Incentives are needed to entice our young...

Deputy Niamh Smyth (FF) shares her political aspirations for 2023...

As I write this my thoughts are dominated by a world in turmoil and its effects on all of us. The war in Ukraine and migrants from numerous countries fleeing repressive regimes, brings to mind our own migrant history, and how we were welcomed abroad. Our psyche values the plight of refugees and my first hope for 2023 is for patience and understanding towards all refugees.

The spirit of Ukraine brings our own national question into focus especially after the intriguing results from the latest survey conducted across the island. The expressed views convince me more and more that the way forward is through the Shared Ireland initiative. I believe and know our Tánaiste Micheál Martin will continue to sow the peace and harmony seeds of this initiative. A Shared Ireland is all about change, a change in perspective, a change in vision and a change in approach. It is about the art of listening, compromise, reconciliation and respecting and getting to know traditions. As we address economic, housing and health issues I see the principles of the Shared Ireland playing a key role.

Another key aspiration of mine is to build and develop the necessary wrap around services to sustain and nurture mental health in Cavan Monaghan. I was delighted after numerous representations and meetings to finally see the appointment of a Suicide Crisis Assessment Nurse for each county in 2022. It is an important building block in offering young people a significant intervention process when their world is in darkness. Let us all hope that 2023 will see a substantial decrease in suicide rates. Remember there is help out there and no problem is insurmountable.

I am optimistic that 2023 will bring the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill into being. The establishment of the commission after months of pre-legislative scrutiny by my committee will protect users, in particular our youth, from harmful content.

One of my strongest desires is to see health waiting lists reduce this coming year. Until we invest financially, emotionally and individually into increasing the number of healthcare professionals the system will remain backlogged.

Our health is our wealth and to progress this philosophy the turn-around time between interview, appointment and commencing work must be greatly reduced. Incentives are needed to entice our young medical talent abroad home. For me this is a critical step in reducing waiting times.

I am also hoping that 2023 will see us enjoy pleasant distractions like Cavan winning an Ulster final, Leona Maguire winning her first Major and Leanne Kiernan starring in Ireland’s World Cup campaign.

Before we move from 2022 lets us remember all families who lost loved ones in the past year. May they receive an inner patience as they struggle with varying degrees of silence, emptiness and anger that follows death.

“Those who die don’t go away, they walk beside us every day.”

Athbhliain faoi mhaise dhuit.