That Dáil Éireann approve the nomination of Deputy Joe McHugh for appointment by the President to be a member of the Government.
Pursuant to section 4(1) of the Ministers and Secretaries Amendment Act 1946, I have assigned the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment to Deputy Richard Bruton of Dublin Bay North.
I now request that the nomination of Deputy Joe McHugh of the Donegal constituency be approved. Following his appointment, I propose to assign to him the Department of Education and Skills.
I also inform the House of my intention to appoint Deputy Seán Kyne to become Government Chief Whip and Minister of State with responsibility for Gaeilge, Gaeltacht and the islands, and Deputy Seán Canney to become Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment. It is, I hope, a proud day for all of them and for their families and supporters.
Deputy Joe McHugh will build on the work of the Minister, Deputy Bruton, in the Department of Education and Skills, a Department in which we will invest almost €11 billion next year. This reflects the country’s changing demographics and our belief in the importance of education in changing lives. This year we will have the lowest pupil-teacher ratio ever in our primary schools and more people from non-traditional backgrounds making it to third level education than ever before. We have record levels of support for students with special needs and new schools are being built, refurbished and extended all over the country. One of his predecessors as Minister for Education, Gemma Hussey, spoke eloquently in this Chamber about the need to have more confidence in our future. Our ambitions for education show that we too have confidence in the future, we are prepared to invest in it and we are prepared to grasp the opportunities before us.
In his new role, the Minister, Deputy Bruton, will take the lead on broadband and work to secure the national broadband plan. When we came to office in 2016, only 52% of premises in Ireland had access to high-speed broadband and today it is 75%. Despite the events of recent days, we will not be sidetracked from our mission of providing high speed broadband to 500,000 rural homes, bringing that figure to 100%. The Minister will also take the lead on climate action, one of the greatest challenges facing our planet. Under Project Ireland 2040, we will make an unprecedented investment of €22 billion in climate action over the next decade to modernise our infrastructure and decarbonise our economy. During this time, we will seek a political consensus on carbon tax and act with a long-term vision in a fair way.
Deputy Seán Kyne, who takes over as Minister of State with responsibility for Gaeilge, Gaeltacht and the islands and also as Government Chief Whip, will have a pivotal role to play as we deal with the challenges of this new parliamentary session and the tight parliamentary arithmetic. I have every confidence in his ability to do so.
Deputy Seán Canney, who replaces him as Minister of State with responsibility for rural affairs and natural resources, will have responsibility for a broad range of issues across two Departments and will bring the same skill and ability as he did to his previous role in government and the OPW.
With these new appointments, we reaffirm the mission of this Government to bring Ireland forward and build on the achievements of the past few years. We recognise that problems persist. We are aware of the scale of the challenges we face. We have plans that are working and making real progress.
Is céim mhór í ceapachán Aire nua i saol a chlann agus a chairde. Déanaim comhghairdeas leis an Teachta Joe McHugh atá ceaptha ina Aire Oideachais agus Scileanna agus táim cinnte go ndéanfaidh sé togha le dul chun cinn a mbainfidh ár muintir bród as. Déanaim comhghairdeas leis na hAirí Stáit, na Teachtaí Seán Canney agus Seán Kyne, freisin agus leis an Teachta Richard Bruton as a cheapachán nua. Go n-éirí an t-ádh leo. Molaim na ceapacháin seo don Teach. I commend these appointments to the House.