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 Header Item Electricity (Supply) (Amendment) Bill 2017: First Stage (Continued)
 Header Item Topical Issue Matters
 Header Item Ceisteanna - Questions
 Header Item Cabinet Committee Meetings

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 937 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Eugene Murphy: Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy] None of us in this House can sit around any longer and allow the suffering endured in recent years by very good people who have contributed to this country down the years and who are seeing their livelihoods destroyed to continue. This Bill will be followed by a separate one that aims to create a single agency for the River Shannon. Many communities, towns and villages in my constituency of Roscommon-Galway and throughout Longford, Offaly, Clare and Limerick have suffered unbelievably and countless other communities have been under siege. This is the only phrase we can use. We must be brave, do the right thing for our communities and take decisions. We need to act on this now. I hope that all Members of this House, including the Government, will be able to support the progress of this Bill because it is essential to rally behind the people and take many of them out of the difficulty they have suffered.

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

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar 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 Eugene Murphy: Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

  Question put and agreed to.

Topical Issue Matters

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I wish to advise the House of the following matters in respect of which notice has been given under Standing Order 29A and the name of the Member in each case: (1) Deputy Fergus O'Dowd - the extension of the designated rent pressure zones to County Louth; (2) Deputy Michael D'Arcy - the IDA's intentions to provide a property for FDI investment for Wexford town; (3) Deputy Sean Fleming - the death of a person (details supplied) in Kilkenny city on 15 February 2012; (4) Deputies Louise O'Reilly and David Cullinane - the withdrawal of the appeal in the recent consultants contracts case; (5) Deputy Niamh Smyth - the introduction of the 20-week anomaly scan at Cavan General Hospital; (6) Deputy John Curran - the lack of dental services for children in Clondalkin; (7) Deputy Bernard J. Durkan - delays in development at the town centre in Naas, County Kildare; (8) Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire - the funding of Scouting Ireland; (9) Deputy Brian Stanley - the future of Bord na Móna plants at Kilberry in County Kildare and Cuil na Móna in County Laois; (10) Deputy Jackie Cahill - the ongoing GP concerns which impact on accident and emergency services; (11) Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin - a request for a statutory inquiry into the investigation of a case, details supplied; (12) Deputies Joan Burton and Gino Kenny - the proposed sale of Luggala House and estate in County Wicklow; (13) Deputies Pearse Doherty and Pat The Cope Gallagher - the suspension of chemotherapy referrals and resourcing concerns at Letterkenny University Hospital; (14) Deputy Martin Heydon - school facilities in the Curragh and Newbridge areas; (15) Deputy Mattie McGrath - concerns around the National Children's Hospital project at St. James's Hospital in Dublin; (16) Deputies Clare Daly and Maureen O'Sullivan - the handling of the Magdalen redress scheme; (17) Deputy John Brassil - the lack of a dedicated obstetric theatre in University Hospital Kerry; (18) Deputy Billy Kelleher - the provision of FreeStyle Libre under the long-term illness scheme; (19) Deputy Mick Wallace - President Trump's executive order restricting immigration; and (20) Deputies Richard Boyd Barrett and Bríd Smith - statements by EU Commissioner Vestager on the Apple tax ruling.

The matters raised by Deputies Fergus O'Dowd, Pearse Doherty and Pat The Cope Gallagher, Mattie McGrath and Joan Burton and Gino Kenny have been selected for discussion.

Ceisteanna - Questions

Cabinet Committee Meetings

 1. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny when the last meeting of the Cabinet Committee on European Affairs was held; and when the next meeting is scheduled.  [2760/17]

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Cabinet Committee on European Affairs was re-established by the Government on 23 May 2016 and has met on three occasions to date. The last meeting took place on 12 December prior to the December meeting of the European Council. It is expected that the next meeting of the Cabinet committee will take place in advance of the March meeting of the European Council. A date has not yet been fixed for the Cabinet committee meeting.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams I wish to ask the Taoiseach about three issues that may have been discussed at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on European Affairs. I know the Taoiseach is limited in terms of what he can say. The first relates to the motion committing this State to taking in 200 children from the former migrant camp in Calais. The Taoiseach knows that the Ministers for Justice and Equality and Children and Youth Affairs travelled to Greece and France to discuss this. Can we be updated on these plans?

I again raise the issue of Palestine and the Taoiseach's downright stubborn refusal to follow through on the Oireachtas motion that acknowledged the state of Palestine. He knows that the Israeli Government will build another 566 new settler homes in east Jerusalem. An internal report by EU member states' ambassadors to the Palestinian territories filed only last month has warned of a loss of hope among Palestinians. From my contacts in that region, I know that this is the case. The ambassadors' report called on the EU to send a message that Israel must stop its settlement policy. I have raised this question with the Taoiseach at least a dozen times. He has just dodged the issue, has given me a fudged and ambiguous answer and has refused to send a message of hope to the people of Palestine. Will he formally agree to recognise the state of Palestine, for which the Oireachtas voted?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Ministers for Justice and Equality and Children and Youth Affairs have been in contact with the authorities in Calais in respect of Ireland unilaterally making an option to take in 200 unaccompanied minors. Sometimes they are referred to as children but in the vast majority of cases, they are not children but young adults or in their late teens or early 20s. The Ministers had quite a discussion over there. It was not discussed at the meeting of this Cabinet committee but that work is ongoing. The Ministers also visited Greece to take unaccompanied minors who in many cases were younger to Ireland as part of that.

The Deputy raised the issue of Palestine. This has gone on for a very long time. Either we accept the two-state solution or we do not. There has been a change of emphasis with the new US Administration. I have said previously that if there is a seriousness about dealing with this, it must be on the basis of the long-standing two-state solution, which we support. I have had representations from ambassadors from Palestine and Israel, both of which are contradictory, and I will not pronounce on them here. I have spoken to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade about this. It is an issue we need to consider. For Israel to announce unilaterally that it intends to build very significant housing on West Bank lands is not in keeping with the two-state solution or that process. It is a complicated issue.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams The Oireachtas voted on this two years ago.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I am aware of that but I am being approached very vociferously about the matter from both sides in respect of very contradictory measures.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Has the Cabinet committee prepared any position papers on the impact of Brexit on Ireland. If so, will those papers be shared with us in this House? Has the Taoiseach read the comments by Peter Navarro, the top trade adviser to President Trump, where he attacked Germany and accused it of using a grossly undervalued euro to exploit the US? Does the Taoiseach have a view on that?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar This committee has not produced a series of papers on Brexit options but the Brexit committee has. I have told the Deputy previously that as a party leader, I will see to it that he gets a full briefing from senior officials in respect of questions he raises or information he needs. A range of options have been looked at. The reason for the non-publication of these to date is because it is still not clear what the outcome will be in respect of the British Government. In respect of the British Prime Minister's speech at Lancaster House, clearly, Great Britain is moving from the Single Market. There is clarity there but there is no clarity regarding the British final proposition as to where it sees itself within the customs union. Obviously, this has implications for trade not just here but internationally depending on the nature of the proposition made.

I do not have the detail of the comments made by Mr. Navarro but, obviously, this particular Administration has a different view of Europe than the previous one. No doubt, this matter will be raised and discussed at the Finance Ministers' Council meeting and at the European Council meeting in Malta on Friday.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin As the Taoiseach would accept, the EU is facing a deep and growing series of threats. Ireland is very much in the front line of these threats in terms of a move away from free trade and shared rule making and efforts to change tax rules. The pressure on the Government concerning the EU is dramatically higher than it has been at almost any time over the past 50 years. It seems that the Cabinet Committee on European Affairs needs to engage in a more reflective approach with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in respect of the EU generally and its future. We are seeing a lot of activity but not a lot of action. I put it to the Taoiseach that in six years, we have yet to produce a core statement of Government policy on the future of the EU. It is interesting that the head of the National Trade Council in the US has launched a significant attack on the EU. It is very clear that President Trump and his Administration have very negative views about the EU and seem to be joining with those on the far left and far right in trying to destabilise the EU.

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