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Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh

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Order of Business
Snippet Contents:

Maidir leis an liúntas leanaí, ba mhaith liom a rá go bhfuil Sinn Féin i bhfábhar go gcoinneofaí an íocaíocht uilíoch. We are in favour of retaining universal child benefit. We would much prefer if Government Senators and Deputies focused on exactly where the wealth is, because the principle of the payment of child benefit is a payment to the child. That has always been a long-held view of the Labour Party in the past and it is a shame to see it doing a U-turn on it or talking about that at this stage. We would much prefer to see Labour Party members focusing on where the wealth of the country is and we will put forward proposals in our pre-budget submission on that issue.
I would like to mention the matter I wished to raise on the Adjournment, which has been ruled out of order. The matter relates to fire services in south Connemara, but I have been told this does not relate to the powers of the Minister. I call for a debate with the Minister to ask him to explain who is in charge of fire services. When we asked the director of services in Galway County Council the question I wanted to raise, we were told we would not get the information. The director of services is working for the county council, which is under the direct responsibility of the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government. This is an important and serious issue and there are concerns about it.
Last week was the fifth anniversary of the dreadful fire in Bray, where two fire fighters were tragically killed. Relatives have said that in the five years since that tragedy, nothing has changed with regard to how fire services are run. The issue in Connemara relates to the fact that there is no fire service based in south Connemara. We have been campaigning for that for a long time. I know a national strategy is to be put before the Houses of the Oireachtas. It would be pertinent if the Minister could come in and tell us who is in charge of the fire services in the country. Is it the Minister, and if not who is it? We should debate whether the fire services we have are suitable for our needs.