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.

MESSAGE FROM BIPA CO-CHAIRS FOLLOWING SIR DAVID AMESS TRAGEDY

16 OCTOBER 2021 

Sir David Amess was an esteemed colleague, Associate Member and friend of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly and his loss has deeply shocked all of us. Our thoughts are with him and with his family for whom the tragedy is orders of magnitude more intense.

We must not let such awful events stop business in our democracies, but out of respect for David and his family we have made the incredibly difficult decision to cancel Monday’s BIPA plenary.”

 – Andrew Rosindell MP & Brendan Smith TD, British and Irish Co-Chairs of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly (BIPA).

ENDS//

Brendan Smith welcomes cross-border approval of €1.1 billion 2021-27 PEACE PLUS EU Programme

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan, Brendan Smith has welcomed approval by the North South Ministerial Council of the draft PEACE PLUS cross-border EU programme.

Following approval last week by the Government, the draft programme was this week approved by the Northern Ireland Executive and by the North South Ministerial Council. The programme will now be reviewed by the European Commission for final consideration and approval, ahead of a formal launch in 2022.

PEACE PLUS is a new North South programme for the 2021-27 period which will combine the previous PEACE and INTERREG EU funding strands into one cohesive cross-border programme. This new programme will support peace and prosperity across an eligible area of Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland (Counties Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Louth, Monaghan and Sligo).

Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “With a total funding package of over €1.1 billion, PEACE PLUS is set to be an ambitious and impactful cross-border programme, which will benefit counties Cavan and Monaghan, and which will build on the strong legacy of the PEACE and INTERREG EU programmes. I believe that the scale of the support which PEACE PLUS will provide for shared peace and prosperity across Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland is especially timely as we look ahead to recovery from the COVID pandemic and as we adapt to the challenges of Brexit.” 

The Cavan and Monaghan TD continued: “I would like in particular to acknowledge the shared commitment of the EU, the UK, the Northern Ireland Executive and our Government to PEACE PLUS. The development of this programme since 2018 is a strong signal of our continued joint commitment to support peace and reconciliation and cross-border cooperation on the island of Ireland.

“I would also like to thank the Special EU Programmes Body for their exhaustive work on programme development for PEACE PLUS, as well as the stakeholders represented on the PEACE PLUS Programme Development Steering Group.”

Deputy Brendan Smith concluded: “I look forward to European Commission approval of the draft programme over the coming months, and to a formal launch of PEACE PLUS in 2022.”

ENDS

Brendan Smith calls on Minister to effectively support tourism sector in wake of pandemic

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan has urged the Minister for Tourism to prioritise effective supports for the tourist industry in the wake of the devastating impact of the pandemic, as part of pre-Budget submissions this week.

In a Parliamentary Question to the Minister, Deputy Brendan Smith called for adequate Government financial support to aid the sector now, adding: “Covid-19 has taken a huge toll on the tourism industry. There are many small businesses in the sector that have struggled to keep the doors open and the lights on over the past 18 months.

“The Minister must do everything to ensure that there are robust and effective financial supports available for these tourist businesses to not just survive, but thrive following the pandemic.”

The Cavan and Monaghan TD added: “This sector also plays a huge role in our economy, and in how Ireland is perceived by the outside world and has done so much to advertise Ireland as being attractive to international investment. Now is the time to put in place whatever further supports are needed so the sector has a successful future.”

ENDS

8/10/2021

Brendan Smith welcomes €22m in financial and mental health and wellbeing supports for students

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan, Brendan Smith has welcomed €17.2 million in student supports and €5 million to support students’ mental health and wellbeing, announced today.

The supports are being provided as part of a €105 million package for Further and Higher Education provided by Government.

Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “It has been an incredibly difficult 18 months for students due to the pandemic. We now have students back on campus across the country and they still need significant support – financial and other. The Student Assistance Fund is a fund that is in place for students who might be financially struggling and today, €17 million has been confirmed in support.

“Right now, we are still not sure what the long-term impact of the pandemic on young people’s mental health might be. The additional €5 million also announced today, will go towards student counselling services and the roll-out of innovative mental health and wellbeing supports for students and training for staff.”

The Cavan and Monaghan TD added: “The health and wellbeing of students is paramount as they settle back into the academic year. I would like students to know that if they are experiencing mental health difficulties the supports are there. Students can text TALK to 50808 to avail of a free 24/7 text service, providing everything from a calming chat to immediate support. My Mind provide free counselling online in 17 different languages. www.belongto.org provides support, information and groups for LGBTI+ young people in Ireland also.” 

The Student Assistance Fund provides financial support to full or part-time students who are experiencing financial difficulties while attending college. Students can apply for the Student Assistance Fund to help with either temporary or ongoing financial difficulties. 

The Student Assistance Fund is available to help with costs such as books and class materials, rent and other utility bills, food, essential travel, childcare costs, medical costs.

The mental health funding will be used to:

o   recruit additional Student Counsellors

o   recruit additional Assistant Psychologists

o   recruit Head of Service posts for those HEIs employing more than 2 FTEs

o   train HEI staff to enable them to support and refer students to appropriate services

o   raise awareness among students of mental health and wellbeing services available, including through student outreach activities;

o   support implementation of the National Student Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Framework

o   support implementation of the Framework for Consent in HEIs; Safe, Respectful, Supportive and Positive: Ending Sexual Harassment in Irish Higher Education Institutions

ENDS

Brendan Smith welcomes additional current funding of €65m for Sports Sector

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan Brendan Smith has welcomed additional current funding of up to €65 million that will be available to support the sports sector this year.

Allied to the additional current expenditure of €26.3 million already provided to Sport Ireland, a total of €91.3 million will have been allocated in additional current funding to support the sports sector in 2021.

This package is intended to support National Governing Bodies of Sport and sports clubs arising from the significant impact of COVID-19 restrictions on the sports sector, by providing specific funding support for the following sectors;

·       Field Sport funding to support the main field sports, i.e. the FAI, the GAA and the IRFU;

·       A Resilience Fund to support the other National Governing Bodies of Sport;

·       A Sports Club Resilience Fund to support clubs from all sports;

·       A Swimming Pools/Facilities Fund;

·       A Resumption of Sport & Physical Activity Fund.

The above schemes will be run by Sport Ireland and the funding will be distributed through the National Governing Bodies of Sport.

Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “I am very pleased that the Government is able to continue to support our sporting bodies. Last year, our Covid-19 support funding helped ensure that our sporting bodies were in a position to maintain operations, avoid insolvency and prepare for a return to activity. The funding also provided support with Covid-19 related costs and losses in 166 Rugby clubs, over 400 grassroots and League of Ireland Clubs along with 33,271 Gaelic Games teams.  In addition, support was provided to 1,637 clubs throughout the country through small grants operated by Local Sports Partnerships.” 

The Cavan and Monaghan TD added: “We have seen the positive impact that the return of sporting fixtures has had across the country these past few months. However, there is a lot more work to be done. Many organisations and clubs have lost huge amounts of revenue, as their activities have been severely curtailed. The indoor sports sector has been particularly badly hit, with indoor sports only set to resume their activities this month. I hope that this funding will go a long way to assisting our sporting organisations and clubs and enable them to recover fully as we emerge from this pandemic.”

Deputy Smith concluded: “Great credit is due to all the volunteers in all our clubs throughout the country who do so much to enable participation in sports and the holding of competitions.”

ENDS

Building project at Kill National School to go to construction

Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith welcomes the decision by his colleague, Norma Foley, TD, Minister for Education to issue approval for the building project at Kill National School to proceed to construction.

“This building project will consist of a Special Education Teaching Rooms and mainstream classroom with en-suite facilities.

I am glad to have supported the Principal and staff, the Board of Management and the Parents’ Association in their application for additional permanent accommodation.  This new building will add considerably to the school’s accommodation.  I compliment the school community on their work over the years in upgrading and extending the school”, stated Brendan Smith TD.

Approval to proceed to construction (1 of 1)
County:Cavan
School Name:Kill National School
Roll Number:19285A
Programme List:Additional School Accommodation Scheme
Project Type:Extension
Delivery Mechanism:Devolved
Project Brief:1x 15m2 SET rooms and 1x 80m2 Mainstream classroom including ensuite
5/10/2021

Brendan Smith TD: Delays in approving supports for children with special needs must be reduced

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan/Monaghan, Brendan Smith has called on the Minister for Education to ensure that delays in sanctioning supports for children with special needs are eliminated as a matter of urgency.

Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “Recently, I raised again in Dáil Éireann through further Parliamentary Questions, the need for supports for children with special needs to be put in place in a timely manner and have delays in sanctioning posts reduced.

“There has been a welcome increase in the level of resources for special education and this progress needs to be continued. In circumstances where changes occur during the school year there needs to be a quick response when additional supports are sought by a school in respect of a particular pupil or pupils.  The exceptional review process is extremely important and needs to respond to the needs of the individual child in a timely manner.

The Cavan and Monaghan TD added: “The Minister in her response to my Parliamentary Question outlined that the allocation of SNA’s in 2021 has enabled the establishment of new special classes, creation of new places in special schools and support for children in mainstream classes for this school year.  

“This significant increase in support is welcome and, of course, further improvements in the whole area of supports for children with special needs will enhance admirably school and learning provision,” concluded Deputy Brendan Smith.

Brendan Smith: EU Digital Covid Certificate to be rolled-out to Irish citizens vaccinated outside the jurisdiction

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan, Brendan Smith has been informed by the Minister for Health that the Government has decided to create a specific portal to enable Irish citizens vaccinated outside of the EU to obtain a Covid certificate valid in Ireland and across the EU.

Deputy Brendan Smith had raised with the Minister the case of some Irish residents living in border areas who have encountered problems while trying to obtain an EU Digital Covid Certificate.

In response to Deputy Brendan Smith’s Parliamentary Question, the Minister for Health stated: “The EU Digital COVID Certificate Regulation (2021/953) allows Member States the option to issue vaccination certificates to EU citizens and family members vaccinated in third countries. Such persons do not have a right to receive a Digital COVID Certificate and it is up to each individual member state to decide if and how to provide such certificates.

“Following the successful rollout of the initial implementation phase of the EU Digital COVID Certificate in Ireland, the Government has decided to create a specific portal to enable Irish citizens vaccinated outside of the EU, with vaccines authorised for use in Ireland, to obtain a COVID certificate valid in Ireland and across the EU.

“This portal is currently being advanced on a cross departmental basis involving technical and process development, and resource management. It is expected that an announcement on the launch of this portal will be made shortly.

“Under the EU regulation persons are entitled to request a Digital COVID Certificate stating they have received a single dose of vaccination in an EU Member State. Such requests can be made through the helpline.”

ENDS

Congratulations and well done to all in the Cavan Vaccination Centre

I saw at first hand, when I was vaccinated, the efficient running and roll-out of the vaccine programme and the commitment of all the staff. A great achievement.

CHO Area 1 (Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan and Sligo) 50,000th COVID-19 vaccine delivered at Cavan Vaccination Centre

Staff at the HSE’s COVID-19 Vaccination Centre at the Hotel Kilmore in Cavan marked their 50,000th administration of a vaccine at the weekend.

The Vaccination Centre has operated in addition to locations such as hospitals, residential care centres and GP surgeries during the roll out.

Aisling Duffy, Operational Site Manager at Cavan CVC said it was a wonderful occasion for all staff involved.

“We were delighted to administer our 50,000th dose of the vaccine here in the Cavan CVC. There has been a fantastic uptake in Co. Cavan. We would like to encourage anyone who hasn’t received either their first or second dose to come to our clinic to receive them. There’s no charge for getting your Covid-19 vaccine. The HSE’s aim in offering vaccines to the population is to protect people and reduce the illness and deaths caused by this virus.”

To get your vaccination at Cavan CVC register at www.hse.ie

Alternatively you can attend walk-in vaccination clinics at Cavan CVC and staff will be happy to help you register

 at the following times:

·       Wednesday September 22nd from 8.30am until 12.30pm

·       Friday September 24th from 1pm to 7pm

·       Saturday September 25th from 8.30am to 12.30pm

·       Sunday September 26th from 8.30am to 12.30pm

Anyone aged 12 years of age or older is entitled to their free vaccine.

Parents or guardians of 12 to 15 year olds can register for their children, as they cannot register themselves.

Those aged 16 years or age or older can register themselves.

Everyone will be offered the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

To register online you will need:

·       A mobile phone number- use your own if registering a child

·       An email address- again use your own if registering a child

·       PPS number of those wishing to be vaccinated

·       Eircode

If you are unable to register online you can register by phone Monday to Friday from 8am to 8pm and on Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 5pm:

Freephone                                                          1800 700 700

Or                                                                         01 240 878

From outside Ireland or the UK on                00 353 1 240 8787

ENDS

Cavan Institute

Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith welcomes the approval by Minister Simon Harris of modular units for Cavan Institute to be located at the former Dún Uí Néill Barracks which is now part of Cavan Institute.  These modular units will replace rented premises. 

“As Cathaoirleach of the first Board of Management of Cavan Institute I was very glad to support the work of the then County Cavan VEC in growing the further education sector locally.

In 2005 Cavan Institute became the first dedicated Post-Leaving Certificate College in the country and the major building complex was provided at Cathedral Road.  This sector has grown in numbers and in importance in ensuring that students can access suitable courses of learning and also enables progression to higher education for many students.

I complimented Anne Marie Lacey, Principal and her staff colleagues in the Institute and also John Kearney, CEO of the ETB and his colleagues in progressing the provision of additional accommodation for the Institute.  I will be glad to continue to support the work of Cavan Institute and in the future we will have further expansion in accommodation”, stated Deputy Brendan Smith.

20/09/2021