Smith pushes for new round of Sports Capital Programme for local sports clubs

GN4_DAT_9148514_1535622766.jpg--sports_clubs_across_donegal_to_benefit_from_sports_capital_programme

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has urged the Minister with responsibility for Sport to commence a new round of the Sports Capital Programme (SCP) for local sports clubs who face significant financial challenges in the months ahead due to the public health emergency.

Deputy Smith commented, “I have made it known to the Minister that a new round of Sports Capital funding is required for clubs nationwide and in Cavan-Monaghan. The unprecedented global pandemic has impacted every element of our communities, including sports clubs.  

“In reply to my parliamentary question, the Department said, ‘Following the finalisation of the appeals process, a full Review of the 2018 round of the SCP was undertaken. This Review is currently under consideration and includes recommendations for some changes to the terms and conditions of the next round of the SCP. I understand that a final decision is expected shortly and a decision on the timing of a new round of the SCP will be taken after that’.  

“The Programme for Government commits to continuing the SCP and will prioritise sports capital investment in areas of historic low levels of participation and deprivation. It is important the review underway is concluded promptly and a new round of the SCP open for applications soon,” concluded Deputy Smith.

PQ 1450620 Brendan Smith

 

Smith presses need for supports to tourism sector in the border region

Cloughoughter-Castle-1280x720

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has again raised the need for further supports for the tourism sector in the border region in view of the challenges and difficulties arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Deputy Smith said, “I welcome the commitment from the Department that the July Jobs Initiative will provide for sector specific supports.  

“While we are encouraging people to stay home and holiday in Ireland many businesses dependent on tourism may not survive this year given the huge drop in international travel and reduction in bookings.

 “Many businesses in the border region are dependent on tourism. The local economy is heavily dependent on employment opportunities in the tourism and hospitality sector.  It is essential that people shop locally and support local enterprise through this economic challenge.

 “I urge the new Minister for Tourism, Catherine Martin TD, to engage with stakeholders locally so the unique views of border region businesses reliant on tourism are properly represented in the recovery plans being prepared in her Department,” concluded Deputy Brendan Smith.

PQ 1454120 Brendan Smith

 

 

Smith encourages public to download HSE COVID Tracker App

 

covid app107574299_1429762997223829_56241591232916062_oFianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has encouraged smartphone owners to download the new HSE COVID Tracker App to their phone.

The App, which was launched this morning, will facilitate digital contact tracing of close contacts of confirmed cases of COVID-19, allows users to record if they have symptoms, and provides daily information about COVID-19 from a trusted source. 

Deputy Smith commented, “Until such a time a vaccine is available, we will be living with coronavirus and the associated risks. In Counties Cavan and Monaghan many families know too well the consequences of this deadly virus. We are still recovering from what I hope will be the worst of the virus, and this new App will play a part in this recovery.

“The tracking app launched this morning is an important step in slowing the transmission of the virus and stopping it in its tracks if the virus began to take off again.

“The introduction of the COVID Tracker App will allow us to speed up reporting and tracing from the first onset of the symptoms of COVID-19, making the app’s role in testing and contact tracing vital to the continued momentum of the reopening of Irish society and business.

“On numerous occasions in Dáil Éireann I raised with Minister Harris the need to develop tracing app systems that would be compatible North and South. I believe further work is essential in this regard. 

“I will be working in tandem with my Party colleague, Minster for Health Stephen Donnelly TD, to ensure he and his Officials are fully aware of the public health needs in Cavan-Monaghan as we continue to beat this virus. I would encourage as many as possible to download and use this application,” concluded Deputy Smith.

 

Urgent need to support Tourism/ Hospitality Sector – Brendan Smith TD

tourism-ireland-welcomes-7-8-growth-in-overseas-visitors

Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith has again repeated his call for urgent government assistance for the tourism/hospitality sector.

In recent Parliamentary Questions the Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD asked the Minister for Finance if he proposed to reduce VAT on this sector in view of the adverse impact of Covid-19 on tourism and hospitality. 

The Minister in his reply to Deputy Brendan Smith stated –

“The Government is fully aware of the unprecedented impact that the coronavirus is having on business and people’s livelihoods. In this regard a range of measures have been introduced to provide income support to those who need it while also giving confidence to employers to retain the link with employees so that when this crisis passes our people can get back to work as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

In addition to current support measures, my officials are examining a range of possible measures to ensure that the economy is in a position to recover rapidly while maintaining a stable tax base”. 

Deputy Brendan Smith stated that the tourism/hospitality sector needs direct financial support and also a reduction in VAT as it is a key employment provider throughout all of the country.

PQ below –

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 30/06/2020
Question Number(s): 71 Question Reference(s): 13525/20
Department: Finance
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION

* To ask the Minister for Finance his plans to reduce VAT on the hospitality and tourism sector in view of the adverse impact of Covid-19 on the sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Brendan Smith T.D.

For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 30 June, 2020.

REPLY

The Government is fully aware of the unprecedented impact that the coronavirus is having on business and people’s livelihoods. In this regard a range of measures have been introduced to provide income support to those who need it while also giving confidence to employers to retain the link with employees so that when this crisis passes our people can get back to work as quickly and seamlessly as possible.  

In addition to current support measures, my officials are examining a range of possible measures to ensure that the economy is in a position to recover rapidly while maintaining a stable tax base. 

3/07/2020

 

 

Government support needed for tourism/hospitality sector – Brendan Smith TD

ireland make a break for it

With the further re-opening of the tourism/hospitality sector it is essential that adequate government support is provided to assist this sector through the many challenges that lie ahead.

Tourism and hospitality are a key provider of jobs in every region of the country.  With limited visitors to our country this year this sector will be very dependent on the domestic tourism market.  Holidays at home will be of the utmost importance to assist this industry to a business recovery.

Below are replies by the Transport, Tourism and Sport Minister to further Parliamentary Questions I tabled in Dáil Éireann –

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 23/06/2020
Question Number(s): 647 Question Reference(s): 12470/20
Department: Transport, Tourism and Sport
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport the specific financial programmes that will be introduced to assist the tourism and hospitality sector through the present difficulties due to Covid-19 and the future challenges in rebuilding such businesses, taking into account the importance of the sector for employment and the economy in each region; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

The Deputy will be aware from the reply to a previous similar PQ 11361/2020 of the financial supports currently available to tourism businesses.
As outlined in the response, Minister Ross and I have appointed a Tourism Recovery Taskforce. The Tourism Recovery Task Force continues to meet on a regular basis.   The taskforce will identify priority aims, key enablers and market opportunities for this vital sector to our economy so that it can adapt and recover in a meaningful and sustainable way for the period 2020-2023.

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 16/06/2020
Question Number(s): 878 Question Reference(s): 11361/20
Department: Transport, Tourism and Sport
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport the specific financial programmes that will be introduced to assist the tourism and hospitality sector through the difficulties due to Covid-19 taking into account the importance of the sector for employment and the economy in each region; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

I am acutely aware that tourism is one of the most directly affected sectors in the current crisis.  The impact of COVID-19 on tourism globally has been overwhelming and immediate with unprecedented consequences for Ireland’s tourism and hospitality sector.  The sector is a significant employer particularly in rural areas.

Many tourism businesses are currently availing the various cross-sectoral economic supports that the Government has already put in place.  Government will continue to explore funding potential for all enterprises including tourism businesses as they work through the challenges facing them, including through any mechanisms allowable through the EU’s state aid framework.

Minister Ross and I have appointed a Tourism Recovery Taskforce to prepare a Tourism Recovery Plan which will include a set of recommendations on how best the Irish tourism sector can adapt and recover in the changed tourism environment as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. The plan will identify priority aims, key enablers and market opportunities for the sector for the period 2020-2023.

It is envisaged that the Taskforce will establish working groups to carry out specific tasks and that the Taskforce will undertake a widespread stakeholder consultation process whereby all sectors and interested parties will have an opportunity to provide constructive inputs and innovative ideas on how this vital sector to our economy can adapt and recover in a meaningful and sustainable way. The Taskforce will report back later this year.

 

Need for orderly resumption of driver theory tests, driving lessons, driving tests and NCT Centres – Brendan Smith TD

driving theorydriving tests

 

Below are replies by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to further Parliamentary Questions I tabled in Dáil Éireann regarding the resumption of driver theory tests, driving lessons, driving tests and NCT Centres.

____________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 23/06/2020
Question Number(s): 726 Question Reference(s): 12497/20
Department: Transport, Tourism and Sport
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport further to Parliamentary Question No. 952 of 3 June 2020, the progress to date in having a resumption of driver lessons and driver tests; if the necessary preparations and systems are in place to enable the commencement of such necessary services; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

It is envisaged that, in line with Phase 3 of the Government Roadmap, driver testing will resume on a phased basis from 29 June. I can confirm that the Department  and the RSA have agreed protocols for the resumption, initially, for trucks, buses and motorcycles , with testing for cars, vans and minibus by Phase 4.  Final dates for service resumption are dependent on continued positive progression of the country against the overall Government roadmap.

The RSA is advising authorised driving instructors, of their plans for resuming services and including the protocols to be observed in testing, with a view to them reopening their businesses on or after 29 June, in accordance with the Government’s acceleration of Phase 3 of the National Return to Work Safely Protocol as developed by NPHET in consultation with national experts.

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 23/06/2020
Question Number(s): 733 Question Reference(s): 12540/20
Department: Transport, Tourism and Sport
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport when it is planned to resume driver theory tests in counties Cavan and Monaghan; the measures in place to date to facilitate the resumption of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

The RSA has been working, in consultation with my Department, on plans for the resumption of the range of services and functions for which it is responsible, following the publication of the Government roadmap and, more recently, the National Return to Work Safety Protocol as agreed by employer and trade union representatives.

Driver Theory Tests resumed on 8 June, on a gradual basis.

While this is an operational matter for the RSA, I understand that Cavan and Monaghan theory test centres are both open and operational and available for testing on selected dates in July. Driver Theory Test Centres generally are not open all the time but rather they open to meet demand against available resources. When a customer goes to book a slot online, they are presented with a range of available dates. The Driver Theory Test provider is closely monitoring the supply and demand situation at present.

All of the resumed services are now subject to appropriate public health protocols.  Services must be booked in advance, and people should follow the required protocols for the sake of their own health and that of others.  Further information is available at www.rsa.ie

The safety of the public is of paramount importance at this time, whether from infection or from deaths and injuries on the road, and in this as in all aspects of the Covid-19 crisis, my Department will be guided by NPHET and national experts.

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 23/06/2020
Question Number(s): 734 Question Reference(s): 12541/20
Department: Transport, Tourism and Sport
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport when NCT centres will reopen in counties Cavan and Monaghan; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

As the Deputy will be aware, on Monday 8 June 2020, in line with the commencement of Phase 2 of the Government’s Roadmap for easing Covid 19 restrictions, the National Car Test (NCT) resumed on a phased basis.

Initially, only centres in urban areas have been opened and testing is by appointment only. This is in an effort to minimize unnecessary travel and limit the spread of Covid-19.

Regarding the reopening of those NCT Test Centres that have yet to resume services, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) is the body responsible for the operation of NCT regime, and, accordingly I have forwarded the Deputy’s question to the RSA for direct reply as it relates to an operational matter.

I would ask the Deputy to contact my office if a response has not been received within ten days.

 

Upgraded and additional accommodation needed at Cavan General Hospital – Brendan Smith TD

CGH imageDail

I highlighted again directly to the Minister for Health in Dáil Éireann the need to progress the provision of additional accommodation and upgraded facilities at Cavan General Hospital.

Below extract from Dáil Debate

Dáil Éireann debate –
Wednesday, 24 Jun 2020

Emergency Bed Capacity: Statements

“Through parliamentary questions and in various health-related debates in this House, I raised with the Minister on several occasions the need to upgrade and extend the emergency department at Cavan General Hospital. For a considerable time there has been a yearly increase in attendance at the hospital, which covers counties Cavan and Monaghan. Patients also attend from parts of Leitrim, Longford and Meath. The inadequate accommodation obviously creates additional pressures for patients and staff. That, in itself, puts additional pressure on the delivery of health services at the hospital. Earlier this month, I was glad to learn from the HSE that the project is now at design stage. I would like if the Minister could confirm to me in writing over the next few days that the project will remain a priority. It is absolutely needed.

Alongside the emergency department development, we need major capital investment at the hospital. In view of the additional accommodation requirements arising from Covid-19, there are now particular pressures on other areas, including outpatient, day and elective cases. The current hospital infrastructure is not adequate to meet the current demands for scheduled and unscheduled care. Substantial work was carried out up to 2015 by a design team on a major capital project for the hospital. I am anxious to have that project move to the next stage. What we have at present are unbearable pressures on clinicians and all their support staff in trying to deliver care. They are working extremely hard in difficult circumstances. To be fair to the Minister, he responded in writing to other queries I raised in this format. I would like him to confirm to me that the project in question will be activated and that it will proceed to the next stage for major capital investment.

The endoscopy unit at Cavan General Hospital, with which the Minister is familiar, has been very busy over recent years, taking patients from outside our catchment area. The unit needs a stand-alone facility nowadays to ensure all the requirements can be met and so people will not be traipsing through the hospital to gain access to it. I would like it if the capital project could be progressed because there are unbearable pressures on accommodation”, concluded Deputy Brendan Smith.

24th June 2020

Tusla reviewing refuge emergency accommodation needs – Brendan Smith TD

Tearmann DVSTusla

Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith has been informed by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, that they are undertaking a review of emergency accommodation provision of services for victims of domestic violence.

“I had raised again with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs through Parliamentary Questions in Dáil Éireann and also with the Minister for Justice the need to establish a refuge for victims of domestic abuse in Cavan and Monaghan. Tusla in their reply to me state that they are undertaking a review of emergency accommodation provision nationally and they have had consultations with stakeholders across the country including in the Cavan/Monaghan region to explore potential options on taking forward the provision of emergency accommodation in this area. Tusla further state that there have been some delays due to covid-19 but they will be completing this review in 2020 which will provide a roadmap for future refuge developments.

Tusla state that their key priority is to ensure that the needs of victims and survivors of domestic, sexual and gender based violence are met in the best way possible with due attention to the quality, accessibility and outcome of services.

It is not acceptable that victims of domestic abuse in Cavan and Monaghan have to travel to Meath, Louth or Sligo for refuge accommodation.

The increase in domestic violence over recent months is a further worrying development and clearly shows the urgent need to provide adequate supports in a timely manner for victims.  We also need to see much needed progress in providing refuge accommodation in areas such as Cavan and Monaghan”, stated Brendan Smith TD.

Reply to Parliamentary Question and also reply from Tusla attached

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 03/06/2020
Question Number(s): 1022 Question Reference(s): 9127/20
Department: Children and Youth Affairs
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs her plans to establish a refuge for victims of domestic abuse in counties Cavan and Monaghan; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

Tusla currently provides support, coordination and funding to almost 60 organisations around the country that deliver front line services to victims of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence (DSGBV). Tusla continues to provide funding to DSGBV service providers during the current pandemic, in line with agreed service arrangements.

With regard to the future provision of additional refuge spaces, it should be noted that the responsibility for capital investment in new refuges falls under the remit of a number of Government bodies. Tusla has been in contact with funded organisations in relation to a Strategic Review of Domestic Violence Accommodation to inform Tusla’s future commissioning of domestic violence emergency accommodation services, and to ensure that the evolving needs of service users are met. Tusla  will carry out further engagements as the year progresses with a view to finalising the review.  Future developments will be informed by the findings of the review and the recommendations of the Monitoring Committee of the National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence.

I have requested Tusla to respond directly to the Deputy with regard to the provision of a refuge in counties Cavan and Monaghan.

9127 20 DV Cavan Monaghan Brendan Smith 10 6 20 SIGNED

Maximum All Ireland co-operation needed on covid-19 – Brendan Smith TD

tracing app

Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith has again called on the Minister for Health to ensure the maximum level of co-operation on an All Ireland basis in dealing with the covid-19 pandemic.

“In Dáil Éireann I appealed to the Minister for Health to ensure the maximum co-operation by the Health Departments, North and South. I instanced the increase in the movement of persons and goods with the gradual re-opening of the economy North and South and the attendant health risks.

I believe that tracing apps should be compatible on all of the island and there is an obvious need for co-operation between the HSE and the Health Service Executive Northern Ireland on this issue.

The Minister for Health in his reply stated that the engagement to date has been very pragmatic and constructive and that the administrations are seeking to adopt similar approaches where it is appropriate to do so on the advice of respective Chief Medical Officers. The Minister further informed me that DG Sante (Health Directorate), DG Connect and other key stakeholders at EU level are leading the way in developing interoperability standards to enable national apps to work in other Member States, to support EU citizens as they travel between countries”, stated Deputy Brendan Smith.

Below replies by the Minister for Health to Parliamentary Questions I tabled in Dáil Éireann –

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 23/06/2020
Question Number(s): 562 Question Reference(s): 12602/20
Department: Health
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 424 of 9 June 2020 and comments by a person (details supplied) in relation to the need to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic issues on an all-Ireland basis, the outcome of recent discussions he has had with members of the Northern Ireland Executive on this important issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Details Supplied) COMMENTS BY DR. GABRIEL SCALLY

REPLY

 

There has been significant engagement between the Ministers for Health, the Chief Medical Officers, and the Departments of Health in Ireland and Northern Ireland throughout this pandemic. There have also been regular ‘Quad’ calls co-chaired the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland with the First Minister and deputy First Minister to discuss the response to COVID-19, which the Ministers of Health for Ireland and Northern Ireland have also attended.

The engagement to date has been very pragmatic and constructive.

The administrations are seeking to adopt similar approaches, where it is appropriate to do so on the advice of respective Chief Medical Officers.

Respective plans for the gradual and controlled easing of restrictions have been discussed given the importance of implementing consistent approaches wherever possible

A Memorandum of Understanding was formally agreed by the Chief Medical Officers of the Department of Health and the Department of Health in Northern Ireland on 7 April to strengthen North South co-operation on the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The MOU focuses on facilitating greater co-operation on areas such as: public health messaging, research, programmes of behavioural change, ethics, evidence base/ modelling, and public health and non-pharmaceutical measures.

All parties recognise that in terms of public health measures in both jurisdictions, that it will be important to maintain strong North/South collaborative arrangements and, wherever possible, consistency of approach.

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 16/06/2020
Question Number(s): 470 Question Reference(s): 10476/20
Department: Health
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Health the discussions there have been with the Minister for Health in Northern Ireland in relation to the development of tracing apps that would be compatible on all of the island of Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

As the Deputy will know a Memorandum of Understanding was formally agreed by the Chief Medical Officers of the Department of Health and the Department of Health in Northern Ireland on Tuesday 7 April. The MOU was entered into on my behalf as Minister for Health and on behalf of the Minister of Health in Northern Ireland to strengthen North South co-operation on the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I have been in ongoing contact with the Minister of Health in Northern Ireland throughout this pandemic in relation to how each health system is implementing various public health responses, including Covid-19 testing and contact tracing. In addition, there has been significant engagement between the CMOs, and officials in both jurisdictions. Both jurisdictions recognise the potential for contact tracing apps to complement manual contact tracing operations and there have been ongoing technical discussions on tracing apps, including examining the issue of interoperability.

Discussions have and will continue to take place on respective plans for the gradual and controlled easing of restrictions, given the importance of implementing consistent approaches, wherever possible. All parties recognise that in terms of public health measures in both jurisdictions, that it will be important to maintain strong North/South collaborative arrangements. The administrations are seeking to adopt similar approaches, where it is appropriate to do so on the advice of respective Chief Medical Officers.

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 16/06/2020
Question Number(s): 517 Question Reference(s): 10414/20
Department: Health
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Health the status of the establishment of voluntary tracing apps arising from Covid-19; the proposals in relation to the working of such apps at EU level; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

As part of the national response to Covid-19, work is underway to develop a national contact tracing app for Ireland that will help the public health service improve the speed and completeness of contact tracing and to map and predict the spread of Covid-19.

Developing contact tracing capability in mobile phones is a non-trivial engineering and public health exercise.

Development of the contact tracing app for Ireland is now complete and validation testing is underway to prove the functionality of the app in real world scenarios. The app will be released when validation testing is complete, and all appropriate approvals are in place. The results of validation testing will inform the go live date.

Apps are also being developed in many EU countries. Each is tailored to meet the needs of the national public health service and specifically the way in which contact tracing operations has been set up to work.

DG Sante, DG Connect and other key stakeholders at EU level are leading the way in developing interoperability standards to enable national apps to work in other members states, to support EU citizens as they travel between countries. Ireland is actively engaged in these activities through its membership of the EU eHealth network, which is acting as the forum for these discussions and agreements. Last week, the eHealth network agreed to pilot a solution for interoperability between members states using ‘decentralised’ contact tracing apps.

 

 

 

Date: 16 June 2020 at 17:47:10 IST
To: Brendan Smith <Brendan.Smith@oireachtas.ie>
Subject: Dáil Q&A Follow up

 

Dear Deputy

Please see below response to query raised with Minister Harris during recent Dáil Q&A session

Q: Need to address the Covid-19 pandemic issues to the greatest possible extent on an all-Ireland basis. Having a memorandum of understanding between the health Departments North and South is welcome, essential and needs to be built upon.  Are more measures required.  With the gradual re-opening of the economy, North and South, impact/risks on border areas such as Cavan-Monaghan

On the island of Ireland, coordination between the two jurisdictions can make a significant contribution to the management of COVID-19. Close cooperation and, where possible, alignment of public health advice and policy decisions can contribute to more effective management and containment of the virus.

In recent weeks, each jurisdiction has published its plan for the unwinding of social distancing measures and it is most welcome that there is significant common ground between the two documents.

There is ongoing, close engagement with the Northern Ireland authorities in a variety of forums, at both political and official level, both on a North-South basis and as part of broader engagement with the United Kingdom.

The engagement to date has been very pragmatic and constructive.  The administrations are seeking to adopt similar approaches, where it is appropriate to do so on the advice of respective Chief Medical Officers.  This close coordination will continue, and intensify, over the coming weeks as we each move to reopen business and society.
Kind regards

Matthew

__
Matthew O’Gorman
Private Secretary
Minister Harris’ Private Office

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 09/06/2020
Question Number(s): 424 Question Reference(s): 10393/20
Department: Health
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Health the measures being implemented on an all-island basis following the agreement on a memorandum of understanding between his Department and the Department of Health in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY
As the Deputy will know, a Memorandum of Understanding was formally agreed by the Chief Medical Officers of the Department of Health and the Department of Health in Northern Ireland on Tuesday 7 April. The MOU was entered into on my behalf as Minister for Health and on behalf of the Minister of Health in Northern Ireland to strengthen North South co-operation on the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The MOU focuses on facilitating greater co-operation and consistency of approach wherever possible on areas such as public health messaging, programmes of behavioural change, evidence base/ modelling and contact tracing.

I have been in ongoing contact with the Minister of Health in Northern Ireland throughout this pandemic in relation to how each health system is implementing various public health responses. In addition, there has been significant engagement between the CMOs, and officials in both jurisdictions.

Calls are held regularly including at a technical level to facilitate information sharing on topics such as modelling, testing and contact tracing approaches, tracing apps and travel measures.

The administrations are seeking to adopt similar approaches, where it is appropriate to do so on the advice of respective Chief Medical Officers. Discussions have and will continue to take place on respective plans for the gradual and controlled easing of restrictions, given the importance of implementing consistent approaches wherever possible. All parties recognise that in terms of public health measures in both jurisdictions, that it will be important to maintain strong North/South collaborative arrangements.

 

 

 

 

 

TOURISM/HOSPITALITY SECTOR NEEDS SUPPORT NOW – BRENDAN SMITH TD

THE BURREN CAVANlough muckno

Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith has again called for government programmes of support for the hospitality/tourism sector.

“Through Parliamentary Questions and in other debates in Dáil Éireann I raised with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and with the Minister for Finance the urgent need to provide adequate financial support for the tourism/hospitality sector. This sector is a major source of employment in areas like Cavan/Monaghan.

For well over 20 years there has been a very welcome and major investment in the tourism product in Cavan/Monaghan. It has enabled a substantial increase in visitors to the area, provides additional attractions and amenities for local residents as well and creates very valuable employment.

The tourism/hospitality sector has been very adversely affected by the covid-19 pandemic and it is clear that it will take a considerable time to grow this business again.

Government support programmes must be put in place without delay and financial assistance needs to be made available to all parts of the industry” stated Brendan Smith TD.

REPLY FROM THE MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT, TOURISM AND SPORT TO A PARLIAMENTARY QUESTION I TABLED IN DÁIL ÉIREANN  –

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 09/06/2020
Question Number(s): 592 Question Reference(s): 10408/20
Department: Transport, Tourism and Sport
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION

To ask the Minister for Transport; Tourism and Sport the outcome of discussions he has had with representatives of the tourism and hospitality sector; the support programmes that will be put in place to assist the sector through the difficulties that have arisen due to the Covid-19 crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY

Minister Ross and I have appointed a Tourism Recovery Taskforce to prepare a Tourism Recovery Plan which will include a set of recommendations on how best the Irish tourism sector can adapt and recover in the changed tourism environment as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. The plan will identify priority aims, key enablers and market opportunities for the sector for the period 2020-2023.

It is envisaged that the Taskforce will establish working groups to carry out specific tasks and that the Taskforce will undertake a widespread stakeholder consultation process whereby all sectors and interested parties will have an opportunity to provide constructive inputs and innovative ideas on how this vital sector to our economy can adapt and recover in a meaningful and sustainable way. The Taskforce will report back later this year.

My Department has liaised with other Government departments and industry representative bodies, to align the economy wide COVID-19 supports and initiatives with tourism and hospitality needs.  The measures put in place by the Government to support businesses initially focused on supporting those who have lost their jobs and in supporting businesses to remain viable during this difficult time with specifically targeted supports to assist companies to stay operational and retain their staff.

As a result, many tourism businesses are now availing the various cross-sectoral economic supports that the Government has already put in place such as; the wage subsidy scheme, increased unemployment benefits, the state credit guarantee scheme, working capital loan schemes, enterprise support schemes and deferrals of tax liabilities, VAT, social contributions and local authority rates.

Government will continue to explore funding potential for all enterprises including tourism businesses as they work through the challenges facing them, including through any mechanisms allowable through the EU’s state aid framework.

Fáilte Ireland has set up a COVID-19 Industry Advisory Group which meets weekly. The purpose of this group is to provide support to the tourism industry and to facilitate the timely sharing of information and insights to help improve the sector’s understanding and response to the crisis. Fáilte Ireland has also developed a COVID-19 Business Support Hub which offers a suite of targeted supports for tourism businesses including a series of webinars from experts in each field, as well as advice guides with detailed FAQs and templates where necessary.

To assist tourism businesses reopening in line with the Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business, Fáilte Ireland has today [Tuesday 9 June 2020] published guidelines for the tourism sector, prepared in consultation with the tourism industry and relevant authorities.  These guidelines are intended to assist tourism businesses meet requirements in line with the Return to Work Safely protocol and based on the latest health advice.