Members may remember that in the late 1990s on behalf of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, I brought forward the first trade union recognition Bill to the House. That was in the early part of the struggle to win trade union recognition for SIPTU baggage handlers who worked for Ryanair. So it seems incongruous tonight, so many years later, that we should need to have this debate regarding the negotiation rights of a significant cohort of key public service workers, the National Ambulance Service Representative Association, NASRA, which is a branch of the Psychiatric Nurses Association, PNA.
When this Government started in 2011, we had a second budget – a mini-budget – that year. In 2009, we had a kind of major budget to address the deficiencies in the 2008 budget. If there is a general election this year, it is probably inevitable that we will have a second budget. After the revisions and rescheduling that we discussed in the House last week, is it not likely that regardless of what happens on Brexit, the Government, if it is still in office, will have to come forward with another budget?
The Taoiseach might recall that last week I asked him and the Minister for Justice and Equality what steps are being taken in response to an appalling shooting and murder in my constituency. That dastardly crime was the latest in a litany of gun murders, which include tragic victims recently in Swords and Leixlip. The Minister for Justice and Equality told me in January that the Garda’s Operation Hybrid had resulted in 86 arrests and the seizure of 91 firearms, including machine guns and assault rifles. I welcome the work of the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau in the investigation of gun crime but the number of firearms seized in almost four years seems low by comparison with the number of reported crimes. There is a significant number of unsolved gun crimes.
Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade when a decision will be made on the appointment of Ireland’s next EU Commissioner. [7998/19] I put this question about the appointment of our next EU Commissioner earlier to the Taoiseach and he referred it to the Tánaiste. We heard that the current Commissioner, our former colleague, Mr. Hogan, has indicated that he is positively disposed to another five-year term, as of course he would be. What about the role of this House in the appointment? For example, is it a matter for the confidence and supply agreement with Fianna Fáil in this type of coalition Government or is it such a fundamental choice, for example, in agriculture or financial matters, in the post-Brexit era, that this House should be intimately involved?
Today, during Leaders’ Questions, Deputy Broughan has called on the Taoiseach and Fine Gael to ensure that the need for a Garda Station and greater police presence is highlighted with Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris. Deputy Broughan told the Taoiseach that some districts of Dublin Bay North have being suffering greatly from burglaries, car theft and related joyriding, illegal dumping and serious nightly anti-social and criminal behaviour. Deputy Broughan said that while nationally homicides and a number of other crime categories thankfully fell in 2018, there are disturbing rises in several types of crime in recent figures recently presented at the DMR (Dublin Metropolitan Region) North Joint Policing Committee. These include assaults, burglary, criminal damage, thefts, public order incidents and domestic violence.
I am delighted to have this brief opportunity to contribute on the Bill. I commend the officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and nine other Departments on the work they have done in ensuring that we have some degree of readiness for a disorderly Brexit, which, of course, must be avoided at all costs. Like my colleague, Deputy Maureen O’Sullivan, I welcome the decision by Keir Starmer, Jeremy Corbyn and the UK Labour Party to move towards a second referendum to prevent a no-deal Brexit. I commend the work of the Tánaiste in involving our Irish-American colleagues, particularly at national congressional level, and bringing in the important lever of the 30 or 40 million Americans of recent Irish descent to try to even up the disparity in power between us and the UK.
Please note that my Saturday information clinics in Donaghmede are now at the earlier time of 10.30 and that my mobile information clinic is in Donaghmede Shopping Centre carpark itself (near the Newbrook Road entrance to the shopping Centre).
Due to these changes in access to parking at Donaghmede, I will now also be at Clonshaugh Shopping Centre from 9.45am and then Bayside Shopping Centre for 12.30pm.
Please keep an eye on my facebook and website for updates over coming weeks and apologies for any inconvenience caused.
This week, I started work on my Northsider Vol 27 No 1 and hope to have it with constituents towards the end of March. On Tuesday morning, I attended the Board meeting of the Coolock Development Council, of which I am a founding member. On Tuesday afternoon, I questioned the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty, about the possible indexing of social protection payments. I also raised ongoing concerns about JobPath with Minister Doherty.
I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak on the report. I commend the Chairperson, Deputy O’Dowd, and the rest of the Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport on their work in holding hearings on accessibility to public transport and presenting us, as Deputy O’Dowd noted in his introduction, with the “experiences of disadvantage, exclusion and unequal treatment” endured by citizens with disabilities, which is a significant cohort of Irish society. When reading the report, I was struck by the comment of our colleague, Senator Dolan, who represents the Disability Federation of Ireland, in late 2017 that people with disabilities “do not have their basic right to free movement”. That is a profound statement on the level of public transport and all other types of transport in the country.
I am not a member of the transport committee so I did not get a chance to follow this debate but I sought to do something similar with amendment No. 45. The Minister spoke to me about this earlier, I think. I refer to the references to SI 549 and the fact that the statutory instrument is the Irish enactment of Directive 2002/49/EC. I think the concern constituents have is that the statutory instrument would take precedence over the EU directive. This is more or less what I think my colleagues are referring to. If the EU intends to change Directive 2002/49/EC to take account of the WHO guidelines, which is what we all want to see, will we then have to issue a new statutory instrument?