Unemployment: Motion (Resumed).

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 703 No. 2

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The following motion was moved by Deputy Leo Varadkar on Tuesday, 23 February 2010:

[374]

Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:

[375]

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  With the permission of the House I wish to share time with Deputy Joanna Tuffy.

At the outset, I thank the Fine Gael party for tabling this motion. It is very timely and concentrates the minds of people in the House on the single most important issue facing us, that is, the very significant problem of unemployment and all the difficulties it brings in its wake. The Labour Party supports the broad thrust of the motion and we believe it contains many worthwhile elements.

I will refer to some things the Government should do as a matter of urgency and to the question of jobs, job creation, job protection and job sharing. The whole world of work must be at the top of the Government’s agenda. Regrettably, this has not been the case and increasingly in recent times we have seen the Government devote more and more time to shoring up its own position, sorting out problems between Government partners and firefighting within the Government coalition. In recent times, for one reason or another there has not been the required clear focus on jobs.

In January of last year, the Government promised a jobs summit. Clearly, a jobs summit is urgently required. It was badly needed in January of last year when the Government promised it to the social partners, and if it was necessary early last year, it is all the more urgent and essential that such a summit take place now. We must include all the players involved in [376]industry, job creation, the various groups working with unemployed people, investors and the political system. We must bring together all these people to brainstorm and to come up with achievable proposals which can make a difference in creating employment. In the absence of this long-promised summit the President of the country has taken an initiative in this area, which is welcome. However, this is work the Government should be doing but has not done. At this stage, the Minister should give a commitment to arrange to hold the jobs summit promised 14 months ago and for which we are still waiting.

Several other issues must be dealt with speedily. I refer to the question of job sharing. At present, a great number of people who have no work are searching on a daily basis. At the same time, there is another group of people who probably have too much work to do, including those who wish to reduce their workload for one reason or another, such as to provide care for children or elderly relatives or to take breaks for study and so on. There is great potential for expanding job sharing arrangements and this should be examined. Only yesterday, I received a call from a person who works in FÁS who wishes to work term time but is not allowed to do so. There is potential for job-sharing throughout the economy and we should promote it actively. We must ensure job facilitators are available for people to come forward with business ideas to start their own businesses.

In this regard, I draw the attention of the Minister of State to the fact that the post of job facilitator in the Navan Road social welfare office has been vacant since last November. People who want to get off the dole are coming forward with ideas about setting up their own businesses and they seek support from the jobs facilitator who should be in place but, unfortunately, the job is vacant. I call on the Minister of State to give early attention to filling this vacancy because it has a critical role in terms of helping people to move from welfare to work.

There is a need to streamline services in respect of job placement. We must create one-stop-shops involving FÁS, the VECs, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Department of Social and Family Affairs. The services are too scattered at present and it is too confusing for people. We should take a one-stop-shop approach. Also, we must expand on the graduate and apprentice placement programme while avoiding the displacement of jobs. There is great potential for expanding this scheme and a small allowance should be paid to people to cover the cost of participation in work.

In the area of social welfare, there is a need for greater flexibility in respect of people being able to take on part-time, temporary and casual work. The system should be more flexible to facilitate people in availing of any job opportunities that arise. We should not put barriers in people’s way, however short the duration of work.

There is an urgent need for reform of the family income supplement, the rent supplement and the mortgage interest supplement to ensure there is a financial disincentive for people to give up the work to benefit from the social welfare supports in place. Flexibility is required in the way in which these schemes operate to enable people to take up whatever opportunities are available, even short-term opportunities. Principally, the Government must place a clear focus on this single most important issue facing the country and which, regrettably, it has not done to date.

Deputy Joanna Tuffy: Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  I refer to the part of the motion dealing with job creation. There is a good deal of discussion about entrepreneurship. Often the role models put forward are of people singled out based on their ability to make a quick buck. There are examples of people who have set up companies. I do not mean to single out the public relations industry but there have been such examples in the area of providing public relations services. There are examples of people who set up a company, sell it some years later and make millions. There is an element [377]of the bubble in this model of entrepreneurship. The creation of jobs in future must involve entrepreneurship that is not only about business people making a quick buck using the latest trends, but which is linked with innovation, science, technology, engineering and the arts and humanities.

A Nobel prize winner in physics this year was educated in a polytechnic college in the UK in the 1960s. Basically, he invented fibre optic cabling which is what our mobile phones are based on. This was the invention of someone educated in the equivalent of our institutes of technology. It has changed the face of modern communications, made our lives easier and made it easier to keep in touch with people. This is the type of area Ireland should develop in future and on which our vision of job creation should be based. We should produce and educate such graduates and invest in the education of science, technology, the arts and humanities and so on. Obviously, business should be included in this plan as well but we must consider the bigger picture which involves all these people working together to create jobs. It is not simply a matter of business people, business graduates and so on.

Entrepreneurship should not only involve the private sector. The public sector can be also involved. There is a long history of job creation in public enterprise in Bord na Móna and other agencies. We should work together and produce a vision involving the public and private sectors to create sustainable jobs that are not simply based on making a quick buck but based on a knowledge economy which takes into account all elements. It is about making something substantial, concrete and sustainable that will improve our lives.

Minister of State at the Department of Education and Science (Deputy Seán Haughey): Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  I wish to share time with the Minister of State, Deputy Mansergh, Deputies Conlon, Collins, Michael McGrath, White and the Minister, Deputy Ó Cúiv.

It is clear that two of the key pillars that will underpin our future economic growth are a recovery in our competitiveness and the skills base of our labour force. Given that the issue of competitiveness is broad ranging, we are adopting a consistent approach across Government. Issues associated with prices, education, the labour force and infrastructure are but a few of those fundamental to determining Ireland’s competitive position. The Government is proactively implementing policies that will see our competitive edge sharpen progressively.

Price levels have fallen in Ireland by 2.6% in the past 12 months while prices in the European Union rose by 1.4% on average. The European Commission expects Ireland to continue making gains in price competitiveness in the coming two years. We are continuing to invest substantially in capital infrastructure. The 2010 budget included a commitment of Exchequer capital investment of more than €39 billion for the period 2010 to 2016. At 5% of GNP, the 2010 allocation of €6.4 billion is proportionately very high by comparison with levels of capital investment across the Union.

As Minister of State responsible for lifelong learning, I am particularly aware of the importance of investing in the continued development of the skills and competencies of our workforce. This investment will provide Ireland with a competitive advantage in the area of skills and allow it to continue to attract and support companies from the ICT and green sectors. These sectors will be the key drivers of economic and employment growth.

By investing in developing the skills of the unemployed, we will be assisting them in obtaining employment as quickly as possible. We will be improving the skill levels of the entire workforce, which will stand to us in future years. The Government is, therefore, attaching the greatest priority to assisting and supporting those who find themselves unemployed.

Since the international economic crisis began, the Government has introduced a wide range of measures designed to provide increased and enhanced learning opportunities for the unem[378]ployed. The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment is investing more than €1 billion this year in initiatives designed to support those in vulnerable employment and the unemployed. As a consequence of this substantial investment, the Government has expanded substantially the job search and guidance supports provided by FÁS employment services. The FÁS training and work experience provision has more than doubled since 2008 and can now cater for 147,000 unemployed people in a full year.

From an education perspective, we have witnessed a significant expansion in the number of places that have been provided in recent years. This year alone will see 166,000 learners participate in a further education course. These courses are an integral part of the country’s provision for the unemployed and include the 6,000 places on the Youthreach programme, which is aimed specifically at upskilling early school leavers. The number of full-time enrolments in higher education is expected to be more than 140,000 for this academic year, representing an increase of 6,000 over the last academic year.

In addition to this mainstream provision, a number of innovative initiatives were taken by the higher education sector to support unemployed people in returning to education. These initiatives are assisting almost 3,000 people in participating in short courses or undergraduate or postgraduate programmes in the universities and institutes of technology.

I have outlined what has been done in terms of lifelong learning and described the provision for further education and training in the context of our current unemployment circumstances. I have highlighted the need to upskill and reskill our workforce and I have outlined what needs to be done, particularly through upskilling, for those who are unemployed or at risk of unemployment. The substantial increase in the State’s education and training provision for the unemployed at a time of severe constraints on the public finances reflects the Government’s firm commitment to assisting the unemployed. I assure the House that this commitment will remain until Ireland is well on the way to economic recovery.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance (Deputy Martin Mansergh): Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  Let me refer to the passage in the Fine Gael motion that refers to the OPW and FÁS. The OPW has already met FÁS regarding the placement of redundant apprentices to enable them to complete their training. We have indicated our willingness to co-operate with FÁS initiatives in this respect, subject to agreeing mutually satisfactory arrangements. In the 1980s, the OPW participated in a similar scheme and in recent years has assisted individual redundant apprentices on an ad hoc basis. FÁS was advised it should prove possible to take on between 15 and 25 redundant apprentices in any given year, depending on variable factors, such as the availability of work of a suitable range and quality, which is essential to maintain apprenticeship standards.

The OPW engages in many craft activities that are either rare or unique in Ireland. It is likely that placements could be arranged in stone masonry, stone cutting, national monument preservation, carpentry, thatching, fitter welding, some of the building maintenance trades and, at a later stage perhaps, some of the wood-working crafts.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment outlined in great detail last night the various employment support measures being undertaken under the aegis of her Department. In this regard, one must note the value of the FÁS training and community employment schemes. The rural social schemes under the aegis of the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs must be also considered. The schemes provide invaluable employment support, particularly in the countryside.

There is probably a misprint in the Fine Gael motion. It states “provide 5,000 more Community Employment schemes” but I presume it should read “provide an extra 5,000 placements in community employment schemes”. Maybe it makes no difference.

[379]Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  The Minister of State is showing his intelligence now.

Deputy Martin Mansergh: Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  The arts sector has great employment potential. I attended the Irish Film and Television Awards dinner last Saturday night and noted the Irish film industry is enjoying a relatively successful period. It is an example of an area with considerable employment potential.

Without repeating what I said this morning when I was given extra time by the Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I must state that getting the fundamentals of our economy right, including by correcting our public finances, will, as in the late 1980s, play a crucial role in improving prospects for recovery and, some time later, for employment.

An essential incentive involves maintaining a low rate of corporation tax. This depends on maintaining economic viability and independence. This is within the EU and euro zone framework and has been the thrust of Government policy in the past 18 months or more. Apart from a rise in demand abroad, cost competitiveness, lower costs and a correction in our competitiveness will do a great deal for employment.

Increasingly, I find myself in agreement with a former leader of Fine Gael, Mr. Alan Dukes, who writes regularly in the public print media, including the Irish Farmers’ Journal. He has a relatively hard-boiled attitude to economic issues but speaks much sense. Reference is constantly made to the Fine Gael “NewERA” document, which is an excellent policy discussion document. However, I do not believe it describes what a Fine Gael-led Government would do in office.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  It is very clear. The Deputy does not understand it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy, there is a limited amount of time.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  I am sick of this crap.

Deputy Martin Mansergh: Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  I do not believe raiding the National Pensions Reserve Fund for a short-term stimulus makes sense, nor does extra borrowing through bonds. I certainly have not heard anything from the Labour Party to suggest——

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  So we should just sit back and do nothing.

Deputy Martin Mansergh: Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  ——it would agree with the vesting company. However, it plausibly fills a policy gap at this time——

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  It is a solid document and makes sense.

Deputy Martin Mansergh: Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  ——but it does not describe what a Fine Gael-led coalition with the Labour Party would even begin to do.

Deputy Margaret Conlon: Information on Margaret Conlon  Zoom on Margaret Conlon  I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in this debate. For me and my colleagues in the Government, jobs are at the heart of everything we do. This is a very difficult period. It is a very difficult, life-changing experience to find oneself unemployed. We must ensure that people are retrained and get back into employment. In the short time available to me I will focus on the importance of, and need for, retraining and reskilling people, although my colleague, Deputy Haughey, also focused on this area in his contribution.

Statistics show that the majority of young people who are unemployed have low educational attainment, and 20% of young unemployed people are under 25 years of age. During the Celtic tiger economy many of these young people were lured away from education by the attraction of a weekly wage, particularly into the construction and retail sectors. The money was very [380]good and they were attracted by it. With the arrival of the downturn, however, they had no qualifications and skills, so it was bound to be extremely difficult for them to find alternative work. The main focus for these young people who now find themselves out of work must be the acquisition of skills to ensure they become employable. Without skills and qualifications, they will end up on the periphery of the labour market. People with qualifications and skills are more likely to be successful in finding a job.

I welcome the initiative of the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment and her Department to fund 147,000 training and work experience places this year. Being unemployed cannot become a way of life. Living on social welfare and State benefits should not and must not be a more attractive option than getting a job. People on social welfare must be encouraged to develop skills for the employment market. We have quite correctly placed FÁS at the heart of microscopic investigations. I believe FÁS must become more relevant for the clients it serves. However, there are many excellent people throughout the country working for FÁS and giving tremendous service at local level to provide the unemployed with opportunities to ensure they will secure employment in the future.

The Ceann Comhairle is indicating that I must conclude. Education has a major role to play. Many people are seeking to pursue third and fourth level education and I welcome the fact that the institutes of technology and the universities project an increase of 4.5% in education over last year. People have the desire to acquire new skills. Nobody of 25 years who secures a job today will be doing the same job when they retire. People will change their career paths and will need to reskill and retrain. I believe that should be a lifelong experience because we must maintain the reputation we have earned for producing the brightest and the best, and be ready to embrace the upturn when it comes.

Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  This is an important debate and I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in it. The Government is taking active measures to support people who are in jobs at present through the enterprise stabilisation fund, the enterprise subsidy scheme and the PRSI exemption which was announced in the budget. It has also tried to create jobs through Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland. The itineraries conducted by those agencies, whereby they bring investors to areas throughout the country and particularly to the mid-west, are published. The view that nothing is happening should not be conveyed by this House because that is far from the case.

In the course of a similar debate a number of months ago Deputy English and I debated the Fine Gael “NewERA” document. He challenged what I said. The document promises 105,000 jobs to be delivered by Fine Gael. I asked how many would come to my constituency of County Limerick and to the mid-west region. I was told at the time to read the document. I have read it a number of times but there is still no indication in it for the people I represent in Limerick——

Deputy John O’Mahony: Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  How many will the Deputy forecast?

Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  ——of how many jobs Fine Gael plans to deliver.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  It is a national policy.

Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  The Minister of State, Deputy Mansergh, has described it as unworkable. I agree it is unworkable and the people I represent are still scratching their heads and wondering where these jobs will emerge under the “NewERA” document. It is not workable and Limerick is still waiting to hear——

Deputy John O’Mahony: Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  How many jobs will the Deputy forecast?

[381]Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  I will put another challenge to the Members across the floor. They control three local authorities in the mid-west region. Limerick County Council, Limerick City Council and Clare County Council are dominated and controlled by Fine Gael. There has been no reduction in local government charges by the Fine Gael dominated local authorities——

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  There is a reduction in local government funding.

Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  ——and those charges are very important to business and enterprises.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  The Government is starving the authorities of funding.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Collins without interruption. His time is very limited.

Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  These are the facts. The Opposition is in control at local level but is not delivering.

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  The Government is starving local authorities.

Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Mr. Denis Brosnan is carrying out a local government review. The Opposition has control of three local authorities and holds three different positions. Its membership on the ground is at sixes and sevens.

Reference has been made to the Lynxs Cargo Group in respect of the Government amendment to the motion. It is noteworthy that a cross-party delegation from the area met the Minister for Transport today. That is being worked on and will be delivered. The delay is not being caused by the State or the Government.

There was also reference to a one-stop-shop concept. I agree with it. In my constituency alone there are two Leader companies, an enterprise board, a development board, a business support unit in the local authority, FÁS, IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and Shannon Development. That is nine entities. If one multiplies that number across the region, how many State agencies are there? I agree with the one-stop-shop approach but the Labour Party Members are not saying that locally. Its Dáil representatives want to keep all these quangos in place. We cannot say in the House that we favour a one-stop-shop approach——

Deputy Róisín Shortall: Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  That is not true.

Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  It is true, and the Deputy can check the record.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Deputy Collins must conclude.

Deputy Niall Collins: Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  I note and welcome the confirmation that the Dell globalisation funding is available for business start-ups and job creation. It is a welcome announcement.

Deputy Michael McGrath: Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  I commend Fine Gael on putting down this motion, which is particularly important. The issue of job retention and job creation must be the national and political priority at this time. When I completed my training as a chartered accountant in Cork, I went to work in a start-up business — it was a new radio station — as its financial controller. Many of the lessons I learned at that time about the practical issues involved in running a small business hold true for the Irish economy today.

Consider the two pillars of activity in the Irish economy. The export sector has performed remarkably well and has proven to be exceptionally resilient in extremely difficult international trading conditions. On the other hand, SMEs are trying to survive at a time of reduced demand [382]for their goods and services. They have had to contend with a major credit crunch and their customers have experienced a serious drop in their disposable income.

There has also been a collapse in consumer confidence. These are the issues faced by businesses. From my perspective, the same key principles apply to export business and SMEs in terms of their interaction with Government and the wider public sector. Those issues are containing one’s costs and making oneself as competitive as possible vis-à-vis one’s international and domestic competition and minimising compliance and regulatory work, which many business see as a significant burden and, largely, as a waste of time. They want to operate in a low taxation environment for business and want the burdens imposed by the State and the wider public sector on business to be kept to an absolute minimum.

Business success is an enabler for an economy and society. Profitable commercial activity will generate revenue for the Exchequer. Risk takers should be rewarded. Very often they are pilloried in this country. I do not accept the view that one should crucify successful business people in this country with exorbitant rates of tax. They have to pay their fair share, but we must establish a strong commercial incentive for people to take risks in our economy. Every facet of Government policy must be business proofed. Departmental decisions, the impact of the work of State agencies, in terms of compliance and the charges imposed by the commercial semi-State sector, must all be business proofed. That is essential. There should be a national policy regarding local authority rates. There must be an aggressive drive to reduce costs in terms of energy, waste and so forth. The banking system must be addressed through NAMA and recapitalisation to get credit flowing through the banking system again.

The focus of the Government must and will be, for the next two years, on jobs, building confidence in the economy and supporting commercial activity in all its forms. Support for the business sector has to transcend all aspects of Government and the public sector generally. When there is a jobs crisis, a public finance crisis and an economic crisis, other issues will have to take secondary priority. I am confident Government decisions and action will lead to a reversal in our economic fortunes.

Deputy Mary Alexandra White: Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  I am delighted to speak on this Private Members’ motion. We on this side of the House have made difficult decisions in the budgets to try to stabilise the economy and the public finances. There have been difficult decisions made regarding the reform of the regulatory authorities for the banks. I am glad to welcome the appointment of Professor Patrick Honohan, which the Green Party was very keen to see happen. He will be a good man in the position. The next number of weeks and months will be a defining moment in how we look at our economy regarding how the banks perform.

Employment, as all parties in the House have said, is central to the revival of our economy. That is why it is important that we have a sufficient number of training places and support for people returning to education. Let us hear the figures clearly. Some 330,000 places have been provided for job training. We are often accused of not doing enough for job training, but that is the figure. Let us put it on the record. The Opposition’s claim that there is no job strategy is a lame one because there is a strategy and it is working.

Another aspect of the economic revival is the green and digital economy——

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  The Deputy is accepting we will lose 70,000 jobs this year. That is some jobs strategy.

Deputy Mary Alexandra White: Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  Some protection from the Chair might be helpful.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Yes.

[383]Deputy Mary Alexandra White: Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  The work done by the Minister, Deputy Eamon Ryan, in this regard is to be commended. The future of our economy is green. Business and many members of the public know that and the Government is acting on it in the context of the digital, smart and green economy. The supports for renewable energy, energy efficiency, waste management, water services and particularly investment in water services infrastructure has never been greater than under the Minister, Deputy John Gormley.

Some 15,000 green jobs have been created over the past two and a half years.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  They are not green jobs.

Deputy Mary Alexandra White: Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  There will be more this year, with the €130 million retrofit scheme, which will provide local employment throughout the country. The digital economy, which is also being developed by the Minister, Deputy Ryan, sees a fusion of the smart economy technologies, low carbon innovation and development in the ICT market. The potential for jobs is significant. Some 30,000 will be created in this sector in the next five to ten years. Knowledge-based businesses are still moving to Ireland and providing new jobs here. We are providing supports to facilitate that. These are the facts.

We need to develop other indigenous sectors, as well as the green economy, such as tourism, the economic spin-off from our culture and new opportunities for Irish agriculture in terms of anaerobic digestion and biomass. We all want to make sure that, throughout the country, we are creating jobs in rural areas.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  I am very constrained on time.

Deputy Mary Alexandra White: Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  Foreign direct investment is vital but we must try to become more focused on indigenous sectors. I am sorry I do not have more time to discuss the green economy but I am grateful to have a couple of minutes to speak on the Private Members’ motion to disprove some of the erroneous statements coming from the Opposition.

Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs (Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív): Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ba mhaith liom buíochas a ghabháil le Fine Gael as ucht an rúin seo a chur síos. We are discussing an issue which is of major concern to anybody who meets people every day. The question of employment is central to our work. There are two elements. Regarding the creation of employment in the private sector, one has to create the circumstances which are conducive to employment. The State cannot create employment in the private sector, but it can create the circumstances. As someone who was involved in creating employment on the ground for years, I believe one needs access to money, ideas and support for those ideas.

I am constrained by time. I wish to focus on two schemes run by my Department. One is the rural social scheme which has 2,600 participants. Technically, it does not take people from the live register because they receive farm assist and are not classed as unemployed. The reality in rural Ireland is that small farmers who had jobs return to farm assist because it is more beneficial from a means test point of view. The rural social scheme is doing very good work. Even though the budget has tightened, I decided to keep the same number of people on the scheme while trying to devise ways of sustaining the scheme and, if possible, examining innovative ways of growing it.

On the community services programme, last year we increased the number of people on the scheme by 300 and we now have 2,700 people on it. We also approved some 80 different organisations for the scheme. Funding was cut this year as part of the general effort to try to bring some fiscal stability to the State. I decided to cut the non-material grant to all schemes because many of them have very high reserves. Other schemes have very good earning capacity. [384] Many of them are involved in tourism projects and so on. There are some, particularly those in RAPID areas, whose earning capacity is very small. We told the schemes concerned that they could make a case for funding to keep them going and we would look at their situation on a case-by-case basis.

This was a much more rational approach to sustaining the levels of employment than leaving the non-wage grant in place in every scheme and cutting the numbers of people on the scheme. Between 40 and 50 different groups have made a case to the Department regarding funding and I understand the first case will be decided on this week. It is my intention to ensure that any group which needs funding gets it. In many cases groups have the ability to earn more money because community services programmes are meant to have a revenue stream from the private sector. Many of the schemes comprise tourism projects in rural areas which charge people to see attractive tourism features. Therefore, such scheme will be able to meet the objectives of the scheme.

Ba mhaith liom tagairt a dhéanamh don scéim forbartha tuaithe, rural develop programme. Cruthóidh sin fostaíocht do 2,500 duine sna ceantair thuaithe in Éirinn. Leis sin, tá deiseanna iontacha don phobal tuaithe. Bhí comhdháil an tseachtain seo caite faoi seo agus tá deiseanna thar na bearta ann ach caithfidh na comhlachtaí Leader deontais mhóra a cheadú mar ní féidir fostaíocht a chruthú le deontais de €3,000.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Next are Deputy Deirdre Clune who has six minutes and Deputies Joe McHugh, John O’Mahony, John Perry, Pat Breen, Denis Naughten, Simon Coveney, Michael Ring and Brian Hayes, who have three minutes each. I ask Deputies to keep to their time.

Deputy Deirdre Clune: Information on Deirdre Clune  Zoom on Deirdre Clune  I shall stick to my time although I hope I will not take six minutes. I support the motion which is a very important one as evidenced by the number of contributions. There are 20 contributions from those members of Fine Gael who wished to speak on this motion last night and tonight.

If one took any note of the media in the recent weeks one finds they were interested only in those who resigned from their positions in Government, from this House or the Seanad. This motion concerns the very real issues facing people — unemployment and the financial crisis that confronts small and medium businesses. There are some practical innovative ideas in the motion that, if put in place, would alleviate the problems of many who now find themselves unemployed.

It is shocking that the Government admits, putting up its hands, there will be another 70,000 people unemployed. It is failing to do anything about it. As we all know, unemployment is the result of failed economic policies. Last week I read a report produced by the Construction Industry Federation, CIF, Cork region, on activity in the region. The figures in the report underline the fact that in this country we were so very dependent on property and we let so many people down in that regard. Young people in particular were attracted away from school and their studies, lured by high wages and so much work. Now they find themselves on the dole and without any support. That point was made also on the other side of the House. One third of those aged under 25 years are former construction workers. When one looks at applications for registration as apprentices in the south west region, in 2009 the figure was 162, down from 1079 in 2006. Nationally, in 2006, there were 7,114 registrations. Last year there were only 1,000 nationally. That is only one sign of the effect on the construction sector.

I totally support the apprenticeship guarantee scheme proposed by my party. It is very important and I am glad that the Minister of State, Deputy Mansergh, mentioned it formally [385]before I spoke. It is very important that those who have not yet finished their apprenticeship schemes are given the opportunity to do so. We proposed that FÁS be mandated to set up training centres in conjunction with the OPW to ensure that those apprentices would be in a position to finish their certification. It is very important to people who have gone down this road in whatever area, as carpenter, electrician, plumber or bricklayer, that they be given the opportunity to finish their certification.

Budget 2010 was very short-sighted in that there was no investment in infrastructure. There was no sign of it. In the Cork region it was depressing that there was nothing on the horizon. The payback is borne out by the fact that for every €100 million invested in infrastructure 1,000 jobs are created. Of that funding €50 million will be returned to the Exchequer in direct taxes and social welfare savings. For every ten jobs created in a construction project a further four induced jobs are sustained. By that I mean jobs in the wider economy, shops, cafes and all the services that go with and support that industry. It makes sense. A construction worker on an industry registered employment agreement’s pay rates contributes €17,000 in taxes each year. A construction worker who loses a job costs the Exchequer €18,000 in social welfare payments. Those are facts that speak for themselves. I plead with the Minister of State, Deputy Mansergh, to process this and ensure that the apprenticeship guarantee scheme is fast-tracked because there are people who will find themselves in desperate circumstances without this facility to complete their certification.

I turn to a completely different topic, at the other end of the scale. I congratulate the Tyndall research institute in Cork which this week announced the development of a junctionless transistor that looks set to revolutionise the world of microchip manufacturing. Scientists have been investigating this and trying to develop such a transistor since 1925. Nobody was able to fabricate one but it happened in the Tyndall institute which is based on the UCC campus. The institute has benefited from investment under the research and development sector supported by the Government. The announcement this week has revolutionised transistor manufacture. Intel is looking seriously at this development and there are many leading semi-conductor companies around the world looking at this product. It is a serious and amazing breakthrough.

This underlines the need to invest in research and development and to encourage people to think and for our young people to get involved in science and technology. It shows the need to encourage research institutes to work with industry to develop products that can go out into the marketplace and be developed. This, in turn, results in relative and real employment for the future young people of this country. Fifty thousand of them will be doing their leaving certificates this year and they need to be given hope.

Deputy Joe McHugh: Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  Michael O’Leary’s proposal for 300 jobs has featured very largely on the political and media agenda for the past ten days. He has dominated RTE news programmes and our national newspapers and today his press conference on Merrion Street was attended by dozens of reporters. Last Sunday some of those newspapers strongly criticised politicians and politics for doing nothing to address Ireland’s unemployment problem. Those newspapers challenged Opposition politicians to come up with proposals similar to Michael O’Leary’s. As an Opposition politician in this democratically elected national Parliament, I accept that challenge.

Through the Minister of State, Deputy Ó Cuív, I guarantee the Tánaiste that the sea food company Marine Harvest will provide 30 new jobs at its base in Fanad, County Donegal, if the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food moves to resolve very simple licensing issues this spring. These issues and obstacles have existed for 15 years. I guarantee the Tánaiste that the long-distance transport company Global Flexi Systemswill provide 15 new jobs at Moville, [386]County Donegal, if Enterprise Ireland moves to match Invest Northern Ireland’s concrete offer to provide the company with initial equity support.

I guarantee that a Greencastle-based company, McCormick Transport Limited, will supply 150 jobs in dredging, oil rigging, supply boating and tug boating, if the Department of Enterprise, Trade, and Employment will provide two to eight weeks of upskilling courses to unemployed fishermen at Greencastle Fisheries College. With very short training in ship construction, ship stability, ship cargo work, lifeboat certificate and efficient deckhand certification, EDH, unemployed deckhands, skippers, mates, and engineers will qualify for these 150 jobs.

I guarantee that Beattie Fuels will provide 45 jobs in truck driving, unloading, and yard operation at Killybegs if the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will permit the company to use Killybegs Harbour as a point for importing bulk coal and fuel. I propose this along with my colleague, Deputy Dinny McGinley.

I present a potential 240 jobs to the Tánaiste, 60 fewer than Michael O’Leary proposed. All they require are single telephone calls to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, to FÁS, and to Enterprise Ireland. As a politician I work in a mass media environment. The media challenged me last week and I have responded by presenting this proposal to the Minister of State. It involves 60 fewer jobs than Michael O’Leary proposed but it requires only three telephone calls. Jobs can be created if we get rid of the red tape, regulation and bureaucracy, apply some common sense and get back to basics.

Deputy John O’Mahony: Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  For 435,000 people, 86,000 of them under 25, the only thing they think of night, noon and morning is the possibility of getting a job or recovering from the trauma of having lost a job. They are not worried about who is going to be the next Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the next Minister of State with responsibility for food or the next Irish Commissioner — they want a job. People want to work. They do not want social welfare. Young teachers, architects, engineers and solicitors are desperate to work. They do not need to go back to education because they already have their qualifications. There is also another group who left school early during the Celtic tiger years and who now have neither a job nor an education.

What is needed in response to this is a plan to provide jobs that will give people and their families a sense of hope for the future. They want solutions. Fine Gael, with this motion, proposes some of those solutions. It is a plan. It may not be the be all and end all, but it is a plan. It provides hope for young people, upskilling for those who need it and expanded community employment schemes, to mention but a few areas.

I warmly welcome the initiative by Dr. Martin McAleese, called “Your Country, Your Call”, to encourage people to come up with ideas to create employment and to provide incentives in the process. The only approach of the Government to date has been the line that the economy must be fixed first and the jobs will follow. We heard the exact words from the Minister of State, Deputy Mansergh, when he said earlier that the jobs will follow “a bit later”. “A bit later” is no good for the 500,000 people who are unemployed.

The stimulus approach has been provided by many countries, it is working in many countries and we need it here. I urge the immediate reinstatement of the sports capital funding, which would have a positive effect in every town, village and parish in the country. In one fell swoop, it would create employment, get extra taxes into Government coffers, provide extra recreational facilities for young people and, in doing so, get rid of many of the ills of modern society. I commend the motion to the House.

[387]Deputy Pat Breen: Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  I welcome the opportunity to contribute to this debate. I congratulate Deputy Varadkar for bringing this very timely issue before the House this week. Our unemployment rates are now at 12.9%, among the highest in the OECD countries, and in the period from January to October 2009 a new economic report stated that Ireland had the second highest unemployment rate in the 15 to 24 age group in the 25 countries compared, which is very serious.

There is real concern, particularly in regard to the number of people who have signed on the live register in the first three months of last year. We have to break the cycle of unemployment. What is needed is creative and innovative thinking but, more importantly, it will require the determination of the Government to create the environment where people who have ideas and can create jobs are given the necessary support.

I received a telephone call last week from a young man in north Clare in my constituency whose family have been involved in the tourism business all their lives and have an established business. The young man wanted to acquire another property adjacent to his own property but the banks turned down his application for a loan despite having his account books and records. Despite the fact the banks are advertising along the lines of “Come in and talk to us. We will give you a loan”, they are not giving out loans. The reality is that the taxpayers’ money which has been injected into the banks through NAMA is not resulting in the flow of credit to businesses.

We will lose out on a generation of young people. Many of the graduates will face the dole queues or emigrate if we do not exploit the best ideas available. Like Deputy O’Mahony, I congratulate Mr. Martin McAleese on his initiative, “Your Country, Your Call”, which is geared to supporting ideas whereby we hope we can create jobs. The Government should follow the lead of Dr. McAleese and set up a national think tank where all job creation ideas could be fed to those with real potential and acted upon. We should be compiling a skills database of unemployed workers throughout the country and making this database available to FÁS, to new and existing companies which are looking for staff, and to organisations such as Shannon Development, Enterprise Ireland, the IDA and other job creation agencies.

Unemployment in my area, the mid-west region, is 1% higher than the national average. There was an 11% drop in the numbers employed in industries in the Shannon free zone last year. Shannon Airport is the key economic driver in the region for the creation of aviation jobs and will be pivotal to any recovery in the region. One of the proposals with the potential to create jobs is the Lynxs Cargo project, and I would reiterate the urgency of giving this project the go-ahead. However, more is required. Passenger numbers have dived at the airport and further turbulence is in the air, with the loss of 18 Ryanair destinations on the cards.

The Government and its agencies have a role to play. Fine Gael has a plan for job creation. The Government should get on with doing the job and make unemployment a priority.

Deputy Denis Naughten: Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  FÁS is projecting that 335 jobs will be lost every working day this year. The Government is directionless and devoid of ideas. The only prospect for our young is to emigrate, and those who cannot emigrate will be left to waste away on the live register. This summer, our best and brightest will graduate. They will have a qualification in one hand and a Ryanair ticket in the other because no alternative is being offered to them by this Government. We need these young skilled people to help us out of the economic quagmire. They are our future. Without them, we will not have a smart economy, despite the State having invested €60,000 in the education of each scientist and engineer.

Fine Gael has developed a detailed plan to keep these skilled young people and thousands more who are currently unemployed in Ireland. Our stimulus plan will create 100,000 new jobs [388]over four years by bringing high-speed broadband to 1 million homes throughout the country, by ensuring that when one turns on the tap, one has water one can drink, by cutting energy costs in every home in this country by €1,100 per annum, by producing half of our electricity from renewables within ten years and, at the same time, by giving elderly people a fair return on their savings which will be put to work on job creation instead of bailing out the banks.

We have to think smart and we have to use what is available to us. For example, take the State-owned broadband network. By bringing together its elements, we can create 18,000 jobs, 10,000 of which would be in the private sector and could be sustainable in the long term. In addition, we need dramatically improved competitiveness throughout the country. We must open our minds and innovate, not stagnate. I commend the motion to the House.

Deputy Simon Coveney: Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  I thank Deputy Varadkar for bringing this motion before the House. Despite the distractions we have had in politics in recent weeks, the key issue for people in their homes today is jobs.

As my speaking time is short, I want to focus on two points. First, I wish to deal with assistance programmes and structures for small businesses that are struggling. I was involved in launching a small business support scheme in Cork last November which put together a panel of approximately 40 business volunteers who are acting as advisers and mentors to small businesses seeking help at present. In three months, more than 50 companies have received advice and assistance through this scheme.

This is the kind of work the Government should be doing. Across the country, there are thousands of SMEs which have never before had to deal with recession. They do not know how to change their business plans and deal with staffing issues, debt issues, communications with banks and so on. They need advice and they need it for free. Despite this, we are not changing the structures of delivery that the State has in place to help small businesses in such situations.

We are still sticking with the same structures we had in place during the Celtic tiger years and that is not good enough. The various Government speakers tonight spoke about budgets that are being spent in different areas and schemes which are being expanded. What we need is new thinking, new and efficient ways of delivering that give better value for money, and better results for the money put in but this is not happening.

  8 o’clock

The second issue is Fine Gael’s big idea, which we have been trying to promote for more than a year and which is titled, NewERA. It is a stimulus package which focuses on building new infrastructure, something which is not being delivered, despite the comments of the Tánaiste last night and what I expect the Minister will say in a few minutes time about broadband delivery and so on. We are not building the new infrastructure that is needed to be the arteries for development and progress and change over the next five, ten, 15 or 20 years. It is not happening quickly enough. Instead of spending more money on broken structures in the plan to deliver better water infrastructure, let us look at how we are delivering that infrastructure and those services and change the way we do it. We need to modernise through reform in the semi-State sector.

Deputy Michael Ring: Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  I am delighted to speak on this motion and I compliment my colleague, Deputy Leo Varadkar on tabling it. I say to both the Minister and the Civil Service that we need a new way to deal with the problems of the country. Those working in the local authorities, in the county enterprise boards, in the Civil Service, are in safe, secure jobs. They never have to take a chance. People in business who are trying to create employment are over-regulated. We have been talking about this for the past ten years and nobody has done anything about it. We [389]are depending now on small businesses because we will not be getting many more multinational companies to come here. In my county we have Allergan and Baxter; we are delighted to have them and we hope we can hold on to them.

We are going to have to build from the bottom up and that means small businesses. They have been attacked for the past ten years. I know people who got out of business because they were sick and tired of being over-regulated, sick and tired of inspectors calling to their business, sick and tired of employing people to do paperwork for the State, creating employment for the people who never had to take a risk, yet these people were not rewarded, they were not helped and they did not get the support they needed. It is time for new thinking in the Civil Service, new thinking in councils, new thinking in the county enterprise boards. I was in Dunhill in Waterford yesterday where 100 people are employed. They could employ 300 more people if there was less regulation and if they got a small bit of support from the State instead of the State always trying to take away things from them.

People are over-regulated and I want to know what the Government plans to do about it. Fine Gael has proposals to deal with over-regulation because it has to stop. We have to stop these daft EU rules. Ireland goes ten steps further than France and every place else with regard to EU regulations to make sure our people cannot do business in this country. We need small businesses and we need people to take risks.

Deputy Brian Hayes: Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  I wish to put two ideas to the House. In 2007 there were approximately 180,000 people unemployed and now the number is more than 430,000 yet the number of PLC courses and places has risen by only 8,000. In 2007, a total of 30,000 PLC courses were available in colleges of further education and now it is a total of 38,000 but with no increase for next year. If we are serious about retraining opportunities for people who are laid off and unemployed, one of the most cost-effective means of delivering progression courses is through further education. I ask the Government to lift the cap on PLC courses over the next number of months so that we can radically increase the number of people who can obtain FETAC levels six, seven and eight courses within these colleges.

I ask the Government to consider my second idea. The Fine Gael Party has proposed an internship programme dedicated to upskilling and providing opportunities for young graduates. There are 2,500 unemployed teachers in the country who are currently on the dole. They cannot get a look in when it comes to substitution teaching work in schools because many retired teachers are taking this substitution work and this is a scandal in this day and age with so many people unemployed. If a person with a bachelor of education degree spends two years out of education, he or she will be required to spend another three or four years in order to upskill. We have gaps all over our primary and secondary school system. There should be a system to ensure that these young, bright, talented graduates in education are put into the school system. The Fine Gael proposal as set out in the substantive motion would ensure that graduates are given opportunities to get into professional training. This can be done. No new opportunities have been provided for young people who graduated from St. Pat’s or UCD or other colleges in the past year. They want to teach and are prepared to teach at very small rates of pay as a means of getting experience. These are the same people who should be given an opportunity to get temporary whole-time places and permanent places when the economy turns, as inevitably it will. These are ideas that could work and which would make a significant difference when it comes to giving new opportunities to people currently out of work.

Deputy John Perry: Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  I congratulate the Fine Gael spokesman on enterprise, trade and employment, Deputy Leo Varadkar, in bringing forward this very important policy, an eight-point plan for job creation. There are many disastrous consequences of the mismanagement of the country by this Fianna Fáil-Green Government. The two greatest disasters for every parent and [390]grandparent in the country are the rising level of youth unemployment and the reappearance of forced emigration.

The consequences of Government incompetence are visible everywhere in Sligo-Leitrim. Before Christmas, GlaxoSmithKline announced the closure of its Stiefel plant in Sligo with the loss of 250 jobs. Further bad news followed when it was confirmed that the Abbott Ireland plant at Ballytivnan is to axe 41 full-time jobs. The closure of the Tiscali call centre with the loss of 160 jobs is a further devastating blow to Sligo-Leitrim. These closures will have a major impact on the local economy.

Youth unemployment is a problem of particular urgency. It leads to great emotional anxiety among both parents and students. Youth unemployment is a problem that diminishes us all. It not only damages individual families, it corrodes entire communities. The big risk is that it will cause permanent damage to individuals, families and the economy.

Today’s school-leavers and graduates are experiencing the worst employment market for many years. Recent graduates have done everything society asked of them. They worked hard to get a good education. They are ready and anxious to work and now they cannot get a job. They do not want social welfare. What they want is the opportunity to work and earn their way in life.

As in the past, it now seems that this Fianna Fáil Government plans to rely on emigration as its main economic strategy. The lack of domestic job opportunity is forcing young Irish people to take the one-way ticket abroad to find a job. This is a national tragedy. There is no credit flowing. There is no confidence and no credit. NAMA is delayed by 18 months and there is no evidence of the Government’s solution even starting to work.

Fine Gael’s proposal for a national recovery bank would get credit into business. A thriving SME sector will be key to Ireland’s recovery. What we now have is an economy with no confidence and no credit. This situation is directly due to this Government’s incompetence. Without confidence and credit, the economy cannot recover.

Fine Gael is the only party to present concrete, effective measures to protect existing jobs and create new ones, as well as bringing down business costs and helping struggling companies to stay afloat. The economy is on the floor, the banks are doing nothing for the economy. It is an appalling situation. The Minister has said many times that the banks will give credit. I am in business and I speak to business people every day. It is not happening. Jobs are being lost as we speak. We have nearly 500,000 people unemployed and there is massive emigration. It is a tragedy to think that the SMEs, the backbone of this economy, are on the floor and this Government is standing idly by and doing nothing.

Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources (Deputy Eamon Ryan): Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  I am thrilled to be able to speak about the NewERA proposal. It would be the quango to end all quangos — the HSE on steroids.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  No, no.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  It would be a bizarre six-humped corporate camel. Fine Gael is proposing that 100 officials in the Department of the Taoiseach should be running our electricity, gas and broadband grids, as well as our water services, our forests and bogs and our building insulation industry. It is bizarre. I do not think it has been thought through.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  It has been very much thought through.

[391]Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  I do not think it would work. I know it would not work. Some elements of Fine Gael’s energy proposals make sense. We are providing for smart metering and electric vehicles. We are spending €1 million a week in support of the 3,500 contractors who are involved in the insulation programme. I want to pursue the Grid 25 strategy. The biggest obstacle in the way of Grid 25 is the attempt by Fine Gael and Sinn Féin working in tandem——

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  No, Minister.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  ——to stop this infrastructure from being delivered.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  That is the second time the Minister has said that.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  That is the reality.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  It is wrong.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  That is happening.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  He got away with it three weeks ago.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  It is bizarre to see——

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  It is a wrong thing to say.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  It is bizarre to see Sinn Féin——

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  No. Will the Minister give me a second?

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  One would expect Sinn Féin to be in favour of a project that involves North-South co-operation——

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  That cannot go on. No way.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  ——rather than blocking it.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  The Minister was saying this a month ago.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  It is bizarre to see Fine Gael and Sinn Féin——

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  He cannot keep doing this.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  ——working together to block the critical infrastructure they say they want.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  That is crap.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  I agree that we need to be ambitious with regard to broadband. However, I question Fine Gael’s proposal to spend €50 million of State money this year in a way that would threaten the private sector’s expenditure of between €600 million and €700 million on alternative networks. Fine Gael wanted to give money to Babcock & Brown, but I am glad I made a different decision. If the Government had done so, that money would now be sitting in a bank account in Bondi or in Queensland, rather than being invested in Irish infrastructure, which is where it needs to go. We are delivering. We have doubled broadband numbers. Speeds are increasing through the competition we are bringing in between cable, fixed line and mobile companies. The Fine Gael proposal would stop that competition overnight.

[392]We are making the necessary investment in water services. What is Fine Gael’s position on getting money through water charges? It is unclear how it intends to fund its proposed investment in water services. Deputy Kenny recently failed to clarify what Fine Gael is suggesting it will do. This fundamental question of funding will arise if Fine Gael goes into government. Will Fine Gael be able to convince its possible coalition partners in an alternative Government — the Green Party, the Labour Party or Fianna Fáil — to agree to its proposal to sell off the commercial semi-State companies? If Deputies from the Labour Party get an opportunity to speak before the end of this debate, I would love to hear them answer that question. If it enters negotiations with Fine Gael, will the Labour Party insist that the ESB and Bord Gáis will not be sold? That proposal is as clear as day in Fine Gael’s policy document — it is central to the whole funding arrangement. I do not believe it would be the right thing to do. In my experience, commercial semi-State companies work far better than some of the private equity companies on which other people rely. I look forward to hearing my Labour Party colleagues commenting on whether this project is a viable and flyable element of the NewERA package.

We need to bring confidence back to our country. We are doing it in our budgets. It is crucial for us to do it in the banking industry over the next month. I believe we can do it. We need to provide confidence and a stimulus on the economic and job creation fronts. We are doing that. We set out a clear plan in our smart economy document. We are now delivering on it. The Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs has invested in the Exemplar network, which will deliver the sort of high-speed broadband infrastructure we need to attract businesses to this country. We are seeing the results of that in the investment in cloud computing. Microsoft is spending €500 million on the latest and most energy-efficient data centre. We will and can do it through projects like the green IFSC proposal, which was made by the green enterprise strategy group. The digital content services centre has the potential to provide tens of thousands of jobs and thereby turn this country around. It is already starting to happen. The digital hub is full. The young companies in the new IT area, in particular, are part of it. It needs to go beyond that. We need confidence in our farming and construction industries. It can be delivered by putting people back to work and making our buildings more energy efficient. We are delivering real jobs on the basis of sound policy. The NewERA document is not sound. I look forward to having a lengthy debate on the plan with Deputy Varadkar or any of the other Fine Gael Deputies. It deserves real consideration. When one considers the plan, it comes across as a bizarre and impossible venture.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  No, it is not.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  It would risk everything in the State. Fine Gael wants to get rid of all our successful State companies in one fell swoop and replace them with an unbelievable construct — the quango to end all quangos — in the Department of the Taoiseach. Fine Gael suggests that this body would run the construction, electricity, gas, forestry and water sectors. The proposal simply will not work. The figures behind it are false and phoney. The more we debate it, the more confidence people have that the Government’s proposals are working and will work.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  I wish to share time with Deputies Catherine Byrne and Varadkar.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seamus Kirk  Zoom on Seamus Kirk  Is that agreed? Agreed.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  I wish to correct two aspects of the Minister’s contribution. I am delighted that he is the first Minister to have properly debated the NewERA proposal with us. We like that.

[393]Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  I am prepared to have hours of debate on it.

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  We clearly believe it can work. It can do much more than the Minister thinks it can do. It involves new thinking and a new way of doing business. We are not afraid to make changes and to do things in new ways. That is what it is about. I hope the Minister will let us know when he is available to debate and go through the plan. It has been endorsed by many professional people outside politics because it is a good document. It has been thought through. It is planned and it can work. It is better than some of the plans I am seeing from the Minister’s side of the House. Tonight is the second time the Minister has suggested that Fine Gael is against the Grid 25 strategy. I ran to the Chamber when he did it a few weeks ago but I missed him because he had gone out the door. I advise him not to do it again. It is wrong to do what he has done.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Will the Deputy help me to get it delivered?

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  It is a lie.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Will he support the delivery of that grid? Will he act it out on the ground in reality?

Deputy Damien English: Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  The Minister may remember that on the last day before the Christmas holidays, I stood here and had a proper and reasonable debate with him. I spent five minutes setting out Fine Gael’s position in this regard before he came back with a bit of garbage. If he reads the transcript of the debate, he will see that I clearly outlined where Fine Gael stands on this issue. We want it to happen faster than the Minister does.

We believe the Minister’s approach might or might not work. It might get delayed in the courts for ten or 15 years like the project in Boyle, which is still in the courts. We want the grid to be developed because we know how important it is. We are in touch with the people. We are aware that there might be a better way of doing it. It might be wrong. That remains to be proven. It has not been properly examined. I asked the Minster to consider it properly. I do not believe he has done that. During the debate I mentioned, the Minister gave me a commitment that the reports would be brought before the committee. Tonight, I read an e-mail to the effect that that will not happen, even though the Minister said they should be debated. Likewise, he said he will debate NewERA with us, but he probably will not.

Slowly but surely, the Minister is becoming as bad as his Fianna Fáil colleagues. That is a big disappointment. I singled him out as a guy who would make a difference in this Government, but I have not seen that yet. I hope I see it soon. He should not come in here and accuse me or my party of anything that is untrue. He has tried to claim we are blocking the Grid 25 plan. That is wrong. We want it and we want it fast. It affects my area more than anybody else’s area. We want jobs. We have lost jobs because of a lack of electricity. I know all about it. The Minister should not do again what he has done twice so far. He got away with it. He should not come in here again with it. It is wrong, untrue and unfair.

I want to take a positive approach to tonight’s debate. We hoped to come in here, discuss a few ideas and make some suggestions. That is the way I want to go about it. However, I would like to make one point about the Tánaiste before I continue. I will deal with her record at a later stage. When she spoke last night about the policies of the Government, she said “if we are remiss in anything, it is in terms of getting the message out to the public about what we are doing”. She must not realise that people get that message every week when they receive their social welfare payments of approximately €200, rather than the €800 they used to get when they had a job. They have nowhere to go to work. That strong and clear message hurts [394]them badly. I am fed up of coming in here for a proper debate on jobs, only to hear the same old garbage about how the people are not getting the message that the Government is doing a great job. They are getting the message, but they would rather get a new message.

Fine Gael proposed some new initiatives and ideas last night and tonight. I note that civil servants from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment are present. I have repeatedly asked at committee level for a specific plan for each sector to be devised. No new plan has been produced for the retail sector, for example. I have asked for a specific and targeted plan to be drawn up. We asked the Tánaiste a few weeks ago for predictions from IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland and all the other agencies about where they will go with jobs over the next couple of years. I was told by the Tánaiste and her sneering colleagues that they do not do predictions. They had no problem doing predictions during the good years. The agencies used to predict on a regular basis that 10,000 jobs would be created over three years and all that kind of stuff. I have to say the people need predictions. The Minister spoke about confidence. The people do not have confidence. They are fearful. They do not have any hope. I will not tell the House what the people I meet on a regular basis are suggesting they might do as a consequence of their lack of hope. That is why we want a real urgency brought to the issue with proper plans and targets laid out. Fine Gael’s NewERA policy could be one such plan. I accept the Government will want to change some of it but most of its proposals are good.

Last night, placements and internships were suggested as another employment creation measure. Many in the public sector tell us they would be happy to take a day or two off as they have paid off their mortgages and raised their families but they are not approached to accommodate internships. The public service is there to be reformed. It is time we had a real public service that does not get slagged off by the likes of Michael O’Leary or someone in the pub on a Friday night. We need to have a public service in which people have faith and confidence. Many of the unemployed could be engaged in the public service at a low cost.

Fine Gael suggested a loan guarantee scheme before Christmas. The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment said on one of her Sunday afternoon chats on radio, just like the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources does, that she is looking at it. Will they stop looking at it and just do it? We need action now as 2010 could be the worst year for job losses. The time for talking is over; it is action we want. If the Government cannot draw up its plans, it can use Fine Gael’s.

Deputy Catherine Byrne: Information on Catherine Byrne  Zoom on Catherine Byrne  It is hard to be positive when debating unemployment but we need to be for the young people who need a job and want to continue living in this country. They do not want to be a statistic in the 85,000 youth unemployed or forced to emigrate. They want to stay in their country in which they have families and friends, using the skills they learned through their education.

Many young people in south west Dublin inner city do not have an education or an option to emigrate. They will be just left alone. For many of them, even the courses provided in the local community have failed to bring them some level of education. The Government believes FÁS is the solution. However, the agency is only a sticking plaster. A person on the dole for over three months is obliged to attend interviews at FÁS to discuss job opportunities. In theory this is good but in practice one size does not fit all. Some of the opportunities or retraining offered are impossible. Last year, FÁS interviewed 64,000 people but I still do not know how many of them got jobs.

Many gifted craftsmen, such as plumbers and carpenters, have been made casualties of the economic downturn. Many of them feel they have been thrown on the scrap heap because many of them will never have the opportunity to work again, particularly in their chosen trade. The other day I met one such 64 year old worker who went for an interview at FÁS at which he was offered a job in a charity shop. I am not knocking charity shops but he was told his first [395]role would be to take clothes out of bags and then hang them on hangers. If he advanced after that stage, he would be allowed use the cash register. This was humiliating for this hard-working man who has never been on the dole before. This is another opportunity for the Government to tick FÁS’s box.

Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  Over the past several weeks, politics has been dominated by personalities due to the resignations of George Lee and Déirdre de Búrca from the Oireachtas and Deputies Willie O’Dea and Trevor Sargent from ministerial office. Politics is not about personalities but about the State’s 4.5 million citizens and, particularly, the 437,000 on the live register. This motion’s focus is on the 85,910 people under the age of 25 on the live register. Not only are one third of all young men signing on but 40% of all young people under the age of 25 are dependent on social welfare through either jobseeker’s allowance, jobseeker’s benefit, one-parent family payment or invalidity benefit. This is a real indictment of the country. This is what must be discussed in Parliament.

Reading this morning’s newspapers, I was disappointed there was not a single line on last night’s one and a half hour debate on jobs. Then on the radio I had to listen to David Davin-Power, Aine Lawlor and Dr. Elaine Byrne criticising politicians for only being interested in political soap opera and personalities. Every Member knows that yesterday’s ministerial resignation by Deputy Sargent took ten minutes of Dáil time yet we spent three hours debating the jobs crisis over the past two days, along with attending many committee meetings.

I object to and resent people who spend their time in lecture halls and libraries in Trinity College, Dublin and studios in Donnybrook telling us we are overpaid and out of touch with people. Could there be any people more out of touch with reality than the Irish media when they think it is appropriate to spend three weeks talking about which individual politician did or did not resign, why they did and who pushed them? What a load of rubbish. What we should be doing is talking about the issues which at least Members in the Chamber tonight did.

This motion has put forward eight ideas for job creation. It is positive in that it does not target the Government or is personal against the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment or the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources. It puts forward the Fine Gael idea that jobs should be at the centre of all economic policies, that there should be a national internship programme, which unfortunately, the Government will not accept. Neither will the Government accept the proposal for a second-chance education for 10,000 construction workers who left school early without academic qualifications. Nor will it accept the apprentice guarantee, modelled on the community youth training programme that FÁS had some years ago to take on apprentices who cannot finish their training to build community centres and public buildings. Nor will it accept the expansion of community employment schemes from 5,000. It used to be 44,000 and could easily be increased to 29,000.

The motion proposed a work share programme based on the German Kurzarbeitergeld scheme and the Dutch and Rhode Island short-time working subsidies. This would allow an employer with 100 employees who must lay off ten workers to put 20 on short time while the Government would subsidise the difference in salaries and get them training when not working. The German scheme has sustained 500,000 jobs so far but the Government will not support this proposal. Fine Gael proposed a jobs tax cut using the carbon tax not as a revenue grab but a chance to reduce employers’ PRSI contributions. Again, the Government will not support this.

I look forward to a debate on our NewERA policy. The proposal for the holding company, which would not be a quango, is to find a mechanism to get capital back into Ireland.

Deputy Eamon Ryan: Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  The holding of everything company.

[396]Deputy Leo Varadkar: Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  There is much money for investment from private pensions, sovereign wealth and hedge funds. The NewERA policy will get those moneys invested in the economy by using the semi-State bodies and utility companies. The Government, unfortunately, has no plan to attract capital into the State, other than through NAMA which is not working.

We have tried to move beyond personality politics with these eight constructive ideas. Unfortunately, the Government will not support he motion tonight. That is the real shame and disgrace of what we have seen in politics in the past several weeks.

Amendment put.

The Dáil divided: Tá, 78; Níl, 74.

Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Ahern, Dermot. Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Ahern, Michael.
Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel. Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry.
Information on Chris Andrews  Zoom on Chris Andrews  Andrews, Chris. Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán.
Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  Aylward, Bobby. Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall.
Information on Aine Brady  Zoom on Aine Brady  Brady, Áine. Information on Cyprian Brady  Zoom on Cyprian Brady  Brady, Cyprian.
Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny. Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John.
Information on Thomas Byrne  Zoom on Thomas Byrne  Byrne, Thomas. Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat.
Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Collins, Niall. Information on Margaret Conlon  Zoom on Margaret Conlon  Conlon, Margaret.
Information on Sean Connick  Zoom on Sean Connick  Connick, Seán. Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary.
Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian. Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John.
Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán. Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin.
Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Dempsey, Noel. Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy.
Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy. Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank.
Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael. Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Michael.
Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán. Information on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Flynn, Beverley.
Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Gogarty, Paul. Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Gormley, John.
Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary. Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Harney, Mary.
Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán. Information on Jackie Healy-Rae  Zoom on Jackie Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire. Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy.
Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter. Information on Brendan Kenneally  Zoom on Brendan Kenneally  Kenneally, Brendan.
Information on Michael Kennedy  Zoom on Michael Kennedy  Kennedy, Michael. Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony.
Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Kitt, Michael P. Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom.
Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian. Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  Lenihan, Conor.
Information on Michael Lowry  Zoom on Michael Lowry  Lowry, Michael. Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas.
Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  McGrath, Mattie. Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  McGrath, Michael.
Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John. Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  Mansergh, Martin.
Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John. Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael.
Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael. Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M.J.
Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon. Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  O’Brien, Darragh. Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie.
Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie. Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  O’Donoghue, John.
Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel. Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  O’Hanlon, Rory.
Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Batt. Information on Ned O'Keeffe  Zoom on Ned O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Edward.
Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  O’Rourke, Mary. Information on Christy O'Sullivan  Zoom on Christy O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Christy.
Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter. Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Power, Seán.
Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Roche, Dick. Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon.
Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor. Information on Eamon Scanlon  Zoom on Eamon Scanlon  Scanlon, Eamon.
Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan. Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel.
Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary. Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  White, Mary Alexandra.



Níl
Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James. Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Barrett, Seán.
Information on Joe Behan  Zoom on Joe Behan  Behan, Joe. Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat.
Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P. Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard.
Information on Ulick Burke  Zoom on Ulick Burke  Burke, Ulick. Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan.
Information on Catherine Byrne  Zoom on Catherine Byrne  Byrne, Catherine. Information on Joe Carey  Zoom on Joe Carey  Carey, Joe.
Information on Deirdre Clune  Zoom on Deirdre Clune  Clune, Deirdre. Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul.
Information on Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Coonan, Noel J. Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe.
Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon. Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Creed, Michael.
Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  Creighton, Lucinda. Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  D’Arcy, Michael.
Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy. Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Doyle, Andrew.
Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J. Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien.
Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  Enright, Olwyn. Information on Frank Feighan  Zoom on Frank Feighan  Feighan, Frank.
Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin. Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Flanagan, Charles.
Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  Flanagan, Terence. Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon.
Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Hayes, Brian. Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom.
Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Higgins, Michael D. Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Hogan, Phil.
Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan. Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul.
Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Kenny, Enda. Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán.
Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen. Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Pádraic.
Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  McEntee, Shane. Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny.
Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian. Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe.
Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz. Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia.
Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur. Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis.
Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan. Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael.
Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín. Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Kieran. Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus.
Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim. Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John.
Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian. Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan.
Information on Maureen O'Sullivan  Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Maureen. Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie.
Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John. Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí.
Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat. Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Reilly, James.
Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael. Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  Sheahan, Tom.
Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  Sheehan, P.J. Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  Sherlock, Seán.
Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín. Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David. Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Timmins, Billy.
Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna. Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary.
Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  Varadkar, Leo. Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Pat Carey and John Cregan; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg.

Amendment declared carried.

Question put: “That the motion, as amended, be agreed to.”

The Dáil divided: Tá, 78; Níl, 74.

Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  Ahern, Dermot. Information on Michael Ahern  Zoom on Michael Ahern  Ahern, Michael.
Information on Noel Ahern  Zoom on Noel Ahern  Ahern, Noel. Information on Barry Andrews  Zoom on Barry Andrews  Andrews, Barry.
Information on Chris Andrews  Zoom on Chris Andrews  Andrews, Chris. Information on Seán Ardagh  Zoom on Seán Ardagh  Ardagh, Seán.
Information on Bobby Aylward  Zoom on Bobby Aylward  Aylward, Bobby. Information on Niall Blaney  Zoom on Niall Blaney  Blaney, Niall.
Information on Aine Brady  Zoom on Aine Brady  Brady, Áine. Information on Cyprian Brady  Zoom on Cyprian Brady  Brady, Cyprian.
Information on Johnny Brady  Zoom on Johnny Brady  Brady, Johnny. Information on John Browne  Zoom on John Browne  Browne, John.
Information on Thomas Byrne  Zoom on Thomas Byrne  Byrne, Thomas. Information on Pat Carey  Zoom on Pat Carey  Carey, Pat.
Information on Niall Collins  Zoom on Niall Collins  Collins, Niall. Information on Margaret Conlon  Zoom on Margaret Conlon  Conlon, Margaret.
Information on Sean Connick  Zoom on Sean Connick  Connick, Seán. Information on Mary Coughlan  Zoom on Mary Coughlan  Coughlan, Mary.
Information on Brian Cowen  Zoom on Brian Cowen  Cowen, Brian. Information on John Cregan  Zoom on John Cregan  Cregan, John.
Information on Ciaran Cuffe  Zoom on Ciaran Cuffe  Cuffe, Ciarán. Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Cullen, Martin.
Information on Noel Dempsey  Zoom on Noel Dempsey  Dempsey, Noel. Information on Jimmy Devins  Zoom on Jimmy Devins  Devins, Jimmy.
Information on Tim Dooley  Zoom on Tim Dooley  Dooley, Timmy. Information on Frank Fahey  Zoom on Frank Fahey  Fahey, Frank.
Information on Michael Finneran  Zoom on Michael Finneran  Finneran, Michael. Information on Michael Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Michael Fitzpatrick  Fitzpatrick, Michael.
Information on Seán Fleming  Zoom on Seán Fleming  Fleming, Seán. Information on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Zoom on Beverley Cooper-Flynn  Flynn, Beverley.
Information on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Zoom on Paul Nicholas Gogarty  Gogarty, Paul. Information on John Gormley  Zoom on John Gormley  Gormley, John.
Information on Mary Hanafin  Zoom on Mary Hanafin  Hanafin, Mary. Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Harney, Mary.
Information on Seán Haughey  Zoom on Seán Haughey  Haughey, Seán. Information on Jackie Healy-Rae  Zoom on Jackie Healy-Rae  Healy-Rae, Jackie.
Information on Máire Hoctor  Zoom on Máire Hoctor  Hoctor, Máire. Information on Billy Kelleher  Zoom on Billy Kelleher  Kelleher, Billy.
Information on Peter Kelly  Zoom on Peter Kelly  Kelly, Peter. Information on Brendan Kenneally  Zoom on Brendan Kenneally  Kenneally, Brendan.
Information on Michael Kennedy  Zoom on Michael Kennedy  Kennedy, Michael. Information on Tony Killeen  Zoom on Tony Killeen  Killeen, Tony.
Information on Michael Kitt  Zoom on Michael Kitt  Kitt, Michael P. Information on Tom Kitt  Zoom on Tom Kitt  Kitt, Tom.
Information on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Zoom on Brian Joseph Lenihan  Lenihan, Brian. Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  Lenihan, Conor.
Information on Michael Lowry  Zoom on Michael Lowry  Lowry, Michael. Information on Tom McEllistrim  Zoom on Tom McEllistrim  McEllistrim, Thomas.
Information on Mattie McGrath  Zoom on Mattie McGrath  McGrath, Mattie. Information on Michael McGrath  Zoom on Michael McGrath  McGrath, Michael.
Information on John McGuinness  Zoom on John McGuinness  McGuinness, John. Information on Dr Martin Mansergh  Zoom on Dr Martin Mansergh  Mansergh, Martin.
Information on John Moloney  Zoom on John Moloney  Moloney, John. Information on Michael Moynihan  Zoom on Michael Moynihan  Moynihan, Michael.
Information on Michael Mulcahy  Zoom on Michael Mulcahy  Mulcahy, Michael. Information on M. J. Nolan  Zoom on M. J. Nolan  Nolan, M.J.
Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Ó Cuív, Éamon. Information on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Zoom on Seán Ó Fearghaíl  Ó Fearghaíl, Seán.
Information on Darragh O'Brien  Zoom on Darragh O'Brien  O’Brien, Darragh. Information on Charlie O'Connor  Zoom on Charlie O'Connor  O’Connor, Charlie.
Information on Willie O'Dea  Zoom on Willie O'Dea  O’Dea, Willie. Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue  O’Donoghue, John.
Information on Noel O'Flynn  Zoom on Noel O'Flynn  O’Flynn, Noel. Information on Rory O'Hanlon  Zoom on Rory O'Hanlon  O’Hanlon, Rory.
Information on Batt O'Keeffe  Zoom on Batt O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Batt. Information on Ned O'Keeffe  Zoom on Ned O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Edward.
Information on Mary O'Rourke  Zoom on Mary O'Rourke  O’Rourke, Mary. Information on Christy O'Sullivan  Zoom on Christy O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Christy.
Information on Peter Power  Zoom on Peter Power  Power, Peter. Information on Seán Power  Zoom on Seán Power  Power, Seán.
Information on Dick Roche  Zoom on Dick Roche  Roche, Dick. Information on Eamon Ryan  Zoom on Eamon Ryan  Ryan, Eamon.
Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent  Sargent, Trevor. Information on Eamon Scanlon  Zoom on Eamon Scanlon  Scanlon, Eamon.
Information on Brendan Smith  Zoom on Brendan Smith  Smith, Brendan. Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Treacy, Noel.
Information on Mary Wallace  Zoom on Mary Wallace  Wallace, Mary. Information on Mary Alexandra White  Zoom on Mary Alexandra White  White, Mary Alexandra.



Níl
Information on James Bannon  Zoom on James Bannon  Bannon, James. Information on Seán Barrett  Zoom on Seán Barrett  Barrett, Seán.
Information on Joe Behan  Zoom on Joe Behan  Behan, Joe. Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen  Breen, Pat.
Information on Thomas P. Broughan  Zoom on Thomas P. Broughan  Broughan, Thomas P. Information on Richard Bruton  Zoom on Richard Bruton  Bruton, Richard.
Information on Ulick Burke  Zoom on Ulick Burke  Burke, Ulick. Information on Joan Burton  Zoom on Joan Burton  Burton, Joan.
Information on Catherine Byrne  Zoom on Catherine Byrne  Byrne, Catherine. Information on Joe Carey  Zoom on Joe Carey  Carey, Joe.
Information on Deirdre Clune  Zoom on Deirdre Clune  Clune, Deirdre. Information on Paul Connaughton  Zoom on Paul Connaughton  Connaughton, Paul.
Information on Noel Coonan  Zoom on Noel Coonan  Coonan, Noel J. Information on Joe Costello  Zoom on Joe Costello  Costello, Joe.
Information on Simon Coveney  Zoom on Simon Coveney  Coveney, Simon. Information on Michael Creed  Zoom on Michael Creed  Creed, Michael.
Information on Lucinda Creighton  Zoom on Lucinda Creighton  Creighton, Lucinda. Information on Michael D'Arcy  Zoom on Michael D'Arcy  D’Arcy, Michael.
Information on Jimmy Deenihan  Zoom on Jimmy Deenihan  Deenihan, Jimmy. Information on Andrew Doyle  Zoom on Andrew Doyle  Doyle, Andrew.
Information on Bernard Durkan  Zoom on Bernard Durkan  Durkan, Bernard J. Information on Damien English  Zoom on Damien English  English, Damien.
Information on Olwyn Enright  Zoom on Olwyn Enright  Enright, Olwyn. Information on Frank Feighan  Zoom on Frank Feighan  Feighan, Frank.
Information on Martin Ferris  Zoom on Martin Ferris  Ferris, Martin. Information on Charles Flanagan  Zoom on Charles Flanagan  Flanagan, Charles.
Information on Terence Flanagan  Zoom on Terence Flanagan  Flanagan, Terence. Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Gilmore, Eamon.
Information on Brian Hayes  Zoom on Brian Hayes  Hayes, Brian. Information on Tom Hayes  Zoom on Tom Hayes  Hayes, Tom.
Information on Michael D. Higgins  Zoom on Michael D. Higgins  Higgins, Michael D. Information on Philip Hogan  Zoom on Philip Hogan  Hogan, Phil.
Information on Brendan Howlin  Zoom on Brendan Howlin  Howlin, Brendan. Information on Paul Kehoe  Zoom on Paul Kehoe  Kehoe, Paul.
Information on Enda Kenny  Zoom on Enda Kenny  Kenny, Enda. Information on Ciaran Lynch  Zoom on Ciaran Lynch  Lynch, Ciarán.
Information on Kathleen Lynch  Zoom on Kathleen Lynch  Lynch, Kathleen. Information on Pádraic McCormack  Zoom on Pádraic McCormack  McCormack, Pádraic.
Information on Shane McEntee  Zoom on Shane McEntee  McEntee, Shane. Information on Dinny McGinley  Zoom on Dinny McGinley  McGinley, Dinny.
Information on Finian McGrath  Zoom on Finian McGrath  McGrath, Finian. Information on Joe McHugh  Zoom on Joe McHugh  McHugh, Joe.
Information on Liz McManus  Zoom on Liz McManus  McManus, Liz. Information on Olivia Mitchell  Zoom on Olivia Mitchell  Mitchell, Olivia.
Information on Arthur Morgan  Zoom on Arthur Morgan  Morgan, Arthur. Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten  Naughten, Denis.
Information on Dan Neville  Zoom on Dan Neville  Neville, Dan. Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  Noonan, Michael.
Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Ó Caoláin, Caoimhghín. Information on Aengus O Snodaigh  Zoom on Aengus O Snodaigh  Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
Information on Kieran O'Donnell  Zoom on Kieran O'Donnell  O’Donnell, Kieran. Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd  O’Dowd, Fergus.
Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  O’Keeffe, Jim. Information on John O'Mahony  Zoom on John O'Mahony  O’Mahony, John.
Information on Brian O'Shea  Zoom on Brian O'Shea  O’Shea, Brian. Information on Jan O'Sullivan  Zoom on Jan O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Jan.
Information on Maureen O'Sullivan  Zoom on Maureen O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Maureen. Information on Willie Penrose  Zoom on Willie Penrose  Penrose, Willie.
Information on John Perry  Zoom on John Perry  Perry, John. Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  Quinn, Ruairí.
Information on Pat Rabbitte  Zoom on Pat Rabbitte  Rabbitte, Pat. Information on Dr James Reilly  Zoom on Dr James Reilly  Reilly, James.
Information on Michael Ring  Zoom on Michael Ring  Ring, Michael. Information on Tom Sheahan  Zoom on Tom Sheahan  Sheahan, Tom.
Information on P. J. Sheehan  Zoom on P. J. Sheehan  Sheehan, P.J. Information on Sean Sherlock  Zoom on Sean Sherlock  Sherlock, Seán.
Information on Róisín Shortall  Zoom on Róisín Shortall  Shortall, Róisín. Information on Emmet Stagg  Zoom on Emmet Stagg  Stagg, Emmet.
Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton  Stanton, David. Information on Billy Timmins  Zoom on Billy Timmins  Timmins, Billy.
Information on Joanna Tuffy  Zoom on Joanna Tuffy  Tuffy, Joanna. Information on Mary Upton  Zoom on Mary Upton  Upton, Mary.
Information on Leo Varadkar  Zoom on Leo Varadkar  Varadkar, Leo. Information on Jack Wall  Zoom on Jack Wall  Wall, Jack.

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Pat Carey and John Cregan; Níl, Deputies Paul Kehoe and Emmet Stagg.

Question declared carried.


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