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 Header Item Leaders' Questions (Continued)
 Header Item Ceisteanna - Questions (Resumed)
 Header Item European Council Meetings

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 835 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny] I disagree with the Deputy for stating that those who provide a service in his county are operating a Third World service.

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy No; the Government is forcing them to operate like that.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny As Deputy Healy is well aware, they work long hours at the front line, and he should recognise that. The Government seeks to change the structure from one of a two-tier system that is inequitable, that is too costly-----

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy The number of trolleys has quadrupled.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The Deputy is shouting people down.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----that is inefficient, that discriminates against people who do not have money in their back pockets and that denies access to-----

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Go up to Beaumont hospital.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----medical attention for people who need it and who do not have the financial facility to buy private health insurance. The Government seeks to move to a single-tier insurance where everyone can have the same level of treatment in respect of the treatment they need. That is the concept of universal health insurance and obviously part of that concerns the structure of primary care centres and the continued provision of sufficient allocations for front-line services to be delivered to people.

I will take the points raised by the Deputy and will see that the Minister for Health responds to the Deputy. However, it is not a case of going around the country apologising outside every hospital one sees. It is a case of serious changes being made, with hospital groups in different localities around the country with a better range of expertise and consultancy available to them and therefore providing a better service to everyone in each of those localities. That is the intention and, as the Deputy is well aware, it is not always easy to do it overnight.

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy The policies of the Government and the cuts it has introduced in the health services have quadrupled the number of trolleys and chairs in the emergency department at South Tipperary General Hospital, from 750 in the year the Taoiseach came into office to 3,100 at the end of 2013.

Deputy Finian McGrath: Information on Finian McGrath Zoom on Finian McGrath Hear, hear.

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy I invite the Taoiseach to visit South Tipperary General Hospital to see that absolutely excellent hospital and its excellent staff who are at their wits' end because of the cuts the Government has introduced. If only from the point of view of human decency, the Taoiseach should take action to solve this problem. There is no excuse not to deal with this problem, because the money is available. If one considers appendix 1 of the Health Service Executive's national service plan, one will note that a sum of €30 million has been set aside to "[t]arget additional capacity and capability in areas within acute services which continue to experience increased service demand, particularly in the areas of access across [emergency departments]". Consequently, the money is available.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett A question please.

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy It is the Taoiseach's duty to make sure people have a decent health service of quality. I again ask him to visit the aforementioned hospital and, by instructing the Health Service Executive, to ensure the putting in place of additional beds at Our Lady's Hospital, Cashel, and South Tipperary General Hospital, as well as additional consultant, nursing, medical and support staff in the emergency department, because the policies of the Taoiseach and his Government have created a crisis within that department.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Deputy first mentioned that South Tipperary General Hospital was an excellent hospital.

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy It absolutely is.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny He mentioned that it had excellent staff, but repeated thrice in his earlier contribution-----

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy They are being blackguarded by the Taoiseach and the Government.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Sorry, hold on a second.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----that it was a Third World facility.

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy They are being blackguarded by the Taoiseach and the Government.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny He stated it was a Third World facility-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Sorry, Deputy; do you mind?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----but now the Deputy tells me it has excellent staff and is an excellent hospital, on which I agree with the Deputy. These are not Third World facilities. I remind Deputy Healy that despite a reduction of more than €3 billion since 2008-----

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy No privacy and totally inadequate toilet facilities.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Please.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin The Deputy will not listen to anyone.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----€3.2 million has been provided to deal with particular elements of patient safety in respect of cochlear implants, as well as almost €2 million for patient-centred improvements in maternity care, an additional €8.3 million for the cancer care services-----

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy That is not what I asked. The Taoiseach can read his notes forever but he should come to see the situation for himself.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny -----€2.9 million for organ donation and €35 million extra for 60,000 medical cards.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Barrett Zoom on Seán Barrett Sorry, Deputy; do you mind?

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy A Cheann Comhairle, will he answer the question?

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny The Deputy comes into this Chamber and tells the people of south Tipperary that they live in Third World facilities.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae That is not what he said.

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny He then tells me in his supplementary question that they have excellent facilities and excellent staff. Deputy Healy should get his facts right before he comes in to make the next case.

Deputy Seamus Healy: Information on Seamus Healy Zoom on Seamus Healy The Taoiseach is creating those conditions and the Government has no excuse because it has the money.

Ceisteanna - Questions (Resumed)

European Council Meetings

 1. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the discussions he had at the European Council meeting on 19 December 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [55561/13]

 2. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the discussions he had at the European Council meeting on 19 December 2013 on European defence capability and common security and defence policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55562/13]

 3. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the discussions he had at the European Council meeting on 19 December 2013 on economic and monetary union and economic and social policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [55563/13]

 4. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he met German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the European Council meeting on 19 December 2013; and if he discussed with her economic and monetary union, economic and social policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55564/13]

 5. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the discussions he had German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the European Council meeting on 19 December 2013 regarding bank recapitalisation, the ESM and the timetable for any progress on this matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55565/13]

 6. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the discussions he had at the European Council meeting on 19 December 2013 on enlargement, migration and energy policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55566/13]

 7. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he had discussions with the British Prime Minister at the European Council meeting on 19 December 2013 regarding the issue of legacy matters and the way these might be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55570/13]

 8. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if the issue of US National Security Agency bugging of EU Governments was discussed at the 19 December 2013 meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55571/13]

 9. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if the disaster in the Philippines was raised during the European Council meeting of 19 December 2013; the aid Europe is providing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [55572/13]

 10. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he had any bilaterals at the December European Council meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [2178/14]

 11. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if the Ukraine situation was discussed at the European Council meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [2179/14]

 12. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he has had discussions with President Barroso recently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2180/14]

 13. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the position regarding the European Council statement following the June 2012 meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [2185/14]

 14. Deputy Simon Harris Information on Simon Harris Zoom on Simon Harris asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if discussions have taken place at a European Council level on addressing the problem of youth unemployment across Europe; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2193/14]

 15. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if youth unemployment was discussed at the December Council meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2199/14]

 16. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he will report on the December European summit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2215/14]

 17. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he will report on his meetings with European Council leaders prior to Christmas. [2228/14]

 18. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he discussed the exit of the Irish State from the EU-IMF bailout programme with European Council leaders during the meeting of the European Council on 19-20 December. [2229/14]

 19. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he discussed the issue of the retrospective recapitalising of Irish banks with his European partners in the European Council meeting on 19 and 20 December.  [2230/14]

 20. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he discussed the impact of the European Union’s commitment to strengthening its common security and defence policy on Irish neutrality with his European partners during the European Council meeting of 19 and 20 December. [2231/14]

 21. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he has met or had discussions with President Hollande recently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2310/14]

 22. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he has had discussions or met with the Prime Minister of Latvia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2311/14]

 23. Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the discussions that have taken place at European Council meetings since he became Taoiseach; the progress made towards the development of a common European defence policy; the co-operation agreed at these meetings on military matters; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4826/14]

 24. Deputy Joe Higgins Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he will report on the discussions he held during the European Council in December. [7492/14]

 25. Deputy Joe Higgins Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he will report on meetings he had with European Council leaders in December. [7493/14]

 26. Deputy Joe Higgins Information on Joe Higgins Zoom on Joe Higgins asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he discussed the issue of the exit of the State from the troika with European Council leaders in the European Council meeting on 19 and 20 December; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [7494/14]

 27. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny his plans to meet the European Commission President José Manuel Barroso.  [8952/14]

 28. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he discussed the issues of growth and employment at the European Council meeting in December 2013; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9169/14]

 29. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he will report on his meeting with EU leaders in Brussels on the Russia-Ukraine crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12754/14]

 30. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny the bi-laterals he had while attending the EU summit on the crisis in Ukraine; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [12755/14]

 31. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he met the German Chancellor at the EU summit on the Russia-Ukraine crisis in Brussels; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [12756/14]

 32. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he will report on his meeting with the German Chancellor in Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12764/14]

 33. Deputy Gerry Adams Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he raised with the Spanish Prime Minister the recent positive development in the Basque country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12765/14]

 34. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if he met with Chancellor Angela Merkel; the issues they discussed; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [12782/14]

 35. Deputy Micheál Martin Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin asked the Taoiseach Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny if the European Council agreement of June 2012 was discussed with Chancellor Merkel on 7 March when they met; if there was a response; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [12785/14]

The Taoiseach: Information on Enda Kenny Zoom on Enda Kenny I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 35, inclusive, together.

I participated in the European Council on 19 and 20 December last. As Members will be aware, however, since then I have also participated in an extraordinary meeting of Heads of State and Government on Ukraine on 6 March, as well as the spring European Council on 20 and 21 March, where the deeply disturbing situation in Ukraine was again the dominant issue. I will start with our most recent meeting before I go back to the December Council. The extraordinary meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels on 6 March condemned the unprovoked violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity and called on the Russian Federation to withdraw immediately its armed forces. We agreed on a three-phase roadmap of measures that would be taken against the Russian Federation, depending on its actions. The deteriorating situation and the Russian annexation of Crimea was, of course, a central focus at the spring European Council last week. In the absence of any steps towards de-escalation by Russia, the European Council took additional measures against Moscow. We decided to cancel the next EU-Russia summit and agreed to expand to 33 the number of listed individuals to be subject to a visa ban and asset freezes. In addition the European Commission was asked to evaluate the legal consequences of the annexation and to prepare possible targeted measures. The question of the nature and scope of measures is always a complex and difficult issue and, as I stated in Brussels, inevitably will have negative economic consequences for the EU, including Ireland, as well as for Russia. It is only right, therefore, that we prepare such decisions carefully. The political elements of the EU's association agreement with Ukraine were also signed at last week's meeting. We welcomed, in addition, the Ukrainian Government's commitment to ensuring that governmental structures are inclusive and reflect regional diversity and to ensure full protection of the rights of persons belonging to national minorities.

Of course, the agenda for last week's meeting was wider than Ukraine alone. It had an economic focus and covered the European semester, Europe 2020, industrial competitiveness, banking union, taxation, climate change and energy and external relations.

Banking union remains a clear priority for the Government. My colleagues and I were particularly pleased last week to welcome the agreement reached with the European Parliament on the single resolution mechanism, which will be a cornerstone of that banking union. We now must see the formal adoption of the mechanism before the European Parliament rises for elections. The European Council held useful discussions on the European semester, the planned review of the Europe 2020 strategy and industrial competitiveness. We agreed on the importance of ensuring the right overall framework to promote a strong and competitive industrial base to drive economic growth and jobs.

Leaders also held a first policy debate on the framework for climate and energy to 2030. We agreed on the urgent need to further analyse the implications for member states of proposals for emissions reductions and renewable energy. I made clear that for Ireland, account must be taken of the particular role of agriculture, and the President of the Council was reassuring on this aspect. The European Council will take stock of progress on these issues at its June meeting with a view to taking a final decision by October 2014.

The Council also tackled the issue of EU energy security, which has an added urgency in view of the Ukraine crisis. The Commission has been asked by June 2014 to prepare a detailed analysis of this as well as a comprehensive plan to reduce the EU's energy dependence. I will report to the House on the European Council tomorrow and I look forward to addressing the situation in Ukraine, as well as some other agenda items, in more detail.

I will return for a moment to the December European Council, the subject of a question here, which had a lengthy agenda. It covered Common Security and Defence Policy, CSDP, economic and social policy, economic and monetary union, migration, enlargement and energy. For the first time since the entry into force of the Lisbon treaty, the European Council held a thematic debate on defence. Extensive conclusions were reached, identifying priority actions for stronger co-operation. I reported in detail to the House on January 21 on the outcome of this debate, as well as the broader discussions among leaders. I do not propose to repeat this in detail here. The December European Council reviewed the economic situation and progress on banking union, as well as in implementing the compact for growth, jobs and competitiveness.


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