Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs & Trade Darragh O’Brien has said the publication of a report by the House of Lords EU Committee on the impact of Brexit on British – Irish relations underscores the importance of maintaining and safeguarding our long-standing relationship with our nearest neighbour.
Deputy O’Brien made his comments ahead of the launch of the report in Buswells Hotel tomorrow (Monday Dec 12th) by Lord (Michael) Jay of Ewelme.
“Fianna Fáil is, I believe, the only political party in the Republic to have made a written submission to the House of Lords inquiry into the impact of Brexit on British-Irish relations. As a party, we believe that we must use every opportunity available to highlight Ireland’s distinct and unique position in relation to Brexit and we are pleased to have been able to use this inquiry to do so”, explained Deputy O’Brien.
“Our submission underscores the challenges that Brexit poses to British-Irish relations, including the Peace Process, the Common Travel Area and our trading relationship. While Ireland remains deeply committed to the EU, it is clear that we must navigate a new path that recognises our membership and commitment to the EU whilst also preserving and building upon our close economic, social and cultural ties with the United Kingdom.
“Recent economic data from the CSO shows how important it to minimise the negative impact of Brexit; in 2015, 13.9% of goods exported went to the UK and 25.7% of goods imported arrived from the UK; while visitors from the UK accounted for 41% (3.5 million) of overseas trips to Ireland by non-residents.
“While the full impact of Brexit will ultimately depend on the terms and conditions of the exit, it is crucial that the ramifications for the island of Ireland, as well as our future relationship with the UK are fully understood and recognised by Westminster. Our valid and specific concerns must not be ignored by any side in the negotiations ahead”.
Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Trade, Darragh O’Brien TD has welcomed the renewal of the J1 Visa programme. Ireland and the United States have this week signed an agreement extending the 12-month J1 visa for another three years.
The bilateral agreement signed between the Irish and US governments relates to the 12-month J1 visa which most Irish students use to spend a summer working in the US.
Deputy O’Brien commented, “The J1 Visa Programme has been used extensively by Irish students for close to 50 years. It has played an important role in facilitating students in accessing vital work experience.
“I am relieved that any concerns which were raised by President Elect Donald Trump during his campaign have now been clarified and that a commitment to extend the programme, has been agreed.
“Ireland has a strong bond with the United States which stretches back decades and through generations. Our relationship with the United States developed as a result of initiatives such as the J1 Visa Programme and it is imperative that our close links are maintained.
“The changes announced to the J1 Visa Programme last November saw the introduction of new restrictions, including a provision which states that Irish students must have a pre-arranged job before travelling to the United States under the programme. However, many Irish students have been unable to secure work to date, despite having spent large sums of money in applying for the J1 Visa and arranging flights.
“Accordingly I’m calling on Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan to further engage with officials on this issue to see if a better outcome can be achieved for those that will apply for the J1 Visa over the next three years,” said Deputy O’Brien.
Local Fianna Fáil TD, Darragh O’Brien has congratulated St Maurs ladies football on their All-Ireland junior club glory on Saturday.
North Dublin team and first-time finalists, St Maurs (2-13) secured a deserving win over Kinsale (Cork) 3-8 at Netwatch Cullen Park in Carlow.
Commenting following the result, Deputy O’Brien said, “This is a wonderful achievement for all the players and officials in St Maurs and the wider community in the North County. Over the past number of years, the club has been inching closer and closer to the elusive senior championship.
“It was an exceptional game of football and a phenomenal victory which makes all the hard work, training and commitment worth it,” said the Fianna Fáil TD.
"I wish to send my warmest congratulations too to Dublin senior panellist, Olivia Leonard who was named a player of the match. Olivia led the team to a superb win.
Comhghairdeas leo,” concluded O’Brien.
- Life saving CF drug should be provided under Long Term Illness Scheme -
Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin Fingal Darragh O’Brien has called on the Health Minister to make the life-saving CF drug Orkambi available to patients under the Long Term Illness Scheme.
Deputy O’Brien says precedent has been set by former Health Minister James Reilly who overruled a decision made by the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics and made the drug Kalydeco available to suitable patients.
“Cystic Fibrosis is a debilitating and life limiting condition, which affects thousands of people across the country and the Government’s continued procrastination on a decision to provide this game changing drug is nothing short of appalling.
“There is a commitment in the Programme for Government to “look at opportunities for leveraging purchasing power either through national or European initiatives” but this does not seem to be the case with Orkambi as virtually no progress has been made in reducing the cost of the drug.
“There are around 1,200 CF sufferers who would benefit from Orkambi. This is a life or death situation for these people and I am urging the Minister to follow in the footsteps of former Minister Reilly and make this drug available to those who need it.
“The argument over the cost effectiveness of the drug is short-sighted. The cost of an acute bed is between €1,000 and €1,200 a day. Many Cystic Fibrosis patients can spend as much as nine months a year in hospital, which could cost anywhere between €270,000 and €324,000 per year. The annual cost of Orkambi is €160,000 – roughly half of the cost of the acute care that is currently being provided.
“Not only is this a cost-effective proposal, it would also free up much needed acute beds in the health service that is already under significant pressure. I am appealing to Minister Harris to give this option the serious consideration it warrants and to provide this life changing drug to the people who need it”.
Please see below a summary of some of the issues that I and my colleague Cllr Eoghan O'Brien have been working on in our area over the last number of months.
As you will know we are committed to improving our existing schools and providing much needed additional facilities in our area. I have tabled a number of Parliamentary Questions to the Minister for Education & Skills Richard Bruton T.D. regarding the provision of a new secondary school for the Malahide & Portmarnock area. Please see below the most recent response that I have received from Minister Bruton.
"Question: To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the provision of a new secondary school for the Malahide and Portmarnock areas of County Dublin, as announced in November 2015; if he has identified locations for these proposed schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter."
"Reply: As the Deputy is aware the building project for the new post primary school to serve Malahide/Portmarnock is included in the 6 year construction programme that was announced last November and is listed to go to construction in 2019-21.
Officials in my Department are liaising with officials in Fingal County Council in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding in relation to the identification and acquisition of a suitable location for the school.
The technical feasibility of an identified site option is currently being comprehensively assessed by officials from my Department in liaison with officials from the Council.
Due to commercial sensitivities relating to site acquisitions generally I am not in a position to provide further details at this time."
Please see below the response that I received to my Parliamentary Question seeking an update regarding the approval of stage 2B of the building project for St. Oliver Plunkett's National School.
"Question: To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the status of the approval of stage 2B for a St. Oliver Plunkett's National School, Malahide, Co. Dublin in order that this new school building project can proceed to tender stage; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
"Reply: The project referred to by the Deputy has recently been approved to proceed to Stage 3 which involves the tender competition for appointment of the building contractor. The school and its design team have been informed."
Please be assured that I will continue to follow this matter up with both Minister Bruton and the Department of Education & Skills.
Cllr O'Brien and I have been in regular contact with Irish Rail raising the concerns of local commuters regarding the number of available parking spaces at Portmarnock and Malahide train stations and we have been informed that a feasibility study, on increasing car park capacity at a number of train stations in North Dublin, is currently taking place.
The study is expected to be completed by the end of Quarter 1 in 2017, and I will be working hard to ensure that there is funding made available to Irish Rail to develop the additional capacity that is obviously needed.
Irish Rail have commenced works on installing a pedestrian bridge at the Back Road, Malahide. This will greatly improve pedestrian safety and access to Malahide Demesne. It is anticipated they will conclude by the first quarter of 2017.
Blackwood Lane - The installation of the much needed section of path is nearing completion on Blackwood Lane. Cllr. Eoghan O'Brien and I have long sought this extension to improve pedestrian safety and access in the area. We are delighted to see works nearing completion.
Irish Water has invested €500,000 to repair and replace 1km of collapsed and deficient sewers and the laying of 100m of a new water main along Dublin Road, Yellow Walls Road and Woodlawn. The laying of a new gas main was also facilitated along Woodlawn.
The water, wastewater and gas infrastructure was coordinated to take place at the one time to minimise the disruption to residents. The rehabilitation of the sewer will also assist in preventing future flood issues on Yellow Walls Road.
PATHS AND ROADS
After calling on Fingal County Council to allocate funds for the much needed repair works, we have been informed by Fingal County Council that the following areas will be included for consideration for the 2017 Programme of Works:
The footpaths at St. Sylvester's Villas, Back Road, Malahide, particularly on the way to the proposed new footbridge.
The footpath outside St. Andrews National School, Church road, Malahide,.
The footpaths on Connolly Avenue.
The footpaths in Ard Na Mara.
The Estuary Road surface between Swords and Seabury Estate
Resurfacing of the entrance to Inbhir Íde, Malahide
This is just a short summary of a number of matters that we are working on.