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Coveney, Simon

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. Nbr.


Leaders' Questions

With regard to the Deputy's last question, I am told that an executive director is about to be appointed after a long recruitment process. This is a new departure. It has taken time to get it rig...More Button

Waiting times are too long.More Button

Leaders' Questions (Continued)

That is why reducing waiting times for patients for hospital operations and procedures continues to be a key priority for the Government. A total of €50 million was provided to the National Treatm...More Button

The May waiting list figures show that 78,500 patients were waiting for an inpatient or day case procedure, which is down marginally by 800 on the previous year, but down by almost 7,200 when com...More Button

I do find it a bit much when Deputy Martin tries to take credit for some of the things that are offering marginal improvements at the moment but takes no responsibility for his own actions and thos...More Button

The Government is now trying to put more than 200 beds back into the system. We need to be realistic about the challenge we all face. We have for the first time a collective agreement on how to t...More Button

-----we would have some consistency of health policy, unlike in Deputy Martin's time in government.More Button

In its time in government, Fianna Fáil tried to bring in radical changes that did not work.More Button

We now have consistency of approach------More Button

-----such that we know where we are going. We are appointing a director to deliver Sláintecare. We are spending more on healthcare than ever before and putting beds back into the system that Fian...More Button

Many Deputies have dealt with children, parents and families who are impacted by scoliosis. We are aware of the pressures involved and the need for early intervention, given how scoliosis develops...More Button

On the other commentary, unlike Deputy McDonald's party, at least Fianna Fáil engaged at a time when the country needed a government and when her party showed no interest whatsoever in providing ...More Button

I refer to the activity figures for the week of 6 June in Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, where many of these operations and spinal fusions take place. The hospital expects to carry out 1...More Button

I have heard the Deputy raise this question before. To be honest, I was a little surprised by his argumentation given his knowledge of what it is like to try to steer a country through a financial...More Button

Next year, we are planning to spend an extra €3.4 billion in terms of the kind of service delivery the Deputy is asking for in housing, healthcare, transportation, education and so on. That is a...More Button

The €3.4 billion is in our view what the country should be spending next year, recognising the fact that we now have a strong economy with the capacity to fund that kind of increased expenditure. ...More Button

The €500 million rainy day fund is not part of that €3.4 billion. It is a prudent, sensible measure that has been recommended and supported in government to ensure that we do put some money aside ...More Button

In his first question, Deputy Howlin was asking us to borrow a whole lot more.More Button

What we have been doing - Deputy Howlin had a part in the first half of this - is fixing an economy to ensure it is fit for purpose and we do not create bubbles in any of its sectors. We have been...More Button

Sometimes it is hard to know where to start with the Deputy on this issue.More Button

Thank God we now have a single water entity that is trying to manage the challenges we face nationally.More Button

It is actually doing a reasonably good job.More Button

The reason we have so many leaks in our pipes is because we had more than 30 different entities managing water infrastructure in the past, many of which were under-resourced in terms of what they n...More Button

The approach for which the Deputy would advocate is to localise everything in terms of decision making, planning, expenditure and so on and we know the results of that policy, namely, leaks all o...More Button

I would like to thank Irish Water for the work it is doing in very difficult circumstances, the partnerships it is developing with organisations such as the IFA and other organisations and the part...More Button

Second, nobody is blaming householders. What we in government are doing is asking the country to respond in the way it did during other extreme weather circumstances earlier in the year, when co...More Button

Does the Deputy know how much has been saved in the last year? He should quote the whole truth.More Button

We need to increase the investment in water infrastructure. I am glad, therefore, that the Deputy focused on what is needed and not on the argument he has been making for years, which is that we s...More Button

The pressures we feel today remind us of the logic of the need for excess usage charges. If people are blatantly wasting water, is it fair that their neighbours should pay for it?More Button

Is it fair that during a summer-----More Button

Generally, when I get a response like that, it is recognition that the Deputy's own approach is fundamentally flawed.More Button

Sinn Féin's approach to water charges has been inconsistent and a joke, quite frankly.More Button

It would certainly not deal with the serious challenges the country faces this week, next week and later in the summer. Once again, I thank Irish Water for its work and the co-ordination it is pro...More Button

Order of Business (Continued)

I am glad the Deputy is making those points.More Button

Maybe it is the heat getting to the Deputy but I am glad that when he talks about any potential for coalition between Fine Gael and Sinn Féin, he says it with a smile on his face. The reality is t...More Button

My understanding is that there is no dispute among the Front Bench in my party on that issue. Maybe the Deputy should check his own.More Button

On childcare, nobody could criticise this Government for not being ambitious in trying to introduce a more affordable childcare model. The Minister, Deputy Zappone, has brought forward a hugely ex...More Button

Does the Deputy feel wanted this morning?More Button

Is the Deputy feeling wanted?More Button

First it is a matter for the Business Committee but I am certainly happy to make myself available for statements in advance of that British–Irish Intergovernmental Conference, BIIGC. We have been ...More Button

I will make sure that we get a more detailed note for the Deputy but my understanding is that amendments are being worked on for Committee Stage and this is more likely to be dealt with in the next...More Button

-----than in the next couple of weeks.More Button

A licence has been granted for this activity and a number of Ministers were involved in that decision. I believe the former Minister, Mr. John Gormley, was the first Minister involved. The propos...More Button

It is probably a bit dangerous for me to comment on individual tweets from individual Ministers but I am sure the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Naughten, will ...More Button

If a Private Members' Bill on climate action comes forward, I am sure the Minister of State and Minister will have an opportunity to outline, in some detail, the Government's ambition in this area ...More Button

This is a serious issue. Ireland looks very different now from what it normally looks like at this time of year. The Deputy is aware that grass growth is dramatically less than it normally would ...More Button

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Creed, set up a fodder group, which met last week, and Teagasc is keeping in close contact with farming organisations. Farmers will need...More Button

We have had many opportunities to debate the Project Ireland 2040 and how we will spend €116 billion over the next ten years to make that a reality. Like many towns, cities and other urban centres...More Button

I will not start going into individual projects-----More Button

-----on the floor of the House this afternoon.More Button

Military Uniforms

Was asked: the number of consents in writing he and his predecessors issued as per section 317(1) of the Defence Act 1954 to foreign soldiers entering or landing here in each year since 2003.More Button

The wearing of foreign military uniforms in the State is governed by Section 317 of the Defence Act 1954. The provisions of this section prohibit the wearing of a foreign military uniform without m...More Button

European Council Meetings

Was asked: the issues that were discussed at the EU meeting he attended on 25 June 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I attended the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg on 25 June, where Ministers discussed security and defence, the implementation of the EU Global Strategy, developments in the Horn of Africa ...More Button

My EU colleagues and I discussed ongoing work on security and defence issues, and took stock of progress on the implementation of the EU Global Strategy. Ireland continues to play an active role ...More Button

The UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, updated the Council on his efforts to prepare a framework for peace negotiations. Ireland fully supports the efforts of the UN Special Envoy and ...More Button

Following this, the Council discussed developments in the Horn of Africa and Red Sea region. I welcomed the resolve expressed by the EU to deepen its engagement in the region. I also debriefed th...More Button

Was asked: if he held bilaterals when he attended the EU meeting on 25 June 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

I had a bilateral meeting in the margins of the Foreign Affairs Council on 25 June with the new Spanish Foreign Minister, Josep Borrell. I congratulated him on his recent appointment and wished hi...More Button

We discussed Brexit and I updated him on the progress that has been made to date on Irish issues and on the UK Prime Minister’s December and March commitments in this regard. Minister Borrell co...More Button

In the context of Brexit, we also discussed the issue of Gibraltar, which is primarily being handled bilaterally between Spain and the UK. More Button

In conclusion, I welcomed Spain’s humane response to the migrants aboard the Aquarius and referred to the involvement of the Irish navy in search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean.More Button

I also held a bilateral meeting with the new Italian Foreign Minister, Enzo Moavero Milanesi. The discussion focused mostly on migration, and in that context the EU's Africa policy, and briefly o...More Button

I acknowledged the serious challenges faced by Italy on migration, underlining Ireland's solidarity with Italy and pointing to our continued commitment to operation Sophia through the deployment ...More Button

I underlined our ambition to strengthen the EU's policy on Africa and indicated a willingness to work closely with Italy on this.More Button

On Brexit, I thanked Italy for their support and solidarity and hoped that the new Italian government will be as strong in this support as compared to the previous government. The Minister, refer...More Button

Northern Ireland

Was asked: if he has spoken to or met the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland recently; the position regarding reconvening the Northern Ireland Assembly; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Over the course of many months, the Irish and British Governments, as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement, have worked tirelessly to support and facilitate the parties in their efforts to fo...More Button

The devolved, power-sharing institutions are at the heart of the Good Friday Agreement and are the best means for achieving accountable, representative decision-making for all the people of North...More Button

Unfortunately, to date, it has not proved possible to reach an agreement on the formation of an Executive, despite intensive engagement. In light of this, the Government has been working with th...More Button

I am in very regular contact with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley, as we seek a way beyond the current impasse. We met most recently in Cork on 11 June and will meet a...More Button

The Secretary of State and I have each conducted contacts with the Northern Ireland political parties to hear their views on how, at this stage, the two Governments can support the political proc...More Button

All parties have re-affirmed their commitment to operating the devolved institutions and provided views on their key concerns and issues to be addressed in seeking a way forward. More Button

In light of this, the Secretary of State and I are considering how best the two Governments, as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement, can chart a way forward that will give the best prospec...More Button

A meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference will take place on 25 July. The Government looks forward to this meeting of the Conference in accordance with the Good Friday Agreement...More Button

The Good Friday Agreement is the indispensable framework for providing stable, inclusive, power-sharing government for all the people of Northern Ireland and for sustaining our interlocking relat...More Button

Was asked: if he has spoken to or met with the leaders of Sinn Féin, Ms Michelle O'Neill and Deputy Mary Lou McDonald, since they met with Prime Minister May; the persons who attended the meeting; and if he w...More Button

I am in very regular contact with the leaders of Sinn Féin and of all of the political parties in Northern Ireland, in fulfilment of the Government’s role as co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreeme...More Button

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and I have each conducted contacts with the Northern Ireland political parties to hear their views on how, at this stage, the two Governments can suppo...More Button

All parties re-affirmed their commitment to operating the devolved institutions and provided views on their key concerns and issues to be addressed in seeking a way forward.More Button

In light of this, the Secretary of State and I are considering how best the two Governments, as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement, can chart a way forward that will give the best prospec...More Button

A meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference will take place on 25 July. The Government looks forward to this meeting of the Conference in accordance with the Good Friday Agreement...More Button

The Good Friday Agreement is the indispensable framework for providing stable, inclusive, power-sharing government for all the people of Northern Ireland and for sustaining our interlocking relat...More Button

Ministerial Meetings

Was asked: if he will report on his meeting with President Juncker when he was in Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

On Thursday 21 June, I attended a meeting between the Taoiseach and the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker. Also present were EU’s Chief Negotiator on the UK’s withdrawal fro...More Button

The meeting provided an important opportunity to take stock of the state of play in the EU-UK negotiations in advance of the June European Council, notably in relation to the draft Protocol on Ir...More Button

I welcome that President Juncker reiterated the EU’s full support for Ireland, and that the Protocol, including the backstop, is an integral and indispensable part of the Withdrawal Agreement. Th...More Button

I further welcome that the Conclusions adopted by the European Council (Art. 50) on 29 June sent a clear message to the UK that it must respect the commitments it has made and that, in the absenc...More Button

The Taoiseach and I and President Juncker shared the view that the talks should intensify with a view to making the necessary progress and I welcome that this has also been reflected in the Concl...More Button

The Taoiseach and I also discussed a number of other important EU issues ahead of the June European Council, in particular migration. While noting Ireland was less directly affected than other Me...More Button

Was asked: his plans to have a bilateral meeting with his Danish counterpart; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Ireland and Denmark have a close bilateral relationship, strengthened by our shared membership of the European Union where we share common positions on many issues. In the context of the Government...More Button

Ahead of the Foreign Affairs Council in April, I hosted a dinner for my Nordic, Baltic and Dutch colleagues, which Minister Samuelsen attended. We also regularly speak to each other at Council me...More Button

Departmental Expenditure

Was asked: the annual expenditure on commercial archaeology services in his Department by provider in each of the years 2013 to 2017 and to date in 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

There has been no expenditure on commercial archaeology services within this Department in the years 2013 to 2017, or to date in 2018.More Button

Ministerial Communications

Was asked: if he has written to or spoken to President Erdogan of Turkey; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Presidential and parliamentary elections took place in Turkey on Sunday 24 June.More Button

The preliminary conclusions of an OSCE/Council of Europe International Election Observation Mission are that voters had a genuine choice, despite the lack of conditions for contestants to compete...More Button

The re-election of President Recep Tayyip Erdoðan in the first round should be officially confirmed later this week and it is expected that the President will be formally inaugurated on 8 July. More Button

Neither the Taoiseach nor I have been in contact, in writing or in person, with President Erdogan.More Button

The European Union’s relationship with Turkey was considered at a meeting in Luxembourg last week of the General Affairs Council. The Council re-affirmed the importance it attaches to its relati...More Button

But the General Affairs Council also found that Turkey has been moving away from the European Union and that accession negotiations have, therefore, come to a standstill. Concerns were expressed...More Button

Electric Vehicles

Was asked: the number of charging ports and parking bays for electric vehicles at his Department building and other buildings used by his Department; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

No charging ports or parking bays for electric vehicles are provided at my Department’s buildings in Dublin or in other locations.More Button

Middle East Issues

Was asked: the degree to which reconstruction or improvement works in Gaza are being hampered by the Israeli authorities; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

All construction work in Gaza is severely hampered by Israeli restrictions on types and quantities of materials that are allowed into the Strip. This includes reconstruction of war damaged building...More Button

In my contacts in the region I have discussed a number of possible projects to improve conditions in Gaza, with Israeli and Palestinian leaders and others. An easing of restrictions imposed by Is...More Button

I am very conscious of the needs of the Palestinian people, and particularly the needs of those in Gaza. Last week, Ireland pledged additional humanitarian funding of €250,000 for the work which ...More Button

Was asked: the degree to which the situation in Gaza and the West Bank continues to be monitored by international interests; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

The situation in Gaza and the West Bank continues to be a major topic of international interest and discussions, even as multiple other crises and conflicts currently afflicting the wider Middle Ea...More Button

At EU level, issues relating to the Israel-Palestine conflict are regularly discussed at both Ministerial and official level. In the last six months, for example, the members of the Foreign Affai...More Button

The same issues are also discussed regularly at UN level, at the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Human Rights Council.More Button

In the last year, the United States Government has also been working to develop an initiative to restart negotiations for a final peace agreement.More Button

Ireland has worked consistently to encourage international attention to this long running conflict. I have made three visits to Israel and Palestine, including Gaza, in my first year in office, a...More Button

Disability Support Services

Was asked: if there is an access officer assigned to the Passport Office, Dublin; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

My Department, which has responsibility for the Passport Service, has a designated officer in its Human Resources Section to act as Access Officer. The Access Officer co-ordinates the provision of...More Button

The Department’s induction pack, which is provided to all new entrants, includes contact and role details for the Access Officer. The Department also has a dedicated Intranet page on disability ...More Button

The Department provides assistive technology and equipment to a number of staff with disabilities. Accommodation is provided as necessary for staff with disabilities participating in training ses...More Button

The Department’s Customer Service Plan commits to regularly reviewing public offices to ensure that they meet occupational and safety standards and ensuring that the needs of staff and customers ...More Button

Emigrant Support Services

Was asked: the estimated amount it would cost in 2019 to increase the budget allocated to the emigrant support programme by 15%.More Button

The budget for the Emigrant Support Programme in 2018 is €11.595 million and is unchanged in recent years.

  An increase of 15% on the 2018 budget would cost €1,739,250, leading ...More Button

Election Monitoring Missions

Was asked: the frequency with which the Irish Aid election observer panel is renewed; the rules of the application process for interested persons; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Was asked: the selection process for the election observer panel; and if he will make a statement on the matter.More Button

Human Rights

Was asked: the steps he has taken or will take over the widely reported issue of migrant family separations in the United States of America to help alleviate the situation.More Button

I was appalled by the images which recently emerged of immigrant children being separated from their parents at the southern US border and held in detention by the US authorities.More Button

I made my, and the Government’s, view of this policy very clear when I spoke on June 20 in the course of the Dáil debate on this issue.More Button

On that occasion, I stated that the policy of separating children from their parents was inhumane and simply wrong, and I urged the US Government to immediately reverse the policy.More Button

Ireland, in common with all Member States of the European Union, has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which establishes clear universal standards for protecting all children. ...More Button

As I stated in my contribution to the Dáil debate, I cannot see any way in which a policy of separating children from their parents in such circumstances could be said to be in the best interests...More Button

In advance of the Dáil debate, I spoke that afternoon with the Chargé d’Affaires in the US Embassy in Dublin, Mr. Reece Smyth, and conveyed to him the Government’s strong views on the issue. He ...More Button

I was pleased to see that, following the grave concerns which were expressed both domestically and internationally about the use of this policy, President Trump signed an Executive Order on the a...More Button

I very much hope that we have seen the last of this unwarranted practice and the priority now must be reuniting all of the affected children with their parents, without delay. More Button