New Irish Red Cross bike unit launched in Limerick City

A new bike unit was launched by the Irish Red Cross Limerick City Branch on Thursday March 18th after their public debut at the St. Patrick’s Day parade. This is only the second such unit in the country, the Irish Red Cross in Cork having introduced a similar unit in 2007.

The unit currently has 2 bikes, one of which was sponsored by the Bike Shop, O’Connell Ave., while Signs Plus (Eastway Business Park) sponsored the bike markings and striping. The bikes will be used at large public gatherings to facilitate first aid provision over a larger area and will also be brought to such events as point to points to facilitate quick access to casualties on vast courses.

These bikes are the latest addition to an existing fleet of 4 Red Cross vehicles in Limerick City (2 ambulances, an off road ambulance and a minibus). A national training course is being developed for such units and will take place in the coming weeks. All members of the unit are already trained in first aid to Intermediate and EMFR (Emergency Medical First Responder <advanced>) level and each bike crew will always have at least one EMFR.

Attending the launch was Mayor John Gilligan who commented on the benefit of such bikes to aid first aid provision. Also in attendance was Mr. Ted Noonan, Regional Director of Units. He noted his enthusiasm for the development of this unit and commended Signs Plus and The Bike Shop for their generosity in facilitating the unit.

For further info please contact Irish Red Cross Limerick PRO Hilary Parkinson: 087 6997574

Electric Cars

“Electric cars will be on Limerick streets within two years, and will lead to significant changes in the Irish Transport system,” according to Green Party election candidate for the Castleconnell Area, Trish Forde-Brennan. Thanks to an historic deal, the Memorandum of Understanding, signed between Energy Minister, Eamon Ryan and by Padraig Ryan (for the ESB) favourable conditions have been created for the distribution of electric vehicles to the Irish market by Renault-Nissan. “This will save us money and protect us from the unpredictable costs of imported oil. Added to this is an equally important outcome, electric vehicles will help cut carbon emissions, and place Ireland to the forefront of developments in this technological field with consequent opportunities for business and for researchers. It is a development which is good news in the anxious time we live in. We can lead in this field as Ireland is a suitable location for electric vehicles for a number of reasons:

  • Size: The battery range suits the size of the country ( for example Dublin City toLimerick is only a 195 km journey)
  • Car Neutral: No indigenous car manufacturing base
  • Private Homes: There will be less need for charging points on street for overnight trickle charge as individual homes can use their domestic electricity supply and Ireland has a high level of home ownership.
  • Electricity network: This is owned and operated by a single entity, ESB Networks and the regulatory framework exists to allow multiple suppliers to provide electricity to their EV (electric vehicle) customers.
  • Committed Government: The government is actively promoting the use of electricity in transport and is committed to reducing CO2 emissions in the transport sector.
  • High Levels of wind energy: this renewable energy source can be used to charge electric vehicles which effectively provides storage facilities for the wind generated at non peak load times.

It is estimated that the annual cost of driving an electric car equates to one month’s petrol bill for a regularly fuelled vehicle and it certainly seems to be an option for city and suburban driving.The technology is advancing all the time and the BBC’s Top Gear recently did an encouraging review of what is available in electric cars I urge people to at least check out the possibility of going electric for the next purchase if they wish to save money and protect our environment. It’s a “Think Green, save with Green scenario,” she concluded.

Funding for Care of the Aged

Green Party candidate for the Castleconnell Electoral Area, Trish Forde-Brennan, welcomed the good news that funding of €2,21700 for the Castleconnell Ahane Care of the Aged as good news for older people wishing to access socially monitored alarm systems, and small items of security equipment such as sensor lighting, window and door locks, door chains and smoke alarms. This funding comes under the Scheme of Community Support for Older People and is given by the Department of Community, Rural, and Gaeltacht Affairs.

“The scheme is open throughout the year and applications can be made as needs arise. In times when anti-social behaviour, break-ins and isolation are situations facing people it is particularly reassuring to know that there is funding available to enhance the security of the older members of our communities. Without it and the invaluable work of locally based community and voluntary groups many would live in anxiety and distress.”

Greens call for Negotiations for Government of National Unity

Green Party election candidate, Trish Forde-Brennan, has called for the Green party to enter into negotiations with all other parties with a view to establishing a Government of National Unity. This follows on from a motion debated at the Green Party Convention which took place at the weekend in White’s Hotel, Wexford.

At first glance one might say that such a proposal is naive and that it could never work. Certainly, it is true that political parties enjoy taking verbal swipes at one another and in particular Fianna Fail and Fine Gael. In the last eighteen months or so this has intensified to such a degree that ordinary people are tiring of all political parties and see politics as bad business. Certainly, it is said by many that they do not want to have anything to do with politicians and question why we have them. There is widespread cynicism of politics which is in itself worrying for we do need people who are prepared to lead and manage the country. Without governance we will have anarchy and mayhem. This would happen whether the economy is thriving or failing.

In the present recession it is more important than ever before that politicians see beyond the now and lead us out of the financial situation which we are in. But can this happen when individual parties and politicians are wasting valuable energy and time verbally duelling one another? An alternative government is not the solution as opposition politics would still apply. Such a solution” would lose the country valuable time and ironically waste more money in election campaigns with posters, photo opportunities, election vans and loudspeakers. Is that really what we want? Is that really what we need? I don’t believe it is the solution. What we want and need is for all politicians to work together for us. To do so does not show a lack of confidence from government parties nor does it demonstrate a lack of talent from opposition parties. It would however show political solidarity at a time of national crisis.

Critically, a government of National Unity would have the best talent available and it could serve for a specified period of time. This would ensure that there would be no disconnect from the people and no indefinite loss of democratic debate from the Dail. Indeed, a general election could be called for once the time for unity government had ceased and this could be done by prior agreement. We are in a national emergency but we can recover and be stronger. What it takes is vision and thinking outside the box. That is why the Green Party brought this motion to convention, for as a political party we are prepared to take the first step.

Opportunity to save on cost of electricity

Green Party’s Trish Forde-Brennan welcomes the news that the public can now avail of a scheme to produce and sell electricity back to the ESB for distribution to the National Grid. This has real potential for us to reduce our electricity bills and to provide extra monies to both individual homes and farms.It is a scheme worth applying for with the added bonus that the first 4,000 applicants will be guaranteed a price of 19 cent per kWH hour of electricity produced.

This competitive feed-in tariff will apply to the first 4,000 micro-generation installations countrywide over the next three years. Eligible installations include small scale wind, photovoltaic, hydro and combined heat and power.

Traditionally, the electricity network was designed to accommodate the flow of electricity from large centralised plants to customers dispersed throughout the country. Micro-generation at local level now introduces two-way flows to the electricity system. Local generators will have the ability to be paid by the ESB for electricity that is surplus to their own requirements and export it back to the national grid.

The new support price is being introduced along with a number of other measures in the Government’s micro-generation programme including:

  • Connection: An “Inform and Fit” connection policy to be introduced by ESB Networks to reduce the length of time and complexity of the connection process. Sustainable Energy Ireland also has clear information explaining the connection process.
  • Grant assistance for R & D: This pilot study includes grant assistance for 40% of the cost of 50 trial units (of up to 50kW) countrywide. Applications are being accepted by Sustainable Energy Ireland.
  • Planning exemptions: The Department of Environment has made small scale generation from low-carbon sources exempt from planning permission. The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources will continue to work with the Department of Environment on planning issues surrounding renewable energy installations.

Incredible Edibles campaign launched to encourage kids to eat their greens

Green Party election candidate, Trish Forde-Brennan has welcomed the launch of a campaign today by Food Minister Trevor Sargent to encourage school children to grow five Irish fruit and vegetable crops in the classroom. The Incredible Edible packs, prepared by Agri Aware, are being sent to schools nationwide this week.

 Ms. Forde-Brennan said: “This is a great scheme with a wide range of benefits. As well as learning about healthy eating and local Irish produce, school children will be encouraged to get involved with growing their own food at home as well as in the classroom. In an era, when we are encouraging the consumption and purchase of locally produced food, we need as much education as possible on the issues involved, and there’s no better place to start, than in the classroom.”

 The programme has received exceptional cross-industry support, allowing over 200,000 school children to participate, at no cost to the schools involved. In total 360,000 seeds and plants and 60 tonnes of compost will be divided and sent to every school in the country.

 Green Party Minister for Food Trevor Sargent said the potential educational benefits of this campaign are immense. “Developing the food growing skills and encouraging good eating habits of the next generation will help make Ireland become a more resourceful and healthier society in the years to come,” he said.

 The Incredible Edibles programme is a follow on to Agri Aware’s Meet the Spuds, Potato Growing Challenge in 2008. Each pack contains strawberries, potato, onions, cabbage and lettuce and will be accompanied by a DVD. Students will create a growing diary and document their agricultural adventure from sowing and planting in February to harvesting in June.  

“Many of us may remember generations before us growing their own food and I hope this scheme will highlight the nutritional and cultural significance of Irish fruit and vegetables to those, who may never have seen a row of spuds or a strawberry bed in anyone’s garden or vegetable patch,” said Ms.Forde-Brennan