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Ceisteanna ar Reachtaíocht a Gealladh - Questions on Promised Legislation (Continued)

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 980 No. 8

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(Speaker Continuing)

[The Tánaiste: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar] I will ask the Minister to revert to the Deputy with more detail in that regard.

Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith I understand that the Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill which will soon move to Committee Stage has the aim of affording extra protection to tenants in private rental accommodation. In Inchicore today, up to 32 families are facing eviction from Emmet House and Emmet Manor, two apartment blocks that are being refurbished. These are very vulnerable and frightened families. They have been told they must leave their homes but they are not being provided with an alternative place to reside while the refurbishment takes place. They have nowhere to go. The Tánaiste will acknowledge that the current legislation does not afford sufficient protection to tenants in private rental properties. Will he ensure that the Government amends the legislation stringently and sufficiently to protect tenants? Will the Government accept amendments to the Bill that would allow extension of the Tyrrellstown amendment to cover refurbishment and force landlords to guarantee alternatives in such cases?

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The legislation is due to be progressed shortly and there will be an opportunity to debate these issues with the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Murphy, on Committee Stage of the Bill.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae Income received from carer's allowance is disregarded in medical card applications. However, the issue is that if a person applies for carer's allowance and a medical card at the same time, a decision is not made on the medical card until a decision is made on the carer's allowance even though that income is disregarded. As the Tánaiste is aware, a decision on carer's allowance takes up to five months. Therefore, a person must wait up to five months before a decision on a medical card can be made even though the income from carer's allowance is disregarded. This is causing big problems. It is a very straightforward issue. I ask the Minister of State, Deputy Daly, to, please, deal with it because it is a big problem for constituents of every Member of the House.

Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Jim Daly): Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly Although I do not doubt the Deputy's bona fides, I would be surprised if the Department makes a judgment based on-----

Deputy Eamon Scanlon: Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon That is the case.

Deputy Michael Collins: Information on Michael Collins Zoom on Michael Collins It is.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae The Minister of State can hear the echoes. It is the case.

Deputy Jim Daly: Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly I will look into the matter because it is difficult to understand how a judgment or assessment would be made based on something that might happen in the future. I would have thought applications would be assessed based on the situation here and now, rather than on something that may be granted in the future. I will look into the matter and revert to the Deputy. I thank him for highlighting it.

Deputy Pat Buckley: Information on Pat Buckley Zoom on Pat Buckley The programme for Government makes reference to the mother and baby homes commission of investigation. Are the relevant Ministers aware that demolition works were carried out on the Bessborough site in Cork this week without the knowledge of Cork City Council? A building known as the little folly has been used as a place of reflection and commemoration by survivors in recent years. I discovered this morning that an enforcement order has been put on that building. My information is that the commission was informed that repair works would be carried out on it. It may seem a minor issue, but the survivors of the mother and baby home in Bessborough are angered and anguished that developers have moved onto the site and begun knocking buildings without it being public knowledge or a geophysical radar scan having been carried out. These events are atrocious. I would love to get an answer on this issue.

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney It is difficult for me to comment without knowing the detail of what is happening. If the Deputy sends me a file on this issue, I will make sure it gets to the right person.

Deputy Pat Buckley: Information on Pat Buckley Zoom on Pat Buckley I certainly will.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae There is uproar in County Kerry about new regulations or laws being brought in by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government relating to short-term lettings. The Minister stated that it will not affect County Kerry. The local authority there has been given no direction. The Minister of State, Deputy Griffin, was asked on Kerry radio what was happening and stated that he was waiting for instructions from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae He does nothing anyway.

Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: Information on Danny Healy-Rae Zoom on Danny Healy-Rae People need clarity. They are very concerned. This could adversely affect the self-catering industry in Kerry, which is a tourist county. What is happening? What is the Department doing to people? People are very upset and anxious. There will be a meeting tonight in Listowel on this issue and another in the coming days in Killarney. All around the county, people are organising and asking what is happening. Will the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and the Tánaiste tell us what is happening and what the Government is doing on this issue?

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I might ask the Minister of State, Deputy Griffin, who knows County Kerry better than anybody, to revert to the Deputy on this issue.

Deputy Michael Healy-Rae: Information on Michael Healy-Rae Zoom on Michael Healy-Rae He knows nothing.

Deputy Eugene Murphy: Information on Eugene Murphy Zoom on Eugene Murphy I seek clarification from the Tánaiste on the issue of driving licences in the event of a Brexit scenario. I acknowledge I have raised this issue previously. There seems to be some confusion. I understand that people driving on British licences may change to Irish licences. However, some people driving a commercial vehicle or minibus are being told that they will not be covered and may have to resit a test. I am unsure of the position and am urgently seeking clarification. This matter is of concern. I am sure the Tánaiste realises that thousands of people in the State drive on British licences. I have received two different answers on this issue and do not know which to believe. I ask the Tánaiste to clarify the issue or ask one of his officials to so do.

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I ask the Deputy to send me any specific question he has regarding different categories of licences and I will ensure that I get a detailed and accurate answer for him.

Deputy Charlie McConalogue: Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue Following on from the contribution of the leader of Fianna Fáil, Deputy Micheál Martin, on Leaders' Questions, I ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Creed, for clarity regarding the plans he has in place, if any, to properly support the agriculture sector in the event of a hard Brexit. Yesterday, the British Government published the types of tariffs it will put in place in the event of a hard Brexit. With two weeks to go to Brexit, it is time for clarity from the Minister regarding the supports that will be available to the agriculture sector. As the Minister is aware, the sector is currently under significant pressure and in crisis. It is simply unacceptable that it is totally in the dark as to what the response and support from the Government and the European Commission will be if the worst comes to pass in terms of a hard Brexit in two weeks.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I call Deputy Martin Kenny on the same matter.

Deputy Martin Kenny: Information on Martin Kenny Zoom on Martin Kenny This morning, the British Government announced tariffs relating to a range of agricultural produce. Although most Members recognise that much of this is play-acting and that the British Government is not really serious about this, with it being regarded as a temporary tariff situation, if there is a crash-out at some point, as is likely in the coming three or four months if not within the next two weeks, we will have to deal with those tariffs. The only workable option I can see is for the European Union to provide a fund to assist to pay the tariffs. I refer to Irish beef in particular, a significant proportion of which is sent to the UK and which simply cannot be put into intervention or stored. There is no option other than to provide it to the market that wants it and try to cover the tariffs until alternative markets can be found. Is the Minister looking at that option?

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed I thank the Deputies for their questions. As they will be aware, some time ago my Department quantified that the additional cost to our exports to the UK if it decided to apply the full WTO tariff would be in the region of €1.7 billion. The UK Government this morning proposed a unique and bespoke approach to tariffs, as it is entitled to do in the context of its trade with the European Union. We are carrying out a detailed analysis of those proposals. For example, the equivalent of the full WTO tariff is proposed for some commodities, whereas for other commodities it is half or less than half the full WTO tariff. A broad selection of options has been laid out by the UK. As the Deputies are aware, the Government has been engaged with the Commission. In fact, even today a senior team from my Department is in negotiations with the Commission on all of these issues and the interventions that may be necessary. However, we can only respond when an action is implemented. The British Government has put forward a proposal regarding what would happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit. However, as the Deputies are aware, there will be a vote this evening in the House of Commons which could take a no-deal Brexit off the agenda. I assure the Deputies, farmers and the agrifood industry generally that there is a commitment to intervene at Commission or Exchequer level to provide the supports that may be necessary in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

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