Dáil debates

Thursday, 9 October 2014

12:25 pm

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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It is proposed to take No. a15, motion re sittings and business of the Dáil; No. b15, motion re proposed authorisation by Dáil Éireann for the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission to instruct legal representatives; No. 1, Civil Registration (Amendment) Bill 2014 Seanad - Second Stage (resumed); and No. 7, Irish Collective Asset Management Vehicles Bill 2014 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage.

It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that Nos. a15 and b15 shall be decided without debate; in respect of the sitting of the Dáil on Tuesday, 14 October 2014, the following arrangements shall apply: the Dáil shall sit at 2.20 p.m., shall sit later than 9 p.m. and the motion for the General Financial Resolution shall be moved not later than midnight whereupon the Dáil shall adjourn forthwith; subject to the return of the writs, new Members shall be introduced at 2.20 p.m.; and the Budget Statement and the financial motions by the Minister for Finance [2014] shall be taken at 2.30 p.m., and the following arrangements shall apply: the opening statements of the Minister for Finance and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform shall not exceed 45 minutes in each case; the statements of the main spokespersons for finance and public expenditure and reform for Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order, shall not exceed an aggregate of 60 minutes in each case, and such Members may share their time; and following the statements, the sitting shall be suspended for 30 minutes.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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There are two proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with Nos. a15 and b15, without debate, agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal regarding the arrangements for the sitting of the Dáil on Tuesday, 14 October 2014, agreed to? Agreed.

Photo of Billy KelleherBilly Kelleher (Cork North Central, Fianna Fail)
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The Governor of the Central Bank announced his intention to make it a requirement for home buyers to save up at least 20% of the value of the properties being bought, in other words, a 20% deposit. In light of the escalating house prices in Dublin, the housing crisis in parts of the country and the many families that have fallen into homelessness, will the Tánaiste agree to a debate on this issue? Given the facts that families are unable to afford homes and we are facing into an inflationary cycle again, has the Government conducted an evaluation of the Governor's proposal and will it make a formal submission to the discussion phase that is under way until the end of the year?

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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I thank the Deputy. The proposed-----

Photo of Billy KelleherBilly Kelleher (Cork North Central, Fianna Fail)
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I am sorry, but I also wished to ask about when the redress for women who were in certain institutions Bill would be before the Dáil.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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With regard to the proposals by the Central Bank, as the Deputy knows the Central Bank is independent of Government and these Houses. He will appreciate that.

Photo of Billy KelleherBilly Kelleher (Cork North Central, Fianna Fail)
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Look at where that got us.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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I understand that the Central Bank is going to hold a consultation process, which will take a number of months. Everybody is concerned, particularly young couples and individuals who have perhaps been working for up to ten years and are interested in buying houses, be it in the Dublin area or around the country. We know from the evidence regarding, in particular, the two big banks that the number of mortgages being granted is increasing significantly.

It is a very important social issue. The submissions to the Central Bank and its consultation procedure will go ahead independent of this House but I would have no difficulty with the Whips discussing whether, at a certain point in time, it might be appropriate to have a debate. In the course of next week most of the time will be taken up with the budget but I would certainly be open to that suggestion. It is a very important issue. The Whips can address it.

Photo of Billy KelleherBilly Kelleher (Cork North Central, Fianna Fail)
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What of the redress Bill?

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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That is later in this session.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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I wish to raise two issues. First, why has there been such a delay in the reformed and consolidated domestic violence legislation? We have been raising this matter since the Government came to office in 2011, but there is inexplicably still no sign of it. When might we expect to see it?

Second, the Tánaiste last week indicated that the draft terms of reference of the commission of inquiry into mother and baby homes had been distributed to the relevant Departments. Will she update the Dáil on that matter? Which Departments have been sent the draft terms, when are they expected to report back, what precise form will other consultations, particularly with groups representing victims and survivors, take, what form of consultation will take place with Opposition parties and when will we finally see the inquiry's terms of reference?

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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In respect of the first item relating to domestic violence, I understand that it is for next year. In respect of the terms of reference of the mother and baby homes, I outlined to the House last week that the terms of reference had just gone to the relevant Departments, namely, those that are involved in the interim report in particular and any other Department that would have a concern, be it historical or current, about the issue. I do not have an exact timeline for how long it will take the relevant Departments to report back and comment, if they do, in respect of the draft terms of reference, but I expect them to do it in a reasonably progressive timeframe.

I expect that when that work has been completed, in conjunction with the judge who has been appointed, the Government will be able to move forward. I have told Deputy McDonald that I believe the critical point is to get the terms of reference right. As she is aware, there have been extensive consultations with interested groups and, alongside this, there also will be changes in legislation regarding the tracing of information. There are several different issues that are concurrent to this inquiry and I hope to see it in the not too distant future. I do not have an exact date at this point in time.

12:35 pm

Photo of Joan CollinsJoan Collins (Dublin South Central, United Left)
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The Construction Contracts Act 2013 was signed into law on 29 July 2013 but still awaits enactment. Can the Tánaiste provide a date on which it will commence?

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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I do not have a date on that. I understand it probably will be next year.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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A number of lending agencies have had their loan books sold to third parties, some of which are regulated and others of which are not. Following this sale, there appears to be a difference in the procedure being followed which does not appear to be in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Department of Finance and the Central Bank, as well as the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste in this House. Can the Tánaiste indicate when the relevant legislation governing the sale of loan books to unregulated third parties will be introduced?

Photo of Brian WalshBrian Walsh (Galway West, Independent)
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On the same issue, one such lending institution that is engaged in this process has announced recently it is contemplating the sale of loans it had extended to small and medium-sized enterprises. This is causing much concern and anxiety to some of the small businesses concerned. On the same lines as Deputy Durkan, when is publication of that legislation on the sale of loan books to unregulated third parties expected?

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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My understanding is it is expected later this session.

Photo of Noel GrealishNoel Grealish (Galway West, Independent)
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Now that the students are back in college and a lot of parties are taking place in many houses in estates, when does the Tánaiste expect the noise nuisance Bill, which is No. 78 on the Government legislative programme, to come before the Dáil?

Photo of Aengus Ó SnodaighAengus Ó Snodaigh (Dublin South Central, Sinn Fein)
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The poor students. They are not the only people to have parties.

Photo of Patrick O'DonovanPatrick O'Donovan (Limerick, Fine Gael)
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It could apply in here.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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There is no date for publication as yet.

Photo of James BannonJames Bannon (Longford-Westmeath, Fine Gael)
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The findings of the Mahon tribunal exposed what happened when vested interests became involved in the planning system. It showed how that corrupted and undermined that system. When can Members expect the planning and development Bill providing for the implementation of the planning recommendations in the Mahon tribunal to come before the House?

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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I assure the Deputy that a lot of work is ongoing in respect of that particular proposed Bill. While there may be some chance it will come during this session, in practice, because of the complexity of some of the issues involved that the Deputy will appreciate, I expect it probably will be next year.

Photo of Tommy BroughanTommy Broughan (Dublin North East, Independent)
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When Members get their budget books next Tuesday, will there be a separate Vote for the Office of Tánaiste? Is it the case that the Office of the Tánaiste is returning to the sort of structures that obtained when former Deputy Spring was Tánaiste?

When will the social welfare Bill come before Members? When the Tánaiste and I entered this House, the Deputy behind her, Deputy Stagg, led a wonderful campaign against the dirty dozen, that is, a set of savage cuts imposed by the former Deputy and Minister Mr. McCreevy. Since 2011, however, we have had a dirty ten dozen or perhaps 12 dozen.

Photo of Barry CowenBarry Cowen (Laois-Offaly, Fianna Fail)
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Thirty-two dozen.

Photo of Tommy BroughanTommy Broughan (Dublin North East, Independent)
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Will the Tánaiste take the opportunity afforded by the introduction of the social welfare Bill to start to reverse this?

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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That is a separate issue. The Deputy is aware of that. The Tánaiste should deal with what is in order.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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First, in respect of the Tánaiste's office, I simply have taken over an inherited arrangement. There have been no changes although there may be fewer people. Perhaps I could give the Deputy an exact comparison but there have been no substantial changes. The Deputy was speaking of the establishment and I occupy the same office.

Photo of Tommy BroughanTommy Broughan (Dublin North East, Independent)
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There is no Tánaiste's Vote.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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No, through the Chair please.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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Even going back almost 15 years, I do not think there has been one. I believe it always has been part of the Department of the Taoiseach.

On the social welfare Bill, there will be a book in respect of the budget setting out all the details and, like all Deputies in the House, the Deputy will be able to see that. On social welfare, as the Deputy is aware, the Government has got many people back to work, the consequence of which has been significant savings on social welfare.

Photo of Tommy BroughanTommy Broughan (Dublin North East, Independent)
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However, there have been a lot of cuts.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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Moreover, as the Deputy is aware, a consequence of this is the Government has been able to protect core rates and do what no other country affected by the kind of difficulties this country has experienced could do. As Professor John FitzGerald of the ESRI has noted, income inequality has actually decreased in Ireland, notwithstanding the dreadful recession.

Photo of Tommy BroughanTommy Broughan (Dublin North East, Independent)
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The Tánaiste should not believe the ESRI.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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This is reflective of what the Labour Party has achieved in government.

Photo of Tom FlemingTom Fleming (Kerry South, Independent)
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I seek an update on the proposed technological universities Bill. In particular, I refer to the proposed amalgamation of Cork Institute of Technology and the Institute of Technology, Tralee. This assessment and evaluation has been under way for the past two years and it must be expedited to facilitate the upgrading of these two excellent institutes of technology to university status.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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A great deal of work has been going on in this regard. I used to work in that sector as a senior lecturer and, consequently, I follow it quite closely. It is making strong progress and I expect to see the legislation next year. As the Deputy is aware, there is a lot of welcome investment in the institute of technology sector nationwide. My understanding is that Tralee is doing very well. It is attracting many students and is strengthening its courses, which sounds good in the context of the assessments that come as part of the process.

Photo of Tom FlemingTom Fleming (Kerry South, Independent)
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That was not replied to. Tralee has excellent standards.

Photo of Robert DowdsRobert Dowds (Dublin Mid West, Labour)
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On a point of order, I ask that Deputy McDonald correct the record of the House, because she indicated that people were going to be cut off from their water supply and this is not correct. I ask her to correct the record of the House.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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No, it is a point of debate. I call Deputy Mac Lochlainn.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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A Cheann Comhairle, I would be happy to clarify.

Photo of Pádraig Mac LochlainnPádraig Mac Lochlainn (Donegal North East, Sinn Fein)
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On the Garda Síochána (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill 2014, it has been reported today that the Government is advertising the position of chairman-designate of the proposed new policing authority. The new chief commissioner-designate of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, Ms Emily Logan, appeared yesterday before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality. She made clear the very rigorous process of public appointment independence under which she was appointed. Will the same process applied to the chairman-designate of the policing authority to ensure that, from the outset, it is clearly independent of Government in its responsibilities?

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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That is not strictly in order. I will, however, be generous and allow an answer, if one is available.

Photo of Pádraig Mac LochlainnPádraig Mac Lochlainn (Donegal North East, Sinn Fein)
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I thank the Ceann Comhairle.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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As the Deputy is aware, the policing authority legislation is something the Labour Party in particular has pioneered in this jurisdiction and we have taken on board a lot of valuable experience in respect of the Northern experience. This is being prioritised and there is an agreement in place that this legislation will come before the Dáil before the end of this year. A lot of work is being done on this and I am pleased to note that good progress is being made and this will provide for vigorous structures. I cannot provide the detail but I expect this to be introduced before the end of the year.

Photo of Pádraig Mac LochlainnPádraig Mac Lochlainn (Donegal North East, Sinn Fein)
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The question was not answered in respect of the chairman-designate and whether the process will be fully independent. It is not a point about the Government but about the public appointments process.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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I do not have the detailed legislation before me but-----

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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That is a separate issue.

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Minister, Department of Social Protection; Dublin West, Labour)
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----- as for the chairman of such a body, or rather, the chairperson of such a body as one should not assume it is a chairman, I expect the appointment of someone of significant calibre, as with the appointment of Ms Logan to her new role.

Photo of Robert DowdsRobert Dowds (Dublin Mid West, Labour)
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A Cheann Comhairle, are you going to give Deputy McDonald the opportunity to correct the record?

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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No, listen-----

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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I am happy to so do.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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These points are made in the course of debate and it is up to people-----

Photo of Billy KelleherBilly Kelleher (Cork North Central, Fianna Fail)
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Yes, it is cut and thrust.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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I believe Deputy Dowds has asked if the Ceann Comhairle will afford me 20 seconds.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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I am not going into that whole issue again.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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No, but I am happy to correct.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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The Deputy withdraws it. Fair play.

12:45 pm

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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I correct the record of the House to reflect that the Government and Tánaiste will reduce people's water to a trickle if they do not meet this-----

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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Go way out of that.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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It is a Sinn Féin lie.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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-----which to my way of thinking is the equivalent of cutting off their water supply.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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Deputy MacDonald, please resume your seat.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
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Reducing people's water to a trickle - the point stands.

Photo of Emmet StaggEmmet Stagg (Kildare North, Labour)
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It is a Sinn Féin lie.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Ceann Comhairle; Dún Laoghaire, Ceann Comhairle)
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This is farcical. We will move on.