Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions

I have been reluctant to raise the matter of the Minister, Deputy Cowen, on Leaders' Questions before today. I absolutely accept that everybody makes mistakes, that people learn from those mistakes and that they move on. We wanted to give the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine every opportunity to address all of the matters concerned, to draw a line under them and to move on at a time of huge health and economic challenges, not least for the farming community. Last week, the Minister had the opportunity to do just that by putting all of the facts on the record of the Dáil in relation to his drink-driving incident but, unfortunately, he has failed to do that.

We now have an unprecedented situation where a Minister is disputing the Garda PULSE record of a drink-driving offence he was involved in and looking to have that record changed. Last week in his personal statement, the Minister stated he was "conscious that a constant drip feed of new information can be damaging and destabilising". He said it was for that reason he had conducted a full examination of all records that he could obtain. Yet here we are a week later and the drip feed of new information continues.

On 4 July, according to The Sunday Times, contact was made with the Minister regarding the Garda record from 18 September 2016, stating that he sought to evade a Garda checkpoint on the evening of the drink-driving offence. The Irish Times today quotes sources saying the Taoiseach was made aware of these records at the time of this media query, that is, the weekend before last. Can the Taoiseach confirm when he was made aware of the Garda record of the Minister's attempt to evade a Garda checkpoint? Was he aware of this before the Minister made his statement to the Dáil? Did the Minister discuss with the Taoiseach or seek advice from the Taoiseach regarding his decision to seek to amend the record relating to his 2016 drink-driving conviction? Does the Taoiseach accept that the Minister's statement to the Dáil was incomplete, as it made no mention of this Garda record? When did the Taoiseach inform his coalition partners about all of this? Has he challenged the Minister on his incomplete statement? Does he accept that a Minister challenging the accuracy or, indeed, the truthfulness of a Garda PULSE record is a very serious matter?

As the Deputy said, the Minister came into the Dáil and publicly admitted that he was convicted of a drink-driving offence four years ago, that he was penalised for that offence and that justice was meted out in accordance with the charge and with the offence that he committed. He adamantly denies any suggestion or implication that he sought to evade any checkpoint. That is his very strong position. He is very concerned that data related to his personal files have found their way to others and he feels that is a very serious issue.

Irrespective of what side of the House we come from and irrespective of the issue here, that is an issue that will have to be dealt with at some stage. I am aware that the Garda Commissioner has referred the issue to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, GSOC, and it is one we cannot ignore. I am not apportioning blame anywhere here, because I do not know how that material left the PULSE file and ended up with various media outlets or others. I do not know how that process happened.

I spoke to the Minister, Deputy Cowen, the weekend before last and he adamantly denied any suggestion or implication that he would have evaded or attempted to avoid a checkpoint. At that stage, when someone says I was told, I believe a newspaper says it told my chief of staff or gave information to my chief of staff, but I cannot work on the basis of the sources of the media. I cannot verify without seeing the document myself. I had a lengthy conversation last evening with the Minister. Early this morning, with the Minister's permission, I saw the actual document.

The Minister has made it very clear to me that he wants to pursue both issues through the mechanisms that are available to him to pursue them. First, under the data protection process and by way of the Data Protection Commission, he is entitled to seek a correction of that particular record insofar as he believes that it does not accurately convey what transpired or that implications can be taken from it which may not necessarily be the case. He is pursuing that. Second, he feels the entire issue has become public because of what he sees as illegal procurement of the information. We now know that is being investigated. The Minister feels his rights have been transgressed and undermined in that regard and he believes he is entitled to due process in respect of both issues. He has pointed out to me that when it was first put to him - I think it was by a reporter or the media - he was very taken aback by the suggestion that he had turned away from a checkpoint. He was very adamant about that to me. That is why he said there was no issue made of it at the time, there was no reference to it at the time and he wants to seek to correct that aspect of it. In that context, he was clear to me that he wants to pursue his legal rights and entitlements in that respect.

I have kept both my colleagues in government, namely, the Tánaiste, Deputy Varadkar, and the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Eamon Ryan, fully up to date in regard to my conversations with the Minister, Deputy Cowen, and in respect of the fact that I have seen the Garda file. I am not at liberty to disclose it because it is not my property and it was shared with me in that context. That is the up-to-date position.

It is becoming clear that the Minister, Deputy Cowen, will have to come before the House and take questions on all of these issues. However, for the purposes of today's discussion, I am more concerned with what the Taoiseach, as Head of Government, knew. He has confirmed that he did, in fact, know about the Garda PULSE record and that there was an allegation that the Minister had sought to evade a Garda checkpoint. He has confirmed that he knew that information as or before the Minister was making his statement. I find it extraordinary that the Taoiseach would stand over a Minister who has made an incomplete statement to the Dáil on a matter of this importance. Were the Taoiseach's coalition partners, the leaders of Fine Gael and the Green Party, aware of the PULSE record and the allegation that the Minister had evaded a Garda checkpoint at the time the Minister, Deputy Cowen, made his statement? The Taoiseach said he has had a conversation with the Minister, but the Taoiseach did not indicate that he challenged the Minister on the fact that his statement was incomplete.

I accept the Minister's point on data protection. That matter should be investigated by the appropriate authorities but it is not the net point here. The net point is that a Minister is now contradicting a Garda record. He came before the House to make what was to be a complete, no-holds-barred statement on all the material matters and did not state that this Garda PULSE record existed and that an allegation had been made that he had sought to evade a Garda checkpoint. That is absolutely extraordinary. It is even more extraordinary that the Taoiseach, as the Head of Government, would accept that. Do the Taoiseach's coalition partners similarly accept that the Minister was right to come before the House and not give us all the information? Do they also accept that he is right to challenge the Garda PULSE record? It is extraordinary that a Minister is now openly contradicting the PULSE records. This is not just about Deputy Cowen, because we all must rely on the truthfulness and accuracy of PULSE records. The Minister has brought that accuracy into question but he has also failed to give a full account of events on that night. The Taoiseach was aware that there was another twist in the tale and yet it seems he has not challenged the Minister on it. Does he believe in full and frank statements to this House, or does he not?

The Deputy has drawn two wrong inferences and made two incorrect assertions. I was not aware of the PULSE record and did not see it. I cannot work on the basis of a journalist saying that he or she has a source or paper that shows X. I saw the document myself this morning and having seen it, I can say that it is not quite as it has been portrayed. Nonetheless, the document is there.

It is not for me to publish.

Then the Taoiseach should have the Minister publish it.

The Deputy should let the Taoiseach finish.

It is not my record and people have entitlements in this regard.

The Deputy should not make suggestions that are untrue. The Minister, Deputy Cowen, was unaware of the record and exactly what it said until he got possession of it. One can only comment on a record when one sees it. For the last four years, he was unaware of any suggestion that this would be on the record. That is his point of view. I would not pre-emptively judge something until I saw the record for myself, and I did early this morning. The Minister contacted the Garda during the week to get possession of the record because he did not have it. Others had it before he did and that is also an issue for any individual in such a situation. As regards his contribution to the House, he did not yet have the document and did not want to incriminate himself in relation to it. All I can convey to the Deputy is that he has very serious concerns about how the whole thing has developed and how his own personal information was procured or disseminated from the PULSE record.

I thank the Taoiseach. We are a little over time.

That is an issue about which he is extremely angry.

I call Deputy Fitzpatrick.

Last week, the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response met representatives from the Irish Primary Principals' Network and the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals with regard to education provision in September. I have been contacted by a large number of special needs assistants, SNAs, who have expressed their deep disappointment and despair that they were excluded from this session. As the Taoiseach knows, SNAs have the closest contact with pupils in schools. They effectively look after the most vulnerable students in schools and to exclude them from this session was wrong and deeply hurtful to the thousands of SNAs around the country. They have asked that their opinions be taken into account with regard to the reopening of schools in September. Will the Taoiseach confirm to the House that he will work with the Minister for Education and Skills and ensure the views and opinions of SNAs will be taken into account when decisions are taken on reopening schools in September?

Last weekend, more than 60 motorhomes and caravans were located in the village of Carlingford. This was way above what is normal. I note that yesterday the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Coveney, stated that visitors should not come to Ireland unless they restrict their movements for 14 days. With respect, this type of advice means absolutely nothing unless it can be backed up by action. Over the weekend, we saw many tourists from the USA out and about in our cities and towns. I understand that in the USA, people from the state of Texas are unable to visit their neighbours because of Covid-19 restrictions, yet they can travel freely to Ireland. Will the Taoiseach confirm to the House what action the Government intends to take to ensure visitors to our island respect and obey the restrictions in place?

I congratulate the Taoiseach on getting the contractor back on the site of the national children's hospital yesterday. Will he confirm to the House whether any additional conditions have been imposed by the contractor for its return to the site? We are all aware that the spiralling costs of the hospital have gained worldwide attention. As I come from a business background, I know how projects can overrun their budgets, but what has happened at the national children's hospital to date is simply not acceptable. Can the Taoiseach inform the House of the current situation regarding costs? Are measures being put in place to ensure costs are controlled? Is the Taoiseach confident that the costs can be controlled for the remainder of the project?

Before I call the Taoiseach to respond, I remind Deputies that they can raise just one issue and not two on Leaders' Questions.

Perhaps the Taoiseach might address one of the matters raised by Deputy Fitzpatrick. I call the Taoiseach.

It may all be under the umbrella of Covid-19 matters, by a stretch. On the first matter, I will of course speak to the Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy Foley, regarding the inclusion of representative voices for SNAs. I think we have more than 70,000 SNAs in our system now. Those posts sprung from an initiative I took back in 1998, when I served as Minister for Education and Science, with regard to special needs education. The objective of the Government and of the Minister is to get as full an opening and return to school as possible near the end of August.

That relates to the Deputy's question regarding travel and behaviour. If our number one priority is to reopen schools, and I believe everyone shares that as a priority, we must be extremely vigilant concerning social distancing, etiquette regarding washing of hands etc. and abiding by the public health advice. Any slippage between now and the end of August could undermine our efforts to get schools open fully.

In the context of travel, there has been much commentary concerning the number of American visitors. Our information from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport is that the numbers coming in from the US are quite low. From the outset of the pandemic, travel has never been banned officially or per se. It has never been prohibited. The National Public Health Emergency Team, NPHET, will be giving us advice. It is meeting today and there will be a meeting of the Government tomorrow in respect of phase 4 of the roadmap. There will also be further discussions about the travel issue, which will culminate in decisions on 20 July about drawing up a green list and strengthening our presence at airports and ports in respect of inward traffic.

I have been speaking to the Chief Medical Officer, CMO. There are concerns regarding increases in the number of Covid-19 cases in the last fortnight. Congregated indoor settings are presenting a problem and having 30 or 40 people in house parties is an issue. We have to be very strong in respect of travel, especially regarding our messaging, with a view to keeping the rate of Covid-19 down. That will be our objective in the coming weeks, with the overarching considerations being to get the schools open and to free our hospital capacity to get the non-Covid strands of medicine opened up. I think I have covered that item for Deputy Fitzpatrick.

Concerning the national children's hospital, that is back now after the Covid-19 disruption. There are ongoing issues between the contractor and the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board, NPHDB. The Deputy will have seen my comments on Friday. There are mechanisms in the contract for resolving any contractual issues or any issues pertaining to claims and counterclaims.

Those mechanisms should be used. What is essential is that work continues in respect of building the hospital for the children of this nation. The children of this nation need a modern hospital. We are way behind in terms of getting that completed. From the Government's perspective, working through the board, we want to protect the taxpayer, make sure that the contract is implemented and monitor that in a robust way. Any issues should be resolved through the mechanisms that are provided for within the contract.

Deputy Fitzpatrick managed to get three for the price of one. We will not do that again. The special offer is not available anymore.

I thank the Ceann Comhairle. Only for the fact I am a pioneer I would buy you a drink.

I thank the Taoiseach because he realises that special needs assistants do a fantastic job. It is important that their opinions and concerns are given expression.

The people of County Louth, especially the Carlingford area, are concerned about what is happening at the moment. We see so many motor homes and the number of people coming to the Border area at the moment is high. It is okay for the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Coveney, and the Tánaiste to make those statements, but it is important that if statements are made, action is taken.

We all need the children's hospital. We are all talking about the children's hospital for the wrong reasons - the cost. I congratulate the Taoiseach on getting the site back up and running but we have to keep an eye on the cost. That is very important.

I congratulate the Taoiseach again and thank him for answering my three questions.

I assure the Deputy that the hospital board is keeping a vigilant eye on costs and is very much on the case in protecting the taxpayer's interests. I have to put that on the record. The board has kept the Minister informed in respect of the efforts it has been making in that regard.

There will be significant domestic tourism activity this year. That is important to weigh up. Our travel advisory is consistent. We are advising people not to travel abroad except for essential reasons. As a result there has been a significant demand on domestic facilities, including hotels and so on. Again, the message has to be that while obviously we want people to enjoy themselves during the summer, they should do so in a socially responsible way. In this phase of Covid-19, personal responsibility is essential and is key to keeping the spread of the virus down. It is a very dangerous virus. What worries me is that the age profile of new cases is going down. It is important to convey to people the serious potential long-term impact that getting this virus can have on one's health. That is why, in all of the holiday locations across the country, people should be conscious of that and behave appropriately.

I will try to explore with the Taoiseach solutions to the broadband crisis that has existed for years throughout rural Ireland and in particular in my constituency of Cork South-West. High-speed fibre broadband is a dream for everyone in rural Ireland, which has turned into a nightmare. It has turned out to be a shameful legacy of Taoiseach after Taoiseach in this country. The current Taoiseach has two and a half years to turn this around. His leadership of the country will be measured in rural Ireland by many issues in this term but broadband will be top in most people's minds.

The €3 billion national broadband plan, NBP, was signed last year. Many doubt if it will work, but that is something I have no wish to dwell on too much today. What I want to dwell on is a solution. We have it under our fingertips. For once, it may not be Eir, Vodafone, Three Ireland or any of the national operators. The solution to almost 100% of our problems is our local private wireless operators. I will offer an example that, if worked on, can be a solution. The Taoiseach could oversee this solution to the broadband problems in this country in his term in office. One of these companies is DigitalForge, a fixed wireless broadband provider in west Cork. It has been providing a service for 16 years and employs eight people. It has provided a service in this time to thousands of homes and businesses in the county of Cork as well as to 60 schools. This business has expanded without any State assistance whatsoever during that time. The company has not increased the price of its standard package, which provides a 70 MB service, in 16 years. The European minimum specification has been 30 MB. We should remember the company started out 16 years ago offering a 1 MB service. It has grown and continues to grow. The company's network is resilient. In the recent Storm Ophelia the longest outage some customers experienced was three hours while customers relying on the traditional hardwired system waited weeks for phone and broadband lines to be restored.

The State sets the price for radio frequencies and by pricing these high, there is no allowance for competition, the recent closure of a Cork wireless operator, permaNET, being an example. The licence goes to the highest bidder. The State does not allocate the spectrum for smaller operators. Prices are in the millions and smaller operators do not stand a chance.

DigitalForge provided broadband to the Mealagh Valley north of Bantry when no other broadband provider could or would help. It provided broadband to Baltimore and when Eir came to town later to rich pick customers, almost all of DigitalForge's customers stayed with it because, as they said, they had a top-class service and somebody at the end of the phone who would immediately set about resolving any problems.

The areas I have spoken of have benefited from having DigitalForge in west Cork. Gaggan in Bandon, Kilmacsimon in Innishannon, Sandycove in Kinsale and other areas of west Cork have little or no broadband. Despite of all of the efforts to get the larger operators to deliver extra capacity, nothing has been delivered. Will the Taoiseach sit down with the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment and try to create a level playing pitch by developing a two-tier solution? I do not mean in any way to disrupt the national broadband dream, which can work away behind the scenes. Rather, I ask that private wireless operators be given some small State assistance and recognition for being the only operators who can deliver broadband to well over 90% of rural Ireland. In some cases, they provided 100% of the broadband to areas of rural Ireland for the first time.

I thank the Deputy for that enlightening presentation. I have no issue with sitting down with the Minister and discussing the issues he raised. He might forward to me some further details on the company and its work. That said, the allocation of spectrum is a matter for proper procurement processes and so on. It is not a process with which we can readily interfere. If it is the Deputy's contention that the mechanism unduly disadvantages smaller operators, that is something that can be considered. The national development plan is not one that will be working behind the scenes, as the Deputy suggested. The programme for Government commits to an accelerated roll-out of the national broadband plan if that is possible. The objective is to deliver it faster than within the seven-year period specified.

Work between the Department and the company is ongoing. There is still some work to be done in terms of improving on the timelines around the national broadband plan. Towards the latter end of this year, the Government would like to be in a position to have the full assessment and costings available in regard to the idea of proceeding faster with the national broadband plan, if that is possible. I am aware of local initiatives, such as the digital hub in Skibbereen, which is a very good example of collaboration between private companies and the public interest, and incorporating a degree of philanthropy. That example proved particularly effective in terms of being a catalyst for the generation of jobs and companies locating near the hub and in Skibbereen more widely. I do not disagree with the Deputy about the significance of broadband and connectivity in respect of rural Ireland and enabling economic recovery in rural Ireland. It is an essential prerequisite to enabling rural Ireland to fulfil its economic potential into the future.

The headline of the Southern Star last week stated "Our poor broadband will deter re-locators". That is the situation we have experienced in west Cork. I did my best to steer away from the national broadband plan in my initial question as I do not want this to be the rock on which the Taoiseach will perish, like his predecessors. A few short months ago, the former Minister, Deputy Bruton, agreed to allow ComReg to give extra capacity to broadband and mobile phone companies to increase capacity in rural communities due to the increased numbers of people working at home because of Covid-19. As far as I am aware, not one community in west Cork has had increased capacity.

Who is monitoring ComReg? Is it a law unto itself? At a conservative estimate, some 100,000 customers nationally are serviced by fixed wireless operators, which get no recognition from the State for what they do. With Government support these numbers could double or treble. The national scheme is spending €5,000 per household to ensure services are available. Small communities have no broadband and little chance of getting it for years, if ever.

It is not financially viable to build infrastructure for them. If 20 houses in a village are without broadband, the NBP will pay €100,000 to get these homes serviced whereas a fixed wireless provider could do it for a fraction of that figure and in a significantly better timeframe. The solutions offered by fixed wireless access operators are environmentally friendly. They do not build huge masts or run miles of cables across thousands of poles and they frequently use green technologies such as wind and solar.

Will the Taoiseach consider creating this type of solution for many homes with little or no broadband in west Cork?

Many of these issues were looked at well in advance of the NBP. The Department is pretty clear in terms of the primacy of the national broadband plan as the route to creating proper broadband connectivity across the entirety of Ireland, particularly those areas that are not commercially viable. I have no doubt the new Minister is open to any innovative suggestions or proposals that would accelerate provision and enable particularly remote locations to have access to high connectivity. This would facilitate remote working, which is an objective of the Government and the programme for Government, and, as the recent Covid-19 experience has illustrated, is something that could be made more permanent in our workplace as an option and in enabling people to spend part of their week working from home. That would be economically beneficial to certain communities and localities but connectivity is needed to enable that. That is something we all share in the House.

I am afraid my question will not be as topical or controversial as some questions today but it matters a great deal to the people I represent. I want to ask the Taoiseach about his commitment to developing regional growth centres and, specifically, to developing Sligo as one of those centres.

Project Ireland 2040 makes many promises but the programme for Government is light on detail. We are told the Government will develop the cities of Waterford, Cork, Limerick and Galway and there is mention of regional towns prospering. We need a strong statement and I will tell the Taoiseach why we need a strong statement and strong action. The European Commission has downgraded the northern and western region from the status of being developed to a region in transition. As somebody who was involved in the Objective One status campaign I thought I would never see that day where we had gone backwards.

According to EUROSTAT's GDP figures, in 2018, we were at 79% of the European average per person compared to the south at 235% and the east at 205%. I acknowledge GDP has its limitations but even going back to 2014, our GDP has continued to fall comparatively. We cannot just say there is a gap between the regions and that it is growing; it is ballooning.

The Northern and Western Regional Assembly report published last November contains a load of figures. I will only quote one or two, as I have quoted some of them to the Taoiseach previously. Capital investment in third level education, for example, equates to €141 per student in the north and west whereas it is €197 nationally. The spend on roads, both regional and local, are significantly lower. I will not quote the figures because they will fry people's heads. In eight of the past 11 years the spend on research and development is below the national average. There are many more figures.

I refer specifically to Sligo. The number of Enterprise Ireland, EI, jobs in Sligo reduced by one third between 2010 and 2019 and in Leitrim by half. The number of Industrial Development Authority Ireland, IDA, jobs, in Sligo remained the same but the national average increased by 40%. Sligo University Hospital has 40 fewer beds than it had nine years ago.

What measures will the Government take to redress that imbalance and ensure that Sligo is a regional growth centre?

First of all, as the Deputy will be aware, the national planning framework targets there being additional population of 160,000 to 180,000 in the north west which would give a population of approximately 1 million people by 2040. In the here and now, Sligo is the engine room in many respects for the north west. In my view, the entire higher education edifice in the region - the institutes of technology, along with St. Angela's College - is the key to economic regeneration there.

Obviously, the move towards a technological university between Letterkenny, Sligo and Galway is important in increasing the level of research and development over time. Critical mass is needed for research and development investments. In Sligo, there are already strong research and development components; for example, in the robotics centre which is probably unique across the country in terms of its quality. That is what helps to bring in foreign direct investment. We have set up a new Department of third level education, research and science specifically for that purpose. I was anxious that the Department would be established from a policy perspective because I think the future of the country depends on significant investment in education at all levels, particularly in third level and in fourth level research. The move from institute of technology status to technological university status will enable over time a greater amount of research to take place.

The town centre-based approach in the programme for Government is another avenue through which we want to bring back development to towns that have suffered significantly in recent times through a range of factors, including demographics, the movement of industries and the closure of certain types of industry. There is a need for a renaissance and revitalisation of many town centres across the country, particularly in the north west. The programme for Government identifies incentives to try to encourage people to develop buildings and residential homes within town centres.

Over €1 billion will be spent on rural regeneration over the next ten years. The north west has been effective in tapping into quite a number of funding streams and has had a number of projects sanctioned arising out of such funds. Fundamentally, we must build on our strengths in rural areas, such as the agrifood industry, biodiversity and afforestation issues such as the growing of native trees. There will be investment in all of that, and retrofitting as well. There will be a need to develop alternative industries that are amenable to grow in rural areas.

Regionally, we need to rebalance the country. I acknowledge there is an imbalance at present. The programme for Government is clear that it wants to redress the current imbalance.

I am unhappy at one level to hear the Taoiseach state he recognises the imbalance but I am happy at another because it is there and glaring.

The Taoiseach mentioned the technological university. By the end of the year Sligo, Letterkenny and GMIT will make their application. Two of the colleges are ready to go but there is an issue about the third. It is allowed that two out of the three would go forward and the third could join when it is ready. I want a commitment that this can happen because when I read the programme for Government, I see the south-east technological university mentioned, not once but twice. I see the Magee campus in Derry mentioned, but I see nothing about Connacht-Ulster. I have real concerns around that. I want to know that once they reach the criteria, they can go ahead.

I heard what the Taoiseach said about the different programmes. They are all important but we need investment in our services, we need incentives and we need a 40-bed unit in our hospital. The Taoiseach mentioned the €1 billion for rural investment but we need significant real investment in those areas where we can play to our strengths. It has not happened. I want to hear a commitment from the Taoiseach that it will happen and, specifically, over the next number of months, how it will happen.

The Government and I want to proceed with the technological university programme as quickly as possible. Quite a few of the delays to date have not originated at central government level but rather, as the Deputy will appreciate, while getting local entities and the various stakeholders, including the institutions, ready or persuaded to do it. The south east is one such area. This is why there are repeated references to it. It has been on the agenda for quite some time. There is a commitment to progress this project and to get it over the line. The merger in Munster between the institutes in Tralee and Cork has effectively occurred. The Dublin merger happened first. Time is ticking. Once a programme is decided upon, as this one was a number of years ago, it should be followed through.

I will talk to the Minister for Health in respect of the Sligo hospital. The Minister and I met HSE representatives last week with regard to the winter initiative and the need to prepare and plan properly for this winter, more so than any other, because we will be living with Covid-19, which will place an extra strain on our healthcare facilities and hospitals as we approach a new flu season. I am particularly worried about that. Any extra capacity that can be brought into the system should be brought in as quickly as possible.