An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business

Today’s business shall be Nos. 13 and 14, motions re appointment of Mr. Paul Mageean and Dr. Vicky Conway to the Policing Authority; No. 9, Criminal Justice (Mutual Recognition of Probation Judgments and Decisions) Bill 2018 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage; and No. 10, Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2018 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage. Private Members' business shall be No. 207, motion re national broadband plan, selected by the Social Democrats-Green Party group.

Wednesday’s business shall be No. 2, Local Government Bill 2018 - amendments from the Seanad; No. 9, Criminal Justice (Mutual Recognition of Probation Judgments and Decisions) Bill 2018 - Second Stage, resumed; and No. 10, Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2018 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage. Private Members’ business shall be No. 1, Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 [Seanad] - Second Stage, selected by Fianna Fáil.

Thursday’s business shall be No. 34, statements re directly elected mayors; No. 9, Criminal Justice (Mutual Recognition of Probation Judgments and Decisions) Bill 2018 - Second Stage, resumed; and No. 10, Residential Tenancies (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2018 - Order for Second Stage and Second Stage. Private Members’ business shall be No. 15, motion re the report of the Joint Committee on Education and Skills on training and supports for providers of special needs education and education in DEIS schools.

I refer to the report of the Business Committee, dated 17 January 2019. In relation to today’s business, it is proposed that Nos. 13 and 14, motions re appointment of Mr. Paul Mageean and Dr. Vicky Conway to the Policing Authority, will be taken sequentially and without debate.

In relation to Wednesday’s business, it is proposed that:

(1) there shall be no oral Taoiseach’s Questions and the sos, in accordance with Standing Order 25(1), shall take place on the conclusion of Questions on Promised Legislation; and

(2) Second Stage of No. 1, Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 [Seanad], shall be brought to a conclusion within two hours.

In relation to Thursday’s business, regarding No. 34, statements re directly elected mayors, it is proposed that the statements of a Minister or Minister of State and the main spokespersons for parties or groups, or a Member nominated in their stead, shall not exceed ten minutes each, with five minutes for all other Members and a five-minute response from a Minister or Minister of State. All Members may share time.

There are three proposals to put to the House. Is the proposal for dealing with Tuesday's business agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Wednesday's business agreed to? Agreed. Is the proposal for dealing with Thursday's business agreed to? Agreed.

We move on to questions on the Order of Business.

I remind the House that this time is allocated for questions on the Order of Business or promised legislation. It is not for statements. At the outset I indicated that I had a list from Thursday and I will offer to those Members first. I have another list from today. The first Member from Thursday is Deputy Danny Healy-Rae. I remind Members that this is for questions on the Order of Business-----

Is it not leaders first?

I am sorry, that is correct. It is leaders first. My apologies.

I am a leader too.

I am a leader as well.

A Deputy

You are all leaders over there.

It was worth a chance. I invite Deputy Micheál Martin.

On the Gender Recognition (Amendment) Bill, I understand that the "Prime Time" special programme this evening will outline the challenges faced by our transgender community in Ireland. This Bill would amend the Gender Recognition Act 2015 to provide a right to self-determination for persons who have reached the age of 16 years, introduce the right to legal gender recognition for persons under the age of 16, and ensure consideration of the status of non-binary persons in Irish law. I understand that all Stages of this Bill went through Seanad Éireann in March 2017, which is nearly two years ago. It is very important to all involved and to their families. Will the Taoiseach indicate when the Bill might be before this House so it can proceed through all Stages?

I call the Minister, Deputy Regina Doherty.

I must be honest with the Deputy that I am at a loss in this regard because neither I nor my predecessor in the Department brought any legislation through the Seanad. It may have been a Private Members' Bill so I cannot give the Deputy an answer on that. I can say that we have conducted an independent review of the 2015 legislation and a report was given to me a number of months ago that outlined a number of recommendations. That report was given to the Attorney General for his legal advice. I have not yet received that legal advice back. I genuinely hope that the Deputy is correct that the RTÉ "Prime Time" programme this evening will discuss the difficulties, the discrimination and the marginalisation of our trans children.

I want to return to the issue of the mother and baby homes. I understand that the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Deputy Zappone, brought a memo to Cabinet today. As has been articulated, the wrongs of these mother and baby homes are accepted by everyone in this House. I believe we all recognise that many of the victims and survivors are elderly and in ill health. In 2016, the commission said in its second interim report that children who had been resident at the Bethany Home and at other county and mother and baby homes should be eligible for the residential institutions redress scheme. This, however, has not happened. Derek Leinster has described the refusal to extend redress to those survivors until the commission concludes its final report, which will now be 2020, as a delay and deny until they die approach.

I ask the Deputy to put a question.

It is hard to disagree with that analysis. I put it to the Taoiseach that survivors of the Bethany Home and Westbank Orphanage have a particular issue in that they feel and believe their exclusion was, to some extent, sectarian in nature because these were Protestant institutions. That needs to be fixed. Why will the Taoiseach not embrace the survivors of the Bethany Home and why will he not now immediately extend to them the existing redress scheme?

I will address that question. On the Government's decision with regard to the Bethany Home survivors and the commission's recommendation, it is correct that the other Governments made decisions not to include the Bethany Home survivors in the original redress scheme. This Government confirmed and agreed with that even though the commission recommended it should be considered to be included in the scheme. We reviewed it and, along with other previous Governments, did not agree with that.

It is important to say that the Bethany Home is included in the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes. When the commission reports, it will include that home.

On the response to the Bethany Home survivors, and I believe the Taoiseach has referred to this, I established an independent, collaborative forum of representative stakeholders to offer recommendations on health and well-being supports, especially with regard to concerns for the Bethany Home survivors. That report is now with me.

The programme for Government pledges support for credit unions. A key issue for credit unions is the development of a special purpose vehicle, SPV, to allow them to invest some of the €17 billion in assets in lending for social housing which is urgently needed. Apparently, this long promised special vehicle should be ready by the first quarter of this year. It was previously promised for the third quarter of last year. It is not clear whether the SPV, when introduced, will be compliant with the regulator's requirements for banks? Will the Government confirm that the Central Bank has approved credit union lending through the SPV and will lending by credit unions to the SPV be on or off balance sheet?

The changes made by the Central Bank have allowed for the investment of the resources of credit unions in the SPV. The SPV model is being worked on by the Irish Council of Social Housing and grant-aided by the Department in conjunction with the credit union movement. We had hoped to complete the work in December. The Government cannot-----

It is very hard to hear the Minister of State.

I apologise. The Government cannot do it; it must be done independently. We expect the work to be completed in the next month or two. It is one SPV available to the credit unions; there is already a mechanism available to them, namely, the Credit Union Development Authority, CUDA, which is available for the purpose of investing in social housing.

I want to correct the order. When I asked my question about the Gender Recognition Bill 2015, the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Deputy Regina Doherty, indicated that she had no idea what I was talking about. It is on the legislative schedule.

Are Members allowed to speak a second time?

I want to correct the record of the House.

I was just asking.

The Deputy will have an opportunity to speak.

It is a Government Bill which appears on page 6 of the legislative programme. Its purpose is to implement recommendations contained in the report to the Oireachtas on the review of the Gender Recognition Act 2015. Work is under way on its status; it was only published two weeks ago.

We will allow for clarification.

The Minister said she had no idea what I was talking about.

The Deputy brought up a Sinn Féin Private Members' Bill that had been raised in the Seanad.

I did not bring it up. I said it was the 2015 Bill.

The Deputy referred to a Bill that had been brought through the Seanad in 2017. I said I had no knowledge of it because I was not involved in it.

Clearly, the Minister has no knowledge of her own legislation either.

Given that the legislation has not yet been drafted, it is difficult to know what is included in it. Does the Deputy not agree?

There is no need to be so-----

I believe the Deputy is wrong and it would not be the first time.

On a point of order, Deputy Micheál Martin asked a legitimate question. He is an Opposition Member and asked a question of the Government.

The question was put to the Taoiseach who delegated-----

He was given a wholly inadequate answer.


It is a point of clarification rather than order. The question was put to the Taoiseach who delegated to the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Deputy Regina Doherty. Clarification has, I hope, been provided.

I apologise if I directed the question to the wrong Minister.

The Minister for Justice and Equality is here, too.

The matter will have to be clarified on another occasion.

I look forward to being allowed as much rope on the issue I want to discuss. Yesterday we celebrated the foundation of the State. We were all present. The Constitution allows for freedom of association and the right to join a trade union of choice. It is enshrined in the Constitution as a fundamental right. We have statements on laws about unions, but I wonder what the attitude of the Taoiseach is to the matter, considering the celebration of the foundation of the State, what is included in the Constitution and the fact that there are 500 paramedics and ambulance personnel on picket lines today who are fighting for their right to join the union of their choice. Is there not a fundamental contradiction between the rights enshrined in the Constitutions and the laws that are absent from this parliament? What does the Taoiseach intend to do to address the void?

Given that hundreds of paramedics and ambulance personnel have been forced out onto cold picket lines today, who, by a 98% vote, have chosen to join the National Ambulance Staff Representative Association, NASRA, will the Taoiseach instruct the HSE to deal with the union?

There are two essential issues here. One is that it is not about what the boss or employer wants. It is meant to be about which union the worker chooses to represent him or her. Second, the Taoiseach cannot go around bragging about being the best performing economy in Europe and finding €500 million in extra corporation tax, but then telling workers that they must put up with pay restraint and health cuts. This week it is health workers. Next week it will be nurses.

Deputy Coppinger, be reasonable now.

The Taoiseach has to give in.

Deputy Cullinane has a similar brief question.

Why are the Government and the HSE allowing a situation whereby ambulance paramedics are being dictated to as to which trade union they should be members of? A person is entitled legally in this State to join a trade union of his or her choice. Yet, in this situation, ambulance paramedics are on strike because the HSE will not recognise the trade union to which they belong. That has a consequence for patients, who are without full ambulance cover because of the position the Government and the HSE seem to be supporting. The Taoiseach needs to act on this quickly.

Let the Taoiseach answer, Deputy Cullinane. Deputy Pearse Doherty has a similar question.

It is on the same issue. The Taoiseach told us he was going to take a special interest on the issue of health. This morning I sent solidarity messages to the workers, the paramedics and ambulance personnel, who are on strike demanding union recognition of their choice. What personal interest did the Taoiseach take in this issue? The HSE is simply refusing to deal with the issue. The HSE is simply refusing to meet NASRA to discuss contingency planning.

In the middle of all this are patients, especially in rural and isolated communities, who are fearful that if something does happen, the service would not be there. This is happening on the Taoiseach's watch. Those responsible have warned the Taoiseach they will escalate unless this is dealt with. The Taoiseach should take an interest and sort this out.

Deputy Pat Buckley wishes to speak on the same issue. I think this has got a fair airing. Please respect the limit of 30 seconds, Deputy Buckley.

Today, more than 500 paramedics and ambulance staff have gone on strike over the row with union recognition. This is the real story. I listened to one paramedic this morning on Cork's 96FM. She clearly stated that the workers did not want to go on strike. More important, she said that while she and many others love their jobs and what they do, they had no choice. She continued by saying it should be the right of all workers to nominate the trade union of their choice to represent them in negotiations for wages and, more important, working conditions.

We have got the question.

If we cannot get the HSE to work with NASRA and the Psychiatric Nurses Association, then we will face more strikes. The knock-on effect of this will be absolutely atrocious.

The Taoiseach to respond.

Let us think about this. These people love what they do but we are not giving them proper representation or even a choice.

This has been well aired. The Taoiseach to respond.

As I understand it, any worker, even someone who is not in employment, is free to join a trade union if he or she so wishes. However, it is not a requirement that any employer, whether a public employer or a private employer, has to collect the union dues on behalf of that union and nor is it a requirement that the employer necessarily recognise that union.

That was not the question.

As things stand, the HSE recognises three unions already that represent paramedics and ambulance staff. They are all unions affiliated to ICTU. The Government engages with the union movement through ICTU.

Is the Taoiseach saying he only deals with ICTU?

Sorry, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, on a point of information-----

On a point of information, there is recognition for non-ICTU unions and the Taoiseach knows that.

No, Deputy. I do not need it. I have given it a fair airing.


We are now going to the Rural Independent Group.


Deputies, you might not like what you have heard, but the Taoiseach has answered.

What the Taoiseach has said is factually incorrect.

Deputy Mattie McGrath is next.

A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, can we ask him if he is going to instruct the HSE to recognise this union or not?

Is it not remarkable how so many Deputies can ask a question but they will not permit an answer?

The Taoiseach has answered. I have no control over the Taoiseach's answers. Deputy Mattie McGrath is next.


The Taoiseach is refusing to answer. This is the State, not a private employer.

I have no control over the Taoiseach.

It was not chosen as a Topical Issue matter.

Deputy Mattie McGrath is next. I have no control. You will have to find another means, Deputy.

Can we hear the answer? The Taoiseach has said he wants to answer.

He wants to answer.

A Leas Cheann Comhairle, this is outrageous. The same thing happened last week.

We put this in as a Topical Issue matter but it was not chosen.

Resume your seat, Deputy Coppinger.

Ambulances are not working but it has not been chosen as a Topical Issue matter.

I have no control over the Taoiseach's answers. That is the precedent.

The Taoiseach has said he wants to answer.

Deputy, you will have to find another way.


A total of five Members have put the question. The Taoiseach should respond and show some respect.

Deputy Cullinane, you are here long enough to know that I have no control.

On a point of order, the Taoiseach was interrupted because of the non-factual and inaccurate information given on the floor of the House and he was corrected by Deputy O'Reilly.

The Taoiseach should answer the question. When will he take a personal interest in this issue and lift the fear among patients throughout the country about this strike?

I call Deputy Mattie McGrath.

Will the Leas-Cheann Comhairle please let the Taoiseach answer? Will he give him 30 seconds to answer?

I ask Deputy Coppinger to accept that I have no control over the Taoiseach's response.

There are no ambulances. Does the Taoiseach not believe this is important?

The Army is being called in and the Taoiseach is holding up his hands.

I am not depriving him of an answer.

Will the Leas-Cheann Comhairle please offer the Taoiseach a chance to respond?

If I am allowed, I will reply.

I will give the Taoiseach that opportunity. I am limiting him to one minute.

We will stay very quiet.

I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle. First, there are ambulances. The majority of paramedics and ambulance staff in the National Ambulance Service are working today. They are represented by three unions which are recognised by the HSE, namely, SIPTU, Unite, and Fórsa. Anyone is free to join a breakaway union if they wish but there is no requirement that a public or private sector employer must collect those union dues. Unions may collect dues themselves-----

The issue is not about dues.

It is about negotiation.

It is about union recognition. That is staggering.

Let the Taoiseach finish.

It is not a requirement that employers must recognise every union of which someone is a member. The employer already recognises three unions, namely, Unite, SIPTU and Fórsa.

The Taoiseach has said all that already.

The Taoiseach just said that.

The Taoiseach has not given any additional information.

Therefore the Government is deciding not to recognise the union. This is what the State is choosing.

The workers are being denied their constitutional rights.

This is outrageous.

I have given all the Deputies an opportunity. I cannot be responsible for the Taoiseach's response.

The Taoiseach did not answer my question.

They want their own Dáil.

I call Deputy Mattie McGrath.

I thank the Leas-Cheann Comhairle. It is no wonder that the Government does not have the funds to pay the ambulance drivers or the nurses. In 2017, the Rural Independent Group and I put a motion before the Dáil relating to the site for the national children's hospital. We listened to Connolly for Kids, Dr. Finn Breathnach, Jonathan Irwin of the Jack and Jill Foundation, and Dr. Róisín Healy. It was magnificent. These people pointed out clearly to everyone here, not only to us, that the hospital was to be built on the wrong site, that it could not be delivered because of access and that there was no helipad. They gave a plethora of reasons. Is the Government going to persist with this total waste of money? Why not abandon the project which is not out of the ground yet, but go out instead to a greenfield site in Blanchardstown which the Government could have had for nothing, which is accessible to all the people of rural Ireland and to helicopters and so on?

The Taoiseach will answer.

This is a farce. It is draining dry all the other projects in the HSE.

Where is the accountability 100 years on? There is no accountability.

The Deputy should finish.

We were warned, yet of Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin or the Labour Party, not one of them backed us.

The Taoiseach to respond.

All the facts and figures were there to say that it could not be built.

The Taoiseach shall endeavour to answer. The Deputy should remember that there are other Deputies coming behind him.

It can and will be delivered. It is already under construction. The outpatient and urgent care centre in Blanchardstown is almost finished.

There is no co-location.

Construction in Tallaght will begin in the next couple of months.

It is all poppycock.

It was never in contention that it would be cheaper to build on a greenfield site. A decision was taken to trilocate, to locate it with a major adult hospital-----

It is a rotten decision.

-----an academic research centre and the National Maternity Hospital. It was never in contention that it would be cheaper to locate it on a greenfield site.

The last of the group leaders is Deputy Eamon Ryan.

I am very interested to know the Government's intention regarding a referendum on Article 41.2 of the Constitution following the joint committee recommendations that there be a proper public consultation on how we give real recognition to carers in our home. What is the Government's timeline? What consultation mechanism does it intend to use? What is its plan for a referendum and legislation?

It is under consideration in accordance with the Government's programme for several referendums. I expect to bring a memorandum to Government with firm proposals within the next two weeks.

I now revert to the list of Deputies from last Thursday, the first of whom was Deputy Danny Healy-Rae. He is very well aware of questions on the Order of Business, so let us be precise.

As a result of the passing of the Bill of the Minister, Deputy Ross, the people of rural Ireland throughout the country are angry and frustrated. As a result, Ministers are complaining about Garda checkpoints. I remind them that it was they and the Minister who voted for this Bill, as did Sinn Féin, while no member of Fianna Fáil voted against the Bill. Here they are now, complaining about gardaí stopping people, when it was these Deputies who put the Bill in place.

The Minister of State, Deputy Griffin; the Minister, Deputy Heydon; the Minister, Deputy Ross, and all other Ministers promised transport services for the people of rural Ireland, but they are fudging and do not know whether they will provide them. Will the Government provide the transport services it promised to provide? People living in rural Ireland do not have the transport services at night or in the morning that people living in urban areas do. The Government will have to rectify the position.

The Deputy cannot expand on the matter now. We have the question.

The Government had no regard to rural proofing when it introduced the legislation, voted for the Minister, Deputy Ross, and let the people of rural Ireland go to hell. That is what it did.

Listen, Deputy. It was a simple question to ask the Minister what he was going to do that could have been put on the back of a stamp.

The Taoiseach is laughing. It is no laughing matter.

I will call the Minister of State, Deputy Griffin. As we are all intelligent people, Deputy Danny Healy-Rae did not have to expand on his question.

I am sure Deputy Heydon will be delighted with his promotion by the Deputy to Minister. Obviously, this is a critical issue and I will refer first to the road fatality figures for 2018, which show that 149 people lost their lives on the roads. It was 149 too many, but it would be remiss of me not to mention that it was the lowest figure since records began in 1959. We need to work harder to reduce the figure even further, but it is a step in the right direction. I have no doubt that the legislative changes, both the most recent and previous ones, have had an impact. Let us not forget that in the 1970s more than 600 people lost their lives on the roads in various years.

People are now locked into their homes.

At the time people objected to initiatives such as the wearing of seat belts. However, times have changed and thankfully the numbers have come down, but we need to get them down further.

The Government is closing down rural Ireland.

After this session of questions on promised legislation-----

The Government is out of touch with what it has done to the people of rural Ireland.

-----we will have a meeting of-----

The Government is completely out of touch. It is playing to the gallery-----

I call Deputy Murphy O'Mahony.

-----while criticising the Garda about the number of checkpoints that it organised.

I am sorry, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, but is this a parliament or a circus?

I may have to ask Deputy Danny Healy-Rae to leave the House. He cannot continue in that way.

Let the Minister of State answer the question.

If a speaker is not allowed to respond, it is very much a circus. Obviously, it is not the Parliament in the eyes of some.

If a speaker is not allowed to give a response-----

The Government is playing to the gallery.

-----what do we have?

It is an attack on our democracy when the Deputy will not allow a speaker to respond to a question.

The Minister of State should answer it.

It is the Government that is attacking democracy. Its members were giving out about the Garda over the number of checks.

The Deputy is attacking our democracy. He will not allow a response to be given.

It was Government members who were giving out about the Garda.


I ask Deputy Danny Healy-Rae to restrain himself.

May I respond, please, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle?

I am sorry, but I am in the Chair. I ask Deputy Danny Healy-Rae to restrain himself. There was a simple question to the Minister of State and I want a simple answer to it.

The Leas-Cheann Comhairle will get the answer-----

No, I am not getting it.

-----if I am allowed to speak, without interruption.

The Minister of State cannot answer it.

He has no answer to it because the Government is blackguarding the people of rural Ireland.

You are not on the side of a mountain in south Kerry now but inside the national Parliament. Will you, please, show some respect for it?

I will ask Deputy Danny Healy-Rae to leave the House.

Of your own accord.

There are children watching from the Visitors Gallery.

There is a meeting of the ministerial and management boards after this session of questions on promised legislation. We will be discussing rural transport initiatives such as Rural Link which has been extended. I assure the Deputy that, as a rural dweller, this is something about which I am passionate.

The Minister of State has had his time. I call Deputy Murphy O'Mahony.

We are taking a number of measures to try to address the issue.

The Minister of State is not passionate enough about the people of rural Ireland.

Please, there are others in the House, apart from Kerry Deputies and Ministers of State.

This is not the Fitzgerald Stadium but Dáil Éireann.

I will direct my question at the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan. Will he provide an up-to-date progress report on the provision of the protective services unit due to be provided in Bandon? I was promised that it would be up and running by the end of 2017. That became 2018 and now one month into 2019 I still do not have a date. When he visits Cork South-West, will the Minister meet the West Cork Women Against Violence Project to discuss this important issue?

I call Deputy Aindrias Moynihan to raise the same issue. He is on the A list.

The west Cork Garda division covers a large area from the sea to the N72 which includes Millstreet, Macroom and even communities in east Kerry. The specialist protective services unit was part of the division's policing plan. The Garda is keen to put it in place to serve the communities of west and north-west Cork. When I asked the Minister about the domestic violence unit before Christmas, he told me that the Garda had examined a number of buildings but that no progress had been made.

A question, please.

When will the decision be made? Why are there further delays? Will the Minister accelerate the decision in order that the communities of north and west Cork can be served?

I am keen to ensure progress is made on the issue.

I do not have a start date with me but I would be happy to communicate by way of giving an update to both Deputies in writing within the next 48 hours. I am keen that progress be reported. I intend visiting Cork South-West and would be happy to share my programme with the Deputies.

Deputy Eugene Murphy has been on the list since Thursday last, if the Deputy has a question.

I refer to the programme for Government which on jobs and development states "as the economy recovers it is essential that the new Government, together with the Oireachtas, puts in place measures to revitalise all of Ireland so that the benefits are felt inside every doorstep and in every community", a clear recognition that equality does not exist for all throughout the country. I revert to the good announcements of 1,500 jobs, plus 1,000 extra for Dublin. What will the Taoiseach do to bring jobs to my county? While I anticipate the Taoiseach will state in his reply that unemployment is down in the Roscommon-Galway constituency-----

-----no jobs are being created in towns such as Ballaghaderreen, Strokestown, Roscommon town and Boyle. All that part of the county is getting no employment from Government. What will the Taoiseach do about employment? Broadband comes into the loop as well. These are serious issues in my part of the country.

The Deputy is quite correct. Unemployment has fallen and employment has risen in every county over the past couple of years but we need to do more to ensure that all parts of the country share in our prosperity and join in the economic growth that is happening. The kind of actions we are taking include investing in infrastructure and in education, as well as making places more attractive for investment. Over the next couple of weeks, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Humphreys, will be travelling to each region of the country with the Action Plan for Jobs for each region to reinvigorate that and make sure that there is employment growth in all parts of Ireland. The Deputy will be aware, from the IDA Ireland figures published a few weeks ago, that more than half of the jobs created in Ireland last year were created outside of Dublin. However, I appreciate there are some counties in Ireland, particularly in the north west, that have not done as well as they should have and that is why we need to focus on them in particular.

I am still on last Thursday's list and call Deputy Niamh Smyth.

In the programme for Government, the Taoiseach gave a commitment to providing healthcare for those with disabilities. I want to tell him about nine year old Millie in Kingscourt, County Cavan. Nine year old Millie has autism and is non-verbal. At nine years of age, she has achieved almost no speech and language therapy. When I put questions to the HSE, the response I got was that while it cannot definitely say that Millie can be seen, her review appointment was scheduled last February, which would have been 2018, and therefore she will be a priority. On further investigation of what I would call a travesty for a child who is non-verbal and nine years of age, the relevant post has been left vacant for a whole year and there is a question to be answered in this regard. Can the Taoiseach tell me, and Millie's parents who perhaps are listening in today, what he will do to ensure there is a service in place for those such as Millie who are non-verbal and cannot access speech and language therapy?

I am sorry to hear about the case the Deputy raises. Obviously, I have no access to information about individual clients.

But, in general, there is no service.

We are increasing the number of speech and language therapists, and therapists in general, by 100 this year and implementing a new programme of having speech and language therapy in schools.

The next three are Deputies Brassil, Fitzpatrick and Martin Kenny. I must cut it at that. I have no choice.

In November, I raised an issue of the new guidelines for wind farm development and the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, gave me a commitment they would be published for public consultation early in the new year. I consider that it is now early in the new year and ask whether the Minister can give me a definitive date on which they will go to public consultation.

I thank Deputy Brassil for the question. The reason for the delay is because the World Health Organization, WHO, revised the noise aspects of the guidelines last year. As a result, the EU decided to implement them in a directive that was issued only in October of last year and we thought it prudent to put them into the guidelines that we were putting out to public consultation. The public consultation will now happen this year. It will happen in the next couple of weeks and last for a short enough period. We should have those guidelines in force by the end of the first half of this year.

Over the past 12 months, I have asked this question of the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, and the Minister, Deputy Eoghan Murphy. In fairness, the Minister of State, Deputy English, is doing a big job on it. Local needs have been in the guidelines since 2005. The EU has taken Ireland to court over the way it has conducted itself. I believe, in 2016, the Government informed the EU that it would review the local needs situation. Many people in this country want to live in rural areas and, because of these local needs provisions, they are being deprived.

I thank the Deputy. We got the question.

All the local authorities-----

The clock is relevant.

-----are making their own decisions. This is a national matter.

The Minister is an intelligent man. He knows what the Deputy is saying and he will answer.

I would appreciate if the Minister of State, Deputy English, could answer the question.

The Minister will answer the question.

The 2005 guidelines are being reviewed off the back of the Flemish Decree. We have a working group in the Department. It is working with the Commission as well and taking guidance from it. We incorporated some of the thinking into the national planning framework, which is now in law. There was a meeting, I believe last week, of the review group that is looking at how we will review the guidelines and when these are reviewed, they will be communicated to local authorities as appropriate.

As the Taoiseach will be aware, there is a considerable problem in regard to recruitment and retention in the health services. In the past week or so, I was contacted by a family who have a child with autism who really need help. The child and adolescent mental health services, CAMHS, are dealing with them but they have not got a school-age psychologist, or even a school-age psychology team, in place in the Sligo-Leitrim area. It is the same in many areas. The family wanted to know whether the child could go to another area to get the assessment the child badly needs in order to get services. They are told "No", but yet there is no service available where they are. This is an issue not only in my area or constituency but in every constituency. While efforts are being made to recruit staff and to try to resolve the situation, the problem has reached emergency proportions for many of these families. This mother told me about her child having violent episodes, having meltdowns and having significant problems. This family is at its wit's end as to what to do. The parents are lying awake at night watching their child and worrying something will happen, and yet the answer they get is an apology that there is no service.

There will be no time for the Taoiseach to respond.

In this day and age, it is not good enough.

I understand next week there will be a debate on CAMHS, which will provide an opportunity to air some of these issues. We have hired additional psychologists. We hired additional assistant psychologists as well in the past couple of years. We are recruiting. However, there is an Irish and international shortage of healthcare professionals, even in countries that pay far more than we can ever afford, such as Middle Eastern countries. That is something we need to bear in mind in how we design our services to make sure that they are prioritised and that referrals work.

I apologise to the other Deputies but they were on the B list for today. I will not tie the hands of the Ceann Comhairle. Tomorrow, we will resume as usual.