I thank the 15 Members of the House for their contributions on the Order of Business. I will begin by again paying tribute to Emma Mhic Mhathúna, to whom Senator Bacik and other Members referred, to the other lady who died, to all victims of cancer and to all the victims of the CervicalCheck screening programme. As Senator Byrne said, Dr. Scally was before the Joint Committee on Health yesterday. It is imperative that answers be given and that accountability be the order of the day. No words can adequately condemn the way in which women have been treated in the cervical cancer screening debacle. The real terms are that Emma Mhic Mhathúna should not be where she is today. She should still be very much with us. We must all put in place a process such that this will never happen again.
On International Day of the Girl, it is important to acknowledge the day, support and empower young women across the world and in our own country and help them to overcome adversity, as many Senators said. UNICEF estimates that 600 million young girls will start work in the next decade. It is important that we provide for these young women to have the tools to develop and reach their full potential not only in their professional lives but also in their personal lives. As Senator Lawlor rightly said, there are young women across the world who are living in absolute poverty and being treated abysmally and appallingly. It is our duty and job, not only as legislators but also as citizens, to ensure as we celebrate so proudly Votáil 100, on which I again commend Senator Bacik and all those involved, gender should not be about repression, denial or discrimination. We must all work to ensure, on International Day of the Girl, women will take their rightful place in all nations of the world.
Senator Ardagh raised the issue of broadband. The Government is committed to the national broadband plan. To support the plan, €87 million has been put in place, in addition to cybersecurity measures and the promotion of digital skills among small businesses and citizens.
It is important to recognise that the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Deputy Naughten, and the Government are determined to have the national broadband plan unfurled. It is also important to recognise, as Senator Ardagh rightly said, that funding is required by many small and medium enterprises nationally. That is why the national broadband plan is so important to the Government and it is being rolled out across the country under the programme for Government. To provide the House with some figures, I note that in April last year Eir signed a commitment agreement with the Department on its plan to provide high speed broadband for 300,000 premises in rural areas on a commercial basis. The commitment signed between the Minister and Eir does not reflect the limit but rather is a beginning. Equally, the intervention strategy of the Government for download speeds is one we are committed to seeing through. We all acknowledge that broadband is now a necessity in rural Ireland. I hope that in the lifetime of the Government we will see the plan brought to fruition.
I note in response to Senator Victor Boyhan that the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government will attend the House next week to discuss the issue of housing. The matter of the Land Development Agency will, I am sure, form part of that discussion. I hope the Charleton report will be published today. I have not had sight of it, but I certainly hope, as many of us on this side of the House said at the time, that it will find that a good woman, namely, Deputy Fitzgerald, was hounded from ministerial office by many here who called on her to go. They were looking, as Senator Boyhan said, for a political head. I hope the report will exonerate her.
I thank Senator Black for her commitment to support the passage of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill which is landmark legislation. I commend our colleague and friend Senator Reilly who, as Minister for Health, brought forward the Bill with the former Minister of State, Alex White, following its gestation in committee. Yesterday it was passed under the Minister, Deputy Harris. It is very important to understand the Government is committed to tackling the misuse of alcohol in Ireland.
Senator Ivana Bacik raised a number of matters, including the equality proofing of budgets. The Committee on Budgetary Oversight is producing a report which is imminent. On foot of its publication, I will be happy to have a debate in the House on this important matter.
The Senator also referred to climate change. I do not want to repeat my remarks in the last couple of days, but climate change is the global challenge of this and the next generation. It is important in the post-budget debate to discuss things sensibly and with a view to creating a long-term plan, rather than have a short or medium-term reaction to two very important reports. The national development plan commits to spending €1 of every €5 on climate change measures. On the issue of sustainability, the Department's new climate change action fund of €500 million will support a broad range of innovative projects. It will also help Ireland to address its climate change and energy targets. I accept, however, that we have a road to travel. I refer to the Minister's comments in the Budget Statement on the Paris Agreement commitments.
I always hear Senator Humphreys when he embarks on his daily mantra against the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Ross. I acknowledge that the Senator has to be that adversarial politician at times, but it is becoming a little like the Abbey, or perhaps it is like the Gaiety or the Opera House in Cork. We will soon be in pantomime season and telling the Senator, "He's behind you," to which he will reply, "Oh no, he's not." Deputy Shane Ross is the line Minister with responsibility for transport-----