Dáil debates

Tuesday, 9 July 2024

Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions


2:45 pm

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)

I have to take a deep breath because the start of Deputy Shanahan's contribution was really out of order. It was fundamentally out of order because I do not ever think there is a justification for the hatred some Members of this House have experienced or for the intimidation and attacks they have experienced, online, off-line, at their homes and towards their families. I would not wish it on my worst enemy. I defend the right of any Member of this House to not ever have to encounter that. Although it is the Deputy's right to say whatever he wants in this House, I do not ever want to hear in this House some attempt to justify the hate, bile and toxicity. The Deputy should call it out and I hope when he next stands to his feet he will condemn it. I know him to be a decent person and I do not believe he meant it, but that feeds the online anger. That is exactly what it feeds. The Deputy said we were coming in here and "gormlessly" calling it out. I hope the Deputy has never had to encounter what some of us have. I hope he never has to.

This is a Government that proudly supports Waterford. I look forward to taking that case to the people. I am looking forward to winning our seat back in Waterford too. We are a Government that is investing substantially in the south east, substantially in Waterford city and substantially in the county. A €30 million flood protection scheme has been put in place to protect businesses and residents along the city's quays. There is a new state-of-the-art fire station following an investment of €10 million. There has been investment of €30 million in the expansion for the court house. The old disused railway line between the picturesque town of Dungarvan, a beautiful place, and Waterford city is now a first-class greenway following investment of a further €25 million. There has been €37 million allocated in URDF and active travel funding for the city centre regeneration. A commitment of €170 million has been made by the Government for the North Quays enabling infrastructure. We have delivered a university for the south east, on which we continue to engage to make sure it reaches its full potential. The Minister, Deputy O'Donovan, will make progress in relation to advancing the Waterford Crystal site, the delivery of student accommodation and a PPP bundle as well. As the Minister of State, Deputy Butler, has outlined in this House on a number of occasions, we have provided significant additional funding in supporting the move towards 24-7 cardiac services at University Hospital Waterford. There is an awful lot of good stuff happening in Waterford. I know that when I go to Waterford. I was there only a couple of weeks ago and look forward to being back there again. I am proud of the Government's commitment. The Deputy will see in the draft national planning framework, which will be published in the coming days, that we want to go out and engage with communities and local authorities right across the country. The Deputy will see an ongoing level of commitment to the regions in terms of balanced regional development as well.

Please do not misrepresent our commitment in relation to Waterford. Yes, sometimes projects take time and the Deputy and I debate where they are at but I can tell him that we are going to deliver in cardiac care, deliver in respect of the university, and we are going to continue to deliver in relation to Waterford city and county.


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