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ANNUAL REPORT 2013

Mary Mitchell

O’Connor TD Working for a better future

Dáil Éireann, Leinster House, Dublin 2. Tel: (01) 618 3302. Email: mary.mitchelloconnor@oir.ie Constituency Office in Blackrock, Tel: (01) 210 9161 BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. Website: www.marymitchelloconnor.ie www.facebook.com/mary.mitchelloconnor @mitchelloconnor

My Annual Report Dear Residents, Happy Christmas and best wishes for 2014. I welcome the chance to give you a snapshot of what I have been doing this year, on your behalf, as your T.D. in Dáil Eireann. Thank you for your support, encouragement and kind words during 2013. This week Ireland is free from the EU/IMF Bailout. Although serious challenges remain, this is an important step on the road to Ireland’s economic recovery. Thank you for the part you played in this continuing recovery. 2013 was another difficult year for many of us, but already there are signs that business confidence is growing. Ireland was recently named ‘best country for business’. We still have a lot to do, but each week 1,200 jobs are being created in the country. This is a long way from the weekly losses of 1,600 jobs in the three years before this government, took office. Many jobs were created in the constituency during 2013 including 200 at Dell in Cherrywood, with a further 300 down the line and 380 construction jobs with Microsoft. I hope these job numbers continue to grow in 2014. I have been working hard on your behalf to support communities and individuals in the Dún Laoghaire constituency. I raise important issues in the Dáil, in debate and with parliamentary questions. I work hard on Oireachtas Committees and I also bring your thoughts and concerns to the Taoiseach and Government Ministers. I also highlight subjects in need of attention in the media, such as helping Small and Medium sized Businesses and improving our education and health systems. I have been involved in delivering results for communities in Dún Laoghaire include: • • • • •

Campaigning for a better education for our children Successfully maintained pupil-teacher ratio Protected minority faith schools and fee-paying schools from further cut backs Funding school building and maintenance projects Championing Small and Medium sized Businesses in our local towns and villages and supporting local jobs

• Maximising tourism opportunities for local businesses Best wishes for 2014 and keep in touch, Is mise le meas, Yours sincerely,

Cruise Ships

I have been working closely with the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company to put the town on the map as a cruise destination. 2013 was a breakthrough year with The Queen Mary 2 and The Queen Elizabeth among the cruise ships which came to Dun Laoghaire. Over 25,000 passengers and crew were warmly welcomed by local business people and even Irish dancers, with over 30% of visitors enjoying Dun Laoghaire and its environs. I am working to build on this major success, by ensuring that future visitors have an unforgettable stay and that the local economy benefits from cruise ship visits which are forecast to increase four-fold over the next decade. I am planning a local tourism conference in 2014. If you could like to get involved, contact me at: mary.mitchelloconnor@oir.ie

See inside »»»

Mary in Leinster House

Progress in government

Local updates…and looking forward to 2014


MARY’S WORK IN THE Dáil Raising important issues in the Dáil I have been a regular contributor in the Dáil. I have spoken in 33 debates in 2013 and contributed on many topical issues as well as raising many other issues through 163 parliamentary questions. I welcomed The Children and Family Agency Bill (now enacted). This will unite various welfare services to ensure that children receive the highest quality care in one agency. I have been a constant advocate for children as a former teacher and now as a TD. During the Dáil debate on the Local Government Bill 2013, I supported the urgent need for reforming the system. I also expressed my disappointment that Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council will only retain 65% of property tax collected in the area. I welcomed the Social Welfare Bill, because it will encourage people to explore various education, training and job opportunities. This legislation

is also combating social welfare payment fraud. I also welcomed the Further Education and Training Bill 2013, which provides targeted learning-centered courses relevant to the current job market through SOLAS. In other debates, I continually raised issues in education especially the importance of pupil-teacher ratio and smaller class sizes. I outlined how in Dun Laoghaire many people have lost their jobs and are struggling financially to give their children a good education. Thankfully, pupil teacher ratios were maintained in the budget and 1,400 additional teachers were announced. Another important piece of legislation I contributed to was The Public Health (Tobacco) Bill 2013. Each year 5,200 people die each year as a result of smoking, accounting for 19% of all deaths. Smoking accounts for 36,000

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Mary Speaking in the Dá

hospital admissions a year and costs taxpayers a staggering €280 million. I congratulated the Minister for Health on bringing in the legislation. I hope in time that this legislation will save lives.

Women in politics

We need more women in politics and public life. Globally we rank 89th, below Iraq, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan! The Dáil is made up of 84% men. Gender quotas mean 30% of candidate nominees will be women. A good start! Get involved! Go to: http://www.finegael.ie/women-inirish-politics/

PROGRESS BY THE GOVERNMENT FINE GAEL IN GOVERNMENT –DELIVERING FOR YOU Over the past year this government has regained economic independence by exiting the Bailout. We still have a long way to go, but we are moving in the right direction. Our achievements include: • • • • • • • • • •

Exiting the bailout Creating 58,000 jobs in 2013 Unemployment rates falling for 18 consecutive months Renegotiated EU/IMF programme - saving €10bn over 15 years New school spending Maintaining core social welfare rates Strong tax returns at the end of the 2013 Dáil Reform - More Dáil time and stronger Oireachtas committees. Successful EU Presidency Home Renovation Incentive Scheme creating jobs and improving homes

MARY’S WORK IN COMMITTEE Getting to the heart of the issues As a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, and Chair of the Internal Fine Gael Committee on Education and Skills, I have been involved in highlighting and debating important issues during the year. Some of the topics we discussed during 2013 included:

tackling the problem of obesity; introduction of the new Children and Family Support Agency; Junior Certificate Reforms; Organ Donation; End of Life Care; The Protection of Life Bill; Transgender Health as well as the HSE Service Plan.

Mary Mitchell

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Working in the constituency Small and medium sized businesses The engine of our economy Small and Medium sized Businesses are key to getting our economy moving again. They need creative solutions and innovation. I once ran a small retail business, so I know how difficult it can be for small businesses. They need better access to finance and clever solutions to prosper in a difficult economy. In June 2013, I organised a successful conference for representatives of the various business associations in the constituency to meet our Minister for Small Businesses, John Perry. They outlined their issues and concerns as well as shared ideas and solutions. As a result, they presented their ideas to the Advisory Group for Small Businesses. This group were influential in the Budget decisions to maintain the successful lower 9% VAT rate for tourism related goods and services. The government has been working on making financing easier for SMEs. More information about enterprise and small business is available on my website at www.marymitchelloconnor.ie

Education The next generation As former principal of The Harold School in Glasthule and as a member of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children and Chair of the Internal Fine Gael Committee on Education, I have always been passionate about giving all our children the best education possible. Parents contacted me about issues including: pupil teacher ratios; the cost of education; the protection of minority religion schools; school enrolment policy, as well as the need to support school fee-paying parents. Many of my constituents have had salary cuts, lost their jobs, or are paying huge mortgages, so I feel they need to be supported in their decision to send their children to fee-paying schools, having already paid income tax. I made representations to the Taoiseach and the Minister for Education on these matters. The successful result was that pupil teacher ratios were maintained, minority religious schools were not discriminated against and fee-paying parents were not penalised.

THE GATHERING

The Gathering was one of the highlights of 2013. Visitor numbers increased by 6.5%. As a result of this tourism initiative, Dún Laoghaire had more visitors than usual. Where else, so close to Dublin city could you have the sea, beaches and mountains all on your doorstep? We have great places to walk and restaurants with high quality food to eat. We enjoy festivals such as: the ‘Mountains to the Sea Festival’ in Dún Laoghaire; The Dalkey Book Festival; the Bloomsday Festival in Sandycove, and the Lobster Festival in Dalkey. My office facilitated a group of Chinese artists to visit Dún Laoghaire and its surrounding area. Tourists from China also plan to visit Ireland in increasing numbers in future. We also had a Belgian soccer team visiting Dalkey! Many people organized their own gatherings in the area. I had the pleasure of attending many gatherings including one for the Shackleton, Crean and McCarthy families. They were celebrating the Irish story of survival during the famous Antarctic expedition. The Shackleton exhibition continues at the Ferry Terminal in Dún Laoghaire. See shackletonexhibition.com

As well as that, our children’s education has benefited in other ways: • • • • • •

1,400 additional teachers in 2014 €2 billion five year school buildings projects plan 21,000 extra school places nationally 390 extra Special Needs Assistant posts in 2014 Extra €9 million for numeracy and literacy programmes. Many local schools were approved for funding in 2013 including: Mt Anville Primary School - 1 Classroom; Hollypark NS, Foxrock - 1 Classroom & 4 Resource Rooms; Dalkey School Project 2 Classrooms & 2 Resource Rooms; Monkstown Educate Together NS - 1 Classroom; Harold Boys NS - 1 Classroom; The Harold School - Renovation of School; Clonkeen College - 2 Classrooms & Special Needs Unit; St Raphaela’s Secondary School - 3 Classrooms; Oatlands College - Replace Existing Boiler/Burner units; Cabinteely Community School - Replace Cold water Storage Unit; Holy Child Community School, Sallynoggin - Replace Fans in Home Economics Room; Our Lady of Mercy Convent, Booterstown Avenue - Repair Boundary Wall; Scoil Lorcáin - Approved to go to tender; New Park School - Under construction;

Working for a better future

Bloomsday in Glasthule


Making your voice heard

Strictly Against Breast Cancer In March, my good friend, Mary O’Connor from Glenageary died from breast cancer. She was a wonderful, energetic woman whom I miss dearly. Mary was unfortunate to be one of a small group who do not survive breast cancer. Each year in Ireland about 70,000 women have breast checks. Of the 2,400 who will be diagnosed with breast cancer, up to 80% will survive. But those results could be better with greater awareness. In December I took part in a Strictly Against Breast Cancer dancing event. My dance partner was cancer specialist, Prof Arnie Hill. Other inspiring cancer sufferers also danced including Emma Hannigan and Anne Eble from Sallynoggin. Over €70,000 was raised on the night for breast cancer research. Have a regular breast check! Breast Cancer Ireland www.breastcancerireland.com

My team and I are busy working for you in the constituency. Every month our office makes representations on behalf of an average of 1,000 constituents who have contacted us by letter, email or phonecall.

‘Urban beach’ for DÚn Laoghaire A planning application will be submitted by Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company shortly for a floating seawater swimming pool and urban beach and café alongside the East Pier. This is inspired by the ‘Badeschiff’ facility in Berlin. It is expected to attract 140,000 visitors and generate an annual €1 million for the local economy. More information at www.dlharbour.ie/urbanbeach

Get reading! DLCoCo has renovated many libraries in the constituency including Dalkey, Stillorgan, Shankill, Deansgrange and Blackrock libraries. The new Central and Cultural Centre in Dun Laoghaire will be opened later this year.

Age Action. Older people can avail of services of reliable tradespeople for jobs around their houses. Contact: 01 4756989 or www.ageaction.ie

eme Pottery Road Improvement Sch the on last at d starte has work that I am glad ensure Pottery Road Improvement Scheme. It will be will There . users road all for itions safer cond strian wider footpaths and cycle lanes, four prede crossings and a 4-way signalised junction.

Get Connected! Dún Laoghaire now has free Wi-Fi. Thanks to the Dún Laoghaire Business Association.

I appreciate all the great ideas you bring to me and I do my best to act on them. I hold meetings around the constituency and in the Dáil with individuals, representative organisations and groups.

Get involved, and Keep in touch in 2014! Just email my office at mary.mitchelloconnor@oir.ie

Gaelscoileanna D’éirigh liom dul i bhfeidhm ar an Roinn Oideachais agus a chinntiú go mbeidh scoileanna lánGhaeilge (Coláiste Eoin, Coláiste Íosagáin agus Scoil Lorcáin sa Dáilcheantar seo) in ann freastal ar phobal na scoileanna ina bpolasaithe rollacháin.

Public Meetings I plan to hold a number of public meetings of current issues- keep an eye on my website for further information: www. marymitchelloconnor.ie

Warm up your home Save up to 20% on your home heating bills by insulating your home. Check out www.seai.ie/BetterEnergy-Homes

DÚn Laoghaire Baths Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council Plans are also underway for the development of the old Dún Laoghaire Baths site. There will be access to the sea as well as café facilities to enjoy this beautiful amenity. More information at www.dlrcoco.ie

Tidy Towns Well done to all those involved in Tidy Towns committees.Thanks for all your hard work improving our communities. These Tidy Town’s committees include Dalkey, Shankill, Sandycove, Foxrock, Blackrock all working to improve their communities. Well done on great teamwork!

MARY MITCHELL O’CONNOR TD If you have a concern or issue you would like to discuss with Mary or are seeking help or advice please contact Mary. Dáil Éireann, Leinster House, Dublin 2. Tel: (01) 618 3302. Email: mary.mitchelloconnor@oir.ie Constituency Office in Blackrock, Tel: (01) 210 9161 BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. Website: www.marymitchelloconnor.ie www.facebook.com/mary.mitchelloconnor @mitchelloconnor

Your Fine Gael Team working with Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD Cllr. John Bailey, Cllr. Maria Bailey, Cllr. Marie Baker, Cllr. Donal Marren, Cllr. Patrica Stewart, Cllr. Barry Saul, Cllr. Barry Ward, FG Rep. Maurice Dockrell, FG Rep John Kennedy, FG Rep Jim Gildea, FG Rep Garrett McDermott, FG Rep Josepha Madigan, FG Rep Ellen O’Connor.

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Presentation Field An opportunity arose to buy the Presentation Field in Glasthule. I realised this would be a good purchase because of the shortage of recreational facilities in the area. So I encouraged Dun Laoghaire County Council to purchase the land, which they did.

Shop Local I encourage you to continue to support your local businesses and communities by shopping local in 2014

We contact Government Departments and State Agencies to sort out your problem. I also give regular feedback to the Taoiseach and Government Ministers about what you think of the work we do. I also update them on what is happening around our constituency.


Mary Mitchell O'Connor TD Annual Report 2013