Social Welfare Bill 2010: Committee and Remaining Stages

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Seanad Eireann Debate
Vol. 206 No. 7
Unrevised

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Sections 1 and 2 agreed to.

Question proposed: “That section 3 stand part of the Bill.”

Senator Nicky McFadden: Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  This section deals with cuts to the working age payments, including payments to carers, the disabled, the blind and widows. Fine Gael is completely opposed to it.

Senator Phil Prendergast: Information on Phil Prendergast  Zoom on Phil Prendergast  The Labour Party is also opposed to it because of the cuts made.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  The Minister of State, Deputy Mary White, is a member of a political party and understands the concept of being in partnership. This is the most callous section of the Bill as in it a cut is imposed on carers. A carer is someone who looks after, protects and minds people. If the Minister of State is talking about social justice, how can she justify this section which penalises carers? Some 42,000 family carers are to be affected. Why are carers being penalised? Will the Minister of State explain this in simple language, given that I do not see equity in the section? Is she telling me a person who cares for another is not saving the State money? The section, if passed, will compound the cut made last year. It compounds the withdrawal of the Christmas bonus double payment, moving the figure from a cut of 4% to 10%. What have the Green Party and Fianna Fáil against carers?

  7 o’clock

This section is completely unfair. As the chief executive of the Carers Association stated, it is completely counter-productive. Why has the Minister of State singled out the blind, carers and the disabled? Two weeks ago the Green Party opted to leave government, yet tonight the Minister of State will stand by these cuts. She is telling the people who need money the most, the most vulnerable, that they have no protection from the State. The first task of the Government is to look after all citizens. Is the Minister of State telling me that, at a time when the national debt stands at many billions of euro, the Green Party is putting monetary figures ahead of people? If we pass this section, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party will have abandoned the people who need Government assistance the most.

I repeat the question I asked on Second Stage: why is a specific group on welfare payments being singled out? The Minister for Finance, Deputy Brian Lenihan, speaks about turning the corner. As far as I can see, the only group he is turning in on comprises the people who need us the most.

Is the Government really stating it will treat people differently in this section of the Bill? There are 161,000 carers who save the State €2.5 billion a year, yet the Government is taking €416 off them again.

[478]The explanatory memorandum of the Bill uses great language to state it is “to give legislative effect”. What does “legislative effect” mean? It means the Government is cutting what it is giving the carer, the blind and those with a disability, that it is taking money from them. That is what the Government is doing and the Minister camouflages it in lovely words, stating “reduction in the weekly rates of social assistance”. Is that not the punch line, assistance to assist those who need help?

Forget about ideology, let us look at the brass tacks here. On my phone, there are texts from persons who are on social welfare, carers and persons with a disability who are trying to manage and they can not manage. They are not on FÁS junkets to space or to Florida——

Senator Nicky McFadden: Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  Or getting their nails done.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  ——or they are not down in the hair-dressing salon getting their nails varnished. These are ordinary persons who are honest-to-God citizens who are struggling.

I challenge the Minister of State, Deputy White, and her colleagues in government to come out on to the streets and to the townlands to meet those who are struggling. It is all fine and dandy to state we must do so much. There is no difficulty in saying that. We all accept it. However, what the Government is stating here is that persons with a disability will be severely punished. I do not think the Government understands the pain and hardship that people are suffering. I do not think the Minister of State gets it. I wish she did. If she did, she would take this legislation and amend it without dividing the House, and she would save the Members opposite the ignominy and embarrassment of having to vote for something they do not really want to vote on.

Can the Minister of State genuinely explain to me why the Government has ring-fenced a particular group of people and singled them out for specific cuts? Deputy Noonan, on budget night, showed the Government the figure that could be saved by not doing this. How could they, not only as politicians but as persons, the 14 or 18 around the Cabinet table — I do not know how many of them are around it at this stage because I am not sure whether the Minister of State’s party is in or out, something she might clarify — come in and make this cut?

The Government is telling people it is fine to be austere and we all have bought in to some level of cuts, but the people who need it the most are being abandoned by Fianna Fáil and the Greens. If we allow this section to be passed we are polarising society further and we are being unfair and far from giving assistance we are giving no assistance and no care. What has the Government got against the carer? What has it got against those with a disability? What is it? They do not know what they have done to the Government, and neither does Fine Gael and the Labour Party, and we are not playing politics with this.

Every day in my job as a politician and in my role as a citizen, I meet people who have a disability and who are carers. They are the people we should have the most respect for and should help because, as this Bill states, it is assistance to assist them. Far from assisting them, we are rendering them second class. Is that what the Government wants to do? Where I come from, a budget is not about figures. It is not, to borrow a phrase from a previous Taoiseach, the late Mr. Haughey, “as cold as a computer printout”. It is about people and people, to me, matter.

In my mind, I have a picture of the people about whom I am talking, and those people have not got luxury lifestyles. They are not down in the five-star hotels in Cork. They are not inside the glitzy shopping malls purchasing grandiose Christmas gifts. They are stuggling and they are watching what they spend. They are being asked to take a 4% decrease today, and yet we talk about the Taoiseach and the Ministers taking a hit which they can far more easily afford. If [479]the Government was serious about reforming the political class, the Government would have done it much better than it did rather than picking on the people who need it the most.

Senator Nicky McFadden: Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  These two sections are affecting disability allowance and carer’s allowance. There were cuts of €8 a week in the budget on Tuesday last and last year the same cuts were applied to both of these categories. An €8 cut to disability allowance in this year’s budget along with €8.30 in last year’s budget means a person is down €847.60 a year since 2008. The new rate of disability of €188 per week is down from €196 in 2010. The new rate of carer’s allowance is down to €204 per week from €212 in 2010. This erosion of social welfare allowances for people who are most vulnerable is wrong.

Senator O’Toole made an impassioned plea for the blind, who were also affected last year in the blind pension. They were not referred to by the Minister in his wrapping-up of Second Stage. I have grave concerns as to how the blind will afford to pay for food for their guide dogs and veterinary bills. The Minister, Deputy Ó Cuív, omitted to mention those in his wrapping-up speech.

Senator Phil Prendergast: Information on Phil Prendergast  Zoom on Phil Prendergast  Like the other speakers, I want to say that budget 2011 is really an unmitigated disaster for hundreds of thousands of families on low incomes and it fails the fairness test. The public was certainly prepared for harsh measures in this budget but just like every other Lenihan budget, the wealthy are protected by piling the pain on low and middle-income earners and cutting services.

Carers, those with a disability, the blind and the unemployed have been hammered and some of them face being unable to eat or to heat their homes properly. The average income loss for families of the combined tax and social welfare package is estimated at 7% or €43 per week. This is a despicable part of the Bill.

Minister for Social Protection (Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív): Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  In fact, the ESRI did an analysis of the budget and it has proven it is very progressive and that, proportionately, those on the higher deciles are paying much more money. I suggest that the Senators consult the ESRI report, which will clarify that issue for them.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  That is extraordinary.

Senator John Paul Phelan: Information on John Paul Phelan  Zoom on John Paul Phelan  We are talking about carers.

Senator Nicky McFadden: Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  They are saving the State an extraordinary amount.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  Let us call a spade a spade here. Let us look at what Inclusion Ireland, which is not a political body, stated. The measures in the budget means those on disability allowances are down €847.60 a year since 2008. I refer to those on disability allowance and on the carer’s allowance. Whether the Minister likes it, he is attacking the living standards of the people who need the most. In the Minister’s absence I spoke about the people we are discussing. They are not in five star hotels in Dublin, Cork or Galway. They are not out in fancy restaurants. They are not buying extravagant gifts for Christmas. The quality of life of these people, and they are people with a disability, has been affected again. The Minister announced an €8 cut on top of a cut of €8.30 last year. This is a cut of €16.30 over two years. In 2008 it was €204.30 and in the budget announced last Tuesday it was €188. Do the bureaucrats and Members sitting around the Cabinet table understand that disability is one part of living but that extra costs are associated with living with a disability?

In fairness to the Minister, he acknowledges that carers do huge work on behalf of the State and they save it a fortune. Their benefit is being cut again. The Minister has responsibility for [480]social protection, which has to do with social equality and protection of the citizens. Does this mean the national disability strategy is in rag order and gone completely? I cannot comprehend where the Government is coming from regarding social justice. If I had never been involved in politics I would have been involved with the COPE Foundation, a disability group in Cork. I see the hardship people endure. Every day in my role as a politician I see the work done by carers. Yesterday afternoon, I was in the house of an elderly gentleman. I am not exaggerating when I state that out of ignorance of the facts or out of fear, the man was completely petrified that no home help would come to him. The Minister knows I could show him the e-mails and text messages I have received from gnáth daoine, ordinary people who are not involved in Fine Gael, the Labour Party, the mass media or e-mail campaigns and who do not go on the public airwaves. They are desperately faoi bhrú, under pressure, today because of this and other budgets.

I will not recite the mantra of the Carers Association, which I respect. I will ask why we are cutting the carer’s allowance when they are the only people working to save the State money. Why are we doing this? Why are we being this unfair? This is what I want to hear. In his Second Stage speech, the Minister spoke about reform and stated he has not been in the job long enough. I appreciate this but the Bill flies completely in the face of reform. I am no genius, but I understand people.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Senator Buttimer raised a number of issues. I apologise for leaving the Second Stage debate but I had to speak in the Dáil. I have two Bills going through the Houses simultaneously. I would not have left otherwise because I believe in listening to what people have to say.

I should explain how I approached all of this. As I stated, the Department represents approximately 40% of the spend. The idea that one could save money and ignore the big spending Departments is nonsense. It would just not have been possible to do so and make adjustments of the type we had to make. The three big spending departments are the Departments of Education and Skills, Health and Children, and Social Protection. In making cuts in education one has a demographic going against one, along with the fact that the vast bulk of expenditure on education relates to public service wages and therefore relates to various agreements on public service wages. In health, a saving of €600 million is being made and in my Department, which is by far the largest Department, savings of €875 million are being made.

In looking to how I could make these savings, €100 million worth of savings were made through the national employment action programme. Fine Gael keeps telling me that €2 billion worth of fraud is occurring. I have respect for “Prime Time” but I think its figures are grossly exaggerated or, to put it another way, we are doing everything we can in every way we can to try to reduce any payments going to people who are not entitled to them and we have made steady progress. However, if I came in here with an inflated figure of what savings I might make from elimination of fraud or the prevention of it, which is much more important, the Opposition would be telling me it was totally ridiculous and unreal and that I would not be able to deliver the savings. We pencilled in €100 million savings related to the activation of the national employment action programme.

We also pencilled in €60 million in savings through reform of the rent supplement. Most people accept that the rent supplement programme is open to all types of problems. It should not be a long-term programme and I am discussing this with the Minister of State, Deputy Finneran. We will bring in radical reform. In other places, I have outlined the type of steps we will take in this regard.

[481]Before I ever came to the Department I had figured out savings of €30 million were achievable with regard to the money being paid to utilities for the provision of the free telephone and free electricity allowances. This will not in any way affect the people in receipt of the allowance as they will still receive 2,400 units a year. We must be the best paying customer that the electricity companies have because we pay on time every time and 36% of people in receipt of the free electricity allowance never use the full allowance, which means this bill is always paid in full but there is no collection cost. We believe a saving can be made there and we pencilled it in.

We pencilled in a further €50 million saving through a number of steps the Department wants to take with regard to better systems and analysis. This comes back to ensuring those who receive payments should do so. I decided not to reintroduce the treatment benefits, which saved €77 million because it had been due to recommence.

When all of this was done, savings of €533 million still needed to be made. As Senators know, debates were held and consensus was reached on this. From the very beginning, the problem was whether to hit everyone for a little bit. Whatever the sum involved, the matter of principle was whether to make the adjustment through a shallow cut across the board or to exclude large sections and make deeper cuts. This was a hard call to make. Senators might remember earlier in the year when I had not been at the Department for a month I caused a furore throughout the country and startled some of my colleagues with regard to whether it would be better to make the cut across a wide swathe of people or to exclude groups and make higher cuts to get the same amount of money. It is a simple mathematical certainty. I thought it was an issue on which I should at least spend time reflecting. Having examined the matter and listening to the debate that ensued, there seemed to be national consensus that people over the age of 66 should be excluded from the cuts. There seemed to be general consensus that this should be so and I have heard only one Fine Gael Deputy question whether it was the right policy

I was very keen — I hope people will support me on it — to exclude parents in receipt of domiciliary care allowance. The money was not significant so I removed them. So far so good, but this is where I ran into a problem.

My next inclination would have been to exempt people with disabilities. I would not exempt those on illness benefit because that is a short-term payment. One could get the flu and collect illness benefit. I would be inclined to exempt those on invalidity pensions or on disability allowance. The problem is that this broadens it out too much and if I was to add in carers and widows it would get even wider and would amount to approximately 260,000 people. The effect of exempting all these would have been that to save the same amount, I would have had to have added another third to the amount of money I would have had to have taken from the jobseeker’s allowance, but jobseekers are entitled to live too. This is the problem. No matter what number one decides on when one must reduce rates, the more groups that are exempted, the greater the payment that must be taken from the remainder.

This was not an easy decision. We looked at the issue from every angle. I said that
we need a new approach to disability and a new approach will be proposed in the partial capacity Bill. Let us leave politics out of the issue and look honestly at the problem for whoever is in this job next year. Perhaps I will be lucky and I will be here to see this through. The 150,000 who will be affected by the cuts range across a wide spectrum, from those on jobseeker’s allowance right across to the very seriously disabled. If I had some way of separating the more disabled, I could have graduated the cut or made no cut to those, but when dealing with 150,000 people, that meant shifting too much of a burden onto the jobseeker’s allowance. [482] That was my problem. There was also an issue that people on the margins transfer from one scheme to another.

I have huge sympathy for people with disabilities. I have always been involved in working with disability groups and wish there was a way of grading the cuts. However, people in receipt of disability get benefits that jobseekers do not get, namely, the free household package and a free transport pass. The household package is worth approximately €996 a year, roughly €20 a week. Therefore, people on disability who are in receipt of the household benefits package get approximately €20 more than people on jobseeker’s allowance. The question I must ask therefore, is how hard I should hit those on jobseeker’s allowance. I could, perhaps, separate the 150,000 into three groups: disabled, more disabled and most disabled, or into those with the capacity to work and so on. This has been done in other countries, but it is complicated and takes time. If we decided to do it, we could then decide to grade the payment, which would give a much better result. That would be somewhat akin to a costed disability allowance. Members are familiar with the different levels of disability that present in their clinics, and therein lies the problem.

With regard to carer’s allowance, I am fully aware of what carers do. Like every family in the country, I have a close relative who is being cared for and I know the work involved. We should take a look at the position now and what we have preserved. The normal payment for a single person on social welfare is €188 while the carer’s allowance is €204. Therefore, it is a better payment and it remains proportionately better. Carers also receive the respite grant, which I decided not to cut. The respite grant is €1,700 a year, which if divided by 52 is more than €30 a week. Therefore, in monetary terms carer’s allowance amounts to €204 plus €30, which is €234. Also, carers, whether the caree lives with the carer, are entitled to the household benefits package, even if the carer has a working partner. This is worth approximately another €20 a week. While I do now wish to be mercenary about the allowances, we should spell out the provisions I tried to preserve. Carers over the age of 66 get the full rate of payment and suffer no cut.

With regard to carers under 66 years, approximately 28% of them are on half rate carer’s allowance, which means they are receiving an underlying social welfare payment on top of which they get the half rate carer’s allowance. I believe that is fair, although some members of the public service feel they should not get double social welfare payments. I retained all the half rate payments, including the half rate carer’s payment. This was important for them because if I abolished the half rate and left the headline rate the same, I would have hurt those people more. We also have a situation where people caring for two people get an extra payment. Again, I could have cut that payment and left the carer on the headline rate. However, that would have been unfair because there is more work involved in caring for two. The carer’s scheme is the scheme with the best disregards in terms of a partner who is working and may include income or property one has. The disregard for a single person to get the full rate is more than €300 and is more than €600 for a couple. Again, I believe it would be unfair to change this.

One might ask why I took the approach I did. The McCarthy report recommended we get rid of all double payments, but I thought that was wrong. My focus has been on keeping the architecture of the schemes and on keeping and maintaining the significant ancillary benefits. If, on the other hand, I had started exempting carers, I would then have had to have exempted those on disability, widow’s and the blind pensions. That was my €300,000 and then I would have had to have hit the jobseekers. I believe that would have tipped it too much against jobseekers, many of who had employment and commitments but have now hit very hard times. That was my concern. I am not asking people to applaud me or say I am right. All I want to [483]do is to explain in detail the ideas and analysis behind my decisions and why, allowing that I had to make savings, I believed that on balance the decision I made was the better one to make.

I read the Fine Gael proposal with interest but feel it was somewhat optimistic with regard to the savings it could make from tackling fraud. The Department is fairly effective in that area and some of the schemes are virtually fraud proof. There is virtually no fraud with regard to contributory old age pensions. Fine Gael took a different approach from me. That party said that over four years it would hit jobseeker’s allowance by €18. I would not like to make a move like that so quickly. Such a move should be avoided. I believe cutting the allowance to €178 for a single person living alone with no other supports such as free electricity or telephone should be avoided at all costs.

We have increased expenditure on carers by 600% at a time of 30% inflation, rightly so. These measures will not reduce it that much because we have added the respite grant, which is universal and is paid to all carers. I know people who are involved in caring who do not have a huge income but who do not get a carer’s allowance. However, the fact we pay the respite grant and half rates has upped our costs. If we really want to bring the cost down, that is what we must hit but we will thereby affect many more people than the approach I took. The equation I applied was the result of months of analysis — I could keep Senators here all day discussing it — which persuaded me that I had to make this adjustment rather than the narrow and deep cut that would otherwise have been necessary.

Senator Nicky McFadden: Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  I acknowledge that the Minister is a caring man who wants to do the right thing. All of us have relatives who need care but we are in the lucky position of being able to afford the support they need. People who apply for the carer’s allowance find it impossible to qualify unless they live with those for whom they care. It is one of the most difficult allowances to get. They save the State billions of euro but the €16 reduction in their allowances in the past two years will leave them worn out. It is penny wise and pound foolish to penalise them.

I appreciate that the Minister retained the half rate carer’s allowance and the respite care grant, which were two important issues for the Carers Association. However, along with the blind pension, these payments support the most vulnerable groups in society. They are the poorest of the poor. People who care for sick relatives on a 24-seven basis will get no more support. The respite care grant is gone for all intents and purposes.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  They are getting €1,700.

Senator Nicky McFadden: Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  The respite available through the HSE is very limited. It is an impossible situation. Those who care for ill or disabled relatives around the clock are getting a kick in the teeth from the Government with this €16 cut.

I have not yet received a response from the Minister on the blind pension. Those on the blind pension will no longer be able to afford food or veterinary bills for the dogs which allow them their independence.

Senator Phil Prendergast: Information on Phil Prendergast  Zoom on Phil Prendergast  I listened carefully to the Minister’s explanation for his decision to cut the carer’s allowance. Like the Minister, I have a relative in need of care but fortunately my family is large enough to rotate carers without needing to apply for carer’s allowance. Many people who earn six figure sums have seen a decrease in their tax rates and nothing has been done about getting tax exiles to pay their fair share. In that context, the reduction in the carer’s allowance is extremely harsh. Since I was elected to this House in 2007, carers’ representatives have helped me to understand what is happening in this area. Many carers, however, are unable to come to Leinster House because they cannot find people to take over their caring duties. [484] They are already burned out and disadvantaged and the harsh decision to cut the carer’s allowance will just make it more difficult for them to meet the additional costs of winter heating and making ends meet over Christmas.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  Did Senator Coghlan indicate a wish to speak on the section?

Senator Paul Coghlan: Information on Paul Coghlan  Zoom on Paul Coghlan  I thought we would have a vote.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  The Minister referred to the 40% of expenditure by his Department. I understand he has to make savings and I support him in his agenda for reform. However, what upsets me most about this budget is its failure to put social justice at its core.

The Minister spoke about fraud. Last year, his predecessor as Minister, Deputy Hanafin, was going to be the white horse in her Department. She set herself up as the lady of the horse to take out fraud.

Senator Paul Coghlan: Information on Paul Coghlan  Zoom on Paul Coghlan  What did the Senator say?

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  Excuse me, she was the lady of the manor sitting on the horse. As Senator McFadden noted, the problem with respite care is the limited number of places. I know people in Cork who can only get a week of respite care here and there. Senator McDonald spoke about the Government’s social conscience but where is it to be found in this section?

The Minister noted that the State is great at paying back the utility companies but, at the risk of being contentious, perhaps the ESB and Bord Gáis should be made to wait. Perhaps that would be wrong, however. In the several years that he has been sitting around the Cabinet table, electricity and gas prices have increased significantly. Medical costs are increasing even while health allowances are being cut. We are now discussing carers and the vulnerable people for whom they care. These people are infirm and ill or have special needs. They depend on the State to provide them with services. These are the people who need us most. Our Constitution makes special reference to them. I do not wish to be repetitive but I am here on behalf of the people and I will speak all night if need be because this section mounts a callous attack on the people who need us.

We will not see the disabled protesting at the gates of Leinster House as the students have done. They will not be there with the People Before Profit Alliance or the new united left alliance, with is supposedly on the side of the people even though its economic policies are unbelievably scary. Those groups have to be exposed.

I stand here on behalf of gnáth daoine, the ordinary people, who need us as their social conscience and voice of reason. These are the people with whom I grew up or met every summer on the wheelchair holiday with the COPE foundation. They are the people who did not have a voice for themselves. They cheered when the Government granted them huge increases. The other day I met a woman in Ballyphehane who is voting for Fianna Fáil. She told me she could not vote against Deputy Bertie Ahern because of all the money he put into her pension. If we take this as an extension in a different way of the position taken by that lady, we are doing the opposite now. We are devaluing people and creating a new class. I do not believe the Minister wants to do this as I have heard him speak on radio and read his speech. I will listen to and argue with him regarding reform of the welfare state because I am very passionate about this issue.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  The Senator is being repetitive.

[485]Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  I am, and I apologise. If we are talking about the vulnerable, this part of the Bill should not be passed. The Minister should reconsider it. We have shown in our document that it can be done differently.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  It cannot be done without affecting jobseekers.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  What has the Minister done with that section of the Bill, which is another difficulty? We are putting people into poverty to stay. Since the budget, I have met friends who told me they are better off on social welfare than by getting a job.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  That is rubbish.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  It is not.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  It is.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  I will argue the toss with the Minister. It is not.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  There is only one circumstance.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  Senator Buttimer to continue, without interruption.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  I will gladly argue this issue with the Minister until the cows come home. The Bill is about people, and we are here to represent the people, be their voice and be their representatives.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  We are on section 3.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  I am on section 3. I will conclude on this point. If we value people, have a social conscience and want to have a just and fair society, we should not pass this section of the Bill.

Senator Paul Coghlan: Information on Paul Coghlan  Zoom on Paul Coghlan  I will cut to the quick. While I might not sound as passionate as my colleagues, I understand what they are saying. I know the Minister is a most reasonable and caring man. He has heard the arguments and, although I will not repeat them, they are overwhelming. Those we have been discussing are the weakest and most infirm of our people. While they cannot speak for themselves, my colleagues have spoken eloquently for them. I know the Minister has a heart. I believe there is something he can do to meet this situation and I genuinely plead with him to meet it.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Many issues have been raised. Since I came into the Department, we have been involved in much reform. A further Bill will come to the House this week which will prove this and deal with the introduction of the internship in order that private employers can take on people as interns. There is also the new Tús scheme, although I understand Senator Norris has a difficulty with the name “Tús”, which means “beginning”. We have all heard the seanfhocal, tús maith leath na hoibre. I hope this informs the erudite professor from Trinity College. Obviously, Joyce must never have used the word “Tús” in any of his works. We are also introducing the public services card.

Probably the most radical change we are making is in regard to the partial capacity Bill, which will allow people on long-term disability payments to earn as much as they want and retain payments proportionate to the disability. This is the quickest and best way out of poverty for those who have a capacity to work but still have an underlying disability. Given my years of experience, while I fully recognise there are those who do not have a capacity to earn, for [486]those who do, the quickest way out of poverty is not through more payments but through the right to work.

Senator Nicky McFadden: Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  Hear, hear.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  That Bill will come to the House later this week. I hope it is the bridgehead of a twin-track approach to this issue which would, on the one hand, facilitate those with a capacity to work but would retain payments proportionate to their needs and, on the other, would then allow us, by differentiating between the levels of capacity, to pay more money to those who have the type of disability that would make a person incapable of working or aspiring to work. If we could do that, many things would change. However, as the group comprises 150,000 people, it is too amorphous or heterogenous for this to be done in that way.

Senator McFadden raised the issue of blind pensioners. For obvious reasons, this includes partially sighted people and those with no sight. For family reasons, I have a fair bit of experience of at least one partially sighted person. If I am fair about it, the reality is that somebody with partial sight might not be as disabled as a severely disabled person who has multiple disabilities and cannot walk or talk and so on — I know people in that position. Therefore, I cannot understand how I could pick out one group of people who, I grant, are disabled but who are not necessarily the most disabled people, depending on the level of sight they have. I cannot say that this small group of 1,400 was exempt but the group of 150,000, which included some people with and some without severe disabilities, was not. I could not ignore the spectrum of those who would be judged either more disabled or not so bad, if disability could be graded. This is where my difficulty lay.

When I considered this issue, I decided invalidity allowance, disability allowance and blind pension would have to be in or out together — either all in or all out. If one stands back, one would have to take it as all in or all out, or one would not be fair. The more Members reflect on this and think of all the people they know with disabilities, including those with the most severe disabilities, the more they will realise such people are not necessarily partially sighted. This is the problem. It is not easy but we should at least be fair about the challenge.

Senator Nicky McFadden: Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  Excuse me, Minister——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  The Minister to continue, without interruption.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  I will give way.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  We must bear in mind that we are almost an hour on this section.

Senator Nicky McFadden: Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  I am president of the Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind association in Athlone and we also owned a pet shop; therefore, I am acutely aware of the cost of maintaining a dog. It is a little disingenuous to try to grade disability.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Exactly.

Senator Nicky McFadden: Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  It is difficult to do that and it is not right. I know people who are diabetic and have lost their sight through diabetes who completely depend on their dogs. I know how much it costs to train a guide dog, how hard it is to get one and how expensive it is to feed one, as they must be fed so they can perform to a standard. One also has to maintain them by going to the vet on a regular basis, which costs a lot of money.

[487]Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  That might be so, and I empathise with the Senator’s point. However, I can find groups representing other disabilities who will come back and show there is an even greater cost of disability in their area. My view is that this has to be tackled — for the blind and for the disabled generally. However, there is no way to tackle it if we are not willing to bite the bullet and grade.

We have all known people in receipt of disability allowance who would walk into one’s office. They would have a disability but not one that entails huge costs, and they would be mobile, drive their own car and so on. At the same time, we know people who are utterly dependent. My view is that if we persist in saying that all of those situations are exactly the same, it gets more difficult to try to do something extra for those with the more severe disabilities. When we discuss the partial capacity legislation, people will see the principle about which I am talking. In most of these schemes what is measured is one’s ability to work. If one’s capacity to work is at a level of 20% or less, one can keep one’s full payment and work with no limit on the hours worked or the income earned, subject to periodic medical examinations to show one’s condition has not improved. If one’s capacity to work is at a level of 50% to 80%, one is allowed to keep half of the payment and work as much as one wants. The idea is that one recognises different grades. It is said that is very difficult but every day we make a fine call. People talk about carer’s allowance. We must make a call as to whether constant care and attention is required. We have all seen the person at the margin who has been refused disability allowance and must fall back on jobseeker’s allowance. We then see the person who is so disabled that it is an open and shut case and about which there is no argument.

We need to debate how we should move forward. If we really want to look after those with the most severe level of disabilities, we must have the ability to treat groups differently, as we do in the case of jobseeker’s and disability allowances. In some cases, it is a fine call, while in others, it is a very easy one. I spent days trying to determine if there was a way out. If the numbers were small, I could have done it because I would not have had to impinge significantly on the rate paid to jobseekers. However, they were too large.

A point was made about supports. One of the things I have always encouraged those involved in the rural social scheme and the community employment scheme to do — I will now encourage those involved in the new Tús scheme, which means beginning——

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  I shall come back to it. The Minister can leave it alone. I have heard his answer and will deal with it.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Good. It is a new beginning.

Senator Nicky McFadden: Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  Every day is a new beginning.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Exactly. I hope that, subject to the normal checks, Garda clearance and so on, we can increase the number of home visits, day care centres and so on. Those involved in these schemes are often very good at this work which they are very willing to do.

A point was made about the price of electricity going up. It is a fair one, which is why it was vital that we were not sneaky and did not cut the electricity allowance by reducing the number of free units. If the price of electricity goes up, the Department will meet the extra cost. When one looks at the list of items we did not touch, one can see we were strategic on behalf of the most vulnerable. The fuel allowance, the household packages and the free travel scheme were not cut. If the price of fuel for vehicles goes up, one will still have one’s free travel card and the State will meet the extra cost. If electricity or telecommunications charges go up, the State will bear the cost. We did not touch many elements of the social welfare package which are much more expensive than is realised.

[488]I know this is not a debate on tax but reference was made to high earners. There is a theoretical argument which I accept. We wanted to rationalise the PRSI scheme, a matter which is very relevant to this debate, and apply a figure of 4% to everybody in order that one could deal with the issue of the universal charge and the tax system in a coherent way, something we have avoided doing for a long time and which created glitches in the system. We have abolished the €75,000 threshold and said the figure is 4% for the self-employed. I accept that, because of the way the various systems interact, a small group earning more than €200,000 could, theoretically, make a modest saving. However, one must ask the following question if one wants to be fair. How do the people concerned avoid paying very large amounts of tax and, effectively, get away with paying low rates? The rate was 55% for the self-employed and 52% for employees but now it will be 52% for everybody. People got away with paying low rates of tax through the use of tax shelters and investing large amounts of money in pension schemes. They were the two ways the super rich, in particular, and the self-employed millionaire avoided tax. We considered that, by eliminating tax shelters, there would be a tax gain. People are worried about a possible loss of 3% on a very small portion of income but, by making a 52% gain on a large portion of income, one is significantly increasing the tax take. Similarly, by moving step by step on pension contributions, one will make a huge gain from the very well-off. Hitting them for the full amount of tax is much more effective than making an adjustment of 2% or 3% at the top rate of tax. Therefore, when one looks at the analysis of the budget, one will find people have been hit in the pocket, rightly so.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  I will make a brief intervention because I know the business of the House must continue. On the troubled matter of Tús, I heard the Minister’s intervention. He explained it with a seanfhocal which I understood. If I am correct, it means “a good start is half the work”. I said I assumed it meant “start” or “beginning”; therefore, I was right. If the Minister considered my inadequacy was in the Irish language, it would have been courteous to explain it in English because then it would have been understood by all. However, I understood it. I was curious as to whether this was the meaning or whether it was an obscure acronym as Gaeilge.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  No.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  The application of mathematical models to human disability is a rather unattractive trait in government. That is what we are seeing in this instance and I do not like it. I have always believed in the old socialist maxim, from each according to his or her ability to each according to his or her need, but I am not sure that is what the Bill does in any convincing way. The Minister has not provided me with a satisfactory explanation.

Carer’s allowance was mentioned by the Minister. The solution is wrong. As I said — I will not repeat myself ad nauseam— the bill for this disaster is being presented to the most vulnerable in this society. That is a shame. For that reason, I will vote against the Bill.

The question of home care services arose on the Order of Business as a result of a very informative and good television programme broadcast last night. However, I have reservations about it such as the use of the visual image of the elderly woman concerned. I am not sure if her permission was obtained or if she was in a position to grant permission, but it was a very powerful image. I raised the matter in the House a year ago. Someone was going into a person’s home without a basic rudimentary facility in the English language, not the Irish language. The person in question was supposed to give medication and look after the patient concerned in her home. The explanation was that her brother spoke English and that he could be contacted [489]by telephone. There was no Garda examination. There is a raft of issues involved, but I will not continue ad nauseam because I know we want to conclude this debate.

  8 o’clock

It is a very serious moment and it is regrettable we are at this stage. I do not believe this is the only solution. I look beyond to a different financial solution altogether. The Minister can nip, pare and prune. I know a little bit about pruning. When one prunes a rose tree, for example, it is important to prune at exactly the right point in the bush, at the right time of the year and at the right level of severity. Those are the three criteria. The Minister and his colleagues can prune all they like but it will not work. This situation is going to explode right in our faces down the line. That, regrettably, is my view of the situation. It would have been better for us to face it now and to warn our colleagues in Europe that they should show real solidarity with us instead of trying to squeeze the unfortunate people on the margins in Ireland to pay the gambling debts of the bankers. That is my view and for that reason I will be voting against the Bill on every opportunity there is to vote. I say this despite the fact I know a lot of people who think it is great to cut back because there are spongers around. This is what people are saying. What we have managed to do now is to disadvantage our community further by splitting it and dividing it. I will end on this note. We have heard a great deal about the national recovery plan. I do not think this country can take any further recovery. Any more recovery as it is used in this sense will kill the country and its communities.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  I will be brief. The Minister said in his statement that he had empathy for the people who have no capacity to work. If one takes that statement to its logical next step then every person who is not able to work should be able to get the full allowance. The Minister did not revert to me about tackling the issue of fraud.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Did the Senator say that everyone who is not able to work should be given the full allowance?

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  I said they should get the full allowance. There should be no cuts for people who cannot work in whatever capacity.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  I do not know who they are.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  I think we do. The Minister referred in his contribution to people on disability allowance, the blind person’s pension and invalidity pension.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  There are people in that group who have the capacity to work.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  I am referring to those who have no capacity to work. The Minister spoke about activation measures but there are people who genuinely cannot work and they should not face any difficulty in receiving the disability allowance, but they are. The Minister spoke about work participation activation measures. At the height of the Celtic tiger era, the boom did not create a huge surge in work participation levels of people with intellectual disabilities. Many people with intellectual disabilities can make a great contribution to the workplace if the correct supports are put in place.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  On the last point, I fully agree with Senator Buttimer. I suggested to my Department and to FÁS that a compendium of the assistance available to employ people with disabilities should be compiled. I have asked for the production of a single document to include——

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  How many quotas have been met in the public service?

[490]An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  The Minister to continue, without interruption.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  I am referring to my role as Minister.

Senator Jerry Buttimer: Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  I know, but my question is important.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  I believe we should do a lot more to ensure, not only for financial gain but also for personal and social well-being, that people can work. Most people who can work would prefer to work and are better off, socially and mentally, when working. There is good medical evidence to bear this out. I am putting all this information together because many people are not aware of the different organisations and of what is available. I could not agree more with the Senator in this regard.

I refer to what Senator Norris said. I remember being in the Seanad. One aspect to being in the other House is that I miss the Senator’s oratory every week. I know his capacity in the Irish language. It was passed on to me that he had a query about a name. It is called Tús and there is no funny meaning behind it. He said he did not like things being done by mathematical formula. I agree with him that it would be preferable if one could treat everyone individually and decide what payment to allow. This is not practical. However, I have good news for the Senator. We want to aim to have a system for treating everyone according to their needs.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  Including the blind.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Including everyone. That means one has to make a call — which can be appealed — on the level of support, disability, ability, capacity, call it whatever one wants in the negative or the positive, of each individual. One then tries to tailor an individual package to that person’s requirements and assist him or her to obtain the maximum out of life. This is the way social welfare should be in the future. It should be a much more personal package. Some countries are moving in that direction and I want to move in that direction. It means there would not be all these traps in the system. It would be a case of helping a person to get back into employment or into a scheme, into a better space, so to speak. If a person with a disability wants to work and has some capacity to work, we will offer supports, financial and otherwise, to create the possibility of that person engaging in the workforce if that is what he or she wishes to do. We will aim to counter-balance the fact that a person with a severe disability cannot work and has no capacity to work. This will require radical reform. We have published three documents about single age payments.

Many of the problems I faced in a short time in dealing with this budget would have been avoided had we had a much more nuanced and a person-centred system. It will be a step by step process. The first step is later this week with the partial capacity scheme proposal. It will take years to get to where I would like to be but we should start down the road, no matter how long it is, to a much more person-centred social welfare system. In the time I am Minister I will continue to follow this.

There are currently approximately 20 schemes administered by the Department. It is a mathematical formula and it is black and white as to whether a person is included in the scheme. The appeals system allows for questions as to whether the person being cared for needs full-time care and attention. The answer is either yes or no and there is no half-way house. The formula is very simple. For example, a person is entitled to disability allowance if he or she does not have capacity to work for the following year because that is the definition of disability allowance. There is also the question whether a person has a capacity to work or is likely to have within the coming year. We have to move away from the use of such a formula.

As a serious Chamber of reflection, the Seanad could play a significant role in developing policy in a serious and reflective way rather than a partisan way. I think most of us would agree on the future direction.

[491]I will repeat the point as I saw it and it is very simple. Approximately 1.5 million people are in receipt of a social welfare payment. If they are divided into three groups, pensioners receive €490 million. If one takes them out of the equation and when another third of the remaining million is taken out, then all the burden falls on the remainder. I would have been criticised, had I done this, for taking too much from people who, in their own way, are very vulnerable, are often on the margins of society and many of whom are long-term unemployed and do not have great prospects for work in the short term.

I was interested in what Senator Norris said. He said he would not cut so much. What we are facing reminds me of my co-op days. When I was running the co-op, we were always short of money and just surviving. When one was hanging in there, in the interest of the common good one became very tough. I remember having to let people go from the timber mill because otherwise the whole timber mill would go and there would be nothing to come back to. I believe I was right to make some hard decisions at the time and history has vindicated me because the person who took over the mill from me created 200 jobs where we had 30, but those 200 jobs would not be available if the mill was not in place.

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  The Minister cannot have been all that good at it if they made——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach: Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  The Minister on section 3.

Deputy Éamon Ó Cuív: Information on Éamon Ó Cuív  Zoom on Éamon Ó Cuív  Similarly in the situation in which we find ourselves, my belief is quite simple. If we did not have the bottle to make the adjustment to allow us to continue to fund the services of the State, I would not be here talking about cutting pensions and other payments. We would be talking about a one third cut of everything across the board because the State would run out of borrowed money and we would need to live on the tax take of approximately €32 billion or €33 billion along with the PRSI bringing it up to €40 billion. We would be so short of money, that is what we would need to do.

Being faced with the dilemma of making the €6 billion in adjustments we have made or having to make one three times greater, it was a no-brainer to me to bite the bullet regardless of how misunderstood or misrepresented we would be and to make the hard decision because any other decision would have visited much greater hardship on our people, especially those who depend on my Department for their slice of the €21 billion we will pay out in the coming year. I keep looking for the magic bullets. I have not yet seen a magic bullet that did not have within it some very explosive content and which, if one tried to use it, would visit much greater havoc than has been visited already.

There are two popular theories. One would be if one starts reneging on one’s debts, one cannot borrow money. It is difficult for a person to say to the bank manager that they will not give back what the manager lent them and that they want more money at the same time. Then there are those who say the banking system is of no consequence. I often wonder how many people have thought what would happen if everyone woke up tomorrow morning and the banks were closed. They would have no access to their accounts, could not get money from the ATM and literally the only money they could use would be the money in their pockets. It is vital we make the hard cuts. Fine Gael is the only Opposition party that has come to that reality. It sometimes gives us proposals within the €6 billion that are somewhat fanciful but at least it recognises the reality that unless one funds the State, what we are doing in this Bill could be considerably worse. No one in the past two years has convinced me that there is some easy way out of this that would keep everything intact and give us the money we need to run the State.

Question put.

[492]The Committee divided: Tá, 28; Níl, 20.

Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Boyle, Dan. Information on Martin Brady  Zoom on Martin Brady  Brady, Martin.
Information on Larry Butler  Zoom on Larry Butler  Butler, Larry. Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  Callely, Ivor.
Information on James Carroll  Zoom on James Carroll  Carroll, James. Information on John Carty  Zoom on John Carty  Carty, John.
Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie. Information on Maria Corrigan  Zoom on Maria Corrigan  Corrigan, Maria.
Information on Mark Daly  Zoom on Mark Daly  Daly, Mark. Information on Mark Dearey  Zoom on Mark Dearey  Dearey, Mark.
Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  Ellis, John. Information on Geraldine Feeney  Zoom on Geraldine Feeney  Feeney, Geraldine.
Information on Camillus Glynn  Zoom on Camillus Glynn  Glynn, Camillus. Information on John Gerard Hanafin  Zoom on John Gerard Hanafin  Hanafin, John.
Information on Cecilia Keaveney  Zoom on Cecilia Keaveney  Keaveney, Cecilia. Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  Leyden, Terry.
Information on Marc MacSharry  Zoom on Marc MacSharry  MacSharry, Marc. Information on Lisa McDonald  Zoom on Lisa McDonald  McDonald, Lisa.
Information on Paschal Canice Mooney  Zoom on Paschal Canice Mooney  Mooney, Paschal. Information on Niall Ó Brolcháin  Zoom on Niall Ó Brolcháin  Ó Brolcháin, Niall.
Information on Brian Ó Domhnaill  Zoom on Brian Ó Domhnaill  Ó Domhnaill, Brian. Information on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Zoom on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Ó Murchú, Labhrás.
Information on Francis O'Brien  Zoom on Francis O'Brien  O’Brien, Francis. Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  O’Malley, Fiona.
Information on Ned O'Sullivan  Zoom on Ned O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Ned. Information on Ann Ormonde  Zoom on Ann Ormonde  Ormonde, Ann.
Information on Mary M. White  Zoom on Mary M. White  White, Mary M. Information on Diarmuid Wilson  Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson  Wilson, Diarmuid.



Níl
Information on Ivana Bacik  Zoom on Ivana Bacik  Bacik, Ivana. Information on Paul Bradford  Zoom on Paul Bradford  Bradford, Paul.
Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  Burke, Paddy. Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  Buttimer, Jerry.
Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  Coffey, Paudie. Information on Paul Coghlan  Zoom on Paul Coghlan  Coghlan, Paul.
Information on Maurice Cummins  Zoom on Maurice Cummins  Cummins, Maurice. Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  Donohoe, Paschal.
Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  Fitzgerald, Frances. Information on Dominic Hannigan  Zoom on Dominic Hannigan  Hannigan, Dominic.
Information on Fidelma Healy Eames  Zoom on Fidelma Healy Eames  Healy Eames, Fidelma. Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  McFadden, Nicky.
Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  Mullen, Rónán. Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  Norris, David.
Information on Joe O'Reilly  Zoom on Joe O'Reilly  O’Reilly, Joe. Information on John Paul Phelan  Zoom on John Paul Phelan  Phelan, John Paul.
Information on Phil Prendergast  Zoom on Phil Prendergast  Prendergast, Phil. Information on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Zoom on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Ross, Shane.
Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  Ryan, Brendan. Information on Alex White  Zoom on Alex White  White, Alex.

Tellers: Tá, Senators Niall Ó Brolcháin and Diarmuid Wilson; Níl, Senators Maurice Cummins and Nicky McFadden.

Question declared carried.

Question proposed: “That section 4 stand part of the Bill.”

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Pat Moylan  Zoom on Pat Moylan  Is section 4 agreed to?

Senator Nicky McFadden: Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  It is not agreed. We oppose it.

Question put.

The Committee divided: Tá, 28; Níl, 20.

Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Boyle, Dan. Information on Martin Brady  Zoom on Martin Brady  Brady, Martin.
Information on Larry Butler  Zoom on Larry Butler  Butler, Larry. Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  Callely, Ivor.
Information on James Carroll  Zoom on James Carroll  Carroll, James. Information on John Carty  Zoom on John Carty  Carty, John.
Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie. Information on Maria Corrigan  Zoom on Maria Corrigan  Corrigan, Maria.
Information on Mark Daly  Zoom on Mark Daly  Daly, Mark. Information on Mark Dearey  Zoom on Mark Dearey  Dearey, Mark.
Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  Ellis, John. Information on Geraldine Feeney  Zoom on Geraldine Feeney  Feeney, Geraldine.
Information on Camillus Glynn  Zoom on Camillus Glynn  Glynn, Camillus. Information on John Gerard Hanafin  Zoom on John Gerard Hanafin  Hanafin, John.
Information on Cecilia Keaveney  Zoom on Cecilia Keaveney  Keaveney, Cecilia. Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  Leyden, Terry.
Information on Marc MacSharry  Zoom on Marc MacSharry  MacSharry, Marc. Information on Lisa McDonald  Zoom on Lisa McDonald  McDonald, Lisa.
Information on Paschal Canice Mooney  Zoom on Paschal Canice Mooney  Mooney, Paschal. Information on Niall Ó Brolcháin  Zoom on Niall Ó Brolcháin  Ó Brolcháin, Niall.
Information on Brian Ó Domhnaill  Zoom on Brian Ó Domhnaill  Ó Domhnaill, Brian. Information on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Zoom on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Ó Murchú, Labhrás.
Information on Francis O'Brien  Zoom on Francis O'Brien  O’Brien, Francis. Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  O’Malley, Fiona.
Information on Ned O'Sullivan  Zoom on Ned O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Ned. Information on Ann Ormonde  Zoom on Ann Ormonde  Ormonde, Ann.
Information on Mary M. White  Zoom on Mary M. White  White, Mary M. Information on Diarmuid Wilson  Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson  Wilson, Diarmuid.



Níl
Information on Ivana Bacik  Zoom on Ivana Bacik  Bacik, Ivana. Information on Paul Bradford  Zoom on Paul Bradford  Bradford, Paul.
Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  Burke, Paddy. Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  Buttimer, Jerry.
Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  Coffey, Paudie. Information on Paul Coghlan  Zoom on Paul Coghlan  Coghlan, Paul.
Information on Maurice Cummins  Zoom on Maurice Cummins  Cummins, Maurice. Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  Donohoe, Paschal.
Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  Fitzgerald, Frances. Information on Dominic Hannigan  Zoom on Dominic Hannigan  Hannigan, Dominic.
Information on Fidelma Healy Eames  Zoom on Fidelma Healy Eames  Healy Eames, Fidelma. Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  McFadden, Nicky.
Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  Mullen, Rónán. Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  Norris, David.
Information on Joe O'Reilly  Zoom on Joe O'Reilly  O’Reilly, Joe. Information on John Paul Phelan  Zoom on John Paul Phelan  Phelan, John Paul.
Information on Phil Prendergast  Zoom on Phil Prendergast  Prendergast, Phil. Information on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Zoom on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Ross, Shane.
Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  Ryan, Brendan. Information on Alex White  Zoom on Alex White  White, Alex.

Tellers: Tá, Senators Niall Ó Brolcháin and Diarmuid Wilson; Níl, Senators Maurice Cummins and Nicky McFadden.

Question declared carried.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Pat Moylan  Zoom on Pat Moylan  As it is now after 8.30 p.m., I am required to put the following question in accordance with an order of the Seanad of this day: “That, in respect of each of the sections undisposed of, the section is hereby agreed to in Committee——

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  On a point of order——

Senator Frances Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  A Chathaoirligh——

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Pat Moylan  Zoom on Pat Moylan  ——that Schedules 1, 2 and 3 are hereby agreed to in Committee——

Senator Maurice Cummins: Information on Maurice Cummins  Zoom on Maurice Cummins  What about the use of the guillotine now?

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  The record should show that the Leader, Senator Cassidy, is guillotining the debate.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Pat Moylan  Zoom on Pat Moylan  ——that the Bill is, accordingly, reported to the House without amendment——

Senator Frances Fitzgerald: Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  On a point of order, the Leader is guillotining the debate on the Bill.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Pat Moylan  Zoom on Pat Moylan  ——that Fourth Stage is hereby completed——

Senator Maurice Cummins: Information on Maurice Cummins  Zoom on Maurice Cummins  There was no Report Stage debate.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Pat Moylan  Zoom on Pat Moylan  ——that the Bill is hereby received for final consideration——

Senator Maurice Cummins: Information on Maurice Cummins  Zoom on Maurice Cummins  This is a guillotine.

An Cathaoirleach: Information on Pat Moylan  Zoom on Pat Moylan  ——and that the Bill is hereby passed.”

Senator David Norris: Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  The debate has been guillotined.

[494]Question put.

The Seanad divided: Tá, 28; Níl, 19.

Information on Dan Boyle  Zoom on Dan Boyle  Boyle, Dan. Information on Martin Brady  Zoom on Martin Brady  Brady, Martin.
Information on Larry Butler  Zoom on Larry Butler  Butler, Larry. Information on Ivor Callely  Zoom on Ivor Callely  Callely, Ivor.
Information on James Carroll  Zoom on James Carroll  Carroll, James. Information on John Carty  Zoom on John Carty  Carty, John.
Information on Donie Cassidy  Zoom on Donie Cassidy  Cassidy, Donie. Information on Maria Corrigan  Zoom on Maria Corrigan  Corrigan, Maria.
Information on Mark Daly  Zoom on Mark Daly  Daly, Mark. Information on Mark Dearey  Zoom on Mark Dearey  Dearey, Mark.
Information on John Ellis  Zoom on John Ellis  Ellis, John. Information on Geraldine Feeney  Zoom on Geraldine Feeney  Feeney, Geraldine.
Information on Camillus Glynn  Zoom on Camillus Glynn  Glynn, Camillus. Information on John Gerard Hanafin  Zoom on John Gerard Hanafin  Hanafin, John.
Information on Cecilia Keaveney  Zoom on Cecilia Keaveney  Keaveney, Cecilia. Information on Terry Leyden  Zoom on Terry Leyden  Leyden, Terry.
Information on Marc MacSharry  Zoom on Marc MacSharry  MacSharry, Marc. Information on Lisa McDonald  Zoom on Lisa McDonald  McDonald, Lisa.
Information on Paschal Canice Mooney  Zoom on Paschal Canice Mooney  Mooney, Paschal. Information on Niall Ó Brolcháin  Zoom on Niall Ó Brolcháin  Ó Brolcháin, Niall.
Information on Brian Ó Domhnaill  Zoom on Brian Ó Domhnaill  Ó Domhnaill, Brian. Information on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Zoom on Labhrás Ó Murchú  Ó Murchú, Labhrás.
Information on Francis O'Brien  Zoom on Francis O'Brien  O’Brien, Francis. Information on Fiona O'Malley  Zoom on Fiona O'Malley  O’Malley, Fiona.
Information on Ned O'Sullivan  Zoom on Ned O'Sullivan  O’Sullivan, Ned. Information on Ann Ormonde  Zoom on Ann Ormonde  Ormonde, Ann.
Information on Mary M. White  Zoom on Mary M. White  White, Mary M. Information on Diarmuid Wilson  Zoom on Diarmuid Wilson  Wilson, Diarmuid.



Níl
Information on Ivana Bacik  Zoom on Ivana Bacik  Bacik, Ivana. Information on Paul Bradford  Zoom on Paul Bradford  Bradford, Paul.
Information on Paddy Burke  Zoom on Paddy Burke  Burke, Paddy. Information on Jerry Buttimer  Zoom on Jerry Buttimer  Buttimer, Jerry.
Information on Paudie Coffey  Zoom on Paudie Coffey  Coffey, Paudie. Information on Paul Coghlan  Zoom on Paul Coghlan  Coghlan, Paul.
Information on Maurice Cummins  Zoom on Maurice Cummins  Cummins, Maurice. Information on Paschal Donohoe  Zoom on Paschal Donohoe  Donohoe, Paschal.
Information on Frances Fitzgerald  Zoom on Frances Fitzgerald  Fitzgerald, Frances. Information on Dominic Hannigan  Zoom on Dominic Hannigan  Hannigan, Dominic.
Information on Nicky McFadden  Zoom on Nicky McFadden  McFadden, Nicky. Information on Ronan Mullen  Zoom on Ronan Mullen  Mullen, Rónán.
Information on David P.B. Norris  Zoom on David P.B. Norris  Norris, David. Information on Joe O'Reilly  Zoom on Joe O'Reilly  O’Reilly, Joe.
Information on John Paul Phelan  Zoom on John Paul Phelan  Phelan, John Paul. Information on Phil Prendergast  Zoom on Phil Prendergast  Prendergast, Phil.
Information on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Zoom on Shane Peter Nathaniel Ross  Ross, Shane. Information on Brendan Ryan  Zoom on Brendan Ryan  Ryan, Brendan.
Information on Alex White  Zoom on Alex White  White, Alex.  

Tellers: Tá, Senators Niall Ó Brolcháin and Diarmuid Wilson; Níl, Senators Maurice Cummins and Nicky McFadden.

Question declared carried.


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