Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Wednesday, 18 Nov 2020

Vol. 1001 No. 1

Ceisteanna - Questions

Cabinet Committees

Mick Barry


1. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Taoiseach when the Cabinet committee that deals with transport will next meet. [35074/20]

Alan Kelly


2. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Taoiseach when the Cabinet committee that deals with transport will next meet. [36602/20]

Richard Boyd Barrett


3. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach when the Cabinet committee that deals with transport will next meet. [36673/20]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1 to 3, inclusive, together.

Issues relevant to the transport sector can arise, as required, at a number of Cabinet committees, most notably the Cabinet committee on economic recovery and investment. The Cabinet committee on economic recovery and investment first met on 8 July. It has met on a total of seven occasions, most recently on 5 November. The next meeting of the Cabinet committee is scheduled for 3 December. The Government continues to invest in our national infrastructure. This is evidenced by the commitment of capital allocation of more than €10 billion in budget 2021, making public investment in Ireland one of the highest per capita in the EU.

Specifically, the budget 2021 allocation for the Department of Transport is €3.5 billion, which includes €1.8 billion funding announced for sustainable transport, cycling, walking and greenways and €1.3 billion for national, regional and local roads.

This will ensure that our transport network continues to grow sustainably into the future, providing viable and affordable transport options, while also working to meet our climate and environmental objectives.

Issues relevant to the transport sector can arise at other Cabinet committees, such as the Cabinet committee on environment and climate change or the Cabinet committee on Northern Ireland and Brexit.

Issues relating to transport are, of course, regularly discussed at full Cabinet meetings, where all formal decisions are made.

Aer Lingus workers are still waiting for the Minister for Social Protection to issue an instruction to the Intreo offices to ensure their backdated payments are paid and to ensure they are processed swiftly. Aer Lingus workers continue to suffer real hardship as a result of this issue. I have with me correspondence from a couple who both work for the company. They state that they have furloughed car payments, stopped unnecessary direct debits, tightened their belts and agreed interest-only payments on their mortgage. They are doing everything they can to survive and are not exactly looking forward to when their son writes his Santa letter because they will have to guide him on what they can best afford and not bow to his every Christmas wish. Can the Taoiseach ensure the Minister for Social Protection writes to the Intreo offices requesting that the backdated payments for short-time working are processed quickly?

In regard to taxi drivers, the Covid restriction support scheme excludes taxi drivers because they do not own premises. In regard to the moves made in the budget to deal with the hardships facing taxi drivers, the widespread feeling of taxi drivers is that they do not go far enough. Will the Government revisit this issue and consider including taxi drivers in the CRS scheme?

Driver instructors have written on several occasions to the Minister for Transport asking for a meeting to discuss grievances, including the denial of access to them of basic facilities at the Road Safety Authority, RSA, centres. They have received no satisfactory reply from the Minister or the Department. Will the Taoiseach ensure that they do so?

We are heading into the Christmas period. Airport testing is a real issue for me. The aviation taskforce recommended testing at our airports in July but, as the Taoiseach will know, it has been left to the private sector to provide it. The State has not stepped in. We now have a fairly small testing capacity being outlined for our national airports. It is clear that the contact locator forms are a joke. Has a risk analysis been carried out in regard to the lack of proposed testing facilities that will be available at airports? That is a simple question which the Taoiseach needs to consider. More people are going to be coming home via our airports at Christmas than any of us expect. This is a big risk. It is a big issue and we need to be able to test people. This has been noted to the Taoiseach now. I do not want to have to return to it because of a failing.

There is also the issue of the volume of buses required in Dublin, given the needs of front-line workers as well as children travelling to school. In addition, people are going to be using public transport more over Christmas. I understand that 43 extra buses are being deployed by Dublin Bus. Will the Taoiseach look at that issue? The number needs to be increased dramatically.

Finally, on Project Ireland 2040 and its plans relating to transport, is the Government reviewing those plans which were set by the previous Government? What changes are being made, particularly as regards indexation in terms of capital projects? Have any already been commenced or proposed?

I have spoken out repeatedly on behalf of taxi drivers since the Covid pandemic began and their industry was decimated. Before I ask my specific questions, the Taoiseach should understand just what a fantastic service the 26,000 taxi drivers provide. The National Transport Authority, NTA, reported today that of 40 million taxi journeys last year, there were just under 1,000 complaints. That means the percentage of complaints per journey is 0.000025%. I just did that on my calculator. It is an extraordinary figure. I do not think there is any other service about which there are so few complaints out of that vast volume of journeys. However, the Government has effectively abandoned taxi drivers when they are on their knees.

The Covid restrictions support scheme, CRSS, and grants being provided to businesses hit by the pandemic are being denied to taxi drivers because they do not have a rateable premises. That is completely unfair when the taxi drivers are carrying anywhere between €6,000 and €11,000 in ongoing fixed costs, yet the Government is denying them the grant support they need. The one grant for which they can apply, the restart grant, comes to a miserable €1,000 and the taxi drivers have to sign off the PUP to get it, which is absolutely disgraceful. The electric accessible scheme that the Minister for Transport, Deputy Eamon Ryan, is talking about setting up will only be available if a person scraps his or her car, which means the vast majority of taxi drivers will not be able to get it

The NTA suggested today that we need to issue more taxi licences when, in fact, by a significant margin, there is not enough work to go around for the taxi drivers who are currently on their knees. I ask the Taoiseach to look into these matters and give real support to the taxi industry and taxi drivers.

I wish to raise the issue of testing at airports and ports. Last week, the Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Deputy Naughton, confirmed that Dublin Airport and Cork Airport have a capacity of just 150 daily PCR tests and that this will increase to just 300 tests by year end. Even taking account of the 91% fall in passenger numbers recorded last month, 8,500 people still pass through Dublin Airport every day. My colleague, Deputy Darren O'Rourke, pointed out to the Minister of State that the projected increase in testing capacity to 300 by year end would barely cover a single flight coming into the country. I am conscious that at Christmas many people will heed what I assume will be advice to be cautious or not to travel at all, but there will still be an increased number of people coming onto the island.

The president of the Irish Air Line Pilots Association, told the Joint Committee on Transport and Communication Networks last week that he believed rapid testing should be available for arriving and departing passengers as well as for staff working at the airports on a daily basis. That seems to me to be just a matter of common sense. I am concerned and astonished. I wonder why there has not been a comprehensive comparison of PCR, LAMP and rapid antigen testing to identify the effectiveness of each when used in various settings. Is it the intention of the Government to maintain its very hands-off approach to the inevitable public health challenge that will arise from an increase in passenger numbers through the airports next month? More generally in terms of bringing us through this crisis in one piece, why we are still having this debate about the necessity for testing at ports and airports when it is obviously necessary and a priority matter?

It is very simple. The public health authorities are not convinced about the efficacy of rapid testing or antigen testing. There is no mystery. That has been the position from the get-go and the beginning of the pandemic. The same applies at European Commission level. There will be a further meeting on this issue this week in terms of co-ordination across Europe. There is no definitive evidence-based Europe-wide approach to antigen testing or other forms of rapid testing.

I met recently with the Dublin Airport Authority. The Government is not hands-off. I am engaging with all of the stakeholders in the aviation sector. They are working with the National Virus Reference Laboratory, NVLR, in relation to LAMP testing and its possibilities. HIQA did its study and analysis. NPHET is currently validating antigen testing out in the community. The feedback or the sense we are getting from the public health advice is that they are not converts to antigen testing.

I am not an expert in testing. I suspect there are very few Deputies who are experts in it. I think there is an issue here that we would like to bring to resolution but it is not one we can address by just stating a particular course is the common-sense approach. It must be one that is informed by science and public health evidence. That is the position in relation to the airports. Testing facilities are being developed in Cork Airport and Dublin Airport.

I visited Cork Airport recently. It was empty. Everything was closed there. Two airlines, namely, KLM and Aer Lingus, operate three or four flights a week if we are lucky. That is the reality on the ground in airports at the moment. Shannon Airport has equally low numbers, if any, at the moment. Knock Airport is the same.

I take the point raised by Deputies in terms of what will happen in the lead-up to Christmas. As I have stated, the Government is preparing its approach to exiting level 5 and that will include the travel issue. The travel issue will be challenging and it does pose risks, as any congregated setting will. How we manage risks and human behaviour is going to be essential in terms of the broader management of the exit from level 5. We have done a bit of work in terms of understanding what drove the spikes in Covid during the summer and into September and the kind of areas involved or the super-spreading events that occurred in certain locations after certain events. Without question, congregation is an issue. Let us be clear about that. That has implications for the hospitality industry or certain sectors of it. This is going to be very challenging. It is not just about Christmas. It is also about the aftermath of Christmas, the economy and jobs. It is about taking informed decisions that enable us to deal and live with the virus more effectively until the vaccine is fully in place.

I point out to Deputy Barry that I also met with Aer Lingus more generally in terms of the broader issues. I will speak to the Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Humphreys and seek to get the moneys due to the workers as urgently and quickly as possible because I do acknowledge that many workers and their families are in a difficult position as a result of the impact of Covid-19.

In terms of taxi drivers and in terms of the other supports that Government has introduced, the supports have been unprecedented.

Not for taxi drivers.

As I stated yesterday, the pandemic unemployment payment is providing more than €100 million a week. The cost of the wage subsidy scheme will be more than €5 billion from March 2020 to March 2021. The CRSS will ramp up fairly fast as well in terms of its supports.

We have to move on to Question No. 4. The time is up.

The national development plan is being reviewed. That will take on board the projects to which Deputy Kelly referred.

I am sorry, but we have to move on to Question No. 4. We are way over time.

Cabinet Committees

Richard Boyd Barrett


4. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach when the Cabinet committee that deals with education will next meet. [35424/20]

Alan Kelly


5. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Taoiseach when the Cabinet committee on education is next due to meet. [35140/20]

Mary Lou McDonald


6. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Taoiseach when the Cabinet committee on education will next meet. [36519/20]

Paul Murphy


7. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Taoiseach when the Cabinet committee on education is due to meet next. [36611/20]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 4 to 7, inclusive, together.

The Cabinet committee on education will have its first meeting on 26 November. The committee will oversee implementation of the programme for Government commitments in the area of education, including preparing for post-Covid education. I have had regular engagement and meetings with the Minister for Education and the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science at Cabinet and bilaterally to discuss priorities for the education sector, particularly the management of the impacts of Covid on primary, secondary and third level education. Similarly, I also have regular engagement with the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth Affairs on priority issues relating to early-years education and childcare.

The Taoiseach said something earlier with which I thoroughly agree, which is that if Covid-19 is widespread in the community, the consequences are felt in the hospitals. We are seeing them in hospitals throughout the country. In that context, we should be concerned about the fact that the reduction in the number of cases appears to have stalled in a worrying manner. While everybody supports the objective of keeping schools open, there are significant concerns about whether the contact tracing of positive cases in schools is adequate to establish whether schools are acting as a vector for transmission of the virus.

I will put it simply. When we closed down the schools during the last period of restrictions, we got community transmission down to almost zero. They have been left open this time and now the efforts to reduce community transmission are stalling. I am not saying the two are necessarily connected, but we need to know. Teachers and parents are expressing concerns that children or teachers who would see themselves as close contacts of confirmed cases are not being contacted by public health teams or not being deemed as such because of the narrow definition of close contacts being operated, which is out of sync with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, ECDC, close contact protocols. Does this not need to be examined?

My colleague, Deputy Ó Ríordáin, proposed earlier this week that consideration be given to closing the schools a little earlier this Christmas. It is something the Government should consider seriously. Most schools will close with a half day on either Monday, 21 December or Tuesday, 22 December. I do not believe it will make a massive difference if they were closed on Friday, 18 December, in the run up to Christmas. It is a day and a half for half of the schools and a half day for the others. It could potentially be made up later in the year. If implemented, it would give a clear seven days before Christmas Day in which movements could be restricted to a point that would reduce the potential exposure of hundreds of thousands of people to Covid-19. That would make it safer for families and loved ones to see each other over the Christmas season, during which I believe the Government will have to reopen certain aspects of society anyway. The Government should run in line with that. The Taoiseach can follow my logic. School communities, teachers, special needs assistants, SNAs, secretaries, caretakers and support staff have made major sacrifices and have been under massive pressure. It would be a boost for morale and would support public health measures. The unions have also supported this proposal. The Minister said she was not going to do it, but she might be rowing back a little to consider it. All I ask is that it is considered by the Government.

Second, and briefly, will the Taoiseach ensure that SNAs in the sector receive appropriate personal protective equipment, PPE? I am aware of several schools whose allocation simply does not provide for SNAs in their PPE funding.

I have previously raised with the Taoiseach the urgent need for remote education for children who live with a medically vulnerable person. Our offices have received correspondence from distraught parents with very serious medical conditions who are terrified of their children bringing home Covid-19. Where the threat to people's health is so serious that families decide to keep their children at home, parents are left with no option but to register with Tusla for homeschooling. This is not the route they wish to take, nor are they equipped to deliver it. Tusla figures show that 1,000 families applied to homeschool their children in August and September this year, an increase of approximately 500% on the same period last year.

The Department of Education provides an entitlement for children with very high-risk medical conditions to receive remote tuition, yet the children of parents with the same very high-risk conditions have been left in a most precarious position by the Government. The Taoiseach gave a commitment to investigate this matter when I last raised it with him, and I am disappointed with his response. Reiterating public health guidelines to these people on wearing masks and hand washing, valuable as they are, is not a constructive engagement on such a serious matter. These families are greatly impacted as, for them, it is a matter of life and death. The Government has not engaged with the core issue and, as a result, Tusla is now dealing with a backlog of hundreds of applications which have to be screened. The answer to this is that the Minister for Education should instruct her officials to issue a circular, develop that in conjunction with the HSE and enable schools to provide remote teaching for these pupils.

Last month, the Minister admitted to me that it was common practice for PhD students to be required to do five hours teaching work per week without payment. These are workers who are working through the lockdown. They are running tutorials, laboratories and classes in the universities, but are unpaid while students pay extortionate fees to be there. Does the Taoiseach think it is acceptable to expect people to work for free in the universities? I highlighted this two weeks ago and I have since been in contact with more people who are affected. Maria Delaney has written excellent articles on noteworthy.ie exposing the low pay and poor conditions facing these workers and others in the universities. This is hidden exploitation taking place under the Taoiseach's nose.

I highlighted the National University of Ireland Galway, NUIG, in particular, and it appears that matters there have gone from bad to worse. This week I was informed that PhD students who had desk space in the Hardiman Research Building, but who have been working from home, have been told they must travel to the university and clear their desks or their stuff will be binned. They are told to ignore the 5 km travel restriction, as it does not apply. Worst of all, there was no consultation with these student workers about this. They had no representation on the committee that decided it, again highlighting the shoddy way they are treated. Postgraduate workers are playing an essential role in keeping the colleges running. If they decided to strike, not a single university or course would be able to operate. In Sweden, PhD students are considered to be workers and are paid a wage for their work. Surely it is time for us to do the same and pay them.

First, I am disappointed with the presentation made by Deputy Boyd Barrett, in which he posited the coincidence between the reopening of schools and the rise in the number of cases. He has been a long-term advocate of looking at these issues from an informed perspective. We have done our research, as have NPHET and the HSE. The level of cases after considerable testing in schools is 2% at post-primary level and 2.5% at primary level.

It is based on a narrow definition.

It is not a narrow definition at all. Equally, in terms of international research in Denmark, France and other countries, there is no evidence that schools act as a vector for the transmission of the disease. The evidence is not strong in that regard. It has been a good thing for children that we reopened the schools. We should all support that unequivocally. Being out of school will damage children in the long term. In particular, children from disadvantaged backgrounds will be damaged and they will become long-term victims of Covid-19. We had to do it safely, with strong protocols and a strong approach. A great deal of work has been undertaken in that regard.

I have spoken to school principals.

I spoke to one last week, who volunteered to me that since Halloween he has found a very big improvement, and he has found his interaction with the HSE very constructive and positive. He said that without my having to ask him. He was appreciative of the resources that had been allocated in terms of the minor capital grants that post-primary schools got for the first time ever this year. They got the second tranche of funding this year for next year. The money has been allocated to them early to prepare for 2021. It is very significant funding that post-primary schools would not have received in the past to help them to get through Covid-19. Primary schools have received the minor capital grant, but we expanded it this year. It has had a beneficial impact on families and on children, so we must do everything we possibly can to keep the incidence of the virus down.

Regarding Deputy Kelly's question, within reason schools generally work their own school calendars and the Department has always been loath to instruct every school in the country to organise its holidays within specific dates. That is something on which the Minister has given her position. I thank everybody in the entire school community - teachers, SNAs, school secretaries and caretakers - for the extraordinary work that they are doing. I also thank parents and children, for whom it has been very difficult as well. It has been a different experience from what it normally would be.

In terms of postgraduate workers, they operate at different levels. Some postgraduates receive bursaries and others have contracts. Early postgraduate students might get stipends for tutorials. There are different levels and grades of postgraduate students. I will pursue the issue with NUIG. Not all postgraduates are workers. When I was a postgraduate, I did my tutorials and I got a stipend but I never saw myself as a worker. That said, there are PhD students who work in science laboratories and on research teams. When I met with them, the big issue was career pathways in research. That is where there is a need to give greater certainty and clarity because we want people to pursue careers in science-----

I thank the Taoiseach.

-----and research and therefore there must be a good pathway in terms of their individual careers and then we can make progress.

I thank the Taoiseach very much. We must move to Question No. 8.

What about the students with vulnerable parents?

I am sorry but we are out of time. We are on Question No. 8.

I have raised the issue several times but the Taoiseach has failed to answer my questions.

I apologise to the Deputy, but the truth is that many of the questions take so long that there is inadequate time left to answer. We might need to look at how we structure this process.

The questions should be grouped differently then, a Cheann Comhairle.

Cabinet Committees

Alan Kelly


8. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Taoiseach when the Cabinet committee on Brexit and Northern Ireland will next meet. [35139/20]

Richard Boyd Barrett


9. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Taoiseach when the Cabinet committee on Brexit and Northern Ireland will next meet. [36674/20]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 8 and 9 together.

The Cabinet committee on Brexit and Northern Ireland was formally established by the Government on 6 July 2020, and had its first meeting on 29 October 2020. The next meeting of the Cabinet committee is scheduled to take place on 23 November 2020. In general terms, the Cabinet committee will oversee implementation of relevant programme for Government commitments in the area of Brexit and Northern Ireland and ongoing developments and negotiations. The committee operates in accordance with established guidelines for Cabinet committees and, where appropriate, substantive issues are referred to the Government for discussion and approval. In addition to the meetings of the full Cabinet and of Cabinet committees, I also meet with Ministers on an individual basis to focus on particular issues.

I wish to raise a specific issue that my colleagues, Deputies Howlin and Nash, have raised concerning the Bill on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. The Department of Finance has proposed an amendment that would raise the minimum expenditure required to qualify for the VAT retail export scheme, which is basically tax-free shopping, from zero to €175. This means that in order to qualify for a tax-free rebate, a tourist will have to spend at least €175. This is against all trends in other jurisdictions, but it will also have a great impact on small retailers such as jewellery stores and those selling knitwear, crafts and the arts. Any store that is depending on small sales will be significantly negatively impacted. After the enactment of the legislation, the amended requirement will mean that tourists who wish to qualify for this scheme will have to spend €175. By analysis, this will exclude 80% of current expenditure in such shops. Why is the Government doing this? There must be a reason for going from zero to €175. The people who spend money in craft shops or small artistic venues, who buy small mementos, will essentially lose out dramatically. It should not be the case that tax-free shopping is only aimed at the wealthy who are travelling into the country. Those who come into the country and spend small amounts of money in locations such as the type of shops I have outlined will not be able to benefit from a VAT rebate and that will mean such shops will be negatively affected. I urge the Taoiseach to look at the issue.

I wish to speak about Covid-19 and the necessity of an all-Ireland approach. The worrying stall in the reduction of cases that we are now seeing further adds to the urgency of doing everything possible to try to develop such an approach. Could the Taoiseach give us a report on his latest efforts in that regard and the communications he has had with the Northern authorities to try to push towards an all-Ireland approach? It is clear that divergence is a problem. We need to do anything we can to try to get that all-Ireland approach.

On Brexit, one thing we have learned from Covid, although it has not always been enough in my opinion, is that we can put in place income supports for working people when they are affected by a crisis. That lesson should also be applied to Brexit and contingency planning for the possibility of a hard Brexit. There is a lot of contingency in terms of supports for business, but there has been no discussion about supports for workers. I think we should have a workers support fund. There should be a Brexit crisis fund to support the incomes of workers who may lose out or lose employment as a result of the impact of Brexit.

I thank the Deputy.

I ask the Taoiseach to look into that.

As the Taoiseach is aware, negotiations recommenced this week with the intention of resolving the major outstanding issues on which there is huge concern, including those relating to the Internal Market Bill. Time is running out, so we need to ensure there is a level playing field on the big issues, including fisheries.

The joint committee is working on solutions to the issues regarding trading arrangements between the North and Britain post transition. As the Taoiseach is aware, the Internal Market Bill will return to the Commons, at which point the British Prime Minister will decide whether to reinstate the contentious clauses that breach the Irish protocol and international law. If Boris Johnson does decide to follow this course of action, he risks the trade deal itself, not only with the EU, but also a future trade deal with the United States.

The British Prime Minister and his cabinet colleagues have talked up bigger and better deals outside of the EU, but none have yet materialised. The Tories' Internal Market Bill is undermining a trade deal with the EU, and now with the US. Boris Johnson's argument that the Internal Market Bill is needed to allow Britain to defend the Good Friday Agreement would be laughable were it not so serious. As a result of the Tories' brinkmanship and prevarication, there has been an inadequate space for preparation for businesses on the implications of Brexit. As has previously been said, the concerns do not just relate to business and trade, because issues also arise about the erosion of human and environmental rights. Of particular concern is the non-diminution of rights commitments in the Irish protocol and the Good Friday Agreement.

I thank the Deputy.

We have very little confidence that the Tories will ensure their protection.

Deputy Kelly asked about the €175 threshold for the tax rebate. Deputy Ó Cuív raised this with me at a parliamentary party meeting some time ago and I know Deputy Howlin raised it in the House during the debate. The Government is responding to this and an amendment will be introduced to significantly reduce that threshold. We need a threshold from an administrative-----

It used to be zero.

There will be a threshold and it will be significantly reduced. The catalyst has been the UK's decision to leave the European Union. We will respond to that in the form of an amendment which will come before the House.

One of my big concerns generally is the preparedness of Irish businesses for Brexit - deal or no deal. It is important that all companies plan and avail of the Government supports to help them to deal with issues relating to customs declarations and other forms. There is a grant for employing assistants and bringing people in. It has not been availed of to the degree that one would have wished. There is an issue there irrespective of whether a deal is done. Even if a deal is done and we have a trade agreement, there will still be issues on 1 January because the UK will be outside the customs union and the Single Market. It will be out of the European Union, which has implications for us.

I welcome that negotiations have resumed and have been ongoing. There are outstanding issues. It makes sense for an agreement to be reached. The UK needs access to the Single Market. Europe needs that access to be on a common basis with the EU states in terms of having a level playing field, state aid and so forth. That is obvious. Access to the Single Market is of great importance to the British economy and I believe that the UK understands that. There will obviously be challenges on that issue, on the dispute resolution mechanism and on fisheries. A no-deal is something that everybody should work against because it would be very damaging for all concerned in the United Kingdom, Ireland and other European Union member states. If a trade deal is done, it should neuter the offending clauses of the Internal Market Bill; they should not proceed on that basis.

Deputy Boyd Barrett asked about an all-island Covid-19 approach. I have had meetings with the Northern Ireland First Minister and deputy First Minister, and with other parties. The issue is of concern. The chief medical officers are meeting and engaging. The incidence is higher in Northern Ireland than in the Republic and there are continuing challenges there. We will continue to work. We hope to have a North-South Ministerial Council next month. Hopefully, that will provide an avenue for further engagement. Prior to that we will continue talking. Obviously, they have difficulties and challenges within the Executive and there have been disagreements within the Executive with different positions taken on the level of restrictions in the North.

The Deputy mentioned funding. The European Union has put €5 billion aside for a Brexit adjustment fund. Obviously, Ireland will apply to get a portion of that because Ireland is one of the countries most negatively impacted by the Brexit decision. This year the Government budgeted for a no-deal Brexit and we have provided our own contingency funding for the fallout from a no-deal Brexit.

Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.