Mary Mitchell O’Connor welcomes progress on redeployment of SNAs

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has today (Saturday) welcomed a recommendation from the Labour Court that a redeployment system should be introduced for Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) who find themselves out of work.
The Labour Court has recommended that a panel should be set up for SNAs who are made redundant, and those on the panel would then be given first offering of any vacancies that arise. At present, SNAs are not included in the Croke Park Agreement and therefore cannot avail of the redeployment options open to other public servants.
“As a former school principal I understand the plight faced by SNAs who are made redundant, and who can find it very difficult to secure new work. I warmly welcome the recommendations from the Labour Court for a panel to be set up for recently unemployed SNAs, which should make finding a new job much easier.
“SNAs provide an invaluable support in schools across the country, which is hugely important to parents and their children who benefit from the care provided. Many SNAs have invested heavily to get their qualifications, but can find themselves out of work when the pupils they care for move on. This proposed change would greatly enhance the job security of SNAs; something that is lacking at present.
“It’s important to add that the Government is committed to retaining SNA numbers this year, despite our difficult economic circumstances. We understand and value their contribution to our educational system.
“The exact details of the scheme now need to be worked out between the Department of Education and Skills, the trade unions involved and the management bodies. I hope they can come to a satisfactory conclusion in time for the new school year in September.

Let’s get the conversation started on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Organisations around the world are raising awareness, we must encourage older people to speak out.

Speaking on the eve of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day which takes place tomorrow (Friday), Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, commended the HSE, the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA), UCD and all of the organisations involved in working to shed light on the abuse and mistreatment of older people.

“Tomorrow marks World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. What better day to initiate the conversation about the mistreatment of older people?

“This is a subject that is very close to my heart and since coming to the Dáil I have been trying to do my bit to highlight the issue. I have hosted a briefing on elder abuse which was addressed by Age Action and will continue to use my position to talk about this harrowing subject.

“In 2010, the first Irish prevalence study on elder abuse was carried out by The National Centre for the Protection of Older People in UCD. Since then the work has been continuing, with a report entitled ‘Older People’s Experiences of Mistreatment and Abuse’ launched today by the Director of the National Centre for the Protection of Older People at UCD, Professor Gerard Fealy. This report tackles the issue head-on, taking account of the acts of abuse perpetrated on older people and their experience of same.

“Often, older people see themselves as a burden on and an inconvenience for those charged with their care, with the result that mental, verbal, physical and financial abuse is tolerated. The HSE has embarked on a campaign to highlight that elder abuse in all forms is unacceptable. Supports are in place to deal with this issue; it’s up to us to convey this fact to older people.

“2012 is the European Year of Positive Ageing and Inter-generational Solidarity. Let’s make tomorrow the day we open up the conversation about elder abuse and make this year the one we shine the global spotlight on older people to ensure that they are living abuse free lives and enjoying their latter years in the exact way they should.”

National Maritime Museum adds to rich cultural heritage of Dun Laoghaire

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has said the newly refurbished National Maritime Museum, which was officially opened today (Tuesday), adds to the rich cultural heritage of Dun Laoghaire; a town which is rightfully proud of its marine culture.

Deputy Mitchell O’Connor was speaking following the official launch of the refurbished National Maritime Museum which took place today in Dun Laoghaire, and which she attended. President Michael D Higgins officiated at the launch.

“The people of Dun Laoghaire are delighted to have this museum in the heart of town and are hugely appreciative of the volunteers who man it, who have a clear passion and interest in all things nautical.

“The museum opened in 1978 in the former Mariners’ Church in Haigh Terrace near the centre of the town. The church, which was built in 1837 for seafarers, remained open until 1971. Following that, the Church of Ireland and the Maritime Institute of Ireland signed an agreement that led to the museum’s opening.

“We are extremely lucky in Dun Laoghaire to have people who are willing to give up their free time for the betterment of their community as the volunteers in this case are, as without them the Maritime Museum could not open. Dun Laoghaire has an extremely rich maritime culture and heritage, which this newly refurbished museum adds to significantly.”

Mary Mitchell O’Connor wishes exams students the best of luck in the weeks ahead

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has wished all of those undertaking Leaving and Junior Certificate exams in the coming weeks the very best of luck.

Deputy Mitchell O’Connor went on to say that while the exams are an important milestone in a young person’s life, they are not the be-all and end-all of a person’s future.

“As a former school principal, and a mother, I am very well aware of the stress and pressure under which some students put themselves in the run up to, and during, exam time. People sitting exams in the coming weeks should recognise the feelings of nervousness they are experiencing as perfectly natural and should take the necessary steps, like focusing on their breathing before exams, to dispel them.

“There isn’t a person in the country that doesn’t empathise with students at this time of year. While these exams are significant, it must be remembered that there are now many routes available to students to get to where they want to be in life, regardless of these results.

“I wish all of those sitting the exam papers in the coming weeks the very best of luck and would urge them to set out a realistic study timetable for the days ahead and to ensure that they get plenty of rest and take good care of themselves.”