Last night and today the Dáil debated budget provisions for disadvantaged schools where the Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn spoke of his personal commitment to continue working to develop strategies that strive to eliminate educational disadvantage from our society.
Minister Quinn said: "I want to place on the record my admiration and appreciation of the commitment, dedication and affection that is involved in alleviating educational disadvantage within our society. The work of teachers, principals, staff, parents and wider school communities in ensuring the continuing success of the DEIS scheme, and the education of so many children from disadvantaged homes and communities. This work allows children to experience a genuine equality of opportunity that was denied to too many children in this country for too many years."
The Labour Party has prioritised schools, hospitals and job creation in the Government's capital spending programme announced this afternoon.
The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin TD, set out the Government's capital spending programme saying: "Clearly we are now living in different economic times. This report, by necessity, is about priorities... Our priorities as a Government are clear and are manifest in this plan. In summary: jobs, schools and health."
Among the priorities include 40 new schools, a new National Children's Hospital, job creation, the linking of the two LUAS lines, the Railway Safety Programme, replacement buses and upgrades of existing QBCs.
The European Headquarters of Facebook in Dublin today was the location for the launch of JobBridge' - The National Internship Scheme which was launched by Minister Joan Burton. In attendance were business leaders and people from the community and voluntary sectors.
JobBridge is aiming to provide 5,000 internship places to the unemployed over the next two years.
It is part of the Governments 'Jobs Initiative' which will offer 20,900 education, training and work experience places for the unemployed as well as the 'Springboard' initiative which will provide 6,000 places on a range of 200 part-time courses.
The launch was a great success and a step in the right direction for getting Ireland working again.
Just like many householders across the country, the Government has to continue to do more with less. Minister for Public Expenditure & Reform, Brendan Howlin TD, is calling on the public to engage with his department, and submit creative and constructive proposals on how the Government can best save money and make smarter spending choices.
As part of the ongoing Comprehensive Review of Expenditure, a review set up to identify savings in each government department, it is hoped that the people of Ireland can also come onboard and contribute their opinions on how efficiencies and savings can be obtained.
Today is one of those days when I'm delighted to be part of a government with Labour at its heart. Our Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton has published the Bill which will see a €1 hourly increase in the minimum wage after the 1st July.
This measure means a lot to the thousands of people who are struggling to make ends meet; to pay rent and mortgages and to put food on the table for their families.
Over the last while the Dáil has been debating the Finance Bill which will enact measures announced in the Jobs Initiative. Today Deputy Colm Keaveney spoke and you can see his speech in the accompanying video. In the links below you can also see the contributions from other Labour deputies.
The Labour Party manifesto contains a small commitment on banking - to work within the United Nations for the introduction of a 0.05% levy on international financial transactions.
This tiny tax is commonly known as a Robin Hood tax, and it is estimated that such a tax would raise in the region of €100,000,000,000 per year. It is a modest proposal, and one that has been backed by hundreds of international experts and political parties.
Astonishingly, Fine Gael have criticised our stance on this issue. As they did with the bank guarantee, Fine Gael are yet again standing on the side of the wealthiest bankers, as they continue their plans to savage social welfare rates over the next three years.