Meeting with developing country leaders Ban stresses universal nature of new sustainability

“Tomorrow is a historic day. The world will unite around a universal and transformative Agenda to guide development efforts to 2030,” he told a ministerial meeting of the G77 and China, a grouping that now includes 134 states, more than two thirds of the total UN membership of 193. “Developed countries are committing to act not only through their development cooperation, but also through domestic plans and policies,” he told the ministers ahead of the three-day summit being held with the context of the UN General Assembly’s 70th annual General Debate. “It demands to enhance the productive capacity in developing countries, especially in the least developed countries. It addresses the preservation of the planet and the fight against climate change.”“The new programme, Transforming Our World: 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development consists of a Declaration, 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets, a section on means of implementation and renewed global partnership, all seeking to build on and expand the eight Millennium Development Goals adopted at a UN summit in 2000. “Mr. Ban stressed that the Agenda focuses on growth and decent employment, while .ensuring the preservation of the planet and the fight against climate change, taking into account the complexity and interconnected nature of today’s most vexing challenges.“The Group of 77 and China has played an extremely important role in shaping this agenda. I am sure you will sustain the same enthusiasm and idealism as we move to implementation,” Mr. Ban said, committing the full support of the entire UN System. “You need to act in your countries to build awareness and commitment to this agenda.” read more

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Where is the national scandal here Callinan defends garda handling of penalty

first_imgHe was appearing before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) today in the wake of findings by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) who examined allegations by a garda whistleblower that fixed charge penalty notices had been cancelled corruptly and illegally.“There are many, many allegations being made… but nobody has provided any evidence of corruption or malpractice,” he said.He rejected an initial claim from Labour TD Derek Nolan that this issue is a ‘national scandal’, saying:Where is the ‘national scandal’ here? Can you point your finger to where the ‘national scandal’ is?”‘Bees worrying livestock’Callinan detailed one case where penalty points were cancelled because “bees were worrying livestock”. He said that the person involved was a beekeeper engaged in voluntary work whose wife telephoned him to tell him his bees were “out of control”.He had to get back quickly as livestock and people were in close proximity, Callinan explained, saying that he had been speeding nine kilometres over the speed limit.He said that the garda officer in question took the view that the offence merited cancellation, noting the person in question had no previous transgressions.The C&AG found the rate of terminations for 2011 and 2012 to be 5 per cent and that up to one in five traffic offenders avoided penalties. He also noted that rates of termination appear to be higher than normal in some parts of the country, highlighting “operational difficulties” that needed to be addressed.In his opening statement to the committee this morning, Callinan said he “fully accept(s)” the recommendations of the C&AG and said the gardaí have in recent months implemented “a significant number of measures” in relation to the penalty points system.He said that disciplinary action has been taken against a “small number of personnel” and that “written advices” have been issued to a “further number” regarding the “necessity to conduct matters within policy and procedures”.DirectiveThe commissioner said that in August last year a directive was issued to all members of the force regarding the cancellation of fixed charge notices and said this will “provide greater clarity on the role of the cancelling authority”.Callinan pointed out that an internal garda report by Assistant Commissioner John O’Mahoney, who was also at today’s hearings, found that there was a termination rate of 4.55 per cent compared to a 5 per cent rate reported by the C&AG.But he said that when O’Mahony’s examination of over 66,000 cancelled fixed charge notices excluded terminations for “legal and technical reasons” the cancellation rate came down to 2.57 per cent.He said this equates to an average of 10,571 terminations per year annually.“To put this figure in context, it equates to less than two cancellation notices per week per Garda district,” he said, adding it proves a “efficient and cost effective alternative” to road traffic prosecutions.Callinan said that an internal audit of fixed charge note cancellations in November and December last year showed that “100 per cent of these cancellations were carried out within policy”.Earlier, the committee heard that one of the whistleblowers is to take legal advice before deciding whether he will appear before the committee next week.Callinan was also informed by PAC chairman John McGuinness that further documentation related to the cancellation of penalty points has been given by the Justice Committee to the clerk of the PAC.Read: A broken speedometer, a dying cow and a swarm of bees – how some people avoided penalty points GARDA COMMISSIONER MARTIN Callinan has defended the force’s administering of the fixed charge notice or penalty points system and said that “swift action” has been taken on foot of concerns and recommendations made in recent months.Callinan told TDs today that an internal audit of the gardaí’s termination of penalty points in November and December last year has found that all of these cancellations were carried out within garda policy.“Holistically the system itself is working very, very well,” he said, while acknowledging that the record-keeping had been poor in relation to the input of detail about some fixed charge notices through the Garda PULSE system.He said that when you “look at the totality of allegations…no thread of evidence has been found to date and nobody has come forward and provided that type of evidence” to back-up claims of widespread corruption in the system.Read: ‘The facts as I know them’: 11 things we learned from Martin Callinan’s evidence to the PAClast_img read more

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