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 Header Item Ceisteanna ar Reachtaíocht a Gealladh - Questions on Promised Legislation (Continued)
 Header Item Message from Select Committee
 Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2019: Message from Select Committee
 Header Item Ábhair Shaincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Matters
 Header Item Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2019: First Stage

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 990 No. 5

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Charles Flanagan: Information on Charles Flanagan Zoom on Charles Flanagan] There have been ongoing discussions with a number of stakeholders through a committee which I convened earlier this year. We are currently looking at a proposed legislative change which would refine the definition of public place. Discussions are ongoing between the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, my Department, and local authorities in this regard. I cannot say the matter will be resolved before the end of this year but this is an issue of importance and we are looking at how to address it.

Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin: Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin I raise the issue of childcare and childcare workers. In this country, most of our families entrust their children to childcare workers to allow them to go to work, to care for other family members and so on. The childcare system is not without its challenges but we absolutely rely on it. While we agree with the closure of some childcare facilities and crèches, such as those we saw highlighted on "Prime Time", because they are not fit for purpose, the vast majority do a really good job in caring for and supporting our children. They support the very fabric of our communities. The newly introduced childcare regulations which require childcare facilities to register before 12 December are very onerous. I know that the deadline for meeting some of the conditions has been extended until June but, at the moment, only 50% of childcare operators have registered. On 2 January, 50% of our childcare operators may close down. What will we do when our teachers, nurses, doctors and public servants cannot go to work? This needs to be looked at.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Minister, Deputy Zappone, is currently looking at this issue. I will ask her to contact the Deputy about it.

Deputy Declan Breathnach: Information on Declan Breathnach Zoom on Declan Breathnach With regard to the programme for Government, I raise the issue of the obligations and roles of the British and Irish Governments as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement. The Irish Government made major constitutional amendments to enable the implementation of that agreement yet the British Government is failing to amend simple domestic law in order to protect the rights of Irish citizens, due to its interpretation of the agreement. What progress, if any, is being made by the Government in addressing these gaps in the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement? Can the Taoiseach guarantee that, as part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, these issues in the Good Friday Agreement will be respected and honoured?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I am sorry, is the Deputy referring to the DeSouza case?

Deputy Declan Breathnach: Information on Declan Breathnach Zoom on Declan Breathnach Yes. I refer to the DeSouza case and the British Government's interpretation in that case.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar There is nothing about that in the withdrawal agreement but it is something we are taking up with the British Government. The British courts have made a distinction between being able to identify as British, Irish or both and being a citizen of Britain, Ireland or both. We do not agree with that interpretation. I have taken this matter up with the Prime Minister and the Tánaiste has taken it up with the Secretary of State. We will take it up again after the UK elections.

Deputy Tony McLoughlin: Information on Tony McLoughlin Zoom on Tony McLoughlin I have a question for the Minister of State with responsibility for sport, Deputy Griffin. Quite a sizeable amount of money has been allocated through the sports capital programme over recent weeks. I welcome that but I have been made aware of a number of appeals in my constituency. I am sure there are also appeals in other constituencies. Some applicants were not successful for one reason or another. Will the Minister of State outline the appeals process?

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (Deputy Brendan Griffin): Information on Brendan Griffin Zoom on Brendan Griffin The Deputy is correct. We recently allocated €37 million to more than 1,000 sports clubs around the country. This means that €57 million has been allocated under the current round of the sports capital programme when one includes the previous tranche, which was for equipment only, and the second-chance applicants from the previous round. The deadline for any club whose application was invalid or unsuccessful to appeal is 20 December. Some 9% of all applications in this round were invalid. That is a decrease from 48% in 2012, so we have made great progress on that front. Those clubs whose applications scored in the bottom 25% were unsuccessful on this occasion. Clubs may appeal that decision. The deadline is 20 December and I encourage any club whose application was invalid or unsuccessful as a result of being in that bottom 25% to appeal if it feels there is a case for doing so.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The Minister of State has told us that this information is on the website. I have read it there. I was going to give a mark of six out of ten because there was some improvement on yesterday but I am afraid we have fallen back to five out of ten. We will strive to improve tomorrow in order to reach that mark. I hope it will not take too long to do so.

Message from Select Committee

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The Select Committee on Health has completed its consideration of the Health Insurance (Amendment) Bill 2019, and has made no amendments thereto.

Estimates for Public Services 2019: Message from Select Committee

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The Select Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport has completed its consideration of the following Supplementary Estimate for public services for the service of the year ending 31 December 2019: Vote 31 - Transport, Tourism and Sport.

Ábhair Shaincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Matters

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher I wish to advise the House of the following matters in respect of which notice has been given under Standing Order 29A and the name of the Member in each case: (1) Deputy Sean Fleming - to discuss the future of Portlaoise general hospital; (2) Deputy John Brassil - to discuss the need for a general purpose room for a school in County Kerry; (3) Deputy James Lawless - to discuss the lack of autism spectrum disorder school places for secondary school children in Kildare; (4) Deputy Stephen Donnelly - to discuss the decision by St. Joseph’s dementia care home in Shankill to cease taking residential patients in light of its current funding crisis; (5) Deputy Paul Murphy - to discuss plans for the National Maternity Hospital; (6) Deputy Michael Healy-Rae - to discuss funding for a general purpose room in Castlegregory national school, County Kerry; (7) Deputy Michael Harty - to discuss action for rural villages to prevent decline and promote renewal; (8) Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív - to discuss the need for additional funding for improvement works on accident black spots; (9) Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett - to discuss cash incentives advertisements to discharge patients in St. James Hospital, Dublin; (10) Deputy Aindrias Moynihan - to discuss the ongoing delays in building a new Garda station in Macroom, County Cork; (11) Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin - to discuss the lack of second level school places in Newbridge and Kildare town, County Kildare; (12) Deputy Gino Kenny - to discuss the proposed medical cannabis access programme; (13) Deputy Timmy Dooley - to discuss overcrowding at the accident and emergency department in University Hospital Limerick; and (14) Deputy James Browne - to address the shortage of special needs education places in County Wexford;

The matters raised by Deputies Michael Harty, James Browne, Timmy Dooley and Sean Fleming have been selected for discussion.

Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2019: First Stage

Deputy John Curran: Information on John Curran Zoom on John Curran I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the law relating to the misuse of drugs and for those purposes to amend the Misuse of Drugs Act 1977 to criminalise the purchase of a controlled drug from a child and to criminalise the act of causing a child to be in possession of a controlled drug for sale or supply and to provide for related matters.

Most Members of the House will be aware that the abuse of illicit drugs has reached a level we have not seen before in this country. It is affecting individuals, families and communities throughout the country. What might have traditionally been seen as a problem for urban areas and, more often than not, areas of social disadvantage has now become a national problem. Illegal drugs are in every town and village in the country. I do not say this just to put it on the record, it is backed up by all of the evidence. If we look at the number of people who are seeking treatment for addiction or the CSO figures for drug-related offences, we will see that the figures are increasing every year. This shows the scale of the problem we are facing. It is interesting to note that total drug seizures by An Garda Síochána in 2017 were equal to those in 2015 and 2016 put together. There is a massive quantity of illicit drugs in the country. It is unfortunate but it needs to be put on the record that, in the last year in which drug-related deaths were counted, 2016, 736 lost their lives in this way. This issue is having a devastating effect on many aspects of life for individuals, families and communities.

  In recent years a new feature of this trade has developed. Young children are being targeted and used to deliver, sell and supply drugs. This was very well explained in research undertaken by the Blanchardstown Local Drugs and Alcohol Task Force, which was published earlier this year. It brought to light the fact that the service had seen children as young as ten dealing drugs. It has actually came across one eight year old drug runner. It is appalling to think that children of that age are being groomed and targeted. Their lives are being ruined because once they get into that vicious cycle, it is very difficult to get away. They are being targeted because those who are using them often feel that there are fewer or lesser criminal consequences for young people than for other people who are caught. They are being used, abused and targeted by other people in the drug distribution chain.

  The purpose of this Bill is to introduce two new criminal offences. It would become an offence to purchase drugs from a person under the age of 18. This puts a responsibility on people who are using drugs. If they buy drugs from a person under the age of 18 they will not just be charged with using or possessing; it would be a new aggravated offence to purchase drugs from a minor.

  It would also be an offence to cause a child to be in possession of drugs with intent to supply. Those who are operating the distribution systems and using children as distributors and sellers of drugs would be committing an offence. While this will not solve our drug problem, it will offer a degree of protection to young people who are in a vulnerable position, who are being targeted and whose future is being taken away from them.

Last Updated: 21/07/2020 10:32:17 First Page Previous Page Page of 75 Next Page Last Page