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Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate: Childcare Services (29 Jun 2022)

Childcare Services

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate: Childcare Services (29 Jun 2022)

Christopher O'Sullivan: I thank the Minister for taking this Topical Issue matter. He will remember that I intended to submit this matter a number of weeks ago and the Minister was not available to take it at the time, so I said I would come back to raise this important issue, which I am doing now. I know the Government is motivated to reduce childcare costs and that the Minister is motivated to do so as well....

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate: Childcare Services (29 Jun 2022)

Roderic O'Gorman: I thank the Deputy for raising this issue, which he has done one on one with me on a number of occasions, and he has been a strong advocate for the sector. The Deputy is right that one of my goals as Minister is to reduce costs for parents, but I have always set out two other goals. My second goal is to ensure childcare professionals get properly paid, and we are about to achieve that...

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate: Childcare Services (29 Jun 2022)

Christopher O'Sullivan: I appreciate the Minister's response and I do not question his motivation on better pay for staff involved in the sector and in making childcare affordable and accessible for parents. We have to come back to the facts of the matter. We had hundreds of people protesting outside Leinster House last week. Many of these operators were being sustained on the employment wage subsidy scheme,...

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate: Tax Reliefs (29 Jun 2022)

Fergus O'Dowd: Coeliac disease is a serious, lifelong illness. There is no cure for it and any person diagnosed with it must go on a gluten-free diet. The costs are clear. According to the Coeliac Society of Ireland, this food costs approximately €1,000 more per year on average. If you have a family, it affects the types of food that the whole family eats. It affects where you go for recreation...

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate: Tax Reliefs (29 Jun 2022)

Seán Fleming: I thank the Deputies for raising this matter. I should point out that the issue of subsiding gluten-free foods for those with coeliac disease is a matter in the first instance for the Minister for Health. However, if the Deputies are suggesting that gluten-free foods for those with coeliac disease should be subsidised via the tax system, I will point out that decisions regarding tax reliefs...

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate: Tax Reliefs (29 Jun 2022)

Emer Higgins: There are six EU countries in which monthly aid, averaging €67.66, is provided to coeliacs. Following a gluten-free diet as a coeliac can be costly. In light of the rise in the cost of living and other inflation, this is an issue that we need to examine. We need to simplify and expand the current process. I am grateful to the Coeliac Society of Ireland in Clondalkin for raising...

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate: Tax Reliefs (29 Jun 2022)

Fergus O'Dowd: I am unhappy with the Minister of State's reply. I reject it absolutely. I know he was only reading from a script that he was given, but he said "the arrangements exclude costs incurred in respect of gluten-free alcohol." I do not know who wrote that, but if he or she believes that people who suffer from coeliac disease are guzzling alcohol and looking for a subsidy for that, then nothing...

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate: Tax Reliefs (29 Jun 2022)

Seán Fleming: I thank the Deputies for their comments. I apologise for the insensitive reference in my script.

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate: Tax Reliefs (29 Jun 2022)

Fergus O'Dowd: It was absolutely unacceptable and offensive.

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate: Tax Reliefs (29 Jun 2022)

Seán Fleming: The issue mentioned is probably dealt with in legislation, but I accept that the context in which I read it out was insensitive. I hope that the Deputy will accept my bona fides in that respect. I stated that the question of subsidising gluten-free foods for those with coeliac disease was a matter for the Minister for Health in the first instance, but let me explain. If it is not...

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate: School Meals Programme (29 Jun 2022)

Seán Fleming: I thank the Deputy for raising this issue. I take his point completely and will bring it back to the Minister. The school meals programme provides funding towards the provision of food to 1,506 schools and organisations, benefiting 230,000 children. The objective of the programme is to provide regular, nutritious food to children to enable them to take full advantage of the education...

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate: School Meals Programme (29 Jun 2022)

Steven Matthews: I thank the Minister of State. I am glad to have had the opportunity to raise this matter. I raised it yesterday with the Taoiseach during Questions on Policy and Legislation and I have submitted a number of parliamentary questions on it. While I welcome the expansion of DEIS schools, which is positive, I am concerned that we do not seem to have allocated any funding in the budget for...

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate: School Meals Programme (29 Jun 2022)

Seán Fleming: I appreciate the disappointment and frustration for the new DEIS schools that are keen to access the school meals programme. The level of interest in the programme is a clear sign of the need for its expansion and that is something we are committed to doing. I have had contact from schools that did not make the new DEIS allocations this year. That is the next group in line because there...

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate: Tax Reliefs (29 Jun 2022)

Tax Reliefs

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate: Tax Reliefs (29 Jun 2022)

Emer Higgins: I thank the Minister of State for taking this Topical Issue debate. Despite the fact that there is no register for coeliac disease in Ireland, the condition is estimated to affect up to 75,000 people in this country. I thank the Coeliac Society of Ireland, which is based in my constituency of Dublin Mid-West, in the heart of Clondalkin. It makes a huge contribution to the data we do have...

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate: Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence (29 Jun 2022)

Jennifer Carroll MacNeill: The implementation plan is crucial. Members of Government parties, the Opposition and the sector will rightly hold the Department and the agency to account on that. The plan shows a clear commitment to set out quarter by quarter exactly what is intended to be delivered by each Department. That is the only way to ensure implementation on a cross-government basis. What the Minister said...

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate: Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence (29 Jun 2022)

Helen McEntee: On the Deputy's final point, there is funding available, and it will be part of the strategy to make sure we get that message across. It is important that we communicate what we are doing. Part of the role of the agency will be to work very closely with the sector in the way we have been doing. There is a campaign to raise awareness of the supports that are available and make it part of...

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate: School Meals Programme (29 Jun 2022)

School Meals Programme

Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate: School Meals Programme (29 Jun 2022)

Steven Matthews: I am delighted to have the opportunity to discuss this issue. The school meals programme is of vital importance to the students that benefit from it. The Minister of State, Deputy Fleming, will be aware that the Minister for Education, Deputy Foley, announced a €32 million investment and expansion of DEIS schools this year, which brings another 60,000 students into that support and...

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