‘Write a Book’ competition illustrates a love of writing among children

Blackrock Education Centre award ceremony for primary school children

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD, Mary Mitchell O’ Connor, has today (Monday) congratulated local primary school children on their creative and enthusiastic response to the ‘Write a Book’ competition. Mitchell O’Connor was speaking in Killiney Castle Hotel, where she awarded prizes to entrants in the competition, which is run by Blackrock Educaation Centre.

“I am delighted to see that children still have such enthusiasm for books in spite of all the available technology which has the potential to distract them from traditional forms of reading and learning.

“The children entering this competition have demonstrated great creativity in their story telling and have also showed lots of imagination in the production of their books, which look beautiful.

“I commend the Blackrock Education Centre for their great work over the years in encouraging literacy among children. Throughout the competition process children learn about story and character development, illustration and production processes such as the binding of books. More importantly, competitions such as this one engender a love of reading and writing among children.

“Literacy and creativity are among the key skills that will help our children reach their potential, whatever that potential might be.  These skills will also prepare them for the fast moving workplace when they complete their formal education.

“I thank teachers for getting their students involved in this wonderful competition.”


Coliemore Harbour development will further enhance attractiveness of local area

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has today (Friday) welcomed the progress being made in plans to develop Coliemore Harbour. A draft management plan has been produced and it’s hoped that works will be completed by the end of May, in time for the summer season.

“The development of Coliemore Harbour will greatly add to the attractiveness of the area, and should help to attract even more visitors as it will allow the harbour to be used by small boats to go out to Dalkey Island.

“It is expected that a contractor will be selected by the end of April, with works being carried out in the month of May. This means that the works will be completed just in time for the busy summer tourist season.

“I have been informed that a draft management plan for the use of the harbour by various vessels has been posted to existing boat users, including the proposed ferry operator and Dalkey Rowing Club. I would encourage all stakeholders to make suggestions to the County Council by April 14th, so a completed document can be finalised.

“The final management plan will be very important as it will govern the safe use of the harbour. I am delighted that this project is going ahead, as I am confident that it will help to entice even more visitors into the area. It will also improve the amenity which is already so popular among locals.

“I look forward to the works being completed over the next two months.”

Dun Laoghaire schools to receive funding for building improvements

Summer Works Scheme is good for schools and good for jobs


Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD Mary Mitchell O’Connor has welcomed the announcement that six schools in Dun Laoghaire are to receive funding under the 2014 Summer Works Scheme. The €36 million Department of Education and Science scheme provides for building maintenance and improvement works in 386 schools across every county in Ireland.

“I am delighted that six schools in Dun Laoghaire are to receive funding for building maintenance and improvement works under the 2014 Summer Works Scheme. The schools listed for grants are: Our Lady Good Counsel Girls National School, Johnstown; Scoil Colmcille Senior School, Ballybrack; St Colmcille Junior National School, Ballybrack; Dominican College, Blackrock; Cabinteely Community School, Cabinteely;and Holy Child Community School, Sallynoggin.

“The schools listed under the scheme can find instructions on how to tender for the funding using the Esinet Portal on the Department of Education and Skills website.

“The scheme is used by schools to improve and upgrade existing school buildings. The first round of funding will allow schools to carry out small and medium scale building works across three categories of projects – Gas, Electrical & Mechanical. In Dun Laoghaire, six schools are to receive funding from the scheme with almost 2,000 students to benefit from the works carried out.

“A second round of the scheme will be announced in the coming weeks and will cover other types of school building improvement works. Applications are currently being assessed for this second round of funding.

“This scheme is also good for job creation, supporting 2,160 direct and 430 indirect local construction jobs across the country.

“In total almost €470 million will be spent on school building infrastructure this year under the school building and modernisation programme. It is crucial that we continue to maintain and modernise our school buildings. Our children deserve the best possible environment in which to learn and flourish.”

Role of alcohol in suicide especially relevant as we approach bank holiday weekend

Studies show increase in suicides after bank holiday weekends


Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has called on young people to avoid binge drinking over the bank holiday weekend. This follows Deputy Mitchell O’Connor’s attendance at today’s (Thursday) session of the Joint Oireachtas Health Committee which looked at the inherent link between suicide and alcohol. The Committee was informed that there is a statistical increase in suicides after bank holiday weekends.

“I don’t want to be seen as a killjoy, but the simple truth is the people are vulnerable and alcohol can affect our mental health. Alcohol plays a significant role in people taking their own lives and, as we heard in the Committee today, there is a statistical increase in suicides in Ireland after bank holiday weekends when significant binge drinking takes place.

“Some people really struggle with the after-affects of significant intake of alcohol and extended weekend drinking sessions can leave people feeling extremely low. Alcohol can be a significant catalyst in suicide and self-harm.

“Today’s meeting of the Committee on Health and Children included striking testimonies about the role of alcohol in suicides. We heard extremely compelling accounts from a variety of stakeholders including UCC, Coroners Society of Ireland, Central Statistics Office, Headstrong, Console, Aware, Pieta House, the Irish Association of Suicidology and the National Office for Suicide Prevention on suicide and the role of alcohol.

“The issues and circumstances that lead to a person taking their own life are many and complex. I believe we have a duty to warn young people, especially those who may have mental health issues, of the impact of sustained binge drinking on their mental wellbeing.”


Inspiring Change Coffee Morning

To celebrate International Women’s Day I held an “Inspiring Change” Coffee Morning with the Marie Keating Foundation. It was a great success and attended by a wonderful group of inspiring women.

I would like to thank the Marie Keating Foundation, particularly Helen Forristal, Nutritionist Louise Reynolds and Ireland AM Stylist Barbara Stack for their interesting and enjoyable presentations; the Fitzpatrick Hotel; and all who attended.

Special thanks to the following for donating much appreciated raffle prizes:
Peter Mark Hairdressers, Dun Laoghaire
Clodagh’s Kitchen, Blackrock
Bakelicious, Shankill
Fitzpatrick’s Hotel
Floral Scents, Dun Laoghaire
Canopi, Sandra Walsh

Please click here to see all of the pictures!

Time for Dun Laoghaire to move forward and plan for a brighter future

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has today (Tuesday) said it is time for the town to move forward and plan for a brighter future. Deputy Mitchell O’Connor was speaking after the Business Improvement District (BID) scheme was passed by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council members. 

“There has been much debate in recent months about the merits or otherwise of the BID scheme. I am pleased that councillors have voted in favour of the scheme and I believe it is now time for the town to move forward and focus on the future. Dun Laoghaire has so much to offer visitors and residents alike, but it is only through working together that we can maximise the town’s potential. 

“This is a new start for Dun Laoghaire. The BID scheme will help the town to achieve greater success in the future, and will allow it to move forward from the difficulties which have blighted businesses in recent years. I am committed to a Dun Laoghaire that prospers, that supports its small businesses and that people not only want to shop in and visit, but where people want to live and raise a family. 

“All interested parties must now take a collaborative approach to get the best return for Dun Laoghaire. That means business owners, traders, shoppers, local residents, the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Board and the Local Authority, all need to buy into a future vision for Dun Laoghaire, as a prosperous and successful town. 

“The development of the seafront and the shopping area will be key to the town’s future success. In particular, we need to help the main street to reclaim its vibrancy. We need to push ahead with the development of visitor attractions like the Diaspora Centre and maximise the use of the library and cultural centre. We also need to be ambitious in how we encourage enterprise, such as putting a levy on unused buildings which detract from the town. 

“Dun Laoghaire is a beautiful town in a fantastic location that has the capability to reclaim its vibrancy and establish itself as a standalone tourism destination. The town can also boast a rich heritage and a strong sense of community. Dun Laoghaire’s business community is a hardworking and resilient bunch, and I hope any differences can be put aside so we can all work together to make Dun Laoghaire an even better place to live in and visit. 

“I view last night’s acceptance of the BID scheme as a rallying call for optimism. Let’s banish negativity and focus on positivity, for the betterment of Dun Laoghaire into the future.”

Mitchell O’Connor backs NWCI’s campaign for a female friendly parliament

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has today (Tuesday) given her support to the National Women’s Council of Ireland’s (NWCI) campaign for a female friendly parliament. The campaign includes a number of proposals which could encourage more women to view politics as a viable career option. 

Speaking at the launch of the campaign, Deputy Mitchell O’Connor said: ‘It is an often quoted figure that just 15% of TDs in the Dáil are women. The NWCI’s campaign not only puts forward a number of useful proposals on how to boost this figure, but it will also help to spark a debate on how we can increase female representation in our national parliament’. 

“As a former school principal, I have at times been shocked and appalled by conduct in Dáil Éireann, which you wouldn’t expect to come across in the playground. Many of the proposals put forward by the NWCI could be considered family focused, rather than just women focused. For example, family friendly working hours make sense for all parliamentarians who also happen to be parents, regardless of whether they are men or women. 

“I particularly support the group’s proposal to promote solidarity among female politicians. While shattering the glass ceiling, we also need to reach down and help other women. The establishment of a cross-party women’s caucus could help female politicians to speak with one voice on certain issues. 

“Politics needs to change. It has been shown in business that increasing the level of women on boards improves success. Politics should be viewed no differently. Furthermore, all women should be given a voice at national level, especially older women who have raised their children and have valuable life experience. 

“A masculine culture still pervades the Houses of the Oireachtas, which can sometimes feel like a boxing club. Fine Gael in particular has invested significantly in attracting more women into public life, and I feel confident that the introduction of gender quotas will help to further boost female representation. But we must continue to challenge attitudes and practices if we are to shatter the political glass ceiling.”