You can watch my contribution here.
Regarding the Central Bank decision on new mortgage rules, I think the clarity we now have is welcome. I’m not sure why the lengthy deliberation was needed on the new proposals.
I’m not entirely happy with the outcome – maybe I’m not meant to be. I think it is incredibly unfair on people looking to move in to their second home – which may be their first family home. The tiering is welcome, with a clear distinction between First Time Buyers and Buy-To-Lets. I do think that the value at which a first time buyer steps from 10% to 20% is too low for people in Dublin. Nevertheless, we have a decision from the Central Bank.
Now it’s up to us to act on the supply side. And quickly – if renters are not going to be the collateral damage from the Central Bank’s move.
I appreciate the building strategies underway and investments proposed. Responsibility also falls to DCC with their new development plan this year. But we in here need to think about incentives on the taxation side to help free up under-occupied housing stock.
Continue reading here.
The government has made mistakes in attempting to set up Irish Water.
I was very happy to see that the new proposals were given 14 hours debate in the Dail as part of a motion on Irish Water, which will provide for further time and debate in the Dail as the relevant legislation is brought through the House in later weeks. This is to be welcomed, though of course much greater reform of our parliamentary democracy is still needed.
All of the details about the new proposals can be found here.
And you can watch my speech in the Dail on the new proposals by clicking here.
You will note from my Dail speech that I have been, and continue to be, critical of certain aspects of Irish Water. But I still believe that this new utility is necessary. Living in Dublin, people will know first hand what underinvestment in our water infrastructure has meant to us in reality – water shortages due to inadequate supply, water shortages due to broken pipes in cold weather, and 40% of water we are already paying for leaking in to the ground. A single utility, raising money specifically for investment where none was available before, will improve our water infrastructure, making the provision of water cheaper and more efficient.
This week I had the opportunity to comment in the Dail on Budget 2015.
Click here to see a video of my speech here.
I welcome the budget that was presented to us last week.
But, unfortunately, I cannot welcome the process around the budget.
Six years ago the country’s economy collapsed, and six years later nothing has changed when it comes to our national budget and the role of Dáil Éireann in that process.
Click here to continue reading.
During the debate on the Social Protection Bill I reiterated some of these points and you can watch the video here.
Fair funding of schools is back on the agenda as discussions ahead of budget 2015 get under way. I have been fighting to protect the rights of children who attend fee-paying schools, and the economic choices of their parents, since I was elected to Dáil Éireann in 2011.
To give you an idea of some of my work to date in this area:
In October 2012, I led the political campaign to protect fee-paying schools when they were further targeted for Budget2013. (Read my statement here). My main argument at the time, based on figures supplied to me by the schools’ Joint Managerial Board (JMB), was that the state did not subsidise fee-paying schools – in fact it was the other way around, with parents of children in fee-paying schools in fact saving the state money.
Continue reading here.
Debate in the Dáil
In December 2013, the Oireachtas Committee on Education & Social Protection published its report on the draft Education Bill which seeks to reform the admission process for primary and secondary schools. You can read a summary of their findings here and the full report here.
This report was debated in the Dáil today in advance of the first draft of the legislation being published in the next six weeks.
Click here to watch my contribution.
The Minister & Chairperson will know that this is an area I am very interested and involved in. The Minister will know this in particular as we represent the same constituency and have debated the general issue of admissions, as well as issues particular to our own constituency, many times in this chamber.
We have a problem with admissions in some areas. Where there is oversubscription for places. Massive demand for particular schools.
Which has given us a waiting list system – 11 years in some cases – that discriminates against people who may have recently moved to an area. A system which creates anxiety and stress for parents who are given a holding number and do not know if their child will ever actually get a place in the preferred school. And a system where often, children cannot be educated in their local community, in their local school.
Which is incredible when you think about it. Particularly at primary level. Sometimes to educate ones child there is no other choice but going down the fee-paying route, even when it may not be affordable. Stretches parents financially. That is unacceptable.
On Tuesday the Government took a number of actions on Garda reform:
Commission of Investigation
The Government decided to appoint Mr Justice Nial Fennelly, currently serving as a Judge of the Supreme Court, as Chair of the Commission of Investigation.
The Government also discussed draft terms of reference for the Commission of Investigation.
It was agreed that the Commission of Investigation should examine all matter of public concern relating to the issue of taping of conversations in Garda stations.
The full terms of reference will be finalised shortly, in consultation with Mr Justice Fennelly.
These terms of reference will be subject to approval by Dáil Éireann.
The administrative preparations for the formal establishment of the Commission of Investigation have been commenced.
Other Legal Issues Relating to Taping in Garda Stations
The Government also decided that An Garda Síochána and the Department of Justice & Equality should
– ensure the retention and preservation of all tapes
– complete a full inventory of all tapes
– devise arrangements to ensure that tapes can be accessed, as required and in accordance with the law
The Government noted that the President of the High Court has issued an instruction in the matter.
The Government also received a briefing on the latest position in the specific case related to Bandon Garda Station which has given rise to particular concern. The specific legal issues in this case will be dealt with through the courts.
The Government noted that two other inquiries relating to An Garda Síochána and its oversight (the Cooke and Guerin inquiries) are to be completed later this month.
A new Cabinet Committee on Justice Reform will be established immediately to oversee the development of proposals for an independent police authority, and other associated reforms to the policing and justice system.
The Cabinet Committee will be chaired by the Taoiseach and its membership will include the Tánaiste and the Minister for Justice & Equality.
It will make formal proposals to the Government for its consideration and final approval.
The Government also agreed that it is important that there be a full public debate on the issue of policing and justice reform. It will therefore bring forward proposals for a public consultation process in the coming weeks.
The Government’s intention is to have new structures, including the appointment of a new Garda Commissioner by open competition and the establishment of a new independent policing authority, in place later this year.
“We need a fair, transparent and modern enrolment process for primary schools.”
Many parents are facing difficulties in enrolling their children into primary schools due to numerous problems with the current system. The primary schools recognise this and are proposing a better way of managing demand in the country. The current system is certainly in need of urgent reform.
Due to the number of representations I receive on this issue I decided to raise it as a special issue in the Dáil.
To view my contribution please click here.
For a transcript of the debate please click here.
On Wednesday I spoke in the Dáil on the Industrial Development (Science Foundation Ireland) Amendment Bill.
This Bill extends Science Foundation Ireland’s remit to fund applied research, to support awareness of science and to enable it to fund collaborations in Northern Ireland and internationally.
We have a strong reputation and a proud history in science. You need only to visit the annual Young Scientists exhibition to know that this will continue. But the government also needs to prioritise its funding and direct it better. This Bill is central to that strategy.
To watch my full contribution here.
You can read my draft remarks here.
It’s time to end all the speculation and to have an open and honest debate about the choices facing government departments as we approach this most difficult of budgets. There is too much speculation in the public, because of the information vacuum, and it causing too much uncertainty.
This Government committed in the Programme for Government to opening up the budgetary process ‘to the full glare of public scrutiny’. Last December I asked Minister Howlin in the Public Accounts Committee about reforming the process, to which he replied that ‘the notion of someone coming into the Chamber to read out the secrets decided by Cabinet is crazy. We need to have much more public debate about the process.’ It is time now to honour these commitments.
The new committee could begin by meeting with the independent Fiscal Advisory Council, established by this government to independently help guide the budgetary process, and proceed from there, examining all issues: possible tax increases, reductions in social welfare, proposals for the property tax, the opportunity cost of the Croke Park agreement – there can be no more sacred cows in this debate. Choices being faced by Ministers should be considered, as well as possible alternatives that are seen to be ‘no-go’ areas.
Ministers Noonan and Howlin will make their decisions, but the Dail and the people should be allowed to see what the alternatives are. This should help the Government in its work, particularly when people see the stark choices facing us. Already this year the State has spent €11.3 billion more than it has earned and at the moment the proposed correction for next year is €3.5 billion. This is not going to be easy, but we can help guide everyone through the process.
The budget for 2013 and the measures to be contained therein will be too serious to simply announce on the day, as has happened before. No TD, on the Government benches or otherwise, can be expected to vote on budgetary measures that they have only seen that morning for the first time, or in the immediate run-up to the budget.
Today I spoke during the Dáil debate on the Personal Insolvency Bill 2012. I was glad to be able to participate on this important issue and will also be submitting a number of further questions on this to the Minister for Justice, following on from previous discussions we have had on the matter.
You can watch my full contribution here.