Karin Smyth, reelected as MP for Bristol South and now appointed Minister for State at the Department of Health and Social Care, with British Prime Minister Keir Starmer, and Fianna Fail’s Cavan-Monaghan TD Brendan Smith and Senator Diarmuid Wilson.

British politician with Cavan links lands gov post

A British politician whose father hails from Arvagh has been selected to serve as Minister of State at the Department of Health and Social Care in the newly formed Labour majority government.

Karin Smyth was re-elected as MP for Bristol South last week, adding to the landslide victory for newly appointed Prime Minister Keir Starmer over his party's Conservative rivals.

Former NHS manager Ms Smyth won 18,521 votes and 42.7 per cent of the vote in Bristol South, a seat she has held since 2015.

Smyth is a former member of the Public Accounts Committee, was Parliamentary Private Secretary to Keir Starmer, then Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, served as Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons, and in 2018 was appointed Shadow Minister in Labour's Northern Ireland team.

In the September 2023 British shadow cabinet reshuffle, she was appointed Shadow Minister for Health, and she has been a member of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly.

Earlier this year the mum of three revealed she has skin cancer, first diagnosed after having surgery on her leg last November.

Her late father Tommy hails from Arvagh and moved to work in London in the 1950s.

Francie Smith who runs Smith's Newsagents in the town, is Ms Smyth's first cousin.

He congratulated her on her success, saying that she has never forgotten her Cavan “roots” in all these years.

There are other relatives living locally, and Smyth has a brother who lives in Northern Ireland.

“She comes over maybe once or twice a year, she'll come home to see her uncle John Charlie out in Farrangarave,” says Francie.

“She'd know her roots alright. A lovely person, I wish her well.”