Dáil debates

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

5:10 pm

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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It is proposed to take No. 11, motion re leave to introduce Supplementary Estimates - Votes 25, 37 and 39; No. 12, motion re referral of Supplementary Estimates - Votes 25, 37 and 39 - to select sub-committee; No. 17, statements on the report of the expert group on the judgment in the A, B and C v. Ireland case, to adjourn after the opening statements if not previously concluded; and No. 18, Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2012 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that: (1) the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. and shall adjourn not later than 10 p.m.; (2) matters may not be raised under the provisions of Standing Order 32, there shall be no Oral Questions taken on Wednesday, 5 or Thursday, 6 December and there shall be no Topical Issues taken on Wednesday, 5 December; (3) No. 11 and, subject to the agreement of No. 11, No. 12 shall be decided without debate and any divisions demanded thereon shall be taken forthwith; (4) the following arrangements shall apply in relation to No. 17: (i) the opening statements of a Minister or Minister of State and of the main spokespersons for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order and who may share their time, shall not exceed 20 minutes in each case; (ii) the statement of each other Member called upon shall not exceed 15 minutes, and such Members may share their time; and (iii) a Minister or Minister of State shall be called upon to make a statement in reply which shall not exceed ten minutes; (5) the Report and Final Stages of No. 18 shall be taken today and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion at 10 p.m. by one question which shall be put from the Chair and which shall, in relation to amendments, include only those set down or accepted by the Minister for Health; and (6) Private Members’ business shall be No. 79, motion re disability funding and services, which shall also take place immediately after the Order of Business tomorrow and which shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 90 minutes on that day.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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There are six proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal that the Dáil shall sit later than 9 p.m. and shall adjourn not later than 10 p.m. agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with the business of the Dáil tomorrow and Thursday agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 11, motion re leave to introduce Supplementary Estimates - Votes 25, 37 and 39, and No. 12, motion re referral of Supplementary Estimates - Votes 25, 37 and 39 - to select sub-committee agreed to?

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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We oppose these motions on the basis that they relate to three Supplementary Estimates, one of €685 million for the Department of Social Protection, another of €360 million for the Health Service Executive, and a third of €1 million for the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. We have serious issues with the Supplementary Estimate for the HSE. Last year, a fraudulent Estimate was introduced in the House which bore no relation to reality and has led to extraordinary difficulties within the health service. Given the fundamentally flawed nature of last year's Health Service Executive Estimate, we need a plenary debate on this Supplementary Estimate.

There have been savage cutbacks in home help hours in recent months because of the absence of a Supplementary Estimate coming through and because of the absence of a proper HSE Estimate in the beginning. People with disabilities were hit very hard as a result of the flawed nature of the Estimate. Personal assistants were taken from people who wanted to live independent lives, and many people had access to hospital and medical facilities delayed. During the week, I met nurses at the opening of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation centre in Cork. They told me they cannot advocate or articulate on behalf of patients who are at risk because of the HSE Estimate and the failure to provide adequate funding. They are gagged.

There is a request for a Supplementary Estimate of €360 million. Given the flawed nature of the Estimate given to the House last November, there is a need for a plenary discussion before the Estimate is referred to the sub-committee.

The Taoiseach denied vehemently to me some months ago on Leaders' Questions that there would be any Supplementary Estimate for the Department of Health. We have consistently raised the failure of the Minister in terms of his commitment on health insurers, that he would find more funding from pricing and that he would get €100 million from agency staff. None of that happened and that is why we oppose the motion as presented.

5:20 pm

Photo of Gerry AdamsGerry Adams (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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On 21 November, during the Order of Business, I asked the Taoiseach if he intended to introduce a Supplementary Estimate for the Department of Health and he refused to tell me; he refused to answer and dodged the question. Later on the same day, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform confirmed there would be a Supplementary Estimate for the Department of Health. That shows the difference in attitude in the Government parties towards the Minister for Health. The Taoiseach covers up while the Labour Party Minister comes clean. I do not know why the Taoiseach did not tell me. Did he not know? Was the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform speaking out of turn? How do we do business in this institution?

This is a €360 million addition to the Department's budget and while Sinn Féin supports the proper funding of the health service, this shows the Minister's original Estimate was complete fantasy. He has failed to recoup the costs of private patients in public beds despite a commitment to do so.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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We cannot debate the issue on the Order of Business.

Photo of Gerry AdamsGerry Adams (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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The savings on generic drugs have failed to materialise. This is not a good way to do business and if the Taoiseach was sitting on the Opposition benches, he would say the same. I asked a straight, legitimate question and the Taoiseach did not answer. A couple of hours later, when Deputy McDonald asked another Minister the same question, he answered it. Why can the Oireachtas not be told what is going on in the health services?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I note the opposition of Deputy Martin and Deputy Adams to the proposal. These matters will be referred to the committee on Tuesday and everyone will have the opportunity to talk about them there. The budget is tomorrow and there will be follow on debate with that on Thursday. Other matters are already laid out. The proposition here is to refer this to the Select Sub-Committee on Health next Tuesday. There will be ample opportunity then for people to discuss these Supplementary Estimates.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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The Taoiseach indicated that he would not oppose a debate on this.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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There cannot be a debate on this. I am putting the question.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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I am trying to reach a consensus on this. The Taoiseach said that Paddy wants to know but he is the last person who knows round here.

Question put: "That the proposal for dealing with Nos. 11 and 12 be agreed to."

The Dáil divided: Tá, 91; Níl, 47.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Emmet Stagg and Paul Kehoe; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Seán Ó Fearghaíl.

Níl

Question declared carried.

5:30 pm

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is the proposal for dealing with No. 17, statements on the report of the expert group on the judgment in the A, B and C v. Ireland case agreed? Agreed.

Is the proposal for dealing with No. 18, Order for Report, Report and Final Stages of the Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2012 agreed? Agreed.

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-South Leitrim, Independent)
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It is not agreed.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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I cannot recognise you, Deputy Naughten, because you are not a member of a party.

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-South Leitrim, Independent)
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We have very limited time to debate that matter tonight.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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I appreciate that.

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-South Leitrim, Independent)
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Giving an extra 15 or 20 minutes to it would allow us to address the issues that have been raised.

Photo of Timmy DooleyTimmy Dooley (Clare, Fianna Fail)
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The Deputy will have to re-join Fine Gael.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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I am sorry, Deputy, but I cannot create a precedent. I ask you to resume your seat.

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-South Leitrim, Independent)
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There are serious issues and we are now encouraging people to remain in hospital.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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I again ask the Deputy to resume his seat.

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-South Leitrim, Independent)
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Insurance companies will be paid on the basis that people remain in hospital.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Is the proposal for dealing with Private Members' business tomorrow agreed? Agreed.

5:35 pm

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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In the programme for Government, the Government made very strong commitments to Dáil reform. It is very regrettable, therefore, that the Supplementary Estimates for the Department of Social Protection and the Health Service Executive have been rushed through without any debate in plenary session. The Supplementary Estimate for the Department of Social Protection can only be explained by the fact that there are fewer people at work and more people out of work. This is why the €650 million is being sought. We could have done with a debate on that. In terms of the commitments in the programme for Government in respect of the social welfare Bill, could the Taoiseach indicate when he intends to bring that before the House?

The whistleblowers Bill is intended to give freedom to officials and people working in our public services to articulate issues. There is fear and anxiety across the health service in so far as nurses in particular are not allowed to articulate or advocate where patients are at risk. This has been communicated to me. I draw the Taoiseach's attention to the contradiction between driving through a whistleblowers Bill and at the same time gagging nurses and other medical personnel from speaking about what is happening in our hospitals and health service.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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This is not on the Order of Business.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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Can the Taoiseach indicate when we will get the whistleblowers Bill? In respect of the Government's commitment to change legislation in respect of Cabinet confidentiality-----

Photo of Michael Healy-RaeMichael Healy-Rae (Kerry South, Independent)
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What is that?

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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That is a very good point.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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We are not having a debate on that.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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The people would like to know where stands the commitment to Cabinet confidentiality because the public would dearly love to see Cabinet confidentiality. The absence of confidentiality in the Cabinet has scared the living daylights of people over recent weeks. They are in terror because Ministers cannot button it and keep their mouths closed and are predicting cut after cut.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Will everyone settle down and not get excited? It is bad for their health. We must yet switch on the Christmas tree lights so can we be given a chance for light on the subject? Could we deal with matters that are in order?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The Supplementary Estimate for the Department of Social Protection will be taken tomorrow in committee. The social welfare Bill will be taken next week and the protected disclosure in the public interest Bill will be published early next year.

Photo of Gerry AdamsGerry Adams (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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Tá mé ag cur ceiste faoi reachtaíocht atá fógraithe. Can the Taoiseach confirm when the finance (local property tax) Bill will be published? This is the Bill that Fianna Fáil was committed to bringing in after it signed up with the troika and to which it now says it is opposed. When will it be published and when will it be debated in the Dáil?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The Minister will outline the details. As I understand it - if I am incorrect on this, I will advise the Deputy further - the finance (local property tax) Bill will published on Thursday. Obviously, the announcement will be made tomorrow by the Minister for Finance. If that is not absolutely accurate, I will have it transmitted to the Deputy.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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We have three minutes left. We must move very quickly now. We will have no speeches.

Photo of James BannonJames Bannon (Longford-Westmeath, Fine Gael)
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Given the implications of passing the children's rights referendum recently, could the Taoiseach update me as to when the courts Bill, which hopefully will bring much needed transparency to child care and family proceedings, will come before the House?

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The courts Bill is being drafted at the moment and it will be early next year before it can be published.

Photo of Ray ButlerRay Butler (Meath West, Fine Gael)
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When is publication of the housing Bill expected? I read in the newspapers last week that 100,000 families are on the county council housing waiting lists.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy does not need to talk about the newspapers.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I can confirm that a great deal of work has been done on the heads of this Bill but it will be next year before it is published.

Photo of Michael Healy-RaeMichael Healy-Rae (Kerry South, Independent)
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The Central Bank issued a code of conduct for lending to small and medium-sized enterprises. Where does that leave us given what happened, which the Government Chief Whip knows about-----

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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What is the name of the Bill?

Photo of Michael Healy-RaeMichael Healy-Rae (Kerry South, Independent)
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I am coming to it. Last Wednesday-----

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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I ask the Deputy to be fair to his colleagues. We have one minute left.

Photo of Michael Healy-RaeMichael Healy-Rae (Kerry South, Independent)
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A group of thugs acting for an institution beat up a farmer and his 15 year old son last Wednesday night.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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I ask the Deputy not to get excited.

Photo of Michael Healy-RaeMichael Healy-Rae (Kerry South, Independent)
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That must be addressed.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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What Bill is the Deputy talking about?

Photo of Michael Healy-RaeMichael Healy-Rae (Kerry South, Independent)
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Central Bank legislation.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Central Bank Bill.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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I ask the Deputy to resume his seat.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Bill is on Committee Stage, if this is the Bill referred to by the Deputy.

Photo of Michael Healy-RaeMichael Healy-Rae (Kerry South, Independent)
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What about thugs repossessing-----

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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We do not deal with thugs on the Order of Business.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The Central Bank (Supervision and Enforcement) Bill is on Committee Stage at the moment.

Photo of Patrick NultyPatrick Nulty (Dublin West, Labour)
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I have asked the Taoiseach several times and he has yet to give me a date as to when the Government will bring forward a commitment to provide for a statutory right to collective bargaining, which is a core element of the programme for Government.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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I do not have an answer to the Deputy's question.

Photo of Róisín ShortallRóisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Independent)
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Could the Taoiseach give an assurance to the House that tomorrow's budget has been fully poverty-proofed? Will he undertake to publish this poverty proofing as part of the budgetary documentation, which has been the practice over recent years?

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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I do not think that is in order on the Order of Business.

Photo of Róisín ShortallRóisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Independent)
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When we can expect publication of the finance Bill and when is that scheduled to be taken?

Photo of Barry CowenBarry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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Reilly-proofed.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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The finance Bill will be published in the new year. Obviously, the best attempts are always made to proof all budgets on all fronts, although it is never possible to do these things perhaps as one might like.

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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We saw that.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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As I said during Leaders' Questions, this budget will be presented as an opportunity to move the country further towards retrieval of our economic sovereignty and independence and create opportunities for investment and job opportunities and creation.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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I call on Deputy Broughan.

Photo of Róisín ShortallRóisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Independent)
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Perhaps the Taoiseach might answer the question. I asked him whether he can give an assurance to the House that tomorrow's budget has been fully poverty-proofed as is required and as successive Governments have committed to doing.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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The Deputy cannot do that on the Order of Business.

Photo of Róisín ShortallRóisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Independent)
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Maybe the best attempt is not enough. Will it be poverty-proofed in a professional way, as has been done before, and will the Government publish that documentation?

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Through the Chair. I am calling on Deputy Broughan to speak.

Photo of Enda KennyEnda Kenny (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Mayo, Fine Gael)
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We are very conscious of those who are vulnerable.

Photo of Róisín ShortallRóisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Independent)
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That is not what I asked the Taoiseach.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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This is the Order of Business. I ask Deputy Shortall to resume her seat.

Photo of Róisín ShortallRóisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Independent)
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There has been a commitment by successive Governments to poverty-proof all initiatives coming from Government. I am asking the Taoiseach whether tomorrow's budget has been poverty-proofed. Can he give that assurance?

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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I ask Deputy Shortall to resume her seat. The Taoiseach cannot give her an assurance on the Order of Business.

Photo of Róisín ShortallRóisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Independent)
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I asked the Taoiseach a straightforward question.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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I will not ask Deputy Shortall a third time. I am asking the Deputy to resume her seat and she refuses to recognise the Chair. It is out of order. I call Deputy Broughan.

Photo of Róisín ShortallRóisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Independent)
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It is a reasonable question to ask. Has the Government poverty-proofed the budget?

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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I will cut it off now because we are over time. The Deputy must make up her mind. Has Deputy Broughan a question?

Photo of Tommy BroughanTommy Broughan (Dublin North East, Labour)
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Yes.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Will he put it?

Photo of Róisín ShortallRóisín Shortall (Dublin North West, Independent)
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Has the Government poverty-proofed the budget?

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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We will move on. The Deputy must wait until tomorrow.