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

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”



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.

Unemployment continues to decrease, now at lowest level since August 2008

New figures from the Central Statistics Office show that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell  to 7.2% in December from 7.3% in November – the lowest level since August 2008.
The jobless rate has now fallen for seven months in a row and is down from a post-crisis high of 15.2% at the beginning of 2012.

It compares with a current euro zone average of 9.8%.

However it is still too high and I will be working hard with enterprise agencies: IDA, EI and Local Enterprise Offices, employers, unions, ISME, IBEC, Small Firms’ Association , Irish Exporters’ Association, other Government Departments and all stakeholders to further improve employment chances for people who want to and need to work.

IDA figures published yesterday shows that nearly 200,000 people  working in Ireland now directly employed in Foreign Direct Investment Companies.

52% of all jobs announced were outside Dublin. I will be continuing to push the regional agenda so that there is a good spread of jobs right across the country. The pipeline for further jobs to be created by FDI is good.

Enterprise Ireland will be publishing their annual employment figures on Monday next.




Applications for Patronage of new primary school for Dun Laoghaire now open

Monday 3pm

Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor has today welcomed the news that applications for patronage of a new primary school to be established in Dún Laoghaire in September 2017 are now open.

“My colleague The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton, T.D., has today invited school patron bodies/prospective school patron bodies to apply for the patronage of this new primary school.

“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 plays a big part in deciding patronage so I urge parents to get involved and have the chance to influence the patronage of this school.

“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. It is important that the changing demographic is reflected in the patronage of this new school.


The school will be established in line with the requirements and criteria for the patronage of new schools. These requirements and criteria are published on the Department of Education’s website.

Parental preferences from parents of children living in the area, along with the extent of diversity in the area, will be key factors in deciding on the patronage of the school. As part of the process, parents have an opportunity to express their preference for their preferred patron body and also to express their preference for their child to be educated through the medium of Irish or of English.

We can achieve a top 5 ranking for global competitiveness

Speech to Dublin Chamber, Friday 25th November


Distinguished Guests.

Friends and Colleagues.

Members of Dublin Chamber.

First let me tell you how honoured I am to address you this morning.

During these first six months in my job as Minister it has truly been a privilege getting to know the many heroes of Irish business. Businesses in both the public and private sector that drive our economy.

None more so than in the Chambers of Commerce across Ireland.
And of course here in Dublin.
You are the voice of Dublin business.
You provide a fantastic local and international business network.
And you inspire business learning and leadership.

I know that future challenges exist in a politically uncertain world.
This is no time for resting on our laurels or complacency – we made those mistakes before.

There are uncertain times ahead, but there are also exciting times ahead.
I believe we need to develop unity of purpose between the public and private sectors in Ireland.

As Minister, I want
– to improve our business environment,
– to help our companies scale-up,
– and most of all to achieve full employment
….so that everyone who aspires to a quality job can achieve it.

A job is only the start though.

I want to Dublin to be one of the
– most exciting,
– most entrepreneurial
– globally focussed cities in Europe
offering a lifestyle and quality of life unparalleled in Europe.

I believe that maintaining economic stability coupled with ambitious growth targets will help us on our way.

I want to acknowledge two recent milestones that have been achieved during my term.

The credit for these goes to the Irish people and business community who have driven this growth.

For the first time since 2008, over two million people are back working in Ireland.

Employment has grown by 56,500 in the last 12 months.

190,000 additional people are at work since the start of the Action Plan for Jobs Process in 2012.

And the unemployment rate is now at 7.9%.

Similarly, the live register has dropped below 300,000 for the first time over the same period.

In Dublin, employment levels are only 3% off what they were during their highest point. Unemployment was 13.4% and is now 7.5%. This is a good time to be doing business in Dublin as the economy continues to go from strength to strength.

It is clear based on a range of economic indicators, including arrivals at Dublin Airport, Dublin Port throughput, public passenger journeys, office vacancy rates, office rents and residential rents, that in many areas economic activity in Dublin is back at or close to peak levels.

I have spent my first six months assessing the business environment for threats and looking for opportunities to build on all of this progress.

My vision of our economy is one where the best and brightest Irish minds can – make and provide – world-class products and services – and sell them to the rest of the world at a profit.

I want us to strive to be
– the smartest,
– most productive
– and most innovative
….economy possible – to be global leaders in innovation.

To do this, we have to put people and skills at the heart of our economic strategy.

I want multi-nationals to come here because they know in Ireland they have access to one of the most talented and flexible workforces on the planet.

Equally though, I want Irish entrepreneurs to have the self-confidence to know that they are supported in finding and developing innovations and in finding and serving new markets.

I want Irish entrepreneurs to know that basing yourself here, you have the supports needed to take on global challenges.

Irish people are very creative; our next phase of growth will be about commercialising our creativity.

Our creativity as a business community is what will give us a competitive edge.

That is why, by the end of next year, I want both our main enterprise agencies, Enterprise Ireland and the IDA, to each bring their total job numbers to over 200,000.

This is very achievable in my view.

Despite all of the challenges on the horizon, I still maintain full employment is possible within the lifetime of this Government.

To achieve this we need to focus on two key elements – competiveness and capacity-building.

Winning new business and keeping the business we already have, requires a competitive edge.

This is the best way to build resilience and to insulate your business from any external shocks.

My view of competitiveness is not just confined to controlling costs.
– exchange rates,
– interest rates
– and oil prices
are all costs that we can’t control in this economy.

That is why our competitiveness strategy has to be about people and addressing the factors within our control.
– People and skills,
– human capital,
– creativity and innovation
…are essential to making sure we are always a step ahead of the rest.

We need to be at the forefront of global innovation and education.

By 2020, it is my ambition to bring Ireland into a top five ranking position when it comes to competitiveness.

So improving the skillset of the labour force is the best way to achieve this.

To that end, we must continue to focus on in-company training and development and workplace innovation.

We recognise that we need to continue to invest in the skills supply pipeline.
By investing in research and teaching in higher and further education.

We have to be ahead of the global curve for the exporting sectors where we hold an advantage.

In Dublin these sectors include
– life-sciences,
– financial services,
– ICT and digital content creation.

We are implementing our Innovation 2020 strategy.

I am currently setting targets with our research community to see significant increases in our post-doctoral and post-graduate researchers.

The world of work is changing rapidly.

Digitalisation is both a fantastic opportunity and a challenge for all businesses.

Digital technologies, combining data analytics, cloud computing and Internet of Things are changing:
– how goods are made
– and manufactured
– and how businesses serve their customers.
These technologies are also increasing the levels of competition in markets for customers.

New business models are emerging such as the sharing economy with the growth of Airbnb and Uber.

Public and private sector collaboration is vital to achieving the transformation needed to compete in the Irish enterprise base.
Investing in research is risky.

The State can help to reduce that risk by encouraging innovation at enterprise level.

I am currently reviewing the key markets and technologies that will be important for us for the future as part of a refresh of Research Prioritisation.

The other key item I’m focussing on for next year is the Action Plan for Jobs for 2017.
‘Towards full employment’ is my key objective.
As I already said, I believe we can achieve during the lifetime of this Government.
The preparatory work is well advanced.

I’ve selected certain themes that will form the key policy focus for my Department in 2017.
– improving productivity,
– quality of work,
– enhancing female entrepreneurship
…will all feature as key themes of the document.
I want our economic and competitive strategy as a country to be based on people and the skillset of the Irish work force.

We are among the most dynamic workforce in the world and with 40% of our population under 30.

We can have a bright future.

Now, when I look at the current economic challenges of our capital city, it is clear that success is bringing its own challenges for Dublin.

We need to manage the expansion of our public and private transport around the city.

We need to accelerate new house supply to avert risks to our competitiveness.

We need to catch-up to address the needs of a growing economy.

I’m working with my Cabinet Colleagues to ensure that the enterprise and competitiveness needs are prioritised.

The most immediate priority is housing.

The Dublin skyline is dotted with cranes and building much needed office and commercial premises.

We’re generating a large number of jobs in Dublin.

And we need to ensure we have sufficient places for the people in those jobs to sleep and live. This has real potential to frustrate the economic recovery.
The Government’s plans in this area are well known as published by Minister Coveney in Rebuilding Ireland.

This plan has the confidence of the construction sector.

There are some really exciting developments underway such as those in the SDZs of Cherrywood and the Dublin Docklands.

I believe the long-term potential is there to reinvent what we consider urban living in Dublin.

From my perspective, as Minister, we need to ensure that we have plan quality urban living around our enterprises and job creation hubs.

Dublin needs to become a smart city that enables easy access for all of our people to:
– live,
– work
– and play.

Only this week, the Phoenix Park tunnel has opened to daily rail passengers for the first time.

We are just twelve to eighteen months away from having our two Luas lines linked.

It’ll be possible to travel from Cherrywood to Maynooth, Heuston station or Howth with limited transport changes.

Added to this are the future plans for Metro North.

I see the potential for Dublin to become much more pedestrian and public transport friendly in the years ahead.

I’ll also briefly mention water.

It’s a huge issue for the Greater Dublin Region in the near future.

All I will say is having a national water company will make solving Dublin’s water capacity issues far easier.

Dublin local authorities can’t be expected to develop a solution in isolation.

Plans are well advanced for finding a new water source for Dublin.

This will secure the economic potential for the next few decades.

I know these areas are outside my own direct policy remit.

But we want to base our economic strategy on people and there is an onus on us as a city, to provide a high quality of life to people.

London, Zurich, Copenhagen, Vienna, Frankfurt, Singapore – these are the cities which we will be competing with for investment.

– housing,
– access to schools,
– public transport,
….these will form an increasing part of the major investment pitch for Dublin and Ireland in the years ahead.

Capacity-building to cope for employment growth is one of our most immediate goals.

We will need this if we are to take advantage of the opportunities that Brexit may offer Dublin.

Now speaking of Brexit, this is a word we will have to get used to using for the next three to four years.

If not longer. Whenever you hear the word ‘Brexit’ you can expect to hear either ‘Uncertainty’ or ‘lack of clarity’.

This uncertainty makes business and economic planning considerably difficult.

While the UK is still to set out what the Brexit will mean for it, we shouldn’t see Brexit as a single event.

Brexit will permanently realign the political and trade relationships between Britain and Europe.

All of us will have to reposition ourselves towards a new ‘normal’.

The sectors that are most exposed to Brexit include our retail, food, construction and tourism sectors.

There are approximately 100,000 Irish jobs directly linked to UK exports.

That accounts for more than a third of our overall exports.

Having recently visited three London Ministers in Whitehall, it is still unclear what type of trade relationship they are looking for with Europe.

They’ve a clear desire for free trade.

They’ve no interest in returning to a world of extensive trade barriers.

I expect, in time, they will seek a bespoke agreement with Europe.

I don’t think they’ll seek to trade on any existing model of trade such as Norway, Switzerland, Canada or Turkey.

Whether this will be accepted across Europe remains to be seen.

However, as a Government Minister, I will not be shy or coy about seeking the most advantageous outcome for Ireland in those negotiations.

We owe that to our people.

Our enterprises have built up resilience over the last eight years.

However, I know that companies will also need assistance managing through the challenges of Brexit.

Having met with the various business organisations, many companies have very different asks.
– some want low-cost finance,
– some want assistance with hedging
– and so on.

There is not one approach, but it will require different solutions in different sectors.

My Department has started a series of focus groups with key stakeholders that will form a wider and deeper quantitative survey.

I want to ensure that whatever response Government provides, it is both targeted and appropriate to company’s needs.

There is little point in me as Minister prescribing a Brexit response.

It has to come from the specific sectors across the economy.

Currently, I am working with Enterprise Ireland, to develop targeted, evidence-based responses that will help companies diversify and find new markets.

We’ll do this by engaging with:
– all stakeholders
– in all sectors
– across all regions.

To cope with Brexit, Irish companies will have to internationalise to a greater extent.

This is why trade agreements like CETA between Europe and Canada are so important.

Despite global events, we cannot underestimate the importance for free trade for job creation in Ireland.

Having just returned from a trade mission to both China and Japan, much of the world’s growth in spending will be in the East.

As a country that produces
– food,
– software,
– biopharma goods,
….we need continued access to world markets.

If the world’s political forces were to halt or stymie free trade, Ireland would suffer more than most.

That is why, we remain firmly
– committed to EU membership,
– committed to free and fair trade
– and committed to global market opportunities.

We’re entering a period of significant challenges, yet I remain ambitious.

Full employment is the major goal of my Department.

I believe with the strength and spirit of the Irish entrepreneurial community, full employment is possible.

Providing economic opportunity for people is the reason I got into politics.

To change people’s lives for the better.

We have shown the ability to take on the world and succeed.

Let’s not stop now.

Let’s continue to be
– positive,
– ambitious
– and determined
… we face global challenges.

I am honoured to be in the position that I am in.

I intend to make the most out of it for all.

Go raibh mile maith agaibh go leir.