News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Friday 15th January 2016

Ireland’s second-level teachers to stage a one day strike before election

Lecturers in institutes of technology to also engage in work stoppages early next month

   

Areas of concern identified by the TUI include income poverty for teachers and casualisation. 

Second level teachers are planning to stage a one-day strike prior to the forthcoming general election.

The move could affect students in about 350 schools across the country, mainly in the vocational, community and comprehensive sectors.

The executive of the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) decided on Friday to stage a one-day strike after members voted by a margin of 89 per cent in favour of industrial action.

The date of the planned strike has not yet been determined .

The union said on Friday that the the stoppage in second level schools would go ahead unless its demand for “meaningful talks” are areas of significant concern was met.

Lecturers in institutes of technology, who are also represented by the TUI, are separately planning to stage a one-day strike on February 3rd over serious concerns about issues within their sector.

The areas of concern identified by the TUI include income poverty for teachers, casualisation,what it described as a collapse of student support systems as well as greater bureaucracy in the education sector.

TUI president Gerry Quinn said: “Following an overwhelming mandate for industrial action from members, TUI’s executive committee today decided that unless the union’s demand for talks on a number of crisis issues is met, teachers will take a day’s strike action before the general election.”

The Department of Education said it was open to engaging with the TUI “on issues of mutual concern in the context of their continuing co-operation with collective agreements”.

It said an increase of more than €200 million in the education budget had allowed for a cut in the pupil teacher ratio at primary level and second-level, the employment of approximately 3000 more teachers, and the enhancement of school leadership.

The Department of Education said it was also currently implementing reforms to tackle casualisation in the teacher profession on foot of a report last year by an expert group.

The TUI said that those who entered the teaching profession from February 2012 had been placed on a severely reduced scale which meant their starting salary declined by 21.7 per cent compared to those appointed prior to 2011 (based on contract of full hours).

“To make matters worse, for several years now, second-level teachers have been applying for fractions of jobs with no guarantee of being retained from year to year. Some 30 per cent of second-level teachers are employed on a temporary and/or part-time basis and this proportion grows to 50 per cent for those under 35.

“As a result of casualisation, students are often taught by a succession of teachers in a given subject area over the course of the Junior or Leaving Certificate cycles. Clearly, this is undesirable.”

The TUI also said it was being reported to it that it is becoming increasingly difficult for schools to attract new teachers in certain subject areas.

Bus Éireann unveils a €50m bus fleet with power sockets and more leg room

Economic growth fuelling increase in bus passenger numbers says Paschal Donohoe

   

Bus Éireann launches new €50m fleet of the future. Tim Gaston of the National Transport Authority is pictured with Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe and Martin Nolan chief executive of Bus Éireann and Teelin the dog.

Bus Éireann’s new €50 million fleet of the future featuring power sockets, free wifi, monitors, and increased leg room has gone on show in Dublin.

A total on 116 new vehicles including 82 seater double deck commuter coaches and 78 seater double deck buses have been bought for city services in Cork, Limerick and Galway as well as commuter services in the greater Dublin area.

The state-of-the-art vehicles also feature real time passenger information, are wheelchair accessible and have lower fuel emissions

Four of the new buses were officially unveiled at King’s Inns, Dublin , by Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe on Friday.

Mr Donohoe said economic growth was driving an increase in bus passenger numbers. He said the funding , provided by his department via the National Transport Authority, would help deliver a more modern, reliable and comfortable fleet by reducing the average age and maintenance costs. “Ensuring that public transport is an attractive option is central to encouraging people to leave the car at home” he said.

Passenger trips made on all Bus Éireann city and rural routes along with commercial and other services amounted to 37.8 million in 2015, up 700,0000 on 2014 figures.

More than 500,000 extra journeys were made on subsidised Public Service Obligation services last year, while more than 200, 000 extra trips were made on commercial and other services

Passenger journeys in Cork city grew by over eight per cent, while commuter journeys to Dublin -were also up from 6.7 million to 6.8 million.

Bus Éireann chief executive Martin Nolan said last year was a second year of increasing passenger journeys on Bus Éireann services.The funding investment in these new vehicles was both progressive and necessary, he said.

Irish flu activity increases significantly says the HPSC

  

All indicators of influenza activity in Ireland increased significantly during week one of the 2016 season (week ending January 10, 2016), with activity at moderate levels.

According to the latest weekly flu report, influenza A(H1)pdm09 and influenza B are co-circulating, with increasing hospitalisations and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions reported during this period.

“It is now recommended that antivirals be considered for the treatment or prevention of influenza in high risk groups,” the HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) recommended, as the number of reported cases of influenza-like illness (ILI) in Ireland has increased in the past week.

During week 1, 2016 the GP consultation rate for ILI increased to 48.5 per 100,000 population from an updated rate of 11.3 per 100,000 during week 53, 2015 (week ending January 3, 2016). ILI rates have increased above the Irish baseline ILI threshold (18 per 100,000 population) for the first time this season, which means that flu is actively circulating in the community, said HPSC Director Dr Darina O’Flanagan.

“Influenza-like illness increased in all age groups but particularly in those aged less than 65 years. Although flu is starting to circulate, flu activity remains at moderate levels,” she said.

“Prevention is better than cure, and the increase in flu activity means it is even more important to get your flu jab if you are in an at-risk group.”

The highest rates reported in the 15-64 year age group and the predominant influenza viruses circulating are influenza A(H1)pdm09 and influenza B. The proportion of influenza-related calls to GP out-of-hours services remained elevated during week 1 2016.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) positivity also remained at high levels during week 1. Positive detections of adenovirus, parainfluenza viruses and human metapneumovirus were reported with respiratory admissions reported from a network of sentinel hospitals having also been at high levels during week 53.

According to the report, there have been 76 confirmed influenza hospitalised cases notified to the HPSC for the 2015/2016 season to date, with six new confirmed influenza cases admitted to critical care units and reported to HPSC during the week ending January 10, 2016, bringing the season total to 13 cases. Four confirmed influenza cases have died so far this flu season.

Four acute respiratory/influenza outbreaks were reported to the HPSC during the week ending January 10, 2016, one in an acute hospital setting and three in residential care facilities.

The 2015/16 influenza season has started in Europe; with the proportion of influenza virus-positive sentinel specimens over 10 per cent for three consecutive weeks, states the report, with viruses characterised to date this season in Europe genetically similar to the strains recommended for inclusion in this winter’s trivalent or quadrivalent vaccines for the northern hemisphere.

You’ll soon be able to delete those annoying default Apple apps

   

iPhone neat freaks can breathe a sigh of relief after it emerged the beta of the latest version of iOS will enable users to remove native apps they don’t use.

Reddit user bfodder noticed that in the beta version of iOS 9.3, with a little tweaking, a user could delete the native apps that previously were untouchable.

This means so-called bloatware apps such as Stocks, Tips, Find Friends and iBooks – often rarely used and consigned to a folder in the corner of your home screen – could be removed completely.

There is a catch however, the process required to remove apps is not only complicated (and involves paying £79 to be in Apple’s Developer Program), but also only applies to some types of users.

In order to make the changes, bfodder had to so some editing in the Configurator program – this is normally only accessible to businesses and schools who need to tailor devices to their needs. In short, it means that this option may never become completely accessible to the general iPhone user.

However, iOS 9.3 is still in beta, so things can still change before it is put on general release to the public. Also, Apple has shown signs recently of softening its stance on native apps, with another shortcut (which you can see below), that enables users to hide apps they don’t use but can’t delete.

With Android beginning to cut down on pre-installed apps as well, it appears bloatware could be on the way out.

NASA takes a look at possible ice volcano’s on Pluto

The New Horizons spacecraft delivers a closer look at what might be a dramatic ice volcano on the surface of Pluto.re

   

Everyone knows what a volcano looks like. It spews out hot lava, spits fire and screams “Don’t touch me!” If you were an astronaut faced with a volcano on Pluto, you might see something very different than what we’re familiar with here on Earth. NASA thinks the dwarf planet may have ice volcanoes on its surface.

NASA has known about the possibility of ice volcanoes on Pluto since last year, but a new image released on Thursday gives scientists a closer look at one of the potential sites for such exotic activity. The New Horizons spacecraft zoomed in for a close flyby in July and has been sending back data and images ever since. The composite color image shows a feature called Wright Mons, named for the pioneering Wright brothers. Wright Mons is massive at 90 miles (150 kilometers) across and 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) high. If NASA confirms that it is an ice volcano, then “it would be the largest such feature discovered in the outer solar system.”arge Image

This could be an ice volcano on Pluto.

Ice volcanoes, also known as cryovolcanoes, kick out a slush containing ice, nitrogen, ammonia and methane, as opposed to the molten rock spit out by Earth volcanoes. Scientists suspect ice volcanoes exist on Saturn’s moon Titan and Neptune’s moon Triton. “To put them in perspective — if Mount Vesuvius had been a cryovolcano, its lava would have frozen the residents of Pompeii,” says NASA scientist Rosaly Lopes.

Wright Mons is located near the bottom left-side point of Pluto’s heart, a heart-shaped formation that covers a large part of the dwarf planet’s surface. The area in the close-up image is notable for its lack of impact craters. NASA says this tells scientists the surface here was created relatively recently and may point to volcanic activity as the culprit.

Pluto is a surprisingly diverse place. Its surface is covered with icy plains, ancient cratered areas and possible dunes. There’s even a pitted area that scientists say acts like an icy lava lamp.

New Horizons launched in 2006, the same year Pluto was demoted from a full planet to dwarf-planet status. The spacecraft reached its main destination in 2015, but there are still plenty of discoveries to be made and new mysteries to be solved as NASA works through the heaps of data and images coming back from deep into space.

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