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Appointment of Taoiseach and Nomination of Members of Government (Continued)

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 953 No. 4

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry] There are many more men and women in sleeping bags now than was the case when this Government took the reins. In fact, when Deputy Coveney took the position of Minister with responsibility for housing in May of last year, there were 1,994 children homeless in this State. The figure is now 2,708, which is an increase of 35%. We saw the scandal last month of 12 families with more than 30 children being told to go to Garda stations for accommodation overnight.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney That is not true

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry Three families were forced to sleep rough in a nearby park.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney That is not true either.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Fake news.

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald It is not true.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney It is not true.

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Fake news.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry It is true.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Fake news.

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris It is not true.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Deputy is misleading the House.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry Let me say as well, a Cheann Comhairle, that the Minister can shout about fake news all he wants-----

Deputy Regina Doherty: Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty It is true that it is fake news.

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris It is fake news.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry -----but the fact is that the number of homeless children in this State on his leaving his watch is far above when he took over the job.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett It has increased by 35%. That is a fact.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry That is a fact by any standards. Will we have more of the same from the new Minister, Deputy Murphy, or will we see a change in policy? The Taoiseach indicates that there is to be an increase in local authority house building. We will hold him to that, and it must not and cannot be a small or token increase. There needs to be a major - even a massive - increase in local authority house building. We will watch that one very carefully. We also need rent controls to take on the landlord interests and a banning of economic evictions. We will continue to push for that.

Deputy Paul Kehoe is to be reappointed as Minister of State with special responsibility for defence. I do not think that they will be jumping up and down for joy in the barracks up and down the country this evening. He has failed to address the low pay crisis that exists among the ranks of the Defence Forces. One in five is on family income supplement so that their families might live free from poverty. It was tremendous at the weekend to see the wives and partners of the Defence Forces group organise the largest protest of Defence Forces families seen in this State in 25 years. It happened in County Kildare when more than 200 marched to the Minister of State's Department headquarters. That group will do so again because that is a movement that is on an upward curve. I will leave that point except to state that we will be putting forward a Bill in this House next week on the question of union rights for soldiers. The Minister of State can expect sharp debate on the issue.

The final point I would like to make relates to a very particular case. That the Minister, Deputy Harris, is back in the Department of Health has been spoken of as some kind of punishment. If I were Minister for Health, I would see it as a tremendous opportunity.

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris So do I.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan He does.

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris If Deputy Barry was Minister for Health, we would be in trouble.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry It would be an opportunity to introduce a national health service, which is what is needed in this country. However, the very first thing I would do is attempt to ensure justice for Vera Twomey. I drove down to Vera's home in Aghabullogue, County Cork, at the start of this week and sat with her over a cup of tea in her kitchen. She told me about how she is being forced to go abroad with her family. Why? To access medicine for her sick child. Tonight, as this debate is taking place, she is packing her bags and making the preparations to go, perhaps as early as next week.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Deputy should not be abusing Vera Twomey for political reasons. He is a disgrace.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett She is texting us here.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry Yes.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett She is texting us here.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I talk to her too. The Deputies should not be politicising her case.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry Let us see what Vera Twomey thinks about the debate here tonight----

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Let us see what she thinks.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry -----and what the Minister, Deputy Coveney, has to say on the issue.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney She is a vulnerable person and the Deputy should not be using her for political reasons.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett That is cynical.   The Minister broke his promises to her.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry Yes, she is a vulnerable person which is precisely the reason-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Deputies, please.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney She is a good person and a vulnerable person and the Deputies should not be using her for political reasons.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry She is a good person. I agree with that entirely. What should be done on foot of those points are two things. First, stop the foot dragging and the attempt to delay the Bill to legalise medicinal cannabis-----

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris The Deputy is not a doctor.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry -----and do what needs to be done and talk to the people in the HSE to ensure-----

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Let doctors make decisions and not politicians.

Deputy Simon Harris: Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris Dr. Barry.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry Stop interrupting..

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Deputy is abusing a vulnerable family.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Thank you, Deputy Barry. Your time is up.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett The Government has ignored the Irish Medical Organisation.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Did the Deputy bring the cameras with him?

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry The Irish Medical Organisation has called for change on this issue.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Did he bring the cameras with him?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Ministers, please.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry It is the Government's foot dragging-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The Deputy's time is up.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry My time is up because of the interruptions.

Deputy Regina Doherty: Information on Regina Doherty Zoom on Regina Doherty That is what he spends his life doing in this House.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry I will finish on this sentence.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Stop provoking them, please.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry I will finish on this sentence. I have the record tonight of being interrupted by the greatest number of Ministers. Is that not some record to have?

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan The record for making the most outrageous allegations.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry Stop delaying. Stop the foot dragging on the legalisation of medical cannabis and do what needs to be done to assist Vera Twomey. Stop the scandal of her being forced to leave the country to get medicine for her sick child.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed I am surprised at Deputy Boyd Barrett.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Leave her out of politics and the Deputy might help her.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Our next speaker is Deputy Clare Daly.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The Deputy knows that is an unfair exploitation.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett It is absolutely not. The Government absolutely let Vera Twomey down consistently. Ask her.

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald The Deputy is not a doctor.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney They drag her into politics.

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

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath They exploit a vulnerable woman.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl We would expect more of the Ministers to try to restrain themselves and not be provoked.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney When they bring someone like Vera into the conversation-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I call Deputy Clare Daly.

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly In deference to the hour and the tetchiness of the Front Bench, I will try to be briefer than the time allotted. I am sharing that time with my colleague, Deputy Tommy Broughan. I wish to start by saying that there is an incredible irony in tonight's situation. We heard the resounding applause earlier about the talk of curtailing the rights of Members on this side of the House, yet Deputy Micheál Martin, the great advocator of equality of speaking time, managed to hog the entire 30 minutes of Fianna Fáil's speaking time entirely for himself.

Deputies: Hear, hear.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald Good point.

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly It makes a bit of an irony out of proportionality and inequality and leads us into a situation, which we have heard a lot of tonight, where language is losing its meaning.

  I do not claim to know the Taoiseach at all but I remember him as a larger person than he is now when he was a member of Fingal County Council. He usually arrived in late to the meetings - he had probably been at work - with a can of Coke and a Mars bar in his hand. However, I also do not ascribe to the points made by other people earlier who said that he did not distinguish himself in his ministerial offices and that he had not stood out. As far as I am concerned, he did a good job in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport. When I had to go to him on issues of health, he distinguished himself to me. I associate myself with the remarks made earlier by Deputy Wallace that we respect him, but that does not mean that we will spare him. It is very much in the context of those remarks and in all sincerity that I can genuinely say that I am utterly gobsmacked and underwhelmed by the announcement of his new Cabinet tonight. In some ways I just cannot believe it. It is not a good sign for his term of office and I genuinely think he has made a serious mistake here tonight.

  People identify the Taoiseach as someone with a bit of backbone who is not afraid to stand out from the crowd. He displayed that when he was the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and he was the first Minister that Maurice McCabe went to. We remember the time when we could not get issues about Maurice McCabe's case onto the agenda. He was the Minister to whom Deputy Wallace tabled a question about something else but brought in the whistleblowing points. In fairness to him, he answered Deputy Wallace on those points and put the issue on the record for the first time - showing backbone and balls.

  However, we did not see it here tonight. The Cabinet we got is mediocrity and political expediency. Without being derogatory, I know he did not have an abundance of people to play around with, but he could have shaken things up more than he did. By arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, the Taoiseach has ensured that he is on a collision course for an iceberg. To me it has shown that this Government can only be short-lived, helped by its friends in Fianna Fáil.

  I could talk about a lot of things but I know that everyone is tired. They justly want to go and spend time with their families and so on.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan I am not tired at all.

Deputy Clare Daly: Information on Clare Daly Zoom on Clare Daly I could talk about my friend Dermot, whose 87 year old mother went into hospital this day last week with chronic pain. She ended up breaking her hip in that hospital - the Bon Secours - and was sent to Beaumont Hospital over the weekend, where they would not operate on her. She was then sent to the Mater Hospital and was only operated on days later after sitting on a trolley. I could talk about the hundreds of people who turned out for a school meeting in Lusk last night because their children cannot get access to proper decent facilities in the community school there. We could talk about the fact that the average house price is now €350,000 in Dublin, meaning a couple would have to have an income of €90,000 to get a mortgage.


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