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Joe Soap Got It Right Again.

Every ordinary unqualified ‘Joe Soap’, in Thurles town, forecast that the design put on display for Bowe’s corner, early last October, would be a disaster.
The issues raised by these unqualified ‘Joe Soap’s’, raised real concerns with regards to large trucks and buses making a left hand turn from Butler Avenue and Railway road, in their effort to access Abbey Road, (R660), Garryvicleheen, Thurles, without having to enter a wrong, oncoming vehicle lane. But sure what would ‘Joe Soap’s’ know about road engineering.

Thurles and Templemore Municipal District Engineer, Mr Thomas Duffy pleaded for patience with the Bowes’ Corner project, after a lot of ‘Joe Soap’s’ and some local councillors expressed concerns about the unfinished layout.
Mr Duffy was to go back to the road designers to discuss these many local concerns.

Fianna Fáil, Councillor Mr Seamus Hanafin, lacking somewhat in forward thinking; refused to be critical of this new design, since, as he stated, it remained incomplete.

According to Mr Duffey, the designers of this €650,000, project (€500.000 plus the €150.000 later added we are told) had run their ruler over their design, on numerous occasions, and he appealed to the unqualified ‘Joe Soap’s’ to have patience and wait until the project was completed and the overall plan was fully in place, before casting judgement.

Speed Hump (Black/Yellow) Safety Sign Adjusted by Traffic on Butler Avenue, close to Bowes Corner.

Well, as evidenced by the picture above, one high sided vehicle turning from the Cork side of Thurles Railway Station, unto Butler Avenue, now has a dirty great scratch along its side. It was attempting to get behind traffic already trapped, queued on the yellow diagonal box in the centre of the road; which happens so often, when traffic ahead is forced to comes to an unexpected sudden halt, at junctions.

When you erect a sign on a restricted narrow road; same jutting out over a kerb, expect it to be adjusted by heavy traffic, each and all attempting to use a restricted route.

Yes, not for the first time, has Councillor Mr Seamus Hanafin and District Engineer Mr Thomas Duffy, got it completely wrong. But sure taxpayers’ pockets are deep, so what does €650,000 for a little road alignment, matter anyway.

Measure twice, Cut once.
See the new Liberty Square update for example: HERE and HERE and HERE and the new R-660 Abbey Road Roundabout HERE. Obviously, someone has cut a meter or so out of the centre of the engineer’s tape measure.

Time for Tipperary Co. Council to change their road designers and maybe employ ordinary unqualified ‘Joe Soaps’.


Launch Of Updated Information Sharing System Across EU, Welcomed.

The Schengen Information System (SIS) Recast, will allow for enhanced information sharing on people and objects, allowing national authorities to better pursue and prevent serious crimes and terrorism.

The SIS Recast, by the European Commission has been fully implemented by An Garda Síochána, working in close collaboration with the Commission and other participating States.

It is the largest and most widely used IT system for public security in Europe and has received new functionalities through this upgrade, which went live this week.

Minister Harris has been discussing the upgrade with his EU Justice and Home Affairs colleagues at a meeting in Brussels today.

Ireland connected to SIS in March 2021 and since then it has proven to be an extremely effective tool for An Garda Síochána, in tackling crime domestically and also in contributing to international criminal investigations.

The system enables law enforcement agencies, including An Garda Síochána, to share and check data in real time on wanted persons, missing persons, persons who may not have the right to enter or stay in EU member states, and objects/vehicles that may have been stolen.

Under the updates this week, new types of biometrics, such as palm prints, fingermarks and DNA records (only in relation to missing persons) will be included on SIS to confirm and verify the identity of people registered in the system.

Authorities can also enter preventive alerts to protect certain categories of vulnerable persons, such as children at high risk of parental abduction, children at risk of becoming victims of trafficking in human beings, and children at risk of being recruited as foreign terrorist fighters.

Minister Mr Simon Harris said; “Gardaí must have access to the most up-to-date technology and data in order to continue to provide the world class policing service we have come to expect as we work together to build stronger, safer communities.
Crime does not respect borders, and new technologies, along with strong cooperation with our friends in Europe and beyond, is crucial in ensuring that people are safe and can feel safe in communities across Ireland.
I am confident that SIS RECAST will prove invaluable for An Garda Síochána and I commend the detailed work that An Garda Síochána has carried out over many months to ensure that Ireland has implemented this upgrade alongside the rest of the EU.”

Under the developments which went live this week, new alerts have been introduced across the SIS system.

These include:

*Introduction of a new alert category of “unknown wanted persons” connected to a serious crime, e.g., persons whose fingerprints are found on a weapon used in a crime;

*Extension of the existing category of “missing persons” to “vulnerable persons who need to be prevented from travelling,” e.g., children at high risk of parental abduction, children at risk of becoming victims of trafficking in human beings, and children at risk of being recruited as foreign terrorist fighters;

* Creation of the new category “inquiry check” allowing national law enforcement authorities to stop and interview a person in order for the issuing Member State to obtain detailed information;

* Introduction of the category of “objects of high value,” e.g., items of information technology such as laptops, which can be identified and searched with a unique identification number.

* Obligation for Member States to create SIS alerts for cases related to terrorist offences;

* Obligation to inform Europol of hit alerts linked to terrorism in order to help to “connect the dots” of terrorism at the European level.


Dedicated State Agency To Oversee Dramatic Increase In Refuge Accommodation.

  • Agency to have wide responsibilities – including enhanced research and delivery of services
  • New Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence agency to be established by 1 January 2024
  • Agency will bring expertise and whole-of-Government focus to tackling domestic, sexual and gender-based violence (DSGBV), with all public service bodies co-ordinating to change societal attitudes and achieve ‘zero tolerance’ to DSGBV

The Minister for Justice, Mr Simon Harris TD, has secured Government approval for the drafting of legislation to create a statutory agency dedicated to tackling and reducing domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.

It follows the Government’s decision last June that an agency should be established under the remit of the Department of Justice to deliver on commitments under Zero Tolerance, the Third National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence.

One of its key responsibilities will be overseeing and supporting the provision of refuge accommodation for victims to help deliver on the Government’s commitment to double the number of refuge places and increase the number of safe homes and other accommodation over the duration of the Zero Tolerance plan.

However, the establishment of the agency will also ensure that there is permanent structure to help deliver further refuge accommodation over the long term.

To assist with this, the new agency will prepare and publish standards for service provision and governance in respect of the DSGBV services and accommodation, and monitor adherence to those standards.

Minister Harris said: “This new agency will be tasked with ensuring the delivery of services to victims of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence, and with driving and coordinating the implementation of the Third National Strategy across Government.

It will bring the dedicated and expert focus that is needed to tackle this serious and complex societal issue. The agency will be up and running by next January. Publishing the General Scheme is a significant milestone on that path, and I wish to thank colleagues and the sector for their support for this important work.

This sends a clear message from Government that domestic and gender based violence will never be tolerated. I want to thank my colleague Minister McEntee for leading on this, as part of the Zero Tolerance strategy.”

The core functions of the agency, as set out in the newly-published General Scheme include:

  • planning, commissioning and funding DSGBV services;
  • overseeing and supporting the provision of refuge accommodation for victims;
  • setting standards for services and refuges, and monitoring adherence;
  • disseminating information on DSGBV, and leading and supporting awareness-raising campaigns;
  • conducting, commissioning and supporting research;
  • supporting, co-ordinating and reporting on the implementation of the Strategy;
  • assisting the Minister in developing future DSGBV strategies.

The agency will have a key role in engaging and consulting with stakeholders in the DSGBV area.

The new legislation – including the core statutory functions set out for the agency – has been guided by the Strategy, and by positive engagement with relevant Government Departments and State bodies, including the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and Tusla, from whom the new Agency will take over the provision of services to DSGBV victims.

There has also been significant consultation with the non-governmental DSGBV sector under an agreed principle of ‘co-design’ with those delivering frontline services.

The work of the Agency will be overseen by a non-executive board which will oversee the internal governance of the agency, adopt strategic and annual business plans for the Minister’s approval, and manage and appraise the performance of the Chief Executive of the Agency.

The General Scheme of the Bill will now be referred to the Justice Committee for pre-legislative scrutiny and once their report is received, work on finalising the Bill will be prioritised so that it can be published and begin its progression through the Houses with a view to enactment before the end of the year.

The General Scheme can be read in full, eventually HERE


Electric Ireland Calls A Halt To ‘Hello Again World’.

The Chief Medical Officer has urged, older people in particular, to reconnect with the rest of the world, some three years on from the first case of Covid-19 having been confirmed in Ireland.
In an open letter addressed to older people in Ireland, as part of a multimedia campaign ‘Hello Again World’, Professor Breda Smyth addresses the isolation and loneliness experienced by older people during the pandemic, saying: “If you haven’t yet returned to doing the things that you love, I am encouraging you to do so now.”

By this latter remark, we must assume that Professor Smyth would like older people to get out, buy a coffee; buy a lunch; visit the cinema; go to a show; attend a football or hurling game, buy a pint in their local licenced hostelry, etc.

No doubt Professor Smyth is correct, however obviously, this very capable lady has not seen her ESB bill so far this month.

The ‘Electric Ireland’ bill shown above was forwarded to us by a 76 year old male pensioner and same should help to explain our headline above.

But first, who is ‘Electric Ireland’?
Electric Ireland is the retail division of ESB (Electricity Supply Board). ESB was established in 1927 as a statutory corporation in the Republic of Ireland and the majority of shares are held by the Irish Government.
Previously known as ESB Customer Supply and ESB Independent Energy, the retail division of ESB has been rebranded to Electric Ireland in 2012. Recognised as Ireland’s leading energy provider, Electric Ireland supplies electricity, gas and energy services to over 1.2 million households and 95,000 businesses in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

IrelandNo Country for Old Men or Women

From the 76 year old male pensioner, who wishes to remain anonymous, so we will call him Pat; we glean from him in a one-to-one discussion the following information:-
Pat lives alone in a small terraced house having worked, nonstop, all his working life since 1967.
His current income is a weekly pension of €260.10, per week, [1,040.40 per month or €13,525.20 per year].
He pays local property tax at the lower rate of €90.
He is a car owner, 08 reg, Insurance €420, Road Tax €280. He spends €20 on petrol each week to attend Mass, Shop for groceries, and for attending at a medical clinic. One car service and 4 new tyres, this year cost him €798. Seperately a set of windscreen wipers fitted cost €38.
He has no electric cooker and no electric shower. He cooks his main meal on a gas cooker which costs €540 per year.
He owns one electric heater but has not used same since electricity prices increased.
His heating outside his living room is a Superser Radiant Gas Heater, purchased at a cost of €160, [Used sparingly to heat his bedroom, the renewal of this second gas cylinder costs also €35 per month or €420 per year.
He claims no fuel allowance from the state, since he gets a gift of timber for his living room fire from a farming neighbours.
He no longer eats breakfast, eating only two meals each day; a toasted sandwich for lunch using a electric sandwich maker, or an omelette using an electric omelette maker.
His heating outside his living room is a Superser Radiant Gas Heater, purchased at a cost of €160, [Used sparingly to heat his bedroom, the renewal of his gas cylinder costs €35 per month or €420 per year.
Internet and Mobile Phone costs €40 per month.
He was forced to replace his television in the last year and his washing machine, due to their age, at a total cost of €790.
His groceries, including meat, averages around €100 per week.
Non prescription creams costs him €26 per month.
He attended two family weddings last year, on which he spent €390 to buy footwear and clothing and €300 on wedding gifts.
A daily copy of a cheap newspaper cost him €547.50.
Last Summer Pat was forced to paint the outer walls of his home. Paint and labour cost €480.
Christmas gifts to family and close friends cost €208, mostly spent on confectionary items on adults friends and cheap toys for grandchildren.

Pat admits that his current savings amount to €129.22.
His next Electric Ireland Bill is €959.72, less Electric Ireland Credit of €45.87 and less Government Electricity credit 2 of €183.49; thus leaving the total amount due on an estimated bill at €717.84 due to be paid by March 9th 2023.

We totted up Pat’s expenses, revealing annual expenditure of €12,880.50 and savings of €129.22. We asked what he had spent the odd remaining €516 on.

His reply was that €365 went on the collection plate at Mass on a Saturday night and the remainder was possibly given away on donations in lieu of flowers at a few friends funerals, in support of various charities; “Oh and I bought a 3 pack of electric bayonet led light bulbs in Dunnes Stores, last Monday; they cost €9 something”, he quickly interjected.

“So how do you intend to pay your next ESB bill?” we asked.
“I can’t, so they will possibly cut me off,” came the reply, “but candles are cheap, the Summer is coming and as long as I can afford batteries for my radio I’ll survive. As the film title said ‘This is no country for old men’ or indeed old women for that matter”, he added, “and the next General Election, will be held, at the very latest, by March 2025, if not before, by the will of the people, and if I live until then, please God, me and my likes can make a few changes with regards those who currently rule over us; holding the Irish public to ransome simply because they can.”


Ban On Cutting Of Hedgerows & Burning Of Gorse & Heather Came Into Effect Today.

From today, March 1st, a ban on cutting hedgerows and burning gorse and heather has come into effect and will remain in place until August 31st 2023 next.

Over the coming months, birds and mammals, particularly those considered endangered species, who hopefully will have found a mate; will build their nest in an effort to lay eggs and rear young families.

Above video was taken on April 13rd, 2022.

Under the current Wildlife Act, the ban on cutting hedgerows is aimed at giving all birds and other animals the best chance possible to breed successfully and share our world.

There are a number of exemptions to the ban, including the summertime trimming of hedges in the ordinary course of gardening and the cutting of roadside hedges to prevent obstruction to motorists.

The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage said it is taking cases of wildlife crime seriously and has urged people to protect hedgerow and upland habitats.

Efforts last year to make email contact with Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Mr Malcolm Noonan, on numerous occasions over a two year period, while acknowledged, went unanswered.

It should be noted that the clearance of vegetation in the course of road or other construction works, or in the development or preparation of sites on which any building or other structure is intended to be provided, still remains exempt under Section 40 of the Wildlife Act. This rule therefore gives Tipperary Co. Council and Thurles Municipal Council and Developers free reign, to do whatever they wish, as we observed in April of last year, 2022.