1.5m Antigen Tests in storage

I asked the Taoiseach why the HSE has been keeping at least 1.5 million antigen tests in storage and has only dispatched 35,000 (2%) to date. The Government decision not to distribute them for free is inexplicable.

Figures c/o @RachelLavin https://www.businesspost.ie/coronavirus/hse-sitting-on-stock-of-15-million-antigen-tests-8f55c87e

Type of forestry carried out in Ireland not environmentally sustainable

Clare Independent TD Michael McNamara has told the Dáil that farmers are being prevented from harvesting forestry they plant and there is no incentive to replace monoculture Sitka spruce plantations with something more sustainable.

Deputy McNamara was speaking during a Motion presented to the Dáil by Deputy Jackie Cahill, Cathaoirleach of the Joint committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The Clare TD told Minister of State for Forestry, Senator Pippa Hackett, that the type of forestry being carried out in Ireland is not environmentally sustainable.

He said, “There is no sense of urgency, and farmers are seeing no urgency, with regard to their applications to plant trees or to cut the forestry they have planted, perhaps to replace it with something more environmentally sustainable.”

Deputy McNamara continued, “I hope we are about to see a change because all the talk in the world about afforestation in Glasgow – one can fly anywhere in the world and produce grandiloquent statements – is completely worthless unless it is backed up by what farmers are experiencing on the ground. We need action now as we are nearly half-way through the lifetime of this Government and we need it soon.”

“I ask the Minister of State to move outside her comfort zone. Stop talking to the converted and talk to farmers, ordinary people and landowners. They are the ones who are the future of afforestation in Ireland if there is going to be one. Above all, the Minister of State needs to back up the talk with actions, which have been singularly missing up to now,” he stated.

Rights of way Bill to be published

The Government has confirmed to Clare Independent TD Michael McNamara that the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform (Amendment) Bill will be published imminently.

Responding to Deputy McNamara in the Dáil last night, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said the Bill will begin its passage in the Seanad next week.

Deputy McNamara has previously expressed his support for the short amending Bill that will remove an upcoming deadline to register rights of way.

November 30th had originally been set as a deadline for receipt of applications for a court order to confirm a right by prescription with new rules due to take effect from December 1st.

Deputy McNamara has welcomed the abolition of the deadline proposed under the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform (Amendment) Bill 2021, which he described as “necessary to prevent stress between neighbours and to avoid a large volume of unnecessary court cases to register rights that have existed for generations.”

“In effect, every right of way dispute in the country, and many cases where there is as yet no dispute, would be brought to a head at the end of November, ending up in divisive Court cases with inevitable resultant legal costs,” the Clare farmer and barrister added.

He continued, “Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys has previously acknowledged there is legal uncertainty about how the new rules may be interpreted in practice, and that it has not yet been possible to register many important prescriptive rights. These difficulties are also causing significant delays in conveyancing, and in mortgage and farm loan applications.”

“The approaching deadline has been a cause of concern for many people, particularly farmers, and it also has been raised with the Minister by the Bar Council and the Law Society of Ireland,” added Deputy McNamara.

Should the short amending Bill successfully pass through the Dáil, as expected, the law applicable to prescriptive easements and profits will largely revert to the judge-made law that applied before the Land and Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009. It will still be possible to confirm a prescriptive right, either by applying to court or by registering it directly with the Property Registration Authority. However, this will be optional, as it was before the 2009 Act, rather than a mandatory requirement to avoid losing any rights of way acquired through long use.

Indoor spot for Under 18s

Following my correspondence with Sport Ireland, Basketball Ireland and the Government, I welcome the decision to address the issue of Under 18 games/competitions particularly for Basketball amongst other indoor sports. This has been amended so indoor games/competitions can take place for under 18s. Sport Ireland will shortly provide detail to sporting organisations.