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14 Jul, 2015

Occupation Transformation

2017-06-10T23:56:51+01:00July 14th, 2015|News|Comments Off on Occupation Transformation

John Kearns is CEO of Partas, a social enterprise in Dublin. Among its many activities, and as part of a North-West Europe Interreg project SPIDER, Partas developed an experimental project, supported by the Embassy of the United States in Dublin, to examine the potential for entrepreneurship amongst unemployed youth. The following is the story of that sub-project, named Occupation Transformation.

Occupation Transformation

Occupation Transformation is an exploration of the potential for innovative and radical approaches to youth entrepreneurship by allowing unemployed youth to design what ‘entrepreneurship’ might be for them.


For Generation Y, entrepreneurship can and should be a very different proposition to the paradigm within which previous generations understood it. To fit with current youth culture, it might be something collaborative, valuable, social, short-term, project-driven, adventurous – a way of thinking & acting! This project set out to explore how this might work by allowing unemployed young people to ‘discover’ their own creativity and possible entrepreneurial opportunities in a sharing group environment, with a team of supportive facilitators/mentors.


The aim was to not prejudice the participants’ opinion of what the project was about and to not use language that might discourage them from trying entrepreneurship/enterprise. Therefore, the advertising gave the following obscure information about the project:

Crew members required to join an exciting and pioneering team journey of creativity and self-discovery

A fun space to connect and journey with others

Collectively explore uncharted possibilities

For those excited to step out a little into the unknown

Expert navigational support provided where required

Especially for under-30s currently unemployed


The project ran three times and each time there were thirty confirmed attendees. In reality only one-third ever actually turned up to each event. Research with participants showed that despondency and disengagement were the key reasons why people failed to turn up on the day. When it came down to it, they did not have the mental energy to believe that their participation would have any real benefit for them – nothing really mattered; it was going to be just another futile attempt by well-meaning people to tick boxes to show that things were being done. This was our first key learning from the project:

the degree to which young people are negatively affected by unemployment runs much deeper and causes more hurt than had been expected.

To further emphasise this finding, we had asked applicants on the first rotation to share online why they wanted to take part. Given that we had said very little about what the project would entail, this we expected would give an interesting insight into what they felt they needed. A representative sample of responses is as follows:

·         I can’t seem to crawl out of the hole of unemployment! … I’m super enthusiastic about a lot of things. I need to find my niche. I am worried years are going to go by and I won’t have achieved anything. The thought keeps me awake at night. It terrifies me.


·         The fact that I studied so hard during school and college and nothing is coming from it is just heartbreaking. I’m about an inch away from emigrating. All my friends have gone. All of them, And that is just depressing. I just want a chance of opportunity and some adventure.


·         I’m so frustrated as I feel I would be an asset to many different companies but it’s almost impossible to get full time work. The process of applying for jobs constantly and the rejection has taken its toll on me, but luckily I’ve found enough strength to push through.


·         I went away to Australia for two years and now that I’m back, the option of heading away for meaningful work is again rearing its ugly head, and it’s depressing!


·         I am 24 years old and have been unemployed for almost 6 months. The employment opportunities in the field of youth work are extremely limited and I can’t help but feel that rather than emigrating, I would rather create my own opportunities.


·         I now live in Dublin and I am finding it difficult to develop a career in my field. I feel I have a lot to offer. All I need is to be given the chance to show what I can do.


·         I would benefit from a positive kick in a creative atmosphere. I’m frustrated with job searching at this point. I want to create.

Our second key finding from working with the participants was that they greatly appreciated the opportunity to share and discuss their situation with the facilitators/mentors.

They have ample opportunity to share with each other, but felt they had almost no opportunity to really engage with older-generation mentors who showed genuine concern for their plight.

They felt that there were very many intervention-type projects but these tended to be group training based and Occupation Transformation offered them the chance to engage on a one-to-one and equal basis with mature and experienced mentors who could understand and advise them. One group felt so strongly about the value of this that they began their own project to develop this further. They called the project ‘1+1=0’ explained as: one unemployed youth plus one caring mentor equals zero unemployment. They are continuing to develop this project.

A third and surprising finding was that,

despite their hatred of being unemployed, they did not have any great desire to start something for themselves.

Self-employment has been an observable feature of high unemployment with previous generations (the so-called ‘push’ entrepreneurs) and from our starting premise we expected to find more openness to this possibility in whatever form it might take. However, it was clear from our participants that all they really, really wanted was a job. Whether or not it was by chance, those who engaged most with the project, and tried to look seriously at enterprise as an option, ended up gaining employment. This could have been because of increased confidence gained through the project; we like to think so.

We do not claim that our small project was of such a size that it can be claimed to represent the statistical attitudes and preferences of unemployed youth in Ireland, but we do believe that it is a very useful pointer to the areas that those who engage with this priority target group should seek to develop further. It will certainly add to our understanding of the problems of youth unemployment and the measures needed to address it.

9 Jul, 2015

Financial Regulation – who pays?

2018-03-16T12:04:04+01:00July 9th, 2015|News|Comments Off on Financial Regulation – who pays?

Tom Ferris is a Consultant Economist specialising in Better Regulation. He was formerly the Department of Transport’s Senior Economist

Financial Regulation – who pays?

Last Friday (3 July) saw the publication of an interesting consultation paper on “Funding the Cost of Financial Regulation”. It is a joint production by the Department of Finance and the Central Bank of Ireland. At the heart of the consultation is the question: should there be a change from the current partial funding system of the cost of financial regulation by the industry, towards a full industry funding? An open invitation has issued for interested parties to give their views1. Submissions should be made to funding@finance.gov.ie no later than September 25 2015.

The consultation paper addresses a number of topics including:

·         the case for full industry funding;

·         the current regulatory cost model;

·         the future cost of financial regulation;

·         international comparisons;

·         domestic comparisons; and

·         regulatory landscape for each of the regulated sectors.

The Current Situation

The recent financial crisis, from which Ireland is still recovering, underlines the huge economic cost that comes with recessions associated with severe financial crises. For this reason, policymakers should not skimp on the cost of financial regulation. The cost may be huge, but it is necessary.Costs over five years have risen from a lower base of €60.2m in 2009 to €139m in 2014, in order to fulfil the mandate of protecting consumers and safeguarding stability. The costs relate to the direct supervision team, supervisory specialists, consumer/policy/risk & enforcement, and ancillary/support services. Who pays is a separate question. At present, the industry in Ireland generally funds half of the costs incurred by the Central Bank. This translates into a corresponding reduction in the annual surplus remitted by the Central Bank to the Exchequer. There are some exceptions to the 50:50 rule, e.g. Credit Institutions that had participated in the Eligible Liabilities Guarantee Scheme 2009 are required to fund 100% of supervisory costs. Given that only half the cost is paid by the industry, the Irish taxpayer that is responsible for the other half. But, as the consultation paper points out

whereas the Irish taxpayer currently subsidises the cost of financial regulation, the consumers of these services are located both here and abroad.

The Case for Full Industry Funding

The consultation paper points out that, in Ireland, the general approach adopted by regulators in other sectors is that industry fully funds the cost of regulation (e.g. the Commission for Energy Regulation, the Commission for Communication Regulation). Moreover, the dominant position internationally is that industry funds the cost of financial regulation and this is elaborated in the international comparison section of the consultation paper.

Full funding of financial regulation by industry would, however, eliminate the need for the Central Bank to provide an annual subvention. This would increase the reserves retained by the Central Bank which in turn would have a positive impact on Exchequer funds; amounting to around €67 million in 2015 alone. It would also remove certain anomalies. For example, the Central Bank recovers its full supervisory costs in respect of the Irish institutions which participated in the Credit Institutions Eligible Liabilities Guarantee Scheme 2009 (AIB, Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB) while most other credit institutions and industry sectors contribute only half of the costs of regulation.

Structured Consultation

To gain a structured response, the consultation seeks answers to a set of nine questions. These are reproduced below:

Nine Consultation Questions

1. Do you consider that there are any particular competitiveness issues to be taken into consideration in revising the funding approach? Please state clearly your reasons for any such issues, their quantification and suggestions on how they may be addressed.

2. Do you consider that there are any particular consumer or tax payer issues to be taken into consideration in revising the funding approach? Please state clearly your reasons for any such issues and suggestions on how they may be addressed.

3. Do you consider it appropriate for taxpayers to continue to fund a significant proportion of the cost of financial regulation activity? If you disagree, what would you propose instead?

4. Do you consider it appropriate that industry be required to fully fund the cost of financial regulation activity? If you disagree, what would you propose instead?

5. Do you consider it appropriate that a move to full funding should commence in 2016? If you disagree, what would you propose instead?

6. Do you consider it appropriate that a move to full funding should take place in a single step in 2016? If you disagree, what would you propose instead?

7. Do you consider it appropriate that any revision in the proportion of funding provided by industry should continue to apply uniformly across all industry funding categories? If you disagree, what would you propose instead?

8. Do you consider that there are any particular industry funding categories which warrant a derogation or alternative funding approach? Please state clearly your reasons for such a view.

9. Are there any other considerations that you think should be taken into account in seeking to come to a decision on a move to full industry funding? If so, what are they?

Source: Joint Public Consultation Paper: Department of Finance/Central Bank of Ireland, Funding the Cost of Financial Regulation 3 July 2015


The current consultation process invites all interested parties to submit their views. Regardless of views received, financial regulation will continue to consume a considerable amount of resources each year. But will the cost of financial regulation activity be borne by industry; the taxpayer (via a reduced dividend from the Central Bank to the Department of Finance), or some combination thereof?

People have twelve weeks to give their views as to who should bear the cost.

3 Jul, 2015

Rounding comes to Ireland

2017-06-10T23:56:51+01:00July 3rd, 2015|News|Comments Off on Rounding comes to Ireland

Ronnie O’Toole is Programme Manager of the National Payments Plan, and is leading the rollout of rounding nationally. He is an economist by training, and has previously worked in Forfas, the Department of Finance and as Chief Economist of National Irish Bank.

Rounding comes to Ireland

They might be sitting in a jam jar, or perhaps in a chipped mug that nobody uses any more. Some people even have them in old water-dispensing canisters. But the one place they’re unlikely to be is exactly where they should be – in your pocket.

Consumers don’t like to use 1-cent and 2-cent coins. These coins tend to be hoarded, lost, or even thrown away. This can be seen from the statistics. The Central Bank has produced 2.5bn 1-cent and 2-cent coins since the Euro was introduced. This is around 1,500 coins for every household in Ireland, equivalent to the weight of a small child. Yet no matter how many the Central Bank produce, retailers come back asking for more for one simple reason: they give the coins to consumers and consumers put them straight into jam jars.

But a solution is on the way: rounding. This works simply. When a consumer is paying for a transaction in cash the total amount can be rounded down or up to the nearest five- or ten-cent. For example:

•          1 and 2 would be rounded down to zero;

•          3 and 4 would be rounded up to 5;

•          6 and 7 would be rounded down to 5; and

•          8 and 9 would be rounded up to 10.

A number of EU countries, both within and outside of the Eurozone, have already introduced rounding. In Europe, Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Hungary already operate a system of rounding. A number of non-EU OECD countries also operate the system, including Norway, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. In fact, the Australians melted their old 1-cent coins down and used them in the Bronze medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

The initiative to bring rounding to Ireland came from the National Payments Plan (NPP). The aim of the NPP is to both promote greater use of efficient electronic payments such as debit cards and direct debits, to tackle payments aspects of financial exclusion, and to improve the efficiency of Ireland’s cash cycle.

One of the recommendations of the NPP was to conduct a rounding trial in Wexford in 2013 to test consumer and retailer reaction to rounding. The Wexford Rounding Trial was run and was a resounding success. When “don’t know”s are excluded, 85% of consumers, and 100% of retailers, surveyed after the Trial believed rounding should be applied nationally.

Following on from the success of the Wexford Trial, voluntary rounding of cash payments is to be rolled out nationally later this year.

When rounding is introduced it will be on a voluntary basis – both the retailer and the customer can opt-out. Rounding will not apply to electronic payments, such as by debit card, or to amounts being paid in cash at banks and post offices. Further, these coins will remain legal tender, and will continue to be produced by the Central Bank in line with demand.

What’s clever about rounding is that it only applies to the total bill, not to the prices of individual goods or services. So a 99c chocolate bar will remain 99c. Economic evidence from countries which have introduced rounding shows that the rounding of the final transaction total, rather than individual prices, curtails any inflationary effects. Rounding will involve rounding up and down.

The rollout of rounding is expected to create a mini-boom for charities, many of whom are encouraging people to donate their hoarded coins. Around €35m worth of these coins have been issued in Ireland since the launch of the euro, a large portion of which are sitting around in peoples attics, kitchens or garages. In October 2014 a ‘Change for Charity’ nationwide fundraising campaign was launched, aimed at encouraging people to donate hoarded coins. The beneficiary charities include the Irish Heart Foundation, Society of St Vincent de Paul, Our Lady’s & St Francis Hospices, Irish Autism Action and Gaisce (the President’s Award). The Make-a-Wish foundation is also encouraging donations of these coins, as are many other charities.

The taxpayer will also save from a reduction in demand for these coins, which cost more to produce than their face value. The Central Bank has estimated that the production cost of a 1-cent coin is 1.65c, while a 2-cent coin costs around 1.94c. The savings to retailers and financial institutions, through the reduced need to transport, store and process these coins, is likely be a multiple of the saving to the Central Bank.

So what should you do next? Many consumers are expected to go home and gather up their hoard of coins and put them to better use. That might be to donate them to charity, or just use the mini-windfall for a well-deserved treat. The actual rollout won’t happen until late in the year, and anational information campaign aimed at both consumers and retailers will be conducted by the Central Bank.

Informed well, Ireland will make this change easily. After all we’re good at making these changes – the euro-changeover being a case-in-point. Rounding will soon become accepted, and pretty soon you’ll barely notice. After all, it makes cents.

1 Jul, 2015

Regulation of Lobbying Act Conference 2015

2017-06-10T23:56:51+01:00July 1st, 2015|News|Comments Off on Regulation of Lobbying Act Conference 2015

Speakers at the event included our very own founding Director Garrett Fennell, Head of lobbying Regulation Ireland Ms Sherry Perreault, Head of the School of law and Government UCD Professor Gary Murphy BA MA, Head of the Regulatory and Investigations group at Matheson Ms Brid Munnelly, Political Correspondent for the Irish Independent Mr John Dowling and keynote speaker Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin TD. PAI would like to thank all of the speakers and panelists who contributed on the day

1 Jul, 2015

Age Action’s Lifelong Learning – University of the Third Age (U3A) Programme

2018-03-16T12:04:03+01:00July 1st, 2015|News|Comments Off on Age Action’s Lifelong Learning – University of the Third Age (U3A) Programme

Sam O’Brien–Olinger is the Development Officer responsible for the support and expansion of the U3A programme with Age Action Ireland. Age Action is a charity which promotes positive ageing and better policies and services for older people. Working with, and on behalf of, older people they aim to make Ireland a better place in which to grow older.

Age Action’s Lifelong Learning – University of the Third Age (U3A) Programme

Ireland is growing older

Consistently low birth rates and higher life expectancy are transforming the demographic shape of the entire European Union (EU).1 The impact of this ageing trend in Ireland will be of major social, political, and economic significance.

The needs of older people within Irish society will therefore become increasingly important. Lifelong Learning, as a key part of adult and community education, plays a vital role in enabling older people to participate in the human, social, economic and cultural development of Irish society.2

Lifelong Learning delivers a range of positive outcomes for older adults that improve their quality of life3 and that of those around them. It is particularly important for those at greatest risk of social exclusion and isolation.

Given how other European countries are proactively tackling issues affecting their rapidly ageing populations, it is now more important than ever that the learning needs of older people in Ireland are given greater priority.

The University of the 3rd Age

Age Action works to make Ireland the best place in the world to grow older. All of the social research and scientific evidence about ageing well tells us how important it is to keep our minds active by learning new things and continuing to socialise.

This is why Age Action’s Lifelong Learning-U3A programme is so important. From listening to the experiences of U3A members, it is very clear that a person’s emotional, mental, physical, and social well-being benefits hugely from belonging to a U3A group.

But what exactly is U3A?

A University of the Third Age group is essentially a learning circle for older adults. ‘University’ here refers to the ‘university of life’ and the Third Age is the part of your life where you may have retired, and family responsibilities have changed, so that you have more time for yourself.

U3A takes a non-formal approach to Lifelong Learning, so there are no exams and no qualifications are needed to join. Members learn from one another by sharing knowledge and experiences and by engaging in shared activities, which they themselves decide on. U3A can be described as having a flexible, DIY philosophy, which is why so many people are attracted to it.

‘Third agers’ design their own learning programme to suit their interests. U3A activities have included creative writing, stress management, inviting experts and all kinds of speakers to give talks, touring various museums and visiting places of interest. Some groups also go on trips abroad together.

Lifelong friends are also made and social ties within a community are strengthened. There are currently seventeen groups across the country – in Monaghan, Dublin, Kildare, Waterford, Wicklow, Roscommon, Galway, Cavan, and Leitrim.

Age Action supports the existing groups and encourages older people to set up new ones.

A national U3A newsletter is published quarterly which helps the development of the network. This plays a vital role in keeping U3A members up-to-date with the latest news and information relating to active ageing, lifelong learning and the ongoing activities within the U3A community.

What do members say about U3A?

“I have found it a great way of meeting people of like mind and interests”.

“Don’t be afraid to start small. We were just a small group of people, most of whom had not previously met but who were interested in expanding their horizons. Now we have regular speakers, take field trips and go on overnight trips together.”

“After working for close on 50 years I needed to know what was going on in the community – it is a completely different world and at times very frustrating, challenging – especially during the last seven year period of austerity and pension income cuts; increased taxation; cuts in health and other services etc. Coming to our U3A and Age Action meetings has helped me to survive“.

“U3A helped me to explore new ideas and horizons, make new friends, experience the energy and enthusiasm for life of older people”. 

“U3A releases a whole new range of areas of interests that I never knew existed”.

“I schedule this once a month meeting; summer visits and theatre visits into my diary – I refer to this as ‘ME TIME’”.

“Our activities and attitudes prove that we are more than our pathology or chronological age”.

“Communication is better than medication”.

If you think people you know would benefit from starting up their own local group or joining an existing one please contact him at Age Action on 01-4756989 or via email at u3a@ageaction.ieand visit http://www.ageaction.ie/lifelong-learning-u3a

1 Jul, 2015

“Lobbying is a good and proper thing to do”

2017-06-10T23:56:51+01:00July 1st, 2015|News|Comments Off on “Lobbying is a good and proper thing to do”

“Lobbying is a good and proper thing to do”:

Public Affairs Ireland’s conference on The Regulation of Lobbying Act was an insightful and practically-informative day.

PAI’s Garrett Fennell opened last week’s conference on the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 by making a brief statement on what he called a “significant development in Irish public law” that is “aimed at increasing public confidence”.

He noted that while secrecy is a required act in certain forms of decision-making, it “should be the exception when it comes to general decision making. The visibility of the decision-making process does contribute to high public standards”.

Ms Sherry Perreault, Prof Gary Murphy, Justice Daniel O’Keeffe, and Garrett Fennell take on the first session of the day

Mr Justice Daniel O’Keeffe was the first to the podium, with a view to outlining the role of the Standards in Public Office Commission (SIPOC) with regards to the new legislation. He outlined the three main functions of the Commission: ethics, political financing and expenditure, and now, the regulation of lobbying. He provided that all “are important tools in a suite of transparency initiatives”. After a brief overview of the first two functions of the Commission, Justice O’Keeffe moved on to the most pertinent to the audience: the regulation of lobbying.

“The legislation provides that the Standards Commission will establish and oversee an online Register of Lobbying. The Standards Commission will also monitor compliance with the legislation, provide guidance and assistance and where necessary investigate and pursue breaches of legal requirements”.

He asserted that SIPOC were pleased to accept the new role. It is, he noted, well-versed in the handling and dissemination of information. However, due to the sensitive nature of some of the information that will be gathered on returns, delayed publication may be a possibility. He laid out the guidelines for such.

He closed his presentation with noting that all of the legislation that gives SIPOC its role in society, there is one key underlying factor: transparency.

Next to the podium was DCU’s Prof Gary Murphy, who aimed to outline the international context of lobbying regulation.

In 2005, Prof Murphy and Raj Chari undertook a review of rules and regulations of lobbying across the globe, which led to the publication of Regulating Lobbying: A Global Comparison. In Ireland specifically, this legislation is something “we’ve been thinking about for a long time”. “The labour party has had legislation dating back to 1999, and various iterations of it”, with many other drafts by other parties following it.

At the heart of it, “lobbying regulation across the globe can simply be put down to the following maxim: who is lobbying whom, about what?”

He noted that while Ireland is a small country, and in certain terms a small society, not everybody knows everybody, and not everybody is aware of what is happening with regards getting promises “on paper”. Ireland is a society where “elites know elites”, “for the vast majority of people that does not remain the case”.

“Self-regulation can work in all sorts of things”, but possibly not with regulation of lobbying. Across the globe, noncompliance can lead to penalties, including jail.

Finally, he stated:

“Lobbying is good, and it should be encouraged… It should be seen as an honourable profession … Once it’s open, policymakers should be able to benefit from it”, but most importantly, it should benefit the public.

Prof Murphy was followed by the newly-appointed Head of Lobbying Regulation Ms Sherry Perreault who spoke about the lobbying register and her role.

She began by applauding the new regime as,

“Enacting new legislation and putting in place a new regulatory system shakes things up. It requires that people and organizations – who are used to doing things a certain way – make some changes to how they do what they do”.

As with Justice O’Keeffe and Gary Murphy, Ms Perreault lauded the new Act for its role in increasing transparency.

Her presentation was a practical “how-to” and “who-by” for the new register: an online list of lobbyists, who they are lobbying and how groups who are doing the lobbying must complete returns three times a year. As the Act will commence on September 1st, those liable to publish returns should have filed them by January 21st 2016.

Penalties, she said, would be introduced following the one-year review of the register. This was to ensure that people were not penalised while becoming familiar with the system, and no sanctions were issued as a result of human error.

She spoke briefly about the Canadian context, in which there are varying stages of regulation. Despite this, there has been no “chill effect” on lobbying activity.

“I expect the same will hold true in Ireland. However, one of the hallmarks of the new legislation is that it allows for review at the one year mark and then every three years thereafter – which will ensure that any unintended negative consequences can be dealt with through amendment or clarification”.

After a mid-morning break, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin TD took to the podium to outline the Government’s position on public service reform, and the ways in which they intend to improve. He began by acknowledging the “erosion of trust in the Government”, which was “significantly shattered in the years up to 2012”.

“Over the past 4 years the Government has worked hard to regain the confidence of citizens after the damaging impact of the economic and banking crisis.”

He spoke of ways in which the Government is attempting to do this, mindful at all times of transparency and accountability, outlining

“a very substantial strengthening in the effectiveness and contribution of the legislature to our democratic system – this would be achieved by not only helping us to learn vital lessons from past events but also identifying reforms and changes essential to making sure that errors of the past are not repeated.”

Finally, he echoed the previous speakers in saying,

“Lobbying is a good and proper thing to do. It’s an essential part of maintaining and healthy and functioning democracy.”

Minister Howlin addresses the conference

The Minister was followed by Bríd Munnelly of Matheson solicitors. From a legal perspective, according to Ms Munnelly, the new legislation “sits on a continuum of issues”, one of which being that “the onus is on the lobbyist and not the lobbied”, therefore a broad range of people fall within the remit of the lobbying register. Further, “there is an amount of work that lawyers do for clients that will be captured by the Act”.

A large part of Ms Munnelly’s presentation focused on the legal definitions contained within the Act and whether or not these create loopholes. One example she gave was when, as often happens, a law firm is lobbying on behalf of a client, they are obliged to name those clients on the register return. This would, in theory, conflict with client-lawyer privilege. The way in which the legislation will interact with Data Protection legislation was a point of discussion, and indeed concern from a legal perspective.]

Brendan Ryan participates in the open discussion

Shortly after Ms Munnelly spoke, the panel assembled on the stage for a short discussion about how the new legislation would affect practitioners from several different sectors. The panel consisted of John Carroll (PRII), John Devitt (Transparency International), Iarla Mongey (Drury | Porter Novelli), Ivan Cooper (The Wheel) and Aidan Moore (SIPOC).

John Carroll said he welcomed the legislation, as it allowed for transparency. The media can now match up public records with known meetings and give a clear picture of what exactly is going on in the legislation-making process. John Devitt also approves of the legislation but said “there’s much more to be done”. For example, amounts paid to lobbyists does not have to be disclosed and this is a stumbling block for transparency. Iarla Mongey acknowledged that the new Act was what some would call a “disruptive policy” and that “the nuts and bolts of reporting that the act will bring is causing some trepidation … But

[businesses] shouldn’t be concerned.” For Ivan Cooper, the Act is a way forward. In charities, all decisions are made as though they are being made in a public theatre, and this legislation is a way towards that. However, he did concede that to some, it seems like using a “sledgehammer to crack a nut, in terms of transparency”.

The afternoon was concluded with John Downing’s presentation entitled “The View from the Gallery”. In short, Mr Downing said, the view of lobbying from the gallery was that it was “complex, tedious, dull, and not great at all”. In the past, the EU parliament was used as a listening post, but the legislation will make the information much more widely available to the general public. Especially considering the user-friendly interface of the lobbying regulation website, “there is an opportunity to help people find their way through”. He said further that “this bill is clearly a very important milestone … The acid test will be whether or not we get beyond the perception that people who are double hatted … in wearing their second hat, will be perceived as being put in their place”. While Mr Downing said we can only guess at how the legislation will progress, he hopes that after the implementation, “the view will have improved”.

The speakers and panelists from the day (L-R): Justice Daniel O’Keeffe, Sherry Perreault, Garrett Fennell, Minister brendan Howlin TD, Iarla Mongey, John Carroll, Ivan Cooper, Aidan Moore, John Devitt, Prof Gary Murphy, and Bríd Munnelly

For the full list of speakers, and the day’s agenda, see here

26 Jun, 2015

A Vision for Change, nine years on

2018-03-16T12:04:00+01:00June 26th, 2015|News|Comments Off on A Vision for Change, nine years on

Dr Shari McDaid was appointed Director of Mental Health Reform as of October 1, 2013, having previously been Policy Officer since August 2011. Prior to that, Shari worked with Amnesty International Ireland, the National Disability Authority, and Schizophrenia Ireland. Shari received her doctorate in 2008 from the Equality Studies Centre at UCD, with a thesis entitled “Power, Empowerment and User Involvement in the Public Mental Health Services in Ireland”.

A Vision for Change, nine years on

Nine years on from the publication of our national mental health policy A Vision for Change is a good time to take stock of how far our mental health system has journeyed down the road to the vision set out in 2006.

A Vision for Change was ambitious in scope, reflecting the full continuum of supports from mental health promotion and early intervention, through primary care, to specialist mental health services and social inclusion supports for people with long-term mental health difficulties.

Importantly, the policy identified a core set of principles to underpin all delivery, including citizenship and human rights, effectiveness, partnership, quality, equity, respect, non-discrimination and recovery, among other principles.

Mental Health Reform recently launched our report A Vision for Change nine years on: A coalition analysis of progress. The intention behind the report was to show how close Ireland’s mental health system is to the vision set out in 2006.

The report draws on evidence gathered from the Department of Health and other Government Departments, the HSE and other public agencies, our member organisations’ and advisory groups’ feedback and the views gathered at our public meetings of people who use mental health services and their family supporters.

We acknowledge in the report the progress that has been made and the staff whose commitment has helped to bring about change so far. From listening to people using mental health services, we know things are changing. As one person told us: “the passion and pride of individual nurses shines through the bad infrastructure and the lack of resources”. In one case study in the report, an individual describes the hugely positive impact on her life of receiving a good quality, multidisciplinary community-based mental health service. Her life has been transformed by this service.

However, it is clear that the mental health system set out in A Vision for Change has yet to be realised across the country. Nine years on, despite pockets of innovation, implementation of A Vision for Change is incomplete and uneven. Inequity remains throughout the system, with variation in service models, choice of treatments and resources. Primary care mental health services remain under-resourced and uncoordinated with specialist mental health services.

The report highlights concerns that the involvement of service users in decisions about their own treatment and in planning mental health services is sometimes tokenistic.

Mental Health Reform is particularly concerned about the lack of attention given to some of the most vulnerable groups at high risk of developing mental health difficulties. Under the human right to the highest attainable standard of mental health, the Irish Government has a particular responsibility to provide services to marginalised groups. It is unacceptable that long-neglected services such as mental health care for people with an intellectual disability, for people with co-occurring substance misuse difficulties, or for those who are deaf or homeless have seen so little development. For example, according to the mental health policy, the HSE should have 300 posts for mental health services for adults with an intellectual disability, with another 150 posts for children. In reality, within the HSE there are just thirteen posts to serve the needs of adults and five posts to serve the needs of children with an intellectual disability.

The report also draws attention to the need for a whole-of-government approach to tackling mental health difficulties and promoting positive mental health. In an era where most people with mental health difficulties live in the community, Departments with responsibility for social welfare, housing, education and employment need to play a role in an effective mental health system.

People with a mental health disability continue to experience social exclusion in Ireland, and are nine times more likely to be outside the labour force than those of working age without a disability. Access to housing can be a problem, and information from the Housing Agency indicates that there were 1,034 households in Ireland needing housing in 2013, where the main need for social housing support is as a result of a mental health disability. This figure is likely to be a gross under-estimate of the need. The prevalence of mental health difficulties among the homeless population also shows the need for joined-up supports.

We hope that A Vison for Change nine years on: A coalition analysis of progress will contribute to the discussion as the Government begins the process of renewing Ireland’s mental health policy for the next ten years. We can learn lessons from experience to date. There is a need for greater accountability for delivery. The Independent Monitoring Group’s tenure ended in 2012 and no new independent monitoring mechanism has been put in place. An information system that would enable proper planning is yet to be put in place and the type of performance management system that can demonstrate outcomes is urgently needed. We now have a National Director for Mental Health in the HSE – leadership is required at all levels of the service to drive reform. So too, leaders need the resources to deliver on the reform programme: at the end of 2014 mental health staffing was still 11% below the level in 2008 and almost 25% below the level set out in the policy.

We encourage the Government to continue to show commitment to reform of the mental health system. In the next ten years, proper priority must be given to services for marginalised and disadvantaged groups, building up specialist mental health supports and ensuring cultural competency of all mental health staff. And the HSE must ensure that people who use mental health services and family supporters have opportunities to be genuinely engaged as equal partners in their own treatment and in planning the support system.

Importantly, all of us concerned about mental health in Ireland must encourage staff involved in delivering mental health supports to continue their journey with us towards a new type of service that is imbued with respect, compassion and responsiveness to everyone involved.

24 Jun, 2015

Millennials: our future workforce

2018-03-16T12:03:58+01:00June 24th, 2015|News|Comments Off on Millennials: our future workforce

Peter is a Director with CPL and founder of the Future of Work Institute in Ireland. He is a regular contributor to the national media on areas of talent and the future of work. Peter is Chairman of Junior Achievement Ireland an organisation targeted at keeping students in schools and ex-President of the National Recruitment Federation.

Millennials: our future workforce

Why are millennials in the news?

Millennials are always listed on key trends shaping the future of work – with good reason. Millennials will begin to dominate the workplace in the next ten years. The change they will bring with them is going to completely transform the world of work as we know it. Culture, brand, technology at work, and talent management will all undergo a shift.

Soon, millennials will be integral to the future of business.

Who are they and what do they want?

The Millennial generation, or Generation Y, is the name given to the generation born between 1980 and 2000. 75% of the workforce in 2025 will be millennials. Their dominance will change the future of work – workplace culture, how we work, and work as we know it.

What makes this generation different is their behaviour. They are more independent and focused on personal needs. Millennials are uncomfortable with rigid corporate structures. They are not interested in linear career paths. They craft their own path. They feel that corporate loyalty is overrated.

They prefer to work from project to project instead of focusing on a long-term career path. They want a varied career. Millennials want to throw themselves into a number of things, so that they can keep learning and open new opportunities. Taking on projects also allows them to follow meaningful work.

How will this affect companies in the future?

Values are going to play an increasingly important role in future business. Millennials see the world from a values perspective. They are attracted to employer brands that they admire as customers.

Ultimately, they want their work to mean something. It may be about following your passion but it’s also about following purpose. Millennials know that this is the key to happiness in their career. This is why they have a reputation for job hopping. 58% of millennials expect to stay in their job for less than three years. Keep them engaged, adapt your culture to provide staff with meaning and retention, and overall engagement will increase. This will become an important part of a company’s long-term aims and ambitions. However, “millennial churn” may be inevitable, so you need to incorporate this reality into your retention strategy.

How can you improve the workplace to suit?

Stand for something: Millennials are increasingly concerned with deriving a sense of purpose from their work. Therefore, organisations that are driven by purpose and with strong corporate social responsibility will have the competitive advantage. This will attract millennials, help retain your staff, and turn your millennial staff into brand advocates. In the digital age, people have more social power; employees are going to start playing a more important role in company marketing tactics. Millennials are very connected to their values and conscious of them.

Corporate culture: In a PWC survey of over 4000 graduates, what they valued most was career development, with work-life balance a close second. They do not like ineffective means of measuring productivity. For them, long hours does not necessarily mean high rates of productivity. Alternative corporate cultures have become more commonplace in recent years. At Treehouse, a company that provides online education, they have institutionalised a four-day working week. Working weekends is discouraged, as a healthy work-life balance is highly valued. Staff decide the projects that they want to work on, and initiate them based on their interests.

Further, transparency and accountability, buzzwords of late, are key qualities to millennials. Organisations must find ways to increase organisational trust and transparency, in a way in which mistakes are applauded and difficult conversations rewarded.

Collaborative workplace: Collaboration in the workplace is also important to millennials. Marissa Mayer did receive some negative attention for banning remote working1, but her logic behind it was to encourage more on-site collaboration. At Valve, a video games developer, workstations are fitted with wheels so dispersing into teams is efficient and quick. Employees also take an expenses-paid week-long trip together. This all ensures a collaborative and family atmosphere. For example, Infosys design all of their company locations based on university campuses to encourage collaboration and a community atmosphere.2

Technology at work: 75% of millennials believe that access to technology makes them more effective at work. They believe that it is empowering and can drive innovation and that outdated working styles can hold people back. Companies are responding by adapting their IT policy so that millennials are more comfortable and engaged. For example, encouraging business-focused use of social media at work, instant messaging, and video chats etc. Millennials, and the generation that follows, will expect a workplace ecosystem that includes means of socialising that are familiar and easy to them.

Multi-generational issues: It is important that companies prepare for the multi-generational workplace. A company must ensure that older senior management can relate to their younger workers. Former CEO of Tesco, Philip Clarke, engaged in reverse-mentoring with Paul Wilkinson, who worked in the company’s technology R&D division; Wilkinson kept Clarke up-to-date on technological developments. Management must make a point to engage with each generation of their workforce and understand their differences and issues, and support them in resolving them. Ultimately, managing a multigenerational workforce will entail focusing on the individual.

Recruiting millennials: Make jobs easier to find. Mobile-optimised websites are essential. 25% of job-seeking millennials expect this. Nearly half of jobseekers use a mobile device to look for jobs. To demonstrate the importance of mobile optimisation, Google has now changed its algorithm to favour websites that are favourable to mobile devices.

In ten years, they will make up 75% of the workforce. Are you prepared for the millennials?

23 Jun, 2015

Equality of Access and Equality of Esteem

2018-03-16T12:03:56+01:00June 23rd, 2015|News|Comments Off on Equality of Access and Equality of Esteem

Paul has been involved with Educate Together schools for the past 26 years, as a parent, activist, board member and national representative. He is passionately interested in building organisations that release the full human potential of their members and sees Educate Together as an example of good practice in this area. He has been closely involved in the current efforts to establish a national network of Educate Together primary schools and to apply the principles of the Educate Together Charter to secondary education. In June 2002, he was appointed CEO of Educate Together.

Equality of Access and Equality of Esteem

The publication of the Schools Admissions Bill is stimulating much debate over equality of access to education.

As far as Educate Together is concerned, there are two key elements to this question, only one of which is addressed by the proposed legislation. The right of equity to access to education must always be connected to the right of equality in education.

The Bill aims to create clarity on school admissions’ policies and procedures in Ireland and is to be welcomed. However, it is constitutionally barred from addressing religious discrimination in admissions to schools. It is important to note that the Constitutional barriers in this area are extremely strong. There are extensive protections for the rights of religious bodies and of private property in the Constitution that prevent the State from interfering in the operation of schools set up for a religious purpose. While some may argue that a future amendment limiting the rights of religious bodies in education might succeed, I think very few would suggest that an amendment limiting rights to private property would do so.

However, even if the right to discriminate on religious grounds was eliminated, it would not address the right of equality in education. Having equal access to a faith-based school, privately owned and controlled by a religious body and legally obliged to promote a particular religious world outlook does not address the rights of a child and its family to religious and intellectual freedom. In fact, it may be argued that making it easier for the State to effectively compel families to send their children a Catholic school against their conscience compounds the denial of these rights. The lack of choice for all families remains the fundamental problem.

The shocking reality is that our State has deliberately constructed a publicly-funded education system that is 98% privately-owned and controlled by religious bodies – 93% of which are Catholic. Throughout the last century, the State opted not to own the sites and buildings for the schools it has funded. This means that in nine out of ten locations in the country, a State, that commits itself to the concept of parental preference, only provides for privately-owned Catholic schools. The current bill cannot address this issue.

The need for change is overwhelming. Our population is growing and rapidly diversifying in its attitude towards the place of religion in the civic space. Education is increasingly considered as part of this civic space and our civic space is increasingly seen as an enlightened space of equality and rights. This change of attitude is driven by a generation-on-generation change in the indigenous population. Only the breadth of this change has recently been augmented by inward migration of new cultures. This change also includes changes in attitude of devout Catholic families to the role of their church in education. The choices of school available to families simply hasn’t kept pace with these changes. The private-ownership of the system has remained the key obstacle. This has created a growing issue of religious, intellectual and human rights for society at large, which impacts particularly on the children of Irish families who now have minority views.

It is important to note that this diversity and the new, more questioning attitude is massively positive for society. It is a huge national asset. It is bringing forward a new vibrancy of social and cultural interaction. It enlivening our political debate and bringing many institutions to embrace ‘reality-checks’ which will be enormously productive. In schools, it is a fantastic educational resource that is enriching an entire generation of children. It is also stimulating wide community debate and a fresh and long-overdue questioning of many outmoded social and political attitudes.

In many areas where there is pressure on school places and no choice of an Educate Together school, an increasing number of Irish parents consider that it is necessary to get their children baptised in the Catholic faith in order to access publicly funded schools. For this to have any currency in a modern democratic state is extraordinary and utterly unacceptable. It is deeply corrupting of public morals and personal integrity and strikes to the heart of the social values long affirmed in our national documents. It is neither fair nor right that many parents find that they are at the bottom of the queue or completely off it when they seek a place for their child at the only publicly-funded primary schools in their area.

Equality in education is a fundamental human right. It has been valued, aspired to and fought for by people all over the world and for generations. This right is internationally recognised under a variety of treaties to which Ireland is a signatory. It is also a core value articulated many times in Irish history. The commitment to “cherishing all the children of the nation equally”1 was specifically written into the Proclamation of the Republic whose 100th anniversary we will be celebrating next year. The use of the term “cherishing” is extraordinary. It is a deeply caring term which includes not only access to schools but also equality in the delivery of education itself. Equality in education requires schools that delivery equality of esteem to children irrespective of their social, cultural or religious identity. In the modern world this means schools that operate with the same standards of ethical education programmes and commitment to equality as has been pioneered over the last thirty years by the Educate Together movement. This model of education is open to all and freely available to the Irish State.

Educate Together is proposing that the solution would be a choice of schools in all communities. A move to build a network of schools that provide the same type of guarantees of equality of access and esteem as does the Educate Together model is an affordable and realistic solution. It can be achieved by a combination of agreed transfers of patronage and building of new schools. It will realise what value we place on intellectual and religious freedom and a safeguard of the individual rights of children and families. Educate Together is calling for a national consensus to build such a network. Properly aligned with national planning strategy, this network could be established over the next thirty years. It would ensure that every family in Ireland had access to a school in which the identity of their children was guaranteed equality of esteem within thirty minutes travel time in the morning. It will be an appropriate implementation of the commitment in the 1916 proclamation.

17 Jun, 2015

Ireland’s ageing population

2018-03-16T12:03:54+01:00June 17th, 2015|News|Comments Off on Ireland’s ageing population

Nicola Donnelly, Communications Officer at the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI). CARDI is a non-profit research-focused organisation established in 2007 by leaders from the ageing field across Ireland, both North and South. It receives support from The Atlantic Philanthropies and is hosted by the Institute of Public Health in Ireland.

Ireland’s ageing population

Although still relatively young by EU standards, the population of Ireland is ageing. The proportion of people 65 and over is growing rapidly and many people are now living longer and healthier lives. This demographic transformation provides policymakers with many opportunities and challenges. Ageing research can play a vital role in supporting effective policymaking to help make Ireland a great place to grow old. It can also help ensure that older people’s contribution is recognised and valued.

One in every five people walking down Grafton Street in twenty years will be over 65

Currently there are 540,000 people aged 65+ in Ireland which accounts, for 12% of the total population. This is set to rise to 1.4m, or 22% of the total population, by 2041 (Central Statistics Office, 2013). While the projected changes in the population aged 65-and-over are striking, changes for the group aged 80 and over are even more dramatic. Over the same thirty-year period, the number of people aged 80 and over in Ireland is projected to rise from 130,600 to 458,000 – an increase of 250%. Ageing on this scale is unprecedented in Irish history (The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA), 2014).

Life expectancy at birth is now 76.8 years for men and 81.6 years for women

This population shift is mostly due to the dramatic increase in life expectancy experienced in Ireland in the past 100 years. Life expectancy at birth is now 76.8 years for men and 81.6 years for women (CSO, 2013).The ageing population is, on one hand, a tremendous success story, but while many of us are living healthier lives into old age, this is not universal.

Ireland’s ageing population requires careful planning and policymaking that is grounded in evidence and research so that the future of old age in Ireland is one that promises everyone a healthier, more secure, and fulfilled later life. Since its establishment, CARDI has worked to develop the ageing research community in Ireland and to increase its impact through funding, communication and dissemination activities to help secure this aim.

26% of people aged 50 and over are entirely dependent on the state for their income

Considerable health, social, and economic inequalities have yet to be overcome to help us achieve a healthy, active and fulfilling old age for all. For example, while recent decades have seen a reduction in the levels of poverty experienced by older people to a low of just over 9% living in deprivation in 2009, more recent data shows a rise in this figure to 11% (CSO, 2013). In addition, the number of older people totally reliant on state supports for income remains high. More than one-quarter of all people (26%) aged 50-and-over have no income other than what they get from the state (TILDA, 2014).

Healthcare costs relating to older people are expected to rise from 6% to 11% of GDP by 2050

An ageing population brings implications for policy, service delivery, and long-term planning in diverse areas such as transport, health, housing, education and employment.  One key area of concern when considering Ireland’s ageing population is the cost of healthcare and the provision of long-term care. Healthcare costs are undoubtedly on the rise and costs relating to older peopleare expected to rise from 6% of GDP currently to 11% of GDP by 2050 as demand for health services grow.

For every year from now until 2021, an extra 818 additional people will need nursing home care

As our population ages and the numbers of people requiring residential care is increasing. In 2012, research funded by the CARDI found that the number of people aged 65 and over using residential care will rise to 12,270 by 2021 – an increase of 59% since 2006 (Wren et al 2012). This means that for every year from now until 2021, an extra 818 additional people will need residential long-term care, but only 300 places are being created in 2015.

47% of older people in Ireland provide care to grandchildren

Discussion about the ageing population is often dominated by debate about the challenges and costs associated with a growing proportion of older people in society. However, it is also important to acknowledge the great contribution made by older people in many areas of life in Ireland. For example, the TILDA study of over 50s in Ireland highlights the economic and social contributions made by older people through financial transfers and care provision. Over one-quarter of older households reported giving a financial or material gift worth €5,000 or more to one (or more) of their children within the last ten years. Of those households that gave money to children, the mean value is €60,512, while the median value was €20,000.  In addition, over one-third of older adults (36%) provide practical household help including shopping and household chores to their adult children and 47% provide care to grandchildren (TILDA, 2011&2014).

Planning and good policy making can help meet the challenges ahead for Ireland’s ageing population. Recognising the importance of tackling issues of health and socioeconomic inequalities among older people and across all age groups is key to ensuring a better future for us all. It is important, too, that we celebrate and embrace the opportunities that an ageing population will bring. By focusing only on perceived negative impacts we do a disservice not only to the older generation but to society as a whole. Increased longevity is a great success and it is vital that we focus on promoting a healthy active lifestyle across the life-course, so we can all enjoy longer and more fulfilled lives.

More information