Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to oireachtas.ie

An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business (Continued)

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 985 No. 2

First Page Previous Page Page of 94 Next Page Last Page

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Catherine Byrne: Information on Catherine Byrne Zoom on Catherine Byrne] The report examined how we could approach the possession of drugs for personal use as a health issue rather than criminal justice issue, which we all support. I will speak to the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan, later about progress in this regard and bring the matter to the Taoiseach's attention after the publication of the report.

Deputy Mick Barry: Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry Last week, the living wage technical group calculated that the living wage in the country in 2019 should be €12.30 per hour. They said the increase was needed, first and foremost, because of the increased costs of housing, accommodation, rent etc. A group of people is fighting to make the living wage a reality. They are thousands of Tesco workers - members of Mandate - who are campaigning for 1,000 new full-time jobs in the company, which has a 90% part-time workforce, and that the starting rate of pay should be €12.30 per hour, rising to €16.

In view of the report, does the Taoiseach accept that the reality for low-paid workers is that €12.30 should be the minimum figure on which to live and does he plan to legislate to provide for that?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Everyone's financial circumstances are different. As the Deputy will know from all the studies and reports done in respect of the national minimum wage, very often it is not the main income of the household but a secondary or part-time income in many cases. It depends on the individual circumstances whether there are rent or housing costs, or not.

As it stands, the national minimum wage is the second highest in Europe and the sixth highest when the high cost of living is taken into account. The law states the national minimum wage is calculated by the Low Pay Commission, which was established by the current Oireachtas to do that work. It takes into account a number of factors, such as the need to ensure that people who are at work get a decent wage but also the need to ensure we do not end up doing anything counterproductive by causing people to lose their jobs, particularly in Border areas, or to lose their hours, thereby ending up worse off if we make it too high.

Deputy Mattie McGrath: Information on Mattie McGrath Zoom on Mattie McGrath There is great concern and anxiety in Clonmel and wider County Tipperary at the fact that Glenville Crisis House, a mental health crisis house in Clonmel, is still waiting to be signed off by the HSE. I received a reply to a parliamentary question from Mr. Jim Curran, the HSE's head of estates. He confirmed to me no funding will be announced until the HSE capital plan for 2019 is signed off. As has been acknowledged, the plan is holding up everything. We cannot wait any longer for the crisis house. We have no long-stay places but we need the crisis house and the upgrade to proceed immediately. The Minister of State, Deputy Daly, means well but nothing is happening and we have been told it will be two years before we get any stone upon a stone. It is totally unacceptable to the people of County Tipperary. Mental health is a very important issue.

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I do not have information on that project. The Deputy may wish to raise it as a Topical Issue matter, or I can ask the Minister of State, Deputy Daly, to correspond with him.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall Zoom on Róisín Shortall Last week, I raised with the Taoiseach the issue in the Murray report on the difficulties in recruiting hospital doctors and he undertook to speak to the Minister for Health about its publication. Since then, the report has been published on Twitter by Susan Mitchell and, therefore, it is a bit of a joke for the Minister to sit on that report, as he is doing on many other reports such as the de Buitléir report which was mentioned earlier.

Has the Taoiseach yet spoken to the Minister and will he undertake to ensure that the report will be published and that we will have an opportunity to have a debate on it?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I have not yet had a chance to speak to the Minister about that matter but I will do so. I am sure there is no reason we cannot have a debate on it, although the scheduling of debates and decisions on those matters are for the Business Committee, not for me.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan Zoom on Eamon Ryan The European Council recently failed to get agreement on a net-zero climate emissions target by 2050. The Government's climate action plan states the Government would agree to such a target subject to European agreement. Is the Government willing to commit to net-zero emissions by 2050, irrespective of what happens in the European Union process, or will we wait for agreement among all European countries before we do it?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar The short answer is that we are willing to commit to that. I think that is what is stated in the climate action plan - maybe it is more nuanced than that. My understanding is that we are willing to commit to it. I was one of the Heads of Government who was willing to commit to it at the European Council summit last week. Three or four Heads of Government were not willing and they raised the question of how we will get there. As it stands, it seems that getting there will require many technological advances to take place, particularly in respect of carbon sequestration and storage, which may not happen. Their concern relates to making a commitment without a roadmap as to how we will get there. We would like to make that commitment because we may never get there if we do not set down that ambition in the first place.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher There is only 5 minutes remaining. I will call as many as I can. I do not like doing this, but if there are names that I cannot call they will be on the list tomorrow.

Deputy Michael Collins: Information on Michael Collins Zoom on Michael Collins The programme for Government promised a better health service. Parkinson's sufferers in Ireland feel like second-class citizens and they have to suffer silently in a country that ignores their pain. In most European countries, deep brain stimulation operations are offered to Parkinson's sufferers but this vital operation is not available here. In Northern Ireland, there are 31 specialised Parkinson's nurses, whereas in the Republic, there are only five, three of whom are based in Dublin.

When will Parkinson's sufferers be treated like their counterparts throughout the world?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Different treatments are available in different countries. I imagine there are countries that do better than us and I am sure there are many more countries that do not do as well as us. I am not entirely sure, therefore, how to answer the Deputy's question. Deep brain stimulation is available in Northern Ireland for Irish patients but is provided through the service at the Mater Hospital. It is probably best if I ask the Minister for Health to give a more detailed reply because I do not have a briefing to hand.

Deputy Imelda Munster: Information on Imelda Munster Zoom on Imelda Munster Last week, the HSE sent a letter to 50 respite service users which stated the HSE disability services in County Louth plan to close the residential respite service in Sruthan House in Dundalk. The reason given was that the HSE was prioritising the provision of services to enhance cost efficiency. The HSE went on to state patients with physical and sensory needs could go elsewhere and suggested they go to places as far away as Sligo or Roscommon, or to a nursing home. What is wrong with the Government? How arrogant is it that it can stand over something like that-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The Deputy has made her point.

Deputy Imelda Munster: Information on Imelda Munster Zoom on Imelda Munster -----and believe that it is okay to do so as a cost-cutting measure? It is not good enough.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The Taoiseach to respond, please.

Deputy Imelda Munster: Information on Imelda Munster Zoom on Imelda Munster Does the Taoiseach believe that the Government can trample all over the rights of people with disabilities and their families and that it is okay to do so?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The Deputy should have some respect for her colleagues.

Deputy Imelda Munster: Information on Imelda Munster Zoom on Imelda Munster How dare the Government attempt to close such a badly needed respite facility?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher I have to move on.

Deputy Imelda Munster: Information on Imelda Munster Zoom on Imelda Munster Will the Taoiseach stand up-----

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Deputy, please.

Deputy Imelda Munster: Information on Imelda Munster Zoom on Imelda Munster -----to give his response?

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher The Deputy is wasting her colleagues' time.

Deputy Imelda Munster: Information on Imelda Munster Zoom on Imelda Munster The Taoiseach had better say the Government will discuss it.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Pat the Cope Gallagher Zoom on Pat the Cope Gallagher Deputy Munster is being unfair to her colleagues. I will move on. Three minutes remain and I will not put up with this. I call Deputy Fitzpatrick on the same issue. I remind Deputies to think of their colleagues, not themselves.

Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick: Information on Peter Fitzpatrick Zoom on Peter Fitzpatrick Sruthan House has operated for the past 23 years. It has very experienced staff. Some 400 families have availed of it over the past number of years, while 50 families currently do so. The word in the street is the reason for all the cuts is the overspend on the new children's hospital. The Government has the opportunity to reverse the decision. Some 50 families depend on this adult respite unit in Dundalk, County Louth. Will the Government please reverse the decision?

The Taoiseach: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar I thank the Deputies for raising the issue, which I am sure is of great concern to the service users, but I have not seen the letter, I did not write it and I did not sign it. Therefore, I cannot account for it. I suggest Deputy Munster may wish to take it up directly with whoever wrote it.

I assure Deputy Fitzpatrick that current budgets and capital budgets are separate and an additional €200 million has been provided in capital reserve funding for the children's hospital next year. Once again, I assure the House that the rising costs of the national children's hospital will not impact on the budget for health services at all.


Last Updated: 18/06/2020 14:42:44 First Page Previous Page Page of 94 Next Page Last Page