HSE review of autism services open for submissions

ASD affects many adults and children across the constituency. I want to encourage people with autism spectrum disorder, parents and clinicians to make submissions to a HSE review of autism supports and services. I want to ensure that people with ASD in Dun Laoghaire have access to the necessary supports to enable them to reach their full potential and live rich and fulfilling lives.

I recognise the need for a strategic approach to enhancing the responsiveness and effectiveness of local services to meet the evolving needs of people with ASD.

Following feedback from the constituency, I have been in constant communication with my Cabinet colleague, Minister for Health Simon Harris, highlighting the need for such a review. The HSE has set up a working group to consider the effectiveness of existing services, to identify models of good practice among such services and to identify practice models that are not having a positive impact.

It is important that we identify where in the country services are operating well and where they are not. The HSE has now invited submissions from service users, parents and practitioners and I want to encourage people to take the opportunity to have their voices heard.

“Three workshops will also be held in September with key advocates and NGOs: Disability Federation of Ireland; the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies and Inclusion Ireland and the working group will report on its findings by the end of September.

The Department of Health will initiate an epidemiological research study into the prevalence and future projections for autism spectrum disorder later this year to allow us to plan for the future and future-proof our strategies for people with autism.

Following the advancement of this work, the Minister has told me he intends to proceed next year with a national strategy for enhancing the health service response to people with ASD.

Further information on the review, including how to make your submission, can be found here 

The closing date for submissions is 12 September 2017.

€4 million Capital Fund announced for Community Youth Groups

There is good news for community youth groups today following the announcement of the establishment of a €4 million capital fund which will be made available to volunteer led youth groups, to allow them to purchase equipment that will support their work in the community

Volunteer led youth groups are at the heart of every town and village in Ireland. Up and down the country there are groups bringing sport, theatre and arts, music, adventure, technology and so many other activities to the young people of their community. It is important that these are recognised and that funding is made available to support the equipment needs of such clubs.

As a parent, former teacher and Principal, I know how many children across Dun Laoghaire have benefitted from access to activities through community youth groups. We cannot underestimate the importance of these groups in a child’s development, mentally, physically and socially.

I welcome the news that this funding is to be made available and encourage volunteer led youth groups, across the constituency, who are in need of equipment to apply. Over 1,500 clubs across the country will be eligible to apply for this funding. The application process is expected to open in late September and I will share further details as they become available.

Over €183,600 Extra Funding for Childcare Services in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown

Childcare services in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown are to receive €183,653.26 in extra funding, Fine Gael Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has said.

The financial boost comes at a key moment in Ireland’s move to accessible affordable quality childcare.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor said: “I am delighted to announce that local childcare services will receive over €183,600 in extra funding.

“The money will be used to provide more than new childcare places, maintenance and building work as well as outdoor play areas and is available for immediate draw-down by providers across Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County.

“A total of 17 grants have been made to providers in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown across three strands of funding. Some of these are to individual facilities and providers, others are to larger companies with multiple facilities across the County.

“I hold the provision of quality, affordable and accessible childcare as a very highest priority, ensuring local children get the very best start in life. As a former teacher, and as a mother and grandmother, I know how important the foundations to education that are laid in a child’s early years are.

“My Government colleague, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, said €8.4m in capital funding has been allocated through the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to 683 pre-school providers nationwide; an increase in €4,4m on the amount announced for this programme in March 2017.

“This funding will benefit children, families and providers under our Early Years programmes, and will contribute to the development of an infrastructure that is ready to meet the radical new approach to subsidising childcare outlined in Budget 2017.

“Since first entering Government, Fine Gael has prioritised hard pressed working families; the people who bore the brunt of the economic recession. A major part of this has been to reduce the cost of childcare for working parents.

“We introduced the free pre-school year, and subsequently extended it to a second year. It is estimated the extended scheme provides an average saving of €4,000 per child.

“We also recently introduced paternity leave for the first time ever. Dads are now entitled to two weeks’ paid leave.
“From September an estimated 70,000 children nationwide will get extra supports. This will really benefit families in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown.

“Families will benefit in two ways. First there is a universal support for all children aged 3 and under then there are supports for those families who need it most.

“The second targeted support is based on income and also for those parents who have had to turn down jobs, training and education because they cannot afford childcare.

“I encourage parents in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown to take the time to study the increased supports which are available and prepare for the autumn, by checking out the new website www.affordablechildcare.ie or by talking to staff at your local childcare centre.

Speech at the opening of the 2017 Summer School in Celtic Studies

  A dhaoine uaisle. Tá an-áthas orm a bheith anseo inniu le Scoil Shamhraidh na hInsitiúide Ard Léinn a oscailt go foirmeálta. Cuireann sé gliondar orm daoine as gach cearn den domhan a fheiceáil cruinnithe anseo i lárionad domhanda an Léinn Cheiltigh lena gcuid eolais ar an ábhar seo a leathnú agus le blaiseadh de shaol agus de chultúr na hÉireann. Continue reading

Minister Mitchell O’Connor welcomes strong improvement in Ireland’s competitiveness performance

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D., today (Thursday June 1st) welcomed the findings of the IMD’s 2017 Global Competitiveness Yearbook which shows that Ireland’s competitiveness ranking has improved by one place this year and Ireland is now the 6th most competitive economy as benchmarked by the IMD. Within the EU and Euro area Ireland is the second most competitive economy. This is Ireland’s best competitiveness ranking as benchmarked by the IMD, since 2000. Continue reading

Knowledge Development Box (Certification of Inventions) Act 2017 comes into force and now extends to SMEs

Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor has announced the commencement of an Act for a certification scheme aimed at inventions developed by SMEs. The scheme comes within the Knowledge Development Box initiative announced in the Finance Act, 2015.

Announcing the scheme the Minister said “this is a good day for innovative SMEs involved in research and development that results in valuable Intellectual Property (IP) assets”.

Under the scheme, SMEs can apply to the Controller of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks for a certificate where they believe that their IP generated as a result of R&D is novel, non-obvious and useful. If granted, the certificate will allow the SME to apply the lower rate of corporation tax of 6.25% to profits arising from the intellectual property assets.

Evidence shows that investment in R&D increases economic productivity and fosters competitiveness and that firms with a persistent R&D strategy outperform those with an irregular or no R&D investment program.

Welcoming the scheme the Minister said “R&D can be very expensive and time consuming and not all R&D is successful. SMEs that invest in R&D will now be able to benefit from the lower rate of corporation tax if their IP meets the criteria of being novel, non-obvious and useful. I expect that the extension of the KDB to Irish SMEs will incentivise greater levels of R&D within the indigenous sector and that with greater levels of R&D, increased job creation will follow which is a key priority of mine.”

Welcoming the scheme, the Minister for Employment and Small Business, Mr Pat Breen TD, said “it places SMEs on a par with larger companies by making them for eligible for a lower rate of corporation tax on profits from their IP assets. I welcome this additional support and anticipate that it will encourage our indigenous SMEs to be more creative.

The Minister for Training, Skills and Innovation, John Halligan TD, said “Promoting innovation is a key focus for me in my role as Minister for Innovation and I believe this Act offers SMEs valuable opportunities to invest in greater levels of R&D”.

Pitney Bowes Invests in Dublin Creating 100 Jobs

Pitney Bowes Inc., a global technology company, has today announced plans to open a new Operations Centre in Dublin that will house a three-year multi-million euro R&D project focused on developing a next generation e-commerce and payments platform for global brands.

The new Operations Centre will comprise a Client Support Centre and Research & Design Centre, creating approximately 100 new jobs for technical support, customer support and e-commerce R&D professionals in the region over the next few years.

As global commerce continues to grow, the platform being developed at the Research & Design Centre in Dublin will create opportunities for merchants to reach consumers around the world and expand into new markets at speed.

The Client Support Centre is part of Pitney Bowes’ global strategy to deliver its clients the best support as more organisations, including 90 per cent of the Fortune 500, rely on its solutions and services to power global commerce. The technical support and customer support professionals will serve clients located in the UK, Ireland and Nordic regions.

Pitney Bowes’ investment in Dublin is supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through IDA Ireland. Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor said, “I’m delighted that Pitney Bowes are opening a new Operations Centre which will create 100 new jobs and are investing in a high value strategic R&D project. We in Government are working to make Ireland an attractive destination for global technology companies such as Pitney Bowes. Our economy is an open and business friendly one with a minimum of administrative hurdles. We strive to ensure that we have the requisite skills available to meet the needs of industry and this is paying off. I wish Pitney Bowes every success with their Client Support Centre and their R&D project.”

“Dublin’s rich mix of client services talent and language skills, combined with the excellent support that we’ve received from IDA Ireland make it a great place for us to locate our client support operation as well as our innovation team,” said Audrey Lynch, Director of Client Operations for Europe at Pitney Bowes Inc. “Our clients turn to us around the clock to power billions of transactions globally, and ensuring they receive the best account and technical support is a strategic priority for us. This new facility will help us deliver on our promise to clients in the UK, Ireland and Nordics.”

Martin Shanahan, CEO of IDA Ireland said: “Ireland’s diverse multilingual talent pool and pro-business infrastructure make Ireland the ideal destination for companies like Pitney Bowes. I am delighted that they have chosen to establish both a customer support centre and a high value R&D project in Ireland. I wish the company every success and offer the continued support of IDA Ireland in the future.”

Pitney Bowes currently operates in Dublin a Global Ecommerce centre, supporting cross-border retail for many of the world’s most iconic retailers and brands. The new Pitney Bowes Client Support Centre team will be located alongside their Global Ecommerce colleagues in Fitzwilliam Square West, Dublin and builds on the company’s continued investment in the region.

In 2016 Ireland’s economy grew by 5.2 per cent, outstripping all other Eurozone countries and nearly all official forecasts. A growing number of multinational companies are continuing to choose the region as a base for locating either their European hubs or regional customer support facilities.

Clonkeen College

I am vehemently opposed to Christian Brothers’ plan to sell off the majority of the playing fields site at Clonkeen College to a developer.

In the past fortnight, I have met with the School Principal and Deputy Principal to discuss the situation. Following those discussions, I wrote to Brother Garvey and to Minister Bruton seeking a resolution. I have received a response from Brother Garvey and have passed that on to the Chairman of the Board of Management. I also requested a meeting with Brother Garvey but he has yet to respond to that request. This morning, along with Cllr. Patricia Stewart and my Special Adviser, I met with members of the Board of Management and advised them that they should urgently seek legal representation.

Clonkeen College has a long history of using these fields and, under the principle of promissory estoppel, they have an understanding that they can continue to use this land in this way into the future. There has been significant investment on the site, both on the school building but also the recently concluded drainage, seeding and fencing of the playing fields themselves. This investment needs to be protected.

These playing fields are absolutely irreplaceable in the locality. There are no alternatives; the fields are a significant public amenity as well as being vital to the wellbeing and fitness of the school students, and a key resource for their physical education. The school community and the community of the greater area would be adversely affected if this land was to be sold.

The Christian Brothers justify the sale of the lands by saying the money is needed to make their outstanding payment to redress scheme. Why these lands? Why penalise the children of Clonkeen College, current and future to pay for the sins of members of the Christian Brothers congregation in the past? It is unacceptable.

I will continue to work with the school and the Minister for Education and Skills to explore every avenue to protect these pitches.

 

 

Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor welcomes continuing strong growth in employment

Almost 70,000 more people at work since this time last year

More than 3 out of every 4 new jobs created were outside Dublin

Unemployment falling in all regions

23rd May 2017

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor today (Tuesday) welcomed the latest Quarterly National Household Survey figures from the Central Statistics Office, showing that employment continues to increase strongly with 69,600 more people employed at the end of Q1 2017.

Importantly, there has been strong growth in the number of people full time employed while part time employment continues to fall.

The figures also show that there are now 2,063,900 people at work in Ireland.
This is the 19th quarter in succession where unemployment has declined.

The figures from the CSO today also show that unemployment continues to fall in all regions.

Employment grew in 11 out of 14 economic sectors – the largest annual increases were recorded in the industry sector (increase of 15,300 jobs), construction (increase of 10,900 jobs), and accommodation and food services (increase of 9,900 jobs)

Speaking today, Minister Mary Mitchell O’ Connor said: These figures are very positive and show that we are heading in the right direction towards full employment. The figures show that businesses right across the country are employing and that Government policies are working. It is very important for me to see the growth in employment is broad based, both sectorally and regionally. This is a key priority for me as every job that is created is transforming people’s lives.

Mary Mitchell O’Connor Statement on Fine Gael Leadership

With Minister Varadkar in 2016 as we announced that the live register had dropped below 300,000 for the first time since the economic crash.

The last Government, Enda Kenny’s Government, did phenomenal work for this country. It pulled us back from the brink of calamity. It regained sovereignty for this Republic, ended once again the scourge of forced youth emigration and it acted on social issues that had been ignored, feared and disregarded by previous administrations.

Now we need to build on, march on and improve because significant challenges remain.

Challenges at home and abroad, economically and socially. We need new, renewed leadership to deal with these challenges. Leadership that is energetic and inspiring.

Leadership that can protect and promote our interests on the international stage, that can ensure we continue to guard the economic gains we have made in the last seven years and that has the vision to continue to transform Ireland into a modern, progressive European state.

I said yesterday that the upcoming contest needs to be about which candidate can provide us with a 21st century version of the Just Society.

I believe that person is Leo Varadkar.

He has proven he can lead, not just manage. He has proven he has the skill to communicate a vision to the public, the capacity to make bold decisions and the political courage to tell people what they need, not necessarily just what they want to hear.

He is man of integrity, of ability, of passion and of steel. He is a man who is guided by strong principles. That work should be rewarded, that opportunity should be equal and that big ideas are required to deal with big problems.

He is right person to lead this party, and more importantly, this country

From 2011 to today, Enda Kenny led governments that, to paraphrase Leo Varadkar, succeeded in keeping our flag flying.

Now it’s time for the next generation of leadership to not only keep that flag flying, but define what it is flying for.