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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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Deputy Sean Sherlock

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Snippet Contents:

I join in wishing the Taoiseach and the new Cabinet well in their endeavours. I particularly wish the new Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan, well in his new role. I acknowledge his commitment to and role in the negotiations in Northern Ireland. He has made an impact and the parties in Northern Ireland will miss his solid engagement there.
There was a so-called public sector pay agreement that has yet to be balloted upon but there was nothing in the Taoiseach's speech tonight to give comfort to those public sector workers and trade unions about who now has political responsibility for continuing the work. I wish the new Minister for Finance and for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Donohoe, well in his endeavours. If he is to continue to lead in this it will be an onerous task in addition to responsibility for finance, public expenditure and reform. I worry that the Government will take the foot off the pedal in those important talks with the public sector unions.
In respect of Innovation 2020, I have noticed in the past year that the foot has been taken off the pedal of Ireland's research, development and innovation agenda. The innovation agenda was a key pillar of the last Government and continued to be, under the Minister of State, Deputy English, when in the Department of Jobs, Innovation and Enterprise and by the Minister, Deputy Bruton, until he became Minister for Education and Skills. It has now slipped off the agenda. Ireland is now far below average in its spending on research and development and the number of PhDs in real terms is decreasing. If we are talking about becoming an innovative island on the western periphery of Europe, Brexit has permutations too in respect of our ability to attract world class researchers to our shores. The Government needs to give priority to that and we must ensure that our spending on research, development and innovation does not become a lower priority. It needs to be given greater weight by Government.
While I congratulate the new Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Coveney, I fear that we are going to lose him because the foreign affairs agenda will perhaps take him away from the Cork agenda and the Munster agenda and the regional economic development-----