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Connacht Tribune

TD calls for ban on mobile phones in schools

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Mobile phones should be banned in schools, a Galway TD has suggested.

It is important that children should have eight hours in the day free from social media interference, said Dáil Deputy Anne Rabbitte.

The Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children and Youth Affairs also warned parents that their children may be ‘sexting’ while they sit next to them in the sitting room.

“It appears there is a highly active secret texting code being used universally by young people. While some of the more widely known abbreviations are innocent and merely used as time saving devices, such as brb (be right back) and lol (laugh out loud), some have far more sinister meanings behind them. This is allowing highly-sexualised and inappropriate conversations to be carried out right under parents’ noses,” warned the mother of three.

“It is my belief that the presence of phones should be outlawed in schools entirely. This is something parents can monitor much easier than the schools themselves. It is so important that our children be allowed these eight hours free of social media interference. Our children live in a fast-moving media bubble and our only weapon is knowledge,” she said.

Deputy Rabbitte called for additional supports for parents to enable them protect their children online. She said many parents are worried about their children’s online activity, and are especially concerned about cyber-bullying and grooming.

“The ever-evolving digital environment means parents can often feel on the back-foot when it comes to protecting their children online, and has created a real fear about cyber-bullying, grooming and access to porn.

“Parents are often well aware of how much time their kids are spending online, but less familiar with what they’re accessing.  Parents need to familiarise themselves with the technology their children are using but there also needs to be more information and supports out there to help them do that.

“The increased prevalence of social media, smartphones, and almost constant internet access, much of the advice we dole out to parents and educators has become out-dated and impractical.

“As a member of the Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs, I will be exploring new ways of engaging children and young people, as well as their parents, guardians, and teachers, on the issue of internet safety. Peer to peer and parental education, along with new child-centred programmes must form the backbone of a new, improved internet safety campaign,” added Deputy Rabbitte.

Deputy Rabbitte said An Garda Síochána should follow the lead of PSNI and release a list of the terms to “help guide and educate parents in relation to these code words so that any inappropriate contact can be addressed.”

She said: “It is our responsibility as parents to ensure we keep up to date with this ever-changing social scene our children are a part of. We have to teach them about consequence and repercussion, and how anything that goes up online can be there for life. It is impossible for us to teach safe practices in a media we do not understand.

“It is important that the Government recognises this issue and acknowledges that not all families will have the same access to this information. For this reason, I would like to see a programme put in place in schools aimed at not just educating children, but parents as well.”

She said parents can no longer monitor children’s activity on Facebook. The representative added: “For most young people Facebook is already a relic – social medias such as Snapchat have started a new wave of instant communication, there one minute gone the next.

“Not only does this make activity harder for parents to monitor, but it can give children a false sense of security – the idea that anything you send will vanish in a matter of seconds, never to be seen again can bolster children’s confidence, encouraging out of character behaviour and recklessness. Privacy is important, but not at the cost of safety. Knowledge is power and we need to empower ourselves and our children.”

Connacht Tribune

Football’s a funny old game – and you can quote me on that

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

If someone actually made it a requirement of your commitment to your job that you run through a brick wall for them, surely the people from health and safety would have to intervene?

And yet this the ultimate tribute a manager pays to their star player, as a way of suggesting he or she would always go the extra yard.

Never mind that the world now measures in metres, but whatever the currency, what would be the point of going a yard or metre further than was required?

Because going the extra yard would mean you’ve gone too far, which sort of defeats the whole plan in the first place.

And yet you hear it all the time, because sports stars have a way of giving an interview which revolves around half a dozen stock answers – all of which leave you none the wiser when it’s over.

Managers learn how to expand on these stock replies to incorporate a whole new range of clichés that fill airtime but answer nothing.

More to the point, they often mean nothing too.

Because where else in life would 100 per cent commitment to the particular cause never be quite enough – given that everyone else was giving 110 per cent?

And yet that too is among those most common clichés expressed in post-match set-piece interviews; packed to the wall with observations that actually mean precisely nothing.

Those post-game interviews were in the news for more serious reasons in recent weeks, after one of the biggest stars of the world of tennis, Naomi Osaka, declined to do them during the French Open because she said that negative questions on her performance were impacting on her mental health.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Sporting organisations letting us down by rolling over to NPHET

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Galway players Niamh McGrath and Siobhan Gardiner show their disappointment after falling to Kilkenny in Sunday's National Camogie League final at Croke Park. Photo: INPHO/Ryan Byrne

Inside Track with John McIntyre

IRELAND’S various big sporting organisations continue to embarrass themselves in relation to how they are handling the Covid pandemic. Being slaves to public health guidelines is one thing, but these bodies have introduced some rules of their own which are only further alienating their support base.

The GAA, IRFU, the FAI and Horse Racing Ireland may be currently dependent on public finances to keep their respective shows on the road, but that can’t excuse their lack of independent thinking or the fact they are making a deeply frustrating situation worse by adding in their own Covid-19 regulations

In effect, these sporting bodies are trying too hard to please NPHET and it doesn’t seem to matter how much they inconvenience or antagonise their grassroots in the process. Take the GAA, for instance. At club level dressing rooms remain closed and that causes significant irritation, especially on wet days.

Horse Racing Ireland is no better. Two owners per runner have been allowed back at race meetings and while that number is about to increase to four, there has been little enthusiasm among the cohort of people who pay the bills to return. And why would they? – no catering, no bookies and no atmosphere. And the most absurd thing of all is that the racing authorities are still enforcing the mask-wearing regulation.

Imagine still having to use a face covering in what amounts to big open fields. Is Horse Racing Ireland clueless as to how foolish jockeys, trainers, the few owners and media people present are being made to look, especially when the risk of contracting Covid is negligible in such an environment? All the while, beaches, public parks and walkways are milling with people.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

The thrill of learning

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Embracing education: Anna Keane who will begin a BA in September; Anne Marie Ward who is doing a part-time degree in Youth, Community and Family Studies; Owen Ward who has a Master’s in Education and works at NUIG; and Jason Sherlock who will embark on a Master’s in International Finance in September. All entered NUIG via its Access Programme.

Lifestyle – Most members of the Travelling community are unlikely to finish secondary education and only a tiny proportion go to university. But for people who want an academic education, NUIG is leading the way. Four keen learners share their stories with JUDY MURPHY, among them post-graduate Owen Ward who works in NUIG’s Access Office, assisting people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Starting third-level education can be daunting for even the most confident teenager. Entering a massive campus, meeting so many new people, trying to figure out timetables, deciding what societies to join and just finding your feet – those early weeks can be a challenge.

That’s how Jason Sherlock felt when the young city man began his degree at NUIG in 2018. A member of the Travelling community, Jason had more reason than most to feel daunted in this educational establishment. According to the 2016 Census, only one percent of Travellers go on to third level – although that has increased slightly since then, thanks to people like Jason and his mentor, Owen Ward, a Programme Coordinator in the university’s Access Office.

Jason, who entered university though the Access Programme, which supports students from ‘non-traditional backgrounds’, will begin studying for a Master’s in International Finance in September, having completed a degree in Economics, Sociology and Political Science.

As we meet on the campus at NUIG on a sunny Friday, he recalls having his photo taken by the Tribune 11 years ago, on his final day at Scoil Bhríde National School in Shantalla, where he had never missed a day.

But university was different. Initially, Jason felt it wasn’t for him and almost dropped out of his course. That’s where Owen Ward appeared. Owen who graduated from NUIG in 2014, having also entered via the Access Programme, was back doing a Master’s in Education.  He heard Jason was on campus and went looking for him among the 18,000 students.

“I didn’t know Jason at the time but I knew his father. And I tracked him down,” he recalls with a laugh. Having done that, he was able to support the younger man in those difficult early days. Jason found his feet and with Owen went on to set up Mincéirs Whiden, a new society at NUIG. The first of its kind in any third-level institution, Mincéirs Whiden is for Traveller students but is open to all. Members include students from the settled community, Irish and international.

Anne Marie Ward, who is beginning her third year of a part-time degree in Youth, Community and Family Studies, is the incoming chair of Mincéirs Whiden.

She’s also the new Ethnic Minorities Officer for the NUIG Students’ Union, the first member of the Travelling Community to be elected to a position in the student body.  She is Owen’s sister.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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