Tuesday, 6 February 2018
Ceisteanna - Questions
Beginning with the sectoral analyses with regard to Brexit, last week I listed the documents and studies that have been published already. I think there have been 20 or 30 and more are forthcoming. We need to acknowledge that they are largely speculative. We do not actually know what the new relationship between the UK and the EU is going to be or whether there will be a different relationship between Britain and Ireland specifically. I think we will have a better idea in that regard in the next few weeks. The most important thing and our priority at the moment is to ensure that there is a transition period so that we actually have time as individuals, as a Government and as businesses to prepare for any long-term permanent changes that may take place in the relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom.
In terms of my speech to the European Parliament, it very much reflected my own views on the future of Europe but was also in line with Government policy. The draft and text of the speech were shared with other Ministers and there was certainly nothing I said about tax or the multiannual financial framework with which the Minister, Deputy Paschal Donohoe, would disagree. Nothing I said about the future of Europe contained anything with which the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney, or the Minster of State, Helen McEntee, would disagree. On Brexit, my words absolutely and totally reflected Government policy and priorities.
My Department is currently co-ordinating two information campaigns. One is the Healthy Ireland information campaign, which is a cross-Government initiative to encourage people to take charge of their health, improve their health as individuals and also to improve the health of our society. Another campaign that is now under way targets the self-employed and informs them of the supports that the Government provides for setting up businesses, the tax changes we are making to bring about tax equality for the self-employed and also the new benefits we have extended to the self-employed in recent years, such as paternity benefit, dental treatment benefit, invalidity pension on a non-means tested basis for the first time-----