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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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Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Hear, hear.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I went to him first and I asked if he would give us Stepaside Garda station and he said: "No problem, it's over. It's yours."

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Hurrah.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross -----and today he has come back and said it was a pork barrel deal. He was offering pork barrel politics by the bejaysus at the time.

Deputy Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne We had to explain the judicial appointments process to the Minister, Deputy Ross, when we were in the negotiations. The Minister does not seem to have learnt much about it.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Do Members want to know what these guys over here said? They said, "No". They said, "We can't do it. We can't pull it because we can't interfere with the workings of Government", but the Fianna Fáil guys were fine. Deputy Micheál Martin was the guy who went up to Stepaside during the previous general election-----

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath That is right.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross -----and he said on television - it was recorded - when he was asked if he could reopen Stepaside Garda station that it would definitely be reopened. Today he is saying it is a pork barrel deal and he disapproves of it. Come on.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy What about the deal with the former Attorney General?

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Come on, Deputy Troy.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy She was appointed to the Court of Appeal.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath The new ethical Fianna Fáil.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Deputies should not interrupt.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Let me say this, if there is another opportunity-----

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy She is now going to the Court of Appeal.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher I ask the Minister not to invite interruption.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross No, I will not. I am sorry.

Deputy Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne He traded a judicial appointment for his local Garda station.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath He is not like that.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross When I next come to negotiate a programme for Government, I can assure the House that I will be looking over there to Fianna Fáil for the pork barrel deals, because I cannot get them out of these guys but Fianna Fáil is a pushover.

Deputy Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne They got their judicial appointment off the Minister.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Let me address something else.

Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan He might want a few gardaí in it.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross In silence. The issue was addressed again by Deputy Micheál Martin this evening. He said that there was some trade-off between Máire Whelan's appointment and the Stepaside Garda station.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy The Minister, Deputy Ross's Cabinet colleague agreed with him.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Deputy Troy should please not interrupt.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy I am sorry.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Let me tell him something.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher I ask Deputy Troy to refrain from interrupting.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy I am sorry.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Let me tell him something, without interruption.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher We are all mature politicians.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Yes, that is correct.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Members on all sides should act as such.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath You are right, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Members are not allowed to talk-----

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Let me tell the Deputy this. I have to clarify this issue as it is important. I learned first about Máire Whelan's proposed appointment yesterday morning. When I learned about it, there was no conversation about Stepaside Garda station. There has been no link of any sort between the two.

Deputy Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne There should be.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Let me tell the Deputies this - I am not going to take any lectures from Fianna Fáil on political appointments, and particularly from Deputy Micheál Martin. Let me tell the Deputies why. Does Deputy Martin remember a woman by the name of Celia Larkin? She was appointed by him to the National Consumer Agency.

Deputy Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne The Minister is a hypocrite.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The Minister should refrain from mentioning names of those who are not here to defend themselves.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath We all know who it was.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I will not mention her name but-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher I am just giving the Minister guidance.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy Hypocrite.

Deputy Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne Hypocrite.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Do Members remember this-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher I am sorry. The Minister might be a Minister but I am in the Chair and I did not think he would need that type of advice.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross Okay, that is fine. I apologise a Leas-Cheann Comhairle. I will just remind the Opposition of this case. The person in question, whom I will not name, was appointed by Deputy Micheál Martin-----

Deputy Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne The Minister is a hypocrite.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross -----without interview and without conversation-----

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath That is right.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross -----but she did happen to be his boss's partner. That, presumably, gives him every right to criticise other people for appointments here.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy The Minister said he would change how judges are appointed.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross In the appointments made by Fianna Fáil to the Judiciary the party stuffed it with their own people for years and years.

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

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross I will introduce a judicial appointments Bill, or rather the new Minister for Justice and Equality will do so next week-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The Minister cannot extend the time.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross -----to sort out this problem once and for all.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy After the deal was done.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The Minister cannot extend the time.

Deputy Shane Ross: Information on Shane P.N. Ross Zoom on Shane P.N. Ross The old system is rotten and should not be tolerated.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Hear, hear.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The Minister cannot extend the time. The Fianna Fáil slot has ten minutes. I understand Deputy Michael McGrath is sharing time with Deputies Billy Kelleher and Thomas Byrne. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath Zoom on Michael McGrath I congratulate the Taoiseach, Deputy Varadkar, and all the members of Government on their appointment this evening. It is a huge personal honour for each and every one of them and I genuinely wish them well in their portfolios. There is no doubt that, collectively, they all face enormous challenges. Among the priorities must be protecting Ireland against Brexit, managing the economy, fixing the health system and delivering houses for people.

I wish the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, well in his role. The forthcoming budget in 2018 will have to be built on those key priorities. Delivering homes for people has to be a top priority. I wish the Minister, Deputy Coveney, well in his new role and I congratulate him, but we will now have the third Minister with responsibility for housing in less than 16 months to face up to what is the single biggest emergency that people face. We will now have a three-month review of a plan, Rebuilding Ireland, that is less than 11 months old. I question the level of priority the Government is giving to the issue.

I say to the Minister, Deputy Ross, that as the man who has been such a fearless opponent of cronyism, such a passionate advocate for judicial reform, that when it came to what he reassured the House is an absolute coincidence, namely, that the announcement of the reopening of Stepaside Garda station and the appointment of Máire Whelan to the Court of Appeal without the Government even going through the process he regarded as inadequate – the principled opposition to cronyism, the principled advocacy for judicial reform went up like a puff of smoke. As they say in Cork, the Minister is a gas man indeed.

Among the priorities the Taoiseach and Ministers will have to face are helping people in this country who are in dire straits, who cannot get home help, who cannot access home care packages or get respite care for people with profound disabilities. There are young people in an absolute crisis who cannot get access to mental health services. I could give the Government a list of them. There are children with special needs in my constituency and I am sure all over the country waiting 18 months and longer for even an assessment of need not to mention gaining access to any service whatsoever at the end of the process.

The Government is facing some very big questions. The performance to date of the Government has not been good enough. It has not been up to standard. Among the big questions it faces is the future of the universal social charge. The new Taoiseach said it will remain but the programme for Government says it is on the way out. Are we going to deal with the pensions crisis? Are we going to have auto-enrolment into pension schemes? Are we going to do anything about climate change – the greatest challenge to human kind? Are we going to even aim for balanced regional development across the country? Are we going to tackle the issues of social inequality and child poverty? Are we going to prioritise the best long-term investment of all that we can make in the country, namely, the education system? Those are the challenges. The Government has not succeeded so far and it now has one final opportunity to do so.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher On a personal level I congratulate those who have been reappointed and those who have been elevated to the Cabinet. In the absence of the Taoiseach I congratulate him on the privileged position he now holds. With that privilege comes huge responsibilities and we do need to ensure that those responsibilities are discharged by all the members of the Government collectively to address some of the significant challenges we face in this country.

I wish to refer to health for a moment although the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, is not present. We have a situation in the public health system which can no longer be tolerated. Children with scoliosis now wait 18 months for an MRI scan to diagnose the fact that they have scoliosis. Children are waiting two years for surgery to address the life-limiting condition of scoliosis. That is what is happening at present. I speak directly to the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, because he is now the man in charge of both taxation and spending. We need to address the significant deficiencies in health. The Taoiseach spoke today about an Ireland for all, and that everybody should be given an opportunity but people with scoliosis face insurmountable challenges. I continually meet parents who are put to the pin of collar as they see the life slowly leave their children because of this condition. That is what is happening as I stand here today.

In this short contribution I urge that we make some progress towards addressing those issues. We hear the broad parameters set out about a Government that is caring, that is centrist and that will address the challenges and afford an opportunity to everybody but we should spare a thought for the challenges that face those children. In the October budget I urge the Minister at the very least to address the most vulnerable in society. They are primarily people who are on hospital waiting lists across the country.


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