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 Header Item Economic Policy (Continued)
 Header Item Departmental Functions

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 1008 No. 2

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(Speaker Continuing)

[The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin] All of that is about jobs. Deputy Boyd Barrett does not mention any of it. He comes in here and says nothing is being done.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett I do not.

The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Deputy does actually. He says nothing is being done and he ignores the very substantive allocation of resources to protect jobs and to create jobs. I must put that on the record. There is a variety of support schemes. The Minister will continue to work with all those involved in the arts and music industry because we realise it has been severely hit and needs help and support. We are very committed to doing that. A number and variety of schemes have been provided.

There will be a new youth employment charter for young jobseekers; 50,000 education and training places are being rolled out; €114 million is being provided to SOLAS for a recovery skills response programme; and there is an action plan for apprenticeships extending to 2025, which will increase the number of apprentices registered to 10,000 per annum by 2025. So far, the response to the grant for the apprenticeship incentivisation scheme has worked very well and we have had a significant increase in apprenticeships, which is what we want. We want more of that.

It is a very extensive and good plan. The recovery and resilience plan we have submitted to Europe is good. It is good on the green economy, which again has been dismissed by Deputy Paul Murphy and others. It is good on education and work activation, which is important. I know, as I have experience of this. As far back as when I was Minister for Education and Science, we ran an 18 month technician training programme with Intel, Hewlett-Packard and other companies, where they provided a six months internship for people after 12 months in institutes of technology. People who were long-term unemployed got satisfying, lifelong careers from such an interventionist programme.

A range of such programmes is now in place to help people reorient and get new jobs. It is an action-focused plan, which will yield results. It will also yield results in terms of infrastructure. The investment in education is quite significant and takes up a large share of the recovery and resilience element of the funding and also the broader measures the Government is taking in particular to get people back to work and to get people opportunities in employment. As I indicated, we will work with musicians.

In terms of Deputy Paul Murphy's question, as Taoiseach I do not intervene in planning applications around the country, nor can I operationally interfere with the Environmental Protection Agency's assessments in respect of specific proposals and applications. I know it is a major issue of concern for people in the region, but the idea that I can individually go in there and just stop something is a classic overly simplistic presentation by the Deputy. He knows that full well.

In response to Deputy McDonald's question about the social dialogue unit within my Department, we are engaging, not just with the LEEF, but as I said yesterday I had quite a lengthy and very constructive engagement with the environmental pillar, for example, in respect of issues pertaining to climate change, climate change legislation and the circular economy. I am meeting shortly with the agricultural pillar. I have also met separately with Social Justice Ireland. What we need is delivery right across the system – delivery in housing at every level. The one thing that is holding us back is constant analysis, re-analysis and second guessing of this project and that project. We need action at all levels. I cannot understand how it is taking three and four years for housing projects to get through councils and then they get voted down again and they get delayed for another three years, all the while people shout and roar in here about a housing crisis.

The same applies right across the board in terms of getting things moving, for example, on climate change. We are against property tax and carbon tax, yet we want funding to do X, Y and Z all of the time. There are always equations. There is revenue and there is spending. The carbon tax is ring-fenced to deal with fuel poverty, for example; it is also ring-fenced to enable environmental projects in farming and it is also there to retrofit housing, which ultimately in the long term will help families with their fuel bills. However, that funding must be raised and ring-fenced if we want to really put meat on the bone of climate change. Sinn Féin and the far left will oppose all of that because they are opposed to tax on this, that and the other. I do not know where they think we are going to broaden the tax base to sustain real change in climate and housing. They are against everything and they oppose everything, and they keep calling for more and more spending. What is being presented consistently by Sinn Féin and the far left in this House day in, day out is economically incoherent. They cannot have it both ways all of the time, in particular in a situation when people do it differently when they are in government.

Deputy Kelly referred to the EWSS. Its fundamental objective is to protect jobs at the moment, and it has done that very effectively. It is a generous scheme as well. Many have commented on its effectiveness. We are establishing a commission on welfare and taxation to deal with the issue the Deputy identified in terms of PRSI. We do need to move to a situation where if someone is made redundant that there would be a pay-related dimension to that and he or she would not suffer a huge reduction in salary.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl I thank the Taoiseach.

The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin That is something we should work on.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl We must move to Question No.10.

Deputy Alan Kelly: Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly What about equalisation and the leaving certificate?

The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin The Exchequer will provide funding for the equalisation fund, but we believe that providing 100% to each local authority is the right thing to do.

Deputy Alan Kelly: Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly And the leaving certificate.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett: Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett And the psychologists as well.

Departmental Functions

 10. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin if he will report on the work of the international and European Union division of his Department. [28067/21]

 11. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett Information on Richard Boyd Barrett Zoom on Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin if he will report on the work of the EU and international division of his Department.  [26505/21]

 12. Deputy Bríd Smith Information on Bríd Smith Zoom on Bríd Smith asked the Taoiseach Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin if he will report on the work of the EU and international division of his Department.  [26508/21]

 13. Deputy Paul Murphy Information on Paul Murphy Zoom on Paul Murphy asked the Taoiseach Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin if he will report on the work of the EU and international division of his Department.  [26511/21]

 14. Deputy Gino Kenny Information on Gino Kenny Zoom on Gino Kenny asked the Taoiseach Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin if he will report on the work of the EU and international division of his Department.  [26514/21]

 15. Deputy Gary Gannon Information on Gary Gannon Zoom on Gary Gannon asked the Taoiseach Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin if he will report on the work of the international and European Union division of his Department.  [29412/21]

 16. Deputy Alan Kelly Information on Alan Kelly Zoom on Alan Kelly asked the Taoiseach Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin if he will report on the work of the EU and international division of his Department.  [29456/21]

 17. Deputy Mick Barry Information on Mick Barry Zoom on Mick Barry asked the Taoiseach Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin if he will report on the work of the international and European Union division of his Department.  [29772/21]

The Taoiseach: Information on Micheál Martin Zoom on Micheál Martin I propose to take Questions Nos. 10 to 17, inclusive, together.

The European Union and international division of my Department works on all aspects of European Union and international policy within my Department, including issues relating to the European Union and the United Kingdom relationship.

The division assists me in my role as a member of the European Council and in my other European Union engagements. It provides advice and briefing for meetings of the European Council and other EU summits, multilateral events, and for bilateral engagements with Heads of Government of EU member states, the United States, and other countries. It works to ensure a strategic and coherent whole-of-government approach to cross-cutting European Union policies and international issues generally, including, in the context of Ireland's membership of the UN Security Council, matters such as global peace and security, international and sustainable development, and the external dimensions of climate action.

The division also supports the work of the Cabinet committee on Europe and oversees the implementation of the Global Ireland 2025 strategy, which is progressing very well. Ireland's footprint is now quite extensive, not just within Europe but across the globe.

Deputy Mary Lou McDonald: Information on Mary Lou McDonald Zoom on Mary Lou McDonald Last week the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution to establish an independent commission of inquiry to investigate violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territories, including east Jerusalem. During the special sitting of the council, the UN heard how Israeli forces had targeted homes, medical facilities, media centres, Covid-19 testing centres, schools, and a police station. It also heard that there is no evidence that any of these buildings that were targeted and destroyed had a military function, as had been claimed by Israel.

The motion passed last week by the Dáil marks the most explicit and united call by any parliament in Europe against the annexation and the illegal Israeli occupation. Important as the motion is, it will mean nothing to the people of Palestine if we do not use our collective voice to demand action from the international community and Europe to hold Israel to account. It is the Taoiseach and the Government who have the greatest responsibility in this regard.

The Government's action must include progressing the occupied territories Bill and using our seat on the UN Security Council to progress the positions, aims and ambitions of last week's motion within the European Union. I ask the Taoiseach to set out for us when the occupied territories Bill will again come before the Oireachtas and be put on the Statute Book and how he plans to advance the positions adopted by the Dáil in our motion in the coming weeks and months.


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