Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil T.D. Brendan Smith has received confirmation from Chief Executive IDA Ireland that the IDA Cavan Business and Technology Park at Killygarry and County Council lands in Virginia are being considered as potential sites for the location of a large scale Data Centre.
“Earlier this year through Parliamentary Questions in Dáil Éireann and in meetings with the Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation Minister I had specifically requested that Co. Cavan be considered in a study then being commissioned by IDA Ireland to identify potential strategic land banks for the sustainable development of large scale Data Centres.
The Minister at that time undertook to convey my proposal directly to IDA Ireland. I am glad that in recent correspondence from IDA Ireland the CEO has confirmed to me that the IDA is currently evaluating a number of property solutions throughout the country and Cavan and Virginia sites are included”, stated Brendan Smith T.D.
The IDA Ireland CEO replied as follows;
In relation to your query, IDA Ireland is working with key stakeholders nationally to identify and evaluate property & infrastructural solutions that will meet the stringent needs of data centre investors, particularly around the areas of accessibility, planning, power and telecommunications infrastructure. IDA, through our consultants, is currently evaluating a number of property solutions in each of the 8 regional locations. IDA has engaged with Cavan County Council as part of this process. The IDA Cavan Business & Technology Park and the lands in Virginia in the ownership of Cavan County Council has been incorporated into the continuing evaluation process. Regional business development is of core focus for IDA and in respect of this national data centre evaluation, it will focus on key investments in the likes of power generation, supply, national & international connectivity, amongst other items, that make Ireland’s regions competitive for data centre investments.
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Brendan Smith TD, has condemned the latest settlement plans by Israel to claim almost 1,000 acres near Bethlehem in the West Bank.
Deputy Smith believes the latest move will serve to undermine the recently declared fragile peace between Israel and Palestine.
“The latest actions by the Israeli Government threaten the peace which was recently agreed between Israel and Hamas and will only further escalate already heightened tensions in the region. Not only is this move ill-advised in the circumstances, it is also contrary to international law. These actions will further undermine the possibility of a two state solution in the Middle East.
“These actions are totally unacceptable. It is time for the EU to send a clear message to Israel that we will not tolerate further settlement advancement. The often promised labelling requirements both at EU and at national level for products from Israeli settlement areas and other sanctions against these goods must be implemented across the Union now.”
Government Failing to Engage in Seeking Solution to Northern Talks – FF
20th Anniversary of IRA Ceasefire should act as Impetus for Progress
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Brendan Smith TD has stated that the Government has failed to fully engage in seeking to find a solution to the current impasse since the unsuccessful end of the Haass Talks in Northern Ireland at the end of last year. The Government must take a “hands on” approach if this process is to be brought to a successful conclusion. The Irish and British Governments as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement have an obligation to ensure the successful implementation of the commitments of that internationally binding Agreement.
Deputy Smith stated: “This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of the announcement of the IRA ceasefire. This week, we recalled the great leadership shown by the late Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds and the risks he was willing to take to achieve peace when in Office.”
“It is time for this Government to refocus its efforts in the North and push for further progress in completing the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement and finally agreeing the Haass proposals”.
“There is an opportunity now to complete the work that was begun by Dr Richard Haass and Professor Megan Greene in finalising proposals to deal with the very important matters of parades, flags, identity issues and the past. The Government needs to take a more proactive approach to Northern Ireland. Since this Government took office we have seen a continuous drift in meaningful engagement between the Northern Executive, the British Government and the Government here. Put simply, it appears the North has not been a priority for this Government”.
“As I have mentioned on numerous occasions, any time we have made substantial progress on North-South development, the agenda was driven by the two Governments. That commitment and work gave us the Downing Street Declaration, the Good Friday Agreement and the St. Andrews Agreement. I genuinely believe that without the active and leading role being played by both Governments, we will not see the kind of progress that needs to be made for the sake of all of the people on this island”.
“There are other important issues within the remit of the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive that need to be progressed without further delay and political parties holding executive office have to represent the interests of all the community and not just their own political base. Unfortunately we have witnessed missed opportunities due to political posturing and the two major parties in the Assembly, the DUP and Sinn Féin, must honour their responsibilities”.
“The full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement will bring additional benefits to all the people of this island and there is an onus on both Governments and the Northern Executive to maximise the potential of further North/South development and also Irish/British relations. The political progress since 1994 must act as a catalyst for further political economic and social development on the island of Ireland”, concluded Deputy Brendan Smith.
Note: This statement was issued on August 30th 2014.
Decisive action needed at EU emergency meeting – Smith
Minister Charlie Flanagan should spell out Irish policy position on key crises to avoid repeat of UN abstention mess
Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Brendan Smith TD has welcomed the decision to hold an extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council this Friday. The meeting will discuss the escalating situations in Ukraine and Iraq.
Deputy Smith commented, “For too long the European Union has sat back while the crises in Ukraine, Gaza and Iraq intensified. We have seen an appalling humanitarian disaster unfold on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq, yet as a union we have been slow to respond to this emergency. I welcome the Government’s announcement today of additional funding for aid agencies on the ground, but what we really need to see is a comprehensive EU approach that deals with both the humanitarian crisis and the political instability. Over the past number of weeks, Fianna Fáil has repeatedly called for the international community to respond and deal comprehensively with these crises.
Speaking about the situation in Ukraine, Deputy Smith said, “I’m very concerned about the increased tension and political rhetoric from both Russian and Ukrainian elements. The latest stand-off concerning a Russian convoy apparently carrying aid, bound for East Ukraine has the potential to further destabilise the region. One of the proposals I would like to see discussed by EU Ministers on Friday is the possibility of an international role being taken in relation to humanitarian aid.
“There was shock and surprise when the Government decided to abstain from a vote to establish a UN inquiry into violence in Gaza. I believe to avoid confusion and questions over Ireland’s position on international matters of concern that the Government should clearly set out what Irish policy is on these issues and what we hope to achieve with our European colleagues this week. We should be taking a more proactive role in helping to shape the decisions made by the EU, and I would urge Minister Flanagan to explain his proposals in advance and take a more hands on approach to our engagement in these discussions”.
Fianna Fáil calls for Government to demand urgent EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting to discuss Gaza-Israel crisis
Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Brendan Smith TD is calling on the Government to seek a special meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council to discuss the ongoing crisis in the Middle East. The EU’s lack of intervention, as well as its abstention from a UN resolution to establish a commission of inquiry into human rights violations in Gaza and condemning Israel for potential violations of international law, has angered many people in Ireland.
Deputy Smith commented, “I am calling on Minister Charlie Flanagan to seek an urgent meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council to address the escalating humanitarian disaster in Gaza. The Israeli ground invasion has entered its fourth week. More than 1,800 Palestinians and over 60 Israelis have been killed in the violence. Images of badly injured women and children have dominated our TV screens for the past month demonstrating so clearly the scale of the situation.
“All loss of life must be condemned in the strongest possible terms, but the bombing of UN schools and designated shelters by the Israeli military is intolerable. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the latest attack on a school in Rafah as a “moral outrage and a criminal act”.
“The EU cannot be allowed to continue with its hands-off approach and must be spurred into action. How many more lives will have been lost before the Foreign Affairs Council meets again? How many more innocent civilians must suffer before the EU and the international community can be forced into action? Measures must be taken to stop the bloodshed.
“EU Ministers must change their approach and demand a ceasefire in the region to allow for meaningful talks to take place. Violence solves nothing, discussions and mediated negotiations are our only hope of a resolution to this decades old conflict. The current wave of aggression must be stopped and the EU, led by Ireland if necessary, should impose sanctions on goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements. The EU needs to take a tougher, but united stance and prove that indiscriminate killings and maimings are not acceptable. It needs to go further than it has to date, and I am urging the Government here to play its part and seek a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council at the earliest possible date”.
On Thursday last (March 6th) I once again raised the important issue of the Undocumented Irish in the United States. I stressed how important it is that we keep up the pressure for progress on this issue and urged the government to use the St Patrick’s Day celebrations and our access to the White House and Capitol during that time to press the case for the more than 50,000 undocumented Irish and ensure that 2014 is the year of immigration reform in the USA
Brendan Smith TD
Dáil debates Thursday, 6 March 2014
Topical Issue Debate : Undocumented Irish in the USA
Brendan Smith (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fáil): I am glad to be given the opportunity to raise this very important issue at this time. In June 2013, the US Senate passed the most monumental overhaul of US immigration laws in a generation which would clear the way for millions of undocumented residents to have a chance at citizenship, attract workers from all over the world and devote unprecedented resources for security along the US-Mexico border. The vote was 68 to 32, which was a very sizeable margin of victory, with 14 Republicans crossing the aisle to vote with all Democrats in favour of the legislation. That vote puts the onus of immigration reform on the Republican-led House, where leaders have unfortunately been resistant to the Senate legislation.
House Speaker Boehner has refused to bring the Senate Bill to the floor or even go to conference with the Senate. He has stated that reform of the immigration laws will be a priority in 2014 for the House and indicated to USA Today in December 2013 that immigration is next on the agenda, once the Senate passes a bipartisan budget deal for the next two years. Unfortunately, the comments from House Speaker Boehner on 6 February express doubts about progress on this legislation.
The Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, ILIR, is still fighting for the estimated 50,000 undocumented Irish in the immigration debate. The lobby was set up in December 2005 and it has since held several immigration rallies throughout the United States, along with high profile lobby days in Congress to advocate for our undocumented Irish workers. Irish-Americans from across the US will be out in force in the American capital next Wednesday, 12 March, lobbying for immigration reform during a rally organised by the ILIR. This is specifically aimed at Republican members of the House not in favour of reforming US immigration laws.
It is interesting to note that prior to 1965, the Irish could immigrate to the US freely, with approximately 17,000 doing so on an annual basis. As the House knows, the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are important in celebrating and consolidating links with the United States, and we have been offered that opportunity over many decades. It is also an opportunity to raise the issue of the undocumented Irish at the highest levels of influence in Washington DC. I am glad I have been given the opportunity to raise this issue to establish what progress has been made on advancing the cause of the undocumented Irish in the US. I would like the Minister of State to reassure us this evening that every ministerial visit to the United States would have this on the agenda with different interest groups, members of the US Administration and members in Congress. We must advocate the need to progress the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Bill, as it is critical for so many individuals. There are probably more than 50,000 people and their families affected.
Minister of State Alex White: I thank the Deputy for raising this issue, which I am taking on behalf of my colleague, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Gilmore. Immigration reform in the US is an issue to which the Government accords very high priority. We are very conscious of the difficulties experienced by Irish citizens who are undocumented in the United States, and the Tánaiste has met and spoken to many of them during his working visits there, and also with the various groups who lobby on their behalf.
The Tánaiste has maintained contact, both directly and through our embassy in Washington DC, with many key players in Congress who are influential in steering the process of US immigration reform. Over the past six months, both he and embassy officials have had direct contact with some 70 members of the House of Representatives and their staff. These have included Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, chair of the House Budgetary Committee and former vice presidential nominee, Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte, chair of the House Judiciary Committee and several other leading Republican members of that committee, including immigration sub-committee chairman, Trey Gowdy, Minority House Leader, Nancy Pelosi, chair of the Congressional Friends of Ireland, Pete King, House Speaker John Boehner, and House Majority Whip, Kevin McCarthy, and their staffs. The Tánaiste has also maintained contact with key figures in the US Administration and with Irish-American community representatives. Throughout all these contacts the Tánaiste has reiterated the Government’s interest in all aspects of immigration reform and in particular our interest in seeing an overall agreement reached which provides relief for currently undocumented Irish migrants and a facility for future flows of legal migration between Ireland and the US.
I wish to confirm that the issue is one which will again be raised as a priority by the Taoiseach during his forthcoming St Patrick’s Day visit to the US and his meetings with President Obama, Vice President Biden and key members of Congress. Other members of Government visiting the US will also raise the issue as appropriate during their contacts. This is particularly important in light of the most recent developments, which indicate that the prospects for passage of immigration reform legislation by Congress this year are not good. The Deputy will be aware that following passage last June of the US Senate Bill – the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Bill – the issue has been under consideration in the Republican controlled House of Representatives.
Public comments and private conversations which the Taoiseach, Tánaiste, members of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and our embassy officials in Washington DC had with leaders of the House Republican caucus had given rise to expectations that the House would take up consideration of a series of immigration reform bills last autumn. Unfortunately that did not come to pass, as Deputy Smith indicated. Earlier this year, further public comments from House Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, and Chief Whip, Kevin McCarthy, again raised hopes that the Republican leadership in the House saw the need to proceed with immigration reform. To that end, the leadership prepared a set of draft principles that would guide action on immigration in the House and presented them to the members of their caucus for consideration at a meeting on 30 January. Informed by that discussion, House Speaker Boehner gave a press conference on 6 February in which he expressed doubts that the House would pass immigration reform legislation this year. He did reassert that immigration reform is something that needs to get done and that he would continue to consult his members.
Given that expectations had again been raised, these and other comments are disappointing. However, it is important we keep our focus on the end game. The Government, through our ambassador in Washington DC and her team, is continuing an extensive outreach and engagement with members of Congress and with the Irish groups and organisations lobbying for immigration reform. We are monitoring the ongoing discussions within the Republican Party and continuing to press the case for addressing the concerns of our undocumented and to provide for a future legal flow for Irish immigrants to the United States. As I noted earlier, the forthcoming St. Patrick’s Day visits to the United States will provide a further important opportunity to engage with US leaders in support of our immigration objectives and assess the prospects for the weeks and months ahead.
The Government remains fully committed to the effort to achieve an outcome that addresses the needs of our undocumented and creates a legal path for the future.
Brendan Smith (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fáil): I am glad that the Minister of State has given us a firm assurance that the Taoiseach and other members of the Government who will be in the United States will take every opportunity to raise at political and official level the need to have this immigration reform passed by the House of Representatives. We must try to ensure this is the year of immigration reform. We all encounter families who have family members in the United States whose position has not been regularised. We need to reassure the undocumented and their family members at home that every effort will be made to find a satisfactory solution. It is not only the emigrants who want their position to be regularised but many employer organisations have spoken out strongly in favour of the proposed legislation. If the Bill was passed, it would provide a path to permanent residency for more than 50,000 Irish people. The proposed E3 visa would provide for future flows of legal migrants between Ireland and the United States. We all know of individuals who have been unable to travel from the United States for family events, celebratory or sad. My constituency has suffered from heavy emigration for many decades. Many speak to me about their concern about a family member whose position has not been regularised in the United States. It is extremely difficult to see elderly parents come to one’s clinic concerned that their son or daughter may not be able to visit when the parents are not able, through infirmity or ill health, to travel to the United States. The Minister of State’s visit to Philadelphia last year was very successful. I spoke to some of the people he met who told him about the real situation in the United States and the need to advance this important measure.
Minister of State Alex White : I thank the Deputy for his insights and input into this important issue. Everything he has said about its importance is correct. In addition to the various contacts the Tánaiste, the Taoiseach, other Ministers and the embassy have had, the Government keeps a close eye on developments and makes its own assessment of the prospects for developments. While the exact shape and form of any movement remains to be seen, House contacts have spoken about a possible “convoy” of Bills on a range of issues such as US border security; individuals brought illegally to the United States as children; visas for agricultural and other temporary workers and, crucially, from Ireland’s perspective, the legalisation of undocumented migrants in a manner that would enable them to work in and travel to and from America. The timing and sequencing of such a “convoy” of Bills would be crucial if any overall deal was to be reached. In addition, their handling vis-à-vis upcoming Republican primary contests and-or the November Congressional elections will also be important and could yet determine the ultimate outcome. Congressional contacts have referred to the period from late May onwards as the likely time in which Bills could be taken on the floor of the House.
Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil T.D. Brendan Smith has welcomed the decision of the Minister for Education and Skills to restore the proposed building project for St. Mary’s National School, Virginia to his Department’s School Building Programme. He stated that unfortunately Minister Quinn had in March 2012 taken this particular project off the Department’s Building Programme and considerable progress had been made at that stage in planning and design work following the appointment of a Design Team for this project in February 2010.
Brendan Smith complimented the Principal, the Board of Management and the Parents’ Association on their ongoing work in highlighting the need for additional new permanent accommodation at St. Mary’s and he has urged the Department to advance this project to construction stage as quickly as possible.
“There is a clear and undeniable case for advancing this building project to construction stage at the earliest possible date and such permanent accommodation, both classrooms and ancillary accommodation is badly needed”, stated the Cavan/Monaghan Fianna Fáil T.D.