Bus Éireann’s new schools Seat Belt initiative is launched by Ministers Jan O’Sullivan and Damien English

Education, Transport

Bus Éireann’s Red Setter and local schoolchildren were in playful mode this morning for the launch of the new ‘Buster and the Belt-Ups’ school transport safety campaign.

‘Buster and the Belt Ups’ lead School Transport Safety Campaign  Bus Éireann’s new schools Seat Belt initiative is launched by Ministers Jan O’Sullivan and Damien English   Launching the campaign are Minister for Education and Skills Jan O'Sullivan TD and Damien English TD, Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills. Photo Elaine Barker / Fennell Photography

Bus Éireann’s new schools Seat Belt initiative is launched by Ministers Jan O’Sullivan and Damien English. Photo Elaine Barker / Fennell Photography

Minister for Education and Skills Jan O’Sullivan, and Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English were also in Merrion Square to officially launch the important new safety initiative.

While all Bus Éireann school buses are fitted with seatbelts, it is vital we continue to reinforce the importance of ‘belting up’ to school pupils. There are over 44 million journeys made by 112,500 school pupils under the School Transport Scheme annually, so safety remains the absolute priority for the company.

‘Buster and the Belt-Ups’ are animated characters who represent this new educational campaign, which involves a safety video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjyVeHm7IvY that will be distributed to national schools as part of packs including posters, seat belt safety certificates, activity sheets and stickers. These will be distributed in Irish to Gael Scoileanna.

The new campaign – which aims to engage primary school students to continually wear their seatbelts, by relating to the various Belt-Up characters and their key message – is endorsed by the Road Safety Authority and the INTO (Irish National Teachers Organisation).

Minister English said: “This campaign is not just about school children. It is vital that parents, guardians and teachers get on board to highlight the importance of road safety. They play a major role in conveying the message that it’s ‘the norm’ to reach for your seat belt once you get on the bus.”

Minister O’Sullivan said: “I am delighted to be involved in launching the campaign. The safety of our school children is obviously extremely important and I believe this initiative is a great way to get the message of ‘belting-up’ across to students. Education is the most important means of achieving compliance with the requirement to wear a seat belt and the use of ‘Buster and the Belt-Ups’ makes it very easy for younger students to relate to.”

Over €3billion for capital investment in enterprise and job-creation over lifetime of capital plan

Business, Funding, I.T., Jobs, Research and Innovation, Science, Skills, Startups

Investment will allow full delivery of comprehensive regional jobs plans


Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD together with along with the Minister of State for Business & Employment Ged Nash TD and the Minister of State for Research, Innovation and Skills Damien English TD today welcomed the publication of the capital plan, and announced the provision of a total of over €3billion in capital investment in projects under the remit of their Department over the period 2016-2021.

Minister English said: “The Government’s Capital programme is an investment in future proofing the economy and building a sustainable recovery not only for business but for the Irish people. The plan will underpin our economic and social development for the years to come. This Government has protected investment in research and innovation throughout its term and we have a strong base now on which to build.  Our forthcoming science, technology and innovation strategy will set the policy direction for the next phase of our investment and will complement the investment in physical infrastructure being announced today”.

The plan published today allocates a total of €3.01billion to capital projects under the Department of Jobs, and represents an average annual increase of €20.6million on his Department’s allocation for 2014 – a year when the agencies under his Department delivered a record 19,500 extra jobs. When the arrangement on own resource income is taken into account the annual figure will be significantly higher again.

Minister Bruton will outline the full breakdown of the Department’s capital programme for 2016 on Budget Day. He stressed today that the allocations announced today will allow his Department and its agencies to continue to deliver the programmes of activities which have support record levels of job-creation and exports over recent years, as well as the comprehensive programme of regional jobs plans commenced earlier this year. These plans outlined a total investment of €250million in IDA business parks, advance facilities, and Enterprise Ireland regional funds.

Minister Bruton said: “Over the past three years, employment in companies supported by my Department has risen by well over 40,000 – meaning that almost half of the total increase in employment over that time has been accounted for directly by companies supported by my Department. Those companies have also delivered record exports over that time. Today’s capital plan is about building on that record and bringing it to the next level – accelerating jobs growth in every region of the country, and delivering our aim of sustainable full employment.

“The allocation announced for our Department is a significant increase on the figures which have allowed us to deliver those record results. It will not mean that we will abandon the prudence and the smart use of resources that we have shown over the past four years. However it will allow us to plan for the future, secure the recovery and deliver the job-creation that will make possible everything else that we as a Government want to do over the coming years”.

Minister Nash said: “Job creation remains our number one priority in this Department and the capital programme we are announcing today will ensure that our agencies, the IDA, Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices have the funding they need to build on the record levels of job creation we have all worked so hard to achieve in recent years.  My focus is also firmly on ensuring that the jobs these agencies are helping to create are decent sustainable jobs which enable all workers to have a decent standard of living.”

Pre-Budget meeting with USI President

Education, Funding, Skills


Pre-Budget submissions are an important part of the policy making process.  Not all of the ideas can be taken onboard in the year offered, but they can help inform decisions down the road.

This evening I was delighted to host Kevin Donoghue in the Dáil for a productive and useful meeting.  Kevin is President of the Union of Students in Ireland.

Minister English meets with IFA in advance of Budget 2016

Farming, Food, Meath, Wesmeath
IFA Briefing for Budget 2016 at the Davenport Hotel, Dublin on Tuesday, 29 September 2015. Photography by Brendan Duffy.

IFA Briefing for Budget 2016 at the Davenport Hotel, Dublin on Tuesday, 29 September 2015.
Photography by Brendan Duffy.

It was great to meet with the IFA locally and nationally today Tuesday 29th September in advance of Budget 2016.

Agriculture, and the wider agri-food sector is a major part of the Meath West economy, but it is often undersold, and under highlighted.

Thousands of jobs in Meath West are supported both on family farms, and in the wider food and drink processing sector.  The value of agri-related exports arising from product in Meath is almost €0.5 Billion.  In Co. Westmeath the value of agri-related exports arising from product in that County is almost €250 million.

This must be supported and encouraged into the future to promote even more local jobs and growth.

Delegation from Cary, North Carolina, USA visits Meath County Council

Meath, Navan, Research and Innovation
Cary pic
Pictured left to right: Jack Smith, Mayor of Carey, North Carolina, USA, Cllr. Joe Fox, Chairman of Meath County Council’s Economic Development and Planning SPC, Minister Damien English and Kyle Greer, Head of Economic Development in Cary, North Carolina, USA.
Meath County Council hosted a delegation from its twin region of Cary, North Carolina, USA last week. Cary is an area very similar to Meath, lying on the outskirts of a larger population centre.  20 years ago, Cary adopted a new economic strategy and approach which reversed the flow of commuter traffic and saw sustainable jobs and investment come to Cary rather than its bigger neighbour.  This approach is similar to Meath’s new Economic Development Strategy 2015-2022, and the Meath and Cary public representatives discussed the potential for shared learning and cooperation at a meeting of the Economic Development and Planning SPC which is Chaired by Cllr. Joe Fox and which was also attended by local Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation Damien English T.D.

Week in Politics Sunday 27th September 2015

Farming, Law and Order, Meath, Research and Innovation, Wesmeath

Today Sunday I participated on the Week in Politics panel representing the Government.  Amongst the issues covered were the recovery in rural Ireland, childcare, the Millennium Development Goals and Junior Cert. reform.  You can see the programme on RTE Player below:


Local Minister Damien English and former Taoiseach John Bruton give a Meath hue to prestigious European gathering in Dublin this weekend

European issues
Strong Meath influence on Young European Leaders
A conference of Young European Leaders met in Dublin this weekend which was attended by Meath West TD and the Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation Damien English.

The prestigious Young European Leaders event was launched in 2011 to bring together the continent’s most promising talents to contribute to Europe’s leadership through their ability to bring together and inspire people. Each year, a group of some 40 carefully selected European Young Leaders from politics, science, media, technology and other fields in Europe, meet and discuss the current challenges the EU faces today, both for society as a whole, as well as for its citizens.  

Discussing the event Minister English stated: “It is great to engage with 40 fellow young Europeans about issues of common concern, and solutions, for both Ireland and for the EU.  The group is not just politicians, there are young leaders in business at the highest level, artists, writers and scientists amongst others gathered in Dublin this weekend. The threat of Terrorism, the tragedy of the refugee crisis and the wider issues of handling migration into the EU, and the need to kick start the industrial and innovation motor of Europe’s economy were all debated keenly. It was good to hear other points of views, which is important in finding real workable solutions both within countries and the wider EU” he said.

“Europeans need to start thinking together again if the European Union is going to thrive – or even survive – over the next half century” former Taoiseach John Bruton told the conference

The former Meath T.D., Fine Gael leader and EU Ambassador John Bruton pointed to four major problems for Europe today: aging populations; a reliance on mature technologies; the continent’s reduced relative size in the world; and risk aversion

Both Bruton, and Minister English highlighted the threat of the possibility of the UK leaving the EU after a referendum. “If every country started to do this the EU would not last more than another two years,” Bruton said.  His view was shared by local Minister Damien English, who cited Meath’s strategic importance between Dublin and the border counties,  as well as Ireland’s potent historic as well as economic ties with the UK.

Speech to Advanced Certificates Craft Presentation 2015 at City West Hotel

Apprenticeships, Education

Check Against Delivery



Damien English T.D., Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation

At the Advanced Certificates Craft Presentation 2015

City West Hotel, Dublin

Friday 25th September

Graduates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be here today to celebrate your graduation as craftspeople. There are few occasions in our lives that are marked as special, and today is one of those days for you, the recipients of the Advanced Certificate Craft.

Apprenticeship is a high quality programme that is structured to ensure that the most up to date methods and practices are imparted to the participants throughout the duration of their apprenticeship. The combination of alternating phases of on-the-job and off-the-job training provides an opportunity to get a recognised qualification while at the same time gaining on-the-job experience relevant to your chosen career.

As Ireland’s economy continues to recover and businesses expand there will be more employment opportunities. We need to ensure that there is a pipeline of young talented people such as yourselves to meet this demand.

Businesses need people with strong practical skills, and apprenticeship and vocational training are key to delivering these. The skills learned through an apprenticeship are invaluable and offer real job opportunities.

In recent times we have seen a very high and growing demand for people with vocational skills and the Irish apprenticeship programme has proven hugely successful in developing highly skilled workers like yourselves here today.

The Irish Apprenticeship System is highly respected both here in Ireland and abroad and is one of the best apprenticeship programmes in the world. As Paul O’Toole mentioned, this is evident from the achievements of Irish apprentices in WorldSkills Competitions. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the 2015 Irish Team, one of whom, David Morgan, is here today. Their success at this year’s WorldSkills Competition is remarkable.

I would also like to acknowledge the enormous contribution by all concerned with the provision of Apprenticeship training. Employers and the Education and Training Board Training Centres and Institutes of Technology all have a key role in the delivery of the programme, with SOLAS and the Department of Education & Skills, sharing responsibility for the planning of the programme. It is a model of partnership in action.

The reform of the Further Education and Training Sector is playing a key role in the Government’s commitment to ensuring that learners and those seeking employment can gain the skills they require to find employment and that employers have access to people who have the skills required for their business.

In 2013, as part of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs initiative, my Department undertook a review of the Irish apprenticeship system. A key recommendation of the review was the establishment of an Apprenticeship Council.

One of the first tasks of the Apprenticeship Council was to issue a call for proposals from consortia of industry and education and training providers, to develop new apprenticeships in sectors outside the current craft apprenticeships.

In July 2015, following an evaluation of proposals received, the Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan T.D. and I announced twenty five new apprenticeship proposals. The expansion of Apprenticeship and the announcement of 25 new categories of Apprenticeship is part of the ongoing work to ensure that the system remains responsive to economic and employment needs.

The new apprenticeships will include a range of new industry sectors and offer new career opportunities. I am confident that these new apprenticeships will prove to be as successful and will match the very high standard of the existing 27 apprenticeships.

Finally, I would like to sincerely thank all those who offered you support and encouragement during your Apprenticeship. Today is an opportunity to celebrate your achievement in being recognised as highly skilled craftspersons.I congratulate each and every one of you and wish you every success with your career.


Ireland is “Forging ahead” in R&D, English tells GEN Magazine

Business, I.T., Research and Innovation

I was delighted recently to sit down with GEN Ireland and be interviewed for their magazine about my work as Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, and the work we are doing in Ireland to put Research, Development and Innovation at the coalface of our economic recovery.

You can see a video of my interview here:

From a standing start 10 or 15 years ago, Ireland has shot up the international league tables for R&D and Innovation.  This did not happen by accident.  Successive Governments, including the one in which I have the honour of serving as Minister, have realised its potential, and given it priority, protecting funding and pursuing top level talent, even in bad economic times.

But now we must plan and grow for the future too.  We cannot afford to stand still.  Therefore the Irish Government will be publishing a new strategy for science, technology and innovation in October that will target increasing the country’s investment in research and development (R&D) from 1.7pc of GDP in 2014 to 2.5pc by 2020.

You can read the full article here: