I am delighted to have the brief opportunity to speak on this health motion which, ironically, is being brought to us by the Fianna Fáil Party which played a large role in the almost annihilation of many aspects of the health system since 2008. When one looks at the basic information on the motion, that more than 660,000 people around the country are on a hospital waiting list, more than 100,000 outpatients are waiting for more than a year for an appointment and more than 46,000 outpatients are on a waiting list for more than 18 months according to figures from April 2017, most citizens will conclude that the health service is just not fit for purpose.
Please note that, due to the June Bank Holiday weekend, my weekly information clinics will not be taking place this Saturday, 3rd of June or on Monday the 5th of June 2017.
Please note that my Dáil and constituency office will also be closed until Wednesday the 7th of June 2017. For further details of the times and locations of my information clinics, please see the Contact section of this website.
Deputy Broughan has been assisting the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) with representations for funding restoration to allow it to meet pay restoration requirements for staff. Deputy Broughan recently met with Ms. Rosemary Keogh, CEO of the IWA and Ms. Joan Carthy, Advocacy Officer, where they succinctly laid out the grave difficulty for the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) and similar organisations with regard to restoring the pay of staff in line with current public service pay talks.
Like many other citizens, I was astonished by the Sean Fitzpatrick case. I recall the establishment of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement and believe that, especially since 2008/09, the organisation has been starved of the necessary skilled personnel and resources by the current and past 2 austerity governments. (I also recall the good work of the ODCE under Mr Paul Appleby in relation to housing management companies).
The current contest to be the next Taoiseach of Ireland is truly showcasing the worst of Fine Gael, right wing, conservative politics, with Minister Leo Varadkar sounding most Thatcheresque. The media narrative around the public sector pay restoration talks and public sector pensions serves only to try and pit employees of the public and private sectors against each other. Divide and conquer. Following the recent RTÉ Prime Time Investigates Programme which highlighted the number of the Defence Force personnel in receipt of social welfare payments, Deputy Broughan asked for the number of public sector workers in receipt of Family Income Supplement. In a reply received this week, the Minister for Social Protection, and aspiring leader, Leo Varadkar, stated that “the number of Public Servants in receipt of Family Income Supplement (FIS) is 3,629”.
With the deadline of July 1st for homeless families to be moved out of hotel rooms looming, Deputy Broughan has become increasingly concerned with the lack of suitable move-on options and lack of communication with the 1,256 homeless families around Ireland. In recent weeks, Deputy Broughan has been receiving a larger number of calls from parents living in hotel rooms with their children asking for information on their move-out dates and locations. The majority were concerned about the location and proximity to their children’s schools and support networks. Deputy Broughan raised the matter as a Topical Issue Debate on Thursday last, when Minister of State, Damien English, reconfirmed the Government’s commitment that hotel rooms would only be used in “exceptional circumstances” from July 1st.
One of the Minister’s many promises, which has been reiterated consistently over the year, was that by mid-2017 emergency hotel and bed and breakfast type accommodation for families would only be used in limited circumstances and would have largely been replaced by suitable permanent family accommodation through the delivery of additional housing solutions. Part 34 of Rebuilding Ireland includes a whole section on moving families out of hotels and recognises that accommodating family units in hotel arrangements is inappropriate for anything other than a short period of time. The document states an intention to move the existing group of families out of hotel arrangements as quickly as possible and to limit the extent to which such accommodation has to be used for new presentations. Deputy Coveney has continued to repeat that message over the past ten months, as has the Minister of State, Deputy English, setting 1 July as the target.
I am delighted to have this opportunity to speak briefly on this very important Bill and I thank the members of People Before Profit for the great work they have done on the Bill and for bringing it before us today. The timing of a discussion on this Bill could not be more appropriate or fortuitous. It seems that our housing and homelessness crisis has reached emergency heights. The idea of coming forward with a housing emergency measures in the public interest, HEMPI, Bill and to utilise the same type of dramatic action that we saw taken on behalf of the banks and the bankers six, seven or eight years ago is totally appropriate. It is what the Government should have done and what the next Government will definitely have to do after the next general election.
Following Michael Brennan’s recent article in the Sunday Business Post on An Garda Síochána’s use of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) systems, Deputy Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality about the status of legislation required to authorise the use this technology. Michael Brennan reported that the Attorney General had given advice that legislation would be required to allow for prosecutions deriving from use of the automatic number plate recognition systems by An Garda Síochána traffic corps.
We had an opportunity to discuss Brexit with the visit of Mr. Michael Barnier to this House last week. I commend the Ceann Comhairle on his role in allowing the Dáil to have that discussion, which was very valuable. A concern is that the impact of Brexit is beginning to be felt in our country. One area that has felt the impact, which has been made known to me, is the motor trade. We have seen a huge increase in the imports off used cars in the first quarter of 2017 compared to 2016. Has that been brought to the Minister’s attention as it is a matter of concern?