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 Header Item Ministerial Meetings (Continued)
 Header Item Appointment of Ministers
 Header Item Order of Business

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 841 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny] Nobody wants to see a return to what went on before. Nobody wants to see gardaí in the Republic having to evacuate innocent people because of a live bomb and a timer or people being evacuated anywhere else. We want to leave those days behind us and it behoves everyone to so do. That bears repetition. With the agreement of the other leaders, I will frame a motion in respect of Ballymurphy in the next while for their consideration.

  Written Answers follow Adjournment.

Appointment of Ministers

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny For the information of the Dáil I wish to announce that having informed the commission constituted as provided in section 2 of Article 14 of the Constitution, that Dáil Éireann has approved my nomination of Deputy Charles Flanagan to be a member of the Government. On 8 May 2014 the commission appointed him accordingly. Subsequently, on 8 May 2014, I assigned the Department of Justice and Equality to Deputy Frances Fitzgerald and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to Deputy Charles Flanagan.

Order of Business

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny It is proposed to take No. 9, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions; and No. 4, Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage. It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, that No. 9 shall be decided without debate. Private Members’ business shall be No. 146, motion re discretionary medical cards.

Tomorrow’s business after Oral Questions shall be No.4, Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2014 - Second Stage (resumed).

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett There is one proposal to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with No. 9, motion re ministerial rota for parliamentary questions, without debate, agreed to? Agreed.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Deputy Pat Rabbitte, warned on Sunday that if this drift is allowed to continue, the Government will not last until 2016. He said we will not see 2016. This seems to have been supported by the Tánaiste, Deputy Gilmore. Apparently the Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, is regarded as the praetorian guard of the coalition. He stressed the need for urgent action and he warned that unless the Government gets a firm grip on the political agenda, he would be "fearful of our chances of seeing 2016 as a Government". This is a quote from a senior Minister of the Government: "[T]hings have been sliding for the past three months, things have been going off the rails." He said that the coalition parties needed to meet behind closed doors and settle on a programme of renewal: "There is no point in taking flight or panicking, but we need, in the light of criticisms, to settle on a new direction." The Minister is saying that there will be amendments to the programme for Government and a new programme for Government. Can the Taoiseach confirm that there will be a review of the programme for Government and that a new programme for Government will be negotiated shortly, as per the Minister's statement?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I assure the Deputy that he does not need to be worried about drift from the Government point of view. We are firmly focused on the spring of 2016. The twin pillars given to us in the mandate by the people in 2011 were to sort out our public finances and to get our country working.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, said so.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny That is at a point where we have had the lowest interest rates in the history of the State, at 2.79%-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin That is Mario Draghi, not the Taoiseach. Will the Taoiseach talk to the Minister, Deputy Rabbitte?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----the highest growth in employment in the OECD, the continuing fall in numbers on the live register over 23 months and a refocus of the priorities. The Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, was merely endorsing what we have already said that we need to continue to implement our medium-term strategy, with a view to having our deficit below 3% by 2015 and eliminated by 2018 and full employment restored by 2020. That is the focus of the Government-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin But he said the opposite.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny If Deputy Martin has any concerns about drifting off course or straying into areas where we should not be, we are very focused on 2016, very focused on going to the end of our remit-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin He said the Government was going off the rails; he said the Government was drifting. He called for a programme of renewal.

A Deputy: You can relax, Micheál.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----and very focused on letting the people answer the question whether we sorted out the public finances and whether we got the country back working again.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Is this the document that will see us through?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I thank Deputy Martin for his concern but I assure him it will be fine.

Deputy Paul Kehoe: Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe Any ideas, Micheál?

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Government would not take them.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams I neglected to ask the Taoiseach about arranging for a debate on the North in Government time as soon as possible.

I wish to ask about the Government's commitment to the national framework for suicide prevention plan for 2015 to 2018. I understand the closing date for submissions is 6 June. The Taoiseach will be aware that each year 500 people die through suicide in this State and 300 die by suicide in the North. Countless other people self-harm. This is a crisis on a huge scale. I refer to the participation by many people in the Darkness into Light suicide awareness and fund-raising event recently. When does the Taoiseach expect the report to be published? Will he consider examining the possibility of putting in place an all-Ireland, all-island suicide prevention strategy?

Last week, the Government published the terms of reference of the expert panel to review projects by EirGrid, Grid Link and Grid West. It may also consider the North-South interconnector. There has been popular opposition because people are quite rightly worried about the pylons and their effects on the environment, health, farming and the local economy and our historic landscape. Will the Taoiseach direct EirGrid to refrain from submitting planning application until the expert panel has concluded its work?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett That is a matter for another day.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams When does the Taoiseach expect the reports from the expert panel to be concluded and published?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny On the latter question, I am bound by the Ceann Comhairle's direction. I cannot answer for Mrs. Justice McGuinness's group. It has published its terms of reference and it is now analysing the situation in respect of EirGrid, the western and southern routes and also the question of the interconnector for the North. The Minister, Deputy Rabbitte, has made it perfectly clear that we need to deal with this question of Northern Ireland because the energy situation warrants it. I cannot speak for Mrs. Justice McGuinness as to when she will respond.

The framework for suicide is called Reach Out and it will end its ten-year term this year. The Department of Health and the HSE, with the direct involvement of the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, have begun the process of developing that new framework strategy for suicide prevention for the period 2015 to 1018, to build on the work contained in that Reach Out programme. The aim of the framework will be to support population health approaches and interventions that will assist in reducing the loss of life through suicide while aiming for better co-ordination and the integration of services. This is being led by the Department of Health but it is being managed by the National Office for Suicide Prevention. The Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, recently approved the establishment of a planning oversight group and five advisory groups, covering research, policy, practice, engagement and communications and media, to drive the process. It is expected that the framework will be in place by the end of this year. Perhaps the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, is already dealing with her Northern Ireland counterpart and I would have no objection to having co-operation on an all-island strategy. There should not be any difference in these matters. I will ask the Minister of State to update the Deputy in due course.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams Go raibh maith agat.

Deputy Billy Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins Zoom on Billy Timmins I refer to No. 10 on the Order Paper which deals with the inquiry into the banking crisis. I note the timings allocated for that debate tomorrow preclude about ten Members of this House from having an opportunity to speak. Perhaps it is an error in the timings. I ask the Taoiseach if he would request the Chief Whip to extend the time by ten minutes to give others an opportunity to contribute to the debate.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I understand Deputy Timmins's request. A vote is scheduled for tomorrow evening. I will ask the Chief Whip to look at the Deputy's request to see if we can be generous if not flexible.

Deputy Billy Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins Zoom on Billy Timmins Ten minutes is all we need.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett As the Ceann Comhairle I try to be as independent as possible but there is a group of ten Deputies. If they were a party, they would be entitled to automatic speaking rights. It would be appropriate, where possible, to accommodate them as it is only right that Deputies are given an opportunity to speak.


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