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Varadkar, Leo

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. Nbr.

Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions

The Government acknowledges the enormous challenges we face as a country when it comes to housing. All of us feel particularly strongly about the fact that there are families living in emergency a...More Button

I do not think it is possible for anyone to say there will never be anyone who has to go into emergency accommodation. There always have been a certain number of people in emergency accommodatio...More Button

With respect to housing, I am somebody who is very committed to home ownership. This Government believes in home ownership. As the Deputy pointed out 68% to 70% of people in Ireland own their o...More Button

-----for those who are not able to own their own house. That is why we need the private market so that people can purchase and own their own homes. I want that 70% home ownership to be a reality ...More Button

The other area is supply. In the past 12 months, 22,000 new homes have been added to our housing stock. That is 22,000 new houses or apartments. We are meeting our targets in terms of supply. ...More Button

Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions (Continued)

I will ensure that the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, provides the Deputy with an update on the affordable homes scheme.More Button

As the Deputy will be aware, the scheme is going towards a shared equity model. We will provide the Deputy with more information on that.More Button

I am advised that the level of home ownership fell faster under Fianna Fáil than it has under the current Government. It is worth referring to that point. We really should not forget from where w...More Button

The banking sector collapsed and was unable to lend people mortgages for a prolonged period.More Button

We had, on Fianna Fáil's watch, ghost estates, Priory Hall, problems with mica, hundreds of thousands of people in negative equity-----More Button

-----and hundreds of thousands of others in mortgage arrears. Deputy Micheál Martin is not in a position to lecture or advise anyone on housing.More Button

The answer to Deputy McDonald's question is "No". We negotiate public sector pay with the trade unions. That is done under the terms of pay deals that happen periodically and that do not require...More Button

The living wage, as the Deputy will be aware, exists in the United Kingdom. It exists in Northern Ireland where Deputy McDonald's party was in power for ten years. The living wage in the United...More Button

The national minimum wage is calculated by the Low Pay Commission, taking into account the views of workers and unions and also employers in the business sector. It is now the second highest in th...More Button

The living wage to which Deputy McDonald refers is drawn up based on research by NGOs without any input from employers and business. The Vincentian Partnership for Justice does good work. I hav...More Button

The Low Pay Commission, the Government body that draws up the national minimum wage, takes into account the need to ensure that people get a decent wage. However, it also takes into account the ...More Button

I did give the Deputy a straight answer-----More Button

-----but unfortunately she chose to misrepresent it and put words in my mouth. While I give the Deputy straight answers, there is nothing straight about her whatsoever in the way that she responds...More Button

We have an unemployment rate that it is at its lowest in 15 years.More Button

Poverty and deprivation rates have been falling for four years in a row and we have cut child poverty by 30% and we have increased the minimum wage every year for the past four years after it was c...More Button

-----and we are going to continue to build on it but we will do it in a way that is sustainable and not counterproductive. The risk of Sinn Féin policies that are not responsible is that they will...More Button

We would end up in a situation whereby people rather than getting an increase actually end up having their hours reduced or losing their jobs altogether and that is no good to anyone.More Button

There are a lot of specific questions there. I will do my best to answer them in the time allocated. I did receive the Deputy's letter and have read it. I am not sure if he received the response...More Button

-----but it is in train. In respect of legislation, we would expect to have the public and community safety Bill next year, which will bring into law many of the recommendations made by Kathleen O...More Button

On the housing Bill the Deputy asked about, I do not have a timeline but will ask the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, to communicate with the Deputy and update him on it. I do not yet have the r...More Button

Our response to crime has to be twofold. As a former British Prime Minister once said, we need to be tough on crime and also tough on the causes of crime. We are tough on crime by increasing Ga...More Button

The north-east inner city initiative is a very good one. We have yet to see whether it has had good outcomes. What has been done has been very good. It is probably too early to judge whether t...More Button

The answer to the Deputy's initial question is "Yes". We are considering a revised and new approach to target areas of particular disadvantage in the State. There are a lot of programmes already,...More Button

I am sure the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, will publish that report in proper order. The Government very much acknowledges that we have real difficulties in our health service when it comes...More Button

The Deputy mentioned the HSE report. It has not gone to Government yet so it could be difficult for me to answer that question as it is not a Government report and has not gone to Government yet.More Button

I will certainly make inquiries about it. I do not see any reason it cannot be published, although there may be a reason I am not aware of as it is not a Government report.More Button

I cannot make a commitment on behalf of the Government to publish a report that is not a Government report. I will have to find out if there is a reason it has not been published yet.More Button

To answer the Deputy's question further, I think she accused me of being in denial about the facts. What we both did is this: the Deputy gave some facts which are true and I gave other facts that ...More Button

I would ask Deputy Shortall to bear in mind that there is a bigger picture and, when we take her facts and my facts, we get to the truth. The Deputy is only talking about one set of facts.More Button

Ceisteanna ar Reachtaíocht a Gealladh - Questions on Promised Legislation

I am afraid I am not but I will make inquiries with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and ask him to provide the Deputy with an update on the project. I am encouraged that the Deputy i...More Button

The Deputy has yet to say which projects he wants to be reviewed.More Button

They want to know if the Deputy is going to cancel the roads programme.More Button

He said it should be reviewed but he refused to say which projects he wanted reviewed.More Button

The Deputy is well aware I do not control this House or the other House so I cannot make any commitments when it comes to the passage of legislation or the speed thereof. What I can say is that Ul...More Button

As the Deputy knows, my preferred candidate for the position of European Commission President was Manfred Weber, the candidate of my party, and I fully appreciate that the preferred candidate for D...More Button

I am coming to that. We came up with a compromise candidate, Ursula von der Leyen, the first female head of the European Commission, a really good candidate, a really experienced person, and someb...More Button

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

It has been the case for a very long time in Ireland that when it comes to the reimbursement of new medicines the private system follows the public system and the private sector and health insurers...More Button

Tá an Bille réidh anois. Beidh cruinniú deireanach an Rialtais ann i gcúpla seachtain. Beidh plean againn an Bille a fhoilsiú ag an bpointe seo.More Button

The Deputy raises a very serious and dangerous activity. It happens in my constituency and, I know, it happens in Deputy Shortall's constituency as well. There has been thought given to it. A cr...More Button

The answer to both the Deputies' questions is "Yes" on both accounts. We currently have a political agreement between the EU and Mercosur. It will be about two years before we have a legal text. ...More Button

I would be happy to answer the Deputies' questions and charges if I am permitted to do so. The vast majority of people in Ireland own their own home. Approximately 68% of Irish people own their h...More Button

We have to consult with the Central Bank about the legislation that the Deputies mention.More Button

There is a real concern, which should be recognised in this House, that as is so often the case, well-intentioned legislation can be counterproductive. The result might be the shutting down of mor...More Button

It would cause mortgage interest rates to rise for others.More Button

That is a real risk in such legislation.More Button

It is well-intentioned legislation that actually hurts many people, making it harder for them to get a loan in the first place. It increases interest rates for those who already have a loan. Once...More Button

It is an important issue. I will see the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine tomorrow morning and will ask him to contact Deputy Murphy O'Mahony with a reply.More Button

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 pub...More Button

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 inc...More Button

-----earning less than 60% of the median income. It does not mean they are in poverty.More Button

I genuinely apologise if the Deputy has not received replies to those queries.More Button

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 le...More Button

The Deputy should read his correspondence.More Button

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. ...More Button

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 m...More Button

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 w...More Button

Death of Former Member: Expressions of Sympathy (Continued)

I never had the privilege of meeting Mark Killilea, but I am delighted to learn that we shared a love of Tina Turner. I am happy to advise the House that she and I are not currently in corresponde...More Button

Or ever, by the way, just in case the Deputies wanted to ask.More Button

I am grateful to have this opportunity to pay tribute to a member of the Fianna Fáil family who gave a lifetime of service to our country. These tributes, which we pay on occasion in the Dáil, a...More Button

Mark devoted his life to helping others and to helping the country, and by honouring him and others like him, we remember why we became involved in politics in the first place and are inspired to...More Button

Bhí an-ghnaoi agus an-mheas ag an bpobal ar Mark Killilea mar pholaiteoir a rinne fónamh dár dtír mar chomhairleoir Contae, mar Sheanadóir, Mar Theachta Dála, mar Aire Stáit, mar Fheisire de Phar...More Button

In many ways, Mark Killilea epitomised the spirit of public service. His father, also Mark, was a founding member of Fianna Fáil and served as a Deputy for almost 34 years.More Button

Markeen, as he was known to many of his friends, inherited a belief in helping others as well as a love of community. He served the people of Galway and our country with distinction.

&nbs...More Button

Cabinet Committee Meetings

Was asked: the number of times Cabinet committee E, health, has met in 2019; and when it last met.More Button

Was asked: when Cabinet committee E, health, last met; and when it will next meet.More Button

Was asked: when Cabinet committee E, health, last met.More Button

Was asked: when Cabinet committee E, health, last met; and when it is next scheduled to meet.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 4, inclusive, together.More Button

Cabinet committee E last met on 22 November 2018. A date for the next meeting is being scheduled for later this month. In addition to the meetings of the full Cabinet and of Cabinet committees,...More Button

This year will see the highest ever level of health funding in the history of the State in order to transform the health service to one that can meet the changing needs of the population and be r...More Button

We have also committed close to €11 billion in capital investment over the next ten years in the national development plan, Project Ireland 2040, to provide the infrastructure required for expand...More Button

While there is a need for increased investment in the health service, reform and productivity gains must happen as well. These gains are not always easily realised and require a long-term strate...More Button

The Government is advancing a significant programme of reform to ensure meaningful and sustained improvement in the health service in the future.More Button

The publication of the Sláintecare action plan for 2019, the first of what will be annual plans, sets out in a detailed and quantifiable way how the ambitious ten-year reform programme will be ad...More Button

The guiding principle of Sláintecare is to provide the right care, in the right place, at the right time. Recent advancements include the following measures. Reduced prescription charges, reduc...More Button

Was asked: when Cabinet committee D, infrastructure, last met; and when it will next meet. More Button

Was asked: when Cabinet committee D, infrastructure, last met; and when it is scheduled to meet again.More Button

Was asked: when Cabinet committee D, infrastructure, last met; and when it will next meet.More Button

Was asked: when Cabinet committee D, infrastructure, last met.More Button

Was asked: when Cabinet committee D, infrastructure, last met; and when it will next meet.More Button

Was asked: the number of times Cabinet committee D, infrastructure, met in 2019.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 5 to 10, inclusive, together.More Button

Cabinet committee D works to ensure a co-ordinated approach in the areas of infrastructure investment and delivery, including housing and climate action. The Cabinet committee last met on 27 May...More Button

Significant progress is being made on the implementation and delivery of Project Ireland 2040 and projects promised for many decades are now well under way. Through the national planning framewo...More Button

The four funds launched under Project Ireland 2040 have a total of €4 billion to invest across the areas of rural and urban regeneration and development, climate action and disruptive technologie...More Button

The Land Development Agency, another cornerstone initiative of Project Ireland 2040, was established on an interim basis in September 2018 and is working to ensure the optimum management of State...More Button

Housing continues to be a priority for the Government and we have seen strong growth in housing completions and leading indicators such as planning permissions, commencement notices and housing r...More Button

There was also strong delivery of publicly funded social housing in 2018. We are aware of significant challenges in meeting housing demand and tackling the ongoing failures in the housing market...More Button

Delivering on our EU climate commitments for 2030 and transitioning to a competitive, low carbon, sustainable economy by 2050 are also priorities. We are investing €22 billion in climate action ...More Button

Cabinet Committee Meetings (Continued)

I thank the Deputies for their questions. On the possibility of the need for a supplementary estimate for the health service, I have not seen the precise comments of the Ministers, Deputies Harris...More Button

In percentage terms, it was not dissimilar to the kind of overruns we have now. The record for the biggest health supplementary ever was under a Fianna Fáil led Government. About €1 billion had t...More Button

On the recruitment of doctors, all the questions asked by Deputy Burton were asked by Deputy Shortall earlier but I am happy to do her the courtesy of giving the answers again. The Deputy is cor...More Button

There are more joining it than leaving. The HSE and Medical Council numbers show that. Overall, the number of people working in the health service has increased by 10,000 over the past three year...More Button

On the number of consultants working in the public health service, as I said, this continues to grow year on year. The number increased by 109 in the past 12 months. There are, however, signifi...More Button

The HSE recently prepared a report in response to a request from the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, and the Department of Health to consider the issues raised in the judgment of Mr. Justice ...More Button

Several initiatives are being pursued by the HSE to advance consultant recruitment and retention, including improvements to the recruitment process, which is very cumbersome; offering contracts t...More Button

While several hundred consultant posts are difficult to fill at present, only 20 are currently being advertised. The reason is that many of the posts are filled on a locum or temporary contract ...More Button

On the issue of new entrant consultants' pay and the proposals of the Public Service Pay Commission, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has said that outstanding matters will be give...More Button

As always, I am happy to continue.More Button

I am in the Leas-Cheann Comhairle's hands.More Button

It takes less time to ask a question than it does to answer it, as everyone can appreciate.More Button

On Deputy Boyd Barrett's question, he will appreciate that at this stage I cannot comment on individual cases. We have a system for deciding which medicines are licensed and which are approved f...More Button

Deputy Howlin asked about healthcare assistants. I am not familiar with the report he mentioned so I will have to check into that. I have not yet had a chance to read the newspapers today but I a...More Button

On 17 June, the Government published the climate action plan, which aims to give Irish people a cleaner, safer and more sustainable future. This far-reaching plan sets out the actions across elect...More Button

I am always amused and bemused that Deputy Micheál Martin likes to accuse me of being partisan and personal yet, as evidenced by his name-calling today, he is very capable of being partisan and per...More Button

In terms of capital spending, the budget for health is €10 billion for the next ten years, running from 2018 to 2028. This means the budget for health is double what it was for the previous ten ...More Button

As Deputies will have noted, the summer economic statement provides an extra €200 million in a capital reserve for 2020. This is an increase in the capital ceilings for next year of €200 million...More Button

The capital plan is set out in the national development plan. Deputies will be aware that in 2018 no annual plan was published yet lots of projects were constructed, including primary care centr...More Button

On the national maternity hospital, Ireland's first national maternity strategy, Creating a Better Future Together - National Maternity Strategy 2016-2026, was published in January 2016. It repr...More Button

In terms of progress on the relocation project, work has already commenced on the new pharmacy and the extension to the car park. This work commenced in February and is required to clear the sit...More Button

On the Rotunda, it is a longer term project. As everyone will know, the Rotunda hospital is moving to the Connolly hospital campus. We are seeking development funding to allow the planning and ...More Button

On the use of coal and gas, it is planned to take coal off the grid in 2025. We would like to do it sooner but at the moment the ESB cannot assure us that it can be done safely sooner because of...More Button

On natural gas, it is impossible to say. As I said before in this House, it is likely that we will use natural gas as part of our energy mix for the foreseeable future, certainly into the next f...More Button

Departmental Staff Data

Was asked: the staff numbers in his Department by grade in each of the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Defence Forces Equipment

Was asked: if funding has been provided for the provision of replacement of Defence Forces MOWAGS armoured personnel carriers; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button