STEM can help solve world prob­lems

Irish Examiner - County - - News - CLLR DECLAN HUR­LEY

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.

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