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 Header Item Secure Rents and Tenancies Bill 2016: First Stage (Continued)
 Header Item Regulation of Debt Management Advisors Bill 2011: Leave to Withdraw [Private Members]
 Header Item Debt Settlement and Mortgage Resolution Office Bill 2011: Leave to Withdraw [Private Members]
 Header Item Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland (Amendment) Bill 2011: Leave to Withdraw [Private Members]
 Header Item Ceisteanna - Questions
 Header Item Programme for Government Implementation

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 930 No. 1

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  1 o’clock

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Is the Bill opposed?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny No.

  Question put and agreed to.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

Deputy Eoin Ó Broin: Information on Eoin Ó Broin Zoom on Eoin Ó Broin I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

  Question put and agreed to.

Regulation of Debt Management Advisors Bill 2011: Leave to Withdraw [Private Members]

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath I move: "That, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, leave be granted to withdraw the Regulation of Debt Management Advisors Bill 2011."

  Question put and agreed to.

Debt Settlement and Mortgage Resolution Office Bill 2011: Leave to Withdraw [Private Members]

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath I move: "That, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, leave be granted to withdraw the Debt Settlement and Mortgage Resolution Office Bill 2011."

  Question put and agreed to.

Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland (Amendment) Bill 2011: Leave to Withdraw [Private Members]

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath I move: "That, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders, leave be granted to withdraw the Central Bank and Financial Services Authority of Ireland (Amendment) Bill 2011."

  Question put and agreed to.

Ceisteanna - Questions

Programme for Government Implementation

 1. Deputy Paul Murphy Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he will report on the implementation of the programme for Government.  [34862/16]

 2. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he will report on the implementation of the programme for Government.  [36013/16]

 3. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he will report on the implementation of the Programme for Government.  [36051/16]

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, together.

A Programme for a Partnership Government was published on 11 May and sets out a detailed set of actions to be implemented over the lifetime of the Government. The programme has one simple objective at its core, which is to make people's lives better in every part of the country. The Government is working to build society with recovery is felt by every individual and family around Ireland.

I met Ministers and Ministers of State to agree the priorities for the first year, taking into account the actions and ambitions in the programme for Government. All Departments are finalising new three-year statements of strategy as required under the Public Services Management Act 1997, which will set out the key objectives and priorities reflecting the programme for Government commitments for which they are responsible. The implementation of A Programme for a Partnership Government requires a new relationship between the Government and Oireachtas, and this is reflected in significant new Dáil reforms which are being implemented, providing a significantly greater role for members of Dáil Éireann.

Ireland is facing many challenges ahead internationally and domestically. It is important that the Government maintains a focus on managing the challenges of Brexit and ensures our continuing economic recovery is not compromised. Equally, at home much work remains to be done in areas such as housing, homelessness, education, health and rural development, and reference was made to mental health today. We are committed to tackling these challenges in order to build a society where the recovery is felt by every individual.

We have made good headway in the first six months. Some of the key issues progressed include: a new action plan for housing and homelessness; the establishment of a €200 million local infrastructure housing activation fund; an increase in rent limits under the rent supplement and housing assistant payment; the establishment of a task force on the implementation of personalised budgets for persons with disabilities; the establishment of the Citizen's Assembly; a new dedicated Cabinet committee working on a new rural action plan; the establishment of a mobile phone and broadband task force; the introduction of two weeks' paternity leave in September 2016; and the implementation of reforms to give the Oireachtas a stronger role in planning and budgets.

As well as publishing an annual report, the Government will shortly publish one of the many regular short updates on the implementation of A Programme for a Partnership Government which will be laid before the Oireachtas. As set out in the programme for Government, only a strong economy supporting people at work can pay for the services needed to create a fair society. On that note, I welcome yesterday's announcement from the CSO that unemployment has dropped to 7.5%. Continuing to focus on job creation and getting people back to work remains a top priority within the programme for Government.

Deputy Paul Murphy: Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy The executive summary of the programme for Government states: "Our approach to governing will be clearly seen in how we address the issues of housing and homelessness". On that basis, would the Taoiseach agree that the approach of the Government to governing has been a disaster? One can compare the circumstances facing people dealing with the housing and homelessness crisis now with the situation in May. There are now 249 more homeless children than in May, and the total is now almost 2,500. In total, there 539 more homeless people and 119 more homeless families living in emergency accommodation now than when the Government promised to end homelessness. The 6,700 homeless adults and children in emergency accommodation at the end of September is the equivalent of the population of a medium-sized town, slightly bigger than Ballinasloe or Bandon.

It has become normal during the term of office of the Government for families in Dublin city to spend up to two years in emergency accommodation and 12 to 15 months in South Dublin County Council. My constituency is included in South Dublin County Council, and in January 274 people were registered as homeless with the council compared to a figure of 439 in October, a 60% increase.

Would the Taoiseach agree that by that standard, the approach to governing of the Government is a disaster? The stock response from the Government over the past couple of weeks to questions like this is to herald the record levels of exits from homelessness, as the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Deputy Simon Coveney, did in a reply to a question from me last week. The only reason there is a record number of exits from homelessness is because of the record number of entries, and the number of homeless people continues to increase. It seems that the reason no progress is being made on this issue is that the Government refuses to deal with what it knows are the two main causes of homelessness, namely, rising rents and the eviction of tenants because landlords want to sell.

It is clear that the Government is not going to introduce rent controls. The Minister, Deputy Coveney, was reported as saying he will not introduce them because they would discourage developers from building new homes and that he does not want to put the dead hand of regulation on the construction sector and therefore stop any momentum that is starting in the building of more rental accommodation. If we do not break with that free-market mantra, the housing crisis will continue to deteriorate. We need State action to resolve the housing crisis, otherwise the programme for Government will be a complete failure.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams In fairness to the Taoiseach, this is a Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael programme for Government. The responsibility for all of the lack of delivery rests in the confidence and supply agreement. It is revealing to watch the play-acting that is going on day in and day out. The fact is that the Taoiseach is in Government as a gift from Fianna Fáil, and the electorate who are dependent on the Government doing the right thing is being failed. That is most obvious in the lack of capacity in the health system.

Can the Taoiseach confirm that the Government plans to use prefabs, as reported in the media, to relieve the pressure on our emergency services? Is the HSE about to evaluate a series of bids it received? The Taoiseach is very conscience of his constituency and as a result of his long career here of the number of schools which were given prefabs as temporary accommodation. Decades later, children are still being taught in unsuitable classrooms. Is this the future for our emergency services?

It has been reported that 34 patients over the age of 75 were left on hospital trolleys for more than 24 hours on every day of every week in the first seven months of this year. A total of 7,161 patients were left on trolleys for more than 24 hours. The Taoiseach said the figures were down today. There are 464 people on trolleys today, but what were the figures for yesterday? They were 493 yesterday and on Monday they were 400. The crisis is ongoing and the figures for trolley and overcrowding are deteriorating. There is chaos as the winter kicks in.

The programme for Government also commits that persons with disabilities shall be supported to maximise their potential by removing barriers which impact on access to services, education, work and health care. The budget announced funding of €2 million for projects that provide pre-activation supports for people with disabilities in 2017. I have been in contact with the Minister responsible every week, but so far there has been no announcement on where the €2 million is going.

I refer in particular to WALK PEER, an organisation in my constituency. Its funding will run out at Christmas. Could we get some clarification from the Taoiseach on how the €2 million will be spent and whether projects like WALK PEER will be given the appropriate level of funding to which they are entitled?

The Taoiseach said he would contact the Egyptian President following the postponement of the trial of Ibrahim Halawa for the 16th time.


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