Congrats to Monkstown Educate Together National School on their new beautiful garden!

The weather this weekend was perfect for the opening of Joan Mallon’s Cape Cod Garden at Monkstown Educate Together National School. This was Joan’s first solo garden project and she won a silver medal at the Bloom Festival this year! Her garden design was inspired by the creative and romantic gardening styles that she saw on her trip to Boston and Cape Cod in June 2013. After seeing this garden at MENTS I can say you do feel like you are in Cape Cod when you are looking at it!

Thanks to the help of Joan, Jennie, Anne Marie, Rosario, Parent Volunteers and most of all PUPILS of METNS for making the replanting of Cape Cod Escape at MENTS possible! MENTS has a Green School Status and uses its other garden to teach kids about the environment. I am excited that MENTS has agreed to take care of the garden and as a fellow educator I am glad that students will be able to use it as a resource!

Again, congratulations to Joan Mallon on her accomplishments at Bloom Festival and I am delighted that MENTS is able to use her beautiful garden as a resource to teach kids about the environment.

Teaching Internet Safety in Primary Schools will help Combat Cyber Bullying

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, has today (Wednesday) welcomed a number of key recommendations in the Report of the Internet Content Governance Advisory (ICGA) which sets out what steps the Government can take to help address cyber bullying and deal with the range of issues posed by social media and our ever growing presence online.

“The issue of internet safety and how to deal with online abuse is a complex and ever evolving area, and one which deserves a considered response. The report, which was requested by the Minister for Communications, Pat Rabbitte TD, contains a number of practical recommendations which could have a positive impact on how we interact with each other online.

“My primary focus on this issue has always been on education. While laws making online abuse an offence might make the headlines, I think that changing the way we talk to our children about how they act online will have a much more lasting impact. The report recommends that internet safety and digital literacy skills should be included in the curriculum at both primary and secondary level – I measure I would strongly support.

It also says that further support should be given to training directed at parents to make them aware of cyberbullying and give them tips on how to deal with it. A number of tragic high profile cases last year, when the suicides of young teens were linked to cyber bullying, shocked the nation. We need to give both children and their parents the skills to face up to online abuse and the tools to know how to address it.

“I also welcome the proposal that the Safer Internet Ireland Centre (SIIC) should develop an online platform and a helpline which would act as a resource for children, parents, teachers and anyone else with an interest in the area. This one-stop portal would contain a range of support and advice on all elements of internet safety.

“An implementation group involving five government departments has now been set up to ensure these recommendations are acted on, and a set of agreed actions are expected soon. Legislation to make online abuse an offence can only be part of the solution. Education must be to the forefront.”

Dalkey Book Festival

We had gorgeous weather this past week for the Dalkey Book Festival! Starting on Thursday, each day was filled with a variety of lectures, interviews, and exhibits. There were many big names including Salman Rushdie, Robert Fisk, and BBC broadcaster Kirsty Wark. Other speakers included Irish writers Joseph O’Connor, John Banville, Sebastian Barry, and many more.

The Apres Match comedian group provided some light entertainment at the end of the festival. St. Patricks Annual Art Exhibition was just one of the many different events that the Festival was showcasing this year.

Overall, the Book Festival was a huge success and I really enjoyed the events I attended. Congratulations to the Festival Founders, David McWilliams and Sian Smyth for another successful year! Well done to all the speakers, volunteers, and personnel who made this possible. It was great to see the support of the sponsors of the festival, the Dun Laoghire-Rathdown County Council, Key Capital, RTE Radio 1, Failte Ireland, The Irish Times, Verso, and Dalkey Castle & Heritage Centre.  I look forward to seeing what next year will bring!

Well done to all who particpated in Mini All Ireland!

This Saturday was the conclusion of the Cuala Mini All Ireland tournament. It was a beautiful day and all the players did an amazing job. It was great to see the kids taking advantage of the nice weather and being active!

The parade through Dalkey was a sight to see and everyone from the players to the volunteers enjoyed it. Thanks to the local residence for their support of this event!

I would like to give a huge thanks to all the managers, referees, volunteers, and parents who helped make this tournament happen. Every year the tournament keeps getting bigger and better! Congrats again to the players!

 

Mitchell O’Connor urges TDs to Support the HEALTH Initiative to Make the Nation Healthier

Wednesday, June 11th 2014

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, is calling on TDs and Senators to support the HEALTH initiative to help make their constituents healthier. The initiative has been developed the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute (INDI) as part of Nourish Ireland Week.

 “I am delighted to team up with the INDI for this worthwhile initiative and I am calling on other TDs and Senators to get behind it too. As elected representatives, we can act as messengers and health ambassadors in every county across the country.

 “It is time that we as a nation that we faced up to our obesity problem. One in four Irish adults is obese. In the decade between 1990 and 2000, the level of obesity here increased by a massive 67%. We now have a situation where one in five Irish five to twelve year olds is overweight or obese. We must constantly look at new ways to address this escalating problem.

 “The INDI wants to get TDs and Senators on board to help spread the message about healthy eating and to use our influence as public representatives to support the development of a nutrition policy for Ireland.

 “Poor nutrition and bad diet choices are impacting on our daily lives, and they are costing the country billions. Not only does being overweight have an impact on your self-esteem, it has a major impact on your health.

 “Being overweight can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers. We need to ensure we are all armed with the facts. The INDI is explaining to TDs and Senators about how they can help to make the nation healthier and I hope we can all play a role in making this a reality.”

Mitchell O’Connor urges interested parties to make submission to prevent closure of Dun Laoghaire courthouse

Friday, June 13th 2014

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has today (Friday) urged interested parties to make submissions to the Courts Service to help prevent the closure of the town’s courthouse. Deputy Mitchell O’Connor added that closing the courthouse would have a negative impact on businesses in the town.

“The Courts Service is conducting a second round of consultation with local interests in Dun Laoghaire in relation to the proposed closure of the courthouse. I understand that the Court Service is looking at this in the context of efficiencies and how it provides services across the entire city, but it must take into account the negative impact the closure would have on the town.

“I am acutely aware of the concerns shared by local businesses about how they would be affected if the courthouse was to close. Dun Laoghaire is home to a considerable number of legal professionals who not only conduct business at the courthouse, but also bring increased trade to local restaurants, shops and cafes in the process.

“The courthouse is used each weekday, and deals with a range of adult and juvenile cases, as well as small claims cases. In my view its closure simply does not make sense. It is bound to result in cost implications for the local Gardaí if the closure plans go ahead, as officers would incur increased travel expenses to attend court hearings.

“The Courts Service has committed to write to all parties which were previously consulted during its original review last year asking them to provide further submissions. I am urging all interested parties locally to engage in this process and outline why the courthouse is needed in the town.

“This is not a done deal. It is incumbent on local representatives and business people to impress upon the Courts Service that closing the courthouse would be a retrograde step for Dun Laoghaire.”

Photograph from South Dublin Today

Mitchell O’Connor urges TDs and Senators to support the HEALTH initiative to make the nation healthier

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, is calling on TDs and Senators to support the HEALTH initiative to help make their constituents healthier. The initiative has been developed the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute (INDI) as part of Nourish Ireland Week.

I am delighted to team up with the INDI for this worthwhile initiative and I am calling on other TDs and Senators to get behind it too. As elected representatives, we can act as messengers and health ambassadors in every county across the country.

“It is time that we as a nation that we faced up to our obesity problem. One in four Irish adults is obese. In the decade between 1990 and 2000, the level of obesity here increased by a massive 67%. We now have a situation where one in five Irish five to twelve year olds is overweight or obese. We must constantly look at new ways to address this escalating problem.

“The INDI wants to get TDs and Senators on board to help spread the message about healthy eating and to use our influence as public representatives to support the development of a nutrition policy for Ireland.

“Poor nutrition and bad diet choices are impacting on our daily lives, and they are costing the country billions. Not only does being overweight have an impact on your self-esteem, it has a major impact on your health.

“Being overweight can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some cancers. We need to ensure we are all armed with the facts. The INDI is explaining to TDs and Senators about how they can help to make the nation healthier and I hope we can all play a role in making this a reality.”

Plain packaging the latest progressive step in fight against smoking

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD and member of the Oireachtas Health Committee, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, has today (Tuesday) welcomed the publication of legislation which will introduce plain packaging for tobacco products, describing it as the latest progressive step in the fight against smoking.
“This legislation will remove all forms of branding including trademarks, logo, colours and graphics from cigarette packs and represents yet another progressive step in this Government’s commitment to radically reduce smoking rates.
“Ireland has developed a strong reputation as being a world leader in the fight against tobacco; under the previous Government we became the first country in the world to introduce a workplace smoking ban, and now we are the first country in the EU to introduce plain cigarette packs.
“For decades, the tobacco industry has pumped billions of dollars into getting us hooked on cigarettes. Step by step we have been loosening their grip. Smoking rates in Ireland have fallen in recent years, but we cannot become complacent and must take every stop possible to reduce rates further and save lives.
“Seven thousand people die from smoking related diseases in Ireland every year, and half of all smokers will die as a result of their tobacco habit. Smoking is the single most important preventable cause of illness and death, and it’s costing our health services €1 billion a year.
“Plain packaging will help to reduce smoking rates further and should help to prevent young people from taking up the habit in the first place. This is a very progressive public health initiative, and I would like to commend Minister Reilly for his commitment to this issue.”

Almost 350 places available on Springboard courses in IADT and UCD

Fine Gael TD, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, for Dun Laoghaire has today (Monday) welcomed the announcement from the Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn TD, that 6,100 new free higher education places are being made available to jobseekers as part of this year’s round of the Springboard programme.

Almost 350 places are being made available in the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art Design and Technology and University College Dublin across of range of specialties such as innovation, entrepreneurship and biopharmaceutical production. Springboard courses aim to help people who are without a job to get back into the workforce by giving them qualifications in expanding enterprise sectors.

“This is the fourth year of Springboard, which helps jobseekers to boost their skills so they can access employment in growing enterprise sectors, which are leading our economic recovery. It is great news that almost 350 places are being made available in IADT and UCD, including courses in enterprise and entrepreneurship.’

Most courses are part-time, they are all free, and they generally allow participants to maintain their social welfare payments while they are completing the course.

“This year, work placements are being offered on almost every Springboard course because such placements are a really important way of improving employment prospects. The system is also being made more flexible, as you will no longer have to be long-term unemployed to be eligible.

“The Government recognises the need for our graduates and jobseekers to have the skills necessary for our new economy, which is based on enterprise and innovation, rather than the old economy which was overly reliant on construction and banking. Springboard specifically targets areas where there are job opportunities and growth, allowing students to gain awards at certificate, degree and post-graduate level.

“I would encourage jobseekers in Dun Laoghaire looking to upskill, to check out the range of local courses available at www.springboardcourses.ie.”