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Ceisteanna ar Reachtaíocht a Gealladh - Questions on Promised Legislation (Continued)

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 979 No. 6

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(Speaker Continuing)

[The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar] They have had extensive recent discussions with both our Danish and UK counterparts and are now in contact with a number of potential suppliers. The discussions may take some time to produce a result.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I wrote to the Taoiseach on 19 January about a very distressing television advertisement sponsored by the Road Safety Authority. I sympathise with the loved ones of anyone who has died or anyone who has been injured in a road accident, but several families are very annoyed about the advertisement. Thousands have signed petitions to try to have it removed. In fairness, the Taoiseach has provided me with a response today by way of a letter which states this is a matter for the Road Safety Authority. Who is in charge? I wrote to Ms Murdock in the Road Safety Authority twice, but she has not replied. I wrote to the Minister, Deputy Ross. He, too, has not replied. The Taoiseach is the man in charge. We need to do something about the advertisement which is not suitable for viewing on television. It is also carried on radio and Facebook and families cannot go to the cinema without seeing it. There are two sides to every story, but the advertisement is offensive in the extreme. The Road Safety Authority must have some respect for families and victims. Those who have lost loved ones are annoyed by the advertisement.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I call Deputy O'Keeffe to raise the same matter.

Deputy Kevin O'Keeffe: Information on Kevin O'Keeffe Zoom on Kevin O'Keeffe I also wrote to Ms Moyagh Murdock in the Road Safety Authority to express my concern about the format of the advertisement that is being carried on the airwaves. The alarm bells were ringing even prior to it being shown on television. During the week prior to Christmas a news item on "Crimecall" portrayed what was coming down the road on the issue as being of a personalised nature. I am becoming concerned about the Road Safety Authority. I have great respect for Ms Murdoch, but I am concerned about the manner in which appointments are being made to the board of the authority. If the Minister, Deputy Ross, continues with the line up of appointments being made, he will turn the Road Safety Authority into a vigilante organisation. I am concerned that it is moving in that direction. Will the Taoiseach intercede and ask the authority to rejig the advertisement?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Much as I would like to be involved, I am not really involved in deciding which advertisements should be shown on television and which should not.

(Interruptions).

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I have received Deputy Mattie McGrath's correspondence which I have passed on to the Road Safety Authority. I have asked that it reply to him directly.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Is that all the Taoiseach can do?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar It is. The Deputy should read the legislation.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath It is a quango.

Deputy Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne I was discussing the issue of post offices with my colleague Deputy Eamon Scanlon. We have lost six in my constituency of Meath East. The Taoiseach also needs to know about the uproar in the town of Gurteen in County Sligo where my wife is from at the closure of its post office and the devastation being inflicted on the local community. It is still attracting hundreds of people to meetings. Many people live in the village. It something which An Post states incorrectly, which is outrageous. I pay tribute to Deputy Scanlon in his hard fight on this issue, but we now need the Government to state the post office should remain open. Apart from the six post offices that have been closed in my constituency, An Post has promised a new post office in Kentstown, County Meath, but there has been no word about it since last August.

Deputy Eamon Scanlon: Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon I attended a meeting in the village of Gurteen at 6 p.m. last Sunday evening, to which 450 people turned up. The post office in the village is being closed and it is the wrong decision. To use An Post's protocol, Mr. David McRedmond stated on RTÉ radio that where there was a population of 500 people, the post office would not close. An Post is using the 2016 census figures which are three years old in the case of this post office and on that basis is going to close it. As I said, it is the wrong decision as it is a very busy post office that would survive. Rural Deputies ask in the House for support for rural people, rural areas and villages. We are now in this position. The pensioners who collect their pension payments in Gurteen, County Sligo will now have to make a journey of 14 km to collect them. As many of them do not have a car, they will have to pay somebody to bring them there and back. Five post offices in the area have already been closed. I know that some have to close as they are not viable, but this one is. To add insult to injury, An Post officials arrived yesterday and put up a brand new sign on the post office, which is due to close in eight days. I ask the Taoiseach to talk to the Minister, Deputy Bruton, to see what can be done because this decision is wrong.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The last time Fianna Fáil was in government nearly 1,000 post offices were closed across the country.

(Interruptions).

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The situation is the same as it was then. Governments do not decide which post offices should be closed. It is not a Government decision, but there are post offices that are not viable.

Deputy Eamon Scanlon: Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon This one is.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar They do not have enough business or footfall to be sustainable. There is a system in place to allow decisions on closures to be reviewed if the post offices are viable.

Deputy Eamon Scanlon: Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon Five post offices in the area have already been closed.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris I have a question for the Minister for Justice and Equality. In the middle of January Mr. Brian McCarthy from Killarney was imprisoned for alleged contempt of court because he was occupying a building that was being repossessed by Bank of Ireland. He disputed this and has continuously been trying to obtain a writ of habeas corpus-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl We cannot become involved in court cases.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris This has to do with justice. The man in question has been trying to have a writ of habeas corpus issued to challenge his detention for contempt of court, but to date he has been denied it. There is an obligation on the Minister for Justice and Equality to ensure the writ of habeas corpus will be issued in order that the man in question can have his case heard.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl We cannot encroach on areas pertinent to the courts. We certainly cannot encroach-----

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris It is a matter of false imprisonment.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl -----or comment on a case currently before the courts. That would be highly inappropriate and cannot be done. I will not be calling the Minister for Justice and Equality who, even if I did call him, could not reply on it.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I do not have the details of the case.

Deputy Martin Ferris: Information on Martin Ferris Zoom on Martin Ferris I will give the Minister the details afterwards.

Deputy Declan Breathnach: Information on Declan Breathnach Zoom on Declan Breathnach Yesterday the issue of additional lairage for livestock at ports, particularly Calais, was raised, but my question is wider. What efforts are being made to ensure Irish hauliers, goods and trucks that will be entering or exiting EU ports will be given priority over hauliers, goods and trucks from non-EU states post-Brexit, thus limiting or mitigating concerns, particularly those of the Irish Road Haulage Association and its members, about delays in carrying on trade within EU member states?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I call Deputies Michael and Danny Healy-Rae to raise the same matter.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae Deputy Breathnach is after catching me on the hop. When he raised the issue of exports, I thought he was going to speak about the pressure we were under in trying to fulfil beef contracts with China. The factories are not doing anything to assist in that respect. I call on the Government and the Minister-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl That is a different matter. It is not about lairage.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae No, but Deputy Breathnach spoke initially about exports. To be honest-----

Deputy Declan Breathnach: Information on Declan Breathnach Zoom on Declan Breathnach I mentioned imports and exports.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae Will the Ceann Comhairle indulge me in raising the issue of beef exports to China? Currently, there are 11 meat plants, six for beef and five for pigmeat. Will the Taoiseach ensure more plants are opened to enable us to fulfil our obligations and enable hard-pressed farmers to send their beef to China?

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae A Ceann Comhairle-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl No, Deputy; the issue being raised is not the same as the previous one which was related to lairage.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae I hope I will be called soon.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The Deputy is on the list.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar On the issue of haulage, what we trying to achieve in securing ratification of the withdrawal agreement is a transition period to the end of 2020 during which nothing will change at ports. However, in a no-deal scenario lorries going from Ireland to an EU port will enter just as they do now, but those that will use the landbridge and travel through the United Kingdom may face difficulty. I am not sure if it will be possible for receiving ports on continental Europe to make a distinction between lorries from the United Kingdom and those from Ireland, but it is something we are examining.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae What about our beef exports to China?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Is the Deputy asking me to open factories?

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae I am asking the Taoiseach to ensure more factories and plants will be opened to process beef in order that farmers will be able to send it to China to fulfil contracts. The factories are monopolising and not allowing beef to be exported to China.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Does the Taoiseach have a response on that matter?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar It is a matter for the factories, but we are available to assist in any way we can.

Deputy Charlie McConalogue: Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue Yesterday the Taoiseach chided members of the Opposition for indicating that capital projects might be delayed as a result of the total mismanagement by the Government of the national children's hospital project.


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