Breast Cancer Ireland Fundraiser: Thank You

I was delighted that so many people attended the recent coffee morning in the Royal Irish Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire. It was a very positive event and there was a wonderful atmosphere in the room.

Thank you so much to everyone who attended on the day, and to those who were unable to attend and sent good wishes. Thanks also for the donations to Breast Cancer Ireland, we raised €675 through your generosity. Please see below a copy of the acknowledgement from BCI in thanks for the funds raised.

Breast cancer is currently the second most common cancer in women in Ireland. Every year it affects about 3,000 women and 20 men in this country. Breast Cancer Ireland, and other cancer charities, do phenomenal work to support patients and their families, as well as contributing to vital ongoing research to help to combat the disease.

I would like to thank the Royal Irish Yacht Club for the beautiful setting for the event; and Ciara Holmes, from Breast Cancer Ireland, for giving her time to attend on the morning.

Sincere thanks to Ian McConnell from the band El C, who also joined us on the day. Ian played their Christmas Single “Don’t Cry for Christmas”, a beautiful, poignant song, which touched the hearts of everyone in the room. The single can be pre-ordered here and all proceeds from the song will go to The Irish Cancer Society and Cancer Research UK, in memory of lost loved ones.

Opening Address: Trinity College Dublin – THE NEW ACADEMIC TRACK FOR INTERNSHIPS

Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor being greeted by the Provost Dr. Prendergast, Prof Hennessy and Prof Gill at the launch of the National Academic Track for Internship, TCD, Dublin. Photo: David Coleman

Distinguished Academics and HSE representatives. And to the new head of the Trinity School of Medicine, Prof Michael Gill.

I am truly delighted to be invited here this morning, to meet with you all as you embark on one of the most exciting developments in Irish medicine and innovation. And especially on the morning that this esteemed campus is named as one of the most beautiful on the planet! Congratulations!

As a mother, having lived, first hand, through the blood, sweat, tears and commitment that a trainee doctor needs to apply to their medical qualification I commend you all on your huge achievement – Being selected as the inaugural group of 24 junior doctors to undertake the first of its kind in Ireland, The Academic Track for Internship.

I know you started your programme in July and I hope you have settled in and are relishing the challenge that lies in front of you. This is the first step on your career path from academic intern to a consultant clinician scientist. Exciting.

On reading some of your testimonials where you recount your areas of research, I was inspired and heartened that the future of our healthcare system will benefit from your innovations and the discoveries your research will bring.

As the first class of the The Academic Track for Internship, it was inspiring to read that approximately a third of you expressed an interest in undertaking the innovative pathway. You will lead the charge in enabling Ireland to remain one of the top innovation nations in the world.

It is a great opportunity for all of you to gain valuable experience in either clinical research, further medical education or in leadership and healthcare management.

You, as the chosen 24 interns, will make valuable connections with clinical researchers, academic and healthcare leaders that might not have otherwise happened until much later in your career.

I am sure many of you would have sought our similar programmes in the UK or further afield, so I am delighted as the Minister for State with responsibility for Higher Education to be able to facilitate your academic career in Ireland. Retaining medical talent in Ireland helps us address the skills shortage in academic medicine. 

As you are aware, Health Research is critical in providing essential information to government and policymakers. Health research is an investment in our future and it ensures a better health system and a better health outcomes.

Health research provides us with the evidence to address key societal challenges – such as an ageing population and the increases in chronic diseases. Research activity attracts and retains high-quality health professionals in the system. With global shortages in all areas of medicine and patient care, we need a vibrant research-active system to attract and retain skilled personnel.

The HSE is investing €250,000 in this programme. NDTP hopes that the availability of the academic track internships in Ireland will contribute to the retention of medical graduates of Irish medical schools who have academic as well as clinical ambitions. Furthermore, this initiative provides an early and dedicated focus on research skills among doctors.

I sincerely hope that many of you will go on to undertake further and more sizeable academic research during your careers and work as academic clinicians and that we all will be reading about you and your medical advancements in the years to come.

Brexit is set to have a significant impact on higher education in Ireland and the long term effects of it on the research landscape both in Europe and Ireland are not yet clear. Every year a considerable number of Irish medical students leave the country on graduation.

I see this development within the School of Medicine in Trinity College Dublin as an advancement to mitigate against any negative effects of Brexit and undoubtedly will strengthen the opportunities for Medicine undergraduates and postgraduates.

It is imperative that the Government does everything within its power to ensure opportunities exist for our future academic clinicians that keeps Ireland at the forefront of medical innovations.

I believe the future of clinical research in the country will be in safe hands, your hands. Programmes such as this are the perfect way to harness your exceptional abilities to benefit all our inhabitants. I have no doubt that patients both here in Ireland, and globally will thank you for your dedication in years to come.

I want to reiterate Prof Martina Hennessey’s remark, you are the stars. Go forth and shine in the field of medicine. I wish you every success during your internship and look forward to hearing and reading about you in the future.

Thank you.

HSE review of autism services open for submissions

ASD affects many adults and children across the constituency. I want to encourage people with autism spectrum disorder, parents and clinicians to make submissions to a HSE review of autism supports and services. I want to ensure that people with ASD in Dun Laoghaire have access to the necessary supports to enable them to reach their full potential and live rich and fulfilling lives.

I recognise the need for a strategic approach to enhancing the responsiveness and effectiveness of local services to meet the evolving needs of people with ASD.

Following feedback from the constituency, I have been in constant communication with my Cabinet colleague, Minister for Health Simon Harris, highlighting the need for such a review. The HSE has set up a working group to consider the effectiveness of existing services, to identify models of good practice among such services and to identify practice models that are not having a positive impact.

It is important that we identify where in the country services are operating well and where they are not. The HSE has now invited submissions from service users, parents and practitioners and I want to encourage people to take the opportunity to have their voices heard.

“Three workshops will also be held in September with key advocates and NGOs: Disability Federation of Ireland; the National Federation of Voluntary Bodies and Inclusion Ireland and the working group will report on its findings by the end of September.

The Department of Health will initiate an epidemiological research study into the prevalence and future projections for autism spectrum disorder later this year to allow us to plan for the future and future-proof our strategies for people with autism.

Following the advancement of this work, the Minister has told me he intends to proceed next year with a national strategy for enhancing the health service response to people with ASD.

Further information on the review, including how to make your submission, can be found here 

The closing date for submissions is 12 September 2017.

Clonkeen College

I am vehemently opposed to Christian Brothers’ plan to sell off the majority of the playing fields site at Clonkeen College to a developer.

In the past fortnight, I have met with the School Principal and Deputy Principal to discuss the situation. Following those discussions, I wrote to Brother Garvey and to Minister Bruton seeking a resolution. I have received a response from Brother Garvey and have passed that on to the Chairman of the Board of Management. I also requested a meeting with Brother Garvey but he has yet to respond to that request. This morning, along with Cllr. Patricia Stewart and my Special Adviser, I met with members of the Board of Management and advised them that they should urgently seek legal representation.

Clonkeen College has a long history of using these fields and, under the principle of promissory estoppel, they have an understanding that they can continue to use this land in this way into the future. There has been significant investment on the site, both on the school building but also the recently concluded drainage, seeding and fencing of the playing fields themselves. This investment needs to be protected.

These playing fields are absolutely irreplaceable in the locality. There are no alternatives; the fields are a significant public amenity as well as being vital to the wellbeing and fitness of the school students, and a key resource for their physical education. The school community and the community of the greater area would be adversely affected if this land was to be sold.

The Christian Brothers justify the sale of the lands by saying the money is needed to make their outstanding payment to redress scheme. Why these lands? Why penalise the children of Clonkeen College, current and future to pay for the sins of members of the Christian Brothers congregation in the past? It is unacceptable.

I will continue to work with the school and the Minister for Education and Skills to explore every avenue to protect these pitches.

 

 

Aspire Technology announces 150 new jobs in Dublin

Aspire Technology, an independent, Irish-owned and managed ICT company today (Friday, 12 May 2017) announced 150 new jobs at their Irish headquarters in Sandyford, County Dublin. Founded in 2010, Aspire Technology delivers end-to-end mobile network lifecycle professional services and product solutions to the world’s leading telecommunications, equipment and software providers.

The new positions, which are supported by the Department of Jobs through Enterprise Ireland, cover a broad spectrum of ICT and mobile telecommunications technologies and competencies. The roles include software developers, network engineers, design specialists and project managers at both experienced and graduate levels. Recruitment of the new positions is starting immediately including an extensive graduate recruitment programme.

As part of the expansion, Aspire Technology will be adding to their existing headquarters in Sandyford where they will build a state-of-the-art Network Support Centre. The new centre will serve over 16 million mobile customers across 32 markets during 2017. Plans are already in place to grow this facility to manage over 50 million mobile customers.

Announcing the new jobs, Bill Walsh, CEO and Founder of Aspire Technology said: “Aspire Technology’s growth is based on our world-class people whose deep expertise, allied with the innovative and entrepreneurial culture within the company, has resulted in a significant increase in demand for our solutions. We are thrilled that we are doubling our team in 2017. We have amazing opportunities for ambitious candidates who love working with people and technology. Our culture is built on developing and supporting our teams to deliver exceptional expertise to our international blue-chip customers. This culture is reflected in our high levels of employee satisfaction and we are proud to be known in the industry as having an exceptionally high employee retention ratio.”

Welcoming the announcement, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, said: “Today’s announcement that Aspire Technology, an indigenous company, is creating 150 new high-tech, professional jobs in Dublin is exciting and very welcome. It is testament to the vision and hard work of everyone in Aspire Technology that the company has grown from a small start-up into a highly innovative and successful company. The Government through Enterprise Ireland looks forward to continued engagement with Aspire Technology as they scale their business in international markets. I wish Bill and all the team at Aspire continued success for the future.”

Kevin Sherry, Executive Director, Enterprise Ireland concluded: “Enterprise Ireland’s mission is to partner with innovative Irish businesses with the drive and ambition to scale internationally. Aspire Technology is a great example of an indigenous Irish ICT company with global ambition, competing and winning against strong competition in international markets. This expansion is testament to the ambition and capabilities of the company. Enterprise Ireland has been working with Aspire Technology since its establishment in 2010, and we are proud to be backing this exciting new phase in its development with support for 150 new highly-skilled jobs at their headquarters in Dublin.”

Patronage of New Primary School in Dun Laoghaire Awarded to Educate Together

Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and TD for Dun Laoghaire constituency, has welcomed the news that Educate Together has been awarded the patronage of Dun Laoghaire’s new primary school, to be opened in September 2017.

“Dún Laoghaire is growing and thriving thanks to the hard work of Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Chamber, Dún Laoghaire BID, Digital Dún Laoghaire and other local driving forces. This is bringing new people into the area.

“The changing demographic has been reflected in the decision about the patronage of this new school. The Educate Together movement began in Dalkey almost 40 years ago. From one school they have grown to, not just a national body, but an international body, with their first school in the UK opening in 2014. It is fitting that they have been awarded patronage of this new school.

“In accordance with the Programme for Partnership Government, the Government has a strong commitment to increase the number of multi-denominational and non-denominational schools across the country. This will continue as more schools are built to accommodate our growing population.

“As a former teacher, education is always on my radar and this new primary school is a vital addition to the area. Parental preference and demand played a big part in deciding patronage following a public consultation in late 2016. I am delighted that people took the opportunity to be part of that consultation and have their views reflected in the decision.

“September 2017 will be a special time for the students of Dun Laoghaire Educate Together Primary School, and their parents and families who have campaigned for this school for a long time. I look forward to seeing smiling faces at the school gates.

 

Do you need to renew your passport?

As we approach the busy holiday times of Easter and summer, it is important to make sure your passport is in date if you plan to travel abroad. Please check your passport, and the passports of anyone that may be travelling with you, especially children.

At this time of year there is always a seasonal increase in the demand for passports. Added to that, we have a significant increase in applications for Irish passports from the UK, with Brexit on the horizon. Extra staff have been recruited by the Passport Office but delays remain likely.

As of today, the turnaround times from Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) for applications from Ireland are:

Passport Card: 5 working days

Passport Express: 16 working days

FIRST/Lost/Stolen/Damaged passport: 23 working days

It is important to note that applications for a first passport take significantly longer than renewals due to additional security measures.

The turnaround times are changing on a regular basis so the DFA advises allowing at least six weeks for your passport application. Delays are often encountered when forms are incorrectly completed and the six week recommendation allows time for any issues to be resolved.

For genuine emergencies there is a Rapid Renewal Service. Certain specific documentation is required for this and candidates need to make an appointment with the Passport Office on Lower Mount Street. There are limitations to this service, so it’s best to check your passport sooner rather than later and get your application in on time.

The Department of Foreign Affairs offer a reminder service whereby you can register the date of your passport expiry and an email address and they will send you an email when your passport is due for renewal. This is a very useful tool and can be found on www.eforms.gov.ie/en/reminder/passport

Brexit meeting, next Monday, 6th March – hope to see you there!

On Monday next, March 6th, I will host a public meeting on Brexit in the Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel, Killiney at 8pm.

The evening will feature a panel of guest speakers. Joining me on the night will be Mary Buckley, Executive Director with Enterprise Ireland, Kevin Sherry Executive Director with IDA Ireland, Nicola Byrne, Incoming President of the Irish Exporters Association and Lorraine Higgins, Head of Public Affairs with Retail Excellence Ireland.

I would be delighted to see you on the night, please join us for what promises to be an informative discussion.

 

Ministers Mitchell O’Connor, Ross and O’Donovan launch public consultation on resale of tickets for entertainment and sporting events

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor T.D., the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross T.D. and Minister of State Patrick O’ Donovan, T.D. today launched a public consultation on the resale of tickets for entertainment and sporting events.

The consultation is being undertaken in response to public concern at the resale of tickets for major entertainment and sporting events at a price often well in excess of their face value. It seeks the inputs and views of interested parties – consumers, performers and their representatives, promoters, sporting bodies, primary ticketing services providers, secondary ticket marketplaces and others – on possible measures aimed at securing fairer access to tickets for consumers.
The consultation paper looks in detail at a number of relevant aspects of ticket resale, including –
· the workings of the primary and secondary ticket markets for entertainment and sporting events,
· how tickets sold or allocated through the primary ticket market end up for resale on the secondary ticket market and who puts them for resale,
· the legislation regulating ticket resale in Ireland, other EU member states, the US and other countries, and
· what different stakeholders do, or do not do, to address the issues and concerns raised by ticket resale.

The paper further sets out, and seeks views, on a number of possible measures that might be taken by the parties involved in the organisation of entertainment and sporting events and in the primary and secondary ticket markets, and by Government, to ensure that fans who wish to attend major entertainment or sporting events do not have to pay exorbitant prices to do so.

Commenting on the launch of the consultation, Minister Mitchell O’Connor said; “We share the public concern at the resale of tickets for major events at inflated prices as seen most recently with tickets for the concert by U2 in July. While the resale of tickets for events characterised by high demand and limited supply is not new, the forms it takes have been transformed by the growth of online selling, including through secondary ticket marketplaces linked to primary ticket sellers. Though ticket resale has been the subject of considerable comment, there is a lack of reliable information about important aspects of the practice, including its incidence, the sources of tickets put up for resale, and the prices achieved, as opposed to advertised, on the secondary ticket market.”

Minister Ross said: “We have huge sympathy for the frustration experienced by genuine fans who feel they are being short changed by the resale of tickets, often at exorbitant prices, to popular events. While we most certainly need to consider legislation that will regulate ticket resale, we also need to be sure that any such legislation will be effective and targeted and will not give rise to unwelcome unintended consequences such as driving ticket resale underground or diverting it to other countries.”

Minister O’Donovan added: “Given that we are hosting some of the UEFA 2020 games and hope to win the bid for hosting the 2023 Rugby World Cup, it is vital we examine the issue of ticket touting at this time. Ultimately we want to ensure that sport and music fans get fair access to tickets, without any unintended consequences which may impact on the events or the economy. So I’d encourage all those interested to make submissions by the closing date of 31st March”

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https://www.djei.ie/en/Consultations/Consultation-Resale-of-Tickets-Entertainment-Sporting-Events.html

Notes

Tickets sold by venues, promoters and sporting bodies or by ticketing service providers authorised by them constitute primary ticket sales and the arrangements by which such tickets are sold constitute the primary ticket market. On the secondary ticket market, tickets previously sold or allocated through the primary ticket market are sold or offered for sale.

Ticket resale is now increasingly conducted on specialist ticket marketplaces which do not sell tickets or set their prices but facilitate sales between sellers and buyers for which they receive a fee from one or both parties to the sale. The main secondary marketplaces operating in Ireland are Seatwave which was acquired by Ticketmaster in 2014, StubHub which was acquired by eBay in 2007, and viagogo, a European based platform founded in 2006 by a former co-founder of StubHub. Tickets for entertainment and sporting events are also commonly offered for secondary sale on general online platforms or advertising websites such as DoneDeal, Gumtree (owned by eBay) and eBay itself as well as on social networks such as Facebook or Twitter.

Though ticket sale and resale are subject to general consumer protection legislation, there is no statutory prohibition of ticket resale in Ireland or regulation of the mark-up over the face value of tickets offered for sale on the secondary market. Ticket resale is also permitted in the UK and most European Union member states. Though a number of US states enacted legislation on ticket touting or ‘scalping’ as far back as the 1920s, the trend, until recently at least, has been for these restrictions to be repealed or curtailed. In December 2016, however, provisions aimed at combating the use of ticket purchasing software were enacted by the US Congress.