Tuesday, 19 February 1991
Dáil Éireann Debate
7. Mr. J. Bruton asked the Taoiseach if he will outline (a) the number (b) date (c) method of initiation and (d) purpose of each meeting between members of the Government and the NESC in accordance with paragraph 3 of the body's constitution and terms of reference in the past five years.
I met the council on 11 June 1987, at their suggestion, for a general exchange of views on economic and social policy issues arising from their report “A Strategy for Development 1986-1990” published in November 1986.
The Minister for the Environment met the council on 17 July 1987 at the council's request to discuss their views as outlined in their report “The Financing of Local Authorities” published in May, 1985.
The constitution of the NESC provides specifically for such meetings between members of the Government and the council and, in my view, such meetings should take place when this is considered desirable by either party.
Mr. J. Bruton: In view of the importance attached to social partnership, can the Taoiseach say why there has not been any meeting between any member of the Government and the NESC in the past two-and-a-half years?
The Taoiseach: Certainly there has been no request from the NESC for any Minister to come before them or discuss any particular issue with them. As far as the Government are concerned, we are quite satisfied with the NESC reports we have received. We never saw any need to discuss them further with the NESC but if the NESC wish to have discussions with any Minister on any issue that opportunity is always readily available.
Mr. J. Bruton: Would the Taoiseach not agree that rather than waiting for  others to come to him, as seems to be his attitude in regard to agriculture as well, he might find it worthwhile to ask his Government Ministers to initiate discussions with the NESC in order that the ongoing implementation of the NESC proposals are monitored in a constructive, face-to-face fashion by Government Ministers and their members?
The Taoiseach: I do not think the Deputy need try to create some confrontation where none exists: the relationship between the NESC and the Government is absolutely satisfactory. As the Deputy may recall, in order to strengthen the NESC approach to our economy I arranged for a person nominated by the European Commission to sit in with the NESC as an observer so that we could co-ordinate our economic thinking and planning with the Commission. There is no particular need at present, nor has there been, for any further elaboration or discussion between Ministers and the NESC. The initiative here would lie primarily with the NESC. If at any time the NESC want any Minister of this Government or myself to come before them on any issue, that will be done immediately.
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