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 Header Item Cabinet Committees (Continued)
 Header Item Ábhair Shaincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Matters
 Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2019: Message from Select Committee
 Header Item Ceisteanna (Atógáil) - Questions (Resumed)
 Header Item Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions
 Header Item Childcare Services Provision

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 991 No. 1

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  4 o’clock

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Last week, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Coveney, stated that we, presumably the Irish Government, would be open to new thinking on the Israel-Palestine peace process. To be specific, in an interview he gave to the Israeli public broadcaster, KAN, he stated:

We will continue to advocate, yes, for new thinking because I think the solution now is probably not the same as what a solution looked like 20 years ago. A lot has happened in that time.

Every Member in this House knows a lot has happened in the past 20 years, most especially the illegal annexation of more Palestinian land by a succession of Israeli governments, led by Benjamin Netanyahu. For clarity, can the Taoiseach tell us the Government's new thinking in respect of the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute? As a House, we need to be crystal clear that it is no lessening of our total opposition to the illegal annexation of Palestinian land that has gone on unchecked.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Tánaiste met with the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Foreign Minister, Israel Katz, on Monday, 2 December, during a working visit to Israel and Palestine. During the visit, the Tánaiste also met with a number of Palestinian political leaders including President Abbas and Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, and a number of UN officials also. The Tánaiste used these meetings to discuss how Ireland can support efforts towards a durable two-state solution to the conflict and to convey Ireland's concerns about the impact of the occupation, including in respect of settlement activity and the blockade of Gaza.

Yesterday, 9 December, the Tánaiste briefed Ministers at the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on his visit to Israel and Palestine. He highlighted two specific issues which merit further discussion at EU level - annexation and the need for free elections in Palestine. The Tánaiste is concerned by appalling evidence of creeping annexation in the West Bank. Ireland and the EU's position on Israeli settlements could not be clearer. They are illegal under international law and fundamentally undermine the prospects for a two-state solution.

Israel's violation of human rights and mistreatment of Palestinians was also raised in these meetings.

The Tánaiste also raised the potential for elections in Palestine, which may take place in 2020, and which have not happened for more than a decade. EU members states must encourage Israel to facilitate voting for Palestinians in east Jerusalem also.

Ministers will return to the Middle East peace process in more detail at the January Foreign Affairs Council.

Regarding new thinking, this does not mean any departure from the two-state solution.

Regarding the labelling of products coming from the occupied territories, a French court challenging the rules on the labelling of settlement products was referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union. Ireland, as an interested member state, lodged observations on the case to endorse EU guidelines on the labelling of settlement goods issued in 2015 and appeared at the oral hearing in early April. The court's judgment was issued on 12 November and found that foodstuffs originating in the occupied territories must bear the indication of the territory of origin and when these products originate from a settlement, that must also be made clear on the label. Therefore, a boycott by citizens is possible and indeed by business.

Regarding the Control of Economic Activities (Occupied Territories) Bill, the Tánaiste has set out the Government's position in the Seanad and the Dáil. The Government's opposition to settlements is unequivocal. However, the proposals contained in this Bill go beyond what is in the Government's power to do. Trade is a matter of sole EU competence and that is clear in the treaties. Passage of the Bill would expose the State to legal action and to substantial and recurring damages and no Government could endorse that.

On settlements, we must choose policies which will be effective, are consistent with our position in the EU Single Market and customs union and will not be struck down as illegal, giving comfort to settlers rather than Palestinians. Informal soundings in Brussels indicate that the European Commission agrees that the Bill contravenes EU law as trade is a sole EU competence in the treaties and would take a legal challenge if the Bill was enacted.

On the issue of settlements more widely, all settlement activity is illegal under international law and contrary to Israel's obligations under the fourth Geneva convention on the treatment of civilian population under military occupation. It is also damaging the viability of a future Palestinian state. The Tánaiste spoke with the US ambassador about this matter when he met him on 20 November, shortly after Secretary of State Pompeo's comments. The views of the international community on settlements are extremely clear on this point and are comprehensively expressed in UN Security Council Resolution 2334 but also in many other UN Security Council resolutions.

Acting Chairman (Deputy Frank O'Rourke): Information on Frank O'Rourke Zoom on Frank O'Rourke As there are just over five minutes remaining, I propose to the House that we roll over Questions Nos. 12 to 18, inclusive, to tomorrow as we will not have time to take them. Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy Micheál Martin: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I thank the Acting Chairman. Very wise.

Ábhair Shaincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Matters

Acting Chairman (Deputy Frank O'Rourke): Information on Frank O'Rourke Zoom on Frank O'Rourke 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 Tóibín - to discuss an update on negotiations with the Irish Pharmacy Union; (2) Deputy Aindrias Moynihan - to discuss the ongoing delays with the new Macroom Garda station; (3) Deputy Barry - to discuss social insurance and pension entitlements of workers in the St. Vincent’s care centre in Cork; (4) Deputies Buckley, O'Keeffe and Browne - to discuss the possible closure of greyhound tracks at Youghal and Enniscorthy; (5) Deputy Sherlock - to discuss post-primary school places for September 2020 in Carrigtwohill and the wider east Cork area; (6) Deputy Paul Murphy - to discuss the recent EPA report on water quality; (7) Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan - to discuss the Community Policing Forum in Dublin north inner city; (8) Deputy Butler - to discuss waiting times for home care supports in Waterford; (9) Deputy Funchion - to discuss the impact of insurance costs on childcare providers; (10) Deputy Harty - to discuss the survival of Clare Bus in Clare and south Galway; (11) Deputy Fitzpatrick - to discuss housing developments in Drogheda, County Louth; (12) Deputy O'Loughlin - to discuss second-level school places in Newbridge and Kildare town; (13) Deputy Mattie McGrath - to discuss tree felling licence delays and the impact on farm contractors; (14) Deputy Brady - to discuss the 150 job losses at Rondo Food, in Arklow; (15) Deputy Brassil - to discuss the need for the provision of a general purpose room for a school; (16) Deputy Troy - to discuss actions being taken to tackle fraudulent insurance claims in his Department; (17) Deputy O'Rourke - to discuss the advancement of housing development at Hazelhatch, Celbridge, County Kildare; (18) Deputy Thomas Byrne - to discuss improving the pupil-teacher ratio in DEIS band 1 schools; (19) Deputy Ó Laoghaire - to discuss industrial action being taken by school secretaries; (20) Deputy Donnelly - to discuss the closure of residential admissions at St. Joseph’s dementia care home, Shankill, County Dublin; and (21) Deputy Lahart - to discuss hospitals charging patients and visitors to charge their mobile phones.

The matters raised by Deputies Tóibín, Buckley, O'Keeffe and Browne, Sherlock and Thomas Byrne have been selected for discussion.

Estimates for Public Services 2019: Message from Select Committee

Acting Chairman (Deputy Frank O'Rourke): Information on Frank O'Rourke Zoom on Frank O'Rourke The Select Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach has completed its consideration the following Supplementary Estimates for Public Service for the year ending 31 December 2019: Votes 6, 7, 9, 12 and 17.

Ceisteanna (Atógáil) - Questions (Resumed)

Ceisteanna ar Sonraíodh Uain Dóibh - Priority Questions

Childcare Services Provision

 49. Deputy Anne Rabbitte Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone if she is considering putting in place support measures for parents in cases in which a crèche has been deregistered; and the measures being taken to increase supply in childcare. [51843/19]

Deputy Anne Rabbitte: Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte Is the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs considering putting in place support measures for parents in cases where a crèche has been deregistered and what measures have been taken to increase the supply of childcare? I have put forward this question because I met parents last week from Hyde and Seek in Glasnevin with Councillor Mary Fitzpatrick.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Katherine Zappone): Information on Katherine Zappone Zoom on Katherine Zappone The safety and protection of children remains the first priority of Government. This is done through the enforcement of regulations which have children at the heart of their implementation.

  The removal of childcare providers from the register of early years services is the ultimate sanction by Tusla, the independent statutory regulator for the sector. It comes at the end of an enforcement process during which Tusla makes every effort to support the provider to come into compliance with the regulations.

  Deregistrations and prosecutions are evidence of Tusla’s robust approach where it finds evidence of disregard for regulations.

  I acknowledge that deregistrations can cause significant challenges for parents in finding alternative childcare provision.

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