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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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  10 o’clock

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed That is an unholy alliance - Deputies Eamon Ryan and Danny Healy-Rae.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Minister-----

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan That is what we need. We will need to get the Minister, Deputy Ring, to work with the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, in the same way to make it work.

Deputy Dessie Ellis: Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis Do not sit on the fence.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher I call Deputy Healy.

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald Deputy Danny Healy-Rae is not taking up the offer.

Deputy Paschal Donohoe: Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe He is not reciprocating. He is not responding.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Time is very limited. Deputy Healy has just short of three minutes.

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy The cruel capitalist extremist policies of recent governments have devastated Irish society, have devastated low and middle-income families, have created poverty for families and children and have facilitated evictions from family homes. Of course, they have left the country with a chaotic health service and a housing and homeless crisis.

In the very short time available to me I want to address the Minister, Deputy Harris, regarding health matters. Nine months ago in October 2016 he visited South Tipperary General Hospital. He described the conditions in the hospital as utterly unacceptable and said that solutions needed to be found. He went on to say that a decision would be made before the end of the year. Nothing has happened. The hospital is a progressive, forward-looking and efficient hospital. However, unfortunately, despite the best efforts of staff, there is horrendous chaos in the hospital. This month, June, there have been as many as 31 trolleys in the corridors of the hospital. What, in God's name, will it be like in the coming autumn and winter?

Patients on trolleys have no dignity or privacy. They lack access to adequate bathrooms and washing facilities. Staff are run off their feet and are struggling to provide a safe service in a highly pressurised atmosphere. South Tipperary General Hospital has been in crisis for more than five years. It has experienced savage cuts in funding and staffing, despite increasing its emergency department, outpatient and inpatient activity. The hospital is bursting at the seams. It is operating at 130% capacity. The medical department is operating at 150% capacity. Normal capacity at full occupancy is regarded as 85%.

The hospital urgently needs additional inpatient beds as promised by the Minister on his visit. I call on the Minister to fulfil that promise and make funds available immediately for 40 additional inpatient beds to address the chaos at the hospital, which has been caused by the policies of this and previous governments.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher I call the Tánaiste who, I understand, is sharing.

Tánaiste and Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I propose to share my time with the Ministers, Deputies Donohoe and Ross.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher They will have three to three and a half minutes each.

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald It is great privilege once again to serve in government - a Government of purpose that will work towards a prosperous nation for all and in every community. It has been an honour to serve as Minister in two Departments. Throughout my time as Minister for Justice and Equality, there have been major changes in significant areas of public life. I am very proud of those changes for which I have campaigned my whole life. I believe the commission on the future of policing will represent a seminal moment when it comes to the future of An Garda Síochána.

As the first Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, I had the privilege of introducing a number of ground-breaking reforms, including the comprehensive reform of the child protection and welfare system. I am very proud of the successful referendums on children's rights and marriage equality.

I am honoured to continue in my role as Tánaiste. Life is a series of new challenges and I am very pleased to accept this new portfolio, which at its core is about creating opportunity. Getting a job, being able to pursue a career and provide for oneself and one's family is the best opportunity a person can get. It is the best way out of poverty and the best way of giving the kind of support that future generations need.

Unemployment is falling. There are challenges on the horizon. I noticed that not one Opposition speaker has mentioned that unemployment has reduced from 15.4% to 6.2%. That represents a major change in the lives of so many of our citizens and it is what they want to see. The task now is to create and innovate, to spread opportunity in enterprise far and wide, as the Taoiseach said, to the four corners of the country and everywhere in between. We now have the green technology, the artificial intelligence and the economic foundations on which we can build the future of Irish industry with endeavour, creativity and investment.

We are an island at the centre of our global world. We will redouble our efforts to attract talent and investment. I greatly look forward to playing a central role in this Government which will be totally guided by the absolute priority of providing equality of opportunity to each and every person in this Republic. We have to banish the disadvantage and exclusion that still cripple too many lives. As I have often said, until we do that, our democracy is unfinished. We have to use our economic growth to ensure that nobody is left out. We will ensure that we protect and use that growth to transform Ireland into a modern, progressive society.

This will be a Government of delivery that ensures that everyone can have opportunities for themselves and their families in the time ahead. The Taoiseach spoke so eloquently of a republic of opportunity. The task ahead must be to restore opportunity to those who have lost it and to provide opportunity to those it has passed by.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The Tánaiste may have a further two minutes if she so wishes.

Deputy Frances Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

  We believe in a State that stands for social justice and equality of opportunity. We believe in turning our face towards the world, holding out our hand in welcome, remaining at the heart of Europe as we have made clear repeatedly, and seeking to capture new hearts elsewhere. That is what we will be judged on. The Government is totally committed to that goal.

  Let me return to words I have used in the past. Democracy is not about entitlement; it is about contribution. Each and every one of us in this House has a contribution to make to the exciting future that can lie ahead for all of our citizens.

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Shane Ross): Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The Independent Alliance is delighted that the Taoiseach has decided-----

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher To reopen Stepaside Garda station.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross -----that we should be kept in the same roles as we held previously. We share his vision for equality of opportunity. We are also delighted that we have the opportunity to reinforce the programme for Government which we agreed with the Minister, as he was then, Deputy Varadkar, and the Government of the day this time last year. We are grateful and pleased that we managed to agree that many of the things we believed in have been accelerated in the programme as it will go forward in the future. That includes the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the judicial appointments-----

Deputy Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne Come off it.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross That also includes two Bills introduced by the Minister of State, Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran, and a programme by the Minister of State, Deputy Halligan.

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The Minister without interruption.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross All of those are agreed to be accelerated and, we have been assured, they will be accompanied in many cases by more free votes in the coming years of this Government.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy Against the Attorney General's advice.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross This is welcome.

  I wish to address some of the issues raised by Fianna Fáil and by Deputy Troy with his interruptions - not his contribution because his interruptions are always far better than his contributions.

(Interruptions).

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The Minister has been here a long time and knows that all his comments should be addressed through the Chair.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Deputy Troy is trying to win the heckler of the year award.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher No bilaterals in this House.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross In particular, I would like-----

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy None of my contributions has been for the Minister.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The same applies to Deputy Troy - no bilaterals.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I wish to address the issue on which he has been interrupting all evening, which is the issue of Stepaside Garda station. I thank Deputy Troy for the opening. Let me address that for him to satisfy him a bit. Deputy Troy is right that I campaigned for the opening of Stepaside Garda station.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath And I gave the Minister a hand with it.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross He is right that it was part of my platform at the last election. He is right that I have campaigned for it since I came into government.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath And he delivered.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Let me say one thing. When I was negotiating on the programme for Government on this particular issue, does Deputy Troy know who the biggest pushover on the issue of Stepaside Garda station was? It was Deputy Micheál Martin.


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