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NEWFresh BROOM faces aim to PLUS

take the union to young workers



In this issue

work &life – Summer 2010 COVER FEATURES






WHY WOMEN EARN LESS On average women earn 17% less than men. BERNARD HARBOR asks whether we’ll make more progress on the pay gap in recession than we did during the boom.




Health worker CIARA BROWNE has just joined the union’s new Young Members’ Committee. But what makes her tick?


21 24

MARTINA O’LEARY charts the important work of community employment scheme supervisors and wonders if recent changes will hit their effectiveness.




Win Win Win…




MEN, WOMEN AND MUSIC When it comes to music RAYMOND CONNOLLY reckons guys and girls are from different planets.




SPORTS FIELD KEVIN NOLAN asks if Aussie rules raids are a real threat to our Gaelic football.


Ireland has so much to offer. And there are bargains to be had too says MARTINA O’LEARY.


Cinematic rehashes of TV classsics are back says MORGAN O’BRIEN.

MARGARET HANNIGAN peeks at the expanding world of book clubs. Plus all the reviews.


You don’t have to let those inevitable stressful situations get the better of you.

KICK START YOUR CAREER Whether you want to change your career or simply update your skills ISOBEL BUTLER says its time to maximise your job options.


TRISH O’MAHONY finds out it’s easy and fun to get great bargains on the internet.


NIALL SHANAHAN reports on IMPACT’s campaign to stop special needs education being dismantled.



CYCLE FOR CANCER CARE Your chance to join in a fun fund-raising initiative.

GREEN FINGERS JIMI BLAKE is putting some spring order on his garden.

YOUR LETTERS IMPACT members earn hard cash by putting their views on paper.

POLITICIANS MATTER IMPACT is developing its political lobbying work as part of its campaign to protect public service incomes, jobs and services. NIALL SHANAHAN explains how and why – and what it means for you.


HEARTY MEALS Battling cholesterol or conscious of your healthy heart? That doesn’t mean you can’t have delicious food says MARGARET HANNIGAN.

39 39 40 40 40 41 41 41 41




Put pen to paper and win €50.

Enter our prize quiz and win €50.

Tell us what you think and win €100.





Work & Life was delighted to hear that actress Meryl Streep had played Northern Ireland trade unionist and human rights activist Inez McCormack in a performance at an international summit in New York during the recent Saint Patrick’s festivities. Inez used to head up our sister-union Unison in the north of Ireland and was the first woman to be elected president of ICTU. Now retired, she became a trade union and equality activist following her involvement in the civil rights movement in the late 1960s.

It’s just over a year now since the Government first imposed the so-called pension levy and it already feels like it’s been a long campaign. So try not to get disheartened by the fact that we still have a gender pay gap of 17% over 40 years after equal pay legislation was introduced. BERNARD HARBOR explores how this happened in our main feature. Earlier this year, special needs assistant PATRICIA FANNING gave an amazing description of her work and the union’s fight to save special needs education. So much so that we’ve based an article on her story. You can also read about how IMPACT members are trying to defend vital community employment services as we feature the work of community employment supervisors. NIALL SHANAHAN contributes the latest in a series of articles on how the union is fighting the pay cuts and attacks on public servants. This time the focus is on the growing importance of political lobbying. Remember how those back benchers helped scupper a fair pay deal last year? TRISH O’MAHONY turns to the web for good value fashion tips in this issue while MARTINA O’LEARY finds some great bargains as she reassesses what Ireland has to offer when it comes to family holidays and trips. A breath of fresh air! And while we’re on the subject of value for money, check out MARGARET HANNIGAN’s article on book clubs – a cheap night out to get you thinking.

Work & Life is produced by IMPACT trade union’s Communications Unit and edited by Bernard Harbor. Front cover: Members of IMPACT’s new youth committee. Left to right Mark Mulhall, Amanda O’Hara, Mark Finlay, Joe May, Ciara Browne and Brian Furey. See story on page 41. Photo Michael Crean. Contact IMPACT at: Nerney’s Court, Dublin 1. Phone: 01-817-1500. Email: Designed by: O’Brien Design & Print Management. Phone: 01-864-1920. Email: Printed by Boylan Print Group. Advertising sales: Frank Bambrick. Phone: 01-453-4011. Unless otherwise stated, the views contained in Work & Life do not necessarily reflect the policy of IMPACT trade union. Work & Life is printed on environmentally friendly paper, certified by the European Eco Label. This magazine is 100% recycable.

ISOBEL BUTLER continues her series on your career development by looking at how you can go about brushing up on your skills, while KAREN WARD revisits her quest to banish stress. Returning to gender themes, RAYMOND CONNOLLY is sticking his neck out this month to track the tensions between guys and girls when it comes to choosing what goes on the stereo. If that doesn’t generate some correspondence for our letters page, I’m not sure what will. Remember, we give hard cash for good letters!

IMPACT trade union IMPACT is Ireland’s fastest growing trade union with over 65,000 members in the public services and elsewhere. We represent staff in the health services, local authorities, education, the civil service, the community sector, aviation, telecommunications and commercial and non-commercial semi-state organisations. Find out more about IMPACT on



Work & Life Magazine is a full participating member of the Press Council of Ireland and supports the Office of the Press Ombudsman. In addition to defending the freedom of the press, this scheme offers readers a quick, fair and free method of dealing with complaints that they may have in relation to articles that appear on our pages. To contact the Office of the Press Ombudsman go to www.pressombudsman. ie or

All suppliers to Work & Life recognise ICTU-affiliated trade unions.

On 16th April 2005 the annual congress of the GAA votes to allow soccer and rugby to be played in Croke Park under certain circumstances.

A little bit of glamour

Spring forward?

THERE WAS definitely a feel of spring in the air as this issue of Work & Life went to press. But it wasn’t at all clear if that fresh feeling would extend to the industrial relations scene. After a long, hard winter and a couple of months of industrial action, union leaders were back in talks trying to finalise a fair deal to protect public service jobs and incomes – and get a commitment that the pay cuts could be reversed over time.

5 years ago


Meryl Streep and Inez McCormack

In 2008 she was named Northern Ireland woman of the year for her services to women, human rights and communities.

Inez said it was “very humbling” to have her life story represented in this way and she was privileged to have an Oscar-winning actress and strong female character like Meryl Streep involved in the dramatisation. “I have had the privilege of spending a lifetime at the service of warm, strong women, who challenged injustice not just for themselves but for the people and communities they cared for and whose only affirmation has been that of their own conscience,” she said. Streep’s performance, which was introduced by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton was part of a three-day “Women in the world” summit. Some 1,000 women from the worlds of politics, media, social activism, business and the arts attended including France’s minister for finance Christine Lagarde, former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, Queen Rania of Jordan and the Congolese journalist and anti-rape activist Chouchou Namegabe. Back in Dublin, we couldn’t help wondering which Hollywood actors and actresses would be well cast in the roles of other Irish trade unionists – or the officials and managers they face across the negotiating table. Your thoughts on this would be very welcome. Send them to

In June, the Irish language is granted official status as a working language within the European Union.

20 years ago

The longest prison riot in Britain’s history begins at Strangeways prison in Manchester on 1st April 1990. It goes on for three weeks and three days. Later that month The Irish Labour Party selects Mary Robinson as its candidate in the presidential election. The same month West Germany and East Germany agree to merge currencies and economies on 1st July 1990. Circulation of the £1 coin, as a replacement for the punt note, starts on 20th June.

50 years ago

In the first major US primary, Wisconsin voters overwhelmingly back John F. Kennedy for the Democratic presidential nomination on 5th April 1960. VicePresident Nixon was unopposed for the Republican nomination. The last successful American U2 overflight of the Soviet Union took place on 10th April as a pilot passed near the missile range at Tyuratam. On 1st May, a U2 flown by Francis Gary Powers is brought down. In an unrelated development Bono, lead singer with U2, is born on 10th May. Yes, Raymond Connolly’s nemesis is turning 50. The last barge on the Grand Canal leaves Dublin carrying Guinness to Limerick on 27th May – the end of a 156-year-old service.

100 years ago (1910)

On 6th May 1910 George V becomes King of the United Kingdom upon the death of his father Edward VII. The following day English theatre patron and manager Annie Horniman withdraws financial support from the Abbey Theatre, in protest because the theatre refused to close on the death of the monarch the previous day.

Work & Life: The Magazine for IMPACT Members


IMPACT people

Youth are the future What do you never leave home without? My lap top. It has all my photos and everything I need for work.

Describe yourself. I’m outgoing and friendly. Maybe a bit loud.

What’s it like working in community welfare? It can be tough at times definitely. It’s very challenging, but it’s also very rewarding work. My colleagues are fabulous, my boss is great, and most of the clients are really really nice. The work has increased dramatically with the economic climate. We deal with rents and mortgages in my section.

What are your interests? I absolutely love horses. I get this from my mum who loves them as well. I have my own horse Busby and we house her in Ashbourne. If the weather’s good I would be out with her four or five times a week. I do shows and dressage but I had a couple of nasty falls so I am prettified of jumping. We go to the Stradbally festival every year, camping and showing the horses. I love that.

Did you go to college? I did six weeks of college, but it wasn’t for me. Then I went straight into the HSE, into Park House in Dublin as a temporary grade III. That was ten years ago. Since then I got the permanent grade III and then a grade IV in community welfare. My Dad told me I really needed to go to college, so I went at night. I have done a diploma in health service management and a degree in HR.

I’m also a fanatical Manchester United fan and try to go over with my dad once a year to watch a match. What about IMPACT? I’ve just been elected vice-chair of the Dublin South HSE branch. Before my job crossed the Liffey I was on the branch executive of the Dublin North HSE branch, and before that I was a member of the Eastern Health Board branch executive. What got you involved in IMPACT’s youth committee? I heard about the ICTU youth seminar in 2008 where I got to know Brian Furey, another founder member of the Youth Committee. We corresponded with Bernard Harbor in IMPACT who set up the committee. What are your hopes for the committee’s work? To get young people involved. It’s really bad that there is very little interest or involvement in the union. A lot of young people don’t seem to be bothered or they think the union’s about sitting around a table with a load of old fogies talking about things that have nothing to do with them. But it’s not like that at all. It’s really interesting stuff. Apart from the serious side, there’s a fun element to it as well. Conference and the training is a great experience.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? Disneyland Florida. I’d love to go there for my honeymoon, but that’s up for debate.

“A lot of young people think the union’s about sitting around a table with a load of old fogies talking about things that have nothing to do with them. But it’s not like that at all.” What’s your favourite movie? The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The Shawshank Redemption is a close second.

But the union is going to die if the youth don’t get interested and involved.

What do you like to read? I’ve recently got back into reading, and I love the Twilight Saga. I read the four books over Christmas. I know they are teenage books about vampires, but they’re great.

What music do you like? I like a bit of everything. I love Pink, the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Roger Waters and Oasis. I was at Glastonbury once.

Do you have any funny habits? I constantly ask my other half ‘Are you all right? Are you all right?’ It drives him mad.u



Picking anyone alive or dead who would you like to have a drink and a chat with? John Lennon. He is so interesting. I love the Beatles. You only hear bits of what went on with Paul McCarthy and Yoko Ono. Who inspires you? My Dad.

New youth committee

IMPACT HAS established a new Youth Committee, which reports directly to the union’s elected executive committee. It’s role is to: 1. Advise the executive on matters of concern to young members and develop initiatives to maximise the membership and participation of young people in the union. Photo: Michael Crean Photography

IMPACT’s new young members committee held its first meeting earlier this year. Community welfare officer CIARA BROWNE, of the union’s Dublin South HSE branch, is one of those charged with making the union more attractive – and more responsive – to young workers.

2. Assist in the dissemination of information on such matters, and advise on communications with young workers. 3. Advise on and contribute to youth-oriented events and initiatives within the union. 4. Help the union to liaise with external organisations involved in youth affairs.

What helps you when the going gets tough? Paul my finance, completely and utterly. What would you like to be remembered for? Ciara, she was gas. She was a really a nice person. Not for a role or job but just for being myself.

Who or what’s the greatest love of your life? It’s tied between my finance Paul and my horse.

When is the big day? August. It’s a long time coming. We are nine years together. It’s really exciting l

What really annoys you? People telling bare-faced lies.

Interviewed by Martina O’Leary

What has been your most embarrassing experience? Loads of things but most are unprintable. I fell off my horse a couple of months ago. I’m in a riding club and I fell off in front of everyone at a show. It was stupid. It shouldn’t have happened and I was absolutely mortified.

Read more about IMPACT‘s Young Members’ committee on page 41.

If you have something interesting to tell, or you know someone who has a great story, please contact Martina O’Leary at

Work & Life: The Magazine for IMPACT Members


Pay gap

Can you close a pay gap during a slump? Forty years after pay discrimination was outlawed, the European Commission has launched its latest assault on the gender pay gap. BERNARD HARBOR asks whether the recession will help or hinder efforts to win pay equality. People in Ireland are out of step on gender equality. The Government and policymakers, obviously. But we’ll come to them later. What’s more striking is that all of us – you and me – are out of step with European opinion about equality for women. A recent EU opinion survey showed that Irish people have a much sunnier view of inequality than most Europeans. Just 43% of us believe that gender inequality is widespread in Ireland. The figure is much higher across the EU where, on average, almost two-thirds believe inequality is widespread in their own country. Other stats show that this wide discrepancy is not based on an objective analysis of how women fare in Irish workplaces. The latest research on workplace gender inequality shows that, on most counts, Ireland is doing about the same or worse than the EU average. Though stubbornly high at just over 17%, Ireland’s gender pay gap – the difference between men and women’s gross hourly pay rates – is slightly better than the EU average of 18%. But our employment gap is wider and only Cyprus and Malta do worse when it comes to female representation among directors and chief executives. Similarly, only Hungary, Romania and Malta have a lower percentage of women in parliament.

Sadly, the trend is reflected in the trade unions too. Just seven of the 54 organisations affiliated to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) are led by female general secretaries, a situation that Congress has tried to address through its LIFT programme aimed at increasing the number of women trade unionists in leadership positions. So what makes us so much less attuned to gender equality issues than our EU colleagues? Is it because we care less? Not according to Viviane Reding, the EU Commissioner with responsibility for gender equality, who says that concern is highest in countries like Spain where gender equality issues are high on the political agenda and prominent in public debate.

The law When I first came to Ireland 15 years ago, just as the Celtic Cub was learning to crawl, radical new equality legislation was just going through the Dáil. The Employment Equality and Equal Status acts led the way in legal protection against discrimination and became models for other countries and the EU itself. In the boom years that followed, more and more women entered the labour force as incomes and expectations grew. Unions and women’s groups periodically tried to draw attention u

Work & Life: The Magazine for IMPACT Members


Pay gap to the pay gap and the under-representation of women in top jobs. But, by and large, we stopped talking about it. EU and Irish legislation makes it illegal for employers to pay women less than men for doing the same work or work of equal value. That makes it easy to assume that the issue is dealt with. So how come the pay gap still persists? Experts point to three main reasons: gender segregation, women’s disproportionate responsibility for child-rearing, and plain old discrimination.

qualified and professional staff earned less than those doing comparable jobs in other sectors. In addition to low pay and low status, the study said precarious contracts, irregular working hours and poor career opportunities were common in the section. Banyard says female-dominated professions can be underpaid despite demanding the same skills, training, physical and mental effort as male-dominated jobs. “It’s illegal for this to occur within the same organisation. But across the economy as a whole it happens every day,” she says.

The fact that women take time out of the workforce to Gender segregation is the phenomenon of women workers being concentrated in badly paid jobs and sectors. Kat have kids, and then tend to take on most of the childcare Banyard, who’s just published The and domestic responsibilities, also Equality Illusion: The Truth About Perceptions of Gender Equality widens the pay gap. Women and Men Today, says women and Priorities for Action workers are clustered into the “five Time spent out of the workforce Cs”: cleaning, caring, cashiering, also means slower pay progression, catering and clerical work – generally longer time spent gaining experience 4% low paid, low status, low opportunity and eligibility for promotion, fewer jobs. contacts and – crucially – a smaller pension pot. Total “rare” 11% A fair bit of effort has gone into attracting girls into the subjects that A recent survey by IBEC found that Total “widespread” 34% will equip them to enter the higherjust 43% of private companies pay full paid male-dominated professions. wages for maternity leave, although 43% Don’t know But placing a fair value on the lowmore large employers tend to do so. 46% paid jobs dominated by women is an The employers’ group is resisting EU 27 - outer pie equally big challenge. proposals by a parliment committee Ireland - inner pie for full pay for a minimum 20 weeks When I spoke to Banyard after she maternity leave. Meanwhile, Ireland addressed an International Women’s has the lowest statutory maternity 62% Day event in Dublin in March she benefit in Europe and lousy paternity 4% stressed that women weren’t simply rights. attracted to sectors that happened to be low paid. “We have to face the Meanwhile, the Equality and Rights Total “rare” reality that these11% jobs are underpaid Alliance reports a rise in illegal because they are predominantly done pregnancy-related discrimination. Total “widespread” by 34% women,” she says. 43% Mothers Don’t know What’s more, the pay and value placed Even though it’s illegal to discriminate 46% on male-dominated professions often EU 27 - outer pie on the basis of family status, a drops dramatically as they become 2007 British Government equalities Ireland - inner pie more feminised. Banyard points to review found that mothers face more human resource management, which discrimination than any other group in the workplace. Banyard shifted from being male to female 62% dominated during the says many employers simply avoid hiring women of child1990s. “Within this period, the average pay for HR managers bearing age, which covers an awful lot of women. dropped by almost 20%,” she says. It’s a point echoed by Grenoble Ecole De Management professor Mark Smith who told a recent European Commission seminar: “There is a dynamic element to it. There are now more women bus drivers. But this often reflects a decline in the valuation of particular jobs.”


A recent report into the female dominated health and social care sector, commissioned by the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU), found that workers earned below national average earnings in every one of eight EU countries studied. Earnings of unqualified or lower skilled workers were often at minimum or basic wage levels while



“The potential to bear children is the defining and unalterable difference between men and women, and it is a difference that is present from puberty to menopause. Not insignificantly, this broadly brackets the employment lifespan,” she says. Mark Smith says we don’t simply have to accept that because women will be paid less because they have children. “Women have children in every country. That bit’s fixed, but other factors aren’t. Mothers don’t have to leave the labour force or go part-time in every country. They don’t have to suffer discrimination or stereotyping about their work-commitment in every country,” he says. Surveys show that 70% of British recruitment agencies u

have been asked to avoid hiring women of childbearing age and 80% of HR managers would “think twice” before hiring a newly married woman in her twenties – an attitude endorsed by highflying businessmen like Alan Sugar. “If it’s acceptable for businesses to discriminate against individuals on the basis that they are or might become pregnant, then it is implicitly acceptable to deny women the right to participate in the workforce on an equal footing,” says Banyard. The disadvantage remains even if women get access to ‘family-friendly’ work arrangements that allow them more time for child-rearing responsibilities. “Parental responsibilities mean you are less likely to be available for key meetings, less likely to be allocated key clients, and have less access to important experience like international events,” says Smith. But old-fashioned pay discrimination – paying women less than men for doing the same jobs – still happens, even though it has been outlawed for over 40 years. Kat Banyard says the most recent UK research shows direct and indirect discriminations – both outlawed across the EU – are the single biggest determinants of the pay gap. So why the big focus on career choice and family-friendly working over the last decade? “Employers are more comfortable talking about parenting issues than the possibility of discrimination taking place,” she says.

Critical I quizzed Banyard on her book’s claim that the legal right to equal pay was just an abstract pledge. “Legislation is absolutely critical. It’s the line we draw in the sand to say what is and isn’t acceptable. It’s the very first step towards equality. But there’s an assumption that if it’s illegal it simply won’t happen,” she says. But if we failed to crack the pay gap during the boom years, what chance of progress now that we’re in deep recession? Mark Smith says there are contradictory factors at play. “There is downward pressure on male wages, especially in highly-traded sectors, which could dampen the pay gap. At the same time large cuts in public service pay in countries like Ireland are likely to widen the gap because many public service jobs are female-dominated,” he says. Smith also reckons the effect will be different in this crisis. Previous recessions had relatively little impact on women’s employment for the simple reason that fewer women worked. This time, women’s employment has been hit first. “Women have gained more over the last 20 years. Now they’ve got more to lose,” he warns. And he points to what he calls “hidden” factors contributing to the pay gap. Female dominated jobs have less access to bonuses, overtime and premium payments. And pay determination systems matter too: More centralised pay

bargaining tends to reduce pay inequality while individualised pay systems widen the gap. He also says a general widening of the gap between high and low paid people – a trend across the globe since the 1990s – makes the gender pay gap worse as women remain concentrated in the lowest-paid jobs.

Campaign Launching the European Commission’s new gender pay gap campaign earlier this year, Commission vice president Viviane Reding said there was a danger that the economic crisis would be used as an excuse for inaction. She said this was the wrong approach, not least because tackling the pay gap would bring economic benefits. She points to an EU study published last October, which estimated that GDP across the EU’s 27 member states could increase by 27% if gender gaps in pay, employment, part-time work and productivity were eliminated. The estimated potential growth for Ireland is even higher at 35% – over three times the GDP lost through the recession last year. The European Commission campaign aims to raise awareness among employers, encourage gender equality initiatives, develop better tools to measure the gender pay gap, and strengthen sanctions against employers who flout equal pay laws. Buoyed by figures that show over 80% of Europeans support urgent action to address the problem, Reding said she would seek to “significantly reduce” the gender pay gap in all EU countries by the end of this commission’s five-year mandate. “I am deeply concerned that the gender pay gap has barely fallen over the last 15 years and in some countries it is increasing. In these times of crisis, the gender pay cap is a cost Europe cannot afford,” she said.

Sexism Generating the debate is the first step. But it’s crucial that policy-makers acknowledge the existence of the pay gap and act to address its causes. u

Work & Life: The Magazine for IMPACT Members


Pay gap Gxxxxx Pay gap between women and men in adjusted form in EU Member States - 2007 Difference between mens and women average gross hourly earnings as a percentage of mens gross hourly earnings

35 30


25 20 17.6

15 10 5 0









Source: Eurostat. Structure of Earnings Survey 2006 and national sources (2007) for yearly SES-comparable estimates.

A range of initiatives is now underway in different European countries. In Finland, which has an official target of reducing the pay gap from 20% to 15% by 2015, firms over a certain size are obliged to publish figures on their gender pay gaps. This has led to far more transparency over corporate pay, career and promotion criteria. France has obliged its social partners to bargain for gender pay gap closure. Germany and Luxembourg have developed software to allow organisations to calculate their pay gaps. Job evaluation guidance has been developed in Belgium, while Spain has passed legislation that directly addresses the factors that influence the pay gap. Kat Banyard says that if we’re serious about closing the pay gap, we also need to address broader issues of sexism in society. “You can’t separate the workplace from the rest of society. What goes on at work reflects wider cultural baggage,” she says. Her book is one of a small clutch, including Natalie Walters’ Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism and Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, which seek to reassess the direction that feminism took in the 1990s and trash the view that the equality war is won. Walters’ book quotes a recent study of 1,000 British girls where 60% said glamour modelling was their preferred career and a quarter said they would consider becoming lap dancers. Almost one in four women across the EU suffers physical violence at least once in her adult life. Banyard argues that gender stereotyping – in everything from babies’ clothes and kids’ toys to school subject choices – contributes to a situation where just 5% of work placements in the British mechanical, engineering and construction sectors

2010 10 xx SUMMER SPRING 2009

are filled by girls. She also quotes the corporate deputy chairman who thinks it okay to opine that the dearth of female executives can be explained by their sexual frustration: “Men are not because they can fall back on call girls. If you have a CEO who is sexually frustrated, she can’t act properly.” And she also sees a big role for unions. “More and more unions are taking on the equal pay issue. We need to see more women joining unions so that they can get redress if they suffer discrimination,” she says l Kat Banyard’s The Equality Illusion: The Truth About Women and Men Today is published by Faber and Faber.

Women and men in Ireland

employment rate for women in Ireland is 60% • The compared to 48% in 1998.

income is around two-thirds of men’s. After • Women’s adjusting for differences in hours worked, women’s hourly earnings are around 86% of men’s. 13% of TDs in Dáil Eireann are women, compared • Only to an EU average of 24%. 13% of trade union general secretaries are • Only women.

• 34% of members of state boards are women. • 83% of members of local authorities are men. of health workers are women but 68% of medical • 80% and dental consultants are men. make up 85% of primary education staff, but • Women only 51% of primary school managers.

Campaigns Gxxxxx

Public service

But above all, mutual respect is vital. No matter what grievance we all bear toward TDs who defend policies we oppose, the aim of lobbying as a form of activism is to persuade, not to threaten. Consistency is vital, and it will help your case enormously if the dialogue you have established with a political representative is a continuing dialogue. That means being clear about what you want them to do, to ask them directly for a commitment, to remind them that you will keep in touch and to thank them for their time and for listening.

Photo: Wicklow Health Branch, IMPACT

And yes, politicians will try to avoid giving a straight answer. They will say ‘We’ll do the best we can’. They will say that we are in difficult times and everyone has to make sacrifices. In that respect they will be consistent too. So tell them that the Government’s response to the crisis needs to be fair and equitable. And keep telling them.

IMPACT members in Wicklow lobby a local constituency office in February 2009.

activity to the point at which it has become integral to all their other activities. School Secretaries and Special Needs Assistants have been especially proactive, and it has enabled both branches to make their respective cases to the Oireachtas Committee on Education. In both cases continuing contact, particularly with opposition TDs, has proved particularly helpful. The Oireachtas is composed of 166 TDs and 61 Senators, with TDs representing 43 constituencies across the country. The constituencies contain three to five seats, depending on their size and population. In their local habitats, politicians are put under as much pressure by their own party as their political opponents. Each five-year cycle between elections is about being seen to deliver more locally than anyone else, ensuring selection by the party, and re-election by the voters. If they don’t provide the service, and make sure everyone knows about it, they are out. Even ministers will lose seats if they ignore their constituents. The political system is relatively accessible in Ireland. It really isn’t that difficult to get a local TDs mobile phone number. Most have a high level of contact with constituents and live in their own constituencies. They all hold clinics that are open to the public.



The highest polling member of the current Government, former Minister Willie O’Dea, holds something of a legendary reputation for his ritualised weekend canvassing. But his constant level of contact with constituents is what brings in the votes. And he knows it. So, if there are just a small handful of TDs to cover in each constituency, it makes sense to develop the lobbying activity of the union branch. But a mass lobby like the Valentine’s weekend is not the only approach. Small frequent actions are often more effective. For instance, an organised branch delegation might visit a constituency clinic once a month; a letter or email from branch members can be sent in response to comments (good or bad) about public servants; an occasional phone call to a constituency office or Leinster House to ask questions about their policies in relation to public servants reminds them you’re there. If this became part of our regular activism, no political representative could afford to ignore the presence of public servants as they did last year. Best of all, it is a form of activism that is not labour or time intensive, and it has the potential to build a working relationship with a TD. But what values define good lobbying? u

We are going through a time of crisis where people have become polarised on many issues. To spend and stimulate the economy? Or to cut and deflate? To tax higher earners in all sectors? Or to cut public sector pay? These are issues that have divided families, friends and neighbours over the last 18 months. They are conversations we have all had. They’ve been heated, and they have overtaken property prices as the national obsession. But in a clinic environment, or if writing a letter to a politician, it is not necessarily helpful to re-ignite that type of heated debate. Ask yourself, “What would influence you to take on board somebody else’s perspective?” Honesty is a good place to start. The most compelling arguments that members have made in public have been, quite simply, telling their own story. Explaining how the pay cuts have affected them, or how cuts have hurt their clients. It’s vital to retain a focus on what is in the public interest. IMPACT argued that the second round of pay cuts would deflate the economy and lead to further job losses in the private sector. This too has come to pass, and it is accepted now that this has been a consequence of the pay cuts. It is possible to make this point in a face to face meeting without it being misinterpreted as mere self-interest.

“Some branches of the union have developed their lobbying activity to the point at which it has become integral to all their other activities. School Secretaries and Special Needs Assistants have been especially proactive, and it has enabled both branches to make their respective cases to the Oireachtas Committee on Education. In both cases continuing contact, particularly with opposition TDs, has proved particularly helpful.”

At the moment it seems that most TDs still have no fear of attacking public servants. It is changing. Not much, but it is changing. Even the fiercest attackers last year have exercised some restraint in recent months, and have begun to acknowledge just how hard public servants have been hit. Rest assured this is because their public servant constituents have spoken to them about their most excessive attacks. But many politicians remain on the attack, in stark contrast to how they would talk about farmers, vintners or small businesses. All their prejudices are shaped by how much they rely on these groups for support in their constituencies. It is their visibility and regularity of contact with TDs that bears influence, and that is the kind of visibility that union branches must now embrace. In the coming months, IMPACT will be developing training and support to branches. Unlike George Lee, we are in for the ‘long game’ on the political front. We have no choice; we need to make our presence felt l

xx Work & Life: The Magazine for IMPACT Members 13

Public service

Photo: Michael Crean.

Benny Daly, CE supervisor, Athy.

A great job for the community words yet. I love being part of the CE scheme. I have something to get up for and I enjoy the work and learning,” he says.

Community employment schemes have been helping local communities and easing people back into work for nearly 20 years. Now that we’re back in recession MARTINA O’LEARY finds the programme more relevant than ever. “IT CAN be a long day if you have nothing to do. But our participants have somewhere to go at 8.30 in the morning. They have the dignity of providing services to their communities and they gain valuable work experience.” Community employment supervisor Paddy Quinn is proud of the work he and his colleagues do to help the unemployed get back to work.

have offered a daily lifeline and longterm hope to people like Thomas Day, a second-year participant with the Athy community employment (CE) scheme. Let go after eight years working in a local timber yard, Thomas now does caretaker and maintenance work and has started an adult literacy programme, which helps with reading, writing, and maths.

For nearly 20 years, including during the good times, schemes like Paddy’s

“I love learning, I can read the small words now, but I’m not able for the big

Athy supervisor Benny Daly says the schemes are crucial to peoples’ selfworth. “It’s only 19 1/2 hours a week, but they are putting something back into the community, getting an income and mingling with others. As their selfconfidence grows they think more of their abilities. We are redeveloping the individuals themselves,” he says. Benny worked with Karen Russell for two years, during which she did several certified childcare courses and gained work experience in a local crèche. She’s now gone on to open her own crèche called Sunny Days where she has taken on other former scheme participants. “The benefit of the scheme ➤


Special needs assistants

Photo: Michael Crean.

Public service

was being able to work and get experience and training,” she says. Meanwhile in Donegal, Walter McGrory works for a scheme that looks after a retreat centre and parish facilities in Fahan, Inch and Burt. “We do all the maintenance of the halls and grounds, car parks, graveyards and four churches. Without this project it would be impossible for the sponsors to afford this valuable and necessary work. There is no way the community could pay for this. It would not be able to function without the scheme,” he says. Since the scheme started in 1993 about 60 of its participants have gone back to full-time work.

Lifeline The community employment programme is designed to help long-term unemployed and other disadvantaged people back into work by offering parttime and temporary placements in jobs based in local communities. Participants are then encouraged to seek permanent jobs based on the experience and new skills they have gained. 16


cation and go out with a junior certificate or better. That’s a credit to community employment and how we operate it,” he says. All the supervisors I spoke to agreed that limiting participation to one year was bad news as it meant people would quickly face unemployment again, and the damage that does to their self-esteem.

Community groups and projects, ranging from meals-on-wheels to sports clubs, can become sponsoring bodies and apply for schemes so long as they show that their proposal doesn’t displace or replace existing jobs. A monitoring committee, Michael Tidd. with union par ticipation, ensures the scheme is not abused.

Though primarily an employment initiative, supervisor Ed Penrose says the schemes have also developed vital local resources in community centres, sports clubs, environmental services and a range of other community projects. “Many communities would be dead if they didn’t have the CE scheme. They are keeping communities going,” he says.

The programme was threatened with the axe during the boom years but IMPACT and others successfully campaigned to keep the schemes, which offered a vital lifeline to those who’d been unemployed for years. “The training and education are vital but, in today’s economic climate, it’s really your work experience that makes the difference when applying for a job,” says Paddy.

Local resources

Participants agree that the schemes are excellent. Michael Tidd was on disability benefit before joining a scheme in Athy, where he has gained experience in payroll, book-keeping and administration. “I have much more confidence. I never did office work before. Now I have a lot of work experience and have gone back to education, which is what employers want. It has given me a great chance. I’d like to think that I’ll get a good job out of this,” he says ●

The CE supervisors are focused on the scheme participants, but their busy job has other aspects too including liaising with sponsoring groups, developing and tracking individual training programmes and organising work placements. Because of rising unemployment, it’s become a reluctant growth sector. There are about 22,500 people on CE schemes now, but 5,000 extra places have just been approved by the Government. The downside is that most participants will now be offered just one year on the scheme, compared to two or more in the past. If they don’t find a job after a year, they’ll be back on welfare.

Photo: Michael Crean.

Now I have a lot of work experience and have gone back to education, which is what employers want. It has given me a great chance. I’d like to think that I’ll get a good job out of this.

Paddy Quinn, who is also branch secretary of IMPACT’s CE supervisors’ branch, filled me in on the background. “At first it was work with a little bit of training. Then FÁS introduced the training element and it has developed so that all the training is FETAC certified,” he says.

Like others involved in the schemes, Benny Daly worries that many participants will end up back on the dole just as they’re starting to gain confidence. He also worries that it will work against the successful literacy element of the programme. “A lot of people who come on board have literacy issues. It could take 12 months for them to recognise and agree that they have a problem. People will come in with zero qualifications or edu-

The lights of understanding As uncertainty continues around the extent of cuts in Special Needs Assistants, IMPACT member PATRICIA FANNING gives us an intimate portrait of the working day of an SNA. THE BURNING question about the SNA at the moment is, what do I contribute to the school life of a child with special needs in a mainstream school? And what value does this represent? Well, to give you an idea of what it’s like to be an SNA in a mainstream school I will take you through a typical working day. First things first, there is such a thing as a typical day! It usually starts at 8.40am when I have a quick chat with the class teacher and find out about the days lesson plan. This is because my child has a schoolbag that competes with the Bermuda Triangle for missing objects. Books disappear with great regularity so to ensure that my child has whatever texts are needed for the day I make copies of that days pages.

and on we go working at his two speeds, dead slow and stop. But eventually we are triumphant and the masterpiece joins the rest of the books drying on the radiator. So on we go through the lessons. It’s hard for him to understand that he can’t answer every question and that shouting it out isn’t a very good idea. Nor is standing up waving to attract the teacher’s attention. He gets his turn to answer and then turns off. Usual tactics; fiddles with the pencil case, pretends to drop rubber, goes in under the table to distract everybody by trying to open their laces. Hauled out, reprimanded by teacher. Wobbly lip, very contrite – until the next time. ➤

The bell goes at 8.50am and I go to meet my child in the line and have a discreet word with the parent to find out what the ‘form’ is and anything that has happened at home in the last twenty-four hours that might influence the child’s behaviour. Today he has had a haircut and doesn’t like it so we could be in for a stormy day. The short journey to the class offers so many opportunities for conflict: “No you can’t go first/last; you can’t skip anybody; don’t pull her plaits no matter how tempting; you don’t need to tell anyone that you don’t like their coat/hat/scarf; not everyone gets an invitation to the party – maybe next time; keep walking, I’ll tie your lace when we get in; have you got a tissue? No? Here, you can use this one”. Having safely negotiated that journey without serious incident we have to get coats hung up. “No, you can’t have the same hook every day; step over the school bag not on it; don’t put gloves/hat/scarf on the floor; put them in your bag; Oh no, don’t tell me your drink has spilled again – it’s ok, put it over on the sink and I’ll put your books on the radiator to dry.” I see the lower lip starts to wobble –“No don’t cry, I’ll explain to teacher why your homework is soggy. Where’s your tissue? It’s gone? Here, blow your nose.” Sitting down at last. Quick word to teacher to explain soggy homework. Back to my lad just in time to referee in a dispute. “Yes I know it was an accident. Apologise. He didn’t mean to put his chair on your foot.” Peace restored. Pencil case out, quickly wipe off juice. “You get out your pencil and rubber while I wash my sticky hands.”

Thomas Day.

Class settles down to copy down that night’s homework from the board. For us however, the eternal struggle begins. “HO…, start writing, ‘HO’- Yes, I’m wearing nail varnish, keep going, ‘ME’ - No, it’s not a funny colour. Why? Because I was out last night. Never you mind where. Come on keep writing, ‘WORK”-

Patricia Fanning, special needs assistant (Dublin), at Leinster House for a presentation to the Oireachtas committee on education in March. WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 17

Special needs assistants

Your say

My lunch time. Peace. Quiet. Heat. Food. Tea. Adult conversation. Back to the frontline. I usually get a wave when I come back into the class. Not today. I sit beside him and he tells me that he is feeling a bit sad as someone in the yard told him they didn’t like his hair cut. There’s always one. We sit side by side with our two heads close together and he confides in me that he didn’t want his hair cut but Daddy said it had to be because he had the nits. I call on my years of experience not to recoil but tell him that it will grow again real soon and he is still very handsome. Big smile. Self-esteem restored. The afternoon brings with it many and varied challenges for him and for me. We get to 2.30pm and hand over to Mammy. We explain the sticky bag and the yogurt incident and ask her to have a look for the missing books and the number line. See you tomorrow. Another day done.

Geraldine Lawlor, special needs assistant, Holy Family National School, Dun Laoghaire pictured with student Nicole Stevenson.

Did the Department of Education get value for their money that day and every other day? I think they did. They also got value for money last sports day when I pushed a wheelchair up and down the field running in the potato race and the egg and spoon race – everything bar the 3 legged race! Was my charge grateful because he was able to take part in sports day for the first time? No, he had a major sulk because we didn’t win any prizes as I didn’t run fast enough.

The morning progresses until break. 10.30. I retrieve the sticky lunch box and drink from the sink which causes an upset because the drink is ‘only half full.’ But when, as if by magic, I produce some water I got from the staffroom two minutes before break he is delighted and I withdraw to a distance to give him a chance to chat to his classmates.

All part of the job, a job I love doing every day.

Never taking my good eye off him I open water bottles, juice cartons, peel bananas, (I don’t do oranges) read the jokes on the Penguin bars, open cheese strings and, my personal favourite, try to liberate the straw from the Capri-Sun pouches. I would really like to talk to the person who invented those.

On a more serious note I work in a job where I have no promotional prospects, I have no job security. I have, by any standard, a poor rate of pay. I pay into a pension but it is very unlikely I will ever benefit from. I am under constant threat of being reviewed. I’m the subject of a value for money audit. I am made to feel like a disposable employee always teetering on the brink of unemployment with no panel available to help me get another position to utilise my years of hard earned experience.

Lunch passes without any drama until we have a “Frube” incident but it’s not too bad. Only spilled it on the table and himself. I escaped this time. Just finished mopping him up when teacher returns and I escape for a cuppa. Wash hands again. When I return from my break he has gone to resource class so I get out the homework notebook and rewrite it to give Mammy a fighting chance of knowing what work is required to be done that night. I have enough time to retrieve all the newly dried books from the radiator. I separate the stuck pages and reassemble the bag before he gets back. Wash hands again. He returns. “Close door behind you. No, don’t fling your folder on the floor, put it into your bag. Yes it’s all dry, it’s still a bit sticky but I did my best. Get out your pencil and number line. You’ve lost it? Don’t worry, I’ll borrow one for now and I’ll make you another one later. No, you’re not stupid, everybody loses things. Ok, let’s go, I’ll explain what we’re doing.” I cajole, encourage, praise progress, and eventually we get to the end. Congratulations all round!!! Midday and we head for the yard. Reversing all this morning’s drama. Once in the yard I’m on high alert. He is growing into his long legs so has a tendency to run too fast, to fall, and to knock others over. He gets upset when others don’t want to play with him, and gets hysterical when someone says that they will tell on him. I am on hand to deal with these and the hundred other dramas that can take place in the space of half an hour. Back in from the yard I relay all the relevant happenings to the teacher. 18


A job that is often thankless and sometimes tedious, always demanding, not to mention dirty. I have been sneezed on, coughed on, dribbled on, spat at, puked on and once even peed on.

In official terms we are with the children to help them to “access the curriculum” which we do with expertise. This is the only part of our job where success can be measured by testing and therefore deemed as being ‘value for money’. But what of the other supports we offer? We support the children emotionally and socially, we protect them from themselves and others, to act as a buffer between them and a world that is not tolerant of their differences. The value of this support is immeasurable and invaluable. What value do we put on helping a child to access education? What value do we put on making a child’s school life happy and fulfilling? When I see the lights of understanding go on in his eyes. When he turns to me for a thumbs up when he gets an answer right. When he runs to me to solve his problems and when I see his smile when he is successful. It is then that I know that I am giving value for money and I know why I do the job. It is for the children. Because they’re worth it ● This is a presentation that Patricia gave at the SNA Annual Delegate Meeting in February 2010. See news on page 40 for more on SNAs.

Sttatrer Le 5 0 €

Writing my way out of the recession

I REALLY enjoyed the last edition of Work & Life. The article on Patricia Scanlan was excellent, but important information was left out. Back in the 1980s, when Patricia was skint and first felt the chill wind of a publisher’s rejection, she was a LGPSU member working in Dublin Corporation in the city libraries. A young lad by the name of Kevin Callinan was the chair of the Dublin City libraries’ vocational group around then too. I wonder whatever happened to him? The article on the savings made in the occupational therapy services in Kildare and west Wicklow was excellent too. A great news story about genuine, hardworking public servants saving taxpayers a fortune. You should send it on to the Sunday Indo. They love those kinds of stories. I suppose, for someone like me, who has worked as a facilitator for workplace partnership in the health services for the past ten years, the concluding reference to a post-social partnership world was a little disheartening. But to coin a cliché, we are where we are. And in the context of all that I thought the letter from IMPACT president John Power was spot on in every way. Well said, John. Also in that context, Isobel Butler’s article on personal development planning was great – simple, straightforward and timely! I mentioned the 1980s earlier. Back in those days I had a neat little sideline in writing letters to IMPACT News each month and claiming the £20 quid that was on offer.

The piece on Patricia Scanlan was titled ‘Writing her way out of the recession’. So here goes. Send me the €30 ASAP (go on, gimme the €50 then). In these times a poor public servant has to turn a buck anyway he can.

a year from now. But we can say one thing with near certainty. That homeless person and many more like him will still be lying in doorways many years from now as our society is destroyed by corruption, greed and mismanagement.

Seosamh O Maolalai Partnership facilitator (still) Boards & Agencies branch.

Meanwhile, back in the warm studio, Vincent, the Dáil deputies and journalists from the Times and the so-called Independent laughed at the hilarity of it all. Jerry King Mayo branch.

Media priorities EVEN IN these times of visceral political blood sports of late 2009 and early 2010, what occurred last night on the Vincent Browne TV3 show was quite remarkable.

The programme replayed an earlier ‘door-stepping’ incident taken from what passes as their news bulletin, showing senator er t lett Dan Boyle being pure bes the rest. h t r o sued by what passes for 0 for €50 f pays ue and €3 out the e f a news reporter, being i L ab & iss think Work ed each u interrogated on the run o y e h t v s publi know wha ssues we’ with questions on the i t s i e u of , r th g Let suggested rotating of cabine o e to think n anythin z a g a o m r m o s e C inet posts by the Green pap view ed. cover now your r pen and ep it party. k u e let us Get out yo orget to k f ! t l ’ l n a As the ‘reporter’ pursued do at . And , the senator through the dark today d shor t. & Life an Work in 1. , and cold streets, minus three n nice a l l o b t, Du isin N degrees last night, there was to Ro ey’s Cour e t i r n c W er a homeless person wrapped impa CT N d IMPA il rnolan@ in a sleeping bag in a doorway signe blish ema y u r a p O m y l e near Kildare Street. We on Work & Lif size. r s. ter fo letter Now we don’t know for sure will ur let o y t i ed the Greens opt for rotation or if

write, hone... r e v e You n ou never p y

they will even be in Government


Work & Life Work & Life is the magazine for members of IMPACT trade union. It is posted on our website and IMPACT members can have it mailed to them by contacting Work & Life at IMPACT, Nerney’s Court, Dublin 1 or by emailing Or call Roisin Nolan on 01-817-1544. IMPACT also produces a monthly e-bulletin with more detailed information about the union’s activities and campaigns, and developments in your workplace. Sign up via the website on IMPACT is Ireland’s largest public sector union with members in health, local government, the civil service, education, the community sector, semi-state organisations, aviation and telecommunications. WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 19

On your bike

TWO IMPACT officials will again raise scarce cash for cancer research with a sponsored cycle from Dublin to the union’s biennial delegate conference in Kilkenny in May.

Photo: Dylan Vaughan.

Put your shoulder to the wheel to raise cancer cash Dessie Robinson and Eamonn Donnelly finishing their 80 mile charity cycle from Dublin to Kilkenny in 2008.

But they aren’t doing it on their own this time. National secretary Eamonn Donnelly and assistant general secretary Dessie Robinson, who pedalled the 80 miles for charity two years ago, have asked IMPACT branches to nominate people to join them in this fundraising event. In May 2008 the dynamic duo did the same stint in less than six hours – raising €20,000 for suicide prevention and the Rape Crisis Centre. If you enjoy the odd cycle, but are daunted by the prospect of six hours in the saddle, you can enter a team of two or three and split the miles between you. “There are very few families unaffected by some form of cancer. This cycle is as much focused on raising awareness about cancer among IMPACT members as it is about fund raising,” says Eamonn. The idea is to donate money raised to hospices in Dublin and Kilkenny.

But the lads plan to have some fun along the way and hope to be joined by some walkers in the final stages of the event. “We want to create a bit of a buzz. Last time Eamonn and myself were minded by two colleagues who made sure we were safe at all times and had stockpiles of food and drink,” says Dessie. “We had loads of fun, training and on the day itself. It is hard, but there is a great sense of achievement when you reach your destination and raise a significant amount of money for charity,” says Eamonn. “We hope to have 20-plus cycling on the day. It will take a lot more organising and we need to know who’s volunteering as soon as possible, but really by midApril,” he added. To get more information, volunteer or make a personal or branch donation, contact Dessie Robinson or Eamonn Donnelly at 01–817-1557 or WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 21

Your career skills and develop the personal qualities required in your professional life. Contact your association and find out what they offer and advise.

Sharpen your skills and optimise your options

Time for change? Do you want to change your role or climb the career ladder? If so, look at the new role you want and identify the required competencies. There are a number of ways of doing this. Has the organisation got a competency model outlining the knowledge and skills required in a role? Civil service departments, Dublin City Council and the HSE are a few examples of organisations that have identified competencies. The HSE has competency models for a broad range of roles including clerical and admin grades, support service managers, nursing managers, health and social care managers, and senior management. You can get these from and use the model to identify your training and development needs. If there is no competency model, read job descriptions or talk to someone who is currently in the role to identify what it involves – and what you need to know to perform effectively.

Want to change your career or simply update your skills? ISOBEL BUTLER outlines some effective steps on the road to lifelong learning.

If you’re interested in a total career change you’ll have to do further research. FÁS has a career directory that provides guidance on what a job involves and the qualifications necessary for that role.

Plan your learning Once you’ve identified your learning needs you should develop a ‘personal learning plan’ that builds on your strengths and outlines how you will meet your learning needs. Bear in mind that you can learn through both formal and informal routes.

THE IMPORTANCE of training and education in today’s economy is something we constantly hear about. Lifelong learning ensures that we have a competent workforce, enables workplaces to adapt to the constantly changing economic and social environment, and allows workers to maintain their employability.

You could undertake a formal programme of education or training in an accredited educational institution. If so, make sure the programme you undertake is either FETAC or HETAC accredited. FETAC provides qualifications from level 1-6 on the national framework for qualifications whilst HETAC provides qualifications from level 6-10.

Self development also helps us achieve our goals, personal growth and satisfaction. A recent EU study found that 82% of Irish people believe that lifetime jobs are a thing of the past and recent research predicts that, in the future, workers are likely to have up to 19 jobs during their lives. But the EU study also showed that three-quarters of Irish people have not participated in a training course in the last year. On the other hand, the Expert Group On Future Skills Needs reported last November that more than one-third of FETAC award recipients were aged between 30 and 49, while one-fifth of higher education awards were made to part-time students – highlighting the increasing move towards lifelong learning.


Getting new skills Getting started on the road of lifelong learning is easy. If you have drawn up a personal development plan (PDP) you may already have undertaken the first step which is identifying your learning needs. Taking personal responsibility for your own learning is a key aspect of lifelong learning. What knowledge and skills do you require to perform effectively in your current role? Do you need to adapt to 22


changes in your workplace or your role? Are there new systems, techniques, work practices, or technologies? Talk to your line manager about the changes happening in the workplace and the priorities for the coming year. Find out how these will impact on you. Then you should be able to identify your learning needs for the coming year. If you are a member of a professional body or association, its continuing professional development (CPD) programmes could help you broaden your knowledge and ➤

Alternatively you could undertake a formal training programme delivered in, or arranged by, your own workplace. Increasingly organisations are ensuring that the training they provide their workforce is accredited. The FETAC website lists a wide range of training modules at level 5 and 6. Open and distance learning are options if you prefer flexible self-paced study. The Open University and OSCAIL are well known providers of degree and post-graduate programmes. NUI Galway is an example of a traditional university offering adult and continuing education through distance learning. At workplace level, increasing numbers of organisations are exploring the development of e-learning programmes that allow employees to engage in self-paced learning in the workplace or from home. Not every learning need requires a formal programme of education. Informal learning options include shadowing a more experienced member of staff, undertaking a work placement or internship in your chosen area, or finding a mentor to give guidance or advice on how to develop your skills through practice, experience and reflection.

Learning checklist ✔ Take responsibility for your own learning ✔ Do your research ✔ Talk to your manager ✔ Talk to someone in the job you are interested in ✔ Assess your competencies ✔ Develop a plan ✔ Combine formal and informal learning ✔ Practice your new skills learning can continue throughout ✔ Remember, your life Keep a record Record all your learning, both formal and informal. Gather evidence to show what you have learnt. If your learning was in a formal setting then certificates should be saved. If your learning was in an informal setting think about what evidence you could gather to demonstrate it. It might be a piece of work, a learner record or a log signed by the person you shadowed or the manager in the area. Your learning plan should also outline how you can practice your new skill and transfer from the learning environment back into the workplace. It is a good idea to talk to your line manager about how you are going to do this before you embark on the learning. Then start the cycle again. Remember it’s lifelong learning, but be realistic and balance your work, family and learning needs ●

Help is at hand FETAC Further Education Awards Council: HETAC Higher Education Awards Council: Open University: Oscail: NUIG: programmmes/distance_learning.html AONTAS National Adult Learning Organisation: FÁS Career Directory: The National Framework of Qualifications:

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. Over the next few issues Isobel will write about a range of topics that can arise out of an individual’s reflection and planning process. If there are any specific issues that you would like her to address in these articles please send them to her via The Editor, IMPACT, Work & Life Magazine, Nerney’s Court, Dublin 1 or WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 23

Looking good

TRISH O’MAHONY finds out its easy and fun to get great bargains by shopping the net.

Clothes on-line DON’T WORRY. I’m not going to get all techie on you. In fact, I’d never bought a single item online, clothes or otherwise, before I started to write this article.

It all changed last weekend though. Eldest daughter arrives home from college on Friday. Starting a three-week work placement on Monday. Busy preparations Saturday and Sunday. And sparse options in the wardrobe. All of a sudden the merits of on-line shopping became our reality. What better way to make life more convenient than shopping on-line? Most of us are time poor and cash poor these days. And the daughter’s jacket cost €58, including delivery, compared to €73 in the store. That’s enough convincing for me. You can save money and, if you shop the net in the right stores, you can be guaranteed delivery on time and save your legs while getting a better selection in irregular sizes. And you can try on in the comfort of your own home.

With many big name outlets you can return stuff you don’t like to your nearest store, with refund value based on the exchange rate of the day if you buy in foreign currencies. Some sites require you to register as a user. It’s straightforward and makes it easier for repeat purchases. Others just look for credit card details.

Secure Some of us worry about security when using credit or laser cards on the web. But it’s no riskier than giving your details over the phone or booking tickets. For extra peace of mind Paypal is an additional security option. And most credit cards companies will refund you if the delivery doesn’t arrive. A lot of smaller boutiques are now investing in on-line facilities. Rococo, which has boutiques in Sandycove, Galway and Dublin, has recently set up its website, which is mainly used to display their stock. There’s a personal touch to the service because customers can view new stock, ring the shop and pay over the phone. An item can be held until they come in to try on, or posted out in the traditional way. ➤

What’s more, your order will arrive in pristine condition, pressed, sealed and on a hanger. As one stylish but fussy user told me: “You know it hasn’t been lying on the changing room floor.” 24


Scarf £25/€33 Bag £25/€25 Lace waistcoat £35/€46. Warehouse.

Others like and offer luxury fashion from top designers, with prices to match and discounts of up to 70% from These sites are updated daily and, at the very least, offer a useful way to see emerging trends. Luxurious packaging and free returns come as standard. Visit for a comprehensive list of chic boutiques all over the country. They update their website monthly so you can keep an eye on what’s coming in. Each boutique has its own microsite so you can decide whether its style is to your liking. This site is particularly useful if you have a special occasion and want to trawl before you travel.

Save money and save your legs while getting a better selection in irregular sizes. And you can try on in the comfort of your own home.

Deborah Harper pictured in her boutique The Glass Slipper, Trimgate Street, Navan. FREE DELIVERY within Ireland online shop at is also worth viewing, especially if you are visiting another country and want to check out boutiques in the area. It has a good selection in Ireland, with new boutiques being added all the time. The Loft Market, Powerscourt Townhouse has recently been added and worth a look if you want a one-off piece.

Foot fetish Those of you with shoe fetishes will love with a range of footwear and accessories to keep any woman happy. Her store is in Navan, if you want to investigate further. Delivery is free in Ireland. is another good site for well known footwear brands. appeals to teens and twenty-somethings, with prices starting from €10.00. In fairness to them they have such a vast range of stock it won’t be blatantly obvious where you got your new dress or blouse. Laser is acceptable.

Another user found very good for petite people. A good selection of jeans, jackets, bags and knitwear. Delivery arrived in under a week, beautifully wrapped and boxed. Delivery is free on orders over €100.00. E-Bay is not as straightforward a way to buy fashion on line, especially if you’re a ‘beginner’● 5

For dresses try It does what is says on the tin! Prices start at €24.00 2 for new season dresses with free delivery on three or more items. But they only give refunds on full price items. It’s exchange only for sale or reduced items.




Tips for cyber success Shop on the sites of high street stores. You can easily return unwanted purchases to your nearest store and save on postage costs. Get a 3V card, which can be topped up in your local shop. Especially useful if you do not have a credit card. Go to

1: Bag, Marc Jacobs, 2, 3, 4: 5: Sequin Bolero, Dorothy Perkins.

Sellers on E-Bay are rated. Make sure you pay attention to ratings. Power sellers describes people who are well trusted – usually shops. Remember this works both ways with buyers rated too.

Some catalogue companies charge more for larger sizes. You also have to pay postage on returns. Security is always an issue with shopping on-line. Always use reputable sites.


Be good to yourself Gxxxxx


Getting your stress under control Why let inevitably stressful situations get the better of you? KAREN WARD writes about dealing with difficult and demanding times in a holistic way.

Count to ten and breathe What to do when we feel our stress levels rising - the sweaty hands, the fast breathing, the pacing thoughts? When we are relaxed and calm our breath is always slow. The reverse is also true. If you breathe slowly you will automatically relax. You might even try a Yoga or T’ai Chi class.

Short bursts of stress can be a good thing, helping us prepare for that exam, interview, or a busy day at work. It can help us perform under pressure and motivate us to do our best. But prolonged stress can cause a lot of damage, including contributing to pain, heart disease, digestive problems, poor sleep, depression and obesity.


Depending where you’re at mentally, physically and emotionally, it is often the little things that get to us while we sail relatively easily through the bigger situations life throws our way. Believe it or not, it can make a huge difference if you are in shape, healthy and have a means to relax during your week. Here are some simple ideas to help you holistically through those inevitably stressful times.

Living in the moment How often do we look at the big, scary picture and think “I’ll never be able to cope”? We tend to bring the past with us, clogging up our brain with old hurts and mistakes. We also try to live for a future better time. Just focus on the here and now, what you can realistically do at that moment. u

xx 2010 26 SUMMER SPRING 2009

Attitude of gratitude

Under stress

These are the things most likely to test your stress levels.

When you get home from work is a great time to work on de-stressing after the busy day. Tell others at home that you are going to take 15 or 20 minutes to yourself for an aromatherapy bath, to listen to a relaxation CD or music, or to just breathe and have a little snooze to recharge your batteries.

Meditation is simply a way to bring the mind from being busy and stressed to being quiet and calm. So lie in bed at night and think of all the things that happened in your day for which you can be grateful. You’ll sleep like a baby.

Those really stressful days

Magic list

This is the time to plan a big treat! Throw yourself 100% into the tough day, but look forward to going home to your safe haven. Close your eyes and imagine that soon you will be on your comfy sofa with a warm rug to snuggle up in.

It’s always a great idea to make a list of what needs to be done in order of priority. Most of us do this at the start of our day, taking pleasure in striking items off as the day progresses. It’s important to factor in breaks and lunch time. This can really tip the balance of taking the main stress factors out of your day l

When can I start these new habits?

On the way home get a weepy or action or comedy video to cry, holler or laugh away the frustrations of the day. Or go for whichever of the many terrific holistic treatments

STRESS IS something that affects us all in varying degrees and at different times in our lives. The stress of going on holidays or being late is not exactly comparable to dealing with a bereavement moving house, ending a relationship, losing your job, or coping with the day-to-day uncertainties of the economic recession.

appeals to you. Acupuncture or reflexology are terrific all round treatments and are very relaxing. The therapeutic benefits of aromatherapy massage are legendary.

Holistic tips to help you work, rest and play IMAGINE YOU are at work feeling stressed and not in the humour to do much work. Your list that day might have two major tasks of top priority and three or more relatively minor tasks. Rather than forcing yourself to do the intimidating main task, tackle one of the minor ones to warm yourself up. That way you’re doing something you don’t mind doing. And, since it’s short and easily done, you’ll finish quickly and feel good as you strike it off your list. By then your mood will

1. Bereavement 2. Divorce or separation 3. Going to court or prison 4. Losing your job 5. Moving house 6. Planning your wedding 7. Work 8. Miscarriage or stillbirth 9. Illness or injury 10. Kids and family

have changed and you will be able to face one of the major tasks. You can also use the treat system here, where you throw yourself into the major task promising yourself a treat afterwards.

Unsustainable heroes It’s possible to be superwoman or superman for some of the time - but not all of the time. Do you know how to say no? Human nature being what it is, others will let us run around after them as long as we offer to do so. Learning to politely say “no” will really pay off in terms of saving your time and energy.

Family time We need to schedule these special family times, rather than spend valuable energy thinking about when we can squeeze them into our busy weeks. You’ll notice that you’ll enjoy it much more when you have planned ahead, and are not stressed l

Holistic therapist Karen Ward, from RTE’s Health Squad and BBC’s The Last Resort’ is the author of bestselling book ‘Change a Little to Change a Lot’ available now in all good book shops.

Work & Life: The Magazine for IMPACT Members 27

Travel and trips Photos:

These days the traditional two weeks abroad isn’t a holiday option for many. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a fantastic family holiday, a romantic few days, a girlie weekend or an outdoor activity break closer to home. Ireland has so much to offer, sun or no sun. MARTINA O’LEARY takes a look.

The Atlantic offers endless opportunities. Surfers lap up the waves at Strandhill, Easky, Enniscrone and Streedagh. On windy days, kitesurfers and windsurfers take over. If, like me, you prefer a more leisurely approach to water you could try a boat trip and go seal, dolphin or bird watching. Alternatively you could cast the rod and catch dinner. There are incredible beaches all around the coast of Ireland. Spend a family day on Tramore strand in County Wexford or try surfing, which is becoming more and more popular.

Staying closer to home ONE GOOD thing about the recession is that it’s injected a bit of prices reality into the Irish hospitality sector. Hotels and restaurants are much more competitive, with special deals and early bird menus pretty much the norm now. Add to this the vast array of activities and places to visit and Ireland starts to look like a better holiday option than ever. A lot of summer activities are free or relatively cheap, and many are run by public servants. Parks, museums, heritage centres, leisure centres and the beautiful beaches and landscape are among them. It’s a beautiful country from the lakes of Killarney, to the mountains of Moran, the Giants Causeway in Antrim or the beauty of Connemara. And you can enjoy city nightlife in Cork, Dublin or Galway and the craic in towns like Westport, Tralee, or Kilkenny. The country is packed with parks from local playgrounds to the big outdoor spaces like Dublin’s Phoenix Park where you can hire bikes, visit Dublin zoo, take a walk, spot the deer, and have lunch. Or why not visit one of Ireland’s six national parks, in Killarney, the Wicklow mountains, Ballycroy in 28


County Mayo on the western seaboard, Connemara or the Burren national parks in the West, or Glenveagh in north west Donegal. With a name like O’Leary it would be remiss of me to mention the rebel county. Four of us, including kids aged ten and eight took a spin down to Cork city during the last mid-term-break. For €200 including breakfast we got a fantastic family room for two nights in the four-star Clarion Hotel. It could easily have accommodated another one or two kids, although parking cost extra. This is a great base to explore the city, described by the Lonely Planet travel guide as one of the ten cities in the world to visit and “at the top of its game: sophisticated, vibrant and diverse.” The English market in Princess Street is a foodies’ paradise, with a great range of fresh produce. Lonely Planet recommends the Crawford municipal art gallery or Saint Finbarr’s cathedral. The kids will love Fota Ireland wildlife park, which is easy to get to by bus, train or car from Cork city. The Cork-Kerry region has too many towns to mention. Among the gems is Baltimore in west Cork where the

County Wexford is renowned for its beautiful beaches and long sunny days and a short drive to the medieval city of Kilkenny takes care of the occasional rainy day.

Cruise control I’ve never tried cruising but I know folks who absolutely love it. You can make it as relaxing or as hectic as you choose. There are four lakeland zones in Ireland, from Lower Lough Erne up the north of the country, flowing down to Limerick. Carrick-on-Shannon is completely geared towards the cruis-

ers, with lots to do, as is the Shannon region. You take things at your own pace, visiting whatever takes you fancy along the way. Last but not least is the east coast. Dublin isn’t just about the city. Outside the city limits you have beautiful forest walks, fantastic beaches, and activities everywhere – not to mention, the brilliant shopping, restaurants, bars and theatres. Reignite those fond childhood memories of weekend drives to Brittas Bay in County Wicklow, a popular beach in the summer, with its two miles of white sand. It’s great for walks even when the sun ain’t shining, which let’s be honest, can happen a lot during the Irish summer.

Adventure If you like visiting old houses there are plenty to choose from Avondale house in Rathdrum, county Wicklow. This birthplace and home of Charles Stewart Parnell is a beautiful house and museum to Parnell’s memory. The house is on the Avondale Forest Park, which is a wonder in itself with forest trails among ancient trees. The kids love the adventure and you can grab a coffee too. Emo Court in county Laois, designed by architect Gandon who also designed Dublin’s Four Courts and custom house. The house opens from Easter to the end of September, while the magnificent gardens are open all year round.

The Sunday drive to Glendalough or Blessington lakes was a firm favourite when I was a kid, or just a stroll on Dun Laoghaire pier and an ice cream from Teddy’s afterwards.

In Kildare you have the National Stud and the Japanese Gardens, plus the towns of Naas and Newbridge. Ladies, the shopping in these towns is to die for. And there are lots of nice hotels and spas in the area.

If you want to go slightly further afield, who remembers eating sand sandwiches on Bettystown and Laytown beaches, in County Meath. Laytown is also known for its September races.

So no matter what your preferences are: relaxation, golf, walking, eating, drinking or music, Ireland has plenty for you to do. Where ever you take your break this summer, enjoy the craic ●

scuba diving is good and there’s an amazing choice of world class golf courses. Fota Island, Old Head links in Kinsale, the renowned Waterville golf links on the Ring of Kerry, or Ballybunnion. Killarney, with its many kids’ activities and family-friendly hotels, has been a long-time firm favourite with my gang.

Out west Travelling over to the west of Ireland Galway – the city of the tribes – is a lively university city famous for its August horse racing festival and its great pubs and restaurants. If you enjoy the craic but like smaller towns, try Westport or Ennis. Both have family-friendly hotels and great pubs and restaurants. Westport house and The Pirate Adventure Park will entertain the whole family with the beautiful gardens and fun rides for the kids. While over in the West, why not take in the beauty of Connemara or the Aran Islands? Travelling further up to the north-west you have Sligo, Leitrim, Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal. The advertising campaign tells you it’s almost as if Sligo’s landscape has been sculpted with activity in mind. ➤




• Smithwick’s Kilkenny Rhythm and Roots Festival, 30th April – 3rd May.

• Carlsberg Cat Laughs Comedy Festival, Kilkenny, 3rd-7th June.

• Ballydehob Traditional Music Song and Dance Festival, county Cork 16th-18th April.

• Dungarvan traditional music festival from 29th April-3rd May.

• Cork Midsummer Festival, 12th-27th June.

• South Sligo sprint walking festival, Aclare, 17th-18th April.

• Burren Slow Food Festival, Lisdoonvarna, County Clare, 21st-23rd May.

• Dublin Handel festival, 13th-19th April.

• Annual Waterford Festival of Food, Dungarvan, 16th-18th April. • Patrick Kavanagh Annual Poetry Weekend, Inniskeen, Monaghan, 17th-18th April.

• Slieve Bloom Walking Festival, Offaly, 30th April– 3rd May.

• Fleadh Nua, Ennis, County Clare, 23rd-31st May. • Tattersalls Ireland International Horse Trials, Rathoath, County Meath, 27th-31st May. • Waterford Seafaring Festival of Music and Song, 28th-30th May.

• Galway County Show, Clarinbridge, 19th20th June. • Dunmore East Festival of Food, Fish and Fun, 25th-27th June.

l a v i t ! s e e F n tim fu


From the kitchen MARGARET HANNIGAN finds a cook book which is great for anyone battling cholesterol or heart issues.

Sally is very aware that food needs to satisfy emotionally, as well as nutritionally, and that a diet of mung beans and spinach, while low in fat, salt, and sugar, and good for your cholesterol, might drive you to distraction. To this end, she has developed, tasty, nutritious dishes that are still fun to eat. It’s particularly refreshing to find that certain foods are not demonised. There is room for red meat, cheese, butter and eggs, albeit on the basis of an occasional treat, or for use with a light touch. And she recognises that sometimes, you’ll want to have the ice cream or eat the cake and on the basis that life’s too short, she’s all for it as long as it’s once in a while. And you make sure to exercise to compensate.

Up to five years ago, writing a cook book was probably the furthest thing from Sally’s mind. She was a 36 year-old mother of three with a fledgling career as a writer, model, and TV presenter, happily enjoying a child’s birthday party in a friend’s back garden. Suddenly she felt very unwell, with crushing chest pain, and nausea. An ambulance crew detected a slight abnormality in her ECG, but she was eventually discharged with some indigestion medicine – how could

7 top tips 1 2 3 30

A treat is not a treat if it happens more than twice a week. Try substituting frozen low-fat yogurt for ice-cream. Think nourishment rather than calories. SUMMER 2010

Exercise is the other big factor in her recovery. “Live Active” is how she describes it, so even if you’re in a supermarket, you work that trolley! I would recommend this book to anyone battling cholesterol or heart issues. But even taken as an everyday family cookbook, it’s really good and a welcome addition to any kitchen. Oh and check out the recipe demonstrations on Sally’s website www.sally makes it all very easy ●

there could be anything else wrong with no history of heart trouble in the family? A couple of days later they got their answer, when Sally collapsed with the first of three massive heart attacks. Eventually, a cardiac consultant diagnosed arterial damage so extensive, that her heart was apparently dying, and taking Sally along with it. The technical term for her condition is spontaneous coronary artery dissection. Women account for 80% of the diagnoses, most of which are only spotted post mortem. In a kind of miraculous Grey’s Anatomy style twist, her heart rerouted the blood through the smaller veins, she survived, and she has had to work very, very hard to regain her health. First of all she took control of her diet and exercise. Concentrating on the nutritional value of food, she favours fresh organic produce, cuts out processed food completely, and cuts down on fat, sugar, and salt. Now, these are standards we can ➤

4 5 6 7

Try to limit carbohydrates to a portion about the size of your closed fist. Ditto for protein, and double for vegetables and fruit. Remember children under five need more fat than older children and adults. Low-fat milk and spreads are not suitable for them.


In fact, Michelle Obama is so impressed with Sally’s work, that she has invited her to tour the White House kitchen garden, where I imagine they’ll swap recipes and healthy eating tips, and get some really nice photos of the kids. This is one heck of an endorsement for a woman who has had no formal cookery training. She learnt the same way you and I did and developed these recipes in her own domestic kitchen, as a way of managing a chronic health condition.


all aspire to, but we often find the taste, and variety of foods, suffers.

A hive of activity WELCOME TO the world of Sally Bee, who, if her website and book The Secret Ingredient are anything to go by, more than lives up to her name. She certainly is busy, a veritable hive of activity, and the buzz (sorry, that’s the last awful pun) surrounding her tasty, healthy recipes has been loud enough to penetrate the walls of the White House itself.

Magnificent moroccan chicken

Summer wines White Santa Rita 120: Honouring 120 patriots who helped lead Chile to independence, and for that reason alone you’d have to try it. Sauvignon Blanc 2009, crisp, fruity, classic taste, smells of summer. €7.99 Supervalu. Galloway Crossing, Chardonnay: Big, buttery flavours from South-Eastern Australia, go well with strong flavours. On special offer in Tesco and Supervalu. €6.99.


Ingredients (Serves 4-6): • 1 chicken, 1.3kg-1.8kg/3-4lb cut into 8 pieces and skinned, or 6 chicken fillets • 2tsp paprika • 1tsp ground cumin • 1tsp ground ginger • 1tsp turmeric • 1tsp cinnamon • Black pepper • 2tbsp olive oil • 3 garlic cloves, minced • 1 onion, finely sliced • 1 glass white wine • 2 preserved lemons, rinsed in cold water and halved, or two fresh lemons, washed and halved • 175g/6oz cup green or black olives • 120g/4.5oz canned chickpeas • 75g/3oz raisins • 600ml/1 pint chicken or vegetable stock • Handful chopped fresh coriander • Handful chopped parsley Pat dry the chicken pieces. Combine the spices in a large bowl, then add chicken pieces and coat well with the spice mixture. Cover, and leave to marinate for an hour. In a large frying pan or non-stick saucepan with a lid, heat the olive oil over a medium high heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook for 7 mins, or until browned on all sides. Lower the heat, and add garlic and onion. Cover and cook for 15 mins.

Eat more colours. In your five-a-day fruit and veg, try to incorporate all the colours of the rainbow, from tomatoes through to beetroot.

Andre Goichot Syrah 2007: A small, family-owned company, based in Beaune in France, has produced this warm drinkable, red cherry flavour. A refreshing change from the heavy winter reds. €6.99 Supervalu.

Add the wine (the alcohol will evaporate), lemon, olives, chickpeas, raisins and stock. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for an additional 35-45 mins, stirring regularly, until the chicken is cooked through and tender,

Exercise. Walk up the stairs, walk the dog, walk in the evening, swim, cycle, whatever. Walk quickly enough to get the heart rate up and be gently out of breath.

McGuigan Cellar Reserve Shiraz 2008: Popularised by South Australian producers, Shiraz is a strong, fruity red, with dark chocolate notes and a kick of spice. Fabulous with roasts or grills. Widely available. On offer €7.49 Supervalu.

Mix in the coriander and parsley, serve immediately with couscous or rice. WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 31

Green fingers

Get the best from your kitchen garden More and more people are turning away from mass produced food and going back to nature. Whether it’s keeping hens for the free-range eggs or growing your own veg, JIMI BLAKE has some hints to help you get delicious offerings straight from your own garden. MAY IS one of the busiest months in the kitchen garden. The soil is warming up and everything should be starting to grow well. Unfortunately the weeds are growing well too, so there’s no time to relax. Do watch out for a late frost. Many growers have been caught out and lost their recently-planted beans. Keep that horticultural fleece handy just in case! If you don’t have any horticultural fleece you can use old net curtains, bubble wrap or the traditional newspaper as a method of insulation when a cold night is forecast. Depending where you are and what you have planted, you may have some salad crops ready. Hardy lettuce, spring onions and fast-growing radish may well be available. If you tried potatoes undercover, you may well be getting the odd meal from these too. Winter cauliflowers, spring cabbage, sprouting broccoli and kale should be ready now. The luxury crop asparagus may be starting for you as well this month. Unbeatable!

Get sowing There is a lot to sow during May and with many crops you can sow one set and then re-sow a few weeks later to give you a succession of fresh vegetables at the peak of perfection. Now is a good time to sow French beans in modular trays and plant out when all risk of frost is gone. I usually leave sowing my carrots until the end of May as this avoids major attack by the carrot root fly, though he does make a return in September. Florence fennel is best sown in mid-June. Any earlier and it will run to seed. I start them off in modular trays and plant them out when about two feet high. Planting out now: Brussels sprouts, summer cabbage, courgettes and beetroot.



Leeks A good rule of thumb with leeks is to get the seedlings about as thick as a pencil. Make a hole about six inches deep using something like the handle of the sweeping brush and drop the seedling in. Water well and allow the soil to fall in naturally. The old method of trimming the roots and top before transplanting leeks is not actually a good thing and has shown to be detrimental. It’s a big enough shock to the plant being taken out of its seed tray.

Runner beans A native of Mexico, the runner bean has been a food crop for more than 2,000 years. Runner beans are not frosthardy so it’s important not to sow or plant them too early. They flourish between 14C and 29C, needing a warm, sheltered position to minimise wind damage and encourage pollinating insects. Soil should be deep, fertile and moisture retentive. Dig a trench in late autumn 12 inches deep and 24 inches wide adding plenty of well-rotted manure. It’s important to rotate them around the garden each year. Runner beans need supports to climb up as most grow up to 10 feet. Last year, I used a lovely old stepladder which was left behind after the builders left Hunting Brook. Later on in the season, my builder arrived back and saw his stepladder covered in runner beans! There are some busy dwarf types which crop earlier but are lower yielding. I sow them indoors, in modular trays, at the end of April with one seed in each section and then plant them out at the start of June when the risk of frost is gone. Enjoy the fruit of your labours l

We all love to see the blooms appearing in spring and early summer. These ones are delighting JIMI BLAKE. CORUS EDDIE’S Wonder is a spectacular form which was first selected by a British Columbia nurseryman called Eddie’s White Wonder Henry Matheson Eddie. Cornus x ‘Eddie’s White Wonder’ has lovely, huge, creamy-white flower bracts in late spring and early summer.

Flowering favourites

Meconopsis Lingholm

These flower bracts appear on this cultivar earlier in the year than on other Cornus Kousa. The leaves are bright green in spring-summer and, in a good year, will turn a fantastic, rich strawberry pink-red colour in the autumn.

This is an unusual and delightful garden plant with sensational flower bracts. Grow it in full sun in fertile and well-drained soil. It will grow into a large shrub or small tree with branching and sometimes a slightly tiered shape. The flowering of this Cornus is somewhat dependent upon the previous year’s summer weather. After a long, hot summer, the following year’s flowering will be magnificent and after a cold, wet summer the following year’s flowering will be poor or sporadic.

Meconopsis Lingholm

This stunning blue poppy must be one of the most desirable garden plants and certainly one of my very favourites. The most important requirement for the blue poppy is acidic soil. It rarely thrives in limey soils no matter how well prepared. They will grow into bigger plants if you remove the flowers in the first year. But I can never bring myself to do it. Sow the seeds the same day you collect them and they will germinate the following spring. You can also divide in spring every three years when growth is starting. This year I am combining my blue poppies with primulas which flower at the same time and grow in the same conditions l

Spring into action

bulbs like gladiolus, begonias any flowering shrubs early as they finish • Summer • Prune and lilies can still be planted flowering. If you’re not sure how to prune them, buy a good book on pruning. I recommend the Royal Horticultural Society’s Pruning and Training.

out during May. Early in the month if possible.

Helleborus with chicken • Feed pellet manure now, with two

Plant out cannas and dahlias, putting plenty of well• rotted manure in each planting hole. A sunny location is

handfuls into each plant. Collect seeds as soon as they are black. A fleece tied around the seed head will prevent them dropping. Sow seeds straight away after collecting. Keep in mind that these seeds need warm to cold–warm temperatures to germinate l

Plant out bedding plants only when the risk of frost is gone. I know the garden centres are fully stocked for weeks now, but if the plants get frosted they rarely recover.

important for them to flower well.

• Sow sweet pea seeds directly outdoors for late flowering if you forgot to sow them earlier, like I did this year. up cuttings rooted since last autumn into a two• Pot litre pot.

Out and about...Meet Jimi at his Hunting Brook

stand at the Bloom in the Park garden festival in Dublin’s Phoenix Park on the June bank holiday.

Work & Life: The Magazine for IMPACT Members


At the movies

Familiarity breeds cash and contempt MORGAN O’BRIEN says nostalgia guarantees success for the movie business. But is it good cinema? powerful, and no doubt profitable, mnemonic device.

NOW THAT the serious contenders have basked in their Oscar glory, it’s safe for filmgoers to turn their attention to the guilty pleasure of the summer blockbusters.

The film boasts a diverse, and indeed promising, cast with a silver-haired Liam Neeson playing Hannibal Smith, the chiselled torso of Bradley Cooper as Templeton ‘Faceman’ Peck. District 9’s fidgety Sharlto Copley is ‘Howling Mad’ Murdoch, and ultimate fighting champion Quinto Jackson assumes the mantle of B.A. Baracus.

One brand that should catch the attention of a particular demographic is The A-Team, scheduled for release in July. For those of us of a certain vintage, the original television series evokes memories of Saturday mornings planted giddily in front of the television precariously holding a bowl of cereal, gripped by the excitement of the early morning sugar rush.

There is, however, something disquieting about the enterprise. The ATeam movie is indicative of the wider trend for recycling old television standards for the cinema. This increasingly prominent tendency signals a paucity of ideas and a retreat from originality, which renders it something of a retrograde form of cultural production.

In this context, the forthcoming cinema release of The A-Team is comforting for the sense of nostalgia it carries with it. This revival can be seen as Hollywood wishing to tap into this

Coming up Date Night

(9th April) Steve Carrell and Tina Fey star as a married couple who get drawn into a series of comedic episodes on a night out in Manhattan.


Playing to this familiarity, the cast of The A-Team appear to be made up to look as close to the original as possible. With the early trailer replete with a stockpile of instantly identifiable pop-culture signifiers: from the quips and explosions to BA’s mohawk haircut and Hannibal’s cigar. Of course the tone of the television series was often exceedingly frivolous.

But before that familiar GMC truck, black with red stripe, comes blazing across the screen there are some other notable releases to tide you over.

Clash of the Titans (2nd April) A sword-and-sandals epic set in Ancient Greece, where Perseus (Sam Worthington) ventures to the underworld to battle Hades (Ralph Fiennes).


From a business perspective, lest we forget that movies are a business, such practices make perfect sense. Familiarity is easy to market. There is no requirement on the audience to invest time in learning about a whole new narrative or set of characters. The context is established and understood, and, of course, the theme tune is instantly recognizable.

Whip It! (9th April)

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

Drew Barrymore makes her directorial debut in this story of a Texan roller derby. Barrymore also stars alongside Ellen Page, Marcia Gay Harden and Kristen Wiig.

Oliver Stone returns with a sequel to his 1987 cultural touchstone and preposterous subtitle to boot. Michael Douglas reprises his role as Gordon Gekko, with Shia LeBeouf as his protégé,

Cemetery Junction (16th April) A 1970s coming-of-age tale written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. Set in Gervais’ home town of Reading, the film follows three men working in an insurance company.

Centurion (23rd April) Neil Marshall directs this historical thriller set amongst a Roman legion as they face-off against the Picts. Dominic West, Michael Fassbender and Olga Kurlyenko lead a solid cast.

How then, in an era of sophisticated and politically aware action movies such as the Bourne series, and to a certain degree the recent James Bond movies, will The A-Team present itself? Growing up, the political significance of the show was lost for me amid the cacophony of explosive action-adventure. However, New Statesman columnist, and filmmaker, Mary Harron

Robin Hood

Death at a Funeral

(14th May) Ridley Scott’s long-delayed tale of Robin of Loxley’s (Russell Crowe) descent into criminality or heroism, depending on your point of view.

(4th June) A remake of a 2007 British comedy, which was itself a remake of a Bollywood film. Neil LaBute directs Chris Rock in this black comedy set against the backdrop of a funeral.

The Killer Inside Me Iron Man 2 (30th April) Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) returns to do battle with Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash. The film boasts a strong support cast including Don Cheadle, Sam Rockwell and Scarlett Johansson.

Nightmare on Elm Street (7th May) Remake of the classic Wes Craven horror, where a group of suburban teenagers are haunted in their dreams. Rent-an-oddball Jackie Earle Haley plays disfigured killer Freddy Krueger.

characterised the television series as ‘right-wing American populism’, viewing it as part of the translation of Vietnam into an acceptable popular mythology. The forthcoming film adopts the familiar motif of soldiers of fortune on the run ‘for a crime they didn’t commit,’ but with the context resituated from Vietnam to the Middle East. It will be interesting to see how much The A-Team challenges the joyful, and somewhat gauche, militarism of its progenitor. Judging from the trailer, it would seem not at all. Nevertheless, the film appears as perfectly assured gung-ho action adventure in the mould of Die Hard, with plenty of crash-bang-wallop for your buck. Whether it includes the sort of political comment found in the Bourne series remains to be seen. Perhaps the most significant shift will be from the innocence of the series – where amidst shoot-outs, car crashes and many, many explosions nobody ever appeared to be seriously hurt – to a more grown-up tone containing a greater level of spectacle and an actual body count. Putting cynicism aside, when handled well the bombast of an action blockbuster can produce a thoroughly entertaining cinema experience. Unfor tunately, the promise doesn’t often deliver. Ultimately what audiences will hope for from The A-Team is more in the vein of Mission Impossible than Transformers ●

(21st May) The prolific Michael Winterbottom returns with a controversial adaptation of Jim Thompson’s pulp novel about Texas Sheriff (Casey Affleck) compelled to commit a series of murders.

Sex and the City 2 (28th May) No amount of critical bludgeoning can stop the ‘SATC’ juggernaut. In this sequel Carrie and her crew will most likely be buying shoes and trying to look ‘fabulous’.

Greenberg (11th June) Best described as, perhaps, a ‘hipster’ romantic comedy, Greenberg stars Ben Stiller as a man trying to figure out what to do with his life. Get Him to the Greek (25th June) In this spinoff from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Jonah Hill plays a record company intern charged with the task of transporting a British rock star (Russell Brand) to a concert.


Book club

Book reviews

Going clubbing

On line dating

Our regular book reviewer MARGARET HANNIGAN takes a peek into the growing world of book clubs. SOMETHING VERY interesting has happened. Very quietly, in sitting rooms and public libraries all over Ireland, the number of book clubs has exploded. There may actually be more book clubs than there are golf clubs, which makes me feel like dancing in the streets and pressing fivers into the hands of passing strangers. If staying in is the new going out, (And who can afford green fees and checkerboard jumpers these days) then being in a book group is the new disco. So, how did this happen? And what exactly is a book club? Well, a book club is a group of people getting together to read and discuss books, usually in someone’s home, over a cup of tea or a glass of wine. If that doesn’t suit, your local public library will have a reading group or two, and there are online groups like the one recently started by The Irish Times (irish Book clubs give the solitary reader the opportunity to get out from behind those dog-eared pages, and share with the group. Whether you loved or hated the book, you don't have to say goodbye on the final page. And you have a chance to debate the highs and lows and consider what impact the writing had on you. It’s really interesting to get a cross-section of views, and a great insight into how we process information. Plus, it’s a great way to keep in touch and have a laugh. The only requirement is a keen interest in reading. Everything else just flows from that. Book clubs tend to be a female pastime, possibly because for blokes it’s too talky-sharey-feelingy, and (unlike a lot of golf clubs) it’s open to everyone. Book clubs have also traditionally offered women a break from domestic responsibilities, and a chance to think about something other than what's for dinner and will it make us put on weight. 36


THE O’HARA AFFAIR by Kate Thompson (AVON, £11.99 in the UK).

WHEN I read the blurb on the back of this book I expected something very formulaic; three very different women, each at a turning point in their lives, set in the type of perfect Irish town which doesn’t really exist. All very Cathy Kelly, I thought, and probably not as good.

Contrary to urban legend, Oprah Winfrey did not invent book clubs, but she did thump them on the chest and give them the kiss of life in 1996 simply by mentioning a book called The Deep End of the Ocean by J Mitchard on her TV show. The next day book stores sold out and Oprah’s Book Club was born. Now, an endorsement by Oprah is worth more in terms of book sales and author exposure than any literary prize or review, though opinion is divided among writers and critics as to whether or not this is a good thing! Johnathan Franzen, alone among authors, refused to have his book The Corrections, used as Oprah's pick, saying it wasn't "that kind of book". Hmmm, Could his nose really have wanted to spite his face that much? Starting a book club is easy-peasy. You just ask interested friends, neighbours, and friends of friends, then agree how often you’ll meet, where and when. And of course, you have to pick a book! That’s often the hardest part. Some groups vote, or pick books around a theme, or some leave it up to whoever’s hosting the meeting. There’s always prizewinners, and best sellers to consider, but often the best picks come from the stash of must-reads each member has piled by the bed - that aspirational pile, hidden under the latest murder mystery, and a Sunday supplement or two. Check out a great website, which offers advice on everything from starting up, to dealing with book group divas (and reader, I have met them) to how to handle people who don’t actually finish (or even start) the book. Met them too. Once you’re up and running, there’s the annual Ennis book club festival, which has plays, readings, public interviews, and even chocolate tasting. And remember the advice of one reader who when faced with any tricky book club situation says she asks herself “What would Jane Austen do?” Watch out Oprah, Jane Austen has you in her sights ●

Internet predator PRETTY LITTLE THINGS by Jilliane Hoffman (Harper Collins, £12.99 in the UK).

Thankfully I was wrong. The women are terrific but imperfect; Fleur, who owns a boutique so classy that Hollywood stars shop there when they’re in town, Dervla, just married who has lost her work in auctioneering and now plans a back to nature life in her new home, Bethany a beautiful young girl who dreams of becoming an actress. Unease sets in early on, particularly with Fleur’s millionaire lover Corban, producer of the film currently being made in Lissamore. Dervla’s idyllic notions are replaced by the reality of caring for her mother-in-law who has dementia and Bethany is unknowingly walking into danger when she falls in love on the internet site, Second Life. This is a refreshing read; it is modern, irreverent at times and witty. There were some very genuine moments of pathos in the depiction of the woman with dementia, and the sheer exhaustion of caring for someone with this condition was very well portrayed. The lurking dangers in the use of the internet for socialising was well realised and the feel-good factor of the description of the beautiful town by the sea is there too. Very enjoyable. Kathryn Smith

KILLER THRILLERS are always popular, both in books and on TV, but finding a new angle can be a problem. A topical subject right now is the danger of internet socializing, especially to children. This book takes the reader into the mind of thirteen year-old Elaine Emerson, a girl with sub-optimal care and low self-esteem and shows how easy it is for a predator to work his way into the life of a child. Posing as a seventeen year-old football captain, and using the typical language of teenagers, the stalker gains Elaine’s confidence easily before inviting her to meet him. Of course Elaine doesn’t tell anyone that she is going to meet her ‘boyfriend’ so when she disappears, there are no leads to follow. Because of her slightly dysfunctional family, the police at first consider that Elaine is just another teenage runaway, but this assessment does not sit well with special agent Bobby Dees. If anyone knows the pain of having a missing child, it is Dees, whose own daughter is missing, so he is not prepared to give up easily in any case. The tension builds well throughout the book and there is plenty to keep the reader guessing. Hoffman’s depiction of a brutal killer and the horror that the young girls suffer at his hands is convincingly portrayed. While the story is a little bythe-numbers, the characters are sympathetically drawn and once involved with them, I wanted to finish it. Kathryn Smith continued on page 38 ➤ WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 37

More book reviews

Union business

Predictable tale

IMPACT seeks deal on pay and pensions

BLOOD BROTHERS by Josephine Cox (Harper Collins, £18.99 in the UK).

Then there’s the plot, which is simply another variation on the Cain and Abel story – Joe, the good, caring, brother, gets blindsided, by Frank, the bad, psychopathic, money-grabbing brother, with lots of collateral damage to loved ones, neighbours and assorted wildlife. Then there’s all that snarling and muscle-flexing over Alice, who’s engaged to bad Frank, but actually would really prefer hot, smoky love with good Joe. (What, two brothers fighting over a woman – how did she think of that? – well I may be jumping the gun here, but surely that can’t end well, hint, hint, spoiler alert!) There’s also the question of how Tom and Nancy, the good, salt-of-the earth parents survived farm life without a serious accident for so long, hampered as they were by the blind eye and the deaf ear turned to Frank’s psychopathic episodes in his childhood years, which had “Hannibal Lecter clone! Get help now!” written all over them. But this is not the only problem. Shakespeare himself apparently concluded that there are only five plots in the world, so constant readers are bound to encounter some repetition, but it’s the writing, and the characters that make the difference. Unfortunately, these lads drown in a morass of clichés and stereotypes, and bring everyone down with them. Really, every single character is so predictable, it’s like a recurring nightmare. Now, to be fair, anyone who has the stamina and drive to actually complete a book, and get it published – and this lady has had almost 40 titles published, deserves respect. According to the press release, Josephine Cox has sold over 15million books worldwide, and last year, was the most borrowed UK adult women’s fiction writer from public libraries. I mean, those books can’t all have been used just to prop up wobbly tables, and a review is just one person’s opinion. Well, you know mine now. Margaret Hannigan 38


The talks are being facilitated by senior Labour Relations Commission (LRC) officials Kieran Mulvey and Kevin Foley.

Life after 60

As the talks got underway, IMPACT general secretary Peter McLoone outlined the unions’ core objectives as: ● The need for certainty that there will be no further public service pay cuts

LOVERS & NEWCOMERS by Rosie Thomas (Harper Collins, £12.99 in the UK).

● The restoration of 2009 pay scales and reversal of the so-called ‘pension levy’ over time

THIS BOOK taps into the hopes and desires of a new demographic, coming soon to an office near you, the rather-be retireds. They’re the ones who have just finished paying for college fees, perhaps a wedding or two, who are wondering, well, what comes next? From the groovy 60’s, to glucosamine supplements, all in a fast-forward blur, how did that happen? And how can we get it back?

● The protection of pensions

Miranda Meadowe, despite her frankly unbelievable name, has the answer. She’s inviting five of her best friends to come and live in a kind of commune with her, in her big old farm out in the country. They talked about it often enough in their student days, and really, why should advancing age be any deterrent? They all get along famously, she has loads of room, inside and out, and apparently boundless energy for preparing and cooking three-course meals for a tableful of people at the drop of a hat. What can go wrong? Suffice to say, older does not guarantee wiser, and the group soon revisit old tensions, and those destroyers of a good time, unresolved feelings.Miranda, recently widowed, has an empty nest to fill, while Polly and Selwyn are cuckoos, looking for a place to roost. Then there’s Amos and Katherine, escaping a personal and professional crisis, and Colin, ill, and grieving for his murdered lover, Stephen, all seeking to reinvent themselves. Throw a hunky archaeologist, and a cheeky local lassie into the mix, then light the touch paper and stand well back. Soon Selwyn is eyeing Miranda, while Polly eyes escape, and Amos battles local planners, while Katherine tours the trenches with the archaeologist. And no, it’s not happy endings all round, but it is perhaps more convenient than real life ever allows. For all that, it’s wellwritten escapism, and many of us will finish it wishing for a Miranda in our lives, and a place at the table with our name on it. Margaret Hannigan

Photo: Conor Healy.

THE FIRST thing you notice is the title Blood Brothers. Now am I wrong, or isn’t that already a musical/stage play/ chart hit from the late 80’s? Obviously, the lawyers have sorted out any copyright issues, but you know, it doesn’t augur well when even the title is not original. The lady writes fiction, couldn’t she just, oh I don‘t know, I’m guessing here, maybe just make something up?

RENEWED DISCUSSIONS between public service management and unions were intensifying as Work & Life went to press. IMPACT and other unions are trying to reach an agreed resolution to the current dispute over pay cuts and threats to jobs and pensions.

● The avoidance of compulsory redundancies ● Dealing with the consequences of the recruitment and promotions moratorium and ● The need for an agreed approach to management proposals for outsourcing.

Hospital strike avoided A STRIKE at Mount Carmel was avoided after management agreed to union demands for a suspension of pay cuts and an independent review of the private hospital’s financial position. IMPACT led a lunchtime protest and served strike notice on the hospital early in March.

As expected, the management side identified public service reforms, including an agreeUnion official Dessie Robinson said earlier ment on redeployment within talks over the hospital’s financial position had and between public service orfailed to reach a solution. The hospital claims ganisations, as its main priorto have lost €7 million over the last three ity. Management described the years. budgetary situation as “extremely serious,” but said it was willing to review the pay cuts within the context of the budgetary situation. The talks were triggered after IMPACT and other unions announced an escalation of the industrial action, which has been in place since the end of January. Then, at the request of Kieran Mulvey, the unions agreed not to escalate the current industrial action while the talks were underway. But unions insisted that the existing industrial action remains in place. Peter McLoone said that any agreement would be put to a national ballot of IMPACT members, but he warned that industrial action would escalate if the talks failed. Peter McLoone said the industrial action had played a major part in bringing the employers back to the negotiating table. “It is vital that all our members ensure that the action continues to be effective on the ground,” he said.

“This is a private hospital, which is not covered by the legislation that cut public service pay. Although it claims to be making losses, we have seen no evidence of that. On the face of it, it seems more likely that, in line with Government and IBEC policy, management is trying to exploit the public service pay cuts to drive down incomes across the economy,” he said. The deal was brokered by the Labour Relations Commission.

The ICTU Public Services Committee, which has been coordinating elements of the campaign, earlier warned that the next phase of industrial action would be an escalation to withdrawals of labour. This could include rolling two-hour work stoppages. Public servants’ gross incomes have been cut by up to 14% in the last year through pay cuts and the so-called ‘pension levy’. The unions reject the Government’s view that there is ‘no alternative’ to the pay cuts and say they put forward an alternative approach last year, which would have delivered the payroll savings required by the Government in 2010 while ensuring that vital services were protected and enhanced as expenditure and staff numbers continued to fall in future years. WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 39

Union business

Union business

Aer Lingus cost savings approved

Shay Cody is new general secretary

The cost savings plan produced by Aer Lingus management in November 2009, known as ‘Greenfield’, will now proceed following ballots by IMPACT members in cabin crew and the pilots’ branch, IALPA. The savings plan, which is valued by the company at €97 million, is designed to reduce the airline’s cost base by 7.5%.

Cabin crew initially rejected the proposals with 36% in favour and 64% against. While IMPACT had recommended the approval of the measures to cabin crew, the union recognised that aspects of the proposals would be very difficult for members to accept, particularly as it came less than a year after the workers had agreed to substantial cost saving measures, valued by Aer Lingus at €15 million at the time.

Photo: Conor Healy.

Teagasc workers win IMPACT AND Siptu members in Teagasc beat an effective lock-out earlier this year. The nine fixed-term workers were locked out by the state agriculture and food development authority after the Labour Court recommended that they be

made permanent. But they secured their jobs following union protests. Celebrating in the picture here are (left to right) IMPACT members Dorothy Ahearne and Melissa Corey of Teagasc with Shay Clinton, Assistant General Secretary IMPACT.

The company threatened to make all cabin crew compulsorily redundant and then re-hiring all but 230 cabin crew on reduced terms and conditions of employment. IMPACT sought the assistance of the Labour Relations Commission to see if the parties could be reconvened. Despite the company’s insistence that it would not return to the LRC or accept a re-ballot of cabin crew, extensive bilateral discussions took place at the LRC. These talks provided deeper clarifications on a range of matters which made it possible for the branch committee to re-ballot members. A second ballot approved the plan by a margin of 92% in favour. The cabin crew branch committee said that the past few months had been an exceptionally difficult time for cabin crew. However, the committee said that they hoped that this will mark the start of a new relationship with management which is based on the principal of mutual respect.

IMPACT official Philip Mullen expressed the union’s concerns that the current round of cuts to the SNA service is not driven by a reasoned approach to the needs of children. He said that jobs are being shed from the system despite a continuing need for the service, meaning that vulnerable children will lose out on continuing access to education, despite existing legislation to facilitate access to education for children with special education needs. “We believe that the cuts are driven more by crude – and ultimately bogus – financial considerations. That is, more by the McCarty report than by any attempt to meet the rights of children with special educational needs in a fair and efficient manner. All of the stakeholders in this issue accept that while there is an obvious need to ensure that the service delivers in a cost effective and transparently accountable way, it must continue to be a needs-based service, with the best interests 40


The appointment followed a public competition. Shay has served as IMPACT’s deputy general secretary since 1996. He currently leads the union’s Services and Enterprises division as well, where he has dealt with significant changes and restructuring in aviation, telecommunications, forestry and state agencies.

of children at its heart” he said. He added that SNAs are committed to finding better ways to provide for the children they work with, so long as the rights and needs of these children are protected. They also need to have confidence that their entitlements as employees are similarly respected. He explained that the union made a submission to the ‘Value for Money and Policy Review of the Special Needs Assistant Scheme’ in November 2008, with suggestions on more efficient use of resources, clarifying the role of SNAs, professional qualifications, and the basis of employment which would best facilitate redeployment of staff as required. “Our contention is that the outcome of this review would have provided a better and more reasoned approach to ensuring that the rights of these vulnerable children are protected” he said. Following the presentation to the Committee, Fine Gael’s education spokesperson, Brian Hayes TD, tabled a private members motion to the Dáil on the issue which was scheduled for debate on 31st March, just as Minister Mary Coughlan was moved to the re-named Department of ‘Education and Skills’.

Briefly HSE card shuffle

Shay Cody.

Following Shay’s appointment, current IMPACT national secretary for health Kevin Callinan won a competition to become the new deputy general secretary designate. He will assume the role of deputy once Shay takes over as general secretary. It was subsequently announced that the current national secretary for the civil service, Louise O’Donnell, will take on the Health & Welfare portfolio when Kevin moves into his new role. Two new national secretaries – Eamonn Donnelly and Matt Staunton – were also appointed following a competition. They will replace Shay in his Services and Enterprises division role and Louise in the civil service, although their respective allocations had not been made when Work & Life went to press.

New youth committee Photo: Michael Crean.

IMPACT REBUFFED HSE claims that the medical card backlog was cause by industrial action. The union revealed internal HSE correspondence from the HSE, which admitted that delays were caused by an upsurge of demand and the fact that jobs had been left vacant by the staffing embargo. The HSE claims were made at an Oireachtas Committee hearing. IMPACT also made submissions to the oireachtas committee on health and children.

Haiti helped IMPACT DONATED €50,000 to Concern’s Haiti appeal and its general secretary Peter McLoone has written to the union’s 100-plus branches asking them to consider making additional donations from branch funds. It’s estimated that 220,000 people died in the earthquake and 1.5 million are now homeless. Health and sanitation infrastructure was also destroyed.

Low pay attack

IMPACT HAS established a new Youth Committee, which will campaign to attract young workers into IMPACT membership and increase their participation in the union.

UNIONS ARE fighting a Government assault on minimum pay rates. Cheered on by employer groups like IBEC and ISME, the Government has said it will amend the Industrial Relations Amendment Bill 2009 – initially designed to strengthen worker protections – to allow employers plead ‘inability to pay’ minimum pay rates set out in existing Employment Regulation Orders and Registered Employment Agreements. IMPACT predicted that public service pay cuts would pave the way to cuts in minimum pay.

The committee, which will report directly to the union’s elected executive committee, is chaired by pilot Joe May of the union’s IAPLA branch.

Portiuncula pledge

At its first meeting the sub-committee outlined a number of possible initiatives including producing union publications targeted at young workers, organising a highprofile national event, negotiating commercial discounts attractive to young people, and conducting surveys to see what young people want from their union.

HEALTH MINISTER Mary Harney told IMPACT she would ensure staff were consulted over HSE plans to downgrade Portiuncula and Roscommon hospitals by making them report direct to University Hospital Galway. Union official Padraig Mulligan raised the issue during a ministerial visit to Ballinasloe after management tried to impose the change. He also outlined threats to local staff and services in community mental health. “IMPACT is determined to stand with the community to protect jobs and services in Ballinasloe,” he said.

The pilots approved the measures by a margin of 81% in favour to 19% against. IALPA said that the cost savings agreed with management represent another investment by members in Aer Lingus.

IMPACT takes SNA fight to the Oireachtas IMPACT’s Special Needs Assistants (SNA) branch made a presentation to the Oireachtas Committee on Education and Science in March concerning the ongoing cuts to SNA posts. Huge uncertainty remains as to the extent of the cuts, with best estimates as high as 1,200 posts.

IMPACT’s executive has announced Shay Cody as the union’s general secretary designate. Subject to ratification at IMPACT’s biennial delegate conference in May, Shay will take over from the union’s current general secretary Peter McLoone when he retires in the second half of this year.

Youth Committee members Mark Mulhall, Amanda O’Hara, Mark Finlay, Joe May, Ciara Browne and Brian Furey.

“Young people are the future and the union will die if we don’t attract them into membership by listening to them and responding to their needs and aspirations. This committee is a first step in making sure that IMPACT does this important work systematically and professionally,” said Joe. The committee is also working closely with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ youth committee, which coordinates young activists from all the unions. ICTU is finalising the production of an impressive schools pack, which will enable teachers to facilitate project work on the role and activities of unions. The initiative was funded by IMPACT’s former Tax Officials branch.


Play it loud

Photo: Getty Images

Anyway, it got me thinking. It’s a fact of life that, when it comes to music, for the most part boys and girls hear it differently. Let’s first deal with the basic rule of storage. Size does matter. From the days of vinyl to CDs and now the iPod, men just have to collect and store. Remember the bedsit parties in the seventies and eighties? Regardless of the state of penury you confronted, if your host was a man there would be one wall of vinyl archive reflecting the anorak-collection-geek that lurks in every one – along with his deep insecurity about wanting to appear to have, ahem, more. If you get my drift. Women are far more relaxed about this. They are quite happy for the music to “be.” They don’t have the same obsessive need to put it on display or to fill the gigabytes that the latest model boasts. I just don’t get it. As my maths teacher used to say “Connolly, there’s more logic in a lucky bag.”

5 the boys can’t abide 1.

Candle In The Wind by Elton John (1974) Silly man gets on boys wicks while tackling the tricky subject of the effect of moving air on candle flames.


Dancing On The Ceiling by Lionel Ritchie (1986) Chris Kamara tribute act discovers gravity is not an issue. What a feeling.


The Time Of My Life by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes (1987) No gold medleys for this effort from one of the worst movies of all time.

4. Man I Feel Like A Woman by Shania Twain (1999)

I don’t like knocking musical taste but I’ll endure the pain on this occasion. Because there’s definitely a difference between the sexes.

Men are from Mars, women are from Motown I should clearly state that I’m all for equality across all spectra of society and that includes women. But wasn’t there a book once called Why men can’t do two things at once and women can’t read maps? I can buy that. Men have to wait until half-time to merely concentrate on putting on the kettle. And you should never ask a woman for directions. But back to the Lady Gaga tea break incident. My point was that, in the era of Cowell and Walsh, Gaga’s imagination and creativity at least provides a ray of pop-cultural hope. The response I got ranged from “you only like her cause you’re a 42


5. What a feeling by Irene Cara (1983)

Choose carefully

Girls and boys see things differently when it comes to listening to music. RAYMOND CONNOLLY opines.

THE OFFICE tea break is a wonderful learning institution. It’s well known among my thirsty colleagues that modern mainstream pop is not my, er, cup of tea. But I was fairly well put in my place by the women when I began to sing the praises of Stefani Germanotta – aka the wonderful Lady Gaga.

Good for you Shania. You deserve it. You are one.

man and she wears no clothes,” through “she’s had plastic surgery,” to “that’s not even her real head!” And even “she’s actually a man.” Stop the madness! A man? I do realise the ageing process can play havoc with your eyes but I am absolute in my confidence that I can still tell the difference. Lady Gaga a man? That would be like saying Bono is a woman.

Be honest. How many honchos do you know who’ve bought (or admitted to buying) a Beautiful South record? Choose your friends more carefully if the answer is more than two. And who bought those billions of Lionel Ritchie albums? They definitely never featured in Mojo album of the year. Who put Michael Buble on the map? Women must clearly take responsibility! Equally, have many times have you seen a women emerge from HMV with The Jam’s All Mod Cons under their arm? Or Who’s Next? And isn’t it ironic that you’ll never, ever, find the Stones classic Some Girls in a lady’s record collection.

5 that grate on the girls 1.

Too Much Too Young by The Specials (1979) You’re married with a kid and you should be having fun with me? Boys will be boys.

Maybe I became blinkered in my early days. My family’s first ‘stereo’ was mistakenly set up in the same room as the television, leaving my sister and I to battle over the choice of entertainment.


She was much older. She inevitably won. That usually meant more Meg Mortimer than Sid Vicious.


Hurry Up Harry by Sham 69 (1978) “We’re going down the pub.” For cryptic crosswords and intelligent conversation I might add.

The Boys Are Back In Town by Thin Lizzy (1976) Dino’s bar and grill has never seen trade like it since.

Anyway, back to modern life. Me and Mrs C were planning a dinner party the other day and Lady Gaga came on the TV. There was a bit of a cool silence. “We haven’t seen Lady Gaga for a while,” I said. “Who’s she bringing?” asked Mrs C.

4 Anarchy In The UK by The Sex Pistols (1976) Designed to harness young boys’ energy and testosterone levels in a caring environment.

I’ll get my coat ●

More vitriol arrived in the form of “it was disgraceful that the kids were subjected to that at her concert.” Well blow me down. Bringing six-year-olds to a Gaga concert? Lack of judgement methinks. And, in any event, when Slade were undisputed kings of the pop charts and Neville Holder and Co rolled into town, I don’t think there was any fear of my father saying “C’mon Raymo, we’re off into town to see The Slade.” Back then the only O2 that I knew was my beloved Arsenal’s regular home scoreline. ➤

And we’re not even dancing on the ceiling!

5. Fat Bottomed Girls by Queen (1978) Best say nothing.

Summer 2010 Soduko Solutions (From page 48.)

9 1 3 2 8 6 7 5 4

2 5 7 3 9 4 6 8 1

4 6 8 1 7 5 2 3 9

6 8 1 4 2 3 9 7 5

7 9 2 5 1 8 3 4 6

Solution easy

3 4 5 7 6 9 1 2 8

5 7 4 6 3 1 8 9 2

8 3 6 9 4 2 9 1 7

1 2 9 8 5 7 4 6 3

2 9 1 4 6 5 8 3 7

6 8 3 9 2 7 1 4 5

7 4 5 1 3 8 2 9 6

1 5 2 7 4 3 6 8 9

8 6 4 2 1 9 7 5 3

3 7 9 5 8 6 4 1 2

Solution difficult

9 1 8 6 5 2 3 7 4

4 2 7 3 9 1 5 6 8

5 3 6 8 7 4 9 2 1

Spring 2010 Crossword Solutions See page 48 for the competition winners from Issue 8.

ACROSS: 1. Thurles 5. Macle 8. Route 9. Rangers 10. Needham 11. Addle 12. Presto 14. Beason 17. Laois 19. Outcrop 22. Radiant 23. Libya 24. Mural 25. Resound. DOWN: 1. Turin 2. Ukulele 3. Leech 4. Shrimp 5. Manna 6. Creed 7. Eastern 12. Pilgrim 13. Tisdall 15. Caribou 16. Porter 18. Order 20 Tales 21. Plaid WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 43

EVERY spring for the past few years Aussie Rules recruiting agent, Ricky Nixon, has appeared on the Irish sporting landscape to a chorus of boos and whistles – like something of a pantomime villain. His hefty presence at the Sigerson Cup Championship finals weekend (Third Level Football) always provokes a stream of angry criticism, attracting depictions of the out-spoken Aussie as a modern day ‘child catcher’ (if you’re old enough to remember Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, you know what I’m talking about). His management agency, “Flying Start”, operates recruitment and training camps each February (this year in Gormaston College in Meath) where some of the country’s most talented young Gaelic footballers, and occasionally hurlers, exhibit their skill. Potentially, this could lead to an offer of a trial and perhaps a rookie contract with one of the five Aussie Rules clubs (Brisbane, Geelong, St Kilda, Richmond, North Melbourne) that have bought into Nixon’s Irish academy. So is the volley of criticism directed at Nixon merited? Photo:

There seems to be a clash of cultures at the centre of what has, at times, been something of a PR disaster for Nixon. His blunt Aussie way has done nothing to quieten the criticism but you get the feeling that the controversial player agent laps up the barbs.

44 SUMMER 2010

Among the Irish players that have enjoyed success in Australia are (clockwise from left) Jim Stynes, Tadhg Kennelly and Setanta Ó hAilpín. Far left - the infamous Ricky Nixon.

A land down under His critics state that he is clinically cherry-picking the best of the best players in the country, depriving clubs and counties of crucial talent. Worse still, they are doing nothing to develop these young players and ultimately benefit from a no-lose situation for both the professional Aussie Rules clubs and for Nixon himself.

This trickle of players continued through the decade with the likes of Paul Earley (Roscommon), Jim Stynes (Dublin), Dermot McNicholl (Derry), Tom Grehan (Roscommon), Niall Buckley (Kildare) and Colin Corkery (Cork) among others who lived the professional football career. For some it was only for a short period.

DCU Sigerson Cup manager, Professor Niall Moyna, recently slammed Nixon’s methodology. “I firmly believe he has no interest in the players themselves, just his ‘pound of flesh’. His interest is in getting something for the AFL (Australian Football League) and himself” he said. Such stinging criticism generally draws a shrug of the shoulders from Nixon; “Ah ye Irish. Don’t you guys understand that business is business?”

Stynes, of course, went on to become the greatest success story for an Irishman in Australian sport when winning the Brownlow medal in 1991.

In 2012 the Australian Football League will be extended to include two new teams, Team Greater Western Sydney and Gold Coast (growing from 16 to 18 clubs). This will increase the likelihood that Ireland will remain a fertile recruiting ground for Aussie clubs. Kevin Sheedy is the man who will be head coach of the Greater Western Syndey side. He has plenty of knowledge of the GAA landscape from his past involvement as coach to the Australians in the International Rules series. Sheedy has already confirmed that he will be actively pursuing what has become known as the ‘Irish Experiment’, although he’s unlikely to be involved with Nixon’s agency. For all the headlines over the past few years the ‘Irish Experiment’ actually began in the early 1980s when former Kerry minor footballer Seán Wight signed for Melbourne. Wight first came to the attention of the club in 1982 but was not signed as a rookie until 1985 and went on to play 150 games. u

‘The Irish Experiment’ has been a growing feature of Australian Rules Football in recent years. Critics say it is draining GAA talent from the clubs and counties across the country, with the recession making a trip down under all the more attractive to young players. KEVIN NOLAN explores the facts behind the strong opinions, and asks how much the Oz factor really affects the gaelic game.




The exodus of Gaelic footballers continued at the same pace during the 1990s but since the turn of the millennium more players have been successful in gaining invitations to trial with Aussie Rules clubs down under. However, a look at the current Irish rugby team and that of recent times offers an interesting comparison. Shane Horgan (Meath), Rob Kearney (Louth), Tommy Bowe (Monaghan), and Tomás O’Leary (Cork, hurler) are rugby internationals who represented their counties at minor (under-18) level. Plenty of young talented Gaelic footballers have also gone to England with the dream of earning their living as professional soccer players. Yet rugby and soccer are never accused of the ‘treachery’ in quite the same way.

With the economic downturn here, Australia is likely to make an even more inviting destination for young elite Irish sportsmen. We could witness an increase in the number of our ‘exports’ as a direct result.

There is a healthy crop of young Irish recruits in Oz right now, including Tadhg Kennelly, Tommy Walsh (both All-Ireland SFC winners with Kerry in 2009), Setanta O hAilpín (Cork), Pearce Hanley (Mayo), Brian Donnelly (Louth), Michael Quinn (Longford), Conor Meredith (Laois), Niall McKeever (Antrim), Zach Tuohy (Laois), Jamie O’Reilly (Down), and Chris McKaigue (Derry).

Ultimately, Ireland is an obvious recruitment station for Aussie Rules teams and will continue to be into the future. The departure of a star in the making from one of the less successful, but developing, counties will impede that county’s chance of progression. But the ‘Irish Experiment’ is something all of Gaeldom will have to live with – it’s here to stay l

Work & Life: The Magazine for IMPACT Members



Win Win Win

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Prize quiz Just answer five easy questions and you could win €50. 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. Send your entry by Friday 18th June 2010. We’ll send €50 to the first completed entry pulled from the hat.* You’ll find the answers in this issue of Work & Life. 1 The Irish gender pay gap is A Better than the EU average B Worse than the EU average C None of our business 2 A Book Club is: A Ireland’s hottest new rock band B Something an Oxford toff might join C A group that reads and discusses books 3 Who does Liam Neeson play in his latest movie: A Mr Bean B Hannibal Smith C Inspector Cloueseau 4 Galway is known as: A Sin City B City of the Tribes C Jeff Kenna’s old club 5 IMPACT’s new youth committee wants to: A Organise parties B Stop trusting hippies C Maximise the participation of young people in the union 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 18th June 2010. The editor’s decision is final. That’s it! 46


HOW TO PLAY: Fill in the grid so that every row, column and 3x3 box contains the digits 1-9. There is no maths involved. You solve it with reasoning and logic. 6



8 7




1 4

Your view





3 1




1 1





9 8



8 4




3 3


8 4









And don’t forget, we’re also giving prizes for letters published in the next issue. See page 19.




Across PRIZE 1. The band sounds royal (5) 5. Aromatic cent (5) 1 2 8. Ion with East for the country (7) 9. Concur (5) 9 10. See ale in flag error (5) 11. Refuses with short relation in middle (7) 14 15 16 14. Right Arty will delay (5) 17. Seats become worthwile (5) 20 20. Costs nothing (4) 21. Curd from lotto fullness (4) 21 22. Average tightness (4) 23 23. Mags treat is the plan (9) 24. Hot fasteners! (5) 27. A disgusting number (5) 24 25 30. The hard stuff (7) 32. Essential (5) 33. Surpass (5) 32 34. Giddy old film (7) 35. Vies with point of strain (5) 36. X usually does this to the 35 spot (5) Down 1. Measurement (5) 2. To make one is human (5) 18. 3. Wanting (5) 4. Big Circle Desert (4) 19. 5. A lass turns to dance (5) 24. 6. Borders U2 star with point (5) 25. 7. Card used for divination (5) 26. 12. Match ices round is symbolic (9) 27. 13. Cease the time piece to start it! (9) 15. Let pa before aspect changing, 28. choose (7) 29. 16. Declined the rubbish (7) 31.






8 10 11


The survey

13 17


1. What did you think of the articles in the summer 2010 issue of Work & Life ? Excellent







Comments ________________________________________ 26 30

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





__________________________________________________ __________________________________________________

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2. What did you think of the layout, style and pictures in the summer 2010 issue of Work & Life?

3 __________________________________________________ 5. What subjects would you like to see in future issues of Work & Life ? 1 __________________________________________________ 2 __________________________________________________ 3 __________________________________________________ 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


7. Any other comments? ______________________________

Crossword composed by Maureen Harkin



MM among upset rates could stutter (7) Commissions (7) Vases could turn to deposits (5) Unite can somehow loosen the knot (5) Medical ointment to soothe (5) There is a lot of it about at the moment (5) External, Exposed (5) Slits, Sockets (5) Some boa that could curse (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 18th June 2010. We’ll send €50 to the first correct entry pulled from a hat.


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


6 6

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.

We’ll send €100 to the first completed entry pulled from a hat.*


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n i w100

How do you like Work & Life?

The winners from competitions in the spring issue were:

Crossword: Stephen McCabe, DIT Bolton Street Quiz: Pauline Brady, Westmeath Patricia Scanlan Competition: Helga O’Donnell, Waterford City Survey: Melissa Byrne, VEC branch

Lots more competitions to enter in this issue!

Comments ________________________________________ __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ 3. What were your favourite three articles?

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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 18th June 2010. The editor’s decision is final. That’s it!


Work & Life Issue No 9  

Work & Life Issue No 9 Summer 2010

Work & Life Issue No 9  

Work & Life Issue No 9 Summer 2010