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Order of Business

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

I join Senator Byrne in praising the new apprenticeships app. I know that the Minister of State at the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Halligan, is due to come to the House to discuss the issue of apprenticeships. We have an issue with apprenticeships. The Government has taken a variety of initiatives in respect of the national apprenticeship scheme, but also in respect of the hospitality skills oversight group report which clearly shows that there are deficiencies in the hospitality sector. We need to promote and advocate for that sector more.
Senator Devine raised the issue of the ballots of the nursing unions yesterday, which were disappointing. We need to have an honest conversation about what is available in terms of the amount of money we can spend. We agreed a public sector pay agreement before the summer and we cannot go cherry-picking at this stage. The Government has a finite amount of money. This is about taking a prudent approach to the public finances while improving pay for, in this case, nurses, who do significant work every day and who participate in and enhance the health service. It is important to recognise that there needs to be an alternative put forward in terms of how we fund all of the public sector pay demands. We have a public service stability agreement and it behoves all of us not to undermine it. We need to ensure we recognise and value those who work in our public sector. That is what Government is trying to do. It has recommended, through the Public Service Pay Commission, a 20% increase in the location and qualification allowance for nurses along with accelerated promotion in terms of senior positions. The unions have a right to make demands and to put forward their own proposals. I am for that, but it should be done as part of a conversation about the prudent management of the nation's finances.
I addressed Senator Wilson's remarks. I am not familiar with the issue which Senator Ó Donnghaile raised around the scheduling of the meetings on Brexit preparedness. I am sure meetings are being held in the north of the country, close to the Border. I am not sure of the logistics of going beyond the Border. I am not personally against the idea.