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 Header Item Money Advice and Budgeting Service and Citizen Information Centres: Motion [Private Members] (Continued)
 Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2017: Message from Select Committee

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 944 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony: Information on Margaret Murphy O'Mahony Zoom on Margaret Murphy O'Mahony] This and the previous Government have done some terrible things to the people, but this is one of the worst.

Deputy Michael Moynihan: Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan I compliment Deputy Willie O'Dea on tabling the motion which offers us a timely opportunity to reflect on what MABS and the Citizens Information service do. MABS has provided a fantastic service during the years, but since the economic crash of 2008, with the other agencies available to help people through financial difficulties, it has served many people who in normal circumstances would never interface with it. The organisations have provided invaluable support throughout the country.

A number of very telling and important points have been made by Deputies on all sides of the House, but I want to focus on two points. The Minister mentioned job losses. I sincerely hope that what the Government is proposing to do is not about job losses or amalgamation for the sake of it. There are many services about which we could talk, but this service is stretched to the limit in trying to help people. The community welfare officer was the safety net underneath all social welfare payments. If there genuinely was a huge financial difficulty or a crisis within a family, one could always revert to the community welfare officer to help them, but the role of the community welfare officer has been depleted somewhat and the service has been transferred from the old health boards and the HSE to the Department of Social Protection.

MABS advisers are taking on almost impossible files involving house repossession and the provision of business and financial advice for people in their own homes. They are going through the figures and offering people professional services for which they could not dream of paying on the open market and advising them on how best to put their finances in order. All public representatives, regardless of whether they represent rural or urban Ireland, interface with the organisations in question on a daily and weekly basis. Our offices might deal with them on an hourly basis and they are providing a significant service.

If the Department thinks this is a good idea - Deputy Willie O'Dea made the point that it was akin to knocking down and rebuilding a house in another place for the sake of change - it is not good policy. I met a number of MABS staff in the past couple of days. They are dealing with cases involving house repossessions. This Dáil and all local authorities have been trying to get to grips with the enormous housing crisis. MABS staff have some fantastic ideas. For example, rather than repossessing houses, their ideas involve making sure they can work through a State-led system to try to incentivise people to remain in their homes. The ideas are coming from the ground up. Deputy Jackie Cahill said MABS was a ground-up rather than a top-down organisation. MABS has been in place for a long time, done excellent work and contributed greatly to the betterment of society, in urban and rural Ireland. This, therefore, is bad policy and a retrograde step. It should not be done just for the sake of achieving job losses or efficiencies. The people about whom we are talking are really needed on the ground in every community the length and breadth of the country. We should be enhancing the services available.

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea It will not take me more than five seconds to respond to what I have heard. The fact is we have not received answers or logical explanations. Members will have heard of the wonderful character the Wizard of Oz. The Wizard of Ozone has left the House. We intend to push the motion to a vote. Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice was right when he said there had been times when the Government had lost votes on motions in this House and nothing had happened. I do not want to anticipate the outcome of the vote, but I hope we will win it when it takes place next week. I am sure the Citizens Information Board comprises estimable individuals and that it is a very important organisation, but if we win the vote, we will take it very badly if evidence emerges that the board is to flout the declared will of the people's parliament. That is something we will not accept. I want the Minister of State to take that message back to his colleague.

Deputy Seán Kyne: Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne As well as the Attorney General's advice that the Minister does not have the power to instruct the Citizens Information Board.

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea That is absolute rubbish.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Let us not get into that matter.

  Amendment put.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl In accordance with Standing Order 70(2), the division is postponed until the weekly division time on Thursday, 30 March 2017.

Estimates for Public Services 2017: Message from Select Committee

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The Select Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation has completed its consideration of the following Revised Estimate for Public Services for the service of the year ending 31 December 2017: Vote 32 - Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

  The Dáil adjourned at 9.45 p.m. until 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 29 March 2017.

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