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Leaders' Questions (Continued)

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 809 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams] In the Government's five-point plan, the health section was called a fair care plan. However, there is nothing fair or caring about it. It entails bonuses for corrupt bankers and toadying up to the well-connected and the wealthy. It is forcing families like that one to bear the awful brunt of the Government's austerity policies.

There is another twist in the tail. The family made representations, as did health professionals and Sinn Féin representatives, so the decision is being reviewed. However, his medical card has been extended for only one month while the review takes place. The Government is making health care unaffordable and thus inaccessible for the sick, elderly and other vulnerable people. I appeal to the Minister not to give us any palaver, rhetoric and plámás. These cruel cuts should be withdrawn.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I am perfectly happy to arrange that the case the Deputy has raised be investigated.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams There are 40,000 such cases.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton From what he indicated, it is being reviewed. Generally, anyone who is aged 70 or over is entitled to a medical card if their gross income does not exceed €600 per week. That is the income threshold. The other part of that assessment is that a person may have savings but savings up to €36,000 will be disregarded. The system therefore does attempt to provide for people of a more advanced age-----

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams It does not.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton -----and more prone to illness, to have a much higher income threshold. That is set out in the legislation. In addition, they have the security of knowing that they can have savings and those will not be treated. If there are special circumstances, and undoubtedly there are in this case, those special circumstances will be reviewed in each case.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams There are thousands of them.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton That discretion is there and it will obviously hinge on the merit of the case. If the Deputy wants to give details of the case he cited, I will arrange for the HSE to examine those details.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Nearly two and a half years ago, this Government took office with the hopes and dreams of a nation behind it. Like some great prophet, the Taoiseach announced that he was entering into a covenant with the Irish people. Maybe we should have spotted, even then, the delusions he had about what exactly his role would be. Since the Government was formed, however, the Taoiseach has betrayed the hopes and dreams of the Irish people.

Deputy John Deasy: Information on John Deasy Zoom on John Deasy You must be joking.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The Taoiseach has failed to keep faith with the promises he made and the defined mandate on which the Government was elected.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Is this a question or a party political speech?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt The Deputy has two minutes. Please allow him to continue without interruption.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I wonder if the Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, is waiting to milk another cow. He has his hands out there.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte It is like an oration at the grave of O'Donovan Rossa.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Order, please.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath You will be like that very soon, at a graveside. The Government has failed to keep the promises it made. Hardly any group has suffered more from those betrayals than the young people of our country. Emigration rates have continued to rise, not just annually but also monthly and weekly. Over a quarter of Irish households have seen a close family member emigrate in the past two years.

Deputy James Bannon: Information on James Bannon Zoom on James Bannon The Deputy is not adhering to the full stops in his script.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath That is the first time in two years that I have heard Deputy Bannon speak.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Can we have order, please?

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Empty vessels make most noise.

A Deputy: Turn down the volume control.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath When he goes back to Longford, he will get his answers from the people he promised on the pro-life issue.

The Taoiseach's so-called covenant has failed to prevent us from losing an entire generation of our young people. This week, the Taoiseach spoke eloquently about Ireland's EU Presidency. I compliment him on his six months in charge but he said the high levels of youth unemployment across Europe are an abomination. He said that on his watch young people would not be locked out of the future. Those are hollow words, indeed.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg Zoom on Emmet Stagg Who wrote the Deputy's script?

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Who is the Taoiseach trying to cod? What hope can any young person have that the Taoiseach or the Government will be able to deliver on this grand promise? Ireland has almost the highest youth unemployment rate in western Europe with up to one in four young people aged 17 to 25 jobless and one in three men unemployed.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I ask the Deputy to conclude.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I am not being allowed to continue.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I am watching the clock.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I know the truth is bitter but it should not be that hard to sit on. I am entitled to ask a question, am I not?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Yes. Please ask a question.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Go raibh maith agat.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Could we have silence, please?

(Interruptions).

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The pizza boy is back. Will the Minister give a commitment today and demonstrate his seriousness in tackling this issue by bringing to the Taoiseach a proposal to create an office with the sole responsibility to target youth unemployment? Will the Government - you are all wise guys there, as well - consider measures similar to those recently introduced in Italy whereby employers receive a tax-break for offering young people under 30 permanent contracts?

Deputy Ruairí Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn Zoom on Ruairí Quinn Well done, Mattie.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton First of all, I acknowledge that we inherited an economy that was in an extraordinary situation.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath That is the past.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton No, that is not the past.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte That was before Mattie jumped ship.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The economy we inherited was losing 90,000 jobs per year.

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I want order for the reply, please. The Minister has the floor.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I am happy to stay all day but I would like to get a chance to answer the question. The truth is that we inherited an economy that was losing 90,000 jobs per year. That is 7,000 jobs per month. The latest CSO figures show that we have added 20,000 jobs in the last 12 months. In respect of the private sector, we are adding 2,000 jobs per month. That is a dramatic transformation. If one looks at what is happening beneath that, one will find that the IDA has had the best two years in a decade and Enterprise Ireland has had its best year in five years. There is a real transition going on in our economy in certain sectors which we discussed earlier. Part of the domestic banking sector continues to have problems but we are seeing the emergence of new strong sectors. That is ultimately the response to the challenge of emigration and youth unemployment.

We need to create more employment and the Government has put in place a number of innovative approaches to deal with this. We have done it through our action plan for jobs, the strategic investment fund and our ability to find innovative ways of funding stimulus at a time when we cannot use conventional borrowing. That is the way in which we will create new employment and deal with the scourge of emigration.

In respect of youth unemployment, the Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Joan Burton, has set this as a very high priority. She has successfully negotiated the agreement at European level to make this a top priority for Europe. Her agreement will now release €6 billion in funding for youth employment initiatives across the EU. We will also be developing that.

As regards the Deputy's specific suggestion, this month the Minister, Deputy Burton, will be announcing a new scheme whereby an employer can take on a person who has been out of work for 12 months and get a subsidy of €72 per week which will be paid monthly in arrears. That is a straightforward cash support to help businesses which are in a position to recruit to take people off the dole.

There are a lot of initiatives going on precisely to deal with the challenge the Deputy has set. It is, and remains, the Government's firm purpose to deal with the employment crisis. That is what gets us up in the morning every day. That is what drives Ministers each day to seek to resolve this matter, which is the central crisis for the economy.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath If that is the best that Ministers can do, they should all stay in bed in the morning.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Hear, hear.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath What people want are sustainable long-term jobs, of which the Minister promised 70,000. Despite this continuous mantra about the last Government, the Minister saw the books before he came into office. He sought the books, got them and knew the situation.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte It did not change them.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath We all know that the live register numbers have fallen due to FÁS and JobBridge training programmes, as well as the back-to-education scheme.

Deputy Pat Rabbitte: Information on Pat Rabbitte Zoom on Pat Rabbitte Is the Deputy against them?

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Nobody ever employed anybody by offering €72 after somebody is taken on for 12 months because it is a pittance. The Minister does not understand what makes employers tick. The sooner the Minister and his team of advisers get down and dirty, and understand what makes people employ staff, the better. The Minister does not understand what makes people want to create jobs, wealth and pay their taxes. Despite the Minister's best efforts and the grandiose plans he is talking about, efforts must be mobilised around the shared objective of getting young people jobs. Those were the Taoiseach's words in Europe.


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