Ceisteanna — Questions Oral Answers. - Status of Senator.

Wednesday, 8 July 1981

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 329 No. 3

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2.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  asked the Taoiseach the exact status of Senator Alexis FitzGerald in the present administration.

The Taoiseach: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Senator FitzGerald has been appointed as Special Adviser to the Government and will advise on all matters of Government policy referred to him by the Taoiseach on behalf of the Government. He will attend meetings of the Government in an advisory capacity. Senator FitzGerald has tendered his resignation from the Seanad.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Would the Taoiseach tell us if Senator FitzGerald when attending meetings of the Government is entitled to speak at such meetings, offer opinions and participate in Government discussions?

The Taoiseach: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  The position is that he will be entitled to contribute and invited to do so.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Can the Taoiseach assure the House that this is in accordance with the principle of collective [230] responsibility of the Government as laid down in the Constitution?

The Taoiseach: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Yes, I can so assure the leader of the Opposition. The Attorney General advises that there is no constitutional or legal bar to the appointment.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Can the Taoiseach tell us if Senator FitzGerald is awarded any special facilities by the State? Does he have accommodation and correspondence facilities? Is he in receipt of any remuneration? Could the Taoiseach indicate the situation in that regard?

The Taoiseach: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Senator FitzGerald has an office in the Department of the Taoiseach. With regard to other arrangements in respect of the appointment they will be set forth in the form of a contract to be drawn up and executed on behalf of the Government and their special adviser, the terms thereof being deemed to commence on the date of his appointment.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Will this contract include remuneration? Has he any transport facilities or secretarial facilities?

The Taoiseach: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  It has not yet been determined but it will certainly involve remuneration.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  It will involve remuneration?

The Taoiseach: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Yes, it is a contract of employment.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Has Senator FitzGerald resigned from the Seanad?

The Taoiseach: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Yes.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  As and from when?

The Taoiseach: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  His resignation was tendered immediately at the time of his appointment. It was thought that it would be improper for him to hold the two positions simultaneously.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  In effect Senator FitzGerald will participate in Government [231] discussions, attend Government meetings, will have office accommodation, and, presumably, secretarial facilities and will be remunerated?

The Taoiseach: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Yes.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  In fact, he is somebody who is now being imported into the public service by the back door?

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  The Deputy is the last person who can talk about that.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  In response to that interruption—I do not think Deputy Kelly should interrupt the Taoiseach—I never brought anybody into the public service through the back door, never. If Deputy Kelly has any instance he wants to give let him mention it. Let him mention it now.

The Taoiseach: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  I do not know about the back door but there cannot have been a more front door than the one through which he came in in so far as I announced his appointment at the same time as I announced the appointment of the Government.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Will the Taoiseach accept the description of this appointment as being so unusual as to amount to a scandalous example of cronyism?

The Taoiseach: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  I will accept nothing of the kind. Senator FitzGerald's services to the State over a long period of time qualify him in a remarkable way to advise the Government. His career in the public service goes back over many years. He was responsible for the advice that led to the establishment of the IDA and the export tax relief on which the whole of our industrial development was based and in 1956 he accompanied the then Taoiseach on his first official visit to the United States.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  He went with the Taoiseach to the United States?

The Taoiseach: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Yes, in 1956.

[232]Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  How valuable.

The Taoiseach: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  His contributions in the Upper House on legislation has commanded the universal respect not merely of the House but of the civil service and even when he was in Opposition he was on occasions consulted on legislation because of his extraordinary expertise in so many relevant spheres.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Will the Taoiseach accept that all of the qualifications he has mentioned in the case of Senator FitzGerald would be available to the Taoiseach and the Government from Alexis FitzGerald as a Senator? I have often heard Senator FitzGerald make valuable contributions in the Seanad and any contribution he would have to make on the affairs of Government and the administration of the country could easily be made either in his capacity as a Senator or in his capacity as an individual. Will the Taoiseach accept that? Will the Taoiseach further accept that it is a perfectly outrageous, outlandish and scandalous thing to make this appointment? Does it not amount to saying to all those distinguished members of the new Government that between them they have not enough experience, expertise or knowledge to advise the Taoiseach on the running of the affairs of the country——

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  I will always be glad to accept the advice of Senator Alexis FitzGerald.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  ——and some extra person has to be incorporated into the public service in this manner?

Mr. Kelly: Information on John M. Kelly  Zoom on John M. Kelly  The Deputy had public servants running around Donegal during the by-election campaign, senior public servants.

The Taoiseach: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Deputy Haughey may think it is good politics although I doubt it. The fact is that the country's present situation is such that the Government need all the assistance they can get to govern effectively. In my view the availability to the Government, during their [233] deliberations, of the advice of Senator FitzGerald, just as they have available to them on legal matters the advice of the Attorney General, will be a great strength and of great value in governing the country.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Will the Taoiseach agree that an appointment of this nature was never visualised in the Constitution, is not provided for in the Constitution and, in fact, is a totally unconstitutional type of appointment?

The Taoiseach: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  I have already told the Deputy that the Attorney General has advised to the contrary. I have answered that question already.

Mr. O'Keeffe: Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  It is a pity that a few of Deputy Haughey's appointments were not for the benefit of the country.

Mr. McMahon: Information on Lawrence McMahon  Zoom on Lawrence McMahon  Is Deputy Haughey afraid we will clear up the mess he left?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. O'Connell  We must move on to Question No. 3.

Dr. Loughnane: Information on William Loughnane  Zoom on William Loughnane  I should like to ask the Taoiseach a question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. O'Connell  We have gone to the next question, I am sorry.

Dr. Loughnane: Information on William Loughnane  Zoom on William Loughnane  I want to ask a question relevant to the west of Ireland.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  Chair.

Mr. N. Andrews: Information on Niall Andrews  Zoom on Niall Andrews  Deputy Loughnane is entitled to ask a supplementary question.

Mr. P. Barry: Information on Peter Barry  Zoom on Peter Barry  Is the Deputy now the Ceann Comhairle?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. O'Connell  I have given a lot of time to supplementary questions on Question No. 2 and I should like the Taoiseach to answer Question No. 3.

Mr. N. Andrews: Information on Niall Andrews  Zoom on Niall Andrews  I should like to raise a point of order.

[234]Dr. Loughnane: Information on William Loughnane  Zoom on William Loughnane  As a Member from the west of Ireland I demand to ask a supplementary question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. O'Connell  I have moved to Question No. 3, I am sorry, particularly for Deputy Loughnane.

Mr. N. Andrews: Information on Niall Andrews  Zoom on Niall Andrews  On a point of order, Deputy Loughnane was offering but, through no fault of the Chair, he was not seen. Is it proper that the Chair should deny him the opportunity to ask a supplementary question?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. O'Connell  We had gone to Question No. 3. While I have the greatest sympathy with Deputy Loughnane we must move on.

Dr. Loughnane: Information on William Loughnane  Zoom on William Loughnane  I hope we will at least have some Ministers in the west for the Galway Races.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. O'Connell  I have to ask Deputy Loughnane to permit the House to move on. I am sorry I must do this to Deputy Loughnane.

Dr. Loughnane: Information on William Loughnane  Zoom on William Loughnane  I demand my rights as a west of Ireland Deputy to ask supplementaries.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. O'Connell  We have moved to Question No. 3 and if the Deputy continues I will have to say he is disorderly. We have gone to Question No. 3. I am sorry about this but the Deputy is persisting.

Dr. Loughnane: Information on William Loughnane  Zoom on William Loughnane  I am sorry for the Fine Gael people in the west of Ireland because they do not have a Minister to speak on their behalf.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on John F. O'Connell  Zoom on John F. O'Connell  The Deputy should resume his seat; he is being disorderly.


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