Live: Leaders' Questions

Minute by minute coverage of Dáil Éireann

Dan Griffin Wed, Sep 26
LIVE: Live: Leaders' Questions

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  • 12:03
    Irish Times writers Good afternoon and welcome to the The Irish Times's live coverage of Leaders' Questions in the Dáil today, Wednesday, September 26th.
  • 12:07
    Irish Times writers

    First up is Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin who says a parent in Tallaght last week told him that education was placing a significant burden on the household budget. She said that not paying the "voluntary" subscription to the school would mean her children would miss out on books and other materials.

    He says that most schools have to raise additional funds and that small schools and disadvantaged schools find this very difficult.

    "Well over a third of parents in Ireland say they're getting into debt to cover back to school costs," he says.

    "One of the most effective ways to deal with this is to accept that the existing capitation grant is wholly inadequate to fund our primary schools," he says and asks the Taoiseach whether he accepts that.

  • 12:09
    Irish Times writers

    Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says he agrees that back to school costs can be a burden on families but he says that increasing the capitation grant is a budgetary matter and no Budget 2019 decision have been taken yet.

    Varadkar says the Government has already made a "massive investment" in education which is having a positive impact. He says he accepts that the capitation grant has not been increased and that is something which will have to be looked at in Budget 2019.

  • 12:12
    Irish Times writers Martin says the so-called voluntary school contribution is not voluntary at all. He says reducing the cost of living for average people needs to be looked at.
  • 12:16
    Irish Times writers

    Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald says the Government has failed to engage with the issue of pay for Irish nurses.

    "We should expect that their jobs pay well, we should expect high morale in their ranks but that's not the case, Taoiseach," she says.

    She says the Government does not want to talk about the issue of pay.

    "Will you commit. Taoiseach, to acting and engaging with unions so that our nurses and other health professionals get a fair deal?"

  • 12:19
    Irish Times writers Varadkar says the number of nurses working in health sector has been increasing and that pay is comparable with the UK and Europe, as set out in the public sector pay commission report. "One of the most pertinent facts is that... Ireland has more nurses per head than most countries in the world," he says. He says that any reform must involves changes in how nurses are deployed in the health sector.
  • 12:21
    Irish Times writers "The fact is we train what is said to be the best and the brightest... and then we lose them specifically to London or they go to Canada, they go to Australia," says McDonald, saying there is an issue around pay equality and a broader issue around pay.  
  • 12:22
    Irish Times writers

    "I can absolutely guarantee that the Government with engage with unions on pay," says Varadkar."It's because of that engagement that we have a three-year pay deal with public servants." He adds that "there is only so much money".

  • 12:26
    Irish Times writers

    Labour leader Brendan Howlin says after the economic collapse Ireland was unable to pay for basic public services. "It is not clear that your Government has learned the lessons of history," he says, saying we now see tax lobbyists seeking cuts to income taxes.

    "Your government has now embarked on the same process of driving down income taxes... only the top 19 per cent of tax payers pay tax, any tax, at the higher rate."

    Despite the fact that almost all NW European countries pay higher income tax than Ireland, you're talking about reducing it. Will the Government confirm its intention to strengthen the tax base of the country? he asks.

  • 12:29
    Irish Times writers

    Varadkar says we do have a much broader tax base now and if there is a vulnerability it is not around income tax but around corporation tax, which might not be there in two years time.

    This government needs to be responsible, says Varadkar, and contain price of houses, contain increase in demands for higher pay, lower tax. He says the plan is to raise more from income tax in 2019 than 2018.

    He says people who earn €40,000 and €50,000 are the middle and not higher earners.

  • 12:31
    Irish Times writers Brendan Howlin says all the Government's actions undermine the Taoiseach's comments. He says house prices have already made property unaffordable. He says people want further investment in public services and urges him not to cut taxes while also trying to increase investment in public services.
  • 12:36
    Irish Times writers Varadkar says he and Brendan Howlin are closer than they appear in terms of policy and says that there will be a significant investment in public services in the coming Budget.
  • 12:37
    Irish Times writers Green Party leader Eamon Ryan says his question is for every TD in the Dáil and asks whether they are willing to "make the leap" in terms of agreeing a climate and environment policy in the coming months.  
  • 12:38
    Irish Times writers Varadkar says he is "not entirely sure" what Eamon Ryan is asking but he goes on to list various Government environmental policy initiatives.
  • 12:40
    Irish Times writers Eamon Ryan says he will clarify: "Your development plan sucks when it comes to climate, it won't do the job." He adds that the BusConnects plan is dead in the water, politically. He adds that the Government needs to be more ambitious when it comes to planning for the environment. "Will you change your development plan, because it's not going to work?"

    Varadkar chuckles and says "The deputy is a very excitable man, isn't he?"

  • 12:41
    Irish Times writers That wraps up Leaders' questions for today. Thanks for reading.