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 Header Item Ceisteanna ar Reachtaíocht a Gealladh - Questions on Promised Legislation (Continued)
 Header Item Health (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2019: First Stage
 Header Item Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) (Amendment) Bill 2019: First Stage

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 984 No. 6

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin: Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin] Currently, Ireland has only one third of the number of domestic violence refuges-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The Taoiseach or a Minister to respond.

Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin: Information on Fiona O'Loughlin Zoom on Fiona O'Loughlin Could the Taoiseach please advise me when we will be able to consider introducing the specific legislation to ensure the true ratification of the Istanbul Convention?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Is the Taoiseach is in a position to answer on the legislation?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I also welcome the fact we were in a position to ratify the Istanbul Convention on 1 July. There is an epidemic of violence against women in this State and around the world, and it needs to end. Our ratification of the convention is part of the effort to tackle it. On the update on the specific legislation the Deputy raises, I will have to ask the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan, to correspond with her. One thing in particular we want to do when it comes to providing refuges for women and families forced to leave their homes is change things so it is the abuser who gets kicked out of the home. That is the way it should be.

Deputy Aindrias Moynihan: Information on Aindrias Moynihan Zoom on Aindrias Moynihan Page 60 of the programme for Government has commitments on improving waiting times for patients. I have raised several times the issue of Cork University Maternity Hospital, whereby large numbers of women are kept waiting for gynaecological services. The inpatient number has doubled to over 1,000 over the past year. The business case has been made by the hospital. The Minister has reviewed the case and made a commitment on it. One of the key aspects is the opening of the second gynaecological theatre, a theatre that has never been opened since the hospital was opened in 2007. There are now over 1,000 inpatients on the waiting list. Can the Taoiseach intervene? Can he ask for the funding to be released and the business case to be approved?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher It is a question for the Minister. We have to review all of this during the summer.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I am afraid it is a question for the Minister for Health but I will mention to him that the Deputy raised it. I appreciate that there are very long waiting lists for gynaecological procedures in many parts of the country but I should acknowledge much of the progress that has been made. Just in the past two years, the number of people waiting more than 12 weeks for a cataract procedure, hip or knee replacement, tonsil operation, angiogram or vein procedure is down by more than half. In some areas, we are making some good progress.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath Thanks to the Belfast bus.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher I cannot deprive Deputies Ó Cuív and Coppinger. After they contribute, that will be it.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív I will be very brief. There are two promised Bills on the transfer of sentenced persons. I am inquiring about the Transfer of Sentenced Persons (Amendment) Bill. Could the Taoiseach update me on when it will be introduced in the House? There are many waiting for it because of a Supreme Court ruling.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I am advised the Bills are on the priority list. As the Deputy knows, there is a lot of legislation on that list so I will ask the Minister for Justice and Equality to correspond with the Deputy with a more detailed reply.

Deputy Ruth Coppinger: Information on Ruth Coppinger Zoom on Ruth Coppinger There are further regulations for fire safety, which all of us welcome. There is a problem, however. How are community centres, public buildings, etc., to pay for the emergency renovations? In the Taoiseach's constituency, Hartstown community centre has been faced with such a bill. It faces closure if it cannot carry out the renovations. There was a meeting of 200 people but I do not believe there was anybody from the Government side in attendance. Clubs and two childcare facilities are particularly dependent on the centre. With regard to legislation, some sort of fund needs to be put in place to help such centres to meet the bills. There are residents packing bags to keep a community centre in the Taoiseach's constituency open. Is that appropriate? Will the Taoiseach facilitate a meeting with the Minister and local Deputies on this issue so we can assist and determine how the State can intervene to help? The church owns the land but will not give a lease to the community centre.

Minister for Rural and Community Development (Deputy Michael Ring): Information on Michael Ring Zoom on Michael Ring The community enhancement programme is one of the schemes in place. I am considering this matter in my Department because it is a problem around the country. Community groups are finding themselves in difficulty over repairs. I need to examine the scheme. My Department will do so.

Health (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2019: First Stage

Deputy Anne Rabbitte: Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Health Act 2007 to enable the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) to enforce national standards in relation to foster care provision, children detention schools, children residential centres and the Child and Family Agency (Tusla); and to provide for related matters.

I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle for allowing me the time to introduce the Bill, which has one simple aim, that is, to allow HIQA to enforce national standards for centres and bodies providing services under the Child Care Act 1991 and the Children Act 2001. At present, HIQA does not hold such powers. It does in regard to nursing homes, for example. The current position means that even where HIQA finds repeated incidents of non-compliance with national standards in foster care settings, it is powerless to enforce its recommendations. This has caused a number of issues in recent years, with service providers failing to upgrade their standards of care after HIQA has pointed out such shortfalls in their reviews. It is an obvious flaw in the system and one which has an easy fix. This is the thrust of the Bill. I am thankful for the opportunity to introduce it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher I thank the Deputy for her brevity. Is the Bill being opposed?

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Seán Kyne): Information on Seán Kyne Zoom on Seán Kyne No.

  Question put and agreed to.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Since this is a Private Members' Bill, Second Stage must, under Standing Orders, be taken in Private Members' time.

Deputy Anne Rabbitte: Information on Anne Rabbitte Zoom on Anne Rabbitte I move: "That the Bill be taken in Private Members' time."

  Question put and agreed to.

Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) (Amendment) Bill 2019: First Stage

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath I move:

That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to amend the Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) Act 2000, to revise the requirements for composition of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board and to provide for related matters.

I am delighted to be able to introduce this Private Members' Bill today. I salute the work of the team in the Office of Parliamentary Legal Advisers for all its guidance and helpful suggestions on the draft. I salute, in particular, Ms Sinead Beirne, who was the point of contact for my office. I thank David Mullins in my office and my own staff. I welcome to the Visitors Gallery Ms Anne-Marie O'Brien and her father, Finbar. I offer a special mention to Anne, who is watching at home. Anne-Marie has been a champion in the cause of her brother John since that fateful day almost a decade ago.

  The Bill itself is short and technical. It sets out to amend the Merchant Shipping (Investigation of Marine Casualties) Act 2000, to revise the requirements for the composition of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board, and to provide for related matters. In many ways, however, the Bill is an attempt to draw some good out of a tragedy that befell two families in my constituency on Sunday, 23 May 2010. On that day, on a beautiful sunny afternoon, John O'Brien and his good friend Patrick Esmonde went fishing off Helvick Head, County Waterford. Tragically they never returned to their loved ones. Since then, I have worked closely with John O'Brien's sister Anne-Marie to have a full, open and thorough investigation to establish the exact cause of death. The fight will continue.

  What this Bill seeks to do is rectify the bizarre circumstances whereby there is no legal obligation whatsoever on the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport or his agents to ensure that members of the Marine Casualty Investigation Board have maritime or marine-accident experience. The Leas-Cheann Comhairle will understand that being from a sea-fishing county. It is a vital component, by anyone's yardstick. This has always been a major issue for the two families, who have never accepted the official outcome of the investigation into the deaths on the summer's day. If this Bill is accepted and passed, it will strengthen the onus on the Minister and his agents to ensure that qualified and suitable candidates are selected for the membership of the board. Maritime experience should be a prerequisite. It is a fair and reasonable requirement given the gravity of the cases that may need to be investigated.


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