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 Header Item Waste Disposal (Continued)
 Header Item Brexit Issues
 Header Item Death of former Ceann Comhairle: Expressions of Sympathy

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 965 No. 2

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  12 o’clock

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy John Curran: Information on John Curran Zoom on John Curran] Before the commission can finish its full report, I believe an interim report, particularly on the Dublin market, would be very useful at this stage.

Deputy Heather Humphreys: Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys I agree with the Deputy that competition is good for business and the consumer. The authority is an independent body under my remit, and I will certainly raise his concerns with it.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Eugene Murphy): Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy We have time to take one more question if the Deputy forgoes his right to introduce it and I will allow him one supplementary question.

Brexit Issues

 41. Deputy Maurice Quinlivan Information on Maurice Quinlivan Zoom on Maurice Quinlivan asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys the number of businesses that have taken up Brexit business supports such as the be prepared grants and Brexit readiness vouchers provided by Enterprise Ireland and InterTradeIreland; and if she is satisfied that the level of business preparedness for Brexit is sufficient. [5955/18]

Deputy Heather Humphreys: Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys My Department has had extensive engagement with businesses to understand what they need to help them adapt to the challenges posed by Brexit, and to provide support for diversification, development and innovation.

My Department is putting in place a package of measures that will allow us to respond to the needs of businesses including a Brexit loan scheme to provide affordable financing to Irish firms impacted by Brexit - the scheme aims to make up to €300 million available to businesses with less than 500 employees at a proposed interest rate of approximately 4%; and developing proposals for a longer-term loan scheme together with a new business advisory hub service which would focus on business development to allow enterprises to position themselves for a post-Brexit environment. In addition, the EU Commission has approved a rescue and restructuring scheme and the scheme can be drawn on in exceptional circumstances for a company severely affected by Brexit. The Action Plan for Jobs will continue to act as an effective lever for driving reforms that enhance the competitiveness of Irish firms, increase jobs and grow the resilience of our economy in the context of Brexit.

Deputy Maurice Quinlivan: Information on Maurice Quinlivan Zoom on Maurice Quinlivan I accept that there are time constraints but perhaps the Minister will come back to me with a fuller response. The question is about our preparedness for Brexit. The Minister can revert to me on the number of be prepared grants and Brexit readiness vouchers that have been given. How many Brexit scorecards have been filled out to date by companies and is the Minister satisfied that the uptake is sufficient? Does the Department, IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and InterTradeIreland, ITI, have sufficient staff and is funding now in place for each of those bodies?

Deputy Heather Humphreys: Information on Heather Humphreys Zoom on Heather Humphreys Additional resources have been provided to Enterprise Ireland and ITI to deal with Brexit. There are many supports available, especially through Enterprise Ireland. I encourage companies to engage with Enterprise Ireland and their local enterprise offices. Workshops are taking place across the country and there is a huge awareness campaign on the challenges facing companies due to Brexit. I ask companies to identify the risks that Brexit will present for them and to mitigate those risks.

Death of former Ceann Comhairle: Expressions of Sympathy

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl In accordance with the usual practice, the leader of the party of the deceased former Member leads the expressions of sympathy. I call Deputy Howlin.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Séamus Pattison was a champion of working people and an outstanding parliamentarian. Following in the footsteps of his distinguished father James, or Jimmy, Pattison, he distinguished himself as a trade unionist, local representative and on the national and international stage. Séamus won his first general election in 1961. His opponents said at the time that it was an accident. Séamus appeared to have a great number of accidents, winning 12 general elections in succession. He was an unequalled constituency worker, working from his base at 6 Upper New Street in Kilkenny. No hour was too late and no day was off limits for his constituents and their issues. In the days before constituency secretaries, his beloved mother worked full time, taking the queries and answering the telephone.

I said yesterday that Séamus was one of a select band of parliamentarians. He knew every Deputy, as he had encountered all of them, from the first to the 30th Dáil. At local level, Séamus had a significant public role. He was a proud member of Kilkenny Corporation and Kilkenny County Council for a remarkable 33 years. He was mayor of his native city on three occasions and twice served as chairman of Kilkenny County Council. It is fitting and appropriate, therefore, that Séamus was made a freeman of the borough city of Kilkenny in 2008. It was my great joy to attend that momentous occasion.

His career was remarkable. He was a Member of the European Parliament, a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, a member of the former British-Irish Interparliamentary Body, Minister of State at the then Department of Social Welfare and a member of the Committee of Public Accounts, but his greatest honour took place in 1997 when he was unanimously elected to the high office of Ceann Comhairle. My personal memories of Séamus are many and varied, but all pleasant and good. I remember his wise counsel and calm reason. He was always loyal to the cause of labour and always intelligent, insightful and clear of thought. I acknowledge the presence of his brother and sister-in-law in the Distinguished Visitors Gallery today.

In recent times Séamus's illness took its toll, but it did not take his dignity, charm or mischievousness. At his funeral yesterday I recounted my last meeting with Séamus when, from his wheelchair, he beckoned me closer. His whispered into my ear: "If you need me to stand, I'll win again." I have no doubt that he would. Ní bheidh a leithéid ann arís.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I offer my heartfelt condolences, and those of the Government, to the family of Séamus Pattison. I also extend my condolences to Deputy Howlin, his colleagues in the Labour Party and all his friends. Séamus Pattison epitomised the spirit of public service that has been the hallmark of our democracy since Independence. He served for an extraordinary 46 years in this House, winning 12 elections in a row. He served as a Minister of State in the early 1980s and also as a Member of the European Parliament for Leinster. However, he said his proudest moment in his political career was the day he was elected Ceann Comhairle in 1997. I am told he was more than a match for the Deputies and only ever made one mistake when he was in the Chair, when he once called on the former Deputy Mae Sexton to speak and accidentally referred to her as Mae West.

As a former Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, I am very aware of the formidable work he did as Minister of State in the then Department of Social Welfare in the Fine Gael and Labour Party Government led by Garret FitzGerald in the 1980s. He believed that we were compassionate but complacent when it came to the issue of eliminating poverty. He was determined to identify the root causes and to try to eliminate them. We continue that work today. One of the reasons Séamus Pattison was so respected by the people of Carlow and Kilkenny was that he was always accessible as a public representative. He liked to tell stories about how constituents would sometimes call around to him on Christmas Day. As a Deputy, a Minister, Ceann Comhairle and father of the House, he served this country with distinction.


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