Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

Leaders' Questions (Continued)

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 806 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 95 Next Page Last Page

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin]  I find it incredible that the Taoiseach or the Government seem to be unaware of this. It has been raised in the Dáil by my colleague and other Deputies in the House already in recent weeks. I plead with the Taoiseach to get the Minister for Finance to intervene in this case and not to wash his hands of it or say it is someone else's business.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I reject Deputy Martin's assertion that the Government is washing its hands of this. This Government set down a limit for the pay of senior bankers. The previous Administration allowed situations whereby wages of up to €3 million were paid in respect of chief executives of banks.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin We are not talking about senior bankers.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The pay levels set by the Government have not been breached in any case.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae Only for advisers.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny For Deputy Martin to say that the Government is washing its hands of this is just not real. The Minister commissioned the Mercer report in order that there would be a requirement to have a substantial pay and pensions contribution from bankers in this regard.

  As I understand it, Deputy Martin is asking me to intervene in a situation that is before the Labour Court.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin We are not talking about the Labour Court. We are talking about ordinary workers. Will the Taoiseach use plain language and stop this camouflaging?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Deputy Martin is asking me to intervene in a case involving Permanent TSB that is the consequence of an internal management decision and that is before the Labour Court.

(Interruptions).

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny Deputy Martin is asking the Minister for Finance to intervene in that. The Minister is well aware of what is going on. As Deputy Martin well knows, the Labour Court is part of the machinery of the State for dealing with disputes.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin It is the Taoiseach's decision.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny This dispute is not a consequence of the Minister's decision.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin It is not a dispute.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Sorry, please, Deputy.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Sorry, it is not a dispute. The Taoiseach said to take 6% off and they are doing it through pensions. The Taoiseach should tell the truth.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny It is an internal management decision of Permanent TSB. Yesterday Deputy Martin wanted the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government to intervene in the planning process. Today, he wants the Minister for Finance to intervene in a Labour Court hearing.

Deputy Eric Byrne: Information on Eric J. Byrne Zoom on Eric J. Byrne Deputy Martin is the Leader of the Opposition now.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Deputy Byrne is a great representative of the working classes.

Deputy Dinny McGinley: Information on Dinny McGinley Zoom on Dinny McGinley It is back to the old ways again.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Deputy Adams, please.

(Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Settle down, please. Deputy Adams, please. Thank you.

(Interruptions).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I called Deputy Adams, please. Will you respect the Chair? Thank you.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams This State is often described as a republic. My understanding of the term "republic" is a state in which citizens have fundamental rights.

Deputy Emmet Stagg: Information on Emmet Stagg Zoom on Emmet Stagg We do not shoot them.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams Yet every day we hear of citizens whose rights are being trampled upon. Who by? By the Government. This week the Government's target is the carers and those they look after. The respite care grant has been slashed by one fifth for some 77,000 carers and their loved ones. Cén saghas poblachta atá againn anseo?

The Taoiseach must know that this latest austerity cut will cause real hardship. Beidh bille crua eile le híoc ag na daoine seo, atá ag streachailt leis an saol cheana féin. The citizens, these carers, save the State over €4 billion every year. They have no legal entitlements to a holiday or a day off. Let us think about it. It does not even make economic sense because the Government cuts could force some of these people who are currently cared for at home into residential full-time care, and that would cost the State several times more than the Government is saving. Even at this late stage, will the Government change tack? Does the Taoiseach accept that if we really are a republic then the Government has a responsibility to protect the living standards and welfare of our most vulnerable citizens? Will the Taoiseach reverse this most unfair and unjust cut to the respite care grant?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny In respect of services for older people, until 2011 in the republic of which Deputy Adams speaks there was no national approach to the procurement of home care providers to supply indirect services through the home care package scheme. Therefore, different standards and approaches were being taken throughout the country in different locations and this left the HSE vulnerable to challenges of anti-competitive behaviour and inefficient service. Most important, as Deputy Adams is aware, it left people in a vulnerable position because different practices had different standards applied to them throughout the country. In some areas of the country where there was no direct HSE provision for carers or where the HSE direct provision had not been sufficiently used, procuring services from what we call external providers was the only viable option to provide services and supports for older people who chose to remain at or return to their homes.

Some €392 million was allocated in 2013 to provide these services to approximately 100,000 older people. Approximately 20% of the population over 65 years received some element of home care or day support service annually. There is an obvious need to provide high-quality services that are flexible to address the needs of these people such as long-term residential care needs or acute hospitals needs.

The programme for Government commits to developing and implementing national standards for home support services because, as Deputy Adams is aware, people generally want to be able to stay in their own homes for as long as possible before it becomes necessary to have them move to a longer-stay institution. There will be, however, a need for primary legislation here and for the introduction of a statutory regulation system that will apply across the board. In the meantime, the standardisation of services, the promotion of access to services and quality and safety are matters of concern to the Minister. This means the procurement framework for home care services national guidelines for the standardised implementation of the home care package system. It also means dealing with the specific issue raised by Deputy Adams about respite care and the extent and range of it. We also need the provision of the new national health guidelines for the home help service which includes elements of respite care such as those Deputy Adams mentioned. These issues are constantly under consideration by the Minister and will be reflected in his budget Estimate for 2014.

For the information of Deputy Adams, there are approximately 10,800 home care packages for 2014, approximately 5,000 new home care packages for clients, more than 10.3 million home help hours and some 50,000 people in receipt of home help hours. There are 21,500 day care places, some 22,000 people funded under the nursing home support scheme and approximately 2,500 new elder abuse referrals, all of which are being considered in the context of these services for this year.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams I am disappointed but not surprised by the Taoiseach's answer. The question I put was very direct and straightforward. There was no need for all the fog that the Taoiseach created around it. The fact is that this is the first month when 77,000 citizens who look after loved ones in their homes will feel the effect of a cut which gives them one fifth less than they had up until now. That is the reality. I asked the Taoiseach to reverse that cut because it is unfair and also because it is bad economics. If these people cannot be cared for at home and end up in institutional care it will cost the State even more.

The Taoiseach referred to elderly people. Naturally, some of these people who are cared for, these loved ones, are elderly people, but some are children or young adults who have severe disabilities as well. The Government has no problem protecting big bankers or giving its special advisers way over its set ceiling for pay. Clearly, the Government does not have a problem taking money from people who can least afford it. Will the Taoiseach just answer directly? Will he not consider, even now as the cut kicks in, reversing this? It will cost approximately €26 million. That is what it will cost. I ask the Taoiseach directly to stand up and say: "Yes, we are trying to be a republic, we do look after citizens who need our help and we will restore this cut."

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny This is the implementation of last year's budget. The decision was to reduce the annual respite care grant by €325 from €1,700 to €1,375 for new and existing recipients. The savings were to be €26.15 million in 2013 and the implementation date is June of this year.


Last Updated: 29/04/2020 10:05:21 First Page Previous Page Page of 95 Next Page Last Page