Ceisteanna—Questions . Oral Answers . - Green Paper Discussions .

Wednesday, 21 June 1978

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 307 No. 10

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10.

Mr. M. O'Leary: Information on Michael O'Leary  Zoom on Michael O'Leary  asked the Minister for Economic Planning and Development if any decision has been made on a commencement date for discussions with employers and trade union organisations as envisaged in the Green Paper; and if a decision has been made as to which Minister or Ministers will attend these talks.

Professor O'Donoghue: Information on Martin O'Donoghue  Zoom on Martin O'Donoghue  : I hope that these talks will commence as soon as the relevant interest groups have had an opportunity of studying the Green Paper proposals. In order to meet the time schedule of the White Paper they would need to be concluded by mid-September at the latest. The talks will be held under the aegis of the Minister for Economic Planning and Development and other Ministers may attend depending upon the interest group involved and the topic under discussion.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  : On a point of order, would the Chair ask the Minister to remain silent——

Mr. Keating: Information on Michael Keating  Zoom on Michael Keating  : Would you like——

Mr. M. O'Leary: Information on Michael O'Leary  Zoom on Michael O'Leary  : Whose question did the Minister answer?

Professor O'Donoghue: Information on Martin O'Donoghue  Zoom on Martin O'Donoghue  : Deputy M. O'Leary's question.

[1620]Mr. M. O'Leary: Information on Michael O'Leary  Zoom on Michael O'Leary  : There is a prior dispute to be settled which the Minister——

(Interruptions.)

Mr. M. O'Leary: Information on Michael O'Leary  Zoom on Michael O'Leary  : It would be more seemly for the Minister not to add his voice——

Professor O'Donoghue: Information on Martin O'Donoghue  Zoom on Martin O'Donoghue  : May I point out that I have properly been called. Please allow me——

(Interruptions.)

A Deputy:  : Sit down and have some manners.

Professor O'Donoghue: Information on Martin O'Donoghue  Zoom on Martin O'Donoghue  : I have properly been called on at least half a dozen occasions since 2.30 p.m. and on every occasion I have been interrupted by Deputies from the other side of the House. Have the Government side no right to be heard?

Mr. Keating: Information on Michael Keating  Zoom on Michael Keating  : Not the exclusive right.

(Interruptions.)

Professor O'Donoghue: Information on Martin O'Donoghue  Zoom on Martin O'Donoghue  : There is nothing wrong with my backbenchers; they are supporting us.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  : Suppose you pursued your ruling sir, how could this help us as the Minister will not be here to answer questions in the ordinary order?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : My hearing is all right. The Deputy asked the Minister, through the Chair, if he would be here tomorrow and he said yes. Why do you continue being disorderly?

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  : His being here is irrelevant if his questions have been passed. We will be dealing with questions to other Ministers and Deputy Keating's questions will not be reached. I want to know if it is proposed that we take his questions out of order tomorrow, if you rule in favour of their being taken?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : I will look at the questions and inform the Deputy why I ruled them out of order. I will do that when Question Time is [1621] over and if the Deputy is not satisfied he may put down a motion and seek to raise it with the Committee on Procedures and Privileges. Please do not interrupt Question Time.

Mr. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  : That is no——

Professor O'Donoghue: Information on Martin O'Donoghue  Zoom on Martin O'Donoghue  : May I repeat what I said earlier?

Mr. T. J. Fitzpatrick: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  (Cavan-Monaghan): On a point of order——

Professor O'Donoghue: Information on Martin O'Donoghue  Zoom on Martin O'Donoghue  : I would ask the Chair to hear this side of the House. I can only repeat what I said earlier. I am not even familiar with the details of these questions put down by Deputy Keating——

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : That is not surprising in view of the Green Paper.

Professor O'Donoghue: Information on Martin O'Donoghue  Zoom on Martin O'Donoghue  : I did not know if they were going to be admitted. As I understand the position, had they been on the Order Paper in the normal way they were not due for reply until tomorrow. I would have answered my dozen or so questions today——

Mr. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  : That does not arise.

Professor O'Donoghue: Information on Martin O'Donoghue  Zoom on Martin O'Donoghue  : It does arise because they would not have been answered——

Mr. Keating: Information on Michael Keating  Zoom on Michael Keating  : It is a lot more basic than that.

Professor O'Donoghue: Information on Martin O'Donoghue  Zoom on Martin O'Donoghue  : As the Chair pointed out that matter can be dealt with in the appropriate manner.

(Interruptions.)

Professor O'Donoghue: Information on Martin O'Donoghue  Zoom on Martin O'Donoghue  : It is clear that the Opposition are trying to have another filibuster to follow on yesterday's abortive effort.

Mr. Keating: Information on Michael Keating  Zoom on Michael Keating  : Fianna Fáil should do what they did yesterday.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : Order. Please resume Question Time. One Deputy at a time being disorderly is enough.

(Interruptions.)

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  : Is the Chair saying that the Minister will be here tomorrow [1622] to answer these questions. If we have reached the questions put down to another Minister will Deputy Keating's questions be taken out of order?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : The questions on which I ruled were down for Thursday.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : On a point of order——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : I have promised to review them in the light of the statement made that the Green Paper will not be——

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  : Can you assure me that they will be taken out of order?

Professor O'Donoghue: Information on Martin O'Donoghue  Zoom on Martin O'Donoghue  : Why should we do that?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : The Chair cannot give any such assurance at any time in relation to any question.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  : In that case if we allow questions to proceed we will not get those questions in before the Adjournment Debate and an attempt to suggest otherwise is fraudulent.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : Will Deputies please see reason and obey the Chair.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  : I see no reason——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : The questions are put down for tomorrow.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  : It is the principle that is involved.

Dr. FitzGerald: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  : I see no reason for remaining in this House.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : Deputy FitzGerald would appear to be satisfied if these questions were to appear on tomorrow's Order Paper. That would not satisfy this party. We are more concerned with the basic fundamental rights of Deputies to submit legitimate questions and for them not to be ruled out of order against all established precedent and against any ruling in Standing Order. Unless that issue is cleared up I hope the Chair realises that he is doing very serious damage to democracy itself and to the whole [1623] process of the democratic procedure. By your ruling you are undermining the whole democratic process. As you are undermining the whole democratic process, I suggest respectfully that you review your decision and make known the outcome not to any one Deputy but to the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : The Deputy should not indulge in speech-making. He has covered this matter repeatedly.

Mr. Allen: Information on Lorcan Allen  Zoom on Lorcan Allen  : About 20 times.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : Frequently questions are ruled out. In the past I had rows on several occasions in that regard but I was never permitted to refer in the House to the questions concerned. There was always ample time in other circumstances to discuss the matters involved.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : It is not a question of ruling out questions. The whole point is that you have ruled out questions on the basis that they are to be the subject of a debate which may or may not take place. You have ruled out those questions on the basis that we are not entitled to elicit legitimate factual information in order to prepare ourselves to participate actively and intelligently in the anticipated debate. There is no precedent for the Chair's action.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : If the Deputy would have patience I could convey many precedents to him for my ruling.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : Will the Chair tell us now the reason and the justification for his ruling?

Dr. Browne: Information on Noel C. Browne  Zoom on Noel C. Browne  : I have not heard the answers to my questions. However, as one who has been here for a long time, it has been my practice always to put down questions in anticipation of a debate in order to elicit factual information to use in the debate; but if it is your ruling that the questions tabled by Deputy Keating are out of order on the basis that the information sought would be given in a subsequent debate, this is the first time I have known of such a line being taken.

[1624]Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : Is the Chair prepared to answer the question I put, that is, will he make a statement to the House regarding his reason for disallowing the questions and, if so, at what time may we expect the statement to be made?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : At another time.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : When?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : Before the House adjourns.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : Today?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : No. I shall have to look up the precedents, something I prefer to do in the right place.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : Is it not an extraordinary situation that you are now to look up precedents on the basis of which you ruled questions out of order?

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  : I have no wish to be contentious. Enough bad example has been given already to the children in the Gallery——

Deputies:  : Hear, hear.

Mr. B. Desmond: Information on Barry Desmond  Zoom on Barry Desmond  : ——but, as the Deputy concerned, can you assure me that before the House adjourns you will indicate the precedents you used for ruling the questions out of order? If you are not prepared to give such an undertaking I do not see any point in our staying here either.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : That is a simple request by which I will abide.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  : It concerns a fundamental matter. The least we are entitled to is an indication of the precedents concerned.

Professor O'Donoghue: Information on Martin O'Donoghue  Zoom on Martin O'Donoghue  : The Deputies are merely repeating points they have made many times, but I am glad that one Deputy on the other side is aware of the awful example being given today to future voters and citizens.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : Order.

[1625]Professor O'Donoghue: Information on Martin O'Donoghue  Zoom on Martin O'Donoghue  : Since the question of the rights of Deputies has been raised, I might point out that, although I answered Deputy Browne's questions as they were called, he hardly had an opportunity of hearing the replies. I am not sure of the procedure involved in such circumstances.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : The Minister's lack of knowledge in so many areas is becoming well known.

Professor O'Donoghue: Information on Martin O'Donoghue  Zoom on Martin O'Donoghue  : I pride myself on knowing my job and I should hope that others know their jobs.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : Am I correct in saying that the Chair undertook to Deputy Desmond to make a statement?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : Yes.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : Today?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : He did not ask for it for today. I will make the statement in my own time, perhaps today.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : You have said that the statement will be made before the adjournment but we have had no indication from the Government as to the date of the adjournment. Surely this matter is of such importance, not only to the Deputies concerned but to the country as a whole, that you should condescend to make a statement before 8.30 this evening.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : I will consider it and let the Deputy know the outcome.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : Will you not give an undertaking to make the statement before the House adjourns today? Surely that is a reasonable request?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : I am giving an undertaking in so far as I can.

Mr. Quinn: Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  : Are you anticipating great difficulty in looking up the precedents?

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : Surely they were looked up before now?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : Yes. The Chair has advisers and is acting strictly on precedent in relation to the [1626] questions. I assure the House that I do not take a personal decision on these matters. My decisions are made in full consultation with my advisers. In this case the decision was unanimous on the part of those who always advise the Chair. I want to put that on record.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : I appreciate that, but the Chair must accept the responsibility for the decision.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : I am accepting the responsibility and I undertake to make a statement regarding the precedents for my decision, but there is no precedent for the way in which the matter is being dealt with by Deputies. However, I undertake exceptionally to make a statement later this evening on the matter, but I should hope that what has happened here today will not be established as a precedent for anybody who might wish to act in the same way again and to raise at Question Time matters that could be raised more relevantly on other occasions.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : I share sincerely the wish of the Chair that never again will there be an occasion on which such behaviour is necessary.

Mr. Keegan: Information on Seán Keegan  Zoom on Seán Keegan  : The Deputies opposite have been wasting the time of the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : Deputy Cluskey has contributed his share to what has occurred. Last evening Deputy Keating notified me that, although the matter was being ruled out of order, he would be raising it in the House.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : The Chair could have avoided what has happened by giving an undertaking at an earlier stage to make a statement.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : The Chair has never been subjected before to cross questioning such as this at Question Time. I will be able to point out there are many precedents for my action.

Mr. Cluskey: Information on Frank Cluskey  Zoom on Frank Cluskey  : I regret the necessity for having had to engage in this cross [1627] questioning but the matter was one of fundamental importance.

Deputies:  : Hypocrisy.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Joseph Brennan  Zoom on Joseph Brennan  : The remaining questions will appear on tomorrow's Order Paper.

Mr. M. O'Leary: Information on Michael O'Leary  Zoom on Michael O'Leary  : Which questions, in the Chair's estimation, are the remaining questions?


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