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

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 984 No. 6

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Deputy Mary Butler: Information on Mary Butler Zoom on Mary Butler The programme for Government notes that the preferred choice for older people is to live at home safely and securely in the comfort of their own house, with wrap-around supports. That is not always possible. A total of 18% of the older population aged over 85 now reside in nursing homes. I was deeply concerned at the weekend to read in an article in the Sunday Independent written by Maeve Sheehan that up to 45 State-owned nursing homes will fail to meet a deadline to comply with standards enforced by HIQA, putting them at risk of closure and giving rise to questions about the future care of older people. I do not expect the Taoiseach to be able to answer this question now, but I ask him to raise the matter with the Minister for Health. Is he concerned that 45 State homes might not be HIQA compliant? Will adequate funding be made available to ensure they can comply?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The Taoiseach can pass on the question to the Minister for Health.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I read the report too and I share the Deputy's concerns about it. The standards have been in place for some time and they are designed to raise the quality, dignity and standards that exist in public and private nursing homes, moving away from a model of older people spending the last year of their life in a ward towards providing something much better such as their own room or a room for two people. They are good standards. I do not know the exact details but I will advise the Minister that the matter was raised in the House and ask him to provide a more detailed reply.

Deputy John Brady: Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady The Taoiseach has constantly said that work is the best route out of poverty. However, Social Justice Ireland-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The Deputy should ask a question on promised legislation.

Deputy John Brady: Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady -----informs us that more than 109,000 people, who get up early in the morning and go to work, live in poverty. We also know that in 2018-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Could the Deputy ask a question?

Deputy John Brady: Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady -----the State paid out more than €431 million in family income supplement and working family payments. That is being used, by and large, to subsidise the wage bills of some of the largest companies in the State that generate significant profits.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The Deputy should ask a question.

Deputy John Brady: Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady Will the Taoiseach introduce a living wage Bill? Will the Government help lift workers out of poverty and stop subsidising some of the most profitable companies in the State through the working family payment-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The question is whether the Government will introduce legislation.

Deputy John Brady: Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady -----and ensure that they pay their way and workers are lifted out of poverty?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Is there promised legislation?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar As I mentioned to Deputy Brady's party leader earlier, we already have the second highest minimum wage in the world. We are waiting for the Low Pay Commission to report on whether it should be increased for next year. Work is the best way out of poverty. We have an in-work poverty rate in Ireland of about 2%. It is one of the lowest in the European Union. The figure of 109,000 to which the Deputy refers includes those at risk of poverty, which means-----

Deputy John Brady: Information on John Brady Zoom on John Brady It is a growing figure.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar -----earning less than 60% of the median income. It does not mean they are in poverty.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams The programme for Government commits the Government to greater openness, accountability and delivery. On 13 June, I raised the report of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance. The Minister of State, Deputy Stanton, said he would correspond with me on the matter but I have heard nothing since. I asked the Minister about the case of Sylva Tukula who died in a direct provision centre in Galway. The Minister of State told me he would also correspond with me on that case but I have heard nothing since. On 20 June, I asked the Tánaiste about the Government's failure to progress the health (transport support) Bill. The Tánaiste said he would come back to me but I have heard nothing since. On 25 June, I asked the Taoiseach about the international motor insurance card. The Taoiseach said he would make sure I got an update but I have heard nothing since. On 19 June, in the Topical Issue debate I asked about a primary care centre for Dundalk. As usual, the Minister for Health did not turn up. The Minister of State, Deputy Catherine Byrne, told me she did not know the answer to the question I raised and indicated the Minister would send a reply. I have heard nothing since. I have given five examples over four weeks of important issues I have raised to which Ministers promised responses which have not been forthcoming. Perhaps the Leas-Cheann Comhairle will direct the Taoiseach in respect of his accountability and that of his Ministers to this Chamber. Are these examples not evidence of Government incompetence and a lack of accountability?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher I cannot direct, I can only request.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I genuinely apologise if the Deputy has not received replies to those queries.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams I have not.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar There is quite a glut of them. We will use the recess to try to catch up on matters that are in arrears. There may well be a bit of a glut in Deputy Adams's office too because I see that in at least one of the five cases raised, the health (transport support) Bill, a reply from the Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath, issued on 25 June. Perhaps it arrived in the Deputy's office but has not reached him yet.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams Where is the Bill?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The Deputy should read his correspondence.

Deputy Gerry Adams: Information on Gerry Adams Zoom on Gerry Adams The Taoiseach should read his correspondence and respond to it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The last few speakers are very fortunate today because I feel Mark Killilea's hand on my shoulder and I think he is telling me not to cut them off because of him. They can thank Mark Killilea.

Deputy Charlie McConalogue: Information on Charlie McConalogue Zoom on Charlie McConalogue My question is to the Minister for Education and Skills on the programme for Government commitment to bring schools up to the appropriate standard. I refer in particular to Moville community college in County Donegal. As the Minister is aware, the project was added to the capital programme in 2013. However, designs have not yet been completed and the project has not gone to tender. The students are working without a gym or canteen. Despite this, the standard of education in the college is exceptional. The students need proper facilities, however. Will the Minister give an assurance that the project will go to tender promptly? Will he also give a date as to when that will happen?

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh The matter was the subject of a public meeting a few days before the local elections. An issue has arisen with respect to the architect, of which Deputy McConalogue will be well aware. We have reappointed an architect. The design of the school continues apace. We know as well that the standard of some of the prefabs is less than desirable. That is the reason we are committed to carrying out an enhancement job to make sure they are fit for purpose come September. We will ensure that we submit a planning application at the beginning of September. The commitment in that regard is on record. It is one of 15 projects in the county that will continue apace.

Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick: Information on Peter Fitzpatrick Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick I refer to the communications regulation Bill. The local Oireachtas reports provided to South East Radio in Wexford, LMFM Radio in Louth, Northern Sound in Cavan and Monaghan and Galway Bay FM ended on 3 April last. The print services, which Tom Ryan provides to 17 regional newspapers, ceased in mid-March. The services have been running since 2010. The reports compile a summary of contributions made by Deputies and Senators and inform people of the work being done by elected Members in Leinster House on any given day. Radio listenership reached 500,000 and 200,000 people read the reports.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Will the Deputy ask a question, please?

Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick: Information on Peter Fitzpatrick Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick It has been said that the cost of the services does not provide value for money.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher He may not make a statement.

Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick: Information on Peter Fitzpatrick Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick If value for money is the issue, what about Oireachtas TV, on which €3 million a year or €60,000 a week is spent?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Deputy Fitzpatrick should be reasonable.

Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick: Information on Peter Fitzpatrick Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick The audience of Oireachtas TV is between 10,000 and 15,000 on sitting days and only 200 on non-sitting days.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher We are moving on to the next Deputy. Deputy Fitzpatrick is taking advantage of my leniency.

Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick: Information on Peter Fitzpatrick Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick I am not.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The Deputy is taking advantage.

Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick: Information on Peter Fitzpatrick Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick I am a Deputy and people in my constituency listen to the radio-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The Deputy must understand that we are discussing promised legislation.

Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick: Information on Peter Fitzpatrick Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick I mentioned the legislation.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Ministers are intelligent people. They know the answer.

Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick: Information on Peter Fitzpatrick Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick Deputies Shortall and Howlin were given an extra minute. I am the only one-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher If Deputy Fitzpatrick wants an answer, we will move on.

Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick: Information on Peter Fitzpatrick Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick Will the Taoiseach answer my question?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher If the Taoiseach is in a position to answer, he can do so. It is a local issue.

Deputy Brendan Howlin: Information on Brendan Howlin Zoom on Brendan Howlin It is a matter for the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Deputy Richard Bruton: Information on Richard Bruton Zoom on Richard Bruton We hope to produce the Bill shortly.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath What does "shortly" mean?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Deputy Mattie McGrath should look after his own interests.

Deputy Thomas Byrne: Information on Thomas Byrne Zoom on Thomas Byrne According to a written reply I received last night, the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, NCCA, has forwarded its report on history in the junior cycle to the Minister for Education and Skills. When will history be restored as a compulsory subject in the junior cycle?

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh Zoom on Joe McHugh I confirm that the report has been forwarded. I am in the middle of reading it and I will consider its findings.

Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin: Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin I am thankful for the hand of Mark Killilea on your shoulder, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher I am getting another message from him now.

Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin: Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin Monday saw the entry into force of the Istanbul Convention or the Council of Europe convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. That is very welcome and somewhat overdue. In order to meet the State's obligations, legislation must come into force in a number of areas, in particular legislation concerning efficient and proper data collection and the reporting mechanism, which are necessary changes to protect victims and children. The final one is access to specific and specialist support services.


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