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Varadkar, Leo

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. Nbr.


Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions

I note at the outset that it is very sad that there are so many people, so many children, on waiting lists for healthcare and therapies. It is not good enough. I know that and I feel it very much...More Button

It is only right, however, that we in this House acknowledge that waiting lists for healthcare are now falling. The NTPF figures show that the waiting lists for outpatient appointments - that is...More Button

Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions (Continued)

That will be the first step in our plan to remove private practice from public hospitals.More Button

That is not correct.More Button

It is not like Deputy Micheál Martin to be partisan.More Button

I welcome Deputy Micheál Martin's acknowledgement that there has been a considerable reduction, of approximately 30%, in patients waiting for operations and procedures since the middle of 2017.More Button

And on a bipartisan basis, I want to acknowledge that the investment through the NTPF has worked. I know those on the left have an ideological objection to using the fund.More Button

It is something that Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael did together. I am glad that has worked and I am happy to acknowledge Fianna Fáil's role in encouraging us-----More Button

-----to increase funding for the NTPF, which has now worked and means that the number of people waiting for more than 12 weeks for a hip replacement, knee replacement, tonsils, veins, angiograms an...More Button

There is not a moratorium. Any post that is funded can be filled. There are more people working in our health service than there were this time last year, which is just a simple fact.More Button

I will answer the question on pay inequality for consultants again. I have discussed this as Taoiseach, working with the Ministers, Deputies Donohoe and Harris, and we are willing to make an off...More Button

We have always accepted that there is a housing crisis and shortage in the country. Nobody in any party in this House is in denial about that. I have not had a chance to read the Deputy's documen...More Button

I do not seek to hide behind facts or figures. I am just presenting the facts. The Deputy does not deny that those facts and figures are correct, which means there is legitimacy in what I am sayi...More Button

-----and appalling health and homelessness crises are now unfolding in Northern Ireland. If Sinn Féin really cared about health and housing, it would have gone into government in Northern Ireland,...More Button

The people who care about health, housing and the problems our country faces are those who spend 16 or 18 hours every day trying to fix them. Deputy McDonald does not care. She comes into this Ho...More Button

If Sinn Féin cared, it would have stayed in government in Northern Ireland three years ago-----More Button

-----and solved these problems.More Button

I spent some of the morning in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs with the Minister, Deputy Zappone, where I had the privilege of formally launching the national childcare scheme, which i...More Button

-----or somebody who looks after a few children in his or her house after school or an au pair. We do not want to over-regulate, undermine or get rid of that system because if we did, it would be ...More Button

We must also bear in mind that some people who are childminders have a bad record when it comes to how they deal with children, as we learned to our detriment when it came to foster parents in th...More Button

-----and we need to make sure we do not make those mistakes again. This is a work in progress. We all acknowledge that we need to get the balance right in protecting children but also making sure...More Button

I will do that. I have been very engaged with the Minister in the past couple of days but it has been mainly around making sure the national childcare scheme was successfully launched, which it ha...More Button

This is nothing to do with austerity. Thankfully, in Ireland, austerity has been over for more than three years. As a result of that, unemployment is a third of what it was not too long ago in 20...More Button

We also want to make sure that we will still have a State pension system when people who are now in their forties and fifties retire. The way it works is that people and employers pay PRSI and i...More Button

One of the other factors that the Deputy neglected to mention is that pretty much every country in Europe is increasing the retirement age.More Button

They are increasing it at different rates and at different times but every country is increasing their retirement age because every country knows that is how one must respond to the fact that life ...More Button

The Deputy has once again demonstrated the fact that he does not understand how the social market economy works. His solution to the emerging pension crisis is to tax employers more, tax jobs and ...More Button

It is partly because we have kept taxes on businesses and employers low. The other countries the Deputy spoke about have unemployment rates of 10%, 15%, or 20%. Those countries tax their employer...More Button

Ceisteanna ar Reachtaíocht a Gealladh - Questions on Promised Legislation

I thank the Deputy. I am concerned and worried that so many children and teenagers are getting involved in drug gangs. Our response must be one that is tough on crime and tough on the causes of c...More Button

We discussed Deputy Curran's Bill at Cabinet on Tuesday and the Government will support it. We think there are some issues with it and we do not want to inadvertently criminalise children, which...More Button

The Deputy makes a valid point that the report shows that only about 1% of people in these communities are involved in gangland crime. That is why we, I include myself, should not use the term "ga...More Button

The Deputy is correct to say that the budgets for the drugs task forces were reduced until 2014 and have been held at that level since. This is something on which the Minister of State with resp...More Button

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

I thank the Deputy. This is a problem we have been working on for quite some time. We are struggling to come up with a solution, one that I am very familiar with from my time as Minister for Soci...More Button

We have a difficulty with the semi-State organisations as well. Quite a number of them have very large deficits and if those deficits are put on the balance sheets of those companies, they would...More Button

We do not want to put them in a situation where they have to cancel their capital plans because their balance sheets have changed.More Button

It is not, but it is a complicated matter.More Button

I thank the Deputy. I am very sorry to hear about that case. I do not know the details but if the Deputy passes them on to my office or the office of the Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath,...More Button

The Minister of State is before a committee this morning so the Deputy may wish to take his question to him directly in the committee. If that is not possible, I will certainly let him know that t...More Button

Gabhaim buíochas leis an Teachta as a cheist. Tá brón orm nach bhfuil an tAire Oideachais agus Scileanna anseo but I will inform him that the Deputy raised the issue of St. Brogan's college in Ban...More Button

An extra million home help hours are provided for in budget 2020. Given the massive unmet need, the Minister for Health is examining whether he can start allocating the hours now rather than waiti...More Button

We are facing difficulties finding home help staff now. As is often the case, when we have the money we do not have the staff and when we have the staff we do not have the money. As we approach...More Button

I will have to have that checked out. It was my understanding that the final say on whether someone is self-employed was made by the scope section of the Department of Employment Affairs and Socia...More Button

I wish to pick up on one point. Deputy Michael Moynihan mentioned that people paying PRSI at S class do not receive any benefits. That is not correct. One of the major reforms we have made in ...More Button

I think greater use of hospitals like those in Ennis, Nenagh, Mallow and Bantry as well as others, including the hospital in Loughlinstown in Dublin, makes good sense.More Button

Yes. I have done so and I will do so again. It needs to be done safely though, because sometimes going to a smaller hospital for triage may delay treatment for someone who is seriously ill. It n...More Button

There is lots of different legislation happening in this area. The Judicial Council Act 2019 has been enacted. The Personal Injuries Commission will report, hopefully, sooner rather than later. ...More Button

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda is under a lot of pressure, as many hospitals around the country are. However, it is a hospital that has improved extraordinarily in the past couple of yea...More Button

I pay tribute to the staff in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, for turning that hospital around in the past couple of years. When I was Minister for Health, it was always at the top of th...More Button

As for Dundalk, another very good hospital, it has a great minor injury unit. I would like to see people use it more. I had the pleasure to visit it with the Deputy a number of years ago. Howe...More Button

GPs across the country are working hard and they are under a great deal of pressure. Such demand for healthcare is a consequence of a rising population and also an ageing population. However, the...More Button

It is important to put on the record of the House that notwithstanding what one might think from the newspapers or the media, we now have more GPs in Ireland than ever before, more GPs who have a...More Button

As for what we will do to make sure that continues, we are increasing the number of GPs we are training every year. The number of training places is now being increased every year. I am pleased...More Button

Pre-legislative scrutiny took place in November and a report is being prepared. Once that is completed, it will go to the Attorney General's office for drafting.More Button

The Minister, Deputy Creed, is not here but I will ask him to check it out and respond to the Deputy. I would hope that in the event of a storm we would offer a safe harbour and safe port to ships...More Button

I am very sorry to hear about that case and I hope it is resolved soon. It is, of course, illegal for me or the Minister for Health to intervene to direct the HSE to do anything when it comes to a...More Button

The Deputy is correct in saying that we do not have enough bed capacity. That is absolutely true. We used to have 12,000 beds in our hospital system. We had 12,000 in 2005. Fianna Fáil and th...More Button

Cabinet Committee Meetings

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

Was asked: when the Cabinet committee on infrastructure last met.More Button

Was asked: when the Cabinet committee on infrastructure last met; and when it is next expected to meet.More Button

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

Was asked: the number of times the Cabinet committee on infrastructure has met to date in 2019.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, together.More Button

The Cabinet committee on infrastructure last met on 4 November and is next scheduled to meet on 16 December. In 2019, Cabinet committee D met twice, and post the restructuring of Cabinet committ...More Button

Significant work is continuing to deliver Project Ireland 2040. Recent projects delivered on budget include the M11 Gorey-Enniscorthy road, which was under budget, the N22 Tralee bypass, the Lua...More Button

As we know, effective project delivery needs effective governance. The Government is considering some reforms to oversight and governance of project selection, appraisal and delivery. This incl...More Button

Was asked: the Cabinet committee that discusses agricultural matters; and when it last met.More Button

Issues relevant to the agriculture sector can arise, as required, at a number of Cabinet Committees, including the Cabinet Committee on the Economy, which most recently met on Wednesday 4 September...More Button

Cabinet Committee Meetings (Continued)

I thank Deputies for their questions. The Cuisle holiday home is operated by the IWA but is not owned by that body, as Deputy Martin Kenny mentioned. I acknowledge that there are real concerns fr...More Button

-----which called for the reprofiling of funds away from roads to public transport, even though Project Ireland 2040 already favours public transport over roads at a 2:1 ratio. It is on the record...More Button

I think it is part of an increasingly anti-rural agenda by the Fianna Fáil party, opposing the national broadband plan, advocating that we cut back the roads budget-----More Button

-----and going down a road that will end in the banning of the burning of turf and wood in rural areas-----More Button

-----which Fianna Fáil seems to want to support, even though it does not seem to realise it.More Button

I do, of course, understand why it is doing this. The party wants the Greens to put it in office after the next general election. I totally understand the strategy behind that but Fianna Fáil c...More Button

Updating the profile for Project Ireland 2040 is done twice a year at the time of the budget and the summer economic statement. There is an online tracker, which I accept is not up to date, but we...More Button

I just said that.More Button

We will update it.More Button

Deputy Howlin asked about the new national maternity hospital. It is our policy that the hospital will be publicly owned and that the land it is on will be in public control. It is important to...More Button

On the railway line to Maynooth, I will not irritate Deputy Burton by listing all the achievements of Fine Gael and Labour in the five years that we served together in government. I will mention...More Button

-----and Kildare lines. It is now 2019, so 2021 is just under two years away. They are on order. If they could come any faster, they would but no Government can make carriages come from Japan an...More Button

I will have to double check but I think the new locomotives are on order as well and they will by hybrids - electric and diesel. That will allow us to shift on a phased basis from diesel to elec...More Button

That is a big project. It is being done in phases.More Button

No, it is not but I cannot answer when I am constantly interrupted. I will send the Deputy a briefing because she is misinformed.More Button

National Economic and Social Council

Was asked: if he will report on the work of his Department with the National Economic and Social Council.More Button

Was asked: if he will report on the work of his Department with the National Economic and Social Council.More Button

Was asked: if he will report on the work of his Department with the National Economic and Social Council.More Button

Was asked: if he will report on the work of his Department with the National Economic and Social Council.More Button

I propose to take Questions Nos. 6 to 9, inclusive, together.More Button

The National Economic and Social Council, NESC, is an independent statutory agency operating under the aegis of my Department. The council analyses and reports on strategic policy matters releva...More Button

Future Jobs Ireland 2019 also includes a request for NESC to develop policy recommendations for the operation of transition teams to manage the impact of economic transition on vulnerable workers...More Button

I present council reports to Government prior to their publication, or prior to laying them before the Houses, as in the case of the annual reports. Council reports published in 2019 include Tra...More Button

I appoint members to the council under the National Economic and Social Development Office Act 2006 and the NESC (Alteration of Composition) Order 2010 - SI 603 of 2010. Each of the following se...More Button

A further six members are public servants, mainly Secretaries General, and must include a representative of my Department and the Department of Finance. The Secretary General of my Department, M...More Button

National Economic and Social Council (Continued)

I thank the Deputies for their comprehensive questions.More Button

On climate action, I welcome that Ireland has gone up seven places in the climate action index produced by environmental NGOs. We came from a very low base and, as such, the improvement is not s...More Button

I acknowledge our electric vehicle targets are ambitious. My understanding is that the starting point for all targets in the climate action plan was the extent to which we needed to reduce our gre...More Button

I will provide it if it exists. I am not sure it does. I will check that out.More Button

It is correct that there is a significant surplus in the national training fund. We are liberating some of the surplus. Some €300 million of it was assigned to human capital initiative announce...More Button

On the LDA, as Deputies will be aware, it has been established by statutory instrument but we need to put primary legislation in place to give it full powers and teeth. It has not been decided w...More Button

On land use, the scheme at O'Devaney Gardens is a good example of where we are following the advice contained in the land use report referred to by Deputy Martin Kenny.More Button

It is a high-density housing development on a city centre site involving housing for all and incorporating a mix of social and private housing as well as homes to rent. The Enniskerry Road site, w...More Button

I replied to several questions on the Connolly report earlier today. I will give consideration to whether the NESC could have a role in examining drugs policy and drug-related crime, but the bes...More Button

Civil Service Renewal Plan

Was asked: the way in which his Department provides collective leadership to the Civil Service renewal programme.More Button

The Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform has overall policy responsibility for the Civil Service renewal programme. The Civil Service Management Board, CSMB, provides collective ...More Button

Was asked: the way in which his Department provides collective leadership to the Civil Service renewal programme.More Button

The Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform has overall policy responsibility for the Civil Service Renewal Programme.

  The Civil Service Management Board (CSMB) ...More Button

Civil Service Renewal Plan (Continued)

As we all know, there is still a large gender gap at higher management levels in the Civil Service. The Civil Service renewal plan, whose implementation rests with the Minister for Finance for Pub...More Button

In terms of problems attracting candidates and retaining them in employment, the Public Service Pay Commission was established to advise the Government on aspects of the public service remunerati...More Button

There is also an appeals system, which was a very significant change to the approach taken by the former Minister, John O'Donoghue, and the former Minister, Jim McDaid, before that.More Button

IGEES is a very good project and is continuing to develop. Deputy Burton is right to point out that we have never had a woman at the head of the Department of Finance or the Department of Foreign ...More Button

 Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.More Button

Pre-European Council Meeting: Statements

I will attend a meeting of the European Council this Thursday and Friday, 12 and 13 December. It will be the first meeting chaired by Charles Michel, who took over as President of the Council on 1...More Button

In his wrap-up remarks today, the Minister of State, Deputy Cannon, will speak on the WTO issue and other external relations issues. I will focus my remarks on the other items on the agenda. Th...More Button

The European Union has a significant programme of work to undertake in the coming period, including implementing the strategic agenda which we adopted in June. This built on successful citizens'...More Button

For me, the priority is to build a consensus for our objective of achieving climate neutrality at EU level by 2050. As it is the best way to encourage other countries in other parts of the world...More Button

The Union's future budget will be the main topic for discussion at our dinner on Thursday evening. We will also discuss foreign policy and the World Trade Organization. At the last European Cou...More Button

As our prosperity has increased and our economy has grown, so have our contributions to the EU, and they are projected to increase considerably further in the next MFF. We benefit so much from o...More Button

On Friday morning, our day will begin with the euro summit, at which we will take stock of progress achieved by Finance Ministers on EMU reform since the last summit in June. This will be an opp...More Button

Commissioner Hogan, as Trade Commissioner, will also have a leading role.More Button

Taoiseach's Meetings and Engagements

Was asked: if he or his officials have met political leaders from Northern Ireland regarding the Northern Ireland Assembly.More Button

I met with Sinn Féin along with the Tánaiste on Tuesday, 26th November in Leinster House. Our discussions focussed on the political situation in Northern Ireland and on a time frame for post-elect...More Button

As I reported to the House on 27 November, I last met DUP leader Arlene Foster at the annual Remembrance Day ceremonies in Enniskillen on Sunday, 10 November, when we both participated in the lay...More Button

I spoke to SDLP leader Colum Eastwood by phone on 9th December 2019, when we discussed Brexit, the re-establishment of the Northern Ireland Executive and the influence of Irish MPs in Westminster...More Button

In November, I wrote to the new UUP Leader Steve Aiken to congratulate him on his appointment as party leader. More Button

I have not been in contact with the Alliance Party in recent weeks, although I spoke by phone with Naomi Long Alliance Party leader, on 8 October.More Button

The Tánaiste is in regular contact with all the Northern Party Leaders and keeps me fully briefed on developments. There are also ongoing contacts at official level. More Button

The Tánaiste and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland have confirmed that the two Governments are ready to take talks in Northern Ireland forward again immediately following the UK general...More Button

We believe finding final agreement on the issues outstanding in these talks can be done in a short period of time. A substantial talks process has already taken place during the period 2017 thro...More Button

The Government will continue to do everything in its power, in accordance with its responsibilities as a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, to secure the restoration and effective operati...More Button

Departmental Advertising Expenditure

Was asked: the expenses incurred by his Department to date in 2019 for the implementation of ongoing communications strategy initiatives that highlight schemes and programmes operated under the auspices of hi...More Button

Below is a table listing the figures requested by the Deputy.

  2019

More Button

Was asked: the expenses incurred by his Department to date in 2019 for the commissioning, development, production, promotion and online sharing of a video which highlighted schemes and programmes operated by ...More Button

Below is a table listing the figures requested by the Deputy.

  There are no video commissions currently planned for 2020 relating to schemes operated by my Department. However m...More Button

Was asked: the expenses incurred by his Department to date in 2019 for the implementation of ongoing communications strategy initiatives that highlight schemes and programmes operated under the auspices of hi...More Button

Was asked: the expenses incurred by his Department to date in 2019 for the commissioning, development, production, promotion and online sharing of a video that highlighted schemes and programmes operated by h...More Button

Departmental Expenditure

Was asked: the associated costs incurred by his Department in hosting the special Cabinet meeting in Trim, County Meath, on 6 December 2019; and the breakdown of the costs including transport, accommodation, ...More Button

The Cabinet meeting in Trim on 6th December last was held in the OPW Head Offices and therefore no rental/hire cost was incurred. There were no accommodation costs.

  Travel, ca...More Button

Departmental Advertising Campaigns

Was asked: the Government of Ireland-branded information initiatives to date in 2019 that carried out functions (details supplied) involving advertising and promotion on television, radio, newspapers and onli...More Button

Below is a table listing the figures requested by the Deputy. Officials from my Department, including the Government Information Service, have a coordinating and supporting role for national, cross...More Button

Was asked: the Government of Ireland-branded information initiatives planned in 2020 that will carry out functions (details supplied) involving advertising and promotion on television, radio, newspapers and o...More Button

There are no Government of Ireland branded information initiatives planned for 2020 in my Department. However my Department will participate in all appropriate initiatives as required, and in light...More Button

Departmental Staff Data

Was asked: the number of agency staff hired and-or engaged in the past five years to date; the cost per year of same; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Ministerial Travel

Was asked: the occasions on which he and each Minister used the Government jet from May 2016 to 2018 and to date in 2019; the date of each trip; the location and purpose of each trip; the costs incurred in re...More Button