Wednesday, 14 November 1990
Dáil Éireann Debate
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Amendment No. 5a in the name of Deputy Garland. Amendments Nos. 6, 7, 16 and 17 are alternatives and amendment No. 19 is an alternative to amendment No. 6. It is proposed with the agreement of the House to take for discussion purposes amendments Nos. 5a, 6, 7, 16, 17 and 19 together. Is that agreed? Agreed.
There is a very serious weakness in  section 4 (1). It must be read very carefully in order to realise how dangerous it is. Subsection (1) deals with the general functions of the Marine Institute, what it should undertake, co-ordinate and so on. It gives a short and a very inadequate list. The punchline comes at the end with the words “that in the opinion of the Institute will promote economic development and create employment”. Has everything in this country been reduced to pounds, shillings and pence? Are there no other criteria by which things can be judged? This is an absolutely outrageous section. It has not gone unnoticed by other Deputies. Deputy Gilmore has put down amendments to soften it and I would support his amendments, but they by no means go far enough. We need to give the Marine Institute a much greater profile than this Bill attempts to do. Hence I have sought in my amendment to delineate more fully the functions as opposed to the duties of the institute. The functions come first and the duties second.
In my opinion the functions of the institute are six-fold, as set out in my amendment. The first is to promote greater understanding and awareness of the marine environment, and of the importance of the oceans to Ireland, Europe and the world. That speaks for itself. We must attach a great deal of importance to marine affairs. The second is to promote an increasing awareness of the intrinsic value and importance of marine research for its own sake. That goes back to what I said at the beginning. This institute must be about more than just money and creating jobs. It must be about learning for its own sake, discovering more about the mysteries of the sea.
The third function of the institute should be to undertake, co-ordinate, promote and assist in marine research generally. The fourth would be to undertake, co-ordinate, promote and assist in technical development and demonstration projects. We must have a strong bias towards the various practical aspects of marine research and not have all this work taking place in offices. The fifth function should be to provide appropriate support services related to marine  research and development. The sixth proposal is to promote sustainable economic development and create suitable employment through wise management of our marine resources and technical skills. “Sustainable” is the word Deputy Gilmore uses in his amendment. The word “suitable” is also important.
I refer briefly to the scourge of the unregulated expansion of the fin fish industry which is not creating sustainable long term jobs. It looks to be destroying more jobs than it is creating. This matter will have to be addressed.
Mr. Gilmore: I must confess that I am disappointed Deputy Garland has chosen this course rather than pursue the important matter of the establishment of the  Marine Institute, which has major implications for the marine environment, the development of our seas and so on. I understand we are taking together all these amendments dealing with the functions of the institute. Amendment No. 7 in my name proposes to insert the word “sustainable” before the words “economic development”. It is important that we do not view the sea as a big pond to be plundered for various financial interests and that we should have learned from the manner in which the land-based resources of the earth have been exploited that we need to build into legislation the whole concept of sustainable economic development, the need to renew and conserve resources and to treat the earth's resources with the sensitivity they require.
Consequently it is important that the term “sustainable” be incorporated in this Bill. My amendment, No. 17, relates to section 4 also. I might refer again to the task force which was quite specific about what should be the functions of the Marine Institute. My amendment specifies the functions of the institute, as recommended in the report of the task force. Their functions, as set out in the Bill, are a far cry from those specified in my amendment. For example, in the Bill, as drafted, there is reference to advising the Minister on policy relating to marine research and development, on carrying out policy as may be specified by him on marine research and development and so on, a whole range of activities, all of which require the Minister's say-so before they can be undertaken. It is important that the Marine Institute have clear-cut functions, that they have the requisite authority to pursue them. My amendment, No. 17, was tabled with that purpose in mind.
My amendment, No. 19, together with No. 6 tabled by Deputy Gerry O'Sullivan, is an appropriate one for us to be dealing with today since this is the sixth anniversary of the liquidation of Irish Shipping Limited. The amendment reads:
Clearly with the onset of 1992, given our peripheral position — quite apart from the £100 million plus it has cost Irish taxpayers since 1984 — we have been very badly served by the liquidation of Irish Shipping Limited. One of the functions of the Marine Institute should be to seek the reconstitution of a merchant shipping fleet.
Mr. G. O'Sullivan: My amendment, No. 6, seeks the insertion of the words, “including the development of the fishing industry generally, and of a merchant marine”. I cannot overstress the importance of this addition or that of the fishing industry to this nation which, with the advent of 1992, will be rendered extremely vulnerable. Specific reference to the fishing industry in the Bill would go a long way to safeguarding that important industry. We have heard much talk about the advent of the single European market. At present it is no secret that Scandinavian and continental industries are looking to our fishing industry to ascertain whether and where they might be able to take over since we will be in a vulnerable position from 1992 onwards. Unless the Marine Institute have a strong, prominent role to play in the promotion of our fishing industry, those people dependent on it for their livelihood will suffer enormously. That was my reason for referring specifically to the fishing industry in my amendment. Most Members would agree that it is our most under-utilised resource. I feel very strongly about this issue and would request the Minister to take that addition on board.
With regard to a merchant marine it would be inconceivable to have a Marine Institute with no input in formulating some policy on a merchant marine. I would broaden the term “merchant  marine” to include ferry services to this country, since henceforth we will be confronted by circumstances in which our neighbour, Britain, will be linked to continental Europe by the tunnel, when we shall be even more isolated on the periphery of Europe. It is more important than ever that a proper working merchant marine should be envisaged and included in the provisions of this Bill. I welcomed the Minister's announcement some months ago to the effect that he was preparing documentation with regard to a merchant marine service here. It is most important that such service be in place.
I would ask the Minister to include both matters as specified in my amendment. It is important that any institute with teeth should be able to argue that we, as an island nation, have a strong policy on fishing and a merchant marine.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: This is just a small technical point, Deputy. We are discussing the amendments together but one only can be moved. Later on if the Deputy wishes — while she can discuss it now — to have a separate question on it, she will then be asked to move her amendment formally.
I might stress the importance of the contents of my amendment, No. 16, and of the continental shelf around Ireland as an under-explored asset, something on which we have insufficient knowledge and on which we have not carried out sufficient research. Indeed it is something that in the long term can be used to our benefit and prosperity particularly in the creation of employment along our west coast. Generally this matter does not assume its rightful importance until some exploratory or research work is undertaken which establishes that there is a valuable asset out there. It is at that point that the delineation lines become extremely important. Therefore it is  advisable that, in advance of any such development, we have clearly established these lines of delineation in relation to the continental shelf. Once some exploration work shows that there is a valuable asset out there various diplomatic interventions and cross-hackling begin to establish who owns what, where the lines of demarcation begin and end. It is important that we clarify this matter at an early stage and lay down our markers clearly showing the boundaries of our control. This would lead to a clear-cut position in the future and therefore, would not be the cause of any aggravation or hassle and, additionally, be in our national interest. Our share of the continental shelf is a great asset. Yet we do not know sufficient about it. Given the extensive emigration that takes place from communities along our west coast it is particularly important that we use this resource sooner rather than later to generate employment and prosperity along that coast. For that reason I am requesting that these two additional subsections be added to section 4 of the Bill, as drafted, which deals with the functions of the institute. Indeed they should be listed as priority activities of the Marine Institute, that is to mark out clearly the delineation lines of our claim to the continental shelf.
In relation to quantifying, mapping and delineating Ireland's marine and fishery resources, I am puzzled as to how we assess our fishery resources. EC member states have an extraordinary claim on fishery resources around our island based on historical and traditional fishing patterns. I find this difficult to accept. The Government have a real responsibility to take a very hard line on this issue, and the sooner the better we set out clear standards and clear demands in relation to the quantity of fish, where exactly we are allowed to fish and the species we are allowed to fish. I know we have maps at the moment, but I question how they were drawn up, the value of many of them and the areas that have been allocated to Ireland for different species.
On maps it may look well that the  Irish fishing fleet have rights to fish for a particular species in zone X, Y or Z, but when you examine this more closely you find some of those zones are appallingly poor for the production of the species, or in the areas which seem to be good for fishing a species, we find the species is not very attractive or popular. Therefore, there is a need for a very determined, vigorous effort in this area.
We have heard this Government talk extensively of the potential for job creation in the fishing industry and over two years ago BIM had a major launch to create 4,400 jobs. I believe very little, if anything, has happened in this area and I am most disappointed. Part of the reason is that we do not have a clear view or a clear knowledge of our position nor do we have the determination and aggressive approach at European level to get a fair slice of the cake in relation to fishing quotas. This is fundamentally important to the future of the fishing industry and the creation of employment in that area. It is imperative that urgent action be taken on this. Therefore, I am requesting that what I propose be added to section 4 in relation to the functions of the institute.
Minister of State at the Department of the Marine (Mr. Noonan,: Limerick West): I took particular note of these amendments over lunchtime and I have studied them once again in detail with my officials. I am quite satisfied that the functions of the institute as provided in section 4 cover all the points raised by the Deputies as outlined in the various amendments we are discussing under this section.
I repeat that the institute will have the following general functions, namely, “to undertake, to co-ordinate, to promote and to assist in marine research and development and to provide such services related to marine research and development, that in the opinion of the Institute”— that is important —“will promote economic development and create employment”. That clearly portrays that the institute have teeth and power and will carry out the functions I have just  outlined. The section provides that the institute will advise the Minister on policy relating to marine research and development, will carry out policy as may be specified by the Minister on marine research and development, undertake, develop, promote and market marine research and development services, promote and assist the improvement, development and application of technical and other processes for the exploitation and development of the marine resource, and collect, maintain, and disseminate information relating to marine matters. All those areas are detailed in the section.
Let me draw the attention of the House to section 4 (4) which provides that: “The Minister may confer on the Institute by order such other additional functions as he may from time to time consider necessary which said order may be amended or revoked by order by the said Minister.” Therefore, the areas outlined in the amendment in my view are adequately covered.
Of course, the section covers everything Deputy Garland has outlined and, indeed, much more. As a matter of fact, the amendment set out by Deputy Garland is much more inadequate than what is in the section. In other words, what he has outlined is enshrined in section 4, and much more. That is the point I want to make.
A point was made by Deputy Garland with regard to economic development. Of course economic development is necessary and it will be part of the functions of the Marine Institute. Along with the creation of employment in the marine area it is totally linked with conservation and environmental protection issues. All these are considered very carefully and will be part and parcel of the functions of the Marine Institute. Not only the Government, who are giving the lead, are involved in the protection of the environment. I can assure the House that the Marine Institute, when they are up and running, will have as their priority the protection of the environment. You cannot allow developments in our waters without assessing on a continuous basis their environmental impact. As a Deputy  said earlier in the fin fish sector these projects are now underpinned by full environmental impact assessments. Again let me emphasise that environmental protection is a priority. All evidence available to me indicates a great awareness of the environment and the need for marine conservation. A sector cannot survive in a degraded environment.
The Common Fisheries Policy as outlined by Deputy Taylor-Quinn is important. It is not particularly relevant to this Bill but we are very concerned that the Marine Institute will provide the Minister and the Department with the very best possible research and advice in the forthcoming review of the CFP. I look forward very much to that advice and guidance from the institute when established.
I thought I had explained fully that the institute will have teeth. They will have a strong board comprised of persons with experience and expertise and knowledge of the industry. They will have an adequate budget and the full support of the Government in exercising their remit, and that will be a very full remit as outlined in section 4. Usually it is not necessary in legislation of this sort to spell out functions as Deputy O'Sullivan suggested. The functions will be identified within the broad remit of the Bill, as I have already stated. In addition, from time to time the Minister may specify policy to be carried out by the institute. The Bill is an enabling framework which can accommodate the recommendations of the ministerial task force.
I am happy that Deputy Garland's amendment is not necessary. The Bill as drafted provides sufficient scope in relation to the remit of the institute. I feel also that the other amendments — amendments Nos. 6, 7, 16, 17 and 19 — are unnecessary. In particular amendment No. 6, put down by Deputy O'Sullivan, is unnecessary in that it relates to the merchant marine. It is inappropriate to legislation of this kind and does not necessarily have to be enshrined in it. Nevertheless it may not be precluded from being discussed by the institute in their deliberations.
 Research and development as defined in the Bill is already sufficiently comprehensive to address all matters relating to fisheries and fisheries development. On the question of the merchant marine, this is a matter for transport economics and is not directly relevant to this Bill but, again, may not necessarily be precluded. Indeed, so far as those areas are concerned, I am not ruling anything out at this stage.
In regard to amendment No. 7 which seeks to insert the word “sustainable”, again the Bill as drafted provides the institute with a remit which covers the promotion of economic development and the creation of employment. That is a clear cut brief which does not need any further elaboration. The Deputy's suggested amendment does not in any way enhance the section.
With regard to amendment No. 16 in the name of Deputy Madeleine Taylor-Quinn, again I am opposed to it because it is not necessary. The Bill as drafted allows sufficient scope to the institute to deal with all those matters outlined by the Deputy.
Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: I am somewhat disappointed with the way the Minister is acting today. It is not unusual to yield a little, to accommodate somewhat here and there. Some of the amendments tabled are not by any means dramatically controversial and would not in any way  detract from the Bill but would add substantially to it. There is plenty of room to manoeuvre here if the Minister was prepared to be a little more flexible.
My amendment No. 16 is very straightforward. There is nothing controversial in it. It is specific, but it is also valuable and has something to commend it. The continental shelf is an important issue. The Minister says it is covered in the first section of the functions of the institute in section 4 and that the broad terms of that section can accommodate the delineation of Ireland's continental shelf. Maybe it could, but I think we need to be a bit more specific and I would urge the Minister to look at this very seriously and take this amendment on board and accommodate it.
I think the Minister is adopting a rather narrow attitude on this issue. All he is really doing is adhering strictly to what was originally published in the Bill. At no stage to date has he accommodated any of our amendments, none of which has been controversial. I would ask the Minister to look at this. In amendment No. 16 I am suggesting that we delineate Ireland's continental shelf and to quantify, map and delineate Ireland's marine and fisheries resources. That could be very easily inserted there and make section 4 a much more specific and better section. I would ask the Minister to reconsider his position on it.
Mr. G. O'Sullivan: Amendment No. 6 is the one I am interested in at present. I think the Minister is being very sincere when he says that will be covered under the institute. As we all know, however, Ministers come and go, Deputies come and go and civil servants come and go. I am asking specifically that the fishing industry and the merchant marine be stitched into the Bill so that the terms of reference for the institute will be laid down, whoever comes or goes. The merchant marine and the fishing industry are of vital importance to us as an island nation. I am sure the fishermen around our coasts would agree with me that we are so far behind the other nations that some impetus in legislation is needed. I  believe the Minister is sincere when he says that the Bill covers most aspects of what we have been concerned about but, as Deputy Madeleine Taylor-Quinn has rightly said, these amendments are not controversial and are really only cementing into the Bill specific parts which we feel are important.
I have read the terms of reference of the Bill. I hope the Minister will accept the amendment because it would give an added importance to the legislation. I would ask the Minister to reconsider the matter. I will push it to a vote if necessary because I feel very strongly about it.
Mr. Sherlock: I rise to support amendment No. 6. I am sure the Minister and the Government are well aware that over the years everybody has been bemoaning the fact that the fishing industry has never been properly developed. There is an opportunity for the Minister in this Bill to be specific about the promotion of the fishing industry. The section as it stands is very general. In regard to amendment No. 7 the Minister's rejection of the inclusion of the word “sustainable” is an indication that he has made a decision not to accept any amendments but to let the section as proposed stand, and that is a pity. Why should one object to the inclusion of the word “sustainable”? I support wholeheartedly amendment No. 6.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): In reply to Deputy Sherlock, I examined that amendment very carefully during lunch time. I discussed the matter with my officials and we do not see how that word would in any way enhance or improve the legislation. I am satisfied that none of the amendments which has been put forward help to improve the Bill. I have already given the functions of the institute as outlined in section 4.
I want to say to Deputy Taylor-Quinn that I am very flexible. What she has stated is in no way controversial. Her amendment does not help one iota to improve the legislation. If it did I would be the first to accept it. I am the first to  say that perhaps all the brains are not on this side of the House.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I can see enough. As I have already stated, the legislation covers everything the Deputy has mentioned. We cannot spell out in detail what the institute should or should not do. There is a general outline in section 4 of the work they will do. I do not intend to tie the hands of the institute. What I am saying is that nothing is ruled in or ruled out. Anything Deputy Taylor-Quinn has said is not necessarily ruled out as regards the legislation. It can be examined.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I am not going into the details of what the institute should do. As I have said, the institute will comprise of persons of great expertise and experience in the area of research and development and in all the areas that have been outlined. I do not want to enshrine in the legislation details of the day-to-day workings of the institute. All we can do is give a broad outline of what is necessary, and I am satisfied that the provisions in section 4 adequately cater for what I have in mind.
Belton, Louis J.
Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
Enright, Thomas W.
Farrelly, John V.
Mac Giolla, Tomás.
Noonan, Michael. (Limerick East).
Sheehan, Patrick J.
Browne, John (Wexford).
Coughlan, Mary Theresa.
Cowen, Brian. Jacob, Joe.
Kitt, Michael P.
Noonan, Michael J. (Limerick West).
de Valera, Síle.
Fitzgerald, Liam Joseph.
Gallagher, Pat the Cope.
Hyland, Liam. O'Hanlon, Rory.
O'Malley, Desmond J.
O'Toole, Martin Joe.
Wilson, John P.
Amendment declared lost.
An Ceann Comhairle: Amendment No. 7 was discussed with amendment No. 5a earlier, how stands the amendment?
Mr. Gilmore: I move amendment No. 7:
In page 4, subsection (1), line 7, before “economic” to insert “sustainable”.
Amendment put and declared lost.
Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: I move amendment No. 8:
In page 4, subsection (1), line 7, after “employment” to insert “and protect the environment”.
This amendment is very important in relation to maintaining employment especially in the west where there is high emigration and the social fabric of the communities is rapidly changing.
The creation of employment in the marine industry is very important but the creation of such employment will be impossible without protecting the environment. It is vital to protect the environment. We are aware of major damage which has been done in places like Norway and Scotland due to over development and lack of environmental awareness. I refer particularly to the haphazard development of fin fish farming. We cannot have enough protection of the environment in this area. At the moment developments are taking place where sufficient thought has not been given to environmental protection. For that reason I would ask the Minister to accept the insertion of the words “and protect the environment”. While there may be short term gains in employment in the marine industries, jobs will not be maintained unless we protect the environment.
I hope the Marine Institute when established will closely examine the coastline to ascertain areas suitable for different types of marine development. This type of work has been done in a very skimpy fashion to date mainly because the Department have not had sufficient personnel to do a detailed job.
We are unique in that we have not damaged our marine environment in the way in which other countries have, so we have something to protect. It would be unfortunate if we created short term employment without considering the long term effects of marine development. This amendment is suggested with a view to protecting the long term maintenance of employment. There is no point in creating jobs that will only last from four to six years because proper environmental awareness was not promoted initially.
Mr. Gilmore: This amendment is also in my name. We have had a bad record  here today, with the Minister rejecting amendments completely out of hand. I do not want to anticipate what the Minister might say, but I would find it difficult to understand his rejection of this amendment, given the Government's stated commitment to protect the environment and given the fact that Ireland's Presidency of the European Community was designated the Green Presidency and that between the months of January and June we heard a lot from the Government about the need to protect the environment. It is hardly asking too much in a Bill dealing essentially with marine research and development that one of the general functions of the institute would be related to protection of the environment. I hope the Minister will respond generously in relation to this amendment, and agree to accept it.
Mr. G. O'Sullivan: I support the amendment. There is a new awareness in relation to environmental protection. There has been an increased abuse of the sea over the past number of years. In the Marine Institute scientific knowledge can be put to good use in order to protect our coastal waters and our coastlines. The Minister will probably say that the Bill covers this aspect, but I can understand the reasoning behind the argument that a further reference to environmental protection should be included in the Bill. This bears out the concern Deputies have, not alone about the environment, but also about the need to give the Bill sufficient teeth. I fail to understand the reason the Minister cannot accept the amendment which states that the environment should be protected. I fully support the amendment.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): As I have already stated, the Bill is broad enough and lays emphasis on the need to protect the environment. Indeed, as Deputy O'Sullivan rightly pointed out, there has been abuse of the sea. The purpose in setting up this institute is to prevent such abuse. I am quite satisfied  that the Bill is sufficiently strong enough and that the chairman and members of the Marine Institute will have sufficient power under the legislation to do exactly what the Members of the House are asking me to do but having said that, without giving any commitment, I am prepared to examine the matter and discuss it again on Report Stage.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Acting Chairman (Mr. Wyse): We now proceed to amendment No. 9. Amendment No. 10 is an alternative and amendments Nos. 11, 13, 14, 15, 20 and 21 are related. Therefore I propose that we take amendments Nos. 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 20 and 21 together by agreement. Is that agreed? Agreed.
Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: I move amendment No. 9:
In page 4, subsection (2) (a), line 10, to delete “to advise the Minister on” and substitute “to formulate”.
The reason I put down this amendment is that I am concerned the Bill does not have enough real teeth or sufficient powers to allow the institute do something positive. Everyone can give advice but the taking of advice is another matter. The Marine Institute should be given a very specific function to formulate policy rather than just to advise the Minister. After all, if the Marine Institute are to be the expert institute in this area who better to formulate policy than the experts and personnel within the institute? For this reason I would like to have the words “to advise the Minister on” deleted and replaced with the words “to formulate”.
Mr. G. O'Sullivan: Like Deputy Taylor-Quinn, I also seek the inclusion of the word “formulate”. The Minister indicated this morning that he will be appointing to this institute a panel of experts who have great knowledge of maritime affairs. In not giving the people to be appointed the power to formulate  policy on coming to a conclusion on various matters we are wasting resources. I have been a member of a health advisory board for a number of years and I find it most frustrating, having had discussions, to come up with a solution and passing it on to the health board or the Minister to find that the matter has been ignored. While this may not seem to be a very important matter, if we are serious about maritime affairs, expanding our resources, developing our economy by making greater use of our maritime resources and the protection of our environment, we must give people the power to formulate policy and in turn present it to the Minister who along with the Government will decide on what policy should be implemented. I believe it would be a mistake to appoint the members in an advisory capacity in this instance. There has been much talk about the work the institute are going to do but until such time as they are in a position to formulate maritime policy we are only wasting valuable time and money. I feel very strongly about this issue and ask the Minister to consider making this change in the wording of this section, to insert the words “to formulate”. I appreciate that it is the Government who will implement the policy but it is very important that we include the word “formulate”.
Mr. Gilmore: The question we are debating now is whether this institute will be allowed do anything on their own. We have already debated the question as to what extent the functions of existing research bodies should be incorporated into the institute and have had a general debate on the functions of the institute. What we are now dealing with is the Minister's hand. What we have here is the classic question of whether certain functions in relation to co-ordination, the making of proposals and so on should be devolved to the institute if they are to have any meaning at all. Almost every subparagraph of this section of the Bill contains a reference to the “carrying out of policy, as may be specified by the Minister, on marine research and  development”. Therefore the institute will have no authority, independent of the Minister, to carry out policy on marine research and development. Sub-paragraph (f) of subsection (2) states:
To co-ordinate proposals for marine research and development requiring funding from the Exchequer or from any State-owned or controlled body or such other body as the Minister may from time to time direct,
Subparagraph (g) reads:
To evaluate for the Minister proposals for marine research and development requiring funding from the Exchequer or from any State-owned or controlled body or such other body as the Minister may from time to time direct,
Subparagraph (h) reads:
To advise the Minister on proposals for marine research and development requiring funding from the Exchequer or from any State-owned or controlled body or such other body as the Minister may from time to time direct,
Subsection (3) states that the institute may, at the request of the Minister, represent the State in European Community programmes of marine research and development. They may not do so of their own accord. We are aware that there is a substantial number of European Community programmes on marine research. Because we have not had a marine institute to date we have not been able to benefit to the extent we could have from European Community programmes on marine research. Yet, we have a situation where the institute may not participate in the STRIDE programme unless requested to do so by the Minister. Subsection (3) (f) goes on in the same vein. It reads:
engage in any other activities relating to marine research and development as may be approved of by the Minister.
That is a recipe for an institute that will  not work. It is clear from section 4 that the Minister has no intention of allowing this institute to act or to grow independently. In these amendments we are attempting to take the ministerial constraints that are being put on the institute. There is no way in practice that the Minister can engage himself in the day to day activities of the institute as proposed in the Bill.
It has taken three years for the Minister to bring this legislation before the House. I am aware, and I am sure the Members of the House are aware, of the many commitments on the Minister's time. I do not see the Minister for the Marine having the time to examine individual proposals for the carrying out of particular functions that would be required by him under the provisions of this Bill. What will be the end result? We will end up with a three tier bureaucratic arrangement for marine research. There will be a researcher or a group of researchers in the fisheries research centre, the central fisheries board, the Geological Survey Office, UCG or whatever, who identify that there is a need to carry out research or development in some area of marine activity. What is the first thing they will do? They will have to apply to the Marine Institute before they can do anything but the Marine Institute may not be able to do anything about it unless they get the specific approval of the Minister for the Marine.
Deputy Taylor-Quinn referred this morning to the fine work being done in University College Galway. I agree with her. The people in University College Galway want to identify some area of research for which they can get European funding. They may well identify that there is an area in which they could carry out certain research on behalf of the European Community but under the provisions in this Bill they would not have the right to do that; they would have to go through two stages — first, they would go to the institute and then the institute could not make a decision unless they had a request from the Minister to particpate in a European Community programme. All these ties to  the Minister will result in the Marine Institute being unable to do anything. It will handicap the institute when it comes to the work they are intended to do. It will handicap them from participating in European Community ventures and from engaging and co-operating with other agencies. It will strangle them.
I understand the reluctance on the part of Departments to let go of areas of policy or areas of interest. If the Minister insists on keeping a grip on the Marine Institute, then the institute will be absolutely useless. Anyone who is involved in any public body and has to seek departmental approval for day to day activities knows all the administrative difficulties, these difficulties arise not through any fault of the people involved but because of the sheer volume of work. This is an over-centralised, over-bureaucratic approach to an institute that should be able to develop on their own initiative but that, unfortunately, will not happen under the formula presented here. This is a test of whether the Minister has confidence in the body he is setting up. You do not have confidence in a body if you insist on the right to rubber-stamp every activity they wish to carry out. I ask the Minister to give a vote of confidence to the Marine Institute we are debating today by releasing them from ministerial ties.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I want to make it quite clear that the Marine Institute is a very important subsidiary organ of the State. A subsidiary organ cannot take over functions which are proper to the Minister. The State has a substantial interest and role in marine research. The new arrangements which I am now introducing will allow that to be more effective and to work much more efficiently. There is no question of handicapping the work of the institute as was pointed out by Deputy Gilmore. There is no question of putting constraints on the institute. Neither is there any question of dealing with the day to day activities of the institute. The institute will not be handicaped in any way.
This legislation is the same as legislation setting up any other semi-State  organisation or, indeed, any other subsidiary organ of the State. It would be wrong that this Government would tie the hands of any future Government. Policy is a matter for the Government and the Minister for the Marine to determine with advice, as appropriate, from the Marine Institute. In other words, I am saying that policy is the prerogative of the Minister of the day and it would be very wrong of this House to have enshrined in legislation, a section which would inhibit the policy or the prerogative of this Government or of any future Government. It never happened and it certainly will not happen on this occasion.
The Marine Institute will have scope to do all the things the Deputies opposite, and particularly Deputy Gilmore, think they will not have under section 4 (2) (c) of this Bill. The European Community deals at member state level with any individual country and not with any research organisation. National governments have the primary role in this area in dealing with the European Community. There is no way any Government or any Minister can devolve that function to a subsidiary organisation. I want to repeat as often as I can that policy is the prerogative of the Government of the day and it would be very wrong of any Government to tie the hands of any future Government in that regard.
I want to say to Deputy O'Sullivan that the board of the institute will not act in an advisory capacity. As section 4 clearly outlines, they will have teeth and will operate under the policies of the Minister and the Government of the day. The board will be comprised of members who have experience and expertise in this area. They will have adequate finance to support their research programme and to carry out their remit to the fullest.
For those reasons I cannot accept amendments Nos. 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 20 and 21; they are all more or less the same. The functions of the institute are set out clearly in the Bill. To all intents and purposes they will be an independent research body who will have to keep in mind that they are a subsidiary organ of  the State and will have to carry out the policy of the Government and the Minister for the Marine of the day. I cannot accept any one of those amendments.
Mr. Gilmore: One would think listening to the Minister that the amendments are tantamount to setting up some kind of a government in exile who would deal with marine affairs and undermine the position of the Government. That is far from the case. Nobody is disputing the fact that what is being established is a State body and that that State body are clearly subordinate to State policy, but let us look at this in practice.
What is being proposed is a body to which the Minister will appoint the members and, if I recall correctly, he may, at his discretion, remove the chairman or members of that body. The Minister will receive an annual report from the body and he will know what is taking place. Under provisions in the Bill the Minister may direct the institute to carry out research into a specific area which the Government may decide needs to be researched. For example, they may decide, and I hope they will, that the radioactive contamination of the east coast, which has never been researched by any Government, should be examined to see the extent to which the beaches on the east coast have been radioactively polluted by the Sellafield plant.
While it is open to the Minister to ask the Marine Institute to carry out this research, this is a far cry from saying to the Marine Institute that they will have to go back to the Minister for approval for every substantial function they have to perform, which effectively, is what is being proposed. The institute will not function under the declarations made by the Minister this afternoon. They will function under the provisions of the Bill. Section 4 (2) (b) provides that the institute shall carry out policy as may be specified by the Minister on marine research and development. I read that to mean that the Marine Institute may not carry out policy other than that which has been specified by the Minister. If my reading of the subsection is incorrect, I would like  the Minister to put his view on record because it needs to be made very clear. The institute will need to know the extent to which they can or cannot do things.
Section 4 (2) (f) provides that the institute shall co-ordinate proposals for marine research and development requiring funding from the Exchequer or from any State owned or controlled body or such other body as the Minister may from time to time direct. Let us take the example Deputy Taylor-Quinn gave this morning of Guinness Peat Aviation making finance available or having an interest in a particular area of marine research. If a private commercial company believe that there is a need to carry out research in some area the Marine Institute may not co-ordinate those proposals for marine research and development unless the Minister has directed them to do so. Subsection (g) states that the institute shall evaluate proposals for marine research and development for the Minister but if the Minister has not directed the institute to evaluate proposals, they may not evaluate them. That is the way I read that section.
If the Marine Institute become aware, for example, that there are proposals for marine research and development which should be evaluated they cannot do anything unless they get the green light from the Minister. I am not suggesting that the Marine Institute should represent the State at meetings of the Council of Ministers or anything of that nature but section 4 (3) (a) provides that the institute may represent the State in European Community programmes of marine research and development. If we establish a national marine institute obviously that is the body who will represent the State. We know there are European Community programmes of marine research and development. Long ago we should have had a body able to plug into what is happening at European Community level. Yet, the Marine Institute may not, of their own volition, do that unless requested to do so by the Minister. That is what it says in the Bill.
The Minister will have to face up to  this. Nobody is suggesting for a moment that there should not be accountability. Accountability is clearly provided for in the appointment of the institute, in the provision for the sacking of the members of the institute and in the provisions under which the institute report to the Minister. There are clear lines of accountability in those provisions. The Bill also provides a clear procedure whereby the institute may be given a direction to carry out research and development in a particular area. However, there is a distinction between that and placing a requirement on the institute to go back to the Minister for the green light on what really should be their day-to-day function. Unfortunately, that is what is being proposed in the Bill.
Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: I am very disappointed at the attitude the Minister had adopted to these amendments. They were put down for one common purpose — this is very clear from the proposals in them — to give independence to the institute so that they will have the opportunity of initiating work, formulating policy and carrying out research without having to wait for a direction from the Minister or his Department. If the Minister is not prepared to accept any of these amendments, I will have to question his sincerity and that of his Department in regard to the establishment of the institute.
This is just another layer of bureaucracy set up as a puppet for the Department of the Marine and the Minister. The response to all these amendments suggests that this is the way the Minister and his Department want it. It is unfortunate that this attitude is being adopted because it will restict the creativity and initiative of talented people. Anything that restricts people in this way is bad. It inhibits development and stifles talents and interest in work. If the institute is to be set up as the Minister intends in the Bill and he is not prepared to accept these amendments, we will have another body which will be different for a year or so but then will fall into the same old routine  and become a humdrum operation waiting to be directed by the Department. This is not in the interests of the necessary development and research in modern industry.
The Minister must take a serious view of the matter. Rather than looking on this as an enabling Bill, he should see it as something which will set up a body to make a major contribution to the development of a resource which to date has been underdeveloped. Unless the people involved are given the opportunity to do what they feel is necessary rather than wait to be directed by the Minister, this is a waste of time. Accountability is provided for within the Bill.
The various subsections of section 4 are totally restrictive and inhibiting. They are not conducive to the independent development of ideas or the formulation of policy. People of initiative and talent will not want to work in the institute and we will end up with a humdrum operation which will be insignificant in the long term.
Mr. G. O'Sullivan: This is new legislation setting up a new body with new ideas and giving a fresh input into our marine development. I am disappointed that the Minister has taken a blinkered view of the amendments before us. We who are spokespersons on the Marine have tried to point out to the Minister that if we want talented people to work in this body we must give them freedom. We must not restrict their views and they should be able to come back with certain decisions they have made. The Minister is to appoint experts to the institute and we should know who these experts are. It is very difficult for someone to sit on a board or panel knowing that a decision taken will mean nothing if the Minister decides to knock it on the head. Unless the institute is given a proper role to play in maritime affairs, we are wasting out time.
I was delighted when I heard that this legislation was to be brought forward. I saw it as a step forward which would bring us into the twentieth century. We are so far behind that we need the  impetus which would be supplied by the establishment of the Marine Institute. They must have the initiative to bring forward ideas and policies to the Minister but unless they are given independence, we will not attract the proper people.
The Minister attacked rather than discussed the amendments. I came here with the objective of putting forward a reasonable amendment. I still feel it is reasonable to ask a group of people picked for their expertise to formulate policy and to come back with their ideas so that they can be incorporated into the Government's marine policy. I accept that the Government of the day will make decisions, but if freedom and independence are not given to the institute it will become merely a talking shop, like the health advisory committees throughout the country. It will be only a symbol of marine affairs. Unless we grasp the opportunity provided by this legislation and make it work in a positive manner we will slip back into the old ways. Other nations including the Scandanavians, the French, the Spanish and the British will go far ahead of us again.
I ask the Minister to reconsider the amendments before us. The bona fides of those who tabled them is beyond reproach. This has been a very well ordered debate and I am sorry the Minister has not given recognition to the amendments. Perhaps he will reconsider his attitude.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I still cannot understand the views expressed by the three Deputies opposite. The selfsame phraseology is enshrined in the legislation setting up Teagasc, FÁS, CERT and BIM. Are any of those organisation hidebound by the Minister? They are not. I cannot understand why Deputies are taking an extraordinarily restrictive view of this section. The policy of the institute will have to be determined by the Minister and the Government of the day. Policy can only be formulated by the Government, the elected representatives of the people.
Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Break new ground.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): The Marine Institute, just like the organisations I have mentioned, will have wide scope on policy matters within their remit. For example, appointments to the board will confirm that it is envisaged that the approach of the board, the role of the institute and their powers will be utilised in the most effective way. There is no doubt about that. I cannot understand why Deputies are taking such an extraordinary view. I have given them examples of four organisations where there is no restriction whatsoever on their day to day operations. It is not true to say that the institute will be restricted in their day to day operations; far from it, the Minister will not interfere in their day to day activities. The institute will have adequate scope to develop policies and innovations within their remit as outlined by Government policy, that is, any Government in power and the relevant Minister for the Marine.
All of this must be read within the context of section 4 (1) which describes the general functions of the institute. The facts are that this will be a State body largely funded by the taxpayer. Therefore, the Minister must be able to influence their policy in line with Government policy and public thinking from time to time. No Government would be worth their salt were they to give those powers to any other organisation.
I might say that section 4 (3) (a) does not prevent the institute taking part in EC programmes on their own account. That subsection merely makes the point that the institute will take part in such programmes on behalf of the State, a point that needed to be clarified.
Deputy Gilmore raised a point about radioactivity levels in the Irish Sea. These levels are monitored constantly by the Nuclear Energy Board assisted by the fisheries research sector of my Department. The Deputy need have no worries on that score. I might reiterate that it will not amount to another layer of bureaucracy. Indeed, it is very wrong for  any Deputy to maintain that it will be such because clearly it will not be. The institute will have its independence. Indeed the emphasis being laid on this point by Deputies opposite is not in keeping with the functions of the institute as outlined in section 4. The House will appreciate that the institute will have flexibility and independence working within the framework of the provisions of section 4. I must reiterate that they will not be hamstrung or restricted but rather will have full scope and flexibility in carrying out their functions as laid down in section 4.
For that reason I cannot understand the views being expressed by Deputies opposite. The new institute will be no different from any other subsidiary organ of State established by this, previous or indeed future Governments. I have no doubt but that the same Deputies will be coming back to me in 12 months' or two years' time saying how wrong they were in advancing such suggestions during the passage of this Bill.
Mr. Gilmore: On a number of occasions the Minister has strongly asserted that the institute will have a degree of independence which I contend will not be compatible with what is contained in the Bill as drafted. However, I am open to being convinced. With the agreement of the Chair I might request the Minister — going down the sections we seek to amend — to clarify a couple of matters for me. First, let me take section 4 (2) (b) which reads:
(b) to carry out policy as may be specified by the Minister on marine research and development,
For example, if the Marine Institute decide they want to carry out policy in some area of marine research and development, not specified by the Minister, may they do so?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): Of course, if the institute wish to carry out research in some area not specified by the Minister all they have to do is establish contact with the relevant Minister when  I have no doubt but that — as would any Minister on such occasions — he will decide that if the proposed research falls within the general policy framework laid down by the Government of the day, he will allow the institute to undertake such.
Mr. Gilmore: The Minister has answered my question. Clearly the answer is that the institute may not carry out a policy in that area of research and development without the specific say-so of the Minister. That is quite clear from what the Minister has just said.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): This is a hypothetical situation anyway.
Mr. Gilmore: Let me cite a practical position. Let me deal with section 4 (2) (f) which reads:
(f) to co-ordinate proposals for marine research and development requiring funding from the Exchequer or from any State owned or controlled body...
I understand all that; we are talking about bodies such as An Bord Iascaigh Mhara or others who might want to inject money into the project. Here is the piece of the subsection in which I am particularly interested:
...or such other body as the Minister may from time to time direct,
What does that mean? I know some Members do not like references to individual constituencies. But let me take an example with which I am familiar. In the shipping area where we have a Sea Pollution Bill, let us suppose that Sealink, based in my constituency, were anxious to have examined a particular aspect of shipping pollution by ships or whatever and wanted research conducted and let us suppose they were prepared to put forward some finance for that purpose and that his research proposal required co-ordination — for example, it might require co-ordination with the B & I, a State owned body; it might necessitate co-ordination between the Department of the Marine and a number of different  bodies, such I understand that to be one of the functions of the new institute — would the institute have to revert to the Minister to get the all clear or could they simply go ahead with the co-ordination of the proposal concerned?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): We went into all of this area on previous sections and amendments with regard to specifics when I clearly outlined the general framework of the functions of the institute as laid down in section 4. We are returning to specifics. If any such proposal comes within the remit of the institute, then I do not see any reason they could not undertake such research.
Mr. Gilmore: I am not entirely clear on that. Is the Minister saying that the institute could or could not undertake such co-ordination without resorting to him? What is the position? Does the institute or do they not have to revert to him in respect of any such proposal?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): What I am saying is that, if it falls within the remit of the institute — as enshrined by Government policy of the day — of course, they can undertake such research.
Mr. Gilmore: I am not clear on that. Let me give a practical example. We have a Sea Pollution Bill dealing with emissions from ships. There is a proposal in that Bill that facilities be provided at the ports. We know there is a problem in relation to the provision of facilities at ports. Let us say that Sealink, B & I, Bell Lines or whoever else is involved in the area come up with a proposal that they want an aspect of it researched. Let us say they want to develop port reception facilities for waste and are prepared to come in with State-sponsored bodies or whatever on it. They ask the Marine Institute to co-ordinate the proposal. The proposal comes before a meeting of the institute. What advice is the chief executive of the institute to give to the members of the institute? Is he to advise them that for that proposal, because it is  a body that has not been directed by the Minister, they must go back to the Minister for approval for it, or can the institute make a decision to say, “Yes, this is a great proposal; let us go ahead with it”?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): The Deputy fails to understand what I am indicating. There is a clear distinction between policy and research and development, as the Deputy knows. The carrying out of policy into which the institute will have an input comes within section 4 (2) (a) of the Bill. That is one thing, and in line with that the institute will have regard to all policy issues assigned to them in any area. Therefore, this is determined by the Government's policy. I am not going into specifics here this afternoon, but if what the Deputy has just outlined comes within the remit of this legislation or within the remit of the Sea Pollution Bill which is before the House at present, of course the institute can carry out research into the area the Deputy has just outlined, provided it is within the total remit and within the policy as outlined by the Government and the Minister of the day. Therefore, the institute do not have to go back to the Minister on a day to day basis on an issue to issue basis. They have the freedom to carry out their work under the policy as determined by the Government and the Minister, so they are not hamstrung in that way at all.
Mr. Gilmore: If a proposal comes to the institute from, say, University College, Galway to the effect: “We have a proposal for the development of a particular project. This is going to involve the following bodies: UCG, the local authority, UCC and, let us say, one or two private companies”, do I understand the Minister correctly that the institute will have the authority to go ahead with that proposal and the co-ordination of that proposal with no further reference to the Minister other than to satisfy themselves that they are complying with general policy guidelines as laid down by the  Government, but they do not have to go back and check for individual proposals with the Minister?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): The Deputy seems to be misreading the section. The Minister's power to direct regarding another body does not preclude the institute from dealing with research as outlined by the Deputy in the example he has given. If there is a request for research and development by another organisation and it comes within the remit of the institute, there is no reason the institute cannot carry out that research and development without any contact or association with the Minister provided it is within the general guidelines.
Mr. G. O'Sullivan: We seem to be going around in circles. My amendment is very clear. It says: “to formulate policy and to advise”. Of course it is the Minister's prerogative and that of the Government of the day to implement the policy. If we are to be serious about giving people the independence we are talking about, together with the power and finance, we should be able to give them the right to formulate policy and then present it to the Minister of the day. If the Minister and Government of the day wish to implement it, that is a matter for them. Further on the legislation provides that the report will be laid before the Oireachtas. I have sought the publication of that report. Then I have no doubt the Minister, whoever he or she is, will come into the House and answer as to why the policy was not implemented. I am not going back over the word “teeth”; we have said so often this morning that this institute should get the muscle, the teeth, in order to present to the Government a policy on marine affairs. Let me say once more that this is new legislation and we cannot compare the institute with Teagasc or FÁS or any other such body in real terms. It is a new venture. It is going to tap into one of our most valuable resources, we hope, for the benefit of all the people. That is why it is very important to get the legislation right at  the start, to get it in place to give these people, whoever they may be, who will be appointed by the Minister, the freedom to act and present policy to Government for the Government to implement. If the Government do not wish to implement the policy, the Minister will come back and give the reasons.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I want to clarify and to confirm beyond a shadow of doubt what I have been stating over the past half hour or so. Section 4 (3) (c) of the Bill says: “enter into joint-ventures so as to undertake or further the application of marine research and development”. I think that clarifies what is worrying Deputy Gilmore. If the Deputy agrees with me that policy is ultimately a matter for Government, there is no difference between his concept of “formulate” and the Bill's concept of “advise”. “Advise” is correct and in line with what the Deputy is saying.
I want to come to section 19 (1) to confirm what has already been stated if you, Sir, will allow me to mention it. It provides that at the end of each financial year the institute shall furnish to the Minister a report in writing drawn up in consultation with relevant Ministers “(a)  outlining its proposed activities (other than day-to-day activities) in the financial year immediately following”. That clears the issue.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I might suggest to the House that contributions have ebbed and flowed to a point where we are not moving to anything new.
Mr. Gilmore: We are getting nowhere.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I will now ask Deputy Madeleine Taylor-Quinn in respect of amendment No. 9 if it is her intention to press that amendment.
Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: We are wasting our time. The Minister is like a big stone wall. He talked about flexibility earlier but he is just not yielding in any shape or form. Amendment No. 9 is very similar to amendments Nos. 10, 11, 13, 14 and 15 and I think all of us on this side of the House are of the view that what we are seeking is not being accommodated. I am inclined to push the amendment to a vote.
Question put: “That the words proposed to be deleted stand.”
The Committee divided: Tá, 75; Níl, 61.
Browne, John (Wexford).
Coughlan, Mary Theresa.
Dennehy, John. Martin, Micheál.
Noonan, Michael J. (Limerick West).
O'Malley, Desmond J.
|de Valera, Síle.
Fitzgerald, Liam Joseph.
Gallagher, Pat the Cope.
Kitt, Michael P.
Lyons, Denis. O'Rourke, Mary.
O'Toole, Martin Joe.
Wilson, John P.
Belton, Louis J.
Browne, John (Carlow-Kilkenny).
Cosgrave, Michael Joe.
Enright, Thomas W.
Farrelly, John V.
Mac Giolla, Tomás.
Noonan, Michael. (Limerick East).
Sheehan, Patrick J.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies V. Brady and Clohessy; Níl, Deputies J. Higgins and Boylan
Question declared carried.
Amendment declared lost.
Amendment No. 10 not moved.
Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: I move amendment No. 11:
In page 4, subsection (2) (b), line 12, to delete “as may be specified by the Minister”.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Is the Deputy withdrawing the amendment?
Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: I do not want to put it to a vote. Perhaps the Minister  would consider the matter on Report Stage.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I move amendment No. 12:
In page 4, subsection (2) (f), line 21, after “co-ordinate” to insert “and control”.
This amendment adverts to what we have been discussing this afternoon and indeed this morning. It is designed to enhance the role of the institute in the execution of its brief. It is the intention of the Government that the institute will make a meaningful contribution in the area of marine research and will, therefore, have a lead role in relation to Exchequer or State-sponsored funding of proposals for marine research and development. I have already adverted to that matter this morning during the course of the debate on other amendments which were put forward by the Deputies opposite. I pointed out then, and I want to reiterate, that it is the firm intention, as illustrated by this amendment, to provide for proper and appropriate powers of meaningful control for the institute over research and development proposals. This institute will most certainly have teeth. The Bill as drafted, with the enhancement of this amendment, will ensure that there is effective control by the institute over all matters pertaining to its statutory remit. I commend the amendment to the House on the basis of what I have outlined. I have no doubt that it will help to reassure Deputies in relation to the concerns they expressed this morning and afternoon in this context. To put it briefly, this amendment strengthens section 4 in a very meaningful way because it gives a certain priority to research and development.
Mr. Gilmore: I am not sure I know what it means. The Minister, quite rightly, referred to our discussions earlier this morning. I understand what “co-ordinate” means, different bodies engaged in different areas of research.  Quite clearly, I understand the role of the institute as far as co-ordination of those proposals is concerned but what does “control of the proposals” mean? Does it mean that if an individual research body, various research centres, one of the universities, the Central Fisheries Board, BIM, or any of the bodies which are carrying out marine research and development, have a proposal for marine research and development they cannot develop it of their own accord but must go through the Marine Institute? Is that what “control” means? I would be unhappy about the Minister having a controlling hand in the workings of the institute and, equally, particularly in the context of the amendment in my name which was defeated this morning, I would be unhappy about the institute controlling the activities of the various research bodies.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): The Deputy misrepresents my words all the time. I will repeat what I already said; it is the intention of the Government that the institute will make a meaningful contribution in the area of marine research and will, therefore, have a lead role in relation to Exchequer or State-sponsored funding or proposals for marine research and development. That is as simple as it could be.
Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Like Deputy Gilmore, I find it difficult to understand exactly what is meant. I understand “co-ordination” but the Minister is saying that the proposal can only go so far and no further. That is control. In other words, the Minister is limiting the extent of a proposal if it is controlled. That is the way I interpret it but maybe I am wrong. I should like to know exactly what is in the mind of the Minister and the Department in relation to controlling. Will the Minister put limitations on the proposals? Will he not give the bodies concerned the freedom to make their proposal as broad-based or as extensive as they may feel is necessary or desirable for that proposal? It is desirable to co-ordinate and present a proposal to have  it examined, but to control it is an unacceptable degree of interference.
Mr. Gilmore: I want to try to tease this out. In practice, will it mean that whatever State funding is available for marine research and development will be allocated to the Marine Institute which will then disburse it among the various bodies? Is it the intention that individual bodies, when they want to advance a project or put forward a proposal, will go to the Marine Institute? Who will decide whether it will go ahead? If it does go ahead, will the Marine Institute supervise that project or proposal? Is that what is intended by “control”?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): The Deputy is talking about the day to day running of the institute.
Mr. Gilmore: I want to know what kind of monster we are creating here.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I have already explained that this amendment is designed to give a primary role to the Marine Institute in all the matters outlined by the Deputy. The word I am adding is also meant to enhance the co-ordination role of the institute.
Mr. G. O'Sullivan: I am totally confused about the word “control”. Is the word really necessary? Looking at the amendment it seems to have been an afterthought to add the word “control” because the Minister indicated this morning that the body would have certain powers and would be answerable to him. The longer the debate goes on the more confusing it is. Perhaps I am missing the point. Will the Minister spell out very clearly why he wants the word “control”?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): Up to now, Deputies have been looking for greater flexibility and lack of interference by the Minister.
Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: That is right.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): This word does not mean that there will be interference from the Minister; it just gives the necessary authority to the institute for which Deputies have been looking for the past couple of hours.
Mr. Gilmore: No.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): With regard to funding, of course we envisage it being channelled through the institute ultimately for research and development and it strengthens the institute and their board. It gives some degree of independence, keeping in mind the overall general policy of the Government and the Minister of the day.
Mr. Gilmore: There was a lengthy debate on this Bill in the Seanad and it passed Second Stage in this House. On none of those Stages was there any intimation that the Minister intended to introduce an amendment to add the term “control”. Clearly, something happened after the Bill was passed by the Seanad and had gone through Second Stage here to cause the Minister to include the term “control” in the functions of the institute.
Why is the Minister introducing this amendment now when it was not introduced earlier? As Deputy O'Sullivan said, it appears to be very much an afterthought. Who asked to have it introduced? Were represenations made to the Minister that this would strengthen the Bill? The House should be informed.
Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: The Minister, in trying to explain why he introduced the word “control”, said he did so to enhance the co-ordination role of the institute. I do not see how the word “control” could enhance co-ordination. Controlling is totally unrelated to co-ordinating. The two words have different meanings. Control does not enhance co-ordination, as the Minister suggests.
There is a relationship between subsection (2) (b) and subsection (2) (f) because under subsection (2) (b) the institute shall carry out policy as may be specified by the Minister on marine research  and development. Subsection (2) (f) talks about research and development which may be specified by the Minister but which now will be co-ordinated and controlled. To get down to brass tacks, by introducing this word the Minister is taking even tighter control of marine research and development. It is ridiculous, and it is going down a tunnel which is becoming increasingly narrow and further inhibiting the independence of the institute.
The Minister suggested that the word “control” is being introduced to enhance co-ordination and give greater independence, but in essence it will give tighter control to the Minister and the Department in relation to proposals for which funding will be sought. It is about time the Minister came clean on why he is introducing the word “control”. The amendment is not at all as well intentioned as it may appear on the surface. I am somewhat suspicious as to why it is being introduced at this point.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I fail to understand the reasoning of Deputies opposite. During lunch-time I took the opportunity to re-examine the Bill to see where I could help them, and I introduced this amendment. I would say to Deputy Gilmore that surely I am entitled, as Minister, to put down an amendment as do Deputies opposite, without influence from anybody.
Mr. Gilmore: Yes.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): The Minister does not have all the brains; he has to listen to people. I will accept worthwhile amendments from the other side of the House. We all want to improve the Bill. The amendments from the Opposition are not helping me to do that but I am entitled to put down amendments like anybody else.
For the benefit of Deputy Taylor-Quinn, “control” means to take and implement an overview of national marine research in order to prevent the duplication and diffusion of research efforts which has hindered marine  research up to now. This is the point Deputies have been making.
Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Is this the definition of “control” which is in the Oxford or Chamber's dictionary or as per Minister of State Michael Noonan?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I want the protection of the Chair.
Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: An innocent abroad.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): The intention is to empower a national institute, the Marine Institute, to control the overall national approach in the allocation of funds for worthwhile research. This amendment is consistent with the task force views mentioned by Deputy Gilmore earlier. I am going out of my way to facilitate Deputies but they do not appreciate how flexible I am.
Mr. G. O'Sullivan: You could have fooled us, Minister.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: For the information of Deputy Gilmore, the Chair tries to co-ordinate and control, and co-ordination would not be much use unless the Chair also had control. Would the Deputy not think that maybe we have exhausted anything worthwhile to be said here?
Mr. Gilmore: The analogy is a very useful one, because we often get more control than co-ordination in this House. That is very much what I am afraid of.
I have an open mind on the Minister's amendment. I do not know whether the amendment will improve the provision or make it worse. I fear that it will make it worse, that what is proposed is to give the institute not independence from the Minister or the Department of the Marine which is what we were seeking, but a role which will allow them to meddle in the activities of individual agencies. For example, UCC could have proposals for research and development in the area of wave energy. If they went  to the Marine Institute with their proposal and the Department of the Environment had a proposal in the same area, I could understand the institute's role in co-ordinating the two. I understand the concept of co-ordination but I want to understand the concept of control. Will the Minister clarify whether that means that if the institute decide to fund a proposal on wave energy advanced by UCC, the people responsible for that project in Cork will have officials from the Marine Institute coming along to inspect what they are doing? In addition to having to advance the project, will they also be inundated with requests for reports and will people come to look over their shoulders to see what they are doing? Will we witness that kind of bureaucratic rigmarole? I fear that is what is being put in place. The Minister has not satisfied me on that point. He has read the dictionary but he has not explained what “control” will mean in practice. The institute have not been given the role they should be given. Instead they are going to be set up as some kind of policeman for the Department to look at what the existing agencies are doing already and to duplicate it.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): This is my final point of explanation and I hope it will be understood this time. It will simply be a matter of steering our efforts in the proper direction as funds become available from the Exchequer in the first instance. As I said, the function of the institute when established will be to have an overview of the research being carried out and the overall finances and attach priority to certain areas. As I also said, the board will be comprised of experts who are au fait with what is happening. They are the people who will make the decisions. Rather than diminishing their powers, as has been suggested, we are giving them more powers.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 13 to 15, inclusive, not moved.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Amendment No. 16 in the name of Deputy Taylor-Quinn has already been discussed. Is the Deputy anxious to press the amendment or is it being withdrawn?
Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: Will the Minister seriously consider this amendment before Report Stage?
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): No. The matter has already been taken into account.
Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: May I retable the amendment on Report Stage?
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: Provided the Deputy does not put it to a question now.
Amendments Nos. 16 and 17 not moved.
Mr. Gilmore: I move amendment No. 18:
In page 4, between lines 32 and 33, to insert the following subsection:
“(3) The Institute shall have particular responsibilities—
(a) to research the effects on the marine environment of the discharge of radioactive wastes from any source into the Irish Sea, the operation of nuclear generation and reprocessing plants near the Irish Sea and the transportation of nuclear waste through the Irish Sea,
(b) to monitor the discharge of radioactive wastes from any source into the Irish Sea, the operation of nuclear generation and re-processing plants near the Irish Sea and the transportation of nuclear wastes through the Irish Sea, and
(c) to participate in European initiatives in relation to these functions.”.
This is a very important amendment and seeks to give the institute particular  responsibilities. We have spoken at length in this House about the serious threat posed to the security and safety of our people, the environment and our seas by the nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield. Unfortunately, there has been more rhetoric than action. Everybody wants it closed down and people are out-bidding each other in the degree they condemn it, but one of the problems we constantly face is that this State has not seriously researched the consequences of Sellafield. We rely totally on the research being carried out by bodies such as Greenpeace, CORE — the Cumbrian organisation opposed to reprocessing and consultants appointed to work with groups such as Large and Associates. Here, the State most seriously affected by Sellafield has not got its act together. For example, we do not know to what extent our beaches have been polluted; we do not know with certainty to what extent fish life has been affected by Sellafield. We know that a number of developments are taking place. The Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant — THORP — is due to commence operations in 1992. It will be the largest nuclear reprocessing plant in the world and will reprocess waste from all over Europe and as far away as Japan. That nuclear waste will be transported through the Irish Sea without us knowing what condition the vessels are in or the standard of the containers with the result that an additional threat will be posed to this country and its people.
The institute should be given the responsibility to assemble the information required to make the best possible case both to the British Government and to Europe. I recall putting questions to the Minister for Energy at Question Time about the proposed case the Government were to take to Europe on the issue of Sellafield. The Minister for Energy told me in reply that the case could not be taken to the European Court because we did not have enough evidence. Why do we not have enough evidence? The answer is that the Government have not gone out and systematically collected and collated the information. It is no longer good enough that this State has to rely  on the information and research carried out by voluntary organisations who are pitted against the well funded and well provided for, in terms of public relations, British Nuclear Fuels Limited. What I am proposing is that the Marine Institute should now be given a specific responsibility in this area as it is the Irish Sea and the area around it which is most at risk from Sellafield.
I have not mentioned Sellafield specifically in the amendment because, as the House is aware, there are other nuclear installations in Britain particularly on the west coast which pose a threat to us and the Irish Sea. I mention Sellafield in particular because once THORP comes into operation in 1992 nuclear waste from Japan and other countries will be transported through the Irish Sea. What will happen if one of those ships is involved in a collision? There already have been accidents and incidents involving relatively new vessels. This is one very serious matter which the Marine Institute should look at and the Government should take a case to Europe on the issue of Sellafield. I have only the word of the Minister for Energy that the Irish Government do not have sufficient evidence to sustain a case in Europe. I propose that the institute be given the specific job of doing the research and coming up with the information to be used in a European case or simply to persuade the British Government to close Sellafield or, at the very least, to stop reprocessing there.
Mrs. Taylor-Quinn: I support this amendment. It is a very important amendment and one that the Minister, and the Department, must take extremely seriously. The dangers to us from radioactive waste released into the Irish Sea, not to talk of the reprocessing plant that will be in operation in 1992, are mindboggling and frightening. I am worried about the lack of information available to the public in Ireland on what is happening. Any information we have comes from voluntary organisations such as Greenpeace, groups interested in the  general environment and specialists who have done research in that area.
I am particularly concerned about the radioactive reprocessing plant and the carrying of substances in and out of the Irish Sea and around our coast. One wonders what type of protection will be put in place in relation to the carriage at sea of such substances, what accountability there will be to the Irish Government, what information we will receive on the movement of ships that will carry such substances and what powers we will have to prevent the movement of such ships. It is a frightening prospect to think of this substance being moved so close to our country when we have no control over that movement. Yet, if an accident were to occur Ireland would suffer most.
In relation to the quality of vessels we do not know what standards will be imposed. We know there are general world standards but, nevertheless, last year on the west coast serious accidents occurred involving ships of eight to ten years old. The structure of those ships was highly questionable. There is no point in telling us we will have the most modern up to date equipment because in recent times the most modern up to date shipping equipment has proved to be faulty. It failed in circumstances where it should have survived without any difficulty.
Regarding the Irish Sea, and the transportation of nuclear waste through it, we as a nation, and the Government representing us, should adopt a strong stance and object at every level, particularly at European level, to this. The Marine Institute could play a vital role in regard to this. They should have responsibility and power to carry out research on what is taking place, monitor it very closely and give the necessary information to put a strong case to Europe and to the offending Governments, if they can be termed as such. We have been offended by what is happening at Sellafield and the attitude of the British Government.
I have no doubt that within various Departments, particularly in the Department of Energy, there is information  which, if the general public were to become aware of, would result in a rising taking place in Ireland. Perhaps I am wrong but I have an instinctive belief that information is available at present, as a result of Chernobyl fall-out, that is frightening. We have a responsibility to do everything possible to protect our people from any future disasters. We have no way of monitoring the discharge of radioactive waste into the Irish Sea not to mention controlling it. Yet, we all know about the currents around this island and that fish are being caught and consumed by the Irish people. What research is being done on the fish caught which is being consumed by our population? This is a very serious issue and relates very fundamentally to the health of the Irish nation. It must be taken extremely seriously by the Minister. There is an opportunity for the Minister, and his colleague in the Department of Energy, to get together and give the Marine Institute specific responsibility in this area. I urge the Minister to support this amendment.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I am calling Deputy O'Sullivan. I know he will not extend the debate into another Minister's area.
Mr. G. O'Sullivan: I support the amendment. The Marine Institute would be the ideal vehicle to monitor, report on and, hopefully, to act on the nuclear discharge into the Irish Sea. We all agree, and Government spokesmen have said over the past number of years, that Sellafield is the greatest threat to our waters. We should have some way of monitoring the discharge and the movement of nuclear waste through the Irish Sea. Up to now we did not have the scientific knowledge we needed. The Marine Institute will be the best organisation to check and control this the greatest threat to our environment.
Recently, I put down a question to the Minister for Defence regarding nuclear submarines in the Irish Sea and his reply was to the effect that they had a right to travel on the surface through our waters once they were flying their flag. That  is completely unacceptable because the threat from nuclear submarines is under water and not on the surface. The monitoring of the movement of nuclear vessels in the Irish Sea should be part of the brief of the Marine Institute.
This is a very important amendment. The Minister has denied us the right to have the institute involved in the fishing industry. I ask the Minister, even at this late stage to accept the amendment put down by Deputy Gilmore because it is vitally important. The Marine Institute should have a special responsibility in this area.
An Leas-Cheann Comhairle: I am now calling on the Minister of State who has less than half a minute.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): I can operate pretty swiftly. I am opposing the amendment.
Mr. Gilmore: Surprise, surprise.
Mr. Noonan: (Limerick West): As I stated earlier, radioactivity in the Irish Sea continues to be monitored by the Nuclear Energy Board. What has been said for the past quarter of an hour is a matter for the Minister for Energy rather than the Minister for the Marine.
I want to state in conclusion that what is being proposed by Deputy Gilmore in his amendment is already included in the Bill and it will not preclude the marine institute from operating in this respect.
Progress reported; Committee to sit again.
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