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 Header Item Spring Economic Statement: Statements (Resumed) (Continued)
 Header Item Business of Dáil
 Header Item Carlow-Kilkenny By-election: Issue of Writ

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 876 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Stephen S. Donnelly: Information on Stephen Donnelly Zoom on Stephen Donnelly] I was at a fantastic youth outreach programme in Bray on Monday. It turns out that over the past four years, its funding has dropped by 31%. That has got to stop, and that kind of investment from the State must be some of the most important and beneficial spending. Do not reduce capital gains tax. The wealthy will get wealthier anyway, so the money should be reinvested in youth outreach, community-based care, third level colleges and DEIS facilities. That is what we must start doing, and we must invest in the future.

I do not believe people mind paying their taxes if they know those taxes are respected, spent well and invested in them, their children, communities or their country. This is a timely debate and we are at an inflection point. The entire country has come through a very difficult time and the question is where do we all want to go. We are a low-tax economy so let us keep a competitive advantage on tax. For goodness sake, let us start investing in the future as well. If we are going to compete internationally in the next ten years, we must get our house in order. That means bringing everybody out of the lost decade and ensuring we do not lose any more.

Business of Dáil

Deputy Billy Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins Zoom on Billy Timmins On a brief point of order, I wonder if by agreement of the House could I and my colleagues have a couple of minutes to contribute to the debate as our party will have a first-time candidate in the constituency?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt The order has been made and allows time for Ministers, as well as the leaders of Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and the Technical Group.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The order has been set.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt That was the order made but there is a provision for sharing time. It is a limited debate, with five minutes allocated to each person.

Deputy Billy Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins Zoom on Billy Timmins My understanding is the debate is due to start at 1.36 p.m. If we begin early, perhaps I could have a couple of minutes at the end. Two minutes will do.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Deputy must be joking.

Deputy Joe Carey: Information on Joe Carey Zoom on Joe Carey The order is set.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt Could I get the agreement of the House on that? Is it agreed? All right.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Hold on.

Deputy Joe Carey: Information on Joe Carey Zoom on Joe Carey The order was made.

Deputy John Halligan: Information on John Halligan Zoom on John Halligan On a point of order, as this is such an important issue, if there is speaking time available, it should be used.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt That is agreed.

Deputy Billy Timmins: Information on Billy Timmins Zoom on Billy Timmins Are we getting two minutes at the end?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt That is agreed. We have time for that.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin That is without precedent.

Carlow-Kilkenny By-election: Issue of Writ

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy James Reilly): Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I move:

That, pursuant to section 39 of the Electoral Act 1992 and owing to the vacancy in the office of the Clerk of the Dáil, the Ceann Comhairle direct the Clerk-Assistant of the Dáil to issue his writ for the election of a Member to fill the vacancy which has occurred in the membership of the present Dáil consequent on the resignation of Deputy Phil Hogan, a Member for the constituency of Carlow-Kilkenny.

Commissioner Phil Hogan was first elected to this House in 1989 and was re-elected in every subsequent general election. This was in no small way due to his reputation for serving his constituents to the best of his ability. I congratulate the former Deputy on becoming Ireland's new Commissioner and securing the important post of Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development. He will now play a real and important role in shaping the future of Irish and European agriculture, and also the future direction of Europe in a broader sense. I wish him every success in his important work in Europe.

  The House is aware that this Government reformed the Electoral Act in 2011 by providing that a by-election must take place within six months of a vacancy arising. Accordingly, we have now decided to move the writ so the people of Carlow-Kilkenny can be fully represented in the Dáil once again. We propose a polling date of Friday, 22 May 2015. The Fine Gael Party is proud to put forward an excellent candidate, Councillor David Fitzgerald, who I know is ably qualified to represent the needs and interests of the people of Carlow-Kilkenny if elected to do so by the people. I had the honour of canvassing with him last week.

  It is inevitable that throughout the course of this by-election debate there will be a focus on the state of the country and the role being played by the Government in the future direction of the country. The plan we have been implementing for economic recovery is working and our country is now moving in the right direction. Ireland is on the path to recovery. This Government has a proven plan for the remainder of this decade to secure and strengthen that recovery, and we are never going back to the days of boom and bust. This Government has got the public finances under control and we will continue to prioritise the restoration of our national competitiveness and the stability of public finances in the years ahead. None of this would have been possible without the sacrifices of the Irish people.

  Our plan will ensure a fair sharing of the benefits of recovery with those already at work. The Minister for Finance, Deputy Noonan, has secured up to €750 million in tax cuts for Ireland's workers as part of the next budget. A similar amount will be available for the later years of this decade, allowing for a multi-year programme of targeted tax cuts for Ireland's low and middle income workers. It is the goal of this Government to make work pay and pay more. This Government's jobs plan will lead to full employment by 2018 and a return for our emigrants. Strong growth in jobs is funding tax cuts for working people, and more people in every part of the country will start to experience the economic recovery in their daily lives.

  The greatest risk to recovery, job creation and a brighter future is the risk of political instability. This Government will ensure that the progress we have made to date will not be jeopardised, and that the people can trust the Government to make the necessary decisions to continue to build a strong economy that will provide quality jobs for our people, which is, after all, our ultimate aim. With those jobs, there will be more taxes and resources to keep our people at work, repair damaged services and restore our society.

Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Ann Phelan): Information on Ann Phelan Zoom on Ann Phelan I welcome the opportunity to speak on the moving of the writ for the by-election in Carlow-Kilkenny arising from Mr. Phil Hogan's appointment to the European Commission. As his constituency colleague, I thank Commissioner Hogan for his work in the area for many years. He is continuing this with his work in Brussels in the agricultural portfolio. This is an important issue for Ireland and he has all our support in this new project. In my capacity as Minister of State with responsibility for rural economic generation, I visited Commissioner Hogan in January in Brussels and we agreed that Leader funding, which is very important to the rural affairs portfolio, could be used to draw down extra EU investment at a very low interest rate for projects and small and medium enterprises in rural areas.

The Labour Party looks forward to this by-election in Carlow-Kilkenny on 22 May. We have a proud record of representation for the people of the constituency, particularly in my county of Kilkenny, where I am honoured to continue that tradition. I follow in the footsteps of people like Mr. Séamus Pattison, who served in Dáil Éireann for over 40 years, from 1961 to 2007. In that time, he made a significant contribution to Kilkenny, the Labour Party and the Irish nation. I continue that tradition of hard-working, responsible public representation. After the election, I hope to be joined in Dáil Éireann by my colleague, Councillor William Quinn. He is also a very hard-working public representative for south Carlow. He is based in Borris and as a small farmer, he is fully aware of the challenges faced by rural communities.


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