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New Public Seating On Suir River Walkway.

A welcome Thurles Town upgrade.

This Summer (Deo volente) we can look forward to a more leisurely saunter and “Dwell Awhile”, [as is our new town tourist motto], beside the River Suir here in Thurles.

Regular walkers on the 150 metre stretch, directly behind the new Lidl Supermarket, will have noted the erection of cement bases over the past few weeks.
These bases were introduced to accommodate the new public seating recently erected.
This welcome new seating has been kindly sponsored by some local businesses, i.e., Dew Valley Foods (2 seats), Sherry Fitzgerald Gleeson (1 seat) and Seamus & Peg Hanafin (1 seat).

Sadly, as yet no bases have been erected to accommodate a couple of litter bins.
Evidence of the future results of this negligence can be observed in the picture, shown on right, above.

Hopefully some businesses may now offer to sponsor litter bins.

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Government Approves Publication Of Gambling Regulation Bill.

The Government has today approved the publication of the Gambling Regulation Bill.

Led by Minister of State for Law Reform, Mr James Browne TD, this Bill sets out the framework for a modern, robust regulatory and licensing regime for the gambling sector. The legislation paves the way for the establishment of a gambling regulator focused on public safety and well-being covering gambling online and in person, with the powers to regulate advertising, gambling websites and apps.

The Bill gives legislative underpinning for the new Gambling Regulatory Authority, which will be essential to its success.

Welcoming today’s Government decision, Taoiseach Mr Micheál Martin said: “This approval by Cabinet is significant and the publication of the Bill is unquestionably a major milestone. It is an important and necessary piece of legislation, designed to meet the challenges of gambling responsibly in 21st century Ireland.
This long awaited and much needed Bill takes a responsible approach to balancing the freedom to gamble with the safeguards to protect people from falling prey to addiction. This Bill provides a clearer framework for operators and for consumers.”

Speaking at the launch of the Bill today, Minister for Justice Mrs Helen McEntee said: “At the heart of the Bill is the establishment of the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland, an independent body equipped to enforce regulation of the gambling sector.
The Bill will ensure that the Gambling Regulatory Authority can appropriately, meaningfully and swiftly respond to ongoing and future developments in the gambling sector. The focus on preventing harm is of vital importance. As a former Minister of Mental Health and as a local representative, I have seen the damaging impact gambling addiction can have on people and families, particularly on their mental health.”

The Bill provides for a modern and streamlined approach to gambling licensing activities which will replace the currently fragmented regime. Three types of licences for both in-person and online or remote betting will be introduced:
* Business to Consumer Gaming, Betting and Lottery Licences;
* Business to Business Licences;
* Gambling licences for Charitable/Philanthropic Causes.

Welcoming the Government’s decision today, Minister Mr James Browne TD said: “Reforming gambling legislation and regulation in Ireland is a key commitment in our Programme for Government and Justice Plan, and has been one of my key priorities as Minister. I am pleased to have gotten the draft legislation to this point, and look forward now to it being published and brought through the Houses to enactment.
This legislation will establish a Gambling Regulator which will be robust with a focus on prevention of harm to people vulnerable to problem gambling and particularly protecting children, and also a focus on enforcement of a strong, modern regulatory framework for the gambling industry.
Operators who provide gambling activities without a gambling licence issued by the Authority, or who do not operate in accordance with the provisions of their licence could, if convicted, face to up to 8 years imprisonment and/or a fine at the discretion of the courts.
Strict regulation of gambling advertising will be a priority area for the Authority. Under the legislation, advertising intended to appeal to children will be prohibited, as will advertising that promotes excessive or compulsive gambling.
A watershed prohibiting gambling advertising at certain times of day (between 5:30am and 9:00pm) will be introduced.
In this digital age, to address the particular proliferation of gambling advertising on social media, such advertising shall be prohibited by default.
The Bill also puts forward certain measures to minimise the ill-effects of gambling. The Bill will establish of a National Gambling Exclusion Register. The Bill prohibits the use of credit credits as a form of payment. The Bill will allow the Authority to prohibit the offer of inducements and promotions.
A Social Impact Fund will be created and managed by the Authority while being funded from the industry. It will be used to finance initiatives to reduce problem gambling and support awareness–raising and educational measures.”

There is a pathway mapped for the legislation progressing which will facilitate the Gambling Regulatory Authority of Ireland being established and operational in 2023.

Noting the Government’s decision today, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Mr Roderic O’Gorman said:

“As Minister with the responsibility for Children and Youth I welcome Government’s approval to publish this new legislation which places a particular focus on prevention of harm to people vulnerable to problem gambling, children and young people.
The ever-changing but technologically advanced nature of the gambling industry means that children and teenagers are more exposed than ever to both overt and subtle gambling advertising. It is important that this is properly regulated to ensure that where gambling is advertised, it is done in a way that minimises harmful influences to young people.”

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78% Of Ireland’s Bathing Sites Have Excellent Water Quality.

  • The quality of Ireland’s bathing water continued to improve in 2021, with 97% (144 of 148) of sites meeting or exceeding the minimum standard.
  • Of these, 115 bathing sites (78%) had excellent water quality (which is the most stringent standard). This increased from 111 in 2020.
  • These improvements are a result of enhanced management of bathing waters over many years, combined with investments in treatment of urban waste water.
  • The number of beaches with poor bathing water quality reduced to two, compared with four in 2020.
  • Swimmers are encouraged to ask their local authorities to officially identify additional local bathing sites. This will ensure they are managed to protect bathers’ health.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has today published the Bathing Water in Ireland report for 2021, which shows that 78% of bathing sites have excellent water quality, while 97% meet the minimum standard. This is attributed to improved management of bathing waters over many years, combined with investments in treatment of urban waste water.
However, while bathing water quality has continued to improve overall, there are still issues which need to be addressed, to protect and further improve bathing waters. Agriculture, urban waste water and fouling from dogs on beaches still impact the quality of bathing waters. In addition, heavy rainfall can also quickly impact by washing pollution into our bathing waters. Swimmers should always check www.beaches.ie for the latest water quality information for their local bathing site.
Commenting on the report, Dr Eimear Cotter, Director of the EPA’s Office of Evidence and Assessment, said: “Bathing water quality in Ireland is high and last year saw further improvements compared with 2020. This is good news as we approach the summer when we can enjoy our local beaches and bathing areas, which are an important natural amenity for health and wellbeing.
The EPA recognises that swimming is increasingly becoming a year-round activity and encourages the provision of information that will help winter swimmers to make informed choices to protect their health. The findings and outcome of the multi-stakeholder National Bathing Water Expert Group, due later this year, will provide important information in this regard and help identify potential options to better protect bathers who swim year-round.”

The EPA report specifically highlights improvements at Lilliput, Lough Ennell in Westmeath, after three years of poor quality. During 2020 and 2021, the bathing water quality improved significantly due to actions taken by farmers in the surrounding area. This was driven by evidence and science generated by Westmeath County Council, the Local Authority Waters Programme and the Agricultural Sustainability, Support and Advisory Programme working together. As a result, the restriction on swimming has been removed.
The EPA encourages swimmers to engage with Local Authorities to officially identify additional local bathing sites which will ensure they are managed to protect bathers’ health.
Further information on bathing water and updates on monitoring results during the bathing water season (1st June to 15th September) are available at www.beaches.ie.

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TUS LSAD To Host International “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights” Exhibition.

TUS LSAD to host Internationally Acclaimed “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights” exhibition, as part of International Women’s Day.

This exhibition, by international artists, is open to the public free of charge, and also features an interpretation of the work by TUS LSAD students.

Students from TUS Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD) are adding their voice to an International Posters Exhibition on Gender-based Inequality, Violence and Discrimination, which will open in the TUS LSAD Gallery this International Women’s Day, tomorrow Tuesday March 8th, 2022.

Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD) Women’s Rights Expo.

The weeklong exhibition entitled “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights” will run until Friday March 11th, as one of a number of events across the Technological University of the Shannon’s (TUS) six campuses, (Thurles, Limerick, Athlone, Clonmel and Ennis), to mark International Women’s Day.

Women’s Rights Are Humans Rights: International Posters on Gender-based Inequality, Violence and Discrimination is an exhibition of posters created by both men and women to celebrate and acknowledge the vital role that all citizens play in protecting and promoting human rights, while challenging gender inequality and stereotypes, advancing reproductive and sexual rights, protecting women and girls against brutality, and promoting women’s empowerment, education and participation in society.

TUS LSAD students have responded to the exhibition and created similarly-themed women’s rights and advocacy posters using RISO print and AR (augmented-reality) elements. This work will exhibit alongside the acclaimed international exhibition, originally organized and curated by Elizabeth Resnick, Professor Emerita, Graphic Design, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston.

TUS Vice President People Culture & EDI Marian Duggan said the poster exhibition argues for the empowerment of women, the achievement of equality between the genders and the elimination of discrimination against women and girls.

“We at TUS are particularly proud of the work of our LSAD students, of all genders, who have responded so well to the theme of Women’s Rights are Human Rights. Their work brings a local as well as global dimension to the exhibition, while also giving insight into the awareness of the challenges of gender inequality among the next generation of leaders, artists and teachers.”

Tamlyn Young, lecturer in Graphic Design Communications and Animation TUS LSAD, added, “We would encourage the public to visit the free exhibition to not only view the powerful posters created by artists from all over the world, but to come and engage with our students’ work by downloading the Artivive app to their phones which will allow them to view the student’s posters through a three-dimensional augmented reality.”

The launch of the “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights” exhibition will take place in the TUS LSAD Gallery, Clare Street Limerick at 6:00pm on March 8th, 2022 and will run until Friday March 11th, 2022.

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Ministers Announce Waiver Of Fees Associated With Special Exemption Orders Until End Of April 2022.

The Minister for Justice, Mrs Helen McEntee TD, and the Minister for Finance, Mr Paschal Donohoe TD, are both pleased to announce that the court fees and their associated excise duty, relating to Special Exemptions Orders, or so called SEOs, will be waived until the end of April, 2022.

This follows a previous waiver that was in place from October 19th, 2021 to December 31st, 2021.

Prior to the lockdowns, Nightclubs and Late Bars needed to obtain a Special Exemption Order from the District Court for every occasion they want to trade past normal trading hours. SEO permit extended opening hours until 2.30am subject to the Gardaí and Courts agreement.

The Court fee for each Special Exemption Order was €300 and an excise duty of €110 per application was payable to the Revenue Commissioners.

Making the announcement after Cabinet today, Minister McEntee said, “I know that the lifting of restrictions will be warmly welcomed, perhaps no more so than by those working in nightclubs and late bars.
All licence holders, but particularly those serving in the late night trade, have found themselves in such a difficult situation as a result of COVID-19. The Government is committed to supporting these businesses and the night time economy, to get back on their feet in 2022.
We initially introduced the waiver in relation to SEOs for late night trade licence holders, who traditionally trade past normal opening hours in October of last year, and I am delighted to be able to extend this exemption until the end of April, 2022. It will be still necessary for the SEO court application to be made and the order to be obtained by the licensed premises.
I look forward to further changes in this area as part of my reforms to the licensing laws in the forthcoming Sale of Alcohol Bill.”

Minister Donohoe said, “The waiver of court fees and excise duty for special exemption orders recognises the particular difficulties experienced by the sector, where many businesses have been closed for a significant period of time or had to operate at a reduced capacity on reopening last October.”

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