Department of Education & Skills, Marlborough Street, Dublin D01 RC96 01-8892199

Let’s get the conversation started on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Organisations around the world are raising awareness, we must encourage older people to speak out.

Speaking on the eve of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day which takes place tomorrow (Friday), Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, commended the HSE, the International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (INPEA), UCD and all of the organisations involved in working to shed light on the abuse and mistreatment of older people.

“Tomorrow marks World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. What better day to initiate the conversation about the mistreatment of older people?

“This is a subject that is very close to my heart and since coming to the Dáil I have been trying to do my bit to highlight the issue. I have hosted a briefing on elder abuse which was addressed by Age Action and will continue to use my position to talk about this harrowing subject.

“In 2010, the first Irish prevalence study on elder abuse was carried out by The National Centre for the Protection of Older People in UCD. Since then the work has been continuing, with a report entitled ‘Older People’s Experiences of Mistreatment and Abuse’ launched today by the Director of the National Centre for the Protection of Older People at UCD, Professor Gerard Fealy. This report tackles the issue head-on, taking account of the acts of abuse perpetrated on older people and their experience of same.

“Often, older people see themselves as a burden on and an inconvenience for those charged with their care, with the result that mental, verbal, physical and financial abuse is tolerated. The HSE has embarked on a campaign to highlight that elder abuse in all forms is unacceptable. Supports are in place to deal with this issue; it’s up to us to convey this fact to older people.

“2012 is the European Year of Positive Ageing and Inter-generational Solidarity. Let’s make tomorrow the day we open up the conversation about elder abuse and make this year the one we shine the global spotlight on older people to ensure that they are living abuse free lives and enjoying their latter years in the exact way they should.”

National Maritime Museum adds to rich cultural heritage of Dun Laoghaire

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has said the newly refurbished National Maritime Museum, which was officially opened today (Tuesday), adds to the rich cultural heritage of Dun Laoghaire; a town which is rightfully proud of its marine culture.

Deputy Mitchell O’Connor was speaking following the official launch of the refurbished National Maritime Museum which took place today in Dun Laoghaire, and which she attended. President Michael D Higgins officiated at the launch.

“The people of Dun Laoghaire are delighted to have this museum in the heart of town and are hugely appreciative of the volunteers who man it, who have a clear passion and interest in all things nautical.

“The museum opened in 1978 in the former Mariners’ Church in Haigh Terrace near the centre of the town. The church, which was built in 1837 for seafarers, remained open until 1971. Following that, the Church of Ireland and the Maritime Institute of Ireland signed an agreement that led to the museum’s opening.

“We are extremely lucky in Dun Laoghaire to have people who are willing to give up their free time for the betterment of their community as the volunteers in this case are, as without them the Maritime Museum could not open. Dun Laoghaire has an extremely rich maritime culture and heritage, which this newly refurbished museum adds to significantly.”

Mary Mitchell O’Connor wishes exams students the best of luck in the weeks ahead

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has wished all of those undertaking Leaving and Junior Certificate exams in the coming weeks the very best of luck.

Deputy Mitchell O’Connor went on to say that while the exams are an important milestone in a young person’s life, they are not the be-all and end-all of a person’s future.

“As a former school principal, and a mother, I am very well aware of the stress and pressure under which some students put themselves in the run up to, and during, exam time. People sitting exams in the coming weeks should recognise the feelings of nervousness they are experiencing as perfectly natural and should take the necessary steps, like focusing on their breathing before exams, to dispel them.

“There isn’t a person in the country that doesn’t empathise with students at this time of year. While these exams are significant, it must be remembered that there are now many routes available to students to get to where they want to be in life, regardless of these results.

“I wish all of those sitting the exam papers in the coming weeks the very best of luck and would urge them to set out a realistic study timetable for the days ahead and to ensure that they get plenty of rest and take good care of themselves.”

Forty Foot fracas must be a one-off

Pressing need to monitor DART activity from town.

Fine Gael Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor has today (Friday) said the incident that occurred at the Forty Foot in Sandycove last night, which saw three people being detained by Gardaí and a number of others being hospitalised with stab wounds, must be a one-off. The Dun Laoghaire Deputy said the appropriate steps must now be taken to ensure a repeat of the incident does not occur.

“The summer is finally upon us, bringing people into public areas in droves in a bid to soak up the sunshine. The fact that a fracas such as this broke out at the Forty Foot last night, which saw at least four people being hospitalised, is worrying in the extreme.

“Reports are that the people involved, arrived to Sandycove and that trouble ensued following a dispute between two gangs. Sandycove is a peaceful, family area and the local community is shocked by what has happened.

“Despite the fact that there is always a Garda presence in the area, dealing with situations such as this is fraught with difficulty. Very often gangs travel out along the coast on the DART, and local community garda í have no indication of where they may be headed and in which town they may alight. Even if the guards at Glasthule, for example, are ready for a gang, the trouble-makers may decide, at the last minute, to continue further along the line to an area where Gardaí may not being expecting them.

“I believe the way in which to deal with these gangs is to have the activity on the DART monitored from town all the way out along the coast. Contact could then be made with Gardaí in the local area to warn of the presence of gangs in that area.

“Yesterday’s events were harrowing to say the least. Children in the area were traumatised and parents are now understandably looking for answers as to how this could have happened.

“It is only the beginning of summer. We must ensure that this sort of thing does not happen again and that local communities are safe in the knowledge that they can enjoy the sunshine in a safe and peaceful environment. I have been assured by Garda senior management in Dun Laoghaire that there will be a visible Garda presence at Sandycove and the Forty Foot. Local communities must work with the guards to ensure that their localities do not fall prey to gangs intent on carrying out mindless acts of violence.”

New development at National Rehabilitation Hospital is long overdue

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has this evening (Tuesday) welcomed the announcement of a significant capital investment in the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) in Dun Laoghaire which will see the existing facility being replaced by a new 120 bed facility with enhanced services.

“This is fantastic news not only for the patients being rehabilitated at the hospital but for the staff and families of those receiving care.

“The NRH has been providing care, as the
national provider of complex specialised rehabilitation services, for more than 50 years and has been a huge part of the Dun Laoghaire constituency. I would like to pay tribute to the Sisters of Mercy for the sterling work over the years and for the commitment they have shown to excellence and to providing first-rate care.

“It is only fitting that, at long last, the environment in which patients at the Hospital are being treated is catching up to the standard of care being given.

“The facility will be purpose built to meet the needs of those requiring complex specialist rehabilitation services and will be in line with best international practice. The upgrading of this facility is something that has been close to my heart and I am thrilled that, despite the scarcity of resources and our difficult financial state that this development has been prioritised.

“The appointment of a design team will be the next step in what will be an exciting development for the National Rehabilitation Hospital staff and patients, as well as for the people of Dun Laoghaire.”

Rise in number of HSE elder abuse referrals signals growing confidence in reporting

Ireland is one of a handful of European countries with a dedicated elder abuse service – older people must be encouraged to use it.

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has said the reported rise of nine per cent in the number of elder abuse referrals received by the HSE in 2011, signals a growing confidence in reporting the abuse and mistreatment of older people. Deputy Mitchell O’Connor went on to say that it is incumbent on each and every person to remain vigilant to the signs of elder abuse and to encourage those suffering from neglect or manipulation to report it to the authorities.

“Last week I facilitated a cross-Party briefing on elder abuse which was addressed by Emer Begley and Robin Webster of Age Action. Elder abuse, like child abuse, is the exploitation of our most vulnerable people in society which must be stamped out once and for all.

“The HSE report entitled, HSE Elder Abuse Services 2011, indicates that 2,302 referrals of elder abuse were received by the Executive in 2011, representing an increase of nine per cent on 2010. Psychological abuse was the most prevalent form of abuse reported (35%), followed by financial abuse (23%), neglect (19%) and physical abuse (12%). The report encourages the continued reporting of the mistreatment of elderly people through the public health nursing service, hospital/HSE staff or family members.

“Ireland is one of only a handful of European countries that has a formal dedicated service to investigate and support those involved in incidents of elder abuse. There are currently 31 senior case workers charged with the protection of older people and we must facilitate them in carrying out their work. Last year the HSE undertook a media campaign to help people recognise the symptoms of elder abuse and the most effective ways of dealing with it. This is attributed with the rise in the number of referrals to the HSE as people become aware that it is happening and take action on behalf of victims.

“The report indicates that incidents of referral were higher among the over 80s and that sons and daughters were most often identified as the perpetrators of abuse (44%). This further highlights the exploitive nature of the abuse and the manner in which older people are victimised.

“This year is the European Year of Positive Ageing and Inter-generational Solidarity, and with a recent study from UCD indicating that approximately 2.2% of people aged 65 years and over, or a staggering 10,200 people, experience elder abuse, now is the time to eradicate this horrendous practice.

“I encourage everyone to be vigilant and to contact the HSE information line on 1850 24 1850 if the mistreatment or abuse of an elderly person is suspected. Older people do not always have the confidence to speak out for themselves. It is up to us to ensure that they know a structure is in place to offer help and support and to ensure that their protection is always first and foremost.”

Time to break the silence on the mistreatment and harassment of older people

An estimated 10,000 people aged 65 and over experience abuse.

Speaking following a briefing on elder abuse, hosted by Fine Gael’s Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, the Dun Laoghaire Deputy said that we must lift the veil of secrecy around elder abuse and empower older people to speak out about any mistreatment they are receiving.

“Elder abuse is generally not widely reported which is due, in part, to the fear felt by older people of the repercussions that would follow. A report by Age Action in 2011 highlighted that elder abusers are often family members and that older people often fear being put in a nursing home if they speak out.

“Elder abuse comes in many forms, be it physical, mental, emotional or more commonly financial. 2012 is the European Year of Positive Ageing and Inter-generational Solidarity, presenting a golden opportunity to take a stand on this disturbing issue.

“In 2010 the first Irish prevalence study on elder abuse was carried out by The National Centre for the Protection of Older People in UCD. It found that approximately 2.2% of people aged 65 years and over experience elder abuse, equating to 10,200 people.

“A formal dedicated service to investigate and support those involved in incidents of elder abuse is already in place in Ireland but unfortunately its existence is not widely known.

“If we are to deal effectively with this issue, it is vital that we open up discussions about it and encourage older people not to tolerate it. We, as a society, need to be vigilant to the signs of abuse and must be forthcoming in reporting our suspicions.

“The HSE elder abuse service is to be the main provider of elder abuse training for all agencies providing services for older people. Between 2007 and 2010 there have been more than 25,000 people trained in elder abuse, with an increase of almost 50% in the numbers receiving training between 2007 (4184 people trained) and 2010 (8126 people trained)

“We have made great strides in the area of child abuse. We must now apply the lessons we have learnt to address issues where our elders are concerned.

“I am very grateful to Emer Begley and Robin Webster of Age Action for addressing the briefing today and look forward to continuing to work with this and other agencies in the future to help stamp out elder abuse once and for all so older people are treated with the dignity they deserve.

Mary Mitchell O’Connor welcomes Rehab’s creation of 750 jobs

Yes vote on Stability Treaty Referendum will ensure economic progress continues.

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has welcomed the announcement this morning (Wednesday) of 750 jobs to be created by Rehab, over the next three years.

Deputy Mitchell O’Connor also said a Yes vote in the Stability Treaty Referendum on 31st May will further enhance investor confidence in Ireland, where foreign multinationals and indigenous companies are concerned.

“The creation by Rehab of 750 new jobs over the next three years, 400 of which will be here in Ireland, with the remainder being created overseas, is another boost to our economy that has been showing real signs of improvement over the last year.

“The Government is well aware that the number of people on the Live Register is still too high but every efforts is being made, through initiatives such as the Action Plan for Jobs, to ensure that all departments are looking at how to best use the resources we have to create the jobs we so badly need.

“Rehab is already a significant employer, both here and abroad, and these new posts will present opportunities for those seeking work in the areas of training, education, health and social care, IT, sales and marketing, management and administration. Rehab plays an important role in preparing people for further education, training and employment by ensuring they are equipped with the valuable skills they need to fulfil their full potential. The aim of the Government, through the Pathways to Work Scheme, is also to ensure that a person’s first day out of a job is the day they take their first step on the pathway back to work.

“While there is no doubt that Foreign Direct Investment will play a central role in driving economic growth in Ireland in the future, supporting strong indigenous enterprise that can compete on the world stage, is also key. A Yes vote in the upcoming referendum will bring the stability, certainty and confidence that will allow companies, like Rehab, to continue to grow and develop. I have every confidence that the progress we have been making since this Government came to office will continue. Voting Yes on 31st May will ensure that that is the case.”

Communion money being spent at the races is completely unacceptable

Children as young as 8 being taken to greyhound tracks on nights out.

Fine Gael Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor has today (Thursday) said that the practice of schools bringing children, some as young as eight years old, to greyhound and horseracing tracks on benefit nights must be eradicated. The Dun Laoghaire Deputy went on to say that while legislation is in place that clearly states that anyone under the age of 18 should not be engaged in betting of any kind, in practice, the reality is very different.

“It has recently been brought to my attention that very young children are being taken to greyhound tracks on nights out which are organised by primary schools and Parents’ Associations as part of benefit and fundraising events. This practice is completely unacceptable and must be immediately dealt with.

“To encourage gambling in children who are young enough to spend their communion money, by taking them to race tracks, is completely irresponsible. Gambling can have a seriously detrimental impact on the lives of adults and young people. What chance do children have if they are being exposed to this practice before they have even reached ten years of age?

“Legislation is already in place to deal with this issue. People under the age of 18 are prohibited from engaging in betting of any kind, however, this is not reflected in reality. It is not unusual to see children of all ages at race tracks across the country placing bets in what is portrayed to them as a fun and harmless setting. This sets a dreadful example and one that should not be tolerated by parents or by the racing establishment.

“For a school or a Parents’ Association to choose a greyhound track as the venue for a night out, which is attended by children, shows a serious lack of judgement. I am calling on all gambling institutions to ensure that the laws that are in place are adhered to, so that we do not see our children of Communion and Confirmation age engaged in a practice that could have devastating consequences for them down the line.”

Mary Mitchell O’Connor welcomes progress being made on PIP implants

Dr. Holohan’s comments at Dáil Committee indicate things are moving in the right direction.

Fine Gael Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has welcomed the progress that is being made in relation to the PIP breast implant scandal, saying recent comments by the Department of Health Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Tony Holohan, that he wanted to ensure that the cost of rectifying the situation for the women who had faulty implants fitted would not fall to the taxpayer was a welcome development.
“The women at the centre of this scandal have been in a living hell. When I met with them, they likened their situation to having a ticking timebomb inside them. The fact that some progress is now being made in sorting things out, is not before time.
“Comments made this week by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Holohan, that he wanted to ensure that the cost of rectifying this situation falls, not to the taxpayer but to the providers is to be welcomed. It is my strong hope now that where clinics have been cooperating, that that cooperation continues and where cooperation has been lacking, that it is soon replaced with a willingness to face up to responsibility.
“The Minister for Health has confirmed his intention to regulate public and private healthcare providers, including cosmetic surgery clinics, through the Licensing of Health Facilities Bill so that patient safety can be improved by ensuring that healthcare providers do not operate below core standards.
“The introduction of legislation to force all medical clinical practitioners to have adequate clinical indemnity insurance is also expected by the end of the year. This will go some way to improving patient confidence in a sector that has been badly damaged by the PIP debacle.

“Cosmetic surgery is not something that should be entered into lightly. However, we must endeavour to ensure that any and all clinical practices in the State are fit for purpose and that those engaging the services of a clinician, of any kind, do so safe in the knowledge that all safety standards are being met.”