Family Carers Ireland call on Micheál Martin to make its GE2020 ‘asks’ a red line issue in Government formation talks

Family Carers Ireland welcomed TD and Leader of the Fianna Fáil party, Micheál Martin, to its annual ‘National Respite Weekend’ at The Clayton Hotel Cork City on Saturday 7th March. The Leader took time to meet with family carers, hear their stories and delivered a pre-dinner address at the event.

The charity took the opportunity to call on Micheál Martin to make Family Carers Ireland’s GE2020 Manifesto ‘asks’ a red line issue in formation talks for the next Government, particularly to give full-time family carers a right to 20 days respite each year in line with statutory leave available to paid workers. According to the organisation, a minimum entitlement to 20 days guaranteed respite each year should be enshrined in the impending statutory homecare legislation in line with the statutory leave available to paid workers.

One in 10 people in Ireland is a family carer with many providing round-the-clock care to a loved one without pay, with limited support and little or no access to a break. Without the €10 billion in unpaid care they provide each year, the Irish health service would crumble. Despite the enormity of their contribution, a recent study* shows that access to respite for family carers has worsened over the last decade. Seven in 10 family carers in 2009 said they had no access to respite, compared to four in ten in 2009.

Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Carer Engagement with Family Carers Ireland said, “Family Carers Ireland welcomes Micheál Martin to the ‘National Respite Weekend’ a vitally important time for family carers to recharge their batteries and meet with people in similar situations. We are heartened by his show of support for family carers and want to reiterate to all political parties that they must recognise the essential role that family carers play in sustaining the national health system.  No one can run on empty, yet this group of vulnerable people are consistently being asked to keep going without a break. Paid workers get breaks, weekends off and 20 days of statutory leave entitlement for their 38 hours per week yet family carers, the majority of whom provide over 50 hours of care per week and many more care 24/7 for their loved ones get next to nothing. This must be addressed in the next Government.”

Family Carers Ireland is the national charity supporting the 355,000 family carers across the country who care for loved ones such as children or adults with physical or intellectual disabilities, frail older people, the terminally ill or those suffering from chronic illnesses or addiction. It provides a range of services and supports for family carers through its 22 resource centres nationwide. For more information see www.familycarers.ie or contact a local resource centre.

*Paying the Price: The Physical, Mental and Psychological Impact of Caring study shows that: 


  • 83 per cent  of carers’ loved ones have no access to suitable respite
  • 82 per cent of carers provide more than 50 hours of care per week
  • 61 per cent of carers provide more than 100+ hours of care per week
  • 67 per cent of carers reported they suffered with physical ill health
  • 48 per cent of carers said they were diagnosed with mental ill health
  • 68 per cent of carers felt that their health had suffered as a result of caring
  • 40 per cent thought their health would be improved with more access to respite


Paying the Price: The Physical, Mental and Psychological Impact of Caring was produced by Family Carers Ireland in collaboration with the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland and UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems.






“Mrs Deegan – President Putin will be seated to your right”


Nearly 25 years ago Dubliner Debbie Deegan and her family opened their home to two Russian orphan girls for a month in the summer. It was to change her life. They visited her house. She went to visit their orphanage. What she saw was heartbreaking and she was determined to improve their lot.

She quit her job in the fashion world of Mirror Mirror and set about changing the conditions of the orphanages that had been home to the two very neglected little girls. What began as a whip around at a coffee morning led to the setting up of a charity and a promise to improve the lives of the children she met. Over the years  the charity she founded, To Russia With Love,(renamed To Children with Love in 2015), has brought structure, education, ambition, care and love to  the lives of over 5,000 children. Her lobbying of the Russian authorities has transformed how children in state care are treated in Russia. The story is told in her 2012 book, “To Russia With Love,” written with Emily Hourican and published by Mercier Press.

In 2019 Debbie was awarded the Order of Friendship which is the highest honour that can be given to a foreigner in Russia. It was  presented personally by the President. Hence her meeting with Putin.

Last year she came to the attention of Ted Talks and was invited to present her story in Kingston Upon Thames this January. The resulting talk “Mrs Deegan – President Putin will be seated to your right,” is in turn motivational, heartwarming, provocative and amusing. She recounts, as only Debbie can, the range of emotions on learning that she was to spend two hours with the President.

After a career in retail fashion and the charity sector Debbie is now using her unique experience in overcoming challenges and leading teams in her new career, inspirational speaker. She has been doing it for 25 years now.



Exclusive rooftop occasion photographs in the heart of the city

Confirmations and Communions at Pembroke Kilkenny

Pembroke Kilkenny has designed very special celebrations for families who are looking forward to a Confirmation or Communion this spring.  The city’s premier boutique venue, is inviting families to celebrate the special day at Pembroke Kilkenny.With its fantastic city centre location, Statham’s can tailor a get-together to suit the individual needs of each family from a low-key casual gathering with finger food and drinks to a more leisurely afternoon including a delicious four-course meal featuring the very best locally sourced ingredients from the country’s fine artisan producers including Breagagh Valley, Highbank Orchard, Kell’s Wholemeal and Macroom Buffalo.

 Create everlasting memories with a stunning roof-top cityscape against the breath-taking backdrop of Kilkenny Castle. Pembroke Kilkenny offers its guests exclusive access to its famous rooftop to take those all-important family photographs.

The recently refurbished event’s room offers comfort and luxury in a modern, stylish and cosy setting, a fantastic party venue in the city centre. Not forgetting who’s day it is, the hotel has smart TVs and a choice of games to entertain the younger ones while the adults relax and enjoy the occasion.

Paul Broderick, General Manager of Pembroke Kilkenny said, “Communions and Confirmations are a once in a lifetime event in a young person’s life and a special occasion for the extended family. However you choose to celebrate this special event our dedicated team is here to help. If you want something low-key and private or a big family celebration, at Pembroke Kilkenny we have you covered! Our team is happy to arrange your day just the way you want it. Don’t forget to take in the spectacular view across the city, Castle Yard and majestic Kilkenny Castle from our rooftop. We are thrilled to offer this scenic space exclusively to our guests.”

The Pembroke Kilkenny team love creating unforgettable celebrations and look forward to helping to make happy memories for families across Kilkenny this spring. For more visit: pembrokekilkenny.com 



Noel Lawler Green Energy Solutions has won the award “Building Performance Consultancy” (up to 50 employees) at the prestigious CIBSE (Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers) Building Performance Awards 2020 in London on 11th February. Central to its success is the company’s innovative ‘pay as you save’ financing approach where they, on behalf of their customers, secure project finance, invest in technology upgrades and share in the verified savings with the customer. The Irish company beat off international competition from companies based across the globe responsible for the design, commissioning, construction, installation and operation of low energy buildings. 

 This is another major award for Noel Lawler Green Energy Solutions where their Energy Performance Contract with Dublin City Council won at the European Energy Awards in Berlin in 2017. Additionally, they have recently won the Public Sector Award for Excellence in Energy Services 2020.A significant project for the company was Center Parcs, a €233 million once in a lifetime development in Co. Longford which includes 466 Scandinavian style lodges and 30 lake view apartments, and 9 commercial buildings including a sub-tropical swimming pool. The company, headquartered in Kilkenny, with offices in Cork, Dublin, London and Saudi Arabia, was appointed as mechanical and electrical design engineers for the entire project. Other projects include a complete energy saving refit of Brown Thomas stores, Meubles in Kilkenny, and the Watershed Leisure Centre in Kilkenny where an energy consumption of €350,000 was reduced by €75,000 annually, with a carbon reduction of 33 per cent.

 Managing Director, Daniel Ring, said that :-

 “Our innovative approach, combined with research on emerging technologies such as the use of biomass boilers to convert poultry droppings to heat, will deliver creative and unparalleled project results. There are no capital costs up front for the client and we share the savings on a prior agreed basis with them once they have been achieved, measured, and verified. This model has been very successful in Germany and Austria and Czech Republic and it is working for us and an important part of our CIBSE success.”

 “A future built on sustainable design is the standard we at Noel Lawler Green Energy Solutions set ourselves. This increases the value of a building, increases competitiveness for the business and reduces maintenance costs. Plus there is the vital reduction in the impact on the environment. We are delighted by the recognition from CIBSE – the Oscars of our industry. This recognition is testament to our staff.”

 The company is involved at a strategic level with many organisations in developing their sustainability roadmaps to 2030 and beyond. It also works with many businesses to progress their corporate environmental reporting structures.

 Other major projects for the company include the former site of Smithwick’s Brewery in Kilkenny, the Abbey Creative Quarter Development, which is currently undergoing major redevelopment. This is the first LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) for a Neighbourhood Development in Ireland. This recognises development projects that successfully protect and enhance overall health, natural environment and quality of life. The twenty-acre brownfield site will feature several Near Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB). Key features of the former Brewhouse are low flow water fixtures, energy efficient heating and lighting, and a design for natural ventilation to optimise oxygen levels. This will result in 4,500 square metres of high-quality office space wrapped around a central atrium and be completed by the end of 2020.

 Noel Lawler Green Energy Solutions are also working with Decathlon main contractor Mannings as BREEAM champions to deliver a project that achieves the overall BREEAM credentials. BREEAM sets the standard for best practice in sustainable building design, construction and operation.

Managing Director, Daniel Ring, went on to say, 

 “The public sector is targeted to reduce energy consumption by 50% by 2030. The challenge now is to accelerate progress. And this is where Energy Performance Contracts (EPC) have a big role to play. At Noel Lawler Green Energy Solutions we have secured Ireland’s first two publicly procured Energy Performance Contracts (EPC) with Dublin City Council. The eight-year contract will upgrade initially three, and then an additional seven sports and fitness centres. These projects will produce savings of over €2.5 million. Using EPCs we can achieve enormous carbon reduction in the public sector and these improvements will be independent of the central Government budget.” 

For more information on Noel Lawler Green Energy Solutions see www.nlges.com


Petmania Launches Operation TransPAWmation as survey reveals worrying statistics

Petmania Ireland has launched its annual Operation TransPAWmation campaign in association with Royal Canin. The campaign runs throughout February and March in Petmania stores nationwide. It aims to reduce obesity in pets, encourage healthier habits and transform pet’s lives. 

According to Royal Canin experts, obesity in dogs is a growing epidemic with three in five dogs now overweight. Likewise 40 per cent of cats are overweight. Obesity can lead to devastating health complications like arthritis, cardio respiratory problems and ligament rupture. It significantly reduces a pet’s life expectancy and their wellbeing. These troubling figures prompted Petmania to conduct its own survey into the health and lifestyle habits of Irish pet owners.

Petmania Ireland’s Pet Health & Lifestyle Survey, held throughout December and January, looked at four elements of pet care including body conditioning, weight and diet, exercise and play plus wellbeing and lifestyle.

Petmania Ireland’s Pet Health & Lifestyle Survey revealed 

  1. 43 per cent have not weighed their dog in the last three months, 53 per cent of cat owners have not weighed their cat in the same period. 30 per cent are unsure when their cat was last weighed, if at all. A further eight per cent said they have never checked their dog’s weight.
  2. Less than half (46 per cent) of the respondents knew what an ideal ‘Body Condition Score’ for their pet should be.
  3. 28 per cent do not measure their dog’s meals and choose to free pour / 63 per cent free pour their cat’s food.
  4. 36 per cent give treats because their cat begged /  39per cent give dog treats two or more times each day.
  5. 18 per cent of respondents said their dog gets less than 30 minutes of exercise each day whilst pet owners observed that their cat spent most of their day sleeping and four per cent of dog-owners admit that their dog gets no exercise.

What of pets lifestyle and wellbeing? The survey shows 

  1. 58 per cent of dogs spend three-plus hours alone each day, while for cats this figure is 91 per cent
  2. 28 per cent of dogs and 17per cent of cats share their owner’s bed
  3. Encouragingly, 75% of dogs and 91% of cats have been neutered

Throughout February and March, Petmania are inviting pet owners to take part in Operation TransPAWmation in one of its 12 stores nationwide. Pet owners can bring their dog or cat to Petmania for a free weight and body condition score(BSC) check. The BSC is a visual examination of the pet’s body ranked on a scale from one to nine.  As part of the campaign dog and cat owners can pick up a booklet containing a food diary, exercise hints and tips, suggested #HealthierHabits and exclusive discounts. Each animal that takes part will automatically go into a draw to win a three month’s supply of food from Royal Canin.

As part of the campaign a national dog-walk will take place across the country on March 14th and 15th. To participate in the free programme ‘Operation TransPAWmation’, visit any of the 12 Petmania stores nationwide. For full survey results and more information visit:  petmania.ie |  #Petmania­OT | #HealthierHabits | royalcanin.co.uk

Family Carers Ireland launches ‘Family Carers Canvass Card’ ahead of GE2020


Five key questions for Caring Candidates

Family Carers Ireland has launched its ‘Family Carers Canvass Card’.  The campaign entitled ‘No one Should Have to Care Alone’ is calling on electoral candidates and the community to prioritise family carers in the next Government.

Family Carers Ireland is appealing to communities to make their voice count and challenge candidates to commit to sharing the care with Ireland’s 355,000 family carers. The cards are available from familycarers.ie and outline five main areas where change is urgently needed to support family carers, the unsung heroes of Ireland’s inadequate health service.


Family Carers Canvass Card Key Questions for Candidates

  1. Will you reform the means test for Carer’s Allowance?
  2. Will you abolish the postcode lottery in carer supports by funding the €3.2m Carers Guarantee proposal?
  3. Will you commit to increasing funding to ensure demand-led access to homecare?
  4. Will you commit to giving all full time family carers the right to 20 days respite per year?
  5. Will you commit to abolish waiting lists for essential therapies for children with special needs? (e.g. speech & language, physio, occupational therapy & psychology)


Family Carers Ireland (FCI) is a National Charity dedicated to supporting the estimated 355,000 Family Carers in Ireland. With limited availability to supports and services family carers are an extremely vulnerable group of Irish society. Family carers prop up the national health service at a high personal cost – financially, physically and emotionally.

  • Family carers save the state €10 billion per year.
  • One in ten adults in Ireland is a family carer
  • By 2030, demographic changes predict that one in five people will take on a caring role.
  • It is estimated that there are over 57,000 young carers (under 18) in Ireland looking after someone in their family who has an illness or disability.
  • 82 per cent of family carers provide over 50 hours of unpaid care to their loved ones each week and of them, 61 per cent provide more than 100 hours of care per week.*

Family Carers Ireland’s Head of Communications and Carer Engagement, Catherine Cox said,

“We have an opportunity to address urgent needs for family carers across Ireland who work tirelessly, often 24/7, to care for their family, friends and loved ones with very little access to services or respite. Family carers prop-up the Irish Health Care System with their selfless commitment by freeing up nursing home and hospital beds. Their sacrifice saves the State €10bn each year, despite this, carers are paying an enormous personal price financially, physically and mentally. Family Carers Ireland are urging candidates in the forthcoming election to prioritise family carers in the next Government. Please ask candidates in the 2020 election what they will do to support Ireland’s 355,000 family carers, because no one should have to care alone.

2000 voiceless people stuck in institutions despite promise to move them to community setting by 2018 

Inclusion Ireland demand that budget and community facilities be put in place for these people who have been left behind

In 2011, the HSE published ‘A Time to Move on From Congregated Settings – a Strategy for Community Inclusion’. The report painted a distressing picture of 4000 people with intellectual disabilities living isolated lives in institutions. The plan was to move all 4000 people out of institutions and into community-based care within seven years.

 Inclusion Ireland actively promotes the status of persons with intellectual disabilities as equal citizens and challenges negative or stereotypical views. It  demands that budgetsand appropriate community facilities be put in place to complete the State’s process of deinstitutionalisation so that people with disabilities can live supported self-directed lives in their community.

 This would empower people with disabilities to play a greater part in the communities in which they live.  It is about people with intellectual disabilities being visible, taking part, being involved and being considered. Reducing segregation will result in increasing integration and inclusion. It involves valuing and respecting diversity.

 Addressing politicians standing for election Enda Egan, CEO of Inclusion Ireland said, “Progress has been painfully slow. From the beginning insufficient funding was made available to implement the plan. In 2016, the Government watered down the 2011 plan to move just one third of the remaining 2700 people into homes in the community.’

 Today 2000 people with intellectual disabilities remain living in an institution in Ireland. At current rates of people moving out it will take more than fifteen years to complete the plan that was announced in 2011. A mere 132 are planned to move in 2020.

 The government must make additional funding available to the Department of Housing for physical houses and the HSE for transition and additional ongoing costs of the move into the community to enable people with intellectual disabilities to enjoy living an ordinary life in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

See www.inclusionireland.ie

Leadership in Sport – Lessons for Leaders

Leadership in Sport – Lessons for Leaders 

Corporate event to raise funds for Kilkenny Sporting Centre of Excellence

  ‘Leadership in Sport – Lessons for Leaders’, now in its fourth year, the successful business networking event was launched this week at the Leinster Rugby Headquarters and Training Facility in Belfield, Dublin.The corporate lunch, hosted by Newstalk’s Pat Kenny, will take place at the Intercontinental Hotel, Dublin on Friday 7th of February and will explore the key attributes of successful leaders in sport and in business.

 Run in conjunction with Newstalk 106 to 108 FM, the event raises funds for a sporting centre of excellence for St Kieran’s College and Kilkenny GAA Development.

 The theme of the event is lessons for leaders from a sport and business viewpoint with a focus on, passion, attention to detail and the drive necessary for success. Speakers will include Leinster Rugby Coach Leo Cullen, Brian Cody, Anne O’ Leary, Chief Executive of Vodafone and a panel of All Ireland winning hurlers in the company of Tommy Walsh.

 Speaking at the launch, Rev. Dr Dermot Ryan, President, St Kieran’s College said, “Each of the speakers for this year’s ‘Lessons for Leaders’ event are synonymous with success. In their own field they have experienced great success and know that these moments are built on many hours of unseen and often thankless work rooted in a deep hunger to achieve, a culture of teamwork, dedication and attention to detail. We are looking forward to gaining their perspectives on what helps to maintain the hunger necessary for success today.”

 Having played rugby at the highest level, Leo Cullen has led Leinster Rugby in Management since his appointment in 2015. He will discuss Leadership in Sport and the importance of attention to detail, integrity and a good work ethic.

 As CEO of Vodafone Ireland, Anne O’ Leary has led innovative investments in Ireland’s telecommunications infrastructure. As a champion for wellbeing and diversity in the workplace, Anne will focus on Lessons for Leaders.

 Now confirmed for an unparalleled 22nd Season as Kilkenny Manager and seen by all as the most successful hurling team manager in the modern sporting era, Brian will explore the key values that underpin the relentless hunger for success that made Kilkenny such a competitive force leading to eight out of ten All-Irelands.

 The afternoon will culminate in a panel discussion led by Kilkenny Senior Hurler, Tommy Walsh with Aidan Fogarty, Eddie Brennan and JJ Delaney on what keeps an entire dressing room focused on a singular goal.



New Year Free Puppy Classes for New Pet Parents

9,800 dogs entered pounds across Ireland

According to the latest dog control statistics issued by the Government*, over 9,800 dogs entered pounds across Ireland last year. The animals were seized, strays or surrendered to 31 official dog pounds which are run by local authorities.

 In Galway 519 dogs entered the dog pound and of those, 120 were reclaimed or rehomed and a further 353 were transferred to an animal welfare provider. Many more were surrendered into rescue centres. Every year in the weeks that follow the Christmas season, there is a spike in animals being returned to shelters and surrendered to the pound.

 The Irish owned pet retailer Petmania works closely with a number of animal rescue centres across Ireland, and has witnessed this sad phenomenon year on year.

 Receiving a new puppy for Christmas is a big responsibility and with the reality of returning to work and school in January it can be overwhelming for new pet families To help integrate a new furry friend into the family, Petmania host free monthly Puppy Care Classes with everything you need to know to care for, feed and protect the wellbeing of your new dog.

 The Puppy Care Classes are designed for those who recently got or who are about to get, a new puppy. The classes cover a range of topics including diet and nutrition, grooming, house training, parasite control, exercise and play, socialisation and most importantly  basic behaviour training plus much more to ensure the best for your new best friend.

 Shane McMahon from Petmania Galway said, “For anyone who was lucky enough to get the gift of a new puppy this Christmas we highly recommend Petmania’s free Puppy Care Classes.

We champion the message that pets are a full-time commitment and with the right care and by following some simple and practical tips they can become a valued family member. We believe that every pet deserves their own human to love them and a great place to start is with one of our Puppy Classes.”

 Petmania is Ireland’s leading pet retailer and grooming studio, with 12 stores nationwide. The next Puppy Care Class is Saturday, January 11th, free of charge however spaces are limited and booking is encouraged. Register in your local Petmania store or online at petmania.ie

No one should have to care alone this Christmas – Family Carers Ireland

Ireland’s 355,000 family carers need a helping hand from family, friends, community and State

 While Christmas is a time of goodwill and festivities for most, the burden on those caring for their loved ones at home is greatly increased with the majority of schools, residential care centres and support networks closed. Family Carers Ireland’s National Freephone Careline 1800 24 07 24 experiences a spike in calls this time every year from those suffering from increased social isolation and stress and facing no prospect of a break.

Ireland’s family carers are the hidden, unpaid workforce saving the state €10bn every year by caring for loved ones such as children or adults with physical or intellectual disabilities, older people, the terminally ill or those suffering from chronic illnesses or addiction. Many carry the burden of caring alone when this should be a shared responsibility between the carer, family, friends, the community and the State. This has never been more relevant, given that the latest HSE figures show that 7,900 people were on the waiting list for home supports at the end of October – an increase of 1,500 in just six months.

“Many family carers do not have the luxury of Christmas holidays or breaks. In fact, Christmas to some family carers can be a time of isolation, increased workload and severe financial pressure with rising heating and living costs in this cold weather,” says Catherine Cox, Head of Communications and Carer Engagement with Family Carers Ireland.

“We would urge family members, friends and the wider community to share the care over the coming weeks while in the longer term, the Government must tackle the postcode lottery in supports and services including access to vital respite for exhausted family carers.”

Take time to pay a visit:

Socialising and visiting friends and family over Christmas is almost impossible for a full-time family carer. Taking time to drop in and say hello will greatly relieve the sense of isolation and disconnect from the community felt by many.

Offer a helping hand:

Simple chores such as shopping for Christmas dinner, fuel or gifts bring added stress for those experiencing financial hardship and/or caring round-the-clock and unable to take a break. Offering a helping hand with these essential tasks during the season of giving will reduce this burden.

Speak to your local representative:

Thousands of family carers will struggle physically, mentally, emotionally and financially this Christmas. Keep family carers on the agenda by asking your local representative what they are doing to reduce the burden of caring highlighted by recent research* which shows that:


  • Almost two thirds of family carers are providing more than 100 hours of care per week
  • Half said they were diagnosed with mental ill health
  • Three quarters worry about not having enough money in the future
  • 71% had no access to respite.


*Paying the Price: The Physical, Mental and Psychological Impact of Caring was produced by Family Carers Ireland in collaboration with the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland and UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems. See: https://familycarers.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Paying-the-Price-The-Physical-Mental-and-Psychological-Impact-of-Caring.pdfe-Physical-Mental-and-Psychological-Impact-of-Caring.pdf