Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Visit by Nelson Mandela.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Meeting of EC Heads of Government.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Taoiseach's Visit to USA.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - European Security Agreement.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - EC and EFTA Meetings.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Appointment of Minister of State.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Limerick Civic Centre Accommodation.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - City of Culture Project.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - EC Presidency Visit.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - EC Grant Aid.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Regional Technical Colleges.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - School Cycle.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Third Level Education.
Private Notice Questions. - Starving People of Ethiopia.
Order of Business.
Industrial Relations Bill, 1989: Second Stage (Resumed).
Private Members' Business. - Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs: Motion.
Private Members' Business. - Industrial Relations Bill, 1989: Second Stage (Resumed).
Adjournment Debate. - Cabinet Task Force Report.
Adjournment Debate. - House Improvement Grants.
Written Answers. - County Kildare Estate.
Written Answers. - Assistance for Dyslexics.
Written Answers. - Pupil-Teacher Ratios.
Written Answers. - Illiteracy.
Written Answers. - Sports Museum.
Written Answers. - Schools in Disadvantaged Areas.
Written Answers. - Halla Spóirt do Phobalscoil Ghaoth Dobhair.
Written Answers. - Schools' General Purposes Facilities.
Written Answers. - Provision of Educational Courses.
Written Answers. - Discrimination Against Women.
Written Answers. - New Junior Certificate.
Written Answers. - Storm Damage to County Limerick School.
Written Answers. - Psychological Services.
Written Answers. - Specialist Schools.
Written Answers. - Appointment of Teachers.
Written Answers. - Dublin Zoo.
Written Answers. - School Staff.
Written Answers. - Blanchardstown (Dublin) Community College.
Written Answers. - Youth Services.
Written Answers. - Second Level Students.
Written Answers. - Juvenile Girls' Detention Centre.
Written Answers. - Rationalisation of Primary Schools.
Written Answers. - Cashel (County Tipperary) School Staff.
Written Answers. - Capitation Grants.
Written Answers. - School Caretakers.
Written Answers. - VEC Staffing.
Written Answers. - Adult Education Resources.
Written Answers. - Lists of National Schools.
Written Answers. - National Youth Service.
Written Answers. - Pre-Service Training.
Written Answers. - Naas (County Kildare) School.
Written Answers. - Substitute Teachers.
Written Answers. - Higher Education in Northern Ireland.
Written Answers. - Coláiste Gaeilge Samhraidh.
Written Answers. - Dublin Community Schools.
Written Answers. - Teachers' Early Retirement.
Written Answers. - Carysfort (Dublin) College.
Written Answers. - Additional Third Level Places.
Written Answers. - EC Funding.
Written Answers. - Dún Laoghaire (Dublin) Primary School.
Written Answers. - Pupil/Teacher Ratio, in Special Schools.
Written Answers. - Meetings with National Youth Council.
Written Answers. - Pension Arrangements for School Caretakers.
Written Answers. - Implementation of Legislation.
Written Answers. - Federation of European States.
Written Answers. - Balance of Trade Statistics.
Written Answers. - Collins Barracks.
Written Answers. - Army Arrests.
Written Answers. - United Nations Debt.
Written Answers. - Tax Rebate.
Written Answers. - IIIegal Moneylending.
Written Answers. - Voluntary Redundancy.
Written Answers. - Ordnance Survey Vehicles.
Written Answers. - Ordnance Survey Staff.
Written Answers. - Tax Refund.
Written Answers. - Tax Free Allowance Certificate.
Written Answers. - PAYE-VAT Payments.
Written Answers. - Decentralisation of Office.
Written Answers. - Oil Company's Liabilities.
Written Answers. - Joint Venture Scheme.
Written Answers. - Rural Development Pilot Programme.
Written Answers. - Grant Payments.
Written Answers. - Production of Milk.
Written Answers. - Grant Payments.
Written Answers. - Veterinary Inspector Appointments.
Written Answers. - Grant Payments.
Written Answers. - Laois Land Commission Holdings.
Written Answers. - Grant Payments.
Written Answers. - Insurance Corporation of Ireland.
Written Answers. - Retail Outlets for Motor Fuels.
Written Answers. - Food Labelling Regulations.
Written Answers. - Dartry (Monaghan) Herd of Deer.
Written Answers. - European Gas Grid.
Written Answers. - Natural Gas Deposits.
Written Answers. - Illegal Moneylending.
Written Answers. - Pre-retirement Allowance Scheme.
Written Answers. - Combat Poverty Agency.
Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.
Written Answers. - Social Welfare Cheques.
Written Answers. - Social Welfare Benefits.
Written Answers. - Departmental Transfer.
Written Answers. - Unit for Female Offenders.
Written Answers. - Illegal Moneylending.
Written Answers. - Disposal of Meath Property.
Written Answers. - Subdivision of Land Transfer.
Written Answers. - Custodial Facilities.
Written Answers. - Remission of Penalties.
Written Answers. - Interception of Telephone Calls.
Written Answers. - Athlone (Westmeath) Cable Television Licence.
Written Answers. - Review of Architects' EC Directive.
Written Answers. - Driving Test.
Written Answers. - Access to Land Funding.
Written Answers. - County Monaghan Roads Improvements Funding.
Written Answers. - Voluntary Redundancy.
Written Answers. - Urban Renewal Scheme.
Written Answers. - County Kildare By-Pass
Written Answers. - Grant Payments.
Written Answers. - Urban Renewal Scheme.
Written Answers. - Ballyfermot (Dublin) House Refurbishment.
Written Answers. - Local Authority Dwellings.
Written Answers. - County Cork Water and Sewerage Schemes.
Written Answers. - Urban Renewal Scheme.
Written Answers. - Cycle Tracks.
Written Answers. - Tallaght (Dublin) Hospital Project.
Written Answers. - Accommodation for Mentally Handicapped Person.
Written Answers. - Crumlin (Dublin) Children's Hospital Funding.
Written Answers. - Pay of Home Helps.
Written Answers. - Cork Regional Hospital, Bed Provision.
Written Answers. - Speech Therapists.
Written Answers. - Hospital Incinerators.
Written Answers. - Admissions to Cork Hospitals.
Written Answers. - Provision of Long-Stay Care.
Written Answers. - Payments to General Practitioners.
Written Answers. - Admissions to Dublin Hospital.
Written Answers. - Nursing Statistics.
Written Answers. - Provision of Medical Treatment.
Written Answers. - Financial Aid.
Written Answers. - Hospital Staff Shortages.
Written Answers. - Custodial Facilities.
Written Answers. - Community Health Initiatives.
Written Answers. - Hospital Staff Statistics.
Written Answers. - Cardiac Ambulance.
Written Answers. - Cardiac Operations.
Written Answers. - Alarm Systems for the Elderly.
Written Answers. - AIDS Risks.
Written Answers. - National Lottery Project Funding.
Written Answers. - Home for the Aged.
Written Answers. - County Tipperary Mentally Handicapped Facilities.
Written Answers. - County Meath School Project.
Written Answers. - County Kerry Company.
Written Answers. - School Transport.
Written Answers. - County Tipperary School.
Written Answers. - School Transport.
Written Answers. - Remedial Teachers.
Written Answers. - School Attendance Service.
Written Answers. - Meath All-Irish School.
Written Answers. - Dublin School Project.
Written Answers. - Public Library Facilities.
Written Answers. - Mallow (Cork) Academy Project.
Written Answers. - Issue of P60s.
Written Answers. - Administrative Principals Appointments.
Written Answers. - Higher Education Grants.
Written Answers. - State Endowment of Schools.
Written Answers. - Resource Material on AIDS.
Written Answers. - Youth Service Recruitment.
Written Answers. - Leaving and Intermediate Certificates.
Written Answers. - PRSI Refund.
Written Answers. - Dublin New College Board.
Written Answers. - County Kilkenny School Proposal.
Written Answers. - Cork City Education Advisory Body.
Written Answers. - Dublin Institute of Technology.
Written Answers. - National Lottery Project Funding.
Written Answers. - County Clare School Staffing.
Written Answers. - Education on AIDS.
Written Answers. - National Lottery Funds.
Written Answers. - School Transport.
Written Answers. - County Mayo School Transport.
Written Answers. - Repeat Examination Fee.
Written Answers. - Adult Education Provision.
Written Answers. - Costs of Places in Second Level Schools.
Written Answers. - Marking of Examination Papers.
Written Answers. - University Funding.
Written Answers. - Admission to Third Level Courses.
Written Answers. - Mobility in Teaching Profession.
Written Answers. - Schools Codes of Discipline.
Written Answers. - Integration of the Handicapped Policy.
Written Answers. - Behaviour at Sports Events.
Written Answers. - County Tipperary Schools.
Written Answers. - Third Level Education.
Written Answers. - Deeds of Trust for Community Schools.
Written Answers. - South-West Region Projects Funding.
Written Answers. - Cork-Youghal Rail Link.
Written Answers. - Border Regions Tourism.
Written Answers. - Bus Éireann Fleet.
 Chuaigh an Ceann Comhairle i gceannas ar 2.30 p.m.
1. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Taoiseach if his attention has been drawn to reports that Nelson Mandela is to visit a number of European countries over the coming months; if, in light of this, he will consider inviting Mr. Mandela to visit Ireland during his trip to Europe; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Taoiseach: On behalf of the Government, I have invited Mr. Mandela, in a letter of 21 February, to visit Ireland as soon as it is convenient for him to do so. Since then, in the course of a message I sent on the occasion of Mr. Mandela's meeting with the frontline States and other countries in Lusaka on 28 February, at which the Minister for Foreign Affairs represented me, I expressed the wish that Mr. Mandela might be able to accept the invitation.
The Minister raised the question with Mr. Mandela when they met in Lusaka. Mr. Mandela indicated that he hopes that the travel programme which is being prepared for him will enable him to come to Ireland very soon as he wants to accept  the invitation and to receive the freedom of the City of Dublin.
Proinsias De Rossa: Is the Taoiseach aware that it has been reported that Mr. Mandela is expected to be in Britain around Easter time? Has he made any contacts either with Mr. Mandela or the ANC to find out if he could tie in a visit to Ireland around that time as well? Does the Taoiseach propose to offer Mr. Mandela the privilege of addressing a joint meeting of the Houses of the Oireachtas on the occasion of his visit?
The Taoiseach: We are keeping in close touch with Mr. Mandela's programme. The situation is as I have outlined it. He hopes to arrange a visit here as soon as possible. The Deputy will understand he is very busily engaged on a number of fronts. Deputy Spring has already been in touch with me about addressing both Houses and I have indicated to him that that would really be a matter for the House to consider in due course. So far that invitation has only been extended to Heads of State or Government. I will keep in touch with the House on the matter as the situation develops.
2. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Taoiseach if a date has been set for the holding of the special meeting of EC Heads of Government in Dublin in April 1990; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Taoiseach: The Summit meeting of EC Heads of State or Government in Dublin will be held on 28 April.
Proinsias De Rossa: The question has, to some extent, been overtaken by events. In the light of the date fixed for that meeting, will the Taoiseach arrange for a debate on the question of developments in Europe, and eastern Europe in particular, before that Summit takes place so that Deputies and parties in this House would have an opportunity to express their view on these issues?
The Taoiseach: I have no particular view one way or another as to when the debate might, with best advantage, be held. I agree in principle to the holding of a debate. As the Deputy knows, the elections in East Germany will be held on 18 March and they will be followed fairly rapidly by elections in other eastern European countries. It is a matter for decision. Perhaps party leaders or Whips could talk about whether it would be better to wait until we have a clearer picture as a result of these elections before having a debate here.
Proinsias De Rossa: I understand that elections both in eastern and central Europe will take place right up to some time in June so that if we were to wait until all of the elections have been completed we would probably be into the summer recess before that happened. Let me suggest to the Taoiseach, as I have suggested to him before, that what is at issue here are matters of principle rather than the question of the actual structures that will evolve primarily at the insistence of the people concerned. The attitude we take is important. In the light of that, would the Taoiseach consider publishing a position paper of the Government on the question of our evolving attitudes to eastern Europe?
An Ceann Comhairle: The question relates solely to the holding of a special meeting.
Mr. Barry: Does the Taoiseach recall my asking him a similar question about a fortnight ago? At that stage he said it was contemplated making statements after the meeting. I made the point at the time that I thought a debate would be a better method of getting the views of the House on record. Is the Taoiseach now coming down in favour of a debate? As I pointed out at the time, only party leaders can make statements.
The Taoiseach: I really have an open mind. I would like to facilitate the House because these are historic and far-reaching changes and it would be helpful  if the House had the fullest opportunity of discussing them. Perhaps we could leave it to the Whips to work out what is the general view.
3. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Taoiseach if he will outline the matters discussed at his recent meeting with President George Bush; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
4. Mr. Spring asked the Taoiseach if he will make a statement regarding his recent visit to the United States of America.
5. Mr. Noonan (Limerick East) asked the Taoiseach if, when travelling to and from the United States last week, he flew directly from Dublin to the United States and returned from the United States directly to Dublin; and if any intermediate stop was made in either the outward or inward journey for refuelling or other purposes.
6. Mr. Dukes asked the Taoiseach if he has any plans for a meeting with the President of the United States at Camp David.
The Taoiseach: A Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 3 to 6, inclusive, together.
I travelled to the United States for an official working visit which took place on 27 and 28 February and returned to Ireland on 1 March.
The text of the joint statement issued following my meeting with President Bush and Secretary of State Baker has been laid before both Houses. The joint statement sets out the arrangements for strengthening EC/US relations at the highest and other levels which, as President of the European Council, I said I would be recommending to the other Heads of State or Government of the Council.
We also discussed a number of other important issues. We identified co-operation in the fight against international  drug trafficking and the international movement of drug funds and our continuing efforts to protect the environment as areas suitable for co-operation. There will be follow-up contracts in the areas of common interest.
I also reviewed with the President and Secretary of State the evolving situation in Central and Eastern Europe and the question of German unification.
I raised a number of bilateral issues including immigration, US taxation laws and briefed the President and Secretary of State on the situation in Northern Ireland. I expressed my appreciation for constructive US interest and support on Anglo-Irish relations.
No further meeting is planned at present but I have invited the President to pay an official visit to Ireland at a convenient time.
I availed of my visit to Washington to attend a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and to talk to a number of Senators, including Majority Leader Senator Mitchell, Senator Kennedy and Senator Claiborne Pell as well as Speaker Foley and other prominent Congressmen. I met US Trade Representative Hills and William Reilly, Head of the Environmental Protection Agency, who offered full assistance and co-operation in the establishment of our Environmental Protection Agency and the implementation of our environment action programme.
At all of these meetings the importance of enhancing relations between the US and the EC at both political and economic level was discussed and I found a ready acceptance of this view and a very favourable attitude to the Community's role and development.
I greatly valued my discussions with the President, Secretary of State and other American leaders which I found to be extremely positive and encouraging and particularly significant in developing the closer US/EC links which, in my view, are essential to the stability and future development of Europe and the world.
An Ceann Comhairle: I will call the  Deputies in the order in which their questions appear on the Order Paper.
Proinsias De Rossa: Does the Taoiseach consider that the arrangement agreed between himself and President Bush will be acceptable to the other 11 member states of the EC? Does he expect there will be any objections to any aspect of it? Did he raise questions with President Bush concerning the continued support of the US for the Contras in and on the borders of Nicaragua and for the Pol Pot element in Cambodia, both of which have serious destabilishing effects on world politics?
The Taoiseach: I have no wish to pre-empt the decision of the Heads of State or Government, but what I achieved in agreement with the US President and Secretary of State was broadly in line with what was discussed at the Foreign Ministers' meeting before I left. I did not discuss the other issues. When I was there the results of the Nicaraguan elections had just come in and the situation was being assessed by everybody concerned.
Mr. Spring: In the Taoiseach's discussions with President Bush on the events in Central and Eastern Europe, was the question of the border of Poland discussed? Did the American President give a view on the future borders of Poland? Secondly, I understand from comments made that the Taoiseach went to Washington as the first part of a visit, the second leg being Moscow. Is the second leg still on?
The Taoiseach: Publicly while I was there the US President gave his view on the German-Polish border question. Chancellor Kohl had been in Washington just before I arrived and then the whole situation was discussed and the views of both the Chancellor and the President were enunciated, so I was fully aware of what the President's views were on the situation with regard to the German-Polish border.
Is the Deputy referring to a visit by me  to Moscow? That is on the table but there is nothing definite so far.
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Michael Noonan (Limerick East), should he wish to intervene.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): The Taoiseach decided to reply to Question No. 5 in my name in the context of his replies to other questions but made no reference to Question No. 5 in his reply. Since he did not refer to it in the main reply, will he confirm that on his flights to and from the US he flew directly from Dublin in the first instance to Canada and returned direct from Washington? Does he consider that flight plan was in breach of the spirit of Government policy on Shannon Airport? Is he aware that he is the first Taoiseach on an official visit to the US not to visit Shannon in the course of the outgoing or return journey? Will he agree that his assurances recently on the status of Shannon Airport must be now viewed as advice to “do what I say but do not do what I do”?
The Taoiseach: I think the general public will find it revealing that Deputy Spring and Deputy De Rossa questioned the substance of my meeting and the issues discussed whereas both Fine Gael questions are addressed to the trivia related to my visit.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): Answer the question.
The Taoiseach: The answer to the question, if it really merits the time of the House, is “yes”——
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): The Taoiseach is obliged to answer questions put down to him.
The Taoiseach: The aeroplane on which I was transported to the US——
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): State airline.
The Taoiseach: ——stopped to refuel at Goose Bay, Newfoundland, on the way out.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): A good choice, the way the Taoiseach made an ass of himself.
An Ceann Comhairle: Let us hear the Taoiseach's reply without interruption.
The Taoiseach: I am not sure what brand of petrol was supplied but I am sure it was adequate and satisfactory. We then proceeded at a height, I think, of 35,000 feet and landed, a very gentle, excellent landing by my Air Corps pilots at Andrews Air Force Base——
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): People in Shannon will not wear this.
The Taoiseach: ——where I was greeted with great ceremony——
The Taoiseach: ——by a General of the US Air Force. I was whisked from my aeroplane into a helicopter, known in the US as Air Force 1 — I know the Deputy is going to say Air Force 1 is an aeroplane. It is also a helicopter — and I was brought from there and landed by the reflection pool just beside the Washington Memorial.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): Is the Taoiseach making fun of Shannon Airport?
The Taoiseach: I am making fun of the Deputy——
The Taoiseach: ——and his concentration on ridiculous trivia.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): Are you not the first Taoiseach ever who did not fly into Shannon and out again——
Mr. J. Bruton: Without taking from  any of the matters that may have been discussed between himself and President Bush or their importance, can I ask the Taoiseach why he did not take the opportunity of these discussions to raise with President Bush Ireland's concern about the US proposals in regard to agriculture in the current round of world trade talks which proposals, if brought into effect, would have a devastating effect on Ireland's largest industry? Let me express my surprise that, notwithstanding the very comprehensive nature of the Taoiseach's talks and their duration, he did not raise this matter. Will he avail of the next opportunity, if he has one, to be sure to raise the question of Ireland's concern about the US approach to world trade as far as agriculture is concerned?
The Taoiseach: I am glad to be able to assure the Deputy that the President and I did discuss the GATT negotiations and the agricultural situation arising in connection with those GATT negotiations.
Mr. J. Bruton: Why did the Taoiseach not consider it necessary to refer to that either in the communiqué or in reply to today's question? Is the matter of agriculture and its treatment in the world trade talks so unimportant that in a lengthy reply the Taoiseach could leave it out?
The Taoiseach: In my reply I said that we also discussed a number of other issues. That covers a wide variety of subjects all of which I regard as equally important.
Mr. J. Bruton: So Irish agriculture is an anonymous footnote as far as these talks are concerned——
An Ceann Comhairle: This should not lead to argument or disorder.
Mr. J. Bruton: The Taoiseach has been ridiculous for the last five minutes wasting the time of the House.
The Taoiseach: The President and I  discussed the question of the agricultural issues between the US and the Community at some length.
Mr. J. Bruton: What conclusions did you reach?
The Taoiseach: I will answer that question.
An Ceann Comhairle: A brief supplementary from Deputy Spring and Deputy De Rossa. Deputies, I want to dissuade you from the notion of debating this matter today.
The Taoiseach: The conclusion we reached was that in most cases it was desirable if at all possible to have an early conclusion of the discussions between the Community and the US on that and all other matters. If the Deputy wants, I will give him a blow-by-blow, item by item account of everything I discussed with Representative Carla Hills, with Mr. O'Reilly, the head of the Environmental Department and with the majority leader of the Senate and so on and so on.
Mr. J. Bruton: May I ask——
The Taoiseach: I have endeavoured to comprise it all into a reasonable answer to the House today and I think I have succeeded in doing that.
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Spring has been called and will be heard.
Mr. Spring: May I ask the Taoiseach if he raised a matter which is of major importance to many families in this country in either his bilateral discussions with President Bush or with other leaders in Washington, that is, the question of Irish immigrants and their status in the United States? If he raised this matter, did he get any satisfaction as to what might be done for them?
The Taoiseach: I certainly did raise it. I raised it with the President and, in fact, any time I have met the President of the  United States I have raised that matter because I am aware how important an issue it is. I also discussed it with leaders on The Hill. There is a general understanding of the problem of the young people and a wish to be helpful. In fact, as the Deputy is probably aware, there is legislation coming before Congress now which, hopefully, will make a significant contribution.
Proinsias De Rossa: Is the Taoiseach concerned, as I am by the statement of President Bush that he regards the United States as a European power? Did he indicate his dissatisfaction with that point of view? Did he discuss with the President the advisability and requirement of most people that NATO and the Warsaw Pact should be wound down and that the United States or any other major country should no longer involve themselves in European power?
The Taoiseach: I think the Deputy's transformation in these matters is not yet complete.
Tomás Mac Giolla: Is America a European power?
The Taoiseach: I, with practically everybody else in the European Community, warmly welcome continuing United States interest in the Community and its affairs, its support for European integration. We also warmly welcome the contribution which the United States is making through CSCE and other areas to promote the general security and stability of Europe.
Mr. Barry: In the course of his reply the Taoiseach said he visited the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Houses of Congress. May I ask the Taoiseach if he realises that a visiting head of Government to this country could not do the same as we do not have a foreign affairs committee of this House?
An Ceann Comhairle: I want to bring these questions to finality. I think I have  given Deputy De Rossa quite a lot of leeway in this matter but if he has a very brief supplementary question, I will hear it.
Proinsias De Rossa: My question related to the United States as a European power and was not a question of whether they have an interest——
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is engaging in an argument.
Proinsias De Rossa: ——in European power in the same way as in Central America — interference in European affairs.
Mr. J. Mitchell: In his reply the Taoiseach said that a number of other issues were raised in the discussions. Did any of the US representatives raise the question of direct flights to Dublin?
The Taoiseach: No.
7. Mr. Quinn asked the Taoiseach if he has prepared any position papers in relation to Ireland's potential role in a common European security agreement which may arise from the proposed new Helsinki II Treaty; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Taoiseach: It is not the practice to say whether or not papers on any particular subject have or have not been prepared in or for my Department.
I should add that Ireland is strongly of the view that the summit of CSCE participating states to be held later this year should affirm the importance of continuing negotiations in the field of arms control and the building of security and confidence, with a view to achieving a lasting framework for stability in Europe.
Mr. Spring: While I take the Taoiseach's point that it is not customary to publish papers — I am not sure whether he said it is not customary to publish papers or prepare papers — I assume  some preparation is being done for the proposed new Helsinki II Treaty. May I ask the Taoiseach — and this relates to a remark by Deputy Barry — if this House will be afforded some opportunity of discussing such matters in a constructive manner, by that I mean having a debate? If we had a committee of foreign affairs obviously we would have the opportunity but, given that we do not, will the Taoiseach not agree that a debate on the very many wide matters which will be taken into account in relation to European security would be very desirable for Deputies on all sides of the House and perhaps for the Government?
The Taoiseach: I have no objection.
Mr. J. Bruton: In what respects does the Taoiseach consider the existing Helsinki II Treaty likely to be enlarged in any further treaty that might be negotiated and what fields does he expect might be covered?
The Taoiseach: It is a very broad question. One of the issues that immediately comes to mind is the question of disarmament, and particularly reduction of conventional forces in Europe. I think the general thrust of the conference would be towards the establishment of a new framework of relations, particularly something to which the eastern European countries could relate specifically for the purposes of their security and stability in the new situation that now obtains. These countries, of course, were all members of the Warsaw Pact, which is certainly undergoing considerable change and in that new situation there would be a widespread desire to put in place a framework of relationships which would provide a new era of stability and security.
Mr. Stagg: Arising from his reply, may I ask the Taoiseach if, as President of the EC Council, he has impressed on the other European leaders that Ireland is excluded from participating in any such common European security agreement, given our neutral status?
The Taoiseach: We have always participated in the CSCE process, which is a widespread framework involving the United States, Canada and all the countries of Europe, excluding Albania.
Mr. Stagg: Has the Taoiseach stressed that Ireland is a neutral country and, therefore, will be excluded from any military alliances arising from that?
The Taoiseach: Ca va sans dire.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): Some weeks ago in the House the Taoiseach said that the eastern boundaries of East Germany could only be varied under the Helsinki Agreement in accordance with international law or by mutual agreement, but in the light of Chancellor Kohl's recent statement does the Taoiseach intend to highlight this aspect of the Helsinki II Treaty during the course of his Presidency?
The Taoiseach: The best thing I can do is to refer the Deputy to one of the conclusions of the Strasbourg Summit which indicated support for the German people to achieve unity in the context of the Helsinki Agreement.
An Ceann Comhairle: Let us make some progress on other questions. I will allow a very brief supplementary. We are making very little progress today; half an hour has elapsed almost and we have disposed of only seven questions.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): When I raised this previously with the Taoiseach in this House some weeks ago he said that the Helsinki II Treaty specifically said that the eastern boundaries could only be changed in accordance with international law or by international agreement. Does the Taoiseach intend to highlight this aspect of the Helsinki II Treaty——
An Ceann Comhairle: We are having repetition.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East):——against the background of the Chancellor's remarks?
The Taoiseach: There is no need for me to highlight it because it was specifically affirmed in the conclusions of the Strasbourg Summit.
8. Mr. Quinn asked the Taoiseach if he is satisfied with the discussions which have taken place between the EC and EFTA, during the period of Ireland's Presidency of the EC, having regard to the closer co-operation and economic integration of the Community and EFTA within the framework of the proposed European Economic Space; and if he is satisfied that such an enlarged economic community could create the resources necessary to provide economic and social assistance to the newly emerging democracies in central and eastern Europe; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
9. Mr. Quinn asked the Taoiseach if he will outline the programme of meetings which he hopes to have with the Heads of Government of the EFTA countries during the course of Ireland's Presidency of the EC; the items which will be discussed; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Taoiseach: I propose to take Questions Nos. 8 and 9 together.
I will be having a number of meetings here over the coming weeks with Heads of Government of EFTA member states details of which will be announced in the normal way. The first of these will take place with Prime Minister Carlsson of Sweden, the current EFTA Presidency, and they will also include meetings with the Heads of Government of Finland, Norway and Austria. The main focus of these meetings will be the EC's relations with EFTA.
A joint meeting of EC and EFTA Foreign Ministers on 19 December agreed that formal negotiations on strengthening relations between the EC and EFTA  should begin as soon as possible. The Presidency has asked the Commission to submit proposals on a mandate for these negotiations to the April General Affairs Council.
The development of a new EC-EFTA relationship is all the more significant in the context of the radical changes in central and eastern Europe. The EC and EFTA are already engaged in collective assistance through the Group of 24 to the emerging democracies there and this assistance is likely to be enhanced through the broadening and deepening of EC-EFTA co-operation.
Mr. Spring: From the tenor of the Taoiseach's reply I take it that he is taking a positive attitude in relation to strengthening the Community's ties with the EFTA countries. Is he hopeful that in the course of the Irish Presidency there will be some conclusion to the discussions taking place between the Community and EFTA? Does he feel that the agreement which can be worked out between the Community and EFTA will be of major benefit in assisting the emerging democracies in eastern Europe?
The Taoiseach: The Irish Presidency is under a specific instruction from the last Strasbourg summit to proceed with these negotiations. That we are doing. It would be unrealistic to expect that they will be concluded during the Irish Presidency. There is a general wish that some new type of relationship should be developed between the Community and EFTA, particularly in view of the fact that the Community and the EFTA countries share so many common values and so many mutual interests.
Mr. J. Bruton: Does the Taoiseach favour the idea of a formal relationship between the European Community and EFTA as a whole, as distinct from bilateral arrangements with individual EFTA countries? Would he agree that if free trade without technical barriers within the EFTA-EC area is to be effective there needs to be a common European court  covering both areas to deal with disputes that may arise?
The Taoiseach: I do not want to pre-empt anything of that nature because the discussions are still at a preliminary stage. We are still awaiting the mandate from the Commission and the negotiations with the EFTA countries will proceed on the basis of that mandate. It is likely that there will be an attempt to establish the sort of relationship the Deputy mentioned, namely a relationship between the Community as such and the EFTA countries as such, rather than individual bilateral agreements. Whether that will be possible I do not know. The Deputy will realise that there are enormous difficulties in the way. It is a very complex situation, arising, apart from anything else, from the differences between the EFTA countries themselves.
Mr. Spring: Does the Taoiseach attribute any particular importance to the fact that Sweden and Austria are, like ourselves, neutral countries? In the course of negotiating a special relationship with the EFTA countries, would the Taoiseach consider it to be important in relation to our neutrality that these countries also be part?
The Taoiseach: The mandate will be for the development of a relationship between the EFTA countries as such and the Community, not on the basis of the application of any of these countries for membership of the Community. That is not likely to arise for some considerable time.
Mr. J. Bruton: Except Austria.
Mr. Barry: Does the Taoiseach appreciate that we have spent the last 35 minutes discussing matters that could be discussed more satisfactorily from the point of view of the Government and of individual Members at a foreign affairs committee?
The Taoiseach: I am being of great  service to the House in answering these questions.
Mr. Barry: I am not denying that but it might be of more service to the House to have a foreign affairs committee.
The Taoiseach: I am always anxious to be as forthcoming and informative as possible.
Mr. Barry: Then the Taoiseach will accept my motion tonight.
The Taoiseach: No, I will not accept the motion tonight.
10. Mr. McCartan asked the Taoiseach if he will consider the appointment of a Minister of State at the Department of Justice.
The Taoiseach: I have no such plans at present.
Mr. McCartan: Is the Taoiseach aware that since the appointment of a current Minister he has had on six occasions to rely upon Ministers and Ministers of State at other Departments to represent his interests in important debates in this House? Would the Taoiseach not accept that there is such a workload resting on the shoulders of the Minister for Justice both inside and outside the House that he could be ably assisted by the appointment of a Minister of State?
The Taoiseach: It is a question of distributing scarce resources.
Mr. J. Bruton: That is true.
The Taoiseach: We have the maximum number of Ministers of State. I know they are all fully, advantageously, effectively and successfully engaged——
Mr. McCartan: In county councils elsewhere.
The Taoiseach: ——in discharging their  existing portfolios. I would be very reluctant to remove one of them from an existing portfolio to the Department of Justice, particularly in view of the excellent, really fantastic job the Minister for Justice is doing.
Mr. McCartan: Is the Taoiseach aware that on 11 occasions the Minister for Justice has been unable to attend important debates at important stages of legislation in this House, leaving all of the spokespersons in the Opposition quite frustrated? I am not being mischievous. I am asking if the Taoiseach can explain why the Minister in the first instance was given two portfolios without a Minister of State in either Department to assist him.
An Ceann Comhairle: This is a very long question. Let us have brevity.
Mr. J. Bruton: The Deputy's party will be familiar with double jobbing.
Mr. McCartan: Would the Taoiseach reflect on the need which is emerging from the record of the House for the appointment of a Minister of State or the rearranging of portfolios to assist in a very important area of work?
The Taoiseach: I have nothing further to add.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: The Taoiseach is being flippant. Does he not accept that it was utter folly on his part to combine the portfolios of Justice and Communications so that effectively we have a part-time Minister for Justice? The effects are all around us. The Legal Aid Board have been virtually closed down. The Garda Síochána Complaints Board have closed their doors and the Land Registry are in chaos.
An Ceann Comhairle: Let us not attempt to debate this matter now. It is not in order.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Would the Taoiseach not accept that it was utter folly on his  part to leave us in the situation where we have a part-time Minister for Justice?
The Taoiseach: This will come as a surprise to the Deputy, no, I would not agree.
Mr. J. Bruton: The results indicate otherwise.
11. Mr. Noonan (Limerick East) asked the Taoiseach if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the new Civic Centre which has been completed in Limerick incorporates a museum; to the fact that the museum is particularly spacious and well designed; if he will arrange to transfer a portion of the national collection from the National Museum in Dublin to the new Limerick Museum; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Taoiseach: The Director of the National Museum and an official of my Department visited the centre on 27 January last and met with senior officials of Limerick Corporation. In principle, the decentralisation of parts of the national collection is accepted by the National Museum but the suitability of the space provided and the types of artefacts which can be safely displayed there are matters that have to be fully considered. This is being done.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): I thank the Taoiseach for his reply. Have arrangements been made for on-going discussions arising out of the meeting on 27 January?
The Taoiseach: Yes, they are taking place.
12. Mr. Quinn asked the Taoiseach if he is satisfied with the progress being made in preparation for the 1991 Dublin European City of Culture project; if he has received an interim report on the proposed activities for 1991; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Taoiseach: I am satisfied with progress being made to date in preparation for the celebration in 1991 of Dublin's tenure as European City of Culture.
As I advised the House some time ago, I have given a mandate to the Dublin Promotions Organisation Limited to plan and organise an appropriate cultural programme in Dublin for 1991.
The company have already appointed a chief executive, a general administrator, an information officer and a finance officer. It is hoped to appoint a project officer and a sponsorship officer before the end of this month. Additional staff will be employed on a temporary basis as required.
The project committee of the DPOL is at present evaluating a very large number of proposals which have been put forward from various sources. DPOL will itself also initiate a number of projects, many of which, it is hoped, will be sponsored privately.
I have been kept appraised of developments by the chief executive of DPOL and by my representatives on the board. I understand that a tentative outline of the 1991 programme will be given early next month at a press conference which is being organised by DPOL.
I know that all sides of the House will join with me in conveying our best wishes to DPOL and to all associated with the preparations for this major cultural and social event.
Mr. Spring: I am sure the Taoiseach is aware that a large amount of money has been made available in Glasgow this year for the expenditure on Glasgow as European City of Culture and that in Berlin some years ago large sums of public money were spent in carrying out improvements to the city. In relation to the proposals which the Taoiseach has said will be brought forward next month, what is the budget provided for the committee to spend in relation to preparing Dublin as the European City of Culture?
The Taoiseach: So far, the amount is £250,000, but that is not by any means the final amount. It is difficult to estimate what the exact cost will be because we hope that a number of the major events will be privately sponsored. The Deputy should not anticipate that we will be in a position to spend anything like what was spent in Glasgow and Berlin but, I hope that within the limited resources we can make available, the job will be well done.
Mr. Spring: If the Taoiseach says that a sum of £250,000 is to be the amount provided from public moneys, given the array of executives and others mentioned as appointees that amount of money will hardly cover them for 12 months. Will the Taoiseach agree that that amount of money is derisory in relation to an attempt to have Dublin as a European City for Culture in 1991? Perhaps the Taoiseach will take this opportunity to intimate that a reasonable sum will be made available from public funds for this project?
The Taoiseach: I assure the Deputy we will do what we can to make sure that what is proposed will be adequately funded.
Mr. J. Bruton: Is the Taoiseach aware that this designation of Dublin as a city of culture is something that is taking place under the aegis of the Council of Europe, and is he aware that the UK authorities have arranged for a special meeting of the Council of Europe to take place in Glasgow this year to mark the fact that Glasgow has that designation? Has the Taoiseach, as yet, considered whether such a similar arrangement should be made in Dublin?
The Taoiseach: No, I have not, but I will take the Deputy's suggestion into consideration.
Proinsias De Rossa: Would the Taoiseach agree that it is not sufficient simply to provide funding for a number of events during 1991 and does he not see a contradiction in designating Dublin as the  European City of Culture in 1991 while, at the same time, local authorities are being forced through lack of finance to curtail the library services in Dublin, which surely are a major aspect of the culture of Dublin city?
An Ceann Comhairle: It is a separate matter.
The Taoiseach: I am aware that if I were to listen to all of the demands made in this House, we would revert back to the old, near bankruptcy situation from which this Government rescued the country.
Mr. J. Bruton: Into which you and your colleagues plunged this country.
The Taoiseach: I do not suppose that a day passes when some Deputy or group of Deputies do not demand additional expenditure in some area.
A Deputy: You were good at that yourself.
Mr. J. Bruton: You even gave out tooth brushes.
The Taoiseach: This Government, in regard to this matter, will proceed with prudence and discretion and we will do the best we can with the limited amount of resources we can make available. That is the sensible way to proceed.
An Ceann Comhairle: Question No. 13, please.
The Taoiseach: The Workers' Party would bankrupt the country tomorrow morning should they even come within sight of office but, thank God, they never will.
An Ceann Comhairle: Question No. 13 has been called.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: They got good example from yourself.
13. Mr. Allen asked the Taoiseach if he has any proposals to visit Libya before June 1990 in his capacity as President of the EC; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The Taoiseach: I have no such plans.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): On a point of order, before the Taoiseach leaves the House, Question No. 5 was put down in my name for tomorrow. I was 'phoned yesterday by an official of the Taoiseach's Department who asked me to bring it forward to today to facilitate the Taoiseach. I did not want to mix a local issue with an international issue but I facilitated the Taoiseach. However, the Taoiseach came into the House then and made no reference to my question——
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy had ample opportunity to deal with that matter. We disposed of that question——
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): I am looking for your protection.
An Ceann Comhairle: ——and the Deputy's view was heard.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): I am looking for your protection.
An Ceann Comhairle: This is disorderly.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): On a point of order——
An Ceann Comhairle: It is disorderly. It is not a point of order.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): It is.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy's question was on the Order Paper. It was disposed of and the Deputy was permitted to ask some supplementaries. That is as much as we can do at Question Time.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): On a point of order, it is part of your responsibility——
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy will not lecture the Chair.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): I was grossly misled by the Taoiseach's Department and then abused by the Taoiseach in the House.
A Deputy: Hear, hear.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): My question was not answered in the reply. I was asked specifically——
An Ceann Comhairle: I can only say, Deputy, that the question came before the House and it was answered and the Deputy had some supplementaries.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): I was asked specifically by the Taoiseach's Department——
An Ceann Comhairle: We may not argue about it now, Deputy Noonan.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East):——to facilitate the Taoiseach by bringing forward the question and I was told the Taoiseach would deal with it in his reply.
An Ceann Comhairle: Question No. 14 to the Minister for Education.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): I want to give the Chair notice that I intend to raise this at the Committee on Procedure and Privileges through our representative.
An Ceann Comhairle: That is a matter for the Deputy and his party. That is the Deputy's privilege.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): I would have hoped, a Cheann Comhairle, that the Chair would have protected my interests without my having to go to the Committee on Procedure and Privileges.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair protected the Deputy's interests today and that is quite evident to this House and to this nation.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): No, Sir, it is not.
An Ceann Comhairle: Question No. 14. Questions nominated for priority have only 15 minutes as provided in Standing Orders. I seek the co-operation of Members concerned to dispose of the five priority questions before us.
14. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Education if any vocational education committee are obtaining grant aid directly from the EC rather than through her Department for educational or training purposes; if so, if she will give details of same; the arrangements for the auditing of the accounts for the expenditure of such moneys; if the expenditure of such moneys is covered by the terms of a general scheme prepared by the committee in question under section 31 of the Vocational Education Act, 1930, and approved by her; if the receipts from the EC are paid into the vocational education fund of the committee and disbursed by the committee in accordance with section 48 (4) and section 48 (5) of the Vocational Education Act, 1930, which includes a provision for ministerial approval; and if she has made provision in regulations under section 54 of the said Act to authorise visits to the European Commission for the purpose of making arrangements for the grant aid in question.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): There is a number of EC programmes which aid educational institutions and other bodies where my Department is not the co-ordinating  agency. In some instances, the aid is channelled through another national agency for example, the Office of Science and Technology and Eolas for the technology development programmes. In other cases, the aid comes directly from the European Commission to the particular programme provider. All funds expended by the VECs are subject to audit by the Local Government Auditor. In addition, expenditure on EC-aided programmes is subject to scrutiny by the European Court of Auditors.
Section 31 of the Vocational Education Act is an enabling clause which allows VECs to submit to the Minister a general scheme setting out policy for technical and continuing education and the methods by which this policy will be delivered. The Act specifies that this may be done “from time to time” and there is no stipulation that this is an annual requirement.
Under section 44 of the Act all VECs submit for approval an annual financial scheme called a VI, setting out details of proposed expenditure and expected receipts. In addition, at the end of each year, a statement of actual expenditure and income is submitted in a document V15. These documents include details of activities and expenditure for which EC aid is received. However, the Deputy will appreciate that they are summary documents only, and the data is not always disaggregated to a level where the information required by the Deputy becomes immediately apparent.
With regard to section 54, it is open to VEC officials to apply to my Department for approval for visits abroad. I am aware, however, that VEC officials travel to the European Commission from time to time for official meetings to discuss the implementation arrangements of approved programmes.
Mr. J. Bruton: Will the Minister say which vocational education committees are receiving money directly from the European Community and for what purpose, and if she is satisfied and has the means of satisfying herself that the  money is actually being applied for the purposes approved?
Mrs. O'Rourke: We are in the process of establishing that information from various vocational education committees but from the information available since the question came to hand, we are satisfied that the money obtained is being used for the purposes for which it was required.
Mr. J. Bruton: How can the Minister be satisfied that the money is being used for the purpose for which it is designated if she does not even know which vocational education committees are getting money directly from Brussels?
Mrs. O'Rourke: I said I was satisfied as a result of the information already supplied to me. The remainder of the information will be supplied to the Deputy as it comes to hand. We are satisfied within the Department that the moneys obtained are being used for the purposes for which they have been obtained.
Mr. J. Bruton: Has the Minister obtained such information from Westmeath vocational education committee? Will she indicate whether she proposes to take steps to draw the attention of all vocational education committees to the fact that they may look for aid directly from Brussels in view of the fact that it appears only some committees have been availing of this privilege?
Mrs. O'Rourke: It is not a privilege, it is there for anyone who wishes to obtain it. Various VECs have undertaken measures in regard to applications, in particular the PETRA programme of which many VECs are availing. In that respect many VECs are acting as developmental agencies, they are obtaining information about what is available and what programmes can be funded.
Deputy J. Bruton rose.
An Ceann Comhairle: Question No. 15.
Mr. J. Bruton: Has the Minister——
An Ceann Comhairle: If we dwell on each question as long as we have dwelt on this one we will not be able to dispose of the other four questions.
Mr. J. Bruton: Will the Minister comment on the money available for programmes?
Mr. O'Rourke: We have obtained money for Positive Action for Women, Caring in the Community and various seminars related to them. There is also a PETRA programme and the CEO of Galway is the co-ordinator. I will supply a list of these programmes to the Deputy.
Mr. J. Bruton: That is fine.
Mrs. O'Rourke: Various VECs have sought such aid and have been successful.
Mr. J. Bruton: The Minister will supply me with a tabulated statement?
Mrs. O'Rourke: I am sure that the Deputy — in line with his free market enterprise and his espousal of entrepreneurial activities — approves of action such as this.
Mr. J. Bruton: I am just trying to get information.
15. Mr. O'Shea asked the Minister for Education if she will give details of the programme of enhancement which she has announced for the country's regional technical colleges; if colleges will be permitted to offer a wider range of degree courses; the proposals she has under the £72.5 million development programme to ensure that students who, because of socio-economic/geographical factors, are at present unable to avail of university degree courses will be accommodated; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Mrs. O'Rourke: My Department's policy in relation to degree level courses in VEC colleges is that provision for such courses should be made only in exceptional circumstances. Following a Government decision, my Department established a committee in February 1988 to examine third level courses leading to awards by the NCEA and other bodies outside the universities. The committee produced a report in September 1989 and it has been circulated to interested parties for their observations. I note that the report endorses the present policy in relation to degree courses in VEC colleges and recommended that the Department and the NCEA should establish parameters for what should constitute exceptional circumstances in the approval of new degree programmes. I will consider this matter further when the views of the interested parties have been examined.
The geographical spread of RTCs facilitates a take-up of third level places by students who might not have been in a position to take up a university place. This will, I hope, be the case in Tallaght also. It should be noted that the recent expansion in the ESF funding in the colleges sector means that at this stage the vast majority of students in the colleges sector do not pay fees and also qualify for a maintenance allowance. The £72.5 million capital programme which I recently announced relates to developments in the HEA and VEC sectors of third level education.
The projects in the VEC sector included in the programme are as follows: Regional Technical College, Tallaght — building of a new college; Bishop Street College, Dublin (DIT) — first phase of new building which is to house the College of Commerce and the College of Marketing and Design; College of Catering, Cathal Brugha Street (DIT) — new accommodation to upgrade the facilities for hotel catering, chef training, food processing (science) and tourism; Capital Equipment — to upgrade the technology  in third level colleges; and Regional Technical Colleges — programme of enhancement with particular emphasis on computer science/ technology, library, hotel training, staff and lecture facilities.
Discussions are at present taking place between my Department and the college authorities regarding the enhancement programme in regional technical colleges. Accordingly, I am not in a position to give more detailed information on the programme at this stage.
Mr. O'Shea: The Minister stated that provision for degree level courses would be made only in exceptional circumstances. A recent decision of the Minister's has placed a university in four of the five county boroughs. There is a university in Limerick and three in Dublin. Waterford is the capital of the south-eastern region but a child in that area has half the chance of one in Cork city or county of obtaining a university degree. Will the Minister agree that these are gravely exceptional circumstances and that she should look very favourably on Waterford RTC in terms of increasing the degree provision?
Mrs. O'Rourke: Representations have been made to me from Deputy O'Shea, Deputy Kenneally and many others with regard to the provision of further degree courses in Waterford RTC. I do not consider a student in Waterford is discriminated against because they have a very fine regional technical college which provides many courses. I am aware of the concern expressed by Deputies and Senators from Waterford about a particular degree course which is needed in the RTC. I am disposed to look at Waterford to see what it offers and what it might offer.
16. Tomás Mac Giolla asked the Minister for Education when she proposes to correct the inequity whereby some of our post-primary schools have the advantage of a six year cycle while others are confined to a five year cycle.
81. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Education her views on whether the administration of the transition year option is carried out on an equal basis in schools around the country; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that in some schools students have the option of studying over a six year period whereas in other schools students have no option but to take the leaving certificate after five years; her views on whether this is fair; and whether the option of taking six years to the leaving certificate should be available to all students in all schools.
211. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Education if she intends to introduce a six year cycle in secondary schools.
236. Mr. J. Mitchell asked the Minister for Education if she has any plans to extend the cycle in community schools from five years to six years.
Mrs. O'Rourke: I propose to take Questions Nos. 16, 81, 211 and 236 together.
A significant number of schools already provide a second-level programme extending over six years through the operation of transition year programmes, vocational preparation and training courses at post-intermediate and/or post-leaving certificate level and repeat leaving certificate classes.
Over 400 post-primary schools offer vocational preparation and training courses at post-intermediate and/or post-leaving certificate level. A further 200 either offer or have the option of offering transition year programmes. About 7,000 students repeat the leaving certificate each year representing a significant number of schools and, in addition, some 2,000 students repeat other standards in post-primary schools for a variety of reasons.
I am currently examining the total provision of this nature in second level  schools so as to allow further consideration to be given to the question of the varied range of a six year cycle option.
Tomás Mac Giolla: Am I to take it from the Minister's reply that she is considering the inequity of the present position where some schools have a five year cycle and others have a six year cycle? There is gross inequity in education in this area. The Minister said she was considering having a six year or a five year cycle in all schools. However, a five year cycle does not exist in the rest of Europe and I wonder if the Minister recognises the inequity between the six year cycle and the five year cycle? Why do some schools have a six-year cycle while others are confined to a five-year cycle?
Mrs. O'Rourke: The rest of Europe does not go to school proper at age four. We make full provision for that in this country. With regard to the question which the Deputy put to me regarding the number of schools, as I have said, there are approximately 800 second level schools of which 600 are at present offering a six year cycle. Many schools have opted to have a vocational preparation and training year sometimes two years. That is their preferred option. Others have opted for a transition year programme and others are coming up with varied ideas. They want a definitive repeat leaving certificate fully recognised and their school recognised as one which offers that. As I said, 600 out of 800 second level schools have at present, in one way or another, a six year and sometimes a seven year programme. In the total provision of this nature, which has grown enormously over the last few years, we are looking at what can be done to make it coherent, with schools providing a choice.
Tomás Mac Giolla: Could I ask the Minister——
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Mac Giolla, I appeal for brevity.
Tomás Mac Giolla: Is the Minister saying that if a school wants a six year cycle they can have it? Is that the procedure she is aiming at?
Mrs. O'Rourke: There is a great debate about this matter because many schools now see that the vocational preparation and training programmes are suited to their school, their pupil intake or the paths the pupils wish to take when they leave school, and they are considering whether this is what they wish to pursue. As regards providing differing types of six year programmes, we are looking at what we offer now and what can be offered.
An Ceann Comhairle: Question No. 17, Deputy John Bruton.
Mr. Cotter: May I comment on this question?
An Ceann Comhairle: I am sorry, I cannot entertain the Deputy. This is Priority Question Time and supplementaries are confined to the Deputies who put down the questions nominated for priority.
Mr. Cotter: That is a shame.
Mr. McCartan: On a point of order, the time for priority questions has long passed.
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy McCartan, you should leave these matters to the Chair. I am very conscious of these matters and I need no assistance from you.
Mr. McCartan: I am leaving it entirely to you.
An Ceann Comhairle: Leave it to me. I have called Question No. 17.
Mr. McCartan: On a point of order——
An Ceann Comhairle: Please, Deputy McCartan, I resent this interference. It  is impossible for the Chair to end matters on the exact time. I am permitting a little discretion in the matter.
Mr. McCartan: Under Standing Orders there is no discretion.
An Ceann Comhairle: Is there not?
Mr. McCartan: I would have thought not.
An Ceann Comhairle: I have often given the Deputy a lot of discretion.
Mr. McCartan: I appreciate fully the point you are making but I want to make a response. The Workers' Party have been very seriously injured in the issue of priority questions and for that reason we feel that——
An Ceann Comhairle: The Chair does its best to be impartial in these matters. The Deputy is not helping me by interfering in the Chair's discretion in this matter.
17. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Education if she will make a decision on the provision of the regional technical college projects which were postponed pending the report of the inter-departmental committee on third level education.
Mrs. O'Rourke: The Deputy will be aware that my Department have approved the provision of a regional technical college for Tallaght. Work on this project will commence soon and the target date for opening the college is 1991-92. We hope some students can be taken in 1991.
The findings in the report by Dr. Patrick Clancy, “Who Goes to College”, shows that Dublin has the lowest rate of admission to third level colleges. This, coupled with the social and demographic factors in Tallaght, enabled the Government to put forward the Tallaght RTC  as one of the five varied flagship projects to be considered for funding under the Government's Structural Funds submission to Brussels.
Mr. J. Bruton: Is the Minister aware that she established the inter-departmental committee on third level education in April 1988 and at that time indicated that a number of third level projects, including regional colleges for Castlebar, Thurles and Blanchardstown, which is in the Dublin area, had been postponed because that committee had not yet reported? Is the Minister further aware that she said last October she expected to receive that report “in the near future”? Has she received the report? If so, what decision has she taken on it and when can we expect to see the work start on the regional colleges in Castlebar, Thurles and Blanchardstown, and on the other third level projects which were held up by the appointment of this committee? The college in Dún Laoghaire is another project which has been held up.
Mrs. O'Rourke: Deputy Bruton has another question down whether I have received the report and he will be getting a reply to that this afternoon, but I would be very pleased to answer him.
Mr. J. Bruton: That question has been disallowed.
Mrs. O'Rourke: I have not yet received the report. It is neither on my desk nor on my secretary's desk lest somebody state on the radio that it is on a shelf gathering dust.
Tomás Mac Giolla: The Minister is delighted.
Mrs. O'Rourke: The Deputy asked what is going to happen all of the colleges to which he referred in the question, those in Castlebar, Thurles, Blanchardstown and Dún Laoghaire. I would refer Deputy Bruton to column 490 of the Official Report of 19 July 1989 in which he said: “The next question I would  like to put is why do we need an extra five or six regional technical colleges for what is a temporary bulge that will only last until the end of the century”.
Mr. J. Bruton: Would the Minister agree that in regard to the columns she quoted——
An Ceann Comhairle: The time available for Priority Questions is exhausted and I am proceeding now to other questions.
Mr. J. Bruton: ——I made alternative suggestions as to how those places might be provided, and since those suggestions were not taken up, it is necessary to proceed with the colleges?
An Ceann Comhairle: Question No. 19, please.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Delaying tactics.
An Ceann Comhairle: Question No. 19, Deputy Jim O'Keeffe's question.
Mrs. O'Rourke: Sorry, there is another Priority Question.
An Ceann Comhairle: The time for dealing with Priority Questions is exhausted.
Mr. McCartan: Long exhausted.
19. Mr. J. O'Keeffe asked the Minister for Education whether she will alter the terms of the scheme of grants for third level education in order that eligibility is based on net income.
Mrs. O'Rourke: For a candidate to be eligible for the award of a grant the reckonable income of the candidate and of the candidate's parents or guardians shall be within the limits set out from time to time in the higher education grants schemes. For the purpose of the scheme the term “reckonable income” means gross income from all sources, less any sum paid by way of contribution to a superannuation fund, and excluding also children's allowances under the Social  Welfare Acts, holiday earnings of the candidate and payments under the family income supplement scheme.
I have no plans at present to alter the present arrangements whereby eligibility is assessed on the basis of gross income. However, as the Deputy knows, a tapering structure which has regard to the number of dependent children has also been built into the income limits and applicants who fail to secure eligibility for full grant may be entitled to partial grants. I think that these arrangements are not unreasonable.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Would the Minister concede that there is an element of unfairness, particularly for PAYE workers on relatively low incomes, in having their eligibility tested on the basis of gross income, which the Minister accepts they do not get, they only get net income? Would the Minister not accept that anomalies have arisen in the system because that is the way it is administered and it would be fairer to have the assessment based on net income?
Mrs. O'Rourke: Whatever about it being fairer, as the Deputy knows eligibility for various benefits within the State is based on gross income and not on net income. As I said, whatever about it being fairer and however we might all wish to do what the Deputy suggests, it would be vastly more expensive, as the Deputy must realise. I would like to add to that because one question is frequently asked in this regard. Due to the increase in the Social Fund, which came into effect in the academic year 1989-90, between 80 per cent and 90 per cent of students in all VEC third level colleges have full fees paid, and indeed many are on maintenance grants. This is a great change and is due to the work over the years by various Ministers and through the co-operation of the European Community. This year for the first time post-graduate students in various universities are having one year diploma courses funded related to specific disciplines within the college.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Would the Minister  accept that we should always try to inject a greater degree of justice and equity into our systems? I appreciate the Minister did not introduce this scheme, but would she accept that because other schemes are based on gross income it might suggest that there is unfairness in those schemes also? Will the Minister agree that it would lead to a fairer system to have it based on net income? Will the Minister consider changing to such a system?
Mrs. O'Rourke: At the moment that is not possible. I am so very pleased that we were able to hugely increase the number of third level students who pay no fees and to hugely increase the number of third level students who receive either full or partial maintenance grants in third level institutions.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: I am not blaming the Minister entirely but she should consider making a change.
Mr. O'Rourke: The Deputy should look at what we are doing.
Tomás Mac Giolla: Is the Minister aware that the Clancy report pointed out that 80 per cent of students from Roscommon, as an example, were grant-aided while less than 40 per cent of students from the Dublin area were grant-aided? Will the Minister agree that that indicates an inequity in the grant system, particularly amongst PAYE workers? The income of others is not known and, therefore, they must declare an income but I should like to know if the Minister can get over that problem.
Mrs. O'Rourke: The Clancy report reviewed progress up to 1986 and at the end of that year the amount of ESF funding was more limited than the amount available now. Practically every student in a third level college is funded and by next September they will all be funded. With regard to entry to the university sector, I should like to tell the Deputy that county councils and the VECs who  administer the scheme as sub-agents of the Department have over the last number of years adopted a very rigorous scrutinising policy with regard to the entitlements and the eligibility of people who apply for such grants. I am aware that many Deputies representing farming communities, some of whom sit opposite, have made strong representations for students in their constituencies who have been deemed not eligible.
Mr. Cotter: Does the Minister find it strange that income figures agreed with the inspectors of taxes are not accepted by those who decide whether a person is entitled to a grant or not? Is it a case that a question mark is being put over the inspectors of taxes or is the system being used in order to try to prevent people who are justly entitled to the grants not getting them?
Mrs. O'Rourke: I answered that point in response to a question raised by Deputy Mac Giolla. I would not dream of questioning inspectors of taxes. That is not my job but it is my job to see that the sub-agents who administer the scheme on behalf of the Department of Education adopt a very rigorous scrutinising policy. I am bearing in mind that they know the local scene very well and are sometimes in receipt of information which the Department of Education would not be able to obtain.
Mr. Cotter: Is the Minister suggesting that inspectors of taxes are not competent to deal with questions regarding income?
Mrs. O'Rourke: I would not dream of questioning any inspector of taxes in regard to that.
Mr. Browne: (Carlow-Kilkenny): The Minister referred to Members opposite who made pleas on behalf of constituents. Will she agree that it is absurd that her Department have not made a decision on two appeals from Carlow, despite the promise contained in response to a parliamentary question one month ago? Two-thirds of the school year has gone  and the Minister has not made a decision on appeals from Carlow.
An Ceann Comhairle: That is a separate matter.
Mrs. O'Rourke: I do not have the details of the appeals by the Carlow applicants with me but I will communicate with the Deputy on the matter.
Mr. O'Shea: Will the Minister agree that in relation to grants for degree courses the present system, in terms of people who are marginally over the income limit for grants, discriminates against those who live in the university cities? Will the Minister apply herself to that inequity?
Mrs. O'Rourke: In any scheme of eligibility the cut-off point always gives rise to difficulties for those who are just above that cut-off point. It is quite natural that they should feel that they have been discriminated against. However, we must ask ourselves where we should have the cut-off point. I accept that the Deputy is concerned about the matter and I should like to remind him that the scheme is always under review.
Mr. J. Higgins: Will the Minister agree that in cases where the head of the household has had to emigrate and is domiciled in London, some special provision should be made? Will the Minister accept that a more favourable threshold should be introduced for such families who are special cases?
Mrs. O'Rourke: If the Deputy has a case in mind, I will be glad to look at it.
Mr. J. Higgins: I have thousands of them.
Mr. Creed: The Minister may take some solace from the increase in the number availing of the present grant scheme but its failure is illustrated by the small number attending third level institutions from working-class backgrounds. Will the Minister agree that it  is time she overhauled the entire system which is riddled with anomalies? There is a four honours requirement to benefit from grants to university while the standard educational requirement for entry is two honours. There are many other anomalies in the scheme. Amended liability statements are not accepted for PAYE workers and in their case, the P.60 is the determining document. However, for the self-employed the sale of assets is taken into account and that is not the position in other cases.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy has made his point.
Mr. Creed: There are many anomalies and the scheme does not serve the interests of schools anxious to pursue higher education.
Mrs. O'Rourke: I am glad to be able to tell the Deputy, and the House, that the scheme is being reviewed and many of the points raised today are under discussion.
An Ceann Comhairle: We now come to deal with Private Notice Questions.
Mr. Barry: I tabled a Private Notice Question to the Taoiseach regarding the judgement handed down by the Supreme Court last week on the Anglo-Irish Agreement and I had hoped he would take an early opportunity to say that the country, and the Government, are only interested in the unification of the country by peaceful means and with the consent of a majority but the Chair ruled that out of order.
An Ceann Comhairle: I have conveyed my decision to the Deputy in connection with that matter.
Mr. Barry: I consider this matter as important and urgent and the Taoiseach should, as quickly as possible, make such a statement. Could I have his agreement to do that?
An Ceann Comhairle: That is not in order now.
Mr. Barry: Will the Taoiseach give an answer in the House or outside, if necessary?
An Ceann Comhairle: I have received Private Notice Questions from Deputies Dick Spring, Nora Owen and Peter Barry concerning the urgent need to supply food to the starving people of Ethiopia. I will call the Deputies in the order in which they submitted their questions to my office.
Mr. Spring: asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if, in view of the imminence of a devastating tragedy in Ethiopia, he will take steps in his capacity as President of the Council of Ministers to ensure a co-ordinated response by the EC, both in terms of aid and of diplomatic effort to ensure that the continuing civil war does not prevent a new aid programme from getting through.
Mrs. Owen: asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the progress he is making to adopt an open road policy in order that much needed food supplies can reach the starving and dying people of Tigray and Eritrea in Ethiopia.
Mr. Barry: asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if, in view of the latest reports of starvation in Ethiopia, he will make immediate provision at national or European level to send supplies of food and medicine to that country.
The Taoiseach (for the Minister for Foreign Affairs): A Cheann Comhairle, I propose to answer these Private Notice Question together.
I am glad to be given an opportunity to address what is clearly a most serious situation in terms of the potential cost in human lives. The Community and its member states are more than conscious  of the double threat to the ordinary people of Ethiopia posed by the drought situation and the ongoing internal conflict in that country.
The Twelve have been making every effort, and are continuing to do so, to ensure that food and other emergency supplies reach those in need. The Twelve have also sought at diplomatic level to bring pressure to bear on all parties to ensure conditions for the safe passage of humanitarian aid to the stricken populations.
As far back as last December, the European Council in Strasbourg called on all parties concerned in Ethiopia, in collaboration with the agencies of the United Nations and other international relief organisations, to facilitate the delivery and distribution of humanitarian assistance and emergency aid in the afflicted areas. A direct approach was also made to the Ethiopian Government to urge it to allow the free flow of aid to those in need.
The Commission of the European Communities, as well as the World Food Programme of the United Nations, coordinates continuously with other donors both within and outside the Community. There is also a regular exchange of information by telex and at meetings of the EEC Food Aid Committee. The Commission delegation in Addis Ababa has regular discussions with the authorities, non-governmental organisations and others in efforts to ensure availability of, and access to, food for the whole population. At present, under the EC's emergency aid schemes, there are plans to deliver 200,000 tonnes of food aid, valued at 50 million ECU. An additional amount of approximately 11 million ECU has been allocated for medical supplies and storage.
The Irish Government have raised the situation in Ethiopia both in the OECD and EC fora on a number of recent occasions.
The most immediate problem facing donors is the logistical difficulty of supplying quantities of food already available or soon to be delivered to areas  controlled by rebel forces. The Government's diplomatic contacts have included discussion with the Soviet Union with a view to securing the agreement of the Ethiopian authorities to the opening of the access routes to rebel held territory in northern Ethiopia.
The basic and most immediate problem, as I have outlined, is not one of co-ordination but of finding access for quantities of food which are already available or soon to be delivered. In the coming months, of course, and assuming this question can be resolved, there will be a need for new supplies of food aid.
As Presidency of the Council the Government intend to ensure that the developing situation continues to be very closely watched so that whatever action is necessary on our part can be taken quickly and effectively.
The Ethiopian Government concluded an agreement in January with the co-ordinating relief agency, the Joint Relief Partnership, to open access routes to rebel-held territories, in particular a corridor south from the port of Massawa into Eritrea and Tigray. This corridor did not come into operation due to the resumption at the beginning of February of fighting by the Eritrean People's Liberation Front in and around Massawa. As Deputies will recall, the fighting interfered with a delivery of emergency supplies from Ireland for the people of Eritrea and Tigray.
Foreign Minister of the Twelve, in a strong statement after their meeting in Dublin on 20 February, expressed their deep concern at this resumption in military confrontations at a time when internationally supported peace efforts were under way and when measures to provide humanitarian assistance were well advanced. They furthermore renewed their call of January last for a cessation of attacks on shipping off the coast of Ethiopia.
Foreign Ministers on that occasion also called for a cessation of hostilities and urged all the parties most strongly to resume their efforts for peace and national reconciliation. I renew that call most vigorously here today.
Mr. Spring: While I thank the Taoiseach for that comprehensive but unfortunately stark reply in relation to the suffering in Ethiopia, I would ask him, in view of the continuing huge loss of life there which now looks certain to continue over the winter months, and also because of the difficulties of getting supplies through to the areas most severely affected, if he now considers it timely for a major diplomatic initiative to resolve this problem? We are grateful for the efforts made in recent months by the Government and other EC governments but would the Taoiseach not accept that, at this stage, unless a major diplomatic initiative is taken by the major world leaders, the loss of life will continue over the winter months?
The Taoiseach: As the Deputy is aware, it is a heart-breaking situation. Despite all the efforts which have been made so far, particularly by the Twelve, it is intractable and not near a solution. I would like to assure the Deputy that a number of specific initiatives are being explored at the moment. I do not disagree with the importance of a diplomatic initiative but I think it is really a question of practical access. Food is available, medical aid supplies are ready and it is now a question of trying to open up practical means of access. That is being considered very actively under a number of different headings.
Mrs. Owen: I would like to thank the Taoiseach for his reply but unfortunately it has not gone much further than the two previous replies I received, on 28 November 1989 and on 7 February about this issue. I want to join with Deputy Spring to ask the Taoiseach to consider going and approaching the Ethiopian Government, as the President of the EC, to take a major initiative because I believe the talks so far have not brought about the results he is looking for. In the short term can he give an assurance to this House that he will make extra assistance available immediately to RST, the Relief Society of Tigray, and to ERA — the Eritrean Relief Association — to enable  them to purchase trucks and provide more food for the one small area where access is available, through Sudan and to provide assistance and support for the internal purchase of food, as I understand there are some surplus food supplies in the north western corner of Ethiopia, so that food can be brought immediately to the areas most in need of it? Can the Taoiseach assure us, too, that he will put extreme pressure on the Government of Ethiopia to bring about a ceasefire while this problem survives and exists?
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy is embarking on something that is in the range of a speech.
Mrs. Owen: These are all questions.
An Ceann Comhairle: The questions are too long.
Mrs. Owen: Finally, I am asking that pressure be put on the USSR and on Israel to cease supplying arms to the Ethiopian Government and thereby one would hopefully, cut off the supply of arms and help to bring about the end of the war which clearly is the reason so many people are now at the point of death——
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy has made her point.
Mr. Owen: ——and are about to dig their own graves while they wait for death.
The Taoiseach: If I thought for one moment that a visit by myself personally would be of any assistance or would save even one life I would not hesitate to undertake such a visit but I am not sure that it would.
Mrs. Owen: The Taoiseach is a very powerful man.
The Taoiseach: I will certainly consider the suggestion and explore it but I will  also look into all the other various proposals the Deputy has put forward though what she is proposing is already being considered and investigated. The one redeeming feature at the moment is that there is a number of initiatives or possibilities being explored for airlifts but whether these will produce anything I am not sure.
Mrs. Owen: But without a cease-fire——
The Taoiseach: We have brought all the pressure we can to bear for a cessation of hostilities.
Mr. Barry: I agree with everything that Deputy Owen and Deputy Spring have said but I would like to ask the Taoiseach if, as President of the European Council he would use his influence with other countries as well who have a strong influence with the Ethiopian Government, both Africa and Russia in particular, to bring about a ceasefire because that is the key to getting the food into Ethiopia and it is important that all his efforts be in that direction.
The Taoiseach: As Deputies who are interested and who are studying the situation know, one of the tragic disappointments was that the Port Massawa access route was closed by a renewal of hostilities so that apart from the natural disaster aspect, the cessation of hostilities should be the primary objective of all our efforts. I want to assure Deputies that everything possible will be done and that particularly the various suggestions which have been made will be followed up.
An Ceann Comhairle: That disposes of questions for today.
The Taoiseach: It is proposed to take Nos. 8 and 9. It is also proposed that business shall be interrupted at 10.30  p.m. today. Private Members' Business shall be No. 24, motion 51.
An Ceann Comhairle: May I ask if the proposal for the late sitting for today is agreed?
Mr. J. Bruton: No, Sir. We object to the taking of the Bill today to abolish Fóir Teoranta, the State rescue agency, because the alternative arrangements promised at the time this decision was announced to provide for company  rescue are not yet in place and the abolition of Fóir Teoranta is, therefore, premature and could well be a serious error.
An Ceann Comhairle: Shall I put the question?
Mr. J. Bruton: Yes, please.
Question put, “That Business shall be interrupted at 10.30 p.m. today.”
The Dáil divided: Tá, 70; Níl, 41.
Burke, Raphael P.
Coughlan, Mary Theresa.
de Valera, Síle.
Fitzgerald, Liam Joseph.
Gallagher, Pat the Cope.
Haughey, Charles J.
Kitt, Michael P.
Nolan, M. J.
Noonan, Michael J. (Limerick West).
O'Malley, Desmond J.
O'Toole, Martin Joe.
Wilson, John P.
Barry, Peter. Bruton, Richard.
Cosgrave, Michael Joe.
Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
Bruton, John. Higgins, Jim.
Noonan, Michael. (Limerick East).
Tellers: Tá, Deputies V. Brady and Clohessy; Níl, Deputies J. Higgins and Boylan.
Question declared carried.
Mr. Spring: On the Order of Business, can I seek some clarification from the Taoiseach? Some weeks ago the Taoiseach or the Government announced that a task force of the Cabinet were being set up in relation to storm damage. I want to know if that task force have reported to the Cabinet; if not, when their report can be expected and if it will be published?
An Ceann Comhairle: It is not something which arises on the Order of Business, Deputy Spring.
Mr. Howlin: The Taoiseach wants to respond.
An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy will have to find another way of raising that matter.
Mr. Spring: Perhaps I should seek to raise it on the Adjournment but, if the Chair should not grant me that permission, I would seek, more importantly, to raise on the Adjournment the implications of last week's Supreme Court decision in the McGimpsey v. the State case for the Anglo-Irish Agreement?
An Ceann Comhairle: I will communicate with the Deputy.
Mr. J. Bruton: Has the Taoiseach yet taken a decision on the request made by Fine Gael this morning for a debate in this House during which the Government might make a statement on the implications of the Supreme Court decision in the McGimpsey case?
The Taoiseach: No, I have not yet considered the matter in any depth. I am not so sure that a debate would be of any great assistance. The judgement of the Supreme Court is fairly specific and comprehensive. I do not know that a debate here would add much to the situation, but perhaps the Deputy might persuade me.
Mr. J. Bruton: Would the Taoiseach agree that the terms of the Supreme Court decision do quite tightly circumscribe the Government's ability in certain respects in regard to Anglo-Irish relations and that it would be useful for the House to have a statement from the Government as to how they see the implications of this decision on their conduct of Anglo-Irish relations? If the Taoiseach feels that a debate is not the best format perhaps he would suggest another format in which such clarification could be achieved.
An Ceann Comhairle: We certainly cannot debate it now.
Mr. Barry: Perhaps the request I made earlier in regard to a statement might be helpful.
The Taoiseach: I will consider that.
Mr. Connaughton: In the absence of the Minister for Agriculture, is the Taoiseach aware that one of his Cork TDs stated on local radio County Sound 103 last week that he would personally see the disadvantaged areas files in the Department of Agriculture this week before they went to Brussels.
An Ceann Comhairle: Please, Deputy Connaughton, I thought the Deputy had something relevant to raise on the Order of Business. I am calling Deputy Deenihan.
Mr. Connaughton: Can all Deputies see them? Who is going to decide on the criteria? Is it the Fianna Fáil Deputies?
An Ceann Comhairle: Please desist, Deputy Connaughton.
Mr. Deenihan: When do the Government intend to publish the report of the Special Commission set up to examine safety procedures at our major stadia in view of the incidents that occurred recently——
An Ceann Comhairle: Will the Deputy please put down a question, or some such matter.
Mr. Deenihan: It is very important. Many people could be killed. This is a matter of public safety.
An Ceann Comhairle: If it is worthy of a question, Deputy, put down a question.
Mr. McCartan: When will the promised pensions Bill be circulated?
The Taoiseach: Is the Deputy talking about the Social Welfare Bill?
Mr. McCartan: No. There was a new updated pensions Bill promised in the House a few weeks ago. I was wondering when it might be circulated.
The Taoiseach: It will be available  soon. I do not think it will be taken this session.
Mr. McCartan: I appreciate it will not be taken, but will it be circulated before the end of this session?
The Taoiseach: I hope so.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Quite some months ago I understood from the Taoiseach that he was agreeable to the establishment of a committee on crime. Will the Taoiseach confirm that he will issue an instruction to his Whips to ensure that the necessary terms of reference can be agreed and that this committee can be established at this stage.
The Taoiseach: It is being discussed by the Whips at the moment and it will be established as soon as possible. The Deputy will recall that it was a Fianna Fáil idea in the first place.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: I have asked my own Whip to raise this at a number of Whips' meetings. He tells me that he is making no progress whatever and that the Government Whip is not co-operating at all in reaching agreement on the terms of reference. Would you instruct him accordingly, Sir?
The Taoiseach: I will discuss it firmly with him.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: We will await developments.
Mr. Spring: In the usual manner.
Mr. Deasy: Some weeks ago a group of parliamentarians from this House visited Nicaragua to observe the elections. I would like to know if they have filed a report and whether that report will be debated in this House in the near future?
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: That is not in order on the Order of Business.
Miss Quill: Have they not come back?
The Taoiseach: It is nothing to do with me. I think the Deputy is being mischievous.
Mr. Deasy: I am certainly not. I would like to hear a fair discussion and not a one sided discussion on the matter.
A Deputy: Where is the Deputy?
Mr. J. Bruton: There is a month's mind.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Could I appeal to the House to listen to the pleadings of the Deputy on whom I have called, Deputy Ahearn.
Mr. Deasy: He is being adopted by Daniel Ortega.
Mrs. T. Ahearn: With your permission, Sir, I wish to raise on the Adjournment the question of St. Joseph's Hospital, Clonmel, where over 50 per cent of the nursing staff are employed in a temporary capacity, for six years or more.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Ceann Comhairle will communicate with the Deputy.
Mr. Howlin: May I ask the Taoiseach when a statement will be made this week on the establishment of the committee on local government reform, as promised by the Government Chief Whip last week.
The Taoiseach: It is on its way.
Mr. Howlin: May I ask the Taoiseach if the announcement will be made this week?
The Taoiseach: Maybe not this week but very soon.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): May I ask the Taoiseach when the promised legislation to set up a debt management agency will be introduced in this House?
The Taoiseach: I think it is at an advanced state of preparation. I am not sure when it will come before the House but it will be as soon as possible.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick East): Does the Taoiseach recall promising that it would be published in advance of the Finance Bill being published and does he think now he will fulfil that commitment?
The Taoiseach: We will try to adhere to that.
Mr. Finucane: With your permission, Sir, I wish to raise on the Adjournment the ongoing dispute at Anglo Irish Meat Processors, Rathkeale, which is causing much hardship to constituents.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Ceann Comhairle will communicate with the Deputy.
Mr. Cotter: Is the Taoiseach aware of the decision made by the Minister for Agriculture and Food while he was away with regard to the division of the additional quota of 11.5 million gallons available to farmers——
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: That would not arise on the Order of Business.
Mr. Cotter: ——and the discriminatory nature of the allocation.
Mr. Currie: May I ask the Taoiseach if on the occasion of his visit to the Liffey Valley next Sunday to open the new bridge he will take the opportunity of stating the Government's intention in relation to the signing of the amenity order for the Liffey Valley?
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Suggestions of that kind are not proper to the Order of Business.
Mr. Currie: It is a nice jump.
Mr. McCormack: May I ask the Taoiseach what steps the Government intend  to take to compensate farmers and householders in south Galway who have been so badly affected by the recent flooding.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Is this on the Adjournment? The Deputy is entitled to request to raise the matter on the Adjournment.
Mr. McCormack: I am entitled to ask the Taoiseach.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: You are not entitled to do so.
Mr. McCormack: I heard one of his own Minsters asking the Taoiseach on the 1.30 p.m. news what he is going to do about it. If I am not entitled to ask him here, I do not know what he was doing.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: You, Deputy, are not one of his own Ministers yet and what happens on the news is not relevant to the Order of Business.
Mr. McCormack: I will have to ask the Taoiseach this question on the radio this evening. I toured the area yesterday and they are in a serious situation.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Accounts of the Deputy's tours of his constituency are not in order on the Order of Business.
Mr. McCormack: This is a national problem.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I now call Deputy Kenny.
Mr. Kenny: A Leas-Cheann Comhairle, I thought you were going to refer to me as the Right Honourable Member in view of your recent co-chairmanship.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: In reply to that I might say Deputy that you would be the Right Honourable Member from my own county and in that way I could not object.
Mr. Kenny: With your prermission, Sir, I seek to raise on the Adjournment the matter of the provision of a regional technical college for Castlebar, County Mayo.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Ceann Comhairle will communicate with the Deputy.
Miss Flaherty: May I ask the Taoiseach to right a certain slight to this House done by the Minister for Social Welfare and to clarify something which to date neither the Taoiseach nor the Minister have been able to clarify, that is, when exactly the Occupational Pensions Bill will be before this House and if the timescale outlined by the Minister to a single journalist last week can be taken as the timetable?
The Taoiseach: It was announced five minutes ago.
Miss Flaherty: My apologies.
The Taoiseach: I am afraid the move to the left is not quick enough.
Mr. Moynihan: I wish to raise on the Adjournment the present serious threat to the Ring of Kerry road caused by the recent very serious coastal erosion at Waterville.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Ceann Comhairle will communicate with the Deputy.
Mr. J. Mitchell: The Deputy is close to home.
Miss Flaherty: I was here for the Order of Business and I gather the specific time table was given for the Social Welfare Bill but were the specific details given on the Occupational Pensions Bill?
The Taoiseach: Both were given.
Miss Flaherty: To whom?
Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach and at the Department of Defence (Mr. V. Brady): It was announced in the House.
The Taoiseach: We will communicate with the Deputy.
Mr. McCartan: With your permission, Sir, I seek to raise on the Adjournment the issue of irregular work practices in the Department of Justice relating to supervisors in the community services area.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Ceann Comhairle will communicate with the Deputy.
Mr. O'Shea: With your permission, Sir, I wish to raise on the Adjournment the need for the Government to fulfil their commitment to decentralise a Government Department to Waterford.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Beidh an Ceann Comhairle i gcomhairle leat faoi sin.
Mr. J. Bruton: May I ask the Taoiseach if he can give any further information on the introduction of legislation to provide statutory authority for the regional technical colleges to co-operate with industry and engage in various other matters involving the amendment of the Vocational Educational Acts?
The Taoiseach: I do not think it will surface this session.
Mr. J. Bruton: Without wishing to be repetitive, may I ask if the Taoiseach is aware that it was promised for this session?
The Taoiseach: Not categorically.
Mr. J. Bruton: It was promised as much as any promise could ever be obtained from the Taoiseach.
Mr. McCormack: With your permission, Sir, I wish to raise on the Adjournment the serious flooding in south Galway.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Ceann Comhairle will communicate with the Deputy on that matter.
Mr. Byrne: With your permission, Sir, I wish to raise on the Adjournment the question of the understaffing of the Dublin Carriage Office which has resulted in taxis being unsupervised at week-ends and with no inspection of PSD licences or cars.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Ceann Comhairle will communicate with the Deputy.
Mr. J. Higgins: I wish to raise on the Adjournment the need for the Minister for the Environment to extend the completion dates of the house improvement grants in view of the impossibility of carrying out the work within the specified time due to weather conditions.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: The Ceann Comhairle will communicate with Deputy Higgins.
Question again proposed: “That the Bill be read a Second Time.”
Mr. Stafford: I rise to speak on this Bill because I know the Minister for Labour has done exemplary work in the whole area of industrial relations. Industrial relations in Ireland have made massive strides over the past few years. Representing, as I do, a constituency which has a large number of working class people — I regard worker representation as an important issue. The Bill is also of considerable national importance. I personally know elderly people living in my area who can clearly remember the effects and consequences of the 1913 lock-out. Men like Connolly and Larkin brought Irish trade unionism into the 20th century. The right to worker participation and representation is clearly established in this Bill. It is designed to  protect the rights of both sides. The dramatic fall in the number of days lost due to industrial disputes is welcome. This, however, should not lead to a false sense of security or complacency. On the contrary, the improvement in the strike figure gives us a chance to reflect on the positive contribution that industrial peace can make to our society.
With the advent of a new Europe Ireland is in a unique position to capitalise on the Single Market. Industrial relations will play a vital role in determining whether this opportunity is grasped. This Bill comes at an ideal time with industrial peace prevailing. It is the ideal time and atmosphere in which sensible and practical change can be introduced to both legal and procedural frameworks. This Government and this Minister have already shown their commitment to industrial relations. In the budget £1.27 million has been set aside by the Minister for Finance to help fund the amalgamation of various unions.
The Industrial Relations Bill contains many good measures which will be generally welcomed. The following provisions are extremely important. Section 14 of the Bill provides that no strike or industrial action will take place without a secret ballot, that all members will be given a fair opportunity of voting and that the results of the ballot will be made known to the members. It is fair to say that non-secret ballot voting in the past has in certain instances directly affected the outcome of a vote, with peer pressure and other influences being used to sway voters one way or the other. A secret ballot is the only way in which a fair result can be obtained, not only by the unions members but in all outside cases. Section 16 provides that every union will forward a copy of its rules incorporating this secret ballot requirement to the Registrar of Friendly Societies. The penalty for non-registration is that a union will not be entitled to a negotiation licence.
It has been known for a long time that the number of unions in Ireland is excessive compared to countries like West Germany and Japan where the smaller  number of unions has been responsible in many ways for the increase in prosperity and the high living standards of workers. The Bill has provision relating to minimum membership. Section 21 increases the minimum membership for the grant of a negotiation licence to a trade union to 1,000 people. This is a welcome provision and I know the Minister for Labour would like to see bigger unions but fewer of them. The recent amalgamation of the ITGWU and the FWUI to form the SIPTU is an excellent case in point.
The main unions in the public service are proposing to amalgamate to form a much larger union. Also the various sections in the education area will amalgamate and between them will have a membership of about 43,000. This will not only give the unions strong negotiating positions but will also provide a more balanced view when they are dealing with different employers and the Government. This move was welcomed not only by workers but also by employers and I am sure it will be of benefit to both sides in the future.
I have already mentioned the provision of £1.27 million in the budget towards the amalgamation costs of trade unions. This trend is set to continue since section 22 enables the Minister to make grants towards the expenses incurred by trade unions in contemplating or attempting to bring together various unions. Even if this does not happen, they will not be out of pocket. This Bill goes a long way to encourage amalgamation where it would seem to be of benefit to both employers and employees.
The Minister has gone to a lot of trouble to tidy up the difficult area of secondary picketing. The Bill seeks to ensure that the practice of secondary picketing is subject to a greater degree of control than heretofore. Perhaps it would have been ideal if secondary picketing had been barred outright, in keeping with developments in other modern economies. Given the provision in the Bill, the problem is addressed to an adequate degree. Picketing procedure is also tidied up in section 11 which amends section 2  (1) of the outdated Trade Disputes Act of 1906 by confining immunity to picketing at the place of business of a worker's own employer.
The new labour relations commission is another positive feature of this Bill. Its interaction with the Labour Court is a vital area and the acceptance of the new commission by employers and employees alike is an extremely important matter. I have no doubt that my constituency colleague, the Minister for Labour, will ensure its success.
I now turn to the developments in the Custom House Dock where understanding and trust between different trade unions and the employers and the help of the Minister for Labour have brought in many young people in various trades. This must augur well for the future.
We also have agreement between the social partners. Many people here and outside this country have remarked on our wonderfully improved industrial relations. I am associated with Dublin Port where we have an extremely good working relationship with the trade unions which has benefited greatly the Port of Dublin and thereby the citizens of this city; it has also benefited the workers. When strikes do occur not only the workers directly involved are affected, their families also lose out. I do not believe any man or woman looks forward to a strike. Trade unions and the officials have a wonderful record.
One wonders about some of the dreadful things reported in the British media concerning Arthur Scargill. If he is guilty as accused that is one thing but it is awful to see him being tried by the media and to see the glee on the faces of some people who take his downfall as a personal victory. It is a sorry state of affairs when any one official is tried by the newspapers as he has been. I suppose, when it goes to court we will find out the reasons behind this scandal and we will maybe get to the truth. We have never had that type of problem with the many great trade union leaders we have had down through the years. Many people will speak of the wish to amalgamate small  trade unions so that they will be strong in negotiating with employers and with the Minister for Labour in relation to pay rises and so on.
This Bill contains many provisions which are of national importance. It is vital to our future that we compete on an equal basis with our European partners. Industrial relations is a major component of our economic well-being and this Bill will have a vital rôle in promoting and supporting industrial harmony which will ensure our success in taking our share of the new markets as they emerge.
Mr. O'Brien: I am glad of the opportunity to speak on this Bill. The provision with regard to having a secret ballot before a strike is very important and is long overdue. At union meetings the issues are debated and one of the drawbacks in providing for a secret ballot is that trade unionists who are not good attenders at meetings will become more apathetic and will await the arrival of a ballot paper in the post. However, on balance it is better that people should have the opportunity to vote in secret for or against a strike which, in essence, is industrial warfare. The advent of the secret ballot will also do away with intimidation. At union meetings people have been nudged to vote in a certain way and many people have a look round to see who is voting for what before they decide whether to vote for or against a strike.
This legislation also refers to secondary picketing which is wrong in principle. I have seen people running around the country like headless chickens picketing industries and dragging people out of work when they could not place a successful picket on their own jobs. Some conscientious people who would not pass a picket have been exploited by such people. The principle of secondary picketing is totally wrong. A dispute should be settled within an industry without involving others.
Because of the advent of balloting and the timescale involved, there will now be no need for employers to go in the night seeking an injunction to stop a picket.
 That is an important aspect. Trade unionists have an inalienable right to strike as a last resort. Without the strike weapon workers would be little more than slaves.
I am not too happy about the requirement of 1,000 people, instead of 500 people, to set up a union or association to represent workers. It is not necessarily a good thing to amalgamate all the small unions. If 500 people want to come together and form a union, that is a reasonably sized grouping. I am not against raising the sum of money they would have to put up but it would be unreasonable to raise the numbers required. I can understand why trade unions like this provision as it would limit the proliferation of small unions, but if there is general disenchantment with a large union as has happened in the past, a smaller union comprised of a disenchanted group can work out pretty well. Often one finds that large industries are not properly represented in a huge union and they are totally isolated with regard to representation.
I ask the Minister to have another look at this provision because people must have a facility through which they can voice their discontent with a large strong union. Amalgamation of smaller unions is favoured today; big is not necessarily beautiful, although it could work out that way. I am not against the idea of unions voluntarily coming together and I agree with the Government making money available to bring that about because it would obviously be a costly exercise. However, I should not like it to become a cosy arrangement with workers, by virtue of size, becoming more and more isolated and unions becoming a bureaucracy rather than — as they were when they started — friendly societies to defend people's rights.
Ironically, when there is a 50 per cent takeover in a business the trade union movement and congress rightly complain about large conglomerates but, at the same time, they want a similar cosy arrangement. That is a contradiction and we must be careful not to create that kind of set-up.
 All the trades should try to come together because, if we are to survive as an economy, we must cut out these lines of demarcation. People in industry must realise that their competitors all over the world have got rid of the rigid lines which were all right 40 and 50 years ago when the guilds and trades were so tightly controlled. However, the whole world has changed and we must change with it. I agree with the kind of amalgamation to which I referred but I am a bit sceptical about the two big unions coming together to make one big one. The unions must realise that even though there are various activities within the industries they serve, people must be allowed to move freely within disciplines. Congress should always keep that in mind because the world does not owe us anything. We are talking about going into Europe but Europe will not owe us anything either and if we do not match up we will fall behind.
Even though I am critical of certain aspects of the Bill its trust is to do that and that is why I support it. The Labour Relations Commission is a good idea because with all due respects, the Labour Court have been run ragged. All disputes were referred to them with the result that the court lost any decent standing they had in the sense of authority. When they lose authority one should ask whether they could be made stronger and better. However, as a result of setting up the commission the Labour Court may not be called in the first instance.
The commission will consist of six members, two from the employer's side, two from the trade unions and two vacancies for people with expertise in various disciplines. It is important that it is not an adversarial commission with various members looking after their own interests. The two independent members will bring a different approach and attitude to the problems.
The commission have a very important role to play and I hope they will get through their work pretty quickly as there is a lot to be done. The whole machinery of industry relations has been gummed  up as a result of the Rights Commissioners, the Labour Court and other joint industrial councils. The commission should not just examine the problem as disputes arise — that is the fire brigade approach — they must take an enlightened view as to how they can bring a whole new approach to labour relations which is long overdue. It is not like the old days when you had a boss who owned the outfit, dominated it and made decisions. Now most companies have a board and a chief executive who is a worker in the company. Members of the board have various responsibilities but the whole attitude of “them” and “us” will have to go. Many of the problems which have arisen over the years in regard to industrial relations and strikes have been caused by bad management, bad personnel and personnel relations within jobs. They saw themselves as a group who would give as little as they could to the workers and did not let them know much about the industry. Fortunately, that attitude is now changing.
If the Industrial Relations Commission can work out codes of practice in relation to employer-employee relationships they can inform the industries at risk what they should be doing and urge them to take action to avoid strikes within industry. The commission have a lot of work to do and I would like to see them, from time to time, coming up with reports. I do not know if they will report to the Minister on an annual or bi-annual basis in regard to the climate of industrial relationships. That is important because not much has been written about industrial relations; this Commission might be able to develop a whole series of principles for good relations within industry.
Industry owe it to their staff to supply as much information as possible. I do not know why people are reluctant to give out information. Indeed, there are times in this House when Ministers are reluctant to give information and I can never understand it. The more open society is the healthier it is. There should be an openness between employers and staff so that staff will never see a notice on a gate “gone into liquidation” without any  warning. That is the kind of thing that we must avoid and the commission can help by a good educational programme. Legislation helps but you cannot legislate to avoid industrial turmoil. However, you can educate to legislate against it. I hope this industrial relations commission will look at ways and means of doing that at all times. It is only by a voluntary effort that we can get the whole thing moving in the kind of way that we want. There is no doubt that while we have codes of practice they will be only standards which industry will be using. It is on that basis that the whole system will depend.
A lot will depend too on the chairman and personnel who are selected. They should be people who are genuinely concerned in bringing forward the whole concept of good working industrial relationships. Workers should come together and see the industry as something of which they are a part and not just as a place where they work. If the commission can incorporate that into the whole area of industrial relations they will be doing a great job. It would make life easier for the Labour Court. They would not be dragged into every fight and there would be no wildcat strikes. Common sense would prevail if there were genuine grievances but there will be times when people will go on strike. We all know that when times are bad and unemployment is high employers often use that as a big stick to keep wage rates down but conversely when things are really good, trade unions rush in with outrageous demands. Hopefully, with a good approach we can change that.
A very good example can be seen across the water. I always think that is the last place we should look when dealing with industrial relations. Certainly it is the last place I would want to look. Unfortunately, one of the bad things we inherited is their form of industrial relations and trade unions but we also inherited some good things, for example, our Parliament. The people across the water were born into an horrific industrial scene in which they were downtrodden and the terrible enmity and hatred is still  to be seen over there. The same was not the case here, although unfortunately we inherited some of their practices. I hope we will move towards a much more enlightened industrial relations scene.
Much more information is required from management. If things are going badly, workers should be informed well in advance. They may not be able to do much about it but they may be able to do something and may be prepared to make a sacrifice to help the industry before the inevitable happens. If the industry is going well and profits are high, the workers should also be told. Reinvestment in industry is important. Shareholders who put in a few bob must also get a few bob. The employee is entitled to his share because he is as much a partner in the industry as the person who made the investment or the management. He gets his weekly or fortnightly wage and that is his repayment from the industry but it is not enough in good times. If we took the approach of profit sharing or payment to workers on the basis of profits it would be a better approach. People could then accept when times are bad that cutbacks may have to be made or staff laid off because of changing circumstances. If there was more dialogue and more information available that would be the case and people would not walk up to a factory to find it closed overnight. That must be a traumatic experience for people who have given their lifetime to a firm.
There is a lot of good in this Bill and it must be given an opportunity to work. I have no doubt the commission will be successful and will bring the kind of enlightenment that is needed. I would like to see reports from the commission from time to time and these reports circulated to the trade union movement and employers' organisations so that they can see the latest developments within the whole industry. I welcome the Bill and wish it success. We all want to see industrial harmony and that can be brought about only by an enlightened workforce and an enlightened management. The  commission might play a rôle in that regard.
I would like to compliment the trade union movement for the very responsible way in which they have made agreements and kept those agreements. That was necessary. Despite all the talk about how good the economy is, it is not good. It is still very shaky. I am not making a political point but everybody knows we are debt-ridden, interest rates are far too high and so on. There are problems in our society and that is why we need trade unions but I am all for individual bargaining within industry. I am nervous of centralisation because it is bad and a malaise sets in. There is no point in waiting for something to fail. We should try to do something before that happens. We all tend to think that if something works once we should try it again and hope it will work again but there comes a day when it does not work and that is when the turmoil sets in. All I am saying is, let us not be like that. Let us take the enlightened view. We are all human beings and there is always a temptation to take the easy way out but I would not like to see that happen. Our approach to industrial relations has been successful but we cannot expect trade unions to deliver all the time. God knows, the last agreement was a good one. However, the remuneration and standard of living of members have dropped. They have accepted that in a patriotic way and we should commend them for doing so but we cannot lean on them all the time. It is not possible to preach two messages, that the economy is going great, that we are doing well and then ask the workers to accept a reduction in their standard of living. The Government cannot get away with such a policy. They must be careful.
I wish the Bill well and I have no doubt that its provisions will prove successful. It will not be the last Bill on industrial relations. In fact, we should be looking at such legislation from time to time. I do not think we require a lot of legislation on industrial relations. What is needed is a little vision, education and patriotism. We want people to work together. We do not want a “them” and “us” attitude.  We must foster togetherness. If we have that frame of mind the country will prosper on the industrial relations scene.
Mr. Jacob: Deputy O'Brien referred to the economy and I am pleased to be able to say that it is going very well. However, there is a phenomenon in regard to it. The economy may be progressing but it is not producing the jobs at a rate we would like. I am sure the Minister for Labour is aware of that and is working feverishly to correct it. I should like to congratulate the Minister on the introduction of the Bill which has been long awaited by the social partners. Its roots extend back to the last decade. There are none in the House who could not accept that the Bill is a result of much necessary study and deliberation by the Minister and his Department over a long period. That was necessary in order to ensure that the right balance was obtained in terms of the reform of the labour law proposed in it.
I am aware that the Minister has received many submissions from all sides in regard to the provisions in the Bill and that the debate in private and in public was an essential part of the process, a democratic process, before he brought his final proposals to the House. We have had much time to deliberate on the type of reforms necessary in labour law and, in particular, the trade disputes law since the publication of the report of the Commission of Inquiry on Industrial Relations was published in 1981. That report recommended a new system of industrial relations highly regulated by law and operating within a new institutional framework.
I believe that while we have certainly moved a considerable distance from the concept of voluntarism in industrial relations it is very unwise to do any more than is absolutely essential to regulate by law the relationships between employers and workers and their trade unions.
We know, for example, that the Employment Appeals Tribunal was originally intended as an informal forum for the resolution of disputes on redundancy and dismissal cases but that the impact of  the Unfair Dismissals Act in particular has resulted in a highly legalistic framework being established and the proceedings today are, for the most part, dominated by solicitors and barristers representing both sides. In hindsight such developments were inevitable when the Act provided for the application of the rules of evidence as would apply in any court of law.
I merely point to this by way of illustration as to the consequences, perhaps unforeseen, which can result from the application of legal frameworks to the industrial relations process. I think, therefore, that the Minister has been absolutely correct to deliberate long and hard on the degree of change necessary at this point in time.
It is also true to say that times change and circumstances change. What might have been perceived as necessary in 1981 by some parties need not necessarily be true today and I think that the contribution of all sides to achieving a more harmonious industrial relations environment during the eighties deserves great credit. That the number of man-days lost today through industrial action bears no relationship to that of days gone by, is indicative of the progress and endeavours achieved by all sides.
The Bill is more the fruits of the discussion begun in 1984 through the publication by the Department of Labour of their discussion document on industrial relations reform and subsequent action by the Minister to obtain the views of interested parties and the general discussion which developed from his action. The Minister will gladly admit that in a true industrial relations spirit he has attempted to achieve a balance between the various views and ultimately has decided on what he sees as the minimum and essential steps necessary to redress what the discussion document referred to as, “the acknowledged deficiencies in our industrial relations arrangements”.
The Bill, I am certain, will generate much constructive discussion within this House on both of its two principal areas of reform, that is, in the area of trades  dispute law and in reform of the institutional arrangements for dealing with industrial relations issues. In both areas there is much debate as to the appropriateness of the proposals, on whether they go far enough or too far, and on whether one institution is adequately linked with another and so on. I hope I can contribute constructively to that discussion in regard to both areas.
The Minister, in the Second Schedule, has repealed the entire Trades Dispute Act, 1906, while re-enacting and modifying many of its provisions in regard to immunities. All will be glad to see the improvement in the situation which applied under this Act and particularly in the extension of the immunities to cover all stages of the legal process, thereby minimising the necessity for courts to interpret the boundaries of lawful industrial action.
The principal effect of section 8, through its definition of “trade dispute”, is to ensure that disputes between workers will not be regarded as a dispute to which the immunities will apply. I welcome this change, as I am sure all do. I would presume that where a dispute is considered to be between a trade union and an employer, as distinct from workers and employers, that definition would embrace such a dispute.
It would appear to follow from the wording of section 11 where workers are perceived to be acting, “on behalf of a trade union”, that such a situation would constitute a trade dispute. In order that no unnecessary misinterpretation occurs, I would be glad if the Minister would clarify this point and consider whether the definition requires any further elaboration. In regard to section 9, I am particularly pleased that the Minister has included references to normal or agreed procedures availed of in the resolution of individual grievances and that the benefits of sections 10, 11 and 12, are not available where such procedures have not been resorted to and exhausted.
I believe that today it is unacceptable that normal grievance and disciplinary procedures are not in place in all places of  employment. I know that this provision follows a guideline established by the Employment Appeals Tribunal for many years and I would like to think it is possible to go further at some stage in insisting that such procedures are adopted by employers and workers, much the same as there is now a requirement for safety statements and procedures. I know that the Labour Relations Commission will have a proactive role in developing codes of practice and I certainly hope that a minimum standard procedure will come out of those guidelines which would operate as a fail-safe mechanism in the event of no procedures being voluntarily adopted.
There is an area here, however, within the procedures adopted in the event of a dispute arising on dismissals which I would like to address to the Minister. I know that many have held the view for some time that such procedures should only have ultimate recourse to the Employment Appeals Tribunal and not, as it currently stands, to the Labour Court or now to the Labour Relations Commission, as an alternative road.
Since this Bill specifically refers to procedures adopted in the event of dismissals in section 9 (2), it would seem appropriate to confine those procedures to one avenue which, under the Unfair Dismissals Act, 1977, has a six months time frame. Notwithstanding my references earlier to the legalistic framework of the tribunal, I think that a significant amount of case law has emerged which enables both parties to apply generally accepted principles to the resolution of disputes in this area. It must inevitably occur, however, that when such disputes are referred to the Labour Court — now there is no time frame and there is not necessarily adherence to the Unfair Dismissals Act, or case law established by the tribunal — inconsistencies arise. I would ask the Minister if he would address this issue in the context of the role of the Labour Court resulting from those provisions and consider whether it is now opportune to deal with this matter. I think it would certainly assist in the interpretation of section 9 (2) and the  exhaustion of normal procedures required by that section.
Section 11 contains a much welcome provision to restrict picketing to the place where the employer works or carries on business, and makes it unlawful to picket a person's home where the home is not used to carry on business. This is a very necessary provision and one which I welcome. The secondary picketing provision in section 11 (2) imposes a liability on those picketing to a reasonable belief that another employer has acted in a way calculated to frustrate the strike or other industrial action by directly assisting their employer who is a party to the trade dispute. There is quite a distinction, as the House is aware, between “belief” and “belief that is reasonable” and this requirement and distinction are necessary. It will, I hope, cause the extension of picketing to the places of work of other employers to be justified only on objective grounds and thereby reduce the potential for unjustified or malicious secondary picketing.
I know that many employers would like to see this country following the road of others in making secondary picketing unlawful but I do not agree that we have reasonable grounds to do so. There are surely circumstances in which a legitimate industrial action can be frustrated by the combined efforts of two employers and if another employer chooses to enter the action, so to speak, then I believe, and I hope reasonably, that that employer may become a target for picketing within the framework of the provisions of this Bill.
While I fully understand the intentions of the Minister in section 11 (3) to safeguard actions taken by a health services employer to maintain life preserving services during a strike or other industrial action, I am concerned that similar actions by other public authorities or utility organisations supplying essential services are not covered by this provision. There are circumstances in which the supply of electricity, water, gas, transport, etc., can contribute to safeguarding life in a very direct way.
I know the Minister must walk a fine  line here so as not to deprive a whole section of the working community of the ability to take lawful industrial action which could not always be frustrated by such a provision. I think, however, there must be a case to consider some framework in which there is a stipulation of minimal services required to ensure the supply of those services thought necessary to safeguard life.
I have to say I am also concerned that there are services which are necessary to maintain the employment or services to those not connected in any way with a particular industrial action and that there are resources in the hands of certain categories of public employees which give to them inordinate power to disrupt the community and economic activity in furtherance of industrial action. Again I recognise the fine line which the Minister walks here and if he considers it is not possible to address this matter in legislation, I hope it is possible to achieve an alternative route which would approach a balance between the legitimate rights of workers and of the community at large. Perhaps this is a matter which could be high on the agenda of the new commission and the list of codes of practice which could be agreed between the parties involved.
Section 14 (2) contains a provision that within two years of the passing of this Bill all trade unions are required to have provisions in their rule books requiring a secret ballot to be held before taking industrial action and gives discretion in subsection 14 (2) (c) to the committee of management of the trade union to decide on whether to support industrial action notwithstanding a majority ballot in favour of industrial action.
I think that this is also a necessary provision which merely ensures a democratic process within the operations of trade unions and ensures that wildcat strikes cannot proliferate and that the majority voice of trade union members is heard clearly by the committee of management of the trade union. I know that this may appear to trade unions as interference in their private affairs but it is an  example of the balance which the Minister is striving to achieve a better industrial relations environment. I, therefore, welcome this provision and believe it is a progressive step.
I would like the Minister to clarify for me, however, how this section links up with a definition of place of employment. I have in mind workers within an organisation which has many outposts, offices, stores, shops, etc., which are relatively or semi-independent of each other and where industrial action might be proposed at only one or some of these places. Is it only the workers employed at that place or places who can vote, and how will the inter-relationships be determined in that decision? Perhaps this matter is covered in the interpretations of a combination of various Acts but I would be glad to understand how that area will work.
In similar vein I would be glad if the Minister would clarify the restriction of immunities contained in section 17. I presume that the immunities do apply to action taken by workers where the majority of workers have voted in secret ballot to support industrial action but also where the committee of management of the trade union have decided under section 14 (2) (c) not to support that action. That is how I read it and it would help me if the Minister would confirm my understanding.
I am very glad to see the provisions of section 19 before this House as I know that the whole issue of ex parte injunctions has dogged the industrial relations environment for many years. They cannot now be given where trade unions carry out a secret ballot and give one week's notice to an employer of its intention to take industrial action following a majority vote in favour of that action. The balance struck here by the Minister is very welcome and I know that he has had to strike a balance between conflicting views on this thorny subject. This section as much as any other imposes an obligation for reasonable action on both sides and strongly encourages dialogue  before action is taken by either party, which can only be in everyone's interest.
I also congratulate the Minister on the additional measures provided for in relation to the amalgamation of trade unions and I believe the House fully supports any and every action taken to encourage a reduction in the number of trade unions and any proliferation of small unions. The formation of SIPTU is an example to other unions and if I have no other opportunity to do so I would like to offer my congratulations to that new union, or should I say re-union, and to wish them every success in maintaining the significant contributions which both parts have made to industrial relations life and national progress over many years.
In turning to the provisions relating to reform in the industrial relations institutions, beginning at section 24 which establishes a labour relations commission, I believe, in so far as it is possible to envision the operations of these new and reconstituted bodies, that the total effect of all the provisions of this Part of the Bill will be to greatly improve the facilities for workers, trade unions and employers to obtain assistance, direction and guidance in promoting harmonious industrial relations. Ultimately, as in all situations, there has to be a facility for a body to make a final decision, and that role has been given to the Labour Court.
While there may be much debate on the attachment of certain services to the commission rather than to the court, there is an obligation on the part of both bodies to set about ensuring that the intentions of this Bill are fulfilled to their fullest extent and that the full weight of the services now provided for are used extensively for the promotion of better industrial relations arrangements. I am certain that both the commission and the court will more than adequately fulfil their new roles. The existing roles of the court, their conciliation service and the Rights Commissioners have contributed enormously to the service of workers and employers. I know that for the most part the value of their services are relatively unknown except to those involved or  interested in these matters. I would, therefore, like to pay tribute to these services and to the equality officers for the tremendous work they have undertaken and for their very significant contribution to the promotion of good industrial relations practices and in the resolution of disputes.
Given the significance of this role, particularly the role of the conciliation and equality officers, I hope that the commission will attach a high level of importance to the selection and training of these officers and to ensure that the quality of service provided will be maintained and enhanced. The qualities of these officers is well known and highly regarded by all those in the industrial relations world. They have ensured that all parties are secure in the knowledge of receiving a professional and knowledgeable service. In like manner, I am pleased that the Minister, under section 34, will rely only on the advice of the commission in the appointment of a Rights Commissioner. This will also help to ensure the application of professional standards and knowledge to all activities within this sphere.
I referred earlier to codes of practice. This is one of the most important new contributions which this Bill provides. In time the proliferation of these codes into accepted norms of practice and guidelines will bring about a confidence in the relationship between employers and workers and help to reduce uncertainty or misunderstandings arising unnecessarily from the absence of a specific code. I know that any organisation which have, for example, a disciplinary and grievance procedure, have a far greater chance of avoiding industrial action or disputes when there are set and exhaustive procedures for addressing the issues in such disputes. It is necessary to ensure that those who do not have such procedures are encouraged and facilitated in the preparation of such agreements. That will be a very important role for the commission.
Finally, I would again like to congratulate the Minister on the introduction of this Bill which is a major development in the industrial relations arena. I am  certain it will lead to significant benefits to employers, workers and trade unions and thereby to the economy and to the preservation and generation of employment in this country.
Mr. Ferris: Our spokesman on Labour, Deputy Toddy O'Sullivan, has placed on the record the Labour Party's welcome in broad terms for the concept of this Bill. He also expressed some reservations about it and indicated our intention to put down amendments on Committee Stage.
The Labour Party, in consultation with the trade union movement, have examined the concept of what the Minister is trying to do in the Industrial Relations Bill, 1989. The main purpose of the Bill is to bring about a better framework for collective bargaining and dispute settlement by making a number of important changes in trade union law and in industrial relations law generally. These changes will tighten and clarify the law in relation to picketing, especially secondary picketing; it will build on existing good practice in the area of pre-strike secret ballots by providing that unions must have a rule in their rule books requiring the holding of such ballots; it will regulate the granting of injunctions, particularly ex-parte injunctions, in trade union disputes; and it will facilitate further rationalisation of the trade union movement.
Speakers on all sides have referred to the general welcome for the rationalisation of the trade union movement. This rationalisation had been advocated for a number of years. The trade union movement took on this challenge which recently culminated in the establishment of the new union, SIPTU, of which I am proud to be a member.
The Bill deals also with the establishment of the new Labour Relations Commission which will have general responsibility for the promotion of good industrial relations. The commission will encourage and facilitate a more active approach to dispute prevention and resolution. As a result, the original purpose  and status of Labour Court investigation and recommendations will be restored.
I welcome the Bill and congratulate the Minister on bringing it before the House. The Bill fundamentally preserves the right enshrined in the 1906 Act, that is the right of people to strike without legal action being taken against the trade union movement. Attempts have often been made to deny people in a free society this right. When we look at the toppling of the Berlin Wall and the democratisation of eastern Europe countries, where trade unions were forbidden to operate, we must recognise that people have certain rights, and one of them is the right to work. This right to work is enshrined in our Constitution, but this Government and their predecessors have often ignored it and have made relatively little progress in improving the chances for people to work. However, it is also enshrined in law, even going back to old British law, that people have a right to strike.
This right is operated by trade unions and their members with caution because the people picketing on public roadways, occupying factories or fighting for their rights in any dispute in the industrial area, are always the first to suffer. It is appropriate that law should express this right as a constitutional right and people should not be denied this right under any legislation or law which may be passed by the Oireachtas. We condemn other administrations when they forbid people the right to assemble in groups to discuss politics or industrial relations. These rights have been forbidden to the people in Eastern Europe for 70 years and this has probably led to discontent among those people and to the toppling of the Communist system.
Workers in this country have always a responsibility in the area of employment. This responsibility has been recognised by the present Minister and by previous Ministers. In industrial disputes where life and limb may have been in danger, provision has always been made for skeleton staff to provide hospital, electricity and other important services. There has  always been this responsibility from the trade union movement in this area. Pressure was brought to bear on the Minister which, thankfully, he resisted. Any attempt to interfere with that right would have met with widespread discontent among the workforce. I want to put on the record this evening our appreciation of the efforts the present Minister has put into difficult areas which, at times, were beyond the possibility of settlement under normal trade union negotiations. The present Minister has been prepared to make himself available where difficulties arose and has often done so at the request of Members of the Oireachtas and people with trade union backgrounds who knew that he had a certain degree of confidence in the workers and in the people who were in dispute with each other and could use that to bring about a settlement of a difficult situation. The officers in the Minister's Department and in the Labour Court have always been available and willing to assist anybody who had difficulties. We inherited the 1906 Act from the British, from a liberal administration at the time. This Bill preserves that spirit and eliminates the possibility of legal action being taken.
Let us consider what is happening to the trade union movement in Britain under a Tory Government. We see daily the diminution of the influence and the power of the trade union movement in Britain to represent their members to such an extent that when there are employees in Britain working for Irish companies, like the off-shoot of Barlos, the trade union movement in Britain are unable to negotiate terms equivalent to some of the terms agreed between the employers and employees in Clonmel in Barlo Limited. It is extraordinary that this difference of opinion between what was available to employees in Britain and those in Ireland has been the cause of a dispute. This difference of opinion has led to the closure of a major enterprise in the town of Clonmel putting 156 people out of work, causing widespread disruption of the economic development of that company and creating devastation in the families  of all the workers concerned. If the commission that the Minister is setting up under this legislation could be helpful in this type of industrial dispute that has gone on since last October and over the Christmas period, certainly we would be making major progress in the area of industrial relations. There we had a trade union who had negotiated certain rights for their workers, had agreed to redundancies, rationalisation, pay freezes, had agreed to the company going public to ensure their viability and who expressed a concern but all that did not stop the company from setting up in mainland Britain. Now they have expanded their enterprise in England and have allowed the Irish company in Clonmel to totter and decay. In spite of all our best efforts, and I include in that the Minister, the officials, the labour force, the trade unions and, at times, the employers, we have now on offer a phased return to work of half the workforce, six of them and two fitters to be employed immediately, 25 in May, 20 more in June and 20 more in October if all goes well, and no guarantee about any of the rest of the jobs except redundancies. They also say that they will eliminate all the other allowances that had been agreed in the past, such as welding differentials, machine minders' allowances, service pay, sick day and Christmas bonuses, and that there will be no further wage increases until 1 April 1991 which, effectively, is a three-year wage freeze. These are the kinds of things that are now being offered by employers; they are following the example of English employers, a sort of bullishness in clipping the wings of trade unions and curtailing their right to represent their members. Because of the influence of the Tory Government in Britain the English trade union movement has been reduced to that extent.
It is appropriate that any legislation we implement here should take into account the problems faced by workers in an economy which is reported by everybody to be improving, to be on the up-turn, to be booming and blooming. There is relatively little of this affluence, however, being reflected back onto workers or their  families. This is the difficulty facing trade unions here at the moment. In spite of this economic up-turn it is obvious to anybody reading the terms of the Programme for National Recovery, which the unions agreed they would continue with because they had an argreement for the next ten months, that there was an attitude, even in the trade union movement to allow the Government and employers to set about creating an up-turn in the economy in the belief that this would be reflected in improved conditions for those who made the sacrifices initially and in the creation of jobs for those who did not have jobs, for the unemployed who do not have allowances, for the sick who do not have a health service and for those who were emigrating because they saw no future in this country. That was the Programme for National Recovery and that is why the trade unions agreed with it. That is why they sat down with the Government in a responsible way. I suppose it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that when the programme comes up for renewal they will also be responsible, but the Minister and everybody else must realise how difficult it will be to get another group of trade union representatives to sit down and discuss and promote a further programme that would not reflect the benefits they hoped would flow from the previous programme.
A major document was presented at Dublin Castle last week by the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and Industrial Policy of the European Parliament, a summary of the presentation on the Irish economy. The Government must realise the importance of good industrial relations, the importance of structures to ensure that the good work of the Labour Court is not interfered with. We have 1,090,000 people at work of whom 50,000 are employers, 185,000 self-employed, and 850,000 are employees of whom 200,000 are in the public service and 650,000 in the private sector. There are that many people trying to generate an income for their own benefit as well as for that of the community as a whole, and they need to ensure that they are not discriminated against in any  way by an employer, multinational or national. Those employees produce, in the various sectors, an 11 per cent output in agriculture with 15 per cent employed; 37 per cent output in industry with 28 per cent employed; and 52 per cent of the total workforce involved in the service industries representing 57 per cent of the total number of people employed. That is an indication of the importance of legislation in the area of trade unions and the rights of working people.
Unemployment is another dimension of the Programme for National Recovery. A total of 16.8 per cent of our people are unemployed. Tragically, 23 per cent of those unemployed are young people and if we do not give them some hope we will lose them to America, Australia, mainland Europe and the UK. It is important to be progressive in our legislation.
I know the work which has gone into the preparation of this legislation and the time which has been spent discussing it with the employers, employees, the Irish Management Institute and others. The Minister has got the balance about right in an area for which it is difficult to legislate.
Everybody accepts that there should not be a strike unless there is a secret ballot. The Bill goes somewhat further and that worries us. Balloting is democracy in essence but if it is brought down to secondary action it could be extremely cumbersome and cause difficulty where it might not be possible to have a secret ballot. Maybe the Minister wants to ensure that no such action would take place and to defer the action until a ballot could be held. If that is his reasoning, we are prepared to listen.
It is obvious that the commission will only be successful if properly funded by Government and if the proper industrial relations staff are employed from the outside the existing industrial relations machinery. Nobody wants to remove the expertise already in place in the Labour Court structure or in the Rights Commissioner's office. The staff in these offices are doing an excellent job and should not be removed. The Labour  Court must be allowed to retain its right under the 1946 and 1969 Acts to intervene in a major dispute if it so decides, even if it has not had a report from the Labour Relations Commission which is envisaged under this legislation. A major dispute involving a threat to national energy, transport or communications services should also be included.
The Minister, as President of the Council of Ministers with responsibility in the area of social legislation emanating from the Community, should be more vociferous in all his meetings with Ministers from other countries, particularly with the British Minister who has apparently stymied the Social Charter. In the referendum on the Single European Act we accepted that there would be a programme of social action, as well as economic and monetary union, equalisation of taxes and the free movement of peoples. I learned recently with dismay in discussions with the Commission and Members of the European Parliament that most of their proposals have been rejected by the Council of Ministers. We are now down to about ten directives in the social area and we are also told that very few of these will be legally binding on any member state. That would mean that smaller nations like ourselves could be disadvantaged. I have some confidence that we could look to the Minister in the whole area of the Social Charter and the programme for action arising from it and that he will not be found wanting in regard to legislation on the rights of workers. If the Social Charter is allowed to diminish into aspirations or declarations, relatively little will happen in the area of legislation to protect anybody. Low-paid workers are identified as a cause of concern.
There is widespread belief within Europe that when the word “citizen” was removed from the charter the poor, the underprivileged and the sick had been forgotten by Europe because this means that any action programme arising from the Social Charter will address the concerns of employees only. The Labour Party made a submission to the Irish Presidency about this. We stated the Irish  Presidency could mean either a lot or very little in this area. It could mean a lot if Irish Ministers would take the lead in showing that we are serious about the Social Charter.
We are part of the Socialist Group in the European Parliament. This is the largest group, whereas the Minister's group is a nonentity. Our group have political clout in the Parliament and in the Commission to spur the Council of Ministers into action in this area. The Social Charter as agreed between the European heads of Government is a grave disappointment to us in the Labour Party. If the Industrial Relations Commission is not in operation and if the Social Charter is to be continually diminished we could have industrial unrest not only in Ireland but throughout Europe.
We have already submitted our specific proposals in this area. We hope that during his Presidency the Minister will address the action programme. I understand that the special commission that the Minister is setting up will probably consider the questions of minimum pay, employment, remuneration, the improvement of living standards and working conditions, the free movement of workers from one country to another, the right of workers to association and collective bargaining, their entitlement to information, consultation, participation and equal treatment, vocational training, health and safety at work, the protection of children and adolescents who are dependent on working people. We must not forget the elderly and the disabled who are dependent on those who are working. In introducing its programme, the Commission pointed out some of its achievements in trying to bring about this social dimension but, as I have said, the Council of Ministers have got their hands on it and as a result some of the legislation that would improve the conditions of workers is a long way down the road. We are calling on the Minister not to lose any opportunities in this most important area for this small, influential, neutral country which has a good record of industrial  relations and I think also has a good Minister for Labour. I ask the Minister to try to convince and change the minds of more conservative Ministers for Labour on industrial relations, but if the Minister fails it will mean that the new commission will have to work day and night to try to overcome some of the problems that may arise if we do not have equal rights for all people throughout Europe.
If we compare the living standards of different countries in Europe and express average income in dollars, as 85 per cent of the world's trade is done in dollars, in Denmark they have approximately $20,000; Germany $18,500, the United Kingdom $12,000 while in Ireland it is $8,500. We have some way to go to make up this gap. Industry will have problems because we are on the periphery. In fact, when Britain completes the connecting link of the Channel tunnel to the Continent we will be the only country in Europe without immediate access to the marketplace. We will still be a day behind everybody else. Even taking into account the Structural Funds that will flow to us we will not be able to address our industrial problems. If employers have problems, likewise their employees will have problems. The Barlo company is a typical example of what can and will happen other industries who may find it more beneficial to leave Ireland and set up in mainland Europe. The Department of Industry and Commerce and the IDA must address this problem. The Minister for Labour who is responsible for the 850,000 workers will have to ensure that their livelihood and future is protected and that they have the constitutional right to work within Ireland and that they do not have to emigrate to follow their employers. It is a reverse of our industrial policy of tax incentives, corporation tax, and repatriation of profits, if we allow industrialists in this country the benefit of relocating in England. We have responsibility to them as employers and if their future is protected their employees' future will also be protected.
The trade union movement have been a responsible body. They have not their  head in the sand and they are prepared to sit down, negotiate terms and stick by them. If this proposal to set up a new type of commission is successful and addresses some of these problems, without disturbing the important role of the Labour Court and its institutions, whose work in the past we appreciate, this agency with proper funding and staffing can make a useful contribution and can be seen to be progressive.
The Minister will know that many major reforms in labour legislation only took place when the Labour Party were in Government as in 1973-77 and in the eighties. We were instrumental in bringing in legislation to protect the rights of employees when employers became insolvent. We brought in legislation retrospectively because some employees would have lost their pension rights to which they had contributed. We have been as progressive as possible in the area of labour law and industrial relations. I wish the Minister luck in his attempt to continue that legislative programme that will bring our workers and their representatives into the nineties. We cannot remain with British law of the 1900s and consider ourselves progressive. The sands of time are moving under all of us and 1992 will be the time of the quick-sands. If we are unable to compete and adjust to 1992 it is obvious we will miss the boat. The only way we can transport goods by container to the European market is by boat, so the Irish Sea is very important. We need to address the problem of still having to cross the sea while everybody else will be able to get to the market the day before us. We want to ensure that the trade unions, workers employers, Government and everybody else concerned are adjusted to what will be difficult times for all of us. If we are not positive in areas of legislation such as this, we will have done a disservice to those who elected us, to those whom we represent and indeed to the Minister in the House who has achieved a fine balance in preparing this legislation.
If the legislation had gone one way or  the other there would have been dissatisfaction; indeed the employers may be a little bit dissatisfied. I think that is natural but if the 55,000 employers and the 185,000 self-employed are balanced against the number of people working, that is 850,000, there should be a discrimination in favour of the workers who in difficult times acted responsibly and the least they can expect is to share in some of the wealth created and in the improvement in the economy in better times. I think the Government will take that into account in setting up and staffing the industrial relations committee. I wish it well. We will be tabling some amendments as has been outlined by Deputy T. O'Sullivan. However, we will act responsibly, and I hope the Minister will respond positively to any suggestions that we may make in the very important area of labour relations.
Mr. Browne: (Carlow-Kilkenny): Cuirim fáilte roimh an mBille seo fé mar a chuir an chuid is mó de na cainteoirí a labhair cheana.
Tá sé thar a bheith tábhachtach go mbeadh cothrom na Féinne ag gach éinne in ionaid oibre agus táim cinnte go ndéan-faidh an Bille seo tréan-iarracht ar dheachrachtaí a chur ar leataobh. Os rud é go gcaitheann formhór na ndaoine an chuid is mó dá saol ag obair, tá sé riachtanach go mbeadh saol saor ó chruatas acu. Sa tslí chéanna tá sé tábhachtach go mbeadh saol tairbheach ag na fostóirí atá ag cur postanna ar fáil do na daoine sin.
Before I go on to deal with my observations on the Bill. I assure the Minister he is fortunate to be a Minister in 1990 rather than in 1878. Through the courtesy of an absentminded colleague I have in front of me the public General Acts passed in the 41st and 42nd years of the reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria which I have been reading while listening to the debate. I wonder if the Labour Relations Commission could perhaps consider whether the Second Stage of Bills should go on for as long as they do, and I am not casting aspersions on the last speaker. The procedure for dealing with Second Stage of Bills here is due for  an overhaul and perhaps the commission would consider proposing 15 minutes to 20 minutes per speaker and after that imposing a surcharge. Anyway, reading through the volume before me I found that in relation to child employment the Factory and Workshops Act, 1878, says at section 14, paragraph (5.):
(5.) When a child is employed on the alternate day system—
(a.) The period of employment for such child shall, except on Saturday, either begin at six o'clock in the morning and end at six o'clock in the evening, or begin at seven o'clock in the morning and end at seven o'clock in the evening; and
The Act goes on further to define a child as being a person under the age of 14, except in Ireland where they make an exception in that a child can be under ten, and they include a clause that a nine-year-old can be regarded as a ten-year-old. We could accept that as being a compliment and that Irish boys were tough men when they were children, but it is amazing what has happened to improve things since.
This Act goes on further at section 22 in relation to holidays to say that the occupier of a factory will give:
(1.) The whole of Christmas Day, and the whole either of Good Friday or, if it is so specified by the occupier in the notice affixed in the factory or workshop, of the next public holiday under the Holidays Extension Act, 1875; and in addition.
(2.) Eight half holidays in every year, but a whole holiday may be allowed in lieu of any two such half holidays; and
(3.) At least half of the said half holidays or whole holidays shall be allowed between the fifteenth day of March and the first day of October in every year; and
What really caught my eye in this Act is where it says at section 56:
The regulations of this Act with  respect to the employment of young persons and women shall not prevent the employment, in the factories and workshops and parts thereof to which this exception applies, of women during a period of employment beginning at six o'clock in the morning and ending at eight o'clock in the evening, or beginning at seven o'clock in the morning and ending at nine o'clock in the evening, if they are employed in accordance with the following conditions; namely,
(1.) There shall be allowed to every such woman for meals during the period of employment not less than two hours, of which half an hour shall be after five o'clock in the evening; and
That was very kind of them as I suppose some of them could have dropped dead at the workplace. We have come a long way since then and it is good that we are living in 1990.
Minister for Labour (Mr. B. Ahern): They would have thanked me had I negotiated a 39 hour week for them then.
Mr. Browne: (Carlow-Kilkenny): They would have thanked you for anything.
Mr. B. Ahern: Now I got a 39-hour week for everybody and nobody says thanks; they say it is ten hours too long.
Mr. Browne: (Carlow-Kilkenny): The Minister is not dealing with machinery without covers and so on, so there are many things the Minister can be thankful for. It is important to have good relations in the workplace, it is important for both the workers and the employers whose money is invested in the enterprise. Good relations make life happy for all concerned, just as bad relations make life a hell for those involved. For that reason I very much welcome the setting up of the Labour Relations Commission whose main work will be to promote good industrial relations by encouraging a more active approach to the prevention of disputes, their resolution and drawing up codes of practice. Prevention is better  than cure, no more so than when we talk about industrial relations. It is far better to prevent a strike than to solve one.
In the past, strikes often took place because reasonable discussion could not take place and the strike weapon was all that was left. Sometimes strike action was adopted too quickly by workers but there were faults on all sides. The Labour Relations Commission will play a leading role in setting a better tone in the work-place.
The number of strikes here reached the lowest point in 1989 since statistics began in 1922 and the Minister has played his role in that. That is good and perhaps the fact that the number of unions decreased from 95 in 1970 to 69 today helped in this improvement. I am glad there has been a decrease in the number of unions. This will add to sanity in the workplace.
The figures given of the breakdown in union membership are revealing, showing that 18 unions have fewer than 500 members each. Worse still, as many as 51 unions represent only 15 per cent of the workforce. While we do not want a monster trade union with too much power, for the sake of service to members and to avoid rivalry, we should welcome the amalgamation of smaller unions.
I am glad the Minister has dealt with the 1906 Act. As a member of the INTO in other years I found this Act one of the sticking points where they were concerned. I am glad the teacher unions are also planning amalgamation. It was absurd that a group of people involved with education, although in different sectors, should be categorised even in the Department in separate boxes with no continuity between the sections. For example, at primary level we have a child-centred curriculum but there is no continuation into secondary level. The same holds for the unions there. We had the INTO dealing with primary level and the ASTI and the TUI dealing with secondary level and so on. It is a pity so many years were spent in rivalry, wasting time when the unions dealing with education should be together. I welcome the amalgamation proposal and hope it  comes to fruition later this year. The amalgamation will benefit union members, the Department of Education and students at all levels. It would be nice to see the university people coming in as well, as they often dictate what is happening in education.
I welcome the introduction of the secret ballot. This may help to get a calmer decision in the event of a strike. Open voting can compel the weak-willed to fall into line against their better judgment. All one has to do to know that is watch open air meetings on television where people are brow-beaten into accepting the will of the speaker. Everybody has a view and they should stick to it but often it is not so easy in a public session. For that reason I welcome the secret ballot.
The additional power that will be given to the unions if they amalgamate and become very strong will have to be handled carefully. In the present climate of sensible industrial relations I do not see the need to worry too much about that. It would be a pity if the strengthening of the trade unions led to disputes.
We are facing a new Europe with eastern Europe changing and Germany coming together. We will have more competition and our goods will have to compete pricewise and in quality. Anything this Bill can do to help people produce better goods and be more competitive is welcome. We need the best because, is ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine agus is ár scáth a chéile a mhaireann lucht gnó na tíre seo.
Mr. Cotter: I should like to spend a little time examining the background to the presentation of the Bill and to enumerate our priorities which would put it in a different perspective. For example, the national consensus has been very unfair to certain categories of employees. Some people, through their daily work, create relatively large wealth but, because of the consensus, they do not share in it.
The Bill contains quite a number of good provisions but the inability to share  in wealth creates unhappiness and discontent in some quarters. Workers have lost heart and feel discriminated against because they do not share in the wealth they have created. How often do we meet people who carefully assess their income to make sure that they will not move into a higher tax band? At present people who move from the 30 per cent band to the 48 per cent band get a terrible shock when they receive less than 50 per cent of their income. How often do we meet people who say that they refuse to do overtime because it is not worth anything to them? Those examples give an indication of the desperate problems in the economy, when it is not worth a person's while to go to work. These problems should be given priority.
Are we aware of the lack of competitiveness across the economy which adds about 20 per cent to the cost of the products in our shops? The costs involved in telephones, postage, electricity and transport — and indeed the way we carry out our business generally—are all terribly out of line and attacking them would make the best possible contribution to labour relations.
Another priority should be to trap the innovative instincts of our youth because every day we are losing their wonderful energy and the challenge to the status quo, which are their hallmarks. We are losing these people in huge proportions to those left behind and, as a result, our economy is showing signs of stagnation.
The improvement in productivity and the export boom have largely taken place on the backs of our poorly paid workforce. Indeed, that is my experience. I am sure the Minister is aware that many of our people work for paltry wages and some of them would prefer the dole queue—and indeed opt for it because it gives a better return. It is shameful that this is the case but luckily, many workers prefer a day's work to the dole queue. Sadly, however, many of these people are very badly treated. It is a dreadful situation and has led to the poverty trap. When there is no reward for work it is time to think of solutions and putting this right is the best contribution we can make  to labour relations. My experience is that the imbalance in the economy and the number of people unemployed have led to the diminution of wages to a level which is unbelievable. One could say that it is Victorian, as mentioned by Deputy Browne. One can really blame the employer because he will buy and sell at the best price he can get, and this is what is happening.
The consensus of the social partners is not helping the people who are at the bottom of the heap. They are suffering most and have the least ability to put the problems right through their own intervention. There is an increasing number of these people and if this Bill succeeds in creating better labour relations it may lead to the creation of more wealth, some of which, I hope, will be channelled in the direction of the people to whom I referred.
I hope that the Minister will redouble his efforts to get his colleagues to address these terrible problems. Many of us feel that the approach up to now has not been innovative enough. Many of us also feel that sections of the economy need to be turned on their heads, but this is not happening. I hope that the Minister, as one of the younger men in the Cabinet, will stop the flood of energy, innovation and challenge to the status quo which is vanishing from our country every day. I also hope that there will be better conditions for people at work.
The Bill promises a number of improvements in the area of labour relations. I have not had an opportunity of going through it in detail, but if it achieves the promotion of harmonious relations between workers and employers it will have made a contribution. The trade union movement will be looking very carefully at the Bill to see if there is a trend towards what happened in England. The trade union ability to defend their workforce was heavily eroded there and the Government decided that they would take on trade unions just to browbeat them. They wanted to create a situation where the economy would improve as a result of the diminution of the protection of the ordinary worker. I hope  that no element of that will be included in this legislation. I welcome the Bill. I believe, at a glance, it will offer a contribution to the way workers combine to protect themselves. It will help to create better relations and a more orderly way of dealing with problems as they arise. For that reason we will be watching the Bill with interest as it goes through the House.
Mr. Gilmore: The Bill which we are now debating is likely to be the principal legislation which will guide industrial relations and trade unions into the next century. It comes at a time when the consequences of the new technological revolution are having a major impact on the nature and availability of work, when employment and emigration are high and when the balance of bargaining power is already tilted towards the employer.
The Bill is a response for industrial relations reform. In his introduction to the Bill, the Minister claimed that industrial relations are now good, by which I think he meant that industrial relations are quiet, that there is not much evidence of industrial action and that there are very few strikes. However, quiet industrial relations are not necessarily the same as good industrial relations. Industrial relations can be very bad over a long period in an employment where no strike occurs or indeed where the employees are not even members of a trade union. Some of the worst industrial relations which I have seen existed in employment before the staff joined a trade union, where the staff were dissatisfied, where the employer was unsympathetic, perhaps even hostile to their demands, and where there was no vehicle for the expression of their grievances. Some of the worst industrial relations problems in this country have occurred in situations where workers did not necessarily want to go on strike at all but where the normal day-to-day relations between the workers and their employers were so bad that there was an explosion of sorts.
The same can happen when you attempt to control industrial relations by  very rigid agreements. Great emphasis has been laid in the course of this debate on the Programme for National Recovery and the desirability of long agreements. My party welcomed the Programme for National Recovery when it was announced because we felt it was a vehicle through which the trade union movement had won significant concessions from Governments, but we would want to be very cautious about our enthusiasm for long agreements. Long agreements may well have the effect of keeping industrial relations quiet but that may not necessarily mean that industrial relations are good, if the agreement has the effect of suppressing demands of workers and suppressing the expression of those demands through collective bargaining.
I think it is fair to say that some of the worst industrial relations problems in this country arose because agreements were too rigid, in come cases pre-employment agreements where workers felt they did not have a say in the agreement, that the terms of it were too restrictive and that it did not allow them to process their grievances. Agreements which do not allow strikes and which do not allow the processing of agreements by workers can often have the very opposite effect to what was intended. Long agreements can simply suppress industrial relations problems to a point where they eventually explode. In my view, good industrial relations are active industrial relations, a relationship between the employer and the employee which is dynamic, which is constantly changing and cannot be wrapped into some kind of package.
The Bill seems to concentrate too much on the resolution of conflict rather than allowing workers to express their rights and allowing for freedom of collective bargaining. I welcome the provisions in the Bill which are aimed at legislating for codes of practice but even within those sections it seems that again the emphasis is on the dispute and the resolution of disputes. In discussing industrial relations, too often we can  become too carried away with and concentrate too much on the whole area of strikes.
We have to recognise that the composition of the workforce is changing, that the typical unionisable workforce is no longer the large IDA-style factory perhaps with a pre-employment agreement which allows for a closed shop membership of trade unions or indeed the large public sector employment. Very often these days in the typical employment, particularly if it is a large employer in the new industries, there may well be a certain degree of hostility to trade union organisations either because the employer is taking a very paternalistic approach to the human resource management within the company or because there is overt hostility to the unionisation of the workforce. The same is the case with contract and part-time workers to whose unionisation there has been considerable resistance.
In small employments very often workers are virtually intimidated into not joining a trade union. Some of the worst instances of exploitation of workers occur in small employments and small offices. For example, solicitors' offices feature quite often in the exploitation of workers. Because those employments are small and reasonably intimate it is very difficult for a worker to break out and join a trade union. There is a very intense relationship in those employments which prevent the worker from joining a trade union, expressing their grievance and having it resolved. Those situations do not show up in the strike statistics in the Department of Labour but yet they are examples of poor industrial relations within particular employments.
One of the provisions which is required in an industrial relations Bill is that which enables workers to join a trade union and to process their grievances. Workers have a constitutional right to join a trade union but we have to look at how that right is being protected. The only legislation I can find which upholds the constitutional right of a worker to join a trade union is the Unfair Dismissals Act. In that case, the onus is on the employee  to prove that, for example, there is a dismissal for reason of joining a trade union or for trade union activity. That is something which is virtually impossible to prove. It seems there is a need for a provision in this Bill which would make it illegal for an employer to discourage a worker from joining a trade union and that is something on which my party intend to introduce an amendment on Committee Stage.
There should be a positive right built into the new Industrial Relations Bill which would give legislative backing to the constitutional right that already exists for workers to join a trade union. It is a very difficult area. It is one thing to provide complex structures for the resolution of disputes all of which assume that workers are organised in the first place and that there is a relationship between the worker and the employer which will allow for the resolution of the dispute. The pressures that can be put on a worker to prevent him or her joining a trade union can often be very subtle. I have come across cases where workers with many grievances wanted to join a trade union but were simply terrified about doing so in case their employer found out about it. There have been cases where I, as a trade union official, had to take people into membership of the union and virtually guarantee them confidentiality, that their employer would never hear about it and that nobody else would hear about it, so that they would not be got at in any way. That is something which in the interests of good industrial relations will have to be resolved in the Bill.
There is another matter which has to be addressed, the question of employers recognising trade unions. It is all very well to have legislation which deals with the resolution of the conflict at the stage where a strike takes place. Many strikes take place because the employer will not talk to the trade union in the first place. There is a necessity to deal with that problem. If we want good industrial relations there will have to be an obligation on employer and employee to talk to each other. The Bill, and existing industrial relations law, certainly put the  onus on the employee to use all the procedures before engaging in a strike. However, there has to be an onus on the employer to deal with the trade union.
I recognise that the failure of many workers to join a trade union is not entirely due to the attitudes of the employers. Some workers have an unbelievably cavalier attitude to their own contracts of employment. Nobody in their right mind would enter into a contract to buy a house without first having the house looked over, having the terms of the contract examined by a solicitor and without getting insurance to ensure that nothing will happen to the house. The same would happen if a person was buying a car and yet daily many workers enter into contracts of employment, sometimes for substantial salaries, without either checking what is involved in the contract of employment, getting some advice on it or taking steps to ensure that the contract of employment is going to be protected. I have come across many cases where workers found themselves with fixed-term contracts of employment and they did not understand, had not read it or sought advice at the time they entered into the contract of employment to realise that there was a concluding date on the contract.
Some workers consider themselves too good to join a trade union. They think the trade union organisation is beneath them. Any worker who does not seriously contemplate joining a trade union at the point where they are taking up employment is very foolish. There is a need to address the question of trade union education, particularly in our schools. I have come across many cases where young workers had the most bizarre impression of what trade unions were all about. Some people when they join a trade union think the first thing that will happen to them is that they will be asked to carry a picket board. They do not have any understanding about the nature of trade union organisation, the nature of its day-to-day work or the nature of the ongoing negotiations that take place between trade unions and employers.  That will have to be built into the whole process of education.
The Bill is not extending any new rights to workers although some of its provisions are welcome such as the provision in relation to ex parte injunctions and the provision in relation to codes of practice for conduct of industrial relations. I am concerned that in Part II the rights of workers may well be limited where they find themselves in a dispute. A number of matters concern me about this. First, there is the definition of worker which specifically excludes contracts for service. In the kind of working environment we find ourselves, where the traditional 40-hour week full-time pensionable job for life is no longer as common as it used to be, and where new forms of employment contract are being entered into with many workers entering into contracts for service, to exclude contracts for service in the definition of worker at this stage as we approach a new century needs to be looked at.
The definition of employer is quite worrying. It seems to me that it would preclude a dispute with a previous employer. For example, let us take the case of a dispute in a factory where as a result of that dispute, the factory closes down. Suppose that dispute was about entitlement to work in that factory and the owner of the factory sold the concern to somebody else but the new owner decided he did not want any of the people who were previously employed, it seems to me that under the definition of employer in the Bill those workers would not have the right to pursue a dispute with that employer.
An Ceann Comhairle: I hesitate to interrupt the Deputy but he seems to be going into a lot of detail that should more appropriately be left to the Committee Stage of the Bill.
Mr. Gilmore: I am trying to avoid going into detail.
An Ceann Comhairle: That is not my impression.
Mr. Gilmore: It is difficult to deal with the Bill without referring to what is contained in it. I have spent some time dealing in general terms with the state of industrial relations and I have moved on to deal with the provisions of the Bill. I do not intend to overly detain the House on this but I do not think it is possible to address the Bill without referring to what is in it.
The definition of “industrial action” refers to all industrial action. That is significant because later in the Bill where there are provisions for the balloting of members in connection with strikes or industrial action, it refers to all industrial action. That has implications. For example, does that mean that there must be a ballot for a ban on overtime? A company may not have an official requirement for workers to work overtime but over a period of time the practice of overtime working has continued and if the workers decide to withdraw that practice as part of their action will that mean that a ballot will be required? The definition of a strike confines such action to matters relating to conditions of employment. Would the Dunnes Stores strike qualify under that definition? I am sure the lawyers would spend some time debating whether the strike at Dunnes Stores was about apartheid in South Africa or about the condition of work of the employees. We are about to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the great tax marches and I should like to know if this definition of “strike” would cover workers who took industrial action in support of a general trade union demand for tax reform? It seems to me that the courts would have some difficulty defining and dealing with the detail of what is in this Bill.
I am concerned also about picketing. It seems that picketing is to be confined to their own company. Only a trade union official can accompany somebody who is engaged in picketing. In many disputes where picketing is required, such as in a small firm, there would not be enough workers to sustain a picket and the picket would have to be augmented by, perhaps, workers from another employment or  from the same branch of the union. Is that prohibited under this Bill? The all out picket appears to be gone under this Bill. I would like to know if the Minister has consulted the Congress of Trade Unions about this because the abolition of the all out picket would greatly undermine the strength and the authority of congress.
Considerable emphasis has been laid on the requirement for trade unions to have ballots for strike action. It is important for us to realise that balloting cuts two ways. It would be desirable that there should be a provision in the Bill dealing with balloting on agreements. If workers are to be bound by agreements and if there are disputes on those agreements then it is important that there should be a ballot on those agreements. I appreciate that in most cases that is what happens in practice — in the case of strikes secret ballots are conducted. I recall the renegotiation of a public service agreement a couple of years ago which was not put to a ballot of trade union members, yet trade union members would be expected to honour the terms of the renegotiated version of that agreement. This is a matter we will have to return to on Committee Stage.
It is important that the Bill would have a provision which would require the results of ballots to be made known to the trade union members. That is being built into the Bill in relation to strike ballots; there is a requirement that the results of that ballot be made known to members. The results of ballots on agreements or national agreements between employers and employees should be made known to the members of trade unions. Some concern was expressed at the time of the negotiation of the present Programme for National Recovery. One trade union, in their enthusiasm to support the Programme for National Recovery, extended the period for the balloting of their members and did not release the results of that ballot to the members concerned. If the results of ballots are to be made known to trade union members, that should be done right across the board and it should be done consistently. If  there is a ballot on an agreement the trade union members have a right to know the result of that ballot. They also have a right to a breakdown of that ballot result on a branch by branch basis. The balloting provision should be extended. I intend to return to this matter on Committee Stage and to talk about in greater detail.
Part III deals with the establishment of new structures for industrial relations. I am a little concerned about that that Part of the Bill may have the effect of undermining the role and authority of the Labour Court. At present the Labour Court have the power to intervene in a dispute but as I read the Bill, that power is now being removed from the Labour Court and the only power to intervene in a dispute will be through the Minister. I think that would have the effect of undermining the independence and authority of the court. It would also have the unwitting effect of, perhaps, politicising the resolution of disputes.
One could well foresee that a Minister for Labour — I would exclude the present Minister from this remark — might be attracted by the prospect of being seen publicly as a fixer of disputes and might intervene in disputes in a way which could be counterproductive. That is primarily a role for the Labour Court. The Labour Court have exercised the role judiciously and with considerable effect in the past. A relationship has built up between trade unions, the employer organisations and the court and there is an understanding on the point at which the Labour Court can usefully intervene in a dispute. It is regrettable that that power seems to be removed from the court.
I am not entirely convinced of the wisdom of removing the conciliation service from the aegis of the Labour Court. The conciliation service of the Labour Court has stood industrial relations very well. I would have nothing but the highest of praise for the conciliation service. Some conciliation officers have used their positions more effectively than others but, by and large, the conciliation service of the Labour Court have done an  extremely good job. It was a framework through which trade union officials, personnel managers, FIE and CIF officials could have direct contact with the conciliation service and build up a relationship with particular conciliation officers which facilitated the resolution of disputes. Very often the conciliation service had a better grasp of the reasons for the dispute and had a better understanding of what was involved than the Labour Court when the dispute came before it for a recommendation. I would be concerned that the separation of the conciliation service from the Labour Court would give rise to a situation where the Labour Court might make recommendations which would not be understandable to either party in the dispute. There have been some examples in the past where the Labour Court have made recommendations with which neither the employer nor the employee side were happy. In a limited number of cases this had the effect of exacerbating the dispute rather than resolving it.
There is one aspect of the Industrial Relations Commission about which I am not entirely happy: this is, where they would be providing an industrial relations advisory service. The Minister needs to clarify what exactly that means. Does it mean that the new Industrial Relations Commission will be providing some kind of a service on industrial relations to employers whose employees are not unionised and where those employers, on occasion, may have resisted the unionisation of the employees?
I am a little concerned that the status of the Rights Commissioners, coming under the commission, may be reduced. We have had the experience where some Rights Commissioners have held the status, almost of national institutions. It was that status that enabled them to be treated with considerable respect by both workers and employers and enabled them to facilitate the resolution of disputes. Rights Commissioners who would, under this legislation, essentially be functionaries of the Industrial Relations Commission might not have the same status.
 Debate adjourned.
Mr. Barry: I move:
(1) That it is expedient that a Committee of both Houses of the Oireachtas (which shall be called the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs) consisting of 13 Members of Dáil Éireann and four Members of Seanad Éireann be established.
(2) That the joint committee shall
(a) consider such aspects of the Government's Foreign Policy and, in particular, the Government's Official Development Assistance to developing countries as the joint committee may select; and
(b) oversee the activities and expenditure of the Department of Foreign Affairs
and shall report annually thereon to both Houses of the Oireachtas; and may make such other reports thereon from time to time as it thinks fit.
(3) That the joint committee shall have power to appoint sub-committees and to delegate any matter comprehended by paragraph (2) of this Resolution to a sub-committee.
(4) That every report which the joint committee proposes to name shall, on adoption by the joint committee, be laid before both Houses of the Oireachtas forthwith, whereupon the joint committee shall be empowered to print and publish such report, together with such related documents as it thinks fit.
(5) That provision be made for the appointment of substitutes to act for members of the joint committee who are unable to attend particular meetings.
(6) That the joint committee,  previous to the commencement of business, shall elect one of its members, who shall be a member of the Opposition, to be Chairman; and that the Chairman shall have only one vote.
(7) That all questions in the joint committee shall be determined by a majority of votes of the members present and voting and in the event of there being an equality of votes the question shall be decided in the negative.
(8) That the joint committee shall have power to send for persons, papers and records and, subject to the consent of the Minister for Finance, shall have power to engage persons to advise it for the purpose of particular inquiries.
(9) That the Chairman shall, at the request in writing of a member of the Government or of not less than five members of the Joint Committee, summon the joint committee to meet specially.
(10) That six members of the joint committee shall form a quorum, of whom at least one shall be a Member of Dáil Éireann and at least one shall be a Member of Seanad Éireann.
I should like to draw the attention of the House to a printing error on the first line of paragraph (4) which states: “That every report which the Joint Committee proposes to name...”. The word “name” should read “make”. With the permission of the House, I should like to share my 40 minutes with Deputy Nora Owen.
An Ceann Comhairle: Is that agreed? Agreed.
Mr. Barry: The effectiveness and very notion of representation by this House is undermined by the fact that it is the least developed Legislature in the European Community. It is notable that Ireland is the only country in Europe which does not have a foreign affairs committee of its Legislature. When the Taoiseach was  commenting to the House on his visit to Washington last week he said he had met with the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Houses of Congress. It is notable that we have no such committee despite the rapid and profound changes which are taking place throughout the world in Central America, Africa, the Far East, the Middle East and in central and eastern Europe where perhaps the most dramatic changes are taking place.
These changes require us to radically reassess our foreign policy and to identify new strategies and priorities. In many ways the changes taking place are like a massive wave hitting a wall and the wash from that wave will engulf us all if we do not look at how we can protect ourselves from what is happening, particularly in central and eastern Europe. There must be some mechanism through which discussion and policy formulation can be influenced. It is ironic that foreign policy can be discussed by almost every group, for example, debating societies in universities, county councils and at Árd Fheiseanna but it cannot be discussed by this House. At the Fine Gael Árd Fheis last weekend we had a lengthy debate on foreign affairs. This issue was also raised frequently during the questions and answers session conducted by the leader of our party, Deputy Alan Dukes. This issue is discussed at the Árd Fheiseanna of every party in this House. I am sure that the spokesmen on foreign affairs of all parties, people who have an interest in foreign affairs, the Minister, Deputy Collins and the Minister of State, Deputy Calleary, are frequently asked to debate matters of foreign policy in virtually every university from here to Moscow. Yet, it is ironic that we do not have any committee of this House through which we can debate such matters.
The committees of this House which operate at present are unsatisfactory. These committees are both understaffed and underfinanced. If we want to have a genuine Parliament we will have to totally restructure our committee system so that they are properly staffed and financed. I am chairman of the Oireachtas  Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities. The number of staff allocated to run that committee is inadequate and the amount of money is paltry and totally insufficient to meet the needs of the committee, particularly at a time when Europe is looming larger for us. Because the committee system is so underdeveloped, the Dáil has to do business in plenary sessions which could more properly be dealt with at committee level.
We have not yet developed a means through which the Members of the European Parliament can report on developments in the European Community. A committee system could facilitate the reporting of these developments and also provide a forum for discussion between MEPs and TDs. A delegation from our committee went to Strasbourg and Brussels a fortnight ago and we hosted the corresponding committee from the House of Commons here. We also met many MEPs in Strasbourg and Brussels. All these people complained that an effective method of transferring knowledge from the European Parliament to the national Parliaments or having the views of the national Parliaments debated in the European Parliament had not been thought out or put in place in any part of the Community. I believe this is part of what has been referred to recently as the “democratic deficit”. Contact at this level will be even more crucial and of greater importance when the integration of the Community takes place.
The setting up of a committee on foreign affairs is long overdue. I believe Fianna Fáil are most to blame in this respect. The Progressive Democrats, the Workers' Party, The Labour Party and Fine Gael are all in favour of such a committee. I was not an enthusiastic supporter of such a committee previously but because of the rapid rate of change during the past few years, and particularly within the past 12 months, I now believe it is essential that we in this House should be able to debate foreign affair matters with the Minister, or the Minister of State if the Minister is not available, in such a  committee. If such a committee is not set up we will be sadly lacking in any effective overseeing role of foreign affairs.
The question is whether we are serious about our foreign policy, our representative democracy and whether we want to play a constructive and dynamic role in international relations. I think every Member of this House recognises the need for an effective mechanism through which we could discuss the fundamental changes taking place in the world. If we do not have such a mechanism we will be neither representative nor effective. The European Community will have to be restructured to accommodate the new situation in central and eastern Europe. We must be at the frontier of change in order to contribute to the peaceful and progressive development of Europe. There are many complex questions which need to be addressed in this regard: the form the unification of the two Germanys will take and how the European Community will deal with applications for membership from central European emergent democracies. We will need to have well thought out and distinct positions about these matters and not half-baked pious aspirations.
It is no use pretending the unification of Germany will have no effect on the Community. The Minister for Finance said rather naively this morning that he is going to insist on EC funding for Irish needs in the future. I am sure the Federal Republic of Germany has every intention of living up to its commitments to the European Community in the future as it has done in the past, but it would be silly to pretend that the elections on 18 March next — I believe the East German community will vote to join the West German community — will have no effect on the Community as a whole. There is bound to be a switch of emphasis. It will be a government of a much bigger Germany after the Federal elections at the end of the year. The opportunities for investment in eastern Europe and in particular East Germany, which will be available to West German business people and institutions may be far more attractive than opportunities in the present Community  and the peripheral regions. We need to examine our position in order to ensure that our allocation from the Structural Funds will not diminish or that we will not have to contribute to an enlarged budget.
It appears to me at this stage that the two Germanys will unite and that the cost of that unification will be huge initially, but not exclusively, on the Federal Republic. I am not talking only about the cost in terms of the transfer of resources but the cost to the rest of the Community by the assault on the strongest currency in the European Community by imported inflation and the knock-on effect of that. I do not think any thought is being given to this question in this country. Obviously I am not privy to what is going on in Government but I do not believe any thought is being given to it by the ESRI, the Confederation of Irish Industry, the FUE and trade union councils. I would have expected them to be continually knocking at the door of Government demanding to know what contingency plans the Government have made in this regard and whether the danger of this is recognised. I am not talking about the danger of what some former war opponents of Germany may feel about the unification of Germany because I do not consider that a threat, even though I understand some former opponents in war might see that as a threat. Chancellor Kohl's statement today that the Polish border is not up for negotiation in any sense, nor is it to be bargained for in any sense, should allay some of those fears.
Unification, however, is a threat in the sense that strong nationalistic feeling among Germans is bound to influence the thinking of a Government in a united Germany. The necessity to transfer funds to emerging democracies in eastern Europe, such as Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia is a huge problem. All of these will need financial support and that must come from the existing budget or an enlarged budget will have to be contributed by us. I still believe that the importance of the Community, its magnificent success over the past 30 years and particularly in the past  few years when it has fixed its mind on the Single European Act and bringing about an internal market by the end of 1992, was a major trigger to the emergence of democracy in eastern Europe. Those countries who are now rushing towards liberal democratic societies in eastern Europe saw clearly on their television screens the difference between the quality of life they had and the standard of living which was available to people in the European Community and that is what encouraged them to throw of the shackles of totalitarianism and to embrace democracy.
All this will have an effect on us. There is a document which indicates what the Group of 24 have in the last few months put into the emerging European Communities — food aid to Poland has totalled £320 million ECU; an initial sectoral programme for the protection of products worth up to 50 million ECU is under consideration by the Community's counterpart fund. The Community has granted to Hungary £1 billion medium-term structural adjustment loans. Operation implementation commended by the European Investment Bank is under way. The Community envisages making loans from the European Coal and Steel Community of two million ECUs to Poland and Hungary.
All these very necessary investments in eastern Europe will have another effect on the Community in as much as many of these countries are producers of agricultural goods, potatoes, vegetables, beef — all the products which are at present in surplus in the Community and which Ireland, in particular, is a producer of to a large degree and is at present exporting to the Community. Many of these products are subsidised by the Common Agricultural Policy. They will all be under threat from this new wave of imports, supported by EC funds, coming into a European Community that is already overloaded with some of these products. These things are bound to have an effect on the economy of this country but there does not appear to be any  effort, in Government circles, to grapple with the problem.
The number of applicants for membership of the Community, leaving aside Austria, Turkey, Malta and Cyprus who are applicant countries, will increase if we think of the possibility that the EFTA countries may want to join, many because the world has changed in the last few months. If the Community cannot come to an agreement with EFTA, they will have all the economic benefits without any of the social obligations and that is a lesson that will be learned by members of the European Community. I do not know how this will be worked out, but it does appear possible that we will have Germany not part of NATO in the Community and there will be huge security problems for NATO. I do not think it is possible to have a neutral Germany. Therefore, there are many knock-on effects in the security field and whether we are a member of NATO or not they will have some effect on this country. Again, there has been no thought given to this. We will have Poland applying for membership, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria. If Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania all vote for independence from the Soviet Union, if it is possible for them to politically cut their ties with the Soviet Union, will they apply for membership? Will Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland apply?
The institution of the Community cannot deal with that kind of influx even over a period of ten years. Again, to quote President Delors who first used the expression six months ago, the Community is not democratised in the proper way to handle these matters. The institutions cannot handle them. The Commission is itself a 17 member Commission which is not elected but appointed. The Council of Ministers is 12 at the moment; it could reach up to 13. A body like that cannot run the Community and I cannot see any attempt being made either by Government or in the Community to highlight these problems or, more important, to deal with them. Nothing that has been said in this House by members of the Government shows  that they are even aware these problems exist. I am not privy to what is happening in Government, and maybe there is a whole team of experts working away in the Departments of Foreign Affairs, of the Taoiseach and of Finance dealing with all these matters.
If the Members of this House could be assured that such was happening, it would allay the fears of many here about what is actually being done to deal with the future of the European Community, to deal with the problems that have arisen in Central America with the change of Government in Nicaragua; about whether the Cambodian Agreement can be made to stick or whether the breakdown in talks there is only temporary and, as one Minister said, is about peripheral issues or whether it genuinely needs a push from the UN to get it going again; what is happening in the Middle East and whether the American and Egyptian Governments persuade the Israeli Government to come and talk with PLO members at the table. All of these questions, in a world that is changing faster than at any other time in its history, need to be discussed and without any sense of confrontation because foreign policy is largely a matter on which there is a common view in this House on all the major issues and on many of the minor ones. There may be a difference of emphasis but there is a common view among all the Members of this House on these matters.
We need a foreign affairs committee to deal with those and thrash them out. We need to know how the Government are thinking, even sometimes on a confidential basis, so that we can give help to the Government and not be continually trying to trip them up — and I am not saying we are doing this now. The Government need to know also what we in the Opposition Party think of what they are doing, of our perception of the dangers ahead and what help we can give them in bringing forward a foreign policy that is coherent, rational, reasonable and for the benefit of the country as a whole.
This motion tonight is not in any sense one-upmanship on the Government. It is  put forward by us in the genuine belief that a committee of this House, of the composition I have laid out, dealing with foreign affairs would be of real benefit to the Government and would certainly be welcomed by the wider public. It would show that foreign policy was not something to be wrangled about internally on a party political basis and that there was a genuine consensus of opinion on both sides of the House. I wish to convey to the House in the strongest possible manner the need for a committee on foreign affairs. It is both urgent and essential to our contribution to the evolution of the political process in this State and to our effective contribution to international relations. I hope the Minister will accept this in the spirit in which it is offered, as help to Government and to democracy in the country.
Mrs. Owen: I would like first to thank Deputy Barry for sharing his time with me. I am very pleased to contribute on this debate which is a rarity in this House for exactly the reason this motion is down, that is, that there is no forum and there never has been in this Dáil, to raise issues and have debates. There is an opportunity here to raise questions and very often we have managed to get statements but what is missing is a facility for coherent debate, and for an exchange of views as Deputy Barry says, now and again in areas of consensus there has been no such forum for foreign affairs for Members of this House and of the Seanad. The structures in the Seanad over the years have allowed a little more flexibility in raising and debating issues of foreign affairs, although not satisfactorily. I am sure Deputy Higgins will outline that to the House. Nonetheless, Members have a slightly better chance in the Seanad of raising some of these issues.
To highlight how this House has been hampered in having any real debate, I refer to the statements here on 14 November when this House endeavoured to discuss the crucial issue of Ireland's role in the United Nations with regard to  the situation in Cambodia and the continuing presence in the UN of a triumvirate containing the Khmer Rouge. Although the Minister agreed at that time to have the issue raised in this House, he would agree to have it raised only by way of statement, which meant there was no dialogue. He came into this House with a prepared script which he delivered at the end of a heartfelt debate from the Opposition side. It did not really matter what we said, the script was prepared and that was the way it was delivered, irrespective of the fact that there was consensus among all parties in Opposition and among his own backbenchers that this country should consider changing its vote at the UN. Sad to say, the Minister went as he came with his own opinion and did not listen to any expression of feeling from anybody else in this House. That is why I wholeheartedly support the motion here tonight.
Over the years there have been constant demands from various Members of this House — not just Members who are now in Opposition but from the Minister's side of the House, such as Deputy David Andrews, former Deputy Niall Andrews now an MEP, and Deputy Tom Kitt, all from Fianna Fáil — for this committee. I hope the Minister will listen to their cause and not feel threatened, as Deputy Barry says, by the setting up of such a committee. The existence of each committee will not be a threat to the Department's officials or to the Minister of the day. In the course of my work I have had the pleasure and honour of meeting many Deputies and Members of Parliament from Europe, including some from the Nordic countries, and from African countries. To my great embarrassment they all asked if I was there on behalf of the foreign affairs committee of my Parliament. I had to give a vague answer to the effect that I was the former chairperson of a committee of the House, but that that committee was no longer in existence. With some sense of shame, I have to admit that this House does not  have a parliamentary committee on foreign affairs. I do not feel proud saying that. It is a disgrace that I have to do so considering the CVs of the Members of Parliament sitting on various committees. The first thing written in their CV is “Member of Foreign Affairs Committee”, “Member of Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs” etc., but these words never appear against an Irish name. We have to hang our heads in shame.
The time has never been so ripe for this committee to be set up. In the last six months we have seen major changes throughout the world — in Eastern Europe, South Africa, Nicaragua recently and China — and these issues need to be discussed by Members of this House. It is not just for a few eccentric or way out Members of this House or of the Seanad to have to raise these issues. Since we do not have a foreign affairs committee very often those Members who dare to take an interest in these issues are maligned, belittled and considered to be out of touch with their constituents because they are dealing with issues outside Ireland. That is an insult to those Deputies and Senators who have tried to broaden the base on which we have been elected to this House and to educate the people that we are not here just to discuss the local telephone box, drains, sewers or whatever, but that we are have also to discuss Ireland's role in the wider world and the place we must take internationally. It is shameful that we have not such a committee.
In 1981 I had the pleasure and honour to be appointed and elected chairperson of the only committee in the history of this State set up by the Dáil and Seanad to deal with issues of foreign affairs outside Europe — the Joint Committee on Co-operation with Developing Countries. That committee was set up by Deputy Garret FitzGerald who had a very strong commitment to and interest in our relations with the developing world. The committee sat from 1981 until January 1987, when they were abolished by the incoming Fianna Fáil Government, again  to their shame, showing their lack of concern and interest in this area. I acknowledge that they did not abolish the role of the Minister for Development Co-operation, and I am glad to see Deputy Sean Calleary here tonight in his role as Minister of State with responsibility for this area.
It is unbelievable that in 1987 the Government could have abolished the only forum that had been made available to Members of this House. It is widely recognised that that committee played a very dominant role in bringing to the forefront the relations this country has with the developing world. It was recognised that the committee were essential, that they raised the level of education and helped the non-governmental organisations and the Department officials to bring this issue to centre stage so that it would not always be considered the poor relation in the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Unfortunately, we have slipped back and my view is that the ODA programme has become once again the poor relation, in fact the forgotten relation. One only has to look at what happened in this year's budget. There was not a single line in the Minister's lengthy speech about our relations with developing countries, our ODA budget — nothing. Of course there was not a single line because he had not the courage to put one in. By stealth with one stroke of his pen he removed £1 million from our ODA budget. An Estimate was published in November 1989 providing an extra £1 million. Lo and behold, the Minister discovered he did not need that £1 million for the area it was intended. What did he do? He reabsorbed it into the Exchequer. Where did it go? We do not know. Was it given for the greyhounds or the horses? We still do not know. In a question to the Minister for Finance I could not elicit where that £1 million had gone, but one thing we do know, it was taken from the poorest people in the world. If we had a parliamentary committee on foreign affairs we would have been able to discuss such an issue, and perhaps put sufficient  pressure on the Minister to restore that budget.
Since the abolition of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Development Co-operation we have seen the deterioration of this country's commitment to the Third World. It is interesting to note at this stage that in order to restore the ODA budget to the 1986 percentage of GNP, we would have to top it up by £23 million this year. That will show how much has been robbed from this Estimate and this budget. At the beginning of January that figure would have been £22 million but this £1 million which is being robbed in this year's budget brings the percentage down to the 0.25 per cent of GNP, the figure reached by Fine Gael-Labour Coalition in 1986. Instead we have seen the graph steadily falling. I quote what the then Deputy Michael O'Kennedy, Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Foreign Affairs said in Dáil Éireann in 1975, Official Report, column 1372, volume 278: “So far as this side of the House is concerned, we commit ourselves to ensuring that, irrespective of our budgetary or balance of payment problems, we shall set aside year after year the appropriate sum to ensure that we reach at least the target set by the Minister — 0.35 per cent of our GNP within five years”, which would have been 1980. Here we are in 1990 and I defy anybody to say with any pride that aid as expressed as a percentage of GNP is 0.158 per cent. Shame on us all. Shame on every Member of this House that we were not able to convince the Government to bring that level up. Our level of aid is not in keeping with the views of people on the street. They give generously. Ireland was the highest donator to the Band Aid fund in 1985 for the people of Ethiopia. It is to our shame that our contribution stands lowest of all OECD countries.
Why can this issue not be raised more relevantly and more effectively in this House? The reason it cannot be raised is that the only mechanism open to me and others is through parliamentary questions where, with all due respects to the Chair, we get two or three minutes to ask the Minister supplementary questions.  Then we have to move on to the next question. We have no committee on which we can tease out, coerce, cajole or seduce the Minister into recognising that there is unanimity on this issue in this House. I know the Minister of State opposite wants to see the budget increased but we have no forum on which to discuss it. When the committee I chaired for seven years were in existence we acted as a forum for all visiting dignitaries from outside the country. Many a day I got telephone calls from Members all over this House, from the now Government benches and the now Opposition benches asking me to call a meeting of the committee, albeit it informally, because some visiting dignitary or some leader of a country wished to talk to parliamentarians. The only way we could do it with pride was to call our committee together so that we were not meeting them for a cup of coffee in the bar. We were meeting them as elected politicians and we were able to discuss with them the issues that needed to be discussed. I was glad that committee were able to offer that kind of respect to this House. Shame on this Government for having abolished them.
I would like to stress another issue which follows on the motion before us. If a foreign affairs committee were set up I would like to see, as part of their standing orders, a statutory sub-committee to deal with our overseas development programme. I recognise that in the motion it is very specifically spelt out that we consider the Government's official development assistance to developing countries as well as other foreign policy issues. A separate overseas development committee is what I most wish for but I recognise that may not be practical and that there may be some advantages in combining our relations with the developing world with our relations in the wider world and drawing them together where there can be cohesiveness about both. However, having regard to the many foreign policy issues Members would wish to raise, I would like to ensure that any subcommittee set up would not just be  for three or four months to deal with overseas development aid programme which would be pigeonholed and left there but that there would be a full-time sub-committee set up under the auspices of the main committee to ensure ongoing discussion.
In the course of the life of the last committee, we issued five reports, four of which I have been able to find: the Library could not locate the other. The first committee report that was issued was a full and frank resumé of our overseas development aid programme. I believe it is still being used in the Department of Foreign Affairs as a guide and reference document. I know it is also being used by many of the non-Governmental organisations and many of the voluntary groups working in this country to raise such issues. In my view it would have made an excellent White Paper which would have stamped a mark on our co-operation with developing countries. Unfortunately that report must simply remain in the Library as there is no forum in which it can be raised. We also carried out a study and issued a report on the effects of apartheid and of development in the southern African region, which is extremely topical at present in view of the changes that have commenced in South Africa and also of the effect of destabilisation in the southern African region. That was a very controversial report. In fact, this all-party committee made up of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour and Independents recommended the introduction of sanctions on the importation of fruit and vegetables from South Africa and the then Government implemented that recommendation. We can at least see that the committee were not an empty, vacuous body sitting for the sake of sitting and chatting for the sake of chatting. They were doing relevant work.
We also prepared a report on the issue of development education because without education and without a foreign affairs committee of this House the issues relevant to foreign policy will remain as fringe issues in which only a small group will be interested. I say to the Minister that the small group are growing and one  has only to recall the Minister for Foreign Affairs telling us that he received 600 letters on the Cambodian issue. The Minister will get many more letters and indeed he has received many letters on the Government policy on overseas development aid. He will recognise that the public take an interest in our relations with foreign countries, in our relations with countries outside England and Europe. I hope he will begin to take note of what the people are saying to him.
The area of human rights is one a foreign affairs committee could usefully look at. I think there would be general consensus on the issue of human rights, but again we have no forum in which to discuss the issue. Over and over again Deputies have to use Private Notice Questions or the Adjournment debate to raise issues of human rights infringements. Just this week I met someone from Peru who gave me a very disturbing report — indeed there were two UN reports as well on the infringement of human rights in Peru, a country that we do not hear that much about. However, I have no opportunity to debate this and all I can do is table a question asking the Minister for Foreign Affairs to raise this issue at some forum in Europe where he can do so behind closed doors and nobody else in this House will know what he says or what kind of answer he may get. The issue of human rights has to be discussed in this House.
The more sensitive issues of Ireland's policy on neutrality, of relations with countries who have carried out atrocities or of relations with the Middle East, cannot be discussed in ways other than the ways I have outlined. With no disrespect to the Minister of State, it is a shame that the Minister, Deputy Collins, is not here. I recognise that he has many calls on his time and I know that the Minister of State, Deputy Calleary, will convey to him the urgent call to recognise that we are lowering ourselves in the eyes of our European partners and of the wider world when we do not have the opportunity in this House to discuss issues of foreign affairs. As Deputy Barry said, no Minister in Government should  see a foreign affairs committee as a threat, that rather they should see it as an assistance a back-up and a goading to take on board the wishes of the Irish people on foreign affairs issues. I do not believe the Minister for Foreign Affairs would have gone to the United Nations last November and voted on our behalf the way he did on the issue of Cambodia if there had been an all-party committee of this House which would have recommended to him that we should have voted against any motion that sought to give succour or support to the Khmer Rouge. He could have gone to the United Nations with strength and conviction knowing that he had the support of the country, of this House and the Seanad in the line he took. Instead he went with his own opinion, perhaps the opinion we have stuck with generally because he did not feel confident that he could go with our opinion.
I would like to see this committee set up with all speed. I believe the Taoiseach has given an indication in this House that he, too, would like to see such a committee set up. One only has to ask when. The Taoiseach has been saying that he would love to have a foreign affairs committee and that he has no problem with it, but not now, and he waves his hand in his usual cavalier fashion and says: “Pipe down, all of you shouting for this committee, I will let you have it some day”, as if he were entitled to deny this House the right to have a foreign affairs committee. It seems to be a question of “Lord, make me holy but not now”.
I hope this motion commends itself to the House and that the Minister will give us the good news that the Government will support the establishment of a foreign affairs committee.
Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Mr. Calleary): I thank Deputies Barry and Owen for their valuable contributions.
Foreign policy covers our bilateral relations with other states, issues pertaining to our membership of the European Community and our participation in European political co-operation. It is  concerned with matters arising from our membership of the United Nations and our participation in the process of east-west co-operation within the framework of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) and in other multilateral fora. The promotion of foreign earnings, co-operation with developing countries and the welfare of Irish citizens abroad also constitute important elements coming within the broad scope of foreign policy.
Achievement of national objectives in these areas frequently entails complex and delicate negotiations, often on the basis of co-ordination with our EC partners and involving the reconciliation, by negotiation, of conflicting national and international interests. It is fair to say that many of these negotiations would stand little chance of success if conducted in the public eye.
The Government and the Minister for Foreign Affairs are answerable to the Oireachtas for their management of Ireland's international relations. Members of the Oireachtas and, through them, the public have a right to be well-informed and to express opinion on the State's foreign policy. Similarly they have the right to criticise Government decisions in this area if they consider such criticism to be justified.
Successive Governments have recognised that public understanding and debate of foreign policy issues is not only desirable but fundamental to success in this field. Without understanding of the essential aims of our foreign policy there can be little expectation of public support which is a crucial prerequisite of authority in all areas of public life.
It is for this reason that successive Governments and Ministers for Foreign Affairs have sought to ensure that adequate opportunities exist for Members of the Oireachtas to discuss and debate foreign policy issues. Such matters can be raised and are raised in both Houses of the Oireachtas, either in the form of special motions or on the Adjournment. The annual debates on the Estimates for Foreign Affairs and for  international co-operation; the presentation of reports on developments in the European Community; reports on meetings of the European Council and Dáil Question Time all provide valuable opportunities for debate and discussion of our external relations, for example, over the past four months, foreign policy matters as diverse as Cambodia.
Mrs. Owen: Only a statement, not a debate.
Mr. Calleary: Eastern Europe, the Middle East, famine relief and emigration have been publicly discussed in one or both Houses of the Oireachtas. Over the same period an even wider range of issues and topics have been raised by Members of this House at Question Time. It is important for us to realise, and I make no apology for repeating, that all of these debates and discussions are open to all members of the respective Houses of the Oireachtas with the usual public reporting facilities. In the light of the above, I cannot understand the remarks by Deputy Barry and Deputy Owen that there are no facilities for discussion or debate on foreign policy affairs in this House.
The arrangement which Deputy Barry's motion seeks to establish would represent a significant departure from our existing and adequate procedures in this area. In essence it seeks to establish an institution with
—a small and select membership
—and the responsibility of overseeing the activities and expenditure of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
With a mandate to discuss such aspects of foreign policy as it sees fit and to oversee the expenditure and operation of a Department of State and to send for persons, papers and records, there can be little doubt about the extensive and all-embracing nature of its proposed powers. The conduct of foreign policy is concerned with the achievement, by negotiation, of national objectives in the  international arena. The stock-in-trade of negotiations is information, sometimes privileged information, and the political judgment of what is and is not attainable and acceptable, having regard to broad national interests. It is unlikely that many sensitive negotiations in the field of international relations could succeed if conducted in the public domain and on the basis of unrealistic and perhaps sectionally-inspired objectives. Sensitive or major negotiations must necessarily be conducted in confidence and with discretion. Our handling of communications with and information from other Governments, including our EC partners, must likewise be characterised by confidentiality and discretion. To do otherwise or to appear to do otherwise would be to impose upon ourselves a more serious handicap which would most certainly be to our disadvantage as an equal partner in the international community.
It is important to dispel any misunderstandings that may exist about the sensitivity of some aspects of our foreign relations and of related inter-Governmental discussions and negotiations and associated papers, records and communications. Sensitivity and confidentiality arise not because of a desire on the part of this or previous Governments to shroud the issues in mystery. The task of managing our foreign policy is already sufficiently demanding due to the growing complexity of international affairs. No one wishes to add unnecessarily to the complexity or to the growth of specialised bureaucracies. Sensitivity arises because we are dealing with other sovereign states either bilaterally or in multilateral fora and they, like us, have important national interests to defend or promote. Confidentiality of information and communications arises because we owe a duty of care to information provided in confidence to us.
It is perhaps in recognition of these concerns that the earlier version of Deputy Barry's motion provided that members of the Committee would be bound to secrecy when requested by the chairman or a member of the Government. It seems to me that this was a  cumbersome and impracticable means of addressing the problem. It was also at odds with the fundamental objective of such a committee in the first place, which is to encourage public debate and understanding of the State's foreign policy and conduct of international relations.
Deputy Owen spoke about decisions being made in European fora behind closed doors on matters about which she could not find any answers. I think the same would apply to the first version of Deputy Barry's motion.
Mrs. Owen: With respect, we are not discussing the first draft.
Mr. Calleary: As I have already pointed out, current arrangements adequately facilitate public discussion of foreign policy matters by a committee of the whole of this House or of the other House. The motion before us seeks to establish a select grouping of Members of the Oireachtas, with a quorum of only six. I fail to see how such arrangements, even if they were workable, could be said to represent an improvement on our present arrangements. There are approximately 226 politicians in the two Houses of the Oireachtas. Out of those we have nine TDs and nine Senators on the Joint Services Committee, seven TDs and four Senators on the Joint Committee on Irish Language, 11 TDs and six Senators on the Joint Committee on Women's Affairs and seven TDs and four Senators on the Joint Committee on State-Sponsored Bodies, 18 TDs and seven Senators on the Joint Committee on Secondary Legislation of the EC and three TDs and three Senators on the Joint Committee on Standing Orders relative to Private Business. We also have the Committee of Public Accounts, the Committees on Procedure and Privileges for the Dáil and the Seanad and there are TDs and Senators who are members of the Council of Europe. Taking the 30 Ministers and Ministers of State, out of that number Deputies will see exactly what the situation is.
Mrs. Owen: What about the new Anglo-Irish body?
Mr. Barry: You forgot about the members on county councils.
Mr. Calleary: I would not talk too much about members of county councils being members of the Government, because you had it yourself, Deputy.
Mr. Barry: You are very sensitive this evening. I am sorry I opened my mouth.
Mrs. Owen: You are very sensitive about county councils at the moment.
Mr. Calleary: I am not a bit sensitive but that gives the Deputies an idea of how things stand when the Deputies want two extra committees.
Mrs. Owen: I would like a sub-committee within the overall foreign affairs committee.
Mr. Connor: Are you suggesting that the other committees cannot work well?
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Gabh mo leith scéal——
Mr. Calleary: I would like to answer Deputy Connor.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Aire, gabh mo leith scéal, this is not going to develop into a tête-à-tête. The Minister will make his contribution without interruption, as will everybody else. The Minister to continue.
Mr. Calleary: Deputy Barry spoke earlier about committees in the House and said that they were under funded and under staffed. That may be the answer to Deputy Connor.
Mr. Connor: You were rebuked already, Minister.
Mr. Calleary: Duplication could also  arise in relation to the work of the Joint Committee on the Secondary Legislation of the European Communities. As Deputies will be aware, this committee examines EC legislation together with domestic implementing measures and reports on them to both Houses of the Oireachtas. As I have already stated, the broad range of our foreign policy includes issues arising from our membership of the European Communities. The committee proposed in Deputy Barry's motion would have the power to discuss all aspects of foreign policy and to this extent its role could and would overlap those of the Joint Committee on Secondary Legislation.
Mrs. Owen: That is nonsense. You do not think we are going to operate them, doing that.
Mr. Calleary: The motion also proposes that development aid issues would be considered by the committee. I was very impressed with the work of the joint committee of which Deputy Owen was chairman in relation to development co-operation. As Deputy Owen said, the committee produced some excellent reports on a number of aspects of development assistance policy. The House will be happy to join with me in paying tribute to the committee's chairman and hard-working members some of whom, unfortunately, are no longer with us. However, I should also note that the absence of a committee in the subsequent Oireachtas has not hindered discussion and review of development assistance generally and of specific topical issues such as Ethiopia and Cambodia.
In relation to Cambodia, Ireland, together with all its partners in the EC, voted in favour of the resolution sponsored by ASEAN on Cambodia. We voted in favour of the resolution because the elements in the resolution seemed to us to be intrinsically valid. There can be no doubt of the deep abhorrence in which we hold the Khmer Rouge, as we explained in our explanation of the vote at the UN General Assembly. We have repeatedly said with our EC partners that  there can never be a return to the policies and practices of the Khmer Rouge. The Minister for Foreign Affairs has been active most recently at the Community ASEAN Ministerial Meeting last month, in Malaysia in trying to exert our influence and the influence of the Twelve in reaching a solution monitored by the UN which would prevent a return to the horrors of the seventies. Many people appreciated the way in which we voted.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and I had the privilege to respond to a number of debates and parliamentary questions. These have been sponsored by a very wide range of Deputies and Senators who have shown a deep interest and understanding of the issues.
Deputy Owen referred to the Minister for Finance not referring to the ODA reductions for 1990 in the Budget Statement. The £1 million cash reduction for the European Development Fund was included in the Principal Features of the Budget circulated to all Deputies, as is the normal practice for this type of change. I am sure Deputy Owen is aware that it was not the Minister, Deputy Collins, who made that reduction——
Mrs. Owen: It was Deputy Reynolds. It is the same. It is gone.
Mr. Calleary: Deputy Owen also raised the question of participation——
Mrs. Owen: I will try to explain that to the people in Ethiopia and in Africa.
Mr. Calleary: ——and opportunity to discuss ODA. The Deputy has had more opportunity than just by way of parliamentary question. The Deputy had the opportunity of the Estimates debate and the debate on foreign affairs, on international co-operation, on Adjournment debates, in Opposition Private Members' time and many other opportunities.
In summary, the Government believe that the committee proposed in this motion would be inappropriate for the reasons stated and its establishment unlikely to serve the national interest.  The amendments put down by Labour and The Workers' Party Deputies do nothing to alter this conclusion. I have outlined the opportunities that are open to Members of the Oireachtas to raise aspects of our foreign policy that are of interest or concern to them, and these are adequate.
In relation to both amendments, the Government are accountable to the Oireachtas, and through the Oireachtas to the people, on all aspects of foreign policy. One of the key aspects of that policy has been our long-standing adherence to military neutrality. We have always stood outside the military alliances, and now that the roles of the alliances are being redefined, our neutrality has acquired a new meaning and validity. New concepts of security are being evolved within the Conference on Security and Co-Operation in Europe where the Twelve and the neutral and non-aligned play a vital role. I am certain that the CSCE summit of Heads of Government of all 35 participating states which will meet late this year will help to bring about a just and lasting peaceful new order in Europe in which the security of all participating states will be fully guaranteed. Ireland's intrinsic national policy of neutrality will play its part in the redefinition of the European security concept in the context of the CSCE review of that process.
I have already outlined the opportunities Members have to raise aspects on foreign policy. I know the House will agree that the present time, when we have additional burdens arising from our EC Presidency, would not be suitable for initiatives of this kind, even if they were appropriate. As Deputy Owen said, unfortunately, the Minister for Foreign Affairs is not available here tonight although he could well be here tomorrow. That is an example of what can happen during the Presidency not only in relation to the Minister but in relation to me and officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs many of whom have extra burdens at this stage.
 For their part the Government continue to have an open mind on the establishment of further Oireachtas committees and this question remains under consideration.
Mr. M. Higgins: I regard it as one of the great virtues of public life that people can change their minds. In that sense we hope that the Fine Gael Party will accept our amendment and that we can support their resolution.
Mrs. Owen: On a point of order, will the Deputy let us have a copy of the amendment?
Mr. M. Higgins: Deputy Barry can indicate his attitude to it as it will become clear as I go on. My interest in establishing this committee dates back a number of years. Indeed, I have irritated Members of the House — you, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle and the Ceann Comhairle — in recent Dála by asking almost on a weekly basis whether it was the intention of the Taoiseach to set up discussions to establish such a committee. The answers were that it was “under consideration”, “deep consideration” and so on.
The crucial debate took place in Seanad Éireann in December 1986. The summary of that debate is contained in volume 115, No. 6, of the Official Report of Wednesday, 10 December 1986 and in volume 115, No. 9, of 17 December 1986. On 10 December 1986 I proposed a resolution very similar to the one before us. I was told at that time that the Fianna Fáil Party supported the establishment of a committee but they were later instructed to withdraw their support and they abstained. A very interesting debate followed which was contributed to by one of the most distinguished Foreign Ministers we ever had, the then Senator Dooge.
The then Senator Dooge and Fine Gael Members of the Seanad spoke against my resolution. I and other Members of the Labour Party and University Senators  spoke in favour. As the Official Report of 17 December shows, my resolution in 1986 to establish a Foreign Affairs Committee was defeated by 21 votes to 12. Since that time, in the Seanad and the Dáil, I have pressed for the establishment of this committee. I am not interested in comparisons but let me make one to show how many of the substantial matters before us this evening are so acceptable to me. Paragraph (3) of this evening's motion is identical to my paragraph (2) in 1986; paragraph (4) is identical to paragraph (9); paragraph (5) is identical to paragraph (3); paragraph (6) is identical to paragraph (4) and paragraph (7) is identical to paragraph (5). Paragraph (6) differs slightly and I will come back to it in a moment because it is very interesting.
Mr. Barry: They are standard paragraphs.
Mr. M. Higgins: They are, but they will enable me to point out the differences in reply to Deputy Calleary, which is terribly important.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Minister of State, Deputy Calleary.
Mr. M. Higgins: Yes, I am sorry. The interesting one is missing and we can discuss it later. That is why I was talking about how much we can agree with.
Mr. Barry: Deputy Higgins thinks it fell out by mistake?
Mr. M. Higgins: No. The amendment which the Labour Party propose was at the beginning of the resolution proposed in 1986 and it has appeared on the Order Paper which has been circulated in this and previous Dála. This is the Labour Party amendment to the motion proposed this evening. I move amendment No. 1: That is the principal — I accept the difference — difference between the motion proposed in December 1986 and this evening. It reads:
In view of the need to ensure the  maximum public participation and political accountability on such issues as for example the maintenance of Ireland as a country whose foreign policy is independent and unconstrained by any military associations or alliances, and as a country whose neutrality is expressed in terms of its support for peace, demilitarisation and human rights throughout the world.
I want to turn to the manoeuvres behind the scenes in December 1986 and to put some straight questions to which, no doubt, the Minister for Foreign Affairs will reply when he comes back. Why is the Irish Parliament so unique that it alone, of all Parliaments of the Twelve, should be deprived of this committee? This evening we have listened to arguments which ranged from the existence of the restaurant committee to arguments that there would be breaches of confidentiality. Of course the truth is that as a background to this debate, which has gone on for years is a fundamental principle of democracy; it is that, in every other country in Europe—I speak of the Community and beyond — it is accepted that foreign policy is a matter that can be debated in Parliament and by its committees, that the public can engage in that debate and that one of the facilitating mechanism for that is a foreign policy committee.
It is equally accepted that there is a highly skilled professional activity that one may call diplomatic activity. What we have seen in the debate by people who were not elected to this House and who were not elected to it in 1986, is an obstructionist policy towards allowing the independent, political accountability of foreign policy as separate from the inherent — as we have heard it tonight in its coming out of the closet version — confidentiality or diplomatic activity. It is an insult to the House to suggest that we are not aware of the necessary subtlety, the necessary confidentiality, the necessary complexity of diplomatic activity. What is really being said is that the people engaged in these matters which I respect are the professionals and  that you cannot trust the elected representatives to speak about foreign policy.
As I said, I had — and still have — a great respect for the former Senator Dooge. In column 778, volume 115, No. 6 of the Official Report of 10 December 1986 he said:
The matter was discussed at the Conference of European Speakers held in Copenhagen in 1984 and Dr. Steerkamp, who was a rapporteur on the relations between Parliament and foreign policy made the following remark in the introduction to his report and it is highly relevant to what we are discussing today.
Unfortunately, the then Senator Dooge chose the Danish Foreign Policy Committee. Foreign policy committees in Europe range across a wide spectrum. There is one in Britain which discusses now and again whether Canada might become a republic, it is the weakest part of the spectrum. At the other end of the spectrum the Danish Foreign Policy Committee have a great number of inhabitants in terms of their requirements for parliamentary accountability which might impede diplomatic activity.
There has been no attempt in the speech of the Minister of State to say whether he is against a committee, a Danish form of committee or a British form of committee. Is he simply against another committee that will be added to the restaurant and other committees of this House? We are witnessing a very interesting anti-democratic attitude. The public are interested in foreign policy, they elect us to this assembly and elect some Members to the Seanad. The public are entitled to have us discuss foreign policy.
Four years later, when we are in the glow of the European Presidency, we are told that elected representatives do not deserve this committee because we are Irish. The Dutch, the Danes, the British, the French, the Portuguese and the Spanish can have it; what is wrong with this Parliament that it cannot have such a committee? We do not differ in terms  of the European attitude. It shows that there is a higher perception in regard to foreign policy issues in Ireland than in Britain, Spain, Portugal and the other countries I mentioned. Why then are we being denied this? What is so important in relation to what we are doing with such confidentiality, indeed I am sure with finesse and professionalism, that we cannot be trusted? How democratic is it to go on saying that you are to distrust your Parliament? We cannot develop that because the Minister of State did not use the argument that was put forward in 1986. He said, for example, there is a big difference in the evolution of thinking towards the Irish Presidency. Senator Sean Fallon of Fianna Fáil said in 1986 before they abstained that they might not be against an informative committee but the committee that I had proposed was an investigative committee. The big change in the evolution to the Presidency of 1990 is that they are against a committee altogether now. At the same time we are lecturing Eastern Europe, Latin America and elsewhere about being democratic. There is a unique disrespect for the parliamentary process. It is a view in relation to the hegemony of diplomacy over foreign policy that goes back to Talleyrand. It is a dated, old concept of diplomacy.
If any of us were serving on this committee, would people really think that Deputy Barry, Deputy Owen, I or any other Deputy would seek to disturb some sensitive diplomatic relations or some important negotiations? Why did the Minister state in his speech that we would represent sectional interests and so on? Is he really saying that we lack the integrity that members of parliament have in other assemblies in Europe, that we would not know what is in the interests of the country, what are the interests for Parliament and what is diplomatically sensitive and that we could not be trusted to observe that? I find that insulting but I do not blame the Minister of State for it because it is the tired old argument trotted out by people and the last thing they  want is a dialogue about the nature for foreign policy.
This committee would not be just another committee in the Dáil. Many Deputies, some of whom are very brief periods in this House, become interested in particular aspects of foreign policy. Deputy Owen spoke on this matter. I was on the Joint Committee on Development Co-operation with Deputy Owen. Constituents tell Deputies, for example, they are interested in say, the issue of Cambodia. If a foreign policy committee existed the text of what we agreed could have been discussed around that time. The real answer we are being given is: “We understand drafts and texts but they do not and you just have to put up with it”. Therefore the individual Deputies must go back to their constituents and say that Ireland has very subtle reasons for the position it took on Cambodia. The Government say: “We really understand it. You might not understand it because you are just one of those elected political scrubbers and your constituents will not understand it either, but we have very brainy people working on these drafts.” That is what we are being told. It is disrespectful arrogance towards an elected assembly. It is, as I have said, rooted in the obsolete history of diplomacy, in every text written on diplomacy in the last ten years. I defy the Minister when replying to find one justification of these secretive principles. They are buried in the detritus of diplomatic history. Nobody practises them. People have matured in confidence to the point that they know what is or what is not sensitive, what it is important to respect, what it is important to be open about and so on. It has been part of the evolution of parliament. It is an old fashioned concept.
This secrecy that is being defended this evening has parallels in other Departments. When the Minister for Education was challenged a few months ago on the basis of the legality of some orders, she gave the stock response that they were doing this out of the principle of continuity, which the ordinary person can translate as “because we got away with it  before for a long time we are going to continue getting away with it”. There is another matter of foreign policy which no one in this House can recognise. Everyone welcomed Nelson Mandela's release. Why could we not deal with the ANC? It is an established principle that we do not deal with Oppositions. We could deal indirectly with the South African Government but we could not deal with the ANC. When was that principle established? It grew up among the people who know better than anyone who ever stands for election. Therefore if you stand for election in this country you disqualify yourself from certain kinds of competence in relation to international relations.
Many bodies are interested in this matter. The Royal Irish Academy held a seminar on aspects of United States foreign policy. It did not bother anybody that Henry Kissinger, out of office, swanned into the seminar and was met by officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs who listened to him. I suppose that is what you would call one of those subtle, sensitive and confidential discussions.
Deputy Owen made the point about the value of this committee. Perhaps the Deputy may be interested only in the whole question of food relief aid but that Deputy has the right to discuss this. You know, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, that the mechanism of Question Time and raising matters on the Adjournment is a totally insufficient one. Everybody in this House knows that. It is a nonsense to suggest that it is an adequate mechanism. There may be other Deputies who are interested in human rights and they might want to raise this at the committee at which there may be a visiting human rights person. We signed the Conventions on Human Rights recently, entering reservations on some of them, significant reservations to the one on communications and also the one on prisons. We would like to discuss why those reservations were entered in our name and in the name of the Irish people but we are not allowed to do that. We are told we can do it through Question Time.
 The issue of diplomacy and foreign policy is being muddied. There have been good and distinguished Ministers and out of respect for one recent occupant of that office I will not give details of how exactly an aspect of foreign policy triumphed over a conservative diplomatic strategy. I am referring particularly to the decision of Ireland to vote at the United Nations in relation to the position being taken in Morocco versus the Sahara Arab Democratic Republic. It was widely reported in the paper and widely accepted, quickly followed by a Danish response on similar lines. Finland and many other countries took up the same position. I just throw this out as one minor example of where a significant foreign policy initiative can be superior to the drag of diplomatic conservatism.
There is a sense also in which this inclusion of parliamentarians is complemented by an exclusion of citizens. Not only is there no forum in this House to discuss these issues but in our educational system, due to a completely conservative attitude in relation to polical and social studies, there is no opportunity for discussing them in the schools. The response again of orthodoxy which we can leave indeterminate for the sake of propriety, was that there was too much emphasis on rights in the syllabus that was agreed and not enough on duties. Down went political and social studies which had a component on human rights and on development aid. Our children could have been learning about those matters. The same thinking that precludes us from having this committee precludes our children, who have a natural curiosity in all of those issues, from learning about them in our schools.
Then we come back to the pathos of the reasoning. Would we be too busy in the European Presidency for the Minister to actually attend? Do we really think we have too many committees? Would the establishment of such a committee dislodge the valuable work of, for example, the joint services committee or the restaurant committee? Does the House think that we might not have enough money to pay a clerk to attend? Then we  get to the interesting reasons; the source about the opposition to the committee reveals itself in the Minister's speech. The Minister of State's speech contains a major inaccuracy and I suggest, out of respect to the House, the Minister should correct it when he addresses us tomorrow evening. The Minister of State in the course of his contribution said:
In essence it seeks to establish an institution with extensive powers——
Which committee in Europe is it closest to as it has been drafted by Deputy Barry? Where along the spectre of the committees from the British weak committee to the Danish strong committee does it lie? I suggest it can be found in a very medium position in relation to committees that exist in Europe.
Mr. Barry: It is the Netherlands.
Mr. M. Higgins: Yes, it is the Dutch committee which has been regarded by political scientists as the one that strikes a correct balance between, on the one hand, maximum diplomatic flexibility and maximum accountability to parliament. The Minister of State has thrown in to his speech in big capital letters the words “extensive powers” but he does not need to explain that phrase to elected representatives. I ask for the phrase, “a small and select membership”, to be withdrawn by tomorrow evening because it is an insult.
Mrs. Owen: It is an insult to every other committee of the House.
Mr. M. Higgins: It is an insult to every Member of the House because in the terms of reference included in the motion it is suggested how the committee would be composed and how many shall constitute a quorum but to suggest a “small and select membership...”
Mr. Calleary: Six would constitute a quorum.
Mr. M. Higgins: I did not interrupt  the Minister of State and he should not interrupt me.
Mr. Calleary: I am being misrepresented.
Mrs. Owen: The Minister of State is demeaning all the Members of the other committees of the House.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: This is the third or fourth time Deputy Owen has interrupted. I am asking the House to listen to the Deputy in possession.
Mr. Barry: There are nine Members in the Chamber and I should like to know if that constitutes a small select committee.
Mr. M. Higgins: The Minister of State's reference to a small and select membership is inappropriate. It is for the Members of the Dáil to elect the Taoiseach, to approve his Cabinet who later receive their seals of office from the President. They are the people who have come out of the democratic process. We do not say they are a select group of people who have more or less grabbed something. We have accepted the democratic system. The motion contains a procedure for electing members, including members from the Government and the Opposition.
The Minister also used the phrase, “and the responsibility of overseeing the activities and expenditure of the Department of Foreign Affairs”. Would it be a real outrage if the elected Members of Oireachtas Éireann had the responsibility of overseeing the activities and expenditure of the Department of Foreign Affairs? That is one of the democratic pillars we are recommending to eastern Europe and the rest of the world. Are we suggesting that the Department of Foreign Affairs, in relation to their activities and expenditure, should not under any circumstances be so degraded as to be put under the slightest scrutiny by the elected Members of the House? What nonsense, what arrogance and what a price the people pay for it.
 Those of us who have worked outside the existing foreign affairs committee could comment on that. What is obvious after tonight is that we will continue with an ad hoc foreign affairs committee to which we will invite distinguished people from abroad. We have already received a number of people from abroad and we have requests to receive others. There will be a group in the Parliament which will meet visitors from abroad.
I worry about the attitude being adopted, particularly in relation to the amendment. Every now and again a debate breaks out, unrelated to this simple issue that is at the core of the amendment in the name of the Labour Party, on what is meant by neutrality. We have people beating their breasts and saying that Ireland is always neutral. However, when one examines their speeches one finds that they are saying that Ireland is neutral as long as the unification of Ireland is not at stake. Others say that Ireland is neutral but it is not ideologically neutral, that it is militarily neutral. Other people say we are neutral but that we might not be neutral in the future while others, like my party, believe in positive neutrality under which its external dimension is that one uses neutrality as a negotiating principle for building alliances in the area of human rights and so on, and internally it is used as an educative principle for building the case for peace, the morality of armaments expenditure and so on. It would be interesting if in a foreign affairs committee we could have a discussion on those issues but we are precluded from doing that.
The Minister of State made a statement in relation to significant initiatives that are taking place in relation to security. That was not included in his prepared text but I wonder what is the effect of such a statement that cannot be examined by a foreign affairs committee other than to set off a debate, much of it emotional ill-informed and in itself quite heated about whether Ireland's neutrality is at stake. Again and again on issues such as overseas development aid, the meaning of neutrality and events described by  Deputy Barry in relation to Germany, eastern Europe, Cambodia and our relationship with the Latin world we called for debates in the House. Members are permitted to put two questions on such issues on the Order Paper and Foreign Affairs spokespersons, as in my case, are permitted to table one Priority Question. I am being told by the Minister in refusing to establish a foreign affairs committee that not only my rights but the rights of all fellow parliamentarians are to be restricted.
I believe very strongly in democracy and I admire the people who founded this State. I admire the people who created the space of democracy but I wonder did they make their efforts so that Members would be made impotent, so that the continual British secretive tradition of diplomacy could continue on from those who never agreed with our independence in their day and whose inheritors are going on to exclude us, the elected representatives, from a foreign affairs committee. I am sorry I have to be so direct about that issue. I must say that in the Department there are people of the finest calibre, intellectually and in every other respect. It was one of my great privileges to hear the many tributes paid to the present Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Noel Dorr, who has a reputation at the United Nations and around the world which is superb, not only for his intellectual ability but his subtlety and for the contribution he has made to the resolution of difficulties. Is it not very interesting that former incumbents of that office can give speeches to bodies that are not accountable in the House on aspects of Irish foreign policy expressing their opinion as to whether we should be neutral while we, the elected representatives have not got a foreign policy committee in which we can debate these issues? Not one single reason of substance has been advanced this evening. I appeal to all Deputies, particularly those on the Government side, to think very seriously about what not having a foreign policy committee does to their rights as well as our rights. What is at stake is not something partisan — it  has nothing to do with Deputy Barry's party or even mine — but the integrity and the capacity of Parliament itself and our rights to give a proper service to a public that is very well informed and remarkably interested in aspects and issues of foreign policy.
Question again proposed: “That the Bill be now read a Second Time.”
Mr. Gilmore: I would like to deal with Part II, sections 20, 21 and 22, which amend the Trade Union Acts, and deal with trade union amalgamations. The general thrust of these sections appear to be to make it easier for trade unions to amalgamate and to make it harder for new unions to be formed, especially small unions. We need to think this through. There has been an assumption that reducing the number of trade unions is automatically a good thing. For years we have been told that we have too many unions. We never hear that we have too many building societies, too many banks or too many companies of one kind or another, even though the same kind of arguments about wasteful competition, size, etc. could be made about them as has been frequently made about trade unions. I sometimes think that people outside the trade union movement who complain about too many unions are really saying that they do not like trade unions at all: what they are saying is not that we have too many trade unions but that we have too many trade unionists.
The approach taken within the trade union movement is somewhat different. Those of us within the trade union movement favour a reduction in the number of unions because we recognise that workers get better protection and better service within a larger union. The Workers' Party have welcomed the merger between the ITGWU and the  FWUI and the formation of SIPTU, healing a split and pooling resources to benefit the ordinary member. Similarly, we welcome the announcement of the merger between the UPTCS and the LGPSU and the talk to amalgamate teacher unions. These are good developments and they should be encouraged. Big is not always better. In a big organisation the centre inevitably becomes more remote from the members and there is a danger that the ordinary members may have less access to decision making and to those who make the decisions.
The Bill we are debating lays emphasis on democratic procedures in relation to strikes and industrial action. I feel that the democratic rights of ordinary trade union members is not something that should be confined to industrial action. There is a need to ensure that in the big unions the structures are open and democratic and that members can easily participate in the decision making process in the union. Too often we see procedures adopted which restrict the rights of members to participation and to freedom of expression. The women's committees of many unions have repeatedly drawn attention to matters such as the timing of meetings and the way in which meetings are conducted as inhibiting factors to increased participation by women workers in the running of their own union.
The bigger a union gets the more impersonal it can become and the more the individual member can become just a cog in a big machine. There is a need to ensure that there is freedom of expression within trade unions and that those who express points of view which differ from those of the union leadership are not in any way regarded as less loyal to the union or a lesser member of the union. This principle applies also to political expression. The great strength of the Irish trade union movement is that it has not been divided along party political lines, as has been the case in trade unions on the continental mainland. It is probably no accident that this has contributed  to Ireland having one of the biggest penetrations of trade union organisations in Europe.
The Irish trade unions have traditionally embraced members of all political parties. Some of the best shop stewards and branch committee members, with whom I have worked as a trade union official, have been members of Fianna Fáil. This political plurality must be respected, especially in the new large unions.
It is particularly important that the rights of individual members should be protected in the context of unions amalgamating. I share with many members of SIPTU a concern that while the historic merger itself was a very good thing there was a price to be paid in terms of the democratic rights of the ordinary members, including their rights of access to and participation in the decision making process.
In an era when people the world over are demanding and getting their rights to democratically elect their leaders and to freedom of expression, it is not acceptable that the leadership of merging unions can decide to suspend the democratic process within their own union for an arbitrary period of years and to deny to the ordinary members of the merged union the right to elect their new leadership. On Committee Stage The Workers' Party will be introducing an amendment to ensure that the rights of ordinary trade union members are protected within their union, especially in the context of amalgamation. The amendment will be aimed at ensuring that ordinary members of an amalgamating union will not be denied the right to elect their leadership and will prevent the playing of musical chairs with leadership positions which are properly the property of ordinary members.
As trade unions get bigger we must ensure that there is no drift towards American style trade unionism with its lack of democratic participation, its slot machine approach to membership service, its highly centralised bureaucratic structures and its overpaid out of touch  leadership. American style trade unionism has left the United States a predominantly non-union economy. The main lesson to be learned from Eastern Europe is that no individual or group of individuals, no matter how powerful, had a right to believe they own the State and no trade union leader has the right to believe he or she owns the union. I do not believe that the making available of money alone will facilitate the amalgamation or merger of trade unions. Ordinary trade union members must feel that they will remain in control of the new amalgamated unions and that there is leadership accountability in every area from salaries and business matters to industrial negotiation and political expression. Again, these are areas to which we will return with amendments and examples on Committee Stage.
As I said at the beginning, good industrial relations are active industrial relations and by the same token good trade unionism is active trade unionism, a form of trade unionism in which the ordinary member feels in control. The kind of industrial relations and industrial and trade union legislation we need as we approach the turn of the century in a new world, in changing times, is legislation which facilities democratic trade union rights and enables disputes to be settled early and fairly. We need legislation which ensures that workers can exercise their constitutional right to belong to a trade union, that their trade union will not be denied the right to negotiate by some employer, and that differences are settled by discussion and negotiation so that there is no need for workers to take industrial action in the first place.
I have been a trade union official for the past 12 years. I have never met a worker who wanted to go on strike but I met very many who were forced into a corner where they were left with only two options; to take industrial action or to abandon the claim. They key to good industrial relations is participation, democracy and mutual respect. These are qualities which must apply both to the trade union movement itself and to the conduct of industrial relations. From  what I have heard in the course of this debate I believe there is a commitment to those principles in this House and I look forward to Committee Stage when we can seek to strengthen and improve the Bill which is before us. I may not agree with everything in the Bill but I congratulate the Minister on bringing it forward. It is good to have comprehensive industrial relations legislation before us at this time.
Mr. O'Shea: The Labour Party are happy with much of the Bill and are glad that it has been brought before the House. However, we have serious reservations about the provisions restricting secondary picketing. I want to give a hypothetical example of what might happen in a plant where a dispute is taking place. The employer could be in collusion with another party who could import the item manufactured in his plant and he could give a list to some other party of the people to whom he sells his product. In this way the strike could be undermined to a certain extent. We are worried that putting a curtailment on secondary picketing could allow employers to enter into collusion with one another in order to break a strike. As our spokesman, Deputy Toddy O'Sullivan, indicated we will be putting down amendments to this section on Committee Stage.
The Labour Party welcome the setting up of the labour relations commission. However, we have some reservations about the removal of the conciliation service from the Labour Court. Because this service is now being given to a new body, possibly the commission, the processing of certain industrial disputes could remain with the commission for too long a period and in that way delay the settling of a strike. We would prefer to see more direct liaison between the industrial relations commission and the Labour Court. As our spokesman has suggested, if the chairman of the Labour Court is also chairman of the commission there would be more liaison between the two bodies and this could lead to the more  effective and speedy resolution of trade disputes.
I want to refer to worker participation in industry. Sufficient progress has not been made in this area. In industrial relations, contradictory information can come from a company at stages which are not too far apart. If this happens the trust the workers have in the management is undermined. It is important that workers are in a position to receive accurate and continuing hard information from management. Proper industrial relations in a firm depend on a team effort where everybody is pulling in the same direction. If this is to happen there must be trust on both sides. The Minister should address this issue in order to ensure that the Bill will work more effectively. With regard to worker participation and trade union membership, there is a phenomenon at present that industries which set up here with foreign capital have no contract finalised with a trade union. In other words companies which do not have trade union membership are being State funded. We believe this is totally contradictory and totally at variance with the spirit of this Bill which, as I have said, we welcome in very many ways.
I want to refer to the Labour Court, the employment appeals tribunal and related representation of workers. I have noticed that employers are availing more and more of the services of lawyers and solicitors at hearings. Employees are usually very ably represented by their trade union official. When the Labour Party motion was being discussed during Private Members' Business last week it was indicated that free legal aid should and could be applied to representation at these tribunals. Indeed the Minister for Justice indicated that it would be useful if this area was examined by his colleague the Minister for Labour. I ask the Minister to look at this possibility in the context of this Bill. If workers are being disadvantaged in the sense that employers can provide legal representation at a tribunal it is only just that an employee who cannot provide the same legal representation should receive  free legal aid from the State. The Minister should work at plugging this hole.
Most of the speakers who have contributed to this debate alluded to the rationalisation of trade unions. I want to add my voice to those who welcomed the amalgamation of the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union and the Federated Workers' Union of Ireland into one big union. As a trade union member my experience has related to teacher unions. There are moves afoot all the time to amalgamate the three teacher unions. Members of the Irish National Teachers Organisation can now qualify for university degrees and this is bringing the qualifications of teachers at the various levels closer together. Indeed a parliamentary question was put down to the Minister for Education today asking her if she intended to allow St. Patrick's teacher training college in Drumcondra to provide BAs and other degrees. Rationalisation of the teacher unions would enable central education issues to be dealt with in a more global and general sense to the benefit of everybody involved in teaching. The amalgamation of unions in any area is to be welcomed.
I would like to refer to the European Social Charter and the introduction of a minimum wage which I believe is fundamental to all industrial relations. One of the major difficulties facing many people — I am talking about people on social welfare with families of four, five and six children — is that it is more beneficial for them to be on social welfare than working in many of the lower paid jobs available at present. The whole ethos of employment is being undermined and seriously damaged by this. This Bill needs to address many of the major problems in the workplace which give rise to industrial disputes. The wage levels in some areas, particularly in the part-time and seasonal areas in the building trade in some instances, need to be tackled. A minimum wage needs to be brought in because at present when employment is sadly curtailed it is an employer's time, and unscrupulous employers are making very good use of this to drop wage levels and disimprove  the conditions of employees in various employments.
We worry about the fact that this Bill does not provide an inalienable right to strike. This is the one real weapon the employee has at the end of the day. In regard to the machinery we have here for conducting secret ballots — and I know from my experience in trade unions that there are occasions when secret ballots are important and useful—one questions the advisability and the viability of having secret ballots on forms of industrial action other than strikes. It would seem cumbersome. Another major worry concerns the conducting of secret ballots. What, at the end of the day, are the real safeguards here? How can the Minister, the Labour Court or the commission ensure that secret ballots are carried out in a fair and objective way so that no element of intimidation or otherwise can be attached to them?
We welcome the fact that employers are being limited in their ability to have recourse to ex parte injunctions where injunctions are sought for frivolous or mischievous reasons during trade disputes. This is an area that should have been tackled long since and we compliment the Minister on now doing so.
The new commission will bring in codes of practice and procedures and can set up joint labour committees, but it can also abolish them. This is an area that gives us some cause for concern because where joint labour committees exist in firms they have, by and large, been successful. If the commission decided that it wanted to take extra powers to itself, to broaden its base and to become more influential in the whole area of industrial relations, it could seek to eliminate these other tiers. This is something that would concern us as well.
In conclusion we welcome the Bill, but we have a number of reservations about it which the Labour Party spokesman on Labour enunciated. To summarise, one of the areas I would be most concerned about is the curtailment of secondary picketing. One remembers a strike in Britain not so long ago when they were faced with flying pickets becoming part  of the scene. None of us welcomes this phenomenon. We see it as being negative and counterproductive in terms of industrial relations. Nevertheless, if employers can enter into a conspiracy to undermine the position of their employees while those employees are on strike, then the Bill would seriously weaken the workers' strengths and protections. I will be asking the Minister to have a look at this again. We certainly would not welcome wildcat strikes or flying pickets but where there is justifiable cause, where employers are in collusion to prolong a strike in their own interests and solely in their own interests, thereby destroying the position of employees, then this Bill does no service and could do an enormous disservice to employees. The setting up of the commission however and the rationalisation and introduction of the Bill in general is to be welcomed.
Mr. Garland: While in general I welcome the Bill, I feel that it does not address in any meaningful way the whole concept of employment as the main provider of paid work. In our frantic search for jobs it is very easy to lose sight of the fundamental defects in the whole concept of one person employing another. I suppose, in practice, this method will continue for some time but I think this would be the moment to stand back a little and consider the fundamental disadvantages under which workers operate.
I would like to quote a paragraph from Human Scale by Kirkpatrick Sale when he sets out the reality behind industrial employment, particularly as it relates to large scale private enterprise:
We do not vote on nor have any say whatsoever in what our company will do or make, how it will raise money or invest its profits, or for the most part how it will operate the offices and plants in which we work; we normally cannot modify or challenge the decisions that are made for us by a handful of distant people whom we do not elect to, and cannot remove from  office. We have no representation in the financial processes (excepting only as a union may intervene) and normally must accept the salaries, cuts and raises offered by those over whom we have no control.
The trade unions are, within the ambit of the existing law, unable to have any input into these matters. In any event the whole raison d'être of the trade union movement is to protect workers from rapacious employers but the trade union movement as a whole does not challenge the concept or nature of the fundamental employer/ employee relationship but we in the Green Party — Comhaontas Glas — would like to see businesses which comprise one person businesses, small family businesses, workers' co-operatives, or enterprises controlled by the community or in exceptional cases, the State.
It is said that workers' co-operatives are just a Utopian ideal and that they do not work. I accept that there have been problems with the viability of certain workers' co-operatives, but there are many successful ones, including Crannagh Furniture Co-operative and Westport Shoes, just to mention two. The main reason for the failure of many of the co-operatives is that they lack marketing and financial skills. Outside Ireland the co-operative movement is much stronger. I will give just two examples of this. The first is the Mondragon Co-operative in the Basque region of Spain which was founded in 1943 and now has 14,000 copartners. They operate on a totally commercial basis. The other example is the John Lewis partnership in Great Britain which has a similar number of copartners. It should be realised that for businesses growing beyond small family businesses that the workers' co-operative, far from being Utopian is the logical structure for medium and large sized industries in that there is none of the normal divisiveness which one gets in private enterprise.
It has to be said that the present set up in industry, of workers on the one side and the management cum owners on the other, is inherently one which is built on  conflict. The employers' aim is to employ as few people as possible, pay them as little as possible and work them as hard as possible whereas the employees seek to work as little as possible for as much as possible. This may sound like stating the obvious but is nevertheless the basis for our entire industrial system. In other words, industry is basically a battlefield. I accept that this is not usually so in practice but the industrial peace which we have today is a very uneasy peace based on a balance of terror whereas the logic of co-operatives was recognised by Mill — the 19th century economist.
The workers' co-operatives have two intrinsic advantages over conventionally structured businesses. Firstly, workers require no formal supervision, simply direction. These people are under constant supervision from their colleagues. Secondly, in the event of a downturn in trade or any other financial vicissitudes, they will accept pay cuts on the basis that it is their own business and they will benefit at the end of the day when trade improves, whereas in the normal company, while wage cuts are possible, they are very difficult to negotiate. I accept that we are not yet ready to seriously consider the entire restructuring of industry which would be necessary to convert medium and large scale business to workers co-operatives. In the meanwhile much can be done. We need a programme for work-place democracy. This programme will have to go much further than having worker directors which they are by law required to have in Sweden, West Germany and other countries. This does not go far enough. Many years ago the Liberal Party in Great Britain had a policy of co-ownership and profit sharing. That kind of policy would go some way down the road we should be travelling. This would involve the gradual transfer of ownership from the shareholders to the workers. At the same time businesses would be compelled by law to share their profits with the workers. This latter idea may sound radical but at the moment businesses share profits with the Revenue Commissioners so it should not be too difficult a problem.
 It is fair to say, and I agree with the Minister, that we have had quite a long period of relative industrial peace which is very much to be welcomed but there is, of course, no guarantee that this will continue. It is interesting to note that Sweden, which has been held up as a model of ideal industrial relations, has recently been involved in very damaging strikes in banking and other businesses. Therefore, it cannot be assumed that the present favourable climate will continue indefinitely.
To turn to the Bill itself, as I have said, it has many good features and I accept that the ideas behind it are laudible.
In the context of the present system of ownership of business the right to strike should, of course, be maintained but is should be borne in mind that, unfortunately, the effect of strikes, in so far as they concern members of the public, can cause great hardship to the poor, the elderly and women with families, particularly in areas providing essential services.
I welcome the secret ballot requirements and secondary picketing.
All in all, this is a useful Bill which we hope will ensure that our present period of industrial peace, however fragile, will continue, at least for a time.
Mr. Carey: I commend the Minister for bringing in the Industrial Relations Bill, 1989, in that it contains many ideals which have been sought by the trade union movement. Industrial relations play a very important part in the life of this country and have from time to time held up the economy. In recent times good industrial relations have assisted the economy, so the Minister is to be congratulated on the way peace has broken out since he came to this Ministry. I am sure he played no small part in seeing that good relations exist between the trade union movement and employers.
However, the main difficulty I see with industrial relations is that the Bill does not provide for enough in the way of employer participation. I am concerned more about manufacturing industry and service industry than about the public  service side in terms of good industrial relations. The history of this country has varied from place to place and, indeed, there have been areas where industrial relations have broken down continuously particularly in cities of the south. The difficulties there arose probably from traditions that were inherited from other times and maybe because we are adjacent to that little island across the water, called the United Kingdom. I would like to see greater expansion of manufacturing industry so that at least emigration might be halted. This requires confidence in the workers, confidence in the employers, mutual co-operation instead of what I heard Deputy Garland speaking about, total confrontation, all-out war, and some other quaint words he used to describe what is going on. I do not know whether he used the word “revolution” but he was getting fairly near it.
Mr. Ferris: The Green revolution.
Mr. Carey: I wish him and the Green Party well. He will do well if he continues to espouse that doctrine. By and large I got up to speak because I am concerned at the variations in industrial relations. In supporting the amalgamation of trade unions the Minister is moving in the right direction. The model for success in industry has to be West Germany. Look at the industrial relations there and you will find that employer organisations are very compact and strong as are the trade union organisations, although I admit, as Deputy Gilmore pointed out, that worker participation in trade unions in West Germany is not all that high; it is probably less than 50 per cent, but that is more or less because a great many workers, indeed the vast majority in West Germany, are white collar rather than blue collar workers. That explains in part anyway this low participation I have referred to. However, West Germany has enjoyed major industrial success because of the relations there between the employers, the trade unions and the Government.
There is even stronger legislation in  place in the West German Republic to deal with all aspects of industrial relations than the Minister is providing in this Bill. The Minister has gone three-quarters of the way, but in West Germany which I am taking as the ideal industrial base the employers and unions have organised themselves in the legal framework which provides for systems of collective bargaining, effective means of controlling disputes, a court system whereby disputes can be examined and a waiting period during which strikes cannot take place. In order to justify all of this they have in their constitution a provision for the right to strike. We do not have any such provision in our Constitution. All the industrial relations experience there is probably based on the sad difficulties that followed the take-over by the Nazis in the thirties when they formed a corporate state. By and large the West Germans themselves sought to prevent this from ever happening again. They are prepared to involve themselves in the legislation and obey it. The State also assists in catering for employer associations and unions who co-operate with each other in several spheres of public life.
Would it not be revoluntary if there was major participation by the employers, employees and the State in determining social security payments? They have managed to do that to their advantage in West Germany. The boards of management consist of equal numbers of employers and employee representatives so that basic social services such as health, insurance, old age pensions, industrial injuries and unemployment benefits, employment services, industrial training and rehabilitation are entirely in their hands. That is a model the Irish economy might well strive towards. While the amalgamation of unions is taking place we risk bringing along the old habits. I hope that when most of the unions have been rationalised we will have four or five major unions instead of the present proliferation of unions and that they would not employ sharp practices. Legislation to prevent the growth of these practices has to be agreed. The  employers, the Minister and the unions have to sit down and agree these matters.
One aspect of the trade unions I want to refer to is the remoteness of the major centres of advice. I had a sad experience on the industrial estate in Shannon. A major textile company's employees were being advised by one of the major unions on a trade dispute where people were seeking higher payments for batch work. The employer made a final offer but the advice coming from the research officer in Dublin was that the workers should continue with the dispute as the employer would cave in. The employer came over from the head office in the UK and told the workers they had 24 hours to decide on his final offer and settle the matter. The employees were still guided by the head office in Dublin and continued with the dispute with the result that 500 or 600 jobs were lost in the industrial estate because the employer took his equipment out of the industrial estate and moved it to the United Kingdom. I believe the members of that trade union should have received better advice from the intelligence unit of the union. I had the feeling that because the dispute was in County Clare, which is a bit remote from Dublin, the attitude was that the local boys would settle it somehow. I have to say that the local official was very diligent, honest and upright but he took his instructions from union headquarters. The president of the union made a dramatic effort when it was all too late and the bird had flown. The Minister should emphasise the need for standards in advice being given to the lads in the country, that it should be good advice and should not allow a total breakdown in the dispute. This dispute was in the textile industry in the mid-west and at least four other companies have closed down in this area where there had been a great tradition of textile manufacturing.
Irrespective of the good work that the IDA or SFADCo do, I do not think disputes about productivity, demarcation lines or industrial relations should be the  reason that major employment opportunities of this nature are lost. This Bill should go that little bit further in getting all the partners in industry involved. In the long run, if we are to arrest the flow of emigration we will have to concentrate more and more on manufacturing industries. In the current rush the emphasis seems to be on the services industry. While there are problems of industrial relations in the service industry, I believe we must start at the major area which is manufacturing. As I have said, the Federal Republic of Germany is the greatest success since the 1950s in the industrial relations field. They have managed to quadruple production. They have low inflation and a very high standard of living and at present the West German economy is taking steps to absorb the difficulties in East Germany which are very deep indeed.
I welcome the Bill. Indeed, I have already praised the Minister for his successful work but I think more attention should be paid to the system that operates in the Federal Republic of Germany and I hope that could be incorporated in Irish law.
Mr. McGrath: I am happy to welcome the Industrial Relations Bill and I compliment the Minister on bringing it before the House. The Bill will have an impact on Irish industry and will improve industrial relations in the country. Many aspects of the Bill will be welcomed both by employees and employers. It will serve to improve employer-labour relations. It will provide a mechanism for discussion and consultation on disputes and it will provide help to facilitate union amalgamations. Let us take those in turn.
First, the Bill provides a framework for unions and employers to draw up and formalise mutually suitable arrangements and agreements. Too often we come across wild-cat strikes, which could have been born out of a hasty decision either on the part of a worker or an employer. In the past these disputes have  too often assumed proportions that were enormous. How often have strikes developed from something trivial to such proportions that neither side could take the initiative to resolve them? How often has our national image been tarnished because of the high rate of unofficial strikes? How often have companies lost valuable orders because of such strikes? I think the Bill will give a format not only to help to prevent strikes and provide a consultative process, but to help the Irish drive for new industry and the creation of new jobs. I also welcome the appointment of a commission which will have a very important consultative role. Consultation should be the key word in legislation. If we have a consultative process in place we can avoid many strikes. This Bill will provide for that process by making provision for organising the workers, their arrangements and agreements with the employers. This can only be welcomed.
An aspect of the Bill which particularly pleases me is that there will be help for unions to amalgamate. It is disturbing that we have about 85 unions with their own small interest groups. It would be much more pleasing and satisfying to see the unions amalgamated and working together in larger units.
As a teacher I should like to refer briefly to the amalgamation of the teachers' unions. On a lighter note, I note that teachers are not defined as workers. They are excluded from the class of workers. Time spent in a classroom — and I have spent perhaps 20 years there — might change one's opinion. The amalgamation of the INTO, the ASTI and the TUI will be very welcome. Their total membership will be in the region of 44,000. One single union will be very strong and will provide a huge amount of teacher power. This will have advantages for teachers. They will have a central bargaining position in relation to pay and conditions. This is to be welcomed. It is also very important that the three teacher  unions should join together in striving to improve facilities for our children. Too often a particular sector of the teaching profession have sought only to improve their own sector of the profession, leaving the others out in the cold. One union will make a difference and will bring teachers together for the betterment of our educational system. One main union will also have the effect of bringing about improvements in conditions. In some cases, the condition of schools is absolutely deplorable. Some of our primary schools are in a lamentable condition. The joining together of the unions and the exercising of one voice will have an effect in putting pressure on the Government to improve facilities.
The amalgamation of the teachers' unions will encourage co-operation and a greater flow of opinion from one sector to another. Very often the primary teachers' union are operating in a vacuum and the secondary teachers are operating likewise. There is no co-operation between the two groups, no pooling of ideas or resources to give a better education to our children, which must be our main objective.
From the employers' point of view the amalgamation of these unions will also be a great help. In future, the Government will have just one union to deal with. This will help in bargaining and negotiating and will improve the general educational system. It will also eliminate a certain amount of friction between the various unions. This was very obvious in the recent debate and vote concerning the Programme for National Recovery. One union was going one way and the other was going in the opposite direction. It can only be a help when they are joined together. The “one-up-manship” which has been a feature of unions in the past may be phased out.
I am delighted to welcome the Bill and I look forward to the next Stage.
Minister for Labour (Mr. B. Ahern): I assure my colleague, Deputy McGrath,  that the exclusion of the teachers is only in relation to going to the Labour Court, not in relation to work.
Mr. McGrath: On a lighter note.
Mr. J. Higgins: It would be remiss of me as a politician and as a member of a teaching union to let this opportunity pass without welcoming this Bill. Like Members from all sides, I commend the Minister on bringing legislation before the House because in doing so he has bitten the bullet which was set aside by a number of his predecessors.
Revamping the trade disputes Act is a major undertaking. It has been there since 1906 and to an extent it has stood the nation, the trade union movement and employers in good stead, but unfortunately it is outdated and outmoded and it does not do the job required by the demands put on industrial relations as we face into the 21st century. I again welcome the Bill and commend the Minister on his determination and foresight in bringing before us something which is badly needed.
The 1906 Act was good in the context of what it was required to do in the atmosphere that prevailed in the early 1900s but unfortunately it is legislation which is based essentially on a system of immunities. It confers no right to strike and provides only partial and uncertain protection. We all accept as a principle of human rights and industrial relations that the right to withdraw labour is fundamental and any law enacted must give legal expression to this right. Unfortunately, it is a right which, in the past, has been abused and, as Deputy McGrath and others said, it has over the years tarnished, by virtue of the number of man days lost and in some cases of the methods employed, the image of industrial relations and the image of the country as a whole. In this regard, I am not in any way trying to compromise workers' rights to strike. We are merely saying that for some reason or other we  have built up over the years — thankfully not laterally — the unenviable reputation of having a considerable number of job losses, man hours and man days lost and consequently a reputation which does not befit a country like this in terms of size or responsibility.
We know that the vast majority of workers are fair-minded, just, equitable, honest people who would never participate in strikes except for this malaise that has set in in certain unions over a period of time and the persistence of certain unions in going too far too often which has led to this rather tarnished image which has been built up. In later years there has been a growing sense of responsibility, and even in relation to unions which have contributed to giving us this unenviable reputation, there has been a growing understanding that people must face responsibility, that they cannot willy nilly go on strike and that by going on strike they are betraying and displaying a selfish attitude.
We must enshrine in our legislation a recognition of the independence and autonomy of the trade union movement. This Bill does this. The courts and the Labour Court should be kept in the background as a last resort in industrial disputes. We hope that is a pattern which will build up over time. We hope that the mechanics put in place will be so clear as to ensure that the court is a place of last appeal. Good trade union law must be unambiguous and crystal clear and should set down predefined rules and regulations. Ambiguity, ambivalence and lack of clarity lead to misunderstanding, confusion and industrial strife. We must have a system that protects the rights of both industry and workers. There is an increasing awareness that mutual respect is of advantage to both sides. Without such respect there is mistrust leading to confusion and industrial strife.
When changing to a rights-based system the precise details of the type of industrial action permitted must be set down as should the methods which are  excluded. This Bill recognises the fundamental right to strike in a structured, responsible, legal fashion. This measure will ensure that workers will have a defence in all civil proceedings. The protection given to workers must stop short where personal injuries are involved and where damage to property is involved and where there is a case of trespass in the course of looking for one's labour rights.
I welcome this measure, particularly the introduction of the secret ballot. We have to remove all taint of intimidation and the only way to do that is to ensure that a person has a secret ballot in the right atmosphere. This is something that has been welcomed by the trade union movement.
I welcome the introduction of regulations prohibiting secondary picketing and the introduction of one week's notice to employers. Pre-emptive or sudden strikes are outmoded, unfair and damaging to all sides. The proposals are good in that they manage to strike a fair balance between workers' rights and employers' rights. Where the rights of the workers are enshrined in legislation we are well on the way to improving industrial relations.
It is good to provide incentives. Where the unions keep within the guidelines of the law they will enjoy the full protection of the law. The positive approach here is good. As a trade unionist my heart and sympathy is with the trade union movement. I want to see it grow and become strong and vibrant. Unfortunately, in other countries union history has not been very satisfactory. For example, in the US the trade unions have been literally squeezed out. There, fewer than 20 per cent of the workforce carry union membership cards and workers are the losers in the long run. That has come about because of a conscious policy on the part of the Government but aided and abetted by the workers and the way in which the unions in the US have managed their affairs. Meeting trade union  members in the States one gets the impression that there is a sense of demoralisation there and many seem to be ready to pass the chalice or put up the white flag. That is not healthy.
In Great Britain under the present regime the unions have taken a severe mauling. A considerable amount of this has been brought on by the trade union movement. One would like to see the unions stage a responsible comback in the UK in the interests of the workforce whom they purport to represent.
Here, the trade union movement is not as strong as it should be. There has been a reduction in the membership of the unions by virtue of the fact that we now have so many part-time workers, a system of sub-contracting, because many companies have gone to the wall and because there have been many early retirements, redundancies and job losses, and because traditional industries have not been able to meet the challenge of the seventies, eighties and the nineties. One has only to look at the number of people involved in affiliations to Congress — 80 unions and 650,000 workers. One gets the impression that there is a lack of unity, cohesion and purpose in the trade union movement. One often gets the distinct impression that the trade union movement does not vocalise in a unified fashion the same type of coherent response one gets from the IFA and the farming organisations, who manage to function under not more than two umbrellas.
Up to now the unions here have been too diffuse. We have only had a few really big players, the ITGWU and the FWUI, the ATGWU, the public sector unions and the craft unions. Everybody must welcome the emergence of a sense of unity among some of the larger unions. But when one looks at congress, they seem to be a rather loose confederation of unions. They do not seem to have the sort of strength required for a coherent  policy. For example, congress can persuade unions but they cannot compel unions to stick to any national agreement.
In defence of the unions, I do not think we have got anything like the rewards unions should be given in the Programme for National Recovery. Unions have made a supreme sacrifice. They have been prepared to take wage increases on a par with — and sometimes below — the level of inflation. They are barely managing to keep pace with the level of inflation, that is a fairly substantial sacrifice at a time when wages are relatively low, when the average industrial wage is, unfortunately, too low and when many people would be better off on social welfare than working in a low income regime.
The Programme for National Recovery has tied workers to a national wage agreement and one might justifiably ask, after all the sacrifices made by the social partners — mainly the workers — where is the beef in terms of giving workers a decent industrial wage, but particularly in terms of producing jobs and, consequently, enhancing and improving union membership? There is no beef there because when you look at the scale of job losses as against purported increases in employment, job losses unfortunately are in the ascendancy, which was not the intention of the programme. I hope, when the next Programme for National Recovery is undertaken — and this side of the House have been responsible in encouraging participation in a further programme of this kind — that there will be a greater recognition of the role and sacrifices made by the unions in this regard.
The litmus test is job creation and that has not been delivered on. I should like to see — and it is part and parcel of the congress policy as well — no more than ten unions which would lead to solidarity, cohesion and a better industrial relations policy all round. Like all sides of the House I particularly welcome the long overdue merger of the ITGWU and  FWUI into SIPTU which came about after a certain amount of trepidation. We hope that that will become the flagship, the guiding principle and the pioneer for further major rationalisation and amalgamation of the trade union movement.
In 1975 the then Minister for Labour, Deputy Michael O'Leary, introduced the Trade Union Act, the intention of which was to bring about the type of process we have seen in the new SIPTU development. It was to facilitate mergers but, unfortunately, it was underutilised. As Deputy McGrath said, there are many obvious areas of potential for union amalgamation and assimilation. He rightly instanced the obvious area of development which is the amalgamation of the teacher unions. Back in the sixties under the chairmanship of Professor Louden Ryan, Trinity College, the common basic salary scale was introduced. Before that the primary teachers were at the bottom of the scale, the vocational teachers were on another level, secondary teachers were on another level and the new elite corps of the teaching profession — the comprehensive schools — were in the top bracket. When we managed to get a common basic salary scale for people who were fundamentally doing the same job and, by and large, working the same hours, one would have thought that there would have been a natural tendency on the part of the unions to converge. Unfortunately, one teaching union represent vocational teachers and part of the staff of community and comprehensive schools, the ASTI represent secondary teachers and some of the staffs in community and comprehensive schools and the INTO represent primary teachers. They all get the same pay cheques, allowances, superannuation rights and degree allowances, yet they work as three parallel but separate and distinct entities. At Easter all the teacher conferences will be held at various venues, all representing the same body of people, all with the same aims and aspirations, traditions and  values, but yet they cannot come together.
The educational process, teachers and trade union policy and industrial relations would be well served if these teaching unions would do the obvious thing and come together once and for all. Unions are too disparate and fragmented and, consequently, they do not have the sense of cohesion which is needed. When one considers that only seven trade unions opted for merger between 1981 and 1985 it is very obvious that this legislation, which exhorts and encourages this movement, is very welcome indeed.
I want to see the process accelerated. I welcome the legislation because it is to the mutual advantage of unions and industry and ultimately for the nation as a whole. I commend the Minister who is doing a relatively good job and who seems to have managed to establish with the trade union movement a rapport and a sense of identification which is doing quite an amount to improve the industrial atmosphere.
Mr. Kavanagh: It was not my intention to participate in this debate because it has been adequately covered by spokesmen from this side of the House. Nevertheless, as I was a former Minister for Labour it is hard to resist speaking in this important area of the legislative process.
As has been said time and time again, the 1906 Act was the bedrock of trade union legislation, not only in this country but in Great Britain. The fact that it did not attract legislative change over many years is to its credit in that the trade union movement always believed it to be the fundamental legislation on which their operations were conducted over many years. Despite the fact that Members said that the trade union movement have created difficulties in the area of disputes it can be said that many have been avoided because of the operation of the trade union movement under that Act.
 In 1982 and 1983, when it was considered necessary to bring that law up to date, it was my responsibility to invite both sides in industrial relations — the employers and the trade unions — to form a standing committee to debate changes which could be agreed on. The committee operated for at least one year during my time as Minister and a great deal of progress was made. Unfortunately, a great deal of progress needed to be made and the process continued when I left office. I was sorry that it was not possible to see the final consideration of their deliberations. At one stage the committee broke up as they could not agree and it is to the Minister's credit that he persisted and produced a Bill which has generally met with acceptance by the trade union movement and the employers.
There will always be disagreements on the contents of a Bill of this nature, it is probably the most important legislation we have had to debate since this Government came to power. It will affect more people than many other Bills over which we have had to pore in the last two years or more. In that respect, I commend the Minister for his patience in bringing forward legislation that will improve industrial relations.
I am sure the Bill will be amended on Committee Stage and I know the Minister will be listening attentively to comments made on this side of the House. Indeed, people, particularly on this side of the House, have had to operate previous legislation in their own business outside this House as employers and trade unionists.
The country is watching the passage of this Bill with a great deal more interest than perhaps would have been the case many years ago. The Minister has had the benefit of a period of relative industrial peace and that is to his credit. Previous Ministers came to office when industrial relations were difficult and the strike record was probably at its highest. I had  the misfortune to arrive in the Department which the Minister now occupies when industrial relations were at their most difficult. I can recall in 1981 when I became Minister there were at least four strikes, one being the CIE strike which had to be attended to there and then. I had responsibility not only for the private sector but also for the public sector. As Minister for the Public Service I found a certain amount of difficulty in that area also. The climate is now right in which to produce legislation such as this. The Minister is not preoccupied with trying to get buses on the road or power to homes and factories and there are no difficulties such as those which arose with Ranks and so on in the past. Because of the arrangements which have been made with the Government and the trade union movement the Minister has had an opportunity to look at the legislation and get the goodwill of all concerned.
The Bill deals with trade union law and proposes changes to the 1906 Act. It attempts to solve problems with secondary picketing, introduce ballots, regulate the granting of injunctions, including ex parte injunctions, and facilitate the rationalisation of the trade union movement. It also proposes to introduce an industrial relations commission. They are the main and most important areas dealt with in the Bill, apart from other activities which the Minister is taking the opportunity to regularise. The section relating to secondary picketing is very important. I would not be in total agreement with the limitation being put on secondary picketing. I think there will be problems in its operation rather than in its acceptance. Difficulties arose in England in the Wapping area and with the miners strike and that is something I would not like to see repeated in this country. We hope this Bill will help towards eliminating that type of activity.
If the Minister, in this legislation, confines picketing to the employer who is in dispute or to a company whose main business is with that employer, difficulties  will arise for the trade union movement. All secondary picketing cannot be seen from the public side as bad in itself. There are good reasons for secondary picketing in that collusion takes place and conspiracies are arrived at with employers to enable strikes to be broken. That may mean collusion and conspiracy with firms who would appear on the surface to have nothing to do with the strike in question and it may be necessary for the trade union movement to highlight that by having secondary picketing. I would underscore that because I know in this country we would condemn a lot of the type of secondary picketing that has taken place across the water. On the other hand we know that activities take place between employers and firms to ensure that an end is brought to a strike. As I have said, I have some reservations regarding confining secondary picketing to a very narrow area. There may be some difficulty in regard to that section, section 9 of the Bill.
I would give an example of one area where a strike is taking place at present, that is the Barlow radiator company. I know a little about radiator companies. In this case the company appear to have extended their business abroad and a great deal of the activity that formerly took place in this country seems to have been transferred to an operation in Great Britain. Obviously we cannot legislate for what happens in Great Britain but where it affects workers in this country and it is seen by those workers to be eliminating their jobs and transferring them to another area, I wonder how secondary picketing would operate if those people were to go to Great Britain. Perhaps they would be in breach of British industrial relations laws. When the Minister meets his counterpart as President of the Council of Employment Ministers perhaps he would raise that matter and try to bring about an end to that strike.
Another area dealt with in the Bill is that of ballots. To the general public who  would have no dealings with strikes balloting seems a reasonable and democratic way of ensuring that a decision is arrived at. From my experience of the Veha strike in Wicklow, perhaps if this had been a requirement at a very early stage in that dispute it might have been resolved at a much earlier stage but that was not the case.
I would go a long way in agreeing with what the Minister is endeavouring to do in this area. We are elected to this House and we know the amount of legislation that covers balloting in our particular area, whether it be in regard to general elections, local elections or whatever. We know the extent to which people will go to interfere with a ballot. I do not think this legislation covers to the same extent the holding of ballots, nor indeed would we expect it to but it is a little weak in regard to how ballots are to be carried out, where and who oversees them.
There are companies and firms of all sorts and sizes and they are spread over many different areas of the country. One section of a firm may be approached on a ballot on one basis and another section may be approached on a different basis. The office staff who may be trade unionists may be approached on one way for their ballot while the shop floor workers may be approached in a totally different way. There may be two or three different unions in the work place with different approaches as to how the ballot should be taken. I know it is stated in the Bill that all the results would be collated and a decision made on the final result but I hope the Minister will ensure that whatever way ballots are carried out there will be no intimidation or that intimidation could be brought to the lowest level. Part of the problem arose in the past where ballots were taken by a show of hands on the shop floor.
We know that pressure is brought by certain elements to ensure a particular result, at least the ballot is a step away  from that. That does not mean that that type of pressure will not continue. I suggest that ballots should be taken from the shop floor and, perhaps, away from the firm. I am not referring to a unit of ten or 12 workers but where several hundred are involved I do not see why the ballot should not take place at the union's headquarters or local branch office. There could be a strict surveillance of the ballot in such venues. I appeal to the Minister to consider that suggestion.
It has been said that the provisions in the Bill will facilitate the rationalisation of the trade union movement. Some people believe that it will bring an end to many of the problems in the trade union movement. Others believe that if rationalisation meant we would be reducing to one union — they hold up the German model as one we should work towards — we would be better off. We do not need the First World War or the Second World War to rationalise the trade union movement. The move has got under way in the trade union movement to rationalise and r sit is being encouraged by grants from the Department of Labour. I look forward to more rationalisation taking place.
The practices of members of some trade unions have changed over the years. I am thinking in particular of those in the crafts unions. Their practices have changed because of different work methods used, the introduction of technology and the type of materials used. It is because of those changes that some skilled people are not as necessary as they were in the past. We are all aware that practices in the building industry have changed in the last 20 or 30 years. Workers in Aer Lingus now have the flexibility to change their operations and the company are able to attract more contracts from abroad. Where trade union practices have been seen to be blocking expansion the unions have adopted a more enlightened approach. There is a willingness within the trade union movement to ensure that rationalisation takes place.
I am glad the Bill encourages further  rationalisation in the trade union movement. We will always have exceptions however. We cannot expect goldsmiths to join with plumbers. The various trades and crafts are jealous of their position and are anxious to ensure that their voices are heard. However, it is my belief that as members of a larger trade union they will be able to protect their position in the same way as members of a small union can. Rationalisation will be of benefit to all union members.
Section 14 provides that two years after the passing of the Bill the rules of every trade union will contain a provision that no strike or industrial action will take place without a secret ballot of all members whom it is reasonable for the union concerned at the time of the ballot to believe will be called upon to engage in the strike or industrial action.
Not all employees are organised in unions. That is a pity and it would be better for industrial relations here if they were. In some industries unions are only partially organised. If office staff, for example, are not organised and the shop floor staff are, will the Minister say how he intends to meet such a problem? Will it be necessary for a majority of the employees to be members of a trade union before a ballot can take place? If the majority of employees are not members of a union, will their view prevail over those who are in a trade union? The Bill should make it clear how such a mix of employees will be catered for.
The Bill states that notwithstanding a majority vote favouring industrial action the committee of management of the trade union will have full discretion in relation to the organisation of industrial action. That is perfectly reasonable. The national executive of any trade union should have the last say. They are the guiding figures in the trade union movement and they are experienced enough to be able to gauge the benefit of a strike even if some members believe that that action should be adopted. I am glad that that provision is included in the Bill.
Under the Bill a trade union must make  known to the members entitled to vote in a particular ballot the result of a secret ballot as soon as practicable after the vote. That is important. Where members of a union feel a strike is necessary in order to resolve a problem they should not be left hanging while others pore over the results of a ballot or wait for voting papers to arrive from remote parts of the country. Where a ballot involves members over a wide area there is no reason, through the use of modern telecommunications and computers, the result cannot be made available within a short space of time. For example, problems could arise in the case of a dispute involving forestry workers. The dispute may be a local one and I do not think the workers involved should have to wait for the votes of their colleagues in other parts of the country.
The Minister should ensure that facilities and personnel from his Department are made available to speed up the ballots. If such assistance is requested by a trade union the Minister should give favourable consideration to it.
The establishment of the new Industrial Relations Commission with responsibility for the promotion of good industrial relations is another important feature of the Bill. I am happy with that provision but we must take into consideration how such bodies operated in the past. I should like to pay tribute to the officials of the Department for the effort and time they have put into their task in the past. The Minister in providing for the establishment of such a commission can be confident that those appointed have experience of dealing with trade disputes over the years. I do not see any need for concern about the new arrangement. The people appointed have dealt with many problems and know how to approach them. Therefore, any change in methods always causes concern. The new Labour Relations Commission will be combining all the activities of the conciliation service and the Rights Commissioners, etc. An initial approach  will be made through the new commission where a strike is contemplated or where there are disputes but we will have to wait to see whether the operation of the commission will prove a more efficient procedure than has been the case in the past. The operation in the past was relatively good and relatively efficient but if it can be improved, that is to be welcomed.
I hope the section of the commission that will take over the functions of the joint labour committees will maintain, if not add to, the numbers or do away with joint labour committees where they see fit. I hope there will be an input by the trade union movement in that area because although not everybody in the country is in a trade union, the unions have a very strong commitment to those in poorly paid employments who, perhaps are actively discouraged from joining a trade union movement and whose needs are generally met by the joint labour committees. I hope that before any additions or subtractions are made in that area, there will be full consultation with the trade union movement to ensure that the needs of those many hundreds of thousands of people who are not organised will be always safeguarded.
I am well aware that the Government are putting great emphasis on the expansion of the hotel and catering industry in terms of employment. In that case the Minister will want to ensure that in that whole area the people would be encouraged to join trade unions so that workers in the hotels and catering trade get proper recompense for the work they do. We are only too well aware that there still exists in all of that area a very low wage structure, a structure that I believe militates against a great deal of employment and discourages people who are in receipt of unemployment benefit or assistance from taking some of the jobs on offer because of the hours they are expected to work and because of the low level of remuneration. They would probably  consider it not worthwhile taking such work. I am asking the Minister to ensure that there is more activity on the part of the joint labour committee so that they can bring about a greater return, better remuneration for workers in the hotel and catering industry and perhaps even some yield for Revenue if wages are brought to a level where they are taxable.
The conciliation service of the Labour Court will now be part of the new commission. One would have to read the list of results from the Labour Court to realise how much work is done in this area, the number of strikes that have been avoided by the court's intervention, and the great service they have given. Likewise, in times of very serious labour disputes in industries that have an effect on the whole population the ability of the Minister to call in the Employer Labour Conference and the Rights Commissioners to deal with these particularly difficult strikes was most important. I did not have very much time to look over the Bill but I hope that the ability to continue with the operation of the Employer Labour Conference will not be removed because of this Bill.
I would like to inquire from the Minister what his position will be in the future. It would seem to me that although we had a conciliation service, rights commissioners and full hearings of the Labour Court, at the end of the day some people felt that their particular industrial difficulties could not be adequately met unless the Minister intervened; that will always be the ultimate demand in certain areas. It is sometimes felt that the Minister can do something which all the other agencies and all the machinery cannot do. For the two and a half years I had the responsibility I resisted entering directly into any dispute. I know that various Minister since have carried out that policy and that has been to the benefit of the Labour Court. I am not sure whether the Minister's position is adequately catered for in this Bill but, perhaps, we will hear from him on that topic and on  whether he will have that dominant role, the court of last appeal when this Bill is passed. I hope he will take the opportunity to discourage that practice because it is accepted now that if all the machinery of the Labour Court is used, the final decision should be binding. I hope that will be the position.
I join with the other Deputies in complimenting the Minister on bringing forward this legislation. I would like to think that back in 1983 I played some part in having carried out the initial investigations between both the employers and the trade union movement. We had hoped these would result in a Bill such as this.
Mr. S. Barrett: I want to make a few short comments on this legislation. There is a fair deal of balance in the Bill and I congratulate the Minister on that. Indeed, I congratulate one of his predecessors, Deputy Kavanagh, who had the same quiet and reasonable way of doing his business as Minister for Labour. He seemed to be very successful in that Department.
The Bill is entitled an Act to make further and better provision for promoting harmonious relations between workers and employers. It is that spirit of the Bill I would like to speak to because it is no secret that in the past number of years a general fear has built up between employers and some trade unions. Instead of working together to build a better relationship, to improve business and provide a better standard of living for those who are in employment and to create jobs for those who are not, there was a great deal of mistrust between both sides at various times. That was part of our difficulty.
I welcome the provision in relation to a secret ballot. That will go some way to allaying fears that people are forced out on strike without having a real say in whether they want to do so. I was once in a position when I was an employee of finding myself on the street for eight  weeks. After a few weeks I do not think anybody in the company could really say why they were on strike. That was not uncommon in the past, in so far as things got to a certain point. There was a breakdown in communications between the employer and the representatives of the employees and suddenly tempers got a little frayed and things happened that should never have happened. I think this is a very sensible move and it will do nothing but good for developing a harmonious relationship between both sides. You will find from time to time that strikes occur for various reasons and people start thinking that they are getting a bad deal because they see certain things happening. That is happening at present to the employees who accepted a reasonable wage increase in the interests of getting our economy back on a proper footing. It is fair to say that some of these employees feel cheated. Profits are being made by their employers while they are making all the sacrifices and a fairly high percentage of their income is taken from their wage packet in tax and PRSI. Costs are going up all the time and those employees who have to pay a mortgage feel very sore because what they may have received in terms of tax relief as a result of a small reduction in PAYE has suddenly disappeared out the window because of the increase in mortgage rates. We all know about the problems which will follow on from higher wage increases: there will be higher rates of inflation which will lead to more people on the dole queue so that nobody will gain.
I avail of the opportunity whenever I can to express a theory which I genuinely believe will go a long way towards resolving that problem, that is, the encouragement of employee profit sharing or share ownership in companies. I do not think we have done enough to encourage employers to invite their employees, through their trade unions, to engage in profit sharing or share ownership. We have failed miserably to show an example  ourselves. As employers, through commercial States bodies, we have not taken that initiative. In the Finance Act, 1982, a limited amount of tax relief was given in regard to dividends on employee share holdings. This concept should be developed. If we manage to build the sort of harmonious relations mentioned in this Bill shareholders and employees will share in the rewards during the good times and rather than high wage bills leading to forced redundancies people will still have jobs, even though they may not earn as much, because of a reduction in the profit-take they will get during the bad times. It is better to gain in the good times and to at least have a job when the bad times come compared to what is happening at present. There are occasions when employees feel cheated and, as I have said, we should lead the way by offering shareholdings in commercial State bodies to employees. It makes good sense to do this.
The establishment of a new labour relations commission is a very good concept. The process of conciliation is very positive. However, I notice that the Minister of the day will have to appoint the membership of such a commission. I fail to understand why Ministers always have to have responsibility for the appointment of members to commissions and boards. We have all heard the allegations that it is an opportunity for us to fix up our friends. This defeats the purpose of what we are trying to do. It would be better for the Minister to have some say in the appointment of a percentage of a board or commission, and other bodies could also nominate people. This would give the impression of greater independence.
Minister for Labour (Mr. B. Ahern): We always do that in the labour area. The social partners appoint four out of the six members and the poor Minister for Labour only appoints the minority, unlike every other Department.
Mr. S. Barrett: It says in section 24 that the commission shall consist of a chairman and six ordinary members who shall be appointed by the Minister.
Mr. B. Ahern: That has been the law since the foundation of the State.
Mr. S. Barrett: I am only commenting on what the Bill says at present. It is unwise to continuously make that provision.
Mr. Rabbitte: If I may say so, the Deputy is doing very well.
Mr. S. Barrett: I thank the Deputy for the compliment.
Mr. T. O'Sullivan: It is a move to the left.
Mr. S. Barrett: As I said repeatedly over the weekend, I am not interested in labels, I am interested in action.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I am sure Deputy Barrett is not advertising the fact that he is in need of assistance from any source.
Mr. Rabbitte: I thought that is what they were saying at the weekend.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Tá sé sin thart.
Mr. S. Barrett: Too many people both inside and outside of this House spend their time concerning themselves about labels as distinct from doing things. I am here to say things, and I am expressing an opinion. I do not know whether it is left or right to say it is better to leave it to representative groups to appoint people. It is a new one on me if that is a left approach. If it is, so be it.
The concept of a labour relations commission is a very good one. I listened carefully to what my colleague, Deputy Liam Kavanagh, whom I respect very  much — his record speaks for itself — had to say about this whole area. He expressed a fear about the secret ballot and said that there could be abuses. I suggest — I have not thought this through fully — that perhaps the labour relations commission could play a role in this respect if a returning officer was appointed. If they are in the business of conciliation and supervision they could offer an advisory service in respect of industrial relations. I am certain they would be capable of playing a part by providing a returning officer to supervise these secret ballots. That is partly why I believe the more independence this commission have the better. This would be a positive way of gaining respect for the commission. Perhaps the commission could be used in supervising secret ballots and have a supervisory role.
I listened to what Deputy Kavanagh had to say about part-time workers. It is very hard to understand why so many people are on the dole queue while at the same time a large number of part-time workers are engaged in various industries. It would appear that it is policy in many instances to employ students on a part-time basis rather than provide regular jobs for employees. Deputy Kavanagh referred to the hotel trade. Anybody who visits supermarkets will know that the turn-over in these supermarkets of young staff who are engaged in third level education is staggering. These students are not being paid a reasonable wage; yet I am sure many people who are left on the dole queue could fill these posts. I do not see anything in this legislation — perhaps I am wrong and the Minister will correct me — which deals with part-time workers and possible abuses in this area. When the Minister is replying to the debate perhaps he will make reference to this point. I am not denying students or young people the opportunity to earn some money. We did the same when we were trying to subsidise our education and keep a little money in our pocket. I  do not want to sound begrudging in that respect.
It is noticeably on the increase and the Minister for Finance who has just arrived here helped to encourage this to some extent because of the provision he made in relation to PRSI and the very low exemption limit of £50 or £60 a week. I would say the reality is that there are very few people employed on a full-time basis at £60 a week.
Mr. Spring: I am grateful to you, a Cheann Comhairle, for giving this matter your consideration and for giving me time on the Adjournment. One may wonder why I sought to raise it this evening given that the matter has already been raised in this House on the Adjournment previously and that there has been a full Private Members' debate as recently as last week. I am concerned about this matter. I am particularly concerned about the time lag between the original severe storms on 16 and 17 December and now, heading into the middle of the month of March, with no sign of a report from the Government.
I am also prompted to make my request this evening by a rather strange interview given on radio today by the Minister of State at the Department of Education, Deputy Fahey, when he expressed his concern and called on the Government to take some action in these matters. I would have thought he would have access to the Government, and certainly to the Minister involved in the task force if he wanted to make a contribution to the workings of that task force. I wonder if I am being overly suspicious in thinking that there is a serious problem when the Minister of State is not in a position to get information from his Cabinet colleagues or that he is taking steps to put himself on the right side of  the public if the task force do not fulfill their task.
The questions I set out today, and which I would like the Minister for Finance to answer this evening are: How many meetings of this ministerial task force have taken place? He might clarify who is chairing the meetings, if there is a full-time permanent chairman, and if the task force have been as yet, in a position to report to the Government. Perhaps the Minister could also inform us if we, the Members of the House, are going to have access to the report which is being prepared. I would urge that the report be published because it is very important that every Member would have access to the information being compiled by the Cabinet.
In the course of the previous contributions in this House on storm damage and coastal erosion, it was important to distinguish between them. People have made claims for their own localities and obviously reported first hand on the severe flooding throughout the midlands and the severe damage to coastal areas around the whole country. It is important that all Members should have access to the report. In that respect I would urge the Minister to ensure that the report is laid before the House, and certainly that it is put in the Library so Members can have access to it and we can all see the nature of the damage in toto and the scale and size of the problem. Most of us have an idea of how severe the problem is. There have been reports done by local authority engineering staff and I am aware that experts from the Departments of the Marine, Agriculture and Food, the Office of Public Works and other Departments, have visited various locations throughout the country. It is important that we get a clear and concise picture of the scale of the problem this country is facing. I do not believe I am being alarmist when I say we are facing a problem of enormous proportions in relation to the immediate storm damage  and the on-going coastal erosion. We have a Coastal Protection Act of 1963 which has become totally ineffective given that the local authorities are not in a position, because of the stringent financial regimes that have been imposed on them over the last number of years, to make a 50 per cent contribution towards works that might be carried out.
The Minister for Finance, who will ultimately have to carry the responsibility, will need to provide aid which this Government will not be in a position to provide out of its own resources. It will be necessary for us, therefore, to seek aid from the European Community and I believe that we should be seeking aid on the basis of long-term projects first, to eliminate the constant wasting of our coastline which has been taking place down through the years; all around the country people can give examples of land literally vanishing by virtue of the ravaging seas which have been pounding on the coastline down through the years.
Another factor which gives rise to great concern is the recently published report in relation to weather forecasts and the fact that over the next number of years we will have to face the type of storms we had this winter. In that respect it is of major importance that in an organised and orderly fashion, we take steps to protect the coastline. Otherwise areas, such as the Maharees Peninsula around County Kerry, will be threatened with being separated from the mainland. If this happens we will be faced either with a community of around 160 people moving into other parts of the Dingle Peninsula at enormous expense or with building a bridge if that is possible. I am sure there are many such examples in all the other counties.
I ask the Minister to give some indication, from the information he has, of the scale of the problem and what type of programmes the Government will be introducing to give some comfort to those who are living in fear of this happening again if not during the remainder of this  winter then next winter, without any adequate protection being put in place. Most people who live in coastal areas accept a certain amount of risk, a certain amount of hazard, from rising tides and rough seas, but it is extremely important that we give them some comfort in relation to works which are within the competence of the Government to set in train, and this has to be done as quickly as possible.
The storm damage in other areas perhaps can be treated on a once off basis, but I would be far more concerned with the long-term prospects for the coastline, for valuable beaches, farmlands and fishing facilities. That is why I sought the opportunity to raise this matter, a Cheann Comhairle, and I am grateful for your consideration and for the Minister's presence to give us some information on this very important situation.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): As my colleague, the Minister for the Environment, pointed out in the Dáil last week, a Cabinet sub-committee are currently assessing reports on the overall damage and expect to finalise their report to the Government within the next week. I have already made a progress report to the Government on the work of the sub-committee and I can assure the Deputy that Government decisions on the report of the sub-committee will be taken at the earliest possible date. In fact, the sub-committee meet again tomorrow in the hope of finalising their report for Government. At last Friday's meeting there were still some unfinished reports from some of the experts who have been looking at the coastal erosion Deputy Spring refers to, and some assessments by the Department of Agriculture and Food of the level of damage could not finally be made until some of the waters had abated. It is not true to say there has not been a response from the Government already. The House will be aware that the Minister for the Environment has already made  moneys available to certain local authorities and money is provided in the budget for certain areas of the east coast that were badly damaged at that time, for which reports and assessments had been made. Therefore, there have been responses.
I take this opportunity to clarify the position regarding EC aid. The EC Structural Funds provide aid for economic development measures including provision for infrastructure. Facilities to mitigate the effects of weather or to deal with the aftermath of storms and disasters do not as a general rule qualify for aid in this area. Such measures were not, therefore, included under the Community support framework which, as we all know, is a legal basis for committing aid from the Structural Funds to Ireland over the period 1989-93. A small part of the Structural Funds is set aside for special Community initiatives to provide aid for measures that are regarded as a priority at Community level. An amount of 3.1 billion ECU is available for these initiatives. The EC Commission has allocated 2.1 billion ECU already to five initiatives and they do not include aid for storm damage in the member states. The Commission is developing proposals for the remaining one billion ECU and the likelihood is that the emphasis will be on aid for new economic facilities that improve the productive capacity of the economy or fill gaps in the infrastructure directly linked to economic development.
The Structural Funds were never intended to make good the defects of unpredictable and variable weather phenomena. However, the Community maintains a very small fund for humanitarian aid for victims of natural disaster in the Community to show solidarity with them. Provision is made for this in the EC budget every year. The 1990 allocation is four million ECU, very small in relation to the population of the member states, so it is called into play only in severe and extreme cases. Grants are made from the  fund as a general rule when fatalities occur. Ireland suffered two fatalities from the storms on the weekend of 10-11 February and was immediately awarded 150,000 ECU from the EC Fund. A further 50,000 ECU have since been allocated to it from the fund, bringing the total to 200,000 ECU, approximately £153,000. In view of the fact that many more people died from storms in other countries than in Ireland, the Community has treated us as generously as it could from the limited resources available under that heading. I understand that grants from the EC fund will be distributed by the Red Cross and that a common system of criteria for the allocation and distribution of the money has been established throughout the member states.
Deputy Spring knows from a meeting we had today with him and Deputies from Kerry South, a deputation arranged by my colleague Deputy John O'Donoghue, that we had a good, constructive discussion on the problems and dangers that face the Maharees in south Kerry, and I am sure Deputies from other areas around the coastline think their problems are equally serious. As far as I am concerned as chairman of the committee as soon as I get the final details on the reports I will have the matter before Government at the earliest possible date and I have no doubt the Government will make their decision as soon as possible.
Mr. Spring: I have one quick question. Will the report be published?
Mr. A. Reynolds: It is not usual to publish internal reports as the Deputy is aware from his time in Government.
An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Jim Higgins gave me notice of his intention to raise on the Adjournment the subject matter of the need for the extension of  the date for house improvement grants. Deputy Higgins' question is in order. He has ten minutes.
Mr. J. Higgins: Let me seek clarification as to whether the Minister for Finance is taking the reply in relation to the house improvement grants.
Mr. A. Reynolds: The Minister for the Environment is engaged.
Mr. J. Higgins: Let me also seek the permission of the House and your permission, Sir, to share time with my colleague, Deputy John Browne.
An Ceann Comhairle: Is that agreed? Agreed.
Mr. J. Higgins: What I am about to say dovetails neatly into what the Labour Leader, Deputy Spring, has just said, and it is conceded by the Government, that it is only a relatively minor concession but it will at least go some way towards alleviating problems that have arisen as a result of the inclement weather. What I am going to say is obvious, self-evident and reasonable and I earnestly hope the Government will accede to my request.
When the Minister for the Environment abolished the house improvement grants scheme after taking office in 1987, there was general dismay which arose first by virtue of the fact that it was recognised on all sides as being an enormously successful scheme. It had made possible the refurbishment of many houses which had gone in some cases almost beyond redemption. It brought back on to the housing stock houses which were semi-derelict. In addition, it saved the Exchequer finance, in the short term costing it finance, in the long-term saving it finance because by bringing these houses back to a state of reasonable repair in the long term the Exchequer was saved the cost of building local authority houses with all the long procedural wrangling, the red tape and bureaucracy  involved in acquiring sites, legal costs on transfer, setting houses out to tender etc. It was generally acknowledged as being good.
Furthermore, the scheme gave employment to people throughout the length and breadth of Ireland. It encouraged people to register because unless they registered they were not eligible to draw grants. Therefore, small-time contractors came out of the woodwork; people involved in the black economy registered in the legitimate expectation that the scheme was going to stay in place. Unfortunately, the plumbers, blocklayers and plasterers who were brought out into the legitimate, open economy by this measure are tonight in Melbourne, Manchester and Massachusetts.
There was dismay also because a categorical assurance was given on several occasions in this House by the Minister that a guillotine would not be applied in relation to the terminal date for completion of the work. There was a legitimate expectation, again harboured and encouraged by the Minister that people would be given adequate time and certainly there would be no arbitrary concluding date. In fact, the Minister sometime during the summer decided he was going to bring down the guillotine on the scheme and he gave three months to people to complete the work. As a result of representations made by this side of the House and our partners in Opposition, the Minister relented and finally agreed to extend the closure date for the completion of the work to 31 May. There was general acceptance that this was a reasonable provision. After all, it gave people eight months in which to conclude the work.
What happened in the meantime could not have been foreseen. We have had, as is acknowledged statistically, three of the worst months in terms of weather conditions that this country has ever seen. We have had winds, storm, rain, floods and, as a result, it has been impossible to  do the bulk of the work involved in those schemes. Consider that in quite a number of cases the pre-1940 grant scheme entitled a person up to £8,400. In a number of the cases we are talking about restoring roofs, repairing doors and windows, plastering and painting. No reasonable person could legitimately expect anybody to go up on a roof between 1 December and the end of last weekend and, as Deputy Spring has said, unfortunately the prognosis is not good for the future.
We are asking that the Minister extend the date by another three months, until 31 August, to enable this work to be completed. Unfortunately, taking the terms of reference of the scheme as they apply at present, if one has nine-tenths or 99 per cent of the work done but has not the entire scheme finished and notification sent to the Department of the Environment by 31 May, then one loses everything, all. We are asking the Minister to allay people's fears now, to do the decent, reasonable, honourable and the intelligent thing, that is announce forthwith that he is prepared to extend the date by a further three months to ensure that people can maximise the work to be done in the summer period. If he then wants to bring the guillotine down on the scheme, so be it. We ask the Minister, on behalf of the thousands of people who will not qualify otherwise and who cannot be expected to do the work within a reasonable time, to take the matter to Cabinet, make a decision, make the announcement now and in doing so he will have the gratitude and thanks of all involved.
Mr. Brown: (Carlow-Kilkenny): At the outset I must admit I am glad it is the Minister for Finance who is sitting opposite because I was worried about sharing time with two Mayo men. Only a Corkman would be brave enough to take on Mayo men.
I want to repeat more briefly what my colleague has said. I can add to the  account of the storms by describing these floods and I am an expert on flooded houses at this stage. I can see the difficulty of taking on jobs in houses that have been flooded. How could you plaster damp walls? I do not know how long it will take for those houses to dry out, but I would not like to be doing a job in houses that had been flooded with three or four feet of water. The number of jobs to be done in houses that have been flooded will be small as a percentage of the total number of jobs that have to be done, but nevertheless they will come into that category.
As a result of the storms, people who have to replace bad windows will be very slow to give the builder the go-ahead to do the job. I think we would have an Irish Mary Poppins all over the place if some of the storms blew up again. The decision was made in the past few months to extend the completion date but we have now found that two months have had to be written off as no sensible person could have carried out work during the bad weather. Some people were caught out. They had started work on roof extensions and they had to stand by and see everything blown around the place and parts of the inside of the house becoming wet. If there were grounds for extending the date to May I think it is reasonable to give a further extension. In the long run it will cost the same money: the scheme will not be open to new people, we are allowing people to complete the work in better conditions, the house will be drier and the timber will be drier. I do not think we are so super-efficient that somebody would get a stroke if things were not finished exactly as planned. It is not part of our characteristics to do everything on time and that holds for the Department as well.
I do not see this as an area of conflict. It is not a question of the Government backing down but being reasonable in dealing with the exceptional circumstances that have arisen. I think the  Government were quite reasonable in extending the time from November to May and it would be equally reasonable to extend the date to make up for the definite time loss. It is not as if people are coming up with a Mickey Mouse story that they had not time to complete the work on the house because somebody came home from America and they had to go out every night. It is recognised not only in the Dáil but right across the country that people could not do the work.
I ask the Minister not to give the official answer that the scheme has been extended before and could not now be extended again. I have a funny feeling, as I saw the Minister smiling some time ago, that he will tell Deputies to sit down and have sense as they cannot keep extending the scheme. I think the Minister will establish his name once more as a potential leader of a great party if he could accede to our request.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): I could not hear the last comment from Carlow. I am deputising for my colleague, the Minister for the Environment who is in the Hague representing Ireland at the International Environment Conference.
Mr. J. Higgins: No better man.
Mr. A. Reynolds: I welcome the opportunity afforded to me by this debate to put on record again, if that is necessary, the circumstances surrounding the termination of the 1985 house improvement grants scheme and the subsequent decision to set a deadline for the completion of approved works and the lodging of claims for payment.
I do not know if I have to direct these Deputies opposite back to what actually happened when this grant was introduced back in 1985 and the situation in which we found ourselves when we came into Government in 1987. We found at that stage that approvals for grants stood at  £230 million. Deputy Higgins has said it would be the decent thing, the honourable thing and the credible thing to have provided a little money for the payment of those grants and then we would have no problems.
Mr. Browne: (Carlow-Kilkenny): What happened in 1982 when we were in Government?
Mr. A. Reynolds: A line had to be drawn, the scheme was proceeding headlong but there were no provisions made for it, except——
Mr. J. Higgins: In 1982 the grants were all paid out within six weeks.
An Ceann Comhairle: Let us hear the Minister without interruption.
Mr. A. Reynolds: Something had to be done. We drew the line and said there would be no more approvals. We had to come to grips with the amount of money involved. A number of people would not have been paid if the scheme had continued the way it was. We did not put a deadline on the scheme and we let it carry on. I do not think anybody could say that we were unreasonable. We specified a date of November last year for the completion of works. We have heard all the stories before that small builders had a large amount of work outstanding which they could not possibly get done within the time limit and my colleague, the generous-hearted man that he is, extended the completion date to May of this year. We are now only in the early days of March and there is a lot of time left between now and May.
I recognise that there have been problems over the past two months and that time has been lost but I do not think anybody could accuse us of being unreasonable when one considers that some people have had their approval in their hands for four-and-a-half years. Is it credible to allow this to go on and on  and provide money for people when you do not know if they intend to do the work. I would have thought it very reasonable and accommodating that people who have approval to do the job should have been able to have it started in four-and-a-half years if they ever intended to do it. Even with all of the excuses in the world I would have thought that you would have got as far as that. People have had approvals for any time between three years and two months and four-and-a-half years. I take it that the pleas of the Deputies opposite are in good faith, that there may well be people with problems, but are Deputies suggesting seriously that the work will not be completed by May of this year, although this is only the beginning of March?
Mr. Browne: (Carlow-Kilkenny): Some people have not even started on the work.
Mr. A. Reynolds: Despite the fact that they have had approval for three or four years. Do they intend to start at all?
Mr. J. Higgins: If the Minister were doing clinics he would find out.
Mr. A. Reynolds: I hold clinics and I can tell Deputies that before it was extended the last time I had four applicants from County Longford asking for an extension but I have not had any since. I would have thought — I know there were bad floods around Ballinrobe and that there were 12 feet of water in parts, but Longford-Westmeath suffered as badly as any other constituency and I have not had this mad rush at my clinics. In fact I was there last week-end to listen to problems, in case Deputies think I was not. There is still three months to go, March, April and May and you can do a lot of work in three months. However if Deputies have evidence that there are serious problems, I will mention that to my colleague.
We have been most accommodating to people with problems. We have spent  £180 million on the scheme and we have paid out over 100,000 grants, but somebody sometime has to draw the shutter down and I do not think it is unreasonable that it should come down in May. If there  are serious problems in some areas Deputies should put them to my colleague, who can consider them.
The Dáil adjourned at 11 p.m. until 10.30 a.m. on Wednesday, 7 March 1990.
20. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the impending sale of a large portion of Lyons Estate, Celbridge, County Kildare; if she is concerned that the disposal of this property will detrimentally affect research and development in the agricultural industry; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
39. Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to a proposal by University College Dublin to sell part of the Lyons Estate, County Kildare; the part of the estate which will be sold; the cost of replacing the facilities to be sold off; and if the State will recover from the sale the investment made by the State in that property.
234. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education if any funds from the Exchequer were used to update, extend, improve or replace facilities at Lyons Estate, Celbridge, County Kildare; if any of these facilities are being sold off by University College Dublin; the cost of any buildings or improvements at the estate in the past ten years; when such improvements were carried out and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 20, 39 and 234 together.
The question of the reorganisation of teaching and research in the faculty of general agriculture in UCD has been under consideration for some time by the college authorities. This consideration includes the necessity for and the extent to which Lyons Estate is required for teaching and research in the college.
The committee appointed by the governing body to consider this matter has completed its report and a decision has been taken by the college to sell approximately 680 acres of Lyons's Estate, including the house. This decision was taken after due consideration of the needs of the faculty of general agriculture for teaching and research. I have been advised that the college and the Higher Education Authority are satisfied that the sale will not affect the capacity of  the college to undertake any required agricultural research and development.
With regard to the use of Exchequer funds for developments at the estate, a grant-in-aid is paid annually to the Higher Education Authority for the funding of institutions operating under its aegis. A proportion of that grant is allocated by the authority to University College, Dublin and the extent to which it is used to fund individual faculties, or particular aspects of them, including since 1987 the faculties of general agriculture and veterinary medicine, is a matter for the authorities of the college.
Prior to 1987, I understand that the Minister for Agriculture and Food allocated block grants to each of these two faculties and again the extent to which this was allocated to the various activities within these faculties, would have been a matter for the UCD authorities.
The college authorities have indicated, however, that Exchequer funding would have been used to carry out adaptions and necessary maintenance work to the house, which is now to be sold. Additionally, over the past ten years, sums totalling £495,000 were expended on the provision and improvement of facilities at the estate. These works were carried out between 1982 and 1987 and the facilities in question are to be retained by the college.
The proceeds of the proposed sale of part of the Lyons Estate will be applied to improve and develop facilities for teaching and research in a number of areas. Details of the improvements to be carried out will be the subject of further discussions in the college and consultation with the Higher Education Authority and my Department.
21. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education the total number of people in the country recognised as being dyslexic; whether she intends to initiate any particular programme to assist these people; if she has received a submission from the Kildare or National Association for Dyslexia; if she will respond favourably to the request; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): There is no agreed figure among researchers for the proportion of pupils which would present with the range of difficulties commonly referred to as dyslexia. However, it is a very small proportion of the overall number in the school going population who present with learning difficulties.
All fully qualified national teachers have been trained to help pupils with learning disabilities and the principal means by which this help will be supplemented will continue to be the remedial teaching service. I recently sanctioned 30 additional remedial teaching posts bringing the total of such posts to some 900.
I have also recently decided that two pilot projects for the establishment of a primary schools' psychological service be initiated. A purpose of such a service would be an earlier and more comprehensive identification of primary school pupils with learning disabilities of whatever type who would benefit from special remedial action.
My Department has received the submission referred to by the Deputy and has forwarded it to the Primary Education Review Body whose report will take it into account.
22. Miss Flaherty asked the Minister for Education the plans, if any, she has to reduce the pupil-teacher ratio in (a) national schools, (b) secondary schools, (c) vocational schools and (d) community and comprehensive schools.
32. Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Education the plans, if any, she has to reduce the pupil-teacher ratio in (a) national schools, (b) secondary schools, (c) vocational schools and (d) community and comprehensive schools.
37. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Education the plans, if any, she has to reduce the pupil-teacher ratio in (a) national schools, (b) secondary schools, (c) vocational schools and (d) community and comprehensive schools.
50. Mr. Boylan asked the Minister for Education the plans, if any, she has to reduce the pupil-teacher ratio in (a) national schools, (b) secondary schools, (c) vocational schools and (d) community and comprehensive schools.
51. Mrs. Taylor-Quinn asked the Minister for Education the plans, if any, she has to reduce the pupil-teacher ratio in (a) national schools, (b) secondary schools, (c) vocational schools and (d) community and comprehensive schools.
52. Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Education if she has received representations from post-primary teachers' unions to reduce the pupil-teacher ratio from 20 to 1 to 19 to 1 in secondary schools; if her attention has been drawn to the fact that representatives of the unions indicated that their support for the Programme for National Recovery was dependent on progress being made on this issue; the steps she intends to take to have the pupil-teacher ratio reduced; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
64. Mr. Sheehan asked the Minister for Education the plans, if any, she has to reduce the pupil-teacher ratio in (a) national schools, (b) secondary schools, (c) vocational schools and (d) community and comprehensive schools.
72. Mr. G. Reynolds asked the Minister for Education the plans, if any, she has to reduce the pupil-teacher ratio in (a) national schools, (b) secondary schools, (c) vocational schools and (d) community and comprehensive schools.
83. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Education the plans, if any, she has to reduce the pupil-teacher ratio in (a) national schools, (b) secondary schools, (c) vocational schools and (d) community and comprehensive schools.
89. Mr. Moynihan asked the Minister for Education if she will outline the present situation regarding the negotiations with the INTO on the improvement of the pupil-teacher ratio for September, 1991; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
210. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Education if she intends to introduce a 19 to 1 pupil-teacher ratio in secondary schools.
212. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Education if she will give details of the agreement made between her Department and the ASTI prior to the ICTU vote on 8 February 1990.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 22, 32, 37, 50, 51, 52, 64, 72, 83, 89, 210 and 212 together.
In accordance with the agreement reached by the Government with the INTO in negotiations under the Programme for National Recovery, the enrolment figures for appointment and retention of teachers in primary schools will be reduced by one unit at each level of the enrolment schedule with effect from 1 September 1990.
The Programme for Government provides that a continuing review of the pupil-teacher ratio at primary level will take place in consultation with the Central Review Committee with regard to the feasibility of a further reduction under a new programme for national recovery.
I should add that I have specifically required the Primary Education Review Body to deal with the question of demographic trends and their implications in preparing their report.
The position at second level education is that in accordance with the Programme for Government and the current Programme for National Recovery the Government has given consideration to improvements in the pupil-teacher ratio  at post-primary level in the context of demographic decline.
I have informed the interested parties that, arising from such decline, the Government have decided that, where there are teachers over quota by reference to a 20:1 pupil-teacher ratio, teachers may be retained to the extent that such retention would be justified by the application of a pupil-teacher ratio of 19:1. This arrangement will not apply to fee-paying post-primary schools.
The Government's intention is that the resource being provided by this concession should be used to make available additional remedial/guidance teaching to the pupils.
The Government will continue to keep the pupil/teacher ratio at post-primary education level under review. It is understood that the Irish Congress of Trade Unions will, in the context of any further programme for national recovery, be seeking 19:1 ratio. The Government will consider this in the context of any negotiations on a further programme for national recovery.
23. Mr. McCartan asked the Minister for Education the plans, if any, she has to tackle adult illiteracy during 1990 which has been declared International Literacy Year; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
31. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Education the way in which she intends to mark 1990 as International Literacy Year; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 23 and 31 together.
My objectives, in relation to illiteracy, are twofold: first, to prevent illiteracy as school level and, secondly, to address the needs of adult illiteracy through specially tailored and funded programmes. My approach can be classified under two headings—preventative and curative.
As an example on the preventative  side, I have arranged, during 1989-90, for the provision of an additional 95 teachers for primary schools in disadvantaged areas and 30 remedial teachers to supplement the existing cadre of some 900 remedial teachers in primary schools. Furthermore, I recently provided an extra £1 million for the schools' library service.
On the curative side I managed, in difficult financial circumstances, to increase the 1989 provision for the adult literacy and community education scheme by 25 per cent (from £400,000 to £500,000). In 1990 the allocation has been doubled to £1 million. I am also arranging to increase the overall provision for adult literacy/education organisations in 1990 by 36 per cent (from £179,000 to £244,000).
I should also add that, arising from International Literacy Year, the Government has decided to establish a Cabinet subcommittee, comprising myself in the Chair and the Ministers for Labour and Social Welfare, to co-ordinate proposals in this area to ensure that the various resources available for adult literacy and community education and training schemes are used in the most effective and coherent way.
24. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Education if she will give consideration to the establishment of a sports museum to store and display the records and achievements of Irish Sport.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): There are no proposals with my Department for the establishment of a sports museum to store and display the records and achievements of Irish Sport.
I will be pleased to keep such a proposal under review within my Department.
25. Mr. G. O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education when she intends to issue clear guidelines for the designation of schools in disadvantaged areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): A review of the criteria for the designation of schools in disadvantaged areas is currently being undertaken by a working party representative of my Department, school management and the teachers' union. I await the report of the working party.
26. D'fhiafraigh Mr. McGinley den Aire Oideachais an bhfuil aon phleananna aici halla spóirt a thógáil ag Pobalscoil Ghaoth Dobhair, i gContae Dhún na nGall; agus an ndéanfadh sí ráiteas ina thaobh.
An tAire Oideachais (Mrs. O'Rourke): Braitheann tionscadáil tógala iarbhunscoileanna ar líon na n-acmhainní caipitil atá ar fáil agus ar na ceangail eile atá ar mo Roinn maraon leis na tosaíochtaí atá aici. Ní mór, le blianta beaga anuas, na hacmhainní atá ann a úsáid chun an chóiríocht seomraí ranga is riachtanaí a chur ar fáil. Sna tosca, ní féidir liom a rá, faoi láthair, cathain a bheidh airgead ann chun deontas a cheadú le haghaidh halla corpoideachais i bpobalscoil Ghaoth Dobhair.
27. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Education if she will make provision henceforth in planned national schools for general purpose rooms.
30. Mr. G. Reynolds asked the Minister for Education if she will make provision henceforth in planned national schools for general purpose rooms.
36. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Education if she will make provision henceforth in planned national schools for general purpose rooms.
42. Mr. Creed asked the Minister for Education if she will make provision henceforth in planned national schools for general purpose rooms.
49. Mr. Connor asked the Minister for Education if she will make provision henceforth in planned national schools for general purpose rooms.
57. Mr. Enright asked the Minister for Education if she will make provision henceforth in planned national schools for general purpose rooms.
61. Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for Education if she will make provision henceforth in planned national schools for general purpose rooms.
73. Mr. Bradford asked the Minister for Education if she will make provision henceforth in planned national schools for general purpose rooms.
79. Mr. Belton asked the Minister for Education if she will make provision henceforth in planned national schools for general purpose rooms.
80. Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Education if she will make provision henceforth in planned national schools for general purpose rooms.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 27, 30, 36, 42, 49, 57, 61, 73, 79 and 80 together.
When I was appointed Minister for Education in 1987 there was a large number of primary school building projects needing attention and there was also the necessity to reduce capital expenditure in line with the Government's Programme for National Recovery. In the light of these conflicting sets of circumstances I found it necessary to concentrate on the provision of proper classroom accommodation and other essential facilities at national schools. Considerable progress has been made on the primary schools building programme, which would not have been possible had  the provision of general purposes areas been allowed. Despite the progress made there is still a sizeable number of cases which need to be tackled.
In the years 1987 to 1989, inclusive, 163 new schools/permanent extensions were completed and in each of these years we kept within the capital allocations. Another reason for the policy of not grant-aiding GP rooms for the present is the effect of demographic factors on schools enrolments. In many cases numbers are expected to decline and space will become available which would alleviate the need for general purposes rooms.
28. Mr. Ryan asked the Minister for Education if she has any recent proposals to permit St. Patrick's Training College, Dublin 9, to provide the Bachelor of Arts degree and other degree courses; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The position in relation to any proposals that St. Patrick's College of Education might provide a Bachelor of Arts degree or other degree courses is that consideration of such proposals must await the report of the Primary Education Review Body, which, as part of its remit has been requested to include recommendations on the future requirements for primary teacher training.
29. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education the existing regional technical colleges which provide (a) certificate, (b) diploma and (c) degree courses; and if she will give an assurance that courses in the planned Tallaght regional technical college, Dublin 24, will not differ in scope, level or status from those in other regional technical colleges.
60. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education, in respect of the planned regional technical college for Tallaght, Dublin 24, if she will give an up-dated timetable for commencement and completion of construction; in view of the high level of local unemployment, whether she will seek to ensure, through conditions of contract, the employment of local trade union workers in reasonable proportion in the construction phase; if her attention has been drawn to concern expressed by the vocational education committee that her stated target of college opening at the beginning of the 1991 academic year will not be met; if she will give an assurance that this will be the opening date; if she will give details of the projected construction and running costs; the proportion of each which will be funded by the EC and the Exchequer; and if certificate, diploma and degree courses, as available in other regional technical colleges, will be provided in the Tallaght college.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 29 and 60 together. At present the regional colleges in Dundalk, Letterkenny and Tralee provide full-time courses at certificate and diploma level. The regional colleges in Athlone, Carlow, Cork, Galway, Sligo and Waterford provide full-time certificate and diploma courses and a limited number of degree courses.
In relation to course provision in Tallaght, the position is that a range of full-time courses in engineering, science and business studies, including languages, will be provided when the college becomes fully operational. It is expected that these courses will in the main be at certificate level with some diploma level courses also being provided. The precise nature and level of individual courses and associated enrolments will be determined following further consultations with interested parties and will as far as possible cater for the needs of the local area taking account of existing training and education resources and the requirements of local industry.
I should point out, however, that as in the case of the establishment of new regional technical colleges in the past, it is not envisaged that degree level courses will be available in the college during the initial stages of its development.
 A contract for the building of Tallaght regional technical college will be signed in the middle of this month and construction will commence soon afterwards. As indicated in my budget speech, it is anticipated that the college will be fully operational in early 1992.
Discussions will be held with the contractor concerned with a view to having part of the college ready for occupation in September 1991.
The contract which will be used is the standard contract (CDLA) for use by Government Departments and local authorities. The conditions in that contract have been approved by the Department of Finance after consultation with the appropriate bodies. My Department will discuss with the contractor the question of the employment of local labour before construction work commences.
It is estimated that the capital costs involved in the provision of the new college will amount to £15 million. Based on the running costs in respect of an existing college of comparable size, it is roughly estimated that when fully operational the annual running cost for Tallaght will be £2 million in respect of pay and approximately £550,000 in respect of non-pay.
In the case of the capital costs, EC funding on a 50 per cent basis has been sought through the Government's National Development Plan. In accordance with the normal procedures, funding is provided in the first instance by my Department and is subsequently recouped at the appropriate rate by the Exchequer.
33. Mrs. Barnes asked the Minister for Education if she will make a statement on the Government's policy towards sporting and social clubs and establishments which still deny voting and membership rights to women in this State; and the positive action, if any, which is planned by the Government to ensure the removal of this outstanding discrimination.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): It is already a requirement of my Department's schemes that national sporting organisations in receipt of grant aid must possess a constitution which is acceptable to the Department. A key element of any such constitution is that the organisation be structured on democratic lines.
I am not aware of any national sports organisations grant-aided by me which discriminate against women.
The Deputy will also be aware of the Taoiseach's recent announcement establishing a second commission on the status of women.
34. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Education if she will clarify the assessment procedures for the new junior certificate as students are in their final phase of the first year of this programme and teachers feel that they will have inadequate time to prepare for oral work, aural work, project work, field work, laboratory work and other assignment studies.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Recommendations in regard to assessment procedures for the junior certificate have been submitted by the NCCA. Interested parties have been invited to put forward their observations on those recommendations by 30 April 1990. The Deputy will agree that it would be inadvisable to pre-empt at this stage the definitive form that assessment procedures will take.
35. Mr. Noonan (Limerick East) asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the fact that the storm of 26 February 1990 seriously damaged the prefabricated classrooms at a school (details supplied) in County Limerick; the plans she has to provide alternative accommodation for the children on a temporary basis; if she has yet sanctioned a contractor for the proposed new school; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I am fully aware of the situation in relation to the national school referred to by the Deputy arising from the storm on 26 February 1990. Following full discussions with the school authorities my Department has the necessary arrangements in hands for the provision of alternative prefabricated accommodation at the school pending the erection of the permanent extension.
I have recently approved the placing of the contract for the extension and my Department has asked the school authorities to remit the local contribution, on receipt of which the contractor will be formally appointed.
38. Mr. T. O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education, in light of recent events, with particular reference to the case of the detained 15 year old girl, the steps, if any, she is taking to improve and extend the psychological services within the school system in 1990; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Assessment of children with disabilities such as those referred to by Deputy are the responsibility of the Minister for Health. Medical and psychological support for children in special schools and classes are provided by clinical teams funded by the Health authorities.
Since 1965 a psychological service has been provided by my Department for second level schools generally. In 1990 I am extending this service to primary schools through pilot projects in two areas, Tallaght/Clondalkin in Dublin and schools in south Tipperary.
My Department, of course, funded psychological and other assessment services in the centres for young offenders which are administered through the Department of Education.
40. Mr. Nealon asked the Minister for Education if she has any plans for providing extra school accommodation or extra facilities for helping dyslexic children and other children with difficulties, particularly with reading and writing, in view of the fact that there are only two specialist schools for such children in the entire country and in view of the fact that this is International Literacy Year.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Remedial education in ordinary national schools will continue to be the principal method by which my Department will cater for the needs of children with reading disabilities. In this context I have recently sanctioned an additional 30 remedial posts bringing the total of such posts to over 880. I have also recently decided that two pilot projects for the establishment of a primary schools' psychological service be initiated. When established, in due course, such a service should result in earlier and more comprehensive identification of primary school pupils with specific learning disabilities who would benefit from special remedial action.
41. Mr. Kavanagh asked the Minister for Education if she recognises the need for the appointment of further visiting teachers to work with travellers' children; the proposals, if any, she has in this area; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
221. Mr. T. Kitt asked the Minister for Education if she will appoint additional visiting teachers to promote the enrolment and school attendance of travelling children and to develop communication between school and home.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 41 and 221 together. The visiting teacher service is applied to areas of large traveller populations and the need for  extensions to the service is constantly monitored.
The Department grant aids the salary and travelling expenses of the national co-ordinator for the education of traveller children who is employed by the national council for traveller people. The main objective of the national co-ordinator is to ensure that all traveller children will receive the maximum possible education and social care. She liaises closely with local traveller settlement committees, school inspectors and teachers involved in developing educational facilities for travellers.
The Department grant-aids the tuition and transport costs in respect of pre-schools for travellers. There are 47 such pre-schools and their primary aim is to prepare traveller children for primary education. These are run by voluntary bodies who actively encourage traveller parents to send their children to school.
There are a total of 143 special classes attached to ordinary national schools. In addition, a large number of travellers are integrated into mainstream education. In this connection a survey carried out by the Department's inspectorate in early 1988 revealed that there were almost 4,000 children attending school at primary level (i.e. 2,600 in special classes and 1,400 in mainstream education).
However, the number of special classes has increased from 110 to 143 in the interim period.
43. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Education when she expects to receive the report from the inquiry into Dublin Zoo; the plans, if any, she has for the future of the zoo, with particular reference to funding and governing structures; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
267. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the financial crisis in Dublin Zoo; and whether the Government have any strategy to help the zoo to survive.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 43 and 267 together.
I have no function with regard to the operation of Dublin Zoo. Primary responsibility for the zoo rests with the Royal Zoological Society of Ireland.
The committee, established by the Government to advise on the overall operation and activities of Dublin Zoo — including the financial operation — will be in a position to provide a detailed report around the end of April. The matters raised by the Deputies will be considered in the context of the findings of the report.
44. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Education if she proposes to extend the scheme whereby schools located in disadvantaged areas both at primary and secondary level will be allocated additional staff.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Additional teaching posts were allocated recently at primary level under the special scheme of teaching assistance for schools serving disadvantaged areas. These additional posts, together with the posts previously sanctioned under the special scheme, have been allocated among 178 schools throughout the country.
The general question of educational disadvantage is being examined as part of the overall review by the Primary Education Review Body and I am awaiting their report and recommendations on the matter.
Arising from negotiations held with the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland and the Teachers' Union of Ireland, held under the aegis of the Central Review Committee of the Programme for National Recovery, I am pleased to say that extra resources will be made available to provide additional teachers in specific disadvantaged areas. The question of defining specific criteria to be applied in determining disadvantaged areas is under consideration  and discussions will be held shortly with the interested parties on this matter.
46. Mr. Currie asked the Minister for Education when she intends to remedy the situation at Riversdale community college, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, where (a) there are six temporary whole-time teachers and only 16 permanent teachers, (b) three posts of responsibility are unfilled because there are not enough permanent teachers to fill them; her views on whether, in an area of considerable disadvantage, this situation is an injustice to pupils, teachers and the local community; whether she will reply to representations made on this matter by a delegation from the Teachers' Union of Ireland which met her on 31 October 1989; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The deployment of teachers, as between permanent whole-time teachers and temporary whole-time teachers, to individual schools within a committee's scheme is a matter for the chief executive officer of the VEC.
It is open to VECs, where they consider that the circumstances merit posts being filled on a permanent basis, to submit proposals to that effect to me for consideration.
Proposals in respect of the creation of a number of new permanent whole-time teaching posts under County Dublin VEC in respect of the school session 1989/90 were submitted to my Department in May 1989. My Department approved the full number of such additional permanent whole-time teaching posts proposed by the VEC.
Appointments to posts of responsibility in the VEC scheme are a matter for the VEC; my function, as with all VEC teacher appointments, is one of sanction only provided the appointments are found to be in order in all respects, I am not aware of any proposals having been made to my Department by the County  Dublin VEC relating to the posts of responsibility to which the Deputy refers.
47. Tomás Mac Giolla asked the Minister for Education if the speech made by the Minister of State at her Department to the annual assembly of the National Youth Council of Ireland, in which he questioned whether it was worth spending £200,000 on a representative body for youth, represented her Department's policy; if it is intended to establish youth services on a legislative basis; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The question referred to by the Deputy was raised in the first instance in the context of a general questioning of youth organisations as to potential areas of duplication in their day to day activities. In this regard, therefore, it can be said to represent the Department's policy of improving the quality of youth service provision within the resources available.
It is not intended at the moment to establish the youth services on a legislative basis.
48. Mr. Nealon asked the Minister for Education the grants, if any, which are available for second level students to travel to other countries to advance their studies of a foreign language.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): There are at present no grants available for second level students to travel to other countries to advance their studies in foreign languages. However, the European Education Minister in May 1989 adopted the Lingua programme. This programme is designed to promote foreign language competence in the European Community. Under the programme, financial assistance will be available from 1 January 1991 to support the development of educational  exchanges for young people in post compulsory education.
The year 1990 is largely a preparatory year and the overall budget for the five year period 1990-1994 is £154 million.
54. Mrs. Owen asked the Minister for Education the proposals, if any, she has to provide a detention centre for juvenile girls; and if these proposals include the long-term use of Scoil Ard Mhuire, Lusk, County Dublin.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I refer the Deputy to the detailed statement made to the House on Tuesday, 27 February 1990 by Deputy Ray Burke, Minister for Justice, concerning detention facilities for young offenders.
Provision for the special centre for girls referred to in Minister Burke's reply does not include the long term use of Scoil Árd Mhuire, Lusk.
55. Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the substantial reduction in primary pupil numbers in inner city schools in Dublin; the plans, if any, she has to provide for orderly rationalisation, extra capacity, and full consultation with parents and teachers; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The rationalisation of primary schools is normally, in the first instance, a matter for local consideration. As part of this process, boards of management are required to consult with parents and teachers.
Any proposals received from boards of management will be examined on their merits and the views, as expressed, in relation to the various aspects of the proposals will be taken into account by my Department in arriving at a decision.
56. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Education if she will provide as a matter of urgency (a) a speech therapist, (b) a physical education teacher, (c) a social worker and (d) a caretaker for the schools and centres for mentally handicapped children in Cashel, County Tipperary, (details supplied); and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): (a) and (c) The provision of a speech therapist and of a social worker is a matter for the local health board.
(b) Each of the two schools receives the maximum grant aid which is available from this Department for the provision of physical education. Full-time teachers of physical education are not employed in any category of national school.
(d) My Department's scheme for the employment of caretakers in schools is being phased out and so no new appointments may be permitted. It is not open to me, therefore, to fund a caretaker for these schools.
The day care centre is the responsibility of the local health board.
58. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for Education the proportion of costs intended to be covered by the capitation grants for the voluntary secondary school sector; and the way in which schools are expected to make up the difference between the capitation grant and the actual cost.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Per capita grants paid to secondary schools in the free post-primary education scheme are provided towards the general running costs of the schools. No particular part of the grant is earmarked for any particular purpose. Decisions in regard to day to day expenditure are matters for the individual managers.
I am pleased to say that it has been  found possible in the recent budget to increase the rate of per capita grant to secondary schools by £10 with effect from 1 January 1990.
59. Mr. Taylor asked the Minister for Education if she has received representations from the board of management of a school (details supplied) in Dublin 22; if she will make a statement on the present position regarding the employment of a caretaker for the school.
71. Mr. Kavanagh asked the Minister for Education if she recognises the need for extra caretakers at primary schools either on a single workplace or a shared basis in schools identified as serving disadvantaged areas; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
220. Mr. T. Kitt asked the Minister for Education if she will appoint a further 250 caretakers on a single workplace or shared basis to schools which have been identified as serving disadvantaged areas.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 59, 71 and 220 together.
It was decided by the then Government in 1983 that as part of the plan to reduce public service numbers the scheme should be phased out.
I have received representations in the case referred to in the question. However, my Department's scheme for the employment of caretakers in national schools is being phased out as employees resign or retire, and there are no plans at present to change this policy.
62. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Education the number of acting chief executive officers in vocational education committees throughout the country; and the plans, if any, she has to confirm permanent appointments for these positions.
224. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Education if she will list the vocational education committees where there exists a vacancy for a chief executive officer; the length of time such vacancies have existed; when she intends to permit the filling of the vacancies; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 62 and 224 together.
Eight chief executive officers posts in vocational education committees are filled in an acting capacity at present. There are no vacant chief executive officer posts. The committees where acting chief executive officers have been appointed and the dates of appointment are:
|VEC||Date Acting CEO Appointed|
|County Carlow||1 November 1988|
|County Dublin||1 September 1985|
|County Kildare||11 January 1988|
|County Limerick||1 September 1989|
|County Longford||30 May 1986|
|County Mayo||11 January 1988|
|County Westmeath||13 January 1987|
|County Wexford||24 January 1989|
I indicated in my reply to a Dáil Ceist on 31 January 1990 that I am at present reviewing proposals in relation to the amalgamation of vocational education committees. I do not propose to address the question of authorising permanent CEO appointments until I have completed this review.
63. Mr. Sherlock asked the Minister for Education the steps she is taking to provide extra resources for adult education, in view of the increased numbers expected to participate as a result of the decision to allow those unemployed for more than 15 months to draw unemployment assistance and participate in adult education at the same time.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The regulations which the Minister for Social Welfare recently introduced in consultation with my Department are an important measure, the purpose of which is to remove an obstacle which existed to attendance at educational courses by the long term unemployed.
One form of participation in this context is that arising under the vocational training opportunities scheme for which additional funding has already been allocated in the current year. Should other special needs arise in relation to the attendance of long term unemployed in educational programmes I will certainly be looking at the matter sympathetically.
65. Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Education the bodies, organisations or individuals to which she makes the lists of national schools available; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): My Department makes such lists available to the general public, on request.
66. Mr. Finucane asked the Minister for Education when an announcement will be made regarding the allocation of finance for the National Youth Service.
230. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Education when she intends announcing the financial allocation for the National Youth Service.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 66 and 230 together.
Final 1990 allocations from the surplus proceeds of the national lottery for the national youth service have not yet been decided upon by the Government. Pending a definite decision on the 1990 allocation however, the Government has decided that agencies and ongoing programmes dependent on national lottery  funding and which received such funding last year may be advanced up to four fifths of their 1989 allocation. This process, which is subject to also having the requisite approval from the Department of Finance, has already commenced in respect of the national youth service.
I will make a statement on the matter when there are further developments.
67. Mr. Pattison asked the Minister for Education if there is merit in a common teacher pre-service programme for primary and post-primary teachers; if she has any proposals to bring this type of programme into effect; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The pre-service training of primary and post-primary teachers differs because of the differences between the primary and post-primary systems of education.
Primary education requires teachers to be generalists: able to teach all the subjects of the curriculum. Their methodology must be also adapted to the age of the pupils.
Second level teachers are not generalists: they teach only one or perhaps sometimes two or three subjects depending on the size of the school. Their methodology is subject-specific and must take account of the fact that their pupils are moving through perhaps the most difficult period of their development.
68. Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Education the present status of the building programme for an extension to Meánscoil Iognáid Rís, Naas, County Kildare; when construction will commence and be completed; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Architectural planning of the proposed extension to the school in question has reached stage 3 (developed  sketch scheme) of my Department's design team procedures. In common with all school building projects, this project is currently being reviewed in the context of demographic trends affecting pupil enrolments in both the short and long term. It is, therefore, not possible to indicate at this time when construction work will commence and be completed.
69. Mr. Pattison asked the Minister for Education when she will institute measures to ensure that substitute teachers are paid on time; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): My Department is currently examining proposals for the issue of payments direct to substitute teachers. Under the present system payments are issued to the chairman of the board of management to meet the cost of employing a substitute.
A payment cannot be issued by the Department until the claim for payment is received from the board of management. In so far as the Department is concerned delays do not occur in the operation of the present system; claims are processed as soon as they are received and payments are issued immediately.
Substitute teachers employed in secondary, community and comprehensive schools are paid salary by the management authorities of these schools. Payment of vocational school teachers, including substitute teachers, is made by the vocational education committees.
74. Mr. Dukes asked the Minister for Education whether she has had any discussions with her counterparts in the United Kingdom or Northern Ireland on the effects of the Education (Student Loans) Bill on access to higher education in Northern Ireland.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I have not yet had any discussions with my counterparts in the UK or Northern Ireland about this issue. I understand, however, that my colleague, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, is availing of the machinery of the Anglo-Irish Agreement to pursue the matter with the UK authorities.
75. D'fhiafraigh Mr. McGinley den Aire Oideachais an bhfuil aon phlean aici leis an táille teagaisc a íoctar leis na coláistí Gaeilge Samhraidh a ardú.
An tAire Oideachais (Mrs. O'Rourke): Tá mo Roinn faoi láthair ag iniúchadh na ceiste, an féidir breis airgid a chur ar fáil i mbliana ón gcrannchur náisiúnta chun na táillí teagaisc a ardú. Níl, ámh, cinneadh déanta go fóill faoi dháiliú an airgid.
76. Mr. Taylor asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to problems with the central heating at St. Aidan's Community School, Brookfield, and Jobstown Community College, Dublin 24; and, if so, the steps she proposes to take to deal with the problem.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): My Department has been informed by the school authorities of continuing difficulties with the heating system in the schools in question. The Department's consultant engineers who designed the system have been asked to examine the matter and to submit proposals for remedial works. When their recommendation is received appropriate arrangements will be made to have the problem rectified.
77. Mr. Ferris asked the Minister for Education when she will introduce an early retirement scheme in order to allow young qualified unemployed teachers to take up the consequent vacancies; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Three hundred and seventy four teachers availed of the voluntary redundancy/early retirement scheme for national teachers in 1988.
There are no plans at present under consideration in my Department to reintroduce an early retirement/voluntary redundancy scheme for teachers.
82. Mr. Gilmore asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the decision of the new owners of Carysfort College, County Dublin to offer it for sale on the international market; if she has had, or plans to have, any discussions with the new owners regarding this decision; if she will outline the implications of the decision for the suggestion that the Carysfort campus might be used as a site for the proposed regional technical college of Dún Laoghaire; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
247. Mrs. Barnes asked the Minister for Education whether the Sisters of Mercy at the former Carysfort Teacher Training College, County Dublin, have refunded to her Department the sum of £1.75 million as previously announced by her; if not, when it is intended that payment will be made; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 82 and 247 together.
I am aware that the new owners of Carysfort have been endeavouring to market part of the property internationally. As discussions are ongoing it would be inappropriate for me to make any further statement in the matter at this time.
The Sisters of Mercy have not yet refunded the sum of £1.75 million to my Department. This will take place when  the financial arrangements about the sale of the property have been completed, which I understand to be July 1990.
84. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Education if she will give a breakdown on the 1,200 extra third level places promised in the budget, as between regional technical colleges and universities; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The additional third level places announced in the budget will be provided in the university sector. Over the next three to four years the universities will provide not fewer than 3,600 additional places by raising intake quotas by not less than 1,200 places from the beginning of the academic year 1990/91.
Enrolment in the RTC sector has more than doubled in the period since 1980. Indications are that a further increase in enrolment may be expected in 1990. There are constraints on the colleges at present in so far as accommodation is concerned. The enhancement programme which was announced recently for the period to 1993 will ease the situation and facilitate further growth to meet the undoubted demand for places in these colleges.
85. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Education if she will outline the amount of EC funding which will be spent by her in 1990; if she will give a breakdown of that funding between different programmes within her Department; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Full details of the measures for which EC funding will be received in 1990 are being made available in the Oireachtas Library. The amount of EC aid committed from the European Social Fund in respect of 1990 expenditure for training initiatives is £100.27 million and  represents an intervention rate of 65 per cent. In addition, a sum of £4.6 million aid (50 per cent intervention rate) is expected from the European Regional Development Fund for vocational training infrastructure.
With regard to capital funds, it is estimated that the amount of EC funding which will be forthcoming in 1990 in respect of ongoing programmes is £2 million.
In addition, it is expected that up to £1.84 million will be received in respect of the new capital programme for third level colleges which I recently announced.
86. Mr. Andrews asked the Minister for Education if she will sanction improvements to St. Joseph's primary school, Tivoli Road, Dún Laoghaire, County Dublin, as a matter of urgency.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): My Department has approved a scheme of improvements to St. Joseph's National School, Tivoli Road, Dún Laoghaire, County Dublin, viz. provision of a new toilet block, double doors and screens, a smoke detector and works to windows and PE equipment. Tender documents were sent to the school authorities in January 1990 to enable them to invite tenders and secure planning permission for the works. When the tenders and planning permission have been received there will be no delay in authorising the school authorities to proceed with the works.
The school authorities have requested grant aid for the provision of a room for ancillary purposes and the complete replacement of the windows. This is being considered in the context of the available capital and the large number of national school building projects on hand. A decision will be conveyed to the school authorities in regard to these additional items as early as possible.
87. Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Education if she will undertake a major review of the pupil/teacher ratio for all categories of special schools; the action she intends to take pending the review; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Consideration of whether the pupil-teacher ratios in question should be reviewed does not arise until the report of the Primary Education Review Body is available.
I am presently awaiting the report of the Primary Education Review Body. On receipt of the report I will then be in a position to give consideration and other matters.
88. Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Education if she has any plans to meet with the National Youth Council; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Deputy Frank Fahey, my Minister of State with responsibility for Youth Affairs, meets the National Youth Council of Ireland on a number of occasions each year. He has also contributed to their last three annual assemblies.
The Minister of State last met the National Youth Council of Ireland on 1 February, 1990. At that meeting it was tentatively agreed to hold a further meeting in the week beginning 12 March, 1990.
90. Mr. Ryan asked the Minister for Education when she intends to introduce a pension scheme for caretakers of national schools; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I have no plans in my Department to introduce a pension scheme for caretakers in primary schools at present.
91. Proinsias De Rossa asked the asked the Taoiseach, in respect of legislation passed under the aegis of his Department which required (a) a ministerial order or (b) an order of the Oireachtas, to implement (1) the entire Act or (2) any section of an Act, if he will list any Act or section of an Act which has not yet been implemented; and the reason for any such non-implementation.
The Taoiseach and Minister for the Gaeltacht: The Irish Sailors and Soldiers Land Trust Act, 1988, contains a provision enabling the Taoiseach, by order, to nominate a date — not being earlier than the day on which the Irish Sailors and Soldiers Land Trust is dissolved pursuant to a British Act entitled The Irish Sailors and Soldiers Land Trust Act, 1987 — on which the following will be repealed: (a) section 4 of the Irish Land (Provision for Sailors and Soldiers) Act, 1919, and (b) the Land Trust Powers Act, 1923. It is not envisaged that this provision will be activated for some time as the trust, while being gradually wound down, has not yet been dissolved pursuant to the British legislation.
Níl a leithéid i gceist i gcás Roinn na Gaeltachta.
92. Mr. Allen asked the Taoiseach if any discussions have taken place with the Soviet Government in his capacity as President of the EC regarding the setting up of a federation of European States or the extension of the Council of Europe to accommodate the USSR and other East European States.
The Taoiseach: I have not yet had discussions with the Soviet Union on either of the questions raised by the Deputy.
93. Mr. Dempsey asked the Taoiseach if he will outline the balance of trade surplus deficit each month for each of the years from 1986 to 1989, inclusive; and the accumulated surplus deficit at the end of each of those years.
The Taoiseach: The information requested by the Deputy is given in the following table which is derived from the External Trade Statistics:
Irish Trade Balance † 1986 to 1989.
†Minus denotes an import excess.
**The sum of the monthly data may not add up to the annual totals which include certain cumulative revisions.
94. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Defence the development plans he has for Collins Barracks, Cork; and the number of personnel who are stationed there at present.
Minister for Defence (Mr. Lenihan): My Department are considering at present a number of major projects at Collins Barracks, Cork, including a new gymnasium and transport workshops. Normal maintenance works at the barracks are carried out as required.
It is not the practice, for security reasons, to divulge the military strength at any barracks.
95. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Defence the number of arrests which have been made by the Army in the Border areas in each of the years from 1985 to 1989.
Minister for Defence (Mr. Lenihan): The answer is none. The role of the Defence Forces in the Border area is one of assisting the Garda Síochána when requested to do so. The exercise of the power of arrest in such circumstances is a matter for the Garda Síochána.
96. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the steps, if any, he has taken to recoup the £18.2 million owed by the United Nations for peace-keeping efforts in the Lebanon; if any threats have been made that this country might withdraw its peace-keeping forces if the outstanding amount is not forthcoming; and if he has had any discussions with the Soviet and United States Governments in relation to their fulfilling their obligations by paying the $220 million that is owed by them.
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Collins): I avail of every suitable opportunity to raise with the representatives of countries in arrears in respect of UN peace-keeping the desirability of paying these arrears at an early date. This point has been made many times to the representatives of the USA and the USSR, who have the largest arrears in respect of UN peace-keeping. Both have stated their intention to pay their assessed contributions to UNIFIL in full in the future and to repay the amounts they owe over a number of years. The Soviet Union has already begun to do this and recently paid a further sum of £40 million towards its UN peace-keeping arrears, half of which was earmarked for UNIFIL. Arising out of this we received £2.77 million towards the amount outstanding in February of this year.
I have also discussed this matter with the UN Secretary General, who is deeply concerned about the financial situation of the peace-keeping forces.
We have, however, repeatedly drawn attention to the difficulty caused to troop contributing countries by the failure of some United Nations Member States to pay their full assessed contributions to peace-keeping missions, and we shall continue to make this clear to those involved. The Government see the contribution of personnel to UNIFIL and to many other United Nations peace-keeping operations as a concrete expression of our commitment to the maintenance of international peace and security. This commitment remains firm.
97. Mr. G. Mitchell asked the Minister for Finance the reason a tax rebate has not issued to a person (details supplied) in Dublin 12; and if he will give an assurance that the rebate will have issued by 6 March 1990.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that the taxpayer submitted a claim for repayment of tax due to unemployment on 29 January 1990. The claim has been dealt with and a cheque in settlement for £356.80 will issue to the taxpayer within the next week.
98. Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the problems of illegal moneylending in Mullingar, County Westmeath, as outlined in a report (details supplied); the action, if any, he proposes to take to ensure that this abuse of the law is stopped as quickly as possible and that the people in need of such facilities will obtain assistance; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): I have no function in relation to the enforcement of the law relating to moneylending.
99. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance whether a member of a supervisory grade in the headquarters of the Ordance Survey in Dublin was permitted to avail of the voluntary redundancy scheme in recent weeks at a time when 120 field staff are being transferred to Dublin on the basis that a staff shortage exists in the Dublin headquarters; his views on whether such transfers may lead to up to 20 resignations due to the undearable domestic disruption experienced by the staff concerned; and if he will allow staff to avail of the terms of the voluntary redundancy package.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): A superintendent in the Ordnance Survey Office was recently permitted to avail of voluntary redundancy under the early retirement scheme for public servants. Approval for such retirements is given by my Department on a  strictly limited basis, strictly in accordance with the staffing requirements of the Department or office concerned in the grade concerned. It has not been the practice to offer voluntary early retirement to personnel who cannot be replaced from within the public service.
100. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance whether the purchase and servicing of Ordnance Survey vehicles have been undertaken strictly in accordance with tendering instructions issued by his Department; the dates on which tenders were last issued for purchase and/or servicing of vehicles; the number of companies requested to tender; and the number which submitted tenders.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): The purchase of vehicles for the Ordnance Survey is undertaken by the Government Supplies Agency. This is done by competitive tender, in accordance with Government contracts procedures. The latest purchases were made in January and February 1989. It is not the practice to publish details of the actual number of firms involved in particular tenders.
The Director of the Ordnance Survey has informed me that the servicing of vehicles has not been the subject of a formal contract arrangement. I have asked the director to ensure that the official procedures are observed.
101. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if it is his intention to transfer 120 field staff of the Ordnance Survey to headquarters in Dublin within three to four years; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): I am advised by the director that, because of a reorganisation of the mapping programme of the Ordnance Survey Office, some staff are required to return to headquarters.
102. Mr. Howlin asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a person (details supplied) in County Wexford who applied for a tax refund was informed that refund applications had not been processed since August 1989 owing to the transfer at that time and non-replacement of an officer from Unit 663; the plans, if any, he has to ensure that the person concerned is paid the refund without further delay; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that the area concerned is the subject of industrial action due to the non-replacement of a member of staff. Efforts are being made to resolve the matter. The taxpayer's claim for a refund in the present case will be dealt with as soon as possible.
103. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Finance when a PRSI number and tax free allowance will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Wexford in order that she will no longer by paying tax at the emergency rate.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): I have been advised by the Revenue Commissioners that a certificate of tax free allowance for the current year 1989-90 will be issued within the next week.
104. Mr. McCormack asked the Minister for Finance the percentage of PAYE which is paid over from employers on the due date each month; the percentage which is paid 30 days late; the percentage which is paid 60 days late; the percentage which is paid 90 days late; and if he will give similar information regarding VAT returns.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): The Revenue Commissioners have advised me that, as their statistics are maintained on a calendar month basis for PAYE and VAT, it is not possible to furnish the information sought by reference to the due dates.
The table under has, therefore, been compiled by reference to the due month, which is the month within which the due date falls. While there are variations from month to month, the percentages shown represent recent payment patterns.
|Paid by end of due month||85||60|
|Paid by end of following month||95||80|
|Paid by end of next following month||97||87|
|Paid by end of next following month||98||92|
105. Mr. Nealon asked the Minister for Finance if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there is a delay of up to four months in the section of the Revenue Commissioners dealing with VAT repayment for farmers; to the fact that the section is so understaffed that there is a week's delay in opening the post; and if, in view of the serious situation in which many farmers find themselves at present owing to their reliance on VAT refunds, he will make special arrangements for the clearance of the backlog.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): I am informed by the Revenue Commissioners that claims for repayment of VAT to farmers are dealt with as expeditiously as possible. The delays mentioned by the Deputy have not arisen in regard to the processing of the majority of claims. The arrears position and staffing levels are continuously monitored to ensure that claimants are repaid as quickly as possible.
106. Mr. Lowry asked the Minister for Finance the present position regarding the decentralisation of the Office of the Revenue Commissioners to Nenagh, County Tipperary; if he will award the contract to a suitable tenderer; and, if so, when building work will commence.
Minister for Finance (Mr. A. Reynolds): Proposals have been invited from selected developers for the provision of offices for the Revenue Commissioners in Nenagh. These proposals are to be with the Office of Public Works on Tuesday, 27 March, 1990.
It is expected that a contractor will be appointed by the end of April and be on site as soon as possible thereafter.
107. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for the Marine the settlement which has been made with the Shell company in relation to the expense incurred by the State in the berthing of the Tribulas at Bantry, County Cork arising from the precautionary measures which had to be taken by the authorities at Bantry on 7 February 1990.
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Wilson): Shell Tankers (U.K.) Ltd., owners of the bulk carrier Tribulas, have given a written assurance that the company will discharge all its liabilities of whatever nature which arise directly from the casualty to the vessel. As operations in connection with the repair, etc. are still ongoing, settlement stage has not yet been reached.
108. Mr. Cosgrave asked the Minister for the Marine , in view of recent statements by the owner of Guinness Peat Aviation to the effect that he was prepared to invest £200 million in setting up air traffic control systems on a European basis and in view of the non-acceptance of this offer by the Government, if he will approach the management of Guinness Peat Aviation with a view to setting up a joint venture scheme for a European air-sea rescue service based at Cork or Shannon; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
109. Mr. Cosgrave asked the Minister for the Marine , in view of the urgent requirement of European air-sea rescue service based at Cork or Shannon and with the current surplus of long-range helicopters and life-saving equipment now available on the world market due to the withdrawal of United States and Soviet forces from Europe, if he will enter into a joint venture scheme with Guinness Peat Aviation for the purchase of air-sea rescue equipment, such as long-range helicopters and life-saving equipment which would be based at Cork or Shannon; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Marine (Mr. Wilson): I propose to take Questions Nos. 108 and 109 together.
I have not received from Guinness Peat Aviation any indication of interest in the provision of a search and rescue service or in the purchase of air-sea rescue equipment for that purpose. Guinness Peat Aviation did not make any submission to the review group set up to examine the matter recently.
110. Mr. Leonard asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when the results of studies carried out in pilot programmes on integrated rural development will be available.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): The integrated rural development pilot programme is a two-year project due to be completed in October 1990. An evaluation of the programme cannot be completed until after that date.
111. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when a beef subsidy will be paid to persons (details supplied) in County Meath.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): Payments have issued to these applicants under the 1989 special beef premium scheme.
112. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the number of gallons of milk which are handled by each of the five largest co-operative societies in the Republic, based on the most recent figures available; the number of suppliers to each of these co-operatives who are producing less than 12,800 gallons per year; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): It would not be appropriate for me to furnish details in relation to milk intake and numbers of producers of individual co-operatives or dairies. However, the total milk intake in 1988-89 for the five co-operatives concerned was 508 million gallons and their total number of suppliers with quotas of less than 12.800 gallons is 8,385.
113. Mr. Crowley asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when a headage grant will issue to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): The grant under the 1989 cattle and equine headage scheme has issued in this case.
114. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when payment of an installation premium will be made to a person (details supplied) in County Wexford; and if he will expedite the matter in view of the long delay to date.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): The premium in this case will be paid inside the next few weeks.
115. Mr. Finucane asked the Minister for agriculture and Food if areas (details supplied) in County Limerick have been surveyed for the disadvantaged areas extension scheme; and if they have been included in the submission to the EC.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): The townlands of Ballyhane and Briskagh in the district electoral division of Shanid, of Knockbweeheen in the district electoral division of Dunmoylan East and of Ballyvoghan in the district electoral division of Ardagh have all been surveyed by my Department along with the townlands mentioned.
I am not in a position to indicate which areas are being submitted to the EC as it has not been the practice to do so until EC approval of designation or reclassification of such areas has been obtained.
116. Mr. Finucane asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when suckler cow premia, cattle headage payments and special beef premia will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): Payments to this applicant under the 1989 EC suckler cow premium, cattle and equine headage and special beef premium schemes are being processed and will issue shortly.
117. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if payment of an installation aid grant will be made to a person (details supplied) in County Kilkenny.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): The premium in this case will be paid inside the next few weeks.
118. Mr. Boylan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when a headage payment will be made to a person (details supplied) in County Cavan.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): Payments to this applicant under the 1989 calf premium and EC special beef premium schemes are being processed and will issue shortly.
The applicant has been requested to forward particulars of his off-farm income so that his eligibility for grants under the 1989 beef cow and equines headage scheme can be determined. When this information is received, his application under this scheme will be considered further.
119. Mr. Boylan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when a headage payment will be made to a person (details supplied) in County Cavan.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): Payments to this applicant under the 1989 calf and suckler cow premium schemes are being processed and will issue shortly.
120. Mr. Boylan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when installation aid will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Cavan.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): I expect that it will be possible to determine this applicant shortly. If the applicant is found to be eligible payment will be made as soon as possible.
121. Mr. Boylan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when a headage payment will be made to a person (details supplied) in County Cavan.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): This applicant has already received an advance payment under the 1989 cattle and equines headage scheme. Payment covering the balance due under that scheme together with payments due to him under the 1989 EC special beef and calf premium schemes are being processed and will issue shortly.
122. Mr. Cowen asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when a farm improvement grant will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Offaly.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): This grant will be paid shortly.
123. Mr. Cowen asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if a ewe subsidy will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Offaly; the reason the premium was not paid in respect of 33 sheep which were in the ownership of a person concerned; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): This applicant did not qualify for 1988 ewe premium because he did not maintain the number of ewes in respect of which he applied for premium for the 100 days retention period specified under that scheme.
124. Mr. Crowley asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food whether a person (details supplied) in County Cork is eligible for a pollution grant; and if an income limit applies in this case.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): From the details supplied by the Deputy the applicant in this case would not be eligible for grant-aid under the scheme for control of farmyard pollution where a gross off-farm income limit of £10,000 applies.
125. Mr. Crowley asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food whether a person (details supplied) in County Cork has been approved for a pollution grant; and, if so, when payment will issue.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): There is no record of an application having been received in this case under the control of farmyard pollution scheme.
126. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the reason for the delay in payment of headage grants and a beef premium to a person (details supplied) in County Waterford; and when payment will be made.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): Payments to this applicant under the 1989 suckler cow and special beef premium schemes have been made already. Payment under the 1989 calf premium scheme is being processed and will issue shortly.
The person named was deemed ineligible for the 1989 cattle and equine headage scheme as his off-farm earnings for income tax year ended 5 April 1989 were over £5,200. There is no particular delay in this case.
127. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when a headage grant and a suckler grant will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Kerry.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): This applicant has already received a 70 per cent payment under the 1989 cattle and equines headage scheme. Payment of the balance outstanding under that scheme is being withheld pending the erection of a cattle crush to facilitate the inspection of animals under the various livestock schemes.
Payments due to him under the 1989 calf premium, suckler cow premium and special beef premium schemes are being processed and will issue shortly.
128. Mr. M. Kitt asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the reason a grant under the calf to beef scheme orientation of agricultural production was not paid to a person (details supplied) in County Galway; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the person concerned was originally approved for the grant in September 1984 and that payment was promised in a letter dated 13 January 1986 to Deputy Michael P. Kitt; and when payment will be made.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): As the planned targets were not met in this case an interest subsidy is  not payable. The applicant has been so informed.
129. Mr. Nealon asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the county councils which have appointed veterinary officers as required by the Abattoirs Act. 1988; the councils which have to date failed to do so; the deadline for the appointments; if he is in communication with the county councils who have not made appointments to date; if he proposes to give assistance to councils where revenue from fees would not meet salaries and cost of the veterinary officers; the situation likely to emerge if county councils, for revenue reasons or otherwise fail to proceed with appointments; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
130. Mr. Nealon asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he has received an application from Sligo County Council for funds to enable it to appoint and pay for, through the supplementation of the fees received, a veterinary officer as required under the Abattoirs Act, 1988; if he proposes to make the money required available; and, if not, the way in which he intends to see that the requirements of the Act regarding the appointment of a veterinary officer are enforced.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): I propose to take Questions Nos. 129 and 130 together.
To date, the following local authorities have appointed veterinary inspectors:— the County Borough Corporations of Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford and the County Councils of Cork, Dublin, Kerry, Kildare, Tipperary S. R., and Wicklow. It is expected that the remaining 21 county councils will make appointments in the near future. While the authorities concerned were required to make the appointments before 1 March, it was not found possible in practice to adhere to that deadline.
 There are no funds at my disposal to assist the local authorities in this matter and Sligo County Council was so informed in response to a request for funding made last December. I would point out that the Abattoirs Act, 1988, provides that any two local authorities may, with my consent, share the services of a veterinary inspector. I have already granted such consent to six authorities and the question of a similar arrangement for seven other authorities is being considered. I do not foresee a situation where any local authority would fail to make an appointment.
131. Mr. M. Kitt asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when suckler cow grants, cow grants and/or calf grants, reactor grants and depopulation grants will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Galway.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): Payment to this applicant under the 1989 calf premium scheme has already been made. Payments under the 1989 beef cow and equines headage scheme, the suckler cow schemes and the reactor and depopulation grants due are being processed and will issue shortly.
132. Mr. M. Kitt asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when cow grants, calf grants and bullock grants will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Galway.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): This applicant has already received a 70 per cent advance payment under the 1989 beef cow and equines headage scheme.
Payments covering the balance payable under the scheme and the full amounts due to him under the calf, suckler cow and special beef premium schemes are being processed and will issue shortly.
133. Mr. M. Kitt asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when headage grants will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Galway.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): This applicant has already received a 70 per cent advance payment under the 1989 cattle and equines headage scheme. His application is being processed by field staff at present and if found in order he will be paid the balance due to him under the scheme together with any other grants due to him under the 1989 livestock schemes.
134. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when a beef premium will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Meath; if the relevant documents are still in the Department's office in Navan; if so, the reason for the delay in issuing them to his office in Dublin for payment; and if his Department has given any instructions to its officials to delay payments of beef premium grants for financial reasons.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): Payment to this applicant under the 1989 special beef premium scheme is being processed and will issue shortly.
My Department has not given instructions to its officials to delay payment of beef premium grants for any reasons.
135. Mr. Hyland asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food when it is proposed to divide remaining Land Commission holdings in County Laois.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): It is hoped that the remaining Land Commission holdings in County Laois will be divided in the coming season.
136. Mr. Hyland asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food if he will arrange for the early issue of headage payments to a person (details supplied) in County Laois.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): Payments to this applicant under the 1989 calf premium and EC suckler cow premium schemes are being processed and will issue shortly.
137. Mr. Hyland asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the reason for the delay in payment of livestock headage grants to a person (details supplied) in County Carlow.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): The registered owner of this herd number has already been paid his 1989 EC special beef premium scheme grants.
138. Mr. Hyland asked the Minister for Agriculture and Food the reason for the delay in the issuing of headage payments to a person (details supplied) in County Laois.
Minister for Agriculture and Food (Mr. O'Kennedy): Payments to this applicant under the 1988 and 1989 cattle and equines headage, 1989 calf, suckler cow and special beef premium schemes are being processed and will issue shortly.
There is no particular delay in making payments to the applicant under the 1989 schemes mentioned. The delay in making payment under the 1988 cattle and equines headage scheme arose because of an off-farm income query which had to be resolved before payment could be made.
139. Mr. S. Barrett asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce the conditions under which the Insurance Corporation of Ireland is being sold to a French group; and whether the sale will mean the abolition of the special levy on all insurance premia.
Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. O'Malley): With regard to the conditions under which the Insurance Corporation of Ireland (ICI) is being sold, I would refer the Deputy to my reply to Parliamentary Question No. 27 of 15 February 1990. The specific details of the sale are a matter for the administrator of ICI.
So far as the insurance compensation fund levy is concerned, it is used exclusively to finance the administration of Primor plc (formerly known as PMPA Insurance plc). It is expected that the levy will cease during 1993 when it is no longer required for Primor plc.
140. Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce the number of retail outlets for motor fuels in operation and the average throughput per year of motor fuels in cubic metres per outlet in (a) 1980, (b) 1985, (c) 1987 and (d) the most recent year for which figures are available.
Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. O'Malley): The most recent year for which figures are available is 1988. The number of retail outlets for motor fuels in operation and the average throughput per year of motor fuels in cubic metres per outlet is set out in the table hereunder.
|Year||No. of outlets in operation||Average throughput per outlet|
141. Mr. Stagg asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if there is a requirement under existing food labelling regulations to declare that food has been subjected to ionising irradiation; if the omission of information as to whether food has been irradiated would create confusion in the mind of the purchaser; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. O'Malley): Existing food labelling regulations require that the name under which a foodstuff is sold must include or be accompanied by particulars of any treatment which it has undergone in all cases where the omission of such information could create confusion in the mind of the purchaser. The question of whether any particular foodstuff has been labelled in accordance with the regulations is a matter for the courts to decide. Decisions to prosecute for possible noncompliance are the responsibility of the health boards and the Director of Consumer Affairs and Fair Trade.
I should add that, because of differing views as to whether the omission of an indication that a foodstuff had been irradiated could create confusion in the mind of a purchaser, a directive was adopted in June 1989 — Council Directive 89/395/EEC of 14 June 1989, OJ No. L 186/17 — which, inter alia, explicitly requires that any foodstuff which has been treated with ionising radiation must bear the words “irradiated” or “treated with ionising radiation”. Member states are required to give effect to this directive by June 1992.
142. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Energy if he will ensure that the herd of deer in the woods at Dartry, near Rockcorry in County Monaghan are properly fenced in, in order to prevent the herd from roaming the farmland in the area, with a view to preventing outbreaks of TB.
Minister for Energy (Mr. Molloy): The forest referred to is the property of Coillte Teoranta, and the matter raised is an operational one for the company itself.
143. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Energy the discussions which have taken place with the European nations in regard to the setting up of a European gas grid.
Minister for Energy (Mr. Molloy): I assume that what the Deputy has in mind are discussions in regard to the issue of gas interconnection of Ireland to the European gas grid.
As I stated in reply to Question No. 45 of 7 December 1989, I have given priority to the examination of interconnection of this country with the existing European gas grid so that we will be in a position to make an early decision on the matter. A number of meetings with British and continental interests have taken place and further contacts are planned.
144. Mr. Leonard asked the Minister for Energy when a decision will be made on commercial viability of natural gas deposits in the north-west Cavan-Leitrim area.
Minister for Energy (Mr. Molloy): The consortium, which most recently held an exploration licence in the area referred to, relinquished the licence in 1987 without declaring the gas deposits which had been encountered to be commercially viable. Since then no new exploration licence for the area has been granted.
145. Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Social Welfare if his attention has been brought to the problems of illegal moneylending in Mullingar, Country Westmeath, as outlined in a report (details supplied); the action, if any, he proposes to take to ensure that this abuse of the law is stopped as quickly as possible and that the people in need of such facilities will obtain assistance; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): I am aware of the newspaper  report in question which contains allegations that child benefit books have been taken as security for loans. Under existing legislation any person who takes a book in exchange or in pawn is guilty of an offence for which he/she is liable (a) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £1,000 and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three year, or (b) on conviction on indictment, to a fine not exceeding £10,000 and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years.
Notwithstanding these allegations, my Department have not received any specific complaints of abuses of this nature and have no evidence which would warrant prosecution under these provisions. If the position in this regard changes, all appropriate action will be taken, including prosecution of offenders, if the circumstances allow.
With a view to assisting people to break the cycle of over-indebtedness and to regain control over their financial affairs, I announced proposals toward the end of last year for the operation of a revolving loan guarantee fund specifically to assist those on low incomes who have become indebted to moneylenders. These proposals involve the expansion of schemes which the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and certain credit unions had already been operating in various areas throughout the country, including Mullingar, to tackle the problem of moneylending. The fund, which is a central element of the Government's action plan to deal with the problems caused by moneylending, is administered on a day to day basis by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul with the co-operation of participating credit unions.
146. Mr. Creed asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason for the delay in implementing the proposed pre-retirement allowance scheme; and when this scheme will come into operation.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The assessment of applications is now being finalised and the scheme will  become fully operational as soon as the necessary administrative arrangements are completed.
147. Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Social Welfare if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the Combat Poverty Agency has recommended a submission from the Alliance for Work Forum for funding under the national anti-poverty programme; if it is his intention to sanction the necessary funding; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): A sum of £525,000 has been made available to me this year to provide core funding to community development activity aimed at combating poverty. The organisations which will be supported from this allocation and the criteria under which this funding will be made available are now being finalised and I will be announcing the details shortly.
148. Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason unemployment benefit in the case of a person (details supplied) has been reduced; and if he will have full payment restored.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The rate of unemployment benefit payable to an applicant is reduced after 156 days of benefit where he does not satisfy the contribution condition of having 280 paid contributions in a seven year period.
The person concerned was in receipt of flat-rate unemployment benefit at the maximum rate appropriate in his case until 13 February 1990 when he had received 156 days of benefit. He does not satisfy the contribution condition for further payment at the maximum rate and, accordingly, his weekly rate of unemployment benefit was reduced from £95.80 to £88.90 from 14 February 1990  and he is at present in receipt of payment at this rate.
149. Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for Social Welfare when disability benefit will be awarded to a person (details supplied) in County Laois who is suffering severe hardship.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): The person concerned was paid disability benefit to 2 October 1989 after which date payment was disallowed following examination by a medical referee on 22 September 1989 who expressed the opinion that she was capable of work.
She appealed against the disallowance of benefit and was examined by a different medical referee on 8 December 1989 who also expressed the opinion that she was capable of work.
Her appeal has been referred to an appeals officer. Following an examination of the papers in the case, the appeals officer has decided to hold an oral hearing to afford the person concerned an opportunity of presenting her case personally. This hearing will be held as soon as possible.
150. Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason for the delay in deciding the appeal of a person (details supplied) in County Mayo for unemployment assistance.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): Following investigation, the unemployment assistance claim of the person concerned was disallowed from 6 December 1989 on the grounds that he had failed to disclose full details of his means.
He appealed against this decision. Following an examination of the papers in the case an appeals officer decided to hold an oral hearing to afford the person concerned a full opportunity to explain his case personally. This hearing is likely to take place next month and the person concerned will be informed as soon as the date is set.
151. Mr. S. Barrett asked the Minister for Social Welfare if his attention has been drawn to the fact that payment of cheques to social welfare recipients from this country who are residing in other EC countries, including Great Britain, is made in Irish punts; that the reason given is the lack of the facility here to make the payment in the currency of the country in which the recipient resides; that the recipient has to pay a charge to the foreign bank which is known as a transaction fee in order that the cheque may be sent back to this country for calculation of the sterling or other equivalent and returned to the foreign bank for lodgement; that this effectively reduces the payment by the amount of the charge, which varies from bank to bank and can be as high as £10; and if he has any plans to provide the necessary facility to end this anomalous situation.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): Department of Social Welfare payments to recipients who reside abroad are made in Irish punts. This arrangement is in keeping with provisions laid down in Irish and EC legislation. I am sympathetic towards the position of pensioners who may incur bank charges in cashing their social welfare payments abroad. Accordingly, I arranged some time ago for this matter to be examined within my Department in an attempt to find an alternative payment. A range of options is being examined to see if these difficulties can be resolved.
152. Mr. J. Mitchell asked the Minister for Social Welfare the reason unemployment assistance has been discontinued in the case of a person (details supplied) in Dublin 10; and if this case will be reviewed urgently.
Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): Following investigation, the unemployment assistance claim of the person concerned was disallowed from  21 February 1990 on the grounds that his means exceeded the statutory limit for receipt of a qualification certificate from that date. His means, assessed at £7,075.12 p.a., are derived from the benefit of his spouse's earnings. The limit in his case is £6,500 p.a.
He appealed against this decision and his case has been referred to an appeals officer for consideration. When a decision is given, he will be informed of the outcome without delay.
153. Mr. Moynihan asked the Minister for Justice if, in view of the transfer of staff to the new office of his Department in Killarney, County Kerry, during 1990, he will outline office requirements in regard to (1) maintenance and cleaning staff and (2) catering staff for the canteen; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): The maintenance and cleaning requirements for my Department's new office in Killarney have yet to be determined. Final decisions in the matter will be taken when the building has been handed over to the Department. This is scheduled to take place at the end of June.
As regard catering, only a limited canteen facility is being provided and it is not envisaged that catering staff will be required.
154. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Justice if there are any plans to provide a unit for female offenders in Cork Prison.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): There are no such plans.
155. Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Justice if his attention has been brought to the problems of illegal moneylending in Mullingar, County Westmeath, as outlined in a report (details supplied); the action, if any, he proposes to take to ensure that this abuse of the law is stopped as quickly as possible and that the people in need of such facilities will obtain assistance; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I am aware of the newspaper report on alleged illegal moneylending in Mullingar to which the Deputy refers.
The following is the position as far as matters coming within my area of responsibility are concerned. I am informed by the Garda authorities that the gardaí pursue actively all illegal breaches of the law in relation to moneylending. In keeping with this policy the gardaí began investigations two years ago when allegations of irregularities by moneylenders in Mullingar were made at public meetings and in local newspapers by local representatives. With the exception of one case, which was reported last September and which is at present before the courts and therefore sub judice, the gardaí could find no evidence to support the allegations made.
156. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for Justice if it is his intention to dispose of a property owned by his Department at Athboy, County Meath; and, if so, the way in which it is proposed to dispose of it.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I presume that the property to which the Deputy refers is the site purchased some years ago by the Office of Public Works for the erection of a Garda house. This property is now surplus to Garda requirements and its disposal is a matter for the Office of Public Works.
157. Mr. J. Fahey asked the Minister for Justice the reason for the delay in having an application lodged with the Land Registry by a person (details supplied) in County Waterford.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I am informed by the Registrar of Titles that this is an application for a transfer of part (subdivision) which was lodged in the Land Registry on 9 February 1989. Due to the pressure of work generally, there is at present a delay in completing such cases.
I am also informed that it is the policy of the Land Registry to try, as far as possible, to expedite cases in which it can be established that special circumstances of urgency exist and any such case will be specially considered if details are submitted to the registrar.
158. Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Justice if, in view of the recent level of public concern about the non-availability of custodial facilities for disturbed adolescents, he will make funding available to Erehwon House in County Waterford, details of which have been sent to him on numerous occasions.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): I have received representations on a number of occasions concerning funding for Erehwon House. I have replied saying that, given the type of facilities provided in Erehwon House, the question of funding appears to be more appropriate to other State agencies, but adding that, if it was considered that it would be useful to have a meeting with officials of my Department, this could be arranged by contacting the principal probation and welfare officer. To date the officer in question has not been contacted.
159. Mr. Byrne asked the Minister for Justice, in light of the statistics supplied in response to Parliamentary Question No. 64 of 8 February 1990 which showed that as a result of petitions to remit or commute penalties, he acceded to remit, partially remit or extend payment time for 1,599 cases out of 3,300 petitions; if he will have published in Iris Oifigiúil all petitions acceded to on the same basis, as he is obliged to do under section 23 (5) of the Criminal Justice Act, 1951, when remitting disqualified drivers from holding driving licences.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): Subsection 23 (5) of the Criminal Justice Act, 1951, refers specifically to the Road Traffic Act, 1933, which was repealed by the Road Traffic Act, 1961. Under section 124 of the new Act, disqualification for holding a driving licence is excluded from being remitted under the petitions procedure. As remissions of this nature no longer arise, neither does the matter of publication in Iris Oifigiúil.
It would be contrary to long established practice to publish the outcome of individual petitions for the remission or mitigation of penalties and I do not propose to do so.
160. Mr. Finucane asked the Minister for Justice the circumstances under which telephone lines can be tape recorded officially; whether the staff of the Revenue Commissioners or Customs and Excise officers are empowered to intercept telephone calls; and, if so, if he will outline the circumstances under which this is permissible.
Minister for Justice (Mr. Burke): The interception of telephone calls without the consent of the subscriber is carried out only in accordance with warrants issued by the Minister for Justice. The procedures in relation to the issue of such warrants have been outlined in the House on a number of occasions. I would refer the Deputy to the detailed reply given by the then Minister for Justice to a series of questions on 17 February 1972, (volume 258, columns 2136 to 2145) of the Official Report.
161. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for Communications if a licence was granted to provide a piped television relay service in Athlone, County Westmeath; the extent of the urban area which is licensed; when the licence was granted; when it is due for renewal; if he has received any complaints about the service; if he is satisfied that the service is adequate; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Communications (Mr. Burke): The cable television licence for Athlone was awarded on 1 May 1981. The licence covers Athlone Urban District and its environs.
The licence remains in force unless surrendered or revoked. My Department have received some complaints recently about the service and these are being investigated.
162. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for the Environment the number of submissions made to him in relation to the review of EC Directive 385 of 1985; the bodies or individuals who made each submission; and the likely date for the review.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): I assume the Deputy is referring to EC Council Directive No. 85/384/EEC of 10 June 1985 which is generally known as the Architects' Directive. Article 30 of the Directive requires the EC Commission to review the Directive on the basis of experience within five years of its notification. In the context of this review, my Department invited submissions from interested parties and individuals in November 1989.
A total of 31 submissions was received. As some of these were made on a confidential basis it would not be appropriate for me to name individuals. The comments received are currently being examined in my Department.
163. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for the Environment if he will arrange for an immediate driving test in the case of a person (details supplied) in County Meath.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): A test has already been arranged in this case.
164. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for the Environment the grants which are available to farmers in disadvantaged areas who wish to provide access to land which is at present unproductive as a result of its inaccessibility to machinery; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): My Department do not provide grants to farmers for this purpose. However, under the local improvements scheme the Department pay State grants to local authorities in respect of certain improvement works in rural areas, including the improvement of non-public roads serving the local agricultural community. In order to qualify, a road improvement project must benefit two or more parcels of land owned or occupied by different persons, or serve the public. The selection of the individual projects for funding under the local improvements scheme is the responsibility of the local authorities having regard to detailed guidelines issued by the Department.
165. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for the Environment if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the road grant for the improvement of urban roads which has been allocated to Carrickmacross Urban District Council, County Monaghan, is totally inadequate for this purpose; if he has been informed of same by the members of Carrickmacross Urban District Council; if he will increase the road grant allocation to a level which will enable Carrickmacross Urban District Council to carry out essential repairs and improvements to the roads in its local authority area; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): On the 7 February last, the 1990 road grants were notified to local authorities generally. In the case of Carrickmacross Urban Council the 1990 road grants amount to £17,000, compared with £6,000 in 1989. These grants supplement the provision made by the local authority, from their own resources, for the improvement, maintenance and management of urban roads.
I have not received any correspondence from Carrickmacross Urban Council in relation to their 1990 road grant allocation.
The 1990 Exchequer provisions for road grants have been fully allocated and there are no additional funds available to me now from which I could make additional allocations.
166. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for the Environment if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the condition of the main and county roads and national primary and secondary roads in County Monaghan is extremely poor and dangerous; the amount of money necessary to restore them to their proper condition; if Monaghan County Council have provided him with details of the approximate amount of funding necessary for this purpose; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): In 1987 and 1988 my Department carried out a review of the long term development needs of the entire network of public roads throughout the country, including Monaghan, on the basis of an evaluation period of 20 years. A breakdown of needs relating to national roads is not available on a county by county basis.
 The long term expenditure needs identified in relation to the improvement and maintenance of non-national roads (regional, county and urban roads) took account of, inter alia, the result of a survey on regional and county roads presented to me in 1988 by the County and City Engineers' Association, and assessments prepared by local authorities at my request on the estimated costs of bringing county roads up to satisfactory standard. In the case of Monaghan, the local authority's estimates amounted to £26.6 million.
Responsibility for undertaking any works on the network of non-national roads, including the provision of the necessary finance, is primarily a matter for the local authorities. They may use the discretionary grants for non-national roads paid by my Department to supplement expenditure from their own resources on such roads.
The 1990 road grants for Monaghan County Council amount to £4,947,000, which represents an increase of £1,882,000, or 61 per cent on the road grants notified to the authority for 1989. The provision comprises £3,057,000 for national roads and £1,890,000 for regional and county roads including discretionary grants amounting to £1,870,000. The latter grants include a supplementary provision of £300,000 for improvements to regional and county roads in recognition of the special needs of the county.
I am satisfied that Monaghan County Council has received its fair share of the funds available to me for road grants in 1990.
167. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for the Environment if he will examine the position regarding a person (details supplied) in County Monaghan who made an application for the voluntary redundancy-early retirement scheme through Carrickmacross Urban District Council with whom he is employed; and if he will review this case with a view to offering voluntary redundancy to the person concerned as an exceptional case under this scheme; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): No proposal was received in my Department from the local authority to apply the terms of the voluntary redundancy-early retirement scheme in this particular case. It was a matter for each manager to identify posts to which it would be appropriate to apply the terms of the scheme and subsequently, subject to my sanction, to offer the terms to relevant staff. The actual date of retirement under the scheme in the local authority service must not have been later than 30 June 1989.
168. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for the Environment if he has any plans to extend the designated area scheme of Cork city.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): I have had requests from many urban local authorities and interested persons for an extension of urban renewal designation to their areas, and all such requests are carefully considered. Given the special nature of the urban renewal incentives, comment on particular cases has to be at the discretion of the Minister for the Environment and is normally reserved.
I have however stated my proposal, in reply to Question No. 59 of 19 July 1989 and subsequently, to extend designation for urban renewal to a number of new areas in Dublin inner city and to parts of Ballina, Bray, Carlow, Clonmel, Drogheda, Ennis, Longford and Portlaoise.
169. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for the Environment if there exists in his Department awaiting approval, a contract in respect of the N7 by-pass, Newbridge, County Kildare; if he intends to approve the tender for this in 1990; whether there are any obstacles preventing his approval in this case; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): I have sought legal advice in relation to the award of a contract for works on a section of the by-pass. In the circumstances, it would not be appropriate for me to comment further in the matter at this time.
170. Mr. O'Dea asked the Minister for the Environment when a house improvement grant will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Connolly): Notification of completion of the works has not yet been received.
171. Mr. O'Dea asked the Minister for the Environment when a house improvement grant will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick.
Minister of State at the Department the Environment (Mr. Connolly): Notification of completion of the works has not yet been received.
171. Mr. O'Dea asked the Minister for the Environment when a house improvement grant will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Connolly): The grant will be paid as soon as possible.
172. Mr. O'Dea asked the Minister for the Environment when a house improvement grant will be paid to a person (details supplied) in County Limerick.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Connolly): There is no record of the receipt of an application for a house improvement grant from the person named at the address given.
173. Mr. Flanagan asked the Minister for the Environment , in light of uncertainty surrounding the proposed designation of the urban area of Portlaoise, County Laois, under the urban renewal financial incentive scheme, if he will make a statement on the reason for the delay in making a public and official ministerial announcement on the areas to be designated; and if such a statement of clarification will be made without further delay having regard to the fact that urban development is at a standstill in anticipation of favourable consideration to all areas of the town.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): As stated in reply to Parliamentary Question No. 59 of 19 July 1989 and subsequently, I propose to extend designation for urban renewal to a number of new areas, including Portlaoise. The exact definition of these areas is being finalised with a view to completing the necessary orders. I hope to announce details of the new designations shortly.
174. Mr. J. Mitchell asked the Minister for the Environment if provision has been made in this year's Estimates for the refurbishment of 18 houses on Cloverhill Road and 12 houses on Clifden Drive, Ballyfermot, Dublin 10; if this approval has been signified in writing to Dublin Corporation; if he will give an estimate of the cost of this refurbishment; if he will give an assurance that as soon as the recommended tender is received in his Department he will deal with it without delay; the present stage of the tendering procedure; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Connolly): A capital allocation of £5 million has been notified to Dublin Corporation in respect of their expenditure under the remedial works scheme this year. The apportionment of the allocation between its approved projects, which include the Cherry Orchard Estate, is a matter for the local authority, as is the planning and execution of the work. The estimated overall cost of this project is some £6 million. Approval to seek tenders for  phase 1A (12 houses) and phase 2 (18 houses) issued to the corporation last January. Their proposal in relation to the tenders will be dealt with as quickly as possible when they are received.
175. Mr. Crowley asked the Minister for the Environment the average unit cost of building local authority dwellings; and the way in which North Committee of Cork County Council is expected to build 35 houses for £770,000.
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment (Mr. Connolly): The average estimated all in cost of providing a two storey, three bedroom, five person local authority dwelling nationally is £35,500.
The full cost of the houses an authority are authorised to commence in any year does not arise solely in that year. The capital allocations notified to each housing authority including Cork (North) County Council, are considered to be sufficient to meet the expenditure arising on the authority's housing programme in 1990.
176. Mr. Crowley asked the Minister for the Environment when he will approve and allow Cork County Council to seek tenders for the (1) Dromina sewerage scheme costing £75,000 and (2) Tullylease water supply scheme costing £30,000, in view of the fact that these applications were lodged in 1989.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): Proposals under the small scheme programme 1990 in respect of these schemes are being examined in my Department at present. A decision will issue as soon as possible.
177. Mr. Nealon asked the Minister for the Environment the areas in Sligo Borough designated for special tax concessions with a view to promoting urban renewal; when the designated period expires; the developments which have taken place under particular concessions; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): The areas of Sligo Borough which are designated for urban renewal are defined in the Urban Renewal Act, 1986 (Designated Areas) Order, 1988 (S.I. No. 92 of 1988). Under the Finance Act, 1987 (Designation of Urban Renewal Areas) Order, 1988 (S.I. No. 124 of 1988), the urban renewal tax incentives have effect until 31 May, 1991. However, the Minister for Finance, in the Budget Statement, indicated his intention to extend this deadline until 31 May, 1993. To date, 18 projects with an estimated value of £2.36 million have been completed or are in progress in the Sligo designated area. Information regarding specific projects is available from Sligo Corporation.
178. Mr. S. Barrett asked the Minister for the Environment if, in view of the extreme incidents of vandalism and intimidation being experienced over the past several years by a company (details supplied) in Dublin 1 and the failure of Garda action and surveillance to solve the problem, he will agree to make this a designated area.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): I have had requests from many urban local authorities and interested persons for an extension of urban renewal designation to their area, and all such requests are carefully considered. Given the special nature of the urban renewal incentives, comment on particular cases has to be at the discretion of the Minister for the Environment and is normally reserved.
I have however stated my proposal, in reply to Question No. 59 of 19 July, 1989 and subsequently, to extend designation for urban renewal to a number of new areas in Dublin inner-city and to parts of  Ballina, Bray, Carlow, Clonmel, Drogheda, Ennis, Longford and Portlaoise.
179. Mr. S. Barrett asked the Minister for the Environment if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there are no paths in the Borough of Dún Laoghaire, County Dublin, reserved exclusively for cyclists; Dún Laoghaire Corporation do not have the staff or financial resources to provide such paths; and if he will make the necessary finance available.
Minister for the Environment (Mr. Flynn): Regulations made under section 60 of the Road Traffic Act, 1968, enable cycle tracks to be provided on public roadways that are part of existing carriageways. It is also possible to provide for alternative exclusive cycle facilities, separate from road ways, by means of local by-laws made by the Garda Commissioner.
My Department, in co-operation with Dublin Corporation and the Garda, has been engaged in a pilot exercise aimed at identifying the most appropriate cycle facilities in large urban areas. As part of this exercise, the Department approved the provision of certain facilities by the corporation in a number of locations in Dublin city. Reports by the corporation and the Garda on the effectiveness of these facilities are currently being considered in the Department.
Pending completion of this exercise, it would be premature for Dún Laoghaire Corporation to formulate proposals for providing exclusive cycle facilities in the borough.
180. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Health if he will give details of the timetable for commencement and completion of the planned Tallaght Hospital, Dublin 24; and whether he will ensure, in the arrangement of continuation contracts, that workers on site will include a reasonable proportion of local unemployed building workers.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The Tallaght hospital project is currently at an advanced stage of planning and it is expected that construction work will commence in 1991 and that commissioning will be completed by 1994.
181. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for Health if a person (details supplied) in County Meath obtained a place in a suitable hostel care in view of the fact that the application was with the North Eastern Health Board from April 1988.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): Provision of residential places for people with a mental handicap is a matter for each health board in the first instance. Places are allocated on the basis of the priority needs of individual cases, having regard to the assessments made by the relevant professionals.
I have made inquiries from the North Eastern Health Board in this case. This person is currently living in a high support hostel in England. He has been assessed at St. Mary's Drumcar, County Louth but no suitable place is available for him at present. I have asked the board to continue their efforts to find an appropriate residential service in this case.
182. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health if he proposes to make additional funds available to the Children's Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin 12; and if any request has been received for further funding for the hospital.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The request for additional funding for Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin is being considered in my Department at present. I am not yet in a  position to make any statement on the likely outcome of these discussions.
192. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Health the amount per hour paid to home helps in each of the health board areas; if he considers this to be adequate; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): I propose to take Questions Nos. 183 and 192 together.
The weekly salary scale applicable to full time home helps with effect from 1 January, 1990 is as follows: £154.18 — £155.50 — £156.75 — £157.48 — £158.22 — £159.66 — £160.42 — £161.17 — £161.97 — £162.75 — £163.56 — £164.34.
In the case of part-time home helps employed by the health boards the following is the position:
|Health Board||Part Time Rate|
|Mid-Western||£2.06 per hour|
|North-Eastern||£1.25 per hour|
|North-Western||£2.30 per hour|
|Western||.80p per hour|
|South-Eastern||There is no fixed hourly rate. Payment varies according to task.|
There are no full-time home helps employed by the Southern Health Board. The board employs about 1,400 part-time home helps.
The Government is committed to improving services for the elderly. An additional allocation of £5 million is being made available this year to develop home and community support for the elderly as  recommended in the report of the working party on services for the elderly The Years Ahead: A Policy for the Elderly. Health boards will be informed of their share of the additional funds shortly. As a result of this funding, health boards will be able to make considerable progress towards achieving their priorities in services for the elderly this year.
184. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a ward in Cork Regional Hospital still remains closed; the reason for this situation; the steps which are being taken to have the ward brought into service; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The level and range of services provided at Cork Regional Hospital is a matter in the first instance for the Southern Health Board. In order to live within the resources at its disposal and having regard to its competing service priorities, the board made a decision in 1987 to reduce the bed provision at Cork Regional Hospital. Since 1987 the number of beds in use at the hospital has been increased from 482 to its present level of 567. The need to bring further beds into operation is constantly being reviewed by the board with particular regard to demand for additional services and available resources.
185. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health the number and location of speech therapists operating in the Southern Health Board area; the number working in (a) Cork city (b) Cork County and (c) County Kerry; the number of persons requiring speech therapy in each of these areas; if the numbers are expected to meet the needs of the people in the current year; if he will outline his intentions in relation to the provision of an adequate service in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): At present there are 15 speech therapists employed by the Southern Health Board and by voluntary organisations supported by State funds. Of these, ten serve community care areas Cork city-south Cork and west Cork, one serves Cork county north and four serve County Kerry. I am seeking up-dated figures on the numbers awaiting treatment in the areas referred to and I will communicate with the Deputy in the matter.
The Southern Health Board has created two additional posts, one in Cork city and south Cork and one in Kerry and steps are being taken to fill these posts.
186. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health if he will make a statement on the operation of hospital incinerators in the Cork area; if they are working in an efficient manner; the temperature at which incineration takes place; the method used; whether any analysis of emissions has been carried out at any of the hospital sites within the last three years; if so, if he will make such documentation available; the hospitals where incinerators are sited; the hospitals where incinerators are in operation; the hospitals where incinerators have ceased operation because of inefficiency; and the method used for the disposal of clinical and hazardous waste from such hospitals.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): I would refer the Deputy to the reply to Question No. 390 of 30 January, 1990. The position which was outlined in that reply in relation to the operation of incinerators in Dublin hospitals applies also in the case of hospital incinerators in other areas, including the Cork area.
187. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health the number of persons admitted to Cork hospitals during the months of November and December 1989 and January 1990 suffering from various complaints; the number of beds that were available for admission of patients for scheduled but non-emergency medical procedures and surgical procedures during this time; and the number of beds which were used for emergency admission on a hospital by hospital basis (a) during the period outlined above and (b) for the same period in 1988-89.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): Some of the detailed information requested by the Deputy is still being compiled in my Department. I will communicate with the Deputy within a week.
188. Dr. Lee asked the Minister for Health if he will give an assurance that a person (details supplied) in Dublin 3 will be taken into long-stay care at an early date.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The responsibility for providing long-term care to persons in the Dublin area is a matter for the Eastern Health Board in the first instance. I understand that the person concerned was discharged from James Connolly Memorial Hospital on 2 February 1990 and is now awaiting placement in a health board welfare home. Admission to long stay care is on a priority need basis as vacancies arise and is being dealt with by the consultant geriatrician concerned. At present the person is accommodated in a nursing home.
189. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the delays which general practitioners are experiencing in obtaining payments from the General Medical Service Payments Board, with particular reference to rural practice allowances, dispensing fees and grant aid for the employment of secretaries and practice nurses; if he will review the delayed issue of these quarterly payments; if he will arrange that they will be paid in a more efficient manner; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The General Medical Services (Payments) Board have informed me that there is no delay in issuing payments to general practitioners.
Payments are made in accordance with the provisions and procedures of the general practitioners contract with the health boards. The contract states that “payment of fees shall be made monthly and allowances shall be paid at least quarterly”.
Accordingly, the capitation fees are paid on the 15 day of each month. Rural practice allowances are paid quarterly on the 15 day of the month following the end of the quarter. Dispensing fees are issued as soon as the necessary information is received by the General Medical Services Payments Board from the health boards. Grant aid for the employment of secretaries and practice nurses is paid no later than the 15 day of the month following the month of receipt of the claim from the general practitioner.
The operation of the general practitioners contract, including the arrangements for the making of payments, is regularly discussed by representatives of the Irish Medical Organisation, the health boards, the General Medical Services Payments Board and the Department of Health.
190. Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a critical situation has arisen in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin 9 due to a shortage of beds, with only urgent emergency cases being admitted; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): I understand from Beaumont Hospital that in order to allow a review of the admission system and the current utilisation of beds, the hospital's consultants have been requested to limit admissions to particular categories of patient from 1 March to 11 March this year. These categories are: (i) urgent and acute emergencies from the accident and emergency catchment area; (ii) urgent and acute transfers from other hospitals; (iii) acute admissions from the out-patients department.
This is a temporary arrangement and the hospital will resume normal practice on 12 March. The hospital will at least maintain its activity level in 1990 in line with that achieved in the latter half of 1989.
191. Mr. Cotter asked the Minister for Health if he will provide the most up-to-date figures on the number of nurses who are involved in job sharing in each of the health board areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The position regarding the number of nursing staff employed in a job-sharing capacity in health boards is as outlined in the following tabular statement which is based on the December 1989 health service census.
|Health Board||Number of Nurses||Whole-time Equivalent|
|Eastern Health Board||148||74|
|Midland Health Board||86||43|
|Mid-Western Health Board||123||61.50|
|North-Eastern Health Board||68||34|
|North-Western Health Board||120||60|
|South-Eastern Health Board||209||104.50|
|Southern Health Board||321||160.50|
|Western Health Board||51||25.50|
193. Mr. Cowen asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) in County Offaly will be called for an urgent operation in the Meath Hospital, Dublin 8.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): I understand that the person in question is a 70 year old lady who was referred from Tullamore Hospital to the Meath Hospital. She was examined in the Meath Hospital on 7 February 1990 but no decision was taken on the appropriate method of treatment at that time.
I understand the medical teams in both hospitals are now considering how her condition can best be treated.
194. Mr. Yates asked the Minister for Health if a person (details supplied) in Dublin 4 will be approved for financial aid towards treatment she received abroad for which they applied in November-December 1989 to the Eastern Health Board; and if so, when a decision will be made in this regard.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): I have been in touch with the Eastern Health Board which are responsible for the referral of patients from its area abroad. The board have furnished a report which states that the person in question was referred abroad by private arrangement and, therefore, the costs involved would be a matter for resolution between the patient and the authorities of the Birmingham clinic. However, the board agreed to examine the case on hardship grounds and they requested the patient to complete a financial assessment form. Following a detailed examination of the information supplied the board refused the application on the grounds that the person concerned had sufficient means to meet the cost of treatment. The person in question was notified of this decision by letter dated 22 November 1989 from the Eastern Health Board.
195. Mr. Boylan asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the serious effect which the reduction of attendants on night shift to one person will have on the patients in St. Felim's Hospital, Cavan; if he has considered the risk at which he is putting old people; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that one attendant could not look after all floors and if he will give a commitment in light of the above to retain two night attendants at St. Felim's.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): This is a matter for the North-Eastern Health Board in the first instance.
I understand that the board have no proposals to reduce the night attendant cover at St. Felim's Hospital. On the contrary, the board is in fact proposing to enhance the night attendant cover at St. Felim's Hospital.
196. Mr. Gregory asked the Minister for Health if, in view of the recent level of public concern about the non-availability of custodial facilities for disturbed adolescents, he will make funding available to Erehwon House in County Waterford, details of which have been sent to him on numerous occasions.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): Officials of my Department have met with representatives of the Erehwon House project to discuss their proposed development of a residential centre for adolescents. A further meeting is due to take place shortly to consider the financial and other aspects of the project. Pending the outcome of those discussions, I am not in a position to say what funding arrangements might be made.
197. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health whether he has any plans in the context of the EC Presidency to promote new community initiatives in the health sphere; and the implications, if any, such plans would have for Ireland.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): A number of specific health items were still current at the conclusion of the French Presidency mostly in the anti-smoking field. The most notable of these items is the draft directive on the advertising of tobacco products. This draft directive, which is based to a large extent on existing Irish legislation in the anti-smoking field, seeks to harmonise the manner in which tobacco products are advertised in member states. I consider it to be of vital importance that considerable progress be made on this important initiative during the Irish Presidency.
I will be tabling a Presidency paper on youth and emerging health problems covering such areas as tobacco consumption, alcohol abuse, drug abuse and AIDS. The special problems of our young people and their vulnerability in these areas is of primary concern to me as Minister for Health and I will be asking my colleagues in the other member states to consider ways of improving awareness among our young people and of promoting positive life styles at the same time as building the necessary safeguards into our national and EC legislation.
In so far as AIDS is concerned I will be taking initiatives in the areas of early intervention and the development of costing methodologies which if successful will have far reaching consequences in the planning and delivery of services to HIV infected persons.
In the field of drug abuse the emphasis during the Irish Presidency will be on the development of epidemiological methodologies and on the educational aspects of prevention and treatment. The Deputy might also like to know that I, in conjunction with my Government colleagues — the Ministers for Justice, Finance and Foreign Affairs — will be focusing on the broader aspects of this problem relating in particular to international trafficking of drugs.
198. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health the complement of staff in the North Infirmary Hospital, Cork, now closed, in November 1989; the grade of each member of staff; and the salary paid to each grade.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The provision of health care services at the North Infirmary Hospital has ceased in November 1989 and, consequently, staff were no longer employed there for this purpose.
199. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that there is no cardiac ambulance in the Cork city area; and the steps he will take to ensure that the stalemate which exists there will be rectified in the interests of public health.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The provision of ambulance services in the Cork city area is a matter for the Southern Health Board in the first instance. I understand that the board, in considering the development of cardiology services, will further assess the need for a cardiac ambulance in Cork city.
200. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health the number of cardiac by-passes carried out in Cork Regional Hospital in (a) 1988 and (b) 1989.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The number of cardiac by-passes carried out at Cork Regional Hospital in 1988 and 1989 was 148 and 116, respectively.
201. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health if he will clarify the position on the availability of alarm-alert systems for the elderly and the handicapped to be provided by the Southern Health Board; and whether these are available for purchase for the elderly.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): Health boards may provide an alarm-alert system to elderly persons at medical or social risk, e.g. living in an isolated area or living alone. The Southern Health Board have provided an alarm-alert system for a number of elderly in west Cork. The board have also contributed towards the cost of individual house alarm systems connected to a central control unit in a sheltered housing complex.
Applications for the provision of an emergency communications system in the Southern Health Board are dealt with under the housing aid scheme for the elderly. Home units are also available for private purchase from commercial outlets. The Southern Health Board provide advice on suitable systems.
The use of alarm systems in the care of the elderly may grow in the future as the technology develops and people gain confidence in its use. As announced in the budget and in my speech of 6 February, I will be making £5 million available to health boards shortly to strengthen home and community support for ill or disabled elderly people. The provision of home alarms is an option open to boards to maintain elderly people at home if they would otherwise require institutional care.
202. Mr. G. O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health if he will undertake an immediate campaign to inform the public of the risks of contacting AIDS while abroad.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The health promotion unit of my Department, as part of its on-going information campaign on AIDS, distributes two leaflets specifically for people who are travelling abroad. These are “The Sun Seekers Guide” and “Information for People Travelling Abroad”.
The leaflets are circulated to major tour operators for distribution with travel tickets to their customers. During 1989, 100,000 copies of “The Sun Seekers Guide” and 40,000 copies of “Information for People Travelling Abroad” were distributed. The same leaflets will be supplied to travel agents during 1990.
The Department's general leaflet, “AIDS — The Facts”, is also widely available.
The health promotion unit also places advertisements from time to time in magazines and brochures, aimed at those travelling abroad.
203. Mr. G. O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health the projects which were funded by the national lottery in 1989.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): A list of projects which were funded from the health allocation of the national lottery proceeds in 1989 is set out in the tabular statement which will be circulated in the Official Report.
Department of Health.
Organisations which received Lottery funding in 1989
|KARE, County Kildare Association for the Mentally Handicapped||50,000|
|Daughters of Charity, Navan Road — community based services for the mentally handicapped||100,000|
|Irish Association for Speech and Language Impaired — provision of speech therapy services||3,000|
|Multiple Sclerosis Care Foundation||20,000|
|National Council for the Blind — refurbishment of headquarters||50,000|
|Schizophrenia Association of Ireland||25,000|
|AWARE — helping to defeat Depression||1,000|
|County Wicklow Association for Mentally Handicapped Children — development of localised day care centres||50,000|
|Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland — Pilot Home Nursing Scheme||50,000|
|Catholic Marriage Advisory Council||10,000|
|Mead Day Nursery, Donaghmede, Dublin — contribution towards extension to building||20,000|
|St. Michael's House, Willowfield Park, Goatstown, Dublin 14 — provision of short-term care for mentally handicapped||50,000|
|St. Vincent's Hospital, Fairview — day hospital||35,000|
|Eastern Health Board Homestart Project (Child Services)||35,000|
|Resource Centre for Travellers, Eustace Street, Dublin||10,000|
|Alzheimer Society of Ireland — general contribution towards services||10,000|
|Dundalk Centre for Counselling||5,000|
|Improved services for the assessment of alleged cases of child sexual abuse (North-Eastern Health Board)||55,000|
|Cat Scan, Meath Hospital||100,000|
|The Hospice Foundation — development of a hospice service in North Dublin||100,000|
|Federation of Services for Unmarried Parents and their children||5,000|
|Mental Health Association of Ireland||10,000|
|Establishment of a Drug Reporting System, Dublin||30,000|
|HIV Prevention Counselling Training Workshop||2,630|
|Eastern Health Board Outreach Programme|
|Baggot Street Walk-in Centre|
|Trinity Court Methadone Programme||300,000|
|Eastern Health Board Educational Programmes|
|Ballymun Youth Project||5,000|
|Community Action against Drugs||5,000|
|Anna Liffey Project||20,000|
|Development of an AIDS Walk-in Centre, Northside||50,000|
|St. James's Hospital — AIDS Prevention Services||43,000|
|Coombe Hospital — paediatric AIDS Study||20,000|
|Mullyash Community Council — Services for the Elderly||10,000|
|Improved services for the assessment of alleged cases of child sexual abuse (Midland Health Board)||80,000|
|APT, Kilcruttin, Tullamore County Offaly — accommodation for physically disabled||30,000|
|St. Mary's, Delvin, County Westmeath — unit for severely mentally handicapped adults||100,000|
|St. Vincent's Mountmellick, County Laois — services for the elderly||30,000|
|Access for the Disabled, County Monaghan||5,000|
|Brothers of Charity Workshop for Mentally Handicapped, Newcastlewest, County Limerick||10,000|
|Improved services for the assessment of alleged cases of child sexual abuse (Mid-Western Health Board)||80,000|
|Day Centre for the Elderly, Newport, County Tipperary||40,000|
|Mid-Western Hospitals Development Trust — purchase of a mobile cardiac unit||25,000|
|‘RETOS’ Shannon Community Workshop for the Disabled||25,000|
|Day Services for the Elderly, Kilrush, County Clare||45,000|
|Day Services for the Elderly, Ennistymon, County Clare||40,000|
|Accommodation for homeless and elderly, County Monaghan||15,000|
|Monaghan Branch — Parents and Friends of the Mentally Handicapped — purchase of a hostel||50,000|
|Purchase of equipment, Psychiatric Day Centre, Carrickmacross, County Monaghan||1,500|
|Dundalk Society for Old and Underprivileged||1,500|
|Improved services for the assessment of alleged cases of child sexual abuse (North-Western Health Board)||80,000|
|Family Resource Centre, Lifford, County Donegal — employment of staff to develop centre||20,000|
|South Donegal Community Playgroups||10,000|
|Development of Ophthalmic Services, Sligo General Hospital||30,000|
|Graignamanagh Welfare home for the Elderly||30,000|
|Aiseiri, Cahir, County Tipperary — centre for treatment of alcoholism||40,000|
|Improved Assessment Services for alleged cases of child abuse (South-Eastern Health Board)||80,000|
|Waterford Association for the Mentally Handicapped — replacement of workshop for the mentally handicapped at Spring Garden, Waterford||50,000|
|County Wexford Community Workshop, Bellefield, Enniscorthy||30,000|
|Research study on psychological aspects of childbirth, St. Joseph's, Clonmel||6,000|
|Kilkenny Association for Severely Mentally Handicapped Adults||45,000|
|St. Canice's Parish Homes for the Elderly||50,000|
|Drogheda Community Services Trust||5,000|
|Ardee and District Mental Handicap Association||6,000|
|Achill Day Care Centre||40,000|
|Order of Malta, Achill — purchase of an ambulance||10,000|
|Ballina Invalid Residential Care Group Limited||10,000|
|Improved Assessment Services for alleged cases of child abuse (Western Health Board)||55,000|
|Lisnamult Residents and Tenants Association — community centre||4,000|
|Galway Rape Crisis Centre||3,000|
|Crossmolina Social Services Committee — provision of “Meals on Wheels”||5,000|
|Brothers of Charity, County Galway — community based accommodation for the mentally handicapped||50,000|
|Mini-bus/Ambulance for St. John's Rest and Care Centre and St. Joseph's Hostel, Knock||15,000|
|Improved Assessment Services for alleged cases of child abuse (Southern Health Board)||70,000|
|Kerry Parents and Friends of the Mentally Handicapped — capital contribution to development of services in Killarney||50,000|
|Before five Nursery, Gurranbraher, Cork — contribution towards building programme||10,000|
|Roscarberry Social Services Committee — contribution towards centre||10,000|
|Fermoy Community Resource Centre — grant towards restoration work at resource centre||20,000|
|Charleville Care Project Limited — grant towards cost of furnishing and equipping the central unit of the project||10,000|
|Cara House Project, Cork||50,000|
|St. Patrick's, Upton, Cork — community based services for the mentally handicapped||100,000|
|Meath Sheltered Workshop for the Handicapped||15,000|
|Hospital Building Programme (Nationwide)||2,000,000|
|Irish Fight for Sight Campaign||10,000|
|Consumers' Association of Ireland||3,000|
|National Social Services Board and National Council for the Aged||725,000|
|Haemophiliac Trust Fund||1,000,000|
|Measles, Mumps and Rubella Vaccination Programme — Promotion Campaign||138,517|
|The AIDS Fund||250,000|
|Refurbishment of centre, Cavan Town||5,000|
|Clinical Genetics Training Programme||10,000|
|National Day on Ageing||50,000|
|Cystic Fibrosis Association of Ireland — physiotherapy services||14,000|
|Order of Malta, St. John's House, Clyde Road, Dublin 4 — refurbishment of four ambulances||25,000|
|Catholic Communications Institute of Ireland Inc. — production of a video designed|
|to equip young people with the awareness and skills needed to deal with alcohol||25,000|
204. Mr. M. Kitt asked the Minister for Health, in relation to the provision of a new home for the aged in Ballinasloe, County Galway, when the site was purchased by the Western Health Board; when the preliminary documentation for this project was submitted to his Department; and if clearance and capital funding will be given for the home this year.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The site for this home was purchased from Ballinasloe Urban District Council by the Western Health Board and the transaction was completed on 26 June 1981. The preliminary documentation was submitted to my Department on 12 February 1980.
The funding for this project is being considered in the overall context of the provision of services for the elderly and the availability of capital moneys for the many competing demands within the Western Health Board's area and in the totality of the high investment in overall health services in the Ballinasloe area.
205. Mrs. T. Ahearn and Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Health if he will provide more places in the Nagle Centre for Adult Mentally Handicapped in Cashel, County Tipperary.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): I made additional funds available this year for this centre. The centre is operating at full capacity and at present there is no waiting list for admission.
206. Mrs. T. Ahern and Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Health if a psychological service will be provided for the Day Care Centre for the Severely Handicapped in Cashel, County Tipperary.
Minister for Health (Dr. O'Hanlon): The deployment of available staff in the South Eastern Health Board for this purpose is a matter for decision by the board  having regard to the competing requirements of other services. All health boards have been requested to prepare multi-annual plans for the future development of mental handicap services and any additional provision for the Cashel Day Care Centre should be considered in this context.
208. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for Education when she proposes to approve the extension to Moynalvey national school, County Meath, to allow it to go to tender.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Tender documents for a permanent extension to Moynalvey national school, County Meath, are being prepared at present and these will be completed at the earliest possible date. The question of allowing the project to proceed to invitation of tenders will then arise for consideration and a decision will be conveyed to the school authorities as soon as possible after that.
209. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Education if she will allocate a grant to provide permanent accommodation for a company (details supplied) in County Kerry.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): In 1989 the Government decided to amalgamate the lottery funded capital grants scheme and the amenity grants scheme operated by the Department of the Environment into a single scheme. Under the new arrangements, the Minister for the Environment will allocate grants to projects recommended by local authorities who will also be responsible for processing the applications.
As no funds are available to my Department from which consideration could be given to grant-aiding this project, the company in question should  apply to their local authority for consideration under the new scheme.
213. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Education if she will consider requests by youth organisations to have access to school transport in holiday and weekend periods.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The operaton of school transport vehicles is in the hands of Bus Éireann as agents of my Department. Taxation and insurance arrangements are such that the vehicles involved may be used only for the conveyance of pupils to and from school. Any extension of the use of the vehicles on the lines envisaged by the Deputy would have major financial implications for these arrangements, not to mention other aspects of the operation such as driver recruitment and conditions, and vehicle maintenance.
214. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Education when sanction will be given to the school authorities in Fethard, County Tipperary, to proceed with the school extension; the amount of extended accommodation approved by her; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): As the Deputy will be aware from the recent meeting I had with the school authorities, I have decided to proceed with this school extension to cater for the amalgamation of both schools in the Fethard centre.
As indicated at the meeting I also intend to visit the centre in the near future regarding the further development of this project.
215. Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Education when the proposed community school in Cashel, County Tipperary, will commence; the reasons for the delay to date; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
264. Mr. J. Bruton and Mrs. T. Ahearn asked the Minister for Education if she will outline the nature of the legal formalities which have to be completed before work can start on the community school in Cashel, County Tipperary; when they will be completed; and if a model contract for the design, finance and construct scheme has yet been finalised.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 215 and 264 together.
A draft form of contract for use in my Department's design, finance and construct pilot scheme has been prepared in consultation with the chief state solicitor and a senior counsel specifically engaged to advise on its composition. The Department are now awaiting final clearance by the chief state solicitor of the contract.
Pending receipt of this clearance I am not in a position to say when the pilot scheme which includes the proposed Cashel community school project, will proceed. However, my Department are meeting the chief state solicitor today in an effort to resolve any remaining difficulties and it is hoped that the necessary legal approval of the document will be forthcoming soon. When the contract has been approved by the chief state solicitor, my Department will proceed with the further arrangements for the pilot scheme, for which the next stage is the invitation of proposals from the selected developers.
216. Mr. Bell asked the Minister for Education if she has any arrangement with CIE whereby 90 children can be carried on a school bus or any other bus service; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The loading capacity of buses operating under the school transport  scheme is determined under the relevant road traffic regulations. Loading of vehicles for school transport is calculated, I understand, on the basis of three school children to every two adult seats.
The school bus fleet consists of vehicles with varying seating capacities and Bus Éireann, who operate the scheme on behalf of my Department, ensure that loadings do not exceed the maximum legal carrying of these vehicles.
While the majority of the large buses in the school fleet have adult seating capacity of 45-55 equating with 67-82 school children, a small number of vehicles operating under the scheme have sufficient capacity to accommodate 90 school children.
217. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for Education the number of remedial teachers employed in the primary schools in the towns of Longford, Ballymahon, Edgeworthstown and Granard, County Longford; and the other locations in County Longford where remedial teachers are employed.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Of the 43 primary schools in County Longford 13 schools have the services of eight remedial teachers.
It would not be appropriate for my Department to divulge information as to the schools in which remedial teachers are employed. The release of such information would be a matter for individual boards of management.
218. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for Education the number of remedial teachers employed in primary schools in the towns of Athlone, Mullingar and Moate, County Westmeath; and the other locations in County Westmeath where remedial teachers are employed.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Of the 75 primary schools in County Westmeath 21 schools have the services of 17 remedial teachers.
 It would not be appropriate for my Department to divulge information as to the schools in which remedial teachers are employed. The release of such information would be a matter for individual boards of management.
219. Mr. T. Kitt asked the Minister for Education if she will provide one school attendance service for the greater Dublin area.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): A proposal to this effect has been made to me and will be examined in my Department.
222. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Education when the specification will be drawn up and tender sought for the building of the all-Irish school in Ashbourne, County Meath.
223. Mr. Dempsey asked the Minister for Education if sanction will be given without delay to have specifications drawn up and tenders sought for the building of Gaelscoil na Cille, Cill Dhéagláin, Contae na Mí.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 222 and 223 together.
The preparation of working drawings for the proposed new national school for Gaelscoil na Cille, Cill Dhéagláin, Ashbourne, County Meath is in hands. It is necessary to appoint a quantity surveyor and a structural engineer to prepare bills of quantities and structural drawings respectively for the project and these appointments will be made at an early date.
The full tender documentation will be completed at the earliest possible date and the question of the invitation of tenders will then arise for consideration. I am not in a position at this stage to say precisely when tenders will be invited for the new school.
225. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for Education if representations have been recently received from St. Aidan's CBS, Dublin 9, regarding the replacement of the prefabricated school buildings with a permanent school buildings; and when a decision will be made in this case.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I have received representations regarding accommodation at St. Aidan's CBS, Whitehall.
A building project for this school is at an early stage of architectural planning. As with all such building projects especially those in urban areas my Department is reviewing the project for this school. Any decision in relation to this building project will be taken by me in the light of my Department's review at the earliest opportunity.
226. Proinsias De Rossa asked the Minister for Education if her attention has been drawn to the extent of cutbacks in public library facilities; to the impact which this is having on children's opportunities for study, particularly in disadvantaged areas; and the representations, if any, she has made to the Minister for the Environment to have free public library services and facilities fully restored and developed.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The provision of public library services is the responsibility of the Minister for the Environment and I do not consider it appropriate that I should comment on this issue. In 1989 my Department made available an additional sum of £1,096,000 from national lottery sources under the national school library scheme, to enable the stocks of books used for the scheme to be replenished and for an 80 per cent increase in the rate of the per capita grant payable under the scheme.
227. Mr. Bradford and Mr. Crowley asked the Minister for Education if, in view of the deteriorating condition of the Patrician Academy, Mallow, County Cork and the resulting anxiety being felt by pupils, teachers and parents, she will allow the proposed extension to go to tender at an early date.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): In common with all school building projects in planning, the project for the Patrician Academy is currently being reviewed in the context of pupil enrolments for both the short and long-term. As soon as this review is completed a decision will be taken as to the best course of action for the proposed extension.
I am, of course, aware of the concern of all the local Deputies regarding this project.
228. Mr. Bradford asked the Minister for Education when she will issue copies of P60s in respect of the years (a) 1987-88 and (b) 1988-89 to a person (details supplied) in County Cork who has requested this information on a number of occasions.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I am glad to inform the Deputy that copies of the P60s for the relevant tax years issued to the teacher referred to on 2 March 1990.
229. Mr. Spring asked the Minister for Education if she recognises the need to facilitate the earlier appointment of administrative principals in schools serving disadvantaged areas by making such appointments following the sixth assistant and 15 pupils; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The pupil/teacher ratio in national schools is governed by the agreement between the Government and the INTO in 1988 under the Programme for National Recovery at this time to amend the arrangements for appointment of administration principals as they apply to schools in disadvantaged areas.
231. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Education the cost to the Exchequer of abolishing the income limits on higher education grants, assuming that there is no overall increase in the number of university places.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): It is assumed in the estimate provided below that abolition of income limits for higher education grant purposes would result in the award of full maintenance and fee grants to all candidates who satisfy the attainments criteria. On the basis of the latest available enrolment and student attainment data for the universities and certain other institutions in the HEA sector it is estimated that abolition of income limits would involve additional annual Exchequer expenditure of approximately £50 million in 1990 prices.
232. Mrs. Barnes asked the Minister for Education whether there are conditions in all agreements she has with religious interests who manage or own schools or training colleges which would preclude the State endowment of these interests in the event of their closure; if she is satisfied that the Constitutional prohibition on the endowment of religion is assured; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): As I indicated in my reply to Questions Nos. 324 and 325 of 24 October, 1989, a review of the legal position in relation to the funding of the primary teacher training colleges is being undertaken by my Department at  present, and it would not be appropriate for me to comment further pending the outcome of this review.
The position in relation to national schools is that the Minister for Education is a party to the lease of each school. The schools authorities would not be able to dispose of a national school property without the express consent of the Minister. Such consent would not be forthcoming without agreement on terms for the disposal of the school especially the amount of grant money to be repaid to the Department. This procedure is not seen to be in conflict with the Constitution.
My Department have satisfied themselves that the operation of the scheme for the payment of grants towards the building of recognised secondary schools does not conflict with Article 44 of the Constitution.
The standard lease used in the scheme provides for the repayment of the amount representing the unexpired value of the grant in the event of closure of a secondary school.
233. Mrs. Barnes asked the Minister for Education the way in which children attending schools in receipt of public funding could avoid religious indoctrination if a religious ethos such as she advised in connection with her Department's pilot programme for AIDS instruction is to permeate the curriculum.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): In the case of the pilot project on the use of a set of educational resource materials on AIDS, the advice given by my Department to school management was that the material be used in accordance with the ethos of the school and the wishes of parents.
235. Mr. Deenihan asked the Minister for Education the number of volunteers who were recruited by the Youth Service following the initiative "Take a Leading Role" sponsored by her Department in conjunction with the National Youth Council of Ireland.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Based on the latest information available to my Department, the net increase in the number of voluntary adult youth leaders in the year ending 31 December, 1989 was 4,808. To indicate how much of this increase was specifically due to the “Take a Leading Role” initiative would be speculative, however.
By way of clarification of the role of the National Youth Council of Ireland in the initiative, the “Take a Leading Role” campaign was organised on behalf of my Department by two working groups established by the Minister of State for Youth Affairs (viz. Public Relations Working Group and Interim Training Steering Group) with the co-operation of the National Youth Council, their constituent organisations and other national youth organisations.
237. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for Education the reason misleading information was provided in her replies to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 264 and 265 of 14 November, 1989 regarding the issuing of leaving and intermediate certificates; when it is proposed to issue the certificates; and the steps which are being taken to ensure that no further delay occurs.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I reject the Deputy's allegation that the information I supplied on 14 November was misleading. The information which was given by my Department's examinations branch was provided in good faith and based on the circumstances at the time.
It has not been possible to meet the target date given in that reply for the completion and issue of all outstanding certificates. Since mid-December priority has had to be given to the preparations for the 1990 examinations. However,  work will continue on the preparation of the outstanding certificates as opportunity permits with a view to having them issued to schools at the earliest possible date.
Since my reply of 14 November 1989 a further 60,000 certificates approximately have issued from the Department.
238. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Education when she proposes to reply to representations made to her on 12 October 1989 by a person (details supplied) in County Meath concerning the refund of excess PRSI deducted from her during a period when she was invalidly employed on a temporary whole-time basis with Drogheda Vocational Education Committee, County Louth in light of judicial decisions (details supplied); and when this refund will be paid.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): My Department have been in regular contact with the Town of Drogheda Vocational Education Committee to ascertain if a resolution in this matter has been reached. The position is that the committee are actively pursuing the matter with the Department of Social Welfare and are not in a position to act pending a formal ruling from that Department.
A reply to the representations in question will issue when the matter has been resolved.
239. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Education if she will outline the process for the bringing into being a board of management and of a principal/president for the planned Tallaght Regional Technical College, Dublin 24; if she will give (i) the timetable for this task and (ii) the planned composition of the college board including the interests to be represented and method of nomination; and if she will give an assurance that the local community, educational, trade union and cultural interests will be represented adequately on the board.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The composition and appointment of boards of management of regional technical colleges and the process for the appointment of principals to these colleges are being reviewed at present in the context of proposed legislation on the matter. The arrangements which will apply generally shall also be put in place for Tallaght Regional Technical College. I can assure the Deputy that the composition will as far as is practicable include a broad spectrum of local interest groups.
240. Mr. Aylward asked the Minister for Education if she will sanction the provision of a new national school (details supplied) in County Kilkenny; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I am at present considering the question of a new national school building at the school referred to by the Deputy in the context of the available capital. I will convey a decision to the school authorities at the earliest possible date.
241. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Education if she will name the members of the Local Advisory Body on Secondary Education in the Cork city catchment area.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): In 1969 the then Minister for Education, Pádraig Faulkner, appointed an advisory council to advise him on the provision of post-primary accommodation in the Cork city area. The purpose of the council was to examine and  advise on present and future post-primary accommodation needs in the Cork city area in the context of the then Government's policy in regard to the raising of the school leaving age and the provision of post-primary education for all children.
Members of the advisory body were nominated from time to time by their representative groupings. The last meeting of the body was held on 23 October 1985.
In the circumstances it is not possible to provide an up-to-date list of members as requested by the Deputy.
242. Mrs. Fennell asked the Minister for Education when she intends to introduce legislation to establish the Dublin Institute of Technology on a statutory basis as promised.
244. Mr. Byrne asked the Minister for Education if it is her intention to act on the report of the International Review Body on Technological Education published in 1989; if she will outline her position on the case that the Dublin Institute of Technology be established on a statutory basis; and when legislation will be brought before Dáil Éireann in this regard.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 242 and 244 together.
I am aiming to introduce legislation enabling VEC colleges (including the Dublin Institute of Technology) to expand and enhance the scope of their operations later this year.
With regard to other recommendations of the report of the International Review Body on Technological Education the Deputy will be aware that I acted speedily to bring about University status for the two National Institutes of Higher Education.
243. Mr. G. O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Education the projects which were funded by the national lottery in her Department in 1989.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Expenditure by my Department on activities funded from the national lottery amounted to £22.230 million in 1989 and was distributed as follows between the broad headings under which national lottery funds are allocated:
|Arts and Culture||3.057|
|Youth, Sport and Recreation||17.732|
Expenditure on the different activities within the Youth, Sport and Recreation heading was as follows:
|General Expenses of Youth organisations and other expenses in relation to youth activities.||8.000|
|Grants for the provision of recreational facilities.||1.488|
|General Expenses of Sports Organisations and other expenditure in relation to sports activities.||4.424|
|Grants for the provision of major sports facilities.||1.870|
|Grants to Vocational Education Committees in respect of Youth and Sports activities.||1.700|
|Grants to Royal Zoological Society of Ireland.||0.250|
The amount of time required to provide details of all projects funded through the lottery would be inordinate. I will be glad, however, to provide details of any projects in which the Deputy has a particular interest.
245. Mrs. Taylor-Quinn asked the Minister for Education if she will arrange for the appointment of an extra teacher to a school (details supplied) in County Clare, given the disadvantaged nature of this school.
246. Mr. Carey asked the Minister for Education when she will instruct the board of management of Killaloe boys national school, County Clare, which is in a seriously disadvantaged area, to appoint a third assistant teacher.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I propose to take Questions Nos. 245 and 246 together.
The staffing of national schools for a particular year is determined by the enrolment in the school on 30 September of the previous year. This is in accordance with the agreement between the Government and the INTO under the Programme for National Recovery. The authorised staff for this school for the current school year based on the valid enrolment on 30 September 1988 is a principal plus two assistant teachers. The school also has the services of a shared remedial teacher.
248. Mrs. Barnes asked the Minister for Education if she will lay before Dáil Éireann the drafts of her proposals for education relating to AIDS as originally submitted and as put into operation on a pilot basis; and if, in future, she will consider holding, as a matter of normal procedure, public hearings at which all submissions and observations on educational proposals such as this might take place, including right of access by public representatives and rights of cross-examination by all the participants.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): It has not been the practice to place educational materials which are in the course of development before Dáil Éireann and I do not propose to depart from that practice. The pilot use of the draft educational resource materials on AIDS in 20 post-primary schools was part of the process of development of the materials. As I indicated in my reply on  31 January 1990, the revision of the materials, as a result of the pilot use and the comments received from the various educational bodies consulted, is proceeding and will be completed in the near future. When the revised package is approved by me in consultation with my colleague, the Minister for Health, it will be available generally.
I am satisfied that, in general, educational proposals are subject to widespread consultation and public debate which provide the opportunity for all interested parties to express their views.
249. Mr. Kenneally asked the Minister for Education if she will give a breakdown of the 1989 outturn for sport, recreation and youth from surplus proceeds of the national lottery.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The information sought by the Deputy is as follows:
|Sport — Current||4,424|
|Sport — Capital||1,820|
|VECs (Youth and Sport)||1,700|
|Youth — Current||8,000|
250. Mrs. T. Ahearn and Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Education the reason those children attending the day care centre for severely mentally and physically handicapped children in Cashel, County Tipperary do not qualify for school transport under her Department's scheme.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): As the Deputy will be aware, day care centres are the responsibility of the local health boards. My Department, therefore, have no function in the provision of transport to the centres except where children attending such centres can be facilitated incidentially.
251. Mr. J. Higgins asked the Minister for Education if she will consider restoring the school transport arrangements for persons (details supplied) in County Mayor to Carramore national school, Claremorris, who reside more than three miles from the school.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The number of pupils offering for school transport in connection with Taugheen or Carramore national school, Claremorris, County Mayo, from September 1989 was insufficient, under the terms of the primary school transport scheme, to warrant the maintenance of the service and accordingly it was not open to my Department to continue it.
252. Mr. Cowen asked the Minister for Education if she will review a refusal by her Department to refund a repeat examination fee to a person (details supplied) in County Offaly.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): As the preparations for the 1990 examination are well advanced at this time, applications for a refund of examination fees received after 1 February can only be considered in exceptional circumstances. However, if the person concerned in this case submits documentary evidence to support the reason for the late withdrawal of the application to sit the examination, the question of a refund will be favourably considered.
253. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Education when the information promised in her reply to Parliamentary Question No. 170 of 7 November 1989 will be made available.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Following the Deputy's question on 7 November 1989, my Department requested the information from vocational education committees. All the information was finally received recently and is as follows: (a) The number of vocational schools which provide adult education for more than two nights each week, 71; (b) The number of vocational schools which provide adult education during the day, 40.
254. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Education if she has initiated the study of the real costs of places in various types of second level schools, promised by her in her reply to Parliamentary Question No. 121 of 26 October 1989.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Preparatory work in relation to the initiation of the study in question is at present being carried out in my Department.
255. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Education if the National Council on Curriculum and Assessment has reported to her on discrepancies in the marking of different subjects; and when she first requested this report.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): A committee under the aegis of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment was set up in November 1989 to review the pattern of leaving certificate results on a subject by subject basis with particular reference to the relative percentages by grade by subject and to make recommendations in the matter. I have not yet received the committee's report but my Department are in consultation with the council with a view to having the report as soon as possible.
256. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Education when the working group to review existing mechanisms for university funding was appointed; its terms of reference; and when it is expected to report.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The working group on mechanisms and controls for university funding was established in September 1989. Their terms of reference are to review mechanisms and controls for university funding with a view to formulating proposals for consideration by Government related to: additional measures which may be taken to maximise the intake of students into third-level education within available resources; the creation of “new blood” posts and any required development of infrastructure of equipment and support facilities; what discretion or flexibility may be accorded to college authorities in the use of allocated resources; policies and incentives aimed at encouraging the generation of additional income from sources other than the State; and what consultation with college authorities or flexibility would be appropriate in determining fee levels.
The working group presented an interim report in January 1990.
I expect to receive the group's final report within the next two months.
257. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Education the way in which the relative value of grades obtained in examinations other than the Irish leaving certificate, taken in other European countries, is determined for points purposes to determine admission to third level courses in which there is a limited number of places.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The assessment of the relative value of results of examinations taken in Ireland and in other countries for the purpose of admission to third level  institutions or for entry to particular courses is a matter for the appropriate authorities within the institutions.
258. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Education if she will make arrangements to promote greater mobility in the teaching profession by (a) more generous provisions for early retirement and (b) making provision for principal posts for a fixed term, and the option of renewal or guaranteed reintegration into the normal teaching force of the school.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I have no plans at present to introduce another early retirement scheme for teachers or to make provision for principal teachers to be appointed to their posts with the option of renewal or reintegration as ordinary teachers in the school.
259. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Education the proportion of schools which have, in accordance with Circular 7/88, drawn up a code of discipline; if schools drawing up such codes are advised to furnish them to her Department; if she provides any models or guidelines for schools on the content, enforceability and legal status of such codes; and if she will offer special financial assistance to schools obliged to seek legal advice on the content or enforcement of such a code of discipline.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I have no detailed information on the number of schools which have drawn up a code of discipline as provided for in Circular 7/88. However, I am satisfied that many schools have done so at this stage. Schools are not required to provide my Department with a copy of their disciplinary code.
No models have been provided to schools on the content of their codes of discipline. Circular 7/88 contains a revised text of Rule 130 of the Rules for  National Schools and also deals with the general approach schools should take in drawing up a code of discipline. The circular was prepared having regard to the respective legal position of the various parties involved in school disciplinary matters. In accordance with the commitment contained in Circular 7/88, that circular is at present under review and related school discipline problems raised by the different representative bodies at primary level are being considered in consultation with those bodies.
My Department are not in a position to assist school authorities with legal expenses which they may incur in relation to disciplinary matters in their schools.
260. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Education if she will outline the implications for each category of existing special school and for the teachers and care assistants employed therein, of the policy orientation of her Department in favour of the integration of all categories of handicapped pupils in the mainstream educational system; and if the policy requires additional expenditure.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): Notwithstanding the policy orientation referred to by the Deputy there will always be a need for special schools for certain categories of handicapped pupils. The increasing tendency to cater for individual handicapped pupils and classes of handicapped pupils in ordinary schools where feasible will, over time, apart from demographic, medical and other factors, reduce enrolments in all categories of special schools.
Pending the report of the Primary Education Review Body a detailed plan of affirmative action to promote the policy has not yet been articulated and it is, therefore, not possible at this stage to quantify staffing, financial or other implications.
261. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Education if she proposes to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Spectator Violence at Sports Events by means of legislation or by administrative procedures.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): The procedures which are in train for the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Spectator Violence and Misbehaviour at Sports Events include the determining of legal implications, whether of a legislative or administrative nature.
262. Mrs. T. Ahearn and Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Education the present position in regard to the acquisition of land for the proposed new community college in Cahir, County Tipperary; and when work will commence in this case.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): My Department have had no written communication from the County Tipperary VEC (SR) regarding the acquisition of a site for the proposed community college. However, I understand that the County Tipperary VEC (SR) recently passed a resolution to acquire a certain site, subject to my Department's approval. As soon as written details of this resolution are submitted, the matter will be considered by my Department. As this project is only at the initial stage of planning it is not possible at this time to indicate when construction work will commence.
263. Mrs. T. Ahearn and Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Education if she will provide a sixth (transition) year in St. Anne's Secondary School, Tipperary town.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I am pleased to inform the Deputy that the school has been  approved for a vocational preparation and training course in the current school year.
265. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Education if she has received the report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Third Level Education; and if so, the date on which the report was received.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): I have not yet received the report of this committee.
266. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Minister for Education the reason vocational education committees are not currently co-operating in signing deeds of trust for community schools.
Minister for Education (Mrs. O'Rourke): In January 1985 the Irish Vocational Education Association adopted the following resolution:—
That the IVEA reaffirms its commitment to local democratic education structures and hereby recommends to all Committees that they do not participate in the establishment of any school other than VEC schools or in the management of existing schools where Deeds of Trust have not been signed pending the satisfactory resolution of decentralised local administrative structures for education in accordance with the agreed programme for government.
Arising from this policy decision a number of VECs have refused to complete the signing of deeds of trust already drafted and other VECs have indicated their intention not to co-operate in the signing of further deeds of trust.
268. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport the total number of projects in the south-west region for which Structural Fund applications have been made; the names of those projects; the total capital cost of these projects; the number which have been approved; the number rejected; and the number still under consideration.
Minister for Tourism and Transport (Mr. S. Brennan): EC funding for tourism and transport infrastructure will be determined by specific criteria and measures agreed with the European Commission and included in the operational programmes for tourism and for roads and other transport infrastructure.
In so far as tourism projects are concerned, I have already outlined in some detail the position regarding the implementation of the operational programme for tourism in relation to both public and private projects in my reply of 30 January 1990. As stated, day to day administration, including evaluation and selection of applications, is a matter for the administering agencies, i.e. Office of Public Works in relation to State expenditure and Bord Fáilte and SFADCo in relation to all other projects.
In so far as transport infrastructure is concerned, negotiations are still taking place with the European Commission on the operational programme for roads and other transport infrastructure. When these are finalised, the programme will be laid before the House and published.
269. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport the reason he did not make an application for EC funds to upgrade the Cork-Youghal rail link.
Minister for Tourism and Transport (Mr. S. Brennan): Iarnród Éireann do not have any proposals to re-open the Cork-Youghal rail link and accordingly the question of EC aid does not arise.
270. Mr. Boylan asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if his attention has been drawn to the decline in tourism in the Border regions; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Minister for Tourism and Transport (Mr. S. Brennan): Overseas visitor numbers to counties in the Border region have been growing since 1987 and preliminary Bord Fáilte estimates for 1989 show that visitors to the north west and midland regions, which encompass all the Border counties with the exception of County Louth, increased by over 20 per cent on the previous year's figures.
271. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Tourism and Transport if any request has been received from Bus Éireann for additional funds to allow the company to accelerate its bus replacement programme in view of the deteriorating conditions of much of the bus fleet; if any application has been received for funds in order to purchase mini buses for use on the internal bus system in Cork city; and if he will provide Government funds if a submission is made.
Minister for Tourism and Transport (Mr. S. Brennan): It is not policy to provide capital grants to Bus Éireann in respect of the acquisition of buses. The company is required to finance such purchases from its own resources.
In accordance with its bus replacement programme Bus Éireann submitted proposals to my Department in 1989 for the purchase of 20 expressway coaches. These proposals were approved within the framework of the company's non-voted capital allocation. I understand that the coaches will be delivered in 1990.
The company does not have any minibuses in its fleet and does not have any plans to acquire such buses.