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

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 981 No. 5

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  1 o’clock

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick: Information on Peter Fitzpatrick Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick] It is about time the Government sorted out the Army once and for all.

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney The Deputy has raised two issues. With regard to bringing home the contingent from the Golan Heights there was an issue between the UN and the Lebanese authorities that resulted in their plane having to be rescheduled because permission to land was not given because of a miscommunication somewhere. That is as much as I can say about it. We are looking to get that fixed quickly so people can come home to their families.

On the second issue, we are considering how we can improve the remuneration of Defence Forces personnel. We have asked the Public Sector Pay Commission to look specifically at the Defence Forces so that we can do so without undermining the broader pay agreements we have. We hope to be able to get those recommendations shortly.

Deputy John Brady: Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady Yesterday, Action Health Enterprises, which is engaged by the HSE to build primary care centres in Arklow and Greystones in County Wicklow, made the announcement it is not going ahead with those projects. In January, it had been granted full planning permission after a number of delays to go ahead with the Arklow primary health care centre. If anything, it gives us another reason that public private partnerships are not the best route to develop schemes such as this. It has caused massive concern in Arklow and Greystones about the future of the primary health care centre in the towns. Will the Tánaiste give a commitment that the schemes will proceed as planned, that there will be no further delays and that in no way is this linked to cuts or scalebacks in terms of capital spend linked to the overrun on the national children's hospital?

Deputy Jim Daly: Information on Jim Daly Zoom on Jim Daly One confirmation I can give the Deputy is there is no correlation whatsoever with anything happening with the children's hospital. This is not an issue with capital. As the Deputy will appreciate, I do not have with me today the details on something that happened yesterday but I will get an update on it. There are 22 primary care centres being delivered nationwide this year and they are a very positive development. We are delighted to see these investments in Wicklow as well as throughout the rest of the country. I will get the details for the Deputy and I will check out and come back to the Deputy on whether a company is supposed to have withdrawn.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív Bunaíodh Oifig an Choimisinéara Teanga faoi Acht na dTeangacha Oifigiúla, 2003. Ina thuarascáil bhliantúil inné, dúirt an Coimisinéir go bhfuil an dlí á shárú ag RTÉ maidir le craoladh trí Ghaeilge. Dúirt sé go bhfuil séanraí áirithe nach bhfuil craoladh ar bith á dhéanamh iontu i nGaeilge. An féidir leis an Aire Stáit a rá liom céard atá i gceist ag an Rialtas a dhéanamh le cinntiú go gcloíonn RTÉ leis an Acht Craolacháin, 2009 i leith na Gaeilge?

Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (Deputy Seán Kyne): Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne Mar is eol don Teachta, ghlac an Rialtas Dé Máirt le tuarascáil bhliantúil Oifig an Choimisinéara Teanga. B'fhéidir go mbeidh an tAire Cumarsáide, Gníomhaithe ar son na hAeráide agus Comhshaoil, an Teachta Bruton, in ann an cheist maidir le RTÉ a fhreagairt. Tá an tAire sin freagrach as an gcraoltóir náisiúnta.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton I thank the Deputy for the question. Níl an Ghaeilge go líofa agam, so I will not attempt to answer in Irish. I am very much aware the Irish Language Commissioner has reported that RTÉ is failing to meet its obligations as set out in the Act. Clearly the board of RTÉ and RTÉ need to consider this finding and respond adequately in respect of Act. The Irish Language Commissioner has indicated RTÉ is to report back to him and that he will take the steps available to him under the law. These include reporting back to the Oireachtas. I will be tracking this closely, I assure the Deputy.

Deputy Michael Collins: Information on Michael Collins Zoom on Michael Collins On page 47 of the programme for Government ambitious tourism policy goals by 2025 are set. We have a major tourism threat in west Cork and it is an issue I raised with the Taoiseach two weeks ago. There are major concerns in Kinsale about a proposed mussel farm off Kinsale harbour, which will cover a vast area of sea and will lead to huge consequences for the Kinsale community. I know the Tánaiste cannot comment on live planning issues while they are ongoing. Last Sunday, I attended a public meeting in Union Hall with local inshore fisherman, local tourism operators and local people in opposition to another oyster farm proposed by a French company that would cover an area from Union Hall to Castlehaven, which would have huge consequences locally. It is widely known that planning regulations in other European countries are now very strict, thus in the past month companies have made three applications in west Cork as Ireland's planning guidelines on oyster and mussel farms are far too lax. To save the livelihoods of inshore fisherman, tourism operators and local people in Union Hall, Castlehaven and Kinsale, will the Government work with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine to put in place stricter planning guidelines for these oyster and mussel farms?

Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine (Deputy Michael Creed): Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed The Deputy is right that I cannot comment on current planning applications but I am aware of the issues to which he has referred.

Deputy Michael Collins: Information on Michael Collins Zoom on Michael Collins I did not ask the Minister to comment on that. I asked him whether he will work to put in place stricter guidelines as other European countries are doing.

Deputy Michael Creed: Information on Michael Creed Zoom on Michael Creed I have no plans to change the guidelines. I will consider all issues relating to any individual planning application in due course.

Deputy Robert Troy: Information on Robert Troy Zoom on Robert Troy We all know Irish Water was established by a previous Government, and we were told the primary reason for its establishment was so it could borrow off-balance-sheet to invest in critical infrastructure. Unfortunately, this is not happening. A number of weeks ago, I raised the high number of water outages in the past 12 months, particularly with regard to Athlone. This morning, there were water outages throughout the town of Athlone. It is a huge inconvenience for businesses and residents. When will critical investment be made by Irish Water in water infrastructure in Athlone? What contingency measures does Irish Water have in place to ensure businesses are not severely discommoded as a result of this?

Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Eoghan Murphy): Information on Eoghan Murphy Zoom on Eoghan Murphy I thank the Deputy for the question. It is somewhat hypocritical questioning how we fund Irish Water and have security of funding for Irish Water, given that certain Members of the House and certain parties in the House canvassed to remove a very important domestic funding stream for Irish Water. That question has been settled and in settling the question the Government made a serious commitment to funding from the central Exchequer of more than €8 billion over the next ten years for strategic water infrastructure for Irish Water. This investment is being made every year. Yesterday, Irish Water gave a presentation to me on its plans to make sure we have sufficient capacity in the system for the next ten years given the challenges we face. As a result of this, we see water outages, unfortunately, in some parts of the country. We also have to increase capacity for the treatment of water. We know coming off the back of last summer the serious drought we had and the impact it had on water courses and water reserves. A huge amount of investment is happening and I can get details on the specific problems the Deputy has raised to him later today.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams The Traveller accommodation expert group was set up on foot of the programme for Government commitment. The European Committee of Social Rights has found this State is in violation of the European Social Charter on five grounds by failing to provide adequate Traveller accommodation. When will the expert group publish its report? The Tánaiste may also recall that immediately after the dreadful fire at Carrickmines in which ten people, including children, were killed, he took a meeting with me and promised the Government would give the family the support it required. Since then, I have been fighting an unsuccessful battle with a series of Ministers over the lack of support for the two surviving sons of Thomas and Sylvia Connors, who need help to get back and forth to school. Will the Tánaiste agree to get this sorted out?

Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government (Deputy Damien English): Information on Damien English Zoom on Damien English We hope to have the report towards the end of this month or certainly early May. This is the scheduled time to receive the report. We will then discuss it at committee.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams On the other question, will the Tánaiste give a commitment?

The Tánaiste: Information on Simon Coveney Zoom on Simon Coveney I will come back to the Deputy on that.

Deputy Mary Butler: Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler On page 46 of the programme for Government there is a commitment to prepare properly regional airports for a future in which they can operate on a stand-alone commercial basis. As the Tánaiste is aware, there has not been a commercial flight from Waterford Airport since 2016. The search and rescue service covering the south-east area still operates from the airport. There is a submission before the Government to extend and upgrade the runway to allow the airport to compete competitively. The submission requests €5 million from the Government, to be matched by €5 million funding from business investors and €2 million from local authorities in the south east.

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