Dutch news in brief, Friday 14 November 2008

14th November 2008, Comments 0 comments

Find out what’s the latest news in the Netherlands in the roundup of today’s press from Radio Netherlands.

14 November 2008

Integration Minister to go
The Dutch Labour Party leadership's decision to dismiss Housing and Integration Minister Ella Vogelaar is all over this morning's front pages, with most of the papers featuring pictures of a tired-looking Vogelaar at her final press conference.

According to AD, her dismissal is the result of a series of failures and clumsy acts, as well as an inability to deal effectively with the media.

In Trouw, Deputy Prime Minister Wouter Bos says: "she was unable to operate effectively and authoritatively on what may be the most important issue (integration, ed.) facing the Netherlands". Vogelaar was seen as 'soft' and too multi-cultural.

In an interview in Trouw in 2007, she said that she wanted Islam to take root in the Netherlands, so the country would eventually be based on Judeo-Christian and Islamic traditions, sparked outrage in parliament.

The last straw was her decision to drop plans to create a special register for Antillean problem youths. Her unilateral step went directly against the wishes of parliament, the government and most local councils.

In her press conference, Vogelaar said she would have liked to finish the job and criticised her party for focussing too much on a tough approach to the integration issue. Even though most papers agree that she was ineffective as a minister, there is also agreement that she was set up to fail.

AD writes that the minister was given a tough assignment - including the renewal of 40 problem districts in the main cities - but no means to carry it out. She had to plead with fellow ministers for cooperation and funds.

De Volkskrant reports that she will be succeeded by Eberhard van der Laan, the former leader of Labour in Amsterdam. Van der Laan is a lawyer and one of the founders of the law firm Kennedy van der Laan.

Shortage of child anaesthetists
De Volkskrant reports there is a serious shortage of child anaesthetists. A lack of expertise has led to two deaths in the past five years. The victims were given sleeping pills that proved to be too strong. A third child was left permanently disabled.
Paediatricians reportedly have major problems in anaesthetising children for painful or frightening procedures. Full narcosis is often too invasive and costly, but paediatricians are only authorised to administer a very mild anaesthetic. The intermediate form, which puts children in a deep sleep, can only be administered by specialised anaesthetists, of which there are few.

In practice, this means children are often given only the mild anaesthetic and forcibly held down during the procedure. The use of force during non-urgent procedures is a violation of the rights of the child. However, a spokesperson for the association Child and Hospital says that parents rarely protest: "It is not easy being assertive when your child is seriously ill".

The health care inspectorate has announced it will draw up guidelines, which will include a list of sleep-inducing drugs that are safe for children, to be administered by trained experts. The new guidelines will probably be introduced next year.

Amsterdam appoints storyteller
De Volkskrant reports of Amsterdam council's decision to appoint an official storyteller. Karel Baracs, aka the Storyman, is to bring the city's history, present and future accessible to a wide audience. In addition to take his inspiration from the city's official history, the storyteller is expected to actively search for stories doing the rounds in Amsterdam.

He will also mark festive occasions and holidays with stories especially create for the occasion. The Amsterdam council hopes the storyteller will appeal to people who are otherwise very difficult to reach and will make a contribution to increased understanding for "other lifestyles and customs".

Baracs, who previously worked in primary education for 16 years, has been a full-time storyteller since 1990. Each year at the Resistance Museum, he tells the story Why line 8 is no longer running, a true story about two women who took to heart the fate of Jewish children during the German occupation.

Police union calls for measures to reduce violent crime 
AD reports that the police want to "keep vandals on a short leash". The police union ACP is proposing a number of measures against notoriously violent people, which are seen as necessary to reduce the growing number of violent incidents.

The measures include house arrests, restraining orders and bans on contact with other troublemakers. The union also argues for the introduction of a 'mug shot book', which would make public the identity of the most notorious repeat offenders.

The petition will be presented to parliament and Interior Minister Guusje ter Horst next week.

ACP chairman Gerrit Kamp says it is high time the government acted to reduce the increasing number of violent incidents, including aggression against police officers and aid workers.

"An estimated 75 percent of all violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders. House arrests, restraining orders and a duty to report to the police at specific times can prevent certain people showing up at events or entertainment districts and cause trouble again.”

A recently published study shows that the number of violent incidents against police officers has trebled over the past 10 years.

Drunken train driver to fight dismissal
The drunken train driver who was removed from the intercity train from Amersfoort to Groningen on Tuesday says he is sorry about what happened.

The driver, whose blood alcohol level was four times the legal limit, still insists he was forced to make an emergency stop because somebody stood on the tracks at a railway crossing.

This person allegedly ran away after the train came to a halt, but railway police officers who happened to be on the train did not see anyone, and found out the driver had been drinking.

The driver, who says personal problems led to his drinking, admits that his behaviour was unacceptable. However, he says he will fight his dismissal. He argues that the railway company forced him to go back to work too soon after he called in sick.

[Radio Netherlands / Georg Schreuder Hes / Expatica]

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