Employment Permits (Amendment) Bill 2014: Report Stage

Bill recommitted in respect of amendments Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive.

Amendments Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, are consequential on amendments Nos. 79 to 81, inclusive, and may be discussed together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 5, line 9, after “permits;” to insert the following:

“to amend the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Act 2000; to amend the Immigration Act 2004; to amend the Aliens Order 1946;”.

I am introducing amendments Nos. 1 to 5, inclusive, on behalf of the Minister for Justice and Equality, to amend the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Act 2000, the Immigration Act 2004 and the Aliens Order 1946. The amendments amend the Long Title and section 1 of the Bill to provide for the new provisions I am bringing forward on behalf of the Minister for Justice and Equality. Amendments Nos. 79 to 81, inclusive, insert a new Part 4 and Part 5 in the Bill, which provide for the new provisions I am bringing forward on behalf of the Minister, which amend the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Act 2000, the Immigration Act 2004 and the Aliens Order 1946.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 5, line 16, after “Act” to insert “, other than Parts 4 and 5,”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 5, line 18, after “Act” to insert “, other than Parts 4 and 5,”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 4:

In page 5, line 20, after “Act” to insert “, other than Parts 4 and 5,”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 5, between lines 23 and 24, to insert the following:

“(5) Parts 4 and 5 shall come into operation on such day or days as the Minister for Justice and Equality may appoint by order or orders either generally or with reference to any particular purpose or provision and different days may be so appointed for different purposes or different provisions.”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 6 to 11, inclusive, are related drafting amendments and may be discussed together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 6:

In page 6, line 25, after “ “ subsection (2)” ” to insert “in each place where it occurs”.

Amendments Nos. 6 to 11, inclusive, are technical and drafting amendments agreed on the advice of the Parliamentary Counsel. Amendment No. 6 is a technical amendment to section 3(e) of the Bill to ensure that wherever subsection (2) of section 2 of the 2003 Act is stated in section 2(4) of the Act of 2003 it includes reference to new subsection (2C).

Amendments Nos. 7 to 9, inclusive, are drafting amendments to section 3(f), which inserts new subsections (10B), (10C) and (10D) into section 2 of the 2003 Act.

Amendments Nos. 10 and 11 are technical amendments to provide for the full Title of the Employment Permits Act 2006 as the "Act of 2006" is not defined in section 1 of the Employment Permits Act 2003.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 7:

In page 6, line 28, to delete “to”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 8:

In page 6, line 29, to delete “a foreign national” and substitute “to a foreign national”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 9:

In page 6, line 31, to delete “the Minister” and substitute “where the Minister”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 10:

In page 7, line 11, to delete “Act of 2006” and substitute “Employment Permits Act 2006”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 11:

In page 7, line 12, to delete “Act of 2006” and substitute “Employment Permits Act 2006”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 12 to 25, inclusive, are related. Amendments Nos. 19 to 22, inclusive, and 24 are consequential on amendment No. 18. The amendments may be discussed together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 12:

In page 7, line 22, to delete “Employment Permits Act 2006” and substitute “Act of 2006”.

Amendment No. 12 is a technical amendment as the "Act of 2006" is not defined in section 1 of the Employment Permits Act 2003.

The effect of amendment No. 13 would be to create a new employment permit scheme specifically for this cohort of foreign nationals. The normal criteria generally applying to employment permits, the purpose of which is to protect the labour market from distortion, would not apply to such cases, for example, a specific job with a specific employer for a specific duration. In general, Government policy is to issue employment permits for the employment of non-EEA nationals for specific vacancies and in response to employer demand where there are demonstrated shortages. Such a permit type would run counter to this policy objective. If a foreign national who has entered such civil proceedings meets the four criteria for the reactivation permit, that is, he or she has a job offer, is not currently working, has a letter of permission from the Minister for Justice and Equality and previously held a permit, he or she may be eligible to apply for that permit.

I emphasise that my intention in bringing forward the new section 2B is to give an undocumented worker the opportunity to be compensated for work done for, or services rendered to, a person, as well as creating an important deterrent effect for any employer contemplating hiring illegal workers. It is not my intention that it would act as a back door for illegal economic migrants who, under current legislation, have not been or would not be granted employment permits.

Amendment No. 13 is a compromise amendment, the purpose of which is to address the concerns of migrant workers and enable them to work if they decide to take an action where a permit has not been renewed. Having listened to the Minister's argument, it remains my view that it is necessary to specifically provide for a mechanism that allows persons to be sufficiently confident to proceed with an action. Individuals will be prevented from taking actions if they do not have the economic wherewithal to survive in the period from the commencement to the conclusion of the action. People need to know that they have not only the right but also the means to take an action. If the legislation is to have a deterrent effect, it must provide explicitly for such a mechanism.

Amendment No. 14 addresses circumstances in which other employees in the workplace of the individual taking the case have incomes that are higher than the minimum wage or the rate set under a registered employment agreement. If, in such circumstances, an employer is required to compensate the individual at the level of the minimum wage or registered employment agreement, in other words, at a value less than would have been paid to the individual in question in the relevant workplace, it will mean that the employer, despite having broken the law, will be quids in, as it were, because the compensation paid will be lower than wage that would have been paid.

Surely that is illogical, if the Minister is trying to ensure that the person gets paid what he or she is entitled to and that it is a deterrent. I could take the risk of not registering a worker properly or not applying for a permit for him or her because if I get caught, the worst that can happen is I will have to pay the worker 80% of what I would have paid him or her if he or she was employed in a proper scenario.

Amendment No. 23 is an alternative to the first amendment to which I spoke, amendment No. 13. The idea here is to allow for an individual to gain relief or some mechanism of funds to ensure that he or she can proceed to use the structures that the Government is providing for. An individual who cannot feed and clothe his or her family and cannot pay the rent will not take the risk of going down that route.

I support amendment No. 23. In recent times there has been a number of high profile cases, in one of which the gentleman came to committee. It is a lacuna in the law that somebody taking an action against somebody who holds his or her permit can be left without any recompense to relief and without any basic costs to live, never mind the cost of taking the court order. If we are to somewhat balance the system and give a chance to those who want to take that brave step of an action against a permit holder, we need to put in place some sort of provision. I am happy to support amendment No. 23.

The purpose of this amendment is to deal with the opportunity to take civil proceedings for a person to be compensated where an illegal contract was in place.

The effect of Deputy Tóibín's amendment No. 13 would be to make this into a route through which one would get an employment permit. There are existing rules that are the basis on which a person can apply for an employment permit. We are not willing to make an illegal contract the basis for access to a permit. The criteria for a permit are clear and they are related to the needs of the labour market, the pressure of unemployment, skills or whatever. We must see that there is a justifiable case. What we are providing here is not to turn what was an illegal contract into a route to an employment permit but to protect the person who was a victim of such a situation and give him or her redress.

In terms of the ability to support oneself, the Department of Social Protection has exceptional needs payments which may be available to such a person if he or she launched civil proceedings. It is not intended that this would become a new route for getting permits.

On the amendment in respect of the appropriate payment, we are providing here for compensation based on the national minimum wage. One must bear in mind that we are dealing with illegal contracts and the only unambiguous standard is the national minimum wage because that is a mandatory rate of pay for the job that ought to be applied. These are rates provided for in law. There is no ambiguity or standards of proof for a court in determining how much compensation would have to be paid. This is clear-cut. It also provides that, in being able to go back in time in terms of before the Act was in place, one is not introducing an element of penalty by setting a higher wage. One is avoiding providing any penal element. One is simply saying that there was an obligation that was not met. Not only would the amendment add complexity and ambiguity, it would put the matter at some risk.

We consulted with the Courts Service on the Deputy's Amendment No. 23. It has indicated that in the cases provided for by this section, the only relevant interim relief would involve applying for an order preventing the employer dissipating or reducing his or her assets which might be required to meet the claim if the plaintiff were successful. Such relief would already be available by way of injunction in the High Court or Circuit Court.

If, by this amendment, the Deputy is proposing that the plaintiff could apply for an advance of money that he or she might get in a settlement or court determination, the Courts Service has indicated that it is unaware of such relief being available where there is a dispute and it points to the danger that to allow relief such as proposed would pre-empt the outcome of the proceedings where the case remains to be determined.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 13:

In page 7, between lines 36 and 37, to insert the following:

"(2A) Where an employer referred to in section 2(1)(a) or, in the case of employment referred to in section 2(1)(b), a person referred to in section 2(1A)(a) or a contractor referred to in section 2(1A)(b) has not paid a foreign national to whom this section applies and where the foreign national institutes civil proceedings he or she may seek and be immediately be awarded an employment permit for the duration of the civil action or longer if the Ministers so deems.".

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 14:

In page 8, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following:

"(iii) an amount equal to that paid to regularised employees engaged in the same work in the same employment,

or".

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 15:

In page 8, line 33, to delete "Proceedings" and substitute "Subject to subsection (10), proceedings".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 16:

In page 8, to delete lines 37 to 39 and substitute the following:

"(7) Proceedings under this section shall not be brought in respect of any work, or services, done or rendered more than 6 years prior to the day on which the foreign national ceased his or her employment or service with the employer, a person referred to in section 2(1A)(a) or a contractor referred to in section 2(1A)(b).".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 17:

In page 9, line 15, after "determined" to insert "or have, or has, not been discontinued before being finally determined".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 18:

In page 9, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:

"(10) Where—

(a) before the day on which this section comes into operation a foreign national had instituted proceedings or otherwise commenced an action or other claim for work done or services rendered that are, or is, wholly or substantially in respect of work done or services rendered—

(i) during the period in which the foreign national was in the service of an employer in the State, or in employment in the State, without an employment permit referred to in subsection (1), and

(ii) for which he or she has not been paid or has been paid an insufficient amount of money,

and

(b) the foreign national—

(i) has, on or after the day on which this section comes into operation, discontinued the proceedings, action or claim before those proceedings are, or that action or claim is, finally determined, or

(ii) has not, when those proceedings are, or such action or claim is, finally determined, been awarded any amount of money in recompense for such work done or such services rendered,

the foreign national may institute proceedings under this section not later than 2 years from the day on which the proceedings were, or the action or claim was, discontinued or on which such determination was made in respect of such work done or such services rendered during a period of 6 years prior to the day on which he or she ceased his or her employment or service with the employer, a person referred to in section 2(1A)(a) or a contractor referred to in section 2(1A)(b).".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 19:

In page 9, line 16, to delete "(10) In proceedings" and substitute "(11) In proceedings".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 20:

In page 9, line 19, to delete "(11) The amount" and substitute "(12) The amount".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 21:

In page 9, line 23, to delete "(12) In proceedings" and substitute "(13) In proceedings".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 22:

In page 9, line 28, to delete "(13) Subsection (5)" and substitute "(14) Subsection (5)".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 23:

In page 9, between lines 30 and 31, to insert the following:

"(13A) A foreign national who has engaged in civil proceedings as referred to in this section may apply to the court for interim relief.".

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 24:

In page 9, line 31, to delete "(14) In this section" and substitute "(15) In this section".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 25:

In page 9, between lines 32 and 33, to insert the following:

" 'enactment' has the meaning assigned to it by the Act of 2006;".

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 26 and 27 are related drafting amendments and are to be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 26:

In page 11, line 9, to delete "the Minister for Justice and Equality has determined is" and substitute "has been determined by the Minister for Justice and Equality to be".

This is a drafting amendment to the definition of "dependant". Amendment No. 27 is a technical amendment and defines the term "enactment" for the purpose of the Bill. This term is used in the context of an award under section 4 and the remuneration to be paid to the holder of an employment permit under section 6.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 27:

In page 11, between lines 26 and 27, to insert the following:

" 'enactment' has the meaning assigned to it by the Interpretation Act 2005;".

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 28 to 30, inclusive, are related and are to be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 28:

In page 15, line 12, to delete "or civil partner," and substitute the following:

", civil partner, or the former spouse or civil partner where a separation has occurred during the period of employment in the State".

This is to achieve equity and address the difficulty faced by individuals who have been working in Ireland and who have had to separate through no fault of their own. Such individuals should not be treated any differently on separation. It would be very strange if somebody who worked all his life and raised children here had to leave his job because his marriage broke down. Such cases have occurred and have been raised with the Migrant Rights Centre and Nasc. My amendment seeks to address this issue.

Amendment No. 30 is an alternative to the interim relief amendment. I have made my case on this already.

With regard to amendment No. 28, the purpose of providing access to the Irish labour market to the spouses, civil partners and dependants of critical skills employment permit holders and third country researchers under Council Directive No. 2005/71/EC is to differentiate Ireland from its competitors by enhancing its attractiveness as a destination for this cohort of highly skilled migrants. As such, this is a deliberate policy decision. It is not in my remit to define or determine matters relating to divorce or separation. That falls within the remit of the Minister for Justice and Equality.

I understand the Deputy's motivation in tabling such an amendment, in that such individuals should not be made victims of circumstances by virtue of a separation. However, that is precisely why I have introduced in this Bill the proposed reactivation employment permit, which facilitates such individuals whose circumstances have changed through no fault of their own, such as a separation occurring during the lifetime of the permit. This scheme is very flexible, allowing an individual to work in almost every economic sector, the only salary threshold being the minimum wage. It will not be subject to the labour market needs test either. On that basis, given that I foresee that the vast majority of cases of separated spouses will be capable of being catered for in the new permits system where they meet the criteria applying, I am not accepting the Deputy's amendment.

With regard to amendment No. 29, the whole purpose of providing access to the Irish labour market for the spouses, civil partners and dependants of critical skills employment permit holders is to differentiate Ireland by enhancing its attractiveness as a destination for this cohort of highly skilled migrants. As the Deputy is aware, the spousal scheme is one of the most flexible schemes, allowing an individual to work in almost every economic sector, the only salary threshold being the minimum wage. Opening up the permits system to all spouses of permit holders under this scheme would go against the Government's stated economic policy and would lead to greatly increased numbers of permit holders entitled to work with no labour market needs test, potentially filling job vacancies that would otherwise go to Irish and EEA nationals currently on the live register.

In formulating employment permits policy, I must have regard to the potential for incentivising illegal foreign nationals to come to the State if measures are too liberal or rules too lenient. In my view, this could be one such measure. The Government's priority is to get Irish and EEA nationals filling job vacancies in all sectors of the economy as it recovers, not to open the Irish labour market to third country nationals who may not even be currently in the State. Therefore, I cannot accept the Deputy's amendment. There is nothing to stop the spouses, partners and dependants in question from applying for any permit type in their own right, provided they meet the criteria that apply.

With regard to amendment No. 30, Deputy Tóibín will be aware that it is my intention that all the conditions pertaining to the issue of a permit under the new reactivation scheme will be mandatory. The four mandatory conditions are designed to deter abuses of the proposed scheme and I believe they are proportional and reasonable given the advantages conferred by this permit type on the holder. If the Deputy's amendment were added to the list of four existing mandatory requirements, it would result in an additional mandatory provision that very few foreign nationals would be able to meet, that is, only foreign nationals who have entered into civil proceedings provided for in the new section 2B inserted into the Act of 2003, which would significantly narrow the field of potential applicants under this permit type. If the Deputy's intention in tabling the amendment is to allow a further permit type, those who have initiated legal proceedings under the new section 2B, I would need to emphasise again that my intention in the creation of this type of employment permit is to facilitate those foreign nationals who have fallen out of the employment permits system to re-enter employment in line with employment permits legislation. It is not a back door for illegal economic migrants who have not been or would not be, under current legislation, granted employment permits. Invariably, some future litigants under section 2B will be entitled to apply for the reactivation scheme without any such amending provision as suggested by the Deputy, while others would never and could never avail themselves of any permit, having always been illegal in the State.

There is another possible unintended consequence of the Deputy's amendment, namely a flood of civil proceedings being brought by litigants, solely or primarily to take advantage of the chance to convert their illegal status to legal status. Incentivising such litigation by the promise of a permit is certainly not what I intended by bringing forward the compensation provision. For all these reasons, I cannot accept the Deputy's amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 29:

In page 15, line 12, to delete "referred to in section 3C(2)" and substitute "in respect of the purpose referred to in paragraph (a)".

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 30:

In page 16, between lines 16 and 17, to insert the following:

"(v) who has entered into civil proceedings as referred in section 2B of the Act of 2003;".

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendments Nos. 31, 33, 34 and 36 are related and are to be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 31:

In page 19, line 22, to delete "the condition" and substitute "in respect of the condition".

Amendments Nos. 31, 33, 34 and 36, agreed on the advice of the Parliamentary Counsel, are drafting amendments to the new sections 3D and 3E inserted into the Act of 2006.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 32, 35, 41, 42, 44 and 58 are related and are to be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 32:

In page 20, line 28, to delete "prescribed" and substitute "specified in regulations under section 29".

The amendments are technical amendments agreed on the advice of the Parliamentary Counsel. They insert a cross-reference to the Minister's regulation-making powers under section 29 of the Act of 2006, as amended by section 29 of the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 33:

In page 20, line 34, to delete “in respect of”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 34:

In page 22, line 5, to delete “the condition” and substitute “in respect of the condition”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 35:

In page 23, line 9, to delete “prescribed” and substitute “specified in regulations under section 29”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 36:

In page 23, line 15, to delete “in respect of”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 37 and 45 to 48, inclusive, are related and will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 37:

In page 24, line 12, to delete “ “An application” and substitute “ “Subject to section 10A, an application”.

Amendment No. 37 is a technical amendment to section 4(3) of the 2006 Act to provide that an application for a general employment permit or contract for services employment permit be made within a certain period after the commencement of the labour market needs test and this period is to be specified in regulations. Amendments Nos. 45 to 48, inclusive, which were agreed on the advice of the Parliamentary Counsel, are drafting amendments to section 13.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 38:

In page 26, to delete lines 35 to 40 and substitute the following:

“(i) provide information, documents and evidence in respect of the requirement under section 4(5) in relation to -

(i) the employment, in the period referred to in section 4(5), of any person in the employment that is the subject of the application, and

(ii) the confirmation that such person was not, within such period, dismissed by reason of redundancy from that employment.”.”.

Amendment No. 38 is a drafting amendment to subsection (i) of the new section 6 which is being inserted into the 2006 Act by section 9 of the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 39 and 40 are related and will be discussed together.

I move amendment No. 39:

In page 27, to delete lines 6 to 20 and substitute the following

“ “(2) The employment permit so granted shall operate to permit the employment in the State of the foreign national -

(a) in the employment specified in the application by -

(i) the person, specified in the application, who made the offer of employment,

(ii) in the case of an application referred to in section 4(2)(a), the contractor concerned, or

(iii) in the case of an application referred to in section 4(2)(c), the person party to the arrangement referred to in that section who made the application,

or

(b) in the employment specified in the application in respect of which, in the case of an application referred to in section 4(2)(b), the foreign national is to carry out duties for, or participate in a training programme provided by, the connected person specified in that application.”.”.

Amendment No. 39 is a drafting amendment to section 8(2) of the 2006 Act.

Amendment No. 40 deals with an issue we discussed on Committee Stage. The purpose of the amendment is to break the bondage element of the permit where a worker is tied to an employer. The Minister has stated that the purpose of the permit is to bring a foreign national into Ireland to fill an identified gap in a sector. It is not intended to benefit a particular employer directly. If a worker on a two-year permit is not in a position to change employer, this will create an uneven relationship between the two parties and allows for exploitation. Nasc has stated that the 2006 Act allowed for the provision of permits for sectors but that it should have been implemented in a way that would have allowed the permit holder to work in a particular sector. Based on its experience, Nasc identified a risk of workplace exploitation where there are limits to employee mobility. These are the people at the front line. This is not a theoretical issue. Nasc works with some of the most vulnerable people in the State on a daily basis and it is aware of exploitation in this regard. This imbalance exists. The Minister indicated that a person may be able to apply to change employment after a period of 12 months but, at the end of the day, the logic of placing a foreign national in a sector and allowing him or her to provide the skills required in that sector means that all we need to do is allow these individuals to engage with their employers in the same manner as anybody else in the State. There would be a fair and equal relationship between the two parties, thereby negating the opportunity for exploitation.

With regard to amendment No. 40, providing for sector specific employment permits would only be possible were the Department to waive all checks on the employer, which I cannot accept. Currently, all employers of permit holders are on the Department’s database, which is regularly checked by the National Employment Rights Authority in the course of its employment permit compliance inspections. Last year in many instances, informed by and with access to the employment permits database, NERA carried out unannounced visits in areas of risk relating to employment permits both during and outside of office hours. These visits are aimed at establishing the level of compliance and identifying potential employment law breaches in workplaces visited. Where issues are encountered a full inspection of the employer is carried out. In 2013 NERA detected 453 possible breaches of the Employment Permits Acts and 472 suspected breaches were detected. Some 48 employers were successfully prosecuted under the Employment Permits Acts in 2013. Almost 100 additional cases are currently at various stages in the prosecution process for hearing in 2014.

A sectoral permit regime in which I as Minister would potentially have no line of sight on current employers of permit holders runs the risk of undermining this compliance work by NERA and significantly weakening the ability of the State to control and monitor employers of permit holders. Part of the evaluation of the employment permit application is to check the bona fides of the employer as well as establishing that there are actual labour shortages for the job to be filled. Refusals arise where the employer is not deemed to be operating legitimately and where no such labour shortage is demonstrated. The Deputy’s amendment would make impossible a targeted approach to meeting labour market skills shortages through the permit system.

In regard to the Deputy’s point that our permits system binds employees to employers, the statistics from my processing section simply do not bear this out. Of the nearly 3,100 new permits issued last year, over half were for employees who were changing employer. For these reasons, I cannot accept the Deputy’s proposed amendments and deem the existing schemes to best meet the policy rationale for employment permits.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 40:

In page 27, between lines 20 and 21, to insert the following:

“(c) in the sector specified in the application.”.”.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 41:

In page 28, line 31, to delete “prescribed” and substitute “specified in regulations under section 29”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 42:

In page 28, line 39, to delete “prescribed” and substitute “specified in regulations under section 29”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 43:

In page 29, line 33, to delete “subsection” and substitute “subsections”.

Amendment No. 43 is a drafting amendment to the new subsection (2) of section 10 of the 2006 Act.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 44:

In page 30, line 40, to delete “prescribed” and substitute “specified in regulations under section 29”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 45:

In page 32, line 29, to delete “date” and substitute “day”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 46:

In page 33, line 18, to delete “that” and substitute “that,”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 47:

In page 34, line 12, to delete “first day” and substitute “day”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 48:

In page 34, line 13, to delete “has been published” and substitute “is first published”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 49:

In page 40, line 31, to delete “refuse” and substitute “without prejudice to subsection (1)(a), refuse”.

Amendment No. 49 has been introduced on the advice of the Parliamentary Counsel. It is a technical amendment to the new section 12(1J)(b), which is inserted into the 2006 Act by section 15 of the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 50:

In page 51, lines 3 and 4, to delete all words from and including "in" in line 3 down to and including line 4 and substitute the following:

"in subsection (2)—

(a) by inserting "or, as the case may be, the connected person" after "the employer",

and

(b) in paragraph (c), by substituting "the holder or the employer or both of them, or, as the case may be, the holder or the connected person, or both of them, may" for "either or both of them may".".

This is a technical amendment to section 16(2) of the Act of 2006, which provides for additional grounds for the revocation of an employment permit and is consequential to the treatment of the intra-company transfer situation in the Bill, as my colleague, the Minister of State, Deputy Sherlock, explained on Committee Stage.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 51 to 53, inclusive, are related drafting amendments and may be discussed together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 51:

In page 53, line 6, after "provide" to insert ", with the application for renewal,".

These are technical amendments to the new subsection (4A) inserted into section 20 of the 2006 Act by this Bill. These technical amendments provide clarity that documents are required to be provided at the time of application for renewal.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 52:

In page 53, lines 8 and 9, to delete ", within such period as may be specified in regulations under that section".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 53:

In page 53, line 12, after "provide" to insert ", with the application for renewal,".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 54:

In page 53, between lines 20 and 21, to insert the following:

"(6) Section 20 of the Act of 2006 is amended by inserting the following subsection after subsection (5):

"(5A) The Minister may, on application made to him or her, waive the prescribed fee.".".

There is a strong view that the fees relating to the process are inordinate. The Migrant Rights Centre of Ireland has argued that the fees for work permits should be reviewed and amended so as to bring Ireland into compliance with article 18 of the Council of Europe's European Social Charter. Concerns are not confined to the Migrant Rights Centre, the European Committee of Social Rights also considers the fees excessive. With many of the scenarios we have discussed, we are dealing with vulnerable workers who through little or no fault of their own have found themselves in the State but outside the proper registration process and seeking a permit. All we ask is that in such a scenario, the Minister may, on an application to him or her, waive the prescribed fee. It is a logical case and the Minister can use sense to understand if a person is in real need of support. We must ensure individuals at the bottom of the earnings ladder will not see this fee as a barrier to regularising the working relationship in this country.

A quarter of all permits issued so far this year had no fee attaching to them, and I am carrying out a review of the fee structure for employment permits later this year, with an open consultation exercise part and parcel of that review process. The purpose of this Bill is to place the issue of employment permits on a clear, statutory basis to a significant level of detail in the accompanying regulations. Such an approach would preclude consideration on a case-by case basis of the widely varied circumstances of individual applicants, which is what would be required if the amendment was accepted. Further, the grounds on which such a waiver might be applied would necessarily be based on a third party and possibly unsubstantiated report into the circumstances of the applicant or on an investigation into those circumstances, which would likely cause considerable delay to the issue of the permit and consequently might jeopardise the employment in prospect. There is always the option for the employer to pay the fee, so a waiver provision is not necessary. Given my fee review plans later this year and the unworkable nature of a case-by-case approach to fee waivers, I cannot accept the Deputy’s proposed amendment.

Amendment put and declared lost.

Amendments Nos. 55 and 57 are related and may be discussed together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 55:

In page 57, line 16, after "under" to insert ", and in accordance with the requirements of,".

These amendments are technical amendments agreed on the advice of the Parliamentary Counsel to provide that the application for a further employment permit made by a critical skills or general employment permit holder made redundant within the preceding six months is not only made under section 4 of the 2006 Act but is also made in accordance with the requirements of section 4.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 56:

In page 58, between lines 39 and 40, to insert the following:

"(10) Where an employer has failed to provide a P45 or other relevant document to a foreign national to whom an employment permit in respect of the purpose referred to in section 3A(2)(a) has been granted further to a dismissal by reason of redundancy within the meaning of section 7(2) of the Act of 1967 the Minister shall be responsible for acquiring such documentation from the employer.".

In most cases where there is an insolvency - when a business collapses and things go wrong - decent employers or human resources managers will do their best to ensure staff would have everything they need to proceed through the chain, whether that is to another job, social welfare or an application for a permit, etc. There are occasions when this does not happen and the collapse of a business leads to complete confusion, with people not fulfilling their responsibilities.

In such a case this amendment seeks to ensure the trading organisation would provide a permit holder with the necessary documentation to enable him or her to normalise an application. As the Department would already have a relationship with the employer, it should be used to ensure the appropriate documentation is received. The authority of the Minister and the Department would exceed the authority of a foreign national in the State who may have very little English or knowledge of infrastructure of the State, etc. Will the Minister support the amendment?

The documentation that must be submitted to demonstrate that a dismissal was by reason of redundancy will be set out in regulations. As Minister, I must be satisfied that the dismissal was a genuine redundancy in order to prevent abuse of this provision, which is based on fairness principles, so that someone who through no fault of his or her own was made redundant has another chance to get a job. The kind of documentation likely to satisfy me as Minister that there was a genuine redundancy would include a copy of the P45 but I will also accept other documentation, such as declarations from the employer as to the date, reason for dismissal, etc. I stand over these requirements as they establish the bona fides of the circumstances applying.

In practice, it is very rare that the Department comes across instances where such documentation has not been forthcoming from previous employers. Where this arises, my Department goes directly to the employer concerned and requests that the documentation be forwarded directly to the Minister. This intervention by my Department invariably resolves the matter without requiring the permit holder to engage with a previous employer that for whatever reason is dragging his or her feet in providing the documentation. I consider the amendment to be unnecessary and I will not accept it.

Amendment put and declared lost.

I move amendment No. 57:

In page 59, line 11, after "under" to insert ", and in accordance with the requirements of,".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 58:

In page 60, line 41, after "specified" to insert "in regulations".

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 59:

In page 63, line 21, to delete “payment” and substitute “the payment”.

This is a drafting amendment to new subsection (5C) which is inserted into section 27 of the Act of 2006 by section 27 of the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 60, 63 and 69 are consequential on amendment No. 68 and will be discussed together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 60:

In page 65, line 24, to delete “paragraph (bi)” and substitute “paragraph (bh)”.

These are consequential technical amendments to amendment No. 37.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 61:

In page 65, to delete lines 25 to 35 and substitute the following:

“(vii) as the Minister may, without prejudice to the requirement under section 6(i), specify, in respect of the requirement under section 4(5) in relation to—

(I) the employment of any person employed in the employment that is the subject of the application in the period referred to in section 4(5), and

(II) the dismissal by reason of redundancy within that period of any person employed in the employment that is the subject of the application,and”.

This is a drafting amendment to new subsection (2)(ba) inserted into section 29 of the 2006 Act.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 62:

In page 65, line 43, after “section” to insert “and the matters specified in section 10(2B)”.

This is a technical amendment to new section 29(2)(ba) and is consequential to the new subsection (2B) inserted into section 10 of the Act of 2006 by section 12 of the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 63:

In page 66, line 37, to delete “paragraph (bi)” and substitute “paragraph (bh)”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 64:

In page 67, line 1, after “section 10” to insert “, referred to in paragraph (ba)(viii)(III),”.

This is a technical amendment consequential to amendment No. 62 and to the new subsection (13) inserted into section 20 of the Act of 2006 by section 23 of the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 65 to 67, inclusive, 70 and 74 to 77, inclusive, are related and will be discussed together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 65:

In page 67, lines 8 and 9, to delete “within a specified period, with an application under section 4” and substitute “with an application under section 4,”.

These amendments amend section 29 of the Bill which amends section 29 of the Act of 2006 to provide clarity that documents are required to be provided at the time of application for the grant or renewal.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 66:

In page 67, line 40, after “Minister” where it firstly occurs to insert “, with an application under section 4,”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 67:

In page 68, line 16, after “Minister” to insert “, with an application under section 20,”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 68:

In page 69, to delete lines 8 to 12.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 69:

In page 69, line 13, to delete “(bi) the specification” and substitute “(bh) the specification”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 70:

In page 69, lines 20 and 21, to delete “within a specified period,”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments Nos. 71 to 73, inclusive, are related and will be discussed together by agreement.

I move amendment No. 71:

In page 69, line 22, to delete “permit” and substitute “permit,”.

Amendments Nos. 71 to 73 are drafting and technical amendments to new subsection (2A) inserted into section 29 of the Act of 2006 by section 29 of the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 72:

In page 69, line 26, to delete “and”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 73:

In page 69, line 27, to delete “for” and substitute the following:

“in the case of an application for the grant or renewal of an employment permit for the purposes referred to in paragraphs (d) and (e) of section 3A(2),”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 74:

In page 69, to delete lines 38 to 42, and in page 70, to delete line 1 and substitute the following:

“(2B) Without prejudice to the generality of subsections (1) and (2), regulations under this section may provide for the production to the Minister, in respect of the grant or renewal of an employment permit for the purpose referred to in section 3A(2)(b), of information, documents and evidence to verify such information, with—”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 75:

In page 71, line 27, to delete “within a specified period,” and substitute “with an application under section 4,”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 76:

In page 72, to delete lines 24 to 28 and substitute the following:

“(2F) Without prejudice to subsections (1) and (2), in regulations under this section the Minister may provide for the production to the Minister, with an application for the grant or renewal of an employment permit, of information, documents and evidence to verify such information and documents concerning—”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 77:

In page 73, line 4, to delete “under this section”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 78:

In page 73, to delete lines 9 to 17 and substitute the following:

“(2G) In regulations under this section the Minister may provide for the procedure for the payment of any fee that is to accompany an application for the grant or renewal of an employment permit.”.”.

This is a technical amendment to new subsection (2G) inserted into section 29 of the Act of 2006 by section 29 of the Bill and ensures that (2G) correctly provides only for the procedure for paying fees.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 79:

In page 74, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:

AMENDMENT OF ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS (TRAFFICKING) ACT 2000

Amendment of Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Act 2000

34. (1) The Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Act 2000 is amended by substituting the following section for section 5:

“Judicial review

5. (1) A person shall not question the validity of—

(a) a notification under section 3(3)(a) of the Immigration Act 1999,

(b) a notification under section 3(3)(b)(ii) of the Immigration Act 1999,

(c) a deportation order under section 3(1) of the Immigration Act 1999,

(d) a refusal under Article 5 of the Aliens Order 1946 (S.R. and O. No. 395 of 1946),

(e) a refusal under section 4 of the Immigration Act 2004,

(f) an exclusion order under section 4 of the Immigration Act 1999,

(g) a recommendation of the Refugee Applications Commissioner under section 13 (as amended by section 7(h) of the Immigration Act 2003) of the Refugee Act 1996,

(h) a decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal under section 16 (as amended by section 7(i) of the Immigration Act 2003) of the Refugee Act 1996,

(i) a refusal under section 17 (as amended by Regulation 34 of the European Union (Subsidiary Protection) Regulations 2013 (S.I. No. 426 of 2013)) of the Refugee Act 1996,

(j) a decision under section 21 (as amended by section 11(1)(o) of the Immigration Act 1999) of the Refugee Act 1996,

(k) a removal order under Regulation 20(1) of the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) (No. 2) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 656 of 2006),

(l) an exclusion order under Regulation 23(1) of the European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) (No. 2) Regulations 2006 (S.I. No. 656 of 2006),

(m) an order under section 3(11) of the Immigration Act 1999,

(n) a recommendation of the Refugee Applications Commissioner referred to in Regulation 6(2)(b) of the European Union (Subsidiary Protection) Regulations 2013 (S.I. No. 426 of 2013),

(o) a decision of the Refugee Appeals Tribunal referred to in Regulation 8(22)(a) of the European Union (Subsidiary Protection) Regulations 2013 (S.I. No. 426 of 2013), or

(p) such other decision, determination, recommendation, refusal or order as may be prescribed by the Minister under subsection (9), made on or after the date on which section 34 of the Employment Permits (Amendment) Act 2014 comes into operation, otherwise than by way of an application for judicial review under Order 84 of Rules of the Superior Courts (S.I. No. 15 of 1986) (hereafter in this section referred to as ‘the Order’).

(2) An application for leave to apply for judicial review under the Order in respect of any of the matters referred to in subsection (1) (hereafter in this section referred to as an ‘application’) shall be made within the period of 28 days commencing on the date on which the person was notified of the decision, determination, recommendation, refusal or making of the order concerned unless the High Court considers that there is good and sufficient reason for extending the period within which the application shall be made, and such leave shall not be granted unless the High Court is satisfied that there are substantial grounds for contending that the decision, determination, recommendation, refusal or order is invalid or ought to be quashed.

(3) Notwithstanding the period referred to in subsection (2), rules of court may require an applicant to lodge or file with the High Court, such number of days (which shall not exceed 4 days) as may be specified in the rules before the date on which the application is to be heard, all pleadings and written submissions relating to the application.

(4) Where the High Court considers that an application involves a point of law of exceptional public importance or that, having regard to the likely impact of the proceedings on the respondent or another party, the issues arising or any other matter, it is in the interests of justice to do so, it may—

(a) direct that the application should be heard on notice,

(b) adjourn the application for such period (which shall not be less than 28 days) and on such terms as it may direct,

(c) give such directions as it thinks fit as to the service on the intended respondent and on any other person of notice of the application and copies of any documents lodged under rules of court referred to in subsection (3), and the mode of, and the time allowed for, such service, and

(d) give such other direction or make such order as it considers appropriate.

(5) The High Court, having considered an application—

(a) shall pronounce its determination of the application in public, and

(b) where it grants an application for leave to apply for judicial review in respect of a matter referred to in subsection (1), shall state, in respect of that matter, the relief granted and the grounds upon which that relief is granted.

(6) (a) The determination of the High Court of an application for leave to apply for judicial review to which this section applies, or of an application for such judicial review, shall be final and no appeal shall lie from the decision of the High Court to the Supreme Court in either case except with the leave of the High Court which leave shall only be granted where the High Court certifies that its decision involves a point of law of exceptional public importance and that it is desirable in the public interest that an appeal should be taken to the Supreme Court.

(b) This subsection shall not apply to a determination of the High Court in so far as it involves a question as to the validity of any law having regard to the provisions of the Constitution.

(7) The High Court shall give such priority as it reasonably can, having regard to all the circumstances, to the disposal of proceedings in that Court under this section.

(8) The Superior Court Rules Committee may make rules to facilitate the giving of effect to subsection (7).

(9) (a) The Minister may prescribe any decision, determination, recommendation, refusal or order—

(i) made under a relevant enactment or, as the case may be, an instrument made under a relevant enactment, and

(ii) concerning the entry into, presence in, removal from or exclusion from the State of a person, the conditions under which a person may be present in the State or the entitlement of a person to international protection in the State, to be a decision, determination, recommendation, refusal or order to which subsection (1) applies.

(b) In exercising his or her power under paragraph (a), the Minister shall have regard to the need for the fair and efficient administration of the relevant enactment concerned and the interests of justice.

(c) In this subsection— ‘international protection’ means protection in the State either as—

(i) a refugee, within the meaning of section 2 of the Refugee Act 1996, or

(ii) a person eligible for subsidiary protection, within the meaning of the European Union (Subsidiary Protection) Regulations 2013 (S.I. No. 426 of 2013); ‘relevant enactment’ means—

(2) Notwithstanding the amendment of section 5 of the Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Act 2000 by subsection (1), that section, before such amendment, shall continue to apply as if that amendment had not been made, in relation to—

(a) a decision, determination, recommendation, refusal or order referred to in subsection (1) of that section made before the date on which this section comes into operation, and

(b) an application for leave to apply for judicial review, or an application for such judicial review, in respect of any of the matters specified in paragraph (a) that has been made before the date on which this section comes into operation.”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 80:

In page 74, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:

“PART 5

AMENDMENT OF IMMIGRATION ACT 2004 AND ALIENS ORDER 1946

Amendment of Immigration Act 2004

35. The Immigration Act 2004 is amended—

(a) in section 1, by deleting the definitions of “registration district” and “registration officer” and substituting the following:

“ ‘registration district’ means a registration district prescribed under section 9A (inserted by section 35 of the Employment Permits (Amendment) Act 2014);

‘registration officer’, subject to subsection (4) of that section, means a registration officer appointed under section 9A (inserted by section 35 of the Employment Permits (Amendment) Act 2014);”,

(b) in section 9(6), by deleting paragraph (a);

(c) by inserting the following after section 9:

“Registration districts and registration officers

9A. (1) The Minister may, for the purpose of the efficient and effective administration of this Act, prescribe an area (which area may consist of the whole or any part of the State) to be a registration district.

(2) The Minister may by order appoint a person, being—

(a) a member of the Garda Síochána not below the rank of Superintendent, or

(b) an officer of the Minister, not below the rank of assistant principal officer, to be the registration officer of the registration district specified in the order.

(3) A registration officer may delegate any of his or her functions (other than this power of delegation) under this Act to—

(a) in the case of a registration officer to whom subsection (2)(a) applies, a member of the Garda Síochána, and

(b) in the case of a registration officer to whom subsection (2)(b) applies, an officer of the Minister.

(4) Where a function of a registration officer is delegated under subsection (3)—

(a) that function may be performed, under the general control of the registration officer concerned, by the person to whom it is delegated,

(b) the delegation does not preclude the registration officer from performing the function delegated, and

(c) a reference, in a provision of this Act relating to the function, to a registration officer includes a reference to the person to whom the function has been delegated.”,

and

(d) by deleting section 14 and substituting the following:

“Provision for particular non-nationals

14. (1) The Minister, an immigration officer or a member of the Garda Síochána may, by notice in writing, require a non-national who does not have permission to be in the State to comply with any or all of the following conditions:

(2) A non-national who contravenes this section shall be guilty of an offence.

(3) Where a non-national who is complying with a notice under subsection (1)(c), as a result of that compliance, fails to comply with the requirements of section 12(1) (as amended by section 34 of the Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2011)—

(4) In this section, ‘enactment’ means—

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 81:

In page 74, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following:

“Amendment of Aliens Order 1946

36. The Aliens Order 1946 (S.R. and O. No. 395 of 1946) is amended—

(a) by substituting the following definitions for the definitions of “registration district” and “registration officer”:

“the expression ‘registration district’ has the same meaning as it has in section 1 (as amended by section 35 of the Employment Permits (Amendment) Act 2014) of the Immigration Act 2004;

the expression ‘registration officer’ has the same meaning as it has in section 1 (as amended by section 35* of the Employment Permits (Amendment) Act 2014) of the Immigration Act 2004;”,

and

(b) by revoking Article 11(6)(a).”.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment No. 82:

In page 75, to delete lines 27 to 33 and substitute the following:

“(5) Where, before the coming into operation of this section an application has been made for the grant of an employment permit but a decision in respect of the application has not been made by the Minister, then the application (other than an application referred to in subsection (6)) shall be treated as if it were an application for an employment permit under the Act of 2006 as amended by this Act and shall be dealt with accordingly.

(6) Where, by virtue of section 10(1) of the Act of 2006, section 10 of that Act does not apply to an employment permit for which an application is made before the coming into operation of this section and a decision in respect of the application has not been made by the Minister, then the application shall be treated as if it were an application for an employment permit under the Act of 2006 as amended by this Act other than in so far as the amendments relate to the repeal of section 10(1) and the insertion of section 10A of the Act of 2006 and shall be dealt with accordingly.”.

This is a technical amendment which amends existing section 36(5) and inserts new subsection (6) and which provides for transitional arrangements and savings in respect of employment applications on hands immediately before the coming into operation of this section.

Amendment agreed to.
Bill, as amended, received for final consideration.
Question proposed: "That the Bill do now pass."

I thank the Deputies. There were unfortunately many detailed technical amendments on Report Stage, arising from the increasing obligation to have primary legislation to contain all the details, rather than rely on secondary regulations, which was a feature in the past. It requires, therefore, a level of perfection of the detailed regulatory provision in the House.

I apologise to the Deputies for the number of technical amendments consequential on that. I thank them for supporting this Bill. It is important to have modern legislation that is clear, workable and allows us deal with pressures that can arise in the labour market due to skill shortages while at the same time protecting employment opportunities for Irish people and those within the EEA.

I thank the Minister and the Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Sean Sherlock, and the officials for the assistance in passing this Bill. I also thank the Migrant Rights Centre Ireland, MRCI, and the Irish Immigrant Support Centre, Nasc, for their assistance and input into the Bill.

It is an important Bill. We have to keep the system under review. It would be worthwhile if, six months from now, the Minister for Justice and Equality were to update the Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation on her changes. This could be the final business we do with the Minister, Deputy Bruton, ahead of the regime change that is under way. It is rather ironic that the Minister who is responsible for employment is not covered by his Department's redundancy and minimum notice provisions. We wish him well in the forthcoming game of chess.

It might be more like a game of snakes and ladders than a game of chess. Ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil leis na hoifigigh go léir sa Roinn a thug cabhair dúinn, go háirithe ar Chéim an Choiste. Bíonn deacrachtaí ann i gcónaí, ach b'fhéidir go raibh níos mó deacrachtaí i gceist sa chás seo. Is Bille uafásach tábhachtach é an Bille seo. Tá sé tábhachtach don gheilleagar. Tá súil agam go dtabharfaidh an reachtaíocht seo tacaíocht don gheilleagar as seo amach. Ní cheart go mbeimid leisciúil sa todhchaí. Caithfimid díriú isteach ar na daoine sa tír seo atá dífhostaithe, go háirithe iad siúd nach bhfuil na scileanna cuí acu. Ba chóir dúinn iarracht tréan a dhéanamh oideachas a thabhairt dóibh ionas go mbeidh siad in ann na poist seo a líonadh. Tá níos mó ná 300,000 duine dífhostaithe sa tír seo. Ba cheart go mbeidís páirteach sa scéal seo freisin. Tá an reachtaíocht seo tábhachtach freisin dóibh siúd a thagann anseo ó thíortha eile. Is oth liom a rá go bhfuil sé fíor - uaireanta - nach mbíonn na caighdeáin chéanna ag na daoine a thagann anseo. Ba cheart dúinn a chinntiú go bhfaigheann siad gach rud atá de dhíth orthu. Tá acmhainní de dhíth sa chóras seo. I mo chuid taithí, nuair a bhíonn daoine ag dul i dteagmháil leis an Roinn Gnóthaí Eachtracha agus Trádála agus an tSeirbhís Eadóirseachta agus Inimirce na hÉireann, is minic a bhíonn an-chuid moill ar an teagmháil eatarthu. Ba cheart go mbeadh níos mó airgid ag dul isteach sa Roinn sin ionas go mbeidh na hoifigigh in ann cabhair a thabhairt agus gach rud a dhéanamh go tapaidh. Bíonn sé an-deacair ar dhaoine nuair atá siad ag fanacht agus ag fanacht. Guím gach rath ar an Aire in the upcoming game of snakes and ladders. I am sure he will not be sliding downwards.

Question put and agreed to.