I wish the new appointees well, particularly the new Minister, Deputy Calleary, who has served a long apprenticeship in Leinster House and in politics. I truly wish him well in his brief. There is a bit of ground to make up now. This was in many ways a delayed appointment. I am sure his disappointment has now been assuaged. I wish him the best of luck. I also wish the Ministers of State, Deputies Chambers and Fleming, well. I served with Deputy Fleming on the Committee of Public Accounts. He was the Chairman of the committee when I was Vice Chairman. At times he can be very forensic in his analysis, so when it comes to the insurance industry I hope he will be forensic because we need that. I extend my best wishes to all three appointees.
There is, though, an issue arising with the Government. It has had an exceptionally poor start. I do not say that with any malice, but I and other Deputies have asked a range of questions today as to what happened in respect of Deputy Cowen, questions that are broader than just Deputy Cowen. I respect his personal rights and requirements under data protection and that he should ensure that all those rights are vindicated. I also respect the fact that there must be inquiries as to how certain information got into the public domain. There are, however, deeper issues, and I have raised very serious questions with the Taoiseach and he did not have any answers. I forensically asked him questions about the information he knew about. There are also contradictions in some of the statements he has made, and they will all be combed through, so he needs to put an end to this. He needs to think today about how he will do so because many people are now asking extensive questions that go beyond even the issue at hand and into how he is handling things. I urge him to think over the next 24 hours about how best he can put an end to this.
There are broader issues of competence here. There has been a lot of change in the Department of Health. From a Government perspective, the Taoiseach needs to get a handle on this. There is a new acting Secretary General, a new Minister, a new Chief Medical Officer and a range of other people. The Taoiseach needs to pick up the baton and ensure that the process by which we make decisions for the good of this country continues and that people have confidence on the whole range of issues.
The Minister for Justice and Equality has disappeared. There are so many issues with what has transpired over the past few days. The fact that she has not made any public comment on them is just bizarre. The Taoiseach will have to take a real look at transparency and how the Government deals with things. I have tabled a whole range of parliamentary questions, as have my colleagues in the Labour Party, and the way in which the Government has handled them is a disgrace. I will forward them to the Ceann Comhairle, as usual, to look for more information from the Ministers because they refused to answer the questions.
Together with this is the fact that the Freedom of Information Act needs a complete overhaul. The issue of giving out information has not resulted in a good start. Given the Taoiseach's track record as leader of Fianna Fáil while in opposition, I hope to see greater transparency.
The Minister with responsibility for housing has not been clear as to what he will do about the extension of the ban on evictions or about mortgages. From what I hear, the quantum in respect of the July stimulus will not be anywhere near what is required. Hope for young people is very quickly evaporating. I accept, because the Taoiseach has stated as much, that opening schools is the biggest priority. However, given the interview the Minister for Education and Skills gave to the Sunday Independent last week, I have zero confidence in this regard, so things need to change there pretty quickly. It was absolutely incredible to read. There are concerns about childcare as well and where we are going in that regard.
There is, however, a July stimulus for one group of people. I refer to the number of advisers being appointed to the Taoiseach's office, the Tánaiste's office and the office of the Minister with responsibility for transport and climate change, as well as to the Ministers of State, the new head of protocol, who will be in the Tánaiste's office, and the drivers. Funding has been provided to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade so he can continue with his Garda driver and his Garda car. There is a July stimulus for all them.
It has not been a good start for the Government. Let today be a watermark and a change in order that the whole country can, it is hoped, move on and get through Covid. However, the way in which the Government has shown leadership to date has not given us much cause for hope.