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 Header Item Ceisteanna ar Reachtaíocht a Gealladh - Questions on Promised Legislation (Continued)
 Header Item European Union Regulation: Motion

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1006 No. 3
Unrevised

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(Speaker Continuing)

[The Tánaiste: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar] It has been raised with me by Deputy O'Dowd, among others, and we agreed on the need to build that road for many different reasons. It seems to fall between two stools. It is really a transport project, but the application was made under the urban regeneration fund. We need the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, and the Minister for Transport, Deputy Eamon Ryan, to work together to come up with a solution for this so that Government funding can be provided to get the road built.

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten Zoom on Denis Naughten I congratulate the Minister, Deputy McEntee, and her husband, Paul. With the strong footballing genes, I hope that in future their son declares for County Roscommon.

While I welcome yesterday's decision by the Minister, Deputy Darragh O'Brien, to waive the €125 per table licence fee for outdoor dining, Government support needs to go much further. On average we have 225 days of rain per year in this country. If there is to be a shift of the mindset in Ireland to outdoor dining, it will require a significant outlay by businesses which have been the worst hit by the pandemic to date. This does not just relate to furniture, but also to heating and insurance. Those businesses will need to make a serious financial commitment and we need to support them by waiving that fee, not just for some months but for five years for anyone who establishes such services this year. I hope the period can be extended.

The Tánaiste: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar We will certainly give the matter consideration. I am not sure we can waive the fee for five years but perhaps we can do a bit better than what we have done to date. As a result of the pandemic, many businesses have changed their models. Restaurants are doing dinner boxes and takeaways when they never did so before because they have been allowed to do so. Hospitality businesses are using outdoor space in a way they did not before. That might be a permanent change to their business model. It might create new opportunities for revenue and employment. It should be something that we support and perhaps make permanent. However, they will need Government backing to do that and the Deputy's suggestion is a good one.

An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Information on Catherine Connolly Zoom on Catherine Connolly There are four Members left on the list, but only three of them are in the Chamber. With their co-operation and the co-operation of the Tánaiste, I will use my discretion and allow the three Deputies to each ask questions for 30 seconds and take one response from the Tánaiste. Otherwise the Deputies will not be reached and their contributions will move to next week.

Deputy Bríd Smith: Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith Next month will mark three years since the referendum to repeal the eighth amendment. We still have no news, nor can we get any clarity, on when the review of that legislation will be held, how it will be held, how it will be governed and who will be conducting it. I ask the Tánaiste to seek that clarity for us. It is a bit over the top to have to wait. We also have no clarity on whether we will get the ancillary recommendations of the Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution on free contraception and non-ethos-based sex education.

Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh: Information on Rose Conway-Walsh Zoom on Rose Conway-Walsh I, too, offer my good wishes to the Minister, Deputy McEntee.

I do not know if the Tánaiste is aware that students have been pushed out and denied SUSI grants because they have accepted the pandemic unemployment payment. If they were on the TWSS, they would be treated differently. At a minimum, I am asking the Tánaiste to introduce the normal disregards for student employment income. This needs to be implemented immediately. That is a deduction of €4,500 for holiday earnings. The PUP is an exceptional payment and must be regarded as such. Putting it into their pockets with one hand and removing it with another is not acceptable. Can the Government fix it?

Deputy Niamh Smyth: Information on Niamh Smyth Zoom on Niamh Smyth Some weeks ago, I raised with the Tánaiste the issue of the recent publication of the Hennessy report and, more important, the actioning of the recommendations from that report. As I have outlined previously, the poultry industry is of enormous importance in the constituency of Cavan-Monaghan. An outbreak of disease has serious economic implications. I understand the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine convened a meeting of the stakeholders this week. I ask the Tánaiste for an update on that or to get the Minister to respond to me on it.

The Tánaiste: Information on Leo Varadkar Zoom on Leo Varadkar Deputy Bríd Smith asked about the three-year review of the abortion legislation. That is planned. I understand the Minister for Health, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, has done some initial work on it. I will ask him to provide the Deputy with more detail on that.

The Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Deputy Harris, is aware of the anomaly relating to the SUSI grant and is examining it with a view to finding a solution. I thank Deputy Conway-Walsh for raising the matter.

Deputy Niamh Smyth asked about the Hennessy report. I am afraid I do not have an update on that at the moment, but I will see the Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine this afternoon. I will mention to him that the Deputy raised the matter and ask him to come back to her directly.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl That concludes questions on promised legislation. Our new system seems to be working fairly well.

  We do not have a Deputy present to move the First Stage of the Dog Breeding Establishments (Amendment) Bill 2021.

  Deputy Kerrane is not present to move the First Stage of the Social Welfare (Payment Order) (Amendment) Bill 2021.

European Union Regulation: Motion

Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy James Browne): Information on James Browne Zoom on James Browne I move:

That Dáil Éireann approves the exercise by the State of the option or discretion under Protocol No. 21 on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the area of freedom, security and justice annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, to take part in the adoption and application of the following proposed measure:
Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) 2016/794, as regards Europol’s cooperation with private parties, the processing of personal data by Europol in support of criminal investigations, and Europol’s role on research and innovation,
a copy of which was laid before Dáil Éireann on 11th January, 2021.

I thank Members for agreeing to debate this motion today. The motion relates to a proposal to strengthen and develop Europol, increasing the services that it provides to European Union member states while remaining within the mission and tasks of the agency, as laid down in Article 88 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

  The deadline for opting in to the proposal under Article 3 of Protocol 21 is 3 May 2021. Opting in under Article 3 allows Ireland to take part fully in the adoption and application of the proposed measure, and to influence the content of the regulation that is to be agreed. Negotiations are well under way under the Portuguese Presidency of the Council. If the Houses support the opt-in, it is my intention to notify the institutions of our participation by Monday.

  When Ireland signed up to the Lisbon treaty, the Government of the day made a declaration, which is attached to the treaties, that we would participate to the maximum extent possible in measures in the field of police co-operation. That remains the position of this Government.

  Deputies may ask why the Government is seeking to participate in this regulation. First, this is very much a supplementary regulation. In 2016, these Houses agreed to Ireland's participating in a much broader regulation relating to Europol. The 2016 regulation reconstituted Europol as the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Co-operation. It represented an effort by the European Union to step up its efforts to fight terrorism, cybercrime and other forms of serious and organised crime. It also created new governance structures and new relationships between Europol and the European institutions, as required by the Lisbon treaty. The 2016 regulation will remain as the main Europol regulation, with the new regulation adding on specific powers and filling in any gaps that currently exist, which I will mention shortly.

  Second, An Garda Síochána fully supports Europol and values its membership of the organisation. An Garda Síochána is represented on the management board at assistant commissioner level, and gardaí are seconded to the organisation on an ongoing basis. The Garda Commissioner is of the view that the collaboration and co-operation that comes from Europol is invaluable in tackling serious cross-border crime. Europol is the centre point for communication between the law enforcement agencies of the European Union.

  Third, Ireland is broadly supportive of the proposed amendments in this draft regulation seeking to strengthen the existing mandate of Europol which I will now mention briefly. The draft regulation seeks to enable Europol to co-operate effectively with private parties. Private parties, such as Internet service providers and social media companies, hold data that are increasingly relevant for law enforcement authorities. Currently, the rules for exchanges of personal data with private parties only permit Europol to receive such data as an exception. The new proposed amendments would enable Europol to support law enforcement in its interactions regarding, for example, the removal of terrorist content online.

  The draft regulation seeks to enable Europol to more effectively support member states' investigations with the analysis of large and complex data sets, addressing the big data challenge for law enforcement authorities. Member states often cannot detect cross-border links through analysis of large data sets as they lack data on crime in other member states.


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