• Funding Essential to Fully Reopen Schools
    Parents for Change is a grassroots activist group helping parents assert their voice in Irish society. The right to education is at the forefront of our constitution. Schools are important for the social, emotional and educational development of our children. Schools also provide the economic benefit of stable and cost-effective childcare in a society with a desperately inadequate childcare system. There has been a glaring omission in the roadmap to opening Irish society: schools. There are less than 7 weeks left until the start of the next educational term, yet there is no definitive plan for the education of our children. If the rest of Irish society can open safely, then so too can our schools, with the proper planning and investment. Other countries have shown us that this can be done safely and current HSE research suggests that schools are not a high risk setting for Covid 19. Where there is political will, there is a way. Parents are no longer willing or able to juggle working from home, caring for children and home schooling. Parents accepted this as an emergency measure, but this is no longer acceptable. Plans for blended learning are not a sustainable option for parents or children. The Covid 19 crisis has highlighted many inadequacies in the Irish educational system: years of systemic underfunding; poor pupil/teacher ratios (one of the highest in the OECD); poor school infrastructure including small classrooms; the use of prefabs and no hot water etc. The Department of Education needs to show decisive leadership on the issue of schools reopening fully. Schools cannot operate in a vacuum and direction must come from the top down. Parents for Change supports teachers, principals and teachers’ unions in their drive to open schools safely and are therefore advocating for immediate funding packages to be made available. If funding is in place schools can: · Open fully in September 2020. · Hire more teachers/SNAs to reduce class sizes and allow for social distancing. · Use substitute teachers to fill in for staff absences due to Covid or other illnesses. · Build temporary or permanent structures on school grounds to allow for smaller classes/social distancing. · Hire alternative venues for classes to allow for social distancing (local sports clubs etc). · Hire more cleaners. · Improve cleaning and hygiene standards, including availability of hot water. · Provide face coverings if age appropriate. · Implement strong policies on personal responsibility and sickness within the school community. · Arrange staggered pick up and drop off times for pupils. · Provide safe school transportation. · Provide technology to pupils where necessary to allow them to participate in online learning if in social isolation/quarantine. · Provide extra support for vulnerable children where there might be limited capacity for teaching in the home and ensure they are not left behind. If blended learning is used, it must be for short, specific time periods (e.g. educating children during social isolation/quarantine). Parents need to be able to access government funded paid leave from work during this period and the government must negotiate this with employers. Schools, ECL and childcare are the bedrock of the economy and should be treated like frontline, essential services. Without them, parents cannot participate in the economic recovery of our country. We must invest now in education both for the health of our economy and our nation. We cannot afford not to. Please sign our petition.
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    Created by Jane Toolan
  • Prioritise school re-openings in September 2020
    Remote learning is not a feasible long term substitute to in-school education. Re-opening of schools should be prioritised over the aviation and tourism industries.
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    Created by Molly Hurley
  • Reopen gates in Phoenix Park
    Update: OPW have released this. All gates bar Knockmaroon open from Friday July 10th. Knockmaroon will open when works completed. Truly hope lessons can be learned from this and all stakeholders are considered in future planning. Thank you all for your support!! https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=3500180506661143&id=132971523382075&anchor_composer=false Phoenix Park is a worldclass amenity to the people who live nearby, on day trips, and tourists alike. The decision to only have 2 gates open to vehicular traffic is seriously restricting access to the park. Traffic volumes are increasing now that we are coming out of lockdown. Congestion in the surrounding areas is already a huge issue. This will only increase with these access routes cut off without an alternative solution. It can now take up to an hour to get from one end of the park to the other ; particularly at weekends with increased demand for the Zoo, Farmleigh and the Visitor Centre. Engine emissions from cars sitting on Chesterfield Avenue must surely be offsetting any potential environmental gain. Parts of the Park will become no go areas due to their isolation. There are no plans for an increased OPW presence with the gate closures. This decision seems to have been rushed through with little forward thinking and engagement with local communities. Give the park back to the people and then work on alternatives to reduce car traffic.
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    Created by Alison Reynolds
  • Stronger Regulations for Airbnb
    Airbnb is a a major factor on homelessness. As Airbnb is so unregulated many landlords are evicting tenants to turn their premises into nightly lets. This is causing the massive reduction of properties available in the private rental market. Therefore pushing up the cost of rents. The People of Ireland are living in hotels and B&Bs while the tourists are living in the houses. Until this sector is regulated and the rules enforced this will continue to happen. Covid 19 has highlighted this, we saw 1000s and 1000s of houses lying empty because travel restrictions. I am urging the Government to do someting about this once and for all.
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    Created by Caroline Neill Picture
  • Maintain Children's Voices at the Cabinet Table
    #TheDCYAMustStay It is welcome that in the proposed Programme for Government the DCYA appears to be included. It is imperative that DCYA is retained, and the proper support and budget requirements that would allow the Department to fulfil it's duties and responsibilities to children are provided. Children need a strong voice in government now more than ever. Children are one of the most vulnerable groups in society. There are more than 1.25 million children and young people in Ireland. That represents 25% of our population. Children have suffered hugely during Covid—19. They have experienced worry and loss in many ways: illness/death of loved ones, parental unemployment, school closure, transitions and rites of passage have been abruptly cancelled, interrupted friendships, loss of the freedom to be a child, new stress and worry, and much more. Some of these children will need extra support to help them deal with what they’ve experienced. For some there will be difficulties with addressing the future and adapting to the new and unexpected world that lies ahead. Some will have suffered abuse, neglect, domestic violence and other trauma behind closed doors as their family struggles to survive, and many live without the safe space provided by trusted adults in their extended family, schools, sports clubs, and community services. Prior to the Covid 19 emergency government figures indicated that 11% or 134,000 children and young people lived in consistent poverty, for example not owning a warm winter coat or being able to heat their home adequately. 3,555 children and young people faced day to day difficulties living in homeless accommodation and another 1,674 in direct provision accommodation. Many parents had difficulty accessing readily available and appropriate mental health or disability services for their children and teenagers. Additionally many parents were struggling with the cost of quality child care and afterschool care. These worries and concerns haven’t gone away. We need a minister focused on children and young people at the cabinet table to continue to develop our children’s services and bring children’s voices to discussions and decisions. We are deeply concerned about the possibility that the functions of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) may be carved up, subsumed, or amalgamated with other departments in the next government. We are concerned about the possible downgrading of the key role of Minister for Children, and the danger that this will again take us backwards in a history that has not always treated children well. 2011 brought hope for children, with the appointment of the first full ministerial appointment dedicated to the children of Ireland and the establishment of the DCYA. In November 2012, the referendum on the rights of the child resulted in the addition of Article 42A to the Irish Constitution, placing an emphasis in law on the best interests of the child. The establishment of the new Child and Family Agency in 2014 saw the separation of the business of looking after children from the delivery of health services. There was hope that we were awakening from our historical past of disregard for children, their rights, voice and visibility in society and public policy. There was hope that this would be the foundation for ‘brighter and better futures’ for the children of Ireland. We need a Minister for Children who will continue the work to ensure that services supporting children and young people’s well-being, welfare and protection are properly resourced. The DCYA has undertaken so much necessary work since its establishment, work that has positively impacted on children’s lives in this country. There remains so much more to achieve going forward if we are to tackle issues such as child poverty, child and family homelessness, equal access to services, proper health provision, protection and welfare of children, and deliver a fair and equitable Ireland for all our children.
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    Created by Aoife Bairéad
  • CHANGE THE COUNT! Everyone deserves a decent place to live! #home4all
    What will be the future of our children? By 2030, 1 out of 4 people will live in poor housing conditions. The fast-moving challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic adds another urgent reason to ensure that people can shelter at home and protect their health and families. In Europe today, young people cannot afford to rent a flat in many cities; and a growing number of families cannot pay their heating and cooling bills. Globally, more than half of the urban population lives in slums. Proper housing is a matter of life and death in the current pandemic as people are asked to stay at home to protect themselves against the coronavirus. Home has become more important than ever, and the European Union has a role to play. Join Habitat for Humanity and partner organizations all over Europe in calling on the EU to: · Prioritize affordable housing in the next EU budget for 2021-27, particularly for countries in the global South. · Increase funding for access to water and sanitation and for slum upgrading to protect communities against diseases. · Address energy poverty in the European Green Deal with concrete financial measures. Situation Many countries are unprepared and unable to meet the growing housing needs of urban residents. The expected global population increase of 1,18 billion combined with the existing global housing need, means that approximately 2 billion people will be in need of adequate housing in 2030. This creates an unprecedented housing challenge. Without adequate and affordable housing; without land rights, more and more families are at risk of poverty and insecurity. The current coronavirus pandemic has highlighted importance of housing as the means of protection against deadly diseases. A proper home has become the most important remedy. But it is not accessible to all. Habitat for Humanity works for access to decent housing because it is foundational to individuals and families, to the communities in which we live and to the economies in which we all participate.
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    Created by Michaela Klakurková
  • Free School Meals for Children in Northern Ireland
    The Minister for Education has said the money is not available for 97,000 children in Northern Ireland to continue getting free school meals over the summer. Boris Johnson has just U-turned and announced free school meals over the summer for eligible children in England. Scotland and Wales have similar schemes in place. Say no to #holidayhunger
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    Created by Nicola Browne
  • Stand with the brave Reilly women
    This is the statement made by the family who are asking for our support "We have all been living through our own personal hell. We are relieved that justice has been done and that the crimes committed against us as children are no longer hidden or denied by anybody. No more needs to be said about the hell we have lived through and somehow survived. But more does need to be said about how it was allowed to happen. We are left with many questions, and we need answers. Where were the different parts of the state when we as vulnerable and defenceless children needed protection? How could schools, social workers, medical professionals and all the other people who had a so-called ‘duty of care’ turn their back and look the other way – time after time as the evidence was piling up and hitting them in the face? We were vulnerable Traveller children, forced to live on the edges of Irish society, already looked down, discriminated against and denied our basic human rights. Does this denial of our rights extend also to the right to protection and welfare as children? Would the same state neglect, the same agreement that nobody should say a word, the same ability to turn the blind eye have been evident if this had been a respected settled family in Ireland? God knows we know that what we had to suffer could have happened in any family in Ireland. But we also know that the response of the state would have been different and there is a good chance that much of the suffering could have been spared or avoided. We are asking you not to ask ‘how could this happen in a Traveller family’. Do ask ‘how could this happen in any family? But also ask ‘were we not protected because we were Travellers?" Tipperary Rural Travellers Project publicly state our support for the Reilly family in the wake of the court judgement that found their father guilty of rape and sexual assault of his sister and seven daughters. We cannot even begin to imagine the pain and trauma the family has endured, and we want also to commend the Reilly women in the courage, determination and humanity they have shown under such terrible circumstances. We sincerely hope that their courage can provide some inspiration and encouragement for others who suffer abuse and trauma from such circumstances. https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/ireland/sexual-abuse-victims-ask-were-they-less-protected-because-they-were-travellers-1005362.html
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    Created by Margaret Casey
  • Put Anti-Racism Education on the Curriculum
    Children as young as six years old often show prejudiced attitudes towards people of other ethnic groups. This is especially true with White children who tend to display more racial bias than other groups. Racially-biased children may grow up to be prejudiced adults and this contributes to racism in our society. Children will "naturally" grow up to be non-racist adults only when they live in a non-racist society. Until then, adults must guide children's antiracist development. It is therefore incredibly important that education about race and racism is begun at the earliest stage possible, and continued throughout children’s time in the education system.
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    Created by Claire Brennan
  • Make Play and Leisure Spaces Accessible
    I am writing to you today as a primary school teacher, and more importantly as a mother of two young boys who are disabled. My four year old is a full-time wheelchair user and we are unsure yet as to whether his younger brother will also require a wheelchair. My boys are both bright, intelligent, inquisitive children who are highly sociable. In light of current events during this pandemic, I have seen so many parents and teachers discuss how this may impact our kids and the overwhelming consensus amongst us all have been concerns regarding the possible implications on their social development as they cannot play with their friends, explore nature, play freely and make new friends at local playgrounds etc. It has really made me stop and think as these have been ongoing concerns of mine due to our sons’ mobility needs. The truth of it is, we have found it very difficult to find playgrounds where Oscar can play. As well as not having any wheelchair friendly equipment for use, many playgrounds have completely inaccessible ground coverings like tree bark. I’m a firm believer that if I have an issue with something, I will try to offer alternative suggestions in order to help resolve said issue. A simple Google image search for ‘wheelchair friendly activities in playground’ yields a plethora of equipment that is accessible not only for users of wheelchairs, walkers and buggies, but also for children without disabilities. Slieve Gullion Forest Park is close to where we live and would be the best we have experienced. It’s not lost on me that this particular playground is in Northern Ireland, where the UK has much stricter protocol for accessible planning regulations. Within my local area in recent times, I’ve seen two new playgrounds built, one completely inaccessible to wheelchairs due to the bark surfaces and use of steep hills in its designs. It absolutely baffles me how in these times when we are seemingly a progressive country, that we completely omit the needs and right to play of a whole category of children. We teach inclusion and diversity in our schools every day, yet when this is not practised by our leaders, it is unforgiveable. We cannot accept this as an oversight any longer, we cannot accept the meagre list of accessible playgrounds dotted few and far between across the entire country. There is very little opportunity for a family to engage in a spontaneous stop-off at the playground when the statistics show that the playground will more than likely be inaccessible for the disabled child. Accessibility needs to be engrained within everything we plan for our public spaces. Untold damage is being done to our disabled children when they are being excluded and made to feel less than in their own hometowns. - Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that: “Every child is entitled to rest and play and to have the chance to join in a wide range of activities including cultural and artistic activities.” - Article 30(5d) of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states that “children with disabilities should have equal access with other children to participation in play, recreation and leisure and sporting activities, including those activities in the school system.” Outdoor natural areas are another area which raise accessible issues within the disability community. I can only speak from my own experience, as an avid nature lover and mother to two children with mobility needs. I understand that the natural world is best left to its own devices and can be highly inaccessible. However, a lot of our natural amenities that are open to the public have some sort of surface laid down as a path for the public to use. Why not go one step further and make sure that surface is also wheelchair friendly? The choice of what gravel is used can make all the difference for wheelchair users’ accessibility. The Irish Wheelchair Association has published a guide called The Great Outdoors which provides excellent detail. As an island country, our beaches are areas of beauty which everyone should be able to access, and not just from the side-lines. Beach wheelchairs are available at some sites, but not nearly enough, particularly at times of the year when they are in high demand. Availability of sand mats such as Access Trax would open up access immensely. “Foldable, lightweight, portable pathways for accessibility over outdoor terrain” would allow wheelchair users to roll right onto the beach as well as walking mobility aids, buggies and prams. - Article 30 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognises that disabled people should “Enjoy access to places for cultural performances or services, such as theatres, museums, cinemas, libraries and tourism services, and, as far as possible, enjoy access to monuments and sites of national cultural importance.” As an educator and a parent, all I want is for my children to be allowed every and equal opportunity to thrive and make their mark on the world. I am available for any discussion should you wish, but I would ask you to note that I am just one voice of many. My voice pertains to my experience as a parent of my disabled children. There are many voices of other parents , but most importantly voices of disabled adults who have lived through experiences of being excluded and treated differently and unfairly. This is only one area of accessibility we have come up against, and unfortunately, I am not naïve enough to hope that it is our last.
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    Created by Munny Hamilton
  • Save Cavan Midwifery Led Unit (MLU)
    A still unknown decision has led to the MLU in Cavan being effectively closed in all but name under the guise of a merger with the consultant-led unit. This may be the third time Cavan MLU has faced closure and the pregnant people in the area have faced limitation of their care choices. The effective closure of the Midwifery-Led Unit on Monday 1st of June 2020 and the manner in which this decision has been taken, with no public consultation or formal announcement from either Cavan General Hospital or the RSCI group, who we understand are leading of this decision, shows a clear lack of understanding to the needs of those in the surrounding area. The claim that it is not a downgrading of service provision is simply false. For all who have accessed the MLU, either as a service user, healthcare professional or student, this closure will have significant impact on practice and care provision. To our knowledge, no rationale has been given to explain the decision. National and international evidence supports the expansion of midwifery led services. Closure of the unit limits choices for pregnancy care in direct opposition of this evidence. We cannot emphasise strongly enough 1. The retrograde nature of this decision which flies in the face of all the international evidence on best birth practices 2. And which spells the death knell of the 2016 Maternity Strategy which was specifically committed to the expansion of MLUs, not their closure Our model of maternity care relies on the majority of women going through a system of GP referral to an obstetric unit or maternity hospital. Despite the National Maternity Strategy, the dominant model of care across all our 19 maternity units is a consultant-led model of care. We have only the two midwifery-led units in Ireland (Cavan and Drogheda) and midwifery clinics across the maternity system are far too few. -- In international terms, our model of maternity care does not offer women choice of models of maternity care, something the National Maternity Strategy acknowledges clearly. Indeed, the Irish model of maternity care is at odds with best international evidence on the effectiveness of models of maternity care - The 2016 National Maternity Strategy, called for many more MLUs to be built. Instead this has not only been completely stalled - its implementation committee has met only four times up to 2019 (PQ 14615-19; PQ 14616) and the budget of the strategy has been slashed - The HIQA maternity report (February 2020) highlighted the lack of progress in supported care pathways under the National Maternity Strategy The 2003 Hanly Report on medical staffing with its overall aim of increasing still further centralisation of all hospital services continues to cast a shadow over the relevance of the small Cavan MLU – which has never had the full support of senior clinical and management staff in Cavan. If it had, it would be used to capacity and would not now be ‘merged’ with the consultant-led services. Who is affected? *this is not an exhaustive list of affected groups* Pregnant people are entitled to choice in care provision. There is no evidence at present to show that this has been supported or considered in the move to close the Cavan MLU. We hope to hear from service users to determine what plans are in place for those currently booked in the unit, those who were potentially being transferred back to the service following obstetric assessment, and those who had previously or planned to access midwifery led care in Cavan. Supporting practitioners in the Cavan/Monaghan area to continue the provision of Midwifery Led Care is vital. Evidence of support and solutions offered thus far to the midwives within the unit is needed so that as a national community of professionals and experts in normal pregnancy care can come together to save Cavan MLU. Midwives are the experts in providing pregnancy care and a wealth of evidence supports this model, referred to as “supported care” in the Maternity Strategy. Student midwives who began their training from 2018 in Dundalk Institute of Technology must complete Midwifery Led Unit placement experience as a core area, a change from its specialist area status before 2018. This reflects the importance of midwifery led care experience in well rounded learning. If Cavan MLU were to close, students would be limited to the Drogheda MLU to achieve the hours in order to qualify and register as midwives. It is already difficult for these MLU hours to be achieved between two units with the number of students requiring the necessary time in midwifery led services. The limitations that this closure will place on students has immediate and long-term consequences. Students in the 2019 cohort were due to attend Cavan MLU for placement in March/April and must make up this time due to COVID19. These students are now in limbo regarding completing these hours and gaining critical core learning experience. USEFUL LINKS; National Maternity Strategy 2016-2026 >> https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/0ac5a8-national-maternity-strategy-creating-a-better-future-together-2016-2/ HIQA Maternity Services report February 2020 >> https://www.hiqa.ie/sites/default/files/2020-02/Maternity-Overview-Report.pdf HSE / TCD 2009 MidU study >> https://nursing-midwifery.tcd.ie/assets/publications/pdf/midu-report.pdf Association for Improvements in the Maternity Service Ireland - Midwifery Led Care information >> http://aimsireland.ie/midwife-led-care/#:~:text=Midwife%2Dled%20services%20for%20eligible,further%20attention%20 AIMSI “What Matters to You” Survey 2014/2015 >> http://aimsireland.ie/care-choices/ Bump2Babe – Cavan General Hospital survey answers CLU >> http://www.bump2babe.ie/all-answers/unit/0/ MLU >> http://www.bump2babe.ie/all-answers/unit/1/
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    Created by Laura Henry
  • Stop shutting out our vulnerable from our parks
    Everyone deserves to enjoy the beauty of a local park and that includes Daniel and his family. Dan has Sotos Syndrome and goes out daily with his amazing parents, Sinead and Keith for runs in his special buggy. Running the park, chatting to locals and saying hello has been a highlight, especially during C-19 as all day services etc. are closed. Now with these new gates, the Tighe family along with lots of other families are now PROHIBITED from entering our parks. This is wrong and SDCC need to remove this prison like gates and let those who are in wheelchairs etc. use the park like everyone else.
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    Created by Sue O'Grady