Thursday, 6 October 2016
Dáil Éireann Debate
[Deputy John Brassil: ] The project was refused by Kerry County Council and recommended for refusal by the inspector of An Bord Pleanála but the board of An Bord Pleanála subsequently granted the development. The community is left with no other option but a judicial review which will cost in the region of €25,000 to €50,000. They are coming up with that and pursuing it because they believe their rights are being infringed greatly. I support them in that.
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment (Deputy Denis Naughten): When I was on the Deputy's side of the House, I raised this question as well. I am as anxious as anybody else to have these new guidelines put in place as the current guidelines are not fit for purpose. Along with the Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, Deputy Coveney, my officials and I are actively engaged with this at the moment. There is a commitment in the programme for Government to present the new guidelines to the Government within six months, and we intend to do that. I hope we will have those finalised by next month.
Deputy Martin Kenny: On page 100 of the programme for Government, there is a commitment to extending Garda oversight and accountability. The task of sorting out the problems in the Garda will require much more than the Government's stated intention of supporting the independent Policing Authority and enhancing the role of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, GSOC. It is clear to me and many who have had dealings with the so-called cover-up squads in the Garda will know that only root and branch reform will suffice, including standing down the top brass and having a focused programme of changing the culture of bullying, malpractice and protectionism that is destroying everything.
Earlier this year, I raised issues in this House about Garda malpractice in Leitrim, and within a few weeks, I was visited by two senior gardaí - one an assistant commissioner - who told me they were determined to investigate everything fully.
Deputy Martin Kenny: The issue I raise is very simple. I was promised that the Garda Commissioner would fully investigate these allegations but nothing has happened. There has been no investigation or contact with the people who raised these issues.
The Tánaiste: Page 100 of the programme for Government does not mention legislation but it refers to various other mechanisms that must be introduced. In terms of change, civilianisation and rostering, all of that is happening currently and there will be more, budget permitting, next year. With regard to legislation and accountability, I said I will consider the comments of Ms Justice Mary Ellen Ring on the strengthening of powers of GSOC and I will meet her shortly.
Deputy Danny Healy-Rae: With regard to the elements of the programme for Government dealing with the trolley crisis, why is the Government not providing funding for extra staff for the escalation ward in Tralee general hospital, or what is now known as University Hospital Kerry? The wards are there but we need staff to man them. The funding is not there. Why is the Minister not providing it?
Minister for Health (Deputy Simon Harris): Although it is not promised legislation, I will look into the specific issue raised by the Deputy. We have already seen an increase this year in staffing numbers in our health services in terms of both nursing and medical staff when compared with last year. We have also provided €40 million to deal with what the Deputy describes as the trolley crisis. Numbers on trolleys are still high but they are down approximately 5% on last year. Some of that €40 million in funding for the winter initiative will deal with the fact that we still have too many people on beds who need to be at home instead. That is why we are providing more home help as well.
Deputy Thomas Pringle: As the Tánaiste is probably aware, the Seanad voted yesterday on a motion to reject the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, CETA. The agreement is due for provisional ratification at the European Council meeting of 19 October. Will the Government provide for a debate in the Dáil in advance of that in order that we can advise the Government on its views on the provisional application proposal?
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