Government

  • Cabinet Ministers will this morning consider a bill to set up an alternative process for women affected by the CervicalCheck controversy.

    Health Minister Simon Harris will bring the heads of the bill to cabinet.

    This bill would set up a tribunal for women to have their cases heard without having to go to court.

    It will operate in a similar way to the compensation tribunal that was set up for those affected by hepatitis C.

    It will be chaired by Ms Justice Mary Irvine, and will be optional for women affected by Cervical Check and their families.

    The women can still go to court if they wish, but it's intended the tribunal will be faster and less adversarial.

    It comes after further controversy around Cervical Check as the State Claims Agency is appealing the case of terminally ill Ruth Morrissey.

    The state claims it isn't appealing the 2.1 million euro settlement made to Mrs Morrissey and her husband, but a number of significant legal points that could impact future cases.

    The government is hopeful the legislation to allow for an adjudicative tribunal can be passed by the summer recess to avoid more women having to go to court.

  • There's a call on the Government for more accessible housing for people with disabilities.

    Independent Living Movement is making the call as the organisation's being launched today.

    It's also started campaigning for a Personal Assistance Service for people with disabilities.

  • Political party leaders will be briefed on the response to the Coronavirus this afternoon.

    It comes as Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil are due to finalise a document setting out how a coalition between the two will work.

    That's likely to be finalised tomorrow and go to smaller parties over the weekend to consider.

    Both parties are looking for a third group to come on board in order to bring stability to any coalition deal.

  • The new cabinet of Ministers has been appointed.

    Mayo TD and Fianna Fáil Deputy Leader Dara Calleary has been appointed as Chief Whip in the new coalition government.

    The appointment will see the Ballina based TD, assume a super-junior minister role.

    He will be a Minister of State assigned to the Department of the Taoiseach and will be responsible for the voting arrangements for the government TDs and ensuring their adherence to the government line.

    There had been strong speculation that he would have received a full cabinet ministry and Galway's Anne Rabbitte has also missed out on a senior cabinet position.

    Ballindine native and Green Party senator Pippa Hackett has also been appointed as a super junior minister, as has Galway Fine Gael TD Hildegarde Naughton.

    Michael Ring has lost his seat at the cabinet, with his former ministry, the Department for Rural Affairs and Community Development, having been disbanded.
    Helen McEntee has been promoted to Justice Minister.
    Darragh O'Brien is the new Housing Minister with Stephen Donnelly taking over Health.
    Fianna Fáil's Norma Foley has been appointed Education Minister with Simon Harris taking over a new Department for Higher Education.
    Simon Coveney remains as Foreign Affairs Minister and takes charge of Defence.
    Paschal Donohoe is Finance Minister with Michael McGrath taking public expenditure.
    Barry Cowen is Agriculture Minister with Heather Humphreys taking Social Protection and rural affairs.
    A new Department of Climate Action, Communications networks and Transport goes to Green leader Eamon Ryan.
    While Catherine Martin takes charge of Culture, arts, media, tourism, sport and the Gaeltacht.

  • Driving licences that are due to expire before June 30th have been given a four month extension.

    The extension applies from the date your licence is due to expire.

    Senior Government Official Liz Canavan says the grace period applies to a number of other road safety requirements.

    "The same extensions apply to certificates of competency received on passing a driving test, driver theory test certificates, motorcycle initial basic training certificates and to National Car Tests and vehicle road worthiness tests," said Ms Canavan.

    "This will ensure that people will not lose out due to the temporary closure of the Road Safety Authority facilities."

  • There's a blow for the Government in the latest Sunday Times/ Behaviour and Attitudes December Poll.

    Its satisfaction rating has fallen by four to 33 per cent, while the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar's popularity has dropped 5 points to 38.

    Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has seen his popularity rise by one to 45 per cent.

    While satisfaction with Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has grown by 2 to 39, but Labour Leader Brendan Howlin's popularity has fallen by three to 36.

  • Fianna Fail says a record high in outpatient waiting list marks a grim month for the overcrowding crisis in the country's hospitals.

    The party's new health spokesperson says 504,111 patients were left waiting for appointments, as hospital waiting lists continue to rise.

    Deputy Stephen Donnelly says that's the highest total ever recorded.

    With one in ten Irish people waiting for an appointment - Deputy Donnelly has accused the Government of a complete lack of urgency in tackling the problem.

  • TDs in Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil will be briefed on policy discussions between the two parties later as the Dáil meets for a second time.

    A six hour discussion between the two parties has not changed Fine Gael's position that it wants to head for the opposition benches.

    The Dáil will discuss the Coronavirus and the upcoming EU summit when it meets but there won't be votes to elect a Taoiseach.

    Fianna Fáil's Michael McGrath says they are willing to step up efforts to form the next government after meeting Fine Gael yesterday.

  • Fine Gael members have approved going into government with Fianna Fáil and the Green Party.

    Overall it was 80 per cent in favour with 20 per cent voting against the programme for government.

    The first of three votes is in and it's overwhelmingly in favour of going into government.

    The overall result was 80% in favour of doing the deal with Fianna Fáil and the Greens.

    There was a turnout of 95% from their electoral college system.

    90 per cent of their TDs, Senators and MEPs voted in favour of the deal.

    It was 85% among the national executive, and 71% support among constituency delegates.

    However, just 57% of local councillors in Fine Gael voted in favour.

    So that's one of three down.

    Fianna Fáil's official counting only got underway around 3.30pm with a result expected sometime around 6pm.

    While the Greens are taking longer than expected and might not have a result until 8pm this evening.

    It's only then when all the results are in that we'll know whether there will be a new government, and if Micheál Martin will be elected Taoiseach tomorrow.

  • The GAA has welcomed the Government's 70-million relief package for Irish sport.

    40-million of that will be made available to the GAA, the IRFU and the FAI collectively.

    The GAA are spending this weekend discussing how the Government's sped-up COVID-19 roadmap impacts on their own.

  • It's a numbers game as the Taoiseach's Cabinet reshuffle moves towards a Dail vote on Tuesday.

    Overnight, the Government got a boost, when Independent TD Noel Grealish confirmed he'd back the Government in key votes - until Brexit is sorted.

     

    The Government's still not out of the woods - with every potential vote being counted.

    Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald says it's 'make your mind up time' for Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael - saying the Confidence and Supply arrangement is a 'political con job' which has led to uncertainty at a crucial time for the country; with Brexit, housing and health in the balance.

    Yesterday the Taoiseach confirmed his reshuffle and a new junior ministry was announced for Independent TD Sean Canney, in a move to shore up the Government, and bring their number of Dail votes to just 2 shy of the vital 57.

    Then last night, Independent Noel Grealish confirmed he'd back the Government in key votes until Brexit is sorted - giving Michael Lowry a deciding vote to give the Government a majority - and making the prospect of an election before Christmas, less likely.

     

     

  • The Government must bail out families across the country during the coronavirus pandemic, just like the Irish taxpayer bailed out the banks a decade ago.

    That was the strong message coming from Galway West Sinn Féin TD Mairéad Farrell, who says it is time to increase emergency financial supports for workers and families affected by the current situation.

    Sinn Féin is proposing an Income Support Scheme that would guarantee an income of up to €525 per week for 20 weeks for all workers laid off as a result of the crisis.

  • The gap between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail has narrowed in the latest opinion poll.

    Support for the main opposition party is up 4 points to 25 per cent in the Sunday Times/ Behaviour and Attitudes survey.

    Fine Gael is down two to 32 per cent.

    Sinn Féin also drop two per cent to 20 per cent.

    Labour is up two at 5.

    While Solidarity People Before Profit are up 2 to 3 per cent, with the Green Party up one also on 3 per cent.

    No change for The Independent Alliance on 4 with Independents and Others dropping 2 to 8 per cent voter support.

  • Government have today announced a €2 million euro investment  to upgrade the roof in GMIT.

    Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring says this represents a major statement of intent by the Government in the Castlebar Campus.

    Today's announcement is part of the Government's multi-billion investment in education as part of Project Ireland 2040.

    Minister Ring says investment of this kind can only bode well for the future of the Mayo GMIT Campus.

  • The Government has asked health officials to consider speeding up the exit plan for the Coronavirus lockdown.

    The Taoiseach says Ministers have asked to move some of the phase 3 measures up to phase 2, which is due to start on Monday.

    Cabinet will make a decision tomorrow on whether to go ahead with that after medical advice from NPHET.

    Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said they are looking to move parts of the roadmap up.

  • The Government's being challenged to be 'upfront' about any further delays to plans for new schools.

    Fianna Fail's Education Spokesperson says a lack of urgency in getting new school builds off the ground has left communities hanging on for years for new facilities.

    Deputy Thomas Byrne wants to know if building new buildings has been put on hold while the Department sorts out its finances.

  • The Government has officially given the go ahead for the National Broadband Plan.

    A preferred bidder for the contract has been appointed to roll out high speed internet access to 1.1 million people.

    The Cabinet approved the plan this evening - after a meeting that went on considerably longer than expected.

    The plan, which will cost in the region of €3 billion, will see high speed broadband being rolled out to every home and business in the country.

    The first new homes will be connected in 2020 - but some may have to wait years to be connected.

     

     

  • Michael Ring

    The government has launched the National Planning Framework with 116 billion euro of investment announced.

    There's 22 billion for measures to tackle climate change as well as large investments in health, housing, education and transport.

    Project 2040 was formally approved by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his ministers at a special Cabinet meeting in Sligo.

    This is a plan that aims to prepare the country for a population expansion of around one million people over the next 20 years. The plan also aims to have an extra 660,000 people at work.

    The Government announced four new funds totaling €4bn for "rural and urban growth, climate action and innovation".

    Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring says some of the projects included are major improvements to the N4/N5 including on the Westport to Turlough section, the Ballaghadereen to Scramogue section and the extension of the motorway from Mullingar to Longford.

    A special Rural Regeneration Fund worth €1 billion nationally to be administered and will involve targeted investment in towns, villages and townlands in Mayo.  

    A significant investment package in Ireland West Airport Knock in recognition of its strategic importance as a major regional airport.

    An Urban Regeneration Fund which will see significant investment in rural towns with a population of over 10,000 such as Castlebar and Ballina as well as our major cities.

    €19.4 million to be invested in new sewerage schemes for Foxford, Charlestown and Killala.

    4 new consultants will be recruited at Mayo University Hospital as part of the national trauma care strategy.

    €3.5 million investment in GMIT Castlebar campus.

    New cycling and walking trails in Ballycroy as well as Major improvements to the Ceide Fields Visitor Experience.

  • The government is predicting an exchequer surplus of 609 million euro in 2019.

    The figure is revealed in its pre-budget White Paper, which sets out expected returns up to the end of this year.

    However, threats of a no-deal Brexit and hundreds of million in overruns at the Departments of Health and Social Protection has seen it abandon plans to put 500 million euro in a Rainy Day fund.

    Labour leader Brendan Howlin says the fund clearly isn't working and the money now needs to be used to protect jobs.

  • The Government is considering allowing convicted drink-drivers drive to work.

    Officials have been asked to examine a system in operation in New Zealand.

    In New Zealand a person can apply for a limited licence that would allow them drive at specific times for specific reasons.

    They must prove to a court their driving ban causes them extreme hardship or undue hardship to someone else.

    The Sunday Business Post reports that if the move was considered in Ireland it would be most likely in cases where people need their car in order to get to and from work.

    According to the paper Transport Minister Shane Ross would consider any such proposal from the Vintner's Federation of Ireland.

    Ireland's tough drink driving laws have seen automatic driving bans, fines and penalty points introduced for those caught over the limit.