About Brendan Smith

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.

For sometime I had raised with Cavan County Council and Irish Water the need to upgrade the public water supply scheme in Swanlinbar and I welcome this investment.

Swanlinbar water supply removed from at-risk list following Irish Water upgrade works

Issued 25 Nov 2020 – Over 300 Irish Water customers in Swanlinbar, Co Cavan, are enjoying a better quality and more secure supply of drinking water following the completion of upgrade works to the local water treatment plant following an investment of €500,000.

Irish Water, working in partnership with Cavan County Council and two contractors – Coffey Water and Veolia, completed essential upgrades to the Swanlinbar Water Treatment Plant which has now been removed from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Remedial Action List (RAL). The RAL is a list of at-risk schemes, and customers supplied by the Swanlinbar Public Water Supply (PWS) will be happy to know their scheme is no longer at risk.


Explaining further why Swanlinbar PWS was on the RAL Dr Pat O’Sullivan, Irish Water’s Compliance Specialist said: “Swanlinbar was placed on the RAL towards the end of 2019 after a Do Not Consume notice was placed on the scheme due to a failure in the disinfection system. Irish Water adopted our Drinking Water Safety Plan approach to critically assess all the risks at the plant and an extensive upgrade of the plant followed which ensures the plant will provide a safe and secure supply of water into the future. The EPA are satisfied that all of the works that were completed on time and to the appropriate standards have addressed the risks and are in line with the Drink Water Safety Plan.”

Explaining the technicalities of the works carried out, Martin Temple, Irish Water added: “In a response to the failure of the disinfection system at the Swanlinbar Water Treatment Plant Irish Water invested €500,000 to upgrade the plant. As part of this project, Irish Water upgraded the existing water treatment plant to include the installation of pH correction units; installation of a raw water shut-down system; improved alarms and shut-down systems and an upgrade of the disinfection process. These improvement works will ensure the residents and businesses in Swanlinbar and surrounding area will receive safe and clean drinking water due to the improved water treatment processes now in place.”

Irish Water continues to work at this time with our Local Authority partners, contractors and others to safeguard the health and well-being of both staff and the public and to ensure the continuity of critical drinking water and wastewater services. Irish Water would like to remind people to follow the HSE COVID-19 advice and ensure frequent handwashing.

Significant capital investment is needed over a sustained period of several decades to address the poor condition of Ireland’s water and wastewater infrastructure. Works have been prioritised to address the most critical issues in line with commitments outlined in the Government’s Water Services Policy Statement and Irish Water’s Strategic Funding Plan. Irish Water has invested €3.8 billion in water and wastewater infrastructure to the end of 2019 and plans to invest a further €5.2 billion under its Capital Investment Programme from 2020 to 2024 in drinking water and wastewater quality and capacity and new infrastructure.

Need to retain Cross Border Healthcare Directive – Brendan Smith TD

Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith has called on the Minister for Health to ensure that the EU Cross Border Healthcare Directive remains in place post Brexit with particular reference to Northern Ireland and Britain.

“Over recent years more and more patients have had procedures and healthcare undertaken in Northern Ireland and Britain under the Cross Border Healthcare Directive.  This Healthcare Directive covers all of the European Union but the vast majority of patients who avail of this Scheme have had the treatment provided in Northern Ireland or Britain.

With Britain no longer a Member of the European Union and the Transition Period ending on the 31st December it is essential that the continuity of this Scheme is secured. 

The Minister for Health in his reply to my Parliamentary Questions in Dáil Éireann has confirmed that his officials are giving detailed consideration to a number of policy and legal issues associated with the feasibility of implementing a unilateral Cross Border Directive type arrangement which would provide that Irish residents could continue to access services provided by private health service providers in Britain post the end of the Transition Period.

It is essential that the present arrangements remain in place from the end of this year due to the value of this Scheme in enabling patients on waiting lists access healthcare in a more timely manner.  In particular specialities where there are long hospital waiting lists access to healthcare in Northern Ireland or Britain has been very beneficial to many patients and the retention of this system is very important”, stated Brendan Smith TD.

The Minister in his reply in Dáil Éireann stated – 

“Both the Irish and British Governments are committed to maintaining, in so far as possible, the current healthcare arrangements under the Common Travel Area (CTA).  Under the CTA, Irish citizens and British citizens who live in, work in, or visit the other state have the right to access publicly funded health services there. The Government is working to ensure that new arrangements through a Memorandum of Understanding with the UK will provide for continued access to reciprocal health services, between Ireland and the UK, including on the island of Ireland, which residents in both jurisdictions currently access.

It is acknowledged however that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU has implications for healthcare arrangements that currently operate under the EU legislative framework, including those arrangements covered by the Cross Border Directive (CBD). With effect from 1 January 2021, the provisions of the CBD will no longer apply to the UK. My officials are giving detailed consideration to a number of policy and legal issues associated with the feasibility of implementing a unilateral CBD type arrangement which will provide that Irish residents can continue to access services provided by private health service providers in the UK post the end of the Transition Period”, concluded Minister Donnelly in his reply to Deputy Brendan Smith.

Below please find replies to my Parliamentary Questions –

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 19/11/2020
Question Number(s): 327,328 Question Reference(s): 37698/20, 37699/20
Department: Health
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
______________________________________________


QUESTION



* To ask the Minister for Health the measures being taken to ensure that the EU Cross Border Directive on health-care remains in place post-Brexit with particular reference to Northern Ireland and the UK; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Brendan Smith T.D.


For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 19 November, 2020.

* To ask the Minister for Health the outcome of discussions if any that have been held with the Departments of Health in Northern Ireland and the UK in relation to the EU Cross Border Directive on health-care post-Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Brendan Smith T.D.


For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 19 November, 2020.

REPLY




Both the Irish and British Governments are committed to maintaining, in so far as possible, the current healthcare arrangements under the Common Travel Area (CTA).  Under the CTA, Irish citizens and British citizens who live in, work in, or visit the other state have the right to access publicly funded health services there. The Government is working to ensure that new arrangements through a Memorandum of Understanding with the UK will provide for continued access to reciprocal health services, between Ireland and the UK, including on the island of Ireland, which residents in both jurisdictions currently access.

It is acknowledged however that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU has implications for healthcare arrangements that currently operate under the EU legislative framework, including those arrangements covered by the Cross Border Directive (CBD). With effect from 1 January 2021, the provisions of the CBD will no longer apply to the UK. My officials are giving detailed consideration to a number of policy and legal issues associated with the feasibility of implementing a unilateral CBD type arrangement which will provide that Irish residents can continue to access services provided by private health service providers in the UK post the end of the Transition Period.

The need for maximum co-operation on an all island basis in dealing with covid-19 pandemic

Reply by the Minister for Health to further Parliamentary Questions I tabled in Dáil Éireann in relation to the need for maximum co-operation on an all island basis in dealing with the covid-19 pandemic.


______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 19/11/2020
Question Number(s): 340,341,342 Question Reference(s): 37744/20, 37745/20, 37746/20
Department: Health
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
______________________________________________


QUESTION


* To ask the Minister for Health the progress to date in implementing measures on an all-island basis to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic following the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Departments of Health, North and South; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Brendan Smith T.D.


For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 19 November, 2020.

* To ask the Minister for Health the measures agreed at the North-South Ministerial Council meeting on Health in October 2020 to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic on an all-island basis; the progress to date in implementing such measures; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Brendan Smith T.D.


For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 19 November, 2020.

* To ask the Minister for Health his plans to utilise the Co-operation and Working Together framework to intensify co-operation on a cross-Border basis in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Brendan Smith T.D.


For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 19 November, 2020.

REPLY

There has been significant engagement and cooperation between the Ministers for Health, the Chief Medical Officers, and the Departments of Health in Ireland and Northern Ireland throughout this pandemic.  

An MOU on COVID-19 Response and Public Health Cooperation, was formally agreed by the Chief Medical Officers of the Department of Health and the Department of Health in Northern Ireland on 7th of April 2020.   The administrations are seeking to adopt similar approaches, where it is appropriate to do so and on the advice of respective Chief Medical Officers. Meetings of the North South Ministerial Council are an important pillar in our regular engagements with NI counterparts on COVID-19.

A meeting of the North South Ministerial Council for Health and Food Safety was held on 2nd of October 2020. The close and productive cooperation that has taken place between Health Ministers, Chief Medical Officers and health administrations North and South to deliver an effective public health response on Covid-19 was welcomed by myself and by Minister Swann. It was agreed that both jurisdictions are committed to continue to exchange views in order to foster a commonality of approach in response to the pandemic and hope to provide a progress update at a future NSMC Health meeting.

Practical implementation of the MoU has seen cooperation on contact tracing apps, critical care, and to discuss the recent outbreak of COVID-19 in Mink in Denmark.

The Cooperation and working together partnership between the Health Service Executive and the Southern and Western health and social care trusts, the health and social care board and the public health agency in Northern Ireland health continue to play a significant role in promoting cross border health and social care cooperation. CAWT continue to deliver projects on a north south basis.




Cavan Ulster Champions 2020

A real delight to read this article (below) by Paul Fitzpatrick. This article is so well written and with great substance. Again well done to all.

Funding for Enterprise Centres

I welcome the allocation of €376,000 by the Department of Business for Enterprise Centres in Cavan and Monaghan.

This funding is being provided to help the Enterprise Centres deal with the negative impact of the covid 19 pandemic, sustain their businesses and further develop services.  These Centres have played a key role in helping to create employment throughout the country.

The Centres to benefit in Cavan/Monaghan are:

Cavan Innovation and Technology Centre,

Cavan Digital Hub,

Cavan County Enterprise Fund,

Castleblayney Community Enterprise and Monaghan  County Enterprise Fund.

Assistance for third level students welcome – Brendan Smith TD

I welcome the announcement by Minister of State for Skills and Further Education, Niall Collins T.D., that additional assistance is being made available for third level students in a €50 million once-off covid payment scheme.
 
The funding, which was provided in Budget 2021, will offer financial assistance to all EU full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students in recognition of the significant upheaval they have experienced due to Covid-19 pandemic.
 
This scheme will ensure students who avail of the SUSI grant will receive €250 top-up in their grant before Christmas, while students who do not avail of the grant can reduce by €250 any outstanding contribution fee payments or receive a €250 credit note for their institution. In a small number of cases, alternative arrangements will be made for the payment of the monies to students.
 
 

Beef Finisher Payments commence

“I welcome confirmation by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Charlie McConalogue, T.D., that payments of €46.6 million to 27,200 farmers under the 2020 Beef Finisher Payment have commenced.

This Scheme delivers direct financial supports to beef finishers who were adversely affected by covid-19.  This payment has also helped to provide a floor to the mart trade this Autumn.  The Scheme has also assisted beef finishers in purchasing weanlings and store animals which has supported suckler farmers.

There were 952 applications in county Cavan with an average payment of €1,432 and 1178 applications in county Monaghan with an average payment of €1,553. 

Over recent years the beef sector has faced particular challenges and it needs sustained government support in view of its importance to the rural economy”, stated Deputy Brendan Smith.

18/11/2020

SHEEP WELFARE SCHEME ADVANCED PAYMENTS – SMITH

Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith has welcomed confirmation from the Minister for Agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, T.D., that advance payments  under the Sheep Welfare Scheme commenced today.

“I also welcome the provision of funding for an additional year of the sheep welfare scheme and that additional year will be opening next February.  New entrants to the sheep sector can join the scheme at that time.

364 farmers in Cavan will receive a total payment of €230,529 and 195 farmers in Monaghan will receive payments totalling €130,539”, stated Brendan Smith TD.

Smith welcomes recommencement of the Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme in the coming weeks

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has said that confirmation from Minister Michael McGrath that the the Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme is to recommence is very welcome. 

Deputy Smith said: “The Minister for Finance is tabling an amendment to the Finance Bill to give legislative effect to the existing medical criteria for primary medical certs and, once enacted in the coming weeks, this will enable new primary medical certs to be issued and the recommencement of the Disabled Drivers and Passengers Scheme. 

“This is very welcome news for people across the country. As a party Fianna Fáil has called for a review of this scheme in the past given the current restrictive nature of it. Minister McGrath has confirmed that a review of the scheme will take place. The scope of the review is still being developed but it will include the establishment of a working group to include representatives of the disability advocacy bodies, the HSE, the Disabled Drivers Medical Board of Appeal,” concluded Deputy Smith. 

Need to speed up driving tests – Brendan Smith TD

Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith has been informed by the Minister for Transport that the Road Safety Authority has advised that it is prioritising driving testing for essential workers and has set up a dedicated email (urgentdrivingtest@rsa.ie) where applicants can request to be given priority.

The Minister stated that these requests are prioritised during the scheduling process with cancellation slots being offered where possible.

Minister Ryan was replying to representations from Deputy Brendan Smith in relation to delays in persons having driving tests.

ENDS