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Leaders' Questions (Resumed) (Continued)

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 917 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney] The value of these relationships in terms of the money given by the Government is in the hundreds of millions. The history has been that, to begin with, they were rather informal arrangements, but we have now moved to a point where they are far more formalised and, as the Deputy said, quite a number of changes in governance have been made. The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform spoke earlier this morning about the payments made to the CEOs of section 39 bodies and the need to examine them to see if they were in line with the FEMPI legislation. Regarding the agencies about which the Deputy has spoken, the Minister is following up as we speak.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin This matter has been teed up for some time, but the Tánaiste has not been able to answer my direct questions. Am I to understand neither she nor the Minister for Health can confirm that all of the agencies the Government funds are adhering to the Department of Health pay scales or that everybody employed in the agencies is being paid in accordance with the pay norms set down by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform? Second, will she confirm that overpayments already formally notified to the Department of Health have ceased?

The Tánaiste: Information on Frances Fitzgerald Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald On the Deputy's first question about compliance, I am informed that the annual compliance statements have been signed by the agencies. The Department is providing another layer to examine, with external consultants, the area once again. Further work is being done to review the position again. As I said to the Deputy about what he described as overpayments, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has spoken about this issue today and said his Department is examining it right now. I understood from what he said earlier today that that was the position. He is following up the matter. It raises very serious concerns about the compliance of certain organisations with the standards laid down by the Government regarding payments to people who are delivering services paid for by the taxpayer.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry The Government Whip went on radio on Saturday and sang a song. It was a fitting way to round off what had been a most musical week in Dáil Éireann. Did not half of the Cabinet spend the week accusing the poor Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Shane Ross, of not showing sufficient "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" for the views of the Attorney General? The stage trapdoor opened and as Joe O'Toole went hurtling down, he could still be heard singing, "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down."

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin Hilarious.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry As for the Taoiseach, like Sinatra, he did it his way and now the end is near and, if Deputy Brendan Griffin has his way, he soon will face the final curtain.

  My question to the Tánaiste today concerns water charges. I start with a confession-----


Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry Now, now.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl May we have a little order, please?

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry I have to confess that, as one of the founder members of the national boycott campaign, I never expected to see a 73% non-payment rate. The anti-poll tax campaign which, by the way, ended the political career of the Iron Lady, Maggie Thatcher, never achieved a 73% non-payment rate or anything like it. If one was to find a fitting historical comparison, one might need to flick through the pages of maritime history. On 14-15 April 1912 the unsinkable Titanic crashed into an iceberg in the icy waters of the north Atlantic, just as the Government's good ship "Water Charges" has crashed into the iceberg of mass non-payment. The history books record what happened when Titanic reached tipping point two hours and 40 minutes later. Her rate of sinking increased suddenly as her forward deck tipped under the water and the sea poured in through open hatches and grates.

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