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 Header Item Child and Family Support Agency Establishment (Continued)
 Header Item Other Questions
 Header Item Constitutional Amendment on Children

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 787 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin] Is it not now appropriate that the timeline for implementation - an implementation plan - should be furnished before the House? I would commend this because all we have at the moment is the deferred expectation of the presentation of the legislation. We certainly had hoped it would have been presented before the end of this year. The Minister is indicating before the end of the coming month, but there is then a process of work that needs to be under way before we will see the new agency in situ under the aegis of the Department, which is what we are anxious to see. Would it be possible to present a timeline for implementation that would cover all of the key and relevant areas and the situation vis-à-vis the three agencies that are being brought together into the single agency as of the earliest point possible in 2013? Staffing will be the most critical issue. The Minister mentioned senior management appointments but we are all very anxious to know the level of support staff that will be in place, especially social workers.

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Deputy made a very reasonable point on having a timeline and it is being worked on by the high level group. The legislation to be introduced in January is important and the Office of the Attorney General has been doing a substantial amount of work on it. With more than 100 heads, the legislation is long and there is much detail in it. We will have a timeline. As the Deputy knows, there are short, medium and long-term issues with regard to the services in the agency. I hope the next time I speak in the House early in January that we will be in a position to look at a timeline. Effectively much of the work is being done with the high level group with regard to identifying staff who will come within the agency, informing these staff and dealing with various issues which arise inevitably in the course of such a major transition.

I thank all of the staff who have been involved because I know change can be difficult and it is a major transition to move from working within the HSE to a new child and family support agency. I also thank those involved in the industrial relations because clearly issues arise when one makes the type of changes we are making and undertakes such reform. They have been handled very effectively and diligently by all involved. I take the Deputy's point on the timeline and it will be essential to give clarity to all those to whom I referred.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin I welcome the Minister's acceptance of the reasonableness of my request. The Minister will understand that in the absence of this information, people, be they political voices or from the non-governmental sector, will have real concerns and these will be fuelled by the absence of critical information. I commend to the Minister at the earliest possible time in the new year to furnish elected voices and the wider public with a clearly outlined timeline for the implementation. The legislation is just a part of all of this, but we want to see when we will get to the end line, which will be a new beginning.

Other Questions

Constitutional Amendment on Children

 65. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald if she has attended a meeting with officials and or others at which the initial Supreme Court judgment from 8 November was discussed; and if she will make a statement on the matter.  [52238/12]

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald This question was transferred from the Department of the Taoiseach. I met Government colleagues and senior officials on 8 November to discuss the ruling delivered by the Supreme Court in the McCrystal case on that day. Subsequently, discussion of the Supreme Court ruling featured in various meetings with Department officials and colleagues in the intervening period.

Further to the meeting of 8 November, I issued a statement encouraging people voting in the referendum on 10 November to focus on the substance of the amendment and the historic importance of the proposal to amend the Constitution. I also drew attention to the reference made by the Supreme Court in its ruling that the substance of the referendum proposal "is a matter for the people alone".

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