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Dáil Éireann debate -
Tuesday, 25 Jan 2022

Vol. 1016 No. 6

Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions

This time two years ago, we were in the midst of a general election. The Taoiseach will recall the election was brought about by the crisis in health. It was an election in which workers and families, frustrated and fed up with repeated failures of successive Governments in housing and healthcare, voted for change in huge numbers. Now, two years on and in the cold light of day, people see that these crises in housing and health have only gotten worse. We have record rents, soaring house prices and 1 million people on treatment waiting lists, and if that was not enough, households struggle to keep up with the cost of living that is out of control.

People are under huge pressure as they are hammered by non-stop price hikes in every area. The living standard of workers and families is squeezed by the highest rate of inflation in 20 years and a lack of Government action. For far too many people, being ourselves again means the stress and struggle of trying to keep up with soaring costs while wages stay the same. The yearly cost of putting food on the table is to go up by nearly €800. The cost of running a car is to go up by an average of €500. Record rents are up by 8.1%. Families are paying the equivalent of a second mortgage in childcare costs. The cost of lighting and heating a home is up a massive 53%. It is never ending. All of this adds up to a cost of living that is unbearable. The Government must urgently deliver a plan that gets these costs down, but this urgency is sorely absent.

People have been hit with 35 energy price hikes in the past year and the Government has been far too slow to react. The €100 credit for energy bills comes very late. The Government did not deal with this in the budget. It refused to sit on this matter in December and now the €100 credit will come into force only in March or April. Costs are now so far out of control that this will not be a game changer for families paying thousands just to light and heat their homes. It should be borne in mind that families pay these off-the-wall bills today and the benefit of the €100 will likely be cancelled out as costs increase further. Workers and families stretch themselves to make it to the end of the week and they deserve better than this slack response from Government. They want they need real action.

Tá an costas maireachtála imithe ó smacht. Tá daoine cráite mar gheall ar an ardú mór ar phraghsanna atá imithe ó smacht. Tá sé thar am ag an Rialtas gníomh a dhéanamh agus faoiseamh a thabhairt do dhaoine. Does the Taoiseach accept that we need great urgency in dealing with this cost-of-living crisis?

Does the Taoiseach accept that there needs to be a step change in the Government's approach? Has he engaged with the Commission for Regulation of Utilities on this worsening crisis? Has he directed the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, to get the heads of energy companies around the table to devise solutions for hard-pressed customers? Without Government action, things will get worse for families that are just keeping their heads above water. This is a vicious cycle. It is never-ending. It is no way for our people to live or build a future. The Taoiseach's lack of urgency cannot continue. It is now time for Government to do its job and protect workers and families from being fleeced.

In her opening remarks, the Deputy made reference to the situation with regard to housing and health before raising the issue of the cost of living. Without question, this Government has embarked on a step change in respect of housing through its Housing for All strategy. There will be investment of more than €4 billion per annum from the State alone in addition to private sector investment. The largest social housing programme ever to be concluded will be under way in 2022. There is affordable housing, the Land Development Agency legislation has been passed, and so on. This will make a difference. There have already been over 30,000 housing commencements to the end of 2021, with a higher outcomes expected for 2022. We are making progress on housing but I acknowledge that there is a long way to go and that there are significant challenges.

On health, the Deputy completely omitted any reference to the fact that our health service has stood up to a one in 100 years event, the Covid-19 pandemic. This posed a great challenge to our health service. We resourced our health service to an extraordinary degree to combat the challenges presented by Covid-19. With regard to mortality and levels of illness, we actually did better than most countries across Europe. The bottom line is that, without question, the pandemic had an impact on waiting lists.

With regard to the cost of living, níl aon amhras ach go bhfuil an costas maireachtála ag dul in airde. Níl an tír seo freagrach as sin. Is rud é atá ag tarlú ar fud an domhain, mar is eol don Teachta. Tá dlúthbhaint idir sin agus an polasaí atá ag an Rúis ó thaobh praghsanna gáis agus dóthain gáis a chur ar fáil. Is é sin bun agus barr na faidhbe maidir leis an gcostas maireachtála atá ann ar fud an domhain faoi láthair. That is to say, inflation has picked up across the world. In her analysis, the Deputy ignored the global impact. Almost all of these inflationary cycle issues have been occurring across the globe. As the Deputy will know, Europe receives the majority of its gas supply from Russia. Lower flows of gas from that country have been a major factor. The current geopolitical tensions with regard to Ukraine could exacerbate that and make things even worse if there was to be any military incursion, with all of the consequences that would flow from that.

In addition to that, there were supply chain issues relating to Covid. These global supply chain issues also had an impact in increasing inflation. The Government responded in the budget through the €5 increase in the fuel allowance and the good social protection initiatives we introduced. We also announced a tax package worth about €520 million to assist people with their disposable income. The welfare package was worth approximately €558 million. This year, 1.8 million working families will benefit from the tax package alone. I note Sinn Féin's alternative budget did not include indexation of income tax bands and credits, which would have meant an increase in tax for workers across the board.

With regard to another intervention we made, extending GP cover, the Vincentian model shows that this can often be very impactful for those on minimum incomes and for the disposable incomes of people more generally. We introduced some targeted measures with regard to the social protection approach which will help people on low incomes in particular.

The European Central Bank has said that this inflationary cycle is related to the pandemic. That remains to be seen.

The Government took a decision today, however, in respect of the legislation that will be required to give everyone a €100-plus deduction from their electricity bills, which will help in addition to budgetary measures we took.

The truth is that no step change has been effected by the Taoiseach's Government.

What we have seen is more of the same. The proof of that is that house prices are up 14% and rents are up 8%. The truth is that the Government has continued with the same approach. Rather hearing an answer from the Taoiseach, he reached for excuses. I am well aware of the international context and of the inflationary pressures. By the way, the Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland has made it clear that this is not a momentary phenomenon. This is going to be with us for the next year. I want the Taoiseach to listen to people. I want him to listen to the experiences of families who are telling us and him that they are struggling to keep the lights on and to keep up with their bills and other costs. I want him to make clear what his Government proposes to do about that. They are introducing the €100 relief for energy costs, but that comes very late and, in truth, it will not be sufficient. I want to know what the Taoiseach will do in addition. I have suggested that he and the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications, Deputy Eamon Ryan, should act to ensure that there are solutions for customers and families struggling today.

We do listen to people. Today, for example, the Government approved well over €100 million in expenditure on O'Devaney Gardens, where well over 1,000 houses will be provided.

Yes, the Deputy asks at what price, because it is always more of the same from Sinn Féin which is going to oppose it anyway.

We just want people to be able to afford houses.

(Interruptions).

The party has opposed more than 6,000 houses that families could have done with over the past number of years.

What struck me this morning was-----

Deputy Ó Broin, please.

-----regarding O'Devaney Gardens-----

-----that the latest iteration of that project was in 2015. It actually goes all the way back to 2008 and successive city councils and an inability to vote for it-----

They are not affordable.

Deputies, please.

-----and an inability to support the Oscar Traynor Road project.

€400,000 for a family home.

There is a housing crisis there, and we need to get houses built.

An affordable housing crisis, created by you.

The attitude of Deputy Ó Broin and his colleagues is to go on and on and to vote against that model and vote against the next model.

We are against unaffordability for working people.

Turning to the cost of living-----

-----this is a key issue. We acknowledge and know that. We have taken steps in the budget, with the tax package and with the legislation today that will facilitate some degree of reduction. We will do more as well, however.

I thank the Taoiseach. The time is up.

We will engage with the social partners on ways of trying to protect people-----

We have the highest prices in the world.

-----to help people-----

Fleecing people.

-----and trying to cushion them over the next 12 months with a view to weathering this significant increase in prices occasioned by a global situation, as the Deputy well knows, particularly by the behaviour and approach of Russia in restricting gas supplies to the West.

(Interruptions).

The Taoiseach is not living in the real world.

Housing costs went up 12% under a Sinn Féin Minister in the North.

Well done. Look after Donegal now.

That is what happened under a Sinn Féin Minister in Northern Ireland.

(Interruptions).

Please, Deputies, can we behave? I call Deputy Kelly.

(Interruptions).

Now we are back.

(Interruptions).

I honestly do not think that the Taoiseach is living in the real world. We all know international factors are at play, but that is not the whole story. It is the Taoiseach's job to deal with them international factors impacting families and workers in this country and with what is real. The €113.50 credit that has been announced is a joke. It is tokenistic and is actually insulting. Inflation is at a 20-year high of 5.5%. Let that figure settle in, and its impact, especially the impact it will have over the next four to five months.

The Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland yesterday described recent energy price increases as "spectacular". I do not think the word was chosen lightly. The December consumer price index, CPI, was published last week, and over the past 12 months electricity prices have gone up 22%, gas price by 30% and home heating oil by 50%. This will add €1,300, or more, to bills annually. How many families can honestly absorb that?

Those higher prices are now also coming through in food bills.

The prices of bread, milk and butter have gone up by 10% to 30%. These are household staples. Even pasta has gone up 5% in the past two months. The day-to-day essentials that families rely on to feed themselves are also going up. The Irish Times estimated yesterday that if a weekly shop climbed by €15, it would cost households €780 more a year. Add on to that diesel prices and the cost of petrol. This time last year a litre of diesel was €1.20; now it is €1.60. Adding all of those together, we have a range of €3,000 to €4,000 extra for families. How many families can absorb that? This is the question the Taoiseach has to answer.

There is no point in coming back to me and saying it is all international factors. I accept that a percentage of it is down to international factors. The Taoiseach still has to deal with it, even if it is. It is not an excuse we want; it is solutions. What the Taoiseach has proposed is not going to have an impact. The Government proposal on flexible working, which we do not believe is flexible enough, will ensure more people are commuting, spending on fuel and having to move into cities again. This will lead to an increase in rents and the Government refuses to bring in a rent freeze. It is not all about international factors. They are a component but ultimately the people of Ireland need solutions from the Government one way or the other. What are the Taoiseach's solutions? Will he look at a rent freeze? For some time we have pushed for a derogation on VAT. The Taoiseach should not tell me the Government cannot do it because I know it can.

On the VAT issue, if we reduced VAT temporarily for a couple of months, ultimately we would create higher electricity prices because Ireland would lose its special derogation from the European Union and the rate of VAT on energy products in the new year would rise from 13.5% at present to the standard rate of 23%. I have explained that to the House on a number of occasions but the Opposition keeps coming back suggesting things that cannot happen or that, if they did happen, would be damaging to the country.

Let us go back to the Deputy's broader point. I accept that he acknowledges the international factors. The budget did target low-income families in terms of a range of measures. There was not just the fuel allowance but also the increases in the qualified child payment, the living alone allowance and the income threshold for the working family payment. The total cost of those targeted interventions was approximately €146 million. Some €520 million was the cost of income tax changes and reductions, again to give families some degree of disposable income. Today's measure will help 2.1 million households in respect of a €100-plus reduction on electricity bills. As I said earlier, we have also taken measures on childcare and in respect of the extension of the GP visit card to children up to eight years of age. That will really help families in terms of disposable income.

I accept absolutely the Deputy's right to come in and seek further measures. However, we have to avoid a wages spiral that would just create a further inflationary spiral. We have to think intelligently as a country as to how we protect families and people in terms of the daily necessities of life-----

The Government was not worrying about a wage spiral when it appointing a Secretary General in the Department of Health.

What about the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine and the wages spiral?

I am talking to Deputy Kelly. Deputy Carthy is not a leader yet. He should let me talk to Deputy Kelly. We have to engage with the social partners as well and work our way through this, and take further measures, if required, at the appropriate time to deal with what is happening and what is likely to happen for the remainder of 2022. However, we must do so in a way that does not just add fuel to the inflationary cycle, which is in no one's interest and would only result in putting people through more hardship.

Initially the ECB was of a view that this international increase in inflation was temporary. I always said we would have to keep that under review. It seems to me it could be a bit longer than we might have anticipated. We are going to have to adjust, as we have adjusted so far in terms of budgetary policy.

But we need to think our way through this in an intelligent way and not just reduce it to a sort of political sparring for the sake of it.

Speaking with deep honesty, I do not think the Taoiseach gets it. He has to deal with what I have shown, namely, an increase of €3,000 to €4,000. That is not debatable, but what he is proposing is meagre and will not deal with it. People watching this debate will suffer.

The Government has to deal with rent. It can be done, so do not tell me it cannot. I did it. Rent freezes can be introduced. The Government also has to deal with VAT. The Taoiseach keeps repeating that the Government cannot apply for a derogation but it can apply for a one-off derogation. Of course it can.

The Taoiseach spoke about inflation. Workers have every right to look for pay increases to deal with inflation because the Government will not deal with it. He cannot sit there and say that they should not. They will, they can and they must because the Government will not deal with it. They will need those wages to pay for these cost increases. The Government does not have the will. It needs to rethink that because the people who are watching and who will be getting bills this week, next week and the weeks and months after are looking to the Government. If it does not come up with measures, they will suffer because this issue is not going away anytime soon. It will go on for a significant time.

I am not clear about what the Deputy did on rent because rent kept increasing after he left office. I think we are ultimately dealing with a supply issue in housing. Chasing after an inflationary cycle has never worked. It is not a sustainable way of doing it.

Deal with it, so.

Yes, we do need to protect workers, but we have to do that working with the social partners in an intelligent way. The Government will be up for that in terms of how to do that, but it has to be done in a manner that protects disposable incomes and enables people to be in a position to access the necessities of life in terms of food, shelter, fuel and all the basics. That is why in the health area this year in the budget we increased eligibility for GP care from 6 years of age to 7. That means a lot to families. The drugs payment scheme, DPS, threshold is going from €114 down to €100. There is free contraception for particular cohorts. Children's hospital charges are being reduced. There are mechanisms by which we can help people in terms of their everyday expenses, but we also had a tax package in the last budget of about €520 million. We also did social protection measures that were targeted. We look at the Vincentian model, for example, as a mechanism. There are ideas there that could help us to target whatever resources we have in the right direction.

For the third year in a row, the Government has left its homework to the very last minute. We are only weeks away from the leaving certificate mocks, yet students still do not know what they are going to face this year. They might be less than six months away from what will be one of the most stressful exams of their lives but they do not know what the Government is planning for them.

Even in a normal year, more than half of students experience mental or physical health issues as a result of the leaving certificate, but this year's students have also had to deal with two years of disruption to their studies. It is stressful enough already without the added fear of having to miss exams or lose out on a college place due to catching Covid in the middle of them. Students have not even been able to have a traditional education. They cannot be expected to sit a traditional leaving certificate. It is way past time to give clarity to this year's students.

It is not just about that, though. It is time to scrap the Irish version of the squid games, namely, what we call the CAO points rat race. It is not necessary and is based on an artificial scarcity of third level places and dog-eat-dog market competition. It translates social inequality into education inequality, with those who can afford grinds and private education having a major head start. The result is that 99% of young people living in Dublin 6 go on to higher education while only 16% of those from Dublin 10 do so.

There is an alternative to this system. We need to remove the barriers to education, open access to third level to all, and ensure there is a college place for everyone who wants one. The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland, ASTI, has proposed open access to third level as the only fair and equitable alternative. We agree. What that means is a place in third level for everyone who wants one together with massively expanded apprenticeship schemes. The CAO offers roughly 55,000 places for 80,000 applicants, so it means making another 25,000 places in first year available. That can be done. The staff, for example, are already there. There are already 11,000 staff, primarily women, on short-term or part-time contracts who should immediately be offered full-time contracts. All of this requires an immediate increase in investment, a scrapping of the fees and the provision of living grants. We know that the wealth increase exists in this country to do it.

First, will the Taoiseach please give clarity to this year's students as to what will happen? Second, this time last year the Taoiseach himself said the leaving certificate was too inflexible and that we needed a new system. Does he still believe that and, if he does, will he act now to abolish the points rat race?

I accept it has been a very stressful time for the students who are due to sit the leaving certificate this year, during the Covid-19 pandemic. This Government has been in office for one year and a half, not three years. We had to deal with the leaving certificate last year. Already there are differences between what we did last year and what we are doing now, or could do now. For example, I remember that last year Deputy Murphy was robustly against historic profiling as a basis for standardisation of students' results. A total of 25% of this year's leaving certificate cohort did not do the junior certificate. As for the statisticians and those involved in this, we met the chief inspector yesterday evening. I also met with the Secretary General along with the Minister for Education. If Deputy Murphy wants to go for the accredited grades model, such a model this year would involve the use of historic profiling, and that is problematic.

The Minister is meeting with the advisory group. She has met with all the stakeholders collectively and is meeting with them bilaterally. Let us not pretend to everybody that this is simple. It has to be worked out for the benefit of students, ultimately, not just in the context of the leaving certificate but also in the context of progression to a variety of courses, be they apprenticeship, further education or third level. We have a qualifications framework, and one of the benefits of that is that it puts the learner, not the institution, first. There are opportunities this year and there will always be opportunities within the context of that qualifications framework for students to progress to FETAC, HETAC and right on to postgraduate education. That is the key thing to remember. The decisions the Minister has to arrive at, following consultation with the stakeholders, have to be about the overall best interests of the students, not just today but right through this year and next year. There are challenges this year because 25% of this year's leaving certificate cohort do not have junior certificate results against which benchmarking can be done, and that needs to be put out there. That is just a fact.

In addition, we have one of the highest participation rates in third level education across Europe. It is one of the benefits that has happened in this country over the past 50 years. We have progressively increased second level completion rates, to our credit as a country, and we have very significantly increased third level participation rates. It never gets said in this House but it remains a fact. The idea that you just throw open the doors and say everybody can come in and we will provide high-quality, targeted higher education is illusory - deliberately so - not possible and not doable. It is certainly not doable next June, and we need a dose of reality in respect of those kinds of proposals. It is not fair to students to suggest that type of approach, which is just not possible. I accept, however, the need for clarity, and that needs to happen quickly. The Minister is very much possessed of that reality also and will bring this to a conclusion within the next week.

If there are any students watching, they will have got that the Taoiseach accepts the need for the clarity, but they will not have got any further clarity from him about what decision will be made or when it will be made.

I stress that they need such clarity, and they need it as soon as possible.

I do not accept that the idea there should be open access to third level education is illusory. It is not. We currently have open access to second level education. Is that illusory? No, it is not. Everyone is able to go from first level education to second level education and we are able to provide it. Could we say that absolutely everyone who wants to go to third level education can do so? Could we do away with the huge mental health pressure on second level students of the leaving certificate? Could we make the investment in education? Could we unleash the potential of many of those who do not currently manage to get to third level education and the benefit to our society by doing so? Absolutely, it could be done. Would that benefit our society as a whole? Absolutely. Is it a choice by the Taoiseach's Government to ensure the billionaires who have 60% extra wealth get to increase their wealth year on year, instead of investing in the education of our young people? That is a choice the Taoiseach's Government chooses to make.

The billionaires will always get access to third level education.

The harder task is to make sure we create from the early years on the opportunities for people to progress in early education to primary and second level education so they have the capacity to progress to third level. That is where I would put the extra investment - into early childhood education and childcare, where the full development of the child can be realised much earlier and the potential of the child can be developed much earlier, irrespective of background or circumstances. It is not all about going to college for the sake of it. Looking at the first year results in some courses in some areas of third level, there is a high attrition rate. It is not in anyone's interest for people to enter into a programme with high attrition rates. We need to be sensible about this.

One of the best things that has been happening in the past two years is the dramatic increase in apprenticeships. You do not have to go to third level to do good quality apprenticeships. They are happening. Our role is to ensure there is as wide an availability of options for students as possible. We should increase those options at second level. That was one of my criticisms of second level. The Minister for Education is committed to reforming the leaving certificate, not in some knee-jerk reactionary way as occasioned by Covid but rather in a more sensible and informed way in terms of the need for continuing assessment into the future and so on, and having more varied leaving certificate options for students.

Home is supposed to be a safe place of protection and security for people. However, for thousands of men, women and children, their homes, especially during lockdown and restrictions, have been places of daily terror. In recent days, the Department of Justice has furnished Aontú with statistics on domestic violence. There has been a dramatic increase in the level of domestic violence in every county in this State. In my own county of Meath, for example, in 2021, 1,518 reports of domestic violence were made. That is in stark contrast with 2019, which was pre-pandemic, when 1,217 such reports were made. There was a 20% increase in those two years. Each call to a helpline is a crisis in a person's life.

The trend is replicated throughout the country. According to Safe Ireland, there were 57,277 calls to its helplines in 2020. There were 23,785 incidents reported to the Garda, of which 7,600 involved charges. There were 4,000 breaches of protective orders in the same year. Shockingly, 19 new women and three new children contacted the local services every day. Those are incredible figures. For every single woman who contacted the Garda, there were those who felt, for whatever reason, unable to pick up the phone.

Domestic violence is getting worse in this State. The Covid restrictions have played a significant part in that. I have been told that with each new lockdown, there were significant spikes in the number of people who contacted those services. According to the Council of Europe, Ireland has only one third of the refuge support accommodation that is necessary. We currently have 144 such places in this State. We should have 450. There are nine counties in this State with no domestic violence accommodation whatsoever. In counties such as Cavan and Monaghan, it is left to activists such as Councillor Sarah O'Reilly to fight for that accommodation.

Because of the lack of spaces, it is estimated that 1,351 women did not get access to accommodation between March and August 2020. It is a scandal. It is happening at a time when people are rightly shocked at the level of violence there is against women in the State. I have been told we need a €9 million investment right now for increased service provision. We need €112 million right now for increased capital investment to build units where families can take refuge. Will the Taoiseach guarantee that this year this funding will be made available?

I thank the Deputy for raising what is a very serious issue for us as a society. The level and scale of domestic violence is shocking and unacceptable. The funding will be provided to deal with it. Tusla will soon publish its review of the provision of accommodation for victims of domestic violence. This will assist in developing a plan to address the shortfall of adequate refuge provision and the building of centres. The Minister for Justice, as we said last week, is bringing to a conclusion a national strategy to combat domestic violence, sexual violence and gender-based violence. That should be ready by early March. It will focus on prevention, protection, prosecution and co-ordinated policies. The Minister will lead the policy and the development of services.

We want to streamline the provision of centres in particular in terms of capital and current provision. Zero tolerance for domestic violence is the object of the strategy. This involves the provision, which I acknowledge is not there in some counties. Under the Cabinet committee that I will chair we will follow through on meeting the objectives that have been set and that will emerge from the Tusla review, and in terms of making sure we can do it in a more streamlined, faster and more effective manner. Resources will not be the issue in getting this developed.

There will also be a strong legislative arm to this. The Minister is creating a new criminal offence of stalking, which Senator Lisa Chambers has been progressing with others in the Seanad. The Minister and Senator Chambers are working together on this and on non-fatal strangulation. A new hate crime Bill will be published by the Minister, Deputy McEntee, in the summer. This will introduce new specific aggravated offences with enhanced penalties for crimes motivated by prejudice against certain characteristics, including gender. The Minister will also publish a new sexual offences Bill involving many important changes. The Minister will shortly sign an order to bring into operation the Criminal Procedure Act 2021, allowing for pretrial hearings that will reduce delays in the trial process that might re-traumatise victims. I reassure the Deputy this is getting top priority from the Government and will continue to do so.

I welcome the strategy that will be published in March but all the strategies in the world will not make a difference to the level of accommodation provided unless funding is also provided. We can stack strategies to the ceiling of the Dáil. Will the Taoiseach commit to making sure that, on the day of the strategy being published, he will also publish the funding that will accompany the strategy?

It is not just domestic violence that has received a spike. Yesterday, I received information that there was an increase in the number of babies born with alcohol and drug addiction in the State. Just before Christmas, I received information that 70,000 children were referred to Tusla last year. This is more children than do the leaving certificate in a given year. There has been a major spike with regard to the mental health of children. The development of children with special needs has reversed over recent years. Hospital waiting lists have ballooned. Cancer diagnosis screening and treatment have collapsed. On Friday, the Taoiseach mentioned the Government would conduct an investigation into the measures taken over the past two years with regard to restrictions. Will the Taoiseach give us a date as to when that review or investigation will take place so we can learn from what happened over the past two years and make sure the damage that was done is not replicated?

That is a separate question entirely in terms of Covid-19 which I will deal with-----

The figures are pointing to-----

I know but let us be honest that this is a wider issue. First of all, significant additional funding has been provided this year through the Department of Justice and Tusla and funding to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in respect of all of the strands of the issue around domestic violence and addressing it. Additional funding was provided this year but the strategy will outline and indicate the necessity for further funding, particularly in respect of the centres. The resources will be provided to fulfil the targets and the commitments within the strategy itself. I have always said that there has to be a full evaluation of how the country performed in respect of Covid-19. We need to do further research, certainly, on the domestic violence implications that arose from Covid-19 and the lockdowns, in particular, and get a further evaluation.

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