Address by Minister O’Malley at the SKILL Project National Conference

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I am delighted to be here with you this afternoon on this occasion to formally launch the John F Kennedy Junior Fellowships and to present the awards.

SKILL Project

The awards scheme is an initiative under the SKILL Project and echoes its themes in terms of promoting high quality education, training and development of support staff.

I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the very important work which the SKILL Project is involved in and to say that enormous progress has been made since its inception.

It should be said that this success can be attributed to the commitment of the various stakeholders to a partnership approach and those individuals who have embraced the challenge of furthering their own education and development in the best interest of the patients they serve.

The attendance here today of many support staff and supervisors shows a level of commitment which will be necessary from staff to ensure the project’s continued success.

I think the project can be cited as an excellent example of unions, management and staff working together to promote a common goal.

This year for the first time we have scholarships to award to individuals wishing to enhance their future careers.

Kennedy Fellows Scholarship

As you may be aware The Kennedy Fellows Scholarship and Career Mentoring Programme was created in 1989 by John F Kennedy Junior as part of “Reaching Up” – a not-for-profit organisation that supports the higher education and career advancement of frontline workers in health, education and human service occupations in New York.

The overall goal of the programme is to improve the quality of services to individuals and families by educating and strengthening the frontline workforce.

We are honoured that this year for the first time, six prestigious John F Kennedy Junior Fellowship Awards have been negotiated for the Irish SKILL Project, under a unique and special arrangement with the City University of New York.

It is also the first time ever that these awards have been made available outside of the State of New York.

Initiatives such as this foster valuable international links which can only contribute to enhancing the education experience both within this staff grouping and also to the wider sector.

Award Scheme

The Kennedy Fellows receive $1,500 per annum for two years of academic study. The award is intended to provide a range of expenses associated with higher education such as tuition, books, instructional material, transportation, student fees and child care. An important component of the scheme is the value it places on mentoring. In collaboration with the director of their programme of education, Kennedy Fellows choose a mentor, usually a college faculty or health professional who serves as a role model, career sponsor and academic advisor. This one to one mentoring relationship will facilitate the Kennedy fellow in achieving their academic and professional goals.


The target applicants for the Fellowships were to be support staff who are not only seeking career advancement in the Irish Health Services but who also demonstrate a career commitment to work with people with disabilities and their families. They were to be currently employed in a range of Intellectual Disability services.

It is encouraging to see that support staff from all the eligible organisations availed of the opportunity to apply for the awards. It points to a positive attitude towards the fostering of education and training in the sector.


I think it is important to say that applicants were selected firstly through a local level process with the significant involvement of partnership committees in six organisations. Moving through a national selection, the process culminated in a round of interviews yesterday which selected the final six recipients here today.

I am delighted to welcome the successful applicants and to say that I am impressed with the range and level of academic programmes you have taken on.

Previous contributors here today have spoken about the importance of further education and I would like to strongly support their message and to stress the benefits accruing to the health service of education initiatives such as this. Not alone will you enhance your own future careers but also the quality of services available to patients in the disability sector.


Before we go ahead I would like to wish you all well in your studies and hope that the award of this fellowship will bring important benefits not only for the course of study you will pursue but also for your future career. I hope that the benefits you gain will also encourage and inspire others to further education.

I am delighted to announce the John F Kennedy Junior Fellowships for 2006 to 2008 will go to:

  • Ms Rosemary Nolan: Stewarts Hospital. Care Assistant.
  • Mr Brian Morrissey: Sisters of Charity of Jesus and Mary (Moore Abbey). Driver Maintenance/ Groundsman. Fire Officer for Laois/Offaly Services.
  • Ms Karen Molloy: EVE Limited. Supervisor in Charge and Personal Development Instructor.
  • Mr Donald Campbell: Brothers of Charity Waterford. Programme and Care Assistant.
  • Ms Chrissie Mulryan. The Galway Association Care Assistant.
  • Ms Bernadette Frain: Western Care. Autism Resource Worker.


Finally, it is my pleasure to invite the distinguished Dr William Ebenstein from the City University of New York to address you and then to present the awards.