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Dublin: 6 °C Saturday 18 November, 2017
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WITH JUST DAYS to go before they head on their summer break, TDs are wrapping up the last of their pieces of business.

Here’s how Leaders’ Questions played out today:

Varadkar says he has immense respect for Ireland’s Defence Forces.

He said there is real demand to join the forces but it is difficult to retain staff.

He claims that recent adjustments of salary scales will help bring in more staff.

Martin said Varadkar made comments last week about recruitment.

“I think you’re in denial,” Martin tells Varadkar, speaking about the conditions of Defence Forces noted in yesterday’s report.

“It’s quite shocking in terms of what it’s revealing,” Martin says.

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Varadkar says pay restoration will begin within the Defence Forces.

4,000 people applied for the cadet intake in 2016, according to Varadkar.

Mary Lou McDonald is up now.

She’s talking about the “chaos” within the Irish health services.

Olivia Harte, mother of two children, suffers from Parkinson’s disease.

McDonald says she’s living out her live at a Cavan intensive care facility but she “cannot go home to her family” because the HSE will not provide her a home care grant package.

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Family Carers Ireland released their pre-budget submission today.

Varadkar says he is aware of the difficulty surrounding providing home care packages to patients waiting to go home.

“We still have a long way to go,” Varadkar says.

He says the budget for home care packages has been increased this year.

McDonald says Harte “wants to go home” and that “the single barrier between her going home is the HSE”.

She asks Varadkar to provide funding to Harte to allow her to go home.

Read about elderly couple Michael and Kathleen Deveraux who were separated after 63 years of marriage because one of them qualified for nursing home care and the other didn’t: ‘There needs to be flexibility so this never happens again’

Varadkar says decisions should not be made on an individual case and that decisions should not be made because a particular case has been raised in the Dáil.

He says he will ask Minister for Health Simon Harris to follow up on the case.

Independent TD Michael Lowry is up now.

He is asking Taoiseach Varadkar what the government is doing to keep Irish farmers’ issues at the top of Brexit plans.

He asks what measures the Government will take to take strain off farm families who are undergoing inspections.

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In relation to Brexit, Varadkar says its important to keep free trade open after Britain leaves the European Union.

We need to keep the closest possible trading relationship with Britain, according to Varadkar.

Last week, a group of grain farmers slept overnight at the Department of Agriculture on Kildare Street in Dublin in protest over the amount of compensation due to them after a disastrous harvest.

The government has set aside €1.5 million to help tillage farmers.

Details of the scheme are yet to be decided.

Should the occupation end, the government is happy to begin discussions with the Irish Farmers’ Association, Varadkar says.

download Farmers offloading bails of hay at the Department of Agriculture. Source: IFA

Read: Day 2: Tillage farmers sleep overnight at the Department of Agriculture building

Seamus Healy is up now and he’s talking about South Tipperary General Hospital.

There were 750 patients on trolleys in the hospitals in 2011, according to Healy.

2016 saw a rise to 4,419 patients on trolleys.

Healy says there are currently 22 patients on trolleys in the corridors of the hospitals.

The hospital is bursting at its seams.

“Will you take this matter up and deal with this situation at the hospital,” Healy asks Varadkar.

A 40-bed unit for the hospital is waiting for approval.

Varadkar says there is just over 200 patients on trolleys across Ireland today, a reduction of around 100 since this day last year.

He says South Tipperary General Hospital is in need to work.

Building new hospitals and new wings takes several years.

He says the Department of Health is working on supplying emergency accommodation to patients on trolleys across the country.

The most overcrowded hospitals in April were:

  • Cork University Hospital – 658 people on trolleys
  • University Hospital Limerick – 649 people on trolleys
  • South Tipperary General Hospital – 493 people on trolleys
  • Mater Hospital, Dublin – 437 people on trolleys
  • University Hospital Galway – 410 people on trolleys

Healy calls Varadkar’s answer “utterly disappointing”.

“It’s time now to bite the bullet because the patients attending the hospital are entitled to good quality services, which they are not getting,” Healy says.

TDs remained relatively calm today..

That’s all from Leaders’ Questions today. Thanks for sticking with us throughout the liveblog.

 

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