Leaders' Questions

For some time we, and Deputy Lisa Chambers in particular, have been raising with the Government the crisis among all ranks and at all levels in the Defence Forces in terms of morale, the retention of specialist personnel, pay and conditions, the retention of members generally and health and safety to no avail. It is fair to say that the Government's collective head is in the sand regarding the crisis relating to this issue.

Researchers at the University of Limerick, in an unprecedented piece of work, having interviewed and gained observations from more than 600 serving personnel reveal a shocking story of neglect of our Defence Forces, which underpin our very democracy. There is near unanimous agreement, across all ranks and age profiles, that the Defence Forces, comprising the Army, the Naval Service and the Air Corps, are all at risk. Some officers have told how they are kept awake at night by concerns about whether work carried out on aircraft in the Air Corps leaves them safe for flying because so many experienced personnel have left. One officer said, "There is going to be a huge safety issue in the Air Corps", while another, referring to pay and conditions, stated, "The Defence Forces has been turned into a JobBridge". Some chaplains have said that they have given up encouraging people to say in the uniform. A number of privates spoke of struggling to survive, often depending on their parents.

I will cite some quotations, namely: "People have to leave to survive"; "I can't get a mortgage. Some members are even on family income supplement."; and "People are sleeping in cars." At one point, someone says, "This is unacceptable". In the context of health and safety issues, one senior officer, citing absence of middle management as a significant cause, stated, "We are already seeing it in the Army - little accidents. There is going to be a big accident". Two other quotes are: "It's going to come and if it keeps on unravelling it will come. We fear a serious incident with a number of deaths ... It could be overseas"; and "In the Air Corps we have seen that [already] with three or four fatal accidents".

Air Corps ground crews are working too many hours. In the Naval Service, there are not enough personnel to man seven ships, never mind eight. Women returning from maternity leave feel they are discriminated against, often paraded. People feel that under no circumstances can they access mental health services or admit they are affected by stress or any similar issue.

Does the Deputy have a question?

The fundamental question I want to put to the Taoiseach relates to whether he accepts that there is a deep crisis within our Defence Forces. Does the Government accept that? This is a crisis that calls for an exceptional response. Is the Taoiseach satisfied regarding the position vis-à-vis health and safety issues, particularly in our Air Corps, and can he confirm that?

I thank the Deputy.

When will somebody in government shout "Stop" in respect of this ongoing decline?

First, on behalf of the Government, I want to once again express our very strong support for our Defence Forces - the Army, the Naval Service and the Air Corps. The Government is very proud of the role our Defence Forces play, whether it is around the world on missions such as in Mali, which I discussed with President Macron yesterday, or in Lebanon, whether it is in the context of what they did last week in helping the civil power to deal with the effects of Storm Ophelia, or whether it is the part they play in so many different ceremonies, including those relating to the centenary of the 1916 Rising last year. We very much support, value and respect our Defence Forces.

As the Deputy will be aware, a very successful recruitment process is currently under way to bring at least 800 replacements into the Defence Forces. Recruitment was never halted even during the recession, unlike in other areas. Also, the budget for the Defence Forces has been increased for next year, which is hugely significant.

In terms of difficulty in recruiting people with particular skills to the Defence Forces, we accept that this is an issue. It is certainly an issue in the Air Corps because pilots and air traffic controllers can be paid much more to work in the same jobs in the private sector. That is now occurring not only in the Defence Forces but in parts of the public service. It is not universally the case across the public service but it is the same in some parts of the service in the context of certain roles, including some within the Defence Forces. What are we doing about it? We are doing two things. First, public sector pay restoration is under way. This is happening across the public sector. We agreed only a few weeks ago with the trade unions an extension to the Lansdowne Road agreement, which provides for two pay increases next year and provides for a full pay restoration for over 90% of public servants within the next couple of years. This action will very much reverse the pay cuts which were a feature of the Deputy's time in government and that continued into the early years of the previous Government. However, those cuts are being reversed now. In terms of some of the new recruits, pay restoration will be in the region of €5,000 a year, which is significant.

When it comes to particular areas within particular parts of the public service in respect of which we have a difficulty recruiting and retaining people because the private sector pays better, the Cabinet last week decided to refer those issues for a detailed study to the Public Service Pay Commission. Some of the areas involved are in health and others are in the Defence Forces. We have particular difficulties in recruiting and retaining people to certain professions in these areas. We look forward to the commission's report, particularly as it will look at the matter objectively. It will study the reasons for the difficulty in recruitment and retention, where it is and is not a feature within particular branches of the public service, and what might be done to rectify matters. It is not all about pay. As the Deputy will be aware, it can often be about other issues. We very much look forward to receiving that report and being able to act on it.

I asked the Taoiseach a very simple question: does he accept - yes or no - that there is a deep crisis within our Defence Forces? His reply does not tally with the testimony of more than 600 personnel in an unprecedented piece of research conducted by the University of Limerick. There has been other supporting evidence regarding this crisis. I also asked whether he is satisfied about the health and safety of people working in the Defence Forces, particularly the Air Corps. I instanced some quotations from the research in regard to genuine fears and concerns about the capacity of the Air Corps and safety issues relating to the corps. I ask him, very simply, whether he is satisfied about health and safety within the Air Corps? He failed to reference the shocking failure in the context of the retention of Army personnel. With recruitment, people come in but others are flooding out. I reference Senator Gerard Craughwell's contribution to the Seanad yesterday. The Senator knows a thing or two about the Army, having served in it previously. He said that never in his experience has the Army, the Naval Service or the Air Corps been neglected so much by Government and never have they been at such a low ebb than is currently the case.

We do not need the kind of typical response we tend get in respect of this matter.

What people are looking for - I refer here to the wives of Army personnel and those who have traditionally been associated with the Army - is some sense of acknowledgement of their plight and crisis. We have been raising this matter for well over a year and there is no sense of a solution coming from Government at all.

To answer the Deputy's question, a crisis, no, but real substantive issues that need to be dealt with, absolutely. We completely accept that there are issues in the context of recruitment and retention in particular parts of the public service, including the Air Corps. In terms of health and safety, the Minister of State with responsibility for defence has received an assurance from the general officer commanding, GOC, of the Air Corps that any issues around health and safety will be dealt with. We have no specific concerns, therefore, in the context of health and safety. The Minister of State, Deputy Kehoe, will meet the representative associations to discuss the findings of this particular report. It is important to say that since the report was compiled, PDFORRA has signed up to the Lansdowne Road agreement. It did so in March, which was after the report was compiled. That allowed for the commencement of pay increases and payment in arrears to its members. These improved pay scales have now been implemented and backdated to 1 July. The Minister of State will attend the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers, RACO, conference in the next week or so.

It is also worth mentioning the kind of investment that is now going into the Defence Forces. There is a capital allocation of €406 million for the next six years, which is very significant. That comprises: €250 million for new Naval Service ships to replace existing vessels; €55 million for armoured personnel carriers as part of a programme running over five or six years; a Cessna aircraft replacement programme, the tender for which is ongoing; €11 million to purchase armoured utility and logistics vehicles; and €5 million for replacement Pilatus aircraft. In terms of barracks, €33 million worth of projects are now at various stages of construction, including: €3 million to upgrade the accommodation in the Curragh; €3.8 million for the locker block refurbishment at Cathal Brugha Barracks in Dublin; and €2.7 million for an upgrade to Custume Barracks in Athlone. By any measure, that is a significant capital investment programme taking place in the years ahead.

I want to talk to the Taoiseach about the North and about his Government's recent briefings to the media. Last week, press reports attributed to briefings from the Government said that Sinn Féin's leader in the North, Michelle O'Neill, did a deal with the DUP to restore the Executive but that she was blocked by senior members of the party. Michelle is a senior member of the party. In fact, she is the party's nominee for the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister when we get the institutions back in place. These briefings on the part of the Taoiseach's Government were untruthful, malicious and shameful. They were in line with his remarks to Teachta McDonald a few weeks ago. He said then that it is no wonder the people of Northern Ireland do not have an Executive "because this is the attitude of Sinn Féin. They are constantly hectoring and making smart aleck remarks. There is a lack of temperance, a lack of respect for other people and an inability to listen or to compromise." These were the Taoiseach's words, which reflect the attitude that underpinned last week's briefings and the claims that there was a basis for a deal and that Michelle O'Neill and Conor Murphy have been hung out to dry. None of this is true. In fairness to the DUP, Arlene Foster contradicted the spin to the effect that a deal was imminent last week.

Let me say again for the record that Sinn Féin's endeavour is to have the institutions reestablished and functioning properly as quickly as possible. I was in Stormont yesterday, on Monday and last week. I dealt with these issues this morning and will do so again later. I know that the process is slow. That is because of the resistance to change within elements of political unionism. These stubborn elements are being humoured by the British Government in denying citizens their rights, and the Taoiseach is tolerating it. These talks are essentially about implementing existing agreements that have been broken.

Equality, identity and rights are central to this. These are rights to which citizens are entitled in every other part of these islands. These are rights contained in the Good Friday Agreement and other agreements. Perhaps the Taoiseach would advise me on which of these rights citizens in the North should give up. Perhaps he would also advise the Dáil on how he discharged his responsibilities and how he approached the British Prime Minister in respect of these fundamental matters. It is no coincidence that the Government's briefings ran parallel with briefings from the British Government, although theirs were much more temperate. On reflection, why would this not be so, when they have the Taoiseach's shiny new communications unit to do the nasty briefings? Will the Taoiseach tell the Dáil and the people of this island the purpose of the briefings? What exactly was he trying to achieve?

I really have little or no knowledge of the internal politics of Sinn Féin-----

That is obvious.

-----or any internal disagreements or rivalries that may exist and I have no particular interest in them, either. That is all I can say about that.

What is required now is that since the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin - the major parties in Northern Ireland - have been given a mandate on several occasions by the citizens of Northern Ireland, they should come together, reach an agreement-----

What about the agreement?

-----and get the Executive up and running. They should have the assembly meeting, which would thereby allow us to meet Ministers from Northern Ireland, as we did in the past, at the North-South Ministerial Council. They should allow Northern Ireland to have a voice and a say when it comes to Brexit through the Joint Ministerial Council and they should allow a First Minister and Deputy First Minister to attend the British-Irish Council in Jersey next month. I will be attending with the Scottish and Welsh First Ministers but, once again, Northern Ireland will be unrepresented and absent.

What Sinn Féin seems to be doing - Deputy Adams is doing it today and perhaps was trying to do it last week as well - is setting the scene to ensure that somebody else gets the blame for the failure to come to an agreement in Northern Ireland.

Who authorised the briefings?

It is what Deputy Adams has done in this House in the past few minutes. He cannot blame people for carrying out shadowy briefings; he did it himself in this Chamber in the past few minutes. He spoke about stubborn elements in political unionism. That is not a good way to talk about people with whom he is trying to reach an agreement. He refers to stubborn elements in political unionism and then attacks the Government and its British counterpart.

This does not sound like the language of somebody who is trying to lead his party into an agreement with the unionists or into co-operation with the British and Irish Governments.

This sounds like somebody who has already given up and is trying to spread the blame to others.

I never give up. The Taoiseach has learned nothing. I asked him a straightforward question. These were briefings from his Government. What about accountability? What about transparency? I asked him what they were about and he did not answer. The Taoiseach should also explain why a Government source accused Sinn Féin - as the Taoiseach has done just now - of being more focused on preparing for direct rule than on restoring the institutions in the North. Why am I particularly concerned about this accusation? It is because I wrote to the Taoiseach almost a fortnight ago about his Government's responsibility to prevent British direct rule in keeping with a long-standing agreement with the British. I have yet to receive a reply to that letter, although the briefing followed it.

Why would the Taoiseach want to undermine Michelle O'Neill? Over 70% of nationalists in the North voted for the party she leads. Does the Taoiseach think those citizens do not read his remarks? They are absolutely dearg le fearg with him over the tone he has taken up. It is as if John Bruton was back in the Taoiseach's office.

With respect to the Taoiseach, Deputy Varadkar, and John Bruton, the Taoiseach has to fulfil his responsibilities, his obligations and his duty to the people of the entire island. In particular, he must deal with the British Prime Minister as an equal and ensure that both Governments honour their obligations. That is much more difficult than last week's carry on. It is much more difficult than the Taoiseach's glib answers of a moment ago. It would, however, be much more beneficial to everyone, particularly the people in the North.

I have no difficulty speaking for myself. I think anyone in this House will know that I speak my mind and do not mince my words. I do not need to operate through Government briefings and I am not going to account for Government briefings any more than I would expect Deputy Adams to account for Sinn Féin briefings or unattributed sources in newspapers. What I have said, I have said very clearly. The primary responsibility to form an Executive in Northern Ireland falls to Sinn Féin and the DUP. They are the ones who went out and knocked on doors in several elections and sought a mandate from the citizens of Northern Ireland. They got a mandate and there is now a situation whereby the North could be the worst affected area in the European Union when it comes to Brexit but where there are no elected Ministers to speak for the people. We have a situation where the money for public services is running out.

The British Government may have to introduce a budget from London because politicians in Northern Ireland are willing to allow money to run out for education, health care and other services. There are enormous challenges to be dealt with. I ask Deputy Adams and his colleagues to make the necessary compromises to enable an agreement to be reached. In forming a coalition it is always necessary to make compromises. Fine Gael had to make many compromises to form the last two coalitions. It is important not to look for cover for those compromises. Make them, own them and defend them and do not try to spread the blame.

I raise an issue of huge concern to both my constituents in Cork South-West and people all over the country. I speak of people who have been left hurt, sick and frustrated by the incompetence and delays on the part of the Health Service Executive, HSE.

For the many reasons I will outline, elder care is at an all time low. Yesterday, a 90 year old man from Bantry, west Cork, travelled 503 km over five hours to Kingsbridge Hospital, Belfast for a cataract operation, which took place this morning. Mr. John Patrick Harrington, is, as I said, 90 years old and is a carer for his wife. He is blind in one eye and was fast losing sight in his second eye such that an urgent operation was needed. His family was told that he could wait up to four years to have the procedure carried out under the HSE. While the proposed solution, which has now taken place, was against my own principles, I discussed it with the management of Kingsbridge Hospital in the context of the cross-border health care directive. The hospital, in turn, contacted the patient in Bantry on 2 October and 23 days on, as we speak, John Patrick, had his operation carried out in what the family describe as a stunning facility, and is now on the five-hour journey home to Bantry. Does the Taoiseach accept that this is a failure of the health system in this country? Is it also a failure to care for the elderly in our country, many of whom worked tirelessly and are now left suffering and in need of simple procedures? Is it right that I am now seeking volunteer drivers from west Cork to take elderly people to Belfast for simple operations that cannot be carried out in the South of Ireland?

I also want to draw the attention of the Taoiseach to a similar matter which, again, affects our elderly. Bandon Community Hospital is a state-of-the-art facility operated efficiently by management and staff. The extension and refurbishment works ongoing at that hospital for the past year and a half were completed in August 2017 but no patient has yet been allowed pass through its doors owing to the refusal of the HSE to adequately staff it, resulting in many elderly patients who urgently require beds having to travel 40 miles to Macroom Community Hospital for a bed, a journey for which no public transport is available. The Friends of Bandon Community Hospital and the people of Bandon have fundraised hundreds of thousands of euro only to see the newly-renovated hospital lie idle while the HSE twiddles its thumbs. Is this the right way to treat elderly people in west Cork or in any part of the country?

In Bantry General Hospital, the contracts of a senior consultant, Mr. Aboghaly, and his registrar, Dr. Khan, expired two weeks ago. We now hear that interviews for their replacements have taken place in the past number of days and that replacements are imminent. Surely the HSE knew months in advance that these contracts were due to expire such that interviews could have taken place sooner. However, this did not happen and the much-needed surgical unit in Bantry hospital is now in jeopardy. Mr. Aboghaly was a consultant of excellence and his loss will have a huge affect on many elderly people in west Cork who relied on him. Again, I ask the Taoiseach, is this the right way to deal with our elderly and health care in west Cork?

I apologise but I do not have any specific information on Bandon Community Hospital or Bantry General Hospital but I will ask the Minister for Health to respond to the Deputy as soon as is possible. In regard to the individual case he raised, I am sorry to hear that the gentleman had to wait so long for his cataract operation.

He is one of thousands.

I am sure that for a long time before that, he would have been affected by loss of vision and all that comes with that, including isolation which I know can be much worse in a rural area. I am pleased to note that he was able to avail of the cross-border health care directive, which means his treatment was funded by the HSE and by the Irish taxpayer even though he had to travel to another jurisdiction for it. One of the benefits of EU membership is that people can avail of the cross-border directive. The number of people availing of it is increasing all of the time. I would like to see more people, at least, consider the option of having their treatment in another EU country and having it paid for by the Irish State. It would, of course, be preferable that people would be able to have these operations in their own counties or, at least, their own country. To try to achieve this, the Deputy will be aware that under budget 2017, funding for the National Treatment Purchase Fund was increased significantly from approximately €20 million in 2017 to €55 million in 2018. In addition to this, a further €20 million is being provided to the HSE to enable it to reopen, staff and fully equip theatres in orthopaedic, ophthalmic and ENT hospitals to allow for an increase in the volume of these procedures to be carried out, including hip, knee and cataract operations. As part of this programme, an additional 20,000 such operations will be carried out in the next year. I sincerely hope that in the months ahead men and women with conditions and problems similar to that of the gentleman mentioned will get their treatment much quicker.

The Deputy will also be aware from the National Treatment Purchase Fund statistics that the number of people waiting for an operation or inpatient procedure has fallen for two months in a row. We anticipate that when the new data are published in a week or so, they will show the numbers have fallen for three months in a row. We have a long way to go but it is encouraging that after a long time, the number of people waiting on operations is now falling again.

I thank the Taoiseach for his reply. In regard to the 90 year old gentleman who, as I said, is currently on a five-hour journey to west Cork having had his operation carried out in Kingsbridge Hospital, Belfast, why is it not possible to have procedures of that type carried out in Cork or, at least in the South of Ireland? Why can our health service not treat our elderly in the same way as they can be treated in the North? Some 25 days on from when the first contact was made with Kingsbridge Hospital, the gentleman concerned has had his operation.

In regard to Bandon Community Hospital and Bantry General Hospital, I urge the Taoiseach to speak to the Minister for Health about the issue I have raised. These are two excellent centres and they need to be open to the public. We need to know the surgical unit in Bantry General Hospital is safe. Can the Taoiseach assure me today that services at the surgical unit will not be cut back and that there will be no closure of services at Bantry General Hospital, which provides treatment in a catchment area of up to 90,000 people?

As I said earlier, health care is at an all-time low. Terminally ill patients are begging for medical cards, home help hours are being cut to the bare minimum and some carers must wait months on end for their payments to come through. Often persons have passed away before a carer's allowance application has been approved. This lack of care and compassion for our elderly is unacceptable. This is all happening on the Taoiseach's watch.

When it comes to our health service, I acknowledge that we can do better. We do very well in lots of areas. It is important to recognise that and to recognise the work of our health service staff in that regard. Life expectancy in Ireland has improved considerably in recent years. This did not happen by accident. It is the result of better public health and a better health service. The number of cancer deaths is falling. The number of cardiovascular deaths by, for example, stroke and heart attack is falling considerably. Having not built any public hospitals in well over a decade, there are now three new public hospitals under construction, including the national children's hospital, the national forensic mental health hospital and the new national rehabilitation hospital in Dún Laoghaire, in respect of which I had the pleasure of turning the sod with the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, earlier this week. We now have free GP care for children under six and pensioners over 70. We are reducing prescription charges and diabetic care can now be provided in GP surgeries. We are also seeing improvements in public health in terms of the decrease in alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking. We have very good screening programmes that are much better than those in other countries, for example, around breast and colorectal and cervical cancer. There are lots of good things happening in our health service. We should be fair to people who work in health services and fair in general in acknowledging this.

The Deputy is correct that we can do better. I have outlined to him how we intend to do better when it comes to cataract procedures in particular. It is also important to point out that when it comes to people who are waiting, often the figures do not tell the full story. When it comes to the hundreds of thousands of people who are waiting for an appointment or a procedure and operation, more than half will wait less than six months and approximately one third will wait less than three months. We should aim to get to a position where it is much better than that and in which the vast majority of people wait no more than three months but we have a long way to go.

That is not right. The Taoiseach should visit Kerry to see what is happening there.

During Leaders' Questions on 5 April this year I raised the issue of the tracker mortgage fraud with the then Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, and I told him what has been appearing in the media in recent weeks.

I did not have a whistleblower within the banking system but, rather, a healthy suspicion of senior bankers backed up by 30 years of banking scandals and rip-offs such as the DIRT scandal, the Ansbacher accounts, the bogus non-resident accounts and the destruction of the country by the banks during the boom-bust period. I knew, as did every Irish citizen, that the banks and senior bankers have no moral compass. The tracker mortgage fraud is a huge scandal that requires criminal investigation. I asked the former Taoiseach, Deputy Enda Kenny, to make a formal complaint to the Garda and call in the fraud squad to investigate banks. I told him that any delay in ordering a Garda investigation could lead to the destruction or alteration or both of relevant records with a view to blaming subordinates and junior staff. In an effort to protect the banks and senior bankers, he refused to call in the Garda. Six months later, all Members can see the extent of the massive fraud involving 15 banks and €1 billion and affecting 20,000 or more mortgage holders. It is abundantly clear that the scandal involves collusion by the banks in a systemic and widespread fraud. It is a scandal that the Garda has still not been sent into the banks and that no formal complaint has been made to it. Does the Taoiseach accept that if the then Taoiseach, Deputy Kenny, had agreed to my demand six months ago to send the fraud squad into the banks, much fraud could have been avoided and much trauma, pain and even deaths and self harm prevented? Will the Taoiseach at long last send in the Garda fraud squad today in order that senior bankers can be held to account? Does he accept that until senior bankers are made subject to the normal criminal fraud law, more people will become victims of this kind of bank crime?

The Central Bank has engaged the Garda on the matter and because that has been done, it is probably inappropriate for me to comment upon it except to say that this is a democracy and neither the Taoiseach nor the former Taoiseach nor the Minister for Justice and Equality can send in the Garda or the fraud squad. A complaint is made to the Garda and considered and the Garda then decides whether it needs to carry out an investigation or a raid. I do not know if Deputy Healy made a complaint to the Garda at that time but it would have been open to him to so do.

The people who should be at the front of our minds are the 20,000 individuals and families who have been affected by the scandal. Considering the average size of a household, there are probably 40,000 people behind the 20,000 accounts. Almost 1% of the country's population has been affected by this issue and subjected to unnecessary stress, financial hardship and in some cases lost their homes or investment properties. As we said last week, that banks incorrectly removed people from tracker mortgages was a serious breach of trust. We also believe some banks have been dragging their feet in solving this problem at a real human cost. We are in the middle of a complex process but affected customers should have their tracker mortgages restored and be fully compensated as a matter of priority. The Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe, met the chief executive officers of the main banks such as Bank of Ireland, AIB, Ulster Bank, Permanent TSB and KBC and sought a detailed explanation from each bank as to the status of its tracker redress programme, an explanation for why the process has been so unbelievably slow and its plans for resolving it quickly. Although the Central Bank as regulator is a fully independent body, the Minister has contacted it to make sure it has sufficient powers and resources to ensure the banks resolve the problem. The Government will take further action in the coming weeks and months if there is not further swift progress on the matter resulting in the restoration of those 20,000 people and their families to the correct interest rate, as well as full compensation and redress.

The Taoiseach said the Central Bank has been in contact with the Garda but he knows that no formal complaint has been made either by the Central Bank or the Taoiseach, who is quite entitled to make a complaint. The banks have a 30-year history of scandal after scandal and have been rewarded for that. The public was forced to bail them out to the tune of €64 billion and citizens have suffered desperate austerity and deprivation as a result. Variable rate mortgage holders are being ripped off by having to pay twice the EU average rate. Unfortunately, successive Governments have protected the bankers. The Minister, Deputy Donohoe, was sent in to discuss the issue and admonish the banks, whatever that means. At best, it is a slap on the wrist. It is possible that the banks will be fined. The Taoiseach knows that any fine levied on the banks will be paid by their customers. Why is the Government deliberately avoiding sending in the Garda and making a formal complaint on the matter as either the Taoiseach or the Government could? Is it not now clear that banks and bankers can only be brought to their senses by criminal investigation? The Taoiseach should send in forensic accountants from the Garda and the fraud squad and should do so now.

The Central Bank has engaged the Garda Síochána on the matter.

Has it made a formal complaint?

It is not within the------

Has a formal complaint been made?

The Government does not have the authority to order in the fraud squad and that is not how it works.

Has the Central Bank made a formal complaint?

Deputy Healy should allow the Taoiseach to conclude.

I do not know whether a formal complaint has been made. It is open to any citizen in the State------

Has the Taoiseach made a formal complaint? It is open to him to so do.

-----who believes a crime has been committed and has evidence to back that up to make a formal complaint to the Garda. If the Deputy believes a crime has been committed and has evidence to back that up, he should make a complaint now. If he has not already done so, perhaps he should have made it many months ago.