Friday, February 10, 2017

Upcoming Legislation - Week 6 2017

We have two pieces of upcoming legislation that I am very excited about. They are the Domestic Violence Bill and the Mediation Bill.

Domestic Violence Bill

  • This Bill represents a very important piece of legislation for our country. It is intolerable in this day and age that people are allowed to suffer mental and physical abuse. We need to take a firm stand against domestic violence, which is why this Bill is very welcome. 

  • This Bill will make it easier for those affected by domestic violence to find the protection they need. Let us not forget that women and children are disproportionately affected by violence in the home. 

  • Measures included in legislation include the provision of a new emergency barring order which can last for up to eight working days. There will also be changes to the current law allowing victims to avoid appearing in court in person and can giving evidence via video link instead. 

  • A further aspect of the Bill will make underage marriage a thing of the past.Fine Gael in Government is committed to the implementation of the Istanbul Convention on tackling Domestic Violence and the commitments contained in the recently published Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence.

Mediation Bill

  • The aim of the Bill is to promote mediation as an alternative to court proceedings, thereby reducing legal costs, speeding up the resolution of disputes and relieving the stress of court proceedings.

  • The Bill obliges legal advisors (lawyers and barristers) to inform their clients as to the availability of mediation.

  • Mediation can take place on agreement by both parties involved in a dispute.

  • Mediation is a much quicker pathway to resolving disputes thus significantly reducing the cost of legal fees (court proceedings are often lengthy)

  • Mediation is available to all and any parties willing to engage in the process.

  • Agreements on the outcome of mediation, once agreed upon by all parties and the mediator, will be put in writing and are legally binding.

  • The Mediation Bill makes provision for the future establishment of a self-financed Mediation Council which will be responsible for the regulation of mediation and mediators.

If you have any questions about these bills, you can contact me at Regina.Doherty@Oireachtas.ie

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Action Plan for Education 2017

Action Plan for Education 2017

The quality of an Irish education has been one of the secrets to our success in the global economy. That reality has not changed, and education is still central to our ambitions as a nation. The Action Plan for Education is based on a simple goal - to make Ireland's education and training system the best in Europe within a decade. To achieve that, we will focus on a number of key areas.

Wellbeing


  • Every school will be required to have dedicated guidance counselling time available for students
  • A Junior Cycle Wellbeing programme will be implemented
  • 10 additional NEPS psychologists will be appointed
  • A wellbeing steering committee will be established to develop a policy statement and identify gaps in existing services, which we will then rectify


Technology in Education


  • The implementation of computer science as a leaving cert subject is being brought forward 12 months to September 2018
  • A new primary level maths curriculum will see students taught computational thinking and coding
  • A new advisory group led by industry and educational experts will be established to develop new plans for greater use of technology in education 


Disadvantage


  • We will shortly be publishing our plan for future supports to tackle educational disadvantage
  • We will be building on existing DEIS supports, with new schools being phased into DEIS from next September
  • A School Excellence Fund will be developed and a pilot commenced, and commence pilot, initially in DEIS schools


Skills: 


  • 13 new apprenticeships and 2 new traineeships will be developed in 2017
  • Work experience at post primary level will be reviewed
  • Innovative responses will be developed to address skills shortages in ICT languages and biopharma
  • Quarterly meetings will be held between education and enterprise 


Research


  • New initiatives to attract world-leading researchers to Ireland, particularly in the context of Brexit


Costs


  • We will be publishing a strong circular with an emphasis on reducing costs to parents, including school uniform costs


After School Care Provision


  • Guidelines will be published for the use of school buildings out of hours, following engagement with property owners and school authorities (e.g. to provide afterschool care provision for school age children to offer more options and flexibility to parents)


Languages


  • A new foreign languages strategy will be published to outline new languages options, with ambitious targets
  • Consideration will be given to greater use of “CLIL”, or teaching of mainstream subjects through second and third languages, as means of teaching Irish and other languages in a more effective way at primary and secondary


Gaeltacht


  • The Gaeltacht Education Strategy will be implemented, and arrangements for a Gaeltacht school recognition process will be published


Infrastructure


  • 46 large-scale building projects will be completed
  • 6,000 additional permanent post primary places will be provided in 2017


Special Educational Needs


  • The new model for allocation of teachers in mainstream schools to support children with SEN will be introduced
  • A new Inclusion Support Service will be established
  • A comprehensive assessment of the Special Needs Assistants (SNA) scheme will be completed


Third level


  • A new higher education funding model (RGAM) will be in place for the 2018 budget
  • A policy review will be published to design and implement a multi-annual funding model involving increased Exchequer and employer contributions from 2018
  • Drafting of Higher Education Reform Bill will be finalised