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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 Thomas P. Broughan: Information on Thomas P. Broughan Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan] In the past year, I repeatedly asked the then Minister for Social Protection questions about the restoration of pensions after the cruel budget cuts of 2012, especially for senior women workers and retirees. He steadfastly opposed their restoration or any changes that would ease the hardship to lone parent families caused by cutbacks introduced by the Government in office from 2011 until 2016. As many Deputies stated, the then Minister's recent campaign against social welfare fraud has no credibility because in his ten years in the House, I have never heard the Taoiseach once refer to tax evasion and avoidance. We know from basic reports presented by Revenue to the Committee of Public Accounts, of which I was twice a member, that the tax evasion we know about is probably 100 times greater in scale than social welfare fraud.

Many of my constituents found utterly disrespectful the then Minister's comments, when contesting the leadership of the Fine Gael Party, that he wants to represent people who get up early in the morning. Those comments revealed the arrogance of a classic neo-liberal. The Taoiseach's reference to a republic of opportunity reminded me of the old refrain of Fine Gael in the 1990s that it would provide ladders for people. Besides those who bought ladders, attached them to their bikes and went off cleaning windows, the ladders at that time were just a dog whistle for the richest and most powerful vested interests in society.

While I wish the Ministers well in their portfolios, this is not the Government Ireland needs in this dramatic era of Brexit and Trump. The Taoiseach or Deputy Micheál Martin should call a general election as soon as possible and let the people give us a proper Government.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy Rae Zoom on Danny Healy Rae I wish the new Taoiseach, his Ministers and the Government as a whole all the best during their time in office. We do not know how long that will be but we hope everything goes well because people depend on them.

The health system is a shambles and in need of a serious overhaul. The HSE does not seem to be accountable or providing value for money. As highlighted in the media a few days ago, one HSE manager is being paid €600,000 a year. This issue must be addressed because no man or woman in the country is worth that kind of money in any year for whatever job he or she does. Too many people are on waiting lists. Since my election, I and my brother, Deputy Michael Healy-Rae, have been highlighting the cases of people waiting for cataract procedures. The position has still not improved and people are going blind. Youngsters and teenagers are waiting for four or five years for orthodontic treatment. Girls are embarrassed to go out and nearly too embarrassed to go to school because they are waiting for this treatment. It is too late when they are 17 or 18 years of age because their gums have hardened and the treatment does not have the positive effect it should have.

People on the public list must wait for a year and a half or two years for a hip operation. Some of them are unable to sleep at night because they are waiting for operations, which is not fair or right. Two weeks ago, in the middle of summer, 17 or 18 people were on trolleys in Tralee University Hospital. What will happen in winter? Even in Cork University Hospital, people waiting for heart bypass operations have been sent home because no intensive care beds would have been available for them after surgery. That is not acceptable.

Deputy Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne On a point of order, is it in order that only nine Cabinet Ministers and one "super junior" Minister of State are present for this debate? There must be some procedure in place. People whose position rests on a vote of the Dáil must show courtesy to the House.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher That is not a point of order.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy Rae Zoom on Danny Healy Rae I did not interrupt anyone. This is not fair. We do not do that.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Deputy Thomas Byrne should let Deputy Danny Healy-Rae speak. He should not interrupt.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy Rae Zoom on Danny Healy Rae The Deputy is a shame and disgrace.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher I want to make very clear that the issue Deputy Thomas Byrne raised is not a point of order. Moreover, I have no jurisdiction over who should attend the House. I have been here for many debates on the election of Governments and it is not necessary that all Ministers be present. That is the custom and practice. It may be a matter of courtesy.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae The interruption was a tactic.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan It is a tactic being used against Kerry.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher We stopped the clock.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy Rae Zoom on Danny Healy Rae Kenmare and Dingle community hospitals are only half open. Deer Lodge, a 40-bed mental health facility on St. Margaret's Road, was completed two years ago. Why have its doors not opened yet? I ask the Minister for Health to demand from the HSE that the facility be opened forthwith. It was completed two years ago and it is not fair to people with mental health problems that they are not allowed to use it. The St. Mary of the Angels home is a wonderful facility that is being shut down by stealth because no new patients are being admitted. This is not fair on those who were dealt a bad hand and are being prevented from using the facility.

The decongregation model will have to be reviewed because one size does not fit all, as I have told the Minister previously. My blood boils when I hear the Minister say people can be moved from these facilities into the community. I know a person who was born 45 or 46 years ago and who is crumpled up in a little ball, cannot see, walk, talk or move his hands or legs. If the Minister is suggesting that this person can be moved into the community, he is away with the fairies. I ask him to review the decongregation model. People with physical and mental disabilities are not receiving enough help and assistance. Their parents have been dealt a hard hand and I ask the Minister to do more for them.

The people of Kerry have been denied proper infrastructure for years. Surely the Macroom bypass project will proceed now that the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Michael Creed, is to remain in place. I ask him to put his shoulder to the wheel because if he does not-----

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed Did the Deputy not get the contract for fencing it?

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy Rae Zoom on Danny Healy Rae Yes, but that is only to keep the animals off the road. We want the road built.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The fencing has to be done before the road can be built.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy Rae Zoom on Danny Healy Rae More money is needed before it can be built.

Most of rural County Kerry does not have broadband coverage and some areas do not have telephone coverage. If an industrialist flies into Farranfore Airport and drives for one mile on any of the three roads leading from the facility, he or she will find there is no telephone coverage. That is very unfair.

I note that the Minister of State, Deputy Michael Ring, is to be appointed Minister for Community and Rural Affairs. I ask him to address the anomaly of the local improvement schemes. It is unfair that people in rural areas do not have a proper road to their front doors. They are as entitled as people in Dublin 4 are to have a good road to their doors.

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring I will deal with that.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy Rae Zoom on Danny Healy Rae Dublin is gaining jobs at the expense of rural areas. While we do not begrudge jobs to people in Dublin, the capital and the east of the country are prospering and the Government is not doing enough to rectify the imbalance. Houses are not being provided at the pace required to address the housing shortage. The Department has placed too many hurdles in the way. Despite all that has been said, rural Ireland is still in decline. Post offices and Garda stations are closing and services are being centralised. To take the centralisation of the ambulance service as an example, last Sunday evening a person in Sneem spent an hour on the road waiting for an ambulance. That is the gospel truth and it is not acceptable.

  Last week, The Kerryman highlighted that farmers' incomes in County Kerry are at an all-time low. The fair deal scheme militates against farmers. The Government opposed a motion we introduced on this issue.


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