Garda Síochána in collaboration with partner agencies and successive governments, there has been a significant reduction in the number of fatal road traffic collisions. While every road death is one too many, Ireland now has one of the lowest levels of road deaths in Europe. The policing philosophy first espoused by Michael Staines could clearly be seen in An Garda Síochána’s work during the Covid-19 pandemic. From the early days of the pandemic, in support of public health measures and regulations, An Garda Síochána adopted the 4Es approach: engage, explain, and encourage with enforcement as a last resort. Gardaí focused on providing help and support to the most vulnerable whether it was those cocooning or victims of domestic abuse, as well as public reassurance through high visibility patrolling. An Garda Síochána’s response to a national crisis was another in a long line of examples of its dedication to keeping people safe based on its tradition of policing by consent.
All gardaí know that there may come a time when they have to put their lives on the line to protect others and the State. The first garda to make the ultimate sacrifice was 21-year-old Garda Henry Phelan who was shot dead by antiTreaty IRA volunteers in October 1922 while engaged in community building activities. Since then, 88 other gardaí have lost
their lives in the line of duty. Their individual dedication to duty and to the people of this country is commemorated each year at the Garda Memorial Day and at the Garda Memorial Garden in Dublin Castle.
Major policing events They are etched in our memories – the visit of US President Kennedy in 1963, Pope John Paul coming to Ireland in 1979, the visits within days of each of Queen Elizabeth and US President Barack Obama in 2011, and there have been many more. Behind each of these major occasions is a massive amount of work by gardaí to ensure such visits go off safely for the visiting VIPs and those who attend the events.
activities to support operational policing, such as processing vetting applications; handling crime-reporting calls from gardaí; dealing with fixed-charge penalty notices; developing and running IT systems to aid crime investigation; keeping gardaí informed of the latest policing developments; supporting the mental and physical health of gardaí; and providing analysis of crime trends. This civilianisation over the last number of years has also resulted in over 800 gardaí returning to frontline duties, and garda staff returning to the frontline, and Garda staff are due to take on more functions which will release further gardaí back to operational duties.
From gardaí on the ground who manage large crowds and traffic with professionalism and good humour, to specialist units such as the Air Support, Mounted Unit, the Dog Unit, and the Water Unit, such visits require significant coordination, planning and dedication.
In the line of duty
“Policing as part of the community rather than as separate from the community has been vital to maintaining that trust and would not have been possible without the dedication, professionalism, and determination of those first gardaí. This tradition has been carried on by the generations of gardaí since.”
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Garda Síochána established victim service offices in each division to keep victims up-to-date with the progress of their case as it moves through investigation stage and into the justice system, as well as the supports available to them.
Garda staff Policing can’t be delivered without considerable organisational supports. In 2022, there are approximately 3,400 Garda staff involved in a range of 95
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A century of An Garda Síochána 1922
The Civic Guard is formed by the Provisional Government of Ireland, undertaking responsibility of policing in the Irish Free State, supplanting the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Irish Republican Police.
May 1922: Civic Guard mutiny begins with Garda recruits occupying the Kildare Depot. September 1922:
The inaugural Commissioner of An Garda Síochána, Michael Staines resigns and is replaced by Eoin O’Duffy.
Garda Henry Phelan becomes the first member to be killed in the line of
Gárda Síochána (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1923 establishes and regulates a police force “to be called and known as ‘the Gárda Síochána’”.
The Dublin Metropolitan Police (Póilíní Átha Cliath) merges with An Garda Síochána.
February 1933: June 1938:
Éamon Broy appointed as Garda Commissioner.
Michael Kinnane appointed as Garda Commissioner.
July 1952: Daniel Costigan appointed as Garda Commissioner. July 1959:
First female Garda recruits admitted to An Garda Síochána.
December 1960: Electoral Act, 1960 repeals the prohibition of gardaí to vote at Dáil and presidential elections and at referenda.
Garda Síochána College established at McCan Barracks, Templemore,
William P Quinn appointed as Garda Commissioner.
March 1967: Patrick Carroll appointed as Garda Commissioner. September 1968:
Michael Wymes appointed as Garda Commissioner.
April 1970: Garda Richard Fallon becomes the first garda killed during the course of ‘the
June 1972: A commemorative mass marks 50 years of An Garda Síochána.
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Patrick Malone appointed as Garda Commissioner.
September 1975: Edward Garvey appointed as Garda Commissioner. January 1978: Patrick McLaughlin appointed as Garda Commissioner. February 1983: Lawrence Wren appointed as Garda Commissioner. November 1987: Éamon Doherty appointed as Garda Commissioner. December 1988: Eugene Crowley appointed as Garda Commissioner. April 1989: An Garda Síochána undertakes its first overseas
mission in Namibia with the UN.
January 1991: Patrick J Culligan appointed as Garda Commissioner. July 1996:
Patrick Byrne appointed as Garda Commissioner.
1997: Garda Air Support Unit is established and comprises a
helicopter and a fixed-wing aircraft.
July 2003: Noel Conroy appointed as Garda Commissioner. September 2005:
Requirement for mandatory proficiency in Gaeilge is dropped.
Fachtna Murphy appointed as Garda Commissioner.
December 2010: Martin Callinan appointed as Garda Commissioner. March 2014:
Nóirín O’Sullivan appointed as Garda Commissioner.
September 2017: Dónall Ó Cualáin appointed as Garda Commissioner. September 2018: December 2021:
Drew Harris appointed as Garda Commissioner.
Requirement for proficiency in two languages, one of which had to be Irish or English, is dropped.
Centenary of An Garda Síochána marked. 97
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Garda Commissioner Drew Harris: A tried and tested policing model In the context of the implementation of a new operating model, alongside the imminent introduction of the Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill, Ciarán Galway visits An Garda Síochána’s (AGS) Phoenix Park headquarters to discuss culture, reform, and reflection with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. Beginning a five-year term as Garda Commissioner in September 2018, Drew Harris’ contract was subsequently extended – by two years – until June 2025.
In 1983, at the age of 19, he joined the Royal Ulster Constabulary. Six years later, the Provisional IRA killed his father, Alwyn Harris, who was also an RUC officer. Appearing on The Late Late Show in 2021, he reflected on his loss, asserting: “In lots of ways it has had a profound effect on my outlook as to
what policing should be… and what we should do for those who are without a voice or might be marginalised in society.” Ultimately, Harris garnered 34 years of policing experience, principally in the North, with two years secondment in Scotland. By 2006, he had risen to the rank of Assistant Chief Constable responsible for Crime Operations with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), and in 2014 he was appointed Deputy Chief Constable.
Harris’ appointment marked a departure for An Garda Síochána. It was the first occasion in which the new appointment process, managed by the Public Appointments Service on behalf of the Policing Authority, had been deployed and he became the first individual from outside the State to be appointed Garda Commissioner. During his time as Assistant Chief Constable, Harris had responsibility for intelligence within the PSNI, including responsibility for the interface with the
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Security Service, or MI5. As such, his remit included “all covert operations relating to national security and crime”, as well as “the majority of the covert intelligence sources who would report in respect of national security matters”.
Regardless, when, in June 2018, the Government announced the appointment, then Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan TD asserted: “Drew takes up office at a time of major reform and investment which will redefine An Garda Síochána as an organisation. As we approach the centenary of the establishment of An Garda Síochána, the organisation is on the cusp of significant change.”
Transition Widely caricatured as ‘the outsider’, Harris did not find his transition from Belfast to Dublin – from the PSNI to AGS – “as big a challenge as you might think”, certainly not culturally. Although he does allude to some operational contrasts, acknowledging that “it happens in a somewhat different context”. “I was well steeped in a tradition of policing,” he begins, adding: “This is police work, in the end. There were things that I wanted to do but also things that you wanted to respect, build upon, and enhance.” Emphasising his determination to identify An Garda Síochána’s strengths, “rather than throwing everything into the change bucket”, the Commissioner focuses on public confidence. “When you look at confidence in us as a policing service, it is very strong. What we look to all the time is what could threaten that and what should we do in order to mitigate those threats, or indeed counter them, and enhance confidence in the service,” he reveals.
Commonalities One commonality – which is reflected across Europe – is a steady increase in crimes which include domestic abuse, child abuse, online child abuse, serious sexual assault, and, most recently then,
the rise of cybercrime. “Those challenges are consistent. We have moved more from crimes of acquisition – where there had been a huge concentration – across to crimes which can often happen in a more private space. It is more difficult to get a handle on, there are huge issues of underreporting, and the more we invest in it and talk about it, obviously, we will get more reports about it,” he says. Simultaneously, the Garda Commissioner is cognisant of the globalised challenge around visibility and public confidence in policing. Referencing the 2020 murder of George Floyd in the US, alongside policing scandals in the UK and Europe, as illustrative of just how quickly confidence can be eroded, he asserts: “An important part of our role is looking out to see what the trends are elsewhere, how we can learn from them, and how to adapt quickly. “What people say about policing in America or London, such is our interconnection, some of it driven by social media etcetera, that it reflects into us as well. There is no way of avoiding that. That might not have been case 20 years ago, but it certainly is now.”
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Ultimately, the appointment caused some unease at the time, not least within policing circles, with one former Chief Superintendent telling RTÉ: “I know of no State security organisation, and I’m really familiar with that field, in Europe or elsewhere, that would do it that particular way.” structure. “We do everything from community policing right up to organised crime, countering the threat from terrorism, and indeed then we have a national security responsibility as well, which is tackling the threat of espionage from hostile state actors,” he notes. As well as being a distinct among neighbouring policing organisations, it ensures a “golden thread of information within the organisation”, which Harris identifies as a strength. “We are not in silos. Where other jurisdictions might give national or international crime work to some other agency, that always creates a difficulty around demarcation of information and investigations. We avoid a lot of that because we are all on one piece of turf and, therefore, avoid the turf wars. That is good.”
Operating model Published in September 2018, the Report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland was followed by a four-year implementation plan, A Policing Service for our Future. Now, in its third iteration, one major component of the plan is the implementation of a new organisational operating model.
In spite of the often-globalised nature of policing, Harris identifies several characteristics exhibited by An Garda Síochána which have long since dissipated elsewhere. “We have kept doing things which have stopped in a lot of jurisdictions, including smaller stations, the schools programme, even the roads policing. These are things which, certainly in Great Britain, have pretty much withered on the vine. We have kept them going here and to is to our strength as well,” he relates.
Enacted in May 2022, the general scheme of the Garda Síochána (Functions and Operational Areas) Act 2022, provides for the implementation of this new operating model, defined by Garda divisional structure. Designed to liberate specialist gardaí from backoffice functions, the new divisional policing model will ensure that services pivot to divisional level. In practice, this means that the 19 Garda divisions will act as the lynchpin for day-to-day policing delivery across four Garda regions.
While stressing the cliché of gardaí as a loadstone of local communities, the Garda Commissioner also underscores his organisation’s unitary policing
With the first live rollouts of the new operating model timetabled for the coming months, Harris outlines: “The divisions are the units by which we
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deliver policing. We have enlarged them so that they are substantial commands in themselves and a good deal more self-sufficient. “We are going to delegate more responsibility to the divisional officers, the chief superintendents.”
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Indicating that the previous operating model was not resilient enough “to cope with some of the specialisms that are needed at local level”, the Commissioner emphasises the need for divisional structures to deliver service provision that is both
and then as with all these things, there is a balance, and we will follow through with the implementation of what the legislation ultimately turns out to be.”
Culture Reflecting on the challenges of implementing change in a large public sector organisation, the Commissioner defines himself as “behaviouralist”. Discussing the influence of behaviour on culture, he impresses the importance of consistency.
“It is a human condition, particularly in an endeavour such as policing, that things will go wrong, and mistakes will happen. That is opportunity to learn. But malfeasance in a public office, such as being a member of An Garda Síochána is a different matter…” G A R DA C O M M I S S I O N E R D R E W H A R RIS
attentive to local requirements and sufficiently strong to ensure operational resilience. “I want operational autonomy, within a corporate framework, for those divisional officers. They need to be able to make operational decisions locally and be then supported by the regional structure and the national structure in doing that; and that is specialist resources or additional resources as needs be. “That is where we are going. It is a well tried and tested policing model actually that evolved in a lot of other countries other than Ireland,” he insists.
Legislation As a priority in the Programme for Government, the Department of Justice has included reform of An Garda Síochána among its primary goals. Indeed, in February 2022, Justice Minister Helen McEntee TD signalled: “[An Garda Síochána] is currently entering a critical phase with the rollout of the new operating model, and the forthcoming passage and implementation of the Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill. Once enacted, the Bill will provide for the enhancement of “the governance of An Garda Síochána and to provide for clear and effective oversight and accountability”. Criticising the proposed legislation in a submission to the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Harris wrote: “As it is currently drafted, the scheme falls well short of our shared ambition for a transparent, accountable, trusted and effective policing service for the future.” Responding, therefore to the suggestion that there is some disquiet within An Garda Síochána at the prospect of the new legislation, the Commissioner reflects: “We have had the opportunity to contribute to legislation and to make suggestions etcetera. We have been afforded that both through the committee stage but also in our dealings with the Department [of Justice]. That has happened. 100
“That is the process you follow through; exercise your voice
“The one thing that is required from me is consistency of the message. That consistency of the message must also be reflected in what we do and the decisions that we take so that there is no disparity between what we are saying, what we are doing, and the direction that we are going. “There is a huge amount written about cultural change, but I do think it is a little bit simpler than some would say,” he proposes.
Discipline Meanwhile, having called into question the morale within An Garda Síochána during his address at the annual Garda Representative Association (GRA) conference in May 2022, outgoing GRA president Frank Thornton has advocated for a review of the Garda’s suspension policy. With over 90 gardaí currently suspended pending investigation, and a further 90 resignations in 2021, the Commissioner has been variously characterised in the media as a “no-nonsense police officer” and as having a reputation as a “strong disciplinarian”. They are not characterisations which Harris seeks to embrace. “The thing about discipline in a police service is, what is the alternative? Ill-discipline in a police service? That is not credible,” he insists. “Discipline is about the behaviours that the public expect – and rightly expect – of a policing service. It is about behaviours, and it is about behaviours which are so beyond the pale in terms of malfeasance of whatever nature it might be, that they are going to erode public confidence in An Garda Síochána. That is not tolerable to me. “I know people caricature it, perhaps without understanding it. I am not interested in pursuing people for mistakes. It is a human condition, particularly in an endeavour such as policing, that things will go wrong, and mistakes will happen. That is opportunity to learn. But malfeasance in a public office, such as
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being a member of An Garda Síochána, is a different matter and I regard that as being gross misconduct, in its various forms.”
“What is the outcome that we seek to achieve? Simply put, it is keeping people safe. We want Ireland to be a safer place to live and work. If we concentrate on that, then ultimately, an element of our work will always be in respect of discretion. Rather than chasing figures, we are chasing the public good that we do.”
Centenary Reflecting on the centenary year of AGS, Harris contends that as well as being a sign of the organisation’s success, it represents an opportunity for the future of policing. “Very few organisations actually do get to 100 years and so we want to celebrate that and celebrate the achievements,” he says, adding: “It is a good moment for us to set out what our manifesto is for the future, how we want to see policing develop here in Ireland.” However, while paying tribute to and expressing his pride in the “very many great people who have donned the uniform and given really excellent service” and referencing the “very positive reputation” AGS enjoys internationally, the Commissioner accepts that the organisation has been embroiled in a significant number of controversial episodes.
instance, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) annual report for 2021 highlights a “sustained increase in the policing oversight body’s caseload” with a 12 per cent increase in public complaints made against AGS.
remarks: “I was asked, and I was happy to say yes.” Overall, in respect of his vision for the organisation, the Commissioner outlines an ambition to “maintain our strengths around our community focus and how responsive we are to local communities”.
“A complaint system is essential for ongoing confidence in the organisation,” says Harris. Accepting that the context of some complaints is grave, for others, he argues, there is an opportunity for the member involved, if not the wider organisation, to embark on a learning curve.
“We need to keep ahead of emerging crime trends. The big challenge for us and other police services is in respect of cybercrime which does not respect international boundaries. We, together with other offices, such as Europol and Interpol, need to use our scarce and finite resources in a far more coordinated way. That is a question of being there, being trusted partner, and cooperating in respect of that.”
“It is another form of feedback. Obviously, we would like to see complaints reducing, but in part, as the Minister said yesterday, it may be just the prominence of GSOC, but also the prominence that we have placed on proper behaviours by members of An Garda Síochána have encouraged people to come forward and report where they think those behaviours have fallen below standard.
“We know, as well, that not everything was as it should be. At times, things were very far from perfect, and we want to also acknowledge that and acknowledge that we have learned from those occasions, and want to keep moving forward,” he affirms
“That gives us plenty to work on and we want to be positive in our relationship with GSOC. We have our own anticorruption unit and are working internally as well, and we are not very far from implementing mandatory drug testing within the organisation. Even when we recruit, recruits will be subject to mandatory drug testing. There is a lot happening in that space,” he details.
Indeed, the current context of policing in Ireland is not without its challenges. For
Commenting on the two-year extensions to his contract, Harris succinctly
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Commenting on Garda discretion, a concept supported by gardaí of all ranks, and the perceived threat posed to it by procedure, Harris acknowledges its importance in policing. “Discretion is important because that is a means of still building and keeping a positive relationship with the public. Everything is not being treated as an absolute matter,” he begins, adding: “We have moved from being, in effect, an output, figures, and performance type regime to a far more outcomes [-based organisation].
Finally, Harris illustrates a desire for AGS to more reflective of the communities it serves. “Now, we are an organisation not just of Garda members, we also will have 4,000 Garda staff and that is another means by which we become more reflective of the society we serve. We are a big employer, we continue to recruit, there is still huge interest in joining An Garda Síochána, all of that is very positive. “We just want to make sure that we keep that positive reputation and with that, public confidence. Public confidence means information, it means reporting, and those are absolutely vital to us in terms of mission around preventing and detecting crime. Public confidence really is our stock value and that is an important determiner of how successful we are as a police service,” he concludes.
The future of policing As An Garda Síochána 100 years of policing report
celebrates its 100th anniversary, it is timely to consider what the future holds for policing, writes Shane Mohan, Partner and Head of Government and Public Services at Deloitte. Despite the turmoil in which it was founded, the challenges it successfully faced as it established itself as an unarmed force, through to more recent times with the threat of international terrorism, organised crime on a global scale and a rapidly changing political, social and technological landscape, An Garda Síochána has secured and maintained the backing and support of the overwhelming majority of the people it serves. It has consistently shown itself to be deeply rooted in our society and communities.
In celebrating its achievements and learning from the challenges of the past, An Garda Síochána is now preparing for the next 100 years. Like police and security services globally, the need for transformation is recognised to enable An Garda Síochána to build the capabilities, structures, ways of working, partnerships, and high performing culture necessary to meet the challenges of modern society. Deloitte’s global research into both the future of criminal justice and more particularly the future of policing provides insights into the trends impacting on policing globally, and the capabilities police services are building.
Global trends and their implications for policing Our research has identified a number of mega-trends which will significantly influence policing now and into the future, including: Demographic shifts and ongoing urbanisation: population movements, an ageing population, an increasingly multi-cultural society, increased urbanisation and associated social dynamics all present challenges for policing and the allocation of police resources. A globalised economy: the quicker, cheaper movement of goods and people also present opportunity for crime, be that the movement of illegal goods, or financial criminal activity targeted at businesses and individuals. Recent times events have also highlighted the importance of the security of critical national infrastructure and supply chains. As an economy highly dependent on international trade, a safe and secure society is particularly important for economic wellbeing in Ireland. Technological acceleration and data abundance: an increasing volume of
human activity now takes place over digital channels with a further proliferation in this trend over the course of the pandemic. As our lives and finances continue to shift online crime will mirror this. However, more positively, the use of digital technology, social media and data have proved very effective for police services globally in preventing and detecting crime. Geo-political events: international tensions, global health crises, climate change and increased focus on national identities and separatism all have the potential to lead to significant social disruption. The positive and negative effects and influence of social media on these events are well documented. Trust and transparency: Trust in government, and its institutions, is a critical challenge globally. Given the powers and role of police services in our society, they must be seen to act to the highest levels of trust, transparency, and integrity. Outside of formal oversight structures, police officers are under constant scrutiny with proliferation of video phones and social media.
Capabilities How police services address these and
other trends will be determined, among other things, by the capabilities they build. We have considered these capabilities under three lenses: workforce, digital transformation, and structures and collaboration.
Digital transformation capabilities: in a world where almost every crime can leave a digital footprint, or technology can otherwise facilitate prevention or detection, police services can harness digital technology to better enable them to do their jobs. These include: •
Citizen relationship management: everything from analytically optimising data from emergency calls through to the use of social media and other channels to engage with the public.
Workforce enablement: as the complexity of policing increases, police officers need the work tools to perform their jobs. Investment in technology to enable better case management, investigation management, and information and intelligence sharing are critical.
Data analytic capability: digitisation has led to vast amount of data being created. On one hand this is a significant challenge for police services: understanding, managing and appropriately accessing data. On the other hand, through the use of analytical tools, artificial intelligence and automation this data can be used to predict and track criminal activity, and prevent, detect and prosecute criminals.
Structures and collaboration: the final capability we consider is structures and
“Like police and security services globally, the need for transformation is recognised to enable An Garda Síochána to build the capabilities, structures, ways of working, partnerships, and high performing culture necessary to meet the challenges of modern society.” collaboration, including partnerships and innovation. How police services organise themselves both geographically and by competency, and how flexible and adaptable those structures are has a significant impact on effectiveness. Police services globally are also seeing the benefits of greater and more structured collaboration internally adapting a more ‘networked policing model’, with other polices services, other public bodies, academia, and the private sector. Our society and technology are advancing rapidly, and criminals have shown the ability to leverage and profit from this change. Innovation at all levels of policing is a critical capability for police services.
have brought different ways of working for police services. Developing new capabilities will take time, and the right sequencing of changes and investments to support the future of policing is important. Investments must be guided by a clear view of what the public value and need. With increased resources and capabilities, policing must be as clear as possible about its aspirations, priorities, and mission. For An Garda Síochána, that mission is to “keep people safe.”
Mobile working tools: police services globally have and continue to make great strides in enabling their officers and members to do their job in the field and reduce subsequent administration.
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Workforce capabilities: as with many public and private sector organisations, police services globally are considering the skills and knowledge required in the future. The emphasis is shifting from a focus on pure police officer number to much more sophisticated workforce planning which match mission and priorities, with demand data and workforce capabilities. Our research has indicated five areas of capability development among police services globally: citizen relationship management; workforce relationship management; relational, influencing and collaborative working capabilities; digital investigative capabilities; and data management and analytical skills.
T: 01 417 2200 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: deloitte.ie
Conclusion Accelerating technology and societal change is already creating an environment very different to the last century. Globally we have seen how embracing innovation, collaborating in new ways and advances in technology 103
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Policing legislative priorities Three major pieces of proposed legislation will consolidate efforts to reform policing in Ireland. eolas surveys the three and the progress they have made thus far. Garda Síochána (Powers) Bill The Garda Síochána (Powers) Bill was introduced by then-acting Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys TD in June 2021, representing a major effort on the part of the Government to modernise and update policing in Ireland, with police powers to be consolidated, targeted reforms to be introduced and new fundamental rights provisions to be included. The Bill is said to “have a strong focus on human rights”, for both the “rights of suspected or accused persons, as well as the human rights of all members of society”. Measures in the Bill include: the introduction of a single power of arrest, increasing the scope of Garda arrest powers, but making the powers “subject to conditions to ensure the arrest is necessary in particular circumstances”; the placing of the Garda caution on a statutory basis; the introduction of a statutory right for an accused to have a lawyer present at their interview; the introduction of new Garda powers to compel a person to provide electronic device passwords when executing a search warrant; a requirement for written records of stop and search incidents; the drawing up of statutory codes of practice for gardaí in using the Bill’s powers; and special measures for child suspects and suspects with impaired capacity. The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice issued its report on the pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill in June 2022, including 10 recommendations for amendments to the Bill. These recommendations include language clarifications, the inclusion of ethnicity in the recording of stop and searches, that a provision allowing senior Garda members to approve search warrants in urgent circumstances be removed, and that actions including sanctions are introduced in response to illegal searches in order to make gardaí aware of and compliant with their obligations.
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Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill The general scheme of the Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill was introduced by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD in April 2021. The Bill “provides for the most wide ranging and coherent reform of policing in a generation by improving the performance and accountability of our policing and security services”.
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Provisions included within the Bill include: the recognition that community safety is not the sole responsibility of gardaí and requires all State services working in tandem with local communities; the strengthening of independent oversight of gardaí through a new Policing and Community Safety Authority equipped with extra inspection powers; the expansion of the Garda Ombudsman’s remit and independence; the enhancement of internal governance with An Garda Síochána, with the Garda Commissioner becoming a ‘true CEO’, answerable to a new Garda Board; and the introduction of a new Independent Examiner of Security Legislation to strengthen oversight of national security. The proposed legislation seeks to reform policing based on the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, but its proposals have been variously criticised by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris, head of the Policing Authority Bob Collins, head of the Garda Inspectorate Mark Toland and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL). Chief among Harris’s criticisms were that the legislation would see a gradual “seeping away” of his authority as commissioner and lead to him spending “more time reporting and accounting to bodies than actually overseeing policing”. The ICCL stated its support for the oversight measures contained in the legislation but stated that the Bill should remove “all prosecutorial powers” from gardaí.
Chief among Harris’s criticisms were that the legislation would see a gradual “seeping away” of his authority as commissioner and lead to him spending “more time reporting and accounting to bodies than actually overseeing policing”. The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice published its pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill in June 2022, with 12 recommendations including that the accountability structures proposed be evaluated, “particularly in terms of the various bodies to whom the Commissioner must be accountable and the time it will take to Commissioner to account to these different bodies”, that the re-assignation of prosecutorial powers to a national prosecution service be prioritised, and that a comprehensive review of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission be undertaken.
Garda Síochána (Digital Recording) Bill Former acting Minister for Justice Humphreys published the general scheme of the Garda Síochána (Digital Recording) Bill in April 2021, with the legislation providing the legal basis for the use of body cams by gardaí, as well as extending the use of CCTV and number plate recognition technology. The Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland recommended that legislation be introduced to provide for the use of body-worn cameras by gardaí in order to “support their front-line duties in criminal investigations and the maintenance of public safety”. The cameras will “provide accurate depictions of events, which can influence the behaviours of both members of the public and also of members of An Garda Síochána”. The Committee published the report from its pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill in December 2021, where it recorded 12 recommendations, including ensuring that body cams and CCTV devices not use facial recognition technology and not be used to racially profile members of the public, that the Department of Justice refer codes of practice to both public consultation and the committee prior to observation, the removal of a provision allowing gardaí to approve temporary access to third-party CCTV live feeds without judicial oversight, and the implementation of a pilot scheme to trial the use of recording devices and body cams in order to test their effectiveness and conduct human rights and data protection impact assessments before a rollout at national level. 105
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100 Years of Keeping People Safe
Deputy Commissioner McMahon: Garda centenary an opportunity for reflection Deputy Commissioner for Policing and Security, Anne Marie McMahon, talks to Ciarán Galway about the opportunity for An Garda Síochána to reflect in its centenary year and its pursuit of continuous improvement. “An Garda Síochána has evolved into an organisation that we are all very proud of,” McMahon begins, adding: “The centenary is significant in that it not only offers us the opportunity to take stock of how far we have come but also to assess the values which have got us to this point, as well as ensuring that these are embedded in future service delivery, while acknowledging mistakes and using that learning as we endeavour to become a better police service.” Upon the foundation of An Garda Síochána in 1922, the first Garda Commissioner, Michael Staines, articulated an ethos, which McMahon explains, remains at the organisation’s core: “An Garda Síochána will succeed, not by force of arms or numbers, but on its moral authority as servants of the people.” Holding to this central ethos, even as the organisation has adapted and reformed to changing environments over the decades, McMahon believes, has ensured that An Garda Síochána retains one of the highest public trust levels for a police service in the world. This, she says, was emphasised during the Covid-19 pandemic when its front-facing and community-focused services became “an anchor” for communities and individuals across the country. Having first served as a garda in 1986, the Deputy Commissioner is well-placed to remark on the pace of change within the organisation. In 2020, McMahon was appointed Acting Deputy Commissioner and assigned to oversee Governance and Strategy before being formally appointed to the role – which also incorporated performance – the following year. In 2021, she was subsequently assigned the Policing and Security brief. 106
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Female representation Indeed, having prevented women from joining until 1959, An Garda Síochána now boasts one of the highest proportions of female police officers in Europe, at just under 30 per cent. McMahon is a personification of this change, occupying one of the two Deputy Commissioner roles in An Garda Síochána, both of which are currently held by females.
100 years of policing report
“The gender diversity that is now evident in the organisation did not materialise overnight. It is a result of more and more young females joining An Garda Síochána and going forward for promotion over the past 60 years. The female perspective is different, and it is important that we reflect that perspective in our units, in our management, including at strategic level,” she says. Highlighting that women now rightly occupy many senior positions in the organisation, as well as leading roles in specialist and operational units, McMahon asserts: “It is reflective of society and shows that we are leading the way when compared to our European counterparts.” Highlighting a recent recruitment campaign, for which 11,000 applications were received, McMahon says that a 40 per cent female applicant rate, “speaks to the diversity and evolution of the Guards”.
“The ultimate aim is for improvements to enable the service we provide to be better, more accessible, more robust, accountable and to ensure a community and human rights focus.” Technology Other significant patterns of change observed by McMahon include technology. While acknowledging that much work is still to be done in the digitalisation sphere, she says that relative to only a decade ago, incremental change has transformed the policing landscape. “Equally, our systems and processes have improved immensely. While I am not suggesting they are perfect, over time we have got better at implementing our own systems, improving governance, and changing dramatically and immeasurably our governance landscape,” she adds.
Multifaceted role With responsibility for policing and security, the Assistant Commissioners across the four regional boundaries – Southern, Eastern, North Western, and Dublin Metropolitan Region – are accountable to McMahon, as is the Garda National Crime and Security Intelligence Service; and the Organised and Serious Crime unit. Outlining the priorities of such a dynamic role, McMahon says: “The security of the State is always a top priority. We are in a fortunate position that our security situation is very stable, but we do not take that for granted, especially in the current international context, and so it is a pressure point we ensure we are on top of. “Organised crime is an ever-present and requires constant managing in our bid to stay ahead of the criminals. To do this we have forged strong relationships with our international partners, but that pandemic has brought around an increase in online and cybercrime, meaning we have had to pivot to meet that challenge by upskilling
our people and our technology.” 107
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However, McMahon maintains that community policing, retaining close contact with communities, and maintaining current high satisfaction levels remains the top priority. Stressing that relationships with communities requires constant nurturing and cultivation, she adds: “As we reflect on the centenary, amidst much change, the words of Michael Staines remain as relevant today as they did 100 years ago and something we hold up as a constant priority.”
Reform Community policing is central to the ongoing reform programme within An Garda Síochána, and McMahon says that the programme is inextricably linked to her remit of policing and security.
Garda Headquarters, Phoenix Park, Dublin.
Pre-Covid, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris announced the introduction of the Garda Operating Model, aiming to recruit more frontline gardaí and placing a greater emphasis on community policing. Citing the operating model as an example of the pervasive impact of reform, McMahon says: “With an enlargement of the regions, of the vision and a move from a geographical, district structure to a functionality structure, there is an impact on resources, on governance, on technology, and so the reform programme is reflected in everything we do on a day-to-day basis.”
Vision Looking ahead to the future and the significant challenges the organisation faces in the decades ahead. McMahon summarises: “The evolving nature of crime and criminality is always a challenge, and it is something we must always work to be ahead of because we know the impacts they have on communities and individuals. “For me, the most important thing for An Garda Síochána is that it continues to provide a service that supports and protects people. As Deputy Commissioner, it is important for me that we continue to do that consistently at a strategic level.” Concluding, the Deputy Commissioner adds: “This centenary year gives us an opportunity to not only look back but to look forward as well. We want to ensure that in those areas where we have served well, we carry those forward and seek to evolve and grow them with the appropriate resources, to deliver a service that meets the needs of the people.”
Anne Marie McMahon Deputy Commissioner, Policing and Security, Anne Marie McMahon is a County Clare native and joined An Garda Síochána in 1986. Following a mission with the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), she was promoted to Sergeant in 1995, originally serving as instructor at the Student Probationer School, Garda College before serving as Operational/Community Policing Sergeant in Henry Street District, Limerick city, between 1997 and 2002. Between 2002 and 2016 she gained successive promotions, moving from Inspector through to Superintendent, Chief Superintendent and Assistant Commissioner. In 2020, McMahon was appointed Acting Deputy Commissioner and assigned Governance and Strategy before being formally appointed a year later and assigned Strategy, Governance and Performance. She took up her current post as Deputy Commissioner in February 2021. 108
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Total number of Garda personnel: 17,651
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An Garda Síochána: Key figures Total number1 of gardaí: 14,294
Total number1 of Garda civilian staff: 3,357
Total number2 of Garda reserves: 405
Total number2 of vehicles (including cars, vans, motorcycles, and 4X4s) in the Garda fleet: 3,176
Total number4 of mobility devices for front-line gardaí: 8,839
1. As of 30 April 2022
3. As of 13 May 2022
2. As of 31 March 2022
4. As of 24 March 2022
Total number3 of Garda stations: 569
Source: Garda Press Office 109
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‘Sustained increase’ in GSOC workload The annual report for 2021 by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) shows a “sustained increase in the policing oversight body’s caseload” with a 12 per cent increase in complaints received from the public and a 40 per cent increase in referrals from An Garda Síochána following incidents of death or serious harm. The report, GSOC in Transition, provides an overview of the work undertaken by the ombudsman during 2021, showing the 12 per cent increase in the volume of complaints from the public, the increase of 40 per cent in referrals by gardaí following incidents of death or serious harm, and a 21 per cent increase in the volume of cases closed in 2021. GSOC made 60 findings of breaches of discipline by members of An Garda Síochána during 2021, which resulted in the imposition of sanctions by the Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. Five criminal cases arising from GSOC investigations were decided in court in 2021, involving charges of sexual assault, assault, and theft; there were also 13 charges directed for prosecution by the Director of Public Prosecutions arising from GSOC investigations in 2021, with charges including sexual offences, assault, breaches of the Road Traffic Acts, and the provision of false information. Overall, 2,189 complaints were opened by GSOC in 2021, containing 3,760 allegations; 61 per cent of these were ruled admissible. 557 criminal and 752 non-criminal investigations were opened, with 59 referrals from An Garda Síochána of matters where “it appeared ‘the conduct of a member of the Garda Síochána may have resulted in the death of or serious harm to a person’”. 2,078 complaints were closed, a 21 per cent increase, and 13 public interest investigations, undertaken in the absence of a complaint or referral from the Commissioner, were opened. 20 protected disclosures were also received, and 21 files were sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions. The report also casts an eye to the future of GSOC and the reforms legislated for in the Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill. To prepare for the expansion of its powers, GSOC established a cross organisational transition project group “to ensure that the organisation builds its capacity to undertake the role envisaged in the draft legislation”. GSOC published its observations on the general scheme of the Bill in December 2021, in which it stated that it welcomes the “draft legislation’s proposals for the expansion and restructuring of its investigatory powers, but stress the importance of independence, adequate resourcing, and Garda cooperation”.
Healthcare is too important to stay the same
Healthcare is too important to stay the same
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD: Leveraging digital health gains Minister Stephen Donnelly TD reflects on the acceleration of digital health solutions during the pandemic, the challenges of the cyberattack on the HSE and how the digital health gains from the pandemic can be leveraged to deliver on Sláintecare’s vision of integrated care. The impact of Covid-19 was unprecedented for health services internationally, with devastating impacts for many individuals and families. This tremendous challenge required immediate responses. In many cases, this triggered a need to develop, at pace, innovative digital solutions which created the opportunity to demonstrate the value of investing in technology to support change. In preparation for the vaccination programme, a national Covid Vaccination System (CoVax) was developed from scratch to enable people to register for the vaccine. The system supported vaccination roll-out and data capture required to build vaccination records and creation of digital covid certificates, required under EU regulations. Earlier in the pandemic the Covid Care Tracker was developed to support the management of patients from testing through to contact tracing. Innovations such as the Covid Tracker App were developed and secured unprecedented uptake by 112
citizens. The app was developed in close collaboration with other countries and leveraged the skills and knowledge of teams working across government departments, the Office of the Government CIO, the HSE, and indigenous Irish tech companies. The Covid-19 Data Hub, which complemented contact tracing, was also developed to collate data and facilitate modelling and reporting on the spread of Covid-19. Therefore, the use of digital solutions, and the value of data, was clearly demonstrated. We were also able to harness existing platforms to support health services during the pandemic. The use of eReferrals was expanded to enable GPs and assessment centres to order Covid tests electronically. Regulations were introduced to facilitate paperless prescribing, thereby reducing visits to GP practices for routine repeat prescriptions. Similarly, teleconsultations and remote monitoring of patients became common.
Healthcare is too important to stay the same
The pandemic also saw collaboration between agencies on the national vaccination programme and the implementation of EU Digital Covid Certificates (EU DCC). The Department of Health led out on policy development for EU DCC’s and established a service centre to facilitate citizen engagement which made use of innovative digital channels to enhance customer service. We must continue to progress digital health, leveraging these gains to support Sláintecare’s vision of providing universal access to integrated care for everyone in Ireland. Integrated care for patients as they transition across the various care settings will lead to safer, efficient, and effective healthcare.
The CONTI cyberattack: One year on The CONTI Ransomware attack on the HSE of 14th May 2021 resulted in almost all ICT systems, applications, and communications networks which support the delivery of health and social care services, being taken offline. Healthcare is a target for cybercrime, worldwide, due to the high value of health data and the criticality of health services. One year on, much progress has been made in remediating the damage, through increasing investment in cyber resilience. Improvements in foundational infrastructure, the implementation of recommendations from the PwC report, enhanced monitoring and cyber security operations have all contributed to improving the performance and responsiveness of ICT systems within the health service. However, the global challenge for all organisations, not just healthcare organisations, is in recruiting very scarce cyber security talent.
“We are also focused on developing a Digital Healthcare Strategy to deliver better health outcomes enabled by seamless, safe, secure and connected digital health services and technologies.” Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD
The road ahead Covid-19 has also highlighted our strengths, including our capacity to deploy innovative digital solutions at pace and the resilience, professionalism, courage and innovative spirit of our healthcare workers. The pandemic taught us, out of necessity, how to bring some of our health services to the patient. We leveraged technology and recognised the importance of managed access to health and care data to do this. Looking ahead, the next decade will see ageing populations and an increased burden of chronic illness. We now need to plan an adequate response to the population’s care needs. Sláintecare sets out the vision for integrated care models that aim to generate health and social care efficiencies through the defragmentation of care, promotion of collaboration and continuity of care across settings. We must adopt patient-centred models and prioritise preventive models. This means reforming how care is currently organised and provided to ensure quality and sustainability. The National Digital Strategy Harnessing Digital: The Digital Ireland Framework provides an overarching framework to digitalisation across the economy and society, including healthcare. Aligned to this national strategy, we have invested and will continue to invest in cyber resilience. My department is bringing forward the Health Information Bill to ensure that Ireland has a fit for purpose national health information system that enhances patient care and treatment and supports better planning and delivery of health services. We are also focused on developing a Digital Healthcare Strategy to deliver better health outcomes enabled by seamless, safe, secure and connected digital health services and technologies. Our vision will be anchored in key themes such as digitally empowered and engaged patients, digitally secure foundations, digital enablement of workforce and workplace and connected data-driven services and insights. We have now begun to engage our many stakeholders to bring forward this vision to harness digital, eHealth and modern technologies to allow for a paradigm shift in how we deliver healthcare and wellbeing services in the future. 113
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Closing the gap: Trends in digital transformation strategy
How are more digitally advanced health systems looking to close the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ for care providers in their networks? eolas asks Cerner’s VP of International Business Development Amanda Green, and Cerner Ireland Country Manager, David Clancy, for
insights from their international client base.
What have you seen as the major shifts health systems strategy as they look to procure enablers such as electronic patient records and health information exchange products?
it’s been the somewhere in between,
ambition can lead to poor value, or
We’ve seen it all in the past 15 years, from building out small departmental electronic patient records or solutions, to national programmes looking to digitise entire countries. More recently though
short-term throwaway investments, while
with a shift towards procurements across health networks.
And why is that? Amanda Green Transforming healthcare isn’t easy and clients have learned what works well, and how to leverage that. It’s perhaps a generalisation but having too small an
going too large can lead to no return at all. Instead, health systems are increasingly looking to build on their successes to date.
Healthcare is too important to stay the same
How does this manifest in real terms? Amanda Green
Take the UK for example. When hospital groups in the NHS seek funding for digital programmes, they are strongly encouraged to learn and borrow from success stories in their region, especially where they are sharing patient care and clinicians. They place a greater emphasis on what’s worked well and who has delivered it. The hospitals that have delivered the success, and the teams that have become the experts, become one of the first ports of call when new sites look for investment. David Clancy Not everyone likes learning from their neighbours, though. Amanda Green This is less and less tolerated. Funding bodies will pointedly ask hospitals or other applicants if they have visited local success stories, and if not, why not. For Cerner’s part, if a prospective new client shows reluctance to engage with the successes on their doorstep, then it’s not a good sign that we are the right partners. David Clancy That’s not surprising given that the major success stories we read about improving health outcomes and reducing costs have collaboration as a key theme. Amanda Green
For hospitals that do not have a modern digital infrastructure, funding bodies are encouraging them to piggy-back on what has been delivered in their region. For
Does this mean companies like Cerner have to offer different solutions? Amanda Green Yes, it’s an enhanced product mix, with our own products and integrating with what is already there. You have the traditional clinical EPR infrastructure, but on top of that place a greater emphasis on sharing information outside of the hospital campus. Clients want to spend less time on the acute hospital EPR so they take what’s already proven in their region. This gives them more time to focus on the patient journey and involving other care venues in their project, like GPs and other community care for example. David Clancy And patients, of course. It’s been exciting locally to recently start conversations with clients on where and how to incorporate the patient feedback into their care, regardless of where they are. This was far further down the agenda only a couple of years ago even though the technology existed. We can move forward with these digitally mature
clients at pace as they have the EPR fundamentals sorted, and don’t want to start from scratch again.
What does this mean for Ireland do you think? David Clancy The appetite and need for digitalenabled change are there, and It’s positive to see the HSE conducting market soundings for certain related products and services, for example the community electronic patient record programmes and shared care record programmes. These must succeed, and to Amanda’s earlier points, perhaps a regional or group approach would be the most efficient and effective approach to these programmes. Amanda Green Yes, especially if you have a strong ‘anchor’ in the region with experience of digital deployment, which allows other paper-heavy healthcare providers level up far more quicky than if starting from a blank sheet. David Clancy
Exactly. Funding bodies are increasingly asking not just how you are going to improve outcomes for your own site, but for the community that you serve. As a result, we’re seeing a shift from single site procurements, to ‘hub and spoke’ models, with regional healthcare providers with existing relationships coming together to improve healthcare delivery and investing in line with that model. It’s working too. For example, in northern England, the Great Northern Care Record programme brought together several acute hospitals, over 400 GP practices, and 200 community care providers to connect existing venues of care and collect and share relevant care information for a patient population of 3.6 million people.
example, in the NHS, Imperial College Trust in London joined forces with Chelsea and Westminster to share an instance of Cerner’s EHR, with both London North West University Trust and the Hillingdon Hospitals Trust additionally joining in 2021. The four organisations serve 2.4 million people and can now provide seamless care for patients and for caregivers as they move between facilities in the region.
Almost anything is better than paper!
E: email@example.com W: www.cerner.com/ie Twitter: @CernerIrl
Healthcare is too important to stay the same
Martin Curley: ‘Confidence, courage, and conviction’ Ciarán Galway sits down with the HSE’s Head of Digital Transformation and Open Innovation, Martin Curley, who was recently named as one of the world’s top 10 health influential leaders, to discuss Ireland’s digital progress, supranormal returns on innovation, and constructing an unprecedented healthcare system. Hitherto, Ireland has been digital health laggard. Despite being a top 12 economy, with the top 10 MedTech companies, top 10 pharma companies, and top 10 tech companies, Ireland is ranked 80th – one place behind Georgia and one place ahead of Ukraine – in the CEOWORLD Magazine Health Care Index, which rates healthcare systems relative to factors that contribute to overall health. However, launched in February 2022 and aligned with the EU Digital Compass, Harnessing Digital: The Digital Ireland Framework, the new national digital strategy, aims to ensure “widespread access and use of inclusive digital public services”, with 90 per cent of public services to be consumed online by 2030. Likewise, the EU Digital Compass indicates that “the ability for European citizens to access, and control access to, their electronic health records (EHR) across the EU should be greatly improved by 2030”. If implemented, Ireland would be the first country to introduce an interoperable EHR that is patient centric. “It is about confidence, courage, and conviction. Currently, we are testing it in multiple living labs. We can save and improve many lives if we just decide to do it,” Curley asserts, adding: “The components exist. There is an emergent architecture that must now be tested. Not only can we transform our own health but there is a potential to sell these solutions internationally. Indeed, if we were to adopt a stretch goal, we could potentially double the GDP impact of digital health over a five- or six-year period.” 116
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“This is going to be a radical and dramatic change. Ireland can deliver, but it will require confidence, courage, and conviction.” Martin Curley, Head of Digital Transformation and healthtech report
Open Innovation, HSE Laggard to leader Emphasising recent progress, the HSE’s Head of Digital Transformation and Open Innovation specifically refers to the introduction of automated respiratory rate measurement as a standard of care for respiratory patients across 23 hospitals, with a new living lab within the community set to be announced. Similarly, while it had been a laggard in telehealth, the latest OECD research now ranks Ireland fifth in the world. “We have been able to leap ahead,” remarks Curley, adding: “We are now deploying vital signs automation into 20 hospital wards, putting us into a leadership position.” Meanwhile, heart failure is the single greatest cause of mortality in the world. Indeed, the one-year mortality rate after heart failure diagnosis is 20 per cent. In response, the Digital Transformation and Open Innovation team has built a capability maturity framework to examine each of breakthrough technologies available in an attempt to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. “In terms of cardiovascular, working with Ken McDonald and Matt Barrett, we have put together a capability maturity framework for cardiovascular and are poised to jump from laggard to leader,” he projects. If successful, this capability maturity framework will then be applied to respiratory disease and diabetes. Led by Centric Health and Roche Diagnostics Partner, the Heartcare at Home Living Lab has delivered a 10X reduction in hospitalisation rate, almost continuous care, high levels of patient satisfaction, and safety all at a price point which is about 2.5X cheaper than the current service. In introducing radical technology, Curley insists, there are three stages. “First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident,” he says, paraphrasing a statement on truth, often misattributed to German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. “I really think we can transform the healthcare of everyone in Ireland making it affordable and accessible to everybody,” he adds.
10X technologies To achieve this, the Digital Transformation team recommends the implementation of a series of ten 10X innovations. Amid a proliferation of 10X technologies, in an industry as information intensive as healthcare, allied with exponential innovation methodology – or Open Innovation 2.0 – there are super normal or 10X returns. Indeed, this explanation is now known as Curley’s Law. “The idea of this new law is that we are seeing 10X returns across our quadruple aim. This means improvements in quality of care; quality of life; cost reduction; and the clinician/patient experience,” Curley explains. “This is timely because incremental innovation is no longer good enough. Systems are failing and demands are increasing. However, if we can deploy these exponential solutions, the point of care is going to move from the hospital to the home and when you have technologies like this… you get a remarkable pattern. “What we are observing with the vital signs automation solution, for example, is that it is not only detecting patients deteriorating earlier, but it is increasing productivity by taking the cognitive load off the nurses, reducing the average length of
Healthcare is too important to stay the same
hospitalisation, increasing acute capacity at 1/100 the cost of building new capacity, and the returns are spectacular. The internal rate of return is 1,100 per cent and the payback period is under 8 weeks.”
According to McKinsey and Company, the single greatest opportunity for healthcare improvement is lifestyle. Consequently, a swing to wellness management and protection is the very first of the series of 10X innovations recommended by Curley and his team. “We put together a remarkable living lab [Health Elevator] in conjunction with Careplus Pharmacies, within which we undertook rapid health assessments in 10 minutes. We then provisioned patients with personal electronic health records and within 24 hours they had a plain English report indicating whether they were healthy or unhealthy. “We have also been working with some vendors, but initially with Fitbit, to provision them with a subscription to Fitbit Premium. The overarching principle is that we can scan people, provide them with a personal electronic health record, and then give them devices and tools to help them stay healthier. We believe that we can perform that rapid health assessment for the price of a cup of coffee, per patient, per year.” Simultaneously, Curley believes that the HSE can provide the electronic health record for the price of a cup of coffee, per patient, per year. “We now have a real solution which is about to be introduced to a living lab of 500 patients across six CarePlus pharmacies. We think this could become the centre of the architecture for our new digital health system. Indeed, we are building a digital health platform onto which we are integrating many of Irish vendors, as well as several UK vendors also. “We believe a full preventative, proactive and personalised solution for wellness management and maintenance including digital therapeutics can be provided to Irish citizens for about the cost of a PCR, delivering at least 10X the value,” he explains.
Barriers While there has been an explosion in digital health solutions, several barriers continue to hinder Ireland’s digital health journey. The first, identified by Curley, is education. “We recognise that digital health is changing at such a rate that we must provide continuous information. Therefore, education is key,” he comments. Consequently, the Digital Transformation team established a MSc in digital health
“Two years into what is a digital health decade, we are trying to architect and engineer a healthcare system that has never existed before.” 118
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transformation, delivered by the University of Limerick in conjunction with the seven other Irish Universities, and accelerated the Digital Futures in Healthcare Diploma in collaboration with Dell.
“Already, we are starting to see big bang adoption because the benefits are so great that organisations and individuals are adopting it. Once you show the solution people get behind it.”
Open Innovation 2.0 Reflecting on the development of overarching digital health strategies and referencing his own experience in liaising with agencies, patient associations, clinicians, the Irish College of General Practitioners, the Health Information and Quality Authority, and the unions, Curley stresses the importance of collaboration between stakeholders from across the quadruple helix. “With Open Innovation 2.0, the whole idea is you have intensive networking in trusted relationships towards a shared vision, which is Ireland’s Digital Health Strategy and Action Plan – Stay Left, Shift Left, 10X – then we talk about shared value and the value is better wellbeing, better welfare, and wealth. “The economy of mutuality means moving away from the primacy of shareholder value to value for everybody in the ecosystem. The beauty of Open Innovation 2.0 is that it defined by shared value and working together to create that shared value.”
Previously, there was a predominant clinical focus on system design. In January 2022, however, the Irish Digital Health Leadership Steering Group approved the 10 key principles underpinning the Ireland Digital Health Transformation Strategy, the first of which is the leapfrog principle. The objective of the Digital Health Transformation Strategy is a transformation from a European digital health laggard to a European digital health leader by 2025, meaning that Ireland will leapfrog from having a primarily paper-, presence-, and acutecentred healthcare system to one that is digital-, patient-, and home/communitycentred. This will require assertive leadership and clinical governance. “What we are doing in Ireland is a brilliant example of what Harvard Business Review calls a ‘high-impact coalition’. We are undertaking a major societal programme that no one agency can deliver on its own and everybody aligns around that. Open Innovation 2.0 advocates for these grand coalitions and we have built this steering group to oversee, create the momentum and eliminate the barriers,” Curley asserts. “To our knowledge, this has not been done anywhere else in the world. It is going to be a serious heavy lift, but it is going to deliver a breakthrough and Ireland could be a global exemplar. We have a great shot at a genuine revolution that will transform healthcare.”
Characterised as a ‘big bang disruption’, the adoption curve for disruptive technologies accelerated during the Covid crisis. In a period of two months, the Digital Transformation team delivered 10 new disruptive innovations.
Application of the Open Innovation 2.0 paradigm is set to have a significant impact on patients and clinicians alike. “We are moving to an accountable care ecosystem,” Curley outlines, “By taking the right actions for the right reasons, there is equitable value creation. For example, by involving patients in system design and in our living labs, as well as
“By the end of the first week of Covid arriving in Ireland, we were remotely monitoring Covid-19 patients. During the first weekend, we were undertaking respiratory monitoring of Covid patients in Beaumont Hospital with Professor Richard Costello, finding that we could get up to 12-hours’ notice of a patient desaturating.
“Most notable was the introduction of the ability to send prescriptions electronically. Several people have described this as the biggest digital innovation in Irish healthcare in 20 years. It took five people with a plan. On day one, 100 prescriptions were sent. On day two, between 800 and 900 were sent. And on day three, it was 20,000.
Next to education, culture is the single most significant challenge to digital transformation in healthcare. “People feel threatened,” Curley asserts, “because this is going to be a radical and dramatic change. Ireland can deliver, but it will require confidence, courage, and conviction. We just need political decisiveness to say we are going to do it.
collaborating with companies and clinicians, we develop the solutions that give the best outcomes, the best quality of life, and the lowest cost. This is win, win, win.”
“Other innovations include the adoption of video enabled care by hospitals and GPs. It was a massive catalyst we now have 2025 capability in 2022. But we still have a lot more to do. With confidence, courage, and conviction, we can do this.”
Health 4.0 Defining the Health 4.0 concept, the HSE Head of Digital Transformation and Open Innovation explains that it is simply the principles of Industry 4.0 applied to healthcare. “The one addition is you have the empowered patient at the centre, taking responsibility for their healthcare,” he adds. Stay Left, Shift Left identifies at least six paradigms that are in simultaneous flux, transitioning from the clinician to the patient, and from reactive to proactive healthcare. Outlining his vision for the future of healthcare in Ireland, Curley believes that individuals and organisations across the quadruple helix are beginning to acknowledge the substantive digital health developments in Ireland. “In Ireland and among our international partners, we have a unique collective of companies motivated around personal contribution to drive change. It is about taking responsibility, showing leadership, and delivering but it requires a collective effort. We have around 200 organisations in the ecosystem, with whom we have very high trust relationships. “Two years into what is a digital health decade, we are trying to architect and engineer a healthcare system that has never existed before. I would be really hopeful that in just a handful of years, many more people will be living longer, we will be saving more lives, and patients will experience less hospitalisation. That is my sole motivation,” he concludes. 119
Healthcare is too important to stay the same
Moving quicky to population health management: A repeatable case study for Ireland
As Ireland considers its strategy to implement Regional Health Areas, Community Healthcare Networks and achieve Sláintecare’s goals, this case study looks at how care providers across North London partnered with Cerner to provide better care for their 1.7 million population. Advertorial
North Central London Integrated Care System (NCL ICS) brings together a partnership of local health and care organisations and local councils to join up the provision of care and implement ways to improve health outcomes for residents, tackling the inequalities that currently exist. Following the publication of the NHS Long Term Plan in January 2019, North London Partners (NLP) was formed from the community of providers within the ICS, with a mission to drive integration of health and social care. This would enable population health management (PHM) across all the 120
health and care providers within the five boroughs and the 1.68 million people of north central London. Cerner was selected as the technology partner to assist NLP in the goal of moving away from the traditional focus on reactive care to a proactive model of care.
NLP’s background in population health NLP is using the Cerner suite of population health management tools to
Healthcare is too important to stay the same
help bring together and normalise data from multiple systems across the network to create an integrated, longitudinal health and care record for each of NLP’s patients. This data is being used to develop new case-finding tools, analytics and registries to identify unwarranted variation and drive goldstandard care. These tools provide insights to frontline health and care professionals, and care teams at all levels of the system, with the information subsequently used for effective targeting of interventions for individuals and populations. Currently, there are more than 1,800 health and care professionals from across north London set up as users, with more than 500 already using the analytics tool available within the platform.
The planning, collaboration and relationships already in place in support of the partnership had the benefit of enabling a more rapid and agile response once the Covid-19 pandemic hit. While the wider national effort in meeting the Covid-19 challenge focused on reaction and response to treating the infected with critical care capacity, NLP also sought to establish a proactive community-based response. In planning for this, NLP defined its priorities as: Providing rapid discharge for those requiring adult social care at a far greater scale and pace than ever before. Rapid two-hourly discharge turnarounds were enabled through sharing patient-level hospital data with GPs and social care workers.
Protecting and supporting large numbers of people who were shielding across local authorities and NHS teams (this equated to about 45,000 people). The tools helped identify them and assist with getting professional support and food packages out to the vulnerable categories at a geographical level. GP practices, community and mental health providers were given access to filterable lists of registered individuals based upon the shielded lists generated by NHS Digital.
Protecting frontline staff who were going into people’s homes where they had suspected or confirmed Covid-19. GPs, social care workers,
Ensuring that teams were systematically and rapidly notified when their patients/clients had been admitted to hospital or had sadly died, to help frontline health and care teams most effectively plan and deliver care.
This level of patient information was augmented by the OneLondon shared care record programme where Cerner health information exchange (HIE) technology was implemented to connect HIEs across London, including north central London’s exchange. This programme provides real-time access to the healthcare data of London’s nine million citizens, from multiple health information systems used in acute, community, mental health, and primary care. Data is patient-matched and presented back to the care provider as a single and comprehensive snapshot of each individual’s journey through the system.
Integrated care as business as usual Beyond the Covid-19 initial response, work commenced with the onboarding of data across NLP, enabling care teams to focus on key population health priorities for their individual patients, clients and the wider communities they care. This included the development of flu and Covid vaccination analytics using HealtheIntent® to proactively support GP practices, PCNs, boroughs and the wider system in driving vaccination uptake, particularly among the most at-
risk groups within the eligible cohorts, with a focus on equity across different communities. Additional whole-life registries that have been designed and implemented include health checks for adults with serious mental illness, care quality for those living with and beyond cancer, learning disabilities, and dementia. This will facilitate further collaboration and new working practices between organisations within the NCL health economy to support population health improvements. Population health management will remain at the heart of integrated care systems and regional population health systems far into the future. The ability to gain clearer insights into how people live, work and play within a place or neighbourhood, how this shapes health and wellbeing, and what can be done to improve outcomes will be core to the success of ICSs. It is this insight that helps to shape the services and support of the future. Integrating care in Ireland: Cerner has worldwide experience of partnering with clients to deliver integrated care systems. We look forward to engaging with the acute, community and wider care providers – both public and private – over the coming years.
and wider community health and care teams working within community trusts were provided with a list of at-risk patients within their populations.
Adapting and accelerating through the pandemic
“Population health management will remain at the heart of integrated care systems and regional population health systems far into the future. The ability to gain clearer insights into how people live, work and play within a place or neighbourhood, how this shapes health and wellbeing, and what can be done to improve outcomes will be core to the success of ICSs.”
E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.cerner.com/ie Twitter: @CernerIrl
Healthcare is too important to stay the same
Post-pandemic eHealth The Covid-19 pandemic provided the catalyst for the rapid introduction of many new health technology features, but a greater role of health information systems and data infrastructures is required to enable responsiveness to increased healthcare use and expenditures.
While the establishment of eHealth Ireland has led to many improvements, significant gaps in health information systems and data infrastructure requires considerable investment and further advancements, an ESRI study has found. Examining the developments in healthcare information systems in Ireland and internationally, the ESRI research outlines the key tools of individual health identifiers (IHIs) and electronic health records (EHRs) as policy ambitions yet to be implemented at a national scale, but which are “key goals of the Irish healthcare system”. The research estimates that in 2021, less than 0.8 per cent of the public health budget was spent on eHealth and health technologies, lower than most peer countries, despite the recognisable benefit of an advent of new health technology in dealing with Covid-19. While Covid highlighted deficiencies in the Irish health data landscape, mainly for decision-making to provide rapid responses at the onset of the pandemic, it also served to hasten the increased
adoption of some pre-existing eHealth tools such as e-prescribing and ereferrals. Additionally, it has spurred the advent of new technologies, including the cloudbased lake platform to collect and collate Covid-19 data, and the Covid Care Tracker, which became vital features of the pandemic response. Highlighting that an individual health identifier (IHI) was rolled out through national programmes such as the Covid vaccination programme, the ESRI study says: “Further building upon and strengthening these improvements and successes will be required to continue to navigate the course of the pandemic and to meet the healthcare challenges of the post-pandemic era.” In comparing a range of international eHealth evidence in other countries, the ESRI pinpoints Scotland as a useful template for developing Ireland’s health information system within the public health system. The study highlights that Scotland’s Community Health Index (CHI), a mandated unique patient identifier, is the “fulcrum” for health information system development.
“The available evidence indicates that an integrated national electronic health record is a key enabler of the collection, secure storage and confidential communication of health information from disparate settings within a health system,” the report states. However, it adds that while big data, electronic health records and individual health indicators are important, of equal importance to a modern health information system is interoperability, enabling the different systems across the health system to communicate and integrate with each other. The study summarised six policy recommendations, outlined below. Highlighting the pandemic’s role in identifying gaps in Ireland’s health information systems, increasing adoption of existing eHealth technologies, and fostering new technology innovations, the research concludes: “Further building upon and strengthening these improvements and successes will be required to continue to navigate the course of the pandemic and to meet the healthcare challenges of the post-pandemic era.”
Policy recommendations 1
Develop a modern HIS based on national IHIs and EHRs that spans services and the public and private systems.
A robust, structured and rigorous health data infrastructure that captures data from public and private providers to allow for resource, capacity and workforce planning.
Continue investment in current and capital funding needed for HIS in Ireland. Replacement of antiquated healthcare technologies with devices that afford appropriate modern capabilities and functions.
Ensure privacy protections for data subjects and cybersecurity provisions. This process should be transparent and well communicated to the public.
Support digital health literacy and capability among older people, those in rural areas, and those in lower socioeconomic groups.
Train the healthcare workforce in the use of new technologies and eHealth.
Improving patient safety by ‘designing-in’ traceability standards healthtech report
identify a recalled batch – BKO123 – does the human eye see this as a zero or the letter O when manually recording the data in the first instance?
Safer, more efficient care starts with a simple scan
The learnings from Covid and other implementations are demonstrating the importance of laying the foundations for unique identification and traceability to ensure safer, more efficient care, writes Siobhain Duggan, Director of Innovation and Healthcare, GS1 Ireland. Safer systems: Designing-in traceability standards
The pandemic has accelerated the development and adoption of ehealth technologies and there are several excellent examples of innovation and collaboration where teams from multiple organisations came together to design a solution to a problem. We experienced this ourselves at GS1 Ireland when we collaborated with the HSE’s National Immunisation Office to implement TrackVax, enabling the tracking of the Covid-19 vaccine in the central vaccination clinics (CVCs).
When unique identifiers and structured data are in use then it is much easier to link systems as there are common data fields in both systems. For example, a clinician scans a patient barcode: when standards are used the system will recognise “I am a patient” and add the patient identifier into the correct field in the system. This ensures that the data is captured accurately and there is no risk that a staff (or other) identifier is put into a patient field or vice versa.
As healthcare systems and processes are being digitised, it is key that data standards are ‘designed-in’ from the start. At its heart GS1 is about unique identification, encoding barcodes with structured, standardised data and using this to enable traceability. These three ingredients are fundamental to designing ehealth solutions that are safe, future proofed, and interoperable.
About GS1 Ireland GS1 is the international standards and licensing organisation for globally unique identification and barcoding that enables the traceability of every product, person, place, asset and more. GS1 supports more than two million public and private sector organisations worldwide.
For more information please contact: Siobhain Duggan Director of Innovation and Healthcare T: 01 208 0660 E: email@example.com W: www.gs1ie.org/healthcare
Digital transformation: The need for interoperability
Removing paper-based systems and processes, and using a simple scan of GS1 standard barcodes to cross check and capture patient data reduces, the risk of medical error, the time to carry out administrative tasks, and returns time to front line staff to concentrate on patient care. Regulations for the standardised identification of medical devices and pharmaceuticals are in place and there is a real opportunity now to standardise and design-in traceability standards in our healthcare systems.
Real-time, accurate, meaningful data Systems with traceability standards ‘designed-in’ have much better data quality as the barcode scan captures all the data real-time at multiple stages. A barcode scan is much more reliable; data entry errors can cause unintended consequences when later interrogating data. For example, when trying to 123
Healthcare is too important to stay the same
A guide to Health 4.0 healthtech report
Health 4.0 is a new concept that springs from Industry 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution. The concept is based on the use of smart machines collating and analysing large amounts of data in order to make decisions without human involvement. “Health 4.0 is really the principles of Industry 4.0 applied to healthcare, but with one addition; the empowered patient is very much at the centre, taking co-responsibility for their healthcare,” Martin Curley, Director of the Digital Transformation and Open Innovation at the Health Service Executive tells eolas.
data, Internet of Things, wireless internet, 5G, cryptography, augmented reality, etc) to improve healthcare and create new and innovative visions for the healthcare sector whereby patients are given better, more value-added and cost-effective healthcare that has improved in terms of both efficacy and efficiency.
“Rather than Healthcare 4.0, it is Health 4.0. As one of our top 10 principles… What we identify in our Stay Left, Shift Left paper is at least six paradigms that are changing at the same time, from the clinician to the patient, from reactive healthcare to proactive healthcare, from curing to preventative etcetera.”
While healthcare is one of the sectors in which Industry 4.0 is expected to achieve some of its more notable results, the industry is already more computerised than in previous decades, with technologies such as x-rays and magnetic resonance imaging being replaced by computed tomography and ultrasound scans, along with electronic medical data.
Stay Left, Shift Left commits to moving Ireland “towards a healthcare system where the primary improvements in life expectancy and health outcomes will be driven by digital technology and data driven care and innovation” through Health 4.0. Health 4.0 refers to the use of Industry 4.0 technologies (cloud computing, big
The Covid-19 pandemic has also reemphasised the need for the deliverance of healthcare within local communities, and this is one of the innovations offered by Health 4.0. Telehealth systems now allow for remote patient monitoring, with
providers now beginning to provide software and solutions that connect patients and doctors and record the patient’s medical data at the same time, such as wearable devices. Such technologies and more basic ones like laptops and smartphones also allow for the remote delivery of health services such as patient education and involvement and real-time telehealth appointments as a partial replacement for in-person doctor-patient visits. Advances in digital healthcare technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, 3D printing, robots and nanotechnology are changing healthcare and the sector. Positive examples have been seen elsewhere, with a recently developed AI-powered algorithm for breast cancer shown to outperform human radiologists in identifying the disease by 11.5 per cent when tested in the UK and the US, again showing the potential for improvement in healthcare brought by Health 4.0.
Pexip: Powering the best-in-class telehealth solutions with patients, with no need to buy additional hardware or tools.” The video platform integrates with existing workflows and tools, so it fits seamlessly into daily schedules. This means that providers can also join using the technologies they already have such as telehealth carts, video conferencing systems, Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet.
is helping to transform the way care is given through its unique approach to simple and interoperable video solutions for healthcare organisations. “Demand for telehealth solutions has increased considerably over recent years, due the pandemic, in particular for telehealth consultations,” explains Leighton Hughes, Managing Director, Pexip UK and Ireland. “During this time healthcare sector has experienced great success through the implementation of integrated video solutions to enhance their existing services, tools, and workflows as well as improving user experience.”
Easy for patients
With a firm focus on data security and data sovereignty, Pexip’s innovative technology is enabling healthcare organisations in Ireland and further afield, to extend the reach of their practice and by providing secure, easyto-join telehealth visits for patients from any device or location.
Simple for providers
With Pexip, patients can easily join video meetings from the device of their choice, without the need to download any software or plugins. Pexip Health provides a user-friendly, seamless experience for patients, putting their care at the forefront. Patients can meet their caregivers from the comfort of their homes, using the devices they already own.
“Healthcare organisations rely on Pexip’s secure video platform to deliver a broad spectrum of virtual care services,” says Hughes. “Through Pexip’s APIs, caregivers can use the technologies they already own to meet
Scalable and secure Pexip’s reliable, easy to use platform offers a private, cloud-based telehealth solution which helps to address security compliance issues and provide reassurance to providers and users. The customisable user interface means that patients benefit from added peace of mind that they are in the right place with the providers’ branding featured on the platform. In addition, Pexip Health is scalable by design and easy to manage today and in the future. There is no doubt that Pexip’s flexibility, powerful interoperability, robust integrations, and customisation options mean that health organisations can easily extend their care from hospital to home and transform patient experiences.
Pexip Health’s virtual care solution enables healthcare providers to
Trusted global video conferencing provider Pexip
Hughes adds: “Pexip’s native integration with Epic EHR and other APIs pairs with other electronic health records including Cerner, Allscripts, eClinicalWorks and Practice Fusion. Implementations include the Western Health Trust in Northern Ireland, where face-to-face diabetes appointments have been reduced by 32 per cent. Pexip is also encouraging intra-departmental collaboration on complex cases through Multi-Disciplinary Teams (MDTs) who are using the video platform as a way to connect specialists across multiple hospital sites and broad geographic areas, as in the case with Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust’s orthopaedic MDTs.”
extend the reach of their practice by providing secure, easy-to-join telehealth visits for patients from any device or location. This in turn helps to achieve the quadruple aim: •
Improved clinical experience;
Improved patient experience;
Better outcomes; and
E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.pexip.com/healthcare
Healthcare is too important to stay the same
Digital health transformation principles Implemented by the HSE’s Digital Transformation team, Ireland’s Digital Health Transformation Strategy is underpinned by 10 key principles. Incorporating health, enterprise, and sustainability, it is supported by all four elements (government, industry, academia, and citizens/patients) of the quadruple helix working towards the shared Stay Left, Shift Left vision.
1. Leapfrog: Laggard to leader
2. Stay Left, Shift Left
The objective of the Digital Health
Closely aligned with Sláintecare, Stay Left, Shift Left is the
Transformation Strategy is a transformation
HSE’s digital health innovation strategy. Stay Left is defined
from a European digital health laggard to a
by keeping people well and managing chronic conditions
European digital health leader by 2025. This
from home, and Shift Left by the movement of patients out
requires a leap from a primarily paper-,
of acute setting, to a community setting, and, ultimately, a
presence-, and acute-centred healthcare
home setting. The innovation strategy seeks to identify digital
system to one that is digital-, patient-, and
interventions which deliver quadruple improvements. These
home/community-centred. This will require
are: improved care and outcomes, reduced cost or better
assertive leadership and clinical
value, improved clinician and patient experiences; and
improved quality of life for citizens, patients, and staff.
3. Healthcare 4.0: Patient centric The transition towards a healthcare system which delivers improvements in life expectancy and health outcomes will be driven by digital technology, data-driven care, and innovation that is enabled by disruptive technologies. As such, citizens will take greater co-responsibility for their health, as informed by real-time health data. Simultaneously, care networking, care anywhere, and personalised care will contribute to this transformation.
Healthcare is too important to stay the same
4. Open Innovation 2.0: Citizen Allied with engagement across the quadruple helix, digital technologies will drive structural improvement in the healthcare system. Patient centricity will be central to this process.
5. 10X: Radical innovation Digital technologies will be harnessed to deliver a 10X acceleration in outcomes, speed, cost, and capacity. In pursuit of a digital first culture, an exponential mindset can capitalise on exponential technologies.
6. Digital transformation model
7. Value-based Healthcare
The digital transformation model comprises five pillars:
Moving away from a healthcare outputs-based
inform; inspire; ideate; iterate; and implement. When
model to one that is outcomes-based via a value-
combined, these can create a virtuous circle of progress. HSE
based healthcare lens will improve patient
Digital Transformation is leveraging the WHO Digital Health
experience, clinician effectiveness, and system
Investment model for the management and sequencing of
efficiency. The new model will deliver risk/gain share
digital health investments. As such, governance and decision-
and pay for outcomes.
making will become more clinician led.
8. Dynamic capabilities and capability maturity frameworks Dynamic capabilities determine the ability of organisations and ecosystems to integrate, develop, and reconfigure both internal and external resources in order to respond to and proactively engage with rapidly changing health and economic contexts. Ultimately, dynamic capabilities aim to generate abnormal efficiency, effectiveness, and return on investment. HSE Digital Transformation has also committed to the development of a national Digital Health and Wellness Capability Framework. This framework will provide a roadmap and a measurement tool to track progress, in order to facilitate successive evolutionary leaps to improve capability and outcomes.
9. Enterprise and sustainability
10. Design thinking and design
The Digital Health Transformation Strategy also incorporates
Through the use of design thinking – a non-
enterprise and sustainability. A focus on digital health as a
linear process to understand problems and
national enterprise growth area can simultaneously capitalise on
create innovative solutions – the Digital
existing assets and resources, while creating new opportunities
Health Transformation Strategy
for scalability and export. Meanwhile, the use of digital to
conceptualises challenges and solutions.
virtualise, automate, and dematerialise healthcare will establish a
Furthermore, HSE Digital Transformation’s
more sustainable health system, while telehealth and remote
Open Innovation 2.0 expands on design
monitoring will contribute to decarbonisation. A proportion of
science research as an archetype to enable
economic savings could then be reinvested in further
the rapid testing of new digital solutions.
Pedestrianisation: European case studies Rathausplatz in Nuremburg, an entirely pedestrianised area.
As the pedestrianisation of certain streets in Dublin city centre progresses, eolas examines examples of cities that are both partially and fully car free in order to better understand the possible future of Ireland’s capital. Pedestrianisation of streets in Dublin city centre such as Capel Street and Parliament Street was trialled in the summer of 2021 in tandem with mass outdoor dining arrangements that were made in order to accelerate the recovery of the hospitality sector following its reopening after multiple Covid-related lockdowns. For 11 weeks, Dublin City Council estimated that more than 300,000 people had experienced traffic-free streets between both Capel and Parliament streets, but the pilot scheme ended in August. Dublin City Council then opened a public consultation on the matter, receiving almost 7,000 submissions, with 95 per cent of respondents saying that pedestrianisation had improved their experience of Capel Street. Plans have since been put into action to make the street the city’s longest pedestrianised street, with it now car-free from Parnell Street to the junction with Strand Street since May 2022. Emergency vehicles will still have access to the street at all times and deliveries can be made from 6am-11am, after which bollards are raised.
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Paris Going a step further than Dublin’s pedestrianisation of singular streets, Parisian officials have recently announced plans to make the city almost entirely carfree by 2024. A city that has long suffered from massive air pollution, more than 100,000 vehicles pass through Paris every day, with the new measures expected to reduce traffic by circa 55 per cent. Limited traffic zones (ZTL, zone à trafic limité) will be introduced within the city to reserve roads for pedestrians, cyclists, and public transport, disallowing personal vehicles from travelling through Paris without stopping. The ZTL will not ban vehicles completely, with delivery services, disabled people, and short-term hotel guests still permitted to drive through the city. The 14-square kilometre ZTL will stretch from Place de la Bastille to Place de la Concorde, incorporating famous areas such as the Marais and most of the Latin Quarter. Motorists living within the ZTL will likely have to provide supporting documents such as resident parking cards or stickers in order to be permitted to the
Pedestrians in Paris.
area. Public transport, taxis, and ambulances are expected to be exempt from the restrictions. Importantly, the original public consultation on the ZTL found 78 per cent of people to be in favour; previously attempted traffic restrictions in Paris have failed due to a lack of public support, such as the 2014 attempt to adopt every-other-day driving restrictions via even and odd license plate numbers, which ended in failure after many drivers opted to simply pay the €22 fine for violating the restriction instead.
Madrid In 2018, Madrid banned all non-resident cars from its city centre. In a new central zone created, the only vehicles allowed were residents’ cars, emergency vehicles, delivery vehicles, taxis, and public transport. Unlike Paris, where car bans have mainly been aimed at reducing pollution, Madrid’s measures have mainly been targeted at the reduction of traffic and the improvement of city life that comes with such steps. The city had regulated vehicle emissions prior to the introduction of these restrictions, with most taxis being hybrids and an increasing number fully electric. Older, more polluting cars were also banned outright from the city centre. The ban has not been without its issues: following the ascension of a right-wing coalition to power in local government in 2019, attempts to repeal the ban were protested by the public, with crowds estimated anywhere from 10,000-60,000 taking to the streets. A 2021 Spanish Supreme Court ruling struck down the ban, which had by then been estimated to have decreased emissions in Madrid by 22 per cent. The old zone has now been replaced by two low emission zones of special protection.
Nuremburg Nuremburg has been a pioneer in the pedestrianisation of European cities, having closed major traffic corridors in phases since the 1970s. The city closed the last through-way through the city centre on a trial basis in 1988; one year later the trial was found to have reduced overall traffic flow by 25 per cent and increased air quality significantly. Such work was accompanied with major renovation works in the newly pedestrianised area in order to make it more attractive via building renovation, street furniture upgrades and artwork installations. Popular support has “proved to be strong” according to a European Commission report, with proposals to reopen a through road to traffic in 1996 abandoned due to public opposition. Upon the closure of the Rathausplatz/Theresienstrasse Square through road in 1988, actual traffic reduction in the city centre was “twice as large as predicted”, with a reduction of 36,044 cars by 1993; further research showed that these cars had not been simply displaced onto other roads, screen line counts of the city’s 12 bridges indicated that there had been a fall of 10,000 vehicles in the city between 1989 and 2000, despite there being an increase in car ownership in the same period. The car-free zone within the city continues to grow, with it announced in July 2021 that the Königstrasse will be pedestrianised too. Situated within the historical city centre, the pedestrianisation will be carried out as part of revitalisation efforts, along with pop-up retail and gastronomy locations, that will be an “important building block on the way to a better quality of stay” according to Nuremburg SDP chairman Nasser Ahmed.
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REPowerEU: Speeding up the transition A planned €210 billion investment by the European Commission aiming to wean the EU off Russian fossil fuels by 2027 has mandated a faster transition to green energy. In May 2022, EU leaders adopted the REPowerEU plan, drafted in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and recognising the need to transition away from current spending of €100 billion per year. Russia is currently Europe’s top gas supplier, sending 40 per cent of the bloc’s gas and 27 per cent of its imported oil and the plan outlines how the EU intends to negotiate the immediate gas crisis but also deliver on promises to wean itself off Russian energy by 2030. The three-pronged approach targets energy savings, diversification of energy supplies, and accelerated roll-out of renewable energy. Interestingly, as well as diversifying supply, the plan presents an opportunity to accelerate further the EU’s planned renewable rollout and decarbonisation targets. The Fit for 55 package produced as part of the European Green Deal set ambitious targets of greenhouse gas
emissions reductions by 2030 of 55 per cent, targeting climate neutrality by 2050. Included in the package are plans to review the Renewable Energy Directive and increase the EU’s target of at least 32 per cent of renewable energy sources in the overall mix to at least 45 per cent by 2030. However, the REPowerEU plan has now proposed increasing that target further to 45 per cent, significantly higher than current levels of 22 per cent of EU energy consumed as renewable. Underpinning this increase in ambition, REPowerEU has proposed a range of measures including, but not limited to: •
an EU solar strategy to double current capacity by 2025 and install 600GW by 2030;
a doubling of the rate of heat pump deployment;
recommended planning changes to recognise major renewable projects as “an overriding public interest”;
a target of 10 million tonnes of domestic renewable hydrogen and a further 10 million tonnes of imports, with two delegated acts on the definition and production of renewable hydrogen; and
a biomethane action plan to increase production to 35bcm by 2030.
Energy efficiency will form a large part of efforts to navigate from dependence on Russian fossil fuels and the plan points to energy savings as “the quickest and cheapest” way to address the current energy crisis and reduce bills. The EU Commission has proposed increasing its binding energy efficiency target from 9 per cent to 13 per cent. In addition, it has published a communication detailing short-term behavioural changes, which it estimates could cut gas and oil demand by 5 per cent. Developed in association with the International Energy Agency (IEA), the Commission has presented a nine-step plan to achieve immediate energy savings through voluntary choices (see Figure 1).
The plan also encourages member states to use fiscal measures to encourage energy savings, suggesting examples such as reduced VAT rates on energy efficient heating systems, building insulation and appliances and products.
Diversifying supply Outside of measures efficiency and increased renewables, the EU recognises the need to diversify supply. In April 2022, the EU established its Energy Platform, a voluntary coordination mechanism supporting the purchase of gas and hydrogen for the EU at affordable prices and phasing out dependency on Russian gas. The Commission is considering a joint purchasing mechanism, much the same as that used for the common vaccine purchasing during the pandemic and has suggested legislating to mandate member states to diversify gas supply. The EU External Energy Strategy adopted as part of REPowerEU “prioritises the EU's commitment to the global green and just energy transition, increasing energy savings and efficiency to reduce the pressure on prices, boosting the development of renewables and hydrogen, and stepping up energy diplomacy”.
Industry Measures suggested under REPowerEU in the form of energy savings, efficiency, fuel substitution, electrification, and an enhanced uptake of renewable hydrogen, biogas and biomethane by industry could save up to 35bcm of natural gas by 2030, on top of what is foreseen under the Fit for 55
proposals, according to the EU Commission. These measures include: carbon contracts for difference to support green hydrogen uptake by industry; utilisation of emission trading revenues to divert Russian fossil fuel dependency; establishment of an EU Solar Industry Alliance and skills partnership.
Finance The Commission has described the additional €210 billion to 2027 investment required for REPowerEU as a “down-payment” on independence and security in the context of €100 billion annual savings to be made from cutting Russian fossil fuel imports. However, it says that investments must be met “by the private and public sector, and at the national, cross-border and EU level”. Detailing the levels of investment, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “All of this will of course require massive investments and reforms. We are mobilising close to €300 billion. Approximately €72 billion will be in grants and approximately €225 billion in loans. This will include some financing (around €10 billion) in missing links for gas and LNG so that no member state is left in the cold. “And up to €2 billion for oil infrastructure in view of stopping the shipment of Russian oil. All the rest of the financing, that is 95 per cent of the overall financing, will go into speeding up and scaling up the clean energy transition.”
Figure 1: Nine-step plan for energy efficiency which could cut gas and oil demand by 5 per cent 1
Turn down heating and use less air-conditioning (19°C or 20°C instead of the EU average of 22°C);
adjust boiler settings (lower temperatures set at boilers can save around €100 each year);
work from home (commuting accounts for around a quarter of oil use in EU cars);
use cars more economically (making car trips with multiple people, relying on air conditioning less);
reduce speed on highways (driving an average of 10 km/h slower will reduce average fuel bills by €60 per year);
leave cars at home on Sunday in large cities;
walk or bike short journeys instead of driving (a third of EU car journeys are less than three kilometres);
use public transport; and
skip the plane, take the train.
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Northern Ireland Assembly Election 2022 Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD arrives at the count centre in Belfast.
The Northern Ireland Assembly Election in May 2022 was historic for a number of reasons but none more so than the mandating of a nationalist First Minister for the first time since the formation of the State. David Whelan writes. While a range of notable themes emerged from the 2022 Northern Ireland Assembly Election, not least the rise of the ‘others’, the split vote of unionism and the decline of the SDLP, undoubtedly, the foremost outcome was the emergence of nationalist Sinn Féin as the largest party at Stormont. In a legislature originally created to ensure perpetual unionist rule, a tipping of the balance is not only significant but also symbolic. The default unionist setting, historically in place since partition, can now no longer be assumed, neither internally nor externally. Equally symbolic is the right given to Sinn Féin by the electorate to now hold the post of First Minister, if and when the Assembly returns. 132
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Those seeking to downplay Sinn Féin’s success have pointed to no gains in the party’s seat numbers (27) and little change in first preference votes since 2017 (29 per cent compared to 27.9 per cent in 2017). Instead, the narrative is that a greater spread of votes across unionist parties, coupled with an uplift in Alliance support, led to seat declines for both the DUP (-3) and the UUP (-1). However, such a narrative fails to recognise changing trends. The 2017 election result was widely identified as a high watermark for Sinn Féin. Less than a year before, it had lost an Assembly seat and seen its first preference vote share fall by almost 3 per cent. Fast forward to the emergence of the RHI scandal, the resignation of then-deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and
Arlene Foster’s crocodile comments in relation to the Irish language, and a fresh election saw Sinn Féin close the gap on the DUP to one seat, lifting their first preference votes on the year before. That Sinn Féin has not only been able to hold but build upon its 2017 electoral support is significant. In contrast to Sinn Féin’s fortunes, the DUP, as anticipated, suffered loses. Pre-election, senior figures in the party had portrayed a confidence that many recognised as feigned. Quietly, however, those same figures had hoped a decline in seats could have been avoided despite a decline in votes. In reality, the party suffered an almost 7 per cent drop in first preferences, resulting in the loss of three seats.
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Interestingly and surprisingly, the decline of the DUP did little for the election fortunes of its unionist colleagues. Expectations were high that both the TUV and UUP would benefit from the DUP’s vote decline. While the TUV did see a 5.1 per cent rise in the first preference votes, frustrations were clear in the comments of leader Jim Allister MLA that his party returned only he alone to the Assembly. The TUV suffered from being transfer un-friendly, clearly seen in the context that the 65,788 first preference votes it received was not significantly less than the 78,237 first preferences votes for the SDLP, who returned eight MLAs. In contrast, the UUP faces a dilemma. The party may have only lost one seat, but it was operating from a low base of a largely poor run of elections and its loss of almost 2 per cent of first preference votes, under new leadership and in the context of DUP in-fighting, raises questions about the party’s appeal to the electorate in its current form. Undoubtedly, the biggest gainer of seats and votes in May’s election was the Alliance Party. Gaining nine seats and increasing its share of first preference votes by 4.5 per cent to 13.5 per cent, the party, which did not have a mandate for an Executive minister in the last term before leader Naomi Long MLA negotiated the justice portfolio, benefited heavily from transfers from the UUP and SDLP, have upset the power-sharing by designation model set up under the Good Friday Agreement.
cent, compared to the SDLP’s 20 per cent, Alliance’s 17 per cent, UUP’s 13 per cent and Sinn Féin’s 9 per cent. Parties running multiple candidates often distort transfer data, with the majority of their transfers coming from party colleagues. However, of note is the fact that most of the DUP’s transfers came from the TUV (40 per cent), most of the SDLP’s transfers came from Alliance (28 per cent), while the Alliance Party had a broad appeal to voters of the UUP (23 per cent), Sinn Féin (21 per cent) and the SDLP (16 per cent).
Gender balance The 32 female MLAs elected in May 2022, more than one-third of all members (35.6 per cent), represents a record number and a significant increase on the first post-Good Friday Agreement Assembly figure of just 13 per cent females. A total of 17 more female candidates stood in 2022 than in 2017, meaning that females made up over 36 per cent of all candidates. Female representation in the Assembly chamber will increase slightly from election results, given that DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson MP has once again opted to coopt Emma Little-Pengelly MLA into an Assembly seat.
Future On Friday 13 May, MLAs gathered in Stormont for what would usually be the launch of Assembly business via the election of a Speaker and deputy speakers. In protest against the Northern Ireland Protocol, the DUP intends to not participate in establishing a working Assembly and Executive, meaning that all other MLAs are essentially locked out. In failing to support the election of a Speaker, the party essentially paused the operation of the Assembly. Similarly, the Executive cannot meet without a First and deputy First Minister. The DUP said it would not nominate ministers to Stormont’s governing Executive, meaning that ministers from the last mandate are currently acting in a caretaker capacity. Under changes to the Northern Ireland Act brought forward by the British Government amid the last collapse of Stormont, following an election, there is a six-month window for an Executive to be formed before a fresh election is triggered. The DUP has set a high bar of demand for radical changes to the Protocol and even the UK Government’s plans to domestically legislate changes to the Protocol, against the advice of the EU, might not go far enough to meet demands. If so, Northern Ireland may face a fresh Assembly election in early winter.
The ‘other’ designation allowed for under the power sharing agreement was arguably not designed to accommodate such a large bloc. The loss of two Green Party MLAs, including party leader Clare Bailey, marked a loss of the party’s total cohort of seats.
Transfers While much analysis focuses on first preference votes as an indicator of party success, of equal importance to a party’s final tally is whether it is transfer friendly. Highlighting this, only 21 of the 90 MLAs elected in May 2021 had a sufficient number of first preference votes to meet the quota and to be elected at the first count. Interestingly, the DUP was the most transfer friendly party, receiving 26 per
DUP leader Jeffery Donaldson led his party to a loss of three seats.
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TRADE UNION DESK The State’s hands-off approach to childcare must end
All European welfare systems were originally built around the assumption that women are full-time caregivers in the home while men earned a wage adequate to support the family, writes Laura Bambrick, Head of Social Policy and Employment Affairs at the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU). From the 1950s onwards, this male-breadwinner model of work and family life began to be replaced by social policies that facilitated women as well as men to work outside the home. Ireland is unusual in that this shift in official thinking began much later and gender stereotypes remain today. Nowhere is this more visible than in the State’s hands-off approach to childcare. In all other rich EU countries, childcare is considered an essential public service. In Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, access to full-time care is guaranteed to all children aged one year or younger. A similar right exists in Germany, but publicly-funded centres closing at lunchtime is common making full-time employment difficult for mothers. In Austria, Belgium, and France, childcare is available for the year or two before
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children start primary school. In Ireland, where private for-profit businesses provide the majority of childcare facilities, there is no legal right to a childcare place. However, the right to access childcare does not automatically guarantee it is affordable for parents. While all member states offer some support to reduce childcare fees, there is wide variation in the generosity of the subsidies and the resulting out-of-pocket expense for parents. In eight of the EU27 states, free or extremely low-cost publicly-funded childcare is available for all children regardless of how much their parents earn or the family type. More typically, childcare subsidies are more generous for low-income, lone-parents and migrant families.
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In Ireland, during the Celtic Tiger years, a fourfold increase in Child Benefit was used as a vehicle to help working parents with childcare costs in a way that ensured families with a stay-at-home parent would equally benefit from social spending. More recently, a new National Childcare Scheme, launched in November 2019, provides universal (paid to all) and targeted (must meet certain criteria) subsidies for children aged between 24 weeks and 15 years using a registered childcare provider, giving parents a statutory right to financial support for childcare fees for the first time. The universal subsidy is paid at a very modest €0.50 per hour, up to a maximum of €22.50 per week per child. Top-ups are however paid up to €145 per week per child. But as the maximum income threshold (€60,000) for a top-up subsidy is the same for one-earner and two-earner households, a working couple earning above low pay (two-thirds the median income) will not qualify. As a result, the cost of childcare for working couples in Ireland remains the most expensive in the entire EU. On average, they spend €187 per child per week for full day care or 20 per cent of their joint income on fees for two pre-school children. This is a bigger share of the family budget than is typically spent on housing costs (15.7 per cent).
“The State must recognise childcare as an essential public service for which it is primarily responsible for delivering and resourcing.”
Unsurprisingly, Ireland has one of the lowest rates of working mothers in the EU27 alongside Italy, Greece, and Spain where one-third of women aged between 25 and 54 with children are outside the workforce. One of the main contributing factors to our crippling cost of childcare is that, unusually, fees are not subject to any regulation by the State in Ireland nor are costs capped for families with multiple children using childcare services. Business owners point to underinvestment by government. Funding is comparatively very low and markedly below the UNICEF recommended benchmark of investing at least 1 per cent of GDP in early years childcare. However, the Parliamentary Budget Office notes it is not clear what effect the significant increased funding over the past decade has had on costs for parents. At the same time, professionally qualified staff in the sector continue to be some of the lowest paid workers in the economy and paid far less than their EU counterparts. A longstanding fact only acknowledged by government in the past year with a commitment to introduce legally binding minimum pay rates and terms and conditions for the sector’s 30,000 female workforce. It beggars belief that the State’s continued absence from childcare is happening against the backdrop of Ireland having the highest fertility rate in the EU27, after France and Sweden. The crisis in childcare is not a niche issue. The market has failed. The State must recognise childcare as an essential public service for which they are primarily responsible for delivering and resourcing. It is the European way. It is the only way to guarantee accessible and affordable childcare for families and decent pay and conditions for workers.
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Caitríona Perry, RTÉ
Caitríona Perry is an award-winning broadcast journalist with RTÉ and currently co-anchors the Six One News. A graduate of DCU, Perry previously worked at Newstalk and Today FM, before joining RTÉ in 2007 where she was the national public service broadcaster’s Washington Correspondent between 2014 and 2018.
How did you get into journalism?
How do you think the profession is evolving?
I always wanted to be a journalist, for as long as I can remember. After school I did the BA in journalism in DCU and as part of the last semester of the four-year degree, there was a placement element. I did mine in what was then a start-up radio station called Newstalk. My three-month placement turned into a permanent job and luckily, I have been gainfully employed in this fine profession ever since.
Quite dramatically. Like many industries, the arrival of the smartphone has changed journalism utterly. Now everyone is capable of capturing sound and video everywhere at any time. And with social media, and podcasting platforms, everyone can be their own broadcaster at any time of day or night too. This has brought great opportunity in terms of the breadth of what we can do, and how inexpensive it has become, but it has also
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“Like many industries, the arrival of the smartphone has changed journalism utterly.” Caitríona Perry, RTÉ
brought challenges in that the traditional curated and fact-checked content from trusted journalists and outlets can get swamped by inaccurate, and sometimes completely fabricated, content from nonverifiable sources.
What are the challenges of working in broadcast journalism? With broadcast journalism you only have a certain amount of time – minutes and often just seconds – to communicate information so you have to really distil what you want to say into its most brief form, yet without losing meaning, impact, or context. You learn early on to be really frugal with your words. When you are out on the road, logistics can be challenging. You can be in a field, or on the side of a road, with all kinds of chaos going on, but you have to give the appearance of calm organisation, so the viewer focuses on the information and not the delivery of it.
Who do you admire most within the industry and why? I really admire Lyse Doucet, Orla Guerin, and Lindsey Hilsum. They are fantastic journalists and storytellers. They are brave in their pursuit of the truth and strive for the most authentic and objective reportage they can produce. All three have done outstanding work from Ukraine in recent months. They are the gold standard for broadcast journalism.
What has been your most significant story or project to date?
How do you spend your time outside of work?
Probably covering the Covid pandemic. It was a situation nobody had ever lived through before – and hopefully never will again. We had huge numbers of viewers tuning in to the Six One News every evening, and all of the various special programmes that we broadcast. There was a tremendous responsibility to bring information to the audience, but at the same time we were trying to do that while keeping our team safe and delivering the best service we could while limiting everyone’s exposure.
The hours in this business can be very
Exercising, I like to keep fit and healthy. long and often a certain amount of stamina is required to keep going on limited sleep and snatched food – the fitter you are, the better able you are to handle those demands. I like to spend as much time as possible socialising with friends too. And travelling. I love being on the move and discovering new places.
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Political Platform Jennifer Whitmore TD First elected to represent the Wicklow constituency in Dáil Éireann in February 2020, Jennifer Whitmore TD is the Social Democrats’ spokesperson on Climate and Biodiversity and Communications Networks, and on Children and Youth Affairs. She is also a member of the Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action. How did your political career begin?
My background is in marine biology, fisheries and environmental law, so my political career really came as a bit of a shock to me to be honest. I saw politics as something that other people did, and not something for me. So, I see myself as a bit of an accidental politician.
time. It was then that I began a strong community-based campaign for an allinclusive playground that would facilitate play for all children, including those with disabilities. The campaign was successful due to incredible work of the committee and the South Beach Playground has become a template for other counties wanting to build an allinclusive outdoor play area.
My family and I moved back from Australia after living there for 10 years and moved to Greystones to settle down. It was then that I realised, for a growing town, Greystones and the Delgany area lacked basic community facilities such as a proper playground, and that there was a distinct lack of female representation at council level. I decided to run for council, and I was fortunate to get elected first
As an environmentalist, I was obviously very concerned about our climate and biodiversity crises and the Government’s lack of action in this regard. It was not just that, however. Seeing Fine Gael in government and bringing with that a string of crises in housing and healthcare, I knew it was time to offer an alternative. Consequently, I was a founding member of the Social Democrats and ran in the
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2020 elections in the constituency of Wicklow.
What are your most notable achievements in the Oireachtas to date? As the Social Democrats’ Spokesperson for Climate Action and Biodiversity, and a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action, much of my work is spent holding the Government to account on its climate targets and policies. Regrettably, while the Government is strong on climate rhetoric, that is not matched by its climate action. Its approach has also heaped the burden of our transition to a low carbon economy onto the shoulders of the most vulnerable in our society.
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I have attempted to correct this approach. For instance, I introduced legislation that would create a Just Transition Commission to provide statutory protection for workers and communities most impacted by industry changes necessitated by the climate crisis. I have also spent much of my time advocating for the Government to properly address the cost-of-living crisis. Soaring energy costs are a core reason that many workers and families are falling into poverty, and I have long called on the Government to reduce VAT on energy bills as a matter of urgency. This could have been done in October 2021, with the approval of the European Commission, but regrettably it took the Government until April 2022 to act. There is so much more the Government needs to do in this area and I, as the Social Democrats’ climate spokesperson, have been centrally involved in devising our multilayered and targeted alternative. I was also very pleased that legislation I introduced – designating basking sharks a protected species – was adopted by the Government and, for the first time, basking sharks will now be protected in Irish law.
What is unique about representing the Wicklow constituency Wicklow is both beautiful and dynamic in every way. It is a large constituency, with each area having its own unique characteristics. When elected, I made a promise to represent the entire county – from rural to urban, from east to west, and I work hard to try to keep that promise. We are also a commuter county with very poor road infrastructure and little to no public transport outside of Bray. Even where there is public transport, it is at maximum capacity with many rural towns and villages left out of Active Travel measures, where car dependency is very high. I have campaigned tirelessly for Local Link bus services to loop around towns and villages which would be great for our carbon footprint and for stimulating local economies yet, there seems to be little appetite for this at government levels.
The high cost of housing is also a huge issue here, with many people being priced out of the market due a lack of affordable and social housing options. I know many families that have had to uproot their entire lives, move their children out of school and leave their support networks to move to different counties. This really does not lead to cohesive and sustainable communities.
What are your priorities going forward? We have a lot to do to meet our national and international climate action goals. Unfortunately, the Government is behind on its targets as well as putting in place a just transition mechanism to make sure everyone is brought along the journey in a fair and equal manner. This includes ramping up the National Retrofitting Programme, prioritising those in fuel poverty and supporting community-level climate action initiatives through greater resourcing of local authorities. Renewable energy needs to be supported but sustainably with marine environments protected first or at least in tandem with developments. Again, the Government missed the boat on this one, so we have to act fast to make sure our
marine ecosystems are protected throughout development. I also want to see greater initiatives to protect working families from rising fuel prices and inflation in the upcoming budget and, as previously mentioned, increased investment in childcare and a bigger focus on solutions to provide more social and affordable housing.
How can the Social Democrats maximise their impact in the lifetime of the 33rd Dáil? The Social Democrats have been a strong and constructive opposition voice in the Dáil. The purpose of the Opposition is to hold the Government to account, and we have continually and forcefully done that on a wide range of issues. However, the Opposition must also offer solutions, as well as point out deficiencies in the Government’s policy approach, and to that end we have introduced a range of legislation – much of which the Government has not opposed – on issues like housing, healthcare, the climate crisis, and education. We intend to continue this work and remain a strong voice, for those who are being left behind by government policies, throughout the term of this Dáil.
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The Digital Services Act: An Irish own goal The EU’s Digital Services Act (DSA) was recently announced amid much fanfare. Intended to regulate online content, the DSA has been presented as a victory for privacy and data protection rights. But take a closer look, and the DSA is actually a slap on the wrist for Ireland, writes Johnny Ryan, Senior Fellow, Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL). The European Commission has effectively removed regulation away from Ireland and to Brussels because of our inability or unwillingness to regulate Big Tech. This will cost us investment and jobs as we have missed the opportunity to be the centre of global tech regulation. Because of failings by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) to tackle many big problems that should have been fixed under the existing General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which the EU introduced in 2016, and applied in 2018, these problems persist today. The DPC should has already resolved the issue of micro-targeted ads based on Cambridge Analytica-style intimate profiles. Misleading consent requests are also already unlawful. Yet, European legislators felt the need to outlaw these things again. On the positive side, the DSA has some useful provisions. Now, watchdog organisations will gain access to Big Tech’s opaque and harmful algorithms. Tech firms will also have to take more care about the safety of products sold on their marketplaces. And image-based sexual abuse will be more robustly policed. But in the midst of this, Ireland has badly failed in its duty to enforce the GDPR on Big Tech firms and protect the rights of millions of Europeans.
Failure to act In 2021, the Oireachtas Justice Committee recommended that the Government launch an independent review of how to strengthen and reform the Data Protection Commission – a measure that the European Commission endorsed. It also recommended the appointment of two additional data protection commissioners. Unfortunately, while the Government is still talking about taking action, damage to Ireland has mounted, and continues to mount.
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Ireland’s own goal Ireland could have and should have been the key global location for digital regulation, and in turn the digital economy. This would have created and sustained work for many people, unfortunately it has now missed that opportunity. At the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, we have long been warning that the failure to uphold the rights of 448 million Europeans creates strategic economic and reputational risks for Ireland. Lawmakers in Europe initially contemplated a mechanism like that in the GDPR that would give Ireland enforcement powers across the EU for all online content. This is a vast digital market and would have added to Ireland’s pre-eminence as a location for business in the European Union. Ireland would have been the super enforcer for all online content issues across the EU, solidifying Dublin’s place as the capital of Europe’s digital market. But this plan was abandoned. Instead, the European Commission has stepped in and will exclusively supervise Big Tech firms under the DSA. This represents an embarrassing sidelining of our domestic Data Protection Commissioner and a notso-subtle slap on the wrist for the Government by our European partners. While Ireland remains the lead GDPR enforcer for Big Tech, this is a lost opportunity. The EU clearly regards Ireland as having failed in its role as the primary regulator under GDPR. Promoting Dublin as a global technology hub is a cornerstone of Irish industrial strategy. This should seriously worry the Irish Government and the Irish exchequer. The DSA may be a sign of things to come. The European Parliament has just signalled it wants to regulate the forthcoming Artificial Intelligence Act directly from Brussels, too. Unless Ireland shows it is serious about enforcing EU digital law, it has little hope of becoming a key digital centre not only for online content, but for artificial intelligence also.
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