Dáil debates

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Ceisteanna - Questions

Taoiseach's Meetings and Engagements

3:55 pm

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I propose to take Questions Nos. 10 to 15, inclusive, together.

The Government recognises the importance of regular and open engagement with all sectors of society. As we enter the early stages of recovery from the pandemic and as we work towards reopening our economy and society we need to work together on a shared common purpose. This is particularly important as we face the enormous challenges ahead, including climate action, digital transition, disruption to the labour market and housing.

There are many different fora in place for these conversations, including the National Economic Dialogue, the National Economic and Social Council, various sectoral groups and initiatives such as the citizens' assemblies. There is also regular bilateral engagement at official and ministerial level, of which I am very supportive.

As committed to in the programme for Government, a social dialogue unit has been established within the economic division of my Department. Its initial focus is on supporting and enhancing engagement with the social partners, including through existing mechanisms such as the labour employer economic forum, LEEF, which deals with labour market issues. LEEF helped ensure useful discussions between Government, employers and trade unions during the Covid-19 pandemic and I chaired the most recent meeting in February where, along with Brexit and Covid-19 issues, we discussed ways to strengthen social dialogue and engagement with civil society and representative groups. A further meeting of LEEF will take place shortly.

In addition, I met with the environmental pillar on 21 May, and will meet with the community and voluntary pillar and the farming and agriculture pillar in the coming weeks, to discuss how social dialogue can be strengthened and to exchange views on issues pertaining to those particular sectors. We had a very progressive and constructive engagement with the environmental pillar on a whole range of issues from climate change legislation to the circular economy and biodiversity.

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