Author Archives: Brendan Smith

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.

Govt must make affordable housing a priority – Brendan Smith

HousingEstateGenericEXAMONLY_large

– State-led scheme is needed to kick start development –

 Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith says the government cannot continue to shy away from the housing affordability crisis and is calling on the Housing Minister to bring forward a State-led affordable housing scheme.

Fianna Fáil has brought forward a motion in the Dáil this week calling on the government to earmark an additional capital investment for a state led affordable housing scheme.


Deputy Brendan Smith explained, “People across Cavan and Monaghan are struggling to afford to buy their own homes as prices have started climbing again, but average incomes are not keeping pace.  Affordability is now a real issue and this government’s record to date has been abysmal.


“Fine Gael scrapped the Affordable Homes scheme in 2011 since then not one single affordable home has been built.  The Local Infrastructure Activation Fund aimed to build 5,600 new homes across the country.  None have been delivered to date.  This complete failure has led to a lack of supply, which in itself is fuelling the affordability crisis.


“People are becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of availability of affordable homes in the border counties.  Rents are spiralling out of control and many people, who have saved for years to get a deposit together now find themselves priced out of the market.


“The government’s hands-off approach has led to a major supply shortage.  This cannot continue.  We need to see a State-led scheme to kick-start development in certain areas. This must involve an initial capital investment by the state, and the proceeds of these sales must be re-invested into more homes.


“My party will be putting pressure on the government to invest in an ambitious State-led scheme with clear targets in the upcoming budget.  Our motion this week is one of a number of steps we are taking to address growing affordability.”

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On the 44th Anniversary of the Dublin/Monaghan Bombings Deputy Brendan Smtih continues to call for an investigation into the Dublin/Monaghan bombings

Dublin Monaghan bombings

Yesterday in Westminster I spoke to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley, regarding the need for the British Government to respond positively without further delay to the unanimous requests of Dáil Éireann to provide access to papers and files pertaining to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974. 

“It is not acceptable for the British Government to continue to deny access to these papers which are essential if we are ever to have a comprehensive investigation into these horrific atrocities”, stated Deputy Brendan Smith.

______________________________________________
For
Written Answer on :
15/05/2018
Question Number(s)
: 113 Question Reference(s): 21356/18
Department:
Foreign Affairs and Trade
______________________________________________

QUESTION 

 REPLY 

Question No. 113
Parliamentary Question – Oireachtas


To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the outcome of the most recent discussions he had with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in relation to the need for the British Government to respond positively without further delay to the unanimous requests of Dáil Éireann to provide access to papers and files pertaining to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings of 1974; and if he will make a statement on the matter. 

 – Brendan Smith.

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 15th May, 2018.
Ref No: 21356/18
 

REPLY

In the week of the 44th anniversary of the Dublin Monaghan bombings, which saw the biggest loss of life in a single day during the Troubles, I think it is important to acknowledge those across the House who work on a cross-party basis with the Government on this issue, and the tireless efforts of Justice for the Forgotten. The Government will be represented at the wreath-laying ceremony on 17 May to mark the anniversary of these tragic events by my colleague the Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan T.D.  

The Programme for a Partnership Government highlights the priority that the Government attaches to the implementation of the All-Party Dáil motions relating to the Dublin Monaghan bombings. I recently met with Justice for the Forgotten to hear their views and update them on the Government’s continuing engagement on legacy issues, including with the British Government on the Dáil motions.  

The All-Party motion on the 1974 Dublin Monaghan bombings that was adopted by the Dáil on 25 May 2016 has, like those adopted in 2008 and 2011, been conveyed to the British Government. These motions call on the British Government to allow access by an independent, international judicial figure to all original documents relating to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings, as well as the Dublin bombings of 1972 and 1973, the bombing of Kay’s Tavern in Dundalk and the murder of Seamus Ludlow.

The Government is committed to actively pursuing the implementation of these all-Party Dáil motions, and has consistently raised the issue with the British Government.

I am actively engaged with the British Government on an ongoing basis on this issue, as are officials from my Department. I recently raised the issue directly with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley on 16 April last and my officials were in touch with the British counterparts as recently as last week.

I have consistently underlined to the British Government that the Dáil motions represent the consensus political view in Ireland that an independent, international judicial review of all the relevant documents is required to establish the full facts of the Dublin-Monaghan atrocities. I have also advised that the absence of a response from the British Government is of deep concern to the Government and indeed this House, and I have emphasised the urgent need for such a response.  

 

The Government will continue to engage with the British Government on the request in relation to the Dublin-Monaghan bombings, and pursue all possible avenues that could achieve progress on this issue, consistent with the request made by this House.

17/05/2018



 

 

Number of children stuck on CAMHS waiting list increases by 23% – Brendan Smith

camhs
– 239 children waiting for an appointment in HSE North West region –

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has warned that the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services are reaching crisis levels as new information shows that 239 children are waiting for an appointment in the HSE North West region, which includes Cavan and Monaghan.

The latest available figures from March show that there are now 2,579 children nationally waiting for an appointment. 386 children are waiting longer than 12 months for a CAMHS appointment, up from 350.

Deputy Smith said, “The situation with the CAMHS waiting list is now reaching crisis point. There are now 239 children in the CHO1 area, which includes Cavan and Monaghan, who are waiting for an appointment. This represents a 23% increase in the number of children waiting for an appointment since Christmas.

“Worryingly, there are now 17 children waiting longer than 12 months for an appointment, representing a 54% increase since Christmas. All the evidence suggests that this figure is set to increase even further in the weeks ahead.

“These children that are stuck on waiting lists are waiting for an appointment. It could be many more months before they actually get the intervention they need once this appointment has been secured. This is a serious source of concern for parents who are worried about the impact of these delays on their children’s outcomes.

“The Government has repeatedly claimed that it is improving the capacity of CAMHS nationwide. The reality on the ground paints a different picture. CAMHS cannot even keep up with the current demand, let alone start to reverse the number of people stuck on waiting lists.

“CAMHS is heading for a major crisis. The number of children stuck waiting over a year for an appointment is increasing at a rapid pace. The central issue is recruitment. Figures obtained by Fianna Fáil showed that a staff complement of 1,237 is required for a full CAMHS service. However just 667 were in place in 2017. The government strategy for CAMHS is clearly failing and the Minister needs to look at ways to deliver the programme effectively,” concluded Deputy Brendan Smith.

Details attached –

Attachment 1Attachment 2

Announcement expected shortly regarding Sports Capital Programme

SCG

For sometime I have been raising with the Sports Minister the need to announce details of the next Sports Capital Programme at the earliest possible date. There are many clubs throughout Cavan/Monaghan who are planning on providing new/upgraded facilities.

An early indication in relation to the next Programme would facilitate clubs with their preparatory work.

The Minister for Sport in reply to my Parliamentary Question in Dail Éireann stated –  

“The 2017 round of the Sports Capital Programme attracted a record 2,320 applications. In November and December last, Minister Ross and I announced €60m in allocations to a record 1,800 projects under the 2017 round. A review of the 2017 round of the programme has now been finalised and published on my Department’s website (www.dttas.ie). This review highlights aspects of the 2017 round of the SCP that worked well but also suggests some further improvements which should be considered prior to the next round of the programme opening for applications. An announcement in relation to the timing of the next round is expected in the coming weeks”. 

Please see Parliamentary Questions below - 

______________________________________________

For Written Answer on : 02/05/2018 

Question Number(s): 151 Question Reference(s): 19266/18 

Department: Transport, Tourism and Sport 

______________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport his plans to launch the 2018 Sports Capital Programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Brendan Smith TD

REPLY

The 2017 round of the Sports Capital Programme attracted a record 2,320 applications. In November and December last, Minister Ross and I announced €60m in allocations to a record 1,800 projects under the 2017 round. A review of the 2017 round of the programme has now been finalised and published on my Department’s website (www.dttas.ie). This review highlights aspects of the 2017 round of the SCP that worked well but also suggests some further improvements which should be considered prior to the next round of the programme opening for applications. An announcement in relation to the timing of the next round is expected in the coming weeks.

No Government commitment to upgrading of East West route Cootehill/Dundalk

east west

It is most disappointing that I continue to get the same non committal reply from the Transport Minister in relation to the urgent need to upgrade the Cootehill/Shercock/Carrickmacross/Dundalk route.

I have repeatedly pointed out to Minister Ross that this particular road carries a very heavy volume of heavy traffic and is a very important arterial route for the central border region. Unfortunately it was omitted from the Government’s National Development Plan as well.

With particular challenges for the border region due to Brexit essential infrastructure such as this East West route should be prioritised.

Below are replies to the most recent Parliamentary Questions I tabled in Dáil Éireann on this issue –

______________________________________________

For Written Answer on : 24/04/2018

Question Number(s): 508 Question Reference(s): 17730/18

Department: Transport, Tourism and Sport

______________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport his plans to progress a road project (details supplied) in view of its importance to a number of counties; if this project will be considered for specific funding in the 2019 road works programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Brendan Smith

(Details Supplied) NECESSARY UPGRADING OF THE EAST WEST ROUTE FROM COOTEHILL, CO. CAVAN TO SHERCOCK/CARRICKMACROSS/DUNDALK

REPLY

Proposals to deliver an upgraded East-West route linking Dundalk to Sligo, taking in Cavan, involve linking elements of the national road network and regional roads along as direct a route as possible. Essentially the route involves upgrade/realignment works on the regional routes from Dundalk to Cavan and on national routes from Cavan to Sligo.

As regards the regional road aspect of the proposal, the improvement and maintenance of regional and local roads in its area is a statutory function of local authorities in accordance with the provisions of Section 13 of the Roads Act, 1993.  Works on such roads are a matter for the relevant local authority to be funded from its own resources supplemented by State road grants.

My Department provided funding to Cavan County Council (acting as lead authority with Monaghan and Louth County Councils) with over €2m in the period 2007-2014 to progress the regional road element of the project to preliminary design.

This year I have given an allocation of €25,000 to Cavan County Council to enable the Council to undertake appraisal work, in line with the current requirements in the Public Spending Code and the Capital Investment Framework, of the Cavan to Dundalk section of the route.  The aim of this appraisal would be to assess the extent to which the scheme or elements of it can be justified in terms of appraisal and advanced for further consideration in relation to schemes for development post 2021.

______________________________________________

For Oral Answer on : 24/04/2018

Question Number(s): 34 Question Reference(s): 17740/18

Department: Transport, Tourism and Sport

______________________________________________

 QUESTION

 To ask the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport the discussions held to date at national and EU level in relation to the possibility of having cohesion funding post-2020 provided for road developments; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Brendan Smith

REPLY

 While the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has overall responsibility for EU Cohesion Policy and the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds, at the outset I think I should clarify the position regarding the Cohesion Fund. This Fund is aimed at Member States whose Gross National Income (GNI) per inhabitant is less than 90% of the EU average. For the 2014-2020 period, the countries which qualify for the Cohesion Fund are Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. As a budget contributor, Ireland does not qualify for Cohesion funding.

I am, however, fully engaged in exploring future EU funding options for the transport sector. Following the publication of the National Development Plan and the National Planning Framework, Minister Donohoe and I wrote a joint letter in February to Transport Commissioner Bulc and Regional Policy Commissioner Cretu emphasising the considerable challenges facing Ireland in the transport sector and setting out how the NDP and NPF will inform future investments into the regions, including the West, Border and North West regions which will be particularly impacted by Brexit. We made the point that investment in infrastructure has the potential to mitigate the implications of Brexit in these regions.

Over the coming years, Ireland will continue to prioritise key projects on the Core and Comprehensive networks under the National Development Plan with the objective of enhancing connectivity between the Comprehensive and Core networks and thereby enhancing the sustainability and connectivity of our outermost regions and our connectivity to Northern Ireland.

The Connecting Europe Framework (CEF) is the EU funding instrument developed specifically to direct investment into European transport, energy and digital infrastructures to address identified missing links and bottlenecks. Preparations are underway for CEF 2 and my Department has been participating fully in that process. In this regard the Department wrote to the European Commission in March with its comments on the Commission’s draft proposals. This letter again stressed Ireland’s reliance on its road network and the need for investment in strategic road links.

Minister and HSE ignoring needs of Emergency Department of Cavan General Hospital – Brendan Smith TD

hospital

“It is most disappointing that neither the Health Minister nor the HSE will give a firm commitment to fund necessary developments at the Emergency Department, Cavan General Hospital.

On numerous occasions I have raised through Parliamentary Questions and in other debates in Dáil Éireann the inadequate facilities in the Emergency Department and the need to upgrade existing accommodation and also provide new facilities.

I have been getting a stock response for far too long stating that the RCSI Hospital Group has put forward a case for funding to the HSE to upgrade the resuscitation area and is awaiting confirmation of funding to proceed with this development. This project is necessary along with other upgrading work, and increasing attendances at the Emergency Department on an annual basis, are creating additional pressures on staff and resources.

A few years ago commitments were given that substantial investment would be made in the Emergency Department with the provision of additional accommodation and unfortunately there is no sign of this proposed project advancing at all” stated Deputy Brendan Smith.

 

ENDS

APRIL 19 2018

Below is the most recent reply from RCSI Hospital Group following a further Parliamentary Question in Dáil Éireann

 

Mr. Brendan Smith, TD,

Dáil Éireann,

Leinster House,

Kildare Street,

Dublin 2.

 Re:    Parliamentary Question 14696/18 “To ask the Minister for Health if provision is made in the 2018 financial allocation to the HSE to progress the proposed upgrade of a health facility (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. DETAILS: Need to upgrade and expand Emergency Department, Cavan General Hospital due to present inadequate facilities and increased attendance of patients over the last number of years.”

 

Dear Deputy Smith,

 The RCSI Hospital Group has been requested to reply directly to you in the context of the above Parliamentary Question, which you submitted to the Minister for Health for response. I have examined the matter and the following outlines the position.

 The Hospital through the RCSI Hospital Group has put forward a case for funding to the HSE to upgrade the resuscitation area and is awaiting confirmation of funding to proceed with this development.

 I trust this information is of assistance to you.

 

 

RCSI Hospital Group

comms@rcsihospitals.ie

Prospecting Licences Surrendered in respect of Belturbet/Milltown/Drumlane area

landscape

I have been informed by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment that Prospecting Licences issued to BMEx Ltd. in respect of the Belturbet/Milltown/Drumlane area have been recently surrendered by the company.

The Minister was replying to my further Parliamentary Question in Dáil Éireann in relation to the concerns of the local community about the prospecting and potential mining and the adverse environmental impacts such activities would have on that general area.

I was glad, along with Councillor Sean Smith and Councillor John Paul Feeley, to meet with and support the Cavan Mining Objection Group in raising their concerns. This Group put together very detailed and well reasoned arguments against such prospecting and I was glad to support their work.

Below is reply by the Minister to my Dáil Question -

______________________________________________

For Written Answer on : 25/04/2018

Question Number(s): 195 Question Reference(s): 18123/18

Department: Communications, Climate Action and Environment ______________________________________________

QUESTION 

[Ref No.: 18123/18] * To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment if issues raised in correspondence (details supplied) will be examined in view of the concerns of a local community; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Brendan Smith.

Correspondence emailed to Dept on 20/04/2018 @ 13:10 * For WRITTEN answer on Wednesday, 25th April, 2018. (519 Received on 19th April, 2018.)

REPLY

As the Deputy may be aware, three comprehensive letters of information and clarification have been sent to the Cavan Mining Objection Group to date and all of the issues now raised have been addressed previously. In addition, a presentation was given to Cavan County Council by the Chief Geologist of the Exploration and Mining Division of my Department on April 9th at which members of the Cavan Mining Objection Group were present. For clarity, I will ask my officials to send a copy of all correspondence and of the presentation given to Cavan County Council directly to the Deputy.

In brief, in response to the points raised in the correspondence attached to the Deputy’s question, I can confirm: · To date, where minerals have been found and companies have purchased land, this has been agreed with the landowner. There have been no instances to date where a landowner has been forced to sell their land. In addition, to date, there have been no compulsory acquisitions of land for mining development. · The text of my Department’s letter to the Cavan Mining Objection Group, dated 28 September, identified the environmental safeguards that have been put in place to guard against the possibility of any potential significant environmental impacts arising. It is important to note that in the case of mining, the environmental assessments are carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). · It is noted that Ireland ranks highly in the Policy Perception Index (PPI) because of its robust and transparent regulatory system. The transparency of the expectations with regard to adherence to licence conditions and protection of the environment provide clarity to any exploration company considering investment in this jurisdiction. · The Directors of BMEx Ltd. carried out two site visits in the locality. Other than that, the data analysis and compilation has been desk-based. · It should be noted that no application for mining has been made. I reiterate that prospecting and exploration activities are non-intrusive and temporary in nature and environmental impact is minimal.

The up-to-date position regarding these Prospecting Licences is that BMEx Ltd. have carried out data compilation and geological mapping in the Prospecting Licence Areas, and, as a result of this work, they have downgraded the prospectivity of the project and have decided to prioritise exploration elsewhere. The licences have been recently surrendered by the company. I trust this and all of the previous correspondence clarifies matters for the Deputy.