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 Header Item Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions (Continued)
 Header Item Estimates for Public Services 2020: Message from Select Committee
 Header Item Ceisteanna ar Reachtaíocht a Gealladh - Questions on Promised Legislation

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1001 No. 1
Unrevised

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Catherine Connolly: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly] The court did not take issue with the Government's policy and what was behind it, but it did take issue with the consultation process. This is a golden opportunity to do it right because when the Government brought in that policy it was a blunt instrument that affected a certain number of trawlers over 80 m which fish sustainably. Those fishermen were caught in that overall ban, including one earning a livelihood on the Aran Islands and others in the south west and so on. Unfortunately, those trawlers were caught. The real issue was the non-sustainable fishing of sprat, on which the ecosystem is dependent. The bigger boats, by and large, take in the sprat in an unsustainable way for fish meal, while it is caught for human consumption by the smaller fishermen. The consultation process was faulty. There were 900 submissions, the vast majority of them begging the Government to bring in a sustainable policy. This is a chance to go back and look at the small number of trawlers that were unfortunately caught by the blunt instrument, separate from the industrial trawlers or those carrying out fishing on an industrial basis.

The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin There are clearly a number of issues that must be considered by the Department following the judgment. The Department clearly has to assess the implications for other trawlers and fishermen moving forward.

Deputy Catherine Connolly: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly Has there been an appeal?

The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin As I said, I will engage with the Minister and will come back to the Deputy on the policy position the Department will adopt in response to the court decision and how it intends to proceed into the future.

Estimates for Public Services 2020: Message from Select Committee

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl The Select Committee on Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands has completed its consideration of the following Supplementary Estimate for public services for the year ending 31 December 2020: Vote 42 - Rural and Community Development.

Ceisteanna ar Reachtaíocht a Gealladh - Questions on Promised Legislation

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald I raise the issue of Dublin Zoo. Zoos across the island are under pressure but Dublin Zoo is in big trouble and we woke this morning to the news that it might face closure. I need not tell the Taoiseach that a closure would be devastating for local employment and the economy, as well as for tourism. Dublin Zoo is one of our key tourist attractions and has occupied a special place for children and families right across the island for generations. The director of the zoo, Dr. Christoph Schwitzer, was quoted today as saying that one cannot switch off a zoo when one goes home. He also remarked that one cannot furlough an elephant, a zebra or a giraffe. There is a need for funding. I have been in touch with the Minister of State, Deputy Malcolm Noonan, about this issue over the last few months. He wishes to be helpful but the fund of €500,000 for zoos is just not enough. I am sure the Taoiseach, like me, does not want Dublin Zoo or any of the other zoos to face closure. I appeal to him to intervene and to ensure the necessary supports are made available. Generally, the zoo is a not-for-profit organisation and does not rely on public moneys but it needs help now.

The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Government does not want Dublin Zoo to close and we will do everything we possibly can to ensure it stays open. I will be working with the Minister to make sure that happens. This issue came up the last time I was in government, when Bertie Ahern was Taoiseach. To give him his due, he engineered a significant investment for Dublin Zoo which set it in train to become the very modern facility it became. He was a great advocate for the zoo. I was listening this morning and it has been some time since capital funding has been allocated to the zoo by the Government. Given the extraordinary circumstances of a global pandemic, which is a once in 100 years event, the Government has to intervene and work with Dublin Zoo to make sure it is available for generations to come. I intend to act on that.

Deputy Alan Kelly: Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly Regarding judicial appointments, I have no interest in the merits or demerits of any candidate. I have no intention of going into that but I have a responsibility to the process and to ensuring the Executive is doing its job. The Government is running scared as regards the Minister for Justice coming in to answer questions. That is quite clear. The Taoiseach said there was no link between this and the appointment of the Attorney General. I accept what he is saying but if that is the case, the alternative is that the Minister, Deputy McEntee, did a solo run. The Taoiseach made a very interesting point. He said the precedent is that the Taoiseach appoints the Attorney General of his or her choice but the precedent also is, and always has been, that the Minister for Justice follows the Cabinet handbook and consults the Taoiseach and Tánaiste regarding such appointments. That did not happen here. I want to ask the Taoiseach a question based on what the Minister for Justice said at a committee meeting yesterday, because he seems to contradict what she said. On what date was he, as Taoiseach, informed of the proposal to appoint Mr. Justice Woulfe to this position?

The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Cabinet handbook was followed. The Minister for Justice of any government brings one name to the Government for a judicial appointment. We would have known on a certain date prior to the date on which the judge was appointed-----

Deputy Alan Kelly: Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly What date?

The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin -----that the Minister intended to bring the name of Mr. Séamus Woulfe to the Cabinet. As I said before and have said publicly, as a matter of courtesy the then Taoiseach, Deputy Leo Varadkar, informed Deputy Eamon Ryan and I that Mr. Justice Woulfe had come through the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board. That is it. Before the Cabinet meeting-----

Deputy Alan Kelly: Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly Answer the question.

The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I have answered it. The Cabinet handbook-----

Deputy Alan Kelly: Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly Will the Taoiseach answer the question?

The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I certainly have answered the question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I thank the Deputy.

Deputy Alan Kelly: Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly On a point of order, the Taoiseach has refused to answer the question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl We cannot have a debate on this. The Deputy asked a question and the Taoiseach has given an answer.

Deputy Alan Kelly: Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly He will not give the date.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I call Deputy Cian O'Callaghan.

Deputy Cian O'Callaghan: Information on Cian O'Callaghan Zoom on Cian O'Callaghan I raise the issue of affordable housing for purchase and rent. When will legislation on affordable housing be published? We were promised that it would be published by the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage this autumn. Figures published by the Department show that the direct building of housing by local authorities can come in at 50% of the cost of acquiring them from private developers. Given that fact, and the decision by Dublin city councillors this week not to sell the lands on the Oscar Traynor Road to a private developer, will the Government engage with Dublin City Council to bring forward affordable housing on the Oscar Traynor lands for purchase and rent, using finance from the European Investment Bank and the serviced sites fund?

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton Is the Taoiseach aware that the National Economic and Social Council reported this week that the Land Development Agency, LDA, can be a game changer in allowing the State to acquire and develop a mixed range of housing following a master plan? Does he agree with me regarding the decision of Dublin City Council to reject just such a development following a master plan? It would have provided 30% social housing, 25% cost rental housing, 20% affordable housing and 25% private housing, which is the sort of the development we want. Is it not a serious threat to that vision to have local authorities, driven by Sinn Féin-controlled authorities, rejecting integrated housing of this type? Furthermore, this represents a threat to the LDA because there is a belief that public land should be solely for one type of housing.

Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn: Information on Pádraig Mac Lochlainn Zoom on Pádraig Mac Lochlainn We would-----

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton If the LDA is to transform the land market, it must provide for all types of housing.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald Public housing.

Deputy Louise O'Reilly: Information on Louise O'Reilly Zoom on Louise O'Reilly Do not be afraid to say it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Deputies, please.

The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The legislation on affordable housing is making progress. I assure Deputy Cian O'Callaghan that there is much work under way in that regard. On the precise timeline, I hope to be in a position to publish that Bill towards the end of the year. Obviously, there are issues with progressing but it is going in the right direction. We had a meeting of the Cabinet subcommittee on housing this week and very good progress was reported on that matter. Likewise, I assure Deputy Bruton that I have insisted on taking a keen interest in the Bill on the LDA in order to get it through. It has been around for a while and there are many complexities surrounding it. The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage is working very proactively on it with the Attorney General.


Last Updated: 07/04/2021 16:16:47 First Page Previous Page Page of 77 Next Page Last Page