Monica Barnes RIP

It is with profound sadness that I learned of Monica Barnes passing last evening. Monica was the most wonderful, warm hearted woman and represented our Dun Laoghaire constituency so ably. She was articulate, sincere, and passionate about the advancement of women.

Only last week when I spoke to her, she was excited and enthusiastic about coming to our next DunLaoghaire Constituency meeting and celebrating Votáil 100. She was also due to participate in an event tomorrow for Fine Gael women of the “Class of ‘83”.

I have the lovely memory of meeting three generations of the Barnes family a few short weeks ago: Monica, Sarah and her granddaughter Ailbhe. It was clear how much of Monica’s energy and passion has been passed through the generations.

I offer my deepest condolences to the Barnes family.

Article from The Irish Times: Mitchell O’Connor Pledges Support to Clonkeen College Board

“Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor has voiced her support for the Clonkeen College board of management in its dispute with the school patron over the sale of sports playing fields.

Speaking to a packed parents association public meeting on Monday night, Ms Mitchell O’Connor said she would work “tirelessly” to ensure the board of management and school community got a fair hearing at Government level and to protect the interests of current and future pupils at the south Dublin boy’s school. read more…

 

Speech in Dáil Éireann on Clonkeen College – Topical Issues Thursday 01 February 2018

I am a neighbour to Clonkeen College. My home is a few hundred metres away. My neighbours’ children are pupils in the school and many former pupils of mine have been educated there.

Clonkeen College is an outstanding school with an excellent reputation. Offering a comprehensive and holistic education to all its students, including a wide range of sports, including football.

I also want to draw attention to the Special Needs Unit in Clonkeen College. This unit serves children accessing a Special Education which, I understand, needs to be delivered in a caring, special environment.

I supported this Special Needs Unit in my time as Principal of the Harold School, and indeed have visited it. And I have seen, first-hand, the great work that is carried out within this Special Needs Unit.

I want to say that I know first-hand how great this school has been managed and also its competent Board of Management.

The Department, and indeed the Taxpayer, as is well known, has invested over €10 million in its development and enhancement in recent years.

I want to put on the record of this House that I have worked tirelessly since last summer to facilitate a resolution to this issue.

I arranged a meeting between the Minister for Education and Skills, and Principal, and members of staff, and the Board, and the Department, to which I invited Deputy Boyd Barrett and other Elected Representatives.

I have met subsequently with the school principal, Board of Management, individual parents, and pupils, and stakeholders, on numerous occasions.

I have communicated with stakeholders and also with the School Principal, often on a bi-weekly basis, and indeed in some cases on a daily basis.

I understand the statutory role of the Minister for Education now in this process.

However, speaking for myself, as an Elected Member for Dun Laoghaire, and as a former school Principal in the area that has spent 31 years of my career educating children, I still believe that talks between both sides is the best route forward in this process.

As a local TD, I am available to do whatever I can to bring both sides back to the table. Thank you.

* BOIL WATER NOTICE FOR PARTS OF DLR *

* BOIL WATER NOTICE*

A Boil Water Notice has been put in place as a precautionary measure following a mechanical failure at Vartry Water Treatment Plant

29th Jan 2018 – Following advice from the Health Service Executive, Irish Water and Wicklow County Council have issued a Boil Water Notice for the areas supplied by the Vartry Water Treatment Plant.

The following areas in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown are included: Corke Abbey, Woodbrook Glen, Old Connaught Avenue, Thornhill Road, Ballyman Road, Ferndale Road from its junction with Old Connaught Avenue to Allies River Road, The Dublin Road from the junction of Old Connaught Avenue to Allies River Road, and all areas off these roads.

The Boil Water Notice has been put in place as a precautionary measure to protect approximately 65,000 people served by this supply following the mechanical failure of the chlorine booster at the plant. All water treatment at the plant must have adequate chlorine levels added to the water to make it safe to drink.

Irish Water will liaise with the HSE with a view to having the Boil Water Notice removed as soon as possible. Irish Water are carrying out chlorine dosing on the supply today and have put in place a water sampling programme to test the chlorine levels in the impacted areas.

In the meantime, all customers of this supply are advised to boil water before use until further notice.

Irish Water apologises for the inconvenience caused by the imposition of the boil water notice. We will continue to work closely with Wicklow County Council, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown and Dublin City Council who run the plant on behalf of Irish Water and the HSE to monitor the supply and lift the notice as quickly as possible.

Irish Water was recently granted planning permission to upgrade the Vartry Water Treatment Plant which will restore the plant and ensure it meets all drinking water regulations and safeguards public health. The contract to construct the upgraded water treatment plant is due be awarded at the end of 2018 and construction will take two years to complete. The existing water treatment plant will then be decommissioned.

For more information and additional advice, please call our 24-hour customer care line at 1850 278 278.

Water must be boiled for:

Drinking
Drinks made with water
Preparation of salads and similar foods, which are not cooked prior to eating
Brushing of teeth
Making of ice – discard ice cubes in fridges and freezers and filtered water in fridges. Make ice from cooled boiled water.

What actions should be taken:

Use water prepared for drinking when preparing foods that will not be cooked (e.g. washing salads)

Water can be used for personal hygiene, bathing and flushing of toilets but not for brushing teeth or gargling

Boil water by bringing to a vigorous, rolling boil (e.g. with an automatic kettle) and allow to cool. Cover and store in a refrigerator or cold place. Water from the hot tap is not safe to drink. Domestic water filters will not render water safe to drink

Caution should be taken when bathing children to ensure that they do not swallow the bathing water

Prepare infant feeds with water that has been brought to the boil once and cooled. Do not use water that has been re-boiled several times. If bottled water is used for the preparation of infant feeds it should be boiled once and cooled. If you are using bottled water for preparing baby food, be aware that some natural mineral water may have high sodium content. The legal limit for sodium in drinking water is 200mg per litre. Check the label on the bottled water to make sure the sodium or `Na’ is not greater than 200mg per litre. If it is, then it is advisable to use a different type of bottled water. If no other water is available, then use this water for as short a time as possible. It is important to keep babies hydrated.

Great care should be taken with boiled water to avoid burns and scalds as accidents can easily happen, especially with children.

Library Services in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown to receive investment of over €100,000

Library services in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown are to receive €100,800 in extra funding, Fine Gael Minister of State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has said.

The funding was announced this week by the Minister for Rural & Community Development, Michael Ring TD.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor said “This represents an unprecedented Government investment in our public libraries. The funding will allow for the modernisation of our library service and for the extension of library opening hours.”

“The investment package comprises €75,600 from the Department of Rural and Community Development, supplemented by additional funding of €25,200 from Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council. This funding is in addition to significant funding already provided by Minister Ring’s Department for public libraries here this year.”

“A library is much more than a building with books on a shelf, it is a community hub, a centre of knowledge and learning, a treasure trove of literature, information and technology. This investment in libraries in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown will greatly enhance the range and quality of services available to users.”

“As an avid reader myself, as well as a former School Principal, Teacher, Mother and Grandmother I value the role our libraries have in education, culture, personal development and entertainment as well as providing access to IT facilities and meeting spaces.”

“In the days of electronic readers and e-books it is heartening to see that rather than libraries declining, they continue to grow. In Dun Laoghaire Rathdown, library membership grew by over 20,000 between 2010 and 2015, testament to the key role our libraries play in our communities.”

“This investment will enable the implementation of our new public library strategy which will be launched early next year and which will be focused on modernising the public library service in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown. It’s an ambitious strategy which is aimed at increasing library membership and usage of our public libraries.

“This programme of funding demonstrates Fine Gaels continued commitment to the public library service over the coming five-year period of the strategy.”

“I’ve traveled the world twice over,
Met the famous; saints and sinners,
Poets and artists, kings and queens,
Old stars and hopeful beginners,
I’ve been where no-one’s been before,
Learned secrets from writers and cooks
All with one library ticket
To the wonderful world of books.” – Janice James

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.

Speech at the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Chamber County Business Awards Thursday 28 September

Cathaoirleach, Pat Neill, fellow TDs, Senators and Councillors, ladies and gentlemen: good evening! I am so thrilled to be here at the inaugural County Business Awards in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown.

It’s recognition of the huge contribution business makes to the vibrancy of the county and the well-being of those who live in it. The categories of award cover almost every conceivable type of business: from start up to green business. From international trade to small retailer.  And of course a top award to the Business Leader of the year.

The eclectic mix is eye catching. It reflects the wide range of business in the County.  Whether it is global multinationals in the Sandyford Business District, restaurants and pubs in Monkstown and Dalkey, or retailing in Dundrum and Dun Laoghaire the blend is alluring and attractive.

You all make a valuable contribution:

– fulfilling consumers’ expectations,

– creating worthwhile jobs and wealth,

– paying taxes,

– being good corporate citizens.

You are building a better Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown.

 

At Government level we are working to build a better Ireland in which the businesses, families and citizens of this County can flourish and prosper.

Look at jobs. There are now 2,063,000 people at work in Ireland. The unemployment rate has fallen to 6.1 per cent; the lowest it has been since 2008. All those people at work in our County are supporting local businesses, large and small.

Most of you here are in business. As you know, my colleague Paschal Donohoe will announce Budget 2018 in twelve days. His first principle is to balance our books to keep Ireland secure in a risky world. That means paying our way and cutting borrowing, so that we can be better prepared for the uncertain future we face.

Brexit is the greatest economic challenge ahead and brings huge levels of risk and uncertainty. The challenge for the Government is to respond to uncertainty by bringing as much certainty as we can. Paschal is fond of quoting the Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle who said “Doubt, of whatever kind, can be ended by action alone”. And so we need to take action. Action to prepare for the likely and unlikely outcomes of Brexit negotiations.

We need to continue to invest in and support the work of Enterprise Ireland, the IDA and our Local Enterprise Offices. We need to protect our 12.5% corporate tax rate from the renewed pressure at European level.  (That’s a red line issue for anyone who is serious about Ireland’s future on the international stage.)And we need to invest to ensure that our transport links to mainland Europe are fit for purpose for a post Brexit landscape.

On the supply side, we have to agree on how to use our recovery to invest in the change and the supports we need for better opportunities for all. That means investing taxpayers’ money carefully and with continued reform to deliver the best capital projects, services and targeted income supports. Budget 2018 will be fair and prudent. Never again will be gamble on the nation’s future.

Our challenge is to deliver more for vital infrastructure: housing, roads, energy and water. In Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, an example is upgrading the nearly 150 year old reservoir in Stillorgan which serves 200,000 people.

Or to deliver better health services, faster broadband and a more efficient public transport system. Locally, an example is more orbital bus routes around Dun Laoghaire, and more DART trains running. 

And to deliver on our promise of more housing, both social and private. That’s more affordable housing for people who want to settle down. People who want to raise families, work or return to Ireland. This week a major planning application was lodged for the new town soon to emerge at Cherrywood with 8,000 homes for 30,000 people.

As Minister for Higher Education, I am particularly focused on capital investment. Budget 2018 will allocate an additional €4.1 billion for capital investment over the next four years. The Government will be publishing a ten year capital plan for Ireland soon after the Budget. That has implications for Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown and the entire country.

Locally, I am confident that the Chamber, its members and the Council will play their part in delivering a better life for all.

In particular, I want to finish by once more saluting our winners here this evening. You will play a special role in realising locally what our long-term national vision will aspire to. I congratulate you and wish you continued success.

Thank you.

Returners: Our Workforce Needs You

Minister of State, Mary Mitchell O’Connor hosted a “Returners” event in the LexIcon Library, in Dun Laoghaire on Monday 25th of September.

Speakers were invited to give advice to over 100 attendees on how to make the job market work for them.

The panel included Margot Slattery, Margot is Country President of the Irish operations of food and facilities management company Sodexo. Globally Sodexo employs 430,000 people and has a work force of 3,800 in Ireland of which 59% are female. Margot is an industry leader in diversity, inclusion and flexible work practices.

Emer Kirk from Harvest Financials covered the subject of women and their pensions and how to prepare for retirement having taken time out of the work force to rear children, care for elderly relatives or due to illness.

Alan McGrath from the Higher Education Authority spoke on the courses and opportunities available to everyone to up-skill and re-skill and cited Springboard+ as being an invaluable resource to help you re-enter the work place fully skilled and equipped to face all the modern day challenges.

Alan was followed by Elaine Russell who has recently set up the Irish division of a UK franchise called Women Returners.ie. A website packed full of invaluable information on companies and industry who are keen to recruit females who want to return to work.

Paula King psychologist and coach, and CEO of Kingstown College challenged the audience to overcome confidence issues and how not to allow personal barriers stop you from challenging yourself to embark on a new career or return to a previous one.

Finally the last speaker was Ailish McGlew who returned to work after taking some time out to rear her three small children. Ailish spoke from the heart on how to make returning to the work force work for you and your family.

On the night the Minister said “As we reach full employment at a faster pace than envisioned in the programme of Government and Enterprise we have to ensure there is sufficient labour force with the right skills”

The Minister challenged her guest speakers to illuminate the route back to work for many of the attendees who had a desire to return to the work place after various extended breaks in their CVs.

Most of the local colleges and Institutes had sent representatives and a number of recruitment companies attended hoping to meet potential candidates.

At the end of the event the Minister thanked her guest speakers and the audience who took part in a lively and entertaining Q&A and said “I think we also need to encourage and facilitate employers to view ‘returners’ in a positive light. They have the ability to strengthen their skills base and have the ability to address their talent constraints”

Returners: Our Workforce Needs You

 

If you are currently out of work, at home or on an extended career break – and you are feeling intimidated at the prospect of returning to work or your career, then this event is for you.

I invite you to meet some of our country’s brightest and inspiring experts: You will garner important information on how to prepare yourself for this, sometimes daunting, step.

Speakers include:

Margot Slattery, Country President, Sodexo Ireland – Describing herself as a ‘worker’, Margot has quietly championed inclusion and equality in the workplace and made Sodexo an industry leader in, their term, ‘quality of life services’ – Leading the way in new and flexible work practices.

Emer Kirk, Head of Development and Marketing, Harvest Financial – Emer specialises in the area of advice on pensions and retirement planning. She is an associate of the Institute of Taxation and co-founder of Connect Women in Pensions, a network that supoprts the importance of retirement planning for women.

Elaine Russell, Head of Women Returners in Ireland. Having spent over 20 years leading commercial teams in large multinationals. Elaine specialises in career coaching and supports women to rebuild their professional confidence, play to their strengths and successfully integrate work into their lives.

Our panel also includes industry experts in higher education, retraining, upskilling as well as actual returners, who have successfully navigated their way back to work.

Tickets for the event are free but limited, so please take a moment to book your place asap. Tickets can be booked here

Please share the event with any friends and family you think might benefit from attending.

Best,

Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD
Minister of State for Higher Education

 

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.