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HOME TRUTHS Dealing with Ireland’s deepening homelessness crisis.



In this issue

work& & life Spring-Summer 2014 WORK




9. 10.

HOME TRUTHS The homelessness crisis is deepening. TWO-TIER PAY SCRAPPED Separate scales for new staff have been abolished. BOYS FROM THE BLACKLISTS

4. 22. 24.

Thousands of Irish were denied work in Britain.

14. 16. 18. 20. 39.

PAY DAY GROANS Will incomes now rise?

26. 28.

INSURANCE CON? Plans for universal health insurance just don’t add up. RIGHTS AT WORK New thinking on supporting colleagues affected by bereavement. YOUR CAREER Creating better balance between work priorities and everything else. INTERNATIONAL Violence is breeding uncertainty in Venezuela.

Work & Life is produced by IMPACT trade union's Communications Unit and edited by Bernard Harbor. Front cover: Photo by Conor Healy. Sabrina Byrne, Andrea O’Reilly and Mary Enright project workers with Merchants Quay Ireland, Homeless & Drug Services. See page 6 for story. Contact IMPACT at: Nerney's Court, Dublin 1. Phone: 01-817-1500. Email:

30. 32. 34. 36.



SEXISM IN THE SKY And it’s not just that airline. IMPACT PEOPLE COLM McNAMEE was recently diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. FASHION Denim never really went away. FOOD Portion distortion is making us fat. GARDENS Grow your own herbs. TRAVEL Belfast gets better and better.

Sporting eyes turn to Brazil.


40. 40. 41. 41. 41. 42. 43. 43.



HEALTH Let’s deal with depression. MOVIES Animation for adults. And kids.

13. 36. 46. 47.

Save money with IMPACT. Books to win. Win €50 in our prize quiz. Rate Work & Life and win €100.

MUSIC The acclaim game. BOOKS ROB DOYLE treads the dark side.

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Ireland for all its people THE MIGRANT Rights Centre of Ireland (MRCI) marked Saint Patrick’s Day with this image to draw attention to the plight of undocumented workers in the country. As Government ministers lobbied on behalf of undocumented Irish in America, MRCI estimated that 30,000 undocumented migrants – including children and families – are living in Ireland. Most of them have been here for many years. MRCI says undocumented migrants often live under tremendous stress and fear as they are vulnerable to exploitation and excluded from basic services. Like the undocumented Irish in America, most are cut off from their families. Priya from Mauritius, who’s lived in Ireland for over five years, says she considers herself Irish. “I have two children who go to school here and they don’t know any other life. They are the invisible and unrecognised Irish. As a woman and a mother I feel so safe in Ireland, but as an undocumented migrant I fear for my future,” she said. Like the rest of us, Priya and her family place a lot of value on the Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations. “We attend and enjoy the Dublin parade. We go every year and I love the spectacle and the music. I will of course be wearing green,” she said O


Sexism in the skies FROM THE headline, you probably think this is about the sexist ‘Girls of Ryanair’ charity calendar, which was criticised by a Spanish judge last year for showing cabin crew in a sexually suggestive manner and using the female body “as a mere object.” A far cry in tone – if not in mindset – from glamorous 1960s images of Aer Lingus cabin crew, but the international award for sexism towards flight attendants must surely go to Qatar Airways. As well as banning its single female staff from getting married before they have five years’ service, and then only after getting permission from the boss, pregnancy is also punishable with the sack. Women workers – 90% of them non-Qatari – aren’t allowed to talk to men in public and live under strict curfew and constant surveillance in company-owned accommodation. The International Transport Federation, a global trade union body to which IMPACT is affiliated, is protesting at these and other human and labour rights violations. But unions are effectively banned in the super-rich gulf state. “There are no workers rights in this country, so there’s nowhere to complain,” according to a former employee. Sadly, cabin crew are not alone. ‘Kafala,’ the legal right for employers to withhold exit visas from migrant workers, underpins a regime of extreme human and labour rights violations in Qatar, which is currently gaining global notoriety for its abuses towards thousands of migrant workers building infrastructure for the 2022 soccer World Cup O




Blood on his hands I CAME across the story of Charles Drew when reading Philip Roth’s brilliant novel The Human Stain. In it, an elderly black woman tells the story of the US surgeon who saved thousands of lives through his pioneering techniques for collecting and storing blood, but bled to death following a car crash after being refused medical care at an all-white’s hospital. The story is incorrect. In fact, the badly injured doctor was treated but died from his injuries shortly afterwards. That’s not to say that a black doctor working in America in the first half of the twentieth century didn’t encounter plenty of racism. As the most prominent African-American in the field of blood transfusions, Drew had to protest against racial segregation in blood donation. But it’s for his life-saving contribution to medicine that the physician and researcher should be best remembered. Dr Drew improved techniques for blood storage and was the first to develop large-scale blood banks in World War II. As director of the ‘Blood for Britain’ project, he also pioneered testing and anticontamination procedures. Together his innovations saved thousands of lives among the allied forces, and his techniques were later applied to civilian practice. Drew was the first African-American to become an examiner on the American Board of Surgery and his lengthy research and teaching career culminated in his appointment as a chief surgeon O Bernard Harbor

That was then… Battles, wars, kingdoms, empires 100 years ago On 22nd March 1914, members of the Irish Citizens’ Army meet at Liberty Hall to elect leaders and adopt a constitution written by Sean O’Casey. The Army was initially founded by James Connolly during the Dublin Lockout. On 2nd April, the Republican women’s paramilitary organisation, Cumann na mBan is formed as an auxiliary of the Irish Volunteers. On 24th April, 35,000 German rifles and ammunition land at Larne, Bangor and Donaghadee bound for the Ulster Volunteers. The House of Commons passes the Irish Home Rule Bill on 25th May and it gets through the House of Lords in July. A special conference on Home Rule, called by King George V, breaks up without agreement after three days. On 26th July Erskine Childers and his wife Molly sail into Howth on the Asgard and land 2,500 guns for the Irish Volunteers. World War I starts nine days later.

200 years ago Napoleon Bonaparte’s rule as emperor of France is ended with the signing of the Treaty of Fontainebleau in Paris on 11th April 1814. He’s exiled to Elba.

500 years ago In April 1514, Henry VIII declares a truce with France in the War of the Holy League, a multinational conflict that’s fought from 1508 to 1516. Combatants include France, the Papal States and the Republic of Venice who are joined at various times by nearly every significant power in Western Europe including Spain, the Holy Roman Empire, England, Scotland, the Duchy of Milan, Florence, the Duchy of Ferrara, and the inevitable Swiss mercenaries.

1,000 years ago The Battle of Clontarf takes place on 23rd April 1014. The King of Leinster, Brian Boru, faces down the forces of Máel Mórda mac Murchada. Mac Murchada’s army includes Viking mercenaries and forces from Ulster. Boru ultimately pays with his own life when he is killed by a few Norsemen who stumble upon his tent when fleeing the fighting. After the battle, a fragile status quo resumes between various Irish kingdoms.


3 xx

IMPACT people

Empowered by When IMPACT member COLM McNAMEE was recently diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome it changed his life for the better. Now the community employment supervisor is running in elections to Naas municipal district council.

Tell me about yourself. Born and bred in County Kildare, I suffer from middlechild syndrome. I’m third of four boys. I go hill walking and travelling. I find it hard to stop. I’m always on the go.

or looking for facial expressions. I had no concept of what non-verbal communications was about. I would come across as quite strange. People would have viewed me as arrogant or unfriendly. I was neither of those things. I was basically oblivious; not present in the moment.

How has an Asperger’s diagnosis helped you? I’ve stopped being afraid. I spent a lot of my life being afraid of people because I didn’t understand them and they certainly didn’t understand me. A lot of people view autism and disability negatively. But as much as I’ve struggled in my life, I’ve been given phenomenal gifts. I’m very empathetic and, because of what I’ve gone through, I have the facility to help a lot of other people.

Why are you running in the local elections? I want to use my personal experience to dispel some of the myths surrounding autism. It’s not a crime to be different. I’m not saying it’s better or worse. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. It’s about compensating for the weakness and not concentrating on them. We should cherish and play to our strengths.

What’s your job? I’m a community employment supervisor in Mountrath, County Laois. I like to make a positive influence in people’s lives. My background means I can advocate for participants on the scheme extremely effectively.

People have become so cynical about politics because they see the blatant hypocrisy. I don’t want to be someone who is criticising from the side line. Win, lose or draw, I think it’s important that people are given an alternative. I’ve been told I don’t belong in the political arena, because I’m too honest. But why not? I have as much right to be here as anyone else.

“Albert Einstein was an amazing humanist. He was as odd as two left feet. We need to celebrate our differences rather than be afraid of them.” What’s your earliest memory? My first day at school. Getting on the school bus and balling my eyes out.

How has Asperger’s syndrome affected you? I knew I didn’t think like, or interact well with, other people and I wasn’t fitting in. I just didn’t know why. People humoured me, I wasn’t getting feedback telling me I was as different as I actually was and that some of my behaviour was unacceptable. I wish people had said something to me earlier. It’s been difficult. I’ve had to endure social isolation because I was so different. Because I didn’t have particularly good social skills, I didn’t understand the importance of making eye-contact



What are your ambitions? I’m very keen to discover other people. Humanity is a big experience that I haven’t really touched because I’ve been locked into my own head. I’m 40 this year and I’m looking back at what I’ve done, but also looking forward to the future.

What small things make you happy? A job well done. I’m a perfectionist by nature.

Is there anything you won’t leave home without? A good book. I read everything. Harry Potter was one of the best things to happen as it taught kids to imagine. Imagination is how we change the world. X

positive thinking What makes you laugh out loud? People. The folly of life.

Techie or a technophobe? I love my technology because it enables me to do so many things.

Where would you like to travel? I’ve been to 44 different countries. I’d like to go to Antarctica. It’s the only continent I haven’t been to.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? Be yourself.

What advice would you give to the 18-year-old self? Hang on in there. It does get better.

What is the worst feature of your character? Being too honest and too serious.

What really annoys you? I wish people could be nicer to each other.

What gets you through when the going gets tough? Knowing that nothing lasts forever. Even when I’m having a bad day, tomorrow brings another chance.

You’ve recently completed IMPACT’s workplace reps’ training course. I’m on the branch executive and the union’s training has been phenomenal. I can’t give enough credit to IMPACT for the standard of training provided.

Who would you like to have a pint with? Albert Einstein. He was an amazing humanist who defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. He was as odd as two left feet. We need to celebrate our differences rather than be afraid of them. Interview by Martina O’Leary O



Photo by Conor Healy

What’s your favourite TV programme? I really like the Big Bang Theory. Sheldon Cooper, the genius on it, is very autistic-like.

Homeless crisis

THE COMMOTION in the Hardwick Street flats, across the road from IMPACT’s Dublin office as I set out to do interviews for this article, centred on the homeless man who’d just escaped uninjured after he was tipped into a refuse collection truck from the dumpster where he’d sheltered from the freezing cold night. Homelessness is all around us.

Photo by Conor Healy

Last November at least 139 people were sleeping rough in the Dublin region alone, compared to 94 earlier in the year. And, as the number of homeless people grows dramatically – at least 5,000 across Ireland – budgets for homelessness agencies and local authorities have been slashed.

Home homelessness. Every day, IMPACT official Ashley Connolly sees their heartbreaking frustration at being unable to provide more than the very basic provisions. “They are fully committed to providing these services, but there’s just not enough funding to match the needs,” she says.

Everything’s been cut Andrea O’Reilly, a project worker with Dublin’s Merchant Quay, Homeless and Drug Services, says everything’s been cut. “Harm reduction has been cut. Accommodation provision has been cut. There aren’t enough beds. Front

“We now close on Saturday’s because we can’t afford to be open. We used to be the only organisation giving breakfast on a Saturday. Now people who’ve slept on the street all night have nowhere to go.” line services like Merchants Quay are feeling the pinch because people come here when there’s nowhere else to go. There’s a lot frustration and anger amongst the client group too,” she says.

Project worker Sabrina Byrne

Earlier this year, Dublin councillors voted to reverse €6 million of proposed cuts in the homelessness budget and instead increased funding slightly. IMPACT’s Boards and Voluntary Agencies Branch has responded with a local election campaign encouraging candidates to pledge continuing protection for Dublin’s homeless services.

Merchants Quay provides services to people sleeping rough or in emergency accomommodation. “A welcome at the door, breakfast, a shower, a change of underwear, a tooth brush and needle exchange. If someone needs accommodation or payments we try to sort things out,” says IMPACT rep Sabrina Byrne. X

Photo by

The union represents many staff working at the coalface of



Photo by Conor Healy

The homelessness crisis is deepening despite signs of political progress, says MARTINA O’LEARY.


even, in emergency accommodation that you couldn’t call a home. Each day seven new cases present while only two move into more permanent accommodation. Focus Ireland says there are 100,000 people on local authority housing waiting lists and capital spending on social housing was cut by over 70% between 2008 and 2012. Thousands more are at risk of becoming homeless because of mortgage arrears and rent increases. Many landlords are now turning away tenants on rent allowance as demand for private rented accommodation soars. Families living in hotels report arbitrary evictions and huge rent increases.

“All services have been cut.”

Andrea O’Reilly

Sabrina gives me an example of the impact of budget cuts. “We now close on a Saturday because we can’t afford to be open. We used to be the only organisation giving breakfast on a Saturday. Now people who’ve slept on the street all night have nowhere to go until 10am,” she says. Staff in the field say homelessness is becoming a longerterm problem because of a growing shortage of social housing and affordable private rented accommodation. As a result, over 1,600 people and families are berthed in Dublin hostels, night shelters, B&Bs, or low-end hotels on any given night. Some have spent long periods, years

Merchants Quay project worker Mary Enright says there’s been a “frightening” increase in the numbers of new clients from all walks of life. “They’ve hit rock bottom and what chance have they got? There are people are out there robbing food to feed their children. I worry about the women and children who don’t come here. They are almost certainly going through the cracks in the system,” she says.

Her colleague Andrea O’Reilly says there could be better c o o rd i n a t i o n of services. “How can you possibly look at your alcohol or drug issue if you have nowhere to go at night? How can you possibly look at your education, your social welfare and your health if you have nowhere to sleep? The problems are interlinked, yet each issue is dealt with on a separate basis. That holistic X

Mary Enright



Photo by Conor Healy


Homeless crisis approach just isn’t there. It’s very sad when you want to refer someone to mental health services but they’re refused because they don’t fit the catchment area or they have a drug problem,” she says. If the staff are frustrated, how must their clients feel? “If you live in Tallaght you have to go to South Dublin County Council for help. There aren’t enough beds there, so they end up in Dublin city because this is where all the services are. When they come in, they won’t be registered here.They can only call the freephone after 4.30pm. If there is no bed they phone again at 10.30pm. If there is no bed for them at 10.30pm, they are told where to collect a sleeping bag. All the time they’re hanging around the city,” says Sabrina.

Housing IMPACT members say this won’t be achieved until there’s a massive increase in affordable housing. The point isn’t lost on housing and planning minister Jan O’Sullivan, who says the Government’s commitment to eliminate homelessness by 2016 will require a steady supply of suitable permanent accommodation. “We will put in place a practical plan to access this accommodation and support people in new tenancies. This will result in the closure of expensive private emergency accommodation beds that are extensively used at present,” she says.

“Landlords are turning away tenants on rent allowance as demand for private rented accommodation soars. Families living in hotels report arbitrary evictions and huge rent increases.” Right now, Ashley says society is letting homeless people down. “It ultimately comes down to funding. The accommodation needs to be available and the support services need to be enhanced, not cut,” she says. Until that happens, we’re going to hear more stories of death and near misses in the capital’s dumpsters O

Ashley Connolly IMPACT Official



A pledge to protect DEREK BEATTIE explains why IMPACT’s Boards and Voluntary Agencies branch is seeking a homelessness pledge from Dublin election contenders. LAST JANUARY Dublin City councillors did something that surprised me. They voted to reject proposed cuts of nearly €6 million in this year’s homeless services funds. Then they went further. They voted to increase the budget. After more than six years of cutbacks, this was some belated good news for people working in the homeless services sector. While lots of IMPACT members had supported Dublin Simon Community’s brilliant campaign to protect services ahead of the Government budget last October, many of us feared that further cuts were inevitable. At last, it felt like these councillors were sticking up for the city’s most marginalised and vulnerable citizens. But the harsh reality is that, despite the small increase, budgets will come under a lot more pressure in 2014. That’s because rising rents and the accommodation crisis is making more people homeless. So my union branch is asking Dublin’s local election candidates to pledge to protect the homeless services budget for the next term of local government. We know their influence is limited, so the union has pledged to continue our campaign for better funding for homeless services in national budgets too. We can tackle homelessness together. We’re asking IMPACT members to get involved in the campaign. Simply ask your local election candidates if they will pledge to protect the homeless services budget for the duration of their elected term. Follow the campaign on Twitter at #lepledge14, which includes links to campaign material on the IMPACT website O


Two-tier pay scales scrapped IMPACT has won a three-year campaign to abolish two-tier pay scales in the public service, with lower-paid staff benefitting most. NEW UNIFIED pay scales, which end the two-tier public service pay system introduced over three years ago, are now being introduced. And public service management has confirmed that new pay scales for staff who entered the public service after January 2011 will be backdated to November 2013. The move to a single pay system for all staff is the first positive pay movement in the public service since 2008. As such, it’s a significant development for all public servants. Last year IMPACT insisted that the abolition of the two-tier system was on the agenda when management sought talks on what became the Haddington Road agreement. Management agreed to implement the changes after the Haddington Road deal was finally accepted by a majority of unions.

“Once they reach their third scale point, most staff recruited after January 2011 will be earning more than their entry scale allowed. Some lower paid grades – including clerical officers and service officers – will see some benefit after one, rather than two, years.”

This means that, once they reach their third scale point, most staff recruited after January 2011 will be earning more than their entry scale allowed. They will then ascend the same pre-2011 incremental pay scales as everyone else in their grade. Many lower paid grades – including

IMPACT general secretary Shay Cody said the hard-won breakthrough was good news for public servants and their unions. “As well as being patently unfair, the two-tier system had the potential to sow morale-sapping divisions between staff doing the same or similar work for widely different rewards. That’s why the union prioritised this issue,” he said. An additional 10% cut in allowances for new entrants, also introduced in January 2011, is also being rescinded with effect from 1st November 2013. Unified pay scales for general civil service grades have already been compiled and the same approach is to be applied across the public service. As a result, all staff in any given grade will be on common pre-2011 pay scales, albeit with up to two additional post-2011 points added at the bottom of the scales. The changes will apply to all staff who joined the civil and public service after January 2011, including those already in post. There will be no change for staff who joined the public service on pre-2011 pay scales. Bernard Harbor l WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 9


The new 2011 scales, which introduced a further 10% pay cut for new entrants on top of earlier pay cuts and the so-called ‘pension levy,’ are to be withdrawn. Post-2011 recruits will now ascend to pre-2011 scale points after two years, or less in some cases.

clerical officers and service officers – will see some benefit after one, rather than two, years.


Photo: Conor Healy

What have Royle Family actor Ricky Tomlinson and former IMPACT official Tom Brady got in common? They were both among the thousands of workers barred from working in the UK for their trade union or health and safety activities. BERNARD HARBOR reports.


The boys on the blacklist SPRING-SUMMER 2014

“YOU’D BETTER look for another job because you won’t get work in this town again. None of the big employers in Scotland will touch you.” It was stark advice given to former IMPACT official Tom Brady by a senior Scottish union leader in 1978. Almost 40 years later, evidence of systematic and illegal blacklisting of workers across construction, engineering and the craft trades came to light in Britain. Secret lists of workers involved in union activity and health and safety, or generally seen as troublemakers, were compiled by shady organisations on behalf of big employers. Shockingly, the operation was still active at least as recently as 2009 barring trade unionists and others from work on prestigious projects like the construction of the Olympic Park, the new Wembley Stadium and Portcullis House, an extension to the ‘cradle of democracy’ more commonly known as the Houses of Parliament.

“I got a letter confirming that I’d been illegally blacklisted as a strike leader. If I hadn’t come back to Ireland, I might never have worked in Britain again. I always thought I was on a blacklist in the 1970s but I couldn’t prove it. Nobody could.” Tom Brady.

Subscribers to the service included over 40 construction and outsourcing companies, including huge household name employers like McAlpine, Wimpey and Balfour Beatty. They paid the innocuous-sounding Consulting Association annual fees of £3,000, plus £2.20 for each blacklist check. Over 40,000 names of employees and job applicants were checked for trade union, health and safety or political activity.

Good company The victims are likely to include hundreds, maybe thousands, of Irishmen working or seeking work in the UK over the last four decades. Irish-run company Laing O’Rourke has apologised for its role and, along with others including McAlpines, has promised to compensate those it kept out of work. Some Irish workers are suing. UK human rights organisation Liberty has equated blacklisting with illegal phone hacking, while leading labour lawyer Keith Ewing describes the scandal as Britain’s “worst human rights abuse in relation to workers” in 50 years. Tom is in good company. Royle Family star Ricky Tomlinson was jailed for his part in a national building strike in 1972 and inevitably ended up on the blacklist. “Believe it or not, acting was never my career choice. I got into the entertainment game because I was a victim of blacklisting. In the end I got lucky, but thousands of workers had their lives – and the lives of their families – destroyed as a result of this practice,” he says. Confirmation that he was victimised came decades later for Tom when he IMPACT’s Tom Brady was blacklisted for helping organise a strike in Scotland.

applied for a UK pension just before Christmas last year. “My UK social welfare number matched my name on the blacklist that had been seized by the Information Commissioner’s Office in 2009. In January this year, I got a letter confirming that I’d been illegally blacklisted as a strike leader. If I hadn’t come back to Ireland, I might never have worked again,” he says. Tom says the ICO letter confirmed what he already knew. “I always thought I was on a blacklist in the 1970s but I couldn’t prove it. Nobody could. It was one of the reasons I came back to Dublin.”

Police intelligence The database entry that closed the workplace door on Tom is terse. A photocopy of an index card showing his name, address, date of birth, trade (electrician), and social security number. Then an entry from 7th April 1977, which lists him as a “strike leader” and says he was “reported to Sp. Branch by V181.” V181 appears to be an employers’ number or code; “Sp. Branch” is presumably Special Branch, the police intelligence unit set up to deal with terrorism and extremism but which, throughout the 1970s and 1980s, also systematically collaborated with the dark side of industry to blacklist thousands of trade unionists and political activists. Last year, police whistleblower Peter Francis revealed that far more detailed and colourful files on other trade unionists and political activists – logging details of their personal lives as well as their workplace and political activities – were collated from intelligence gathered by the police and passed to the Consulting Association. Illegal database entries – some of them bizarre – include: “Keeps extremely interesting company,” “recently seen at a left-wing meeting,” “girlfriend involved in several marriages of convenience,” “politically motivated” and simply “troublemaker.” Most entries simply read “involved in dispute” or “company given details and not employed.” ‰ WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 11

Blacklisting UK trade unions have now launched legal actions against many of the exposed companies and the Information Commissioner’s Office is alerting workers like Tom who were blacklisted to advise them about how they can seek redress.

Plasterer Ricky Tomlinson took up acting after being blacklisted in the early 1970s.

Photo: Getty Images

“Believe it or not, acting was never my career choice. I got into the entertainment game because I was a victim of blacklisting. In the end I got lucky, but thousands of workers had their lives – and the lives of their families – destroyed as a result of this practice.” Ricky Tomlinson. The Consulting Association was closed down in 2009 after the Information Commissioner’s Office declared its files illegal. But it wasn’t the only blacklisting outfit in operation and its former head Ian Kerr recently told a parliamentary committee that the practice “will always be there.”

Looking back at the seventies, Tom describes a world of work that’s literally another era. He started at the huge Ravenscraig steel works in 1976 and became a shop steward the following day. The facility, now closed, employed over 13,500 workers at its peak, all of them union members. “If you didn’t have a union card, you didn’t get on the site,” says Tom. His daughter Roisin was born in 1977, a few months after Tom was put on the Consulting Association blacklist after helping to organise a strike. She has urged him to seek redress for the illegal blacklisting that forced him into another career back in Ireland.

But, like former plasterer turned actor Ricky Tomlinson, things worked out okay for Tom and he’s more laid back. “It’s history, isn’t it? I would have found it hard to get work as a spark, but life worked out well for me in Ireland.” Quotes from Ricky Tomlinson and Frances O’Grady are taken from their 2013 articles in The Guardian l

Protections weakened Frances O’Grady, who heads the UK Trade Union Congress, says recent weakening of workplace protections actually makes blacklisting easier now than in the past. “An employee with less than two years service can be sacked just for looking at their boss the wrong way. Blacklisting and other bad treatment, whether by rogue employers or household names, is getting easier not harder,” she says. Indeed, many believe that secret blacklisting still controls who gets work in the UK construction industry. UK Labour MP John McDonnell wants a full public inquiry. “This goes on today, just because you’re a trade unionist, you stand up for health and safety or simply because you want to ensure justice and fairness at work,” he says.

Home concerns Back home, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) has raised concerns that workers in Ireland could also be vulnerable to similar practices. In an October 2013 submission on EU plans for a convention to protect personal data held by employers, it called for strong safeguards and transparency on personal data that employers hold about staff, former staff and job applicants. 12


Could it be you? If you think you might have been blacklisted by employers in the UK construction or related industries in the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s, you can get more information from the Information Commissioner’s Office website at or email the Blacklist Support Group at If you were a member of the GMB union, or a union that merged into the GMB, contact its blacklisting liaison officer at If you were a member of UCATT, contact If you were a member of Unite (or unions like the EPIU, EEPTU, AEEU, T&G or Amicus, which merged into Unite) contact

You’re better off in IMPACT IMPACT members can save a lot of money from the wide range of financial benefits provided or negotiated by the union. Some of these are free to all IMPACT members. Others are optional benefits, available only to IMPACT members, which can mean savings on insurance, salary protection, additional pension coverage and more. You must be an IMPACT member to avail of these benefits and services.

IMPACT members are entitled to l €5,000 specified critical illness or death benefit l Free legal help in bodily injury cases


l Free 24/7 legal advice helpline l Free 24/7 confidential counselling helpline l Free 24/7 domestic assistance helpline.

Members can opt to avail of IMPACTfacilitated financial benefits l Car insurance l Home insurance




E E R Fpersonalt

n e d i c ac a n c e ! insur

l Travel insurance l Additional pension benefits l Salary protection and life cover.


IMPACT members can also apply for l Gaeltacht scholarships for members’ children l Industrial relations scholarships l Benevolent grants for members in financial distress.

IMPACT Trade Union Phone: 01-817-1500 Email:

Pay and incomes As the economy slowly recovers NOREEN MOLONEY asks if we dare to dream of increased incomes.

An end

REMEMBER WHEN you looked forward to pay day? A time to catch up with the bills, indulge in the rewards of your hard work, and make plans about how to spend your wages? These days the pay day countdown is instead fuelled by fear for many, as we worry about how our shrinking incomes will stretch to cover the essentials. When you saw the word ‘pay’ over the last five years, it was usually followed by the word ‘cuts’ or ‘freeze.’ But, as Ireland’s economic outlook becomes more positive, talk of pay recovery has begun. The departure of the troika, improving unemployment figures and positive growth predictions have spurred expectations for the Irish economy. And, despite hiccups on the road to recovery – recent figures show the economy contracted by 0.3% in 2013 – economists generally argue that progress, though slow, is well underway. Some openly say record-current-account-surplus-shows there are grounds for wage increases. This theme will feature at IMPACT’s biennial conference in May, where a motion from the union’s executive will shift the focus towards a more positive future pay outlook. The motion would see the union “prepare and implement a strategy of income recovery for IMPACT members in the public, private, community and commercial sectors.”

It’s happening Shrill political warnings that pay rises should be avoided essentially ignore what’s already happening, as unions, industrial relations observers and private consultancies describe a trickle of modest pay increases turning into a steady stream in manufacturing, retail and other parts of the economy. Consultants Price Waterhouse Coopers report that 73% of companies will increase pay this year – up from 62% last year. IMPACT national secretary Matt Staunton, who leads for the union in commercial and private sector organisations, said the findings chime with his recent experience. “IMPACT has been negotiating modest pay deals in commercial and private companies that are able to pay. But this has invariably involved productivity measures or changes to pay structures,” he says. Even the public service has seen slight but significant positive movement on pay and incomes this year, with the abolition of two-tier pay scales (see page 9) and a slight easing of the so-called ‘pension levy.’



But let’s face facts. When it comes to recovering living standards, we’ve got a long way to go. Public sector average hourly earnings have fallen by 5.4% since the end of 2008, according to official data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO). Weekly public service earnings decreased at nearly the same rate (5.1%) – or just under €50 a week. These figures don’t include the so-called ‘pension levy,’ which reduced earnings by a further 7% on average. There’s a slightly different picture in the private and commercial sector. Here hourly earnings were stagnant over the last five years while weekly earnings fell by €21.63 (3.4%). The difference in weekly and hourly earnings reflects decreases in private sector working hours, which have hit many family incomes.

Jobs The apparently more positive story in the private sector is balanced by the impact of unemployment. Job cuts – including compulsory redundancies – was the preferred way of cutting private sector pay bills during the recession, along with reductions in paid hours and pay reductions for some who kept their jobs. Unemployment and underemployment remain a fact of life, with youth and long-term joblessness particularly stubborn despite a welcome reduction in the number of people on the live register. The pay figures are averages, which mask variations between and within different sectors – some experienced rising pay X

to the pay day


throughout the recession. They also mask the human cost of declining incomes. And they don’t capture the effect of new and increased taxes and charges, or changes to benefit eligibility, which have also had big impacts on incomes. CSO figures suggest that, when tax and social transfers are taken into account, average disposable household incomes fell by over €4,000 a year between 2008 and 2011.

Half full? Is it realistic to talk about starting to reverse these trends? It depends whether you see the glass as half full or half empty. Every economic prediction forecasts recovery, but it is slow, fragile and certainly delayed by ongoing austerity policies. The troika is gone and we’re borrowing on international markets again, but the EU is still monitoring our budgets and the markets could turn again at any time. Our public finances have stabilised, but at a high level of national debt.

“When you saw the word ‘pay’ over the last five years, it was usually followed by the word ‘cuts’ or ‘freeze”. Pay is starting to move in the right direction, but increases are modest and often linked to agreement on productivity and new pay systems.

On the positive side, Irish trade unions maintained an input into pay and conditions throughout the most difficult years. Uniquely in the troika programme countries, that input extended to the public sector. Now that things are picking up, IMPACT and other unions have stayed in the game and are strong enough to take on the challenges of recovery.

Resistance Make no mistake, it will be a challenge. The recovery is slow and fragile and some politicians and influential voices in the commentariat are busy playing down the scope for income recovery and, particularly, pay rises. Resistance to pay or income movement in the public service will be most robust. During the negotiations that led to the Haddington Road deal, Government spokespeople frequently described their proposals as the “last ask” of the public service. The IMPACT executive motion to its May conference shows that the union is now thinking beyond that. IMPACT general secretary Shay Cody recently wrote that the union’s members had earned the right to some optimism about the future. He emphasised the need for all unions to keep pushing for better public services and real measures to deal with unemployment. But he was equally clear that income recovery is firmly on the list of priorities. “We remain realistic, but all the indicators tell us that Ireland is now returning to growth and that our budgetary targets will be met. We are experiencing recovery – albeit slowly – chiefly because of the efforts of ordinary working people. Having made the sacrifices over the last half-decade, IMPACT is determined that our members will get their fair share of the fruits of recovery, along with their families and communities,” he said O



Cost of health

Health insurance add up How close are we to the end of the two-tier system that health minister James Reilly promised? And just how much is it going to cost us? WE’VE ALL had to make some difficult financial decisions over the last few years and cancelling your health insurance is probably the toughest of them all. Nobody stops the VHI payments unless they really have to. But now it’s emerged that health minister James Reilly’s plans for universal health insurance (UHI) could cost you as much as €1,600 each year, with no guarantee that you’ll get anything more for your money in terms of access to services or quality of care. Don’t panic yet. The proposed new system is unlikely to come into force before 2019. The health minister has also promised that a new ‘citizens health assembly’ and the Constitutional Convention will provide arenas for public consultation on the cost and coverage of compulsory insurance – although there’s been little evidence so far that the views of stakeholders are welcome. It’s certainly likely that the political heat will increase as the shortcomings of this and other major health reform proposals are exposed to public scrutiny and debate.

Rethink Earlier this year, IMPACT wrote to the minister – and to all TDs and senators – calling for a total rethink of the UHI plan. The union’s national secretary Louise O’Donnell bluntly said that current plans would place a universal financial burden on families with no guarantee of universal access to healthcare. The minister’s chosen funding model – a free market of insurers competing for your cash – is largely based on the Dutch system. In 2012 IMPACT commissioned a study to find out what had happened in Holland. The results weren’t exactly reassuring.

end to the two-tier health system. But the new system could deliver the worst of all worlds – a multi-tier system where everyone has to pay.

Dutch families have seen a continuing rise in the price of compulsory insurance, coupled with increasing restrictions in the health services covered. An inequitable and inefficient system has emerged with different tiers of entitlement, rising hospital deficits, and even bankrupt hospitals.

IMPACT has urged the Government to look at the alternatives, particularly the ‘single-payer’ social insurance models used in France, Germany and the Nordic countries. “The ‘competing insurers’ model should not be adopted before all the options have been evaluated in terms of quality, equity, access to services, and medium and long term value-for-money,” according to the union’s 2012 report The Future of Healthcare in Ireland.

The minister has so far gleaned a measure of political and public support for compulsory insurance with promises of an

The report, by health expert Dr Jane Pillinger, calls for a full examination of a range of UHI funding models, not just the X



plans just don’t

scheduled for 2019 and free GP care promised for 2016. A white paper expected earlier this year is now due to be published shortly. It is expected to outline the pricing system and establish what will be covered under UHI.

“The minister has so far gleaned a measure of political and public support with promises of an end to the two-tier health system. But the new system could be the worst of all worlds – a multi-tier system where everyone has to pay. ” Without doubt, the public consultation that follows will be dominated by one question. How much will it cost? Right now, nobody can answer that question. Estimates vary, but the average cost per person is likely to be somewhere between €1,000 and €2,000. Meanwhile, doubts have been raised, including by ministers, as to whether free GP care will, in fact, be free.

Low incomes What we do know is that workers and employers will have to pay into a yet-to-be-established fund. Risk equalisation will be applied to ensure that health insurers can’t refuse to cover individuals because of their age, disability or health needs. The Government has also promised to pay for people on yetto-be-defined ‘low incomes,’ and to partially subsidise those on yet-to-be-defined ‘middle incomes.’

single ‘competing private insurers’ model outlined in the draft white paper.

Outsiders In February this year, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told his party’s Ard Fheis that UHI would “tear down barriers” to accessing health services, saying the State would subsidise families on low-income and pledging that there would be “no outsiders.” But the much-vaunted plans were running into difficulty even before frightening estimates of the price of compulsory insurance emerged in the press. The timetable for the necessary legislation has been pushed out, with implementation now

We also know that the entire plan is linked to another huge, and very much less debated, reform – the establishment of largely independent regional hospital clusters. This will give GPs, hospitals and primary care centres financial incentives to treat patients quickly. It will also create an incentive to discharge them quickly. In Holland this has led to one of the highest readmission rates in Europe as more and more people experience post-discharge complications after being rushed out of their hospital beds. Nobody defends the current discriminatory two-tier approach, which leaves public patients waiting longer for treatment while those with money or insurance are fast-tracked through the system. IMPACT, and virtually everyone else, has welcomed plans for universal healthcare. But it’s impossible to believe that the current proposals are going to create the kind of high quality health service, based on social solidarity rather than ability to pay, which many of our European counterparts take for granted O

Niall Shanahan



Your rights at work

Easing the pain of bereavement As many as 10% of the Irish workforce are directly affected by bereavement each year. But MARTINA O’LEARY finds help is at hand when it comes to dealing with bereavement at work.

AS SURE as night follows day, all of us have to deal with bereavement at some stage in our lives. It’s a horrible place to be and the problem doesn’t disappear when you arrive at work. Facing colleagues and clients can be daunting, and even your team workers are often unsure about how to handle the situation. But you don’t have to do it alone. The Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) has produced an innovative resource pack aimed at helping managers and workers to support their colleagues when they suffer bereavement. This collaborative project between employers, unions and other representative bodies consists of simple, easy-to-use guides on topics like what to say to a bereaved colleague, how to help, delivering bad news, and developing bereavement policies. An IHF survey found that most Irish organisations lack formal guidelines on managing bereavement in the workplace, even though there are health and safety implications for bereaved employees. IHF chief executive Sharon Foley acknowledges that it can be difficult to know how to respond. “In Ireland, it’s usually seen as a taboo subject which is best avoided or dealt with in private. Our information pack goes a long way to easing those fears by giving clear, concise guidelines on how workers and managers can respond in informed and compassionate ways to help employees who are bereaved,” she says.



The foundation recommends that organisations develop bereavement policies so that they are ready when the sad but inevitable day comes. Their employers’ guide on this outlines the potential impact of bereavement and grief on employees, practical support that employers can offer, things to consider when developing a bereavement policy, interpreting and implementing a bereavement policy, and additional bereavement resources.

Support From an employer’s point of view, the foundation’s advice on making initial contact with a bereaved worker is an important first step in providing the necessary support. They recommend establishing early communications with the worker or their family and offering appropriate supports and establishing what information to share with colleagues. They urge employers to inform bereaved staff about their leave and other entitlements sensitively and point out any available supports. There may be an employee support scheme or options for flexibility around working time if it’s needed. ‰

More information l Download the Irish Hospice Foundation resource pack for free at l provides advice and information for bereaved people, those supporting them, and professionals working with them. l The Irish Childhood Bereavement Network – – provides information on supporting bereaved children.


Even though it can be difficult, you need to acknowledge the loss and ask what support you can give. You don’t have to have all the answers. Simple things like offering to go for coffee or a lunchtime walk could be a big help. Managers or other staff who have to break terrible news are advised to prepare mentally and emotionally. Such situations are really traumatic for everyone concerned, but the foundation gives practical advice on how best to deal with them, pointing out that sensitivity and compassion make a big difference to someone who is bereaved.

Grieve differently People grieve differently. Some want to talk about it while others are more private. But, for colleagues and managers alike, it’s important to acknowledge the loss even though it can be difficult. You need to make contact and ask what support you can give. You don’t have to have all the answers. Simple things like offering to go for coffee or a lunchtime walk could be a big help. Death is an event but grieving is a process of adjustment that often takes longer than we expect. It normally takes two years

for a worker to come to terms with a major loss. The grief may come and go and a grieving colleague will have good and bad days. Sometimes we feel that we’re managing well. Other times we can be surprised by strong feelings of grief that come out of nowhere. Speaking at the launch of the IHF initiative, ICTU general secretary David Begg said it was impossible to underestimate the value of supportive colleagues and workmates. “Their understanding can prove critical in helping people cope with their loss and with the demands of the workplace, which can seem daunting in the aftermath of bereavement. I think managers and employers may sometimes take that support for granted and I’d urge them to be proactive in helping foster and maintain a more understanding culture in the workplace,” he said l


Your career

Plan now for better balance Don’t leave work-life balance to chance. If you want change, you need to plan says ISOBEL BUTLER. ARE YOU being pulled in too many directions? Neglecting what’s really important? Is there a niggling voice in your head saying you’re not achieving what you want to? All of these are signs that your life lacks balance. It may be time to step back, reflect, and re-balance your life. Life balance means focusing on all important aspects of life – happiness, work, family, interests, health, exercise, relaxation, personal development, education, aspirations and the need to earn an income – and ensuring that some don’t take over at the expense of others. All aspects of life are interconnected and negatives in one area impact negatively on other areas. The stress, frustration and resentment that can accompany long working hours to meet career or financial needs impact negatively on job performance as well as family life, personal happiness and health. The spill-over effect works for positives too. Physical fitness and associated well-being impacts positively on happiness and alertness, enabling us to manage conflicting demands better. Greater self-confidence empowers problem solving and willingness to constructively raise ideas that might improve work efficiency, invigorate, relieve stress and enhance satisfaction.

Dear diary Start rebalancing today, but recognise it’s a process not a oneoff event. You need to revisit and review as the demands of life, work, self and family change and are reflected in changed priorities. Keep a daily diary for a week and record everything you spend your time and energy on. At the end of each day reflect on what’s really important to you and record this on a second page. At the end of the week, examine the ‘important’ list. Have you covered all important needs in your life? Do your activities reflect your values and priorities? 20


Now re-write your list prioritising honestly. Admit it if financial priorities are currently your highest, but also include other life priorities currently being ignored. Compare your two lists to see if you’re spending too much time and energy on non-priorities and identify changes you can make to bring more balance to your life.

Time poverty If you simply don’t have time for all your priorities, you’re suffering from time poverty. But it can be improved. Limit non-priority items each day and examine time-wasting activities. Spending hours on social media or games? Not problematic if these are priorities, but set time limits on these activities if they’re not. Can you free up time by pooling resources with others? Alternating school runs with friends frees up time for exercise. If activities expand to consume all available time, try setting a time limit on priority tasks that need to be done to free up time for relaxation and other priorities. ‰

Reschedule Now reschedule your time. Take a blank week planner and reconstruct your daily schedule. Start with priority items that must happen at fixed times then time plan for your other top priorities, replacing time-waster activities with priorities that you would prefer to do. Learn to put boundaries between priority activities, between work and non-work activities, between family time and personal time. Blurring of boundaries is fine if it’s your choice. But if its slippage, you’ll find that one priority eats up the time put aside for others. Also look ahead. Are there things you aspire to do but haven’t started? Current pressures may restrict immediate action, but plan for the time when pressures will abate. Sit down and talk with those who may be affected and develop a plan. This might involve starting retraining, planning a return to work or education, or saving for that next stage. Now put your plan into practice. Remember, balance is dynamic and involves being responsive to change. So put another date in your diary to review your plan l

Better balance Focus on your priorities.

“The stress, frustration and resentment that can accompany long working hours impact negatively on job performance as well as family life, personal happiness and health.” Instead of spending all evening cleaning, set a time limit and focus on the must- dos. Ensure household tasks are shared by all – even young children can help. It’s fairer, faster, less draining and turns domestic time into family time. Find time for exercise by combining it with something else. Walk, cycle or run to work. And don’t set your standards too high or pressurise yourself with perfectionism. Be prepared to be good enough and move on to the next priority. Greater workplace efficiency and effectiveness may be achieved through discussion and problem

Don’t sacrifice one priority over another. Don’t put happiness on hold. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Seek out time-wasting activities and plan to stop doing them.

Priorities change with age, so what is balance when you are younger may not work in later years. Talk to your manager about greater flexibility, but remember this also impacts on your team and be open to compromise.

Make some time for neglected priorities each day.

Financial pressures also change. What may not be possible today might be able to be doable in a few years.

Look at short and long-term balance.

Start today and feel better sooner.

Isobel Butler is an independent organisational psychologist who works with people on a wide range of workplace issues including conflict management, dealing with change and solving problems. If there are specific issues you’d like her to tackle in these articles send them in via the editor, Work & Life magazine, Nerney’s Court, Dublin 1 or WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 21


solving with managers and team members. Developing a new skill can improve ability and save time. Are you a two-finger typist whose job involves writing? Time invested in mastering touch typing pays back in efficiency.

Looking good

Forever in: Blue jeans Back in? Denim never really went away, says TRISH O’MAHONY. The trick is finding the perfect fit for you. I TOLD my editor I was going to write about denim for this issue because it’s back in. “I didn’t know it was gone out,” he replied, casting a quizzical eye down at his genuinely vintage, much loved, Levis. That’s a fair enough assessment of the relevance of this much-loved fabric. Denim always had, and always will have, a loyal following. But this is the year to invest if you want to be on the fashion bandwagon. Every colour under the sun has been on offer for the last few years, but for 2014 the colour span is once again dominated by blue. The fabric offers comfortable, relaxed, functional dressing that’s versatile and potentially smart too. For men it works equally well for occasional wear or – with a shirt and sports jacket or cardigan – as an alternative to a suit. It’s practical and the more you wear it, the nicer it becomes. Jeans didn’t always have the status of fashionable garb, though. There was a time when you wouldn’t wear denim to certain bars and nightclubs, let alone work. Until relatively recently it was positioned at the scruffy end of casual. The modern use of the word ‘jeans’ comes from the French word for Genoa, the Italian port city that produced the first denim trousers in the mid-1800s. The product was quickly copied and claimed by the French in Nimes – hence the word ‘denims’ or de Nimes. It wasn’t long before Levis Strauss brought the stuff to America and it soon became the world’s favourite utility wear, worn by hardworking sailors, farmers, factory hands, cowboys and miners. I wonder did those Italian sailors ever envisage it adorning the 2014 spring-summer catwalks out of the fashion powerhouses of Miu Miu, Prada and Victoria Beckham.

Street style

Denim shirt dress (Next).

Printed biker jacket (Next).



Monochrome coat, Lace Sweater, Skinny Jeans and Ankle Boots (Long Tall Sally).

These days, dressing is about looking like you haven’t tried too hard. All the better if you really don’t try too hard, and denim is a key to that look. Look to street style at Milan, New York and London fashion weeks for inspiration. ‰

Vogue fashion features director Sarah Harris reckons denim now appeals to every woman, for every occasion, when “executed in printed patchwork silks, juxtaposed with indigo sequins or woven with gilt chains.” Think super-sized turnups, shredded cuffs, dungarees, boiler suits, denim shirt dresses and pinafores. Wear a denim jacket over a denim shirt. Putting different shades of denim together in a shirt-jacket, or jeans-shirt combination is very on trend.

Help wanted? There’s a style of jeans to suit every age, gender, body shape and weight. But knowing which style suits you best is easier said than done. Bootcut, skinny, drainpipes, straight, boyfriend, or flare? Too many choices, not enough time – and it’s hard work dedicating a Saturday afternoon trawling the shops trying to decide.

“Think super-sized turn-ups, shredded cuffs, dungarees, boiler suits, denim shirt dresses and pinafores. Putting different shades of denim together in a shirt-jacket, or jeans-shirt combination is very on trend.”

Collection bracelet (M&S). Weave box clutch (Next). TROPIC Wedge Heel Buckle Platform Sandal Shoes (L&S Fashion).

But there’s no excuse anymore with the dedicated website for denim hunters Simply fill out a questionnaire about your ‘body type,’ measurements and budget and they offer you a selection of styles to suit you. I was really pleased with their recommendations, with prices ranging from £45 to £95. Now all I have to do is purchase.

Most of the styles they offer are on the high street so, if you must try them on first, you can head off armed with the necessary information. Alternatively buy online. If you’re heading to the UK, Selfridges have a state-ofthe-art body scanning machine which will, apparently, create a customised pair of jeans especially for your body shape.

Outlandish Denim jeans range in price from very cheap to outlandish, with plenty of stops in between. You won’t break the bank by getting your denim boiler suit or dungarees in Penney’s for €17. Boyfriend jeans are a snip at €15. Girlfriend jeans are the more feminine version and, if you find boyfriend style a little too bulky, these are perfect for petite and apple body shapes. According to Gloss magazine, Victoria Beckham’s designer denims are the most flattering of the boyfriend styles. They’ll set you back a cool €350 and are stocked exclusively in BT2. You’ll pay too for brands that offer clever seams and panelling, promising a curvier shape – 7 for All Mankind is a mid-priced range with a dedicated discount shop in Kildare village. Cuffed and boyfriend jeans work as casual wear. Bootcut is the most flattering style for most body types. Jeggings are as stylish as jeans and as comfortable as leggings. Wear your preferred style by day with blouse, blazer and flat pumps for a smart-casual event, or trainers for a laid back look. By night, wear your favourite denims with a sequinned top and oversized jewellery.

Blue Denim Shirt, Sainsbury’s.

Wear statement shoes for attitude, or ankle boots for comfort. Wear a crossbody bag in a primary colour to put your 2014 stamp on it. If you like a bigger bag, a backpack or satchel will do the trick too. Day or night, summer or winter, choose well and your denim will work hard for you, forever l

F&F Suit jacket and jeans (Tescos).


In the kitchen

Apport th Portion distortion is making us fat. But MARGARET HANNIGAN has some transformative tips. IT’S FAIR to say that, as a species prone to wearing tight trousers and short skirts, we’re getting larger and larger. Not just taller, but also very, very wide. We seem to be hitting a plateau where we stand still and spread out much earlier in life – sometimes before puberty – and, increasingly, well before the traditional middle-aged slump. Scientists, doctors, nutritionists and women of all ages are engaged in a raging debate as to the causes of this increase in our body mass index. But there doesn’t appear to be a single simple remedy. For many years now, women have tried the guilt-and-spanx approach, where you eat loads, feel bad, and stuff yourself into sucky-in pants to try and pretend it never happened. Men are fonder of outright denial, which apparently also works outstandingly well for hair loss and bad dancing. Overweight children are forced into bad clothes while they watch their features disappear and daydream about being old enough to join a gym. Old and young look older when they’re fat, and fat loves company. Ten pounds over will always want another two to join it, and so it goes. So here’s a suggestion. Why not eat less of everything? Why not try portion control?

Is this normal?


We tend to greatly overestimate the amount we need to eat each day. This is partly because portion sizes at home and in restaurants have gradually increased over the last 20 years, affecting our perception of what a normal portion is. Larger sizes and portions in restaurants appeal to our desire to get value for money, not to mention our greed. They are also good for business. We’ve come to view this portion distortion as the norm, even though we know that what the body doesn’t need is often stored as fat. This part of our genetic make-up has close links to the time our ancestors spent hiding in caves from bears. Way back then they only had their summer fat for warmth, and nothing to do except compare foreheads. But now we all have beautiful foreheads, or hairdressers to hide them, and the bears live in another country. So we can roam freely and graze on salad. ‰ 24


ioning e blame The answer is in your hands. A portion of protein should be about 3ozs per serving, per meal. That’s about the size of the palm of your hand, or if you have very large or very small hands, it’s about the size of a pack of playing cards.

Fist full A fist-sized portion of rice, pasta or other grains is sufficient, while a jacket potato should be the size of a computer mouse. Like a computer mouse, it should also be free of dollops of butter, cheese or sour cream. That way you get the vitamins C and B6 and not the muffin top.

Sweet potato curry

Here’s a recipe for a vegetable curry because nearly all of us need more veg. Serves six. l 1 onion l 1 tbsp vegetable oil l 4 cloves garlic

“A jacket potato should be the size of a computer mouse. Like a computer mouse, it should also be free of dollops of butter, cheese or sour cream.”

l 2.5cm piece fresh ginger l 2 tsps ground coriander l 2 tsps ground cumin l Half-1 tsp cayenne pepper, depending on how hot you want it l 1 level tsp turmeric l 1 400g tin chopped tomatoes l 4 medium sweet potatoes l 1 cauliflower l 1 400g tin coconut milk l 100g cashew nuts l Salt and pepper

A portion of cheese should be the size of a nine-volt battery (that’s the smoke alarm one) while one serving of vegetables is about the size of a baseball, but you can eat as many of those as you want. Using these visual cues will quickly give you a sense of how much is too much. Or, just mentally divide your plate in quarters. Half should be salad or vegetables, one quarter protein, and one quarter carbohydrates. And think about using a smaller plate.

Heart Here’s something else to consider. Apparently your stomach is the size of your two fists pressed together thumb to thumb, so it really isn’t designed to hold as much as you thought. Also, your heart is about the size of a single fist, which is certainly much smaller than I imagined and makes it much harder to expect it to carry an extra cabin bag worth of weight around every day. These proportions apply to kids as well. You’re not giving them more goodness by giving them more food. You’re just giving them more than they can comfortably handle, and possibly long-term health problems l

Peel and roughly chop the onion and fry for five minutes in a large saucepan. Peel and grate the garlic and ginger, add and fry for one minute. Add spices and cook for a further two minutes until fragrant. Add the tomatoes, and peeled and cubed sweet potatoes, and cook for around 30 minutes adding water if it seems to be drying out. Cut the cauliflower into florets and add to the pan with coconut milk. Put the lid on and simmer for around eight minutes or until soft. Gently toast the cashew nuts in a dry frying pan. Season to taste and add nuts just before serving. You can also add peas, spinach or fresh coriander for colour. Serve with rice and a blob of yogurt. WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 25

pot herbs Basil This annual is a hugely popular culinary herb, which is used in pesto, salads, soups, stews and more. It’s very easy to germinate. Sow the seeds indoors at intervals (don’t use your whole packet of seeds in one go!) right through spring and early summer. Basil is particularly intolerant of Irish damp soils, so it’s best grown in a pot in full sun or, better still, indoors. In summer it bears small creamy flowers in the leaf axils. Leaves can be regularly harvested as the basil grows to avoid the plant getting leggy. This herb has sedative and antispasmodic properties, making it an excellent aid to digestion.


Rosemary is a wonderful garden plant, thriving in poor well-drained soil and a sunny position. Traditionally it was a symbol of friendship, love and fidelity, and also has many cosmetic and medicinal uses. We’re well familiar with its culinary uses, especially with grilled or roast lamb. Propagate from semi-ripe cuttings in July and August. Rosemary has a very long flowering period and will never fail to attract bees into the garden.

Rocket This tough little annual is very easy to grow and, unlike the previous examples, it will thrive very well when sown outdoors. After germination, thin out the seedlings if too thickly sown. It’s a strong smelling plant with coarsely toothed leaves, well known for their strong peppery flavour – a popular addition to salads and stir fries. Rocket bears creamy yellow flowers until early autumn. Harvest the leaves regularly as rocket is quick to bolt and set seed.


Photos by

This perennial herb has a large spindle root, bright green feathery leaves and clusters of yellow flowers in summer, which the beneficial predator hoverflies (those who feed on the baddies) find irresistible. Fennel is a very attractive garden plant reaching a height of 2.5 feet, the whole plant having a faint smell of anise. It’s a popular culinary herb, especially in oily fish dishes. Fennel also has numerous medicinal uses and is prescribed for stomach pains, kidney disorders and anaemia. Remove the seeds heads before they ripen to avoid baby fennel plants popping up all around the garden.

Ita Patton is a craft gardener in the National Botanic Gardens. O



Travel and trips

Belfast: A touch of WHEN I last visited Belfast in 1994, the city had four hotels. Twenty years on, that’s risen to over 40. It’s just one of many ways in which the city’s changed utterly for residents and visitors alike.

Trish O’Mahony and Martina O’Leary on the SS Nomadic

Haven’t been to Belfast for a while? You’ll be surprised at what you find there in days like these. MARTINA O’LEARY and TRISH O’MAHONY were.



A two-hour drive from Dublin brings you right into the heart of a Belfast completely transformed by the 2008 addition of Victoria Square shopping centre, which regenerated the southern quarter of the city centre. This is the place to shop ‘til you drop, catch a movie or go for a drink and a bite to eat. The viewing dome at the top of the centre offers

spectacular views of the city and its environs. We arrived on a wet and cold February afternoon and our first port of call was the must-see Titanic experience in the docks area, housed in an iconic sixfloor building whose breathtaking exterior houses interactive galleries tells the story of the doomed liner and maritime Belfast.

Boomtown Take in boomtown Belfast, the construction and launch of the Titanic and its maiden voyage, from Southampton, Cherbourg and Cobh, through to its tragic north Atlantic demise in April 1912. You get a real sense of the style and class of the day; all fine for those in first and second class, not so good if you were in third. Across the dock is the only surviving White Star Line ship in the world, Titanic’s little sister SS Nomadic. Built in Belfast, she started her working life as the tender to the Titanic ferrying passengers from the Cherbourg dock to the main ship. After seeing service in World War 2, she ended up as a night-club on the Seine before being restored to her original glory back home in the historic Hamilton dock. ‰

class It was great to go from the Titanic exhibition straight onto a ship to see the elegance of the first class area, where you can dress-up in period costume. It’s a lovely experience and doesn’t take too long – the full tour lasts about 50 minutes. We were pushed for time, so our excellent guide Pete gave us the speedier version. Well worth a visit.

Black cab tour The highlight of our trip was the black cab tour around the Falls, Shankill and Antrim Road areas. Brilliant, informative and moving, it takes in the sometimes sad, sometimes aggressive, murals on both sides of the peace wall, which still separates many Catholic and Protestant communities. The West Belfast Mural Tours excursion also revealed some hidden parts of Belfast including a Sir John Lavery painting hanging in Saint Patrick’s Church on Donegal Street. Our guide Gerald McLaughlin was a mine of information as we drove up as far as Belfast Castle and around areas of the city you’d be unlikely to visit on your own. Definitely recommend.

Cathedral Quarter The tourist board compares the upand-coming Cathedral Quarter to Dublin’s Temple Bar. Regenerated, yes,

but it’s far more sophisticated and has a really nice feel, though we only had time to see it during the day. Saint Anne’s Square boasts the MAC (Metropolitan Arts Centre) at one end and a great choice of restaurants – one nicer than the other – on its other three sides. Ideal for coffee or a glass of wine in summer. The MAC is Belfast’s newest creative arts venue exhibiting the best of local and international talent. There are plenty of other places to visit, including Crumlin Road jail, Belfast zoo, and Saint George’s market across from the Waterfront area within walking distance of Victoria Centre. One of Belfast’s oldest attractions, it’s been named the UK’s best large indoor market this year. It holds a Friday variety market, the city food and craft market on Saturdays, and a Sunday market too.

Out on the town Belfast has so many great bars and restaurants, so just ask one of the many friendly and well-informed cab drivers if you’re not sure where to head. We tried a pub called the Dirty Onion, which looks like a derelict building from the first floor up, but is pretty cool inside. With a big open fire, cosy atmosphere and friendly staff, it has a limited menu of baked potato during the day and rotisserie-style chicken at night. We also tried the Cloth Ear, a really relaxed bar attached to the upmarket Merchant hotel, which has been awarded AA Hotel of the Year for Northern Ireland. The five star establishment is situated in the heart of Belfast’s historic Cathedral Quarter. Later that evening we tried The Garrick bar in Chichester Street, a small old-

Cathedral Quarter

time watering hole slightly off the beaten track, which offers low-key traditional music. Not bad. That evening we ate in the awardwinning James Street South restaurant, which majors on local seasonal produce cooked with classic French technique and flair. What can we say? Excellent food and attentive service, plus a great value pre-theatre menu at £18.50. Slightly pricy off the a la Carte menu, but worth it for a special treat. The Bar & Grill next door has a more laidback vibe and was busy for a Wednesday evening. The following day we had lunch in the Potted Hen Bistro, in the Cathedral Quarter. Nice food, reasonably priced, service not as friendly as we had become used to since arriving in the North, but polite all the same. Belfast offers so much to do and experience and one night wasn’t really enough. Although we can’t wait to go back, it has to be said that the Sterling just didn’t go far enough, which made things a bit expensive l City Hall

Getting your bearings General:

Titanic Belfast:

SS Nomadic:

Black cab tours:

Cathedral Quarter:

The MAC:


Be good to yourself

Life after

About 20% of us will be clinically depressed at some time in our lives. TONY BATES says it’s important to trust our experience as there’s generally a very good reason why we feel the way we do. DEPRESSION IS characterised by a particular set of changes in how we think, feel and behave. Our physical well-being is often affected and our sleep and energy levels are disturbed. The primary symptoms are extreme self-criticism, no selfconfidence, indecisiveness and an inability to concentrate. Our feelings are often haunted by sadness, fear, confusion, guilt, shame and a desperate feeling of being stuck. Physically, we have little or no energy and take no pleasure in things that in the past provided comfort and enjoyment. When we’re depressed we shrink back inside our shell, withdraw from others and tend to put off various jobs we feel under pressure to do. Then we get a catch-22 situation, blaming ourselves again for being useless, inadequate and unlovable. Many people experience childhood difficulties that trouble them in adulthood. Loss, separation, neglect or abuse can result in trauma. We may try to push it into the deepest recesses of our minds. But painful experiences like relationship breakdown, unemployment, debt or loss can trigger deep insecurities and fears, and we become vulnerable to depression.

Coping Although it sounds counterintuitive, it’s important to move towards our inner experience rather than reject and push away what we’re feeling. Sorrows come up for any number of reasons, but depression only really takes hold when we blame ourselves for the way we feel.



We have to consciously practice being kind to ourselves. Kindness to self is the most powerful anti-depressant and it’s the hardest thing to do when we’re feeling down. We are so full of ‘shoulds’. We need to keep asking, what’s manageable for me right now? What would help me to feel calm right now? Setting the fire, walking the dog or putting on a wash may be all you can achieve – and that’s enough for the day. Language also helps us put order on what feels chaotic. Talking to someone allows us to get some perspective on our lives. We see ourselves in a new way and remember what makes us want to give our lives a chance. We need to stop sometimes and pay attention to what’s happening in the present moment. While we may be doing many different things to overcome depression, we also need quiet moments where we stop trying to fix ourselves and accept whatever we are feeling without judging ourselves. The path to recovery always begins with the place you are in right now. But for many of us, it is hard to stop and take time to step into the present moment. Our minds are always on the way to somewhere else. We blast through our days and weeks, living somewhere in the past or the future a lot of the time. Living this way can be exhausting. X

depression Positive mental health involves three core elements. First is self esteem – knowing and believing in myself. I’m good enough and smart enough and I have people who like me. Second is belonging – knowing my place in the world. Third is having something to do that matters to me.

Inner-critic Leading a useful life is not about perfection or cast-iron confidence. We may need to soften the inner critic in our head and remember how far we’ve come and what we have already survived. We often regard depression as something wrong, which we must fix at all costs. I think depression is not about a broken part in us. It’s an opportunity to grow through facing the stresses and vulnerabilities in our lives. And one of the fringe benefits of depression is that when we heal, we become more fully alive. Often more so than people who’ve never experienced the depths of suffering O

Mental health checklist You could be experiencing depression if you answer ‘yes’ to one of the first two questions and four or more of the rest.

• I have been feeling down most of the time. • I get no pleasure from things that normally mean a lot to me.

• I feet tired all the time. • I can’t concentrate or remember details. • I have lost weight quite dramatically. • My sleep is disturbed and doesn’t leave me feeling rested.

• I’m more irritable than usual. • I’ve lost confidence in my ability to make decisions. • My thoughts are mostly self-critical and gloomy. • I feel guilty without really knowing why. • I feel sensations in my body that trouble me, • I have thoughts of killing myself.

Dr Tony is the founding director of Headstrong, the national centre for youth mental health. Headstrong is a non-profit organisation committed to changing how Ireland thinks about young people’s mental health. Headstrong’s Jigsaw is a coalition of HSE, youth services, community partnerships and state agencies that provides free, accessible, timely and youth-friendly mental health services. Jigsaw is currently in operation in Galway, Roscommon, Meath, Kerry, Donegal, Offaly, Tallaght, Clondalkin, Dublin 15 and North Fingal.



Photos by

From Tony Bates, Coming Through Depression, published by Gill & Macmillan O

At the movies

Everybody’s animated now MORGAN O’BRIEN knows why animation is now the movie form of choice for kids and adults alike. THE CURRENT critical praise and box office success of Mr Peabody and Sherman and The Lego Movie showcase the appeal of animated films to a wider cross-generational audience. Over the last couple of decades, animated features have become cinema staples. The emergence of animated feature films from kid’s fare to wider significance and merit is, in large part, down to the success of Pixar, which has held a sometimes fraught production relationship with Disney. Disney has long been the major player in the production of animated features. But from the mid-1990s Pixar laid down the gauntlet by producing a series of hugely successful features including Toy Story, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. While more intermittent in the overall quality of its output, Dreamworks also scored hits with the Shrek series. Disney had enjoyed major successes in the early 1990s with The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast, which was nominated for a best picture Oscar. But it was Pixar, under the guidance of former Disney employees John Lasseter and Brad Bird, which brought new levels of depth to the storytelling within animated films. While rightly celebrated for the sophistication of its animation, it’s the ability to present stories that chime with audiences that’s behind Pixar’s near flawless output.

Emotional One of the most important influences on the studio’s approach has been the Japanese animated production company Studio Ghibli, which Lasseter cites as a major reference point for his work. Studio Ghibli has a long-held use of traditional animation while Pixar uses computer graphics. But both share a focus on stories that resonate with emotional heft. Ghibli and its co-founder Hayao Miyazaki have also benefited from the growing audience for animated features, finding success with Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away (which won best animated film Oscar), Howl’s Moving Castle and Ponyo. 32


Pixar’s most significant achievement is its production of animated films that touch on themes and ideas that make them more than just kids’ cartoons. The Toy Story films are perhaps the most consistent of any film trilogies and are more films about childhood than films for children. All the best animated films are films for kids with some jokes that appeal to adults, but these go beyond that.

Oscar This is most evident in films like Wall-E and Up, which was only the second animated film nominated for a best picture Oscar. Both extended the possibilities of animated filmmaking with Wall-E’s opening section almost entirely rendered without dialogue. The prologue and coda in Up constitute some of the most emotive film sequences in recent memory. Thematically both are embroidered with more mature themes of environmental disaster, consumerism and ageing. This sophistication of animation and storytelling has left audiences increasingly open to the animated feature film. The success of The Lego Movie, which might initially have appeared as at best preposterous or at worst a cynical marketing gesture, is down to the quality of the filmmaking on show. While it will no doubt help sell plenty of Lego, the film has been celebrated for being a riotous barrage of absurdist humour and comic one-liners wrapped in a plot about creativity and corporatism l

“While rightly celebrated for the sophistication of its animation, it’s the ability to present stories that chime with audiences that’s behind Pixar’s near flawless output. The prologue and coda in Up constitute some of the most emotive film sequences in recent memory.”

Screening near you Noah (4th April)

The F Word (2nd May)

Russell Crowe stars as the eponymous patriarch and boat builder in Darren Aronofsky’s biblical epic. Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins and Emma Watson also feature.

Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan star in this romantic comedy about a man who befriends a woman he’s become infatuated with.

The Double (4th April)

Lenny Abrahamson directs as Michael Fassbender dons the papiermaché head in this loose adaptation of the Frank Sidebottom character. Domhnall Gleeson stars as a musician who joins Frank’s band.

Actor turned director Richard Ayoade follows his well-received debut Submarine with an adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s novella about a man (Jesse Eisenberg) whose life is usurped by a doppelganger.

Calvary (11th April) Writer-director John Michael McDonagh reunites with The Guard star Brendan Gleeson, who plays a priest who’s threatened in confession and forced to confront dark forces. Amazing Spider-Man 2 (18th April) Increasingly confusing to keep track of, this sequel in the rebooted series sees Andrew Garfield return as the titular webslinger to do battle with Electro, the Green Goblin and Rhino.

Transcendence (25th April) Oscar-winning cinematographer Wally Pfister makes his directorial debut about an artificial intelligence researcher who wants to become part of a machine. Johnny Depp, Morgan Freeman, Rebecca Hall and Paul Bettany star.

Frank (9th May)

The Two Faces of January (16th May) Oscar Isaac plays a tour guide drawn into murderous intrigue by a wealthy couple (Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst). Novelist Hossein Amini makes his directorial debut with this adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s novel.

Godzilla (16th May) Gareth Edwards follows his low budget debut Monsters with a blockbuster reworking of the titular monster’ story. Aaron TaylorJohnson, Elizabeth Olsen and Bryan Cranston feature.

XMen: Days of Future Past (23rd May) Characters from the original X-Men trilogy, including Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan, unite with the cast of X-Men: First Class, including James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, for a battle across two time periods. WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 33

Play it loud

Credit to the lads RAYMOND CONNOLLY sorts out the sheep from the goats in the musical acclaim game. lor. While addressing his players in advance of yet another crucial encounter with Poland, Graham pointed out that the Polish players had difficulty focussing. “Some of their players’ attention spans are even worse than yours,” he opined encouragingly. Neal’s helpful response “Yes boss.” Cue a piano in need of shifting and an invitation to join the Foreign Legion.

Contentious Correctly awarding acclaim can be a very difficult and contentious matter, at least if you’re in my company. Would suchand-such ever have been achieved without the influence of so-and-so? Not many of us are Thomas Edison, who had his very own take on what HR managers might today call being outcome-focussed. “Results? I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that don’t work,” he is said to have said. Many Jagger-Richards detractors contend that Brian Jones never got the credit he deserved. “Paint It Black has Jones written all over it,” they scream. Just for clarification, it doesn’t. Marianne Faithful recalls that Jones wrote the music for Ruby Tuesday but, as they say, if you can remember the 1960s you weren’t there. And Marianne was certainly there.

Rhianna Fenty

Photos: Getty Images

I’VE HEARD from many experts, armchair and pub alike, that Brian Clough would have been nothing without his sidekick Peter Taylor. Whilst this duo was a fantastic football coaching combination, the theory itself is poppycock. Following Taylor’s departure, Clough enjoyed a sustained period of relative success as Nottingham Forest boss. Granted, the Clough-Taylor European Cup successes were never repeated. But one must remember that this is Nottingham, where the local archery team relied way too heavily on Robin Hood. One could compare and contrast Peter Taylor’s influence as a sidekick with that of Phil Neal during his unremarkable stint as assistant to England boss Graham ‘do I not like that’ Tay34


By contrast, there is a tendency for Clashites to solely eulogise Joe Strummer although, on a good day, Mick Jones might get a look in. The more astute would say that drummer Topper Headon should take much of the acclaim. After all he did write the music for Rock The Casbah and playing drums, bass and piano on this, the band’s biggest selling single. I’m with the numpties on this one. Go on Topper, my son. In a similar vein, many fondly recall the mighty Slade as Noddy Holder, Dave Hill and the two other blokes. One of those other blokes was Jim Lea, who wrote the music, played bass, piano, violin, stylophone and the hot tap on the kitchen sink. In the barometer of acclaim Jim was definitely shortchanged. In the case of U2, many attribute the song writing to Mssrs Hewson and Edge. This simply tells me that the other two clearly understand the wisdom of disassociation.

Fenty and Knowles In more recent times (what are they, I hear you ask?) there has been much debate and consternation over where acclaim should lie with the likes of Rihanna Fenty (aka Rihanna) and Beyonce Knowles (ah you guessed it!). Frank Ocean, who does ‰

oodles of work for the latter, doesn’t seem too put out about a public lack of credit. “Writers just say no, unless it’s Beyonce lol.” Apparently Rihanna is heavily involved in her own song writing and, in any event, I’m not sure they would get overly stressed about such petty squabbles in Barbados. It must have been truly wonderful to share acclaim in equal measure as with Chas’n’Dave. Apparently they met at a Spurs supporters club meeting and there was nobody else to talk to. But hey, what a partnership. The actress Kate Beckinsale once observed: “If someone had told me years ago that sharing a sense of humour was so vital to partnerships I could have avoided a lot of sex.”

Thomas Edison had his very own take on what HR managers might today call being outcome-focussed. “I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that don’t work.”

Doing a Bez The Irish soccer team used to refer to a diabolical performance as a ‘Macedonia’ in reference to a particularly woeful collective outing. The New Musical Express once described band participants who contributed nothing to the cause as doing a ‘Bez’ in honour, of course, of the curiously legendary Mark Berry of The Happy Mondays. The Bez award was also bestowed on the likes of Paul Rutherford of Frankie Goes to Hollywood and the great Andrew Ridgely of Wham fame. Apparently Ridgely asked George Michael to wake him up when it was all over but sadly it never happened. At the end of the day acclaim is superficial and it is the wellbeing of the inner self that’s important. Who cares about perception? There once was a famous band called Wings. Mr and Mrs Paul and Linda McCartney no less, aided and abetted by Denny Laine. Sorry? Who? He wrote lots of the music and played lots of the music. And all to no acclaim. Now there’s something to mull over l

5 great sidekicks Name: Richard Parfitt of Status Quo Sidekick to: Francis Rossi of Status Quo Verdict: We only know one trick. But what a trick. Name: Mick Ronson Sidekick to: David Bowie and practically everyone else in the 1970s and 1980s Verdict: You’ll never steal the limelight if you call your solo album Heaven and Hull. Name: Roger Daltrey Sidekick to: Pete Townshend Verdict: “If you're going to play guitar, you're better off being a brick layer than a sheet metal worker.” Cheers Roger. That clears that up nicely. Name: Chris Lowe, Pet Shop Boy Sidekick to: Neil Tenant, Pet Shop Boy Verdict: No expression. Never moved. Must be creative genius.

Name: Emu Sidekick to: Rod Hull Verdict: Not a note in his beak but managed to make Gaybo lose it on air. Legend.

Beyonce Knowles

Spring-Summer 2014 solution

(From page 46.)

5 kids in the side Name: Andrew Ridgely Sidekick to: George Michael Verdict: Wake me up when it’s all over. Name: Chas Sidekick to: Dave Verdict: Snooker loopy nuts are we... Name: Dave Sidekick to: Chas Verdict: and him and him and me. Name: Any clinical psychiatrist Sidekick to: John Ozzy Osbourne Verdict: Analyse that. Name: Orville Sidekick to: Keith Harris Verdict: Unclear who had the bigger pain in the ass.

Spring 2014 Crossword Solutions See page 46 for the competition winners from Issue 24.

ACROSS: 1. Holly 5. Paper 8. America 9. Lover 10. Ripen 11. Dancers 14. Ousts 17. Eerie 20. Reverbs 21. Biro 22. Silt 23. Nailbrush 24. Adios 27. Utter 30. Hedgers 32. Nappy 33. Unrig 34. Leather 35. Salty 36. Yacht. DOWN: 1. Hello 2. Lives 3. Yards 4. Eric 5. Parse 6. Piper 7. Rinse 12. Neverland 13. Elaborate 15. Untried 16. Toronto 18. Earshot 19. Isolate 24. Aunts 25. Impel 26. Shyly 27. Usury 28. Taroc 29. Right 31. Gate


Photo: Dylan Vaughan

Author interview

Dublin’s dark side ROB DOYLE’s new novel treads the dark side of extreme and insane violence. “I’M ALWAYS thinking about writing. It’s on my mind first thing in the morning until last thing at night.” So says Dublin-born Rob Doyle, whose first novel has just been published. Set in Dublin in 2003, Here Are The Young Men is about a bunch of lads who’ve just finished the leaving cert. “They are unhappy, alienated, dissatisfied. They are very much adrift from mainstream society and don’t feel part of the culture around them,” explains Rob. Obsessed by media and videogame violence, the group comes under the malignant control of Kearney, which leads them into “hellish extremes and insane violence” around Dublin and its suburbs. “I’ve never seen anything like this published in an Irish novel. It’s going to be interesting to see how it how it goes down with the public,” he adds. Rob travelled extensively through Asia, South America and Europe after getting a first-class philosophy degree and a masters in psychoanalysis from Trinity College. While travelling and living abroad in London, Italy and the USA, he began to take his writing very seriously and last year clinched a two-book deal with Dublin’s Lilliput Press. “I signed the book deal in October and then settled in Rosslare. It’s a good place to get work done, doing the final edits to the book while getting some inspiration for my other writing.”

“When I was younger I had a grim and troubled view of the world. Back then it was hard to deal with. You think about the worse possible scenario and it leads to a fascination to all types of horror which, in this book, is embodied in the character of Kearney. There are no moral breaks to stop him from doing what he does.” Is there any light at the end of the tunnel for the lads? “I don’t want to give the ending away, but things get bad for all of them. Things reach pitch black before there’s any hope of redemption. There is a possibility of hope for some at the end.” Rob doesn’t want to stick with the same genre. “Some writers find a template and do it again and again. I don’t want to do that. It won’t really cater to all my interests. I like autobiographical writing, short stories, fiction and non-fiction.”

“I’ve never seen anything like this published in an Irish novel. It’s going to be interesting to see how it how it goes down with the Irish public.” His second book will be a short story collection. “I think this is most of my best work. It doesn’t fit the classical Irish short story. I’m really excited about it,” he says. Interview by Martina O’Leary.

Passion Writing is obviously Rob’s first passion. “Everything else in my life is positioned to back the writing, which is primary. I put it to the foremost in my life. My time is given to thinking, reading, researching and writing,” he says. The book is dark and I ask Rob if he sees himself as a dark person. “I don’t think I am. I’ve always had a fascination – I still do to some degree – with extreme people and extreme evil and why people perpetrate evil acts. I’ve met people who can only be described as evil and are unapologetic about it.



Win a copy You could win a copy of

Here are the Young Men Simply send your answer to this question to Here are the Young Men Competition, Roisin Nolan, IMPACT, Nerney’s Court, Dublin 1. Get it to us by Friday 6th June. What city was Rob Doyle born in?

Book reviews

Unsettled traveller This is the Way Gavin Corbett (Fourth Estate, £14.99 in the UK). ANTHONY IS a young man looking for a way forward. All around him, the world is full of people who seem to have come pre-programmed with internal maps and navigational skills that propel them through school, work, love, life, while he remains on the margins trying to find a way in. That he manages his isolation without becoming bitter or cynical is one of the writer’s triumphs in this very unusual, powerful book. Anthony is the product of a marriage between members of the Sonaghans and the Gillaroos, two feuding Traveller families. His father, Aubrey, attempted to break away and live with his family among settled people, but the move didn’t take and the family spilt apart. Anthony remained with Aubrey and becomes more marginalised from both Traveller and settled ways when he loses his job. Although only dimly aware of – and never directly involved in – the past disputes, he’s forced to lie low in Dublin when the feud is rekindled at a funeral. He is soon joined by his uncle Arthur, who is recovering from a botched transplant and several other traumas, and they are befriended by Judith, an academic who collects folklore and stories. She wants to put them in a play, noble savages that they are. What really sets this book apart is the voice of Anthony. There’s such life and loneliness in it, it would break your heart. He is our sole narrator and it’s his emotion and humour that engage the reader. Dialogue in the book is not punctuated, which somehow makes it more intimate like it’s just a very long letter Anthony has written to the reader.

The book avoids falling into the most obvious traps and clichés while acknowledging some, like bare knuckle boxing and religious fervour. While the story could be said to peter out without any great resolution, it remains a standalone experience and the work of a very gifted writer. Margaret Hannigan.

No fairy tale Gingerbread Robert Dinsdale (Borough Press, £14.99 in the UK). SET IN Belarus, this is the story of a little boy who goes to live with his grandfather as his mother is dying. Her last words to her son are to take good care of his ‘papa’ forever, no matter what happens. She also wants her ashes spread at her childhood home in the forest. When the time comes, the grandfather is averse to leaving his city flat and going into the forest, but the little boy is persistent and eventually they go. Once in the forest, however, grandfather doesn’t want to leave and eventually the two end up living wild among the trees. The little boy learns to light fires, hunt and build shelter. He is keeping his promise and his papa is happy. It might sound like a fairytale, but anyone with memories of lying awake after frightening stories of innocent children lost in the woods will have nightmares after this. The little boy’s life is filled with unrelenting hardship. This is Russia and the constant cold is depicted so well that you’ll need to read this in front of the fire or tucked under a duvet. The book is darkly atmospheric and the apprehension grows with each chapter until it becomes a gnawing anxiety. It’s a very unusual story in that it blends what might be a fantasy with a terrible reality. We are not told when the events unfold and we don’t even know the boy’s name until about two-thirds of the way through. On another level, those who know their history will understand the metaphors of the grandfather’s stories and in here also is the awful destruction of humanity by war. Kathryn Smith. More reviews on page 38 ‰ WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 37

More book reviews

Chinese whispers The Bathing Women Tie Ning (Harper Collins, £8.99 in the UK). CHINA’S VASTNESS may partly explain why our understanding of its culture is so opaque. Huge cities packed full of small living spaces and people who live cheek by jowl, but seem to remain detached and self-contained in a way that we don’t in western society. While we idealise individual liberty, in China the welfare of the collective is paramount. The two sisters at the heart of this story are part of the new middle class that has emerged as a growing economic and social force in China over the last decade. This is simply

a given in the story; there is no sub-text arguing for democratic reform or unfettered Google access here. Tie Ning reflects her society impassively without any editorial on its origins or directions. Tiao and Fan were children when the Cultural Revolution was at its peak. Their parents were architects who fell foul of the ruling elite and the children were left to rear themselves while the parents went to a collective farm to endure hard labour and ‘thought reform”.’ When their mother returns she begins an affair with her doctor and gives birth to his daughter. The deception and tension this brought to her life is keenly observed by Tiao and creates a fervent resentment of her half sister Quan, which ultimately ends in tragedy. This period of their lives poisoned their relationship with their parents and each other. Alongside the story of the sisters’ relationship are stories of lovers, friends, losses and death; experiences common to humans everywhere in the world but related here in the voice of a contemporary Chinese woman. A fictional account set in real-time China, this is an important book. The writing is skilled, often lyrical and insightful, but the story veers towards melodrama at times and its credibility wobbles. Margaret Hannigan.

Far too perfect Mother, Mother Koren Zailckas (Harper Collins, £16.99 in the UK). JOSEPHINE HURST seems like the perfect mother. A former teacher, she home-schools her son Will who suffers from epilepsy and has Aspeger’s. Josephine has two other children; difficult and rebellious Violet and Rose, who has run away from home. Although this is a third-person narrative, the character view alternates between Violet and Will. Tension creeps in as you realise how damaged these children are. They have no privacy and what might be seen as love and care is really just control. Josephine constantly criticises and ridicules her children, often sweetly but damaging nonetheless. The perfect family image finally begins to crumble one night when Violet comes home high on drugs. Following a scuffle, Violet is brought to a psychiatric hospital where she’s told that she is being detained for stabbing Will. Violet knows that 38


her mother has lied but is unable to remember exactly what happened or to get anyone to believe her. Violet tries to get her ineffective, alcoholic father to see what is going on but he is also manipulated by Josephine. Looking at life through Violet’s eyes, Rose’s disappearance and Will’s many problems begin to look very sinister. This book is completely engrossing. I really worried for these children and longed to help them. It is very confident writing from a young writer. Although the mother of this story is an appalling creation, she’s very believable and the depiction of three dysfunctional young people is entirely credible and moving. Kathryn Smith.


Violence breeds Venezuelan uncertainty

Photo: Getty Images

While global attention has been fixed on Ukraine, demonstrations and violent confrontation have been fuelling political uncertainty in Venezuela, writes NIALL SHANAHAN. BESET BY economic and political crises in the 1980s and 1990s, Venezuela is no stranger to violent confrontation. Hundreds were killed in the Caracazo riots of 1989, there were two attempted coups in 1992, and President Pérez was impeached for corruption a year later. Later pardoned for his role in leading the coup, Hugo Chávez emerged as President in 1998 and launched his Bolivarian revolution, which introduced a new constituent assembly and constitution. While regarded as a popular leader, Chávez’s time as president was itself beset by many challenges and controversies, including a brief coup in 2002 and a lockout at the state oil company later the same year. He was subsequently re-elected three times and was succeeded by current President Nicolás Maduro when he died last March. In the 12 years since the failed coup against the Chavez government, poverty and unemployment have been reduced and pensions are more widely available. But high inflation and increasing shortages have caused severe problems in the last 18 months, along with escalating crime, particularly homicides.

Polarised What began as a student demonstration about on-campus security in Caracas in February has now developed into something much larger. It’s the worst conflict the country has seen in a decade and it’s polarised the country along familiar lines: The minority of wealthier Venezuelan interests versus Maduro’s democratically-elected government.

Anti-government activists clash with national police during a protest against Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro government in Caracas on March 13, 2014.

coverage of the conflict is clouded with misinformation by some media organisations and misinterpretation by others. Nevertheless, Maduro’s administration has imprisoned a number of protesters as well as Leopoldo López, one of the main leaders from the extreme right of the various opposition groups. In March, Venezuela's congress sought a criminal investigation into opposition deputy Maria Corina Machado for crimes, including treason, over her involvement in the anti-government protests. Machado, a 46-year-old engineer, has been one of the most visible leaders of the recent demonstrations.

Suspicions Machado and Lopez launched a national opposition movement at the start of the year under the banner ‘The Exit,’ which aims to end 15 years of socialist rule. The Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA) has responded to the developing situation with a statement condemning the spiral of violence. TUCA has called on the state authorities to investigate the killings and stressed the democratic right of peaceful protest.

While some commentators have insisted upon comparisons with the situation in Ukraine, others say that Venezuela is simply locked again in a conflict between right and left or, more accurately, rich and poor.

There are widespread suspicions that a strategy to fuel the conflict is being deployed by smaller violent groups, with social and mainstream media being utilised to fuel the unrest. Broadcast media in Venezuela is mostly privately owned, with many media outlets overtly opposed to the Government. They played a key role in the 2002 coup.

It’s been reported that 28 people have been killed in the protests, but a clear picture is difficult to ascertain as

Until some sense of normality returns, it remains an enormously difficult time for the Venezuelan people l WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 39

Union business

Hospital clusters risk warning MAINTAINING NATIONALLY-agreed pay and working conditions in new regional ‘hospital clusters’ is a priority for IMPACT, the union’s Health and Welfare Divisional Council heard recently. The union is also concerned that the range, quality and availability of hospital services is at least maintained in the new system, amid concerns that centralisation will mean patients having to travel long distances to get certain services. The new model, currently being rolled out in the West-North West region, will see the establishment of six large hospital groups nationwide plus the national children’s hospital. Each group will include a range of hospitals providing general

medical, acute care, day surgery and elective inpatient surgery. IMPACT official Richy Carrothers said the union had established a forum for hospital representatives in the WestNorth West region. Representatives from the forum meet with management from the hospital cluster. This approach will be followed in other areas. But maintaining national bargaining is also a priority. “Our main concern is that the pay and working conditions for the staff working in these hospital clusters is set at national level, not by each of the seven individual hospital clusters,” said national secretary Louise O’Donnell.

Graduates galore THE ACHIEVEMENTS of new graduates of the IMPACT workplace representatives’ training programme have been acknowledged at ceremonies in Cork, Galway, Kilkenny and Dublin in recent weeks. Over 300 activists have now completed the training programme, which is helping improve the union’s effectiveness in the workplace. The new initiative stems from a 2011 decision to prioritise training for local reps, and to develop a new form of training more relevant to today’s workplace challenges. The courses – developed and mostly delivered by IMPACT staff – are done on a modular basis, with participants committing to four separate days training in each of two levels. They have been run in Dublin, Cork and Galway, with additional sessions in the midlands, the north-east and the south-east. Feedback from participants has welcomed the participative, discussion and exercisebased modules in areas like communications, dealing with employers, representing members, employment law, building more effective branches, and union structures. An encouraging number of participants have since been elected to branch executive committees, while others have taken on bigger roles in their branches and workplaces. Interested in participating? Find out more from your local official or from Margaret Gorman at



New graduates (left to right) Brian Patrick Henry (Limerick) Fintan Veale (Waterford) Kevin O’Malley (IMPACT president) Peter Connaughton (Agriculture No.1) Larry Lyons (Agriculture No.1) Geraldine Barrett (Tipperary North) Duncan Slater (Wexford) Ruth Teresa Crowley (Cork) and Seamus Smith (Kerry).

Town council call IMPACT’S LOCAL Government Division has called on the union’s local authority branches to engage in discussions about staff issues arising from the abolition of town councils. At a special meeting of branches in March, the union’s national secretary Peter Nolan said branches that had not already started talks should immediately seek discussions with council management. He said the union’s priority was to seek to avoid the compulsory relocation of staff who work for abolished or merged councils. Eighty town councils are to be scrapped under the Local Government Bill, which was published last October. The new legislation will also see the number of councillors reduced by more than 40%, with councillors representing municipal districts at county council level. Six city and county councils, in Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford, are also being merged into three new councils.

Union win on whistle blowing NEW LEGISLATION to protect workplace whistleblowers – people who reveal fraudulent or other unlawful behaviour – has been strengthened with measures to prevent employers sacking staff who blow the whistle. A Government decision to amend its own Protected Disclosures Bill with the new clause is a major boost to the trade union campaign for stronger whistleblower protections. The clause was a central plank of trade union submissions on the Bill, and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) has described the move as a “game changer.” It means that, once the Bill becomes law, employers will be barred from dismissing an employee who blows the whistle in accordance with the law. Their union will be able to apply to the circuit court for an ‘interim relief order’ preventing dismissal. The court will be able to order the immediate reinstatement of the employee in their own job or a similar post with the same pay and conditions pending the final determination of an unfair dismissal case. If the employer still refuses, the court will be able to order that the whistleblower is paid exactly as if they were at work pending the outcome of the case. IMPACT has been at the forefront of the ICTU campaign and its national secretary Matt Staunton is part of the union team working to strengthen the legislation.

SHORT CUTS Levy lightened THE SO-called ‘pension levy’ was reduced slightly for all public servants with effect from 1st January 2014. The change, worth €125 a year, was implemented by exempting more earnings from the levy. IMPACT successfully sought this adjustment in the talks that led to the Haddington Road agreement last year. Although it’s a very modest improvement, it’s significant because it represents the first positive movement in public service incomes since 2008.

Airport pension row IMPACT HAS made a detailed presentation to the expert panel established to help resolve a row over the funding gap in the pension scheme that covers staff in Aer Lingus and the Dublin and Shannon airport authorities. The panel, led by former IMPACT general secretary Peter McLoone and an employers’ representative, has until the end of March to make its report.

New start for kids AROUND 4,000 staff have transferred to the new Child and Family Agency, which was officially launched in January. The new state body has assumed responsibility for child protection, family support, regulation of pre-schools and other services. IMPACT has established a framework agreement with the children’s department to facilitate the transfer of staff to the new agency.

Gay rights boosted INTERNATIONAL TRADE union bodies have welcomed a European Parliament vote calling on the EU to draw up a ‘roadmap’ to protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The resolution calls on the European Commission and member states to establish similar protections to those in place for gender, disability and ethnic discrimination. The trade union federation Public Services International (PSI) applauded the move and called on its affiliates, including IMPACT, to actively oppose homophobia.



Union business IN SHORT Pension failure POLICYMAKERS AND regulators have failed pension scheme members to the extent that few well-informed workers believe their pension fund savings are safe, according to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. Its official Fergus Whelan told a recent Oireachtas hearing that many people close to retirement will “slowly descend into poverty from the moment they retire. But the fall into poverty will be rapid if high inflation returns.”

Just getting by HALF OF Irish households have a disposable income of less than €35,000 a year, according to new research from the Nevin Economic Research Institute. Disposable income is the money left after tax is deducted from, and benefits added to, incomes. The trade union-backed think tank also found that the top 10% of households have a disposable income of over €77,000 a year, while the richest 3% enjoy more than €2,000 per week or €104,000 a year.

Mount Carmel shock NEWS OF the sudden closure of the Mount Carmel private maternity hospital came as a severe blow to its 300 staff, more than 80 of whom were IMPACT members. The union met liquidators appointed to the hospital after the closure was announced to explore options to keep the hospital open or find new posts for the staff. It also provided practical assistance to ensure that staff received all their entitlements.

Troika trashed principles THE IRISH Congress of Trade Unions has told EU parliamentarians that the troika mission to Ireland repeatedly violated core European Union principles of solidarity and social dialogue. ICTU was giving evidence to an inquiry into how the troika conducted its work in Ireland and elsewhere. Its assistant general secretary Sally Anne Kinahan reiterated the unions’ call for the EU to deliver on its promise to reduce the level of bank debt transferred to the Irish people. 42


PMDS appeals: No charge! IMPACT HAS told civil service management it will not accept a Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) proposal that civil servants should pay €437 if they appeal their PMDS performance management outcome. DEPR says the charge would be refundable if the appeal was upheld. The union has dismissed the proposal out of hand, saying it will not even enter arbitration until it is dropped from the management agenda. IMPACT national secretary Eamonn Donnelly said staff had a fundamental right to appeal management decisions. “We won’t accept that the opportunity to appeal PMDS decisions should be confined to those who can afford to pay. If we concede this principle on PMDS there is no telling where it will lead,” he said. Donnelly said the union was prepared to go to arbitration on other management proposals that have emerged in discussions on reform of the PMDS system, including a proposal that appeals would be restricted to staff who are rated in the lowest two categories. These – categories one and two – are the ratings that incur penalties on increments and eligibility for promotion. Meanwhile, IMPACT’s long-running campaign to open up civil service promotion procedures has succeeded, with the publication of a new circular that confirms that any civil servant with the necessary skills, experience and attributes can compete for any promotion advertised. The old system of restricting eligibility for promotion to staff in the same grading stream consistently discriminated against staff in technical and administrative grades. A requirement to have at least two years service remains in place. But the circular confirms that staff on fixed-term contracts can compete for promotions in the same way as comparable permanent staff if they have two years continuous or aggregate service.

Commission responds on sleepovers THE EUROPEAN Commission is seeking information from Irish health authorities as the first step in assessing IMPACT’s claim that excessive ‘sleepover’ duties in residential care facilities breach EU and Irish working time legislation. The union says staff who work with children, homeless people and people with disabilities are routinely expected to work 63-hour weeks when the legal maximum is 48 hours. It also says employers are breaching EU laws by paying a ‘sleepover’ allowance worth less than the statutory minimum wage. IMPACT says management is flouting the EU working time directive and various European Court of Justice (ECJ) rulings. Union organiser Una Faulkner, who has helped organise regional meetings for the staff concerned, says the issue centres on the substantial hours that workers spend on-call while they are in-situ at residential facilities over night. “So-called sleepovers are part of the working week for residential care staff but employers don’t treat them as working time for pay purposes, or when they’re calculating the time that can be legally worked. This means that staff are expected to work excessive hours while being paid well below the statutory minimum wage,” she said.

Lockout gig wins major award AN IMPACT-supported production was honoured at the Irish Times theatre awards in February. Anu Productions received the prestigious Judges Special Award for its 1913 Dublin Lockout events.

The award marks the conclusion of an enormous 1913 centenary workload by the company, who staged the hugely successful IMPACT-sponsored Dublin Tenement Experience: Living the Lockout at 14 Henrietta Street.

The Dublin Tenement Experience

Co-sponsors Dublin City Council and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions are currently exploring ways of using the Henrietta Street venue for similarly innovative centenary commemorations of the first world war and Easter rising.

Health insurance rethink sought IMPACT HAS called for a total rethink of health minister James Reilly’s plans for universal health insurance (UHI). The union says the funding model outlined in a recent draft white paper would “place a universal financial burden on families with no guarantee of universal access to healthcare.” IMPACT national secretary Louise O’Donnell said that, while the final price of UHI was not yet known, it was expected that it would be in the region of €1,600 per individual. “The experience in Holland, which has a similar funding model to that proposed by the Government, has been a continuing rise in the price of compulsory insurance, coupled with increasing restrictions on the health services covered,” she said.

Ag action suspended IMPACT SUSPENDED industrial action by over 600 Department of Agriculture technical staff after management agreed to enter a Labour Relations Commission-assisted process to address a comprehensive list of issues tabled by the union. The union said industrial action, which began on Monday 20th January, will resume if the issues are not resolved. The issues raised by IMPACT include staffing levels and the department’s failure to implement reports that would generate savings by optimising the skills and resources of agricultural officer grades. The union says the workers have fully cooperated with extensive reforms, including the closure of 42 local offices, which have delivered €30 million in savings. The dispute centres on management’s subsequent failure to sustain and expand their duties in line with independent reports, which say further substantial savings could be delivered if technical staff took on some of the inspection duties currently allocated to higher paid civil servants and expensive external contractors.

Holland’s system of competing private insurers has also created an inequitable and inefficient funding system, different tiers of entitlement, rising hospital deficits, and even bankrupt hospitals. Financial incentives to discharge patients early have also left the country with one of the highest hospital readmission rates in Europe as more people experience postdischarge complications. See page 16.

Ambulance plans blasted HSE PLANS to remove the Dublin ambulance service from Dublin fire brigade are unnecessary and wasteful, according to IMPACT. The union says the current service couldn’t be matched by the health authority for excellence or efficiency. The Dublin fire brigade service responds to 40% of national ambulance calls for less than 10% of the national ambulance budget. “That’s outstanding efficiency for a service delivered by dedicated men and women,” according to IMPACT national secretary Peter Nolan. The Dublin fire brigade operates the capital’s service on behalf of Dublin City Council, while the rest of the country is served by the HSE’s national ambulance service. The HSE pays Dublin City Council around €9 million a year for the service from a national budget of €134 million.




Brazil nuts face The world’s eyes will be on Brazil when the World Cup finals open in June. KEVIN NOLAN rates the likely winners and losers, and wonders who might throw their toys out of the proverbial pram. AS FOOTBALL tournaments go, the under-19s European Championship rarely causes shockwaves. Played out in the relative quiet of July, when most of the football world takes to exotic beaches, people only take note when a small nation wins as Ireland did in 1998. But last summer something happened that could cause ripples that stretch as far as June’s World Cup extravaganza in Brazil. Because when the under-19 finals were played out in Lithuania, there was a shock. Spain didn’t win. Instead, the trophy ended up in the hands of Serbia. It was a significant victory because, for the first time in a number of years, one of the top prizes in international football was not snaffled up by the Spaniards. Spain’s senior side have won the last three major tournaments (the 2010 World Cup and the Euros in 2008 and 2012) plus the last two European under-21 titles. Prior to Serbia’s recent under-19 win, the Spanish had won that trophy two times running too. That’s a lot of silverware. One under-19s defeat isn’t a sign that the haughty Spanish are in immediate decline. The Spaniards were able to leave players like David Silva, Xabi Alonso, Jesus Navas, Santi Carzola and Xavi on the bench for a March friendly with Italy. Juan Mata wasn’t even in the squad.

Crown slipping? But 2014 could be the year when Spain’s crown slips at last. They have been handed quite a nice draw for the finals and are easily expected to emerge from their group ahead of Holland, Chile and Australia. But then it starts to get tricky as Spain’s next test would probably be against Cameroon. Then into the quarter-finals and a meeting with Italy, presuming Italy win group D, although England and Uruguay will have a say in that. Germany, on the other hand, seem poised to dominate as Spain have done for the best part of a decade. It’s not all smiles in the German camp and it’s interesting that a German side that’s won six of their last seven games (the only blot on their copybook a friendly draw with Italy) were still booed by their fans during a lacklustre friendly win over Chile in March.



If the Spanish boys think home expectations are high, try living in Germany where someone like Mesut Ozil – who could finish the season with winner’s medals in the English Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and World Cup – found himself on the receiving end of abuse from his own supporters during that Chile friendly. Germany can power through Group G, making mincemeat of Ghana and the USA and putting Portugal in their place. Then they won’t face major opposition until a likely meeting with Brazil in the semi-final.

Impressive With a couple of months to go, the European sides look to be in strong positions although Brazil are on a very impressive run heading into the summer, with six straight wins so far. Over the last year, they’ve beaten 11 of the 31 nations going to the finals. Incredibly, Switzerland are the only team to have beaten Brazil in the last 18 months. Home advantage will also help, though the punishing travel schedule will hurt them as much as anyone else. X

Photo: Sportsfile

few surprises FIVE WORLD CUP SURVIVAL TIPS NIALL SHANAHAN is pricing a remote cave to rent while the world goes football crazy. In the meantime, here’s his top five survival techniques for the similarly disinterested. BOXING DAYS Nothing blocks out blanket football coverage like a decent box set. Either DVDs or the array of streaming services that pump out your favourite shows on demand. My July choices are Game of Thrones, True Detective and whatever I haven’t yet seen of House of Cards.

THE HE GREA AT OUTDOORS An inconspicuous choice as, until last summerr, July tended to be a complete washout. I only hope the sun and rain will conspire to make outdoor life tolerable this year too. Cycling, walking and outdoor scrabble could be viable options.

SLEEP IT OUT Ireland is three hours ahead of Brazil, so any games played in the evening will star t late. Possibly not a working option if your neighbours are Brazilian, Spanish, Por tuguese or German. But imagine the racket if Ireland had made it.

ABSENTEEISM Wales haven’t qualified for the World Cup this yearr. So I’m going to Wales to sleep in a tent. There isn’t even any mobile phone coverage in some of the valleys.



At some point even the most ardent apathy can collapse. Don’t expect me to be happy about it, but there’s a good chance that, in the right circumstances, I’ll go native and star t banging on about the “beautiful game.” This won’t be good news for England, who could have as many as four Southampton players in the squad. And me unofficially banned from watching the Saints.

Win Win Win

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5 9 6 9 4



When were two-tier pay scales introduced in the public service? A January 2010 B January 2011 C January 2012. Where was the Titanic built? A Cobh B Southampton C Belfast. Who won the 2013 under-19s European soccer championship? A Germany B Serbia C Spain. Which actor was once jailed for trade union activities? A Ricky Tomlinson B Steve Coogan C Michael Caine. The small print* You must be a paid-up IMPACT member to win. Only one entry per person (multiple entries will not be considered). Entries must reach us by Friday 6th June 2014. The editor’s decision is final. That’s it! 46 46


1 4

8 7

3 8 5 1 2 3 8 9 2 7 3



9 9 8 1 9 6 7 4 9 1 2 6 8 5 2 9 1 5 3 4

4 7

7 2 3 7 8 1 9 2 4 9 7 3 7 1 9 4 3 9

ACROSS 4. Bipolar, but attractive! (6) 8. A thought in ideal form (4) 9. ‘E is not in United’s team but is in the den (6) 10. The solution to this lies in the wren’s nest (6) 11. This is a .... (4) 13. Bet the first letter will cover all characters (8) 16. Averagely selfish (4) 17. I estimate that the Dail place is timeless (4) 20. Horizontal abode (4) 21. Motivated by a car (6) 22. A story told by a spin doctor perhaps (4) 24. Motivation for cowboy (4) 25. Lazy man lied about his disposition (4) 26. A duty of responsibility is upon us here (4) 27. Be present (6) 28. A definite decision about your answer is this clue (10)

2 2 8 3 9 4 6 9 3

win €









8 9 10



13 14



16 18 19



22 23



26 27 28

DOWN 1. Opera composed by superlative father (4) 2. I was nervous, I am nervous, I will be nervous (5) 3. An Italian Father, short of being pious; hardly! (5,3) 4. A play or film can claim us here (7) 5. Guess what you wil find around an inn (8) 6. Retail or wholesale, person makes items to suit the buyer (6) 7. Sounds like an unusual book (5)

12.&19D X, wrong, incorrect, Ha Ha! What play there is! (6,2,6) 13. A frank young girl (4) 14. Drawings and script are his biz; an acute observer this artist is (8) 15. A drink to help a Unionist (9) 18. See 23 down 19. See 12 down 21. Wild character makes inroad at being reformed (6) 23.&18D What one can expect at the end of a sentence (4,4)

Win €50 by completing the crossword and sending your entry, name and address to Roisin Nolan, Work & Life crossword, IMPACT, Nerney’s Court, Dublin 1, by Friday 6th June 2014. We’ll send €50 to the first correct entry pulled from a hat.


The winners from competitions in the winter issue were:

Crossword: Connie Guthrie, Co. Clare. Survey: Matthew Power, Kilkenny. Competition: Olive Healy. Quiz: Michael Hoey, OPW. Lots more competitions to enter in this issue!

Crossword composed by Seamus Halpenny

Which two animated films won best picture Oscar nominations? A Up and Toy Story B Finding Nemo and the Monsters Inc C Up and Beauty and the Beast.


1 5

Prize quiz

YOU COULD add €50 to your wallet or purse by answering five easy questions and sending your entry, name and address to Roisin Nolan, Work & Life prize quiz, IMPACT, Nerney’s Court, Dublin 1. Get your entry in by Friday 6th June 2014. We’ll send €50 to the first completed entry pulled from the hat.* You’ll find the answers in this issue of Work & Life.



HOW TO PLAY: Samurai Sudoku follows the same rules as Sudoku. Every row, column and block of each of the five grids must contain the numbers "1" to "9". Where the grids overlap, the rows and columns do not go beyond their usual length but the interlocking blocks give you more clues. Don't try to solve each of the five grids in turn, you should look at the puzzle as a whole to best succeed in solving it.

8 5 4 7 1 4 5 1 8 7 3 7 6 4 5 4 6 8 7 1 3 4 5 6 7 6 3 5 8 4 6 9 4 8 9


6 2 5 4 7 7 1 9 6 6 8 3 1

Just answer five easy questions and you could win €50.


Your view

n i w0 €


How do you like Work & Life? WE HOPE you enjoyed this issue of Work & Life, the magazine for IMPACT members. We want to hear your views, and we’re offering a €100 prize to one lucky winner who completes this questionnaire.

Simply complete this short survey and send it to Roisin Nolan, Work & Life survey, IMPACT, Nerney’s Court, Dublin 1. You can also send your views by email to We’ll send €100 to the first completed entry pulled from a hat.*

The survey

4. What were your least favourite articles? 1 __________________________________________________ 2 __________________________________________________

1. What did you think of the articles in the springsummer 2014 issue of Work & Life?

3 __________________________________________________ 5. What subjects would you like to see in future issues of Work & Life?





1 __________________________________________________



2 __________________________________________________



3 __________________________________________________



Comments ________________________________________

6. What did you think of the balance between union news and other articles?


The balance is about right



I want more union news


I want less union news


2. What did you think of the layout, style and pictures in the spring-summer 2014 issue of Work & Life? Excellent










7. Any other comments? ______________________________ __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________

Comments ________________________________________

Name ________________________________________________


Address ______________________________________________



3. What were your favourite three articles?


1 __________________________________________________

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2 __________________________________________________

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3 __________________________________________________

IMPACT branch ______________________________________

The small print* You must be a paid-up IMPACT member to win. Only one entry per person (multiple entries will not be considered). Entries must reach us by Friday 6th June 2014. The editor’s decision is final. That’s it!


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