In Short


A round-up of today's other stories in brief.

Traveller training units condemned

Traveller training centres are the worst thing that ever happened to the community, it was claimed yesterday.

There are 33 centres which teach a variety of academic and practical subjects to Travellers over the age of 15.

But the Travellers' group Pavee Point said the centres only encouraged Travellers to drop out of mainstream education and called for them to be shut down.

"It's being viewed as an alternative to secondary education, but to me it's a sub-standard education. And it needs to be dismantled," said Pavee Point assistant director Martin Collins.

He said the allowance paid to Travellers attending the training centres was part of the problem.

Around two-thirds of Travellers had left school by the age of 15, according to figures published in 2002. Just 6 per cent of Travellers of working age have a Leaving Certificate, compared with 60 per cent in the rest of the population.

According to a major consultation process with more than 450 Travellers throughout Ireland, many parents found it difficult to approach school personnel and had difficulties enrolling their children in schools. Once in school, many Traveller children experienced racist name-calling.

But Mr Collins said there was no justification for a separate education system just because Travellers experienced alienation and exclusion in mainstream education.

'Buddy' scheme will ease travel

Dublin Bus is to introduce a new "buddy" scheme early in 2006 for mobility- and sensory-impaired people. Similar schemes have already proved successful in London and Leeds in Britain, writes John Downes.

Expected to cost in the region €120,000 a year, if necessary the scheme will provide for a qualified professional to travel with public transport users as they get used to availing of low-floor buses and other modes of public transport.

Dublin Bus will also offer travel assistance and advice on planning a journey using an accessible route.

The company estimates there are almost 100,000 people within the population of Dublin who have varying levels of disability, but for whom public transport is vital.

Police say Derry fire was malicious

Police in Derry said yesterday that an early-morning fire in a two-storey house at Princes Street close to the city centre, from which four people had to be rescued, was malicious.

Widespread smoke and fire damage was caused to the terrace house. Two men jumped to safety from a first-floor window and two women were rescued by members of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.

The two men who jumped were later treated in Altnagelvin Hospital for minor impact injuries, and the two women for smoke inhalation.

The fire broke out after a party in the house. The occupants were alerted by a smoke alarm, and neighbours contacted the emergency services.

Fire officer Brian Hasson said: "Without doubt lives were saved because of the presence of a fully- operational smoke alarm."