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Learner drivers least likely to pass their test in Dublin

Ennis is the driving test centre with the best pass rate in Ireland in 2016 according to a new report published by the Road Safety Authority.

Overall, 73.25 percent of people who took their driving test in Ennis passed.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) have published a list of the pass rates for all its driving centres in 2016.

The figures account for the fifty driving centres that the RSA operates around Ireland.

Churchtown was the driving centre with the lowest pass rate for drivers at 42.41 percent.

In Dun Laoghaire (45.16%), Tallaght (45.22%), Raheny (46.53%), Finglas (48.05%), Naas (49.16%) Rathgar (47.77%) and Wicklow (48.87%) less than half passed their driving test.

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The overall average pass rate for all driving centres was 53.65 percent. According to the RSA, these are some of the most common reasons why people fail driving tests:

  1. Inadequate observation moving off, at junctions, at roundabouts and when changing lanes.
  2. Failure to anticipate the actions of other drivers.
  3. Incorrect road position on the straight, on bends, turning left, turning right, at roundabouts, and when overtaking.
  4. Inadequate progress at junctions, roundabouts, on the straight, and when overtaking.
  5. Incorrect or inadequate use of mirrors and signals.
  6. Non-compliance with traffic controls, e.g. road signs and markings and traffic lights.
  7. Incorrect, inadequate or inappropriate use of vehicle controls, including gears, clutch, accelerator, steering, handbrake, foot brake, and secondary control.
  8. Excessive speed for the road or traffic conditions.
  9. Failure to yield the right of way to others.
  10. Lack of competence in the reverse and U-turn manoeuvres.

When asked if there was any plans to open more driving centres in 2017 the RSA said they have no plans to open any new centres but will review resources available in existing centres around the country.

“The RSA does not have any plans to open any additional driving test centres in 2018, but continues to review resources and to monitor waiting times closely and is constantly reviewing and adjusting the deployment of driver testers in order to meet demand as much as possible at the centres where the need is greatest,” said a spokesperson for the Road Safety Authority.

The pass/fail statistics for 2017 will not be finalised until early 2018. “We will publish these statistics on our website once they are finalised. It is the case that pass and fail rates are usually quite similar from year to year,” said a spokesperson for the RSA.

By Keeva Tyrrell



CSO figures reveal Irish women are better educated than men

Latest census figures reveal that women in Ireland are better educated than men, as 43.2 percent of women aged 15 and over received third-level education in 2016 compared with 40.7 percent of men.

Census figures released last month by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) showed that 42 percent (1,216,945) of the population aged 15 and over had a third level qualification, compared with just 13.6 percent in 1991.

“This report shows a continuing decline in the numbers of early school leavers and increases in the numbers with third level qualifications,” said Deirdre Cullen, senior statistician with the Central Statistics Office.

Hajar Infographic Education.png
More women in Ireland hold third level degrees than men. Source Hajar Akl

Broken down to age groups, out of those aged between 15 and 39, 56.2 percent of them had a third-level qualification, compared to 18.9 percent of those aged 65 and over.

The counties with the highest rates of completed third-level education were Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown with 61.1 percent, Galway City with 55.2 percent and Dublin City and Fingal, both with 48.7 percent. The counties with the lowest rates were Longford and Wexford, at 32.5 percent.

The figures also show that for people aged twenty, those with parents with higher levels of education were more likely to still be in education. In all, 60.6 percent of all 20-year olds in family units were students in 2016.

And among those whose parents were educated to a maximum of lower secondary level, 44.9 percent were full-time students, increasing to 65.2 percent for those with both parents educated to upper secondary level. For those 20-year olds with both parents having a degree, 87.5 percent were full-time students.

The figures also showed that those with a qualification in Arts had the highest unemployment rate in 2016, at 11.6 percent (down from 17.1 percent in 2011).

Between 2011 and 2016 the unemployment rate fell the most for those with a qualification in Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction, from 15.7 percent to 6 percent. Those with a qualification in Education had the lowest unemployment rate in 2016 at 3.1 percent.

Although more women had third-level education, more men (16,016) had a doctorate (Ph.D.) than women (12,743). The 28,759 people who stated that they had a doctorate level qualification was an increase of 30.9 percent on the 2011 figure, and up 99.5 percent on 2006. There were 23,296 persons at work among this group, while the unemployment rate was 3.4 percent.

By Hajar Akl

Fine Gael’s €1.2 million deficit following 2016 election

Fine Gael saw its deficit rise to €1.2 million in 2016, whereas Fianna Fáil was in position to deliver a surplus of €500,000 according to the annual financial accounts released on Thursday.

This drop in finances, according to Fine Gael’s report, has been a result of the ‘disappointing’ election, with the number of members in the Oireachtas falling lower than anticipated, and funding being affected by this.

According to a party spokesman, “Fine Gael also has a strong fundraising function, raising €1.4m gross in 2016.” The party took out a loan of €1.6 million to cover election expenses.

According to the publication of Fine Gael’s 2016 donors and donations, they publicly declared receiving €65,324 as a party, and its TDs declared receiving €23,190.

Interestingly, Fianna Fáil didn’t declare any funding as a party in 2016 (declarations are only mandatory if over €1,500 from the same individual in that year).

Eleven Fianna Fáil TDs, the Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghail and Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee, declared that they personally were donated a total of €19,500. This is the only record of donations associated with Fianna Fáil that has been made public from 2016.

With the news emerging that Fianna Fáil are in a better financial position than Fine Gael after the cost of the 2016 election, it’s interesting to note that Fianna Fáil declared that they didn’t receive any substantial donations (over €1,500 by the same person), whereas a small party like the Socialist Party received €39,518 in donations.

Fianna Fáil have stated that 72% of their donations are small figures, but “made by a large number of people”.  However, in these records of donations from 2016, there is no indication that more substantial donations (the other 28%) were made at all that year.

By Mary-Kate Findon


The Irish Defence Forces deployed 1,300 troops on UN missions this year

On the 17th of November, 230 Irish troops returned home following a six month deployment to South Lebanon.  The 110 Infantry Battalion of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), were greeted at Terminal 1 in Dublin Airport by overjoyed friends and family.

Their tour of duty is in accordance with Ireland’s long-standing participation in overseas missions mandated by the United Nations.  Ireland has been a member of the UN since 1955 and next year will mark the sixtieth anniversary of Ireland’s first contribution to a UN Peace Support Operation.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act 2014 reveal that between January 2007 and December 2016, approximately 9,812 troops have been deployed to various missions between postings for the UN, EU, Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s Partnership for Peace (PfP/NATO).  These other organisations appear as the UN is increasingly relying on regional organisations to launch and manage operations on its behalf and under its authority.

Today, the Defence Forces have over 640 personnel serving in eleven countries and one sea under these organisations, while a total of 1,300 troops have been deployed in 2017.  The Irish Defence Forces continue to show their dedication to the cause as they have “the longest unbroken record of peacekeeping service in the world [and] we can justifiably claim to be experts in peacekeeping and peace enforcement operations,” according to spokesman Commandant Pat O’Connor.

However, some may wonder what is the importance of these missions to Ireland.

“Overseas service and the associated training is where our personnel gain experience in high pressure operational environments, develop their professional leadership skills as well as the capability needed to protect Ireland against modern threats,” said Cmdt O’Connor.

“The aim of these missions is not to go in guns blazing, it is an extensive effort in the path to peace.  Peacekeeping has unique strengths, including legitimacy, burden sharing, and an ability to deploy and sustain troops and police from around the globe, integrating them with civilian peacekeepers to advance multidimensional mandates.

“UN Peacekeepers provide security and the political and peacebuilding support to help countries make the difficult, early transition from conflict to peace.”



Ireland has built up quite a reputation on these missions and in fact many of our troops are depended on to lead missions.  “Success is never guaranteed, because UN peacekeeping almost by definition [involves going] … to the most physically and politically difficult environments,” said Commandant O’Connor.  “However, we have built up a demonstrable record of success over our sixty years … including winning the Nobel Peace Prize.”

The day to day life and tasks that these troops might face while on these missions may be a mystery to some.  Former Sergeant Steven Shields, who was deployed to Lebanon, discussed what takes place when sent out for deployment.

“We monitor in a country, we observe, we report, and we keep a buffer line between two hostile forces,” he said.

“The mission is to provide peace and security within your safety zone.  You do this by integrating into the local population, reporting back to higher authority and being able to have patrols and keeping a physical presence throughout the set area.”

He recounted that a normal day would involve humanitarian work, which entails helping with schools, food, water purification, infrastructure, setting up hospitals and providing medical supplies.  They would then continue to integrate into the local community and visit politicians.  These visits would include offering mediation services between hostile forces.

“Whatever area they are in becomes a secure zone, it means that not only do they provide the humanitarian aspect, they also provide security, so people can see a military presence.  How they do that is by patrols and you’re seen.  With the UN, the Irish will generally not wear helmets, they’ll wear soft flat berets.  Glasses are off to make eye contact to appear friendly, but they’ll still carry weapons.”

These patrols throughout villages are so people can always be aware of a military presence protecting them, but at staggered times 24 hours a day, in order to remain unpredictable.

They also offer mine clearings for villages, secure zones where people can go to be protected and not fired upon.  They also offer employment to locals, providing jobs within their camp.  They also help provide an economy by buying supplies off the locals to create prosperity.

If anything happened within their camp however, they would have to report back to the UN immediately where it would be brought to a world stage.

“We were the eyes and ears of the world,” said Steven Shields.

By Mary-Kate Findon & Lee Shields