Order of Business

Is é gnó an lae inniu Míreanna 10 agus 11, tairiscint maidir leis na Rialacháin faoin Acht um Ghairmithe Sláinte agus Cúraim Shóisialaigh (ar ais ón gCoiste); Uimh. 12, tairiscint maidir leis an Ordú faoi na hAchtanna um Pleanáil agus Forbairt, 2000 go 2017 (Méadú ar Líon na nGnáthchomhaltaí den Bhord Pleanála), 2018 (Tarchur chuig Coiste); agus Uimh. 31, an Bille um an Séú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht 2018 - an Dara Céim (atógáil). Is é an Gnó Comhaltaí Príobháideacha Uimh. 181, tairiscint maidir le haonad cumarsáide straitéisí an Rialtais, arna roghnú ag Sinn Féin.

Is é gnó na Céadaoin Uimh. 31a, ráitis roimh an gcruinniú den Chomhairle Eorpach; Uimh. 14, tairiscint maidir leis an am don Tionól Saoránach a shíneadh (le críochnú laistigh de 40 nóiméad, mura mbeidh sí críochnaithe roimhe sin); Uimh. 31, an Bille um an Séú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht 2018 - an Dara Céim (arna hatógáil, mura mbeidh sí críochnaithe roimhe sin) agus na Céimeanna a Bheidh Fágtha (le cur ar athló ar 11 p.m., mura mbeidh sí críochnaithe roimhe sin); Uimh. 14, tairiscint maidir leis an ráiteas mar eolas do vótálaithe i ndáil leis an mBille um an Séú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht 2018 (le tógáil ar an mBille a bheith críochnaithe gan díospóireacht); agus Uimh. 1, an Bille Seirbhísí Teileachumarsáide (Duchtra agus Cáblaí), 2018 [Seanad] - an Dara Céim. Is é an Gnó Comhaltaí Príobháideacha Uimh. 182, tairiscint maidir le hárachas gnó, arna roghnú ag Fianna Fáil.

Is é gnó an Déardaoin Uimh. 31, an Bille um an Séú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht 2018 - an Dara Céim, atógáil, mura mbeidh sí críochnaithe roimhe sin, agus na Céimeanna Eile, le cur ar athló ar 5 p.m., mura mbeidh sí críochnaithe roimhe sin; Uimh. 14, tairiscint maidir leis an ráiteas mar eolas do vótálaithe i ndáil leis an mBille um an Séú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht 2018 le tógáil gan díospóireacht ar an mBille a bheith críochnaithe; agus Uimh. 1, an Bille Seirbhísí Teileachumarsáide (Duchtra agus Cáblaí) 2018 [Seanad] - an Dara Céim. Déanfar an Dara Céim d'Uimh. 51, an Bille um Tháscairí maidir le Dul Chun Cinn Iarbhír agus Cuntais Dáiliúcháin Náisiúnta 2017, a thógáil i mír na hoíche.

I dtaobh chraoladh na socruithe atá beartaithe do ghnó na seachtaine seo, tagraím don chéad tuarascáil athbhreithnithe ón gCoiste Gnó dar dáta an 12 Márta 2018. I ndáil le gnó na Máirt, beartaítear:

(1) go suífidh an Dáil níos déanaí ná 10 p.m. agus go rachaidh sí ar athló tráth nach déanaí ná meán oíche;

(2) go ndéanfar an tairiscint maidir leis na Rialacháin faoin Acht um Ghairmithe Sláinte agus Cúraim Shóisialaigh, ar ais ón gcoiste, agus an tairiscint maidir leis an ordú faoi na hAchtanna um Pleanáil agus Forbairt 2000 go 2017 (Méadú ar Líon na nGnáthchomhaltaí den Bhord Pleanála) 2018, tarchur chuig coiste, a thógáil gan díospóireacht;

(3) nach mbeidh aon Cheisteanna chun an Taoisigh ann de réir bhrí Bhuan-Ordú 38(1)(a), nach mbeidh aon Cheisteanna ó Bhéal ann de réir bhrí Bhuan-Ordú 38(1)(b), agus nach mbeidh aon Saincheisteanna Tráthúla ann de réir bhrí Bhuan-Ordú 29A;

(4) go dtógfar gnó Comhaltaí Príobháideacha faoi Bhuan-Ordú 140(1)(a) tar éis na dtairiscintí gan díospóireacht ar feadh dhá uair an chloig; agus

(5) má chríochnaítear na himeachtaí ar an Dara Céim den Bhille um an Séú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht 2018 Dé Máirt, go ndéanfar aon vótáil a iarrfar a thógáil Dé Céadaoin tar éis na gCeisteanna ar Reachtaíocht a Gealladh. Má chríochnaítear na himeachtaí ar an Dara Céim Dé Céadaoin nó Déardaoin, beartaítear go ndéanfar aon vótáil a iarrfar a thógáil láithreach.

I ndáil le gnó na Céadaoin, beartaítear:

(1) go suífidh an Dáil níos déanaí ná 10.15 p.m. agus go rachaidh sí ar athló tráth nach déanaí ná 11 p.m.;

(2) go dtosóidh na ráitis roimh an gcruinniú den Chomhairle Eorpach láithreach tar éis na gCeisteanna chun an Taoisigh, go gcuirfear an suí ar fionraí dá éis sin faoi Bhuan-Ordú 25(1) ar feadh uair an chloig, go dtabharfar na ráitis chun críche tar éis 85 nóiméad, nach mbeidh iontu ach aon bhabhta amháin d’Aire nó d’Aire Stáit agus do phríomh-urlabhraithe na bpáirtithe agus na ngrúpaí, nó do Chomhalta arna ainmniú nó arna hainmniú ina n-ionad, is babhtaí nach faide ná deich nóiméad an ceann, le freagra cúig nóiméad ó Aire nó ó Aire Stáit, agus féadfaidh na Comhaltaí go léir am a roinnt eatarthu féin;

(3) go ndéanfar an tairiscint maidir leis an am don Tionól Saoránach a shíneadh a thabhairt chun críche tar éis 40 nóiméad agus nach mbeidh sna hóráidí ach aon bhabhta amháin d’Aire nó d’Aire Stáit agus do phríomh-urlabhraithe na bpáirtithe agus na ngrúpaí, nó do Chomhalta arna ainmniú nó arna hainmniú ina n-ionad, is babhtaí nach faide ná cúig nóiméad an ceann agus féadfaidh na Comhaltaí go léir am a roinnt eatarthu féin; agus

(4) go ndéanfar an tairiscint maidir leis an ráiteas mar eolas do vótálaithe i ndáil leis an mBille um an Séú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht 2018 a thógáil gan díospóireacht ar gach Céim den Bhille a bheith críochnaithe, cibé uair a tharlóidh sé, agus déanfar aon vótáil a iarrfar a thógáil láithreach.

Tá dhá chinneadh le déanamh againn. An bhfuil an moladh mar gheall ar ghnó an lae inniu aontaithe? Is the proposal for dealing with today's business agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Wednesday's business agreed to?

It is not agreed to. I refer to the motion regarding an extension of time for the Citizens' Assembly. I have said repeatedly that this is the citizens' assembly, to which, thankfully, we have been elected. The Citizens' Assembly had cost €1.8 million up to December last year, according to a reply I received to a parliamentary question. RED C has been caught with its pants down on this issue, in picking people preferentially and not acting in a proper manner. RED C has stated 99 citizens could never be representative of the full population of the country. The Rural Independent Group and I, therefore, object to allowing more time to be given to the Citizens' Assembly. When will it stop and how much will it cost? It has cost €1.8 million so far.

Is the Deputy objecting to an extension of time for the Citizens' Assembly?

Yes, as per the Order of Business.

Let me try to be helpful to the House on the issue. What we are asking for is the Citizens' Assembly being given a little more time. It was due to finish up, but because of the bad weather, it was unable to hold hearings and make recommendations on a five-year fixed term for Parliament in Ireland. It was last due to meet in the middle of Storm Emma, but for obvious reasons - namely, safety reasons - people were not able to make the meeting. It has, therefore, asked for a few extra weeks until 27 April to do the work we have asked it to do. It would be extraordinary if we were to oppose this reasonable request, given the difficulties members of the Citizens' Assembly and the rest of the country faced in the extreme weather conditions.

The Business Committee concluded that some time should be given to discuss this issue. That is why the allocation of 40 minutes for a brief discussion on the matter has been provided for. I take it that if Deputy Mattie McGrath is not happy with this proposal, he can vote against it on Wednesday when it comes up for discussion. He does not have to oppose the Order of Business.

I am not doing so. We have received no indication that there will be an independent investigation into what happened when members were picked spuriously or into what RED C did. It has carte blanche to do what it wants.

I am sure that matter can come up in the debate. May I take it that the proposal for dealing with today's business is agreed to? Agreed. We will move to questions on promised legislation.

I will pick up where Deputy Eamon Ryan finished, on the upcoming changes to data protection legislation. We have seen analysts' reports on increased Russian cyber attacks on Ireland. The reviews we have seen show that the attacks are on State organisations, as well as private sector organisations. They come at the same time as numerous credible reports on increased activity by the Russian intelligence services in seeking permission from Ireland to engage in increased activity and for increased staff for Russian intelligence services in Ireland. The National Cyber Security Centre is key to the future protection of both the public sector and the private sector. On the upcoming data protection legislation or any other upcoming legislation - we believe there are numerous pieces of legislation in which it could fit - what are the Government's plans to ensure the National Cyber Security Centre will have the legislative teeth, powers and resources it needs to deal with what could be an increase in the number of very sinister attacks in the future?

Cyber security is a big issue. The national cyber security strategy is led by the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Denis Naughten, but, of course, multiple other Departments feed into it, from the Department of Defence to the Department of Justice and Equality and others. It is a rolling policy that is constantly being updated, as it needs to be.

If more resources are needed I can assure the Deputy that given the importance of this issue the Government will make them available, but it is up to the lead Department and the lead Minister to bring recommendations to Cabinet in that area.

I was at the event in Washington last week when the Taoiseach told his tale on how he intervened on behalf of Donald Trump with regard to a planning application close to Trump's Doonbeg resort in County Clare. The relaying of this tale raised a real concern for many people because of the past experiences in the State of political and ministerial interference in the planning process and all that flowed from that. It is a bad situation when a Minister takes a call from a wealthy businessman and makes such an informal intervention on his behalf. There is no way on earth that an ordinary person would have such privileged access or such an intervention. There is scope for inappropriate contact, or at least the perception of inappropriate contract, where Ministers take such calls from wealthy business people on planning matters and then raise the matters in this manner.

We are supposed to be discussing promised legislation here Deputy.

My question relates to the planning and development Bill, which I understand is due for publication this year. Can we have the law amended to ensure that such contact is legally prohibited?

The Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure )(Amendment ) Bill 2017, which is currently passing through the Houses, is due in the Seanad where amendments will be taken on strategic infrastructural investment, such as data centres for example. Is this the legislation to which the Deputy refers?

No. It is the next Bill.

Is that the Bill coming after that planning Bill? The amendment will be in relation to what? I am sorry Deputy.

As I explained, the scenario set out by An Taoiseach in Washington was one of contact that was made to him, while he was overseas, by a very wealthy and influential businessman-----

The Minister, Deputy Murphy, knows-----

The Taoiseach told the story of how he intervened in that. I am asking-----

If the Deputy wishes-----

I ask that such contact be-----

There was no inappropriate contact-----

I was asked by the Minister to clarify.

-----in that point in question because there was a role for the tourism board that was involved, but if Sinn Féin wants to submit an amendment when the Bill comes before the House then it is perfectly entitled to do so.

The programme for Government has an extensive number of commitments on Northern Ireland. It refers the role of the Government as the co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement and it commits to working with the British Government on the implementation of commitments made under previous Governments. Tomorrow, Westminster will begin to debate a Bill to set a budget for Northern Ireland. It has been reported today that the Irish Government has requested a British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference be convened and that Ireland would expect a consultative role should this happen. Today's The Times Ireland edition reports that Prime Minister May's Government is "stalling" on that issue. Will the Tánaiste indicate if the Irish Government has requested the convening of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference? If it has requested this, what is the response of the British Government to date?

I speak to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley, at lot with regard to Northern Ireland. When I last spoke with her it was in advance of her speaking in Westminster and giving an update on Northern Ireland. I told Ms Bradley that I would like her to consider a British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference. I felt it would be appropriate at this stage to have that structure enacted so both Governments could formally discuss the various options they need to consider around a budget for Northern Ireland, how we take our next steps getting a devolved Government back up and running in Northern Ireland and other practical issues that can and should be raised on an east-west basis between the two Governments. I have not yet had a response to this proposal. Ms Bradley has said she wants to think about it, which is perfectly reasonable. Ms Bradley has subsequently been-----

The budget for Northern Ireland is to be discussed tomorrow.

-----to Washington and was quite busy there. I will go to Belfast tomorrow to meet with some of the parties. I expect to speak with the Secretary of State again before the end of the week. We will update the conversation when we speak again.

I wish to raise the programme for Government commitments around sports grants and participation in sport. It is clear from the justifiable critical reaction to the awarding and non-awarding of sports-related capital grants to schools that an examination and overhaul of the system is needed. The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross, saw fit to trumpet the €150,000 granted to Wesley College, a private school, for a hockey pitch, while dozens of public schools in more deprived areas failed to get a button.

Leaving aside the blatant class bias and cronyism at work, there is an in-built bias in the capital sports grant system whereby clubs and schools that own their premises and grounds have greater scope for capital investment than clubs that rent their spaces. Does the Government agree that we need to debate the national sports grant allocation and how to increase the level of participation in sport throughout the country, in line with commitments in the programme for Government?

I welcome the fact that the Government is continuing to increase the funding going to the sports capital programme. It is something that we unfortunately could not afford to do several years ago. The programme is now up and running again. It has an assessment process with which I am very familiar, as most people in this House are, because after many years without that level of support there has been huge interest in recent years. The eligibility criteria determining who can apply and the recommendations concerning successful applications are the results of an independent process.

Like Stepaside Garda station.

In regard to the funding of the particular project the Deputy spoke about, I can confirm that the Ministers had no role in the appeals process other than to approve the monetary allocation proposed by officials. Education facilities can always apply for funding as long as their applications are made jointly with another sports club. The private school in question was a joint applicant, and the proposed facilities will benefit the community as a whole, rather than just the school itself. I understand that the Young Men's Christian Association, YMCA, is part of this application and will be able to use the facilities concerned.

I have received information from the Road Safety Authority, RSA, in response to a parliamentary question. The RSA has said that nationally, a total of 44,746 applicants are waiting to be scheduled for a driver test. This concerns the addendum of the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross, to the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2017. He has added a provision affecting learner drivers. The figures go to the heart of what I and others in the Rural Independent Group have been saying for some time. There is a huge delay in getting tests. Are we going to penalise learner drivers, put them off the road and confiscate their cars as well? It is deeply alarming that the number of almost 45,000 does not include those already scheduled for a test. The Minister should get his house in order before he tries to rush through legislation that is unenforceable as far as I am concerned, and as the people of the country know. In Tipperary alone, 1,700 people are waiting for a test. After failing the test, one cannot get a retest for a month. The Minister is criminalising ordinary families, ordinary people who want to learn to drive to go to college or work. He is now threatening to have their parents locked up. Someone needs to rein him in and teach him something about rural Ireland.

I am not quite sure what the Deputy's question is.

I am asking about the number of people waiting for driver tests. The Minister, Deputy Ross, is trying to take all drivers with an L-plate off the road and lock up their parents if necessary.

Why is the Deputy raising the Road Traffic (Amendment) Bill 2017, which he has tried to stall and delay as much as he can in this House?

Is the Tánaiste not up to speed with the Minister, Deputy Ross? Are they talking at all? Are they in the same Cabinet?

I will ask the Minister to come back with an accurate response regarding driver testing.

That is a very good idea.

I thought the Tánaiste was looking after rural Ireland.

RTÉ has drawn up a new draft strategy for the future of public broadcasting, but unfortunately it does not have any budget certainty on how it can afford it. There is now talk that the sports department might get the coverage rights for the Cork Constitution FC under-15 B team if it is lucky, and it is the same across the rest of the organisation.

As I understand it, the broadcasting (amendment) Bill is ready to come back to the Dáil. There was also a major report from the Oireachtas joint committee, which has been presented to the House, and it advocated a range of measures that would give not just RTÉ but all Irish media, including print, access to an additional fund of perhaps €50 million to try to get them through the present crisis.

I thank the Deputy.

Is there any urgency on the part of the Government to advance such legislation to properly fund Irish media? When does the Tánaiste expect the Bill to come back to the House? When will the Government decide on the issue or will it be stuck in limbo with the RTÉ strategy and the future of media in Ireland?

The work done by the Oireachtas committee in this area is very helpful. The Bill has been through a pre-legislative scrutiny process and I am told it will be drafted and published before the end of this term. We are anxious to move on with it.

There is a very serious situation in University Hospital Kerry. I refer to the commitments in the programme for Government on health care. I wish to highlight the situation with regard to a very respected, highly regarded cardiologist working in the hospital whose time is now, unfortunately, coming to an end, which will be a massive loss to the hospital. What commitment will the HSE south give to the hospital in Kerry on cardiology, geriatric or respiratory issues? We are in a dire way in those three health care categories. We cannot allow a situation whereby the excellent service that was being given by the cardiologist will no longer be available. Acute patients on wards need treatment every day. Multiple clinics are being held every week and people are being referred to Limerick for angiograms. What will happen if the cardiologist who has given excellent care is now going to be taken away from the hospital? What commitments will the Government give to the future of University Hospital Kerry?

Deputy Healy-Rae is over time.

We do not want to be the poor relation to Cork in this regard.

Other people will not get in.

I can only assume that if a cardiologist is leaving, he or she will be replaced quickly and that the process will get under way. I will ask the Minister for Health to get back to Deputy Healy-Rae with a specific answer.

There is a commitment in the programme for Government to support young couples and families to purchase their own homes and to provide affordable housing. At the moment NAMA has thousands of sites right across the country. There is a development in west Dublin involving 180 houses that are supposed to be affordable homes. NAMA is selling the sites to the builder, which is fine and he is paying NAMA as the houses are sold. Unfortunately, every one of the houses has been purchased by a vulture fund. Young people and couples are not even getting a chance to purchase the houses. The vulture funds are renting the houses for €2,200 per month. I imagine that after some years the houses will be sold on with massive profits to those people.

There are NAMA sites all over the country. In 1947 the Government of the day built 58 houses in my home town and those good, solid structures are still standing. More than 1,000 houses were built at the time in Sligo. That was done after the war when people were on their knees. Unless the Government starts to build houses for people they will be caught in the rental trap for the rest of their lives.

NAMA has made thousands of properties available to local authorities around the country for social housing. However, not all such properties are suitable for social housing. The local authorities, working with the Housing Agency, will make the call on the properties that are offered. A significant number of houses have come from NAMA into the public or local housing system. In addition, we announced three separate affordability measures at the beginning of the year which are helping young couples and individuals to get new homes, which will happen as those homes are built over the course of this year, next year and the following year. Deputy Scanlon can send me a note on the particular scheme he is talking about and while NAMA does not come under the remit of my Department, I will raise the issue with it.

Page 129 of the programme for Government states: "We will introduce a voluntary property relocation scheme for properties, including businesses, affected by repeat flooding, based on a similar 2009 scheme." In December 2015 and January 2016 the sum of €2 million was allocated to the scheme. A total of 101 houses fit the criteria. To date, my understanding is that not one house has been relocated. That is absolutely scandalous. The Taoiseach can put €6 million into a communications unit but nothing is being done for the poor people for whom I make a case week in, week out in this Chamber. When are we going to look after those people who are affected by repeat flooding? They have been neglected year after year and it is about time the scheme was brought to a conclusion so that they can get some peace in their lives.

I remember being involved when the decision on a relocation scheme was made. We have an incredibly hands-on Minister with responsibility for flooding, namely, the Minister of State, Deputy Moran. My understanding is that he will make a statement on the issue in the coming weeks but I will ask him to get back to the Deputy directly in terms of where the scheme is at. I assure him that this is not something from which the Government will resile. We will follow through on any commitments that have been made to people on relocation due to flooding.

When Carillion collapsed in January five schools and one college of further education were left in real uncertainty. Two of the schools are in my constituency of Wicklow. The Minister for Education and Skills came into the House and informed it that there would be no delays whatsoever in resolving the issue, other than perhaps a week or two. However, it is now March and there is still total uncertainty. Last week the National Development Finance Agency, NDFA, briefed the principals of the schools as well as some Deputies, and outlined the public tendering process that is in place. The closing date for tenders is 5 April. It is now anticipated that work will not recommence on those schools until late June and possibly July. Two of the schools are complete but given the timeframe outlined it is a reasonable expectation that they will remain completely closed until September at the earliest.

I thank the Deputy. His time is up.

Why will the Government not intervene in this sad saga and will there be a complete review of the use of public private partnerships for essential public works such as schools?

Local knowledge on the Front Bench indicates that Coláiste Ráithín, which is one of the schools in Wicklow, should be ready by early summer. Efforts are being made to make sure the schools get the supports they need given what has happened in terms of financial uncertainty. The best course of action would probably be for the Deputy to table a parliamentary question to the Minister for Education and Skills, Deputy Bruton, to get an accurate response.

From 9 April 2018, which is only a few weeks away, one must have a public services card in order to renew one's driver licence. One must arrange an appointment with the social welfare office in order to get the card. That will be an impossibility for people in places such as Glencar, Sneem, Castlecove, Lauragh and Tuosist. We are told that to get a public services card one must have a current driver's licence or passport or else one can get it otherwise online. The trouble is that in the places I have mentioned there is no line other than a clothes line. It is a fact that there is no broadband. It is a day's work to leave Glencar or Sneem and go to Kenmare, and one must have an appointment arranged. It is absolutely ridiculous. Heretofore, the Garda could give one an ML10 form-----

We are out of time so we will try to get an answer for the Deputy.

-----and that would have been accepted. Will the Tánaiste extend the deadline of 9 April 2018 to allow people more time to get their public services card?

I thank the Deputy.

Otherwise, the Government will have to send mobile units around the county of Kerry so that people can get their public services card or else they will not get a driver licence.

Freagair an cheist.

I need to consider the deadline and the significance of it.

The thinking behind a public services card is to make sure we make accessing services easier for people, not more difficult. Once people go to the trouble of getting the public services card, which I know for some may involve travelling, it will allow them access multiple services across the State, including getting passports renewed, driver licences and so on. It is in the interest of everybody to get a public services card so that they can fast-track their application for the other services they seek.

Regarding the deadline the Deputy referred to, I will come back to him on that.

The next thing is we will be putting tags on people's ears like the cattle.