THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS
ISSUE 12 • SPRING 2011
BEYOND THE BLUES PLUS
New ideas for a better Ireland are gaining ground
CLAIMING YOUR FUTURE VIRTUALLY SPEAKING BLIND BUT BRILLIANT IRELAND’S QUIRKY MUSEUMS
ALSO INSIDE MAKEOVER MAGIC. STRESS. LOCAL ARTS. CANCER PREVENTION. X-FACTOR’S ROOTS. STRIPPED-DOWN COOKING. SIX NATIONS. HARRY POTTER. SPRING VEGETABLE GARDENS. EMMA HANNIGAN BOOK GIVEAWAY. YOUR LETTERS. ALL THE NEWS. PRIZE COMPETITIONS.
In this issue
work&life – Spring 2011 COVER FEATURES
BEYOND THE BLUES NIALL SHANAHAN surveys the economic wasteland and says we have to look forward with hope.
Gaining international recognition while delivering community art.
CLAIMING OUR FUTURE
MORGAN O’BRIEN finally warms to Harry Potter.
Hughie Green is to blame for X-Factor. So says RAYMOND CONNOLLY.
MARTINA O’LEARY meets some IMPACT members in the National Council for the Blind.
IRELAND’S QUIRKY MUSEUMS
BE GOOD TO YOURSELF
FOOD MARGARET HANNIGAN strips her kitchen.
Get some new insights into Irish history and culture.
SPORT Ireland could take the six nations says KEVIN NOLAN.
Cancer prevention is partly in your hands says KAREN WARD.
BOOKS EMMA HANNIGAN reveals all about her books and her journey with cancer.
TRISH O’MAHONY describes how one woman went ‘off the rails’.
BLIND BUT BRILLIANT
GREEN FINGERS JIMI BLAKE’s flowering spring bulbs and shrubs.
Win Win Win…
YOUR LETTERS Time to eject economists from our airwaves?
Unions are getting real about virtual campaigning. But ILARIA UGOLINI values the human touch too.
AT THE MOVIES
Avoid, alter, accept or adapt? When it comes to stress you have to act says ISOBEL BUTLER.
The Claiming Our Future movement is winning support for fundamental reform of our politics, economy and social policy says BERNARD HARBOR.
39 39 40 40 40 41 41 41 41 42
BUDGET BLUES MINIMUM WAGE FIGHT CROKE PARK DEAL PENSIONS ENTRY PAY VEC OUTRAGE HEALTH REDUNDANCIES EDUCATION CUTS OPPOSED CLEAN CLOTHES CAMPAIGN EVELYN OWENS, RIP
Enter our prize quiz and win €50.
Put pen to paper and win €50.
Win a copy of Emma Hannigan’s new book.
Tell us what you think and win €100.
WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 1
THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS
Be part of the solution
BELT-TIGHTENING budget, minimum wage and social welfare cuts, four-year plans and the IMF in town. What a year it was – and 2011 ain’t going to be any easier as those budget changes hit our pay packets. But if we’re to recommend one New Year’s resolution, it’s this: Don’t leave the solutions to the bankers and politicians who created the problem. It might be tough to look on the bright side this year, but NIALL SHANAHAN is detecting some positive alternative thinking about our economy and society in this issue’s main feature, while BERNARD HARBOR describes one of last autumn’s most uplifting events as 1,000 trade unionists and others worked to find positive and progressive solutions to the mess we’ve been landed in. You too can sign up to claim our future! We also focus on some new ways of turning ideas into action through state-of-the-art campaigning. Student ILARIA UGOLINI has been with the team for a couple of months and she has some fresh insights on virtual campaigning. Meanwhile, MARTINA O’LEARY looks at the excellent and sometimes surprising services delivered by IMPACT members in the National Council for the Blind. Check out ISOBEL BUTLER’s systematic approach to dealing with stress at work and elsewhere. KAREN WARD has some ideas on how you can help prevent cancer and, on a similar theme, our book interview with EMMA HANNIGAN reveals all about her journey with cancer, which has spurred her successful new career as a writer. You can get behind the scenes at RTÉ’s ‘Off the Rails’ as TRISH O’MAHONY talks to one happy made-over woman. MARGARET HANNIGAN is stripping down in the kitchen this spring – don’t get carried away, it’s all about clutter-free cooking. Meanwhile MORGAN O’BRIEN has finally got in touch with his wizard side and can now see the upside of the Harry Potter movies.
Work & Life is produced by IMPACT trade union’s Communications Unit and edited by Bernard Harbor. Front cover: IMPACT banners among the demonstrators in November. Photo by Conor Healy. Contact IMPACT at: Nerney’s Court, Dublin 1. Phone: 01-817-1500. Email: email@example.com. Designed by: O’Brien Design & Print Management. Phone: 01-864-1920. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Show RAYMOND CONNOLLY a modern trend and it’ll click something dim and distant in his memory. But Hughie Green responsible for X Factor? That’s what it says here! Keep those letters coming – you could make a few bob. And keep your chin up.
IMPACT trade union IMPACT is is among Ireland’s most influential unions 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 www.presscouncil.ie.
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That was then… STRANGE WORLD
Dark Lords makes labour laws disappear LIKE ITS box-office-boosting predecessor the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Hobbit movie will be shot in New Zealand. But workers’ protections in the country could start to unravel as a consequence. This follows a spectacle worthy of Hollywood, when a fleet of State cars whisked Warner Bros executives to the prime minister’s residence last October. There they announced that the film would be shot elsewhere unless New Zealand’s citizens coughed up almost $30 million in tax breaks and publicity commitments – along with a rewrite of film workers’ legal protections. Fearing the loss of 1,000 jobs, and with an election due next year, the Government capitulated to the Dark Lords and rushed legislation through. Earlier, the actors’ union had dropped its demand for a negotiated collective agreement. But this wasn’t enough for director Peter Jackson. Warner Brothers went on to demand new laws to abolish film workers’ legal rights to minimum pay, public holidays, sick leave, written employment contracts, equality rights and health and safety protections. Unions now fear that the concessions will cue yet another slide in Kiwi workplace protections – the local employers’ body has already called for extensions to the new law. Catherine McNamara, a lawyer with IMPACT’s sister union the New Zealand Public Service Alliance, says this was no regular business deal. “The Government has taken this step at the expense of its role in protecting the rights of those who depend on working for a living. Let’s face it, this means most of us,” she said. Now that their rights have disappeared faster than Bilbo Baggins with a gold ring on his finger, Kiwi film production staff certainly won’t be able to enjoy the beer, tobacco and seven meals a day said to be standard for Hobbits. Bear that in mind when the movie comes out.
7 years ago
Mark Zuckerberg and a group of college friends launch the social networking website Facebook on 4th February 2004. Ireland wins the rugby Triple Crown on 27th March for the first time since 1985. A couple of days later, Ireland gets worldwide attention as its smoking ban comes into effect.
18 years ago
The Single European Market comes into effect on 1st January 1993, the same day as the ‘velvet divorce’ between Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Almost seven weeks after the 1992 general election, Albert Reynolds is elected Taoiseach on 12th January with the support of 33 Labour TDs and Dick Spring as Tánaiste.
70 years ago
The short animated film Elmer’s Pet Rabbit is released on 4th January 1941, marking the second appearance of Bugs Bunny. Irish novelist and poet James Joyce dies in Switzerland on 13th January. On 23rd January, aviator Charles Lindbergh recommends that the USA negotiates a neutrality pact with Hitler. Back home, 3,800 animals are slaughtered on 6th March after the 50th case of foot and mouth disease is announced. Emergency bread rationing is introduced later that month.
100 years ago International Women’s Day is celebrated for the first time on 8th March 1911. On 25th March, 146 mostly female garment workers are killed in New York’s Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Most could not escape the burning building because management routinely locked exit doors to stop the workers leaving early. The tragedy led to improved health and safety laws and spurred the growth of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union.
Work & Life: The Magazine for IMPACT Members
IMPACT people IMPACT member Siobhan Geoghegan is director of the artistic programme at Common Ground, an arts development organisation in Dublin’s canal communities’ area. Two of the artists they’ve worked with Anne Maree Barry and Vinny Murphy – have just had great success with their short films at international events, and at the Cork and Dublin film festivals. Describe yourself I’m pretty much into culture and the arts - the aesthetics of work and life. I’m a bit of a paradox. I can be patient and impatient. I have lots of energy and love walking. What’s it like working in Common Ground? It’s a very diverse and dynamic organisation. You’re working with youth workers, community development groups and artists across a wide region in Dublin. Even though you are planning arts work, you’re also dealing with funding issues. You are thinking artistically and strategically about how you keep making the work meaningful. How important is it that art is linked to the community? Art is part of everyday life and artists are part of your community. People get to u
The ART o
of the community articulate this in different ways. When you bring them together you get different stories told in different ways. How does Common Ground do this? We have Studio 468 in Saint Andrew’s Community Centre, Rialto. Artists get awarded a residency there and, in exchange, they have to commit to work with a youth or adult group in the area. The South Circular Road community garden came from a residency with artist Seoidin O Sullivan and it still operates today. We broker and mediate relationships between artists and groups. It’s like development work, getting to know people, building trust, making sure you’re developing long-term opportunities for art work. A lot of groups we work with wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to access the arts or artists.
now running a film training course managed by Fatima Groups United and the Digital Hub. It is great to see how one small initiative can progress and local people can participate, learn new skills and progress while having fun and working hard. The crew all went to see the film in the festival and had their own Oscar awards afterwards. Has creative art always been a passion of yours? Yes, since I was about 15. What is your favourite gallery or museum? I love the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Troppen – the tropical museum in Amsterdam.
And you just had two movies selected for the Cork Film festival Yes. It’s been great. Anne Maree Barry’s short film Rialto Twirlers has been really successful. It’s been in the Jameson Dublin International, Cork, London and Washington film festivals.
The second short film is A Dolls House by Vinny Murphy, which appeared at the Cork and Jameson festivals. It’s about a couple at Christmas who are pretty strapped for cash. They use the bill money to buy a dolls house for the daughter, but when the morning comes, the child doesn’t like the little dolls in the house as they are from different cultures. A row ensues and the wife accuses the husband of being racist and passing it onto their daughter. But the real issue is that the little girl imagines they are speaking Mexican and she can’t communicate with them. Some of the local people involved in making Dolls House are
Rialto Towers has gained international acclaim.
What is your favourite art work? Anything by Cezanne. And I like a lot of contemporary photography. What about music? I’m mad about soul music. I have a very eclectic taste, but the one that gets me going is soul. What’s your favourite movie? Barry Lyndon by Stanley Kubrick. What do you like to read? I love reading facts and novels, particularly theoretical and philosophical stuff. I’m a current affairs junkie. What item can’t you leave home without? My keys. Interview by Martina O’Leary l
Work & Life: The Magazine for IMPACT Members
Photo: Michael Crean Photography
It’s a beautifully-shot art house type of film. She worked with a composer and captured the sound of the children’s pompoms and shoes with an electronic sound. It is quite beautiful. It removes the twirlers from their normal routine by shooting the film in an empty warehouse. This has been great for Anne Maree, who is taking the show to Finland early in the New Year.
PROTECTION in uncertain times There’s real VALUE in belonging to IMPACT and it’s never been more important to you. ● IMPACT led the negotiations that resulted in the Croke Park deal, which protects union members against compulsory redundancies and further pay cuts during the recession. ● IMPACT worked to win support for the deal from Government and opposition parties, which helped ensure that it survived the IMF and the Budget. ● Now IMPACT is working with its local branches across the country to ensure that union members are protected as staff numbers fall, services are reorganised, and organisations are abolished or merged. ● IMPACT is campaigning with other organisations for a brighter economic and social future for Ireland. ● IMPACT is there for you if you have problems with your employer in these difficult times.
IMPACT IS YOUR VALUABLE FRIEND IN THESE DIFFICULT AND UNCERTAIN TIMES.
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But magazine. is th e iv e c ed to re which rs are entitl monthly e-bulletins, the e b m e m T IMPAC around etailed get more d ortant developments d o ls a n a c you imp s an n campaign s on all the include new ement and other unio agre Croke Park ys link that sa e . s th ie k it c v li c ti c d a the ct.ie an www.impa b access'. Then follow to o g p u d we To sign bulletins an e r fo p u ‘sign uctions. simple instr
Photo: Conor Healy
A better, fairer way
IMPACT members at last November’s ICTU demo.
Don’t look back in anger NIALL SHANAHAN surveys the economic wasteland and says we have to look forward with hope. “Our plan is working. We have turned the corner. I commend this Budget to the House.” Finance minister Brian Lenihan’s Budget speech, 9th December 2009. “Ran out of policy tools after propping up banks. Forced to accept an €85 billion EU-led rescue package.” The Financial Times, ranking Brian Lenihan the worst finance minister in Europe, 6th December 2010. THE NATIONAL mood of anger gave way to fear and then returned swiftly to anger in 2010. And it’s been sustained. But the anger has some focus. It is demanding a better quality of leadership. People are seeking better, fairer alternatives to the policies that have so abjectly failed to solve the crisis. And we’re looking for a better society to emerge from the wreckage.
Least there was any doubt, the IMF’s arrival on the nation’s doorstep made it abundantly clear that the Government’s September 2008 bank guarantee had failed. It was also clear that successive austerity budgets, including cuts to social welfare and public service pay, had failed. And it was very clear that all the paternalistic advice we had received from economists and experts and commentators, who had universally promoted our need to glug down the harsh medicine, had been wrong too.
Fractured The ‘harshest budget in the history of the state’ was passed with the help of a few independent TDs, who named their price ahead of budget day. Early this year a new government will inherit the baggage of our fractured economy, a four-year u
Work & Life: The Magazine for IMPACT Members
A better, fairer way ‘recovery’ plan and a memorandum of understanding with the IMF. The scale and cost of the IMF-EU programme is staggering. The weight of national debt will soak up taxes for decades to come while, in the short-term, the economy will continue to contract and jobs will continue to be lost. Any light at the end of this tunnel will come through jobs and growth. Investment – down by 9.5% in the latter months of 2010 – is vital. But where will it come from? The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) says the Government’s four-year recovery plan will do precisely the opposite of what it is supposed to do. “It will not lead to national recovery. Instead it is a roadmap into deep recession. There is
Anger is at last motivating people to demand change. Not just protest, but the development of real alternatives based on participation, democratic accountability and leadership. nothing on jobs, no investment, and no opportunities for the 450,000 of our citizens on the dole. How does Government expect the economy to grow without job creation?” asks ICTU general secretary David Begg. Congress has argued consistently for a stimulus to generate growth and create jobs. Instead, the government has continued to cut spending and wages and divert all available funds into the black hole of bank recapitalisation, depressing the economy even further. Look at how quickly the income tax and VAT returns declined at the beginning of last year, as public sector pay and social welfare were cut.
Delusional “The economy is already very fragile and some €14 billion has already been extracted. Taking out another €15 billion will likely push us over the edge. The projections for growth are a fiction and bordering on the delusional,” says Begg. Yet there’s still no shortage of support for the ‘harsh medicine’ which, conveniently enough, is rather less harsh on the well-paid or self-employed economists and opinion-writers who voice it most loudly At all the really big moments of the economic crisis, Irish newspaper editorials have consistently called it as ‘tough but necessary.’ Thus have they supported the disastrous bank guarantee, NAMA, each austerity budget and the IMF programme, not to mention cuts in social welfare and public service pay. From a clear eyed distance, foreign commentators fill the pages of the Financial Times and the New York Times with amazement at how much damage we’re doing to ourselves through these measures.
The same Irish opinion writers applauded the cut in the minimum wage. Together with lost tax relief on rent and increases in VAT, this will create a triple hit for low-paid workers in the retail and hospitality sectors and elsewhere. Those on the existing rate could lose their jobs too and find themselves replaced by workers on the new rate. No new jobs will be created. Any money saved will go straight into employers’ pockets. Demand will be further depressed leading to more unemployment and lower tax receipts.
Alternatives The IMF ignored the calls to ‘shred’ or ‘revisit’ the Croke Park agreement. It’s not too big a stretch to conclude that the IMF recognised that it’s more valuable to have a programme of reform, which can deliver savings made necessary by spending cuts, than to inflict more selfharm by cutting pay and jobs and creating widespread industrial conflict. u
Real alternatives ICTU says jobs and growth can be achieved with existing resources. But it’s vital that the next government revises existing policy towards the banks in favour of investment in the real economy. Infrastructure Every €1 million invested in infrastructure like broadband, water conservation and home insulation can create 8-12 jobs. It could be financed with €2 billion a year from the National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF) over three years, instead of pouring it into the banks.
Pension funds Despite daily sermons, preaching ‘There Is No Alternative’, a growing coalition of groups and individuals are now beginning to promote realistic alternatives. Increasingly, people are reflecting on what’s gone wrong and about how we can correct our course and reinvent the Republic. They see that Government policy is failing, even in its own terms of resuscitating the so-called Celtic Tiger. People are rejecting the ‘Ireland Inc’ mentality, where society must slavishly yield to the demands of those who run the economy. Instead, they are saying that economic activity must serve the needs of society rather than the other way around. Claiming Our Future is one such group (see pages 10-12) and last November ICTU led a demonstration of up to 100,000 people demanding a better, fairer way to economic recovery. Across civil society, momentum is building behind ideas for progressive change. We have to be part of it.
Photo: Conor Healy
In 2011 and beyond, there are genuine opportunities to have a more mature discussion about Ireland’s future, and to take action to bring it into effect.
NPRF investment could be supplemented with money from pension funds by starting auto-enrolment in the state pension fund and encouraging PRSAs to invest in the state pension scheme. This could generate a huge flow of funds to the Exchequer. Legislation to facilitate pension fund investment in infrastructural projects would also help. The establishment of a State holding company could attract pension funds investment in state companies and much-needed public infrastructure.
Enterprise and innovation NPRF money could also be used to encourage the development of new enterprises, and the expansion of existing ones. The funds could be channelled through a State holding company, as proposed by Congress in 2005, or a state investment bank. The National Solidarity Bond, first suggested by Congress, could be amended to make it more attractive – by halving its 10-year term, for example. Redesigning it to allow people invest in specific sectors like education could make it a real winner for the economy and workers.
Multinationals Nearly €32 billion in profits is sent home every year by multinationals, who could help Ireland and themselves by deferring repatriation and using the money to invest in new or existing Irish-based enterprises and infrastructure.
In 2009 a patronising Colm McCarthy told us “anger is not a policy.” Perhaps not. But anger is at last motivating people to demand change. Not just protest, but the development of real alternatives based on participation, democratic accountability and leadership.
A number of innovative small business measures, like a State credit guarantee scheme, citizens’ investment in innovation, and the restructuring of company debt would stimulate economic activity and create jobs.
This time last year that seemed a long way off. Now the process has begun l
For more on Congress job creation policy visit www.ictu.ie. l
Work & Life: The Magazine for IMPACT Members
Claiming our future
Your chance to shape The Claiming Our Future movement is winning broad and growing support for fundamental reform of our politics, economy and social policy. An initially sceptical BERNARD HARBOR now says uniquely difficult times could create support for a genuinely new Ireland. NOBODY QUITE knew what was going to happen as they entered Dublin’s RDS for Ireland’s first citizens’ forum at the end of October. And that included the organisers.
Come to that, we had no website and no communications strategy. Most of the people around the table had never met before.
We did know that there was a huge appetite for the broad-based movement we were trying to create. A civil society movement that would bring people together from all backgrounds – trade unionists, community groups, environmentalists and others – to develop positive new policies to get us out of recession and build an equal, sustainable and thriving Ireland.
Not a good situation for a man who starts work on the next IMPACT conference about a week after the last one ends.
We knew this because the event had been so massively oversubscribed, with over 2,000 people seeking to register for the 1,000 available places. Hundreds more had participated in local events and debates on the website and associated social media sites. This, in itself, was some achievement. I only got involved after ICTU, which was among the earliest Claiming Our Future supporters, asked me to attend a ‘communications group’ meeting on 17th September. At that meeting, I learned that nobody had yet registered for the launch event due to take place in six weeks time. Indeed, the Claiming Our Future name and logo had only just been agreed. There’d been no media coverage and hardly anybody knew who we were or what we were trying to achieve.
Positive And, just so as not to make it too easy on ourselves, this event was not going to be your average conference. First of all, it wasn’t simply a protest. The idea was to come up with clear values and positive policy ideas for a better Ireland. Oh, and there would be no keynote speakers, workshops, reports, motions or amendments. Instead, using not-yetfinalised software, all the participants – a thousand of them – would have an equal input into discussing and agreeing the values and priorities for this new civil society coalition. We didn’t know, and couldn’t control, who would register or what values and policies they would prioritise. All we knew was that the organisers comprised individuals and organisations who believed the economic crisis could be a turning point for reshaping Ireland’s economic recovery and reasserting progressive social values of equality, sustainability, inclusion and human dignity.u
participants throughout the event; the toughest job of the day was getting them to leave.
Photo: Conor Healy
Over 1,000 people participated in the first national event.
our future The rest was up to the participants. No pressure then.
I don’t want to over-emphasise the October event because it’s only a part of what Claiming Our Future is becoming. But what an event! A hundred round tables, each with ten or 11 strangers from different backgrounds, with an facilitator huddled around a laptop, debating and agreeing core values and policy priorities before feeding their decisions into the centre. The impressive numbers. The contagious enthusiasm, with most people across the hall sitting down to work ten minutes or more before the start time. The raw democracy as big names like David Begg, Fergus Finlay and Jack O’Connor took their places at the tables with no more or less voice or influence than the youngsters from Ballyfermot’s Base youth project or the Galway Community Workers’ Cooperative. And the unprecedented commitment, focus and stamina of the
Sign up to claim your future Now the organisers are urging you to show your support for the progressive economic and social policies developed by participants in Claiming Our Future – including the core values of equality, solidarity, environmental sustainability and accountability. You can sign up on www.claimingourfuture.ie, where you’ll also have the opportunity to input your own ideas and values. Be part of this important new movement for an alternative economic and social future!
IMPACT activist John O’Flanagan was among the 200-plus trade union participants. “It was amazing,” he says. “My table had equal numbers of men and women, young and old, and fairly equal representation of community, trade union and environment groups, all with very strong views. “I’d met none of them before, but we managed to reach consensus on the issues. And our conclusions more or less tallied with the final outcome of over 1,000 people. Unions have a lot to learn from this approach to participation and decision making,” he said. Joan McCrohan, who chairs IMPACT’s Special Needs Assistants’ branch, says she travelled to the gig from Kerry looking for hope. “It was an opportunity for ordinary people to express their anger and frustration but in a proactive, positive and productive way. I thoroughly enjoyed the day. There was no negativity in the building. We were sharing a common purpose. We were looking to correct and claim our future for generations to come,” she told me. The policy priorities that emerged included a maximum income, a reformed tax system, and a minimum income threshold. The participants also called for a stimulus package to maximise job creation in the social and green economy, and expressed overwhelming support for a radical new emphasis on economic security and social and environmental sustainability. Mary Murphy, who was an MC at the event, said the huge endorsement of minimum and maximum incomes was exciting because it could be done regardless of the recession. “This is an entirely deliverable demand to reduce the gap between rich and poor through a redistribution of income and wealth. Nobody can claim that it must wait for better economic times,” she said.
Long haul ICTU deputy general secretary Sally-Ann Kinahan welcomed the endorsement of policies to stimulate the economy and create jobs. “Three austerity budgets have already taken €13 billion out of the economy and the Government is talking about more than doubling that. But the economy isn’t reacting and many now believe the adjustment is too fast and too deep. It’s time to prioritise tackling unemployment, particularly youth unemployment which now stands at 30%,” she said. Perhaps predictably, the subsequent Government fouryear plan, IMF-EU agreement and budget took the opposite approach of regressive policies: No stimulus, long-term pain targeted at those on low and middle incomes, protection for bondholders, the banks and the wealthy. But Siobhan O’Donoghue of the Community Platform says we shouldn’t lose heart. “This is a movement for the long haul and u
Work & Life: The Magazine for IMPACT Members 11
Claiming our future
Photo: Eunan Sweeney
“We brought together people from every county in Ireland and from a vast range of backgrounds and experience. The movement we launched will continue to grow in size and volume until the political system wakes up to demands for sustainable economic and social policies based on values of equality, accountability, solidarity and participation,” she says.
IMPACT member Amanda O’Hara with officials Denis Rohan and Pat Bolger.
Although initially developed by Is Feidir Linn, ICTU, the Community Platform, the Environmental Pillar of social organisations, the TASC think tank and Social Justice Ireland, scores of other organisations and thousands of individuals are now involved in Claiming Our Future.
programme. And energies are focussed on fighting cuts in the minimum wage and encouraging thousands of trade unionists and others to sign up as supporters of the movement.
The organisers are urging others to sign up to this nonparty political movement (see the box on page 11) to voice their support for progressive policies and values of equality, sustainability and accountability.
Like many others who came in October, John O’Flanagan wants to know where Claiming Our Future will go now. Initially a sceptic, I’m interpreting those ‘what next’ questions as a good sign. People appreciate the value of this movement and its potential to win real progressive change with a broad base of support across all walks of Irish society.
Right now, energy is going into the organisation of regional events, which will further develop the policy positions agreed in October. There are plans for a ‘charter,’ which would serve as a rallying point and a possible alternative to the EU-IMF
Just as we didn’t know how the October event would unfold, nobody can predict with certainty where this will go. But the story so far allows for plenty of optimism that this is the start of something very, very important l
Claiming Our Future: Participants at the Claiming Our Future event agreed that the values of equality, environmental sustainability, accountability, participation and solidarity should inform the movement’s policy positions. They also prioritised: security and social and environmental sustainability.
Where it stands
• Universal access to quality healthcare, childcare and services for older people. • Equality in access to, and participation in, education from pre-school to university. • A new development model that stresses economic security and social and environmental sustainability. • Efficiency, integration, and equality in the public service. • A changed banking culture focused on providing credit to
local enterprises and communities, not speculation.
• Greater income equality and reduced poverty through wage, tax and income policies including maximum and minimum incomes. • High levels of decent employment and a stimulus package
to maximise job creation in a green and social economy.
• Reformed local and national political institutions to enhance accountability, equality, capacity and efficiency. • Participatory forms of citizens’ engagement in public governance and enhanced advocacy for civil society organisations l
Photo: Conor Healy
we have demonstrated a massive appetite for an alternative and thoughtful approach to economic, environmental and social policy.
Unions get real abou Facebook advertising campaigns, Twitter tweets, comments on MySpace and Flickr pictures. Who would have guessed unions would have so many communication tools to choose from? But ILARIA UGOLINI says we must value the human touch too. In September 2007, the union representing IBM’s 9,000 workers in Italy organised the biggest ‘virtual strike’ in history. Using the Second Life website, over 900 cardcarrying avatars – the computer users’ representation of themselves – attended a virtual picket line carrying virual placards. The reason for this first virtual strike was much more traditional. IBM workers were angry that new contracts cancelled their performance bonuses. And the online protest coincided with a real-life picket line outside the IBM offices in Italy. Unions often find it hard to publicise their issues. But news of the Italian virtual strike spread quickly online and national TV covered the dispute. Yet the media message focussed not on the issues in dispute, but on the novelty of the event. A second virtual strike the following year failed to attract media interest. The story shows both the potential and the limitations of using new or social media in union campaigning. It’s certainly a useful tool for unions seeking new ways of fighting, communicating and countering lack of interest among workers and the public. But there are limits to the novelty-focused possibilities of sites like Second Life. At first trade unions and other organisations tended to use social media without really understanding the benefits. They used them because they were there. Everyone was using them but nobody had a clear idea of what these tools could actually achieve. But now it seems they have become central to union communication strategies.
Experiment Of course a strong web presence is important and an effective communication strategy can’t neglect the various tools offered by technology. But are they really essential? How can social media make a difference? Ever since IMPACT launched its website during the 1999 nurses’ strike
the union has been among the Irish union pioneers of new media. A decade later it established a Facebook, Twitter and YouTube presence as part of the launch of its public services campaign in November 2009. “It was seen as an experimental initiative to communicate not just with members but with the general public,” says Niall Shanahan of the union’s Communications Unit. “Facebook and Twitter were chosen largely because they are the social networking sites of choice for so many people. With YouTube the objective was more straightforward. A number of short, video pieces were produced to generate a viral web audience for our defence of public services and the people who provide them,” he says. The use of new u
t virtual campaigns not thousands, of people. They are also able to provoke discussions on specific topics because they are interactive and personal. But there are still mixed feelings about using social media, not least because it’s still considered an unpredictable media. “You might post an article that would provoke a lot of discussion in a room full of members, and it might get no response at all on Facebook or Twitter,” says Shanahan. Social media are useful and valuable alternatives to inform and mobilise people. But, while the new media offer new possibilities, they should be approached critically. It is certainly vital to understand and use this new wave of technology and culture. But it’s also important to choose the most appropriate way to interact with people without being uncritically overwhelmed by fashion. IMPACT’s series of workplace meetings, which reached over 10,000 members in the summer of 2009, was at least as important as social media in the public service campaign. People want to hear different opinions and they can get their information from many more sources than in the past. Social media, which are free and have potentially huge audiences, also allow users to talk each other, compare notes and directly express opinions. For this reason, unions have to constantly monitor them and respond to negative comment by explaining their policies and actions.
Opportunity For unions, social media also offer recruitment opportunities especially in workplaces with low density, not least because they can help explain the benefits of unions to young people. Virtually all young people use social media and it seems as though the users are getting younger in the social media arena. The new informatic instruments are also being used to encourage communication between workers in different parts of the country and, indeed, from all over the world. International trade union solidarity campaigns – on issues from fair trade to union rights – have benefitted enormously from the new media which can help raise consiousness and spread messages incredibly quickly and consistently. social media was suggested by the campaigning and marketing group PCC, who helped develop IMPACT’s campaign. It was the first time that IMPACT’s message was deliberately aimed at everyone, not just union members. The new communications tools helped the union reach a much wider audience – including young people – both inside and outside the organisation.
Mixed feelings Other Irish unions have been active on the social media scene too. Brian Forbes of Mandate says social media are useful to promote campaigns because many people use them and a single ‘tweet’ can inform hundreds, if
But these media are very much individual instruments and they can fall down when it comes to the human touch – the sharing, cohesion and solidarity typical of union values and activities. If we’re serious about getting the best use out of these technological innovations, we need to verify their limits as well as their possibilities. And we need to value and develop traditional communication tools as well. Above all we need to remember that the essential element of union communication is content and values, not just the vehicle. l Ilaria Ugolini is finishing a thesis on trade union communications at the Univeristy of Genoa. As part of her research she is currently working as an EU Erasmus placement student in IMPACT’s Communications Unit.
Work & Life: The Magazine for IMPACT Members
Public service Lost or impaired vision can change your life, but there’s help at hand. MARTINA O'LEARY met up with some IMPACT members in the National Council for the Blind of Ireland. THE NUMBER of people affected by blindness or impaired vision is expected to grow enormously over the next 20 years as the population ages. The need for training and support will grow too, as will demand for more accessible services and workplaces. The National Council for the Blind of Ireland (NCBI) already has 15,000 people on its books, all of them blind or visually impaired. Its 265 staff provide a nationwide service with offices throughout the country, including its headquarters in Drumcondra, Dublin.
Photos: Conor Healy Photography
The staff there provide a huge range of services from counselling, through to independent living training to careers advice. There’s even a library service, an activity centre for the elderly and a children’s centre for the under-six contingent. And they provide advice to employers who want to make their workplaces more accessible. I caught up with fundraising executive and IMPACT representative Allison Harvey who told me they catered for a mixed range of service users including people blind from birth and those who have lost their sight through illness or accident, as well as the visually impaired. “You can have a young adult coming in for training that will help with independent living, from mobility through to cooking and getting around the home and locality. It’s great to see people who initially wouldn’t walk on their own, getting the bus into town,” she says.
John Ryan has an expert knowledge of what devices are available to help those visually impaired or blind.
Of confidenc Confidence It’s all about building confidence, independence and self esteem according to Johanna Nichloson, an NCBI community resource worker. The first point of contact, these workers meet clients and their families and assess their individual needs so that they can get the help they need. “Confidence is a big thing. I can train someone to use a cane safely, but there is a difference between using it safely and using it with confidence,” she says. The job’s about linking clients with NCBI and community resources. “We first access people at the NCBI and then in their homes. We assess how they are doing physically and psychologically. A disability affects the extended family as well as the service user and we deal with any problems here. We have family therapy services and counselling services if people aren’t getting past the idea of adapting,” she says. 16
For some it’s a long haul – but the work has its rewards. “I’m almost dancing around the room seeing service users carrying out a task that they wouldn’t have dreamed of a year earlier. We have a lady in her late eighties and we taught her to walk in her back garden. And a 90-year-old man who can now walk around his locality. This is the real payment that you can’t put into figures. The people are the thing I love about this job, giving them confidence,” said Johanna.
Talking devices The NCBI’s Drumcondra shop supervisor John Ryan is a bit like James Bond's Q. “We sell all sorts of equipment. Talking clocks, talking watches, daily independent living aids. We have all sorts of devices that make life easier like liquid level indicators, which let you know when your cup is full,” he says. An- ➤
“I’m almost dancing around the room seeing service users carrying out a task that they wouldn’t have dreamed of a year earlier.” Adapting The NCBI also provides specialised education to children up to six years of age at its early learning centre in Clondalkin, Dublin. And their activity centres in north Dublin and Wexford provide a wide range of classes and activities for adults. Employment advisor Denis Daly works with people at all levels, providing career guidance, advice on Johann training and job retention, and information a Nichols on, about the workplace adaptations that can meet NCBI the needs of blind or vision-impaired staff. The comm unity NCBI also provides a service to employers to help resour ce them adapt the workplace to make it more accesworker. sible to visually impaired staff and customers. The NCBI’s library offers a wide range of Braille, audio and large print books and, for a small fee, will post daily newspapers and magazines to people. A lot of people who phone for advice don’t want to admit they have a real problem with their sight. “It’s really important to have awareness around the health of your eyes, knowing the difference between having occasional or constant blurred vision. It’s important to have regular check-ups to monitor ongoing problems. Don’t ignore it; given the right support people can do anything. I come in every day and I see something brilliant all the time. It makes you want to do better every day,” says Allison ●
e and canes other gadget lets you know what colour your clothes are and there’s a wide range of sensory toys for children. Visually impaired himself, John is also a user of the NCBI’s low vision service. “I use a magnifying glass to help me read the newspaper and other text, and a long-distance magnifier to look at buses or read signs in the airport. I also use a software package called zoom text, which magnifies a portion of the computer screen and has a level of speech. It’s really handy for emails and the internet. I use it every day when I’m balancing the tills at the end of the day,” he says These devices make life a little easier and give clients more independence. The optomologist at the low vision clinic prescribes the right magnifier for an individual’s needs.
Help a little The NCBI is a not-for-profit organisation. You can help: ● ONLINE using www.mycharity.ie secure online payment system ● By PHONE by calling 1850-334-353 to make a credit card donation ● By POST by sending a cheque or postal order with your details to Donations Secretary, NCBI, Whitworth Road, Drumcondra, Dublin 9.
Get more information from www.ncbi.ie or 01-830-7033. Shop online at www.ncbi.ie/newshop WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 17
r e t l t a p , a d d i a o r Av ept o c c a space or privacy or not having the right equipment to do the job, or organisational problems such as poor communication and inadequate training.
ISOBEL BUTLER outlines the ‘four As’ of modern stress management. STRESS HAS overtaken musculoskeletal disorders as the biggest cause of working days lost through injury and ill health. Many of us remember the shocking reports this time last year of more than 34 suicides amongst France Telecom employees since 2008. Their families and trade unions attributed much of this to work related stress. So stress management is an important skill for coping with today’s workplace.
The negative effects of stress are felt when there is an imbalance between the demands we face and the resources we have to hand. In other words, the pressure exceeds our own ability to cope. A range of factors including our coping skills, levels of social and family support, our personality and even our own attitudes can determine whether or not we experience a negative stress reaction when faced by a potentially stressful situation.
Stressors Stressors are the work and life events that can give rise to stress responses. Typical workplace stressors include problems with the physical work environment, like lack of 18
Harassment and bullying can be big stressors as can job conditions such as work overload or rolerelated problems like uncertainty over what’s expected of you. Problematic interpersonal relationships are also big stressors, as is workplace conflict. Career related stressors include lack of promotional opportunities, frustrated ambitions or lack of job security.
Deal with it The first step in dealing with these stressors is to identify the sources of stress and recognise how you currently respond to them. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. The real sources of your stress are not always so obvious. It can be very easy to overlook how our own thoughts, feelings or behaviours may induce stress. For instance do you always have to cope with very tight deadlines because the demands of the job are high? Or is it because you have poor time management and you procrastinate? Our own attitudes play a big part in how we experience stressful events. ➤
Keeping a stress diary can help identify regular stressors in your life and how you deal with them. Record what caused your stress; how you felt, both physically and emotionally; how you acted and what you did to make yourself feel better.
How to combat stress
Step two is to examine your current coping strategies. Are they healthy or unhealthy?
Build relaxation time into your day Exercise regularly: walk, yoga, swim, cycle Socialise with friends Treat yourself Practice deep breathing techniques Learn to meditate Have a massage or reflexology Use relaxation techniques Listen to music Take a long bath Take a moment with nature
Unhealthy coping strategies include under-eating or overeating, zoning out in front of the TV or computer for hours, withdrawing from friends, family, and activities, sleeping too much, procrastinating, filling up every minute of the day to avoid facing problems, taking out your stress on others (lashing out, angry outbursts, physical violence) or ignoring it. These strategies may work in the short term but excessive or long term use is problematic. So step three means developing healthy ways to manage stress. There are four key approaches to managing stress. The first two involve changing the situation and the second two involve changing how you react to stress.
Avoid the stressor Not all stressors can be avoided. Nor is it healthy to avoid a situation that needs to be addressed. But you should strive to eliminate unnecessary stressors. Know your limits and stick to them. Learn how to say ‘no’ and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Avoid or limit the time you spend with people who stress you. Only meet them when you feel you can cope with them. Take control of your environment. For instance, you could change your break time to avoid those complaining people who add to your stress. And pare down your to-do list. Drop tasks that aren’t truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them entirely. If you can’t avoid the stressful situation try and alter it. Change the way you communicate and behave in your daily life. If something or someone is bothering you, outline your concerns in an open and respectful way. If you don’t voice your feelings, resentment will build and the situation will likely remain the same. Manage your time better because poor time management can cause a lot of stress. Running to catch up or juggling too many tasks makes it difficult to stay calm and focused. Plan ahead and make sure you don’t overextend yourself.
Adapt If you can’t change the stressor, change yourself. Changing your attitudes and expectations can help you adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control. Try to reframe the situation and look at it from a different perspective. Instead of getting angry at the traffic or long commute times, see this as some alone time. Bring your favourite music or an audio book with you and enjoy. Try and keep perspective and see the full picture. Take a long term view. How important will this be in a month, a year, five years? Is it worth getting upset about? If not focus your time, attention and energy elsewhere. Perfectionism is a serious source of stress. Adjust your standards and be ok with ‘good enough.’ Accept what can neither be prevented nor changed. It can be difficult but is often better than railing against things that cannot be changed or controlled. Talk to a friend or a counsellor. Expressing your feelings can be cathartic, even if the situation cannot be changed. We live in a complex, imperfect world and sometimes we need to accept that ‘to err is human,’ and learn to forgive, move on and free ourselves of negative energy ●
Stress Management – The 4 A’s Avoid stress
Alter the stress
Accept Adapt yourself
Isobel Butler is an independent organisational psychologist who works with people on a wide range of workplace issues including conflict management, dealing with change and solving problems. If there are specific issues you’d like her to tackle in these articles send them in via the editor, Work & Life magazine, Nerney’s Court, Dublin 1 or email@example.com. WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 19
S UD OKU
Win Win Win
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. 8
Just answer five easy questions and you could win €50.
1. The biggest ‘virtual strike’ took place in: A. Italy B. Ireland C. Second Life 2. Opportunity Knocks contestant Su Pollard was beaten by: A. A singing waiter B. A singing dog C. Hughie Green 3. What film was mired in labour law controversy last year? A. The Hobbit B. Hoffa C. Lord of the Rings 4. What event attracted over 1,000 participants last autumn? A. The Government Supporters’ Rally B. Claiming our Dole C. Claiming our Future 5. The National Council for the Blind supports how many clients? A. 15 B. 1,500 C. 15,000 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 4th March 2011. The editor’s decision is final. That’s it! 20
3 8 7
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 4th March 2011. We’ll send €50 to the first completed entry pulled from the hat.* You’ll find the answers in this issue of Work & Life.
ACROSS 1. Seat of Ireland’s ancient high kings (4) 9. Warwickshire town renowned for it’s spa (10) 10. There were 20 of them in the predecimalisation pound (8) 11. Compelled, urged forward (6) 12. Slumber noisily (5) 13. George Eliot novel, The ____ on the floss (4) 15. Sound recording (4) 18. At the rear lookout (2,3,4,6) 20. One, a single item (4) 21. Brief period (4) 22. Place where things are kept for sale (5) 25. Small cave or retreat, often with religious associations (6) 27. Winter sport sites (3,6) 28. Requisite for the day’s main meal (6,4) 29. Hop-drying kiln (4) DOWN 1. First President of the USA (10) 2. Paleness (6) 3. Aptitude; talent (5) 4. Village in Co Longford (4) 5. Demolished by the gales with special reference to trees (5,4) 6. Irish soccer star of the 1950s (8)
PRIZE CROSSWORD 1
Crossword composed by Sean Ua Cearnaigh
7. 14. 16. 17. 19. 23. 24. 26. 27.
System of rules and regulations; ____ of practice (4) Bring upon oneself (5) An unsatisfactory meal (4,6) Butcher’s slaughter houses (9) Where headgear is often placed (3,5) Village in Co Waterford (6) The hours of darkness (5) Precipitation (4) Surface of the earth capable of sustaining plant growth (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 4th March 2011. We’ll send €50 to the first correct entry pulled from a hat.
The winners from competitions in the winter issue were:
Crossword: Graham O’Brien, Wicklow. Quiz: Nial O’Connor, Monaghan. Book Competition: Nora Leen, Galway.
Lots more competitions to enter in this issue!
Sttatrer Le 5 0 €
What have economists got to be so smug about?
DO YOU remember when the business news was at the end of the news bulletins? When finance had a few pages between the real news and sports? When all the wheeling and dealing was done over long lazy lunches? What has happened? Every time we open a newspaper: Country in debt. Every time we listen to the radio: Cuts in public services. Every time we turn on the TV there it is again, the terrible state of the economy! Economics, economics, economics. And the new gurus of modern Ireland, the new high priests, revered by government, salivated over by broadcasters, a new breed of ‘men in suits’ The Economists.
Lucky to have a job LUCKY TO have a job. How many times have you heard that phrase? And of course we are lucky to be working these days. People who are long-term unemployed and students who are about to come out of college don’t have it easy.
These are the supposedly independent objective advisors to government who write reports that change government policy. They are paid shed loads of public money for their trouble.
I started my college degree in social work in 2002. Even then I found it difficult to study and do years of unpaid placements, but I was pretty much guaranteed a job at the end of it. Students these days don’t have that motivation.
Then we hear they are not that independent, not that objective. Their backgrounds are in the same businesses that got us into this economic mess: Banking, property and speculation. Many of them still work for banks, stockbrokers and even hedge funds.
I’ve heard of students now leaving placements completely disillusioned and disheartened. They don’t know if they will get work and if they do the conditions they are working under are difficult.
But they are still trotted out at every opportunity, to justify their own theories and to protect their own interests. All wrapped up and well disguised as government policy, as the latest anticitizen budget demonstrates.
I love my job as a social worker, but work in the current economic climate is very pressurised. Firstly we are definitely doing more work for less pay, on average 14% less! Less money means it’s difficult to pay the bills and mortgages.
Well, I live in a republic not an economy. I want those unelected advisors to take a back seat. I want economics off the front page, off the airways and away from our TVs. And I want our elected politicians to concentrate on our society, our citizens, and pursue more equitable policies for the majority and stop protecting a tiny minority that has economically destroyed our country. Belinda McCarthy Dublin Hospitals Branch
Workloads are increasing. I don’t think I’ve had a quiet day in the office in two years. Voluntary and community organisations that provide a vital service to the public and essential support for statutory organisations are under threat. These services do fantastic preventative work and they must be protected. I’ve just rummaged out the summer 2010 edition of Work & Life. Karen Ward did a great piece on ‘getting your stress under control.’ I think I can battle on. I have to because things aren’t going to get any better with the latest budget. Ciara Mahoney Wicklow HSE branch
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for t r the s €50 nd €30 fo the y a p a ut & Life issue think abo Work ed each u o y e h t v s publi know wha ssues we’ i t, s Let u ine or the think of i ything z n o a t a g e n ma om so er ed. C your view and pap r e v o c n t w e o p p n k ur ee i let us Get out yo orget to k f ! at all And don’t y. , a d o t hor t. & Life and s Work in 1. e , n nic a l l o b Budgets are massively redt, Du isin N to Ro ey’s Cour t.ie. e t i uced and departments are r n c W er impa CT N d fighting each other over the IMPA il rnolan@ signe a blish y u scraps. There are endless a p Or em m y l e We on Work & Lif size. waiting lists. People leaving or r s. ter fo letter taking leave are not covered so ur let o y t i ed their work is left for the remaining staff, which puts new referrals on the long finger unless there is an emergency.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 www.impact.ie. 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 21
Heavenly ma Badly want a new image but feel a makeover’s not for you? One woman’s experience on RTE’s Off the Rails might change your view says TRISH O’MAHONY.
ARE YOU one of the large number of people, par ticularly women, who would love a makeover but don’t know where, or how, to start? Are you willing to take a risk and enjoy a once in a lifetime experience? If we’re honest most of us secretly want some help and guidance at times. Maybe you’ve lost weight, or put some on, and don’t know how to shop for your new shape. Perhaps you never learnt how to shop or what suits you. Or you might panic at the thought of large department stores and their intimidating dressing rooms.
clothes motivated the German-born and Mullingar based woman to go ‘Off the Rails.’ “I would get palpitations when I‘d go into clothes shops. I never learnt to dress or shop and thought of dressing up as a chore. My appearance was getting me down,” she says. The hardest part of the makeover was submitting the application form. And Anke believes she was chosen because she was “a sad case.” Anke saw herself as realistic and without any false expectations – How wrong she was!
Or maybe you just want some individual attention and fun.
“They work with reasonably-priced clothes and were very generous in the outfits gifted at the end of the makeover.” Whatever your reasons, a personalised makeover may be the answer. If you don’t like cameras and money is no object, the service is available in the private form of your own personal shopper. Alternatively you can apply to appear on RTE’s Off the Rails makeover series. Anke von Bunau, a widowed mother of four and part-time office worker, really benefitted from the experience. A combination of desperation and literally running out of 22
Confidence booster The transformation affected more than her appearance. Anke realises now that she was a little depressed before the experience, but that it has given her a whole new lease of life. “I used to be fun-loving but life’s realities changed all that.” Since the experience, which she rates as the best thing that happened to her, alongside her wedding and the birth of her four beautiful children, she’s more optimistic and full of energy and hope. She raved about the team who brought her all the way from nervous and emotional to feeling on top of the world about her image. “They really listened to what I wanted and always made me feel at ease. We had a lot of laughs during that week. As well as their professionalism as stylists they were kind and sensitive to me,” she told me. ➤
keover She even has intentions of doing her first ever triathlon sometime soon and dedicating it to the Off the Rails team. Anke’s everyday lifestyle is practical and functional and, while Brendan deviated from the wellies and charity shop fleeces, the theme remained true to her personality. Leather boots, jeans, and a forgiving tunic dress were just some staples used to achieve a comfortable, fashionable daytime look. Buried beneath the layers of workmanlike clothes was a great figure and canvass to work on. It was just a matter of discovering it. Easy for a team who believed in her more than she believed in herself!
“Despite the cynics, the team don’t just style you for TV’s sake. It’s important that the person looking back at you from the mirror is recognisable.”
But has she kept up her new image? “I maintain it for the outside world. I have a reputation to live up to now!” she replies. Anke’s experience suggests that, despite the cynics, the Off the Rails team don’t just style you for TV’s sake. It’s more about your lifestyle and personality. It’s important that the person looking back at you from the mirror is recognisable.
She feels that this new experience was like a door has opened for her. Her bodily hang ups have faded in significance. Anke now has the confidence to choose flattering clothes, and even hands out fashion advice to her friends when asked. If you feel like nominating yourself, or somebody close to you, for the next series the team are always looking for new candidates. They’d love to hear from interested people, couples or duos like sisters, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives or work colleagues. It’s a good way for intending males to get in on the act too. It won’t cost you anything, but time. And you’re worth that ● Get more information from www.rte.ie/tv/offtherails or email@example.com WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 23
Photos: Off The Rails
They work with reasonably-priced clothes and were very generous to her in the complete outfits gifted at the end of the makeover. The team concentrate on hair, make-up, clothing and “magic” underwear. No diets, exercise regimes or cosmetic surgery required!
Be good to yourself Gxxxxx
Cancer prevention Most of us have been directly or indirectly affected by cancer. KAREN WARD advises on ways to help prevent the condition.
EVERY YEAR almost 300,000 people in Ireland are diagnosed with cancer. Along with heart and lung disease, it’s one of our biggest causes of ill health.
giving up. A good incentive is to think of all the money you’ll save.
Yet many fewer - 75,000 - die of the condition, which means many people are successfully treated and can move on with their lives.
Drinking habits are not necessarily associated with cancer, but anything that upsets the balance in your body can trigger hereditary weak points. The ad campaign that asked us ‘how much is too much?’ was very clever as the maximum amount is personal and depends on your height, weight and so on.
In simple terms, cancer is a disease of the immune system. Normally our body produces cells to fight infection and they stop reproducing once they’ve done the job. In cancerous conditions these cells keep on growing.
Next time you’re out for a few drinks, note when you feel unable to make a decision or feel physically affected. This is your natural limit and it will vary as you age.
The most common cancers are skin, testicular, breast, prostate, bowel, lung and cervical cancers. Treatments, which depend on the type of cancer, range from chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, to complementary therapies supporting the body throughout.
Living a full and active life is a great way to bring natural balance and harmony to our existence. We need to exercise our bodies and minds, have fun, and enjoy life as much as
While we don’t know exactly what causes cancer, we do know how to help our bodies maintain good health and prevent any imbalance and disease in our systems.
Healthy eating Proper food eaten regularly is central to a healthy life. If we ate like our grandparents did, we would go a long way towards fuelling our body in the best possible way. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Lunch is often eaten on the run and we need to take heed of our European colleagues who rest and relax for at least 40 minutes in the middle of the day. Sugary junk foods are just about fine as occasional treats. But they play havoc with our health if eaten as the norm. You wouldn’t dream of running your car on cheap, dodgy fuel, so why expect your body to be healthy on inferior food?
Unhealthy habits Photo: Dreamstime.com
Despite knowing that smoking kills, many of us continue to do it. Help is available if you want to give up, but we do need to be ready and motivated. Some people are terrified of the thought of
we can. Our hobbies and interests vary and it doesn’t matter what you do as long as it’s a healthy pursuit. And remember, it’s possible to be Superman and Superwoman some of the time but not all of the time. We can easily knock our bodies out of balance by running around 24-7 without proper rest, relaxation and sleep. Others, including loved ones, will let us slog on at work or home if we seem willing. So assess your life now. Are you doing more that you should? Learn how to delegate wisely and conserve your energy. We often assess ourselves solely in terms of our physical state forgetting about our mental and emotional health. We can hold on to old hurts and rows long past their sell-by date, u
much better than cure which has the effect of keeping our minds in a permanent state of upset. See a professional counsellor if talking to a trusted family member or friend doesn’t appeal to you. Check out www. iacp.ie for details of counsellors and psychotherapists in Ireland. None of us are born worriers, but worry can throw our whole system out of balance. It’s usually a habit picked up from our parents, grand-parents or older siblings. But you can quickly stop it gnawing away at your peace of mind if you are aware of when you are doing it excessively and deploy distractions and positive self-talk (‘relax!’ ‘What am I like?’ ‘No need to worry.’)
I use the NCT as the reminder to have myself checked out by my local doctor. On the alternate years I make sure my teeth, feet and back are in good health. I know that smear tests and prostate examinations are not pleasant experiences, but I’d rather know if I have to deal with a health issue. And don’t forget the importance of sun protection. Sun awareness is much stronger in Australia and America where many of our ancestors discovered the effects of skin cancer the hard way. It’s easy to forget that even the rays on a mildly sunny day can burn our skin. Wearing proper sun protection is essential to protect fair Irish skin from sun damage and there are many inexpensive products on the market. Children need to be taught the importance of this too.
Love action Here’s a huge factor is our health that’s seldom talked about. Love brings meaning to our lives. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your partner, children, parents, friends, pets, nieces and nephews, or whoever. It’s the quality of the love that counts.
Check mate When it comes to our health we often bury our heads in the sand. Regular checkups are a must, especially if you are over 40.
The most important person to love is you – and that can be the most difficult. You’ll know you love yourself enough when you look after your own health. No matter how wonderful, our family and friends can’t climb inside us and keep us healthy. That’s our job. The Cancer Information Service freefone is 1800-200700. l
Karen Ward is a counselling psychotherapist and holistic therapist. www.karenwardholistictherapist.com
Work & Life: The Magazine for IMPACT Members 25
Page title Travel and trips
A different way of seeing things Some of our specialist museums look a bit quirky at first. But ILARIA UGOLINI says they can give new insights into Irish history and culture. HAVE YOU ever visited a museum dedicated to something that doesn’t actually exist? Next time you’re stuck at home on a winter Sunday, looking for something different to do, it might be time to check out the National Leprechaun Museum. Or one of the other quirky, sometimes crazy, specialist museums dotted around the country. What could be better than spending a cheap family day doing something different – and getting a new angle on Ireland’s culture and history? Based in Jervis Street in the heart of Dublin, the Leprechaun museum is the first ever attraction dedicated to Irish mythology. This national cultural entertainment centre was opened last year and takes you deep into Irish and Celtic culture to discover the origins of typical Irish icons like leprechauns, rainbows and pots of gold. The museum is set out as a path with different stages, each reflecting a chapter of Irish mythology or experiences typically associated with leprechauns.
Culture The journey begins with leprechaun stories and representations from the first ‘sighting’ back in the eighth century through to modern day representations in film and popular culture. After that you move through the world of the leprechaun until you suddenly find yourself in a leprechaun-sized world. Walk through the rocks of the Giant’s Causeway and find giant furniture three times normal size. There’s a room with a huge map of mythological sites on the floor and a ‘rain room’ with umbrellas for a ceiling and the sound of rain pouring down. Next, walk through the rainbow room to another covered in sheets of bronzecoloured metal, which reflect maps and visuals of legendary Irish sites.
The “leprechaun experience” is a chance to feel like a leprechaun and to discover more about Irish myths and legends. It’s a mix of fun and magic, truth and fantasy, culture and folklore. Definitely recommended to those who like stories and discovering old legends.
Butter fingers You might be wondering whose idea it was to open a place like this, and the same could be said of Cork’s Butter Museum. But if you want a different view of Irish history, you shouldn’t miss it. ➤
Butter is one of Ireland’s top culinary icons and this unique institution celebrates the Irish butter trade and its role in Irish life from medieval times to the present day. It’s located in the old Butter Exchange in Cork’s Shandon area. The Exchange opened in 1770 and became the largest butter market in the world, exporting around 500,000 casks of the stuff each year by 1892. The market was closed in 1924, but since the 1980s the museum has housed demonstrations of artisans at work. The displays in its different galleries are enhanced by clear and informative panels covering all aspects of Irish dairy culture including traditional butter-making equipment, the Irish practice of preserving butter in bogs, and a room entirely dedicated to the culture of cattle and dairying in early Ireland. Don’t miss the 200-year-old butter or the video that tells you how to make butter with your hands. Spread the news – it could come in handy if the economy gets much worse!
Horseplay You can view Irish history from another angle at Galway’s Dartfield Horse Museum. It’s the only museum in the world dedicated to Irish horses, Connemara ponies and Irish dogs. And it also features exhibits on all aspects of Irish country life from 1800 to 1900. You’ll find informative displays tracing the history of the Irish horse, its use through history and how different breeds developed. And there are exhibits of historic farm machinery and carriages to give an insight into the vital role played by horses in Irish history. Displays show what rural life was like and the 90-minute tour leaves extra time to explore Dartfield’s 350 acres of parkland – with cattle, sheep, horses and Connemara ponies – on foot, horseback, or by horse-drawn carriage. Horse riding is available by the hour, half or full day. And you can get jumping tuition.
Ireland calling Heading back towards Dublin you should visit the Museum of Vintage Radio in Howth, which houses Pat Herbert’s collection of old radios, music boxes, gramophones and related items going back to the 1840s. Pat has been collecting for 40 years and his amazing display is housed in the recently-restored Martello tower that was first connected with radio in 1903 when inventor Lee de Forrest sent experimental transmissions to demonstrate his wireless telegraphy system to British Post Office engineers. Two years later, the Marconi Company conducted ship to shore wireless experiments.
NATIONAL LEPRECHAUN MUSEUM: 01-873-3899 or firstname.lastname@example.org. €10 or €7 for kids and concessions. Family ticket €27. Open daily. CORK BUTTER MUSEUM: 021-430-0600 or email@example.com. €4, students €3, School kids €1.50, free for under-12s. Open daily. DARTFIELD HORSE MUSEUM: 091-843-968 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Open daily. MUSEUM OF VINTAGE RADIO: 086-815-4189. Open weekends only November to April, daily May to October. €5.
Today, the tower is full of antique gramophones, crystal sets, Morse equipment, radios and televisions. And there’s a fantastic display of radio-related posters, photographs and maps on the walls. These are just some of the quirky collections that will give you some new insights into Irish history and culture. There may be others near you! ●
WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 27
From the kitchen MARGARET HANNIGAN decided to spring clean her kitchen and reaped the reward. Jamie Oliver’s first TV series, book and incursion into the public consciousness was as The Naked Chef. At the time this struck me as somewhat unusual, not to say reckless, given his inevitable proximity to boiling liquids and sharp utensils, and I anticipated follow-up series such as The Badly Scarred Chef or even The Horribly Mutilated Chef. But a kindly friend explained it all. Apparently it’s the food that’s naked, not the bloke doing the cooking. And by naked he means food cooked as simply and cleanly as possible, to allow the flavours shine. It’s cooking that’s short on complicated techniques, but long (sometimes very long indeed) on ingredients and seasoning, all designed to bring out the food’s overall pukka-ness. (Pukka is a Jamie word, that loosely translates as awesome). This stripped-down approach carries over to the organisation and management of the kitchen, where he is quite firm about what he describes as “reclaiming the kitchen for the job it was meant for,” and warns about other rooms spilling over into the cooking space. This struck a chord in our house, where a lightning survey revealed insurgents had left Lego, an ESB bill, a school notice, an Aldi flyer, a scrunchie, a mobile phone charger, a maths book, and a calculator jostling for space with
The naked the kettle, the bread bin, a chopping board, a radio, the mixer, and the toaster. The conclusion was obvious. Time to de-tox the kitchen and get back to basics. Now, there’s a certain amount of basic kit required to make a kitchen function smoothly. Experience will show what are the most used items. Sharp knives, chopping boards, a kettle, saucepans, ovenproof dishes, casseroles, toaster, spoons big and small, and weighing scales all feature. These should be easily accessible, as you will use almost all of them, almost every day. But what about the second tier items, like the Foreman Grill, or the pannini press, or the blender, or the bread-maker, or in my case, the Kenwood chef, which makes me feel very accomplished purely by virtue of owning it, but actually doesn’t get used very much? Yet, there it stands on the worktop, getting in my way every day. It has now been moved into the corner press (a retirement home for aspirational gadgets of all sizes) replacing the blender and mincer that had been squatting there for two years, virtually untouched. They have been moved to the halfway house of the attic, and may be destined for the charity shop. Once the equipment is sorted out and arranged u
kitchen sensibly, de-tox the presses and the fridge. Bin any out of date produce and tatty dregs you may have held onto with great intentions. Spices, which come in little bags that seem designed to self-sabotage, should be put in containers, labelled, and racked, and flours, sugars, etc should be lined up and clearly identifiable. When cooking, get into the habit of having a large basin beside you, and clean as you go, and clear the table before you even sling on an apron so that your beautiful food has somewhere to land. But what if you, like Nigella Lawson, are a selfconfessed lover of clutter? If the clutter doesnâ€™t obstruct the functionality of the kitchen, as I suspect is the case with Ms Nigella, then so be it. Most of us probably fall somewhere in the middle, with a desire for minimalist stainlesssteel order and a weakness for softly-lit pastels. Above all, most of us want the kitchen to be a place to escape to, rather than someplace to escape from. Sloughing away petty frustrations of space and order will pay off in easier, more relaxed cooking and a happier cook. l
Pappardelle with butternut squash and blue cheese HERE IS a recipe designed to soothe and relax the cook, and satisfy the appetites of all who receive it. Serves 6 I large butternut squash 1.2-1.5kg (need 800g cubed squash) 1 medium onion, finely chopped 2 x 15mls olive oil Three quarters tsp smoked (or plain) paprika 1 x15ml tbsp unsalted butter 3 x 15ml tbsps marsala ( or any white wine) 125ml water Salt 100g pine nuts 500g apparelled or other shaped pasta 6 fresh sage leaves 125g soft blue cheese - eg St Augur (or can replace with Wensleydale or crumbly cheddar) Peel, de-seed and cut squash into 2cm cubes. In a large heavy-based pan, fry the onion in olive oil. Add the paprika as the onion becomes golden. Add the squash, then the butter, and turn together in the pan. Then add the marsala and water, and cook with the lid on for about 15-20 minutes, until tender. Boil water in a large saucepan for pasta, adding salt only when it comes to the boil. Toast the pine nuts in a hot dry pan on the hob - keep a sharp eye on them as they burn very quickly - then tip onto a plate to cool. Check the squash, it should be tender, but not mush. Season to taste, but allow for the saltiness of the cheese. Cook pasta according to manufacturers instructions, and check a few minutes early. Finely chop the sage and sprinkle most of it over the squash. Take a cup of the pasta cooking water and set aside, then drain the pasta and add it to the squash, turn to combine - add some of the cooking water if it all seems a bit dry. Drop in the crumbled cheese, and about half the nuts, then gently combine, before sprinkling the remainder of the pine nuts and the reserved chopped sage on top. Enjoy l Work & Life: The Magazine for IMPACT Members
Spring blossoms Spring sees the start of new shoots and gives us all a fresh outlook. JIMI BLAKE has picked out four of his favourite flowering bulbs and shrubs which will give you months of pleasure.
Eranthis hyemalis This was the first bulb to start flowering here at Hunting Brook in mid-January where I grow them at the base of a mature birch tree. They are a welcome addition to any garden landscape when they peep their yellow and beautifully scented flowers up in the depths of winter. I bought my bulbs in the green (with their leaves attached to the bulbs) in March from Therese Duffy at Night Park Nursery in Carlow (Tel: 045-403235). Planting them in the green in late spring is the most successful way to cultivate them rather than shrivelled-up bulbs in the autumn. Plant them in sun or shade, even dry shade where you will see them at this time of year.
Narcissus cyclamineu This is a stunning daffodil which flowers in February/March, has bright yellow pendant flowers with sharply-reflexed petals which gives the impression that a strong wind has blown the petals back. They are available to buy in the autumn but can be expensive as they are slow to propagate and grow into a saleable sized bulb.
Edgeworthia Chrysantha E. chrysantha is a medium-sized deciduous shrub, about 4ft by 4ft, with papery, cinnamon-coloured bark. One of the plant’s synonyms, E. papyrifera, celebrates the use of this bark in the manufacture of high-quality paper for Japanese banknotes. Also it has incredibly flexible young stems that can, literally, be tied in knots. Its crowning glory is the clusters of fragrant, tubular yellow
flowers, borne in spherical heads measuring 1.5in to 2in across and covered in silky white hairs that make them look frosted when in bud. I am on the look out for a new variety called ‘Red Dragon’ which has gorgeous red flowers. Heavily fragrant flowers are a common adaptation of plants that need to entice the few pollinating insects around in the colder months and E. chrysantha does not disappoint neither insect nor gardener. However this is not a plant for very cold and frosty gardens. Preferring full sun, it is hardy only to about -5C to -7C. Moist but welldrained, humus-rich, loamy soil - the Holy Grail of garden soils - is what Edgeworthia Chrysantha needs. Also it needs a fairly sheltered spot. If these requirements are met it can be grown in gardens where winter frosts are common and hard frosts are not a problem, E. chrysantha can be grown at the edge of a woodland garden or in a mixed border. Improving the soil with leaf litter, grit and garden compost is vital. Not everyone will be able to grow E. chrysantha, which adds to its allure, but such a winter-flowering gem is well worth a try and forms a great conversation piece for those who really love their plants.
Coronilla Valentina Subspglauca This is a charming small glaucous shrub with the most delicious scent for growing beside a wall or even trained up a wall. I grew this when I lived in Airfield Gardens in Dublin and it flowered every month of the year without any maintenance. I am going to plant one in Hunting Brook this spring but I imagine it won’t flower as well as it did in Dublin as it comes from the Mediterranean. l
JIMI BLAKE gives some helpful advice on how to get a bumper crop of vegetables this year.
The vegetable garden
NO DOUBT you will be itching to get some seeds sown as soon as possible but, if you are reading this in early January, you will just have to wait as it’s a tad too early - the soil is too cold, wet or frozen. Use January as the planning month and get organised for the start of the vegetablegrowing season in February. In the middle of February, I prepare for my first sowing of tomatoes. These are the basket varieties ‘Tumbling Tom’ – which are sown in the heated propagator and grown on in a warm windowsill or warm greenhouse once they have been pricked out. Remember tomato plants grow very poorly at temperatures below 10 degrees, so if you cannot supply the conditions they need simply buy a plant in the garden centre in May.
ebruary F r o f s b o Garden j ted trees o o r e r a b g tin • Finish plans. Last November, I sowed some broad beans but I now sow my main b and shru ots and garlic in open crop in modular trays with longer sections so the roots can grow down. These will be planted out at the end of March for cropping in • Plant shalld weather. the summer. soil in goo mn fruiting • Prune autu to ground level. I always try to order my seed potatoes so they are delivered early in the . year, giving me plenty of time to lay them out in egg cartons to start raspberriesdleia bushes hard back chitting (chitting is the process of placing seed potatoes in a cool, • Prune bud tpea seeds in pots for light place to encourage strong sturdy shoots to grow before they are • Sow sweeering. planted in the ground). Each variety is laid out in separate cartons and early flow nions, sow seeds labelled, making sure each potato is pointing rose (where you see the small eyes) upwards. • For large ow. indoors no a tubers in pots. Once laid out, the trays are placed in a cool room with plenty of light • Start dahli and will soon produce some strong chits or shoots. I usually plant my potatoes at the end of March, weather permitting.
Although I am still picking the last of the Brussels sprouts, it is time to sow some seeds for this year’s festive crop. Towards the middle of March, I like to make a sowing of individual seeds in modular trays. ‘Brigitte F1’ is a good variety for early sowing and you should try the variety ‘Rubine’ which is an excellent red variety with a wonderful flavour. l GIY IS a registered charity which aims to encourage people from all walks
Grow it yourself (GIY) Ireland
of life and of all ages to grow their own food in their home, allotment or community garden and to provide them with the practical skills they need to do so successfully. They do this by getting GIYers together online and in community groups around Ireland so that they can learn from one another and exchange tips, ideas and produce. GIY meetings and membership are free and open to people interested in food growing at all levels, i.e. from growing a few herbs on the balcony to complete self-sufficiency, from beginners to old hands. On their website (www.giyireland.com) you will be able to find out more about GIYing, get in touch with fellow GIYers nationwide and find your nearest community group.
Work & Life: The Magazine for IMPACT Members
At the movies
Growing up pains MORGAN O’BRIEN finally warms to Harry Potter’s themes of friendship, romance and responsibility. ON A recent trip to London, I chanced upon a thronged Leicester Square rapt with anticipation for the premiere of Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 1, or HP7 as marketers and fans of brevity would have it. The intensity of such fan passion means this cultural phenomenon warrants attention. 32
Up to now, the singular charms of the Harry Potter series of films had escaped me. The initial two movies left me unmoved. Never having read the books I had little connection to, or interest in, the characters. But after recently catching up with later instalments my original opinion has changed. In the hands of Chris Columbus, The Philosopher’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets were light, and somewhat anodyne, confections. But, in marked contrast, subsequent chapters – beginning with Alfonso Cuarón’s Prisoner of Azkaban – assume a darker and more mature tone. The darkness in Cuarón’s film, and those directed by Mike Newell and David Yates, is evidenced within both the visual palette with which the films are rendered and the increasingly menacing tenor of the narrative.
Tenser Starting with Azkaban and moving through Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, and The Half-Blood Prince the series has steadily essayed more complex forms of character development and narrative structure. The frivolity of the first two films has been replaced by a tenser and more dramatic style, which sees the central characters growing up in a world that isn’t always pleasant or fair. The final episode, The Deathly Hallows, has been split into two parts, with the recently released ‘Part One’ eschewing the cosy, wood-panelled environs of Hogwarts and thrusting Harry, Ron and Hermione onto wild and metaphorical landscapes of gloomy forests and windswept cliff tops. Here they engage in frequently adolescent squabbling, while moving ever closer to the final encounter with Voldemort. ➤
archetype. For example, the opening of each film rolls out yet another venerable British character actor taking their place on the Hogwart’s staff.
“The seven films, released over the past decade, occupy the role of staging posts for Potter fans own progression through childhood and adolescence.” In essence the Harry Potter films are about the process, and by implication, the pain and difficulties of growing up. They just happen to have wizards in them. And, while the films offer the excitement of fantasy and escapist adventuring, they remain grounded in consistent and familiar tropes of coming-of-age dramatic fiction.
Amidst the admittedly impressive and enjoyable fireworks, the driving impetus of the series is the ebb and flow of the relationship between the
three main protagonists. This is the fulcrum around which themes such as friendship, romance, and responsibility all gain momentum.
Exalted In many respects, this strength is also a weakness. The stories are often derivative and over-burdened by familiarity and even the internal logic of the films has hardened into
Nevertheless, over the past decade a younger generation than mine has grown up with these characters. Irrespective of their aesthetic merits the seven films, released over the past decade, occupy the role of staging posts for Potter fans own progression through childhood and adolescence. One could dismiss the Harry Potter series as tiresome and dragged out. But for many children, adolescents and young adults it occupies a similarly exalted position as Stars Wars did for earlier generations, by providing a comforting cultural backdrop to their own coming-of-age ●
There are plenty of notable releases to divert the attention of cinema goers before the release of The Deathly Hallows: Part Two says MORGAN O’BRIEN. The King’s Speech
Never Let Me Go
Oscar baiting drama about King George VI (Colin Firth) who attempts to overcome his speech impediment with the help of a speech therapist (Geoffrey Rush).
Mark Romanek directs this dystopian drama based on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. Stars Keria Knightley alongside the up-and-coming Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield.
The Green Hornet
Michel Gondry brings his own unique visual style to bear on yet another comic book adaptation, with Seth Rogen assuming the role of the eponymous crime fighter.
Sports biopic about IrishAmerican boxer Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his relationship with his trainer and half-brother (Christian Bale) during his unlikely ascent to the world championship.
True Grit (14th January) The Coen Brothers remake of the classic western with Jeff Bridges assuming the John Wayne role as a sheriff on the trail of a murderer.
How Do You Know (21st January) Romantic-comedy from writer-director James L Brooks reaches cinemas in time for Valentine ’s Day. Starring Reese Witherspoon as a woman mired in a love triangle involving Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson.
The Beaver (11th February) Directed by and starring Jodie Foster, The Beaver features Mel Gibson as a depressed executive who begins communicating through a hand puppet.
Killing Bono (18th February) With a title that may please this organ’s music correspondent, Killing Bono is an adaptation of Neil McCormack’s memoir of the same name, which sets the failings of a rock singer against the success of his old school friend Bono. WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 33
Photos: Getty Images
Play it loud
Knockers and X-factors Sick of X Factor? Don’t blame Simon, blame Hughie Green says RAYMOND CONNOLLY. MAYBE BEING housebound during the severe weather last November made me notice the pandemic outbreak of reality TV. The Apprentice, Come Dine with Me and the despicable I’m a Celebrity… What qualifies as celebrity these days is so dubious, unlike the halcyon days of Blankety Blank and Celebrity Squares, which paraded genuine household names like Lorraine Chase and Willie Rushden. But the straw that broke the camel’s back was the last series of reality-cum-karaoke, X Factor. From a musical standpoint, this is grim fare indeed. The concept is to seek out some karaoke warbler and mould them into a factory-produced Cowell robot. The show runs for months and is totally unavoidable. It’s taking over. The local pub has it on every screen. In Greece last autumn, my favourite little cosy bar was swarmed with a Burnley horde in vest tops, swilling beer and watching X Factor. I don’t remember Opportunity Knocks and New Faces having quite the same effect on public behaviour, despite being considered as legendary institutions now. 34
Opportunity Knocks winners were decided by public vote although, for fun and frolics on the night, there was the 'clapometer' to measure audience applause. Host Hughie Green would insist that votes came in on a postcard “in your own handwriting.” Maximum security, as they said in Dad’s Army.
Dog daze The notorious occasion when a young Su Pollard was beaten into second place by a singing dog evidenced the egalitarian nature of the show. Surely Jedward would have thrived in such an opportunistic environment. Meanwhile over on New Faces luminaries like Tony Hatch, Noel Edmonds and Mickie Most were judging acts in a format not dissimilar to X Factor. But I lay the blame for the factory-produced stereotype act so popular on X Factor squarely on the shoulders of Messrs Stock, Aitken and Waterman who in the late 1980s churned out a succession of what were dubbed Hi-NRG underground club hits. The lads themselves claimed they were similar to Motown. But surely there must be a standards issue somewhere. How’s this ➤
5 STOCK PILERS 1 4
for a catalogue of catastrophe: Hazell Dean, Jason Donovan, Kylie Minogue, Rick Astley, Samantha Fox, The Fat Slags and Roland Rat. And this is just a random selection. I could bang on about Pepsi & Shirlie, but that would have Marvin Gaye spinning in his grave.
Respectable by Mel & Kim
(1987) “Tay-tay-tay-taytay-tay-tay-taytay-tay-tay take or leave it.” The latter, surely.
The notorious occasion when Su Pollard was beaten into second place by a singing dog evidenced the egalitarian nature of the show. Surely Jedward would have thrived in such an environment.
Touch Me (I Want Your Body) by Samantha Fox (1986) And you haven’t even met me yet.
Twenty years on, the legacy is evident. The album charts are dominated by reality pop TV acts or other manufactured dross. Westlife, Olly Murs, Michael Bublé, Shayne Ward, Take That. The only significant solace is that the charts are currently U2-free.
Too Many Broken Hearts by Jason Donovan (1989) Too many broken records.
Toy Boy by Sinitta (1987) Take Stock. I’m achin’, I need water man!
5 You Spin Me Round by Dead or Alive (1984) Wanted dead or alive.
Time warped I’m sometimes accused of being stuck in a time warp. Naturally I refute this ridiculous slur. However one piece of sound advice, folks. If you are to get stuck, just pick the right warp, hold on tight and stay there. In its defence, this column has previously lauded Lady Gaga’s creativity and the presence of Rihanna’s Loud album in the charts provided some welcome respite. Throw in Rumer, Imelda May and Villagers into the mix and there’s plenty around the place to get enthused about. Mind you I just fail to get the public obsession with Kings of Leon, whose most interesting contribution is the fact that the three Followill brothers toured the southern United States with their father Ivan, a United Pentecostal Church preacher. When dear old Ivan decided to resign from the church to get a divorce, the boys broke out and went all rock ‘n’ roll on us. I vowed I would never become like my father who, when I was discovering the energy and excitement of The Who, shook his head and said “John McCormack would turn in his grave.” The notion of Count McCormack turning in his grave is all a bit Boris Karloff for me. So deep is the night! My father’s other pearl of wisdom was that modern footballers are softies. And he was talking about Norman Hunter, Chopper Harris, Peter Storey and Tommy Smith. Maybe it’s happening to me, because when I look at X Factor I imagine that Keith Moon and John Entwistle would, indeed, be turning in those graves ●
Spring Solutions (From page 46.)
7 2 1 5 6 4 3 9 8
8 3 4 9 1 7 2 5 6
9 5 6 3 2 8 4 1 7
1 8 2 4 3 5 6 7 9
6 9 3 7 8 1 5 2 4
4 7 5 6 9 2 8 3 1
5 1 7 8 4 3 9 6 2
2 4 9 1 5 6 7 8 3
Soduko easy solution
3 6 8 2 7 9 1 4 5
8 5 2 7 4 3 9 6 1
9 6 3 1 2 5 4 8 7
1 7 4 8 6 9 3 2 5
2 9 1 5 8 6 7 3 4
4 3 6 9 7 2 1 5 8
5 8 7 3 1 4 6 9 2
3 1 5 2 9 7 8 4 6
6 2 8 4 3 1 5 7 9
7 4 9 6 5 8 2 1 3
Soduko difficult solution
4 Les Dawson “I’m not saying my mother in law’s fat but...”
Bob Dylan inspired. “Oh I wish I’d looked after me teeth.”
Berni Flint And nor do we want to put a hold on you.
Pete and the Plate Spinning Dog Hughie Green goes barking mad.
5 Bobby Crush Ivory tickler who penned Orville’s I Wish I Could Fly. Quality.
Winter 2010 Crossword Solutions See page 46 for the competition winners from Issue 11.
Across: 1. Scarf 5. Ghost 8. Launder 9. Inane 10. Incur 11. Squared 14. Fresh 17. Stray 20. Setanta 21. Quip 22. Ugly 23. Enquiring 24. Freda 27. Stays 30. Delight 32. Dogma 33. Unite 34. Greeted 35. Eerie 36. Yield. Down: 1. Stiff 2. Awake 3. Flesh 4. Enda 5. Grids 6. Occur 7. Tardy 12. Unnatural 13. Rostering 15. Regular 16. Suspend 18. Thought 19. Analogy 24. Fudge 25. Eager 26. Adage 27. Study 28. Agile 29. Speed 31. Idea WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 35
From the author Emma has two children aged nine and 10 and she started writing her first novel Designer Genes as a log because she planned to tell the kids about her experience when they were older. “It was far too boring as a log so I started to write it as a novel and it was easier for people to relate to it,” she says. It went on to be a bestseller, as was the next book Miss Conceived. Miss Conceived is based around three women’s experience; Ruby, 15, who gets pregnant by her best friend’s father; Angie, 40, who takes matters into her own hands to get pregnant; and Serena and her struggle to conceive.
“I’ve ended up with an amazing job because I was sick. I was trying to find myself. Unfortunately, I had to get cancer to do it.” Despite her surgery, Emma has had cancer six times and was in mid-treatment when I spoke to her. She describes writing her memoirs as a great therapy session.“I hope it gives a bit of hope. Cancer is a taboo subject. There are loads of drugs out there that help and they are improving all the time. There are a lot more people in their 20s and 30s are getting cancer and surviving,” she says. Emma is a true survivor. “It is very annoying that the cancer keeps coming back, but it’s treatable. I can live with it. I’m sitting in bed with the lap top and the cat. I’ve ended up with an amazing job because I was sick. I was trying to find myself. Unfortunately, I had to get cancer to do it. “I’m lucky. It’s terrifying in the beginning but it’s not like that anymore. A positive attitude helps. I think all the time ‘I can live with cancer’ and the doctors will deal with the rest. They do the hard work,” she says. “I love writing. It’s like everything clicked into place. I don’t feel like I’m working. It’s such escapism and you can play God! If I don’t like a character I can change things around. It’s fun when you are creating this world.”
True survivor Martina O’Leary spoke to EMMA HANNIGAN about her books and her journey with cancer. I’M FULL of admiration for Emma Hannigan. And not just because she has three books planned for publication this year. Her memoirs Talk to the Head Scarf are being launched in the spring and her third book, Pink Ladies Club issues in the summer. Meanwhile, the paperback version of Emma’s second book Miss Conceived is also out this spring. Emma started writing while in hospital recovering from several operations in 2006. These included a double mastectomy, breast reconstruction and the removal of both ovaries. She’d opted for surgery after discovering that she had a gene called Brca, which gave her an 85% chance of developing breast cancer and a 50% chance of ovarian cancer. 36
Emma’s new novel, The Pink Ladies Club, is based around three women with different types of cancer. “I hope it’s funny and I hope it gives an insight into what goes on and what I have learned from my own experience. But this will be the last time I write about cancer,” she says ●
Win a copy of Miss Conceived We have a copy of Miss Conceived to give away. To be in with a chance to win, answer the question below and send your entry to Roisin Nolan, Miss Conceived competition, IMPACT, Nerney’s Court, Dublin 1. Entries must reach us by Friday 4th March 2011. Who wrote Miss Conceived?
Slipping through the cracks
THE PENANCE ROOM by Carol Coffey (Poolbeg, €9.95).
CHOCOLATE WARS by Deborah Cadbury (Harper Press, £20.00 in the UK).
WHEN I read the blurb on the back cover of this book, I have to admit I rolled my eyes and sighed. I may even have muttered under my breath about things being bad enough without having to read a novel where the central character is a thirteenyear old deaf boy who has lost a foot in an horrific accident and lives in an old folks home in the middle of nowhere. I’m sure anyone could be forgiven for wondering where, exactly, the story can go from there – and is it somewhere you want to visit? Because, as many an innocent reader will know, once you let an unsettling story inside your head, erasing those images can be virtually impossible. (And yes Stephen King, I do mean you.) And so I started to read with no small amount of trepidation, but after the first few pages I was so involved with Christopher and his companions, that the story became more important than the flavour of the outcome. The book is set in rural Australia, in a retirement home run by Christopher’s parents Emma and Anthony called appropriately enough, Broken Hill. We first meet Christopher awakening from a nightmare about the accident that caused him to lose his foot. He rises and, as he limps towards his parents room, he introduces us to some of the other residents, and starts to tell his own story. Deaf since early childhood, Christopher has had few friendships. Though isolated, and apparently ignored, he has become an acute observer of the lives of others, and is determined to help his older companions find peace of mind at the end of their days. To this end, he uses the full weight of his small, silent, presence to encourage the visit of one Stephane Laver, who wishes to record the histories of the residents. This allows the other characters to shine and a whole series of new narrative strands to unfold, while continuing to fill in the gaps in Christopher’s story. It is all handled with flair and sensitivity by the author, with not a false note sounded anywhere. In the best possible way, it will break your heart. A thoroughly satisfying read, particularly suitable for any book group stuck for a pick.
DEBORAH CADBURY is an acclaimed writer, but this book has a personal aspect to it. As you might guess, she is descended from the famous Cadbury family, one of the first developers of chocolate. You might think that a book about a family business would be of limited interest, but in fact this book is fascinating. The cocoa bean was a popular commodity back in the nineteenth century. At the time though, it was almost exclusively used as a drink with starchy foodstuffs added to soak up the large amount of fat. The Fry family of Bristol were leading the market at the time the Cadbury brothers, Richard and George, took over their father’s small business in the centre of Birmingham. For many years they struggled and had almost lost all of their capital, when they had the idea of selling pure, finely ground cocoa. This turned their business around and the factory began to make huge profits. Being Quakers, they had no interest in wealth themselves, but strongly felt responsibility to their workforce. They moved their business out to Bourneville, where they built a huge factory surrounded by fields and a river. They also built playing fields, tennis courts and other facilities, including small houses for some of their staff. Guided by principles of hard work and austerity, the Quakers saw innovation and profit-making as a way of benefiting society and this book details other great Quaker family enterprises such as Fry’s and Rowntrees of York. Last year Deborah Cadbury spoke to striking workers at Bournville, a town which was once the realisation of a dream for those who believed completely in the dignity of their workforce. It is almost tragic, having read this book, to realise that most of these businesses are now owned by huge conglomerates such as Kraft, and that massive profit is the only factor in whether people have work or not. Kathryn Smith
Margaret Hannigan More reviews on page 38 ➤ WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 37
More book reviews
Champion horse SECRETARIAT by William Nack (Harper Collins, £7.99 in the UK). USUALLY WHEN a film is adapted from a book, somebody will say that the book is better. This is often because film captures the action but misses much of the depth. Occasionally though that can be a positive thing and the new Disney film of this book might be one of those exceptions. The book is very detailed; the first six chapters are almost entirely dedicated to listing the bloodline of the champion racehorse, Secretariat. Similarly, each race in which Secretariat runs is recounted from start to finish and while interesting to read, visually they must be very exciting. The book imbues Secretariat with almost human qualities and his personality and good looks make him a great choice for a movie. While this book is primarily about horses and the racing and breeding of them, there is some human interest. Chris Chenery who began life in modest circumstances, eventually attained a position of wealth and built the Meadow Stables. This became one of the top stables in America but towards the end of his life, the stables began to go downhill. After his death, it appeared that his family would have to sell the land and stables in order to pay the taxes due on the estate. But his youngest daughter Penny was determined to keep them in the family. One of her young horses had begun to show great promise so Penny decided to syndicate him for $6 million, an unheard of sum in 1972. She soon became a respected figure in the male-dominated world of racing and Secretariat became one of the best-loved horses of all time.
The over killing of JFK JKF IN IRELAND by Ryan Tubridy (Harper Collins, £20.00 in the UK). THERE ARE certain public figures, it seems, whose grip on the public imagination can only be compared to that of a ravenous lion fastened to the haunch of an unfortunate wildebeest. When it comes to JFK, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Princess Diana, and Michael Jackson, us poor wildebeests just can’t escape regular onslaughts from the most unexpected angles, where any aspect of these people’s lives, no matter how inconsequential, is dismantled, picked over, and served up as history. In fairness, JFK’s visit to Ireland in June 1963 was a seminal moment in Irish history. It was recognition of the 14-year-old Irish Republic as a sovereign nation state by the leader of the most powerful nation in the world, and allowed Irish people everywhere to claim him as one of their own. It was a victory for Irish emigrants and, for those left behind, a chance to share the glory. For Sean Lemass, it was a boost to his programme of expansion and modernisation, and put him and Ireland on the cover of Time magazine. For President DeValera, elderly and failing, it was a glimpse into the future and a bow to the past as a great-grandson of famine emigrants returned to a hero’s welcome. For JFK, it was a tidal wave of love. All in all, a heady mix on a visit where the politics were those of symbolism rather than reality. The thorny issue of partition was not mentioned in any speech made by JFK, but he did lay a wreath at Arbour Hill, in recognition of the fallen leaders of the 1916 Rising. He moved with apparent ease from a cup of tea with his cousins in Wexford, to a formal address to the Dáil. He charmed and captivated everyone he met, and it’s easy to see why.
If you live and breathe horses, you will love this book. If you just love a good story and don’t mind if the hero isn’t human, you will probably enjoy the film more.
Despite all that, an entire book on the subject is pushing the material to its limits. The author has thoroughly researched his subject, and his enthusiasm for his subject is infectious, but there is just a hint of schoolboy hero-worship and of a sixth-year essay that got too big for its boots.
Third year of budget blues Photo: Paula Geraghty
IMPACT HAS rejected ill-informed criticism that public servants were shielded from the worst effects of last December’s budget. The union’s general secretary Shay Cody told journalists that the two previous budgets had already cut public service pay by over 14% in less than two years. “And the tax changes in the 2011 budget will hit public servants in exactly the same way as everyone else, just as they did in 2009 and 2010,” he said. Overall, the union said the budget was a recipe for continued financial and economic failure, which would disproportionately hit those on low and middle incomes. Pledging to campaign to resist cuts in the minimum wage and social welfare, Shay Cody said Ireland needed an alternative approach that put jobs and economic stimulation at the centre of economic policy. “By taking yet more money from those on low and middle incomes, be they workers, welfare recipients or pensioners, the Government is guaranteeing that we won’t grow out of the financial crisis. Instead, the vicious circle of economic decline will continue as consumer demand falls further, creating more unemployment and further declines in tax revenue,” he said. IMPACT also attacked the decision to raise taxes through bands and levies rather than headline tax rates. “This is the most regressive way of increasing taxes as it hits those on lower incomes relatively harder. It is a political decision to load the extra tax burden on ordinary people instead of those on higher incomes,” said Cody.
A cut too far.
Minimum wage fight continues IMPACT AND other unions have vowed to campaign to reverse the €1 cut in the minimum wage, which was rushed through as an amendment to budget legislation. ICTU angrily dismissed Government claims that the IMF had insisted on the cut, which will have absolutely no impact on the deficit. Its general secretary David Begg said the IMF had categorically denied that it had sought or proposed cutting minimum pay. IMPACT urged its members to support an emergency petition, launched by the Claiming Our Future group, which raised over 6,000 signatures in less than two days. It presented the petition at the Dáil before the vote to cut the minimum wage was taken. The union was also at the forefront of a last-ditch lobbying campaign to try to get TDs to vote against the measure. Taoiseach Brian Cowen has admitted that the controversial cut, which slashes €40 a week
The TASC think tank said this was the latest of four consecutive austerity budgets, which had taken over €20 billion out the economy. It calculated that a single PAYE employee earning €25,000 would suffer a net loss of 4.6% compared to 3.9% for someone on €175,000 a year.
from the household budgets of tens of thousands of struggling families, is a prelude to driving down pay across the economy. The main opposition parties voted against the minimum wage cut. IMPACT general secretary Shay Cody said cuts to the minimum wage and social welfare were additional attacks on low income families, as was the decision to further cut pay for new public service staff. “IMPACT and other unions will strongly resist the cuts in the minimum wage and social welfare which, coupled with an additional tax burden, will impoverish tens of thousands. Meanwhile, pay for new public servants – predominantly those on the lowest pay – will now be almost 25% lower than it was less than two years ago,” he said. ICTU general secretary David Begg said there was no economic, social, political or moral justification for the cut.” It will not create one job or save the exchequer one cent,” he said.
“The previous budgets have had a disproportionate impact on low income and vulnerable groups and they have failed to address the deficit, the jobs crisis and to stimulate growth in the economy. This budget represents more of the same failed policy choices and it will fail in its own terms,” it said. WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 39
Croke Park stays put But more pressure to deliver
Salary cut IMPACT WILL seek to reverse the 10% cut in entry level salaries for new public service staff, which was announced by the Government and subsequently included in the EUIMF programme at the end of last year. Public service union leaders met finance department officials in December and received assurances that the measure would not affect serving staff who are promoted either internally or via public competition.
Pension relief IN A significant move that removes immediate pressures from funded pension schemes that are in deficit, the Pensions Board has agreed to extend the timeframe for the submission of funding proposals to the Board for its approval. The Board will announce shortly the new extended timeframe for such proposals.
Air defence IMPACT HAS rejected Fine Gael proposals to limit industrial action rights for Ireland’s air traffic controllers. The union pointed out that there had been almost no strike action by Ireland’s air traffic controllers in the history of the State and that the party’s proposals would not protect Irish business and travellers from the effects of more frequent strikes in continental Europe
Public test best ANY ROBUST review and comparison between public and private driving tests will show that the existing service would beat outsourced provision on quality and price, according to IMPACT. The union also says any proposal to outsource the service would have to meet the terms of the Croke Park agreement. The statement came after the Department of Transport told IMPACT it intends to hire consultants to undertake a study of the service with a view to possible outsourcing. 40
THE DEAL agreed between the coalition Government and the IMF and European Union specifically says that the Croke Park agreement remains in place. This position has been endorsed by the Irish Government and main opposition parties, on the understanding that the agreement will deliver very substantial savings and a reconfiguration of public services as budgets and staff numbers continue to fall. But the union believes the political ground may shift unless the deal delivers – and is seen to deliver – real savings and reforms. As part of the IMF-EU memorandum of understanding the Government has committed itself to “consider an appropriate adjustShay Cody ment” in the public sector wage bill if the Croke Park agreement does not deliver. This underpins the existing fact that pay cuts and compulsory redundancies are likely to come back into play in 2011 unless modernisation measures deliver substantial savings. IMPACT general secretary Shay Cody and other union leaders met finance minister Brian Lenihan in advance of the IMF negotiations and the minster confirmed that the Government remained committed to the deal on the understanding that it will quickly deliver substantial savings. On foot of this, union representatives on the Croke Park national implementation body have continued to press management for tangible proposals that produce savings, avoid future costs, bring service improvements, or deliver quantifiable efficiency improvements. IMPACT has also developed detailed training modules for branch representatives to help them to ensure that the deal is being implemented on the ground – and that staff get the protections that are included in the deal. Many branches have now been trained. Shay Cody said: “Action plans have now been produced across the public service and these include real measures that will deliver savings or maintain services as huge savings are made though the recruitment moratorium and staff reductions. I have pressed management very hard because it’s clear that the pressure will come back on public service pay unless Croke Park is made to work.” In a letter to IMPACT branches, Cody said the union remained fundamentally opposed to the Government’s economic and budgetary policies, but the Croke Park agreement remained the only available mechanism for protecting members’ jobs and incomes and minimising the impact of cuts on public service delivery. “The union must continue to work to ensure that the changes required under Croke Park, including the redeployment arrangements, are implemented. The critics of public services in the media and elsewhere will continue their attacks and any failure to deliver will lead to pressure on the present Government or any future administration to revisit the agreement,” he said.
Pension advice sought IMPACT HAS commissioned legal advice on the Government’s plan to cut current public service pensions, which was also endorsed in November’s EU-IMF agreement. The union believes new legislation will be required to impose the cut. The union has also sought a meeting with the Department of Finance to discuss the potential anomalies that could arise from the proposal, which were set out in a detailed IMPACT submission to the department at the end of last year.
IMPACT general secretary Shay Cody said: “The proposed reductions throw up significant anomalies between the treatment of public service pensioners and those in receipt of the contributory old age pension, particularly those with a qualified adult dependant allowance. This is a matter that will have to be highlighted with politicians in an active local campaign.” Meanwhile, the union’s retired members’ vocational group is lobbying TDs in a campaign to resist the proposed cuts.
GET MORE NEWS IMPACT members can sign up for full access to our website and a monthly emailed news bulletin, which means you get more new faster. Visit www.impact.ie to sign up.
VEC cut outrage IMPACT HAS met education department officials to express staff outrage at the proposed reduction to 16 VECs – far in excess of the proposals published by the McCarthy report in 2008. The union is working to ensure that members benefit from Croke Park protections as the rationalisation programme is implemented. The Croke Park deal gives a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies and explicitly says there should be no unilateral revisions of contracts for VEC staff. The Department said it would establish effective processes to deal with the industrial relations issues that arise. This is an obligation under the Croke Park agreement, as is staff and union cooperation with VEC rationalisation.
In meetings with senior politicians from all parties, IMPACT has received no indication that the decision is likely to be reversed either by the Government or by another future administration. IMPACT assistant general secretary Pat Bolger said VEC staff would be highly vulnerable without the Croke Park agreement. “No major party, either in Government or opposition, has pledged to reverse the decision to rationalise the VECs. In the absence of the Croke Park deal Government policy of rationalising VECs, which is now underpinned by the agreement with the IMF and EU, would inevitably mean compulsory redundancies for many IMPACT members,” he said.
SHORTS Education cuts opposed IMPACT IS opposing the imposition of pay cuts on education staff employed directly by schools and VECs. After years of refusing to recognise a link between their pay and directly employed staff, the education department now says the public service pay cut is going to be imposed from January.
Not so stylish SHOP WORKERS’ union mandate is asking people to sign an online petition in support of 22 workers from Dublin’s Laura Ashley store, who have been on strike since September when the company said it intended to close the shop. The company has refused to go to the Labour Relations Commission to resolve the dispute. Sign the petition and find out more at www.mandate.ie.
Redundancy fiasco threatens services IMPACT’S WARNING that a rushed redundancy scheme for health staff could jeopardise vital services was proved real when the HSE admitted it would be mid-December before it knew who was leaving under the scheme. This left just 13 days, including weekends and Christmas day, to reconfigure services. It also emerged in early December that over 2,600 applicants had yet to receive details of their entitlements. In a letter to health minister Mary Harney, IMPACT also said many staff had been given incorrect information about their personal situations and that additional costs would be incurred because management had not given some applicants sufficient notice and would have to pay them in lieu of notice if they left by the 30th December deadline. IMPACT national secretary Louise O’Donnell said HSE staff working on the schemes had been given impossible deadlines. “They have worked extremely hard to deal with staff queries and other tasks. But, through no fault of their own, they have been unable to meet the imposed and totally unrealistic deadlines,” she said. “This is not the first time that, despite political and health service management commitments and public statements, staff and service users find themselves in a position where unattainable deadlines have been imposed for major projects, followed by an inevitable rush to meet deadlines with no thought as to the consequences,” said O’Donnell.
UNION LEADERS and representatives of 20,000 community workers met recently to plan resistance to budget cuts that place too much of the burden on vulnerable communities. Union leaders, including IMPACT general secretary Shay Cody, also said they would continue to resist significant wage cuts imposed on community sector workers.
Clean clothes IMPACT IS supporting the clean clothes campaign, which was launched in Ireland at the end of last year. The campaign is dedicated to supporting the empowerment of workers in the global garment and sportswear industries and improving their working conditions. Get more information from www.cleanclothescampaignireland.org.
WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 41
Photo: Photocall Ireland
IT WAS with great sadness that we learned that Evelyn Owens had died on 26th September 2010. A committed trade unionist and tireless campaigner for women’s rights, Evelyn was well known to IMPACT members and staff as a senior activist in the Local Government and Public Service Union (LGPSU), which merged to become part of IMPACT in 1991. Evelyn was the first woman president of the union and later became the first female Labour Court Chair and the first women leas cathaoirleach of Seanad Éireann, to which she was elected after being nominated to the Labour Panel by ICTU in 1969. Evelyn started work in Dublin Corporation on leaving school in 1948. She came to prominence in 1960 when successfully resisting attempts to introduce new local authority pay scales that would have discriminated between men and women, on foot of an arbitrator’s finding. The national executive of the Irish Local Government Officers’ Union (ILGOU – now part of IMPACT) recommended acceptance of the finding on the basis that it finally introduced an arbitration scheme that would allow many other backed-up claims to be processed. But a small group of female clerical officers successfully mobilised opinion against the proposed change. As a founder member of the Association of Women Officers of the Local Authorities of Ireland, Evelyn led the campaign to politicise the issue and ultimately achieved the objective of equal pay for work of equal value in a political and cultural environment that did not recognise gender equality. In his book Servants to the Public, Martin Maguire says that this bitter disagreement within the union could have caused a permanent split in the ILGOU. Nevertheless, it is a fasci42
nating and uplifting chapter in our union’s history, and a testament to Evelyn’s determination, commitment and sense of justice. Evelyn went on to hold many positions in the ILGOU, including vice–president, before becoming the union’s first female president in 1967. She was also a member of the ICTU Public Services Committee and chair of its Women’s Advisory Committee, as well as being a member of the Council for the Status of Women. In 1971 she successfully proposed a motion to the Local Government and Public Services Union (LGPSU) conference calling for an end to legislation that required women to resign from the public service when they married. Evelyn was also an active and committed member of the Labour Party, where she held a number of positions including chair of the Labour National Women’s Council. In 1969 she was nominated for Seanad Éireann by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions as a candidate for the Labour Panel. She was successful and served two terms as a Senator, becoming the first woman to be elected as Leas-Cathaoirleach of the upper house. She joined the Labour Court as deputy Chairwoman in 1984 and was to become the Court’s first female Chairperson, a position she retired from in 1997. Evelyn was a woman of courage and conviction. A committed trade unionist and tireless campaigner for women’s and workers’ rights, she holds a special place in IMPACT’s history and will be fondly remembered as an inspiration by her friends and colleagues. Evelyn Owens: born 1931; died 26th September 2010.
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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 email@example.com. We’ll send €100 to the first completed entry pulled from a hat.* And don’t forget, we’re also giving prizes for letters published in the next issue. See page 19.
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WORK & LIFE: THE MAGAZINE FOR IMPACT MEMBERS 43
Sport Wales will be dangerous. Scotland will be stubborn and Italy will not lie down. But Ireland could still take the six nations says KEVIN NOLAN.
The six nations is THERE IS a reasonable train of thought that Ireland could be the most satisfied of the Six Nations teams after the November international series. This view gained some credibility when they climbed two places, from seventh to fifth, in the IRB world rankings at the end of the November. They were the only country to make an upward move, climbing over France to rest one place above England. Okay, so they didn’t secure the three-out-of-four return that was thought achievable before the window opened. But they have shown progression of their game plan and their squad without the influence of Paul O’Connell or Jerry Flannery. Ireland coach Declan Kidney analyses with his usual understated pragmatism. “We set our own standards. We lost two. That is what we will look at. We can’t be happy with that. The first forty minutes against South Africa put us under a lot of pressure to win that one. Had we won that one, we could have relaxed things a bit more.” Kidney made 11 changes for the Samoa game. He said this was in order to build the Irish squad. “They showed up well. There was a benefit in that. Against New Zealand, the
Overall, Ireland started flat against world champions South Africa, took a physical pounding from Samoa, stretched New Zealand and broke the will of the Pumas. Most importantly, there was a development in their style, partly due to improved playing conditions through the month, and a discernible shape to their game with Jonathan Sexton, Stephen Ferris and Jamie Heaslip emerging as game changers to rival their captain Brian O’Driscoll. Indeed, such was their confidence and strength they could use O’Driscoll as a decoy against Argentina who always like to flood the midfield. That would never have happened five years ago. England almost sent a shiver of panic through the All Blacks (16-26), exploded from the blocks to dissect Australia (35-18) in their best hour since the 2003 world cup final, struggled to subdue Samoa (26-13) and, finally, came unstuck against South Africa (11-21) to leave a bitter aftertaste to what was shaping up like a month to remember. The ever unpredictable French trotted out inconclusive wins over Fiji (34-12) and Argentina (15-9) on a mini-tour of the
“Ireland started flat against the world champions South Africa, took a physical pounding from Samoa, stretched New Zealand and broke the will of the Pumas.” more often we play them the better we will be for it. Against Argentina, the first-half was pretty good. There were things to look at even though we were counter-rucked and we turned over line-out ball.” The areas in most need of repair are the lineout and restarts. The welcome return to action of the irreplaceable O’Connell for his club (Young Munster) and his province should see that shored up tighter than a Cavan man’s grip. Although his booking against the Ospreys in December was cause for concern.
The same could be said of Flannery, whose accuracy out of touch proved beyond Rory Best and Sean Cronin. Even so, props Cian Healy and Tony Buckley showed an improvement in the scrum, which was good enough to break even with an Argentinean front row of Rodrigo Roncero, Mario Ledesma and Martin Scelzo.
44 SPRING 2011
country before they were throttled by Australia (16-59) in what must have been a massive blow to their coach Marc Lievremont. Wales could not eke out a single win from their four attempts, deflated by Australia (16-25) and South Africa (25-29), held by Fiji (16-16) and cracked by New Zealand (25-37). Despite this, they did show the greatest home nations threat in attack. They could just click in the spring. u
open for business Andy Robinson’s Scotland came into November buoyed by their excellent two-test summer tour to Argentina. They were quickly put in their place by Sonny Bill Williams and the All Blacks (3-49), rebounded against South Africa (21-17) and concluded their three tests by pinching a win against Samoa (19-16). They are not to be underestimated. Significantly, Ireland will have France and England at home in Landsdowne Road where the atmosphere will be electric on Six Nations day. However, the last thing the Irish needed was a French debacle against Australia in Paris. They will be determined to replicate their Grand Slam season.
Under Martin Johnson, England are starting to motor out wide as well as in the tight areas. Wales will be dangerous. Scotland will be stubborn and Italy will not lie down. All in all, the 2011 Six Nations was open to interpretation from November. Ireland are finding their form and uncovering a depth of squad that was not there under Eddie O’Sullivan. There is every reason to be optimistic about winning the Six Nations, if not quite repeating their Grand Slam of 2009. l
Pulling the tiger by the tail There was a time when we thought the good times would never end. There was a time when we thought rugby was recession-proof. Well think again. The experiences of the IRFU and the FAI over the autumn and the playing of internationals in front of half-full stands in the brand new shiny Aviva Stadium should have sent a warning shot across the bows of every sporting and entertainment association in the country. Event junkies’ can no longer be relied upon to swell the attendances at even the most mundane occasions, so sporting bodies will have to be more imaginative to get the turnstiles spinning. It’s an issue the GAA have attempted to come to grips with in recent summers and they have introduced a number of initiatives in an attempt to reward regular attendees at games – loyalty cards so to speak. The GAA’s season ticket guarantees holders access to every league and championship game involving their county right up until the All-Ireland final – should the chosen county qualify – when a ticket is offered for purchase to the patron. During the Celtic Tiger years the marketeers had it easy. Now it’s time for them to earn their wedge! l
Work & Life: The Magazine for IMPACT Members
It redoubles the burden of pressure onto the shoulders of Warren Gatland who was, only a few short months ago, seen as the only legitimate British and Irish Lions coach for Australia in 2013. He will be lucky if he still has a job.
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IMPACT Gaeltacht Scholarships 2011 IMPACT makes a number of small grants towards members’ children’s trips to the Gaeltacht. Look out for details on our website – www.impact.ie 46
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Commercial membership services MPACT has facilitated the provision of a number of national membership services and discount schemes on behalf of its members. These include Additional Voluntary Contribution Schemes (Pensions), Life Assurance, Salary Protection in the case of illness and Car, House and Travel Insurance Schemes. A number of local discount schemes are also negotiated by local branches.
The Union uses the size and composition of its membership base and, where possible, competition between the various service providers, to seek the best possible deals for the widest possible sections of our membership. It is probable that the majority of members will get better value from these schemes than if they sought the same service individually. However, this will not be true in all cases and there will be occasions where individual members may, because of their specific circumstances, be able to get better value elsewhere. It is not possible always to ensure that all schemes will be accessible equally to all members and the scheme underwriters will not depart totally from their normal actuarial or risk assessment procedures and rules. IMPACT does not make any claims as to the quality or reliability of any of these products/services and while advising members of the availability of the National Membership Services and Discount Schemes does not endorse or recommend any particular product or service. IMPACT's role is that of facilitator to ensure that such schemes are available to its members. All contracts are directly between the product/service provider and the individual member. IMPACT is not in any way a party to these contracts and will not accept any responsibility or liability arising from any act or omission on the part of the product or service provider. Neither IMPACT nor any member of its staff receives any fees or commissions or other rewards from these product or service providers arising from such schemes. While IMPACT does occasionally provide such product/service providers with limited information regarding IMPACT branch and/or workplace representatives for the purpose of advertising such schemes, the Union does not make any personal data relating to individual Union members available to them for any purpose. The Union requires that product/service providers agree to ensure that all such schemes comply with all lawful requirements including the Equal Status Act 2000. Advertisements for agreed membership services will have an
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Some of the companies providing agreed membership services may offer other products or services (that are not as a result of any agreement or arrangement with IMPACT) directly to IMPACT members. The Union has no role whatsoever in relation to such products or services. Likewise, other product or service providers may make offers directly to IMPACT members through advertisements in the Union newspaper or otherwise. These do not arise as a result of agreements or arrangements with IMPACT and the Union does not ask members to consider availing of such products/services and accepts no responsibility whatsoever for any such offers. The product/service providers with which IMPACT has agreed the provision of membership services and/or discount schemes are as follows: Brassington & Co. Ltd.
Cornmarket Group Financial Services Ltd.
Travel Insurance – all Divisions.
Car Insurance – all Divisions. Salary Protection and Life Assurance –
Local Government and Health Divisions only.
Group Insurance Services (GIS)
Marsh Financial Services Ltd.
Car Insurance – all Divisions.
AVC Schemes – all Divisions excluding Municipal Employees.
House Insurance – all Divisions.
Salary Protection and Life Assurance – Civil Service and Services & Enterprises Divisions only.
DISCLAIMER (Approved by CEC 10th December 2004) 48
Published on Jan 5, 2011