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 Header Item Leader Programmes (Continued)
 Header Item Health Service Executive (Governance) Bill 2012: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 806 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Phil Hogan: Information on Phil Hogan Zoom on Phil Hogan] That amounts to 30% of all moneys available. It is an enormous amount of money in administrative funding and I would love to see some of it diverted to ensure local development company projects in Galway could be considered. Such a heavy administrative burden is not sustainable when CAP funding is being reduced, the rural development aspect will be reduced and we are trying to give as much money as possible from the Exchequer to local development companies. As a result of this administrative burden, projects and communities are being deprived of necessary funding.

Approximately 2,000 people are employed in the various programmes in the community sector. A total of 250 people are employed under the rural development programme. It is only the administrative part that is affected by this alignment. There will be no change in employment for local community development projects, Tús and rural social schemes. What is at issue is how we can maximise the opportunity for the rural development programme under the CAP. The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine will have a role to play in that regard by the end of the month.

I understand and accept the frustration of local development companies at the reduction in the rural development programme allocation, as the overall size of the programme has reduced by approximately 13%. As a result of this and in the manner I have outlined, I did my best to ensure the Galway Leader companies and other companies such as Comhairle Ceantar na nOileán and FORUM Connemara would be underpinned. If the Galway Leader companies had heeded my request in January 2012 when the scheme was opened up on a first come, first served basis, like so many other companies, they could have gained access to more funding, but they chose not to do so. Therefore, I have rewarded the companies that did and have had to cut back for companies that did not subscribe to the letter sent in January 2012.

We have received approval from the European Union for the alignment of community development and local government to streamline our structures and maximise the opportunities for projects. We have provided that opportunity in the context of a working committee in place to implement that decision. At the end of August I will review the available funding again. I am monitoring on a weekly basis the funds coming in and how we can secure the maximum drawdown. I have an interesting figure for the Deputy. Of the moneys committed to date since 2009, only 43% has been drawn down by the Leader development companies and project promoters. There are only six months left between now and end of the year; therefore, I have to question what people have been doing in the past four years in committing and drawing down funds to ensure the sum of €370 million is actually spent. The last thing we want to do is to allow money to remain in the fund to be handed back to the European Commission. That is not our objective. In taking this decisive course of action we are maximising the opportunity to spend. If money is not drawn down, the Galway rural development company and other Leader companies will have an opportunity at the end of August to have it reallocated. The drawdown has been disappointing. I ask the companies involved to work more constructively with the Department to ensure the full amount will be committed by the end of the year and that the moneys can be drawn down as quickly as possible thereafter.

Health Service Executive (Governance) Bill 2012: Report Stage (Resumed) and Final Stage

  Debate resumed on amendment No. 2

In page 6, line 26, after "Act" to insert the following:
", one of whom shall be a Director of Mental Health".

-(Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin).

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin The focus of this amendment is the designation of the role of director of mental health. I know an appointment has taken place since the amendments were tabled and wish the appointee good luck in his new role. However, the core issue is one that I and others, particularly those concerned with mental health reform, share and wish the Minister to consider at this time.

  There is a difference of opinion. The note the Minister of State read prior to the recess suggests my arguments do not stand up in respect of the requirement of the Bill that appointees to positions at directorate level be employees of the HSE at a specific or comparable grade within the HSE. The note states that to be eligible, one must be an HSE employee. At least we agree on that point. However, it goes on to state the competition to fill the new posts was open to HSE employees and other public service employees. It might have been, but the use of the word "was" is particularly relevant because we are now talking about a Bill that will apply to the situation that will obtain in the future. Presumably, it did not apply to the particular appointment or appointments made heretofore.

  I have linked amendment No. 4 with amendment No. 2, even though, regrettably, they have not been grouped in the groupings presented. Under Part 3A, inserted by section 7, section 16A(3) states:

A person may not be appointed as an appointed director unless he or she is a person who is an employee of the Executive holding the grade of national director or other grade in the Executive which is not less senior than the grade of national director.

It is very clear from that language used that the intention of the Bill is that those who will be considered for such positions must be within the service of the HSE and holders of a post with a particular level of responsibility, that is, national director or other grade that is not less senior than the grade of national director. My argument has been that we should not reserve the opportunity, particularly in the case of the director of mental health, to such a restricted cohort. It is not to say the competency would not be found within their number, but we should leave it open to ensure the widest possible access and competition to ensure the very best person is considered for appointment to fill this post. I make no apology for making a particular case for the area of mental health. The Minister will know from his years here, including his time on these benches, that the mental health service has been the poor relation within the overall configuration of the health care sector. It is critically important that the individual who will take up the position not only has the competency but also a particular feel for the role and the importance of bringing mental health issues to centre stage in the consideration of all health care matters. This is no reflection on Mr. Mulvany who, no doubt, will demonstrate these skills.

  I again appeal to the Minister to accept amendment No. 2 and await his response.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher I support Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin's amendment. This issue was raised on a few occasions on Second and Committee Stages. I referred to it when representatives of the HSE recently appeared before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health and Children. I am not casting aspersions on those who have been appointed. We wish them well in the very onerous and challenging tasks that lie ahead of them.

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