Prevention as treatment can tackle healthcare costs

Fine Gael TD for Dun Laoghaire, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, told a conference in Brussels yesterday evening that the right prevention policies play an important role in improving European health and tackling the spiralling costs of health treatment. Deputy Mitchell O’Connor was speaking at a European Alliance for Personalised Medicine conference in Brussels with European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly and European Commissioner, Phil Hogan.

“The case for prevention as treatment – as well as treatment as prevention – is now here, if it wasn’t already.

“Personalised medicine is all about giving the right treatment to the right patient at the right time, but there’s a reason why the phrase “prevention is better than cure” is so well known.

“Personalised medicine utilises research, data and up-to-the-minute technology to provide better diagnostics and follow up for citizens than is currently the case. It uses genetic information to discern whether a particular drug or regime will work for a particular patient and assists clinicians in deciding which treatment will be the most effective. It can also have a huge impact in a preventative sense.

“Earlier diagnostics and earlier treatment has many benefits, among them fiscal, because while cost is a major issue – and there are key questions about the cost-effectiveness of new and even existing treatments – better diagnostics will ease the burden on health-care systems in two ways.

“It will allow a more preventative approach in that gene technology will flag up the likelihood of a particular individual developing a particular disease and provide a good idea of how it will develop, thereby encouraging early intervention.

“Efficacious treatment means patients are much less likely to require expensive hospital beds and are more able to continue working and contributing to Europe’s economy.

“There is much we can do at national and European level to improve the prevention mechanisms we use to ensure that children are encouraged to be healthy and to grow up as healthy adults.

“Informed, evidence-based policy making has an important role to play in public health and I commend the European Alliance for Personalised Medicine for its important work.”

“Our Dàil Day”

I recently received this lovely poem from a constituent after their tour of Dàil Èireann. I am delighted to share it with you today.


Yes, Eamonn we were really there

A culture outing beyond compare,

The Oireachtas tour was excellent

T’was a truly special event.

From the gallery in the House

We heard TDs grumble and grouse!

Then to the Senate for a vote

Where we saw Senators of note.

Past portraits of the good and great

Charlie, Bertie et al of late,

Then to the Member’s bar we went

Ten “oldies” happy and content!

A superb dinner of fine fare

Served by Christina with genteel care,

Thanks to Mary our charming host,

Aye, and to Fine Gael a wee toast!

( Anon:! )

Make Your Voice Heard on the Public Health Alcohol Bill

Individuals and organisations concerned about alcohol harm are being invited to make their voice heard on the Public Health Alcohol Bill.The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children has issued an invitation to interested individuals and groups to have their say on proposed legislation on alcohol. The Heads of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill were published on February 4  and are accessible here.

The Bill sets out to provide for health labelling of alcohol products; minimum unit pricing; regulation of marketing and advertising of alcohol, and enforcement powers for Environmental Health Officers.Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has referred the draft General Scheme to the Joint Committee for pre-legislative scrutiny. As part of the process, the Committee is inviting input from organisations and individuals on the proposals.

Written submissions should be sent electronically by email (MS Word or equivalent) and should be received not later than 3pm on March 5th 2015 at the following email address only:

Read more and make a submission.

Government decision secures future of small schools

Fine Gael TD for Dun Laoghaire Mary Mitchell O’Connor and Chairperson of Fine Gael’s Internal Committee on Education said today’s announcement by the Minister for Education, Jan O’Sullivan TD, that will protect small schools and secure their futures.

“The Government has agreed the implementation of new policies to better support the sustainability of small schools. The approach involves improved changes to the staffing schedule for some small schools and will improve their staffing levels.

“The Government has also agreed the publication of the Value for Money and policy review of small schools, which was commissioned by the previous Fianna Fáil-led Government. It’s recommendations have not been accepted as they would have threatened the future of small schools.

“Small schools are a vital part of the local communities in which they are situated. I am delighted that the Government is moving to protect them. They small schools play an essential social function, particularly in isolated rural communities. Securing their future is an integral part of protecting rural Ireland.”

Obesity Public Meeting, March 2nd, 2015

I would like to invite you to a Public Meeting on Obesity on March 2nd at 11am in Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel, Killiney.

I would greatly appreciate if you could circulate the invite to interested groups.

It promises to be an interesting and informative morning with a panel of expert speakers:

Professor Donal O’Shea – Head of Obesity Unit, St. Columcille’s Hospital

Barry Dempsey- Irish Heart Foundation

Aoife Hearne – Operation Transformation

It will start at 11am sharp and finish at 1pm. There will be a Q+A session after the guest speakers’ presentations.

Please RSVP to by Tuesday, February 24th. Please note that there is no cover charge for this conference.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Yours sincerely,

Applications for 2015 National Lottery Health Grants open tomorrow

Fine Gael TD for Dun Laoghaire, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has reminded community groups and organisations that application forms for the 2015 National Lottery Health grants will go live on the Department of Health’s website from tomorrow, Tuesday, February 17th.

“These grants are aimed at community groups and voluntary organisations providing health, support or information services to groups such as people with an intellectual or physical disability. It is also open to organisations which have specific health-related interests.

“In 2014, the Department of Health approved funding for organisations in the Dun Laoghaire constituency

“Local beneficiaries included COPD Support Ireland which received €7,000 towards the cost of funding a public awareness campaign; Bodywhys benefited from €7,500 towards the cost of funding the development of a 4 week modular-based training programme and Move4Parkinsons Foundation Limited which received €8,000 towards the cost of providing a series of activities that are designed for people with Parkinsons.

“The 2015 Department of Health’s National Lottery Grants will be awarded on two dates this year, one in June and the other in November.

“The closing date for applications is 12 noon on the 1st of May 2015.”

For further information, please visit

Sad day for Dun Laoghaire as Stena sailings end

Fine Gael TD for Dun Laoghaire, Mary Mitchell O’Connor said in the Dáil today (Wednesday) that the Stena Line announcement that they will not be renewing their Dun Laoghaire Harbour contract which expires on April 14th next is an end of an era.

“This marks an end of over 20 years of Stena Line sailings to Dun Laoghaire. Passenger sailings from the harbour span over almost two centuries. Up until recent days, Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company and Stena Line had engaged in active discussions on the delivery of a seasonal service.

“Stena Line have now advised they are unable to secure a suitable vessel and have decided not to resume operations on this route, and that they will consolidate their business interests in Dublin Port.

“Dun Laoghaire harbour has been left “adrift” today with no plan for its future, indeed its future survival. In response we need an immediate taskforce to secure the future of the harbour.

“The future for the harbour could be bright. A planning application for a new cruise berth for ‘next generation’ cruise ships has only recently been submitted to An Bórd Pleanála. This growing cruise business will have significant economic spin-off value for Dun Laoghaire and the wider hinterland and indeed Ireland. With the loss of Stena Line, it is crucial that the new cruise berth is given strong consideration.

“A detailed proposal has also been submitted to the Government for the International Diaspora Centre. This world-class visitor attraction can now be accommodated in the empty 80,000 sq.ft. Ferry Terminal building. I have heard other venues being mentioned but I am asking the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport give serious consideration to Dun Laoghaire where Irish people in the past left in droves to seek work on foreign shores.

“Now let their grandsons and granddaughters return to our shores and be given a Céad Míle Fáilte in a World Class Diaspora Centre.”

Government commits to minimum unit alcohol price to tackle alcohol abuse

Fine Gael TD for Dun Laoghaire, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has today (Tuesday) said proposals signed off by the Government today will reduce irresponsible alcohol consumption in this country and reduce the harm associated with the wide-spread misuse of alcohol.

“The Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015 contains far reaching measures to tackle the widespread problem of alcohol misuse in this country.

“I particularly welcome the proposal to make it illegal to sell alcohol at a price below a set minimum price. The minimum unit price will be set at a level which evidence shows will reduce the burden of harm from alcohol. A minimum unit price for alcohol is something I have been campaigning heavily for.

“Minimum unit pricing is a targeted measure that is able target cheaper alcohol relative to its strength because the minimum price is determined by and is directly proportional to the amount of pure alcohol in the drink.

“For the first time alcohol is being addressed as a public health measure which makes this a legislative milestone. It deals with all of the important aspects that must be addressed including price, availability, information and marketing.

“I believe many people have a problem with alcohol. It is killing three people every week and that is too much. The facts about our alcohol consumption do not tally with the relationship we think we have with it. I don’t say this as a killjoy or puritan, but as a mother, a concerned member of a community and a public representative.

“There are almost two and a half million people in Ireland who drink. Over half of these drink harmfully and excessively, that is 1.24 million people. Every night, 2,000 hospital beds are occupied for alcohol related reasons.

“I believe that minimum unit pricing is a key part of the Government’s strategy to deal with alcohol misuse and is the one measure that will make the most difference most quickly.

“There is an urgent need for a major sea-change and in how we view our national relationship with alcohol. I believe that minimum unit pricing will help to achieve that in conjunction with the wider approach of these proposals.”