Council, Harbour Board and business association all focused on bright future for Dun Laoghaire harbour

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, said (27th March 2013) that everyone in Dun Laoghaire; the Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown County Council, the Harbour Company Board and local business associations are working together to develop Dun Laoghaire Harbour and to maximise its potential into the future.

Deputy Mitchell O’Connor was speaking following the publication yesterday by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Leo Varadkar TD, of the new National Ports Policy. The Policy sets out a plan to transfer the corporate governance and oversight of the Harbour from the Department to the County Council, which is best placed to meet the long-term future needs of the harbour.

“As the third largest ferry port in the State, Dun Laoghaire Harbour has moved away in recent years from commercial port-related business to focusing on developing tourism, marine and recreational related activities.

“The Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company has done an excellent job in developing long-term future plans for the Harbour. The Minister’s decision to extend full control to the local authority, by making it a separate legal entity with share capital, owned by the local authority, will allow for the mutually beneficial development of the Harbour down the line.

“There are so many exciting projects attached to the Harbour with up to 14 cruise vessels, including the Queen Mary II, planning to come to Dun Laoghaire following a successful marketing campaign in the US by the Dun Laoghaire Cruise Stakeholder Group. This effort to develop the tourism potential of the Harbour will help it to maximise the use of the Harbour, and with an estimated additional 30,000 passengers and crew set to come ashore, the benefits for the town will be significant.

“The Dun Laoghaire Harbour Master Plan, which was published in 2011, aimed at increasing the tourism potential of the Harbour and getting the best out of what we have to offer. Proposals have already been put to An Bord Pleanála for the construction of a new quay that would be able to cater for larger vessels, to allow Dun Laoghaire to harness an increasing amount of tourism market share.

“The Gathering represents a brilliant opportunity for people who have an interest in Ireland to pay a visit to our shores. With a host of conferences taking place at the Harbour, including the diaspora and the bratacha (flag) conference, all minds are focused on how best to develop Dun Laoghaire Harbour as a cultural amenity, a tourist attraction and a marine and leisure amenity.”

Education Committee to consider whole school approaches to mental health and bullying

The Joint Committee on Education and Social Protection, on which Mary Mitchell O’Connor is a member, will tomorrow consider how best to bolster whole school approaches to mental health and bullying. Officials from the Department of Education and Skills and the Children’s Mental Health Coalition will present to the Committee.

Committee Vice-Chair Aodhán Ó Riordáin TD says: “Tomorrow we will explore how to embed effective whole school approaches to ensure development of positive mental health among all school goers. Department officials are expected to update the Committee on the wide range of work currently being undertaken to tackle and prevent bullying in Irish schools. The Children’s Mental Health Coalition, which is chaired by Colm O’Gorman of Amnesty International Ireland, comprises 45 organisations and is working to ensure that every child’s right to mental health is realised. The Committee look forward to hearing from both perspectives on the work being done in Irish schools to foster a supportive and caring school environment in an integrated way.”

Separately, the Committee will meet with representatives from Arthritis Ireland who will discuss the costs of absenteeism arising from Muscoskeletal Disorders.

Deputy Ó Riordáin continues: “Arthritis Ireland representatives will address the Committee tomorrow on Muscoskeletal Disorders, which are a leading cause of absenteeism in the Irish workforce. They are expected to present worrying statistics on the levels of work days lost per year as a result of MSDs and the corresponding impact on the social welfare system. We look forward to exploring what measures can be put in place to reduce absenteeism and produce significant savings for the Exchequer.

The public session of this meeting takes place from 1pm tomorrow Wednesday 27 March in Committee Room 3, LH 2000.
Committee proceedings can be followed live here.

Mary Mitchell O’Connor and Dun Laoghaire IADT bring experts together to address cyberbullying

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, in conjunction with the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art Design and Technology (IADT) brought a range of national and international experts together on Saturday 23rd March to address the issue of cyberbullying at a conference entitled ‘Dealing With Cyberbullying: A Practical Approach’.

“The prevalence of cyberbullying and the affect is having on our young people especially cannot be ignored. Computer technology is the source of so much good in our lives and we must encourage the positive use of social media, in particular, so that young and old can continue have their lives enriched through the constructive use of computers.

“I, together with the IADT, co-hosted the Dealing With Cyberbullying: A Practical Approach Conference with a view to bringing a number of national and international experts together to examine the best way forward in dealing with this issue. The conference was targeted at second level schools and those dealing with young people and aimed to provide advice and support on cyberbullying and related issues.

“The topics for consideration at the one day conference centred around the European guidelines for preventing cyberbullying in the school environment; homophobic bullying, which the Government has been attempting to address in recent months; and the role of bystanders in combatting cyberbullying. Speakers will also look at the issue of sexting and the grooming of children online.

“We all have a role to play in stamping out this harmful practice. Children are sensitive enough when growing up without dealing with online harassment and all that goes with it. Parents, school and community organisations need to inform themselves about the best ways of protecting our children online and we need to teach them how, in turn, to behave when using social media.

“I found it very interesting to hear the contributors to the conference who were drawing on the most up-to-date research in this field. If we all work together and take the necessary steps we can eradicate cyberbullying. Getting the message out there that we will not stand idly by and let this intimidation go unchecked is key, this conference is a step in that direction.”

Down Syndrome Ireland Celebrate World Down Syndrome Day.

ADULTS with Down syndrome from across the country celebrated World Down Syndrome Day today at the iconic Mansion House in Dublin.

The adults, aged between 18-45, are all participating in a unique literacy programme called LATCH-ON which is being rolled out by Down Syndrome Ireland across its educational centres.

The theme of this year’s World Down Syndrome Day is Lifelong Learning and in keeping with this DSI is currently rolling out a two-year programme specifically aimed at developing long-term and post-school skills for people with Down syndrome.

It is the first time the programme, which was developed by the School of Education at the prestigious University of Queensland, Australia, has been rolled out in Europe.

It began on a pilot basis last March and will be rolled out across 13 centres at a cost of €1million by the end of 2013.

More than 160 students will complete the programme by year end which will help them live more independent lives.

Longitudinal studies conducted at the University of Queensland on individuals with Down syndrome have revealed they do not in fact plateau in their development at the age of 12 which was previously widely believed to be the case.

This critical research highlights how teachers and professionals often do not know the potential of these people until they are provided with opportunities to develop their learning lifelong.

On this basis LATCH-ON was developed to provide greater opportunities for adults with Down syndrome to continue their literacy development in a post-secondary environment, using computer technology to enhance literacy, self-confidence, independence and employment opportunities.

The highly successful two-year post-school programme is unlike other literacy programmes for typically developed individuals and research has shown that it significantly improves students’ literacy and enhances their overall confidence in life.

Among those who have benefited from the programme is 28-year-old Amy Purcell from Kildare who is fulfilling her lifelong dream of being able to read and write and send text messages to her nephews and nieces for the first time.

Pat Clarke, Chief Executive of Down Syndrome Ireland, whose son David is enrolled in the programme, said: “The United Nations made 2003 – 2012 the decade for literacy and as literacy is a basic human right, we believe Irish people with Down syndrome have been ignored for far too long when it comes to our educational system. Educational opportunities depend on literacy and as we know literacy is the bedrock for basic education for all.”

He went onto say: “People with Down syndrome are still perceived as the eternal children. We want to change perceptions of them through education. If we attain this goal it will enable employers to view people with Down syndrome as potential employees.We have seen great achievements from this world class programme of education and sincerely hope it will enhance many people’s learning skills.”

Grainne Murphy, Director of Policy, Ethics and Independence with DSI said: “Latch-On has a strong foundation in educational research and practice. DSI is developing a community of practice – a community with literacy links to other social endeavours that assist in the development of lifelong learners,”

The students and their teachers from 13 educational centres across the country gathered at the Mansion House yesterday on World Down Syndrome Day.

Special guests included journalist and author Sylvia Thompson, author Tom Clonan and author Michael Gannon who has Down syndrome. Michael read  a poignant passage from his book ‘Straight Up No Sugar’.

Mary Mitchell O’Connor welcomes reform of outdated in camera rule

Modernising family law structure will bring greater transparency while protecting need for privacy.

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has welcomed the publication on 19th March by the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter TD, of the Courts Bill 2013. The Bill will see the in camera rule, which prevents members of the public from sitting in on family court hearings being altered.

“The in camera rule, while designed to take account of the sensitive nature of family law proceedings, is outdated and in need of reform. The publication today of this Bill by Minister Shatter will pave the way for bona fide members of the press to attend family court hearings, while continuing to pay heed to the delicate nature of family law cases and the need for privacy to be respected.

“This will allow for greater transparency in how cases are conducted and will give the public an understanding of how the family courts operate. We are entering a new era in terms of child protection in this country and this legislation will help to remove the element of secrecy that has existed until now when family law and child care proceedings are being heard.

“The Programme for Government commits to modernising aspects of family law and I am happy that the Minister is taking action in this regard. The Courts will still retain the power to exclude representatives of the press from proceedings and to instruct journalists about what can and cannot be reported. In all cases, it will be prohibited to publicise any material which identifies the parties to the case or the children who are central to proceedings.

“Family law cases are never easy and involve a considerable amount of stress and upset for those involved. I first raised this issue with Minister Shatter last July and am happy that so much progress has been made on the issue since that time. I will be continuing to press him on other areas of the family courts’ structure which I feel are in need of attention. The Government has given approval, in principle, for a referendum to be held on the restructuring of the Courts, which could see the establishment of a new, separate Family Court structure. This would, I believe, result in a far superior service for families and for child care proceedings down the line.”

We love this video about Dun Laoghaire!

Have a look at this video showing some of the many wonderful things about Dun Laoghaire and add a Like!

This film is the winning entrant from the Dublin & North East Regional Final.  It takes a look at Dun Laoghaire, highlighting local amenities while interviewing locals asking them what they like about the area. Produced by students from Colaiste Iosagain ( Mary Ann ni Riain, Nicki Ni Uaid, Hannah Ni Mhaitiu, and Aoife Nic an Mhanaigh).

Well done!

Dun Laoghaire video on YouTube


Upgrading Dalkey island slipway will increase access and make berthing safer – Mary Mitchell O’Connor


Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has welcomed the approval by the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council of the report which proposed the upgrade of the slipway at Dalkey Island.

Deputy O’Connor said works will result in a safer environment for sailors, fishermen, tourists and those using the harbour for recreational activities.

“At a meeting of the Council yesterday the Proposed Upgrade to the Slipway at Dalkey Island report was approved, which paves the way for the necessary and long overdue works to be carried out. The proposed development will see the upgrading of the existing slipway and pier on the western end of Dalkey Island, which will bring an end to the difficulties currently being experienced by those using the harbour, especially at low tide.

“The works will involve the slipway being slabbed to make for safer surface. Steps will also be provided to enable easier movement from the slip to the pier deck; the construction of which is currently very poor. Access steps on the island will also be widened and previously placed mooring rings and handrails, which have corroded, are to be replaced.
“The positioning of a handrail along the northern side of the slip, pier and steps, will also make it easier and safer for people to go about their business, as will a galvanised ladder and a steel pole at the seawards end of the slipway which will act as a navigation aid.

“The fact that a Habitat’s Directive Screening Report did not detect any significant impact on the local flora or fauna as a result of carrying out the works is good news. If we are to make the most of our harbours and to encourage their active use, we must ensure that they are accessible and can be used safely by everyone. I look forward to these works being completed and to the benefits they will bring for the people of Dun Laoghaire and beyond.”

State of the Nation’s Children Report

The State of the Nations Children’s Report has been published.  Compiled by the Dept of Children and Youth Affairs in association with the Central Statistics Office and the Health Promotion Research Centre at National University of Ireland, Galway, it presents administrative, survey and census data on children’s lives.

Some of the key findings include –

– The child population of Ireland increased by 13.4% between 2002 and 2011 (Census of the Population, 2011).
– Approximately 1 in 6 children in Ireland live in a lone-parent household.
– Almost 6% of the child population in Ireland have a disability.
– There has been a significant decrease in the percentage of 15-year-old children who report that their parents discuss with them how well they are doing at school.
– There has been a significant decrease in the percentage of 15-year-old children who report that their parents eat a main meal with them around a table.
– The percentage of children aged 10-17 who report never smoking has increaded from 50.8% in 1998 to 73.5% in 2010.
– The percentage of children aged 10-17 who report never having had an alcoholic drink increased from approximately 40% in 2002 to 54% in 2010.
– Children in Ireland have one of the highest levels of physical activity among 40 WHO countries and regions.
– 83.6% of newborn babies were visited by a Public Health Nurse within 48 hours of discharge from hospital for the first time.



Click here to download the document.

National Spring Clean 2013 Comes to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown

As this year is the 15th Anniversary of An Taisce’s National Spring Clean, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council is encouraging everyone to do their bit to make it even bigger and better. Local residents can once again play a part in keeping their community tidy by participating in the Annual Spring Clean which runs through the month of April.

The Council is supporting this important campaign by providing litter pickers and gloves, and will be arranging extra resources to pick up waste from weekend clean-ups in April. Groups who wish to be involved in the National Spring Clean should nominate a particular weekend in April for their area so that the Council can schedule a pickup on the following Monday or Tuesday.

Groups participating in the National Spring Clean must register in advance with the Council. Participants must also use the clean up bags that are provided by the Council which will be registered to your clean-up team. Waste presented in bags that are not provided by the Council will not be collected. Green waste is not eligible for collection.

All you have to do to register your community clean-up, is email or ring the Council with your choice of weekend: or 01 205 4817. You can choose from April 6/7, 13/14, 20/21 or the 27/28.

Don’t forget

Participants must also use the clean up bags that are provided by the Council which will be registered to your clean-up team. If waste is presented and it is not in blue Council bags – the Council will not collect this waste.

Green waste (grass cuttings, hedge trimmings, branches, etc.) – the Council will not collect this waste.