Category Archives: Uncategorized

Delays to TAMS payments frustrating farmers across Cavan and Monaghan – Smith

– Almost 650 applications approved but only 81 approved for payment –

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has said that he is appalled at delays farmers in Cavan and Monaghan are experiencing in receiving their Targeted Agricultural Modernisation Scheme (TAMS) II payment.

At the moment, there are 642 farmers across the two counties awaiting payment despite being approved by the Department of Agriculture.

“Farmers right across the county are very angry at the inexcusable delays in issuing TAMS payments.  A total of 976 farmers in Cavan and Monaghan applied for the scheme, with 723 being approved. However, by the 11th September, just 81 had been approved for payment”, explained Deputy Smith.

“The delay in TAMS payments is representative of wider problems within the Departments payments system. These delays are also being experienced by farmers who have applied to the GLAS scheme.

“These massive IT problems within the Department have led to significant frustration among farmers who had applied for funds – ultimately leading them to abandon their applications altogether.

“Fianna Fáil has recently exposed how 92% of TAMS 2 funding (€389m) remains unspent at the midway point of the Rural Development Programme 2014-20. This is a shocking state of affairs.

“Farmers are stressed out wondering when they will get their payments.  Many of them are under serious financial strain, urgently needing these payments to ensure that bills are paid”, concluded Deputy Smith.

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TENDER STAGE A WELCOME DEVELOPMENT FOR HOLY FAMILY SCHOOL – BRENDAN SMITH T.D.

Brendan Smith T.D. has welcomed the confirmation he has received from the Department of Education and Skills that Stage 2(b) planning and design for the Holy Family School building project has been approved which now enables the tender process to commence.

“I welcome this development and I have asked the Minister and the Department to ensure that no further delays occur and that construction stage be reached as quickly as possible. There is an urgent need to provide modern and permanent accommodation with up to date facilities for this school which provides an excellent service to so many children throughout Cavan and Monaghan.

I had renewed my appeal again to the Minister for Education and Skills through Parliamentary Questions in Dáil Éireann last week to have the final documentation approved in respect of this major building project which would enable the tendering process to commence and allow construction to get underway.

Minister Bruton in his reply to my Parliamentary Question stated that on the finalisation of the assessment of suitably qualified contractors and Stage 2(b) documentation, his Department would then revert to the school with a time frame to proceed to tender and construction stage.

I am hopeful that, at last, this project will proceed to construction stage without further delay and I compliment the Principal and her staff colleagues, successive Boards of Management and Parents’ Associations on their work in trying to move this project forward. There is an urgent need to have proper and modern accommodation provided for this school, which provides excellent services for children from all over Cavan/Monaghan”.

 

Additional resources for Addiction Services

Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith has been informed by the HSE that funding has been approved for the further development of Addiction Services for Cavan/Monaghan.

The HSE were replying to Deputy Brendan Smith following Parliamentary Questions he tabled in Dáil Éireann regarding the need to provide additional resources in the area of Drug Awareness and Prevention Schemes.

The HSE in their reply stated –

The HSE Area 1 has received notification from the HSE National Social Inclusion Unit on the approval of funding for the further development of Addiction Services for the counties Cavan and Monaghan. The HSE has commenced the recruitment for these posts.

“These services need to be enhanced and increased due to the widespread problems associated with addiction. Over the past number of years with the increasing number of people with addiction problems and the knock on negative effects on individuals, families and the community this is an area of great concern and needs adequate resources to try and counteract these serious problems”, stated Deputy Brendan Smith.

 

 

Government should introduce School Transport Guarantee

This move would ensure no child loses their place.

The Government should introduce a new guarantee to ensure no child loses their place on board a school bus if they had been allocated a concessionary seat in either Junior Infants or First Year of secondary school.

Each year I am contacted by parents who have found out only days before school is set to return that their child no longer has a seat on their school bus. This causes significant hardship for families as they have to try and arrange alternative transport at short notice. I believe the Government needs to put in place a better system which doesn’t cause this unnecessary hassle for families.

Administrative Nightmare

If a school bus place is allocated when a child first starts school, even on a concessionary basis, it should be guaranteed for future years. No child or parent should have to go through the ridiculous annual ordeal of waiting to hear whether or not they have retained their place on the school bus.

The Government can put an end to this administrative nightmare once and for all by introducing a guarantee ensuring that children cannot lose a school bus place once one has been allocated to them.

Common Sense

This is a common sense proposal which would reduce the burden on families, while at the same time, alleviating the mountain of bureaucracy that is involved in the allocation of places on school transport each Summer.  Many parents make decisions as to what school to send their child based on bus availability.  It’s unfair to pull the rug from under families who have made decisions based on the information available to them.

School transport use should be encouraged by the Government. It can do this by introducing a guarantee and providing certainty for parents that the school bus will be available for their children as they progress through school.

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Hundreds of children waiting for more than a year for OT appointments

Waiting lists in Cavan-Monaghan soar by 232% in two year period

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has called on the HSE to intervene to address rocketing waiting lists for Occupational Therapy appointments.

According to the latest figures released to Fianna Fáil, there are 379 children between the ages of 5 and 18 in the North West region who are waiting over a year for a first assessment with an OT. That’s up from 114 in August 2015 – or a rise of 232%. 376 of these children are in the Cavan-Monaghan area.

Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “Occupational therapy is an essential service to help people living with an injury or disability to go about their everyday lives, giving them independence and enabling them to adapt situations to suit their needs.

“Occupational therapists work in both hospital and community settings and the service is especially important for young people to enable them to do day to day activities. It’s particularly important for children with conditions such as cerebral palsy, dyspraxia and spina bifida. To have them subjected to such lengthy delays for assessment is extremely worrying and could have implications for their treatment plan.

“The dramatic rise in the number of children on the waiting list is shocking and these figures must act as a wake-up call for HSE bosses and the Minister for Health in realising the gravity of the situation. It is imperative that these waiting lists are made a priority in the 2018 HSE Service Plan,” concluded Deputy Brendan Smith.

North-South Interconnector decision is most disappointing

“If this project is to proceed, then the transmission cables should be undergrounded as the technology is available and the cost differential between overgrounding and undergrounding has been dramatically reduced in recent years”, said Deputy Smith.

“It is now time for the Government to act on the Fianna Fáil motions, passed in Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann, which called for the lines to be placed underground. This is also the overwhelming view of the affected communities in Cavan, Monaghan and Meath.

“I have outlined clearly on numerous occasions that such transmission cables if placed overground would have many adverse and negative effects on tourism, heritage, farming, family and community life. It will not be acceptable to local communities for Eirgrid to show total disregard for their views”, concluded Brendan Smith.

Brexit is a wanton act of vandalism against the Good Friday Agreement

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It should come as no shock to anyone following the Brexit vote that the British government’s position paper on Northern Ireland and Ireland is both short on specifics and demonstrates what little understanding that Tory Ministers have of the recent history of Northern Ireland and the peace process.

The document opens with a none too subtle misreading of the Good Friday Agreement, specifically on the principle of consent, that underpins many of the erroneous presumptions of the latter sections.

The Good Friday Agreement clearly states that the two Governments recognise:

“…that it is for the people of the island of Ireland alone, by agreement between the two parts respectively and without external impediment, to exercise their right of self-determination on the basis of consent, freely and concurrently given, North and South, to bring about a united Ireland, if that is their wish, accepting that this right must be achieved and exercised with and subject to the agreement and consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland”

The wording here is precise and was hard negotiated and reflects the complex nature of relationships North and South.

It is deeply disappointing therefore to see Section 6 of the British government position paper attempt to restate the principle of consent as just one sided, crudely stating:

“…that Northern Ireland’s constitutional status is a matter for the people of Northern Ireland alone to determine.”

The word “alone” is a lazy and incompetent misreading of one of the key underpinnings of the Good Friday Agreement and should not be allowed stand unchallenged in an official UK government position paper. It is also ironic for this British government to belabour this point in a paper which justifies taking Northern Ireland out of the EU against the freely expressed will of the majority of voters there.

Since the Brexit result we have heard Prime Minister May, Northern Secretary Brokenshire, and other British Ministers talk about their commitment to the Common Travel Area and their desire to see as smooth and frictionless a border as possible.

It is, as Guy Verhofstadt has stated, a fantasy to pretend that there can be a free and frictionless border between the two parts of this island while the Westminster Government remains intent on pulling Britain out of the Customs Union.

The British position paper on Ireland should be read alongside the previous one on customs and trade. The two are linked, indeed the sequenced publication of the papers suggests that one is contingent on the other.

This, effectively, makes Northern Ireland  a bargaining chip in the UK’s negotiations with the EU27. The British government is saying: “give us what we want on customs and trade or we will make you re-impose the border”. All in the guise of pretending that they are opposed to it. It is shameful.

While the Irish government has an obligation to mitigate the hugely negative impact that a British exit from the Customs Union will have on the border region, it cannot be expected to assist the British government in undermining the Good Friday Agreement and turning the clock on community relations back three or four decades.

Customs posts, be they real or virtual, are unacceptable.

There is no such thing as a technological solution to a political problem.

I do not want any form of border across this island.  If Teresa May, David Davis, Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and Michael Gove really want a Border, then they will to run it down the middle of the Irish Sea.

Brexit is a wanton act of vandalism against the Good Friday Agreement and an affront to the majority of voters in Northern Ireland, especially younger voters, who opposed Brexit and want to retain their relationship with the EU.

I believe that the Irish Government should now publicly reserve the right to vote against any Withdrawal Treaty that attempts to reinstate even the slightest hint of a border, or that disrupts services and trade across this island.

While we do not have a veto on the Withdrawal Treaty, as it is decided by a qualified majority of the EU-27, we will have a veto on any comprehensive EU-UK Treaty on the New Arrangements post-Brexit.

This is not the kind of action that any Irish government would wish to pursue against a friendly neighbour, but Mrs May’s confusion and recklessness is not intended to be friendly. She is leaving us with no option – the peace and progress made on this island was too hard won to be allowed to suffer at the hands of the Tory party’s political incompetence.