Should Ireland join Britain in re-evaluating cycling safety?

Credit Paolo Lisarelli

Credit Pier Paolo Lisarelli

650 police officers have been deployed around London in a bid to enforce awareness and cycling safety. Officers have been stationed at various busy areas during rush hour.

The number of officers is set to be raised to 2,500 over the coming weeks and will stay in place until after Christmas. The officers will issue penalty notices to people breaking traffic rules. Helmets and hi-visibility vests are not a legal requirement but officers will be pushing cyclists to use these safety precautions.

The clamp down on cycling safety comes as a result of six deaths over 14 days in London. Each incident involved a lorry, bus or coach.

The incidents in London have caused widespread recognition of the importance of cycling safety and the controversy of mandatory bicycle helmets. A spokesperson for Cycling Ireland said “there is no doubt that wearing a helmet saves lives. However, it is important that the onus of safe cycling is not solely on the cyclist”.

Boris Johnson caused controversy across the cycling world by stating he wants to ban the use of headphones while cycling. This ban would encourage cyclists to become more aware of their surroundings and potentially lessen the amount of cyclists killed on public roads.

Ireland does not currently have laws regarding helmets, hi- visibility wear or headphones while cycling. Dan Martin, an Irish profession cyclist for Team Garmin- Sharpe, said “The blame/claim culture means if you don’t wear one [a helmet], the first thing they will say when you crash is ‘were you wearing a helmet’ but until I was pro I never wore one.” Martin continued by saying the helmet can often create the illusion of invincibility in the cyclist and the real concern should be driver’s awareness.

He stated “it makes people think they are safe if they have their helmet on. When in reality it does very little. It will somewhat protect against fracture and abrasions but concussion they are useless.” Martin is required to use a helmet when racing and acknowledges the issue of headphones while out on busy roads: “I wore headphones once training and it scared the hell out of me. You don’t realise how much you use hearing on a bike”. Cycling Ireland agreed with the movement towards a safer cycling environment for Irish cyclists. A spokesperson for Cycling Ireland concluded by stating that “Increased awareness should lead to fewer incidents, accidents are not caused by not wearing a helmet; they are caused by bad drivers or bad cycling”.

Katelyn Cook

Is attending a private school a genuine advantage getting into third level?

LEAGUE TABLES

Credit schooldays.ie

As a response to the annual publication of the Irish Times’ league tables, which found an advantage to attending a fee-paying school, we asked several DIT students their thought on the matter:

Georgia Dunne (Business and French):

“It depends on the individual, whether the school suits them or not. I don’t believe it does make a difference. You get what you give whether you’re in a private school or not.”

Colin O’Donovan (Masters in Marketing):

“I do feel students from private schools have a definite advantage. There’s a private school in my area. People go up an extra one hundred points going there-it’s almost just a series of intense daily grinds. There is nothing wrong with public schools but private schools definitely give an advantage. Public school students can be distracting to each other, private school students tend to be more focused.”

Dónal Murray (Architecture):

“I think in private schools there is less trouble, less anti-social behaviour than what my friends in public schools experienced so that is advantageous. There’s an advantage not in terms of their education but in terms of facilities. You hear horror stories about public schools; there was a stabbing in my friend’s year in a local public school.”

Sean Hannon (Hospitality Management):

“Absolutely-private schools are massive networking opportunities. People who go into certain sectors will keep in touch with, and help each other out. The rugby club in my old school hold an event every year, for instance. Being part of an alumni is seen a business opportunity.”

Michael McManus (Business and Management):

“Yeah I definitely got a good education by going to a private school; I think it really benefited me over all. If push comes to shove I wouldn’t hesitate to go back and use the connections I made there.”

Katie Byrne (Law):

“No I don’t think it made a difference paying for education. If you’re willing to put in the work you will succeed either way.”

Hannah Popham

It’s not all doom and gloom!

The budget has brought a lot of bad news for the citizens of Ireland, particularly students and the elderly. However, it is important to focus on the few good things this budget will bring, or I should say, leave untouched.

For motorists, there will be no increase in the costs of petrol, diesel, carbon tax, VRT and motor tax. The current costs are substantial, a result of last year’s budget, and to raise them would create an enormous struggle for car owners. PositiveHome heating oil or gas also won’t be affected, a small victory for homeowners.

Children under the age of five will receive free GP care, a relief to parents around the country who find it unreasonable to pay €65 for a check-up. Potential cuts to care grants and child benefits have been greatly anticipated, but fortunately they have been spared. Income tax and social welfare rates have also been kept safe.

In spite of the €250 rise in tuition fees for students, the threshold for the maintenance grant has not been increased. Whether this fee increase can be covered with the grant remains to be seen.

Lauren O’Halleron

“2014 Budget could be a bridge too far”-President of DITSU

“2014 Budget could be a bridge too far”-President of DITSU - Hannah PophamPresident of the DIT Student’s Union Glenn Fitzpatrick today spoke out about the hardship which budgets have had-and will continue to have on students. The incremental hikes each year in the student contribution fee and the cuts, in both maintenance and postgraduate grants, have made acquiring third level education increasingly more costly. Fitzpatrick warned that the forthcoming budget could have considerable consequences on those already struggling within third level education: “I genuinely thought that we had reached breaking point a few years ago but students and their families plough on, determined to protect their right to an education and a viable future. Any further cuts could genuinely make Third Level education a bridge too far for many.”

GRANT CUTS The SU President detailed how even under the current budget, the average weekly grant payment is €84, which is “significantly lower than Jobseeker’s payments-what the Government deems the lowest amount of money that they expect people to be able to get by on.” He warned that the current grant is inadequate for student needs: “It’s not going nearly far enough for many students and in more extreme cases (which are on the rise), it’s crippling.” He also cautioned that the pressure students are under to financially support themselves while undertaking a degree can often have a negative effect on their academic performance: “We see students working longer hours in treacherous working conditions in order to pay for their education, yet the impact of those treacherous conditions actually negatively impacts on their studies, cancelling out the reason they sought employment in the first place.”

STUDENT CONTRIBUTION FEES Despite the fact that: “Students are feeling the pinch from every angle at the moment, be that fees, rent prices, grant cuts, lack of decent part time work and the fact that the supporting families are struggling…”, he said that hikes in the student contribution fee are unavoidable. “Unfortunately, the staggered increase in fees has been signed off with the Troika and has essentially been non-negotiable.”

STUDENT APATHY In light of the low turnout at the recent USI budget protest two weeks ago, Fitzpatrick has claimed that these hardships have had a negative impact on student motivation: “There is definitely a wave of apathy out there that is hard to tackle. Many students do not see the political system as a mechanism for change.”

UNEMPLOYMENT AND EMIGRATION Additionally, Fitzpatrick expressed concern that the 2014 Budget could potentially exacerbate Ireland’s problem of graduate emigration: “The choices for young people will be unpaid internships, precarious work or emigration. Young graduates with amazing potential are often over-qualified for what I would consider to be derisory options so our best and brightest may simply leave our shores.”

Hannah Popham