Seanad debates

Wednesday, 28 February 2024

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business


10:30 am

Photo of Fiona O'LoughlinFiona O'Loughlin (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I support the Order of Business, as outlined, and welcome our guests. I want to talk first about two very positive events which I attended. It is really down to the power of parents doing good things for their children. Yesterday morning, I had the opportunity to attend a coffee morning organised by Kathleen Murphy and the Kildare branch of Down's Syndrome Ireland which was held in McDonald's in Newbridge. I saw the level of support and joy. There was dancing with Johnny Peters and his band and the Cahill family also provided music throughout the day. I had to leave early to be here but there was lovely food supplied by McDonald's and quite a significant amount of money was raised. It was just wonderful to see people and communities coming together to do something very positive.

The second event I want to raise was one I attended on Saturday in Lucan. This was a conference organised by an organisation called Finding Charlie's Voice. This was set up by Will and Evelyn Byrne who are such wonderful advocates for their son Charlie who has verbal dyspraxia. The conference they organised was for children and young adults with language and communication needs. My colleague, Senator Barry Ward, was in attendance as was the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Daithí de Róiste, who opened the conference, and Councillors Shane Moynihan and Vicki Casserly. It was incredible to see the level of support there. What Finding Charlie's Voice does, as an Irish registered charity without any State funding, is incredible and it has organised communication boards which now reach 170,000 children through different schools. It has formed a partnership with Dublin County Council, having already done so in Kerry, Leitrim and Tipperary, in the rolling out of these communication boards. It is very important that this organisation would receive State and financial support for what it does. This charity has terrific advocates and I wanted to give them a shout out here.

I mention the Town Centre First plans. As we know, the first 26 towns have come through the process and the next set of 26 towns were announced yesterday. For south Kildare, Castledermot has been chosen. It is great to see that town being identified and approved for funding under the next tranche. Town regeneration officers have been appointed in every local authority and the work they can do can very much help the towns which have been identified. For Castledermot to be socially and economically viable into the future, it is very important we all work together through consultation with those who live, work and play there in order to have the best possible outcome.


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