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Dublin: 14 °C Tuesday 20 August, 2019
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IT’S WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON and time for another round of Leaders’ Questions.

Stay with us for live updates from the Dáil.

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Micheál Martin brings up how the State treats victims of sexual abuse.

The Fianna Fáil leader says he recently men a man who suffered “horrific abuse at the hands of a Christian Brother”, who was later convicted of abusing him and others.

Martin questions why this man has received “absolutely no compensation”.

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Enda Kenny mentions his previous meeting with child sex abuse survivor and campaigner Louise O’Keeffe.

He describes child sexual abuse as a “horrific crime” that victims have to deal with for the rest of their lives.

The Taoiseach adds that it “wouldn’t be appropriate” to comment on a case that he doesn’t have the full facts about, in relation to the man Martin mentioned.

Martin says seven of 210 cases before the courts have been settled, adding that survivors have been to “hell and back”.

Kenny says many more survivors may be yet to come forward.

Kenny notes that the State set up a claims scheme for victims of child sexual abuse in schools.

It was set up after Louise O’Keeffe won her case in the European Court of Human Rights in January 2014 after a two-decade legal battle.

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Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams is now bringing up Brexit and the impact this could have on Northern Ireland. Adams says the Irish government should not back away from its responsibilities in this regard.

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Kenny says he has asked every minister to engage with their counterparts in Northern Ireland.

He says a North-South Ministerial Council meeting next month will provide an opportunity for ministers to discuss Brexit further.

Adams is now asking if the government has reached agreement with the UK on immigration controls at Irish ports and airports.

He says this is his fourth attempt to get Kenny to answer the question and he has written to the Ceann Comhairle about his “refusal” to respond.

There’s laughter in the chamber when Adams says anything Kenny says “could be written down and used in evidence against you”.

Kenny replies by saying no one wants to see a hard border return in Ireland.

He says it’s not yet clear what will happen in terms of immigration and freedom of movement once Britain officially leaves the EU, describing these as “challenges” that need to be worked out.

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Independents 4 Change TD Joan Collins is now calling on the government to close tax loopholes that see certain people and companies pay less tax than they should.

Kenny says Michael Noonan has “closed many loopholes in his time as Minister for Finance”.

He encourages Collins to put forward amendments to the Finance Bill in relation to concerns she has about inheritance tax.

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Michael Healy-Rae is now discussing the issue of moving people from congregating settings into independent community living.

The independent TD says that while independent living is suitable for some people, others need to live in centres with special facilities.

He says it is wrong to close centres such as St Mary of the Angels in Beaufort, Co Kerry, noting that some families won’t be able to cope without them.

Kenny says “good progress” has been made in terms of helping people move on from congregated living.

“The focus here has to be on the person concerned,” Kenny says, adding it is important to note “there is no imminent closure” planned for St Mary of the Angels.

He says the HSE is working with families to devise individual plans for people at the centre based on what is best for them.

Healy-Rae says facilities such as St Mary Of The Angels are centres of excellence and need to remain open to help families.

“Where are these people supposed to go to?,” he says, reiterating that independent living is not suitable for many people with profound physical and mental disabilities.

Kenny says he is aware of this, but adds there are other people in these centres who will have a “much better” quality of life if they move out.

He says people who do not fall into this category may still be housed in these facilities and will receive the support they need.

That’s it for Leaders’ Questions this afternoon, join us again tomorrow for another round.

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Órla Ryan

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