Need to tackle online abuse – Brendan Smith TD

online abuse

Online safety is an issue that needs to be prioritised due to the increasing incidence of online abuse.

I believe the Minister must have the legislation, Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill, enacted at the earliest possible date.

Below reply by the Minister to a recent Parliamentary Question –

______________________________________________
For Written Answer on : 30/07/2020
Question Number(s): 162 Question Reference(s): 20511/20
Department: Communications, Climate Action and Environment
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION

[Ref No.: 20511/20]

*  To ask the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment the time frame for the introduction and enactment of the online safety and media regulation Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. – Brendan Smith.

*    For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 30th July, 2020.

(1464  Received on 7th July, 2020.)

REPLY

The General Scheme of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill was approved by Government on 9 January 2020 and subsequently published on 10 January 2020. At that time the Government also approved the detailed drafting of the proposed Bill by the Office of the Attorney General and forwarded the General Scheme to the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Communications, Climate Action and Environment for pre-legislative scrutiny. Due to the dissolution of the Dáil and Committees in January, pre-legislative scrutiny has not yet commenced. Engagement with the AGO is continuing on the detailed drafting of the Bill.

The enactment of the proposed Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill is a commitment in the Programme for Government. At present, responsibility for the proposed Bill is being transferred to the Minister for Media, Tourism, Arts, Culture, Sport and the Gaeltacht.

When this transfer of functions is complete, Government approval will be sought for the finalisation of General Scheme of the proposed Bill through the addition to the provisions relating to the funding of the Media Commission and the regulation of audiovisual media services. These additional provisions will then be forwarded to the Office of the Attorney General for addition as a basis for detailed drafting and to the relevant Joint Oireachtas Committee for pre-legislative scrutiny. It is for the relevant newly formed Committee to determine whether and when to commence such scrutiny.

At this time, the finalised General Scheme will also be notified to the European Commission for a technical conformity assessment with relevant EU law regarding regulations on online services.

The proposed Bill will establish a multi-person Media Commission, including an Online Safety Commissioner, dissolve the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, establish regulatory frameworks for online safety and the regulation of audiovisual media services, and transpose the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive.

The regulatory framework for online safety will be overseen by the Online Safety Commissioner. The Commissioner will have the power to designate online services for regulation and to create and enforce binding online safety codes. These will seek to minimise the availability of harmful online content through oversight of the systems that online services used to deliver and moderate content. The regulator will have the power to sanction non-compliant online services.

 

Pandemic recognises no boundaries

regions

Unfortunately there has been an increase in Covid cases recently throughout our island.

Through Parliamentary Questions and in other Dáil Debates I have I constantly emphasised the importance of an All-Ireland approach in dealing with this pandemic which recognises no boundaries.

Below is a reply by the Minister for Health to a recent Dáil Question I tabled.

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For Written Answer on : 30/07/2020
Question Number(s): 1289 Question Reference(s): 20445/20
Department: Health
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
______________________________________________

QUESTION

* To ask the Minister for Health if additional measures will be introduced on an all Ireland basis to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

– Brendan Smith T.D.

For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 30 July, 2020.

REPLY

There has been ongoing and regular contact at Ministerial level with Northern Ireland throughout this pandemic in relation to how each health system is implementing various public health responses.

A Memorandum of Understanding was formally agreed between the respective health services in April. 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.

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.

In recent weeks, there has been regular engagement at official level  to discuss our policy approaches to international travel and to foster a mutual understanding of our positions on passenger locator forms and on public health advice and requirements for incoming passengers.

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.

The North South Ministerial Council of 31 July will provide a further opportunity and platform for the discussion of these issues.

Enterprise Centre funding for the regions can be a lifeline for the border region – Smith

enterprise

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has welcomed the launch of a new €12 million Enterprise Centre Fund to help enterprise centres impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Deputy Smith commented, “I welcome the €12m fund from the Department of Enterprise, Business and Innovation to support Enterprise Centres. I am pleased to see this fund is targeted toward the regions. I believe there is no region in need of support more than the border region, given the pandemic and the looming threat of a no deal Brexit.   

“Through Enterprise Ireland I would strongly encourage our Enterprise Centres, and those across the border region, to apply for this funding. Both not for profit and for profit centres are eligible to apply. The role Enterprise Centres provide to our businesses is paramount. This responsibility is all the more important as we begin our economic recovery from the coronavirus.  

“Up to €150k is being made available for Enterprise Centres. Applications can be made now. The closing date for applications is September 30th,” concluded Deputy Smith.  

 

 

Violence toward peaceful protestors in Belarus disturbing – Smith

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Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith says the violence toward peaceful protestors and the media censorship in Belarus must be pursued by the European Union and condemned in the strongest possible terms.  

Deputy Smith said, “The scenes we have witnessed in Belarus following their Presidential Election this past Sunday are disturbing. The right to protest peacefully is something we should never take for granted.  

“I welcome the comments from the Minister for Foreign Affairs that our Government is monitoring the situation and described the scenes as “of deep concern”.  

“The citizens of Belarus deserve to have their say in a fair and transparent democratic process. The European Union, along with international colleagues, should continue to use every means possible to pursue a democratic, transparent and thriving Belarus,” concluded Deputy Smith.  

 

 

Major Building Project approved for Virginia College – Brendan Smith TD

Virginia College

Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith has welcomed the decision by the Minister for Education to approve the major building project for Virginia College. 

“This multi-storey development is excellent news for the Virginia College catchment area. The additional classroom facilities will meet the increasing enrolment.  I compliment John Kearney CEO of Cavan Monaghan ETB and his colleagues on progressing this successful application to this stage.

I know of the great commitment of the College Principal, Niall Lynch and his staff colleagues, to the development of the school.

There has been a major expansion of accommodation at this College over the years and it places a pivotal roll in school provision in East Cavan. I was glad to support the ETB in the applications for new and upgraded facilities at the school and having served as Chair of the Board of Management I was always conscious of the need to provide adequate accommodation for a school with increasing attendance”, stated Deputy Brendan Smith.

 

 

 

Smith welcomes Beef Finishers Payment to compensate beef farmers due to losses from COVID-19

Fianna Fáil TD for Cavan-Monaghan Brendan Smith has welcomed the announcement of the Beef Finishers Payment.   

The scheme is an Exchequer funded programme of €50 million to provide income support for up to 42,000 farmers with beef finishing enterprises, who have been impacted by the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.  

Deputy Smith said, “No one needs reminding of just how difficult this year has been for beef farmers. COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on the sector. The introduction of this new payment is very welcome for beef farmers across Counties Cavan, Monaghan and nationwide.  

“Farmers with finished animals suffered from both reduced prices and other restrictions in getting animals to market. The closure of the hospitality sector impacted greatly on beef farmers. While this sector slowly reopens it is imperative the government support farmers. The scheme introduced by Minister Calleary is an important action in providing this support.  

“The scheme is targeted to farmers who were impacted from 1 February to 12 June 2020. Not only will this scheme support beef farmers, it will have a wider positive impact on the local economies of which the agri-sector plays an important role.  

“The scheme opens for applications on August 19th with the closing date September 9th. I would urge everyone to apply as soon as the scheme opens,” concluded Deputy Smith.   

Minister for Agriculture Dara Calleary T.D. announces details of €50 million Beef Finisher Payment Scheme

“This is a significant support for up to 42,000  farmers impacted by the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic”

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Dara Calleary T.D., today announced details of the Beef Finishers Payment (BFP), an Exchequer funded scheme of €50 million to provide income support for up to 42,000 farmers with beef finishing enterprises, who have been impacted by the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Minister Calleary stated “I am fully aware of the difficulties caused by Covid-19 in the Irish beef sector and the consequences for those in beef farming and for the rural economy as a whole. Farmers with finished animals suffered from both reduced prices and other restrictions in getting animals to market. The closure of the food service market in Ireland, the UK and beyond has had a dramatic impact on the industry and in particular those who supply it to make their living.”

Minister Calleary commented “This targeted support for farmers who finished cattle during the period from 1 February to 12 June 2020 will help to mitigate the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic for those farmers and provide a valuable additional income support this year. Beef farming is an important economic activity, with a significant multiplier effect in local rural communities, and thus is more important than ever in sustaining these communities as we work towards economic recovery.”

This measure is targeted at farmers who finished animals and comes on top of a significant increase in targeted environmental and welfare supports for suckler production earlier this year, in the form of the BEEP-Sucklers scheme.

Minister Calleary noted that though the scheme will be funded by the Irish exchequer, details of the scheme have been notified to the European Commission  in accordance with the Covid-19 Temporary State Aid Framework. 

An estimated 42,000 farmers will be eligible to apply for the scheme, which will be based on the number of cattle sent for slaughter in the period from 1 February to 12 June 2020, subject to a limit of 100 animals per herd.  Based on estimates of eligible animals, a rate in the region of €100 per animal will be payable.

In the event of an over subscription, the rate of payment per animal will be subject to a linear cut in order to comply with the available budget of €50 million.

The opening date for applications will be 19 August 2020 and the closing date will be  9 September 2020.  Detail of the measure including terms and conditions and how to apply will be made available in due course at www.agriculture.gov.ie/farmerschemesandpayments/BFP 

Applications will be made online through the agfood.ie portal.

Funding to improve Homes of Older People and People with a Disability in Cavan and Monaghan most welcome – Brendan Smith TD

Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith welcomes the allocation of €1,508,230 to Cavan County Council and €1,277,475 to Monaghan County Council from the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government,  Darragh O’Brien TD, for Housing Adaptations Grants for Older People and People with a Disability.

“These grants are extremely important for families and individuals who need to carry out adaptation works in their home or particular refurbishment works. The grant scheme is only available to older persons and to people with disabilities.

The grants are 80% funded from the exchequer by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government with 20% funding from the local authority.  The grants also create employment opportunities for builders and local businesses and help reduce the dependency on our health services by supporting independent living for as long as possible”, stated Deputy Brendan Smith.

HSE Web Portal on Disability Day Services now live


Minister for Disability Anne Rabbitte TD today (Tuesday) welcomed the publication of a HSE web portal providing details of when disability day services will reopen. The portal provides information on the services opening in each CHO by location and details the number of service users that will use the location on a daily basis.

The Minister said “The web portal is now live and represents another milestone reached along the path to resuming day services for people with a disability. This has been one of my key priorities since taking office a month ago and I’m glad progress has been made with getting services open as soon as is safely possible.

“Some service users have been frustrated by not knowing when they would be returning so I am pleased that there will now be greater certainty for people with disabilities and their families around when their day service will resume.

“The majority of services will be opening during August and early September. I want to thank the HSE and disability service providers for gathering this data for the web portal, which will be updated as more information becomes available.”

The web portal is now available at www.hse.ie/newdirections.

Funding approved under the enhanced Town and Village Renewal Scheme – Brendan Smith TD

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Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil TD Brendan Smith welcomes funding approved which is part of the government’s July stimulus package.

“This first tranche of funding announced under the enhanced Town and Village Renewal Scheme recognises the need to support rural businesses and communities to rebuild in response to COVID-19.  I compliment the local community groups on their initiative in seeking these grants which will support their important work”, stated Deputy Brendan Smith.

 
Cavan Cootehill Marketing strategy and development of web portal to enable online selling in Cootehill  
Cavan Killeshandra Health and safety improvements at Community Centre, Loop Walk Enhancements, seating and footpath cleaning  
Cavan Kilnaleck Install canopy on Astro turf sports facility for sports, social and cultural events  
Cavan Swanlinbar Creation of outdoor area for community hub including BBQ area and bike rentals to improve tourist offering  
Cavan 5 4 €106,713.00

 

Total  
Monaghan Ballybay Provision of outdoor seating and an Age Friendly Business Promotion campaign  
Monaghan Carrickmacross Provision of Band stand canopy, seating and picnic benches adjacent to Civic Office, and an Age Friendly business promotion  
Monaghan Castleblayney Provision of Public information digital notice board, walking trails map, public seating and picnic benches in Lough Muckno Park and Mindszenty Park, and an Age Friendly business promotion  
Monaghan Clones Provision of outdoor seating within Clones town centre, along with an Age Friendly business promotion  
Monaghan Monaghan Town Large screen for town centre events, pop-up canopies, seating (mobile), green space set up at Courthouse Square and Town centre marketing promotion activity  
Monaghan 5 5 €137,320.00