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Over 40 complaints made about ‘unsuitable’ books on English curriculum

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Some books being studied by Junior Cert and Leaving Cert English students feature “disturbing and sick content” and material that is “clearly unsuitable for minors”, complainants have told the Department of Education.

The department has received more than 40 complaints on the issue in recent months, with one email to Minister Norma Foley describing The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood as “nothing but sadistic, upsetting and of no moral learning or value to students”.

The acclaimed dystopian novel is based in a patriarchal totalitarian state where women, or handmaids, are forced to produce children for commanders.

One “concerned parent” said they were “perturbed” that their teenager was studying the novel Room by Irish author Emma Donoghue.

‘Questionable’

They said many of the topics in the book were “questionable” and that greater consideration should have been given before the book was “forced upon sensitive people in this day and age”. The Booker-shortlisted story is told from the perspective of a young boy held captive in a small room with his mother.

The emails, released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act, were from parents, one of whom said they were “appealing to and begging” the department to change the curriculum.

One parent expressed “shock and concern” about the prescribed reading lists, citing a perceived “lack of vigilance regarding the age appropriateness” of some books. “The material is offensive, abhorrent and clearly unsuitable for minors,” they said.

The curriculum could “only be described as the sexualisation and desensitising of our children… there needs to be an investigation into this whole sordid affair”, another complaint said.

‘Enslaving’

One person said the book list was “enslaving” students to “abominable ungodly content”, while another sarcastically suggested there was “nothing to stop” Fifty Shades of Grey, the bestselling explicit erotic romance novel, being added.

Some emails were directed towards Ms Foley personally, and called for her to be fired and “held directly responsible”. The department’s response stated that the curriculum at all levels was considered to be for all learners “regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic background, gender or orientation”.

It said it was important that each book was viewed “in its entirety rather than being reduced to particular sections which may be especially controversial”, and that the texts had “strong literary pedigrees” and featured on curricula internationally.

There were also several emails sent to the department in defence of the curriculum, predominantly from students.

The text-list working groups for each subject, convened by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, are comprised of teachers, third-level lecturers, staff from relevant support agencies and experts in children’s and young adult literature. The curriculum did not change this year though the Minister said it would be reviewed in the coming months.


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IHG to open new hotel in Brussels (BE)

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IHG Hotels & Resorts (IHG) announced the signing of voco Brussels City North, marking entry into a new market. Due to open in autumn 2023, the 92-key voco Brussels City North property will be operated by Prem Group, a strong partner for IHG in the region. The state-of-the-art hotel will feature a restaurant and conference centre and will adjoin the Innovation Centre, which is already open on the site, to create a hub for hospitality innovation and a truly stimulating environment.

 

Located to the north of the city, the hotel will feature a striking 50-metre tower with huge glass windows providing panoramic views of the Brussels skyline. The site itself will be Europe’s largest experimental lab for creating ideas and a vision for the future. In line with voco hotels ethos, voco Brussels City North will stand out from the crowd and give guests a different choice.

 

Willemijn Geels, VP Development Europe, IHG Hotels & Resorts, said: “I’m delighted to announce that we are partnering with Living Tomorrow to bring voco hotels to Belgium. We know that Brussels is a strong market for branded properties, and we are confident that the voco hotels’ brand will fit well with the goal of creating a truly innovative hub on this unique site.”

 

Yin Oei, CEO, Living Tomorrow, said: “Living Tomorrow is focused on driving the future and we’re excited to partner with IHG to develop this exciting hotel – the first voco in Belgium. The values of voco hotels fit well with our desire to innovate and push boundaries and we know that the strength of the IHG systems will provide a stable platform from which to innovate.”

 

 

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Mitheridge and London Green unveil plans for Lambeth mix-use scheme (GB)

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Mitheridge Capital Management and London Green have unveiled plans for a residential-led, mixed-use development in Lambeth, south London. The project will make use of a former industrial site in Loughborough Junction, Lambeth, while also protecting the adjacent intersecting Victorian railway viaducts which remain a rich heritage asset.

 

Managing Partner of Mitheridge William Yerburgh said: “London desperately needs more homes. We believe strongly in an approach to housing provision that is affordable but also enhances the character and vibrancy of local communities. Our partnership with London Green will show that new housing provision can deliver for everyone.”

 

Daniel Rastegar, Investment Director at Mitheridge commented: “We are excited to work with London Green to deliver a scheme that will contribute positively to this area of Lambeth, both by providing highly sustainable, high-quality homes as well as new industrial space for SMEs.”

 

Harry Green, Director at London Green added: “This represents yet another opportunity to develop an underutilised site into a mixed community of sustainable homes and workplaces. We look forward to working with best-in-class consultants and contractors to deliver the vision that we share with Mitheridge Capital Management”.

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IIProp grows its presence in Spain

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IIProp (International Industrial Properties) has successfully delivered the initial phase of its built-to-suit project in the Spanish city of Murcia. The joint venture has also launched a new development project at a prime location in Nadarzyn, Warsaw South, Poland. The scheme is located in Murcia’s San Andres industrial park and offers 22,346m². The project is set to add another building of over 23,000m², bringing the total development area to 46,600m² GLA. Construction of a 23,000m² follow-on component is under way and scheduled for completion in January 2023. The project marks an important milestone for the IIProp’s expansion in Spain, where the platform has secured pipeline for development of some 63,000m² GLA in the Murcia and Barcelona regions. The development comes with excellent connectivity and visibility as it sits alongside the A7 highway, part of the Mediterranean transit corridor that links Spanish and Portuguese ports with mainland Europe. The project is set to obtain “Very Good” BREEAM certificate, which will be supported by green solutions such as solar panels, charging stations for electric cars, power sockets for electric bicycles and scooters as well as bicycle parking space and a bee shelter.

 

Nebil Senman, Managing Partner at Griffin Capital Partners, said: “The logistics market in Europe experienced an unprecedented growth during the pandemic and despite the geopolitical turmoil the tenant demand remains strong. We selectively are developing projects in Murcia and Warsaw with highest ESG standards and securing highest tenant covenants to fulfill core investor’s requirements. We plan to continue to build up carefully our European logistics footprint by selectively adding projects in core European markets as well as through converting our well-positioned land bank into standing assets.”

 

Maciej Dyjas, Managing Partner at Griffin Capital Partners, commented: “The projects in Murcia and Warsaw are another success stories in our strategic partnership with Panattoni. We continue to screen new European markets for entry and already begun working on potential development projects in countries like France, Italy, and Austria. In parallel, the IIProp’s pipeline stands at ca. 430,000m² GLA, despite latest disposals completed in Germany.

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