Minimum pricing needed to combat alcohol deaths

Calls for swift implementation of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill

“Hundreds of deaths could be avoided every year by introducing a minimum price for alcohol”, according to Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Fine Gael TD for Dun Laoghaire. Deputy Mitchell O’Connor was speaking in the Dáil today (Tuesday).

“Three people are dying every day due to alcohol and 2,000 hospital beds are occupied every night by people with alcohol related illnesses.

“Due to low supermarket prices and aggressive price promotions, consumers can purchase large amounts of alcohol at ridiculously low prices.

“Hundreds of deaths could be avoided every year with a minimum price for alcohol units. According to the 2014 Health Research Board Survey there are 2.48 million people in Ireland who drink alcohol and 54 per cent of those drink harmfully and excessively.

“We are failing our young people by not responding to the normalisation of alcohol misuse through the cheap and widespread availability of alcohol.

“If we are to effectively tackle this culture of harmful binge drinking then we need to urgently tackle the key areas of alcohol pricing marketing and availability, beginning with the swift implementation of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill.”

Number on the Live Register in Dún Laoghaire down 11.21% since launch of Action Plan for Jobs

Latest CSO figures show more people are at work as the economy recovers


Fine Gael TD for Dún Laoghaire, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has said that the 11.21% drop in the Live Register figure in Dún Laoghaire since the launch of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs shows that the economy is recovering and that the Government’s plan to create jobs is working.

“Nationally the latest CSO Live Register figures show that the unemployment rate has dropped to 10.7% from a high of 15.1% in 2012.  Too many people are still out of work but we are moving in the right direction.

“In Dún Laoghaire the numbers on the Live Register have fallen from 6,040 to 5,363 since the launch of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs in 2012 – a decrease of 11.21%. Nationally, almost 80,000 jobs have been created, the recovery is broadening across the country, including Dún Laoghaire.

“Thanks to the sacrifices people have made, it is now possible for the Government to cut taxes to help people in work. Every household with somebody in full-time work will be a bit better off from January. We’re committed to reducing personal taxation, to putting money back in people pockets and to growing the economy.

“This Government has made great strides, as is evident from the Live Register figures, but the current high rates of personal taxation need further reform. We need to continue to make work pay and ensure that people in all parts of the country feel the benefit of the growing economy in their pockets and in their lives. That is what we intend to do next year and into the future.

“These figures give us confidence that if we stick with the plan, we can ensure that people’s sacrifices are not wasted, and that we can deliver a consistent, sustainable jobs recovery in Dún Laoghaire and right across the country.”

Gender Quotas

As a woman in the workplace I don’t want to be distinguished from my male counterparts; I feel I can do just as good a job and I am equally as capable. However, this is just not possible. I am not the same as the men I work with, I am not inferior but I am different. Women simply are not adequately represented in senior positions in the business world or as representatives in public life, and major changes are needed to tackle the deficit of female representation.

This Government recognises that change is needed and we have taken action to address this by introducing gender quotas for the next General Election. For the first time 30% of the candidates on the ticket will be female. I know many women feel gender quotas are unnecessary and distasteful; they don’t want to be token members on boards or to feel they were unduly elevated simply because the company they work for, or the party they are a member of, needs more women. However I do not accept that this is the case. I believe that there are women out there to fill the top positions, we just need to encourage them to come forward. Women in Ireland are the most educated in EU and we need to ask ourselves why they are not making it to senior positions.

The introduction of gender quotas for state boards has meant that in six years female representation has gone from 10% to 40%. Advancing this project further, each Government Department that has not yet reached 40% has been asked to prepare a plan to reaffirm their commitment to reacht he target during the lifetime of this Government. In order to support the delivery of the Government’s target on gender equality on State Boards, the Department of Justice and Equality will set up a pilot project for the development of a Talent Bank of women who would be prepared to serve on State Boards.

It is an internationally accepted fact that diverse companies, diverse boards and diverse Governments achieve the best results and this is the goal we are pursuing. During Dr Micheline Sheehy Skeffington’s recent case in the Equality Court it was found that in a corporate setting, men had a one in two chance of promotion, while the women who apply for the same promotion have less than a one in three chance. In companies where women are in the majority, senior positions are still predominantly held by men. This needs to change.

Only this week in Germany, one of the world’s most developed economies, it was confirmed that frauenquote, Women’s quotas, will mean that 30% of the country’s top boards must comprise of women. Writing in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, commentator Heribert Prantl said frauenquote are not the introduction of quotas, rather they are breaking through existing quotas … they are a tool to establish sensible standards. Just as children learn to swim with armbands, so the women’s quotas are the armbands of society.”

At present there are 27 women and 139 men in Dáil Éireann, this is a record for female representation. In the history of this state there have only ever been 14 female Ministers. There is something seriously wrong with these statistics. Gender quotas aim to encourage women who have the ability to come forward and assure them that they will have the opportunity to represent their constituency or to serve on a State Board.

We know that Irish women have the skills but we also know that there are reasons why they are not putting themselves forward. Many women feel they cannot commit to the responsibility that comes with these positions and balance their family lives at the same time. There is no doubt that there is merit in this argument. However, until more women are in these positions, nothing will change. Gender quotas  will fast-track the process of involving women in Irish public life and in State Boards, like Heribert Prantl said they are our armbands until this becomes the norm and equal representation comes natuarally in all areas. This Government has done more than any before us to address the issue of gender equality and  quotas are just the starting point to bring us to the finish line of truly representating the Irish population.

Certainty for homeowners needed

Mitchell O’Connor urges Minister to review LPT rates in light of recovering property market

Fine Gael TD for Dún Laoghaire, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has said that a review of local property tax rates is needed to address the concerns of homeowners living in areas where house prices have increased.

“House prices in my own constituency of Dún Laoghaire have increased in recent months and home owners in the area may be faced with a rise in Local Property Tax when the scheduled review takes place at the end of 2016. I have contacted the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan to express my concerns about the impact that such an increase would have.

“In the period since property value assessments were completed for Revenue in 2013, house prices in Dún Laoghaire have risen by more than 42 per cent. The tax was set at €675 for a property worth between €350,000 and €400,000 but such properties could be worth well over €500,000 by late 2016.

“The local property tax has been designed with three-year reviews to ensure predictability, and to prevent shocks for taxpayers so I am confident that any changes to LPT would be announced well ahead of the next review.

“There has been a huge improvement in the economy over recent months and this is to be very much welcomed. However, I am concerned about the financial impact a rise in property tax would have on people in Dún Laoghaire and other urban areas.
“Dún Laoghaire – Rathdown County Council have voted to reduce the Local Property Tax by 15%. This is a very welcome but once-off move.

“Minister Noonan has said that the central national rate for Local Property Tax will not vary for the lifetime of this Government. This is also to be welcomed but I am asking the Minister to look beyond 2016 and to provide some reassurance for homeowners.”