1916 Battlefields Saved

Fianna Eireann

Image copyright Julie Corcoran Photography, 2016.

Today, in the Irish High Court, Mr Justice Max Barrett passed judgement in favour of the case made by the 1916 Relatives Association with support from a new generation of Irish volunteers.  This judgement, against the position of the government, will protect important 1916 battle sites beside the GPO around Moore Street from demolition.

Sadly a proportion of 1916 battlefield sites were deemed unimportant by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphries and her government. Now the High Court has ordered that she must reconsider her position.

You can read the full story here from the Irish Times including a synopsis of the 400 page judgement by Mr Justice Max Barrett.

Respecting the architects of 1916 – updated


Archive image of P. H. Pearse in 1916. Inspiration for the street art on Moore Street.

In the centenary year of the 1916 Rising, a piece of street art has appeared on plywood hoarding surrounding a terrace of red brick buildings used by rebels during the rising on Moore Street, just around the corner from Dublin’s O’Connell Street.

Some of the houses are in immediate danger of demolition and a Save Moore Street campaign was born out of the government’s lack of vision in preserving such a historically significant landmark in its entirety.

The piece is a re-imagining a famous photograph from the era. It depicts Patrick Pearse surrendering to two figures (originally British soldiers) dressed in high viz jackets and hard hats (now representing developers). It is a clever concept with a strong message and up to this point I like it.

But, and here’s the thing, look to the right of the image and it is signed Banksy. It is not a Banksy (I contacted his PR agent Jo Brooks who confirmed this to me categorically), therefore, with the Banksy tag the image becomes a forgery. It immediately disappoints. I love and have a reverence for the arts on par with the love I have for my culture.

Without the Banksy tag, the piece would simply be regarded as ‘in the style of’ Banksy. Therefore respecting Banksy and his amazing body of work and also respecting the actual artist of the piece.

But would the media have picked up on it? Probably not.

The Save Moore Street campaign is getting attention in the media today (with the ‘is it or is it not a Banksy’ narrative).

But I believe, long term, it is to the detriment of the artists involved; who I believe, deserve a little bit more respect.

Save Moore Street Campaign  1

Artists                                            0


Irish Times article with Jo Brooks confirmation that the piece is NOT by Banksy. 

Minister’s database rethink #POD 

Serious concerns, raised with the Minister for Education, regarding the proposed data retention period for the Primary Online Database (POD) may be allayed by a piece in today’s Irish Examiner

Parents, data experts and the Data Protection Commisioner alike have all been petitioning Minister O’Sullivan over many issues and worries regarding POD; including the excessive thirty year retention period for student data. 

It now looks like the Minister will be announcing that student data will be held until their 19th birthday. After that date, their information will become depersonalised and only used for statistical and analytical purposes (I’d like to see more details on this).

This clearly is a textbook example of citizens using democratic channels (official means like contacting the Data Commisioner’s office and unofficial channels like creating all merry hell on Twitter!) to highlight ill-conceived elements of a government policy (the introduction of POD). 

Snooze like you mean it.

snooze (1)


Me – I think I’ll give your room a spring clean today.

Seven year old – Good. Will you be doing it while I’m in school or after school?

Me – While you’re in school.

Seven year old – Good. That means you have six hours.

Me – Please tell me you’re learning about time in school.

Seven year old – Yes.

The problems with maths.


May I first offer you a cup of tea and a biscuit in gratitude for taking the time to read this (offer does not apply to bloggers who just clicked a star under the title photo).

Maths gets a bad press. Although I’m no numerical gymnast, I do enjoy when I can help the kids solve a homework question (By enjoy I mean I shout ‘Boom’, rise from the table and do a victory lap of the room).

I’m not a big fan of dumbing down of text books and turning them into colouring workbooks. I’m sure there is a study out there somewhere to support their academic attributes, but if a text is so good, why must it be revised so often?

The above pictured example shows a fairly straight forward exercise. It’s for first year maths so it is part of the basic maths curriculum.
In the example we are shown a fraction (18/30) multiplied by a whole number (100) followed by the magical appearance of the answer.

I know, it made me angry too, I mean seriously, not converting a whole number into a fraction? What were they thinking?

Are the publishers now skipping basic rules in maths to make them fit into the little colour coordinated boxes.
A fraction must only be multiplied by a fraction, hence 18/30 must be multiplied by 100/1. It’s a rule and by understanding that basic concept it helps further down the line when the maths problems become more complicated.

I wanted to burn the book, such was my outrage, but my daughter wouldn’t let me, said it was a rental or something.
So I dug out my old copy of Text and Tests, reassured by it’s mono chromed bulk we worked through some PROPER examples which resulted in a few more laps around the kitchen, to my daughters’ eternal embarrassment.

Data gathering methods called into question for POD (Primary Online Database)

The Department of Education is currently gathering data for its live Primary Online Database, POD. However, there are concerns that the methods employed to gather information may be in breach of data protection legislation.

Please listen to the excellent clip from RTE’s Morning Ireland on Thursday, 15th January 2015 discussing the issue with Dublin solicitor specialises in data protection, Simon McGarr.

Most of the data for POD is being submitted automatically by Primary schools, without parents’ permission.

Further information such as ethnicity, cultural background and religion are currently being gathered by schools. There is also the issue of what the information gathered will be used for;

In the longer term it is proposed that POD will also share data with the Department of Social Protection, the HSE and the NCSE, and other bodies, eliminating the need for many of the current data requests to schools from these bodies, for example in relation to vaccination programmes, child benefit claims, application for special educational needs.

So as a parent, are you reassured by the above statement from the Department of Education website?

As I type this, it is proposed that the information carried by the database will be held until the child turns thirty, although, as mentioned in the audio, Minister for Education and skills, Jan O’Sullivan has said she will look again, at this figure.

I have written to my daughter’s school including all Simon’s points. I’ve also sent a copy of the letter to the Department of Education, on Simon’s advice (over twitter, he’s really very good) and hope to pass on any replies I receive to the data protection commissioner.

Further reflections on the gathering of information for the Primary Online Database (POD) can be found on David O’Callaghan’s blog post entitled, ‘Thoughts on the Primary Online Database‘.

Irish Bog Body – Oldcroghan Man

Old Croghan Man, currently on display National Museum of Ireland, Kildare Street.

Old Croghan Man, currently on display National Museum of Ireland, Kildare Street.

In 2003, a bog body, wearing an arm-ring was discovered in a peat bog from the townland of
Oldcroghan, County Offaly.

The body was radiocarbon dated between 392 BC to 201 BC (Mulhall

After Oldcroghan Man was removed from the bog, a plan for the conservation treatment of
his arm-ring was devised.

Details of this conservation project can be found by clicking this link here (provided by the National Museum of Ireland).

Where is the love, #buseireann? – Updated

Where is the love?  Bus Éireann school bus transport tickets. (c) parents & students.

Where is the love?
Bus Éireann school bus transport tickets. (c) parents & students.

Well for most students and their parents, this week saw the culmination of a summer’s work of purchasing school books, bags, uniforms, shoes and putting what ever’s left aside towards paying the voluntary donation now requested by most schools.
The last thing any parent needs is the worry or financial pressure of trying to get their child to school.
The new school term of 2014/15, however, has begun under a cloud of uncertainty as the new IT system commissioned by Bus Éireann to process details for the school bus transport scheme was dogged by glitches.
Although the software was apparently tested, according to a spokesperson from Bus Éireann, it failed miserably to process payments and medical card details from day one.
Bus Éireann, as has become their habit, first blamed the parents, their default scapegoat, for being computer illiterate. Before it was pointed out to the company that it was not the parent’s fault but the new software’s interaction with internet browsers;
‘ This new software requires compatible browsers and we ask customers to use Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Internet Explorer Version 9′.
(Bus Éireann, press release 27th August 2014).

Such was the chaos and confusion this week; a temporary helpline was setup to deal with parents’ unanimous query; ‘where is my child’s ticket?’
Speaking to the staff manning the lines earlier this week, I could tell they were tired and dejected due to not being able to achieve much.
In just three days between calls; the youthful, chirpy, ‘can do’ attitude on the other end of the phone was replaced by the embittered tones of a civil servant with 30 years service and no tea break.
I rang Tuesday to find out why I hadn’t even received an e-mail from the system since registering last April, I was informed there was a note put on my file and it would be sorted shortly.
As I had received nothing by Friday (even after engaging Bus Éireann on twitter, and being promised a second time to have an e-mail, still nothing) so rang the helpline again only to be told they would be working all weekend to try and get e-mails and temporary tickets sent out. Nothing received so far.

I have spoken to parents who have paid for concessionary seats and not received a ticket because the bus is full. Parents who have paid for a concessionary seat, got a temporary ticket stating the child is eligible for travel under the family medical card and told to go swing when calling up Bus Éireann for a refund.
Parents have told me they have temporary tickets with incorrect addresses, dates of birth etc. Parents upset after being told the school bus inspector has rung bus drivers to throw children off the bus.
School Bus inspectors unceremoniously dictating to parents where their child should be in school. School bus transport appeals that were inexplicably postponed till the end of September.

How much longer will civil servants in the Department of Education claim there is nothing wrong with this system? The same civil servants who refuse to deny or confirm whether they will go chasing parents for the full economic costs of school transport (€1,000 +) in the future! (as indicated in the McCarthy report)
How many politicians will speak up and fight for their constituents when the Dáil resumes?

Thank you for taking the time to read this update. You are more than welcome to share it. If you’re having difficulties with the school bus transport scheme please make sure they know about it.
Minister Jan O’Sullivan has passed all responsibility for this scheme to her junior minister, Damien English.
The e-mail address is damien_english@education.gov.ie

Go raibh maith agaibh

Update – We have managed to secure a bus ticket for our daughter. It took three months of e-mails, letter writing, petitions and phone calls but we got there eventually.

Please never give up on a cause, especially, if you know you are in the right.