About Brendan Smith

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan Monaghan, Chairman of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party. Co-Chair British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, Executive Member North/South Inter-Parliamentary Association, Member Oireachtas Committee on Implementation of Good Friday Agreement

St Anne’s NS Bailieborough get Initial Project Approval – Brendan Smith TD

The Department of Education have now issued the initial project approval to St. Anne’s National School Bailieborough in respect of the provision of 6 mainstream classrooms, 1 Special Education Teaching Room and 3 Special Education Needs Room.

I welcome this approval by Minister Norma Foley – TD and I compliment the Principal, Paul Corcoran and his staff, the Board of Management and the Parents’ Association on their work in bringing this project to this stage.

Brendan Smith TD

Initial project approval (5 of 5)
County:Cavan
School Name:Bailieboro N.S (St Annes)
Roll Number:18059J
Programme List:Additional School Accommodation Scheme
Project Type:Extension
Delivery Mechanism:Devolved
Project Brief:6 X Mainstream classrooms, 1 SET room, 3 SEN base
1/07/2022

Brendan Smith: Proposed UK government changes to parts of NI protocol ‘absolutely ludicrous’

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan, Brendan Smith has described proposed British government changes to parts of the NI protocol as “absolutely ludicrous”.

Deputy Brendan Smith, speaking in Dáil Eireann with Taoiseach Micheál Martin on the matter, commented, “The agrifood sector has grown on a cross-Border and All-Ireland basis. It is essential that the other member states of the European Union continue to support the Government in protecting that sector. 

“It will be very vulnerable, should the British Government’s decision to tear up parts of the protocol be implemented. It is absolutely ludicrous for the British Government to come up with the idea of two regulatory regimes for food; it is not viable. Who would certify the transfer of milk from Northern Ireland to southern processing units? A food chain, in the context of processing, cannot be broken.”

In response, Taoiseach, Micheál Martin stated: “Deputy Smith is correct about what is transpiring in respect of the decision that has been made on the dual regulatory framework. All of those involved in industry, manufacturing, the dairy industry and agrifood are saying this loud and clear. It is a form of economic illiteracy from the perspective of Northern Ireland that one would create such a dual regulatory framework because it does not allow for full traceability and it creates challenges for those exporting commodities. 

“This has been pointed out to me by the interests concerned and I have pointed this out. Manufacturing in Northern Ireland is saying it has had the best time under the protocol. That needs to be said.”

ENDS

Brendan Smith welcomes Cavan and Monaghan refuge commitment as part of Zero Tolerance strategy to tackle domestic, sexual and gender-based violence 

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan, Brendan Smith has welcomed a renewed commitment from the Government for the delivery of refuge spaces for Cavan/Monaghan as part of its Zero Tolerance strategy to tackle domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.

Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “I have been pushing for a refuge centre for Cavan and Monaghan for some time now and I am pleased to see this commitment from Government, which includes Cavan/Monaghan in a plan for 98 new refuge spaces.”

The Cavan and Monaghan TD added: “I will continue to highlight the need to establish, without delay, a Refuge Centre in Cavan/Monaghan for victims of domestic abuse. It is so important that progress is made in all these areas.

“Project management and capacity building supports are being made available under the strategy throughout 2022 and 2023 to progress these refuges.”

Speaking at the launch, Taoiseach, Micheál Martin stated: “The launch of the third Domestic Sexual Gender-Based Violence strategy is an incredibly important moment for our country. It signals the Government’s determination to affirm and protect some of our most vulnerable people. It will accomplish this through a comprehensive set of actions reaching across Government, spearheaded by a dedicated new Agency with oversight from the Department of the Taoiseach.

“Its ambitions extend to many parts of our society from education, to healthcare, and into our workplaces to name a few. Every sector has a part to play in calling out and taking action against DSGBV so that, once and for all, we reject the outmoded beliefs on which it rests.”

The €363 million Zero Tolerance strategy is built on four pillars – Protection, Prevention, Prosecution and Policy Co-ordination – and the accompanying implementation plan contains 144 detailed actions to be implemented this year and next through new oversight structures. This will ensure that everything that is promised in the plan is delivered according to the clear timelines that have been set out.

Its central aim is Zero Tolerance of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence in our society.

The actions are drawn from across Government departments and State agencies to reflect the fact that Zero Tolerance can only be achieved through a whole of society effort, and that domestic, sexual and gender-based violence cannot be treated as a criminal justice issue alone.

The Zero Tolerance strategy also seeks to clearly identify children and young people as both witnesses and victims and survivors. 

The strategy was approved by Cabinet and launched by Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee and Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Roderic O’Gorman.

An implementation plan, as also approved by the Government for the first 18 months was published by the Minister, with annual action plans to follow for every subsequent year of the lifetime of the Zero Tolerance strategy.

ENDS

Brendan Smith welcomes major reforms of CE, Tus and Rural Social scheme

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan, Brendan Smith has welcomed major reforms to the CE, Tus and Rural Social scheme, announced this week.

Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “I am delighted to see these schemes undergoing significant reform. These schemes provide vital local services such as childcare, meals on wheels, the maintenance and upkeep of local amenities and other vital work in our communities.

“These are welcome changes which have been under consideration for a long time and I welcome this Government’s commitment in implementing these good improvements both for the participants and the schemes.”

“The purpose of CE and Tús is to provide long term unemployed participants with work experience in their local communities to help them find employment.

“There are currently over 19,000 participants on CE, almost 5,000 participants on Tús and just under 3,000 participants on the Rural Social Scheme. Government investment in the three schemes will amount to over €500million in 2022.”

The Cavan and Monaghan TD added: “Also today, the application process for the ex-gratia payment for CÉ Supervisors and Assistant Supervisors is being opened. This ex-gratia payment will benefit around 2,500 people at a total cost of over €24 million.”

Changes to CÉ, Tus and RSS

Government has approved the following changes:

·       Removal of the six-year time limit for all participants on the Rural Social Scheme.

·       Eligibility for Tús extended to persons in receipt of Disability Payments

·       New flexibility to allow CE schemes to directly recruit eligible candidates to fill 30% of places.

·       Intreo to significantly increase the number of referrals to CE with schemes required to offer places to at least 60% of candidates referred.

·       New Pilot Scheme to extend eligibility to Qualified Adults to be explored

·       Continue to allow schemes to extend individual placements and retain existing participants in cases where no replacement candidate has been selected. This means that local services should not be impacted due to an inability to replace participants.

These measures are in addition to previous changes introduced earlier this year which allow participants on CE and RSS who are aged over 60 to remain on schemes until retirement. 

Ex-gratia payment to CE supervisor and assistant supervisors

The CE Ex-Gratia Payment which was agreed in December 2021 by the Department of Social Protection and the unions, SIPTU and Fórsa, representing CE supervisors and CE assistant supervisors. It will benefit approximately 2,500 people employed by CE schemes at  a total cost of over €24 million.  On reaching retirement age, eligible CE supervisors and CE assistant supervisors will receive a once off payment in respect of time employed by CE schemes.  Around 700 persons who have retired since 2008 will be able to apply for payment from this scheme, straight away. From this week, the Department is issuing letters to this first group of beneficiaries, inviting applications for payment.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Community Employment (CE) and Tús are active labour market programmes designed to provide eligible long-term unemployed people and other disadvantaged people with an opportunity to engage in useful work within their communities on a temporary, fixed term basis.

The Rural Social Scheme (RSS) is an income support scheme that provides part-time employment opportunities for farmers and fishermen and women in receipt of specified social welfare payments, and who are underemployed in their primary occupation.

RSS is specifically designed and delivered to certain qualified people of working age whose income falls below certain limits. The valuable work undertaken by participants draws on their existing skills which may be further developed and shared throughout their participation.

The types of work CE, Tus and RSS participants are involved in include local amenities management, environmental projects, arts and culture, sports, childcare, Tidy Towns, health-related services, meals on wheels and drug rehabilitation schemes.

CE Ex-gratia payment

This payment settles a Labour Court recommendation on pensions in respect of CE supervisors and assistant supervisors.

The ex-gratia Payment, which was agreed in December 2021 by the Department of Social Protection and the unions, SIPTU and Fórsa, representing CE supervisors and CE assistant supervisors. It will benefit approximately 2,500 people employed by CE schemes.  It has a total cost of over €24 million.  On reaching retirement age, eligible CE supervisors and CE assistant supervisors will receive a once off CE Ex-Gratia payment in respect of time employed by CE schemes.

The CE Ex-Gratia Payment will be calculated based on actual time worked, with periods of time spent in part-time employment calculated on a pro-rata basis.  For CE supervisors and CE assistant supervisors who qualify, this  payment will be based on the salary scale point when the CE employment ceased. The payment is subject to a cap of €600 per week for a maximum of 2 weeks per year.  The qualifying period for the CE Ex-Gratia Payment is from 1st July 2008 to the 31st December 2023.

Department of Social Protection officials are currently communicating in writing with CE supervisors and CE assistant supervisors who may have an immediate entitlement to the scheme inviting them to apply for this payment and to those who retired since 2008.

Cavan Bus Station to re-open on Friday, 1st July

I welcome confirmation from Bus Éireann that the bus station in Cavan will re-open this Friday.

Bus Éireann have carried out the necessary preparatory work and they state that the Café will be re-opening and also the indoor toilet facilities for customers.

This is a welcome development for people using public transport in Cavan and also passengers travelling through Cavan to other destinations.

This also follows on from the recent reopening of Monaghan Bus Station which has been widely welcomed locally’ stated Brendan Smith TD.

Email from Bus Éireann

Dear Deputy

I am pleased to inform you that on Friday, 1 July, Bus Éireann will commence the reopening of Cavan bus station for our customers. The station will now be open seven days a week from 8.00am to 7.00pm.

As you will be aware, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the station was closed in 2020. In recent months, we have been preparing for the reopening of the station and have been engaging with the previous operator of the on-site cafe, with a view to reopening facilities for customers. I am happy to confirm that the cafe will also be reopening to allow customers to grab some food or a drink while waiting for their bus.

The station has been deep cleaned and indoor toilet facilities will be open for customers. Security staff will also be on-site seven days a week.

On-site works will be ongoing in the coming weeks, weather permitting, to give the bus station a fresh coat of paint for all of our customers in County Cavan.

We appreciate the patience and understanding that local representatives and our customers in County Cavan have shown in recent years, and we look forward to welcoming customers on-board Bus Éireann services from Cavan bus station in the future. 

We would advise customers intending to travel from Cavan bus station on Expressway services to book in advance on expressway.ie. By booking online, customers enjoy priority boarding and peace of mind knowing that they have secured their seat for scheduled services. Customers who have booked in advance on Expressway services will also be informed by email in advance of any cancellations to their selected service.

We would encourage any customers who have issues with our services or with Cavan bus station to contact customercare@buseireann.ie or call 0818 836611 between 7.00am and 7.00pm Monday to Friday and between 8.00am and 6.00pm on weekends and public holidays.

I am happy to be able to share this information with you and I hope this has been of some assistance.

Kind regards

Brendan Smith welcomes conclusion of review of income eligibility limits for social housing

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan, Brendan Smith has welcomed a response from Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien that a review of income eligibility limits for social housing has been concluded and the Minister is now considering its findings with a decision due shortly on any proposed changes and recommendations.

Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “I have called for the income eligibility limits for local authority housing in areas such as counties Cavan and Monaghan to be increased without further delay.

“At present the income limits are totally unrealistic and many people who do not have an income high enough to obtain a mortgage through a financial institution are still above the income limit for Council housing. Those people are in a very difficult position in relation to housing. The Minister has replied to me that a decision on proposed changes will be made shortly”.

The Minister for Housing, in reply to the Cavan and Monaghan TD’s Parliamentary Question in Dáil Éireann, stated: “Housing for All – A New Housing Plan for Ireland was published in September 2021 and, as part of a broad suite of social housing reforms, committed to reviewing income eligibility for social housing.

“The review, which examined, inter alia, the efficiency of the current banding model and income limits applicable to local authorities, has been completed. I am currently considering its findings and expect to decide on proposed changes and recommendations shortly.”

Brendan Smith: Increased engagement by Central Bank and Dept of Finance essential to aid customers switching from Ulster Bank and KBC

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan, Brendan Smith has called for increased engagement with Ulster Bank and KBC by the Central Bank and Dept of Finance and has pushed for an extended timeframe to help customers switch to other banks before both exit the Irish market.

Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “I have, through constant engagement with the Minister for Finance and the Taoiseach, urged increased engagement with the two banks in question and all stakeholders caught up in this exit from the Irish banking market.

“There are many customers experiencing difficulties transferring accounts from the two banks to other retail banks and need more time and contact to help them through this process.”

The Cavan and Monaghan TD has received an update from the Minister for Finance that the Central Bank intends to meet again with the CEOs on 28 June 2022 for a further update on progress of the migration of customer accounts.

The Minister for Finance added, in response to Deputy Smith’s questions: “My officials and I will continue to monitor the migration of current accounts from the exiting banks and engage with relevant stakeholders, both public and private, as I have been doing over recent months. With the objective of ensuring that impacted customers face the least amount of disruption in migrating their accounts over the coming months.”

ENDS

Brendan Smith urges immediate intervention to maintain crucial local doctor on call service levels

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan, Brendan Smith has urged the HSE and Minister for Health to intervene to ensure the continuance of existing service levels for the North East Doctor On Call (NEDOC), following a recent proposal of reduced cover.

Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “I urge the HSE and Minister for Health to intervene and ensure that current cover and service levels for NEDOC are maintained. This medical service provides vital healthcare for so many in the North East. I ask them to give urgent consideration to the concerns outlined by the organisation in relation to the delivery of healthcare.

“According to a proposal from the co-operative, from Tuesday 4th August the NEDOC service will implement a reconfigured service providing urgent GP Out of Hours care to patients on a face-to-face basis until 10.30pm weekday evenings and 10pm at weekends, and thereafter patients will have access to GP telephone advice only.”

The Cavan and Monaghan TD added: “The necessary financial resources are needed without delay to maintain existing service levels.”

In response, Minister Donnelly stated: “The HSE have sought an urgent meeting with the cooperative’s board to discuss the proposed reduction in services. 

“GPs contracted under the General Medical Services Scheme are required by their contract to make suitable arrangements to enable contact to be made with them, or a locum or deputy, for emergencies outside of normal practice hours. While there is no obligation on GPs to participate in GP out of hours co-operatives as a means of meeting the contractual requirement, most GPs do so as such services facilitate the provision of GP services outside of normal surgery hours and help to spread the burden of this provision.

“The GP out of hours cooperative concerned has informed the HSE of its intention to reconfigure its GP out-of-hours service from August, with no availability of late night in-person GP consultations. The HSE has also been informed of the cooperative’s concerns regarding the delivery of healthcare in the area.”

ENDS

Brendan Smith welcomes approval of General Scheme of the Health (Exemption for Children from Public In-Patient Charges) Bill 2022

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan, Brendan Smith, has welcomed Government approval for the General Scheme of the Health (Exemption for Children from Public In-Patient Charges) Bill 2022.

The Bill proposes to abolish both overnight and day case public in-patient charges for children, by removing the existing acute statutory in-patient charge of €80 per night for all children less than 16 years of age in all public hospitals.

Following publication of the new legislation, Deputy Brendan Smith commented: “I am delighted to see Government approval to publish the General Scheme of this important Bill.

“Better access, together with affordability and improved quality are Fianna Fáil’s top three priorities in healthcare. This legislation, when enacted, will ease the financial burden of parents/guardians when bringing their child to hospital for in-patient care, helping to ensure that cost is not a significant consideration for families when children require access to in-patient treatment.”

The General Scheme will now be referred to the Office of the Attorney General for priority drafting of the Bill. The text of the Bill will be finalised as a matter of urgency, and it is intended to progress the legislation through the Houses of the Oireachtas as a priority in the coming weeks.

The General Scheme will be published on the Department of Health’s website.

ENDS

21/06/2022

Monaghan CVC to hold 3 Pop Up Clinics this week

Monaghan CVC will be holding 3 pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Ballybay, Monaghan Primary Care Centre, St Davnet’s and Smithboro this week.

The first clinic will be held in Ballybay Health Centre, Main St, Ballybay on Wednesday 22rd June from 2pm to 5pm.

It will administer:

  • Dose 1, 2 and booster vaccines for those aged 12 years and over
  • Dose 1, 2 and first and second booster vaccines for those who are 65 and over.

Walk in’s welcome

The second pop up clinic will be held at Monaghan Primary Care Centre, St Davnet’s Campus, Monaghan, H18 DE78 on Friday June 24th.

It will administer:

  • Dose 1, 2 and booster vaccines for those 12 years and over from 10.30am to 2pm.
  • People aged over 65 years can avail of their second booster between 10.30am and 2pm.
  • Dose 1 and 2 for those aged 5-11 years from 3pm-4pm. Please note those aged 5-15 years of age must be accompanied by a parent/guardian.

Walk in’s welcome.

The third clinic will be held in Smithboro Health Centre, Mulladuff, Smithboro, Co. Monaghan on Saturday 25th June from 12 noon to 2pm.

It will provide vaccines for:

  • Dose 1, Dose 2 and booster vaccines for those aged 12 and over
  • Dose 1, 2 and first and second booster vaccines for those who are 65 and over.

Walk in’s welcome.

Please note 5 – 15 year olds must be accompanied by parent/guardian at all vaccination clinics.

Operational Site Manager at Monaghan CVC Paula Loughran said:

“We strongly encourage anyone who is eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine to avail of it as soon as they can. COVID-19 cases have been rising in recent weeks and getting vaccinated is the best protection against  COVID-19, especially for those aged 65 years and over and those who have a weak immune system. As we approach the next stage of our vaccination programme, there are still many ways for people to get their vaccine and we would urge anyone who has yet to get their vaccine or their booster to do so either at a walk-in clinic or by booking an appointment online.”

ENDS

20/06/2022