This is an extremely welcome development for Co. Cavan and indeed for the border region.
The purchase of this additional block consisting of 1,000 hectares of upland habitat by the National Parks and Wildlife Service will add considerably to the Geopark which is such an important part of Ireland’s tourism product.
I wish to acknowledge the very strong support off An Tánaiste, Micheál Martin TD for this project from the very first time I spoke to him about its potential.
At this week’s meeting of the British–Irish Parliamentary Assembly I raised directly with the Minister of State for Northern Ireland Steve Baker MP the need for the British government to give access to an independent, eminent, international legal person access to all papers and files pertaining to the Dublin/Monaghan bombings of 17th May 1974.
Unanimous motions were passed by Dáil Éireann in 2008, 2011 and 2016 requesting such access and I emphasised again to British government representatives that it is essential that proper and full investigations are carried out into such atrocities as the Dublin/Monaghan bombings and the least the victims and families of victims deserve is the truth in relation to who carried out such murders.
UK Northern Ireland Minister Steve Baker and Irish Junior Finance Minister Jennifer Carroll MacNeill with both address the 64th plenary of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly (BIPA).
Lawmakers at the assembly will also hear from Jersey’s Chief Minister Kristina Moore, Economic Development Minister Kirsten Morel and Environment Minister Jonathan Renouf.
The two-day convention which will bring together politicians from legislatures across the islands of Britain and Ireland, and the Crown Dependencies, will take place 15-16 May in St Helier, Jersey.
BIPA holds bi-annual plenary meetings to improve mutual understanding of British and Irish perspectives, devolved nation and Crown Dependency, and to discuss and find consensus on matters of mutual interest. Much of the Assembly’s work between plenary sessions is conducted through four Committees which are representatives of all the Legislatures.
British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly Members engage in a wide range of parliamentary activities through plenary meetings and ongoing Committee work. Plenaries alternate between Britain and Ireland. The Assembly’s four standing committees meet regularly and examine matters of common concern dealing with sovereign matters
Speaking ahead of the event, Irish Co-Chair of BIPA Deputy Brendan Smith T.D. said: “We welcome the opportunity to hold a BIPA Plenary meeting in Jersey for the first time. Strand three of the Good Friday Agreement was never intended to focus solely on the relationship between Dublin and London but to embrace the totality of relationships. Ensuring continued East-West communication is a key part of Ireland’s bilateral relationship with the United Kingdom after Brexit and it is important that we deepen our engagement with the Crown Dependencies such as Jersey.”
British BIPA Co-Chair Karen Bradley M.P. said, “It’s a real pleasure to be here in Jersey at the invitation of the Chief Minister to welcome my BIPA friends and colleagues. We are long overdue to convene at the home of one of our Crown Dependency members. Their constructive contributions over the years have never been overlooked, but being in Jersey helps to recalibrate our thinking and internalise that this body is bigger than Britain and Ireland. Our deliberations will continue our mission to consolidate the relationship not only between our islands, but between them and the Crown Dependencies too.”
Notes to editors
Please note, this event will not be live streamed.
Limited spaces are available for members of the press to attend. If you wish to attend, please register your attendance with Tim West at email@example.com by 5pm Saturday 13 May.
BIPA will endeavour to provide audio recordings and transcripts of the keynote speakers.
Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith has welcomed confirmation from the HSE, following his ongoing representations, that Day Services in Cavan Town will resume imminently.
“Social Day Services will resume next week (24th May) and the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Specific Day Services have also resumed. I welcome the return of services to the Day Care Centre which is adjacent to the John Sullivan Centre. This follows on from the completion of upgrading works by the HSE. Essential repairs were carried out to the roof and also a full upgrade of the interior of the building.
I know that such services are highly valued by our older citizens with a wide range of social activities and is an important social and recreational outlet for many people. I extend best wishes to all who attend and all those delivering these valuable services”, stated Brendan Smith TD.
Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith has said it is “unacceptable” that the British Government has not responded to the Irish parliament’s “legitimate and unanimous” requests for an independent legal expert to be given access to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings files.
The Cavan-Monaghan TD again raised the matter in the Dáil ahead of the 49th anniversary of the bombings which killed 33 people and badly injured hundreds of people.
Deputy Smith said: “That day, 17 May 1974, was the darkest day of all during the era known as the Troubles when unfortunately, there were many bad days on this island with so much loss of life and suffering.
“Very regrettably nobody has been brought to justice for those heinous crimes.”
TDs unanimously passed motions in 2008, 2011, and 2016 calling on the British Government to give an independent international legal expert access to the files.
“The non-response of the British Government to the legitimate and unanimous requests of a neighbouring sovereign jurisdiction is simply unacceptable,” Deputy Smith told the Dáil.
“We all know the possibility of getting prosecutions is extremely limited but the least the families deserve is the truth about who carried out those atrocities.
Deputy Smith urged the Taoiseach to raise this “very important” matter with the British Prime Minister and other British Government members.
“Legacy issues must be dealt with and no amnesty should ever be provided for perpetrators of despicable crimes as proposed by the British Government through its recent legislation,” Deputy Smith added.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, in response, informed Deputy Smith he had raised the issue of legacy and the Irish Government’s “opposition to the British Government’s proposals” during a meeting with the British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in Belfast two weeks ago.
“I met him briefly over the weekend but did not have the chance to talk to him in depth but I will certainly continue to press the case against the legacy Bill,” Mr Varadkar said.
“The next time we have a chance to meet, I will specifically raise the issue of the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.”
Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith welcomes the decision of Norma Foley TD, Minister for Education to allocate €0.6 million and €0.5 million to Cavan and Monaghan schools under Minor Works Scheme.
This funding provides for basic improvement works and the purchase of equipment for 2023/24 school year.
Local Fianna Fáil TD, Brendan Smith, has raised the issue of additional funding for local roads across Cavan and Monaghan with Tánaiste Micheál Martin.
Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Smith said that there has been a welcome and much-needed increase in Government funding for the non-national road network in the last few years but unfortunately inflation has eaten into the available resources.
He said, “The costs of bituminous overlay pavement products, concrete and aggregates, the main products used in roadworks, have risen dramatically.
“I would like assurance that in the mid-year review of the 2023 capital programme, priority will be given to a further allocation to local authorities of grant aid for regional, county and local roads. The councils in my constituency, Cavan and Monaghan county councils, have the capacity to put such funding to good use in the best interests of rural communities.”
In response, Tánaiste Micheál Martin said that there was an increase this year in capital funding but agreed that much of that has been absorbed by inflation in the cost of materials in construction more generally.
He said, “The total allocated this year for regional and local roads is approximately €626 million, €46 million of which is current expenditure and €580 million of which is capital, compared to €597 million overall in 2022.”
The Tánaiste concluded by saying, “We take on board what the Deputy said about mid-term reviews and to examine what we can do this year regarding different stages of capital being deployed and whether we can deploy more capital for it this year.”
Along with Sentor Erin McGreehan delighted to discuss with U.S. Special Envoy to Northern Ireland for Economic Affairs, Joe Kennedy opportunities to win more U.S. investment bringing benefits to all communities in Northern Ireland.
Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fail TD Brendan Smith welcomed the increased funding provided by Minister Daragh O’Brien for House Adaptation Grants for 2023 and €2.9 Million will be available for Cavan/Monaghan for these important grant schemes.
Minister O’Brien has allocated €1.241 Million to Cavan County Council and the local authority will contribute €310,396.
€1.049 Million has been allocated to Monaghan County Council and the local authority contribution is €262.495.
“This increased funding is very important in assisting older people and people with a disability to carry out necessary home improvements and enables in many instances substantial improvements in housing conditions. These schemes support persons living independently in their own home for as long as possible and helps to reduce the demand on health service provision as well”, stated Deputy Brendan Smith.