Sunday, March 14, 2010


Innovation Taskforce suggests the way forward

The launch of the Taskforce on Innovation report this week provided a roadmap for how Ireland needs to refocus in certain areas if we are to create jobs for the future. The taskforce recommends faster broadband speeds, which we all agree with, but it also suggested other measures which may not be universally supported.

For instance, the report is absolute in its belief that Irish students must be better trained in Maths. It calls for extra points for Maths students at leaving cert level.

This concurs with a recent report by Engineers Ireland on the need to improve the quality of teaching of Maths in Schools and the need to increase the number of students taking maths. I had a meeting a week ago with Engineers Ireland to discuss this issue. I was a bit surprised to learn that there are as many students taking geography to higher level as there are Maths, Applied Maths and science combined. Now of course we need geographers – we have significant mining interests, planning issues and climate change worries to concern ourselves with, but in relation to innovation, creation of new jobs etc, we need to make sure that we have a sufficient number of maths and science graduates as well.

The report lists 18 proposals for how we can improve the quality and quantity of Maths graduate. I mentioned one in the Seanad this week – banning calculators at junior cert level. The purpose of this would be to try to increase the ability of students in the area of mental arithmetic. There are other ideas worth supporting as well. Fighting our way out of this recession and creating new jobs will be easier if we have a higher number of well-qualified maths and science graduates on our team.

Locally, I attended new branch meetings in the Slane electoral area and in the Navan electoral area. It’s part of our work to expand the party within Meath and to deepen the links between the party and local residents.

The Bru na Boinne branch will be covering that part of the Slane electoral area which remains in Meath East. Up to now this area was covered by the Jimmy Tully branch. This branch will continue to represent members in the East Meath areas of Laytown, Bettystown, Mornington and Julianstown.

Our new Bru na Boinne branch will be open to members from Stamullen, Duleek, Donore, Bellewstown, Slane and the townlands around these places. Our first meeting was in Dalys, in Donore, and it was attended by members from across the area. One of our first actions was to elect a chair – this position went to local resident James Bell. The main focus of the branch in the short term will be to get new members into the branch, thus providing input into the party from the ground up.

Later on in the week I attended the inaugural meeting of another branch. This time the meeting was in O’Connell’s pub on Skryne Hill. It is not for nothing that this pub was named one of the six best Irish pubs in the Sunday Times a couple of years ago. It’s very atmospheric and set in beautiful surrounds. The branch (which has the working title of “The Tara Valley branch” will cover the areas of Kentstown, Rathfeigh, Skryne, Cushenstown, Wilkinstown and Kilberry – all of those parts of the Navan electoral area that are in the Meath East constituency.

Both branches and indeed all other branches are looking for new members on a continual basis and if anyone would like some information then give me a ring at the office.

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