A €2 ¼ billion infrastructure Stimulus Plan has been announced today by Minister Brendan Howlin, representing a step in the right direction on the path to recovery with the creation of 13,000 jobs, €280m investment in education, €115m in health, €850m in transport, €190m in justice and €1.4b in projects that meet key infrastructural needs.
Among the projects to benefit will be the development and rejuvenation of a campus for the Dublin Institute of Technology at Grangegorman; the upgrading of the N17/N18 Gort to Tuam motorway and the M11 Gorey to Enniscorthy project.
Other projects include €190m to be invested in the State Pathology Laboratory, two new Garda headquarters as well as the provision of two bundles of primary care centres comprising of up to 10 centres.
A key part of the Government's political reform agenda has been announced with the publication of the heads of the Protected Disclosure in the Public Interest Bill 2012. The whistleblower legislation, announced by Minister Brendan Howlin, will protect 'whistleblowers who speak out against wrongdoing, or cover-ups, whether in the public or private sector'.
"This is a huge advancement from the previous piecemeal approach where the patchwork of protections resulted in a fragmented and confusing standards of protection," Minister Howlin said.
Among the measures contained in the whistleblowers' legislation include:
Tánaiste & Taoiseach call for 'YES' vote on Referenda
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Taoiseach Enda Kenny called for a YES vote yesterday in the two referendums that will be held tomorrow on judges' pay and Oireachtas inquiries.
On the Judicial Pay Referendum, the Tánaiste said that the purpose of the referendum was to bring judges' pay in line with that of other people who are paid from the public purse.
Some of the judiciary have taken voluntary pay cuts, however not all have taken this initiative. Therefore by voting YES, all judges will be subject to the same public sector pay reductions that have been made, or will be made in the future.
Senator Ivana Bacik and Deputy Pat Rabbitte at the launch of 'A Fair and Effective Penal System'.
"A Fair and Effective Penal System" policy document was launched this afternoon which argues that our current system is costly, ineffective and has led to grossly overcrowded prisons. The document says that those engaged in serious criminal activity, and persons convicted of crimes of violence and offences against the person must be imprisoned to protect society, but outlines a number of alternatives to custodial sentences in appropriate cases.
Almost ten years after the Thornton Hall plan was announced and after the expenditure of vast sums of taxpayers money, Thornton Hall has been confirmed as one of the most expensive, misconceived and poorly planned projects in the history of the State, our Justice Spokesperson Pat Rabbitte TD said yesterday. It will 2014 before a single prison place becomes available.
He said Thornton Hall has become a 'shocking white elephant' for which Minister Ahern and Mr McDowell must share responsibility.
The ongoing issue of the banks crisis was discussed during Leaders' Questions this morning when the Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore questioned the Taoiseach about shady dealings in Anglo Irish Bank.
While Deputy Gilmore acknowledged that problems in banking and the economy are happening worldwide he added that 'we do see in other countries that wrongdoing is outed and illegality is punished'.
He reiterated the call made by Deputy Joan Burton, Labour's Spokesperson on Finance, that a High Court inspector should be appointed to investigate Anglo Irish Bank, a proposal which was voted down by the Government.
Deputy Gilmore then asked the Taoiseach:
What investigations are underway in respect of Anglo Irish Bank?
Leaders' Questions this afternoon in the Dáil was dominated by gun crime following the shocking and appalling murder of a Limerick man over the weekend.
Addressing the Dáil the Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore spoke of how since 1998 there have been 161 gun murders in the State with only 22 convictions, representing a one in eight chance of being convicted of a gun murder.
He said: "The people who are committing these gun murders are getting away with it for a variety of reasons including the fear they instil in communities, witnesses and other members of the gang.
Six years were spent uncovering the truth about Garda malpractices in Donegal by Mr Justice Frederick Morris yet the ensuing report, the Morris report, was released on possibly one of the biggest news days for some time, the day of the new Taoiseach's election.
Labour's Spokesperson on Justice Deputy Pat Rabbitte said: "The decision to withhold a report that has been with Minister Lenihan since April 24th is clearly designed to swamp the bad news of yet more critical findings on garda conduct in Donegal in the tsunami of news coverage that will mark the election of the Taoiseach and the appointment of new Ministers.
Following another weekend which has seen gangland gun murders claim two more lives bringing to 150 the number of gun murders in the State since the Taoiseach took up office in 1997; this level of gun murders and subsequent convictions was the subject of today's Leaders' Questions in the Dáil.
Addressing the Taoiseach, Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore said: "Of the 150 savage gun murders only one in six has been caught and put away out of society. I know there are difficulties, difficulties of people not talking or being afraid to give evidence.
Over the last three years a staggering 40,000 drugs tests on prison inmates have returned positive with detection rates as high as 75 per cent in some jails.
Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore raised the issue in the Dáil during Leaders' Questions this afternoon when he told the Taoiseach that there is clearly a big drugs problem in our prisons.
He asked the Taoiseach how so many drugs are getting into prison in the first place. Deputy Gilmore also questioned the fact that if drugs are so available in prison, a secure institution, how does he proposed to keep drugs from places of entertainment. Finally Deputy Gilmore asked was there an unofficial policy of keeping prisoners drugged and therefore quiet.