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    If you need any help, please feel free to contact me.

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  • CAO Question

    CAO Queries

    The CAO deadline is fast approaching, with normal applications closing on the 1st of February. There is a host of wonderful choices and many different types of third level options available to everyone.

    The CAO has prepared a PDF which explains in detail various questions you as a student or parent may have regarding the next step in your education.

    Mapping Your Future

    CAO Timetable

    As a qualified career guidance teacher, I am happy to discuss various education options with anyone. So please contact me if you are having difficulty.

  • Recycling Symbol

    Lack of Transparency – Waste & Recycling Industries

    I propose that the council write to the Minister of the Environment and Local Government to establish an ombudsman for the waste and recycling industries, the function of which would be to regulate the significant increases in charges that are being levied on householders and businesses over the past number of years.

    Based on my consultations with the executive of the local authority, it has become apparent that there is no control over the companies that run the waste collection services in each county.
    While the companies must be registered with the NWCPO (National Waste Collection Permit Office), there is no control over the costs charged to the users, both domestic and commercial.
    In the last 5 years the costs of collection have increased steadily. The most significant increase has been in the standing charges levied by the companies, which have increased by over 400%.
    Given that householders are obliged to have an account with a waste provider, it is absolutely necessary that the sector is regulated, and that some independent body would have the power to review and impose limits on any increase that is proposed by the companies. The number of providers in county Sligo and the surrounding counties and areas is limited which leads to the possibility that collusion between providers in relation to price.
    My proposal that the Minister appoint an ombudsman would provide consumers with a service in which to raise issues and lodge complaints in relation to the service provided and the price charged.

  • Child Care

    Employment Regulation Order – Childcare Sector

    I propose that this council write to the Minister for Jobs Enterprise and Innovation to the effect that the government should, under the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Act, allow for the adoption of an Employment Regulation Order to be established for workers in the Childcare Sector.

    A Childcare Worker earns an average wage of €9.41 per hour, and an average of €19,000 per annum. Pay for this job does not change much by experience, with the most experienced earning only a bit more than the least. People in this job generally don’t have more than 20 years’ experience

    The rate of investment in Early Childhood Education is too low. The sector lacks a clear strategic vision. No single year of investment, however large, will deliver the key policy objective of uniformly increasing quality throughout the system. Given that higher quality early childhood education has positive long-term returns for the child experiencing the education, their families, and society. The return can be as high as €7 for every €1 spent.

  • Mediation

    Mediation – A Cost Effective Alternative to the Courts

    The costs of going to court in Ireland are well documented, and a person could expect to spend over €50,000 per party per day in the High Court.

    There is a means of reducing both the time and cost involved in civil cases. Councillor Marie Casserly recommends that parties consider Commercial mediation, which she says, has been shown to have approximately an 85% success rate in helping parties to a dispute to come to their own solution.

    The parties normally appoint an independent mediator, either from a panel appointed by a professional body, or from a person who both parties trust to undertake the role. Many mediators are legally qualified, however it is not necessary.

    The mediation would normally take place within seven days of the appointment of the mediator, and the objective is for the parties to come to their own solution to the dispute.

    The normal procedure on the day of a mediation is to have a joint meeting of the parties, followed by separate meetings between the parties and the mediator, with the objective of getting the parties to agree to a resolution. If the parties do not agree at the end of the day, the mediation is deemed to be complete and the parties can return to the courts to have them decide.

    Everything that takes place in mediation is confidential and without prejudice, which means you cannot use any information that comes out in the mediation in any further litigation. The process in entirely voluntary, which means that any party can walk away at any time.

    Councillor Marie Casserly, herself a qualified family mediator, says ‘We should be looking to mediation as a means of reducing the legal costs of ordinary people having access to justice. People should be told that there is the option of going to mediation as a means of settling civil disputes. Issues such as boundary disputes, commercial issues between small companies, as well as contractual matters could all be referred, in the first instance, to mediation. This should have the effect of significantly reducing the costs associated with peoples’ access to justice, as well as clearing court lists.

  • Almost in Sligo

    Pope Francis invited to visit Sligo

    Independent Councillor Marie Casserly has welcomed the news that Sligo County Council is the first council to invite Pope Francis to visit during his trip to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families in 2018. Cllr Casserly, who drafted and submitted the motion to invite the Pope, which was passed unanimously, said that the county’s unique Christian tradition made it a perfect stop-off point during any future Papal visit.

    Speaking following the council meeting she said:  “Pope Francis’ commitment to the poor and helping those who are vulnerable is an inspiration. He sets an example to us all and I know people of all faiths and none see his vision and outlook as something which has and continues to make the world a better place.”

    “I am delighted that Sligo is the first county in Ireland to issue an official invite for Pope Francis to visit should he attend the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in 2018. This would be only the second time a Pope has visited Ireland and anyone old enough to remember the visit of John Paul II in 1979 will remember the profound impact he had across the country.

    “As well as the various beauty spots across Sligo, Innishmurray is one of Europe’s oldest surviving monastic settlements and as fine an example of our Christian heritage as you’ll see anywhere. Last time the Pope made it as far North as Knock, hopefully this time he’ll make it up the N4 to Sligo!,” she added.

    The invite will be issued to the Pope via the Papal Nuncio in Dublin, Archbishop Charles Brown. Pope Francis recently attended the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia when it was announced that the next meeting would take place in Dublin in 2018. The Pope is expected to attend that event which will see him make the 2,500km trip from Rome to Dublin.

    Pope Sligo Visit

  • Childcare

    Childcare Cost Among Highest in EU

    For the many parents who attempt to juggle both work and family commitments in Ireland, a significant hurdle that needs to be overcome is access to quality, affordable childcare.
    According to the OECD, the average cost of childcare across its’ member countries is equivalent to 12% of a family’s income – if only this were true in the Irish context where average cost of childcare represents a massive 35% of a family’s income .Even for higher earners, the percentage is 24% – still double the OECD average. As a percentage of wages, net childcare costs in Ireland are the highest in the EU.
    Childcare costs can represent the equivalent of a second mortgage for families and can make it uneconomic for both parents to work. And where does that leave those on low incomes or single parent families for whom the relative cost of childcare is even higher – 40% of average income for a single parent on an average income? This is particularly pertinent in Ireland where over 25% of all families with children are one-parent families, with 87% of them headed by women.
    Clearly these high costs represent a natural barrier/deterrent for those parents seeking to leave the live register and re-enter employment.
    Last year, as part of the European Commission’s analysis of the Irish economy and the structural challenges which must be addressed if Ireland’s economic recovery is to be sustained, access to affordable childcare was identified as a priority issue, in particular for women and for low income families.
    6 months ago the Commission published it’s ‘Country Report on Ireland’ and again made the point that the “limited availability and high cost of childcare remains a significant barrier to increased female labour market participation”. [Women’s employment rate at 61% remains 10% lower than men’s.]
    The report concluded that “No progress was made in improving access to more affordable and full-time childcare”.
    This contributes to Ireland having one of the highest proportions of people living in households with low work intensity in the EU, increasing the risk of social exclusion and child poverty.
    A recent survey carried out by a national newspaper shows that it costs up to €1,150 a month for a creche place for a baby. And for both a baby and toddler the cost can rise as high as €2,035 per month.
    But to meet that monthly expense for two children a mother would need to earn €30,000 a year – which after tax would leave her with €2,071 a month, or virtually nothing once the childcare costs were paid.
    The average price of a creche place in the survey was €888 for a baby and €1,596 for two children – so you’d need to earn €22,000 a year just to break even on work, as that salary leaves you with just €1,611 a month after tax.
    And despite stagnant wages, parents have also been hit with rises in childcare costs in the last year, with Central Statistic Office figures showing a 2.4pc increase.
    A recent survey found 63pc were struggling to meet their childcare costs while 84pc of stay-at-home mothers wanted to work in some capacity but felt trapped by childcare costs.
    Childcare providers also have huge overheads and costs to meet. Most qualified childcare workers are just earning the minimum wage and are finding it hard to make ends meet.
    This is a huge issue for parents, childcare providers and society in general and one that has failed to be tackled by previous and present governments.

  • School Books

    School Books – Lack of Rental Scheme

    School book rental schemes remove the need for parents to purchase new textbooks and are also considered as a viable alternative to annual second-hand book sales. Schools with established schemes indicated an average saving to parents of almost eighty per cent of the cost of buying new books.

    School principals and boards of management not currently providing access to the book rental scheme are being urged to do so for the sake of hard-pressed families.

    The scheme, currently being run in 90% of primary schools, allows pupils to pay a lower amount for the books they need, provided they are returned at the end of the year.

    At second level the scheme is operated over three years and requires a deposit.

    Independent County Councillor and Guidance Counsellor at St. Mary’s College, in Ballisodare, Marie Casserly says that unfortunately the uptake in secondary schools is much lower at just 64%.

    According to Ms. Casserly, the scheme is excellent as it cuts out the hassle of buying books in August, dramatically cuts down on costs for parents and reduces waste.

    A survey has found that parents will spend an average of almost €400 per child on uniforms and books this September.

    A study by the Irish League of Credit Unions found that almost a third of parents find themselves in debt covering back to school costs.

    The survey found that uniforms can cost an average of €166 for primary school children and €258 for secondary school students.

    School books for primary school children cost an average of €106 and €213 for secondary school students.

    Over two-thirds of those surveyed said the costs will impact their ability to pay household bills or afford a holiday.

    The survey found that 20% of parents surveyed said they will need to borrow to meet the costs of going back to school

    It is unfair that not all parents have and students have access to it. It is an extremely costly time of year for parents, having to pay for buses, school uniforms, art supplies, and equipment for different subjects, not to mention voluntary contributions to schools, and school insurance.

  • Rural Crime

    Rural Crime

    Casserly alarmed at rural crime figures for Sligo, Leitrim & South Donegal

    Speaking this week, Independent Councillor and Dáil candidate Marie Casserly expressed alarm that three of the top six highest areas for recorded crime last year in Connacht and Ulster were located in the Sligo/Leitrim constituency. The statistics were published in The Times 2015 Neighbourhood Crime Survey recently.

    Bundoran Garda Station recorded one of the country’s highest crime rates, with 8.2 reported crimes per 100 of the population, putting it 15th on the national index. Carrick-on-Shannon station recorded 6.1 crimes per 100 of the population placing it in 35th position nationally.  The third highest station for crime in the constituency, Sligo, reported 5.6 crimes per 100 of the population. It was the 47th highest station nationally.

    The only stations recording higher crime than any of these across all of Ulster and Connacht were Letterkenny, Ballinasloe and Galway. In addition Bundoran, Sligo and Carrick-on-Shannon all record the highest incidence of crime of any towns in their respective counties.

    “Not only does the closure of Garda stations across rural Ireland mean that people feel less safe in their homes, it also means we see statistics like this which see three of the top six highest crime hotspots in Connacht and Ulster located in Sligo/Leitrim.” said Marie.

    “There are entire counties – including Mayo, Monaghan and Roscommon – with lower crime rates than recorded in Bundoran, Sligo or Carrick-on-Shannon and the message to the Minister for Justice and Garda Commissioner is that the level of crime in rural towns must be reduced,” she added.

    Between 2013 and 2015 ten Garda stations in counties Sligo and Leitrim were closed and Councillor Casserly said that rural policing must become a priority for the next government.

    “Any increase in crime in rural towns and cities cannot be tolerated. While much is made of falling crime statistics nationally, the fact is that some of the most serious crimes continue to increase including burglary, theft and assaults. Effective policing, tagging of alleged offenders while on bail and strong co-operation from the community can all help in the fight against crime,” she added.

     

    Full details of The Times National Crime Survey 2015 can be found online here: http://times-deck.s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/projects/312351bff07989769097660a56395065.html

  • Mobile Phone Graph

    Poor Mobile Signals

    Basic mobile phone signals are at an unacceptable poor level in many parts of the North West and a solution must be found.

    That’s the view of Marie Casserly, Independent councillor and General Election candidate for the Sligo-Leitrim, South Donegal, West Cavan constituency.
    She said the Government should ask the regulator ComReg to ensure phone customers deliver the service they are charging people for. Cllr Casserly said that practically every day she hears of the frustrations of mobile phone customers. She said signals are deteriorating all the time. It’s common to all networks and not just confined to remote areas.

    “I know of several people on the outskirts of large towns who can only make and receive calls in one corner of a room in their home”. She said that she had a complaint this week from an elderly woman only three miles from Sligo town who has to go out to her back garden to receive a call from her son or to send a text message. “This is not good enough.  Over 46 years ago, in 1969, long before the computer age, men landed on the moon and were able to send instant pictures and sound back to earth.  Yet in 2015 we are expected to put up with this situation,” Cllr Casserly said.

    She said customers are paying for a service they are not getting. “Often they find themselves locked into a 24-month contract and are unable to switch to another service provider who might have a stronger signal in their particular area. “However, if justice were to prevail, the company should not be allowed to compel people to pay if they cannot or will not provide the service.” She said she is aware of cases where people spend up to half an hour trying to make a case to Customer Service, most of which is spent holding on or talking to a machine. “Eventually they get through to somebody who tries to fob them off with false promises of efforts to improve the signal”.

    She said that if the mobile phone companies are not prepared to deal with the issue the Government should ask the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) to intervene. She said the issue of poor or no broadband coverage in rural areas is rightly highlighted on a regular basis, but the mobile phone problem is just as serious and does not receive as much attention.

    Councillor Casserly said she will pursue both the phone and broadband issues at every opportunity.

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