Weekly Round-Up

I began the week with an evidence session of the Public Affairs and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) on the propriety of governance in light of Greensill. This week we heard from Sir Peter Riddell, a Former Commissioner for Public Appointments. It became clear that there are significant aspects of the commissioning process for important roles within public life that rely on the strength of personality of some senior civil servants. Standards in public life are important. We need to know that ministers are appointing people to public posts because they have the experience and skills to perform the role well, not because they could prove useful to the ministers themselves. It’s clear we need a much more independent element involved in these appointments.

It was a pleasure to meet with colleagues for the AGM of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ireland and the Irish in Britain. We were joined by Adrian O’Neill, the Irish Ambassador who talked about the Embassy’s current work and future priorities. We want to see good links between Ireland the UK continue – we are close countries bound by history and culture and it is important that we consolidate those links rather than let them be tarnished. We were also pleased to be joined by representatives of the London Irish Centre to hear more about their rebuild project. The London Irish Centre is such a fantastic institution in London, providing information on support and logistics for Irish people in the UK as well as supporting them to retain their culture and even learn more through language classes, the book club, and dance classes.

I was able to join Vicky Foxcroft on a visit to Jewish disabilities charities Langdon and Kisharon. Today Langdon and Kisharon offer support to both children and adults with disabilities so that they can learn the skills they need to live independently and to pursue their ambitions. They also work to raise awareness among the community about the issues disabled people face when getting out and about. It’s so important that we make our communities accessible to everyone – everyone has something to offer and they should be given every opportunity to contribute to society and to lead fulfilling lives. Access issues should not hinder anyone in participating in the activities they love or meeting the people they enjoy being with.

It was an absolute pleasure to welcome constituents to Westminster this week. They had a tour of Parliament and it was lovely to meet with them and hear their views. It’s so important that constituents are given access to the heart of our democracy at Westminster and if any other constituents would like a tour around Parliament, please do get in touch with my office.

It was great to visit St Brendan’s College this week to hear about their plans to develop their sports facilities, and look at the support they have in place for students. St Brendan’s are particularly supportive of students with disabilities or difficulties and conditions that require support in order to get the most out of their education. It’s so fantastic to see inclusive education and the benefits that it brings to all students within the college. Our schools and colleges are where we teach our young people to develop the skills they need for life – that includes the academic skills but also empathy and an understanding of the diversity that exists within our community and how to talk to one another. That’s such an important skill and it’s fantastic to hear that these young people are developing into very impressive young adults.

It was also a joy to visit the Jessop Park Development. Jessop Park is a great new development that has been described as an eco-site with community orchard, wildlife corridor, and natural play areas. The Covid pandemic has only highlighted how important it is that we incorporate green outside space into our housing developments – it is important for our physical health as well as our mental health and that of our children. From the plants to clean our air, to improve wildlife diversity, and to provide the green space for us to relax in, these eco-sites are a fantastic innovation and I hope to see more in the area.

If there are issues you want to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing Karin.smyth.mp@parliament.uk or by calling 0117 953 3575.