An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

The business this week shall be as set out in the first revised report of the Business Committee, dated 5 March 2019. Today's business shall be No. a11, motion re sittings and business of Dáil for 5 to 7 March 2019, to be taken without debate and any division demanded thereon shall be taken immediately; No. b11, motion re instruction to committee of the whole Dáil for the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2019, to be taken without debate and any division demanded thereon shall be taken immediately; No. 11, motion re financial resolutions for the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2019; No. 12, motion re Istanbul Convention; No. 13, motion re proposed approval by Dáil Éireann of the terms of the convention on social security between the Government of Ireland and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, back from committee; and No. 30, Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2019 - Committee and Remaining Stages.

Wednesday’s business shall be No. 30, resumed.

Thursday’s business shall be No. 30, resumed. Private Members' business shall be No. 211, motion re local drugs and alcohol task forces.

Is the proposal for dealing with today's business agreed?

I call Deputy McDonald.

The purpose of this emergency legislation is to guard against the worst effects of a hard Brexit. I think everybody in the House has co-operated with Government because we recognise the necessity for contingencies for such a scenario. It is inexplicable therefore how so many of our amendments, moved in that spirit of being prepared, have been ruled out of order. They have covered such things as equality of citizenship and dealing with green card measures to support agriculture. I could go on. Some 25 of our amendments have been ruled out of order. It raises a question for us as to the quality of this debate and exchange and the robustness of the legislation. We were encouraged to co-operate with the Government, which is fine. We were told that we would be listened to and there would be an opportunity for substantive amendments to be brought forward, yet here we are, with 25 amendments on critical issues that have simply been set aside. Speaking to some colleagues earlier, they now regard the debate as something of a sham because it is a precooked outcome from the Government and we are to operate as some kind of elaborate rubber stamp. On that basis, we do not support the proposition. I would like substantiation of how so many of these amendments represent a charge on the State. They have been ruled out of order wholesale and we are very disappointed.

It is not normal to discuss the ruling out of amendments on the floor of the House, but to be helpful, I should point out that the ruling out of amendments is nothing whatsoever to do with Government. Some 74 amendments were tabled to the Bill. They got the highest level consideration from the Service before they were ruled upon. Some 38 of the 74 have been ruled out of order. Each Deputy who submitted an amendment has received correspondence setting out clearly why they were considered to be out of order. I have written to Deputies to say that I am available after this sitting to meet with any Deputy who wants to discuss the ruling out of an amendment.

I am sorry, Deputy Cullinane, only leaders can come in on this matter.

I do not accept that.

The Deputy does not accept that he is not the Leader.

The Standing Order which was used to rule out a number of the proposed amendments states that the basis on which they can be ruled out of order is that they are in conflict with the principle of the Bill. How could an amendment we proposed, about ruling out under any circumstances physical infrastructure between North and South in the form of a border, not be in line with the objectives of the Bill or how could it be deemed to be in conflict with a Bill that specifies in its description that it is a Bill to deal with the potential consequences of no deal and to prevent "disturbance" to the South in economic or other terms? How could, for example, asking that British driving licences would be recognised in the South be in conflict with the Bill? It is incomprehensible and it renders the debate a sham.

First and foremost it is not in order to discuss this matter on the floor of the House. I am quite willing to meet anyone who wants to come to discuss with me and the Service the decisions that have been made in respect of their individual amendments.

On something as important as this the public needs to know.

That decision is not made here in this Chamber-----

Sinn Féin should not have supported Brexit.

----and has never been.

Deputy smart alec O'Brien.

Aontraím leis an rún atá curtha os comhair na Dála ag an Rialtas. Táimid sásta comhaontú leis an Rialtas i gcomhthéacs an Bhille seo. Go bunúsach, tá sé i gcroílár an Bhille seo go mbeidh an tír seo réidh má fhágann an Bhreatain an Aontas Eorpach gan aon chonradh ag leibhéal na hEorpa. Is é sin an méid atá i gceist sa reachtaíocht seo. I ndáiríre, níl cúrsaí polaitíochta go speisialta i gceist anseo. Níl i gceist ach gnáthrudaí an tsaoil a choimeád slán i gcomhthéacs an Bhreatain-----

Tá sé sin sna leasuithe.

-----ag éirí as an Aontas Eorpach.

Tá na leasuithe ag déileáil le cearta na ndaoine - cearta saoránaigh an Tuaiscirt.

Is é sin an méid atá i gceist sa Bhille seo.

Níl suim dá laghad ag an Teachta na leasuithe sin a phlé.

Tá suim faoi leith agam.

Ba mhaith liom é seo a rá, a Cheann Chomhairle, más féidir liom. Tá suim faoi leith agam sna hábhair nach bhfuil díospóireacht againn fúthu an tseachtain seo de bharr an Bhille seo. Ní féidir linn rudaí áirithe eile a phlé sa Dáil. Mar shampla, ní bheidh aon Ord Gnó againn amárach ós rud é go bhfuilimid ag déileáil leis an mBille seo.

Tá na leasuithe ag déileáil leis na ceisteanna sin.

Tá mise ag lorg gnáthsocruithe na Dála a thabhairt ar ais, fiú agus muid ag déileáil leis an mBille seo. Caithfimid bheith ionraic agus macánta anseo.

Tá sé i gceist againn go mbeimid go léir sa tír seo réidh má fhágann an Bhreatain an Aontas Eorpach gan chonradh. Tá súil agam nach dtarlóidh sé sin, ach tá sé i gceist againn bheith réidh má tharlóidh a leithéid.

That is precisely what our amendments sought to do.

Níl faic le rá ag an Teachta Martin faoinár leasuithe.

Tá rudaí eile curtha ar ceal faoi láthair ós rud é go bhfuilimid ag déileáil leis an mBille seo. Tharla an rud céanna an tseachtain seo caite agus tá sé ag tarlú arís inniu. Tá cúlbhinseoirí ár bpáirtí ag cailliúnt dá dheasca sin. Níl go leor ama againn i rith na seachtaine chun rudaí eile a phlé, mar go bhfuilimid ag déileáil leis an mBille seo.

Tá cúig huaire go leith leagtha amach inniu, deich n-uaire leagtha amach amárach agus seacht n-uaire go leith leagtha amach ar an nDéardaoin chun plé a dhéanamh ar an mBille um Tharraingt Siar na Ríochta Aontaithe as an Aontas Eorpach (Forálacha Iarmhartacha), 2019. Sílim go bhfuil dóthain ama leagtha amach.

Question put: "That the proposals for dealing with today's business be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 85; Níl, 29; Staon, 5.

  • Bailey, Maria.
  • Brassil, John.
  • Breathnach, Declan.
  • Breen, Pat.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Burton, Joan.
  • Byrne, Catherine.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Casey, Pat.
  • Cassells, Shane.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Chambers, Lisa.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Curran, John.
  • D'Arcy, Michael.
  • Deering, Pat.
  • Doherty, Regina.
  • Donnelly, Stephen S.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Dooley, Timmy.
  • Doyle, Andrew.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Fitzgerald, Frances.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Gallagher, Pat The Cope.
  • Halligan, John.
  • Harty, Michael.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Heydon, Martin.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Kelleher, Billy.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kyne, Seán.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Micheál.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McLoughlin, Tony.
  • Mitchell O'Connor, Mary.
  • Moran, Kevin Boxer.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murphy O'Mahony, Margaret.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Murphy, Eugene.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Neville, Tom.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connell, Kate.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Loughlin, Fiona.
  • O'Rourke, Frank.
  • O'Sullivan, Jan.
  • Penrose, Willie.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Rock, Noel.
  • Ross, Shane.
  • Ryan, Brendan.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Varadkar, Leo.

Níl

  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Clare.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Ferris, Martin.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • O'Brien, Jonathan.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Wallace, Mick.

Staon

  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • O'Sullivan, Maureen.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Seán Kyne and Tony McLoughlin; Níl, Deputies Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Denise Mitchell.
Question declared carried.

In the context of justice legislation and the "Claire Byrne Live" programmes last week and this week, there is a need to progress legislation to ensure those who commit homicides will not benefit from their actions, particularly in cases of familicide. Deputy O'Callaghan tabled the Civil Liability (Amendment) (Prevention of Benefits from Homicide) Bill 2017 just over two years ago and it was passed on Second Stage in October last year.

The Government did not oppose it and it now needs to prioritise it. The Parole Bill was published in 2016 and passed Second Stage. It passed Committee Stage in May 2017 and the Government gave a commitment to bringing it to Report and Final Stages. At present, a person may apply for parole after seven years and the Bill proposes to raise this to 12 years. The parents and family of Rachel O'Reilly are particularly anxious about this. The Bill has other positive provisions. Will the Taoiseach agree to accelerate the passage of both these Bills? They are well drafted. Deputy O'Callaghan is a good legislator and knows what he is doing. It is sometimes alleged that Opposition Bills are not up to scratch. These ones are and they should be done.

I accept the importance of Deputy Micheál Martin's point and I agree with him. The Government is on record as accepting the principle of both Bills. Now that the Brexit legislation has been settled and will hopefully be passed in the coming days, I am keen to sign off on a number of amendments on both these Bills. I am anxious to advance both, acknowledging the importance of what Deputy Martin has said.

The residents and owners of some boom-time developments across the State are facing massive repair costs and possible eviction due to building defects. Some of these include fire-safety issues, rotting roofs and defective balconies. The people concerned have bought or rented homes in good faith, but the Government has all but ignored calls to assist them. The Oireachtas Joint Committee on Housing, Planning and Local Government published a report in January 2018 with 26 recommendations to tackle the issue of latent defects, including the establishment of a redress scheme to assist homeowners. The report received cross-party support. That redress scheme would be funded via an industry levy matched by Government funding and low-cost loans to help homeowners pay for remedial works, offering a real solution to those living in defective properties.

It is not acceptable to claim that this is a matter solely between the developer and the home purchaser since weak regulation was an underlying cause of the problem. Will the Government consider the establishment of a redress scheme for those living in defective properties? When will homeowners in Donegal and Mayo, affected by mica and pyrite, be able to access the redress scheme approved by Cabinet in November?

This is a very difficult situation for these people who must now meet a significant expense to remediate certain deficiencies in how their homes were built. It is a very stressful situation and they are trying to find assistance with that, which I understand.

Building standards were not complied with during the boom-time years. Today, unfortunately, certain politicians are looking for us to relax standards once again and to remove layers of oversight when it comes to building, but we will not do that. In 2014 the controls and regulations on building designing, architectural works, planning and the actual completion of works were greatly improved to protect people who were buying homes under this new control regime. The difficulty we have is that there is a significant risk to the taxpayer if the Government accepts liability for individual buildings or for works that were not completed in the appropriate way, while at the same time potentially letting off builders who are responsible in this matter.

Of course we want to find a pathway to help these people, but it is difficult to see one that does not take on this enormous open-ended liability on every other taxpayer in the State that the State simply could not meet.

On the second part of the Deputy's question, at the time of last year's budget agreement in principle was reached for a scheme for people in Donegal and Mayo where pyrite, pyritic heave and mica have been damaging internally the concrete blocks of buildings that were built. My Department and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform are close to completing the outline of that scheme. An amount of money has been allocated to it in 2019, but we just need to finalise the details of how the scheme will be applied in those two counties.

Last week this House debated a Fianna Fáil motion on plurality in the media where there was a consensus view across this House that we needed to support the local media. The Taoiseach may be aware that the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission operates a support scheme where the operations of this House are reported both to local print media and radio stations. The print media arrangement ends today and the broadcast media support ends on 1 April. I ask all Members of the House, if we are all interested as we all said we were in supporting local media, to indicate our support so that the views expressed in this House and the debates should be presented free of charge to those media outlets that carry it. That would be good for both democracy and the sustaining of local media as well.

I was not aware of that. I imagine it is in the interests of this House to provide content from this Chamber and the Seanad to the media. I imagine this is a matter for the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission.

It was discussed at a commission meeting this morning.

On the face but I agree with the Deputy. Perhaps the Ceann Comhairle might-----

I call Deputy Boyd Barrett.

In the programme for Government the Taoiseach said that the provision of affordable housing to those who need it would be a "priority" and that the Government should be tested on its ability to deliver on that promise. Can I suggest that promise is a hoax given the revelation today that, without telling anybody, instructions were given not to give out what is already a very limited scheme around affordable mortgages under the Rebuilding Ireland mortgage scheme? The limitations of this scheme can be told by the fact that in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown only three Rebuilding Ireland mortgages were given out. Indeed, I have raised this issue with the Minister before, how people who should and are supposed to qualify did not qualify. The affordable scheme, which is supposed to deal with the same cohort of people and in which we were told €300 million was to be put, still has not appeared two years later. Are not all of the "affordable" promises in the programme for Government just a complete hoax?

I would like to follow on from Deputies Martin and Boyd Barrett by asking the Taoiseach and the Minister whether it is a fact that there is no database for the Rebuilding Ireland home loan scheme and the reason that there are 1,000 applicants still waiting for approval is that there are duplicates of up to 50% right across multiple applications, particularly in the north east. Is that the situation because we have been told that there are multiple dual applications and that this is the reason for the delay in the approval of the additional 1,000?

The real issue here is that of the 1,500 applications that have been approved, 68% have not been able to draw down the funds. They have not been able to draw down the funds because either it is taking too long for the underwriting process or, particularly in Dublin, the amount of money being offered - on average about €200,000 - comes nowhere close to the average house price of €340,000 and in Dún Laoghaire of €590,000. We have a situation now where €136 million of this fund is sitting there and the people to whom it is being offered cannot access it. It is not just a matter of extending the overall funding, it also involves fixing the scheme to ensure that when people are offered loans, it is an appropriate amount of money and it is done in a speedy enough fashion so the money can be spent on the houses they so desperately need.

The Taoiseach confirmed that over 500 loans had been drawn down and 1,000 were still outstanding. Could the Minister comment on how long have some of those, the longest of them, been in the system? Does he appreciate the limbo that those applicants find themselves in while waiting for those applications, to know whether they will or will not be drawn down? Can the Minister give an assurance to the House, particularly in relation to the number of constituents that I am familiar with, that the response as to whether they will be able to draw down these mortgages will be considered and given as swiftly as possible?

I wish to say to the Deputy that this is a revelation today. I was clear with the Dáil and I can direct attention to parliamentary questions on 5 and 26 February but also to previous conversations we have had at committee about the operation of this loan.

The Rebuilding Ireland home loan is incredibly worthwhile and supportive of people trying to buy their first home. Time and again Deputies were come into the House to say that it is not working. Today we see clearly and know that it is working so well that it is working better than anticipated, because the additional €200 million of funding was a tranche that was meant to be there for three years, but only a year and a month into the operation of the scheme we have already seen hundreds of people approved and drawing down and hundreds more waiting to draw down their loans.

We have dual applications because people are applying to different local authorities depending on where they intend to buy their homes. We also have cases where some loans are approved but not drawn down. That happens for many reasons. The lag between an approval and a drawdown is not necessarily on the local authority's side. Once one get's approval for a mortgage it takes time to find a home, to complete the sale and to do all the things that one has to do when someone is buying a home. In those circumstances, that is where a delay can arise and that is often the case. Sometimes a loan is not drawn down at all because the circumstances or the choice of the individual changes. I indicated to the Dáil that we would need to look for a second tranche when the first tranche did expire. Only half of the first tranche has been drawn down to date. That is why at the moment I am in negotiations with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform about a further tranche to ensure we can continue with the Rebuilding Ireland home loan. It has been successful in helping hundreds of people to buy their first home and we want to see that happen for hundreds more.

It was not amusing to hear Deputy Murphy asking the Taoiseach to change the entire Dublin Bus fleet. Outside the Red Cow and indeed in all of rural Ireland, since the ramming through of the Road Traffic (Amendment) Act 2018, to please the Minister, Deputy Ross, people in rural Ireland are angered and frustrated like never before, young and old. Provisional drivers who are waiting for driving tests have no transport now and have to impose on parents and family members to drive them. Old people are facing checkpoints daily and several times a day right around the country like never before. Will the Taoiseach reduce the level of checkpoints, seeing as it was this Government that put them in place, and with this Government reverse this Act in the light of the anger, frustration and hardship that has been imposed on the people of rural Ireland at this time?

In the first instance it is important to point out that it is the gardaí and the Garda Commissioner who make decisions on the frequency and location of checkpoints. There are no Ministers ordering checkpoints anywhere: I can guarantee that. There is a degree of misunderstanding on the new law. This new law has not changed the drink-driving or alcohol limits: it has changed penalty. The limits are exactly what they were before. The solution is not to allow drink-driving but is better transport.

I am particularly enthused by what the Minister of State, Deputy Griffin, is leading with his lift scheme in the Deputy's own county, which could be the potential prototype for a much more flexible, more individualised and much more available road transport, particularly at night.

One motor car will not transport the people-----

The Taoiseach can cod the people but it will not fool them.

There was a very significant judgment in the High Court last Thursday in the case of Denis O'Brien v. Sunday Business Post, which was a very significant and good day for journalism but it does bring into question the issue of defamation laws. Is it intended to advance a change to our defamation laws or will he consider the call from the National Union of Journalists that there should be a commission into the future of the media, which will obviously look at things like social media and other platforms at the same time? This is a critical issue as to the health of our democracy and health of journalism into the future.

As to the issue of the reform of the defamation laws, Members will be aware that the current law, the 2009 Act, is the subject matter of a review. There is a wide-ranging consultation process underway, and has been for some time because of its breadth. I expect to have a report in the next five to six weeks and I would be very keen then to move matters on towards the next stage, keeping the House fully informed as I proceed.

In the past eight months, the HSE has disclosed that 84 families in Roscommon and Mayo have experienced serious failings in audiology services provided to their children due to either misdiagnoses or failures to follow up on results. A further 22 young people over the age of 18 years have been impacted upon.

Page 62 of A Programme for a Partnership Government makes specific reference to the issue of open disclosure and no-fault compensation. The number one priority for these 106 people and their families is to get access to educational supports, aids and resource supports. Some of the families and children are getting resource hours, but others are only getting reduced resource hours. We need to see a uniform allocation of resource hours and supports to these young people. Will a dedicated person be appointed within the Department of Education and Skills to co-ordinate on behalf of these 106 people and minimise the impact of this audiology failure on each of them?

I thanks the Deputy for raising this issue. I know it was raised in the Dáil a week or two ago. I agree with the Deputy's sentiments. The most important thing now is to make sure that those children and adults affected get the health interventions they need and should have got in the past, and the education and welfare supports they need. I am informed that some have, but it has been inconsistent and patchy, and we are keen to resolve that. I have asked someone in my office to pull together the main Departments - Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Education and Skills and Health - to try to resolve the situation.

I have raised the issue of local needs guidelines numerous times. Since 2005, our local authorities have been using the same guidelines. In 2016, the Government informed the EU that it would be reviewing the local needs situation. On 22 January, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, stated that this had to do with the Flemish decree, his Department was working on the matter and a working group had held a meeting the prior week. He said that he would revert to me with an update on local needs. People in villages and rural areas cannot build on their own lands. This situation has been going on for two or three years. Will it come to an end at some stage?

I thank the Deputy for his question. The matter remains as I explained to the Dáil recently. We are operating on the 2005 guidelines. We have been in negotiations with the Commission following on from the Flemish decree. Much of the thinking that is being incorporated as a result of the Flemish decree made its way into the national planning framework, which is being put through the regional spatial and economic strategies. However, it is not true to say that new homes are not being approved depending on local needs. That is happening. We will have the updated guidelines shortly, but local authorities are working to the 2005 guidelines at the moment.

The ongoing feud between drug gangs in Drogheda resulted in the recent shooting of a man in broad daylight in a public car park at a retail park. It was the second shooting in recent months. There have also been physical attacks, intimidation, kidnappings, threats and attacks on homes. Of the 18 additional gardaí allocated in December, 15 were removed in January, leaving us with just three additional gardaí, which is in no way sufficient to tackle this issue. At last night's meeting of the joint policing committee, elected representatives were told that none of the commitments and promises made by the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan, regarding the Louth Garda division had materialised and that the division's budget had not seen a cent of an increase.

I thank the Deputy, but can we hear from the Minister, please?

When will the Drogheda Garda division-----

Can we let the Minister answer?

-----receive the necessary resources to tackle this ongoing feud, or is it the case that-----

Please, Deputy. You have gone way over time.

-----the Government is waiting for some innocent passer-by-----

Can we hear the Minister, Deputy Flanagan, please?

-----to be caught up in one of these shootings? The people of Drogheda are living in fear. It looks like the Minister-----

The Deputy is way over time.

-----could not care less about it.

Deputy, please.

I was pleased to visit Drogheda recently in the company of my colleague, Deputy O'Dowd, where we had a number of important meetings. I understand that the Garda Commissioner was also in Drogheda recently. The House will be aware that the operational issues for and on behalf of the An Garda Síochána are under the leadership of the Garda Commissioner. I keep in close contact with the Garda management team, but the issue of resources is one for the Garda Commissioner himself. I am aware of the seriousness of the situation in Drogheda and am keen to ensure that every effort is made to mitigate the issues raised.

I call Deputy Murphy O'Mahony.

Go raibh maith agat, a Cheann Comhairle.

I am sorry, a Cheann Comhairle-----

Deputy Munster only gets one stab at it.

Elected representatives were specifically told-----

Deputy, please.

-----at the joint policing committee-----

Ba mhaith liom ceist-----

-----that the promises made by the Minister-----

Respect Deputy Murphy O'Mahony.

-----never materialised-----

Will the Deputy resume her seat, please?

-----and the division had never seen a cent of an increase in its budget.

Table a Topical Issue matter or something on this matter. We cannot-----

The Minister is just talking rubbish. Spoof and spin.

Ba mhaith liom ceist a chur chun an Aire Cumarsáide, Gníomhaithe ar son na hAeráide agus Comhshaoil. Táim an-bhuíoch go bhfuil sé anseo inniu. There has been considerable talk lately about the roll-out, or the lack thereof, of broadband, but I wish to ask the Minister about areas with poor or no mobile phone coverage. In large pockets across west Cork, people cannot use their mobile phones no matter what provider they are with. What plans has the Minister to improve the quality of mobile phone coverage in west Cork and the rest of the country?

We have a task force, chaired by the Minister of State, Deputy Canney, that works on filling gaps and ensuring closer co-operation in the delivery of mobile and broadband services outside the intervention areas. I will ask the Minister of State to examine the problems that the Deputy has raised and determine whether there is scope to address them.

That concludes questions on promised legislation. Eight Deputies have not been reached today.