Ceisteanna ar Reachtaíocht a Gealladh - Questions on Promised Legislation

That concludes Leaders' Questions.

Before moving to Questions on Promised Legislation I wish to point out that we already have 31 Members indicating, 15 of whom are carried forward from yesterday. Leaders' Questions routinely now runs over time. We do not get everyone in on Questions on Promised Legislation because Members do not adhere to the allocated time of one minute for questions any more than they adhere to the Leaders' Questions timeline. Constantly ignoring the rules of the House is seriously corrosive of the parliamentary system.

It feeds into all sorts of other difficulties. It is not anything to laugh at. It is more to be regretted than-----

Everything is a laughing matter for them. They will get the last laugh when they go to the people.

Deputy McGrath, we do not need to get into that here.

I think Deputy Mattie McGrath means the people will get the last laugh.

Last week, Deputy Eoghan Murphy and other Deputies raised the issue of Cuisle, the respite holiday centre in Roscommon run by the Irish Wheelchair Association-----

I think Deputy Micheál Martin means Deputy Eugene Murphy.

I will start again.

Last week, Deputy Eugene Murphy and other Deputies raised the situation regarding Cuisle, a respite holiday centre in Roscommon run by the Irish Wheelchair Association and funded by the HSE. Under the programme for Government, there are significant commitments to respite services. The issue is a shortage of funding of €1.2 million required for refurbishment for fire safety compliance at the centre. More importantly, it is a facility which provides serious and good respite care for people with disabilities. Given that there is a paucity of such services and that respite has been curtailed continuously over a period, I ask the Government to engage with the Irish Wheelchair Association to provide the necessary capital funding that could be found to ensure the service continues. There are 48 people employed at the centre and it has been doing good work for a long time.

The Minister intends to meet management of both the HSE and the Irish Wheelchair Association over the coming days seeking clarification about the service and its users, as well as about concerns raised by other Deputies here.

SIPTU and Connect Trade Union workers in SK biotek Ireland are on the picket line this morning. They have effectively been locked out of their workplace. I met with the 140 workers and their representative at 8.30 this morning. It is six weeks to Christmas and they have been locked out.

Will the Taoiseach join with me in urging the company to honour the transfer of undertakings agreement and constructively engage with these workers? The programme for Government contains many commitments to job creation. We also need to look at the protection of workers’ rights, existing agreements and the protection of 140 jobs in the company.

I thank the Deputy for raising this matter. I am not familiar with this particular dispute but I will ask my people to check into it. I will send the Deputy a reply in writing.

In responding to Deputy Broughan on a most serious issue, the Taoiseach referred to the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017. The Bill was supposed to have been enacted last summer. I note the Department of Justice and Equality had brought a group of Bills to enactment last year but this was not one of them.

More than half of Deputies who responded to a recent survey carried out by RTÉ stated they had personal death threats made against them while 70% of them had threats of physical violence. Some female Deputies stated they had been threatened with rape. One has to have a certain thick skin to be involved in politics. However, most of us realise - one sees this happening in the UK – that the threshold is often overstepped. We need to protect against hate speech and viciousness online.

A contributor to our party conference last weekend, a Kenyan-born candidate, spoke about the overwhelming sexist and racist bullying she experienced online.

We need to enact this legislation. Can I have timeframe?

I agree with the points raised by Deputy Howlin. I am on the record on several occasions in this House, as well as outside, saying there is an urgent and important need to update our laws in this area, in particular the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act which has been on the Statute Book for over 30 years. That is why there is currently a public consultation under way to ensure we have an appropriate level of data and we listen to the views of stakeholders and others. This is due to close in two weeks’ time.

The other legislation referred to by Deputy Howlin is his own Bill. I was very keen, on behalf of the Government, to ensure we could move efficiently and effectively on that. That is why we adopted the Bill. My office is in consultation with the office of Deputy Howlin with a view to ensuring we can have an appropriate set of amendments by the end of the year.

Time is up, Minister.

I recognise the urgency of this matter and I acknowledge the co-operation of Deputy Howlin and other Members. This is an issue we must tackle together if we are to ensure the climate is appropriate for people entering public life and dealing with what is an unacceptable trend, in particular in social media.

Yesterday, the Taoiseach was asked about legislation on money leaving the country which is earned by migrant workers here. An extraordinary figure of billions of euro was given about one particular group. The Taoiseach will agree that it is important the Dáil record is accurate and corrected.

Today, UNITE, IBEC and others have put out the real figure for that group which is €17 million per annum. The Deputy who raised it knew full well because he got an answer on 22 October in the Dáil but he chose not to use that figure. Obviously, the truth was unimportant in comparison to his aim. He actually exaggerated the figure by over 31 times.

If the Deputy is very concerned about money leaving the country, he could look no further than Apple, Google, Facebook and many other multinationals which have large turnover here. However, I do not think Deputy Grealish cared about that. He had no problem with the €64 billion leaving the country to bail out foreign and native banks.

Thank you Deputy. The time is up.

He had no problem sending cervical smear testing abroad which his former party pioneered.

On one final point about the Nigerian community, a Cheann Comhairle.

The Deputy is way over time I am afraid.

One in four of my constituents is from outside of Ireland. I have been inundated with calls from people. Nigerians and many other groups-----

The time applies to the Deputy the same as everybody else. The Deputy is out of time.

They drive our taxis, staff our hospitals and work as carers. They are entitled to earn money and the few hundred euro they send abroad-----

Please, Deputy.

It is important this is corrected. It got massive publicity yesterday. For 20 hours, these figures were reported uncorrected.

That was the point.

On a point of information and clarity, the figures we have from the Central Statistics Office, which is under my Department and a well-regarded and reliable statistical agency, indicate that remittances from Ireland to Nigeria are about €17 million a year, which is not an enormous figure. For Poland, it is €342 million; Latvia, €50 million; Hungary, €28 million - I could go on. These are the figures from the CSO.

The figures Deputy Grealish used were from the World Bank. I understand the World Bank remittance figures relating to Nigeria are estimates provided to the World Bank by the Nigerian authorities and are not actual data. We believe the World Bank migration remittances back book in respect of remittance flows between Ireland and Nigeria are open to serious scrutiny. We believe our statistics are the accurate ones and not those of the Nigerian authorities.

Is Deputy Grealish going to come into the Chamber to apologise?

The Deputy is not having a second bite of the cherry.

Will the Ceann Comhairle ask him to apologise?

Please, Deputy.

He got 20 hours of publicity.

I call Deputy Broughan.

Ten days ago, Ms Justice Úna Ní Raifeartaigh struck down section 44(10) of the Road Traffic Act 2010, amended by the Road Traffic Act 2016 which was brought in by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross. She stated is was incompatible with the Constitution. The section relates to whether one has received a fixed charge notice and not allowing people to use the defence that one had not received it. She said it contradicted section 35 of the 2010 Act.

Many of my constituents, particularly those involved in road safety, are concerned how this could have happened in 2016. How come we could not have got this right? I have asked the Minister many times about consolidating road traffic law but he has basically told me to get lost and that it cannot be done. We have consolidated tax law and law in many other areas. This is another glaring example of the kind of loopholes in road traffic law which should not be allowed to happen. This happened under the Minister, Deputy Ross.

The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport is studying the judgment and will respond to it in due course. There is always a possibility of an appeal. Consolidated road traffic legislation is long overdue. What has happened in recent years is that priority has been given to reforming road traffic legislation, which Deputy Broughan has rightly supported, with cracking down on drink-driving, speeding and other dangerous offences rather than consolidation. A road traffic consolidation Bill is long overdue.

Having said that, it would be a mistake to believe that the courts cannot strike down sections of consolidated legislation as well. They have certainly done that in the past.

As the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht is in the Chamber, I want to raise the serious issue of wild deer causing accidents on our roads in County Tipperary and west Waterford. From a health and safety point of view, somebody is going to be killed. The deer are causing accidents and destroying cars every day, as well as causing accidents between cars on the motorway and on the byroads. In 2015, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht initiated a survey but nothing has happened. This is a huge health and safety issue. There is also damage caused by deer to crops and farm fencing. Bucks and does, heavy animals, are being killed on the roads day and night, as well as causing huge damage. I am worried somebody will be killed.

Deputy Mattie McGrath said somebody would be killed. In County Kerry several people have been killed, while others have been maimed and injured. It is not good enough that roads are infested with deer, many of which are roaming into towns and villages, with no law and order being enforced. When they cause an accident, no one claims ownership of them, but if somebody shoots one of them, there is an investigation by An Garda Síochána and the National Parks and Wildlife Service. There is no accountability, which is unfair to motorists because they are not safe on the roads.

I thank the Deputies for their questions. They have previously raised this issue on the floor of the Dáil. It might be useful if they were to submit it as a Topical Issue matter as it would allow a more lengthy discussion on it. The Deputies will be aware of the deer management programme for Killarney National Park. Licences are issued through the National Parks and Wildlife Service, but I will be happy to deal with the matter again outside the Chamber.

For the third time this month I raise the issue of the availability of Spinraza which I am aware was raised yesterday. It was approved in June for 25 children with spinal muscular atrophy, SMA. At the time they and their parents had a realistic expectation that they would receive the drug over the summer months. When I raised the matter in October, the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, was unaware of how many had received it. Last week he told me to talk to the parents' group which would update me on the matter. Up until last week, three children had received it. No child received it in October. When the issue was raised yesterday, the Taoiseach said he thought the HSE was meeting on 24 November to discuss the issue. Another meeting is not required as a decision has been made. I am asking the Taoiseach and the Minister to instruct the HSE to deal with this issue urgently, to ensure the funding is in place and to inform the parents and the children when the treatment will be provided. They were given hope which has since been withdrawn from them. This is impacting not only on the parents but also on the children, many of whom are disappointed that the treatment they expected to receive last summer has not yet been provided. I appeal to the Taoiseach to ensure the response will not just be the holding of another meeting but an instruction that a programme be put in place to deliver the drug and deliver it quickly.

That was promised in June and I am not exaggerating the impact it is having on a young girl in my constituency, Grace O'Malley. I cannot put into words how upset her mother is. The latest update which they received last week from Mona Baker, chief executive officer of Temple Street Children's University Hospital, is that because Grace has a spinal rod in her back, she is a complex case and that a new service will have to be put in place to administer the drug and that an application for funding for this service was made for inclusion in budget 2020. They are distraught. They are so upset and believe there is no light at the end of the tunnel. When I sought an update on the matter from the Minister for Health a couple of weeks ago, his response was that when he had given the go-ahead for the drug to be made available, he was not aware that a new team would be required in the hospitals to administer it. To say that is incompetent is putting it mildly. I cannot understand how the Minister did not know what was required to deliver the drug. Surely, he would have been told in his consultations with the doctors in the hospitals what was required.

It will be next year before Grace receives her treatment, which was promised in June. This issue needs to be sorted and the family cannot wait any longer.

I thank the Deputies for their questions. This issue was raised yesterday by Deputy Micheál Martin, following which I sought and received a written update on the matter which was passed on to Deputy Michéal Martin's office yesterday. I will make sure it is passed on to the offices of Deputies Curran and Lisa Chambers today. Unfortunately, this is not a simple matter. The drug has been approved for reimbursement, but it is not merely a matter of providing funding or a political instruction. This is not a normal drug. It must be administered in particular circumstances which sometimes require a lumbar puncture, sedation and the presence of an anaesthetist. It is a complicated process. It is almost like an operation, rather than the administration of a medicine.

Why was it not put in place in June?

The matter is being progressed, but it is not as straightforward as may have been thought a few months ago.

The announcement last week on the Adare bypass was welcome, for which I thank the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross; the Taoiseach and the Minister of State, Deputy Griffin. Will the Taoiseach confirm if a planning application for the project has been submitted to An Bord Pleanála and, if not, when it will be sent to it?

I thank the Deputy. A decision was taken by the Government to approve the project which provides for a bypass around Adare and which will also link the port of Shannon Foynes with the main road network. I do not know if the application has yet been made to An Bord Pleanála. I understand the decision we made was to give approval to Limerick City Council and Transport Infrastructure Ireland to do exactly that. I will seek a further update for the Deputy which I will make sure he will receive before the end of the week.

I refer to the programme for Government in the context of job creation and rural development. On Monday night senior management at Rondo Foods in Arklow announced the potential relocation of the facility to Germany. That would result in 130 jobs being lost in the Arklow area, the impact of which on the families affected and the wider area would be immeasurable. The company has had financial difficulties for a number of years, like most exporting companies. I have been in discussions with management and the staff. There are sound financial reasons for keeping the company in Arklow which include that it has a full order book. I understand it had one or two difficulties for a number of years, but they have been dealt with. Will the Taoiseach ensure the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Humphreys, and Enterprise Ireland will do all they can to ensure the jobs will be retained in Arklow?

I share the Deputy's concern about the potential loss of jobs. I am advised by Enterprise Ireland that the company announced the news to its staff last Friday and also the possibility of winding down the operation in Arklow in January. The company is considering relocating operations to its headquarters in Germany. The statutory 30-day redundancy consultation period commenced on 8 November. Enterprise Ireland continues to engage actively with the company ion its future plans and has confirmed that it is scheduled to meet company management in the coming week. The company has confirmed that it will look at all options and that this is the first in a series of consultations scheduled to take place with staff, with a further meeting scheduled to take place on 20 November. The Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Deputy Regina Doherty, is aware of the situation. We will make sure every State support is made available to the employees, if needed.

My question is to the Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Flanagan. The courthouse in Carndonagh, County Donegal was closed in March for health and safety reasons. The structural report commissioned by the Courts Service was completed last week. There is concern locally at the pace of repair of the facility. The courthouse in Carndonagh has traditionally been at the heart of the administration of justice in the north Inishowen area. The building is iconic and also very important to local businesses. I am seeking a commitment from the Minister that the courthouse will be repaired and that the work will progress promptly in order that the courthouse will be brought back into action as quickly as possible.

It is a matter for the Courts Service which is an independent body. I understand some works are taking place on the courthouse. I will be happy to seek an update from the board of the Courts Service for the Deputy at the earliest opportunity.

I raise the issue of funding to provide port access from the northern cross route in Drogheda. Last year the local authorities applied for funding from the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund, but the application was refused by the Government. The local authorities have appealed the decision on the basis that this vital piece of infrastructure is central to the northern environs plan. Funding the construction of the route would allow the local authorities to open up lands for housing development, an issue about which the Taoiseach spoke yesterday and the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, speaks about continuously speaks. If the appeal is not upheld and funding is not made available, sustainable planning will not happen and Drogheda will continue to be gridlocked on a daily basis, with HGVs passing through the town centre.

When will the Minister and the Government make a decision on the appeal submitted by the local authorities to receive funding from the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund?

Will the Deputy, please, allow the Minister to respond?

The Government constantly states funding is not an issue and that money is no object.

Please, Deputy. Time is up.

The Government wants to open up lands for housing development. When will we receive funding?

I thank the Deputy for her question. In response to her sentiments about how we are trying to provide for development, I completely agree, but as the matter is under appeal, it would not be proper for me to comment on it.

A number of projects are under appeal. We are working through them in a sequential manner. We are not waiting for them all to be resolved in one go. As soon as this one is dealt with, the local authority will be notified and the new round of funding under the urban regeneration fund will be opened shortly.

How long is that likely to take?

Last Thursday, Louise Byrne of "Prime Time" reported on a group home in Carrickmacross in County Monaghan, which was built for people with physical and sensory disabilities by the Respond Housing Association for the HSE and completed in 2017. Today it lies empty with no residents, staff or management and no plan to open its doors. It is a €1.5 million project that is desperately needed by families, particularly by elderly parents who want to see their adult children living in the group home. We saw 37 year-old Romy Ward, who is one of these people who needs the service. Her parents, Brían and Sheila, told of their heartache and their battle with the HSE since 1997 to have this facility put in place. However, almost three years since the completion of the new building, the doors remain closed, the gates are locked and the most vulnerable who need this service are left without it. The excuse the HSE has given is that after building this brand new, state-of-the-art facility, there is no money to run the service or open its doors. How is that for planning?

I thank the Deputy for raising this matter. The HSE's budget for this year is the highest ever. It will be up by another €1 billion next year. A lot of resources are being dedicated to the health service. The budget for disability will be €2 billion for the first time next year. I do not know the details of the particular project and I will certainly ask the Minister of State with responsibility for disability matters, Deputy Finian McGrath, to provide the Deputy with a detailed reply.

Our SMEs and the self-employed are the backbone of our economy. They are trying once again to pay their annual taxes but they are totally frustrated because like yesterday when the system was down, it is down again today and they cannot meet their obligations. We all know 12 November is the annual deadline. It is appalling to think that on two occasions the system was not able to meet demand. Can the Taoiseach give assurances to the House that the deadline will be extended and our SMEs and the self-employed will not face any penalties for late submission?

This is a matter for the Revenue Commissioners, which generally have very good IT systems but there have been some problems in the past couple of days. It would be a decision for them to make rather than Government. If the website is down again and people who are genuinely trying to file on time cannot do so, it would be appropriate for the Revenue to extend the deadline again but that would be their call, not mine.

I wish to raise an issue in respect of transfer of undertakings, TUPE, legislation, specifically the EU directive of 1977, and Irish employment law in the context of a dispute that is happening in SK biotek in Swords. Some 150 workers in this pharmaceutical plant have been laid off as and from today. The employer has set down a precondition of entering into talks that it will accept any recommendation from the WRC or Labour Court as binding. Does the Taoiseach agree that this is an illegal request? Will he urge the company and unions to enter into talks through the industrial relations apparatus of the State without any preconditions? These are high-end jobs. This company and its predecessor are long established in the Swords area, with which the Taoiseach will be very familiar. It is of grave concern that a multinational company can set aside the 1977 TUPE directive and employment legislation in Ireland. I ask the Taoiseach to request of his colleague, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy Humphreys, to intervene as a matter of urgency.

I am very familiar with Swords but not with this particular dispute. I would always encourage employers to engage with staff and their representatives. As I mentioned in reply to another Deputy earlier, I am not familiar with the dispute so I am reluctant to comment on it. I will have it checked out.

Under Project Ireland 2040, the Government has committed to provide an additional €1 billion for the rural regeneration fund. Last week, the third round of funding under this fund was announced. The constituency of Cork South-West was again overlooked, even though there were shovel-ready projects that have been ready since the inception of the fund, believe it or not. In the previous round six months ago, in spite of several projects applying, Cork South-West got nothing. Listening to many people in west Cork in the last week, they feel the rural regeneration fund has numerous questions hanging over it. I do not begrudge any county getting funds from it. County Mayo got €6.4 million last week. Can the Taoiseach step in this time on the same question I asked him six and 12 months ago? A community voluntary group in Schull, west Cork, has spent €500,000 in voluntary donations and has a shovel-ready harbour development project that would be a game-changer for west Cork. No matter what they do and how many times they apply, they cannot get one cent under the fund.

The rural regeneration fund is going well. It is a €1 billion fund, as the Deputy knows, that we have set aside to invest in rural communities, towns, villages and parishes all over the country. As is the case with any competitive fund, there is no guarantee that every constituency and county will get money every time. That is not how it works. It is based on an assessment of the projects and an independent advisory body helps to score and assess them for the Minister. I do not know why the particular project in Schull that the Deputy mentioned has not got funding but it would be reasonable for them to get some feedback from the Department as to why they did not. I will ask the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Deputy Ring, to make sure that is done.

They are 12 months waiting for it.

The issue I am going to raise is of most serious public concern. I have been informed that the public health nursing system faces emergency closure this Friday in the Ballinasloe and Portumna area of County Galway. Four vacancies exist where six public health nurses usually operate. They are not being filled by the HSE. As a former GP, the Taoiseach knows this will affect oncology, acute hospital appointments, post-natal care for new mothers and school visits. This is huge. I ask the Taoiseach to personally intervene to get some of those appointments filled immediately. There is going to be a total closure of this service on Friday evening with no public health nurses available and that means patients will be going to hospitals. The Taoiseach knows where that is going to lead; we do not have the beds.

I am afraid I do not have any information on that issue but I will see the Minister for Health later and I will advise him that the Deputy raised the matter and ask him to reply to the Deputy directly.

Wicklow County Council in conjunction with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council is progressing the N11-M11 improvement scheme. The second round of public consultation was held yesterday where a number of corridor options were put forward. Interestingly, some of those options include bypassing the Glen of the Downs and dedicated bus lanes. Currently the N11 is a car park. Some 70,000 vehicles use the road every day and they are gridlocked. We need action on this. It is interesting to hear the Green Party shoot this down already without scrutinising the options that are being put forward. Do they expect the people of Wicklow to jump on the back of a wolf and get into the city centre? There are no local jobs in Wicklow. The Taoiseach has said that this scheme may or may not happen. If it does happen, we will not see the soil being turned until 2027 at the earliest.

The Deputy's time is up.

This scheme needs to be fast-tracked and we need a commitment from the Government that it will take place.

The Deputy needs to be fast-tracked, too. The time is up.

We also need public transport and local jobs. Can we get a commitment that the Taoiseach will look at this and fast-track the project?

I can give the Deputy a commitment that we will look at it. I am not in a position to give him a commitment today about fast-tracking it. We have a roads programme and prioritising one project means de-prioritising another. We have to always bear that in mind. This project does not even have a route yet, or planning permission. It would seem to be premature to make that sort of commitment today.

Every day in Ireland 11 people are diagnosed with dementia while 55,000 people are living with this condition in the country. I refer to St. Joseph's Shankill, which is an accredited Dementia Care Matters butterfly care home. There are 60 full-time residents living there and 120 day care places. Last week, news broke that this home care facility faces closure in the new year because of a funding crisis. A significant increase in funding from the National Treatment Purchase Fund, NTPF, has been requested as funding has not been received since 2006. As the Taoiseach will be well aware, people who have dementia also have complex needs and need complex care. Outside the gates of Leinster House I have just met people who work in this facility. I have met family members who have fathers and mothers there. They are absolutely devastated. Where are these people going to go if St. Joseph's Shankill is closed? What is the Government going to do to protect this facility?

Has Deputy Adams a question on the same matter?

I call Deputy O'Loughlin on the same issue.

I support my colleague, Deputy Butler. Some 55,000 people are now suffering from dementia and we know that figure will double in the next decade. We also know that 62% of those people are cared for at home with the help of family and support packages. Regarding those who have to go into a nursing home, however, St. Joseph's Shankill is the only dedicated nursing home for patients with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. At the invitation of Ms Siobhan Grant, I visited St. Joseph's last year and I was incredibly impressed with the level of care, support and love evident. A new model has been put into place using the butterfly approach. Instead of 60 people being in one institution, these patients are in six small centres. The work there is invaluable and I beseech the Taoiseach and the Minister to ensure that funding is allocated to keep this fabulous centre open.

I call Deputy Boyd Barrett on the same matter.

I asked the Taoiseach about this matter yesterday and the Minister for Health last week. We need a firmer commitment on this matter. It was stated yesterday that the HSE is engaging on the issue. We do not need engagement. Dementia sufferers and their families need a clear commitment that funding will be provided and the deficit will be made up. Interim funding is needed to avert the closure of the centre at the end of this year and a longer term solution is required to secure the future of this facility. The centre is in my area and even as I speak, a very good friend of mine is in there. My step-grandmother, for want of a better word, finished her life in there. This is a key facility in the area and it would be devastating for families if it closed. I appeal to the Taoiseach to give us a clearer commitment and not just talk of engagement.

I thank the Deputies for raising this important issue. I assure them that the Government's objective is to make sure that St. Joseph's Shankill stays open, that the services are protected and are made sustainable into the future. Both the HSE and the NTPF are engaging with St. John of God community services on that matter. It is important and valid to put on the record that funding per patient for this service is well above the average in Dublin and it is, indeed, one of the best funded services per head in the country. There may well be good and legitimate reasons for that, but it needs to be examined properly. If we pay too much in one area, other people will lose their service in another area and we cannot have that.

I call Deputy Scanlon, who is the remaining Member from yesterday's list.

Last Monday evening, I attended a meeting in Donegal on respite services. More than 100 parents gave personal accounts of the difficulties faced by their families. Those people have been waiting for a respite facility to be completed for more than a year. I understand the facility is to open on 13 January 2020. We had a similar situation in Sligo, but thankfully that facility is now open. The issue is that the service provided is for five days from Monday to Friday. People do not look for much but they need a weekend service. That is when they need help and support to allow them to have a break and some quality of life. It is important for their sanity and that of their families. Midweek is no good; there should be a seven-day service. There is a seven-day service throughout the country. Why are the people of Sligo, Leitrim and Donegal been victimised by not being treated the same as everybody else?

I call Deputy Tóibín on the same topic.

On the issue of respite services, outside the gates of Leinster House today hundreds of people are protesting the closure of the Cuisle centre. It is the only centre in the country that offers holiday services for people with disabilities. That centre is to close at the end of the month. Some 49 people work there and they provide a service like no other. No similar access is available any other part of the country to people with disabilities seeking holidays. A pilot scheme will run next year, but the idea of such a scheme is to research the viability of a project. The Cuisle centre, however, will close even before that pilot project starts, never mind when a decision is made on its findings. I ask the Taoiseach to ensure that the closure of the centre does not happen.

I call Deputy Naughten on the same issue.

The Irish Wheelchair Association, IWA, said it is determined to close the Cuisle holiday resort in 16 days, regardless of capital funding being put in place. This is the only wheelchair-specific holiday resort in Ireland and the UK that can support those with a high level of dependency. Hundreds of thousands of euro in public funds and donations have gone into the Cuisle centre, where some 48 people are employed. I am requesting that the IWA pause this decision until another operator is put in place. I want an answer as to why the IWA is prepared to lock the doors when the community is willing to keep this facility open as an ongoing concern.

On the Cuisle centre, this matter was raised earlier in this session and yesterday, so respectfully I refer Deputies to the answers given by me and the Minister of State, Deputy Catherine Byrne, to those earlier questions.

Turning to the matter raised by Deputy Scanlon regarding Sligo, some €10 million was provided in the budget this year to open an additional respite house in every region of the country. That is ongoing. I do not know the exact details of the service mentioned by him It may be that it is initially going to be a five-day service and then extended to a seven-day service at a later stage. That is often the case. I will certainly advise the Minister of State, Deputy Finian McGrath, that this issue was raised by the Deputy and I will ask him to correspond directly with him.

That concludes Questions on Promised Legislation. The 12 Deputies not reached will be given priority tomorrow.