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Dublin: 14 °C Sunday 21 July, 2019
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TDS ARE BACK in the Dáil after the Halloween break. The Taoiseach is back from his trip Stateside – but there are big problems back home – rental accommodation failings for one, which could be raised with Varadkar during Leaders’ Questions today.

While the Dáil has been off there has been a lot discussion about tax issues and the Paradise Papers, the inadequate apartments some people are living in (something Sinn Féin has a motion tabled for later today) and also issues of sexual harassment in some sectors, including politics:

Micheál Martin is on his feet and he raises the issue of the rail strike today which has seen some 150,000 inconvenienced today.

He criticises the Transport Minister Shane Ross and the government for underfunding the railways.

Martin says there is a lack of empathy from Ross – “the country is at stake now”.

He says rather than tweeting about Manchester United football team (which the minister did the night before the last rail strike) or setting up a visit to North Korea, he should be focusing on his portfolio.

The Taoiseach says the strike is regrettable – and says commuters have been discommoded and has resulted in businesses losing money.

He encourages both sides to go to the Work Relations Commission or the Labour Court to sort it out.

He says it is regrettable that with CIE it is “always necessary” to have two days of strike when other transport links  do not result in that.

Martin says more investment is needed, but again hits out at Minister Ross for his lack of engagement.

He calls on the government to publish the latest rail review, which the Taoiseach says he can’t give a date for today.

The Taoiseach says there has been a 35% increase in subvention in the last three years. He says not a lot of semi-state bodies can say they got such an increase.

Gerry Adams says he the financially difficulty the company is now in is not the fault of the workers but by the government.

He asks will he hold Minister Ross to account for not intervening.

The Taoiseach, who is wearing a Remembrance Day poppy badge on his lapel, assures Adams he is in the country.

He says while there should be some sort of pay increase, the investment of money should go into services and infrastructure.

Adams referenced the pay increase coming to politicians in the new year.

The Taoiseach says ministers will not be taking the pay increase.

Mick Wallace is up now and he is talking about a particular case where a family needs respite care.

The Taoiseach says an autism working group has been set up and a report should be delivered in the coming weeks.

Wallace says a lot of the extra money allotted to this area are being swallowed up by large entities. He says families will be the first to tell the Taoiseach that private care providers to not offer value for money.

She says this mother has been looking for a plan for her son, but the HSE will not even communicate with her.

“The HSE are a problem for them not a solution for them,” he said.

Varadkar says all children should have the opportunity to grow up to be the best adults that they can be. There will always be more work to be done in this area – and he admits that money might not be spent in the best way it could, both publicly and private.

He says personalised budgets is where they want to go.

Social Democrat’s Róisín Shorthall is now talking about the Paradise Papers and the revelations that have been released this week.

Bono is referenced in them and he has released a statement today on the issue:

‘I take this stuff very seriously’: Bono says he is ‘extremely distressed’ by Paradise Papers>

Talking about the Apple tax issue, she says they went on a “jurisdiction shopping spree” after the double Irish was shut down.

Was our capital allowance changed to allow stateless assets to remain untaxed?

How much have they benefited from this change and how much has the State lost?

Varadkar says “no – or not to his knowledge” though he says she might want to ask the Finance Minister.

He says we need an international solution to ensure companies pay their fair share in tax.

The Taoiseach says Ireland, according to the OECD, is one of only a handful of companies, which is fully tax compliant.

The double Irish is gone and Stateless companies are gone, he says, adding that he does not accept that Apple was given a special case.

“I think that is a cop out,” she replies to the Taoiseach. She says the government here need to close the loopholes.

She said the victims are small enterprises and the taxpayers here in Ireland who are denied adequate funding for public services.

“You are answerable to this and answerable to what your government has done,” she says.

He says it is not a cop out to say an international solution is needed, stating that two loopholes have been

“It is very much a case of cat and mouse,” he said, stating that there are very smart tax lawyers out there that look at legislation to find the loopholes. He says they will have to work to continue to fight them.

Richard Boyd Barrett raises the issue of the “Parasite Papers” – as he calls them.

He said he is signalling to the Taoiseach he would like to see a debate on the issues.

That’s it for Leaders’ Questions today – join us back here tomorrow.

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