The past week has been dominated by very public differences on the next budget between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, which spilled over into the weekend. But the party leaders, their Ministers and aides are likely to try to settle everyone down this week as they face a busy few weeks before the summer recess.
Put it another way: if they don’t try to settle things down, it’s a sign that the Government is shakier than it has been for a long time.
The leaders met yesterday evening as usual, this week with the two budget Ministers, Paschal Donohoe and Michael McGrath. Oh to be a fly on that wall.
Anyway, it’s a congested Cabinet agenda for this morning’s weekly meeting. Harry McGee has the details here, including details on the plans for a new “Ireland House” in London – where the Embassy and all the agencies like the IDA and Enterprise Ireland will be headquartered. This means that Irish diplomats will leave the Grosvenor Place address, overlooking the gardens of Buckingham Palace, which has been their home for 75 years. The Cabinet will also approve legislation to ban the sale of vaping products to under-18s, and also introduce other restrictions.
And it is a busy day around the Oireachtas as well. At the integration and equality committee, officials running the State’s response to the refugee crisis will give evidence to TDs and Senators about the efforts they are making to cope with the influx of people fleeing the war in Ukraine – 88 are arriving every day here on average – and their record to date.
The officials will say 83,000 Ukrainians are here, 61,000 accommodated by the State, equivalent to the population of Co Carlow.
The record of dealing with people who come from countries other than Ukraine seeking refugee status is less rosy. More than 200 remain in tents or other circumstances they have sourced themselves, as the State scrambles to find accommodation for them. The backlog in providing accommodation is about a month now – that is to say, everyone who has arrived before the start of May has been given somewhere to live. Adult males who arrived in May are still awaiting accommodation.
Harry is also reporting that an Oireachtas committee will be told this morning that single-parent families are at greatest risk of becoming homeless due to the increase in landlords leaving the rental market.
Opening statements from the tenancy protection agency, Threshold, and from the Dublin Region Homeless Executive (DRHE) highlight that families have becoming increasingly vulnerable to homelessness in 2022 and 2023.
In its opening statement for a hearing today of the all-party committee on housing, Threshold says there has been an increase since 2022 of people who are at risk of homelessness, including the “hidden homeless” (people who are couch-surfing) and people who have over-held their expired tenancies.
Meanwhile, Arthur Beesley also reports that planning permission for over 800 homes has been granted for the site of the former Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum in south Dublin. But how long before the judicial review?
Our lead story today illustrates how long-term planning often requires expensive decisions, years before any payback. Arthur reports that a group of private landowners, including brothers Ulick and Des McEvaddy, are selling their lands at Dublin Airport – meaning that the Dublin Airport Authority has a big decision to make.
The decision presents a strategic and financial challenge to the Dublin Airport Authority, Arthur reports. The State body now faces questions as to whether it spends potentially more than €400 million to block any other party from gaining control of real estate crucial to its growth.
Of course, not everyone in Government is in favour of the expansion of Dublin Airport. Interesting questions ahead for Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan, too.
Fintan O’Toole asks – what if Sinn Féin makes an economic success of Northern Ireland?
(On a related point, a column last Saturday asked why the DUP was helping Sinn Féin not make a success of Northern Ireland)
Anne Harris writes in praise of Fine Gael’s coming woman, Jennifer Carroll MacNeill
Spanish prime minister calls a snap election
Quite a few readers having their say on the Coalition tax row on our letters’ page
Cabinet this morning, with an agenda as outlined above. Results from the census are also being released today.
Dáil back at 2pm for Leaders’ Questions, followed by order of business for the week, questions to the Taoiseach and then to the Minister for Children and refugees and lots else besides, Roderic O’Gorman. There’s a Sinn Féin private members’ motion on respite care services. In the Upper House, there’s a few pieces of Government legislation and then a private members’ motion seeking that the Seanad celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement. You can expect that one to be passed.
At the committees, the housing and refugee issues will be front and centre, as outlined above. But there’s lots of other things happening, too. The environment committee will hear contributions on liquified natural gas, or LNG, another bone of contention within the coalition (the Greens do not like it, FF and FG would put up with it). The committee on autism continues its work. The foreign affairs and defence committee will hear from Julie Sinnamon, who heads up the body overseeing the implementation of the planned reforms and expansion of the Defence Forces. A gaggle of other committees have private meetings. Details of all the meetings here.