A VISIT by two government ministers to West Cork last week provided a source of inspiration for young people.
Minister Michael Creed was in Schull for the launch of The Mizen Community Safety Project – a safety awareness campaign that involves the entire community, but identifies the role children can play in being ‘a champion for change,’ while Education Minister Richard Bruton saw first hand how a fresh approach to special learning needs is having an energising effect at Darrara National School outside Clonakilty.
The safety initiative was devised by local community activist, Nellie Cotter, and Garda Jonathan McCarthy, with the support of others, and the attendance in the ballroom of the Schull Harbour Hotel was full, with members of the Coast Guard, the Fire Brigade, the ambulance service, the gardaí, and representatives of the fishing and farming community.
Minister Creed said he had lost both a friend and a relative in farming accidents and was all too aware of ‘the huge role that initiatives like the Mizen Community Safety Project can play in promoting safety on the farm and at sea’.
But speaking directly to the children in the room – who participated in the safety scheme through a colouring competition – he said: ‘You play an important role, by speaking up on the farm, in the car, and on the sea.’
Independent TD Michael Collins acknowledged that there are ‘tragedies in every community and initiatives like this might help to heal the hurt.’
Fianna Fáil TD Margaret Murphy O’Mahony praised the organisers of the safety campaign saying: ‘Out of today, lives will be saved.’ And Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF) paid tribute to the emergency services ‘who put their lives on the line for their communities.’
At the other end of the constituency, the Minister for Education visited Bandon Grammar School to view the school’s self-built IT system, which he is considering rolling out nationwide.
The minister also held a seminar at St Brogan’s College as part of the Department’s Action Plan For Education, a Government initiative that was launched last September with the aim of improving the education system and countering the effects of disadvantage nationwide.
The minister, accompanied by Cork South West TD, Jim Daly, said he was pleased to visit Darrara National School, which is renowned for its results with special needs education.
Jim Daly told The Southern Star he was glad that the minister got to visit West Cork – a region that has seen investment in secondary schools in Bantry, Skibbereen and Clonakilty, as well as primary schools in Bantry, Clonakilty, Kinsale and Skibbereen.