Tuesday, 1 May 1990
Dáil Éireann Debate
(2) Items 15 and 16 shall be brought to a conclusion, if not previously concluded, at 10.30 p.m. by one question and the Minister for Finance shall be called on not later than 10 p.m. to conclude the debate.
Mr. Dukes: May I ask the Taoiseach if he would reconsider the Government's position and make some time available in the House to have a debate on the current round of talks under the GATT? I suggest, Sir, that the Taoiseach might come to the conclusion that a number of issues will be of long-term importance to our relationship with the rest of the world and it might be useful for this House to debate those issues before these talks come to a conclusion.
The Taoiseach: I do not disagree with the Deputy about the importance of the GATT talks but I am just wondering what would be the most appropriate way to bring the matter before the House. I suppose they could have been discussed on the Second Stage of the Finance Bill but that is finishing today. I do not know whether they would be in order under a  particular section of the Finance Bill but I will reflect on the matter.
Mr. Dukes: I recognise that the Taoiseach has an open mind on the issue at this stage but I do not think the Finance Bill would be an entirely appropriate framework for discussing this matter because it covers a wide range of issues. Perhaps the Taoiseach would consider it on the basis that the Government might prepare an outline for this House on what stage the talks have reached now. We could have a useful debate on the basis of the current state of play and get some indication of where the negotiations seem to be heading. That might be a useful job for this House to do.
The Taoiseach: The Deputy will appreciate that it is a difficult situation because it is ongoing and bargaining positions have been taken up at present by all the parties, the Community, the US, Japan and so on. If we were to debate the matter now we might be very much discussing it in the dark, as it were.
Mr. Dukes: It would be better for us to discuss it in the dark than not to discuss it at all. I think the Taoiseach will agree with me that there are a number of people in this House who are not too bad at negotiating and bargaining from time to time. It would be useful for this House, which is going to have to live with the consequences of these negotiations, to have some input into them at this stage.
Mr. Spring: In view of the contradictory statements made by the Ministers for Communications and Industry and Commerce in relation to the proposed sale of Cablelink to Telecom, may  I ask whether the Taoiseach would clarify the position? Will he state whether the Government have taken a decision in this matter or whether their decisions will now be subject to a veto by the Minister for Communications?
Proinsias De Rossa: The Taoiseach and the House will be aware it has been announced that Nelson Mandela will be visiting this country early in July, and that there was a proposal by Deputy Spring on a previous occasion that the Joint Houses of the Oireachtas should welcome him here to address them. Would the Taoiseach consider that proposal on this occasion? I think he indicated he was favourably disposed to it the last time it was raised.
The Taoiseach: Yes, I am at present considering the appropriate form the reception of Nelson Mandela should take. Of course he will be receiving the freedom of the city; what other availability there will be in his programme we are looking into at present.
Mr. J. O'Keeffe: Would the Taoiseach without further delay confirm that the necessary steps will be taken to set up an Oireachtas Joint Committee on Crime? I have raised this issue with him on a number of occasions in the past when he indicated he was positively inclined to the establishment of such a committee but yet nothing has happened.
The Taoiseach: In view of the fact that the whole concept of a committee on crime, lawlessness and vandalism is my own, I am happy to assure the Deputy that it will certainly be established in this session.
Mr. Dukes: Does the Taoiseach want to have a row on crime, lawlessness and vandalism; he can have one if he wants; it presents no problem at all. I am glad to note that he has finally come to a conclusion on this committee. Now that he has got into the habit, perhaps he might come to a conclusion about the foreign affairs committee he has been considering for the past three years.
Mr. Nealon: In view of the fact that you were unable to accept my Private Notice Question, Sir, I should like to raise on the Adjournment the reprimanding of Army officers who are drafting a constitution for an officers' representative body at the request of the Minister for Defence.
Mr. McCartan: May I join with Deputy Nealon in this regard — I too sought to raise this matter by way of Private Notice Question — and ask whether there would be agreement to share the time allocated to discuss this very important matter, to ensure that the Minister for Defence will get back on the rails——
Mr. Byrne: I should like to raise on the Adjournment the feeling of abandonment felt by inner city communities living in constant fear of crime in parts of the south inner city area, and to ask the Minister for Justice what plans he has to reverse these crime trends and policing practices particularly in Dublin inner city areas.
Mr. Ryan: With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I too should like to raise on the Adjournment the issue of the disciplining of Army officers. I, too, had submitted a Private Notice Question and know I have the unanimous support  of this side of the House to have a debate on the matter this evening.
Mr. R. Bruton: With your permission, Sir, I might raise on the Adjournment the failure to develop community radio in Ireland, particularly in north-east Dublin, despite Government assurances when this legislation was being passed by the House, that community radio would be developed in tandem with commercial radio.
Mr. Garland: With your permission, Sir, I should like to raise on the Adjournment the failure on the part of the Department of the Marine to deal adequately with reasonable requests for information about fin fish farming licences sought by the north-west Connemara Fish Farm Watch Group.
Mrs. Owen: Would the Taoiseach say whether there has been any attention given to the preparation of the special legislation required to update the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1986, which has been needed for the past three years and promised in reply to a parliamentary question I tabled on 30 January last? Such legislation would allow approximately 2,000 or 3,000 people who have applied for Irish citizenship have their citizenship registered.  The House will be aware that in 1987 the then Attorney General required an amendment of the existing legislation. In view of the feeling prevalent about South Africa and so on — since there are approximately 2,000 applications for Irish citizenship from South Africa outstanding — perhaps the Taoiseach would investigate the matter.
Mr. Browne: (Carlow-Kilkenny): With your permission, Sir, I should like to raise on the Adjournment the switching of the bus schedule from Hacketstown to Dublin to Friday thus depriving old age pensioners eligible for free travel of their right to do so because that is the only day on which they cannot use it.
Mr. Yates: In the last two sessions of the Dáil the Taoiseach gave me solemn assurances that we would be taking the amending legislation vis-à-vis the Clinical Trials Act. We have not seen this amending legislation introduced to date. Would the Taoiseach now say when it will be introduced? Will he give the House a commitment that it will be completed in this session?
Mrs. Fennell: In view of the fact that the Minister for Justice is in breach of the Prisons Act, 1925, with regard to the appointment of visiting committees to prisons, I should like to raise this matter  on the Adjournment, with your permission, Sir.
Mr. Quinn: Would the Taoiseach say when the Government propose bringing forward the motion which will confirm the order of the Government to postpone the local government elections from this year to June 1991?
Mr. Rabbitte: With your permission, Sir, may I raise on the Adjournment the implications — on the basis of information available to me — of the Taoiseach's intervention, at the behest of the chairman of Telecom Éireann, to overrule the decision of the Minister for Communications to dispose of Cablelink to Pac-Tel and the clear intention to privatise the combined Telecom-Cablelink operation?
Mr. Boylan: I seek clarification on a  very important issue. In this House on Thursday last the Tánaiste clearly indicated that the application for the extension of the severely handicapped areas had been lodged in Brussels. Over the weekend a senior official of the Department of Agriculture and Food told me categorically that no application, as such, had been lodged in Brussels. Perhaps the Minister for Agriculture and Food would clarify this very important issue.
Mr. Boylan: Was there an application lodged in Brussels? I am asking the Minister if the relevant application was lodged in Brussels. I think we can take it from the Minister's silence that the House was misled.
Mr. Hogan: With your permission, Sir, I should like to raise on the Adjournment with the Minister for Industry and Commerce the difficulties being experienced by consumers in getting insurance cover at a reasonable cost.
Mr. Ferris: A Cheann Comhairle, may I seek your permission to raise on the Adjournment the question of the Tipperary Rural and Business Development Institute proposals which have been lodged with the Minister for Education for some time past? I should like to have  information on the reason for the delay in their approval.
Mr. Taylor: I seek leave to raise on the Adjournment the laying off of 45 temporary staff at FÁS at the end of April at various centres throughout the country resulting in 500 people on training courses having their courses suspended.
Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Would the Taoiseach outline what is the position of anglers who go out to fish with the mayfly today given that there is no amending legislation before the House? Will they be fishing legally or illegally?
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