Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Tuesday, 4 Jul 2017

Vol. 956 No. 3

Order of Business

Before we commence the Order of Business, I ask Deputies to please comply with the Standing Orders. They should ask only a question on the Order of Business or promised legislation. Please do not try to circumvent that because quite a long list of Deputies have indicated their wish to raise matters.

Today's business shall be No. 10, Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017 - Second Stage (resumed). Private Members' business shall be No. 124, motion re bin charges, selected by Fianna Fáil.

Wednesday’s business shall be No. 10, Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2017 - Second Stage (resumed), if not previously concluded; No. 2, Rugby World Cup 2023 Bill 2017 - Order for Second Stage, Second and Remaining Stages; and No. 3, Independent Reporting Commission Bill 2017 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage. Private Members' business shall be No. 125, motion re child care, selected by Sinn Féin.

Thursday's business shall be No. 11, statements on the quarterly report on housing; No. 12, Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Bill 2016 - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; No. 13, Minerals Development Bill 2015 [Seanad] - Order for Report, Report and Final Stages; and No. 3, Independent Reporting Commission Bill 2017 - Second Stage (resumed), if not previously concluded.

I refer Members to the revised report of the Business Committee dated 3 July 2017. Regarding Wednesday’s business, it is proposed that:

(1) The Dáil shall sit at 10.00 a.m.

(2) Second Stage of the Rugby World Cup 2023 Bill 2017 shall conclude within 125 minutes. Speeches shall be confined to a single round for a Minister or Minister of State and the main spokesperson for parties or groups, or a member nominated in their stead, which shall not exceed 15 minutes each, with a five minute speech for a Minister or Minister of State in reply. Committee and Remaining Stages shall conclude within 120 minutes.

Regarding Thursday's business, it is proposed that:

(1) The Dáil shall sit at 10.00 a.m. to take statements on the quarterly report on housing for two hours. The statements of a Minister or Minister of State and the main spokesperson for parties or groups, or a Member nominated in their stead shall not exceed ten minutes each, with a second round of 30 minutes in total for members of the Government, Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin to be divided proportionally on a 40:40:20 basis, respectively. There shall be a ten minute response from a Minister or Minister of State and all Members may share time. If the statements conclude before 12 noon, the House shall suspend until 12 noon.

(2) The Dáil shall suspend on the conclusion of the voting block for 30 minutes.

(3) Notwithstanding Standing Order 140(2), neither a Private Members’ Bill nor a committee report shall be taken. Questions to the Minister for Education and Skills shall be taken at 7 p.m. The Dáil shall sit later than 7.48 p.m. and shall adjourn on the conclusion of Topical Issues.

There are two proposals to be put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with Wednesday's business agreed to?

Can I raise an objection to the Rugby World Cup Bill going through the House in the fashion that it is proposed? There has been no prelegislative scrutiny of it. We have nothing but the scantiest details about it. We are being asked to commit €320 million of public money. We have not seen anyone from the Irish Rugby Football Union, IRFU, present to a committee, which it could easily have done to answer questions about it. To push that Bill through this House and conclude Second Stage of it within 120 minutes and Committee Stage of it within 120 minutes is wrong. We could defer putting this Bill through until next week. We do not have to agree it this week. We should not commit €320 million of public money without any proper analysis as to where it is going, what the risks are and what are the potential benefits.

Thank you. We have the Deputy's question.

I understand an additional hour for this Bill has already been provided. As the House will be aware, the order and schedule are now agreed by the Business Committee, and this has been agreed by the Business Committee.

A Leas-Cheann Comhairle-----

If I could comment on that point and put forward a suggestion that would help us, in advance of voting this through, we could invite in the head of the IRFU to answer questions.

The Deputy is here a long time and he knows he is not entitled to come in a second time. I call Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett.

I want it noted that it is not true that the order in front of us is exactly what was agreed at the Business Committee.

The Leas-Cheann Comhairle agrees with me. I was going to be rapporteur this week and I decided not to do it because we agree certain things and then other things appear both for next week and for this week. If we are taking seriously working on a consensual basis at the Business Committee, then the Government should not be pulling surprises and having things appear the day after the meeting, which change all that was agreed. That suggests the Government is playing games. If we are serious about new politics, I ask that we would get agreed at the meeting of the Business Committee what will be the business for the following week.

Has Deputy Mattie McGrath something relevant to raise?

I have on that issue. In fairness to the secretariat of the Business Committee, they rang around the Whips.

For our part, we agreed to it and I assume they did the same with the other Whips.

Can I respond? The Business Committee had its meeting. There was agreement and some changes were proposed. There was an incorporeal meeting and there were some dissenters. That is where we stand. That is my information.

I take both contributions in good faith. There was an agreement but at the last minute there was an issue with the planning Bill. There will be a stand alone Bill because of the planning permissions that will need to be completed before the end of the summer. I accept there is good faith and trust within the Business Committee but this was something beyond our control.

If I can come back in on that-----

Maybe at a later stage.

The Deputy cannot. The Standing Orders state that the Deputy can only come in once on this. I cannot allow this. The Deputy has had his explanation whether or not he likes it.

In relation to the Order of Business-----

I am putting the question.

It is a specific question. Can the head of the IRFU be called into a committee to answer questions in advance of our voting on this measure regarding the spending of €320 million in public money? Will the Government try to facilitate such a committee so that we have a chance to question people about this public spending. I want to hear the Taoiseach's reply.

Does the Taoiseach wish to respond?

It is a matter for the Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport to decide who it wishes to invite. I have no doubt that if it issued an invitation to the IRFU, it would accept but it is not a matter for the whole House.

Is Wednesday's business agreed to? Agreed. Is Thursday's business agreed to? Agreed.

As we have lost some time, we now move on to Questions on Promised Legislation.

I have been told there is no Chairman of the Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport, so it is very difficult for it to get any work done.

There is a Vice Chairman.

The Minister is at large.

The programme for Government from last year stated:

The tender process for the National Broadband Plan is currently underway and will influence the contract’s terms and conditions. Following the completion of the tender process and the awarding of the contract, targeted for June 2017, the new Government will work with the winners to accelerate the roll out of the infrastructure next year.

It is now July 2017. There are still 542,000 rural homes and businesses without high-speed broadband. It is a complete shambles. No one is clear about the pathway to proper access to broadband across Ireland and people are in despair and have no sense of there being any capacity on the Government's part to deliver this. This will cost jobs in SMEs across rural areas and makes existing jobs difficult to retain.

Recently, Deputy Michael Moynihan and I visited Kanturk and met a company, Avonmore electrical, and North Cork Creameries and listened to how they attempt to cope in the absence of high-speed broadband. It reflects on their incredible professionalism and commitment but it speaks very badly of the State and its capacity to roll out a basic tender. Could the Taoiseach explain why the Government's commitment on broadband has not been delivered? Can he explain the delay? When can the homes and businesses across Ireland expect to get access to high-speed quality broadband.

Can the Taoiseach respond on promised legislation on high-speed broadband?

We have a question on the same issue.

Last week the Minister, Deputy Naughten, told the Dáil that he did not expect the first homes to be connected to the State broadband scheme until after Eir had concluded a commercial contract connecting 300,000 rural homes to broadband. Can the Taoiseach confirm this? Can he also confirm that over half a million customers in rural areas will not see the roll out of rural broadband commence until at least 2019, after this commercial scheme is completed? Does the Taoiseach accept reports that claim that it could now be 2023 or 2024 before many of these 500,000 homes and businesses see any progress towards linking them to broadband? In the context of Brexit and its likely impact on agriculture, the agrifood industry, fishing communities and rural communities, the failure by Government to deliver broadband places rural Ireland at a distinct economic and social disadvantage. It shows once again that people in rural areas are treated like second class citizens.

There is no legislation promised in this area.

It is in the programme for Government.

The procurement process is now at the detailed solutions phase and bidders have been invited to submit their detailed solutions in September. This is the last stage of the procurement process before moving to final tenders.

It was meant to be in 2012.

In terms of phasing in or rolling out high-speed broadband, over 50% of premises are already covered and it is anticipated that 75% will be covered by 2018.

It is hoped more than 90% will be covered by the end of 2020.

There is no credibility in that statement.

This morning the story broke in the news that the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has carried out raids in conjunction with the European Competition Directorate on the offices of insurers, brokers and Insurance Ireland on suspicion of price fixing. I note and welcome this development as drivers and businesses have been ripped off for years. We recently learned that in 2015, the Central Bank wrote to the Minister for Finance, telling him insurers were giving false and misleading information, and the new Minister confirmed to my colleague, Deputy Pearse Doherty, last week that no action was taken. Currently Irish law does not allow the courts to impose any form of civil financial penalty on persons found to have breached competition law. What steps will the Taoiseach take to ensure that if wrongdoing is found to have occurred, this will not be another white collar sector of society where the law does not reach and consumers will not get justice?

I do not have any information on the raids that took place this morning. Enforcement happens independently of the Government and we are not informed when raids occur. The competition Acts are very strong in Ireland already and it is an area where we have very strong legislation and penalties. I have no doubt that if sufficient evidence is found, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission will take the necessary action.

Six months ago RTE first broadcast the "We Need to Talk about Dad" programme and it was aired again last night. Anybody who watched RTE would have been struck by Mr. Brendan Courtney's struggle to care for his dad, Frank, after he was left paralysed by a stroke. The family had to battle to try to get the resources needed to allow him stay in his own home. I and others raised this when the programme was first broadcast six months ago and the Taoiseach's predecessor stated the best option for the future might be a statutory home care scheme, with consultation having to take place on that. Six months on, we have not even seen the beginnings of the consultation. Where is the statutory home care scheme that was supposed to replicate the support scheme for families in the fair deal scheme? While I am standing, I ask about the Leech case I mentioned last week and whether the Taoiseach has had the chance to look at the letter I sent to him.

I understand the Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, made an announcement on that consultation for a statutory home care scheme last week. If that is not the case it is certainly pending. I am still waiting for a reply on the other question raised.

I have not been here for the past ten weeks.

Fáilte ar ais.

I thank the Deputy very much. I have been subject to prosecution alongside six other protestors for false imprisonment. I am back now and there is something very important to be learned from what happened in court. It has serious ramifications for others who might seek to exercise their right to protest. Will the Taoiseach bring forward legislation to establish a public inquiry into the Garda investigation of the Jobstown protest and the clear evidence of conspiracy to stitch up protestors for false imprisonment?

I call the Taoiseach. It is a question for the Taoiseach.

There has been a bit of an attempt to laugh at the notion of a conspiracy. A conspiracy is a secret plan by a group of people to do something unlawful or harmful.

Is it a question on promised legislation?

Allow me to give just one simple example, although I could give many. Three gardaí up to the rank of superintendent under oath stated that I had said, "Will we keep her here all night?" when I said no such thing.

One can speak about the frailty of human memory for one or even for two but for three gardaí to hear something that was not uttered-----

This is not a court of appeal or the Supreme Court. I call the Taoiseach to answer the question.

That is why we need a public inquiry. It is up to the Taoiseach.

Is this about promised legislation?

The Taoiseach will answer the question.

The Government does not have any proposal to bring forward legislation for a public inquiry on this matter.

It appears to me that Deputy Murphy and his co-defendants got a fair trial. The jury heard both sides of the case and all the evidence and it decided to acquit, but I do not believe that means that the behaviour we saw in Jobstown was decent or acceptable.

Was the perjury in court by multiple gardaí acceptable?

The way Deputy Burton and Karen O'Connell were treated was very wrong.

Do not try to re-run the case. Was perjury acceptable?

I think they were terrorised. One can see the fear in their faces when one looks at the coverage.

No, Taoiseach. We cannot re-run it.

Is the Taoiseach not worried about the stitch-up by the gardaí?

There are firm commitments in the programme for Government to increase job creation and the protection of workers' rights. I draw the Taoiseach's attention to an urgent and serious employment issue in Clonmel, County Tipperary, that is developing in a company called SNC-Lavalin. It is a multinational based in Montreal which has 50 office staff employed in Clonmel. When SNC-Lavalin took over from Kentz, a wonderful indigenous company that provided huge employment, guarantees were given to the staff. Now I find that many employees, without warning, have been put on notice that they face redundancy under extremely unfavourable terms and conditions. For some of them it will happen this week while for others it will be in two weeks. There is a commitment to employment and the support of workers in the programme for Government. Will the Taoiseach direct his Minister sitting beside him to engage with the issue as a matter of urgency and do all she can to prevent this happening? This wonderful company has been in existence for 60 or 70 years and for the workers to be treated like this two or three years after it was taken over is wrong.

I thank the Deputy. I have the letter he has just given to me and I will revert to him later today on this matter.

I ask the Taoiseach about the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill. As he knows, it is customary that the Social Welfare and Pensions Bill would be taken in the first half of the year. We had the pre-legislative stage some weeks ago, but the Bill has not been published yet. There is no indication on the Order of Business for this week or the indicative order for next week that Second Stage will be debated in the House but, amazingly, Committee Stage to be taken by the joint committee is scheduled for this day week. I always thought the practice was to have Second Stage before Committee Stage. Have we reverted to having Committee Stage before Second Stage? Is this new politics?

We are proposing to bring the legislation to Cabinet in the morning and then it will be published. I have requested through the Whip's office that we schedule Second Stage at the earliest convenient time. Obviously, we will not have Committee Stage if we have not had Second Stage, but I expect-----

Before the summer.

-----with the help of Deputy O'Dea and all the other parties in the House, that we might conclude all Stages before we recess for the summer. We certainly will be taking Second Stage.

I want to ask the Taoiseach a straight question, and there are no politics involved. The programme for Government commits to doing a mid-term capital review. That is under way. We understand that various Departments have made submissions to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. I asked this question of the Taoiseach's predecessor and I am asking him now. Can those submissions be made available to be scrutinised in advance? I ask the question because a capital programme cannot be turned on and off easily, so we plan for a number of years ahead. In terms of some of the written replies I have received, I have concerns about certain areas. In terms of the capital review, I ask the Taoiseach that at an early date - his predecessor committed to this but it has not happened - the submissions made be published to allow this House have a proper debate on the matter.

I will discuss it with the Minister, Deputy Donohoe, but it is not the normal process for submissions, whether it is to do with a capital plan, the budget or the Estimates, to be published before decisions are made. It is part of the deliberative process. It probably would not aid our efforts to come to decisions and compromises to have all those submissions in the public domain because, inevitably, Departments ask for much more than can ever be delivered and it would make it harder to have a fair outcome and a balanced compromise were all that to play out in the public domain.

The general data protection regulation comes into effect in less than 12 months, in May 2018.

It is directly applicable, which means it will be enforced immediately in Ireland. It is complex and was the largest piece of legislation ever to emanate from the European Union. Data protection is obviously at the heart of the technology industry, multinationals and SMEs. In fact, anybody who does business keeps customer records on file and this is not to mention privacy issues, as well as the data protection and digital rights citizens must enjoy. Civic society has done great work in this area. However, if we look at the ministerial portfolios the Taoiseach created recently, data protection is fifth in line in the list of responsibilities of one Minister of State. The Minister of State, Deputy Pat Breen, has responsibility for jobs, trade, small business, the digital single market and data protection, which is fifth in line in what is already a fragmented and complex Department. With the best will in the world, it is difficult to see how the Minister of State can give it due attention and there are concerns within the industry that it is not receiving sufficient Government attention. It is a hugely important issue and will be a game changer across the area of commercial, scientific and data privacy issues.

I am advised that the heads of the Bill have been cleared and will be subject to pre-legislative scrutiny at the committee today. I have no doubt that the Minister of State, Deputy Pat Breen, will handle the issue as well as any Minister can.

I raise an issue concerning pensions that has been brought up many times before and which the Taoiseach has given a commitment to sort out. The averaging of contributions made over a person's lifetime has left many hugely disadvantaged but particularly women who started work early in life and took a break in the middle. We know that this is a problem that needs to be dealt with and the Taoiseach made a commitment to deal with it. How does he intend to deal with it? Are we to revert back to the way it was prior to 2012 or, if not, has the Taoiseach some other scheme that he intends to put in place? When does he intend to do so? Most importantly, what is to happen for the people in the middle, those who made the same contribution as other citizens, yet who find them themselves with a lower pension? Citizens deserve to receive the same pension as others who made the same contribution.

What is proposed is a move towards a new approach called the total contributions approach. It involves taking the total number of contributions made through the course of someone's working life, whether it be 35 years, 40 years or 50 years, and the pension he or she receives will be linked with the number of contributions made, not when he or she made them. Obviously, any rule change will not be retrospective; it never is for any scheme of this nature. It is intended to have the new system in place by 2020.

The geothermal energy Bill has been promised. Has it been cleared by the Cabinet and, if not, is it likely to be so cleared in the near future? When is it likely to be brought before the House?

The same people who are working on the geothermal energy Bill are working on the minerals Bill, which is working its way through the House. Once it is enacted, they will then turn their attention to the geothermal energy Bill. I know that it has been on the books for a very long time - seven or eight years at this stage - but so was the minerals Bill.

With regard to an answer I gave Deputy Brendan Howlin earlier about public consultation on a statutory scheme for home care, that process will be launched on Thursday morning of this week.

I refer to page 58 of the programme for Government on the issue of capacity within hospitals. The latest figures released by the INMO are very troubling, particularly for hospitals outside Dublin, in that there have been significant increases in the numbers of patients on trolleys and the level of overcrowding. More than 51,000 patients have been impacted on, including 1,695 in Naas, County Kildare, in the past six months. The figure is significantly higher than at the same time last year. It is now the summer, but it will not be that long before we will have to prepare for the winter. It is very worrying that the position is getting worse; it is certainly not getting better. What measures are the Government going to put in place, with the Minister for Health, to make sure we not find ourselves in a more difficult situation?

The report on the bed capacity review is due in September and will inform the capital plan thereafter. Of course, the Government and the Minister are not going to wait for the report on a bed capacity review to take action.

An additional 102 beds were brought into the system last year and 300 the year previously, and anything that can be done to increase capacity in our hospitals and reduce attendance at our hospitals will be done in the time ahead.

I had a look at the figures, and I have always taken an interest in the area, being a medical professional and having served as Minister for Health. While overall the figures certainly show a disimprovement and underline the fact we need to do a lot more, it is interesting to see the variation from hospital to hospital. For example, according to the INMO figures Beaumont Hospital has had its lowest overcrowding since records began, and this is a hospital with an ageing population with no additional beds. Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, an area with a massively growing population, has its lowest overcrowding in ten years.

Outside Dublin.

St. Vincent's hospital has its second lowest overcrowding in ten years, with one exception, and this is notwithstanding the fact the accident and emergency department at St. Columcille's Hospital closed. Kilkenny, which has a new emergency department and additional staff, has its worst overcrowding in ten years. Anyone who thinks overcrowding is directly linked to beds and staffing can see it is clearly not the case and there are many other factors at play.

The Taoiseach will agree that Dublin Airport is critical to the economic development of our country. He will also agree it is now at capacity and the need for the second runway is urgent. Critical to this is the regulation of noise by the Irish Aviation Authority, which will address concerns of local residents and enable construction of the runway to commence. Will the Government advise on whether primary or secondary legislation will be put in place to give authority to the Irish Aviation Authority, because it is required? When the Government has decided on whether it is primary or secondary legislation, when can we expect it to come before the House?

I apologise to the Deputy but I do not have the answer to hand. I will ask the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to inform him.

He does not know. I asked him last week.

He is a very busy man.

I wish to ask about the building control Bill, the general scheme of which was recently published. The Bill will legislate for the registration of building contractors to ensure compliance with improved building standards. This is necessary. In my constituency we have had issues with the Beacon South Quarter and there are other apartment complexes with fire and safety issues and pyrite issues. I ask that this be expedited. Will the Taoiseach indicate when it may come back to the House?

The heads have been cleared by Cabinet and the Bill is being drafted by the Department. We hope to have legislation later in the year.

I wish to raise the HSE audit into St. John of God and the millions of euro spent on top-ups and bonuses for senior executives that should have been spent on service users. The Minister has publicly called for the moneys to be repaid, but in 2013 the charity disregarded a call by the Government to comply with public pay norms. Other than calling publicly for the millions to be repaid, which will most likely be ignored again, what action does the Taoiseach or Government plan to take to recoup the millions of euro that should have been spent on community services such as intellectual disability and mental health services and homes?

There is no promised legislation on this issue and nor is it in the programme for Government. Perhaps the Minister, Deputy Harris, will give the Deputy an answer.

Many months ago, Kerry Co-op shareholders got savage bills from the Revenue Commissioners. Subsequently, the Revenue Commissioners came before the Oireachtas agriculture committee and gave an undertaking to facilitate a test case. The shareholders are ready and have a client ready to go forward for a test case but the Revenue Commissioners are stalling the deal and are not responding or facilitating the case. Will the Taoiseach ask the Revenue Commissioners what is wrong and respond to the members or the Oireachtas committee as to what is the delay?

There is no promised legislation.

The Revenue Commissioners promised us at the committee meeting they would respond and facilitate a test case.

There is no promised legislation.

The programme for Government states that An Garda Síochána must have the modern technology and resources necessary to detect and investigate crimes. On that basis, will the Taoiseach inform me as to the progress of the implementation of the justice capital plan to date, which aims to update policing infrastructure nationwide? Will he also give an update on the development of the Garda regional headquarters for the Sligo-Leitrim division?

I am afraid I do not have that information to hand. I know there has been considerable investment in Garda capital in recent years, not just with a return to recruitment but also additional vehicles, new Garda stations, new IT equipment and other developments. The Minister for Justice and Equality will be best placed to provide Deputy McLoughlin with a report on that.

Obesity is a major health challenge owing to the consumption of calorie-dense food with low nutritional value, as well as a reduction in daily physical activity. Obesity is the biggest risk to our population’s health with one in four children and two out of three adults being overweight or obese. Obesity costs the State €1.7 billion per year. It increases one’s risk of developing several serious and potentially life-threatening diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiac disease and certain cancers such as breast cancer.

Has the Deputy a question on promised legislation?

What is the Taoiseach’s plan to tackle this epidemic? As a doctor and former Minister for Health, he has vast experience in the health area. The health and wellbeing (healthy workplaces and calorie posting) Bill would be a start.

Deputy, we cannot have a Second Stage speech now. I call the Taoiseach on promised legislation.

There is legislation promised in this area for calorie posting and other matters. Heads of the Bill have yet to come to the Cabinet but I know the Department of Health is working on it.

There are many grand statements, promises and commitments in the programme for Government. I want to address waiting times, in particular those with concerns for breast cancer treatment. What will the Government do about the fact that 143 women in County Donegal, who have been referred by their GPs to the systematic breast disease clinic, have been waiting over a year to be seen? Hundreds of others have been waiting six months for an appointment.

As a former Minister for Health, the Taoiseach will know the concern these women are experiencing, waiting this undue time. What will the Government do about this? Is the Taoiseach aware that another person in the clinic in question will be going on leave shortly? This delay is unacceptable and the Government needs to step in.

There is no promised legislation on this issue. Programme for Government commitments are not specific to any particular service. I suggest a parliamentary question to the Minister for Health will give the Deputy a detailed reply.

The programme for Government promises to look at the whole issue of special needs education. There seems to be significant delay on the part of the Department of Education and Skills and the National Council for Special Education in allocating special needs assistants, SNAs, for next year. Already schools and parents are concerned that they do not know what is happening.

I hope some announcement will occur that there will be more investment in special needs assistants in the coming year. If there is, it will come with a sour taste, however, because schools are off, boards of management are not operating and teachers are not at school, meaning people do not know what is happening with the sector. Special needs assistants are worried about their jobs and parents are worried about their children. It is about a month later than last year, but this is causing huge confusion throughout the education system. Will the Taoiseach give the parents, the SNAs and schools any comfort on this matter?

A memo will go to the Cabinet either tomorrow or next week on SNAs. Hopefully, there will be clarity over the next few days for people. The Deputy has made a valid point that this is not the best way to do things. It would be much better if people knew where they stood before the school year ended. I anticipate this will be the last year in which it is done in this way and, in future years, people will be given much more notice than has happened in the past.

There has been a significant increase in the level of gambling activity and problem gambling in society. There is a serious need to provide more regulation for what is a large and lucrative industry which reaches beyond our borders and has as much of an online presence as it has on the ground. In that context, will the Taoiseach give an update on the work taking place on the gambling control Bill?

This is an important issue. It is also important the Government puts in place a proper regulatory structure around gambling, both to regulate an industry from which many people get much pleasure but also one which gives rise to people becoming addicted, impoverished and unwell as a consequence. Legislation in this area is long overdue. The Minister of State, Deputy Stanton, is working on it and it is expected that heads of the Bill will be ready in the next session.