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Order of Business (Continued)

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 964 No. 4

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Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan As the Deputy is aware, there is provision in law for the type of tagging referred to by the Deputy. I assure the House that this matter is receiving important attention. An expert working group is sitting to consider the various legal aspects and the practice that would be involved to ensure the monitoring is in accordance with best international standards. I expect that working group to report to me this spring whereupon I would be anxious to proceed with the commencement order at the earliest opportunity.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Too slow.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall I want to ask the Taoiseach about the Education (Admission to Schools) Bill. It went to committee last June. The Minister for Education and Skills indicated his intention to amend that legislation to abolish the baptism barrier. He promised to do that and have the Bill completed by Christmas but no progress has been made on it since. I think we all think it is important to ensure that we do not have yet another year where young children are discriminated against on the basis of the belief system of their parents so can the Taoiseach give an undertaking that the necessary amendments will be dealt with well in advance of the new school year later on in September?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Minister is working on those amendments and I know it is priority legislation for him. Those amendments will be completed as soon as possible in order to bring the Bill back to the House.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae One of the Minister of Transport, Tourism and Sport's proposals in the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill is that cars will be taken off unaccompanied drivers with a provisional licence and that those who own the cars will be jailed. It takes 22 weeks for a driver with a provisional licence to get a driving test in Killarney. This period is seriously too long. Why does the Government not do something positive to help young persons who want to get on the road legally and give them a chance because I believe every young person, boy or girl, should get one chance to get on the road in this world? Twenty-two weeks is too long. The Government should give over with regard to the nonsense of jailing people and taking cars off them. They are draconian measures that should never be entertained.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Bill is on Committee Stage and will be before committee on 9 February.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae With regard to the issue of retained firefighters having to retire at 58, there is a wish to extend that age to 60 years. The response of the management at the WRC meetings has not been negative but it has flagged possible difficulties with retrospection and legislation relating to pensions. The Government is in the process of passing legislation that will, hopefully, resolve the pension issue. At what stage is that legislation because we are losing valuable and experienced firefighters every day who should be on for another number of years? It is great to keep experienced people in a job.

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Damien English): Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English The pensions Bill is being drafted currently but with regard to retirement age for firefighters, it is international best practice. A working group looks at this every couple of years. This group came together about six years ago to look at this and compare it to international developments. It was agreed that the timeline should be increased slightly but no more than that so 58 is still the norm to retain firefighters. I am prepared to meet people to discuss this again and we can review it. We do so every couple of years but it is not recommended internationally that we do that just yet. However, I am prepared to meet a group on behalf of the Deputy if he wishes.

Deputy Michael Collins: Information on Michael Collins Zoom on Michael Collins Page 121 of the programme for Government relates to trade negotiations. I, along with other rural Deputies, have raised serious concerns about a potential Mercosur trade deal, which could have serious negative effects on the beef producers and public health due to the lack of proper standards and traceability of this beef coming into the EU. Negotiations are ongoing this week regarding this matter. What reassurances has the Government received from the EU Commissioner, Phil Hogan, that Europe will not sell out and allow South American beef into the EU in return for car exports in South America?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar As the Deputy will be aware, negotiations are now under way. Having a trade deal between the EU and Mercosur involving those countries in South America would be beneficial to our economy in the round, as it would be for their economies, but we have a particular sensitivity around the beef sector. As I said at the IFA AGM, without its beef sector, Ireland would not be Ireland and we are very keen to protect that sector from unfair competition from South America.


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