Dara Murphy reports

Paris Terror Attacks. As European Minister, it was of course a very difficult month following on from the horrific events in Paris. In Cork City Hall I attended a very poignant ceremony on Saturday 21st November organised by the Honorary French Consul, Patricia Mallon. The event was attended by a large number of the French community who live and work here in Cork. The event emphasised the very strong links there are between Ireland and France and highlighted the shared ambition we all have to support and protect democracy, liberty and freedom of expression. Most importantly, this Ceremony was also an opportunity to sympathise with the people of France at this very difficult time and to stand in solidarity with them. Vive la belle France.

Great news for Carrignavar and Blarney with green light for schools under major building programme. This month the Government announced a new Capital Building Programme for Schools. With the recovery of our economic fortunes, a significant number of schools around the Country can now be planned. I was particularly delighted that two schools in Blarney, Scoil Mhuire gan Smál and Scoil Chroí Íosa got the green light. Also included in this project is indeed Scoil An Athar Tadhg in Carrignavar, There is no better investment that any Government can make, than in our young people. We have an excellent and highly skilled teaching workforce in our Country and these new schools will provide the 21st-century facilities that the young people in both Blarney and the Carrignavar region deserve. It is a particular credit to the Boards of Management and the Parents Associations and indeed the Principals and teaching staff that they have managed to bring these projects to a point where Government can support them and deliver the facilities that are so important for our excellent young people.

Blarney Hurling & Football GAA Club:It was a great pleasure to meet some of the very active members of Blarney GAA Club on a Saturday morning recently. I had met some of the officers in advance of their excellent sports application and was delighted that the club secured a grant for €110,000. The members and officers of the club gave me a good outline of when they expect construction to start and by this time next year it is hoped that the project will be completed. This is a very worthwhile project that will be of huge benefit to the very large number of boys, girls, men and women who are active members of one of Cork’s finest GAA clubs. I wish them every success.

Activity Days Tourism Business Launch. I was delighted to receive an invitation to attend the launch of a new Tourism Business for Blarney called “Activity Days”. The launch took place at the Blarney Tourist Office and was attended by a large number of people. It is the type of business which is of particular importance to a wonderful tourist destination like Blarney. We learned at the launch, that there are a very large and growing number of tourists who want to come to our Country and to our County to experience activity based holidays. I wish Máire Ní Mhurchú and her team the very best of success. It was particularly interesting & welcome to see the great focus she has on employing local guides with local knowledge to give the fullest possible local activity based holiday experience for these tourists – many of whom, of course, return year after year.