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Order of Business (Continued)

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 964 No. 4

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Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The Minister of State at the Department of Health with special responsibility for disability issues has announced that the Cabinet has decided to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and he stated that the Government will bring a resolution to this effect before the Dáil. The Disabilities (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2016 passed Second Stage in this House last February and has been on Committee Stage since and we have now been waiting a year for the amendments from the Minister. A road map to drive the ratification process has been in place since October 2015 and the delay seems to have arisen from the fact that the Minister cannot get his act together to bring forward the amendments to enable us to enact the Bill.

It has always been our position that we ratify UN conventions after the legal provisions have been passed. This is a unique situation where the Minister cannot get the law enacted so he is going to ratify it in advance. Can the Taoiseach confirm when we will see the amendments and the enactment of the Bill? When will we have a formal resolution to ratify the convention before the House?

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan As the Deputy and Members will be aware, it is ten years this year since we signed the UN declaration and it is important that we now proceed to ratify it, with a view to having all matters fully completed by the end of this year. It involves a number of Departments and I assure Deputy Howlin that, following the decision at Cabinet today, there will now be an accelerated process with engagement between the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Health. I expect the resolutions will come before the House for debate within the next few weeks and that the Department of Health will now proceed towards completing the work on the appropriate amendments so that we can proceed step by step in the course of this year to complete the ratification process.

Deputy Gino Kenny: Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny This time last year the Minister for Health, Deputy Simon Harris, commissioned a report, Cannabis for Medicinal Use - A Scientific Review. Not only has nothing happened in that time, the Government has stalled the Bill to legislate for medicinal use because of a money matter. The Taoiseach said yesterday that we exported our problems and imported our solutions but, at this moment, families and individuals are leaving this country for Spain and Holland because they cannot get access to medicinal cannabis. As the leader of this country the Taoiseach has to show leadership to the Minister Deputy Simon Harris, so that he lifts the money matter. There are four people who have licences for medicinal cannabis and they have to pay €11,000 per year for medication but they cannot get it. I ask that we bring in legislation for this immediately.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar As the Deputy correctly points out, it is possible to obtain cannabis on a medicinal basis in Ireland by licence, though one needs an appropriately qualified doctor to prescribe it and a licence from the Minister for Health. The Minister has never actually denied a licence and when applications come through, with a consultant or an appropriate specialist to back them up, they are granted.

I will have to check on the progress of the legislation. I have not refused a money message so it has not come to my desk.

Deputy Gino Kenny: Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny The Taoiseach has to show leadership on this.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath The programme for Government is strong in its commitment to protect citizens in their homes. Electronic tagging should be a condition of bail for repeat offenders. In 2016, 13% of offenders were repeat offenders who were out on bail, an increase of 2% on the year before. Horrific attacks have been perpetrated on my constituents and in Offaly and all over the country. I am told the legislation is already there so why would we not enact it? Can the Minister for Justice and Equality say why there is a reluctance in An Garda Síochána, for example, to have tagging for repeat offenders? We must protect our citizens and this debate must be about victims rather than criminals who want to continue their thuggish behaviour by terrorising people in their own homes.

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