STEM can help solve world problems
One hundred years ago, Irish women were given the right to vote. But not every woman, just women over 30, who had property rights or a university education. Much has changed since then, and this was never more evident than at the I WISH conference in Cork, which I was privileged to launch.
I WISH is an initiative to inspire, encourage, and motivate young female students to pursue careers in STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 5,018 girls, joined by 272 teachers from 133 schools, across 19 counties, created a single community, which both advocated and promoted women in STEM.
There are many real and significant world problems: food shortage, climate change, pollution, an ageing population. STEM can help us with these problems. The greater the input from both men and women, the greater the chance we have of finding real and meaningful solutions. My experience at I WISH resonated with me and I am confident that we will reap the rewards of this, with future entrants into STEM careers.
It is so important that we encourage and nurture our young people. I was thrilled to welcome students from Pobalscoil na Trionóide, Youghal, for a questions-and-answers session in the council chambers. This was to help the students with their civic, social, and political education project. I enjoy bringing young people into our offices and encouraging them to take an interest in the political and public side of the council. It is important to promote local government. The decisions we make are not just for today or tomorrow; they are for the future of Cork, a future that we want to be successful and sustainable for every one of our citizens.
While we plan for the future, I must mention the announcement, from Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Shane Ross, TD, of a €44m investment programme for regional and local roads in Co Cork.
While I welcome the announcement, I am only too familiar with the problems we are experiencing on Cork’s roads. As a council, we have the largest road network in the country, over 12,000km. If you were travelling from Castletownbere to Dublin, you are only halfway there by the time you reach Mitchelstown. As a West Cork man, I have experienced the deterioration in our roads. While €44m is a large amount, it falls significantly short of what is needed and I will continue to highlight this.
Funding is vital for our future. We must harness our wealth of assets and use them to encourage investment, trade, and economic development. I have just signed an economic partnership agreement, between Cork County and Quincy City, in Boston Massachusetts. The aim of this agreement is to promote business, education, and tourism links between both regions and to capitalise on the recently established, transatlantic route operated by Norwegian Air, direct from Cork to Boston Providence. I am very confident that this agreement will strengthen the trading relationships between Cork and Massachusetts.
It is anticipated that the first business and tourism delegation from Quincy will visit Cork in September, bringing with them 20 companies to explore potential business relationships.
Agreements such as this are vital in promoting Cork, from both a tourism and business perspective, while offering the same for Quincy. I am confident that we can create great results for each other and it was a true honour to sign the agreement on behalf of the people of Cork County.
During the visit, I also met with the Maine International Trade Centre, in Portland, who help their businesses enter and expand into global markets. With a membership of nearly 300 businesses and organisations, from manufacturers and service providers, government agencies to educational institutions, we have a very real opportunity to develop a business relationship with Maine. These are real connections that I know will feature strongly as part of Cork’s future growth and future success.