• Birr Primary Care Centre
    Primary Care Centre for Birr This week the HSE turned down the Rectory Field as a location for the proposed Birr Primary Care Centre. For years the HSE have been informing the people of Birr that they are committed to providing a Primary Care Centre in the town and to date nothing has happened. This weeks news has set us back to square one. Tullamore has a Primary care centre, the Primary Care Centre in Banagher is near completion so why is Birr no further on?? We need to show the HSE that the people of Birr and surrounding areas need a Primary care centre and we want the HSE to make this a priority. The HSE have given an assurance that space will be provided for the possible return of our “Out of Hours (MIDOC) “ when the Birr Primary Care Centre is built. The longer the delay the longer the wait to get our MIDOC back to BIRR. We are also asking for an “X-RAY Diagnostic Hub” in the new PCC. It is amazing how many cars travel to Tullamore by day and night for this service. We are fed up of travelling and fed up of waiting weeks to see a doctor. We urge the Minister for Health and the HSE to take immediate action on developing a primary care centre for Birr without further delay.
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    Created by Cllr Clare Claffey Picture
  • International Students Require Assistance in Ireland’s COVID-19 Response
    International students have not been adequately considered in Ireland’s COVID-19 response: - Due to closed immigration offices, some have remained stuck in Ireland for months, with unanswered emails and calls to INIS and university immigration offices (1). - In Dublin, an online renewal system that requires applicants to mail in their passports has resulted in passports lost in the mail or held up to 3 months (2). - Despite permission extensions, a valid up-to-date residence card is required to allow most non-EU international students to exit and reenter the country (1). These delays have meant that they haven’t been able to return home to care for sick family members or say goodbye to dying loved ones for fear of not being allowed to return. Heartbreaking stories of isolation, frustration, and loss currently fill the international student community. In addition, the recent ruling by the Court of Appeals (3), classifying international students who reside in Ireland for more than one year as “Ordinary Residents,” has put considerable financial burden on international students. Despite bringing in some 400 million euros to the Irish economy (4), international students are already required to pay 300 euros per year out of pocket for residency cards that must be renewed yearly. This ruling now additionally requires international students to purchase health insurance for immigration purposes costing 600+ euros per year (3, 5-7). It is illogical and excessive to classify students as Ordinary Residents and expect a yearly renewal fee - especially when students (Stamp 2) can't avail of social service benefits. Allowing international students, already dealing with family separation and heavy financial burden (1, 2, 8), to carry these burdens alone during a pandemic is unreasonable and inhumane. Irish Universities and Colleges – and the Irish Government - have a responsibility to support the students they recruit (9). We, the international students of Ireland, in conjunction with our allies, call on Helen McEntee (Department of Justice), Norma Foley (Department of Education), Simmon Harris (Department of Further Education, Research, Innovation, and Science), and Stephen Donnelly (Department of Health) to: 1.) Resolve the immigration appointment and application backlogs This could be accomplished through the implementation of a fast, secure, country-wide, fully-online renewal process. To avoid passports being lost or held for excessive periods of time, this could be accomplished via a “sticker system,” whereby applicants submit their details online and are issued a “sticker” in the mail that makes their permit valid until the COVID crisis is over. In addition to the online “sticker system,” issuing residence permits for non-EU students that last for the duration of a student’s study, as done in the United States and the Netherlands (for example), would help improve the situation; additionally, removing the yearly renewal process would help with the immigration appointment backlogs. As non-EU students are already under an obligation to report and change in details, and can only work 20 hours per week and thus would be unable to support themselves financially in Ireland’s high cost of living, there is little risk of these students using their residency cards to stay in Ireland under false pretenses. In addition, these issues have been addressed through simple mechanisms already done in other EU countries. 2.) Re-classify international students to avoid unreasonable healthcare costs Under no circumstances should students be forced to pay healthcare costs of 600+ euros following the Court of Appeal ruling (3). We therefore request that international students be declassified as Ordinary Residents. 3.) Consider international students when making policy decisions Take care to consider issues concerning international students when making future decisions regarding residency, visas, GNIB, health, housing, and the overall COVID response, to prevent further issues from arising. Sources: 1. Kenny, Aíne. “We are “cash cows” for the Irish university system, say international students.” Irish Examiner, 27 Oct 2020. 2. Surve, Aakanksha. “Ireland COVID-19 lockdown: An overwhelmed immigration system leaves hundreds in limbo,” DublinLive, 25 Oct 2020. 3. Tottenham BL, Mark. “Students in the State for over one year were “ordinary resident” for the purposes of medical insurance.” Decisis Law Report, 31 Oct 2020. 4. O’Brien, Carl. “Universities eye more Irish students to replace overseas losses” Irish Times, May 3 2020. 5. Curran, Ian. “I’m not sure my friends can afford it”: International students face hike in insurance costs.” theJournal.ie, 10 Oct 2020. 6 .Brady, Niall. “Why a Court of Appeal could cost Irish universities.” The Times, 12 April 2020. 7. Brady, Niall. “Higher education minister Simon Harris urged to prevent health cover hike for foreign students,” The Times, Sept 27 2020. 8. O'Connell, Pet. “Overseas students “isolated and homesick” under lockdown, say Cork campaigner.” Irish Examiner, Oct 22, 2020. 9. “Provision of Education to International Students: Code of Practice and Guidelines for Irish Higher Education Institutions.” Irish Higher Education Quality Network, 2018.
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    Created by International Students for Change
  • #BringChange
    There is a great deal of concern from parents, teachers, principals and elected members of the Northern Ireland Assembly about the current private system of transfer tests and particularly during this pandemic year.
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    Created by Naomi McBurney
  • Basic allowance for student healthcare workers during corona virus!
    This is important to eradicate the exploitation of student healthcare workers working 39 hour weeks and paying tuition, travel costs and more. These students sacrifice their personal safety and finances to take care of sick and injured people in our hospitals on the daily which is of major public benefit at their expense. Implementing an allowance will also reduce the need for students to work a part time job on top of college and placement hours which will majorly reduce the risk of cross contamination in hospital wards.
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    Created by Callum Lowe
  • Better lighting in Phoenix Park
    For years Phoenix Park has been providing a place for exercise and fresh air but has never been fully utilised during the winter months due to poor lighting.In these winter months, people have a right to use and feel safe in their parks. This is especially important during Covid restrictions when indoor facilities are closed.  Many of us have other responsbilities such as work, caring, school etc during day light hours. The lack of lighting in the park means people feel unsafe going to get the exercise needed for our mental and physical health. We want the OPW to enable the public make use of the park, even during dark evenings. Additional lighting could be installed for limited periods along the main road, helping people stroll, walk or run safely throughout the winter months.
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    Created by Cllr. Darcy Lonergan
  • Pay Student Nurses in Northern Ireland
    During the last peak of Covid-19 when students were heavily depended upon to help alleviate pressure on qualified nurses, the Department of Health recognised their efforts financially. No such payment is available this time, which has left students feeling massively undervalued. They have also been told not to speak to the media. https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/health/coronavirus/ni-student-nurses-risking-lives-without-pay-in-coronavirus-battle-39708516.html
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    Created by Nicola Browne
  • One Stamp for All Spouse and Dependents Immigrants #Equal Rights Ireland
    Immigrants spouses are being treated and marked as herds by giving them stamp 3/1g, making it impossible for them to access the job market. What are the spouses being punished for?? It is causing mental and health deterioration for the skilled immigrants who are suffering financially by being dependent on spouses. Isolation during covid-19 is building up some serious mental concerns as depression and suicidal thoughts. Furthermore adding to the misery of immigrants, stamp 1g is given to the graduates on job search and spouses of CSEP holders and hosting agreement holders. Recruiters are not willing to entertain anyone on Stamp 1g or stamp 3. Now with many of them listing an eligibility criteria as EU/Stamp 4 holder only may apply. Immigrants' spouses who have stamp 1g or stamp 3 are as if they are handcuffed for a crime which is simply being a dependent to a permit holder or critical skill worker. Dependent immigrants want to work and equally contribute to the society and pay taxes.
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    Created by Aysha Mazhar
  • Give Nurses free car parking
    Nurses are at the frontline of our Covid19 response. Despite commitments made by Robin Swann to waive car parking fees for HSC staff until March 2021, the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust have stated they will not offer free parking to nurses working for them. https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/sunday-life/news/health-trusts-rake-in-30m-in-parking-fees-39663814.html
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    Created by Nicola Browne
  • Reclose the Schools
    Students account for 20% of Ireland's population. Sending students to school in the current climate, while also considering that online learning was practiced successfully last year, is an unnecessary risk to public safety. Issues facing schools include confusion over the definition of a close contact, no guarantee of when a test result will be returned to a student, and no option for high-risk teachers to teach from home. An inadequate following of restrictions, including a lack of social distancing before and after school as well as at break times, masks not being used at break times and hand sanitizers being recalled because they were not safe are just some of the health concerns affecting schools. Finally, students are struggling massively with their mental health right now. The fear of contracting and possibly spreading Covid-19 to loved ones and high risk friends is leaving many students stressed and afraid to go to school.
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    Created by Close Schools
  • Allow Clothes to be sold during Covid19 restrictions
    All citizens have the right to buy clothing. This is particularly important for children. Clothing is a basic necessity and right. Parents expecting babies are entitled and should be able to buy the clothes they need for their children. Parents have the right and should be able to buy clothing and shoes for their growing children. Parents should be able to buy coats and weather appropriate items for their children.
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    Created by Jean Finnerty
  • Stop Ruhama from getting responsibility over Direct Provision for Sex Trafficking Survivors.
    In August 2020 it was announced that the Department of Justice is intending to set up a Direct Provision Centre for people who have fallen victim to the commercial sex trade which is to be run by DePaul and Ruhama. Victims of the commercial sex trade in this context means people who engaged in sex work or survivors of sex trafficking. We also believe other vulnerable people who have been victimised will be moved to this centre. While we welcome an end to human trafficking survivors being housed in Direct Provision, we would like to see everyone removed from Direct Provision and housed within communities. This step being a longer-term objective means we need to express our disapproval that Ruhama be placed in a position of responsibility within any new centre. Ruhama was founded by The Sisters of Charity and The Sisters of The Good Shephard. As of August 2020, Ruhama, while claiming to be secular, still had 3 members of the Sisters of The Good Shephard order on their board and pushes extreme ideology in relation to autonomy and sex work and sex trafficking. The Sisters of the Good Shephard and the Sisters of Charities claim to have a long history with “troubled women” from the 18th century until the eventual closure of the last laundry closing in the early 2000’s Magdalene Laundries were run by orders of nuns including the Sisters of the Good Shephard who both founded Ruhama and have current positions on their board. The Sisters of Charity too ran Magdalene Laundries. Both refused to meet their victims just a year ago. The orders trafficked women into commercial and domestic slavery and trafficked their children all around the world without consent, more sadly died. By the time the last Laundry closed the orders were involved in Ruhama. The abuses and inhumanity in the Magdalene Laundries run by The Sisters of Charity and The Sisters of the Good Shephard are finally coming into light in their full horror and in spite of attempts to seal the archives, the survivors and the public continue to fight to have them accessible for those they impacted. These two orders and those like them trafficked tens of thousands of vulnerable women and children. Putting an organisation which was founded and still claims members of an order who ran a human trafficking cartel in Ireland for decades, in a place of responsibility over vulnerable victims is absolutely irresponsible and completely ignores what we have learned from our own history. We must insist that Ruhama is taken out of the list of viable options for this role. Irish people continue to suffer at the hands of the Sisters of the Good Shephard and the Sisters of Charity and while we fight to ensure those victims still have the right to access their personal information, we must also ensure that we never allow institutions to be founded which we know have lead to abuse and degradation and damage to human life. Ruhama in its capacity as an anti sex trafficking organisation has derailed the anti- human trafficking efforts by focusing so much attention on sex trafficking while not acknowledging that labour trafficking has been the largest kind of trafficking in Ireland consistently until last year. We are unaware of any anti-labour trafficking organisation currently receiving any state funding. Child trafficking is also a serious issue on the ground when working in anti-human trafficking in Ireland, yet the only dedicated anti child trafficking organisation is not regularly funded by the Department of Justice. By conflating sex work and sex trafficking as similarly victimising Ruhama have inflated sex trafficking to be the largest nationwide trafficking phenomena which our work on the ground would discredit. We also find their attitude towards sex workers as “women in prostitution” and the lack of representation of sex workers and trafficking survivors within Ruhama to be massively problematic.
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    Created by Emma-Jane Dempsey
  • Pay the Nurses Strike Pay!
    At the end of last year, nurses went on strike for the first time ever for fair pay and adequate staffing for the NHS. It has been confirmed that funding was secured to reinstate their strike pay, but it has not been paid out. Nurses are at the backbone of our NHS, and at the heart of the Covid19 response. They can no longer be at the back of the queue when it comes to pay.
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    Created by Signe Browne