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.

Brendan Smith calls for increased engagement with Biden Administration on Undocumented in US

Pictured above Senator Billy Lawless and Brendan Smith TD meeting with Congressman Brendan Boyle in December 2019

Fianna Fáil Deputy and Co-Chair of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly Brendan Smith has called on the Government to increase its engagement with the new Biden Administration in the US to ensure further protections for the Undocumented in the United States.  

Speaking this week, US congressman Brendan Boyle, who has family roots in Donegal, said that Irish immigration was in decline there and that the US Government needed to restore a legal framework whereby Irish emigrants can enter the US successfully.  

Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “I welcome Brendan Boyle’s continued support and I have asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will have discussions at an early date with the United States administration in relation to the need for immigration reform with particular reference to the undocumented Irish following the referral by President Biden of the US Citizenship Act to Congress.”  

Deputy Smith: “I welcome Minister Coveney’s commitment to continue to pursue the E3 Visa Bill option which, if passed, could provide access to thousands of US visas each year to Irish citizens. 

“Urgency must be attached to this important issue with the new Administration and new Congress in place. 

“The links between Ireland and the US have always been strong and our diaspora play a key role in maintaining relationships.  It is vitally important that these connections are supported into the future.”  

Allocations for Cavan and Monaghan for Non National Roads – Brendan Smith TD

Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith has welcomed the allocation of €15.5 Million for Cavan County Council and €16 Million to Monaghan County Council for the Non National Roads Network Programme for 2021.

This funding will enable improvement works to be carried out throughout all of both counties and there are some specific grant allocations including bridge repairs, specific safety works and an allocation of €130,000 towards the East/West Road.  This will enable further preparatory work to be carried out on this much needed project.

Major investment is needed in our road network in both Cavan and Monaghan as the condition of many roads in both counties had deteriorated in recent years.

I have continuously highlighted this important issue to successive Transport Ministers and below is a Dáil reply of last week.

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For Written Answer on : 11/02/2021
Question Number(s): 55 Question Reference(s): 7843/21
Department: Transport
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
______________________________________________


QUESTION


To ask the Minister for Transport when he plans to make the allocations to local authorities in respect of the 2021 non-national roads programme; if he will ensure a substantial increase in the allocations to Cavan and Monaghan county councils in view of the particular importance of the road network in both counties; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY


The improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads is the statutory responsibility of each local authority in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act 1993. Works on those roads are funded from local authorities’ own resources supplemented by State road grants.

Following the publication of the Revised Estimates Volume (REV), the allocation for regional and local roads in 2021 is €555 million approximately – €46m Current and €509m Capital.

My objective will be to allocate funding to eligible local authorities on as equitable a basis as possible taking the length of the road network and traffic factors into account.  The main focus of the grants will continue to be maintenance and renewal of the regional and local road network.

Grant allocations for 2021 are being notified to local authorities this week.

RESTRICTIONS ON TRAVEL

“Gardaí stopping motorists from Northern Ireland or from this jurisdiction in the border region does not amount to border checks.  I would be opposed  to having checks at border crossings. As a lay person I believe that random/rolling check points are more effective.

I had raised on a number of occasions through Parliamentary Questions the need to ensure that restrictions on travel are strictly implemented regardless of persons being ordinarily resident in this State or not.  People resident in this State are subject to covid-19 related travel restrictions and people visiting this State should have to comply with the same regulations.

People from Northern Ireland or this State can travel on essential journeys.  Non-essential travel is not permitted.  The same legal obligations apply to all.  Under the current covid-19 public health restrictions travel is restricted to within 5km of a person’s home except for essential reasons.

Residents of our State travelling to Northern Ireland for non-essential reasons are subject to on-the-spot fines that have been in place for the past four weeks to ensure people do not travel further than 5km from their homes” stated Brendan Smith TD. 

ENDS

FEBRUARY 9 2021

BELOW IS A REPLY BY THE MINISTER FOR HEALTH TO MY MOST RECENT PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION IN DÁIL ÉIREANN REGARDING TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS.

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 28/01/2021
Question Number(s): 287 Question Reference(s): 4900/21
Department: Health
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
______________________________________________


QUESTION


To ask the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 336 of 14 January 2021, if additional measures will be introduced in co-ordination with the authorities in Northern Ireland to ensure that restrictions on travel are strictly implemented regardless of persons being ordinarily resident in this State or not; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY


The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A – Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No. 10) Regulations 2020 (SI No. 701 of 2020) came into operation on 30 December, 2020. These Regulations provide that a person may not leave their place of residence without reasonable excuse. The regulations define place of residence for people resident in the State and people not ordinarily resident in the State. In relation to a person who is not ordinarily resident in the State, the regulations define place of residence as the premises in the State, if any, at which he or she is currently residing, whether on a permanent or temporary basis. The Deputy will be aware that the Government is drawing up measures to tighten restrictions on travel into and out of the State as a matter of urgency.

I am aware of the risks posed to the entire island by international travel during the pandemic and will continue discussions with the Northern Ireland Executive and UK Government on opportunities for increased alignment and common outcomes on travel issues more generally.

Brendan Smith calls for increased engagement with Biden Administration on Undocumented in US

Pictured above Senator Billy Lawless and Brendan Smith TD meeting with Congressman Brendan Boyle in December 2019

Fianna Fáil Deputy and Co-Chair of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly Brendan Smith has called on the Government to increase its engagement with the new Biden Administration in the US to ensure further protections for the Undocumented in the United States.  

Speaking this week, US congressman Brendan Boyle, who has family roots in Donegal, said that Irish immigration was in decline there and that the US Government needed to restore a legal framework whereby Irish emigrants can enter the US successfully.  

Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “I welcome Brendan Boyle’s continued support and I have asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will have discussions at an early date with the United States administration in relation to the need for immigration reform with particular reference to the undocumented Irish following the referral by President Biden of the US Citizenship Act to Congress.”  

Deputy Smith: “I welcome Minister Coveney’s commitment to continue to pursue the E3 Visa Bill option which, if passed, could provide access to thousands of US visas each year to Irish citizens. 

“Urgency must be attached to this important issue with the new Administration and new Congress in place. 

“The links between Ireland and the US have always been strong and our diaspora play a key role in maintaining relationships.  It is vitally important that these connections are supported into the future.”  

ENDS

BELOW PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION

FEBRUARY 9 2021

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 28/01/2021
Question Number(s): 134 Question Reference(s): 4904/21
Department: Foreign Affairs
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
______________________________________________


QUESTION


To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will have discussions at an early date with the United States administration in relation to the need for immigration reform with particular reference to the undocumented Irish following the referral by President Biden of the US Citizenship Act to Congress; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

Strengthening bilateral relations with the US is a priority for Ireland as set out in our Programme for Government,as wellin our Strategy for the US and Canada 2019-2025. We continue to maintain close relations with Members of Congress and contacts from across the political spectrum, and will continue to seek opportunities to deepen and strengthen our bilateral relations with the new Administration of President Joe Biden.

In particular, we look forward to working with the new Administration, as well as with the United States Congress, across the aisle, to pursue comprehensive immigration reform in the US. We are pleased to see that immigration issues, including regarding pathways to citizenship, are a priority for the new US President, as demonstrated by the proposed US Citizenship Act of 2021. We will actively engage with the new Administration and Congress on this particular initiative, including through our Embassy in Washington, DC.

The issue of Irish immigration to the US, particularly the status of the undocumented Irish, has been a high priority for successive Governments and continues to be one of my key priorities. Immigration issues have been raised on an ongoing basis in our engagement with US Administrations and political leaders. I have raised these issues in contacts with members of the previous US Administration and both Houses of Congress, including during my visit to Washington D.C. at the end of September last year.

In terms of securing future pathways for immigration, we will continue to pursue the E3 Visa Bill option. If passed, this could allow access to thousands of US visas each year to Irish citizens, providing new opportunities to live and work in the US. Now that the new Administration and new Congress is in place, we will seek the reintroduction of the Bill at the earliest opportunity.

Gaelscoil Lorgan

I welcome the decision by my colleague Norma Foley – TD to approve the acquisition of a 4 acre site to accommodate Gaelscoil Lorgan.

The site is located at Shercock Road, Castleblayney and this is a welcome development. I wish the Board of Management, the Principal and staff every success in progressing this project.


2/2/2021

Below is a reply to a Parliamentary Question I tabled following representations I received regarding the Junior Certificate Examination

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For Written Answer on : 04/02/2021
Question Number(s): 122 Question Reference(s): 6311/21
Department: Education
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
______________________________________________


QUESTION


To ask the Minister for Education the position regarding the holding of the 2021 junior certificate examinations; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY


My Department is acutely aware of the challenges faced by students, teachers and families as a result of COVID-19. The pandemic has brought significant challenges to the education system, and I am acutely aware of the impacts that this has had on those students preparing to sit their final examinations. It is recognised that a flexible and agile approach is necessary in light of the continuing fast-moving environment linked to COVID-19.

The planning work underway in respect of the State Examinations in 2021 is being assisted by an Advisory Group of key stakeholders which has met on a number of occasions in recent months. The advisory group has been convened to advise Government on all of the various issues arising in relation to the holding of the 2021 examinations, including public health considerations and appropriate contingency measures.  The advisory group includes representatives of students, parents, teachers, school leadership and management bodies, the State Examinations Commission, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, the Higher Education Authority and the Department of Education, including the National Educational Psychological Service.

At a meeting of the group on 22 January, the Irish Second Level Students’ Union presented its Report on the 2021 State Examinations and Return to School. Following this meeting, the group agreed that there would be an intensive set of engagements in respect of exploring further possible options for the examinations, having regard to the findings of the recent ISSU Report on the 2021 State Examinations.

The sub-group exploring these options has since met on three occasions and has discussed further possible measures that could be taken to address the demands on students preparing for the examinations.  Having regard to the impact of current school closures for face-to-face tuition, there was also discussion on the scope and form of assessment for the various examination components, written and non-written.

All partners are committed to acting in the interests and wellbeing of students, who are at the heart of this process.

A meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Education also took place on 1 February which provided an opportunity for consideration of possible options prior to consideration by Government as a whole.

From Monday 11 January 2021, all students, including Junior Cycle students, have been engaging in a programme of remote learning with their schools.

The public health restrictions which resulted in the original closure of schools in March 2020 highlighted the absolute necessity for schools to be agile in providing for continuity of schooling in the future. As a contingency measure against the possibility of partial or full school closures, my Department has already provided a suite of guidance materials, agreed with the education partners, to enable schools to mediate the curriculum safely for all pupils/students in a COVID-19 context. These are available at www.gov.ie/backtoschool. This documentation has been complemented by Circular 0074/2020 (Communication/Teaching & Learning Platform) which requires all schools to have in place appropriate contingency measures to ensure that they are prepared to continue to support teaching and learning in the event of a partial or full closure of schools arising from Public Health advice.

Other documents published by my Department to support the return to school include ‘Guidance for Practical Subjects in Post-Primary Schools and Centres for Education’ and ‘Returning to school: Guidance on learning and school programmes for post primary school leaders and teachers’. These documents provide guidance for teachers and schools that is specific to each practical subject area, so that students can be facilitated to actively engage with their learning.  All documentation published is available on www.gov.ie/backtoschool.

Restrictions on travel

I have continuously highlighted the need to implement in full the restrictions on travel to this country.  It is essential that the regulations are applied to persons regardless of their place of residence in this State or elsewhere.

You will note from the reply below by the Minister for Health to my most recent Parliamentary Question in Dáil Éireann that the government is drawing up measures to tighten restrictions on travel into and out of this State.

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 28/01/2021
Question Number(s): 287 Question Reference(s): 4900/21
Department: Health
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
______________________________________________


QUESTION


To ask the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 336 of 14 January 2021, if additional measures will be introduced in co-ordination with the authorities in Northern Ireland to ensure that restrictions on travel are strictly implemented regardless of persons being ordinarily resident in this State or not; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY


The Health Act 1947 (Section 31A – Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No. 10) Regulations 2020 (SI No. 701 of 2020) came into operation on 30 December, 2020. These Regulations provide that a person may not leave their place of residence without reasonable excuse. The regulations define place of residence for people resident in the State and people not ordinarily resident in the State. In relation to a person who is not ordinarily resident in the State, the regulations define place of residence as the premises in the State, if any, at which he or she is currently residing, whether on a permanent or temporary basis. The Deputy will be aware that the Government is drawing up measures to tighten restrictions on travel into and out of the State as a matter of urgency.

I am aware of the risks posed to the entire island by international travel during the pandemic and will continue discussions with the Northern Ireland Executive and UK Government on opportunities for increased alignment and common outcomes on travel issues more generally.

FUNDING FOR DISAILITY SERVICES – BRENDAN SMITH TD

Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD, Brendan Smith has welcomed the allocation by the Minister of State with responsibility for Disability of funding for some disability services in Cavan/Monaghan under the new Strengthening Disability Services Fund.

“I welcome the allocation of €35,125 to a number of local disability services to support their work and enhance supports for people with disabilities.  I commend the local service providers and their staff in providing support for service users and their families through the Covid-19 pandemic.  It is essential that government continues to provide new and  additional financial support to enable the provision of improved services for the disability sector” stated Brendan Smith TD.

The following allocations were made by Minister Rabbitte:

ENDS

Minister Burke announces further commercial rates package

Minister Peter Burke, Minister of State for Planning and Local Government, has announced another commercial rates package for local authorities totalling €160 million for the first quarter of 2021.

This is being provided to assist local authorities during the current further round of Government Covid-19 restrictions and to ensure businesses most affected by these restrictions are not facing commercial rates bills. 

This three month waiver is more focused than the previous nine month waiver and Minister Burke has outlined that support to businesses will be targeted to those most severely impacted, such as hospitality, leisure, childcare, personal care, entertainment, retail (excluding large supermarkets), airports, health and service stations.

It is estimated that the extension of the waiver to these categories of business in the first quarter of 2021 will cost €160 million.  The waiver of commercial rates beyond the first quarter of 2021 will be kept under review and considered in the context of public health guidelines.

Minister of State for Planning and Local Government, Peter Burke TD, said:

“I am committed to supporting businesses while also making sure our local authorities continue their own vital services to the public. Today I can confirm that commercial rates for those most severely impacted by public health requirements will continue to be waived for the first 3 months of 2021. To support local authorities in the continued delivery of key services and in their ongoing response to the Covid-19 crisis, this cost, expected to be approximately €160 million, will be met by the Exchequer.

“Local authorities have always worked with ratepayers of all types and will continue to do so in these uncertain times. This measure will assist local authorities to balance their obligations to levy rates with the vital need to support employment and economic activity. Local authorities will play a vital role in regenerating the post-COVID local economies and will engage with ratepayers to offer enterprise support, relevant to their circumstances.”

ENDS

Fáilte Ireland announces details of new €55million business continuity scheme for the tourism sector and priorities for 2021

News Release

Monday 1st February 2021

Fáilte Ireland announces details of new €55million business continuity scheme for the tourism sector and priorities for 2021
Key industry event ‘Survive to Thrive’ unveils

€55million Tourism Business Continuity Scheme

Heavyweight investment in domestic marketing
Employee, business and sector supports
Outdoor dining and urban animation investment
Digital transformation programme

Fáilte Ireland has today (1st February) announced details of its new €55million Tourism Business Continuity Scheme.  The announcement was made at a special virtual industry event watched by thousands of operators, providers and employers from across the tourism sector.

The allocation was secured by Minister Catherine Martin TD in Budget 2021 and Fáilte Ireland is responsible for developing and administering the scheme. 

The scheme will support those tourism businesses that were not eligible for the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) payment or previous Fáilte Ireland continuity grant schemes.

The National Tourism Development Authority also announced its heavyweight domestic marketing plans, investment commitments in outdoor dining and urban animation and its strategic priorities for the year ahead. The event entitled ‘Survive to Thrive’, provided industry with details of Fáilte Ireland’s plans that will help support resilience and survival in the short term and the recovery of the sector in the long-term.

The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport, Gaeltacht and Media, Catherine Martin T.D., delivered the keynote address. Welcoming Fáilte Ireland’s priorities, the Minister said:

“I welcome Fáilte Ireland’s action plans for 2021 which I am confident will have a positive impact on the industry and will be key to helping it survive and thrive in the year ahead. I allocated €55million to Fáilte Ireland for the Tourism Business Continuity Scheme as part of Budget 2021 and this will be important to help those strategically important tourism businesses that are ineligible for other supports. The Government will continue to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy and ensure that appropriate supports are in place. We are now developing tourism for survival through the pandemic and recovery in the medium and long term.”

In his address, Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly announced the main priorities for Fáilte Ireland this year to support the tourism industry. Grant schemes to provide financial assistance, domestic marketing at national and county level, urban outdoor investment, business and employee supports with a special focus on mental health and a new digital transformation programme were unveiled.

Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland, said:

“This has been the most challenging year tourism has ever faced. The sector’s revenue has declined by a massive €6billion and tens of thousands of jobs have been lost. We are launching the first phase of the €55million Tourism Business Continuity Scheme on February 11th. This will provide those tourism businesses who have not received support through the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) or previous Fáilte Ireland business continuity schemes, with direct financial assistance.

Domestic tourism will be the first to return and we plan to invest significantly in domestic marketing once domestic tourism can restart. Our research tells us that the ‘Keep Discovering’ campaign we launched prior to the COVID-19 pandemic resonates even more strongly with people now and we will be rolling the campaign out at both a national and county level to drive domestic tourism when the country re-opens.

We are also launching two new funding schemes in collaboration with our local authority partners to improve the quality of outdoor dining spaces in our key tourism destinations and enhance urban areas to make them more appealing to visitors.”

Fáilte Ireland has set out a number of key initiatives for 2021:

  • A €55million Tourism Business Continuity Scheme1 to help tourism businesses offset fixed costs incurred in 2020 and support them to continue operating through 2021.
  • Heavyweight investment in Domestic Marketing to drive domestic tourism once the country re-opens including county-specific campaigns and a focus on Dublin.
  • Employee, business and sector supports on areas such as strategy and leadership, finance and cost efficiency, food and beverage innovation, maximising revenue and service excellence to drive performance and help businesses navigate the challenges they are facing, as well as wellbeing services to support employers and employees at this difficult time.
  • The enhancement of urban areas through 31 Destination Town2 projects across the country and two new funding schemes – the Outdoor Dining Grant Scheme which will improve the quality of outdoor dining spaces and offer reassurance around safety and comfort, and the Urban Animation Grant Scheme to animate our cities and towns with innovative lighting and art installations.
  • Preparing for the return of tourism by working with industry to build improved websites and online booking capability through a new digital transformation programme and continuing to keep Ireland front of mind for overseas buyers through a range of virtual sales events, including Meitheal, one of Ireland’s largest travel trade shows.

Follow us on Twitter @Failte_Ireland and LinkedIn Fáilte Ireland


ENDS

For further information please contact:

Lucy Cefai, Communications Officer | M: +353 86 460 7845

Note for editor

1€55million Tourism Business Continuity Scheme

The first phase of the €55million Tourism Business Continuity Scheme opens for applications on the 11th February 2021 to businesses including outdoor activity providers (e.g. Bike tours, Surf Schools, Kayaking tours, Angling, tourist boat tour operators, Hop on Hop off Bus tours with onboard tourism experiences, walking tours, instructor led/guided tourism equestrian experiences and golf courses with a tourism offering), Visitor attractions not eligible for CRSS (e.g. attractions with charity/not for profit status or that are primarily outdoor attractions), Caravan and camping providers registered with Fáilte Ireland and Cruise Hire companies who meet the eligibility criteria.

To be eligible for the scheme: 

  • a business’ monthly turnover from October 2020 to January 2021 must be less than 25% of its average monthly turnover in 2019;
  • the business must have a minimum annual turnover of €50,000 and minimum fixed costs of 10% of turnover;
  • the business must not be eligible to apply for the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) or have received funding through the Fáilte Ireland Coach Tourism Business Continuity Scheme or Ireland Based Inbound Agents Business Continuity Scheme.

The minimum grant is €3,750 and the maximum grant is €200k.

Full details and eligibly criteria will be available on www.failteireland.ie from the 11th February 2021. 

Phase 2 of the scheme will be launched in March 2021. 

2Destination Towns Scheme

In 2019, Fáilte Ireland launched the Destination Towns Scheme to boost the attractiveness and tourism appeal of towns nationwide. Over €15million was allocated to 31 towns and Fáilte Ireland continues to implement projects to improve public realm and visitor experience​ in these locations.

Fáilte Ireland

As the National Tourism Development Authority, Fáilte Ireland’s role is to support the long-term sustainable growth in the economic, social, cultural and environmental contribution of tourism to Ireland. Tourism is of critical importance to the national economy and to regional development and employment. Pre-coronavirus, the sector generated revenue of €7.5billion annually and supported 260,000 jobs nationwide while contributing €1.7billion to the Exchequer.

We work in partnership with Government, State agencies, Local Authorities, representative groups and industry, to develop tourism across Ireland by creating destination development plans and networks, investing in infrastructure, activities, visitor attractions and festivals.  Fáilte Ireland also provides consumer and buyer insights, mentoring, business supports and training programmes and buyer platforms to help tourism businesses innovate and grow.

In addition, Fáilte Ireland supports Business Tourism, managing the bidding for and securing of larger conferences, meetings and events to be hosted in Ireland.

We are also responsible for domestic holiday marketing across four regional experience brands: Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland’s Ancient East, Ireland’s Hidden Heartlands and Dublin.