On Tuesday, during Topical Issues, I answered questions about the presence of Revenue Officers at out ports.
We discussed the deployment of officers and resources at our airports, harbours and coasts. I spoke about the intelligence based enforcement approach which uses data analytics, technology and various information flows to clamp down on smuggling and evasion.
You can watch a video of the discussion here.
The Budget for 2017 was announced on Tuesday. You can find all of the details here.
You can watch me introduce and debate the budget in the Seanad here (at 1:36).
Go here take a look at the new website which shows you how your money is spent.
To listen to an Irish Times podcast where we debate the politics of the budget go here.
We also debated aspects of it on Sean O’Rourke’s weekly gathering here (at 1:32).
You can see some of the highlight changes here.
On behalf of the Government I attended the recent Eurogroup meeting in Luxembourg with other European Finance Ministers to discuss the situation in Greece, as well as number of other issues.
You can find out more about the meeting here.
Recently I led a delegation to Singapore, Shanghai and Tokyo to promote Ireland’s International Financial Services, our IFS2020 strategy, and the European Financial Forum which I will be hosting in Dublin Castle in January. You can read more about the individual events here, here and here. (To see a press release about our overall activities, go here.)
In launching our new IFS-Ireland brand (details here) I had the opportunity to speak about the challenges and opportunities arising from Brexit, to make Ireland’s case regarding the recent Commission ruling on Apple, to highlight the strong investments already in Ireland, and to introduce Irish FinTech companies to key players in each country.
The details of the IFS2020 strategy, which aims to make Ireland the global location of choice for innovation and specialisation in financial services, and increase jobs in the sector by 30%, can be read here.
To see some pictures from the trip go here.
Banking Union in the EU is not just about supervision but it’s also about breaking the link between taxpayers and bank rescues by setting up a mutualised rescue fund – paid in to by the banks.
Recently I moved my first piece of Government legislation on behalf of the Minister for Finance, introducing the Finance (Certain European Union and Intergovernmental Obligations) Bill 2016.
This Bill will provide for a temporary loan from the Government to the rescue fund, to be used only in exceptional circumstances, and only until the rescue fund is fully in place (2024). It also has some measures to deal with white collar crime.
You can watch second stage of the debate here (at 8:13).
Our detailed discussion at committee stage is here.
Report stage sees further debate on amendments in the Dáil chamber here (at 5:13).
We discussed the Bill in the Seanad here (at 2:38) where the process continues, if there are no amendments, the Bill will be enacted.
Minister Noonan has asked me to chair a Working Group on the Cost of Motor Insurance. The Government is determined to tackle this as a priority. The group’s remit is to identify immediate and longer term measures which can address the increasing cost of premiums.
By the end of October I hope to have identified the priority actions required to tackle the high cost of your insurance and this will form the basis for an update report to the Minister for Finance. During November and December we will agree an action plan to enable the relevant Government Departments to commence the implementation of these priority actions.
The Finance Committee is holding public meetings to hear the views of interested stakeholders on the cost of motor insurance. The first meeting took place on the 7th September where I answered questions for over two hours. You can read my opening remarks to the Committee here. To watch a video of the proceedings at the Joint Committee, click here (at 3:15). And, you can watch all of the public proceedings via the Oireachtas player here. For the details of the meetings, go here.
The Government cannot set the price of premiums; what we can do is put the right people together, from Government and industry, and dedicate resources to identifying and implementing solutions that will help tackle escalating costs. This will not happen overnight but we are working day and night to solve this problem.
To read my recent opinion piece on the issue from the Irish Independent click here.
To hear our discussion on Sean O’Rourke, go here.
After many weeks of negotiations, Enda Kenny TD has been re-elected as Taoiseach and will lead the new government.
Having been involved in these negotiations, I’m very optimistic about what the new partnership government can achieve on behalf of us all over the coming months and years. Politics as we know it is hopefully about to change for the better.
For the confidence and supply arrangement with Fianna Fail, please go here.
For my thoughts on Irish Water, please go here.
For a list of the new Cabinet Members, please go here.
Following the election I was charged with producing Fine Gael’s Oireachtas Reform Programme for the new Dáil. You can read the document here.
I was delighted to be asked to sit on the Dáil Reform Committee, where we have agreed to some very important and fundamental changes to the way governments will carry out their business. The report of the Reform Committee will be presented shortly.
Recently we debated some of the changes being put forward. Watch the video here.
To read my pamphlet on the need for reform from 2013 go here.
On Thursday I spoke in the Dáil about the crisis in the Mediterranean.
Click here to watch a video of my speech or scroll down to read my comments.
I have a real problem with the word “refugee” because it is dehumanising. It is like when we use numbers – it takes away the humanity of an individual. When we say the word “refugee”, one makes associations with a person from another country, of another colour, ethnicity or creed. We do not see them as being like ourselves. They are but from a different place, from which they desperately need to get away. That is the only difference between us. Whether one says the word “migrant” or “refugee”, one is creating a distance because it interferes with our ability to face this crisis properly and deal with it. It is perhaps the greatest crisis or threat to the European Union project since its foundation. It is bigger than the euro crisis and the potential threat posed by Brexit.
Click here to continue reading.
I reflected on my involvement in the Inquiry in the Dáil and you can watch my speech here. My sincere thanks for everyone’s patience over the past 18 months as we carried out our work.