The Central African Republic: familiar faces

independent.co.uk

independent.co.uk

Joseph Kony

The Central African Republic’s government are reporting that ‘Kony’ is hiding out in the bush regions in the south of the country with 7,000 followers.

The warlord came to prominence after a video documenting his abuses went viral in 2012. It currently has over 98,500,000 views.

It is thought that Kony is in poor health and that he is being hunted for the 5 million dollar bounty that is hanging over his head.

U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-Moon voiced his concern at the threat posed by Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army saying, “I reiterate my call on the international community to support ongoing efforts to address the threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army in order to ensure that the progress achieved over the past several years is sustained.”

“Despite the decrease in Lord’s Resistance Army-related incidents and a reduction in the number of displaced people in the affected areas, the force remains a serious threat, with its senior leadership intact and with an enormous capacity for brutality,” Mr. Ban said in his report presented to the security council last week.

Mary Robinson

Yesterday, senior United Nations special envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson began a week long mission to bolster peace efforts in the region.

The former Irish President is in Rwanda today and will then move on to the Republic of Congo. On 27-29 November, she will visit the Democratic Republic of Congo, including Kinshasa, the capital, and Goma, the main city in the vast country’s east.

“We must work to restore trust and take the steps that are needed to resolve the underlying causes of conflict and instability to the region,” she said.

On 30 November, she will attend the East African Community (EAC) Summit of Heads of States in Kampala, where she intends to mobilise international support for regional organizations as part of the broader Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework agenda for enhanced regional integration.

Joseph Conroy / Simon Maguire

The Central African Republic: silencing the press

Credit GlobalPost

Credit GlobalPost

Conditions for journalists have deteriorated quickly in the Central African Republic. The country was ranked 65th in Reporters Without Borders’s 2013 Press Freedom Index, ahead of countries like Greece and Bosnia Herzegovinia.

In October, Reporters Without Boarders reported there have been “arbitrary arrests and serious threats targeting journalists in the country since the Seleka rebels came to power.”

The NGO reported that “there has been a major escalation in harassment, threats and intimidation against journalists with privately-owned media, which is being carried out or encouraged by the authorities”.

Amnesty International released a detailed report concerning human rights abuses in the country on October 30th of this year. The October report was damning and painted a portrait of a failed state in need international intervention: “The security forces are out of control and urgent action is needed by the national authorities and the international community to establish law and order”.

Amnesty international told News Anois they currently have no representatives on the ground but are hopeful they will have people back in the country documenting what is happening by Christmas.

Joseph Conroy / Simon Maguire

News Anois bites

Hannah Popham 

CSO figures see rise in employment

Credit thejournal.ie

Credit thejournal.ie

CSO figures released today show a rise in employment in Ireland. There was an annual rise of 3.2% in the year until the third quarter of 2013, bringing total employment to 1,899,300.

On a quarterly adjusted basis, numbers in employment rose by 22,500 in this quarter. This also follows on from a seasonally adjusted increase in employment of 13,500 in the second quarter of 2013.

The unemployment rate over the quarter decreased from 13.6% to 12.8%. An unemployment decrease of 41,700 in the year brings the total number of people out of work down to 282,900.

The total number of persons in the labour force in the third quarter of 2013 was 2,182,100. This showed an increase of 16,300 over the year. The number of people not in the labour force in the third quarter of 2013 was 1,410,700, a decrease of 19,000 over the year.

Stephen Kinsella, Lecturer of Economics in the University of Limerick, tweeted the following: “Unambiguously good news for Irish labour market: emp. up 58k in year to 2013:Q3, unemployment down 41.7k”.

According to the Irish Times, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said: “There are still far too many people out of work, and tackling unemployment will remain the Government’s number one priority, but these figures demonstrate that we are making steady progress”.

John Lillis

Quinn defends abolition of Junior Cert

Credit Wikipedia.com

Credit wikipedia.com

Education minister Ruairí Quinn has once more defended the decision to abolish the current Junior Cert state exam in favour of a new model.

The new model will be focused on internal assessment, and requires teachers to mark papers instead of the exam being externally reviewed.

During a question time in the Daíl, Ruairí Quinn defended the Junior Cycle reform that starts next September by saying that students “Don’t need a state exam, they need progress and moderation” .

Minister Quinn was responding to the results that came in a recent ASTI survey which revealed that 50 schools do not feel equipped enough to roll out reform.

Minister Quinn said “I’m aware of the difficulties faced by teachers, especially in the backdrop of the current public finances… we have started a journey, I take the political responsibility, and where we will travel is open for discussion”. He continued “to have a state exam at 15 has a detrimental effect on a number of people. If changes need to be made, we will make those changes”.

The decision to change the Junior Cycle has come under criticism, especially from the ASTI president Sally Maguire, who said that “every student is entitled to a fair, impartial and transparent state certificate to record their achievement.  A school certificate based on grades awarded by student’s own teachers’ does not have the same status or validity as an independent State Certificate.”

This year’s Junior Cert will be one of the last under the current model which has been in place since 1991.

Gavin Lacey

Enda Kenny opposes possible ESB strike

Credit WikiCommons

Credit WikiCommons

Taoiseach Enda Kenny came out today in opposition to the possible ESB strike that could lead to power cuts over the month of December. He said talk of a possible ESB strike action would “cause unease and concern for people” if the strike would result in power cuts across the country.

The dispute arises over an agreement to address the €1.6 billion deficit in ESB’s pension scheme with Mr. Kenny hoping that unions will meet on Thursday and that they will “engage fully and comprehensively” in the talks with the ESB.

The Taoiseach said that the dispute was not about wage cuts while continuously insisting the ESB pension fund is in good shape.

Fianna Faíl also came out in opposition against the possible strike. A spokesman said that “there is a genuine fear and anxiety” amongst business’ and the most vulnerable people of society.

Speaking to News Anois, Brendan Hennessey of Saint Vincent De Paul warned of the effect that this strike could have on the most vulnerable in society, especially the “elderly people in isolation who rely on electricity for heating and can’t get or carry alternative heating such as coal”. Hennessey also that those who rely solely on electricity might need to turn to “unhealthy alternatives such as fast food” in order to feed their families.

Gavin Lacey

Scotland to decide on independence

Credit thetypewriter.org

Credit thetypewriter.org

The 18th September 2014 is the day Scotland decides if it wants to remain part of Britain or go it alone.

The Scottish National party (SNP) launched its 670-page independence manifesto today in Glasgow.

Alex Sammond, the Scottish first minister has been campaigning for a referendum for some time now.

“Independence will put the people of Scotland in charge of our own destiny,” he said.

He cited Scotland’s gas and oil fields as a way of propping up the economy as the country adapts to independence.

Scotland has been part of the union with England for over 300 years and the UK government is hoping to retain the current status quo.

“It won’t be decided by me, it won’t be decided by our opponents, it won’t be decided by the media. It will be decided by the people,” he said.

The Scottish Labour party argue the SNP have been misleading the public. ”The SNP have been letting Scotland down. It now appears they will say whatever you want to hear, do whatever it takes, promise you independence will be whatever you want it to be, to get your vote on polling day,” according to Labour.

There are 295 days left to polling day.

Simon Maguire