Public bathing area planned for Dun Laoghaire after years of procrastination

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, today (Wednesday) said the public bathing area for Dun Laoghaire, which was approved last Monday by the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council (DLRCOCO), will provide a wonderful public amenity for the people of the area and for swimmers right across the county.

“At last plans are in train, after years of procrastination, for the revival of an open air public baths in Dun Laoghaire, but at a reasonable cost. The baths will be based on the famous Badeschiff Baths in Berlin and will provide a place to relax, swim and, on the better days, to lie in the sun.

“The creation of an urban beach is nothing new, with cities across Europe having adopted the idea years ago. Dun Laoghaire’s urban beach will be modelled on the Berlin facility and is sure to be welcomed by experienced and learner swimmers of all ages right across Dublin, as well as by the people of Dun Laoghaire.

“The 40 Foot in Dun Laoghaire is an extremely popular place with swimmers, who will now be given an alternative option of bathing in a 30 meter by 10 meter steel, open-air pool which will be serviced by fresh, filtered seawater which will be heated to 26 degrees centigrade. The facility will also be environmentally friendly with all energy provided through green technologies.

“The project, which is being developed by DLRCOCO and the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, will be another significant string to Dun Laoghaire’s bow. In 2011, the East Pier recorded a staggering 1.3 million visitors, passing out Dublin Zoo as a family or tourist destination. This new amenity, which will include a beach café, a sun lounging area and changing rooms will no doubt act as an even bigger draw for the area.

“It is envisaged that the facility will be open from April to September, with the possibility of being used during the winter months down the line. It is estimated that the cost of developing the urban beach and outdoor pool will be in the region of €3 million, which would deliver an excellent, community-centred and cost-effective amenity for the people of Dun Laoghaire and beyond.”

Unacceptable that clinics at the centre of the PIP scandal will not play ball

Alternative service for those seeking resolution now being sought.

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has said confirmation that the three clinics at the centre of the PIP breast implant scandal have been less than forthcoming in providing professional and appropriate care to patients concerned about their implants is extremely disappointing and will do nothing to enhance the reputation of the cosmetic surgery industry.

“While it is very disheartening that the clinics at the centre of the PIP scandal have proven to be less than cooperative in dealing with the fall-out from this scandal, it is at least good news for the women involved that the Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan, remains focused on finding a solution to this sorry saga. The National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) is now being examined as the best alternative means of addressing the medical needs of PIP implants patients. This, however, is not good news for the taxpayer as it means that the cost is to be borne by the State.

“The unwillingness of the clinics to take responsibility in this way, further underlines the need for enhanced regulation of this sector. The Minister for Health, James Reilly TD, has committed to ensuring that standards are enforced and that public and private healthcare providers are regulated through the Licensing of Health Facilities Bill. Legislation to force clinical practitioners to have adequate clinical indemnity insurance is also expected by the end of the year.

“The Office of the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), in conjunction with the Irish Association of Plastic Surgeons (IAPS) has compiled guidelines for those who may be considering surgical cosmetic procedures, following a request from Minister Reilly for better information to be made available to prospective patients.

“The challenge now is to assist the women for whom this debacle must seem endless. Ensuring that a similar situation never occurs again must also be a priority. The clinics who have refused to play ball in adequately dealing with this issue have, in my opinion, disgraced themselves. They have done no favours for the industry they represent as a result of their actions.”

Encouraging children to play will benefit physical and mental health

National Play Day 2012 offers a reminder of the advantages of real play.

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O ’Connor, has called on parents to explore the joys and benefits of unstructured play with their children today (Sunday), National Play Day 2012.
“Making mud pies, climbing trees and exploring the natural environment are excellent ways of getting children moving, getting their brains working and getting their creativity going.
“These days, children are living increasingly sedentary lives, sitting in front of video and games consoles for hours on end, getting fatter as they spend their playtime indoors. The benefit of playing outdoors presents unrivalled opportunities for fun and physical activity.
“At times we are all inclined to be a little too protective of our children. Children seem to spend so much time indoors compared to just a decade or two ago, when they would have been outside playing tag or hide-and-seek. If pressurised parents don’t have the time to accompany their children outdoors, too often they don’t get to go outside at all.
“Children’s mental health is also greatly improved by this sort of playtime as they fill their lungs full of fresh air and their minds full of what will be unforgettable childhood memories. Proper playtime also helps to combat childhood obesity, helps to build friendships and to develop the person as a whole. It is during activities such as this that leadership qualities are also developed as children engage in team activities.
“The theme of this year’s National Play Day is ‘Experiment with Play’ and I am calling on all parents to take time out today to play the games with their children that they once played and to get involved in the activities that are being hosted by Local Authorities around the country to mark this important and fun-filled day.”

Mary Mitchell O’Connor welcomes progress on redeployment of SNAs

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire TD, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has today (Saturday) welcomed a recommendation from the Labour Court that a redeployment system should be introduced for Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) who find themselves out of work.
The Labour Court has recommended that a panel should be set up for SNAs who are made redundant, and those on the panel would then be given first offering of any vacancies that arise. At present, SNAs are not included in the Croke Park Agreement and therefore cannot avail of the redeployment options open to other public servants.
“As a former school principal I understand the plight faced by SNAs who are made redundant, and who can find it very difficult to secure new work. I warmly welcome the recommendations from the Labour Court for a panel to be set up for recently unemployed SNAs, which should make finding a new job much easier.
“SNAs provide an invaluable support in schools across the country, which is hugely important to parents and their children who benefit from the care provided. Many SNAs have invested heavily to get their qualifications, but can find themselves out of work when the pupils they care for move on. This proposed change would greatly enhance the job security of SNAs; something that is lacking at present.
“It’s important to add that the Government is committed to retaining SNA numbers this year, despite our difficult economic circumstances. We understand and value their contribution to our educational system.
“The exact details of the scheme now need to be worked out between the Department of Education and Skills, the trade unions involved and the management bodies. I hope they can come to a satisfactory conclusion in time for the new school year in September.

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.”

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