Churchtown Constituency Office & Remembering Seamus Brennan

March 26, 2014 § Leave a comment

Constituency Office

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.

Cabinet Approval Secured for Drafting of Bill for Fairer Schools Admissions

March 26, 2014 § Leave a comment

Ruairi Quinn & Alex White - Schools

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.

School Improvements Announced for Seven Dublin South Schools

March 20, 2014 § 1 Comment

Summer Works Scheme 2014I warmly welcome the announcement by The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn T.D., that seven schools in Dublin South will be able to undertake school improvements this summer.

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.

Raising Human Rights in Course of Visit to Russia

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.

Public Consultation on Cyberbullying – Tuesday Deadline

March 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

People in Dublin South have a few days left to share their views with the Government on cyberbullying. A public consultation process on cyberbullying is currently underway and the deadline is Tuesday, March 18th. Views gathered from members of the public will feed into the work of an expert panel set up by Minister Pat Rabbitte to advise him on the issue of cyberbullying. You can submit your views on the Department of Communications website here.

Meeting with Staff at the Leopardstown Primary Care Centre

March 6, 2014 § Leave a comment

Alex White TD, Cllr. Lettie McCarthy, Martina Queally, Dr. Colm Smyth, Teresa OMahony and  Deirdre Ryan at the Leopardstown Primary Care Centre

Alex White TD, Cllr. Lettie McCarthy, Martina Queally, Dr. Colm Smyth, Teresa OMahony and Deirdre Ryan at the Leopardstown Primary Care Centre

I was pleased to meet with the Leopardstown Primary Care Team on Monday while visiting the Leopardstown Primary Care Centre.

This modern and very impressive Primary Care Centre is already having, and will continue to have, a very positive health impact for the people of Leopardstown, Ballyogan, Carrickmines, Sandyford, Ticknock, Stepaside and Glencullen.

I took the opportunity to commend the work of the Leopardstown Primary Care Team which includes a GP, public health nurses, speech and language therapists, an occupational therapist, a social worker, a clinical psychologist and a physiotherapist as well as administrative staff.

Having spoken to the staff along with Cllr. Lettie McCarthy, it is clear that there is a huge level of confidence in, and support for, the centre in the local community.

This Primary Care Centre services a wide range of people in the area, young and old, from a variety of different backgrounds and is an extremely valuable resource for the area.

For local residents, the high standard of the Centre and clinical services delivered from this location is something we can all be very proud of.

It is my priority and a priority of this Government to see Primary Care Centres opened across the country. In fact, thirty five new Primary Care Centres have opened in the past two years including in Rathfarnham and Churchtown.

An additional 21 primary care centres are expected to open over the next year. Planning permission has been lodged for a primary care centre in the Knocklyon/Rathfarnham area. The Leopardstown Primary Care Centre can act as an example of best practice for these new primary care centres which are coming on stream.

By expanding primary care services, patients can have as much of their healthcare as possible delivered to them in their communities rather than in hospitals.


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