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 Header Item Questions on Promised Legislation (Continued)
 Header Item Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Protection of Pension Property Rights) Bill 2017: First Stage
 Header Item An Bille um an gCúigiú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht (Maoinchearta Pinsin aChosaint) 2017: An Chéad Chéim
 Header Item Ceisteanna - Questions

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 955 No. 1

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Deputy Alan Farrell: Information on Alan Farrell Zoom on Alan Farrell I welcome the decision of the previous Cabinet under Deputy Enda Kenny to award medals of bravery to members of A Company, 35th Battalion of the Army, in regard to the events of September 1961 in the Congo. I understand legislation is required to award those medals to the survivors of that particular incident and the families of those who have sadly passed. I understand legislation is to be brought forward on this matter and I would appreciate it if the Taoiseach could inform the House as to when that might happen.

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): Information on Paul Kehoe Zoom on Paul Kehoe I was delighted to recognise, along with the former Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, the bravery of the men at the siege of Jadotville in 1961 on a UN-mandated mission. I am not sure if we require legislation or if a Cabinet decision might suffice to award medals. If legislation is required, it will be a very short Bill and, hopefully, I will have it in before the summer recess.

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea Is it the Government's intention to have the water charges legislation on the Statute Book before the end of this session and, if so, when will it be published?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar It is still intended to have that legislation enacted by the end of the session.

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea When can we expect to see movement on it?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar It is still being drafted.

Deputy Marc MacSharry: Information on Marc MacSharry Zoom on Marc MacSharry We are in injury time. I wish the Taoiseach the very best of luck in his new role as this is the first opportunity I have had to do so.

The programme for Government mentions the issue of catheterisation facilities in Waterford, which came up yesterday. What plans does the Taoiseach have for percutaneous coronary intervention, PCI, for the north west? There is a population of approximately 250,000 people in the catchment of Sligo University Hospital, as it is now known. The people there cannot time their cardiac arrests or heart attacks in line with good weather for air transportation to a centre nor can we wait for roads to be done up so that we can avail of that 90-minute turnaround time. Mortality from cardiac instances in the north west is a serious issue. I understand there are currently no plans for PCI in that part of the country. Given that the Taoiseach is a physician, and given his new role, what does the Taoiseach propose to do for that region?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I understand a large part of the north west is now covered by agreement from Altnagelvin and Letterkenny hospitals. I appreciate that Sligo is a long way from Derry-----

Deputy Marc MacSharry: Information on Marc MacSharry Zoom on Marc MacSharry In the absence of an Executive in the North, will I contact the Minister in Downing Street to ask about that? Does the Taoiseach have any plans of his own?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Let the Taoiseach speak without interruption.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I checked that there was an agreement in place for a certain number of cases per year to be done in Altnagelvin for Donegal.

Deputy Marc MacSharry: Information on Marc MacSharry Zoom on Marc MacSharry There are no plans for Sligo or Donegal.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I appreciate that Sligo is quite a distance from both Derry and Galway. As is always the case with specialist services, one has to balance the ideal of having it near everyone with the reality that, in order to maintain a service to a standard of safety and to staff it, there needs to be a critical mass of population. Such a service would tend to have approximately four centres in a country the size of ours.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher I inadvertently overlooked Deputy Declan Breathnach and offer my apologies. That will complete the questions on promised legislation.

Deputy Declan Breathnach: Information on Declan Breathnach Zoom on Declan Breathnach We were promised in this House - indeed, rate payers are waiting with bated breath for it - that the commercial rates Bill would be introduced before the end of May but that has not happened. We were also promised that some reform would take place in regard to the Valuation Office and how valuations are arrived at. I know that briefings are being given by the Department to local authorities, yet this House has not been given any sight of the legislation. When can we expect it? We were promised it for the end of May and it is now the end of June.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The heads of Bill were agreed by Cabinet in April, but there is still further analysis going on in the Attorney General's office with regard to drafting. A decision has to be made as to whether it might now be more appropriate to transfer valuations from the Department of Justice and Equality to the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government.

Thirty-fifth Amendment of the Constitution (Protection of Pension Property Rights) Bill 2017: First Stage

An Bille um an gCúigiú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht (Maoinchearta Pinsin a Chosaint) 2017: An Chéad Chéim

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea 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.

  This proposal is to insert an amendment into the Constitution to prevent any future Government from imposing levies of the sort we saw imposed by the last Government. The context here is the demographic time bomb. The State pension as we know it is gradually becoming more unsustainable. Currently, the ratio is one person over the age of 66 for every five people at work. Within the next 25 years, that ratio will reduce to 1:2. Therefore, it is imperative to encourage people to save to provide for themselves because, as I have said, the State will be increasingly unable to do so, certainly at the present rate. Imposing levies on private pensions does the exact opposite. It discourages people from saving rather than encouraging them.

  Private pensions are the savings of hard-working individuals carefully put away over the years so that they can care for themselves in old age rather than being forced to rely solely on the State which, as I have said, will face increasing difficulty as the years go on. We should be encouraging people to save.

  The levy introduced by the last Government undermined faith in pension savings. We should not be surprised that, as a result of that levy, the rate of people participating in private pensions as a proportion of that section of the population has dropped quite substantially. Irish people appreciate the need to save but they no longer trust the system, hence the need to ensure that such a smash-and-grab raid on pensions, which is exactly akin to dipping into somebody's deposit account, will not recur in the future, at least without the consent of the people. This is the objective that this legislation intends to achieve.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Is the Bill being opposed?

Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): Information on David Stanton Zoom on David Stanton No.

  Cuireadh agus aontaíodh an cheist.

  Question put and agreed to.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

Deputy Willie O'Dea: Information on Willie O'Dea Zoom on Willie O'Dea Tairgim: "Go dtógfar an Bille in am Comhaltaí Príobháideacha."

  I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

  Cuireadh agus aontaíodh an cheist.

  Question put and agreed to.

Ceisteanna - Questions

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher When he returns, we will move to questions to the Taoiseach. The first group will be Questions Nos. 1 to 9, inclusive.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett There are nine questions in the first group. I suggest we manage the time in some way so that-----

Deputy Ruth Coppinger: Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger How long do we get to speak? Can we work that out now?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher There are 15 minutes in total. There is the Taoiseach's reply, which I have not yet seen. There are seven Deputies with questions. We will give a minute to each and allow a composite reply from the Taoiseach.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett A composite reply.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Otherwise the last person will not get an opportunity. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan If we have two questions, do we get two minutes?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher We will use discretion. I understand the Taoiseach is grouping Questions Nos. 1 to 9, inclusive.


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