Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dundalk Town Awards Night -

On Thursday 17 September, I was deeply honoured to receive a Civic Welcome in Dundalk Town Hall from the Town Council.
Members of my family and my good friend Joanne Cartwright were persent for the occasion which made it all the more special.

Central Area City Neighbourhood Awards - 9.09.09

Lord Mayor Cllr Emer Costello with Residents from De Courcey Square, overall winners of the Central Area Dublin City Neighbourhoods Competition 2009 -
“I would like to extend my congratulations to residents, businesses and schools within the Central Area who have dedicated so much time and effort into working together to improve and enhance their local area and the results of their work is obvious for all to see. It is their collective commitment to these Awards that really ensures that our City is a great place to live and work in” said the Lord Mayor.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Women & the EU, Meeting with Margot Wallstrom Vice President ofEuropean Commission

Margot Wallstrom the Vice-President of the European Commission was in Dublin today. I had the honour of chairing a discussion forum with her on the theme of "Women in Europe".

The Commissioner outlined the successes of Europe on a wide range of issues from waste management to workers' rights and from gender equality to insitutional reform of the European Union.

The meeting was attended by Proinsias de Rossa MEP, Nessa Childers MEP, Susan O'Keeffe, and Cllr Niamh Bhreathnach.

Farewell Mass & Reception for Fr. Ivan Tonge - 10.09.09

I attended the Farewell Mass for Fr Ivan Tonge, the Parish Priest of St Lawrence O'Toole Parish, North Wall.

There was a huge turnout to pay tribute to the man who served his community with dedication commitment and love, and who will be missed by all. The participation of the local schoolchildren in the ceremony made it all the more special.

I had the great honour today of presenting Fr Tonge with a Civic scroll commemorating his nine years service to the Sheriff Street Community.

The Kilmainham Gaol Annual Eccumenical Service, Sermon by Archdeacon David Pierpoint in St. Werburgh's Church, 6th September 2009

On Sunday 6th September I attended the Annual Eccumenical Service for Kilmainham Gaol in St. Werburgh's Church. The Sermon delivered by Archdeacon David Pierpoint was inspiring and is certainly worth publishing. I include the full text of his sermon below.

Today, here in St Werburgh's Church, we gather in the context of Christ’s Last Supper to remember and give thanks for those who believed that what they were doing was right for the cause of justice and Irish freedom acknowledging the fact that all who suffered incarceration and death in Kilmainham Gaol were in their day, men of high ideals and principles.

This building is dedicated in honour of Jesus Christ who was always ready to side with the down-trodden and marginalised, as well as people, respected in the community. He was always much more interested in the one lost sheep than in the ninety-nine in their cosy places. It was Christ who said to the leaders of the community in his day, when they were about to stone a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery, “Let those who are without sin, cast the first stone”.

In many ways, the people we remember today were similar in that they wanted freedom from those whom they considered the oppressor. But not only freedom, but justice and peace. And this morning’s service is not a memorial for them, but rather a time of ecumenism and peace. And it is that peace and unity which I would like to address this morning.

Throughout the years, many songs have been written and performed about peace. Well I want to remind you all that we don’t build peace just by singing about it - or carrying flowers in a precession,- or lighting candles or floating away in a haze of drugs or alcohol. Peace is made of greater things than these. It is only really born out of great cost, the cost of discipleship and sacrifice.

Martin Luther King, shot by an assassin’s bullet in Memphis, Tennessee. Dietrich Bonhoffer, hung on the gallows in Hitler’s concentration camp at Flossenburg. Mother Teresa, who slaved away among the poor in the slums of Calcutta. They all gave peace a chance, but it cost them. They all had to give so much of themselves in order to achieve their goals.

The people we remember today did not give their lives for peace. They had them snatched away from them on the gallows or by firing squad in Kilmainham Gaol or outside our sister church of St Catherine’s in Thomas Street. Those executions reminds us of the senselessness of violence - and I don’t just mean murder or terrorism, but the violence of beaurocrats, of governments and those who use wealth, politics or religion to get the better of other people. But if we are helped to see the destruction of the misuse of power whenever and wherever it is misused, then that gallows in 1798 or any subsequent death in prison was not totally without meaning.

It is strange that the central symbol of the Christian faith should be the cross - itself, an instrument of violence. It might just as well have been the gallows, the firing squad, the electric chair, a lethal injection or some other form of capital punishment. But, Jesus took the cross on himself, willingly and with eyes open. He knew that to give peace a chance was worth everything - even the sacrifice of his life.

Here in St Werburgh’s Church, which is a sad sight in its present condition of disrepair and indeed is in danger of closing due to health and Safety issues, this Church and many other churches in this wonderful city of ours has seen its parishioners die for what they believed in. Some are recorded on plaques and memorials while others remain unknown. Some are notable for their part in the fight for the freedom of our land like Robert Emmet who was originally buried in the graveyard of our sister church of St Michan but whose body was removed and now lies in some unknown place. We remember John and Henry Sheares whose bodies rest in the vaults of St Michan's. Of Oliver Bond, the son of a Unitarian minister from Derry, who like the Sheares brothers is buried in the graveyard of St Michan's. He was one of the first members of the Dublin branch of the Society of United Irishmen who first met in the Eagle Tavern just around the corner from here in Exchequer Street in 1791. Found guilty of treason, he was sentenced to death by hanging but died in mysterious circumstances in Newgate jail before the sentence could be carried out. Dr Charles Lucas founder of the Freeman's Journal is also buried in the graveyard of St Michan's.

Among the many other Irishmen who died was one Napper Tandy. A Dublin Politician, volunteer and leader of the United Irishmen. The bell in the centre of the aisle bears his name.
Then of course we think of Edward Fitzgerald whose life and death is well chronicled and who lies in the vaults under this church, where just above him in the graveyard is the grave of his assassin, Town Major, Sirr.

All who down the centuries have died for the cause of peace and freedom knew themselves that to be implicated in something treacherous might mean their lives, and while not wanting to die, they were not prepared to give up on their principles. They knew the consequences but were undeterred in their actions and words. As Christians in today’s society, we too must remain constant in our efforts for peace throughout the world and on this island. It will demand great courage, and possibly even ridicule by some, but if we are steadfast in our principles, then I believe that peace will be given a chance and by our words and deeds we might have a small part to play in its continuance.

When we look at each other, we see different traditions and histories. Nothing can alter or change the past. The only thing which will bring the churches, despite differences in worship and governance - to the unity which is God’s will, is if all Christians become close to Christ. The closer we get to Him, the nearer we will find ourselves to one another.

If we as fellow Christians accept the inheritance which Christ left us all, we should have peace in our lives, our homes and with our neighbours of every denomination or none. Something which I feel certain those whom we remember today would have wished if they had lived. I hope and pray that as we move forward, we can carry out the wishes and prayers of Christians throughout history and achieve peace and unity among all people.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Lord Mayor Cllr Emer Costello Establishes Lord Mayor's Commision on Employment

Dublin’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Emer Costello announced the establishment of the Lord Mayor’s Commission on Employment, at the City Council Meeting at City Hall on Monday 7th September
According to the Lord Mayor, ‘Dublin needs strong and creative leadership, with a clear vision for the future of the City, to get its economy moving again. We need to prioritise the protection of existing employment and the creation of new jobs.’
‘To this end I am establishing the Commission on Employment to examine how Dublin City Council can facilitate growth in the local economy. It is my intention that all the political parties and independents in the City Council together with the communities they represent will take ownership of this Commission. It will examine the scope of the problem, identify the unemployment blackspots; it will meet with and take submissions from the key stakeholders in all relevant sectors; it will engage with local community groups, hold public workshops and take public submissions’,

The Commission aims to examine how Dublin City Council can facilitate growth in the local economy and will focus on four thematic areas namely, a) employment and unemployment, b) education skills and training, c) business entrepreneurship and finance and d) volunteering and the social economy.

The Lord Mayor added. “Through each of these themes we will work to develop policies and create conditions which will generate new jobs. We will identify issues and gaps in the education, skills and training systems to support Dublin’s performance as a hub in the Smart economy. We will identify existing or future opportunities for employment creation and enterprise growth. We will explore opportunities in potential growth sectors, for example, in the green economy, creative industries and cultural tourism heritage enterprise. We will ascertain mechanisms to support enterprise, particularly small to medium sized enterprise and will identify potential sources of funding. We will also examine the role of the voluntary and community sector and the potential benefits to the exchequer of people being employed through Community Employment and the social economy.”

The work of the Commission will link with and support the delivery of the recently launched Economic Development Action Plan for the Dublin City Region. It is intended that the fruits of the Commission’s work will also inform the policies of the Dublin City Development Plan (2011-2016). Moreover, the recommendations from the Commission will help inform the policies of the new Dublin City Development Plan (2011-2016) and issues coming through the Commission can be actively pursued by each of the Strategic Policy Committees. “In this way, the work of the Commission can be sustained well long beyond the lifetime of this Lord Mayor”, concluded the Lord Mayor Cllr Costello.


Details of the work proposed under the four main objectives:

Employment & Unemployment

  • To profile employment in Dublin and identify existing or future opportunities for employment creation and enterprise growth.
  • To examine the efficacy and efficiency of labour market information systems and media as it functions in a changing technological environment to serve the needs of employers and job seekers at all levels in the recruitment process.

Education, Skills & Training

  • To identify issues and gaps on the education, skills and training systems to support Dublin’s performance as a hub in the Smart Economy.
  • To identify skills shortages and identify immediate measures to ensure training and skills development is responsive to current need and provided in an accessible and timely manner that is targeted to minimise the length of time a person is unemployed.

Business, Entrepreneurship & Finance

  • To identify the needs of entrepreneurs and small businesses and propose measures that would better facilitate the development of a positive enterprise culture.
  • To focus on the current difficulties in access to finance and identify sources of funding
  • To explore potential growth sectors such as Green Technology, Creative Industries and Cultural/ Tourism / Heritage enterprise

Volunteering & the Social Economy

  • To identify the potential of volunteering and its positive role in the economic recession in providing an individual with an opportunity to maintain or update their skill base and make a connection with their community and society.
  • To identify the benefit to the exchequer of people being employed through community employment schemes and the social economy

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Lord Mayor’s signs book of condolence

The Lord Mayor, Cllr. Emer Costello, signed the book of condolence for the late US Senator Edward Kennedy in the Embassy of the United States in Ballsbridge at 11.15 a.m. on Friday, 28th August.

The Lord Mayor was accompanied by Deputy Joe Costello and will be received at the Embassy by a representative of the United States Ambassdor.

The Lord Mayor said: “Senator Ted Kennedy was a giant of a man whose contribution to Ireland and the Irish living in America, cannot be overstated. He was a true leader who made a significant contribution to the Irish peace process. Senator Kennedy was a tireless campaigner for social justice within his own country and his many achievements are testimony to his greatness. Irish saying”

Aung San Suu Kyi Event, City Hall - 17.08.09 023

Dublin’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Emer Costello opened a Book of Solidarity at City Hall, Castle Street on Monday 17th August 2009 at 1.00pm, calling on the Military Junta in Burma, to immediately release Aung San Suu Kyi, the Leader of Burma’s National League for Democracy, Freeman of the City of Dublin, Nobel Peace Laureate, from house arrest.

According to the Lord Mayor, “Aung San Suu Kyi is a global icon of heroic and peaceful resistance in the face of military repression, and she takes her rightful place in history amongst other great civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King and Mahatma Ghandi who I know inspired her. As Lord Mayor of Dublin, I am calling on the Military Junta in Burma to immediately release Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest. ”

I, like, many people throughout the world was outraged when I learned of the outcome of the Kafkaesque showtrial in Burma last week, where she was sentenced to three years hard labour which was subsequently commuted to eighteen months house arrest for a non-existent crime.

The Book of Solidarity is Dublin’s response to Aung San Suu Kyi own powerful plea to people around the world to join the struggle for freedom in Burma when she said ‘Please use your freedom to promote ours’.

Aung San Suu Kyi was conferred with the Freedom of Dublin City on March 18th 2000, by former Lord Mayor, Councillor Mary Freehill. She has yet to sign the Roll of Freemen of the City, where a space has been left for her to sign.

“I am appealing to all Dubliners and visitors to the City, to sign the Book of Solidarity this week in support of releasing Aung San Suu Kyi from imprisonment, and to express their abhorrence for the plight of the Burmese people, living beneath the yoke of a military regime characterised by cruelty for the past twenty years ”, says the Lord Mayor.

According to former Lord Mayor, Councillor Mary Freehill, “ It is now critically important with the imminent elections in Burma, to keep the impetus behind the international campaign to release Aung San Suu Kyi from imprisonment and to liberate Burma from military dictatorship, and return it to a democracy”.

Lord Mayor, Councillor Emer Costello, Former Lord Mayor, Councillor Mary Freehill, Gearoid Kilgallen, Chairperson Burma Action Ireland (BAI), and Niamh Rooney, Co-ordinator, will speak at Monday’s event at City Hall.


Text on Book of Solidarity:

Book of Solidarity

Calling for the Immediate Release from House Arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, Freeman of the City of Dublin, Nobel Peace Laureate, Leader of Burma’s National League for Democracy, Prisoner of Conscience and Champion of the Courageous And Peaceful Struggle to Liberate her Country from Military Dictatorship