Thursday, 9 May 1974
Dáil Eireann Debate
Mr. Lalor: When the House rose last evening a number of Deputies from this side of the House had been endeavouring to get across the message to the Minister about the danger involved in enabling a clerical officer to be a member of a local authority. I listened to the Minister say that this was an exercise in local democracy, it was an arrangement whereby people should be given the opportunity of electing a clerical officer if they so wished.
 It would appear extremely attractive to the man in the street to support the candidature of a clerical officer. There is no doubt that the elector would see, or could visualise, tremendous advantage, on a personal basis, by having a clerical officer in, say, the health or housing section as his representative at county council level. I am speaking about a clerical officer, a man or a woman in that category, irrespective of the party he or she would represent. I am not without experience of membership of local authorities but my experience has been that in the normal course, as a Deputy of this House and as a Minister, I have had occasion to call on or telephone the offices of a county council when, in fact, more than 50 per cent of the time I was conducting my business through a clerical officer. There is no doubt, irrespective of what the Minister may say in relation to the fact that the decision making at County Council level is done by the Manager—my experience of Urban Councils or Town Commissions is not anything as extensive as that at County Council level—the more senior officers take the decisions. Very often, and in fact in most cases, those decisions are taken arising from the background information prepared and supplied by a clerical officer. It is because of that that we, as a group here —the Opposition—are positively opposed to the enabling of a clerical officer becoming a member of a local authority.
I and my Party feel extremely strongly on this. We want to see the field for selection of membership to local authorities widened to the greatest possible extent. But, nonetheless—and I think Deputy Brennan indicated other aspects of this here last evening—in cases where one has a situation that the clerical officer, at a Council meeting, as a member of the County Council, makes his case to the chairman of that County Council, he is inhibited in another way; there is a restriction in this regard: he cannot be as openly critical of the County Manager, the County Engineer or the various senior operatives and officers of the County Council as can the ordinary councillor. Therefore, it  militates against him in that regard. But he does not need to be critical; he has his inside way of trying to get the job done without making the case, as would other councillors, at local authority level. As well as that, it can create a friction between councillors of the one party.
We all have experience enough of local government to know that that is an every day risk one takes. I am standing for the local elections and there is no doubt if I become a councillor and if a colleague on the Fianna Fáil panel, who is a clerical officer and a housing officer in the County Council, also gets elected I feel I am at a disadvantage. I write a letter to the County Council. That person is dealing with the correspondence and I know in the scramble for votes from the electors within my area if that person has some good information it will be rushed out to his or her supporters. I have a lot of experience of this. It is very hard to keep up with a colleague of mine, Deputy Flanagan, and trying to get out good news is not very easy.
Mr. Lalor: I learned in a hard school and I am conscious of the fact that a clerical officer who will write to me this evening or prepare the letter which will be signed by the county secretary giving me a list of six successful applicants for six vacant houses will have an advantage over me. It is natural for him to write six letters to those people telling them he is pleased to inform them, arising from his representations on their behalf, that they have got the vacant houses.
Mr. Lalor: It is the type of thing we are trying to get away from. The Minister, when referring to this yesterday, said he had his mind made up, he was standing over this and that this was what he proposed to do. I am glad that in some instances we have been able to get around this. Deputy  Molloy has some amendments in for Report Stage which I understand the Minister is willing to accept. This is the problem of last minute legislation. I believe the Minister sees the logic of the argument on this side of the House in regard to this but that the time factor in order to put in an order is the deterring factor in accepting the logic of that argument. I ask the Minister, even at this stage, to accept the fact that it will not be beneficial to the structure of local authority and the democratic system on which local authorities are made up to include the clerical officer grade into the local authority scene.
Mr. Tully: I do not want to hold up the House but I want to say that the time factor has nothing at all to do with this. I made a decision that clerical officers should be in. I gave the reasons on a number of occasions yesterday. I think every argument that could be made for and against this has been made. I accept the fact that the Opposition appear to think that it is wrong and we think it is right. There is a clash of opinion here and further argument by me will not alter that situation. It is as simple as that.
Mr. Cunningham: In the Constituencies Bill the Minister said we could like it or lump it, that the Government would guillotine the Bill through. That was his attitude then when there was all the time in the world to have a revision of the constituencies.
Mr. Cunningham: If he wants us to discuss logically and reasonably in this House, with him and for the benefit of the House, our points of view and if the time limit to the 18th of June is not sufficient let him add a week to it.
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Cunningham, we are on amendment No. 1 in the name of Deputy Molloy. I am anxious that the Deputy would address his remarks to that subject and nothing else. He has made no reference to the amendment up to now despite the admonition of the Chair.
Mr. Cunningham: The amendment seeks to delete a certain type of candidate who can be elected on the 18th of June. My point is we are entitled to discuss our amendment on the desirability of selecting or deleting certain types of candidates. If the Minister says we have not got the time  to discuss it then the 18th of June is not sacrosanct.
Mr. Cunningham: I am making the case that in order to discuss the amendment to section 24 we need time. The Minister has already said that there is not any time. We think it is necessary to have time to discuss this amendment very fully. To allow us time to discuss it he should change the date of the elections. I know that due to legislation they must be held in the month of June.
Mr. Cunningham: It is statutory that they be held in June. As already stated we do not agree that clerical officers who become county councillors should be allowed to remain in the employment of county councils and work in different sections of them.
In a county council office the allocation of houses is dealt with as well as supplementary grants for new houses, reconstruction grants, water and sewerage supplementary grants and a variety of other grants and housing loans. In those circumstances I certainly do not think it right that  a clerical officer in a county council housing section or grant section should be a member of the county council. The Minister argues the rate collector is out because he handles money and because he is dealing intimately with the public. If the Minister cannot see the logic of the case we are making, could he insert something on Report Stage to the effect that, in the event of a clerical officer being elected, a clerical officer dealing with the kinds of matters referred to by Deputy Molloy yesterday and Deputy Lalor today, in certain sections of the county council he will be transferred to a section where he will not deal with matters like these? That will only be a stopgap of course. The proper approach is to do what the amendment seeks to do, namely, put him in the same boat as rate collectors and others.
Consider the situation in which a motion might be put down to have the salary or emoluments of the clerical manager stopped. If the clerical officer, a minor employee under the manager, votes to have the manager's salary stopped, where will that clerical officer find himself? Will the manager be big-hearted enough to overlook it? There are endless possibilities. There are numberless areas in which there will obviously be a clash of interests between the clerical officer and the county manager. Personally, I do not think any clerical officer is going to be a candidate in this election.
Mr. Cunningham: ——my beautiful blue eyes. The Minister points to himself on every occasion as a paragon of virtue who will not do certain things. Everybody else is guilty of  hooky business. The Minister never does any hooky business.
Mr. Cunningham: I do not know where in the clerical scale a town clerk comes; he is not excluded according to this and a clerical officer is. Can a town clerk become a member of (a) his own local authority and (b)—I am sorry. I think the Minister can gather from the discussion so far and the points we have put forward that we are trying to avoid a situation which could become very awkward for everybody. I will not go over the points Deputy Lalor made except to say that they are very valid points. I know myself that when a housing scheme is allocated a lot of county councillors get on their bicycles and very quickly become the bearers of the good news. The clerical officer, if this goes through, will have a head start. He can be on his bicycle a week, or even longer, before any county councillor.
He can deliver by word of mouth, or by telephone, or by any other means, the glad tidings to the lucky tenant appointed. He can be the bearer of the good news of the supplementary grant of £230 through his efforts as a county councillor and not as a clerical officer. He can say: “Through my good offices as a county councillor, and due to the influence which I used on your behalf and on behalf of your family, a supplementary grant will be paid to you inside a very short time. As a matter of fact, I will see to it that it will go out on Friday next.” Of course, the unfortunate applicant will not know that Friday is the day on which county councils send out all supplementary grants.
This is ludicrous. I appeal to the Minister to amend legislation which will create that situation all over the country, not in one office but in many offices. He will remedy that situation if he accepts the amendment now before the House. The same situation could apply in the health office where a clerical officer is processing  medical card applications prior to forwarding them to the county MOH. He knows the recommendations. He probably writes out the cards himself, the manager having Okayed the list of successful medical card applicants. It is the clerical officer who does the spadework. He writes out the medical cards and sends them to the clerk typist who sends them out by post.
Again he gets out the bicycle. He is a county councillor and the poor widow on the side of the hill is notified that, due to his activities as a member of the county council, and due to the pressure he put on, he was able to get her and her children a medical card. The other county councillors will be notified by letter a week later. They will send a letter from the county council to the widow and she will say: “Thank you for nothing.”
Getting away altogether from clerical officers in the employment of the county council, what about clerical officers in other Departments, or officers in other Departments of the same standard as the county council? Take for instance, a clerical officer in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, or a man in the field equal in status to the clerical officer who is dealing with farmers' grants. Will that person be allowed to become a candidate? The Minister's proposal seeks to allow clerical officers to be candidates. The amendment tries to remedy something which we think is wrong and to delete clerical officers.
Has the Minister consulted with other Ministers? What we feel about clerical officers in the employment of a local authority may have the same validity. Will clerical officers in the Department of Lands, or the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, or in the Minister's own Department be eligible? I should like to have that clarified.
Mr. Andrews: I think I am entitled to give the preamble to that actual expression. We consider this to be an extremely reasonable amendment. I am trying to get to the  psychology of the Minister's refusal to accept it. When I use the expression “this great liberal” I mean that when he is put on the horseback of Government he grinds the Opposition. He refuses to accept the amendment so reasonably put by the Opposition. When I used the expression: “Put a beggar on horseback” in the first instance, that is what I meant.
Mr. Andrews: It is a very reasonable expression. When the Minister was in Opposition he was a great liberal and now when he is put in the saddle of Government he tries to grind the Opposition and that is why he will not accept the amendment.
Mr. Andrews: I am not making a personal attack on the Minister. I am just trying to explain the Minister's attitude in refusing to accept the Opposition's very reasonable amendment about the exclusion of clerical officers——
Mr. Andrews: I am not attacking the Minister in his personal capacity. I am attacking him in his corporate capacity as Minister for Local Government.  I am trying to get to the basis of his reason for refusing the very reasoned amendments put down by the Opposition on so many occasions to the point where he has actually introduced a guillotine. This may be another occasion on which he will have to grind the Opposition through the use of the guillotine. This great liberal Minister, representative of all the other great liberals when they were in Opposition——
Mr. Andrews: I am trying to explain the reasons why this amendment will not be accepted by the Government. I have to get to the basis of it and I must create my arguments on that point. I am trying to convince the Minister that he should accept the amendment in Deputy Molloy's name and argued so well by Deputy Molloy, Deputy Lalor, Deputy Cunningham and others. There is another expression in the English language. I am sorry to be using cliches but sometimes they help in getting to the basis of why an amendment will not be accepted.
During the course of an interchange between himself and the Minister, Deputy Crinion indicated that the Minister had a specific interest in some person, a clerical officer who may be running on the Labour ticket. Therefore, not only had he let the cat out of the bag but he had let a pal out of the bag. That is one of the many reasons why the Minister will not accept the amendment. He has a pal, a clerical officer —I do not know the man's name and I do not want to know his name——
Mr. Andrews: The Minister then admits that he has a clerical officer, a decent man—no doubt about it, I am sure—running in the name of the Labour Party and he is probably an influential man in that area, in the political sense of the word, not in relation to the office he holds. I should like to make that quite clear.
Mr. Andrews: That is what I say— influential in the Labour Party in his area and obviously influential with the Minister to the point where the Minister is prepared to stand fast on behalf of the man to ensure that he becomes a candidate in the local election. I should like the Minister to deny that when he stands up, if he does want to deny it. He may not want to. He may not want to deny a friend. That is reasonable. We can understand that. Why should he deny a friend? If the Minister has a friend a clerical officer running for local election and does not want to say anything on it, good, bad or indifferent, we certainly would understand and accept that.
There is another aspect of Deputy Molloy's amendment which has not been discussed or which certainly has only been touched on, that is the matter of a clerical officer who is actually elected to a local authority. He then finds himself in the position of writing to himself. What happens in such a case? You have councillor Seán Andrews writing to clerical officer Seán Andrews, and vice versa. Here you would have a confused and confusing situation. You have a councillor writing on behalf of himself to a clerical officer who is himself and the clerical officer writing on behalf of himself as a clerical officer to himself as a councillor. This introduces the element of high farce.
Mr. Andrews: Of course he would. That is an excellent point. The clerical officer would have an advantage over other councillors in that he would get free postage when writing as a clerical officer to himself as councillor whereas in his capacity as councillor he would have to pay postage when writing to himself.
Mr. Andrews: The Minister is not being serious about this matter. We are in no way reflecting on the capacity or ability or capability of clerical officers. They are a worthy group of citizens doing a very good job within their own terms of employment. I think I have made it clear that it is our view, under all the circumstances, that they should be precluded from local authorities. I believe that the vast majority of clerical officers do not wish to be candidates or to have the opportunity of being candidates at local elections. Unquestionably they are a group of men who do a very good job. The position that they hold is a position of trust. It is the ratepayer who pays them. It would seem to me and I believe to the vast majority of this group of people that they should not be asked to seek election to local authorities. The reality of the position is as we have outlined it. The Minister, a former liberal, now seeks to grind the Opposition.
Mr. Andrews: The first point is that the Minister just will not accept the Opposition's amendment. It is an Opposition amendment and consequently is not acceptable. The second reason, as we have said, is that the pal is out of the bag, that the Minister has a pal, a clerical officer, running for election to the local authority in his own area or in some part of the country—just to take the pressure off the Minister's own area, so as not to personalise it or narrow it down to an individual who can be identified. The third point is that you have a clerical officer in fact dealing with himself. That is the most  serious aspect. The Minister made the point that a person would write to the secretary of the local authority and that a councillor would write to the secretary of the local authority. Suppose there is a problem which concerns a clerical officer in his capacity as clerical officer which he alone can deal with, arising out of a query from himself as a councillor. What is the position in that case? The query comes from the secretary to the local authority and it is passed down the conduit pipe of administration and comes back to the secretary and then goes back to the councillor who has submitted the problem in his capacity as councillor. There you have an extraordinary position.
We do not want to be hard on the Minister. We do not want to put him in the position of upsetting himself. On the contrary we want to make life easy for him and to make things as pleasant as possible for him. On a number of occasions here we have got the impression that the Minister does not want to make things easy for the Opposition. Here you have a very reasoned amendment put down by the Opposition. We are discussing the Report Stage and here the Minister has a further opportunity of showing his intention to give the Opposition an opportunity of showing that they are as concerned as he is about legislation which is passed by the House. We feel strongly about this section and about the amendment to the point where it might be considered that by standing up minute after minute, hour after hour, we are filibustering. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reasons we are pursuing this matter are: (1) we feel strongly about it; (2)—not necessarily in order of priority—we believe it makes for good order in the structure of local authority, and (3) we believe that clerical officers who hold very important positions in local government administration and elsewhere—positions of trust—should stick rigidly to the principle of trust and not be asked to accept an added burden—and indeed honour—of being a local councillor. A councillor's position is extremely onerous. Deputy Belton spoke  of the clerical officer posting correspondence as clerical officer to himself in his capacity as councillor and said he would have free postage. The sooner local councillors have free postage the better.
Mr. Andrews: I brought this matter up on a number of occasions. I know it is not strictly relevant but it comes up on the point of a clerical officer writing to himself in his capacity as local councillor. I believe local representatives should have free postage.
Mr. Andrews: I very much appreciate the patience of the Ceann Comhairle and of the Minister on this occasion in listening to me with such attention. I know the Minister was very interested and I have no doubt that he will reply in his own inimitable fashion.
Mr. Briscoe: When I first read this section, I remarked that it was scandalous. First, I believe that there is a conflict of interest involved. I can visualise a situation where, say, a colleague of mine from a different party on the council was working in the housing section and I had to go to him or a letter of mine to the chief allocations officer is handed down to him to see what the position is in regard to a person allocated a house. He will get the very latest information appertaining to somebody in my constituency and I have no guarantee that he will not whisper in the ears of one of his colleagues in my constituency “By the way, so-and-so has an extra child now and  qualifies for a house. You had better get up there because Briscoe is just getting the information out in a letter.” That is one of the abuses that could happen. It might be a Fianna Fáil clerical officer and it might operate the other way. It could happen with any party. There is that possibility of abuse unless the county manager were to say: “This is a very sensitive department. We shall have to transfer you elsewhere.” The county manager would not necessarily do that because there is no law that says he should.
In a conversation with a member of the Minister's party whose name I do not intend to repeat he agreed there can be a conflict of interest. There might be a situation where a clerical officer who is a member of the council said something at a council or committee meeting. Afterwards, the county manager might well say to him: “Whose side are you on?” A nod is as good as a wink and this fellow might feel that if he does not toe the establishment line promotion may be very far off. I know that when he is promoted above a certain grade he can no longer be a councillor. I think it is pretty certain that nobody will refuse promotion to stay on a county council which is an unpaid job. Yet, there may be that conflict of interest.
Frequently, when I am talking to groups and I am asked to say what is the role of a public representative I have said that we act as a buffer between the people and the bureaucrats to see that bureaucracy does not become too impersonal and remote from the people. We can go in and say: “This man got an explanation; he is not satisfied with it. We want to know why.” We can get that personal attention which the person himself might not get. Here we have a situation where a bureaucrat is allowed to seek election under this Bill and therefore you have a bureaucrat acting as a buffer between the people and himself. There is a basic contradiction here. I am genuinely unhappy about this. It is not a political matter with me. I am not interested in the argument  that if these people are in, rate collectors should be in.
Mr. Briscoe: I felt that even when Deputy Molloy was making the point yesterday that there was no reason to exclude rate collectors if clerical officers were being included, he was not making a case for their inclusion. I do not want my argument diluted by bringing in what somebody else said. Other speakers can explain what they themselves mean. To summarise, I believe there is a conflict of interest; I believe this is fundamental to democracy, and a clerical officer, as a member of a council, may well be afraid to oppose his county manager.
Mr. Briscoe: He is scarcely likely to tell the manager to do anything like that because his future promotion may be affected. There is a conflict of interest between the people and their public representatives and the bureaucracy and there is a conflict of interests between the manager and his employee or the man he is subject to. This could lead to considerable embarrassment.
Mr. Crowley: If the Minister examines our amendment he will see that it is a most reasonable one. Being an intelligent man he must be as conscious as we are of the dangers and abuses that his proposal can bring about. The Minister in his statement last night tried to convey the impression that a clerical officer is not really in a position of influence; that he is working under instructions or orders and has not any power to make decisions that would be relevant. Those of us who know the position agree in principle with what the Minister is saying that per se they do not make decisions but they have a  tremendous influence on any decisions that are made. Any research or spade work that has to be done in a department of a local authority is generally carried out by the clerical officer. That officer presents his report to the staff officer who, in turn, presents it to the superior. The clerical officer could slant that report in any way he wished.
I do not think a clerical officer should be in a position where he would have a conflict of interests. We have also the situation where other councillors would be making representations to the department that the clerical officer works in. That clerical officer would be able to see all representations made by every other councillors. That is most unfair to the other councillors and, again, it is putting the clerical officer in a most invidious position. For a long time we in Cork County Council have tried to get rid of and stamp out as much as possible a councillor getting a housing list and going around telling the people who succeeded that he was successful in getting them a house.
Mr. Crowley: Maybe not but, nevertheless, it was done but we brought about a situation in Cork where no councillor has access to a housing list until the people themselves have been informed. Now we are creating a situation where this whole system, this despicable system, can again become rife as a result of clerical officers being in a privileged position and having access to this type of information. A clerical officer will be in a position to inform people if they are successful. The clerical officer may not say outright that he was the cause of a person obtaining a house but he might imply that it was as a result of his representations that that person was granted a house.
I know many clerical officers in Cork County Council and I do not think they would wish to have this facility made available to them. I cannot believe either that because there is a clerical officer going in the Minister's own constituency that is the  reason he is pushing this but it is very hard to get any other reason for it. The Minister is a reasonable man in most cases and he must see that the arguments put up by us are very valid arguments and ones that can sincerely hold.
Mr. Crowley: Because they are in very similar positions with access to the public. I agree with the Minister's reasons for not allowing other officers to stand but he must be consistent and say that clerical officers are in a similar position because they have access to privileged, and in some cases, highly confidential information. In the planning department, where no councillor has access to the full facts in regard to any planning application, a clerical officer, if he were a councillor, would have access to this type of information. Such an officer would be in a position to tell an applicant for planning permission that if he changed his application in some way by, for instance, adding wooded land or shrubbery, he would be granted planing permission. That information would not be available to the ordinary councillor.
Mr. Crowley: I accept that a councillor may gain access to them but only in exceptional cases. The clerical officer who is a councillor has no trouble in getting access to them but the ordinary councillor has to go through a very rigid procedure and then he can only gain access to these files in exceptional cases. The point  I have been making with regard to housing and planning is equally valid for medical cards.
Mr. Crowley: It is the situation. We can equally have the situation which applies with regard to housing and planning and medical cards, a very emotive issue. Because of his position and knowledge of circumstances of people a clerical officer, if he were a councillor, could easily go along to a person who has made application and inform him that now that there has been an increase in his family or a change in his circumstances he is entitled to a medical card. This clerical officer could tell such a person to apply for this card and as a result that person could be granted one. If the Minister is consistent why should not the clerical officer on health boards be allowed to stand?
Mr. Crowley: How does the Minister make a statement then to the effect that it is a matter for somebody else and not for him? I think the Minister should be consistent and explain to the House who exactly is responsible. Whose tail is being wagged and which dog is wagging it?
Mr. Tully: I am not going to knock down every Aunt Sally put up by Deputy Crowley. Deputy Crowley has been reasonably fair so far. He should not put up Aunt Sallys and expect me to knock them down for him. If he wants to do that, that is his own affair.
Mr. Tully: No, I do not think it has. If I did, I would accept it immediately. I said yesterday afternoon, and I have repeated it a hundred times since, that the Fianna Fáil Party do believe it reasonable. I do not. We are locked there.
If I accepted Deputy Molloy's amendment, it would not make one bit of difference to the position. I could do that and just pass it over afterwards but I am not prepared to do that. I would rather put the facts on the table.
Mr. Molloy: On a point of explanation, in the document which the Minister circulated and in which he indicated the extent of the proposed orders he intended making if this Bill passes, he states under the heading “Local Authorities” (Section 24(1)):
Mr. Tully: My information is that clerical officers are not accepted as administrative staff and therefore are not included at all. Anyway, whether or not that is included, I could easily have accepted the thing, said nothing about it and brought in an order. But that would be unfair to the House.
Mr. Crowley: I would agree that that would be unfair. If the Minister considers that that would be deceitful, he should not do it and I know he would not do it. Nevertheless the proposed orders under section 24 of the Local Elections Bill are exactly what Deputy Molloy's amendment means and, as he said, under section 24, subsection (1) the intention would be to exclude from the operation of section 21, subsection (1) of the Local Government Act, 1955, all employees who are not officers and all officers except the following—all administrative staff down to but not including the rank of clerical officer  and all town clerks. In wording this is practically identical to Deputy Molloy's amendment.
Mr. Tully: The Deputy has rapped at the Bill and made all the petty arguments he could. He firmly believes he is right and I believe he is wrong. We can continue arguing about it but it will not alter the position. That is the point I am making.
Mr. Crowley: We had the Minister for Defence coming in here a couple of weeks ago disowning the document on the White Paper and saying that no member of the Government had anything to do with it. Surely the Minister for Local Government is not disowning this document?
Mr. Crowley: I would accept the Minister's document saying that clerical officers are members of the administrative staff. If the contrary is the case why did the Minister circulate this document? He says it is loosely worded. I do not think we should have any loosely worded documents coming into this House——
Mr. Crowley: The Minister must be consistent. I would even say “equivalent”. I would argue with the Minister on that one, on equivalent grades in any Department of Government or indeed in departments under the local authority. If he is consistent he should certainly grant it to everybody, or grant this right to all equivalent grades.
Mr. Crowley: Is the Minister telling me that they are allowed to run? The Minister knows, as I know, that they are not allowed run but the Minister is trying to imply that they are allowed run. Again this is further deception in the House. The Minister and I know very well they are not allowed to run. Yet in order to gain a petty point he tries to imply that they are allowed run.
Mr. Crowley: The Minister does not know his facts. The Minister says one moment that clerical officers are not on the administrative staff and yet he issues a document to us saying that they are. The Minister should clear up his facts before he corrects anybody else. It is not good enough to treat this House in this fashion. Because, as I said earlier, we are just as responsible for legislation passing through here as is the Minister; and if shoddy or loose legislation gets through it can be a reflection on the Opposition as much as on the Government.
Mr. Crowley: We are responsible for not letting shoddy or unfair legislation get through. If the Minister could give me just one good reason  why he wants to put clerical officers into the position of standing for election to local authorities, I would be quite prepared to accept his amendment. Indeed one is forced to the conclusion that the only reason he has for pushing through this petty legislation is because he has got somebody going into his own area on his own ticket, because I know of no other——
Mr. Crowley: I am sorry the Minister is taking it like that. Any reasonable man wondering why a Minister for Local Government would try to push through this piece of legislation would be very hard pressed to find a reason for it because it is a totally inconsistent piece of legislation. From our side of the House we are not opposing it because it has any political advantages or kudos for us; it has not. We are opposing it because it is unfair and discriminatory.
The Minister should be reasonable. He should tell us why he has selected clerical officers for this treatment, because otherwise one is forced to the conclusion that because he has a Labour Party clerical officer going up in his own constituency he has presented this document to the House. He must be a very influential man if he can get the Minister to introduce special legislation in order to allow him to stand for the local elections. If the Minister wants to get on quickly with the other sections of this Bill he should give us valid reasons why he wants to include clerical officers in this legislation or else accept our amendment, which is very reasonable.
Mr. Timmons: I should like to say a few words in support of the amendment put forward by Deputy Molloy. I do not want to repeat the arguments made by previous speakers on this side of the House. However, as a member of a local authority for a great number of years, I want to say  there is no public demand I am aware of in this city and, I am sure, throughout the country that people involved in the very responsible work of administering local authority affairs should become members of of local authorities.
I can visualise that it could be a great embarrassment to clerical officers to be elected to local councils or corporations. There are a number of functions reserved to local authorities. I want to refer particularly to section 4. From my reading of the provincial Press I see that certain county councils exercise their rights in compelling the county manager to carry out certain functions. I am sure it would be a disadvantage to a clerical officer if he were put in the position of having to take a decision against his own manager. No elected representative, who is in a dual capacity of public representative and administrator, should be put in that position by any legislation. A clerical officer could be discussing policy with the city manager and he could come in conflict with the points of view put forward in relation to certain matters of administration. I cannot understand why the Minister introduced this section.
Many clerical officers working in local authorities have graduated to higher posts. I do not think they want this legislation. I am sure I am speaking for many of them when I say they do not want to be involved in public affairs on the lines suggested in this section. A clerical officer in a county council or a corporation could be working in what has been described this morning as a sensitive area such as planning, housing or sanitary services. If that person is elected to a council and the public know that he can be seen in his office at the local council or corporation they could go in and discuss administrative matters in which he is involved. This is a most undesirable trend. I do not wish to deny anybody the opportunity of being elected to a county council or corporation but we should draw the line and ensure that the people engaged in administration are not put in the position I have outlined.
Mr. Dowling: I should like, speaking in favour of the amendment, to correct the erroneous impression which the Minister has endeavoured to create on the liberalisation of the worker in relation to elections. Our party are in favour of that provided there is no conflict, and the Minister should realise this. The various speakers have indicated very clearly where the conflict lies. This is purely a propaganda effort by the Minister to work up clerical officers against the Opposition party and so cause a division between members of local authorities and members of the Opposition. The Minister knows that any reasonable Opposition would endeavour to indicate clearly where the conflict lies. The Minister tries to paint a different picture, tries to show that the Opposition are anticlerical officer; but this is not so.
The politically free now are in greater numbers than they were some years ago. It is time an effort was made to free many more people from the shackles that bound them for so long and give them an opportunity to participate in political affairs. It is wrong to say that we have no regard for this section of the workers. Is there a demand from the various trade unions or the clerical officers for permission to participate as candidates in the local elections? My information is that there appears to be no demand from them in this regard. The question of making more people politically free is a matter which has been long delayed, but I think the present effort by the Minister is propaganda to work up the staff of local authorities against the Opposition.
The Minister probably feels that this will pay off in the coming years, that it will be mentioned that the Opposition party were against this. There will be no rush of candidates and I am sure the Minister knows that most of the candidates have already been selected. The conflict which has arisen could be solved by acceptance of Deputy Molloy's amendment. I believe the Minister feels this is proper. If it is the intention to work up members of local authorities  against members of the Opposition the Minister will rue this at some stage because I am quite sure it will backfire.
Would a clerical officer on a country council, if elected, bring all the staff problems to the county council chamber and by-pass the union? Does the Minister want to create a situation where trade unions are by-passed by clerical officers, that they would bring staff matters to the council floor and discuss them there? This would mean that every time there is a conflict between the clerical officer and the manager that manager would be threatened with the council. It is a very serious situation that the manager could be threatened with the council and that the clerical officer would be in a position to bring the matter to council level and so by-pass decisions made by the manager or force decisions in the council either by means of section 4 or other means.
Mr. Dowling: Who would be the boss? Would it be the manager or the clerical officer? Remember, the latter will have more power than the manager in some respects. The manager has certain managerial powers but the clerical officer elected as a member of the council will have more powers than the manager. If he is elected chairman of the council what will be his position in relation to the manager?
The Minister spoke at some length about workers' democracy. He has not a clue. If he wants to introduce workers' democracy he and his Government can do it by bringing in the necessary legislation here. What the Minister talks about is not workers' democracy. Workers' democracy is much more than the election of someone to a county council. Workers' democracy connotes decision making. The Minister is trying to confuse the situation by suggesting we are anti-workers' democracy. The go-slow in workers' democracy has come from the Minister's own party and from other members of the Government  parties. One wants workers' democracy and others say we are going too fast and it should not be introduced until it has been fully examined. If the Minister is so concerned let him introduce workers' democracy. We will give him all the assistance we can. We believe there should be workers' democracy and participation, but participation at that level is completely different from participation at a political level.
There is no comparison between workers' participation in a workers' democracy and participation as public representatives. I am rather surprised the Minister would even attempt to speak about such a matter at this stage when other members of his own party have been so loud in their condemnation of efforts to impose workers' democracy on employers. They say we are going too fast and people should have time to think. Then the Minister comes in here and says this is what this Bill is about. It is not and the Minister should not confuse the issue and all the grinning in the world will not get the Minister out of this situation.
Mr. Dowling: I was dealing with the Minister's allegation last night that we are anti-workers democracy and that we have shown this by our action here. I was pointing out that the Minister is very confused in regard to this particular matter. His statements clearly indicate that he either does not know what workers' democracy is all about or he is deliberately trying to confuse the issue. If the Minister is as concerned as he appears to be he should set up a system whereby members of local authorities would have proper workers' democracy introduced in staff matters. That is quite a simple thing to do and we hope the Minister will now pursue the course he charted  last night. But, remember, it is different from the political situation where servants of local authorities are concerned in participation. The Minister knows that perfectly well.
As has been pointed out, the logical development may well be an entire takeover of local authorities by the staffs of those authorities. That would create a peculiar situation. These people would be in a position to acquire information which would not be available to public representatives and they could, in fact, have an advantage as against outsiders presenting themselves for election. This would be very wrong and such a situation should not be allowed to develop. They would also be in a position to convey information to others, information which would not be available to the ordinary public representative. This would be a very serious situation.
How serious would the Minister regard the situation in which there was an entire takeover of council seats by members of the staff of the county council? What would be the situation then? There would be no democracy inside or outside the council. The question of public representation is important. People must represent the community on a very broad basis. The Minister's intention must be to see a situation develop in which the staff could take over and do the job. I do not know what will be gained by that. It would cause confusion and eliminate democracy in the councils.
The cost of getting this Bill through must be fairly substantial. The cost of the discussions which took place up to now on this Bill must be fairly substantial. If this is the cost of a friend, that friend is a fairly expensive one.
Mr. Dowling: The indications are that a clerical officer has been nominated in some section of the country and that this Bill is an effort to ensure his survival as a candidate. If there were a large-scale demand from the unions that these people should  participate as candidates, I could well understand it. I have been in touch with a number of union members in Dublin and I asked them has there been any such demand and no one seemed to know of any demand either at his own branch level or at national level.
This is purely a propaganda effort by the Minister to try to work up servants of a local authority against people who oppose the Minister's proposal in principle. The Minister has to answer the various questions posed by Deputy Briscoe, Deputy Crowley and Deputy Timmons. It will be interesting to hear the Minister's reply. The question I would pose is in connection with the topic the Minister introduced on many occasions last evening, that was, workers' democracy. This is not workers' democracy. The Minister has a very confused idea of workers' democracy. I am sorry for him. He is probably sorry himself that he introduced this Bill because I am quite sure that, when it is analysed, he will be the laughingstock of the Labour Party. If the Minister has some form of workers' democracy other than the generally accepted form of workers' democracy, we hope he will indicate what it is. If it is that workers' democracy is a system which will involve political representation together with ordinary representation at the staff level or supervisory level, we would like to hear that from the Minister.
Already there have been comments inside this House and I am sure there will be comments outside the House when the Minister's speech is studied. This was just thrown in to create confusion. When he gets in no doubt the Minister will endeavour to blow hot and cold on some of the statements made. If he is sincere in what he says, we hope he will introduce a Bill at the earliest possible moment to give these people the type of representation he feels they should get. He will certainly get plenty of support in evolving a system.
Even members of his own party who cried very loudly in Opposition  about worker participation and workers' democracy are now saying that this should be thought about a second time. Possibly these statements were somewhat of an embarrassment to the Minister and he is now trying to salvage the situation as other Ministers have done in the course of the past week. So conflicting have been the reports of the views of Ministers on some aspects of Government that the public do not know exactly what the true situation is. Every Minister appears to be a law unto himself.
Mr. Dowling: Tonight the Minister for Defence or some other Minister might well state that the aspect which the Minister for Local Government is now trying to force through has not got general Government sanction. We would like to know if it has the consent of the Government in every respect or is this one of Deputy Tully's——
Mr. Dowling: ——the Minister's pet subjects in order to cause the disruption I mentioned earlier on and to ensure that the friend is entitled to contest the election at any cost? The question of the conflict has been dealt with at great length by many speakers. Deputy Molloy covered it extensively. The Minister should give some consideration to this rather than giving a dogmatic refusal to a constructive amendment.
The Minister must know that it is the duty of the Opposition to ensure that reasonable arguments are put forward against his proposal if they feel so inclined. On this occasion Deputy Molloy feels that this conflict is of major importance and he has put forward his views and his amendments. The Minister should at least consider this amendment, having listened to the many speakers who put forward many points of view. I hope the Minister will answer clearly the questions posed in relation to this conflict and let us know what the situation would be if the entire staff  of a local authority because the entire membership of that authority.
Mr. Tully: Deputy Dowling raised so many points which have no relevance to the matter under debate that it is very difficult for somebody like myself to answer them. The last one he raised—and I think he mentioned it three times—was that the entire county council could be taken over by the staff. He seems to think in some peculiar way—I would not like to try to imagine how Deputy Dowling thinks —that the staff of the county council could all be elected and that the elector's views would not enter into it at all. I do not think I need to go any further on that. It is the electorate who elect the council. They select the councillors they want. If Deputy Dowling thinks for a minute, I am quite sure——
Mr. Tully: If the Opposition want to yelp while I am talking I will sit down and let them get up again. I am entitled to make a statement and I intend to do so. The argument put forward on this point by Deputy Dowling is so ludicrous that I do not think it is worth following it any further. He is talking sheer, utter nonsense. Of course that is his stock-in-trade.
Mr. Tully: Deputy Crinion threw into the debate—he was not making a statement—a suggestion that my reason for including clerical officers was that there is a clerical officer in Meath who is standing as a candidate.
Mr. Molloy: For the Labour Party. Fianna Fáil and Deputy Crinion were satisfied that this was a good reason for making an amendment. They were judging the Government by their standards which, as I told them on a number of occasions before, is a very foolish thing to do because the  standards now are so much higher than they were. Quite some time ago the Government took a decision on the level at which representation would be allowed on the county councils. This is a Government decision. Is Deputy Dowling surprised? You suggest it was one of my own. It is a Government decision. You should know it now.
Mr. Tully: A Cheann Comhairle, I am sorry. Would the Deputy just sit quite for a minute and take his medicine? He was very good at throwing out stuff. Would he just listen to the other side of the story? This decision was taken quite some time ago. A person was referred to by name by Deputy Crinion. It just shows the standard he believes in. He mentioned in this House a person who he knew was not here to defend himself—a very decent man. This person was not a clerical officer at the time the decision was taken. He has since been promoted. That is beside the point. Can anybody in his sober senses suggest therefore that the decision taken by the Government had relation to something which happened subsequent to that decision being taken? May I go a bit further?
Mr. Tully: In the Fianna Fáil benches there is a very decent man who was employed as a staff officer by the county council. That man asked me particularly if he went back to the grade of clerical officer would there be any difficulty about his standing? I am quite aware that with the pulls here and there in Fianna Fáil and the difficulty they have in agreeing between any two as to what they stand for or who should be in any particular place, maybe somebody might not like him to stand. I would not like to judge what the effect would be. This decent man asked me the question and I told him that as far as I was concerned if he was a clerical officer I could see no reason  why he should not stand and most certainly I would not put any obstacle in his way. This being so, it amazes me, unless there is something that I do not know anything about inside the workings of the party, that objection is being made to this grade of clerical officer being allowed to stand for the local authority. Clerical officers throughout the country— Deputy Dowling seems to have interviewed them all and says that they do not want to stand; I did not do that. They must be cock-a-hoop because today they are most important people.
Mr. Molloy: Could I ask one question in relation to what the Minister has just said? Is the person that the Minister has referred to who he indicated was a member of the Fianna Fáil party employed on a daily basis now and working in a local authority office?
Mr. Tully: The position is that that man said that he felt that having been seconded in order to contest the Dáil election or because he was a Member of the Dáil, if he lost his seat he would think it unfair that he should go back as a staff officer to the county council, that in his position as clerical officer on the county council he would be in a position where he would be perfectly entitled to represent the public at county council level. That has come from a Member of the Opposition, a man for whom I have  great respect and who frankly told me what he proposed to do. I respect him for this.
Mr. Tully: He himself suggested it. I did not. If the knife was put in his back as deeply as it was in Des Foley's, for instance, of course he could lose his seat. It all depends on what way Fianna Fáil feel about him when the election comes and, as a sensible man, he did say to me, “I feel it would not be right that I should go back. If I were a clerical officer it would be all right and” he said, “I am making this case”. I think the man was right and I respect him for it. That was an honest opinion from a respected member of the Fianna Fáil Party who had no political axe to grind. He was simply making a statement. That does away with an awful lot——
We have had the question of who should be entitled to stand and who should not. Deputy Crowley, an intelligent man, usually fair-minded, went back to something that Deputy Molloy said yesterday but which he did not mention this morning. Deputy Crowley felt that if clerical officers were to stand then rate collectors should stand. Things cannot be gauged in that way. If it is all right to leave rate collectors out, which apparently it is this morning with everybody except Deputy Crowley, what bearing has that on clerical officers? Every clerical officer in the country must be delighted with the status they have got from the Fianna Fáil Party in this House, a status they did not get so easily when the Fianna Fáil Party were in power. They did not think so much of them then. Now  they are wonderful people. They can, in fact, push the county manager around. Deputy Dowling was afraid of a section 4 motion affecting staff issues on a council. He should know that section 4 could not be applied in a case like that and he need have no fear. Issues referred to the county manager will be dealt with by the county manager and the trade unions and will not be a matter which can be discussed at the council level. He should know that.
Mr. Tully: I said no such thing. I said that a clerical officer elected to the council could not move a section 4 motion dealing with staff matters and Deputy Dowling did not know that section 4 does not apply to staff matters. It specifically excludes staff matters. The record will show that Deputy Dowling talked about staff matters and then Deputy Dowling proceeded to give me a lecture on workers' democracy. When did Deputy Dowling know anything about workers' democracy? Would Deputy Dowling grow up?
Mr. Dowling: Scurrilous Tully again. On a point of order. The Minister made certain references to me which are completely erroneous. If the Minister wants to scrape the bottom of the political barrel, if he wants to scavenge in that way, he can stay in the political gutter.
Mr. Tully: I do not want to descend to the gutter with Deputy Dowling. If Deputy Dowling wants to talk about workers' democracy, for Deputy Dowling's information I consider that it is a step towards democracy if an employee of a board is allowed to sit on that board and to make decisions and the election of certain employees of the local authority on to the ruling board, which is the county council or the corporation, is a step towards workers' democracy. It is giving the workers employed in the job a say in the running of the job. The only clerical people are those from clerical officer grade down. I believe  the clerical people are entitled to that little say if the public elect them. They do not just elect themselves.
Mr. Tully: According to Fianna Fáil the people who are employed as clerical officers are people who are able to get information about the allocation of houses and grants and so on. I am not a bit surprised to hear  that coming from some Fianna Fáil speakers because it has been my information down through the years that Fianna Fáil councillors revel in this. They attempt to find out that somebody is getting a house, getting repairs done or getting a grant and they dash out then to tell some people that they think are gullible enough to believe them that they have done this for them.
Brady, Philip A.
Burke, Raphael P.
de Valera, Vivion.
Fitzpatrick, Tom (Dublin Central).
Kitt, Michael F.
Lalor, Patrick J.
Lemass, Noel T.
Burke, Joan T.
Clinton, Mark A.
Cooney, Patrick M. Griffin, Brendan.
Hogan O'Higgins. Brigid.
Kyne, Thomas A.
Donegan, Patrick S.
Esmonde, John G.
Gilhawley, Eugene. O'Donnell, Tom.
O'Sullivan, John L.
Reynolds, Patrick J.
Ryan, John J.
Amendment declared lost.
Mr. Tully: I move amendment No. 2.
In page 13, after line 20 to insert the following:
(5) Every order made under this section shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution annulling the order is passed by either such House within the next twenty-one days on which that House has sat after the order is laid before it, the order shall be annulled accordingly, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.
This, I think, meets the point which Deputy Molloy discussed with me. Deputy Molloy has an amendment down which is slightly different but my amendment was put down according to what I understood was his agreement with me on the debate.
An Ceann Comhairle: I take it that amendments Nos. 2 and 3 are alternative amendments and that they will be debated together and voted on separately, if necessary. It must be clear that if one is caried the other falls. They are strictly alternatives.
Mr. Molloy: How can they be voted on separately if one is carried and the other falls? Surely they would not be voted on separately then.
An Ceann Comhairle: No, if one is carried.
Mr. Molloy: My amendment No. 3 reads as follows:
To add to the section a new subsection as follows:
(6) Where an order under this section is proposed to be made, a draft thereof shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas and the order shall not be made until a resolution approving of the draft has been passed by each House of the Oireachtas.
I want to point out the fundamental difference between the amendment I have put down and the Minister's amendment. There was some reference to this on Second Stage but we have given further consideration to this matter and the amendment standing in my name is the provision which the Opposition party want written into this Bill. The weakness of the Minister's amendment, which did make an effort to go some way towards meeting the situation we were speaking about, is in the last line which states:
... but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.
One must first of all examine the Bill that the Minister brought before the House where he gave himself, and other Ministers, sweeping powers without the necessity at all to refer the orders which he could make under this Bill to the Oireachtas. These sweeping powers could have been and, in fact, would have been exercised by the Minister had we not made reference to it here the last day and exposed the dangers contained therein.
 When one is referring to section 24, one is speaking about the power that three Ministers have to make orders— the Minister for Local Government, the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and the Minister for Education. Any of those three Ministers, under the Bill as it stands without the amendments, would have been empowered to make an order and by the making of such order disqualify certain categories of employees from being eligible to stand for election to local authorities without any reference whatsoever to the House. The Minister has gone some way towards meeting our point, but not adequately, in suggesting that an order made under the section: “shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution annulling the order is passed by either such House within the next twenty-one days on which that House has sat after the order is laid before it, the order shall be annulled accordingly ....” but anything done before the annulling of that order shall continue to be deemed to have been done validly.
That is not at all satisfactory. I gave an example on Second Stage and I have given a similar example again. Under the Bill a situation can arise, even with the Minister's amendment, where a person, an employee of a local authority, is nominated by his party to stand as a candidate at a local election. Up to the time that his party selected him at their convention it was known, under the orders and Acts made up to then, that the person would be eligible to stand for election to that council. The nomination having been made public, a situation could arise where the Minister, merely by the stroke of a pen, could disqualify that person subsequently from standing. It could happen in a certain category there might be one candidate only from one party standing and by making an order disqualifying that category the Minister in fact, would be disqualifying that person.
That is a situation to which we object. We feel that should not be allowed to happen. As the Minister's amendment stands, the Minister can  disqualify that person by disqualifying the category in which he is employed and what the Minister does can be deemed valid even though this House could subsequently annul the very order the Minister has made if the annulment took place after the nomination date.
Our amendment is a much clearer one and has a precedent in the Electoral Acts. We are asking that where any order is made under section 24 it be a draft order only until such time as it has been approved by both Houses of the Oireachtas. That would eliminate the possibility of any unfair action against any particular individual. In all of our contributions we have been anxious to ensure that we achieve perfection as far as we can in the legislation we have been asked to accept. Certainly, the Bill as presented to us, was far from satisfactory. Even this amendment does not meet the obstacles and dangers we see in it.
Mr. Tully: I am sorry that Deputy Molloy, having discussed this matter with me and, to a certain extent, reached agreement should try now to bring in by amendment something which would not work out. Let me quote from the Official Report, Volume 272, No. 3 of Tuesday, 30th April, 1974, column 419. Deputy Molloy said:
The Minister may not have seen this; I concede that it was not done intentionally but because of the power that can be wielded under these orders I think they should be placed before the Houses of the Oireachtas and we should have an opportunity of debating them here if we feel that is necessary. I appeal to the Minister before we take Committee Stage tomorrow to have an amendment to these various orders in section 24 and any other relevant orders under this Bill to provide that they be placed before each House of the Oireachtas.
This I have done. Deputy Molloy continued to say at column 419:
Generally, we welcome the expansion of eligibility for local election to the various categories of employees...
 I have done what I was asked to do. Deputy Molloy is objecting to the tail end of the amendment: “without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder”. This is general, standard practice. Either Deputy Molloy is prepared to accept that I did in good faith what I had promised to do—and which was acceptable to him on that day—or, alternatively, he is not prepared to accept it in which case we do not seem to be able to reach agreement. It is simply a question of interpretation. Deputy Molloy made a certain comment. I agreed that I would put in the amendment and I have done so. What Deputy Molloy wants to do is to hold up the making of any order until such time as the matter has been debated by the Houses of the Oireachtas. We cannot do that at the moment. The order can be debated and can be annulled at a later stage but it would be unreal to do this because one would have somebody who would go forward as a candidate under the Bill; he would have been accepted as a candidate; he would be elected and a debate would take place subsequently which could, in fact, debar him from membership. If he did something during the period he was accepted as a member——
Mr. Crowley: One could be debarring somebody in the opposite way.
Mr. Cunningham: In reverse.
Mr. Crowley: In other words, supposing the Minister debarred somebody and afterwards it was proved that he was eligible——
Mr. Tully: If this Bill goes through, there will be a court which will decide on the eligibility of those who are elected.
Mr. Cunningham: There would be no councillor either.
An Ceann Comhairle: Let us hear the Minister out.
Mr. Molloy: He would be denied the opportunity to stand.
Mr. Tully: I know but, as the law now stands, there is no legislation for  appeal. I am putting this in and I have inserted what was acceptable to Deputy Molloy.
Mr. Molloy: But the Minister added a codicil to it which I do not accept.
Mr. Tully: It was acceptable to Deputy Molloy on the 30th April, 1974. Deputy Molloy was explicit on this. He did not say then that he wanted it debated before the order was made because, in fact, what he said was:
I appeal to the Minister before we take Committee Stage tomorrow to have an amendment to these various orders in section 24 and any other relevant orders under this Bill to provide that they be placed before each House of the Oireachtas.
What we wanted was to have a debate on them and that debate will be possible. But there is an impossible condition being put in which would be entirely contrary to what has been done under any previous legislation.
Mr. Crowley: How does one protect the individual who has been debarred erroneously or wrongly?
Mr. Tully: That is just too bad because we have voted on the Bill here and we have voted in a certain way. That is how law is passed in this House. The majority of the Members of the House vote in a certain way and that is what rules. What Deputy Crowley is trying to say is that there should be a second chance afforded in this sort of situation—that for instance, somebody who has been ruled out under section 24 should come back in again under another section. I think I went a long way as far as I was asked by Deputy Molloy the last day and I think it unfair that he should now come along and attempt to have it reversed.
Mr. Molloy: The Minister's proposal would create a situation where a person could be debarred from standing as a candidate. In other words, the returning officer would not accept his nomination if the Minister had made an order stating that that person's category of employment debarred  him from standing as a candidate at a local election. Therefore, the returning officer would not accept his nomination some days before the close of nomination day. Yet what the Minister is suggesting is that a debate could take place, after the close of nomination day, at which this category of person could qualify to stand as a candidate. But the damage would have been done.
The danger we see in the legislation is that the man could be debarred by a stroke of the Minister's pen and the only way in which what the Minister has done can be negatived afterwards is by a resolution annulling it here in the House. But the time at which that would take place would be too late to allow that person's nomination to be accepted.
The election may, in fact, be over. Certainly nomination day would have passed. We feel that is very loose legislation. We gave this some thought before we put down this amendment and we feel what we have done is right. If the Minister can tell me that what I am saying now is wrong there may be room for me to reconsider, but I cannot see from what he has said so far that what I am saying is wrong. He seems to be confirming the belief we have in the weakness in the Bill and in the amendment.
I refer the Minister to section 82 of the Electoral Act, 1963, which deals with the conduct of elections. It provides for the making of regulations dealing with nominations, deposits by candidates, death of candidates, duties of returning officers, staff of returning officers, taking of polls and counting of votes, use, free of charge, of schools and public rooms, arrangements for postal voting, the voting by persons in the employment of returning officers, advance polling on islands, maintenance of secrecy of voting, removal of persons misconducting themselves in polling stations, and so on. These concern most of the main regulations dealing with the running of elections. The first one deals with nominations. We are speaking about the effect on a person seeking a nomination,  whether he was eligible or not and whether he should be accepted for nomination as a candidate. All of the important regulations set down in section 82 of the 1963 Electoral Act are governed by subsection (5) of that section, which states:
Where regulations under this section are proposed to be made, a draft thereof shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas and the regulations shall not be made until a resolution approving of the draft has been passed by each House.
There is the precedent which we are following. The Minister is introducing a completely different method of dealing with nominations and control over who is or is not qualified to be accepted. We are the people who are speaking of the precedent which has been established by this House, not the Minister. We suggest to him that our amendment must be accepted if this Bill is to stand up in law.
Mr. Tully: Deputy Molloy is dealing with two different things. He is dealing with regulations and I am talking about orders.
Mr. Molloy: They both affect nominations.
Mr. Tully: No, they are dealt with in a different way. Deputy Molloy has quoted from the 1963 Act but the section, as originally drafted, did not include provision for bringing the order before the Oireachtas because it was modelled on a similar provision in the Health Act, 1970, Article 7 of the Second Schedule. I am sure the Opposition will agree that this is quite recent legislation brought in by the Fianna Fáil Government when in office. To find something wrong with it now, when less than four years ago it was all right when they brought it in, looks a little bid odd. We are going further than that. In an effort to please Deputy Molloy, because of the fact he kicked up such a row about it the other day, I agreed I would have the matter debated before the House. I put in an amendment as I promised. The position is that a draft must first be laid before the House and approved by both  Houses of the Oireachtas. That is one way of doing it. The other is that an order must be laid before the Houses and can be annulled within a specified period but without prejudice to the validity of anything done thereunder.
Mr. Molloy: Will the Minister leave that out?
Mr. Tully: I cannot because the draft which is discussed beforehand is one way and an order which I am proposing must contain this because if it does not it makes for an impossible situation. A situation could be created whereby people could be elected to a council and the council could consider they had taken part in something which would make invalid things which had been done. We could not accept that. I have been anxious to assist in this. The Deputy has been complaining about good manners and saying that I was not being helpful. I am making an effort here to facilitate the Opposition and they are still not satisfied with it. I want to make it clear that I cannot and, therefore will not, alter this thing because I believe it is the right thing to do.
Mr. Molloy: The Minister foolishly quoted the Health Act as a precedent. Any fair-minded person would agree with me that the correct precedent would be one from the electoral law of this country and not from the Health Acts, which are not dealing with the election to local authorities. The Minister's argument is not a valid one. His amendment does not overcome the difficulty which we foresee, because as it stands anything he does by way of an order is valid until that order is annulled. Therefore he can disqualify a person before nomination day who after nomination day can be deemed to have been eligible, but it is too late. That is where the weakness is in the Minister's amendment.
As far as election is concerned this amendment is useless because if either of the other Ministers, not necessarily the Minister for Local Government, could disqualify a certain person by excluding some days before nomination day the category in which he was employed, the returning officer could not accept his  nomination. Then if this House disagreed with the Minister's action and subsequently annulled that order, it would be too late for that person to be qualified to stand for the election. The Minister would have done the damage and the House would not be in a position, even on annulling the order, to restore to that man his right to stand in the election because the date would have passed by. The amendment is useless to meet the situation we are talking about.
Mr. Tully: Deputy Molloy should remember—and I am sorry to have to go back to it—that if the Bill is not passed all the people he is talking about are ineligible. Fianna Fáil had every opportunity for 14 years to introduce a Bill but they did not do so.
Mr. Cunningham: Will the Minister put on a long-playing record?
Mr. Tully: Why must Deputy Cunningham always start interrupting when I stand up to give an explanation?
Mr. Cunningham: Why does the Minister always say the same thing?
Mr. Tully: I am only giving the facts. The action taken by the late Peadar Cowan in the High Court meant that the appeals section which was there completely disappeared. Therefore the law as such does not exist and has not existed since 1961. We are now attempting to put it in order. This being so, Deputy Molloy's opposition falls flat on its face. If we did not introduce this Bill the people he is talking about as having been deprived of their right to stand would not have a right to stand anyway. I have introduced something here and I am standing over the way it is being done. If Deputy Molloy feels strongly enough about any particular order he is entitled afterwards to introduce a motion, have a debate here and, if he can carry it, to have it annulled.
Mr. Crowley: On a point of information, how can the Minister say this person would not be entitled to stand anyway?
Mr. Tully: The person could not stand because he is not in the category. Obviously Deputy Molloy is thinking of somebody who is not included in the category and whom he feels should be included or——
Mr. Molloy: Or vice versa.
Mr. Tully: ——or vice versa. The whole thing boils down to the fact that we either want the new Bill or we want to insist that there are certain changes which should be made. If the House do not do it, it is not done. We got through two local elections without it, but that was the luck of the game. I believe this is the correct way of doing it. Deputy Molloy should be gracious enough to say that he agrees that what he suggested the last day was put in by way of amendment.
Mr. Molloy: I did not suggest the last sentence. I will accept the Minister's amendment without the last sentence.
Mr. Tully: It had to go in.
Mr. Molloy: It does not have to go in.
Mr. Tully: It has to go in. If it does not, it simply means that a county council could be elected and subsequent to their election they could hold certain meetings and do certain things. Within the statutory period, which would be after the decisions were taken, there could be a discussion which could result in the annulment of the right of one person. Unless we cover up, everything the council have done up to then is null and void and they are in serious trouble. It is a protective clause. What we are talking about is most unlikely to happen, but it is a protective clause. I would not be doing my job as Minister for Local Government if I did not protect the local authorities by insisting on that clause being included.
Mr. Cunningham: There are two stools here and all we are doing is asking the Minister to put them close together so that no one will fall between them. Take the case of a  temporary part-time rent collector; he is not being excluded now but the Minister may subsequently make an order excluding him. What I am most worried about is the other Departments involved and the other Ministers.
Mr. Tully: We cannot deal with them. We are dealing only with Local Government here.
Mr. Molloy: You are also dealing with Education and Agriculture and Fisheries.
Mr. Cunningham: The Minister for Local Government and the other Ministers might be making orders excluding certain categories. If in a particular category there is a prospective candidate who because of the order made by the Minister cannot become a candidate, we will have no opportunity of bringing that action by the Minister into this House to decide for or against the Minister's order until after a particular date at which time it will be a useless exercise bringing it in here at all.
Mr. Tully: May I interrupt the Deputy for a moment? At column 424 of Volume 272 of the Official Report the following appears:
Mr. Molloy: Can the Minister give an indication now whether he will bring forward an amendment that all these orders be placed before each House of the Oireachtas?
Mr. Tully: I will have a look at it but I would not like to give an undertaking.
Mr. Molloy: If the Minister would do that it would not be necessary for me to do it.
Mr. Tully: What Deputy Molloy has in mind is a non-statutory order?
Mr. Molloy: I would rather a statutory order.
Mr. Tully: I would not be prepared to put down a statutory order because this would mean upsetting the whole procedure.
Mr. Molloy: A statutory order would create difficulties now because  it would disqualify all those people from standing in the forthcoming local elections. In view of that, for the present I would be prepared to accept that they be laid before each House of the Oireachtas.
Mr. Tully: I do not see much objection to that. I will tell the Deputy tomorrow.
In view of that, it is ludicrous now to continue this argument. Deputy Molloy asked for something and he got it. Let him be big enough now to accept it.
Mr. Cunningham: The Minister's difficulty is——
Mr. Tully: I have no difficulty.
Mr. Cunningham: ——that he is like a horse at a show. He has come up to the jump too quickly and left the decision to jump too late and now he is messing up his fences.
Mr. Tully: The Deputy talks about leaving it too late; he had 14 years of coming up to fences and he still did not judge them correctly.
Mr. Cunningham: It would save a great deal of saliva and so on if we just switched on the answer phone. The Minister left it too late. If the Minister had done his job in time this question would not arise and we would not be worrying about any 21 days after an order is made. We would have had plenty of time and we would not now be suggesting the avoidance of a situation which a decision of this House will create. First of all, it would be too late to allow the candidate to stand. Had we dealt with this three months ago the Minister would have had his 21 days to remedy the situation and the House would have had an opportunity of debating the order here, as we are now debating the Bill itself, and the decision of the House would put the matter beyond doubt. Instead of that the Minister is now going full speed into the fences; he has not sufficient time to take them and he is coming a cropper.
Mr. Tully: I am not. I am clearing the fences very nicely.
Mr. Esmonde: Deputy Molloy accepts the amendment except for the last few words—“without prejudice to anything done thereunder”. I have been a little confused listening to Deputy Cunningham because it seems to me there are two voices on this on the Opposition benches. Indeed, for a few moments, it was rather like the Tower of Babel. May I bring Deputies' minds back through quite a volume of statutory law? I think this clause appears in the Succession Act of 1965, which became law in 1967. I shall take a simple instance we can all understand. When a person dies, either intestate or having made a will, and representation is made to that person's estate, those seeking representation—an executor or executors —are handed a legal document which gives him or them the sole right to deal with the estate. Suppose by some accident or contrivance, criminal or innocent, that document was wrongly issued and the person or persons holding the document had dealt with the estate, there is a provision in the Act that anything done under that document shall not prejudice the dealing under the document.
Mr. Crowley: Even though it could have been wrong.
Mr. Esmonde: That is the whole point. For instance, the Deputy might buy property from the executor so acting and borrow money for that purpose from a bank or building society and subsequently the document used in the transaction upon which the Deputy acted is found to have been wrongly issued, that will not prejudice the Deputy's position if a court subsequently revokes it. Exactly the same situation arises in relation to this section. It is really quite simple. This type of phraseology appears all the way through our statutory history. It is an absolute must.
Mr. Molloy: It is not in section 82 of the Electoral Act of 1963. It meets certain situations, but not the one we are talking about here.
Mr. Esmonde: The Minister would be guilty of gross negligence if he did not have those words in this section because if a local authority with the assistance of a person subsequently disqualified by order did some action and those words were not in this Bill those responsible for the action could be acting ultra vires. It could arise in something like striking a rate. This is an absolute must. It has been recognised right down from the dim and distant past. There is no other way of dealing with the problem other than by using these words.
Mr. Crowley: We maintain the local authorities should not meet until we have legalised it here.
Mr. Esmonde: It is an on-going situation and one cannot always make time match at meetings of local authorities. In these words there is also an insurance against human error and we are all guilty of human error on occasion.
Mr. Crowley: Deputy Molloy's amendment would make human error completely impossible.
Mr. Esmonde: But he accepts the Minister's amendment if these words are omitted, but these words cannot be omitted.
Mr. Molloy: My amendment is the perfect situation.
Mr. Esmonde: Deputy Molloy says he cannot understand why the Minister will not delete these words. These words are always used.
Mr. Molloy: The reasoning behind our amendment is that any order the Minister makes under this Bill should not come into force until it has been approved or annulled by the Houses of the Oireachtas. We did not draw up the wording of the Minister's amendment. It was not the Opposition who put in the period of 21 days. It was the Minister.
Mr. Esmonde: You have to put in a period.
Mr. Molloy: With the known closing date for nominations for the local elections which are pending this  is creating a problem immediately. I am explaining to the House the reasoning behind our amendment and I am asking the Minister if he will agree to an amendment to meet his difficulty because he has left it late in bringing in this amendment. The closing date for nominations for the local elections is 16th May.
Mr. Tully: Would Deputy Molloy accept this from me? That has a very different bearing on the present situation. Because of printing of documents and certain other things that have to be done we are now at the 11th hour.
Mr. Molloy: If the Minister were to make whatever orders he will make when this Bill is passed—that is, if it is passed today—and those orders were to be debated in the House next Tuesday and voted on at a certain hour, we would agree. We want the authority of this House to be given to whatever orders are made.
Mr. Tully: If we attempted to do that, we would not be able to go ahead with the printing until after next week. This will affect every party, because I am quite sure all parties are in the same position. There is one other point which I did not make and I will make it now. If we could do it next week, that might be a way of dealing with it, but we cannot do that. If it was done in the way Deputy Molloy is suggesting and somebody was elected because of the fact that, because of an order which was made he was entitled to stand, and if this was not put in and he was subsequently disqualified as a result of an annulment in the House, this man would have lost his job because he was not entitled to stand. If this protection is not put in he is not entitled to stand. He is out and there is no way of getting him back in.
Mr. Molloy: The problem is created because the Minister brought this Bill forward close to the nomination date. We do not agree to a situation in which a Minister can sit down and with one stroke of a pen—and that is all that is required; an order under this provision is very loose—disqualify  a category which could involve only one individual. In that way one individual could be discriminated against by the Minister making such an order. If the House did not agree with that move, it would be too late for the House to correct the situation because the nomination date would have passed.
Mr. Tully: As somebody said earlier, most of the nominations have already been prepared. Deputy Molloy is putting in another element of doubt.
Mr. Molloy: The nominations have not all been made.
Mr. Tully: I met Deputy Molloy. I did what he asked. I went further. He did not want a statutory order. He said he would not press for that. I agreed to a statutory order and now he wants something else which is not included. I am being fair about it. I am asking Fianna Fáil to appreciate that this is in their interest as well as in ours. I must protect local authorities. I must protect the action taken by local authorities subsequent to an election. I believed that, when Deputy Molloy said something, he was prepared to stand over it. Apparently he is now trying to alter it, and I regret that.
Mr. Molloy: I am not responsible for the wording of the Minister's amendment.
Mr. Tully: You are responsible for your own amendment. Deputy Molloy said that if I would do it, he would not have to do it. What he asked for was a non-statutory provision. I went further and I included a statutory provision. He is still not satisfied, so it appears to me that there must be some other reason why he is being just a little bit awkard. When something is being done in order to meet his wishes, he should accept that, particularly as I have gone further than he asked me to go.
An Ceann Comhairle: Is amendment No. 2 in the name of the Minister agreed?
Mr. Molloy: No. The Minister says he has met what I asked to have done.  I do not think he has met it fully. I accept that he has made an attempt to meet it. I have explained to the Minister that we have given this matter quite a lot of thought since the debate took place. What matters is the point at which this thing comes into operation when the House is about to approve of it or vote on it and changes can be made up to that time.
Mr. Esmonde: Is the Deputy changing his views?
Mr. Molloy: I want the House to have an opportunity to approve the order. Can the Minister give me an assurance that an order made by him could not be operated without the authority of the House? It is as clear as daylight. Can the Minister see the situation I am talking about? The Minister could disqualify one person who happened to be the only person from a certain category who was known to be nominated.
Mr. Esmonde: All the secondary legislation is safeguarded in exactly the same way in the EEC. It is the same sort of set up.
Mr. Tully: Deputy Molloy has got a wrong slant. The orders do not disqualify anyone. They lift restrictions.
Mr. Molloy: They determine whether a person will qualify.
Mr. Tully: But they do not disqualify. They lift restrictions. Full stop.
Mr. Molloy: The way in which they do it is by lifting restrictions.
Mr. Tully: They could not bring in anybody else by order.
Mr. Molloy: They determine whether a person is qualified. The Minister can introduce new orders. He has a free hand.
Mr. Tully: No.
Mr. Molloy: It is only 21 days later that he can be checked for having done something wrong. We feel that is too late, especially since this could be done less than 21 days from nomination day. Passing a motion  afterwards annulling it would have no effect on the elegibility of a certain person to be a candidate. I accept that an awkard situation has been created due to the Minister's timing in bringing forward this Bill and the fact that the nomination date for the pending local elections is 16th May, which is a short while away.
This creates a certain problem, but we are not legislating for the 1974 election only. This Bill will affect all future local elections unless the House amends it, or annuls it, or changes it. The House is being placed in an invidious position in being asked to accept legislation in one way because it would be awkward to accept it in any other way due to the fact that the 1974 local elections are close to hand. This is a great weakness in the Minister's approach in bringing forward this Bill at this late stage. It will be reflected as a weakness in the Bill itself if it is allowed to go through in that form. I am stating quite categorically that the precedent for what I am suggesting is established in the Electoral Acts. There is no point in Deputy Esmonde quoting EEC regulations.
Mr. Esmonde: The Succession Act. All the statutes.
Mr. Molloy: We are dealing with electoral law, not succession law, or EEC regulations, or health regulations.
Mr. Esmonde: We are dealing with a situation that could possibly arise.
Mr. Molloy: Deputy Esmonde was present for very little of this debate. The principle is not in question. We have already conceded the principle in other sections in this Bill.
Mr. Crowley: It is that last line. We have conceded on at least three occasions.
Mr. Esmonde: Deputies agree that it is necessary in certain circumstances, but they cannot agree that it is necessary in circumstances which can quite obviously arise in this case.
Mr. Molloy: A Cheann Comhairle, we are not disputing the principle. We agree with the principle that it can be applied in certain circumstances. We had accepted it in certain circumstances in previous sections. We do not see that it should be accepted in regard to this section. It gives extraordinary powers to one man in the whole State where, acting for whatever reasons he may deem fit, he can disqualify an individual from standing for election to a local authority. That is an obvious weakness which we are pointing out. We have succeeded in pointing out other weaknesses in the Bill. I accept that the Minister is in a spot. He might be prepared to accept my amendment were it not for the fact that he is up against it.
Mr. Tully: I may as well be honest about it. I would not be prepared to accept the amendment.
Mr. Molloy: If the Minister does not accept that there is a weakness in his amendment, that if there were no election this year and if there was all the time in the world to print——
Mr. Tully: After 14 years it is urgent.
Mr. Molloy: We are not responsible for the printing problem.
Mr. Tully: Fianna Fáil could have started any time in the last 14 years.
Mr. Molloy: We are not responsible for the delay. We had the debate on the Office of Public Works on Tuesday night, which was of no great urgency. This debate was postponed for three and a half hours on Tuesday and that was not a decision of the Opposition. It was a deliberate decision of the Government.
An Ceann Comhairle: Back to the amendments, please.
Mr. Molloy: This question of timing falls back on the Minister's head and on his Chief Whip and on his Government. It is not our fault. If the Minister is saying that, even in circumstances where there was no election in 1974 and if the special problem that he has created for himself now did not  exist and the election was not coming until 1975, he would adhere to the amendment as it is worded now, I again must emphasise that I could not agree with him that that would be fair and just or that any Minister should be given that type of power where he could deprive an individual of his right to stand and that the Minister could be deemed in the 21 days to have been wrong in his decision but the wrong could not be redressed because the man's opportunity had passed and the nomination date had closed. It is a bit much that the Minister should be given such power. The greatest protection of democracy and of the rights of the individual is the authority given by vote of both Houses of the Oireachtas. That is a principle that is long established. Deputy Esmonde must accept that principle.
Mr. Esmonde: The Deputy called the Minister——
An Ceann Comhairle: Order, please. Deputy Molloy is in possession.
Mr. Crowley: We are not talking about this Minister at all. We are legislating for the future. Deputy Tully will not always be Minister for Local Government.
Mr. Molloy: It is very weak and very wrong and I would ask the Minister seriously to consider what we are discussing. If he wants to come to some arrangement with us in relation to the pending election, because of special difficulties, perhaps something can be worked out but I do not think this provision should be contained in legislation which will govern future elections. If the Minister wants to make special arrangements to deal with the 1974 local elections, we are open to discussion on that either in the House or outside it, and to come to some arrangement to meet the special problems the Minister has elaborated in relation to printing and getting certain literature to returning officers. We will accommodate the Minister in relation to that if he can devise some way, but we object strongly to  this provision being written in for all elections. It is a very weak principle and one that no Deputy should be asked to support.
Mr. Tully: Deputy Molloy is missing one very important point. Deputy Esmonde tried to bring him back on the track. The order we are talking about, if annulled, does not bring anybody else in. The decision had already been taken by the House as to who is entitled to be in and when the Bill is passed that will be the position.
Mr. Molloy: Sorry?
Mr. Tully: The House has passed section 24. It gives authority to the Minister to make an order. So, if the House has passed that section——
Mr. Molloy: The House has not yet passed section 24.
Mr. Tully: Sorry. The amendment that Deputy Molloy has in. If the Minister makes an order, the House may annul it. I do not follow Deputy Molloy's suggestion that when the order is annulled it will mean bringing somebody else in who is otherwise debarred.
Mr. Crowley: He is making the opposite argument.
Mr. Tully: The argument, which is down in black and white, is that the order is in relation to certain people who will be allowed to stand.
Mr. Crowley: I think the Minister is misunderstanding what Deputy Molloy is saying.
Mr. Tully: I am not.
Mr. Molloy: You are.
Mr. Crowley: What he is saying is that somebody would be debarred because of an order and subsequently the House would annul that order but the person would have no opportunity of coming back into the local authority.
Mr. Tully: That does not bring anybody in.
Mr. Crowley: It keeps him out.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Minister must be allowed to make his point without continuous interruption.
Mr. Crowley: We are just trying to have each point clarified.
Mr. Tully: If the order is made and if Deputy Molloy asks to have it annulled and it is annulled, how does that bring in the person he is talking about?
Mr. Crowley: It does not. He is out.
Mr. Tully: He is already out. He would be out anyway. If he is out under the order, by the annulling of it all Deputy Molloy can do is put somebody else out who is included in my order. That is all that can be done. I hope Deputy Molloy takes this point. If I make an order including persons entitled to stand and the order is annulled it is possible in that way to affect those who stand but it does not bring anybody else in who has not been included in the order.
Mr. Molloy: The Minister could amend an order—in and out, in and out.
Mr. Tully: That is a different thing altogether.
Mr. Crowley: It is directly related to the order.
Mr. Tully: It does not mean that somebody else can be brought in. All it can do is keep somebody out. As long as we are clear that that is the object of Deputy Molloy's amendment, that he wants the right to annul and to put a certain class out, that is one thing.
Mr. Crowley: No, he does not want that right. He does not want to get any class out.
Mr. Tully: He does.
Mr. Crowley: He wants protection for anybody the Minister may debar.
Mr. Tully: Deputy Crowley is now getting into the same confusion as  Deputy Molloy was in a few moments ago. The position very simply is that if I make an order that order will apply to those who can stand. Deputy Molloy has at the back of his mind somebody or some section who he thinks should be entitled to stand. If he brings in an annulment motion and carries it that does not bring in the section he has in mind. It can annul the order which has been made and I assume a new order will have to be made for the purpose of bringing in.
Mr. Crowley: That is his whole argument. It is to let in those who have been debarred.
Mr. Tully: I know, but does the Deputy suggest that if the order were annulled here that would persuade me to go back and bring in somebody else who could not even be debated in the House when the annulment was going through, because all that may be debated is the order and those who are in it? Let me make it very clear that I will not allow an order to be made which will put a local authority in the position that because of something that has happened—if eventually an annulment is made—that somebody who has acted on the council and who has participated in council decisions when serious financial matters have been dealt with, the council should be liable because I failed in my duty to include the very words that Deputy Molloy wants to take out. I shall not do that.
Mr. Esmonde: The Minister would be guilty of serious negligence.
Mr. Tully: Of course, I would.
Mr. Molloy: Suppose a convention is held and among the candidates known to be selected by a particular group or party is a clerical officer. This comes to the Minister's notice and if, for the sake of my example, there is only one such clerical officer in the country who has been nominated, if the Minister wishes to debar that clerical officer, having made him eligible in the first order, from standing for election all he has to do under this Bill is write an order and the man is ineligible. The annulment of  that order can only take place within 21 days.
Mr. Tully: If the Deputy wishes, I shall give him the categories that I propose to include.
Mr. Molloy: If this order is made by the Minister within ten days of nomination day this category is excluded again and this candidate is out and if the Oireachtas does not agree with the Minister's decision and annuls his order six days after nomination day, that clerical officer cannot stand in that election and effectively the Minister has debarred him from becoming a candidate. That is what we object to.
Mr. Tully: That is not an argument.
Mr. Crowley: But the Minister debarred somebody who was afterwards found to be entitled to stand?
Mr. Molloy: Can that happen?
Mr. Tully: No. I have already given the House the categories I propose to allow to stand. Deputy Molloy's argument is that if there is some clerical officer coming in whom I do not like, I would immediately change my mind and change the situation again. That is too ludicrous.
Mr. Molloy: But it is giving that authority to a Minister. And Deputy Esmonde agreed with me.
Mr. Tully: This Minister would not do it.
Mr. Molloy: But it gives that authority.
Mr. Tully: Be fair about it. I did what I was asked to do and, for goodness sake, be satisfied. I have even gone further than I was asked to go.
Mr. Molloy: Is the Minister accepting that situation should be tolerated by the House?
Mr. Tully: I have gone further than asked and the Deputy should admit that and say: “You have done it and I accept it.”
Mr. Crowley: For 1974 we agree that there is an urgency in this connection, but for future elections would the Minister be prepared to consider Deputy Molloy's amendment?
Mr. Tully: I have done what I was asked to do. Deputy Andrews is here and I think he would agree with me.
Mr. Andrews: I have not been here all the time but I am sure that after a discussion——
Mr. Tully: I shall explain. What I am trying to do is to provide that:
Every order made under this section shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution annulling the order is passed by either such House within the next 21 days on which that House has sat after the order is laid before it, the order shall be annulled accordingly, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.
I say I must do that for the protection of the local authority to which a person who may subsequently be debarred is elected. I think any legal mind would agree that is the right thing to do. Otherwise, I should not be carrying out my duty as Minister.
Mr. Esmonde: For the benefit of Deputy Andrews, I have spoken on this matter and I think where a process is revoked you must have that there.
Mr. Andrews: I wanted to hear the other side before handing down a judgment. There is no hope of my becoming a judge under the present Administration—that is by way of a joke.
Acting Chairman (Mr. Carter): If Deputies would leave it to the Deputy in possession at the moment we might get the point clearer.
Mr. Molloy: I do not accept the Minister's plea to accept his amendment. The only grounds on which he could make any justifiable plea is that he is in a spot and that time has caught  up with him, that he has left it too late to bring in this and that it will create problems for him in making proper arrangements for the procedure in the pending local elections. That is something we could discuss separately. But we are talking about legislation that is to go on our Statute Book. I have given an example of what could happen under the Bill even with the Minister's amendment and the Minister has conceded that this could happen but seems to accept that such a situation should be allowed to happen. It would be bad legislation if we allowed that situation to develop.
My point—I repeat it because some Deputies have come in—is that the Minister can make an order under the Bill. He proposes to include clerical officers and a clerical officer is qualified to stand. The Minister can subsequently disqualify a clerical officer by making an order for which he is answerable to nobody until it is too late. Nomination day is on 16th May and if there is somebody of a different political party that the Minister does not like who is known on the 14th May to be a candidate for the Fianna Fáil Party and that person is the only clerical officer standing in the whole country, the Minister by a stroke of his pen can disqualify that person and remove his eligibility to be a candidate in that election.
His decision can only be remedied after the important nomination day has passed. A decision of the House can annul the Minister's order within 21 days but 16th May would have long passed and although the person again becomes eligible for election in the normal course he would not have an opportunity of standing for election for another five years. We think that provision, as the Minister has proposed it, does not make every citizen equal in the law. It is an extraordinary power to give any Minister. The only authority to do such a thing is the Houses of the Oireachtas. We appeal to the Minister to accept the amendment we offer. Because of the difficulty he has got himself into in regard to the elections this year, we are prepared to accept an agreed  arrangement to meet the problem but we want our amendment included in the long-standing legislation.
Mr. Tully: Take this clerical officer. I make an order which makes him eligible to stand and he is elected. Subsequently, the order is debated in the House and annulled. The only effect that will have is that the clerical officer will then be eligible to hold his job as clerical officer. He can stay on the council. You do not disqualify him from the council because——
Mr. Molloy: The Minister is talking about something completely different.
Mr. Tully: I am not.
Mr. Molloy: The opposition arises on the point I made.
Mr. Crowley: Of course, you can disqualify him from the council by classifying him in a certain category.
Mr. Tully: If he ceases to be a clerical officer he cannot be taken off. This is much ado about nothing.
Mr. Molloy: It certainly is not and the Minister's statement shows gross negligence on his part.
Mr. Tully: Deputy Molloy should not start getting abusive again. I told him before that when he finds he has not got a leg to stand on he becomes abusive. That does not become the Deputy at all. The Deputy should take it a little easy.
Mr. Andrews: That does not become the Minister.
Mr. Tully: Deputy Molloy wants me to accept an amendment which he has put in but the annoying part about this is that during the Second Reading of the Bill the Deputy suggested that an amendment similar to mine should be put in and I agreed to put it in. The Deputy said he was not insisting on a statutory order and I told him I would consider it. I put in a statutory order to be debated within 21 days but now Deputy Molloy is not prepared to accept  what he asked for. He now wants another amendment accepted.
Mr. Molloy: What about the 21 days and the last sentence in the Minister's amendment?
Mr. Tully: There was no question of 21 days at the time the discussion took place. We are in the situation that Deputy Molloy is prepared to accept my amendment if I leave out the portion which states:
... the Order shall be annulled accordingly, but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.
I would not be doing my duty if I did not insist on putting that in because of the fact that it would mean that I would be leaving local authorities, in the event of an annulment taking place, in a very serious position. I have been asked to give a promise to include this in the next legislation. I could say that I would do that and that would be all right with Deputy Molloy, but I do not think it would be fair for me to do so. In my own opinion and the advice I got the amendment I have suggested is the correct one. However, I would be prepared to have a look at it again. That is not promising that I am going to bring in immediate legislation in order to deal with it. That is as far as I can go.
I would be prepared, when amending legislation is being introduced, to have another look at it but I would not be prepared to go any further because it would be unfair to promise something which I do not believe in.
Mr. Molloy: It is practically impossible for us to accept the argument the Minister has made as to why it would not be possible to accept our amendment. If the Minister came clean with us and told us that the only problem he had was the immediate one in relation to the local elections that we are facing but that our amendment in the long-standing legislation would be acceptable, we could consider that position. The Minister is asking us to accept that his amendment be included not just to meet his  immediate problem this year but to be included in legislation to govern the running of these elections for as long as these Acts are there.
Either the Minister has failed to understand the point we have been making or else he is seeking extraordinary powers for any individual in the amendment. I am not anxious to continue repeating myself because the points are simple and I have given examples of what can happen. I have given examples of the weakness of the 21 day provision where a person could be disqualified for the operative period and become qualified after the operative date, something which is of no value to him. That person could be deprived of rights which the Oireachtas deemed he should have. If the Minister thinks about this again he will agree that what he is saying is not valid and will not stand up to any examination.
What we are asking is that the Oireachtas be the one to give authority to these orders, that no Minister has the right to make these orders off his own bat and that the only authority to make such orders rests with the Oireachtas. We are asking-also that the order not come into operation until that authority is given by the Oireachtas. I am talking in the long-term now and about the inclusion of this Act on the Statute Book, not about this year. It is a bad principle that the Minister is asking for and we could not agree to it. We will agree to meet the Minister's special problems in some way this year if the Minister can suggest a way, but he should not ask us to agree to the inclusion of that amendment as it stands.
Mr. Tully: While I do not agree with the point Deputy Molloy is making——
Mr. Molloy: The sad part is that I cannot understand why the Minister does not agree because it is as obvious as daylight.
Mr. Tully: Deputy Molloy has said that he wants me to delete the last line but that would mean that the local authority would not be covered  by legislation. The best I can offer is that before the next local authority elections I will guarantee that the then Minister will have the matter raised in this House to see if something can be done. I am prepared to give that guarantee if the Deputy is prepared to accept it.
Mr. Molloy: That does not meet the point at all. I suggest to the Minister that we withdraw the Bill from the House for 20 minutes and have a discussion on it.
Mr. Tully: I cannot do that.
Mr. Molloy: If we had a meeting of heads on this we might thrash out the position but in the circumstances we are in now we do not seem to be making any progress. If the Minister agrees to withdraw the Bill from the House for 20 minutes we can endeavour to reach agreement on my point and on the difficulty the Minister has.
Mr. Tully: I would be prepared to agree to that on the assumption that we will get the Bill through here by 5 o'clock today.
Mr. Molloy: I cannot assume that we will reach agreement on this matter within the 20 minutes. It is more than likely that we will.
Mr. Tully: Twice before Deputy Molloy told me that if I was prepared to accept something he would facilitate me in running through the Bill but Deputy Molloy did not facilitate me. The Deputy is aware that after I made a major change he is insisting on continuing with the debate on this section
Mr. Molloy: We had the experience yesterday where for two and a half hours the Minister sat in this House and was not prepared to accept any suggestion but after only three minutes of talk with me he was prepared to accept my suggestion.
Mr. Tully: Suppose we defer a decision on this section and proceed through the remainder of the Bill so that we can have this discussion during Question Time.
Mr. Molloy: That would not be practicable because we are on the section that counts. We cannot leave the amendments aside and go on and talk about the section itself. We have no objection, I think, to sections 25, 26 and 27. This is a fair offer and there is a precedent for it.
Mr. Tully: I agree on condition that we have a discussion on it and I get a little more co-operation than I have been getting to get this Bill through.
Mr. Molloy: The suggestion I am making should indicate that we are trying to be co-operative.
Mr. Tully: We will see when we come back.
Business suspended at 2 p.m. and resumed at 2.30 p.m.
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