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News from the 32

Ireland's Eye: What's going on in the old sod

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News from the 32

Hands off our water

Dublinshould not prosper to the detriment of Limerick and other towns along the Shannon River, according to former minister Mary O'Rourke who is president of the Shannon Protection Alliance.

O'Rourke said it would be "an act of vandalism" if Dublin City Council was to extract huge volumes of water from the Shannon to boost decreasing water supplies in the capital.

She made her comments at a public meeting at the Strand Hotel organized by the Limerick branch of the alliance. The alliance is opposed to Dublin City Council's proposals to extract 500 million liters of water per day from Terryglass at the top of Lough Derg.

"Where the River Shannon flows and how it flows is an act of nature, and to attempt to distort that, which is what the taking of water would be, is an act of vandalism," said O’Rourke, a TD (member of Parliament) for Fianna Fail.

"Dublin is the capital city and Dublin must prosper, but so must the rest of Ireland. Dublin should not prosper to the detriment of places like Athlone and Limerick and Nenagh, which have every right to prosper, and they won't prosper if they are left literally high and dry."
-Limerick Leader

Say it straight!

A report commissioned by Longford local authorities into future flooding concerns on the River Camlin, which is believed to have cost the taxpayer thousands of euro, will have to be translated into "plain English" after councilors admitted they could not understand its findings.

The study carried out by Dublin-based firm Nicholas O'Dwyer Consultancy Engineers had originally been intended to thrash out a range of anti-flooding requirements along one of the River Shannon's main tributaries.

But when presented with the report at a meeting of Longford Town Council, a series of elected members said the document was incomprehensible because of the complex terminology used by its authors.

Hitting out at the council's preference to enlist external professionals, as opposed to using its own engineers to carry out the report, Councilor Michael Connellan took exception with how the study had been compiled.

"I just can't make head nor tail of it," he complained. "I have tried and I have studied it today but I have no idea what it is. I would invite these people … to come to a meeting and explain it because I personally cannot understand it."

Connellan was not alone in his condemnation of the report's structure. Councilor Tony Flaherty said he found it strange that local authority officials should have felt the need to look outside the county for expert advice when there were "27-odd engineers" within both town and county councils. Councilor Mae Sexton was likewise dissatisfied with the way the entire episode had been handled.

"How anybody is expected to understand what they are talking about, I don't know," she stated. "We need it in plain English."

Members also took issue at the apparent omission of five key impediments along the river which had been aired at a county council meeting just before the summer recess.
-Longford Leader

Big classes

Although a rural county with a small population, 23% of primary school children in Leitrim are in classes of 30 or more, a 14% jump from the last two years and well above the national average.

In total 668 pupils in Leitrim are in classes over 30, while 71 students are in classes that range from 35-39. This represents 23% of all primary school kids in the county, a massive jump from just 9.7% in the 2008/2009 term.

Irish National Teachers Organization (INTO) general secretary Sheila Nunan said the figures showed the problem in overcrowded classes in primary schools, already the second highest in the EU, was getting worse.

She said almost a decade ago that the government promised to reduce class sizes for the under-nines to less than 20, in line with international best practice.

Nunan said there was widespread agreement that younger children did not do as well in overcrowded classes.

The dramatic jump in figures in Leitrim is mainly due to teacher cutbacks in 2008. The failure to tackle increasing class sizes in primary schools means that many children are being subjected to a huge educational disadvantage which has negative, long-term consequences, claims local TD Denis Naughten.

"Irish classrooms are among the most overcrowded in Europe, and larger class sizes result in less teacher time being available for each pupil. This lack of individual attention means that teachers cannot respond immediately to children's particular learning needs," stated Naughten.

"Children need to be in classes of no more than 20 to maximize their potential.”

-Leitrim Observer

Shannon setback

The dramatic nosedive in Shannon Airport’s flight schedule over the past year has prompted calls for the immediate implementation of a new business plan and multi-million euro marketing strategy to revive the airport’s flagging fortunes.

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