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 Header Item Harbour Authorities (Continued)
 Header Item Mountain Rescue Service
 Header Item Business of Dáil
 Header Item Leaders' Questions

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 876 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett] I can show it to the Minister some time. This is the crazy stuff that is going on. There are no minutes taken by the members of the little cabal that are hatching this plan. We have asked if there are minutes of any of their meetings. They go off on junkets to the United States. There are no minutes.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I will come back to the Deputy. I call the Minister now.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett It has to be dissolved.

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe It is a real pity that the Deputy has to use language such as "cabal" and "leeching" when talking about a group of people who are working within governance structures to secure a future for Dún Laoghaire Harbour. I have already outlined to the Deputy the model under which a port like Dún Laoghaire will be integrated into the local authority. I will take the decision on the manner in which that integration will take place.

I have the greatest respect for the work that the management of Dún Laoghaire Harbour is doing. It has faced many challenges in the past and is looking to create a sustainable plan to develop the port in the future. The way in which that work will be integrated into the local authority will be made in the manner I have just outlined to the Deputy.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett I am very serious about this. There is a rebellion taking place in Dún Laoghaire. A public meeting this week was packed. There is overwhelming anger against this plan. Save Our Seafront, a group in which I am involved, is having another meeting tomorrow which, I think, will be absolutely packed. Protests will almost certainly follow because of extraordinary anger at the fact that it is a cabal. What would the Minister call a group of three people who are accountable to nobody, who do not take minutes of meetings, who go off on junkets and who come up with plans that will have a massive effect on the harbour, potentially threatening it with privatisation because it involves mortgaging the assets? They do not take minutes of the meetings and when we ask questions about what they are doing we are told: "We're not giving you the answers." That is what is going on and it is not acceptable.

Let us consider the state of the harbour. It has lost Stena. Hundreds of thousands of euro have been lost on master plans that just dissolved into thin air. It is crazy stuff.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I thank the Deputy.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett In the interests of democracy and in the best interests of this important amenity and the Dún Laoghaire area generally, we should dissolve the harbour board and bring it under direct public control where there is real accountability and genuine public input into the plans to develop and protect this harbour as a unique public amenity.

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe The Deputy's language of describing a group of people as a cabal is unacceptable.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Should I take the Minister to a meeting?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt The Minister has the floor.

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I am struck that whenever I make a genuine attempt to respond to matters that I accept are of interest, the colour of the Deputy's language intensifies and the pitch of his voice gets higher.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett It is because I am annoyed.

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe These are important matters that need to be dealt with. As I have said in the House already, it is very important that an acceptable and secure plan is developed for the future of Dún Laoghaire Harbour. There is a group of people at the harbour who are working very hard to deliver that. I have outlined how I will deal with its integration in the future. As I have said, regardless of any views on the plan they propose, the Deputy's language is inappropriate in terms of how he is describing them. I will look at the model I have described and I will make a decision on how it is integrated into the local authority.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Deputy Kyne is next because Deputy Jim Daly is not present.

  Question No. 10 replied to with Written Answers.

Mountain Rescue Service

 11. Deputy Seán Kyne Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne asked the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe if he is aware of the doubling of funding for mountain rescue teams in Northern Ireland in April 2015; if, in the context of the improving financial position of the State, an increase in funding will be considered to support the vital work of mountain rescue teams; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16439/15]

Deputy Seán Kyne: Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne What are the Minister's future plans for mountain rescue funding?

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I am aware of the measure announced recently by the Northern Ireland Minister for Justice doubling the funds provided by the Northern Ireland Executive to search and rescue volunteer groups.

My Department recognises and acknowledges the contribution that these voluntary groups make to their communities and to the general public. As the Deputy is aware, my Department, through the Irish Coast Guard administers a grant for mountain rescue teams, and other voluntary search and rescue groups such as the Irish Cave Rescue Organisation, the Search and Rescue Dog Association and 12 individual community rescue boat teams. In 2014 a total of €250,000 was paid in grants to these voluntary organisations. In addition, in 2014 my Department granted a special once-off capital grant of €200,000 to Mountain Rescue Ireland, the all-island overarching body responsible for mountain rescue, for the purchase of vehicles.

As I have previously indicated to the House, MRTs are not tasked directly by the IRCG; rather they are tasked by this Garda Síochána, which comes under the remit of my colleague, the Minister for Justice and Equality. While I accept the vital nature of the commitment made by this voluntary group, I believe that budgetary priority must be given to the primary responsibility of providing a marine emergency response service. The IRCG has responsibility to equip and train approximately 918 volunteers from 44 volunteer units around the country. Each unit is subject to operational readiness audits to ensure they are positioned to provide a safe and effective service.

Therefore, with the current and competing pressures among the budgets in my portfolio, I cannot commit to any increase in funding at present. I draw the Deputy's attention to the support we have been able to give in the recent past.

Deputy Seán Kyne: Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne I thank the Minister for his reply. I acknowledge the work of his predecessor and the Minister of State, Deputy Ring, in getting last year's funding. The Minister knows of the great success of the Wild Atlantic Way through his Department and the increase in tourist numbers that has happened as a result. There is huge potential next year for that. I ask the Minister to keep it in mind. They do great work and are always under pressure for finances. I acknowledge the support in the past and whatever can be done in the future by way of additional support would be welcome.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath The Minister of State, Deputy Ring, would want to up his game.

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I am aware that the volunteers in question do great work. The Minister of State, Deputy Ring, was heavily involved in the matter last year and has a great interest in it.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath He has not delivered enough.

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe As I said a special allocation of €200,000 was made last year as a result of the interest the Minister of State, Deputy Ring, and the Minister, Deputy Varadkar, had in the matter. That money was provided for the purchase of vehicles to allow the work the Deputy has described to be done better.

  Written Answers follow Adjournment.

Business of Dáil

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny It is proposed notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders that the motion regarding the by-election for Carlow-Kilkenny shall be taken immediately after leaders' contributions on the spring economic statement today and shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion after 25 minutes and the following arrangements shall apply. The speeches shall be confined to two Ministers, with one from each party in government and the spokespersons from Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group, who shall be called upon in that order and shall not exceed five minutes in each case and such Members may share time. The sitting shall then be suspended under Standing Order 23(1) for one hour.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Is that agreed? Agreed.

Leaders' Questions

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Yesterday I asked the Taoiseach if the inquiry initiated by the Government into the IBRC and the Siteserv deal would cover the buying and selling of shares in the period in advance of the sale of Siteserv, and if we would have full transparency over who bought the shares and who benefited from the €5 million pay-out.

I also want to deal with the relationship between IBRC and the Department of Finance. The Government's press release is extraordinary in that it mentions concerns raised in the Dáil and elsewhere but omits the crucial issue of concerns raised at the highest level in the Department of Finance in terms of the operation of the IBRC.


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