Leaders' Questions

Two weeks ago we briefly discussed the sad passing of Thomas Power who could not access emergency heart treatment in Waterford University Hospital. Today Deputies Mary Butler and David Cullinane hosted a meeting in the Leinster House audio-visual room for public representatives at which Thomas Power’s sister gave a heart-rending account of the devastation endured by her and her family as a result of her brother’s untimely death. She used simple words to encapsulate the entire event, namely, that the doors had been closed to him in seeking access to emergency heart treatment or intervention. Thousands more in the south east are beyond the 90-minute window that cardiologists say is the essential timeframe within which to be treated from first medical contact. Others argue that it is less than that, but every minute counts, as the Taoiseach knows.

In 2012 a national assessment was made and Waterford University Hospital featured as a designated PCI, percutaneous coronary intervention, centre.

In essence, it was to be a centre for emergency heart treatment. The third appendix to the report identified the issues that would have to be addressed. Essentially, it stated that Waterford has the potential and needed a second cath lab. A configuration report by Professor Higgins again calls for an extension of the facilities at Waterford hospital in terms of PCI and interventional cardiology facilities.

A business report was presented in 2014. It was accepted by the clinical review team in the south east at the time and it was sent to the HSE. It was accepted and those concerned were told the facility was queued for funding. I spoke to Dr. Owens about this some time back. He is a very reasonable man. He, along with Dr. Colwell from South Tipperary General Hospital, Dr. Mark Doyle, an emergency medicine consultant, and others have all identified the lack of a second cath lab as a major risk to safety.

What happened in 2014-2015? Why was the second cath lab not proceeded with? Why was the essence of the 2012 report and the configuration report not acted on before 2016? Why has so little happened even since last year, when the Minister made commitments in here to give eight hours extra? Nothing has happened. With regard to the provision of the mobile cath lab, nothing has happened in the past 12 months. The national review we were promised has not happened either. People in the south east, in particular in Waterford, are very angry and they feel marginalised and alienated. They feel there is a lack of any meaningful response from the Government on this issue.

Once again, on behalf of the Government, I convey my sincere condolences to the family of Thomas Power on their very sad loss. As the Deputy knows, I cannot comment on individual cases. However, I stress the importance of patient confidentiality and patient privacy. The Minister for Health expects, as I do, that all proper procedures will take place with regard to the examination of the circumstances of Mr. Power's death, be it through a case review or an inquest, to find out what happened and why.

Last year, in line with the commitment in the programme for Government, an independent review of the need for a second cath lab at University Hospital Waterford was undertaken by Dr. Niall Herity, a world-renowned cardiology expert. The review concluded that the needs of the effective catchment population of University Hospital Waterford could be accommodated from a single cath lab. However, investment was recommended to enhance cardiology services at the hospital and provide an additional eight hours of activity per week to reduce waiting times and provide increased access for patients. At the time of the publication, the Minister, Deputy Harris, committed to providing the additional resources to the hospital. The HSE's national service plan of 2017 subsequently identified the implementation of the recommendations of the Herity report as a priority, and additional funding of €0.5 million was provided. An additional €0.5 million in funding was provided in 2017 to enable the hospital to provide two additional cath lab sessions per week, as per Dr. Herity's recommendations. The cath lab is now funded to provide 12 sessions, that is, 48 hours of activity per week. The HSE issued a tender, last week, for a mobile cath lab, which will contribute on an interim basis to the further reduction in elective cardiology waiting lists at the hospital. The Minister is also committed to a further review to assess the impact that these improvements have had on the volume of patients attending. This review will take place at the end of the deployment of the mobile cath lab.

With regard to emergency work at hospital, all decisions on how we configure our health services must be evidence based. Dr. Herity recommended that emergency work cease in order to allow the hospital to focus on the much larger volume of planned work and contribute to improved patient outcomes.

The organisation of primary PCI services is an issue for the whole country and it relates to how we provide services for our whole population, taking into account the best evidence available. The Minister for Health is, therefore, committed to a full national review of primary PCI services and his Department will make the arrangements for this to be undertaken based on the independent clinical expertise. This national review will, of course, include the south east of the country. It will seek to ensure that as many patients as possible can have access on a 24/7 basis to a safe and sustainable emergency intervention service following the type of heart attack in question. The review will, therefore, deal with the wider implications for all services in all parts of the country of Dr. Herity's recommendations regarding primary PCI services and come up with a plan for the achievement of the best patient outcomes possible, with clinical safety being paramount.

A man died because he could not get access to emergency heart treatment within any reasonable timeframe. People feel the time for review is over. I asked the Taoiseach a very specific question. The clinical review team said to go ahead with the second cath lab. A business case was made in 2013 and 2014. Who stopped that? Can someone give me a transparent answer to that question? Why was there a need for the Herity report at all when, according to the 2012 assessment of 12 designated centres, Waterford was identified as having the potential to become a PCI centre with expansion? Who actually stopped that in 2014 and 2015? The Minister of State, Deputy Halligan, is blaming invisible civil servants for stopping the Minister from doing what he wants to do.

The Taoiseach read out a statement about the national review. He could have been reading what the Minister, Deputy Harris, wrote in response to a parliamentary question ten months ago on 28 September of last year. He stated, "A national review of PPCI and PCI services is to be undertaken and completed by July 2017; recommendations will be made regarding the future configuration of these services, including the number and location of centres required to serve the population needs". The only difference is that the Taoiseach has moved it 12 months forward or maybe beyond. People feel that the Taoiseach has no credibility in reiterating meaningless statements of that kind.

Can the Taoiseach give me an indication or a reason as to why someone stopped the implementation of the 2012 recommendations and the actioning of that in terms of the business case of 2013 and 2014? The consultants in Waterford were making this case very strongly to everybody who would listen. They were clinicians as well. For some reason someone said we were not having that and that a new review was needed to bury this thing once and for all. I put it to the Taoiseach that if he follows the Herity report to the letter, which he seems to want to do, the idea of ceasing emergency heart treatment makes absolutely no sense.

The Taoiseach to respond. The time has expired.

It makes no sense. It is not tenable or workable in terms of patients in Waterford and the south east.

That is two minutes. I cannot allow it. The Taoiseach to respond.

I cannot answer that question for the Deputy. I do not know who stopped it or if anyone stopped it at all.

The Taoiseach was the Minister at the time.

As the Deputy will understand from the legislation he brought in to establish the HSE, those final decisions that are made in terms of funding-----

The Taoiseach decided on the review.

The Taoiseach without interruption.

-----were previously made by the HSE board and would subsequently be made by the Director General of the health service, and not by the line Minister of the time. That is and has been the case for the last ten years. Indeed, the HSE, which was established by Deputy Martin-----

The Taoiseach said that he would get rid of the HSE.

A man has died, Taoiseach.

The Taoiseach without interruption.

-----was established in part for that purpose in order to take clinical decisions and decisions such as that away from the Minister for Health or other politicians.

We need a Minister for Health to talk to.

There are two other points that I believe are worth making. The Deputy seems to be conflating the issue of a second cath lab with 24-7 services. One can have two cath labs and not have a 24-7 service. As was-----

We have neither now.

-----the case in St. Vincent's University Hospital for quite some time, a single cath lab ran a 24-7 service. Therefore, I believe there is an error in understanding there. We could have a single cath lab running a 24-7 service-----

Sorry, no. The absence of a second lab is a risk to safety.

-----and one can have two cath labs not running a 24-7 service. I believe it is important not to conflate the two issues. The Deputy also knows from his own time as Minister for Health that if it were possible to provide 24-7 emergency services of all sorts, not just cardiology, in every county or town, we would of course do so.

It is a regional issue.

It is a big area of the country.

However, it is not possible to do so. The reasons for that are that in order to make it sustainable, one needs to be able to staff it adequately. One also needs to have an adequate number of patient throughput for staff to retain their skills. That is why there is only a small number of these centres in the country. In Scotland, for example, which is a similar size country, there are only two.

The Government's own 2012 report identified it.

Last week, the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Denis Naughten, announced a new charging regime for the collection of household waste that is grossly unfair. It fails to recognise that many people will not be able to afford increased charges. The Taoiseach's Government failed to include any meaningful alleviation measures for those on low incomes. Citizens and families across the land have been left to the mercy of private operators, especially those who produce higher than average waste because of their age, disability, ill-health or family size.

Incredibly, the Taoiseach seems confident that a measly annual grant of €75, less than €1.50 per week, will make a difference. It would make Ebenezer Scrooge blush. It is in keeping with a nasty, mean-spirited Government that is implementing its nasty policies and mean-spirited choices with no regard for how ordinary people live.

The Taoiseach's lack of empathy on the issue is shameful. His indifference towards the people in question is predictable and it seems that his Government has learned nothing from the water charges debacle. He seems to think people across the State will simply take it lying down. The Government got it wrong on water charges and it is getting it wrong again on this issue. It fails to understand the anger its unjust charging scheme has provoked in communities. It seems that it just does not get it, but the nodders and winkers in Fianna Fáil will save the Government's bacon. Fianna Fáil's spoiler motion is aimed at blocking any real opposition to the imposition of the charging regime proposed.

(Interruptions).

It has been designed to get the Taoiseach's detached Government off the hook, but it will not prevent further hardship or protect the most vulnerable. Ordinary people are getting another sharp reminder that they just cannot trust Fianna Fáil to do what is fair. The Government and its partners in Fianna Fáil collaborate to ensure punitive charges will be imposed on those who simply cannot pay. The Government is creating a free-for-all designed to serve the profit-chasing instincts of commercial operators. Many are frightened that an increase in waste collection charges will make them the bill that will make it impossible to make ends meet. They are not interested in the Taoiseach's choice of socks, rather they are interested in what he is going to do to ensure they will not be exposed to an increase in their waste collection charges. As of today, his answers to questions indicate that he will do absolutely nothing to help. It seems that he is happy that a free-for-all will ensue. Will he try to break through his fog of indifference and lack of empathy? Is he happy that those on low incomes, the sick, those living with disabilities and large families will suffer directly as a result of his decisions? Will he immediately withdraw this unfair charging system and put in place a waiver scheme for vulnerable citizens?

The Taoiseach may have changed, but the scripted outrage of Sinn Féin has not. It is almost a cut and paste of a speech on a question on a similar issue not that long ago. Fundamentally, it is about the environment. Landfills in Ireland are filling up. We do not want any new dump. I do not know of a single Deputy in this House who would like to have a dump in his or her constituency or town. I do not know of a single person in the country who would like to have to live beside a new dump or landfill site. Therefore, we need to reduce the volume of waste and recycle, re-use and compost more. Charging for bin collection is not new. It has been the norm for householders for 15 years and there are no new charges proposed. There will be a new system of charges, but 50% of households already pay under it. They are the people who pay by lift and by weight and with or without a standing charge. Therefore, 50% of households have been paying under this system for quite some time and are well used to it.

The system will change for the 50% of households which are not paying under the new system, who pay a flat charge once a year, regardless of how much they throw away, but it will not change overnight. Contracts stand and remain. The new system will be phased in in the next 15 months. The Government does acknowledge that there is a concern about a sudden or massive hike in charges under the guise of a new system. We understand there is this concern and it is a legitimate fear people may have. We have, therefore, agreed to put in place a watchdog that will monitor prices. We reserve the right as a Government to bring forward price regulation if the industry hikes prices or uses the change as a cover to dramatically hike prices.

I should point out that it is not an unregulated industry. This is not a free-for-all. A licensing system is in place. Someone cannot just collect bins. He or she needs a licence in order to do so.

What we do not have is price regulation. Bear in mind that price regulation does not necessarily mean that prices will not go up. We have price regulation in many areas, such as for taxis, energy, aviation and just because there is price regulation does not necessarily mean that prices do not go up. The best way to ensure quality and standards is through licensing, which we have - one needs a licence from a local authority, the regulator, to collect bins - and also through competition. There is much competition. What will happen now is that the 50% of households that are not already on the new system will, over the course of the next 15 months, as their annual contracts expire, have bin companies come to them to offer options, possibly to pay by lift, to pay by weight, or to continue to pay an annual standing charge and then pay by lift or by weight. As I said already, half the country is already on the system.

I note that despite the fact that the Taoiseach may have changed, the same robotic, out of touch, insensitive politics still remain in place under the new regime. The Taoiseach seems to have great faith in the bin companies and the waste operators. He tells us that he is establishing a watchdog. He accepts that there is no price regulation. Good for him. He needs to remedy that and he needs to go much further. He needs to step outside of his robotic zone and connect himself with the real world, the world in which people now worry that they cannot afford this bill. That might sound like scripted outrage to the Taoiseach's delicate ears, but sadly, it is the reality that people have now experienced for many years under the watch of Fine Gael. It is important that those of us elected here come in and reflect that reality to people like the Taoiseach, who are clearly at some distance from it. What will the Taoiseach do for people in ill health, for people with disabilities, for our older citizens, and for large families that cannot make this bill? What alleviation measures will he introduce and when will we see the detail of them?

I assure the Deputy that I wish we could have a Parliament where we actually have a proper questions and answers session and serious debate rather than this level of-----

A Deputy

We could do that next week.

(Interruptions).

Do we not have that already?

The Taoiseach should be careful what he wishes for.

The clock is ticking.

(Interruptions).

If I may answer that-----

Deputy Mattie McGrath may get in later, so he should be good.

A Deputy

Where he gets in is the problem.

I do not think a single person in this House does not understand bins. We all have bins and we all put them out. There are plenty of people in this House who have been putting a tag on their bin for as long as they can remember. That is the kind of system that the country is going to move to, either payment by lift or payment by weight. Half the country has such a system already. It will be phased in for the other half over the next 15 months-----

It is a hardship.

Charging people by lift or by weight incentivises people to throw less away. That makes sense for all sorts of reasons-----

That is what education is for.

On the alleviation measure, Deputies will already be aware that the €75 grant will be brought in for people who have long-term illness and use incontinence pads. That will apply to half the country which already has the system and has not been receiving that grant. We have already announced that areas with a population of more than 500 will have to have brown bins. That gives people more of an opportunity to compost. In addition, €1.3 million has been provided for anti-dumping initiatives. There are 85 projects around the country to target areas where there is dumping. Another €9 million is being provided for enforcement by authorities. The EPA will continue to run its "stop food waste" campaign. The Repak programme-----

I am sure every pensioner in the land is dancing.

I am certainly going to give the Taoiseach the opportunity to listen and to reply. Some 15 years ago, the results of a study informed the Government and society. It was the sexual abuse and violence in Ireland study on the prevalence of sexual assault and violence in the country at the time. The groundbreaking study exposed facts which were very difficult for us to comprehend and deal with, giving an insight as to how difficult it must be for the victims of sexual and domestic violence. Up to 2002, the only figures available were based on the numbers seeking counselling or going to the Garda. The service providers were keenly aware that these figures were not reliable and were the tip of the iceberg.

The report, the sexual assault and violence in Ireland study to which I refer, saw 3,120 men and women participate. The landmark study confirmed exactly the concerns of the service providers. It established that more than 47% of those reporting abuse in SAVI had never told another person. Moreover, almost a quarter of the men who took part, 24%, and almost one third of women reported some level of abuse in childhood and a staggering figure of 40% of women and 28% of men reported some form of sexual assault or abuse during their lifetime.

Unfortunately, that was 15 years ago. That study has never been replicated or updated, leaving us in a situation where policy is being formulated and legislation enacted, if not in a vacuum, certainly in a very limited space.

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, in January of this year, told us that without accurate and comprehensive data the State itself cannot understand the extent of, not to mention deal with, sexual assault and domestic violence. The National Women's Council of Ireland has clearly told us the collection of data and analysis around domestic and sexual violence is at crisis point. The European Union fundamental rights agency revealed that Ireland has the second highest number of women avoiding places or situations for fear of being assaulted, etc. I could go on but I know the Taoiseach is listening carefully.

My question is very simple. Can the Taoiseach please commit to updating this study? I note the Tánaiste, who is sitting beside him, in her former life, made very positive comments in regard to this, acknowledged the need for evidence-based research and committed to a review if the funding could be found. I am simply saying to the Taoiseach we cannot afford not to find the funding, given the implications of this degree of sexual violence on every level of society.

I thank Deputy Connolly for raising this important issue in the House and assure her and the House of the Government's deep commitment to taking action against gender-based violence, sexual violence and domestic violence which all of us condemn and abhor.

The SAVI study was done in 2002, which as the Deputy stated, was 15 years ago. I am told there have been European studies that have given us some statistical evidence in this area since then and, of course, the priority over the past 15 years has been the development of services, many of which have improved considerably - for example, additional refuges, new legislation in this field and also additional funding for many of the organisations that provide support to those who are affected by gender-based violence.

It is a matter under consideration at present as to whether we have a second SAVI study. I agree that 15 years is a long time and a big gap to leave between two studies. It is costed at roughly €1 million, which is a considerable amount of money. Of course, it could be argued that €1 million would be better put into services and enforcement rather than into studies. However, that is something that needs to be considered by Government across different Departments because in order to plan services well, one needs good information and good statistics. It is certainly something that I will discuss with Ministers.

There is a point I can take the Taoiseach up on that he has not used in regard to that. I welcome the matter is under consideration but I would ask for a scála ama, a timescale, immediately. The Taoiseach referred to refuges. Let me confirm that, according to the Council of Europe, we need 446 family refuge places in Ireland; we have 143.

In regard to the cost, let me refer to the cost of a subsection of that violence, which is domestic violence. It costs €2.2 billion to the economy every year and I can tell the Taoiseach how that is laid out in terms of hospital visits, loss of productivity, etc.

In regard to putting funding into front-line services and not into research, the one follow-up that did take place of this groundbreaking research was four years later it was found that those who had participated, who had never before revealed sexual abuse, confirmed that it was a positive experience. Therefore, not only will the Government save money - perhaps I can get through to the Taoiseach on that level in terms of the cost of not dealing with being €2.2 billion - but on a psychological level, it is extremely good for the participants because this groundbreaking research and the follow-up were sensitively carried out.

That is what is important about this. We have no choice. I appeal to the Taoiseach. Referring to European facts is not helpful at this point. I have all of them and have carried out the research. I acknowledge the other Deputies, including those of Sinn Féin, the Labour Party, Fianna Fáil and Solidarity, who have repeatedly raised this issue.

First, the timeline for making any decision such as this will be in the context of the Estimates. Departments will know in October what the budget for next year is, provided it is voted through by this House. We will then be able to make a decision on whether we should have another sexual abuse and violence in Ireland report. I am told that the research conducted at European level is of good quality. The Departments concerned believe the associated statistical information is useful. As is always the case in any spending, there is not only the cost but also the opportunity cost. We will have to consider whether the €1 million might be better spent on services and in enforcement rather than on studies, but I accept the fundamental point the Deputy is making which is that if we want to plan services well, we need an evidence base behind them. I draw attention to the new legislation brought through in recent times. It is both important and significant. It provides for protection orders, whereby a woman or a man who is the victim of domestic violence can stay in the home rather than having to move to a refuge. The new orders and the new law put personal safety ahead of property rights. It is progressive legislation which means that instead of a victim of violence having to leave home, it is the perpetrator who must go.

Fishermen, fisher-women and the fishing industry in general have been the poor relation in Irish politics. The fishing industry has struggled to be recognised as the second most important in the country owing to a lack of vision shown by successive Governments. On Sunday the British who have been sweetening the Irish Government up to now with some nice words about Brexit came out and showed, in respect of the fishing industry, that they wanted to see a hard Brexit. They want Irish trawlers out of British waters, in which up until now we have fished 60% of our mackerel stock and 40% of our prawn stock. Also, European trawlers will have to exit British waters. The Taoiseach knows well to where they will turn when this happens: straight into Irish waters. In recent years some €2.5 million worth of Irish fish has left the port of Castletownbere alone weekly in foreign vessels for Spain. This is an extraordinary loss to Irish fishermen and the economy. In an interview on RTE Radio 1 on Sunday the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Michael Creed, when pushed on the announcement made by the British, accepted that it would be a disaster if it were to happen. However, what was most worrying was that when the Minister was pushed further, he accepted that the Government had no plan B. In all honesty, it has no plan A or plan B for Irish fishermen and Governments have not had for many years.

Recently at the Joint Committee on Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs representatives of fishing organisations were present for several hours. The unfair way in which many fishermen are being treated is scandalous, to say the least. Fishermen from the south west only possess 13% of mackerel fishing rights, while those in the north west possess 87%. Public representatives and the Irish South and West Fish Producers Organisation did their best on the day to put the case. We said all we wanted was that if a further quota became available, fishermen in the south west should be given first choice, but all of our efforts will fall on deaf ears.

Fishermen are facing and have faced some tough years. Inshore fishermen have been almost totally forgotten. In 2007 the Government of the day introduced a ban on drift-net fishing for salmon in Irish waters. This had a devastating effect on all coastal communities. Drift-net fishing for salmon was the lifeblood of offshore islands and rural communities where the only employment to be gained was in fishing or farming. The ban should never have been introduced and was to have been reviewed after seven years. Ten years later, there has been no review and none is planned. In 2007 inshore fishermen were blamed for the drop in salmon stocks, but the so-called experts have been proved wrong as stocks have not yet recovered. In turn, it has led to anglers and other bodies seeking a seal cull.

The Taoiseach has a unique opportunity to be different from his predecessors in respect of the fishing industry. How does he intend to deal with the announcement made by the British over the weekend?

How does he propose to deal with the massive anomaly whereby south west fishermen have only 13% of the mackerel rights? In regard to inshore fishermen, will the Taoiseach provide for a review of the salmon drift net fishing ban, which is now three years overdue? If the Taoiseach and the Government are serious about the importance of the fishing industry, will he appoint a designated Minister for the marine with sole responsibility for rebuilding the fishing industry in this country?

The announcement by the UK that it is withdrawing from the London Fisheries Convention is very unwelcome. It is important to note that this forms part of the UK's approach and negotiating position to broader Brexit negotiations. The announcement will have no immediate affect, as the withdrawal process for the convention takes at least two years.

As the Deputy will be aware, 35% of the fish that we land is taken from UK waters, including very valuable fish such as mackerel and prawn. I was interested to learn in my study of this issue that we take so much of our fish from UK waters. We hear often about the amount of fish that is taken from our waters by others but, as I said, 35% of the fish we land, is taken from British waters. As noted yesterday by Michel Barnier, the UK decision to withdraw from the convention does not trigger any immediate change. He is now focused on prioritising the fisheries interests of the EU 27. The threats posed by Brexit to the Irish fishing industry were discussed as recently as last Thursday at a session hosted by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Creed, with the industry at Seafest in Galway. This dialogue with the industry will continue as the situation evolves.

The Minister, Deputy Creed, and his Department have been working closely with their counterparts in other EU member states that have a particular interest in the north west waters. A unified front on these matters and a united negotiating position by all of these countries is what is best for Ireland and the EU. The Minister, Deputy Creed, will also be speaking to the UK Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Gove, MP, this week regarding this matter and other priority issues in the agriculture and fisheries sectors. If there is additional quota, we will strive to ensure that Ireland gets a fair share of it, bearing in mind sustainability. Fisheries stocks all around the world, particularly around Europe, have been horrendously depleted in the last number of decades due to over-fishing. It is not in any of our interests in the long term that that should continue, for all the obvious reasons.

In terms of mackerel, the mackerel review is ongoing. No decision has yet been taken on it but once a decision is taken the Minister, Deputy Creed, will make an announcement. The Minister for Agriculture, Marine and Food is the Minister with responsibility for the marine and he as at the Cabinet table.

I thank the Taoiseach for his reply. I do not agree with him that there is not a need for a designated Minister for the marine. The potential to this country is huge if we had a Minister for the marine. Until this is addressed, as I said earlier, the fishing industry will remain the poor relation in Irish politics. I also asked the Taoiseach about the unfair mackerel quota system. I do not think he is clear on this issue. As I said earlier, 87% of the quota goes to the north west and only 13% goes to the south west. If any additional quota becomes available the situation in the south west will have to be addressed going forward. The Taoiseach did not mention the inshore sector, where up to 85% of the fleet are also entitled to a fair share of the quota and not the crumbs. This Government and previous Governments have not realised the social economic benefit which small inshore boats bring to communities. They far outweigh what the big fleets bring.

I urge the Taoiseach to explore why salmon levels are decreasing, which is of concern to inshore fishermen and anglers. If the Taoiseach will not accede to my earlier request of a review of the drift net salmon ban, will he at least set up a pilot scheme to allow a small number of boats in each county, under the guidance of the Marine Institute to ascertain stocks at sea? If this Government remains laid back on the fishing industry it will have far-reaching implications for this country.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Constitution provides for only 15 Ministers at the Cabinet table. To establish a new Department of the marine it would be necessary to abolish another Department. For the duration of this Government, the marine sector will continue to form part of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. There are obvious synergies in having agriculture, food and the marine together, for reasons I am sure the Deputy understands.

In regard to the mackerel issue, I am aware that there is ongoing competition between the fisheries in the south west and the fisheries in Donegal and Killybegs in terms of quota. As I said earlier, the review is ongoing. The Minister, Deputy Creed, has not yet made a decision on the matter but once he has made a decision the Deputy and the industry will be notified of it.

On the inshore issue, I will come back to the Deputy on that matter as I do not have up-to-date information on it today.