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 Header Item Taoiseach's Meetings and Engagements (Continued)
 Header Item Business of Dáil
 Header Item An Bille um an gCúigiú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht (Ceart chun Tithíochta) 2017: An Chéad Chéim
 Header Item Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Right to Housing) Bill 2017: First Stage

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 944 No. 2

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The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar In respect of Deputy Micheál Martin's comments at the beginning, we are well prepared for this. The UK Prime Minister will move Article 50 tomorrow. That means sending a letter to the President of the European Council. The Council will present its draft response — it is only a draft response – by Friday. From our point of view, it is important that the draft would cover and refer to the main issues applicable here in Ireland, including the peace process, the Border, the common travel area, our trading relationships and our place in the European Union. These will all be considered and, I hope, signed off in terms of the ground rules for negotiation on 29 April. It is from then on that the real negotiation will start in respect of the issues that will arise. The common travel area is a priority for us. It has been in place since 1922. I refer to the acquired rights of the Irish and English. We will prioritise this in the negotiations with the European Union and bilaterally with Britain.

In respect of Deputy Ó Snodaigh's question, it is imperative that the British Government lives up to its responsibility in implementing in full the Good Friday Agreement. I point out to the Deputy that the Democratic Unionist Party was not in existence when the Good Friday Agreement was formed. The issue of the Irish language-----

Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh: Information on Aengus Ó Snodaigh Zoom on Aengus Ó Snodaigh It was.

Deputy Ruth Coppinger: Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger It was. It has been in existence for years.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The issue of the Irish language is important for Irish nationalists. It is something that everybody would not find intrusive. I have hopes regarding the options being considered by the Secretary of State, Mr. Brokenshire. I do not support direct rule and nobody wants more elections in the North. Therefore, there is a period of extension which will run through the recess in the Commons over the next couple of weeks. I hope this matter can be resolved. I spoke briefly to the Deputy's party leader in Derry the other day about this very issue, and I also spoke briefly to the Secretary of State. There was not much time for long discussions. I hope that an arrangement can be put together and that the parties, principally Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party, will form an Executive and have a common set of objectives. It is very important that the voice of Northern Ireland leaders be heard in respect of what they consider to be the important issues to be dealt with there.

On Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett's point, nobody condones the events that have led to the loss of innocent lives, whether in South Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Mosul or so many other locations.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Afghanistan.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The terrorists behind the attacks in Nice, the Bataclan theatre, Brussels and Germany were all internal to the countries in question. This was also the case in the United States. The individual in the most recent case, in London, had travelled up from the south of the country on one of many trips to that city. In 80 seconds of terrorist activity, he carried out the mayhem that caused loss of life to innocent people. I cannot answer the Deputy's question except to say that the geopolitical circumstances of many areas around the world are such that there are now 40 different wars or conflicts, none of which is on EU soil. That is not to say, however, that people should not be vigilant considering what has happened in EU countries in recent times.

Deputy Ruth Coppinger: Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger They are using European-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl That concludes Taoiseach's Questions. I call Deputy Jim Daly, on behalf of-----

Deputy Ruth Coppinger: Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger On a point of order, the Democratic Unionist Party was set up in 1971.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl That is not a point of order.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Gabh mo leithscéal. I apologise to the Deputy.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I call Deputy Jim Daly to present a revised Order of Business.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Deputy Coppinger is an accurate person.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I call Deputy Jim Daly to present a revised Order of Business.

Business of Dáil

Deputy Jim Daly: Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly It is proposed, notwithstanding anything in Standing Orders or in the order of the Dáil of 22 March 2017 that: (1) the Topical Issue debate shall not be taken today; (2) the divisions postponed from last Thursday, which were scheduled to be taken today, will now be taken on Thursday, 30 March; and (3) business today shall be interrupted at 6 p.m. to take statements re An Garda Síochána, which shall not exceed two hours in total and in respect of which the following arrangements shall apply: the speech of a Minister or Minister of State shall not exceed 15 minutes and the speeches of the main spokespersons for the parties or groups shall not exceed ten minutes in each case; all Members may share time; and the speeches shall be followed by a questions and answers session, which shall not exceed 35 minutes.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I take it that the proposals for today's business are agreed to? Agreed. Is the business proposed for Wednesday agreed to?

Deputy Ruth Coppinger: Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger May I raise a point on that?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Yes, of course.

Deputy Ruth Coppinger: Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger I know the Business Committee discussed this but I wanted to put on the record of the House that there is a major national strike taking place in Bus Éireann. The Government may try to pretend it does not have any role in that, but as a major shareholder, it does. The matter has not been discussed in the Dáil and is not on the agenda. To me, the obvious time for discussion would be in the morning, prior to affected workers coming to the gates of the Dáil tomorrow, potentially supported by other workers, such as staff from Dublin Bus, Iarnród Éireann, etc. When will we discuss this dispute in this House? Is there any plan to do that? The Ceann Comhairle may advise me to submit a Topical Issue matter but this is a major issue for the workers. There are 2,500 workers affected. That is quite a big workforce.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl It was discussed at the meeting of the Business Committee we just had. Members felt very strongly that it would be inappropriate to take out tomorrow's debate on Northern Ireland, which had been agreed in principle. We have a protocol, which we adopted at the last meeting, in regard to discussions in the House on industrial disputes. We will examine the request for a debate against the protocol we have adopted on Thursday.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Fianna Fáil had a Private Members' debate some weeks back but we would be open to another.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Is the business for Wednesday agreed? Agreed. Is the business agreed for Thursday? Agreed.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I thank Deputy Ruth Coppinger for pointing out to me an inaccuracy.

Deputy Ruth Coppinger: Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger It is not the first inaccuracy I have pointed out. It probably will not be the last.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I understand that. I am glad to have people who-----

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Deputy Coppinger is probably not too accurate herself.

An Bille um an gCúigiú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht (Ceart chun Tithíochta) 2017: An Chéad Chéim

Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Right to Housing) Bill 2017: First Stage

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Tairgim:

Go gceadófar go dtabharfar isteach Bille dá ngairtear Acht chun an Bunreacht a leasú.

  I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Constitution.

I feel impelled to bring forward this Bill which seeks to insert into the Constitution an imperative to establish specifically the right to secure, affordable, dignified housing appropriate to need for all residents of Ireland and, as part of that, to delimit the right to private property where it is necessary to ensure the common good and vindicate a right to housing for all residents. I believe that is necessary because it has often been cited that the constitutional protections regarding private property are a block to establishing a secure right to housing. That is something of an excuse put forward by political parties of the establishment in this country, mostly Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, which wish to protect the rights of landlords, developers and the property-owning class to make money out of property and housing. Nonetheless, it is important to clarify the Constitution and insert this imperative so that it becomes an obligation and duty of any Government to secure what is the most basic right, namely, the right to a secure, dignified and appropriate roof over one's head. This is something the current Government has singularly failed to do, as have previous Fianna Fáil Governments.


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