Latest headlines from Waterford City and County.
Eligible workers encouraged to avail of supports before programme closes
The independent Chairperson of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund (EGF) Talk Talk Programme Consultative Forum, Dr. Ruaidhrí Neavyn, President of Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) stated at a meeting of the forum held recently that significant progress has been made in relation to the uptake of the EGF Talk Talk Programme.
Funding of €5.4m has been made available for the Programme, which provides guidance, training, up-skilling, education and enterprise supports for the 585 workers made redundant at Irish Talk Talk facilities in 2011.
The Minister for Training and Skills, Ciaran Cannon T.D., said: “Measured at various times during the implementation period of the Programme to date, we can see that 329 of the group of workers made redundant at Talk Talk and ancillary enterprises have been in employment”. The Minister echoed the Forum Chairperson’s sentiments, stating: “With 48% of the redundant Talk Talk workers now re-employed, this represents substantial improvement on many of the previous EGF programmes and reflects the improvements in the design and implementation of EGF programmes we have introduced as a result of the Department’s 2012 review process”.
Dr. Neavyn added: “It is worth highlighting that about 70% of the redundant workers have undertaken one or more of the varied EGF supports being offered, with some one-in-ten participating in third level education, 56 of whom are attending WIT. Perhaps the most encouraging statistic emerging relates to re-employment. The latest report compiled by the Programme’s technical support unit, WRC Social and Economic Consultants, indicates the re-employment rate of the cohort rose between February 2012 and August 2013 by almost 75%, with 283 persons in employment at the end of August, which accounts for 48% of the entire cohort.
The consultative forum comprises worker representatives, service providers such as FÁS, Vocational Education Committees, WIT, Department of Social Protection, City and County Enterprise Boards, Enterprise Ireland and the Department of Education and Skills, which is the national EGF managing authority. It meets regularly during the two year implementation period of the programme to assess progress and air the views of the redundant workers on same.
Both the Minister and the Chairman of the Consultative Forum encouraged all redundant workers who are eligible for EGF supports under the Talk Talk Programme, whether they had or had not already availed of some of the measures being provided, to pursue the opportunities afforded by the Programme before it closes on 28 February 2014.
The Third Implementation Report of the EGF Talk Talk Programme can be viewed on the dedicated Department of Education and Skills website http://www.egf.ie. The website also contains contact details for the EGF Co-ordination Unit and information on the range of measures under the Talk Talk programme as well as information on previous Irish EGF programmes.
A state of the art Primary Care Centre, in which HSE Primary Care Teams operate in partnership with two local GP practices, has been officially opened in Tramore by the Minister of State for Primary Care at the Dept. of Health, Alex White, TD.
Located at the Summerhill Shopping Centre in the seaside town, the Tramore Primary Care Centre sees HSE health professionals and GPs providing a range of services including Public Health Nurses, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Dentists, Dieticians, Speech and Language Therapists, Counselling, Mental Health professionals, Area Medical Officers and Early Intervention/Education sessions from the one site.
The two Primary Care Teams include a range of health and social care professionals with three GPs attached to each team (from the Tramore Medical Clinic based in the Centre and the Family Practice Medical Centre based at the Lower Branch Road, Tramore). Both teams also work closely with colleagues in Waterford Regional Hospital to ensure integration between hospital and community based health services. This is especially so in relation to reduction of delayed discharges and in waiting times for Out Patient appointments.
The Centre also has the services of an Addiction Counsellor, Home Help Co-ordinator, Community Mental Health Team and Psychologist.
Minister White was joined in addressing guests gathered for the official opening by HSE’s Area Manager/South East Primary, Community & Continuing Care Ms. Anna Maria Lanigan, Dr. Ann Marie Burke and Dr. Kevin Collins – the GPs representing the respective practices.
In true Waterford style a 40-foot Viking Longboat sailed up the River Suir in Waterford on Friday, November 29 to deliver Santa Claus to the city to officially open the second annual Winterval Festival, which got underway across the city over the weekend and operates until December 31.
The much-anticipated Winterval, Ireland’s Christmas festival was officially declared open by Santa as he arrived on the Marina at the Plaza on the city’s quayside at 3.15pm.
Setting sail from the North Pole earlier in the week Santa was assisted by a crew of friendly Waterford Vikings who rowed the boat to the city centre, here he was met by his hardworking Winterval elves and some wonderful yuletide Vikings and ashore Santa was guided to his Grotto at Winterval where he takes up residence at the historic 13th century undercrofts of the Medieval Museum in the Viking Triangle. The Viking Longboat weighs over one ton and was built in Waterford; it is based on an 11th century Viking ship found in Denmark. Similar ships’ timbers were discovered during the excavations of Waterford city, which took place between 1986 and 1992.
The Winterval festival hosts a full offering of over 30 Winterval trail events; 17 of which are free of charge and upon opening day will all be open to visitors. Festivalgoers can enjoy the wonderful 3D Lightshow commissioned especially for Winterval and the only one of its kind in Ireland, the 7-minute show is based on Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker and will be projected on to the front of the Old Deanery building running every hour and half hour, Wednesday to Sunday from 5pm to 9pm until the festival concludes.
Commenting on the festival opening chairperson of Winterval Barry Monaghan said, “We are thrilled to be officially the second annual Winterval Festival today. It genuinely is the largest Christmas festival in the country, we are also open for an extra five days this year from December 27 to 31 and we have lots of new offerings during this period including linking up with SPRAOI. Last year we saw 250,000 people visit Winterval we have been working hard to increase this figure for 2013, this festival is lots of fun but it is also very important to the local economy and business community and we look forward to welcoming many visitors to the city over the festive period.”
Among the many activities on offer, visitors wishing to get their skates on the huge Waterford on Ice is on the quayside again this year offering some ice-cold fun and for those wishing to journey through the City trail the Winterval Express and the Horse Drawn Sleigh Stations are the place to head to for a trail trip.
The Irish Fire and Emergency Services Association (IFESA) has warned of a potentially dangerous situation emerging as the result of the temporary closure for up to three days of fire stations in Waterford county because of a lack of cover for staff attending mandatory training and a more general shortage of available retained firefighters The shortfall in the number of retained fire fighters in the county has meant that stations have now had to close because there are not enough firemen in place to cover for colleagues who were attending training or on annual leave.
IFESA National Chairman, John Kidd has warned of a worrying and dangerous situation emerging for communities in the county because of the lack of adequate fire services. He said there was a concern among firefighters that the latest development is part of the cynical move over the past 18 months by management to run down the fire services and close stations in parts of the county ahead of the planned merger of Waterford City and County local authorities.
"In one recent case a station was closed for 72 hours because of the lack of staff to provide cover for fire-fighters in training and staff have been told to expect a further 72 hour shut down in the coming week."
"The lessons of the Bray tragedy where two firefighters died in 2007 does not seem to have been learned by fire service management around the country. It has been clearly proven that a major contributing factor in the Bray case was the unavailability of retained staff to man fire engines – we do not want a repeat of those tragic circumstances again."
The December walk of Waterford Irish Wildlife Trust takes place this coming Sunday, December 8, at Little Island, Ballinakill. Start time is 1.45 pm sharp and the meeting point is the ferry car park. We cross on the ferry by foot. Parking in the car park or nearby. This will be a relatively brisk walk with just a few brief stops for talks on the wildlife of the Island and the river that surrounds it.
For Little Island and Waterford Castle take the Dunmore Road past the Hospital and turn left just past Powerscourt. There is signage. The Waterford IWT wishes all its members and supporters a very happy Christmas and New Year and also to thank you all for your support during the past year.
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