On Monday, I held my weekly information clinic in Darndale and finished preparations for my Leaders’ Question on Tuesday. At Tuesday’s Leaders’ Questions I asked the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, about our financial preparedness for Brexit, what costings were being determined in advance of a possible no deal Brexit and again reiterated that there can be no wavering on the Brexit backstop. I also asked about reported bilateral arrangements between the UK and other Brexit-affected countries. Later that afternoon, the Minister for Finance released some figures which give a stark warning for the impact of a no deal Brexit on our economy.
Deputy Broughan has again condemned the Government for its complete failure in addressing the housing, homeless and rental crises. Week after week, Deputy Broughan meets individuals, families and young children let down by this and previous Governments’ failed Housing policies and the Local Authorities’ inability to even remotely get a handle on the situation. In the Department of Housing’s most recent data for April, released last night, 5,963 adults (6,035 in March) and 3,689 children (3,646 in March) (1,712 families) were homeless. Of these, 4,005 homeless adults (4,107 in March) and 2,810 homeless children (2,780 in March) (1,351 families) were based in the 4 Dublin counties. Shockingly and without explanation, 252 extra homeless people, with homeless priority and in temporary emergency accommodation, were removed from the April figures.
This was a week of long Dáil days in the final week of the plenary Dáil session. On Tuesday, I spoke in a short debate on the 22nd anniversary of the horrific Srebrenica massacre in Bosnia-Herzegovina. On Wednesday, I attended and spoke at the Budgetary Oversight Committee which is completing its report on Infrastructure and Capital Investment 2016/2021. Later that day I attended the Ceann Comhairle’s Committee on Procedure.
Today during Leaders’ Questions, Deputy Broughan asked the government to direct or encourage the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) to refinance our huge stacks of debt amounting to over €46 billion (or a quarter of our total debt) as urgently as possible while interest rates are low and given the worrying risks in our external economic environment. Through his role in the Budgetary Oversight Committee and interest in the economy, Deputy Broughan has become increasingly concerned about maturing bonds in an increasingly erratic international environment in the wake of the Brexit result and Trump Presidency.
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.