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TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR took Leaders’ Questions today – but in the background the fallout from the DUP pulling the rug from under the agreement rolls on.

Micheál Martin is talking about the RTE Primetime programme about the crisis in the health system relating to home carers.

He lists off a number of cases and says one person came into his clinic recently who is caring for three of his older siblings.

“I am fed up of going to service providers with emergency cases,” he said, adding that the service providers say they are getting no funding from government.

Martin asks the Taoiseach to watch the programme and come in with an action plan.

Varadkar says he did not watch it but said: “I will make a point of doing so over the weekend.”

I know very much the five families featured last night that there experience is not unique… everyone in this government is full of concern and full of respect for the work home carers do… any of us could be in that situation with a loved one… but for luck and the grace of god we could find ourselves in the same position.

Varadkar says it is important to acknowledge the changes his government have made including an increase in home care hours and an increase in funding.

He says the budget for disabilities has increased dramatically in the last number of years.

“I absolutely acknowledge that more needs to be done,” he said pointing out there need to be improvements in respite care, personalised budgets, and residential care.

Martin says the people featured in the programme do not want politicians to say they care – they want them to get angry.

He says there are no respite hours.

“It is a shocking indictment on us,” he tells the Taoiseach.

He says Varadkar needs to lead on proper investment. No family needs to go through the stress that programme showed last night.

Varadkar says the people do not want false rhetoric from Fianna Fáil either stating that they cut disability allowance during their time.

He says the people don’t want false words from any political party.

He admits respite hours available is far short than it should be.

The Ceann Comhairle gives a shout out to members of the Slovenian government who have joined them in the chamber. There’s applause.

Gerry Adams also wants to talk about carers and the RTE programme.

He says the human cost of the State’s failure was there “for all to see”.

He says one of the people in that programme is a constituent – he lost his service at age 13.

“Sam has taken to violent episodes, he recently assaulted his mother,” he says.

You as Taoiseach have the duty to ensure these people have the necessary supports, he says.

Adams it would cost €13m to give sufficient respite hours.

“I am asking you to make this a Republic of opportunity for these citizens,” says Adams.

The Taoiseach says there is no lack of understanding from the government about the importance of respite care.

He says he is happy to take a look at Adams’ proposals in terms of the healthcare budget.

Screenshot 2017-12-06 at 12.15.12

Varadkar wants to check that Adams’ costings are correct. He says the budget provides an extra €75m for disability services for next year.

Daragh Brophy dropping in here with the latest from London…

Theresa May has been taking a hammering on Brexit in the Commons, where she’s been taking Prime Minister’s Questions. 

She insisted that current discussions were focusing on maintaining continued cross border trade while ensuring the constitutional integrity of the UK.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at one point referred to her ministers as ’a bunch of jellyfish masquerading as a cabinet’, as he lambasted Monday’s collapse of a UK-EU deal that would allow Brexit talks to move on to phase two (which will focus on trade). 

Asked to sum up the plan, here’s what she said: 

(We’re still waiting for a question for May from the DUP)

Mick Wallace is now up and he is talking about Pesco and a video from the EU on what it means. It includes fighter jets and weapons.

“The EU was set up to prevent the frequent and bloody wars,” he says. Now it seems you have to sign up to their defence scheme to stay on the right side.

Wallace says a European army is being set up and we are being asked up to increase our defence system. This is when we can’t pay the wages of the members of the Irish army, he points out.

“Our neutrality is already on shaky footing,” he says and states this will be the final nail in the coffin.

Wallace says no media is covering this. But TheJournal.ie has for the last number of weeks:

‘You’re talking about going to war’: TDs concerned EU defence deal could lead to Ireland joining a European army>

Taoiseach says Ireland will not be joining a European army>

A Europe that is worth building is a Europe that is worth defending,” says the Taoiseach.

He says the EU can no longer be reliant on the US for defence which he says it has done since 1945.

Varadkar says he will defend Ireland’s neutrality.

Ireland wants to join Pesco because it is an opt-in and opt-out basis where we will choose what schemes to join like cyber security and counter terrorism.

“We will not be shopping around military defence shows,” he says, adding that we won’t be buying fighter jets or carriers.

Wallace says this will impact our neutrality.

What the hell do we need the American army to protect us, says Wallace.

He says we won’t be attacked if we don’t bother anyone else “We are a small country,” he says.

The Taoiseach says he doesn’t accept that he is being hawkish.

“We want to be part of Pesco,” says Varadkar stating that it will share expertise.

For other countries it will be different, he points out.

“We should be able to defend ourselves and not rely on the US to do so,” he adds.

Varadkar also wants to inform House that a defence forces operation are taking part in a major stunt operation in Dublin today.

Another update from the House of Commons:

Jim Shannon of the DUP has been given the nod to ask a question. The chatter in the chamber died down as he asked the prime minister whether she could guarantee that there will be nothing in the Brexit deal that will create any form of barrier between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. 

“Simple answer, yes,” May replied. She went on to talk about various cross-border arrangements that already exist between the two jurisdictions, like the shared energy market

Eamon Ryan is talking about Brexit now.

He wants to know if Taoiseach will use his veto if Ireland gets no guarantees.

The Taoiseach says it is still an evolving situation.

Varadkar says a lot of people are watching what he is saying now, so he must be careful.

Varadkar reminds the House it is a structured negotiation – on the one side the EU negotiating team and on the other side, the UK government.

He says we are in a strong position with the 27 member states behind us.

Quoting Lady Sylvia Hermon in the House of Commons yesterday, she said the DUP does not represent everyone in Northern Ireland. Varadkar says we must listen to all the voices in Northern Ireland, not just one party.

Ryan wants to know if Varadkar plans to pick up the phone to talk to Arlene Foster.

He also wants to know why she appears to have been left in the dark. He is also concerned about rebuilding trust again.

Varadkar says all parties should be receiving texts at the same time. He says he does not accept that one party speaks for everyone in NI. “I do not accept that.”

He says he will be talking to Theresa May in the coming days.

“It is the role of the UK to come back to us… there are different views in her own [May's] party and she also has to manage the confidence and supply agreement,” he adds.

He reiterates point that Ireland wants to move to phase two. If not possible “we can pick it up in the new year”, he adds.

“We stand by the text that was agreed Monday,” he concludes.

Tánaiste now up talking about news that US President Donald Trump is to recognise Jerusalem as capital of Israel.

Simon Coveney says he was in touch with the American embassy yesterday to make Ireland’s position known.

He says he was very clear in setting out that such a move would be “very unhelpful” in terms of progressing a peace process and would cause “unnecessary tensions” in the area.

Coveney says he made Ireland’s point of view “very clear”.

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