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Only Half Of Irish Classrooms Now Have Nature Tables

A survey undertaken by ‘Biodiversity in Schools’, Ireland's biodiversity youth training organisation, has found that nature tables, once a key part of every Irish child’s education on our native flora and fauna, are increasingly not a feature of Irish classrooms. The research found that almost  half (46%) of teachers surveyed stated that nature tables are no longer present in their classroom. The findings were issued to mark the launch of the Pollinator Project by Biodiversity in Schools, a social enterprise focused on increasing awareness of the importance of Ireland’s biodiversity, and SIRO, the wholesale broadband operator. The initiative was formally launched by Minister for Biodiversity Pippa Hackett T.D. in Dublin’s Saint Stephen’s Green Park. The Pollinator Project aims to raise awareness amongst school children of the important role of pollinators such as bees, butterflies, moths and hoverflies in the pollination of flowers and supporting food systems. Free nature kits and workshops are provided by Biodiversity in Schools to give teachers and students resources to increase their knowledge of pollinators and how to support them. Survey results:
  • The research project with 100 teachers found that 46% do not have a nature table in their classroom.
  • Of those that do not have a nature table, the dominant reason cited was a lack of space in their classroom to accommodate one.
  • When teachers were asked if they themselves had a nature table as a child, an overwhelming majority of 90% acknowledged that it had been part of their own educational experience.
  • When asked how children can improve their knowledge of nature there were a variety of responses including bringing nature back as a dedicated subject on the curriculum; creating more opportunities for kids to experience nature first hand in a school setting or access to more resources and external experts in the classroom.
Commenting on the Initiative, Minister for Biodiversity Pippa Hackett noted:
“Healthy ecosystems are vital to our future, so it’s critical to do everything we can to ensure children have an understanding and an appreciation of the importance of nature. Aside from its educational benefits, I have no doubt from my own memories as a child and from my experience as a parent that this project on pollinators will bring huge enjoyment to so many children and teachers around the country. I hope everyone involved enjoys the last few months of the school year and gets out and about spotting and identifying bumblebees and other pollinators.”
Director of Biodiversity in Schools, Mark Nolan stated:
“It’s never been more important for our young people to engage with nature - to both help their local biodiversity, but also experience the wellbeing benefits of spending time outdoors. We’re delighted to have SIRO support the Pollinator Project again this year, enabling us to get biodiversity resources out to schools around the country”.
Outlining SIRO’s support for the Initiative, CEO John Keaney stated:
SIRO’s fibre connectivity enables more sustainable living by allowing more people to live and work locally. But we are conscious that all businesses must play a part in helping communities protect our natural environment. Giving the tools to the next generation to do that is key. This initiative supports the great work which Biodiversity in Schools undertakes in increasing awareness and respect for the importance of Ireland’s biodiversity”.
The Pollinator Project is now open for applicants. Schools and teachers who are interested in participating in the Pollinator Project Initiative can find out more details here.
The EPA says that Ireland is projected to fall well short of climate targets. Ireland will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 29% by 2030, compared to a target of 51%. Add to this that all industries are on track to exceed their emissions ceilings (the amount of emissions a sector can emit under current GHG budgets). So, you might be asking is it even possible to limit global temperature rise to 1.5° Celsius? The International Energy Agency believes it’s still possible. However, dramatic, and immediate action is needed if we are to stand a chance. We need governments, civil society, businesses, and others working in partnership to deliver on this.

SIRO’s Science Based Target

SIRO recognises this urgent call to action and has taken proactive steps on the crucial journey towards decarbonisation of our network. In 2022, SIRO achieved a verified Science Based Target (SBT), initiating efforts to significantly decrease GHG emissions from our operations. SIRO commits to reduce absolute scope 1 (electricity) and scope 2 (fuel) GHG emissions 42% by 2030 from a 2019 base year, and to measure and reduce its scope 3 (value chain) emissions. SIRO’s SBT is aligned with limiting global temperature rise to 1.5° Celsius. It provides an evidence-backed goal for SIRO and a realistic timeline for achieving emissions reduction.

Initiatives that are decarbonising SIRO’s network

Between 2019 and 2022, SIRO’s absolute direct emissions have decreased by 23%. The majority of this is attributed to a decrease in diesel consumption resulting from our expanding electric vehicle (EV) fleet. Emissions from diesel decreased by 48%, while SIRO’s EV’s increased to 60% of the fleet. By the end of 2023, it is expected that we will reduce our emissions from purchased electricity by over 70% from 2022 numbers. This will reduce SIRO’s direct emissions by approximately 340 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (or about 187 flights from London to Los Angeles). These savings are a result of swapping to 100% renewable energy, which will fully decarbonise SIRO’s network from May 2023 under the GHG Protocol’s market-based method. For 2024 and beyond, SIRO is exploring options such as entering a Power Purchasing Agreement that would help to support an increase of renewable energy sources in Ireland. This year, SIRO’s fleet also reached 80% EV’s, a 20% increase on 2022. This means we can expect further emissions savings from diesel from our ongoing fleet electrification. With these combined initiatives, SIRO expects to achieve our SBT of reducing our direct emissions by 42%, seven years ahead of schedule.

The importance of transparency and reporting

Reporting on non-financial information is essential for building trust and is an extension of our commitment to transparency. SIRO publicly reports our GHG footprint annually in our Sustainability Report. To ensure the accuracy of our annual report, SIRO undertook third-party verification of our GHG emissions. Having successfully achieved limited assurance against ISO – 14064-3:2019, SIRO can objectively track progress against our SBT. SIRO has also begun reporting under the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) as of 2023. The CDP helps companies measure, manage, and disclose their GHG emissions, and offers a scored metric of internal management of climate-related issues. It is the only organisation that gathers corporate GHG data and provides it to the marketplace, increasing transparency, and offering a system through which companies can gauge how they perform against their peers.

Collaboration and partnerships

Collaboration is key for high impact sustainable leadership. SIRO’s partnership with the Science Based Targets Initiative is the key driver for all emissions reduction programmes. Further, our partnership with Clearstream Solutions to verify our direct GHG emissions ensures that we can objectively track our performance against our SBT. Beyond this, we partner with many organisations to ensure our continued progress against our goals.

Looking beyond our direct emissions

Scope 3 emissions include those generated in the value chain such as through purchased goods and services, waste, or transportation and distribution. They typically account for three-quarters of a company’s emissions. In 2023, SIRO undertook our first scope 3 inventory and found that value chain emissions account for over 95% of our overall GHG footprint. Having identified priority areas for emissions reduction in our value chain, we can develop initiatives to target these areas. For example, waste generated in our operations accounts for 6.8% of our overall GHG emissions and is our third largest scope 3 category. SIRO has reduced general waste to landfill by 90% and is now working with local governments and suppliers to target backfill waste. We are doing this by researching novel options for in situ reuse to avoid inert material ending up in landfill unnecessarily.

SIRO’s GHG emissions reduction journey continues

Immediate climate action is required if we are to limit temperature rise to 1.5° Celsius. SIRO has made significant progress against our Science Based Target, reducing emissions from diesel by 48% by the end of 2022, and fully decarbonising the network through the uptake of renewable energy in 2023. Through our collaboration with many organisations to support our decarbonisation, SIRO is on track to achieve our Science Based Target seven years ahead of schedule. Our attention now turns to our value chain emissions where we have an opportunity for even greater reductions. You can follow along on SIRO’s GHG emissions reduction journey here. Read more on our sustainability journey here.
Thursday 19th of October marks National Women's Enterprise Day. This enterprise event promotes, encourages and stimulates female entrepreneurship across Ireland. In celebration of National Women's Enterprise Day, we spoke to Lorraine Gribbons, Managing Director at Fastcom, who talks us through the challenges and rewards of her journey as an entrepreneur.

Background of Business

Founded in 2004, Fastcom is one of Ireland's largest independently owned telecoms providers with customers across Ireland, the UK, Europe, and the US. The company partners with over ten infrastructure providers to offer the widest range of broadband connectivity and communications solutions to customers in various sectors, including government, healthcare, retail, logistics, and education. Fastcom is one of SIRO's retail partners and has over 1,500 customers across Ireland.

Tell us about your business?

Our business is Fastcom Broadband, a telecoms provider based in Sligo and serving customers across the country. We serve the business and domestic markets, providing broadband, phone and cyber security services. We have a huge range of customers of various sizes and operating in many different industries. We cater for all and can provide the flexibility that many of our larger competitors cannot, especially for our business customers.

What motivated you to start your own business?

My husband, Ross, started Fastcom back in 2004. I was working in Dublin training with KPMG to be a Chartered Accountant at the time. I moved back to Sligo and worked in an accountancy practice as a manager for several years before joining Fastcom in 2016. I was always involved in the background from when the business was set up, taking the next step to become CEO was the next step for me. It has been so personally rewarding to see Fastcom grow throughout the years to where we are now.

What has been the biggest challenge or learning for you?

I suppose my biggest challenge was that I was an accountant and not a "techie" and was operating in a very technical industry. In my training as a Chartered Accountant, I would have seen a wide range of clients, so I had great exposure on the side of running a business. Still, it did take me a while to get my head around the technical side of the business. We are fortunate to have a great team here now who have the expertise and skills necessary to keep that side running smoothly all the time.

What advice would you give women thinking about starting their own business?

I think just to go for it. If starting a business and working for yourself is something you are passionate about, you have to give it a go. It can be tricky sometimes, but the rewards are more than worth it.

Finally, as a company's CEO providing broadband connectivity, what are the key ways technology can help women in business?

One key element is the flexibility it can provide for working. Everyone experienced that when COVID hit, and we all had to make the shift and work remotely from what we would all have known as a standard office environment. Connectivity unlocks technology that can make all our lives easier. From the perspective of running a business and juggling all the responsibilities that come with that have a secure fibre broadband connection is a first step. From there, there are multiple digital tools which can help to enhance your productivity and allowing you to focus on business priorities vs. getting weighed down with important but time-consuming administrative tasks. AI is just one really exciting tool which is now beginning to gain traction and become embedded in business, and which is likely to really change how business operates – but in a positive way! To read more on SIRO's sustainability efforts and how we encourage equity in the workplace, click here.
Last year, Engineers Ireland reported that female engineers represented only 12% of the profession in Ireland. Research from the Higher Education Authority also indicated that just 23% of engineering graduates were female.  Every year, International Women in Engineering Day is held on 23 June, to provide a platform for women working in the engineering field. The day aims to educate, promote, and encourage females on having a career in this sector, highlighting the opportunities there are in choosing this as a career path.  SIRO promotes women in leadership, with 35% of leadership roles in our company being fulfilled by women. To mark International Women in Engineering Day this year, we asked some of the women in SIRO in engineering roles, what being a woman in engineering means to them.   Read below to find out their thoughts and insights.  

What does it mean to be a woman in engineering in Ireland? 

  SIRO Chief Technology Officer, Suzanne Tracy, says:  “Over the years I have realised that engineers are dealers in problems, working through a collection of challenges and finding solutions. Essentially, we are professional problem solvers! Day to day this can mean you are handed all the difficult issues to resolve. Problem-solvers have great scope to take ownership and make a difference.    Throughout my career in telecoms, I have always been in the minority gender, in that there have always been more males on my team and within my peer group. This has never held me back. I often say, ‘don’t be afraid of hard work’, giving that bit extra at work is something you will benefit from.   For me, being an engineer has given me a varied and fulfilling career.  I have worked for one of SIRO’s parent companies for 24 years, and during that time, I managed large IT operations teams, consolidated infrastructure into centralised data centres, and insourced and offshored technical teams, on a global scale.   Today I am responsible for the design, rollout, and customer connections on SIRO’s full fibre network, including all our IT Infrastructure that supports our business.  I truly enjoy the tangible nature of the role. We grow our network daily and we connect customers to our reliable, quality fibre network daily.”    SIRO Senior Commercial Engineer, Stella Walsh, says:  “Qualifying as an engineer has provided me with many job opportunities from various companies. I became an engineer primarily to make a difference. Throughout my career I have been a part of various projects which helped create a sense of teamwork, and that also been rewarding on a personal level.  My current role within SIRO, allows me to collaborate on a life changing project (for many homes and businesses nationwide) with my colleagues. Our work enables them to access high-speed, reliable fibre broadband, to help with their day-to-day activities and makes their lives that bit easier.   My work as an engineer has allowed me to be part of important projects which implement innovation and creativity to develop and design sustainable solutions. I am proud to challenge traditional views on sustainable construction. I do this every day, through the planning, design and build stages of SIRO’s fibre network.”  SIRO FMR (Fibre Make Ready) Program Manager, Ailin Suarez, says:  “In my eyes, it does not matter if you are a man or a woman. It is a privilege to be part of the engineering industry, an industry that is forever changing, always challenging and one that never stops looking at ways to innovate and make the world a better place.  Our society has evolved, and the landscape of engineering is ever changing. Not only are we seeing an increase in the use of technology, innovation, and sustainability in the industry, but we are also seeing more women entering the field.  Despite the progress that’s been made towards gender equality, this field remains heavily male-dominated. As a woman in engineering, I feel I have a responsibility to promote women in the industry, to achieve gender-balanced teams, creating a diversity of thought, which in turn leads to greater innovation. I always try to lead by example by being the best leader that I can be.  Through my role in SIRO, I get to do what I love and what makes me feel empowered. I think it’s important that females working in a similar position to me mentor other women. We have to recognise the importance of our role in our companies and society, and not shy away from stepping up and leading.”  SIRO Junior Engineer, Emily O’ Reilly, says:  “Being a woman in engineering means having the opportunity to design and reshape the world we live in for the better. It allows us to take on problems and find creative ways to solve them. It means being part of a bigger team to work together on projects that impact the future.   I believe it empowers you to constantly develop and improve your work, and to adopt a curious mindset. In my role, every day is different, and each day involves me trying to figure different things out, so I’m constantly learning new ways of doing things.”    To find out more about International Women in Engineering Day visit here   Read more about SIRO’s sustainability strategy, and our focus on gender equality here 
We are delighted to announced our sponsorship of a new schools’ biodiversity project which aims to raise awareness amongst primary school children of the importance of protecting Ireland’s pollinators and their natural habitats. The project was officially launched by Minister of State for Communications and the Circular Economy, Ossian Smyth TD at Gaelscoil Shliabh Rua, Ballyogan, Dublin. The launch was also attended by SIRO CEO John Keaney, Principal of Gaelscoil Shliabh Rua Ruth Mhic Adaim and teachers and pupils from the school. This sponsorship will allow 100 schools across Ireland to participate in a biodiversity project, focused on protecting native pollinators. The project will include school workshops with biodiversity experts; pollinator packs for each school, with resources to make their school grounds more pollinator-friendly, and additional free online materials for pupils. The company is aiming to become Ireland’s most sustainable broadband provider, whilst enabling the communities it serves to live more sustainably. Recent environmental initiatives by SIRO include converting its fleet to electric vehicles and becoming a signatory of the UN Global Compact.   SIRO Sponsors School Biodiversity Project Biodiversity in Schools is a national organisation which has been providing education on biodiversity to schools for the last 10 years. They aim to address Ireland’s biodiversity crisis by improving pupil’s eco-literacy and understanding of their natural environment. The overall goal for the project is to build a ‘nature-positive’ future for Ireland and for future generations to come. Minister Ossian Smyth noted:
Young people will be our leaders in restoring nature in Ireland.  This project means that students from 100 schools nationwide will work with experts and their teachers and communities to make their schools more pollinator-friendly, planting native species and contributing to a better, more biodiverse future for us all.  Well done to SIRO for supporting this important work.”
SIRO’s CEO John Keaney noted:
“SIRO is an Irish company rolling out our fibre to the home broadband network to communities across Ireland. As we do so, we see first-hand the importance of biodiversity in enhancing the lives and wellbeing of those communities. “Our hope from this project is to foster young biodiversity champions in communities across Ireland encouraging them to protect and preserve our native habitats and biodiversity. “Our sponsorship of this school pollinator project makes a small contribution to this task. We are pleased to be able to contribute to the valuable work which Biodiversity in Schools have been undertaking in this area for the last ten years,” added Mr. Keaney.
Commenting on the partnership, Mark Nolan, Director of Biodiversity in Schools noted:
“We are pleased to have SIRO onboard as a sponsor for the pollinator project. Increasing young people's awareness of the important contribution biodiversity makes to our health and wellbeing is critical." “It’s also important for Irish companies to be aware of the biodiversity crisis we are experiencing, and to help by joining us to tackle this issue together. This initiative provides the resources needed to empower pupils with the knowledge and skills on how to help save and nurture our environment.”
Schools who wish to participate in the project can register their details at
Rebecca Hurst SIRO sustainability specialist The internet probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of sustainability. Instead, you might picture smokestacks, polluting factories, or open pit mines. However, the infrastructure operated to provide broadband requires electricity to power active network equipment and data storage facilities.   Information and communications technology (ICT) is one of the fastest growing greenhouse gas emitting sectors, accounting for 3-5% of global emissions (European Commission 2022), which is on par with the aviation sector. The challenge of the growing energy needs of the ICT sector is being tackled by major companies setting ambitious targets. Microsoft has set a target to be carbon negative by 2030, and Intel have committed to using 100% renewable energy by 2030.  

The role of SMEs in Ireland’s Sustainable Development

We can’t leave it all up to the world’s biggest companies, however. With market pressures, we see big companies turn on a dime and roll back their previously ambitious targets. BP’s profits doubled in 2022, yet the oil and gas company reduced its emissions reduction target for 2030 down to 20-30% from its previous 35-40% target (Reuters). This is where the role of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) comes in.    SMEs are businesses with less than 250 employees. In 2020, Ireland’s SMEs accounted for 99.8% of the total number of enterprises and generated 41.9% of total turnover in the business economy (Irish SME Association). Given their critical contribution to the economy, SMEs are perfectly placed to be sustainability vanguards.   Being small gives SMEs the advantage of agility, with the flexibility to make decisions and implement meaningful changes quickly. SMEs can have a higher exposure to sustainability-related risks compared to larger companies due to their limited influence over supply chain risks and smaller cash reserves. But they also stand to gain more, with the benefits of integrating sustainability as a core value being very clear.   From cost savings and improved efficiencies to higher employee engagement and satisfaction, improved reputation and increased consumer satisfaction, SMEs with a clear sustainability strategy can obtain competitive advantages.   [caption id="attachment_7906" align="aligncenter" width="702"]siro sustainability siro sustainability[/caption]

How Sustainability is a Driver of Innovation for SMEs

SIRO is an SME, and with that there are additional challenges for certain sustainability initiatives due to fewer resources and reduced internal capacity. However, these same conditions can also make SMEs fertile ground for innovation.   Sustainable innovation differs from traditional innovation due to the equal balance given to economic, environmental, and social considerations. Sustainable innovation improves the sustainability performance of a business while simultaneously minimising its impact.   It is becoming increasingly important that SMEs recognise the importance of sustainable innovation as a driver in differentiating their products and services, as this will ultimately improve the company’s prospects in the market. Driven by social changes and cutting-edge technology, sustainable innovation in SMEs can be quickly investigated and adopted given the short pipeline between employees and decision-makers.   Sustainability in innovation benefits everyone. For SMEs, innovation enhances their competitive edge leading to enhanced market opportunities and in turn increasing their business’ resilience (which further increases the business’ sustainability and so on). On the other hand, as products and services continue to improve, this positively impacts on consumers’ social and economic development. Digital technology is a particularly important driver for sustainable innovation, as well as an enabler for innovations that contribute to social and economic challenges.   For example, as SIRO’s network grows, access to fibre to the home broadband  is made available to many homes and small businesses that were previously not serviced, opening digital transformation opportunities for these communities.  

Building Resilient, Reliable, And Sustainable Infrastructure

SIRO is committed to providing broadband connectivity to as many people across Ireland as possible, while improving the sustainability of our infrastructure at the same time.   SIRO’s network is being built using ESB’s existing infrastructure, limiting our footprint, and removing excessive resource consumption at the design stage. Continuous innovations in fibre to the home technology increasingly contribute to a sustainable broadband future.  SIRO is deploying an XGS-PON fibre network, technology that supports high-speed 10 gigabit per second data transfers. By delivering this now, we can avoid a future upgrade cycle, eliminating unnecessary waste and materials.   We have embedded a future-proof approach through the delivery of XGS-PON, which also provides higher bandwidth with lower energy consumption requirements. Sustainability goes beyond just the physical footprint and environmental impact of an organisation’s infrastructure however, encompassing the three pillars of environment, social and governance.  By deploying XGS-PON we are providing greater reliability for our communities due to the absence of active network elements, improving access and affordability in an equitable way.   siro sustainability

Opportunities For SMEs To Pursue Sustainability

The limited internal capacity and resources available to SMEs doesn’t prevent action on sustainability, but it does require a targeted approach. You can’t boil the ocean. Instead of trying to act on everything, reflect on the business’ priorities by identifying what topics matter most to your stakeholders and where your business stands to make the greatest impact. A materiality assessment is a great tool to use to begin this process.   Once you know what matters, select a limited number of meaningful goals to track your progress against, rather than spreading your resources too thin. For example, SIRO has a “Science-Based Target” which provides an option for SMEs to set an emissions reduction target that is in line with what climate science deems necessary. Finally, by focusing on transformative change and collaboration with peers, SMEs can be on the frontlines of sustainability.   SMEs cannot afford to be unsustainable, with greater exposure to sustainability-related risks due to their size and reduced resilience compared to larger companies. Sustainability-driven innovation provides a key opportunity for SMEs to differentiate their products and services. Going further than just being value-adding, sustainability can be harnessed by SMEs to access new markets, improve consumer confidence, increase employee engagement and satisfaction, and attract and retain talent.  [lookup_modal type="eircode" button-text="Search Your Eircode Today" position="mid" title="Input your Eircode to check whether SIRO is available at your location"]
Thanks, hun! Penney's!” That’s the badge of honour often recited when a woman in Ireland is complimented on their outfit. Fast fashion, both in Ireland and across the world has been the norm for the last 30 years. It’s not so long ago, people wouldn’t bat an eye to doing large shopping hauls for no real cause. Now, amidst a global climate crisis, attitudes are shifting towards creating long lasting, sustainable fashion choices. A report from McKinsey stated that the number of garments created annually exceeded 100 billion for the first time in 2014, equating to 14 pieces of clothing for every person on earth created each year. And if we are honest most of us buy at lot more than that each year.

Technology, including fibre broadband, are driving the growth of the second-hand market across the globe

Technology and The Growth of Fast Fashion

Fast fashion first started around the late nineties in the United States, designed to replicate trends like those that your favourite celebrity wore, quickly and cheaply. It wasn’t long before other countries followed suit.

Then, smartphones and social media arrived and changed the face of commerce forever. Once you could order clothes online through Instagram and Facebook in 2016, fast fashion orders accelerated. As well as that, websites such as Pretty Little Thing, Shein, Missguided and have become some of the trendiest fashion sites to order from today. But what if you could remain fashionable while reducing your carbon footprint? The Internet, while acting as an enabler for fast fashion, can also be a driving force for creating sustainable fashion choices. A notable example of this has been eBay, who have been around since 1995. For years, eBay has been an accessible marketplace selling pre-loved goods of all sorts, with clothes included. This year, ITV’s Love Island, ended their collaboration with fast fashion company Pretty Little Thing as their fashion sponsor, and replaced them with eBay, recognising the impact the show can have on its impressionable audience. eBay isn’t the only site dedicated to creating a circular economy. In 2016, Facebook launched Marketplace, which was established to be a direct competitor with eBay and US ad listing service, Craigslist. Facebook’s Marketplace enables people to advertise goods for sale or for free to their local community, which has proved to be a success, with over 1 billion monthly users.

In the past, ‘thrifty’ was once a positive, rather than a negative comment, in any era when people valued the cost and effort which went into producing clothing.

People’s perceptions towards fast fashion have changed in recent years. We are seeing more celebrities, influencers and young people opt to thrift clothes rather than support large fast fashion warehouses like Shein or Penney's. Thrifting is no longer confined to store-front shops. Some of the best goods can come from someone else’s wardrobe. In 2011, the concept drove the creation of Depop. Depop was established in London, as a peer to peer, social e-commerce community, where you could “like” and buy directly from the seller. Depop has grown in popularity, especially among young people. As of 2021, Depop now has over 21 million users, 90% of which are under the age of 26. Depop has proved that all you need to make more sustainable choices in fashion is a smartphone, a stable internet connection, and the drive to make some cash on your old clothes. Depop published its’ sustainability strategy in 2021, cementing its’ commitment to greener and more ethical commerce further (more here: Depop Sustainability Strategy ). SIRO also published its first sustainability strategy in 2021 (more here: SIRO Sustainability Strategy ). Key aspects include switching our fleet to electric vehicles, reducing waste in the construction of our full fibre network, and commitments to promoting diversity and inclusive practices in the workplace. With so many companies now pushing forward with sustainability commitments, it’s important to be conscious of greenwashing, including in the fashion industry. Buzzwords like “eco-friendly,” “biodegradable” and “carbon neutral” are thrown around regularly. So, it’s essential to do your research first, allowing you to shop with companies that have genuine sustainable policies and practices in place. In the past, attitudes to clothing were different. The focus was on quality and durability vs. our current throwaway culture. ‘Thrifty’ was once a positive, rather than a negative comment, in any era when people valued the cost and effort which went into producing clothing. The circular economy (though not called that back then) was often in full swing with clothing passed down through the family or precious items like wedding dresses repurposed into garments such as communion or christening outfits. Sustainable living provides an opportunity to rethink how we value clothing and to embrace being thrifty again. Technology and connectivity can now also make sustainable choices more accessible allowing consumers to shop in a more environmentally and socially equitable way. A final thought, particularly as we grapple with cost-of-living challenges, is the opportunity to make money from your pre-loved clothing, by opting to download apps that offer resale services. Technology, including fibre broadband, is driving the growth of the second-hand market across the globe. With SIRO’s 100% fibre to the premises broadband, you can manage your orders, post up your best pre-loved fashion outfits and make connections all from the comfort of your home.

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SIRO, has today announced it is to sponsor the connection and delivery of fibre broadband to Esker House - the Athlone-based Women’s Refuge and domestic abuse support service. SIRO, which is rolling out Ireland’s only 100% fibre broadband network across 154 towns, is partnering with broadband retailer Viatel to provide broadband connectivity to this vital service. Established in 1982, Esker House, supports women and their children who experience domestic abuse and violence. The Refuge provides services, support and outreach to 9 counties across the Midlands and West, stretching from Sligo to Roscommon to Carlow. Services offered by the refuge include Women and Children’s emergency refuge accommodation, a helpline, children/young person’s support Service, court support, court accompaniment, outreach service, advocacy, awareness raising and community education. Esker House’s most recent service user figures from 2020 highlights the importance of the refuge to the wider Midlands region, showing it:
  • Responded to almost 500 crisis calls on their helpline
  • Provided emergency support services to 109 women
  • Providing 1,850 support sessions to women
  • Provided refuge accommodation to 21 women and 27 children.

Pictured left to right: Deirdre Berry, Esker House Manager and Amanda Glancy, SIRO Director of Corporate Affairs

SIRO’s gigabit fibre broadband connectivity will further enhance the services provided by the refuge. Its’ existing phone systems can now move to a cloud-based solution, improving communications between the centre and its service users; while users of the emergency accommodation can access more reliable internet connectivity for work or education, TV and video streaming or to stay connected with family and friends. Commenting on the sponsorship, Esker House Manager Deirdre Berry, said: “Having high-quality and reliable fibre broadband will make a significant difference to our operations and to the services we provide to our users each day. For people who use our accommodation services, whether it’s for kids to help them do their homework or watch TV or adults wanting to keep connected, it will provide an important sense of stability. More broadly, for those seeking to avail of our services we can provide them with greater online options. We are delighted to have SIRO and Viatel come on board and support us in this way.”

Pictured left to right: Steven Farrell, SIRO Account Director and Linda Tiley, Esker House Team Lead and Deirdre Berry, Esker House Manager

SIRO’s Director of Corporate Affairs, Amanda Glancy noted: “Since the pandemic, and this year in particular, an uncomfortable spotlight has been thrown on the prevalence of domestic abuse, of women, men and families in Ireland. Unfortunately, too, the need for the support services totally outstrips demand for them. SIRO, with Viatel, is pleased to be able to support the hugely important work that the team at Esker House are providing across the Midlands Region, by sponsoring their broadband connection. Having reliable broadband allows individuals, families and businesses to live and work better, and in the case of those trying to access services such as Esker House’s, we believe connectivity is even more critical.” Damien McCann, Director of Sales and Marketing at Viatel, said: “It’s amazing to see the critical services Esker House provides for people across the midlands, Viatel are very proud to partner with the team in SIRO to provide this high-speed connectivity service to the Esker House facility, which hopefully will help users of the facility and also help the wider Esker House team’s daily operations” If you, or someone you know may need the services of Esker House, please contact their helpline at 09064 74122 SIRO is available in locations across Westmeath and the Midlands. Search Your Eircode today to see if you can avail of SIRO 100% Fibre Broadband.

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2022 marks my 27th year working in Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), with the last seven spent working with SIRO. Over the years, I’ve completed qualifications to Masters levels and attained my Chartered practitioner status. Allied with practical experience, these have given me significant expertise on developing successful organisational environmental, health and safety management systems and practices. SIRO began its journey in 2015, as a new company, a joint venture between ESB and Vodafone, rolling out a completely new 100% fibre broadband network. From the off, Environmental Health and Safety is something that we have placed a paramount importance on.

“SIRO is an Industry Leader on Environmental Health and Safety.”

SIRO is acutely aware that human interaction and organisations are dynamic and ever changing, diffusing between several layers of interaction and influence, all of which affect perceptions, meaning, values, attitudes, norms and thus behaviour; and that one unsafe behaviour can significantly change an organisations’ record. Today, there is much talk within organisations and businesses about “culture.” Within occupational and environmental management, the importance of having a positive safety culture is much highlighted. Culture is the evolving result of the continuing negotiations about values between the members of that organisation and with its environment. It includes norms, ideas and factors which prompt behaviour and attitudes towards the organisation. Is culture the single determinant of all aspects of safety and the organisation of safety practices? Unfortunately, no. It is just one, but important, part of a wider paradigm of factors required to establish a successful management system. ISO standards, in particular ISO 45001 & ISO 14001, refer to this paradigm of factors as an organisation’s “context”. To develop successful systems, there is no singular, defining handbook, each organisation must determine their own, suited to their own context.  

The Key Elements driving SIRO’s Environmental, Health &Safety (EHS) managements systems


Our Heritage

SIRO is a joint venture between ESB and Vodafone, with both companies having well established management systems. At SIRO, we took the best from both organisations’ approaches.

“We considered the complexity of utilising existing electricity infrastructure to construct & operate a 100% fibre-to-the-building broadband network, and successfully created management systems specific to SIRO”. 

SIRO's Health & Safety Context

As an “essential service,” SIRO’s workplace is complex and the risks real. SIRO as a wholesale operator successfully completes and controls, high-risk works across a variety of networks - overhead, underground, Core, and Metro. This is in addition to navigating between a myriad of existing overlapping utility networks (e.g., gas, sewage,) in a congested urban underground landscape.

SIRO's Environmental Context

SIRO is rolling out one of Ireland’s greenest telecoms networks, with a strong focus on environmental sustainability. Through using the existing ESBN electricity infrastructure, we have adapted circular economy principles. Our fibre network is significantly more energy efficient and much less polluting vs. copper or cable broadband. SIROs fibre broadband network is already underpinning:
  • A reduction in national carbon footprint due to working from home and reduced commuting
  • More sustainable and balanced development, supporting people to live and work in their communities
  • Contributing to improved work-life balance
  • Reducing in pandemic risks through facilitating greater access to online goods and services

So, what are the main elements of SIRO’s successful EHSMS management systems?

These are broadly categorised as:
  • Leadership & Participation
  • Risk & Impact Assessment
  • Setting & Enforcing High Control Standards
  • Competence (Approvals & Authorisations)
  • Integrating EHSMS within business management systems

Leadership & Participation:

  • Having robust worker participation and organisational leadership is vital to the success of all aspects of a business, HSEQ is no different.
  • SIRO’s HSEQ Department have direct line of authority from, and communication with the CEO and the SIRO Board.
  • SIRO’s Senior Leadership & Management Teams are accountable and responsible for HSEQ within their functions.
  • Worker participation is strong and there is a shared responsibility within SIRO from Leadership level throughout the whole organisation.

Risk & Impact Assessment:

  • Planning and organisation are also vital: the need to identify hazards, environmental aspects, complete risk and impact assessment should form core elements of any activity. Through planning, SIRO has devised specific control measures and standards to reduce or eliminate risks and impacts posed.

Setting & Enforcing High Control Standards:

The setting and enforcing of high HSEQ standards is vital; aim as high as you can reach. Make it about the best available technology/approach and not the ‘cowboy’ corner-cutting approach. An organisation that aims for the legislative minimum will always find they fall short. SIRO as an industry leader – sets and enforces high environmental, health and safety standards.


From experience there are two key aspects to competence an organisation must get right, and both must align with the level of risk involved:
  1. Approval: The assessment and engagement of competent contractors
  2. Authorisations: The training, assessment and authorisation of worker activity based on levels of risk.

Integrating EHSMS within business management systems:

HSEQ is not an add on, it can never be if an organisation is to be an industry leader. HSEQ integrate into all aspects of thoughts, change, and actions across our business functions.

So, does SIRO have a positive “culture”?

I believe so. At SIRO we have put in place all the key elements to ensure a positive H&S culture exists, is prioritised and can continue to grow. HSEQ is always evolving, and organisational paradigms are ever shifting in our dynamic work environment. Management systems must continually evolve and improve to respond to these dynamics.  
Today Tuesday 14 September, we launched our Sustainability Strategy, which aims to establish SIRO as Ireland’s greenest broadband network. The Strategy was formally launched by the Minister of State with responsibility for Public Procurement and eGovernment and Communications and Circular Economy, Ossian Smyth. The launch occurred on the same day as the our first electric vehicles (EVs) took to the road and coincides with Dublin Climate Action Week also taking place this week.  

“Today’s launch is the culmination of several years’ work at SIRO, first to measure our outputs and impact on the environment and broader sustainability targets and second, to then act to become cleaner, greener and more sustainable as a leading Irish telecoms business."

John Keaney, CEO, SIRO

A switch over of our existing diesel commercial fleet to EVs is a key component of the Strategy. This initiative alone will see 1.6 million kilometres in journeys undertaken each year as part of our network roll-out operations (equivalent to travelling around the globe 40 times), become greener and more sustainable. We expect the switch will more than halve our existing carbon emissions. With effect from this month, we have switched 65% of our existing diesel fleet to EVs and the remaining third will be phased out by the company over the next year, with the fleet fully electric by end 2022. image of siro electric vehicles Work on developing and activating the Strategy, which encompasses environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues relevant to the company and its operations, began in 2018 leading to today’s launch at our Carrickmines offices. Our broadband network is 100% fibre, with no copper at any point, also making it significantly more energy efficient (by up to 60% and emitting less carbon emissions (over 80% less) than traditional copper or cable broadband networks).

Key aspects of the Strategy include:

  • Switching the SIRO fleet to EVs: Transitioning of SIRO’s existing diesel fleet to EVs by end 2022, reducing carbon emissions by 53% once complete.
  • Joining the UN Global Compact: SIRO joined the UN Global Compact in February 2021. The Compact obliges participants to implement changes to their business to achieve a set of agreed UN objectives in areas such as environment, human rights, labour, and anti-corruption. SIRO is only one of 14 Irish SMEs (or 35 Irish entities in total) to join the Compact (vs. comparable sized countries such as Denmark where almost 500 (493) businesses are members)[1];
  • Utilising solar power and supporting biodiversity on its’ network: SIRO has commenced a feasibility study on installing solar panels on SIRO’s PoP cabins. These panels would offset the energy used in these internet connection points with renewable and green energy and feed into the national electricity grid. SIRO is also undertaking biodiversity projects in the environs of PoP cabins.
  • Reducing waste: SIRO has reduced its annual waste to landfill by 20% between 2018 and 2020 and is targeting zero waste to landfill by 2030.
  • Reducing commuting: Introducing a hybrid work strategy which aims to reduce emissions from employee commuting by 15% per annum.
  • Championing gender equality: The company has made significant progress in achieving gender equality, with its’ senior leadership team now 66% female, with 34% female representation across the business generally. The company is also a signatory of the UN’s Women Empowerment Principles (WEP) which commits employers to equal pay for work of equal value, gender-responsive supply chain practices and zero tolerance against sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • Partnering with community stakeholders: SIRO is partnering with several community stakeholders including Open Doors, Junior Achievement Ireland or Employers for Change to promote inclusivity and equal opportunities in their workplace and the wider communities served by the company.
[1] Figure as of 1 August 2021.

“Long term success for all telecoms operators requires strategic transformation, including through embracing sustainability and committing to a long-term investment which not only contributes to the circular economy, but which will also reap numerous benefits in meeting customer needs, increasing efficiency, strengthening brands, and creating new business opportunities."

Ossian Smyth, Minister of State

“I look forward to engaging with SIRO and other telecoms operators to ensure that the sustainable solutions they apply in all aspects of their activities will allow for building competitive advantage and best in class innovation, while also helping to protect and preserve our natural ecosystems for future generations” - Minister Smyth commented. siro build team with new EV   According to SIRO CEO John Keaney: “Today’s launch is the culmination of several years’ work at SIRO, first to measure our outputs and impact on the environment and broader sustainability targets and second, to then act to become cleaner, greener and more sustainable as a leading Irish telecoms business." Mr Keaney stressed the urgency for action: “Change is never easy or convenient. Becoming sustainable and protecting both people and planet is no longer a choice, but an essential, enduring activity; one which business leaders must champion. Technology can be a great enabler of more sustainable living. SIRO’s 100% fibre broadband is empowering communities and businesses to become more sustainable in areas such as remote working and reduced commuting; smart homes and cities; enhanced business productivity reducing emissions and driving greater energy efficiency. SIRO’s fibre broadband network is also the cleanest broadband available today, using less energy than traditional copper networks and emitting significantly less harmful emissions. This further highlights the focus that all stakeholders must place on achieving a full fibre Ireland, not least because of the contribution it can make to Ireland meeting climate change and sustainability commitments”, added Mr. Keaney.  

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