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Dublin: 16 °C Wednesday 24 July, 2019
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The Taoiseach was asked about hospice funding, housing, sexual harassment of women and the Paradise Papers today.

Leaders’ Questions is about to kick off. A few people might be wondering if Leo is wearing his new socks which were gifted to him yesterday.

So far, the Dáil has passed the Water Services Bill 2017.

Here’s some of what was said during the debate last night:

Government plans to post out as many water refunds as it can by Christmas>

Micheál Martin is now asking the Taoiseach about hospices. He says funding should be restored to them and their pay-scales should linked to HSE plan.

The Taoiseach says he there is a disparity between those who work for public services and other areas, like charities.

He says he raised the issue yesterday at Cabinet.

Varadkar says they do need to protect the taxpayer, so we can’t have a situation where the State is giving Section 29 bodies a double payment.

“There is no point coming in her to say you support hospices when you screw them,” says Martin.

“This is terribly blagarding going on here,” says Martin, who says they won’t be able to continue if their funding continues to be cut.

He says the self-fund most of their money.

“I reject that allegation, and I regret the language you use in this House,” says Varadkar who says it is unbecoming of his office.

“You are the one that cut the health budget three years in a row,” Varadkar tells Martin.

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Eoin O’Broin is now talking about affordable housing and says the government is doing nothing for those that earn less than €75,000.

He says they do not qualify for a lot of schemes and can’t buy or rent in some cases, pointing out that many people have to live with their parents.

“We all know supply does not guarantee affordability,”  he says.

He says there is nothing for the families that earn between €40,000 and €75,000 a year, people who are working.

The Taoiseach says he can’t give a numerical definition what is affordable housing is.

He says someone on the average income should be able to get a mortgage and get a home.

Varadkar says it is about supply and says construction is up.

He says he doesn’t know where he got the threshold of €75,000 and begins to list off some of the things they did in this year’s budget.

He says there is a myriad of measures he introduced to defend people “who get up early in the morning”.

Bit of burn now from O’Broin who does the math of some of the houses that Leo was standing in front of in the past week.

He points out that houses they launched this week had a sale price of €315,000 to €395,0000

O’Broin said you would need an income of €81,000 and 101,000 and a deposit of €31k-€39k

He says he gets his definition of affordable housing from legislation – something he is surprised the Taoiseach is not aware of.

The Taoiseach hits back to say that the Sinn Féin deputy is misinformed and that the houses at Hansfield are social housing. He says it is a mixed use development, something he says Sinn Féin don’t want.

Ruth Coppinger is up now and she says every woman knows the stomach churning feeling when sexual advances are made against women.

 

She hits out at the Taoiseach’s response when asked about whether Leinster House is a safe place to work.

He deflected the questions onto those on the left.

She said his answer said hundreds of women work in Leinster House. “You chose to talk about your experience… you belittled a serious issue, you managed to turn #metoo into #méféin.”

She said the low level behaviour creates culture of tolerance and it should be called out.

The Taoiseach says he gave two answers when asked this week, including a question by TheJournal.ie.

You can read here:

‘The Dáil is no Westminster – but it certainly is a boys’ club’>

He says the Arts Minister met with the Arts Council about what further action might need to be taken, though he says that he is under no illusion that this is confined to the arts sector.

He says no women should have to endure such harassment.

He says the funding of the new Savi report is not about money – but says question must be asked whether the methodology that was used for this.

Are stats accurate and if not, what should be done – he has asked some ministers to look at these two questions.

Taoiseach asks ministers to examine if Irish statistics on sexual violence need updating>

He says it is not a matter of money but if it is necessary.

The Taoiseach says he has an open mind on the issue.

He says it is important to remember that allegations are allegations, and people have a right to due process. I would urge the deputy “not to hang anyone” before they have had due trial.

Mattie McGrath is talking about the banks and says the robbers are not on the streets but in the boardroom.

He says there is one rule for the rich and those for other people, moving on to the Paradise Papers, which have revealed a raft of stories about tax avoidance using off-shore systems.

McGrath reads out some of the promises former Finance Minister Michael Noonan made about tax defaulters, and the repercussions they would face. He wants to know how many of them were there.

He also wants to know if Paschal Donohoe was at the AGM of AIB last week.

McGrath says he is good at shaming social welfare frauds but says he didn’t see him outside AIB with his “placards and hashtags”.

Varadkar says he didn’t think Donohoe was at the AIB AGM. He says Ireland has agreed to information sharing with other tax authorities in other countries

He says a review of the Paradise Papers will take place and action will be taken on companies or individuals if necessary.

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