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 Header Item Death of Former Members: Expressions of Sympathy (Continued)
 Header Item Ceisteanna ar Reachtaíocht a Gealladh - Questions on Promised Legislation

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 975 No. 6

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An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I thank the Minister. Dara, we should let you have the last word.

Deputy Dara Calleary: Information on Dara Calleary Zoom on Dara Calleary I thank the Ceann Comhairle for that. I also thank the members of the Business Committee for the honour they have bestowed on us today, which is a very difficult day but one of which we as a family are very proud. I am proud of my Dad and his achievements in this House. He served here for 19 years and enjoyed every day he had the privilege of being here. He contested seven elections. For those who think this is an uncertain time, they should consider there were three elections in 14 months in 1981 and in 1982. Dad was honoured to serve as a Minister in a number of Departments but particularly loved the honour of being the Minister of State in the Department of Foreign Affairs in charge of overseas development aid.

He had a very good sporting track record, not something I have picked up. He played for an Oireachtas team in 1978 against the Westminster Wanderers, the Westminster soccer team. The former Taoiseach, Deputy Kenny, served on that team with him. As Deputy Brendan Howlin said, he would have been thrilled that Ireland beat the All Blacks last Saturday week but he would have been even more thrilled that on the same day Easkey GAA won its first Connacht championship. He also played with Easkey, even though it is a Sligo team. He would have enjoyed both wins.

He was very conscious of the honour of serving here, the integrity one had to have as a Member of this House, and of representing all of the people. My grandparents were both active in the War of Independence and in the Civil War. They raised my Dad and my uncle in a spirt of tolerance and respect for others. My Dad played sport all his life and while he played to win and played the ball hard, he respected opposition and opposition voices. If there is one thing we can do in this House now, it is to bear that in mind.

He would have been honoured to share this occasion with the late Seán Ardagh, somebody with whom he shared main traits. They were always fond of checking in on the Mayo relations of the Ardaghs. In as much as this is our loss, it is their loss - Máire's and Catherine's - as well. I am sure Catherine's Dad would have been delighted with all the endorsements she is getting from other sides of the House about taking the seat in the next general election. We will make sure that happens for him.

I thank all the party leaders for their warm words. Our grief is very private but it is very public. Dad would have been mortified by the turnout at the funeral, but I noted the Minister, Deputy Ring canvassed it well. There will be a few in the box for him from there.

I do not know if we have lost ourselves as a family in the past six months; is it possible to have a heart that is both broken and full of pride at the one time? It is. We are full of pride about the respect and integrity in which he is held and the memories people have of him. We aspire to live up to those memories and standards as we proceed forward. His view of politics was that it was not a game but a deadly serious profession, that we had to respect the people who put us here and to work collectively for those people.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam agus go raibh míle maith agat le gach duine sa Teach. I thank everybody here, the Members of my party for their support during his illness and since then, and all of the staff of the House beyond the Chamber for their support. We are very grateful.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I invite everybody to stand for a moment's reflection.

  Members rose.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl May they both rest in peace.

Ceisteanna ar Reachtaíocht a Gealladh - Questions on Promised Legislation

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl We will now proceed to next item of business, Questions on Promised Legislation, for which 30 minutes is allocated. I note 18 Deputies are offering.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin Regarding the implementation of Sláintecare, when will the detailed action plan relating to the report be published and debated at length in the House? There are many issues regarding whether Sláintecare will be followed seriously, given the meagre resources allocated towards its implementation in 2019 compared to its financial implications. The costings of it are significant, even though we have not been given comprehensive costings. A timeline for implementation and a sense of a sincere approach to the implementation of the plan are required because there is considerable scepticism about the Government's commitment to it.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Sláintecare implementation office has been established, the director has been appointed, the implementation framework has been published and the action plan will be published before the end of the year. A decision on time to debate any matter in the Dáil is a matter for the Business Committee but I am sure we would be happy to facilitate that. There is a perception, which I am sure the Deputy knows is incorrect, that the €20 million set aside next year for Sláintecare implementation is all that is set aside for it. There is a lot more to it than that. There is a big increase in the capital budget and a big part of Sláintecare involves investment in new IT, new capacity such as bed capacity and primary care centres. There is also money in it to reduce prescription charges for people who have medical cards and people who do not. There is money in it to extend eligibility for the GP visit card and increasing the income eligibility limits. There are other investments as well. Nobody should make the mistake of thinking the €20 million is all that is set aside in 2019 for Sláintecare. There is a raft of measures ranging from capital spending to eligibility for medical cards and reduced prescription charges. All of those are Sláintecare measures.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald Earlier this morning, questions on the tendering process in respect of the national broadband plan, NBP, arose. Next week, we will have the opportunity to deliberate further on those matters but I want to raise the fact that more than 500,000 rural homes, businesses and farms are due to receive fast-tracked high-speed broadband connections next year. The Taoiseach has confirmed that contract will be signed in January. Will he confirm that again for the House? When will Members and communities receive details of the locations that are to be connected next year? I was in Kerry recently where the Healy-Raes live-----

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae Yes.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald -----the Healy-Raes' kingdom, in Tralee and Castleisland. The issues facing rural Ireland are manifold. They cannot be reduced down to broadband but there is significant impatience with delivery. While all of this ruaille buaille about procurement and so on plays out politically, people are left without this service. Will the Taoiseach confirm the January date? Can he tell us when we and people outside this House will know the precise locations for connection?

Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Richard Bruton): Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton The position is that the final tender, which was at the end of a competitive dialogue, was lodged with my Department on 18 September. That tender is now being evaluated by the Department to examine issues such as the robustness of the technology, the governance of the project, and value for money. I hope to be in a position to bring that to Government for a decision in the near future. It would not be possible for me or anyone else to outline a particular timescale or schedule until a contract is signed and the Government makes a decision to approve a particular proposal. This is at the end of a long process of procurement and we have to wait for a decision before we can indicate the outcome and the particular schedule.

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