Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan Monaghan, Chairman of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party. Chairman of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade and Defence, Member of the Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, Member of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, Member of the North/South Inter-Parliamentary Association.
Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith says the mental health of third level students should be prioritised this year given the uncertainty and far reaching changes brought about by coronavirus.
He commented, “Every age group has been affected by coronavirus. Many young people feel that life is on pause and they will miss the traditional college experience that their predecessors have had. Remote learning and completing course work away from the college campus brings its own difficulties.
“To address the mental health challenges that students attending third level will face funding has been provided by Government to implement greater supports. This funding totals €5m. This funding will be used to recruit additional Counsellors and Assistant Psychologists in Higher Education settings.
“There is an onus on Further and Higher-Level Education institutions to provide clarity to students in relation to on campus and remotely learning schedules for the academic year ahead. So far, this clarity has been lacking overall and causing difficulties for students in terms of accommodation and other plans they will need to make this year.
“We take pride in having an educated workforce. It is one of our drivers in attracting so many multinational businesses into the State. During this public health crisis, it is vitally important our next generation is supported. The funding and increase in mental health supports and services in Higher Education will go some way in supporting our students,” concluded Deputy Smith.
Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fail TD Brendan Smith and Councillor Aiden Fitzpatrick have received confirmation from Cavan County Council that they are seeking conservation advice with a view to retaining the lattice railings on Claragh Bridge, Cootehill.
“Cavan County Council has closed the Claragh Road for bridge rehabilitation works on Claragh Bridge as it is in a dangerous condition. Some local residents raised with me the need to retain the railings and I welcome Cavan County Council’s commitment in this respect”, stated Deputy Brendan Smith.
Issued 25 August 2020 – Irish Water, in partnership with Cavan County Council, is replacing old problematic water mains in Shercock, Co. Cavan to provide a more reliable water supply, reduce high levels of leakage and improve water quality.
Works will take place along the Baileborough Road and will involve laying new water service connections from the public water main in the road to customers’ property boundaries and connecting it to the customers’ water supply. Where the existing service connections on the public side are lead, these will be replaced as part of this improvement work which will reduce the instances of bursts and water outages and will ensure a reliable supply of water to customers and local businesses in the area
The works will be carried out on behalf of Irish Water by Farrans and are expected to be completed by October 2020.
Speaking about the project, Irish Water’s Leakage Reduction Programme Regional Lead Declan Cawley said “Irish Water is committed to safeguarding the water supply for customers in Shercock and we are delighted to announce that these works will begin at the end of August and will be completed in October 2020.
Declan added “Replacing existing old cast iron will reduce the instances of bursts and water outages and will ensure a reliable supply of water to customers and local businesses in the area. These works will deliver cost savings by providing improved water network operation that will require less maintenance in the future.”
To facilitate the safe delivery of the works, there will be some traffic management in place during delivery. The community will be notified of this in advance. Alternative routes will be available and diversions will be clearly sign-posted. Local and emergency access will be maintained at all times
The works may involve some short-term water shut offs and the project team will ensure that customers are given a minimum of 48 hours’ notice prior to any planned water shut offs
We understand that this type of work can be inconvenient and works crews will make every effort to minimise any disruption these necessary works cause.
This project is one example of how we are working in partnership with Cavan County Council to reduce leaks every day. Fixing leaks can be complicated with over 63,000 km of water pipe in Ireland. Most leaks aren’t visible, resulting in precious water being lost but we are making progress. In 2018 the rate of leakage nationally was 46%, by the end of 2019 it was 42% and we are currently on course to achieve a national leakage rate of 38% by 2021
The National Leakage Reduction Programme helps provide a more reliable water supply to Irish communities, reduce high levels of leakage and improve water quality. Its delivery means investment of over €500 million between 2017 and 2021 to reduce leakage and replace old pipes on the water network
Residents and businesses in the area to benefit from the planned improvements have been notified and customers can phone Irish Water on 1850 278 278 if they have any questions about the project.
Online safety is an issue that needs to be prioritised due to the increasing incidence of online abuse.
I believe the Minister must have the legislation, Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill, enacted at the earliest possible date.
Below reply by the Minister to a recent Parliamentary Question –
______________________________________________ For Written Answer on :30/07/2020 Question Number(s): 162Question Reference(s): 20511/20 Department:Communications, Climate Action and Environment Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D. ______________________________________________
[Ref No.: 20511/20]
* To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the time frame for the introduction and enactment of the online safety and media regulation Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Brendan Smith.
* For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 30th July, 2020.
(1464 Received on 7th July, 2020.)
The General Scheme of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill was approved by Government on 9 January 2020 and subsequently published on 10 January 2020. At that time the Government also approved the detailed drafting of the proposed Bill by the Office of the Attorney General and forwarded the General Scheme to the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Communications, Climate Action and Environment for pre-legislative scrutiny. Due to the dissolution of the Dáil and Committees in January, pre-legislative scrutiny has not yet commenced. Engagement with the AGO is continuing on the detailed drafting of the Bill.
The enactment of the proposed Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill is a commitment in the Programme for Government. At present, responsibility for the proposed Bill is being transferred to the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht.
When this transfer of functions is complete, Government approval will be sought for the finalisation of General Scheme of the proposed Bill through the addition to the provisions relating to the funding of the Media Commission and the regulation of audiovisual media services. These additional provisions will then be forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General for addition as a basis for detailed drafting and to the relevant Joint Oireachtas Committee for pre-legislative scrutiny. It is for the relevant newly formed Committee to determine whether and when to commence such scrutiny.
At this time, the finalised General Scheme will also be notified to the European Commission for a technical conformity assessment with relevant EU law regarding regulations on online services.
The proposed Bill will establish a multi-person Media Commission, including an Online Safety Commissioner, dissolve the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, establish regulatory frameworks for online safety and the regulation of audiovisual media services, and transpose the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive.
The regulatory framework for online safety will be overseen by the Online Safety Commissioner. The Commissioner will have the power to designate online services for regulation and to create and enforce binding online safety codes. These will seek to minimise the availability of harmful online content through oversight of the systems that online services used to deliver and moderate content. The regulator will have the power to sanction non-compliant online services.
Unfortunately there has been an increase in Covid cases recently throughout our island.
Through Parliamentary Questions and in other Dáil Debates I have I constantly emphasised the importance of an All-Ireland approach in dealing with this pandemic which recognises no boundaries.
Below is a reply by the Minister for Health to a recent Dáil Question I tabled.
______________________________________________ For Written Answer on :30/07/2020 Question Number(s): 1289 Question Reference(s): 20445/20 Department:Health Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D. ______________________________________________
* To ask the Minister for Health if additional measures will be introduced on an all Ireland basis to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– Brendan Smith T.D.
For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 30 July, 2020.
There has been ongoing and regular contact at Ministerial level with Northern Ireland throughout this pandemic in relation to how each health system is implementing various public health responses.
A Memorandum of Understanding was formally agreed between the respective health services in April. The MOU focuses on facilitating greater co-operation and consistency of approach wherever possible on areas such as public health messaging, programmes of behavioural change, evidence base/ modelling and contact tracing.
There has been significant engagement between the CMOs, and officials in both jurisdictions. Calls are held regularly including at a technical level to facilitate information sharing on topics such as modelling, testing and contact tracing approaches, tracing apps and travel measures.
In recent weeks, there has been regular engagement at official level to discuss our policy approaches to international travel and to foster a mutual understanding of our positions on passenger locator forms and on public health advice and requirements for incoming passengers.
The administrations are seeking to adopt similar approaches, where it is appropriate to do so on the advice of respective Chief Medical Officers. Discussions have and will continue to take place on respective plans for the gradual and controlled easing of restrictions, given the importance of implementing consistent approaches wherever possible. All parties recognise that in terms of public health measures in both jurisdictions, that it will be important to maintain strong North/South collaborative arrangements.
The North South Ministerial Council of 31 July will provide a further opportunity and platform for the discussion of these issues.
Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has welcomed the launch of a new €12 million Enterprise Centre Fund to help enterprise centres impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Deputy Smith commented, “I welcome the €12m fund from the Department of Enterprise, Business and Innovation to support Enterprise Centres. I am pleased to see this fund is targeted toward the regions. I believe there is no region in need of support more than the border region, given the pandemic and the looming threat of a no deal Brexit.
“Through Enterprise Ireland I would strongly encourage our Enterprise Centres, and those across the border region, to apply for this funding. Both not for profit and for profit centres are eligible to apply. The role Enterprise Centres provide to our businesses is paramount. This responsibility is all the more important as we begin our economic recovery from the coronavirus.
“Up to €150k is being made available for Enterprise Centres. Applications can be made now. The closing date for applications is September 30th,” concluded Deputy Smith.
Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith says the violence toward peaceful protestors and the media censorship in Belarus must be pursued by the European Union and condemned in the strongest possible terms.
Deputy Smith said, “The scenes we have witnessed in Belarus following their Presidential Election this past Sunday are disturbing. The right to protest peacefully is something we should never take for granted.
“I welcome the comments from the Minister for Foreign Affairs that our Government is monitoring the situation and described the scenes as “of deep concern”.
“The citizens of Belarus deserve to have their say in a fair and transparent democratic process. The European Union, along with international colleagues, should continue to use every means possible to pursue a democratic, transparent and thriving Belarus,” concluded Deputy Smith.
Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith has welcomed the decision by the Minister for Education to approve the major building project for Virginia College.
“This multi-storey development is excellent news for the Virginia College catchment area. The additional classroom facilities will meet the increasing enrolment. I compliment John Kearney CEO of Cavan Monaghan ETB and his colleagues on progressing this successful application to this stage.
I know of the great commitment of the College Principal, Niall Lynch and his staff colleagues, to the development of the school.
There has been a major expansion of accommodation at this College over the years and it places a pivotal roll in school provision in East Cavan. I was glad to support the ETB in the applications for new and upgraded facilities at the school and having served as Chair of the Board of Management I was always conscious of the need to provide adequate accommodation for a school with increasing attendance”, stated Deputy Brendan Smith.
Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has welcomed the announcement of the Beef Finishers Payment.
The scheme is an Exchequer funded programme of €50 million to provide income support for up to 42,000 farmers with beef finishing enterprises, who have been impacted by the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Deputy Smith said, “No one needs reminding of just how difficult this year has been for beef farmers. COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on the sector. The introduction of this new payment is very welcome for beef farmers across Counties Cavan, Monaghan and nationwide.
“Farmers with finished animals suffered from both reduced prices and other restrictions in getting animals to market. The closure of the hospitality sector impacted greatly on beef farmers. While this sector slowly reopens it is imperative the government support farmers. The scheme introduced by Minister Calleary is an important action in providing this support.
“The scheme is targeted to farmers who were impacted from 1 February to 12 June 2020. Not only will this scheme support beef farmers, it will have a wider positive impact on the local economies of which the agri-sector plays an important role.
“The scheme opens for applications on August 19th with the closing date September 9th. I would urge everyone to apply as soon as the scheme opens,” concluded Deputy Smith.