Deputy Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Robert O’Donoghue, launched the initiative today at the Rusk and Lusk Educate Together National School when he presented Third Class with the first rain gauge. The Council plans to distribute rain gauges to 100 primary schools across the county in time for the start of the new school year in September. For the second phase of the project, the Council are seeking champion schools across the seven Local Electoral Areas to host an automatic weather station, which will be visible on Met Éireann’s website and will provide real-time weather data. Schools interested in having an automatic weather station installed should send an email Kevin.Vallely@fingal.ie before Friday, September 10. The launch was also attended by representatives from Met Éireann, the Office of Public Works (OPW), the Chief Executive of Fingal County Council, AnnMarie Farrelly, and Fingal County Council Executive Engineer Kevin Vallely who is leading the project. Cllr O’Donoghue said: “This is a great initiative as the information gathered will be used to provide a more accurate understanding of river response to different rainfall depths and can be used by the OPW, Met Éireann and Fingal’s flood sections. Most importantly the project will help to further students’ knowledge of the key challenges faced by society including climate change and flooding.” The Weather Stations for Schools project is being supported by the Chief Executive’s Innovation Fund which was set up earlier this year by the Chief Executive of Fingal County Council, AnnMarie Farrelly.“ The Innovation Fund facilitates staff submitting innovative ideas that can bring greater value to the Council, support new ways of working and create a positive impact for public services. It was launched in January and there were 14 applications from which four projects were subsequently chosen to be funded this year. This is the first of the four projects to be launched and, as well as providing valuable information, the data collection process by teachers and pupils will help to promote an appreciate of the water cycle and climate change challenges faced by the community,” said Ms Farrelly.

The first Dublin Climate Action Week (#DCAW21), will take place from Monday, September 13 to Sunday, September 19, and is being planned to demonstrate the ongoing efforts, ambitions and the collaborative approach of the four Dublin local authorities, in addressing climate action.The week is being organised and delivered by the partnership of Fingal County Council, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, South Dublin County Council, Dublin City Council, Codema – Dublin’s Energy Agency and the Dublin Climate Action Regional Office (CARO). Dublin Climate Action Week 2021 will comprise of a range of online and in-person events, in compliance with COVID-19 measures in place at that time. In August 2021, the full programme of events will be available for registration on the DCAW21 website, at www.dublinclimateactionweek.ie. (NB: not available through this medium). The overall vision of Dublin Climate Action Week 2021 is: “To showcase Dublin’s Climate Action progress to its citizens and demonstrate the leadership role of the four local authorities in conjunction with other partners.” The agreed shared objectives of the initiative are: to Demonstrate progress on the implementation of the four Dublin local authority Climate Change Action Plans, and a regional approach to climate action; to Engage with a full range of partners to share knowledge on efforts and innovation across sectors; to Make Climate Action a ‘reality’ allowing citizens to see what Climate Action looks like; to Promote this initiative so as to fully engage with EU and international cities and our climate peers; and to Create a legacy so that this initiative can carry forward to subsequent years in a variety of ways.

Fingal County Council is delighted to announce the expansion of its popular bike sharing scheme to five coastal towns in the north of the county. Bleeper bikes are now available in Balbriggan, Rush, Donabate, Portrane and Skerries.The scheme allows cyclists to ‘grab & go’ on a Bleeper bike. These GPS enabled bikes are easy to use with no need for complicated docking procedures. Users simply download an app and register for the service. They can then pick up any available Bleeper bike across Fingal by scanning the QR code on the bike to unlock it. Once cyclists arrive in an area where Bleeper operates (see app for full location map), they can park at any cycle parking stand near their destination and lock the bike manually using the provided bike lock. With no need for special docking stations the scheme offers maximum flexibility to cyclists with the freedom to park their bike where they need it.Chief Executive of Fingal County Council, Annmarie Farrelly, says that cycling schemes like Bleeper are key to Fingal’s transport strategy. “Offering sustainable and healthy modes of ‘Active Travel’ to Fingal residents and visitors is vitally important. We live in a rapidly growing county and that can provide challenges for busy town centres. Bike sharing, and cycling in general, facilitates people visiting towns while also reducing traffic congestion. It is just one element of an overall approach to travel that gives priority to cyclists, pedestrians and public transport with an aim to make Active Travel the mode of choice for all journeys under 5km.”At the roll-out of the extended bike sharing scheme on Wednesday, David Storey, Director of Services for Environment, Climate Action and Active Travel said: “The scheme has been hugely successful since its initial launch in 2018.Hugh Cooney, CEO of Bleeper, hailed the expansion as a sign of the growing demand for cycling in Fingal: “We’ve worked closely with Fingal County Council to grow Bleeper’s coverage within the county over the past few years and we’re delighted to bring our service to a new set of communities.”Bleeper bikes are now available across Fingal in Swords, Malahide, Howth, Blanchardstown, Skerries, Balbriggan, Donabate, Portrane, Rush, Portmarnock, Sutton, Baldoyle, Castleknock, Ongar, Clonsilla and throughout the Dublin 15 area. A full list of operational locations can be found in the Bleeper app. For further information on how the scheme operates, visit bleeperactive.com (NB: not accessible through this medium)

Fingal Libraries annual Summer Stars Reading programme was launched by Mayor of Fingal David Healy & County Librarian Betty Boardman recently in Malahide Library. Summer Stars is an exciting, reading-based programme available free of charge to all children across the country. It will run in all Fingal libraries until 31st of August with the ultimate goal of encouraging reading during the summer holidays. All children are invited to register for the summer reading challenge with rewards and incentives along the way and a grand finale event at the end for all participants.As part of the programme, a range of children’s events will be held online during the summer to suit all interests – including author visits, technology workshops, creative writing, arts and crafts, storytelling, gardening workshops & biodiversity videos.Mayor of Fingal Cllr David Healy praised the Programme saying: “I am delighted to launch the Fingal Libraries Summer Stars Reading Programme which, as well as encouraging reading, has a wonderful and varied list of events to entertain and inspire children throughout the county this summer.” County Librarian, Betty Boardman, commented: “The Summer Stars Reading Programme is a fun way to keep children reading over the school holidays. Library staff have organised a great selection of events to tie in with the Programme which will keep children occupied whatever the weather.” For details of activities and events, please pick up a copy of Fingal Libraries’ summer brochure at your local library or view it online at Fingal Libraries’ website. You can also keep up to date with summer stars’ events by following Fingal Libraries on Facebook and Twitter.

Guide Dog Day and the 100K challenge for the month of May raised a total of €207,127. Students from Loreto in Balbriggan raised €210, students from Skerries Community College did a sponsored dog walk which raised €725. Georgina, Luke & Assistance Dog Milo’s Team raised an incredible €4,470. Luke’s teacher explains ‘Luke is in our ASD Class in Scoil Chormaic CNS, Balbriggan. We have seen the amazing impact that having Milo has had on Luke and his whole family’. The class of six boys were joined by Guide Dog ‘Qeb’ with Tom O’Neill, puppy raisers Adele Halpin with Lola and Anne Mulligan with Adel on their final walk. These 6 inspiring boys raised €1,755. Adele and Lola raised €423. Volunteer Dana Kelly raised €350. Thank you all for your support.

Our ‘Tap to Donate’ machine, is located at the door of Specsavers, Millfield Shopping Centre, Balbriggan. Just tap to donate €3. Simple to use it has raised €650 since February. For cash there are large collecting dogs located at the escalator near Tesco and one in Cuddles Pet Store while others are located in Balbriggan, Skerries, Lusk and Rush. Other technology helping raise funds are our new posters with a QR code on them. QR stands for Quick Response. Just scan the code with the camera on your mobile phone. A payment app will open which shows ‘Make a payment to Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind’. Key in the amount you wish to donate and select your bank, then follow the on screen prompts. Options are AIB business and personal, Bank of Ireland, business and personal, Revolut, Ulster Bank business and personal and Fire. The amount you donate is sent direct to Irish Guide Dogs in Cork. New volunteers are always welcome. We can be contacted by phone or text: 085 7663107 or email us at GuideDogsBalbriggan@gmail.com or follow us on Facebook at Balbriggan.Branch.of.Guide.Dogs

Foróige is so excited to announce our 2021 summer programmes will be launching on the 15th of June until the 20th of August! Our summer programmes are packed with fun and engaging activities for young people of all ages throughout the entire summer. Activities will include sports like basketball, football, outdoor obstacle courses and if you don’t enjoy sports, don’t worry. We will also be hosting a safe space to practice your graffiti skills, painting and artistic abilities. Want to sit back and just enjoy an outdoors movie? We have that too, amongst fishing trips and a nice picnic under the scorching sun. There is a specific focus this year on promoting health and wellbeing and this will be incorporated into all programmes on offer. Our summer programmes are inclusive to all of our projects and each week is dedicated to activities tailored specifically for everyone’s interests.

These free summer programmes will give young people the opportunity to express their creativity and their talents in a natural environment with the support of professional youth workers and hardworking volunteers. Young people will experience competitive games that will help them develop skills like teamwork and communication skills. The summer programme will be open to all the young people who are in a Foróige project or club. There is limited availability for those who are not currently involved with Foróige. Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, we must restrict the amount of young people in each programme so we ask that if you are interested in registering interest you do it as soon as possible. You can contact us through our Instagram or Facebook page and we will forward on an expression of interest.For more information, contact Áine McGuinness on 086-7710790 or email aine.mcguinness@foroige.ie

A National SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) Wastewater Surveillance Programme, that has been developed by a specialist team, with input from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), HSE, HIU, the National Virus Reference Laboratory (NVRL), UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, and Irish Water,began work in early May.This wastewater surveillance programme will be an important part of the work being undertaken to monitor the prevalence of COVID-19 in communities across Ireland. The programme will measure the level of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater within 68 wastewater catchment areas across the country and will effectively operate as an early warning system for future possible waves of COVID-19 infection.

Professor Wim Meijer, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, Lead Investigator said, “The pilot study, funded by SFI and the Ireland Wales Programme 2014 – 2020 through the European Regional Development Fund, involving three wastewater treatment plants showed a very close correlation between the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 genetic material and the daily number of new COVID-19 cases. This demonstrates the usefulness of wastewater surveillance as a Covid 19 early warning system.”Ireland has over 1,100 public wastewater catchment areas where wastewater is collected and conveyed for treatment, so it would not be practical nor feasible to undertake surveillance in each of these.Consequently, to address this issue, and to ensure the programme captures as broadly as possible the position across the country, 68 wastewater catchment areas, covering each county in Ireland, were identified and selected.In this area they are in Balbriggan , Malahide, Portrane Donabate, and Swords.This will ensure the largest population centres are captured, and a comprehensive national environmental early warning surveillance system will be established.

Adel, a 3½ month old female Golden Labrador guide dog puppy in training, was welcomed into Anne Mulligan’s home on Thursday 6th May. Adel, part of the first litter of 2021, was born on the 29th January. Both her parents are French. Her mother is ‘Never’ and her father is ‘Pacha du Cesecah’. ‘Never’ gave birth to 9 pups, 6 female and 3 male.Sadly 1 male didn’t survive. Adel’s siblings are, Alice, Aska, Anya, April, Andrew, Alfie, and Anna. We will follow Adel’s progress over the next 12 months with interest. When you see Anne and Adel out and about, please be aware that when Adel is wearing her ‘Puppy in Training’ jacket, she should not be distracted or approached. If you have a dog with you, please give them both room to pass without interference. Adel’s daily training with Anne is a vital part of her journey towards becoming a Guide or Assistance Dog. Adel’s first visit to Balbriggan beach with Anne was exciting as she raced around freely enjoying all the new sounds and smells.Anne says, ‘Adel has settled in well and is a happy and an intelligent puppy’.We wish them well together.Yarrow update – Yarrow has progressed onto Advanced Training earlier than expected.He will be with 5 other dogs during his training until August/September. Looking back. In 1984 there was an article entitled ‘Robot Guide Dog’.Called ‘Meldog’, it had wheels instead of legs, sensors instead of eyes and its memory was a map reading computer. Meldog’s inventors were forced to admit ‘A dog has excellent abilities which we cannot imitate by a machine’. That’s why ‘Meldog’ is no more, and why we cherish real dogs like Adel and Yarrow who are selected and trained to become a Guide or Assistance Dog.Would you like to join our volunteers? Contact us by phone/text: 085 7663107 or Follow us on Facebook on guidedogsbalbriggan.

Fingal County Council is delighted to announce an exciting and varied programme for Cruinniú na nÓg which takes place on June 12, 2021. Cruinniú na nÓg, Creative Ireland’s annual day of free creative activity for children and young adults, has gone from strength to strength since its launch in 2018. It is an event that is unique to Ireland and is the flagship initiative of the Creative Ireland’s programme Creative Youth which aims to“give every child practical access to tuition, experience and participation in art, music, drama and coding by 2022”.Working In partnership with the 31 Local Authorities and supported by RTÉ, Creative Ireland works tirelessly to create a day where families and young people can participate in a wide range of fun creative activities that are all free. Fingal County Council’s Cruinniú na nÓg programme has been collaboratively developed by the Creative & Cultural team which is made up of cross departmental representatives with skills in many different areas of expertise. The result of the teams’ hard work is a programme full of events that is guaranteed to arouse curiosity, spark interest and ignite the imagination and most of all encourage the young people across the county to tap in to their creative side and have fun.The programme which has a combination of outdoor, live and recorded virtual events features a Dublin Zoo Webinar, Coding and Podcast Classes, Make and Do workshops, a Bespoke Interactive Radio Piece, a Story Trail set in the beautiful demesne of Ardgillan castle, Hip Hop and Dance classes, Music Tutorials, and young adult interest stories to name but a few, will ensure that Cruinniú na nÓg 2021 is a day filled with happy memories for all of the families, children and young people that get involved.For further information contact Fingal County Council

Our national fundraiser, ‘Guide Dog Day’, is the 7th May.Unfortunately unless Government restrictions allow we will not be out in the community fundraising, however there are many ways you can support us.This year’s theme is ‘#100K4GDD’.Would you run, walk or swim 100km during the month of May and raise funds for Guide Dogs? You can sign up as an individual or join a team by visiting guidedogs.ie The first 3,000 people to register will get a free T-shirt and Doggy Bandana and there are lots of prizes too.If you would like a sponsorship card please contact us by email guidedogsbalbriggan@gmail.com or phone/text 0857663107.Visit Specsavers in Millfield Shopping Centre, Balbriggan and donate €3 using our Tap to Donate machine or donate via Facebook at facebook.com/Balbriggan.Branch.of.Guide.Dogs. On the 13th April Yarrow left puppy raiser Anne Mulligan and went to HQ in Cork for training to become an Assistance Dog.One of the many happy memories Anne shared with us about her 18 months with Yarrow was when they were walking in Balbriggan on a sunny day and Anne was asked if she needed help crossing the road. Anne was wearing dark sunglasses at the time and the person thought she was blind. We will all miss Yarrow, especially Anne, and wish him ‘Good Luck’ in his training and future life as an Assistance Dog.Looking back to the 1980s, Issue 10 of Guidelines, the newsletter, of then called ‘Irish Guide Dogs Association’, featured ‘The Beginning of the Balbriggan Branch’ by Tom O’Neill Chairman.Tom qualified with his first Guide Dog Frank, a black Labrador in 1985, and returned to Balbriggan which at the time had a population of about 8,000.Tom found out that there were no branches of the association in the North Dublin area so he and his wife Breege formed the branch ‘if only to show the local people what a Guide Dog could do for a visually impaired person’.In 1987 £3,500 was raised and the branch continues today with the help of our loyal supporters and volunteers.