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Leaders' Questions (Continued)

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 835 No. 1

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  4 o’clock

(Speaker Continuing)

[The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny] In regard to the matters on which we made decisions this morning at Cabinet, if the House wishes there will be an opportunity for statements on it tomorrow. As I stated to Deputies Martin and Adams, as information relevant to the new issue which has arisen becomes available we will make it available to them also.

I remind Deputy Adams with regard to the area of justice and trust and public confidence in the system the situation as applied is not working properly. This is why the abolition of the confidential recipient has taken place. This is why the terms of reference are being examined by the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality. It is why GSOC is doing a full presentation in respect of the penalty point issue. It is why Mr. Guerin SC is examining the question of the allegations brought to the attention of public representatives and given to me in the Dáil. It is why Mr. Justice Cooke is doing his report. All of these must come before the House, be debated in the House, published and made available to all Members of the House and the public. In this regard this is an opportunity to lead for a new authority which will bring the Garda Síochána right into the modern era where everybody can have absolute faith in the accountability, transparency, effectiveness, competence and professionalism of the Garda force so everybody understands the standards required and the standards which must be met. The Garda Síochána Inspectorate's report will be debated in the House on Thursday. The Minister for Justice and Equality will address it and will take questions and answers at the end.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams I recounted earlier the Taoiseach sent for myself and Deputy Martin.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath He did not send for the Technical Group.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams On the way there a journalist told me the gist of the Taoiseach's statement, as I told him during our meeting. At the same time as we were told what was in the Taoiseach's statement the media were told what was in it. Why did the Taoiseach not come here? The Commissioner has resigned and this does not happen every day. The Taoiseach has revelations of a new scandal. It is a serious business. Should the first port of call not be here? Should this not be the place to discuss these matters? I have reminded the Taoiseach many times here that he assumed office on the promise of an entirely new way of doing politics. He had to be dragged on this issue towards the announcement on reform he made today. There is not one comma, full stop or iota of the Good Friday Agreement in any institution or agency or any protocols in this State. The people here deserve what the people of the North deserve, which is transparent accountability and a Minister with responsibility for justice who delivers it. The Minister for Justice and Equality should go. Will the Taoiseach not review what he stated earlier and do the decisive thing and ask the Minister, Deputy Shatter, to resign?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I have answered the question already. As I stated, Deputy Adams comes in here constantly and always wants information in advance of major issues in the Dáil. This is why I took the opportunity to brief him and Deputy Martin beforehand-----

Deputy Catherine Murphy: Information on Catherine Murphy Zoom on Catherine Murphy And not the Technical Group.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I might point out to Deputy Adams-----

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath It was disgraceful; 16 Deputies were ignored.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Garda press office, arising from the Commissioner's own decision, issued its statement at 12.17 p.m. today. I briefed Deputies Adams and Martin at 2:45 p.m. Do not come in and state the Government is running off to journalists. Sometimes the Government is running away from journalists.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin That is becoming an increasing phenomenon all right I have noticed.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny In any event on this particular account Deputy Adams is wrong.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin It depends on which Minister of course.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley You will be running away from the doors in a few weeks time.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The statement came from the Garda press office itself about the decision of the Commissioner to retire.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams The Taoiseach should have made a statement here. That is my point.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny That is why I briefed Deputies Adams and Martin at 2.45 p.m. in the knowledge they would ask a question about it, but Deputy Adams is not interested in what I told him. All he wants is another head on a plate. My information for Deputy Adams is the Minister for Justice and Equality, on behalf of the Government, will continue to reform the justice system and will work to introduce an independent statutory authority for An Garda Síochána-----

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Turn off the bugs.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----which will bring our system into the modern era where it is transparent, accountable, professional and competent and everybody in the country can have faith in it. This is why I thought it important, as leader of the Government, to bring the information given to me by the Attorney General at 6 p.m. on Sunday to the attention of the Members of the House, having checked the validity and veracity of the issues all day yesterday and all night last night. This is a very serious matter, which is why I offer the opportunity for statements tomorrow. As I stated earlier, the Garda Síochána Inspectorate's report is due to be debated and responded to on Thursday. The Minister for Justice and Equality will be here to answer questions on it.

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy Before I start my question I wish to tell the Taoiseach he has espoused and stated his Government is leading a democratic revolution, but I regard it as absolutely undemocratic he should have excluded representatives of the Technical Group-----

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Hear, hear.

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy -----from the briefing he gave to other Members of the House earlier this afternoon. He chose to exclude one third of the Opposition and I certainly hope it will never happen again.

My question is on the crisis in the health service. The Government has cut more than €3 billion and 12,500 staff from the health services in recent years. In 2014 a minimum of €619 million and another 2,600 staff will be cut. This is having a catastrophic effect on our services and the resulting crisis is being played out at local level throughout the country. South Tipperary General Hospital is a prime example. It has suffered the loss of more than 20% of its budget, or €11 million, in recent years and more than 100 staff. At the same time hospital activity and patient numbers have increased significantly and the hospital operates on a daily basis at 120% capacity. The number of patients waiting on trolleys and chairs in the emergency department of the hospital is absolutely unacceptable and is reminiscent of Third World conditions. Since the Government came to power, this democratic revolution Government about which the Taoiseach spoke, the number of trolleys and chairs increased from 750 in 2011 to 3,100 in 2013. Over the past weekend patients waited for days for admission. A total of 19 patients were still there on Monday, including a gentleman who had been there since the previous Wednesday and a lady who had been there since Friday evening.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett A question please.

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy This is an ongoing situation and the conditions are Third World. The staff simply cannot deal with the number of patients and are struggling to provide a decent and safe service. Will the Taoiseach apologise to patients and their families for the conditions they are being forced to endure in the emergency department? Will he immediately instruct the HSE to implement the proposal from the hospital and the HSE south-east to open additional beds at Our Lady's County Surgical Hospital in Cashel, step-down beds and additional beds in South Tipperary General Hospital and provide additional staff in the emergency department?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny That is a good Second Stage speech but I suggest, given the list Deputy Healy mentioned, that he put questions directly to the Minister for Health in respect of the specifics.

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy I am asking the Taoiseach.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath What about the Technical Group?

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy The Taoiseach is the leader of the Government and is responsible.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Stop shouting down.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I will certainly convey to the Minister for Health the issues Deputy Healy has mentioned. He gave a long list of ten or 15 issues-----

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy I asked about a single issue which is underfunding and overcrowding in the emergency department.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----and I cannot recall them all in sequence.

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

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny When €16 billion was being spent on the health system almost 600 people were on trolleys in one day. I remind Deputy Healy despite the reductions in allocations for the health service front-line services have been maintained at the very highest level and I always pay tribute to those people working in the front-line services.


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