Senator Dolan touched on the fact that events celebrating Pride month will take place this weekend and not only in Dublin, although Dublin Pride will probably be the largest festival and parade in the country. The Equali-TEA event in Leinster House this morning was our attempt to support Pride. During this month, we must be mindful and recognise that there are people among us who do not enjoy the dignity of treatment that we all expect to get. It is important for us all to be advocates for our friends, neighbours and family members. We must ensure every month, not just during Pride month in June, that we act as allies for the LGBTQI+ community. We will work and march in Pride - and with pride - this weekend to support our family members, friends and neighbours.
Senator Carrigy asked me to contact the Minister for Education about the allocation of resources for schools, particularly DEIS schools, and raised the inconsistency in this regard around the country. I will do that today and get back to the Senator. The Minister was here this morning. I will reflect on the Senator's request and contact the Minister.
Senator Carrigy also supported the call made by Senator Buttimer that we set aside a Seanad sitting to discuss disability matters. The Joint Committee on Disability Matters meets every Thursday morning but a Seanad sitting would shine a very large light on disability matters. We could bring in representatives of all the focus and advocacy groups working in this area to talk about the many challenges. Not least among these is the Government's disability capacity review published last year, which tells us in no uncertain terms exactly what is needed in the system as regards inputs between now and 2032. We certainly do not come close to what is required. As such, a debate in the House would be welcome. I will ask for a special sitting, perhaps via the Committee on Parliamentary Privileges and Oversight. We can have a conversation on what is the best way to proceed and invite all Senators to let us know who we should ask to attend.
Senator Keogan asked me to write a letter to the Minister for Health and I will do that today. I ask her for information on the reasons 35 children have been excluded from the scheme for the Kaftrio drug. This welcome scheme gives enormous hope to hundreds of people, particularly young people aged under 18, who are suffering from cystic fibrosis. They need to have hope and be able to aspire to a normal quality of life. If the Senator provides that information, I will write to the Minister. Hopefully, with the support of all Senators, we can get all of the children included in the Kaftrio scheme.
Senator Gallagher asked for a debate on the home care sector. It is a bizarre situation in which we find ourselves. For the ten years I have been a Member of these Houses, we have sought more hours because there is always a need for more hours. As the Senator described, we know that keeping people in their own homes allows them to live longer, healthier and happier lives. This year, we probably have more hours than are required in the system but we do not have the people to provide all those hours. That is better than the problem of having no money to fund the hours. We certainly need to talk about staff pay and conditions and ensure we resolve the problem as soon as we possibly can.
Senator Mullen asked me to find time to reintroduce his Bill and I can certainly do that. As Members know, we have been using Thursday afternoons when there is no Government legislation to advance Private Members' legislation in the House. That approach is working successfully. Perhaps the Senator could restore his Bill to the Order Paper and I will happily facilitate it as soon as I can.
Senator Maria Byrne very much welcomed the announcement that Shannon Airport and Ireland West Airport Knock were the first airports to be awarded age-friendly status by the WHO this week. That is a very welcome announcement.
Senators Marie Byrne, Malcolm Byrne and Cummins spoke of the need for equality for consumers. At the end of the day, consumers rather than the question of who provides the transport are what are important. We have an inequality with regard to coach tourism and Expressway services as they cannot avail of the extra 20% discount in fares announced by the Minister for Transport a number of months ago. That also applies to the adult student card that has been introduced. I do not believe a private versus public scenario was ever envisaged but the matter needs to be sorted out now.
To respond to Senator Maria Byrne, last Wednesday night during the debate on a cost-of-living motion, I asked for the 20% reduction in transport fares to be made permanent. I am pleased to hear, and I know these are only whispers but they are obviously whispers with a purpose, that the 20% discount will be extended for at least another year. That is very welcome.
Senator Murphy congratulated the Rás winner, Daire Feeley, who is from Roscommon. There must be something in the water in Roscommon as the county has enjoyed so much success lately. I, too, congratulate Daire. His exploits in cycling are a real feat. It was wonderful to see pictures of him and his family smiling yesterday.
Senator Murphy welcomed the ACRE scheme announced by the Minister for Agriculture, his two Ministers of State and the Taoiseach yesterday. An allocation of €1.5 billion over five years has been provided for the new scheme. Senator Boyhan referred to communication problems and I think they can be sorted out. It is a worthwhile scheme. Senator Murphy was right to encourage people to sign up to both the new scheme and the fodder scheme, for which I thank him.
Senator Flynn asked me for a debate and yesterday, in my absence, she asked the Deputy Leader, Senator Chambers, for a debate. It is likely that I will not be able to arrange a debate before the end of July but I will get her an update. I will talk to the Minister's people today to find out exactly what the position is and update the Senator.
Senator Flynn also asked for support for two pensioners who want to get back into the home in which they lived for 50 years. I do not know all of the details but I will do whatever I can later today to help the Senator.
Senator Moynihan spoke about the 206 Irish women who had to travel to the United Kingdom outside of the democratic decision Irish people made a number of years ago to introduce medical terminations in this country. The review of the legislation will allow us all to have a proper debate and suggest changes. Whether people are pro or anti the legislation and the way it has worked in the last number of years, everyone is entitled to a view. That review must be completed sooner rather than later because some people still find themselves in traumatic situations. We fought so hard for this and encouraged the Irish people to be as compassionate as they were. This matter needs to be reflected upon.
Senator Moynihan also mentioned something that is extremely practical. The construction defects group will probably not have its report ready by the time we deliberate on the 2023 budget in September or October. It makes sense, therefore, to make financial provision, as the Senator suggested. I will pass on her suggestion to the Minister and get back to her.
Senator Ó Donnghaile raised an issue that is news to me. I am not a member of the committee in question and had not heard about the matter. The Senator is right, and I am a little baffled. I have tried to make inquiries since he raised the issue but I have not received a response. I will follow up the matter.