Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin urges students to apply for SUSI grants for the 2020/2021 academic year Fine Gael TD, Brendan Griffin has today urged students who have not yet applied for SUSI grants for the 2020/2021 academic year to do so before July 9th. Deputy Griffin has reassured students that the grant scheme is flexible and can address loss of income as a result of Covid-19. “Students and their families who have experienced a fall in income can seek to have their application reviewed under the change of circumstances provision within the scheme, provided they can demonstrate that any change in income is ‘likely to obtain for the duration of the approved course or for the foreseeable future’. “Fine Gael is committed to building an inclusive higher education system and SUSI grants are an excellent resource for eligible students to avail of. “Covid-19 has caused significant disruption across the country and students have had to deal with the closure of colleges and a disruption to their studies. “We are conscious this pandemic has also resulted in a loss of income for many families and created a time of financial worry in many households. I want to assure people that there is scope to address loss of income as part of the grant scheme,” Deputy Griffin concluded. As of Friday 3 July, SUSI received over 77,000 applications. Of these 77,000 applications over 38,000 were from renewal applicants and over 39,000 were from new applicants. Our latest figures show that over 46,000 students have now been awarded funding for academic year 20-21. Of these 46,000 students, 13,000 are new applicants. Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris said: “I am conscious there are families that may not have qualified for SUSI grants previously could qualify this year due to Covid-19. “The deadline for priority applications is later this week and I would really encourage people to get the applications in. “SUSI grants are designed to help students and their families with the cost of returning to college. But we know fewer people are qualifying for them due to an improved economy. Student supports and how we help families will be a priority for me going forward.” ENDS For further information please contact Brendan on 087-2549116

€1,535,192 for businesses in Kerry from the Government’s Restart Grant – Griffin A total of €1,535,192 has been approved and paid out to Kerry businesses under the Government’s Restart Grant to aid reopening after COVID-19, Deputy Brendan Griffin has said. Deputy Griffin said, “The Government’s Restart Grant involves direct grant aid to micro and small businesses of between €2,000 and €10,000, to help with the costs associated with reopening and re-employing workers following COVID-19 closures. “Business owners and their staff have been through incredibly difficult times recently and it is so welcome that the Government is doing everything possible to support them to open up again. “This work was begun by Fine Gael in the last government and it is welcome that the new Government is prioritising the recovery from the economic shock of Covid-19. They are working to repair the damage that has been done, and restore confidence and prosperity. Small businesses will play a huge role in that as they are the lifeblood of the local economy. “The latest figures from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, now headed up by Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, show that €1,535,192 has been approved and paid to businesses in Kerry since the Restart Grant was formed. “These targeted supports that have been developed by the Department in collaboration with Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices, will be available to companies of including micro enterprises, SMEs, and sectors most exposed with a focus on food, manufacturing and internationally traded services including exporters and importers. “This is in addition to a range of other supports for businesses to help them through the pandemic. The July Jobs Initiative, which will be announced in the coming weeks, will help to bolster our economy and get people back to work as quickly as possible. It will enhance and add to the existing measures totalling €12 billion in supports for Covid-19 impacted businesses already announced. For example this week Tánaiste Leo Varadkar announced that 183 retailers have been approved for €6.5 million in funding as part of the Online Retail Scheme, which is targeted at online retailers to strengthen their online offering and enable them to reach a wider customer base. “Other measures include the Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS), liquidity supports such as 0% finance for 6 months from MicroFinance Ireland, rates waivers from local authorities and the warehousing of tax liabilities of SMEs by Revenue. “The Restart Grant is being rolled out through the Local Authorities across the country so Kerry County Council has a crucial role here. “Impacted firms that are in rateable premises can apply to Kerry County Council for grant support of between €2,000 and a maximum of €10,000 equivalent to their rates bill of 2019. “The application form for the Restart Grant is available on the Council’s website. I encourage all micro and small business owners in Kerry to take a look at the website and apply for the grant to help them get back on their feet after COVID-19.” ENDS For further information please contact Brendan on 087-2549116

Live-saving, innovative 24/7 text service launches in Kerry – Griffin If you can’t talk about it, text about it A free, anonymous and inclusive text service has been launched to provide support for people going through a mental health or emotional crisis, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin TD has said. Minister Griffin said: “‘50808’ is a first of its kind for Ireland, a free 24/7 text service, providing everything from a calming chat to immediate support for people who need it. “Many people – particularly young people – don’t feel comfortable making that call or reaching out for help. “This is a service that will offer a lifeline to people of all ages across Kerry and indeed across the country. “It’s been an exceptionally difficult time for our country, and this service is needed more than ever. There is no doubt the launch of 50808 by Crisis Text Line will save lives.” Minister Griffin continued: “50808 has been in development for some time, and it couldn’t launch at a more important moment. “The service’s trained Crisis Volunteers will help people through this current crisis and will continue to provide free, 24/7 support in the long term. “This life-saving service is part of the government’s strategy to protect the mental health of all members of the public. “I’d like to commend my Fine Gael colleagues, the Minister for Health Simon Harris and the Minister for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly for prioritising this essential service. “Since the initiative began its pilot in September last year, it has provided support to 3,801 people through 6,694 conversations. It is expected that ‘50808’ will support over 50,000 people each year once fully operational. “Of the almost four thousand people supported; ● 832 people were thinking about suicide ● 360 people were self-harming ● The top issues discussed were: Anxiety/stress (40%), Depression/sadness (32%), Relationships (29%), Isolation/loneliness (23%) and Suicide (18%) ● 80% of texters have been between the ages of 16 and 34 ● 65% of texters were female, 24% male, 2% transgender and 2% non-binary ● 30% of texters identified as LGBTI+ ● 35% of texters are living with a disability, an existing mental health condition, or other medical condition ● Reasons for texting: Didn’t have anyone else to talk to (50%), Wanted to talk to someone who didn’t know me (48%), More comfortable texting than talking (40%), To embarrassed to talk on the phone or in person (31%), Didn’t have access to a therapist (31%) Minister Griffin continued: “The service uses an artificial intelligence (AI) system to analyse a texter’s initial message, scanning keywords, phrases, and even emojis to determine the level of severity. The texter’s at most imminent risk are placed at the top of the queue. “50808 has performed over 100 “Active Rescues” since beginning in pilot phase in September 2019 in which the National Ambulance Service is contacted for a texter in need of emergency support. “The service allows trained Crisis Volunteers to volunteer from home. Crisis Volunteers complete a 30-hour training and have 24/7 supervision by full-time mental health professionals.” Minister Griffin concluded: “The COVID-19 crisis has been a challenging time for us all. If you need to talk, please pick up the phone and text 50808 where you will be connected to a trained and compassionate volunteer. The service is available 24/7.” ENDS Notes to Editors: About ‘50808’: ● 50808 is a first of its kind for Ireland: a free 24/7 text service, providing everything from a calming chat to immediate support for people going through a mental health or emotional crisis – big or small. From breakups or bullying, to anxiety, depression and suicidal feelings, our Crisis Volunteers are available 24/7 for anonymous text conversations. Our aim is to provide immediate support in the short term and connect people to resources that will help them in the future.

17th June 2020 Free and subsidised higher education places announced for people looking to upskill or reskill – Griffin Free and subsidised higher education places will be made available to Kerry people who are looking to upskill or reskill, according to Minister of State for Tourism Brendan Griffin TD. Minister Griffin said, “I welcome the announcement from the Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD, and Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor and Minister of State for Training Skills, Innovation, Research and Development John Halligan that almost 17,000 new places will be made available to people seeking to upskill or reskill. “In total, 13,000 places will be made available in 2020, with the additional 4,000 places coming on stream over the remaining 2 years under the Springboard+ 2020 and Human Capital Initiative (HCI) Pillar 1 programmes. “As part of Springboard+ 2020, a total of 418 places are available across 15 courses at Institute of Technology Tralee . Places are available on courses in a wide range of skills areas, including artificial intelligence, smart factory technology, sustainable energy, medical device technology and cybersecurity. “Approval has also been given for courses under HCI Pillar 1 to run for three academic years from 2020/21 to 2022/23. Here in Kerry, a total of 48 places are available across 1 course at the Institute of Technology Tralee . “2,129 places on both programmes are also being made available as a result of investment by the Government of an additional €10 million in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. “Fine Gael is committed to building a world-class education system from early years to Higher and Further Education, offering ladders of opportunity to people throughout their life. “Higher and Further Education have been greatly affected by the COVID-19 crisis and we will support the sector through these challenges, to ensure that educational opportunities remain and are made more accessible to the people of Kerry. “The National Training Fund Advisory Group has considered the principles and priorities of the National Training Fund (NTF) in light of the transformed economic and labour market landscape arising from COVID-19. These priorities were confirmed by the National Skills Council. Among these principles were: • the need for an immediate focus on providing relevant skills for those affected by the crisis underpinning their employability and access into sustainable and quality employment; • the need for focused and agile programmes consistent with the current priorities for skills provision. “To enable a skills-focused response to employment issues arising from the Covid-19 crisis, €10 million has been repurposed from HCI Pillar 3 to provide extra funding for upskilling and reskilling courses under Springboard+ and HCI Pillar 1. “Courses are in areas that have been deemed by Government as being of critical importance: digital skills, soft skills, management and leadership, and the workplace of the future. “Candidates who wish to participate in Springboard+ 2020 or HCI pillar 1 courses will find full details on the approved courses on the dedicated information and applications website www.springboardcourses.ie” Commenting on the announcement, Minister McHugh said: “Springboard+ training programmes provide people who are unemployed, those looking to return to the workforce and those in employment with a great opportunity to upskill or reskill in areas in which employers need skilled workers. I am particularly pleased that we are able to provide additional places this year to enable an enhanced response to skills needs arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.” Minister Mitchell O’Connor added: “The higher education sector has responded swiftly and effectively to the challenges that have arisen over recent months. The courses we are launching today will form a further response to the impacts of the global pandemic, providing upskilling and reskilling places for those who have been most affected. HCI Pillar 1 will provide specialisation and conversion courses for graduates to ensure that they have the skills most needed by employers today.” ENDS Note for Editors Background to Springboard+ Springboard+, which is managed by the Higher Education Authority on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills, began in 2011 as part of the Government’s Jobs Initiative. It complements the core State-funded education and training system and provides free and heavily subsidised upskilling and reskilling higher education opportunities in areas of identified skills need. The initiative’s primary target group when it was established was unemployed people with a previous history of employment. Over recent years with the decline in numbers on the live register the focus was changed to include more people in employment and those returning to the workforce. ICT skills Conversion Courses were introduced in 2012 as a means to address concerns by industry and the enterprise development agencies about continuing difficulties in sourcing ICT graduates with requisite skills. Springboard+ courses are at Level 6 (Certificate) to Level 9 (Masters) on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) and are delivered by public and private higher education providers around the country. Courses are not all a full award at each level – they may also be minor awards or special purposes awards. All courses provide job-readiness training and most offer the opportunity for work placement, project-based learning or industry site visits where appropriate. All courses approved for funding under Springboard+ are selected by an independent panel with experts from industry and education following a competitive tendering process. In particular, courses with a proven track record in getting people back into employment are recommended for funding. The majority of courses approved under Springboard+ 2020 commence in autumn 2020, however there are a number of courses that start later in 2020 and in early 2021. Full details on Springboard+ courses, the eligibility criteria and how to apply can be found on the website: www.springboardcourses.ie 91% of Springboard+ courses will be delivered in a more flexible format (blended learning, online/distance learning). As well as aiding participation for those in employment, increased provision will provide opportunities for people across the country to access programmes in regions other than where they reside and enable upskilling and reskilling even in circumstances where social distancing measures continue to be in place. Recent research undertaken by the HEA has shown that 90% of participants who were on the Live Register at the start of their courses are now in employment. Background to HCI The Human Capital Initiative (HCI) was announced as part of Budget 2019. This initiative will provide additional capacity across the Higher Education Sector to meet priority skill needs for enterprise, representing an additional investment of €300m (€60m per annum from 2020 to 2024) from the surplus in the NTF in line with recommendations contained in the independent review of the NTF on the use of the surplus and the development of labour market skills. Skills needs are identified through the detailed and comprehensive framework now in place under the National Skills Council, including publications from the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (SLMRU), the work of the Regional Skills Fora, the NTF Advisory Group, and the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, and direct involvement of employers. The HCI consists of 3 main pillars – graduate conversion and specialisation courses, additional places on undergraduate provision, and an innovation and agility fund. Pillar 1, Graduate Conversion Programmes extends the approach currently in place for ICT under Springboard+; these programmes will offer incentivised places for graduates to reskill in areas of skills shortage and emerging technologies. These are being run alongside, and complementary to, the Springboard+ offerings. €65.6 million has been allocated to HCI Pillar 1 for the duration of the Human Capital Initiative, with €13.12 million allocated for the courses recommended to commence in 2020. HCI Pillar 1 courses are open to all, regardless of employment status. Eligibility criteria have been aligned with the eligibility for ICT Conversion Courses under Springboard+. Those who are eligible for the DEASP Back to Education Allowance may undertake the courses free of charge, with all others paying just 10% of the course fee. Additional funding Additional funding of €10m has been approved as a response to upskilling and reskilling needs arising from the global pandemic. This provides for a total of 2,129 additional places across both programme, a 19% increase on planned funding. Courses and Places by Academic Category – Springboard+ Academic category Total Places ICT Skills Conversion (Level 8) 1 year Full-time 532 2 Years Part-time 769 SPRINGBOARD (part-time) Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Veterinary 50 Arts and Humanities 225 Business, Administration and Law 2,747 Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction 3,388 Generic programmes and qualifications 258 Health and Welfare 201 Information and Communication Technologies 2,103 Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Statistics 347 Services 379 Social Sciences, Journalism and Information 75 Total 11,074 Courses and Places by Academic Category – HCI Pillar 1 over 3 years Academic category Total Places Recommended Arts and Humanities 70 Business, Administration and Law 690 Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction 1,292 Health and Welfare 212 Information and Communication Technologies 2,561 Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Statistics 1,066 Total 5,891

Beef farmers in Kerry to benefit from a financial support package in response to Covid-19- Griffin A €50m support scheme will be made available to beef farmers in Kerry who have been financially affected by Covid-19, according to Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin TD. Minister Griffin said, “My colleague, Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed has announced Cabinet approval for an allocation of €50 million for a support scheme for beef finishing farms which have been severely impacted by the economic effects of the Covid-19. “The Irish beef sector has suffered from ongoing market disturbance related to this pandemic which has had a substantial impact for beef farmers in Kerry and for the rural economy as a whole. “Fine Gael has been making every effort to assist people whose incomes have been affected by restrictions brought in to ensure the health and safety of all and by economic developments globally. I hope that the support package announced today will go some way to restoring the livelihoods of farmers in Kerry and their families. “This support for the beef sector is an emergency response to a dramatic economic shock and to mitigate the worst Covid-19 economic impacts on these farm enterprises. “Beef farming is a significant economic contributor to the local economy here in Kerry, and thus is more important than ever in sustaining our communities as we recover from the economic effects of Covid-19. Farming is very important to Fine Gael and we will always work to represent farmers’ interests. “Minister Creed has confirmed to me his department will be engaging with stakeholders regarding the details of the scheme to be developed, which must also submitted to the EU for state aid approval under the Covid-19 Temporary State Aid Framework. “A meeting of the Beef Taskforce will also be planned for the end of June, to take place by video conference in light of Covid-19 restrictions,” Minister Griffin said. Minister Creed said, “This is part of my ongoing efforts to ensure that all the appropriate support measures are put in place at national and EU level for our farming communities. I urge all actors in the supply chain to recognise their interdependence and work collaboratively towards our shared objective –a beef sector which is economically, environmentally and socially sustainable.” Minister Creed concluded “I have now made over €200 million in new money available specifically to beef farmers over the past two years on top of the €300 million under the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP).” ENDS Notes to Editors: Covid-19 supports The delivery of essential services to farmers, fishermen and the food and forestry sectors has been prioritised by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine throughout the course of the pandemic; including services such as export certification, scheme payments, and protocols to allow mart services to continue on a limited and controlled basis. Following a campaign by Member States, spear-headed by Ireland, the European Commission introduced a scheme of aids to private storage under the CAP for certain dairy products, and certain beef and sheepmeat cuts. In May, the Minister announced the Covid-19 voluntary Temporary Fleet Tie-up Scheme for fishing vessels, to be implemented under Ireland’s European Maritime and Fisheries Fund Operational Programme 2014-20. Farming specific supports available include: an increase in the budget for the Calf Investment Scheme to €4 million; bringing forward of balancing payments under GLAS and the Organic Scheme; and various practical flexibilities for applications for the main farm schemes. Farmers, fishers and food businesses will also benefit from access to the Government’s liquidity and investment responses to Covid-19 impacts, including the expansion of the Future Growth Loan Scheme for capital investment and Microfinance Ireland loans for working capital. While the banks have extended their payment break from three months to six months for those directly impacted by Covid-19, the Government has announced an expanded Credit Guarantee Schemes, which will support working capital lending to SMEs, including farmers and fishers. In addition, food businesses are eligible for the Covid Working Capital Loan Scheme, as well as Enterprise Ireland supports to maintain business continuity and liquidity, and Bord Bia supports to accelerate eCommerce and expand marketing activities. For further information please contact Brendan 087-6528841

25th May 2020 464 Kerry people respond to Govt call for community volunteers during COVID-19 crisis Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin TD has commended the fantastic support of local volunteers in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Since the call for people to sign up to support the community response to COVID 19 in Kerry went out in March, 464 people from the area have registered to volunteer through the I-VOL app. Minister Griffin said: “Volunteers in Kerry have been directly linked by the local Volunteer Centre(s) to local organisations responding to COVID-19, conducting a wide range of very important work – from delivering food and medicines to older people who are self-isolating, to volunteering in COVID test centres. “There are also many more volunteers on the ground, helping out family, friends and neighbours. “I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation for the invaluable work being carried out by volunteers in Kerry during the Covid-19 emergency. “The response to the COVID crisis shows once again what a fantastic resource we have in our volunteers and the wonderful community spirit that prevails here in Kerry even during these challenging times.” Minister Griffin continued: “We have always depended greatly on the cohort of volunteers that give so generously of their time and energy year in year out. “Unfortunately, many of our volunteers are older people who have been confined to their homes as a result of the COVID 19 crisis. “Back in March as the crisis was emerging, we called on people to help meet the significant needs at community level and the response has been magnificent.” Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring, said: “I am very happy to be in a position to provide the necessary supports to underpin this important work through my Department’s collaboration with Volunteer Ireland and the network of Volunteer Centres. Together, we will ensure that the work of these volunteers results in a permanent legacy for the benefit of our communities. “During the crisis, the Department has introduced a number of additional measures to provide extra support, including additional funding of €500,000 to Volunteer Centres to support the COVID-19 volunteer efforts, a COVID-19 Communication Pack for Communities, a collection of seven leaflets offering practical advice and information on topics ranging from sensible volunteering to vulnerable persons to the prevention of fraud and theft; a €2.5 million COVID-19 Emergency Fund for local authorities to administer to community groups partaking in the ‘Community Call’, as well as €40 million support package of supports for Community and Voluntary Organisations, Charities and Social Enterprises.” ENDS For further information please contact Brendan on 087-6528841

Kerry enterprises urged to apply to Restart Grant for Small Business – Griffin Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin TD has urged small and micro businesses across Kerry to apply for the new €250m Restart Grant, which will give direct grant aid to help them with the costs associated with reopening and reemploying workers following COVID-19 closures. Minister Griffin said: “The Grant will be available to businesses with a turnover of less than €5m and employing 50 people or less, which were closed or impacted by at least a 25% reduction in turnover out to 30th June 2020. “It is a contribution towards the cost of re-opening or keeping a business operational and re-connecting with employees and customers. “The grants will be equivalent to the rates bill of the business in 2019, with a minimum payment of €2,000 and a maximum payment of €10,000.” Minister Griffin continued: “I am acutely aware of the difficulties facing small businesses in Kerry during these challenging times. “The Restart Grant is designed to help these businesses get back on their feet. The grant can be used to defray ongoing fixed costs, for replenishing stock and for measures needed to ensure employee and customer safety. “Small businesses, whether it be the local hairdresser, café or clothes shop, are absolutely vital to the social fabric of our towns and villages throughout Kerry. “In response to the very significant economic challenges posed by Covid-19, the Government has moved swiftly to introduce a range of measures to support enterprises of all sizes. “These measures have included supports for wage costs, liquidity supports and the deferral or waiver of payments. “The Restart Grant will further help to support activity and employment across Kerry,” Minister Griffin said. Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, said: “These businesses have made huge sacrifices to protect their employees and customers during COVID-19 and we want to help them get back up and running so that they can return to viability and contribute to the national economic recovery. “These are small grants but they can make a big difference in terms of giving businesses an extra helping hand to open their doors again.” Applications for the Restart Grant can be made online to Kerry County Council from Friday 22nd May. Processing of applications and payment of the Restart Grant will depend on the initial surge of applications but, as far as is feasible, will be prioritised according to scheduled re-opening dates in the national Roadmap. This direct grant support is part of the wider €12bn package of supports for firms of all sizes, which includes grants, low-cost loans, write-off of commercial rates and deferred tax liabilities, all of which will help to improve cashflow amongst our SMEs. ENDS Note to Editors About the Restart Grant • Micro and small businesses are particularly vulnerable to the economic effects of Covid-19. Many businesses, even while closed, continue to incur costs including fixed costs without being able to generate revenues. It is recognised that businesses will also incur costs in preparing their businesses to reopen and meeting the needs of employees and customers. The Restart Grant is designed to alleviate the pressure on businesses in this context. • To avail of the Restart Grant, a business must be in the Local Authorities Commercial Rates Payment System and: 1. have an annual turnover of less than €5m and employ between 1 to 50 people; 2. have closed and/or suffered a projected 25%+ loss in turnover to end June 2020; 3. commit to remain open or to reopen if it was closed; 4. declare the intention to retaining employees that are on The Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) and to reemploy staff on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment where applicable. 5. The grant can be used to defray ongoing fixed costs, for replenishing stock and for measures needed to ensure employee and customer safety. For further information please contact Brendan on 087-6528841

Brendan Griffin 8th May 2020 Choice of calculated grades or Leaving Cert exams at a later date for Kerry students – Griffin The 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations have been postponed, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin TD has confirmed. Minister Griffin said: “Following a decision at Cabinet, all students are to be offered the option of receiving Calculated Grades for the subjects they are studying and the alternative of sitting the 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations at a date in the future when it is considered safe to hold the examinations. “The reality of the impact of Covid-19 has led to a decision that has never happened before. I fully appreciate the magnitude of this issue, for local students and their families, for the teachers and for school principals all across Kerry. “The decision has been taken following an assessment of public health advice and other information and the implications for holding the exams from the previously rescheduled date of 29 July 2020. “My colleague, Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh, has made every effort to run the 2020 Leaving Certificate as close as possible to the way the examinations were originally intended to be held. “At a Government level, there was a great desire to allow students to undertake written and practical examinations in July and August but the compelling evidence, based on medical advice and other assessments, is that the Leaving Certificate examinations cannot be held in a reliable and valid manner, nor in a way that would be equitable for students. “This decision is taken with the best interests of students here in Kerry and all around the country at heart. I have a responsibility to find a fair way to address the disadvantage that some students are facing and the impact a lack of time in school has had in recent weeks. “The system being put in place will allow a young person to progress to the next stage of their life in a timely fashion. “The fairest and most equitable way to do that in the current circumstances is to offer students the option of Calculated Grades for the 2020 Leaving Certificate but also to guarantee them the right to sit the examinations at a later stage when it is safe to hold them in the normal way.” Minister Griffin added: “A Calculated Grade is a grade that can be provided to students following the combination of school information about a student’s expected performance in an examination and national data available in relation to the performance of students in examinations over a period of time.” Minister for Education and Skills, Joe McHugh, said: “The decision has to be taken now to remove the anxiety many students have been experiencing over how the exams would look later in the summer.” The following is a breakdown of the process to be applied for students to be given the option of Calculated Grades or to sit the examinations. 1. The 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations, previously scheduled to take place in late July and August, have been postponed. 2. There will be no Leaving Certificate fee this year. All exam fees which have been paid will be refunded. 3. Teachers will be asked to provide a professional judgment of each student’s attainment which will be subjected to a rigorous in-school alignment process to ensure fairness. 4. The school principal will approve the estimated scores being provided and the rankings of each student in each subject in the school. 5. A special unit is being established within the Department of Education and Skills to process the data provided by each school and operate national standardisation, again to ensure fairness amongst all students. 6. The Department will finalise the grades for each student which will be issued to each student as close as possible to the traditional date. Formal State certification will also be provided. 7. Students will retain the right to appeal. This will involve checks on school-entered data; correct transfer of that data to the Department; a review that it was correctly received and processed by the Department; and a verification of the Department’s processes by independent appeal scrutineers. 8. Students will also retain the right to the sit the 2020 Leaving Certificate examinations at a date in the future when it is deemed safe for state examinations to be held. ENDS Note to Editors • There are two main phases in the process of arriving at a calculated grade: School-based and national standardisation. • Both phases are underpinned by the principles of teacher professionalism, support for students, objectivity, fairness and equity, collaboration and timeliness. • In addition, and in the spirit of fairness to all Leaving Certificate students, the option of sitting the Leaving Certificate examinations when it becomes feasible to hold them remains open to all students. • The process of arriving at a Calculated Grade applies to: • Established Leaving Certificate – subjects • Leaving Certificate Applied – subjects, tasks and vocational specialisms • Leaving Certificate Vocational Programme – Link Modules. Other materials being published include • A guidance document for the education system and others in relation to the system of Calculated Grades is available on the Department’s website here:https://www.education.ie/en/Learners/Information/State-Examinations/a-guide-to-calculated-grades-for-leaving-certificate-students-2020.pdf • A FAQs document is also being published on gov.ie/LeavingCertificate for students, teachers and parents • Advice from the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) in relation to the wellbeing and mental health of Leaving Certificate students in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Ends, For further information please contact Brendan on 087-6528841

Suite of supports available to businesses impacted by COVID-19 – Griffin A suite of supports will be made available to businesses in Kerry impacted by COVID-19, according to Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin TD. Minister Griffin said: “I know that this is a worrying time for businesses and I want to assure them that my Fine Gael colleague, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys, her Department and agencies are working on their behalf to develop and deliver a range of supports to help them through this rapidly evolving situation. “Understandably, many businesses are very concerned about their cashflow in the coming weeks. I want to reassure them that there are a number of schemes that can help them meet their short-term working capital and liquidity needs. The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation have put a range of supports in place, including: • A €200m Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) Working Capital scheme for eligible businesses impacted by COVID-19. Loans of up to €1.5m will be available at reduced rates, with up to the first €500,000 unsecured. Applications can be made through the SBCI website https://sbci.gov.ie/ • A €200m Package for Enterprise Supports including a Rescue and Restructuring Scheme available through Enterprise Ireland for vulnerable but viable firms that need to restructure or transform their business. • The maximum loan available from MicroFinance Ireland will be increased from €25,000 to €50,000 as an immediate measure to specifically deal with exceptional circumstances that micro-enterprises – (sole traders and firms with up to 9 employees) – are facing. Applications can be made through the MFI website https://microfinanceireland.ie/ or through your local LEO. • The Credit Guarantee Scheme will be available to COVID-19 impacted firms through the Pillar Banks. Loans of up to €1m will be available at terms of up to 7 years.” Minister Griffin also highlighted the following supports for firms experiencing trading difficulties and short-term shocks: • The Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection and the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation will provide a joint First Responder support service through the Intreo Offices and development agencies, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland in each region to provide tailored supports for impacted firms, with objective of avoiding mass lay-offs and buying time for firms to work through the short-term disruptions. • Firms that need to reduce hours or days worked can avail of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Short Term Work Support by contacting their local Intreo Office, see https://www.gov.ie/en/service/c20e1b-short-time-work-support/ • The full range of Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Local Enterprise Office and Údarás na Gaeltachta grant supports will be available to firms to help with strategies to innovate, diversify markets and supply chains and to improve competitiveness. Minister Heather Humphreys said: “We are facing an unprecedented level of uncertainty, and businesses may want to access advice on how best to protect their businesses. A Finance in Focus grant of €7,200 will be available to Enterprise Ireland and Údarás na Gaeltachta clients that want to access consultancy support to undertake immediate finance reviews. “In addition, Local Enterprise Offices in every county will be providing vouchers from €2,500 up to €10,000 (with 50:50 match funding) to support business continuity preparedness, innovation and productivity. I encourage businesses to take advantage of these supports.” The Minister also welcomed the package of reforms for sick pay, illness benefit and supplementary benefit that is designed to ensure that employees and the self-employed can abide by medical advice to self-isolate where appropriate. Minister Humphreys concluded: “This situation is changing from day to day, and I will continue to work across Government, with the representative bodies and with the banking system to respond to ongoing developments in order to protect and support Irish businesses.” ENDS Notes to Editor • To be eligible for the SBCI COVID19 Working Capital Scheme, businesses must satisfy one of the COVID 19 criteria and one of the innovation criteria set out for the scheme. There is a broad suite of innovation criteria and this offers a wide range of opportunity for businesses to engage in the scheme. Guidelines will be provided on the SBCI website to help businesses determine if they are eligible for the scheme. • The Department through its development agencies will continue to provide information support and to business on Continuity Planning Checklist, which includes a practical checklist as well as links to relevant COVID-19 advice developed in conjunction with the HSE and Department of Health. • Enterprise Ireland will provide an online portal of advice and business continuity tools and webinars for business. • Enterprise Ireland with the Local Enterprise Offices will activate advisory clinics and mentoring support for impacted firms. • DEASP and the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) are coordinating information for employees and employers on their rights and responsibilities in the case of employees being absent from work due to isolation and/or infection. • Minister Humphreys is engaging with business representative bodies through the Enterprise Forum on COVID-19, which met today. • The Department is leading across government and with key stakeholders to ensure continuity of food supply and Minister Humphreys is chairing a forum of large retail multiples, retail representative bodies and grocery distributors and food manufacturers. • The Department is working with the European Commission on additional changes to State Aid de minimis rules that may be required to ensure the enterprise development agencies can respond effectively. For further information please contact Brendan on 087-6528841