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 Header Item Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions (Continued)
 Header Item Ceisteanna ar Reachtaíocht a Gealladh - Questions on Promised Legislation

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 984 No. 6

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The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Deputy mentioned the HSE report. It has not gone to Government yet so it could be difficult for me to answer that question as it is not a Government report and has not gone to Government yet.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall That is Jesuitical.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I will certainly make inquiries about it. I do not see any reason it cannot be published, although there may be a reason I am not aware of as it is not a Government report.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall Will the Taoiseach commit to publishing it this week?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I cannot make a commitment on behalf of the Government to publish a report that is not a Government report. I will have to find out if there is a reason it has not been published yet.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall The Government is in charge of the HSE.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Order, please.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar To answer the Deputy's question further, I think she accused me of being in denial about the facts. What we both did is this: the Deputy gave some facts which are true and I gave other facts that are also true.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin This is Trumpian.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I would ask Deputy Shortall to bear in mind that there is a bigger picture and, when we take her facts and my facts, we get to the truth. The Deputy is only talking about one set of facts.

Ceisteanna ar Reachtaíocht a Gealladh - Questions on Promised Legislation

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher I have a long list of Deputies. I ask all Members to observe the time limit of 30 seconds. I call Deputy Micheál Martin.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin There are many challenges to the capital plan announced by the Government, particularly after the overspend on the national children's hospital and the national broadband plan. There is a huge difficulty in reconciling what has been announced with what is actually happening on the ground. In that context, one of the major infrastructure projects in the Cork area, which was due to start in 2018, is the upgrade of the Dunkettle interchange, where there has been an unexplained delay in progressing the project. Perhaps that reflects a wider problem with the capital programme, as illustrated by the Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Robert Watt, in that famous memorandum on broadband, where he said the figures do not match up.

The point I want to put to the Taoiseach is that there have been rumours to the effect there has been a major overrun on the cost of that project relative to the original estimate. We have tabled parliamentary questions, which are being referred to Transport Infrastructure Ireland, and it was stated "... it is hoped that TII will be in a position to agree and award the contract for the main construction works later this year". This has been going on for quite a number of years and there has been advanced stage preparation, but we are not getting any clarity or transparency in regard to the project. Can the Taoiseach shed any light on why there has been a delay in awarding this contract and getting the project under way? There was enabling work some months ago but that has all been demobilised, the situation seems sterile and there is no progress or movement. Is the Taoiseach aware of the cost escalation? Can he confirm to the House when he believes construction will proceed on this project?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I am afraid I am not but I will make inquiries with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and ask him to provide the Deputy with an update on the project. I am encouraged that the Deputy is in favour of the interchange project because there had been suggestions from many of his spokespeople that he believed the roads programme aspect of Project Ireland 2040 should be reviewed.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin No, the only person to suggest that was Senator Jerry Buttimer.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Deputy has yet to say which projects he wants to be reviewed.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin That is very stilly stuff. The people want to know. This has been going on for ten years.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar They want to know if the Deputy is going to cancel the roads programme.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin They do not want to know the rest. They do not believe in that silly carry-on. It is just because the Taoiseach's press office is on steroids.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar He said it should be reviewed but he refused to say which projects he wanted reviewed.

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Order, please. I call Deputy McDonald. We have to move on. There has to be order in the House.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald Absolutely. There has to be order between the parties of Government.

Ulster Bank's announcement of the sale of €900 million worth of loans to vulture funds, including 3,200 family homes with domestic mortgages, is unacceptable and morally bankrupt. The sale is only possible because the Government has given political cover and support to vulture funds. Fine Gael is as responsible for this sale as Ulster Bank. Thousands of Irish families face the potential sale of their loans to a vulture fund and they need and demand urgent action. The reality is that no loan in arrears or otherwise is safe under the current rules.

Sinn Féin's No Consent, No Sale Bill, put forward by Deputy Pearse Doherty, is making its way through the Oireachtas. I believe this Bill is urgently needed as it would ensure that banks cannot sell on loans without the direct consent of the borrower. Given the urgency at hand, will the Taoiseach assure us and ensure that this Bill will progress quickly, that it is not subjected to delay and that it is not frustrated, because those families faced with this Ulster Bank sale and others require protection. I believe that is the least the Taoiseach could afford to those families. It is high time he sided with families as against siding with the vulture funds.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Deputy is well aware I do not control this House or the other House so I cannot make any commitments when it comes to the passage of legislation or the speed thereof. What I can say is that Ulster Bank, as everyone will know, is not a State-owned bank and is, in fact, a UK-owned bank. It is really important to point out that anyone whose loan is sold on by a bank retains all the contractual rights that are in their contract and all the consumer protections they originally had. It is wrong to scare people and to suggest anything otherwise.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin I pay tribute to Mr. David-Maria Sassoli of the socialist and democratic group who was this morning elected President of the European Parliament. In recent days, we have seen a process of nomination of the leadership team for the European Union for the coming years. It obviously involves a lot of seeking of common ground between a variety of groups, geographies, genders, political traditions and so on. I welcome the gender balance of the leadership team. However, I have been very disturbed about how the Taoiseach represented the Government and this country in recent days. He has openly sided with the current leaders of Hungary, Poland and Bulgaria, who have set themselves against liberal democracy. By siding with them, he has reinforced the view that those who stand up for liberal, progressive, European democratic values will be punished. The candidacy of Frans Timmermans for European Commission President was, we are told, and I would be interested in hearing the Taoiseach's view, derailed because he criticised European countries which have undermined the rule of law. Just this morning, we have seen the 200-year-old Hungarian Academy of Sciences, an all-sciences institute, come under the direct political control of a director appointed by Viktor Orbán. Does the Taoiseach believe it is acceptable to punish European leaders who defend European values and is that an acceptable message to give to the people of Europe at this time?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar As the Deputy knows, my preferred candidate for the position of European Commission President was Manfred Weber, the candidate of my party, and I fully appreciate that the preferred candidate for Deputy Howlin was Frans Timmermans, the candidate of his party. There is nothing wrong with supporting the candidates of one's own party group, and I would do that, just as Deputy Howlin did. However, neither was able to command a majority, either in the European Parliament or the European Council, so we came up-----

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The reason given was that Timmermans-----

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I am coming to that. We came up with a compromise candidate, Ursula von der Leyen, the first female head of the European Commission, a really good candidate, a really experienced person, and somebody who comes from my own political family and who is known to many of us in government. The reason Mr. Timmermans did not have majority support in the European Council was that 11 countries did not support his nomination. Three or four did not support it for the reasons Deputy Howlin has outlined but the majority had many other reasons.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett The Government has said it is committed to universal healthcare and to ending the two-tier health system. However, Professor John Crown highlighted recently the shocking situation where people with cancer, specifically stage III melanoma, cannot get the optimum healthcare - the drug pembrolizumab - and other potentially life-saving drugs because they do not have private health insurance, or do not have a particular form of private health insurance. In the last week, I received an email from a man whose wife has stage III melanoma and who has been told she cannot get this life-saving drug because she has the wrong private health insurance cover.

I think that is utterly outrageous. Does the Taoiseach agree it is utterly outrageous that whether people gain access to the best cancer treatment, potentially life-saving treatment, should depend on whether or not they have private health insurance, or have particular private health insurance?


Last Updated: 18/06/2020 14:23:14 First Page Previous Page Page of 90 Next Page Last Page