March 26, 2014 § Leave a comment
As many of you know my constituency office is now based in Churchtown, in what is the old office of the late Seamus Brennan who worked as a TD for many years in our constituency. On Monday we replaced Seamus’ sign with mine and I was delighted that Shay Brennan, my old electoral competitor from the 2009 by-election was there to collect his father’s sign.
March 26, 2014 § Leave a comment
I want to commend Minister Ruairí Quinn for securing Cabinet approval for drafting of the Admissions to Schools Bill.
I’m acutely aware from Constituents’ representations of the challenges many children face in gaining acceptance to the school of their choice. Regrettably, some schools put barriers in place that put children at a disadvantage.
I’m delighted that these proposals will ensure that each child is treated equally when they apply for a place in a school – that’s the least our children deserve.
With the new Bill there will be a requirement for all schools to make an explicit statement in their admissions policy that they will not discriminate against an applicant for admission on the grounds of disability, special education needs, sexual orientation, family status, membership of the traveller community or race.
The Bill will also enable the National Council for Special Education in respect of children with special educational needs and the Child and Family Agency in respect of other children to designate a place for a child for whom no school place is available.
Research shows that the vast majority of schools admit all the pupils who apply for enrolment. The new Bill will play an important role for the 20% of schools where there is over-subscription.
March 20, 2014 § 1 Comment
Seven local schools will receive money to improve and upgrade existing school buildings. This first round of funding will allow these schools to carry out small and medium scale building works across three categories of projects – Gas, Electrical & Mechanical.
The successful schools in securing funding under the Summer Works Scheme are St. Olaf’s National School in Dundrum, St Patrick’s Girls National School in Ballyroan, Our Lady’s Girls (Na Maighdine Muire) National School in Ballinteer, the Divine Word National School in Marlay Grange, the Queen of Angels Primary School in Wedgewood, Rathfarnham Parish National School and Oatlands College in Mount Merrion.
Approximately 2,800 pupils in Dublin South will benefit from these improvements making their schools a better environment to learn in.
These works will be carried out in schools over the summer months, when the pupils and teachers are on holidays, so the disruption to schooling will be kept to a minimum.
This Government is committed to investing in our schools and ensuring that despite economic constraints, young people can learn in safe and secure buildings. The Summer Works Scheme also acts as an important boost to the local economy, through the creation of jobs in the construction industry.
Almost €36 million is being provided by the Department of Education and Skills under the first round of funding for the Summer Works Scheme 2014.
A second round of the scheme is expected to be announced in coming weeks.
March 18, 2014 § Leave a comment
I was in Moscow for the St Patrick’s Day Parade, held at Sokolniki Park in central Moscow on Saturday, 15 March. I was also a guest of the Irish Business Club at the charity Emerald Ball on Saturday evening.
I received an excellent briefing from three NGO representatives on Monday morning, including one of the six LGBTI organisations in Russia, on issues of most concern to them.
I affirmed my support for the work of these organisations (International Crisis Group, Russian LGBT Sport Federation and Amnesty International.)
I highlighted the deep interest and concern expressed by people in Ireland about the difficulties currently facing civil society in Russia, and undertook to stay in close touch on these issues.
Ireland has made LGBTI rights a Human Rights priority and is firmly committed to combating discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Irish Government is on record as having expressed Ireland’s strong disagreement with the legislation that was adopted by the Russian Parliament in June 2013.
In our view, such legislation, while purporting to protect young people, is more likely to result in the further stigmatisation and, indeed, criminalisation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex young people.
Eamon Gilmore, the Irish Deputy Prime Minister/Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade raised concerns over the Russian legislation at a meeting with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov over lunch at the December EU Foreign Affairs Council.
I had a strongly business-oriented programme, which involves the St Patrick’s Day reception on Monday, meetings with Irish business community representatives, two food promotion events, and a meeting with the Local Market Team comprised of the Embassy and the State agencies present in the market.
I also visited a Tourism Ireland outdoor photographic exhibition in central Moscow
Approximately 20,000 Russians visited Ireland last year and this figure is set to grow even further.
Today, Tuesday 18 March I will meet with my Russian Ministry of Health counterpart, Vice Minister Mr Dmitry Kostennikov, to discuss issues directly related to my portfolio.
March 13, 2014 § Leave a comment
As a country we have so much to be proud of; whether it’s our history, culture, diaspora or our recovering economy – we have an incredibly powerful story to tell. With all we’ve been through, we can sometimes lose our connection with what we believe is great about Ireland. Over this weekend I look forward to playing my role in the Government’s continuing efforts to rebuild Ireland’s reputation worldwide.