Order of Business.

Thursday, 24 April 1986

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 365 No. 9

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The Taoiseach: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  A Cheann Comhairle, it is proposed to take items Nos. 23 and 24.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  With reference to the legislation which has been circulated to us in the form of a Bill to amend the Constitution, may I ask the Taoiseach if he would explain to the House how, yesterday morning at this time, he could tell me that he would be coming to the Government to present conclusions and that the Government had not reached any decision on the matter? Is he seriously suggesting, as a matter of credibility to this House, that for the first time yesterday morning the Government approached this important issue, discussed it and decided it all at one morning's meeting of the Cabinet? Is that the Taoiseach's position on this matter?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  The Chair's position is that we cannot start off today's business with a post mortem on yesterday's business.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Why not?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Because that has been the practice over many years.

[1714]Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  I never heard of such a practice.

The Taoiseach: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  First of all, I submit——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  I was going to say, Taoiseach, that the Bill is now on the Order Paper and presumably will be coming before the House. That will afford an opportunity for raising the point which Deputy Haughey now wishes to raise, or any other point which is in order.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  A Cheann Comhairle. you will recall that yesterday morning when I sought information about this matter, you sought to rule me out, despite the fact that legislation was imminent.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  If the Deputy is now——

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  You spent two or three pages of the official record preventing me from asking a question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  If the Deputy is now challenging the Ceann Comhairle's ruling, that is not in order.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  I am not challenging it.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  When my attention was drawn to——

Mr. G. Collins: Information on Gerard Collins  Zoom on Gerard Collins  Do you still believe that the legislation was not promised?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Deputy Collins should keep out of this.

Mr. G. Collins: Information on Gerard Collins  Zoom on Gerard Collins  Do you still believe it was not promised?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  I think that that is what your leader thinks, too.

Mr. G. Collins: Information on Gerard Collins  Zoom on Gerard Collins  Do you believe that it was not considered before yesterday?

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Yesterday morning I sought to ask the Taoiseach about this [1715] matter as impending legislation. You sought to prevent my raising it. Probably to your surprise and to mine a Bill was circulated yesterday. I want to ask the Taoiseach about a matter of some significance, as this is a major change. He gave me and the House to believe yesterday morning that the matter had not come before the Government, that he had not put the proposal before the Government and that the Government had not taken any decision. I want to suggest to you, a Cheann Comhairle, that it strains the credulity of this House to suggest that a major change of this kind, an amendment to the Constitution was, in fact, decided by the Government ab initio at one morning's Cabinet meeting.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  I shall allow the question, but I shall not allow a debate on the matter.

The Taoiseach: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  In view of the fact that the statement of the Leader of the Opposition could be held to impute to me that I misled the House, I should like to respond to that.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  That is what I have said the Taoiseach was doing.

The Taoiseach: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  What I said yesterday was that the position was that I had stated publicly that following consultation with the Churches I would be coming to the Government to present the conclusions that I had reached. Secondly, I said that the Government had not taken any decision on the matter in question. The matter had been before the Government for consideration. It was brought again to the Government for consideration yesterday and final conclusions were reached after lunchtime yesterday. I informed the Deputy within the hour, certainly within a short space of time and as soon as I could, that we had reached those conclusions and indicated to him, as a matter of courtesy, the time at which legislation would be likely to be circulated. I think that I have carried out my [1716] functions fully and honourably in the matter.

Deputies:  Hear, hear.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  I wish to acknowledge the Taoiseach's courtesy yesterday, after the Government decision had been taken, in letting me have the appropriate documentation as quickly as possible. However, I suggest that there is only one possible interpretation of the word used by the Taoiseach yesterday morning to this House about this important matter and that was that he had not as of yesterday morning put proposals to the Government.

The Taoiseach: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  That is not so.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  What the Taoiseach said yesterday morning was, and I quote, “I have stated publicly that following consultations with the Churches I will be coming to the Government to present the conclusions I have reached.”

The Taoiseach: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  Would be coming to the Government.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Any reasonable person reading those words would imply that the Taoiseach had not gone to the Government with the proposals at that stage.

The Taoiseach: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  What I said was that I would be coming to the Government with the conclusions.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  We can debate all this later. The Government backbenchers will have their opportunity then, too. Has the Minister of State something to say?

Minister of State at the Department of the Public Service (Mr. J. O'Keeffe): Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe  The Deputy is wasting his own time and the time of the House.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Order, please.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Perhaps if the Minister of State has something important to say he will seek your permission to say it.

[1717]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  The Chair would like order, please. I will allow Deputy Haughey to ask one further short question, but if this were to develop into a debate the wisdom of the Chair when he ruled that the matter could not be raised at all would become very apparent. We must proceed with the business of the House.

Mr. Haughey: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  I accept your ruling and I propose to leave the matter at that except to suggest that the Taoiseach was not fair to the House and was not honest with the House yesterday morning when he conveyed to us the impression that at that point he had not put proposals to the Government and that the whole matter apparently was decided by the Government at one morning Cabinet meeting.

The Taoiseach: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  I wish to repudiate that in the strongest terms possible. I made the matter clear. I told the House what I had told the Churches, that was, that I would be bringing the matter before the Government and I told the House that the Government had not at that point taken a decision. As soon as a decision was taken I informed Deputy Haughey accordingly. I am not prepared to accept any imputation of dishonesty or of misleading the House.

Mr. G. Collins: Information on Gerard Collins  Zoom on Gerard Collins  Can the Taoiseach say what is the position regarding the next meeting of the Anglo-Irish Conference?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  That does not arise on the Order of Business.

Mr. Lenihan: Information on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Zoom on Brian Lenihan Snr.  Surely the House should have this information.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  This may be a very convenient time for raising all sorts of issues; but, if that is what Members propose doing, Standing Orders should be changed to so provide.

Mr. G. Collins: Information on Gerard Collins  Zoom on Gerard Collins  Back from the Dutch auction.

Proinsias De Rossa: Information on Prionsias De Rossa  Zoom on Prionsias De Rossa  Can the Taoiseach [1718] say when it is proposed to discuss in the House the referendum Bill?

The Taoiseach: Information on Garrett Fitzgerald  Zoom on Garrett Fitzgerald  That is a matter to be discussed between the Whips. I understand they are in discussion on it at present.

Mr. Farrelly: Information on John V. Farrelly  Zoom on John V. Farrelly  I wish to raise on the Adjournment the subject matter of the failure of the Department of Education to commence repairs to the Gilsenan school, Oldcastle, County Meath.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  The Chair will communicate with the Deputy.


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