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 Header Item Pyrite Remediation Programme Issues (Continued)
 Header Item Message from Select Committee
 Header Item Topical Issue Matters
 Header Item Topical Issue Debate
 Header Item Domestic Violence Incidence

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 806 No. 2

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Deputy Mick Wallace: Information on Mick Wallace Zoom on Mick Wallace If the members of the Pyremco group which consists of representatives of HomeBond, the Construction Industry Federation and Roadstone choose their friends to do the work, will the Pyrite Remediation Board have an overruling say in the matter or will it let them off with it?

Deputy Dessie Ellis: Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis I am not sure how matters are generally arranged in the sequencing of questions, but I had assumed I would have a chance to speak before colleagues were allowed to ask supplementary questions.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt The Deputy is getting his chance now.

Deputy Dessie Ellis: Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis Thank you, Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

In regard to HomeBond, that company refused even to meet the committee or engage in any way in its deliberations, which was disappointing. There was a certain arrogance in its position. I have heard a figure of €25 million in regard to it. Perhaps the Minister might indicate whether that is correct.

The major issues with the proposed scheme are how it will be funded and how quickly it can deliver results. I recall that either the Minister or one of his spokespersons indicated some time ago that legislation to introduce the proposed levy would be brought to the Dáil before the summer recess. There is no sign of that important Bill being brought forward before the end of July. In the meantime, people's homes continue to deteriorate. Of the homes affected, at least 800 are in very serious condition and require urgent remediation. The situation should not be allowed to drag on any longer. I understand the proposal is to levy the insurance companies and quarry owners, but there have been suggestions the latter intend to initiate a court challenge. Will the Minister comment on this? Representatives of the industry have made representations to Members, arguing that these additional costs would be unjust. I am not sure whether that matter can be dealt with in the legislation.

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Any work carried out under the scheme will be certified by the Pyrite Remediation Board to ensure it meets the highest possible standards. Deputy Mick Wallace can be assured that the days of jobs for the boys are over. That type of carry-on is what caused the problems in this country in construction, including the shoddy workmanship we have seen. I am depending on Mr. O'Connor and his board to ensure the work is done properly. Contracts will not be awarded on the basis that certain people have undertaken work in the past. Mr. O'Connor will have an important role in overseeing the whole process. He and his board should be allowed to deal with these matters. I have great confidence that they will ensure an effective policy of oversight in everything that is done.

Applications will be sought in July from persons who wish to participate in the scheme. The financial institutions are finalising the manner in which they can transfer their loan to the special purpose vehicle for the purpose of drawing down the moneys allocated. The final draft of the Bill will go to the Government very shortly and I intend to have it enacted before the summer recess. The pyrite levy and the insurance levy will be part of the repayment capacity of the loan in due course. I expect we will see some activity over the summer months in getting the scheme up and running.

Deputy Dessie Ellis: Information on Dessie Ellis Zoom on Dessie Ellis Will the banks be contributing an upfront sum, as the Minister initially indicated?

Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan Yes.

  Written Answers follow Adjournment.

Message from Select Committee

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt The Select sub-Committee on Public Expenditure and Reform has completed its consideration of the Construction Contracts Bill 2010 and has made amendments thereto.

Topical Issue Matters

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Michael Kitt Zoom on Michael Kitt I wish to advise the House of the following matters in respect of which notice has been given under Standing Order 27A and the name of the Member in each case: (1) Deputy Derek Keating - dog control laws; (2) Deputy Paschal Donohoe - the effects on part-time workers of the inclusion of Sunday as a working day for persons on social protection payments; (3) Deputies Mary Mitchell O'Connor and Mary Lou McDonald - domestic violence, with specific reference to the latest Women's Aid report; (4) Deputy Jim Daly - the need to introduce new schemes in respect of employment assistance; (5) Deputy Joan Collins - the need for a temporary protection mechanism to be invoked by the European Commission to deal with the problem of refugees from Syria; (6) Deputy Michael McNamara - using the Finance Act as a blueprint for the regeneration of small towns and villages; (7) Deputy Denis Naughten - the need to provide additional staffing resources for the acute psychiatric unit at Roscommon County Hospital; (8) Deputy Dan Neville - the number of deaths by suicide in 2012; (9) Deputy Catherine Murphy - ambulance services in the Naas area of County Kildare; (10) Deputy Brendan Smith - the need to progress to construction stage the proposed building project at St Kilian's national school, Mullagh, County Cavan; (11) Deputy Michael P. Kitt - the reduction in community project funds and Leader funding in County Galway; (12) Deputy Noel Harrington - the impact on energy security of the proposed sale of the oil storage terminal on Whitty Island, Bantry Bay, and the oil refinery at Whitegate, County Cork; (13) Deputy Thomas P. Broughan - the need to provide additional resources for An Garda Síochána and review legislation on the sale of alcohol in seaside resorts, including Portmarnock and Howth, County Dublin; (14) Deputy Willie Penrose - proposals for the implementation of new rules and provisions relating to the distribution of the assets of a pension scheme on its wind-up; (15) Deputy Simon Harris - the need to review DART fares to Greystones; (16) Deputy Ciara Conway - child protection and child welfare reporting practices at RTE; (17) Deputy Thomas Pringle - the need to keep open St. Agnes special needs preschool in Donegal town; (18) Deputy Mary Lou McDonald - the need to put in place additional child protection and domestic violence supports and services following the figures from the Women’s Aid helpline; (19) Deputy Mattie McGrath - the proposed new rent allowance limits and the risk of homelessness; (20) Deputy Robert Troy - the need to put in place proper strategies for a quality childminding sector; (21) Deputy Michael Moynihan - the implications for the privacy rights of Irish citizens of the gathering of digital information by the United States National Security Agency; (22) Deputy Charlie McConalogue - the recently published Educational Research Centre study, National Schools - International Contexts; (23) Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan - mental health services within County Roscommon; (24) Deputy Joe Higgins - the response of the Turkish authorities to protests in Istanbul; (25) Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett - fatal foetal abnormalities and the Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill; (26) Deputy Mick Wallace - the recent revelations regarding American surveillance of private citizens and the possible impact on Irish citizens; (27) Deputy Clare Daly - the operation of the United States surveillance system, Prism; and (28) Deputy Billy Kelleher - future plans for the mobility allowance and the motorised transport grant schemes.

  The matters raised by Deputies Mary Mitchell O'Connor and Mary Lou McDonald; Willie Penrose; Charlie McConalogue; and Michael P. Kitt have been selected for discussion.

Topical Issue Debate

Domestic Violence Incidence

Deputy Mary Mitchell O'Connor: Information on Mary Mitchell O'Connor Zoom on Mary Mitchell O'Connor I recently visited the family courts in Dolphin House where I witnessed at first hand the archaic buildings, lack of basic facilities and long queue of people seeking to access the courts. Women who are already in extremely stressful situations are being forced to make sensitive decisions about their lives and those of their children in corners, hallways and empty doorways because there are only three consultation rooms serving the three courts. Victims of domestic violence are often left in what can only be described as holding pens, with the perpetrator eyeballing them in a very confined space. That is a very intimidating experience. Compare this to the state-of-the-art facilities available at the Central Criminal Court where suspects are treated royally, with 22 courtrooms, 27 lifts and 450 rooms. Will the Minister undertake to find a more suitable building for the family courts? Surely there is something appropriate in the National Asset Management Agency's portfolio.

It can take eight to ten weeks to obtain a barring order after a protection order has been issued to the victims of domestic violence. Victims, the vast majority of whom are women, often have no place to go other than home and are, therefore, obliged to continue residing with their abuser during this time. That is potentially exceptionally dangerous for the women concerned and their children. Domestic violence is often not taken seriously in this country, being passed off as something that happens within a relationship. It is about power and control and often overlaps with child abuse. In many instances, even if a child does not see his or her mother being shouted at, threatened, kicked, beaten or raped, he or she will see physical evidence in the form of bruising, black eyes, damaged windows and broken furniture. Make no mistake, children in this situation are being emotionally abused. The statistics released today by Women's Aid indicate that elderly women make up a significant group among those experiencing domestic violence, often for many years and decades.

The Minister has done tremendous work in the past in the area of family law. Will he consider the points I have raised today? Women and children deserve better.

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