Thursday, 10 March 1983
Dáil Éireann Debate
The Taoiseach: It is proposed to take Nos. 2 (resumed) and 3 (resumed). By agreement, if there are no speakers offering on the debate on item No. 2, proceedings on that item will be adjourned until Tuesday, 22 March 1983, when the Minister will be called on to conclude.
Mr. Gene Fitzgerald: On the Order of Business, may I ask the Taoiseach if, in view of yesterday's decision of the Federated Union of Employers and their criticism of the Government for their lack of leadership in the area, following so closely on the decision the previous day of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, and realising the two very different approaches on pay stated by them, he would now indicate to the House what are the Government's intentions in this respect and what leadership he intends to give?
Mr. Gene Fitzgerald: Would the Taoiseach not agree further that this statement should be made in this House rather  than issuing a statement to the public press at a time when probably this House will be dispersing to various parts of the country this evening?
The Taoiseach: That is something which should be considered through the Whips. I have an open mind on that. But we will be issuing a statement and, if it is thought desirable to make it here, we can do that. That will be considered through the Whips. We will be making a statement. If it is thought desirable to make it here, we can do so.
Mr. De Rossa: On the Order of Business, I wish to raise on the Adjournment the provision of temporary accommodation for single homeless persons. I raised this twice before, hoping to get in on it today.
Mr. Barrett: (Dublin North-West): In view of the widespread public concern about the decision of the judge in the Fairview murder trial I wonder would the Minister for Justice be prepared to make a statement to the House in regard to the matter?
An Ceann Comhairle: That matter was  raised yesterday and the Chair ruled that it did not properly arise on the Order of Business. If the Minister wishes to indicate whether or not he wants to make a statement, the Chair has no objection; but there can be no discussion on it.
The Taoiseach: On a point of order, may I raise a query on this? This House has certain powers in relation to the Judiciary. I have taken some advice on this. It has power to act in certain specific cases——
The Taoiseach: ——in a formal way. Because of that I understand it has been the uniform tradition of the House that unless the House considers action falling within those categories — and I think it would be difficult to hold that in this instance — the House restrains itself and does not discuss Judiciary decisions, because of the fact that it is in this particular position. It restrains itself from comments which otherwise members of the public might feel to make without any question of contempt of court or anything like that. In these circumstances I am asking, you, Sir, would it not be a breach of the tradition of the House if a statement were to be made on this, although I think every Member of the House would like to make one?
The position regarding the Judiciary is that the conduct — and I am not using that word in any disparaging way — of a member of the judiciary may be raised in this House only on a formal motion. That precedent, if I might call it such, goes back practically to the foundation of the State and has been followed scrupulously in this House ever since.
Mr. Haughey: I find that statement by  you, Sir, extraordinary and I find the attitude of the Taoiseach in this matter extraordinary, because it is not so very long ago in this House when you, Sir, and the Taoiseach occupied these benches that you both spent a considerable amount of time of the House discussing a case, admittedly a case held in the District Court, on an electoral procedural matter. So, is there to be one tradition in regard to the behaviour or conduct, to use your own phrase, of a district justice and a different tradition to obtain in regard to the High Court?
An Ceann Comhairle: Order, please. In reply to the Leader of the Opposition, the Chair can only say that the present occupant of the Chair did not occupy the Chair on the occasion referred to by the Leader of the Opposition. The Chair also can only say that the occupant of the Chair does not bring into the Chair with him, shall I say, his past.
An Ceann Comhairle: Let the Chair conclude, please. May I go on to say that I am advised, and I accept, that the long-standing rule, going back to the foundation of this State, has been that the conduct of a judge can properly be raised only on a formal motion?
Mr. Haughey: Then I am prepared, Sir, to exclude you from this discussion in view of the excellent technical defence which you have put up. But I do ask the Taoiseach if he can reconcile now the statement which he had made.
Mr. Haughey: I beg your pardon, a Cheann Comhairle, the Taoiseach has intervened here and given us a point of view on whether or not the conduct of Judge Gannon can be raised in this  House. Am I not entitled to reply to what the Taoiseach said? You are either in order, Sir, in permitting the Taoiseach to make these statements or you are not. If you are in order, surely I am entitled to make some comment on what the Taoiseach said?
An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair wants to make his position clear. Deputy Michael Barrett asked whether the Minister for Justice would be prepared to make a statement on this matter. The Taoiseach intervened and, when he stood, the Chair did not know whether he would volunteer to have the statement made, and the Chair heard him. That does not mean that one thing borrows another and develops into an argument. With all due respect, it proves the wisdom of not allowing things to be raised impromptu on the Order of Business, because if this were to be carried to its logical conclusion we would find ourselves here for half an hour or an hour following every hare that would be raised; with arguments from one side of the House or another.
Mr. Haughey: That may be, but I suggest this is not a hare that is being raised. This is a matter of fundamental public importance. You permitted the Taoiseach to give his view as to why this matter should not be discussed.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair is ruling that the Leader of the Opposition or anybody else is not entitled on the Order of Business to open a discussion on something that happened in the House months or years ago when there was another occupant in the Chair.
Mr. Haughey: I want to ask the Taoiseach to elaborate. He has made a statement indicating that in his view it would  be improper for us, or not in accordance with precedent, or tradition, or whatever you like to call it, to raise the matter of the decision of Judge Gannon in the Fair-view Park case. I want to ask the Taoiseach, arising out of his statement in regard to the tradition of the House, how he reconciles that with the behaviour of him and his party when, in Opposition, they discussed in great detail a case that had been held in the District Court. I should be grateful if the Taoiseach would reconcile these two stances by him.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair is ruling that that would be elaborating on something which was not properly raised on the Order of Business. The Chair is pointing out that any Deputy who feels strongly enough about this has the machinery at his disposal to put down a formal motion.
An Ceann Comhairle: No. Either we are to have a debate on this or we are not. This is not the time to have it and I will not allow it. Deputy Gene Fitzgerald to resume the debate on the Social Welfare Bill.
Mr. P. Gallagher: I should like to raise on the Adjournment today the subject matter of Question No. 169 on yesterday's Order Paper. It refers to the termination — the answer would not be very explicit to you, Sir——
An Ceann Comhairle: I want to say without heat that I do not think it adds to the dignity of this House to have Members coming in here morning after morning violating Standing Orders and arguing with the Chair. The Chair will operate, without bias one way or the other, any set of Standing Orders that the House wants to provide him with. I  appeal to all Members in the interests of the dignity and harmony in the House, and of democracy, to help and co-operate with me in enforcing Standing Orders. Deputy Gene Fitzgerald.
|Last Updated: 02/06/2011 12:07:00||Page of 37|