Ask For Angela!

original (1)A recent campaign has highlighted a simple solution to the all too common phenomenon of women and girls being harassed on nights out. Bray Fianna Fáil activist James Doyle sees potential in the idea and is calling on pubs and clubs throughout the county to promote its use.

“Nightlife like any activity comes with risks. One of those risks is unwanted and on occasion aggressive attention. Friends of mine who work in bars tell me that sometimes they can spot this behaviour and attempt to resolve it; other times they do not. There’s a whole load of reasons why this might be.

Following its success in the UK where a local council ran with the idea 2 years ago the “Ask For Angela” code word campaign has been adopted by Waterford County Council. An Garda Siochana are also supporting it. That’s because it’s proved highly successful. By empowering women to get out of difficult situations.

“She can simply ask for Angela at the bar and the bar tender is then aware and can seek to help her. That help could be by calling her a taxi , guiding her to a part of the venue where she can make an unnoticed exit or approaching the person involved and asking them to leave at an appropriate time and manner.”

Doyle, who has campaigned on other social issues believes word of mouth can help get the message out. But what would really give it a lift would be for pubs in our towns to row in behind it. “Staff awareness training could make a huge difference. So would putting up posters in discreet places such as toilets so customers are reminded there is a way out if the need arises.”

Wicklow Businesses Urged To Prepare For New Data Protection Regime

Whether you are self-employed or run a business with lots of employees you need to know your obligations under new data protection regulations. That’s according to Fianna Fáil activist James Doyle who spoke with the Wicklow Times recently. And with penalties of up to €20m for non-compliance perhaps that’s advice worth paying attention to.

“To do business you need to hold information. Phone numbers, email addresses, delivery addresses, order preferences, bank accounts. The list goes on. To the extent that any information identifies a living person it is what’s typically known as “personal data”. The law isn’t saying to businesses ‘you can’t keep personal data, so give it back or get rid of it’. If it did that no employee could be paid a wage for example. No. What the law is saying is that you need to be careful with how you hold or use that data.”

Doyle, a qualified legal professional, makes the point that “Data protection laws have existed in Ireland for 30 years. Although being something of a game changer, the general data protection regulation (GDPR) is more or less the latest instalment in the data protection series. Sure, the rights and responsibilities around people’s data are being strengthened but businesses now have the opportunity to make themselves ready for the new regime by informing themselves and accommodating such changes before its’ roll out.” claims the Bray activist.

“Take for example the rules around ‘data access requests’. Today an individual who requests a copy of his or her personal data from their phone company or former employer can expect to receive it within 40 days. From 25th May onwards the timeframe shortens to 30 days.”

“Legal compliance starts with awareness. On personal data, I’m calling on local businesses to make themselves aware of what they must do to safeguard the personal data they control and process. The Data Commissioner’s website is a good starting point. The section dedicated to the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) sets out some questions for business people to ask themselves about the types of information they hold, on whom, for what purpose and with what security controls”.

The General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect on 25th May 2018. For more information regarding the General Data Protection Regulation visit


New Bus Operator gets Go-Ahead

operator_newThe National Transport Authority have finally selected a UK bus company, Go-Ahead to operate the 184, 185 and 45A bus routes for the next 5 years. Ensuring that fares and frequency safeguards are implemented will be critical for local bus passengers.

Some may react with surprise to the announcement. The truth is this process has been underway for over 3 years. Basically the National Transport Authority took a detailed look at all orbital bus routes serving the greater Dublin area. They do this on a 5 year basis so that the service meets the developing needs of the local population. That’s what is important here, not scaremongering about privatisation. The buses remain in public ownership as do the terms of operating them.

As tax payers and bus passengers we have a clear interest in this review – value for money and an operator that’s up to the task and doesn’t cut corners.

That’s why the contract between the NTA and the operator is so crucial. What can Dublin Bus (or Go Ahead) do in terms of raising fares or cutting frequency at off-peak times? I’ve written to the NTA on several occasions and asked to see the proposed contracts so I could check them for myself. The NTA have indicated that key service requirements such as fare and frequency will be incorporated in the contracts binding the new operator. They said that to me, and their announcement confirms that it is the NTA and not GoAhead who will determine fares and frequency over the next 5 years.

However a few loose ends need careful attention.

They have not confirmed how comprehensively they will monitor service levels to Kilmacanogue, Newtown Mount Kennedy and Enniskerry when Go Ahead take over the reigns from Dublin Bus. Neither is it clear what penalties apply to bus operators who might be tempted to reduce frequency in remote areas or during off peak hours. Fares and Frequency. These are the very public service obligations that the NTA and, indirectly, the Minister for Transport are charged with protecting.

Then there’s the condition to have a fully functional bus depot in place. Go-Ahead have been given 1 year to build or acquire a depot. It’s critical that their commitment rings true. Several other tenders were considered for these local bus routes. 6 serious players were in contention as recently as last Winter. The NTA statement says that GoAhead were the only contender willing to commit to a depot. If for whatever reason they don’t walk the walk where does that leave North Wicklow passengers when the deadline strikes in late 2018?

While I welcome the decision to put the passenger rather than the bus company first, it’s crucial that no nasty surprises are felt along the way.

As a growing population hub on the East coast, Wicklow needs more transport infrastructure not less. When making the GoAhead announcement, the NTA Chief Executive suggested that as a result of the new operator running a total of 24 bus routes, service levels would increase by as much as 35%. If that materialises that will benefit not only bus passengers, but it should also reduce congestion on our roads and go some way towards meeting carbon reduction targets. Wicklow needs to see a decent chunk of that 35% increase and I’m calling not just on the NTA, but also on Government, to give Wicklow the infrastructure injection it so critically needs.

Disturbing Neglect of Children’s Disability Needs in Wicklow

Data released by the HSE demonstrates widespread failure in the assessment of the needs of children with disabilities. This failure may come as no surprise to parents with experience of the system, but it marks a slippery slope and involves a breach of legal duty by the service provider.


Parents have the right to have their child’s disability needs assessed within three months of a completed application. Legislation exists to safeguard that right – namely, the 2005 Disability Act.


We now know that the HSE are systematically failing to uphold this legislation which came into being to put an end to such failings, as well as to vindicate the rights of all children in a modern Ireland. New data not only confirms this with the number of children on waiting lists leaping by 28%  between the end of 2016 and May of this year. What’s more, of the 5,727 applications received last year, only 3,108 assessment reports were completed which is 210 fewer than in 2015 despite 89 fewer applications being received.

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Inaction on Abortion is Unacceptable:

InactionAs Irish people we are renowned for the ease with which we can strike up light conversation. We excel at “shooting the breeze” and “small talk”. Once the subject is “easy-going” then so are we. Decide to slip an inconvenient topic such as abortion into the chat and watch what happens.
It’s one of those polarising issues that people prefer to steer clear of because it’s easier to do so. Politicians do likewise. Irish social history is scarred by battles on the subject. Each time our abortion laws are questioned – from whatever quarter – respectful debate breaks down. As sure as night follows day one of the Pro-Choice or Pro-Lifegroups will accuse the other of pedalling an extreme agenda. What these accusations fail to acknowledge is the silent majority who know to do nothing is a failure, and yet who feel paralysed to seek out workable solutions.


The UN Human Rights Committee recently ruled on the case of Amanda Mellett who was twenty weeks into her pregnancy when doctors told her that her pregnancy was non-viable and travelled to the UK for a termination.
The Committee declared that we have an “obligation to take steps to prevent similar [human rights] violations occurring in the future”. So what does this mean? It called for the state to “amend its law on voluntary termination of pregnancy, including if necessary its Constitution, to ensure compliance with the Covenant”. A major footnote for our leaders: Try tip-toeing around that one. Within hours the debate had kicked off.
Let’s be clear on one thing: this situation will happen again unless there is a change to Ireland’s laws. It may not happen to you orto me, it may not happen today or tomorrow. But one day, a young woman experiencing a fatal foetal abnormality will decide that she wants a termination. Whether you think that decision is the right one or the wrong one the fact remains our laws are not fit to address the varied circumstances a pregnant woman can find herself in. Something needs to be done.

How To Improve Care Services For People With Intellectual Disabilities – From Your Laptop

change-671374_1280Arising from the Prime Time Investigation of the Aras Attracta nursing home revelations which showed residents being slapped, kicked, verbally abused, force fed and physically restrained, the HSE’s independently appointed review group has set up a public consultation inviting concerned and interested members of the public to have their say on urgent changes and reforms in the provision of care for people with intellectual disabilities.

Any decent human being who watched the RTÉ production or read the many reports last December will recall being completely shocked with what they saw. The emotional response was understandably one of disbelief, disgust and ultimately anger.
What’s now important is that changes are put in place so that we never let this happen again. We’re talking about the most vulnerable people in our society. We owe it to them. Questions need to be answered on the best approach: whether through legislation or procedures, involving training, funding or oversight. The time to act is now, not a few years down the line when another incident occurs and people wonder why nothing was done after Aras Attracta.
The public consultation process should be welcomed and engaged with. It’s an active step in the right direction for Wicklow residents including parents, guardians, friends, care professionals – especially those who have experience of care services for the intellectually disabled. They now have the opportunity to have their genuinely held concerns and grievances listened to and hopefully acted upon. Ideally this information will lead to meaningful and constructive reform within the intellectual disability care sector. We don’t know whether that will happen. What will happen is that the review group will have the benefit of relevant feedback from those who actually use care services.
Inclusion Ireland, the leading national association for people with intellectual disabilities, have been entrusted with the responsibility of hosting submissions from the public through their website ( The questions asked are refreshingly straightforward. For example, One asks ‘what action can providers take to ensure people are treated with dignity and respect?’ , another asks ‘how to prevent neglect?’. Continue reading