Daily Archives: May 8, 2020

EU in My City, Europe Day, 9 May 2020

Mary Elmes Bridge, Cork

Cllr Kieran McCarthy

Europe Day, 9 May, is a chance to reflect on the many social and economic challenges of our time. Regions and cities across the EU remain at the frontline of responding to such challenges – acting upon them, finding resolutions, whilst all the time moving forward in an ambitious and sustainable way. The recent Coronavirus pandemic has also shown once again how important local and regional authorities are to the lives of EU citizens. In my membership of the European Committee of the Regions, which is an assembly of Regional Presidents, Mayors and Councillors I have seen first-hand the importance of sharing knowledge and experience to help each other, create more sustainable cities, towns and regions and to feed into present and EU future policy areas. 

EU Funding For Cork City:

Cork has received many chunks of EU Funds over the past decades. For the 2014-2020 period EU support has been provided to Cork City Council through the various European Structural & Investment Funds (ESIF). These were matched by local and national resources. For example, most recently EU structural funding was witnessed in the construction of Mary Elmes Bridge (€1.5 million) and the ongoing development of Marina Park in South Docklands (€3.5 million).

A significant portion of the EU Structural Funds has been targeted at reducing the carbon footprint of Cork City Council’s social housing stock with separate measures targeting the stock of older houses and of apartments. The interventions being carried out to social housing units include attic and wall insulation works; the upgrading of windows and external doors; and the fitting of high-efficiency condensing boilers or heat pumps. These must achieve an upgrade of at least one level in the energy rating of each unit targeted.

The structural funds in Ireland have also created Entrepreneurship in Micro-Enterprise scheme. This basically allows the city’s Local Enterprise Office (LEO) in Cork to invest to support start-ups, business expansion and higher innovation levels in the manufacturing and traded services.

The European Social Fund (ESF) tackles poverty and social exclusion through targeted engagement and investment in the form of community capacity development and individual life-long learning and labour market supports. This is being delivered by Cork City Partnership and managed by the Local Community Development Committee (LCDC).

Collaboration with other EU Cities & Regions:

            As of early 2020, Cork City Council has, or has only recently concluded, an involvement in 29 EU regional collaboration projects. These are the result of joint applications put together by organisations from across the continent, including like-minded cities in similar contexts. They are part of competitive bidding processes seeking approval by the European Commission. The activity ranges across the entire Council, covering issues of community, social inclusion and learning; culture, heritage and tourism, climate and energy; enterprise and innovation, planning and development, digital transformation; and emergency services.

While some of the engagement is restricted to an advisory capacity, nineteen of these undertakings see Cork City Council involved as full partners. Eighteen are enabled by the award of direct funding from Brussels for the delivery of specific activities on the ground. Over the last five years, these have garnered a combined €2.678 million in additional revenue for Cork City Council. This has made possible the resourcing of staff as project managers. So, studies and research can be conducted, and planning activity drawn up. Finance delivers pilot actions and small-scale investment on the ground that otherwise would not have taken place.

 The projects are providing opportunities to significantly broaden our horizons by means of in-depth exchange and collaboration on specific issues. Consequently, Cork City Council is able to contribute to the pooling of knowledge and sharing of experience as to how common challenges are being addressed in different places. The Council can then investigate and demonstrate whether alternative perspectives and approaches can be adapted and transferred to have a positive impact in Cork.

EU Affairs Officer:

            In 2019, CCC appointed a full-time EU Affairs Coordinator, Ronan Gingles, to facilitate and fully inform access to quality engagement in EU opportunities and initiatives. The role has a whole-of-organisation remit to support European activity that clearly contributes to and informs Cork City Council’s objectives and the development of Cork as an inclusive, future-focussed, sustainable, and competitive European city of scale.

Memberships and Networking

Cork City Council also currently maintains memberships of the following European networks as a means to enhance engagement in EU activity, created interaction with peers, access to knowledge and tools, including best practice; and identified opportunities including project bids.

The Atlantic Arc Cities group comprises 20 cities along or close to the Atlantic seaboard. They work together to explore sustainable urban development through green, attractive and solidarity-based cities.

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability is aninfluential network has a global as well as a European focus. It ranges across sixteen topics through which it seeks to influence sustainability policy and drive local low emission, nature-based, equitable, resilient and circular development action for positive change on the ground.

Startup Europe Regions Networkis dedicated to reinforcing the links between the local and regional authorities, development agencies, universities and associations which support and scale up early-stage businesses across Europe to promote a culture of start-up friendly regions.

POLIS(sustainable and innovative mobility) is a network, which allows cities and regions to collaborate on the development of innovative policies and technologies to improve local transport, including through integrated approaches that address the economic, social and environmental dimensions.

The European Cultural Tourism Networkspecialises in the development and promotion of sustainable cultural tourism by bringing together destinations, authorities.

Prevailing Together:

Finally, we should not forget who we are, yes we are Corkonians but being members of a European Union, brings huge benefits to all of us. That being said we all have our different cultures, traditions and languages.  The EU need to works for and on behalf of its citizens, respecting our diverse regions and demonstrating that we can really be united in diversity.

Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy has recently been reappointed by National Government to serve on the Irish delegation to the EU Committee of the Region in Brussels (CoR) for 2020-2024. The 329-strong body of elected representatives from across Europe’s cities and regions provides the formal mechanism for sub-national input into the EU policy process. Kieran is currently the President of the European Alliance Grouping in the CoR, web.cor.europa.eu.

Leaving Certificate Postponement, Statement by Minister for Education, 8 May 2020

Statement 08 May, 2020

Minister announces postponement of 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations All students to be offered the option of accepting Calculated Grades or sitting Leaving Certificate written examinations at a later date The Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh T.D. has today (Friday 8 May 2020) announced the postponement of the 2020 Leaving Certificate.   Following a decision at Cabinet, all students are to be offered the option of receiving Calculated Grades for the subjects they are studying and the alternative of sitting the 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations at a date in the future when it is considered safe to hold the examinations.   The decision has been taken following an assessment of public health advice and other information and the implications for holding the exams from the previously rescheduled date of Wednesday 29 July 2020.  

Minister McHugh said: “I have made every effort to run the 2020 Leaving Certificate as close as possible to the way the examinations were originally intended to be held.   “My desire had been to allow students to undertake the written and practical examinations in July and August but I have compelling evidence, based on medical advice and other assessments, that the Leaving Certificate examinations cannot be held in a reliable and valid manner, nor in a way that would be equitable for students.”   Minister McHugh said: “The reality of the impact of Covid-19 has led to a decision that has never happened in our country before. I fully appreciate the magnitude of this issue, for the students and their families, for the teachers and for school principals.   “This decision is taken with the best interests of students at heart. I have a responsibility to find a fair way to address the disadvantage that some students are facing and the impact a lack of time in school has had in recent weeks.   “The system being put in place will allow a young person to progress to the next stage of their life in a timely fashion.   “The fairest and most equitable way to do that in the current circumstances is to offer students the option of Calculated Grades for the 2020 Leaving Certificate but also to guarantee them the right to sit the examinations at a later stage when it is safe to hold them in the normal way.   “The decision has to be taken now to remove the anxiety that many students have been experiencing over how the exams would look later in the summer.”   Minister McHugh thanked the advisory group of stakeholders for their input in recent weeks in relation to the holding of the examinations.   The following is a breakdown of the process to be applied for students to be given the option of Calculated Grades or to sit the examinations.

  1. The 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations, previously scheduled to take place in late July and August, have been postponed.
  2. There will be no Leaving Certificate fee this year. All exam fees which have been paid will be refunded.
  3. Teachers will be asked to provide a professional judgment of each student’s attainment which will be subjected to a rigorous in-school alignment process to ensure fairness.
  4. The school principal will approve the estimated scores being provided and the rankings of each student in each subject in the school.
  5. A special unit is being established within the Department of Education and Skills to process the data provided by each school and operate national standardisation, again to ensure fairness amongst all students.
  6. The Department will finalise the grades for each student which will be issued to each student as close as possible to the traditional date. Formal State certification will also be provided.
  7. Students will retain the right to appeal. This will involve checks on school-entered data; correct transfer of that data to the Department; a review that it was correctly received and processed by the Department; and a verification of the Department’s processes by independent appeal scrutineers.
  8. Students will also retain the right to the sit the 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations at a date in the future when it is deemed safe for state examinations to be held.

Ends Notes for Editors There are two main phases in the process of arriving at a Calculated Grade: School-based and national standardisation.   Both phases are underpinned by the principles of teacher professionalism, support for students, objectivity, fairness and equity, collaboration and timeliness.   In addition, and in the spirit of fairness to all Leaving Certificate students, the option of sitting the Leaving Certificate examinations when it becomes feasible to hold them remains open to all students.   The process of arriving at a Calculated Grade applies to: •                  Established Leaving Certificate – subjects •                  Leaving Certificate Applied – subjects, tasks and vocational specialisms •                  Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme – Link Modules. Other materials being published include