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Monday 30 January 2023 Dublin: 7°C
AS IT HAPPENED
As it happened: Talk of 'hard Brexit' dominates Leaders' Questions
Enda Kenny has fielded questions from opposition parties on Brexit, public sector pay and northern elections.

GOOD AFTERNOON ALL. Garreth MacNamee here to take you through the very first Leaders’ Questions since the Christmas break.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny faces questions inside Leinster House.

We’ll have it all as it happens.

Good afternoon. We’re just waiting for our TDs to take their seats before we begin. It’s already been an interesting day in politics with Theresa May outlining some details on the UK’s Brexit strategy. You can have a look here to recap on what she said.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin is first up and his question is in relation to Brexit and Theresa May’s speech. He said he is concerned about tariffs placed on trade between Britain and Ireland.

He said he is concerned that there was “no mention of any special status for Northern Ireland”.

Unsurprisingly, the Taoiseach has said he welcomed the statement from Theresa May this afternoon because it brought some clarity to what we are to expect.

He said he has spoken to the UK Prime Minister about the issues which are going to affect Ireland.

Kenny said: “Ireland will contribute to negotiations from the basis of being a member of the EU. We will give serious consideration to all negotiations.”

Micheal Martin has once again asked Enda Kenny about the impact Brexit can have on Irish businesses

He said he doesn’t think the Government should be welcoming ‘negative clarity’.

Martin said Theresa May “will speak softly to you but behave and act differently. I don’t get a sense that we’re up there as high as people might like to say”

“We’re heading down a difficult road,” Martin added.

SINN Féin president Gerry Adams is up next. He starts by wishing Martin McGuinness well with his health issues and praised his tenure as Deputy First Minister.

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Gerry Adams said Enda Kenny has a clear role to play by making sure agreements are upheld.

 

He has attacked Arlene Foster’s refusal to step aside as an investigation into the cash-for-ash scandal.

Adams said Sinn Feín will not tolerate allegations of corruption. “They must be investigated,” he added.

It’s all Brexit and the North at the minute. Enda has said he hopes the election is held in a civil manner and he hopes an assembly will be formed in March.

He also added that he will keep all parties informed in Brexit negotiations and that his TDs will show ‘active and enthusiastic dialogue’.

More detailed Brexit discussions will take place when Theresa May visits Government buildings in the near future, he adds.

There has been a consistent theme in the first lot of leaders’ questions. The opposition parties are concerned about the Brexit fallout and claimed that the Taoiseach and his Government can do more in their negotiations.

Enda Kenny has said he has been dealing consistently with the British government.

“We will continue to work diligently with them,” he added.

Leader of the Labour Party Brendan Howlin is up next. He’s talking about public sector pay.

He says Enda Kenny must take responsibility for 14000 work days lost through industrial action. Howlin also wants to know where the money will come from to improve pay conditions for gardaí.

He claims the government ‘fudged the numbers’ when asked how they’d pay for it last year.

“Can you tell clearly where the €200 million’ is to come from,” he concludes.

Taoiseach says that ICTU has agreed to new public pay measures until a new Lansdowne Road Agreement can be created.

Enda says that public sector workers will receive an increase in annualised salaries of €1,000.

It will apply to all those under €65,000. There are 250,000 people who are to benefit.

Mick Barry of AAA-PBP is up next. He’s talking about potential bus depot closures.

He has said Otto from the Simpsons would have more of a clue about bus routes than Transport Minister Shane Ross.

Barry said he wants to know what the Taoiseach thinks of claims of cash-in-hand payments to drivers.

Enda has said he hopes management at Expressway can come to an agreement to stop the the company losing money.

He said that these losses are not as a result of Government funding.

“There has been a strong growth in the commercial bus sector which has not been felt” by Bus Eireann operator Expressway, he adds.

The Taoiseach has said Transport Minister Shane Ross has not received the Grant Thornton report into the public bus sector.

Mick Barry responds: “Who do you think you’re codding, Taoiseach” and said there had been plans to introduce a €50 annual charge for the free travel plan.

Enda continues and says all will be done to keep bus routes operational but ultimately, it’s a deal to be done by management and staff.

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