Tuesday, 12th February 2013
It is six weeks since the new year. The Chinese new year was celebrated last Sunday. This is the year of the snake. My first question relates to a report that was promised in the new year.
I believe we have qualified on both counts that we are in the new year. I refer to the report of the Advisory Group on Tax and Social Welfare chaired by Ita Mangan. The Minister, Deputy Burton, challenged us to examine the facts of this report and gave an undertaking in this House to publish the report early in the new year. My question is when that report will be published. Yesterday a report from the Consumers’ Association of Ireland showed there has been a 12% rise in the cost of a typical basket of groceries. We have seen a very brutal cut across the board in child benefit payment. I am willing to take some tough decisions on child benefit but let us see this report and let the discussion begin. I do know why it has taken so long for it to be published.
We were also promised that the child and family support agency Bill would be published in the new year. Colleagues in the House will know that I have repeatedly asked for us to debate this new agency which has a budget of €545 million and a staff of 4,000, yet we have not had a debate on it. I have tried every angle to have a debate on it in this House but that has been blocked. When will the Bill be published? When will we see it? This is a very important agency. My fear is that staff are just being transferred from the HSE. I question whether any Member of the House would say it is a great idea to transfer staff from the HSE, with all the deals and practices they have, into the agency. When will that Bill be published?
A report was commissioned six years ago from the commission of investigation into the Death of Gary Douch. That commission of investigation was established in April 2007 following the attack and subsequent death of Gary Douch in a cell in Mountjoy Prison. I ask the Deputy Leader to ask the Minister for Justice and Equality when that report will be published?