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Friday, 16 November 2012 11:27

Summer 2011 RSTA Newsletter

Dark Cloud of Pension Cuts - Perhaps a Silver Lining Later

At the request of the RSTA as well as others the ASTI, with the TUI and INTO sought legal advice as to whether the recent cut in our pensions by the Government is illegal. We are very grateful to the ASTI for reciprocating our ongoing

support for its members by showing its support for the RSTA and ASTI Emeritus Members who are members of the RSTA on this vital issue. In our request, we focused on the grounds of “breach of contract,” due to the unilateral imposition of the pension cut, and on “ownership” of our “deferred salary” due to the Government’s withholding of same from RSTA members.

Unfortunately, the advice received indicates that any case taken against the Government on these grounds is likely to fail. This is because of the enactment of Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act, 2009, the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (No. 2) Act, 2009 and the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act, 2010. The advice suggests that these acts allow the Government to override certain rights previously enshrined in other legislation and generally regarded as sacrosanct

Our pension arrangements are based on our contract of employment and superannuation and the Government has

given itself the right to unilaterally override these. Since “legitimate expectations,” while real, are weaker in law than contracts, it has given itself the right to unilaterally override these too. It is interesting that in spite of this the Government does not feel it has the right to override the contracts of bankers who claim bonuses that their employers, the same banks the Government supposedly now controls, cannot afford. Perhaps a case will eventually be taken to in relation to these contracts but is the Government likely to take such a case for a few million Euro since losing it could require it to repay our pension cuts too?

The legal advice indicates that under the Constitution we do have an “ownership” right over our “deferred salary” but that the Government can override this to protect the Common Good provided the implementation of this action is “proportionate.” The argument that it has already cut pay levels of workers would support this justification. Does this mean it can cut our pension again? Perhaps not - see elsewhere in this newsletter!

Concerns Regarding Pensions of Our Serving Colleagues

The Government decided to reduce the “tax-free” status of pension contributions of currently serving public service workers, including teachers as well as workers in the private sector. Up to now pension contributions were “income tax-free,” and for teachers, usually at the higher rate. The payout of pension is taxed but for teachers this was usually at the lower rate due to the modest size of our pensions. The recent budget changes reduce the value of the pension scheme to serving public service workers, including serving teachers and this is regrettable. These changes will be even worse for public service workers than private sector workers because public service workers also pay the extra tax called the “pension levy” and while this too was free of additional income tax this will no longer be the case. The impact of the reduction of the “tax-free” status for both pension contributions and the “pension levy,” combined with the recent cut in pensions that already affects retired teachers means that the pensions of serving teachers are now much worse value for money than in our day as serving teachers.

The Government intends that all new entrants to the public service from this year will receive even less at payout - indeed less than they contribute when working (as highlighted in the Trident Report commissioned by the three teacher unions) - which may well be illegal. Their pensions are to be based on their “career average” earnings rather than on final salary and their contributions are not to be allowed to “improve” in value as they would, for example, if they were used to buy An Post Savings Certificates. Instead they will be held at face value for years using the Consumer Price Index despite the fact that the Government has the use of these teachers’ money and the teachers are deprived of it for up to 40 years. This

seems extraordinarily unjust. Other pension providers will be able to provide better terms than this and this raises another legal issue - whether the Government has a right, under European competition and monopoly law, to compel teachers to participate in a pension scheme when other schemes offer better value for money.

While these draconian cuts would affect all public service workers they would affect teachers worse than any other group!  Since teachers have such a long salary scale and spend many more years than others in the lower levels of this scale, their career average earnings are lower than those of others who finish on similar levels of pay. In this respect, in implementing the envisaged pensions changes the Government is discriminating against teachers when compared with other public service workers. This is unacceptable!

Employee Assistance Service extended to Retired Teachers

Our last RSTA President, Marie Doyle has been in ongoing correspondence with the Department of Education and Skills in recent months in relation to the possibility of extending the Employee Assistance Service that is available to teachers so it would also be available for a period to newly retired teachers.  A recent reply from the Occupational Health section of the D.E.S. states:  "I am pleased to inform you that following discussions with the Employee Assistance Service provider it has been agreed to extend access to the service, with immediate effect, to retired teachers for up to 6 months post retirement."  This service will be available to teachers who retire at the end of this school year and in following years.

The following, taken from the home page of the Civil Service Employee Assistance Service website indicates the kind of service that is available to employees and now to retirees, if applicable, for six months.

Key Features of the CSEAS        

The Civil Service Employee Assistance Service (CSEAS) provides an internal Employee Assistance Programme to serving and retired Civil Servants.

The service is a work-based professional service, which is designed to assist employees manage/resolve work-related and personal difficulties which, if left unattended may adversely affect attendance, work performance and quality of life.

In recognition of the valued service given by employees to the Civil Service, the CSEAS is also available to retired staff.

Key features of the CSEAS are

 * Problem Assessment and Counselling/Referral service for staff

 * Advisory service for managers/supervisors

 * Information Resource

 * Raising Health Awareness

CSEAS staff work to a code of practice and are members of the Employee Assistance Professionals Association of Ireland (EAPA Irl).

Professional standards apply in relation to confidentiality.

Further details of this service are available at http://cseas.gov.ie/key-features/

An Opinion - Should We Have To Pay For European Mistakes?

Neither retired teachers nor ordinary Irish workers caused the economic collapse.  The ECB itself, by insisting on a low interest rate to keep inflation low and thereby support the German economy in particular, bears a lot of responsibility for the financial crisis.  When cash rich, mainly European financial institutions recklessly poured money into unregulated Irish banks for "a quick buck" where was the ECB?  When these banks recklessly poured this money into a small number of unregulated Irish building/development companies where was the ECB?  When these companies recklessly poured this money into the hands of landowners all over Ireland, more than their land was ever worth, where was the ECB?  When these companies recklessly continued to build houses with borrowed money though many remained unsold, where was the ECB?  The damage was now done and the people of Ireland had done nothing!  Financial anarchy prevailed as interest rates remained low.  And where was the ECB?  Then, with the help an ill-fated Government decision made under cover of darkness that continues, for now at least, to save the blushes of the ECB, the fields of unsold houses seeded with squandered European money became the "killing fields" of the future of Ireland.  If this money should ever be repaid (which is debatable) it is not just the responsibility of people of Ireland but also of Europe and the ECB.

Honest assessors of the situation claim that Ireland simply cannot pay the colossal burden of bank debt as well as its sovereign debt - approximately €250bn. in total - so what can be done?  There are actually at least two other options.  One would be to tax all of the wealthy Irish elite who made a "killing" during the ten years of madness and impose a temporary higher rate of tax on other Irish high earners who benefited from the "Celtic Tiger."  The Government refuses to do this!  A second option would be to spread the burden of the Greek, Portuguese and Irish bailout debts among the 100 million workers in Europe, at an average cost of just €1.00 per worker per day, for ten years.  This, while unfair in principle, would be relatively painless and less unfair and more equitable than a fifty times larger, impossible burden of bank debt foisted on just over two million innocent Irish workers and pensioners including retired teachers.  Acceptance of this would also show real worker solidarity across Europe while possibly saving the Euro.  The E.U. refuses to do this!

If Irish taxpayers cannot pay the bank debt, European banks, even if they initially have to write off some debt, will get their money back over the following years through increased bank charges, higher interest rates, higher levels of business or some other device.  This, after all, is what banks do.  If this happens people across Europe will end up paying anyway. So why just subject generations of Irish workers including teachers, and pensioners including retired teachers, to this millstone of debt.  There are other, fairer ways!  

WHAT MEMBERS MAY NEED TO KNOW

TO PROTECT THEMSELVES OR THEIR RELATIVES OR FRIENDS

FROM ABUSE OVER THE INTERNET

1.    Be careful, be respectful, the Internet is forever:

(a)    Always protect your Name, Identity and Reputation.  Remember (i) that the Internet is a public forum and (ii) that what you post online can never be fully deleted and will never go away.  Be careful not to post online any material about yourself or others that you, or they, may regret in the future.

(b)    Always be respectful to others when "posting material online."  You would not like others to be disrespectful in what they post online about you.

(c)     The Internet is a useful invention but people can use it to abuse others.  This can be very upsetting, especially if it (incorrectly) seems that nothing can be done to stop it.

(d)    Abuse over the Internet can be stopped.  On the Internet you are not anonymous.  Your Internet service provider can identify your computer and therefore can trace the source of online abuse to another computer when requested by the Gardaí.

2.   If you are a victim of abuse do not respond but keep the evidence:

(a)  Never reply to online abuse or harassment.  If you respond the other person knows you are upset and is likely to keep doing it for that reason.  There are other ways to deal with abuse that put you in control rather than the abuser.

(b)  Put yourself in control.  Store or print out any abusive material that comes to you, even though it is upsetting.  Keep it as evidence.  Then . . .

3.   Avoid becoming a victim of abuse on a social networking site, e.g. Facebook:

When you first sign up to Facebook protect yourself as follows:

(a)  Skip the options offered when you sign up, ("Add Friends," "Find Friends," Profile Information" and "Profile Picture,").  Set your privacy settings first!

(b)  Click on "Account" and then on "Privacy Settings" and then on "Customise Settings."

(c)  Set all the "Things I Share" to "Friends Only" and untick the box for "Include Me in 'People Here Now' after I check in."

(d)  Set the "Things Others Share" to "Friends Only" and disable "Friends Can Check Me Into Places."

(e)  For each item of "Contact Information" select "Customise and then select "Only Me."

(f)   Go back to "Privacy," go into "Applications and Websites," go to "Edit your settings" and set your "Game and Application Activity" to "Friends Only," then untick all the boxes for "Information accessible through your friends" and the "Instant Personalisation" and "Public Search" sections.

(g)  Go back to "Privacy," go into "Block Lists," click on "Edit your Lists" and you can block any person from contacting you or seeing your information.

(h)  Now you are in a position to add any friends and information you wish but do this carefully.  Your current friends may not always be your friends.  Do not share personal information or photographs except with your most trusted friends.

If you are having a problem with unwelcome or abusive comments or other material deal with it as follows:

(a)    Click on the "Report/Block User" link below any information posted on the site e.g. a picture.

(b)    You will be switched to a forum where you can block the user, specify the type of abuse and make a detailed report that will be used to bring the abuse to an end.

Other Social Networking sites also have privacy and safety settings.  These should be carefully set to limit what you can share and with whom.

4.   Email:

Do not respond to unwelcome or abusive emails.  However, do not delete them.  Instead, if they do not stop, transfer them to a separate folder so you do not have to look at them and print them out to show the Gardaí.  Then, if the emails continue to come, say, for two weeks, the Gardaí can ask the service provider to trace the sender and then, with the details of what was sent and when, they can deal with the sender.

5.   Webcam:

If your computer has a web-cam video camera attached or built in, keep it covered at all times unless you are using it to communicate with someone, e.g. using Skype.

If you do not do this, there are people who can get access to your computer without your knowledge and watch you and take pictures of you and what you are doing.  They can then change these pictures to make them embarrassing for you and make them public.  To cover the webcam just fold a piece of paper and arrange it so it can be folded down in front of the camera when you are not using it and folded up out of the way when you are.

WHAT OUR BRANCHES HAVE BEEN GETTING UP TO

Two Outings for North Eastern Branch

On September 1st we went north of the border.  We set out by coach at 9.30.am. for the Bronté Interpretive Centre, Rathfriland, Co. Down. It was here that Patrick Bronté, father of Charlotte, Emily and Anne, was born. The Church and School where Patrick taught and preached have been preserved and now include displays about the Bronté Family.  We had lunch in the Golf Links House Restaurant in Newcastle at about 12.30.pm. We then visited Downpatrick Cathedral, the Grave of St. Patrick and Downpatrick Jail. We returned via the coast road with a stop for tea/coffee and finger food at the Carrickdale Hotel and arrived back at Dundalk at about 7.00.pm. after a very pleasant experience.

On May 23rd we gathered for lunch at 12.00 noon at the Cavan Crystal Hotel, Dublin Road, Cavan.  We then went by coach to Enniskillen and had a guided tour of Enniskillen Castle.  Due to stormy conditions a planned boat trip to Devenish Island and its Ancient Abbey on Lough Erne had to be cancelled so we hope to do that on another excursion in September.  We returned to the hotel in Cavan for tea/coffee and finger food before heading home at about 7.30pm.  This was a very enjoyable and informative event.

Mayo Branch Goes North

Members of the Mayo Branch went north recently to visit Belfast and the Giant's Causeway as well as seeing the sights along the way.  The photograph on the back page shows the group in Stormont Castle in the company of Martin McGuinness, Deputy First Minister in the Northern Ireland Assembly and Mayo born Minister of Education, Caitríona Ruane.  The group received a very warm welcome in Northern Ireland, which comes as no surprise to other RSTA members who have been there on day trips or other outings over the years.  Since their visit the Mayo Branch has reciprocated by hosting a visit by the NASUWT (Retired) in Mayo.

Trip to Belfast on 16th June

Nuala O'Connor, Eileen Brennan and Aveen Kilduff (National Committee), assisted by the NASUWT Retired (Northern Ireland), organised the following trip to Belfast for 16th June:

·         Train from Connolly at 9.35.am.

·         Met by members of the NASUWT Retired at Belfast Central.

·         Visit to newly-refurbished Ulster Museum, about which we have had very good reports.

·         Lunch and guided tour.

·         Optional visit to nearby Botanic Gardens and Queens University.

Those interested in going please telephone: Aveen Kilduff at 087-6641466, Eileen Brennan at 0868111245 or Nuala O’Connor at 086-8768950.

Pilgrimage

Some members may be interested in the following:

Sheila and Michael Clifford Pilgrimage Accompanied by Spiritual Director

Padua, Assisi, San Giovanni & Pietrelcina Including: Venice & Rome 21st July – 29th July 2011

Coach from Killarney to Dublin Airport with pickup points to be advised.  Vice-versa on return.  Coach transport between pilgrimage sites.  Hotel accommodation each night. Cost: €940 per person (Single supplement: €270)

For details contact Michael Clifford  064-6633712 or 045-861410 michaeleclifford@gmail.com

Northern Irish Retired Teachers Visit

On Thursday, 7th April a joint outing took place for members of the RSTA and the NASUWT Retired (our Northern Irish counterparts).  The trip included a visit to the Glencree Visitor Centre and Powerscourt House.  Members of both groups found this trip very interesting and educational as well as renewing again the friendships built up in recent years through many joint adventures both north and south of the border.  Let's hope we can have many more such events in future years.

"Calamity Jane"

A number of members went north to see the musical "Calamity Jane" in the recently refurbished Belfast Opera House on Friday 18th March at 7.30 pm. Tickets cost £20. The group met for dinner at 5.30.pm. before the show.  All who went agreed that it was a brilliant show and a great outing.  Members who wanted tickets for the musical phoned Nuala O’Connor at 01-2980819 or mobile 086-8768950 and Nuala arranged it.

Trip to Fuengirola

Elsewhere in this newsletter you will find details of a holiday in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol in Spain you might like to consider.  If you intend to go on this holiday bring plenty of sun protection.

"Free Travel" in Northern Ireland

For future reference, members should note that those who are eligible for the "free travel" in the Republic can fill in a form at the Railway station that enables them to avail of free travel in Northern Ireland too. Please note that this facility is not available at the time of booking if you book online but you can claim a refund for online payment costs if you ask within a certain timeframe.  Please contact Iarnród Éireann for details.

Questions In Relation To Disguised Pension Cut

The method of applying the recent public service pension cut has proved very confusing and worrying for our members and on that basis alone is worthy of closer examination.

Section 4.7 of the Four Year Recovery Plan states: "The Government has therefore decided on a reduction . . . in the annual cost of public service pensions . . ."  Chapter 6 of the Budget 2011 speech states: " . . . Legislation to provide for this reduction will be brought before the Oireachtas . . ." (our emphases).

But since the cut was imposed pension slips show the gross pension unchanged and instead an apparent deduction of the amount in question.  Why?  This strange presentation of the pension cut led to close scrutiny of what had really taken place.  Already, three serious legal questions have arisen in relation to it:

·  Did the reduction involve breach of contract by the Government because the gross pension is now less than was agreed between the pensioner and the Government at the time of retirement?

·  Was it legal for the Government unilaterally change the terms of a pension arrangement previously agreed between it and the pensioner?

·  Do pensioners have ownership rights over pension contributions since they are "deferred salary," contributed over a lifetime and held in trust by the Government until retirement?

Second hand legal advice from another union that suggested that the Government could reduce retired teachers' pensions at will, on the basis that in the past it agreed from time to time to improve pension arrangements, was ultimately discredited.  Both parties had agreed to these past improvements and two parties can agree to replace an old contract with a better one.  However, that did not give one party the right to unilaterally impose a worse arrangement against the wishes of the other.  Whatever was asked when the second-hand advice was being sought, it clearly did not include the key questions raised above.

For better or worse, these questions have now been answered thanks to legal advice sought by the ASTI and others (see elsewhere in this newsletter) but the manner of recording the cut in pension on the pension slips of members still raises questions.

Did the Minister of the day feel legally unsafe imposing the pension cut and legally vulnerable presenting it as a reduction? (In other words, did he doubt whether his emergency legislation was sufficient to override normal legislation in relation to contracts of employment and superannuation?)  Is this why the pension slips show an apparent deduction rather than a reduction?  An inquiry to the Revenue Commissioners verified that the retired teacher is now taxed, not on the gross pension shown at the top of the pension slip but on that minus the apparent deduction - on what is shown at the bottom of the pension slip as the "taxable gross."  Since a person is always taxed on gross pension, this "taxable gross" (the original gross minus the apparent deduction) is now the real, effective, reduced gross. The pension has in fact suffered a reduction.  Why, then would the Minister of the day feel he had to disguise this?  It seems it was a deliberate ploy rather than some kind of computer limitation because not only do our pension slips show the reduction in this way but so do pension slips issued from at least some VECs?  It seems the cut was policy but did the Minister doubt its legality?

Could such a doubt explain why, when the Government cut the pay of all public service workers including serving teachers by 6% (as well as imposing the infamous "pension levy") over a year ago it did not cut our pensions accordingly?  Naturally, we were worried at the time about a deliberate breach of pension parity but what if it was not this so much as a concern on the part of the then Minister that until the most recent emergency legislation was enacted he could have been acting illegally?  Is it now possible that after 28th February 2012, when serving teachers' pensions are once again to be based on half the maximum salary (which has been cut by 6%) of serving teachers our pensions will be cut by an additional 2% to match?

The biggest worry for our members arising from the Government move to unilaterally cut pensions is not the amount taken (though this is very serious for retired teachers, especially those on reduced pensions because they were unable to continue teaching for forty years due to child-rearing, illness or other factors).  The biggest worry is that if this cut is deemed legal the Government could cut our pensions again!  And again!  Naturally, members are very concerned that the Government might decide to do this.  (But see elsewhere in this newsletter for reasons why this may be less likely to happen after all).

EMAIL ADDRESSES AND MOBILE PHONE NUMBERS

If we had a comprehensive list of email addresses and mobile phone numbers of our members we would be able to contact members at short notice.  This could be very useful at a time when our pensions are being cut and our teaching colleagues are being forced to pay more and more for a smaller and smaller pension.  To give one example, together we could respond more quickly to negative "spin" and criticism of serving and retired public service workers, including teachers, in national newspapers.

Did you join the RSTA before November 2010?  If so, and if you have an email address will you please send an email message to Seán Fallon, RSTA Secretary at fallonsfamily@eircom.net with your Name, Branch, Phone Number and Mobile Phone Number for our database.  Please put the word "Database" at the top of the email in the "Subject" line as this will make it easier to identify and manage.  Thank you.

Pension Cuts Revisited - The Medical Card

Already, the outgoing Government cut our pensions when it chose to call our well signalled pension Reduction "Public Service Pen" and located it on our pension slips on the right hand side with other Deductions.  This was a very interesting move by the Government.  Since the cut is not shown on the Gross pension shown on the left side of the pension slip, (which may be illegal were it not for recent emergency legislation - see elsewhere in this newsletter) we are given the impression that we are still taxed on that Gross.  However, the cut has been taken from the Gross shown and we are only taxed on the "taxable gross" shown at the bottom of the pension slip.  So our pension is actually "reduced."

Because of the real "Reduction" in pension there may be some members who have become entitled to a medical card but may not realise it because of the unorthodox presentation of the cut, showing it as a "Deduction" while the Gross shown remains unchanged.  This may be worth checking.  If in doubt, contact the very helpful staff in your local Revenue office.

Possible Silver Lining to Ominous Dark Cloud of Pension Cuts

In the absence of a pension fund for our public service pension contributions, these are held in trust for us by the Government of the day until we retire. For as long as the Government holds this money it can invest it in Ireland, using it to pay social welfare payments or children’s allowances, fund infrastructure improvements, pay current public service pensions and the like. The Government has the use of this money (for up to 40 years) until the time when a public service worker retires, at which time the pension payout falls due and must be paid. This is what is known as a “pay as you go” pension system. The Government currently profits from an excess of public service pension contributions over pension payout by about €500m per year. It made a profit of about €5bn in today’s terms from secondary teachers’ pension contributions in the last thirty years

Recent legal advice suggests that under the Constitution retired teachers and other public service workers do have “ownership” rights in relation to our pension contributions, our “deferred salary.” That the Government saw fit to cut our pensions, to unilaterally withhold some of our “deferred salary” for other purposes and give retired teachers and other public service workers less than the agreed amount in their pensions, is therefore an extraordinary move. According to the legal advice this would, in normal circumstances, be a breach of our “ownership” rights as enshrined in the Constitution. However, in view of the difficult economic circumstances in which Ireland finds itself and the difficult financial situation in which the Government finds itself the legal advice suggests that the Government could be justified in trying to protect the Common Good by the use of this extreme measure. In other words, in the Courts the “Common Good” (of all the people of Ireland) would get higher priority than “ownership” rights of a particular segment of the people of Ireland, namely retired teachers and other public service workers.

This pension cut has generated a lot of anger and worry among members. However, the possibility of the Government repeating the process if it thinks it needs to do so is a cause of great anxiety and fear among members. What is our pension worth if the Government can reduce it at will? Will we be able to cope financially next year? For members on reduced pensions due to a shorter teaching career (e.g. because of child-rearing or the old ban on married women teaching, while it lasted) this worry is likely to be even greater.

There may yet be a silver lining to this particularly ominous cloud. To explain, let us compare our Government’s situation with the following: A man knows that his neighbour has savings hidden on his property so he sneaks in and takes €1000. He admits doing this but says he needed the money and has since spent it so it is gone. In court the judge tells him that because his neighbour was the rightful owner of the money he owes it to him and must pay it back!  Because he has not got the money the judge agrees that he can make an arrangement to repay it, for example, over a period of time or at a later agreed time, with interest. The fact that he does not have it does not mean he does not owe it. The debt still stands!

Compare this with the situation in which the Government now finds itself? It owes us our “deferred salary” but has decided that it cannot pay us the full amount. This does not mean that it does not owe it to us. Legal advice suggests that it may be justified in not paying us if it is deemed necessary to withhold payment in order to protect the Common Good, but it does not say that it is justified in not paying us, ever! Surely our “ownership” right under the Constitution does not disappear just because the Government says it cannot or will not pay us now? Is it not our “deferred salary” still? If necessary, instead of paying now, the Government can seek to make a different arrangement with us, e.g. to defer payments or pay the current shortfall later. It seems logical and fair that if we have ownership of the money and the Government withholds it, it must pay it back when it no longer needs it to protect the Common Good! If this is true, has the Government not simply (unilaterally) taken a loan from us, which it must repay in due course? If this is true, perhaps the Government will be less likely to cut our pensions further in the future, adding to its debt to us.

The issue of ownership of our “deferred salary” only arose because the Government broke pension parity by cutting the salaries of serving teachers and other public service workers while leaving the pensions of their retired counterparts  untouched in 2009. It will be interesting to see whether, after 28th February 2012, it decides to cut our pensions by another 2%, to match our pensions with the pensions of those who retire after that date and with the cut final salaries of serving colleagues. A cut of 2% would be very painful for our members but there are many in the RSTA who, in the long run, would prefer the security as well as the solidarity of having pension parity restored rather than going it alone, even at that price.

RSTA AGM

Address by President, Marie Doyle

At our AGM on May 4th Marie Doyle, in her President’s Address, made the following points:

• The RSTA has been busy fulfilling its objectives - (a) encouraging the arrangement of social events by Branches for their members (please send reports of these to the Secretary for our website and newsletters) and (b) trying to deal with the ongoing threat to our pensions.

• There is a lot of misinformation out there about retired public service workers and our pensions and it is hard to counter this when newspapers are biased.  It is as if our issues are less important to them and they want our point of view airbrushed out of people’s consciousness.

• There is an anomaly whereby emergency legislation can enable the Government to cut our pensions but not the bonuses of employees of its own banks. Many members want this challenged.

• The disguising of the pension reduction so it looks like a deduction may have an impact on members’ entitlement to medical card or other benefits and members need to check this with Revenue.

• One education correspondent alleged that ASTI General Secretary, Mr. Pat King intended to “shake up” older (Emeritus) ASTI members. There was also a rumour circulating at the ASTI Convention that Emeritus members might have to pay a fee for membership. Let’s hope neither of these is true.

• The debate about retired teachers taking substitute work in schools was discussed at the ASTI Convention again. If a retired member needs the work s/he should not be prevented from doing it and to do so would be illegal on the grounds of ageism. However, the RSTA discourages retired teachers who do not need the work from doing it since young teachers need the work badly.

Marie then thanked the members of the National Committee and the Branch Secretaries and other Branch Officers for their work during the year. She also thanked the ASTI for its ongoing support for the RSTA.

Invited Guests, Christy Conville & Colm O’Cléirigh

Mr. Christy Conville (T.U.I. Retired Members’ Association) told the meeting that teachers were very hurt by the various cuts and by treatment by the Government and in the media. He said we need to work together to defend our pensions. He indicated that the TUI Retired Members Association is working to set up a Branch structure like that of the RSTA and to producing its own newsletters as the RSTA does.

Mr. Colm O’Cléirigh (I.F.U.T. Retired) complimented outgoing President Marie Doyle with whom he was proud to work on the ICTU Retired Workers’ Committee. He said I.F.U.T. had not signed up to the Croke Park proposal because hundreds of his Federation’s well qualified members are kept on non-permanent, part time contracts with low pay and no pension provision. In times past staff and students in Universities pursued ideals such as truth, knowledge and understanding.  Now we have CEOs in charge and students are treated like clients. This is a trend that will do nobody any good in the long run. We need each other’s support to defend ourselves and our serving colleagues.

Invited Guest, ASTI General Secretary Pat King

Mr. King welcomed us to Tomás McDonagh House, which we “bought” through subscriptions over the years. He

acknowledged that in the past, we as ASTI members had fought the good fight for better pay and conditions. As we now

face very difficult times the RSTA and the ASTI share many common interests. For example, the ASTI got legal advice

regarding the pension cuts after the RSTA requested it. Unfortunately that advice suggests that through its emergency

legislation the Government can almost “do what it chooses” now. In the face of this, organising and working together offers

the best way forward. He suggested that a more formal relationship between the RSTA and the ASTI might be worthwhile.

At the end of the meeting Mr. King pointed out that a newspaper suggestion about his alleged “intentions” in relation to

older ASTI members was a complete misquote and that, had it been true he would have been guilty of breach of equality

legislation. He said that the Convention motion on ASTI Emeritus members had been badly put and that there was no

plan to introduce a subscription for Emeritus members. While it does seem inappropriate to some that retired teachers

have a vote on serving teachers conditions of work it seems very appropriate that retired members serve on some ASTI

committees, These issues merit further discussion, to which he is amenable.

Treasurer’s Report

The RSTA has 1147 members in 16 branches around Ireland. This is likely to increase significantly between now and the

end of February 2012 and this would be welcome. RSTA members pay an annual subscription of €24.00, with two thirds

of this returned to branches to be used to help fund branch activities.

Treasurer, Muriel McNicholas (Mayo Branch) has been working to improve efficiency and transparency in our financial

operations. Our new application forms (available to download at www.rsta-ireland.com) are easier to process and we now

use standardised forms for branch accounts.

The RSTA is proactively working to formalise arrangements for payment of travelling expenses so that while there will be

rigorous accountability there will be no financial cost for representatives working on behalf of the RSTA. New proposals

will be applied to the National Committee on a trial basis this year.

RSTA AGM : Secretary's Report on the Year's Work

Meetings

Since last year's AGM the National Committee met formally four times, June 1st, September 22nd, January 25th and March 9th.  Issues we addressed at these meetings included:

·         Supporting the ASTI in defending our pensions and the pensions of its current members.  Since the RSTA has no negotiating licence we are happy to give the ASTI all the support and encouragement we can in relation to pensions.

·         Increasing RSTA membership.

·         Improving communication with members by:

(i)            upgrading our website - ongoing,

(ii)           gathering email addresses and mobile phone numbers of members - ongoing,

(iii)          improving the RSTA Newsletter, ongoing.

·         Devising an appropriate RSTA Logo - ongoing.

Correspondence

During the year we corresponded with the following:

·         With the ASTI General Secretary and Standing Committee in relation to seeking legal advice on aspects of the recent pension cuts namely the issue of possible breach of contract between the Government and retired public service workers and the issue of ownership of "deferred salary."  The ASTI got this legal advice (see elsewhere in this newsletter).

·         With the Irish Senior Citizens' Parliament in relation to affiliation fees.  The ISCP has offered a more acceptable range of affiliation fee arrangements.

·         With the RTAI and TUI Retired on co-operation in defending members against pension cuts.

·         With the retired FÁS workers in SIPTU on co-operation among retired workers.

·         With the Minister for Finance regarding the anomaly whereby recipients of the State Old Age Pension are exempt from the Universal Social Charge but some retired public service workers on similar low levels of pension are not.  The low pension may be due to years out of teaching due to child rearing or being forced to leave work when getting married.  Some of our members are in this category.

·         With newspapers, on the issue of public service pension cuts and related matters - only some were published.

·         With RSTA Branches asking for details of activities organised for members - thanks to Branch Secretaries for sending us their accounts of enjoyable and imaginative events which can inspire other branches to do likewise.

·         With the Department of Education and Skills in relation to the Employee Assistance Service (see elsewhere in this newsletter).  The outcome is that this service is now extended to the first six months of retirement.

National Committee Members' Wider Involvement on Behalf of Members

·         We have one National Committee member (Catherine McHugh) who is also on the committee of the National Federation of Pensioners Associations, which meets regularly.

·         We had one member (Seán Fallon) attend and contribute to the debate at the Seminar organised by the three teacher unions in relation to pension cuts in University of Limerick and at least one member attended the Galway Seminar (Carmel Heneghan).

·         We had three members (Marie Doyle, Louis O'Flaherty and Seán Fallon) attend the Older and Bolder seminar where it launched its response to the Government's National Pensions Framework and contribute to the discussion there.

·         Two members (Marie Doyle and Louis O'Flaherty) attended the Pensions Symposium organised by the three teacher unions earlier this year in the Gresham Hotel in Dublin.

·         Two members (Marie Doyle and Seán Fallon) attended a meeting of the three teacher unions' retired members' associations, hosted by the RTAI, to discuss resistance to the pension cuts.

·         Three of our members (Denis O'Boyle, Mayo, Michael Moriarty, and Seán Fallon) are members of the ASTI Pensions Sub-Committee, which met five times in the last year and played an important role in organising the Trident Report to strengthen our defence of our pensions.  They also attended the briefing about the Trident Report by the consultants who prepared it for the three teacher unions in Portlaoise.

·         One member (Seán Fallon) visited Waterford, Limerick and Galway Branches to outline for branch members the situation regarding the pension cuts and the threats to pensions that have now, unfortunately been implemented.

·         Two members (Marie Doyle and Louis O'Flaherty) are members of General Purposes Committee or the main body of the Retired Workers' Committee of the I.C.T.U. and attended its meetings during the year.  This led to our President, Marie Doyle addressing protesters at the huge November ICTU Dublin protest march.  This she did with distinction and she appeared on national television as a result.                                            Contd.>

·         We had three members (Catherine McHugh, Marie Doyle and Seán Fallon) attend the Irish Senior Citizens' Parliament AGM.

·         One of our members (Seán Fallon) corrected serious errors in relation to public service pensions, broadcast on Newstalk radio in March.  The points that public service workers always paid for their pensions and that their pension contributions currently exceed the pension payout by €0.5bn per year needed to be made due to incorrect/incomplete information the previous day.

·         Four members who are also ASTI members (Marie Doyle, Louis O'Flaherty, Dan Healy and Seán Fallon) distributed copies of our last Newsletter outside the ASTI Annual Convention in Cork.  This was the Newsletter in which the issues of the attack on our pensions and the position of Emeritus members in the ASTI were dealt with and both of these issues were on the Convention agenda.  Our position on these issues received a lot of support at the Convention but the motion in relation to Emeritus Members was withdrawn on the day.  Delegates intending to retire are now aware of the existence of the RSTA.

·         Two of our members (Marie Doyle and Louis O'Flaherty) were invited to address the ASTI Convention.

Publications

·         We contributed material to five issues of ASTIR.

·         We published three issues of our Newsletter.  Here we addressed the issue of pension cuts as well as highlighting the more social activities of RSTA Branches.  Our thanks are due to the Branches who sent us in details of their activities.  If your branch organised any event since Christmas please let us know.

Social Events

·         Our members (Marie Doyle and Seán Fallon) attended just a few Christmas/Winter lunches due to cancellations caused by the inclement weather conditions.

·         We had two representatives (Eileen Brennan and Seán Fallon) attend the NASUWT (Retired) 15th anniversary dinner in Belfast and we had groups of members visit Northern Ireland for events on the invitation of the NASUWT (Retired).  We also had members attend a show in the Opera House in Belfast and another trip to Belfast is in the pipeline for June (see elsewhere in this newsletter).

·         Nuala O'Connor assisted by other members of the National Committee organised a number of events to which members of the NASUWT (Retired) were invited e.g. the visit to Kilkenny hosted by the Kilkenny Branch and the recent tour of Glencree and Powerscourt. The same retired teachers' group recently visited the west of Ireland, hosted by the Mayo Branch.

RSTA AGM - Elections To National Committee

The elections to the National Committee took place and the new committee is:

President:                     Henry Collins, from the recently formed Waterford Branch.

Vice President:              Seán Geraghty.

Secretary:                     Seán Fallon.

Treasurer:                      Muriel McNicholas.

Ex-Officio:                    Marie Doyle, Immediate Past President.

Committee Members:    Eileen Brennan.

Carmel Heneghan.

Catherine McHugh.

Aveen Kilduff.

Nuala O’Connor.

Sarah Scott.

Sincere thanks to the outgoing committee and particularly Marie Doyle, outgoing President, who worked so hard and represented us so well at every level and in every forum. Hers will be a hard act indeed to follow. Congratulations to Henry Collins, our new President. Good luck to the new committee in all it undertakes on behalf of members. Let us hope the coming year will be adventurous and enjoyable as well as otherwise fruitful.

RSTA AGM - Motions

The following motions were adopted at the AGM.

1. “That the RSTA does all in its power to reverse the apparently illegal pension cut.” (Donegal Branch). When this motion was being proposed the proposer acknowledged that in view of all the work already being done the motion was almost superfluous.

2. “That our deep dismay be conveyed in the strongest terms to the President of ASTI at the Standing Committee proposal to restrict further the privileges of Emeritus Membership in ASTI.” (Waterford Branch). In proposing this motion the high level of ongoing practical co-operation between the RSTA and the ASTI was acknowledged.

3. “That the National Committee be asked to consider revising the Rules of RSTA to reflect the growing number of branches in the Association and facilitate the integration of the branches in the structures of the national organisation.” (Waterford Branch). Since there was a recent review of the Rules of the RSTA (2009) this was not considered an urgent issue but benefit could come from it.

One Law for One Group and Another Law for Another

Joe Higgins, T.D. (United Left Alliance) complained in Dáil Éireann that the contracts of "porters, cleaners and teachers" in the public service could be overridden by the Government's emergency legislation but that apparently bonus contracts of banks it controls could not.  His comment calls into question legal advice that the emergency legislation authorises the Government to override contract legislation.  It is interesting that the Government does not appear to want to challenge this in court for a few million Euro.  If it lost such a case it may not only have to authorise the payment of the bank bonuses but also the repayment of public service pension cuts which would cost a lot more.  This "one law for one group and another law for another" does not foster solidarity but further facilitates a divide and conquer approach by Governments.

Solidarity with Private Sector Workers on Pension-Savings Cut

The new cut in private pension savings, implemented while this newsletter is going to print, will receive a sympathetic response from many serving and retired public service workers.  Having taken a serious pension cut ourselves we know how upset the targeted workers and their families must feel.  Many of these savers, possibly including some of our own members trying to supplement our modest or even reduced pensions, may have already endured significant losses due to the recent collapse of share prices.  In view of this, the cut seems very unfair.  However, this cut may be vulnerable to the same legal criticism as our own pension cut - some workers may, under the Constitution, have "ownership" rights to these savings.  They may be entitled, as we hope to be in the case of our pension cut, to a full refund in due course.  Perhaps legal experts will be asked to examine this possibility on behalf of savers in the coming days and weeks?

Sharing Interests or Information

Have you any specialist knowledge in any of the following areas that you think might be useful for retired colleagues?  If so, would like to share them through our newsletter?

·   Nutrition/Diet/Food-Intolerance/Allergies:  Did you know that a lot of people have intolerance for certain food-types, particularly dairy products?  Some people who have opted to avoid these foods are much healthier as a result.  Can you share any information about food intolerance with other RSTA members who may not know they are affected?

·   Gentle Fitness/Ballroom Dancing/Golf:   We have had several inquiries from members about golf.  We do not have any formal structure for the golf players among our members to play together.  However, if any branch has 4 or more members who are interested in playing a tournament with members from other branches perhaps we could put them in touch with the other branches and "let them at it."  Please send us the name, phone and mobile number and (if possible) contact email address of an interested contact person from your branch as well as the number of players in your branch who want to take part.  Then we'll see if we can put you in touch with the contact people from other branches.

·   Travel/Places Worth Visiting:  If you know of a place near where you live that members might like to visit for a day or a one-day itinerary you think members might like to take part in (e.g. samples from North East Branch in this issue), please send us the details for a future newsletter.

·   Health/Medical Cards:  The recent pension reduction may entitle a small number of members to a medical card even though it may not be obvious because the gross pension on the top of the pension slip is unchanged.  If in doubt, you can check this with Revenue.

·   Useful household gadgets:  If your grip is not as strong as it used to be, do you know that you can buy gadgets to help you open jam jars, beetroot jars and the like more easily.  Many hardware shops stock these so check around.

·   Books/Book Club:  A Branch could organise among its members a book club.  Members of this club could all read the same book during a particular period and then meet to talk about it.  Alternatively they could read different books and then meet and report to other members whether they think what they read is worth reading or buying.

·   Music/Good YouTube performances:  There are some amazing performances on Youtube that members may wish to tell friends about, for example the "Christmas Food Court Flash Mob" of the Halleluia Chorus or "Emerson - Mommy's Nose is Scary!"  Please let us know of any you think are worth sharing.

·   Useful Websites to visit:  There are lots of websites offering for sale aids and gadgets to make life easier for elderly people who are not as mobile or as strong as they used to be. There are also websites that offer information about almost any area of interest to people regardless of age.  If you have any websites to recommend to colleagues for any reason please let us know so we can share the information with members.

·   Tricks/Jokes/puzzles suitable for Grandchildren:  Please send us any tricks/jokes/puzzles to share with members, to share with their grandchildren.

·   Fishing/Gardening/Astronomy:  When you get older you don't have to stop gardening but it may be easier to change the kind of gardening you do.  Less grass to cut and more patio-space can help.  Raised flowerbeds or window boxes involve less stooping but window boxes need more watering.  This can be a problem if you are going away for a while, but garden centres provide various solutions to this so check them out and keep gardening.

Please send us, by email if possible, anything under any of the above headings that you think might be of interest to members and if it is suitable we will try to include it in forthcoming issues.

A Sunshine Holiday/Spanish Adventure for RSTA Members & Friends

Hotel Las Palmeras,**** Fuengirola, Spain,   October 4th — 14th 2011

Options for booking –all prices are for 10-day stay

1.    Booking with Budget Travel, 29-30 Lr. Abbey St, Dublin 4.  Contact person: Pam.

Phone: 01-4350002.          Quotation: BT 116851                                                                                                                                                                                      

     Cost: Room only:   € 513.00 pps.  (i.e. €1,026.00 for twin room).  € 730.00 for single room.

      This includes flights and transfer to hotel.

2.   Booking directly with Las Palmeras Hotel. (Book early to ensure availability).

      Phone: 00-34-952472700.            Website: Google Las Palmeras Hotel, Fuengirola

      Cost: B & B Twin room: €690.00, Single room: € 570.00,   + cost of Flight*

      Suggestion: Book B & B only as there are good inexpensive restaurants in the vicinity.

3.   Best value can be had in the many privately owned rooms in this same hotel.

      These rooms called studios or apartments have cooking facilities and washing machine.

      Cost:          Studio -- suitable for two people -- € 440.00,   + cost of Flight*     

One bedroom Apartment- -suitable for 2 or 3 people -- € 585.00,   + cost of Flight*

These must be booked with the property management agent -- Helen Dicker

Google Helen’s website: dickersonline.com

E-mail:  helen_dicker@yahoo.com  Phone:0034677071629.  (Please mention my name, below).

*Flights:           This is the flight being provided if you book with Budget Travel:

Aer Lingus             October 4th                  Depart Dublin    07.30            Arrive Malaga    11.30

                                    October 14th                Depart Malaga  12.40           Arrive Dublin       14.40

The cost of this flight is part of the Budget Package (as shown above.).

There are other options available for flights.  The best value and most convenient time (March 22nd) seems to be:  Go with Ryanair € 42.00.   Return with Aer Lingus   € 48.50         Total €90.50

October 4th     Ryanair:             Depart Dublin   09.50               Arrive Malaga   13.50

October 14th    Aer Lingus:      Depart Malaga  12.40               Arrive Dublin     14.40

Another Option: Go with Aer Lingus: Depart Dublin 07.30 or 17.45.       Total: €98.00

Transfer to hotel from Malaga airport - this is included in the Budget package. For others—please let me know your arrival time and I will meet you.

There is a direct train service from the airport to Fuengirola (cost less than €3.00). However if you arrive after midnight, take a taxi (about € 40.00)!

I will be taking a more extended holiday and some members may wish to do likewise.  Please get in touch with me if you intend to travel or if you need further information.

Sarah Scott, RSTA Co-ordinator, 3 Portmarnock Grove, Portmarnock, Co Dublin.

Phone: 01-8462088  /  086-4027684.    E-mail   sarcott@eircom.net

Putting Photographs on our Website

Only a small number of digital photographs from RSTA events can be included in our newsletters (by sending them to the secretary at fallonsfamily@eircom.net) but photographs can also be put on our website. If you have good photographs from any of your Branch’s adventures, please send them for inclusion on our website to our RSTA webmaster, Tony Clifford (Cork Branch). His email address is on the website www.rsta-ireland.com. Normal photos should be the equivalent of at least 5 inches (12cm) wide and large group photos at least 10 inches (25cm) wide since photos lose clarity if they have to be enlarged.

Please tell retired teacher friends about our website and your branch activities and show them the photographs. If they like what they hear and see they may decide to join the RSTA. Application forms are available on the website.

Would Any Of Your Friends Like To Join The RSTA?

If you have any retired teacher friends who might like to join the RSTA, why not ask them?  If they want to join all you need to do is go to our website - www.rsta-ireland.ie - or let them do so themselves and download a copy of our application form.  This can then be completed and sent to our National Treasurer, Muriel McNicholas, at the address given on the application form.  They will then be notified when their membership is complete.  They may be happy to know that our fee is nominal at €24.00/year.
A good opportunity to raise this issue with colleagues who retired from your school would be if you meet them at a retirement function for a colleague who is retiring now.  Please keep this in mind.  You could bring your copy of this newsletter along to show them what we do.

Monday, 16 November 2009 00:00

Christmas 2009 RSTA Newsletter

Midland Branch

A meeting was held in Longford on 14th October to officially establish the Midland Branch.

The Officers:

Pat Joe McLoughlin    Chairman

Martina Kelly                Secretary

Rosemary Kiernan      Treasurer       Phone: 043-6686101

Thanks to this new committee and we wish them every success in serving members from the surrounding counties.  The inauguration meeting of the branch will be held on 16 November at 2pm.  The guest speaker will be Marie Doyle, RSTA President.  Venue to be decided. Please contact Rosemary Kiernan for further details.  Ph: 043-6686101 or 087-7589287 .Information about the Christmas lunch will be available at that meeting.  Spread the word among your colleagues.  Details can also be checked on the web: www.rsta-ireland.com

Important Information

Pension Parity

Public Service Pensions Parity is the linkage of the pension of the retired person to the pay of his/her successor.  When a public servant, nurse, teacher or local authority official entered the public service, he or she paid a pension contribution of 6.5%.  This contribution was given on the firm understanding that parity would continue to give a pro-rata increase on retirement in line with increases to serving workers.

Parity in public services pensions has been established since 1969.  Successive Ministers of Finance have affirmed that custom in 1972, 1984, 1986, 1998 and 2004.  Parity however could be now under threat given the recent changes in public sector pay.  If salaries of serving teachers are further deducted in any new fiscal measures, this could lead to a situation where retired teachers are actually earning more than half than their serving colleagues.  This would mean that parity would be broken which would have serious implications for all.

 The continuing interest of our parent union A.S.T.I. however is encouraging.  Emeritus members of A.S.T.I. may attend meetings to help draw attention to the importance of pensions for all members.

Seán Geraghty, Vice-President

Pension Costs for the Public Service Worker

A recently retired ASTI member, Seán Fallon has calculated the true cost of public sector pensions in the following manner


Public service workers pay (and pay dearly) for their pensions. Indeed, the amount they actually pay and the amount of their pay that they have deducted because of the perceived superior quality of their pensions add up to a very large contribution. These are as follows:

1.      Basic contribution of 6.5% of salary per year contributed for 40 years, the current so called "pension levy," a 7.5% per annum pay cut,

2.      The loss of a 3% pay-increase, due since P.C.W. agreement but traded off against an early-retirement scheme since the Government pleaded inability to pay it at the time. The early-retirement scheme has now been withdrawn but without paying the corresponding 3% per annum from then,

3.      A pay limitation of "up to 12%" in the second benchmarking exercise due to the perceived superior quality of public service pensions. For the sake of argument let us say this amounted to an effective pay cut of just 4%.

4.      This means that public service workers' pensions are effectively costing them about 21% of salary now and even before the so-called "pension levy" public service workers' pensions were effectively costing them about 13.5% of salary.

IRISH CONGRESS OF TRADE UNIONS CAMPAIGN.

GET UP STAND UP. We, the members of the RSTA need to show the Government that we want to build a better, fairer society by adding our voices to those protesting. We can also sign up online, wear the stickers, join the rally, and lobby our local T.D.

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Memories are made of this.

An Intensive Experience

Approaching the slipway from the new bypass onto the old road… a sharp turn… change down the gears.  A lorry approaching, a big lorry, negotiating the other half of the dog-leg shaped slipway. We both straighten up, driving towards each other… and then it happens… the trailer jack-knifes, swinging over into my half of the road. Steer to the left to avoid impact. Too late… Bang!

 Darkness…

 Stars…

        In Castlebar hospital, a decision was made to attempt to save my arm even though it had initially appeared that it was beyond saving. And in the process of doing this my blood pressure went so low that saving my life became the priority. I was moved to Galway for further orthopedic and plastic surgery. During the early part of my induced coma I had benign dreams – that my mother was there, stroking my blood-soaked hair, that my brother was there, and also my children, and children they appeared to be even though they are now all adults. I dreamed, with total clarity that I was put on board a military plane and flown to Moscow for surgery and then flown back to Galway.

 It took quite a lot of time and effort on the part of my family, to convince me that this, in particular, hadn’t happened.

       But then I entered into a phase where the dreams were no longer benign. As I drifted in a state of deep unconsciousness and then on to fretful wakefulness and all the stages in between, I experienced depths of dementia and paranoia that were terrifying in their intensity.

In my deep unconscious state I imagined myself to be in a huge cave-like place, the darkness of the concave roof relieved by myriad images of grotesque faces and people who leered and sneered at my helplessness and distress.

These images changed incessantly as they flitted across the darkened sky over my head, always ugly and full of threat. In the background I could hear a constant flow of shrieking music, screaming away in an endless rondo. And far below all this mayhem, was a surging flood of multicoloured viscous evil-smelling liquid through which I had to swim, sometimes submerged and gasping for breath, other times swimming on the surface, but never able to rest, always struggling, always gasping. My broken ribs and collapsed lung, I’m sure, were at the root of my breathing difficulties. But what about all the rest? Was I dead, I asked myself? Was this hell? Had I sinned once too often and was this all I had earned? And would it ever end? Was this to go on for eternity?

       Over the course of the next eight or nine days I was kept under sedation. I may have regained consciousness from time to time because I have some memories of people coming and going.. Each time I returned to near consciousness; my fevered mind took the realities that I could vaguely see around me, and created another version of hell.

 My mind concocted an elaborate scenario in which the hospital and all the staff were not real, rather they were clones created by a mastermind nurse who, for reasons unclear had decided that I would never escape from this surreal, virtual world. In my paranoia, I regarded all the staff as the enemy and I treated them with great suspicion.

       Apart from the dementia of deep unconsciousness and the paranoia of near consciousness a third scenario added to my torment. Hallucinations. I saw things and people who weren’t there. There were cars parked outside the glass door of the room – even though we were on the third floor of the building! Even the glass door didn’t exist! The walls appeared not to be solid. They were made of white translucent gauze-like material behind which I could see sinister figures moving menacingly. One of these was a ferocious looking Samurai character in full armour and carrying a double bladed axe. And most frightening of all, my room and indeed myself had come to the attention of a drunken lout with a head of wild hair and a shaggy beard, who wore a scruffy cowboy suit complete with Stetson hat and high boots. This man, it appeared to me, hung around outside my non-existent glass door, peering in and even trying to push his way into the room. When two nurses went out to usher him away I saw him attack them repeatedly with a pickaxe handle until they were both unconscious and bloody. Imagine my amazement and confusion when they both appeared at my bedside later on, looking neat and tidy in their uniforms!

 As I began to regain consciousness I gradually became aware of the presence of the nurses and of my family members. To my amazement I was told that they had been coming and going for the past week or more. My wife hadn’t left my side most of that time. I tried to tell her about the imagined plot to keep me captive in the hospital. I said goodbye to her and told her that she must leave for fear that they would try to entrap her as well. My awareness of the presence of people, real people, came and went as I slipped back into the surreal world of horror. By opening and closing my eyes I drifted from the world of dementia into the world of paranoia and back again.

I noticed that when I closed my eyes it took about ten seconds for the demons to appear – the same when I opened my eyes.

 So by closing my eyes and counting to nine and then opening them and again counting to nine, I managed to fool the madness and to get some vestige of peace and rest. This device and my wife’s voice gradually convinced me that I could survive after all. I nagged my wife to “keep talking!” because when she stopped the horrors resumed again.

 During one particularly traumatic forty eight hour period about ten days after my accident I became very distressed and depressed. I pulled out all the tubes to which I was attached, totally heedless of the consequences. During this time I had had no sleep, and then, quite suddenly, it all ended. I asked the nurse what time it was. She said it was twelve midnight. What appeared like minutes later she came into the room again and I asked her the same question. “Three o’clock” she said. I realised that I had slept soundly and without nightmares for three hours and I felt marvellous. “Is there any chance that I could have tea and toast for breakfast?” I asked the astonished nurse. “I will get it for you myself before I go off duty at seven” she said. And true to her word she did.

 My recovery has been very good since then even though I did need further surgery on my arm. My experience of delirium, hallucinations and paranoia, I have since learned, is a relatively common one for people in very stressful and traumatic situations which require a heavy drug regime. It is known as ICU Syndrome or ICU Psychosis, a condition which manifests itself in any or all of the experiences that I went through. While it undoubtedly was the most terrifying experience of my life, I now know that it does pass and has to be seen as a small price to pay for the Intensive Care treatment which, in fact, saved my arm and even saved my life.

(Lorcan Leavy, Mayo Branch).  Previously published in The Irish Times Health Supplement, August 4, ‘09

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North East Wonderland.     

As we left the Hill of Faughart going north, our guide, RSTA member Eamon O’ hUallacháin said; “ For the next few hundred metres this road demarcates five boundaries; on our left the townland of Carrickbroad, the Parish of Dromintee, the County of Armagh, the Province of Ulster, and Northern Ireland itself.  On our right the townland of Carrickaneena, the Parish of Faughart, the County of Louth, the Province of Ulster all in the Republic of Ireland.  Not only are we crossing five boundaries but a few miles north is the Black Pig’s Dyke, an ancient gateway to Ulster and just south of us we crossed out of the Pale when we left Dundalk”

This is just a flavour of a stimulating adventure which the North Eastern Branch of RSTA, with guests from Dublin and Belfast, enjoyed on a beautiful sunny Thursday, September 10th. All sixty of us headed north by coach with Castletown Mount, the birthplace of Setanta on our left. We followed the road across Castletown Bridge – Ath na gCarbad (ford of the chariots), the road taken by Queen Maeve and her army.

On Faughart Hill Eamon showed us the Shrine of St. Brigid, the burial place of Edward Bruce and the campsite of the Williamite army in 1690. We moved to South Armagh, to Moyry Castle in the Gap of the North where Aodh O’ Neill engaged Lord Mountjoy and denied the English entry into Ulster in 1600. Next was the magnificent Ring of Gullion, a sixty million years old volcanic crater with its storied villages of Dromintee, Forkhill and Mullaghbane. In our imaginations we climbed Sliabh Gullion with Yeats and Maud Gonne.

After lunch in the Carrickdale Hotel we visited the Dolmen at Proleek with its massive fifty ton capstone. On to Cooley, the Táin Trail and the Long Woman’s Grave – Lug Bhan Fhada – a legendary Spanish Lady lured to Cooley with the prospect of lands and riches only to be tragically disappointed. Down the mountain to Omeath and the sparkling Carlingford Lough with Warrenpoint and Rostrevor on the Down shore. Eamon traced the Danish influences – Carlingford, Greenore and other place names.  

In the capital of the region, the medieval town of Carlingford we stopped and were given a choice; visit King John’s Castle, he of Robin Hood fame, or partake in a fringe event. Most followed Eamon to the Castle but the weaker willed, having made a cursory visit to to the Tholsel, sidled into PJ’s for a beverage.  A few songs were sung on the way back to Dundalk and all dispersed in great good humour.

Unfortunately some RSTA members were disappointed because we were overbooked and couldn’t take them. South Armagh/ North Louth will be revisited, as there is at least as much again to be seen and heard. There’s every chance that Eamon will guide us. Go raibh maith agat arís a Eamon, bhi an turas sin tharr barr

(Art Agnew, North Eastern Branch)

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Recession now – Forget IT

In the summer of 1956 I was conferred with my higher Diploma in Education to add to the B.A. of the previous year.  With the optimism of youth I placed advertisements in the National papers fully expecting to be snapped up by some prestigious school.  However, no headmasters seemed to bite or maybe they were all enjoying their holidays.  Some ads began to turn up in the educational columns of the Irish Independent to which I despatched my C.V. and references.  Nobody bothered to answer.

I put it down to the time.  Secondary teaching posts were the preserve of priests, brothers and nuns with few openings for us lay folk.  Even the larger colleges had only room for one or two non-clerics.

Next I turned to those agencies promising success in appointing teachers, boasting of up to a hundred percent job placement.

The offers began to pour in, all from missionary schools in sub Saharan Africa. A large slice of my earnings would be required by my agents for the next two years.  I became more determined than ever to confine myself to the home market if at all possible.

At last I got a reply to one of my ads.  It was by phone and from a large CBS school in Munster.  The head brother interviewed me on the spot, asking me several pertinent questions which I had to answer off the cuff.

 I was astonished when he told me he was giving me the job, promising to put a confirmation letter in the post that afternoon.  I was to return a form accepting the offer immediately.

Needless to say there was great rejoicing in my family that evening with my first job in the bag and another son off their hands!  Next day, instead of the promised letter, a telegram arrived.  My appointment was cancelled with no explanation other than “Post now Filled”.  Back to square one.

A few days later a letter arrived from the headmaster of a Dublin lay school calling me for an interview at 10.30 am the following morning.  As I lived in Carrick-on-Shannon there were no trains or buses to get me to Dublin as early as that.  I was reluctant to book myself into a hotel or guest house so I took the Carrick means of getting to the capital for an early call.  I arranged a lift in a lorry delivering its daily load of Arigna coal to the Pigeon House.

We left Carrick at 6.30 am and the driver dropped me off at O’Connell Bridge three hours later.  There was just time for a face wash and freshen up in the toilet of the Gresham hotel before a bus to the school.

There I faced a rigorous interview, was told I had the job and signed my acceptance form before I left to get the train home from Westland Row.

At that time teachers had to do a pre-registration year before being fully qualified and eligible for an incremental salary.  If we complained about this to the older teachers they would tell us we were lucky as it took three years pre-registration in their day.  So I started my teaching career on a school pay of £240 per annum - £20 per month to keep myself in ‘digs’ with the balance to sample the joys of city living!

Now that’s what I call a recession.

(Lionel Gallagher, Sligo Branch)

The President of the RSTA, Marie Doyle wishes all members of the Association and their families a Happy and a Peaceful Christmas and good health in 2010

Just a Thought

One kind word can warm three winters

Japanese proverb

Eileen Brennan, Florence House, 54 Florence Road, Bray, Co Wicklow. Tel. 01-2868095

Brendan Duggan, St. Anthony’s, Cummeen, Strandhill, Sligo. Tel.071-9162474 or 087 6495181

Aveen Kilduff, 49 Herbert Park, Bray, Co Wicklow. Tel.01-2760616 or 087 6641466

Teresa McCarthy, 49 Ballinvoher Rd., Fr. Russell Road, Limerick. Tel. 061-424643

Catherine McHugh, 5 Blacquiere Villas, Phibsborough, Dublin 7. Tel. 01 8305646

Nuala O’Connor, 21 The Heights, Ballinteer, Dublin 16. Tel. 01 2980819

Louis O’Flaherty, 43 Lorcan Drive, Santry, Dublin 9. Tel. 01 8426910

Martin Wallace, 31 Lohunda Downs, Dublin 15. Tel. 01 8215557

Medical Cards

We wish to protest at the removal of the automatic entitlement to medical cards for all those over seventy. We regarded the initial announcement as arbitrary and unjust. The subsequent introduction of a means test is divisive and could set a precedent for the denial of existing benefits for the elderly. We would like to make the following points.     

            Government sources have said that fewer than 5% of the over seventies will lose their medical cards under the new means tested scheme. We understand that there are approximately 323,000 over seventies with medical cards. This would mean that 16,150 persons would lose their cards. We further understand that since the beginning of the year the HSE has been paying General Practitioners an annual fee of €308 for all medical card holders over seventy.

This should result in a total cost of less than €5,000,000 per year to compensate doctors for those who are to have their cards removed. It seems like a very small saving for a big injustice.       

The recent imposition of a 1% levy on all incomes and pensions means that those on a pension/income of €36,500 a year are already liable for a charge of €365 per year which is greater than the cost of providing a doctor only medical card. This is in addition to any income tax payable or possible reduction in pension in the future.           

            It seems particularly invidious that current holders of medical cards have to self-incriminate and declare that they are no longer entitled to a benefit which they believed was their right. This smacks of McCarthyism. We understand that applicants for a medical card are assessed on their net income. Why then is gross income used as a criterion for removing a card from those over seventy and particularly from those who are most honest.

            We are concerned about the plight of couples who may qualify for a medical card under the proposed means tested system but if a spouse should die the remaining partner may cease to qualify. This would cause unnecessary hardship to the survivor who may then be required to make a new application for something which they had enjoyed for many years.    

            We believe that the proposal to remove the universal right to a medical card from all those over seventy and to replace it with a means-tested system is unjust and creates a dangerous precedent and is in stark contrast to what happens in Northern Ireland. We further believe that the only fair and honest way to fund a health service is through a properly monitored tax system.

Louis O’Flaherty, Dublin Branch

The Levy

The 2nd Benchmarking Report in 2008 resulted in 300,000 public servants and 100,000 retired public servants receiving a pay award of 0%.

-     This report stated “A discount of up to 12.5% was applied because of pension entitlement”.

-          Because this was not highlighted by the Trade Union movement at the time, the way was left open for the savage attack on our take-home pay which is now being proposed by the Government.

-          The failure by Trade Union leaders to state at every opportunity that public servants pay 6.5% of their salary for pension in addition to the 12.5% above, created the impression in the public mind that Public Servants did not pay anything for their pension.

-          Benchmarking has been shamefully described as the “ATM for Public Servants”. The first Benchmarking Report in 2002 was welcomed by IBEC who said at the time “Benchmarking has brought reality into Public Service pay and has stopped leapfrogging and relativities”.

-          This same Benchmarking process replaced our traditional pay review mechanism.

-          The “Rolls Royce” Public Service pensions referred to by Turlough O’ Sullivan is as follows

Public Service retiree on pension of €500 per week after 40 year’s service does not   get the State Pension of €230 per week. Thus the real additional benefit of the “Rolls Royce”, after working for 40 years, is €270 per week, NOT €500.

Out of this, the pensioner pays VHI, including the levy of €128, and the new 1% income levy (equivalent to €400 per annum).

-          The separation of the link between Public Service pay and pensions, evident again in this proposed levy, must be stopped.

-          Public servants are prepared to take some of the pain of this recession, on an equitable basis, even though we did not receive the gain of the private sector during the Celtic Tiger- large bonuses, company cars, expenses.

-          Many public servants are on temporary contracts. This is not secure employment.

-          It is offensive to Public Servants that the private sector is referred to as “the real economy” by Turlough O’Sullivan. The public sector economy is very real to people who are in hospital, children in schools and people who are rescued by fire-fighters.

THIS INFORMATION MUST BE PUT INTO THE PUBLIC DOMAIN.

WE REFUSE TO ACCEPT THIS UNFAIR LEVY.

WE DEMAND THAT OUR TRADE UNION LEADERS, WHO ARE NOT AFFECTED BY THIS LEVY AS THEY HAVE PRIVATE, NON-CONTRIBUTORY PENSIONS, FIGHT THIS ON OUR BEHALF.

WE DEMAND THAT OUR ELECTED PUBLIC REPRESENTATIVES STOP THIS UNFAIR TREATMENT AND CONCERTED MEDIA CAMPAIGN AGAINST PUBLIC SERVANTS, AND REPRESENT US EQUALLY AND FAIRLY AS THE HARD-WORKING, HONEST, TAX-PAYING CITIZENS THAT WE ARE.

 Branch News Cork 

Humphrey Twomey

Congratulations to Humphrey Twomey, on his informed contribution to the television documentary on the legendary Cork priest, Father O’Flynn who founded the famous amateur theatre company,’ The Loft’. The company devoted itself to producing the works of William Shakespeare.  Humphrey’s life-long interest in the theatre led him to complete a Master’s degree in Theatre Studies in UCC.  He is particularly interested in early twentieth century theatre in Cork city, the Macroom born playwright, T. C. Murray and of course Father O’Flynn.  Humphrey taught for many years in the Sacred Heart College, Carrignavar.  He was a very active member of the A.S.T.I. and the History Teachers’ Association.  Since his retirement he has been a tireless worker in the R.S.T.A. as chairman and treasurer.

Pat Holohan, Cork Branch

Curious and Curiouser

A former Fianna Fáil member Mr. Wolfe is forming a new party, The Seniors’ Solidarity Party, to challenge the Fianna Fáil and Green seats in the Howth/Malahide ward in the forthcoming local election.  He felt that the Government had sledge-hammered the elderly in the budget by taking the medical card away from them.  He is hoping to mobilize the ‘grey vote’ into action.  So far the response locally had been very positive with support coming from places such as Galway and Waterford.  He hopes to run candidates in these counties.

The new party aims to do more than just protest against the medical cards issue and states that it intends to eliminate all discrimination against the retired in all areas of life.  He is in favour of a postal vote for the infirm.

Report on the Extraordinary General Meeting

The EGM, to revise the Constitution, was held in the South Court Hotel, Raheen, Limerick on the 4 February 2009.

The meeting was chaired by the President, Marie Doyle.  Attendance was good despite the bad weather conditions at the time.  Two delegates from the following branches: Dublin, Limerick, Mayo, Sligo and Wicklow represented their respective branches.  Amendments were made to the rules where necessary.  The new draft was ready for the Annual General Meeting in May,2009

Camino

October 8 saw a group of Kildare RSTA members embark on a pilgrimage, the old pilgrimage to the shrine of St James at Santiago in Northern Spain.  The essence of pilgrimage has three aspects - a sacred journey, a sacred place, a sacred goal.  It is always a spiritual experience, and a metaphor for life.  The goal is personal and may also have a group aspect – as in a family making thanksgiving for restoration to health of a loved one.  The length of the journey is not in itself highly important as long as it allows some leaving behind of everyday life and cares.  For the Camino it is principally along the journey that any transformation can take place, that insight is gained, that penance is done (an emphasis peculiar to the Irish??). In our group goals varied from thanksgiving to supplication for a loved one to goals of personal transformation in various ways

We walked 90 km in 5 days – an achievement we were quite proud of.  The pathway or Camino took us mostly through trees and alongside green pastures where the cowbells tinkled.  We did short stints along country roads and through wee hamlets, we only entered big towns to stay there at night.  Very little of the journey brought us in contact with everyday traffic so we could have a truly reflective/contemplative time.

In the towns where we stayed we usually found an evening “pilgrim Mass”, and in one case the pilgrims were all invited up to the alter to receive a special blessing.  Two unusual crucifixes caught our attention – one in Melide had a seated Christ, the other was in a wee church a few miles away and showed Christ holding one pierced hand down to his followers.

There was no shortage of “pit-stops” along the way nor of pilgrim hostels.  I certainly appreciated the luxury of staying in a hotel, in a twin bedroom rather than a large dormitory and of having lots of hot water. For some the privations of hostels seemed more appropriate to the pilgrimage.  We learned the importance of using liberal amounts of Vasaline all over the feet every morning to keep blisters at bay, “Compeed” came efficiently to the rescue if we missed spots.

Reaching Santiago was both a relief, a sense of having reached or goal but also sense of “Ah it is over now”.  We gratefully knelt at the Apostle’s relics and offered him our journey, our thanks and our hopes.  We all felt we had gained much from the pilgrimage, some in very personal ways.  I learned the importance of undertaking a demanding project in the company of someone positive who would not give up, of keeping a rhythm going on a long walk.  Another member felt she got along by virtue of walking with a great talker who kept her distracted from thoughts of distance yet to cover, or of any aches or pains!  I am not the only one bitten by the walking bug – or is it the Camino bug?  Come May I will be back on the Camino with some of my family and am looking forward to it very much.  My walking companion of October has more ambitious plans!  We would all say to anyone who is thinking of doing the Camino “GO AHEAD, you will never regret it.  Buen Camino”.  

Eilis Mc Cormack, Kildare Branch.

A Thought

I shall pass through this world but once.

Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show

To any human being let me do it now.

Let me not defer or neglect it

For I shall not pass this way again.

Anon

Tuesday, 16 March 2010 00:00

Spring 2010 RSTA Newsletter

Greetings to all and a very warm welcome to our new members.

Industrial Dispute

We wish to remind all our members of the current industrial dispute between serving teachers and the Department of Education. We would advise those who may be offered employment in schools to consider whether their acceptance of such work would weaken the action of our working colleagues. A word with the school steward in the relevant school, before taking up employment, should clarify the matter.

(Louis O’Flaherty, Dublin Branch)


Annual General Meeting 2010

The AGM will be held in ASTI House, Winetavern Street on Wednesday 5 May 2010.  Registration will commence at 10.30 am. Light refreshments will be available before the meeting.  Nominations for Officers and Members of the National Committee must be submitted not later than three weeks before the AGM to the National Secretary, Eileen Kelly, 17 Acorn Road, Ballinteer, Dublin 16.  Any motions from the branches should be submitted at the same time.  Branches are advised to encourage members to attend.

Message from the Treasurer re. 2010 Subscriptions

The 78% of members who pay by Mandate or Direct Debit will have their subscription deducted during the year.  Members, who have opted to pay by cheque and have done so, thank you.  Outstanding subscriptions should be submitted immediately so that it will not be necessary to send out reminders.

Please note that the mailing list for Diaries 2011 will be submitted in October and only paid-up members can be included.

Cheques for €24 payable to RSTA should be sent to Sarah Scott, 3 Portmarnock Grove, Portmarnock, Co Dublin

(Sarah Scott, National Treasurer)

Notice to Waterford Members

A branch of RSTA will be set up in Waterford in the near future if a sufficient number of members are interested. Thanks to John Cunningham, Ballygarron, Kilmeaden (051-399897) for acting as coordinator.

Please contact him  and spread the word among your retired colleagues.

A meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 14th at 12 noon in the Woodlands Hotel, Dunmore Rd.

All retired Secondary Teachers in the Waterford area are welcome.

 Unlikely Radicals.

A new book, tracing the history of the ASTI and its contribution to education was launched by Kieran Mulvey, former General Secretary of the ASTI and currently Head of the Labour Relations Commission in the ASTI Head Office on 14 January 2010. The book, written by NUI Galway lecturer Dr. John Cunningham entitled Unlikely Radicals- Irish Post- Primary Teachers and the ASTI, 1909-2009 is a very comprehensive overview of the history of the ASTI up to the present. It is a very welcome addition to the seminal History of the ASTI written by Professor John Coolahan on the occasion of the seventy fifth anniversary of the union in 1984. The latest book includes a detailed analysis of the eventful history of the ASTI over the last twenty five years together with an over-view and a sometimes new perspective on the earlier history.

The book has the rare quality of being academically accurate and at the same time easily readable and should be of considerable interest to all our members who had an active role in the ASTI during their teaching careers. It is published by Cork University Press and is available from all good bookshops priced at €39.

(Louis O’Flaherty, Dublin Branch)


North-South Link

The following are the proposed events

1. RSTA members will travel to Belfast to attend a performance of Beauty and the Beast in the Opera House, on the 25 March 2010 this may necessitate an overnight stay.  Members of the NASUWT (retired) are involved with the production.

2. The return visit is planned for the 13 April 2010 and will include a guided tour of the Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin and lunch there.

3. RSTA members will travel by morning train to Belfast and have a guided tour of the refurbished Ulster Hall and the Linen Hall Library.

4. It is hoped to visit Kilkenny for a mid week break, towards the end of September, with members of the NASUWT (retired) and stay in the Kilkenny Court Hotel.

For further details, contact Nuala O’Connor Tel 2980819 mobile 0868768950

The above events are open to all members of the RSTA.

-------------------------------------------------------

Trip of May 19th 2010. organized by members of the North Eastern Branch

Lunch at 12 noon in the Slieve Russell Hotel, Ballyconnell, Co. Cavan (Leave the N3 at Belturbet and take the N87 for 5 miles).  Please make your own way to the hotel.

Coach tour through Glangevlin to visit Shannon Pot, Moneygashel Megalithic Tomb and the Marble Arch Caves. The scenery through Glangevlin is strikingly beautiful.

Return to the Slieve Russell Hotel via Swanlinbar and Derrynagrieve for tea and finger food.

The tour includes a large section of the new cross border Geo Park of Counties Cavan and Fermanagh.

Cost depends on numbers, estimated around €40. Booking is essential. : Michael Mc Mahon. Tel: 042-9661097. Mobile: 087-7535280.

Email: michaelimc@hotmail.com

Trips Abroad

Oberammergau 2010 includes Vienna, Salzburg& Munich

14th. - 21st September from Cork Airport.  Cost €1,650.  Single room supplement €200.  For further details contact Pat Browne: Ph 021-4294783 or pat.browne@email.com

Killarney Padre Pio Group Pilgrimage to Cassino, San Giovanni Rotondo, Assisi & Rome

23 July 2010 – 8 nights from Dublin Airport  Cost €1,069 pp including tax & charges.

For further details contact Michael and Sheila Clifford Ph 045-861410 /064-6633712 or michaelecclifford@gmail.com

The Last Lesson

As she dashed into Room 7 she wondered what mood would greet her this Friday afternoon.  Pupils of Teaglach Josef were never very enthusiastic about any poem from the old familiar Soundings poetry book which had served many generations of senior scholars.  On numerous occasions se had pondered why- oh why had the Department chosen to include Hopkins sonnets of Desolation on its prescribed list of poems.  Surely not too many students would identify with the poet’s dilemma or Dark Night of the Soul.

Against the low level of chatter she checked the attendance.  Predictably the girls began to open their texts, while the lads were reluctantly extracting their dog-eared texts from untidy satchels, out of which an assortment of pebbles rolled along the aisles.  A withering look from their addled teacher brought an end to this childish behaviour.

And so down to the business of interpretation of this lofty sonnet.  The introductory quotation from Jeremiah seemed to elicit a tiny spark of interest.  ‘Why does the way of the wicked prosper’?  Yet their interest was at best indifferent until they reached the half line.  ’Oh the sots and thralls of lust’.  This gave rise to some questioning regarding the drunkards and slaves of passion.

Imagine Hopkins wrote about such low lives in the 1880s ventured a lone voice from the back of the row.  A more daring image followed, ‘times eunuch’ which the teacher explained as a castrated male.  ‘It must have been sore miss’, suggested another voice.  An explosion of laughter broke the dullness of this somber sonnet.  Even Hopkins would have chuckled thought the beleaguered teacher as the bell mercifully delivered one and all from this morbid contemplation.

(Sarah Conway, Mayo Branch)

They Were Mean to Me, Sir.

No matter how experienced a teacher is one can always be surprised by students.  It is dangerous to jump to conclusions as what might appear to be serious is often innocent and the reverse can also be true.  It is always best to diffuse a situation at an early stage but this calls for alertness and a timely intervention.  A sense of humour helps.

I remember when our excellent Speech and Drama teacher asked me to drop in to her rehearsal for the school musical with a view to assisting her in the blocking of the show.  I sat at the back of the hall as she worked with the cast on stage.  I noticed much agitation from a group of first year boys who had minor parts in the production.  Something was going on and I kept an eye on them.

When their director announced that they could return to class, a plump youth who still had not lost his puppy fat dashed through the stage door pursued by two of his classmates who looked as if they were auditioning for roles as assassins.

I raced out the main door and caught up with the trio on the sports field just as punishment was about to be administered.  To my ‘what’s this all about’, the avenging angels chorused, ‘he was pinching us all through the rehearsal’; to which the stately plump one said ‘they were mean to me, sir’

‘In what way’? I asked.  Before answering, the rescued victim dropped his head and his voice as the tears came to his eyes.  ‘They say I am pregnant and I wouldn’t mind but I’m not.’

(Lionel Gallagher, Sligo Branch)’

 
Catching Bees

No boring days for us, we were always on the go,

Those balmy summer days when eyes did squint,

Against the setting sun,

Where new adventures lay in store,

We went by Biddy’s River – jars in hand,

And cardboard covered caps.

The ‘bulterns’, or by ragwort better known,

Moved gently by the cooling offshore breeze.

With youthful stealth, and childhood innocence,

With ecstatic whoops and shouts of boundless joy,

We captured the ‘red-backed’ bumblebee,

Or the ‘Kilkenny striped’ larger one.

These now ensconced with perfumed woodbine flowers,

White scented clover and ‘rationed’ sugar.

‘Twas our version of the ‘friendly’ beehive.

We watched and waited for the ‘making’ process to begin.

We listened to the drone and hum of captured bees.

We looked and stared – no honey came.

Next day ‘mysteriously’ our honey-bees had gone.

New day – ‘pinkeens’ were now on the agenda.

(Noel Moore, North Eastern Branch)

 

 

Friday, 09 November 2012 16:13

Disclaimer

Disclaimer

Friday, 09 November 2012 16:11

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Friday, 09 November 2012 15:40

About RSTA

RSTA is a voluntary organisation serving retired secondary teachers in Ireland since 1962

Newly retired secondary teachers find in the RSTA an important point of contact with colleagues who have already experienced the change in circumstances of moving from full-time teaching into retirement.Through its network of branches across the country RSTA organises events and travel at home and abroad that enrich the personal lives of members and foster our interest in and commitment to learning.  

The RSTA Newsletter and website are sources of information on areas of public policy relevant to retired teachers.  

The Association liaises with kindred organisations and is a voice specifically to represent retired secondary teachers in the public advocacy of retired people.

The aim of the Association is to promote the wellbeing of retired second level teachers by pursuing the following objectives:

  1. to advance the welfare of retired second level teachers and in particular to protect pension entitlements on the principle of parity with teaching salary, equitable taxation and social protection measures;
  2. to provide a point of social contact for retired second level teachers by facilitating members in sharing their talents and interests, utilising their specialist expertise and working together for the mutual benefit of members;
  3. to disseminate among retired second level teachers information and expert opinion on matters affecting them;
  4. to provide a forum for analysis and debate and formulation of responses to developments that impinge on the lives of retired second level teachers.

RSTA promotes these objectives through pubic advocacy independently and in association with teacher and public service unions and by liaising with kindred organisations.

Organisational Structure

  • The RSTA is a voluntary national organisation with a branch network.
  • The governing body of the Association is the National Conference.
  • The Annual National Conference elects from amongst the general membership a President, Vice President, National Secretary, National Treasurer and seven other members who form the National Committee.

Membership

Membership of RSTA is open to all retired second level teachers. Membership is granted on completion of the RSTA Application Form and the payment of the annual membership fee to the National Treasurer.  Members choose the branch of the Association they wish to join.

Funding

The Association is funded by an annual membership subscription. Subscriptions are paid directly to the National Treasurer; a portion of subscription income is retained by the National Committee and the balance is allocated to the branches on the basis of the number of members in the branch.

RSTA Rules and Constitution

Click on the link to read the Rules and Constitution as approved at the RSTA National Convention 2013: RSTA_Rules_and_Constitution.pdf

Our Logo

The National Committee had for some time recognised the need for a logo which would clearly establish the unique identity of the RSTA.  The 50th anniversary year seemed an opportune time to act and the decision was taken to engage the services of west of Ireland firm  Avenir to design a logo which would represent the values and aspirations of our organisation as we look forward to the next 50 years of growth and development for RSTA.   A questionnaire from Avenir which sought to establish what RSTA was about was circulated and the collated responses provided the direction to Avenir for the creation of the new design.

logo

 

Avenir have suggested the following description of the logo:

“The RSTA logo is understated in style and hopes to communicate simply and intuitively the values which RSTA aspires to represent.  The main focus is on the acronym RSTA with a tagline in lower prominence to the right.  Drawing lightly on the torch symbol from the original RSTA website, the new logo suggests a flame rising from the “t”, the only character rising above the level of the others.  A lowercase typeface was selected for its approachable and informal character.  The dark blue hints at traditional, educational values.  The blue letters frame the warm, light-giving, and dynamic qualities of the deep orange colour to indicate the friendship and life enhancing aspects of RSTA membership.” 

Friday, 09 November 2012 15:37

Links

General Interest

 

Our Members

 

 Make your Pension go Further

 

Become a volunteer

Friday, 09 November 2012 15:34

National Committee

Contact National Committee at info@rsta.ie

National Committee 2017/18

(L to R) Seated: Susie Hall (National Secretary), Carmel Heneghan (RSTA President), Padraic O'Doherty (Vice-President).   

Back Row: Mattie Finnerty (Tipperary Branch), Henry Collins (Immediate Past President), Micheál O'Neill (Wexford Branch), Pat Cahill (Dublin Branch), Muriel McNicholas (Membership Secretary), John Cunningham (Waterford Branch), Mary Evans (Cork Branch), Marie Doyle (Dublin Branch).

Absent from photograph: John McDonnell, National Treasurer

 

Report from National Committee Meeting - September 12th 2016

The chief matters for discussion at this meeting were the Overpayment of Pensions, the RSTA Insurance Policy and the venue for the National Conference 2017.

The necessary follow-up on Motions passed at the Natinal Conference 2016 was also attended to.

The National Treasurer and representatives on the Retired Workers Committee of ICTU gave reports.

A date was fixed for the Christmas Newsletter before the meeting concluded.

 

 

Friday, 09 November 2012 15:31

Join Us

How do I join RSTA?

Membership Application Forms are available to download below or from the National Treasurer. Email: rstatreasurer@gmail.com

The annual membership subscription is €24 payable on 1st September.

Subscription payment options:    

  • Bank Standing Order
  • Online bank transfer
  • Cheque – payable to “RSTA”

Members are urged to use the Standing Order option if possible in order to reduce administration costs.

Completed Application forms should be forwarded to the National Treasurer. Contact details are on the Membership Application Form.

Download  App_Form_2016.pdf

General Enquiries on RSTA related matters to:  info@rsta.ie

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