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

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Public Sector Magazine

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

Managing Editor Tommy Quinn tommy@devlinmedia.org Sales Paul Halley Martin O’Halloran Linda Hickey Tony Doyle Dermot Kelly Maria Smyth Helen Fairbrother Production Manager Joanne Punch Administration Manager Elaine Emerson Contributors Nicola Donnelly Kevin Carney Frank Collins 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.

24 Marie O’Connor

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News Latest news from the Public Sector Happy Threads Dressed to Impress Budget 2017 A prudent approach Procurement Rules of the road Dispute Resolution Mediation for peace William Aylmer A mediator of choice The 30% Club Marie O’Connor talks up diversity Think Manager – think male. |Think again! An up-to-date insight into |womens’ role in management Diversity is best Rhona Blake, MD, FleishmanHillard spreads the word Championing Diversity Deloitte: Taking a vested interest in diversity Higher Education Advancing gender equality in higher education institutions Arcana: Global Events Specialists Bridging the gender divide Taking the Lead Robert Watt brings the civil service on board

50 54 57 61 62 64 67 69 71 73 74 77

Compass Club by Coillte Where children have fun and grow in the forest Focus on Fostering Orchard Children’s Services Changing Lives Supermac’s Pat McDonagh discusses his recent visit to Zimbabwe with Trócaire Living Links Providing assertive outreach support to the suicide bereaved An Act fit for purpose The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 DCU: Age-Friendly Learning Promoting an inclusive approach to healthy and active ageing Third Age Senior Help Line When Every Minute Makes a Difference Comfort Keepers Caring for people in their home Royal Masterpeace Easing the workload of the carer ‘Positive Ageing 2016’ Over 7% of people aged over 50 report feeling lonely Healthy Spend Health received €14.6, its highest ever allocation in Budget 2017 Health of the Nation Summary report of the second Healthy Ireland Survey

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78 81 85 89 90 94 96 100 104 108 113

Zinopy Cyber Attacks – Be Prepared Future Proofing Health A 10-year vision for health Action on Education Government launches Action Plan for Education Castlebar Regional Training Centre Servicing the training needs of local authorities University College Cork Changing Face of Libraries Cork County Library Educating, informing, enlightening and enriching the lives of citizens Cork City Library Fostering a Love of Learning IPA Enhancing the quality of Irish public services Developing the Regions South Eastern Regional Assembly All Eyes on Galway ‘Making Waves’ for Galway as the European Capital of Culture 2020 Clare County Council Shannon’s time to shine

117 High Price of Brexit Action needed to manage Brexit risks 118 Connecting the City Full steam ahead for the Luas Cross City line 123 Road Works M50 traffic problems now at ‘breaking point’ 124 Total Highway Maintenance One-Stop Traffic Shop 126 Natural gas The fuel of choice 132 Protecting our Heritage Fintan Farrell talks conservation 137 Biomass Chipping away at our fossil fuel addiction 131 You’re Hired Construction industry can potentially generate 112,000 jobs by 2020 139 Get Back to Building CIF calls for higher levels of capital investment 143 Stewart A Foyer with a difference

145 148 149 150 152 154 156 158 160 164 168

Limerick A City on the Rise Icarus Properties A better standard of workmanship In the Pipeline Tailor-made solutions for municipal infrastructure Specialist Technical Services World class competence - personal service Bennet Construction Built to Impress Connect with Wavin Better solutions whatever your need Building for The Future The Sammon Group celebrates its thirtieth anniversary Beginning to Build Big increase in number of homes built in main cities Circle VHA Solutions for the homeless Housing Agency An urgent need to deliver more affordable housing FDI Strategy FDI policy must be based on talent, technology, sectors and great places

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Public Sector News

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

Mr. Pat Kearney and Mr. Maurice A. Buckley receiving The Public Sector Award on behalf of ECO Systems International

(l-r): Lisa Joyce, Senior Associate, Mason Hayes & Curran, Niall Michel, Partner, Mason Hayes & Curran and Catherine Allen, Partner, Mason Hayes & Curran

INFORMATION SOURCEBOOK Mason Hayes & Curran’s Public & Administrative Law team has launched its revised Freedom of Information Sourcebook, the most comprehensive annotated guide to the FOI Acts available. This is the first revision of the Sourcebook since the new Freedom of Information Act came into operation in 2014. The introduction of the new Act marked a new era in FOI in Ireland, as it contains significant amendments and additions to the previous FOI regime, including extending the application of FOI to all public bodies, unless specifically exempted, and giving power to the Minister for Public Enterprise and Reform to prescribe (or designate) other entities receiving significant public funds as also coming within the reach of the Act. Each section of the Act is annotated with references to all relevant amendments, secondary legislation and court decisions, as well as codes and guidance issued by the Central Policy Unit of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.  The publication continues to be a unique offering in the field of Irish FOI. Speaking at the launch, Catherine Allen, Public & Administrative Law Partner with Mason Hayes & Curran, said “These are challenging times for FOI practitioners. With a 38% increase in FOI requests made to public bodies in 2015 and the Office of the Information Commissioner increasingly focusing on those bodies that do not issue timely decisions, a reference guide such as our sourcebook is an indispensable resource for anyone working in the FOI field”. 

Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Alan Shortt

CELTIC BALL The Ireland Chamber of Commerce – USA (ICCUSA) hosted their 28th Annual American Celtic Ball on Friday, October 7, 2016 at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. The dinner honors individuals who have demonstrated a commitment of excellence through business, philanthropy, commerce, education and the arts. The Sir Michael Smurfit Business Achievement Award was presented to Mr. Edward C. Wallace, Shareholder and New York Co-Chairman of Greenberg Traurig, LLP. The Albert Schweitzer Leadership for Life Award was presented to Mrs. Mary Davis, Chief Executive Officer of the Special Olympics and Mr. Thomas P. DiNapoli, Comptroller of the State of New York. In addition to their philanthropic endeavors throughout the evening, a portion of the proceeds from the American Celtic Ball also benefits the ICCUSA Foundation Inc. or also known as, The Albert Schweitzer Leadership for Life (ASLFL) program. The youth leadership development program works to inspire and enable young adults (ages 15 to 18 years old) all across the globe, to become confident and effective leaders, as well as good stewards of their local and global communities.

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Public Sector News

TACKLING UNDER PERFORMANCE AT WORK A new policy to tackle poor work performance by civil servants has been approved by the Civil Service Arbitration Board (CSAB) which says the new underperformance policy being proposed is compatible with “good HR practice”. A number of employee representative bodies have expressed concern about the proposal and the CSAB has recommended delaying its introduction until January 1, 2017 to coincide with the first year of a revised performance rating system across the civil service. The CSAB says it believes the manner of the policy’s introduction is equally important to gain maximum support from the country’s 36,000 civil servants. The board examined the issue after Department of Public Expenditure and Reform officials and the Civil Service General Council Staff Panel (CSGCSP) failed to reach agreement in talks which began last September. The CSGCSP, which has representatives from four of the biggest civil service trade unions, opposed the department’s plans to strengthen the linkage between underperformance and discipline. It expressed concern that a revised performance rating system, whose first results will be known at the end of 2016, is untested. They believe that more civil servants would be deemed “unsatisfactory” under a new two-point rating scale. However, department officials say the new underperformance policy will give a clear process for management and staff who have not improved after warnings. The need to strengthen measures to take more effective and decisive actions to tackle poor performance, including dismissal, was identified in the Civil Service Renewal Plan launched in October 2014. Between 2010 and 2014 less than 1% of staff were rated as unsatisfactory under the performance management system used within the civil service. A review of the system in 2010 concluded that: “The award of too many high ratings and too few low ratings is the established practice.

“The new policy is designed to improve existing underperformance arrangements, providing greater transparency with processes built on principles of natural justice and closely reflects good HR practice in other sectors.” They outlined how the policy would seek to address underperformance through informal procedures in the first instance. Failing that a performance improvement plan would be activated which would provide for at least five progress meetings with affected staff with warnings issued in a progressive manner. The department says the full protections of the disciplinary code will be offered to employees. It claims the policy is robust because its rehabilitative element, combined with an 18-month timeframe, allows for appeals against negative findings. Officials stressed that they do not envisage any individual who is medically unfit coming within the scope of the policy. However, if performance remains unsatisfactory at the conclusion of the performance improvement plan, a disciplinary meeting will be held where actions up to and including dismissal can be taken. Civil servants will not receive warnings “out of the blue” and individuals will be made aware of any issues — and the consequences if there is no improvement in their performance “in a timely fashion”.

QUANGOS ON TRIAL

REFUSING TO BUDGE

Government quangos will be closely scrutinised and will have to prove their worth every five years in order to avoid being stood down under a new “sunset clause”. The new code of practice for state bodies provides for the first time that the functions and work carried out by each quango will have to be put under the microscope by its parent department. The new accountability measures will apply to hundreds of agencies. The Institute of Public Administration’s governance specialist Paul Turpin said that it makes sense to ask if a valid case exists for standalone organisation at various intervals. “But it was notable in the last election, people weren’t promising a bonfire of the quangos. People realise that it is about delivering correctly in the right way and in terms of performance”. There is also an increased emphasis on performance for state companies which will now have to draw up a performance delivery agreement with their parent department and report to the Minister on progress with targets. The code also emphasises that the 250,000 cap on salaries for new chief executives introduced in 2012 must be adhered to.

Minister of State Sean Canney is pressing ahead with plans to move more senior civil servants out of their cosy private offices. But senior officials are resisting plans to create more open-plan offices which are already common in the private sector. Senior civil servants argue that moving to open plan will damage their productivity. Minister Canney said that he remains determined Minister of State Sean Canney to proceed with the plans for open plan offices in his role overseeing the Office of Public Works. “If you have an open plan office you can move into a smaller place. You have to get optimum value for money. Everybody just can’t have their own office,” he said. Private offices are usually only given to senior civil servants those at principal officer and assistant principal level and above.

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Dressed to impress Happythreads: Ensuring satisfied customers while keeping healthcare professionals happy and comfortable at work.”

Happythreads, a modern healthcare uniform supplier was established by Daniel Plewman in 2009 from a spare room in his home in Stoneybatter Dublin. Unemployed at the time, he had formerly worked in construction while his wife Abigail is a fulltime healthcare professional The idea originated when Abigail struggled to find scrubs she liked and turned to ordering online from America. Her scrub manufacturer of choice was the popular global brand KOI (the fastest growing scrub manufacturer in the world). After inquiring whether their products could be sourced closer to home Abigail was informed that the company didn’t have a UK or Ireland distributor but were actively recruiting for the position. The rest as they say is history. Daniel registered a company as a scrub distributer in UK and Ireland and began distributing the KOI brand in Ireland. From these humble beginnings the Happythreads has grown to become a significant supplier in the Irish healthcare sector and now employ twelve staff from its base in Kimmage.

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The Happythreads Product range include healthcare scrubs, white-coats, scrub hats, clogs and socks. “Basically Happythreads kit-out the healthcare professionals from ‘top to toe’,” says Daniel. “Our golden rule is ‘make customers happy’ and we believe that happy staff make happy customers. This policy appears to be paying dividends and Happythreads has grown by approximately 50% year on year since its inception. Happythreads caters for both the budget conscious and high end segment of the market and covers a broad swathe of the healthcare sector with uniforms suitable for nurses, doctors, auxiliary professionals, lab technicians, mid-wives, dentists, vets and veterinarian assistants, home-helps, nursing home staff, pharmacy staff and childcare staff, to name but a few. From the outset, Daniel was committed to providing high quality product and it has been an important factor in driving the company’s brand and reputation. “Most scrubs are made from polyester or a polyester mix whereas Happythreads uniforms are cotton rich and made with comfort in mind. They


Public Sector Magazine

also incorporate super-tech-engineered fabric with 4-way stretch technology. Quality and comfort is a particularly important consideration for work wear because if you are wearing a uniform for 60 hours a week and working in a demanding environment, it is important to be comfortable.” Feedback from clients confirms that Happythreads uniforms wear and wash well and are both long lasting and comfortable. Happy Threads provide a “ladiesfit” as well as a Unisex fit while the majority of other scrubs suppliers provide solely a unisex fit which is frequently bulky and unflattering. In contrast Happythreads uniforms are both stylish and flattering. ‘Keep staff happy to ensure happy customers’ is more than simply a slogan at Happythreads. It lies at the core of the company’s philosophy. “I don’t think anyone will argue that staff who are fulfilled and satisfied in their work provide a far better level of service. So we listen to our staff, we invite opinions and feedback and focus on providing the best possible working environment for our staff. This is ultimately to the benefit of customers who are at the heart of our business and we want to make sure that we provide them with the best quality products and ensure that they have an easy and stress-free shopping experience with us.” In terms of outlook for the future, Daniel says that the most immediate challenge is to effectively manage the growth of the company and prepare guard against the negative impact which he expects Brexit to have on the wider economy. “But first and foremost our task is to continue to keep our customers satisfied. Otherwise our goals for 2017 are to manage the Brexit fall-out successfully while sustaining and growing profit margins: We want to ensure happy customers while keeping healthcare professionals happy and comfortable at work.”

“Basically Happythreads kit-out the healthcare professionals from ‘top to toe’. Our golden rule is ‘make customers happy’ and we believe that happy staff make happy customers.

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Public Sector Magazine

A Prudent Approach Conor O’Brien, head of tax and legal service at KPMG hopes that future budgets will contain personal taxation measures that maximise inward investment and domestic entrepreneurship. Budget 2017 is the second budget in a row where the Government’s choices have been about how to distribute benefits rather than how to distribute austerity. The movement away from years of austerity will be very much welcomed by a population that endured severe hardship with remarkable discipline. This discipline, combined with the skill of policymakers in retaining a very competitive business taxation regime, has been crucial in restoring Ireland as one of the fastest growing economies in the developed world – this is best reflected by the growth in employment numbers in recent years. Wary of repeating the mistakes of the past, the minister has continued the cautious and steady approach of previous budgets. This includes managing down the national debt and creating a “rainy day” fund for the future. Storing up grain during years of plenty has been wise policy since the days of Pharaoh – the minister’s proposals in this regard will be welcomed by prudence fans everywhere. In his Budget speech the minister reiterated Ireland’s enduring and extraordinarily firm commitment to the 12.5% rate of corporation tax. This, combined with the recent decision to appeal the EU Commission’s ruling on Apple, demonstrates the Irish State’s unrivalled commitment and reliability as a partner for international business. This remarkable reliability has been demonstrated by successive governments of every stripe and now stretches back for six decades. The minister indicated that he was alive to both the dangers and the opportunities arising from Brexit and this was influential in his decision to retain the 9% rate of VAT for tourism. This will be welcomed by the tourism sector much of which remains marginally profitable. OECD research shows that, after corporation tax, personal taxes have the greatest impact on a country’s competitiveness. The importance of personal taxes will grow in the future due to the impact of changes in international taxation law arising from the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project, etc. It is well established by the laws of economics, and by common sense, that small, peripheral economies with relatively little mineral resources need to take particular care of their competitive position in order to compensate for the external diseconomies that they suffer.

Personal Taxation In our view, it has been clear for some time that attention needs to be given to Ireland’s personal taxation regime and in particular to the treatment of internationally mobile executives and domestic entrepreneurs.

A degree of personal tax relief was included in the budget, building on that provided last year. Key measures included: n A 0.5% cut in the rate of USC for low to middle incomes n A reduction in the rate of capital gains tax from 20% to 10% on up to €1Mof gains earned by entrepreneurs n Introduction of a first time house buyer’s tax credit with a value of up to €20,000 n An increase in the main exempt CAT threshold from €280K to €310K with proportionate increases in the other thresholds n A further closing of the gap between the tax credit available to the employed and the self-employed n A phased reduction of the rate of DIRT by 8% over four years n A phased restoration of full interest relief for landlords over a five-year period n A commitment to introduce a share incentive scheme for SMEs by 2018 A €2,000 increase in the “rent a room” relief n Extension of the Special Assignee Relief Programme (SARP), Foreign Earnings Deduction (FED) and “Start your own business” reliefs n The continued policy of denying any tax relief on incomes over €70,000 is to be regretted. Ireland already has the most progressive income tax system in the EU and the second most progressive in the OECD – recent budgets, including this one, will have skewed this even further. The top 1% of income earners in Ireland already pay more than the bottom 75% combined and suffer marginal tax rates that are very high compared to competitor countries. There is a great deal of economic research that supports the proposition that those earning over €70,000 are being “milked” to a degree that is counterproductive i.e. the exchequer might actually collect more revenue if it were to reduce the income tax rates applying to this group and thereby attract more senior executives, entrepreneurs and related business activity to Ireland. While the cut in the rate of Capital Gains Tax for entrepreneurs is to be welcomed, the failure to raise the threshold to a level comparable to that available in the UK (or to that in the program for government) is disappointing. The minister indicated that the level of the threshold will be reviewed in future budgets. It is to be hoped that future budgets will combine further tax relief for low to middle earners with personal taxation measures which maximise inward investment and domestic entrepreneurship together with the associated growth and jobs to the benefit of all our people.

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Procurement: Rules of the Road Peter Brennan, Bid Management Services, has warned that up to €8bn of Government tenders in Ireland will be won by overseas companies unless indigenous companies become more professional €90 bn in supplies, services and works will be procured across both Ireland and Northern Ireland over the next five years, presenting a significant sales opportunity for companies of all sizes from sole traders to PLCs. However, according to Peter Brennan, Chairman of Bid Management Services, and co-author of a new book Public Procurement: Rules of the Road, up to 11% of that value may be won by overseas companies simply because indigenous companies do not tender either aggressively or professionally enough. According to Brennan, Irish companies need to up-skill to prevent non-Irish companies getting a significant share of the Irish procurement market. “Irish companies have no automatic ‘right’ to win Government contracts and in too many instances that we have seen, indigenous companies have lost out because of the poor quality of their tenders” he said following the recent launch of the book in Dublin. What we call ‘leakage’ of procurement contracts to firms in other EU member states is normally under 2%. However, in Ireland the leakage rate of 11% is far too high. We need to reverse the trend of transferring a significant proportion of Government expenditure outside the State with a resultant loss in tax revenue and jobs. The book, Public Procurement: Rules of the Road, contains a vast amount of insight and know-how: n It provides, for example, details about: n The Office of Government Procurement; n NI’s Central Procurement Directorate; n Key sources of information; and n A description of the procurement market on the island of Ireland. n It covers procurement rules, including the implementation of the 2014 Procurement Directives and issues such as framework agreements, how best to form bid consortia, and works contracts. n It also deals in detail with developing a winning bid strategy, including pricing options, and explains how bids are marked and how tender competitions should be managed. n Advice is given about writing in a compelling manner to win bids and how to produce and submit a bid response to the highest quality standard. A special feature of the book is that for the first time ever procurement and tendering on the island of Ireland has been addressed in a comprehensive manner. Joanne Gillen, CEO of Bid Management Services, said the company is launching an e-Learning programme to assist

This is one of the most informative, well-written and essential business books published in recent years. Sennator Padraig Ó Ceidigh, Aer Arann companies improve their tendering performance ‘Having trained thousands of companies in the art of tendering and having won over €1 bn in contracts for our clients, we know there is a huge demand for professional training to help SMEs

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A special feature of the book is that for the first time ever procurement and tendering on the island of Ireland has been addressed in a comprehensive manner. win more tenders,” he said. “In response we’re launching our Tender Training Excellence e-Learning Programme. This nine module training series is unique in Ireland and will be made available on our website free of charge.” These training materials will be of considerable help to LEO companies, to the membership of Ibec, SFA, ISME and Chambers Ireland; in fact, to anyone interested in tendering for government or private sector work. Bid Management Services, co-owned by Peter Brennan and Joanne Gillen, is the largest tender and procurement consultancy on the island of Ireland and is the only consultancy that is ISO certified. Further details are available on www.bidmanagement.ie

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BID MANAGEMENT TENDER TRAINING The modules of the free Tender Training Excellence eLearning Programme include: n Introduction to tendering n eTenders and sources of information n The EU Procurement Directives n Framework Agreements and forming a bid consortium n The bid management process and developing a winning bid strategy n Pricing strategies and how bids are assessed n Writing a compelling bid response document n Producing a bid document n Contract management


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Public Sector Magazine

Mediation for Peace There is significant evidence that the use of mediation for dispute resolution is good for both public and private bodies engaged in a commercial dispute. A significant benefit offered by mediation, particularly in commercial disputes, is costeffective and swift access to justice. It is precisely for this reason that mediation can be so beneficial to businesses, public bodies, NGOs and other organisations that often don’t have the same resources to fight lengthy legal battles as large corporations.

The Business and Commercial Mediation Pilot Scheme However, awareness of the benefits of mediation is not as widespread in Ireland as it could be. In response to this, Chambers Ireland consulted with our stakeholders in the legal and mediation community to discuss how organisations could be encouraged to consider mediation as their first port of call when resolving disputes. From these discussions, the Business and Commercial Mediation Pilot Scheme was launched on the 1st September 2015 by a cross section of bodies (Chambers Ireland, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, the Law Society, the Bar Council of Ireland and the Mediator’s Institute of Ireland) with the objective of promoting the use of mediation as a cost and resource efficient way for businesses and other organisations to resolve commercial disputes. The initiative is also supported by the Courts Service of Ireland.

What is Mediation? Mediation is a flexible settlement technique, conducted privately and confidentially, in which a mediator acts as a neutral facilitator to help the parties try to arrive at a negotiated settlement of their dispute. In mediation, both parties have control over the decision to settle the dispute and the terms of any settlement agreement.

What are the main advantages of mediation? n PRESERVING RELATIONSHIPS Going to court can often be a polarizing experience, whereas a core benefit of mediation is that it can preserve relationships. Whether the dispute is with a valuable client or an important supplier, mediation focuses on resolving the

matter in a way that keeps relationships intact. Mediators help shape the discussion to promote respect and common goals, and generate creative ideas to resolve the dispute. n ENCOURAGING OPEN DIALOGUE Mediation also encourages the open flow of information in a way litigation cannot. The goal is resolution of the dispute, rather than winning at trial. n TIME AND COST EFFECTIVE Perhaps most significant for businesses’ and other organisations’ bottom lines – mediation is timely, efficient and can be a fraction of the cost of litigation, which means less disruption to day-to-day operations. Provided the parties are willing to engage in mediation, there are many different types of disputes that can be resolved through mediation, including, for example: n Contractual disputes n Partnership disputes n Debt resolution n Defamation n Shareholder disputes n Boardroom disputes

How the Pilot Scheme works Should your organisation be interested in having a dispute mediated through the Business and Commercial Mediation Pilot Scheme, the first step is to contact Chambers Ireland to have your case referred to the Pilot Scheme Review Panel. For more information, please contact mediation@chambers.ie or visit our website at www.chambers.ie

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A Mediator of choice... Dublin based solicitor, William Aylmer is carving out a reputation as one of the country’s leading mediators. A keen supporter of the Commercial Mediation Pilot Scheme introduced last year to promote mediation as a solution to commercial disputes, he tells Kevin Carney why mediation is often the best solution for resolving disputes.

The late Henry Kissinger is arguably the most renowned mediator of modern times. Those of a certain vintage will remember the German-born naturalised American as a marmite-like figure back in the sixties and seventies who gained notoriety over the course of his mediation work during the Vietnam war, the cold war with the Soviet Union and the war between Egypt and Israel. For his efforts, President Richard Nixon’s then right-hand man received the Nobel Peace Prize. Dublin-based solicitor William Aylmer is probably not going to be shooting the breeze with Alfred Nobel’s disciples any time soon but he is a mediator with a proven, luminous reputation that continues to grow. As far back as 2009, he was cited in Chambers Global 2009, the Client’s Guide to the World’s Leading Lawyers for Business. It records that William covers an array of contentious cases and is “making great strides” as a mediator. A solicitor of 22 years standing, William is the Principal at Aylmer and Co. Solicitors and - aside from working mostly in contentious legal practice - has been a practicing mediator for the past 12 years. During that time, he has helped resolve disputes in various sectors such as banking and insurance, commercial sponsorship, shareholding, employment, partnership, rent review and the workplace. In September last year, the Commercial Mediation Pilot Scheme was launched by a cross-section of bodies with the objective of promoting the use of mediation as a cost effective and efficient way for businesses and other organisations to

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resolve commercial disputes. Pointedly, William was the first port of call for the thinktank (Chambers Ireland, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, the Law Society, the Bar Council of Ireland and the Mediator’s of Ireland) behind the pilot scheme when the very first dispute was referred to them. Understandably, William is happy to be a cheerleader for the pilot scheme: “I think it is a very positive initiative and is the way forward in my view,” William enthuses. “The problem as I see it is that there haven’t been enough disputes referred to mediation via the scheme which is disappointing but understandable to a certain degree.” Why the disappointingly poor take-up? “Parties in a dispute are more likely now than they were some 10 years ago to turn to a neutral mediator before going to court. But the problem – if there is a problem – is that the percentage of people involved in a dispute who turn to the mediation process for a resolution is still very low relative to the number of disputes that exist at any given time. “I think Chambers Ireland member-Chambers, for instance, need to be more pro-active in encouraging their members to use the scheme in the event of a dispute arising.” Maybe those involved in a dispute don’t see mediation as a necessary process? “Yes, but I would say the need to enter into a mediation process does exist and it does so for three reasons. “Firstly, the parties to a dispute need to avoid spending money that they don’t need to spend. Remember that over


Public Sector Magazine

In September last year, the Commercial Mediation Pilot Scheme was launched by a cross-section of bodies with the objective of William Aylmer

promoting the

90% of all civil and commercial cases in the courts are settled without judicial or arbitral determination.” “Secondly parties need to get a resolution as quickly as reasonably possible and that doesn’t happen in the traditional forums of court and arbitration. “Thirdly parties need to find a solution to the dispute themselves rather than have it imposed by a court or tribunal because that is more beneficial to them in the long run particularly in preserving the relationship that exists that gave rise to the problem in the first place. “Those three essential needs or interests are still there for parties, always have been and always will be. The difference is that they are more likely to avail of the mediation process now because they more familiar with it and more aware of it and that continues to increase.” Why? “Because of the efforts of people like Chambers Ireland and mediators like myself in promoting the process. Also, the judiciary and the Courts Service continue to promote mediation, which might be viewed by some as ironic considering the judiciary’s role but if they consider it worthy of promotion, they must be telling us something! “I am a full time practicing solicitor and I act as mediator when I am appointed, which accounts for maybe 20% of my professional practice.” What makes a good mediator? “There are three essential characteristics common to good mediators in my view: they have to have an ability to listen and that is a skill that is acquired and doesn’t always come naturally; they have to be able to communicate with people who are under stress and to communicate effectively. A mediator must build a relationship of trust with each party. Lastly, a mediator must keep working energetically when it may appear to parties that there’s no prospect of a resolution between them.” Would it be fair to say though that mediation as a means of

The late Henry Kissinger is arguably the most renowned mediator of modern times.

use of mediation

resolving disputes is still a well-kept secret for the most part? “Yes, there’s still quite a lack of understanding and awareness of the process, both at the level of the user but also among the professions, including the legal profession. “Chambers Ireland would say and mediators like myself would say that there there’s an ongoing process of education needed. Are we talking about a hard-sell still being required? “Perhaps parties to a dispute would rather take an easier route. I would say that the low rate of referral to mediation is because, firstly, mediation is actually much harder for people to do than going to court. “For mediation to work, parties must enter into the mediation process in good faith and they must have a real intention to resolve the dispute via mediation. Some people might take what they would consider to be the easier route and leave it to a judge or an arbitrator to decide even if that process is likely to take longer and be more costly. “I completely understand that some people just simply find it too hard, even with a mediator present, to get into a room and come face to face with their adversary to try and work it out.” He agrees with the suggestion that perhaps there’s still a high degree of reluctance on the part of members of the legal profession to spend any of their time in mediation work: “True, because some don’t understand the process and don’t have enough experience of it or they don’t think it is going to work. “There might be a case also where the client doesn’t warm to the idea of mediation or that he simply baulks at any suggestion of trying it because he or she doesn’t understand it.” Parties to a dispute are nonetheless more likely now to turn to a mediator than a judge presiding in a courtroom, to help them resolve their differences.

as a cost effective and efficient way for businesses and other

organisations to

resolve commercial disputes.

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Public Sector Magazine

Diversity Makes Sense The diversity journey – creating impact, achieving results: - Marie O’Connor, partner, PwC and 30% Club Lead in Ireland discusses the organisation’s work to see more women promoted to positions of influence. The equality debate is regularly in the spotlight and it is fair to say that an overwhelming majority of people now believe that success is earned on the basis of an individual’s application and ability rather than their gender, ethnicity or religious beliefs. Despite many efforts in recent times at creating a more fair and equal society, it still remains a challenge in terms of securing an equal footing for women in management teams and board rooms across Ireland, and indeed, internationally. Recent statistics (2015) reveal that 12% of total directors in Irish listed companies are female. This rises to 26% for Irish commercial state bodies. However, in 2015, only 6% of executive directors in Irish listed companies were female and there were no female executive directors in commercial State bodies. Marie O’Connor who leads Ireland’s 30% Club – a group of Chairs and CEOs committed to better gender balance at all levels of their organisation through voluntary actions – believes that progress is being made. She says that business leadership is key which takes the issue beyond a specialist diversity effort and into mainstream talent management. While significant challenges remain, she says that there have been enormous strides made over the last decade in relation to educational opportunities and employment prospects for women generally. However, in the main, women remain under-represented in key decision making roles and Marie believes that their absence from positions of influence represents a significant pool of untapped potential and talent. Research from the OECD and other bodies show the tangible and measurable benefits from having a diverse and gender balanced workplace, among them increased productivity levels, better governance, improved performance and greater talent and innovation. According to Marie the commitment of business leaders is essential to successfully address the diversity imbalance and promote the kind of change needed to create a society and a business environment in which all our people’s talent is fully, fairly and intelligently harnessed. Marie has enjoyed a stellar career and, as former head of PwC Ireland’s Asset and Wealth Management Practice, she has been a key driving force in encouraging inward investment from US multinationals into Ireland. A specialist in auditing and business development, she was the first women to be appointed

a partner at PwC Ireland and has advised some of Ireland’s most successful investment fund structures and many leading US asset management groups. She has also been appointed to the Boards of several high-profile State organisations by the Irish Government. These have included directorships at Marie O’Connor, partner, PwC Dublin Airport Authority and IDA Ireland as well as membership of the Top Level Appointment Committee, among others. She has been a Board Member of the Ireland-U.S. Council for many years, winning their 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award in June, serves on the Fund Raising Advisory Committee for the Irish Cancer Society and the President’s Advisory Board at UCD. Marie obtained a diploma in business studies from the Dublin Institute of Technology, is a certified accountant and a barrister at law. Throughout her career Marie has championed opportunities for women. For example, over half of PwC’s Asset and Wealth Management Practice, totalling over 350 people, are women. Over a quarter (26%) of all partners at PwC Ireland are women. Throughout all spheres of the organisation, PwC has established a strong reputation for its efforts to promote gender diversity and champion opportunities for women at all levels. It is not surprising, therefore, that Marie was the obvious candidate to lead the 30% Cub in Ireland when the original founder of the 30% Club in the UK, Helen Morrissey, sought to establish an Irish chapter.

“We’re essentially asking business leaders to champion gender equality in their organisations and create the environment and conditions which enables all employees to maximise their full potential, because it makes good business sense and is the right thing to do.” the Public Sector Magazine

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At the presentation to Marie O’Connor of the Ireland-US Council’s 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award at Dublin Castle with Dr. Michael Somers, President of the Ireland’ Chapter. Having forged connections at the highest levels, Marie was ideally suited to approach some of the country’s leading CEOs to become involved and support the goals of the organisation. Marie notes that in Ireland the focus is on gaining support for gender balance at all levels from business leaders in public, private, state and multinational companies, as well as other interested groups. She says that they do not believe that mandatory quotas are the right approach. Instead, the 30% Club is aiming for voluntary, business-led and sustainable change. “We focus on making an economic argument and the fact that excluding a huge portion of the potential talent pool doesn’t make a lot of business sense. Gender inequality in the boardroom is a business issue, plain and simple. “We’re essentially asking business leaders to champion gender equality in their organisations and create the environment and conditions which enables all employees to maximise their full potential. There have been very few who have failed to show any interest. We want company leaders to commit to the principals of diversity and to increasing the proportion of women on Boards and in senior positions throughout their organisation and also to encourage other companies and leaders to do likewise.” Marie believes that quotas are counter-productive and can lead to doubts and question marks about whether promotions are being made on merit. “Women are more than capable of doing so by virtue of their talent alone, if given the opportunity. So, it is an aspirational target and something to work towards. It is a respectable goal to set and research shows that 30% is the proportion – or critical mass - when the contribution of a

minority group are valued in their own right.” One of the factors which persuaded Marie to commit her time to the 30% Club on a purely voluntary basis was the impact which the organisation has had in the UK since it was first established in 2010 with the aim of achieving 30% women on FTSE-100 Boards by the end of 2015. There are now almost 200 members of the UK Club and the proportion of female FTSE-100 directors has risen from 12.5% to 26%. This year the target has been extended to include a minimum of 30% women on FTSE350 Boards by the end of 2020. They are also aiming to achieve a minimum of 30% women on Executive Committees of FTSE-100 companies by 2020. The 30% Club has now become an international movement with the organisation operating in the US, Hong Kong, South Africa, East Africa, Australia, Malaysia, Canada, Italy and the GCC. It is complementary to individual company efforts and existing networking groups, adding to these through collaboration and the visible commitment of senior business leaders – mostly men. The Irish 30% Club was officially launched in January 2015 and currently has almost 150 Chairs/ CEOs of leading Irish businesses committed to accelerating gender balance in their organisations through their voluntary actions. It is a collaborative approach to creating change in Ireland, aiming towards 30% women being on Boards and in executive management by 2020. Marie is keen to pay tribute to colleagues who have been instrumental in helping the 30% Club expand and develop its mission. “Our Advisory Board is extremely helpful and has been forthcoming and open with thoughts and idea. We needed to create

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Public Sector Magazine

and build our own Irish identity and take account of issues which might be particular to Ireland. Members of both the Advisory Board and the Steering Committee are all very accomplished and experienced people and help us grow our reach and influence.” One of the first key initiatives the 30% Club undertook was to commission DCU to carry out a study on the participation rates of women at various levels of management in Ireland. Entitled ‘Women in Management - The Leadership Pipeline’ the report showed that while women are well represented in some areas, there is a great shortage of women in core business disciplines. It revealed that women comprise just over 34% of Managers at Level 2 which is generally three levels down from CEO. This representation falls to 30% of Managers at Level 1 (generally two levels down from CEO) and to 23% at Executive Director/Group Manager level (generally one level down from CEO). Marie believes that there are great opportunities before the boardroom to support the pipeline of female talent progressing through businesses. Evidence suggests that this progress begins to become challenging at around the age of 30. “We need to do a lot of things right to move the needle on gender parity, but one thing we can do in leadership roles, is make sure that we are sponsoring and advocating for talented women in business. We are very focused on the pipeline and identifying ways in which to support these women. These supports can include great flexibility including working from home, better paternal benefits as well as more role models.” Confidence is also a factor and women are more reluctant to apply for positions unless they fulfil all the necessary criteria and specifications. “Research has shown that women will look carefully at the job spec and, unless they feel they can measure at least 8 out of 10 criteria, they won’t apply. Men are much more confident about applying or taking the risk,” notes Marie. According to Marie mentoring is an invaluable tool to assist women in maximising opportunities to fulfil their potential. Last year the 30% Club initiated a pilot mentoring programme in conjunction with the Irish Management Institute (IMI) with six organisations each nominating two mentors and two mentees – there are 80 participants so far this year. “There is a considerable benefit from having more focused programmes in place to promote mentoring and networking and encouraging everyone, not only women, to participate in those programme s,” says Marie. “A mentor can help give you confidence, they can discuss your plan and advise and agree the next steps. You need to work out yourself what you are going to do but your mentor will listen to you and give you good advice. When you have more and more people looking up and saying ‘that could be me someday,’ I think that’s when you start making real progress.” In addition to establishing cross-company mentoring schemes among member companies, the 30% Club is also initiating and supporting networking opportunities, business education scholarships, career strategy programmes and a series of education initiatives. For example, DCU, UCD and the IMI have offered 30% scholarships annually for women. With IBEC, the 30% Club are also working to develop an executive search code to deepen the search for women executives and non-executives. Marie concludes that in today’s fast moving world, achieving diversity is a critical challenge and opportunity for

all organisations. Embracing diversity makes business sense and, more importantly, it is the right thing to do. By sharing experiences and ideas we can all learn from each other and drive the change that is needed. PwC recent research has identified ten lessons on how diversity might be approached: n Tailor the business case, then make it resonate n Recognise there is no ‘quick fix’ n No leadership commitment, no accountability, no progress n Use data analytics in planning the programme and use data analytics in executing the programme n One size does not fit all cultures n Embed Diversity within organisational DNA n A focus on inclusion from day 1 n Recognise performance over presence n Engage the masses There is no doubt that the 30% Club has made a significant impact in a relatively short period of time. And if women require a role model they can surely look to the impressive achievements of a woman determined to shatter the last remnants of the glass ceiling!

30% CLUB – IRELAND CHAIRS ADVISORY BOARD Michael Buckley, Chairman of KKR Alternative Investments & KKR Credit Advisors, Former Chairman of DCC Nick Hartery, Chairman of CRH Anne Heraty, CEO of CPL Vivienne Jupp, Chairman of CIÉ Gary Kennedy, Chairman of Greencore Kieran McGowan, Chairman of Business in the Community Pat O’Doherty, CEO of ESB Lochlann Quinn, Former Chairman of ESB and AIB

30% CLUB IRELAND STEERING COMMITTEE Marie O’Connor (Country Lead) – Partner, PwC Carol Andrews, Global Head of Client Service and Prime Custody, BNY Mellon Darina Barrett, Partner, KPMG Rhona Blake, Managing Director, FleishmanHillard Ireland Peter Cosgrove, Director, CPL Brid Horan, Non-Executive Director, Former Deputy CEO, ESB Rachel Hussey, Partner, Arthur Cox Paula Neary, Client Director, Accenture Mary O’Hara, Partner, PwC Conor O’Leary, Group Company Secretary, Greencore Emer Reynolds, Director, Ondra Partners Anne-Marie Taylor, Management Consultant

OTHER 30% CLUB IRELAND SUPPORTERS INCLUDE: Allianz; Bord na Móna; BT Ireland; Central Bank of Ireland; Citigroup; DAA plc; Dell; Eir; Glanbia; GSK; IBM Ireland; IMI; Insurance Ireland; Intel Ireland; Irish Stock Exchange; Kerry Group; Marks and Spencer Ireland; Microsoft Ireland; NTR Plc; NUI Galway; PayPal; Primark: RTÉ; Sherry FitzGerald Group; Smurfit Kappa; State Street, Teagasc; Trinity College; UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business; Ulster Bank Ireland Limited and Vodafone Ireland

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“If the rate of change of women on boards continues at the current pace, it will be 70 years before even a 30/70 balance is arrived at!�

Anne Marie Taylor management consultant 30

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Think Manager – think male. Think again! To mark its second Annual Conference, the 30% Club Ireland commissioned a research study which provided the most up-to-date insight into womens’ role in management in Ireland. Dr. Melrona Kirrane, organisational psychologist at DCU and Anne Marie Taylor, a management consultant, discuss the critical finding of the report. Remember President Mary Robinson’s ‘Mná na hEireann’ clarion call? And the Spice Girls’ trumpeted ‘Girl Power’. Then there was the Eurythmics/Aretha Franklin ditty ‘ Sisters are doing it for themselves.’However, nowadays it seems that the age-old proverb ‘Ni neart go cur le chéile’ is the catchphrase du jour for those members of the fairer sex with their hands on the tiller. The old Irish saying that declares that ‘There’s no strength without unity’ is finding favour with go-ahead women; particularly those who want more women in business to be afforded the opportunity to gravitate from holding down junior and senior management positions to being fully-fledged board members. The raison d’etre for all businesses is to make a profit and recent surveys have shown that where men and women work together, the net effect is that better decisions are made, better results arrived at and, as a consequence, a richer dividend is invariably attained. In a business of equals - especially in the highest echelons of the world of commerce - the return on invested capital, return on equity, return on sales etc. can be higher in an environment where the operative word in the boardroom is diversity. Last spring, the second Annual Conference of an organisation called the 30% Club Ireland took place in Dublin. The message to emerge from the Conference was clear and precise; business flourishes when a strong gender balance prevails within a healthy work environment. The Conference carried the tag line ‘Next steps – Men and Women Working Together to Achieve Real Change.’ “Women have been speaking to women for a very long time about this (gender balance). We actually should be also speaking to men. We need

to solve this problem together,” Anne Marie Taylor explained to Public Sector Magazine. Ms Taylor is a member of the steering committee of the 30% Club Ireland which is made up of chairs and CEOs of large organisations. It is a body which seeks to gain support for gender balance in business from leaders of public, private, state and multinational companies and other interested groups. Established just two years ago, the 30% Club explores the issue of gender balance across all levels of organisations and seeks to create new pipeline initiatives from schoolroom to board room. To mark its second Annual Conference, the 30% Club Ireland commissioned a piece of research on women in management in Ireland. Its results have presented the most up-to-date insight into womens’ participation in the leadership pipeline in Ireland. Dr Melrona Kirrane, of the Leadership & Talent Research Institute at DCU Business School and DCU’s representative on the Council of Ireland’s chapter of the 30% Club, was a key contributor to the Leadership Pipeline report. “We realised that there wasn’t much data on women in the leadership pipeline in Ireland, so we decided to do some research on this topic to establish the participation rates of women at various levels of the management hierarchy. That is how we came to link up with Melrona who has extensive expertise in this field,” explained Ms Taylor. “It’s a very important report because it will hopefully help us address the reasons why the percentage of women who get to board level is so low and help us also identify where the pipeline blockages are vis-à-vis the route from management level to the boards.” Dr Kirrane is a graduate of NUI and Queen’s University of Ireland. She is a lecturer in Organisational Psychology at DCU Business School and consults to a range of organisations across the financial, legal and IT sectors. One of her key areas of interest is leadership and gender. “I did my PhD in 1993 on the topic of women in management. It has always been a strong area of research interest for me, so it was great to connect with the 30% Club to do this piece of research,” Dr Kirrane informed PSM. The findings of the Leadership Pipeline report show that at the most junior level of management, women now occupy

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only 34% of positions and their representation continues to fall significantly at each subsequent stage of the management hierarchy. The report also illustrates that women occupy a disproportionately low number of managerial roles across organisation types, sectors and size. This is particularly the case in smaller companies and organisations based in the transport and manufacturing sector. Women are more likely to be managers of HR and Marketing and least likely to be managers in IT, Operations, Sales and Finance functions. This report will provide a baseline for a longitudinal study over the next five years and its findings will be used to explore the reasons for women’s lack Dr. Melrona Kirrane, of management progress and organisational psychologist at DCU to identify strategies by which the pipeline of female business talent can be strengthened. Formerly a Senior Executive with Accenture and with almost 35 years of experience as a management consultant, Ms Taylor currently sits on a number of boards. Her research work on women on boards back in the nineties on behalf of Network (an organisation for women in business) was ground breaking and her subsequent work with the Board Diversity Initiative (which she co-founded in 2010) makes her a natural bed-fellow of the 30% Club Ireland’s think-tank. She remembers her research for Network unearthing statistics in the early nineties that showed that just 6% of board members in Ireland at that time were women. In 2010, she looked at the stats again and the figure had risen to just 10%, so progress is being made, albeit at a snail’s pace. Ms Taylor is suitably philosophical about the likely speed of the Good Ship Gender Balance going forward: “If the rate of change of women on boards continues at the current pace, it will be 70 years before even a 30/70 balance is arrived at!” Dr Kirrane may not see an inspiring vista but, nevertheless, she has every confidence in those company high-fliers who are already embedded in the 30% Club. “Because of their seniority (within their respective organisations), it makes a big difference. They carry a lot of

influence,” Dr Kirrane notes. “There are a lot of organisations out there who may be pursuing the same objective as the 30% Club, but they may not have as concentrated a number of people who can drive change. That is the big thing.” There’s little doubt that the Leadership Pipeline report has given Irish industry food for thought. The 30% Club’s online survey of 650 companies which formed the basis of the report has laid new facts and figures bare. At last there is concrete Irish data. “However we may have had higher responses from companies who are already invested in this topic,” Dr Kirrane informs us. “Female CEOs in Ireland are about 8%, whereas our survey reported 14% female CEOs. Companies that were doing well on gender balance were responding. “The other thing we found was that in companies with a female CEO, there are far more women in all the management grades compared to companies with a male CEO.” Significantly, the findings of the report mirror international data. The higher the rank in management in companies abroad, the fewer women are present. Having published their report on the participation rates of women in management in Ireland, what path will the authors of the said report take now? “As regards the survey, we are going to do this over five years to assess whether there has been an improvement. We need a baseline to assess progress,” Ms Taylor declared. And while the report itself may have raised as many questions as answers, Dr Kirrane is adamant that the 30% Club Ireland is committed to the long haul: “It is really important that we can measure progress over the next five years. “Longitudinal research is the only way we can extract firm conclusions. “Thanks to the survey we have hard data which we can use to drive change.”

“It’s a very important report

because it will hopefully help us address the reasons why

the percentage of women on boards is so low and help

us also identify where the

pipeline is vis-à-vis the route from management level to the boards.”

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The 30% Club

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The 30% Club

Spreading the Word Rhona Blake, Managing Director at FleishmanHillard has played a key role in the 30% Club’s communications strategy and says the organisation remains on course to achieve its goals. There are few areas of industry which can claim to be thoroughly equitable in terms of gender representation - particularly at senior level. While some sectors are more progressive than others, the fact remains that the route to management seniority in the vast majority of professions is more readily navigated by males. This is apparent from the fact that women currently hold less than 5% of CEO positions at S&P 500 companies while research published by Ernst and Young earlier this year shows that just 8% of Irish companies currently have a female CEO and women make up just 12% of board members in Ireland. Established in 2014, the Irish branch of the 30% Club is aimed at achieving better gender balance in business and campaigns to secure a commitment from business leaders to increase the proportion of female directors on Irish boards and at executive management level to 30% by 2020. The Irish chapter of the 30% Club, is led by Marie O’Connor, partner at PwC. From the outset, the 30% Club identified the need for a high calibre representative from the PR and communications sector in order to effectively communicate its message and increase awareness of the organisation and its objectives. The group set its sights on Rhona Blake, Managing Director of Fleishman Hillard’s Dublin office, a widely respected business leader in the communications field and a strong advocate for women in business. A founding director of Fleishman-Hillard Saunders in 1990, Rhona has extensive experience across a range of industries and has also served on the board of state agency Tote Ireland, and also on the board of many others including the AA Ireland Motoring Policy Committee, the Irish Heart Foundation and the Public Relations Consultant’s Association (PRCA). The clear message being promoted by the 30% club allied to its clear set of tangible objectives and impressive leadership team struck a chord with Rhona and she agreed to join the organisation’s steering committee. She has been encouraged by the strong country-wide support shown to the organisation and hopeful that the positive response will result in meaningful progress. “When I first went to meet the 30% club I was deeply impressed by Marie O’Connor and she was a key reason behind my decision to get involved on a voluntary basis. She’s an amazing person,” says Rhona. “Of course the project was also exciting and represented a real challenge. We are making significant progress and finding that organisations up and down the country are very receptive to our message.” “It’s not just a question of equality and fairness but also a matter of sound business principals. A huge amount of research has been carried out, including a recent study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, which shows that ccompanies where 30% of the executives are women tend to be significantly more profitable.” To date, CEOs and Chairs from over 150 top Irish companies have become official supporters of the 30% Club and committed

their organisation to striving to achieve the 2020 targets. In addition to providing communications expertise, Rhona also points out that she represents an industry which can boast of a comparatively strong track record in relation to gender diversity. “In many ways the PR industry is the exception to the rule and women are well represented across all levels of our profession,” she says. “The barriers to career progression which exist in the vast majority of professions don’t appear to be as prevalent in this sector. There is a strong balance of men & women at the earlier stages of their career in PR and it doesn’t thin out to the same extent it does in other businesses as they progress up the career ladder.” In addition, the PR industry engages with numerous clients across a broad range of industries and as a result can offer a revealing insight into how many of these companies operate. “It’s undeniable that companies with a poor gender balance don’t perform as well and we get a good insight into how much better businesses work when there is greater diversity and a sufficient number of senior women at the top table,” says Rhona. “It results in a greater balance of thinking and opinion and much better outcomes.” As a practical example of how a lack of gender diversity can impact harmfully on business decisions, Rhona references the retail trade and the fact that the boards of major grocery chains are frequently dominated by men. “When you look at the profile of the decision-maker in the supermarket, it is predominantly women. If the board is entirely made up of men while women make up the key customer grouping, there is a complete disconnect. It does not make any business sense, and it’s just one example of many.” An unapologetic subscriber to the ‘Men are from Mars Women are from Venus’ school, Rhona believes that the mix and balance of ideas brought into play in a gender diverse environment yields the best results. She was struck by how differently men and women responded to the recession and believes that women, in the main, coped better. “Men think very differently to women, it’s just a fact and I think they responded better during the recession. There are a number of reasons why. Women are more versatile in the workplace, they are less proud. If they need a job, they need a job. Women jumped in and became generals in their own homes. They took hold of the budget and decided very quickly what needed to be cut. A lot of women went back to work when their partners lost jobs. Men were more likely to put their head under the duvet but women proved to be very resourceful and coped well. It illustrated how different we really are. “We saw this at both a household and business level. A lot of women were quicker to respond and downsized their company as needed. In many cases, they were more practical in making decisions about how to reallocate budgets. Again, that is a factor influenced by gender. It’s a matter of getting the right mix of male and females around a table, as well as a good mix in terms of age and background. That way you get a diverse mix of opinion and

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The 30% Club

ideas and the most powerful thinking and outcomes.” For Rhona, one of the most appealing features of the 30% Club is the fact that it doesn’t subscribe to quotas and its message rests solidly on a platform of sensible economics and sound business practice. “I like that philosophy, it’s simple. If you look at the facts of having diversity at a senior level in your company, they speak for themselves. I can understand why certain sectors such as politics might consider imposing quotas, to accelerate the pace of change, but I don’t think it should be the case in business. It should happen because senior people understand that it makes sense.” As the 30% Club approaches its three-year anniversary in Ireland, Rhona is satisfied that it has made a real impact and its core message is increasingly resonating in board rooms across Ireland. There has been a particularly strong response from the finance and legal sectors and Rhona was also delighted to see the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform’s Secretary General, Rober Watt, speaking at this year’s annual conference, which she believes sends a strong signal to the wider public service to aim for improved gender representation at senior level. As part of its activities, the 30% Club have hosted seminars and workshops in addition to its annual conference - the most recent of which was held at the Science Gallery last February. Former Secretary General of the European Commission, Catherine Day; Secretary General, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Robert Watt, as mentioned; and Global Chair of the 30% Club, Brenda Trenowden were among the speakers. The group has also contributed to research and last year commissioned a major study from DCU entitled ‘Women in Management - the Leadership Pipeline’ which examined the rate of female participation in management positions below boardroom level in order to better identify the barriers which exist to women progressing through to the very top ranks. “I think this was an important study and added to valuable research being carried out by great companies such as Accenture and PWC. Putting this on people’s radar and making them think about it has been enough for lots of CEOs to reconsider their

“The core of the 30% Clubs’ message is

that performance is enhanced by gender

diversity --it results in a greater balance of thinking and opinion, and much better business outcomes.”

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hiring and promotion. The core of the 30% Clubs’ message is that performance is enhanced by diversity and better thinking. I have not seen anything that says this is not smart.“ Companies also need support in learning about how best to incorporate these objectives within their organisation, according to Rhona. One of the key challenges facing many organisations is how to better accommodate women who choose to opt out or reduce their participation in the workforce during their children’s early years.“A lot of women decide to pull back on their careers because of children and other issues and there has to be a pathway open to them to enable them to return to work at a later point, if they so wish. In far too many cases stepping out for two or three years means stepping out for life which is such a waste of talent and expertise. Why would a company which has invested in training a talented employee who wants to continue working put barriers up to prevent her doing so?” Providing suitable role models for women is vital and Rhona is confident that a new generation of talented female business leaders are settling an example for other women to emulate. “It is brilliant to see these exceptional women doing so well. They are an inspiration for women coming through the ranks and there is ample evidence which shows that companies with a female CEO are more likely to pursue gender diverse policies. The situation is improving and momentum is building. There are a lot of women in prominent positions but it is still not widespread enough in companies and management teams remain very short on women. The pipeline is something the 30% Club is very focused on. That is a key factor and we are now beginning to see real progress.”


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Public Sector Magazine

Championing Diversity Brendan Jennings, Managing Partner, Deloitte discusses how the firm is taking a vest interest in diversity

According to the Global Human Capital Trends survey released recently by Deloitte, just under half of respondents report little or no investment in women leaders. The report is an interesting read. Year on year, leadership features as one of the top challenges, and this year it ranked second in terms of priority. What’s more, the leadership challenge is urgent and

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growing in importance. Twenty-Eight percent of respondents reported weak or very weak leadership pipelines. There appears to be a disconnect here - organisations need more, stronger and diverse leaders, yet are not making the investments to support this need. Interestingly, 59% also reported limited investment in both diverse leaders, and millennial leaders, which highlights


Public Sector Magazine

“Real change

the need to take a much broader look at leadership in our organisations. We know women in leadership positions makes sense. Numerous studies have found that companies with women on their boards outperform those with less gender diversity, in terms of share price and performance, as well as certain financial metrics, including return on equity. Other studies have shown that having more women on boards and their impact on decision-making can enhance shareholder value. Similar to the respondents to our survey, it’s a challenge that we also experience in Deloitte. Encouragingly, we are making some great progress – right up to senior manager level we are very evenly balanced in terms of gender. However, from there, as the seniority of the position increases, the proportion of women disappointingly decreases. It is critical that organisations understand what their own employees are saying about access to roles, and their motivation for taking on senior roles. In fact, our own human capital team are working on supplying data analytics solutions, which can be very useful in understanding the reasons and predicting future trends. From our perspective, it’s essential that we offer clients the support of top quality and balanced teams of professionals. Respect and inclusion is hugely important to us, and gender equality is just one part of our overall focus of bringing differing views to solving our client’s challenges. Being able to provide a wider range of perspectives means we can bring more innovative and well-rounded solutions to our clients. So, what can we do to make sure that women are not only well represented on our client teams but actively involved in leading them? There really isn’t a simple answer. Yes, it’s important to have proactive initiatives to retain women. But these programmes are only part of the solution. In reality, everything we do to provide a distinctive career experience for all our people – men as well as women - will impact their desire to stay. That means looking at a number of things – from the way we source and recruit top talent, the development opportunities we provide them once they’ve joined our organisation to the flexible work arrangements we offer, and the mentoring, sponsorship, and mobility programs we make available. Our level of commitment in each of these areas, and more importantly, the way we bring these concepts to life, has the potential to significantly impact loyalty, motivation and the willingness of our people to go the extra mile. So, when we look at attrition, levels of engagement and retention at Deloitte, we believe it’s important to take an integrated, holistic and strategic view of the kind of work and career experience we

provide for our people. Then we can focus on providing the “additional extras” where particular challenges exist. The reality is that when we lose talent, in addition to the operational impacts, it also costs us money and impacts directly on our bottom line. As a business, we simply can’t afford to lose critical female points-of-view on our leadership and client service teams. While the current progress of women’s journeys into leadership positions is steady, it’s not as quick as we would like it to be. And the pipeline of talent in many companies, including ours, tends to lose more women than men. In order to address the issue, we need to take a look at the factors that could be causing it. Based on our own observations, it seems there are several possible reasons. First, there may be structural obstacles. Women may be finding it harder than men to obtain sponsors and to network effectively with influential leaders. Second, women, more than men, have critical responsibilities at home that compete for their time and attention. Flexible work arrangements help, but they can only do so much. In today’s ultra-connected global business environment, the expectation for professionals to always be “on” has women asking whether the trade-off is really worth it. Third, traditional views of what makes a good leader still prevail at many companies – that is people who are more individualistic, task-driven, competitive, assertive, somewhat autocratic, and generally male. Fourth, few organisations focus on both diversity and inclusion. Most don’t measure how empowered employees feel to contribute their diverse perspectives or how included they feel. Fifth, many senior leaders don’t consider diversity a business imperative. Initiatives focused on women are often delegated to HR and not connected to senior leadership. If senior leaders don’t understand the business case for maintaining a diverse workforce, they’re not likely to lend their support. This may be a factor in the limited investment in supporting this. And, finally, men are not as involved as they should be in the discussion about women’s advancement and diversity. This is a critical point because it is men who occupy leadership positions in most companies, leadership support is probably the most critical piece of the puzzle. And for this very reason, I am proud to be a founding member of the 30% club in Ireland. Real change requires leaders that are willing to “walk the talk,” to lead by example. As leaders, we have to make a personal commitment to the women in our organisations; we have to be invested in knowing who these women are and take it upon ourselves to address the issues that are driving them to leave. This type of commitment is not only the right thing to do; it’s essential to the success of the organisation – mine and yours.

requires leaders

that are willing

to “walk the talk,”

to lead by example.

As leaders, we have

to make a personal commitment to

the women in our organisations; we

have to be invested in knowing who these women are and take it upon ourselves to

address the issues that are driving them to leave.”

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Public Sector Magazine

Equal Learning Advancing Gender Equality in Irish Higher Education Institutions

On 27th June 2016 the Higher Education Authority (HEA) published the report of an independent Expert Group, chaired by Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, on gender equality in Irish higher education institutions. The Report of the Expert Group: HEA National Review of Gender Equality in Irish Higher Education Institutions, which is available on the HEA’s website at www.hea.ie, demonstrates that significant gender inequality remains in higher education and explains why addressing this is vital—for individuals and institutions as well as for the broader economy and society. Making the case for The Expert Group found that, although 50% of the lecturers in Irish higher education institutions in organisational and cultural change to 2013–2015 were female, 81% of professorial positions were held by men, who also represented 72% of the highest paid non-academic staff. eliminate gender inequality in Irish higher education—and in particular to address the under-representation of women among senior dedicated to addressing gender inequality in higher education staff—the report presents a suite of radical and ambitious ensured that the recommendations developed are fully recommendations for key stakeholders, including higher cognisant of emerging international ‘best practice’. In order to education institutions, the HEA, and research-funding agencies. obtain views from across the higher education community and In furtherance of the HEA’s statutory responsibility to from the wider public on gender equality in higher education, promote the attainment of the equality of opportunity in a national online survey was conducted, to which over 4,800 higher education and with a view to tackling the intractable responses were received. problem of the gender-imbalance in the staffing of Irish higher The Expert Group found that, although 50% of the education institutions, the review was initiated in September lecturers in Irish higher education institutions in 2013–2015 2015. Undertaken by a five-member Expert Group, comprising were female, 81% of professorial positions were held by men, Professor Pat O’Connor (University of Limerick), Professor Paul who also represented 72% of the highest paid non-academic Walton (University of York), Dr Helen Peterson (Gothenburg staff. Furthermore, while 4 out of 14 of the presidents of the University), Mr Ryan Shanks (Accenture) and Ms Máire institutes of technology are currently female, there has not been Geoghegan-Quinn (European Commissioner for Research, a single female university president since the establishment Innovation and Science from 2010–2014) as Chairperson, the of Ireland’s first university, Trinity College Dublin, 424 years review encompassed gender-disaggregated data-analysis of the ago. This gender-imbalance was reflected in the perceptions staffing of institutions across all grades of employment, and of of respondents to the national online survey, 56% of whom the composition of institutions’ governing boards, academic indicated that there is gender inequality in Irish higher councils, and executive management teams. education (64% of women and 38% of men). This was complemented by a review of institutions’ equality Focusing on changing this status quo, and recognising that policies and of their applications for awards under the Athena the default ‘fix-the-women’ approach to addressing gender SWAN Charter scheme, as well as by broader analysis of the inequality will never work, the recommendations of the policy and legislative context within which higher education review focus on the numerous factors within higher education institutions in Ireland operate. In addition, wide stakeholderinstitutions and beyond—conscious and unconscious, cultural consultation was undertaken as part of the review—with higher and structural—which impede the progression of women to education institutions, government departments, researcha greater extent than that of their male colleagues. Only by funding agencies, and unions amongst others; and meetings breaking down these cultural and organisational barriers will with representatives of European-funded project-consortia the talents of all staff in Ireland’s higher education institutions

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Public Sector Magazine

be realised to the full and the productivity of institutions be maximised. With the expectation of long-term commitment and investment in achieving gender equality by institutions and other stakeholders, key recommendations of the report include: From 2016, the candidate-pool at the final stage in the appointment process for new presidents of higher education institutions will, where possible, comprise an equal number of women and men; A criterion for the appointment of a new president, and for vice-presidents, will be that he/she has demonstrable experience of leadership in advancing gender equality; Each institution will appoint a vice-president for equality who will be a full academic member of the executive management team and who will report directly to the president; The key decision-making bodies (concerned with resource allocation, appointments and promotions) of institutions will consist of at least 40% women and at least 40% men from 2016; Each institution will introduce mandatory quotas for academic promotion; The recruitment and promotion procedures currently used by higher education institutions will be reviewed to ensure they are gender-sensitive; Higher education institutions will develop and implement a gender action plan, which will be integrated into their strategic plan and into their compact with the HEA, on which the allocation of performance-based funding is based; Gender equality will be identified as a national priority

and key system objective in the Higher Education System Performance Framework 2017–2019; In partnership with the Irish Universities Association and the Technological Higher Education Association, the HEA will establish a national committee to support gender The report of an independent Expert equality in higher Group, chaired by Maire Geoghegan-Quinn education; demonstrates that significant gender inequality remains in higher education. The HEA will establish a comprehensive database of staff in higher education institutions to enhance the evidence-base for monitoring institutions’ progress in addressing gender inequality. The HEA strongly endorses these recommendations and will be proactively supporting their implementation in the months and years ahead.

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Bridging the Gender Divide John Donnelly, Managing Director of global events specialists, Arcana talks to Kevin Og Carney about the positive effect which a balanced mix of men and women bring to the company. As a member of the Saw Doctors for 13 years, Johnny Donnelly sang from the heart and the band’s audiences lapped it up. With his business hat on, Donnelly is wont to shoot from the hip on the question of female equality in the workplace with the sort of insight and conviction that disciples of the 30% Club would surely lap up. Signatories of the 30% Club strive towards achieving their objectives of having 30% of senior and board level positions occupied by women by 2020. Donnelly is the Managing Director of Arcana, a Global Events Specialist firm which walks the walk in terms of achieving gender balance within its ranks. Donnelly is perfectly placed to assess the value of having a good mix of men and women on the company’s books. It helps, of course, that his wife Aisling is his right-hand woman and a director of Arcana. Arcana is the go-to firm for the Office of Public Works and local authorities around the country and it was no surprise that the Galway-based firm metaphorically supplied a lot of the scaffold that constructed the wonderful Easter Rising ceremonies in the capital last April. “I would be totally in sync with the ideals of the 30% Club,” Donnelly enthuses. “I suppose about 70% of our staff we hired – albeit mostly temporary staff - for the Easter Rising project were female,” Johnny explains. “More recently, we were in Ashford Castle, organising a private event, and of the 14 people looking after things for us there, 10 of them were female. “While we’ve always had at least a 50/50 ratio of women to men in our company, on occasions - depending on the event in question - the percentage of women we employ can be so much higher than 50%.” The staffing arrangements at Arcana are atypical of commercial norms but they’re pretty standard for event management organisations in that numbers are always fluid, depending on the nature and size of the event to be staged. “On average we have a core of four or five people on board

here all the time but that figure varies with bigger events. It could rise to 30 or 40 staff members. At this year’s Easter Rising commemorations we had up to 50 people working with us and for the Special Olympics in Croke Park we had 150 of our people in place.” Donnelly unashamedly says he prefers working in his goahead company with members of the opposite sex, one reason perhaps why ordinarily 50% of his artistic directors are female, by design rather than by accident, he adds by way of clarification. He says he doesn’t wish to be accused of ushering generalisations but he again calls it as he sees it: “We have a high number of women on our books at any given time but that’s partly because of the nature of the business we’re in. “But, on the other hand, for instance, among our high level administration staff – and I’m talking about Project Managers here - nearly all of them are female because in my experience at least, they’re much better when it comes to attention to detail. “Attention to detail is critical in our line of work. There’s simply no room for error. Things need to be done 100% accurately and womens’ attention to detail is so much better in my experience. “We have to be on top of our game whether that’s concerning a six minute event or a major event like the Special Olympics at Croke Park or indeed the Volvo Ocean event which was beamed live throughout the world.” It’s not difficult to see why Donnelly’s views and the 30% Club’s objectives make for comfortable and predictable bedfellows. However, the multi-talented Donnelly isn’t one for indulging in Darwinian-like theories as to why women invariably roll out the small things that matter with all the accuracy of a nuclear clock. He labours to put his finger on the reasons why females can bring a flashbulb iridescence to proceedings. However, in his opinion, women are less ego-driven beings and that could be a significant factor. “Sometimes the ego thing might be a more male-orientated thing. Women seem to be less about themselves when they’re charged with doing work and more about getting things done,”

“While we’ve always had at least a 50/50 ratio of women to men in our company, on occasions - depending on the event in question - the percentage of women we employ can be so much higher than 50%.” the Public Sector Magazine

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he opines. “In that regard, I talking from my experience of working with other companies over the last 20 years and particularly with other companies since I started Arcana in 2007. “I think I would be speaking on behalf of the events’ management industry in saying that women are generally on the ball and they like to get stuck into their work. “Even after work, I find that Aisling is a great sounding board to me. She has this typical female intuition which makes so many things seem totally logical. She would often say something in relation to our work that sometimes I feel only a female would see which makes me think, ‘a man would never say that’. In many ways, the Donnelly duo aren’t your typical company chiefs for their roots lie in the creative arts; hard-nosed business people they are not. “We are part of the event world in Ireland and it’s a very competitive business with tight budgets but we want to keep it like a cottage industry. Our vision isn’t to grow the company to 100 employees but to keep it small. We’re not interested in growing the company massively. “If a huge event comes in we will concentrate on that event 100% as opposed to taking on five events and quadrupling our staff numbers. We approach events not from a purely business perspective. We have become best friends with some of our clients.” There’s little doubt that the plain speaking 44-year old westerner is very positively disposed towards the 30% Club. His admiration and appreciation for the people behind the Club has definition and depth but he believes his view is a commonly shared one: “You only have to see from articles in the media and documentaries to get an idea of how many women are working in the highest echelons of management these days. “I notice myself how many women are CEOs now in Ireland and the massive companies that they head. “The statistics would probably show that half of the biggest

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CEOs in this country are female. “I’m sure those women gravitated to high office on merit, because of their abilities. When we are thinking about hiring project managers for a big project, our instinct is to think about female project managers because of the way their brain works. They have a different way of thinking.” Long may the work of the 30% Club continue then? “To be honest, I look forward to the day when the letters RIP come after its name. “People ought to get their jobs because of what they can and can’t do. We’re all human. “There shouldn’t even be a conversation about gender balance and the equality of the sexes in companies. “Yeh, 30% Club RIP has a good ring to it. That should be the dream going forward.”


Gwen Malone SS !/2.indd 1

15/11/2016 15:34


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One in every 28 people in Ireland is a One in full time every 28 higher people in education Ireland is a student full time higher education student


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Striving for Promotion Parity Robert Watt, Secretary General, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform talks to Public Sector Magazine about the decision to join the 30% Club and his Department’s efforts to promote gender equality throughout the higher ranks of the civil service.

The public sector has long been a key source of employment for women and in recent years it has been making a determined effort to promote equal opportunities and address the imbalance in relation to female representation at senior management level. Despite a greater focus on equality and diversity issues there are still relatively few women occupying senior positions in the public service and the problem is prevalent throughout the EU. However, there has been some progress achieved in relation to improving gender balance in the higher ranks of the civil service. Figures released last year show that women account

for 31% of Assistant Principal Officers and for 38% of Principal Officers. However, as the seniority of the role increases, the percentage of women declines and women represent only 25% and 24% at Deputy/Assistant Secretary General level and at Secretary General level respectively. In total, Women make up 36% of all principal grades, 27% of all assistant secretaries, 22% of all deputy secretaries, 33% of all second secretaries and 20% of all general secretaries. Progress has also been achieved in relation to female representation on state boards where women now represent

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36% of all appointments. In addition, male and female competing for a position, there are encouraging examples of female women tend to do well and frequently get appointments to key positions of influence, the job. The real challenge, he says, is to particularly in the area of justice. Women encourage more women to participate. currently account for three of the ten judges A number of obstacles which have on the Supreme Court and there is also prohibited women’s career progression a female Chief Justice, Attorney General, in the civil service are being addressed Director of Public Prosecutions and Chief and there is a particular focus on devising State Solicitor. The Commissioner of An policies which are more family friendly. Garda Síochána is also female. “That is not just for women, it is for all The civil service renewal plan which members of staff,” he says. “In many was launched two years ago promised cases, it is simple things like not planning a renewed focus on promoting equality meetings at 8.30 in the morning or 6.00 in of opportunity, diversity, and gender the evening and recognising that people equality across the workforce and can’t do work events during the evening committed to building a Civil Service that if they have other responsibilities. It is more closely reflects society. about trying to create a culture where Robert Watt, Secretary General, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform As key architects of the civil service we recognise that people have other renewal plan the Department of Public commitments outside of work.” Expenditure and Reform are keenly Training and more focus on providing committed to the goal of gender equality a greater depth of experience to female in the civil service, particularly at senior employees is another important factor, level. The Department sought to join the according to Robert. There is a tendency 30% club which campaigns for gender - not alone in the civil service - to equality in business after it established an assign ‘gender specific’ roles to women Irish branch and the Secretary General at who predominate in areas such as the Department, Robert Watt delivered a administration and human resources. A well-received speech at the organisation’s greater depth of experience will ensure annual conference which was hosted in that women are in a better position to DCU earlier this year. compete for senior positions. Improved “We were aware of the 30% Club talent management, training and and very impressed with the things they inventorying schemes have also been were doing so we asked to be involved. put in place with the aim of preparing The civil service is now part of the club,” and encouraging women to apply for Watt told Public Sector Magazine. “We promotion. are a sponsor and very supportive of Confidence has been identified as what they are trying to achieve, their a critical issue and while men appear overall objectives and some of the policy to have little difficulty in applying for initiatives they are pursuing.” positions beyond their competency “We recognise that diversity is very levels, women are likely to do so only important for us in order to achieve our when confident that they have sufficient objectives. If we have management teams and boards that are experience and skills sets for the position. “It is the confidence significantly diverse and better represent the country they ratio. It is very different for men as opposed to women,” says purport to serve, that will make us more effective. Management Robert. “Men have a fairly high confidence ratio. It is about teams with a disproportionately high number of men have a trying to encourage people to appreciate the types of skills and narrower sense of experience and policy advice and outcomes talents they have and encourage them to go for positions when are not as good. We certainly believe that we can improve our they become available.” performance as a service and as government departments if we The effort and commitment of management will be a critical do better in terms of gender balance.” factor in driving the cultural and behavioural changes necessary While female representation at principal officer and to affect meaningful difference and Rover is confident that assistant principal officer level currently stands at 38% and the senior ranks are fully engaged in the process. “We have 31% respectively, Robert acknowledges that at the very top diversity committees and programmes but it is really about level it remains stubbornly low at 20%. “We are fully aware we senior leaders in their own areas and the way they manage their have a challenge in terms of having enough women in senior responsibilities and ensure that the initiatives and processes leadership positions across departments. We have made some that we have put in place to promote gender equality are being progress, but it is not adequate,” he says. effectively implemented. A key part of the challenge, according to Robert is to “The key message is that we are making strides but there increase the number of women competing for promotion and he is much more we can do and we are putting in place a wide points out that when there is an even spread of candidates, both variety of initiatives that will make a positive difference.”

“We are fully

aware we have

a challenge in

terms of having

enough women in senior leadership positions across departments. We have made some

progress, but it is not adequate,”

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Compass Club by Coillte Where children have fun and grow in the forest With half of children in Ireland spending only 30 minutes or less playing outdoors after school and with 90 per cent of children spending more and more time in front of a screen and nearly half of children having never gone walking in a forest with friends, a new after-school outdoor programme is hoping to change these facts. Research conducted by Compass Club by Coillte show children are missing out on life forming nature experiences, showing that almost three quarters (74%) have never sat around a camp fire; two in three (62%) have never pitched a tent and almost half (45%) have never climbed a tree. Compass Club by Coillte, set in Irish forests nationwide, is designed to help children grow to love the outdoors and nature through fun experiences and activities and develop essential life skills. It’s a unique after-school programme delivering active foundation in outdoor skills and activities, targeted at 6 to 12 year olds in a fun-filled way in forests all around the country. Using mainly Coillte sites around the country, Compass Club by Coillte is run one afternoon a week from 3.45pm to 5.15pm for six weeks with several clubs taking place around the country on Saturday mornings at 10am.

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“What we do is encourage exploration and discovery in a supervised environment with small groups which creates a greater sense of freedom,” said Shane Stafford, General Manager of Compass Club by Coillte. The children get to pick up school curriculum skills in an environment that couldn’t be more different from a classroom. “We want to take children away from screens and give them learning skills and learn about the great outdoors in a way that you can’t do in a classroom. You can talk about trees, leaves, can talk about Autumn and Spring and things that go on in nature but if you go out and see it, like a squirrel running up a tree, and leaves falling off trees, it brings the classroom environment to life. Children observe nature and the world around them so much through YouTube nowadays, rather than actually getting out and experiencing it themselves.” The courses are child-led and built on the principles of Strengths-Based Education with our syllabus designed to develop critical thinking, sensory perception, problem-solving, all in a super -fun way. Just some of the adventures the children get to participate in include everything from navigation, knot skills, rope swings, scavenger hunts, games, building shelters, learning about


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habitats and toasting marshmallows! “What we are also trying to do is bring children’s confidence levels up and their ability to interact socially with confidence” said Shane. “We focus our approach on Strengths-Based Education which is a way of working with people and their strengths such as organisational skills, building relationships, bringing out the adventurers in them.” The concept for Compass Club came about three years ago. “There’s over 18 million visits to Coillte forests – that’s about 1.1 million people on repeat visits, so Coillte asked how can they make it more attractive for families,” explained Shane. “What we are able to do is bring the course safely to children for them to enjoy the rough and tumble of the outdoors and nature and we feel we have found the magic formula to allow us to do that. We limit our courses to just 16 children with two adult leaders to give the best experience possible and parents do not need to volunteer, buy special gear or fundraise. “We talked to over 3,000 parents to get the product right and test ideas. We officially launched in the summer and so far, through our Summer Camps, After-School courses and school tours, Compass Club has given over 4,000 children an awesome, fun adventure experience in Ireland’s beautiful woodlands, and taught them skills that will stand for them for life as well as great childhood memories.” “Parents have praised the courses, and our adult leaders, for helping to build their children’s confidence,” said Shane. “Kids have simply had a ball learning in the outdoors and going home to build shelters in their back gardens.” “We have five themes which pretty much match with what’s going on in the forests – which allows us to have different

Compass Club by

activities which are effectively seasonally adjusted. We also hold Easter and Summer camps which helps give us complete variety throughout the year.” At the end of each course, parents receive a short report on the strengths their child demonstrated during the course. “This is not like a school report as we highlight the strengths we’ve seen the children demonstrate on the course, and there are no negatives or no “could do better” comments in it,” said Shane. “Children love it because it is written by their Compass Club leader, someone that they’ve grown to respect, like and trust during the course and they can see that their leader thinks very highly of them.” Emma Godsil of Godsil Education, is a child psychologist, behavioral specialist and an expert in Strengths-Based Education, who contributed to the development of the Compass

Coillte, set in Irish

forests nationwide, is designed to

help children

grow to love the outdoors and

nature through fun experiences

and activities and develop essential life skills.

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Extensive international research concludes that outdoor learning contributes significantly to raising standards in education and improving children’s personal, social and emotional development. Club by Coillte course syllabus. “The research demonstrates that our changing lifestyles are depriving children in Ireland of the many positives which we all experienced playing outdoors when we were growing up. Extensive international research concludes that outdoor learning contributes significantly to raising standards in education and improving children’s personal, social and emotional development. The underlying strengths-based philosophy that Compass Clubs are built around, combined with the well

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documented benefits of outdoor education, making these afterschool courses a really unique offering for parents and children.” The Compass Club by Coillte After-School courses are six weeks long, 9 hours with a one and a half hour session one afternoon per week, and cost €90 including early booking and/ or sibling discount. RRP €99. Further information on course locations can be found at www.CompassClub.ie, by calling 01-9055090 or check out CompassClubIE on Facebook.


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Focus on Fostering Huge amount of support and services for families considering fostering – Orchard Children’s Services Fostering a child calls for tremendous commitment and an open heart and it is not something to be engaged in lightly because of the stresses that may arise for the child and the family who foster. However, there is a huge amount of support and services for families who are considering fostering and one such service is Orchard Children’s Service, an independent Fostering and Supported Lodging Service. An Irish company established in 2003, Orchard Children’s Services has provided a range of service for children since its inception. The company operates on a not-for-profit basis in that any money coming in over and above what it costs to provide the service stays in the company to make sure they can support the carers, staff and children they look after. Owned, operated and managed by social work professionals, who together have over 60 years experience of working with children and families, carers are considered to be part of the team and they all work together to achieve the best outcomes for children and young people in their care. Currently there are 6,000 children in the care of the Irish state and 4,500 of these children are in foster care some living with relatives.

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There is an urgent need for more families to come forward to foster. “There is still a massive shortage of carers across Ireland,” said Russell Lander, Operations & HR Manager at Orchard Children’s Services Ltd. “In June this year we had a large amount of children referred to us whom we couldn’t place because we don’t have enough carers. This is a situation facing Tusla and the other independent agencies too.” With Focus on Fostering Week taking place next February in a bid to create more awareness to fostering, it is hoped that more and more families will come on board and offer children and young people in need the chance to live in a foster family. Providing carers with 24/7 social work support, Orchard Children’s Services provides all their carers with a social worker to support them. Orchard run monthly training and support groups for carers. All carers receive two weeks paid respite and a weekly allowance to cover expenses for the children in their care. Orchard social work support team are always only a call away night or day, making sure all their carers feel well supported as part of the team.


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“The whole idea of fostering is that the a child or young person is placed within a family for a period of time until their own family can provide them with a safe environment and Tusla can return them home again.” Based in the M4 Business Park in Celbridge, Orchard Children’s Services has been offering fostering and supported lodging services since 2009 and are now one of the of three main independent providers of fostering services in the Republic. The support social worker is there for the carers – if carers notice certain behaviours with the child they are caring for and they are not sure how to respond they can talk to their Social worker and the Orchard child Support Worker can become involved helping with techniques to manage different behaviours that a child or young person may present . “No-one is ever alone with a problem. It’s a huge deal to take on someone else’s child,” said Mr Lander. “For families interested in fostering they may come across us in newspapers, the Internet or hear us on the radio,” said Mr Lander. When a prospective carer gets in touch with Orchard Children’s Services to find out about becoming a foster parent, a social worker conducts a brief interview with them over the phone. “This is to check out what their family is like at the moment, if they have a spare room, what their work dynamics are and we check to see if there is someone going to be available 24/7 for the child,” said Mr Lander. Prospective carers need not be married or own their own house to apply. Same sex couples are welcome to apply also. The next step is to arrange an initial visit to the prospective foster family or supported lodging carer and explore their motivation and interest further. If the prospective carers then decide they want to go ahead with the process and Orchard feel that they are suitable the team start the assessment which should be completed within 16 weeks. Orchard also undertake assessments for Tusla and sometimes assess relatives of children to be foster carers for a specific child. This relative assessment takes 12 weeks. “As part of the assessment Orchard complete Garda Vetting, thorough screening of all applicants, personal references, area checks – we check every single local authority area they have lived in to make sure they are not known to social services or Gardaí,” he said. In addition to a thorough screening and home study all prospective carers have to attend preparation training as part of the assessment process. If the assessment is positive then Orchard Children’s Services present the assessment report to the relevant Tulsa’s foster care committee for applicants to be considered for approval as carers.

“And if Tulsa approve them, what we do is carefully match a child or young person who needs a placement with them. What we try and make sure of is that the child or young person is going to be suited to the family and the majority of the time we get it right,” he said. How long a child can remain in foster care depends on Tulsa’s assessment of the birth family and the child’s care plan. “For example, we had a young lady come into us for respite placement and it was literally just for a weekend as her mother was going into hospital for an operation and she had no-one to look after her,” explained Mr Lander. Sometimes children could come in on a short-term basis at first and then as more information emerges the placement could be extended to a longer-term placement he said. The whole idea of fostering is that the a child or young person is placed within a family for a period of time until their own family can provide them with a safe environment and Tusla can return them home again. “There are some occasions where a child comes into care but never goes home but we always work to achieve the goal of getting them back home,” he said, adding that Orchard Children’s Services and their carers work in partnership with Tulsa to return children to their birth families as soon as possible. We place teenagers of 16 plus in our Supported Lodgings Services where under the supervision of a caring adult or adults they can learn to manage their lives and work towards independence. Some of the key challenges for services such as Orchard Children’s Services include responding to Tulsa’s changing needs for resources for children. “This is because children and young people present with a range of needs some of them are complex due to their early experiences. Sometimes the Orchard Team have to say sorry, we don’t have a suitable family as sometimes the child is too traumatised and needs to go in to specialist care. In some cases if it’s not going to be a good match for a child, it could create a whole new problem. We are here to help children and not add to their problems.” Another challenge is to get enough people to come forward as carers. There is still a massive shortage of carers across Ireland. There is a need for carers from all groups within the community. Orchard Children’s Service has been growing consecutively since 2008 and are still growing. “I would expect us to continue growing next year,” said Mr Lander. “Anyone who is thinking about exploring fostering or becoming a supported lodging carer should give us a call – we are desperately in need of families,” he said. Orchard Children’s Services can be contacted on 01-6275713.

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We aim to complete our assessment in 3-4 months. We give our carers 24/7 support so they’re never alone with a problem. We give carers a weekly allowance which covers all the costs of caring for a young person. You will have your own dedicated social worker.


Public Sector Magazine

Changing Lives Pat McDonagh is the founder of Supermac’s - a major Irish fast food franchise. After a recent visit to Zimbabwe with Trócaire, he talked to Public Sector Magazine. What was it about Trócaire that first attracted you to it?

I was first introduced to the work of Trócaire by Bishop John Kirby, former Chairperson of the charity, who was my manager during my early teaching career. It has been more than 18 years since then, and I have been an ardent supporter of the great work the organisation does.

You recently saw their work in Zimbabwe. What was that like?

I visited Zimbabwe with Trócaire last year to see what impact they were making in a country that was once the ‘bread basket’ of Africa but unfortunately is now very much a third world country where the average annual income is €325 and life expectancy is just 52 years of age. The economy of Zimbabwe is extremely weak and over 70% of the population live below the national poverty line. In spite of being aware of this, I was still shocked to see how little the

people had, and that most families surviving on only one meal a day, or in some cases less. Being a parent myself, seeing other parents raising their children in these terrible circumstances was humbling. One family I met had only enough food to last them a few weeks and after that would have nothing. This awful endless struggle of feeding their families, accessing education, healthcare and basic facilities such as running water and toilets is unacceptable in this day and age.

Was there a standout moment during your visit?

One of Trócaire’s programmes in Zimbabwe is aimed at making improvements to the lives of those living with HIV/AIDS. Zimbabwe, at 14%, has one of the highest HIV rates in the world and 60,000 people die every year from AIDS-related illnesses. The most harrowing memory for me was at a Trócaire

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supported HIV clinic where I saw a man reduced to five stone, dying with the disease. That was unbearable.

As a long-time supporter, what new facts did you learn about Trócaire’s work on the ground?

I wanted to see first-hand where the money raised is going, to meet the people who are benefitting from it and to see the effect it is having on their lives. I visited a school of 2,000 children and an irrigation project that is helping 65 families to farm in the face of almost constant drought. I saw the vital impact the gift of animals can have on a family and provides hope for families that otherwise have little. Yet, it also gave me hope and I was surprised with the positivity of the Zimbabweans who, in spite of having so little, are grateful for what little they have. Despite the very difficult scenes I witnessed, I was inspired by the efforts and dedication of the Trócaire team which brings support and dignity to the poorest communities. It was

wonderful to see the success of water and many other projects that would not be possible without the continued support of the Irish people back home.

Did these experiences further strengthen your support for Trócaire?

Having visited those Trócaire projects and witnessed such shocking levels of poverty, I want Supermac’s to continue making a positive impact on the lives of people in developing countries. I’d encourage all to donate to Trócaire because you can be sure your money goes directly to those who need it most. I have seen it first-hand. Almost 330,000 people in Zimbabwe benefitted from Trócaire’s programmes in the last year alone. This year, members of the Supermac’s team visited Uganda to see some more of the programmes that Trócaire run there, this has had an indelible impact on the team and it is a real motivator for them to continue to fundraise for Trócaire. It was an experience they will never forget. They saw first-hand the difference Trócaire’s work makes.

“I saw the vital impact the gift of animals can have on a family and provides hope for families that otherwise have little. Yet, it also gave me hope and I was surprised with the positivity of the Zimbabweans who, in spite of having so little, are grateful for what little they have.” 58

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Photo credit: Jeannie O’Brien

Become a regular monthly giver to Trócaire

and you can provide something as simple as water to communities across the developing world, enabling them to provide for their family, to earn a living and to build a brighter future for themselves. Borhu Abrahe is one of 2.4 million people who benefitted from Trócaire’s work in the last year through a Trócaire funded irrigation system, which has enabled Borhu to grow coffee bean crop in drought affected Lehama village, Tigray, north Ethiopia. To offer your support, please contact us at the relevant number below or visit www.trocaire.org/donate. Please mention ‘Public Sector Magazine’ when you call.

Maynooth, Co Kildare. Tel: (01) 6293333 9 Cook Street, Cork. Tel: (021) 4275622 12 Cathedral Street, Dublin. Tel: (01) 8743875


Providing Practical Help, Information & Support To Persons Bereaved By Suicide Our outreach volunteers provide information and practical support concerning the following areas: • The Funeral • The Inquest • Entitlements • What to say to children • How to deal with the neighbours • Help the person to clarify their personal grief • Connect the person to other support services in their area • Provide information on suicide and attempted suicide • Be there, as a friend, for the person. Our Living Links listening/support service is free of charge and available to any person in the community including emergency personnel, gardai and clergy etc., who have in any way been affected by suicide. The Living Links listening/support service is free of charge and available to any person in the community including emergency personnel, gardai and clergy etc.,

Emergency Telephone Number 087 412 2052


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Living Links Providing assertive outreach support to the suicide bereaved.

Living Links have been providing a unique and valued Family Bereavement Support Service on a voluntary basis throughout the Island of Ireland for over 15 years. We in Living Links strive to provide best practice support services to as many individuals and families as possible within our limited resources. It was found that within the first twelve to fourteen months following the suicide, most people were basically in a state of confusion and experiencing multiple emotions such as anger, guilt, denial and even suicidal thoughts. Friction within the family unit was often a major problem and some families became totally dysfunctional. Families told of grief being at different levels within the family unit which lead to accusations of “you have forgotten very quickly” to “you were always the selfish one”. Circumstances such as this prevent conversation and prohibit the exploration of feelings. Living Links services are “Free” to everyone and we welcome all those who are over 18 years of age to our services. Suicide brings a very particular type of bereavement trauma to any family. The care and comfort of the traumatised family member is of paramount importance to us in Living Links. We do not set limits on our services and our volunteers remain with the bereaved family for as long as it takes for them to recover or for as long as they want us to remain with them.

Living Links objectives are: n To provide support and outreach to those bereaved by suicide n To increase awareness and understanding of suicide and its effects on individuals, families and communities n To liaise and exchange information with similar support groups nationally and internationally n To support and encourage relevant research n To produce leaflets and associated literature to be provided

to survivors n To liaise and provide families information on health services available in the region, and the referral pathways to such services should such professional counselling be required n To provide and facilitate a group healing programme, on a needs basis, for the suicide bereaved n To encourage the suicide bereaved and/or suicide affected to establish and foster an ongoing support group among themselves. Trained volunteers are now available to offer confidential, practical support and information to families who have experienced a death by suicide. At the request of the family, the Suicide Outreach Support Person can call to the home or meet at a location appointed by the family. The outreach worker can provide information and practical support concerning the following areas: n The funeral n The inquest n Entitlements n What to say to children n How to deal with the neighbours n Help the person to clarify their personal grief n Connect the person to other support services in their area n Provide information on suicide and attempted suicide n Be there, as a friend, for the person. The Living Links listening/support service is free of charge and available to any person in the community including Emergency Personnel, Gardaí, Clergy and Funeral Directors etc., who have in any way been affected by suicide. If you or any of your friends would like to become a member of Living Links and maybe join our team of family bereavement support workers, please contact living Links on; http://www.livinglinks.ie/howwecanhelp Mobiles: 0869371030 or 087 4122052

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An Act that is fit for purpose The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 was signed into law by President Michael D. Higgins on December 30th last year. Marie Kinsella, a partner in leading law firm ByrneWallace tells Kevin Carney that the act establishes the rights of people with intellectual disabilities to make decisions for themselves and represents a significant step forward for older and more vulnerable members of society.

The dying embers of the Lunacy Regulation (Ireland) Act 1871 vie for life. Simultaneously, the nation’s legal eagles and legislators are working, dervish-like, to finally starve them of oxygen. Ironically, these embers continue to shine a light on a pathway that has been 145 years in the making. The upshot is the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 which was enacted at the beginning of the year and has now commenced. After many previous incarnations with regards to capacity legislation, the 2015 Act will, once and for all, finally repeal any talk of ‘lunacy’ and will abolish wardship, i.e. arrangements whereby the court was a substitute decision maker for the person. A major part of the interest in The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 centres around the placement of Advance Healthcare Directives (AHD) on a statutory footing. In that respect, Part 8 of the 2015 Act specifically deals with the Advance Healthcare Directives (AHD), which is defined in Section 82 in relation to a person who has capacity, as “an advance expression made by the person…of his or her will and preferences concerning treatment decisions that may arise in

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respect of him or her if he or she subsequently lacks capacity.” In layman’s terms, an AHD is an advance instruction by a person about how he/she wishes to be treated if certain circumstances arise. A living will, if you will. It is viewed as a mechanism whereby persons can voice their wishes around healthcare decisions when they have capacity to do so and for those wishes to take effect when they no longer have such capacity. The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) 2015 Act is long awaited but with the help of the United Nations and the Council of Europe, those charged in Ireland with binning antiquated legislation are making progress. In 2006 the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities called on states to facilitate people with disabilities to exercise their rights and express their preferences in relation to their care. Three years later, the Council of Europe issued a recommendation on the principles concerning continuing powers of attorney in advance directives for incapacity. The


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The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 was enacted at the beginning of the year has now commenced. Marie Kinsella, partner, ByrneWallace momentum was building. Then in 2014, the Council of Europe issued a recommendation in relation to the promotion of human rights. That recommendation aided and abetted by substantial lobbying by stakeholders such as Inclusion Ireland, Support and Advocacy for Older People in Ireland (SAGE) and the Law Reform Commission, for a change in the legislation, has brought us to the cusp of our destination. What lies ahead? The High Court will no longer deal with all capacity issues relating to vulnerable persons. The new Act confers jurisdiction on the Circuit Court, other than in specified areas warranting a High Court application such as the provision or withdrawal of life sustaining treatment. “We have not yet ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, but the introduction of the 2015 Act is one step towards us being able to ratify it,” explains Marie Kinsella, a partner in ByrneWallace, a leading law firm advising on healthcare law. “We were not in a position to ratify the Convention because we did not have the requisite capacity legislation but we are now well on our way to being able to ratify the Convention, with the enactment of the 2015 Act and it is hoped that ratification will take place before the end of this year,” Marie added. It seems that Ireland has been playing a long game of catchup in relation to the rights of persons with disabilities but we appear to be on the home straight now. Most countries in Europe have long since enacted similar legislation. Why has Ireland laboured in getting off the starting blocks? “There were probably a number of factors at play in relation to the delays but specifically in relation to the introduction of the 2015 Act, a significant amount of infrastructure was required to be put in place in order to administer the Act. For example, the Decision Support Service, which is central to the administration of the Act, is an entirely new service which had to be brought on stream,” Marie added. The Department of Justice has confirmed that it is actively seeking to recruit a Director of the Decision Support Services. “The Act also provides for “non-Court” options which are

novel in this area of the law. Those options (the decision-making assistant and the co-decision maker) are designed to assist the person in the decision-making process without the necessity to attend Court. Provisions are also required to be put in place for the administration of those “non-Court” options”. It appears that the old status quo vis-à-vis wardship will disappear once the 2015 Act is fully commenced and few will lament its passing. “Basically, the new order will see the individual’s capacity being assessed based on his or her ability to understand the relevant issue at the time the decision is made rather than removing the person’s decision making ability entirely. This is a hugely welcomed development being brought in by the new Act,” Marie points out. All of the various stakeholders enthusiastically welcomed the enactment of the new legislation in December 2015. On the question of whether or not there is likely to be a challenge to the new Act, Marie, who is also a member of the Law Society’s Mental Health and Capacity Task Force, observes that “when the legislation is fully commenced, it will dramatically change what we have been used to and, as with all new legislation, it will require a period of ‘bedding down’ and an understanding from the public at large as to what they can and cannot do in terms of obtaining assistance with their decisions.” “Ultimately, it is in everyone’s interests and for our society as a whole to ensure that vulnerable persons are properly supported in terms of the decisions that they want to make and to ensure that their wishes are adequately addressed in all aspects of their lives.” The way Ireland Inc. is looking after its old and vulnerable people is changing for the better. The enactment of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015 which provides for Advance Healthcare Directives (AHD) can only help the country continue in that vein. Marie Kinsella is a partner in the Health and Social Care Team in leading law firm ByrneWallace. For further information on the Assisted Decision- Making (Capacity) 2015 Act, contact Marie Kinsella at 01 691 5668 or on mkinsella@byrnewallace. com or visit www.byrnewallace.com

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Age-Friendly Learning DCU is committed to working to promote an inclusive approach to healthy and active ageing.

In 2012 DCU established the concept and principles of an Age-Friendly University; the world’s first officially designated Age-Friendly University and is leading a global network of Age Friendly Universities - Arizona State University USA, Strathclyde University (UK), Lassel College MA, and the University of Manitoba, Canada. DCU’s Age Friendly Co-ordinator, Christine O’Kelly said: “DCU is committed to working to promote an inclusive approach to healthy and active ageing, to informing our students and challenging ageism, to focus on innovation to address specific issues affecting older adults, and offer learning opportunities for people across the generations. Our vision is to be recognised internationally as leaders of age-friendly initiatives in education, research and innovation that, in turn, will promote a greater, more connected and productive quality of life for older adults.” This is demonstrated by the range of opportunities and activities in DCU. Last November the first International Age Friendly University Conference “Engaging Ageing” attracted more than 150 older people and 24 higher education institutions from 4

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continents to present their work on ageing. Members of Age Action’s U3A who attended the event and said: “The DCU AFU event re-vitalised us; energised us: contributing to confirming that we should keep going: confirming we are up there with the best; stepping outside the stereotypical boxes; not to accept the narrative of others”. Dr. Jane Barratt, Secretary General for the International Federation on Ageing who made the keynote address to the conference said: “Age Friendly Universities (AFU) through the application of its ten principles has the potential to positively impact the lives of generations of older people across the world. The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) World Report on Ageing and Health is a timely and appropriate vehicle for AFUs to map a pathway that responds to the educational spirit of all ages, through shaping current and future educational opportunities. The International Federation on Ageing (IFA), in official status with the United Nations and WHO stands ready to work with the Dublin City University (DCU) and other age friendly universities toward growing this important network globally, and developing an understanding as to how


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DCU has developed the Advanced Transitions programme, launched in May last for those who wish to embark on a new phase of life for with a structured platform for self-development and planning, mentoring opportunities, customized courses, supporting “silver” and social entrepreneurs and identifying opportunities for brokering expertise to match societal challenges. to measure its impact”. Opportunities to engage with DCU include the DCU Connected Programme which offers a range of online courses. We also offer the opportunity to undertake individual credit bearing modules which allows the flexibility to build towards an undergraduate award. This is ideally suited to those who do not wish to commit to a full time programme but can still benefit from the campus experience as a part time student. Our Intergenerational Learning Programme offers a free computer training programme in addition to a wide range of other dedicated courses designed with the older learner in mind from Genealogy to Everyday Science, Psychology of Ageing to Identity and Sexuality. These courses are modestly priced and do not require any assessment or exams. They also have a social dimension and it is not unusual to see ILP participants meeting for coffee and taking part in other opportunities DCU has to offer. DCU has developed the Advanced Transitions programme, launched in May last for those who wish to embark on a new phase of life for with a structured platform for selfdevelopment and planning, mentoring opportunities, customized courses, supporting “silver” and social entrepreneurs and identifying opportunities for brokering expertise to match societal challenges. Our Dementia Elevator Project which focuses on supporting

those and their careers with Dementia, offers training programmes and information. The Elevator Project will be hosting a Roadshow event in September next which will visit towns and villages nationwide – so look out for it in your area. The MedEX Programme continues to grow with over 600 older people per week attending a customized, medically supervised exercise programme addressing a range of issues from Diabetes, Cancer, Cardiac care, to mobility and COPD. DCU are proud to host a number of events in collaboration with local and national older people’s groups - Operation Conversation with Third Age which supports intergenerational conversation will take place on October 1st next. The Silver Surfer Awards hosted on behalf of Age Action will be opening in September next for nominations and free workshops on a range of issues for example elder abuse, ageism, financial abuse and health issues continue to be hosted on campus on a regular basis. By leading the Age Friendly University network, DCU is demonstrating its commitment to supporting active and healthy ageing and transforming lives and societies not only meeting the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population but influencing and informing our students own aging process. For more information in the AFU Project in DCU and opportunities to engage please contact: Christine O’Kelly, AFU Coordinator DCU. Tel: 01 700 8933 Email: Christine.okelly@dcu.ie or log onto: www.dcu.ie/agefriendly

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Public Sector Magazine

Senior Help Line When Every Minute Makes a Difference Michael, 79, often sees nobody from one end of the week to the other. Living in remote west Cork, he is single, and is no longer allowed to drive which further limits his options. Michael cared for both his parents in their old age, and now lives on in the house he was reared in. Yet, Michael enjoys the constant company of over 150 older people every month. He can chat about the old days, trade political views, share anxieties about his health (he was in hospital last year), and access information on rights and entitlements. Michael is a daily caller to Senior Help Line, a national listening service for older people in Ireland. ‘I phone several times a day,” he says, “I don’t know how I would manage without them”. Senior Help Line was established 18 years ago in the realisation that there are older people like Michael living all over Ireland. Strong, coping people, who, nevertheless, must negotiate a stark world with few relationships, friendships or companionship. They may be single and the last surviving member of their family, or they may be widowed, dealing with a fresh grief, or still learning to be on their own after a lifetime as a couple. Senior Help Line is open every day of the year including Christmas Day from 10 am to 10 pm. The service received 20,000 calls in 2015, with nine out of 10 callers telling us they found the contact ‘helpful’ or ‘useful’. Geographic remoteness is not the only reason for social isolation. Pauline is 67 and lives in an Irish midlands town. She moved there four years ago and found it impossible to make friends. Pauline is separated, childless and suffers from shyness. She found the Senior Help LoCall number in her GP surgery and rang with no great expectation of help. “I was despairing of anything changing for the better. I used to buy a coffee and sit in different restaurants, hoping someone would sit opposite. There were some conversations, but they never led to anything,” she said. Since phoning Senior Help Line three years ago, Pauline has been encouraged to look at options which might add warmth to her day. She now volunteers in the parish (something she never thought of), and has enrolled in day time education. Still without a close friend, today there are people in her life - and people at the end of the line. Pauline still phones Senior Help Line regularly.

“You are my friends, you know me, you don’t judge, you understand. I am so glad I discovered this service,” she says. A busy morning on Senior Help Line Senior Help Line is a national programme of Third Age, a voluntary organisation committed to promoting the value of older people, and their contribution in communities. Third Age has over 1,600 volunteers, all older people, volunteering on socially useful projects in their own locality and adding to their feelings of well-being and self-worth. Due to the constrained nature of funding to the charitable sector today, Third Age/Senior Help Line must constantly seek new partnerships to contribute to the delivery of services. The service needs support to recruit and train volunteers, for administration, to cover operational expenses, including telephony - the caller pays only for the first minute of the call making it affordable for everyone. Can you help Michael and Pauline and the many others who depend on the service? Even a small sum will make a big difference. Putting it at its simplest, every €10 buys 20 minutes of listening on Senior Help Line. These precious minutes can be crucial to someone in crisis with nowhere to turn. 20 minutes makes all the difference to Michael’s day, and helps him to remain at home feeling connected to the outside world. Equally all those help line moments are helping to transform Pauline’s life. Your support will also help many more callers reaching out for a friendly voice and a listening ear when they need them most. For further information, log on to http://www.thirdageireland.ie/senior-helpline

Senior Help Line is a national programme of Third Age, a voluntary organisation committed to promoting the value of older people, and their contribution in communities. Third Age has over 1,600 volunteers, all older people, volunteering on socially useful projects in their own locality and adding to their feelings of well-being and self-worth. the Public Sector Magazine

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ireland's only telePHone serviCe for older PeoPle Provided by trained older volunteers

loCall 1850 440 444

subsidised service - no call costing caller more than 30 cent

HelPing to

20,000 calls

received in 2015

open every day of the year from

E

10am till 10pm

suPPort

older PeoPle

at Home

stablished in 1998, Senior Help Line is a national programme of Third Age, a not-for-profit organisation promoting the value of older people and their contribution in communities. Senior Help Line receives its core funding from the HSE.

Confidential

Professional

Senior Help Line

National Confidential Listening Service for Older People

LoCall 1850 440 444

available


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Comfort Keepers Home Care Comfort Keepers has been providing care to people in their own homes since 2005. Comfort Keepers’ mission is to provide your loved one with the highest possible quality of life. We treat each of our clients with the respect and dignity they deserve, as though we were caring for a member of our own family Our greatest asset is a dedicated team of caring professionals, all of whom have undergone a rigorous HR process to include Garda Vetting and reference checks and training through our own Comfort Keepers training department which includes QQI/ Fetac qualification. In order to maintain a high quality of standards we continue to use a comprehensive telemonitoring system that enables us to ensure your carer has arrived to your home and the agreed time by logging in and has stay the agreed amount of time by logging out also. Throughout the many years we have been in operation we have become experts in providing high quality care to our client. Our ethos is to provide care and support that enables people to live in the comfort of their own home with independence and dignity. We provide care from 30mins a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are specialists in care for the older person and our services include Personal Care, Companionship and Homemaking, Respite

Care, care for people with a disability, Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Comfort Keepers are accredited by the prestigious Q Mark award and achieved homecare provider of the year at the 2016 Q Mark awards. We have achieved ISO certification and maintain this certification every year and are also a member of HCCI. We have worked with the HSE as a preferred provider since 2007 and continue our relationship with the HSE as a provider of choice in the 2016/17. We have experienced Client Care Managers in each of our offices nationwide who have many years’ experience in providing care for people within the community and will assess each client prior to commencing care and will ensure ongoing reviews are carried out. Comfort Keepers Head Office is based at: Block B, 3rd Floor Joyce’s Court, Talbot Street, Dublin 1. Tel: 018921302 Email: care@comfortkeepers.ie

1850 911 800

Counties we cover: Dublin Louth Meath Cavan Monaghan Cork Limerick

Comfort Keepers 1/2.indd 1

Clare North Tipperary Galway Offaly Leitrim Laois Kildare

Westmeath Wicklow Wexford Waterford Carlow Kilkenny Longford

1850 911 800

care@comfortkeepers.ie www.comfortkeepers.ie

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Royal Masterpeace Royal Masterpeace has built up a reputation for performance and quality, based on the total commitment to the changing requirements of the healthcare market.

An ongoing commitment to product development at the company’s own research and development facilities are helping Royal Masterpeace to lead the way with innovative product designs.

Royal Masterpeace manufacture and supply a comprehensive selection of products specifically for the healthcare and related market sectors, designed to ease the workload of the carer and to improve the comfort and quality of life for the patients. The company is currently experiencing strong demand for its products in all sectors. Over the last 40 years, they have supplied new build complete furniture fit out projects up to 160 bed units supplying beds, mattresses, overbed tables, bedroom chairs, wardrobes, lockers, sitting room furniture, dining room furniture, hoists and alarm systems. Many of these projects have been bespoke design and colour coordinated to each nursing home requirement. An ongoing commitment to product development at the company’s own research and development facilities are helping Royal Masterpeace to lead the way with innovative product designs, keeping the company ahead of new nursing techniques and needs. Royal Masterpeace also offers a comprehensive range of

Service, Breakdown and Maintenance Contracts, which ensure that all your products are maintained to a safe working standard, which also prolongs the lifespan of your products. Royal Masterpeace are continually extending the range of products they supply. They also develop and customise products to suit specific requirements. The company’s sales team will assist you to source all your furniture requirements and can arrange a demonstration of their products in their extensive showroom in Navan or in the convenience of your own premises. Royal Masterpeace would also like to thank all their existing and future customers for supporting Irish manufacturing jobs.

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Age-Friendly University

It is never too late to learn something new, come and join us, at the world’s first designated Age Friendly University Dublin City University - leading a global network of Age Friendly Universities. We have a variety of opportunities ranging from our Intergenerational Learning Programme - keeping the mind active and engaged - to dipping into credit bearing modules and working towards an award at your own pace. We also offer online courses through our DCU Connected Programme and our Advanced Transitions programme combines an academic approach with the latest thinking in personal development training. Our MedEX fitness programme addresses COPD, Diabetes, Cardiac Care, Mobility, and Cancer in a supervised envionment. Interested in hearing more? Call: Christine O’Kelly, Age Friendly Coordinator 01 700 8933 Email: christine.okelly@dcu.ie Visit our website: www.dcu.ie/agefriendly


Public Sector Magazine

Positive Ageing 2016 “Positive Ageing 2016”, the first National Positive Ageing Indicators report was launched recently by Junior Minister for Older People, Helen McEntee, and finds that over 7% of people aged over 50 report feeling lonely.

Nearly half (45%) of people aged 50 or over reported that they have felt discriminated against because of their age in the past two years.

There are some 540,000 people aged 65 or more in Ireland — 12% of the country’s population. According to statisticians and demographers this figure is set to rise to 1.4 million, or 22% of the population, in a quarter of a century. This will have significant economic implications in terms of housing, health, social supports and pensions and it is also likely to result in sweeping cultural challenges. Speaking after attending the National Convention of Older People’s Councils in Cavan recently where she launched ‘Positive Ageing 2016’, Junior Minister Helen McEntree said the ageing of our population presents both a challenge and an opportunity for all of Government and the report highlights many of the positive and the negative aspects of growing older in Ireland today. “This report contains lots of positive messages but also highlights areas that we need to improve on. We know that older people want to age in their own homes and communities and that creating positive change in health and wellbeing of people across our cities, towns and villages takes the involvement of the whole community, the whole of Government and all of society working in unison. “This report outlines the broad range of areas in which people need to be supported in order to enjoy a positive ageing experience.” However, the report also highlights the stark reality of life for a significant number of older citizens

Among its findings, the report stated that 7.1% of people aged over 50 often feel lonely, and it warns that chronic loneliness “can have a negative impact on physical and mental health, increasing the risk of depression, cognitive decline and mortality”. More than one third (35%) of people aged 50 or over are obese, while more than two thirds (67%) reported low levels of physical activity. Almost one in five (19%) reported an unmet need for a community care service. Nearly half (45%) of people aged 50 or over reported that they have felt discriminated against because of their age in the past two years. Justin Moran, head of advocacy and communications at Age Action, the advocacy organisation for older people, welcomed the report and said it plays an important role in setting out clearly where we are succeeding and where we need to do more to implement the National Positive Ageing Strategy. “It should be seen as a call to action for the Government and state agencies, and a challenge to groups like ourselves to work together to ensure the strategy is fully implemented,” he said. “Growing old in Ireland should not be a source of fear. It should be a positive experience where the dignity and independence of older people is protected, and their contribution recognised. “There is a lot of work ahead of us to make that vision a reality but this report will be an enormous help in that task and we look forward to working with the Minister in the months and years to come.”

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Public Sector Magazine

Healthy Spend The Department of Health received €14.6, its highest ever allocation in Budget 2017 and Minister Simon Harris says the unprecedented investment will make a real difference to the services that can be delivered.

The Department of Health was one of the winners from Budget 2017 having secured a total budget to €14.6bn, the highest ever health budget. For 2017, the Department of Health will have funding of €14,152 for current expenditure and €454M for capital expenditure. This represents an increase of €977M on the 2016 budget for current expenditure and €40M for capital expenditure. The provision for 2017 represents a 7.4% increase on the original Voted Budget for 2016 and a 3.5% increase on the final projected 2016 outturn. Budget 2017 includes; €18.5M to support the development of primary care services, €10M in new development funding for homecare supports like home help and home care packages; €20M to enable people with a disability to move to more appropriate accommodation in the community. The Budget also provided for automatic medical cards for an additional 10,000 very sick children. Minister Simon Harris said that budget demonstrates the Government’s commitment to investing the gains from a recovering economy in a better health service. “This unprecedented investment will serve to make a real difference in the services we can deliver,” he said. “With these increased resources we can plan for the challenge of increased demand from a growing and ageing population, and begin some significant new developments which will over time deliver real improvements for patients on waiting lists, children with disabilities and older people.” The Minister also welcomed the rise in overall funding for services for older people to €765M in 2017, which he said would enable us to focus in particular on homecare services aimed at

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supporting people to continue to live in their own homes and also at facilitating discharge of older people from acute hospitals.”

Key Priority Measures National Treatment Purchase Fund: Additional funding of €15M, rising to €50M in 2018, will be used as part of a focused initiative to address waiting lists. The NTPF total 2017 allocation will be over €20M to undertake an initiative targeted at those waiting longest. Health & Wellbeing: An initial allocation of €5M will kick-start the establishment of a “Healthy Ireland Fund” to support the implementation of Healthy Ireland programmes and projects in a variety of settings, including education, local authorities, workplaces and communities. Older People: An additional €10M in new development funding is being provided for homecare (including home help and home care package provision) to build on the very significant additional homecare funding provided in 2016. A further sum of €3.8M is being made available to support the increased cost of existing services. The budget provides for continuation of the additional €30M for homecare announced in July 2016. Furthermore, a sum of €24M will be available to support homecare provision from funding made available under the Winter Initiative which will continue next year. €2M is being provided in 2017 from within the Department’s Research programme towards a commitment to provide €10M over the years 2017 – 2021 to support the continuation of TILDA, the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing.


Public Sector Magazine

Disabilities: The Programme for Government contains a commitment that all 18-year-old school leavers with disabilities should have access to supports and services which meet their needs as they make the transition from school to adult life. In 2017, approximately 1,500 young people with disabilities who leave school and Rehabilitative (Lifeskills) Training programmes will require continuing HSE funded supports and services. Additional funding of €10M will also contribute towards the development of a number of other Programme for Government commitments including therapies, respite and other supports. Mental Health: €35M in new services will be initiated in 2017 in addition to the €35M provided in 2016 which remains in the base funding of the Mental Health Services. As in previous years, projects initiated in 2017 will not be completed in that calendar year, however, mental health spending in 2017 will include additional capital funding of over €50M for the award of the contract for the construction of the new National Forensic Mental Health Service in Portrane, the total cost of which is in excess of €150M. Primary Care: The budget provides for the commitment in the Programme for Government to provide a medical card to all children in respect of whom a Domiciliary Care Allowance (DCA) payment is made. In the region of 10,000 children for whom a DCA payment is made do not currently hold a Medical Card and will benefit from this measure once the necessary legislative changes are enacted by the Oireachtas. Legislation will be enacted to reduce the monthly cap on prescription charges for those over 70 years of age from €25 to €20.

The Estimate also provides additional funding of €18.5M to support the development of primary care services, including enabling the support of complex paediatric cases at home, maintaining increased Community Intervention Team capacity and meeting lease costs of new Primary Care Centres. Acute Services: Implementation of the National Maternity Strategy commenced in 2016, and further investment of €3M is provided in 2017. The expansion of Paediatric Services commenced in 2016 will be continued with additional investment in 2017 bringing the total funding available to €7.3M in 2017. This includes the development of an All Island Paediatric Cardiology Service. 2016 also saw the rollout of technology upgrades to the National Ambulance Service with an initial investment of €2M, increasing to an annual sum of €3.6M in 2017. Social Inclusion: Funding of €3M n is provided for preparations for the new National Drugs Strategy (which is currently being finalised for submission to Government early in the New Year) and other social inclusion measures.

BUDGET 2017: HEALTH SPEND €20M for NTPF to tackle waiting lists 10,000 medical cards for children with disabilities Reduced prescription charges for people over 70 Supports and services for school-leavers with disabilities €5M to kick-start Healthy Ireland Fund

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Public Sector Magazine

Health of the Nation Summary Report of the second Healthy Ireland Survey. The second annual Healthy Ireland Survey of 7,500 people aged 15 and over living in Ireland gives an up-to-date picture of the health of the nation and reports on many lifestyle behaviours such as smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, diet and mental health. A number of new topics have been included in this year’s survey which examine additional aspects of health behaviours and issues such as multiple risk factors and knowledge and attitudes about health behaviours. In relation to alcohol, the findings show that while 90% of respondents know that alcohol is a risk factor for liver disease, only 27% of women are aware of the increased risk of developing breast cancer as a result of heavy drinking. The majority (55%) of men who drink, consume six or more standard drinks (“binge drink”) on a typical drinking occasion while fewer than 1 in 5 (18%) women drink to this level. The survey also reports that 18% of the population in Ireland is exposed to second-hand smoke on a daily basis. Lifestyles and lack of sufficient exercise or physical activity is also revealed as an issue. Most people (63%) would like to be more physically active although many say that time pressure due to work or caring is a barrier. In addition, people spend 6 hours and 36 minutes sitting on an average day and while men generally spend longer sitting than women, younger women spend more time sitting than men of the same age. Approximately half of the people living in Ireland have had some experience of people with mental health issues. But only 54% of people living in Ireland said they would be willing to live with somebody with a mental health problem, although 83% of people said they would be willing to carry on a relationship with a friend who developed a mental health problem. The Survey showed that of the four types of unhealthy behaviours under consideration, the most common was that almost three quarters (73%) of the population eat fewer than five portions of fruit and vegetables daily. Between a fifth and a third of the population have each of the other three behaviours – binge drinking (28%), sedentary behaviour (26%) and smoking (23%). Commenting on the report’s findings, Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health said that progress has been made in some areas in the last few years but that rates of tobacco consumption, alcohol usage, food consumption patterns and physical inactivity continue to be leading causes of increases in chronic conditions. “The number of people experiencing chronic diseases is increasing,” he said. “We know that the majority of chronic diseases are preventable or modifiable through lifestyle

behaviour changes. Healthy Ireland seeks to support people and communities in making those positive changes and to also influence the wider environment so the healthier choice is the easier one for everyone. This Survey is clearly showing us a clustering of risk factors for poor health with significant numbers of people having two or more unhealthy behaviours. The data from this Survey are a very valuable asset to assist the Department of Health and our other partners working for a Healthy Ireland.”

HEALTHY IRELAND SURVEY n 84% of people living in Ireland say their health is very good or good although 28% indicate that they have a long-standing illness or health condition n 23% of the population are current smokers n Three in five eat snacks every day with 42% of the population eating 6 or more portions daily n Just 27% eat five portions of fruit and vegetables daily n 14% consume sugar sweetened drinks daily, rising to 22% of those aged 15 to 24 n 37% of drinkers indicate that they drink six or more standard drinks (“binge drinking”) on a typical drinking occasion n 91% of those who feel they do not undertake a sufficient level of activity would like to be more active n While 19% of people living in Ireland smoke on a daily basis, recruitment of new smokers continues at a high rate with 20% of those aged under 25 currently smoking n 67% of men and 39% of women aged under 25 binge drink on a typical drinking occasion n The average annual number of GP visits rises from 3.4 visits among 15 to 24 year olds to 8.4 among those aged 75 and older and 27% have consulted a medical or surgical consultant in the past 12 months n Approximately half of the people living in Ireland have had some experience of people with mental health issues

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Public Sector Magazine

zinopy Protect Against Cyber Attacks and Prepare for EU GDPR

Ransomware Organisations, regardless of their size and sector in which they operate, face increasingly costly threats that put customer data and intellectual property at serious risk. The recent ‘wave’ of ransomware attacks has led to many Irish businesses being compromised, resulting in financial loss and reputational damage. The public sector is increasingly becoming the focus of these attacks and the list of public bodies affected includes County Councils, Government departments and other State bodies.

What does GDPR mean for Public Sector agencies? From May 2018, the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will require all Public Sector organisations to more effectively understand how they manage data about their citizens, contractors and staff. The GDPR will introduce a new set of requirements on agencies around managing the privacy of data about any person who is classed as an EU citizen. One key aspect of the new regulation is the very large fines associated

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with breaches of the regulations. The maximum fine is now set at 4% of annual worldwide turnover (aimed at commercial organisations) or €20M.

Firewalls and Associated Services Framework Zinopy has recently been awarded a place by the Office of Government Procurement on the Framework Agreement for the Provision of Firewalls and Associated Services. The Framework Agreement is for the provision, delivery, installation/implementation, commissioning/configuring (including any technical training), support and maintenance of Firewalls as required. As the threats against systems and networks evolve, so too should the defensive technology that we rely on. Nextgeneration firewalls provide intrusion prevention, advanced malware protection, URL filtering and application visibility and control all together in a single consolidated appliance. Zinopy partners with Cisco to provide the industry’s first adaptive, threat-focused next-generation firewall that’s intelligent, simple, intuitive, cost-effective and incredibly secure.


Public Sector Magazine

John Ryan, CEO Zinopy

Learn more on November 22nd in Dublin In association with Cisco, Zinopy is hosting a breakfast briefing exclusive to the public sector on Tuesday, November 22nd in the Merrion Hotel (Dublin), where our panel of speakers will discuss how implementing next-generation

firewall technology can ensure your organisation is effectively protected against the mounting risks posed by ransomware and the ever-evolving cyber threats landscape. The briefing will also arm you with everything you need to know to comply with the obligations introduced by the GDPR affecting a variety of industry sectors where large quantities of personal data are processed.

RANSOMWARE, EU GDPR AND THE CLOUD: How Can You Prepare For What’s Coming Next? Date:

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Register: Visit www.zinopy.ie/latest/ events/ or call 01-8976750

BOOK YOUR PLACE TODAY! Visit www.zinopy.ie/latest/events/ for more info and to view the agenda. Event in association with:

Zinopy has recently been selected as a supplier on the Framework Agreement for the Provision of Firewalls and Associated Services by the Office of Government Procurement. Zinopy and Cisco are pleased to invite you to an exclusive breakfast briefing for the Public Sector where our panel of industry experts will provide essential insights and practical demonstrations on: � Best practices for deploying proactive threat defences in your organisation, stopping attacks before they spread. � Averting ransomware attacks. � Preventing data leakage. � Addressing skills shortages and moving to Managed Services. � Cloud vs On Premise solution deployments.

Demo: “How bad can things get?” – Our hacker will show you exactly how bad things can get if you don’t deploy the appropriate measures to protect your business.

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Public Sector Magazine

Future Proofing Health Minister for Health outlines a 10-year plan to provide continuity to health strategy.

Since being appointed Minister for Health in May of this year, Simon Harris has outlined a range of top priorities including the rapid recruitment of more hospital staff, improved patient care, new GP contracts, the roll-out of free GP care for under-12s and the dismantling of the HSE. The Minister has also promised to investigate why Ireland pays more for cancer drugs than other country. But firstly Harris has vowed to break the cycle of political interruption which sees successive Ministers of Health pursuing vastly different health policies and priorities, thereby undermining the ability to pursue a long term sustainable national health strategy. Early in his tenure, Harris announced a 10-year vision for the Irish health service, promising a “singular plan” that will provide a long term health strategy, regardless of political events” and he set out his intention to establish an Oireachtas Committee to develop a cross-party consensus on the future of the health service. “I believe the health service would benefit enormously from a single unifying vision, that we can all get behind, and that can help to drive reform and development of the system over the next 10 years,” he said. “The public and the people who work so hard in our health service have no lack of appetite for reform but they are certainly fatigued by piecemeal reforms that don’t really change anything and by the shifting priorities that come with political change Before breaking for Summer recess the government held a

meeting and agreed to support a motion establishing the allparty committee to develop cross-party consensus on the future of the health service. Minister Harris also held discussions with opposition Deputies and believes that the motion can attract broad support in the Dáil. The Minister said that the committee will be able to hear witnesses, get expert submissions and report back to the Oireachtas and directly to the Ceann Comhairle within six months. According to Harris, the new committee will have 14 members - four government TDs, three Fianna Fáil TDs, two from Sinn Féin and one each from Labour, Independents4Change, AAA/PBP TD, Rural Alliance and the Social Democrats/Greens. “The work of this committee can mean that the public and those working in the service can have a sense of certainty that there is a long-term strategy agreed by political consensus, and hopefully, societal consensus, that will not change no matter what the makeup of the next Dáil,” said Minister Harris. He added that it will provide frontline staff and patients with “a direction of travel regardless of political events”. “We need a singular plan, to say this is where we want the Irish health service to be over the next ten years. This is how we’re going to get there and this is what it’s going to cost,” he said. “How much would it cost to adequately fund the health service over the next ten years, that is almost an impossible question to answer. We have not yet designed that road map.” Addressing the Dáil, Minister Harris said the move is

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“We need a singular plan, to say this is where we want the Irish health service to be over the next ten years. This is how we’re going to get there and this is what it’s going to cost.”

evidence of politician’s responding to the people’s view in the general election and said while the new Dáil is diverse it need not be divided. “We need a plan, that regardless of whether you’re a Fine Gael deputy, or a Fine Fáil deputy or a Sinn Féin deputy or a Social Democrat, or anyone else or Labour, you can say this is where we want the Irish health service to be over the next ten years, here’s how we want to get there and crucially this is how it’s going to cost,” said Mr Harris. Fianna Fáil spokesperson for health Billy Kelleher welcomed the establishment of a health committee. However, he said that it was a very ambitious target of the committee to have its work done in six months and added that the public healthcare system does not have the capacity to deliver a service for all citizens. Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly also welcomed the committee but said she is concerned that any potential models agreed by the committee will simply be disregarded if the Government of the day does not agree with them. The apparent consensus on the issue is reassuring and presents some hope of finally delivering a sustainable, long terms solution to the myriad problems afflicting the health service with some 500,000 people on waiting lists, hundreds more on trolleys in emergency departments, acute staff shortages and low morale. Whether the committee can reach the required consensus on the policies as well as the principal of cross party co-operation

on health is another matter. Minister Harris has said he wants to learn “where we want the Irish health service to be over the next 10 years, how we want to get there and, most importantly, how much it is going to cost”. The committee is due to complete its work within six months, will give Harris some breathing space as he adjusts to his new job. The idea of a cross part committee to establish consensus on health policy originated from the Social Democrats which says it will need to be properly resourced and will also require significant input from academics in the universities and the Economic and Social Research Institute. Co-founder and joint leader of the Social Democrats, Roisin Shortall believes the committee should have two main strands, one looking at the kind of health system most appropriate for Ireland and the funding that should apply, and the other examining how the model of care can be changed away from hospital and towards primary care. She also believes the involvement of private health insurance in the public system needs to be phased out, or at least reduced to UK levels, where 15% of the population has private cover, compared with almost 50% in Ireland. No one expects the task to be easy. It is a model which was pursued in Holland to mixed results. But Ireland’s health system is creaking at the seams and a collective political effort may be the most effective method of driving much needed reforms…. but only if they can agree on a way forward.

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Public Sector Magazine

Action on Education Government launched Action Plan for Education aimed at becoming the best education service in Europe

The Government has launched the first Action Plan for Education, led by Minister Richard Bruton, aimed at making the Irish education and training service the best in Europe by 2026. The plan builds on the successful model of the Action Plan for Jobs, pioneered by Minister Bruton as Minister for Jobs. In early 2012, when the first Action Plan for Jobs was launched, unemployment was at 15.1%; at the time of the most recent figures, an extra 190,000 jobs had been created and unemployment had fallen to 8.3%. This plan, which incorporates the Department of Education’s Strategy Statement as well as the Action Plan for Education, outlines hundreds of actions and sub-actions to be implemented across 20162019, with timelines and lead responsibility assigned. “We have set a really ambitious target here in this plan with the aim of making the Irish education system the best in Europe within a decade,” said Education Minister Richard Bruton. “There are hundreds of actions in the plan to help disadvantaged schools, to reduce the cost of school for parents, and to boost the teaching of science in schools. “Excellent and innovative education and training are the pivot around which personal fulfilment, a fair society and a successful nation should revolve. It is central to sustaining economic success and in converting economic success into building a strong community. Our ambition in the Action Plan for Education is to make Ireland the best education and training service in Europe. This will mean that we can provide better opportunities for more people from disadvantaged groups, as well as ensuring we create more sustainable well-paying jobs.” “In this plan, our high ambitions are matched by specific actions to deliver on them, across all parts of the education service. Actions are aimed at improving outcomes for the learners who depend on the service, at breaking cycles of disadvantage, at supporting teachers and institutions to continually improve, at building better

links between education and the broader community, and at improving our systems on which we depend to deliver all this.” “There is no big bang solution. Rather, the cumulative impact of the implementation of the hundreds of actions and sub actions in the Action Plan will have a lasting and positive impact on the Irish educational and training sector”. “I believe we can work together with all the people who work in and depend on the education and training service to, collectively, make it into the best in Europe and deliver on the goals that we have set ourselves as a country.” Among the measures which have been applauded by educators is the commitment to introduce coding at primary level from 2018. “We are committed to rolling out ICT at every level. We have asked the NCCA to initiate how coding will be introduced at primary level,” Minister Bruton said. Among the other headline actions announced as part of the Action Plan for Education are: Disadvantage – a new ambitious DEIS plan published by end-2016 which will pioneer new approaches for delivering results; DEIS schools to hit the national average for school retention levels, within the next decade (an increase of at least 9%); a 30% increase in the number of students from disadvantaged areas attending higher level; five-fold increase in the reach of the Incredible Years teacher programme for DEIS schools; six-fold increase in the reach of the Friends programme aimed at supporting children in difficulty Subject choice – including rolling out coding to primary schools from 2018, teaching of computer science as a Leaving Certificate subject, and processes to introduce teaching of new languages such as Mandarin at second level and to enhance teaching of languages at third level

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Skills – recognising that the ‘war for talent’ is now one of the most important factors for job-creation, ambitious action to be developed and implemented including a total of 100 apprenticeship schemes and 50 traineeship schemes delivering 50,000 registrations between now and 2020; 25% increase in increase access to work experience at higher level; 25% increase in flexible learning; an entrepreneurship education plan Mental health and Wellbeing – roll out a national programme to support the implementation of Wellbeing Guidelines to all primary and post-primary schools; Implement Wellbeing at Junior Cycle; publish the 2015 Lifeskills survey, providing information on how schools cater for the wellbeing of their students Parents/children – ensure that the voices of the service users are made more central to the system by developing a Parents and Learners Charter on a statutory basis Costs – new measures to tackle the costs of schools for parents including a requirement on schools to take consideration of the needs of parents when taking decisions that have a financial impact, a strong new circular to schools regarding uniform costs (which will be developed taking into account the views of parents), and extra funding for book rental schemes as resources permit Leadership – better mentoring for newly appointed school principals, a coaching service for existing school principals, and a postgraduate qualification for aspiring school principals Improvement – over 366,000 hours of continuous professional development for teachers by 2017 (a 4.5% increase on 2016); a new centre of excellence, integrating existing supports, to support in-school improvement and peer exchange, and a school excellence fund to support innovation Special educational needs – establish a new Inclusion Support Service to bring together various services to better support children with special educational needs School building programme – aimed at delivering over 60,000 additional permanent school places, over 300 extensions to existing schools and build 14 new schools by 2021 Teacher education – Launch a competitive call to increase access to teacher education by students from members of the Irish Traveller community, students with disabilities and students from underrepresented socio-economic groups and communities Gaeltacht – Publish and implement an education strategy for the Gaeltacht. In preparing this Action Plan, the Minister for Education and Skills engaged with 125 stakeholder organisations and with members of the Oireachtas, and also received a total of 600 submissions, many from members of the public. The Minister will now refer the Action Plan to the Oireachtas Committee for further consultation in advance of its formal adoption as the Department’s Strategy Statement.

BUDGET BOOSTS EDUCATION Over 2,400 new teachers in 2017 Budget 2017 represents the start of a new phase of reinvestment in education, and the first phase of implementation of the Action Plan for Education, aimed at becoming the best education system in Europe within a decade. The Department of Education and Skills budget will increase by €458M(5.1%) in 2017 compared to the allocation for 2016 announced in last year’s budget. More than 2,400 extra teachers will be hired in 2017 – a 3.5% increase – as a result of the additional measures announced in Budget 2017. The total education budget for 2017 will be €9.53bn, in excess of 16%of total spending. Key items in the Budget include: n Additional posts in schools: 2,515 additional posts in schools in 2017, including 900 additional resource teachers and 115 additional Special Needs Assistants. The remaining 1500 posts are additional mainstream teaching posts arising from various initiatives. n Higher education: An initial additional €160M in total current funding is committed to higher education over three years, the first significant expansion in Government spending on higher education after a decade in which such spending was cut by 33%, with measures in 2017 including: n Over 3000 students from disadvantaged groups will benefit from an additional package of €8.5M to support more disadvantaged students, including lone parents and Travellers, to attend higher level. n Funding to commence a New Frontiers Research Programme and a new initiative to attract world-leading researchers in the context of Brexit n For the first time in recent years, specific additional funding is being allocated for 2017, 2018 and 2019 to cover the impact of increasing enrolments. Funding for 2017 will support 179,000 full-time enrolments n Provision for expansion in apprenticeship n Provision to implement the new International Education Strategy and increase the value of the sector by €500M per year and attract 37,000 additional students by 2020 n A new comprehensive and ambitious multi-year funding package for the sector from 2018. n School leadership – a new package of support for this crucial area, including additional deputy principal posts for larger second level schools and middle management posts for primary and postprimary schools. n Additional capitation: Capitation investment for an estimated 11,000 additional students, to keep pace with demographic growth. n Disadvantage: Provision to implement the new Action Plan for Disadvantaged Schools which will be announced before the end of the year,

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CASTLEBAR REGIONAL TRAINING CENTRE COMHAIRLE CONTAE MHAIGH EO The Mall, Castlebar, Co. Mayo

Castlebar Regional Training Centre provides training for Local Authorities, Private Group Water Schemes, Utilities and Private Contractors. We are continuously developing and delivering courses / seminars that meet the changing needs in the current environment for both the public and private sectors. Life Long Learning is provided in three main areas: •

Practical outdoor courses for water services, environment, roads

All Health and Safety Courses

High level Professional/Leadership courses and seminars

To make a reservation or if you require further information, please contact Maura Lawless, Manager, Castlebar Regional Training Centre at

(094) 904 76 72

mlawless@mayococo.ie

www.lasntg.ie


Public Sector Magazine

Castlebar Regional Training Centre Servicing the training needs of group water schemes and local authorities

Castlebar Regional Training Centre (CRTC) facilitates the training needs of staff in the following Local Authorities: Mayo, Galway County, Leitrim, Longford, Roscommon County Councils and Galway City Council. Mayo County Council is the lead authority. We also provide training to the rural water sector, utility sector and other public and private sector organisations in the region. We have grown the Centre consistently over the past few years and we now deliver approximately 5,000 training days per annum. We are self-financing and our turnover in 2015 increased to €1.08M. The Training Centre Network was established to facilitate the provision of appropriate training to Local Authorities in three key operational areas, namely Roads, Water and Environment. In 1993, the Water Services National Training Group was established to examine the training needs of staff working in the water service area and to make recommendations on how to address these needs. Castlebar Regional Training Centre is assigned to facilitate the training needs of staff in Mayo, Galway, Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon. The Centre is a modern purpose built facility situated adjacent to the civic offices of Mayo County Council. It provides a vast range courses in the areas of health and safety, roads, environment and water services – all of which are open to the public sector, local authorities, utilities and the private sector. However, we also provide a wide range of other training courses including: n Occupational Health & Safety CoursesHigh Level Professional (CPD) courses n Leadership Courses & SeminarsICT courses Learning is a lifelong endeavour, whether it takes place in the classroom or in the workplace. Training presents a prime

opportunity to expand the knowledge base of all employees and it is essential for an organisation’s success. CRTC recently began delivery of Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) Accredited Mechanical Joint Integrity (MJI) training courses. The ECITB is the statutory skills body for the engineering construction industry in the UK. ECITB approval allows these advanced technical training programmes to be delivered locally. Recently, Shell Ireland had a number of employees attending these courses in Castlebar meeting the mandatory training standards for their roles in line with general requirements of the oil and gas sector. Other companies and industries working in utilities, water, manufacturing, chemical and renewable energy can benefit from this accredited training and gain an internationally recognized qualification. Training provided is to the highest standard. In addition to ECITB accreditation, the facility has accreditation from SOLAS, QQI and City & Guilds. Workplace training improves business performance, safety and staff morale. The economy is entering into a new phase of recovery. Those who invest in quality accredited training will be able to take full advantage of this great opportunity. Investing in employee development is connected to increased job satisfaction as well as to productivity and efficiency. Our courses are designed to be informative, effective and enjoyable. In the future, we intend to grow the numbers of quality accredited training courses provided for Local authorities. We also intend to grow the Centre’s customer base with more courses attended by private sector employees and employees from the wider public sector. We intend extending the Centre with a view to providing more accredited practical training.

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“The libraries operate in several dimensions such as virtual, physical, inter and multi-disciplinary and anti-disciplinary, national and international,� explains Colette McKenna, Director of Library Services at UCC Library, 90

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Changing Face of Libraries While the primary role of University College Cork is to support students and teaching staff at the university, it also provides a valuable service to the broader community in the region. Bringing together many sources of information not readily available elsewhere in Munster, University College Cork Library’s primary purpose is to serve the University by supporting study, teaching and research as efficiently and effectively as possible. In addition to being a University resource, UCC Library has the capacity to provide a valuable service to the community in many fields of endeavour. UCC has always welcomed the relationship between town and gown and extended library services for the benefit of research into the arts, science and technology and social studies. The University’s library comprises the Boole Library (Main Campus), Boston Scientific Health Sciences Library (Brookfield), Cork University Hospital Library and Mercy University Hospital. According to Colette McKenna, Director of Library Services at UCC Library, the service is evolving constantly, as one would expect from a contemporary and innovative academic library. “The libraries operate in several dimensions such as virtual, physical, inter and multi-disciplinary and anti-disciplinary, national and international,” explained Ms McKenna. With an impressive collection of 735,000 titles, of which approximately 220,000 are e-books, the library has 2,194 serials in print, 81,000 e-journals and 180 plus databases. The Multimedia Centre facilitates the use of DVDs, CDs, audio cassettes, LPs and videos. As UCC is a copyright Library, all Irish Government publications can be located there and a representative collection of British Official publications forms part of this section. The library also plays host of a Special Collections & Archives room which includes rare books and manuscripts, theses, microfilms, specialist research materials and two reading rooms. The library not only offers University students and graduates a vital service but engages with younger people in the community through its Professor Fluffy Tours having already visited seven Cork City DEIS schools including Scoil Mhuire Fatima, St Mary’s on the Hill, Knockaheeny, Blarney Street CBS and Scoil Padre Pio, Churchfield. “This is part of a pilot primary school project introducing the concept of Third Level Education to primary school children,” explained Ms McKenna. The programme is aimed at Fifth Class DEIS students. Through this interactive programme full of fun and games, children learn about student and university life and are encouraged to think about going to university or college when they finish school. “They learn that hard work in school will open

opportunities to them,” she said. “UCC staff with the aid of primary school class teachers deliver the five session programme with the final fifth session culminating in an introductory lecture, Boole Library tour, campus tour, workshop and mini graduation ceremony at the university.” Wishing to increase its engagement with the community, the Library is currently looking at the Boole Library entrance with a view to making it more welcoming and inviting, for all its campus visitors. Exhibitions prove popular with the community and attract a wide range of visitors. Just recently, it held Cervantes ‘Prince of Wits’ (1616-2016): Life, Work, Legacy exhibition and in 2014 it hosted Sir Henry’s Exhibition which documented the distinctive history of this legendary and iconic Cork City music venue. Sir Henry’s Bar and Nightclub, located on South Main Street (1978-2003) was renowned locally, nationally and internationally for its vibrant music scene. The objectives of the exhibition, curated by Martin O’Connor (UCC Library), Stevie Grainge (Radio Presenter and DJ at Sir Henry’s) and Eileen Hogan (School of Applied Studies, UCC), were to begin the process of creating a permanent archive of popular music in UCC Library starting with Sir Henry’s and branching out into Cork’s wider popular music scene, to document a very much hidden history of an important part of Cork’s recent social, cultural and musical past, to preserve the history for future interested parties and to engage with the wider Cork community as part of UCC’s Outreach Programme. Technology has impacted well on the library with an increasing number of e-books being bought. Users can issue and return books by themselves. “We have just introduced a new web-based room booking system where our students can book group research rooms where they can work together in collaboration,” said Ms McKenna. “Our newly opened Creative Zone gives the opportunity for about 100 students to work together or individually in a room that is technologically rich.” We also host the Blackstone Launchpad in this area which encourages entrepreneurial activities for all UCC students, staff and alumni. This year, the library increased the electrical sockets and USB chargers and sockets by 520, saturated the library with WiFi in every area and extended opening hours are currently being implemented. These three initiatives are the most important services identified and required by our students. The library is a revolutionary and disruptive time of transformational shifts in higher education, research, teaching

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UCC

“Hybrid models of library and online education are evolving due to fiscal, pedagogical and technological challenges - leading libraries to be less space dependent.” and learning and international information. Its strategic priorities are technology enhanced education, internationalism, innovation and entrepreneurship, catalysing research and engaging with the community. Looking to the future, services include a move from digitising to digitalisation of the library, providing increasingly diverse services to the ever-widening, inter-disciplinary academic fields, balancing international and national responsibilities, increasing integration into teaching, learning and research, increasing collaboration and strategic partnerships and accelerating access to Unique and Distinct Collections (UDCs) to activate new areas of scholarships. “Hybrid models of library and online education are evolving due to fiscal, pedagogical and technological challenges,” said Ms McKenna, leading libraries to be less space dependent. However, quality library space remains critical and this is evidenced by the capital investment all universities make in

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their library estate globally and here in Ireland. “We are professionally compelled to review our services to be proactive in engaging with our university community, in the first instance. We provide information resources, books and journals and space, both physically and virtually, for our users – undergraduates, post-graduates, academics and researchers,” she explained. The key challenges facing the library includes the decreasing budget that is allocated to information resources – books, journals, both print and electronic. “Having said that, this has afforded us the opportunity to review our working practices and find innovative and creative ways to do even better with less,” she said. The accelerating pace in technological developments and the need to stay abreast with these can be a challenge. The variety of devices and increasing expectations and demands for all our users ensure we stay focused on the best experience we can give our users.”


WWW.BOOLEWEB.UCC.IE

DISCOVER, LEARN, INSPIRE... WITH


Public Sector Magazine

Fostering a Love of Learning Cork County Library - Empowering communities by providing access to resources that educate, inform, enlighten and enrich the lives of citizens Cork County Library aims to empower communities by providing access to resources that educate, inform, enlighten and enrich the lives of local citizens by supporting and promoting literacy and a love of reading. Established in the 1920s, Cork County Library this year honoured its first County Librarian on the 50th anniversary of his death. At the age of 22, writer, dramatist and master of the Short Story, Frank O’Connor was appointed at the age of 22 in 1925 to supervise the establishment of a Library service in County Cork. Back then in the region of 25 libraries, which were little reading rooms dotted around the county, were established and Mr O’Connor had a huge committee comprising of over 100 members. This led to the establishment of Cork County Library’s 28 branches and four mobile libraries. In 2015, Cork County Libraries had 1.7 million visitors to all of its 28 branches and mobile libraries with 56,381 registered readers. Two of the busiest branches last year were Mallow, with a visitor count in one week standing at 2,762 while the second busiest, Middleton, had a visitor count of 2,335. “We are expecting our membership numbers to go up

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considerably this year as we have introduced free membership,” said Eileen O’Brien, Cork County Librarian. “We have branches in nearly all of the major towns in County Cork stretching from Castletownbere to Youghal to Charleville to Mitchelstown. “We have four full-time mobile libraries that fill the geographical gaps in between with nearly 500 mobile stops which are all mapped with their times on our website.” She said mobile libraries are still very popular in Cork among the elderly or housebound. They are well used by rural schools as well ensuring these children have access to a library facility. “We also have iPads on board to show older people who may not be used to mobile devices how easy they are to use and to promote our online range of services as well,” said Ms O’Brien. Since joining the library service in 1995, Ms O’Brien has seen huge evolutions in the service. “I joined just as the Internet was becoming more mainstream and the World Wide Web was in existence. At that time, many people heralded it as the end of books and the end of libraries.


Public Sector Magazine

“But, rather than getting left behind, libraries really embraced the technology and we became the centres of access to this technology within the community.” Libraries allowed people, who may not have otherwise got access to Internet for whatever reason, become Internet literate, finding information and evaluating information online. “That information literacy was a key area of importance in the late ‘90s and in the last decade,” said Ms O’Brien. This, in turn, she said, has progress now to libraries helping to develop people’s skills further. “A lot of our libraries now provide E-Learning courses, which are provided in partnership with other bodies, such as FAS. These FAS courses give people a recognised outcome with a FETAC Former Mayor John Paul O’Shea, Ayesha Shareef and Eileen O Brien qualification.” The libraries also provide, on a casual basis, courses by Age Action where there’s no pressure to gain to be short term it requires clear, quantifiable outcomes for an academic qualification. investment within a given period of government.” “Although the role of libraries has changed through the And so the focus is on numbers of issues, visitors and Internet Age, in some ways the service has stayed exactly the members libraries have and while these are definitely a help in same. Our core values haven’t changed – we want to promote indicating whether a library service is successful, the long term education, reading and literacy within the community. That’s value of public libraries in people’s lives needs more attention. core to our role, whatever the format used,” said Ms O’Brien. “We need to find ways of capturing that data to give a more At Cork County’s Headquarters at Carrigrohane Road, meaningful understanding of what libraries are contributing to an excellent Reference and Local Studies section exists where society,” she said. people can make a start on tracing their genealogy. Staff have In the future, Ms O’Brien said she would like to develop recently produced a unique booklet on everything needed to the library’s infrastructure in order to keep pace with plans for tracing Cork ancestors. Entitled ‘Walking in the Footsteps of developing services. Your Ancestors’ the booklet will be useful for all County Library “Because it requires huge investment, it is something that branches around the county. is difficult to plan coming out of a recession so we are going to ‘Our Local Studies section was developed over many years, keep exploring avenues to addressing that,” she said. from Padraig O’Maidin, who was librarian in the 1960s and The library is building on its Bibliotherapy scheme which 1970s to the late Tim Cadogan who also did an awful lot to aims to promote positive mental health within the community. develop the section,” said Ms O’Brien. “We won a Chambers Ireland Local Government Award “Our current staff are working on digitising those in 2015 for our programme, whereby we have a range of collections which is a big area for us.” As with any service, there resources such as books which are reviewed and approved are always key challenges such as trying to remain relevant. by HSE psychologists to be recommended to members of the “The use of a library service is to a large degree elective,” public who have issues like depression, mental health, growing said Ms O’Brien. We have to work hard to actively promote older, confidence in childhood. This programme has been it. We have to keep our users coming back. We are constantly supplemented by talks from those HSE psychologists around trying to attract the attention of non-users and convince them the county. of the benefits of library membership and use. We feel there is And that’s an ongoing programme and it’s another area where something in a library for everyone.” the importance of partnership has been huge for us,” she said. Another challenge is of performance measurement. The The library has done a lot of initiatives in the last two years benefits of library use are long term. to develop a love of poetry and a love of reading. “If a child is introduced to reading at an early age, and “For the Frank O’Connor anniversary this year we did continues to read throughout their youth and adult lives, we readings with the public of his short stories. We held a Poetry feel they will realise huge benefits from that and try out their Wave across the county which started in Mitchelstown, in the knowledge, language and literacy skills. morning and by 5pm the Wave had reached Castletownbere “We feel they will be more empowered able to engage and where we had pockets of groups of people and school children contribute to society but it’s very difficult to trace a clear cause coming in reading poetry. and effect link between the use of library services and these “We are really trying to get back to basics and to develop outcomes. “Because the political view of public services tends that real love of literature and of sharing literature,” she said.

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Learning Centred Library “While libraries take on a new shape, it will always be a place to learn, “ Cork City Librarian Liam Ronayne tells Nicola Donnelly. Cork has long had significant collections of books for both learning and pleasure, from the time of the monastic community in Gillabbey, where the city began. It was not until the last decade of the 19th century, however, that the public library service began in the city. While Cork was the first of the Irish cities to adopt the Public Libraries (Ireland) Act of 1855, it waited until December 1892 to open a library service, in what is now the Crawford Municipal Gallery. Cork City Library, which is the city’s central Library, at Grand Parade opened in the 1930s after the Carnegie Free Library (1905) was burnt down during the War of Independence in December of 1920. “This purpose-built building at Grand Parade was completed in 1930 and an extension built in the 1970s,” explained Liam Ronayne, Librarian at Cork City Library. Now, with seven libraries located in the centre and in six suburbs – at Grand Parade, Bishopstown, Blackpool, Douglas, Hollyhill, Mayfield, Tory Top – along with a housebound library service, the creation of the network of local libraries is perhaps the most important development in the history of the service. For many decades, people from all over the city, including children, had to come to the Grand Parade for their reading material. Long queues were a feature of those years and from the time of the opening of the network of libraries, the total number of issues of books from the suburban libraries has consistently exceeded that of the Central Library, illustrating how important the network of local libraries is to the people of Cork. As far as advancements in technology such as Internet and Wifi is concerned, Cork City Libraries are embracing them to the maximum. The library has a presence in the world of social media such as Facebook, Instagram etc. “We make use of the possibilities of technology such as SMS messaging to contact people,” said Liam, which he said

is the most costefficient way. Rather than putting a letter in the post, with an ordinary stamp costing 72 cent, the library can send a text message directly to a member, costing on average 0.06 cent, to let them know a certain book they have ordered in is now available. “Posting a letter to them could take Cork City Librarian Liam Ronayne two days to arrive but by using SMS messaging it’s instant. The person could be in town when they receive the message and can just drop into us then within a matter of minutes.” He said the library is able to communicate with a third of its regular users by SMS, another 20 per cent my email – reaching more than half of their regular users with modern technology. “For years the library offered book-lending, a traditional reference library, and had a newspaper reading room,” said Liam. “That was the way it was from the 1890s up until comparatively recently. Now it’s far more important to be a destination in its own right for people to come and spend time here. There are more and more people living in the city centre now who don’t have a lot of space at home in their apartments so it’s important they have a place to some and spend time reading and relaxing and learning.”

“Now it’s far more important to be a destination in its own right for people to come and spend time here. There are more and more people living in the city centre now who don’t have a lot of space at home in their apartments so it’s important they have a place to some and spend time reading and relaxing and learning.” the Public Sector Magazine

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Students at Second level and Third level education also avail of the library services especially students attending Third Level institutes located in the city centre which do not have adequate study space, for example St John’s Central College, and the CIT School of Music. “On Wednesday afternoons space is at a premium even in September with the schools only just back, because some of the serious students want to get ahead with their studies,” he said. A recent report by the library shows visits are up ten per cent on last year, membership at the end of August compared to the end of August 2015 is up 14.4 per cent and the visits to its website is up 8.14 per cent. “We are an extremely busy library and the big change in the last number of years is that the diversity of events we hold has grown,” he said, explaining the library holds a number of events in partnership with University of Cork, Cork Institute of Technology and the Education & Training Board such as lectures and language classes, computer classes, Internet and social media classes. “We are here to support formal and informal education. Our support for formal education is providing study space, expert staff, and also the resources whether it is in printed form or access to information and knowledge in digital form which they can access either using their own devices and Wifi and using our PCs to look up stuff. While the informal side of learning includes, for instance, classes that don’t lead to an exam or certificate, but where people do it out of interest in the subject, spending their time to good effect. And for example, if people are planning a trip to Rome or Venice, they would come to a series to talks on these cities. So when they go off on their holidays they have a better knowledge about the places they are visiting. It is all learning of one kind or another” Some of the key challenges facing the library include keeping up-to-date with advances in technology. Another huge challenge, according to Mr Ronayne, is the non-replacement of staff the library has lost. “Like all parts of the public sector, we have suffered with the non-replacement of staff and constraints on our overall budget. If we had a full complement of staff we would have 85 full and part-time workers meaning every post would be filled. But we

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are down over 20 per cent of what we had in 2008. “This,” he said, “means unscheduled closing from time to time as we may not have enough people to staff the library.” The future plans for the library include proposals for a modern, environmentally sustainable building, which will cost a minimum of €25M. “The building we are in needs to be replaced,” said Mr Ronayne. “It’s only about half the size we need to meet the existing and anticipated needs for space. There’s a growing city centre population who require the use of a public library. We do have plans in with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government for a new building on this site. But we are talking about a minimum of €25M to build so that’s a big ask. But we want it to be as modern as possible, to be flexible as needs change, and it has to be a sustainable building from an environmental point of view to make the most use of options for efficient use of energy.” “Learning is at the heart of what we do. It always has been, but it is the nature of the learning programmes that we offer that continues to evolve and adapt. Right from the beginning of the service we have been about learning and recreational reading – two sides of one coin - so while it takes a new shape, it will always be a place to learn,” he said.

“A recent report by the library shows visits are up ten per cent on last year, membership at the end of August compared to the end of August 2015 is up 14.4 per cent and the visits to its website is up 8.14 per cent.”


Cork City Libraries are at the heart of Cork, the Learning City • developing Collections to meet the needs of children & young people • developing Collections to meet the needs of adults for learning, research, and information of all kinds • supporting family reading and literacy and helping to create a foundation for educational success • providing suitable spaces for children’s learning, and for learning, research and study by adults • supporting enterprise, employment, and career development • enhancing digital literacy & learning in libraries

A CORK CITY LIBRARIES PROGRAMME


Public Sector Magazine

High Standards IPA Director General, Dr Marian O’Sullivan talks to Aideen Sutton about the key role which the IPA has played in enhancing and developing the standard of public services and administration in Ireland.

As Ireland’s only agency focused exclusively on public sector development, the Institute of Public Administration (IPA) takes the lead on education, training, development and research for Irish Public Service and administration. The IPA delivers its service through: education and training, building people’s capability to meet challenges; direct consultancy, solving problems and helping plan and shape the future; research and publishing - understanding what needs to be done and making these findings readily available. Tailoring its services to the particular needs of the public service, the IPA’s blend of skills and experience means that it can develop and offer a customised service which meets public service needs precisely and effectively. Whilst the IPA’s services are delivered mainly to clients in the Irish Public Service and wider state sector, it also has a strong reputation and demand for its services internationally. Coming up to its 60th anniversary next year, the IPA was established in 1957 by a group of senior public servants and academics to improve the standard of public service and public administration in Ireland. The IPA was first located in the original home of UCD in Newman House on Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green, relocating in 1961 to its current campus on

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Lansdowne Road. The IPA provides undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and extensive training and consultancy to organisations across the Public Service; and works very closely with the Government, the Civil Service, Local Authorities and public sector, public interest agencies, commercial and non-commercial state bodies and the not for profit sector, explains IPA

Dr Marian O’Sullivan, IPA.


Public Sector Magazine

Director General, Dr Marian O’Sullivan. In 2004 the IPA established its Whitaker School of Government and Management which brings together its education and research activities and offers almost 70 accredited programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, as well as research and publishing services. Qualifications are offered in a wide range of fields, including public management, HRM, policy analysis, statistics, law, procurement, governance, leadership and strategy, finance, project management, criminal justice, healthcare management, and business studies. All of these programmes are part time and can be taken from anywhere in the country and this flexible delivery method allow students to choose a study method that best suits their particular circumstances. Programmes range from Certificate-level right up to Doctorate level. Whitaker School programmes are positioned between levels six and ten on the NFQ and are accredited by UCD. Among the new programmes this year is a Professional Diploma in Human Rights and Equality, which is being delivered in conjunction with the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission. “Our students are mature learners and our programmes are designed for those who have to attend to work and domestic commitments,” says Dr O’Sullivan. “Our learners study at evenings and weekends and our ladder system allows them the opportunity to opt out for a year or two before progressing, e.g. they might do a level 6 course and take a year out before continuing with a level 7 programme. We use a blended approach to learning that suits the person, i.e.

distance learning or attending class. “We have tailor-made programmes for individual organisations in the areas of Audit and Governance, Financial Management and Taxation and Mediation and Project Management. We have a very strong link with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).” IT and Cyber Security training is a new area for the IPA which this year introduced new courses including Ethical Hacking; the Fundamentals of ICT-Security and the Principles of Data Protection. The Governance team at the IPA provides an extensive series of events and advice to individual organisations which are focussed on the requirements of effective board members. The annual programme combines topical themes (e.g., in March an additional conference on corporate governance in the health services was added) and core issues, e.g., risk management, board evaluation, audit committees, communications and strategy development. Working with and supporting client organisation with a variety of assignments including reviews of Board responsibilities and board development, governance reviews, risk management implementation, audit and assurance arrangements, and Board effectiveness, the IPA is uniquely placed as a hub for peers to come together for structured discussions of key governance topics around delivering in the public interest. The Governance Forum has grown strongly and has now over 50 member organisations including State agencies, non profit organisations and Government Departments. The Institute also

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“We recognise that different people have different needs, e.g. we provide coaching, mentoring and supports for senior management. We run a Leadership Challenge programme in executive development and leadership for senior staff in the Civil and Public Service.” manages the Forum for Chairpersons of State Bodies. “The Institute carries out a lot of research and produces quite a number of policy papers used by government,” says Dr O’Sullivan. “For example, we have recently published papers on reshaping local government and a case study on the merger of Tipperary County Council. “The sixth annual series of reports on Public Sector Trends has also been published by the IPA, which is widely used to inform debate on the role of the Public Service in Irish society and how Ireland compares to other countries.” This year the Institute rebranded its Yearbook which is widely regarded as Ireland’s most comprehensive database. Ireland – A Directory 2016 contains details on approximately 9,000 organisations, covering both the private sector and the public sector. Ireland - A Directory is a comprehensive point of reference for anyone involved in business, public sector or the media, who need to know and keep abreast of what is happening in our economic and political system and who to contact. Located just three minutes from Lansdowne Road Dart station, the Institute of Public Administration is close to the city centre and all the Government departments and offers easy access for people coming to Dublin to avail of the Institutes services in the Institute. “All of our training programmes are tailored to meet the needs of the individual client with bespoke programmes from two-day courses to accredited programmes,” says Dr O’Sullivan. “We recognise that different people have different needs, e.g. we provide coaching, mentoring and supports for senior management. We run a Leadership Challenge programme in executive development and leadership for senior staff in the Civil and Public Service. “This is a challenging programme for senior staff and is supported by experts from Harvard and UK and it is run from Ireland and Warwick. “Our international focus sees the Institute hosting study visits from other countries where we line up keynote speakers and arrange meetings for them with people from a range of civil service departments,” continues Dr O’Sullivan. “Last December we hosted a visit from senior civil servants from Serbia who were looking at how Ireland runs its public service administration and what lessons we have learned.” The broad remit of the IPA is one of the Institute’s exciting aspects which Dr O’Sullivan found when she commenced the role of Director General in October 2015. The effectiveness

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of the Institute is facilitated by high quality staff who have worked internationally across a wide range of public sector organisations in and bring a wealth of expertise to support the performance of the public sector. With the role of the Institute’s board critical to the organisation, Dr O’Sullivan is delighted to have a “very strong Board” comprising “very senior people”, including its Chairperson, Niamh O’Donoghue who is Secretary General of the Department of Social Protection; Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland; Martin O’Halloran, CEO of the Health and Safety Authority and Dublin City Chief Executive Owen Keegan. “With an incredible range of alumni who have worked across the public and state sector for the last 60 years, the IPA is practice-led in what it delivers,” says Dr O’Sullivan. “We are very, very closely linked with the civil service and public and wider state sector; a lot of people we use for service delivery are practitioners within the sector. “As we look to the future and with the increasing demands for our programmes and services, we will continue to enhance and enrich our service offerings and levels of knowledge and expertise. We will continue to innovate and to work proactively with clients to meeting their professional development, education, training and consultancy needs. The IPA is uniquely placed and focussed on the significant changes and challenges in the public sector. We have a strong ethos of commitment to the public sector.”


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Public Sector Magazine

The Southern Regional Assembly (SRA) Established on 1st January last year, the Southern Regional Assembly is one of three Assemblies created in Ireland following the dissolution of the Border, Midland and Western and Southern & Eastern Regional Assemblies. The Government’s regional reform process was put into effect by the Local Government Reform Act 2014 and resulted in the previous eight regional authorities and two regional assemblies being consolidated to form the Southern, the Northern and Western and the Eastern and Midland regions. The three new Assemblies have taken over responsibility for the functions previously discharged by the regional authorities and assemblies and they have also been granted significantly enhanced powers in certain areas, particularly in relation to economic development and spatial planning. Most importantly they have been charged with preparing new Regional Spatial and Economic strategies for their respective regions and will be centrally involved in the formulation of policies geared towards achieving a greater dispersal of economic growth and development throughout the regions. While acknowledging the scale and complexities of the task, Stephen Blair, Director of the Southern Regional Assembly is enthusiastic about the challenges ahead. One of the key issues frequently raised in any debate on achieving sustainable and balanced regional development is how to compete against the economic might of the capital city. In terms of scale and critical mass Dublin far surpasses any other city in the country and Stephen argues that new thinking is required in order for other cities and regions to provide a sufficient counterweight to the capital. “The growth of the Greater Dublin Area is all consuming and in each successive census, the share of the national population accounted for by the Greater Dublin Area just gets bigger and bigger,” he says. “Even though the population in most other parts

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of the country is not in decline, relative to the growth of Dublin, they are getting smaller and smaller. Either you accept the business as usual model or you want to do something about it. The whole idea of developing regional potential is that all parts of the country need to do more to contribute to the national recovery.” The crux of the issue, according to Stephen, is how best to exploit the inherent potential across all parts of the country and because of the lack of scale and critical mass in towns and regions outside Dublin, he believes a new approach is required. This argument does not centre on constraining Dublin but rather proposes a concerted approach to support growth in the other cities. “In relation to the Southern region we have to start thinking about whether the three cities of Cork, Limerick and Waterford could collaborate more effectively by improving accessibility between them. Could they start working as a common labour market area, for example? If a motorway was built between Cork and Limerick, the travel time could be down to under an hour”. “The provincial cities are not as big as they need to be and they need to grow and develop. It is a peculiar Irish phenomenon that most of the growth that has occurred in the last two decades has been in the areas surrounding the cities, but not in the cities themselves. That creates all sorts of issues in terms of the provision of public infrastructure.” Stephen believes the newly constituted assemblies are well equipped to deliver an effective strategy which will deliver for the region’s 1.6m citizens. The new powers vested in the assemblies allied to the considerable skills base and depth of experience accumulated from work carried out in the regional authorities and assemblies prior to the rationalisation will be critical.


Public Sector Magazine

“Before the three new assemblies were established last year the regional authorities were primarily responsible for regional planning at the planning authority level, while the assemblies, which were superimposed in 1999 when the country was divided in two for structural funds purposes, were charged with managing European funding,” Stephen explains. “There was very little interaction between the two and the Government decided that because the two functions are largely complementary they could be merged. So, we have effectively combined regional planning with regional development, funded from European Regional Development Funds (ERDF).” The cost savings achieved as a result of the rationalisation were relatively modest and the most significant outcome has been the amalgamation and enhancement of powers. “That is important,” says Stephen. “The planning function has been developed from being responsible for purely regulatory, background planning guidelines, to now being charged with developing economic and spatial strategies. It is now much more about the promotion side, investment strategies and overall economic performance in the regions rather than just devising regional planning guidelines.” One key outcome will be the replacement of the National Spatial Strategy by the National Planning Framework which is due to be published in 2017.According to Stephen there is now a hierarchy of plans in place with strategies being devised at regional level and Local Economic and Community Plans (LECPs) and county and city development plans at the local level. “Each level has to be mutually consistent,” he says. “The National Planning Framework will provide the framework for the regional strategies while the regional strategies will provide the overarching framework for the Local Authorities in their local planning”. “For instance, a whole set of demographic and econometric modelling is being undertaken at regional level which will predict where the jobs will be generated, where industry will be located and other key metrics such as the volume of land needed to cater for demand, where future populations will live, their commuting patterns and habits, and so on. “So, we have two key strands to our work. The first is preparing these Regional Spatial and Economic Strategies and

doing so in a way which ensures these strategies are really meaningful and effective. They are there to be implemented rather than just having a set of nice fancy plans. This is the first time that this has been attempted and it is a big challenge over the next 12 months.” “The second challenge is to effectively manage the cofinanced European Regional Development Fund programmes in the region and ensure that the allocation provided to Ireland from Brussels is fully utilised for the benefit of the region.” There are a number of other critical issues in which the Southern Regional Assembly is taking a lead role. It has prioritised the development of the knowledge economy and

S&E REGIONAL PROGRAMME 2014-2020 The Regional Programme 2014-2020 focuses on five main areas: n Strengthening Research, Technology Development and Innovation n Information and Communications Technology Infrastructure n SME Competitiveness n Support the shift towards a low-carbon economy n Sustainable Urban Development.

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is investing significantly in R&D and Innovation through the ERDF funded Regional Programme. According to Stephen they are now at the stage where they are investing much more in people than buildings, developing a set of world-leading, large-scale research centres that will provide major economic impact for Ireland and it’s regions. Another key objective is the utilisation of ERDF funds to help towards ramping up broadband provision through the regions. This will be a critical factor in helping to encourage entrepreneurship and business start-up through the regions and Stephen describes the scale of the challenge as being equivalent to rural electrification in the 1920’s and 30’s. In addition the assembly is focussed on promoting energy efficiency and residential retrofits and it is also targeting funds towards the regeneration and revitalisation of regional towns and cities. Major improvement has been carried out in town centres and the Assembly is working closely with local authorities and relevant state agencies in determining the best use for available funds. The revitalisation and provision of a sustainable economic model for the region’s smaller towns is a significant challenge, according to Stephen. “It is a very acute problem in rural Ireland and there is an absolute requirement that the forthcoming planning framework and strategies address this issue at national, regional and local level,” he says. “What is really needed is policies and strategies for all parts of the regions. We can’t just say that cities are the drivers of the economy and ignore any role that smaller towns might have to play. We have to identify their role and consider how to make them more viable? How do we get people to want to live in towns rather than out in the open countryside? There are a lot of potential positive trends if you think about what is it that the more rural parts of Ireland have to offer? They can contribute more meaningfully in the drive towards renewable energy. There is considerable potential in areas such as wind generation, biomass, eco-tourism and alternative forms of food tourism and food production. There are a lot of things we are underexploiting in the more rural parts of Ireland that have significant growth potential. Another potential upside arises from the capacity of technology to facilitate people to move away from the cities. For many people, rural based towns and villages offer a superior quality of life .Stephen is encouraged by the fact that a third of people working in large IT firms now work

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remotely. “That is something we can capitalise on to a greater extent. There is a wonderful lifestyle in areas such as Cork, Limerick and Kerry and there is significant potential to expand that as high speed broadband is made available across the country.” The Assembly receives funding from the Irish Exchequer and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to carry out its functions as the Managing Authority for the Regional Programme.

THE ASSEMBLY NORMALLY MEETS ON THE SECOND FRIDAY OF EVERY MONTH AT ITS HEADQUARTERS IN WATERFORD. What they do? n Manage and monitor EU programmes of Assistance n Co-ordinate, promote and support strategic planning and sustainable development of the region n Promote effective local government and public services in the region, in conjunction with the National Oversight and Audit Commission n Prepare and oversee the implementation of Regional Spatial & Economic Strategies (RSES).


The Assembly is the Managing Authority for the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) co-financed Regional Programme 2014 – 2020. We are a programme partner for the Ireland Wales Programme 2014 – 2020 and have active roles in a range of European Territorial Co-operation Programmes. The Assembly is responsible for:

For details on projects co-funded under the programmes please visit our website:

w ww. s outhernass embly. ie

Check our website to follow us on

and

Contact details: T. +353 51 860700

E . i n fo @southe rnas s e m bly.ie


Public Sector Magazine

St Patricks Day Parade 2016. Photographer Cormac Mac Mahon Galway 2020 108

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Public Sector Magazine

All Eyes on Galway ‘Making Waves’ for Galway as the European Capital of Culture 2020 Galway has officially been designated the European Capital of Culture 2020 after a joint bid by Galway City Council and Galway County Council finished was selected despite very strong competition from other cities. The city’s theme is ‘Making Waves – Landscape, Language and Migration,’ and will give Galway the opportunity to showcase the best cultural programme and cultural richness the city and county has to offer in Ireland and across Europe. The award, which was announced in July, will bring the city an unprecedented focus at local, national and international level, allowing Galway and Ireland as a whole, to put its best cultural foot forward and promote the best of Irish creativity. Mark O’Donnell, who is a member of the team overseeing preparations for Galway’s prestigious title, said being awarded the European Capital of Culture 2020 will bring very significant economic benefits as well as showcasing the very best of what Galway has to offer. “The programme activity will start in 2017 and one of the key benefits is increase in visitor numbers and tourism for 2020,” said Mark. “It’s not just a 12 month project. It will build incrementally and the legacy piece will continue into 2021 and beyond. It’s about putting Galway on that international stage for the long term.” For example, previous capitals of culture would typically have about a 30 per cent increase in tourism in the title year,and many have retained 15 to 25 per cent of that increase in subsequent years. “There is a certain visitor profile that would travel to a capital of culture,” said Mark. “One of the elements we looked at was attracting visitors from a lot of European networks which tend to gravitate towards capitals of culture for their annual conferences. That brings in visitors as well in addition to their core programme. “Again, the tourism increase to the region is a key benefit and the hospitality sector has recognised that. There is a huge economic spin-off,” he said. Liverpool had the title in 2008. They had a direct spend of STG£754 million in the region, off the back of this, not to mention their infrastructural legacy “That is the scale and benefit you are looking at from this. When we speak with the Medtech or ICT companies, they see this as huge in terms of attracting and retaining skilled workers into the city. There is a clear value and business benefit to them as well,” he said. On the other side of the spectrum, the organisers have spoken to small, indigenous food producers based in rural parts of the county who are already exporting to some degree into Europe. “They see it as a huge benefit for them in terms of putting Galway on the map internationally – and in terms of boosting their business as well,” he said. “Outside of the obvious sectors of accommodation and

hospitality, across all businesses, people realise this is a significant opportunity.” In selecting Galway as the European Capital of Culture 2020, Chair of the ten-judge panel, Steve Green, from the UK said they had applied six criteria. These included a cultural strategy of the city, the international project, the finance, Mark O’Donnell engagement with all groups, the programme of events and management. He said that in arriving at their decision, the judges had not been influenced by Galway’s track record culturally. “The aim of the programme is entirely future so what the city is now and what it has done in the past is not an influence,” said Mr Green. Mark said the 2020 selection competition started in 2014 for Ireland. “The Commission designates two cities as the European Capital of Culture and it is Ireland’s turn in 2020 along with Croatia,” said Mark. “Within the Irish competition there were four entries initially – Dublin, Limerick, Galway and The Three Sisters of Waterford, Wexford and Kilkenny. At the first phase of the competition there was a shortlist process and Galway, Limerick and The Three Sisters were brought forward to the final round,” he explained. A 100-page bid book, which was the cornerstone of Galway’s application, was submitted and two of the European judging panel paid a visit to each of the three bidding centres. Galway also had to make a final presentation to a full tenmember jury panel comprising of experts in the cultural field with special areas of specialisation from across Europe. “It would be 10 to 15 years before Ireland gets another designation. It’s highly competitive as its a prestigious award bringing a lot of economic benefits as well as cultural benefits,” explained Mark. According to Mark, business communities in Galway have been hugely supportive of the city’s bid for the title. “They provided phenomenal support,” said Mark. “That is one of the big success stories we want recognise and acknowledge.” And he points out that businesses in Galway City voluntarily accepted a three per cent increase in their

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commercial rates on the providable that it would be ring-fenced to support Galway 2020. “We’ve had a lot of support from the larger FDI companies, the Med-Tech, ICT, the hospitality sector right down to the smaller businesses,” he said. He said the Chamber of Commerce and other business groups played a key leadership role, and of course the elected members to promote the message that being the European Capital of Culture 2020 will benefit both Galway city and county. “It is a joint city and county bid,” said Mark. “. A total of 50 per cent of the programme for the European capital of culture will actually take place outside the city in the county towns and villages,” he said. Galway 2020 has also signed regional partnership agreements with ten local authorities – mostly neighbouring councils in and around the Western Seaboard, the Midlands and also Dublin City Council. “We reached out beyond the county as well to have an impact in the region. The scale of the figures we have seen from other capitals of culture is impressive. That is something we

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want to be strategic about. We will work closely with the other counties so they get the benefit as well.” Galway’s operating budget is €45.75million to run the significant project and of that €39 million will come from the EU, State and regional/local public funds and some €6.75 million has to be raised from the private sector. “There is significant private sector investment here,” explained Mark. “When we went into the final presentation in July we had pledged support from business to the value of €1.6 million and that was raised over a five month period. So, given that progress over a short amount of time, we are confident we can meet that target,” he said. One of the big components of Galway’s bid for the prestigious title is the idea of having a Virtual Capital of Culture. “We plan to do a lot with virtual reality and emerging technology which will help to broadcast Galway 2020 across the world,” said Mark. This, in turn, will let people who have never been to Galway engage with the cultural programme in that way and put Galway in a global spotlight.


Congratulations to Galway on becoming the

European Capital of Culture 2020

www.galway2020.ie #IBackGalway


Clare County Council

- driving investment in Clare through the SIFP

Clare County Council, New Road, Ennis, Co. Clare Tel: +353 65 6821616 | Email: info@clarecoco.ie


Public Sector Magazine

Shannon’s Time to Shine The presence of large-scale marine-based facilities, 1,220 hectares of zoned land and the existing sheltered deep water resources presents considerable new investment potential along the Shannon Estuary. Nicola Donnelly reports. A new marketing drive promoting deep water marine investment opportunities along the Shannon Estuary is being undertaken by stakeholders engaged in the development and management of Ireland’s largest and deepest estuary. The Strategic Integrated Framework Plan (SIFP) for the Shannon Estuary, which Clare County Council acted as the Lead Authority for its preparation, aims to facilitate the longterm sustainable development of the Shannon Estuary. It aims to encourage, facilitate and promote a balanced approach to harnessing the Estuary’s growth potential whilst also ensuring careful protection, management and enhancement of the area’s natural resources. This will be achieved through the continued proactive involvement of key stakeholders. “This multi-agency approach is aimed at sustainably accommodating and attracting future development, economic growth and employment within the Shannon Estuary,” said Brian McCarthy, Senior Planner, Planning and Enterprise Development at Clare County Council. The Strategy involved the identification of nine Strategic Development Locations for Marine-Related industry which are zoned within the relevant statutory development plans. In addition, four Areas of Opportunity for Renewable Energy and seven Areas of Opportunity for Aquaculture and Commercial

Fisheries have been identified within the Plan. The Plan also contains a number of strategic aims, together with further sector specific aims such as those relating to Marine Tourism and Leisure and Recreation which will guide future development within the Estuary in a sustainable manner. The Shannon Estuary features 500km2 of navigable water running from Kerry Head and Loop Head as far as Limerick City, a distance of 100km. The Estuary is Ireland’s premier deep water port routinely catering for ships up to 200,000 dead weight tonnage (dwt) with key ports at Moneypoint, Limerick and Foynes and direct connectivity to all major international shipping lanes. It is home to a number of large industries and employers, including ESB Moneypoint, Aughinish Alumina, Tarbert Power Station, Shannon International Airport and NORA Fuel Reserve. “The Shannon Estuary is multi-functional as the waters adjoining the lands support a range of functions, uses, communities, activities and environmental resources/assets. The need for the integrated approach has arisen due to a number of changes occurring nationally and internationally over the past decade or more, together with the importance of the Shannon Estuary, not only nationally but also internationally”, explained Mr McCarthy

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“These include emerging policy changes, the increased size and scale of vessels, the economic importance of the estuary, international shipping trends, environmental constraints amongst others.” A total of 1,220 hectares of land at 9 sites have been zoned in the SIFP for the Shannon Estuary for marine-related industry and from which 6 are now being brought forward as part of the implementation phase of the SIFP. These sites include Moneypoint, Innismurry/Cahericon in Co Clare; Askeaton, Foynes Island and Foynes Port in Co. Limerick and Tarbert/ Ballylongford Landbank in Co Kerry. “The key aim of the SIFP was to positively identify both the nature and location of the development, economic growth and employment that can be sustainably accommodated within the Shannon Estuary whilst also balancing the environmental requirements of the estuary’s designated sites,” he explained. “All sites were subject to a high level of scrutiny under a number of key core headings which included social, technical, planning and environmental.” A number of key factors led to the identification of these sites as being suitable including depth of water or access to deep water, road accessibility, infrastructure, distance from shipping lane and the site potential amongst others. All environmental aspects were also considered and assessed as part of the process of identification thereby providing certainty to investors and all stakeholders. Mr McCarthy said a very positive response has been received from industries in relation to the Strategic Integrated Framework Plan. “All existing industry and stakeholders

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around the Estuary were consulted with and involved in the process of identification and development of the SIFP for the Shannon Estuary,” he said. Clare County Council has continued their role as lead authority in the preparation of the plan to now drive the implementation and marketing of the SIFP in conjunction with two other adjoining authorities of Limerick City and County Council together with Kerry County Council. A number of other key stakeholders are also involved in the implementation including Shannon Commercial Properties, IDA Ireland and Shannon Foynes Port Company. The group have produced a prospective Marketing Brochure and package that details ‘Deep Water Marine Investment Opportunities’ at six of the Strategic Development Locations deemed appropriate for marine-related investment. This marketing material has been translated into a number of languages and is being distributed to potential investors around the world, while a dedicated new website www. shannonestuary.ie has also been launched. “This presence of large-scale marine-based facilities, 1,220 hectares of zoned land and the existing sheltered deep water resources presents considerable new investment potential along the Shannon Estuary,” he said. “By working to proactively pursue new investment opportunities, we are also cognisant of the need to achieve a careful balance between promoting development, and the protection and conservation of this natural resource.” He said the Shannon Estuary Region is an attractive an ideal investment location for companies in the marine-related industry, logistics, manufacturing and ICT sectors due to the global connectivity offered by Shannon Airport, the presence of world-class 3rd Level education facilities, access to talent and the high quality of lifestyle. “The Strategy has demonstrated the capability of the public sector to lead and collaborate with each other and Government agencies, semi-state and private sectors to not only prepare and set out a plan and vision for the Estuary but also to market and promote the Estuary to attract economic development and maximise the opportunities of the deep waters and strategic location of the Shannon Estuary,��� said Mr McCarthy. “It is only with the ongoing collaboration and cooperation of all the stakeholders that we can fully realise the enormous Estuary potential and the marketing and implementation of the SIFP is an important step in this regard,” he said.


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Public Sector Magazine

High Price of Brexit Action needed to manage Brexit risks

“The budget introduced some useful measures in response to Brexit, but did not go nearly far enough. Companies are moving quickly to manage severe competitive pressures, but an urgent, targeted national response is required.” Growing fears that the UK could be facing a hard Brexit and lose access to the Single market has resulted in a plunge in the value of sterling and heaped pressure on Irish exports. Despite the positive summer retail sales and employment growth in the UK, the fact remains that sterling has lost around 12% of its value against the euro since June 23, changing hands at its lowest rate since the dark days of the recession back in 2011. Trade figures for the first half of 2016 show the UK remains our third largest export market. While agri-food and manufactured goods exports to the UK fell marginally in the first six months, the UK still accounted for sales of €7bn in the period while exports of services was an estimated €9bn. However, given the fact that sterling has depreciated by around 12% in the interim, a repeat of these sales in the second half of the year see many businesses trading at a loss. Exporters are facing a dilemma as to whether to pass on price increases to their UK customers to offset the currency loss or to shoulder the losses in the hope that sterling regains strength. The other option is for the larger exporters to shift production to UK facilities. Particularly exposed are the wide range of agri-food companies who ship 52% of all Irish beef exports, 60% of cheese exports, 70% of prepared consumer food exports and 84% of poultry exports, to the UK. Business group Ibec has called on the Government to introduce a comprehensive package of new measures to head off the worst consequences of Brexit and increased global uncertainty. A new report from the group sets out a series of urgent measures to protect Irish businesses against the precipitous decline in sterling and shore up Ireland’s competitive position as a place to live, work and invest. Proposals include a new enterprise stabilisation fund,

additional funding for market diversification measures, an access to finance package, trade finance measures and an expansion of online trading supports. Ibec Director of Policy Fergal O’Brien said: “Brexit and the possibility of a more protectionist US pose very significant risks to Ireland. The budget introduced some useful measures in response to Brexit, but did not go nearly far enough. Companies are moving quickly to manage severe competitive pressures, but an urgent, targeted national response is required. “The exporting industries most affected by the fall of sterling are typically job intensive and deeply embedded in local economies. A review of the historical exchange rate and agri-food export relationship shows that a 1% weakness in sterling results in a 0.7% drop in Irish exports to the UK. This has already begun. Our most recent trade figures for the year to August showed the value of Irish food exports to the UK fell by 8.1% annually. This fall accelerated to 14.5% annually in the two months since the referendum and has hit all categories. “Retailers are increasingly concerned at the prospect of significant cross-border shopping over the coming preChristmas period, with new figures also showing a surge in online shopping in the months following the UK vote. Central Bank statistics show that e-commerce transactions recorded on Irish debit and credit cards jumped by 20% from €1bnto €1.2bn between July and September as sterling dropped. This was way above trend and is likely to have mostly gone to UK retailers. “While sterling strengthened somewhat last week, we expect further volatility ahead as markets react to the political twists and turns of Brexit negotiations. The Irish Government can’t sit on its hands during these negotiations, while sustainable businesses fall prey to the already evident economic realities of Brexit. A comprehensive immediate response package is now needed to save jobs.”

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Connecting the City Full steam ahead for the Luas Cross City line.

St. Stephen’s Green

Broadstone - DIT

Dawson

Grangegorman

Broombridge

Westmoreland

Phibsborough

O’Connell - GPO Trinity

Cabra

O’Connell Upper Dominick

Marlborough

Parnell

In Gaelic football parlance, there’s a feeling abroad right now among the general public who live and work in Dublin city and its immediate environs that the Luas Cross City project has the wind at its back, is in the lead and is playing down the slope as the business end of the game approaches. The €368M capital investment project – which involves the connection of the existing Luas Red Line and Luas Green line and the creation of an interchange at O’Connell Street kicked off in June 2013 and while the bubbly is still on ice the expectation among the main players is that the cork will be popped by November 2017. The end of the (six kilometres) line for one of the biggest transport projects ever seen in this country is in sight so, as Gráinne Gráinne Mackin, Director of Communications for the Luas Cross city project, concedes: “I hope so. We are just over 12 months away from concluding all works but there’ll be no complacency ‘till everything is completed,” the Dundalk native explains. “We need to keep focussed on the job. We have to build the stops and the platforms yet - in addition to finishing the tracks - and that’s happening at the moment. Plus we still have to lay new paving and footpaths along the entire length of the route and put in the overhead cable system, the electrics to power the Luas and the communications and signalling systems, all of which will be installed next year.” From there on, the craic will start with an estimated 10 million additional passenger journeys per year being taken on the extended Luas network. The new route will be a double Luas track, just like the current red and green lines, at the southern end of the line (from O’Connell Street until Broomsbridge Station) but will split into two single tracks to loop around the city centre at College Green. The single track loop will run across Parnell Street, down Marlborough Street, across the new bridge between Eden and Burgh Quays and south along Hawkins Street and into College Street linking back up at College Green. The notion that the completion of the new Luas line will make travelling across Dublin city much easier brooks no

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LUAS CROSS CITY ROUTE MAP St. Stephen’s Green - Broombridge

GLASNEVIN

Tolka Valley Park

Luas Cross City (on street) Royal Canal

Luas Cross City (off street)

Broombridge Station

Broombridge

Luas Green Line

Rose Garden

Luas Red Line

National Botanic Gardens

Stops in both DRUMCONDRA directions Griffith Park Single direction stop

Glasnevin Cemetery

Direction of Luas on one way section

CABRA

Depot Royal Canal

Cabra

Tolka Park

Rail Interchange

Mount Bernard Park

Rail Line

Tolka River

PHIBSBOROUGH Dalymount Park

Blessington Street Basin

Mountjoy Square

Hugh Lane Gallery

Broadstone Bus Garage

Parnell

Garden of Remembrance

Dublin Zoo

Kings Inns

Broadstone - DIT

Rotunda The Hospital Gate

Marlborough Connolly

Dominick

STONEYBATTER

Station

Ilac Shopping Centre

Luas Red Line Phoenix Park

Abbey Theatre

GPO

O’Connell Upper

SMITHFIELD

Royal Canal

Mater Hospital

Grangegorman

McKee Barracks

Croke Park

Luas Cross City

Phibsborough

Custom House

O’Connell - GPO

To Docklands/ The Point 

IFSC

Liffey

Westmoreland Heuston Station

Guinness Brewery

Royal Hospital Kilmainham Guinness Storehouse

KILMAINHAM

Liffey

Civic Offices NCAD

Christ Church Cathedral

Bank of Ireland City Hall

Trinity

Dublin Castle

Dawson

Camac River

THE LIBERTIES Fatima

Saint Patrick's Park

Gaiety Theatre Stephen’s Green Shopping Center

St. Stephen’s Green

Luas Green Line

 To Saggart/Tallaght

Trinity College Dublin College Park

To Brides Glen 

Science Gallery

Leinster House Houses of National the Oireachtas Gallery Natural History Merrion Museum Square

National Museum Saint Stephen's Green

Iveagh Gardens

Fitzwilliam Square

National Concert Hall

DOLPHIN’S BARN

PORTOBELLO

debate. Think the mass availability of microwave as a panacea for slaving at home over the range in times past and you should get the picture. Alternatively, think about how long it takes you to cut the lawn? 21 minutes perhaps? Well that’s the length of time it’ll take to travel – via stops (1) at Trinity and DIT campuses (2) from St. Stephens Green to Cabra if that’s your fancy. Appointed by the funders of the project (National Transport Dartmouth Square

Kevins GAA Club


IMPROVED TRANSPORT NETWORK

TRACK LAYING

www.luascrosscity.ie info@luascrosscity.ie 1800 303 653

2015

2016

2017

Broombridge

Cabra

Phibsborough

Grangegorman

Broadstone, DIT

ENVIRONMENT There will be over 8,000,000 extra trips per annum on the Luas.

LAUNCH

HERITAGE WORKS

2014

Dominick

8 of these are in the core city centre area.

WHY DO WE NEED IT?

UTILITY WORKS

2013

Parnell

Marlborough

LUAS RED LINE

Trinity

It has 13 new stops.

WHEN WILL IT BE FINISHED?

CELLAR WORKS

O’Connell, Upper

LUAS CROSS CITY

LUAS GREEN LINE

It will take 21 mins to travel the 5.9km from Broombridge to St. Stephen’s Green.

It’s the extension of the Luas Green line creating an interchange with the Red Line.

O’Connell, GPO

21 mins

Westmoreland

St. Stephen’s Green

WHAT IS LUAS CROSS CITY?

Dawson

Public Sector Magazine

2018

It will become an interchange between Luas, Bus, Rail and Taxi.

Reducing the number of private car trips by over 1,000,000 per annum.

www.facebook.com/luascrosscity @luascrosscity

Authority) and the company (Transport Infrastructure Ireland) charged with its construction to oversee the strategic planning and implementation of the entire communications and public relations aspect of the project, Gráinne is a lady to the manor born. Arguably the public face of the Luas Cross City project, Gráinne’s experience in dealing with concerns and complaints from commuters, liasing with the business community in the capital and heading off possibly problems was particularly honed during her time with Dublin Bus as head of their communications department. She has also worked as head of communications for both Diageo and Aviva. “The fact that I have experience of working with public transport interests and working in the city centre and engaging with different stakeholders has definitely helped me,” Gráinne explains. “I suppose the understanding I have gleaned of the needs of business people in the city has helped me to see things from a corporate standpoint and the perspective of their customers and other stakeholders.” The NTA and the TII were fortunate in that they were able to hit the ground running when breaking the soil in the city for the first time in June 2013 for objections were few and far between. Due diligence was done and the project got the thumbs up from Bord Pleanala’s without any major hiccups with its oral hearing ironing out anything that was needed before the commencement of works begun on 13 new Luas stops (eight of them in the city centre) which pock mark the new line’s route from O’Connell Street to Parnell Street, through Dominick Street, passing by the DIT Broadstone campus and the new Grangegorman campus, into Phibsborough and on to Cabra

before finishing at Iarnród Éireann’s Broombridge Station. It’s been quite a journey for Gráinne and co since June 2013 when the first phase of the project got underway with workers filling in Dublin’s underground Georgian cellars and thereafter securing and supporting them. The next phase saw a number of famous statues such as O’Connell Street’s Thomas Moore statue and Fr Mathew statue and other sculptures plus heritage paving, railings, cast iron bollards, cast iron lamp stands, all being removed and put in storage in a massive warehouse in north county Dublin where conservation work will be done on them before they are reinstated in their former homes in all their glory. Arguably the most major phase of work – which begun in February 2014 - involved sorting out the utilities below Ireland’s biggest medieval city. Before laying the tracks TII and its subcontractors needed to investigate where all the drains, sewerage pipes, gas pipes, electricity cables and fibre optic cables were situated underground and temporarily relocate them so that the tracks could be laid. More due diligence. “We have ensured that there are adequate man holes and entrances if the utilities need to be accessed in the future,” explains Gráinne reassuringly. “That part of the project involved a huge amount of work and, perhaps, at times it may have led people in the city to think that progress was being made pretty slowly. “That phase of the work went on for approximately 18 months before we embarked on laying the actual tracks in early August 2015, which was a real milestone because people could actually see the tracks around the city.”

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Public Sector Magazine

2013

2014

TIME LINE

2015

2016

2017 LAUNCH OF PASSENGER SERVICES

Currently anticipated time frames for works contract packages subject to timely approvals

HERITAGE WORKS

HERITAGE WORKS

CELLARS INFILL UTILITY DIVERSIONS MAIN

INFRASTRUCTURE ELECTRICAL AND MECHANICAL SYSTEMS TESTING AND COMMISSIONING

The old Benjamin Franklin adage of ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ has been stitched into everything the NTA and TII have conspired to construct over the past four years. Everything was dotted and crossed before the first ‘sod’ was turned in the city. From the get-go, Gráinne and a liaison officer were active on social media while also fronting a public information office on Dawson Street to field enquiries from the general public, commuters, business people etc. about the planned works. Monday to Friday, nine to five ask questions they want see all our material meet with any engineer and we there in situ which is very important and a key element of our job of keeping people informed. There were, and continue to be, regular meetings with the various major stakeholders. “There’s a number of organisations we have worked very

closely with on a monthly basis to plan ahead, listen to concerns and gain consent,” Gráinne confirms. “First of all, from a public state agency perspective you have the NTA, then the TII, the Department of Transport, Dublin City Council, the Gardaí, Dublin Town (a business organisation which represents 3000 businesses across Dublin city area), Dublin Chamber of Commerce, IBEC and Retail Excellence to name just a few.” Thus heading off problems has been key to the Luas Cross City project being on schedule as winter closes in. By December 2017, there may be some landscaping to be done and smaller footpath works still giving us all a wee reminder of what has passed. At that juncture, there’s little doubt that such cosmetic work will have the words icing and cake ricocheting from the overhead electricity cables.

The complete Balance of Plant Contractor for Civil and Electrical > Design > Foundations > Access roads > Access Bridges > Drainage > Crane Platform > Cable Infrastructure

Power Solutions > HV Design and Build > Wind Farm Electrical Balance of Plant > HV Substations/Grid Connections > Testing and Commissioning

www.nrsgroup.eu

NRS 1/2.indd 1

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Call +353 (0) 94 9860297 Fax: +353 (0) 94 9861155 Email: info@nrsgroup.ie

the Public Sector Magazine

14/11/2016 19:53


Luas Cross City

Bringing the city together What Is Luas Cross City? » It is a 5.9km add-on to the Luas Green Line that will create an interchange with the Luas Red Line on O’Connell Street. » It runs from St. Stephens Green to Broombridge. » The journey will take 21 minutes. » There will be 13 new stops. 8 of these will be in the city centre. » The new line will be completed by the end of 2017.

For all information on the Luas Cross City project please visit www.luascrosscity.ie

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Public Sector Magazine

Road Works Calls to treble road investment as M50 traffic problems now at ‘breaking point’ “This under-investment means our transport system is considerably behind where it needs to be for a fast-growing city.” Mr McQueen said businesses have already been considering ways they can overcome the traffic problems, including changing starting times for their staff. Elsewhere, the National Transport Authority also said that an “ambitious programme of investment” was needed to tackle the gridlock. Neil McDonald of the Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association said that the congestion was “a symptom of not having an integrated traffic and freight management plan for the greater Dublin area”. Among measures to help address the problem is the Eastern Bypass and/or a Western Outer Orbital route, Mr McDonald said. The Irish Road Haulage Association has also called for the shelved Leinster Orbital route to be re-examined.

Gridlock on the M50

Business representative groups have urged the Government to accelerate plans to upgrade Dublin’s road network in move to address the problems caused by a gridlocked M50. The calls came as Transport Infrastructure Ireland said that the country’s busiest road network was “at breaking point”. There are some 159,000 journeys taken on the M50 every day which is nearly twice the number taken in 2008 when about 89,000 vehicles per day travelled over the West-Link Bridge on the M50. The current high volumes of traffic on the M50 contributes to gridlock which causes hours of delays when there are any incidents on the motorway and it has an impact in stalling traffic right across the capital. The Dublin Chamber of Commerce has added its voice to those calling on the Government to treble its investment in transport infrastructure in order to avoid a “crisis”. This investment is required in order to ensure Dublin remains on a par with similar cities competing for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), the chamber’s director of public affairs manager Graeme McQueen said. “When an FDI company is considering where to locate, one of the biggest considerations is quality of life for staff. People don’t want to work and live in a city where they are forced to spend hours commuting every day. This is particularly important given the opportunities being thrown up by Brexit,” he said. “Without proper action there is a real danger that we are about to sleep-walk into a prolonged infrastructure crisis. “The growing congestion problems today are the result of significant under-investment in transport infrastructure over the past decade.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross.

TRANSPORT SPEND Budget 2017 provided an overall allocation of €1.8bn next year for the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, representing a €72M or over 4% increase on 2016. Among the highlights are: n Public transport subvention increase of €31M next year. n The Regional and Local Roads programme increases by 10% to €275M in capital funding next year. n €344M for Public Transport Investment to ensure completion of Luas Cross City – the most significant transport project in recent times. n Funding for the purchase of 110 buses for the Dublin region fleet in 2017 and over 70 buses for the Bus Éireann fleet. n Capital expenditure on the regular maintenance of local and regional roads will increase from €250M to €275M in 2017 over 2016 – some 10% (excluding the emergency funding provided for storm and flood damage in 2016). n Funding of Smarter Travel Policy measures will be continued in 2017 with a particular focus on cycling and walking infrastructure, including Greenways, and soft measures to support sustainable transport and travel such as mobility.

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Public Sector Magazine Public Sector Magazine

One-Stop Traffic Shop One-Stop Traffic Shop

Total Highway Maintenance – the One Stop Shop solution for Traffic Management

Total Highway Maintenance – the One-Stop-Shop solution for Traffic Management

Total Highway Maintenance (THM), a company set up in 2008, offers a cost-effective One-Stop-Shop forset allup areas of the Total Highway Maintenance (THM), a solution company in 2008, public sector. offers a cost-effective One-Stop-Shop solution for all areas of the publicStarting sector. off with less than a dozen workers, the company has now grown its workforce to excess of 75 workers and in the Starting off with less than a dozen workers, the company past two years it has broadened its business overseas to The has now grown its workforce to excess of 75 workers and in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. past two years it has broadened its business overseas to The THM was set up by Damien Lennon after he saw Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. an opening for a well organised, well resourced Traffic THM was set up by Damien Lennon after he saw Management company in Ireland. an opening for a well organised, well resourced Traffic “As the road networks started to get busier, there wasn’t Management company in Ireland. much in terms of road traffic management training in Ireland, the road started to getfamiliar busier, there wasn’t so“As Damien wentnetworks to England to become with the UK much in terms of road traffic management training in approach to Traffic Management and up skill himself Ireland, through so the Damien to England to become with the to UK Lantrawent training system that was in familiar place, and return approach to Traffic Management anda professional up skill himself Ireland with the capability to offer and through safety thedriven Lantraservice training system that sector was ininplace, and said return to to the growing Ireland,” David Ireland the capability to offer a professional and safety Lewis,with Operations at THM. drivenThe service to thehas growing sector in Ireland,” said David company three main Divisions – Civil Engineering Lewis, Operations atManagement THM. & Building, Traffic and Public Lighting which The company has Lighting three main Divisions – Civil Engineering operates as Killaree Services (KLS). “The main driver of our business is thatLighting we can offer a single & Building, Traffic Management and Public which source as solution, forLighting every County Council operates Killaree Services (KLS).and City Council

Public Sector Magazine 2 124 thethe Public Sector Magazine

nationwide. We have the capabilities through our three divisions to progress a project from startbusiness to finish,isincluding all Traffic “The main driver of our that we can offer a Management, Civil works, Building/Public Lighting. This is a single source solution, for every County Council and City huge benefit to the Client as every element in the Project from Council nationwide. We have the capabilities through our three start to finish is managed by ourselves so this eliminates the divisions to progress a project from start to finish, including all need for multiple contractors to complete a project, thus saving Traffic Management, Civil works, Building/Public Lighting. Local Government time, resources and inevitably money,” said This is a huge benefit to the Client as every element in the David. Project from start to finish is managed by ourselves so this “By providing a Single Source Solution this allows eliminates the need for multiple contractors to complete a synergy across all the divisions which benefits our clients. project, thus saving Local Government time, resources and Health and safety is our Number One priority and I feel the inevitably money,” said David. client sees this as we carry the same H&S ethos across all “By providing a Single SourcesoSolution this synergy divisions regardless of speciality everyone is allows following the across all the divisions which benefits our clients. Health and same safe methods which can be tracked from project start to safety is our Number One priority and I feel the client sees this completion,” he explained. as we the means same H&S all divisions regardless Hecarry said this thereethos is no across time wasted on handovers of speciality following the same safe methods from one partso ofeveryone the projectisto another, saving both time and which can be clients. tracked from project start to completion,” he money for its explained. “We can offer a hugely competitive package as THM can He any saidproject this means is nodivisions, time wasted service with there our three own on all handovers our own from one of the project to another,base saving both plant and part equipment, and a knowledge from ourtime teamand of experienced operatives and Supervisors that is constantly money for its clients. upskilling though he said. “We can offer constant a hugelytraining,” competitive package as THM


Public Sector Magazine Public Sector Magazine Public Sector Magazine Historically, the company has been known as a Traffic Management company, but the last few years of growth has can service any any project withwith our three can service project our three allowed THM to evenly spread the divisions, own all our own plant and and divisions, own all our own plant Company between the three divisions. equipment, and a knowledge base fromfrom equipment, and a knowledge base “Traffic Management has always been our our teamteam of experienced operatives and and of experienced operatives an integral part of the business, but THM has Supervisors that is constantly upskilling Supervisors that is constantly upskilling now developed into other areas,” he said. though constant training,” he said. though constant training,” he said. Since the company’s inception, Historically, the company has been Historically, the company has been just at the end of the Boom and the known as a as Traffic Management company, known a Traffic Management company, start of the Economic Downturn, THM but the years of growth has has but last the few last few years of growth has consistently, year on year, seen allowed THM to evenly spread the the allowed THM to evenly spread significant growth across all of its Company between the three divisions. Company between the three divisions. divisions “Traffic Management has always beenbeen “Traffic Management has always “At this moment in time we are an integral part of the business, but THM has has an integral part of the business, but THM probably at our busiest we have been so nownow developed into other areas,” he said. developed into other areas,” he said. far. Things are definitely picking up. We Since the company’s inception, just just Since the company’s inception, have been hugely busy across the board at the end of the Boom and the start at the end of the Boom and the start with private and commercial clients and of the Downturn, THMTHM has has of Economic the Economic Downturn, local governments, winning more and consistently, year on year, seen significant consistently, year year,continuing seen significant more contracts andonhave growth across all ofallitsofdivisions growth across its divisions works,” he said. “At “At this moment in time we are moment in time we are One this of the key challenges a company probably at our busiest we have beenbeen so probably at our busiest we have like THM faces is trying to provide so far. Things are definitely picking up. We far. Things are definitely picking up.back, We services to keep their clients coming havehave beenbeen hugely busybusy across the board hugely across the board Thankfully we maintain the clients we withwith private and and commercial clients and and clients have private and we growcommercial our services to them. locallocal governments, winning more and winning more and THMgovernments, have always rose to challenges and moremore contracts and and havehave continuing contracts continuing we never shy away from a clients request. works,” he said. works,” he said.we had our operatives out Last Christmas OneOne of the key a company the challenges key challenges a company over the of Christmas holidays working with like like THM facesfaces is trying to provide THM is trying to provide victims of the floods in county Kilkenny. services to keep theirtheir clients coming back,back, services to keep clients coming It was a glowing endorsement for THM Thankfully we maintain the clients we Thankfully we maintain theequipment clients we to to have the manpower and havehave and and we grow our services to them. we grow our services to them.just deal with such an event, all our people THM have always rose to challenges and THM to challenges and got onhave with always the taskrose at hand, no questions we never shy away from a clients request. we never shy away from clients request. asked, they just rolled up atheir sleeves and Last Christmas we had our operatives out Laststuck Christmas got in.” we had our operatives out over the Christmas holidays working with over“We the are Christmas holidays working constantly upskilling our with victims of the floods in county Kilkenny. victims of the floods in county workforce, trying to keep aheadKilkenny. of the It was a glowing endorsement for THM It wasinaregards glowingtoendorsement for offering. THM pack the services are to have the manpower and equipment to to have thewe manpower to One thing can’t do isand stayequipment complacent. deal with such an event, all our people dealare with such an trying event, to allimprove our people We constantly what just got on with the task at hand, no justdo gotfor onour with the task at no we customers, tohand, help save questions asked, they just rolled up their questions they just up their them time asked, and money too,”rolled said David. sleeves and got stuck in.” sleeves got stuck in.” The and company’s goal is to keep “We are constantly upskilling our “We are upskilling our growing andconstantly growing each year and workforce, trying to keep ahead of the workforce, to keep ahead the maintain thetrying customers they haveofwhile pack in regards to the services are offering. pack in regards to the services aredo offering. increasing the level of what THM for One thing we can’t do is stay complacent. We are constantly With more funding now being made available by the One thing we can’t is stay complacent. We time. are constantly WithAuthorities more funding nowmore beingmaintenance made available byinthe their customers anddo attract new clients all the for Local to start work their trying to improve what we do for our customers, to help save Government for road infrastructures, the deterioration the roads trying to improve we do for our customers, to help save Government for road infrastructures, the deterioration the roads “Our companywhat in Saudi Arabia is working on projects there respective areas. them time and money too,” said David. have faced over the years should improve as finance is freed up them time and money too,” said have faced over roads the years should as finance freed up similar to what we are doing hereDavid. and it is also growing “ said “The biggest system thatimprove was neglected overisthe The company’s goal is to keep growing and growing each for Local Authorities to start more maintenance work in their The“We company’s goal to keep growing growing each for Local to start but more maintenance work in their David. hope that its is growth will have a and knock-on effect for years is theAuthorities Western Corridor work has now re-started on year and maintain the customers they have while increasing respective areas. yearcompany and maintain the customers they havethere, whilethere increasing respective the here as the more it improves will be the roadwayareas. from Tuam to Galway, which will help link all the the level of what THM do for their customers and attract new “The biggest roads system that was neglected over the the level of what THM forcompany their customers and attract new “The biggest roads system that was neglected over the more funds available fordothe here to further improve major arteries together. clients all the time. years is the Western Corridor but work has now re-started on clients all the time. years is the Western Corridor work hasnetwork, now re-started on and develop.” “There’s always going to bebut gaps in the for “Our company in Saudi Arabia is working on projects there the roadway from Tuam to Galway, which will help link all the “Ourmore company in Saudi is working on by projects the roadway from to Tuam to Galway, which linkput all the With funding now Arabia being made available the there example, Limerick Waterford but in time will theyhelp will be similar to what we are doing here and it is also growing “ said major arteries together. similar to what areinfrastructures, doing here andthe it is also growing “ said major arteries together. Government forwe road deterioration the roads on stream, whether its through the Government themselves or David. “We hope that its growth will have a knock-on effect for “There’s always going to be gaps in the network, for David. “Weover hopethe that its growth haveas a knock-on for “There’s always going to be gaps said in the network, for have faced years should will improve finance is effect freed up through Public Private Partnerships,” David. the company here as the more it improves there, there will be example, Limerick to Waterford but in time they will be put the company here as the more it improves there, there will be example, Limerick to Waterford but in time they will be put more funds available for the company here to further improve on stream, whether its through the Government themselves or more funds available for the company here to further improve on stream, whether its through the Government themselves or and develop.” through Public Private the Partnerships,” said David. Public Sector Magazine 125 and develop.” through Public Private Partnerships,” said David.

“The main driver ofof our business is is “The main driver of our business is “The main driver our business that wewe can offer a single source that we can offer single source that can offer aasingle source

solution, for every County Council solution, for every County Council solution, for every County Council and City Council nationwide. We have and City Council nationwide. We have and City Council nationwide. We have

the capabilities through our three the capabilities through our three the capabilities through our three divisions toto progress a project from divisions to progress project from divisions progress aaproject from

start toto finish, including all Traffic start to finish, including all Traffic start finish, including all Traffic Management, Civil works, Building/ Management, Civil works, Building/ Management, Civil works, Building/ Public Lighting.” Public Lighting.” Public Lighting.”


Public Sector Magazine

Natural gas - the fuel of choice. Natural Gas is achieving A-Rated homes. Mark Holohan, National Sales Manager, Gas Network Ireland tells Frank Collins why growing numbers of households are opting for natural gas. Gas Networks Ireland owns, operates and develops the natural gas pipeline network in Ireland. They provide homes and businesses with a safe efficient and secure supply of natural gas, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Gas Networks Ireland has developed a world-class natural gas infrastructure in Ireland consisting of a national transmission and distribution pipeline network of over 13,000km. The transmission system is linked to UK and Continental gas markets through two sub-sea interconnector pipelines with Scotland. The network serves 674,000 natural gas users in 153 population centres throughout the country. Gas Networks Ireland is also responsible for new gas connections and for work on service pipes and meters at customers’ premises. It manages a full 24-hour emergency response service and handles over 20,000 call-outs a year. The business is expanding into new gas industry areas including natural gas vehicles, renewable gas and smart metering. In a recent interview with The Public Sector Magazine, Mark Holohan, National Sales Manager for Gas Networks Ireland, said

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that there are lots of reasons why homeowners choose natural gas. “The domestic market is growing for us because of the current economic cycle and this is a mix of social housing and private schemes. Since last January, we have over 4,000 houses to connect to the network and they all have gas heating as standard when they are built.

Flexibility “Gas offers a flexibility that other energy sources can’t. It can be turned on and off quickly, it’s cost effective and convenient. There’s no need to order or store gas and you also have a prepay option. It’s reliable, piped straight to your door and is available 24/7, 365 days of the year. We deliver our gas service in snow storms, floods and whatever the weather throws at us! “Natural gas heating costs 66% less than electric heating. It has a 20% saving on bulk LPG heating, and prices are a lot more stable than oil fuel. There have been thefts of fuels such as oil or solid fuel in the difficult recessionary times, obviously you can’t steal natural gas.


Public Sector Magazine

A cleaner fuel “We have 674,000 satisfied business and residential customers throughout the country, the demand for natural gas over other fuels has never been stronger. Today, people are a lot more concerned about protecting the environment when it comes to buying a house. Mark Holohan It’s the cleanest fossil fuel on the market. Natural gas central heating boilers are 97% efficient in comparison to oil boilers. The use of natural gas instead of more polluting fuels results in considerably lower emissions of climate changing greenhouse gases.

A2/A3 BER rating “Gas Networks Ireland is working with builders, developers and architects. You can achieve a BER rating of A2/A3. All the new houses that we are connecting are achieving those kinds of ratios. All those 4,000 homes will achieve these ratings, up and down the country. We have gas pipelines now in 20 counties stretching to over 13,000kms of network.

Cost effective

Expanding Gas Network

“The cost of connection to developers is very reasonable. We transport gas through the network and then, homeowners can select the best offer from the five gas suppliers in the marketplace. We can confirm and have case studies to prove, that all of these developments that we are involved in are achieving A2/A3 BER ratings.

“We are currently in the process of extending the gas network into Wexford and Nenagh. We have invested €16M in these projects. We have the large industrial customers in the Nenagh area actively being connected to the network and we are presently talking to householders along the route of the pipeline to connect them too.

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Irish Gas

Connecting existing homes

“Since 2016, we are taking gas in from the Corrib gas field and linking it directly to the network we have built up. A growing percentage of gas being used in Ireland will be Irish gas, sourced off the coast of Mayo. Growth levels are expected to increase, with new towns on board, an improving economy and we believe that it is the best fuel for the new housing market. “Industry is a big part of our business. Natural gas attracts industry to a town and it is very important for foreign investment companies that natural gas is available to them before they set-up a new plant.

“In our major cities there is most likely a gas pipeline outside existing homes that can be connected for €250. Mature houses still on oil fuel for instance can bring costs down dramatically by connecting to our gas pipeline for just €250,” he said. Natural gas is a proven, reliable energy solution. Combined with modern technology and renewable resources, it is now easier to achieve an ‘A’ BER rated home. With the added option for CHP it is the smart choice for multioccupancy, high density developments. Instantly controllable, efficient, versatile, always available and competitively priced it is the fuel of choice for over 674,000 homes.

Safety “We have one of the safest and most modern gas pipeline networks and it is now internationally perceived as one of the best in Europe. “We believe that development going forward will be in the urban areas and natural gas can supply both private and public schemes. Natural gas offers so much more versatility in the home over other fuels. Natural gas heats your home, provides instant hot water, faster cooking, real flame fires and gas-fired tumble dryers are 65% cheaper to run than electric dryers. “For young people who are finding it difficult to get mortgages, and finally get into their homes, they need a flexible fuel at a low cost, with repayment meters as an option, and that is what natural gas offers. We would hope that builders, developers and planners would consider the needs of the end homeowner and include natural gas in their schemes.

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Announcement As we go to press, Gas Networks Ireland has announced that Listowel town, County Kerry, will be connected to the Irish natural gas network, following approval from the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER). The €20M project represents a significant investment for the national grid operator and will see Listowel connected to the existing natural gas network via a Feeder Main from Foynes, Co. Limerick. You can contact Mark Holohan, National Sales Manager, mholohan@ gasnetworks.ie For more information visitwww.gasnetworks.ie/choose-gas And, as they say in Gas Networks Ireland...Don’t just build a house...Build a home!


Build with their plans in mind. Make a house a home.

Connect to natural gas and transform your build into a home with all the comforts desired by today’s buyer. Contact our New Housing Team today to discuss how to achieve an ‘A’ BER rating and learn more about the most efficient all round solution for your next project.

Call on 1850 504 055 newhousing@gasnetworks.ie


Public Sector Magazine

‘Preserving out heritage to last a lifetime’ Fintal Farrell conservation services Ltd are one of Ireland's leading conservation and remedial treatment specialist companies. With over 40 years combined experience in the restoration and preservation of old historic buildings along with waterproofing some of Ireland's modern build constructions. Fintan has been entrusted to restore some of Ireland's most valuable buildings such as the Four Courts and Clongowes Wood College. To find out more about us and our previous projects Please visit: www.ffcs.ie Please Contact: Fintan Farrell Fintan@ffcs.ie 087 1192740 Laura Farrell laura@ffcs.ie 085 1496297

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Public Sector Magazine

You’re Hired Construction industry can potentially generate 112,000 jobs by 2020 A report, commissioned by the Construction Industry Federation and carried out by DKM consultants in conjunction with SOLAS, states that construction activity could potentially generate a requirement for 112,000 jobs up to 2020. Director General of the CIF, Tom Parlon said this volume of additional workers will be required to deliver the volume of projects which are currently in the pipeline. “Over the next 3 years, this report estimates that we will need 112,000 additional workers in construction to deliver on the ambitious targets set out in the Government’s €43bn Capital Programme, the Rebuilding Ireland Strategy and in meeting the increasing demand from Foreign Direct Investment companies for specialist buildings,” he said. The potential prize for delivering on these strategies is huge in terms of economic growth, jobs and recovery in the region. With a forecast of 9% annual growth on average the construction can become a €20bn industry by 2020. It can potentially employ 213,000 direct employees making it the largest generator of jobs in all communities around the economy. It is forecasted to contribute around 10% of GNP to the Irish economy. The construction industry is generally in recovery since 2013 but it is still grappling with nearly a decade of underinvestment and is playing catch up with an economy that has expanded strongly in the meantime. This has manifested itself in the acute housing supply shortage and infrastructure deficits across the country. This report sets out the required number of employees and apprentices to sustain desired activity levels as set down by Government policy. We will continue to work with the Government and its agencies such as SOLAS and the Education and Training Boards to deliver skilled employees and apprentices through innovative initiatives. Critical will be getting the message to young people and those who have emigrated that there is a significant number of quality careers across all the trades and functions in construction companies. DKM Director, Annette Hughes, who authored the report said the industry had been decimated by the impact of the financial crisis. “The construction industry has been through an unprecedented period in its history – with the volume of construction output contracting by almost two-thirds between 2007 and 2012. It lost almost a quarter of firms in the industry in the six years to 2014. Although the industry has been recovery since early 2013, it needs to catch up with an economy that has expanded strongly, “ she said. “The value of turnover in the construction industry was around €13bn, representing 6.2% of economic activity (GNP), down from almost one-quarter of the economy at the height of the last boom. There were 136,900 persons directly employed in Q2 2016, 6.8% of the total employed workforce. “The severity of the construction recession saw the numbers working in construction decline by almost 180,000 by Q1 2013 to

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just 35% of the numbers employed at the peak (2007). Construction recorded the fastest rate of employment growth in the period since, gaining 39,200 jobs at a rate of around 1,000 per month. “The industry is concerned that as activity ramps up quickly there will be a lag in the necessary skilled workers in the labour market and amongst those coming out of full-time education and training to meet the demand over the medium-term.” CIF President Michael Stone said the construction industry will be an engine for growth and job creation over the decade. “Construction companies are delivering high quality projects domestically and internationally and have never offered better opportunities for people to work and build careers,” he said. “We as an industry are focussing on dramatically increasing the number of apprentices in the industry. There were only 4,400 apprentices across all trades in construction in 2015 compared with 23,700 apprentices in Q4 2007. This year so far there were around 1,500 new registrations and this report indicates that we need to reach an annual level of registrations of around 4,000 to sustain forecast activity. “We are seeking to establish a Construction Skills Forum involving relevant state agencies and Departments to monitor skills demand and to deliver initiatives to ensure there is an adequate supply of labour to deliver Ireland’s infrastructure, housing and built environment requirements.”

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Lasting a Lifetime Finatan Farrell Conservation Services Ltd. are one of Ireland’s leading conservation and remedial treatment specialists and Fintan is among the county’s foremost authorities in the field. He discusses some of the key issues invovled in maintaining and preserving Ireland’s impressive built heritage. Commitment to Conservation “We find Ireland is committed towards preserving the portfolio of historic houses and buildings. Ireland has a great history of being talented tradesmen, which is evident all over the world. We have beautiful buildings built with natural stones, creative arches and decorative features which are highly impressive for the time they were built. “We can see Ireland’s commitment to its built heritage throughout the country; for example, our government and court buildings are still in use from when they were built and through maintenance over the years, they are in great condition. “Buildings need general maintenance year to year and major work roughly every 30 years. We are currently working on Wexford courthouse, rejuvenating the external façade. This not only allows the building to look better aesthetically, but allows the building materials to function as needed.

Maintaining State Buildings “We can see state buildings in every county in Ireland, with Dublin having the highest concentration. Maintaining an older building can be costly when issues are left to go unresolved. This is why appraising buildings every few years can be of great benefit. Another important issue to be considered when maintaining historical buildings is the level of workmanship. It’s crucial to have the right team doing the right work.”

Austerity and Conservation “During the economic downturn, there was not much activity going on within the public sector in relation to remedial works to buildings. However we can see now, both in the sky line and on portals such as etenders, that emphasis is being put back into the states properties. We can see the Fourcourts is undergoing work to the dome structure, for example (we are not involved in this project).”

Combining both traditional and modern building methods “It’s important to look after our historic housing stock but we always need to be mindful of changes in use of buildings. They need to have a certain level of comfort and with such an awareness of our carbon footprint; we need to make these buildings as energy efficient as we can, without compromising their historic integrity. Buildings of this nature cannot be insulated in the traditional way and until recently this was a major concern.

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MAINTENANCE: HSTORIC BUILDING VERSUS NEW BUILDINGS New large commercial buildings are built almost like lego; the pieces are designed, pre-fabricated off site and slot together on site. They have the newest technology and simple yet effective design. Large commercial buildings are built with more machinery whereas an historic building would have been a more labour intensive project. A large commercial building would be built primarily with steel as its main material, whereas historic buildings are made from natural stones, bricks, timber and block in some cases. Natural materials, like stone and bricks, require regular maintenance. They are porous in nature and must be able to breathe to allow functionality. There is a lot of timber used in older buildings and for good reason; it has great structural properties as well as being easily accessible and aesthetically pleasing. However, care needs to be taken with timber to protect it from decay and wood boring beetles. This can be easily achieved with modern timber treatments. Maintaining an historic building can also involve working alongside a conservation officer, whereas this is not a requirement with modern commercial buildings. Although each historic building will have its own features to be protected, the general rule with conservation work is it has to be reversible. This of course can restrict the scope of what can be done to a building but it’s this rule that helps keep these buildings as close to their original condition as reasonably practical.


Public Sector Magazine

Dry rot - Wicklow Convent

Dry rot behind timber architraeve - Georgian house terenure

TYPICAL PROBLEMS WITH OLDER BUILDINGS “Something we would see a lot in older buildings is dry rot. Dry rot is a fungus that is created in a damp humid environment; it feasts on timber and has the ability to travel through masonry. As buildings are modernised, i.e. central heating, better insulation, higher quality windows, dry rot can be become a problem. Often natural ventilation is over looked when upgrading a building and this can cause problems with condensation.

Over the last ten years, fully breathable insulation products have been developed to combat this problem. These products allow the building to function as normal and so they satisfy a need for energy saving, occupant comfort and the system is also reversible which satisfies conservation officers. Another example is micro-abrasive cleaning, which is now the only approved conservation cleaning method by Dublin City Council. Before we used to see buildings being sand blasted. This method is very aggressive and doesn’t clean the material, it actually removes a layer from the façade. It can also cause permanent damage to the stone/brick. The alternative was to clean a building by hand with water and a wire brush. This is extremely time consuming and so can be very costly. Micro-abrasive cleaning uses low pressure system with a mix of water and a micro-abrasive powder to carefully lift staining from the material. It speeds up the cleaning process as well as extending the longevity of the material to approximately 70 years. There can be a weariness attached to using new technologies on old buildings, but once the correct method is chosen and there are competent people carrying out the work, we can really put technology to great use within our historic buildings.”

Working on Modern Buildings “With modern buildings, we would carry out work such as condensation control and waterproof tanking. Condensation is becoming a much more prevalent issue and it’s directly linked to how we use our buildings. We would receive

When condensation Dry rot in old farm house occurs behind what we can see, this is where dry rot can become a problem. Also, lack of maintenance such as maintaining rain water goods, roof flashings and pointing to facades and chimneys can lead to moisture ingress. Typically in older buildings we see dry rot occurring behind window architraves. Timber features such as architraves are usually original details of the building, so it’s always important to take any excess moisture seriously.

many enquiries in relation to mould growth and damp odours, although these usually relate to domestic houses. Although there is remedial work involved to alleviate these issues, changing how we use our buildings can help greatly. For example, it is best not to dry clothes indoors. However if you have no alternatives, always leave a window open in the room the wet clothes are in and ensure any doors within the room are closed. We would also work on large scale commercial projects. In recent times we have been involved in new developments of Tesco stores, Teva pharmaceuticals and Abbey machinery. For these projects we would lay the radon membranes and waterproof tanking systems. Radon levels vary throughout the country but it is now a requirement that all new buildings are fitted with a radon barrier system. At a time when we have much awareness about cancer and health in general, an adequate radon system is crucial in our buildings going forward. There is also a new building requirement for conservation of water. So for example, the work in the new Tesco store saw us ensuring the attenuation tanks in the basement car park are water tight. These attenuation tanks hold water so it can be released through the general system in a controlled manor. Conservation projects count for about 70% of our workload with new projects accounting for the remainding 30%.”

Funding for Conservation “From working on historical state buildings, we find their importance is taken with relevant seriousness. We can see

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Radon membrane installation - Abbey Machinery. patterns around the country of buildings which are being elected for work. For example, court houses may be reviewed and works carried out as necessary. Of course it would be impractical to carry out works to all state buildings simultaneously. We also find that due consideration is put into the works required by the elected architects; this is a crucial point when

starting remedial works. There can be many unforeseen issues with historical buildings but we find that over time these former unforeseen issues are being given forethought, which is beneficial when budgeting such projects. Maintaining the states building stock is an on-going process which will continue for generations to come.”

Skills Shortages Emerging “We are seeing a slow and steady increase in the workload of the construction industry in general. We are fortunate enough to be increasing our workload also. However, an area of concern is a lack of skilled trades people. As the industry progresses, it will become more apparent that the industry is lacking in highly skilled plasterers, carpenters etc.”

Fintan Farrell Conservation Services: Current Projects Granite column AFTER conservation cleaning

Granite column during conservation cleaning

IMPORTANCE OF PRESEVING OUR BUILT HERITAGE “Our built heritage is of great importance. It showcases our former generations’ talents and it also sculpts part of who we are. To see buildings which have survived troubled times, such as the Easter rising, still in use to this day is wonderful. When we see the magnitude of these buildings, we must remind ourselves that these crafts people didn’t have the same technologies we have today. It gives great pride to the country to be able to showcase these buildings, as well as acting as tourist attractions. Apart from sentimental values, preserving our historical buildings is also economical. To demolish such buildings and create a replacement would be of no financial benefit.”

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“We are currently involved in work with the US embassy. This project involves moving old render and re-plastering in lime based render as well as works to the chimney stacks to prevent water ingress. Another major project we are currently involved in is works to Wexford Courthouse. BAM are the main contractors and we are the specialist sub-contractors. Our work focuses on the external façade repair; repointing in a lime based mortar and micro abrasive cleaning.”


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LABOUR OF LOVE “Projects I am proudest of” “I have two projects which spring to mind. The first project I remember most fondly, would have to be the works carried out to the The custom house. I was working for ‘Protim’ at the time, (who ceased operations at the beginning of the economic downturn) and it was the first project of this scale that I had secured. Our works involved waterproofing the basement level of the structure. With the area being wholly underground, and constant water pressure from the neighouring river, it was crucial to get every aspect right. This was a pivotal contract in my career and it allowed me to expand my involvement in this sector.

A more recent project that I am proud of is our involvement to the rejuvenation of the former Clancy Quay Barracks. The area is being transformed into town houses and apartments. However, one of the buildings is being kept as it is and is being restored to its former glory. We were involved in this section of the development and works included salvaging original timbers, eradicating dry rot, flashing replacements to the roof, valleys and chimneys. Originally called Islandbridge barracks built circa 1850, it was renamed to Clancy Barracks in 1942 after Peader Clancy, a man from Co. Clare who was killed during the war of independence in 1920. The barracks has been associated with various military events including the Crimean war, Boer war, World War 1 and the 1916 rising.”

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Energy Targets Biomass: Chipping away at energy imports Ireland is currently dependent on imported fossil fuels. According to SEAI, Irelands overall import dependency was 85% in 2014. It is estimated that in 2014 the cost of all energy imports to Ireland was €5.7 bn and that fossil fuels accounted for 90% of all energy used. Under the Renewable Energy Directive Ireland has a target for energy from Renewable Energy Sources (RES) of 16% of gross final consumption by 2020. Total energy consumption is divided into 3 broad headings; electricity, heat and transport, each of which has its own individual target. Clearly a significant, cross sectoral effort will be required to meet 2020 targets. Focussing on the heat sector in particular, the introduction of a Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is a commitment in the Programme for Government and will be the main support mechanism designed to meet the RES-H target. The department is currently designing the RHI scheme and €7m was secured for it in Budget 2017, based on the expectation that the scheme will launch in the latter half of 2017. It is expected that the capital expenditure will increase in subsequent years. The RHI is aimed at supporting larger industrial and commercial installations. For comparison, an RHI has been in existence in the UK since 2011 where it has supported 15,562 non domestic installations to date. This amounts to an installed capacity of 2816MW, 91.8% of

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which are solid biomass installations. The total non-domestic RHI payments made in September 2016 was GB£575 M. Increased deployment of biomass heat and power projects as a result of the upcoming RHI scheme will reduce Irelands energy imports and carbon emissions, improve the domestic economy through investment in local supply chains and help us to meet our renewable energy targets. With 2020 looming, expediency is needed in order to avoid fines for missed targets. Experienced operators in the sector will be critical in effectively delivering projects, ultimately developing what is a fringe industry into a mainstream sector. This is already being done in the UK and for decades previously in Europe. Clearpower Ltd. established in 2002, designs, installs, fuels and maintains medium to large scale biomass (wood chip and wood pellet) heating systems. In 2012 Clearpower Ltd. was acquired by DCC PLC, a FTSE 100 company headquartered in Dublin. Clearpower operates within DCC’s Energy Division alongside Flogas Ireland offering Biomass and Solar PV solutions. Combining Renewable Energy with the existing offerings of LPG, Natural Gas and Electricity, Flogas aim to be Irelands leading provider of total energy solutions.

We offer the following: • Design & build of biomass heating, CHP and District Heating systems • Service & maintenance • Wood chip, wood pellet and firewood supply • Roof & ground mounted solar PV systems

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www.clearpower.ie

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Get Back to Building Director General of the Construction Industry Federation Tom Parlon has welcomed the housing measures contained in the budget but says that there is a need for higher levels of strategic infrastructure investment.

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) has welcomed the housing measures contained in Budget 2017 but warns that increased infrastructure investment is required to transform new housing estates into vibrant communities over the next decade. “The measures introduced today are a significant step towards solving the housing crisis by addressing the chronic lack of supply in new builds,” said CIF Director General, Tom Parlon. “In terms of resolving the housing crisis, the CIF’s Irish Home Builders Association welcomes the introduction of this tax rebate scheme aimed at helping first-time buyers to save deposits for starter homes. “There is an acute shortage of activity in this sector because

first-time buyers cannot secure mortgages. As a result, banks won’t provide finance to home-builders making the building of new starter homes unviable. “This measure aims to stimulate some supply in this demographic to target realisable demand i.e. first-time buyers that can afford a mortgage and starter home but are currently renting and trying to save for a deposit. “The Central Bank’s Loan to Income rules will continue to ensure that first-time buyers can only access affordable mortgages and dampen significant increases in prices as a result of the measure.” Parlon also welcomed the extension of the Home

“Unfortunately, Ireland has one of the lowest levels of infrastructure investment in the EU, and successive bodies such as the European Commission, the OECD, the National Competitiveness Council, and several industry representative bodies have all called for an increase in infrastructure spend.” the Public Sector Magazine

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Leading Irish and International engineering partner in electrical, instrumentation and commissioning services STS Group has one of the most experienced management teams in the industrial and commercial sectors Operations and Offices in Ireland, UK, Germany and Belgium

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Renovation Incentive scheme which he says has been a highly successful scheme for those seeking to increase their house size and to upgrade their homes. In addition, the Minister’s commitment to reintroduce interest relief for landlords to 80% this year and up to 100% over the next five years has been well received within the construction sector. “These measures taken in conjunction with initiatives in Minister Coveney’s ‘Rebuilding Ireland’ strategy can resolve Ireland’s housing supply issues in a measured and sustainable way,” said Parlon. “The significant amount of capital expenditure on social housing announced by Minister Donohoe is also welcomed and it can lead to a significant increase in units available.” Another key initiative of Ministers Coveney and Donohoe in this regard is the local infrastructure fund that will see €50M made available to make ready land capable of supporting significant housebuilding activity and will make a major contribution. However, Parlon also warns that the low level of infrastructure investment across our economy will be the next crisis Ireland faces. “Nearly a decade of low level investment in infrastructure now risks economic growth and confines regions outside the Greater Dublin Area to permanent lower growth levels,” he says. “Without significant infrastructure investment, people will continue to migrate to Dublin and today’s budgetary measures may only deliver housing into areas that are economically depleted. “National infrastructure, like the M20 connecting Cork to

Limerick, could bring economic recovery to key regions and struggling rural communities. “The M20 project is estimated to cost €800M and the Government’s original analysis showed the economics benefits would outweigh costs by a factor of 2 to 1. This could counterbalance and compliment Dublin’s economic primacy, currently accounting for 40% GDP. “Unfortunately, Ireland has one of the lowest levels of infrastructure investment in the EU, and successive bodies such as the European Commission, the OECD, the National Competitiveness Council, and several industry representative bodies have all called for an increase in infrastructure spend. “Prior to the recession the long-term average for capital expenditure was approximately 5% of GDP. This is at a time when funding is at historically low levels and we could deliver national infrastructure more cheaply than at any other time in our history. “We are allowing ourselves to be curtailed by EU fiscal rules that are wholly unsuitable for country emerging from a recession with a growing population and economy. “The Government must continue to press our case with the EU to facilitate this investment. The pay-off for the exchequer is evident as every €1bn invested in infrastructure generates 10,000 jobs.” Parlon also welcomed measures in the budget that focus on supporting the self-employed. The construction industry has approximately 45,000 self-employed involved in the sector. “The increase in the earned income tax credit to €950 available to the self-employed can help the huge number of construction micro-enterprises to build sustainable businesses.”

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A foyer with a Difference

The Roscommon County Council head offices were completed by Stewart, a contracting company with a proud 100-year history. The project is among its best work and has been awarded a host of prestigious awards. Stewart were immensely proud to handover the new highspec Roscommon County Council head offices in December 2015. This project has won many awards including Best Public Building, Best Sustainable Building, and Architectural Project of the Year and has achieved BREEAM Excellence – all of which showcase just how impressive and deserving this project is. But outside of the technicalities, there was one very unusual feature of the project which draws the attention of anyone who enters the building. This key feature takes its pride of place in the foyer in the form of an antique Steam Roller which dates back to the early 1900’s.  Originally, the steam roller stood outside Roscommon Court House and was very much identified with the building. In 2014 restoration work was undertaken on the roller to preserve it as a key feature for the new headquarters building. The decision to have this piece in the new foyer provided a wonderful and unusual contrast between the antique roller sitting as the centre feature inside a building of such a contemporary design. Bringing the steam roller into the foyer was an interesting

challenge, to both install and then protect this antique piece whist the building works continued around it. The appearance of this antique roller provides a wonderful link between the old and the new and will no doubt continue to generate much interest. The architecture here is second to none with that being highlighted this year at the RIAI Architecture Awards where Roscommon County Council Headquarters was awarded ‘Best Public Building’ and ‘Best Sustainable Building’ for ABK Architects outstanding work on this project. Stewart has extensive experience in delivering public sector buildings for public clients such as the Department of Education, An Post, An Garda Síochána, Office of Public Works, Mayo County Council, Galway County Council and more. With particular expertise in Design & Build, the novated design team at Stewart have got extensive recognition for this multiaward winning sustainable build which has set the bar for civic building in Ireland. Contact Stewart at 01 9011290 or visit www.stewart.ie

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A City on the Rise Limerick is a city on the up. A significant urban renewal programme is in place and with its strong education system and a talented workforce, the city is increasingly attractive to foreign investors. Director of Economic Development at Limerick City Council Pat Daly talks to Public Sector Magazine.

Limerick. A history city boasting one of the finest examples of Norman architecture in Ireland - King John’s Castle. It’s also a place famous for its sporting heroes; warriors who have carved out a niche for themselves in Gaelic games, soccer and, of course, rugby. Munster’s famous victory over the mighty All-Blacks in Thomond Park in 1978 is still the subject of many stories and songs - and always will be it seems. It’s also the city where famous names worlds of show business and literature such as Terry Wogan, Richard Harris and Frank McCourt grew up. The place is certainly not short of high achievers who have made their mark at home and abroad in sport, the arts and business and just about every other sector. In more recent times Limerick has also become a welcoming home for many start-ups in the tech sector; fresh, new business enterprises, driven by young, ambitious people imbued with an entrepreneurial flair who are clearly hungry for success and the chance to conquer new frontiers. Among those helping them to do achieve their ambitions is Pat Daly, the Director of Economic Development and Planning at Limerick City Council and Co Council. A Limerick man, to the manor born, he is happy to be

doing all he can to ensure his native city is a place that offers opportunities for the ambitious and the hard-working. He knows a lot already has been done towards providing the right environment for industry – big and small - to grow and flourish. Equally, he’s well aware, there’s a lot more still to do. “We are very ambitious about what we want for Limerick. We’re very ambitious in attracting companies, big and small, who are interested in scaling up and we see it as our role to do everything we can to assist them in that,” he said. He points to carefully constructed document – ‘Limerick 2030: An Economic and Spatial Plan’ – as an example of how the city authorities have mapped out a detailed vision of what they seek to achieve as the 21st century moves on. He describes how at the heart of the plan is the objective of developing a strong pro-business environment so that the city retains its place as the key service centre for the region. Daly also points out that the Limerick 2030 strategy aims to create 12,000 jobs with 5,000 of those located in the city centre alone. The Limerick 2030 document also outlines how close to € 1bn will be spent on redeveloping about 81,000 square metres into new economic zones with over half-million square metres of advanced office space provided to support the initiative. It’s

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an ambitious plan both domestic and “The other thing is that we want to international markets are responding to in make it attractive for people to scale up a very positive way. in Limerick so that we have spin ins and “Already we have over 7,500 jobs spin outs coming from the University and created in practically under a third of the Institute of Education, but also from other time so the plan is working very well,” he locations, so in a way we’re working on explains. “All the stakeholders have put both sides of the coin. their support firmly behind the plan. A “International investment is obviously Partnership Charter has been drawn up critical and very attractive to us but also to deliver it and the building programmes we have very strong indigenous firms and projects are moving forward.” growing and scaling which is great as well. Big business names such as Dell, It’s about supporting both. That has been a Gilt and Johnson & Johnson are well very strong feature of the 2030 plan.” established in Limerick and they have Financing is obviously an issue of great been joined by other world-renowned importance for start-ups and Pat Daly says international enterprises in more recent Limerick City Council is seeking to attract times such as Uber, a company that more venture capitalists to the region. has established a high-profile Centre of The fact that Limerick City Council has a Pat Daly, Economic Development Manager, Limerick City Council. Excellence for Europe along the banks of clearly drawn up, ambitious, long-term the Shannon. plan is, he adds, something that can Pat Daly points out how Limerick encourage investors to look on Limerick as City Council have worked very closely an attractive option. with a wide variety of bodies to help Among the key projects Limerick City create the right conditions for start-ups to Council are engaged in as they seek to get up and running. improve the infrastructure available is the However, it’s not just a matter of getting bringing on stream of 140,000 square feet a business on the road; it’s also about of grade A office space in the Hanging encouraging those involved to upscale their Gardens area in the centre of the city. enterprises so that they become bigger and The space will be capable of better as time moves on. supporting 750 jobs. The builders are “We are working with key partners about to start their work with the project such as Enterprise Ireland, the IDA, expected to be completed in about 18 the Chamber of Commerce on making months or so. Limerick not alone a great place to start a Then there is the intriguing prospect business but actually scale up a business, that Limerick is about to become the that’s the ambition we are setting out. capital of the Irish film industry with “We have a fantastic University in the opening of Troy Studios. They have Limerick and Institute of Technology that leased the old Dell building in Castletroy are doing very good, innovative work as in Limerick city. The plan is to have part of their research programmes and the studio available for film and TV their incubation centres. production at the cost of several millions Limerick City Council continues to providing Limerick with a unique media make available office space that includes hub. The studios will be located on 350,000 innovation hubs and second-stage locations square feet of building on 15 acres. where young companies can move into as “It’s a huge project. It will be the biggest they start to expand and grow. and newest film campus in the country. We Also, part of the overall plan of are working with the promotors involved supporting firms is ensuring there is highwho are actively working on the project so quality office and manufacturing facilities Limerick will be home to one of the top film available; the kind of infrastructure studios in the country—if not Europe— needed to make it easy for multinationals moving forward.” to opt for Limerick when they are looking As a Limerick man, to the manor born, for well-serviced, prime office space. Pat Daly is clearly proud the area has – it’s history, the great, highThe well-educated workforce that emerges, year in, year achieving personalities it has produced over the years. out, from the University Limerick and the local Institute of “We’re very ambitious for Limerick. It’s going to be a major Education is another huge positive. Then there is Shannon city with further big developments and it’s great to be in a Airport to mention just one more plus for the region as well as a position to help that along.” quality of a life that comes with living in a city that is not overLimerick. A city with a rich past but also firmly focused on crowded and claustrophobic. the future.

“International investment

is obviously

critical and very attractive to

us but also we

have very strong

indigenous firms growing and

scaling which is

great as well. It’s

about supporting both. That has

been a very strong

feature of the 2030 plan.”

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Icarus Properties Over the past 20 years Icarus Properties has grown considerably in size yet it has remained a small company, enabling close working relationships with all clients and a dedication to each project second to none.

According to Director Philip Callaghan, this one to one, hands-on approach is key to their success: “Although we manage projects of all sizes, we always aim to limit the number we run simultaneously in order to offer each client our full commitment. A large amount of our work is in maintenance and renovation. We use preferred sub-contractors for each assignment. By utilising their extensive knowledge and experience in all areas of our building and renovation work, we are able to guarantee the highest level of workmanship and finish to each Icarus project.” Icarus is built on customer satisfaction and recommendations. The company handle construction, refurbishment works, grand enabled housing works, bathroom re-modelling under the (Disable Persons Grant Scheme), driveways, landscape gardening, maintenance, insulation, civil engineering works and interior and exterior decoration. There is a 24 hour on-call emergency services and all aspects of a project are taken care of, whether large or small and including electrical and mechanical works. According to Callaghan, the public sector accounts for a vitally important component of the company’s client base. “This market is a huge and very important part of our business as we find it very rewarding and essential to our company. We have built our reputation on our client focus and handson approach. We are proud of the fact that the majority of our workload comes from repeat business and that we have a strong reputation for our competitive edge and reliable execution of all projects undertaken.”

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The company is involved in a large number of refurbishment works on public housing. For example, Icarus are currently working on thermal upgrade works of 100 apartments in conjunction with Limerick City and County Council, Airtricity and SEAI. Callaghan continues “We are refurbishing houses in Ballinacurra Weston Area in Limerick where we are refurbishing 7 houses and remodelling 8 bathrooms under the DPG scheme with more in the pipeline”. Icarus work seamlessly with local authorities and county councils with excellent working relationships. “We are currently working with the maintenance team leaders of Limerick City and County Council to ensure all maintenance calls are completed, we are refurbishing a number of houses in St Mary’s Park Limerick and, we are responsible for the maintenance and cleanliness of 5 Halting Sites in Limerick. “Icarus Properties Limited has committed to being one of the best companies working in the construction and maintenance public sector. We have worked hard to date to ensure the Public sector are confident in our company and the services that we provide.”


Public Sector Magazine

In the Pipeline Pipelife has grown to become one of the world’s leading suppliers of innovative products in the water, gas and energy & power distribution, telecommunications, industrial applications and the plumbing sectors.

Pipelife manufacture and market a wide range of quality pipe systems, providing tailor-made solutions for municipal infrastructure as well as for the industrial and house building sectors. Pipelife are proud to be suppliers of plastic pipe and ducting systems to the ESB, Bord Gáis and Irish Water for over 20 years, and with over 45 years of experience in the manufacture of high quality products from our well established manufacturing plant in Cork, we look forward to many more years of mutual support and productivity. Pipelife’s Qual-PEX plumbing pipe was developed in Ireland and was the first PEX pipe in the world to be awarded the BS7291 Class S Kitemark in 1989 and the first PEX-B pipe in the world to gain water certification for the Scandinavian market. Since then, over 800,000,000 metres of Qual-PEX, 20 times the circumference of the earth, has been supplied to over 30 countries worldwide. The product range has evolved over our existence in Ireland and the company has diversified from cold water pipe to gas pipe, cable ducting and thermoplastic plumbing pipes which also include underfloor heating pipe. This diversity in products compelled the Pipelife group to purchase the original company, Quality Plastics Ltd, in March 2007. Drawing on our experience and from our extensive research

and development, from our base in Cork, Pipelife has been to the forefront in developing innovative products and has been an industry leader for many years. This commitment to quality and innovation continues today and we are delighted to offer ECO products, such as: Qual-PEX Eco Duo our pre-insulated and pre-ducted 1” pipe and QualPEX Eco pre-insulated ½” , ¾” & 1”pipe - which are specifically developed with energy conservation and waste water renewal in mind. The experience and expertise of our Underfloor Heating Department coupled with the security of our design indemnity insurance, top quality products, and comprehensive before and after sales technical support ensures that we continue to offer an industry leading service in this growing segment of the residential and commercial market. Selling exclusively through merchants our service is tailored to making the supply of UFH easy, professional and painless. Pipelife strive to bring new and interesting developments to the market, like the new Qual-PEX Crimp Fitting, which will be launched in 2017. Pipelife are always open to new ideas, innovations or suggestion, in an effort to keep Ireland supplied with top quality products.

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Specialist Technical Services World class competence - personal service

Established in 2006 as a specialist testing operation, STS Group quickly broadened its scope to become a full-service provider to world renowned brand names in a broad range of sectors, including pharmaceuticals, information technology, food, utility, medical, hospitality and renewable energy, etc. The group now employs over 500 people and is firmly established as one of the construction industry’s leading players. In the last two years the company has achieved positive incrememental growth across the business and further progress is projected for the foreseeable future. “STS Group is dedicated to being the tier one provider of electrical engineering, instrumentation and commissioning services in the Irish, UK and European markets,” says Liam Linehan Business Development Director. “We are a full-service provider to many of the world’s leading brand names in a broad range of sectors. We have grown organically and we have seen a broadening of our customer base across all sectors. The last four years have seen us achieve a scale

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“STS Group is dedicated to being the tier one provider of electrical engineering, instrumentation and commissioning services in the Irish, UK and European markets.” that allows us to compete as a top tier electrical contracting firm on both domestic and international fronts. The company has offices in Dublin, Waterford, the UK, Belgium, France and Germany, servicing Ireland, the wider European and international markets.


Public Sector Magazine

The senior management team at STS Group know their strengths having over 40 years experience working in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and on leading projects in Ireland and the UK. “For clients contracting with STS Group, our management team guarantees the standard of work, the track record of the people who will be providing the service and the quality of the executed project.” “We are committed to delivering a quality product every time to the highest standard. We achieved ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System, which demonstrates that we have an independently verified and consistent approach to completing projects. The Quality Management System procedures bring us far beyond ISO 9001 to conform to work in GMP and FDA regulated environments. Our quality system is dynamic and is constantly under review with a goal of achieving zero defects and maintaining the highest possible quality of service.” Safety is one of the key priorities for the staff and management at STS Group: “It is our number one goal, both for the benefit of our clients and our employees. Consequently, as we were working to the highest environmental and safety standards in Ireland and abroad, we acquired accreditation as a

company with a Safety Management System OHSAS 18001. We are committed to maintaining the highest level of environmental protection and are committed to zero accidents on all our sites,” adds Linehan. At its core, STS is a business built on expertise and excellence. Because of the nature of its business, even though STS Group services all sectors and has been very active in the general industrial, pharma, ICT and healthcare sectors with a recent increase in our commercial activities, they are totally committed to respecting their customers’ need for confidentiality: “Our client relationships are totally confidential, and that is right across the board and extend beyond the strict requirements of good customer service. We’ve seen this time and time again, as our clients come back for repeat business. Operating at the highest level, STS has the experience and a team of qualified professionals to complete the most sophisticated of projects but its unique selling point is its service. Specialist Technical Services retains a scale and ethos with means that clients personally know the key members of the team and are guaranteed a level of service, which larger competitors cannot match.

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Built to Impresss Bennett Construction which was established almost a Century ago has grown steadily throughout the decades and now ranks among the top 5 Construction Companies in Ireland. The company’s Joint Managing Director, Paul Bruton talks to Public Sector Magazine about surviving the harshest recession in memory and their ambitous plans for future growth. Bennett (Construction) Ltd operates from headquarters in Mullingar and also has offices in the UK and Germany. The company has a proven ability to deliver high quality projects in a professional, efficient and non-adversarial manner and it provides valued local employment on all projects. “We have a broad portfolio of successfully completed projects across a wide range of sectors including, Public Sector, Commercial, Industrial, Residential /Student Accommodation, Data Centres, Retail, Refurbishment, Hospitality, Pharmaceutical and high end bespoke Fit Out,”says Paul Bruton, Joint Managing Director. Projects delivered in the Irish Public Sector include the OPUS/ RIAI award winning Civic Offices for Westmeath Council with attached Public Library, Civic Offices in Ballymun, Letterkenny and the OPW Headquarters in Trim, Co Meath. While projects undertaken by Bennett Construction range in complexity, the formula at work is constant and practical:

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Projects delivered in the Irish Public Sector include the OPUS/ RIAI award winning Civic Offices for Westmeath Council with attached Public Library, Civic Offices in Ballymun, Letterkenny and the OPW Headquarters in Trim, Co Meath.


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In response to the difficult domestic climate, the Company targeted expansion abroad successfully secured and delivered, a wide range of projects in Europe and in the UK. ‘combine the best people, the best knowledge set, the technology, sustainability measures and an unwavering commitment to safety.’ “Understanding our Clients expectations and business requirements allows us to focus on each individual project, to deliver around their specific needs and that has been a deciding factor in the high level of repeat business we receive,” says Paul. One growth sector in Ireland is the provision of Student Accommodation to cater for increasing student numbers and with the expectation that it will help reduce the reliance on the main housing stock for seasonal student requirements. In July of this year, Bennett Construction completed the Binary Hub for The Student Housing Company on a site between Thomas Street and Bonham Street in Dublin 8. This Binary Hub development is conveniently located within easy travelling distance of a number of Colleges and is currently Dublin’s largest purpose-built student accommodation development built off campus. With 471 dedicated spaces in luxury private apartments style units, it marks a leap forward in the provision of quality city centre accommodation and allows for a unique offering for students in a secure and managed facility. Bennett Construction are also currently involved in two further student accommodation developments in Dublin, one located on Gardiner Street with a total of 491 bed spaces and the other located on Dorset Street with 447 bed spaces, the latter being a repeat project for the Student Housing Company. With student accommodation in the Dublin Region in high demand, the new student residences should help ease pressure on a housing deficit and its construction provides for much needed employment in the Industry. In contrast to many other construction companies, Bennett Construction was able to retain most of its highly skilled Senior Management staff during the recession and is now growing new teams around this knowledge base. The Construction Sector continues to be a challenging one, but Bennetts have made

it through one of the worst economic downturns in several decades. Between 2008 and 2011, turnover at the company fell by 80%. In response to the difficult domestic climate, the Company targeted expansion abroad successfully secured and delivered, a wide range of projects in Europe and in the UK. Projects included retail fit outs across Europe and high end residential units in London at Netherhall Gardens, Covent Garden and Gascoyne Estate etc. These projects continue to give the Company a strong and broad presence in the delivery of high end tailored projects for valued Clients. Other award winning projects include the European Headquarters for Airbnb which won an award for ‘Fit Out Project of the Year Office New Build’ and our Leman Street Locke project in London won the ‘International Project of the Year’ at the recent Fit Out Awards. These projects demonstrate Bennetts ability to deliver on a broad project platform while providing a benchmark for international best practice. As a result of a Client focused and tailored delivery, Bennett Construction have seen a steady increase in their turnover in the past 3 to 4 years. The Company’ expected turnover for the coming year will be in the order of €190 million with a resultant increase in construction jobs and providing for a solid training ground for future generations. The level of confidence in the domestic Irish Construction Market has helped to increase both the level of project values being constructed and the number of these projects being successfully tendered but it continues to be a challenging market and requires continued focus on sustainable delivery from Government and private sectors.

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Connect with Wavin Wavin: Connect to better solutions, better partnerships, better value and better outcomes.

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Wavin Ireland, which was established in 1958, built its heritage principally on Below Ground applications manufacturing and distributing a portfolio of pipe and fittings products through builders’ merchants covering underground sewer and drainage systems, water main, gas and cable ducting for general purpose, telecoms and electrical applications. Indeed, the name Wavin is a contraction of the words ‘WAter’ and ‘VINyl’ indicative of the initial core market of drinking water and the fact that the products were manufactured from PVC. In Ireland the expression “a length of Wavin” quickly became the generic name for sewer pipe but the company has evolved into a much wider, more comprehensive business.

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“Brexit is of course a huge issue, not just facing us but many businesses. Wavin Ireland sells into Northern Ireland and the exchange rate hit is having a serious impact on profitability


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In terms of a jab

Today, Wavin Ireland also offers an extensive Above Ground portfolio including the innovative Hep2O pushfit plumbing and underfloor heating system, its Tigris K1 press-fit metal plastic multilayer pipe and fittings plumbing system principally for non-residential applications, soil and waste systems both for residential and non-residential (including low noise acoustics and a compact range where footprint is an issue such as in apartments) and traditional rainwater systems, but also rainwater harvesting and siphonic systems. The core Below Ground portfolio today also includes Stormwater Management for the storage, handing and discharge of excess rainwater – a serious problem globally with flooding and climate change. It is only in recent years that the country has emerged from a deep and prolonged recession and Michael O’Donohoe, Country Director at Wavin Ireland is hopeful that construction output will continue to accelerate in the coming years. “It took until 2014 for the business to stabilise since the downturn which began in 2008,” he says. “This year is the first year where we have seen real improvement and hopefully this represents the start of a cycle of sustained growth in the medium terms as construction activity continues to recover. The growth in the market this year has principally been on the back of strong non-residential activity in the commercial sector but also in health and education with nursing homes and schools and some infrastructural investment such as in the LUAS and some road projects.” The impact of the financial crisis on the construction sector was particularly severe and it was a turbulent period for Wavin. At its peak in 2006 Wavin Ireland employed 250 people but today that number is down to 80. “I think that speaks volumes for the impact the recession has had,says O’Donohoe. “Since 2007, this year will be the first year the business is back into profitability. I am confident that we’ve turned the corner. For us the market bottomed out a couple of years ago and with the strong demand for housing, both private and social, and continued public and private nonresidential investment, the outlook is for strong growth yearon-year as the market slowly gets back to normality, but this will take time. “After years of recession we are developing a plan to re-invest in the business both in terms of personnel and equipment, which will better position us to capture the upcoming construction curve.” In terms of the key challenges facing the company, O’Donohoe identifies Brexit has the potential to cause significant disruption to the construction sector and the wider Irish economy. “Brexit is of course a huge issue, not just facing us but many businesses. Wavin Ireland sells into Northern Ireland and the exchange rate hit is having a serious impact on profitability and we also export some products to our sister

company in the UK,” says O’Donohoe. He remains confident that despite potential obstacles, Wavin Ireland will achieve its main objective in the short and medium term, continue to meet future demand and provide a high quality service to customers. This is very much tied into investment plans over the next 5 years, according to O’Donohoe. The emphasis which Wavin places on innovation and new product development has been a key factor in the company’s success. Wavin was established as the result of an innovation on PVC pipe systems for drinking water. Today that heritage of innovation is stronger than ever. In flood prevention they have just added to their Stormwater Management solutions by launching the Q-Bic Plus Infiltration/Attenuation System which with a 70% open floor area with lateral and vertical access and wide bi-directional channels allows easy deployment of inspection and cleaning equipment and its modular system gives flexibility in tank orientation and layout and is most especially fast and easy to install. Early in 2017 the company plans to launch its QuickStream Siphonic Drainage System for roofs, which provides a rainwater harvesting solution that is primarily aimed at commercial and industrial property owners. This system has several advantage over traditional gravity drainage: pipe sizes are smaller because the water is channelled through pipes without air, so installation costs are reduced, and the system also allows lateral pipework to be installed without a gradient, further optimising available space. In terms of services, Wavin Ireland will also shortly be launching a full BIM suite (Building Information Modelling) covering the entire Above Ground portfolio. According to O’Donohoe, BIM is sweeping across Europe and is gaining enormous adoption in Ireland, driven by a dedicated National BIM Council. “This is good for the construction industry and it is good for companies like Wavin,” he says. “We are making a huge investment in BIM to ensure that we have BIM-compatible drawings for all Wavin products.” There are also a number of measures which the Government could undertake in order to help accelerate growth in the industry and O’Donohoe believes greater urgency is required in kick-starting the social housing programme. “In terms of a jab in the arm, the government needs to push on and actually start its social housing programme and not just confine it to another shelved strategy document as in the past,” he says. However, he is happy to credit the Government for what he describes as “a large body of superb work” which was done in updating the Building Control Regulations in 2010. “The government needs to drive 100% adoption and enforcement of these regulations, particularly if the well-known legacy issues of the past are not to come back in relation to pyrite, fire safety and other issues.”

in the arm, the

government needs to push on and

actually start its social housing

programme and

not just confine it to another

shelved strategy document as in the past.

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The Sammon Group Building The Future This year the Sammon Group celebrates its thirtieth anniversary and is looking forward to further cementing its reputation as one of the most respected building contractors in the country with an impressive portfolio of high quality projects. In 2016 the Sammon Group celebrates 30 years in the construction industry and are proud to look back on their achievements over this time. As an organisation, the Sammon Group has emerged from our recent recession with an enthusiasm reminiscent of its early years in business. Their clear determination to establish themselves firmly in the top ten building contractors in Ireland shows a clarity of vision that is rare in their industry. They bring with them both the experience and the skillset which allows them to deliver top quality projects throughout Ireland. Currently, the company has ongoing projects in Dublin, Carlow, Meath, Wicklow, Wexford, Cork, Offaly, Laois, Sligo and Mayo, which encompass a variety of sectors including Commercial developments, Education, Fit-out etc. The Sammon Group was established in Ireland in 1986 as a joinery and interiors company and is currently comprised of a building contracting company, a joinery facility and more recently a windows production facility. All three areas of the business are based at their Head Quarters in Kilcock, Co. Kildare where they have modern office accommodation & meeting facilities, a dedicated joinery workshop and a windows production facility. Sammon also has an office based in London, UK where they have a developing market. The Sammon Group’s contracting operations provide high quality design & build, main contracting, interior fit-out and project management services to their public and private sector clients throughout Europe. With their expanding operations, global experience and local knowledge, the Sammon Group is fully committed to maintaining the highest international standards of Health & Safety, Quality, Environmental systems and CSR at all levels of their organisation. The company’s strong commitment to traditional craftsmanship and detail oriented work continue to be prominent drivers for them today and for the future.

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PPP’s & Partnerships: Key to the Sammon Group’s continued growth is its ability to investigate new and developing markets while continuing to provide an outstanding service to existing clients in the education sector. The company’s recent partnership with the UK construction giant Carillion plc under the name Inspired Spaces will see the Sammon Group delivering 6 educational buildings within the PPP Schools Bundle 5 Framework. This €100M package will see the first of these educational establishments delivered by September 2017. Under the PPP Schools Bundle 5, the Sammon Group will deliver 5 new School Buildings and 1 Institute of Technology each built in the Rapid School Build Format. In Carlow, the project includes a Vocational School and an Institute of Education, in Kells the project includes the Eureka


Public Sector Magazine

Much of their strength comes from their highly skilled and internationally experienced team members. The Sammon Group are committed to employing candidates who understand their vision and who work to support their values in every aspect of their roles. Secondary School, in Wexford the project includes the Loreto College and in Bray the project includes Colaíste Rathín and St Philomena’s Primary School. Each of these projects are key developments in their communities, most having patiently awaiting funding and planning for several years. There is a strong design element to each of these school buildings, ensuring that the schools provided are not just fit for purpose but also provide a bright and modern space for the children to learn within. The Sammon Group’s vast experience in the delivery of educational establishments allows them to ensure the timely delivery of such projects ensuring the best possible learning environment for the next generation.

Recent Projects: The Sammon Group has a strong history of successfully delivering quality projects within deadline and on budget. While known as the go to providers of educational establishments, their portfolio in reality covers a much wider range of industry sectors. Their work on Haughton House at Dublin Zoo and the One Building on Grand Canal Street emphasised their ability to work with specialist projects and to successfully deliver complex restoration projects while remaining true to the buildings essence. The Sammon Group recently began work on two IDA

sites one in Mayo and the other in Sligo, showing their ability to bring their expertise to a wide variety of sectors. These particular developments will involve the construction of two new c.3,000M2 two-storey Advance Technology buildings with an expected completion date of November 2016.

Talent Acquisition: The Sammon Group manages to offer a portfolio of capabilities encompassing design and build, project management, glazing and joinery, serving a wide range of market segments. Much of their strength comes from their highly skilled and internationally experienced team members. The Sammon Group are committed to employing candidates who understand their vision and who work to support their values in every aspect of their roles. The Group employees over 100 full-time employees, including engineers, project managers, quantity surveyors, planners etc. During the past year the company’s work force has strengthened with the expansion of their on-site teams, their procurement division, their finance division and their senior management team. These recent acquisitions of talent have further strengthened the Sammon Group team seeing them ideally placed to continue to grow and develop their market presence both in Ireland and Europe.

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Begining to Build Big increase in number of homes built in main cities

The number of new homes completed in the first seven months of this year has increased by almost 15% on the same period last year. Figures released from the Department of Housing show 7,752 new homes were completed between January and July of this year - an increase of over 1,000 units. The figures also show that new home builds have increased significantly in the main cities of Dublin, Cork and Galway.

CALLING ENGINEERS Ireland could face persistent housing shortages unless the supply of engineers catches up with demand, Engineers Ireland has warned. While welcoming the general upward trend in demand for engineering-related courses as the first-round of CAO offers go out to students tomorrow, Engineers Ireland Registrar Damien Owens stressed that for significant infrastructure initiatives like the new Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness to succeed, Ireland needed to produce more engineers at a quicker rate. Owens, a Chartered Engineer, said: “The upturn in student interest in construction-related courses is extremely positive, but the economic demand for engineering skills in this area continues to totally outstrip supply. To really progress Government projects like the Housing Plan and the Local Infrastructure Fund, Ireland must rapidly increase the rate at which we are producing engineers to make these housing ambitions a reality in the coming years.” The Housing Plan has targeted building 25,000 new homes annually over the next six years and the supply of an additional 47,000 social housing units. In civil and environmental engineering disciplines however, the number of honours third-level graduates next year will be down to less than 10% of the 2014 number, and it is expected that there will be no building services graduates at all.

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These areas have experienced the most substantial increase in house prices in recent years and in many cases first time buyers are being priced out of the market in major urban areas while tenants are facing exorbitant rental charges. While the figures demonstrate an increase in overall home completions they also confirm that the recovery in the construction sector is far more apparent in the main urban centres.

In order to future-proof the country’s sustainable economic growth, we need to concertedly build on the renewed student interest in engineering,” Owens said. “Rigorously trained and creative engineers are vital to achieving a knowledge-based, sustainable future for Ireland. Government needs to work with industry to incentivise more students to choose engineering as a career and to help them navigate their way through the various training and education routes available such as third-level, apprenticeships and further skills-based training. Furthermore, engineering is a truly global profession that often involves building experience overseas, so the career possibilities are truly endless. Engineers Ireland has also previously expressed concern regarding the high dropout rate in engineering-related subjects at third-level. Latest figures show that one-in-six new entrants to third-level is failing to progress on to the second year, with an even higher dropout rate for engineering degree programmes according to the HEA. Owens concluded: “Syllabus change and the reintroduction of bonus points for higher-level maths in schools has helped boost take-up and interest in engineering, but a disparity between what students learn in school and their college experience is a major concern. It is vital that we actually convert the renewed interest in maths and engineeringrelated third-level courses into the adequate supply of skilled engineers and labourers that the economy so badly needs.


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The figures reveal that some 2,254 apartments and houses were completed across the four main local authority areas in the capital during the first seven months of the year - representing an increase of 42.6%. The most significant increase occurred in Dublin city which saw 595 new home completions - amounting to an increase 71%. Dublin city was followed by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, where there was a 45% increase and a total of 584 units built. Elsewhere, 909 new units were completed in Fingal - representing an increase of 37%. South Dublin was the only area which saw a reduction in new home completions - down to 166 news units amounting to a fall of just over 1%. Although the increase in new home completions has been welcomed, the figures remain far below the levels required to accommodate demand. According to the Housing Agency, there are almost 10,000 new units a year required across the country. New housing completions have also increased in Cork where total numbers are up 29% to 927. In the city they increased by 57% to 184 and by 24% to 743 throughout the rest of the county. In Galway, 428 units were finished in the first eight months of the year but just 428 units were completed in the city, the same number as last year. Construction volumes also increased in Limerick where 242 new homes were completed, up 7.6% on last year. In Waterford, home completions were down 9.2% to 168 units. The number of new homes delivered fell in twelve local authority areas with the most significant decline occurring in Offaly where 82 new homes were finished - a decline of 33% on last year. There was also a significant decline in County Carlow where new home completions fell by 31% to 69 units. There was also a decline in new homes delivered in Mayo (down 12% to 203) and Tipperary (down 11% to 186). News was mixed in the Dublin commuter belt. Completions are up 46% in Meath to 358 and in Kildare by 2% to 408, but they fell in Louth (down 19% to 190) and Wicklow (down 5.8% to 226). The fewest number of new homes were delivered in Monaghan at 76 units and the highest number were completed in Final at 909.

BUDGET RESPONSE TO HOUSING CRISIS Property Industry Ireland (PII), the Ibec group for businesses working in the property sector, welcomes the housing measures in today’s Budget announcement. Tom Phillips, Chairman of PII said: “A key concern about the housing market in recent years has been the lack of supply. The “Help-to-Buy” scheme for first-time buyers should encourage the new build of homes. Higher levels of supply are vital to ensure we move towards a properly functioning housing market.” Dr. David Duffy, Director, Property Industry Ireland, added “We view the “Help-to-Buy” scheme as having a positive impact on the viability of future housing supply. Property Industry

Ireland also welcomes the steps taken to improve the attractiveness for landlords of the private rented sector. “The continued commitment to the delivery of social housing is welcome. PII looks forward to engaging with Government on implementing the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing and Homelessness.”

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Squaring the Circle Justin O’Brien, Chief Executive of housing agency Circle VHA talks to Public Sector Magazine about the scale of the housing and homelessness crisis and the policy options which can best address the problem.

“Some of the critical policy instruments that could enable a more sustainable housing framework is having a site tax on unused land and the immediate commencement of the vacant site levy rather than delaying its introduction to 2018.”

Justin O’Brien, Chief Executive, Circle VHA.

Can you convey a sense of how serious the housing and homelessness crisis has become and describe the impact it is having on Irish society? “The major urban areas such as Dublin, Cork, Galway are confronted with a severe housing problem which is primarily the lack of a supply of affordable new housing. This adversely impacts on the affordability and supply of private rented accommodation which has negative societal effects in diverse ways. The most visible expression of this is the absolute increase in the scale of homelessness for families and children to over 1,000 families and near 2,000 children in the Dublin area where the provision of acceptable forms of emergency accommodation are stretched to capacity. Another effect of the lack of affordable housing supply is that private rented accommodation rents have increased significantly

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in the past 2 years which is making these urban areas very expensive for new industries and inward migration. The supply of new housing is lagging behind the structural demand for such housing. This is in total contrast to 2000-2008 period when the supply of new housing was far in excess of structural demand and thus a property market collapse was created.” We appear to be stuck in a cycle of low housing output, escalating building costs, soaring house and rental prices and an unprecedented number of people being forced into homelessness. Surely, the government ought to have anticipated the risks of such a scenario and taken the necessary steps to avert it? “The economic and housing market collapse from 2008 onwards has had enormous adverse effects on every


Public Sector Magazine

household in the country with unemployment, loss of income, mortgage indebtedness, bank debt related to property debt, emigration, the collapse of the construction industry and the loss of a skilled workforce. The last Government focussed its attention on the creation of employment and it was reasonably successful in reducing the scale of unemployment. The housing situation in terms of addressing mortgage debt, planning for the supply of new housing in the major urban areas was not addressed. Thus the supply of new affordable housing and the increased scale of homelessness became a significant issue in the last general election.”

in this country and successive Governments have ignored the recommendations of the Judge Kenny Report of 1974. Tax incentive schemes for developments introduced in the 1980s to 2007 period were misused and distorted the housing market -witness the scale of construction in the Letrim/ Roscommon areas ten years ago which were based on Section 23 tax incentive schemes without any relationship to local housing need. The other policy issue is to have a serious consideration of the changing demographics and household formation in the country which is now close to the European average which has significant for new construction unit types.”

What, in your view, are the critical policy measures which need to be undertaken to create a sustainable, long term housing solution, which meets the needs of all sections of our community? “I think the extent of the problem is now recognised by the new Government and housing and homelessness is now deemed to be a major priority. This is clear as per the launching of the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan. Some of the critical policy instruments that could enable a more sustainable housing framework is having a site tax on unused land and the immediate commencement of the vacant site levy rather than delaying its introduction to 2018. Land costs have always been an inflationary factor in construction costs

What is your view of ‘Housing Action Plan’ and the overall approach and policy measures being adopted by Government to confront the crisis? “The Housing Action Plan is to be welcomed in terms of its ambition to provide 47,000 social housing units, to reduce the scale of homelessness and to build more new homes. The Government has committed €5.35bn to social housing which is to be welcomed. However, both local authorities and the voluntary social housing sector has to construct 26,000 new units and acquire another 21,000 units via acquisitions and leasing in the next 5 years. The social housing providers have to gear up to this new scale of construction.

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The weakness in the Rebuilding Ireland Plan is whether the private construction industry will provide the required scale of affordable new housing and to date they have not greatly increased the scale of their output. This will impact adversely on the social housing targets and the provision of new affordable housing for first time buyers.“ How important a role is NAMA playing in contributing to a resolution of the housing crisis? “NAMA in the previous social housing plan has been mandated to provide 20,000 new units in the Dublin area and they have the required land banks and capital to undertake this scale of provision. A key issue here is the affordability of these units.” How has the crisis impacted on your own organisation and how are you responding to meet the escalating demand for your services? “The housing crisis has impacted upon Circle VHA in terms of increased housing demand from people in housing need. Our ambition is to increase the scale of our social housing from 1,000 units to 2,000 units by 2020. We have to enhance our organisational capacity to undertake this scale of development. The provision of land sites by State bodies is essential for the achievement of this objective.” Is there a co-operative approach among the housing agencies in relation to developing a sustainable solution to the issue? “Under Rebuilding Ireland there are defined governance structures and partnerships between the key stakeholders such as DHPLG, LAs, ICSH, Construction Industry, Housing Agency which are working together to achieve the objectives and targets of Rebuilding Ireland. These structure are welcomed and the ICSH actively participates in these structures. The role of the housing association sector is recognised and we are expected to provide 15,000 new social housing units.” What are you key objectives at the present time? “For Circle VHA, our most critical objectives are to maintain the

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“Tax incentive schemes for developments introduced in the 1980s to 2007 period were misused and distorted the housing market -witness the scale of construction in the Letrim/Roscommon areas ten years ago which were based on Section 23 tax incentive schemes without any relationship to local housing need.” quality of our existing housing management services where we achieved a 93% satisfaction rating from our tenants in 2015 and to increase the scale of our social housing provision. Our mission is “to deliver quality homes and services in partnership with our tenants and local services and to create sustainable communities. We believe that the provision of good quality housing is a foundation for families and individuals which allows adults and children to grow and develop their capacity in parenting, education, work, leisure activities and community contribution. The provision of good quality housing should allow each person to find their space where their potential can be achieved and where they can make a difference for themselves and others.”


Making a difference by providing quality homes for people in housing need Circle VHA’s mission is to deliver quality homes and services in partnership with our tenants and local services to create sustainable communities 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 Voluntary Housing Association 32 - 34 Castle Street, Dublin 2. Tel: 01-4072110 Fax: 01-4792356 Email: info@circlevha.ie


Public Sector Magazine

Homes Wanted John O’Connor, Chief Executive of the Housing Agency talks to Frank Collins about the urgent need to deliver more affordable housing. John O’Connor is a structural engineer with a wide range of experience in both the private and public sector. He has extensive experience in the development, provision and direct delivery of housing, particularly in the areas of social housing, affordable housing and regeneration projects. John was previously the Chief Executive of the Affordable Homes Partnership and prior to that Executive Manager with Dublin City Council’s Housing Department. John is the Chief Executive of the Housing Agency which is a statutory body set up under the aegis of the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (DHPLG). The Agency works closely with the DHPLG to support the implementation of the Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan for Housing

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and Homelessness and the Social Housing Strategy 2020. John chaired the Advisory Group for Government on Unfinished Housing Developments and is currently chair of a Working Group on dealing with vacant homes nationally. Speaking to Frank Collins, Public Sector Magazine, John outlined his commitments and challenges in the Housing Agency

Housing Agency role The Housing Agency focuses on the delivery and management of housing, delivery of technical and procurement services (including management of the pyrite remediation scheme), housing people with disabilities, and housing research.


Public Sector Magazine

“Our overall aim is that housing is affordable, whether people are renting or buying, and to make sure they have good communities to live in.” Our main role is to support local authorities, approved housing bodies, and the Department in the supply of housing and management of houses generally.

Local Authorities & Approved Housing Bodies The Agency was established to provide local authorities and approved housing bodies with high quality advice and support on the delivery of housing and housing services. “We deal with the day to day issues in relation to managing existing housing, and providing housing support for those who need it. We provide support to the delivery of housing generally. We assess funding applications from approved housing bodies if they are building or acquiring housing.

Interim Regulator The Housing Agency also acts as interim regulator for the approved housing body sector. “We act as the interim regulator of the approved housing bodies that provide social housing, in addition to provision by local authorities. The main focus of this regulation is on governance, financial capacity and performance,”

Research “We undertake a large body of research on all aspects of housing. We are presently completing an annual report on housing supply and demand; undertaking research on vacant housing Ireland; an assessment of social housing needs and the number of households nationally seeking housing support. We have just completed a detailed report on housing for older people, thinking ahead on the needs we have to meet in the future. In the last ten years, there has been a 40% increase in our population of people aged 75 years and over.

Mental Health “Working with the HSE, we are publishing a very important publication in November, Design for Mental Health – Housing Design Guidelines. It is the first publication of its type dealing with design for mental health in housing that has been produced worldwide.

Buying of Properties from Banks and other Financial Institutions The Housing Agency is to acquire on behalf of approved housing bodies and local authorities under the Rebuilding Ireland Housing Action Plan 1,600 apartments and houses over the next 3 years “These 1,600 houses and apartments have been mainly acquired from banks and other financial institutions, which were buy-to-let properties, for the use of social housing. Separately, we have just completed the acquisition, by approved housing bodies and local authorities, of 2,300 properties from

NAMA’s portfolio across the country, for social housing.”

Mortgage arrears “We work with people in mortgage arrears which continues to be a huge issue. We were involved with the introduction of the ‘Mortgage to Rent Scheme’, which we coordinate nationally. We also John O’Connor, Chief Executive of the Housing Agency work with people with all types of disability, physical intellectual or mental health, in housing provision.”

Pyrite Remediation Scheme The Pyrite Remediation Scheme has been set up to remediate dwellings that have been significantly damaged as a result of pyritic heave caused by the swelling of hardcore under ground floor slabs. “We undertake remediation of houses damaged by pyrite. There are many dwellings in Dublin, Meath and surrounding areas where over 10,000 homes have been damaged.”

Vacant Housing “According to the 2016 Census, there are nearly 200,000 vacant homes on a national basis, excluding holiday homes. We are focused on getting a percentage of these dwellings back into use. In addition to new supply of housing, it is important we make use of some of these vacant homes.”

Biggest Challenges? “The biggest challenge we have had since the economic crash is that we need to get building again! We stopped building houses completely. We need to get unfinished housing completed, utilise vacant housing and get back on course building both private and social housing again. “Between mortgage arrears and restructured mortgages affecting over 100,000 households. We, as a society, need to assist these households dealing with mortgage issues and get a long term resolution.” “In the Dublin housing market, we are facing a major problem in the lack of housing available in the rental market which is causing a serious increase in the number of homeless families. We have seen a welcome increase in economic growth in the Dublin region, but this has put great pressure on the availability of rental properties.”

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Public Sector Magazine

“We need to start building again”

- John O’Connor, Chief Executive of the Housing Agency

Banks Role “Banks need to continue to supporting customers in mortgage arrears. A level of debt write off should be granted, for homes in negative equity, where doing so would make repayments in the long-term. On a separate matter, properties in bank loan portfolios that are repossessed or put into receivership need to be brought back into use as quickly as possible. “Banks need to supply finance in terms of purchasing houses, providing development finance and they need to resolve these ‘credit issues’ and get back into the business that they do best ...finance & banking.”

Rebuilding Ireland Action Plan Working? “A big plus is that the Action Plan has got broad support across all political parties. It’s good that the Plan identifies the main housing challenges. Firstly, addressing homelessness. Secondly, increasing social housing supply to meet people’s needs. Thirdly, increasing the overall supply of housing. Getting the overall housing market working again. Fourthly, focusing on rental market where 30% of residents nationally rent their homes and in the cities this figure rises to 50%. Finally, utilising existing vacant housing. “What is most important now is that this government

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and future governments keep these objectives to the fore and that everyone works together to implement the Action Plan. We know what the challenges are and now we must work on actively addressing these.”

Proactively support the provision of housing “Local authorities play a key role as they are the planning authority and the housing authorities. In the provision of housing and building communities, the local authority contribution is critical. “Local authorities could further assist housing by proactively supporting the provision of housing, whether private or public developments. If they could see their role as actually promoting developments, in addition to their role of ensuring the development is done right! “Local authorities also need to recognise the importance of the rental sector. Many families rent their homes. We need to support that through the planning system and the housing system at local authority level. “It is also vital that we recognise the importance in the provision of houses for people with disabilities and the growing issues of providing housing for older people, ensuring that it is integrated as part of all housing developments.”


Our vision is to enable everyone to live in good quality, affordable homes in sustainable communities. Contact: 53 Mount Street Upper, Dublin 2, DO2 KT73. Tel: +353 1 656 4100 info@housingagency.ie @HousingAgencyIE


Public Sector Magazine

FDI Strategy Next phase of FDI policy must be based on talent, technology, sectors and great places to live. Ireland must improve its offering to multinational companies in the four crucial areas of talent, technology, sectors and providing great places to live and work if we are to sustain and build on current levels of FDI job-creation over the remainder of the decade, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD said at the launch of his Department’s Policy Statement on Foreign Direct Investment in Ireland. The policy document covers the period 2015-2020. Minister Bruton has requested IDA Ireland to prepare a new strategy on multinational investment in Ireland to 2020, following on from their previous strategy which runs to 2014, outlining a series of targets for jobs, investments and regions and how they will be delivered. Development of this strategy, which will draw on the principles set out in today’s policy statement, has already commenced and will be spearheaded by incoming CEO Martin Shanahan. The recent policy statement finds that competition for mobile multinational investment has increased dramatically in recent years. It finds that many more countries now possess the basic conditions to attract investments – in areas like cost competitiveness, competitive taxation regimes and effective investment promotion agencies. Its key finding is that therefore, in order to compete effectively for mobile investment, Ireland must not only maintain high performance and compete strongly in traditional areas like tax and cost competitiveness, but crucially differentiate itself in other ways. The key areas identified by the FDI policy statement are: 1. Talent – Ireland must seek to become renowned internationally for the higher-order abilities of our workforce, in terms of problem-solving, creativity, design-thinking and adaptability. Ireland must be internationally known for developing and nurturing talent at all skill levels and as an attractive destination for internationally mobile skilled people. 2. Technology – we cannot be world-leaders in all areas, but Ireland must achieve a record of world-leading research and innovation in key areas in close cooperation with industry. 3. Great places to live and work – we must deliver a choice of attractive locations for investment. We must play to the strengths of our different regions, and provide regional locations that can offer sectoral strengths, collaboration with education institutions and Irish companies, excellent infrastructure and quality of life. A vibrant capital city with a smart business and living environment hosting a dynamic startup community alongside corporate heavyweights will always be a core element of our offering. 4. Sectors – we must effectively identify and pursue opportunities in sectors where Ireland can attract investments and jobs – both adapt quickly and take leadership position in emerging areas and consolidate our strengths in existing areas of strength and; we should implement a more systematic

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approach to sector development, including the appointment of specific Cluster Development Managers/Teams. Delivery in these areas will depend not only on the performance of the Department of Jobs and its Enterprise Agencies, but crucially on other bodies including education, transport, planning, environment and justice organisations. The Action Plan for Jobs mechanism, which coordinates the delivery of job-creation policy by all 16 Government Departments and a wide range of Agencies, will be crucial in delivering this. Publishing the statement, Minister Bruton said: “The past three and a half years have been extremely successful for Ireland in attracting multinational investment. Following a difficult number of years up to 2010, in the three years 20112013 we attracted an average of more than 6,000 extra jobs per year and tributes are due in particular to IDA Ireland for this performance. The indications from the first six months of this year are that investments are up significantly even on the high levels achieved in the same period in 2013. The impact of this is clear when we bear in mind that for every 10 jobs created in multinational companies, an additional 7 jobs are created elsewhere in the local economy, primarily in supply and service companies. “While things are improving, we still have very high unemployment and we have set ourselves ambitious targets for job-creation, including replacing all the jobs that were lost in the crisis by 2020. Multinational companies have a crucial part to play in this, and the policy statement is the first stage in preparing our FDI structures to deliver their part in that.”


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