€350,000 FOR CAVAN/MONAGHAN UNDER CREATIVE IRELAND PROGRAMME – Brendan Smith TD

“I welcome the allocation of €350,000 to Cavan and Monaghan County Councils in respect of the Creative Ireland Programme.  Each Council has been awarded €175,161.

This allocation by Ministers Catherine Martin and Darragh O’Brien will enable local authorities to deliver community led creative projects.  Cruinniú na nÓg and Creativity in Older Age will receive specific funding and enable widespread participation in creative activities.

Culture plays an important role in local government’s work in the creation of good places to live and work and councils have extensive expertise across heritage, arts, libraries as well as strong connections with local communities.  This programme is important in enabling local authorities to sustain and develop vibrant creative communities and support local artists across a range of activities”, stated Brendan Smith TD.

Page Break 

Local Authority Funding from Creative Ireland for core funded projects and Cruinniú na nÓg projects 
  
Carlow €175,161 
Cavan €175,161 
Clare €175,161 
Cork  
– Cork City €175,161 
– Cork County €175,161 
Donegal €175,161 
Dublin  
– Dublin City €220,161 
– Dún Laoghaire Rathdown €220,161 
– Fingal €220,161 
– South Dublin €220,161 
Galway  
– Galway City €175,161 
– Galway County €175,161 
Kerry €175,161 
Kildare €175,161 
Kilkenny €175,161 
Laois €175,161 
Leitrim €175,161 
Limerick €175,161 
Longford €175,161 
Louth €175,161 
Mayo €175,161 
Meath €175,161 
Monaghan €175,161 
Offaly €175,161 
Roscommon €175,161 
Sligo €175,161 
Tipperary €175,161 
Waterford €175,161 
Westmeath €175,161 
Wexford €175,161 
Wicklow €175,161 
Creativity in Older Age Fund €500,000 
Creative Communities Economic Action Fund €500,000 

Creative Ireland Local Authority Funding Allocation 2022 

For an overview of Creative Ireland projects in local communities please go to https://www.creativeireland.gov.ie/en/creative-communities/ 

19/01/2022

Brendan Smith: Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme extension a welcome boost for SMEs

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan, Brendan Smith has welcomed the commitment from Government to extend the Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme for small and medium businesses.

Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “I am very pleased to see the extension of this vitally important scheme. It is something I addressed directly with the Minister for Enterprise; Trade and Employment in the Dáil and I also urged him to ensure any and all possible initiatives will be there to support businesses impacted by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

“This scheme will give small and medium businesses a level of certainty that if they need liquidity, they will be able to access low-cost loans, unsecured up to €250,000. This will help businesses react to ongoing developments and take advantage of any opportunities over the coming months.

“The COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme is available through a wide range of lenders including three banks, six non-bank finance providers and 19 credit unions. Unsecured loans of up to €250,000, at reduced interest rates are available to SMEs, primary producers and small mid-caps (companies employing less than 500).”

The Cavan and Monaghan TD added: “To date the Scheme has approved loans to more than 9,000 businesses. This is the most rapid deployment of such a level of lending to businesses in the history of the state, with the Scheme operational since September 2020.

“The continuation of the Scheme for a further six months will provide options for small businesses who need increased liquidity as they move toward a changed but more stable trading environment.”

This extension has been made possible by an extension of the European Commission’s State Aid Temporary Framework, which allows exceptional aid for businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Other financial interventions for the hospitality, events and entertainment sectors includes:

– changes to the CRSS or EWSS

– an extension of the targeted commercial rates waiver at least until the end of March

– an extra €25 million from the Covid contingency fund applied to the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, in particular to assist the live entertainment, arts and performance sectors.

The PUP was also reopened for workers who have lost their jobs as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.

ENDS

NOTES

See attached PQ from Deputy Brendan Smith 

The CCGS was developed specifically in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and was launched in September 2020 to provide access to appropriate finance for SMEs and small mid-caps. The scheme is operating under the Temporary State-Aid Framework which was initially due to expire at the end of December 2020. However, the European Commission has approved the latest extension of the Temporary State-Aid Framework to the end of June 2022. Subsequently, Ireland has availed of this opportunity and extended the CCGS to the end of June 2022.

The €2 billion lending cap was set in 2020 to give confidence to the business community that lending would be available to meet their needs resulting from the impact of COVID-19. It also gave confidence to the market and was set as a ceiling and not a target.

Features of the Covid-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme

The features have been chosen with the objective of maximising the impact of the scheme for borrowers in the short to medium term and addressing their liquidity requirements. The main features are as follows:

  • This is a scheme for SMEs, Primary Producers and small Mid-Caps (defined as businesses with less than 500 employees). SMEs are expected to be the main beneficiaries.
  • In order to qualify for the Scheme, the borrower will have to declare an adverse impact of minimum 15% of actual or projected turnover or profit due to the impact of COVID-19.
  • The amount available under the CCGS is €2 billion.
  • A guarantee rate of 80% for the State with the lenders retaining 20% of the risk of the loan.
  • No portfolio cap for individual lenders.  A portfolio cap has been a feature of previous CGS.  However, the removal of the cap for the CCGS is essential in order to ensure lenders provide an interest rate reduction to borrowers and also comply with the Capital Requirements Regulation. 
  • The current standard facility size of €10k to €1 million under the current Acts will remain for the CCGS.
  • The products covered under the scheme include a broad range of credit facilities including working capital, asset finance and term loan facilities. 
  • The Scheme has been prepared in order to comply with the terms of the European Commission’s Temporary State Aid Framework.  In particular:
  • Primary agricultural, fisheries and aquaculture producers are included.
  • A guarantee premium on each loan under the Scheme is required to be paid in addition to interest rate costs (For SMEs it is 0.25% in the first year, 0.50% in years two and three and 1% in years four, five and six).
  • The scheme will be timebound and will be available until 30 June 2022.
  • The rollover of loans will be facilitated but no loan included in the Scheme can extend beyond 30 June 2028. 
  • The size of the loan is linked to business turnover (25% of 2019 turnover) or wage costs (double annual wage bill in 2019).  The borrower and lender must demonstrate that the loan is compliant with this.

18/01/2022

Death of Charlie Fleming, Ballinagh

The late Charlie Fleming – RIP

“I was very sorry to learn of the death of Charlie Fleming who served as a Fianna Fáil Member of Cavan County Council.

Charlie has been a longstanding close personal friend of mine and great supporter over many years.  He served on Cavan County Council representing the Cavan Electoral Area.  He worked very diligently and in the very best interests of all constituents.

Charlie was a great community man and his work on many local voluntary and sporting groups in the wider Ballinagh area was highly regarded and he devoted much time and energy to this important work. 

I extend my sincere sympathy to Charlie’s wife, Rose, sons, daughters, grandchildren, sister Teresa and extended family.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis. Fear uasal agus cara iontach domsa”, stated Deputy Brendan Smith.

14/01/2022

Brendan Smith welcomes ‘considerable’ improvements to Tenant Purchase Scheme

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan, Brendan Smith has welcomed new changes to the Tenant Purchase Scheme which have been introduced by the Housing Minister and will come into effect from the 1st February.

Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “A very welcome change is the decision to enable pensioners to purchase their own council home.  The level of income tenants will require to be eligible will be reduced from €15,000 to €12,500.  

“Prior to this decision, persons whose principal income is a pension payment were not able to avail of the Tenant Purchase Scheme and I had consistently raised through Parliamentary Questions in Dáil Éireann the need to amend this Scheme.”

The Cavan and Monaghan TD continued: “I have a number of cases throughout the constituency where families have been tenants of council houses for upwards of 30 years or more and were unable to purchase their own home. 

“The Programme for Government commits to maintaining the right of social housing tenants to purchase their own home. The Fianna Fáil party has placed home ownership at the heart of Housing for All, our long-term housing policy to 2030. Minister Darragh O’Brien has also committed to a number of other reforms of the social housing system. 

Deputy Brendan Smith concluded: “These changes will be progressed by amending the Housing (Sale of Local Authority Houses) Regulations 2015.  I know that many individuals and families throughout Cavan and Monaghan will welcome the Minister’s decision to considerably improve the existing Tenants Purchase Scheme.”

ENDS

11/01/2022

Eirgrid need to listen to local communities – Brendan Smith TD

Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith in further Parliamentary Questions to the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications outlined the need to take into account the widespread concerns of communities in counties Cavan, Monaghan and Meath in relation to the proposed North South Interconnector project. He also referred the Minister to the fact that local authorities, reflective of the views of local communities are very strongly of the opinion that undergrounding is the only acceptable way that this project can be delivered.

Minister Eamon Ryan in his reply to the questions posed in Dáil Éireann by Deputy Brendan Smith stated –

“The North-South Interconnector is critical to improving the efficient operation of the all-island Integrated Single Electricity Market and increasing security of electricity supply in Ireland and Northern Ireland. It will also facilitate the achievement of the goal to generate up to 80% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2030. A resilient and well-connected energy infrastructure is vital for Ireland’s economic well-being and the ability to respond to the future needs of energy consumers.

The option of undergrounding the North-South Interconnector has been comprehensively assessed on several occasions. Most recently, the key finding from the International Expert Commission’s report of October 2018 was that an overhead line remains the most appropriate option for this critical electricity infrastructure.

Notwithstanding this, I decided to commission a further short review to assess if the overall finding from the 2018 report remains valid. The terms of reference for this study were published on my Department’s website on 21 April. On 7 May, my Department initiated a procurement process to appoint an independent expert to undertake the review. International consultants were subsequently engaged and their work is well advanced at this stage. I expect the review will be completed shortly.

The system operators, EirGrid and ESB Networks, always seek to work in close collaboration with landowners and stakeholders in the delivery of electricity infrastructure. Both companies are engaging with those living closest to the route of the interconnector. EirGrid has already activated a variety of engagements locally, including the appointment of community liaison officers and a mobile information unit active in the area. I expect such engagements will assist in ensuring that communities are fully engaged in the delivery of the project as consented” stated the Minister for the Environment in his reply to Deputy Brendan Smith.

Below PQ’s in relation to this issue –

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 14/12/2021
Question Number(s): 175,176 Question Reference(s): 62008/21, 62009/21
Department: Environment, Climate and Communications
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
______________________________________________


QUESTION


[Ref No.: 62008/21]

*  To ask the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications the position regarding the review commissioned by his Department in respect of the proposed north-south interconnector project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Brendan Smith.


*    For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 14th December, 2021.

(1262  Received on 9th December, 2021.)

    To ask the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications if the widespread concerns of communities in counties Cavan, Monaghan and Meath are taken into account in decisions regarding the proposed north-south interconnector project; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that local authorities, reflective of the views of local communities are very strongly of the opinion that undergrounding is the only acceptable way that this project can be delivered as outlined in correspondence to his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  – Brendan Smith.  * For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 14th December, 2021.      Ref No: 62009/21 Proof: 184

REPLY


I propose to take Question Nos. 175 and 176 together.

The North-South Interconnector is critical to improving the efficient operation of the all-island Integrated Single Electricity Market and increasing security of electricity supply in Ireland and Northern Ireland. It will also facilitate the achievement of the goal to generate up to 80% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2030. A resilient and well-connected energy infrastructure is vital for Ireland’s economic well-being and the ability to respond to the future needs of energy consumers.

The option of undergrounding the North-South Interconnector has been comprehensively assessed on several occasions. Most recently, the key finding from the International Expert Commission’s report of October 2018 was that an overhead line remains the most appropriate option for this critical electricity infrastructure.

Notwithstanding this, I decided to commission a further short review to assess if the overall finding from the 2018 report remains valid. The terms of reference for this study were published on my Department’s website on 21 April. On 7 May, my Department initiated a procurement process to appoint an independent expert to undertake the review. International consultants were subsequently engaged and their work is well advanced at this stage. I expect the review will be completed shortly.

The system operators, EirGrid and ESB Networks, always seek to work in close collaboration with landowners and stakeholders in the delivery of electricity infrastructure. Both companies are engaging with those living closest to the route of the interconnector. EirGrid has already activated a variety of engagements locally, including the appointment of community liaison officers and a mobile information unit active in the area. I expect such engagements will assist in ensuring that communities are fully engaged in the delivery of the project as consented.

5/01/2022

Community Healthcare Organisation Area 1 (Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan and Sligo)

HSE Encourage Vaccination of Children aged 5-11 years

With a positive uptake in registration numbers for children aged 5-11 years of age for the COVID-19 vaccination, the HSE is encouraging parents to familiarise themselves with the HSE advice issued on the vaccination of children.

Clinical trials showed that this vaccine was highly effective at preventing COVID-19 in children. Though serious illness from COVID-19 is rare in this age group, they are even less likely to become seriously ill with COVID-19, if they are vaccinated.  It may also help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others. This is especially important if children and young people are living with someone who is at risk of severe COVID-19.The children’s vaccine – Comirnarty/Pfizer BioNTech has been recommended by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) and approved by the European Medicines Agency.

The HSE has provided dedicated information for parents on hse.ie, which outlines the benefits and risks of the vaccine, read this here. The HSE has also published a child-friendly comic all about coming to the vaccination centre and how it works, read this here.

Director of Public Health North East, Dr Augustine Pereira said We know from listening to parents that they have questions and concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine. Parents should get their information from a trusted source, such as hse.ie or a medical professional when making the decision to vaccinate their child.

“The vaccine offers protection for children and young people who have health conditions that put them at high risk of severe COVID-19 and protection for healthy children and young people from severe COVID-19 – although this is very rare in this age group. It also offers protection from COVID-19, and complications from COVID-19 such as ‘long COVID’ and Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children. It may also help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to others. This is especially important if children and young people are living with a younger child or an adult who is at risk of severe COVID-19.”

How to Register

The quickest and easiest way to register is online. You will need a Personal Public Service (PPS) number, Eircode, a mobile phone number and an email address. Alternatively, parents can call HSELive on 1800 700 700 to register their child over the phone.

Children who don’t have a PPSN can be vaccinated, their parents can register them on the phone with HSElive.

Once a parent registers their child, they will receive a text message with details of their appointment. The children’s Covid-19 vaccine is only available in the  vaccination centres. 

Getting the vaccine

In line with NIAC guidance, children aged 5 to 11 years old will be offered a Comirnaty (Pfizer/BioNTech) vaccine. The vaccine for children is a smaller dose than the vaccine for adults. They will need two doses approximately 3 weeks apart. The protection they get has been shown to be similar to the protection the Pfizer vaccine provides for adults. 

Parent consent required

A parent or legal guardian will need to give consent for their child to get their COVID-19 vaccine. If a parent registers online, they will be sent a text message with a link to give consent before the appointment for vaccination. This will be sent to the number you used to register.

A parent or legal guardian will need go to the appointment in person to give consent if they:

  • have not given consent online
  • have registered by phone – it is not possible to give consent over the phone

Attending the appointment

This HSE guide for children coming for their vaccine can be read with your child before attending for vaccination.

Getting my COVID-19 vaccine (Comic) (PDF, 1.6 MB, 2 pages)

Most children aged 5 to 11 year olds will be vaccinated at a vaccination centre near their home. They will need to be accompanied by an adult.Children attending alone will not be vaccinated.

Where possible, the child’s parent or legal guardian should attend the vaccination appointment with their child. If the parent or legal guardian has given consent online in advance, it is possible for them to ask another adult to bring their child to the appointment. If consent has not been given yet, the child’s parent or legal guardian has to be there.

If the appointment time does not suit, parents can change the appointment by calling HSELive on 1800 700 700. Parents of children with additional needs who might need an alternative appointment at a quieter time, and parents who wish to make appointments for more than 1 child at the same time can also contact HSELive.

Appointments have been spaced out to keep everybody safe. People are asked to arrive on time for their appointment but not more than 5 minutes before.

For more information see COVID-19 vaccination for children.

ENDS

10th January 2022

HSE Media Statement

Fianna Fáil Leader and Taoiseach Micheál Martin names membership of the first of a series of internal party policy committees

Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin TD has confirmed the membership of the first of a series of internal policy development committees he is establishing as part of the Party’s renewal programme.

Announcing the membership of a new Northern Ireland and Good Friday Agreement Committee, Mr Martin commented, “Over the coming week I will be confirming the establishment and membership of a series of internal policy committees as a key part of our Fianna Fáil Renewal programme.  As a Party, we have committed to fuller participation in policy development and the establishment of these committees is the important next step forward.  I am grateful to my colleagues in the Parliamentary Party for their time and commitment to this process and look forward to the publication and further discussion of their work later this year.”

The Northern Ireland and Good Friday Agreement Committee will be chaired by Party Chairman Brendan Smith TD and will be comprised of the following Senators and TDs:

Senator Niall Blaney

Senator Erin McGreehan

Cathal Crowe TD

Senator Lisa Chambers

Senator Ned O’Sullivan

Senator Robbie Gallagher

Paul McAuliffe TD

6/01/2022

Belturbet included in Government’s Rural Regeneration Development Fund

Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith welcomes the inclusion of Belturbet in the Government’s Rural Regeneration Development Fund which will greatly assist the further development of enterprise and tourism in the town. This project at an overall cost of €263,700 will assist in attracting more visitors to the area and address the issue of vacant buildings.


This funding is a key part of this Government’s rural regeneration programme where there is a clear commitment to bring much needed additional economic activity to towns such as Belturbet.


This funding will enable the preparation of plans for the development of a multi purpose digital enterprise and tourism hub and for the further development of the heritage railway visitor attraction.

€330,760 has been approved in respect of the continued restoration of the Workhouse site in Carrickmacross which will deliver a community hub. €732,262 under this Rural Development Programme will develop plans for the further expansion of Lough Egish Food Park and the provision of necessary infrastructure.

I compliment Cavan County Council and Monaghan County Council on submitting these successful applications and having in place the necessary financial resources to draw down this major government grant aid.

These projects, among other welcome developments, over the past 18 months clearly show this government’s commitment to rural regeneration and investment in our rural communities.


The Anglo-Celt Northern Sound FM North

6/01/2022

Brendan Smith encourages those looking for a career change to visit The Right Course

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan and Monaghan, Brendan Smith is encouraging people looking to change careers or take on something new to visit The Right Course for education and training options.

Deputy Brendan Smith commented, “The Right Course is a very good one-stop shop for businesses, employees or unemployed persons and outlines the third level options available to them. This can be a short part-time course, a course for an individual in employment or an option to return to third level.

“Launched in January last year, the level of interest in The Right Course has been highlighted by the fact that it is the most viewed non-Covid campaign on Gov.ie this year.”

The one-stop shop outlines the further education and training places and the courses in higher education on offer, and information for those on a social welfare payment.

Business owners are also encouraged to explore the range of upskilling options available from Skillnet Ireland including enterprise-led business supports, targeted upskilling opportunities for employees in businesses, free online training programmes and virtual job placements.

Almost 500,000 people visited the site over the year.

Visit www.gov.ie/therightcourse for more information on upskilling or reskilling opportunities.

ENDS

Smith reiterates again the need to increase income eligibility limits for social housing in Cavan and Monaghan

I raised again with the Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, TD, the need to increase income eligibility limits for social housing. At present such income limits for areas like Cavan and Monaghan are totally unrealistic and need to be increased.

Below reply from Minister Darragh O’Brien to my most recent Parliamentary Questions tabled in Dáil Éireann –

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 16/12/2021
Question Number(s): 342 Question Reference(s): 62782/21
Department: Housing, Local Government and Heritage
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
______________________________________________


QUESTION


To ask the Minister for Housing; Local Government and Heritage when the income eligibility limits for social housing will be increased in areas such as counties Cavan and Monaghan in which the existing limits are totally inadequate; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

REPLY


Applications for social housing support are assessed by the relevant local authority, in accordance with the eligibility and need criteria set down in section 20 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and the associated Social Housing Assessment Regulations 2011 (as amended).

The Regulations prescribe maximum net income limits for each local authority, in different bands according to the area concerned, with income being defined and assessed according to a standard Household Means Policy.

The income bands and the authority area assigned to each band were based on an assessment of the income needed to provide for a household’s basic needs, plus a comparative analysis of the local rental cost of housing accommodation across the country. The limits also reflected a blanket increase of €5,000 prior to the new system being introduced in 2011, broadening the base from which social housing tenants are drawn, promoting sustainable communities, and also providing a degree of future-proofing.

Given the cost to the State of providing social housing, it is considered prudent and fair to direct resources to those most in need support. The current income eligibility requirements generally achieve this, providing a fair and equitable system for identifying households facing the greatest challenge in meeting their accommodation needs from their own resources.

That said, Housing for All – A New Housing Plan for Ireland was published in September 2021 and, among other things, commits to a review of income eligibility for social housing. The review is underway and is examining the efficiency of the banding model while also having regard to new initiatives being brought forward on affordability and Cost Rental. The review is due to be completed before the end of the year.

16/12/2021