When we last discussed the Bill I was posing a series of questions on the preparation and implementation of the UN convention to the Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath. I will add a couple of other issues to that. Will he outline in his response if there has been any formal structured consultation process with civil society, and specifically with people with disabilities, since the publication of the roadmap to ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in October 2015 to inform the Bill? We were supplied with documents from the likes of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission with observations on the general scheme of the Bill. The Minister of State might remember that early in this Dáil we had a meeting of campaigners for disability rights in Dublin Bay North, organised by, among others, the great Mr. Martin Naughton, who sadly passed away subsequently. The Minister of State was not present that night but the issues arose around levels of consultation.
Welcome to the website of Thomas P. (Tommy) Broughan T.D. I am an Independent Deputy for the Dublin Bay North Constituency and have represented our constituency in Dáil Éireann since 1992. The information and contacts on these pages will give you a fair idea of my work on behalf of my constituents. You may look up my information clinic times, email address and phone numbers. I always welcome support from constituents and friends in providing assistance with my political work. I will be delighted to hear from you on any matter, whether local or national
I am delighted to speak in support of the Industrial Relations (Right to Access) (Amendment) Bill and congratulate our Sinn Féin colleagues, specifically Deputy David Cullinane, on bringing this timely Bill before us. Deputy Cullinane also held an informative briefing recently at which representatives from some of our major unions were present and showed quite clearly the difference this Bill, if passed through these Houses, would make for trade union members. I note this wide level of support across the trade union movement.
Following the horrific and shocking RTÉ Investigates programme “Living on the List” which aired recently, Deputy Broughan asked a large number of Parliamentary Questions to the Minister for Health, Simon Harris. One of those questions was for the Minister to outline the number of acute hospital beds in 1987, 1997, 2007 and 2017 and to outline the number of consultants or specialist doctors per capita in each of those years also.
I am delighted to have this brief opportunity to speak in support of Deputy Brophy’s National Famine Commemoration Day Bill 2017. The Bill is almost an exact replica of an earlier Sinn Féin Bill, the Famine Memorial Day Bill 2016, which also called for the setting up of a national day of commemoration on the second Sunday of May each year.
It is quite shocking, when one thinks about it, that we do not have a set, national day of commemoration to mark the greatest tragedy ever to befall our people, an Gorta Mór, when 1 million people perished, another 1 million fled our shores. Continuing into the early 1850s, a total of 2 million or 2.5 million fled the country and gave rise to the Irish diaspora. We did have famines before then, in the 1740s and so on. The timing and the incredible horror of the events of the 1840s marked a truly iconic watershed in our history.
Over the last few weeks there has been much reflection on the Taoiseach’s political career and what happened under his Governments. I wish to focus on a very bad decision by his Government in the brutal budget of 2012, which I strongly opposed. In that budget the pay related social insurance, PRSI, contribution rates, which numbered four down through the decades, were expanded to six. People with average contributions of between 20 and 47 who have become pensioners since 2012 have suffered very significantly.
I asked the Taoiseach about this earlier but I still find the answers supplied to my colleague, Deputy Boyd Barrett, a bit dispiriting. The 43,000 pensioners referenced will still be at a loss as the months and years go on. Has the Minister made any attempt to begin costing and ensuring we can have a gender-proofed universal pensions with a move to a system of caring credits?