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

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Chelsea look to secure European qualification

Credit www.chelseafc.com

Credit chelseafc.com

Chelsea can seal their place in the second round of the Champions League tonight with an away victory over the Swiss side FC Basel.

So far this season Jose Mourinho’s side have failed to achieve the level of consistency synonymous with the Portuguese manager’s team, stuttering domestically to struggling West Brom and Newcastle United in the last month.

Chelsea have striker Fernando Torres back after a slight groin injury kept him out of the clash with West Ham at the weekend, but David Luiz remains unavailable after bruising his kneecap in training last week.

Mourinho has stressed that nothing should be read from his decision to drop Ashley Cole to the bench in favour of Cesar Azpilicueta, stating that his intention is purely to rest the left-back.

“Ashley is a top professional… he’s not the kind of personality you need to leave on the bench to send him a message to him to make him realise that he has to give more”.

Swiss outfit Basel can claim confidence from the fact that they beat Chelsea in London earlier on in the competition.

Their counter-attacking style has seen them remain undefeated in the Swiss league since August, with the rapid duo of Mohammad Salah and Valentin Stocker wreaking havoc down the flanks.

Ronan Morrissey

The Central African Republic: state of chaos

Credit www.voanews.com

Credit voanews.com

Although this war has gone largely unreported it is an unfortunately familiar story – quasi-religious warlords, armies of child soldiers, sexual violence as military strategy, burnt out villages and hostile neighbours.

France is looking to increase their military presence in the region – pending UN backing. They already have 400 troops stationed there.

The Central African Republic (CAR), is a former French colony. It has been in a state of turmoil since December of 2012. Seleka rebels seized power last March and have recently been overthrown by the Comité extraordinaire de défense des acquis démocratiques-(CEDAD)

In July, the ‘African Union’ authorised a peacekeeping mission, 3,600 strong, in an effort to stablise the country.

French foreign minister Laurent Fabius described the situation in CAR as bordering on an, “imminent threat of a humanitarian disaster.”

Roughly 460,000 people have been displaced during the conflict so far and there are fears the chaos may spread to neighbouring countries.

“Now the country is facing its worst crisis. In this failed state, entire swaths of land are given over to violence by armed gangs. Looting, the recruitment of child soldiers, burned villages, rapes, summary executions” [are commonplace] he said.

The French government are concerned the violence will spread into the surrounding countries, with South Sudan, Congo, Chad and Cameroon likely to be affected.

U.N. deputy general Jan Eliasson has warned the region is descending into “complete chaos before our eyes. The situation requires prompt and decisive action…There is a breakdown of law and order. The population is enduring suffering beyond imagination” he said.

Amnesty International has issued a statement calling on the U.N to take action in the region.

Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland called on the U.N to “work with other members of the international community, in particular, the African Union, the Economic Community of Central African States, and France to ensure that immediate concrete measures are put in place to establish law and order in the country”.

Since independence in 1960 political instability has been rife in the CAR, with eight coups or mutinies having taking place after the state’s foundation.

Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders is an independent medical humanitarian aid organisation and has been working in the CAR since 1996. It runs seven regular projects in five of the seven health districts and supports up to seven hospitals and around 40 health centres. In 2012, a total of 600,000 consultations were provided.

Emergency Coordinator, Rosa Crestani described the situation in the region: “Our teams who were already present in the country wanted to reinforce their capability to respond quickly to requirements…The aim is to get as soon as possible to areas where a new outbreak of violence has occurred, to assess and meet the needs.”

Joseph Conroy / Simon Maguire

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

FIFPro “cautiously optimistic” of resolving Belhounis dispute

Credit Independent.co.uk

Credit independent.co.uk

 The International Federation of Professional Footballers (FIFPro) are “cautiously optimistic” an agreement will be reached with Qatari authorities that will see French footballer Zahir Belounis leave the country.

Belounis has been trapped in the Gulf state because its labour laws prevent workers from leaving the country without an agreement from their employers.

FIFPro today announced that a delegation led by board member Mads Øland will travel to Qatar for urgent talks with the country’s football authorities and organisers of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The representative organisation hopes to lay the foundations for the abolition of the kafala sponsorship system which Belounis claims restricts footballers’ rights in Qatar.

FIFPro’s Communications Director Andrew Orsotti told News Anois that dialogue between local authorities in Qatar and the organisation have been “progressing at a high level”.

Orsotti continued: “we’re hopeful the player will soon be able to leave the country”.

He continued to stress that FIFPro remain “extremely cautious” surrounding the Belhounis case as they’ve heard of “multiple broken promises” offered to the player from back as far as the beginning of October.

Belhounis wrote an open letter to former 2022 World Cup ambassadors Zinedine Zidane and Pep Guardiola earlier this month asking for them to intervene on his behalf.

The Frenchman has been in dispute with his former club al-Jaish over two years of unpaid wages, stating that he has been forced to sell his personal belongings in order to provide for his family.

Ronan Morrissey