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 Header Item An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business (Continued)
 Header Item Health Service Executive (Governance) Bill 2018 [Seanad]: Instruction to Committee
 Header Item Gnó na Dála - Business of Dáil
 Header Item Ceisteanna - Questions
 Header Item Taoiseach's Meetings and Engagements

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 979 No. 5

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Deputy Shane Cassells: Information on Shane Cassells Zoom on Shane Cassells Does the Taoiseach support the decision?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I cannot say before reading the statement and the judgment and I have read neither yet. I will ask the Minister, Deputy Bruton, to provide the Deputy with a fuller reply as soon as he can.

Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin: Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin I direct my question to both the Taoiseach and the Minister for Education and Skills. On 4 September a High Court decision was made in respect of pre-qualification tenders for St. Paul's secondary school in Monasterevin. This has led to long delays for the children, the teachers and the whole school community in Monasterevin. This has wider implications for every single project which has been put out for tender by the Department of Education and Skills because the Department now has to review all its procedures in respect of pre-qualification tenders. When will the Department have new guidelines in place which will allow it to put projects out to tender? Until it does so every single school project in the country will be impeded. This has to be a matter of urgency for the Department.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh I thank the Deputy for raising this issue. It has been raised on the floor of this House a number of times. Her colleagues have raised it and I recently met students from Kildare who also raised it. There are ongoing legal issues involved in the matter. I will get the Deputy a full comprehensive update as to where we are in respect of pre-qualification tenders.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae The Taoiseach and his supporters thought it was a good idea to introduce legislation to criminalise our young drivers and their parents. That decision targeted young provisional drivers. The Taoiseach directed the Garda, which is now impounding as many as eight cars a day. This is bringing in revenue of €8,000. I hope the Taoiseach is proud of that. It is the hard-pressed parents who have to pay this money. These young people want to be called for driver tests. When will the Taoiseach ensure a realistic and acceptable waiting period for driver tests? The Taoiseach has criminalised these drivers and hurt their parents. The message from this Government hurts them all. Will the Taoiseach do anything practical to help them?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I appreciate that there are very long delays for people who want to take their driver test in many parts of the country. The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Road Safety Authority are working on reducing the waiting time for tests to less than 12 weeks. It is important to say again that the concept of the provisional licence was abolished a very long time ago. There are no provisional licences anymore and there have not been for years. It is called a "learner permit". It is not a licence to drive. The reason young drivers have learner permits is that they have either not done a test or have failed their test. It is, therefore, not safe for them to drive on their own. Above all this is a road safety measure.

Health Service Executive (Governance) Bill 2018 [Seanad]: Instruction to Committee

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Josepha Madigan): Information on Josepha Madigan Zoom on Josepha Madigan I move:

That, pursuant to Standing Order 154, it be an instruction to the Select Committee on Health, in relation to the Health Service Executive (Governance) Bill 2018, that the Committee has power to make amendments to the Bill which are outside the scope of the existing provisions of the Bill, in relation to the carrying out of health needs assessments and to make other consequential amendments required to take account of the changes above.

  Question put and agreed to.

Gnó na Dála - Business of Dáil

Deputy Seán Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Could the Ceann Comhairle tell me when No. 14, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of Ireland’s participation in a European Defence Agency project, is going to be taken?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl It will taken at 6.05 p.m.

Deputy Seán Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett This matter was raised at the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Defence, where I expressed deep concern about how the role of the Defence Forces would be changed by engaging in this project. I would expect that if participation in this project is to be discussed and approved by this House that it would first get a full report based on what was said in the committee. I ask that we get a report on the points raised at the committee meeting before this matter is nodded through. Moving from solely engaging in peacekeeping missions, through which we have built up a significant reputation throughout the world, to involvement in whatever is meant by military search capability building is a very serious change to the role of Irish Defence Forces. This is something about which I am deeply concerned.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett Deputy Barrett is quite right.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl We will have the matter investigated and we will report directly to the Deputy in advance of that item.

Deputy Seán Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I ask that this matter not be taken until we get a full report.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl We have just agreed the Order of Business.

Deputy Seán Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I did not agree. This item was not reached. That is why I am raising it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl It was part of the proposal for today's business. It was agreed to take all those matters. How the item proceeds is another matter, but we will investigate the issue and report directly to the Deputy in advance.

Deputy Seán Barrett: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett I thank the Ceann Comhairle.

Ceisteanna - Questions

Taoiseach's Meetings and Engagements

 1. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will report on his telephone conversations with Prime Minister May on 29 and 30 January 2019; if he has had subsequent conversations with the Prime Minister; and the issues that were discussed regarding Brexit. [5327/19]

 2. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if Prime Minister May or her officials have outlined the UK alternative proposals or suggestions when they spoke on 29 and 30 January 2019. [5328/19]

 3. Deputy Brendan Howlin Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will report on his most recent telephone conversation with the British Prime Minister, Mrs. Theresa May. [5373/19]

 4. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he spoke to the British Prime Minister, Mrs. Theresa May when she was in Northern Ireland; and if she outlined suggestions in relation to the European backstop as laid out in her speech on 5 February 2019 while in Belfast. [6678/19]

 5. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if the British Prime Minister, Mrs. Theresa May explained the way in which she expects to prevent a hard border and not to scrap the European backstop in view of her speech in Belfast on 5 February 2019 when they last met or spoke on the telephone. [6682/19]

 6. Deputy Eamon Ryan Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will report on his recent conversation with the British Prime Minister, Mrs. Theresa May. [6702/19]

 7. Deputy Joan Burton Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will report on his most recent conversation with the British Prime Minister, Mrs. Theresa May. [6706/19]

 8. Deputy Brendan Howlin Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will report on his meeting with the British Prime Minister, Mrs. Theresa May on 8 February 2019. [7902/19]

 9. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will report on his recent discussions with the British Prime Minister, Mrs. Theresa May. [7978/19]

 10. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if Prime Minister May spoke in relation to there being no need for a Brexit delay in view of the fact it would serve no purpose when they met in Dublin on 8 February 2019; and if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Prime Minster May informed business leaders of this in London on 12 February 2019. [8029/19]

 11. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he or his officials discussed the impact on supply chains from east to west and others with Prime Minister May when they met in Dublin on 8 February 2019. [8030/19]

 12. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he will report on his recent meeting with the British Prime Minister, Mrs. Theresa May. [8286/19]

 13. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he has spoken with Prime Minister May since a motion was rejected on 14 February 2019 in the House of Commons to prevent a no-deal Brexit. [8463/19]

 14. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he discussed the future European elections with Prime Minister May when they met in Dublin. [8468/19]

 110. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar if he discussed the lack of a Northern Ireland Assembly with Prime Minister May when they last met in Dublin. [8034/19]

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 14, inclusive, and No. 110 together.

I met with Prime Minister May over dinner in Farmleigh House on 8 February when we briefed each other on our respective engagements in Belfast and Brussels that week. We discussed developments in Northern Ireland and our shared interest in seeing the devolved institutions restored. We also discussed possible structures for future engagement post Brexit.

On Brexit, I restated the EU position that the backstop is an integral part of the withdrawal agreement. It was negotiated in good faith over many months, it is finely balanced, and it was a compromise in itself. It was approved by the 28 EU leaders in November. No other solution has yet been found that ensures that the absence of a hard border in all circumstances can be guaranteed. I reiterated our wish to see the withdrawal agreement ratified so that negotiations on a future partnership between the EU and the UK in the areas of economy, trade and security can start as soon as possible. We did not discuss any technical aspects of Brexit. The Prime Minister indicated that further consultations are taking place in London and with the European Commission in Brussels. We agreed to stay in touch over the coming period.

Prior to our meeting on 8 February, I was in contact with the Prime Minister on Tuesday, 29 January and we spoke by phone on Wednesday, 30 January following the previous day's votes in Westminster. I set out once again the Irish and EU position on the withdrawal agreement, including the Irish protocol and the backstop therein, noting that the latest developments in Westminster had simply reinforced the need for a solution that is legally binding and practically operable.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I thank the Taoiseach for his reply. There are 38 days to go until Britain is due to exit the European Union according to the current law of both the United Kingdom and the European Union. We all understand that there is chaos in London and that it is still unclear what would satisfy a majority in the House of Commons. The neat daily commentary we get from our own Government about what London needs to do is fine, but the issue today is what the Government is going to do and what it is doing.

For three weeks in a row I have asked the Taoiseach to answer a very basic question. If no deal or no delay is agreed in the coming weeks, what will happen on our borders both at sea and on land? We are so close to Brexit that some businesses are already taking orders and scheduling production which will take effect on or after 29 March. These businesses need to know a hell of a lot more than that our Government is not contemplating or planning certain things. The Taoiseach has said what he is not planning and what he is not contemplating. What do these businesses need to do to prepare for a no-deal scenario next month? Can they be assured that no additional steps will be required of them if they are crossing the Border in 38 days' time? The Taoiseach has repeatedly made it clear that a failure to have a withdrawal agreement and something like the backstop would mean disruption. He needs to start being open about what exactly that disruption will be. What will happen on 29 March in the event of a no-deal Brexit?

It seems clear that a text of some sort is being discussed with the United Kingdom and that our Government is fully informed about what is in it. Will the Taoiseach outline the nature of that text to us in the course of his answer?

Deputy Joan Burton: Information on Joan Burton Zoom on Joan Burton We are now at ten minutes to midnight. If St. Patrick's week is removed from the 38 days, there are fewer than 30 working days until the UK's withdrawal, assuming that everybody will be working weekends in the lead up to it. The Irish Times today said that the British focus is now on legal language which would put a limit on the backstop in respect of content, duration, or both.


Last Updated: 13/07/2020 11:37:59 First Page Previous Page Page of 85 Next Page Last Page