Dún Laoghaire courthouse to remain open after successful consultation process

Fine Gael TD for Dún Laoghaire, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has today (Monday) welcomed the news that Dún Laoghaire courthouse will not close as previously proposed.

“It has been confirmed this morning that Dún Laoghaire courthouse will not close as planned. This news comes on the back of very strong submissions from local solicitors, councillors and members of the community to the consultative process.

“The court has been there since the 1880s and there is no doubt that closing it would have been devastating for Dún Laoghaire.

“Since late last year, I have been making representations to the Department of Justice and my Government colleagues, and I have had meetings with solicitors and business associations about the possible impact of the closure. This is a sensible decision which will benefit the whole community.

“Cases that would have been referred to Blanchardstown, Dolphin House or the Courts of Criminal Justice in the city centre will now be heard in Dún Laoghaire, meaning the public, Gardaí, and solicitors will not have to travel. This is also very good news for local businesses that benefit from footfall of the courthouse.

“I would like to commend everyone who made submissions and those who contributed to discussions about the courthouse, in particular the Business Improvement District (BID) taskforce for Dún Laoghaire who made a signification contribution.”

Fee paying schools provide choice in a diverse society

Fine Gael TD for Dún Laoghaire, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has today (Friday), called for a practical, supportive and inclusive attitude towards fee paying schools as the Budget approaches.

“In recent years a number of fee paying schools have migrated into the public system. While this is the right choice for the schools in question, it is not a financially viable option for all, and from a very practical point of view, the Government cannot afford to make this change.

“The cost to the state of the migration of Kilkenny College into the public stream was over €3 million. We simply cannot afford to do this for the 53 fee paying schools in the country.

“As a former school principal and a TD, I support choice for parents. Parents should have the right to choose which school they would like to send their children to. Many fee paying schools promote minority faiths and there are very limited options for these minority faiths such as the Church of Ireland in the public stream.

“In some constituencies, the reality is that there are very few other options other than fee paying schools. This is not a question of which schools are better. Both type of schooling provide children with an excellent standard of education. The simple fact is that in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown many of the public schools are over subscribed. These parents are not extremely wealthy, they are struggling to pay the bills but if they want to send their children to a local school, fee paying schools are the only option.

Education Bill to reform schools admission

Fine Gael TD for Dún Laoghaire and former teacher, Mary Mitchell O’Connor has welcomed the news that the Education (Admission to School) Bill and the Teaching Council (Amendment) Bill will be published during the course of the coming Dáil term.

“I am very pleased to see that this term we will see the publication of the Education (Admission to School) Bill and the Teaching Council (Amendment) Bill.

“The Education (Admission to School) Bill will make the admissions process more inclusive and equitable and it will ensure that the way schools decide on applications is structured, fair and transparent. The framework also proposes a mechanism for ensuring that every child receives a school place.

“As a teacher, I have experienced first-hand the stress parents suffer trying to ensure that their children get a place in schools. It is often felt that admissions were unfair and lacked clarity. This Bill will address these concerns and make the situation fairer for all.

“The Teaching Council (Amendment) Bill will underpin the central role of the Teaching Council in the vetting of teachers and it will strengthen the statutory basis for the Teaching Council to deal with a teacher’s suitability for registration under the fitness to teach provisions.

“The Teaching Council carries out a vital role in vetting our teachers to ensure that the best teachers are in our schools and that our children are receiving the best instruction.

“These changes will make a real difference to parents, to teachers and most importantly to pupils.”

Mitchell O’Connor urges local businesses to avail of ‘LEO Microfinance loan’

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has welcomed the announcement of a new microfinance loan product available to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and has encouraged SMEs in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown area to avail of it. The Government supported Local Enterprise Office Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown (LEO DLR), in partnership with Microfinance Ireland, will offer loans of between €2,000 and €25,000, at a reduced rate of interest.

It is expected that up to 250 new applications for the loan support will take place this year alone. Based on an average loan size of €15,500, the €3.8 million in lending is expected to support 500 jobs nationwide.

“This is a great option for businesses in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, many of whom have encountered difficulty in getting loans from banks. Credit is vital to businesses and I urge local firms to at least familiarise themselves with their Local Enterprise Office and with this particular loan facility. Businesses can apply for these loans directly through the Local Enterprise Office and can also benefit from advice and support during the application stage.

“The reduced interest rate for the new ‘LEO Microfinance’ loan product is 7.5% (7.8% APR), which is 1% lower than the standard loan rate of 8.5% (8.8% APR). The standard loan agreement is between 3 and 5 years, with flexible repayment terms.

“Start-ups and small businesses across all sectors, which employ fewer than ten people, are encouraged to apply if they are finding it difficult to access credit. I believe this will help companies to expand and, in doing so, create jobs. I also think that local businesses in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown can benefit from the business advice and support available to them through the application stage.”

Cyber bullying workshops will provide crucial support to parents

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, has today (Thursday) welcomed the announcement that additional Government funding of €55,000 is being provided to support the delivery of anti-bullying training sessions for parents in 2014. This is on top of the €60,000 announced earlier this year and brings the 2014 allocation to a total of €115,000. Deputy Mitchell O’Connor has been a strong anti-cyber bullying advocate and chaired the first ever Irish cyber bullying conference last week.

The Anti-Bullying Parent Training Programme is being run jointly by the National Parents Council Primary (NPC-P) and the National Parents Council Post Primary (NPC-PP) to support the implementation of the Action Plan on Bullying which called for training and resources for parents and boards of management.

“I very much welcome that the Government is providing guidance to parents on how to identify and prevent cyber bullying and support children who are victims of it.

“At the core of this issue is the emotional and psychological damage that bullying is inflicting on thousands of our young people. Successive research shows that bullying affects the development of young people in terms of their self-esteem and even their mental health. Tragically, bullying can also lead or contribute to suicide.

“There is an onus on parents to be aware of their children’s online activity and this course will help them in that regard. Parents are often best placed to detect whether their children are the victims or perpetrators of bullying. This scheme will give parents a greater understanding of cyber bullying and will help them identify this type of bullying and support their children.

“In 2013, funding of €60,000 supported the delivery of 105 anti-bullying parent training sessions to 3,279 parents nationwide. It is expected that the funding in 2014 will allow more than 200 sessions to be organised throughout the country.

“The feedback from parents who have partaken in the sessions is extremely positive. Many said that they felt that the training had given them more confidence in supporting their child with a bullying issue and in engaging with their school if a bullying incident arose.

“There is huge demand for this type of training among parents, many of whom are not familiar with social media where much cyber bullying takes place. I have spoken to many parents who are perturbed by the issue of cyber bullying but have up to this point felt underequipped in how to deal with it. It makes sense to support parents to help their children in dealing with this increasingly important issue.

“I commend Minister Jan O’Sullivan for prioritising this issue and I also want to congratulate the National Parents Councils which has developed an information leaflet for parents who attend the sessions which can be downloaded from their websites.”

Hosting 2016 Curtis Cup is a massive coup for Dun Laoghaire

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has expressed her delight at the announcement that Dun Laoghaire Golf Club is to host the 2016 Curtis Cup. Deputy Mitchell O’Connor attended the announcement at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club today alongside An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD.

The Curtis Cup is contested between Britain & Ireland and the United States of America and is considered to be the pinnacle of Amateur Ladies Golf. Following a rigorous review of possible venues, the Ladies’ Golf Union selected Dun Laoghaire to host this prestigious international event. The Curtis Cup was last held in Ireland in 1996.

“This is a massive boost for ladies golf in the wider Dublin area and will give up and coming female golfers an added incentive to be selected for a Curtis Cup team. Today’s announcement is another fantastic reminder of the world class facilities we have in Dun Laoghaire. It is also a real coup for the wider Dun Laoghaire area as it will bring positive international focus on the area.

“Dun Laoghaire Golf Club should take great pride that their club won out against high quality competition. The organisers of the Curtis Cup cited the quality of the Dun Laoghaire’s bid, the quality of the course and top class facilities avilable at Dun Laoghaire, coupled with the commitment and enthusiasm of the club’s team.

“Dun Laoghaire was selected ahead of some of the best courses in Ireland and Britain. In hosting the Curtis Cup, Dun Laoghaire joins an elite club of the world’s most famous courses including The Old Course, St. Andrews, Royal County Down, Royal St. George’s, Muirfield, and Royal Liverpool.”

Submission on Dún Laoghaire Courthouse from Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to express my strong opposition against the proposed closure of Dún Laoghaire Courthouse. I believe the arguments for closure of the Court House are shortsighted and ill considered. The impact of the closure will be long lasting and irreversibile on the community of Dún Laoghaire. Please consider my reasons and explanations outlined below, as to why Dún Laoghaire Courthouse should not be closed.

COST

The Courts’ Service Internal Report calculates the monetary saving of the courthouse closure to be less than €40,000. Currently, Dún Laoghaire District Court sits five days a week and is an integral part of the local community, a community that extends to some 206,000 individuals, and growing. This small saving will be significantly outweighed by the severe and long lasting financial impact the closure will have on the local community and businesses. Local businesses such as restaurants, cafes, car parks and hotels rely on the spending of court users in Dún Laoghaire and are already struggling due to economic conditions at this time.

COURT USER ISSUES

The stated mission of the Courts Service is, ”to provide a high-quality and professional service to all users of the Courts.” However, both the administration of justice and access to justice will suffer as a result of closure.

  • Sensitive areas like family law will be greatly impacted, where parties will now have to travel to an unspecified location “in the city centre” to have their cases heard. This will not improve efficiencies as it will add to already busy city-centre District Courts, as well as imposing financial hardship and unnecessary stress on vulnerable court users.
  • Conviction rates will drop due to witnesses being unable or unwilling to travel to alternative Courts.
  • Juvenile offenders will be thrust into a busy system based in the inner city at a vulnerable stage in their lives. The Probation Service has previously opposed the centralisation of juvenile business from Dun  Laoghaire. The purpose of having the list in Dún Laoghaire was to support local community policing and the effective delivery of services for vulnerable children and young adults in the community in terms of probation and restorative justice involvement.  Reversing the decision exposes this group of young persons to much more serious influences and risks in the city courts. The Probation Service with all associated local servies is also better placed to serve the communtiy with a court at local level.
  • The amount of warrants issuing for non attendance will increase due to greater distances to be travelled by litigants and/or due to the costs associated with such journeys.
  • The already overcrowded Family Law Courts in Dolphin House will be flooded with additional applicants from the Balbriggan and Swords area. I have seen the queues myself in Dolphin House and am appalled how families have to make important family decisions and consultations in stairwells, doorways and in corridors. I have spoken in Dáil Éireann on this matter.
  • You might consider, too, the demographics of the legal system, and how the young and the elderly will travel to the new venues. Bus services are already under considerable pressure..
  • This journey on any given day to the Criminal Courts of Justice Complex or Blanchardstown from most parts of the catchment area of Dún Laoghaire District Court will take approximately an hour each way. This will become a logistical nightmare for individuals. If travelling on public transport these times would increase even more.

DÚN LAOGHAIRE-RATHDOWN COUNTY COUNCIL

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council litigate many sensitive local issues such as rates, planning, littering and parking in Dún Laoghaire Court. The closure would also leave the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council without any Courts’ Service facilities. A removal of these services would result in a significant increase in costs for the Council as it would require signifcantly greater travel and time away from other important Council work. Wicklow County Council has also on occasion presecuted serious offences within the areas serviced by Dún Laoghaire District Court.

An Garda Síochána

Garda time and availability will be greatly reduced since Gardai from all stations in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown will be required to travel to the Criminal Courts of Justice in Parkgate Street and Blanchardstown Courthouse. This will take time away from allowing Gardai to peform other neceassry duties, particularly crime prevention and detection, which constituents have expressed grave convern to me about. Additonally, Gardai from Bray/Wicklow/Wexford have brought custody cases to Dún Laoghaire when their own courts have not been sitting. These court users would have to travel an even greater distance if Dún Laoghaire Court was closed.

Finally, I reiterate my strong opposition and urge the Courts Service to keep Dún Laoghaire Courthouse open. The closure of the Court House will severely impact the town of Dún Laoghaire, business owners, legal professionals, service users and local stakeholders. I urge you not to close Dún Laoghaire Courthouse.

 Yours sincerely,

Mary Mitchell O’Connor

Draft Blackrock Local Area Plan and Screening Reports

Draft Local Area Plan and Screening Reports

Notice is hereby given, pursuant to Section 20(3) of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended), that Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown County Council, being the Planning Authority for the County, proposes to make a Local Area Plan for Blackrock.

In complying with the Strategic Environment Assessment Directive (2001/42/EC) and the Planning and Development (Strategic Environmental Assessment) Regulations, 2004, (as amended) Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has determined that a Strategic Environmental Assessment is not required.

It has also been determined that an Appropriate Assessment pursuant to Article 6 (3) and (4) of the Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC and the European Communities (Birds & Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011, is not required.

A copy of the Draft Local Area Plan, the Strategic Environmental Assessment and Appropriate Assessment Screening Reports, will be available for inspection from Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays) from Wednesday 3rd  September, 2014 to Wednesday 15th October, 2014 inclusive at the following locations:-

  • Public Concourse, County Hall, Dún Laoghaire (9.00am – 5:00pm)
  • Council Offices, Dundrum Office Park, Dundrum (9.30am – 12.30pm & 1.30pm – 4.30pm)
  • All branches of Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown Libraries during library opening hours.

The Draft Local Area Plan and Screening Reports may also be viewed on or downloaded from the Council’s website at www.dlrcoco.ie

Draft Local Area Plan and Screening Reports

Public information Sessions:

Three Public Information Sessions will be held in respect of the Draft Local Area Plan, at which Council Officials will be available to answer queries and accept written submissions on the following dates:

  • Thursday 18th September, 2014  between the hours of 5.00pm –  8.00pm
  • Tuesday 23rd September, 2014 between the hours of 2.00pm – 4.00pm and 5.00pm – 8.00pm
  • Wednesday 24th September, 2014 between the hours of 10.00am – 1.00pm

at Blackrock Library, Main Street, Blackrock, Co. Dublin.

Submissions and observations may be made in one of the following ways:-

1. Write to:

Senior Executive Officer,
Planning  and Enterprise Department,
DúnLaoghaire-Rathdown County Council,
County Hall,
Marine Road,
Dún Laoghaire,
Co. Dublin.

2. Email to:

blackrock2lap@dlrcoco.ie

All submissions and observations in respect of the Draft Blackrock Local Area Plan, made in writing 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.

Note:

  • 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.

PLEASE NOTE:

YOU ARE STRONGLY ADVISED TO MAKE YOUR SUBMISSION AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE.

CLOSING DATE FOR SUBMISSIONS:  5.00pm on Wednesday 15th October,   2014.
LATE SUBMISSIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED.