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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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  1 o’clock

Deputy Michael Moynihan: Information on Michael Moynihan Zoom on Michael Moynihan This morning in the AV room, Dementia Ireland gave an in-depth presentation and provided very thoughtful insight into living with dementia. This issue is being dealt with right across the country. Dementia Ireland stated there are but eight dementia advisers in the country who liaise with dementia sufferers and their families. It stated the service is completely under-resourced. What intention has the Government to consider the real issues facing people with dementia? A considerable number of individuals have dementia. Dementia advisers comprise an important part of allowing them to live lives that are as normal as possible. Has the Government any intention to appoint additional dementia advisers to help to address these issues?

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney There is a clear national dementia strategy and the Government is seeking to implement it. This has involved increased resources. With regard to the specific questions asked by the Deputy, I would like to obtain more accurate answers. If he writes to me with the questions or directly to the Minister concerned, he will get a more accurate answer than I can give him now.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy The previous Government established Irish Water. Since its establishment, the quality of the service has diminished in certain locations. In Athlone, there has been a considerable increase in the frequency of water outages in the past 12 months, quite often without any notification and sometimes with inadequate notification. Are there protocols to ensure adequate notification when scheduled works are to take place and contingency arrangements to assist businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector, when there is an emergency outage? Could the Tánaiste revert to me at a later stage on when the planned upgrade of water infrastructure in Athlone will be carried out? Ultimately, this will be the best solution to prevent water outages.

Deputy Eamon Scanlon: Information on Eamon Scanlon Zoom on Eamon Scanlon On the same issue, in the south Sligo area there is cryptosporidium in the water. A boil-water notice has been in force for practically 18 months. This is very difficult for businesses and families. Irish Water has applied for planning permission. The application is in the planning process but unfortunately it has to be sanctioned under IROPI legislation. I do not believe this legislation has been enforced in this country before but the application is complete and has been sent to the office of the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Madigan. Will the Tánaiste speak to her to have this matter resolved so the necessary works on the water supply may be carried out immediately?

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney Irish Water has been asked to upgrade the water network across the country and has been doing so in a very efficient way. It has been investing considerable funds in making our supply safer and to understand what exactly is in it. There used to be 35 local authorities doing their own thing and that resulted in a significant and very dangerous deterioration in water infrastructure across the country. Irish Water has exposed a lot of that ugliness and danger but, in doing so, it has created a lot of inconvenience because once a problem is exposed, it has to be fixed. Irish Water is setting about doing that.

From my experience, while there are some exceptions, Irish Water has been pretty good about notifying not only local businesses but also local public representatives.

If there are issues in Athlone, as there clearly are, I will try to obtain specific answers. With regard to Sligo, I was there recently and this issue was raised with me directly. Reference was made to the length of time for which boil-water notices have been in force and the number of people affected. To be fair, planning delays are as frustrating to Irish Water as to those involved in any other project being developed.

Deputy Michael Collins: Information on Michael Collins Zoom on Michael Collins On page 47 of the programme for Government, under the heading of tourism, the Government promised to work towards achieving ambitious tourism policy goals by 2025. In Kinsale, which is one of Ireland's main tourism destinations, there is a planning application for a 65-acre mussel farm, requiring bottom dredging, off Kinsale Harbour. The people of Kinsale and I have serious environmental and tourism-related concerns. Kinsale is the starting point of the Wild Atlantic Way. The Minister will say he cannot comment on planning issues but the Government can wake up and draw up new planning guidelines immediately to prevent the development of a 65-acre mussel farm off Kinsale Harbour or hundreds of acres of kelp harvesting off Bantry. This would protect sensitive areas that depend so much on tourism.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed It is quite an interesting point to raise in the context of the representations made by Deputy Danny Healy-Rae on the planning process. Deputy Michael Collins is objecting to the possible granting of planning permission and Deputy Danny Healy-Rae is objecting to the-----

Deputy Michael Collins: Information on Michael Collins Zoom on Michael Collins I asked about a mussel farm off Kinsale.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed -----development. I hear the Deputy. I am not aware of the specific project but in light of the fact there is a planning application under consideration by my Department, it would not be appropriate to comment further.

Deputy Michael Collins: Information on Michael Collins Zoom on Michael Collins Planning guidelines.

Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins Zoom on Niall Collins I have been asked by the family of a constituent, Ms Ruth Morrissey, to raise her case. Unfortunately, she has cervical cancer and was failed by the State and HSE in the cervical cancer screening programme. Last May, the Taoiseach said the following on "Six One News" regarding people who have to go to court to seek damages and all the trauma that goes with that: "What we propose to do is to offer mediation in every case so that women can avoid having to go to court and the trauma of a court hearing." He went on to say:

What we will do in this situation is the State will settle and pursue the lab later. So, essentially the State will be on the side of the plaintiff, on the side of the woman.

Late on Monday, Ruth Morrissey was summoned to the High Court for a hearing yesterday, at which point she was subjected to a pretty robust and traumatising cross-examination by counsel for the HSE. Her family is quite upset about it. It calls into question the commitment given to the women by the Taoiseach, namely, that mediation would be offered. Is the Tánaiste happy that the mediation process that the Attorney General was supposed to counsel the State Claims Agency to enter into in a meaningful way is being engaged in? Is he satisfied the women who have been failed are being treated sensitively and properly by the State Claims Agency and that a proper mediation processes is being engaged in?

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I acknowledge the difficulty and heartache Ruth Morrissey and her family have had to go through in the context of the CervicalCheck scandal. There are many other victims and families in this category also. The State's only objective is to try to support those affected as best it can, to try to keep people out of court and to ensure fair settlements for the women and families involved. That is why I announced yesterday during Leader's Questions the detail of the ex gratia scheme that is now being set up under the chairmanship of a retired High Court judge. The scheme is to ensure families and victims get the support the State wants to make available to them.

  I do not have the exact details on the legal arguments associated with the case in question. I am slow to comment on a court case. I know, however, that the policy direction of the Government to the State Claims Agency is very clear: we want to try to keep these cases out of court so people do not have to go through an adversarial court system in regard to assessing the extent of claims and compensation.

Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick: Information on Peter Fitzpatrick Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick Irish fishing vessels cannot fish within 12 miles of the Isle of Man and are excluded from fishing inside the six-mile exclusion zone around the entire British coast but the Minister wants to allow UK vessels access to Ireland's six-mile fisheries exclusion zone. This is unacceptable to the Irish fishing industry.

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