Gerry O'Carroll: Teacher Jenny in a class of her own
YEAR in, year out the teachers' unions whinge and moan about the difficulties faced by their members.
Stress, depression, verbal abuse, crumbling classrooms, and more besides. The lot of the modern Irish schoolteacher seems a difficult one.
But hang on. What's this about Jenny Dixon?
The north Dublin secondary school teacher will not be spending her summer correcting papers, or trying to de-stress on the sofa.
Instead she'll be living it up at the Playboy Mansion, hoping to land a TV gig, and "getting my tan done, hair done and teeth done".
Hardly the summer lot of the typical secondary school teacher, I'd imagine.
I'm sure her colleagues, not to mention her students, will be following her exploits closely.
Closing the door on garda college will only unleash new crimewave
IT'S a good week to be a criminal. House breakers, muggers and car thieves will be having a pint tonight as they plot their next stroke.
And many law-abiding people will be sitting at home, doors bolted, and feeling afraid.
They will be dismayed by the revelation that the Garda College at Templemore is effectively closing down for two years.
The move comes as the latest figures show that theft, burglaries, and public order offences are all up.
The last 126 gardai to graduate from the college will do so tomorrow, with no more recruits for two years, and no recruitment planned.
The news has been greeted with dismay by the Garda Representative Association and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors.
AGSI issued a stark warning, saying that the move will starve the force of youth and rightly stating that one of the biggest growth industries in the recession would be crime.
The GRA says the Government is gambling with the safety of citizens and the security of the State to save money.
I agree with both.
Putting a ban on recruitment is ill-timed and the only gain will be to criminals, not to the the public finances.
Cutting off the supply of young officers comes soon after the force suffered the haemorraghing of hundreds of senior officers in past two years, a brain drain which will not be easily replaced.
So the gardai are now being cut heavily at the senior and junior levels, with experience and youth being removed.
All this on top of major cutbacks in overtime required to run specialised units who tackle gangland crime.
It seems an act of folly and lunacy to impose more cutbacks, just as the anti-gangland units appear to be gaining an upper hand in fighting serious crime, and reducing the murder rate.
Labour-intensive policing has produced these results. But now the Government wants to cut the young manpower which goes into this policing, as the greater experience needed to guide it also drops off.
So the remainder of the force must do extra work quicker and the last thing the country needs is to have an overstretched and undermanned garda force.
I can recall in the 60s and early 70s, when gardai battled hard for resources. After many years of campaigning, the force was brought up to strength and given the right equipment.
It's disgraceful that this same equipment, stored in a modern police college, will now be effectively be lying idle, bar the occasional refresher course.
The fallacy I hear repeatedly trotted out by politicians is that we are a well-policed nation. This is untrue. We have among the lowest number of police per capita.
We had this during the Celtic Tiger days, before the cuts. Now it's even lower.
Every citizen wants to see a garda walking the beat. No amount of IT innovation, degrees in policing, or strategic deployments matter a jot compared to a uniform on the street.
To close Templemore to new recruits is an act of folly. It will mean fewer gardai on the street, it is good news to the ears of criminals, and will jeopardise all the recent gains.
The people -- and their safety -- must be put first. This move must be reversed.
Bankers drive us up the wall
IS there any end to the venality of top bankers? Not content with being bankrolled by the public, a number of them have now elected to buy themselves new cars. For work purposes, naturally.
I'm talking, of course, about the 79 spanking new motors that have been purchased by AIB to date this year. Over at Bank of Ireland 57 new cars have been leased for staff.
The morons are clearly seeing fit to spend like it's 2003 again. Those who decided to purchase and lease these cars have learned nothing.
This news has come as businesses are going to the wall, often for the sake of an overdraft extension of just a few hundred euro.
Even more infuriating is the fact that the banks have refused to tell us -- the people who pick up their tab -- the makes of the cars, or how much they cost to buy or lease.
To put this in context: AIB reported a record loss of €10.4bn for 2010, and Bank of Ireland reported a pre-tax loss of €950m.
So they reward themselves with new cars.
The only thing that surprises me, given the public's anger, is that these new cars aren't bomb or bulletproof.