Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Ministerial Responsibilities.

Wednesday, 13 May 1987

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 372 No. 8

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2.

Mr. J. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  asked the Taoiseach if he will give details of the respective responsibilities of (a) the Minister for Tourism and Transport, (b) the Minister for the Marine, (c) the Minister for the Environment in shipping and port matters; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Precise details of the responsibilities of the Ministers in question are defined by statute subject to any relevant transfer of functions Orders which have been deposited in the Dáil Library. In this connection, I would refer the Deputy to the written reply I made to Deputy Avril Doyle on 1 April 1987 listing relevant transfer of functions Orders.

Mr. J. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  Will the Taoiseach not agree that the various documents to which he refers serve to obfuscate the changes that are made in this connection? Will he not agree that it is difficult to justify the splitting up of the shipping function between at least two Departments? I would like him to elaborate on precisely what shipping function the Department of Tourism and Transport now have. Despite all the papers to which the Taoiseach has referred it is far from clear.

[1744]The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Which shipping functions——?

Mr. J. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  Which shipping functions do the Department of Tourism and Transport have?

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Ferries.

Mr. J. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  Just ferries. Does that mean that the Department of the Marine are responsible for shipping policy other than ferries?

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  More or less.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  Which Department are responsible for the Kowloon Bridge wreck?

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  No Department wrecked the Kowloon Bridge.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  That seems to be a separate question anyway.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  I said, “Which Department have responsibility for the wreck of the Kowloon Bridge?”

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Basically the Department of the Marine. The Department of the Marine at the moment have an operation in progress to take the oil off the wrecked ship which is really the main problem still remaining. The Department of the Environment, through the county council, have responsibility for keeping the beaches cleaned up when the oil comes ashore. Therefore, it is between those two Departments but the primary responsibility is with the Department of the Marine.

Mr. Cullen: Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Which Department specifically have responsibility for the movement of freight traffic in and out of the country?

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Which traffic?

Mr. Cullen: Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Freight.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  The Department of [1745] Tourism and Transport have responsibility for sea ferries and in so far as these sea ferries carry freight it would come under the jurisdiction of the Department of Tourism and Transport. In so far as it is other types of shipping it would be under the Department of the Marine. You have to draw the line somewhere.

Mr. J. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  Will the Taoiseach be prepared to review this distribution of functions after, say, the passage of some months if it is not working out and if, as I suspect, it causes great difficulties for the shipping industry because of the dispersal between the Departments of policy in that respect?

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Certainly I will be prepared to review it but the Deputy knows full well there is always some overlapping in functions between different Departments and the line must be drawn somewhere. Perhaps it would have been more complete to transfer sea ferries entirely to the Department of the Marine along with other shipping, but as against that the sea ferries have a very important contribution to make to the tourist industry. Therefore, on balance it was decided to leave ferries with the Department of Tourism and Transport, but it can be looked at again.

Mr. J. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  Will the Taoiseach not agree that shipping in general is an intrinsic part of transport? Perhaps he will be honest enough to admit that this Department of the Marine incorporating shipping was a rash promise made in the euphoria of the advent of the general election. In view of his U-turn on health, the SEA and the Anglo-Irish Agreement, will he not agree this will be a U-turn——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  This seems to be an extension of the question on the Order Paper.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Like myself, a Cheann Comhairle, you deplore the tendentious nature of the Deputy's supplementary questions.

[1746]An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I want to get on to another question.

Mr. J. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  It is a good way of getting rid of my question.

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  I want to assure Deputy Mitchell that, on the contrary, I have for a long period of years been interested in establishing a Department of the Marine and I have the support of many Deputies in this House for that concept. It has always seemed to me absurd that an island nation like ours would not have a Department solely responsible for the development of our maritime resources.

Mr. J. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  Surely it is a——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  We are having a long number of questions.

Mr. J. Mitchell: Information on Jim Mitchell  Zoom on Jim Mitchell  Arising from the Taoiseach's reply, the whole point of this question is to highlight the fact that there is not one Department but two or three Departments looking after shipping matters.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  This could go on all day.

Mr. D. Gallagher: Information on Denis Gallagher  Zoom on Denis Gallagher  At least they are being looked after.

Mr. Cullen: Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  I ask the Taoiseach to try to ensure that these areas of conflict are cleared up. I had a question in asking the volume of freight traffic from the Republic using Northern Ireland ports in 1985-86 and this question has been refused after a long——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Deputy Cullen, I thought you had a pertinent question to put to the Taoiseach. Have you or have you not?

Mr. Cullen: Information on Martin Cullen  Zoom on Martin Cullen  Can the Taoiseach ensure that the demarcation lines which seem to be there between the Department of the Marine and the Department of Tourism and Transport are clear so that questions [1747] would not be refused on a basis which seems unclear?

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  Questions relating to freight would be more appropriate to the CSO.

Mr. Noonan: Information on Michael Noonan  Zoom on Michael Noonan  (Limerick East): Is the Taoiseach aware of the package of tax incentives which was announced by the previous Minister for Communications in January? Is it the intention of the Government to incorporate these incentives, in so far as they relate to shipping, in the Finance Bill?

The Taoiseach: Information on Charles J. Haughey  Zoom on Charles J. Haughey  That is a question for the Minister for Finance.


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