Who's saying what about the new Programme for Government?

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

20.55 15 Jun 2020

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Who's saying what about the ne...

Who's saying what about the new Programme for Government?

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

20.55 15 Jun 2020

Share this article

There has been widespread reaction to a new draft Programme for Government published by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and The Green Party.

The deal is now being considered by members of the three parties.

It includes provisions plans for a rotating Taoiseach and commitments on transport, climate, housing, health and more.


The document also commits the government to the abolition and replacement of the direct provision system.

The new system will be not-for-profit and will include plans for streamlining and speeding up the asylum process.

Direct provision

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) has welcomed the commitment.

Acting Chief Commissioner Dr Frank Conaty said: "We welcome the clear commitment from the parties to ending direct provision set out in the draft Programme for Government.

"If a Government is formed under this programme, the commission looks forward to concrete steps to this end being set out in a white paper before the end of the year, as committed".

"The commission has highlighted the impact of direct provision on the right to family life, private life, and health in particular, as well as its impact on the rights of specific groups such as women and children."

"The policy of direct provision and dispersal does not protect the rights of international protection applicants, and the commission has set out to the State and to the UN our view that this practice amounts to a failure on the part of the State to prevent racial segregation."

Insurance reform

The Alliance for Insurance Reform has also welcomed what it calls the "clear focus" on insurance reform in the draft programme.

Proposals include establishing a Cabinet subcommittee on insurance reform, and for a constitutional amendment to be considered to enable the Oireachtas to set general damages.

Peter Boland, director of the alliance, said: "While we welcome the focus on insurance reform in the programme for government document, we have been here before with the hope offered by the Cost of Insurance Working Group Report in 2017 and the Personal Injuries Commissions Reports in 2018.

"If Irish SMEs and voluntary groups are going to recover from the COVID-19 crisis, we need urgent real reform on foot of the programme for government.

“We will need the full engagement of the next government and particularly the new cabinet sub-committee if we are to make meaningful progress."

"But we will also need the Judicial Council to move swiftly to dramatically reduce general damages for minor injuries; and the Garda Commissioner to establish a full network of divisional fraud units with dedicated fraud investigators and a specialised support unit at the NECB."


The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) has welcomed the measures for pubs.

The document includes a commitment to additional support measures for the hospitality sector on the back of the COVID-19 crisis.

The LVA has been campaigning for assistance for pubs, and says social distancing will dramatically reduce capacity.

It has also welcomed the creation of a night-time economy taskforce, reviewing of the licensing application process and trading hours for pubs.

LVA chief executive Donall O’Keeffe said: "Overall there are a number of very positive measures in this document which, if implemented correctly, will make a major difference to the recovery of the pub sector in this country.

"Of course the devil will be in the detail and that is why we will be seeking to engage extensively with the new government on several of these proposals.

"What is vital is that nothing is done to further damage a pub sector that has been forced to take unparalleled action and which will require support and assistance over the coming months if it is to recover."

"In particular the measures to support pubs and the rest of the hospitality sector in the stimulus plan will be vitally important.

"The pubs in this country are unique."

Overseas aid

Humanitarian aid agency GOAL has also welcomed a commitment for Ireland to make continued progress on its contribution overseas.

GOAL CEO Siobhan Walsh said: "GOAL welcomes the draft Programme for Government commitment to Ireland making annual, sustainable progress to achieve the UN target of ODA [Overseas Development Assistance] of 0.7% of Gross National Income by 2030, and that all Irish aid is to be spent in full compliance with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

She added she is pleased to see the commitment to work with the international community to deal with the growing migrant crisis across the Middle East and North Africa, and to support international efforts to achieve a democratic solution to the crisis in Venezuela - where GOAL is responding to support thousands of Venezuelan refugees in Colombia.

Domestic violence

Safe Ireland says it gives "a cautious welcome" to the draft programme which acknowledges, perhaps for the first time, that there is an "epidemic of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence" and that the infrastructure in place to address it has to be examined.

Mary McDermott, co-CEO of Safe Ireland, said that while the sector’s call for a dedicated minister with responsibility for domestic, sexual and gender based violence was not specifically responded to, the proposal to conduct an immediate audit of how responsibility for Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence is segmented across different government agencies is an acknowledgement that the current infrastructure is not fit for purpose.

"While the commitments in this new Programme for Government answer some of the issues that the sector has raised for many years, it does not address the need for fully resourced coherent oversight, nor the systemic difficulties and challenges that survivors face every day.

"This programme is a welcome acknowledgement that what we have been doing has not been working and that we can do things differently."

"This programme is perhaps the first to send a message to thousands of women and children across the country that they are beginning to be heard.

"It’s a message that they have been waiting for, from successive governments, who have never fully grasped the seriousness and complexity of gender-based violence and have not been prepared to acknowledge that our system for responding to them is broken and needs to be transformed."


SIPTU General-Secretary Joe Cunningham welcomed initiatives to improve the lives of working people and their families - but said the programme falls short in relation to policies on key issues including housing, childcare and collective bargaining rights.

"The commitment made by the three parties not to increase the pension age to 67 reflects the concern of our members and many other voters during the February election campaign and we intend to participate in the proposed review of pensions policy which is contained in this Programme for Government.

"Similarly, the promise to introduce a long-term sustainable funding model for childcare and early education is welcome.

"However, significant investment will be necessary to reduce fees for parents and support quality with improved pay for early years educators and the financial targets are not outlined in the document.

"There are also detailed but largely un-costed commitments which can bring much needed improvements to the health, education and other sectors while workers in the public service will welcome the commitment to negotiate a new agreement on pay and conditions of employment."

"There are welcome aspirations but a lack of ambition in relation to the provision of sufficient numbers of decent, affordable homes to deal with the deepening housing and homeless crisis although the commitment to end the appalling system of direct provision is long overdue."

"There will also be disappointment among our members at the failure to include a commitment to enact the Occupied Territories Bill given the current threat by the government of Israel to annex further large swathes of Palestinian lands."

Older people

Alone, the organisation which supports older people, has welcomed "significantly more references" to older people than previous documents - including policies on the right to home care, the commitment to Sláintecare and positive housing options for older people.

But it said it was disappointed at the lack of reference to the issue of loneliness among older people, "as this is an issue that affects a huge number of older people."

The organisation has also urged the incoming government to appoint a Minister of State for Older People within the Department of the Taoiseach, and a Commissioner for Older People and Demographic Change - who would oversee and deliver the implementation of the National Positive Ageing Strategy.

The organisation has put forward four asks for the incoming government, and believes that these issues must be addressed to improve the quality of life for many older people.

Alone CEO Seán Moynihan said: "We are very supportive of the policies outlined in this document and we are willing to play our part to implement real change for older people in the coming weeks and months."

"There is still work to be done to improve the quality of life for older people across the country.

"The lack of reference to older people in previous government formation documents was a cause of huge concern for us.

"Therefore, we were pleased to see a number of important issues addressed in the document, such the introduction of a commission to examine care and supports for older people, the right to home care and housing supports, and the commitment to the Sláintecare Implementation Plan."

Main image: Composite image of (left to right) Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar. Picture by: Caroline Quinn/Damien Eagers/Leon Farrell/PA Wire/PA Images

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Alone Direct Provision Domestic Violence Fianna Fáil Fine Gael Insurance Reform Irish Human Rights And Equality Commission Night-time Economy Occupied Territories Bill Older People Overseas Aid Programme For Government Pubs Reaction Rotating Taoiseach SIPTU The Green Party

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