Pre-draft Consultation Submission on Blackrock Local Area Plan

Please read below my submission on Blackrock Local Area Plan.

Pre-draft Consultation Submission on Blackrock Local Area Plan

As the local elected representative for the Dun Laoghaire constituency, it is with great pleasure that I welcome the start of the Local Area Plan process for Blackrock town. This offers an invaluable opportunity for the communities of Blackrock to contribute by providing valuable input that will positively shape the future of our town.

Below are the main issues I feel should be given strong consideration in the Local Area Plan:

  1. Although it is a seaside town, one would not notice this upon first arrival. Our prime location needs to be better highlighted.
  2. Access to the seashore is restricted by the railway line.  If the current pedestrian bridge is improved, perhaps people will be more incentivised to avail of our prime coastal location.
  3. The re-development of both the Frascati and Blackrock Shopping Centre sites would bring a welcome boost to both local consumers and retailers.
  4. Re-establish the provision of S2S in as far as possible.
  5. Bicycles for rent could also be made available around the Dart station, allowing people to cycle along the coastline and enjoy the sea view.
  6. Shop front design and signage could be improved in the town.
  7. The Main Street could be more welcoming and vibrant if more trees and flowers were included.
  8. Substandard quality of the public areas on Main Street, Bath Place, Georges Street and Rock Hill, in particular the condition of the pathways, kerbing and street surfaces.
  9. Current lack of appealing outdoor meeting space that could be used for social gatherings or markets. Current market area needs to be improved.
  10. Put unsightly electrical cables beyond Main Street underground.
  11. Blackrock could become more village like by encouraging more artisan, specialist local shops and boutiques.
  12. Improvement of public parking provision. Current Council car parks are quite badly maintained. A possible alternative would be the construction of a multi storey car park in the town.
  13. Need incentives to encourage landlords to short term rent idle retail units to start-up companies or established businesses looking to set up in Blackrock
  14. Consider new traffic plan for part of the main street that was converted many years ago to a one way street. The current system negatively affects retail businesses along this route. If this route was re-opened it would act also as an alternative route option for commuters to Dun Laoghaire. This would ease traffic on the Rock bypass for those wanting to use the coast road to get to Dun Laoghaire and at the same time drive more people into Blackrock and increase levels of trade
  15. Improvement of Blackrock by-pass so it is more aesthetically pleasing, i.e. planting.
  16. Re-development of former Blackrock Baths site in preparation of the planned welcome urban beach at this location.
  17. Explore possibility of opening section of Blackrock Park nearest the town at Rockhill. This would make the Park more visible and accessible to the town as was outlined in the Blackrock Park Master Plan.
  18. The vibrancy of the town would be ensured if a renewed effort to support a ‘living over the shop’ scheme was included in the LAP.
  19. Increased emphasis is needed on ensuring that the large and vital number of office blocks and other office accommodation is maintained. These offices provide jobs and support local businesses.
  20. There is currently no delineation between the business areas and the resident’s homes in zoned E lands in Brookfield Terrace. These need to be clearly separated.
  21. There is an opportunity for the Council to create a wider walkway between the station and Blackrock Park by acquiring some of the land from the Deepwell on Rockhill property that abuts the laneway between the DART station and Blackrock Park.
  22. Consider deleting QBC as shown on the map for Rockhill and Main Street.
  23. Building height restrictions should be included in the LAP for future developments.
  24. Recent flooding incidents in the town have illustrated how vulnerable the town can become to such weather problems. Defence measures should be considered and incorporated into any plans drawn up for future development.
  25. A new street furniture scheme should be included in the plan for the town centre.
  26. Free Wi-Fi in the town would be a very modern and advantageous feature for the town. It would improve both the locals and tourists experience of Blackrock.
  27. The history and culture of the town has and should continue to play an important role in shaping and developing the town’s image and features. They should be incorporated in some way into the plan.
  28. It would be worthwhile including the existing residential areas of Maretimo/Newtown Avenue as far as Seapoint Avenue in the LAP area as these are some of the nearest residents to the town centre.
  29. I would welcome proposals on how to increase the number of on street parking spaces in the town.
  30. Consideration should be given to redesign and improve the road design in the section of the Blackrock by pass from its junction with George’s Avenue to the junction with Carysfort Avenue.
  31. Increase cycle parking around the town.

I trust these suggestions will be given strong consideration. I look forward to the next stage of the Local Area Plan process.

Yours sincerely,

Mary Mitchell O’Connor

Child and Family Agency will help to ensure failings of the past do not reoccur

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has said the new Child and Family Agency, which was launched by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD, and the Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald TD today (Thursday), will help to ensure the failings of the past do not reoccur.

“The establishment of the new Child and Family Agency is a progressive step forward towards ensuring the protection, safety and rights of children. Our previously fragmented child protection services will be unified in this new single body, ensuring more cohesive and effective care.

“The Louise O’Keefe case is just the latest in a long legacy of failings of the State and its institutions. While we cannot presume it is possible to prevent every case of child abuse, we can ensure our systems are working better, intervening earlier and responding quicker to issues of concern as they arise.

“The new Agency will allow for the seamless integration of policy and service delivery, rather than the fragmented system of the past. Child protection services will be taken away from the overburdened health service, and for the first time education welfare and family support services will be brought together with child protection and welfare.

“The harsh reality is that child and family welfare was not treated as a priority in Ireland in the past. Now it will be the sole focus of a single Government agency. The establishment of the Child and Family Agency, together with a range of other legislative changes, means that child protection is something that we all have a responsibility for; it’s not something that we can simply devolve to professionals.

“Children and families in difficulty deserve a second chance. The new Agency will help to ensure that no child is overlooked, and will ensure we respond more quickly when families are in trouble, so a crisis can be avoided. For the first time, child and family social workers, family support workers and education welfare officers will all work together on the same team to protect children and support families. This will help prevent children from falling through gaps in services, as happened too many times in the past.

“The agency will be known as TUSLA, which comes from the Irish for new day, or new dawn. The name aptly reflects the new beginning this Agency represents. The establishment of the Agency is a huge undertaking; it will have over 4,000 staff and a budget of more than €600 million. Minister Fitzgerald deserves to be commended for her work in delivering this major reform in how we care for vulnerable children.”

Third Level Students: An Invitation to a New Economic Policy Competition

The Department of Finance, in association with the Trinity Economic Forum, is pleased to announce a new economic policy competition open to all third level students in Ireland.
The competition will support active citizens eager to play their part in crafting the Ireland in which they wish to live and work, by giving them the opportunity to propose their own unique policy idea. The competition will allow third level students to submit their policy proposition, based on sound economic analysis, with the winner of the competition being offered a summer internship within the Department.
‘The Department of Finance Award for Economic Policy Advancement’ competition is open to all students across all third level institutions in Ireland. The competition will involve submitting a 150-word summary with a supporting 1500 word submission on one of two policy questions.

  • Ireland has emerged from the EU-IMF programme with a legacy of both high household and public debt. Bearing in mind the implications of elevated public and private indebtedness, what strategies can be deployed to encourage economic growth in Ireland?


  • The labour market response to the financial crisis has been particularly pronounced in Ireland relative to elsewhere in Europe. Taking into account the existing policy measures available, what strategy would you propose to reduce the current rate of unemployment to a more normal level?

The competition will be run in conjunction with the Trinity Economic Forum (TEF) and will accept submissions from February 17th until March 14th 2014. The forum is a two-day student forum, held in Trinity and sponsored by PwC. It brings together students from all third-level institutions in Ireland to participate in interactive discussions with high-calibre speakers. In 2014, the forum will welcome Fiona Muldoon (Central Bank of Ireland), Professor Casey Mulligan (University of Chicago, author of ‘The Redistribution Recession’) and Professor Martin Hellwig (Max Planck Institute, co-author of ‘The Bankers’ New Clothes’). The forum also will facilitate policy workshops that provide students with unique insights in preparing for the policy competition.
Speaking at the launch Secretary General of the Department, John Moran, said that the new competition showed the Department was committed to collaborating with third-level institutions which would be essential in ensuring new economic thinking is to the fore in the development of Ireland’s society and the economy.
“I am delighted to continue the Department’s link with the Trinity Economic Forum this year by launching the Department of Finance Award for Policy Advancement. This will give students all over the country the opportunity to use their analytical skills and innovative ideas which will directly feed into the economic thinking of the Department” said Mr. Moran. 
Gary Finnerty, coordinator of the Trinity Economic Forum, said the competition would offer students an opportunity to provide their own input into policy making in Ireland, and engage with policy-makers in a proactive way.
“This project will reinforce TEF’s unique role as a platform for students to involve themselves directly in the major policy questions facing Ireland today and in the future. We are excited to be working with the Department to create a way in which students can get their ideas heard and an opportunity to create new policies and reinvigorate established ones”, said Mr Finnerty.
The forum will take place on February 14th and 15th 2014 and the competition will accept submissions fromFebruary 17th until March 14th 2014.
Please follow @IRLDeptFinance #intern for updates. Queries can be sent to


Mitchell O’Connor to host free conference for SMEs in Killiney

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD, Mary Mitchell O’Connor will host the first of a series of free conferences aimed at supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Killiney on Tuesday, 4th February. The conference will focus on how small businesses can do more to win public contracts.

“Small businesses are the driving force of the Irish economy, and they are playing a huge role in getting this country back on track. Last year I organised a conference for SMEs called ‘Listening to Small Businesses’ and this year I am hosting a series of free conferences to help support small enterprises.

“The first of these meetings will be held in Killiney on February 4th, and will focus on giving SMEs the information they need on how they can take full advantage of public tenders. The State spends about €9 billion every year on services and supplies which are put out to public tender. Small businesses should be making every effort to get a slice of this market, but a significant majority of SMEs have yet to even register on the eTender’s website

“Through the Action Plan for Jobs, the Government wants to help SMEs to improve their chances of winning public procurement projects. This helps to support local enterprise and boost job creation. 

“I am hoping to maximise the opportunities for local businesses to win more tenders, and for this reason I have invited the Minister of State at the Office of Public Works, Brian Hayes TD, to address the first conference in Killiney. Public procurement falls under Minister Hayes’ remit, so he will therefore be able to provide some practical advice on how the system works and what companies should bear in mind if tendering for public contract.

“I am hopeful that we will have a strong turnout from local businesses in Killiney on February 4th.”

Note to Editors:

‘SMEs: Maximise your Public Tendering Success’ will be held on 4the February at Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel, Killiney from9.30am until 12 noon.

Speakers will include: Minister for State, with special responsibilities for the Office of Public Works, Brian Hayes TD, Tony Corrigan, Tenderscout ‘Portrait of a Successful Tenderer’, Paul Foley, McKeever/Rowan Solicitors ‘EU Developments in Public Procurement’ and Seamus McAuley-Technopath, ‘SMEs and Public Tendering, Putting Meat on the Bone’

The conference is free and you can register by

Deputy Mitchell O’Connor is also doing a survey about SMEs tendering for public projects. 
It can be viewed here:

Relentless rise in childhood obesity must be tackled

It is a shocking admission: we stand to be the first generation who will bury our children. Many members of Irish families will die prematurely due to obesity. The problem is growing at an alarming rate, affecting children as young as two and three years of age.

A severely obese person is likely to die eight to 10 years earlier than a person of normal weight. According to Prof Ivan Perry of UCC, more than 1,000 people die each year from heart disease and strokes because of what and how they eat and because of lack of exercise. People in the developed world should not die because of bad nutrition. Obesity is a time bomb we can defuse.

In 2007, 37 per cent of Irish adults were overweight and a further 24 per cent obese. The rates of obesity and overweight have increased in the past 20 years and continue to grow. Up to 80,000 people in Ireland are now morbidly obese, according to consultant endocrinologist, Dr Francis Finucane, who specialises in treating obesity.

Even more shockingly, the Growing Up In Ireland study showed that almost 20 per cent of nine-year-olds were overweight in 2011 and a further 7 per cent obese. Ireland’s only dedicated childhood obesity treatment programme has had a 400 per cent increase in just one year in referrals of children under five years of age.
Long-lasting impact
Today, Ireland is ranked fifth-highest among 27 EU countries in incidence of childhood obesity. The long- lasting impact of early childhood obesity should not be underestimated. Health as an adult is hugely influenced by nutrition in the first 1,000 days of life. Indeed a mother’s diet during pregnancy affect a child’s birth weight and also on the child’s propensity to become obese in later life.

According to a report funded by Safe Food, carried out by UCC department of epidemiology and public health in 2012, the annual cost of obesity to the exchequer is €1.13 billion. It is estimated overweight and obesity account for 2.7 per cent of total health spending. As a result of the obesity epidemic, we are storing up a diabetes epidemic for the future.

At last a whole-of- Government approach involving departments of education, environment, justice and finance has been put in place to help formulate policy to tackle obesity. Many factors contribute to obesity, including genetics, biology, environmental and economic influences. In economic terms, for example, a cut in the prices of foods likely to increase weight contributes to obesity. More intense advertising for unhealthy food aimed at children is also a factor. Cutting down on salt, sugars and fats in processed food would cut the death rate dramatically.

Vending machines
Interventions in schools such as limiting the sale of and access to vending machines and school shops that sell junk food have been quite successful in reducing consumption. It has also been proven that more time spent by young children on physical activity has a positive impact on weight. Children and teenagers need regular exercise. They should be encouraged to play, exercise and participate in sport.

According to Prof Donal O’Shea, consultant endocrinologist and director of the weight management clinic at St Columcille’s Hospital, Loughlinstown: “The big changes in society in the past 25 years have been the pattern of food consumption as well as the volume of food consumption and a cliff edge in relation to physical activity.’

Parents need to be made aware of obesity. They need to know simple things, such as what their child should weigh. Every time a child visits their GP they should be weighed, creating an opportunity for an early intervention before the problem becomes a chronic illness. Parents need to have evidence-based information and support on breastfeeding, information on the optimum time of weaning babies onto solid foods, and portion size appropriate to their children’s ages and weight. No longer should the mantra of “clean your plate” be espoused as if it was a virtue in healthy eating.

This year we will provide training to 2,000 GPs on the new Irish College of General Practitioners’ weight management treatment algorithm.

A so-called fat tax on unhealthy food has been debated. It has been argued that pretty much any food- based tax would lead to a rise in poverty, but also that its effect on cutting obesity is modest.

However, if the Government did propose a “fat tax”, we would have to ensure the money generated was ring- fenced and channelled into schemes that would promote health, sports and activity for young people.

A healthy Ireland requires a whole-of-society approach to improving health and well-being. We need to protect, educate and offer healthy alternatives to the public. Obesity is a problem that will continue to grow, endangering every family, if it is ignored.

Mary Mitchell O’Connor is a Fine Gael TD for Dún Laoghaire

Click here to read this piece in the Irish Times.

Preparation of Local Area Plan for Blackrock. Submission deadline February 5th

The County Council has invited any interested parties or individuals to make suggestions or forward ideas before the preparation of the draft Local Area Plan.  A submission may be made in writing during the public display period from Wednesday 8th January, 2014 to Wednesday 5th February,  2014 (inclusive).

All submissions and observations should be marked for the attention of the Director of Services, Planning & Enterprise  Department, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, County Hall, Marine Road, Dún Laoghaire, Co. Dublin.Submissions and observations may also be made by email to the following and should state your name, address, and where relevant, the body represented.  All submissions and observations lodged within the above time period will be taken into consideration during the preparation of the Draft Blackrock Local Area Plan.

An ‘Issues Paper’ identifying the types of subjects that may be included in a Local Area Plan together with a map identifying the different Plan areas for the Local Area Plan to be prepared, may be inspected at the following locations:

 – Planning Department, County Hall, Dún Laoghaire (10.00a.m  – 4.00p.m.)

– Council Offices, Dundrum Office Park, Dundrum (9.30a.m.–12.30p.m. 1.30p.m. –  4.30p.m.)

– All Branches of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Libraries during Library Opening Hours

Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays) from Wednesday 8th January, 2014 to Wednesday 5th February, 2014  (inclusive).  The Issues Paper and map may also be viewed on the County Council’s website at

Blackrock LAP – Issues Paper and Map

All submissions and observations, in respect of the proposed Blackrock Local Area Plan, made to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council within the above time period will be taken into consideration by the Council in deciding upon the Draft Local Area Plan.


  • Children, or groups or associations representing the interests of children, are entitled to make submissions or observations.
  • All submissions and observations should include your name and a contact address and where relevant, details of any organisation, community group or company etc., which you represent.
  • Please make your submission by one medium only, i.e. hard copy or e-mail.



CLOSING DATE FOR SUBMISSIONS:  5.00pm on Wednesday 5th February, 2014.


G. Hayden
Director of Services
Planning & Enterprise Department
8th January, 2014.,10201,en.html

Mitchell O’Connor welcomes removal of plastic surgery app aimed at children

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has today (Wednesday) welcomed the fact that a plastic surgery app aimed at children as young as nine has been removed from iTunes and Google Play.

“I was very concerned yesterday to learn of the contents of this app, which provoked a strong backlash online. The app, which targeted children as young as nine, asks users to act as a plastic surgeon to ‘operate’ on a female character who is overweight.

“While this app has been available for some time, the Every Day Sexism project helped to highlight its contents yesterday, and thankfully iTunes and Google Play have now responded by removing the app from their sites.

“I am pleased that these app providers have taken the responsible step of removing the app, which in my view could promote negative body image among young girls. I would also encourage both iTunes and Google Play to examine their monitoring procedures to ensure that any apps being targeted at children are age appropriate.”

Mitchell O’Connor expresses shock at content of ‘fat shaming’ app targeting children

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has this evening (Tuesday) expressed her shock and concern at the content of a new plastic surgery app targeting children as young as nine. Deputy Mitchell O’Connor is calling on iTunes to remove the app from its online store.

“This app has understandably prompted an outraged response on social media today. The so-called ‘fat-shaming’ app encourages children to carry out plastic surgery on the cartoon imagine of a girl who ‘has so much extra weight that no diet can help her’.

“The app asks users to ‘suck out the extra fat’ and ‘make small cuts on problem areas’. It is extremely disturbing that an app of this nature would be targeted at children as young as nine. Using this app could undoubtedly contribute to a young girl having a negative body imagine.

“I am calling on iTunes to remove this app from its online store. The company must take some responsibility over the content offered in the apps it sells, and the content of this app simply cannot be condoned.”

Allocation of €3.5m will make Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown more cycle friendly – Mitchell O’Connor

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has today (Tuesday) welcomed almost €3.5 million in funding which is being allocated to Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council by the National Transport Authority as part of the Sustainable Transport Measures Grants (STMG) programme.

“This money will be used to fund more than 30 projects in the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown area, and will include improvements to a number of cycle routes, which will make it easier and safer for cyclists to get around locally and to travel to and from the city centre.

“A total of €75,000 is being provided to allow for the design of a public bike hire scheme in Dun Laoghaire, which would be a positive addition for locals and visitors in the town. Funding of €475,000 has also been approved for the design of a priority cycle route along the N11, stretching from Stillorgan Park Road to Loughlinstown.

“Cycle parking will be improved at a number of locations throughout Dun Laoghaire and cycle routes are to be improved between the Windy Arbour Luas stop and UCD, and along the N11 between Belfield and Stillorgan Park.

“A number of other cycle route and road improvement works will be completed under the scheme, which will have a very positive impact on local residents. The continued investment in sustainable transport projects is very important if we are to encourage people to leave the car at home and use their bike to get around.

“The total of €3.5 million is a considerable sum of money to be awarded to Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, and I hope the Council can get these works under way without delay.”