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Ireland’s dedicated Magazine for the public sector, semi state bodies and civil service

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TACKLING THE HOUSING CRISIS

A Coalition of the Willing www.thepublicsector.org

7 HEALTHY WORKFORCE STRATEGIES

Managing the HSE’s vast and varied workforce

STEADY AS SHE SAILS

Record Trading Year at Port of Cork

‘WE ARE CORK’

The fastest growing city in Ireland


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Health. Environment. Social Protection. Education. Revenue. Justice. All public bodies have one thing in common. Equality and Human Rights. Public Sector Magazine

Since 2014 all public bodies have a statutory obligation to eliminate discrimination. promote equality of opportunity, and protect the human rights of their employees and the public.

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Download our guide to implementing the Public Sector Human Rights and Equality Duty at ihrec.ie the Public Sector Magazine


Public Sector Magazine

Contents Ireland’s dedicated magazine for the Public Sector, Semi State Bodies, Local Government and Civil Servants

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Giving Recovery a Voice

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Evolving Solutions

114 Building Progress

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Healthy Workforce Strategies

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A Proven Record in Tax Education

118 Squaring the Circle

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Managing Editor Tommy Quinn tommy@devlinmedia.org Sales Paul Halley Martin O’Halloran Linda Hickey Helen Fairbrother Production Manager Joanne Punch Ad Copy Elaine Harley Contributors Nicola Donnelly Design Minx Design ruth@minxdesign.ie

The Public Sector Magazine is an informative guide for Government, Civil, Public Sector and Semi State decision-makers. It is distributed to, amongst others, Government Ministers, Ministers of State, Dáil Members, Senators, Secretaries of Departments, Deputy Secretaries, Assistant Secretaries, Principal Officers, CEO’s of State and Semi-State Bodies, County Managers, County Councillors, Purchasing Officers, Press Officers, IT Managers and Training Officers, Doctors, Financial Institutions, Unions, Representitive Bodies, Embassies, Public and Private Partnerships and Political Commentators.

Alcohol addiction continues to pose a problem

Managing the HSE’s vast and varied workforce

INMO 100th Anniversary

A century of service to nurses and midwives

Spending Review

Seeking best value for taxpayers

News Round-up

News flashes from the public sector

19 Operation Transformation

Restoring hair loss

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Healthy Procurement

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Prudence has become the new watchword in HSE procurement

Bus is King

Dublin Bus - 139m passengers and counting

In the Line of Duty

Meet chief fire officer, Paul L’Estrange

Steady as She Sails

Traffic through Port of Cork sets new record

Leadership in Motion

Inland Fisheries Ireland: A ‘Leading Light’ on road safety

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Ocean Wealth

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Education Empowerment

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Part-time Learning

Harnessing the power of the sea Action plan for education 2019

Part-time programmes for Ireland’s public servants

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Brighter Futures

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Get Tech Savvy

A new era in higher education in Louth/Offaly SureSkills aims to boost computer literacy

The Centre for Innovative Human Systems (CIHS)

The Irish Tax Institute

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‘We are Cork’

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Why Louth?

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‘Make it Meath’ Campaign

Set to become the fastest growing city in Ireland

The ambitious growth plans of Circle VHA

122 Housing Delivery Partnerships

The allure of Louth

Driving inward investment in the region

Fingal County Council exceeds its social housing target

Clúid Housing partners with Carlow County Council

124 Limerick Rebuilds

Lowdown on Limerick’s rebuilding programme

127 Time for ‘Build’

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Invest in Mayo

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The X-Factor

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The Housing Challenge

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Construction News

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Radical Action Needed

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Property Bridges

Unlocking the property market

138 Clonmel Enterprise (CEL)

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All Roads Lead to Longford

143 The Test of Time

Make your mark in Mayo Secret to Savills success Reining in house prices

The latest news from the construction sector Housing policy scorecard

Center Parc’s first and only Irish resort set for Longford

‘Build’ performance and prospects for 2019

129 Pay Claim Pressures

Pay claim puts pressure on building costs

131 Built to Last

Structural integrity at the heart of Farrell Doyle

135 Labour shortage?

Hire more apprentices

137 Manning the Barricades

Dublin City Council seal the city You can count on CEL

Strong foundations to meet 21st century challenges

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Value by Design

144 A Decade of Delivery

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Synonymous with Sleep

148 More than a Pipedream

Bed down with Briody

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Kube Kitchens

150 Mount Lucas

C+W O’Brien Architects: Shaping Ireland’s architectural future

Creative design for a bigger kitchen

Following its 10th anniversary LMC Group looks ahead Local authorities team up with Wavin Building construction skills

102 Triumph in Adversity

152 In Safe Hands

107 Building a Housing Strategy

154 Follow the Crowd

A salutary lesson from Jan Van Dijk Architects

A tough task faces Minister Murphy

110 Creative Housing Solutions

Need security? Need Taskforce Security Management Connect to the natural gas network

156 What’s next?

Construction after Brexit

Mayo County Council’s progressive approach to social housing

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Public Sector Magazine

THE RUTL AND CENTRE

SEE BEYOND ADDICTION

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rutland PANTONE 220-1 CVS centre PANTONE 214-6 CVS

The people we help are typically in employment, self-employed or business owners. They are usually married or in relationships and living in a stable environment. So don’t let misconceptions about addiction stop you from seeking help if you need it. At the Rutland Centre we offer a safe, confidential treatment service. So if you, or someone you love, is living with addiction and needs help, call us today on (01) 494 6358 or email info@rutlandcentre.ie for more information.

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rutland centre

Outlined rutlandcentre.ie


Public Sector Magazine

Give Recovery a Voice Since opening its doors in 1978, the Rutland Centre has treated approximately 10,000 people, according to Chief Executive Maebh Mullany who says that alcohol addiction continues to pose a persistent problem in Irish society. The word ‘addiction’ is one that often has powerful, negative connotations. This can often lead to the stigmatisation of the hundreds and thousands of people, and their families, who are affected by addiction in Ireland today. Based in Knocklyon in South Dublin, the team at the Rutland Centre work tirelessly every year to help hundreds of people overcome the shame and isolation they may sometimes feel as a result of their addiction. Last year, in 2018, the Rutland Centre celebrated its 40th Birthday. Since it opened its doors in 1978, Maebh Mullany, the Rutland Centre’s Chief Executive, estimates that the Centre has treated approximately 10,000 people, not just from the immediate surrounds of Dublin but from all over the country. People from all backgrounds and professions present at the Rutland Centre every year for treatment for behavioural and substance addictions including: alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex and food. Alcohol is the leading addiction the Centre treats with over 90% of those who attend the Rutland Centre receiving treatment for alcohol addiction. Commenting on the changing trends over its 40 years in operation, Maebh said: “In the last 40 years alcohol addiction has remained a constant problem in our communities unfortunately. We have also seen, especially in the last 10 years, the growth in prevalence of other addictions and in particular gambling. In the early years, it was mainly men who were presenting for treatment. These days, we see men and women of all ages, often presenting with multiple addictions. The residential programme at the Rutland Centre is five weeks in duration and was founded on the TwelveStep programme. It has evolved over the years to become an integrative programme that draws on multiple clinical disciplines to meet the diverse needs of the Rutland Centre’s clientele. Addiction treatment at the Rutland Centre is focussed on the client or the person at the centre of the addiction. During a person’s time at the Rutland, the team of trained counsellors will work through the addictive process to address the underlying reasons for the addictive behaviour. It is paramount at the Rutland Centre to ensure that every person who attends for treatment feels respected and not judged. Dignity is extremely important in the recovery process. An excellent and highly qualified multi-disciplinary team of psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, addiction specialists and nurses work together in the Rutland Centre to develop bespoke recovery programmes for clients, including: n One-to-one counselling and group therapy n Personal time for reflection and reading n Relaxation, and recreation activities n Healthy eating n Lectures and therapeutic workshops

Art therapy Stress management Psychoeducational lectures Time for fellowship, allowing for personal sharing and understanding The team at the Rutland Centre are keen to stress that although the journey to recovery can be hard sometimes, it is possible and worth it in the end. To highlight this, some of the Centre’s former clients took part in its annual awareness raising campaign, Recovery Month in September last year (2018). Recovery Month aims to reach out to people and help them to understand that Recovery is possible and that there is no shame in seeking treatment. Commenting on her Recovery from alcohol addiction, Róisín Sheridan a former client of the Rutland Centre’s said: “I have no doubt my drinking was a form of self-medication. Eventually I reached a point where my drinking was seriously affecting my life to the point of paralysis. I didn’t want my life to be that way so I sought treatment. “The key factor in my Recovery was the support of my friends. It’s vital for people to have support and I would encourage family members to support their loved ones if they are genuinely remorseful and if it is possible to forgive. Recovery gave me freedom. I learnt to realise that reality wasn’t that bad, to accept myself and to ignore the judgement or perceived judgement of others. The words that best describe Recovery for me are courage, bravery, endurance, discipline and determination leading to joy, pleasure, awareness and a love of life.” n n n n

Treatment at the Rutland Centre is covered by all major health insurers. For further information visit www.rutlandcentre.ie or telephone: 01 494 6358.

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Public Sector Magazine

A Centenary of Service to Nurses and Midwives

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Irish Women Workers’ Union

The Irish Nurses Union

Irish Nurses Organisation 6

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Healthy Workforce Strategies Rosarii Mannion, National Director of Human Resources, Health Service Executive explains how her department promotes a positive work environment that helps ensure high satisfaction levels and a strong productivity record by the HSE’s vast and diverse workforce.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) provides all of Ireland’s public health services. It is the largest employer in the State with over 120,000 people providing health and social care services in hospitals and communities across the country. It is a privilege to work in the Irish health system with a talented and committed workforce and to have the opportunity to make a real difference to people’s lives. Our People Strategy – Leaders in People Services outlines our commitment as a public sector organisation to deliver professional human resource services. We are currently refreshing our Strategy and continuing our agenda of change and transformation in line with Sláintecare and the wider public service agenda. During the lifespan of our People Strategy 2015 – 2018 we focused on a number of key organisational priorities that will act as a solid foundation for our future developments: Leadership: Our Health Services Leadership Academy is established to lead, influence and develop leadership standards,

practices and succession management through a range of programmes delivered nationally and at local level. Staff Engagement: Our Health Sector National Staff Surveys, 2016 and 2018 and our staff engagement fora throughout the country have provided critical information to inform service improvements. Workforce Planning: We have focused on comprehensive workforce planning and the use of data and evidence to inform decision making and future scanning of needs. Performance: our Excellence Awards have showcased service initiatives, we have prioritised Coaching as a key development offering for staff; our Mentoring programmes have expanded, our National Investigations Unit is established. Staff Health and Wellbeing: Continues to be prioritised as we develop the range of supports available. Our focus on providing accessible assistance to staff through ‘help desks’ and advisory services is on-going.

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“Our workforce must be enabled by an increased focus on employee experience across the full lifecycle with an emphasis on wellbeing, work–life balance and increased opportunities for staff to be involved in decision making.” As we move into the next phase of development of the People Strategy 2019–2024, our ambition is to deliver the talent, capabilities and leadership that will enable the system to deliver better outcomes – safer, better healthcare for people living in our communities. We know the health and social care workforce is exceptional and resilient, with highly sought-after skills – we need to engage a newer generation and support existing staff to keep pace with current and future requirements. Our workforce must be enabled by an increased focus on employee experience across the full life cycle with an emphasis on wellbeing, work–life balance and increased opportunities for staff to be involved in decision making. As a service we are committed to reorienting our practices to focus on positive HR outcomes – I believe we can do this by attending to the following: Service: Focus primarily on the core purpose of our organisation and enable HR to take an ‘outside’ perspective – aligning our activity to what our service users/communities need as well as the needs of our staff, our partner organisations and other key stakeholders. People: Engage directly with people who are working in service delivery and address competencies/skills, engagement levels, diversity, health and wellbeing, trust and collaboration. We need to enhance the impact of employee voice on critical workplace issues. Integration: Align and integrate our HR activities with HR outcomes by taking a more joined-up approach to all of our interventions. We need to deliver more considered and focused solutions that are contextually relevant and timely – this will enable HR to be aligned and connected to the needs of our staff and service users. Creating Value: To be truly strategic, HR will create ‘new

value’ through our focus on talent, capability and leadership. This will enable the system to meet current and future demands and assess the impact of our performance. Our People Strategy 2019-2024 is focused on developing our people to lead change and deliver our core values. The key culture shifts needed, the type of workforce required and the changes to ways and models of working require a dynamic and contemporary HR response. We need to be ready to embrace flexibility in our work patterns, locations, contracts and ways of learning, with people moving through their work and careers to fit their personal needs. Understanding our people and improving our digital fluency are critical capability requirements for the future. We also recognise that within the health sector we need to connect and align our development efforts to lead and support people and culture change. People’s Needs Defining Change - Health Services Change Guide is the agreed organisational policy on change that offers a framework to align our offerings to the system (see diagram). If we are serious about placing ‘people’s needs at the centre of change’ we need to demonstrate this through our behaviour and relentlessly focus our efforts on listening to the people who use and who deliver our services. It is through this lens of ‘person-centred design’ that we can really make a difference and deliver value for the public. We must continue to actively ensure our People Strategy and associated HR and organisational policies are meeting their intended outcomes and work with colleagues to create a talent platform to ensure we have the right people, with the right skills, in the right place, and at the right time delivering safer better healthcare.

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A Voice for Nurses and Midwives INMO: A Century of Service to Nurses and Midwives

The INMO, this year, celebrates its 100th anniversary as the premier organisation representing the vast majority of nurses and midwives in the Republic of Ireland. Professional regulation and registration of nurses was first legislated for in Ireland in 1919 under the Nurses Registration (Ireland) Act. In that same year a small group of 20 nurses combined to sow the seeds for what has grown into the 40,000 strong Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation today. Then named The Irish Nurses Union, the first Secretary of the union was Marie Mortished. Today the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation is also led by a registered nurse, Phil Ni Sheaghdha, General Secretary. The organisation has always represented both nurses and midwives but the advent of direct entry to the midwifery profession led to the changing of the name to encompass midwives, thus INMO became the current iteration in 2008. Prior to that, midwives had to be nurses in the first instance and following further study and practice, become midwives. The history of the organisation demonstrates that

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nursing and midwifery have only progressed when nurses and midwives combined to put pressure on governments to recognise the value of the professions to society. The INMO has developed far beyond the original objectives of simply dealing with conditions of employment for nurses and midwives and as far back as 1938, has provided post-registration education for nurses and midwives. Indeed, the first such programme run by the then Irish Nurses Union was in the old Richmond Hospital, which the organisation now owns, and from which it runs, the Professional Development Centre providing a full range of postregistration education for members of the organisation. Patient advocacy has always been seen as a key function of the nurse and in the case of midwives advocating for mothers and babies. The INMO is a leading voice for patient advocacy in this country and on a daily basis, for almost two decades, has highlighted the scourge of long waits for patients in Emergency Departments for access to a hospital bed. Highlighting the problems of the health service and the difficulty for patients


Public Sector Magazine

has not always been popular but the organisation and its members have never flinched from making the case for the most vulnerable in our society. When the original 20 gathered, the world was in turmoil having just come through the First World War and Ireland was becoming increasingly revolutionary following the 1916 Uprising. Irish nurses working in English hospitals were paid substantially higher than in the voluntary hospitals in Ireland at the time. Many nurses who were married saw their husbands go to war and the economic necessity of getting a better salary for their labour was a reality of the time. That spirit of trade unionism and combining to improve their lot has been demonstrated in national campaigns but only twice in their 100-year history has the organisation had to resort to a full national strike of nurses and midwives. In 1980, when Charles Haughey was Minister for Health, nurses and midwives marched in what became known as the Big March protesting at the low level of their incomes at the time. The Minister for Health settled with the nurses and the media promptly labelled the professions of nursing and midwifery as “Charlie’s Angels”. Again, wage pressures in the 1990s saw a campaign running from 1994 which culminated in a national nurse and midwifery strike in 1999 and heralded the implementation of the Commission on Nursing Report which itself was the product of the dispute and was established to avoid a national dispute in 1996. It became the blueprint for nursing and midwifery into the 21st Century. Nursing and midwifery were severely impacted by the economic recession which saw the number of nursing and

midwifery posts in Ireland reduced by some 5,000 with a total embargo on the recruitment of nurses and midwives up to the end of 2013. This resulted in 20,000 nurses, midwives and newly qualified graduates leaving the country. That drop in numbers combined with the growing demand for health services and the inability of the Irish public health service to recruit and retain nurses and midwives brought the INMO to the second national strike in its 100-year history in 2019. The action involved three days over two weeks and ultimately brought the government to the negotiating table with a set of proposals which the organisation are optimistic will turn the tide in terms of the ability of the Irish public health service to recruit and retain sufficient numbers of nurses and midwives to provide safe healthcare for the population. The INMO represents the vast majority of nurses and midwives in the Irish public and private health sectors. It is the internationally recognised organisation and holds the presidency of both the International Council of Nurses and the European Federation of Nurses in 2019. The organisation, by providing a comprehensive education and professional development centre as well as workplace representation and legally qualified defence, aims to cater for the needs of nurses and midwives from their commencement as a student nurse or midwife for the rest of their days, including retirement. Irish Nurses and Midwives are the backbone of the public health service and the INMO provides a voice for them not only in their own interests, but also in the interests of the patients they serve. 2019 marks a century of good service to the professions.

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Working Together Working National Ambulance Ambulance Service Service National

The National Ambulance Service (NAS) responds to over 300,000 ambulance calls each year, employs over 1,800 staff across 100 locations and has a fleet of circa 500 vehicles. In conjunction with its partners, the NAS transports approximately 40,000 patients via an Intermediate Care Service, co-ordinates and dispatches more than 800 aero medical / air ambulance calls and completes 600 paediatric and neonatal transfers. NAS also supports community first responder schemes in conjunction with CFR Ireland. The mission of the NAS is to serve the needs of patients and the public as part of an integrated health system, through the provision of high quality, safe and patient-centred services. This care begins immediately at the time that an emergency call is received and continues through to the safe treatment, transportation and handover of the patient to the clinical team at the receiving hospital or ED. According to NAS Director, Martin Dunne, the service will move towards a more multi-dimensional urgent and emergency care provision model which is safe and of the highest quality. This is in accordance with international trends, the desire to implement the recommendations of the various reviews into the service and the ultimate aim of improving patient outcomes whilst ensuring appropriate and targeted care delivery. Delivering high levels of care is the priority at the National Ambulance Service College where all NAS emergency medical technicians, paramedics and advanced paramedics receive training and on-going revalidation. The college has the latest training aids and simulators which ensures comprehensive training in a consistent manner for all staff. It also trains call taking and dispatch staff for the NEOC. Training is further provided for the Irish coastguard, the defence forces, An Garda Síochåna, health care professionals and members of voluntary organisations. The range of courses includes patient care programmes, leadership courses, tutor development, major incident planning and preparation and driving. The college provides vocational and professional education and training to ambulance and associated personnel based on current best practice, to meet the strategic and operational needs of the National Ambulance Service and the Health Communities and Patients it serves.

www.facebook.com/NationalAmbulanceService

Building a Better Health Service Building a Better Health Service CARE COMPASSION TRUST LEARNING

twitter.com/AmbulanceNAS HSE National Ambulance Service Rivers Building, Tallaght, Dublin 24 D24XNP2 HSE National Ambulance Service T: 01 4631624/6 E: director.nas@hse.ie Rivers Building, Tallaght, Dublin 24 D24XNP2 T:W: 01 www.nationalambulanceservice.ie 4631624/6 E: director.nas@hse.ie


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Spending Review Spending Review for 2019 continues to build an evidence-based method to ensure Government is achieving best value for taxpayer’s money The Spending Review process undertaken by the Department of Public Expenditure & Reform, (which is now in its third year) facilitates a systematic examination of existing spending programmes across Government to assess their effectiveness in meeting policy objectives, and to identify scope for re-allocating funding to meet expenditure priorities. The current Spending Review runs from 2017 to 2019. To date, it has led to the publication of over 50 analytical papers across a diverse range of areas including, but not limited to, health, housing, education, employment supports, workforce planning, digitisation and enterprise supports. As the current process enters its final year, The Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD, has engaged an external academic to review the process. This review will assess whether the Spending Review process is achieving its objectives and where appropriate it will provide recommendations and actions on how the process can be improved for future rounds. There are a range of examples of where a Spending Review analysis has facilitated the re-prioritisation of expenditure. n In the Education sector, decisions taken as part of Budget 2019 will see the creation of a new ring-fenced funding line, the Human Capital Initiative, to be established within the National Training Fund (NTF). This will draw down €60 million per annum from the accumulated surplus, over the period 2020 – 2024. The Spending Review analysis, supported by the independent review of the NTF and the corresponding Department of Education and Skills NTF Review Implementation Plan, will ensure that this investment supports a co-ordinated Higher Education, and Further Education and Training response, in meeting the skill and education needs of the economy. n As part of the Spending Review, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform published two papers on policing. These related to the Efficiency and Control of Overtime Expenditure in An Garda Síochána and Policing Civilianisation in Ireland, focusing on lessons from international practice. These papers have directly informed

both the budgetary process for 2019 as well as the medium term policing reform agenda. n A number of papers have been published in the area of Employment Affairs and Social Protection in the Spending Reviews of 2017 and 2018. There have been significant outcomes in improving service provision and enhancing the knowledge base of the schemes analysed with regard to employment supports, disability, work incentives and staffing. Commenting on the process, Minister Donohoe said that: “The analysis and results produced within the Spending Review process provide my colleagues in Government and I, with a robust evidence-base on key expenditure issues. These papers inform discussions around Estimates proposals in the context of the Budget each year”. Given the Government’s objective to responsibly manage the public finances, the 2019 Spending Review will seek to build on the progress in the past two years by creating a larger stock of analysis and evaluation to support the Government in its resource-allocation decisions and underpinning efficiency and effectiveness across all areas of spending, with a greater focus upon outcomes and impacts. Ensuring that the Spending Reviews are more firmly embedded within the budgetary process, the review will also continue to provide the evidence base for reform efforts across Departments and the wider public service and spotlight areas of innovation and good practice, both in programme design and service delivery, that will be of wider interest and applicability. Minister Donohoe welcomed the valuable input to the broader discussion around public expenditure policy that the Spending Review facilitates, “not only by highlighting where we can make further incremental improvements but also by shining a light on areas where we are delivering, where our aims are being achieved and where taxpayers are getting value for money.”

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Public Sector News

In the News The latest news from Ireland’s public sector

Minister for Finance Minister, Paschal Donohoe

SURVEY SHOWS HIGH SATISFACTION

WIND ENERGY RECORDS The Irish Wind Energy Association has revealed that 2018 was the best year on record for wind production.

The resource met a record 29% of electricity demand – Europe’s second highest and the best in Europe for onshore wind. IWEA chief, Dr David Connolly said: “It is an Irish success story.”

200 GARDAÍ SWORN IN Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has welcomed 200 new Gardaí who were sworn in recently and urged them to help drive change in a speech following the ceremony. Mr Flanagan said: “It is reassuring that the Garda Síochána continues to attract, as it has since the foundation of the State, people of the highest calibre who are prepared to commit themselves to the service of citizens.”

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Finance Minister, Paschal Donohoe has welcomed the results of a recent survey of Civil Service Business Customers which sought to ascertain the level of satisfaction with services provided and general perceptions and attitudes towards the civil service. Similar surveys were undertaken in 2009 and 2016. The survey showed that 78% of business customers were satisfied with the service received while 82% were happy with the outcome of their most recent contact with the Civil Service (82%). The survey also highlights the way in which businesses interact with the Civil Service with, at 68%, online contact being the most common method of communication. “The results of the survey are very positive overall – reflecting both the commitment of civil servants to the provision of quality services and providing assurance as to a consistently high standard of service delivery,” the Minister said. “The results of the survey will also inform the continuous development of specific areas of customer engagement, so overall the survey shows us how Civil Service interaction with the business community will continue to evolve going forward. The increasing trend toward online delivery of services is of particular interest in this respect, as it shows the strong demand from the business community to continue to interact with the Civil Service through online methods.” The survey was undertaken by Perceptive Insight on behalf of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and interviews were undertaken with some 510 businesses nationwide:


Public Sector News

BREXIT BOUNCE

LITTLE FOR THE OLD

VOICES THAT MATTER People with mental health difficulties and their families are not receiving adequate support, according to a recent report which found that four out of every ten people who used a HSE mental health facility last year say they had a negative experience. Some 20% of people who used community services said they were not treated with dignity and respect. The My Voice Matters report also shows that two-thirds of family, friends and carers were not happy with the information and advice they received. Mental Health Reform’s Dr Shari McDaid said: “Everyone has the right to expect that when they go for mental health treatment that they are listened to.”

State expenditure on social welfare for the elderly in Ireland is the lowest in the EU, according to findings from Eurostat, which also took pensions into account. Eurostat found that spending for support of the elderly is just 3.4% of Ireland’s GDP while the average across the EU is almost three times higher at 10%. Even if accounted for as a percentage of the Government’s total expenditure, the amount devoted to social welfare for the elderly is still the lowest in the EU and accounts for 13% of all spending compared to an EU average of 22%. The report found that the share of social protection related to old age is highest in Greece and Finland which both spend 13.8% of GDP on expenditure related to old age. Meanwhile Ireland (3.4%), Lithuania (5.7%) and Cyprus (6%) recorded the lowest level of expenditure in this category.

IDA Ireland has claimed that over 5,000 jobs will be coming to Ireland as 70 companies have invested here since the Brexit referendum. Martin Shanahan, CEO of IDA Ireland, provided the new figures during a recent address at the Harvard Club in New York. “These updated figures are another reminder of how our European Union membership and stable pro-enterprise policies are appealing to investors who are looking for certainty,” said Mr Shanahan at a conference hosted by IrishCentral called ‘Understanding Brexit’. “For US companies with ambitions to be global players, Ireland is a natural fit for their international operations.” Dublin remains the most popular choice for financial services firms to relocate post-Brexit according to EY’s Brexit Tracker. To date in Ireland companies that have announced investments connected to Brexit include: Barclays, Morgan Stanley, TD Securities, Wasdell, Delphi /Aptiv, Simmons & Simmons, S&P Global, Thomson Reuters, Equilend and Coinbase, according to IDA Ireland.

PAY HIKES FOR PUBLIC SERVANTS A total of 60,000 public servants, including more than 16,000 teachers which were recruited since 2011 are in line for a salary hike of around €3,300. Last September, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe announced the commencement of pay restoration for Unions which had followed the pay agreements introduced following the financial crisis. The measure will cost the Exchequer €27m this year and a further €48m in 2020 when 78% of new entrants will receive pay increases. However, the deal has met with opposition from some unions who say it does not go far enough.

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Public Sector News

EXPORTS SOAR

‘PENSION APARTHEID’ Public servants are the biggest beneficiaries of the tax reliefs on pension contributions, according to a new report. This means that any move to reduce the tax reliefs will hit Government workers hardest and prompt them to seek higher pay. The paper by leading pension actuaries Tony Gilhawley and Roma Burke said there was a ‘pensions apartheid’ where the pension system discriminates between those working in the private and public sectors.

Exports soared to their highest level on record last year, increasing by 15% to €140bn. Figures from the CSO also showed imports reaching new heights, increasing by 14% to €90.2bn, compared with the previous year. The statistics also showed that exports to Britain fell last year while exports to the EU increased. The trade surplus for the year totalled €50.7bn, up 16.6% on the €43.4bn recorded in 2017.

STUDENTS CHOOSING STEM Over 73,000 students have applied this year for places on third-level courses via the Central Applications Office. Data published by the body which manages applications shows a rise in the number of students hoping to study degree courses in areas such as biology and related sciences and engineering. The data is provisional as the CAO is still accepting applications. There is a 13% rise in first preferences for courses in biology and related areas and an 11% rise in first preferences for engineering. Meanwhile first preferences for arts degrees have fallen by 6%.

INCOME INEQUALITY

NO-DEAL SHOCK A No-Deal Brexit could cause a recession in the UK that would spill out across the globe, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. The OECD said such a withdrawal was likely to cause a “major adverse shock in the EU and beyond. In its latest economic outlook, the think tank forecast that if a disorderly exit caused serious bottlenecks in integrated cross-border supply chains, it could lead to the twin threat of financial market disruption and plummeting confidence, which would heighten the global impact.

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INTERNET CHILD SAFETY LEADER Ireland’s first Internet child safety czar has been widely welcomed by politicians, community groups, charities as well as child welfare groups. Minister for Communications, Richard Bruton announced the creation of the new position recently and said the successful candidate will have the power to impose fines if social media giants do not comply with orders. Mr Bruton said: “The digital world also presents new risks which did not exist previously.”

The wealthiest people in Ireland receive a quarter of the country’s national income, according to recent figures published by TASC which reveals a huge gap between the rich and poor with a “disproportionate share of national income” going to the rich. The bottom 40% of the population receives just 22% of national income while the top 1% receives more than 5%. The author of the report, Dr Robert Sweeney said: “Where Ireland is unusual is in the low share of national income that goes to the working-to-lower middle classes. The top 10% does nicely and the top 1% in particular. “This suggests the problem for the struggling, and too often invisible, working groups is insufficient pay. “Ireland has a comparatively employer friendly labour market. For instance, collective bargaining coverage is low. As well as predisposing Ireland to having higher market inequality, this leads overall to higher levels of low pay.


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Public Sector Magazine

Operation Transformation Hair is considered one of the most defining aspects of human appearance so it is hardly surprising that hair loss can trigger serious emotional issues where sufferers experience acute anxiety about their looks. Hair disorder patients often find themselves tangled in a significant amount of emotional distress however it is important to remember that while hair loss can be distressing, it can be treated, especially with today’s advancements in hair loss treatment. Fortunately for patients with these conditions, taking the first step on the road to recovery and renewed self-esteem is as easy as a trip to MHR Clinic on Dublin’s Grafton Street. Medical hair restoration at its best, MHR clinic specialize in the FUE hair transplant method. Follicular unit extraction is a minimally invasive procedure where the follicle units are extracted one by one from the donor area at the back of the head, then re implanted into the thinning and balding areas at the correct angle and depth, direction with the implanter pen. This method has a quicker patient recovery time and significantly lower post-operative discomfort with down time after the procedure being as little as 4-6 days. New hairs grow gradually over a period of months and by the 10th month, newly implanted hairs will be fully grown. The real beauty of it is, they will never fall out. At MHR, only IMC Registered doctors work on all clients and the company have even made the procedure affordable. “Contrary to what most people think, they don’t have to remortgage their house to afford the procedure this is not the case at MHR,” explains Doctor Ioannis Marmagiolis. “We also offer PRP treatments which is an exciting non-surgical option for patients that require stimulation of hair growth for hair loss conditions, and the Vampire face lift using PRP.” While the clinic sees many celebrity clients (including some who travel specifically from across the pond) it has gained a large following for the more everyday therapies including the new Biofactors shampoo, conditioner and hair and scalp extracts exclusive to MHR. “A first line of defence against thinning hair, Biofactors is effective for both men and women; it is clinically tested to slow down your hair loss,” explains Dr Marmagiolis. MHR has recently introduced another innovation in the fight against hair loss with the introduction of Tricopigmentation. This is the process of replicating the appearance of shaven hair by introducing thousands of tiny pigment deposits into the upper dermis of the scalp. When placed by a skilled technician, recipients appear as if they have a full head of hair shaved to a very short length. When thousands of deposits are combined and blended with any remaining ‘real’ hair, the result is an incredibly

realistic simulation of a full head of shaved hair. “Essentially tricopigmentation is a temporary version of scalp micropigmentation, so those who Excellence in Business Awards 2018 choose the temporary option Medical Hair Restoration tend to re-apply Best Hair Restoration Clinic in Ireland the treatment again and again,” explains Dr Marmagiolis. “Temporary pigments used in tricopigmentation are designed to fade out after 12-24 months. It is non-invasive and offers exceptional guaranteed results when delivered by an experienced and well-trained technician.” Bad hair, like a bad outfit, can affect mood because it impacts how we see ourselves. The many options available at MHR Clinic are transformative both physically and mentally. It’s a question of maintenance and feeling good about yourself the good doctor says confidently. MHR are transforming lives and are worth winners of the Best Hair Restoration Clinic Award.

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Public Sector Magazine

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Public Sector Magazine

Healthy Procurement In an environment where prudence has become the new watchword, an effective approach to procurement is critical to the operation of large public organisations such as the HSE where good procurement policy provides an opportunity to maximise efficiency, lower costs and reduce risk The HSE accounts for more than 40% of the entire public procurement market and has a considerable impact on the public procurement process in Ireland and on the almost 20,000 companies which tender for public contracts every year. The HSE Procurement division, a team of 580 people responsible for the strategic sourcing, purchasing, storage and distribution of HSE goods and services is led by the Head of Procurement, John Swords, a thirty year veteran of the Irish health services. Appointed to head up the Procurement Division in 2012, just two years after it had first been established, Swords is responsible for the strategic operational development and management of all procurement related activity in the HSE. He has presided over a comprehensive reform agenda aimed at centralising procurement activities, streamlining processes, increasing productivity and efficiencies and driving down costs. Much of the pressure to drive down costs emanated from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, which was responding to pressure from the EU to significantly reduce health spending. During his tenure, Swords has implemented significant reforms and cost saving initiatives while striving to ensure that the ultimate priority of improving patient care is never compromised. He was instrumental in the implementation of a Single National Procurement Model for the HSE which has been a key enabler in achieving cost reduction, increased efficiencies and the adoption of streamlined standardised procurement processes to avoid duplication of effort. He was also responsible for implementing the 3-year Procurement Plan inclusive of sourcing and systems, which are key enablers in providing front line services to patients. The HSE procurement division has only been in existence for seven years and has had to cope with implementing an extremely challenging reform agenda while also building a new organisation in a difficult economic period during which employment numbers were reduced by 10%. Nonetheless, extensive progress has been achieved. HSE Procurement’s Logistics and Inventory Management (L&IM) function, which is responsible for purchase, storage and distribution of HSE goods and services, has been extensively remodelled. It now features an increased level of

stock management at point of use (POU) and the previously fragmented stores infrastructure has been consolidated into a National Distribution Centre in Tullamore which in turn distributes to nine hubs. A sophisticated, modern supply system has also been put in place. Efforts undertaken to maximise price harmonisation across the HSE have also yielded benefits in terms of optimising the efficiencies which can be achieved through a single procurement organisation and helping to create a level playing field and achieve the same price for the same product from suppliers in all areas. This provided a baseline for the achievement for best value for money in advance of rolling out national contracts. This process reaped immediate price reductions for the organisation, which was critical due to the challenging financial environment. It has also focussed on bringing a number of ‘common services’ together under Health Business Services (HBS) – with procurement sitting alongside estates, ICT, human resources and finance. While patient care is the ultimate priority, Swords also points to their responsibility to assist and support SMEs and other companies with which they engage. “It is important to recognise the role of innovation, and particularly indigenous SMEs, in promoting sustainable growth and improving efficiency and quality in the delivery of healthcare services,” he says. “We value our relationships with clients and we are committed to fair competition, prompt payment and social responsibility. We expect suppliers to maintain security of supply, consistent and favourable pricing, sales and marketing activity, to comply with all legal requirements, provide management information and act ethically.”

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Public Sector Magazine

Dublin Bus and cyclist safety Dublin Bus is the largest public transport provider in Ireland. In 2017, the company carried 139 million customers and this trend is expected to continue in 2019 with numbers projected to increase to 145 million customers by the end of the year. The company has a fleet of 1,018 low floor wheelchair accessible buses operating across 132 routes and shares the streets of the city with many vulnerable road users on a daily basis. According to Environmental, Health & Safety Manager James McHugh, the number of cyclists on the roads has increased significantly in recent years and this has presented new challenges for all road users, particularly given the distinct lack of segregated cycle lanes in many parts of the city. In 2016 over 12,000 cyclists crossed the canal cordon in the AM peak period. This represented an increase of 150% when compared with 2006 (Ref Canal Cordon Report 2016). 900 buses on average are sharing road space with cyclists during peak times. Mr. McHugh explains that while the company has always been extremely mindful of cyclist safety as an important element of its bus driver training programme, it is always keen to explore new and innovative methods to further improve driver awareness in relation to cyclists, but also to promote the importance of cyclist safety to a wider audience. “For this reason we commissioned a unique and engaging cyclist safety video, ‘The Urban Jungle’, which perfectly captures the important relationship between the cyclist and the bus. We liaised closely with a number of key stakeholders to develop the video, including the Road Safety Authority, Dublin City Council and Dublin Cycling Campaign.” Inspired by the esteemed broadcaster and naturalist David Attenborough, the video depicts an “Urban Jungle” where the bus and cyclist must co-exist as one. The video looks at the important safety considerations for bus drivers when sharing the road with cyclists, and puts a particular emphasis on the key scenarios that can potentially result in conflict. James explains; “The video now forms an integral part of continuous driver refresher training in the Dublin Bus Driver Training Centre. We also commissioned 30 second cut downs of the video so this could be shared to a wider audience on our social media platforms”. James also explains that Dublin Bus took the opportunity to engage directly with new and inexperienced cyclists by visiting a number of the larger third level colleges throughout the Greater Dublin Area. “The initiative afforded employees and students the opportunity to sit in the driver’s seat, watch the Dublin Bus driver training video and learn all about blind spots around buses. These visits continued through 2018 with fantastic feedback from all participants.” In December 2017 Dublin Bus was the recipient of a Road Safety Authority (RSA) ‘Leading Lights in Road Safety’ Award in the Public Sector Category for its commitment to promoting

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Dublin Bus Environmental, Health & Safety Manager James McHugh road safety within its organisation and for making a significant contribution to safer roads. Dublin Bus Chief Executive, Ray Coyne said “We are fully committed to protecting the safety of our employees, customers and those affected by our activities such as other road users. We want to ensure that all our drivers are more aware of cyclist behaviours and key scenarios that can potentially result in conflict and also increase the awareness of sharing road space safely across the general cycling population in a meaningful way”. For their sustained efforts and commitment to road and cycle safety, Dublin Bus is a worthy recipient of the Public Sector Magazine Excellence in Safety Standards award.


Public Sector Magazine

How to stay safe when sharing the road with buses 1. Buses turning left You should never attempt to pass a bus on the inside when the bus is intending to turn left. Always wait for the bus to make the turn before advancing. This is also important in the case of trucks and other large vehicles. 2. Buses turning right Do not attempt to pass a bus on the outside when the bus is attempting to make a right turn. 3. Traffic lights and junctions When stopped at traffic lights or junctions, always position yourself so that you’re in full view of the bus driver. It’s also a good idea to try and make eye contact with the driver. 4. Bus lanes As a cyclist, you can legally use the same lanes as buses, even where a parallel cycle track is provided. However, you should always be mindful of buses pulling into and out of bus stops. 5. Safety around bus stops Do not attempt to undertake a bus if the bus has already started pulling into a bus stop. Equally, do not attempt to overtake a bus on the outside if the bus has already started to move away from its stop. 6. Blind spots Bus drivers must constantly look out for pedestrians, motorists and their passengers as well as cyclists. Like all vehicles, buses have blind spots and the driver may not always be able to see you. These blind spots can be to the front, rear or sides of the bus. Always remember - If you can’t see the bus driver in his or her side mirror, then he or she can’t see you!

Help and Contact (01) 873 4222

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Public Sector Magazine

Tackling the Blaze Among the elite of Ireland’s frontline services, Irish firefighters risk life and limb to protect people from the destructive impact of fire and are held in particularly high esteem by the Irish public. Paul L’Estrange, Chief Fire Officer, Wexford County Council is one prominent figure leading the fight to modernise and improve Ireland’s fire safety culture. He talks to Public Sector Magazine.

Popular imagination tends to focus on the image of firefighters in action courageously confronting a potentially calamitous blaze. This is what is otherwise known as the ‘Operational Response’ side of their role, according to Paul L’Estrange, Chief Fire Officer, Wexford County Council and one of the country’s foremost authorities on fire safety. Wexford Fire Services is made up of three distinct sections, according to Mr L’Estrange. In addition to the operational side, there is also a fire safety remit and a major emergency management remit. The Operational Response side is made up of a full-time station officer together with 65 retained officers and firefighters situated in 5 stations across the county, including Wexford town, Bunclody, Gorey, Enniscorthy and New Ross. A Station Officer and Sub-Station Officer are also based in each station where they are responsible for twelve firefighters. There are also six full time Senior Fire Officers based in Wexford. While the fire safety section commands a lower profile, it is a critically important function in the overall mission to reduce incidences of fire and associated injuries and mortalities.

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Effective fire safety calls for boots on the ground and Senior Officers in Wexford Fire Service are routinely out inspecting existing buildings on foot of complaints and ensuring that high risk premises are under continuous review. To this end, Wexford Fire Service has earned considerable plaudits for developing a premises risk indexing methodology which has attracted national attention. The methodology clearly indicates higher risk premises and helps inform the priority premises which the Fire Service inspect to ensure that fire safety is maintained to optimum levels with the minimum resources available. It has resulted in extensive inspections being carried out in premises deemed to be vulnerable to fire and over the course of the last year, Wexford Fire Service has assessed fire safety standards in every nursing home in the county. Wexford Fire Services also pays close attention to premises which serve alcohol and examines liquor applications at hotels, pubs, restaurants and GAA clubs to ensure a minimum fire safe standard is in place. “For every new building or extension or material change of use that warrants it a fire safety certificate is


Public Sector Magazine

required under building control legislation and fire officers examine those certificate applications to ensure that the proposals for each particular building are correct,” explains Mr L’Estrange. In addition, the fire safety division is responsible for processing dangerous substance applications and it also operates a community fire safety program which entails checking for smoke alarms, arranging for chimneys to be cleaned and delivering fire safety talks in schools and businesses throughout the community. Finally, there is the major emergency management division which operates in accordance with the national framework and seeks to put all the structures and processes in place that are necessary to deal with natural disasters and events, such as Storm Emma and Storm Ophelia. Many of the modern fire brigade functions which are prevalent today were introduced as a result of the enactment of the Fire Services Act 1981 which followed the Stardust tragedy, in which 48 young people lost their lives when a blaze broke out at the Stardust nightclub in Artane, Dublin, in the early hours of 14 February 1981. According to Mr L’Estrange, the Act provided for a significantly more comprehensive fire safety regime. “Here in Wexford, we focus on trying to change the culture of our operation and the way we go about our business. The operational wing of our service now has a greater role in prevention and firefighters regularly undertake during performance inspections of pubs and nightclubs during night-time hours to check if exits are blocked and whether the alarm system is working adequately and the numbers present don’t go beyond permissible limits. “Firefighters have become very active in the community fire safety programme. They carry out smoke alarm surveys and install smoke alarms where required. They deliver fire safety talks within the community. The firefighter on the ground now plays a key role on the prevention side and that culture is something I have been trying to cultivate and promote over the last two to three years. We have made very substantial progress in this regard and I am very proud of the changes we have been able to implement. “We have a community fire safety plan that is cutting-edge. We are out cleaning chimneys for people in statistically high-risk areas of chimney fires. The level at which we engage firefighters to undertake during performance inspections and activities of this nature is not something I have seen anywhere else.” Mr L’Estrange is passionate about the importance of education and was instrumental in the introduction of the fire engineering degree at Dublin Institute of Technology. In June last year Wexford Fire Services also played a central role in the launch of a new fire engineering degree at Waterford Institute of

Technology (WIT). Aside from the degree course in DIT and another in Letterkenny, there have been no other fire engineering degrees in Ireland until now. “A lot of work went into it and it affords people the opportunity to educate themselves, whether they are private consultants or firefighters seeking to gain promotion within the service. It also increases competence levels throughout the service,” says L’Estrange. “We also run the national fire safety workshop which trains fire safety officers across the country in conjunction with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and we are currently in consultation with the National Building Control Office (NBCO) and WIT to develop a Masters Degree in Building Control. Firefighters make a strong commitment and devote 200 hours per year towards training and upskilling and they may have individual modular training on top of that. The training management system is something that offers an opportunity for improvement and we are working to accredit it to an ISO standard.” Some people are fortunate to be able to pursue the profession they appear to have been born to do and Mr L’Estrange’s family are steeped in the fire service industry. Both his father and uncle were third officers in Dublin Fire Brigade. He also has a brother who served as a firefighter in the North Strand and Finglas. Before transferring to Wexford, Mr L’Estrange spent almost a decade working for the fire service in the North Dublin suburb of Finglas. “There is a family history there. It is a vocation and I have a belief in improving public safety. I feel there is much more we can do. We need to continue to change outdated practices. For example, if there is an incident in the north of the county close to the Wicklow border then the fire brigade in Wicklow is likely to be closer to the incident and in a position to respond more rapidly than the fire service based out of Gorey, clearly that is what ought to happen. We are systematically going about changing those predetermined attendance policies. It is a difficult project to undertake but it is the right thing to do. The nearest response unit should arrive first no matter what county they are located in.” Last year, Wexford Fire Service responded to 1121 fire related incidents, up from 932 in 2017. The increase is largely attributable to weather events such as Storm Emma which increased the number of fire emergencies by approximately 50. The majority of the other incidences occurred during the warm summer months. The introduction of the incident command system at Wexford Fire Service has been one of the most significant initiatives undertaken in recent years. The system provides

“There is no

doubt there is

a special regard

for firefighters. They are held in high esteem by

the public and so they should be.

It requires a very

deep commitment. They are on call

24/7, 365 days a year. The commitment these men and

women give to

the community is phenomenal.”

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Public Sector Magazine

a dynamic risk assessment of any given incident to indicate the appropriate response and helps ensure a safer working environment for firefighters. Wexford Fire Service has also developed and introduced standard of operating guidelines (SOG’s) which advises junior and senior officers on how to deal with particular types of incidents. “They are the big differences and they have dramatically improved the safety environment for our personnel,” says L’Estrange. “We have also significantly increased the amount of training throughout the service and we try to diversify the type of exercises we take in order to mitigate against the reduced real live experience which fire-fighters are getting because of the fact that the number of calls has been in decline in recent years. “Training and upskilling are critically important. We have engaged with a simulation program in Clonmel which hosts a 2-day training course which both our junior and senior officers attend together with their peers in the industry. They simulate incidents and discuss optimal responses and best practice. It helps to create a standardised and consistent approach throughout the service and is part of an innovative and technological approach which we have put in place in recent years.” A further community fire safety strategy rolled out by Wexford Fire Service last year seeks to engage schools and young people as well as individual households and promote the importance of fire safety. “We have a full and complete primary skills programme where we go out and educate secondary level students in schools within the county,” says Mr L’Estrange. “We encourage students to survey their own cohort and to establish smoke alarms in their homes and schools at a very high level. At present smoke alarms are fitted in 90% of private dwellings and we want to increase this to 95% during the 5-year term of the programme. As part of that we are surveying local areas and sending in firefighters to fit smoke alarms where they are required. “We also have a comprehensive chimney sweep initiative and we have examined the statistics relating to chimney incidences over the last 5 years in order to pinpoint housing estates within the county that have a higher than average rate of chimney fires. We liaise with the housing section on this

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programme and last year we cleaned 200 chimneys at a cost of €10000. We intend to do the same this year with a view to driving down the number of chimney fires, which is obviously very beneficial from a public safety perspective.” Hardly surprising then that Wexford Fire Services has won a host of prominent national awards including NISO awards in each of the last three years. Mr L’Estrange took particular satisfaction in winning the overall ‘Best Public Service Award’ at the NISO awards last year. Citing the team effort required, He also pays tribute to Senior Assistant Chief Fire Officer, John Maher who he says was instrumental in the work required to receive OHSAS 18001 accreditation and in the success achieved at the NISO awards. “We were particularly pleased to receive the ‘Best Public Service Award’ because it’s important for people to understand that the fire authority is part of the local authority. We are a service provider under the local authority banner and we provide value from a public perspective. It also helps to highlight and promote our service and push the importance of fire safety to the top of the agenda. “World events such as Grenfell have pushed fire safety to the top of people’s radar. People are taking it more seriously and they do engage. It is very rare for us to encounter an individual or group that proved to be difficult in any regard. I feel very positive about the whole thing. The public really get us and they understand we are here to help and give guidance. “There is no doubt there is a special regard for firefighters. They are held in high esteem by the public and so they should be. It requires a very deep commitment. They are on call 24/7, 365 days a year. The commitment these men and women give to the community is phenomenal. They dedicate their lives to public safety.”


Public Sector Magazine

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Public Sector Magazine

Ship To Shore Last year traffic through the Port of Cork set new records. The number of cruise ships visiting almost doubled and an €80m investment in a new terminal was also announced. It’s little wonder that Brendan Keating is looking to the future with optimism and not even the prospect of a hard Brexit can dent his confidence.

Brendan Keating, CEO, Port of Cork is a man whose attention is resolutely focussed on the future but he can nonetheless look back on 2018 with considerable satisfaction. Traffic volumes through the Port of Cork surpassed all previous records while the announcement last June of an €80 million investment in a new container terminal at the port will drive further growth and help secure Cork as an international gateway for trade. According to Keating, throughput at both the Port of Cork and Bantry Bay Port Company reached 10.7 million tonnes last year, an increase of 3% on the traffic recorded in 2017. Total imports increased by 8% while exports increased by 5%. “That is a record-breaking figure and we also achieved strong growth in container traffic with volumes through both Tivoli and Ringaskiddy Container Terminals up by 6% compared to 2017 figures, with a total of 229,762 TEU’s handled,” he says. “Equally, we host the country’s only oil refinery at

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Whitegate and oil traffic handled through the refinery saw an increase of 4%. “Last year was also the most significant cruise season ever for the Port of Cork with 95 cruise ships and over 157,000 passengers visiting.” Perhaps most striking was the 39% increase recorded in agri-food imports and Keating believes this growth will serve to significantly boost output in the region and help underpin Ireland’s status as a major food-exporting nation. The food and beverage trade in Cork is underpinned by the presence of some of the world’s most eminent distillers and global brewers as well as some of the world’s leading dairy producers. Pharmaceuticals are also a key component of the Port of Cork’s business and many of world’s leading pharma companies have operations in the region. Adding to the prevailing mood of optimism is the new €80 million container terminal currently under construction in


Public Sector Magazine

Ringaskiddy, which is due to open next for an ever-increasing proportion of the year. The terminal will cater for larger Port of Cork’s overall business. Last year container ships which are currently 95 cruise liners docked at the Port of Cork accommodated at Tivoli and will initially while a further 10 cruise liners visited the offer a 360m-length quay with a 13m Port at Bantry Bay. “Last year was the most depth. The development also entails significant cruise season ever for the Port construction of a 13.5-hectare terminal of Cork with over 157,000 passengers and and associated buildings as well as two 69,000 crews stepping ashore last summer,” ship-to-shore gantry cranes and container says Keating. handling equipment. “This year we are anticipating 102 In addition the Port of Cork is providing calls and we expect to bring over 200,000 a public marine leisure amenity at Paddy’s visitors to the region in 2019. If you go Point as well as €1 million community back to the summer of 2017, we received gain fund for the Ringaskiddy area for the just 58 calls so we have been able to grow development of an enhanced public realm that side of the business very successfully scheme to support the local community. in recent years. The average spend is According to Keating, the new about €81 per person which we calculate is terminal represents the single most worth about €12m to the Irish economy. significant investment in marine “You could have a ship that carries Brendan Keating, CEO, Port of Cork infrastructure at the Port of Cork and will 5000 to 6000 passengers and crew which provide significant economic dividends docks in Cobh at 7.30am during the for Cork and the wider region. summer months. Thousands of people “With that greater depth of water, disembark with some visiting the town we have the capability of handling much of Cobh and others taking bus tours larger vessels which increasingly represent to Blarney and Killarney or Cashel in the future of shipping,” says Keating. Tipperary. Some passengers take a train “For instance, we have a 5000 TEU vessel directly into Cork City. So, the cruise coming into us at the moment from sector provides a valuable economic boost Central America. Our business is growing to the region.” and we need to be able to accommodate In order to grow the business, that growth and instil confidence among Keating focussed on establishing strong our customers that we have the capacity partnership with leading tour operators. to accommodate these larger ships and the His team also work closely with tourism increased levels of trade. This facility will attractions in Cork and beyond while help us to do that.” promoting them in a targeted manner to Shipping is an intensely competitive key executives at the major cruise lines, industry with shipping lines vying for based predominantly in the US, chiefly custom and a multitude of ports striving in cities such as Miami, Los Angeles and to attract shipping lines to their terminals. Seattle. There are also a number of major In order to thrive and prosper, Keating operators located in the UK. says that international ports have to “The cruise lines sell local itineraries consistently demonstrate their ability to so it is important to have a strong array of facilitate the uninterrupted passage of desirable attractions,” says Keating. “The freight in a seamless and efficient manner. magnificent harbour at Cobh is an attraction in its own right and “There is competition across a whole range of issues, for a cruise ship coming into Cobh, it is a memorable experience everything from scheduling to pricing, slot availability and by comparison with docking at some of the major industrial ports the consolidation of arrangements with existing customers. It which they visit.” is multidimensional and there is a whole gamut of issues to be Cork’s profile has risen significantly in recent years, not least considered. However, a particularly critical component of any due to a series of glowing reports in some of the world’s leading port is its ability to handle the cargo speedily and achieve rapid travel journals. Surveys report a high degree of satisfaction ship turn-around time,” says Keating. among visitors with the region’s natural amenities proving Currently the Port of Cork is focussed on consolidating especially popular. Keating also applauds the local authorities existing markets, which consist primarily of short sea-shipping and tourism representatives working to promote the area. routes out of ports such as Rotterdam and Antwerp, where the “It is not as difficult to sell Cork as it was ten years ago and ships being used are also getting significantly larger. Once the there is a much wider recognition of the Cork brand globally,” new terminal comes on stream, the Port will explore further he says. “In order to successfully promote a city, it requires hard options in terms of pursuing new shipping lines and will likely work and boots on the ground. I applaud the work of Cork City examine the feasibility of initiating new transatlantic routes. and Cork County Council, their efforts to promote and enhance Meanwhile the cruise business is also thriving and accounts the reputation of Cork globally in recent years is paying rich

“The Port of Cork stands ready to

support ports on the east coast in circumstances

where there are

major hold-ups due to an increased

regulatory regime arising from a hard Brexit.”

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Public Sector Magazine

“In order to successfully promote a city, it requires hard work and boots on the ground. I applaud the work of Cork City and Cork County Council, their efforts to promote and enhance the reputation of Cork globally in recent years is paying rich dividends now.” dividends now. There is incredible work being done in West Cork and in towns like Kinsale, Clonakilty and Bantry. All these places have been putting their best foot forward and they are now being rewarded by a surge in the number of visitors to their town.” While acknowledging the potential repercussions of Brexit, Keating remains confident that the Port of Cork will continue to expand and develop its cruise business. It is targeting between 150 and 160 calls per annum by 2025 and a second cruise berth will likely be required to facilitate that volume. Options are currently being explored together with Cork County Council and third party investors. This year the cruise liner season will be ushered in with the arrival of Astoria on April 1 and will conclude with the departure of Marco Polo on December 20. Also due to visit in the coming season are the Crown Princess, Norwegian Pearl, Celebrity Reflection, MSC Orchestra, and Brilliance of the Seas. With no direct roll on roll-off services linking Cork with the UK, Keating is not unduly concerned about any immediate adverse impact in relation to clearance of vessels and potential delays in the event of a hard Brexit. However, he says that the Port of Cork stands ready to support ports on the east coast in circumstances where there are major hold-ups due to an increased regulatory regime arising from a hard Brexit. Last May the Port of Cork also increased connectivity to mainland Europe with the launch of a new RoPax Cork Santander ferry route which operates twice weekly. Brittany

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Ferries, which operates the route, has reported a steady increase in the number of freight units using the service, with hauliers choosing this route to avoid the UK land bridge option. As a small island trading nation, Ireland’s ports are fundamental to its prosperity and connectivity with the wider world. Their importance is keenly appreciated by Keating. “A ship coming into the harbour should be looked at as a transport link which supports jobs and economic activity,” he says. “It is fundamental to the success of the Irish economy. We are a country highly dependent upon trade and the only effective way of getting cargo on and off the island is by shipping. Shipping and ports go hand in glove.”


Inland Fisheries Ireland: Guidance around instream works to be addressed for a period of time until the arrival of the appropriate season for in-stream construction works in certain surface waters.

Inland Fisheries Ireland, the statutory authority responsible for the conservation, protection and development of the inland fisheries and sea angling resource, has issued information around instream works. Parties intending to undertake such works are invited to get in touch with Inland Fisheries Ireland for more guidance and support. Timing of instream works Inland Fisheries Ireland works with Government Departments, State Agencies, Local Authorities, groups and individuals in relation to the issue of surface waters maintenance and channel conveyance throughout Ireland. Fisheries legislation prevents in-stream works (i.e. works in water) during certain sensitive periods annually which primarily relate to sh spawning activity. There are signi cant variations in the timing and duration of salmon and trout spawning activity throughout the Republic of Ireland. To minimise adverse impacts on the sheries resource, works in all watercourses should (except in the exceptional circumstances) be carried out during the period 1st of July to 30th of September of any year. In order to avoid unnecessary delays and to assist in works planning, Inland Fisheries Ireland would like to remind all interested parties that programmed works in-stream need to be fully completed by the 30th of September. This advice is in the context of Inland Fisheries Ireland’s legislative responsibilities – there are other agencies where sanction or approval

may be required for this type of work e.g. Local Authorities, Of ce of Public Works, National Parks and Wildlife Service etc. Any works that are required and approved by relevant authorities to alleviate the risk of ooding over the winter months should also be completed in advance of 30th of September.

Exceptional emergency circumstances Following the September deadline, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment gives permission for ‘out of season’ in-stream works by local authorities in exceptional emergency circumstances. These circumstances include ooding, landslide and subsidence (as de ned by the Local Authorities Act 1949) and any work will be subject to conditions as outlined by the Department. In this instance it must be shown that the relevant Local Authority is taking all precaution and provisions for the protection of sheries. This does not include major (multi-annual) planned drainage schemes but does include emergency works for the immediate alleviation of ooding. It allows an issue

It is the duty of those proposing the work to establish their responsibilities, under all appropriate legislation, when considering any in-stream work. Contact should be made with Inland Fisheries Ireland at the earliest possible stage in the planning and design process where works in and in the environs of water are planned.

Get in touch! Further information and guidance is available from local Inland Fisheries Ireland of ces: Western River Basin District: Inland Fisheries Ireland Ballina/Galway E: ballina@ sheriesireland.ie T: +353 (0)96 22788 E: galway@ sheriesireland.ie T: +353 (0)91 563 118 North Western River Basin District: Inland Fisheries Ireland Ballyshannon E: ballyshannon@ sheriesireland.ie T: +353 (0)71 985 1435 South Eastern River Basin District: Inland Fisheries Ireland Clonmel E: clonmel@ sheriesireland.ie T: +353 (0)52 618 0055 Eastern River Basin District: Inland Fisheries Ireland Dublin E: dublin@ sheriesireland.ie T: +353 (0)1 884 2693 South Western River Basin District: Inland Fisheries Ireland Macroom E: macroom@ sheriesireland.ie T: +353 (0) 26 41222 Shannon River Basin District: Inland Fisheries Ireland Limerick E: limerick@ sheriesireland.ie T: +353 (0)61 300 238 To nd out more about Inland Fisheries Ireland, visit www. sheriesireland.ie.


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Leadership in Motion Inland Fisheries Ireland a ‘Leading Light’ on road safety in public sector

From L-R Michael Burke, Logistics Manager, Dr Ciaran Byrne, CEO Pat Doherty, Head of Finance and Logistics

Staff from Inland Fisheries Ireland have been recognised for two separate road safety and fleet awards recently. The Road Safety Authority of Ireland (RSA) has recognised Inland Fisheries Ireland’s Logistics Manager, Michael Burke, with a ‘Leading Light Award’ for road safety in the public sector while the Freight Transport Association of Ireland has awarded Inland Fisheries Ireland with a ‘Van Safe’ accreditation. The awards follow a significant review of the organisation’s fleet and transport requirements across the country over the past year. Inland Fisheries Ireland has over 300 staff with many using vehicles to allow them to carry out their many diverse duties from protection, environmental and research work to project development and delivery alongside promotional and marketing activities, all of which can take place in rural and peripheral locations. Ireland has 5,600km of coastline, 70,000km of rivers and streams and 144,000 hectares of lakes and ponds and Inland Fisheries Ireland covers all of this under its remit. The organisation’s fleet consists of 200 vehicles including cars, carvans, SUVs, panelled vans, 4x4 jeeps and trucks in addition to on-water vehicles. The ‘Leading Light in Road Safety’ Award was presented

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by the RSA to Logistics Manager, Michael Burke at a recent ceremony. The RSA received over 100 nominations for the ‘Leading Light in Road Safety’ Award from all over Ireland for individuals, schools, businesses, community groups, colleges and organisations who have worked tirelessly in 2018 to promote road safety and save lives. Michael Burke, who manages the organisation’s fleet, was recognised in the Public Sector Category. The organisation also received a ‘Van Safe’ accreditation from the Freight Transport Association which distinguishes those operating a van fleet at the highest level of industry best practice, compliance and safety. Over the past year, Inland Fisheries Ireland has made a number of improvements in how it manages its fleet from a safety and efficiency perspective. The organisation has introduced a driver manual for staff, rolled out driver safety training, implemented a Fleet Management System, retired vehicles from operational use which were not fit for purpose and is currently providing new vehicles which are energy efficient. It has also brought in an electronic system of recording vehicle activity by means of a vehicle daily check and defect-reporting phone App coupled with replacement of a vehicle register booklet with vehicle telematics and electronic driver I.D. system.


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Michael Burke, Logistics Manager

As a result of all the changes needed to improve the fleet, a Fleet Consultative Group was established with staff representatives from different sectors and grades within the organisation. The group became the forum for trying to work out issues and allows for engagement with staff throughout the process. Dr Ciaran Byrne, CEO of Inland Fisheries Ireland says communications and consultation with staff were key elements of this process. “The Fleet Consultative Group was set up to allow for engagement and communication with staff representatives, to help us understand what staff were going to find challenging about the new fleet management activities and to get their insights and expertise into how we can improve the fleet at a local level. We also wanted to help them understand why we need to do this in the first place which is to ensure our staff are safe and that our fleet is compliant from safety and efficiency perspectives. “Our staff work day and night in the field, protecting and managing the fisheries resource. Driving is naturally a key component which allows them to reach the river or shore, wherever they need to be for a patrol, an environmental inspection, a local angling project meeting, promotional activity or research work. It is vital that we support them and ensure the right measures are in place to allow them to travel in a safe manner.

“Driving is naturally a key component which allows our staff to reach the river or shore, wherever they need to be for a patrol, an environmental inspection, a local angling project meeting, promotional activity or research work. It is vital that we support them and ensure the right measures are in place to allow them to travel in a safe manner” the Public Sector Magazine

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“We had to look at our exposure and risk to all the relevant road safety legislation. We looked at how and where we were using our fleet in the first instance and our staff needed to be informed in order for us to move forward. That was the foundation upon which we started. We then moved into the operational capability of the fleet, having the right number and type of vehicles and using them optimally.” Michael Burke, Logistics Manager at Inland Fisheries Ireland was appointed to the role in January 2017 and brought 30 years of fleet management experience with him. Burke has made swift progress in two years after taking on what was effectively a ‘greenfield site’ in terms of fleet management at the state agency. Burke is keen to point out that safety is the number one driver, coupled with the importance of being energy efficient: “We want our staff to come into work safely, to drive around safely, and then go home safely. That is our priority. As an environmental agency, we also want to operate in a manner which is energy efficient and we are keen to reduce our carbon emissions as soon as possible. With the recent improvements made in our fleet and on-going compliance of our staff, we hope to improve our performance in this regard over the next 12 months. These awards recognise the work which has been done by the organisation to date and I also hope they also act as a catalyst to ensure continued success on both the safety and efficiency front.” As a result of the latest improvements, Inland Fisheries Ireland is seeking to achieve a 24 per cent reduction in the Co2 emissions from its fleet, contributing towards its target of reducing emissions by 33 per cent by 2020. The organisation plans to introduce four new energy efficient electric vehicles in 2019 on a pilot basis with a view to continuing the progress

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made in decreasing its carbon footprint. It will also look to further manage vehicle utilisation to ensure the fleet is being used in the most efficient and appropriate manner. CEO Dr Ciaran Byrne says that there is an urgent need for Inland Fisheries Ireland, along with other public sector bodies, to reduce their carbon footprint: “At a global level, we only have 12 years to make the significant changes needed to save the planet from the effects of global warming. So in terms of our fleet and indeed every other area of our business, there is a very real reason for the changes we are making and there are serious consequences if we don’t adjust and operate in a ‘green’ manner. Our fleet is our biggest consumer of energy. We can really make a difference by replacing our old ‘out of policy’ vehicles with new low emission vehicles. “I would like to acknowledge the efforts of our staff who continue to move forward with us – they have engaged on safety training, adapted to our new fleet management system and are working to ensure our fleet is up to a professional standard and is utilised in the most efficient manner. I would also like to congratulate our Logistics Manager Michael Burke and the team who have managed this process which ultimately allows us to continue carrying out our duties as custodians of the fisheries resource.” For more information about Inland Fisheries Ireland, visit www.fisheriesireland.ie


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the Blue Economy The profile of the ocean economy has soared in recent years and the Government has set ambitious targets for the sector. Peter Heffernan, CEO, Marine Institute discusses the potential of the marine sector and Ireland’s ambition to be a worldleader in the field.

There are few areas of the economy as truly multi-sectoral as the maritime industry or ocean economy. Identified as a sector with high growth potential, the maritime industry encompasses very strong traditional sectors such as shipping, transport of ocean freight seafood and wild fisheries as well as agriculture, oil and gas and a vibrant tourism and leisure sector. In addition, there is a significant marine component in the emerging field of biotech and tidal resources as well as wind and wave which are increasingly replacing the use of fossil fuels for power generation. Such is the diversity of the sector that Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute, Ireland’s national agency for marine research, development and innovation says it is not unusual for marine ocean policy briefs to be spread a across as many as ten departmental portfolios. Indeed, the need to develop a matrix mechanism for policy evolution and implementation across all marine sectors was a principal rationale for the marine coordination group mechanism which was established almost ten years ago. One of the key accomplishments of the group was to establish for the first time an integrated plan for the marine industry in Ireland which was launched in 2012. Entitled ‘Harnessing our Ocean Wealth’ the report scanned every sector from a base figure of €3.2 billion turnover (based on 2007 figures) and set a target of growing the ocean economy to over €6.4bn by 2020 and doubling the total value of our ocean wealth to 2.4% of GDP by 2030. In 1975 a seminal report by Fergus Cahill and Eoin Sweeney called ‘Ireland, Science and the Sea’ was published by the National Science Council. Widely regarded as the State’s first vital marine research strategy report, it documented the vast unrealised potential of the ocean economy and also envisaged the creation of an institute to represent and promote this emerging and increasingly influential industry.

“It was the first time since the foundation of the state that anyone had set out a vision for the marine economy and it envisaged an entity similar to the Marine Institute, working on its behalf,” says Heffernan. “They were very far-sighted. They anticipated many of the sectoral opportunities of that time and some of the seminal developments which have since occurred. In many ways, the report served to highlight the serious neglect of our maritime domain over 70 years.” There are 230 staff employed at the Marine Institute, made up of a core staff of 140 people and a further 90 personnel employed through externally funded mechanisms. One of the chief roles of the Institute is to provide scientific advice and services to government, primarily the Department of Agriculture and Food and the Marine but also the Departments of Transport, Housing and Environment. “We undertake, coordinate, promote and fund marine research and innovation and we are the key science advisor across all maritime activities,” says Heffernan. “We are responsible for fisheries, monitoring and seafood safety, all of which are critical to market access. “A growing portion of our activities relates to environmental issues such as forecasting ocean and climate change and we are focusing every effort to expand our capacities and our investment levels in this area. We have received welcome support from government in expanding the observational infrastructure for offshore Ireland and there is also encouraging news in relation to a new multi-purpose research vessel which is on track to be in place for 2022.” The Marine Institute is also a key player developing a national strategy for the Marine Research Foundation which reaches across 14 different BEAM areas. In addition, it is centrally involved in the overall government integrated marine plan and provides assistance towards economic

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Peter Heffernan, CEO, Marine Institute activities in the marine sector, where appropriate. For instance, it operates the Irish maritime development office which focuses on shipping and development. In terms of meeting the ambitious targets set out in ‘Harvesting our Ocean Wealth’, Heffernan sees considerable opportunities for further growth in traditional sectors while emerging industries, driven by technology and new innovation, also offer strong potential. He believes Ireland has a particularly unique opportunity in ocean renewable energy development across both tidal and wind, particularly floating optional wind and wave energy. Ireland’s potential is underpinned by a strong integrated research and development test and demonstration infrastructure which encompasses SFI, the centre of excellence at UCC, the core skills test site and observation cable observatory in Galway bay and a grid connected energy test site off Belmullet. “Ireland has the potential to be energy independent, totally green and a net energy exporter given the scale of the offshore potential we possess,” he states. The profile of the maritime economy has enjoyed a remarkable renaissance and it has been identified as a priority area by Government. “The focus on the marine activity sector has multiplied, particularly in recent years,” says Heffernan. “I think the economic crisis was a factor. It caused us to look at areas of unrealised potential and there is now a far greater appetite for exploring our substantial marine potential. “We have grown very rapidly in terms of capacity and infrastructure and we now have two world class-research vessels as well as a leading research infrastructure facility centre based in the Institute itself. We also have excellent connections with our leading universities and there are a wide range of courses as well as joint research programmes, co-operative ventures and other activities relating to the ocean economy. “It was a privilege for the Institute to be asked to play a pivotal role in supporting the development of the marine plan with all of the government departments. We are privileged to have been front and centre since its inception. I believe it to be one of the most advanced policy mechanisms in Europe in the marine arena and I think it will serve the country well in the future. “The scale and diversity of opportunities which exist and which Ireland should work hard to achieve will help underpin a lot of our future sustainability. It will take dedicated effort to achieve this but I believe that foundation is there and I am very optimistic about the future.”

Ireland also leads the world in funding and executing sophisticated mapping of our vast offshore territory, a project which is funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment. The Marine Institute is a partner with the geological survey of Ireland in the execution of that survey and has regularly been cited as a world-leader for its skilful management and execution of a complex and difficult endeavour. The project was maintained throughout the economic crisis and remains on course to position Ireland as the first nation on the planet to have marked its entire offshore territory on a digital basis by 2026. In addition to the economic and sustainability objectives outlined in the integrated marine plan, it also called for increased public engagement and greater efforts to promote awareness of the industry and its potential to a wider audience. The response was the establishment of SeaFest, Ireland’s largest and most spectacular maritime festival, which has been held in Galway for the past three years, and has quickly become one of the most popular events in the country. SeaFest has grown in attendance each year, with the festival attracting more than 100,000 visitors in 2017 and again in 2018. SeaFest has exceeded all expectations and confirmed the deep attachment which the Irish public feel towards the sea and its many divergent activities. It is set to transfer to Cork this year and will dock in Cork for the next three years. “It was important to engage the Irish public and we wanted to do it right and do it in a balanced way and in a manner which engages and provokes a greater understanding of the industry,” says Heffernan. “It is a very family friendly event and there is a great diversity of events. There is wonderful infrastructure between the naval vessels and the research and fishing vessels and it’s a wonderful opportunity for the public to be active in the water. “Galway has also been a great city in which to host the event. The locals have welcomed it with open arms, the seafood is great quality and the exhibits are world class.” Another event which captured public imagination was the recent discovery of a rare shark nursery in deep waters off the West of Ireland, a discovery unearthed as a result of the extensive seabed mapping taking place. “That was a real encapsulation of a worldclass discovery that has travelled the world over,” says Heffernan. “It was led and operated by Irish marine science infrastructure and its primary mission was surveying very extensive deep-water coral reefs in different geographical areas. It involved terrain 100 km offshore from the southwest, through the Midwest through to the northwest, so we could survey both sides of our national infrastructure from our ship, the National Explorer and on the onland submarine, Holland. “It is fantastic work and it discovered on film for the first time a very significant shark nursery 700 metres deep. It was a story that captured the imagination worldwide and there is a lot more of that to come. The story is only starting.” Otherwise, Brexit and particularly the prospect of a hard exit is causing concern and the Marine Institute is supporting government and working closely with the Department of Transport in its preparatory planning across the spectrum and exploring possible land and bridge scenario options. “You can only imagine the potential complexities associated with fisheries management in the context of the different Brexit scenarios. We have been working extremely hard in supporting the various government departments in providing advice and services to underpin Ireland’s preparation and planning,” he says.


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Empowering Through Learning Government launch education plan for year ahead amid warnings of teacher shortages

The Government has outlined its priorities for the education system in the year ahead, but it was greeted with warnings that its ambitions cannot be realised while teacher shortages continue and the third-level funding is not increased. The Action Plan for Education 2019 sets out more than 280 deliverable actions for this year across all sectors from primary level to higher education with the ambition to continuously improve our education system. It builds on progress to date and reflects commitments in relevant cross-governmental initiatives such as Future Jobs Ireland, the Action Plan for Rural Development and Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures – The National Policy Framework for Children and Young People. The plan covers a wide number of areas including new

curricula, encouraging more female students to take up STEM subjects, diversity in school patronage, teacher supply, a charter for parents and students’ rights, improved access to higher education and tackling sexual consent issues at third-level. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who attended the launch of the Plan at in the National College of Art and Design, together with Education Minister Joe McHugh, Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor and Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan pointed out the Government is spending €10.8 billion on education this year, the highest amount ever. “In practical terms, that level of investment means new school buildings, extensions and refurbishments all over the

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country; the lowest ever pupil-teacher plan was always welcome and he also ratios in primary schools; more Special welcomed comments by the Taoiseach and Needs Assistants than ever before and education minister about the role played investment in new subjects, such as by the system in nurturing students. Computer Science and PE. But he added, “However, in order to “We have taken a ‘Whole of do so we need teachers. Teacher supply is Government’ approach with this Action one of the biggest concerns for principals Plan, because we recognise that education and deputy principals.” is the single best route to a better life. Mr Byrne said the implementation of It is the great leveller and the great the Teacher Supply Action Plan must be opportunity giver. Every euro we spend an immediate priority, recalling that in on it now delivers many multiples in September 2018, many schools opened benefits in the years to come. So we want without a full complement of staff. to plan ahead and get it right. “We all have to redouble our efforts to “Approximately one in four people in tackle this problem before the next school Ireland are students: children, teenagers, term commences in September,” and said adults, people from all backgrounds. An the proposed National Forum on the issue, investment in education is an investment promised within months, was particularly in them, it’s an investment in the future welcome. Minister for Education Joe McHugh and in all of us.” Meanwhile, the employers’ Minister for Education Joe McHugh organisation, Ibec, welcomed commitment said the plan was underpinned by a drive to prepare people to strengthen the apprenticeship system, promote lifelong in a balanced way for life and work. “It emphasises the need learning and reform the employer-financed National Training for young people and students to aim high and to fulfil their Fund but warned that its ambitions for higher education and potential while developing the skills to think critically and to research were undermined by the Government’s “ongoing failure adapt and innovate with resilience and wellbeing,” he said. to address under-investment in the third-level sector”. “This year, we will be placing a particular focus on Ibec’s head of education and social policy, Tony Donohoe improving life-long learning, by looking at new and exciting said it was over four years since the Expert Group on Future ways to encourage people to upskill and engage with the many Funding for Higher Education published an authoritative options available. Linked to that, we are working to improve the report, “and we do not need more reports to highlight the impact of further education and training programmes, looking impact of significant under-investment over the last decade”. at research opportunities and strengthening the apprenticeship He said Ireland spent 17pc less per third level student than and traineeship systems. the EU average, and “this lack of investment does not match “We are working to make our education and training system or support the national ambitions to be a global education and more flexible, innovative and responsive over the entire course innovation leader. of a person’s life. We are moving away from the traditional “Ibec has suggested that a proportion of surging corporate learning routes and adapting more to what is required in tax revenues should be allocated to critical national infrastructure society, today and into the future.” such as higher education and research. This investment, Clive Byrne, director of the National Association of combined with a more sustainable funding model, is urgently Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) said a new strategic required if we hope to translate policy rhetoric into a reality.”

ACTION PLAN FOR EDUCATION 2019 n Implementing the DEIS Plan in order to close the gap in performance between DEIS and non-DEIS schools, and increase progression rates of DEIS students into Higher Education and Further Education. n Implementing the Teacher Supply Action Plan, including launching a Teacher Recruitment Portal to assist schools in recruiting for all teacher vacancies, including substitutes. n Making progress towards increasing the diversity of school types in order to offer parents more choice. n Introducing a stronger complaints

procedure and charter for parents and students. n Strengthening the apprenticeship and traineeship systems by enhancing the range of courses and increasing student places. n Set up a new online marketplace for apprenticeship opportunities. n Implement strands of the National Plan for Equity of Access to Higher Education 2015-2021 and oversee delivery of targets for Institutes of Technology, Universities and colleges so that Higher Education becomes more representative. n Implementing Languages Connect, Ireland’s Strategy for Foreign Languages in Education 2017-2026.

n Increasing the number of post-primary schools in the Foreign Language Assistants scheme and uptake of the Erasmus programme. n Progressing implementation of the STEM Education Policy Statement 20172026 and the Implementation Plan 2017-2019, including developing a work plan to increase the numbers of women participating in STEM. n Launch a STEM advertising campaign aimed at pupils and students, teachers, school leaders and parents to promote and drive participation in STEM subjects. n Improving access to higher education for more people.

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Visit www.ipa.ie, email information@ipa.ie or call (01) 240 3600. 44

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Part-Time IPA Programmes The Institute of Public Administration’s Part-Time Programmes for Ireland’s Public Servants As we turn toward spring and summer, people can be forgiven for being more concerned with holiday plans than with higher education programmes. It is at this time, however, that we should all contemplate whether this is the year to return to education in September, study subjects of professional and personal interest, and obtain a new qualification. There are always new skills to master and deeper insights to obtain. It is widely accepted that higher education is key to both career success and to effective public management. For adult students, however, a decision to return to education is complicated by their busy personal and professional lives. They require high-quality education programmes that are flexible enough to meet their circumstances. The Whitaker School of Government and Management at the Institute of Public Administration (IPA) will provide almost 70 undergraduate and postgraduate programmes this coming autumn. These part-time programmes are specifically designed for adults who want to obtain a nationally recognised qualification while keeping their various professional and personal commitments. Programmes are accredited by the National University of Ireland (NUI), of which the IPA is a recognised college, and sit between levels six and ten on the ten-point National Framework of Qualifications.

Flexible Delivery Methods IPA programmes have flexible study methods that allow students to study at a time and place of their choosing and from anywhere in the country. These methods are highly valued by adults keen to pursue a new qualification but with many demands on their time. The IPA also recognises prior learning, so students with appropriate qualifications may be able to skip certain stages or subjects in the undergraduate programmes and thereby complete in a shorter time.

Undergraduate Programmes Programmes at undergraduate level include certificates, diplomas and professional diplomas in a very wide range of areas, including public management, civil service and state agency studies, local government studies, healthcare management, health economics, housing studies, public procurement, project management, law, management, HRM, human rights & equality, managing change, and official statistics. The IPA’s highly

regarded Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree in Public Management, meanwhile, allows students to specialise in one of six specialised streams. A Bachelor of Business Studies (Hons), with four specialised streams, is also offered.

Postgraduate Programmes At postgraduate level the IPA offers a suite of Master of Arts programmes in public management, local government management, financial management, criminal justice, HRM, healthcare management, and leadership and strategy. These programmes—delivered through blended learning—combine study of various subjects with the preparation of a dissertation. Students receive comprehensive course material and attend the IPA campus in Dublin for weekend seminars over the course of the academic year (September to March). MA programmes take two years to complete and include the interim award of a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Management. Other postgraduate programmes include a Professional Certificate in Governance, a Postgraduate Diploma in Business and Management, a Master of Economic Science in Policy Analysis, and a Master of Science in Business and Management. The IPA’s highest award—a Doctorate in Governance—facilitates research and debate on the key issues affecting European and Irish policy making and governance and involves residential seminars at which participants compare and exchange experience. IPA programmes are now enrolling. For further information, visit www.ipa.ie. To talk to staff about a programme you are interested in, call (01) 240 3600.

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Public Sector Magazine

A New Era in Further Education and Training Significant higher education and training reforms were introduced in 2013. Six years on Tony Dalton, Director of Further Education & Training Services, Louth/Offaly discusses the far-reaching impact and improved outcomes which have been delivered as a result

In 2013 sixteen new Education and Training Boards (ETBs) were established to replace the 33 Vocational Education Committees (VECs) and the training function previously carried out by FÁS, was also brought under their remit. It was heralded as the most sweeping change in the further education and training system in a generation. According to Tony Dalton, Director of Further Education & Training Services, Laois Offaly ETB, (LOETB) it is important to recall the context in which the reforms took place. The 33 VECs and FÁS had previously operated as completely separate entities and critics claimed it resulted in a separation of education and training which was unnecessary and counterproductive. The new reform promised greater consistency and alignment between the two functions and the creation of new education and training boards (ETBs) with responsibility for

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both sectors has been instrumental in establishing a FET sector which is clear and transparent. “That was the rationale back in 2013 and it continues to be today,” says Dalton. Dalton agrees that the reforms have proved transformative for the Further Education and Training education system and significantly enhanced the learning environment for FET learners. “For 80 years VECs had existed as single statutory bodies with a county remit. This new structure not only encompassed the work which the VECs had previously carried out, but also the entire FÁS training remit.” he says. “We have undergone more change in the last five years than was undertaken in the entirety of the previous 85 years. We took the system and changed it fundamentally. We changed how we operate and how we work with industry and employers.” The most significant challenge was to align the two separate


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services into a single streamlined model of pathways orientated,” says Dalton. “We provision. One of the persistent criticisms have eleven FET centres, 2 prison services of the VECs and FÁS sector related to as well as the Mount Lucas centre and the lack of communication between both every centre we have is about providing bodies, a shortcoming which comprised pathways for learners.” the responsiveness of the system and “Using the FET Centre model, we curtailed its effectiveness in meeting the are now providing multiple services on needs of employees and industry. single sites which means transport is less “That was something we needed to of a problem and accessibility is greater hit the ground running with in 2013 and for learners. The best example I can give 2014,” says Dalton. “We were emerging is Tullamore where we used to have three from a recession and the opportunities for buildings providing Adult education. learners were improving. We needed to We have now closed all the offices and better align our services with the needs of developed a single-centre so that students learners and employers at regional level can progress through all the various stages and make that process more effective of their chosen field from a single site. This because a critical part of our service is is hugely advantageous. ensuring that learners have progression “People who come to us don’t care pathways into employment or further/ how the programme is funded. They higher education and training. are interested in knowing whether the Tony Dalton, Director of Further Education & Training Services, Laois Offaly ETB “We also had to work through the programme is full or part-time and if they process of amalgamating two VEC are at level two, how do they progress services which was primarily about to level 3, 4, 5 and 6. They want to know bringing staff together and making the direction they are heading in and them aware that we are now operating what opportunities exist to progress and as a single organisation with all the develop their education and their career. ramifications and upheaval that entailed. We have the capacity now to develop Then it was about focussing on achieving those pathways for learners. greater consistency in terms of the service Today a learner can go into any of we provide.” our FET centres at any level knowing that For example, multiple VEC Quality it is a progression focused programme Assurance systems were in place, which and knowing that the next step in their required restructuring. In LOETB, two education journey is on site. It also VEC QA systems existed, causing a enables us to streamline our traineeship need for a complete overhaul of existing and apprenticeship programmes and processed to establish one single FE QA provide employers with staff that have the system. Amalgamating the FÁS training skills they are seeking and who have been services in 2016, led by Chief Executive specifically trained for the requirements of Joe Cunningham, and Tony Dalton, was the sectors in our region.” especially testing, involving a significant LOETB has recently been working number of new posts, introduction to with a number of locally based Medtech former FÁS IT systems, and a range of companies where the skills required will different acronyms and terminology. frequently differ from those required by Initially LOETB has focussed on learning similar companies on the east coast. This is to understand the new systems and on largely due to the differing responsibilities ensuring that personnel throughout the catered to in each location and illustrates organisation were familiar with the new processes and the the benefits of LOETB working with local employers to provide additional responsibilities which had to be assumed in order specifically tailored programmes. It is also beneficial for new to make a successful transition. The challenge now remains enterprises locating in the region and assists them to rapidly to establish one single QA system that incorporates all FET establish and scale-up their operations. LOETB has also provision. expanded the range of programmes provided to local employees Only by fully understanding how these schemes operate in order to increase the capacity of the local workforce and help could management effectively determine how they might better ensure employment becomes more sustainable. complement and enhance existing programmes and resources. Last year Laois and Offaly ETB progressed over 1,000 FET “We wanted to build on what we already had and avoid a learners into employment, a significant figure in a region where situation where we were introducing new systems which were unemployment rates are as high as 12% in some instances. simply duplicating existing provision.” “That is the type of data that allows us to say something “We can now say with confidence that we have combined is right here and it is a really good foundation for us to work the two services into a single streamlined FET service that is from,” says Dalton. “We also progressed another 6,000 people

Last year Laois

and Offaly ETB

progressed over 1,000 ‘learner’

employees into employment, a

significant figure in a region where unemployment

rates are as high as 12% in some instances.

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Public Sector Magazine

to the next level in their learning and altogether there were over 11,000 beneficiaries of our service in 2018. The numbers reflect the effort of the staff team here and gives employers added confidence in our services and programmes.” Having inherited the training services in 2016, Dalton and the management team decided it was essential to prioritise engagement with employers in the region. Outcomes in this critical area had previously been erratic and following sanction from SOLAS and the Department of Education and Skills, LOETB was given the go-ahead to create two additional positions with responsibility for establishing closer ties with industry. “This allowed us to appoint staff whose role is to go out and engage with employers, talk to them about their needs and ultimately deliver solutions that match what they require,” says Dalton. “It is a challenge given that 90% of our region’s employers are SME’s with fewer than 10 employees. But the employer engagement team has grown and there are now four members who worked with approximately 60 different companies and over 500 employees on different programmes last year. “We are doing a huge amount of work on lean management and lean development with local companies, helping to increase their competitiveness and trying to prepare for what may happen with Brexit.” LOETB also recently signed a strategic performance agreement with SOLAS, the national planning and funding agency. That process involves identifying those sectors which offer the highest growth potential in Laois and Offaly and then developing a suite of programmes and courses that allow LOETB to work more effectively with those sectors. Priority areas which have been identified thus far include healthcare,

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construction, engineering, manufacturing, Medtech and IT. “They are the fastest growing sectors and responsible for generating most of the new employment being created in the region,” says Dalton. A proportion of learners choose to progress their education rather than proceeding directly into employment and LOETB has established Cooperation agreements with Athlone institute of Technology and Carlow IT to cater to that cohort. “Med Tech and STEM are probably the most promising areas in that regard. The entry-level there for some jobs is level 7 and level 8 and we are mapping out a route to allow learners gain advanced entry to Athlone and Carlow and then return to the region where there are good employment opportunities for those with level 7 and 8 qualifications. LOETB is currently focussed on further developing its services with the development of a new regionally based Medtech training facility in Tullamore. This training facility will also support the expansion of apprenticeship in the region and is due to open later this year. The National Construction Training Centre is being further improved and LOETB has been working with the construction industry to develop a scaffolding apprenticeship. Our approach here is if we do right by the learner,” Dalton says. “If we provide the right facilities for the learner, if we give the learner the right opportunities, the rest will fall into place and the targets and numbers will look after themselves. Our role is to provide the environment that allows learners to progress. 50% of the jobs that will employ the children in our schools don’t exist yet, we have to work closely with industry to keep abreast of new trends and ensure we continue to maximise opportunities and training outcomes in our region.”


Apprenticeships

Meeting Employer Needs

Excellence through Public Sector Magazine Education and Training

Employment Traineeships Progression Lifelong Learning

Skills to Advance

Relevant Skills Development

LAOIS Ridge Road, Portlaoise, Co. Laois. T: +353 (0) 57 8621352 OFFALY Castle Buildings, Tara Street, Tullamore, Co. Offaly T: +353 (0) 57 9349400 E: info@loetb.ie or visit us at www.loetb.ie This programme is co-funded by the European Social Fund Programme for Employability Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020

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Digital Literacy Irish Computer Society welcomes SureSkills as national partner for ICDL Workforce.

The extent of the disruptive impact which technology has exerted on the workplace is comprehensive and wide-ranging. Whole industries are being transformed through the application of technological solutions and digital skills are increasingly vital across every area of commercial activity. A digitally educated workforce is also critical in competing successfully for inward investment. Recognising the nationwide issue, the Irish Computer Society and SureSkills have embarked on a programme ensure Ireland’s IT workforce is digitally-enabled and ready to take on the new challenges triggered by digitisation and digital disruption. In a seminar entitled “the Future of Digital Literacy in the Workforce”, which was hosted at the ICT Headquarters recently, a number of prominent keynote speakers addressed this crucial topic. In a talk entitled, ‘Why Digital Literacy?’ Mary Cleary, who was involved in introducing ICDL to Ireland 21 years ago, discussed the importance of ensuring digital education is a central plank of Ireland’s education system. Traditionally, an educated person was seen as someone who was literate and comfortable with numbers. They had accumulated a body of knowledge, developed a capacity for critical thinking and were also good communicators, capable of creating original ideas. However, that blueprint is now out of touch and fails to take sufficient account of the pervasive influence of technology in modern society, according to Cleary. “We have to move beyond the skills of basic understanding in the digital sphere and encourage people to master technology and to understand it, rather than just learning how to carry out certain tasks,” she said. “Technology has influenced all fields of human activity and we now have the concept of a digital citizen, someone who is literate and knowledgeable but also has the knowhow to use digital tools for things like efficiency and accuracy and for

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maintaining security and the management of information. “The digital citizen can think critically and will question the authenticity and validity of things they find using digital tools and on the Internet. They are communicators and the digital space gives them the opportunity to collaborate freely in a way that was not previously available. They discuss their tasks on social media, they browse forums and they can get information from all sorts of different sources. “The digital citizen is also a creator of ideas, a creator and publisher of original content and that is all facilitated by using digital tools.” There is a tendency to take these skills for granted but Cleary argues that we should examine how they are acquired and ensure young people are capable of validating and differentiating between resources and information sources. “We need to ensure that they can create new meaning from authentic sources, once they are validated as authentic and we need to ensure that new ways of learning in this digital context will still lead to innovations and discoveries that our civilisation has benefited from throughout history. “Society should not lose sight of the fact that technology needs to provide added value and we should expect ubiquitous connectivity, free of charge with lots of valuable information available to everybody.” Concerns in relation to safety, security and privacy, particularly for young people should also be a priority and ethics, personal integrity and social wellbeing are vital elements in the context of digital literacy. Cleary also spoke about the need to examine the role of educators and she referenced the various frameworks governing


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the provision of training and professional development programs which incorporate digital literacy in Ireland. Digicam is one which is widely used in Europe while in Ireland there is a government agency initiative to develop digital skills and Internet safety in schools called Webwide. Meanwhile, ICDL address the need for standardising the approach and content. “Our understanding of digital literacy has to be much broader and there is such a broad range of things that people do in IT jobs that don’t involve programming and coding. In the current climate every job is a digital job and every job is in a digital industry. “It is important that the emphasis is put on skills development while the concept of lifelong learning also needs to be promoted to a greater extent. We have to look at acquiring new skills and we have to look at different ways of working and new ways of educating ourselves.” However, Cleary also referenced a series of positive actions which are taking place including the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition, a conglomerate of companies, social partners, non-profit organisations and education providers which has been established in all EU member states with the aim of improving digital skills In Europe. ‘Digital Skills for Citizens’, another Irish programme aimed at those with few digital skills has also had a positive impact. Cleary pointed out that Ireland features a plethora of small, uncertified nonstandard ICT skills programmes and there is an urgent need to provide a structure and give it some type of a standardized approach and quality assurance. This is where ICDL comes in. Established 21 years ago. ICDL is the world’s leading digital skills certification, according to Cleary. “There is nothing that has surpassed it in terms of coverage globally. ICDL has been filling the gaps in the Irish Education System since its inception and is still proactively addressing the issues which the education system ignores,” she said.

profit, global social enterprise with an office in Stillorgan, South Dublin, a branch office in Brussels and 3 regional hubs; in Rwanda, Singapore and Kansas. The organisation frequently advises the European Commission on digital skills policy for EU member states. For years ICDL and ECDL have shared a common logo but thea organisation is currently rebranding and establishing ICDL as a new, single global identity, a process that will cover the next 12 months. O’Sullivan stressed the importance of ensuring that our workforce has the skills necessary to benefit from digital technology in order to compete successfully for inward investment and jobs in a competitive global market. “Countries like Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia recognise the need to develop their digital economy and they recognise that digital skills are a key part of it,” he said. ICDL recently commenced a programme in Nanjing, a city of 10m people in China which is competing with 120 other Chinese cities for investment, and local government sees the initiative as a way of obtaining a highly respected international standard which will facilitate trade globally. “One of the reasons Governments are happy to engage with us is because of our status and the fact that we are a not-for-profit social enterprise established for the single purpose of training today’s workforce in essential digital skills. What skills do people need? That is the only question of interest to us and that independence is very important to us and to our clients because they can adopt ICDL without having to commit to any particular vendor in terms of the software they use. We are not trying to sell ICDL when we engage with Governments and organisations.” The process employed by ICDL, dubbed the ABC process, emphasises assessment, skills building and certification. Quality assurance is fundamental to the organisation as is the need to ensure equality of training and outcomes across the different regions in which it operates. “We are very strict about quality and we do a lot of auditing and a lot of analysis on our test data to highlight any inconsistencies,” he says. “ICDL is a shared global standard and the message is about being part of ICDL and the Irish, European community and global communities. We do not compete with free online content which is readily accessible to those who want it. That is not what ICDL is about. ICDL is about a standard and a way of doing things. It is about certification and it needs to be a disciplined and managed process.” The growth and success of ECDL in Ireland since its inception was driven by a real desire to ensure the workforce was digitally literate and it enjoyed significant take-up from corporations and public sector organisations. However, O’Sullivan is concerned that

ICDL recently commenced a

programme in

Nanjing, a city of 10m people

in China which is competing

with 120 other Chinese cities

for investment, and local

government sees

the initiative as a way of obtaining

a highly respected international

standard which will facilitate

trade globally.

Damien O’Sullivan, CEO, ICDL Foundation “It feels like we are having a Back to the Future type discussion. When ECDL started in 1997, everybody gave a timeframe of 5 years to close the digital skills gap and ensure everybody is digitally literate. But, it’s like we are still at a starting point.” These were among the opening remarks by Damien O’Sullivan, chief executive of the IC Foundation who discussed the background and evolution of ICDL and its future direction. Headquartered in Ireland, ICDL is a self-financing, not-for

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complacency has crept in and that we are now beginning to overestimate the digital capabilities of the Irish workforce. People need to be digitally competent to cope with the influence of social media on the workplace and rapid change brought about by new cloud applications which are constantly emerging. O’Sullivan expects the changing nature of the workplace to accelerate in the future with the advent of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) which he says will have a transformative impact on the world of work. According to a recent study commissioned by Sky News, increasing automation could supplant up to 40% of the workforce. The degree to which people are inclined to view the rapid pace of technological change as an opportunity or a threat will depend on how companies and organisations prepare their workforce, according to Donnelly. “The question is what do you do? Our message is simple: You upskill, you upskill and you upskill. That is our message to government, companies and to organizations. It’s not complicated, the more competent you are in the basics, the easier it is to adapt to new technology. It is about offering flexible training solutions and building the skill levels of the workforce. It’s about building training plans and it’s about certification which is fundamental to the process.” Further programmes are due to be rolled out in 2019 including ICDL workforce which will teach basic skills for people not unfamiliar with technology and ICDL professional which will focus on professional users of IT who require more than just basic skills, for example, finance personnel who need to understand analytics or excel. “It is a new layer for ICDL and we are moving beyond basic skills and into the professional arena,” O’Sullivan concluded.

users globally in companies such as Toyota, Fitch and Dell. Quality control and ensuring everything works in multiple languages and across multiple territories is a particularly critical aspect of its operations and fundamental to maintaining the exemplary reputation enjoyed by SureSkills. In recent years, the company has been involved in a variety of high profile technology projects both in Ireland and abroad and Mark is concerned over what he sees as a deterioration in standards. “We have seen a significant gap in skills levels emerge over the last number of years across all professions and there is also an inconsistency of information in terms of format and poor sources of information in relation to learning,” he says. Picking up information in a halfhearted way will likely have negative repercussions for a company further down the road and Egan spoke of the need for a greater focus on in-context repetition which facilitates retention and is vital in terms of embedding the acquired knowledge. A better measurement of training is also required. E-learning does not suit all learners. It requires self-discipline and there are still some fundamental issues that we need to recognise, according to Mark. However, research shows it is equal in effectiveness to classroom teaching in most circumstances – where learners are working in context and are able to apply the learning immediately and regularly. Presenting a convincing case for the partnership between SureSkills and ICDL and the need to improve the IT skills of the workforce, Egan said that digital capability is increasingly the chief catalyst of business growth. “It is critical to optimising the digital customer experience; driving innovation and delivering efficiency improvements,” he said. It is not just about e-learning on its own. We believe that to make e-learning work requires the wraparound services we build with the e-learning. Services such as training needs analysis, learning support, one-to-one WebEx sessions, workshops, floorwalking (where trainers visit workers at their desks) and much more. We also help with equipment and training rooms. We have the software required preloaded onto the machines together with portable Wi-Fi access that can take up to 32 clients. We even do laptop hire and room hire. We also have dedicated customer success managers working with the teams who are primarily interested in establishing a lifelong relationship with customers. ICDL has built a fantastic product. They have different levels and clients can just do the assessment part on its own or they can just buy the certified part. It is competitively priced and an organisation of 400 people can avail of a complete site licence for 200 employees for €6700 per year which works out at just €27 per user per year. It is the ideal solution for assisting employees to update their digital skills and it offers flexibility, keen pricing and certification to a highly reputable global standard.

“We have to move

beyond the skills of

basic understanding in the digital sphere and encourage

people to master

technology and to

understand it, rather than just learning how to carry out certain tasks.”

MARK Egan, Chairman, SureSkills Workforce programmes are developed to the same internationally validated standards used by more than 24,000 businesses and organisations and 14 million candidates globally, according to the final speaker, Mark Egan, Chairman, SureSkills which comprises four divisions including Learning Services, Training and Certification, Consulting and Solutions division and Managed Data Protection. Just under 90 people are employed at SureSkills which trains around 1000 people each year in the service management standard ITIL and a further 1500 in the Prince 2 Project Management system. They also offer customised training in Excel which is undertaken by approximately 6000 people every year. The company has built courses for VMware and it works with Dell and Amazon Web Services, providing support to their workforces around the globe as well as e-learning for their customers. It also works extensively with Microsoft and numerous other companies and public body organisations throughout Ireland and currently supports 165,000 learning management system (LMS)

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Evolving Solutions The Centre for Innovative Human Systems (CIHS) brings academic rigor and innovation together with a focus on the real-world needs of the industrial partner. Working with CIHS provides access to world class research capability focusing on the specific challenges of the organisation without long term commitments CIHS has built up over twenty-five years’ experience with projects which aim to resolve problems and bring about meaningful changes in behaviour, operations and policy. These applied projects focus on areas such as developing and implementing safety training for the design, operations and maintenance; implementing process improvement initiatives to improve cost effectiveness; conducting needs assessments and safety culture assessments. Constantly innovating and evolving solutions means that there is a transfer of learning between multiple sectors. Transferring this expertise and knowledge to the benefit of organisations can be done in multiple ways, from leveraged research funding to dedicated research funding. Researchers in the Centre for Innovative Human Systems have received national and international recognition for their work, with over €25 million of funding secured from European Commission research programmes, National Funders and Industrial Sectors. CIHS researchers contribute to SFI Research Centres LERO and ADAPT, and are members of European and global research collaborations. Core research themes within CIHS include human-centred design, change management and implementation, automation, process and system modelling, risk, safety and performance and competence. Effective design of tools and equipment has always focussed on human requirements. As socio-technical systems become increasingly complex, understanding and designing for the multiple ways different actors will interact with the system has become ever more challenging. In the CIHS we improve performance and reduce risk by putting people at the centre of innovative system design. In the areas of change management and implementation evidence from industry is that the process of introducing change is as critical, and often more challenging, than deciding the direction of that change in the first place. By incorporating the implementation of change into our engagement with industry, we ensure that we don’t leave our clients “high and dry” with new technology of process that fails to deliver because it is not effectively implemented. Experience from cross-sectorial implementation projects has provided the CIHS with practical skills and methodologies for planning, executing and evaluating implementation projects in operational settings. Based in the School of Psychology the CIHS also has a range of shorts courses and higher education opportunities that will further promote your career and professional expertise. Our online M.Sc./Postgraduate Diploma in Managing Risk and Systems Change attracts students from a wide range of industries, including Finance, Emergency Services, Health, Aviation, Casino and Gambling, Law Enforcement and Process and Software Development. It is the first course of its kind that

“We improve performance and reduce risk by putting people at the centre of innovative system design” brings next generation of safety, risk and change management that is embedded in everyday operational practice with a systemic proactive and performance focus. Our STAMINA Human Factors Training is an industry leader in addressing safety, quality, reliability and improvement in organisations. We deliver Human Factors training to aviation, pharmaceutical and other safety critical organisations. Our approach to competence is not individualistic (i.e. focusing on one person) but is holistic and collective. The performance of any single worker relies on inputs from other colleagues and collaborators who perform roles in other processes and sometimes in other organisations. Only by looking at the performance of all workers who contribute to an output, and the context in which they work takes place, can competence be assured. Our competence requirements analyses are designed to capture both technical and non-technical skills. A particular focus is on the tacit knowledge – knowledge that is gathered on-thejob that people may not even know that they know. We can also work directly with you to analyse your competence requirements and develop and tailor bespoke training to your organisation. For further information on what we can do for you visit www.tcd.ie/cihs

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Airports

Reduced Development Levies

Louth County Council, Dundalk, Co. Louth, Ireland Tel +353 42 9335457 Web www.louthcoco .ie 54

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@louthcoco


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Tax Education The Irish Tax Institute is the leader in tax education in Ireland, and the only professional body exclusively dedicated to tax.

The Irish Tax Institute is the leader in tax education in Ireland, and the only professional body exclusively dedicated to tax. We have a proven record in tax education in the public sector. A large number of staff within the Revenue Commissioners have graduated with our Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) and Tax Technician qualifications. In addition, many who hold these qualifications are based in the IDA, Forfรกs, and the European Commission.

Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) The Chartered Tax Adviser (CTA) qualification is the international gold standard in tax and those who successfully complete the programme will join a group of 5,000 Chartered Tax Advisers (CTA) in Ireland. This 3 part programme is designed and delivered by highly experienced tax advisers, and provides a deep understanding of tax legislation across all tax heads. The syllabus is designed to ensure that the most current and relevant tax topics are covered. Weekend lectures are run in Dublin and Cork. In addition, all lectures are available online, giving students full study flexibility.

Diploma in Tax Launched in 2017, the Diploma in Tax is the ideal course for those who have previously studied tax, and who wish to build and refresh upon that knowledge. Delivered over 7 modules over a 10-month period, lectures are held in Dublin and online. Assessment is by way of multi-disciplinary assignments.

Tax Technician This flexible, modular qualification is ideal for those seeking a solid foundation in the practicalities of tax. An entry level course, it provides an excellent grounding in tax fundamentals across income tax and payroll, capital taxes, corporation tax and VAT. The flexible modular structure ensures that you can complete the qualification at a pace that suits you, completing the course and examinations over a period of 1- 2 years if you wish. Our Winter courses for 2018/19 start in September / October. Contact 01 663 1700 or students@taxinstitute.ie for more information or visit www. careerintax.ie

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‘We are Cork’ Cork is set to become the fastest growing city in Ireland over the next 20 years with the population set to almost treble from its current level of around 120,000 people to between 320,000 and 360,000 by 2040. Chief Executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey outlines a range of policies and strategies being implemented to support a dynamic and rapidly growing region.

Cork is a place full of energy, ambition and determination. “We have an incredible offering and have achieved a lot in the last number of years. But we must continue to want to deliver more. We are now competing on a global stage and must, more than ever before, strengthen our reputation as to Cork being a great place to live, work and invest in,” says Tim Lucey, Chief Executive of Cork County Council. Local authorities are ideally positioned to bring this offering to the fore. Cork County Council has a long and proud record of accomplishment in delivering nationally strategic, major, capital infrastructure projects with an excellent, and proven, track record in collaborating with local, regional and national stakeholders to deliver such programmes and initiatives. “We are unrelenting in pursuing new ideas, policies, strategies and solutions in order to ensure improved economic progress for County Cork and the region. The need to create the conditions for employment growth remains a key focus of our work,” says Lucey. The Council’s economic remit spans supports for micro-enterprises, business parks and incubation units and major investments in critical infrastructure. With proven success in smart specialisation, including particular regional strengths in agri-food and fisheries with expertise in managing development across the largest rural economy in the country, Lucey and his team are committed to the development of Rural Economic Growth Hubs to stimulate innovation.

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Rural Innovation In addition to other sources, funding has been secured under the Rural Regeneration Development Fund for technical assistance and project development support in respect of ‘Rural Digital Innovation Hubs Cork’, which will empower rural innovation. The emergence of these hubs will utilise Cork’s particular regional attributes such as the potential of West Cork for seafood and fisheries with food and agri-tech across North and East Cork, amongst others. Facilitating county-wide cutting-edge digital innovation hubs will encourage remoteworking, hub-working, co-working and indigenous job creation through entrepreneurship and will leverage the rich enterprise asset base and track-record for which Cork is renowned. Economic development must be local authority led, and to this end a key cornerstone to driving economic growth is the provision by Council of infrastructure and facilities that provide a springboard for entrepreneurs to prosper. 2018 saw Cork County Council issue grant payments to the total of €845,090 with 71 projects funded. In terms of job creation, grant approvals to the total of €960,050 and the approval of 84 projects saw 192 additional jobs created in 2018. A total of 2,357 entrepreneurs were trained at 168 training programmes across the county. A key service provided by the Local Enterprise Offices is mentoring where 982 participants


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received expert mentoring throughout 2018. During 2017 and 2018, 1,464 forth-year secondary school students from 36 schools across Cork County were engaged with by the Local Enterprise Office while the IGNITE Graduate Business Innovation Programme continues to deliver Cork’s future entrepreneurs. “We have also developed a dedicated EU Projects Office to make the most of the opportunities available for EU funding which has succeeded in delivering Destination SMEs, Erasmus-Net, eLighthouse and Bridge SMS,” says Lucey. Economic activity and residential growth are inextricably intertwined as people choose to locate where they can enjoy a balanced and attractive quality of life. Cork has been set an ambitious but realistic target of delivering in the region of 23% of the State’s overall population growth over the next 20 years under Project Ireland 2040. “A challenge, yes,” says Lucey, “but we have met similar challenges previously”. Between 1996 and 2016, Cork County Council itself delivered a population growth of 120,000, along with the required supporting services and employment opportunities.

Housing and Services Vital to this success are quality supporting services and viable employment opportunities. In 2018, the number of new houses completed across County Cork was 1,508 based on data from the Central Statistics Office. The number of houses required to be delivered up to 2040, to meet the population growth targets set out in the National Planning Framework/ Draft Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy, is up to 62,000 units, requiring the delivery of approximately 3,000 units per annum. The requirement for Cork City and County combined is approximately 6,000 units per annum over that period. “In this context, Cork County Council has introduced a series of measures to help address systemic housing supply issues which I consider are impacting on our capacity to deliver on our Development Plans, on the quality of life of our residents and our ability to deliver the employment growth necessary to support sustainable communities going forward,” says Lucey. “In addition to our ongoing Housing

“Economic development must be local authority led, and to this end a key cornerstone to driving economic growth is the provision by Council of infrastructure and facilities that provide a springboard for entrepreneurs to prosper.” the Public Sector Magazine

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“Economic activity and residential growth are inextricably intertwined as people choose to locate where they can enjoy a balanced and attractive quality of life.” Delivery Programme, I have spent the last 2 years in detailed discussions with the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) trying to develop an appropriate response to some of the issues that we know are hampering the development of strategic housing sites. We are close to finalising a proposal which I believe will make a real difference in terms of providing a certainty of supply to the market, which will in turn impact positively on housing affordability. “It is our intention that anticipated growth will be infrastructure led and in this context we are capitalising on government backed funding initiatives such as the Rural and Urban Regeneration Development Fund,” Lucey adds, “We have secured approx. €7.5m for shovel ready projects largely focussed on public realm and quality of life facilities as well as support for a pipeline of many other projects. In fact, 7 of the 11 urban projects are in the Cork County Council administrative area.”

Tourism Tourism is a key economic driver for the Cork region, as reflected in the Fáilte Ireland performance report for 2016, which represented the Cork region as the third most visited county in Ireland. Cork generated an overseas tourist income of €579m during 2016 and Lucey has identified significant opportunities to grow this in the improving global economy. The Cork County Local Economic and Community Plan states: “Tourism is one of the central economic tools for sustaining those communities that are struggling for economic relevance. ... For a community with the potential to become a tourist destination, there are a huge range of benefits available, including; additional employment, increased spending in

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the local community, economic diversification, infrastructure provision, social uplift, environmental protection and increased opportunities for residents”. Cork County Council has identified how strategic investment in key marine-tourism projects and minorimprovement projects affecting rural villages and towns will enable local communities benefit from a targeted tourism product along the Wild Atlantic Way and Ireland’s Ancient East trails. “I am continually focussing on investment programs to support communities, create conditions to enable effective regional development and drive economic performance across the entire county,”says Lucey. “We are in the process of securing a borrowing facility of up to €130m from the European Investment bank (EIB) and the Council of European bank (CEB), which will, over a 10 year period, allow us to progress a broad range of projects across the county.” This borrowing, together with funding provided by the National Urban and Rural Regeneration Funds, and Development Funds will facilitate progress across all the Council’s 8 Municipal Districts. Projects that are set to benefit include, town centre public realm upgrades, town inner relief roads, the development of parks and amenities, tourism related infrastructure, the protection of culture and heritage, energy efficiency projects and economic development. This type of strategic funding approach will enable Cork to be progressive and responsive to the needs of its towns and villages. Lucey is clear on his objectives: “Delivering for the citizens and businesses of Cork is my mission. Cork is a great place to live, work and invest in due to a first-class environment for businesses together with the high quality of life enjoyed by our residents. We are Cork.”


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Live Invest Study Work @Corkcoco @Corkcoco www.corkcoco.ie

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Why Louth? For businesses looking to grow and expand in Ireland, what major factor would entice them to Louth?

Louth’s strategic location mid-way on the busiest economic corridor in Ireland between Dublin and Belfast, ideally positions it to benefit from developments on the island, according to Joan Martin, Chief Executive, Louth County Council. “Businesses in Louth benefit from its ease of access to key markets, a critical mass of talent and exceptional infrastructure designed to support enterprise,” she says. “Businesses also benefit from an enterprise-friendly environment where the local authority actively works with entrepreneurs and business managers to help them succeed. Businesses in the county can also take advantage of more affordable property solutions and a more competitive operating base.” As part of its economic development drive, Louth County Council offers a range of business incentives and supports to encourage those with a business idea to develop it in Louth. When it comes to business, the county’s ‘can do’ attitude is reflected by the Council, which acts as a ‘one stop shop’ for investors – whether they are local start-ups or large multinationals. Its economic development team partners with businesses to remove any obstacles that might slow down their journey to business success. This is best illustrated by the track record the county has with many leading national and international businesses which successfully operate from Louth. There is a vibrant cluster of successful homegrown enterprises in the county including Glen Dimplex, Irish Life,

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Digiweb, Boyle Sports, Kerry Group, Horseware, MultiHog, Nature’s Best, Boyne Valley Foods, Irish Cement, Intact Software and Ovelle. The county is also a thriving hub of activity with foreignowned multinational companies in a wide range of sectors including Lifescience, International and Financial Services, Engineering and Technology based businesses. Companies such as Satir, SuMi Trust (part of Sumitomo Mitsui Group), PayPal, CocaCola, Xerox, State Street, BD, IT Governance, Prometric, and CargoTec successfully operate from the area.

Recent Developments In recent times there is a renewed sense of confidence and optimism in Louth. Leading international companies have announced over 2,000 additional jobs in new investments in the county, including WuXi Biologics, PCI Pharma, Almac Pharma, Graebel Inc., Mobile Technologies Inc., Yapstone, Wasdell Group and National Pen. There are also a number of substantial housing and commercial property developments active in Louth, which is adding to the county’s capacity to grow business. Leading Chinese biotechnology firm WuXi Biologics is about to commence construction of a 45,000m2 building on a 23-hectare campus at IDA Ireland’s Science and Technology Park in Dundalk, Co Louth.


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In addition, Irish Life and IDA Ireland are both completing construction of new advance office buildings, which will provide an additional 7,000m2 of advance office space. And both Wasdell Group and Almac Pharma are completing 12,500m2 of manufacturing facilities at IDA’s campus in Dundalk. With the ongoing development of a number of substantial housing developments and the impressive campus at Dundalk Institute of Technology, many companies are choosing to invest in the area.

How positive is WuXi Biologics investment in Louth?

Qualifying investments by IDA, Enterprise Ireland and Local Enterprise Office clients can avail of a 50% discount for property development contributions making Louth one of the most attractive locations in Ireland for development.

The Louth Economic Forum Louth County Council’s Chief Executive Joan Martin explains how the Louth Economic Forum (LEF) came into being in 2009. “We firmly believed that collaboration across sectors was needed to drive economic growth and job creation. Louth County Council chose to take the lead in this project and we invited IDA-Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, SEAI, the education sector, Teagasc, Fáilte Ireland, Dept. of Social Protection and the business community to become part of the

Louth is privileged to have WuXi Biologics, China’s leading biologics medicine manufacturer invest €325 Louth County Council’s Chief Executive Joan Martin million in a new biopharmaceuticals contract manufacturing facility in Dundalk, Co. Louth. Located mid-way between Dublin and process.” Belfast, the facility will be less than an hour’s drive from And so the Forum, chaired independently, comprises Ireland’s two largest cities. of the business sector of county Louth, the local authority This highly significant investment will provide a valuable management and all of the State agencies that interact with employment boost for the region, leading to the creation of 400 those generating economic activity in the county. jobs when in full production. The jobs at the facility will range It has devised an overall 10-point plan identifying specific areas from manufacturing to technical and quality assurance roles as to be addressed within its work programme. A task group has been well as associated administration positions. formed for each of the areas, including developing Indigenous This represents WuXi Biologics’ first ever manufacturing Business and attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). investment in Europe and marks the company’s first investment The FDI Strategy has set a target to create 3,000 new jobs in of this scale anywhere outside of China. Louth over a 10-year period. Just halfway through that period When complete, WuXi Biologics Ireland will be the world’s over 2,100 jobs have been created. The purpose of the Forum largest facility using single-use bioreactor technology. is to ensure that the right conditions prevail to attract FDI into Louth. “We work collectively to overcome any barriers and to About WuXi Biologics promote the attributes of this wonderful county to potential investors and influencers,” says Martin. Headquartered in WuXi, Jiangsu, China, with three sites located The Benefits of Investing in Louth in WuXi, Shanghai and Suzhou, WuXi Biologics is the main player in China’s biologics services market. The company also holds The key requirements of today’s international investors include the leading positions globally and is quoted on the Hong Kong Stock availability of a highly skilled workforce, a stable industrial and Exchange. WuXi Biologics works with 200 partners worldwide, business environment, access to markets and suppliers through a including 13 of the 20 largest global pharma companies. sophisticated transport and logistics infrastructure, proximity to The company’s CEO, Dr Chris Chen commenting on its leading higher education institutes and the availability of suitable Dundalk, Co Louth investment said ‘I’m looking forward to serviced property with the correct infrastructure. growing our future together; 400 exciting jobs is just the start. Companies located in Louth are within easy reach of ten Our goal is to make this facility one of our biggest biologics universities and higher education colleges, three international manufacturing sites globally. We are very committed to Ireland airports serving 290 destinations, an intercity rail service, an and we will make this facility a showcase for the global uncongested motorway, deep sea ports, a strong pro-business technology community’. environment and 35% of Ireland’s young and highly educated Support for Business Development workforce. As a result, Louth is proving to be an exciting location for Louth has rolled out a range of new business supports with a new businesses and is continuing to lead the way in attracting collaborative approach helping deliver economic growth and leading international investment into Ireland. Its strategic job creation. location, growing reputation and the support of the local For new property developments, a revised Development authority all provide a competitive and compelling offering to Contribution Scheme provides reduced commercial levies. businesses seeking to make key investments.

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Make it Meath Jackie Maguire, Chief Executive, Meath County Council discusses the success of the ‘Make it Meath’ campaign, a key aspect of the local authority’s Economic Development Strategy which is driving inward investment in the region.

The megalithic tomb at Newgrange which is precisely aligned to flood the inner burial chamber with light on the shortest day of the year demonstrates the high level of engineering skills of our ancestors.

Our ‘Make it Meath’ campaign has been delivering results for the county over the last number of years as we seek to attract new business to locate in the Royal County. It is a key part of our Economic Development Strategy, which seeks to increase investment into the county by 40% up to 2022, as well as, to create 7,500 new jobs and increase FDI investment in Meath by 15%. A lot has happened since the County Council decided to initiate the ‘Make it Meath’ campaign, which flatteringly has been imitated by other local authorities. It was an idea borne out of the gloom of the recession, a move to try to encourage local and overseas companies to locate in Meath by showing them that the county was the best location for business across the EU. It is already clear that costs of doing business are increasing, especially in Dublin, and while always keen to promote Ireland as a business destination, and Dublin within that, it is obvious that opportunities will present themselves to those counties bordering the capital. Simply put, all business-related costs are lower in Meath, and that is what attracts top-end worldrenowned companies to Meath. As a council, we are ensuring that the county is best placed to avail of the opportunities and

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that we remain an open and attractive location for business to succeed. Cost is only one of the many reasons that businesses are choosing to Make It Meath. A key calling card for tech companies that may be based in Boston or New York is that, due to the county’s proximity to the airport, you can literally have your breakfast in Navan and lunch on the US east coast. If California’s Silicon Valley, home of most of the world’s leading IT software companies, is your destination, you can now fly direct from Dublin Airport and have supper in San Francisco. By an accident of geography Ireland is ideally located as a gateway to Europe for US corporations. That same accidental geography put Meath on the ‘right’ side of the airport so that access is relatively easy, an absolute essential when these multinational giants are ‘shopping’ for a location for their EU bases. Meath is also lucky in having easy and direct access to Dublin port as people still want and need manufactured goods. Whether it’s potato crisps or large agri-machinery, they must be sent by ship to their destination markets. One other key ingredient is our people. Meath has one of the youngest and fastest growing populations in the state, many


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have high levels of education, a significant number can speak a second language and there is an increasing desire to both live and work in the county, as opposed to commuting for hours in a car each week. While attracting investment and FDI is an essential aspect of our Economic Strategy, our Local Enterprise Office (LEO) spearheads various initiatives to encourage entrepreneurship and promote enterprise across the county and works closely with business groups, community groups and various other local and national bodies. The Meath LEO along with Meath Enterprise have been central in the establishment of the Boyne Valley Food Initiative that has caused quite a stir in the food manufacturing industry, right across the country. In fact, we are really proud that in February of this year, National Geographic named the Boyne Valley as one of the ‘World’s best food destinations in 2019’. The Meath Enterprise Week is a showcase of initiatives to encourage and support new and existing businesses. The council continues to engage with key stakeholders such as the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, County Meath Chamber of Commerce and other interested parties to maximise the potential of Meath

as a business location. As well as being a public service provider, the council plays a key enabling and facilitating role, whether that be working with businesses directly or in creating the right conditions to support investment and economic opportunities or improving the environment within which businesses and communities grow. Companies know the importance of a quality environment in retaining their workforce. If people can’t bring up their families in a peaceful, green and healthy environment, they have the luxury of being able to move elsewhere. That’s why our green environment, that we do so much to protect, is an essential sales tool to attract businesses to the county. Our experience is that employment will attract people to Meath, and the perfect balance of culture, rich heritage and beautiful landscapes will keep them there. For families and individuals who wish to live in Meath, there is a choice of quiet rural locations, quaint villages or bustling market towns. The enhancement of our towns and villages, through partnerships with local communities, is a priority and we are very proud of the numerous awards and

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success stories across the county. However, these accolades would not be achievable without the dedication and commitment of the business and community groups that continue to work in collaboration with the council. As a significant employer ourselves, with a staff of 850 people, we are conscious of the need to retain and improve the skills base in the county, to attract the brightest and the best and to offer young people a diverse range of exciting work opportunities. Our objective is to be an employer of choice and we are working with many others to ensure that Meath is a location of choice for good employment. These objectives have a long history. Five thousand years ago Meath was at the cutting edge of innovation in Europe. The megalithic tomb at Newgrange which is precisely aligned to flood the inner burial chamber with light on the shortest day of the year demonstrates the high level of engineering skills of our ancestors. The factors which led to the creation of Western Europe’s first innovation hub in Meath, location and connectivity, a highly skilled workforce and a great quality of life, are still present today. In point of fact they are stronger than ever.

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“Meath has one of the youngest and fastest growing populations in the state, many have high levels of education, a significant number can speak a second language and there is an increasing desire to both live and work in the county, as opposed to commuting for hours in a car each week.�


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Make your Mark in Mayo If you’re looking to invest, make your investment in Mayo From indigenous success stories to major multinationals, many well-known businesses have chosen to locate in Mayo for its young, well-educated and competitive labour market, efficient transport links to Europe, the US and beyond, innovative enterprise supports and quality of life. Mayo has a population of 130,000, while 40% of its people are under 25 years of age. The county has a campus of GalwayMayo Institute of Technology in Castlebar and an Innovation in Business Centre offering supports to start ups. Mayo’s boasts top class transport infrastructure and its location on Ireland’s most westerly shore makes it a central location for businesses with global aspirations.

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Mayo is one of Ireland’s most beautiful counties, regularly topping polls as one the best places in Ireland not just to visit but in which to live. With its comprehensive digital and physical infrastructures, competitive young workforce and long tradition of entrepreneurship and innovation, it is also one of the best places in Ireland to locate a business Earlier this year California-headquartered Meissner Filtration Products announced plans to create 150 new jobs in Co Mayo over the next five years with the opening of a new manufacturing facility in Castlebar. The company, a manufacturer of microfiltration products,


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With its comprehensive digital and physical infrastructures, competitive young workforce and long tradition of entrepreneurship and innovation, it is also one of the best places in Ireland to locate a business. is to move into and expand a building that was originally constructed by IDA Ireland with the completed facility due to open in early 2020. Initial operations at the Castlebar facility will include SUS manufacturing, quality and regulatory management as well as engineering and customer service.

‘A Great Place to Live’ Mayo is easily reached by road, rail or bus. The upgraded N5 National Primary Road means you can drive there from Dublin Airport in less than three hours and both Galway and Sligo are just over an hour away by road. Ireland West Airport Knock at Knock ensures Mayo is just a 90 minute flight from London and less than three hours from many major European cities. The airport links with more than 25 UK and European destinations. Irish Rail provides a regular rail service, with free wi-fi, from Dublin to Ballina, Castlebar and Westport. A total of

577,000 passenger journeys were recorded on the Dublin / Mayo rail line in 2018, the highest figures ever recorded on the route. This represented a 3.2% increase on 2017. Bus Eireann’s Expressway also offers broadband connectivity all the way from Mayo to Dublin Airport, Dublin city and Galway city. In addition, a recent survey of elderly people found that the respondents were among the happiest in the country. 99% of respondents to the survey were highly satisfied living in Mayo and in their neighborhood, according to the Positive Aging survey. Quality of life is a matter of pride in Co Mayo. This stems from a variety of factors, including beautiful landscapes, clean environment, Blue Flag beaches, strong local communities, friendly people, excellent recreation amenities and good primary & second level schools. Cillian Ó Móráin, owner of Mescan Brewery in Westport, says; “I was drawn to Westport because I love the mountains and the sea. What I did not realise when I came, is that others

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of like mind would be drawn here too and that I would find not just a place but a community in which I felt at home.”

Education in Mayo The Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, which is based in the centre of Castlebar, offers first class education and provides employers in Mayo with a strong pipeline of talent as well as workplace training initiatives for existing staff. The Mayo Sligo Leitrim Education Training Board is also headquartered in Co Mayo. Based at the Castlebar College of Further Education it runs the CCFE, Ballina College of Further Education and the Westport College of Further Education. All three provide a wonderful learning atmosphere for students of all ages and from all walks of life. Their studentfocused environment aims to cultivate confidence and selfbelief, an entrepreneurial spirit of ambition and achievement and ability to pursue personal goals. Westport based Team Horizon which provides engineering solutions for manufacturing companies is one example of a company which has expanded internationally from its Mayo base. The ability to recruit high calibre talent locally has been a critical factor in its success, according to CEO Aiden Corcoran “Horizon’s Mayo base has developed through the recruitment of a strongly experienced pool of highly technically skilled local staff, all with self-starting attitudes,” he says. Mayo is extremely well placed to secure graduates from IT Sligo, the GMIT Galway Campus and the National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway), all of which are within a 100km radius of Castlebar, Mayo’s County Town. University of Limerick is 175km away and has strong education links to Mayo Each has extensive industry programmes including technology transfer and R&D collaboration. Innovation Hub at GMIT in Castlebar provides incubation space and supports for start ups. WestBIC, part of the European Business Innovation Centre network, which supports growth-oriented businesses, is located in the Innovation Hub at GMIT.

Celebrating Mayo Day Mayo is the only county in Ireland which boasts it’s own day of celebration. Mayo Day is a celebration of ‘Mayo-ness’ in Mayo communities, both at home and around the world. It is an annual celebration of the ‘Spirit of Mayo’ and serves as an opportunity to showcase all the many appealing aspects of this progressive, can-do county. The first Mayo Day event took place in 2015 and it has grown from humble beginnings to an eagerly anticipated celebration each year. The 2019 event, centred around the theme of ‘The Mayo Word’ will take place in The National Museum of Ireland – Country Life, Turlough, on Saturday, May 4. For more information visit Mayo.ie

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Quality of life is a matter of pride in Co Mayo. This stems from a variety of factors, including beautiful landscapes, clean environment, Blue Flag beaches, strong local communities, friendly people, excellent recreation amenities and good primary & second level schools. SHOWCASING MAYO Mescan Brewery - Mescan Brewery is named after Mescan the monk who was St. Patrick’s friend and personal brewer. It is situated on the slopes of Croagh Patrick and is owned and operated by Bart Adons and Cillian Ó Móráin, two Westport vets who have been friends and colleagues for nearly 20 years. The pair spent four years perfecting their original recipes inspired by the beers of Belgium, Bart’s homeland before starting to brew commercially in 2013. The water for Mescan beers comes from deep underneath Croagh Patrick via a spring beside the brewery. Malts, hops and yeast for the beer come from Belgium. “In 2010 Bart welded together our first brewery - a 50 litre set up. For three years, we brewed each week in Cillian’s garage, creating recipes and learning from our mistakes. The real work started when we set about converting a farm shed on Bart’s farm building a 1000 litre brewhouse from scratch. Many expansions later, we’ve now lost most of our hair, but, on a good day, we wouldn’t swap it for anything. Team Horizon - A provider of engineering solutions for manufacturing companies, Horizon’s customer base includes major players in the medical devices, pharmaceutical, biotech and manufacturing sectors. From its Mayo HQ it runs a number of operations across Europe too, as well as in the United States. The company, Team Horizon, was established in 2010 by CEO Aiden Corcoran, a project management consultant with 20 years’ experience in management and project execution roles. Since then it has grown at home and internationally, and now employs 45 people, providing its manufacturing company clients with engineering solutions and consultancy, resourcing and outsource manufacturing services. “The company has received support from local and State agencies – Mayo Local Enterprise Office, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and more recently, as part of international expansion, Enterprise Ireland,” says CEO, Aiden Corcoran. “From our Westport hub, Horizon delivers services locally, regionally and internationally, including the US”


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Comhairle Contae Mhaigh Eo Mayo County Council

MAYO: QUALITY OF LIFE Mayo, a place where you can sample an ambitious culture of enterprise and business development. Heartbeat of the Wild Atlantic Way, County Mayo is set against the dramatic backdrop of the Atlantic Coastline. Voted ‘Best Place in Ireland To Live’, Mayo is also synonymous with international brands and global success stories. Utilising our energy resources and connectivity, Mayo is a ‘place’ people simply like doing business with.

Ireland West Airport, Mayo

INVEST From indigenous success stories to major multinationals, many well-known companies have chosen to locate in Mayo. A vast pool of educated and talented workforce, world class business infrastructure, transport links including freight, road and air, continue to attract major multinationals. Mayo is now the platform for connecting US and European financial markets with the largest sub-sea fibre optic cable project in the world. Mayo can deliver for your company. Read about these companies and many more on www.mayo.ie Enterprise and Investment Unit

E: invest@mayo.ie T: +353(0)949064299 W: www.mayo.ie

Mayo County Council Cedar House, Top Floor, Moneen, Castlebar, County Mayo, Ireland. the Public Sector Magazine

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The Secret to Savills Success Following an impressive trading year, Mark Reynolds, recently appointed deputy managing director, Savills Ireland expects house prices to moderate in 2019 but the office market is likely to remain buoyant and demand for logistics and distribution space will increase significantly.

If anyone still needed convincing that the Irish property market has most emphatically recovered, they need only look to recent results from Savills, Ireland’s premiere estate agency which recorded its best trading year in a decade in 2018. According to Mark Reynolds, recently appointed deputy managing director, Savills Ireland, the key drivers have been a particularly vibrant office market and strong investor demand in the private rented sector”, he says. Reynolds is confident that growth will continue through 2019, albeit at a less frenetic pace, and he expects new sectors to

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emerge to compensate for those areas where growth is likely to taper off after a sustained period of annual double-digit gains. “There are a number of areas which haven’t shared the same levels of growth as the more buoyant sectors, but we expect that to change going forward,” he says. “We see a big push from the industrial and logistics market due to the massive expansion of online retailing. Our ability to deliver logistics distribution space across the country will be tested in the coming years. “I also expect strong data centre activity to continue


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and future supply will be spread more evenly and centred predominantly along the M1, N7 and N11 corridors. Mindful of the pattern of boom and bust development which has traditionally prevailed in Ireland, sceptics are entitled to question whether the current buoyancy can be maintained. Reynolds is confident that the present phase of growth is built on solid foundations, particularly the lending environment which is significantly more risk adverse than that which preceded the last economic crash. “The majority of the development now taking place is not speculative in nature which wasn’t the case ten years ago,” he says. “Back then developments were being given the go-ahead without any end-occupier in mind. In contrast, the market today is driven by the funders who want to know that there is an end-occupier legally committed to the development before they release any funds. The vast majority of office schemes being built at present are all pre-let and construction does not commence until there is a lease in place for a significant portion end space.” The Savills brand is long established in the Irish property market; a blend of seamless tradition and high-end corporate success. “We are ambitious, we want to be the best in the business – the best property advisor and valuer and the leading broker in all the sectors and regions that we operate in. We focus on specific markets and we are market leaders in land sales, the office and investment markets and the new homes market. We are not active in some of the regional locations for lower margin assets. We are focused on opportunities of scale. We are very active in Belfast, Dublin and Cork and we’re the dominant player in those markets.” It is the tried and tested methods that have kept Savills in pole position in a highly competitive market. “The secret to our success is that we recruit, retain and motivate the best people. In all the areas we focus on, you find that the knowledge, expertise and professionalism that we bring to the table is unmatched. That is the key driver. We also build very good relationships with our clients and we work on the basis that every key instruction we win helps us to win our next one. We have a proud track record and we want to maintain it. We don’t rest on our laurels. “It is a data hungry market and there has been a vast increase in the amount of data required by clients and buyers. You have to have the ability to analyse, advise and deliver the data at a touch of a button.We have spent a huge amount of time and effort in this area and together with our investment in proptech, it has given us the ability to collate that data and deliver it quickly to our clients.” Check any prime slice of real estate in today’s market and there is a strong chance that Savills will be acting as promoter. It has been involved in Boland Mills, located between the inner basin of Grand Canal Dock and Barrow Street, since 2012 when it made a successful submission into the SDZ for the docklands. Subsequently, Savills delivered and secured the first planning permission under that new SDZ by Dublin City Council. It appointed a contractor to build out the scheme and in the last nine months, it has agreed a forward sale of the entire campus to Google. “We have pre-sold all the accommodation. It is a

combination of 42 apartments, offices and a significant element of retail and it is due for completion by the final quarter of this year,” says Reynolds. Savills is also involved in the sale of lands in Clonborris where over 100 acres have been zoned for residential development in a project which will ultimately deliver over 2000 homes in West Dublin. It is similar in scale to the Adamstown development in Lucan. While Reynolds expects house prices to moderate in 2019, he warns that there is no quick fix to the current supply shortfall. “Development by its nature is slow and our planning process still takes time. A scheme can take between 12 to 18 months just to do the construction, so while the number of developments has increased, we won’t see the applications which are currently going through system for another 3 years.

Mark Reynolds, Deputy Managing Director, Savills Ireland

“The secret to our success is that we recruit, retain and motivate the best people. In all the areas we focus on, you find that the knowledge, expertise and professionalism that we bring to the table is unmatched.” “People talk about the labour shortage but the bigger issue is that we don’t have the same number of contracting firms that we had twelve years ago. A huge component part of that was decimated. They are coming back but for the big projects you require a substantial contractor with a large balance sheet. That will return in time but at the moment they are few and far between. “I think the Government has done a lot to help in terms of changing the planning application process and guidelines but my message would be “no more tweaks”. A paralysis takes hold every time a tweak is proposed and everyone sits around and waits to see what impact it will have. It results in a long period of inactivity. We need time to absorb the changes that have been made and allow time for the market to respond.” Does Reynolds believe the massive level of investment by global technology giants Google and Facebook in facilities in Dublin and Cork signal a sustained commitment into the future on the part of these companies? “Absolutely,” he says. “You see it with Facebook taking over the former AIB Bank centre. That is a significant investment and a big commitment in terms of new space. We are also seeing it with Salesforce, Google and Intel’s planning application in Leixlip. They are obviously going to be here over the longer term to see the benefit of those investments and we don’t see any let up in the appetite or drive to expand their business this year.”

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The Housing Challenge A resolution of the housing crisis is among the biggest challenges facing the Government and failing to rein-in soaring house price inflation could threaten Ireland’s economic prospects, according to Deloitte.

Promote offsite construction – Actively encourage the growth of this industry to deliver lower cost and quicker supply of housing.

Despite some economic uncertainty caused by Brexit negotiations and the potential direct consequences on this country, Ireland has continued to perform well across all key economic metrics in comparison to our European neighbours with the unemployment rate averaging 5.7% and GDP growing by 8.2% in 2018. However, a major challenge to our continued national recovery is our capacity to resolve the current housing crisis. OECD estimates indicate that Ireland’s housing output has dropped more significantly than any other advanced economy in the last 15 years. Housing and sustainable urban development is identified as a strategic investment priority in the National Development Plan (2018 – 2027). Resolving the systematic factors underlying the current housing crisis is at the heart of the NDP with a significant uplift in delivery volumes targeted in existing builtup areas of city and urban areas. The fundamental reason underpinning the current homeless, rental and house price crises is a chronic lack of housing supply in the market. Government has sought to address supply through a range of direct and indirect measures including the introduction of new financing arrangements and planned changes to building regulations to improve density in urban areas. The complexity and breadth of the housing development lifecycle and the intertwined market and delivery issues means there is no ‘silver bullet’ solution to the problems that exist. However, understanding the lifecycle and the differentiation between the three housing sectors (private, affordable and

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social) does help with the identification of key constraints and potential solutions for each sector.

Land While recent tax reforms and the introduction of a vacant site levy may discourage land hoarding, the cost of developing enabling infrastructure and the associated development contributions are prohibitively expensive. The establishment of the Land Development Agency should help tackle certain issues particularly the use of State-owned land for housing delivery, however the issue is complex and requires multiple approaches. Deployment of infrastructure funds – The Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF), launched in July 2018, has an objective of stimulating residential and commercial development in our larger cities and towns. With €550m allocated to the fund up to the end of 2022, the URDF can be an important platform to facilitate the development of muchneeded enabling infrastructure in key urban areas. Ensuring the appropriate enabling infrastructure to develop land is in place is critical, however the investment in the required infrastructure to deal with larger populations is vital. n Utilise state-owned land – All land owned by the State or State-owned entities should be identified and, where practical, utilised. The Land Development Agency should help to start this process however timelines need to be advanced to deal with the immediate issues.


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Housing and sustainable urban development is identified as a strategic investment priority in the National Development Plan (2018 – 2027). Resolving the systematic factors underlying the current housing crisis is at the heart of the NDP with a significant uplift in delivery volumes targeted in existing built-up areas of city and urban areas. n Offset any enabling works or site costs completed by the developer against development contributions chargeable. To qualify for this relief, the developer would need to prove that any savings made are passed through to the end customer. n Discourage land-hoarding – the vacant site levy was introduced by Government as a measure to dissuade the hoarding of private land. The effectiveness of the levy to promote utilisation of land is to be determined with the appeals process in place, enabling landowners to challenge the basis for inclusion of sites. n Develop a brownfield and high-density strategy – Government should identify all brownfield sites and areas of low density within the boundaries of Ireland’s five cities and develop a strategy through CPOs, Section 23, Build to Rent and other means to encourage densification. This will also support longer-term brownfield development targets.

Planning While the National Planning Framework should help address inconsistencies between local authority and national planning rules, a lack of local authority resourcing and divergent administrative approaches may continue to slow decision making. n Explore feasibility of shared services in planning – new service delivery models such as shared services should be explored for some aspects of the planning application and inspection process (e.g. initial validation of submissions). n Amend planning requirements – while some of this has been done, more effort must be made to incentivise urban residential and apartment development.

Cost The costs of construction, despite nationally rising sales prices, mean it is economically unviable to develop social or affordable housing (particularly apartments) in certain parts of the country. Indeed, given affordability levels, it is often challenging to make any housing development economically viable. The Central Bank rules on mortgage borrowing is essentially setting a cap on sales prices for the majority of first time buyers which, when considered against the cost of construction and land, makes the economics of developing quite challenging. Some potential solutions include: n Promote offsite construction – Actively encourage the growth of this industry to deliver lower cost and quicker

supply of housing. n Consider introducing rollover relief for capital gains tax for a residential investor who sells a residential property and reinvests the proceeds in residential property development. n Reduce the VAT rate from 13.5% to 9% for all construction related services, however efforts should be made to ensure this saving is passed to the buyer. n Develop framework agreements for social housing – Government should procure social housing via large, high volume, long spanning framework agreements delivering economies of scale for developers. The Social Housing PPP projects are a start at this however more can be done. n Incentivise technology adoption – such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) to drive efficiencies in operations and delivery. n Promote viability of regional development – provide tax incentives for investors to buy and develop land in urban areas outside Dublin, aligned with the National Planning Framework. n Security of Supply – should a disorderly (no-deal) Brexit occur, additional costs and some delays may impact imported supplies. This will add to the cost of construction. n Availability of Skilled Labour – during the financial crisis much of our skilled construction labour left the market and the next generation of potential workers did not enter the relevant collegecourses in sufficient quantities to meet current demand. The limited level of skilled labour available adds to cost and capability issues. Future focus on the employment market is important to grow the overall market capacity. n Value Capture – every effort should be made by the Public Sector to capture a share of enhanced values generated (directly or indirectly) from State investments or the use of State assets. A key area where this might be utilised is in the national transport grid. A prime example of this concept in action is the over-site redevelopment of Euston Station in London which represents a 3 million sq ft mixed use development comprising residential, office and retail space.

Financing Tighter credit requirements from banks means developers (particularly smaller developers) cannot access capital or are driven to alternative, more expensive sources of capital. Even when debt is available, high costs make it difficult to provide required minimum equity returns in line with lending ratios. Public residential development is also limited by an inability or

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The fundamental reason underpinning the current homeless, rental and house price crises is a chronic lack of housing supply in the market. unwillingness of local authorities to take on debt. n Increase clarity around funding platforms – With the expansion in the number of State funding platforms (including the establishment of Home Building Finance Ireland in 2018) it is important that a framework is implemented which outlines clearly the mandate for each State-backed funder, the process for loan applications and any requirements from applicants up front. This would help expedite the funding process. n Asset recycling - The State should look at all assets which may be excess to requirements and investigate if the sale/ long term lease of these assets could generate capital amounts that could be used to further support housing/infrastructure investment. The LDA addresses this in part however assets beyond land should be considered by the State.

On-site Delivery Lengthy utility connection times and regulatory burdens slow the pace of delivery. Labour supply will also be increasingly challenging as demand for housing, infrastructure and commercial construction increases. n Measuring housing completions – Capture all new residential development through the commencement and completion notice process under the Building Control Management System to accurately track new housing output. n Utilities connection – Create a central utilities department to centrally manage the connections of utilities per site rather than requiring project managers to liaise with multiple bodies.

Rental Despite upward trends in rental prices, investors continue to leave this market based on available yields. There is an increasing level of Private Rental Schemes (PRS) with Institutional Investors which may increase volumes in the future. The increased valuations of these schemes relative to the individual unit values indicates the value of regular rental cashflows on a larger scale. To develop this further, there needs to be a behavioural change in Ireland where long term rental is socially acceptable. This also requires certain protections for landlords and tenants to allow this. n Sustainable tenure – longer-term tenures should be promoted to provide sustainable rental options for citizens as an alternative to owner-occupancy. This could be facilitated by encouraging greater levels of institutional investment in the sector. Reduced uncertainty and fluctuation would help promote an attitudinal shift towards long term renting, as is accepted practice in other European countries. n Capital gains – For those renting out properties, reduce the capital gains rate for long term ownership e.g. 10% rate if owned for ten years.

Renovation/End of Life

Sale

Census figures indicate there are c.200k vacant homes in Ireland which could alleviate the current deficit through renovation. The establishment of the Vacant Homes Unit by the Minister is aimed at enabling local authorities to identify vacancy hotspots, particularly in areas where there is a high demand for homes.

Time for conveyancing is on average 22 weeks while the global average for property transfer is 11 weeks. n Conveyancing – provide the requisite support to ensure that the Law Society’s e-conveyancing project is implemented as swiftly as possible.

It is clear that there is a housing crisis in Ireland that needs to be solved but the solution is complex and multifaceted. It will require a mix of public and private sector cooperation in order to address this however if solved, the overall country will benefit with sustained economic growth to the benefit of all.

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THE FUTURE OF PROPERTY INVESTING Property Bridges is funding housing projects nationwide through our online model of peer to peer community lending. www.propertybridges.com

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In the News The latest news from the construction industry

OVER BUDGET BUILDS

MISSED TARGETS Despite the ongoing housing crisis almost half of local authorities around the country were unable to reach their targets for building social homes last year. Fourteen of the country’s 31 councils missed the building targets set by Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy. Galway City Council achieved just 25% of its target for social housing builds putting it at the bottom of the rankings for social housing delivery and Mr Murphy has established a task force to aimed at boosting the supply of social housing in the area. Other local authorities which failed to meet their build targets included Westmeath (34%), Wicklow (55%), Carlow

(69%), and Wexford (75%). The country’s largest local authority, Dublin City Council, also fell short with 850 units built out of a target of 1,045 homes. Nationwide, there was a delivery rate in social housing build targets of 97% as 17 local authorities, including both councils in Cork, met or exceeded their targets. In the Dáil, Minister Murphy acknowledged national social house building delivery was “marginally below target” but argued it is up 85% on 2017. In total, 8,422 new homes were brought into the social housing stock through builds, acquisitions, voids and leasing programmes in 2018. Just 2,022 of these were homes that were built directly by local authorities.

More than 90% of health and education capital projects have cost more than expected, according to Michael McGrath, Fianna Fáil. McGrath said it is “deeply concerning” that 35 out of the 38 major schemes completed since 2010 had exceeded the agreed bill. “Of the 15 major school building projects completed since 2010, every one ended up costing more than the agreed tender price. In health, 20 of the 23 major capital projects since 2010 ended up costing more than the agreed contract price. The total extra amount paid above and beyond what was contracted was €30.5m.”

€71M GRANT BOOST FOR ELDERLY Minister for Housing and Urban Development Damien English has announced that €71.25m is being made available this year for Housing Adaption Grants for older people and those with a disability. The funding supports private home adaptations and will enable recipients to remain living independently in their own homes for longer. It also facilitates early return from hospital. Minister English said: “These grants have an immense impact on quality of life.”

RATE HIKE WORRIES Many mortgages are vulnerable to rate increases from the European Central Bank, according to new research by the ESRI and the Department of Finance. It found lower-income owners at an earlier stage of their contract are at greater risk, as are those with tracker mortgages.

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| Engineering | Facilities | Modular

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PRICE PROJECTIONS House prices in Ireland are expected to continue to rise over the next 12 months. A Real Estate Alliance Group (REA) survey finds that prices are expected to rise by an average of 4.2% in the next 12 months, although the prospect of a hard Brexit is causing some uncertainty in the market. The prediction of further increases in property prices comes on the back of a 4.6% rise nationally in 2018 with the average house now selling for €249,472. The REA Average House Price Survey concentrates on the sale price of Ireland’s typical stock home, the three-bed semi, to give an up-todate picture of the second-hand property market in towns and cities countrywide. Agents in Dublin city are predicting a rise of 2.8% in the next 12 months, with north county Dublin climbing by 4% and south county Dublin by 3.5%. It follows a 4.64% increase in the capital last year, a trend which motivated many buyers to flock to commuter areas outside the capital. In Cork city, prices will rise more than 4% according to local real estate agents. Outside of Dublin, Cork has experienced the slowest growth of the Irish cities, increasing by 2.4% annually to an average price of €317,500. The REA survey predicts that the price of an average three-bed semi in Waterford city is expected to rise by 10% in the next 12 months. It is the biggest increase predicted anywhere in the country, matched only by County Longford, and follows a 7.7% rise in prices in Waterford city in 2018, with prices now at an average of €210,000. The price of an average three-bed semi in County Kerry and County Kilkenny is expected to increase by 2%, according to the survey, with Limerick (4%) and Galway (5%) also climbing upwards. The average semi-detached house nationally now costs €236,287, the Q4 REA Average House Price Survey finds. Overall, the average house price across the country rose by 4.6% in 2018, down from 11.3% in 2017.

BUILDING DIVERSITY

RURAL PASSPORT

Ireland’s building sites are shedding their reputation as the last bastion of chauvinism. A new survey has found that 73% of women in the building trade believe the attitudes of their male colleagues have changed for the better. And while half have faced issues over female-friendly facilities on sites, 85% said they would recommend construction as a career. Pat Lucey, Construction Industry Federation said: “Promoting greater diversity is the right thing to do, and not just because of the current skills shortages.”

Dublin City councillors have voted to reintroduce the rural resettlement programme which helped 800 families to relocate to rural counties in the 1990s and 2000s. The programme was managed by rural resettlement Ireland which was closed when the Department of Housing withdrew funding in 2012. Brendan Kenny, the city’s deputy chief executive would like to see a similar system established on a more formal basis with local authorities around the country and says that being on the social housing list in Dublin should qualify applicants in every local authority around the country. Currently, households can only apply to one local authority at a time for social housing support but the Department of Housing has said that the idea of a housing passport is under consideration.

SOCIAL HOUSING QUOTAS

CALLING A CARAVAN A HOME Homeowners may be allowed to put mobile homes in their back garden in an effort to alleviate the pressure for housing. The motion was supported by Dublin City Council recently although many said they would have opposed the proposal if the housing situation was not so serious. Cllr Ruth Nolan, who proposed the motion said: “I agree with everyone who says it’s not ideal, I wouldn’t advocate it normally. “If we don’t face it today, it’s going to have to be faced down the line.”

The Construction Industry Federation has cautioned against imposing further obligations on private developers to build more social housing. A move to double the number of social homes on private development sites has received substantial support from the Oireachtas. At present developers have to allocate 10% of any scheme of over 10 houses for social housing purposes but the new proposal suggests to increase the allocation to 25%. Hubert Fitzpatrick, Director of the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) said the initiative would do nothing to support house building. He also said it would be a deterrent to house building and erode the viability of building sites around the country.

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CALL TO EXTEND 1ST TIME BUYERS GRANT DIGITALISATION OF CONSTRUCTION Significant advances in information technology are driving substantial change in the construction industry. Building Information Modelling (BIM) involves the digitalisation of the construction industry through a combination of technology and standardisation and uses the digitalisation of physical and functional characteristics of places. To support this change the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) has published a new BIM pack for use across the construction industry. The online resource is aimed at architects and architectural technologists as well as clients, industry professionals and educators.

FULL STEAM AHEAD The construction industry is predicted to grow by 20% this year, according to a report from engineering multi-national AECOM which says output should reach €24bn in 2019. Three-quarters of industry leaders surveyed by the firm said they were positive about the future of the industry here. However, only 15% said they were equipped to deal with a growing skills shortage. While housing output is due to increase again this year, Director of AECOM in Ireland John O’Regan said

Considerable opportunities are available to organisations and individuals who adopt BIM. It gives architecture, engineering, and construction professionals the insight and tools to more efficiently plan, design, and construct buildings and infrastructure. RIAI CEO Kathryn Meghen said: “Technology has the potential to transform construction in the same way it has transformed other industries. Through the development of the RIAI BIM Pack, the RIAI has created a platform for the construction industry to modernise our business. By moving to a digital process, with standardisation at the core, we can achieve increased efficiency without any loss in quality.” The BIM Pack can be accessed at www.riai.ie

it is still lagging behind demand. Mr O’Regan said: “Strongest growth has been in Dublin and it has been in the commercial, office sector. Now, the residential output did increase significantly last year and we see it increasing in the year ahead. “I think the challenge is that it is coming from a very low base and with the increase in output in 2019, it’s not going to make a significant dent in the shortfall.”

The construction sector is calling for a five year extension to the first-time buyers grant which is due to end this year. The Help to Buy scheme has assisted over 10,000 first time buyers on to the property ladder at a cost of €147m to the Exchequer. The scheme is due to close on December 31st this year and Director of Housing at the Construction Industry Federation, Hubert Fitzpatrick has said that it should be kept in place for a further 5 years. “There’s a major affordability issue and the grant has been the greatest asset to first-time buyers,” he said. “We urgently need a decision from Government that it be extended. Without that confirmation, we will have uncertainty in the market and that, ultimately, may affect increased housing supply to come on the market in 2020 and beyond.”

DEAR RENTER Dublin is now the fifth most expensive city to rent a home in Europe and pricier than Paris, Amsterdam and Stockholm, according to research from ECA International. The average cost of a three-bed home in Dublin is now €3,406 per month, according to the company which provides information to multinationals to help them manage staff. London, Moscow, Zurich and Geneva are the most expensive cities to rent, with Dublin in 5th place and a new entrant to the list.

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Tackling the Housing Crisis Fidelma McManus, Partner and Head of Housing at Beauchamps, which was named 2018 Irish Law firm of the Year at the annual Irish Law awards last year, assesses the key initiatives which have been put in place to tackle the housing crisis and examines their effectiveness.

It comes as no surprise that in 2018 The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government were advised that the housing situation in Ireland would get worse in 2019. Latest figures show that 50% of people who become homeless are from the private rental sector and with rents escalating rapidly, there will be a continuing flow into homelessness until radical action is taken. The latest figures from the Department of Housing show that more than 10,000 people accessed local authority managed emergency accommodation in February 2019. The key issue remains the same: there is a lack of supply to the market. In simple economic terms, supply is not meeting the demand. What are the latest solutions being proposed to address the critical housing issue and how effective are they likely to be?

1) The Home Building Finance Ireland Act 2018 On the 3rd of December 2018 the Home Building Finance Ireland (HBFI) Act came into force. Its main aim is for the HBFI to make finance available for residential development in the State.

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Traditional lenders remain active in the market however they are more cautious than before and whilst new lenders have entered the market there is still a shortfall of funding available to developers. The introduction of HBFI is a measure designed to provide access to funding to developers and to deal with the current shortage of funding. The Act envisages the HBFI as an independent body in the performance of its functions which may lend money for the purpose of funding of residential development in the State. Such lending however must be on commercial terms. Its focus is to contribute to the economic and social development of the State and enhance the competitiveness of the economy.

What are the limitations/challenges faced by the HBFI? Under EU rules the HBFI must be on the same market rates and terms as competitors in the market. The HBFI is effectively a commercial lender. Accordingly, it needs to ensure that any commercial activity carried out is on the market equivalent terms of its competitors which in this scenario would be the


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traditional lenders and the new lenders that have recently entered the market. The total amount loaned or paid at any time by the HBFI shall not at any time exceed ₏750,000,000. This means that it will only be able to supply a small percentage of the funding that is required in order to bring housing supply up to the level needed. The HBFI’s role is solely that of a commercial lender to the market. It will not have any involvement in the development stage or process and therefore will have no control over how the money is spent by the developers or the functionality of the delivery of new houses to the market. So whilst it is welcome progress and should address some of the deficiencies with regards the lack of funding available to certain smaller developers, there are obvious limitations and the real effect and success of HBFI throughout 2019 and beyond remains to be seen.

2) The removal of height restrictions on buildings in cities and large towns Another obvious issue adding to the housing crisis is the lack of space in our cities and large towns for development. This has been compounded by the height restrictions on buildings imposed on developers by local authorities. A knock on effect

of this is the emergence of urban sprawl. This has seen the commuter belt extend further and further away from cities and large towns and does not represent a viable solution. Limits on the heights of buildings have now been abolished in all cities and large towns which is a radical change to our planning laws. The new changes are guided by the National Planning Framework in response to Department of Housing guidelines. The Framework envisages future population growth will be largely focused in existing built up areas. In comparison to other cities throughout the world, Dublin is very much a low-rise city. However, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy is one of the key members trying to change this in order to find solutions to help our worsening housing crisis. The first major building development taking advantage of the decision to scrap height caps has just been granted planning permission by An Bord Pleanala for 380 apartments in seven blocks up to eight storeys high on Griffith Avenue. The application initially faced opposition from local councillors on the grounds that the proposed development would be in contravention of the local authority’s development plan and substantially breach the height limits for the area. The decision to grant permission for the high rise development, notwithstanding the opposition, is a positive one with favourable implications for future high rise building proposals. What are the limitations/challenges faced?

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the RTB. Providing a legal definition of “substantial change in the nature of accommodation provided under the tenancy”.

Limitations/challenges of the proposed amendments

Fidelma Mc Manus Partner and Head of Housing Beauchamps Notwithstanding the ability to now build upwards, it remains significantly more expensive to do so. There are more planning issues to consider. Fire safety issues become more relevant. More lifts are required. All of this means that construction costs are higher. This in turn means the cost of purchase or renting for the consumer is higher. Higher buildings mean longer construction periods. This delays the delivery of more properties to the market in the immediate future. There is likely to be ongoing local opposition to high rise development in certain areas and, although such opposition has not been successful to date, it is likely to lead to delays in obtaining planning permission and only time will tell if further challenges will be faced by developers seeking to take advantage of the decision to abolish height limits.

3) Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Bill 2018 The Government approved the publication of the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) Bill in December 2018. The Bill contains a number of measures, designed to enhance and strengthen the powers of the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) and tackle some of the difficulties in the private rental dwelling market. Among the measures are: Providing powers for the RTB to investigate and sanction landlords who engage in improper conduct, including raising rent above permitted levels in rent pressure zones (RPZ) and the power to initiate an investigation without receiving a complaint from tenants. Making it a criminal offence for landlords to implement rent increases that contravene the law, that do not adhere to new definitions of a substantial change, failure to cooperate with an investigation and failure to register and update tenancies with

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The deliberate and flagrant breach of the rent restrictions in RPZ’s was the trigger for the onerous sanctions proposed under the Bill. Up to November 2018 some 331 disputes over rent reviews, mostly in RPZ’s were referred to the RTB. However, the Bill does not address what will happen when these RPZ’s expire. It is likely that the Bill will be amended as it continues its legislative passage as there is a genuine concern among tenants as to what protection, if any, they will have when the RPZ expire. A legal definition of “substantial improvement” has been long overdue. This was a mechanism being exploited by landlords to increase the rent (outside the permitted thresholds in RPZ’s) where minimal alteration actually took place. The question is whether the current definition is tight enough — it validly includes reference to the requirement for additional rooms, however it does not address if a room is sub divided (which can be done quite easily) and whether this would suffice? Criticism has also been levied at the Building Energy Regulation upgrade provision and the fact that arguably a BER upgrade may not require a massive change or significant alteration. We have already seen difficulties faced in relation to previous amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act. The Tyrellstown Amendment was introduced to prevent the sale of 10 or more rented units in a development at any one time. However in the last couple of weeks there have been reports of 9 tenants being served with termination notices in an apartment block in west Dublin and 15 tenants served with termination notices in north Dublin, where the Landlords have stated that the Tyrellstown Amendment does not apply due to undue hardship that would occur to them if they were forced to sell the units without vacant possession. Minister Eoghan Murphy is currently in consultation with the Residential Tenancies Board and we await hearing of the outcome of the discussions. An Oireachtas Housing Committee report in February 2019 has been critical of the Government’s approach to solving the Housing crisis and has raised a number of concerns relating to construction in Ireland post-Brexit. It warned that delays in construction completion times could occur if there are changes to the Customs Union following Brexit and said the Government needed to apply a more dynamic thinking to solving the housing crisis going forward. It recommended that housing protections such as RPZ’s needed to be strengthened to protect tenants affected by sharp increases in housing demand. It remains to be seen if the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill 2018 can help and if the RTB can really enforce these new proposed powers. It also remains to be seen if the Home Building Finance Ireland Act will help to deliver the necessary funding to developers to allow them to provide new homes to market. We will watch this space with interest to see if urban centres in Ireland will become more ‘high-rise’ in the future. What is clear however is that there is an urgent need to find results and help resolve the housing crisis in Ireland.


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Unlocking the Property Market Property Bridges is on a mission to bring high quality, peer-to-peer property lending to Ireland and offer a serious alternative to bank loans. Managing Director David Jelly talks to Public Sector Magazine.

In recent years a swathe of industries and professions have been transformed beyond recognition by the disruptive influence of technology. The extent of the upheaval wrought by technological innovation is particularly evident in sectors such as retail, communications, transport and tourism but few sectors have escaped its pervasive impact. The banking and financial sectors, traditionally slow to depart from age old practices continues to wrestle with the potential implications of alternative funding models facilitated by the advent of new technology. For the first time in generations the sector is facing concerted competition from techsavvy and agile new market entrant’s intent on circumventing outmoded lending practices and capturing a slice of the lucrative market.

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One example close to home, is Property Bridges, a company established last year by Armagh native, David Jelly, which offers a radical new lending solution to small and medium sized builders and developers operating in Ireland. The reluctance of Irish banks to provide funding to the new builders and developers that emerged following the decimation of the construction industry during the financial crisis has been routinely cited as a contributory factor in the failure to regenerate the industry and adequately address the ongoing housing supply deficit. Jelly who had returned to Ireland following a 5-year stint working with UBS in Australia and US investment bank Jefferies in London sensed an opportunity in the seemingly intractable stagnation in the lending market and generally


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dysfunctional property sector. He had been struck by the story of the BD Bacata, the tallest Colombia skyscraper in Columbia which was built in 2012 and financed by thousands of ordinary citizen and felt certain the principals could be modified to provide a potential solution to the Irish problem. Last April he left his job at fintech start-up, Eagle Alpha, where he had spent almost five years and focussed on establishing Property Bridges which operates from the NDRC in Dublin. An online peer-to-peer crowdfunding platform which connects investors to experienced property developers, Property Bridges aims to unlock the property market for investors and provide new funding avenues for small property developers “We are essentially a marketplace for property finance,” says Jelly. “After the financial crash, a lot of banks involved in property lending exited the market entirely and for almost a decade, small to medium sized builders and developers have found it virtually impossible to secure any source of finance at all. “The market landscape is completely different to what it was ten years ago and alternative lenders, most of which have connections to private equity and UK investment funds, are starting to dominate the marketplace. Property Bridges is completely different, we’re a peer-to-peer model, our online platform removes the need for intermediaries and middlemen and opening up attractive property investment opportunities for ordinary citizens as well as retail and institutional investors. “While I was working in London, I could see that disruption was already impacting the equity markets as well as small business lending and individual loans. I researched the peer-to-peer models in the UK and looked at the success of Linked Finance in Ireland which provides peer-to-peer loans to businesses. I thought it represented an ideal solution in the context of the difficulties affecting the Irish market. Property Bridges is a very similar model to the very successful companies you see operating in the UK and US and gives ordinary investors access to the property market while at the same time providing finance to small and medium-sized construction firms which have been starved of funding. “Previously the only people who would have had access to these loans were very high net worth individuals and institutions like the banks. While there is significant risk attached to property development, we put everything in place to minimise the risks involved. We have a conservative approach to lending, all our loans go through a robust due diligence process and we secure our projects by taking first legal

charge over the development site. This provides an added level of security to the investment. We typically offer returns of between 7% and 9% to investors, which is an attractive return given the risks involved.” Property Bridges is a rare win-win venture. From as little as €500 investors can invest in projects previously far out of reach and have all the risk assessment, due diligence, appraisals, legal work and administrative requirements carried out by an experienced team of property and financial experts. Meanwhile, builders and developers eager to embark on new projects have access to a valuable source of non-bank lending. As opposed to typical institutional and pension related investments, investors signed up to Property Bridges also have a direct link to their investment. They importantly have discretion and control where their money is invested and can choose whether to commit their funds in residential developments or community related projects or in time to commercial ventures such as shopping centres or nursing developments. Investors to date have ranged from teenagers to those well beyond retirement age and the highest single investment has been €85,000. The loans are typically short term in nature ranging from three months to three years. Jelly also references recent figures from the Central Bank which reveal that Irish consumers remain cautious and are keeping their money on deposit at record levels - despite the near zero rate of return. Lending also remains sluggish with a modest 0.5% increase on an annual basis and the volume of deposits held in Irish banks which now stands at over €100.6bn exceeds the volume of loans in circulation by over €8bn. According to Jelly, this reflects a weak credit environment which will ultimately need to be addressed if the economy is to function to its full potential. While the emergence of alternative lenders was initially viewed with trepidation by banks and established lenders, David says there is now a growing appreciation of the mutual benefits which can arise though synergies and collaborations with new market entrants. “When they first began to emerge, a lot of banks would have viewed them as competitors and would have seen it as a zero-sum game,” he says. “However, you now see a lot of peer-to-peer lenders collaborating with the banks. In the UK, LendInvest are the market leaders in peer-to-per lending in the construction sector. They started out in 2013 as a peer-to-peer lender and when they established a track-record, institutional investors started investing through their platform and they began partnering with a number of banks.

“Property Bridges is a rare win-win venture. From

as little as €500 investors can

invest in projects previously far out of reach

and have all the risk assessment, due diligence, appraisals,

legal work and administrative requirements

carried out by an experienced team of property and

financial experts.”

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“Banks are increasingly collaborating with these types of platforms and it is becoming more and more mainstream. They no longer see it as a zero-sum game but as something from which both parties can benefit. Peer-to-peer crowdfunding vehicles provide a very easy to use straightforward online platform for banks that are focused and looking at one specific area of the market while at the same time banks can provide credibility and market reach to these lenders. “I think both the alternative lenders and the bank have a role to play. A very large development with a few hundred homes is probably better suited to a bank while we are often a better fit for small-medium sized developments in the €500K to €5m range. We can better serve small to medium sized developers who need speed and flexibility while banks need a certain size and scale to put in the resources to manage the loan. The first project seeking investment on the site - a one-year project for a house in Sandycove in Dublin - was launched last October and the €250,000 sought by the borrower was raised in just two weeks. Prior to going live with the Sandycove loan, Jelly with Marc Rafferty, a cofounder of Link Finance who became the first angel investor in the company and provided invaluable advice and guidance in promoting and managing their first live venture. A formal launch in the Conrad Hotel in the week prior to the launch attracted considerable interest and a targeted PR campaign which included a promotional video and site visit was also instrumental in the success of the Sandycove scheme. “We worked tirelessly and did all we could to promote that loan,” recalls Jelly. “It t took us just two weeks to raise €250,000 and we were delighted and relieved. It proved that our instincts had been correct. We are property mad as a nation which shows in the incredible diversity among our lenders which range in age from nineteen to people well into their 70s. We also have a considerable number of expats living abroad and earning good money which they want to invest back in Ireland. Two of our biggest lenders were female. “Overall, the level of interest has been staggering. Our

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second loan was for a scheme of six social houses in Kilkenny and the builder was seeking to raise €600,000. We raised the first tranche of €200,000 in just two days and later raised the final for €400,000 in three days.” While Property Bridges is currently focussed on the shortterm finance market, Jelly says the company is likely to venture into other investment products in the longer terms. “That is something we plan to look at,” he says. “We would like to have a range of investment products for our investors but at the present time it is just bridging and development financing. We want to establish ourselves in the market, build a good track record and grow our community of investors and developers before we look at more mainstream products. For a year prior to the Sandycove launch Jelly had been assembling a team with the expertise necessary to ensure expert diligence is carried out in relation to the risk assessment on all loans provided. This is key to the success of Property Bridges and an ability to identify suitable, low-risk projects with strong investment fundamentals will be critical to building its investment community and ensuring repeat custom. In addition to appointing a head of credit and portfolio management and head of operations with almost 40 years combined experienced in real estate, Property Bridges also work with OCFPM, a real estate consultancy business, who carry out an extensive report on each project the company is associated with. All investors have access to each of the documents produced. It also works with legal partners are LK Shields. Often times, the best ideas come from emulating ventures that have provided successful in other jurisdictions. Jelly has introduced an exciting new lending and investment vehicle capable of galvanising Ireland’s vast interest in property and working to the benefit of citizens, builders and developers. “2019 is all about growth and establishing ourselves in the market and building on our processes, underwriting and due diligence. The overall goal is to become the go to place for property financing in Ireland in 3 to 5 years and build up a vibrant community of lenders and borrowers,” he says.


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Moving Ireland towards a cleaner energy future. Naturally, everyone wants clean, affordable and efficient energy. Thanks to natural gas, our network already connects Irish homes, businesses and industries with exactly this. And now we’re preparing to introduce renewable gas into our network, we’re moving Ireland towards an even cleaner energy future. Discover how natural gas and renewable gas are changing your energy future at gasnetworks.ie/progress #ProgressNaturally

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All Roads Lead to Longford Construction is well advanced at the 400-acre site in Newcastle Wood, County Longford which was selected as the location for Center Parcs first and only Irish resort. When complete, the facility which is located close to Ballymahon will accommodate up to 2,500 guests and provide over 1,000 full time jobs. It is one of a number of prominent projects which have been launched in the county in recent years.

County Longford is rapidly transforming into a progressive and confident county and is enjoying a significant upturn in economic fortunes driven by a number of large-scale projects being developed within its county boundaries. The catalyst for this lift has undoubtedly been the decision by Center Parcs back in 2015 to choose the County as the base for its only dedicated Irish resort. This decision to build a €230 million resort outside Ballymahon has brought the County to the fore as a possible investment location, particularly for firms like Center Parcs that are looking for accessible market reach to all four corners of the country. In fact, Longford’s central location in the heart of Ireland has now become one of its major assets as businesses and investors seek feasible locations within easy reach of the capital, but with

a much lower cost base. Longford Local Authority has a proud track record of efficiently accommodating the needs of companies interested in investing in Longford and the Local Authority under the stewardship of Chief Executive, Paddy Mahon has developed a reputation as a pro-business county. According to Mahon the experience of working with Center Parcs was a particularly positive one and the full range of Local Authority services has been made available to the Center Parcs team to ensure that the project moved smoothly through the different development stages. “From planning and building control to roads and utility services, the Local Authority was at the heart of everything needed to make this development a success,” he says, “Over €2m

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Paddy Mahon, Chief Executive Longford County Council

County Longford is a significant hub on some of the has been secured to improve road access to the Center Parcs resort, a dedicated broadband line has been rolled out and the capacity of the local water treatment infrastructure has been enhanced. “However, probably the greatest infrastructural achievement was to secure a gas network supply for Center Parcs.” A business case was presented to central government justifying the delivery of the gas network into County Longford for the first time and a further case is now being presented to extend that pipeline into Edgeworthstown and Longford Town to enhance the appeal of those locations as investment locations. While justifiably proud of how successfully the partnership approach with Center Parcs has operated, Mahon says that the greatest sense of satisfaction derived from how well the Local Authority worked with the local community throughout every step of the process. “Communicating with the local community was an uppermost priority and every effort was made to ensure that community needs and concerns were addressed and that the community was routinely consulted and kept informed and always felt that they had the ear of the county council,” Mahon says. Center Parcs has employed 800

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persons during the construction phase and up to 1000 employees will be on-site once the resort opens in August 2019. However, Mahon stresses that the level of disruption and impact of this massive development had been, and will continue to be, successfully minimised thanks to the cooperation of all stakeholders involved. While acknowledging that County Longford may be a relatively small county in terms of scale, the Longford County Council chief points out that it is a significant hub on some of the most important transport corridors in the country, linking east with west and north with south. It also boasts a dynamic economic base, which features a number of significant and well-known national and international brands and operators. High profile employers operating within the county include Abbott Ireland, Pat the Baker, Kiernan Structural Steel, Green Isle Foods, Panelto, Kiernan Milling, C&D Foods and Kepak among others drawing employees from the wider midlands into Longford every day. Longford County Council has an exciting range of potential projects lined up for 2019 and its executive is delighted to welcome anyone looking to add to the economic well-being of its citizens.

most important transport corridors in the country, linking east with west and north with south. It also boasts a dynamic economic base, which features a number of significant and well-known national and international brands and operators.


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Explore Longford Heart of the midlands‌

Longford is a friendly, bright, bustling town with excellent restaurants, pubs, boutiques and shopping outlets, a cinema, theatre & centre for the arts and plenty of activities, both indoor and outdoor to keep the visitor occupied. A fine variety of social, cultural and sporting events as well as an eclectic mix of festivals take place in County Longford throughout the year. With activities to suit all tastes and ages both locals and visitors to the Longford area are kept entertained. Lying at a junction of a number of national roads which lead to many of the major towns of Ireland, it’s accessibility to the rest of the country make it a prime location as a holiday base.

www.longford.ie

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Shaping Ireland’s Architectural Future C+W O’Brien Architects is Ireland’s leading, award winning architectural practice. With over 35 years of experience and cuttingedge technologies, the practice is committed to delivering design-driven architectural solutions, that ensure value by design. With an outstanding team of over 50 people in their Dublin office alone, C+W O’Brien Architects is now one of the most widely known, innovative and creative architectural firms in Ireland. The practice believes that understanding their clients’ needs and goals helps them create solutions which provide added value to their clients. With the ability to manage projects from inception to completion, they offer design solutions that contribute to the built and urban environment, with lifelong appeal for future generations. C+W O’Brien Architects have a

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wide range of project types, from architecture, interior design, commercial, residential, master-planning and urban design in both the public and private sectors. Director, Arthur O’Brien is proud to lead a team which is keen to shape Ireland’s architectural future. “As a practice we stand out as one of the few architects with the range of skills to deliver large and complex projects with visionary design and world-class schemes. We are expanding our offices not only here in Dublin, but also into the Cork and Galway market in order to


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“We believe the role of the architect is more than simply design, it involves a comprehensive planning service in all building matters to deliver value by design. We aim to create functional spaces that take a holistic approach to our clients’ needs,” extend our reach.” he said. “We have been involved in some prestigious projects, that we are proud of as a team, because of the recognition they have obtained in the industry. Last year we were finalists at the Building and Architect of the Year Awards for three awards, Best Development, Sustainability Award, and Architectural Practice of the Year Award. We were also finalists for four awards at the Irish Construction Industry Awards, Commercial Project of the Year, Green Project of the Year, BIM Initiative of the Year, and Architecture Practice of the Year. At the Fit-Out Awards we were finalists as Fit Out Project of the Year - Large Office and Office New Build for our Goshawk project. We were selected as the outright winners for Architecture and Project Manager at the Public Sector Magazine, Excellence in Business Awards. We certainly believe that success is gained through a team effort and I’m confident in a bright future for C+W O’Brien Architects.” Among the many different projects C+W O’Brien Architects have in the pipeline, the firm is currently leading the way in modular design with Ireland’s largest modular project. This project located in Sandyford Industrial Estate will bring world-class student accommodation to Dublin. The project is set to provide a high-quality living experience with extensive on-site amenities at low cost, bringing much-needed student accommodation to the Dublin market. The project, designed by C+W O’Brien Architects, will mark Prime Living’s (Irl) first large scale venture into the Irish market. It stems from a previously granted permission for 147 residential apartments which increased to 817 student units.

Due to C+W O’Brien Architects efficient and innovative design approach, the site’s potential was unlocked and maximized. Reaching nine stories in height, the development marks the largest modular building in Ireland. The majority of the project is to be constructed through modular offsite prefabricated construction, and is set to start construction later this year. C+W O’Brien Architects offer the vision for design, combined with technical and commercial skills. As a result of a keen understanding of their clients’ requirements, they make sure to define objectives that reach their clients’ goals and turn these into reality. They aim to gain a level of partnership and trust with their clients, creating a positive work environment and achieving additional benefits for their business. “Our main concern is to meet our clients’ needs. We work very closely with clients, to give the best design solution. We produce customer-focused experiences taking into account functional and operational requirements,” O’Brien said. C+W O’Brien Architects commit to deliver innovative solutions to improve building performance. One of the firm’s main strengths is their multi-disciplinary team. They are constantly investing in high calibre staff, training and technology. They have experts in architecture, interior design, 3D animators, construction managers, BIM experts and design architects. Each of them makes sure that the client becomes part of the project and that together, they achieve commercial success. It is C+W O’Brien Architects’ vision to create architectural designs that are sustainable, creative, functional and innovative in the industry. “We believe the role of the architect is more than simply design, it involves a comprehensive planning service in all building matters to deliver value by design. We aim to create functional spaces that take a holistic approach to our clients’ needs,” O’Brien said. Regarding the recently published guidelines which remove height caps on new buildings, O’Brien believes that they present Ireland with the opportunity to grow in a more sustainable manner. “We strongly believe it is time to build upwards, this will mark the start of a new era for building developments in Dublin. As architects we are looking forward to creating a high quality of living in urban areas. With a strong development plan that tailors housing policies and local needs, we will be able to create developments that adapt to the city’s needs,” he said. “As a practice, we are excited by the challenges and the opportunities we see on the horizon and feel fully equipped to not only meet them but exceed them.”

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Synonymous with Sleep ‘Invest in two things, your shoes and your bed; sure if you’re not in one you’re in the other!’ David Briody, Director, Briody Beds recalls the popular catchphrase used by his father who founded the handmade bedding and furniture company in 1974.

Wise words that our founder Benny Briody was fond of saying! They are also the inspiration for our ethos of ‘producing up to a standard, not down to a price’, which has sustained our family run business employing 100 people in Ballinacree, Co Meath for over 45 years. Over the past four decades we have consistently produced quality bedroom furniture and mattresses leading to the Briody name becoming synonymous with great sleep; the type of deep, energising sleep from which you awake refreshed and ready for

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anything your day may throw at you! Our staff are experienced and skilled at their craft with some of them being with us for over 40 years. It’s in no small part down to their hard work and dedication to our brand that Briody Bedding was named ‘Manufacturer of the Year’ at the Meath Business Awards in 2016 and overall ‘Small Company of the Year 2018’ at the Small Firms Association National Awards. In addition, Briody Bedding is an accredited All-Star Brand Ambassador by the All-Ireland Business Foundation, a new


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national body aiming to renew consumer confidence in Irish made products and services. Most recently Briody Bedding were awarded the ‘Health & Safety Initiative of the Year’ at the Irish Manufacturing and Supply Chain Awards, an accolade we are very proud of! Our ability to manufacture bespoke mattress and bed foundation pieces in addition to our door-to-door delivery service gives us a distinct advantage in the market. We are the supplier of choice for the Irish hospitality industry including most recently Ireland’s newest holiday destination, Center Parcs Longford Forest. Having worked closely with their procurement team we were able to build a luxurious sleep set that will ensure guests can relax & recover from an activity filled day not to mention reenergising them for the day ahead! Clever storage within the divan base allows full utilisation of lodge space, an understandable concern for active families! Our future plans include working closely with homecare providers to manufacture a hospital grade bed that meets the real need of the person using it. Our research has shown that the main concerns of families in need of home health care centres around the bed. It reminds them of hospital and comes in only one size. Single. This separates couples who seldom sleep apart and further emphasises the new carer/patient role they find

themselves in. It takes away intimacy and adds unnecessary stress at an already difficult time. We are developing an upholstered bed with hidden lifting systems, disguised safety rails and most importantly, it will come in a range of sizes. We believe this could truly be transformative in the world of home health care in Ireland, perhaps globally and we are excited to bring it to the market later this year! While we can’t help with the shoes, you’re guaranteed an excellent return on your bed investment with Briody. Check out our website www. briodybeds.ie for more details and look forward to your best night’s sleep.

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Heart of the Home Kube Kitchens: Using innovative products and creative design to expand the kitchen. The current housing supply shortage in Ireland is curtailing activity in the market while forcing prices upwards. This is restricting the ability of homeowners who have outgrown their home and of those who wish to downsize, making their current home available to other buyers. The constraints disrupting the market are placing additional pressure on suppliers, according to Dave Fagan, brand manager with Kube Kitchens which has been focusing on providing solutions and support for individuals and families who have decided to improve their lifestyle in their current homes as well as providing for the needs of the building industry. “A family of four in a home they purchased as a first time buyer after being recently married might be looking for a larger family home,” says Dave. “On the other side, people whose children have moved on do not have the options they need to downsize so they can release their larger family homes back to the market. “It isn’t going to be a quick fix. Being clever about the way houses are designed in order to make the most of the sites that are going up is really what is needed. We recognise

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the difficulties, we see that builders on sites are building the houses, but it is not as quick and simple as saying we just need to keep throwing more money at it. It’s a matter of getting the tradesmen and getting the quality on site to build houses to a high standard. Otherwise, we are going to end up back in the same place we were last time.” Kube Kitchens have worked tirelessly to provide solutions centred on the use of intelligent design strategies to increase comfort, function and storage, and maximise the use of space. “We are making sure that we have the resources to support the needs of homeowners, buyers, and builders,” says Fagan. “With a supply chain that can handle scale and the right selection of products, we are able to support the needs of clients across all different facets of the market. As one of Ireland’s leading kitchen providers, Kube Kitchens has a unique insight into the needs of homeowners and the company’s award-winning designers work with architects and builders to help design kitchens that will meet the needs of the market and get the most out of the spaces available.


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Technical advances have also been instrumental in ensuring homeowners are no longer restricted by outdated kitchen design methods, according to Fagan who cites the example of built-in extraction on hobs and the far reaching impact they have had on kitchen design. “These allow you to condense the kitchen into a smaller space and they also require less preplanning like power and plumbing,” Fagan explains. “The old model of placing the hob on the wall and the sink on the window is no longer required. The freedom is there now for architects and kitchen planners to design spaces that work better for homeowners. With the flexibility of modern kitchen products it is easier to rearrange the kitchen, where previously it could require major construction to renovate a kitchen. Now there is not as much preplanning required to put, for instance, an induction hob into an island and remodelling the kitchen is not the major overhaul it once was.” In addition, kitchen products are not only getting better, they are also getting lighter, notes Fagan. “Transport costs are going down and products are becoming more eco-friendly,” he says. “At Kube, we purchase from manufacturers with the PEFC stamp which means that 75% of what is used in the kitchen is recyclable. They are made lighter for transport into houses and apartments and the less they weigh, the cheaper the transport and the lower the carbon footprint.” Meanwhile, innovative new storage solutions have reduced the requirement for furniture and ultimately kitchens have become more affordable and increasingly flexible - allowing for a greater range of options to design the ideal kitchen to suit a particular household.

Kube is aligned with the best and most efficient German kitchen products manufacturers, which enables the company to scale up without interruption. “The capacity is there to produce kitchens and we have the ability to scale up without overstressing our resources,” says Fagan. “If we order 500 kitchens, ovens, and hobs, they will still be delivered to the same timeline that would apply if we were only supplying one or two and there will be absolutely no reduction in quality. It would be a major problem if there were a compromise on quality in order to rush new housing to the market. We are able to supply the building industry on a large scale without any compromise in quality, which is something we would refuse to entertain at Kube.”

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Kube kitchens have worked tirelessly to provide solutions centred on the use of intelligent design strategies to increase comfort, function and storage, and maximise the use of space.

At the moment it can be difficult for people to get their hands on the best home for their circumstance and many are caught in a situation where they don’t know their best option. Should they invest or should they move? Fortunately, Kube can assist homeowners, whether they are purchasing a new home, renovating or extending their existing home. “We have a solution for those who want to invest in a highquality product which will improve their lifestyle or we can design something that will suit them, regardless of the situation they are in,” says Fagan. “We see the problems and sympathise with customers who feel like they are stuck and ultimately left with no alternative other than to stay in the situation they are currently in. We want customers to feel comfortable investing in their property as it stands and not feel like they have to wait until the market changes. “We have a product available that will improve their lifestyle in their current homes and we work hard to achieve that. We look at the customer’s lifestyle and the make-up of their household and we come up with clever solutions for their kitchen to work for everyone in the house.” With advanced storage solutions and clever use of space, Kube can design kitchens that work for their clients instead of them working around the products. They can fit storage solutions that maximise the use of existing storage space and they have price points to fit any budget within their product range. “We have products that will provide for an improved quality of life without any compromise,” says Fagan. “The kitchen isn’t just for meal time. Creating a room that everyone can be comfortable in will expand the use of the kitchen and by employing the latest design ideas we can create a kitchen

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suitable for a variety of different activities like homework, working from home, socialising, child minding and many more. Those who invest in their current homes will have peace of mind knowing that a kitchen remodel is an investment and can be at least partially recouped when the house is sold.” In addition to having products that can be scaled to supply large developments, Kube offers a design service tailored to the building industry. “When people who are building new houses come to us to talk about the kitchen and living area, we are able to give them the best advice possible for the type of customer that would eventually be living there, no matter what type of house it is. We understand the household that will most likely be living in the houses and we can advise on the best products and design for them.” For more information please visit www.kubekitchens.ie


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Services provided to Public Sector:

Selected Architects and Assigned Cerfiers on OGP framework and NDFA framework for social housing projects throughout the country.

Selected Architects and Assigned Cerfiers on HSE framework delivering healthcare projects including hospital, primary care centres, Community nursing units.

Selected Architects on Dublin City Council Conservaon Framework

Selected Architects on Department of Educaon schools framework . We are currently delivering mulple school projects throughout the country.

Specialists in regeneraon projects including the reappropriaon of vacant premises in associaon with Louth county council and the Vacant Housing Repair and Leasing Iniave.

High level feasibility studies from Master-planning to specialist Historic structures.

Delivery of many unique public buildings including Local Authority, administraon buildings, fire staons and creave industries facilies. the Public Sector Magazine

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Triumph in Adversity For much of the last decade, the Irish construction industry has been beset by crisis and positive new stories are thin on the ground. However, there are exceptions and the story of how Dundalk based architectural practice van Dijk Architects is an uplifting tale of trial, tribulation and ultimate triumph.

Clos na Manach Social Housing, Carlingford

With projects grinding to a halt and construction workers emigrating in droves following the financial crisis which decimated the Irish construction industry, van Dijk Architects found itself pushed to the brink of survival. They refused to buckle and resolved to stand firm and to survive and rebuild. Armed with a steely resilience, limitless perseverance and no small amount of talent, the practice set about broadening and enhancing its service offering and capturing new markets. It is a salutary lesson for construction companies seeking to establish themselves as the industry continues its recovery following a sustained period of turbulence. Today, van Dijk Architects is stronger than ever. It has expanded domestically where it is now active across a far broader reach of sectors and it has also established a strong international presence across three continents. “The practice is now twice the size it was prior to the crisis and profitability has increased threefold,” says CEO Jan van Dijk. “We have also diversified to a very considerable extent and as a result we have a much more sustainable practice today.” “Ten years ago we operated exclusively in Ireland and focussed entirely on private sector clients. Today, we have a successful international business with operations spanning

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Europe, the Middle-East, North Africa and the US with work in both public and private sectors.” Expanding into unchartered territories overseas is not for the feint hearted but it was key to safeguarding the future of the practice. For van Dijk Architects which adopted a different model to that typically deployed by Irish construction companies seeking a foothold abroad, it was also an invaluable learning curve. van Dijk recalls it being a fraught and difficult period, but also challenging, exciting and ultimately rewarding. “It was very difficult at the start,” he recalls. “You have to map out locations where you can be reasonably confident of picking up some work and you also have to find out who might give you some work. That required a lot of research at a time when resources were very scarce. You don’t have much time and money so there is only so much research you can do.” Although the practice targeted opportunities in the UK, it opted to avoid the tried and tested foreign markets which the larger Irish architectural firms were pursuing. van Dijk took a different tact and focussed on establishing partnerships with large local practices and operating as their international component. The practice assumed responsibility for the


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Mardumah

Crowne Plaza Hotel, Dundalk

more complex elements of the project, such as feasibility studies, agreeing the brief, developing the concept and detail design, while the management of the project on site and the administration of the project was left to the local partners. “It is different to the model used by a lot of practices. Establishing a real partnership approach helped us to make valuable new connections and we picked up a lot of work as a result,” says van Dijk. “We became friendly with the clients and then the partners and soon it was evident that a snowball effect was beginning to take effect. We are a very client centred practice which helped a great deal. We are focused on delivery to the client. By keeping our clients happy, they become our best sales force and the best reference any client can ask for. The bulk of our overseas assignments come through referrals.” At home, the practice is involved in a significantly higher volume of industrial, commercial and public sector projects than was previously the case. Its portfolio boasts a growing number of prominent office buildings and it was recently retained by pharmaceutical giant, Johnson and Johnson to fit-out a commercial premises which the practice had also designed and project managed. It is also working on two office blocks for the IDA, having completed the design of a substantial new factory for the organisation late last year. It is increasingly active in the healthcare sector and recently completed a new MRI unit for the HSE and has been awarded a contract to design a new delivery unit for the National Maternity Hospital. Elsewhere, schools and education projects provide a steady pipeline of work and it is extremely active

in the social housing space, an area where van Dijk believes architects can exert a positive influence. “Social housing is now a massive element of our work. We are currently involved in three social housing schemes in Tipperary, a further three in Sligo and two in Donegal. We have other schemes in Kerry, Kilkenny, Waterford and Kildare. We are working on social housing projects all over the country. “Architects most definitely have a contribution to make in addressing the housing crisis,” he asserts. “Ultimately, I believe our role lies in trying to find a balance between cost efficiency and the long term durability of a project. The government is very focused on delivering housing and they are focused on delivering it on a very tight budget. However, it’s been shown time and time again that if you design to the lowest common denominator, it will cost more in the long term. If the materials are not durable there is a maintenance cost. If the design is not durable, it will not stand the test of time. We then have the snowball effect where the development starts to get degraded by occupants and blight sets in within the community. There are a lot of examples of this pattern. “We want to deliver attractive, high quality and appealing homes for social housing recipients. We want social housing developments to have the same look and feel as a private development and we don’t want anyone to feel they are living in a ghetto. This is key from a social inclusion perspective. By paying careful attention to the way a social housing development is designed, you can help to foster a stronger sense of community. The aesthetics of a development should

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Gort na Glaise Social Housing, Blackrock

not convey any sense of difference. We are very driven from that point of view. “A lot of our work is also devoted to ensuring that the development will stand the test of time. That is a key challenge.” While the planning system is sometimes cast as culprit in the failure to adequately address the social housing deficit, van Dijk is sanguine and largely supportive of government efforts to expedite the process. “The strategic housing directive which the media refers to as ‘the fast track process’ is nothing of the kind, but it does have other advantages that are influencing the delivery of housing,” he says. “I very much embrace the process and we are using it to deliver a number of developments that would otherwise struggle. That is very positive. There is a major planning review currently underway to try to better balance the provision of zoned land with the prevailing need and this is also laudable. “It is true that the development plans lack a little bit of flexibility and delays on a project can arise because the local authority has to deal with five different documents which can potentially affect the delivery of the project. Each one of the documents ticks all the boxes until you get to the fifth one that contains some minor discrepancy which upsets the whole apple cart. It would move things forward significantly if there was a little bit of flexibility built into the system which allows planners to ignore some of the glitches that arise. We have been making that point now for almost 20 years now.” Having achieved sustained double digit growth in recent years, Van Dijk has focussed on further streamlining processes and has been assiduous in developing and assimilating a precise methodology which applies to each project. “This is increasingly necessary as the practice grows exponentially and now that we have multiple projects ongoing in a wide variety of locations,” he says. “It ensures that new people coming on board or joining a project team don’t start doing things completely different or forgetting to do things.

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“It is a set of straightforward, step-by-step approaches we developed in order to prevent people making mistakes and to help encourage good design thinking. It stops architects from getting bogged down in the simple procedural tasks because we have streamlined the process so these aspects can be completed quickly and efficiently. It frees up more time to really think about how we’re going to make this a great project. “We carry out a lot of site analysis and we really try to understand the town, the area and the surroundings. We assess the environmental factors, the prevalent house styles, the typical typography, a multitude of relevant factors. We familiarise ourselves thoroughly with the area and find that developing a real sense of the place has a massive influence on the design. It helps us to deliver a solution which blends in effectively with its environment and surroundings. Van Dijk remains concerned that the potential for substandard buildings is heightened by the skills shortage which is undermining the output potential of the industry. Referencing what he calls “our declining capacity to secure properly trained people,” he concedes that it will take time to restore an adequate pipeline of construction talent. Van Dijk is also concerned at what he sees as a rise in conflict in the industry and an increasingly adversarial approach between parties. “Ten years ago, the words conciliation or arbitration would never have been heard in this office. Now we hear it on a daily basis. That trust and naturalness which previously existed between contracted parties is in danger of disappearing. If there are continual concerns about litigation it is difficult to maintain good design standards. “People need to examine the procurement process carefully. It is hard to differentiate between contractors and their tendering to get on to a panel and it contributes to the potential for conflict. The government has stuck by it through thick and thin which is fair enough, but the end-result is going to be greater conflict.


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Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness

Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness, an initiative of the Government of Ireland.

The Vacant Homes initiative has created a huge awareness of the number of vacant housing units across Ireland and we would encourage local people to use www.vacanthomes.ie. Bringing vacant homes back into use increases the supply and provides homes to people with a housing need.

@VacanthomesIRL Ă ras an Chontae, The Mall, Castlebar, Co. Mayo E: info@vacanthomes.ie W: www.vacanthomes.ie

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The Housing Fix Housing Minister, Eoghan Murphy is struggling to contain the homelessness crisis and ever-increasing house prices and rental costs. Despite the number of homelessness exceeding 10,000 for the first time in February, the Housing Minister insists that progress is being made.

2019 has seen the number of people break through the 10,000 barrier for the first time with the Department of Housing acknowledging that as many as 4,000 children are living in emergency accommodation. In January the number of people recorded as homeless totalled 9,987 while in February a further 277 people presented as homeless bringing the figure to 10,264. Veteran homelessness campaigner Fr. Peter McVerry also suggested that the figure is likely to be as high as 15,000 if ‘sofa-surfers’ and people sleeping rough are included. Rebuilding Ireland, which has been trumpeted as the solution to the continuing escalation in homelessness has failed to turn the tide. The plan aims is to increase the supply of social homes to 10,000 by 2021. “The increase in homelessness in February is hugely disappointing,” said Housing Minister, Eoghan Murphy. However, the Minister defended the Government’s housing policy, saying that housing stock has increased eight-fold in recent years. “Roughly one in four new homes built last year was a Social Housing Home. The new build figure is 85% up on last year

and eight times higher than 2015 – the year before Rebuilding Ireland began. This is not a coincidence,” he said. “Our plan to dramatically increase supply is working. A real improvement was made for thousands of families last year. But still there is a lot more work to do for those who are depending on us, not least those in emergency accommodation. I will continue to drive the delivery of new houses and housing solutions, working with the local authorities and housing bodies. “While there is no quick fix, our housing plan is now showing real progress in the delivery of new homes and new social housing homes. We’ve also recently seen moderation in rents and property prices.” “This is about more than delivering blocks and roofs; it’s about delivering sustainable and affordable homes and communities.” Latest figures show there were 4,251 new social housing builds in 2018, with 2,022 built by local authorities, 1,388 by approved housing bodies and 841 homes provided through the Part V requirement on new developments. This was four per cent below the figure set by Rebuilding

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“New build and long-term leasing is helping us move away from HAP solutions as demonstrated by the fact that new HAP solutions did not increase significantly in 2018, while other delivery streams did.” Ireland which targeted the delivery of 4,409 social houses last year through traditional construction, as well as through rapid build homes, regeneration of existing properties and homes delivered through the requirement to set aside 10 per cent of estates for social housing. In total, the Department of Housing says 27,103 households had their needs met through new homes that were built, the refurbishment of long-term vacant council homes – or “voids” – which are to be refurbished and returned to use, acquisitions, leasing and through the housing assistant payment (HAP) and rental accommodation scheme (RAS). According to Minister Murphy there are a further 5,000 social homes currently being built across 291 sites and the schemes in progress have been enabled by €2 billion investment in social housing last year with €2.4 billion due to be invested in 2019. “New build and long-term leasing is helping us move away from HAP solutions as demonstrated by the fact that new HAP solutions did not increase significantly in 2018, while other delivery streams did,” he said. A further €400million is due to be invested in HAP this year which works with the private rental sector to help keep people out of homelessness. The vast majority of people on the HAP scheme are in secure rental accommodation. Focus Ireland has said that landlords legally evicting families in order to sell their rental property is the biggest single cause of family homelessness and Sinn Fein’s Housing Spokesman, Eoin O’Broin has tabled a private members motion aimed at giving greater protection to households renting from buy-to-let landlords. The proposal aims to make it no longer legal to evict tenants in

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buy-to-let properties on the grounds that the property is to be sold. The number of officially homeless children has risen by 490% since Fine Gael took office in 2011, according to O’Broin who says that now that house prices are rising, landlords who may have previously been in distress are now exiting the market. Since 2017 more than 9,000 rental properties have been lost and he accused Fine Gael of sitting on its hands. However, Mr Murphy said the Government cannot force a private homeowner who wants to sell their house to keep tenants in situ and a balance needs to be found to meet the needs of landlords and tenants. “Rent pressure zones are to be strengthened because there are certain aspects to them that are lending themselves to higher inflation. A lot of the things we are doing are moving in the right direction but we need to do more with regard to HAP and to protect renters. There is more work to be done,” he said. Mr Murphy also said that plans are progressing on new legislation to introduce a Rent Register enabling tenants to access information on the amount of rent paid by previous tenants in a property. The latest ESRI/RTB Rent Index has shown ever-rising costs with a monthly figure of €1,134 for the last quarter of 2018, up 6.9% in a year. The problem is particularly severe in Dublin with the yearon-year increase of 7.3% putting the average rent at €1,650. The Government recently announced that the rental increase cap which applies in designated rental pressure zones will be extended until the end of 2021. It was due to expire at the end of this year. It is also examining the introduction of fines for landlords who breach the terms of the rental cap.


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DELIVERING HOMES AND COMMUNITIES FOR FINGAL

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Creative Housing Solutions Since launching vacanthomes.ie which has since rolled out across the country, Mayo County Council has adopted a progressive and wide-reaching response to the housing crisis. Director of Services, Tom Gilligan talks to Public Sector Magazine.

Media commentary on the housing crisis tends to focus primarily on larger cities but the problem is prevalent nationwide and local authorities in every corner of the country are struggling to keep pace with demand for social housing. This much is evident from figures released recently by Housing Minister, Eoghan Murphy which reveals that fourteen of the country’s 31 councils missed the building targets established by his department last year. However, one local authority which is fulfilling its social housing mandate to impressive effect is Mayo County Council which has deployed a creative, multi-stranded response to meet the unprecedented level of demand for housing. In particular, it has sought to instil a collective sense of urgency and determination in order to confront what has become one of the most pressing challenges facing local authorities today. “We see housing and the delivery of social housing as a key priority in Mayo,” says Tom Gilligan, Director of Services at Mayo County Council. “Our current social housing stock is insufficient to meet the demand which exists, particularly in urban areas such as Castlebar, Westport and Ballina. The

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number of applications on our social housing list now stands at 1,175 and we are also supporting nearly 2,000 households in the private rented sector through various schemes. “Many of those we are supporting are under pressure from landlords and are now seeking council accommodation which is putting added pressure on our housing office. Last year we saw a 25% increase in the number of homeless people presenting to our offices which is very significant. One of the main factors driving this increase is the inability of people to secure adequate private rental accommodation.” This problem is further exacerbated by the growing numbers of landlords now seeking to exit the market. The majority are small landlords with one to two rental properties, while others include accidental landlords now seeking to capitalise on rising house prices. “Either way, the fewer landlords there are, the less stock there is available to rent,” says Gilligan. There are a number of factors as to why landlords are exiting the market. “We have gone through a long period of austerity and many feel it is now a good time to sell properties. Others might feel that the hassle and expense of being a


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landlord outweighs the financial gain and there are now significantly more obligations on landlords in relation to the quality of rental units as well as health and safety standards and many may not be in a position to meet those standards. However, these standards are necessary to protect both the tenant and the landlord,” says Gilligan. This trend is confirmed by data from Daft.ie which reveals a total of 78 properties currently available to let in County Mayo while there are over 1,000 homes for sale. The average rent is between €700 and €800 for a 3-bedroom home in an urban area. While the number of properties for sale has increased, prospective home buyers continue to experience difficulty in raising finance, particularly since the introduction of stricter lending rules imposed by the Central Bank. In order to inform policy decisions and target resources more effectively, Mayo County Council has carried out research to determine the key prevailing trends in relation to social housing support in the region and the household composition of those who qualify for housing provision. The study uncovered some striking trends, not least of all the fact that nearly 53% (617) of the 1175 people on the housing list comprises a single person household, while a further 300 applicants are single parents with children. According to Gilligan, the findings reflect changes in housing need and also highlight the requirement to provide a broader mix of social housing. While considerable progress has been achieved and the housing crisis remains a chief priority within Mayo County Council, he says the challenge has been compounded by fragilities in the construction sector which has yet to return to normalcy following the prolonged recession. “We are meeting the challenge in Mayo but the housing crisis has had a significant impact on local authorities throughout the country and Mayo is no exception. Construction ground to a standstill for a number of years and we have only started building again in recent years. A lot of construction workers and skilled tradespeople emigrated and we are feeling the impact of that now. People tend to very quickly forget that its only a few short years since we emerged from a financial

Tom Gilligan, Director of Services, Mayo County Council

“Last year we exceeded our targets and increased delivery of social housing by 20%. In relation to our own housing construction and acquisition programme we were set a target of delivering 708 units from 2016 to 2021. But we are ambitious and our intention is to go beyond that and deliver 808 units of which 500 will be new build.”

crisis that threatened to send us over the cliff edge. It is going to take a bit more time to get back to the level of construction needed, but I believe we are heading in the right direction.” “We need a properly functioning housing market in order to underpin competitiveness, improve the quality of life and address the plight of people who are threatened with homelessness. We are aware there is no quick fix but we have an ambitious housing plan in place and will continue to deliver on our programme right up until 2021 and beyond. We see housing as the number one priority and we put a lot of energy and focus in trying to ensure we deliver for all those people who require social housing in County Mayo. “We are making progress and the figures highlight the gains we have made. Last year we exceeded our targets and increased delivery of social housing by 20%. In relation to our own housing construction and acquisition programme we were set a target of delivering 708 units from 2016 to 2021. But we are ambitious and our intention is to go beyond that and deliver 808 units, of which 500 will be new build.” Given the extent of the housing crisis, Gilligan believes that the criticisms regarding local authorities’ reliance on the private sector to deliver the housing required are unfair. Critics say the policy benefits landlords but fails to deliver any long-term gains to tenants or the state. However, Gilligan argues that the virtual implosion of the building industry following the financial crisis and the rapid demand for social housing which ensued made it impossible to instigate a building programme capable of adequately addressing the supply shortfall, particularly in the short term. “We are very reliant on the private sector in order to address our social housing objectives, particularly the HAP programme which is a form of social housing support available to households eligible to be included on the local authority housing list. It is an important part of the government’s long-term approach to assisting households living in the rental sector. The solution is not just about building more homes; we also need to be more creative and innovative in our response. This is why Mayo County Council first initiated the VacantHomes.ie initiative and the potential in this regard was highlighted from figures collated in

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Minister Eoghan Murphy with Oireachtas members, Councillors and council officials of Mayo County Council, on a recent visit to Mayo. Photo Credit: Conor McKeown

“People tend to very quickly forget that it’s only a few short years since we emerged from a financial crisis that threatened to send us over the cliff edge. It is going to take a bit more time to get back to the level of construction needed, but I believe we are heading in the right direction.” 2016 which revealed some 180,000 vacant homes around the country.” The ‘VacantHomes’ initiative seeks to bring these vacant homes back into use in order to help meet social housing needs. It was initiated by Mayo County Council in 2017 and rapidly garnered national attention as the sheer number of vacant homes throughout the country became apparent. In addition to providing additional social housing, Gilligan says the scheme has numerous ancillary benefits and assists in rejuvenating towns and villages afflicted with dereliction, rundown housing and emigration. “By bringing these properties back into use, we can help to revitalise the area. It helps protect vital services and provides additional construction jobs. It helps sustain communities and breathe new life into areas that were in decline. It is also very positive from a climate change perspective as the key infrastructure is already in place and we are recycling and rejuvenating projects. It is a win-win situation.” Mayo County Council currently has a diverse range of, 2, 3 and 4-bed housing projects under construction which reflect the variety of house types that studies have revealed are most in demand. Minister for Housing, Eoghan Murphy recently visited a number of projects currently underway, including two schemes in Knockmore and Foxford which will provide a total of 18 units. He also viewed progress on another development of 27 houses as well as a project in Ballinrobe, where a further 16 houses are under construction. The majority of the developments comprise two and three-

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bed units and all the schemes are environmentally sustainable, A-rated houses which are architecturally designed and constructed to the highest standards. Mayo County Council has an in-house architectural service which ensures that meticulously planned, high quality housing is delivered for tenants. Mayo County Council also provide support to a number of approved housing bodies which are active in County Mayo and Gilligan pays tribute to the significant contribution which they have made. One scheme, St Michael’s in Foxford developed by the Society of Vincent de Paul recently won a prestigious national award while Mayo County Council has also collaborated with the Irish wheelchair association to deliver a scheme of seven 2-bed wheelchair friendly units in Belmullet. “The design of each home was tailored to fit the requirements of wheelchair users. It is great to be able to collaborate with those groups as they do tremendous work and they contribute in a very meaningful way to the housing programme in Mayo,” says Gilligan. Delivering housing is a complex, challenging and pressurised responsibility but the rewards inevitably outweigh the difficulties.“ In my role as director of housing, there is no greater joy than seeing a couple or a young family, get the keys to their new home,” says Gilligan. “It changes people’s lives, it is transformative and makes all the effort worthwhile. There are setbacks but when you see a couple or a family get the keys of their new home, you know this is what makes it worthwhile. We want to do it every day of the week and give families security in housing tenure and change their lives for the better.”


North & East Housing Association

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“Everyone is entitled to a quality home in the community.�

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nnovation in the area of housing design and maintenance.

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Exceeding Targets Fingal making significant progress in addressing the housing crisis

In 2018, Fingal County Council made significant progress in addressing the housing crisis, exceeding its overall target for social housing provision of 1,637 for 2018 by delivering 1,953 homes over the 12-month period under the Rebuilding Ireland programme. Overall, since the beginning of the Housing Strategy 2020 in 2015, Fingal has delivered almost 4,200 homes, ahead of its target of 3,013 for the four-year period. In order to supply sufficient housing across the county, there are currently 25 social housing construction projects on stream either at construction, tender stage or planning stage. In addition, a significant pipeline of new build homes will be provided including turnkey properties in conjunction with the Approved Housing Bodies, homes provided under the Part V process and the return of void properties.

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Commenting on the progress being made in addressing the housing crisis, Fingal County Council’s Director of Housing and Community, Margaret Geraghty said the task of providing 1,637 homes to the residents of Fingal, which they were given at the beginning of 2018, presented a significant challenge. “It was greater than the total of the previous three years and we are delighted to have not only achieved this target but to have exceeded it, through collaborating with Fingal’s Planning and Architect Departments and our many stakeholders, including the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the housing agency and approved housing bodies.” Ms Geraghty added that it was also important to address the broad range of people affected by the housing crisis who require assistance.


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“While homelessness is a huge issue and needs to be a priority, there are also Fingal residents who face eviction, or live in overcrowded homes, who require housing assistance. In other situations, a person with a disability may want to live independently as they reach adulthood and need housing support. Fingal also has an older population to provide accommodation for. We need to assist people of all ages, backgrounds and circumstances to find a home.” The delivery of homes by private developers is also rising across the Fingal region, according to the latest figures from the Central Statistics Office. In 2018, the county contributed 12 per cent to the increase in Ireland’s stock of private housing, with the completion of approximately 2,200 houses across in the county. Of the nearly 7,000 homes completed in the Dublin area, Fingal provided almost a third of these. Further indication of the increase in private construction across the County has been the rise in the number of active development sites from 71 in 2017 to 79, which will deliver in

excess of 2,500 homes. The Council has also seen an increase in the number of apartments being built and 913 were built last year, representing a 23% increase in this category over the previous year. The development of new homes is not restricted to Fingal’s urban areas either, with rural villages such as Kinsealy, Ballyboughal, Naul and Garristown experiencing a 26 per cent increase in property developments. An important part of housing delivery has been the unlocking of strategic landbanks across the county. The completion of the LIHAF- funded Donabate Distributor Road later in 2019 will also allow for further significant developments, while a second LIHAF scheme in Swords is due to get underway shortly. Fingal County Council’s Housing and Planning and Strategic Infrastructure Departments have worked closely to make progress in the provision of homes. The Serviced Sites Fund allows for the development of the

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believing in people since 1971

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“Fingal County Council has had a relentless focus on creating a pipeline of housing delivery. Through collaborating with Government and various stakeholders, our Housing, Planning and Architect Departments have significantly accelerated the provision of private and social housing as well as alleviating homelessness in the County.” Paul Reid, Chief Executive, Fingal County Council infrastructure necessary to facilitate the delivery of affordable homes on local authority and Housing Agency sites. The Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government have approved in principle a total of €14.7 million from the Serviced Sites Fund for the development of housing projects in Mulhuddart, Lusk and Skerries. Director of Planning and Strategic Infrastructure, AnnMarie Farrelly, spoke about the development of areas in Fingal to prepare them for additional housing. “Our aim is to develop communities complete with the necessary infrastructure to make them appropriate places to live,” she said. “This goes beyond housing and requires the provision of services and amenities to ensure a good standard of life and well-being for Fingal residents. It is a significant challenge but Fingal’s proactive approach to infrastructure delivery will ensure the continued availability of serviced land for the

construction of homes.” “The construction of private homes is crucial for housing supply. There are 79 active private development sites in Fingal set to deliver 2,500 properties which is another increase on last year.” Welcoming the progress, Chief Executive of Fingal County Council, Paul Reid said: “Fingal County Council has had a relentless focus on creating a pipeline of housing delivery. Through collaborating with Government and various stakeholders, our Housing, Planning and Architect Departments have significantly accelerated the provision of private and social housing as well as alleviating homelessness in the County. The well-being of our residents is our priority and we will continue our commitment to making Fingal a better place for our diverse population to live.”

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Squaring the Circle In the eighteen months since his appointment as Chief Executive of voluntary housing agency, Circle VHA, John Hannigan has spearheaded an ambitious programme of growth and restructuring. He talks to Public Sector Magazine about the change underway at the agency and the need for the voluntary housing sector to adopt a leadership position in the delivery of social housing.

The success of any enterprise is ultimately dependent on the calibre and commitment of the personnel working on its behalf. This is clearly a view shared by John Hannigan, Chief Executive, Circle VHA who has assembled a highly skilled team in order to fulfil the ambitious agenda he mapped out following his appointment to one of Ireland’s largest housing bodies in July 2017. Significant restructuring and organisational change has since

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taken place at the organisation. Staff numbers have doubled and the focus has pivoted strongly towards customer and tenant care. A new tenant engagement strategy has been implemented and new recruits have undergone extensive training on the ethos and social responsibilities of the agency. In addition, the housing management team has been expanded and a new property services team has been established to cater for repairs


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and maintenance requirements. “We have a very ambitious and dynamic development programme in place and it’s vital to ensure we have the right people in place to support this,” says Hannigan. “I felt we were a little under-invested in terms of engaging and building rapport with tenants and that is now a core focus. We have gone from 20 to almost 40 employees and we are beginning to see the fruits of that. We are starting to deliver more properties and satisfaction ratings from our tenants has also increased.” “It is quite challenging when inducting so many new people and we focussed on trying to source people with as much experience as possible which is not easy in the current market. It was important to have people with the right values and this was a key objective throughout the recruitment process. “We brought in a new management team to support the process and they all have impressive track records in terms of service delivery in the housing field. Our management team is second to none. They possess a wide and diverse range of experience and complimentary skills sets and are very focussed and firmly committed to customer service and towards making sure that quality standards throughout every facet of the organisation are maintained to the highest levels. Circle VHA is also expanding beyond its historical boundaries of Dublin and Kildare and has increased the number of properties under management from 1700 to almost 1900 in the last eighteen months. It plans to add a further 350 properties to its portfolio by the end of 2019 and the decision taken last year to begin building houses was particularly significant in terms of boosting the organisations growth potential. It is currently assessing potential projects in Cork, Waterford, Wexford, Wicklow, Louth and Meath. Hannigan has worked extensively in senior management positions in the UK housing sector and his focus and commitment to fostering close relations with tenants, expanding the footprint of the agency and striving for the highest professional standards stems largely from his UK experience. While standards in the Irish voluntary housing sector have improved considerably in recent year, he says there is still much which we can learn from our nearest neighbour.

“We still have a lot to do in terms of asset management and the ongoing and future upkeep of property. We need to ensure we have the appropriate repair and maintenance programs in place and that the quality of the work being delivered is maintained over time.”

“I would see us as being about 10 years behind the UK housing market in certain areas but from a customer perspective and in relation to the treatment of tenants, we are now on par,” he says. “We have some great resources like the Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) and we have been afforded far greater protection following the introduction of the rental pressure zones. In the last two to three years we have stepped up to the plate and the support being provided to tenants is in line with best international practice. “We still have a lot to do in terms of asset management and the ongoing and future upkeep of property. We need to ensure we have the appropriate repair and maintenance programs in place and that the quality of the work being delivered is maintained over time. “We are also behind on the financial side and we remain overly dependent on the state for funding. In the UK, they are far more advanced and have greater access to capital markets and other financial options. We have a poor record in this regard but I am hopeful that we will catch up over time and we’ll start to see more complex structures being introduced from a financial perspective. Circle VHA is one of a small number of housing agencies which operate on a nationwide basis and cultivating positive working relations with local authorities which are under pressure to increase delivery of social housing is integral to their work. “We could not do what we do unless we had that positive partnership with the local authorities,” says Hannigan. In terms of charting the direction of its growing footprint, Hannigan points out that although demand for social housing remains most acute in urban areas, there is also a growing need emerging in locations which have opened up as a result of the steady expansion of the motorway network. Counties bordering the capital have experienced a surge in population and a consequent spike in demand for social housing while the majority of counties on the east coast are also experiencing greater demand. Again, liaising with the respective local authority is key to determining where the greatest need lies “We obviously test each market with the local social housing authority and talk to them about what we do and how well we do it. We have a strategic delivery plan

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in place over the next three years which indistinguishable. That is one of the key is responsive to these emerging trends issues we are trying to highlight as an and local authorities have been hugely organisation.” supportive in terms of the social housing AS part od the Housing Alliance, we deliver. Circle VHA and the 5 other large Housing The importance of cultivating Associations are on course to significantly harmonious relations with tenants housed exceed the 15000 properties which AHBs by Circle VHA is an issue frequently were tasked with delivering under the cited by the Circle VHA chief and a Rebuilding Ireland strategy and Hannigan dedicated tenant engagement strategy also anticipates significant competition was established last year which has from the private sector in terms of social instrumental in the impressive satisfaction housing delivery in the coming years. ratings recorded by tenants. Private companies are increasingly seeking “The selection of tenants housed to register social housing elements to their in our properties is based entirely on developments in order to be permitted allocations from the local authorities and to deliver greater volume and, perhaps we try to get to know our tenants and to unusually for the voluntary housing understand their circumstances and any Chief Executive of voluntary housing agency, sector, Hannigan is in favour. Circle VHA, John Hannigan particular needs they might have,” he “Competition is always a good thing, says. “There are a significant number of it drives standards upwards and improves people in social housing require additional support whether in performance,” he says. “There is a place for the private sector relation to mental health, financial or addiction issues. We meet in the social housing space and the current over reliance on with all our tenants and we have robust discussion in terms of the ‘Housing Assistant Payment’ (HAP) scheme is the wrong all these issues and we endeavour to tailor our services to meet approach and doesn’t provide good value for money. We have their needs. Of course, it is important to get the balance right in created an unintentional social landlord culture through HAP. terms of not being too interfering while ensuring our tenants It has been positive for the private landlord but not so great for know we are available to them. the tenant as there is no security and it offers very poor value to “We make it clear that we have an equal level of the State which gets nothing at the end of it. We need to deliver responsibility towardsthem and the communities they live in. sustainable social housing with a long-term perspective.” Where an issue arises, we tend to address it immediately and In terms of additional policy initiatives Hannigan would we don’t let problems fester. We assist in accessing a wide range like to see measures introduced to address the affordability of ancillary services, with relevant partners and will work with gap for prospective home purchasers struggling to accumulate tenants to help access education opportunities, mental health the hefty deposit required by banks in order to advance a supports and any other needs we can assist with. mortgage. “People can’t get a mortgage because the level of “We want people to feel they have the security of a home. deposit required and the prices of housing are prohibitive and We have a 98% letting rate and a minimal level of turnover I would like to see the government adopt a workable scheme because our tenants are happy with the properties and service to address this matter,” he says. “We presented a number of we are providing. Prioritising tenant satisfaction across the potential solutions we believe would work and we continue to wide spectrum of social housing also has a positive impact in await a response.” the wider community and can contribute to reducing anti-social In addition, Hannigan believes local authorities should be behaviour, addiction and other social issues. charged with enabling rather than delivering social housing and Circle VHA is currently involved in a number of key projects focus on making the strategic decisions about how, when and including two regeneration projects in Dublin’s inner city who should deliver social housing. where it is working with Dublin City Council to develop over However, first and foremost he wants to see the voluntary 120 apartments. One scheme of 54 apartments in St. Michael’s sector to adopt a leadership position in the delivery of social community is being developed to support older citizens and housing. This is one of the things we have lost as a sector in will feature a full 24/7 on-call support service which will enable recent years, particularly since the financial crash. When I tenants to remain at home rather than having to transfer to a worked for Respond in the early 2000’s, we were the developers nursing homes. and we took the lead on sites. I want us to get back to that It is also seeking to build a 47 apartment scheme on a position as a sector and to become instigators and leaders rather derelict site on Railway Street and recently purchased a site in than followers. We have the experience and the expertise and Santry, North Dublin where it intends to build later this year. we should be seen to be driving excellence within our own Hannigan is hopeful that these schemes will help raise the bar organisations and throughout the wider sector. for social housing development. My predecessor, Justin O’Brien left a proud legacy and he “What we are trying to demonstrate is that you can actually set the organisation up as a great collaborator. That ethos still have stand-alone social housing and not know that it is social continues today and it is invaluable in optimising delivery. housing,” he says. “We want social housing to be integrated Myself and the team at Circle VHA continue to try and to and we don’t want people to be able to point at something involve as many relevant parties as possible in collaborative and know immediately that is social housing, it should be endeavours in order to achieve our objectives.”

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Making a difference by providing quality homes for people in housing need.

Circle VHA’s purpose is to deliver quality homes and innovative integrated housing solutions to individuals and families in Ireland. Circle VHA has approved status from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and is a member of the Irish Council for Social Housing. Circle VHA is regulated under the Property SRA.

Circle Voluntary Housing Association, Phoenix House, 32-34 Castle Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-4072110 Email: info@circlevha.ie www.circlevha.ie @circlevha the Public Sector Magazine

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Leading the way home Clúid Housing partners with Carlow County Council on the delivery of new social housing Twenty-six families recently received the keys to their brand new homes in Sleaty Park View, on Sleaty Street in Carlow Town. They had been waiting five years on average on the social housing waiting list. After only 13 months in construction, Clúid Housing, in partnership with the developer, Byrne & Byrne Construction Ltd, and Carlow County Council, were delighted to deliver this much-needed affordable housing to the area. Sleaty Park View is a mix of two and three-bedroom houses, with a very high spec finish, energy efficient heating and an A-rated BER. In total, the scheme has become home to 87 people. Located right beside the town park, it is within a fiveminute walk of Carlow town centre. Ger and Debbie received the keys to Ger and Debbie Kearney getting the keys to their new home at Sleaty Park View from Minister Eoghan Murphy. their new home from Minister Eoghan Murphy who launched the scheme on 15 February last. The Kearneys sadly lost their home and business in Carlow Town”, Chief Executive of Carlow County Council during the last recession. Speaking at the launch, Debbie said: Kathleen Holohan said this high-quality development provides “It’s a day that we’ve dreamed of for so long. It’s amazing just comfortable and energy-efficient homes for families on the to look at this and say ‘this is ours, this is our home.’ council’s housing list and wished the new residents “all the Minister Murphy said that the provision of high-quality very best in their new homes”. housing, across all tenures, is one of the key objectives Nick Byrne of Byrne & Byrne Construction Ltd said that his of Rebuilding Ireland: An Action Plan for Housing and company was delighted to have partnered with Clúid on this Homelessness. “The delivery of these much-needed homes development: “This was a Developer Design and Build project in Carlow Town is a tangible example of the importance of with Stage Payments. This innovative approach worked very partnerships between Approved Housing Bodies, such as well for us in the progression and completion of the project. Clúid Housing, the local authority, in this case Carlow County Overall, this has been an extremely positive partnership for Council, and a developer in getting homes built; furthermore, us with Clúid in Carlow and we look forward to further the delivery of these homes demonstrates this Government’s developing this valued partnership with them. We hope that all commitment to that objective,” he said. the families who are taking up residence in this development Clúid’s New Business Director Fiona Cormican pointed will enjoy many wonderful years here”. out that Clúid has a further 180 properties in Co. Carlow in The construction of Sleaty Park View cost just under €4 addition to Sleaty Park View and the organisation is continually million. Clúid funded the scheme using a government loan of looking for new opportunities to develop further in the county 30% of the total purchase price to leverage a larger bank loan and beyond. “We want to partner with developers and local from the Housing Finance Agency (HFA). Clúid will repay authorities to deliver 2,500 units nationwide over three years,” those loans using the rent paid by tenants (which is always she said. “To achieve these numbers requires a coordinated affordable) and an availability payment from the Department of project-led approach to each housing development. All Housing, Planning and Local Government. stakeholders, including the developers, financiers, planners and utility providers, need to communicate on each project and each CLÚID HOUSING project needs leadership to bring it through the processes and Clúid Housing is 25 years in existence this year. It is the largest people that make up the system.” housing association in Ireland, providing over 6,700 high-quality, Describing Sleaty Park View as “an excellent example of affordable homes to over 17,000 people in housing-need all over the collaborative approach between Carlow County Council, Ireland. Housing associations are independent, not-for-profit charities. Clúid Housing, and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government in delivering much-needed social housing

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DELIVERING SAFE AND SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES

www.limerick.ie/council

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@LimerickCouncil


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Rebuilding Limerick Limerick has many attributes that make it a highly desirable location for businesses and an attractive region in which to live and work. Predictions that the city will grow by over 20% in the next year present significant challenges for Limerick City and County Council which has been at the forefront in enabling this growth and meeting the growing demand for social housing. Under the National Planning Framework 2040, it is planned that half of the overall national growth in terms of population, employment and housing will be targeted at Ireland’s five cities which includes Limerick city. With the Treaty City scheduled to grow by at least 50 per cent by 2040, Limerick City and County Council (LCCC) is at the forefront of enabling this growth and delivering on its social housing targets. Tackling a current housing waiting list with 2,891 applicants (as at December 2018) is a challenge especially where the construction industry is emerging slowly from a low baseline. The Council is responding to all avenues for delivery including turnkeys, partnering with the Approved Housing Body (AHB) sector and supporting the local and national supply-chain of volumetric builders.

Social Housing Strategy 2020 Under the Social Housing Strategy 2020, LCCC’s target for delivery was 753 new social homes during 2015 - 2017. By 31 December 2017, the Council successfully delivered 2,694 additional tenancies through the following funding streams: • New-Build (General Housing and Regeneration) • Acquisitions and Voids (CAS, Part V, General Housing) • Leasing (RAS, HAP, CALF, SHCEP)

Planning ‘Rebuilding Ireland’

Under the current Rebuilding Ireland programme, an overall target of 1,365 social homes is required to be delivered for the period 2018 to 2021

Under the current Rebuilding Ireland programme, an overall target of 1,365 social homes is required to be delivered for the period 2018 to 2021 through a three-pronged blended approach of new build (67%), acquisition (20%) and leasing (13%). For 2018, a specific target of 251 homes was given to LCCC for delivery by year-end. LCCC has a strong project management ethos as schemes move from initial capital appraisal stage to housing completion to ensure that projects are delivered within time, cost, scope and quality requirements. As of 31 December 2018, 282 homes had been completed under the Build, Acquisition and Leasing streams.

(a sustainable urban extension to Limerick city) to unlock the potential for 2,700 homes on 80 hectares over the long-term.

Accelerating Delivery

Safe and Sustainable Communities

In parallel with the build-buy-lease approach, LCCC is bringing forward council-owned land banks for mixed-tenure and mixeduse activation. The newly established Housing Delivery Office of the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (DHPLG) has greatly assisted in the assembly and development of some of the region’s largest land banks. In addition, the €200 million LIHAF funding was enthusiastically welcomed and LCCC received approval for a major project in Mungret

The success of the Rebuilding Ireland programme is dependent on continued support and commitment by the DHPLG and the Approved Housing Sector, elected members, the private sector and the general public. LCCC is delivering much-needed homes in safe and sustainable communities. This is evidently now achievable but needs continued ongoing commitment. Rebuilding Ireland is a golden opportunity for the physical, social and economic betterment of Limerick.

through a three-pronged blended approach of new build (67%), acquisition (20%) and leasing (13%).

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Time for ‘Build ‘Build’ is the first of an annual report on construction sector performance and prospects for 2019 published by the Government ‘Build‘, the first annual report on Construction Sector Performance and Prospects has been launched by Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe as part of Project Ireland 2040. The report is the first in a series of outputs from the Construction Sector Group which was established by Government in recognition of the fact that a modern, innovative and resilient construction sector is central to delivering on Project Ireland 2040 and to ensuring maximum value for money. The report is a rigorous assessment of the industry and shows that since the launch of the Project Ireland 2040, infrastructure investment has been prioritised and increased. This year, the report says economy-wide investment in building and construction will grow to €30 billion while public spending on infrastructure will top 3.5% of national income in 2019, among the highest in the EU. In 2018 housing completions surpassed 18,000, up a quarter on the previous year and close to 80% of housing completions are in our towns and cities across Ireland, meaning better connectivity, infrastructure and services for families. ‘Build’ also confirms that Employment in construction sector has been steadily growing in recent years and now stands at 145,500. However, it also highlights the challenges facing the industry and points out that costs pressures continue to increase. Last year, the tender price index grew by 7.4% and saw costs returning to peak levels. In addition, certain trades including plastering and bricklaying face potential skill shortages and while overall productivity growth in the sector is lower than the European average, the report says there is considerable scope to address this. The Government, working with the Construction Sector Group, is already taking steps to assist the industry to address these challenges. Measures to improve productivity, attract talent from overseas and keep the pipeline of investment moving are all underway. Additionally, the National BIM Council chaired by Caroline Spillane of Engineers Ireland with the support of Enterprise Ireland produced a roadmap for improvements in that area and the Office of Government Procurement will shortly develop a medium-term procurement strategy. Ms. Spillane welcomed the publication of the Build report which has been developed under the guidance of the Government Construction Sector Group. “There is no doubt that Building Information Modelling can drive greater efficiency in the industry which in turn can support sustainable businesses, lead to highervalue construction jobs and assist the State in achieving value for money in the roll-out of Project Ireland 2040,” she said. “In 2019 the Construction Sector Group is prioritising work to drive productivity and growth in the sector and specifically to implement many of the recommendations of the Roadmap to digital transition. I know that the Government and industry players are keen to play their part in achieving a step change

“While risks exist, Government is cognisant of these and is undertaking proactive measures to mitigate them. In this way we will create a flexible construction sector within a sustainable economy that is well equipped to meet society’s needs.”

Finance Minister, Paschal Donohoe in performance it his regard and look forward to working the Government bodies on this throughout the year.” Finance Minister Donohoe also said the Government is committed to working with the construction sector to help overcome challenges and boost output. “Project Ireland 2040 is a clear, responsive, needs-based strategy. Investment is being boosted to meet those needs and activity in the construction sector is gearing up accordingly,” he said. “While risks exist, Government is cognisant of these and is undertaking proactive measures to mitigate them. In this way we will create a flexible construction sector within a sustainable economy that is well equipped to meet society’s needs.” “There has been good progress to date in implementing Project Ireland 2040 but we can’t be complacent. We have identified risks and are tackling them head on. Early adoption of the latest technologies available will ensure that the industry is modernised, innovative and future-proofed.”

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S I D E

B Y

S I D E

W O R K I N G S I D E BY S I D E W I T H O U R C L I E N T S, W E AC H I E V E M O R E.

Beauchamps’ specialist housing team works with developers, approved housing bodies, local authorities, funders, financial institutions, charities, and social enterprises on all matters relating to the housing sector. For more details, visit www.beauchamps.ie/our-services/housing or contact: Fidelma McManus, Partner and Head of Housing E: f.mcmanus@beauchamps.ie T: +353 (0) 1 4180 600

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Pay Claim Pressures The recent claim by construction industry workers for a 12% pay hike has caused alarm over further upward pressures in building costs and the potential for negative repercussions across the wider economy.

The last pay increase has been referenced as a factor in the cost of the National Children’s Hospital soaring from €980m to €1.7bn and there are fears that further pay hikes will push up the cost of other capital projects as well as housing. SIPTU representatives have confirmed that members in construction are pursuing a 12% increase in pay over three years as part of a process in establishing a new Sectoral Employment Order (SEO) for the industry. The Construction workers are also seeking the introduction of a one-hour travelling allowance per day for every worker. The unions making the pay claim include the Building and Allied Trade Union (BATU), Siptu, Unite, Connect Trade Union and Opatsi, which represents plasterers. John Regan, SIPTU Sector Organiser, says it is looking to the Labour Court to establish a new Sectoral Employment Order (SEO) for the construction industry and that the pay claim is in line with other growing and profitable sectors in our economy. “An SEO will give stability and clarity on pay for workers in the industry,” he said. At a time of huge profits in the sector our members justifiably feel that they deserve their share in the substantial gains being made by employers. Instead, what we are seeing are attempts by employers to cap the entry level wage for construction workers at € 28,000. This is unacceptable. There must be progress on wages if the construction industry is to keep up with demand.” He added: “The biggest problem the construction industry is facing is attracting and retaining workers. This can only be achieved by the industry providing wages which are adequate. A new SEO also requires employers and unions working together to create long-term stability in the sector through the enforcement of agreed conditions of employment and the adequate provision of apprenticeships.” The building industry is resisting the pay claim and Tom Parlon, director general; Construction Industry Federation pointed out that Construction workers received a 10% increase in October 2017 following a recommendation by the Labour Court.

“The industry was obliged to pay those rates, and literally 15 months down the road, there’s a further demand for rate increase and we certainly feel that this is not the time for that. So we are opposing any further increases in labour costs at this particular time,” he said. “The industry has employed an extra 1,500 people each month for the last 12 months. So it is growing and it pays well, and the SEO is not just about rates, it’s about a sick pay scheme. It’s about death-in-service benefit. It’s about overtime, it is about holidays, it is about the general conditions that workers have when they are on site and when they are under the SEO.” The last pay increase has been referenced as a factor in the cost of the National Children’s Hospital soaring from €980m to €1.7bn and there are fears that further pay hikes will push up the cost of other capital projects as well as housing. The CIF has calculated that the increases would see the construction price of a €300,000 house rise by €5,000. In a submission to the Labour court the CIF said that the increase would further exacerbate the housing crisis. “40% of the cost of building is labour. So any increase in labour increases the cost of output very substantially. It certainly will have a substantial impact on the cost of house building,” the submission read. The Labour Court has the power to recommend a pay order for the construction sector following legislation introduced by the previous Government. However, the final decision rests with the Government via the Minister of State for Small Business, Pat Breen who has to respond to Labour Court recommendations within six weeks. The sectoral pay order covers 65,000 construction workers, including 34,000 workers who are members of unions and a further 31,000 non-union members.

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WORKING TO KEEP OUR CITY SAFE FROM FLOODING

Adaptation - Resilience - Protection Comhairle Cathrach Bhaile Átha Cliath, Roinn Comhshaoil agus Iompair Tionscadail Tuilte agus Rannán um Chreat-treoir Uisce Dublin City Council, Environment and Transport Department, Regional Projects & Water Framework Directive Division

 www.dublincity.ie


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Built to Last The story of Farrell Doyle is a conservation story in itself and the idea of structural integrity, one of the cornerstones of their day to day work practices lies at the heart of that story.

The business was founded in 2011 by Fintan Farrell who has over 30 years of experience in conservation services and a strong reputation in the industry for his knowledge and expertise. He is descended from generations of stone masons, engineers and construction project managers so he grew up with the industry in his blood. Soon after, his daughter Laura joined the business bringing her own construction and conservation qualifications and experience to the table and in 2018 they rebranded the business from Fintan Farrell Conservation Services to Farrell Doyle Conservation. Together, Fintan and Laura exemplify this cornerstone idea of “blending traditional building methods with new conservation technologies so as to ensure the longevity of historic buildings for future generations.” “It is Our Mission to Ensure that Ireland’s Built Heritage is Capable of Meeting Modern Day Needs,” says Fintan. “We view each building as a living entity. We understand that when a building is allowed to breathe, it can be preserved

and we know from experience that moisture and dampness hinder a building’s ability to breathe.” “If there’s dampness in your building; it’s our job to find it!” Farrell Doyle Conservation provides long term solutions centred on dampness in conservation and heritage buildings and the company’s services are centred on providing remedial solutions designed to suit the needs of each building. “Dampness in buildings is a prevalent problem in Ireland, but thanks to changes in conservation technology, we can protect conservation and heritage buildings for generations to come,” Fintan explains. “When dampness gets into a building, either from precipitation or vapour, it can create problems such as wet rot, dry rot, rising damp and falling damp for example. Having established the presence of excess moisture, Farrell Doyle then set about addressing the challenges facing the building which are categorised across four areas, including: façade restoration, structural waterproofing, timber treatment, damp proofing and façade restoration.

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Façade Restoration

conservation approved waterproofing system.

“Our façade restoration services include lime pointing and rendering, brick and stone cleaning as well as façade protection,” says Fintan. “We believe that blending traditional building methods with new conservation technologies will ensure the longevity of historic buildings for future generations. For example, a recent project we worked on in Park Avenue in Sandymount involved us raking out and repointing red brick chimneys. We then applied a conservation approved breathable sealant to prevent precipitation sitting on the bricks. “The advancing changes in stone/brick cleaning are bringing promising results to the conservation industry. We carried out façade cleaning and lime pointing to the original Wexford Courthouse Building. Rotec Vortex conservation cleaning is the safest and most effective method on the market. Rotec Vortex improves the buildings fabric longevity by 70-90% with cleaning only required every 40-60 years.”

Timber treatment

Structural waterproofing “Waterproofing allows us to make better use of our buildings. We see basements in almost every city across Ireland; these areas are often inhabitable due to their damp nature, which is completely normal for the era in which they were built. It’s not only important to protect our buildings from the outside; we must protect them from the foundations up. A suitably specified waterproofing system will ensure a building is protected from ground damp and from vapour, allowing it to flourish and meet our modern day needs. We Specialise in Type A and Type C Waterproofing and we provide systems that satisfy Grade 1, 2 and 3. We were entrusted to carry out the structural waterproofing to the newly refurbished Stella Theatre in Rathmines. We are also actively involved in the redevelopment of the former Parliament Hotel on Lord Edward St beside ChristChurch in Dublin City Centre, soon to be Hard Rock Hotel. For this project, under main contractor John Paul Construction, we designed, specified and are implementing a

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According to Fintan there are four situations where timber treatment is critical, including woodworm, dry rot, wet rot and timber preservation “Timber is a remarkably strong material and has the potential to last hundreds of years when treated well. A trait we see in buildings all across Ireland. We carried out timber preservation at the redevelopment of former stables at Abbottstown house in Dublin 15. These stables were converted to office space, with all original timbers kept and preserved.”

Damp proofing Farrell Doyle Conservation look at Damp Proofing in a Building when the following issues are identified: Radon gas control, rising damp, falling damp, lateral damp and condensation which requires Mould Control and cold bridging. “Older buildings were built with no insulation, as normal for the time and we tend to see condensation, mould and cold bridging occurring regularly in these buildings,” says Fintan. “One issue that stood out for conservation and heritage buildings was their ability to be energy efficient and provide adequate comfort for the users. The last 10 years has seen a major shift in this area. We can now implement fully breathable dry lining systems which meet conservation criteria. This makes our built heritage energy efficient, rids homes of condensation and mould issues as well as ensuring these aged buildings can grow with our changing needs. “A family home in Rathgar Dublin 6 entrusted us to put a fully breathable dry lining system, IQ Therm by Rememrs, to the test. By implementing this system and increasing insulation to the subfloor and attic space, we were able to bring the home from a BER G rating to a C2 rating – an improvement which is excellent for a property of 120 years of age. “When we merge traditional building methods with conservation technology we are taking these buildings with us for generations while maintaining their character and history. A guiding of our history to meet centuries to come.”


Public Sector Magazine

PRESERVING OUR HERITAGE TO LAST A LIFETIME

Wexford Courthouse

Services Fa c a de r es tor at ion Lime pointing Lime rendering Rotec vortex cleaning Facade protection

Structural waterproofing

Fintan Farrell 087 - 1192740 Fintan@farrelldoyleconservation.ie Laura Doyle 085 - 1496297 Laura@farrelldoyleconservation.ie

Type A systems Type C systems

Timber treatment Woodworm Wet rot Dry rot

Damp proofing Rising damp Falling / Lateral damp Radon gas control Condensation / cold bridging / mould control

Remedial surveys Specialist damp consultancy Pre-purchase condition survey

Brick chimney repair

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Training Day A CIF survey has found unanimous support for apprenticeships, however 73% of construction companies say they are not in a position to hire an apprentice. According to a survey carried out by the Construction Industry Federation, 23% of companies named cost as a barrier to hiring apprentices, with 22% citing the duration of an apprenticeship as a problem. A further 55 % of companies said lack of supports prohibited them from taking on an apprentice. “There is a definite interest and need for companies to take on apprentices. The construction industry has been and will continue to be the sector with the most apprentices, accounting for nearly 80% of all apprentices,” CIF Director General, Tom Parlon said. “The good news is that we are seeing increases in many construction-related apprentices, showing that the model does work. Overall, apprentices are up 37% from last year, albeit from an historically low base. “However, there are a number of trades such as plastering, floor and wall tiling and joinery that are yet to recover. These trades are most important in residential and housebuilding and we need to urgently address these shortfalls. Our survey found that SME construction companies, recovering from the downturn, are unable to absorb the cost of taking on apprentices in the numbers the industry requires to sustain itself. Small changes to the model in some areas can make it viable for companies to take on apprentices again. “SMEs can’t afford to take an apprentice plasterer on for four years. During this time, the block release system means that the apprentice is unavailable for 6 months of the year. This apprentice must be paid, and a replacement hired. Allowing day release and altering the sequence of off-the-job apprenticeship phases could really help here. “SOLAS and the CIF have designed an apprenticesharing system where companies can band together to ‘share’ apprentices. This flexibility ensures the apprentice has work throughout the duration of the apprenticeship, receives quality training and ensures employers can manage workload. Such schemes have been launched in Cork and Waterford/Wexford with a number of other regions establishing consortia.” The CSO has reported that construction employment is now around 145,000. Since the nadir of 2013, the construction industry has been hiring an additional 1000 people per month. In 2018, that number increased to 1500 per month. However, industry apprenticeship numbers in some trades failed to record significant improvements and declined in some important subsectors, such as the wet-trades – bricklaying, plastering, painting and decorating and tiling.

Apprentices are essential to the development of a modern construction industry, according to Dermot Carey, Director of Safety and Training, CIF. He points out that in 2006, there were over 25,000 apprentices in the industry and an annual registration of 8,306. “In 2016, DKM, SOLAS and CIF identified demand for 3,840 new apprentice registrations annually. Today, we only have around 3,000 new registrations so this number needs to grow, particularly in skills areas relating to housing,” he says. “If the construction industry continues to grow as forecast, a lack of apprentices will have a long-term impact on our ability to grow. It will put upward pressure on wages across the industry and ultimately, it is possible that some trades will be left with a void of homegrown talent. “The Government’s new focus on increasing apprenticeship in Irish society is to be welcomed. We need to highlight to young people and parents that an apprenticeship is a brilliant way to start a career and to earn while you learn. We believe that schools need to talk to pupils about apprenticeships, as currently, they focus on the CAO system. With such high dropout rates after first year, you need to ask should schools have directed some of these pupils into apprenticeship, rather than directing them to CAO?” Last year, Dublin Institute of Technology (Now TU Dublin) published its Trades & Apprenticeships skills survey. This highlighted the shortage of apprentices in Irish construction and proposed recommendations on how the apprentice model can be modified to make it more accessible for employers. It recommended that companies taking on apprentices in critical areas should have zero-rated employers’ PRSI contributions. It also recommended the introduction of a trainee grant for a limited time to support SME companies taking on apprentices.

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Manning the Defences Dublin City Council has a vast remit and is involved in an extensive range of sectors and activities. One area which requires greater attention in recent years is flood protection and Ireland’s largest local authority has mobilized significant resources to combat the potentially devastating impact of a major flood. Gerry O’Connell, Senior Engineer, Dublin City Council talks to Public Sector Magazine.

Representing a population of 530,000 residents and catering to millions of visitors every year, Dublin City Council is the largest local authority in Ireland by quite some distance. It provides over 500 services to the public and accounts for a turnover in excess of €1bn. Chief among the extensive list of vital public services provided by Dublin City Council are housing, roads, traffic, libraries, parks, cleansing, fire brigade, planning, civil defence and emergency services as well as social and community projects and centres.

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It also employs 6,000 people to carry out these public services, 500 of whom are on a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with Irish Water. In addition, Dublin City Council takes an active role with other local authorities and major stakeholders at a regional level to help make County Dublin and the eastern region reach its development potential. In particularly, the City Council is actively working on making Dublin an even smarter city with more efficient uses


Public Sector Magazine

of existing resources, better information to develop, where possible, schemes to transfer, and better communications reduce flood risk. by exploiting many new initiatives “Flood awareness and flood warning particularly in the Information are non-structural ways of reducing flood Technology area. risk. Flood walls and embankments, One issue which has increasingly been flood storage and flow diversions are exercising minds at Dublin City Council is typical forms of flood mitigation measure the growing threat of flooding and Senior scenarios proposed by these studies,” he Engineer, Gerard O’Connell who works says. “These scenarios are then assessed primarily in the area of flood alleviation, economically, environmentally and reducing pollution to rivers and flood socially for their viability and likely global emergency forecasting and planning is warming scenarios are looked at. a key stakeholder for directing the city’s “A scheme has to be buildable response to major flood alerts. and it cannot increase the flood risk “It is one of the main responsibilities significantly elsewhere. For a scheme to of Dublin City Council; to minimize flood be economically viable the cost of the risk to its citizens insofar as is reasonably proposed works and associated activities, possible,” he says. including environmental, social, 50 years O’Connell is keenly aware of the maintenance, etc. when added up have potentially catastrophic consequences of to be significantly less than the estimated Gerry O’Connell, Senior Engineer a major flood and can recall the event of flood damages protected by the flood February 2002 when the highest ever recorded tidal flood event scheme.” flooded over 1250 homes in the city area and caused devastating The Flood Projects and Water Framework Division of damage. Dublin City Council manages all schemes from the clients “This highlighted that something urgent had to be done with point of view with DCC sometimes taking the role of designer, regard to coastal flooding,” he says. “This flood caused around project supervisor of design process or project supervisor of €60m in damages at the time. Since then €30m of flood defences construction stage on some of the smaller projects. have been carried out at Spencer Dock, on the tidal region of the The Office of Public Works (OPW) is the national competent Dodder, on the lower Tolka and elsewhere in the City.” authority for the implementation of the European Union Floods An even higher tide occurred more recently on 3rd January Directive in Ireland. Following the development of a flood 2014 and resulted in damages of only €0.1m thanks to the alleviation scheme under the CFRAMS process which leads to a old and new flood defences. “The new coastal defences have CFRAM Plan for each major river and coastal body; many flood already paid for themselves within a period of only 12 years,” alleviation schemes are then progressed by the local authority O’Connell notes. to the planning stage with the approval of the OPW. Many of In October 2011 a major rainfall event caused the flooding of the larger schemes require Environmental Impact Assessment over 1200 buildings in the City Area. As a result, further flood Reports which go to An Bord Pleanála for approval. CFRAM alleviation projects are progressing on the Dodder River while Plans for Dublin City were launched in May 2018 by Minister a local scheme has been completed on the Camac at Lady’s Boxer Moran in the presence of An Taoiseach. Lane and a further scheme is nearing completion on the Wad “Once planning for the scheme is approved by DCC, River in Clontarf. In addition, local flood storage schemes have funding can be applied for, either partially or in total, to the been completed in Finglas, Cabra and Ashtown. A cycle way OPW. The OPW carry out some schemes using their own direct with some coastal protection has been finished in Dollymount labour force and this can greatly speed up the construction of between the causeway and the wooden bridge. the project as procuring a contractor to do it can often take a According to O’Connell a further coastal flood protection year,” O’Connell explains. scheme which is almost complete on the south campshires “The OPW and their hydraulic consultants can also provide between Butt Bridge and Cardiff Lane will protect over 3,000 advice throughout each project. Often, proposed minor changes buildings between this new wall and the railway line up to the required in construction works can be computer modelled to national tidal flood standard of a 200 year tidal event plus a prove no significant changes are required in construction. The provision for sea level rise to the year 2100. OPW also have a country-wide knowledge in river and tidal Future flood schemes are being progressed on the Poddle construction methodologies and can quickly assess construction River, the Dodder River upstream of Clonskeagh, the Wad River options. Each construction project is a close liaison between the in Clontarf, the Liffey Estuary and Sandymount promenade. The OPW, the Local Authority and the construction consultants to Camac River and Clontarf Promenade are being re-evaluated. produce the best solution. The OPW also have a pride in their O’Connell points out that the majority of these schemes workmanship which is completed to a very high standard. are being developed in close co-operation with the Office of Many of these schemes are in very high profile areas. Public Works through its Catchment Flood Risk Assessment “Even so, many of the proposed schemes would not and Management Studies (CFRAMS). These studies look at all progress without the help of the public and local residents of the major rivers and coastal zones in Ireland which have a associations giving their support, especially if they have been flood history or are likely to be at significant flood risk and aim flooded in the past.”

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Public Sector Magazine

You can count on CEL Established in Ireland in 1974, Clonmel Enterprise (CEL) is a leading main contracting and civil engineering construction company and has been associated with some of the most significant and transformative projects to have been built in Ireland over recent decades.

Up to its establishment in Ireland, the company had traded in the UK where it completed a variety of civil engineering schemes. In Ireland it initially concentrated on pipeline schemes both for waste water and water supply. In 1985 Clonmel Enterprises was awarded the Lucan Bypass, the largest road scheme in the country at that time. Since the Lucan Bypass, the company has completed other large road schemes including the Blanchardstown Bypass, outer ring roads linking Tallaght and Lucan, N7 widening from Naas Road to Rathcoole and, as part of a JV with Laing O’Rourke, on the N7 widening and interchanges scheme from Rathcoole to Naas. These schemes varied in value from €25m to €130m. Over the same period CEL have carried out numerous other smaller scale road schemes in more urban locations. These schemes typically were traffic management in nature, widening single lane to dual carriageway, reconstructing traffic light controlled junctions, constructing roundabouts to junctions, providing for bus lanes, cycleways and cycle paths. The nature of this work has evolved over the last 25 years from the construction of roundabouts to manage traffic speeds to the current standard of provision for cyclists and pedestrians particularly at junctions and generally to maintain safe access alongside vehicular traffic. The nature of these contracts demand skills different to those required for larger scale ‘greenfield’ type contracts. Planning is much more critical as activities are likely to be of shorter

durations and the possibility of an unknown event is greater, according to Eamonn Stapleton, Managing Director, CEL. “To allow effective planning, a good understanding of existing conditions is important. Most contracts will provide an amount of background information particularly from the various utilities bodies,” he says “The better the nature of the initial information and the amount of additional information which can be sourced the more effective the planning can be. Over the years CEL have developed procedures and more importantly skills in our staff which are very effective in identifying and planning for these events.” The consequence of this investigation and planning normally results in significant interfaces with the varied utility bodies and CEL have developed and maintained good relationships with these utility bodies over the years. “We respect the importance of each service to its owner and the procedures they have established over years of operation and we respect the responsibility of our points of contact with each utility body,” Eamonn says. “We believe our approach in dealing with the utility bodies allows us to identify solutions to utility issues which may not be possible through strict contractual approaches. We believe we have an approach which has found a balance between initial civil works costs, utility diversion costs and time.” During the period of reduced public sector spending Eamonn says private sector spending on commercial

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“We believe our approach in dealing with the utility bodies allows us to identify solutions to utility issues which may not be possible through strict contractual approaches. We believe we have an approach which has found a balance between initial civil works costs, utility diversion costs and time.” developments interfacing with public infrastructure required similar approaches and Clonmel quickly adapted to private contracting. “We offered complete packages where we could plan projects taking account of both the utility issues and local authority procedures for carrying out works in their jurisdiction,” he says. “Fortunately, public sector investment has begun to return to previous levels and these market opportunities are welcome. Regardless, we are all aware of the resource challenges in the industry at the moment and businesses have to be innovative to deliver projects.” CEL has built up very appropriate resources for these contracts over the years and has always carried out the works with direct resources. Engineering and supervision resources are all directly employed and have generally been with the company over the long term. CEL have been Engineers Ireland CPD accredited for a number of years now which recognises the

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Eamonn Stapleton, Managing Director, CEL

company’s continuous commitment to the ongoing training of engineers as well as other supervision. “The manner in which our contracts are managed is a consequence of the consistency of our training,” says Eamonn. “The majority of the labour employed on the contracts are directly employed and again are generally long term. They all receive the most up to date training and we allocate labour based on their suitability for a contract. This training regime has helped us overcome some of the challenges of reduced resource availability although it is still difficult to introduce resources into our industry. “Additionally we are ISO certified in both Quality and Environmental standards since 2007 and 2014 respectively. “CEL have a large plant inventory with plant of varied scale which can provide for the various demands of these contracts. We have an ongoing programme of replacement of plant which ensures the highest standard of safety within our plant section.”


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1

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WHY

BUILT CONCRETE TO LAST A1 A2 A3 B

2

FIRE SAFE

4

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ENERGY EFFICIENT

6

A1 A2 A3 B

3

A1 A1 A2 A2 A3 A3 B B

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RESILIENT SUSTAINABLE

Concrete Built is Better Built 142

A1 A2 A3 B

COMFORTABLE

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LOCAL

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www.concretebuilt.ie


Public Sector Magazine

Stand the Test of Time Necessary Foundations to meet 21st Century Challenges

In recent years there has been much commentary on the shortage of newly-built houses to meet the demands of an ever-increasing population in our country. This shortage of new homes has undoubtedly been a major contributing factor to the levels of homelessness currently being experienced, particularly in larger urban cities. Clearly, Ireland’s housing market has evolved from a situation a decade ago, where supply greatly exceeded demand, to today’s reality where output, while steadily increasing, has struggled to reach the levels required, particularly in our capital city. The level of house building in Ireland is a complex issue, is influenced by many factors and has been the subject of detailed analysis by many experts. However, it is now generally accepted that a substantial limiting factor on output is the shortage of skilled labour available to work on construction sites. Any analysis of labour market trends in recent years will quickly highlight the lack of new entrants taking up apprenticeship opportunities in the construction trades. Shortages of skilled trades such as blocklayers and plasterers will limit output in the house building sector and will also impact on supplier industries such as concrete manufacturing which depend on these trades to use the industry’s products on building sites. As a consequence, and in order to maximise speed of build, house builders may understandably seek to increase the use of offsite pre-manufactured construction solutions. While it is highly likely that the use of offsite construction methods will increase in the future, this should not be at the cost of quality and end user satisfaction. Government needs to review the current apprenticeship model in Ireland to encourage more of our young people to enter these trades and forge highly successful careers while exploiting the benefits of tried and trusted construction methods to achieve the highest standards in house building.

The lack of skilled labour is now contributing to construction cost inflation which impacts of the cost of house delivery, a topic which also has been the subject of much commentary in recent times. In April 2018, the Irish Concrete Federation (ICF) carried out an analysis of the cost contribution of aggregate and concrete materials typically used in the construction of a standard three bed semi-detached house in Dublin. Many outside of the construction industry, and indeed within it, may be surprised to learn that the cost of these materials, which form the basic structure or fabric of a house, accounts for less than 5% of the cost of house delivery. The ICF analysis clearly demonstrates the excellent value for money provided to society by aggregate and concrete materials. While alternative materials can increase the speed of construction it is important to understand why concrete has become the world’s most used man-made material. It is locally sourced and broadly abundant, resilient, durable, fire safe, and fundamental for infrastructure, clean water and vital structures for the clean energy of tomorrow. It enables modern society to exist as we know it and will continue to do so as we adapt to face the pressing issues of today and the future. The Irish construction industry will deliver approximately 23,000 houses in 2019. As we move towards an extra million people by 2040, the need to maintain a consistent and sustainable level of residential development must be encouraged and enabled. This will require investment in education, skills, technology, materials and standards. The Irish concrete industry is committed to working across the full value chain, including with Government, education providers and construction professionals to maximise concrete’s benefits, while addressing the essential standards that Ireland expects. This article was provided courtesy of the Irish Concrete Foundation (ICF)

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A Decade of Delivery Last year LMC Energy Solutions, trading as LMC Group, celebrated its tenth anniversary. Established in 2008 by Martin Lydon and Stephen McConnell the firm, which started off with a headcount of 4 employees, has grown to become one of the leading engineering, facilities management and manufacturing companies in the country with over 200 employees.

The fact that the company achieved such impressive and sustained growth levels over the last decade is all the more remarkable when considering the firm was established just as the country was plunged into the worst economic crisis in generations. The impact of the crisis was felt most acutely in the construction sector and it is a tribute to the leadership and resilience showed by Lydon and McConnell that the company not only survived but thrived and prospered. “It was challenging to begin with but we stuck to our guns and put faith in our engineering abilities and the quality of our offering,” says Lydon. “During any recession there’s always the temptation to go with the flow of the market but we made a conscious decision to concentrate on more challenging technical projects. We therefore took on the likes of healthcare

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and laboratory works that really enabled us to showcase our technical expertise. Our success in tackling such projects led us to secure similar types of work as our profile increased.” LMC Group has traditionally focused on providing building services contracting nationwide and over the years has developed into a leading hard services facilities management company boasting an impressive portfolio of clients. The services provided range from design development, building services engineering, BIM, project planning, procurement, project management, project execution and commissioning to asset register compilation and client handover. The company also provides energy auditing and facilities management. Key to the enviable reputation which it has established in the wider construction industry has been a track record


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for quality, performance and reliability allied to a ruthless adherence to budget and agreed schedules. “We pride ourselves on our reputation of always delivering projects to specification and within budget and we have successfully achieved this across the medical, educational, commercial, retail, healthcare, pharmaceutical and microelectronics sectors,” says McConnell. LMC Group, has adapted BIM into their process, an advance which Lydon says has helped to further optimise the services provided to its clients and ensure that construction excellence is delivered on each occasion. “BIM enables us to provide certainty of cost and design and to drive efficiencies throughout all aspects of a project - from design right through to life cycle care,” he explains. As an ISO 45001:2018 (Safety), ISO 9001:2015 (Quality) and ISO 14001:2015 (Environmental) accredited group of companies, LMC Group is committed to ensuring that all tasks are executed in a safe manner that ensures compliance to both the regulatory standards and industry best practice. “We have the capability to deliver the complete contracting package to service the built environment from initial design through construction and life time operation to optimum end of life replacement,” says McConnell. “With our knowledge and experience, we can deliver all of this safely and in the most energy and cost-efficient manner. Our company provides a practical approach to project execution and we use our vast experience to work with designers and clients to offer value engineering solutions for the entire Building Services installation.” According to Lydon a company has to stand out from competitors in order to succeed in a competitive market and he credits the calibre of staff at LMC Group and the level of engagement which they undertake with clients as well as the size and flexibility of the company as the key factors underpinning its success. “Most of all, it is our people that help to ensure we provide the most dynamic services solution to our clients,” he says. “The ‘LMC way’ is: improving, evolving, paying attention to detail and ensuring our clients’ satisfaction and we pride ourselves in always achieving this aim!” Over the last year LMC Facilities Management has also expanded- into the education, retail and healthcare sectors and is primarily focused on multi-site contracts that can complement their current clients. LMC FM Ltd. have

focused on the fact that they can offer centralised and managed solutions to a client’s facilities management issues that provides for continuity across their estate in terms of quality, process and buying power. That allowed for significant expansion of the FM department as it currently covers more than 80 disciplines. Responding to market needs, LMC has expanded into an entirely new area and in 2017, LMC Modular Ltd., a modular manufacturing company was established to produce modular bathroom and kitchen pods which are currently in high demand on construction sites across Ireland. The company is primarily manufacturing bathroom pods for the residential, hospitality and student accommodation sector, but there are plans in place to expand the range to encompass one-off designs from its dedicated factory in Birdhill in County Tipperary. With business booming LMC is making plans for further expansion. LMC Group is already a sizeable enterprise but the very rapid growth of both the engineering and facilities management sides of the business, as well as the new manufacturing wing has resulted in additional staff being recruited on a weekly basis. “LMC has been really focused and determined and has worked very hard to achieve their objectives – running and growing a large multidisciplinary and well-managed group of companies, which finds reflection in the awards and construction market recognition,” says McConnell. The company’s upward trajectory is apparent on every front. Last year it surpassed the €27m per annum turnover target and it expects to further increase turnover to €35m in 2019. In a landmark year which saw the company celebrate a decade of success, LMC Group also saw its achievements applauded when it won the Business Award for Best Building Services Contractor to the Construction Industry from Public Sector Magazine. With such a stellar performance delivered against the odds in its first ten years, few would bet against the company repeating its record of success and achievement over the next decade.

“During any

recession there’s always the

temptation to go with the flow of

the market but we made a conscious decision to

concentrate on

more challenging

technical projects. We therefore took on the likes of

healthcare and

laboratory works

that really enabled us to showcase our technical expertise. Our

success in tackling such projects

led us to secure similar types

of work as our

profile increased.” the Public Sector Magazine

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Public Sector Magazine

Better Connected Wavin: Working with Local Authorities to build a better Ireland As Ireland’s largest manufacturer and distributor of plastic pipes and fittings, Wavin’s success has been achieved by paying close attention to product quality and development, and by creating a special relationship with suppliers and customers. Throughout the last 5 years, there have been radical changes in the construction industry as the regulatory side of the sector has been completely restructured. Starting with the introduction of BCAR (Building Control Amendment Regulations) and more recently with Irish Water taking foul & water systems into charge, Wavin has been to the fore in embracing these changes to ensure compliance with our extensive product portfolio.

As a result, no longer is a sewer pipe just one type of pipe!

Lightweight and easy to install – requires no lifting equipment

Foul Sewer Drainage Pipe Options Wavin PVC smooth wall pipe SN4 EN13476 to BCAR and Part H Compliance

Wavin now offers smooth wall pipe to SN4 for BCAR or Part H Compliance or an SN8 version to comply with Irish Water Code of Practice Dec 2017 along with our TwinWall Sewer System (Ultra Rib) which is fully EN13476 SN8 compliant. Wavin also offers a range of inspection chambers in 315, 450 and 600mm diameters, approved to BS EN 13598-1&2 and meets the requirements of IW Code of Practice 2017. The Tegra 600 range of non-entry inspection chambers are used for above ground access and maintenance inspection of buried pipework down to 1 metre depth with loading applications B125 (12.5 tonnes) and D400 (40 tonnes) (please refer to Wavin guidelines for correct installation). The polypropylene chamber is designed to be directly connected to 160mm, 200mm, 250mm and 315mm large diameter PVC sewer pipe. The Tegra 600 is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to traditional manhole construction as they are quick and easy to install, they are lightweight so require no lifting equipment, save time on site, and are easier to transport and handle on site.

SN8 EN13476 to Irish Water Code of Practice Dec 2017

Wavin Twinwall Ultra Rib SN8 EN13476 to Irish Water Code of Practice Dec 2017

Wavin U Drain Fittings To EN1401

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Selection of Inspection Chambers 315, 450 and 600mm diameters to BS EN 13598-1 & 2 and meets the requirements of IW Code of Practice 2017

With quality assurance now crucial in every aspect of construction, it has never been more important for product reliability, proven performance and service guarantees from your supplier of choice! For more information on Wavin products and regulatory compliance, please connect to better@wavin.ie or Customer Service on 01 8020200.


Public Sector Magazine

It’s Time to Think not Sink…. The risk of flooding in urban areas and storm water management is an ever-growing issue with climate change, increased urbanisation and a push to build more housing placing greater pressure on existing drainage systems.

Market leading BIM Revit Packages that are BSI Kitemark™ approved.

The effects of climate change on rainfall levels and frequency has forced many local authorities to consider long-term solutions for water infiltration and attenuation. Recent research by Newcastle University in the UK points to a frightening prediction on how climate change will affect flooding in European cities. The landmark study analysed changes in flooding, droughts and heatwaves for all major cities in Europe. Ireland and the UK have some of the worst overall flood projections with cities like Cork, Waterford and Derry, among those Irish cities that were highlighted as being likely the worst hit cities for river flooding. Of the European capitals, Dublin, Helsinki, Riga, Vilnius and Zagreb are likely to experience the most extreme rise in flooding. To protect against the potentially catastrophic damage caused by excess water overwhelming standard drainage systems, developers are turning to SuDS (Sustainable Drainage Systems). Geocellular modular plastic units have been used for stormwater management throughout Europe since the 1980’s. They are used to form underground structures which manage stormwater; either allowing it to infiltrate back into the surrounding ground, or by attenuating it and then releasing it at a controlled rate into the existing drainage network. They help manage flood risk as part of good SuDS design.

Introducing Wavin’s Q-Bic Plus modular stormwater management system: setting new standards in inspectability & ease of maintenance. Q-Bic Plus is Wavin’s next generation system in the design and production of stormwater management systems and solutions. It offers significantly enhanced design freedom, easy and speedy installation and seamless access for inspection, cleaning and maintenance. Q-Bic Plus is also supported by market leading BIM Revit packages and is fully BBA approved. Wavin’s Q-Bic Plus flexible stormwater management system fits perfectly with current best practice for sustainable drainage systems to include a priority on maintenance and access as part of any design.

A New Standard in Inspectability The open tank design incorporates column units for an open structure that can carry vertical loads. The six supporting columns units have a ‘4-in-1’ design to provide extra strength and stability when the preassembled-units are combined. The structure also has 70% of its floor space open allowing for easy maintenance with lateral and vertical access for inspection and

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Q-Bic Plus open structure allows real, workable access for inspection and maintenance

–Smart connection requires no pegs, clips, caps or tools cleaning equipment. The design incorporates a surface design with wide access and bi-directional guide channels of up to 370mm to allow for smooth and unobstructed access of CCTV and cleaning nozzles. This reduces the number of vertical access points required. Lateral chamfers keep CCTV cameras on track and the open structure allows for a 360-degree picture of the open structure during inspection. Access for inspection and maintenance is a major requirement for any attenuation system in 2019. Q-Bic Plus opens up a real opportunity for modular plastic geocellular systems to be adopted as part of the development drainage scheme, according to Martin Lambley, Product Manager for Stormwater Management, Wavin. “Its open structure allows real, workable access for inspection and maintenance, something which historically has been a barrier to such systems being considered for adoption,” he says.

Flexible tank design The modular system of the product can be configured in different shapes to give flexibility of design depending on the site conditions whilst also giving a 96% stormwater storage capacity. This includes the tank orientation and layout as well

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as different connection options to allow effective infiltration or attenuation whatever the area. A choice of base plates are available with a solid base plate for attenuation and a perforated base plate for infiltration. Inspection access inlets and outlets can be placed in almost any position. The product is also fully BIM (Building Information Model) enabled allowing for the design to be fully integrated into the overall project.

Safe and Easy installation The customer-led design of the system has led to a number of ergonomic features for safe and easy installation including light weight nestable components with hand grips and rounded edges. A level walkable surface can be created at each level of installation with no trip hazards or protruding vertical connectors allowing for safe construction of the next layer. Integrated, patented connectors, that secure the units both vertically and horizontally, automatically slide into one another for quick and easy installation without the use of small parts or specialist equipment. For more information on Q-Bic Plus, we invite you to inspect it in depth at qbic.wavin.co.uk.


Public Sector Magazine

NO ROUNDABOUT WAY ABOUT IT Wavin’s Q-Bic Plus ticks all the boxes for Norfolk County Council Developing a new four-arm roundabout to open up new land for development, Norfolk County Council (NCC) didn’t have the option of feeding the rainwater runoff into the existing local sewer system. The council therefore needed a water attenuation system that would be simple to install and easy to maintain. Requiring a system that would meet various stringent specifications, the council and project contractor, Tarmac, worked with water management experts Wavin to develop a bespoke solution. Tackling the Problem Straight On Before breaking ground on the project in Mundford, Thetford, NCC needed to ensure it would adhere to various regulatory requirements from both the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) and the Environmental Agency (EA). The LLFA stated that any proposed system for the new roundabout would need to be designed to cope with a 1 in 100-year storm event, while also offering an additional 40% allowance for climate change. This meant a large amount of storage would be needed in the small space, calling for an advanced stormwater system. The site is also within an EA Source Protection Zone 3, requiring the proposed drainage system be fully inspectable. To meet these requirements, NCC engineer Ting Liu designed a water attenuation system featuring Q-Bic Plus. Once developed, Liu called upon the services of Wavin’s technical team to check and confirm the designs. The team confirmed that Q-Bic Plus would be an ideal effective option to provide an inspectable and flexible solution for the compact site. Liu, Engineer for NCC’s Community and Environmental Services, explains: “There are many storm water attenuation systems on the market, but not many can be inspected. We opted to use Wavin’s Q-Bic Plus system due to its storage and infiltration capabilities, alongside its easy accessibility for inspection. We were also impressed by the support Wavin’s Technical Team provided in confirming our designs and product selection were best for Mundford.” Easy Maintenance and Flexibility Due to its high storage volume and 70% open floor space, Q-Bic Plus provides lateral

and vertical access for easy access for inspection and cleaning equipment. The product also offers significantly enhanced design freedom, speedy installation and seamless access for inspection, cleaning and maintenance. These features made it the perfect fit for the project. Once the designs were finalised, Wavin worked closely with Tarmac to ensure the project ran smoothly. The Tarmac site team hadn’t worked with the product previously, so Wavin provided on-site training on the simple installation process for all team members. A Fork in the Road Upon breaking ground, Tarmac’s team found existing utility infrastructure below the old roadway that couldn’t be removed. These utility lines ran perpendicularly to the initial Q-Bic Plus designs. Fortunately, the flexibility of the product meant that Wavin’s technical team could easily adjust the design – rotating it to run parallel instead – allowing work to continue to original timescales. Sean Rasberry, Gang Foreman on site for Tarmac, said: “When we initially received the delivery of Wavin’s Q-Bic Plus on site we were a little apprehensive. It was a big delivery and not something we’ve worked with before, but the flexibility and ease of installation of the product was great. We’ve even managed to save a few days on the installation process to get the project finished ahead of schedule.” On the Road to Success Installation of the Q-Bic Plus crates finished in late November, with the full project expected to be completed and handed to NCC ahead of Christmas. Martin Lambley, Wavin Product Manager for Stormwater Management, said: “Our technical and product teams worked together

to provide the perfect solution to meet Norfolk County Council’s requirements and sit within the stipulations from the LLFA and EA. “This project is a key example of the flexibility of Q-Bic Plus and the design and technical support we offer as a business. There’s more to Wavin than just product and we’re delighted we were able to assist the council and Tarmac in being able to deliver this project ahead of deadline.” Wavin boasts over 25-years’ expertise and innovation in infiltration and attenuation technology. For more information on Wavin’s Q-Bic Plus solutions, connect to better at qbic.wavin.co.uk.

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Public Sector Magazine

Building Construction Skills Mount Lucas: A progressive and innovative approach to helping develop the construction skills base across the country

At the National Construction Training Centre, Mount Lucas, non-craft worker training and certification of new entrants and experienced workers in the National Construction Skills Certificate (CSCS) is provided to the highest possible standards. The centre also offers construction related traineeships targeted to address skills gaps within the Industry. In addition, Mount Lucas administers both the CITB UK changeover programme for Irish CSCS cards to UK CPCS cards and the UK Health, safety & environmental (HS&E) Test, the compulsory preclearance test that enables entry to work on UK sites. Laois and Offaly Training Board (LOETB) manage the National Construction Training Centre at Mount Lucas. It is the State’s training and education arm in the region and thus must ensure that while meeting industry needs, it simultaneously facilitates, supports and prepares unemployed people, not merely for a job, but for a career in the construction industry. This is achieved through providing a range of skills required by industry but also through developing relationships with employers that ensures training continues long after employment begins.

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Training is not confined to unemployed people. By working with industry stakeholders, the National Construction Training Centre at Mount Lucas has devised a set of easily adaptable non-craft worker training programmes to meet evolving Industry needs. All services provided at Mount Lucas are funded and supported by SOLAS and the training provision is delivered to respond to industry while simultaneously meeting the specific needs of people who are unemployed, under-employed, or those are in employment but require new or enhanced skills. According to Centre Manager John Kelly, the public sector is an important market for Mount Lucas. “Mount Lucas maintains a collaborative relationship with the Construction Industry Federation and other bodies that guide the training provision to meet developing gaps within the industry,” he explains. “During 2016, for instance, our Employment Skills for Construction (Formwork) Programme was developed in partnership with SOLAS, the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP), CIF, local construction


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employers and City & Guilds to train construction workers, as a specific need had arisen within the construction sector. “The facilities at Mount Lucas include a 33-acre site complete with a fully simulated work environment that replicates actual building sites. We have over 15 acres assigned for machinery training, we also have a 700m2 Construction Hall that is used for small machine training and is currently in use as a workshop for the traineeships. All areas in Mount Lucas are set out so participants are trained in construction skills in real work environments. And like any building site, if participants arrive to site without appropriate Personal Protection Equipment, they are not allowed onsite.”

Scaffolding Craft Apprenticeship LOETB are part of a National Consortium Steering Group that is developing a scaffolding apprenticeship programme. The Scaffolding Craft Apprenticeship will lead to a twoyear apprenticeship at Level 5 on the National Framework of Qualifications. It will provide comprehensive skills and understanding of the mechanics of scaffold, the different forces acting on scaffold structures, and incorporate specialist skills to ensure that apprentices are fully competent. The curriculum, currently under development, will be submitted to QQI in June 2019 and, subject to validation, the apprenticeship scheme is scheduled to commence in September 2019, with the first group of scaffolders qualifying in 2021. Training will be carried out in Mount Lucas and Ger Crowley, Cork Scaffolding and Chairman, NASAC, welcomed this landmark event for the Irish construction industry. “Advances in scaffolding and access systems, as well as improved health and safety measures, have prompted the establishment of the apprentice scheme, which is a major landmark event for the sector and the wider construction industry,” he said. “We look forward to working with LOETB and Mount Lucas on the roll-out of the programme later this year.” Scaffolders qualified under the current CSCS programme who wish to gain a scaffolding craft certificate will be required to build up a portfolio of work, setting out their skills, competence and knowledge, and a practical test will take place. This process has yet to be decided, however, a timeline for gaining the craft certificate is expected to ensure standards across the industry. Mount Lucas is both an accredited City & Guilds and QQI

centre and delivers bespoke Construction related training. It has recently expanded the fleet enabling the centre to increase the training provision for both new entrants and experienced operators as part of the CSCS programmes. As part of the fleet, a Saez Tower Crane has been sourced with the added features of both a hoist and a Jumbo training cab allowing both the Instructor and the trainee to work alongside each other enhancing the training experience. The National Construction Training Centre’s innovative approach to training and clear commitment to what they do has been recognised with an Excellence in Business award from Public Sector Magazine for exemplary services to construction training in Ireland.

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Lo Call (24Hrs) 1890 757575 Phone (+353) 1829 3979/81 Fax (+353) 1829 3978 EMERGENCY NUMBER (24HRS)

(+353) 86 084 0850

Taskforce Security specialises in the provision of uniformed and plain clothes security personel for commercial and industrial sites, shopping centres, business parks and governments departments. • • • • •

Manned Guarding / Static Security Mobile Patrols Alarm responses and Key Holding Opening and lock-up service Reception Security and Duties

info@taskforce.ie www.taskforce.ie 152

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In Safe Hands Safe & Secure: Taskforce Security Management Services is a market leader in the Irish security sector and offers s a broad range of services including specialised guarding, advanced technology solutions, consulting and specialised security training. Established in late 2009, Taskforce Security Management Services Ltd. was a small operation with a workforce of just four people when it was awarded its first contract early the following year. Today the company can call on a workforce of almost 100 employees and this impressive rate of growth was achieved despite one of the worst recessions in generations. Year-on-year, the company continues to expand and it has achieved a turnover in excess of €2.5 million in the past 3 years. Director Richard Condron attributes much of the company’s success to the strong relations which it cultivates with clients and an approach which prioritises honesty, integrity and reliability. “Our services are not based on costs alone but also on how the service is delivered,” he points out. “It is our mission to provide the best service possible at the most reasonable rates. We are totally customer focused and as a result we have never lost a contract due to poor performance or inadequate service.” Taskforce Security Management specialise in the provision of uniformed and plain-clothes security personnel to the commercial, residential, construction, industrial and educational sectors as well as to business parks and government departments. Services include manned guarding, mobile patrols, key holding, alarm response, opening and lockup of premises, reception and porter duties and facilities management. Excellence in terms of service delivery is the cornerstone of the company, according to Condron. “Our capability is based on our employment philosophies and practices which, in turn, enables our service excellence and provides the foundation for our service delivery,” he explains. “We also provide a detailed operational structure that is fundamental to delivering a security service based on best practices. Our Operations Centre supports this service excellence and further enhances our proven capability to deliver quality solutions to local and national customers.” The need for evolution and innovation in the provision of security services is acknowledged by Condron and the company’s growing customer base. Experience with existing customers confirms his belief that such measures, including the expansion of service provision into related areas, ultimately delivers significant added value. The range of options available to clients of Taskforce Security Management Services is extensive. Mobile patrols, for example, is an alternative package available to clients who do not favour manned guarding. In this instance a patrol team will carry out regular/irregular checks of a location, tailored to the client’s requirements to ensure that everything is in order. An opening/lockup service is also available whereby Taskforce patrol teams have the duty of opening and closing a client’s premises. It relieves the burden of allocating this duty to a member of staff. “We will ensure that the premises are fully secured before vacating it,” explains Guarding Regional Manager

Rik De Jager. “This also offers the added benefit of weekend openings, combating situations where a key holder can’t be contacted, thus denying access to a location.” Clients can also choose to avail of a key holding and alarm response service. “You can safely entrust our team to respond to an alarm call that needs attending 24/7,” comments Richard Condron. “A full assessment of the location is conducted after such a call. If required, we will liaise with the Emergency Services and keep our client informed all the time.” Taskforce have also put in place a number of strategic alliances with approved suppliers which allows the company to provide a full range of Facilities Management Services. Citing an example of service quality, Director Richard Condron points to the efforts taken by the company to ensure staff receive expert training and that all established procedures and regulations are rigorously adhered to. “As I have outlined, we provide manned guarding to several sectors. All our staff are PSA licensed, fully vetted and trained in accordance with the PSA standards and requirements. Members of our management team are also fully certified trainers and provide further in-house training on arrests and detention procedures as standard to officers who join our team. In addition, each client’s requirements are unique, therefore additional training is provided to each officer according to the client’s specifications.” Taskforce continue to perform to exceptional levels, customising their services regularly according to client needs, thereby reducing any security risks.

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Choose Natural Gas Lar Burke is the New Housing Manager with Gas Networks Ireland and is responsible for the connection of all new houses to the natural gas network nationwide. He talks to Public Sector Magazine about the company’s expansion drive and discusses the key factors behind the popularity of natural gas as an energy source.

Gas Networks Ireland is part of the Ervia group and is responsible for building, operating and maintaining the natural gas network in Ireland and connecting all customers to the network. Natural gas which accounts for 30% of primary energy consumption in Ireland is transported through a network of 14,172km of pipeline, consisting of both transmission and distribution infrastructure. “Our core purpose is to ensure that almost 700,000 homes and businesses in 21 counties receive a safe, efficient and secure supply of natural gas, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” says Lar Burke, manager of the new housing division at Gas Networks Ireland which is responsible for the connection of all new houses to the natural gas network. The chief remit of the new housing section is to grow the volume of new domestic customers on the natural gas network. In addition to expanding the natural gas network, Burke’s team also research and analyse domestic natural gas applications which contribute to innovative housing solutions that are good for the environment while at the same time meeting the building regulations in a cost-effective fashion. Today, there are over 670,000 domestic customers connected to the natural gas network and last year Gas Networks Ireland added over 7,000 new housing units to the network - all of which complied with Part L of the building regulations for the

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conservation of fuel and energy. The slump in new housing delivery in the aftermath of the financial crisis stalled the pace of new connections but growth has resumed in recent years and the outlook is positive, according to Burke. “It was 2015 when we first saw a slight uplift in the new housing market which has continued to grow steadily over the past few years,” he says. “Since 2015, we have secured orders to connect over 22,500 new housing units to natural gas. This is in addition to the 3,500 existing housing stock we continue to connect year-on-year.” Gas Networks Ireland continues to invest in connecting regional towns to the natural gas network and in recent years has added towns such as Nenagh in Tipperary, Wexford Town, Listowel in North Kerry and Centre Parcs in Longford. Natural gas offers newly connected towns major social and economic benefits for local residents and businesses. “Developing the natural gas network is a key priority for Gas Networks Ireland, in order to ensure that existing network infrastructure can be used efficiently,” says Burke. “There is considerable emphasis on investing in innovation and new business areas such as renewable gas for our commercial and domestic customers and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) for vehicles.” The energy-saving and environmentally-friendly properties of


Public Sector Magazine

The energy-

natural gas are also driving its popularity and as Ireland moves towards nearly zero energy building standards, it is proving to be the perfect partner for renewable technologies, such as solar panels on new houses and combined heat and power applications for district heating schemes in apartment blocks. “Natural gas is cleaner compared to other conventional fuels, reducing carbon emissions, while helping to improve energy ratings,” Burke explains. “Natural gas offers homeowners a wide range of benefits. It’s an extremely versatile fuel, used to provide space heating, hot water, cooking and tumble-drying in homes. It’s controllable and convenient, a reliable fuel that isn’t weather dependent, it is piped directly to the door giving a constant energy supply with low costs for homeowners.” “Unlike other heating solutions natural gas does not require space to facilitate bulky units or fuel tanks, which frees up valuable garden space. Natural gas is also one of the most cost-effective ways of meeting current and future Part L of the building regulations in combination with renewable technologies such as photovoltaic (PV) panels, which when used together help achieve a BER “A” rating.” Towards the end of December last year, Gas Networks Ireland launched a new advertising campaign aimed at highlighting the importance of the gas network to Ireland’s economy and society and the role that natural gas and renewable gas will play in building a cleaner energy future. Called ‘Progress Naturally’, the campaign was developed by Gas Networks Ireland in recognition of the need for a major step change to tackle climate change and it highlights the arrival of renewable gas, also known as biomethane or biogas to the grid. According to Burke its potential as a renewable fuel for heat, electricity and transport is well recognized in response to the EU’s commitment to becoming a highly energy-efficient, low carbon economy. “Renewable gas as a carbon-neutral fuel can make significant contributions to meeting Ireland’s renewable energy and greenhouse gas emission targets for 2020 and into the future,” he says. “To achieve this level of renewable gas, Gas Networks Ireland is focused on supporting anaerobic digestion with initiatives for the agriculture sector and the commercial waste industry sector.” Renewable gas is a carbon-neutral fuel which is produced from different organic matter usually crops, slurry and food waste. It is generated through a process called Anaerobic Digestion (AD) and upgraded to biomethane which can then be injected into the

existing natural gas network. According to Burke, extensive sources of biogas are available in Ireland and over 40% of biogas feedstocks are either on or close to the natural gas network. “In conjunction with other industry stakeholders Gas Networks Ireland is investing in the renewable gas collectionlogistics and central grid-injection facilities located on the gas transmission network” he says. “With the introduction of renewable gas to the natural gas network, homeowners can be reassured by knowing no changes are needed within their home or to any of their current appliances.” “This potential indigenous renewable gas has the ability to satisfy 20% of Ireland’s gas needs by 2030. Renewable gas allows a diversified supply from indigenous renewable gas injection facilities with the natural gas network offering energy storage as well as a greater security of supply.” The Causeway project is another particularly significant initiative and is supporting the formation of a national Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) refuelling network comprising 70 stations in addition to a renewable gas injection facility and the deployment of a fleet of CNG vehicles. “The Project represents a significant step forward in delivering a sustainable alternative fuel for Irish transport,” says Burke. “It will demonstrate the validity of CNG as a viable alternative to diesel for Ireland’s transport operators. CNG is cheaper by up to 35%, it releases considerably lower emissions of greenhouse gases compared to diesel and petrol, improving air quality and having a positive impact on health and the environment.” “One of the key objectives for the Causeway Project is to increase customer awareness of the potential for alternative fuels such as CNG for transport and the future role of renewable gas in the market.” “Gas Networks Ireland is committed to supporting the development and growth of renewable energy in Ireland. Innovation is key and with the development of novel biogas purification technologies, the integration of smaller scale production and the opening up of new routes to customers will continue to have a significant impact. End user technologies are continuously improving and will make the use of gas more efficient in the future.” “Natural gas is the perfect partner for intermittent renewable technologies as we transition towards a low-carbon economy.”

saving and

environmentally-

friendly properties of natural gas

are also driving its popularity

and as Ireland

moves towards

nearly zero energy

building standards, it is proving to be

the perfect partner for renewable

technologies, such as solar panels on new houses and

combined heat and power applications for district

heating schemes in apartment blocks.

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Construction and Brexit In the Irish construction industry, Brexit - and in particular a hard Brexit - will have an impact both on the practicalities of construction projects and their contractual nature. Kimberley Masuda, Senior Associate, Matheson (Construction and Engineering Group) examines the likely consequences. Most in the industry are likely to be anticipating supply chain difficulties as a result of Brexit, based on the additional costs and delays associated with tariffs and duties between borders. However, aside from logistical issues, there will also be significant obstacles concerning the ability to use construction products sourced from the UK. Within the EU, construction products for which a harmonised standard exists are subject to the Construction Products Regulation (305/2011) (“CPR”), which provides that all such products must bear a CE mark and have a Declaration of Performance (“DoP”). This CE mark identifies the product as one which complies with the CPR and as being suitable for the end uses specified in the DoP, in other words, certifying that the product is “fit for purpose”. Following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, all UK products will lose their CE mark and will have to be re-assessed by a notified body in the EU, in order to be given a CE mark for use within the EU. The number of UK products which will require re-assessment is unclear, and how long the re-assessment process will take is difficult to predict. This will have unavoidable time and cost implications for construction projects which are in progress, and those due to begin in the near future. The effect may be critical on projects where contractors normally import products or materials from the UK. Following Brexit, we may face a period where supply dries up entirely, or where additional demand on domestic suppliers/sources cannot be readily absorbed. In any case, projects may face delays while contractors obtain alternative sources for equivalent goods and materials. Setting aside the CE marking issue, uncertainty remains around the tariffs and duties that will be imposed once the UK is no longer a member of the EU. Continued volatility with the exchange rate may also be an important factor to consider in this context. As well as the import of products from the UK, there may be similar concerns regarding UK qualified professionals operating within the construction industry in Ireland. In order to act as an Assigned Certifier, Design Certifier or one of the main ancillary certifiers in connection with the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014, for example, consultants must be one of the specified registered professionals in Ireland (i.e., an Architect, Engineer or Building Surveyor). Where the consultant is already registered with the relevant professional body prior to Brexit, these consultants should be unaffected. Although the application for registration is in part based on EU nationality, the consultant is not required to remain an EU national to maintain that registration. Post Brexit, UK qualified architects, engineers and building surveyors (including EU nationals qualified in the UK) will still be entitled to apply for registration based on the national laws but will not benefit from automatic recognition of their qualifications. However, certain concessions are being made. The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland propose to continue to accept UK

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qualifications awarded prior to the withdrawal of the UK without further assessment where an application is made under national law post Brexit. Engineers Ireland have also signed an agreement with the UK Engineering Council to ensure the continued mutual recognition of professional engineering Kimberley Masuda, Senior Associate, titles, including the title Matheson (Construction and Engineering Group) of Chartered Engineer. UK nationals with only temporal or occasional registration will however lose their registration upon Brexit. In the context of drafting and negotiating construction contracts, the main point of tension is who will be responsible for any costs and delays arising from Brexit. We are seeing a trend in recent projects where contractors are refusing to take the Brexit risk, on the basis that they cannot price a risk which is unknown. The logic behind this argument is difficult to contest. Contractors are seeking broad exemption clauses which would entitle them to extensions of time and additional fees should any Brexit related difficulties arise. To address the uncertainties of Brexit, we are currently drafting clauses which can soften the impact of Brexit, by giving clients a means by which to participate in Brexit related decisions. For example, the inclusion of approval clauses to address the situation where a contractor can’t source goods/materials in the EU without delay or where goods/materials originally sourced from the UK don’t have an equivalent in the EU. Brexit will also affect the resolution of contractual disputes. Following its withdrawal from the EU, the UK will no longer be a party to the Recast Brussels Regulation which ensures the reciprocal enforcement of court judgements in EU member states. As well as this, the UK will no longer be considered a signatory to the Lugano Convention. The combined effect is that enforcing judgements obtained in the UK in Ireland (and vice versa) may be difficult. One way of combatting this issue is to ensure that Irish construction contracts are subject to commercial arbitration. Arbitration awards are governed by the international New York Convention, as opposed to the EU legislation that governs court judgements. Post Brexit the enforcement of arbitration awards is, therefore, unlikely to be affected. Kimberley Masuda, Senior Associate Tel: +353 1 2322 798 Email: kimberley.masuda@matheson.com


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A perfect destination to enjoy activities and adventure – on land, in the water and even in the air, County Kerry is a natural playground for young and young-at-heart, with hiking, cycling, surfing and sailing, golf, fishing and star-gazing all on offer. Kerry is gaining a world-wide reputation as a ‘foodie’ destination with traditional pubs, cafes and restaurants offering high quality, locally-sourced food and beverage. With a wide range of accommodation and great travel options to suit every budget. The Kingdom of Kerry awaits.

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Profile for The Public Sector Magazine

The Public Sector Magazine  

A quarterly publication which is distributed to all departments in the public sector, semi-state bodies and civil service.

The Public Sector Magazine  

A quarterly publication which is distributed to all departments in the public sector, semi-state bodies and civil service.

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