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 Header Item Order of Business (Continued)
 Header Item Food Safety Authority of Ireland (Amendment) Bill 2013: First Stage

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 796 No. 3

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Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan That is due later this year.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae It is good to see the Minister for Finance in charge of the country for the next week or ten days. With regard to the massive cuts to housing grants for people with disabilities and to mobility aid grants, I would like to point out-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Has the Deputy a question on legislation?

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae Yes; there is a point to what I am saying. Because of these cuts, people will now have to stay in hospitals rather then return home. Therefore, from a financial point of view the cuts will not save the State money. For example, in County Kerry we were cut by 56%. This will not save the State money. Is there any chance that more money can be made available for people who receive disability and mobility aids grants? I am not talking about housing improvement grants for older people. I am aware the Finance Bill has moved from this House to the Seanad, but some allowance should be made for a top-up grant to all local authorities throughout the country for this. This will save money.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt That is a matter for a parliamentary question.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae I am sure the Pope will be delighted to hear the good wishes coming from this House. I too wish the new Pope well. The Tánaiste is in Atlanta, Georgia, but I am sure he would want to send the Pope his best wishes too. As Deputy Martin stated, our links to the Holy See should be restored as a matter of urgency. They should never have been cut and their severance was a disgraceful decision at the time. As a gesture to the new Pope, we should make a stand on that here.

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The links to the Holy See have not been broken, severed or cut. The Secretary General at the Department of Foreign Affairs is a fully accredited ambassador to the Holy See. The issue is that he is no longer resident in Rome. However, he is fully accredited and there are normal and good relationships with the Holy See.

On the issue of mobility aids, everybody in this House would share the Deputy's anxiety that every assistance possible be given to persons with disabilities. The Minister of State, Deputy O'Sullivan, has told me there is a contingency fund of €2 million available for this, so perhaps if the Deputy submitted a request to the appropriate Minister, some of that could be allocated to his part of the world.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan On housing matters, having regard-----

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath What about the Pope?

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan I am sure the Pope is delighted with the sentiments expressed by Deputy McGrath and was waiting with bated breath for them. We would all like to join in wishing the Pope well.

In view of the massive housing crisis inherited by the Government from its predecessors, is it intended to introduce the housing Bill any time soon? Will this Bill refer in particular to the tens of thousands of people currently waiting on local authority housing lists, who have no indication of what the future holds for them in regard to housing due to the dearth of family-type housing available on the market?

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I understand it is proposed to deal with this issue in three separate Bills and that part 1 of these will come to the House before the summer and parts 2 and 3 will be introduced later this year.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross As a black Protestant, I would hate to be left out of welcoming the Pope and wishing him well. I welcome him on behalf of everyone on these benches also. Has the new Pope been invited to Ireland yet? Perhaps when the Minister is over in Rome on Tuesday, he will get the invitation in early.

On the issue of legislation, was the Secretary General of the Department of Finance correct last week when he said at the Committee of Public Accounts in response to questions I asked that the legislation to reverse the Dunne judgment was well advanced? As the Minister knows, repossessions cannot be initiated without this legislation. Therefore, it is up to the Minister to open the floodgates to these repossessions and allow them happen. Will the Minister assure us that the repossession legislation will come to the House in an orderly way and that it will be fully debated here? Will he assure us it will not be slipped through the House before the Easter recess?

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan I am sure the Pope will be very pleased that Deputy Ross has congratulated him. I notice there is an Old Testament type of rhetoric in the interventions of Deputy Ross here sometimes, with phrases such as "opening the floodgates".

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Or Sodom and Gomorrah.

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan On the legislation to remediate the lacuna arising from Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne's judgment, the heads of the Bill were passed by the Government last Tuesday. The responsibility for this is vested in the Minister for Justice and Equality and he intends to legislate before the summer if possible. There will be a full debate in the House on the Bill.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin On forthcoming legislation, I have never seen such a crisis in morale among An Garda Síochána in my political life as I see now. This is very serious, and we are at a tipping point. It is not all down to Croke Park II, although that has been a contributing and exacerbating factor. Gardaí feel bad about that agreement and feel it does not respect the role they play on a 24-7 basis in protecting citizens. They feel they are under-resourced and under-equipped. They only held observer status with regard to the agreement anyway. This is a serious issue that the Government needs to examine. The relationship between the Minister and the Garda is in an unhealthy state. An unhealthy tension exists and gardaí feel a lack of respect.

The legislation I want to ask about is the Garda Síochána (compensation for malicious injuries) Bill. When can we expect that legislation? I would like another opportunity to raise this issue, because it is central to democracy and to how society is organised.

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan The heads of the Bill were cleared last July and the Bill will come before the House later this year.

Deputy Tom Fleming: Information on Tom Fleming Zoom on Tom Fleming I believe there has been a serious infringement of equality legislation in the context of the recent allocation for grants for people with disabilities and mobility problems, as well as grants for older people for the refurbishment of their houses to ensure they can live in reasonably comfortable homes. We are breaking the law seriously. Deputy Healy-Rae and I are well aware that hundreds of applications have been made in County Kerry and these applicants have been certified medically by doctors and consultants as being eligible for grants. We are not in compliance with the legislation in this respect. I ask the Minister and the Minister of State, Deputy O'Sullivan, who are here today and who are both from Limerick, to examine this situation, because it is very serious, particularly in County Kerry.

Deputy Michael Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan There is no particular legislation promised, but if the Deputy is referring to the difficulties that have arisen from the ruling of the Ombudsman under equality legislation regarding persons with disabilities, the Minister for Health and his officials are actively engaged with representatives of the disability groups to ensure that a solution of equal value is brought forward.

Food Safety Authority of Ireland (Amendment) Bill 2013: First Stage

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris I move:

  That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Food Safety Authority of Ireland Act 1998 and expand the functions of the Authority in order to achieve the highest standard of food health and safety for consumers through enhancing the traceability and monitoring of food produce origins; enforce stricter labelling criteria for products labelled as produce of Ireland as well as products marketed and distributed within the State.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Is the Bill opposed?

Minister for Finance (Deputy Michael Noonan): Information on Michael Noonan Zoom on Michael Noonan No.

  Question put and agreed to.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

  Question put and agreed to.


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