Deputy Kevin Humphreys and Minister Alex White postering for the Seanad referendum
The Referendum to abolish the Seanad takes place on Friday 4th October. The referendum proposes to the Irish people to abolish Seanad Éireann. Abolition would come into effect upon the resumption of Dáil Éireann after the next general election. The current Seanad would continue until then.
A Yes Vote would see the articles of the Constitution that refer exclusively to the Seanad removed. Labour, with Minister Alex White as Director of Elections, is advocating a Yes Vote simply because there is no credible argument for keeping the Seanad. Its role is unclear, its election process elitist and it has failed throughout its lifetime to act as a watchdog.
Posters are going up all over the country for the forthcoming referenda and in this post our Director of Elections, Minister Alex White, talks about the campaign around the country. We'll be posting regular updates from the campaign so do keep an eye out over the campaign. If you've any questions on any aspect of the two referenda do let us know in the comments and we'll answer them over the next while.
The replacement of outdated prefabs with modern and permanent accommodation is one issue which Labour Minister Ruairi Quinn has been tackling tirelessly since he launched his Prefab Replacement Scheme last year. The gradual phasing-out of the prefab model in Irish schools was a key pledge at the outset of this Government taking office. This is happening.
Overall, €57 million has been spent on the Scheme since 2012, and this week the Minister confirmed the second batch of schools which are to benefit from the scheme. There are 46 in total, replacing 37 resource rooms and 119 classrooms that are currently being housed in prefabs.
Last Friday, Minister Ruairi Quinn announced new anti-bullying procedures for all primary and post-primary schools in Ireland.
These procedures are the first time since 1993 that the guidance for schools has been updated, and specifically deal with cyberbullying for the first time. Identity-based forms of bullying, such as homophobic bullying or racist bullying are also granted much greater priority than has previously been the case.
The procedures aren’t about blaming the bullies or the victims, or about saying that all the problems of the world need to be tackled in our schools. Instead, they give clarity to parents about what they can expect from schools, clarity to teachers as to their responsibilities and how they can tackle various situations, and clarity to students to make sure they know what is acceptable, and what is not.
More than anything else, the procedures encourage all schools to build positive climates of respect - ensuring that all students learn how to respect themselves, and to respect others, regardless of difference.
These procedures have today been supported with the announcement that 70 anti-bullying training sessions for parents will be rolled out between now and the end of the year – funded by the Department of Education and Skills.
The Anti-Bullying Parent Training Programme is being run jointly by the National Parents Council Primary (NPC-P) and the National Parents Council Post Primary (NPC-PP).
Bullying is not a problem schools can or should be left to tackle alone. Parents, families and the wider community have an important role to play in tackling all forms of bullying and in teaching children how to manage relationships, be resilient and have empathy for others.
These two actions came about as a result of the Action Plan on Bullying which Minister Quinn published earlier this year. Over the last few months, research has also begun into the impact of cyberbullying on young people, and the impact of bullying on children with special needs. Awareness campaigns have also been funded, to help make students aware of the effects of cyberbullying and homophobic bullying.
Today a number of proposals for Dáil reform were announced which aims to change the way politics and Government works in this country by making parliament more efficient, giving the public access to law making and improving the oversight of the law making process.
Much has been achieved in the two and half years since the Government came into office demonstrating the firm commitment to delivering significant reforms during its lifetime, the ongoing delivery of an extensive programme of public service reform to deliver improved services to the public with more transparency and greater efficiency
This afternoon the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, the Labour deputy Leader Joan Burton and Minister Alex White (our Director of Elections) launched the Labour Party Seanad Referendum campaign.
Speaking at the event the Tánaiste and Leader of the Labour Party, Eamon Gilmore TD said: “Before the last election, the Labour Party published comprehensive proposals for reform of our political system. As part of that, we took a long hard look at the role and function of Seanad Eireann. We did so as members of the Seanad, former members and colleagues of members past and present.
More than 700 children with special needs will now be catered for in 118 mainstream primary and post-primary secondary school.
The announcement accompanies Minister Ruairi Quinn’s publication of proposed legislation to deal with the inadequacies in the admission process in schools for children with special needs. The new classes will have a lower pupil-teacher ratio than mainstream classes and will apply for children with specific needs who cannot be educated in a mainstream class.