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Appointment of Taoiseach and Nomination of Members of Government

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Appointment of Taoiseach and Nomination of Members of Government

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Appointment of Taoiseach and Nomination of Members of Government

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Senator


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Snippet Contents:

The Attorney General was female so there will be one fewer women at the Cabinet table. That is particularly disappointing at a time when we need to see more women in positions of power and influence. I very much regret that.
I very much welcome, as Deputy McDonald has done, an indication that there definitely will be a referendum to repeal the eighth amendment to the Constitution. I do not think the Government has said that before but the Taoiseach has specifically tasked the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, with arranging for a referendum, which I hope will be early in 2018. I ask the Taoiseach to set the date as soon as possible.
The first speaker in the round of debates today, the outgoing Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, referred to the need to address child poverty. The new Taoiseach has referred to it in connection with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Zappone. Addressing child poverty, however, needs to be led by the Department of the Taoiseach. It is one of the most important issues the Government needs to address, particularly as there is economic recovery and more money in the economy but many children still live in consistent poverty. I am glad the outgoing Taoiseach brought it up as one of two or three issues he specifically referred to when speaking this morning. I hope the new Government will place it centre stage because it is so important.
Among the children most at risk are those who are homeless. I wish the new Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, well in his job in that Department. It is a very challenging job. While there has been a plan and many announcements there has been very little real action. We need real action and the provision of homes for all our people. A suggestion was slipped out very quietly last week by, I think, an official of Dublin City Council, that the target of taking all families with children out of hotels by the beginning of July may not be reached. If that is the case it is most disappointing and I urge the new Minister to ensure immediately that particular target is met.
I welcome the fact the Taoiseach has said the issue of vacant homes will be addressed because there are almost 200,000 vacant homes around the country. That can be the quickest win but we have not yet seen the vacant homes strategy. That needs to be announced very quickly. I also welcome the fact the Taoiseach did suggest that he would consider a vacant homes tax. We need a tax to ensure that empty houses become homes for the many people around this country who are either homeless or at risk of homelessness. There are several housing issues that are most urgent but we particularly need to see action rather than simply words and announcements.