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 Header Item Thirty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution (Repeal of offence of publication or utterance of blasphemous matter) Bill 2018: Committee and Remaining Stages (Continued)
 Header Item Ráiteas faoi Eolas do Vótálaithe: Tairiscint
 Header Item Statement for Information of Voters: Motion
 Header Item Business of Dáil
 Header Item Future of the Post Office Network: Motion [Private Members]

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 972 No. 1

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  7 o’clock

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 in the name of Deputies Coppinger, Barry and Paul Murphy are out of order.

  Níor tairgeadh leasuithe Uimh. 6 agus 7.

  Amendments Nos. 6 and 7 not moved.

  Aontaíodh alt a 2.

  Section 2 agreed to.

  Aontaíodh an Réamhrá.

  Preamble agreed to.

  Aontaíodh an Teideal.

  Title agreed to.

  Tuairiscíodh an Bille gan leasuithe, glacadh é chun an breithniú deiridh a dhéanamh air agus ritheadh é.

  Bill reported without amendment, received for final consideration and passed.

Ráiteas faoi Eolas do Vótálaithe: Tairiscint

Statement for Information of Voters: Motion

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan Tairgim:

GO nDÉANFAR an ráiteas atá leagtha amach sa Sceideal a ghabhann leis an Rún seo a fhorordú mar eolas do vótálaithe, de bhun alt 23 d’Acht an Reifrinn, 1994 (Uimh. 12 de 1994), i ndáil leis an togra chun an Bunreacht a leasú, atá ar áireamh sa Bhille um an Seachtú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht (Cion a aisghairm arb éard é ní diamhaslach a fhoilsiú nó a aithris), 2018 agus is ábhar do reifreann bunreachta.

An Sceideal

Ráiteas mar Eolas do Vótálaithe

An Bille um an Seachtú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht (Cion a aisghairm arb éard é ní diamhaslach a fhoilsiú nó a aithris), 2018 – Páipéar Ballóide Uaine



Fiafraítear díot sa reifreann seo an aontaíonn tú leis an togra chun Airteagal 40 den Bhunreacht a leasú chun an cion a aisghairm arb éard é ní diamhaslach a fhoilsiú nó a aithris.

Má thoilíonn tú leis an togra, cuir X os coinne an fhocail  ar an bpáipéar ballóide.

Mura dtoilíonn tú leis an togra, cuir X os coinne an fhocail Níl ar an bpáipéar ballóide.

Is féidir teacht ar chóip den Bhille ar an idirlíon ar www.oireachtas.ie.

  I move:

THAT the statement set out in the Schedule to this Resolution be prescribed for the information of voters, pursuant to section 23 of the Referendum Act 1994 (No.12 of 1994), in relation to the proposal to amend the Constitution which is contained in the Thirty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution (Repeal of offence of publication or utterance of blasphemous matter) Bill 2018 and is the subject of a constitutional referendum.

Schedule

Statement for the Information of Voters

Thirty-seventh Amendment of the Constitution (Repeal of offence of publication or utterance of blasphemous matter) Bill 2018 – Green Ballot Paper



You are being asked in this referendum if you agree with the proposal to amend Article 40 of the Constitution to repeal the offence of publication or utterance of blasphemous matter.

If you approve of the proposal, mark X opposite the word Yes on the ballot paper.

If you do not approve of the proposal, mark X opposite the word No on the ballot paper.

A copy of the Bill may be viewed on the internet at www.oireachtas.ie.

  Cuireadh agus aontaíodh an cheist.

  Question put and agreed to.

Business of Dáil

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Private Members' business is a motion in the name of Sinn Féin Deputies on the future of the post office network. We need Sinn Féin Deputies in the House. We will suspend the sitting for five minutes while awaiting the arrival of the Deputies.

  Sitting suspended at 7.02 p.m. and resumed at 7.07 p.m.

Future of the Post Office Network: Motion [Private Members]

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Private Members' business is a motion on the future of the post office network. I note, given some of the events of the day, that many of the personnel from our Whips' offices must have decamped to the ploughing championships because they are certainly not paying much attention to what is going on here.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley It is shocking.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl We are delighted to have Deputy Stanley.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley I am delighted to be here even though the ploughing is happening down on my own patch.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley That is dedication.

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten Plough ahead.

Deputy Brian Stanley: Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley I move:

That Dáil Éireann:

recognises that:
— the recent announced closure of 159 post offices across the State will have a devastating effect on many rural communities;

— post offices form a vital part of communities, and have suffered long-term neglect by successive Governments, with hundreds of closures since 2000;

— successive Governments have allowed the post office network to decline and have not allowed alternative services to be established and expanded;

— postmasters and postmistresses are entitled to accept retirement packages, however, the criteria used by An Post in such instances, to retain post offices and advertise a new contract, are flawed; and

— A Programme for a Partnership Government commits to protecting the postal network; and
calls on the Government to:
— prevent the closure of 159 post offices across the State by advertising new contracts, offering alternative services and allowing the potential for co-location of post offices;

— reinvigorate the network of post offices by extending the services which post offices provide, and by retaining existing services such as social welfare payments;

— implement proposals contained in the Final Report of the Post Office Network Business Development Group (Kerr Report) from 2016 which included post offices providing alternative services such as financial services and Government services before closing post offices; and

— commit to a new model of community banking through the post office network.

This is important because it is about rural Ireland and the future of services in rural Ireland. Today, we had representatives of postmasters protesting outside this building about this important issue. We should not see the post office as something just to have in the community but rather something that is needed in a community. It can be if we have sufficient Government action. We need to see the post office in the community, as part of it, providing important services for the benefit of local people. It can be with long-term vision where additional services are provided.

  A previous motion was passed two years ago, which was moved by the Rural Independent Group, but little or no action was taken. There was a lack of follow-up on the Kerr report from 2016 and an Oireachtas committee report from 2013. The progress made has been a little like a slow bicycle race. These all stressed the need for additional services to be provided through our post office network, which is key. Instead, successive Governments have allowed it to limp along.

  Previous Governments viewed the post office network as a burden. From 2000 to 2010, under a previous Government, 732 post offices closed their doors. There have been Garda station closures and 542,000 households are still waiting for high-speed broadband. This is the situation in rural Ireland. Post office masters and mistresses are entitled to retire, but this does not mean the post office has to retire or cease operation. We need a long-term vision and interest in the service from the Government when it comes to rural Ireland. Some 390 post office masters and mistresses were offered exit packages recently and not offered new contracts. Of those, 159 post masters and mistresses are retiring, and have the right to do so. The remaining 231 were not offered new contracts due to falling incomes.

  We need to address the criteria used by An Post to define a settlement, which are that there must be 500 or more people. Many of these villages have up to 600 or 700 people living on the outskirts. I can name plenty of them. It does not take into account the true population in the rural area. We have a dispersed population and clusters of houses on the outskirts of villages and small towns. We have one of the most dispersed populations in Europe. Everyone will have examples in their constituencies where they know the true population is not reflected. Much has been made of there being one within 15 km and nobody having to travel more than 15 km.


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