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 Header Item An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business (Continued)
 Header Item Dying with Dignity Bill 2020: First Stage
 Header Item Equitable Beef Pricing Bill 2020: First Stage

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 997 No. 3
Unrevised

First Page Previous Page Page of 93 Next Page Last Page

Deputy Matt Carthy: Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy Unfortunately, it is a unilateral decision.

The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin There is no such thing as unilateral in an executive or in a government.

Deputy Matt Carthy: Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy Yes, there is, actually.

The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Deputy must accept collective responsibility.

Deputy Matt Carthy: Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy I have asked the Taoiseach what his position is.

The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin It is the duplicity that the Deputy's party consistently deploys in terms of its stances on various issues.

Deputy Matt Carthy: Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy For the record, I will quote the line again: "Fianna Fáil stands by its commitment that this project can only proceed-----

The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin If it does not like the decision of the Executive, it is not its decision.

Deputy Matt Carthy: Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy -----on the basis that the lines are placed underground".

The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin It did the same on social welfare in the past on the Executive-----

Deputy Matt Carthy: Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy What is the Taoiseach's position now?

The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I respect the planning process. Our position has been very clear about the North-South interconnector and we will work to see what can be achieved in that regard.

Deputy Matt Carthy: Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy What is the Taoiseach going to do about it?

The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I have just given the Deputy the position. The planning process in Northern Ireland is not our function. The Deputy will criticise, delay and delay-----

Deputy Matt Carthy: Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy I am asking what the Taoiseach is going to do about it in this State.

The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Deputy is trying to criticise a colleague of his party in the Executive-----

Deputy Matt Carthy: Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy The Taoiseach is the Head of the Government.

The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin -----yet his party is part of that Executive.

Deputy Matt Carthy: Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy What is the Taoiseach's position today?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I call Deputy Durkan.

Deputy Matt Carthy: Information on Matt Carthy Zoom on Matt Carthy A Cheann Comhairle, the Taoiseach purposely refused to answer the question. It undermines the legitimacy of promised legislation. That is disappointing.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Thank you. I call Deputy Durkan.

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan: Information on Bernard J. Durkan Zoom on Bernard J. Durkan What is the position with the Charities Act 2009 in respect of all sections and its applicability? Has it been fully endorsed and is it fully operational at present? Are there some outstanding amendments or changes?

The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin It is not on the programme for this session, but the heads are still being prepared.

Dying with Dignity Bill 2020: First Stage

Deputy Gino Kenny: Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to make provision for assistance in achieving a dignified and peaceful end of life to qualifying persons and related matters.

I am introducing the Dying with Dignity Bill 2020 on behalf of Solidarity-People Before Profit. I do not do this in jubilation but with determination that this very personal issue is discussed openly and rationally. If enacted, this Bill will make legal and medical provision for achieving a peaceful end to life for those with a progressive and incurable terminal illness. Compassion, empathy and humanity should be at the heart of this debate. From the outset, the most important voice in the debate is that of the individual who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. That individual should have a choice to make a fully conversant decision on how his or her condition progresses and concludes. The debate should not be framed as an alternative to palliative and hospice care in any way. This can be a very difficult conversation for a society. Whatever one's views on voluntary assisted dying, all views should be respected and listened to with mutual and collective respect.

  This Bill would not have been possible were it not for the incredible bravery of the late Marie Fleming. I never met Marie, but I know that if she were sitting in the Visitors Gallery now, she would be willing us on. Before Marie passed away in 2013, the Supreme Court stated in its ruling that there was no impediment in this Parliament to legislating for voluntary assisted dying. I also wish to mention Tom Curran, Marie Fleming's partner. Without Tom's guidance and input to this Bill, it would not have been possible. I also thank the former Independent Deputy, John Halligan, who introduced this Bill in 2015. I appeal to the public and fellow Deputies to give thought and reflection to this Bill over the coming weeks. If there is not a clear party or Government position to let this Bill progress, I ask the Taoiseach and party leaders to allow a free vote or vote of conscience on this issue.

  In the most profoundly difficult circumstances people should have a choice to have a dignified and peaceful end to their lives on their own terms when the pain and suffering become unbearable. Assisted dying is not about ending life but about ending suffering when a person no longer has the option of living. They have not made that decision. It has been taken out of their hands.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Is the Bill being opposed?

The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin No.

  Question put and agreed to.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

Deputy Gino Kenny: Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

  Question put and agreed to.

Equitable Beef Pricing Bill 2020: First Stage

Deputy Peadar Tóibín: Information on Peadar Tóibín Zoom on Peadar Tóibín I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to ensure the provision of an equitable price for beef to farmers operating in that sector in order to ensure that it is a sustainable means for them to earn a livelihood; and to provide for related matters.

Many farmers in the country are finding it increasingly difficult to survive. Teagasc reckons that a third of farmers are currently making enough income off their farms to make a living. Another third of farmers are only able to survive because somebody is working away from the farm to supplement the farm income. A full third of farmers are making a loss and going into poverty. In fact, many of them are being pushed off the land. It is clear that the industry is not functioning at present. The industry is structured in the most anti-competitive way. It operates as an oligopoly. A small number of producers exert enormous control over the sector. The beef barons and producers can control every aspect of the market, such as the price and all the conditions of sale. In addition, supermarkets are making supernormal profits from the beef product. However, the primary producer in this country is getting a price which, in general, is below the cost of production. It is estimated that if the European grant funding for this sector were removed, most beef farmers would be making a significant loss.

  Aontú is introducing a Bill which, for the first time, will force beef barons to pay a price that is either at or above the cost of production for a period of a year. It is to force the beef barons to the table to make a real and honest effort at negotiating a market that functions for everybody. The worst aspect of this market is the poverty it is engendering across the 130,000 beef farmers in the country. If we continue down the route of further concentration of power in the hands of the beef producers and supermarkets, there will not be a functional sector in the future. Successive Governments have presided over this issue. Indeed, the Fine Gael Chairman of the last agriculture committee said it was unreasonable for farmers to expect a price above the cost of production. It is an incredible statement from anybody whose job is to represent farmers. However, I have heard the current Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy McConalogue, echo those views, that it was not reasonable for farmers to expect a price above the cost of production. Any agriculture Minister with that view is likely to come to the same solution as has been achieved so far, which is a dysfunctional and broken market.

  This is not the only threat that farmers are facing. The Government has opened its arms to the Mercosur trade deal which will pave the way for cheap South American beef to be imported into the EU market. I will be speaking on climate change policy in a few hours. It is incredible that we are opting for seeing swathes of the Amazon rainforest felled so beef can be produced there and transported to Ireland to be a substitute for Irish beef, and for an Irish Government to preside over this.

  I travelled the country last year and I stood with pickets outside beef factories. I spoke to the small farmers. Some of them were threatened with injunctions by these beef barons because they were standing up for their right to try to achieve a better price. Indeed, I went to the High Court to defend these farmers. It was extraordinary to have beef barons level injunctions at farmers who are in poverty. One beef baron is Larry Goodman who earned €170 million in total last year and has assets worth €3.5 billion. He is tax resident in Luxembourg and pays an average tax of 2.5%.

  The Taoiseach must see the grave injustice that exists in this market. The response of successive Governments has been to sit on their hands. This is the second time this Bill has come before the Dáil. On the previous occasion it fell when the previous Dáil fell. When I first brought it forward, Fianna Fáil said it would support the Bill.


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