Donate now

KildareStreet is supported only by donations from people like you.

This site has served over 1,820,000 people since the 2011 election with zero government or institutional funding.
Please make a monthly or one-off donation to support KildareStreet.com in the future.

Dáil debates

Thursday, 1 June 2017

12:50 pm

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I ask Deputies for their co-operation. We have 15 minutes. Custom and practice is that the leader or the representative of the party asks a question. There are already six leaders or representatives, which could take up most of the time. After that, there are 16 Members indicating. There will be very little time. If we get to that point, Deputies can trust me to do a draw because everybody put their hands up at the one time. I call Deputy Byrne on behalf of Fianna Fáil.

Photo of Thomas ByrneThomas Byrne (Meath East, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Could the Tánaiste enlighten the House as to the status of the Technological Universities Bill? There have been many complaints among the wider public that the Dáil has not passed much legislation. I believe it is a legitimate complaint. New politics is blamed.

However, in this case and many others, the root cause is a complete lack of engagement with other parties, in particular Fianna Fáil, on various Bills. I had engagement with the Minister for Education and Skills about a year ago and have asked for further engagement but there are many people in the higher education sector, such as DIT, which I visited with my party leader last week, who simply do not know what is going on and are left in limbo. The Dáil has shown itself to be willing to legislate if it can but in many instances, it depends on the Government to bring forward that legislation or, at the very least, to engage with us on what it expects to be in the legislation.

1:00 pm

Photo of David CullinaneDavid Cullinane (Waterford, Sinn Fein)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

My question is on the same matter.

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

That is circumventing but I will give the Deputy 30 seconds unless Deputy McDonald wants to give him her slot.

Photo of David CullinaneDavid Cullinane (Waterford, Sinn Fein)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

No, it is the same issue. The last time I raised this issue was a number of weeks ago when the Minister was in the Chamber. He said there was some agreement with the TUI and that he hoped he could progress the Bill. He might be aware that since then, Waterford Institute of Technology has gone into a three-year cost recovery programme and there are ongoing negotiations with trade unions regarding the curtailment of hours for programmes and the closing of some campuses in the summer months. It is of real concern to the staff and students in the institutes of technology so could the Minister comment on that?

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I call Deputy Brassil.

Photo of John BrassilJohn Brassil (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Tralee Institute of Technology is at a very advanced stage-----

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

On a point of order, there are many backbenchers-----

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

If it is a point of order-----

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

----- in this establishment who never get a chance to ask any questions.

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

That is not correct. The Deputy should not make any accusations or allegations.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

The worst thing that can happen in this place is to be a Government backbencher.

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Deputy Barrett has been Ceann Comhairle.

Photo of Seán BarrettSeán Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

It is an absolute disgrace. Everybody else can speak-----

Photo of John BrassilJohn Brassil (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I remind Deputy Barrett that I am as entitled to speak in this Chamber as he is and I would appreciate some respect.

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

All I will say is that I have a good memory. Deputies Durkan and McLoughlin, who always get a fair share, will be in the hat if there is any time but we are wasting time now. It is not a point of order and Deputy Barrett should know that.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Deputy Barrett can bring it to the reform committee.

Photo of John BrassilJohn Brassil (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Tralee Institute of Technology and Cork Institute of Technology are at a very advanced stage of a merger that is waiting on the Technological Universities Bill.

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I am sure Deputies Durkan and McLoughlin are well able to protect themselves.

Photo of John BrassilJohn Brassil (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

The merger is now in jeopardy as a result of the stalling of this legislation and I ask that it be progressed and completed immediately.

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin Bay North, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I thank Deputy Brassil for raising this issue, which I have discussed on numerous occasions in the Dáil. This Bill was on Committee Stage in the House and is being restored to the Order Paper. Deputies will recall that in the last Dáil, very significant problems arose that led to it not being possible to complete that Bill. I regard this Bill as being very important in terms of providing a framework for regional educational development. I believe we need stronger regions with stronger institutions at regional level to drive economic and social development. We have sought to resolve the issues that prevented it from moving forward. Some of those were industrial relations issues. I indicated previously that we had discussions with the TUI. We have a set of proposals that are going to the TUI membership and, hopefully, that will remove one of the major obstacles lying in its way. If we can conclude that, we will move forward to bring that legislation back into the House. It is on Committee Stage but there is no pointing in coming into committee with proposals if they will be scuppered at the very first opportunity. I share the Deputy's anxiety to move this forward and will provide a briefing for Deputy Thomas Byrne and anyone else who wants one.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Yesterday we heard extraordinary accounts from senior civilian executives of An Garda Síochána in respect of the Garda Training College in Templemore. To say that the set up has been reflected as shambolic and toxic is to use very mild terms. On the Tánaiste's behalf, the Taoiseach committed that she would come to the Dáil to make a statement about the irregularities, malpractice and possibly corruption in Templemore and that she would also take questions from Members on those matters.

So far, she has failed to do so. As we advance in our inquiries, it becomes more apparent that the Garda Commissioner, Nóirín O'Sullivan, and the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality have very serious questions to answer. When will the Tánaiste present herself to the Dáil to make a comprehensive statement on the issues at the Garda College in Templemore and take questions from Members?

1:10 pm

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I have answered many questions about this issue. As I said, I will take any action required on my part once the Committee of Public Accounts has reported on its examination. To be very clear, without prejudicing any individual which would be grossly unfair, nobody is above the law and if any wrongdoing is uncovered, it will be investigated.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I did not ask that question.

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Let the Tánaiste speak.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I just want to know when the Minister-----

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I have no control over her response.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

The Minister just needs to name a day.

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

The clock is ticking and others are going to be deprived.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

It is really important that the Committee of Public Accounts complete its work before any further public comment is made.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I just want to an answer to the question.

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I have no control over the Tánaiste response.

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Dublin Central, Sinn Fein)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

It is very distressing.

Photo of Jan O'SullivanJan O'Sullivan (Limerick City, Labour)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

It is appropriate that the Tánaiste is taking my question because she was instrumental in the holding of the children's rights referendum and ensuring the rights of children were inserted into the Constitution when she was Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. After 12 homeless families, including 30 children, had been sent to Garda stations last week in Dublin - there were reports that at least one of them may have slept in a park - Mr. Mike Allen of Focus Ireland pointed out on "Morning Ireland" that there was no legislative framework in place to look after the rights of children when their families were homeless. This morning I published a Bill on behalf of the Labour Party to address that issue, but I want to ask the Minister if the Government has plans to bring forward legislation to ensure that, when local authorities are presented with a homeless family, the children will not just be treated as dependants of somebody who is homeless, that their rights will be protected.

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I will answer that question, if I can. What happened last week should not have happened and we have put measures in place to make sure it will not happen again. We do not need legislation to provide homes for people. There is very significant expenditure by the Government to provide appropriate levels of both temporary emergency accommodation for families and individuals and social housing to ultimately provide long-term solutions for the many families concerned. That cannot happen overnight, but there are construction teams on-site 24 hours a day, putting in place facilities to significantly improve the State's response to the problem of family homelessness. I have set very ambitious targets in the timelines needed and that is my focus.

Photo of Jan O'SullivanJan O'Sullivan (Limerick City, Labour)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

The onus should be on the local authority, not the family.

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I ask a representative of the Rural Independent Group to speak. Its members may sort it out themselves.

Photo of Danny Healy-RaeDanny Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I will take it.

Photo of Michael Healy-RaeMichael Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

No, I am taking this one.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Michael Healy-RaeMichael Healy-Rae (Kerry, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

The programme for Government refers to driving down the cost of providing new treatments, drugs, etc. It asserts that the Government will examine opportunities to leverage purchasing power. The Tánaiste is aware that yesterday 21 patients from the Alpha-1 group who are receiving Respreeza on a compassionate basis came to voice their concerns. They are living on borrowed time because of the simple fact that they do not have a surety that this much-needed drug will be provided. Will the Tánaiste, in conjunction with the Minister for Health, please see after them? They have come here twice in the past few weeks.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

The Deputy has seen the actions of the Minister for Health, Deputy Simon Harris, to provide the drug Orkambi, for example. He has taken a decision to make the drug available. The development of new drugs and the state's capacity to make them available are very big issue for governments, not just in Ireland but internationally. I will ask the Minister to liaise directly with the Deputy on the particular drug to which he has referred.

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Taoisigh and Ministers continue to walk away from the Dáil with massive, gold-plated, guaranteed pensions - it has happened under this and previous Fianna Fáil-led Governments - yet the relentless attack on the pension entitlements of workers continues. The latest attack is in Irish Life, a company that the Government sold and that has remitted €370 million to the parent company in the past two years.

As if that was not bad enough, it is now taking away the defined benefit pension scheme of 3,400 pensioners.

1:20 pm

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Promised legislation?

Photo of Richard Boyd BarrettRichard Boyd Barrett (Dún Laoghaire, People Before Profit Alliance)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Exactly. I want to ask when the social welfare and pensions Bill, the general scheme of which has been published, will come forward and will the Government deal with this assault on the pension entitlements of workers, such as the Irish Life workers, in defined benefit pension schemes who paid in good faith and expect a decent pension?

Photo of Joan CollinsJoan Collins (Dublin South Central, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

It is at committee today.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

There is pre-legislative scrutiny on the social welfare and pensions Bill today. We see the story this morning in regard to defined benefit pensions. There is increasing pressure on all of these funds. The Department of Social Protection and the Department of Finance are clearly concerned about this. No doubt it is an issue that will be discussed in the pre-legislative scrutiny on that proposed Bill.

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

A Fine Gael representative. Decide for yourselves, Deputy McLoughlin or Deputy Durkan.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

You are always magnanimous, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I cannot have it both ways. I am being fair and I am being criticised.

Photo of Tony McLoughlinTony McLoughlin (Sligo-Leitrim, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I will be brief and I will allow half of my time to-----

(Interruptions).

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Promised legislation?

Photo of Tony McLoughlinTony McLoughlin (Sligo-Leitrim, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

The programme for Government commits to doubling the number of apprenticeships nationwide by 2020. On that basis, given the importance of apprenticeships for creating and retaining jobs in the north-west region, can the Tánaiste advise the House as to the progress being made in this regard and what sectors in particular we will focus on?

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin Bay North, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I congratulate Sligo for winning the new insurance apprenticeship, which is a very successful programme delivered online by the Sligo Institute of Technology. We have approximately 20 apprenticeships in the pipeline in new areas. These includes modern manufacturing, insurance, financial services and the hospitality industry right across a broad segment of sectors. We have a fresh call-out for new employer groups to come forward with proposals for apprenticeships.

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

That is all of the leaders. I have time for two questions. The two names that have come out here are Deputies Niamh Smyth and Joan Collins, and that is it.

Photo of Niamh SmythNiamh Smyth (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

In the programme for Government, the Government has given a commitment with regard to ensuring a strong and visible police force in every community. Figures show that the lowest number of Garda recruits have been assigned to rural areas. In Cavan-Monaghan, we have a mere 21 new recruits. With such low numbers, how are the goals outlined in the programme for Government being met? A strong and visible force implies that there are a proportionate number of gardaí to civilians in the area.

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Promised legislation?

Photo of Niamh SmythNiamh Smyth (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

It is part of the programme for Government. I am asking for the appropriate number of gardaí in regard to the size of the community in rural areas. We are as susceptible to crime as those in urban areas are. I would like the Tánaiste's views on that.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

It was the Deputy's party that closed down Templemore.

Photo of Robert TroyRobert Troy (Longford-Westmeath, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

This Government kept it closed for three years.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I have reopened Templemore. We are having 900 young recruits coming out this year, as we have had for the past number of years. Clearly, capacity is being built up. New recruits are being assigned to different areas. No doubt Deputy Niamh Smyth's area will see the benefit of those new recruits.

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Finally, I call Deputy Collins.

Photo of Joan CollinsJoan Collins (Dublin South Central, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

The copyright and related rights (amendment) (miscellaneous intellectual property) Bill is on the Government's proposed spring-summer legislative programme. Where does it stand? It is with the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. Also, while the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation is present, I met representatives from Trinity College Dublin who would like to meet the Minister on this Bill.

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

The heads of the copyright Bill were dealt with last year and it continues to be worked on.

Photo of Joan CollinsJoan Collins (Dublin South Central, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Is it the copyright and related rights (amendment) (miscellaneous intellectual property) Bill?

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Yes, that is it.

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

I thank the Members for their forbearance and understanding.

(Interruptions).

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

No, hold on. It is only 15 minutes.

Photo of Mattie McGrathMattie McGrath (Tipperary, Independent)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

There are 25 seconds left.

Photo of John BrassilJohn Brassil (Kerry, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Is there any time for debate?

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

There are 25 seconds left. Let me say, if anyone has any difficulties-----

A Deputy:

Extra time.

Photo of Pat GallagherPat Gallagher (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

-----there is an avenue which one can take but if there is anyone who suggests that I have been unfair to any party today, now is the time to say so.