I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak on the Bill. I note that it is part of the Government’s and the Minister for Justice and Equality’s pledged reform of policing and the overhaul of the legislative framework for An Garda Síochána. These promised reforms arise out of the plethora of reports and controversies over the past year with the Cooke, Guerin and Garda Inspectorate reports.
Deputy Tommy Broughan has expressed serious concern about huge delays and backlogs in the Fair Deal Scheme which have left 2,046 citizens waiting for nursing home care. He also referred to the negative effect of these delays on hospitals, including Beaumont Hospital where there are 86 people who are termed ‘delayed discharges’ and the majority of which who require long term care.
I thank the Ceann Comhairle for his kindness in giving me speaking time.
About a year ago, I was one of the Deputies who voted against the establishment of Irish Water. I foresaw that Irish Water would be a disaster and turn out to be the toxic brand it was described as last night. That is precisely what happened. Water taxes or charges are a step too far for constituents who have suffered so badly from health, education, social welfare benefit and other cuts since 2008 and the onerous and bullying imposition of the household property tax. At weekend information clinics, as I am sure other Members experience, people show me their weekly or fortnightly payslips with major deductions for PAYE, PRSI, USC, pension contributions, the weekly or fortnightly property tax payment and, now, the new water tax. A few months ago, I put it to the Taoiseach that this vital question, which is exercising people so much, should be put to people in a general election. We should have an immediate general election and let the people decide. Their views have not been listened to and I reiterate my call for that.
Deputy Tommy Broughan has renewed his call for the HSE to recruit staff to fill community mental health teams across Ireland, particularly in the North Dublin region. He has also urged Minister Kathleen Lynch to ensure that funds allocated for mental health services in the overall health budget continue to be ring-fenced and spent where they are needed. He said “it appears that mental health services in North Dublin are under huge pressure and ultimately this is because funding allocated to mental health is not being fully spent”.
Deputy Tommy Broughan has recently received figures from the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government, Alan Kelly, showing that only half of the promised social housing units for 2014 have been delivered. Deputy Broughan said Minister Kelly must urgently ensure that promised new social housing for this year is made available for some of the 90,000 households on social housing waiting lists. He also called on Minister Kelly to also fully implement all of the reforms promised under the government’s social housing plan announced under Budget 2015.
I am glad to have the opportunity to make a brief contribution on the Finance Bill 2014. The Bill implements the majority of the taxation changes announced by the Minister for Finance, Deputy Michael Noonan, in his Budget Statement of 14 October. Today, Deputy Eoghan Murphy suggested a change in approach in how budgets were invigilated by this Parliament and spoke about the need for a stronger Parliament overall. His comments in this regard are reflective of the views I have long expressed in the House, on approximately 24 Finance Bills. This is the 24th time I have been asked to invigilate the debate on the Finance Bill.
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