Mitchell O’Connor supports UK expert’s call for health warning on sugary drinks

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has today (Thursday) backed a call for prominent health warnings to be displayed on sugary drinks. The proposal has been made by one of the UK’s leading experts on public health, Professor Simon Capewell of the University of Liverpool.

“We need to take radical steps if we are serious about tackling our spiralling obesity problem. We now know that many people are drinking more calories than they are eating; high sugar drinks are significantly contributing to our obesity problem, and they do more damage to health than many people realise.

“Professor Capewell has suggested that the UK should follow California’s lead by placing health warnings on sugary drinks. I believe Ireland should do the same; we have been a world leader in introducing tobacco control measures to reduce smoking, now it’s time we lead the field in anti-obesity measures.

“A recent European study showed that adults who drank more than one can of sugary fizzy drinks a day had a 22% higher risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes than those who drank less than a can a month.

“Professor Ivan Perry of University College Cork has previously pointed out that more than 1,000 deaths from heart disease or strokes could be prevented each year in Ireland if a few simple steps were taken. Cutting down on salt, sugars and fats in processed food would reduce the death rate considerably.

“We need to give consumers as much information as possible, so they can make responsible decisions about the food and drink they buy. Stark warnings on cigarette packets leave us in no doubt about the consequences of smoking. Why do we not take the same approach to other products which can cause diabetes, heart disease and stroke?

“Information needs to be very clear, graphic and hard hitting. I believe that a two litre bottle of fizzy soft drink, for example, should have a hard-hitting warning with words and pictures which take up at least 25% of the available labelling space. We cannot continue to tolerate the negative impact high sugar drinks are having on the nation’s health.”


Change of approach on medical cards is right decision-Mitchell O’Connor

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, has welcomed the Government’s announcement regarding the eligibility criteria for discretionary medical cards, saying a change of approach is the right decision.

“The review of discretionary medical cards has been causing considerable upset and stress for many families. A number of cases have been highlighted where very ill and vulnerable patients were subjected to unnecessary anxiety and concern.

“I am pleased therefore that the Government has taken the decision to take a fresh look at the eligibility governing the allocation of discretionary medical cards, to ensure it takes account of medical conditions. As a result, the review will be suspended.

“It is essential that the expert panel being set up by the HSE casts a humane and reasonable eye over the factors that are taken into account when a discretionary medical card is being awarded. We must ensure that those who are severely ill get the support they need.

“I also note that the Department of Health has been mandated to develop a policy paper on the further rollout of free GP care, which will be a further step towards Universal Health Insurance.”


Passport Office’s Rapid Renewal Pilot Scheme to aid last minute travellers

Fine Gael TD for Dun Laoghaire, Mary Mitchell O’Connor has welcomed the Rapid Renewal Scheme, a new pilot programme being introduced by the Passport Office. This will see applications being processed on the day.

“This excellent new scheme is available to people travelling within three days. It is important to note that this is an appointment only service, that it is available to those renewing passports only and there will be a maximum limit of 20 of these premium appointments available each day.

“I strongly urge all passport holders to do two things at once. Check your passport NOW to make sure it is well in date for any travel plans you have and to do the same for any other family members, especially children; Make sure passports are kept in a safe place, and remember where that is.

“The Passport Office has done a great job being responsive and imaginative at a time when resources are tight and demand continues to rise. Over 63o,000 passports were issued last year. Few public services deal in so much short term, urgent drama and crisis.

“In emergencies where people need to travel due to death or serious illness of a family member, applications are generally turned around on the same day if proof of the emergency is provided.

“The Passport Express Service is hassle free and operates through over 900 post offices. It is the fastest and cheapest way to apply. The Passport Office aims to have passports back within 10 working days.

“For those with urgent travel needs, a passport appointment system for quick turnaround is now also available at the Passport Offices in Dublin and Cork. This allows customers to book a guaranteed time slot online. All of the relevant information about passports can be found on the Department of Foreign Affairs website:

World Asthma Day 6th May

It is World Asthma Day on 6th May. 90% of Asthma deaths are preventable.

There are 470,000 asthma sufferers in Ireland and the Asthma Society of Ireland is providing services such as Adviceline, Asthma Clinics and publications about asthma.

The Asthma Society of Ireland are looking for volunteers to fund-raise by going walking in Croatia and the Dalmatian Coast from 13th-19th October 2014.

If you are interested in joining them email Heidi at


Free Care of the Elderly Course

A Care of the Older Person FREE training course for the unemployed starts in the Smurfit Business Campus Blackrock  on 12th May 2014.

The course runs from Monday to Friday 12th – 16th May 2014 and will enable people to work in homecare or in a nursing home.

For more information please email clare@progressive or call Clare on 01 4884317 NOW. Limited Places available