Micheál Martin slates removal of history from core curriculum Fianna Fáil leader vows to restore subject as core component in Junior Cert curriculum

Micheál Martin said there had been a proposal prior to him becoming Minister for Education in 1997 to have history removed as a core subject at Junior Certificate level.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said he will restore history to the core Junior Certificate curriculum if his party are in government after the next election.

He described junior cycle reforms as a “catastrophe” for the subject. From September history will no longer be compulsory; instead just three subjects will be mandatory – Irish, English and Maths.

Schools will have the freedom to provide other subjects and so-called short courses, such as digital media literacy and computer coding.

Speaking at the West Cork History Festival, Mr Martin said there had been a proposal prior to him becoming minister for education in 1997 to have history removed as a core subject to Junior Certificate level.

The Fianna Fáil leader, who was a history teacher before becoming a TD, vetoed the proposal and put a note on the file, “this must never happen again” as he feared for the future of the subject.

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“If you don’t (have it as a compulsory subject), you will have no follow through in the Leaving Certificate and it would eventually lead, in my view, to the elimination of history,” he told the festival.

Micheál Martin told the history festival that there is never a “positive outcome” when politicians exploit anniversaries for “partisan advantage”.
Micheál Martin told the history festival that there is never a “positive outcome” when politicians exploit anniversaries for “partisan advantage”.
Mr Martin’s comments follow on from remarks in May by President Michael D Higgins who expressed “deep and profound concern” that history will no longer be a core subject at Junior Certificate level.

The President said history was the “inheritance of all our people”. And he added that a republic worthy of the name would seek to make it accessible to as many people as possible.

Mr Martin told the history festival that there is never a “positive outcome” when politicians exploit anniversaries for “partisan advantage”.

Mr Martin accused “Provisional Sinn Féin” of seeking to “manipulate and politicise the Irish Revolution” for its own end, especially in its perpetuation of the “corrosive and dangerous myth of the unbroken chain” linking the struggle for Irish independence 100 years ago with the modern-day Provisional IRA.

Mr Martin added that SF had also claimed that Sinn Féin was the party of Constance Markievicz when she chaired the founding meeting of Fianna Fáil. And they managed to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of Sinn Féin without mentioning Éamon De Valera.

Mr Martin criticised controversial Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban’s “illiberal and anti-democratic behaviour”, which he said was based on the “aggressive promotion of a cult of grievance about the post first World War settlement”.

Mr Orban has constantly harkened back to the Treaty of Trianon in 1920 which created the modern country of Hungary, but left many ethnic Hungarians in other countries.

He said Mr Orban had used the grievances around the Treaty of Trianon to distract from his domestic failings.

Mr Martin added: “I do not see how it is possible for a country to tackle the needs of today when it defines programme in terms of the past when it had an aristocratic suffrage, dominated many millions of other nationalities through political and social repression and sought to keep out the modern world.”

With many thanks to: The Irish Times for the original story.

Deirdre Jacob’s disappearance in 1998 now being treated as murder by Gardaí

Missing poster: 10 year appeal for Deirdre Jacob.

Irish police issued this missing person poster in 2008 – 10 years after her disappearance
Irish police investigating the disappearance of teenager Deirdre Jacob in 1998 have launched a murder investigation.

The 18-year-old was last seen walking to her home in Roseberry, Newbridge, County Kildare, on 28 July.
New information and a review of the investigation has resulted in the reclassification of the case.

Last month, her family made an appeal for information on the 20th anniversary of her disappearance.
by An Garda Síochána

Deirdre Jacob was last seen on the 28th July 1998 near her home, at Roseberry, Newbridge, Co Kildare at approximately 3…

Posted by An Garda Síochána on Tuesday, 14 August 2018
End of Facebook post by An Garda Síochána

CCTV footage from the day she disappeared shows the teenager walking on the right side of the screen near shops in Newbridge.
After going to the bank and post office, she started the walk home and was last seen at about 15:00.
She was wearing a dark T-shirt and trousers with white shoes, and was carrying a black canvas bag with a yellow Caterpillar logo, which has never been found.

According to the Irish Broadcaster RTÉ, the police have received new information, which has led them to believe she was murdered either on the day she disappeared or in the days that followed.
Information appeal

On Tuesday, Ch Supt Brian Sutton said Ms Jacob was “a young woman starting off her life, who had just completed one year at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, London”.
“There are people, I believe, who had information at the time, and maybe their moral compass has changed – they might have children of their own now,” he added.
“Think of the Jacob family, think of what they’re going through and come forward, and we will handle it with the strictest confidence.”

In the past 12 months, there has been a full cold case review.
Some 3,200 lines of inquiry have been conducted by police and 2,500 witness statements have been taken over the past 20 years.

With many thanks to: BBC World-Europe for the original story.

Omagh Bombing ‘could have been prevented’ had the security forces done their job correctly ‘

Archive photo showing the aftermath of the Omagh Bombing in 1998.

The Omagh bombing was carried out by dissident republicans several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement

The Omagh bomb could have been prevented if the security forces had acted differently, a former police ombudsman has claimed.

Baroness Nuala O’Loan made the comments on the 20th anniversary of the greatest single loss of life in the Troubles.

The chief constable rejected her claim and said her comments would further “traumatise” victims’ families.
A woman pregnant with twins was among 29 people killed in the dissident republican attack on 15 August 1998.

In Omagh, a bell will be rung 32 times in memory of the victims later on Wednesday.
The additional, single peal will be rung for all who have lost their lives in atrocities around the world.
‘Could have been stopped’

Baroness O’Loan who investigated the police’s actions in the lead up to the bombing, said: “When I reported on Omagh I said we didn’t know whether the bomb could have been prevented.
“It is now my very firm view that the bomb could have been prevented.”
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The men behind the attack
Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt was responsible for the Omagh bomb, a High Court judge found in a civil case in 2009.

Liam Campbell, Colm Murphy and Seamus Daly were also found liable for the attack.
Seamus McKenna was cleared. He died in 2013.

The four men were named by Mr Justice Morgan in a ruling made as part of a landmark case taken by some of the families of the victims.
The 12 relatives were awarded more than £1.6m in damages for the attack but to date none has been paid.

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“There was sufficient intelligence to take action. The taking of that action could have prevented the bomb from exploding.
“This wasn’t just a random bomb. The police knew an awful lot about the activities of the IRA in this area.”
Baroness O’Loan repeated her calls for a public inquiry to be held.

When she was police ombudsman, her office carried out an investigation into the police’s handlings of warnings before the bombing.
She said the intelligence services were tracking the movements of the car containing the bomb from the Republic of Ireland.

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A painful day
By BBC News NI’s Julian Fowler , in Omagh
Omagh’s Market Street is busy with shoppers as it was on this date 20 years ago.
Relatives who have organised today’s event say it is about remembrance, hope and moving forward, recognising the forgotten people of the Omagh bomb, such as the emergency services and the ordinary people who helped in the aftermath.

Flowers at the Omagh memorial
A small bouquet lies at the foot of the memorial in Market Street.

For some the anniversary is too painful to join the public commemoration.
They will remember their loved ones in their own way.

This morning one person came alone to lay a bunch of flowers at the memorial.
Others will spend the afternoon at the graveside of their loved ones.

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‘Why now?’
Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Chief Constable George Hamilton rejected the idea that police could have prevented the bomb.
“If it is factually true and can be proven to any standard of proof whatsoever, why did she not say it in 2001 when she published her report?,” he told The Nolan Show on BBC Radio Ulster.

“Then, when she held the office, when she had access to all the material, she came to the conclusion that she could not know based on all that information if the bomb could have been prevented.
“She now has changed her position on that, without real explanation.”

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Omagh bomb timeline
15 August 1998 – A large car bomb explodes on a Saturday afternoon in the centre of Omagh, County Tyrone, fatally wounding 29 people
18 August 1998 – The Real IRA claims responsibility for the bomb

6 August 2003 – Alleged founder and leader of the Real IRA Michael McKevitt is found guilty of directing terrorism
Read more

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Kevin Skelton, whose wife Philomena died in the Real IRA atrocity said that Baroness O’Loan’s comments do not “make any difference”.
“Telling us now that the bomb could have been prevented is a bit late,” he told BBC Radio Foyle.
“It should have been prevented at the time.
“It won’t bring my wife back.”

Floral tributes were placed in the town’s memorial garden.

A town remembers
The Omagh bombing was carried out by the dissident republican Real IRA, several months after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
The bomb, which was packed with 225kg of explosives, detonated in a vehicle parked in the middle of the main street just after 15:10 BST on 15 August 1998.

A warning had been called in 40 minutes earlier but had given the wrong location of the car containing the bomb.
The dead included three generations of one family.

No-one has been convicted over the bombing.
The bell-ringing event is part of a public vigil to be held at the bottom of Market Street, beginning at 14:55.
The bell will stop ringing 15 minutes later, at the time of the explosion, and will be followed by a two-minute silence.


Omagh bomb: Community Youth Choir 20 years on

Flower petals will be distributed, which people can scatter in the river, or place in the pond of a memorial garden created to remember the victims.
These event is being co-ordinated by a group of organisations, including Omagh Support & Self Help Group, Families Moving On and the Omagh Churches’ Forum.

On Sunday, a cross-community service was held at the town’s memorial gardens.
Victims and their families were remembered with prayers, music and speeches.

Omagh tribute: A child leaving a tribute during Sunday’s memorial service.

Each year over the past 20 years, people have come together to mark the anniversary, but this year’s event in the memorial garden will be the last to take place on this scale.

Last year, relatives of the victims announced they would sue George Hamilton for failings they believed allowed the killers to escape justice.
Mr Hamilton said on Sunday he understood why the families would feel “angry and let down”, adding that even the huge amount of investigative effort – with 99 arrests and 11,000 investigative actions by the PSNI and An Garda Síochána (Irish police) – “is not good enough”.

“People have not been brought to justice… but the families have an assurance from me that if new evidence emerges, we will actively pursue that. But it is also fair to say, and realistic, that as time goes by, the chances of a criminal justice outcome reduces,” he said.

With many thanks to: BBCNI for the original story.

Two former member’s of the RUC/PSNI in charge of policing in the North and South and only unanswerable to Britain !!!

Stephen Travers is a survivor of the Miami Showband Massacre and certainly no Republican but his point should not only make us all sit up and think but ask the question as to how Policing North and South of the country is now in the hands of two former members of the RUC…

With thanks to Dixie Elliott for the original posting.

Everyone’s a winner in a United Ireland

The economist David McWilliams in December 2017 showed that in the last 60 years incomes in the south have grown by a factor of 20 while here in the north they have grown by 5.

UNIONISTS regularly complain that no one advocating Irish unity ever presents a case for the economic advantages of unity.

Other UNIONISTS say the Irish Republic couldn’t afford the north, couldn’t pay to maintain the standard of living here and even, couldn’t pay the welfare Benifits people here are used to. Most of these objections are based on complete ignorance, some on received prejudices about the south which were out of date a generation ago. All of them are nonsense.

The fact is that there are several presentations demonstrating the economic advantages of Irish unity in one form or another but when they are published they are either ignored or pooh-poohed as, ‘following the Sinn Féin agenda’ or ‘playing into the hands of Sinn Féin’. You’ve heard that refrain ad nauseam. No Unionist have ever seriously examined any of the arguments, probably because, as Peter Robinson reminded them last week, they prefer to stick their heads so far into the sand that only their feet remain visible.

The latest, and so far most valuable economic report, was compiled by Paul Gosling and Pat McArt. Typically, it received little coverage. Derry-based Gosling, a well-regarded economist and no wild-eyed republican, laid out his case at the West Belfast Féile last week to precious little notice.

It comes in two parts. First, a century of partition has impoverished the north and secondly, it will take years of investment and economic restructuring by an all-Ireland government with EU subsidies to raise the standard of living here and rescue the north from the certain basket case that Brexit will guarantee for it thanks to the DUP propping up this demented British government.

First the deleterious effects of partition. It has reversed the North’s position as the most prosperous part of the island. In 1920 the greater Belfast area, with Belfast the biggest city on the island, produced 80 per cent of Irish industrial output. Now the Republic’s economy is four times the size of the North’s and its industrial output is ten times larger. Exports from the Republic are 17 times those from the north. Last year economic growth here was 1.4 per cent compared to 4.9 per cent in the Republic. Average income in 2017 in the south was €39,873 compared to €23,700 here. It’s true higher living costs in the south blunt that difference but that far from wipes out the disparity where a worker in the south is paid half as much again as a northern worker, more if you add in the fall in the value of the pound since June 2016.

The economist David McWilliams in December 2017 showed that in the last 60 years incomes in the south have grown by a factor of 20 while here they have grown by five. Welfare payments in the Republic like the equivalent of Job Seekers Allowance or the new draconian Universal Credit system are more than twice as high as here. Those are just a few figures to illustrate the failure of partition which prevented the north developing its own appropriate economic policies separate from those London dictated.

In the event of unity the north would immediately return to the EU. Gosling argues that the EU will assist in restructuring costs as it did with German unification after 1990. The European Investment Bank would play a key role supplying cheap borrowing to develop an integrated Irish economy. Britain would be responsible for all pension, redundancy and much restructuring costs since the huge public sector in the north has been paying into both state and occupational pensions and indeed the whole population has been paying into state benefits. This arrangement would continue until at least 2050.

Remember, despite leaving the EU Britain will have to pay billions for its own EU civil servents’ and MEP’s pensions for decades. Finally, Britain needs to address the infrastructure investment in roads, water, sewage, health and rail. Gosling is not alone in producing economic proposals which demonstrate that Irish unity will be beneficial to all on the island but particularly to the north which lags at the bottom of European growth charts. He is not alone either in having them ignored by governments and UNIONISTS.

With many thanks to: Brian Feeney and The Irish News for the original story.

Facebook asked users if pedophiles should be able to ask kids for ‘sexual pictures’

Facebook sign at Facebook headquarters in Hamburg, Germany

Facebook is under fire for asking users whether pedophiles should be able to proposition underage girls for sexually explicit photographs on the giant social network.

The survey is the latest in a series of missteps by the Silicon Valley company, which has been criticized for allowing content that exploits children.

From violence on its Live streaming service to hate speech to divisive messages sent by Russian operatives trying to to meddle in the U.S. presidential election, toxic content flowing through its platform has heightened scrutiny of Facebook.

Facebook scrapped the survey that posed questions about teens being groomed by older men after it was spotted by media outlets in the United Kingdom. It now says the survey could have been better “designed.”

The company routinely uses surveys to get feedback from the social network’s more than 2 billion users. More recently, Facebook has been relying on user surveys to take their pulse on everything from the “fake news” epidemic to whether Facebook makes them happy as people have stopped spending as much time there.

But the two questions in Sunday’s survey shocked and angered Facebook users.

“In thinking about an ideal world where you could set Facebook’s policies, how would you handle the following: a private message in which an adult man asks a 14-year-old girl for sexual pictures,” Facebook asked.

Sexual contact with minors online, part of a “grooming process” in which adults seek to gain trust and lower inhibition, is often a precursor to sexual abuse.

The possible responses Facebook offered to the question ranged from “this content should not be allowed on Facebook, and no one should be able to see it” to “this content should be allowed on Facebook, and I would not mind seeing it.”

Another question asked who should decide whether an adult man can ask for sexual pictures on Facebook, with options ranging from “Facebook users decide the rules by voting and tell Facebook” to “Facebook decides the rules on its own.”

Jonathan Haynes, digital editor at the Guardian newspaper, tweeted: “I’m like, er wait is making it secret the best Facebook can offer here? Not, y’know, calling the police?”

“That was a mistake,” Guy Rosen, a vice president of product at Facebook, responded.

“We run surveys to understand how the community thinks about how we set policies,” he wrote on Twitter. “But this kind of activity is and will always be completely unacceptable on (Facebook). We regularly work with authorities if identified. It shouldn’t have been part of this survey.”

“It is hard to believe that Facebook could be so utterly tone-deaf when it comes to this issue,” said Diana Graber, founder of Cyber Civics and CyberWise which teach digital literacy to kids and parents. “The fact that Facebook would even pose this question theoretically is disgusting.”

In a statement, Facebook said the survey referred to “offensive content that is already prohibited on Facebook and that we have no intention of allowing.”

Stacey Steinberg, a law professor at the University of Florida and author of Sharenting: Children’s Privacy in the Age of Social Media, says the Facebook survey sent a “terrible message” and, worse yet, normalizes predatory behavior.

Facebook shouldn’t be asking users whether such behavior is acceptable, it should be educating families on the risks posed by online predators, she said.

“Working with law enforcement is an important first step, but Facebook can do even more. Instead of asking questions such as the ones posed in this survey, Facebook can use its reach to help families and victims,” Steinberg said.

Digital citizenship expert and technology ethicist David Ryan Polgar chalks up the flap over the survey to “massive growing pains” as Facebook wrestles with its social responsibility.

“The misstep with the survey seems to be a situation of good intentions that did not fully appreciate the rightful anger and frustration the general public feels towards the current online environment,” he said.

International attention to how pedophiles use social media to target and prey on children has grown in recent years.

An investigation by the BBC in 2016 uncovered numerous private Facebook groups by and for men with a sexual interest in children to share images, with one run by a convicted pedophile. Photos of children taken from their parents’ Facebook accounts have also been found on pedophile sites.

Facebook faced criticism again in 2017 when the BBC flagged dozens of images and pages containing child pornography. Of the 100 reported images,18 were removed by Facebook, according to the BBC. At the time, the BBC said Facebook asked to be sent examples of the images and then reported the broadcaster to the child exploitation unit of Britain’s National Crime Agency.

Verified child sex abuse images are sent to the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and other organizations that work with law enforcement to find offenders. Facebook also combats the spread of child pornography with technology that detects and blocks content from being uploaded.

“We have prohibited child grooming on Facebook since our earliest days,” the company said. “We have no intention of changing this, and we regularly work with the police to ensure that anyone found acting in such a way is brought to justice.”

With many thanks to: US Today for the original story.

Pay rise for prison staff: statement by Rory Stewart

A statement from Justice Minister Rory Stewart about this year’s pay rise for prison officers, amounting to the biggest increase since 2008.

Ministry of Justice, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, and Rory Stewart OBE MP

Today I have announced this year’s pay rise for prison officers, amounting to the biggest increase they have seen since 2008.

In meeting the spirit of the independent Prison Service Pay Review Body’s recommendation for a 2.75% uplift, I hope all involved will recognise the commitment we are making to building the world class prison service we want to see.

Our hard-working prison officers, managers and governors are at the absolute heart of this. They do a vital job in protecting the public every day, often in very challenging, difficult and dangerous circumstances.

We fully acknowledge the challenges they have faced over recent years and that is why we are investing £100m in new officers, with more than 3,000 now recruited. The Ministry of Justice has recently announced further investments in safety, security and the fabric of the estate, designed to tackle the unacceptable trend of increasing violence we have seen.

It should also be noted that we worked hard last year to secure prison officers a pay rise that was significantly greater than the 1% cross-government cap that was in place at the time.

This Government is committed to ensuring that all public sector workers, including those in the prison service, are fairly paid for the vital work they do.

But this has to be balanced with our determination to improve the public finances, to reduce the country’s debt while keeping taxes low.

We ended the 1% average pay policy in September 2017, so that we could continue to deliver great public services while increasing productivity, but we must always consider longer term affordability.

This is not just about the prison service. The pay awards announced today are fair and reasonable across public sector workforces.

It is a deal that is fair to our workers but also fair to the taxpayer.

Allied to the allowances and pensions earned by our prison officers, along with the rewarding career on offer, I believe this package will allow the service to recruit and retain the high calibre staff they need to drive forward our ambitious reforms.

With many thanks to: Gov.co.uk for the original story.