I welcome the Minister, Deputy McHugh’s decision to give history special core status in the junior cycle following the review on whether history should remain an optional subject. I am aware that the NCCA had warned that making history mandatory for study at junior level could undermine recent junior cycle curriculum developments. We know that while history was not a mandatory subject in secondary school, up to now, more than 90% of pupils at junior cycle studied history.
I move:That leave be granted to introduce a Bill entitled an Act to provide for certain matters relating to the management and abatement of noise pollution and for that purpose to amend the Aircraft Noise (Dublin Airport) Regulation Act 2019 and the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 and to provide for related matters.
The outcome of Brexit will be a major consideration in framing the budget.I ask the Minister specifically about page 17 of the report of the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council, IFAC, where the council lays out elements of the economy it feels may be overheating. Most people do not recognise this. They see an economy that is slowing and a growth rate that has halved. What is the view of the Minister’s Department on this matter?
I am delighted to contribute briefly to the debate. I agree very strongly with the comments made by the Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts to the effect that State-funded properties should ultimately be owned by the State. That should apply to all voluntary projects, which many Members have been involved in over the years. It has to be ensured, however, that either the memorandum and articles or the granting of moneys ensures that the State, and the people of Ireland, are the owners of the properties. I echo that point because people have often been fearful in community projects, such as housing co-operative developments, that somehow or other the co-operative could be alienated into the private sector, with the State and community losing out.
I am glad the Minister hosted the budget forum and has been meeting all the advocacy groups. We have also met them. I agree with my colleague, Deputy Barry, on pensions. There is a gender gap concerning pensions, in particular, that the Minister said she might address. Among the advocacy groups that impressed us were the Children’s Rights Alliance and the No Child 2020 campaign. Many commentators and distinguished journalists, such as Mr. Fintan O’Toole, said we should have a children’s budget this year, irrespective of anything else, because we know that over 100,000 children live in consistent poverty while 250,000 live in poverty. We clearly need dramatic action in this regard.
A few weeks ago, Gannon Properties Limited submitted proposals for a large development of 1,950 residential units and 22,728 sq. m of commercial development in 15 blocks, up to 15 and 17 storeys high, in Clongriffin, which is part of the north-south fringe of Dublin city and Fingal county, and of the Dublin Bay North constituency. In general, much needed new homes are very welcome but, astonishingly, in this case 1,130 of the proposed apartments are intended to be build-to-rent. In the housing area in question, up to 9,000 individuals and families are waiting for accommodation on Dublin City Council and Fingal County Council housing lists. A remarkable feature of the application is that approximately one quarter of it has been sent to Dublin City Council, with the rest sent directly to An Bord Pleanála.
I thank the Acting Chairman for the opportunity to speak briefly in the debate on Brexit. With just 42 days to go, it is fair to say that citizens are deeply concerned about the efficacy or effectiveness of the Government’s preparations, especially for a no-deal outcome. We heard from the Minister for Finance at the Committee on Budgetary Oversight yesterday that budget 2020 will be formulated on the assumption of a no-deal Brexit by the UK at the end of October. That means the threats about Brexit and its imminence are directly affecting the lives of citizens and what they will do in terms of the social protection budget and the taxation plans, among others. The Minister said the 2020 budgetary strategy is to provide countercyclical support to the economy, including what he called “timely, targeted temporary measures for the sectors most exposed”. In the no-deal circumstances the Minister is forecasting there will be a deficit of the order of 0.5% to 1.5% of GDP in 2020, with a hit to revenue of up to €6 billion. They are astonishing figures however one looks at them and will clearly have a very traumatic impact on the economy and society.
Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government the steps he is taking to protect the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, designated ecosystem of Dublin Bay, Baldoyle Bay and the wider Dublin coastline following continuous overspills from the Ringsend wastewater treatment plant; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
We are hurtling towards Hallowe’en and the very depressing prospect of Brexit. In terms of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, what resources are available to our diplomats and the secretariat in our embassy in London and in the consulates general in Cardiff and Edinburgh, given that our relationship with the UK may change so drastically in just a few weeks’ time?
I have asked the Minister for Justice and Equality and the Taoiseach many times in this House about the level of co-operation with law enforcement agencies in the EU and further afield. Citizens rightly have a perception that much of the spate of drug-fuelled murder and crimes are directed from outside the State. There is also the perception that little is being done to prevent illegal guns entering the State and being used in dastardly and appalling murders. While the Bill before us deals mainly with the issue of legacy inquests in the North, does the Minister seek to bring forward further legislation in this area?