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.

€4 million Capital Fund announced for Community Youth Groups

There is good news for community youth groups today following the announcement of the establishment of a €4 million capital fund which will be made available to volunteer led youth groups, to allow them to purchase equipment that will support their work in the community

Volunteer led youth groups are at the heart of every town and village in Ireland. Up and down the country there are groups bringing sport, theatre and arts, music, adventure, technology and so many other activities to the young people of their community. It is important that these are recognised and that funding is made available to support the equipment needs of such clubs.

As a parent, former teacher and Principal, I know how many children across Dun Laoghaire have benefitted from access to activities through community youth groups. We cannot underestimate the importance of these groups in a child’s development, mentally, physically and socially.

I welcome the news that this funding is to be made available and encourage volunteer led youth groups, across the constituency, who are in need of equipment to apply. Over 1,500 clubs across the country will be eligible to apply for this funding. The application process is expected to open in late September and I will share further details as they become available.

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.



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.


Monkstown Village Improvement Scheme

After a long wait, the Monkstown Village Traffic Improvement Scheme is due to start shortly.

Cllr. Patricia Stewart and I have been working on this for several years now so it is very good news to hear that contractors will be on site soon. The scheme presents an opportunity to improve and enhance the public realm in this conservation area whilst improving road safety.

The major elements of the scheme are:
• A signalised pedestrian crossing at Spar
• An increased area of granite at the “Ring” with extra planting and seating
• Two-way road in front of the church
• One-way (and left only) in front of Goggins; one-way on Clifton Avenue (towards the sea)
• Narrowing of the carriageway through the village and widening of footpath
• Parking bays will be indented and surfaced with cobble sets
• Raised flower beds in the Crescent to provide an attractive separation from the road
• A crossing point is being added at Avoca which will incorporate seating and planting
• The existing overhead cables will be removed and the poles relocated
• Street furniture will be rationalised & decorative lighting added
• Loading bays will be reduced in size resulting in no loss of parking as a result of the new scheme

This scheme aims primarily to improve road safety but it will also visually enhance Monkstown.

If you have any further questions on the scheme, Cllr. Patricia Stewart is available to help you at 086 8291002 or at patriciastewart.ie@gmail.com. Alternatively, if I can be of assistance on this, or any local or national issue, please contact my office on 01-6312219 or by email to mary.mitchelloconnor@oireachtas.ie.

All documentation and drawings can be found on:


Dun Laoghaire to get 14,800 new homes, 5,000 before 2021

Dun Laoghaire Fine Gael TD, and Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor welcomes Government funding that will deliver 14,800 new homes to the area.

The €40 million in funding for Dun Laoghaire represents Fine Gael’s commitment in the Programme for Government to increase access to public infrastructure and enable more housing to be developed.

Some 5,000 houses will be built in the area by 2021, with the potential for 14,800 houses to be built here in total in the long term.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor said: “This funding will help deliver a strong mix of private, rental and social housing delivery at appropriate locations and create new and attractive local communities to live in at affordable prices and rents.”

“In recent months I have been at a number of significant jobs announcements in the constituency, most recently Microsoft, where 600 additional jobs will be created. I am acutely aware of the importance of quality housing stock in attracting companies and workers to the area and this funding will help to significantly increase the number of homes being built.

“These homes are important; we know there are housing and accommodation shortages in certain areas. Fine Gael is dedicated to improving the lives of families and children. Everyone has a right to a home and we are ensuring this is possible. We will continue this work throughout the 32nd Dáil” the Minister added.

“Together with other targeted and complementary measures under the Government’s Action Plan for Housing, the delivery of this housing in the next four years will have an extremely positive impact on the availability of housing in the short to medium term.”

“Through the work undertaken, we are now making progress in recalibrating a sector that has faced enormous challenges in recent years.

“Today’s announcement of the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation projects signals what can be achieved from a collaborative approach involving local authorities, public bodies and housing providers, working together to maximize the impact on housing development and delivery from the focussed use of available public funds.”

The Minister went on to say that Dun Laoghaire’s new funding represents an effective use of targeted funding to achieve real results for ordinary citizens, adding that the announcement will lead to the delivery of 23,000 housing units nationally by 2021 and an overall figure of over 69,000 housing units in the next ten to fifteen years in areas where the shortage of supply is critical.

“Through the projects announced today under LIHAF, together with the completion of our review of the Government’s Capital Plan and the development of a new National Planning Framework later this year, we will see further sustainable progress being made to address our housing needs and accelerate our economic and social recovery”.

This is a great example of ‘joined-up Government’ and has acted as the trigger to draw both public and private partners together to leverage much wider public and private sector investment.,” The Minister concluded.

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.


EVO Payments International to add 50 new jobs in Dun Laoghaire as part of €9.1 million investment

EVO Payments International, a leading card payment service provider operating throughout North America and Europe, has announced the creation of 50 new jobs and the opening of a new Irish headquarters as part of a €9.1 million investment in the Irish market.
The new full-time positions, spanning sales and marketing, customer support and administration, will be based in the company’s new head office in Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin.

EVO has begun recruiting for the new positions and expects to fill all roles this year. With extensive operations in North America and Europe, EVO employs over 2,000 professionals today.

The announcement was made by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor at an event in the company’s new headquarters today.

Operating under the BOI Payment Acceptance (BOIPA) brand name in Ireland, EVO established a presence here in 2014 and works in partnership with Bank of Ireland in providing innovative card point of sale and online payment solutions for Irish SME and corporate businesses.
The company has played a central role in the accelerated growth of card and contactless payment adoption in the Irish market.

In just two years, the company has grown from five to 70 people. The addition of 50 new people will bring the Irish workforce to 120 people in 2017.

Announcing the new jobs and additional investment in the company’s new offices in Dun Laoghaire, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor warmly welcomed the expansion, saying:

‘This is a great success story with a further 50 jobs being announced today. The alliance between EVO Payments International and Bank of Ireland brings together a world leading international payments technology company and a major Irish financial institution, and the result is a great win for Ireland. I am confident the company will get the required skills from our talented workforce, and I look forward to the business going from strength to strength in the future.’

Debit card spend in Ireland last year was over €30 billion, a 20 per cent increase year-on-year. Total card spend in Ireland is over €40 billion with an additional €13 billion spent online.

Speaking at the announcement today, Mr Brian Cleary, Managing Director of BOI Payment Acceptance Ireland and UK said:
‘We’re delighted to announce our additional investment and expansion in Ireland today. We’ve experienced rapid growth here over the past two years, driven mostly by the increasing use of card payments by Irish consumers, the adoption of new card payment technologies by Irish businesses to meet that demand, and a growing Irish economy. Equally, our strategic partnership with Bank of Ireland means we continue to deliver for more Irish businesses and consumers.

‘With over six million debit and credit cards in the market, debit card spend on the increase year-on-year and with over 35,000 Irish businesses offering contactless payment facilities, this number continues to grow. Our additional investment reinforces our commitment to rapidly expanding our presence in both the Irish and UK markets and will ensure we are well positioned to meet the demand for new and innovative payment solutions among consumers and businesses in Ireland,’ he said.

The project has been supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation through IDA.

Congratulating the company on its expansion, Martin Shanahan, CEO, IDA Ireland said: ‘Ireland is well positioned as a ‘payments’ hub within Europe and today’s expansion by EVO Payments International further strengthens this. There are huge opportunities for growth in this area as consumers continue to embrace technology in their daily lives. IDA Ireland is focussed on winning more business in this area in the coming months.’

Public Consultation on Sandymount / Merrion to Blackrock Corridor Study timeline extended

The National Transport Authority has recently extended the deadline for people to have their say on the proposed Sandymount/Merrion to Blackrock (and later potentially extended to Sandycove) travel corridor has been extended until 31 January 2017 at 5pm.

Full information on the proposals can be found on the link below:

Consultation on Sandymount / Merrion to Blackrock Corridor Study

This will impact everyone, drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, public transport users, residents, businesses etc. so I would encourage you to read the proposal and make a submission if you would like to. Public consultation gives everyone a chance to have their voice heard.