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 Header Item EU Regulations: Motion
 Header Item EU Regulations: Motion
 Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2019
 Header Item Vote 1 — President’s Establishment (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 2 — Department of the Taoiseach (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 3 — Office of the Attorney General (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 4 — Central Statistics Office (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 5 — Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 6 — Office of the Chief State Solicitor (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 7 — Office of the Minister for Finance (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 8 — Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 9 — Office of the Revenue Commissioners (Further Revised)
 Header Item Vote 10 — Tax Appeals Commission (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 11 — Public Expenditure and Reform (Further Revised)
 Header Item Vote 12 — Superannuation and Retired Allowances (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 13 — Office of Public Works (Further Revised)
 Header Item Vote 14 — State Laboratory (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 15 — Secret Service (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 16 — Valuation Office (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 17 — Public Appointments Service (Further Revised)
 Header Item Vote 18 — National Shared Services Office (Further Revised)
 Header Item Vote 19 — Office of the Ombudsman (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 20 — Garda Síochána (Revised Estimate)
 Header Item Vote 21 — Prisons (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 22 — Courts Service (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 23 — Property Registration Authority (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 24 — Justice and Equality (Further Revised)
 Header Item Vote 25 — Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 26 — Education and Skills (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 27 — International Co-operation (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 28 — Foreign Affairs and Trade (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 29 — Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Further Revised)
 Header Item Vote 30 — Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 31 — Transport, Tourism and Sport (Further Revised)
 Header Item Vote 32 — Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 33 — Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Further Revised)
 Header Item Vote 34 — Housing, Planning and Local Government (Further Revised)
 Header Item Vote 35 — Army Pensions (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 36 — Defence (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 37 — Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 38 — Health (Further Revised)
 Header Item Vote 39 — Office of Government Procurement (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 40 — Children and Youth Affairs (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 41 — Policing Authority (Revised)
 Header Item Vote 42 — Rural and Community Development (Further Revised)

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 981 No. 8

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EU Regulations: Motion

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I move:

That Dáil Éireann approves the exercise by the State of the option or discretion, provided by Article 4 of Protocol No. 19 on the Schengen Acquis integrated into the Framework of the European Union annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, to request to take part in the following measure to the extent that it relates to the operational management of the Visa Information System (VIS), the establishment, operation and use of which are governed by Council Decision 2004/512/EC, Regulation (EC) No 767/2008 and Council Decision 2008/633/JHA, the operational management of the Entry/Exit system (EES), established by Regulation (EU) 2017/2226, the operational management of the European Travel Information and Authorisation system (ETIAS) established by Regulation (EU) 2018/1241, and the operational management of the parts of the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) governed by Regulation (EC) No 1987/2006 in which Ireland does not participate:
Regulation (EU) 2018/1726 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (eu-LISA), and amending Regulation (EC) No 1987/2006 and Council Decision 2007/533/JHA and repealing Regulation (EU) No 1077/2011,
a copy of which was laid before Dáil Éireann on 22nd November, 2018.

  Question put and agreed to.

EU Regulations: Motion

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I move:

That Dáil Éireann approves the exercise by the State of the option or discretion under Protocol No. 21 on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the area of freedom, security and justice annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to accept the following measure, insofar as the measure relates to the operational management of Eurodac, as governed by Regulation (EU) No 603/2013, and the operational management of DubliNet, established by Commission Regulation (EC) No 1560/2003:
Regulation (EU) 2018/1726 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (eu-LISA), and amending Regulation (EC) No 1987/2006 and Council Decision 2007/533/JHA and repealing Regulation (EU) No 1077/2011,
a copy of which was laid before Dáil Éireann on 22nd November, 2018.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen On a related issue I note that some weeks ago, when he was asked about the impending European elections and whether or not the UK would take its seats, the Taoiseach said that there could be two counts to provide for either outcome. I am looking for clarification from the Government. If we are to revert to the number of seats we had in the last European Parliament, surely we should revert to the constituencies and configuration we had then. If that is the case, the constituency of Laois-Offaly is left between two constituencies.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I am not sure that is relevant to this motion. There is no provision for debate anyway.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen It is not, but it needs to be answered and clarified, especially since the Taoiseach said there could be two counts when questioned. I could not comprehend what he was trying to say.

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy John Paul Phelan): Information on John Paul Phelan Zoom on John Paul Phelan European Parliament legislation approved by both Houses about three weeks ago sets out that there will be one count in all three constituencies. However, if Brexit is not concluded prior to the European Elections being held the final seat in Dublin and South will not be taken up until Brexit is concluded. In light of last night's agreement, one might interpret that if Britain leaves the European Union at Hallowe'en the final seat in Dublin and in South will be taken up by those who are elected in the election of 24 May, once Britain has left the European Union. That was approved and agreed unanimously by all parties in both Houses.

Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin: Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin That is not the question.

Deputy John Paul Phelan: Information on John Paul Phelan Zoom on John Paul Phelan It is the question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl We cannot have a debate on this matter now. There is no provision for debate.

  Question put and agreed to.

Estimates for Public Services 2019

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (Deputy Paschal Donohoe): Information on Paschal Donohoe Zoom on Paschal Donohoe I move the following Revised Estimates:

Vote 1 — President’s Establishment (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €4,434,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Secretary General to the President, for certain other expenses of the President’s Establishment and for certain grants.

Vote 2 — Department of the Taoiseach (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €34,337,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Department of the Taoiseach, including certain services administered by the Department and for payment of grants.

Vote 3 — Office of the Attorney General (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €15,592,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Attorney General, including a grant.

Vote 4 — Central Statistics Office (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €54,714,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Central Statistics Office.

Vote 5 — Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €42,809,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Vote 6 — Office of the Chief State Solicitor (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €34,616,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Chief State Solicitor.

Vote 7 — Office of the Minister for Finance (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €39,716,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Finance, including the Paymaster-General’s Office, for certain services administered by the Office of the Minister and for payment of certain grants.

Vote 8 — Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €8,657,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General.

Vote 9 — Office of the Revenue Commissioners (Further Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €378,580,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Revenue Commissioners, including certain other services administered by that Office.

Vote 10 — Tax Appeals Commission (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €3,208,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Tax Appeals Commission.

Vote 11 — Public Expenditure and Reform (Further Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €58,993,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, for certain services administered by the Office of the Minister and for payment of certain grants.

Vote 12 — Superannuation and Retired Allowances (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €371,297,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for pensions, superannuation, occupational injuries, and additional and other allowances and gratuities under the Superannuation Acts 1834 to 2004 and sundry other statutes; extra-statutory pensions, allowances and gratuities awarded by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, fees to medical referees and occasional fees to doctors; compensation and other payments in respect of personal injuries; fees to Pensions Authority and other professional fees, miscellaneous payments, etc.

Vote 13 — Office of Public Works (Further Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €439,738,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of Public Works; for services administered by that Office and for payment of certain grants and for the recoupment of certain expenditure.

Vote 14 — State Laboratory (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €9,795,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the State Laboratory.

Vote 15 — Secret Service (Revised)

  That a sum not exceeding €1,250,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for Secret Service.

Vote 16 — Valuation Office (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €12,730,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Valuation Office and certain minor services.

Vote 17 — Public Appointments Service (Further Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €14,858,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Public Appointments Service.

Vote 18 — National Shared Services Office (Further Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €50,324,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the National Shared Services Office and that a sum not exceeding €1,168,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 19 — Office of the Ombudsman (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €11,718,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Ombudsman, the Office of the Commission for Public Service Appointments, the Standards in Public Office Commission, the Office of the Information Commissioner and the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information.

Vote 20 — Garda Síochána (Revised Estimate)

That a sum not exceeding €1,654,808,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Garda Síochána, including pensions, etc.; for the payment of certain witnesses’ expenses, and for payment of certain grants and that a sum not exceeding €3,581,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 21 — Prisons (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €349,536,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Prison Service, and other expenses in connection with prisons, including places of detention, and for payment of certain grants.

Vote 22 — Courts Service (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €90,624,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for such of the salaries and expenses of the Courts Service and of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the High Court, the Special Criminal Court, the Circuit Court and the District Court and of certain other minor services as are not charged to the Central Fund and that a sum not exceeding €2,500,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 23 — Property Registration Authority (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €30,449,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Property Registration Authority and that a sum not exceeding €56,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 24 — Justice and Equality (Further Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €423,714,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Justice and Equality, Probation Service staff and of certain other services including payments under cash-limited schemes administered by that Office, and payment of certain grants and that a sum not exceeding €942,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 25 — Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €6,662,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission and for payment of certain grants.

Vote 26 — Education and Skills (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €9,800,656,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Education and Skills, for certain services administered by that Office, and for the payments of certain grants.

Vote 27 — International Co-operation (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €543,826,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for certain Official Development Assistance, including certain grants, and for contributions to certain International Organisations involved in Development Assistance and for salaries and expenses in connection therewith.

Vote 28 — Foreign Affairs and Trade (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €212,499,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, and for certain services administered by that Office, including grants and contributions to International Organisations.

Vote 29 — Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Further Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €421,990,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, including certain services administered by that Office, and for payment of certain grants and that a sum not exceeding €15,000,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 30 — Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €1,303,683,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, including certain services administered by that Office, and of the Irish Land Commission and for payment of certain grants and subsidies and for the payment of certain grants under cash-limited schemes and the remediation of Haulbowline Island and that a sum not exceeding €22,000,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 31 — Transport, Tourism and Sport (Further Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €2,316,869,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, including certain services administered by that Office, for payment of certain grants and certain other services and that a sum not exceeding €18,366,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 32 — Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €896,965,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, including certain services administered by that Office, for the payment of certain subsidies and grants and for the payment of certain grants under cash-limited schemes and that a sum not exceeding €27,600,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 33 — Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Further Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €335,195,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, including certain services administered by that Office, and for payment of certain subsidies and grants and that a sum not exceeding €700,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 34 — Housing, Planning and Local Government (Further Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €3,937,303,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, including grants to Local Authorities, grants and other expenses in connection with housing, water services, miscellaneous schemes, subsidies and grants.

Vote 35 — Army Pensions (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €244,133,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for retired pay, pensions, compensation, allowances and gratuities payable under sundry statutes to or in respect of members of the Defence Forces and certain other Military Organisations, etc., and for sundry contributions and expenses in connection therewith; for certain extra-statutory children’s allowances and other payments and for sundry grants.

Vote 36 — Defence (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €735,313,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Defence, including certain services administered by that Office; for the pay and expenses of the Defence Forces; and for payment of certain grants.

Vote 37 — Employment Affairs and Social Protection (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €10,599,773,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, for certain services administered by that Office, for payments to the Social Insurance Fund and for certain grants and that a sum not exceeding €1,000,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 38 — Health (Further Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €16,692,260,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Health and certain other services administered by that Office, including grants to the Health Service Executive and miscellaneous grants.

Vote 39 — Office of Government Procurement (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €18,031,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of Government Procurement and that a sum not exceeding €96,000 be granted by way of the application for capital supply services of unspent appropriations, the surrender of which may be deferred under Section 91 of the Finance Act 2004.

Vote 40 — Children and Youth Affairs (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €1,482,676,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, for certain services administered by that Office and for the payment of grants including certain grants under cash-limited schemes.

Vote 41 — Policing Authority (Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €3,324,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Policing Authority.

Vote 42 — Rural and Community Development (Further Revised)

That a sum not exceeding €260,682,000 be granted to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of December, 2019, for the salaries and expenses of the Office of the Minister for Rural and Community Development including certain services administered by that Office and for the payment of grants.

:  The Revised Estimates Volume, REV, for public services was presented to the House last December, with further Revised Estimates presented to the House in February. The Estimates set out the allocation of Government expenditure by Vote for this year, amounting to €66.6 billion, an increase of 5.5% on the outturn in 2018. The vast majority of this, nearly 90%, relates to day-to-day current expenditure. This represents a year-on-year increase of almost 4%. Indeed, combined funding for the key day-to-day public services of the Departments of Health, Education and Skills and Employment Affairs and Social Protection amounts to almost €47 billion in 2019, almost 79% of total expenditure.

Spending on our health service is now at a record level. Including the allocation of capital spending, it now stands at €17 billion. This is an increase of over €1 billion on the amount spent in 2018.

Turning to education I note that this year's allocation amounts to €10.8 billion, an increase of over 5% on the 2018 outturn. This will allow for the recruitment of additional teachers and special needs assistants and enable more targeted investment in higher and further education to meet the skills and education needs of the labour market.

Some €20.5 billion has been allocated to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection. This allocation includes provision for an increase of €5 per week in the weekly maximum rates of all social welfare payments. Jobseekers on age-related reduced rates of payment will benefit from the full increase.

Other areas of investment include the recruitment of additional gardaí and additional housing supports in the shape of increased funding for the housing assistance payment. Furthermore, additional funding has been provided to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to facilitate our children and young people in reaching their potential.

A high level of uncertainty still exists in relation to Brexit. It is an event which under any circumstances is unfavourable for the State. That is why we need to be careful with our public finances. We also need to put in place plans like the future growth loan scheme for small and medium-sized enterprises, SMEs, and the agriculture and food sector.

Overall capital expenditure will amount to €7.3 billion this year. This represents an increase of approximately €1.4 billion on last year's outturn. This will play an important role in delivering public infrastructure across Ireland, particularly in areas such as housing, education, healthcare and transport. Additional funding is being provided for enterprise supports to support economic recovery and promote jobs growth. Increased funding is also being provided to support investment in areas such as flood defences and climate change mitigation.

This allocation to capital infrastructure is consistent with the national development plan and Project Ireland 2040, which set out a ten-year investment of approximately €116 billion. As recent events have clearly demonstrated, to protect this investment we must put the right structures in place to deal with capital cost overruns. In light of this, new procedures are now being developed in the context of the ongoing review of the public spending code and the new medium-term strategy of the Office of Government Procurement. The allocation of these resources provides investment to build our economy and support our long-term growth. Passage of these Estimates will allow the House to put in place the funding that we need to maintain current services for our State and provide support to citizens in the areas the House has committed to.

Deputy Barry Cowen: Information on Barry Cowen Zoom on Barry Cowen As we know, these Estimates were discussed before being put before the relevant committees and are now before the House again for its expected approval. I acknowledge that. It is pertinent that this is happening in the week that the PricewaterhouseCoopers, PwC, report was published. In that context I looked up the mission statement for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, which is "To serve the country, its people and the Government by delivering well-managed and well-targeted public spending, through modernised, effective and accountable public services".

One would have thought that the PwC report would reflect or confirm that this Department was all over the national children's hospital project. It is the Department charged with responsibility for ensuring that the taxpayers' money is dealt with appropriately, as per the mission statement. However, the Department is only mentioned twice in the report; in the glossary and when the Minister was informed about the overrun after the event. That does not reflect very well on the Department's role or its mission statement. The Department is quick to take responsibility for high-vis jackets and shovels when projects are announced, but it has been twice as quick to hide behind the contract committee, a subcommittee of the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board which decided on a split contract.

It was the Minister's job to take on board, analyse and scrutinise the board's recommendation. It appears there was a failure there. There was a failure in the contract committee's decision and a failure on the part of the Minister and his Department, which did not adequately analyse or scrutinise that recommendation. It was accepted verbatim.


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