Marine Institute Bill, 1989 [ Seanad ]: Committee Stage.

Wednesday, 14 November 1990

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 402 No. 6

First Page Previous Page Page of 50 Next Page Last Page


Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I move amendment No. 1:

[1364] In page 3, line 21, in the definition of “marine”, after “sea” to insert“, sea-floor”.

This is a definition amendment dealing with the term “marine”. In the Bill as passed by the Seanad, “marine” was defined as, “of, in, near, concerned with or belonging to the sea and tidal waters, inhabiting, found or got from the sea or from non-tidal waters”. There is a need in this Bill to define “marine” and to define the seas in a way which recognises the fact that the body of water to which we normally refer as the sea is part of the total system which incorporates not just the waters but the sea bed and the air as well. I propose to extend the definition of “marine” to include the sea floor, and there are a number of immediate practical reasons that definition should apply.

First, we already have a number of examples where, as the land based resources are expiring, exploration is taking place on the resources of the sea floor. A typical example of this would be the extent of oil exploration which is taking place. It seems that an institute which is being established for marine research should have as its brief the research into areas related to the sea floor. We have had a number of examples of dumping. Much concern has been expressed about the possibility, for example, that nuclear wastes may be embedded in the sea floor and the implication that has for us. We know the big military blocs have a considerable interest in the sea floor and that they are doing quite an amount of research on it. We know also that we need to know what is taking place on the sea floor. For example, the mid-Atlantic ridge, which would have some relevance for us, is fairly volcanic and I think it would be appropriate that we know what is happening there.

The amendment is to extend the definition of “marine”. I do not imagine it should be a very controversial proposal to include the sea floor as well as the body of water we normally refer to as the sea.

[1365]Minister of State at the Department of the Marine (Mr. Noonan,: Information on Michael J. Noonan  Zoom on Michael J. Noonan  Limerick West): I am opposed to this amendment and I will outline my reasons. In my view “marine” is defined in the Bill to mean “of, in, near, concerned with or belonging to the sea and tidal waters, inhabiting, found or got from the sea or from non-tidal waters”.

Since I feel the definition is sufficiently comprehensive to allow the institute, when established, to address all relevant issues in a very meaningful way, I cannot see my way to accept this amendment, because “marine” is already covered in that part of the section. If I were to accept that amendment it would be stating what is already included in the Bill. For that reason, in my view, there is no need to include the amendment set out by Deputy Gilmore. I can accept what Deputy Gilmore is stating, but what he requires is already comprehensively covered and dealt with.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I have two observations. First, I do not propose to take up the time of the House pressing something if the Minister states that the sea floor is already incorporated in the definition provided in the Bill, but this is important legislation. It is not likely to set the passions of the nation on fire, and I hope the Minister's straight off rejection of the very first non-contentious amendment on this Bill is not going to set the tone for the debate or that we are going to have amendments rejected purely for the sake of rejecting them. We could make the same argument as the Minister for including the amendment in the Bill. If it is not included in the definition already there, why not have it expressly stated? However, it is not something I want to press. I understand the Minister has said that the sea floor is already incorporated in the definition of “marine” in the Bill.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Information on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  Zoom on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  I move amendment No. 2:

In page 3, line 25, in the definition of “research and development” after [1366]“social sciences,” to insert “hydrography and oceanography,”.

I would like this section to be elaborated by extending the definition to include research and development and social sciences and to include also hydrography and oceanography. Both of these are extremely important. The research and development aspect of it is highly important so it is necessary that this insertion be made at this stage. Research in relation to this entire area is vital for the co-ordinated future of the marine industry, and the marine institute should have the power to involve itself in that type of work. Hydrography and oceanography are not included. We have very valuable assets around our coast and we know very little about the larger ocean around our coast and are relying on information from other countries about what is out there. That is particularly unsatisfactory when there is anything of value out there, particularly minerals. The institute can do fine work in this area. It is important that that is specified in this section of the Bill.

Mr. Noonan: Information on Michael J. Noonan  Zoom on Michael J. Noonan  (Limerick West): If we were to outline every field in detail it would not fit in this Bill without resulting in many more pages. In defining areas of development and research one can only outline in broad terms. In the Bill “research and development” includes research in all pure and applied sciences, including economics and social sciences, investigations, tests, experiments, analysis and other studies and the application of science and technology to innovation and development. What is outlined there is broad enough to cover the specific areas which the Deputy has in mind. Its interpretation of “research and development” is sufficiently broad to take in the areas outlined by her. The disciplines in question will be addressed by the institute under the Bill as drafted. I want to assure the Deputy very forcibly that the disciplines she has in mind will certainly be tackled. For that reason I am satisfied that what is in the amendment is already covered.

[1367]Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Information on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  Zoom on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  Perhaps the Minister would consider including those two words on Report Stage.

Mr. Noonan: Information on Michael J. Noonan  Zoom on Michael J. Noonan  (Limerick West): As requested by the Deputy, I will have it examined.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Section I agreed to.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  The amendment that Deputy Gerry O'Sullivan tabled was ruled out of order, but the Deputy may speak on the section.

Amendment No. 3 not moved.

Question proposed: “That section 2 stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. G. O'Sullivan: Information on Gerry O'Sullivan  Zoom on Gerry O'Sullivan  I felt that there was an urgent need to get this institute up and running as soon as possible and that was my purpose in putting down the amendment; it was not that I wanted to incur an extra charge of revenue. The Minister also indicated in the Seanad and here that there was a sense of urgency on the part of the Government, too.

Question put and agreed to.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Now we come to amendment No. 4 in the name of Deputy Taylor-Quinn. Amendment No. 29 is an alternative to No. 4 and I suggest therefore that we discuss amendments Nos. 4 and 29 together. There will be separate decisions, of course, if required.

Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Information on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  Zoom on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  I move amendment No. 4:

In page 3, subsection (1), line 33, after “Act” to insert “and the headquarters of the Institute shall be established in Galway”.

[1368] This is an extremely important amendment. Since we initially discussed this Bill in the House on Second Stage an important development has taken place in that Dr. Tony Ryan set up the Martin Ryan University Foundation and allocated over £5 million for the development of a marine institute in Galway University. This is a major development. It is very important that the Department of the Marine and all the bodies involved in this area should get together in one place. We now have a major development taking place in Galway University, possibly more ambitious than was considered initially. I would like to take this opportunity of complimenting Dr. Tony Ryan on his initiative in relation to this matter and also Dr. Colm Ó hEocha of UCG who has done everything to further this development both with the sponsor concerned and the European Community. This is very significant and I believe this is an opportune time for the Minister and for this House to recognise the project that is taking place there.

There is an opportunity for the Minister, along with University College Galway, to locate the Marine Institute in Galway. There would be no difficulty in locating it in this new building in University College Galway. It is particularly significant, seeing that in University College Galway there is an extensive group of people — about 38 people in all, I gather — from many faculties working in marine-related areas. This will draw together all of these people in the one base in Galway. This is a real opportunity and it is vital that we consider this matter seriously in this House and not just dismiss it or treat it in a casual, bureaucratic way that there is a tendency to do within the House. There is a real opportunity for the Minister to react in a positive way and for the Department, the university and private interests to get together and do a very good job in relation to marine research and to putting together a very solid marine institute. I strongly support the idea of basing the institute in Galway.

When I spoke on Second Stage I understood there would be some developments but I never believed they would be quite [1369] as ambitious or as significant as what will take place. This is a major step forward for all marine based industry in Ireland and it is an opportunity for us in this House to make a positive response. I commend this amendment to the House and I hope the Minister will accept it.

Mr. G. O'Sullivan: Information on Gerry O'Sullivan  Zoom on Gerry O'Sullivan  I would ask Deputy Taylor-Quinn to agree to my amendment for the simple reason that I do not want to get into a Galway versus Cork situation as it would be wrong to do so. Deputy Taylor-Quinn has made a very good case for Galway but I could make an equally good case for Cork, and I am sure Deputy Eamon Gilmore could do the same for Dún Laoghaire.

Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Information on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  Zoom on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  I know the Deputy would also make a case for Galway, being a former UCG man.

Mr. G. O'Sullivan: Information on Gerry O'Sullivan  Zoom on Gerry O'Sullivan  My amendment is a much broader one. It ties in with the Government's decentralisation programme and I am sure the Minister will give recognition to that fact. There is a case to be made for taking a department like the Marine Institute out of the capital, Dublin. A very important feature of my amendment is that it specifically refers to a maritime county. There is a lot of sense in that type of approach. I have no doubt that many counties and cities will be promoting their area as the one for that type of development but I would ask that the matter be looked at in a broader sense.

As I said, UCC have done tremendous work in maritime development. Since Cork has a major port and everything going for it, it would probably be the ideal place to locate this institute. This is a major development in Government policy and we should look at it in the broader sense. While we accept that it would be more suited to some areas than to others, the Minister should consider my amendment. I would also ask Deputy Taylor-Quinn to accept the amendment because it does not take from her case. I am making my case for Cork and I have no doubt Deputy Gilmore will do the same for his area. I hope the Minister [1370] will recognise that the institute should be located outside Dublin.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I am not sure if the Bill is the place to decide the location of the headquarters of the Marine Institute but no doubt the debate on its location will make interesting local reading. First we have to look at what exactly is being proposed here. To listen to Deputy Taylor-Quinn and Deputy O'Sullivan you would think that the Marine Institute Bill was going to create an enormous centre of marine research but unfortunately that is far from the case.

As I said on Second Stage, this Bill proposes to establish an administrative umbrella for existing research activity. The Minister, on Second Stage, said the intention is that the Marine Institute, so far as it would carry out research, would be a multi-campus institution with its many faceted areas of research taking place in different locations — in Carna, Abbotstown or wherever. All we are talking about here is an administrative office. To judge from the functions the Government see the Marine Institute having, I do not imagine it will be a very big or very well populated office. I do not see it as the kind of prize that is normally sought after by Deputies for their respective constituencies.

The second point I would like to make is that there is a necessity for the Marine Institute to have a degree of independence, not just from the Department of the Marine and the Government but also from the universities or the agencies and bodies which will be part of the institute or which will come under its aegis one way or other. I see a great danger that the Marine Institute will be overly associated with one university, research body or whatever, and that might have the effect of undermining its independence.

The third issue I want to deal with is decentralisation. When decentralisation is mentioned people usually mean dispatching a number of civil servants to offices outside Dublin without any reference to the decentralisation of functions. Later we will be debating the fact [1371] that the Department of the Marine intend to hold onto the purse strings, to all the meaningful functions and all the policy areas in relation to marine research. I would much prefer if the functions relating to marine research and development were devolved to the Marine Institute. That, in my view, is real decentralisation rather than dispatching a number of public servants to Galway, Cork or wherever.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  I hesitate to interrupt the Deputy but I respectfully suggest that the matters to which he refers now are dealt with rather extensively in section 4. That section deals with the general functions of the institute and those remarks might be left until we come to that section. This section is a short one dealing with the establishment of the institute as such, but the functions are dealt with extensively in section 4.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I appreciate the distinction but I am specifically addressing Deputy O'Sullivan's amendment in which he is seeking that the offices be located outside Dublin. I am questioning the logic behind the general desire to locate offices outside Dublin because I do not think there is a case for it. Indeed from a constituency point of view I had a certain attraction to the formula proposed by Deputy O'Sullivan, that the offices be located outside Dublin because I thought Dún Laoghaire would be considered to be outside Dublin until I saw that the reference is to the County of Dublin.

I am sure the location of the headquarters of the Marine Institute, if not already occupying the mind of the Minister, will be doing so in the not too distant future. I would like to make the case for the headquarters to be situated in Dún Laoghaire. There is a number of very strong reasons for that. First, the Maritime Museum, and the headquarters of the existing Maritime Institute, are already located there. BIM are also located there and the harbour of Dún Laoghaire is owned by the Department [1372] of the Marine. There is an international dimension to be considered because it is quite clear from the Bill that it is intended the Marine Institute will have an international dimension, particularly in relation to European funding and relationships with European research. Dún Laoghaire is ideally placed to fulfil those needs. It is something the Minister will have to consider. I do not support the amendments tabled by Deputies Taylor-Quinn and Gerry O'Sullivan.

Mr. Garland: Information on Roger T. Garland  Zoom on Roger T. Garland  It was interesting listening to the special pleadings by Deputies Taylor-Quinn and Gilmore to have this institute situated in their constituencies; it says a lot about the way politics work here. The Marine Institute should be set up in the best possible location to give service to the community in general. All things being equal it should be outside Dublin. The purpose behind Deputy O'Sullivan's amendment is good as he is not trying to ingratiate himself with his constituents. He is genuinely trying to put into operation some of the principles all political parties espouse — decentralisation. However, if decentralisation interferes with the efficiency and the proper running of the institute then, unfortunately, it will have to be situated in a major population centre, perhaps Dublin. This is not the time or place to make this decision and, consequently, I do not support either of the amendments.

Mr. Noonan: Information on Michael J. Noonan  Zoom on Michael J. Noonan  (Limerick West): I listened with interest to the points made by Deputies Taylor-Quinn, Gerry O'Sullivan, Gilmore and Garland. I will certainly carefully consider all the points made by them with regard to the location of the headquarters of the institute. However, having said that, the location of the headquarters is not a matter that should be enshrined or specified in legislation and it normally is not.

I also want to make the point that the institute is primarily an institutional arrangement and, as I indicated in the Seanad and in my reply to the Second Stage debate in the Dáil, it is first a means [1373] whereby the existing areas of marine research, which are divided over a number of locations, would be co-ordinated instead of having a bricks and mortar structure. It is a co-ordinating effort in a very meaningful way, which is the purpose of the legislation. It will be a State body with a large measure of Exchequer funding. Its independence has already been referred to by Deputy Gilmore and it must be looked at in that context. There must be accountability to the Minister and the Dáil for the reasons I have just outlined. Indeed, I join Deputy Taylor-Quinn is welcoming the Martin Ryan development in Galway and we look forward to fruitful co-operation between the Marine Institute and the Ryan Institute in Galway when the Marine Institute is established.

The institute is a co-ordinating body to bring together all the different trends in and areas of marine research and development instead of just having a building. As I said, it would be inappropriate to outline in legislation where the headquarters should be. Nevertheless, the points raised by Deputies will be carefully considered when the time comes to make a decision in regard to the headquarters. I assure the House that the best decision will be made and that the best location will be found.

Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Information on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  Zoom on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  I am disappointed at the reaction to my amendment. I compliment Deputy Gerry O'Sullivan for making a strong case for Cork in such a skilful manner. Deputy Gilmore also made an excellent case. He has obviously benefited from his days in UCG and from his trade union negotiation experience. He went into the reasons for there not being a need for a specific place as it was just an administrative umbrella for research and he elaborated on the need for independence of the Department and the other relevant bodies. He also spoke about the decentralisation of functions rather than the decentralisation of people.

Mr. Noonan: Information on Michael J. Noonan  Zoom on Michael J. Noonan  (Limerick West): The Deputy is learning fast.

[1374]Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Information on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  Zoom on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  However, he ended by making a case for Dún Laoghaire and so he contradicted himself as constituency factors came into play. I agree with Deputy Garland's comment that the institute should be put in the best place possible to give service to the nation. He also referred to parochialism in terms of talking about one's own constituency. I should like to remind Deputy Garland that Clare is my constituency — not Galway West — and I am not pushing anything for my constituency. I am putting a case in the best interests of servicing the nation.

Part of the difficulty in relation to marine matters is that there are so many bits and pieces scattered right across the country. That is one of the defects in the industry and part of the reason for it not developing to its full potential or as significantly as it should over the years. It is also part of the reason why, within the European system and within our negotiations in Europe, we are not in a strong position because we have not engaged in as much research as other countries on whom we have relied for information. Within the fishing industry there are so many different types of fishermen and organisations that there is no co-ordination. As a small island we should get our act together, once and for all, and develop proper co-ordination and management, which we have not done to date. There is a real opportunity to do that in conjunction with the development taking place in UCG and it will be unfortunate if we do not do so now.

Developments are taking place in the EC and the fish quotas will be reviewed in 1992. We do not have the back-up, research or support mechanisms as other countries. The result is that we are at a disadvantage. While we remain split and scattered in relation to marine development we will not have a forceful progressive industry. By comparison to the unity in areas like agriculture and the modern technological industries there is division in marine matters. Unity brings strength. We have a real opportunity here to create a unified approach. I do not doubt that the Minister will examine the [1375] position to try to make the best possible decision but I do not believe that the Department will consider this with a view to change. They will not delegate some of their powers thus diminishing their importance. When it comes to brass tacks, in the bureaucracy, individuals will want to maintain their position and standing and they will not confront the bottom line. I am disappointed with the attitude expressed in the House today. I can appreciate some of the views expressed but until we pull together we will not go anywhere in relation to marine matters.

Mr. G. O'Sullivan: Information on Gerry O'Sullivan  Zoom on Gerry O'Sullivan  I do not want the argument to develop into a parochial debate. I accept that the Minister will look at all the aspects of the location of the Marine Institute. This is not just a transfer of civil servants from one location to another. We are talking about the development of a major resource. The Marine Institute will be very important in the future. The marine industry is our last great natural resource and the location of the institute is very important and that is why the amendment is down. I accept that there is a certain amount of political lobbying in relation to locating various Departments. However, my amendment has given recognition to all aspects in relation to the location of the institute. The establishment of this institute is probably one of the major forward steps of the Government in the last ten years in the development of our marine industry. In the light of the guarantee the Minister has given that he will look at all aspects carefully, I accept that the institute will be located in the best available place. I have no doubt that between now and the time the location is announced there will be much political lobbying with regard to the location of this institute.

In answer to Deputy Gilmore, this is not just a transfer of civil servants and an administration block. I feel very strongly on this issue. It has been indicated that a fairly high level of funding will be given to the institute, and given that and the [1376] guarantee given by the Minister, I am sure it will be located in the best possible place. Galway will make a case as will Cork and I will also make a strong case.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  Let me clear up a couple of things, first the question of simply relocating civil servants. I dearly wish this institute to be something a lot more substantial than simply relocating a number of civil servants to Galway, Cork or wherever. Unfortunately, and this will become apparent as we debate the Bill, the institute as it is proposed, will amount to no more than that.

For Deputy Garland's benefit, I make no apology whatever for staking the claim of my own constituency to be the headquarters of the Marine Institute. I am sure many Deputies, as Deputy O'Sullivan has said, will be doing that in the course of the next months. It is part of the process of public representation. I do it in the House, I do it openly and I do not dress it up in a sophisticated formula by way of an amendment to the Bill. Since the criterion that has been advanced by everybody else is the “best location” argument, I contend that my consitituency is the best location.

I will deal with this argument about the “outside Dublin” case that Deputies who have spoken here have advanced. Does this argument stand up? I have, in another amendment which I do not propose to debate now, listed the bodies already engaged in marine research, who will have to be catered for by the Marine Institute. There are 11 such bodies, eight of whom are Dublin based. We are talking about establishing a marine institute which will incorporate these bodies. Deputies have talked about the need for co-ordination, for greater contact and efficiency and so on. Eight of the 11 existing agencies dealing with marine research are based in Dublin. How does one argue then that the location for the headquarters of the co-ordinating body should be removed from Dublin? I accept that some bodies are based in different parts of the country, but it is clear that the majority are Dublin-based. What this comes down to, and it should be called [1377] what it is, is a latent anti-Dublin prejudice and bias, that so often breaks out and is then wrapped up in a cloak of respectability called decentralisation. There is nothing other than that behind it. If one is talking about the best location for the headquarters of the Marine Institute, clearly the best location is in a position where it can co-ordinate effectively and efficiently the bodies that are already doing research.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Seán Treacy  Zoom on Seán Treacy  Is Deputy Taylor-Quinn pressing her amendment?

Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Information on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  Zoom on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  It does not look as if I will win if I do, but I feel strongly about it. There is no such thing as an anti-Dublin bias in relation to this proposal, and Deputy Gilmore knows that. While the Deputy has made a great argument for the Dublin-Dún Laoghaire scenario in relation to the number of agencies based in Dublin, the number does not compare with the number of faculties out of UCG working in the marine-related area. The combination of all of those in UCG would supersede the eight agencies that Deputy Gilmore talked about. I do not accept the Deputy's argument. I am not arguing the case for my constituency; I honestly believe, in relation to marine development, here, that my suggestion is the best possible one. I appreciate that the institute is only the pulse and that other areas will branch out from there and will not necessarily be based there.

It is important that we have one central place well equipped with a modern computer system and technology which can relate important information to other interests right across the country. I believe that University College, Galway, is very important in this respect and that the pulse of the Marine Institute, as proposed in the Bill, would be of tremendous benefit to the marine sector if based in Galway. To do what I suggest will take courage and gumption and will ruffle the system but I ask the Minister to take the bull by the horns and to seriously consider locating the pulse of the Marine Institute in Galway. Great developments could take place and all marine related activities [1378] could have a great future if the institute is based in Galway. I am making a special plea to the Minister to take this matter in hand.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  I move amendment No. 5:

In page 4, between lines 2 and 3, to insert the following subsection:

“(3) The Institute shall incorporate the marine research and technology functions currently undertaken by the following institutions or parts of institutions as appropriate:

(a) The Fisheries Research Centre,

(b) The Salmon Research Trust,

(c) The Central Fisheries Board,

(d) An Bord Iascaigh Mhara,

(e) The Shellfish Laboratory at Carna,

(f) Eolas,

(g) The Marine Research vessel Lough Beltra,

(h) The Marine Ecology section of the Geological Survey Office,

(i) The Hydraulics Research Laboratory at U.C.C.,

(j) The Department of the Environment, and

(k) Údarás na Gaeltachta.”.

With this amendment I hope to flush out whether the Marine Institute is going to be a small administrative office effectively operating as an umbrella over existing research activity and research bodies or a bureaucratic layer inserted between the people doing the research and the Department of the Marine who will control the purse strings. It has to be said that a great deal of marine research is already being carried out and the bodies listed in the amendment are testimony to this.

We should consider where the idea of [1379] a marine institute came from. Proposals were made back in the seventies; for example, the OECD proposed that there should be a marine institute and one surfaced in the 1987 Fianna Fáil election manifesto. The previous Government established a task force under Mr. Manahan to examine and report on the establishment of a marine institute. The Manahan task force involved people already involved in research, a representative cross-section of expert opinion. In their report they made a number of very clear recommendations which, unfortunately, have not been honoured in the Bill before us. One of the specific recommendations made was that the Marine Institute, when established, should incorporate the different bodies already engaged in research and should not simply be a kind of umbrella; in other words, it should incorporate the Fisheries Research Centre, the Central Fisheries Board, UCG and all the other bodies which would continue to work separately but incorporated in a single Marine Institute which would be the marine research and development body in the country.

If the House will bear with me I would like to quote from this report. It states specifically:

The Institute should, as a minimum, incorporate the research and technology functions currently undertaken by the following institutions, or parts of institutions as appropriate.

It goes on to list them, and they are as listed in my amendment. The report goes on to state:

It is inherent in the foregoing that the Institute should assure control of the related staff. Since elements of third level institutions associated with them could not be integrated into the Institute special arrangements will be necessary for the activities of these to be linked into its co-ordination functions. These would include particularly, but not exclusively, such elements as the Shell Fish Laboratory at Carna, the Hydraulics Research [1380] Laboratory at UCC. The Institute should also encompass and integrate other relevant R and D facilities and programmes which will be required both immediately and in the long term, such as a national data centre for all Irish marine data, the Irish involvement in a European centre for marine science and technology, when established, and an Irish centre for coastal zone management. It should be ensured that all new activities and the filling of gap areas fall within the control of the Institute. Failure to so arrange could bring about a return to the fragmentation situation which has so inhibited the development of the marine resources and fisheries areas to date.

The task force quite clearly identified that the fragmentation which currently exists is one of the impediments operating against the co-ordination of research activity and saw as the solution the establishment of a marine institute incorporating these bodies.

Provision is made in the Bill, for example, for the transfer of staff between these bodies and the institute. However, no provision is made in the Bill for the transfer of functions. The purpose of the Bill as it stands is to establish a Marine Institute which will operate at one remove from the people actually carrying out the research, it will not incorporate them, and I fail to see how it will be able to co-ordinate or advance policy unless it incorporates these bodies. I appreciate that when one talks about amalgamation and the incorporation of bodies into a larger institution we are in danger of treading upon sensitivities and it would seem that the Minister is taking the line of least resistance; rather than run the risk of incurring the displeasure of some people in some of these institutions he has taken the line of least resistance and is going to establish a loose body to oversee their work, but far from facilitating them, it may become a bureaucratic impediment to these bodies carrying out their normal work.

It is interesting that the Manahan task [1381] force included many people from these bodies so the idea of incorporating their functions would not be entirely alien to them. It is essential that we decide whether the Marine Institute is going to be a loose administrative body or if it will be, as the task force originally intended, a proper single research and development body for marine activity.

Mr. Noonan: Information on Michael J. Noonan  Zoom on Michael J. Noonan  (Limerick West): I am certainly opposed to this amendment which is inappropriate. Let me outline my reasons. There are sufficient mechanisms available to allow the transfer of staff and functions to the institute and these will be used after the proper consultation processes have been gone through. I am sure Deputy Gilmore knows better than anyone else that proper consultation has to take place. It is not my intention to use a big stick or to force anybody into a situation without proper consultation taking place and proper explanations being outlined. I am sure Deputy Gilmore understands what I am talking about. I would like to remind the Deputy that the Bill is an enabling measure.

In relation to the staffing of the institute the Minister for the Marine is empowered to transfer his own staff to the institute. In relation to staff from other agencies, there will be detailed consultation between my Department, my Minister and other Ministers regarding staff numbers and functions to be transferred, first, to the Department of the Marine after agreement has been reached. I should like to emphasise that no big stick will be used. Consultation will take place and everything will be taken into consideration. Such staff will subsequently be transferred to the institute under the terms of the Bill when enacted but not until there has been due consideration and consultation. That is how the Government have operated successfully. Agreement will be reached by consensus rather than by dictation.

I should like to reject Deputy Gilmore's notion that the institute will be another bureaucratic layer. That will certainly not be the case. The Department of the Marine are not taking the line of [1382] least resistance but are taking the line of reasonable negotiations by bringing everybody together by consensus. This legislation will bring effective management to bear on an area which needs co-ordination because up to now there has been fragmentation. I am satisfied that the Bill as drafted is adequate to meet the needs of the Marine Institute and will enable, after appropriate consultation, the transfer of further staff and functions to the institute. This is the first serious effort to end the fragmentation which we all acknowledge exists.

Regarding the functions of the institute, the Bill outlines in detail what the institute can do. Staff will be transferred as appropriate to the institute and the various functions will be outlined. It is not proper to enshrine that in legislation This is not the Minister taking the line of least resistance. The Deputy should know this, the Bill addresses the serious problem of fragmentation. I appreciate the view expressed by Deputy Taylor-Quinn that it was important when coming up to a review of the Common Fisheries Policy that we should have all the results of all available research. The Bill will enable us get those results.

I should like to reiterate forcibly the importance of the legislation which will give the institute independence. It will be a State body with a large measure of Exchequer funding and under the control of the Minister for the Marine. There has to be accountability. If there was not proper accountability to the Minister, and the Dáil many Deputies would bring this to the Minister's attention. I ask Deputy Gilmore to withdraw his amendment for the reasons I have outlined. There are adequate measures in the Bill to deal with the points he has raised. Agreement will be reached by consensus and there will be consultation with all concerned. The Minister will make the right decision following due consideration and consultation. I can assure Deputy Taylor-Quinn that this matter will be tackled forcibly.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  It is great to hear that [1383] the Government have been converted to the principle of consensus and consultation. It is an awful pity we did not get it before the Broadcasting Bill was passed but, nevertheless, it is great to hear it and I look forward to all Government legislation being based on the principle of consensus and consultation.

It is disingenuous of the Minister to suggest that my amendment is in some way at variance with those principles. Where we are talking about the amalgamation of different bodies and the transfer of functions, clearly the bodies concerned, the trade unions representing staff should be fully consulted before any such steps are taken. Let us look at this area. When FÁS were established the Youth Employment Agency, AnCO and the National Manpower Service, were incorporated. When Teagasc were established ACOT and An Foras Talúntais were incorporated into that body. That is not what is happening here. In this case 11 different bodies — and possibly more — engaged in marine research and development will continue to do their own thing as they have been doing. The extent to which the Marine Institute will have a co-ordinating role over them is very loose. The extent to which the Marine Institute will be able to exercise that role is very doubtful given that the finance and, indeed, most of the powers of the institute will continue to be controlled by the Department of the Marine.

I cannot find in the Bill any organic way in which the Marine Institute can bring about a co-ordinated approach to marine research and development. The Minister made reference to the Bill allowing for the transfer of staff and functions. Yes, the Bill does allow for the transfer of staff and section 8 deals with that. Also, section 20 deals with the transfer of property. I have gone through the Bill a few times and I have not found anything in it which allows for the transfer of functions but, perhaps, I have missed it. I would like to invite the Minister to tell me where in the Bill there is an allowance for the transfer of functions from existing agencies to the new Marine Institute. If [1384] the Minister can tell me the provision in the Bill under which it will be possible to transfer functions perhaps I will give some reconsideration to the amendment I have put down. I certainly was not able to find any provision in the Bill under which the transfer of functions would be allowed and where it was intended that the functions of particular agencies would be transferred to the Marine Institute.

Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Information on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  Zoom on Madeleine Taylor-Quinn  This is a good amendment. One of the criticisms I made of the Bill on Second Stage was that it did not have teeth and was very much enabling legislation. In fact, the Minister's attitude to this amendment confirms that belief even further. If the institute cannot bring together all the bodies listed here, I wonder what will be the purpose of putting this Bill through the House. All the bodies listed, bar one, are State and semi-State operations. The Minister may intend having consensus and consultation on the matter so that it can be resolved but, as we know from experience, the level of consensus and consultation needed to achieve the proposal in this amendment would not be achieved for another 50 years.

Deputy Gilmore and I are very much on the same wavelength in regard to this issue. In the previous amendment I was concentrating very much on locating everything in one centre in Galway and having that as the nucleus and power base from which everything would emanate. But we are not talking now about physical location. I believe that unless the institute have the power and the co-ordinating ability to bring all these bodies under their ambit and jurisdiction they will not serve any purpose and we will be back to the position where everything will be scattered all over the place, nobody will be accountable to anybody else and there will be no obligation or onus on them to give information to a central agency, which should be the institute.

Some very fine work is being done by the agencies and bodies listed in this amendment and, as I stated on the previous amendment, it is important that they be brought together. However, it [1385] will take something above the ordinary in terms of approach, attitude and effort on the part of the Minister to do this. I am not satisfied, given the Minister's reply to this amendment, that he has the will or the strength of purpose to deal with this issue head on. This is unfortunate.

This is a very important matter. This is a tremendous resource but unless there is one co-ordinating body, the institute, we may as well not be in this House today discussing the matter. This is a major weakness in the Bill. On the previous amendment I referred to this matter from a location point of view. This amendment is vitally important and I ask the Minister to accept it and to review what he has already said.

Mr. G. O'Sullivan: Information on Gerry O'Sullivan  Zoom on Gerry O'Sullivan  I am a little puzzled at the Minister's strong resistance to this amendment because I had assumed that it would be a natural development to include all these bodies in the Bill. I was more than surprised to hear him say that it was an umbrella body and that this was the first real effort to stop the splintering of the Department. I would be totally opposed to the use of any big stick — I do not think Deputy Gilmore would even entertain the thought of anything like that — to force different bodies to do something they did not want to do. However, I believe that anyone looking at the issue from a common sense point of view would agree that the amendment before us is a natural progression from what is provided in the Bill.

As I have said, I am somewhat puzzled at the Minister's strong resistance to this amendment which would give teeth to the Bill and would deal with the kernel of the problem. If we believe that the Marine Institute is a positive development, something for which we have waited a long time and which will be welcomed by all then I believe it is only natural that the Minister should accept this amendment.

The big stick aspect — perhaps this is the wrong phrase to use — is relevant to this amendment. I support the amendment because it gives teeth to something we felt was necessary for a long time. [1386] Rather than having a talking shop here about the Marine Institute, the incorporation of these amendments into the Bill will mean we will have a positive proposal which we can present to the people as the first major step in developing our natural marine resource.

Mr. Noonan: Information on Michael J. Noonan  Zoom on Michael J. Noonan  (Limerick West): I want to re-emphasise — it is important that the Deputies concerned realise this — that this will be a co-ordinating agency. We all agree that there is fragmentation in marine research and development. The Government are now tackling that problem and will bring all the agencies under the umbrella of the Marine Institute by way of co-ordination.

Deputy Gilmore was correct up to a point in what he said about Teagasc and FÁS; the organisations which existed before the new bodies were formed were dismantled. However, in the case of the Marine Institute, there is no question of dismantling the organisations referred to in the amendment. Some of their functions may be transferred to the institute but I want to point out clearly that this is not an organisation or a building of bricks and mortar; the function of the institute will be to co-ordinate and bring together the areas which are now carrying out research and development and which are, to a large extent, fragmented. This is the first serious effort which has been made to resolve this problem, and it will be done.

There is no dispute about the point made by Deputy Gilmore in regard to a controlling role for the Marine Institute. Indeed, when we come to discuss amendment No. 12 it will be seen that it is the intention to give the institute powers of control and co-ordination of the marine research and development currently being undertaken. This, again, will end the fragmentation in this area.

Deputy Gilmore asked me to outline where the functions of the Marine Institute are set out in the Bill: they are outlined in section 4. I am not able to deal with section 4 now but their functions are outlined very clearly in this section and the staff who are transferred will engage [1387] in those functions. Section 4 deals with the functions of the institute and will enable the institute to look at the work of those organisations and after agreement to take over, where appropriate, some of the functions which are carried out at present by the agencies listed. I want to emphasise the word “agreement”. It is not a question of weakness or the Minister taking the line of least resistance; good tactics are being used to co-ordinate the services and functions carried out by the existing organisations. It will be by agreement. Many discussions will take place. By its very nature it is an area which requires protracted discussion and I assure the House that we are not running away from the issue. We are ensuring that there will be proper co-ordination and that discussions will take place. At the end of the day we will have a Marine Institute Bill which will be agreed by all concerned. There are a number of agencies and Ministers involved in this. I want to ensure that the fragmentation that is taking place will be ended once and for all. It is to the detriment of the Common Fisheries Policy. We want to co-ordinate the existing agencies so that we will have the best possible research at our finger tips in our review of the Common Fisheries Policy. I say in all sencerity that we are making a great effort in this area and I ask for the support of the House in this.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  The Minister has not answered the question I asked which was to state where in the Bill the functions of the existing bodies engaged in research will be transferred to the Marine Institute. I know there is a clause in the Bill which allows the Minister to assign functions to the Marine Institute but there is no specific reference in the Bill to where the Minister may transfer the functions of one of the existing bodies to the Marine Institute.

The Bill is proposing the establishment of a body which will have a loose co-ordinating role over the existing research and development bodies performing a [1388] range of functions which are very restricted. They can organise seminars, conferences and lectures. The Minister referred to a later amendment which he has tabled which would widen the functions of the Marine Institute from co-ordination to control of proposals for marine research and development and so on. Those bodies which are already doing research will end up with the worst of both worlds. On the one hand they will continue to perform their research functions separately and, on the other hand, they will have this layer through which they will have to put their proposals for research. They will have a body which will control it. Organisations which are quite happily and effectively doing marine research, albeit in a fragmented and uncontrolled way, now having to deal with control from a body of which they will not be a part and in which they may not have any great deal of influence. That is the worst of both worlds for such organisations.

The terminology of my amendment is lifted from the task force report — that it should incorporate the research and technology functions currently undertaken by these institutions. The task force report was produced by a task force whose representatives included people from University College Cork, University College Galway, the NBST, the Geological Survey Office, Bradán Mara Teoranta, the IIRS and the Fisheries Research Centre and they came up with the recommendation that the Marine Institute should incorporate the functions of the different bodies. Will the Minister explain why the recommendation of the task force was turned down? What we have is an off the peg Bill, an emasculation of what was proposed which will not give the punch and the clout that people in the business wanted before the Marine Institute was proposed.

I do not want to unnecessarily press amendments if there is some way of resolving the difficulty but this is a fundamental issue. Will the Marine Institute be an umbrella organisation or will it be a body carrying out research in its own right? In the light of the Minister's later [1389] amendment he may wish to consider whether the Marine Institute should remain as an umbrella body or have real teeth. If he was prepared to consider that we could return to it on Report Stage. If he is not prepared to do so we will have to dispose of the question now.

Mr. Noonan: Information on Michael J. Noonan  Zoom on Michael J. Noonan  (Limerick West): Of course the body will have clout and teeth. All that Deputy Gilmore has said will follow by agreement. All the functions of the other agencies as listed will be considered in consultation with the agencies concerned, with the Departments under whose control they are and with the Ministers concerned. There has to be negotiation and consultation and everything will follow by agreement. The detail Deputy Gilmore is anxious for me to enshrine in legislation is not normally enshrined in legislation. It can be done by order of the Minister. I am talking about such things as the transfer of the functions from the agencies concerned to the Department of the Marine and thence to the Marine Institute. The transfer of civil servants or other personnel from the agencies concerned to any Department [1390] must come under the Ministers and Secretaries Act. This will not be easy. It will involve intricate consultation. I assure the House that the establishment of the Marine Institute will put an end to fragmentation. That is the purpose of the legislation. Rather than running away from the issue, we are tackling it head on. Tough negotiations will have to take place, but only by consultation and consensus can we reach the position which we all want. We must have legislation that will stand the test of time.

Mr. Gilmore: Information on Eamon Gilmore  Zoom on Eamon Gilmore  My amendment No. 32 is related to this amendment. Amendment No. 32 deals with the Schedule to the Bill and the membership of the institute. I am proposing in the amendment that each of the bodies whose functions or part of whose functions would be incorporated into the institute under section 3 should nominate one member to the institute, who should be appointed by the Minister. The functions of these bodies would be incorporated and the bodies would in turn have the right to nominate the membership of the institute. Obviously that amendment will fall if the proposal in relation to functions is defeated.

Amendment put.

Ahearn, Therese.
Barnes, Monica.
Barrett, Seán.
Barry, Peter.
Belton, Louis J.
Boylan, Andrew.
Bradford, Paul.
Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
Bruton, John.
Bruton, Richard.
Byrne, Eric.
Carey, Donal.
Connaughton, Paul.
Connor, John.
Cotter, Bill.
Creed, Michael.
D'Arcy, Michael.
Deasy, Austin.
Deenihan, Jimmy.
De Rossa, Proinsias.
Doyle, Joe.
Dukes, Alan.
Durkan, Bernard. [1391]Nealon, Ted.
Noonan, Michael. (Limerick East).
O'Keeffe, Jim.
O'Shea, Brian.
O'Sullivan, Gerry.
O'Sullivan, Toddy.
Owen, Nora.
Quinn, Ruairí.
Rabbitte, Pat.
Enright, Thomas W.
Farrelly, John V.
Fennell, Nuala.
Ferris, Michael.
Finucane, Michael.
FitzGerald, Garret.
Flaherty, Mary.
Garland, Roger.
Gilmore, Eamon.
Gregory, Tony.
Harte, Paddy.
Higgins, Jim.
Howlin, Brendan.
Kavanagh, Liam.
Kemmy, Jim.
Lowry, Michael.
McCormack, Pádraic.
McGinley, Dinny.
MacGiolla, Tomás.
McGrath, Paul.
Mitchell, Gay.
Mitchell, Jim.
Moynihan, Michael. [1392]Reynolds, Gerry.
Shatter, Alan.
Sheehan, Patrick J.
Sherlock, Joe.
Spring, Dick.
Stagg, Emmet.
Taylor, Mervyn.
Taylor-Quinn, Madeleine.
Timmins, Godfrey.
Yates, Ivan.

Ahern, Bertie.
Ahern, Dermot.
Ahern, Michael.
Aylward, Liam.
Barrett, Michael.
Brady, Gerard.
Brady, Vincent.
Brennan, Mattie.
Brennan, Séamus.
Browne, John (Wexford).
Burke, Raphael P.
Calleary, Seán.
Callely, Ivor.
Clohessy, Peadar.
Connolly, Ger.
Coughlan, Mary Theresa.
Cowen, Brian.
Cullimore, Séamus.
Daly, Brendan.
Davern, Noel.
Dempsey, Noel.
Dennehy, John.
de Valera, Síle.
Ellis, John.
Fahey, Frank.
Fahey, Jackie.
Fitzgerald, Liam Joseph.
Fitzpatrick, Dermot.
Flood, Chris.
Flynn, Pádraig.
Gallagher, Pat the Cope.
Geoghegan-Quinn, Máire.
Harney, Mary.
Haughey, Charles J.
Hillery, Brian.
Hilliard, Colm.
Hyland, Liam.
Jacob, Joe.
Kelly, Laurence.
Kenneally, Brendan.
Kirk, Séamus.
Kitt, Michael P.
Kitt, Tom.
Lawlor, Liam.
Leonard, Jimmy.
Leyden, Terry.
Lyons, Denis.
Martin, Micheál.
McDaid, Jim.
McEllistrim, Tom.
Molloy, Robert.
Morley, P.J.
Nolan, M.J.
Noonan, Michael J. (Limerick West).
O'Connell, John.
O'Dea, Willie.
O'Donoghue, John.
O'Hanlon, Rory.
O'Keeffe, Ned.
O'Kennedy, Michael.
O'Leary, John.
O'Rourke, Mary.
O'Toole, Martin Joe.
Power, Seán.
Quill, Máirín.
Smith, Michael.
Stafford, John.
Treacy, Noel.
Tunney, Jim.
Wallace, Dan.
Wallace, Mary.
Walsh, Joe.
Wilson, John P.
Woods, Michael.
Wyse, Pearse.

Amendment declared lost.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.

Sitting suspended at 12.55 p.m. and resumed at 2.30 p.m.

Last Updated: 23/05/2011 09:50:50 First Page Previous Page Page of 50 Next Page Last Page